Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vacation Roundup--Updated with photos!

Thanks to all of you who have e-mailed asking about our trip! Wow! You guys are really great! So… not that I expect you all to want to hear every detail of our little family life, but I thought I would give you a little summary of our trip.

Well, our vacation actually started the day before we left, if that makes any sense. Last Friday night, we were able to go to a circus here in our hometown, and it was great!!! If you have a chance to see Carson & Barnes, I highly recommend it. I had never been to a tent circus before, and it was such a fun atmosphere! The kids really enjoyed it—especially the part where they got to eat a snow-cone—and Jon and I had a great time too. There were some really cool things there (like some cool acrobats and even elephant rides!) and some really bizarre things (like a contortionist—UGH!), and overall it was just a great way to start our week of family time.

The next morning we left our house bright-and-early-ish J and headed to my parents' house to start our big adventure. This was the first time Jon and I have had a chance to go on a trip with my parents, and it was so great! Not only did we enjoy getting to spend the time with them, but it was really neat for me that the kids got to see them every day for a week. Even this morning (two days after we got back) Matt woke up saying, "Papa? Papa? Papa!"

Anyway, our main destination for the trip was Colonial Williamsburg. However, we rented a house out there, and the house was only available for four nights. So first we went to DC, which is basically right on the way for us. Can I just tell you, Priceline is a wonderful thing??? We were able to get a 4-star hotel in downtown DC for just $75 a night! Yay!!!

We had a great time in our nation's capitol, even though we weren't there for very long. We only hit a couple of "attractions" but they were all so worthwhile. We did get to see one of my very favorite things there, which is the WWII memorial. It was just as beautiful as I remembered it, and the four of us (Jon, the kids, and I) enjoyed sitting on the edge of the fountain with our feet dangling in the water. We also checked out the Native American Museum and some absolutely beautiful gardens by the Smithsonian Castle. Oh, and we found a fabulous place to eat near Chinatown. If you are ever in that area, head straight for Clyde's! It is AWESOME—a very nice place to go on a romantic date or for a more formal dinner, but also very kid-friendly.

On Monday we headed to Williamsburg and our house with the indoor heated swimming pool… or so we thought. We got to the house and headed straight for the pool. "Oh," we thought, "we must need to turn the heat up." But alas, it was no use. The boiler was broken. And unfortunately, it remained that way for the duration of our trip. Those of you who know us "in real life" may start to think that we have some sort of "heated pool curse" after the OBX fiasco last year… I'm starting to wonder about it myself. J So anyway, that was a REAL bummer, because I don't think the air temperature dipped below 90 degrees the entire time we were there! It was unbelievably hot and humid… OY! Jon and I ventured into the pool a couple of times, and the kids loved to play AROUND it—you know, by tossing in balls and such that they expected us to fetch for them. J But that was about the extent of our luxurious pool time. Oh well.

But the "historic triangle", as they call it, was very, very cool. And you are talking to a girl who is NOT into history. At all. We didn't get to see much of Williamsburg, to be honest, but I enjoyed what we saw, and I loved Jamestown and Yorktown. The museum at Yorktown is one of the best I have ever seen, and we loved getting to see the artillery demonstration and learning about the medical practices of the day and… so many things. And I feel like there's still so much more to see! I can't wait to go back—but maybe in spring or fall, when it's a little cooler. J

Some of my favorite memories of the week, though, are just of the time together. Watching Matt explore and play in a shady spot in Williamsburg, while everyone else was on a tour of the governor's palace. (He absolutely did NOT want to sit for that!) Seeing Grace just cling to her daddy, so happy to have him all to herself for a week. Making smores in the fire pit in the backyard. Playing cards with my parents after bedtime, which we haven't really had a chance to do since we had kids. And even just having time to myself—the few days that we did get in a nap time, I was typically the only one who didn't nap, and it was wonderful! I read, I prayed, I even exercised.

And now we're home, which has also been good. We had to check out of the house on Friday morning, and Jon and I drove straight home, pulling in around 10 PM Friday night. It made for a long day of driving, but it has been so nice to have the entire weekend at home before getting back to reality on Monday morning. We all overslept this morning, so we didn't make it to church, but we are enjoying time with the kids and getting the house back in order.

Here are a few highlights of the trip. Enjoy! (The pictures are a little small for my taste, but I'm not sure how to do it any better... But if you click on the slideshow below, it'll bring it up the picture you clicked on a separate window that is bigger. Then you can click on "View Album" and see all the pic or a bigger slideshow from there.)

I'll get back to my regular posting soon! :-)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some questions I am pondering...

