For the Mama Without a Mama

I remember the moment she said it. She was standing at the door of my room, and I was sitting on the floor going through my closet. She said to leave her bedroom as it was for a little while in case I ever want to go sit in there and talk with her. She told me to rock in the rocking chair and feel that this separation is only temporary.
She was my mother. She had cancer, and I was just barely considered an adult – too young to lose my mama who also happened to be my best friend.
I did lose her just a few short weeks later. My life turned upside down and inside out. It was just she and I, but on that second to last Friday in May, it became just me. I found myself visiting that chair many times before we moved. My husband and I were engaged a few months later and married before a year was up. That’s when the big moments began. I got engaged with a ring like the many my mama and I had talked about sitting on the couch in our living room. And our wedding was wonderful – complete with a precious tribute just for her. But she wasn’t there, and I knew these sweet moments would only be the beginning of things I’d go through without her.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t terrify me to become a mom without her here. She’s the one I called 20 times a day and could ask anything. There was no filter on our relationship, nothing was embarrassing, and she was the wisest of women. One of the hardest parts about her being gone was knowing she wasn’t here praying for me and encouraging me to draw closer to Christ. There came lesson number one.

Day 4 & 5 #knittogetherbyadoption

Why? That’s a good question. Why do we foster? That can probably be answered differently depending on the day, or honestly, my mood. What first peaked my interest into the foster care world was the equal need between my arms needing the weight of a baby and a baby needing the security of my arms. God opened the doors of fostering both by paving the way to our being licensed and by opening the doors of our hearts. I’d be crazy to look back on this journey and think anything less than this being the plan all along.
When Baby A came home I realized that I spent a lot of time preparing for something impossible to prepare for. The love I felt for her was intense and instantaneous. I realized, looking at her that first night, that her all of 3 day old self knew more brokenness than most adults. I was about to see God build beauty from brokenness.
I’d like to put on my rosy glasses and think that the dimpled hands and chubby thighs keep me in foster care but the reality is the brokenness, abuse, pain… and hope keep me here. This system is terribly flawed towards our children and it’s quietly become my mission to stand in the gap for our kids. There’s a burning desire in my heart to love them well. To teach them their worth. To give them connection, attachment, trust, and unconditional love. To let them be little.
Day 5 of #knittogetherbyadoption asks about RAISING AWARENESS.
On of the things I’m most passionate about is teaching people the MANY ways to get involved in foster care. Before we were licensed I’ll be honest – I didn’t know much about foster care or the depth of the need. When we went to get involved it was as foster parents because I was unaware of the many avenues we could have served prior to feeling lead to grow our family this way.
Firstly, let me tell you we are NOT any better, different, more special, etc. AND we experience no less pain over the trauma of our kids than anyone else would. I do believe you have to have a calling to foster. It’s a job and its tough – no doubt about that. BUT everyone IS called to serve and there are so many ways in which to serve these beautiful children.
A few ways to immediately serve is volunteering a couple hours a month to mentoring kids. Depending on their ages you may be grabbing coffee and chatting, helping with homework, helping job search, throwing around a basketball, reading books, or snuggling the youngest of these. One of the ways we, as a family, have been served is through meals when a new babe comes. The first week especially is tough. Not only is the family adjusting but you spend A TON of time on the phone between social workers, getting the kids medical insurance set up, etc. There’s a lot of “business” to get done in that first week which takes precious bonding time away. When a meal is brought over I can’t tell you how blessed we feel!
Donating to the county, Foster Family Agencies, group homes, etc. is also a great way to get involved. Most of the time kids are taken out of a dangerous situation quickly. Most kids come into care with what’s on their back. Some maybe have a trash bag with a couple things. Hopefully they fit. Aside from bringing in clothes, toys, or toiletries, there are amazing organizations fighting for foster kids to have a little normalcy. Together We Rise is one of our family’s favorite organizations. You can buy and decorate packs from them. Their packs are duffle bags and they come with a teddy bear, blanket, and a few other things for the kids. More times than not a child is moved with a trash bag. Shame would be a good way to describe this but Together We Rise helps eliminate that. They truly are an incredible organization! PLUS the decorating parties are a blast! 
There’s seriously a way for EVERYONE to get involved in serving these children. After all, in 5,10,15 years, these children are the adults of our society. They need us now. Whether you can give an hour a week, an hour a month, or an hour a year, every minute of your time is worth SO much for these kids! AND I guarantee you’ll feel more blessed at the end than anything!

