Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace

We are raising children in a world that is usually at best apathetic to the things I'm trying to teach them, and is all too often openly hostile to them.  I expect that from the world, and as parents, we do our best to protect our kids from it when we can and try to counter it effectively when we can't entirely shield them.

I realized recently that I sometimes react self-righteously to the views and opinions of members of my own faith because of fear: I am trepidatious about the thought of my kids having Primary teachers or Young Women's leaders, that they love and trust, contradicting what I'm trying to teach them at home, or what they hear the leaders of the Church say in General Conference or local meetings.  In reality, I have never had to worry about that with any of my children's teachers or leaders, but when I hear a member of our faith evangelizing a position or belief that appears to contradict what we have been taught, a momma bear switch flips, and I have a tendency to push back too hard.

I started reading through the General Conference issue of the Ensign that arrived last week, and remembered why I enjoyed President Packer's talk so much.  He told of a couple of incidents this spring, where a snake had eaten several of the small finches that nest in the ivy in the garden of his home.  The first time, he thought it was an odd, one-time occurrence, since it had never happened before in the 50 years that he and his wife have lived in their home.  But then it happened again.  He reached this conclusion:  "We will not always be safe from the adversary's influence, even within our own homes. We need to protect our nestlings."

While my self-righteousness is completely inexcusable, it was the fear of that influence snaking its way into my home that drove it.  President Packer continued: "We live in a very dangerous world that threatens those things which are most spiritual.  The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen.  The adversary is about.  His objective is to cause injury.  If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded."

Its easy to see what's going on in the world right now and feel outnumbered and outgunned.  It can be easy to feel like the bad men are winning, that the false narratives and bad imitations of goodness are gaining too much momentum and can't be turned back.  When I get to feeling that way, I remind myself how the world must've looked to the Apostles as their Savior hung on the cross, and as they carried his body away for burial:  surely it must've felt like the bad guys had won, that hope was lost, that trying any longer was futile.  And then I remind myself that that bleakest, darkest of all nights was followed shortly by the glorious, triumphant Resurrection.

That story--and the stories that go with it--is the one that I need to be sure my kids know.  President Packer reminded us: "The consummate power of the priesthood has been given to protect the home and its inhabitants.  The father has the authority and the responsibility to teach his children and to bless and to provide for them the ordinances of the gospel and every other priesthood protection necessary. . .I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief.  There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother."

As a mother, my energy ought to be focused on trying to "tune my heart to sing Thy grace", to speak of truth with love and gratitude, to bear my testimony to my children and to read scriptures with them, so that my children can more readily recognize the Spirit when it testifies of the Savior's truths.  I need to consistently and explicitly teach my children truth with love so that they will recognize not only truth, but lies.  So that when they hear a deception, it will be to their ears like a discordant note struck on the piano: they will intuitively know that it is out of place.  Hopefully, if they have been taught enough love, they will not make my mistake of being self-righteous, but will remember that the song itself is not ugly and that the musician is not useless.  This is not "Mary Had a Little Lamb", after all--these are the glorious symphonies of eternity that we are trying to learn to play, and it is inevitable that we will occasionally hit a wrong note or get the timing wrong or slip into the wrong key.  Those who are trying to create these lovely melodies with us deserve our patience and love, just as we hope that they will be kind to us when we make mistakes.  After all, if we succumb to the temptation to be contentious with one another, the song will be lost and the adversary will win.

Childhood Work Memories

While I'm not as hard or as consistent of a worker as I ought to be, I always felt like my parents did a good job teaching us how to work.  I'm sure there were times when I complained or whined, but for the most part, I don't remember really minding most chores I had to do growing up (not that they were very hard), and my mom had very little tolerance for whining (something I wasn't terribly inclined to anyway), and she made it clear that there were certain things that needed to be done whether you like it or not.  There was no arguing or negotiating: the work got done or the fun stuff didn't happen. But she also did a good job of demonstrating that not every chore needs to be such a chore.

