We got lots of emails asking us about our literature for black history month… here are some of our favorites:
The children were asked by Rush Limbaugh to review his children’s history book series Rush Revere!
We have two sets of the books and one set of audiobooks to give away to someone who likes, comments, and shares this video on our Facebook Page for Keeping Kyrie!
That’s three winners for this giveaway!
Watch to the very end for a surprise Kyrie appearance, and then comment on why your family needs this set of books!
We played with Microscopes today!
“Keeping Kyrie” is in the engineering studio this week for the audiobook editing, but we aren’t waiting around… We have finished the first draft of a third of the next book! It will soon be ready to send to our editing friends!
The big reveal: what’s the next book?
Are you as excited as we are?
Love is in the air on our street.
We caught a certain eight-and-a-half year old delivering love notes to the boy across the street.
All of this was enough of a development for this Mama to declare an “amnesty lunch”, which is where you get a Mama date and talk about all kinds of awkward things. Anything is fair game, and no one gets in trouble for anything “confessed” or any questions asked. We have them regularly, as I want them familiar with coming to us with questions and problems – while the problems are still small – especially as they slowly (too quickly) turn into pre-teens.
We also have a lot of conversations about the kinds of choices their biological parents made, and the consequences from those choices. We want them to see patterns so they are able to choose differently. They are asking more direct questions as they get older, wanting to know more, and about us, too, not just their biological parents. Sometimes it’s a little confessional for all of us!
It’s been just the last few months these conversations are becoming more and more amongst themselves without prompting from us, requested by them, and far more deep than superficial.
They are growing up so fast!
There is good news today! Isn’t that a nice change of pace?
First, the children came home! I mean to say, today was the first day with our new nanny whose only job is to pick up the younger three children in the morning, take them to school, pick them up in the afternoon, and bring them home again. That’s all.
But it’s kind of terrifying to send your children in someone else’s car, right? I mean to say, even besides my dead mom and all, I grew up in the Adam Walsh generation. You just don’t let your children talk to strangers. Ever.
Excepting if they pass a gazabillion background and fingerprint checks, and you have their license and car tag information, and they seem really legit nice and not creepy-fake, right?
That doesn’t make it any less scary. She was very kind, and very patient with us, as we asked her to text us when she got to the school and when she was on her way back to us, so we would know, and we talked to the school to confirm when they got there and when they left. Not that we want to stalk her so much as make sure we aren’t more foolish parents than we already are. It’s a pretty real threat most days, you know.
The other good news maybe only matters to me. But I can carry my clipboard again! At my evening shift job, where I do psych assessments in the ER, I have a clipboard that I carry because I never know when I might need to put a legal psych hold on someone to hold them for treatment, or do a safety plan, or share resources, or help set up an ambulance transfer to another facility. My office is in a different part of the building, so there are some things I have to just keep with me in case I need them right away.
But I haven’t been able to carry it for six weeks because that’s how bad I hurt. This is the part where you roll your eyes because once again I was doing too much, or not asking for help, or enduring pain when I should have been resting. But it was a brand new job, and I really needed to keep it! So instead of giving up, I made my coworkers crazy (we share desks) by changing the settings on the chairs all the time to support my ribs and back as much as possible, and gave up on the clipboard and just did my best. I don’t know how I got through the last few months, but I have come through on the other side again, and am starting to feel better.
In fact, I am starting to be able to do some stretching and some light yoga again, even though I am not yet cleared for the gym. My legs are enjoying walking, and even after a day with the children my back is just tired but not hurting.
Except for that time Kyrie tried to use me as a trampoline. That hurt.
So yeah, it turns out hospital work is pretty rough on your body. Working at two hospitals is just ridiculous, really, and I will be glad when my chaplaincy residency is completed and I only have one job.
Well, I will be sad, too, because we have a really tight group and I adore my colleagues. But it will be a relief to just focus on one job. Hopefully, I will be applying things I have learned about myself and about the world, and be a way better therapist. I am grateful for the healing process CPE training (Clinical Pastoral Education training) brought me after the hard things we have been through; specifically, the Wednesday class days that are eight hours of group therapy every week have been so intense and painful, all while the hospital shifts bring a more complete healing as we continue to serve others. I have loved that service was part of my healing, and I know it’s part of what pulled me out of what could have drowned me if I had stayed focused on myself and how hard life was. It really helped me snap out of it, and I feel way more myself than ever before. That’s a pretty good feeling, even if 8 hours of therapy every week is exhausting.
I see evidence of it in other areas in my life, too. Like this week four different people have contacted me about a new hot shot job opening up soon. I’m a great fit for it in many ways, and the pay is decent but the hours long. The job would look really good on paper, and make my name extra fancy cool.
Except that’s not who I am, or what I want. Not at all.
I just want a job that I enjoy, where I work with people I love, and get fair pay for hard work, and then I want to go home.
Because really, all I want is to be home.
Practically, that’s not possible right now, but working this evening shift is pretty close to that (after residency is finished), where most of my work hours is after the children have gone to bed.
Plus I love the ER work. It’s really my favorite.
And right now I have a really kind boss, and good people I work with, and that is as hard to find as anything.
And not only is my pay okay, but my insurance is free because of some kind of social justice program that qualified my family for free insurance. How amazing is that?
So, hot shot job or not, I’m not sure they could beat the experience of this job, even if no one will ever know my name or understand what exactly my team does here.
We save lives. That’s what we do.
So I have thought about it a lot, and talked with Nathan a lot, and prayed about it a lot, and while it’s a brilliant opportunity, I just don’t think it would make me any happier than this job. Nathan doesn’t think I would actually enjoy it once I was in the position and doing that work, and he thinks I would be gone more time than they say, and so maybe even resent it because of so badly wanting to be home with the children. When I pray about it, I do not feel disapproval for asking, but I get a very clear no, and I’m okay with just taking that without needing to find out why.
I really like and believe in who I work for, and I really enjoy the work I do. I love my coworkers, appreciate my schedule, and think that it fits me in many ways. I know that may not last forever, but for today, today, it is good and right and as it should be. I have decided not to even apply for the other job.
And I hope, crossing my fingers praying hard hope, that the bizarre nanny sponsorship situation buys Nathan enough time he is able to work more, too, after these months of being so supportive of my calling.
We are excited to go home, and to settle back into our yellow house.
We are even excited to not have any baby stuff in our bedroom for the first time in four years!
We are excited to be home, together, all of us, and to rest, and to play, and to just be.
That’s what is worth it to me.
If you read our post yesterday about going to the movies, you will know that’s pretty much how going to church went today.
We were there before church started, but had the usual struggle for who gets to sit by Mama.
This is always ironic to me, because by the end of church no one wants to be by Mama because it means you are in trouble.
Happy parenting, right?
Except not, because how much trouble can you get in at church?
Barrett spent the hour telling us he forgot sign language, so could he please just go on to primary class, and Anber spent the hour trying to crawl on Nathan – but only when she was jealous of Kyrie, not when she wanted her own actual cuddles. Kirk was desperate to study for his talk for FHE tonight, but kept dropping his scriptures because it’s really hard to hold on to such a giant book with just one hand. Mary thinks she is getting too cool for the Friend magazine, but it’s not quite time yet for New Era. Really she just says that in hopes for crayons, which is not a bad idea except that Alex will use them as army men (thank you, autism). Alex, of course, in his effort to try so hard to be good, freaks out about everything wrong that everyone else does, which leaves him jumping up and down off the pew and standing and talking and doing all the things that actually get him in trouble when really he was being great just before that. They are so funny, so normal, and trying so hard!
Kyrie managed to stay with us for the entirety of sacrament meeting today, for the first time since she woke up as a toddler. We did take one bathroom break when she announced very loudly that she needed to “GO POTTY NOW MAMA!” But she did make it, all the way to the closing song, where she stood up on the pew with one of her churchey board books, shouting the “ABC” song at the top of her lungs the whole time we are singing the closing hymn. She was very participatory.