As always, please reach out if you need resources on how to get involved in your area!

Day 3: OUR STORY

As I was telling you yesterday, we began talking about foster care towards the end of our journey through infertility. You can read more about that HERE. But this isn’t where our journey began. God knit this into our beings. We may not have always known this would be our journey but He knew and He makes beauty from brokenness.
We began the licensing process quickly after our first phone call to our Foster Family Agency. Anyone that knows me knows patience is not my virtue.  Our FFA was about to discover just what I meant by this statement.
We had our licensing packet complete within 2 weeks, had all our classes scheduled and completed in a month and were licensed within a week of our last class. Partially because I “checked up” quite a bit on our licensing worker and partially because we made our schedules work with theirs rather than visa versa. We were just SO ready!
During our licensing we got a call for a sibling set of four. We weren’t able to take them because we had too much to still complete. The day before our license was complete we got a call for a baby girl born the day before. We said YES! Timing was perfect… our license came on Friday at 5pm and Baby A was at our door 4 hours later.
What happened to those 4 kiddos you ask? Exactly a month after Baby A came home we said yes to a sibling set of 2 – a 1 ½ yr old boy and a 2 ½ yr old girl. They had actually called us 6 times for this sib set. We had said no because of location of the visits, etc. Finally we decided this call must be for us and said yes. The little girl was only with us for a very short time but Baby J was here for quite a while (and will be in our lives for a lifetime but that’s a story for another time). A few months later we found out these two babies were the two youngest of that sibling set! Crazy how the timing works out sometimes! Why we had to go through what we did with J is a mystery to me but what I do know is he made a permanent mark on all our hearts and his smile will be in the sweetest of my dreams forever.

If you know our story, you know that we now have 2 beautiful baby girls. We don’t know what God has planned for their precious lives but I’m honored and humbled He has entrusted us with their lives even if for only a short time. I guess you’ll have to stick around to find out how their story unfolds.




Our Trip to Tennessee

When we first got the news Baby A would be leaving us, we were devestated. Unlike with J, we had some kind of a clue she’d be going home and we also knew this was a positive day in foster care but that didn’t fix our hurting hearts all the way. It was negetive in the way our hearts were breaking, but this IS the way foster care is made to work. Family reunification CAN BE positive. Although we are all too aware, reunification can come too soon for some, but for A we were so proud of her mom and so grateful for the beautfiul relationship we had worked (hard) at forming. A’s family will remain in our prayers and hearts for a lifetime and we already have a date planned to see them!
The night we dropped A off was heartwrenching. It felt wrong to feel so heartbroken because we were SO very happy for this family. They worked hard and they got their baby back. On the car ride home, I told Ryan we needed a vacation. I say this often so I don’t think he took me so seriously but I told him, “no, for real… give me some dates.” We decided Nashville would be perfect: the perfect mix of fun and relaxation. Just what our hearts needed.
We knew we wanted to stay at a B&B or somewhere that felt authentically Southern. A few places on our list were already sold out but we stumble upon perfection in the Butterfly Inn. Not only was this sweet B&B in thee most beautiful setting, but it was thee sweetest southern home we ever have seen! It was very Joanna Gaines!
The flight was horrible (I hate flying) but we did make it in one piece. However, almost died in the worst, most expensive taxi ride of our lives. I didn’t know what was going to kill us first, the man’s driving or the meter price ticking away! We finally made it to the Butterfly Inn at 1am and our amazing vacation began. The room was gorgeous and we welcomed that big ol bed with open arms and sleepy eyes!
Our first morning there, we started the day with the most amazing breakfast either of us has ever had! I told them they need to make a cookbook, for real! The food was to die for!!

