Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One month here

We have been in our new home for a month now. We are all unpacked and everything has a place, for the most part. School starts next week and we are ready for it!

Tyler is enjoying his job, although not the commute. Our evenings are precious now that they are so short in family time. 

I am trying to get all the dr appointments made and following up with referrals and scheduling therapies and getting medicine picked up. There is so much to coordinate and sometimes I spend hours on the phone, which is emotionally overwhelming. I forget how much there is to do when we move to a new place. I needed a change, so I got a haircut! The a/c going out on our van was a deciding factor. 

Anna is back to practicing the piano. She still hates it, but I have developed a new practice plan. She has a new hymn assigned to her each week. A week later I have her play me the hymn. If I can sing along with it, she gets assigned a new hymn. If not, she loses electronic privileges for the following week. It has been quite motivating to her! And in the end, I get what I want: for her to be proficient in playing the church hymns. 

Keith is obsessed with the movie Monsters vs Aliens now, which my good friend, Amie, let us borrow. 

Iryna went to Activity Day Camp this last week. She had a BLAST! I took her up to the church to carpool with other girls. One day, we showed up and there were some girls standing in a semicircle talking. Without a word from me, Iryna walked up and joined the circle. I was struck with how she knew how to act in this social situation. I was so proud of her!

Calvin is really into STAR WARS now. He loves pretending to be Anakin and swinging a pool noodle around like a light saber. Calvin caught a fever this past week and we had a five hour visit to the ER. He is doing better now. 

Silas had a fever last week, also. He has taken to playing with Legos now. He loves building things for his Mama. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's happenin' 'round here

 Anna has been welcomed by the YW here. Her Beehive leader and the YW President came by to visit with she and I. They even brought flowers!
My baby is growing up...

This is a picture of all the Russell babies and their spouses thus far. Mom and standing behind Coulter. He is an eligible bachelor and so fabulous. Cannot wait to meet his future spouse!

Iryna's most recent conquest. She loves to suck on hard, plastic toys or metal items like this screw. I cannot seem to keep all of them out of her way. 

We went in to get referrals for Iryna and Anna, plus get some immunizations done. It took T H R E E hours to get it all done. Next month I have four appointments for physicals. They only offer them at one set time each morning, so I have four scheduled next month. I wish they could do them all in the same day. Sheesh.

My beautiful daughter, Anna, loves to make us surprises and create new snacks. She is such a gem.

There was an Activity Days Sock Hop at the church put on by the YW. Anna was so excited to help organize it and asked me to make s'mores cookies to take. Iryna has a blast dancing it up with her Daddy and friends. Tyler said she did beautifully, despite having had her medicine wear off hours before the dance ended. Hooray for good moments!

Anna took a math placement test for 7th grade. It took 2 hours to complete, so we just had to go to Chick-Fil-A to get some ice cream. Yummy!

I made a new recipe - cabbage rolls! They were a big hit and I enjoyed learning to make something new.

Have you tried these? Oh man. They are gummy heaven!

My sweet husband installing blinds in a blinding kitchen! He is amazing.

So grateful to have a husband who teaches our children from the scriptures.#soblessed

Monday, August 18, 2014

Singing opportunity

One of the things that has really excited me about my new ward here is that there are several musicians in the ward. As in, they have degrees in music and play instruments as their profession. Yeah, the real deal. I am looking forward to hearing them perform and enjoying their talents. Initially, I was worried that with all the talent in the ward that there wouldn't be any room for me - sounds selfish, right? But then I spoke with someone and they were telling me that they were recently hoping that a professional singer would move into the ward. This caused me to feel very nervous - which I know wasn't their intention.

As you know, I am NOT a professional singer. I have had about 3 years of voice lessons total and do not have a degree in music. I was asked to sing a solo in church and I began practicing. It wasn't just any solo, but O DIVINE REDEEMER. This piece is beautiful; one of my husband's favorites. But it is also a WORKOUT for me. If my voice isn't in tip-top shape, then it doesn't sound good. And I haven't been warming up and singing classical music for a few months, so when I practiced the song...it left much to be desired. I began practicing twice a day and praying for help. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was so incredibly anxious. I was worried about what the professional musicians would think - even though that shouldn't matter. When the time came to sing, my voice was ready and I was able to sing with my whole soul, feeling the Holy Ghost as my companion. I truly felt as though God had magnified my musical ability. It was glorious and wonderful.