There was also some commotion most of the way through the service, as she has learned – just this morning, just in time for church – how to get her shoes back on. She has been able to kick them off for while, but she has finally figured out how to get them back on as well. We also had some baby drama when she opened her lunch bag (since we start at 1pm right now, we let her sleep through lunch before we get to church, or she wouldn’t make it at all) and discovered it was full of peppers and squash and eggplant from our lunch kabobs. She shouted, “Mama! What is this stuff?! Why did you give me this stuff?! Don’t you have any cereal?!” as if we don’t pack her the same lunch we eat on Sundays most weeks.
But it’s all okay, because Nathan and I got sit for an entire hour during Sunday School, and just snuggle and learn about and discuss important grown-up things in adult language (without getting slimed in process), getting both rested and refreshed all in one class. It was lovely!
I even made it back to nursery in time to take Kyrie to the bathroom again, and she went, and was very proud of herself! It was perfect, too, because snack time was a great motivator for going back into class. She stayed dry all day today!
She took her braces off in the car, so she didn’t have those, but she was wearing her hearing aid. She spent nursery time running around and playing and singing and talking so much! It is so good to see her healthy and happy!
She did well enough that I even got to go to Relief Society for the fourth time in the whole last year. I was so glad, though it is humbling to be in that room of women that have cared well for our family when I haven’t even seen them or gotten to know them because this was residency year or Kyrie was sick. This ward, for nine months, has been such a lovely host to our family, and I am sorry that I missed out on getting to know them more. I adore the people here, and am so grateful to their kindness to us, but was not able to build deeper friendships by doing much for them. It was an all together different experience than any other ward.
Turns out, primary was an all together different experience than any other day, as well.
When I saw Alex after church, I got this:
Um, Mama? Remember how this morning we decided that Family Home Evening this week would be about language? Well, I will have the courage to tell you the truth that I can sign up for sharing my testimony on that one because I held it in long as I could all primary, but finally blew up a cuss word in front of everybody.
This is a true story: we talked this morning about what we wanted to do for Family Home Evening tonight, and the children decided language. The second graders all have a copy of For The Strength of Youth in their scripture totes, and we have gone through it several times, but that section was one we hadn’t done in awhile.
Then apparently, and allegedly, another child in primary was not behaving during sharing time. Alex said, “I was getting my autism overstimulated, but I was trying so hard!” Finally, the other child knocked over his chair and hit Alex (or something like that), and Alex had endured enough and lost his temper and shouted, “WHAT THE CRAP?!” at the other child…. right there in the middle of sharing time, in front of all the other children.
Needless to say, he got pulled out of primary and taken to Nathan.
I don’t know why they took him to Nathan instead of me, except maybe being used to Nathan being there and not knowing when I am there or not (except that I had helped Anber pray earlier).
Regardless, Alex felt legitimately terrible, and knew he was in big trouble, but had the “courage to confess” after many “Tell her the truth! Tell her the truth!” self-psych-ups muttered under his breath.
I was proud of him for doing so.
I just listened, and let him tell me the story, and watched as he cried some authentic tears. That’s a big deal in Alex world. But he processed really well, and with insight, though maybe also because he had already talked with his teacher and with Nathan by the time I got my hands on him, er, I mean, by the time it was my turn.
We don’t know where he picked it up. It’s not a word Nathan and I use, and the nannies don’t start until tomorrow, and he’s not in school right now. But we talked about it had to already be in his heart somehow, or it wouldn’t have come out of his mouth. We also talked about times we have lost our own tempers when he wouldn’t stop doing something over and over or was hurting us, and how we felt bad about losing our tempers and shouting at him (that part we do confess), but that we have been trying really hard, and talked about how we are all getting better at yelling (it was a 2016 mission project at our house, for everyone), and that’s way happier than yelling just because we lose our tempers.
And again, emphasizing that regardless of where the “c-word” as it is now called in our home, no matter where it got picked up, it wouldn’t come out if he hadn’t thought about it or already tried it out or filed it away as something to use sometime.