We all had daily and weekly chores around the house, and since I enjoy (and simply feel more sane in) clean spaces, that was never a big deal to me.  I still have clear memories of my sister instructing me very thoroughly on how to scrub a toilet and a bathtub when I was around 6 or 7.  I remember my mom going step-by-step through how to properly iron a shirt and dress pants, and the way to make a bed and fold sheets.  I remember doing dishes with Michael and Mom when we were 6 or 7, and doing them by myself very shortly after that. I remember "cleaning" windows and mirrors with my mom when I was very little--with no clue that I was probably just creating a streaky, patchy mess. We were expected to keep the lawn mowed in the summer and we had a rather massive lawn, but there were five of us, and after we had the lawn all divided up into sections for each person to mow, it didn't seem like such a big chore (my twin brother and I were also expected to mow my grandma's lawn, and even though we tried to refuse payment and my mom repeatedly told Grandma not to pay us, she kept paying us, week after week). I had 4H pigs for several years, and I was expected to feed and water them every morning (you never quite forget the painful cold of your 10-year-old self standing next to a creek in fall or early spring in Montana and filling a 5lb bucket and hauling it up to the pen), to take slop to them every evening, and to water the pen down on particularly hot days so they could cool off.

And then there were family chores: hauling buckets of water down the driveway to water the tiny lilac bushes (which are now fabulous 10-ft tall trees that add a lot of beauty and privacy to my parents home), and various such things as Dad went about transforming a lovely but unruly patch of land into a small Eden;  picking rock, hauling cart after cart of rocks down to the creek; planting and weeding the big vegetable garden; chopping and stacking wood; and running the theater (that was fun work, and easy.  I was young enough that my part was mostly cleaning up after the movie, and helping Grandma with the concession stands.  As I got a little older, I also helped take tickets [as my math got faster] and sometimes worked the concessions alone for brief periods).

As I thought about all of this a few days ago, it occurred to me that I remember all of this quite fondly, and these are still mostly chores I don't mind doing as an adult.  I realized several reasons that the learning and doing was pleasant: Mom never seemed grumpy at having to do the work; we often worked together, and it was time that felt playful to me, since I often spent much of it joking with my twin brother; and I never remember any impatience at my little hands and brain learning to do the work.  I remember occasional correction or redirection, but I don't remember any scolding.  I'm sure I wasn't great at cleaning dishes when I was 7 (we didn't have a dishwasher for most of my childhood), but I never remember any impatience or agitation about it from the adults or older siblings in my life.  The same thing goes for the bathrooms I probably didn't scrub very well, the rows of peas that weren't planted very straight, dusting that I thought was flawless that was likely full of streaks and missed spots, and the laundry that I folded that was probably only slightly better than it had been sitting in a basket unfolded.  I was expected to help out with the house and yard from a fairly young age, but I was also never expected to do a better job than can reasonably be expected from a child.

The other important reason I never had much trouble doing the work is that I also had a lot of freedom. In a rural community of about 800 people, most of whom knew us well and were good people, we had the necessary safety to explore the world at will, as far as our little feet or bikes would carry us.  We walked up the creek and floated down the canal, climbed all kinds of trees, wandered to friends' houses, we went on sledding adventures, even biked all the way to the dam to go swimming.

By the time I was a teenager, I had the two things that can create some of the most delightful freedom in a teenager's life: constant access to a car, and my parents' trust.  I was free to go where I wanted and do what a wanted with relatively little restriction, and I took advantage of it: in the spring, I often hiked to the falls after school, or at least hiked part of the trail (depending on how much time I had and how much snow there was), a couple of times a week.  I went to Missoula with friends often, usually getting home sometime around midnight.  I was free to go to friends' houses or participate in any and all extra-curricular activities that I wanted.  I had a great deal of independence.  I almost never had anyone tell me "no" or even give me a specific curfew. More often than not, I simply informed my mom of my plans and schedules, rather than asking for permission. No one had to drag me out of bed for seminary--I got myself up and ready, drove myself there and was almost never late.  No one told me to do my homework or checked up on me, I just got it done and did well in school.  But much of that is a credit to the mom my mom was when I was little:  by the time I was a teenager, she could afford to trust me with that freedom and independence, because I had already been patiently taught for many years how good it felt to be productive, and how much freedom came from getting the necessary work done and getting it done first.  My parents never felt much need to enforce specific discipline when I was an adolescent because I'd shown them that I could discipline myself; and I never felt much need to rebel, because they had shown me that as long as I disciplined myself, they felt no need to restrict my decisions.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Perfect Day