I am more and more thankful that when God was passing out the talents, that music was passed to me. I have a strong desire to praise my Father in Heaven through music and I feel the Holy Ghost more strongly in music than in any other way. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the driving force in my life and my testimony grows every time I sing in church. Because I was practicing this piece over and over, I reflected more upon the words and I felt like I understood the atonement of Jesus Christ better. I am grateful I was asked to sing.

Ah! Turn me not away,
Receive me tho' unworthy;
Hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from thy throne
Haste Thee, Lord to mine aid,
Thy pity shew in my deep anguish!
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Though righteous thine anger,
O Lord! Shield me in danger, O regard me!
On Thee, Lord, alone will I call.
O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
and remember not, remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!
Night gathers round my soul;
Fearful, I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord!
Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry! Save me Lord in Thy mercy;
Come and save me O Lord
Save, in the day of retribution,
From Death shield Thou me, O my God!
O Divine Redeemer, have mercy!
Help me, my Saviour!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Choosing Hope in helping others

Last year I participated in a retreat for trauma mamas in Utah. I was able to meet other moms and gain solid friendships from people who understand my life. It has been a year and I still have these incredible women in my life via facebook, phone calls/texting, and mailing packages. They strengthen me and encourage me. I am unable to participate this year, but I purchased one of their t-shirts that they have for sale. If you attend the retreat, then you automatically get a t-shirt, but they are also for sale for those who do not attend. And the money that comes from the sale go towards helping other women who need to attend, but do not have the funds to do so.

Seriously, aren't these cute? They have them in sizes up to 6x and in both mens, womens, and youth sizes. I ordered the lime green one. They are $20 each and that includes shipping. If you want to order one or learn more about them, click here. I think we could all use some more Hope in our lives, don't you?

Speaking of helping others, my sweet friend, Valerie, and her husband, Richard, are adopting three boys from Bulgaria. In fact, Richard is there now for the first trip! They are offering a super fun fundraiser: Back to Bulgaria Fundraiser! Some items up to win include:
 2- $25 Amazon Giftcards

 2- $25 Target Giftcards

 1- $25 Fandango Giftcard

2- $10 iTunes Giftcards

3- Delectable assortments of European chocolates straight from Bulgaria (variety and size of the assortment will vary. . . .but if you uncover one of the hidden chocolate squares prior to Richard's departure on the 21st, he might let you have a say in the matter!)

Once all of the boxes have been chosen we will draw winners for our GRAND PRIZES:

$100 Amazon Giftcard

Winners choice between an iPad Mini 16gb w/WiFi or a Nexus 7

So please head on over to Valerie's blog to follow their journey and to help them bring home their boys. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014


Things are still progressing in the Pierce household. Many of the rooms now reveal a floor and there are even some pictures up on the walls. Hooray!

I filled out FIVE school registrations and have two doctor appointments for my girls tomorrow. I located the local library and plan to make a visit next week. 

Anna has had two playdates (or whatever they are called for pre-teens) with a girl from church and they are becoming good friends. 

Keith is quoting the movie "Planes" and is hilarious to listen to. 

Iryna is, well, Iryna. She has this angry face lately. Probably the last year or so. If things don't go her way, she sticks out her chin and says, HMPH! She has also taken to stuttering the first word in the sentence she wants to say. 

Calvin is wanting to spend his time playing wii or combining his Star Wars and his Lego Batman Legos to create awesome spaceships. 

Silas usually gets all wound up in the late afternoon. You know, when I feel the most work out. Why is that?! 

Tyler is working out five days a week now. He is mainly swimming and lifting weights. We are a few hours from the coast and he is hoping to plan a trip to surf soon. I hope it is soon. He is so happy when he surfs. Yesterday he bought me flowers "just because" he loves me. I love this man. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


We have been in our new home for over a week...and we are still adjusting. There are moments when I see my kids and I think, yeah, they are feeling comfortable here. And then they have a meltdown over nothing (that I can see) and I realize they are still figuring this new place out.

