Month One

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My first experiences of motherhood and foster care all rolled into one...Maybe I should alternately title this, "The Road Less Traveled."

I seriously laugh at all the things I thought I was prepared for, (although deep down I know you are really never fully prepared).

Take for instance months of mental preparation for a docile, little baby sleeping in the corner of my attic/office space while I answer e-mails, read books and drink coffee all day. Now replace "docile, little baby" with "active, sneaky, big, strong-willed, toddler who hates to nap" and you can see how very little e-mailing, book reading, or even drinking my own coffee without hiding where he cannot find me, is going on in this place.

This is motherhood, and being inserted into the role of a mother at this age, in this stage, that is no joke. Add in the learning curve of my role as a foster parent, and completely uncharted territory is the perfect phrase to sum up this season.

That night we brought him home I sat in the dark of our little nursery, trying to rock him, trying to love him, trying to be a safe place. He kicked and screamed and flailed, and I cried so hard. This is not my baby. This is a big, strange boy who doesn't know me or like me. Finally, he fell asleep. I laid him down, left the room, and cried some more.

Foster care is a complex thing. This little boy came to us with 16 months of unknowns behind him. Hurts from the past, emotional disconnect, struggles with attachment. My first taste of motherhood involves some things I didn't account for. Our relationship still feels fragile, and we spend as much time as we can together to strengthen attachment, and heal the fear of abandonment. All this while living in my own fragile state, wondering what the future holds. 

My first encounter with his birth mom, two weeks into placement, wrecked me again. Just when "normalcy" is sort of sinking in, a wild and new wave of emotion comes. When I met her, I just wanted to hug her and tell her I believe in her. One of the things that drew me to foster care was advocacy, championing of. Because who I am right now is a mother, but I am also a support system. I am blessing, and teaching, and pouring into the sweetest little boy because I get to be that in his life. Do I hope that it's forever? Yes, I do. But strangely, and equally, I don't want to see her fail. I want to see her succeed, and if she can succeed in ways that allow for her to care for him, then I have been an advocate for their success. This is what foster care means. At the end of the day, he may be with us forever, but at the end of the day, he may not.

It's just not easy. But we didn't choose this because we wanted easy. We had a strong sense that loving him [and any other babies we say yes to] would be worth it, and I can honestly say that I end each day feeling fulfilled in a way that trumps anything else.

Thankful for the Unexpected: A Little Life Update

It’s been a while, and a lot has happened in that while.

In January Brent and I hosted a Chinese high school boy for 10 days as part of a student immersion program through LMH. Oh the stories we could tell from that adventure...Day one I was convinced we had been paired with the sweetest, most helpful and genuine 16-year old male human on this planet. By day four he was mad that I misinformed him on the weather therefore ruining one of six new pairs of Nikes he had purchased since Day One. Nothing like living it up when you find yourself on a different continent with house parents that could be mistaken for your classmates.

 


In all seriousness, we are so thankful for that adventure, and the impact (I really hope) that we got to make on his life. WE MISS GRIFFIN. (Although I’m not ready to parent a 16-year-old quite yet.)

In February we jetted off on my first tropical vacation with some of our best friends. To be honest, it was difficult for me to keep our trip from being clouded with fear over this whole zika virus thing that is on every news outlet in the US. I am so glad I pushed through it, and we traveled to St. Croix. We had the most wonderful week, I legitimately DID NOT want to leave AT ALL, and a month later I am in the zika clear. (Which really was not a big deal on this island at all). Highlights of this trip included all the delicious food we ate, literally every meal was good, all the beaches we visited, traveling with dear friends, and of course experiencing sunshine and warm weather during the month of February.


In March (Ok so this technically happened in February, but really took off in March, and I needed something for March) I launched A BUSINESS with my good friend Heidi! I still can hardly believe that this happened...and really it was such a whirlwind. Moss + Vine is a floral and event styling business, and our ultimate goal is to help people throw really great parties. Heidi has years of experience with florals, and I just love decor/design/style. Working together has been so much fun, and I am really excited for the things that I know we will create! There has been SO much momentum with our business already, and more exciting opportunities than I would have expected this early in it all.

 

This spring feels so full it's already gone. Countdown till our first beach vacation (June 1) has officially commenced. Four events for Moss + Vine in the month of April alone. And channeling my inner Joanna Gains as I get to design and decorate the 2016 parade home for Brentwood Builders (Brent’s family business). I am loving this even more ever since I jumped on the Fixer Upper bandwagon and decided I want us to be them.


I am so thankful for where the unexpected has brought me. I have cried numerous times as I replay the past year in my head. It is just so crazy tracing where I was last year to where I am now. The opportunities I have worked toward, and the ones that have landed in my lap. I can actually say that while certain life circumstances haven’t necessarily gotten easier, and my prayers haven’t always been answered the way I planned, I have grown. The moments I’ve so deeply struggled with who God is, and the times I have spiraled in a lack of control, are countered by those when I have experienced grace I didn’t know was possible, and peace that definitely is not my own.

There is a sweet sense of anticipation in the realization that I can trust whatever is coming, even though I’m not in control.

 

xoxo Katie

 

Yup, I Married My High-School Sweetheart

Most people love a good love story. You know, one with a dreamy couple, precious plot, and especially a happy ending. I remember watching chick flicks in high school, and indulging in Nicholas Sparks novels, all while dreaming of "a perfect love," and searching to find it.

Brent and I were high school sweethearts, it's true, the makings of a classic tale of destiny. It really is a cliche, yet kind of crazy thing, that I married that 10th grade boy I had a crush on.

The unfortunate moment that I got my little red digital camera. First date to Olive Garden and first picture in the Ford Focus.

The unfortunate moment that I got my little red digital camera. First date to Olive Garden and first picture in the Ford Focus.

However cute (and miraculous) it may be that we ended up together, it was definitely not glamorous. Sometimes I lose count of how many times we broke up when I'm telling our story, and I definitely don't always include all the hurt we caused each other along the way. There are certain defining aspects of my life that Brent got to experience alongside of me, but on the same token some days we look at each other and say, "Was that really necessary?" 

Right before I turned on him and FREAKED out- The "let's take a break" walk.

Right before I turned on him and FREAKED out- The "let's take a break" walk.

When it comes to dating in high school, I'm torn. Do I think it's a must do? Nope. Did it end well for me? Well, yes, eventually.

I'd be lying if I told you that I knew from the moment my stomach got Brent-butterflies that I knew he was "the one." Our roller coaster relationship ranged from sharing cinnamon crunch bagels in Panera and me saying, "I don't see myself liking anyone the way I like you," to a full out 17-year-old tantrum on the amish lane when he told me he wanted to wait a couple months to date. (Yup, not even break-up, just wait to date.) There's the infamous story of Brent creating a fancy seafood dinner, only to have me throw it up all over his driveway as his dog cleaned up behind me (Reagan and I have an unfortunate but special bond now). My favorite thing might be the poster he made me for my 18th birthday, on which he listed some of his favorite things about me including (I quote)

-Your excitement and love for Target

-The face you make when you really want something

Ask me if I have that poster readily available as ammunition.

Junior "banquet"

Junior "banquet"

I truly cherish the memories we've shared. And they definitely produce some pretty hilarious evenings reminiscing and sorting through photos, jerseys, the game ball he gave me from his championship baseball game (which he still says is a mistake!).

But we've definitely had extra things to work through in the length of time we've known each other. Who I was seven years ago, and who I am today are very different. Things that were spoken out of insecurity, and actions that were taken out of immaturity left an imprint our experiences of each other, and that made dating for marriage really hard. We had both broken trust, and now we needed to rebuild in order to make a solid and true commitment. There would be no more breaking up for the summers, and "taking it slow" if we were serious about marriage.

Those kids are lookin' thrilled.

Those kids are lookin' thrilled.

Senior year, our longest stretch of dating.

Senior year, our longest stretch of dating.

Last night we watched a Nicholas Sparks movie (yup I'm still a sucker for those things) and it got me thinking about our love story. I don't really "take pride" in where we've been, in the fact that we were that couple who did end up together, or in the fact that we shared the awkward stages. That actually made things really hard. Marrying my high school sweetheart is a fun little fact about my life, but my favorite thing about our love story is where we are going.

photo by Jamie D Photography

photo by Jamie D Photography