Thursday, August 27, 2015

What's Up Wednesday: Welcome Week and First Birthday Edition

Well, I had every intention of getting this up on Wednesday, but then my sweet baby girl got a miserable case of this horrid condition known around the world as...teething. Every other tooth seems to just pop up with nothing but a slight whine in the middle of the night. But this tooth must be a gold one or something. She's had a horrible fever that just wasn't breaking and was super lethargic and just not herself. Even though she's miserable and it breaks Mommy's heart, all moms cling to one hope in those terrible times: the cuddles are off the charts and we're not doing a daggum dish until she's back to normal. 

 So. What's Up, Thursday, it is.

1. What we're eating...leftover pizzas, pbj sandwiches and whatever is being grilled and given away for free on campus. Welcome Week is nuts around here. Long days on campus and evenings filled with events that may or may not include food, but are right in the middle of dinner time and that go well into the night waaaaaayy past bedtime. So, I had grand plans for all these wonderful crock pot meals for these first few weeks of school to help us still eat somewhat healthy and not spend wads of cash on drive thru dinners. I bought all the necessary ingredients and even made some into freezer bag meals that only needed to be thawed a bit before tossing into the crock pot. Then my crock pot lid broke. thrus and hot dogs it is.

2. What I'm reminiscing about...these days last year; being huge-pregnant, trying to get all the last minute stuff done and anticipating getting to meet our little girl. I was also praying heavily that she would stay put until the madness of the first week was done.

3. What I'm loving...this is my FAVORITE scent. I love, love, love it! A couple weeks ago, Matt stopped into the Gap Outlet to grab some new shirts and he picked up the very last two bottle of it. Apparently, this particular scent is being discontinued, so I'm forcing myself to ration it out.

4. What we've been up to...Welcome Week, Welcome Week, Welcome Week. And Josiah started back to school too. And getting ready for a First Birthday Party.

5. What I'm dreading...that one year doctor appointment where my sweet baby girl gets shots.

6. What I'm working on...a few minor, but fun-for-me birthday projects.

7. What I'm excited about...Well, I'm excited about the upcoming birthday party. And I'm also excited about the first Chi Alpha meeting of the year next week. It just never gets old. All the planning, all the preparations, all the's just the best!

8. What I'm watching/reading...I've mentioned this book that I'm reading. And it's one of those that I wish I had more solid time right now to just sit and soak it all up, but I simply don't have that kind of time right now. But when I do get's so very refreshing!

We've been watching The Amazing Race from the very beginning all summer long and we just can't give it up. We kinda accidentally started a new season the other night when we were planning to just give it a rest until after the first few weeks of school. But we couldn't help ourselves.

9. What I'm listening to...the gentle hum of the box that has saved my life and my family members' lives for the last two blistering summer. Precious cold air. Thank you, Jesus. (You were hoping for some cool, new music? I have small children. If I'm not listening to VBS songs or the Curious George theme song, I'm not listening to anything.)

10. What I'm wearing...Chi Alpha shirts. All day. Every day.

11. What I'm doing this weekend...You guessed it. An event for Welcome Week, what else? That and recovering from Welcome Week (dishes, laundry, sleeeeeeeep).

12. What I'm looking forward to next many birthdays!!!! My dad's is on the 2nd, Lydia's is on the 5th, my sister's is on the 22nd, my father-in-law's in on the 28th, mine and my brother-in-law's is on the 30th!! Not to mention all the birthdays of other family members and dear friends all throughout the month. Our Fall retreat, Breakaway, is also always at the end of the month and I can't wait for that.

13. What else is new...nothing, really. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Seven Years of Welcome

First of all, thanks so much for all your encouraging-ness (or maybe...encouragement? yeah, that's better.) on that last post. Anytime someone writes out that kind of gut-level honesty and hits "publish" there's an immediate "oh, crap. what-did-i-just-do" type of response.

Luckily, for me, I didn't have a chance to really dwell on that and let it get the best of me because my circus walked through the door from going grocery shopping before I could even finish the last few sentences. In fact, I'm still not completely sure if it made any sense or had any major grammatical errors because I didn't get the chance to proofread it either.

Yes. You read that correctly. My wonderful, saint-of-a-man husband...took BOTH kids to TWO different grocery stores. On a Friday evening. In the middle of rush-hour traffic. In the pouring rain. After a long day of dorm move-ins. So that I could have a couple hours to myself. 

There's just no one better than him in this world. 

Moving on.

This week marks our 7th Welcome Week on the campus of the University of Houston.

Seven years. And the start of our eighth.

And every year just seems better than the last. We've started several of those years going, "Oh, God! Show up! Please! Please help us! We're so in over our heads!!" (Remember that year, Tara? When it was just you, me and Matt?) But it feels like this year is different. Something's in the works. And I'm excited.

I did a little digging and found a few photos of each leadership team we've ever had (except 2012...such a sad thing for me...does anyone have a pic of everyone from that year??? Please email it to me or put it on FB!) and it just warmed my heart and gave me chills all at the same time to see the faces of UHXA leadership throughout the years. So many dearly loved, faithful servants who's legacy continues to live on.

