9 days

Only 9 more days. 9 days left until my son finally has my last name. Nine days left until he can legally be called by the name I have been whispering in his sweet little ear for 18 long months. 9 days until we are a legal family of four. I can’t even begin to process all the emotions I am feeling. I feel such joy that there aren’t even words grand enough to describe it; like the very best our english language has to offer cannot even begin to convey the depth and the breadth of the feelings this day will signify for me.

18 excruciating months of just NOT knowing. It would look good, and then look bad, visits would be kept, then blown, then decreased, then increased. Court decisions would get postponed, then go our way, and then visits would increase again. To say it has been an emotional roller coaster does not do justice to what my heart and mind have been through for the last 18 months. It has been an emotional blender. The other part of me is experiencing such an extreme sadness at the same time. I feel like I am grieving the loss of biological family my son is too young to comprehend. when I look at pictures and think back to the off and on times my son was with them; I am immensely thankful he has remained unharmed and thank the Lord everyday for placing him in our protection. But I am so sad. Sad for everything they should be but aren’t. I grieve the fact that they will never be what he needs and that they will never know the joy that he is to everyone around him. I am sad that they will never have even basic information about him; where he is, how he’s doing; they won’t even know his new name. and I am sad for him; that these people couldn’t get their life together in time to know an amazing little boy. I am so torn because throughout this entire process, for us to keep our son, they had to fail. Every victory for us was a defeat for them or a mistake on their part. I never prayed that they would fail or mess up, but I did pray that God would allow me to keep the child He so clearly placed in my arms, and that prayer had implications. For one to win the other must lose; for one to gain the other fails.

Watching your son, your very heart get carried out of your home by a stranger, while crying and reaching for you, knowing there is nothing you can do but wait until his visit is over is one of the worst feelings ever. Not knowing what is happening, not knowing if he is ok, or scared, or being cared for. Not trusting the workers assigned to monitor the visit any farther than you can throw them and trying to implore them to keep an eye on your son, your baby, your precious boy; while they look at you like you are just another client and you are getting way too attached to your foster kid.  Trying to find out information about how the case is going; something, ANYthing. Being told they will tell you as soon as they know but then being left out of the loop time and time and time again. Not knowing what else to do so you go on about your life. Trusting in God, but scared to death all at the same time. Bonding with your son, teaching him, watching him grow, listening to his giggle; all the while knowing that someone could ring your doorbell at any time and tell you to pack his things. Fear, joy, pain, anger, hope, helplessness, frustration, happiness, wonder, sadness, love, and disappointment all mixing together in such a violent cocktail you wonder if it won’t surely rip you in two; but then you look down into those big brown eyes and think “pour me a double, let’s do this again, I will fight for this child until my very bones turn to dust, you do not know me, and you surely do not know my God if you think this is even close to over!” 

 

Want to hear the best part? Let me whisper it to you: our God reigns. 

Did you catch it? Let me tell you a little louder: OUR God reigns! 

There is no use trying to contain it, let me shout it from the rooftops at the top of my lungs:

OUR GOD REIGNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He has calmed every storm, overcome every obstacle, moved every mountain, and changed every circumstance and HE. HAS. BEEN. VICTORIOUS! All glory goes to Him, all honor and praise are due Him, He is STILL a God of miracles. I have never been so humbled in all my life, I feel like if I spent every day of the rest of my life on my face before His throne it would not be enough; His love is amazing! I know it is only through the power of Jesus Christ that this little miracle is sleeping in the room next to me right now; and that is where he is going to STAY! 9 more days and the clouds of fear and doubt will be blown away because he will (legally) be MY child and NO one can take him from me! What a day that will be when I hold him in my arms for the first time as his legal mama, and the Lord allows the law to confirm what He declared in the quiet of my heart 18 months ago!  It is just almost too much for this poor heart to bear; but isn’t that just like God? He is Good, friends. He is so good. 

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Jonah is 1

This blog is a little later than I had hoped, but nonetheless it is here!

My baby boy turned 1 in January! I cannot believe how quickly a year flew by! Looking at old pictures of him as we prepared things for the party, it felt like he was just placed in my arms yesterday! I knew that I wanted to make his first party a big one, even though he would never remember it ;) 

We went with a whale/nautical theme; I think this post will be mostly pictures. enjoy! 

