Category Archives: Parenting

Life Update: Building Beauty from Ashes

I write often about homeschooling and cooking, and I love sharing what God is doing in my life and how he is reshaping my heart, but I felt like you all are owed an update on the original reason I started writing: to share my journey through the world of adoption. My, how our world has changed. I am remiss for not sharing this with you all. Here we go. The update of all overdue updates:

When I first began this blog, however many moons ago, the ultimate purpose was to share with family and friends our journey through adoption. Private domestic adoption. That was back in 2011. In that time, some of my best friends have grown their families by two, three, or even four (!) babies. My husband changed careers. We bought our first home. I adopted an adorable rescue dog. And, somewhere in there, we decided to become foster parents.

Caught up now?

I kept you informed with the foster children who came and went, and said prayers and shed tears each time we had to say goodbye. But then we got the call that would change our lives. One beautiful summer Friday, while we were enjoying a cookout on the porch with one of our closest college pals, the phone rang.

They had a 19 month old boy and an almost-3 year old girl. No idea how the case would turn. No idea if they would stay the weekend or be with us forever. We didn’t know their ethnicity. We didn’t know their names. We didn’t know their health status. Would we take them? We took a leap said yes. Because sometimes in life, you just say yes. They showed up and our worlds were turned upside down.

That day was June 6, 2013.

Adoption Day

They became our forever children, names changed and all, on September 4, 2015.

After 796 days in limbo, they became ours forever.

I’m not a fan of the new Pinterest trend that shows the adopted children holding a sign that says how many days they spent in foster care. I’d rather my children not associate the time before their adoption as “foster care,” because they were never with another family other than us. They came home to us on June 6, 2013.

I’ll say they were in limbo for all of those days. Stuck between many homes. Learning the rules of our house, mourning the loss of another. We couldn’t permanently decorate our daughter’s room in the fairy style she so badly wanted, because of a truth we wouldn’t say out loud: “What if she leaves?” We were all in limbo. Wanting to fully dive in and love them like they were never going to leave, but also wisely guarding our hearts just in case. And I know for them, it was the same. They wanted to love us, but felt as if they were betraying someone else if they did. So in limbo we all stayed.

That day, the judge said he had more people supporting us and celebrating with us in the courtroom on that day than most adoptive families. He also added, “But it should be like this always.” We even hired a good friend of ours who is a professional photographer to document the entire day. While she had documented birthing sessions, it was her first adoption.

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Photo by Katie Woody Photography

Happiness Forever After?

I think it’s easy to talk about how difficult it is raising children who come from hurt and trauma while ignoring or refusing to acknowledge the brokenness and hurt we as parents also bring into the equation.

Pulled in different directions by many people who felt they knew what was best, I know the time was hard on the kids. While the storm of the case has died down, the storm in their hearts (and ours) hasn’t died down yet. That process will take years.

But, they are ours. And we are theirs. 

People are quick to talk about how far they have come, or how much they have changed for the better, or how much we have helped them or saved them, but no one talks about the fact that we’re all broken and full of hurt and sin. In God’s ideal plan, none of it would have looked like this. The hurt, the loss, the pain, the anger, the grief, the rage, none of it. He has a plan to restore our entire family to the beauty he originally envisioned.

I really dislike when foster parents are called “saints,” because you don’t know the darkness or the doubts in my heart. You don’t know my fears for the future or the questions I have. You don’t know the work it takes to create a feeling of family among strangers.

We’re all learning this together. Some days I cry because I don’t have a clue how to do this adoptive parent thing. No reading in the world can really prepare you. When you separate ME from the blood of the Lamb who covers me with his grace, it’s really a mess under there. But God’s promises endure, and I will hold fast to them.

Some days, I think they were an answer to our prayers, and some days I think we were an answer to theirs. I know for sure that one day, this whole story, not at all how I imagined it or necessarily wanted it, will come together as a beautiful testimony. Being in the middle of a time or trial that you know will one day be a fantastic testimony is hard. Sometimes parenting our kids is really exhausting and heartbreaking, because we are parenting kids whose hearts have been broken. They know pain the likes of which most adults will never understand. But my faith rests in the promise of God:

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: 
beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness
For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.”

Isaiah 61:3 TLB

Regardless, we are a family.

God is building beauty from the ashes of all of our dreams. For all five of us.

And let me tell you- Jesus saves me every single day.

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Filed under Adoption General, Faith and Adoption, Fostering, Parenting, Personal Posts

5 Blog Inspirations for Your Week

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This time of year, I start feeling kind of overwhelmed. I feel bogged down, frustrated, and overcome with self-criticism from the tape that runs in my head saying I’m not doing a good job as a mom or as a wife or as a woman. The tape that runs in my head is always critical, always mean, always deceiving. The holidays bring out this voice more than any other time of year for some reason. I feel stuck, frozen, unmovable. My to-do list is way too long, my expectations way too high, and my accomplishments way too low.

As a blogger, I read a LOT of blogs. I LOVE blogs written by moms just like me, and blogs written by moms unlike me. I love reading blogs written by women in particular, and I just love seeing what these incredible women around the world are doing with the power of the written word. It’s so inspiring. So today, I wanted to do something a little different and share the most inspiring blogs I’ve read this week. These blogs made me cry, made me yell “YES!” or made me hit the “share” button. I hope they inspire, encourage, or validate you in all the same ways. You aren’t alone, you ARE fine, and you’re an awesome mother, wife, woman, person.

When Her Words Bruise Your Heart 

Post from Carey Scott {www.careyscotttalks.com} about the words she spoke to her daughter who experienced severe rejection. I cried through post, because my precious children have experienced rejection at the tender ages of 5, 4, and 3. We’re all rejected at some point…how do you handle it with your child, and who does God say they are?

How to Save Your Grocery Budget From the “Feast or Famine”Cycle

This post is from http://www.largefamilymothering.com. Have you ever struggled with the budget cycle of eating salmon and roast beef at the beginning of the month and struggling through ramen noodles and tuna sandwiches at the end of the month? No? Wow! That’s amazing! Please start a blog! I’ll follow you! We have. We’ve enjoyed perfectly grilled steaks at the beginning of the month and then mixed corn and peas and cheese at the end of the month and called it a veggie casserole. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad, but it felt pathetic. This post inspired me to deal with my monthly budget in snippets instead of indulgences. I was inspired to take a look at our monthly menu and how I allocate our budget. Hopefully it’ll inspire you- large family or not! 

It’s Not Just a Shirt When You’re the One Talking to the Press

My friend Molly has a succinctly written blog called My Little Grasshoppers {written for her daughters} in which she addresses issues involving everything from healthful living to gender equality and the beauty of daily life. I was raised as a non-traditional little girl. One Halloween, I wanted to be Robin Hood. My mother made me a Robin Hood costume and my dad hand-crafted my bow and arrow. I think it’s more important to tell my daughter “you’re smart” than “you’re pretty.” I want her to be enamored by fairy tales that empower her rather than fairy tales that convince her she needs to be rescued. I want her to know that she only needs her Savior Jesus for happiness and really, only another man if God says so. Molly’s post about a recent sexist faux pas from one of the brilliant scientists who landed a spaceship on a comet had me yelling “YES!!!!” Hopefully this will empower you in the same way it empowered me. We should be bothered by such things, women! 

An Interview with 3 Homeschool Graduates

Simple Homeschool is my absolute all-time favorite homeschooling blog. I remember being so overwhelmed a year or two ago that I couldn’t get out of bed, and I’d log onto Jaime’s site, read a post, and hop into action. I love her posts and her guest posts. This one is written by Laura Thomas of This Eternal Moment. She actually interviewed three homeschool graduates on their post-school success, their sense of self, their relationship with their families, their struggles with being homeschooled, their favorite memories, etc. For a mom neck-deep in this homeschooling experiment, this post spoke directly to my heart to encourage me that they will be okay! 

Last, but certainly not least, the post I read and re-read, and shared and secretly wished I had the courage to write because it was so exactly spoken from my own heart:

On the Shame Spiral and Making it Stop

I am completely convinced that Beth {from http://www.bethwoolsey.com} and I would be best bloggy mommy friends if we ever met face to face. This blog post IS me. Every word of it, every concern, every line.

My voices unearthed my persistent fear that maybe I am too much, after all. Too loud. Too irreverent. Too ridiculous when the world is serious. Too serious when the world needs levity. Too Jesusy. Not Jesusy enough. Too big. Too sweary. Too unfit for polite society. 