And there are a couple faces who show up in every single picture. Year after year. Through every season of life. And I can't even express what that does to my heart to see the years of faithfulness with my own eyes in one moment of time. Such an honor. Such a joy.

So without anymore wordiness or sappiness, here are seven (well, six...but you get the idea) years of small group leaders for Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at the University of Houston.






Glory to God!!

"Grateful" doesn't even come close.

P.S. I snagged a few of these pics of Tien Dang's Facebook. Thanks, Friend, for being our resident picture-taker and for being generous to let me steal them. Love you.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Breaking the Silence

Coming back to that giant, blank, white space after a long silence is always so intimidating.

Where do I start? 

Something light and trivial?, the weather? LOVING this fantastic cool-front we've been having!!! It's always nice to not have to peel my skin off the leather chair when I stand up. It's only a little annoying to have to keep the kids cooped up still because of the rain and muddy playgrounds...especially when it feels SO GREAT outside. But I'll take it.

A life update? My baby is almost one. ONE. My son is starting Pre-K next week. Like, legitimate Pre-K. Where it means that NEXT YEAR is most likely Kindergarten (haven't quite made that final decision yet). Who are these big kids? Better yet...who am I? How did I get two grown, almost-adult children in my home and how am I almost 32? Whoa.

The child has a big, pink balloon in her hands, but that look on her face is for her Daddy. Need I say more?
Also under life update? It's August. That means Staff planning and Leadership Retreats and Dorm Move-ins and Welcome Week events and crock pot meals (and let's be honest here...tons of drive thrus) and overflowing kitchen sinks and laundry baskets and trash cans and hearts and new friendships. It's August, man.

A heavy-hitter about what's been swirling around in my heart lately?Ahhh! So much! I just can't even. Okay. But I want to. Just not not here. Not right now. Hopefully soon.

Does anybody (besides my mom) really care or have time to read my silly thoughts? Actually, she probably doesn't have time either...but I know she'll make time cuz she's my #1 fan. Right, Ma? Speaking is that lady's birthday. What a woman, I say!

Man, it's just that I enjoy writing so much. Or maybe it's just that I enjoy sharing my thoughts so much. I mean, who doesn't? But sometimes, it feels like a typical middle child scheme to get more attention. To get more pats on the back and applause (not to be confused with "applesauce" which I actually typed first) and compliments.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I have a deep desire for that particular kind of release. And sometimes I feel desperate to just say (write) what's on my mind. I don't always have gloriously deep and thought-provoking things to say. But sometimes I do.

Lately, I've felt more and more like some of the things the Lord has put on my heart are for far more than just myself or the handful of people around me. It seems like the things I'm learning or have experienced could be useful and helpful and encouraging to many others, but instead of choosing to open up here, I just shrug my shoulders and decide that nobody wants to read my rambling.

And I'm starting to feel like that's not the truth.

Can I just confess that that's a hard thing to say in a culture where false-humility is valued over confidence? I'm almost positive that The Lord really does have something to say to someone, or even many others, through me and my experiences That something I've already learned or am still learning about walking with Jesus or marriage or motherhood or ministry or whatever could potentially change hearts and lives, but the enemy has had his way in my mind and I've believed that it's just not that important. I'm really not that big of a deal and nobody really cares what I have to say. Someone else can definitely say it better, more eloquently and probably type it far faster and with fewer mistakes than I ever can.

So why bother? Why let those dishes pile up while I sit here and waste my time?


What other lies have I believed? What lies have you believed? What is something that you've been holding back from doing that could potentially be a huge impact on others? Or even just a huge impact on your relationship with Christ?

I'm honestly not that great of a writer and I really don't always have lofty things to say. But sometimes I do. And I need this space, this little corner of the internet, to have as my mouthpiece from time to time.

And sometimes...I just need to share that funny thing Josiah said or that adorable thing Lydia did or that brilliant thing my husband fixed. And I need the whole world to know hear/see/know about it.

So. If you would...stick with me. Not because I need the extra attention or strokes to my ego (although...I am a middle child, afterall), but because there may be a rare nugget of something profound that just might pierce your heart in that wonderful way.

At least, that's all I can hope for.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A List in Fours

Ah! The break of silence after a super long pause...

I find myself rattling off the saying, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is so weak" quite often and it absolutely applies here. I have tons of things I want to write about, but very little "free time" to make it happen.

So, in the effort of easing back into it, here's a silly little questionnaire about a bunch of random things.


1. Katey (Katherine is my "real" name)
2. Tots (the progression of this one is quite a stretch...Katey> Katers> Kater-tots> Tots...and there are various forms of it as well)
3. Snuggle Muffin (as a wee parents even had a sweatshirt made with this one)
4. Aunt Katey (by some of our former students/friends and actual nieces and nephew)

Jobs I've Had-
1. Chick-Fil-A (very first job ever...I was 15!)
2. Daycare, Babysitter, Nanny
3. Camp Kitchen
4. Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship (best one yet)

Movies I've Watched More Than Once (and could probably quote verbatim)-
1. