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.




#knittogetherbyadoption

Did you know May is Foster Care Awareness Month? I’m joining in with #knittogetherbyadoption to help raise awareness for kids in foster care. Obviously foster care is very near and dear to our hearts. Aside from being actual foster parents there are SO many avenues to help kids in foster care. If ever you’d like to get involved but don’t know where to start please reach out… I’d be happy to help you along the way!
I’m mixing 2 days in on since I wasn’t able to get on yesterday. However, I am on track on Instagram so feel free to follow me along there @peachesandpaisleys. 


Day 1: An Introduction
I’m Kate, married to my handsome hubs Ryan. We are foster and hopeful adoptive parents. At the moment we have 2 beautiful baby girls who are 10 months apart under the age of 14 months. Yes! Our hands and hearts are very full and we LOVE it!
Both girls were placed with us in February of this year, a week apart from each other. They are our 4th and 5thbabies. We didn’t think we would be an emergency placement home but God has uniquely opened the door for each of these sweet babies to join our family although our hearts still pray for a baby to stay.

Day 2: How did you first learn of foster care?
We always knew we wanted to adopt but we wanted to get pregnant before we talked about that adoption. We had been walking the road of infertility for quite some time. We briefly talked about private adoption during our time in fertility. One morning I had a heart to heart with Jesus. I knew I couldn’t keep doing fertility treatments but desperately wanted a family. Some sweet friends of ours had recently been licensed to foster babies. I felt God opening this door but NEVER thought Ryan would go for it.
Over the next few days I couldn’t stop thinking this is where we were meant to be. I told God if He wanted this for us He needed to open Ryan’s heart. I wasn’t going to try to convince him. Sure enough we sat down to talk about it and I didn’t even finish the first sentence of what I though would be a long conversation and Ryan said he felt this was our next move as well (WHAT?!?!). Our very close family friends founded our Foster Family Agency so I called and we were licensed shortly after.

Side story: my impatience came to full show as we were getting licensed. Apparently we are the fastest family to have ever been licensed through our agency and we were formally placed with our first baby 20 minutes after our licensed was signed.

Our Rose Garden

Last weekend Ryan and I took our girls into the backyard to do some yard work. Can I be honest with you? Last weekend was not my shining moment. Nothing really happened but you could say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. All. Weekend. Long. [insert “Poor Ryan” here]
At church on Sunday I prayed for the ugliness to leave my heart. I didn’t want to end the weekend on a bad note and I was sure Ryan and the girls were over my ugly mood. Ryan decided he wanted to get some yard work done and, half ducking, asked if I wanted to join. I, of course deep in my funk, said no but changed my mind a few minutes later. I took Minnie out with me to meet Ryan and JoJo on the side of the house. When I turned the corner of the house, I nearly changed my mind again at the sight of our little rose garden. It was FULL of weeds. My only regret is not getting a “before” picture to share with y’all.
As I started cutting back the rose bushes and untangling the weeds from the beautiful stems, it took my breath away – the peace and irony that filled the moment. Do you ever have those moments when God is speaking to you as clearly as if He were literally standing in front of you talking? This is how I felt in that moment. I could touch the face of Jesus.

For whatever reason, my heart was full of nasty weeds all weekend. Maybe it was from the stress of the crazy week we had previously, or the bitterness of the injustice we can’t seem to get away from with the girls, or maybe its because my body seems to know May is coming and the loss of my mom has stretched on another year. No matter what the reason, I felt like God was using this overgrown garden to teach me a lesson.
The sum up of this garden being a mess is because the people tending to it (Ryan and I) had let it go. The winds here have been bad lately, we haven’t checked the sprinkler system in a while, and you could say this little rose garden was “out of sight, out of mind.” This can so often be the same reason for the ugliness that grows in our hearts. We’re too busy to relax, too stressed to take a break during the day – there aren’t enough hours in the day anyways. I often wonder what my heart would feel like if each day I took 30 minutes to do something mindless that I love – be it taking a bath, painting my nails, crocheting, sewing something for my sweet babies, etc. More importantly, if I found some time each day to spend with my Father. Not the typical, semi distracted time, but full attention, quiet mind time.

