Saturday, May 30, 2009

Castle Cake!

Just a minute to post here while Jon puts Grace to bed, but I wanted to update you all on my Castle Cake that I made for Grace's birthday party today. I have definitely NOT missed my calling as a professional cake decorator :-) but it turned out cute, nonetheless. I got the recipe/decorating instructions at Family Fun's web site.

And now, without further ado... here it is....................

Yes, it is leaning to one side. Yes, there are some spots that don't seem to be covered in icing... But when Gracie saw it, she gasped and said, "Oh, MOMMY--You made it so beautiful, just like I wanted it!" And that is all that really matters. :-)

Have a great weekend, all. :-)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Weekend Roundup (a little belated)

I have been wanting to post this since Monday, but it has been a busy week. Cleaning, running errands, getting ready for Grace's birthday party on Saturday—and let's not forget cleaning puke out of clothes, car seats, and car upholstery. That was fun. But here is a little list I've been excited to post for days now…

My Top 10 Favorite Things About Our Weekend:

  1. Planting our vegetable garden.
  2. Watching the kids spray each other down with the hose.
  3. Riding our bikes to the Memorial Day parade with the kids in the trailer.
  4. Watching the parade with the kids (and seeing many of our friends in the procession).
  5. Signing Grace up for soccer. (She has been asking DAILY about playing, and she was THRILLED to sign her own name on the form. Now I just have to convince her that practices don't even start until August…)
  6. Having an entire afternoon to myself while the rest of the family slept.
  7. This picture:

  8. Jon didn't work on Saturday.
  9. Jon didn't work on Sunday.
  10. Jon didn't work on Monday.
Yes, it was really a wonderful weekend, filled with lots of much-needed family time. I think sometimes I don't realize how much my stress level and my attitude are affected by Jon's work schedule. Having him home for three days was really the icing on the cake for… well, the whole month of May, to be honest! It made for a fun weekend and also put me in a better mood to start the week. J
And now we're gearing up for another fun weekend, filled with castle cake and princess slippers and even a little sleepover with Grace's big cousin. I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Links, Links, Everywhere!

Alright, folks. Today is a light day, because... well, just because. I'm taking a "Mental Health Day" today, and spending naptime working on last year's scrapbook. I am NOT going to write anything deep or introspective, nor am I deep-cleaning my kitchen cabinets.

OK, so now that we've got that straight, let's get back to what we're doing here. I have been coming across some fun links lately, and I would like to share them with you.
  • Highlights Magazine - I never really thought to check their site, but they have lots of fun stuff, including Hidden Pictures puzzles that your kids can do online.
  • Getting Boys to Read - I just discovered this one a few minutes ago, but am already really liking it. If you have boys of any age, this is a good site to check out.
  • First School - For the "home preschool" that Grace and I have been doing faithfully at least one day a month (ha ha), I have found this site extremely helpful. It's got great worksheets and activity ideas.
  • Preschool Express - WOW. Jean Warren has TONS of great craft and activity ideas to do with your preschooler. She has many different "stations", so you can search in whatever way best suits your needs. This site has been absolutely INVALUABLE to me.
  • And since I mentioned doing preschool with Grace, let me also list Letter of the Week, which is a fabulous resource for parents of kids from infants - probably age 11 or so, although I haven't looked much beyond the preschool stuff. She has several different curriculums, including a whole line of ideas for babies and toddlers. While I have been less than consistent with carrying out the whole preschool-at-home thing, I have found this site to be unbelievably helpful, and have even been able to e-mail back and forth with Katrina, the site's creator, and she has been generous and kind in her advice to a non-teacher. :-)

OK, in case you didn't notice the theme, I'm thinking a lot today about sites that help me be a beter parent. :-) So hopefully this will help you too. Good luck, and have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hello, old friend, hello

Yes, I have missed you all... but the friend I had lost and who has now returned to me is none other than... my laptop. Oh, dear Laptop, how I have missed you!