So for family home evening, Alex had a new testimony to share, which was redirected a little as it began with “I have a testimony of why we don’t use the c-word in primary”. Because then the younger children wanted, of course, to know what the c-word was, and Nathan told them it was a crude word for “poop”. Alex then freaked out because he hadn’t realized that, and was beyond embarrassed he had talked about poop in the middle of primary.
Trying to refocus our lesson, I gave them each a spoonful of lemon juice, and we talked about “bitter words”. Then I gave them an empty spoon, which was the same as just not-saying-bad-words. Better, though, was a spoonful of honey, which is saying kind words – that are also true, not just fake compliments, which we had to clarify, as they thought a string of compliments would get them more honey.
We are trying guys. I’m sorry my two year old shouted out “vagina” during sacrament meeting last week, and my eight year old shouted out “crap” during primary this week. Really, I am mortified.
But I promise there is some honey in us, too. It’s a miracle Kyrie can breathe well enough to shout out anything, do you remember that? And if you knew Anber when she was a baby, you would know it is just as much a miracle that she wants any cuddles at all. Barrett may be wiggling and sometimes napping on the floor, but he is quiet and staying in the pew with us, and that is progress. Mary thinks she is seventeen already, which scares me to death, but she is picking up the language needed to share her sweet smile with us, and that’s more than we got out of her a year ago. Alex may have made a mistake today, but he was honest about it and apologized sincerely and chose his own consequences and served them without complaint.
And me and Nathan? We stuck with the honey. We let consequences fall naturally, but stayed calm for the rest. We let the older children work out their own issues, and stayed focused on the nurturing piece for all of them. We made sure we came full circle to the increase in love phase, even though it was exhausting.
“Because when life gives you lemons,
you choose the honey.”
~ Alex, age 8
From the outside in, our life has got to seem pretty crazy sometimes.
Maybe most families feel that way, as we all learn together.
But we really do hold out faith that there is purpose and reason behind all this hard work we are trying.
Even moving to Bartlesville had purpose. We wanted to be closer to Nathan’s parents, and I had work there, and now in hindsight we understand half our children were waiting for us there. We had to move. When we were prompted about it, and acted on it, everything happened so quickly! We closed on our house in Bartlesville in less than a month after finding it. So insane!
Coming to Tulsa was worth it, we decided, because if nothing else it would mean saving me two hours on the road each day, which I normally wouldn’t mind but that’s the two hours before and after school that’s playtime with the children. They wouldn’t have seen me at all if we hadn’t have moved here, and moving here meant getting them all into the sign language school and the little ones into the sign language preschool. That was worth it.
Now it feels just as crazy to be moving, finally, back to where we started, to settle in back home until we know what happens next. It’s like we were sent on a mission, and now having completed it, are getting released and sent back home. It will be an adjustment, and hard work, and even life there will be a little different just because life is never the same. We will miss our friends in Bartlesville, even though we will still see them sometimes, and we will miss our friends and some of the fun things of Tulsa.
But we know our purpose: doing what Heavenly Father asks us, and becoming a family.
This all really hit home this weekend, as I enjoyed my first days off – both Saturday and Sunday, for both hospitals – for the first time since October. We already had the house cleaned up – intentionally (and finally), so that the weekend could be play and rest and not just more work. We had such fun today!
Well, in our normal disaster plan kind of way, where everything we plan is a disaster.
Like, the funny idea that since the children have been waking at 6 like clockwork, but for the last six weekends have taken themselves to the bathroom and gone to the playroom, that we could assume we would be able to sleep late, shower, and then greet them all rested and comfy.
You know, because you assume that if you are rested and comfy that you will be nicer or somehow parenting will be easier.
That’s false, by the way.
But it also doesn’t take into the equation that your two year old will be hunting you the way your uncle hunts deer, or that she will be camouflaged behind the shower curtain, so that just as you are ready to start brushing your teeth, she jumps out and shouts, “Here I am! I got you, Mama!”
Nearly scared me to death, she did.
