Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ummmm… She’s HOW old?

Those who know me and my family also know that I have a three-going-on-thirteen-year-old in my house. She's got the attitude all ready to go, she just needs the puberty to go with it. But even I was unprepared for our conversation last night.

I had planned to put her to bed at 7:00 because she didn't sleep at naptime yesterday, and that's our typical routine. (Nap = 8:00 bed time, laying down quietly with no sleep = 7:00, up and playing during naptime = 6:00-6:30. Yeah, I really can't complain!) But I was feeling lazy generous, and decided not to start the battle bed time until closer to 7:30.

Finally, I told her it was time to get her PJs. She heard, "Gracie, would you please turn your music up louder?" I told her again, and she did it… eventually.

I told her to go sit on the potty. She heard, "Gracie, I would love to see you play with your balloon a little more!" I told her again, and she decided to look out the window.

I told her a third time (rather firmly), and she ran out of the room muttering something with a word that sounded distinctly like "hate."

I thought maybe we should talk about that.

I called her back into the room and asked her what she just said. She looked me in the eye with no hesitation and said, "I said, 'I love you.'"

I took a deep breath and tried to stop seeing red before proceeding.

I explained to her that there would be consequences for what she said, but it would be worse if she were to add lying to the list.

She did then come clean… but HELLO! Where does she GET this? She's not even FOUR, people!

She DID start reading the "Bob Books" this week, so who knows—maybe she's reading Seventeen magazine behind my back…

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I could sure use a little definition…

…and not just in my muscles. Although that would be good, too.

Last fall I had the opportunity to attend MOPS Convention in Texas. It was my third year going to convention, and every bit as worthwhile as my first two. MOPS International does such a fantastic job of growing great women, mothers, and leaders. It is an amazing experience, and I look forward to heading to Nashville this fall for another great convention experience.

But I digress.

One of the keynote speakers last year was a man named Patrick Lencioni. Mr. Lencioni actually works in the corporate world, "helping organizations, and the people who work within them, become 'healthier' and more effective", according to the "About Us" section of his company's web site. He has quite an impressive resume. Patrick is also a family man. If I remember correctly, he and his wife have 4 or 5 children, and a life every bit as hectic as the rest of us. And somewhere along the line, he realized that a lot of the principles he was teaching to corporations could also be applied to family life as well.

OK, I know what you're thinking, because that's what I thought, too. "Yeah. This guy should meet my husband. Why do men think that families can be run like businesses? That's just not reality!" And no, they can't. But he's not asking us to run our families like a business. He's just trying to help us find some focus.

Now, before I get in trouble for any kind of copyright infringement, let me point you to his book, The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family. You can also download the model that is explained in his book here. If you are going to do that, it may be worthwhile to check out the other links on that page as well—I'm not sure how much sense that model will make without some context. But I do recommend the book and his concepts in general.

Anyway, Jon and I have been talking a lot lately about Mr. Lencioni's system (for lack of a better word) and how it applies to our family. One of the big things that we have been trying to determine is who we are as a family. In other words, what makes our family unique from anyone else? What defines us? And then we even drilled down farther: What defines us as individuals?

So here I am to ask you: How do you want to be defined? When people talk about you, how do you want to be described or remembered? How do you want your family to see you? Your friends? Your children?

And more importantly: Are the things that you want to be your defining characteristics the things that other people currently see?

It was quite eye-opening for me to consider the things that I feel are important for me to live by… and then realize that I'm not sure they are really being demonstrated in my life. So Jon and I both sat down and picked two characteristics/behaviors that we felt were important to us individually. Then we came up with specific goals that will help us to become those people we want to be. And then we agreed to talk about our goals and progress once a week—not any major meeting, just 5-10 minutes of "How's it going?"

And here's the ultimate goal: to not have these characteristics be goals anymore. I want these things to become so second nature that I don't have to put so much thought into them—yes, they may still require intention and effort, but they will just become a part of everyday life… like brushing my teeth.

So I challenge you this week. Take a hard look at who you want to be… and who you are right now. I, of course, think that you are all wonderful. J But I'm guessing that you have one or two things that you would really like to display in your character that you don't feel you're doing right now. Pray about it. Write it down. Set some goals—but limit them to just one or two, so you are not overwhelmed. And become that person that you want others to see.