Sometimes thinking about finding me time is more stressful than anything. Trying to schedule a time out. This is where priorities come in.
Finding this time IS more important than folding that pile of laundry sitting in the dryer.
It IS more important than unloading the dishwasher.
It IS more important than answering that text, or that email.
This is the time that is making me a better mama, wife, and friend. It’s my time to unwind and renew. Now I know all this but I can’t honestly say I’ve mastered when to fit this time in. I can’t even say I have fit it in everyday since this moment we were cutting back the rose bushes. But what I can tell you is when the weeds were pulled, the dead roses removed, the planters raked and watered, and the branches trimmed of their weight, we were left with a beautiful rose garden. When I first saw the garden I didn’t think there was ANY roses worth saving. It just looked like a big ol mess. But when everything was cleaned up, I was left with TONS of gorgeous roses. I trimmed a bunch and put them throughout the house and there were still TONS of beautiful roses left on the bushes. You just couldn’t tell in the beginning because there was too much distracting you from the beauty of what mattered.
So, as I sit and write this, I’ve also come up with my game plan. I have two options – getting up before the girls and having some time to myself or, when Ryan gets home, taking a half hour after dinner to unwind. I’m not a morning person and would probably grow to resent waking up earlier and Ryan already takes over bath time at night, so for me, this is the perfect time. I would normally try to clean up the toys or do dishes or laundry during bath time, but I’m committing this time to work on my heart. I would have felt guilty about this a while ago – needing time to myself – but its not fair to myself to feel guilty. We have to recharge our batteries. For me, it’s crucial to spend time in the Word without the distractions. It sets me up to be a better wife and mama. Isn’t that enough to make this time worth it? Absolutely.

What are some things you do to recharge your batteries, or tend to your garden? When do you find time to do those things?

“Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sweet Kid-Friendly Treats

I started making these sweet treats when Ryan and I were first dating. They’ve evolved into one of our family favorites! Super easy and even fun to make with the kids!
I normally keep a bunch in the fridge and by the end of the week we’ll be ready to make more.
Butter Balls
(I don’t know why we call them this because
there is no butter in the recipe, but anyways….)
20 small marshmallows
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 ½ – 2 cups dry milk
1 cup (or more) of topping for rolling

1.    Mix the peanut butter, honey, and dry milk in a bowl to create a dough-like mixture. The dough should be somewhat dry so when you roll it in your hands it should stick together to form a ball. If the dough is too moist, add more dry milk.
2.    Scoop a tablespoon of mix and flatten with your fingers. Place a marshmallow in the middle and roll the dough around the marshmallow.
3.    Roll the ball through your topping (we used crushed heath bar – see below for topping ideas)
4.    Line all the butter balls on a plate or in a container and refrigerator for 1 hour. They will last in the fridge for at least a week.
YUMMY TOPPING IDEAS// heath bar, crushed mini M&M’s, chopped peanuts, chopped cashews, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, chocolate shavings

VARIATIONS// you can also use other nut butters, you just need to adjust the dry milk accordingly. The nut butter and honey should always remain proportional.