I think my stir crazy has been satisfied for a while.
We were invited to a lunch-time BBQ,
in the middle of nowhere.
Divide is sort of the middle of nowhere.
The school currently has 4 kids.
Its a good half-hour to 45 minutes of highway
from any "where" else.
We went to a ranch that was a few miles outside Divide.
And then several miles back on the ranch,
beyond real roads
(bless our little van, she's a trooper)
to a tiny little no-running-water cabin
with a great BBQ area and wilderness all around.
There was a whole mountain of boulders to climb:
And good company to enjoy conversation with,
seated on good, old logs:

And lovely ridges to climb,
granting us lovely views of the rain that never quite got to us:

And tiny flowers everywhere,
high up in the mountains,
where the world is just beginning to realize its spring:
And from there,
we went directly to a dinner-time BBQ
for a friends' 5th birthday.
She's a doll.
Her parents are awesome.
Oh, and did I mention that they have dozens of horses
and a few really good-natured ponies?
Well, they do.
And after dinner and cake and presents,
and a particularly resilient piƱata,
the kids got to feed a few of the horses,
and brush out the ponies, 
and then they all got to go for a ride.

Keilana is getting quite comfortable
on the back of a horse or pony,
and more confident all the time.
Her balance is pretty good.
She mounts and dismounts from the ponies
pretty smoothly all on her own.
It makes her crazily happy.

Keira went for her first ride,
and yelled happily to her big sister,
"Hey! Look Kylie!"
Confident and delighted.

And Dylan, well,
he's a natural.
That was clear the first time
we sat him on a mini-horse 
when he was two.
By the time he was 4,
he'd been bucked off a pony a couple of times
and was unphased.
He confidently told Heather,
"I only know how to ride bareback".
Then he was pretty sure
he could do the jumps that were set up in the arena.
This kid.
He veers wildly between cautious-to-the-point of wimpy
and absurdly over-confident.

This little lady loved petting and brushing the horses,
chatting with them and loving on them,
but she's got zero interest in riding them.
She's not a risk taker.
She totally HATED swings
until about a year ago.
For all her social boldness,
she's physically cautious. 
But that's OK.
She's got time.

We came home,
got everybody bathed and off to bed,
and I made banana bread,
and watched Arrested Development. 
Not bad
for a Saturday in May.

Are you an Umphrey?

I have to admit, one of my favorite things about my life is how often people--often individuals who are strangers to me--ask, "Are you an Umphrey?" or "You look like an Umphrey?", and then, when I answer in the affirmative, respond that one of my parents was their favorite teacher. (And that statement is frequently followed by some fun stories).

My parents are great parents and great people, its nice to know that other people recognize that.  They chose professions (teachers in rural Montana) that don't seem terribly significant in the world in some ways, but it never fails to amaze me just how many individuals and families they've affected over the years.  And I know what an incredible blessing some of my teachers were to me growing up, how much I learned and gained from some of the teachers who gave me their all, and its nice to know that there are people out there who think of my parents that way.

The wonderful, unintended consequence for me is that, on a fairly regular basis, I meet people who recognize in my face some features of a person that they respect, and so automatically react to me with openness and affection.  What a marvelous gift to give your children, just by being a good person and doing your job well.  Until I was several years into adulthood, I never considered how valuable it could be to leave your children a good name and reputation.  It took me several more years to realize that I'd never thought about it because I'd never had to--because my parents had given me that.

Friday, May 17, 2013

All By Myself

I wish.  We were watching our Friday night movie (Friday night is family night=a new Netflix and a [usually homemade] treat), and we don't have a couch (we didn't have one when we moved, and have been meaning to look for one, but this place is small enough and temporary enough that the motivation to actually go furniture hunting has been nil), so little girls just took turns sitting on me, hanging off me, pulling on my arms, etc.  I finally had had enough and I tried to escape up the stairs, so when Kylie started to follow me, in hopes of deterring her I said, "I just need to use the bathroom".  She smiled and said, "I do, too," to which I responded, probably sounding rather desperate, "Then use the one downstairs!"