 

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I took a picture of Jonah every month and here they all were lined up for the year <3 

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Such a wonderful time with friends and family! 

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I know this blog is usually about fun, and family, and craziness, but I feel like talking about something else today. I want to talk about addictions. Several of my friends have been talking recently about struggling with addiction; most of these friends are believers in Christ. It has caught me off guard that so many people I care about are succumbing to things the world promises will make them feel better, yet they have walked with the Lord. They know Him. 

I understand that life gets crazy; it did for Jesus and it has for anyone who has chosen to follow Him since. I hear them say things like “things are just so stressful right now” or “I just can’t handle the pressures I am under”. I get it, I really do. What I don’t get? Thinking for a second that anything other than the arms of Christ are going to grant  you the serenity you are chasing. You can’t have peace without the Prince of Peace. The world holds up a broken, dirty, disgusting solution and tries to convince you your vice will get you through this. Jesus longs to wipe you clean and carry you through it. Why can’t He be enough? When you choose worldly coping mechanisms over Jesus, aren’t you, in essence, saying “I wish you were enough Jesus. Maybe if you made me forget like this alcohol does.”  “I wish you were enough Jesus, but you don’t calm me down like this nicotine.” “I know you gave me the very breath in my lungs, but you can’t fix this problem like my favorite drug can.”

There will always be stress; there will always be busy-ness and craziness, drama and upheaval, pressures and demands. If you are waiting for those things to cease so that you can quit, they aren’t going to. You need to find a new coping mechanism. Jesus said “Come to me all ye who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you REST.” So stop trying to find rest from the chaos in things that were designed to give you MORE chaos! Not to mention steal the very breath from your lungs and the life from your bones. Jesus said “I have come so that you may have LIFE“; the devil wants to rob you of that life and you let him with every sip, drag, gulp, and snort. Let Him be enough, He is ALL you need. 

 

goodbye 2012

This year is drawing to a close and for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m not sure I like that. On New Year’s Eves past my sentiments have been “good riddance 20XX” or “20XX was certainly not our year, so bring on the next; it has GOT to be better than the one we just had.” 

This year, I don’t know. 2012 has been so beautiful to us, so amazing, so life changing. It started the same as any other year, but before we were even a full month in, 2012 changed the game forever. This year has been indescribable. I literally cannot put into words what this year has meant for our family. It has been the fulfillment of every promise God has whispered to me in the midst of prayers said in anguish; the culmination of a Holy dance of trust the Lord has been leading me through for the past ten years of my life. The Spirit filled crescendo of a song Jesus wrote just for me. 

This year has been amazing for other reasons as well: we celebrated my mom’s 10 year cancer remission anniversary, my sister, sister in law, and my best friend all found out they were pregnant this year, Tyler started his first pastorate as a senior pastor, and my brother started his senior year of college. Yeah, 2012 has been great to us. 

Part of me wants to hold so tightly to it, because I know it can’t always be this way. Right now we are all happy, we are all healthy, we are all together. (All too soon Jeff will be graduating and heading out on his own, which means leaving Kansas) I just want to take all these pieces of life and gather them up around me, and hold them tight. I want to squeeze them in my arms and make everything stay just as it is now. I know great times are ahead, but I know some really hard times probably are too, and I want to hide in the warmth and security of 2012 just a bit longer. I want to bask in this feeling, this beauty, this year, just a little more. It’s been like feeling the warm sun on my face after a never-ending winter, like wrapping up in a toasty towel fresh from the dryer after getting soaked to the bone in a freezing cold rain :) The Lord has revealed so much of Himself to me this year and changed the way I understand so many things, I don’t want that to stop. I know He is in control and change is inevitable, but with such a sweet year filled with baby yawns, and slobbery kisses, can you blame me for wanting to stretch this year out for as long as I can? 

Have fun with your loved ones this New Year’s, be careful and be safe. Treasure the moments that make it all worth it this next year; recognize them as they are happening and just soak them in; allow yourself to feel every facet of every emotion they gift you with. Let the Lord lead your steps, let go of the things that hold you back from Him, leave them on the shore and let him sweep you away in His current. It will be scary at first, with the rushing water, the sudden drops, the spinning and twisting in the water; but I guarantee you will never feel more alive! 

