Saturday, March 23, 2013

Compelled


What a relief it is to know
I’m a slave to Christ
Of all the masters I have known
I’m compelled to live this life
Free for you
I’m on the other side of something
I’m on the other side of something
I have a new hope that blows away
The small hopes I knew before
And at the end of the day I am yours
And I am compelled
You’ve written on my very heart
Where no man can legislate
The law of your love has taken hold
With your holiness and grace
There’s no mistake
I’m on the other side of something
I’m coming out the other side, the other side
I have a new hope that blows away
The small hopes I knew before
And at the end of the day I am yours
And I am compelled
I am drawn and driven, I am compelled
You have written it, I am compelled
You live in me
And I can’t help myself

That's the song that first popped up on Pandora when I clicked on the "Sara Groves" station, and what a great song it is to hear.  My first thought was, "Wow, good one, God."  Then I began to wonder how many people would scoff at my attributing the selection of a song to pop up semi-randomly on an internet radio station to a deity's choice.  
"If there is a god," they might say, "why would he/she/it be choosing a song just for you when there are so many more important things to attend to?"  
To which I can only reply that I will not take the cold comfort of your agnosticism away from you.  If it pleases you to imagine a world where everything is chance, go for it.  
But I believe what it says in the Bible, that God works all things together for our good.  And if playing a certain song at just a certain moment is going to cause me to remember Him and think about Him and not myself, then that counts.  God is not bound by time, space, or human restraints.  He can be everywhere at all times working all things together in ways that are beyond the wisest man's comprehension.  And for that, I'm grateful.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pottygate

*Please note: if you do not have young children, you may want to skip this post.  It is going to be tediously centered on the topic of potty-training.  You have been warned.*

We last made a full-scale effort to potty train Ruby shortly after she turned 2.  It did not go well, so we gave up and decided to try again later. Now, it seems, is the later.  Today was day one of our weeklong concentrated effort.

I got an empty salsa jar and a bag of marbles, and told Ruby that every time she sits on the potty, she can add one marble to the jar.  Every time she pees in the potty, she gets to add three marbles, and when she poops in the potty, five marbles.  When the jar is filled with marbles, we will take a special trip to the zoo.

Of course, her face lit up: "We going to the ZOOOOO!" she crowed.

"Yes, but only when you fill up the jar with marbles. So, do you want to sit on the potty and put a marble in the jar?"

"No."

Sigh.

She did, in fact, sit on the potty about six or seven times today, and she did pee in it once!  The rest of the accidents were almost all on hardwood floor, thankfully.  I'm quite grateful that we have a washing machine on the premises, as we had a lot of wet/soiled clothes to wash today.  I did not put a diaper on her except at naptime and bedtime (and she stayed dry during her nap...as soon as she woke up I plunked her on the potty and the full bladder was emptied in the right place, with much celebrating and cheering).  She was responsible for cleaning up her puddles, which she did grudgingly (leading to the another phrase I didn't think I'd ever utter: "When Mommy pees on the floor, Mommy will clean it up.  But when Ruby pees, Ruby cleans up!")

This is going to be a long week, yo.  I can only hope that something clicks for her.  Developmentally, I think she has the necessary skills to use the potty.  She just doesn't like to take the time to go when she needs to go.  Ruby is a single-minded little gal in some ways, and when she is in the middle of playing, the last thing she wants to do is go sit on a potty.

The whole thing just makes me wish I had ignored the pediatricians advice back at her 12 and 15 month check ups.  Back then, we would put Ruby on the potty whenever we went to the bathroom, and often she would pee in it.  I asked her pediatrician if now was a good time to pursue potty training, and she said, "Hmmm, not unless you REALLY want it to happen now.  She'll probably just regress later if you try to force it this young." I mean, the good doctor has seen hundreds of kids, and she probably knows what she's talking about...but I'm sort of kicking myself now, because what if she had clicked with it then before it had become this battleground issue to her?  I'm thinking that I'll be trying Max out on the potty just as soon as he can walk.  Can't hurt to try, right?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What a week...

...and it's only Wednesday!  However, it feels like Friday, because it was our last day of school before Spring Break!  I'd do a jig about that except that I'm too tired and sick.  When I'm teaching full time my body seems to hold off on sickness until the moment break starts, and then I inevitably spend the first portion of break with a cold or whatever. I'm not teaching full time (at 60% now instead of the previous 20%) but it certainly feels full time, and I guess my body is responding accordingly.
It was a rough week, particularly yesterday.  While I can't and won't go into specifics for the sake of privacy, the short version of the story is that I got reamed out by a parent for supposedly being mean, harsh, and critical to her student and basically ruining the student's life.  This parent was so mad that she told her friends about it, and one friend wrote an irate letter to the editor--presumably about what a horrible teacher I am--and has threatened to send it in to the local small-town paper, which has a policy of printing EVERYTHING (because it can often be a slow news area since it is a local paper only and does not publish even news about Portland, let alone national or global news).
Sooo yeah, that was a fun meeting.
I'm thankful that I prayed before and during the meeting to keep calm and hear the woman's heart and not just her words, and I could tell that she was just a big mama bear who felt that I had taken a swipe at one of her cubs.  As a mama bear myself, I could sympathize with her and apologize sincerely to both her and her child for the hurt I had caused, though it was completely unintentional.  I hope that some progress was made in the meeting towards trying to help the student understand that I care about them and want to see them grow.
But I have to admit that I am really dreading this letter to get published, because it is just plain unfair.  First of all, it was written by someone who does not know me at all (a friend of the parent) and who made no effort to get in touch with me to hear my side of the story.  Second, although I have not read the letter, I can safely assume that it is vituperative and possibly even vicious, given the way the angry parent was describing it.  It just seems to unfair that one adult would slander another without even finding out the whole story first.  I am planning to write a rebuttal if and when the letter gets published, and I have had several colleagues say that they support me.
And yet, I have to give a rueful shake of my head and say, "You're a funny one, God."  Why? Because something that I've become quite aware of since upping my hours and responsibilities at school has been how hard it can be for me to do things which I know will not make me a favorite.  I like to be liked, and I hate to be disliked. I know some people out there get a rush from being feared and even disliked as long as they maintain their power, but I am not one of those people.  I'm a pleaser, and having a whole town full of people possibly displeased with me is a very unhappy thought.  But it's also largely out of my control and as they say, "What other people think of me is none of my business."  That is one hard adage to live up to, though!  It's a good time to be saying the Serenity Prayer, attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr:
God, grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.  
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Midnight Mischief