So I escaped to lock myself in my bedroom.  NOT! I don't have a bedroom.  Our king-sized bed would not fit in any of the bedrooms, so the large "common area" at the top of our stairs is our room.  The kids rooms open to it off on the side.  But the little girls' room doesn't even have a door, so its always open to our room.

I am never alone.  Seriously, never.  Every waking and sleeping moment there is at least one other person (and usually multiple persons) with me.  Most of the time that's just fine.  I've gone full-on hermit since moving away from California.  I talk to Doug (when he's in the mood to talk, after dealing with people all day), and I have a friend whose little girl I watch for a couple of hours most days, and usually we chat for a few minutes during pickups/drop offs, and I participate in lessons at church, but that right there is about the extent of my socializing, save for trips back to my mom's to hang out with family.  So I guess being constantly surrounded by little people sort of balances out hardly ever interacting with big people.

[Side note: as if to reinforce my point, Keira just came all the way upstairs to see me, holding her finger out in front of her and saying, "More boogers, Mom".  So I had to stop to find a tissue to deal with the mucus she was insistent on handing to me, and now she's hopping up and down on my back and pushing my head down while I try to type.]

Most days, this all suits me just fine.  But every now and then, I really want a vacation.  Don't get me wrong, the four days I spent on fire crew last summer, the three day trip to Utah last Easter, and the weekend up at Apple Hill in October 2010 were all wonderful, but its been a very, very long 2 years, and it would be nice to leave my kids for a few days and do something fun.  Or even take my kids somewhere for a few days and do something fun.  I would just really, really like to travel anywhere for any reason that didn't involve driving a UHaul, or leave my kids--all my kids--for at least 24 hours.

I shouldn't be complaining, though, because its actually been a very, very good day.  I slept in until--get this--almost 8:30!!! (Insane, I know) I'd had a bit of a cold/cough all week, and it was never bad, but it just caused me to be tired enough to start my days really slow, and then crash at about 7 every evening, meaning I was getting nothing done after kids went to bed.  So this morning, Doug got the big kids off to school while the little girls and I slept in, and I got my house completely clean and in order (my older three are all big enough to do real chores, so it had never gotten really bad), the laundry going, a shopping trip done, and some writing in all by the time school was out this afternoon.  And then, Doug volunteered to go to Butte to make a Walmart run--something I didn't manage to get done today because Kylie was feeling pretty sick this morning.  And--get this--Dylan went with him! Voluntarily! He wanted to go with his dad to run errands, instead of stay in the house and play games or watch a movie!!!  But here's the real shocker: last weekend at Mom's, we had a simple BBQ for Mother's Day, which meant there were white bread rolls, chips of all kinds, licorice and animal cookies, and Dylan--without being bribed, cajoled, or even asked (a year or so ago, I decided that, as a rule, I was not going to fight him on food at family get-togethers.  We fight about food almost every day, so if once a week or a few times a month he wants to fill up on nothing but chips and cookies, so be it.  At least we're all happy)--Dylan put together a hamburger for himself and at the whole thing.  He has also started going to sleep at relatively sane hours the last few weeks. He's getting dangerously close to "normal" territory.

Well, I mean, he did basically try to eat the computer a few hours ago while talking to me.  You can't win 'em all.

Sensory Memory

Its always funny to me what sensory stimuli will trigger memories or feelings.

I was going to make cookies today (actually, I wanted to make cinnamon rolls, but since I literally have only about 14 inches of counter space--between my fridge and microwave, with the stove right behind me--I am against bread making while living in this house), but I had to run to the store for a few things first.  Its quite rainy and coldish (which is why I wanted to make cinnamon rolls), and as I was unloading the girls from the van, there was a pretty strong diesel smell in the air.  The combination of the chilly rain and the smell of diesel made me feel homesick.  I didn't know what to make of that one--I honestly don't know why that combination evokes such a feeling in me.  My mom and dad were raised by loggers, but I wasn't.

