Well, first off, of course there would be a big ole storm blowing in the week we arrive in Houston.
A hurricane’s a-comin!
But it was “only” a tropical storm, and at the last minute turned east of us, so that all we got was a lot of wind and rain… but the children were right when they said it was nothing compared to what we endure all the time in Oklahoma!
The biggest concern for us, actually, was flooding, but it didn’t quite reach where we are. The best plan for us was to just stay put! We missed our beach day, obviously, so I felt bad about not taking the kids when we were so close on NASA day. But really, my children just can’t successfully handle that much in a day, and it was better to end the day well. That meant, though, no swimming at all yesterday, even here in the pool because of the storm, so we had a very long day of spontaneous activities mom could come up with off the top of her head in a hotel room, as if all the inertia I was fighting was just to keep them off the television. They did watch Sesame Street in the morning, and a movie in the evening, so that seemed a fair balance.
We have so far stayed in our budget and eaten the food storage meals we brought with us, except we did use $8 from book money to buy street tacos yesterday as a treat, and they have supplemented snacks with treats from the conference or the hotel staff who are in love with them – which is a relief, and way better than getting kicked out for the chaos! We are trying! They are being so good!
The loudest and most chaotic we have been thus far was last night in the lobby when Mary got to meet her brother for the first time!
We found her brother a few months ago, but only found out yesterday that he lives near Houston, so I took a chance and invited (begged) him to come see her.
Know what he did? He stepped up. Big time. He went and sold plasma for the gas money, and drove in to meet us.
I cried and cried. Mary cried and cried. We all cried and cried!
They are full siblings, meaning the same mom and dad, and the only two full siblings there are. But we found out she also has a half sister in Oklahoma City, as well as a half brother who had a swimming accident that caused a stroke and he drowned when he was sixteen about ten years ago.
Matthew. His name as Matthew. And we got the sister’s name and contact information, and we got to call the aunt who adopted Big Brother when he was 2. We also got tons of names and birth dates and genealogical information! We told him she tested positive for the sickle cell trait, though she doesn’t have the disease because she is half white. But it was information their half-sister needed, and explains some of what her sister’s baby has been experiencing. So I gave them referral information that had been given to me, and that’s so great!
It was such a tender visit!
The other children were so patient, as we talked about how usually Mary is either waiting around every month while they visit their families or playing along but trying not to be intrusive.
Consistently, though, the biological families are so tolerant of all the children, so welcoming once they get to know them, as if they become grandparents and aunts and uncles to all of them. This visit was no different, even as Mary became “Aunt Mary” for the first time… despite Kyrie’s attempts to “babysit” and “hold” the one year old who was bigger than her!
It was so wonderful, and Mary went to sleep with evening prayers about finding good family and family that looks like her. It was precious, and there are no words.
In the meantime, Nathan has flown to Philadelphia for a production of his musical, Broadcast!!!
While we have all missed him very much on this trip, we are so excited for him and so proud of him!
We wish we were there with him! I would love to take the children to Philadelphia. They even have a good hospital for Kyrie there! But it was crazy timing, his production being the same we as our biggest presentations of the year.
I was glad, though, that he got a little respite for self-care after having the children so much on his own while I completed my residency last year.
And, for the same reason, this down time and play time has been very good for me and the children.
Plus, Philadelphia has a temple, so he got to go there and enjoy it without being rushed to trade caregiving times!
He is staying in the Branch President’s home there, and the production paid for his flight, so we are grateful for the provision given – and I sent a book to his host family because we really are so grateful, and that’s all I had to give them as a thank you. City transportation is working for him since he has mad skills from living in New York City, and he got paid from copy work and the recent shows just before he left so he has food money.
What adventures we are having, with sufficient for our needs!
We are enjoying our working vacations, as it will be crunch time on our work for the group homes when we get back. We also have five more books in editing, plus five more designed with the children that need to move forward ward. And this Saturday is exciting because the American Library Association will announce the Book of the Year for 2016, and we are finalists in three categories, which is pretty rare! So that’s exciting, and it means we get a little foil sticker on our book forever even if we don’t actually win.
Our family love stickers!