You see, Internet Friends, my laptop went into cardiac arrest last week, and I had to rush it to computer ER. It has now been given a new pacemaker, and is back with us. (OK, maybe I stretched that metaphor a bit too far. It totally bit the dust on me last week, and it turns out that the power adapter on the machine was bad. The wonderful gentleman at our local computer repair store fixed it for me, and now we're back in business. Unfortunately, the power adapter was bad for so long that it eventually killed the battery, so now I have to work with it plugged in until I get a new battery. But I can live with that for now.)

If you think that I am making too much of a big deal out of my computer, maybe you don't know me that well. Let me put it this way: My husband says he doesn't worry about another man ever coming between us, but my laptop--well, that's a different story. :-) I tell him that the problem is with his perception: He should stop looking at the laptop as a third party and start seeing it as I do--as an extension of myself! :-)

So now I am back and can't wait to start posting more. I have all sorts of thoughts rolling around in this little brain of mine, and I am excited to share them with you!

For now, a little catch up on what's happening in the Land of Katy:
  • My Mother's Day present from Jon was a couples' cooking class, which we took with about 20 friends. It was a blast! He and I had done another class at this same school, so that's where he got the idea. Each couple works on one dish, and you come together at the end with a fabulous dinner, including an appetizer, soup, salad, main course with a side dish, and dessert. I would love to make this a semi-regular occurrence--it's tons of fun and the food is awesome!
  • My wonderful friend Erin recently welcomed her first baby, Levi, to the world. YAY!!! I am going out to see her and her beautiful family next month, and I can't wait! I am thrilled to see her, and I am in desperate need of a baby fix. :-)
  • I am going to be contributing to the Hearts at Home blog, and am super excited to be part of something so great. Start looking for my contributions to show up in June--but don't wait until then to check out the blog. There is some great stuff on there!
  • West Branch State Park has a fun little beach area... but it doesn't open until Memorial Day. You know, just in case someone might get the idea that it would be fun to take their kids to the beach to play in the sand on a nice 80 degree day... It's not open yet. But the picnic area, fortunately, IS open. And to the nice couple who gave my kids a frisbee, THANK YOU. You definitely saved the day!
  • A new animal has taken up residence in our mulch beds. A snake. Yep, a snake. Can you take a guess as to who is NOT going to be pulling weeds any time soon????? The kids, though, think this is SUPER cool, and we have to keep a close eye on them so that they don't touch it. UGH!
  • Jillian Michaels is NOT my BFF. I have started the "30 Day Shred", and it is a killer. But it's working, so I'm going to keep doing it!
  • Has anyone heard of this show out there called "American Idol"? Anyone? I hear a few people watch it here & there. I was amazed at the talent this year, and even though I'm bummed that Danny Gokey didn't make it to the finale, I am very happy for Kris Allen! And now I can breathe a deep sigh of relief because I no longer have to be SURE I am home on Wednesday nights so that I don't hear about the results before I get to watch them. Freedom! :-)
  • And last but not least, GUESS who I talked to last week....! Are you ready? My half-sister! My birth father had a daughter who is about 18 months older than I am, and she e-mailed me last week, and then we had a chance to talk on the phone a few days ago. Yes, I know, you're thinking that I should have saved that for a Family Forest post, but I don't want her to feel like she's just part of a saga... but I DID want to share it with you all because I think it's really cool! :-)

So now you're all caught up. And I'm exhausted because Jon and I have been getting up at 5:00ish all week as part of a new work schedule he's trying--into the office by 6:00 AM, home at 4:00 PM. It's working great--I'm getting more done by 8:00 AM than I sometimes get done all day--except for the 4:00 PM part. He started this on Tuesday, and on Wednesday and Thursday he got held at the office until after 8:00 PM! Those are some long work days. Poor guy. Anyway, getting up early, working out hard, and staying up late to watch Idol on DVR is all starting to catch up with me. So I'm going to curl up with my cat and some NCIS reruns. I'll catch you all later.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Katy’s Family Forest, part 26

***Edited because I changed my mind about some of my wording...***

You all have me a little nervous. We're drawing near to the end of the story, and I am afraid you won't come back! So maybe I should just keep you hanging a little longer… ;-)

Just kidding. But seriously, I hope you'll keep reading after the story is "finished"—you know, as much as anything that's an ongoing part of my life can be finished. That being said, this is not the last installment of "Katy's Family Forest." There will be at least one more after this. OK, so now let's get to it.