Vacation is almost over! I am sitting on the couch of our rented house in Virginia while my parents are reading and my wonderful husband is putting sweet Gracie to bed. (Matt has been down for a few hours already.) We leave tomorrow, and as I reflect on the past week I have come up with a few questions...
  • Why is 75 such a perfect temperature for air, but not for a swimming pool?
  • Why do children who normally go to bed at 8:00 and get up at 7:00 STILL manage to get up at 7:00, even when they've gone to bed 2 hours (or more!) late?
  • How did colonists survive these temperatures without AC?
  • Oh, and how did they survive without--gulp--wireless internet?????
  • How many times can one person listen to "Cedarmont Kids" sing "Behold, behold, I stand at the door and knock, knock, knock" in one sitting?
  • When is our next trip???

It's been a nutty week, and not everything has gone according to plan... but it has been a great time of togetherness both for the four of us, and for us with my parents. We have seen some neat things and shared some good times, and I love each member of my family even more than I did when we got here.

I look forward to talking to you more about the trip! :-)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's time!!!

Have you ever been so busy doing mommy things that you don't have time to be a mommy? That's how I've felt all this week... I've been doing laundry and dishes, cooking and cleaning; working hard on this moms' conference; getting some planning and prep done for MOPS next year; and the list goes on. I have countless times heard, "Mommy, will you play with me?" And just as often I've replied, "Honey, Mommy really has to do some work right now. I'll play with you as soon as I can." Ugh.

But now, it's time to just be the mommy. For the next week we will watch movies and play tag and color and talk and play "Larry Boy" (which, as Gracie describes it, is a game where "we just run around and don't catch anybody"). :-) It's time to love on my children and my husband and think and enjoy. Aaaaaahhhhhhhh. I'm breathing more deeply just thinking about it.

Well, I hope to check in with you all this week, but no guarantees. If not, I'll talk to you when we get back.

Have a blessed week.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, Part 5

This is where it gets tricky. Not because it's uncomfortable to share, just because I don't know where to start! Do I tell you my parents' story as they told it that day, without all of the background? Do I give the background and spoil the ending? Do I tell my birth mom's story first? Do I try to interweave the two????? Well, I don't expect you have the answers to those questions, either, so I might as well just pick a place to start and go with it. J

I sat down with my parents that day, expecting them to give me a basic layout of how they got me—maybe what agency they used or what county I was born in or… something. I thought they would point me in the general direction of what courthouse was storing my super-secret-biological-records. I thought it would be a 15-minute talk.

I had no idea.

I'll start with some background information on my parents. They had two boys of their own (I hate that phrase, by the way. It makes it sound like my brothers are "theirs" but I am not. And I am, for the record, completely "theirs."), but always wanted to adopt. My mom had been raised by her aunt and uncle after her biological mother died from complications during childbirth. She had five older siblings, and her dad just didn't feel capable of handling a farm, his five older children, and a newborn. She wasn't officially adopted, but her biological "aunt and uncle" were her real parents, my grandparents. She knew her biological father and siblings, but wasn't really raised with them. She was, for all intents and purposes, adopted, and she knew that she someday wanted to adopt, too.

The fact that they had two biological children made adoption (in the 1970's) difficult. I know that at least one time (maybe twice?) before I came along they actually had a baby in their home, but when it came time for the final adoption hearing the judge took the baby away, since they already had children. They looked into international adoption, but for whatever reason (I'm sure they told me, but I can't quite remember now… cost, maybe?... or maybe it just wasn't "clicking"…. I just don't remember…) that didn't come to fruition.

By the late 70's, they had all but given up. Then one day my grandma called my parents and said that she had found a bassinet that she wanted them to have—she firmly believed they would one day get the baby they were hoping for. (She was an amazing woman, but I never had the privilege of meeting her—she died about three months before I was born.) And another time, my dad had a dream that he would have a daughter named "Kathryn." They didn't know how realistic it was to hope anymore, but the hope was returning anyway.

And then one day, they got the phone call. My mom's sister was Dean of Women at a small Bible college. She had a new (single) student who was pregnant and who wanted to give her baby up for adoption… were they still interested?

I can't even begin to tell you the emotions and excitement and concern and everything else that my parents were going through then, because, well, I wasn't there. I can't even tell you a lot of the details about how it all happened. But I'll tell you as much as I know…

The adoption was handled privately (without an agency). My parents and my birth mom both used the same lawyer, so that everything would go as smoothly as possible. And when it came time to go before the judge, my birth mom specifically told him that she wanted my parents to have her baby because they already had children of their own—she wanted her baby to have siblings. It was all coming together.

Meanwhile, my parents kept this whole situation a tightly kept secret—not even their parents knew. Only my aunt, who had "introduced" my birth mom and parents (They had actually never met, but you know what I mean...), had any idea. As hopeful as my parents were, they had been burned before and didn't want to start spreading the news to quickly.