As for me? I am going to soak up the precious last moments of 2012 like a lazy cat on a sunny patch of carpet. I am going to wring every last drop of comfort, warmth and security I can from this year, because it has been the literal best year of my life; Glory be to God. 

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I don’t want to miss a thing

My mom and I were out shopping today, not really with anything in mind, we were just taking the kids for a stroll at the mall. I have been looking for a Christmas dress for Mazie and we found some really cute dresses at Sears (60% off, mind you!). I walked toward the dresses and I was suddenly overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness. I looked at each dress with its sparkles, bows, and lace, and I thought about the little girl I would carefully put it on  for the candlelight service on Christmas eve. Then I thought about last Christmas eve, it was a wonderful holiday and it was filled with family and friends… but no babies.

I remember the ache in my heart and the longing in my soul for a family of my own; little did I know all that God had in store for me right around the corner! If you would have told me at this time last year that I would be bringing not only one, but TWO babies to the Christmas eve service this year, I would not have believed you. It seemed so impossible. Even though these kids are everything my heart has ever desired and more, I still remember the hurt, as vivid as if  it were yesterday. Remembering the gnawing ache of that emptiness as I walked toward those little dresses; feeling it momentarily and then having it completely eclipsed by the overwhelming joy I feel everyday when I look at those sweet babies made tears spring to my eyes instantly. The Lord is GOOD. and He makes ALL things perfect in His time.

This is national adoption month. To my friends who are still waiting; stand strong, your time is coming. The Lord will be faithful to you, continue to seek Him with all your heart. We are traveling this road together; there were certainly those that carried me along my path, never be afraid to let someone bear your burden for a season, that is the true meaning of the Church.

I titled this post “I don’t want to miss  a thing”. Tyler and I have been talking lately about how the babies are almost out of “firsts”. “This is our first halloween with kids!” “This is the first Thanksgiving with our babies!” Pretty soon, we won’t be able to say that anymore, and while it makes me sad to even think about that, I just don’t want to miss one tiny thing along the way. Every moment, every new experience is a gift, and I just don’t ever want to forget that, or feel like I realized it too late.

A few weeks ago I was going out of town with my friend Shelby and her aunt. Shelby was introducing us and she said “This is Kate, the one with the two babies; haha, is that weird that you are known as ‘you know, the one with the two babies’?”

“No” I said, I loved hearing that “because you could not have said that a year ago.” God is amazingly good, He is more gracious to me than I could ever ask for or deserve. I give Him all the glory. Whatever stage you are in, in your life, stand close with your loved ones. Cherish them, love them, and treasure each moment. I don’t want you to miss a thing.

Pray about giving a loving home to a child who needs to know what a family is. Happy National Adoption Month!

The beauty of fall

It has been a WHILE! I said in my very first post that I may write a blog every day, or every 6 months, and I am certainly holding to that idea! So much has happened in the last few months, I don’t know where to start!

Mazie is doing well; she just started rolling over and I believe there will be a tooth or two popping through those gums any day now. Ashton is growing like a weed, sitting up on his own and scooting all OVER the house! He is also trying big boy food and is finding it very much to his liking!

Things at the house are good; my wonderful husband just put up new blinds for me last weekend and we just got mazie moved into her own room a couple weeks ago.
It has been a busy couple of months!

Hmmm, what else is new? One of my closest friends just had her baby girl, my sister is having a baby boy in january, my other sister is having a baby girl in early December, and my very best friend is having a little girl around Christmas! It will be a wonderful new year indeed!

The title of my post was “The beauty of fall”. I love fall. That’s really all I wanted to say when I wrote that title. I love the smells, I love the flavors, and I Loooove the colors! Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s the time when the leaves turn beautiful, it’s the time when coffee, tea, and soup make you feel oh so cozy, and it’s this very time of year, 8 wonderful years ago, that I fell in love with my best friend. This fall also marks the 10 year anniversary of my mom being cancer free. The sights, smells, and colors of fall bring back some of my very sweetest memories.