Yes, yes, absolutely yes. I have said those very exact words to my husband and my best friend. I’m too much of one thing and not enough of another.I always assume the worst. I assume I’m a failure. I assume people talk badly about me. In reality, I’m not a failure, and probably most people are too caught up in their lives to talk about mine.I don’t know. But there’s one thing I do know- I’m trying. Trying to be better, trying to do more, be more, be less, be better, be worst. Whatever it is, I’m trying. And Christ is alive in me, so please, for heaven’s sake, give me a break. HOPEFULLY you need and enjoy this inspiration as much as I do.

 

I hope you found inspiration in these blog posts this week! What are your most inspiring blog posts this week?

Kat

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Filed under Parenting, Personal Posts

Little Boy Magic

I love little boys. Little girls are special too, and of course they deserve a post as well, but there’s just something wonderful and messy and sticky and fun about little boys. This mama’s heart has a special place for boys. I don’t know why. That’s just how God wanted me. Wes and Si (2)

Today I fished out the second object discovered in Little Man’s nose. He’s 2. First there was the sponge. You know those little sponges that start out as capsules and grow in water? He ripped one up and shoved part of it in his nostril. I think it was a dinosaur leg. Today was a red bead. I’m honestly not even mad. Sure, I lectured and told him once again DON’T SHOVE THINGS IN YOUR NOSE! But then I just had to laugh. This is life with boys. Sometimes it’s weird. Often it’s loud. Always it’s messy. But I love it, and them, so much.

 

Oh how I love my boys….

My boys run through my house screaming, chasing, and making noises that make my ears want to hide.

Little Man fills clothes baskets with cars and balls, just to push them around the house. No other reason.

Buggy asks me on some mornings if it can be a “mustache day.” On Mustache Day, I draw him a mustache with my eyeliner and that’s it. He goes around life on Mustache Day– to see family, to the grocery store, to church, etc. with his mustache.

No, I didn't draw this mustache.

No, I didn’t draw this mustache.

I just love these little boys….

Little boys are just as sensitive as little girls. They cry just as easily and wear their emotions as freely as girls. We’re the ones who tell them, over time, that this is unacceptable. But I love the open-heartedness of little boys.

When Buggy {now 4} has spent the night with grandparents and hasn’t seen me in a day or two, he always gets choked up when he sees me walk in to pick him up. I live for hearing that “Mama! You’re here!” And seeing the little quiver of joy in his lip, evidence that when I’m gone, I’m missed just as much as I miss him.

Buggy stayed the night with his grandparents the other night and was up twice standing over his Bo asking if they could sleep together. He was sent back to bed twice, but his little heart was so excited about the idea of getting to help Bo in his shop in the morning. He couldn’t wait to help him make somethin’.

They’re messy. Today at lunch after church, Buggy got jello with his meal, and by the time our meal was over, it was in his hair. Again, I just smile.

Sweet, Helpful Boys

My boys love to help. They helped unload the car of groceries today. We did respite for another foster family a few weeks ago, and they nearly fought over giving the baby her bottle.

Little Man can go from completely ornery and mean towards his sister to this sweet little voice saying, “Hi Kitty!” as he pets the cat with the gentlest of hands.

I love when he runs into my room in the morning and says, “Hi Mama!” with the sweetest smile on his face. Be still my heart. Sweet sweet boys.

They love mud. They love Legos. They love play dough, Lincoln Logs, and paper airplanes. A paper airplane from daddy made from church programs on a Sunday afternoon is the highlight of the weekend.

With boys, it’s simple. And wonderful.

I promised Buggy a special surprise last week if he was good while we ran errands, unsure at the time what this surprise might be. A sugar-free sucker from the sweet bank lady at the end of our long day was enough to make him clap and cheer in the back seat. As he gobbled down his treat, he said sweetly, “Thank you, Mama, for my special surprise!”

Little boys have no shame. They burp in public. They freely play dress up in Sister’s fairy costume with no hesitation or embarrassment. They tromp around the house in Mama’s high heels. They LOVE being naked… And make sure they get plenty of naked time daily.

I love hearing Buzz Light Year randomly yell from the bedroom in the middle of the night.

I love that Buggy can’t sleep without his precious Elmo and Little Man calls all stuffed animals “babies.”

I love that they beat each other up, wrestle, pick on each other, and make each other cry, but they also protect, defend, and watch out for each other like only brothers do.

I love finding a Lincoln Log or Hot Wheel car in the sink under a pile of dirty dishes. “It needed to be washed,” I’m told.

God made boys so very special. He made them with breakable hearts, earnest intentions, deep devotions, and honest minds. And I absolutely adore watching them form and grow according to His glorious will.