Or like how you have a great plan of getting everyone cleaned up and showered and dressed for the day, and then working together to make a lovely brunch because you have lunch plans later.
Excepting then you realize you are out of milk, and out of eggs, and out of everything except a tomato and an apple.
So you tell them you didn’t say “brunch”, you said “buffet”.
And everyone gets two kinds of dry cereal, as if it’s a game on purpose, plus bites of apple and a tomato, which you decorate on the cereal into little monster faces with raisins because that somehow excuses everything away.
I would thank Nathan for the run to the grocery store today, excepting that I know he volunteered on purpose to get some peace and quiet!
Or like how you plan on treating the children to a movie at an actual theater, because they have been so good and surprises are always fun and you have free vouchers to use, so what a treat, right?
And a brown-girl movie is still showing, so that’s perfect, right?
Even when everyone is actually in the van on time, and you can be on time somewhere for a change, right?
Excepting then it takes forty-five minutes at the snack station, and so you are late to the movie anyway.
Why forty-five minutes, you ask? Well, let me tell you.
First, because there was a line even before our eight people showed up.
Then, because there are eight of us.
Also, because there were eight of us who had a fake breakfast and so a fake lunch seemed like a good idea, since it was all covered anyway.
And it was a bonus because it was one of those theaters that still has hot dogs, right?
Except they only had three of them.
And they didn’t know how to serve them to us without buns (for Nathan and Alex).
And so they wanted to give everyone else nachos, because they felt bad about being confused.
Which is great, except that it takes a long time to make eight nacho bowl things.
Especially when the children had already turned in their coupons for the kids meal of a drink with popcorn in those little bucket tray things.
If that didn’t all take long enough, then there was the loading up. By the time it was all sorted out, we pretty much had two meals per person, and all the children had armloads full of coats.
I should have gotten pictures.
So what was there to do, except hang their coats on their heads by the hoods, stick hot dogs in their overall pockets, hand them each a popcorn and drink tray, and hope for the best?
Then there is the whole piece about our children not having television at home, plus all their special needs, plus actually just being normal children as well, and so trying to get us seated with all of us having our hands full, while the children were frozen mid-step staring at the giant screen? Well, let’s just say it was another piece of the disaster plan.
Nathan led the kids into our aisle, which was halfway down and in front of everyone else because that was the only place there were enough seats together.
None of the children followed him because they were all staring at the screen.
He had Kyrie on his shoulders, and she was shouting “my drink! my drink! My drink!” only because she saw a straw, or eight, and assumed all of them were for her.
We had to nudge the children down the aisle, at which point they all remained standing simply because their hands were full, they couldn’t get their coats off their heads to sit down, and all of them are too small to be able to get the cushion seats down and scoot back while holding anything.
That’s when I heard Alex shout, “Hey, Lady! Can you help me?” and some poor stranger just in front of us, all by herself, held his popcorn and drink and hot dog while he took his coat off his head.
Except then he didn’t know where to put it, and didn’t think to help his nearby siblings, so he still just stood there.
Anber froze halfway into the row, already sucked back into the screen, so there were not enough places for the rest of us to sit, so I was stuck standing in the main aisle and unable to help anyone with my free elbows not holding anything.
Kirk didn’t see Anber stop, and so ran into her, with his popcorn and drink he was carrying with one hand, which sent clear soda over her head and down her shirt, which made her scream and turn and punch him in the stomach. That knocked him down to the ground, where he was stuck in full blown cerebral palsy cheater position with his legs splayed to one side of him, and his stronger arm on the wrong side to be any help. “I’m stuck! I’m stuck!”
Meanwhile, Alex still stood frozen, with his coat hanging off to the side in the air, except that was in front of Barrett’s face so he couldn’t see the screen (all of them still standing in front of the people in the row behind us), so he started to cry. Trying to get away from Alex and get to me, he started “whining and signing” and asking for help, except when he turned toward me, he ran into Mary, who was still walking into the row but looking at the movie screen.
Barrett walked right into her nachos, spilling her chips all over the floor, and cheese down his hair, face, and overalls.