Wherever you are in life, I hope you can take a minute this fall and just relax. Breathe deep the smell of pumpkin spice and apple cider, listen to the wind howl and the leaves crunch beneath your feet. This is a special time of year, let it welcome you into the fast approaching holiday season!

I will try to become a little more regular with my blog posts…but my kids are just so cute! Maybe when they are asleep I can write ;) Hope you are all doing amazing.

2 months ago

That’s the last time I washed my hair with shampoo and conditioner. I heard that “ewwww”; hang in there, it’s not as gross as you think. I first stumbled upon the concept of going “no poo” about 3 months ago. I tried it out, and was relatively impressed with the results, but I did wander back to shampoo for a while; more on that later. 

So what does it mean to go “no poo”?  It means that I wash my hair with baking soda and water, and I condition with apple cider vinegar and water. Still with me? ok, good. The recipe is one Tbsp baking soda per cup of water, same for the Apple cider vinegar. Depending on your hair type, you may need to try more or less of the ingredients to get your desired result. My hair is long and thick, so I end up using 2 Tbsp and 2 cups of water with each ingredient. 

Why are you doing this?! 

1. The cost. It seems like shampoo and conditioner continue to cost more and more each time I go to the store. I can get a big box of baking soda and a huge tub of vinegar for very little money. Considering I only use 2 Tbsp of each per wash, those things will last me an absurd amount of time. 

2. It’s better for your hair. Ever notice how you wash your hair one day, and then you wake up the next day and it is a greasy mess? You hear that it is better for your hair to wash every OTHER day, but you cannot bring yourself to do it because of the second day grease slick. Here is why that happenes: shampoo strips your hair of build up and oils. The problem is, your hair and scalp are supposed to have natural oils, but the shampoo strips those too. Then your scalp starts producing copious amounts of oil to try to keep up with the shampoo constantly stripping them away; hence the oil problem. Going no poo will get your hair clean, while allowing your natural oils to remain, leaving your hair healthier, shinier, and ph balanced. Brutal honesty time here. (don’t think i am gross) I washed my hair friday, for our finalization. Then I dryed and curled it for the special day. Saturday I woke up and brushed out my hair; cute curls held and scalp looked awesome. No more day 2 grease. Enter Sunday; I woke up with every intention on washing my hair; two screaming babies and a time warp later it was time to get to church! Frustrated I went to get ready, thinking of how I could put my hair up so that nobody would be able to tell it was in need of a wash. I brushed it out while I thought over my options; and then I looked at it. curls STILL holding, looking wavy and pretty; still not oily looking. I parted my hair and peered in close to the roots; looked really clean! and Shiny. so I left it. If you saw me at church that day, I am hoping you could not tell it had been a couple days since my hair had a wash. 

Ok, so what are the down sides?

 1. Piggy backing off my previous point, because your hair has been trained to produce more oil, when you start a no poo regimen, it takes a while for your scalp to catch up to the fact that you are now loving your hair’s natural oil, not trying to get rid of it anymore. Eventually, after about a week or two, your scalp WILL get the memo, but until then you can expect a little extra oil. Hang tough and wait for it to pass. 

2. Going no poo does not FEEL as satisfying as shampoo while you are washing. There is no rich lather, no yummy smelling bubbles. This is why I wandered back to shampoo for a while, but when it was time to buy more, and I looked at the prices, I remembered why I was doing this! Also, my hair was not staying as clean on day 2 anymore, which was not fun.

Alright, then how do you do it?

You can make up a large batch to keep in your shower, but as I learned from experience, that gets COLD when you leave it in there. This is an unpleasant feeling. I mix mine each time I wash. I keep my tools of the trade in the bathroom, on the sink by the shower.

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First I pour the two Tbsp of baking soda in my measuring cup. I then mix it with water and pour that into my vinegar bottle (which, by the way holds almost exactly two cups of liquid!) Then i fill it up, shake it with my hand over the top, and there you go. use and rinse! Then I do the same with the vinegar. I line up the handles of the Tbsp and the measuring cup like this so that I don’t spill: 

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Then I put in the two cups of water, shake, and use. After you leave the vinegar on for a few minutes, rinse. I like to rinse with cool water; it closes the pours on your scalp and makes your hair even softer. 