That first day, we spent most of the day in and around Franklin. There was so much we wanted to do and see but of course, not enough time to actually do it all. We did get to walk around Downtown Franklin, which we loved! We checked out some houses in the area and shopped in the sweet shops around the circle. There was a house (farm?) with bison and buffalo laying the front yard (WHAT?!) which was so neat! We had a slow day, which was really nice!


On Friday, we spent the day in Nashville. We knew we were going to the Grand Ol Opry that night so we decided that would be a good day to explore. We went to Centennial Park, walked around Vanderbilt and Belmont’s Nursing Schools (cue the pitter patter of my heart!), went to The Frothy Monkey, which has amazing coffee and roamed the area. We then got lost in the Grand ol Opry Hotel… okay no joke that place is HUGE! All we wanted was some dinner! Nope, we literally walked through the hotel, trying to find the exit for 45 minutes! We finally made it to the Opry and it did not disappoint! We saw the best show and toured the Opry after the show! SO fun! We said we’d totally do it again because you either are busy listening or taking pictures and the country music history in the Opry covers every nook and cranny. We could probably tour it 10 more times and be just as amazed!


On Saturday we took a little longer getting out of the B&B. Seriously you could vacation by staying at Butterfly Inn all weekend. There was a family of deer outside our window each morning. I would have loved to explore the trails. We will definitely be going back soon and exploring we will do! We went out to the lake in Hendersonville and spent some time walking through the neighborhoods there then headed to Downtown Nashville, Ryan bought his first pair of cowboy boots (yup, you heard that right!! My black and gray loving husband bought some cowboy boots and boy does he look sexy if I do say so!), and walked around the heart of Nashville. Later that night we met a sweet friend for dinner at Haddy’s, which had delicious burgers (the food in TN did not disappoint!) then went to Jeni’s for ice cream, which was the most delicious ice cream we’ve ever had!


We had an early flight out on Sunday and a piece of my heart stayed in Tennessee. The state is gorgeous and there wasn’t one thing we didn’t love! Until next time, I’m so thankful for the memories!

These donkeys were at the Butterfly Inn and I fell IN LOVE!!

Together We Rise

I have loved the organization Together We Rise since before we even started talking about foster care. The thought of packing up the few things I want into a trash bag made me sick… I’d soon find out just how sick it made me.
They say that you never really understand something until you live it or see it firsthand. Of course this always rings true when the moment comes for you to experience something first hand. When the moment came for me, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Let me start by telling you the mission behind this organization. They have a goal of changing the look of the infamous “trash bag.” They strive to give kids in foster care duffle bags to take their stuff with them in when they move. Not only are they giving these kids duffle bags, but they are giving them hand made bags. You see, companies, individuals, whoever really can buy the bags from Together We Rise and decorate them to their liking for the kids. Then the organization adds a blanket and teddy bear to the bag and takes them to the county and FFA’s like Olive Crest to give to the kids in their care. Baby “A” came from the hospital so her belongings came in a clear bag the hospital discharged her with. Baby “J” came with a trash bag. When I saw this my heart broke in half. Here you have this scared little kid dragging a trash bag with his things in it. I experienced a feeling I hope to never feel again and it gave me a passion and fire for Together We Rise.
The following day, our FFA Case Manager came by with 2, beautifully decorated duffle bags from Together We Rise. They were filled cute designs hand drawn by someone that will probabaly never meet my children but I say to you now… You made a difference for them! “J” was soo excited about his bag! He carried it around for the rest of the day.
I strongly encourage you to look into this organization! They are local to us, based out of Brea, CA and their hearts are in the right place. I feel like people are so quick to say they could never be foster parents and I truly believe God has to place this journey on your heart bevasue it is gruling and brutal at times, however, EVERYONE can help these kids in one way or another. There is a vicious cycle with kids in foster care and there aren’t enough homes to change the cycle as a whole but there are so many other ways to wrap your arms around these kids! The LITTLEST things mean the world to these children and you will be making such a difference. Whether its taking part in an event through organziations like Together We Rise, making blankets for group homes and welcome centers, donating toys and books to the county or FFA’s, or many other ways, it all makes a difference! Big or small!

From this mama’s heart, Together We Rise I thank you! You’ve made an impact on my children and are making such an impact on the kids lives that you touch!

Our Precious Announcement…



First comes love then comes marriage then comes well you know the rest of the riddle! We are so excited to announce that we are growing our family through foster care! We’ve been on this journey for a little while now and have felt God’s hand leading us down this road. We have a few months left to go and look forward to welcoming a baby into our family around August!
As with any child, we are not guaranteed a specific amount of time with them. We may, or we may not, have the opportunity to adopt the children we foster. Each child’s situation will be unique and we will likely have several placements over time. One thing is for sure: we will love each child that comes into our home unconditionally. We will provide them with a healthy, nurturing, and healing environment. No matter the duration, any child that enters our home will be our child.
We are so blessed to be able to parent these little angels and appreciate the amazing support we’ve received from family and friends thus far. We have wished for, longed for, and prayed for these babies. Our love for them has grown in our hearts just as it would for a biological child and we trust God will place each baby with us intentionally, that we may nurture and adore.
For this child we have prayed
XO, Ryan and Kaytlin

To My Stud…

Happy Birthday to my handsome husband!
When I look into your eyes I am reminded of the love of Christ. You shower me with that love daily. Even on the days I least deserve you, you show me grace. I am proud to stand by you, grow with you, love, and support you. I am so incredibly proud to be your wife and partner in life.
Looking back on the last year, I am so thankful for our adventures. Just as I’ve always told you, you are my adventure and my calm. I am so incredibly thankful for your solidness and your gentleness. You truly are my best friend and I love you more than life baby. Cheers to the best year yet!