Foster Care Friday

Sometimes God asks us to go on a wild ride and trust Him even when it’s hard. This has been my month. Although jumping back into fostering has been so positive and having the weight of these babies in our arms is priceless, the all too familiar out-of-control, scary, unknown aspect of foster care is back.
We have these words to people we meet who learn we are foster parents: “we treat each day as a gift,” “we are never guaranteed time with anyone but that doesn’t make us love them less,” “they are our babies while we have them,” “we fight for our kids who have no voice,” etc. On most days I truly believe these words, but not everyday is most days. Foster care is hard.
I’ve often heard fellow foster parents describe their time in foster care and it seems unanimous. When you go through training you’re presented with tons of different scenarios. You’re “prepared” by the end of training. You leave with your “we’re going to love on these sweet babies, unicorn, and roses” glasses on. I think everyone’s glasses come off at different times. Our first case was described as “very unique” (not that there is a normal anyways!) so our glasses came off quickly. We drove thousands of miles to appointments, spent, on average, 15 hours a week on the phone, 8 hours a week writing reports, 4 hours a week with social workers visiting our home, and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week loving on these babies. There were days when the brokenness of the system wore into my bones, and other days when I saw the system behave the way it was designed. It’s a broken world but on some days, the system seemed to benefit at least one person. Either way we love and love without bounds.  We are NOT special. We aren’t different. God gave us the same hearts as anyone else but I believe He did place this particular desire on our hearts and now that we’ve been immersed in this foster care world, we have a responsibility here. There are days I don’t want that responsibility though. Days I want to throw in the towel. After our Baby J left, I lost a piece of my heart that will never return. That was the day this system failed this little boy. That was the day we witnessed injustice and our hands were tied because all we could do was pack up his things and kiss our baby goodbye. We hoped he wouldn’t forget us, told him we love him 100x over, and packed him up with the pictures we had taken over his time with us. The ache in my heart is here to stay. I can’t imagine it will ever go away. I miss his sweet hand press against my chest when he smiles at me. I miss him calling me mama. He has a smile that can light up the room. The weirdest part about all this? He’s not gone. He’s just gone from us.
I’m stubborn by nature. I like to prove people wrong, have no problem standing up for myself, and typically work best when I’m frustrated. This journey of foster care has broken me. It has changed me. It’s given me an element of compassion I couldn’t have gotten from anywhere else. It comes from this whole out-of-our-control experience. I may not understand the choices birth parents make but I love them in some weird way. I was all too prepared to hate them and instead find myself hating their actions, hating their circumstances, hating how it effects these babies, but overall, having some kind of love and compassion for them. There’s something about coming along side another human and trying to show them God’s love. After all, we are just as broken as they are. But I’ll tell you, I go to bed exhausted. I’ve never been an emotional person and I have more emotions than my mother now. Yikes!
Until next week… have a good weekend, sweet friends! 


#MoveItUpMonday

One of the things I love about Instagram in particular is the way you can see things change in the home, life, family, etc. without all the words or ads in the way. I was browsing my feed yesterday for a picture for #moveitupmonday and what did I find? A whole bunch of pictures of progress. All too often I get overwhelmed with the “needs to be dones” and loose sight of the progress that has been done. This kind of made me sad, thinking we get so far ahead of ourselves that we forget to just enjoy the moment. I’m a frequent offender in this category. Especially as a stay at home mama, I have days where I feel surrounded by my projects or honey do list for the house. Just two short years ago we were moving in to a white walled house. We left our home behind and it was a very difficult transition for me. Yesterday, browsing my own feed, I saw all the hours of hard work and planning Ryan and I have done, making this house our home.
Here’s our dining room before & after: 
(stay tuned this week for a few more from around the house!)



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!!

Blogging Update! It’s Been Forever!

Okay, so it’s been a while. At the start of this year, I really planned to figure out how much of our “baby life” we’d share on here. I originally started this blog in hopes to keep our family and friends updated on our lives since we moved a little ways away and had made some big changes. Last year, we became parents to a precious newborn and our world turned upside down for this sweet girl. My effort in updating fell to the wayside as we adjusted to life as a family of three and exactly one month later, a family of four when our Baby J joined the family.
Anyways, at the start of the year I had great plans to jump back in, then the hardest month of our little family’s life came in January. Both our babies were “moved” and we didn’t know what our next move would be for our family. By the end of January we were broken and left wondering, seeking, and praying for God’s sweet will to be visible. We spent most of February working on ourselves and taking a fun vacation, something we don’t do enough of. We “unplugged.”
Well now it’s March and in true March fashion, has been an EXTREMELY busy month! On Ryan’s side it’s every women’s birthday this month plus 4 birthdays on my side! Ohh and our family bumped back up to 4 with in three days at the beginning of the month! WOW!
All this to say… This blog has been a jumbled mess of home décor, projects, cooking, and family, and I plan to continue this jumble, just more regularly now. I sure do miss and love this sweet blogging community!

For those of you sweet friends that have been lifting our family up in your prayers, we sincerely thank you. You have blessed our little tribe more than we could tell you.  Now, have a cup of coffee with me, and stay awhile.