Well, technically 2:27 AM mischief.  I was just turning over and trying to get comfortable in bed when I heard a cheerful little voice ring out, "GOOD MORNING!!!! GOOD MORNING!!!"
Uh-oh.
I scurried out of my room and sure enough, Ruby was standing at the baby gate which--mercifully--is the only thing to keep her in her room at night so far, seeing as she's figured out how to take the baby doorknob boggle thingies off of the knobs.  She had dressed herself in a different outfit than what we sent her to bed in, and she was just looking as bright eyed and bushy tailed as could be.  I told her that it was not time to get up, and she replied, "I'm just a little bit hungry!"  She hadn't eaten much of her dinner, so I gave her a banana and milk and crackers.  Now I must get her back into bed, a la Cindy Lou Who.  Here's hoping she goes down easily without awakening her brother.
What a little scamp!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Gosh Dang It, I'm Obeying!"

Ruby thinks mittens make great socks.
The title is a direct quote from my almost-three-year-old daughter. She was having a rather hard time doing what she was told, mostly because she was overtired from not taking a nap.  I told her to pick up her stuffed animals and put them in her bed.  She ignored me and went on with whatever she was doing.  I sang my verison of the "uh oh song" (a Love and Logic idea), which went something like, "Uh oh! Ruby's not obeying..." and Ruby immediately snapped to attention and said, "Obeying! Gosh dang it!  Gosh dang it, I'm obeying!" as she scurried to put her stuffed animals on the bed.

It struck me as ruefully funny.  Of course, I'm a little bummed that my two year old already knows and uses the phrase "gosh dang it" (although it is better than the alternative). But it really reminded me of what my attitude towards God is so often like.  God tells me through His Word what I should and should not do.  I don't get around to it and continue to do my own thing (which, as any parent can tell you, is as much a form of disobedience as an outright, defiant "NO!").  Then, as I sense the Holy Spirit giving me the divine "uh oh song", I grumblingly comply with obedience...usually.  I'm so thankful that God is infinitely more patient a parent than I am, and that He has put up with centuries of rebellious and disobedient children, always extending them grace upon grace and chance upon chance.  I hope that someday I will have grown and matured past spiritual toddlerhood, but a lot of days, well, that's still where I feel I am.

I can take heart about this though: as they say,
I ain't what I want to be
and I ain't what I ought to be
and I ain't what I'm gonna be,
but thank you God,
I ain't what I used to be!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring is Coming

We've had a string of sunny days with mild (at times even warm!) weather and it has me thinking spring-y thoughts.  Specifically, my mind always seems to turn to planting things.
This seems normal enough.  After all, spring is the time when gardeners go out and get their seeds started in greenhouses or maybe even out in the garden beds if the last frosts are out of the way.
But I am not a gardener.  At least, not yet.  I am TERRIBLE with plants.  Have you ever heard that advice, "Before you have a baby, get a pet.  Before you get a pet, take care of a plant?"  Well, I'm glad that my ability to care for pets and babies has not been in any way related the way I take care of plants; otherwise I'd be in jail.  I'm the worst plant mom ever.  Plants regularly meet their end under my non-watchful eye.  I'm pretty sure this is because plants do not make noise when they need something.  If they meowed or squalled or did something to get my attention, I would attend to them.  But as it is they fade into the background and after awhile they are no more.  I've even killed--by negligence--so-called "air plants" that thrive in deserts and require next to no water.
Sigh.  Every year I tell myself that it will be different this time.  This time I really WILL remember to water.  Really!  And yet every year I find myself plantless once again.  Last summer I planted marigolds along the path to our house; only one came up, and even that was a miracle, because I think I remembered to water them once.  Maybe twice.
A few summers ago I did have a modestly successful gardening experience.  I was in a house with no yard to speak of but a lovely backyard patio and I grew several containers of cherry tomatoes, and they yielded a nice crop.  Maybe I'll shoot for that again this year, since we probably won't live in this house long enough to harvest anything planted in the yard.  Maybe, too, my kids can help me remember to water things.  If I made watering Ruby's job, the plants would never be under-watered, that's for sure.  Drowned plants might be more likely.
It's all very ironic because I come from a fine line of green thumb gardenistas.  My grandma has amazing flower and vegetable gardens, as does my mom.  Plants just love them.  They are amazing gardeners.  My mom always had to move all the houseplants into one room in the summers that I stayed home to housesit so I wouldn't forget (as much) to water them.
Anyway, those are my musings of the evening.  I love the smell of potting soil, I love the promise held by those racks of seeds in the stores, and I do love eating fresh grown produce or looking at fresh cut flowers.  It's all the in-between part that I haven't mastered.
Yet.  This year, though, THIS year...well, it's going to be different. :)