Have a blessed week.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Katy’s Family Forest, part 24

Even though I felt confident that I could "handle" meeting Frank—that my happiness or sense of identity did not hinge on what he thought of me—I still saw some value in protecting my heart a little. So as we arranged to meet, I set some ground rules. First, we would meet at a neutral location. Frank and Janet had volunteered to come to our house, but that was a little too… personal for me. Instead, we chose a restaurant in Amish country, which somehow seemed like the perfect place. It was a warm, friendly environment, where there would be lots of food to fill any voids in conversation. J It was also far enough from either of our homes so that it felt… safe. I don't mean physically safe—that was never a concern for me—I just wanted to meet him somewhere that was not part of my normal life. Somewhere that I wouldn't run into other people I knew, somewhere that I wouldn't associate with him every time I drove by (if things went badly). Does that make sense at all?

Anyway, second on my list were the kids: They wouldn't be there. This was actually for multiple reasons. Not only was I protecting a little bit of my heart and privacy, it's also quite difficult to have any type of prolonged conversation with a 1-year-old and almost-2-year-old hanging around. Frank and Janet were very understanding about this, and we set a date and time for the four of us to sit down together for lunch.

Even now I'm shaking my head in disbelief. It is somewhat surreal to go from this… theory of being adopted and having a biological father out there, to basically going on a double-date with him and his wife… who just happens to be the woman who helped me to locate him in the first place… and also a woman with whom I had developed some sort of strange family bond over the past several years. How had it come to this?

And then the day came. On May 24, 2008, Jon and I dropped the kids off at my parents' house, then headed south to meet my biological father. Wow. (And no, I didn't remember the date—I had to look it up on my calendar.) On the way down, they called for some reason or another—maybe to check and see how close we were, I can't quite remember—but it went to my voicemail. I checked the message, and it was just so odd to hear Janet's voice after so many years of exchanging e-mails. Then I called back to answer whatever question they had asked… and Frank answered. It was the first time I had ever heard his voice, either. And it was so weird that our first conversation would be something like, "Yeah, we'll be there in about 15 minutes……….. Oh, you're in line? OK, we'll see you there." Not anything of significance.

By the time we pulled into the parking lot, my fa├žade of confidence was gone. I was shaking like a leaf.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Deal of the Century that Wasn’t. And other stuff on my brain…



This may shock some of you, because I know that many of my friends are really into this… but I'm not much of a garage sale shopper. Nope, I've just never gotten into it. I understand why other people like them, but I don't know… I just don't find that I have the patience for them. (OK, to be honest, I kind of take this approach to "regular" shopping, too… although I could shop for baby clothes all the live-long day.)


But last year I decided I was going to turn over a new leaf. I was going to start shopping at garage sales, and I was going to like it, by golly. A development close to me was having a neighborhood sale weekend, so I thought I'd start there. (By the way, if I'm going to go to garage sales, this is the kind I like. I can put the kids in the stroller and see lots of different sales without loading and unloading my kids, and I can get a nice walk out of the deal too.) I picked up a few things here and there… and then I found "it." THE deal of the day. A woman in the neighborhood was selling a Power Wheels truck. It was identical to one my kids had ridden—and loved—at a friend's house. It came with 2—count 'em, 2—batteries. The only thing missing was the charger, which had gotten lost when they moved to their house. And it was $35.

I only had $20. "Ummmm… OK," she said, "I honestly just want it out of my garage."

I couldn't fit it in the trunk of my Altima. "That's OK," she said, "we can hold onto it until you can pick it up."

Perfect!

20 minutes later, Jon came with his big pick-up truck, and he and another guy loaded it in. My kids were ECSTATIC. When we got home, we decided to try it with the batteries that she gave us, even though we knew that they were likely depleted. They were.

So we called our friends who had the same Power Wheels truck and asked to borrow their battery charger. We charged them up and threw one in.

At this point I realized I should have asked just how long ago that family had moved and lost the charger. The batteries had been sitting for so long that they wouldn't even charge. The kids loved sitting in the truck, but the term "Power Wheels" was starting to seem like a misnomer.

Just to be sure, we then borrowed a battery from those same friends who had loaned us their charger. It worked just fine, and our kids thoroughly enjoyed one day of riding around in their truck.