Over the years, I've realized several smells/combinations that have an instant effect that way.  If I'm out in the fresh air and sunshine, especially if I'm sitting on the grass barefoot, a whiff of cigarette smoke will make me instantly feel at home.  The smell of grass fire, just about anywhere, triggers all kinds of happy memories.  The smell of slightly damp leaves and wet soil always makes me start daydreaming about playing at my grandma's house as a small child (her yard was completely bounded by leafy trees, next to a creek).

And--probably my favorite--being in the mountains, surrounded by the smell and sight of conifer trees and good, clean mountain dirt, puts me instantly at ease, no matter the circumstances, especially if there's a slight breeze.  A light rain, even if I'm camping, just makes it even more relaxing for me (downpours are another issue, however).  Its what I imagine coastal-dwellers feel at the beach, from having listened to many of them talk about it.  I guess that, even though I developed a tremendous love for the beach in the nearly 10 years that I lived at or near the ocean, my heart never really belonged to it.  The mountains still have a much stronger pull on me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day

We made a quick trip to my mom's for Mother's Day.  The kids spent Saturday afternoon playing with a few cousins who happened to be there when we arrived (any time you show up at my mom's house, particularly on a weekend, you have pretty good odds of running into a few cousins), and Sunday after church we had some BBQ and cold cuts and just enjoyed the yard and the sunshine, with kids running through the sprinkler and tromping through the creek. 

I realized that I took exactly one picture both days.  I haven't been great at the whole picture thing the entire last year.  So I have one shot of Aodhan and Kylie playing, and that's it.  Thankfully, my big sister is a talented and very consistent photographer--her camera is always out and usually being used--and she remembered to have somebody get the best Mother's Day picture of all:

A lot of my favorite women and girls are in this photo.  My sister, Christa, is the very pregnant one in the brown shirt.  My other sister, Gwen, is the one in green, my mom is seated in the front, and the matriarch in blue is my Grandma Elda, my dad's mom.  All these little girls belong to my brothers and sisters and me, and they're all great girls.

Suffice it to say that on Mother's Day, I generally feel quite blessed.  As a mom to three girls, I have high hopes for the future, and hope I can be for them many of the wonderful things the ladies in this picture have been for me.  As the youngest of five, with two older sisters, a fantastic mom, amazing grandmothers, and fantastic friends, I was and am well-cared for by the women in my life.  With all these women around, I'm sure my girls will be able to say as much, too.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Receiving with gratitude

"I will. . .open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

I wonder how often we fail to be grateful for our blessings, or even resent things that we should recognize as blessings and be grateful for, because we're too busy focusing on what we lack, or how we would prefer that the blessings come.

We all have particular things we don't like to ask for help on: maybe its that you have fallen on financially hard times and have to ask for assistance, and that stings; maybe its that you're used to being the one always doing everything for everybody and suddenly find yourself ill and having to rely on the good works of others to survive your life; maybe its that you're in emotional turmoil, and it humiliates you to ask for counsel or support from someone else.  Or maybe its that there is a particular person that you hate having to ask for help, and it seems that that's always where you end up needing to turn.  Or maybe its just that the timing is particularly humbling.  Whatever the case, we all have times when asking for help hurts our pride.

And too often, instead of genuinely humbling ourselves, we focus on just that: our hurt pride.  We become bitter and resentful, rather than grateful that our needs have been provided for.  The Lord does promise to pour out blessings if we are faithful, he promises to meet our needs, but I can't recall any time or circumstance where he has promised to do so in a manner that is pleasing to, or at least avoids bruising, our pride.  In fact, its quite the opposite, usually.

We find a lot more happiness and contentment and peace in our lives when we start to let go of that silly pride and simply recognize and be grateful for the fact that the provision has been made.  Too often, we resent the conduit through which the blessing comes, rather than sincerely and without qualification thanking the Lord as the true provider of the blessing.

What silly, small creatures we can be.  We can be so bitter with our wounded pride, thinking ourselves so much more worthy than what we receive, when in fact, we are hardly ever entirely worthy of the blessings that pour down us.  Pride, which thinks itself so big, shrinks the soul.  Gratitude and humility enlarge it.