These precious boys will be husbands, fathers, church leaders, and community examples someday. A shining beacon of light in a dark world. I hope I do well in raising them up in the way they should go.

Protect, honor, love, cherish, and fiercely fight for your little boys. Childhood is precious and far too short. Love them and protect them, and the Lord will honor your efforts.

A shining moment this week…

Today I overheard my sweet Buggy singing a song to himself. He was singing his own version of the classic hymn, “To God be the Glory.” The words weren’t exactly correct, but it was still beautiful, and it was a song from his happy heart to his Savior who delights in him. Who could ask for more?

Thank you, Lord, for these boys. Not just mine, but the other precious boys of my friends, the precious boys in our church who will one day be men. Thank you for their sweetness, their spunk, their proclivity towards mischief. Thank you for beads in the nose and Legos in the tub. Thank you for mud pies in January and pink butterfly wings running through the house making firetruck noises. Thank you Jesus, for the beautiful glimpse of perfection you give us in our children. Thank you for the wonder and magic of little boys. May it last as long as possible.

Amen.

 

Kat

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Filed under Parenting, Personal Posts

The Year of {Positive} Challenges

Okay, I’m not a kitschy kind of girl. I loved “Julie and Julia” as much as the next food-wolfer-downer but I’m not one to take on the burden of doing something every single day and coming on here to tell my readers about it. Plus, my blog isn’t that kind of blog.

But it’s 12:01 am as I write this, one minute into my 28th birthday, and I decided that I wanted to do something a little different. And it’s my blog, so why not? I’m not gonna cook everything out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so please don’t log off. I just got this wild hare that maybe I could try to take on new challenges that won’t cause me more stress or put another thing on my plate, but rather enhance my life and make my family’s life a little more peaceful and bring us closer together. Challenges that make me a better mom. Challenges that help me connect to my husband more. Challenges that might make my house a little tidier. That sort of thing.

I can’t commit to a year, because that’s ridiculous and honestly it gives me panic sweats and heart palpitations just thinking about taking on something every single day for a full year. But I can start with 30 days.

So, in honor of my birthday, I want to commit to something I already love and do every single day anyway {is that cheating?}… Reading. I read constantly. I have six different books on my bedside stand/Kindle right now, and I’ll go back and forth between all of them until I’m done, and then I simply pick up a new one. Reading is the greatest thing in the whole world, and one thing I’m not so great at is reading to my kids. I’m actually ashamed to admit that.

I intend to read to Buggy every day, but I sometimes don’t. I forget, or we get busy, or I’m too tired, or he can’t decide on a story that he wants to hear, so I don’t read to him. I grew up being read to by my Aunt Annie, who taught me to love Roald Dahl and recite every word to Tikki Tikki Tembo and I desperately want to instill that same love and literary adoration in my own son, but I don’t do a great job of it sometimes. I think he loves and appreciates books, but I want to read to him daily.

So for my first 30 day challenge for myself, in the year of bettering my life, I want to read to Buggy every single day. Typing that “every single day” part made my fingers shaky and a tiny bead of sweat pop out on my forehead. Get back in there sweat bead, cuz we’re doing this!

That beautiful children’s book collection of ours is going to be loved on this month. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday month than snuggling up with my littles and enjoying the books I loved so much when I was little.

Do you enjoy challenging yourself to try new things? What might you challenge yourself to this month? Wanna join me in reading to your kiddos everyday this month? Tell me about it!

❤ Kat

 

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Filed under Activities, Parenting, Personal Posts, Stay at Home Moms

2014 Resolutions

I really hate new year resolutions. I always have. In the past, I’ve always broken those resolutions by February, and then spent the rest of the spring trying to remember what I even resolved to do more or less of in the first place. Guilt follows, and then you usually end up backsliding even further into whatever bad habit you were trying to break. For these reasons, I haven’t made a new years resolution in many years.

But this year I’m doing things a little different. I realize that there are two types of resolutions: Those you want, and those you need. This year, I’m not resolving to do things I want. I’m resolving to do things I need.

For instance, resolution #1– I want to lose about five {twelve} pounds. Instead, I’m going to not worry about numbers and say that I need to get more active. I need to ride my bike, jog, go for walks with Buggy, etc. rather than worry about numbers on a scale. That’s a much easier resolution to stick to than restricting my beauty and self worth to some magic number that tells me when I can finally be happy with my body. That’s stupid. I just need to be a little healthier.