And then it was up to me to order a new battery AND charger. Sooooooo… 10 months later… I did. (Yes, it really took me TEN MONTHS to click a few buttons on my computer and order this stuff. It doesn't make my 2-month blogging hiatus seem so bad now, does it???) And $80 later, we got our battery and charger.

So here's the bottom line: I just spent $100 on an old Power Wheels that only cost $150 when it was new. Yeah. THIS is why I should not be allowed to shop at garage sales.

But it was so worth every penny yesterday. Check out these photos:

Also, while I'm showing off my beautiful children, Nana & Papa (that's my parents) brought the kids a fun surprise on Wednesday, and Matt LOVES it. In fact, that photo of the two kids above is one of the few times I actually got him in the truck. He was more interested in this:

By the way, he absolutely INSISTS that it is an airplane. Also, my kids like to take toys with them in the car when we run errands, and he now asks to take this.

(I apologize for the lack of cropping/editing to the photos, but I don't have a photo editor on my laptop, and I am too lazy to find an online one, crop the photos, and then reinsert them into the post. As it is, I have an almost-4-year-old asking me about every key that I press, and it is taking everything in me not to run screaming from the room! :-) )

And before I let you go, I have to tell you all this… I was rereading some of my Family Forest posts last night, and I feel like I owe you an apology. I realized that my earlier "chapters" were much longer than the more recent ones. I'm sorry, I have no idea how or why I started making them so much shorter—maybe because more stuff started happening closer together. Anyway, the next installment is already written, so you're just going to have to deal with it. ;-) But I at least wanted to let you know that I noticed! J

Also, if you live close by, I would love to invite you to join me on Saturday night to celebrate the release of my friend Leigh-Ann's book My True Reflection. You can learn more about Leigh-Ann and her ministry at http://www.leighannbrisbin.com/. If you're interested in learning more about what we're doing tomorrow night, leave me a comment here and I'll get back to you.

Have a wonderful weekend, all.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Katy’s Family Forest, part 23

Yes—I have escaped! I didn't think I would make it out, but I finally am freed from the aliens that captured me two months ago! What—you don't believe me? They said you wouldn't. Oh well. Anyway, I knew it had been a while since I last posted, but TWO MONTHS? Geez, somebody needs to keep better tabs on me or something. ;-) Actually, I'm quite surprised at how difficult these last few pieces to the puzzle are to write. I have thought about it and talked about it many times, but putting it in writing has been something different altogether. I think, as I have told a couple of you in person over the past few weeks, that it's because the events I'm writing about now are still so recent. To actually write about them really stirs up emotions in ways that talking about them doesn't. It's very odd. So I apologize yet again, and hope that you will accept my apology along with the next installment of my story…………

It's actually somewhat fitting that it took me a while to write this chapter of the story, because it also took me a while to write back to Frank. When I received his e-mail and told Jon that I didn't know quite what to do with it, he immediately said, "Don't write him back right now. It took him years to make the effort to contact you. It is perfectly acceptable—and probably necessary—for you to take a few days or weeks to think about things before you write him back." So that's what I did.

During those days, as I thought and prayed about this whole crazy situation, I was amazed at how disconnected I felt from it all. I knew that whether or not I met Frank, whether or not he liked me, it really didn't matter. (OK, let's be honest. If I had decided to meet the guy, gotten myself all psyched up for it, and then he looked me in the eye and said, "I'm only here to tell you face-to-face to leave me alone and never bother me again!", I probably wouldn't have handled it well. But it would only have affected me in the short term—I would have gotten over it and then just thought he was a jerk. ;-) )

I also realized that this was truly my decision. No one would be surprised if I wanted to meet him, but no one would judge me if I didn't. It was very freeing and allowed me to process everything much more objectively.

And throughout those days, one statement that my mom had made just kept rolling around in my head: "I'd just hate to see you miss this chance, then regret it down the road when it's too late." That sort of summed it up for me. My dilemma wasn't really about whether or not I wanted to meet him right then—it was about whether or not I wanted to meet him ever. Because if I turned him down, who knows what might happen. Maybe he'd be so angry that he humbled himself and I'd shut the door in his face that he wouldn't ever be open to the possibility again. Or maybe he'd move far away and meeting would be too difficult. Or maybe he'd even pass away before we had this opportunity again.

And so, six weeks later, I e-mailed him back and told him that Jon and I would like to meet him and Janet.