My husband has been in the Air Force since 2005. We are going on 9 years. This is our fourth move and it seems a bit more tough than the previous ones, albeit time has a way of erasing the past. I don't recall being so nervous to move to FL, and I certainly wasn't in going back to OH since we had been there before. DC is new to me. A new way of life. A new schedule. For example, I have been told to steer my errands between 10am and 2pm to avoid the DC commute traffic. One day I was heading out at 2pm and guess what? It took me 30 minutes to drive 2 miles. It was bumper-to-bumper traffic and the a/c had just quit on the van...so you can imagine how pleasant that was for me. I am more careful now!

I don't understand why there are no street lights here. When you drive at night, you know, after 7-8pm (evening traffic), you can't see anything and since I am new to the area, it's kind-of scary. There are many twisted roads and hills, which makes it worse. I told Tyler about it and when he and I went out one evening (grocery shopping, we have yet to go on a date) he could see what I was talking about!

The phone reception here is awful. We currently have AT&T and when I called their customer service, they said we are in the "no service zone". This makes sense because all my calls go to voicemail unless I am out and about. We are hoping to switch to Virgin Mobile today. *happy dance*

Despite the scariness of a new area, the lack of street lights, phone reception, and feeling generally lonely, there have been many tender mercies. I know that Heavenly Father is looking out for us and helping us in the way He tends to do - through other people.

I thought that moving to DC would mean lots of rude people as opposed to the country folk we love back in Oklahoma. Perhaps it was due to my low expectations, but people have been so kind here. I was wearing my Eskimo Joe's t-shirt while moving into the home and we had one neighbor stop by and ask if we were from Stillwater, OK! Other neighbors have stopped by to introduce themselves. The Bishop and his counselors came by the day after we moved in to say hello. We had brownies and banana bread dropped off by local church members. Everyone at church has been so kind and sweet. And let me tell you, they are on the BALL here in our ward with callings and church programs. Our church records were transferred here within a WEEK of moving in. Yeah. I can tell that they want us here and I know, in time, we will feel right at home.

The summer has been long without a place to call home, so that was a huge drive to get our house set up. We had all the boxes unpacked a week after moving in. Things are still around and need to find their place and the house is somewhat a wreck, but I am happy there are no more boxes around. Tyler went in to work one day last week and they gave him the rest of the week off to help around the house. Such a blessing! He is such a hard worker and he does things so well. I am not allowed to hang up pictures without his help because he is exceptional in making things symmetrical. And I do love symmetry.

The medical fields here are army-run and I am having some trouble getting appointments made for my kids, especially to fit in 5 physicals before school begins. Speaking of school - they don't start until after Labor Day here. That is SUPER late compared to what I know. The kids are eager to go back to school and I am excited about the schedule it will provide. Poor Keith is bored out of his mind and keeps asking what we are doing next...I wish I had more for him to do.

I have been pretty emotional the past couple of months, due to lots of stress. Tyler gave me a priesthood blessing and that has helped me a lot. I am so grateful for the priesthood. I am trying to pace myself and lower my expectations so I don't become overwhelmed. Some days it works and other days I have crying meltdowns, like yesterday. But my family loves me and I am grateful for their unconditional love. I know I am blessed. I feel God's love for me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Catching up to now

This blogpost will bring me up to date. There are lot of pictures in it. Meet you at the bottom.

Calvin got a fever so we had some ER action. It only took 2 hours instead of 5 - hooray! Not to worry, he was his happy self the next day. 

I met my friend, Nilma, for lunch in Tulsa. I have known her since 1996!

I taught my brother-in-law, Alex, how to play the expansions of Cities and Knights and Seafarers. He was a fan!

Tyler and his nephew, Spencer.

Brad and Tyler. We met up with them in Broken Arrow.

Tyler ran the running portion of a tri-athalon with his sister, Tisha. 

Tyler & Tisha

Troy and Tyler with Maleiah, Maddie, and Macie.

Troy, Tyler, Amy, and Patrick.

Tyler, Melanie, & Travis

Tyler, Richard, Travis

Keith, Iryna, & Calvin

Keith pushing the wagon.

I love this picture of Iryna and me.

Tyler holding Florence on her blessing day.

Tyler and my father.