Country music is blaring from the TV as the younger girls alternate between dancing and enjoying their water-and-animal-crackers tea party.  The older two are laughing and playing football in the living room (Shhhhh. . .don't tell their dad).  Hubby is gone: either didn't know or forgot that he had a meeting tonight, I guess.  They had a Primary Activity after school this afternoon, so I spent an hour with just little Keira Bell (we scored her a practically new pair of Skechers at the thrift store for a buck-fifty, so it was a productive hour) and she was cool with being left behind since it meant that she got to eat a bit of cake.

The table still needs to be cleared of the pot of taco soup and the bags of tortilla chips, but otherwise the house is clean, and the laundry is mostly done.  Its intermittently drizzly outside, and consistently overcast. The moisture the last week or so has been great for the backyard: some of the patches I spent so much time digging out are starting to look like actual, intentional gardens, and more and more irises are looking promising back there.  Kylie made a Mother's Day card for one of her grandmas this afternoon while Keira took a nap.  Everyone's chores and homework are done and we're ready for tomorrow, and then a good weekend.

Its kind of impossible to overstate how grateful I am to be raising my family in the era of electric washing machines, hot, running water, refrigerators and cars.  Because of hundreds of modern conveniences, we have so much more leisure time than nearly any generation in history.  And as long as we're careful not to cave in to the temptation to fill all that time with too many things, it gives us all these little opportunities to just casually enjoy each other's company, to play.  I'm grateful for that.

Friday, May 3, 2013

On motherhood and homemaking

Being a parent is tough.  Being a stay-at-home parent has a unique set of challenges that comes with it.  Particularly since there is seldom much recognition of all that you do: no paycheck, little to no feedback, and, at least while the kids are small, not a lot of "thank you"s.  So when I came across this quote from GK Chesterton, I thought I'd share it for the my many stay-at-home mom friends:
"Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad. The world outside the home was one mass of narrowness, a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of monomaniacs. It was only by partly limiting and protecting the woman that she was enabled to play at five or six professions and so come almost as near to God as the child when he plays at a hundred trades.
"[...]When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give [the word] up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."
What you do matters.  It matters more than anything else in the world.  Hang in there.  On the long, hard days, remember that you are not forgotten, and that there is always someone who sees all that you do and loves you for it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Keira's ER adventure

So, Wednesday morning I had to go to Butte to take a placement math test so I could finish registering for school, so I had left Keira with a friend for the morning, even though she was extraordinarily grumpy when she got up (very out of character for her) and obviously didn't feel well.  She vomited not long after I left, and then mostly sat on the couch, tired and miserable until I got back.  When I picked her up a few hours later, she made it clear in no uncertain terms that she was ready to go, and grumpily made her way to the van while I chatted briefly with my friend.  She crawled up into the van by herself and waited for me, so I walked over to get her buckled in.  When I grabbed her to put her in her carseat (she was still standing up, and looking at her sister, who was in the backseat), she didn't really respond (didn't look at me or mold into my hands), which was odd.  Then when I lifted her to put her in her carseat, she went completely stiff and didn't bend, and I realized her eyes were glazed over.  Her head jerked a bit to the side and her lips puckered, so I turned her towards the open door thinking that she was going to vomit, and her eyes went to the side and it suddenly occurred to me what was happening.  I pulled her out of the van onto the soft grass to put her on her side just as she started to jerk and convulse, and yelled to Kaytee (who was still outside with her girls) that I thought Keira was having a seizure.

That was the start of a very long 24 hours.  Kaytee called the ambulance and I called Doug.  Doug ran over from his office (her house is only about a block from his work), and he went in the ambulance with Keira while I loaded Kylie up and met them there.  She was still out of it--not unconscious, but not quite conscious--when they loaded her into the ambulance, but she wasn't convulsing and her limbs were supple again, her eyes mostly back to normal when they opened intermittently.

We answered questions in the ER while the nurses drew blood to run some basic tests.  As the nurses struggled to get a vein on her little arms, Doug tried to calm her down by talking to her and asking her questions, and she was responding appropriately.  They finished taking blood, and by then she was fully awake and responsive, so they told me I could pick her up and snuggle her for a bit.  When I picked her up, she wouldn't look at me, even when I called her name, and I realized she was about to have another one, and, sure enough, her eyes rolled to the side, she jerked and started to convulse.