XOXO


The Month of May…

Oh the month of May! You come around every 11 months or so and each time I have had/probably will always have a different reaction and feeling on the topic. March is a busy month for us. Its full of birthdays! Literally there are 12 birthdays (including mine) between just our families not to mention friends! So it’s busy but super fun and family filled. But May holds much more for us personally even though it only has 3 real days of events. These days have held the biggest moments of our lives though.
First comes Mother’s Day. A day to celebrate the woman that is most taken for granted in our lives. My mom was my best friend. She was the lady that I told EVERYTHING to (often embarrassing or mortifying my husband… sorry babe!). She prayed for me, prayed with me, fought with me, cried with me, cried for me, laughed with me, and she loved me unconditionally. I was often made fun of in school for how close I was to my mom but to all you who said those things… I think you’re weird to so we’re even! Any ways back to Mother’s Day. If you’ve been following me online or know me in any sort of way, you already know that I lost my mom to colon cancer a couple of years ago. Obviously, along with changing my daily life, this changed the terms of my “Mother’s Day” quite a bit. It’s a different sort of day for me now. It reminds me that the most irreplaceable person in my life is gone and can’t be pampered on this day. It reminds me what I’m missing, as if I needed reminding in the first place. It reminds me of thing and moments I regret with my mom. It reminds me I can’t go back and say “I’m sorry” or “I love you” to her again. If I were writing this post last year at this time it would have looked much different. I was excited to remember my mom on Mother’s Day last year. I had different feelings and emotions. This year I’m much more sad and I’m sure, in part, that has to do with the next topic I’ll touch on.
If you read my last few posts about our infertility struggle you already know that Ryan and I have been unable to conceive and will be doing IVF soon. If you didn’t read that and would like to, click here and here. I guess I never thought we’d have this hard a time getting pregnant. Every women in my family has become pregnant before they even wanted to and no one has had issues until after they were done having kids. I never thought years would pass of us trying. I never thought I’d be getting pregnant in a doctors office instead of our bedroom (insert cover the eyes monkey emoji!). But anyways that’s part of our story and we’re rolling with it because that’s just what you have to do I guess. But I know this Mother’s Day has been on my heart becasue we so hope to be parents and I thought we’d for sure by now be celebrating with our baby. I know God has a plan for us and right now I’m drawing near to Him to get through this weekend celebrating my sweet mama friends, my step mom, and my mother in law, all while remembering the most important person in my life, my mama!
Up next for us in May is our anniversary! Yup, May 15th I said “I Do” to my handsome hubby. This year, to celebrate, we are taking a MUCH needed weekend and going to Palm Springs. I didn’t want to travel anywhere far because half of our getaway would be traveling so we’re going about an hour away to celebrate and I could be looking forward to it more! In the craziness of everyday life it is so incredibly important to put the focus back on us so our anniversary couldn’t come at a better time.
Lastly, the most life-changing event happened in my / our lives. I lost my mom. May 24th will never look the same again. Somedays I feel like I talked to her yesterday and other days it feels like 10 years has past. I don’t think you ever stop needing your mom but I’ll tell you, I feel like I need her now more than ever. So many changes are happening in our lives right now that I so need her and her wisdom. But God is quickly showing me that He is more than capable to handle me and my issues (and I have plenty!) and most importantly, He is the safest place to rest.
I’m so thankful for the Instagram community. I’ve made so many amazing and encouraging friends through it, one of which has been MarriageMore. I listen to their podcasts and am so grateful for them. Although I don’t know them personally I feel like I have so much in common with Mandy and have learned grace and grown as a wife through their sharing. I so recommend this to everyone! I like to listen on my way to work (although I work 2 hours away and can listen to 4 or more on my way… I try to space them out!). My husband has also really grown from these. One of our biggest problems since moving has been finding our niche. Its sooo much easier making friends in high school! My high school self would laugh at me now but it’s true! We had a church and friends and family where we used to live and it’s like starting over here. We’ve been here a year next month and we really haven’t found “our place” with in the community yet.
* Side note: we FINALLY found our forever home church out here! We initially attended a Calvary Chapel because that’s where I came from before we moved, but we couldn’t really dive in and meet people. The groups met at conflicting times with our schedule and the overall atmosphere was a little older. I loved it because I am used to the Calvary teaching but I could tell it would be difficult for us to grow there so we went back on the hunt and found our perfect place! The first Sunday there I ironically knew someone! He had worked with my mom for a few years and Ryan and I felt right at home! Praise God!   
Anyways, back to MarriageMore. I finished a podcast this morning and it really spoke to my heart. I believe it’s a couple months old, but Mandy shares a few ways she’s working to become a better wife. You guys, I’m no pro by any means, but I’ve seen through real relationships in my life that the women that work on themselves everyday ultimately end up with a better marriage, better relationships, are better moms, and are just better humans in general. I’ve been in a rut all week so I needed this encouragement.
I’ve been harsh, grumpy, impatient, annoyed, and just all around moody. My husband has shown me extra grace because he knows this week is a hard one on me, but it’s still little to no excuse. If we’re friends on Instagram, you probably saw that we’ve also been fighting with Chevy regarding our lemon. Our brand new Tahoe is a lemon and I’ve been out of a car for a couple months now. We went this week to finally pick up my new car and they brought in the wrong car! I couldn’t believe it! So now that process just got more complicated and the car we wanted of course sold so they are trying to find us another one. Anyways when it rains, it pours.
I’m telling you all this to lead up to a few things God’s placed on my heart. First of all, I love Ephesians. Ephesians 5 speaks to me in such a real way right now. Partially this is because my Bible has incredible footnotes or study notes on this passage that really breaks this down in real life terms (even though this is a super easy to understand chapter… it just adds to that meaning for me). But one verse that really stood out to me was “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ… For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church…” The footnote spoke about how our example of marriage is an example of Christ’s love. It painted such a beautiful picture for me of the sanctity of marriage. Then I thought about how my bad attitude is polluting my marriage… really put things in perspective for me!
Secondly, as I listed to MarriageMore’s podcast, they were interviewing Ryan and Selena Frederick of Fierce Marriage(also amazing and I’ll talk on them soon!). Ryan and Selena told a story of a friend of theirs where the wife felt lead to better love her husband as he is not as she wants him. This is so real for me right now because women and men are just different and thank goodness! But sometimes I find myself starting to resent Ryan for what I want of him that he isn’t instead of loving all the incredible and wonderful things that he is. I know everyday that God is working in me and in Ryan. God knows what I need of Ryan and He knows what Ryan needs of me. If I show Ryan unending love and support and kindness and interest in him as a person right now, God will use that to mold his heart toward the things I need that maybe aren’t 100% there. Knowledge is power and after diving into these passages and hearing these podcasts today, I know a couple of real things to work on within myself and I’m committing to work on them. Yikes! I’ll let you know how this goes!