And then, it happened. They got the phone call that it was time. Their new baby girl was here—July 13, 1979.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, Part 4

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get to this next entry. We are getting ready to go on vacation, and a lot is happening with the conference right now, and I am just overwhelmed! But I wanted to get the next "installment" to you, and I will try to get another one up before we leave next weekend. J

I think maybe I should clarify here. My answer wasn't so much "no" as it was "not right now." Somewhere in that jumbled, teenaged brain of mine, I was able to recognize that I couldn't handle any more drama right then. My brain, my heart, my emotions—they were all on overload at that point in my life. And although I was curious to find my biological family, I already knew who my real family was, and that was enough.

The rest of that summer continued to be eventful. My parents and I enjoyed our trip, first south in California to see my aunt and uncle, then north to Seattle to see my brother and sister-in-law. When we returned I started getting ready for college. And then… just a few weeks before I left for school, our house was robbed! It was just the finishing touch on an unbelievable summer. I wasn't kidding when I said I hadn't been prepared for all that God had in store for that year.

Shortly after that, I left for Heidelberg College. To be honest, part of the reason it has taken me so long to write this entry is that I have really wrestled with how much to include about my freshman year. I do want to tell you the story of my adoption, and nothing happened in that arena at this time… but this is also my story, and I want to tell you what was going on with me in the time before my parents and I had "the talk." J So here goes………

The freshman year of college is tough, especially for kids who go away from home. And God is so good—it was so clear that He had laid out a beautiful bridge to ease my transition into this new environment. During my college visit months before, He had basically plopped me into the middle of wonderful connections and opportunities that were awaiting me that September. All I had to do was step onto that bridge.

But I didn't. Instead I kicked off my shoes and went wading through the white water. I struggled and stumbled and plowed through. I knew that at any time, He would lift me up out of the river and put me back on that bridge, but I refused. I still got to the other side, but I was exhausted and felt like a fool for doing it the hard way.

Let me sum up my freshman year of college this way: I crave acceptance… approval… affirmation. I long to fit in. It's something that I wrestle with now, but 10 years ago I wasn't even fighting it. Unfortunately, I also didn't use this trait to my advantage—you know, by seeking the approval of people like my professors, boss, or God. No, it was my peers whose acceptance I needed, and I worked so hard for it that I didn't have much time for anything else.

I carried that same baggage with me into the summer, when I worked at Sea World. I enjoyed my job (working in the education department), but I was just consumed with being a part of the "in" crowd to the point that it affected my work. I look back now and I am so sad for that girl. I wish that I could go back, take her by the shoulders, and shake some sense into her!

The crowning moment of the summer came in early August. I had been dating someone throughout the summer, and I was head over heels in love in a way that I hadn't known was possible. I had stupidly agreed to his "rules" that we not date exclusively—again, because I was so desperate for him to like me. But I was in deep, after just a few short months. I just knew that at any moment he would "let" me be his girlfriend. (Oy, why are teenage girls so stupid when it comes to boys?)

And then one day… nothing. He would no longer speak to me, look at me, acknowledge me. Instead I found out from a mutual friend that he was now dating someone else—a result of our (or at least his) "non-exclusivity." He told this mutual friend (and anyone else who would listen, I soon found out), "Katy was nice, but I was just hanging out with her until I met someone I really liked." Pow! My heart was shattered, and I hurt in a place inside myself that I didn't know existed.

During the previous summer, I had postponed the talk of my adoption because I felt like I couldn't handle one more blow. This summer, though, I was looking for a fight. I felt like so many things were spinning out of control, and this suddenly seemed like something that I could grasp. I had control over whether or not I talked to my parents about it; I had control over how far I went with the search. I needed to feel in charge of something.

I came home from work a day or so after the breakup (if you can call it that) and told my mom that I was ready. The following Sunday we went to church, we sat down to a nice lunch, and when we were finished eating, they started in on the story—my story.

Monday, June 9, 2008


A few years ago, I had surgery. It was a minor procedure—outpatient, actually—but I was still quite nervous about it. I worried for weeks… but not the day of the surgery. That day I was relaxed, happy, joking—and honestly, a little amused at how nervous my husband and mom were for me. I, however, was experiencing "the peace of God that transcends understanding" (Philippians 4:7).

And that's how I've always thought the peace of God works: You have a big trial or something monumental that you just don't know if you can get through, and then God gives you His peace. Right?

But tonight I experienced His peace in a very different way. In a small way, but in a way that has given me a new appreciation for peace.

Life with two little ones (1 and 3) is stressful. Life with a self-employed husband is stressful. The combination can be a killer! Add to that the work I am doing on planning a conference for my MOPS group, and a few other commitments that I have made, and it has been a crazy couple of weeks. Nothing major, but little thing on top of little thing on top of little thing…

And then tonight, peace. First, I went out to dinner tonight with my two closest girlfriends. We all have kids and tons of things going on, and we just don't get to spend the time together that we should. But tonight we did. And then I came home… and it wasn't a situation that I would normally have found peaceful. Although my babysitter does a fantastic job of cleaning up (Yay!), and my one-year-old was asleep, my three-year-old was still awake (almost 2 hours past bedtime)… laying in bed with her Fisher-Price dollhouse and several books. OK, I need to take a moment and confess something here.......... I think I'm a bit of an uptight mom. I am not a "take some stuff to bed until you fall asleep" mom. I am not a "bedtime is 8ish" mom. I am a "bedtime is 8:00, not 8:02, and you may take ONE stuffed animal to bed with you" mom.

Another confession: Coming home to find her awake and playing at 9:45 would normally have ruined my evening. (Yes, I know, I need to work on that……..) But tonight, it was just what I needed. Tonight I paid the babysitter and then went upstairs and laid down with my daughter. I listened to her sing songs, I talked to her about her day, I relaxed as she "petted" me (stroked my hair), and I enjoyed the one-on-one time with her that I don't get nearly enough.

That's when it hit me: This, too, is the peace of God. The much-needed refreshing that comes from time with friends. Coming home to a neat house after leaving two children in the care of a young girl. And more than anything, enjoying a quiet moment with my daughter instead of feeling frustrated over a situation that I can't change.

I left Gracie's room with a smile on my face and in my heart. I'm going to bed relaxed, thanking the Lord for good friends, a beautiful family, and peace in the midst of normal times. J

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, Part 3

The months following Logan's birth and death are a bit of a blur. I believe that his calling hours and funeral were the first week in July… and then 4th of July weekend I went to Internationals for Bible Quizzing in northern California.

As I mentioned before, I spent countless hours studying for this event. It was my sixth and final year in quizzing, both at the local level and on my district's International team, and I wanted to do well so much that I ached for it. To explain all of the emotion and history behind that week would be a book in itself, so you'll have to get the short version and just take my word for the rest. It was something I wanted more than just about anything else I can remember. And at the end of the week, my prayer was answered—but in a different way than I had hoped. Our team took first, which was just an amazing victory! I personally, though, did not do well at all, and had a couple of notable failures that really stung. It makes sense, looking back—the week-long competition ENDED less than two weeks after Logan died. It was a lot to ask of a 17-year-old girl. But I couldn't see that then. I was thrilled to have been part of the team, and so happy for my friends who had done well, but just starting to feel like I was falling apart.

I spent that last night at Internationals up all night, saying goodbye to my friends, most of whom I would never see again. There were some I had seen each of my six years there, and others who I had just met that week. And there was one in particular… a boy… such a cute boy… who had stolen my heart. I'd known him for several years, but knew that I was not likely to ever see him again (He lived in another state.), and I didn't want to say goodbye… so we stayed up until about 4 AM, when he went to go back to his room and pack for the trip home. (OK, I feel the need to clarify here that we were at a Bible Quizzing competition. Yes, we were up all night, but in a group setting—totally G-rated here. J)

And so began my birthday—yep, the day that I said goodbye to my friends, the day after one of the best and worst days of my life thus far, the day that I embarked on a family vacation with my parents without ever having gone to bed the night before... was also my 18th birthday.

My parents, fortunately, were sensitive enough to know that I could not handle any deep conversation about my seeking my biological roots that day. We were, as I said, leaving directly from the competition to go on a family vacation, first south in California to visit my aunt and uncle, then up to Seattle to visit my brother and his wife (a different brother). So we had a little "happy birthday to me" breakfast at their hotel, and that was it. They let me rest and get myself together a little bit before even bringing it up.

I think at the same time, though, they didn't want me to think that they had forgotten, or that they would go back on their word. So the next day as we sat down to eat, they reaffirmed their willingness to help do whatever they could to help me find my biological parents—whenever I was ready. Here it was… the day that I had been waiting for… the moment had come… So I looked them straight in the eyes and said………………………. "No thanks."

Monday, June 2, 2008

Three years ago today...

...I went to my 40-week maternity appointment, and the doctor sent me to the hospital. He looked at me and said (just a little too matter-of-factly, if you ask me!), "It looks like we're gonna have a baby today."

...I realized that contractions get much stronger after your water breaks.

...I found out how nice an epidural can be. :-)

...I had no idea what I was getting into.

...I didn't know I could love another person so much without ever getting anything from them.

...I had no idea who the Little Einsteins are, or Max & Ruby, or Dora the Explorer.
...I didn't have regular conversations about poop--and didn't know what I was missing. :-)

...I had no idea what an amazing little girl God was bringing into my life.

...I got to meet my beautiful little Gracie for the first time.

Happy Birthday, Grace.