So there I was, sitting in the parking lot of the restaurant, wondering if I really wanted to go through with it after all. And really, I think I felt about that meeting similar to how I feel about writing the end of the story: That's it? It's over? After so many years of this continuing real live soap opera, was it all really drawing to a close? But two things got me out of the car: First, I was there. It seemed silly to turn around and go home at that point. And second, I still kept thinking that I would someday regret if I missed this opportunity. So Jon and I got out and started up the hill to the entrance.

Der Dutchman is well-known in that area, and there is always a line. As in, out the door, down the length of the building (which is huge). Today was no exception. Fortunately, we knew that Frank and Janet had arrived before us and had already gotten a spot in line for us. So we started scanning the crowd.

And then it happened. We saw him—both of them. They recognized us right away, and we recognized them. And it was so… odd. Surreal and yet anti-climactic at the same time. After all, we're standing in the middle of a crowded line of strangers… And even though I was strangely connected to them both, I hardly thought of him as my "long-lost daddy" or anything, so it wasn't all that emotional. Just surreal. And strangely anti-climactic. Did I say that already?

And then we still had to wait in line. Ummm… The only word I have for that is "surreal." Again. We didn't really feel like we could talk standing there in line, so we just chatted… How do you chat with your biological father and his wife, neither of whom you've ever met?

Der Dutchman is popular, and it is also very, very big. So even though the lines are typically long, they keep it moving at a good pace. We probably weren't in line for more than 15-20 minutes before we had a table. Finally, it was just the four of us.

I feel like so much has built up to this moment in the story, and now I'm just not sure I can do it justice.

Frank was… nothing like I imagined. As I mentioned before, I expected him to be hard and gruff, a heartless jerk. He was friendly and a little soft-spoken. I couldn't figure it out, it didn't compute with what I knew of him. They brought pictures of them, of Frank when he was in the military, of Frank's granddaughter. (Did I mention that Frank has another daughter close to my age? She had recently had her first baby.)

We placed our orders, and then Jon and I headed to the salad bar. I think it was a good opportunity for both couples to have time to discuss our initial impressions. We were both a little… I don't know… I hate to say we were surprised that they were friendly, but… he was just so different than I thought he would be.

And again, I started to worry: What were we going to talk about this whole time? It seemed logical that we would talk about him and Jan, and why he didn't stick around, etc, etc, etc… but I didn't really need—or especially want—to. I knew that he and Jan hadn't been in a serious relationship at the time—and not only that, he was married! And again, it hadn't happened to me, it had happened to Jan. I had definitely gotten the best end of the deal, since I got placed in my family! J

So instead, we just talked. Not much about my adoption or my family, but just talked. We talked about our kids, Janet's kids, Frank's grandbaby. We did talk a little about Frank and Janet's remarriage—I think they felt a little uncomfortable about that, since I had expressed disapproval at Janet's leaving her husband (and children) for Frank. But honestly, it was all said and done at that point, and while I am sad to see any marriage end like that, it was their lives and their choice, not mine. So I think that wasn't as much of an issue as they were concerned it would be. So more than anything, we just got to know each other. And they were nice… and friendly… and easy to talk to.

So in some ways, it was anti-climactic, because there were no big… emotional moments. No breakdowns or apologies or… whatever else one might expect when first meeting your "father" after 28 years. But again, he wasn't really my father, just the man who had helped to conceive me.