Doesn’t your hair stink like Vinegar? 

No. Surprisingly! It just doesn’t. You will think it is going to as your are using it, but if you make sure you rinse well, it does not smell like vinegar at all. Next time you see me, feel free to smell my hair; all my friends have when I have told them I do this! 

If you want more info on going no poo, one of my favorite sites is this one

What does your hair  look like?

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Shiny

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Clean! 

If you feel adventurous, give it a try! You might love it… and save yourself a boat load of money in the process! :) 

She’s a Vance

Friday was a monumental day in the life of our growing family! Little miss Mazie’s adoption was finalized, and she is now officially a Vance! We got her all dressed up in her brown and white dress, with a matching head band that mommy made just for this occasion! 

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Ok, well, someone wouldn’t sit up, but hopefully you can get an idea of how stinkin’ adorable she was! :) 

We went before Judge Trish Rose, who signed all our official paperwork and was even kind enough to pose for a few pictures! 

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We were so blessed to have most of my family there to share in out special day. The girls were so well behaved I hardly knew they were there! 

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Here is one of us outside the courthouse. Holding little Ms. Vance! 

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That night we went out to celebrate!

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This day was the culmination of so many years of waiting, so many prayers, so many tears, so many dead end roads. We know countless friends and family had been lifting us up in prayer for so long; we know God has heard your prayers, and we are so thankful for all of your intercessions on our behalf. We truly could not have made it through some of the valleys without the knowledge that you were all there for us, praying, waiting, and supporting us the whole way. We are beyond blessed and words fail to describe what we feel knowing that this sweet little girl is OURS. SHE IS OURS! And nobody can ever take her away! :) Now if only we can get things worked out on the other side, we will be a family of four for good. We continue to covet your prayers on that front. We are just so thankful to all of you. As much as this day was for us, it was for all of you too; everyone who has prayed, called, stopped by, and supported us. We are so thankful to have each and every one of you in our lives! 

Dryer Balls and Hair bows!

*disclaimer* This post is originally from 5/18/12  I am just getting around to publishing it a little late! :)

This week has been all about crafting! Tuesday I got together with my wonderful friend Cassi, and we made some hair bows for our little girls! Then today we tackled the project of dryer balls! We got all our materials and I started the project to see how difficult it was going to be and if we would need more materials. What are dryer balls, you ask? They are balls of felted wool yarn that go (wait for it…) in your dryer! They are supposed to suck up a lot of moisture, get rid of static, and soften your clothes so that you do not need to spend money on fabric softener anymore! Supposedly, people have had their laundry drying time cut up to 50% and their bills have been reduced as well. With all those benefits and a relatively uncomplicated fabrication process, why not try it?! I will keep you all posted on how things are going with it as this project continues, but I am pretty excited to see if they live up to their reputation!

 

Lazy Days

It’s a lazy sunday. Aren’t those the best?! My dishes aren’t done, the laundry isn’t folded, my living room is cluttered, and don’t even look at the mess I call a bathroom; but sitting here reflecting on the sermon from the morning, I am at peace. Holding my sleeping daughter in my arms, I am complete. Listening to my son coo in his crib waking up from a nap, I am overcome with joy. There is a poem I once heard, author unknown; here are some of my favorite pieces of it:

Mother, oh Mother,

come shake out your cloth,

 empty the dustpan,

poison the moth,

hang out the washing

and butter the bread,

sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house

is so shocking?

She’s up in the nursery,

blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown tired while reading Little Boy Blue, 

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due

The shopping’s not done

and there’s nothing for stew

But Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?

The cleaning and scrubbing

will wait till tomorrow,

for Children grow up,

as I’ve learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down, cobwebs.

Dust go to sleep.

I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep……

So whatever you are doing today, in the busy-ness of life, just stop. Spend time with your kids or your spouse; catch up with an old friend. Spend some time just BEING, rather than DOING. It’s ok to give yourself permission, I promise the mess and obligations will still be there waiting for you when you return, but for now; relax. Hope your lazy sunday is as beautiful as mine!