The kids played hard today, and I tried to work hard. I wanted to write today, to work on some talks I have coming up, but it was not a words kind of day. Once I realized this, I stopped fighting myself at the keyboard and freed myself through physical labor. I cleaned up the foster care storage room, which has been a mess since we had four kids come all at once, two of them different age babies, and all of them needing clothes. Then I cleaned up our food storage room, which was still lined with small grocery sacks full of clothes from the clean laundry, as I had pulled summer clothes as the kids wore them. I got those sacks labeled and thrown into the foster care storage closet, and the food storage room was much better. I just need to put together the elliptical machine we were given, but that was not a project for working while five kids are running around.
We put the girls down for naps first, and Nathan took the boys for hair cuts. We finally got permission for Three to get his hair cut, which is a big deal. In Oklahoma, biological parents retain hair cutting rights until all rights are terminated. So no matter how long their hair gets, we can’t cut it all – not even a trim – without consent from the biological parents. It goes back to the Native American issues, so common in our state, but applies to all foster kids in our state. That’s why Five had curls all the way down his back for the first six months he lived with us.
When the boys got back, we put them down for naps. The timing worked out perfectly because the boys usually only sleep half the time as the girls, which means they mostly woke up all at once. They woke in a much better mood than they did this morning, so the afternoon was much easier and more fun. I was grateful, and spent time outside with them working on the garage while they played.
Our garage has been a mess. We moved in the middle of January, and then it was too cold to finish unpacking out there, and then our kids changed when it warmed up, and then cancer happened, and then our kids changed again. Today was the first time I was able to work out there in a long time. It looks much better, and we are much closer to the final bits of unpacking. Mostly it is a lot of garage-work to be a foster parent, because the beds are changing all the time, the size clothes are changing all the time, and the baby furniture comes in and out and back in again. We have a good system down, and I try to keep it organized, but some days it would feel nice, I think to just leave it all on the curb and let people carry the whole lot of it away.
Speaking of being carried away, a sibling (that had been placed with a different relative for different reasons we can’t discuss right now) of one our foster kids got picked up this weekend. We are contracted to keep siblings together whenever possible, so as soon as we heard they were being investigated we began to prepare for this other child. However, when we prayed and pondered and talked about it, the same as we do with every child they call us about, we got a very clear “no”.
I know you think we take in too many foster kids, but you really have no idea how many times or how often we say no.
But this one surprised us because we already have one of the siblings.
But “no” was the answer, and more specifically, we got “danger” when asking about it.
So that’s what we said when we called back the worker, and let them know we had prayed and talked about it, and that we felt that we should not take the sibling after all, but also that we felt we had been warned of danger, and so for them to also please be careful (even though we understand that is their job every day).
They were kind about it, and know that it is ultimately our choice and our limit setting, and so they respected that and accepted our denial. It does mean they might move the sibling we have so that both children can be placed together, but we will see what happens. It was important to us, though, to follow through on the promptings and be wary and wise when instructed to be careful – and say no when that is the answer we received.
Besides that, Three will be leaving in two weeks, we think. He is a cutie, and easy as anything most days. He has been fun to have most of the time. We will miss him, but we are glad he has tons of family where he is going, and we know he needs to go home with them.
We will miss his funny H-filled conversations, though, as his speech is so bad that every syllable starts with H. Nathan can do a really hilarious impression if you ask him!
After all that, the day had gone so well that Nathan made his famous BBQ brisket nachos for the kids, and we had a picnic outside! The nachos have brisket, black beans, corn, some hidden invisible vegetables, and cheese, and he bakes them in the oven.
He even got out the Root Beer, which made the kids squeal with delight because we never have sodas in the house, so they knew it was a real treat. But they had a really rough morning, and such a great afternoon, we really wanted to reward them for fixing their day and making better choices. We all have rough starts on some days, and all make mistakes, but it takes a lot of courage and hard work to really fix a bad day and turn it into a good one. They did it, and we were proud of them!
Not only that, but bath time went so well – except for Six asking for “six sideways braids”, which nearly killed me and is not too fancy, but I tried my best – that the Five and Six, who are now “the big kids”, got to stay up for a movie and oreos! It was another surprise from Nathan, who had been saving them for something special. Five has bath issues because before he came to us, he had only been rinsed off in the Flying J shower once in a while, and Six has bath issues because her hair is so much work, but neither of them fussed at all, and they helped clean up from supper and all the kids’ rooms! I was so proud of them! I also thought it was sweet that Nathan had worked to find gluten free oreos for Five (that I didn’t have to spend the afternoon making from scratch).
It was a super fun day, and my body is exhausted. It is the most exercise, besides walking, I have had since surgery. I really lifted and carried and moved heavy stuff while working in the garage, and my whimpy body can feel it! But it is a good kind of pain, I told Nathan, and I grunted at him for effect. I got a lot done that has been needing done, but was at the bottom of the list when you are still trying to clothe kids or manage all those appointments that come with having newbie-babies.
We would not have made it through this week without so much help from friends. Someone took care of groceries, someone sat with our kids while they were sleeping last night so that we could visit with Nathan’s sister, someone brought us the leftovers from the “veggie market” taken to daycares in town, and Nathan vacuumed the kids’ rooms when the kids cleaned them up and then scampered back outside to play. I got the house dusted, and the floors swept, and the kitchen clean (again), and all that kid-laundry finished (again, again, again, again). My crockpot for after church tomorrow is ready, and all the kids are clean (for the time being) so that tomorrow morning before church won’t be so hard. My car is loaded up with things for Goodwill on Monday morning, and we even got toys sorted through that someone had given us, so we can pass on what is nice but doesn’t fit our home or kids, toss out what is trash, and clean up what will be Christmas – which is always hard to predict because we don’t actually know who will be here. Last year we got Keyssie the week before Christmas! That was some crazy scrambling, especially for me and Nathan, who pretty much won’t enter a store between Halloween and Valentine’s if we can help it.
One of the good things about getting so much done in the garage today was noticing how much easier it was to go through my mom’s things. When I would run across something of hers before, it was almost debilitating. Today it just made me smile, or else I was able to recognize it was something that was just okay to let go. I did not need to hold on to things just because they were hers, not today.
I also found the trash can my father made me when I was a baby, decorated in the wrapping from my mother’s baby shower for me! Of all the treasures to discover, how sweet is that? Now we will have a new diaper pail in the girls’ room, for which all the kids will be grateful since they have to be our runners if we are holding a baby upside down!
Now Nathan and I both have our Primary calling materials ready for tomorrow, and I did the last round of diaper changes while he ran to see his sister quickly and drop some things off over there, so now all is quiet and we can settle in for date night. It’s his pick, so that means a movie night and he has picked “The Monuments Men”. It’s about men who go rescue art from the Nazis, and return it to their owners? He promises it’s a movie about helping Jews, so I will love it. We will see. But it’s amazing because it’s based on a true story, and one of the guys in real life goes to the ward where Nathan’s sister goes.
My reading this morning was in Mosiah 6:
6 And it came to pass that king Mosiah did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him.
7 And king Mosiah did cause his people that they should till the earth. And he also, himself, did till the earth, that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people, that he might do according to that which his father had done in all things. And there was no contention among all his people for the space of three years.
Follow the example of the Savior, be obedient, keep the commandments, work really hard, and be nice enough to squelch (or not start) contention. That was the message today. I tried.