But it has also become an important day in my life for a few reasons. First, I learned who Frank really is. While I can't speak for how he acted 28 years ago, deep down I don't really think that he was heartless… I think he was more… afraid of conflict, and that he tended to avoid it... strongly. That explained why he had reacted the way he did when I had tried to contact him before—it had caused a problem between him and his wife at the time, so the easiest thing was just to do away with the conflict. It also explained his history with women (multiple wives and affairs).

Second, I learned that my connection to Frank—and to Janet—is stronger than I would have thought. During lunch, they expressed interest in someday meeting the kids. On the ride home, Jon said he had no real desire to maintain contact with them… and three hours earlier, I probably would have said the same thing. But after I met them, I knew that I needed them to meet the kids. I needed them to be part of my life—not a major part, not talking every week or even every month… but I needed that connection, even if it was just Christmas cards and an annual e-mail or something.

And to be honest, the idea of a relationship that was more than the occasional card or e-mail was quite scary to me. As we sat at lunch and I came to realize that this was not just going to be a one-time meeting, I simultaneously started to worry that they were going to want to truly become part of the family… and I wasn't prepared for that.

And that's where God's Hand once again became clear. They were moving. Years ago, Frank bought a house or townhome or something in North Carolina. He rented it out, and planned to use it as his retirement home. And now (at the time we were having lunch) his job in Columbus, which was a contract position, would soon be coming to an end. He and Janet planned to move after his contract was finished. What an amazing God, who could orchestrate our meeting when he lived just two hours away, but just a few short months before he would be moving much farther. We met just in time, but also didn't have to worry about how often to visit or how often they would want to make the trip up. Whew!

And so… there it is. After 28—almost 29—years, I met my biological father. And I met the woman who had helped me to find him, who had been my connection to the past when I wasn't quite sure what my past was. And I shook the whole way home… I shook because it had finally happened… I shook because it was over… I shook because I did want a continuing relationship of sorts with them, and I wasn't sure why… I shook because—well, have I mentioned the word "surreal" yet in the last sentence?

Before we left, Jan had the foresight to ask someone to document our visit with a photo. And so, friends, here you are. Here's a little peek into a day I never thought would come, and certainly never thought I would be sitting here writing down for all to see… Meet my biological father…

Well, I guess I've gotten over the "short post" thing, eh? J Honestly, there is more that I want to share with you, so I hope that you will come back. But that's enough for one post.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wordless Wednesday--sort of...

The first bon fire of the season...

It's important to always accessorize appropriately.
This would be a pretty cool picture without the trash can there... Oh well, live & learn...
How's that for some yummy goodness?!?
That's what we did last night. What's new with you?

Monday, May 4, 2009


I have started about 5 different posts in the past 2 days, but haven't been able to finish them. Why? SLEEP DEPRIVATION. In the middle of last week, I was struck with insomnia—ugh! That lasted for a couple of nights… Then on Friday night, I was up all night with a really bad UTI, which means that I then spent Saturday morning at an urgent care center so that I wouldn't be miserable for the whole weekend. I napped a little on Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night wasn't too bad, but I didn't sleep again last night. I say all of that not to complain—honestly—but just to explain why my sentences may not make sense, and why I am not able to create a single coherent post. I apologize in advance.

Here are a few things I wanted to share:

  • I have been given the opportunity to speak at a few upcoming events, and I am so excited! I will be basing my talks on my adoption story, partly talking about adoption and my story, and partly focusing on identity and who we are in Christ. I will share more as things get firmed up, etc. And if you or someone you know is looking for a speaker, I would be honored if you thought of me. J

  • I am trying to plan Grace's party for her upcoming FOURTH BIRTHDAY. This has led me to seriously ponder two big questions: 1-How did my baby get to be four years old already? And 2-How is it possible that she has more friends than I do?

  • Last week Jon brought home one of those big letter/number foam floor puzzles for the kids, and they LOVE it! Here is one of my favorite snapshots of them right after we put it together:

  • This week is absolutely NUTS NUTS NUTS for me, so please bear with me if I don't post much. After Saturday, my life will be MUCH calmer. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

  • I am working on a great study about knowing God better, so I want to leave you with the words of Simon Peter:
    "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (1 Peter 1:2-3, emphasis mine) Please remember, God's grace and peace become ours as we grow in our knowledge of Him. May you seek to know Him better today.

Have a blessed week.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Katy’s Family Forest, part 25

Let me back up here for just a moment. (This is the danger with the post-as-you-go style of writing a story like this, I guess!) About two weeks before that fateful drive, Frank had sent me pictures. Nothing of "historical" significance, just two snapshots of him and Janet on a vacation they had recently taken. I had always had an image of Frank in my head, based partly on the one photograph I had seen of him (taken in approx. 1980) and partly on what I knew of him—a former Air Force officer, a heartbreaker and womanizer, a man with several failed marriages (and other relationships) under his belt. I pictured him as a hard man, gruff, stubborn, physically fit, and mostly unsmiling.

This image did not fit with the pictures he sent me. In fact, as soon as I opened them, I said, "Jon, look! He looks just like your Uncle Larry!" OK, so that probably doesn't mean much to you, since you likely don't know Jon's uncle Larry. But trust me… the characteristics that I listed above are pretty much the exact OPPOSITE of Uncle Larry. The man in the picture was relaxed, friendly-looking, and decidedly not… well… military-looking. I just couldn't make it fit with who I had always thought Frank to be.

So I went to our meeting that day with a very confused image of who this man really was—but at least with a more accurate idea of what he looked like. J

We had decided to meet at Der Dutchman, a great Amish restaurant about 1.5 hours from where we live, in the heart of Amish country. No, it was not anywhere near a half-way point, but Frank and Janet had wanted to visit Amish country, and were also on the way to visit some of his (and my, I guess) relatives in Pennsylvania. And it's such an idyllic area, it seemed like a good fit—like it would be hard to be stressed there. (But not impossible, I assure you.)

On the drive down, I had a lot of time to think. And talk. And talk. And think. I looked back over the events of the past several years and saw God's Hand leading to this day. I saw how far He had brought me in my maturity, how much more able I was to handle this day, no matter how it turned out. I was also able to sort out a lot of my feelings toward him, which was good. In fact, I'm not sure if I can really put down on paper the things I sorted out in my head that day, but I'll try… I hadn't heard a lot of good things about Frank at that point. I'd heard about his failed marriages, his affair with Jan, his unwillingness to have anything to do with her pregnancy/baby and his reluctance to accept responsibility for his "part" in the pregnancy, his walking out on Janet… well, you get the picture. It doesn't really plant a great impression in your head, does it? But none of those things happened to me. I wasn't angry at him for those things, I was just aware of them. Yes, his refusal to be part of Jan's life when she was pregnant affected me—I think she was planning to keep me if he had wanted to be around and involved in my life—but I was far from angry with him for that. In fact, I was quite grateful—I love my family and am so thankful that I was given to them.

So really, when it was all laid out on the table, that stuff didn't really bother me. My real hurt was wrapped up in his rejection of me when I had tried to contact him earlier. For that hurt and anger, I felt justified. The rest… well, the rest just went to character. It showed that his response to me was fitting for the patterns I saw in his life: When life gets tough, shut the door.

Yep, it was a deep ride down. ;-)

And just when I thought I had it all under control, we pulled into the parking lot. And that's when it really hit me: maybe this wasn't such a good idea. Why had I built this up so much in my head, the idea of meeting this man who had no real claim to my life, no real title to me? Why did I care about seeing someone who had (I told myself) no significance to me?

And once we got beyond the "Hellos" and the "OK, that's who you are, nice to meet you" stuff… What would we talk about???

Ha! You thought this was going to be "it", didn't you? OK, so did I when I sat down to write. But I didn't know all this stuff was going to come out! J So now you're going to have to wait just a little longer.