My mom baking cookies for the grandchildren. And maybe the adults. 

My brother, Coulter, taught me to make a recipe from the DR: La Bandera (The Flag). It is gluten free and delicioso! He learned it on his mission.

Que Rico!

Tyler and Alex discussing their missions to Taiwan - they served in the same mission!

We met Mamaw, Opa, and Aunt Heather at POPS for lunch. Such a fun place.

Uncle Tyler getting to know Estelle!

Iryna and Iliana

Opa and Calvin

We hit some cold temperatures in OK for July. Brrr!

Uncle Tyler working his magic with Florence. Look at that smile.

Tyler and my mom.

Me, my niece, Rylee, and my SIL, Shelbee

Aurora and my sister, Rachel

Richard and Tyler playing some Stratego.

Another trip to Kiddie Park!

I had three days in Dayton before moving to DC. I met my good friend, Stefanie, for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and a pedicure! So fun!

I met Belen for lunch to celebrate her birthday!

We went to visit some friends and had a cookout. Such fun! Anna was also able to attend the Columbus Temple with the youth group from Ohio. She had a wonderful time.

Look! It's Calvin in Hobbes!

We went to see Valerie and her family for a few hours one day. This is her adorable son, Thomas!

We received respite care while in Ohio and my kids adored Miss Tracy! She was so good to them and we are already missing her.

Packing up to head to DC.

Stopping for a sit down dinner. When we asked for the check, we were told that another customer had paid (anonymously) for our whole dinner. I am humbled by the kindness of others.

Anna went from this position...

to this!

After a long two days in the car, we are finally HOME! And we even have a nice warm pool ready to go.

This is a self portrait of Silas. Pretty accurate, I'd say.

I got to meet up with my good friend, Amie, here locally! We keep following each other across the US! First FL, then OH, and now DC. I love it!

Anna and Morgan - been friends for three posts, too!

Now for the reality of the summer. It has been wonderful, as you can see from all the pictures. We had lots of quality time with family and friends. My children saw their cousins and created fun memories with them. I spent a lot of time with my mom - loved it! - and with my siblings, who I rarely see since we live so far from home. I have loved all of that. It has also been incredibly difficult and emotionally draining. Being a single parent for 8 weeks with 5 kids - and dealing with all of their struggles in moving away from our home in Ohio and not having a home base or even knowing which house we would live in - and my trying to eat gluten-free in other peoples' homes, and then succumbing to eating whatever just to keep my sanity. 

I adopted a Dr Pepper a day policy - sometimes even two. I went into survival mode and dreamt of being reunited with Tyler again. We were originally assigned to Edwards, CA, but then Edwards rejected us, based on our needs, and it took S E V E N W E E K S to cancel those orders. Eeek! And then, when it finally was cancelled, it took a couple more weeks to get orders in place and THEN Tyler came out to join me in OK. I was so grateful to have Tyler with me, at last. His goal was to help me recover from the stress I had felt. The last two days before Tyler arrived, I would lay in bed and sob. It got really bad. One day I was crying, and Silas asked me why I was crying. Calvin replied: It's because of US! I know that I didn't handle things very well, especially towards the end, and my extended family saw me scream much more than I would like - but I did survive and so did my children. 

Once Tyler arrived, he let me sleep in and he cared for the kids. Then we would stay up and play with my siblings. After two days of this schedule, Tyler wasn't getting enough sleep and he wasn't doing well. This is how our trek back to Ohio began and continued into our getting to DC. We finally decided upon a house in DC and my good friend, Amie, came to check it out for me. She's the best! We decided we would get it and moved in last Friday. Since then, we have been unpacking a lot of boxes and trying to get the house organized. I never did recover from the chaos of the summer and now everywhere I look - I see a MESS. It is so hard! I am trying to be positive, trying to focus on the blessings, but I just want to cry. I know that in a week or two, things will be more organized and I try to smile. Some days it doesn't happen. Today wasn't a good day. But I did receive this:

My awesome friend, Shellie, sent me a package of fun bubble bath to help me relax. I seriously have the best friends and the best family. I know that in time I will (hopefully) return to the way I usually am - a positive person. I am grateful that my family is patient with me until then and for those friends and family who encourage me and love me right now.