After we got to the hospital, I had called my mom to let her know what was going on, and she asked if she should come over to help with the other kids, or even take them home with her.  While Keira was having the second seizure, I asked Doug to call Mom back and tell her to go ahead and come over. One seizure in a kid isn't that unusual, but two, particularly with no fever present, is a little more unique.  Our hospital is very small, so they wanted her to go to Missoula for further testing (all her initial blood work looked normal).  It just happened that Life Flight was here for training that afternoon, so they just flew her to Missoula.  We had called Mom to let her know that they'd be flying Keira in, so she stopped in Missoula to wait for her.  So, while we drove over, Keira hung out with Mom and the pediatric nurses.  She was so good:  most two-year-olds don't do well with being sent off with strange men under the best of circumstances, but Doug strapped her into her carseat, told her that the Life Flight nurses were going to take her to see Yaya, and she just said OK and waved bye-bye and slept through most of her helicopter flight.

By the time we got to Missoula, she was looking pretty good.  They put a topical numbing agent on her arm so they could get an IV, and she just calmly sat there and watched them stick the needle in her arm, finding a vein.  And when they had to stick her foot, with no numbing agent, she cried a little bit, but still handled it like a champ.  They told her she could have a popsicle, and then her daddy came upstairs, and that seemed to make everything better:
 After Yaya took her brothers and sisters off for dinner and then back to her house, it was just me and Keira, and she got to have all the apple juice and popsicles she wanted, while watching Netflix and not having to argue with any siblings about what to watch.  She thought that was pretty awesome.  When she had trouble getting to sleep, her nurse brought her a teddy and told her that the bear was really tired and needed someone to snuggle with so he could go to sleep, and she was up to the job.  Keira and her teddy were both out about 2 minutes later.  She kept him pretty close the rest of the time she was in the hospital:
 They woke her up early, in hopes that she would be sleepy and, consequently, mellow, during the EEG scheduled later in the morning.  She woke up happy, but was really ready to get out of the hospital room, so we unplugged her IV from the wall and went and found the toy room.  It had a big fish tank with a giant eel, and several awesome cars.  We went down the hall with her in socks, but then she decided she needed her "sparkle shoes" to go driving:
Her nurse came in to do her morning vitals.  The blood pressure cuff always made her giggle a little bit, and she just calmly watched every time her toe got poked so that they could check her blood sugar.  She was an excellent patient for the most part.  Very tough, and very cooperative and friendly with all her nurses (and anyone else she happened to come into contact with).
 Except the EEG.  She was super mellow and cooperative while the tech spent half an hour putting on all the electrodes, and for the first half she was just watching Caillou and chilling.  But then the tech started turning Caillou down hoping Keira would go to sleep.  Then I finally closed the computer and told her she needed to go to sleep.
That, combined with the major sleep deprivation, the terrible hunger, and being told she couldn't have a popsicle, just led to total meltdown.  For nearly an hour after the tech left, she screamed at me and kicked and hit me.  When I finally put her down on the bed to take something to the trash, I turned around just in time to see her rip her IV out of her arm.  I put some pressure on it and called the nurse, and she calmly watched him tape it up, and as soon as he left the room, she hopped up and down with her arms in the air, shouting happily, "I did it! I did it!"  Then she asked to go for a walk, and as soon as we got to the hallway, she started running, and then hopping, and yelling, "Run! Run!"  She was very happy to be untethered from that annoying IV pole. Then they told her she could eat real food, and she started downing everything in sight!

A couple of hours later, we heard back from the neurologist that her EEG looked completely normal, so we started the discharge papers. When I first pulled her out of the van the day before, I got a distinct feeling that she was OK, and that she was going to be fine.  It was a bit nerve-wracking to see her seize a second time (particularly since both seizures happened to occur just as I was picking her up), but she had a blessing while she was in the ER, which also seemed to indicate that she'd be fine, so I was never all that upset--a little nervous, a bit unsettled, but never terribly worried.

The doctor was leaning toward a combination of dehydration and hypoglycemia brought on by her stomach bug, or the stomach bug itself as the cause.  So here's hoping that was the end of it!!