“YOU GOT CHEESE ON MY BIRTHDAY BOOTS!” Barrett screamed!
“YOU MY FOOD SPILLED FLOOR WHAT?!” Mary signed back, her hands flying like puppet shapes in front of the big screen.
While I was crawling on the floor to part the waters-of-cheese enough for Barrett and Mary to get to the seats, Nathan had Kyrie, who was excited about popcorn and a drink, but started hoarding all the food. She nabbed his hot dog and started on it, and then demanded her own theater seat like the big kids. Except they didn’t have those plastic booster seats like some places do, so he set her down in the big chair next to him, holding the theater seat down with his knee.
Except that’s when – because all of this was happening at once – that’s when Kirk fell, and so Nathan reached over to help rescue Kirk, which let his knee off Kyrie’s seat cushion just long enough for her to fly backwards in a cloud of popcorn, and slip down the back of the chair to the floor, where she started shouting, “No! No! I’m stuck! I’m stuck! I’M NOT HIDING HERE!”
That’s the same time Anber decided to just take a flying leap into her chair, except she missed, but only because her coat got caught on the arm rest next to her, which whiplashed Anber sideways, landing her tray of popcorn and the last of the sodas in the purse of the lady sitting behind us.
This is our life.
We did, eventually, get everyone in seats, with some form of something to eat and drink, and coats in a pile in the chair next to me as a safety cushion for Kyrie, who sat on me anyway because no way was she going back in one of those theater seats.
I don’t remember anything about the movie.
It took awhile to clean up after ourselves, and then all the slime off ourselves, once it ended.
The children loved the movie, cleaned up without prompting or complaint, and we headed back out to our family van to drive home. Nathan said nothing about the disaster, and I said nothing about the disaster. I had plenty of things to say, plenty of corrections I could make, and plenty of threats I thought about making.
Except the children were just happy. They had a grand adventure, loved the movie, and loved getting the rare treat of a movie and snacks. They didn’t remember the pieces of the experience that Nathan and I remembered.
And we were able to let it go, at least in front of them, though I still had to write it here to personally process the horror and hilarity of it all.
We got home, and I still made home made taco shells and tacos for dinner. We still played legos. We still played in the backyard. We still read our books for the day (“Baby Flo” and “Frederick Douglas”). We still came up with the energy to let Mary make our dessert in her oven she got for Christmas, and we still read scriptures, and still had prayers at bedtime. We still acted like monkeys as we tucked them in, making monkey sounds and tickling to end our day well. We still sang primary songs to settle them in, and we still told them we loved them as we turned out the lights and left them to sleep.
The purpose is the plan of happiness, even when it feels like so many moments are disasters.
So maybe the life we have had has been really hard, or super intense, or even crazy, but it has also been intentional.
Maybe it’s all my fault, this mess we are in with these little ones, but I promise it was the right thing for us, even if it might not have been your style or your way or what you would choose.
It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life…
Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall…
Modern revelation shows that our first parents understood the necessity of the Fall. Adam declared, “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God” (Moses 5:10).
Note the different perspective and the special wisdom of Eve, who focused on the purpose and effect of the great plan of happiness: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11). In his vision of the redemption of the dead, President Joseph F. Smith saw “the great and mighty ones” assembled to meet the Son of God, and among them was “our glorious Mother Eve” (D&C 138:38–39).
I’m not to any kind of “glorious” state yet, and we are pretty much still a mess.
But we are trying, and I think it counts.
Even if we ended up missing most of the movie just trying to help all the children get in their seats and get them the (bits of) snacks that they needed.
So while we may offer our apologies to the people having to sit in the row behind us, we don’t apologize for trying.
Because we made it. We made it to the movies. If you ask the children tomorrow, about the movie they saw today, they will tell you all about it and the popcorn they had.
They won’t remember that we landed in our seats like the long lost family of the Three Stooges.
Getting back to Heavenly Father is kind of like that: we’re going to make it.
That’s what the whole plan is about, and why it brings us happiness.
We just might be covered in cheese when we get there.