Resolution #2- I want to be more organized, but really, I need to be less stressed. Organization will definitely help with my stress levels, so this week before Travis returns to work, I’m going to organize closets, cabinets, and shelves so we can start this next semester off with a little more peace. Beyond that though, I’m not going to kill myself for the rest of the year trying to have a Martha Stewart closet. In the past, I’ve downloaded binders full of checklists and helpful tips on how to keep a better organized home, and then I end up not following the tips {because they aren’t specific to our family} and I beat myself up for it. I’m not gonna do that. We’ll start the year off as fresh and tidy as possible, but beyond that, I’m not going to stress out about it.

Resolution #3-
Our school year usually starts in January in our household. It’s the perfect time for new beginnings and fresh ideas, and I just love starting school at the beginning of the calendar year. Usually I have all of these plans for unit studies, books, and skills that I want to tackle at the start of the year. I find myself on Pinterest late at night finding adorable crafts and activities for Buggy, but then reality sets in and we usually don’t have time to do even half of the things I wanted to do. I have two other children at home who have various therapies and appointments, and I try my hardest to work in what I can with Buggy, but last year a great deal of time was spent in my head feeling angry with myself and worrying that I had let him down.

I realize now that I did not let him down, and that from our little hiatus from school he learned so many other invaluable things. And still, we took time to play games, snuggle, tickle, laugh, read books and sing songs. So this year, instead of focusing on all the cutes stuff I want to do, I’m going to focus on the simple things I need to do. I need to read with him more. I need to stop doing the dishes sometimes and sit down to make train tracks with him. I need to have tickle fights. I need to watch “Curious George” in the mornings. My spirit needs that, he needs that, and I need to not live in guilt over the things we didn’t get done.

And lastly, resolution #4- This year, I need to slow down and stop beating myself up. I need to realize I’m a great mom, a loving wife, and a mediocre housekeeper who at least keeps things from reaching that unlivable level of dirty. I’m proud of us fostering. I’m proud of us homeschooling. I’m proud that we are different from other families that we know. I’m resolving to cherish this chaos that others don’t understand and often criticize. I’m resolving to be even less conventional than we already are, and I’m resolving to love it more than I already do. I’m resolving to not compete with other families and worry over what one kid is doing that mine isn’t. I want to go at his pace, at our pace.

This year will be about simplifying, saying “no” more often, and cherishing what we have here. This is the year of focusing on what our spirits need and worrying less about what others say. It’s about doing things to feed and grow our family rather than what we want or desire. This is a year about taking things as they come and not fretting over the future {which is very hard to do in fostering}. This year I need to feel the Lord’s peace around me and let out a big sigh of relief that I don’t have control and He does.

I hope that 2014 brings a sweet simplicity to our home as well as yours. I hope it brings you peace and joy and calmness. What are some of your resolutions for this year?

Kat

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Filed under Personal Posts, Simplify Your Life, Stay at Home Moms, Uncategorized

Kitchen Table Classroom: Learning The United States

Little turned four 2 weeks ago {I cannot even believe it!} and we had a fabulous pirate party {post coming soon}. We also took a trip to California last week and had a fantastic time together as a family enjoying Disneyland, Hollywood, Santa Monica beach, and Beverly Hills. I have so much to post on! I’m sorry I’ve fallen behind.

A New Routine Continue reading

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Filed under Kitchen Table Classroom, Learning at Home, Simplify Your Life, Stay at Home Moms

Protecting our Sons

Photo by Katie Woody Photography.

Photo by Katie Woody Photography.

My son will be four years old in just a few weeks. I really can’t believe how fast time has flown by. It seems like yesterday he was a tiny baby. And believe me when I say he was a TINY baby.

I look at him now and I still see my baby. He still struggles to say his L’s. He’s not using the potty standing up yet. He still asks for me to help him fall asleep at nap time by patting his back until he’s out. Elmo is still his best friend. He sleeps with a night light and gets scared by the gurgling sounds of the humidifier. His heart breaks when he thinks daddy forgot to tell him good bye in the mornings before work. In all these precious little ways, he’s still my baby. He’s still learning. He still holds my hand when we walk, still asks to be carried when he’s too tired to. He’s excited by little things like play dates with friends, fresh snowfall, and an impromptu pizza lunch on a cold February day. Continue reading

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Filed under Parenting, Personal Posts, Proverbs 31 Homemaker