Weekend Time

The last couple of weeks have been tough! I feel like we’ve been super busy, but getting nothing done. Does anyone else ever feel that way?! I know we aren’t the only ones that think weekends are just not long enough…

We are trying to balance housework with together time with spending time with family and friends and I just feel like we’ve been loosing in most of these areas no matter how hard we try. So we made a deal with each other… one ½ day out of the weekend will be dedicated to housework and the rest of the weekend is for each other and those that matter most to us! I’d rather have a pile of unfolded clothes then no time with the love of my life! Sometimes we have to take these little steps back and “regroup” to find where our priorities must be!

That being said… Enjoy your weekend friends!

Hubby and Wifey

I love love love my husband… He is definitely the peanut butter to my jelly. I didn’t know what the heck this meant the first time he said it to me a few years ago and honestly (funny looking back) I was kind of offended when he said it! So with his little grin he explained that we are so different but we just aren’t as good apart as we are together… AWW! I have told him multiple times that someday when I have nothing to do (insert laugh!) I will have to come up with a less food-like comparison.
It always amazes me at how different two married people can be yet how happy they are together. On paper, Ryan and I probably wouldn’t match up as friends let alone partners in life. He is very laid back, always takes others actions as kind, he is loyal, caring, gentle, sometimes lazy (haha), quiet, and he is comfortable being comfortable. I am always going a hundred miles a minute, like things done 5 minutes before you realize there was something needing to be done, I’m a straight shooter, inpatient (mostly with myself), protective of those I love, am good at giving honest opinions (if you ask, I’ll tell), I come from a loud family, am kind, caring, and mostly uncomfortable when things feel too comfortable. So yes, we do have a couple key qualities in common but as you can see, we are mostly opposites.

I have good qualities and I know I definitely have room for improvement, as we all do! I like that we are different because I think we can learn from each other. With these differences come obstacles also. I handle situations differently than Ryan. I am assertive, which can sometimes look like impatient, and expect others to work at 100% because that is how I work for others. Ryan’s roles are so different than mine. He has the patience role fit to a T. He is the builder of our house. The one to calm me down in a storm, the one who reminds me it’s okay, the one that sees the best in others. He really is the better part of me. He’s also the one that I get to encourage to do more, be better, and remind that the sky is the limit.
Most often I see our differences come out in a disagreement. Although we really don’t argue often, when we do we are reminded almost immediately that we are two very different people. Ryan is a communicator, I am a thinker. I like to be left alone for a while were as Ryan likes to talk things through (sometimes talk things straight through the ground, haha!).

All this to say, I am constantly amazed at how opposite people can love each other so strongly, live together so well, and really make two halves whole. I often tell Ryan that I’ve always prayed to have more patience and God brought me him. He is my daily reminder of how to have patience as his example of patience is nearly perfected. Along with this, he sometimes is the source of me needing to show the patience I work so hard to have… hehe J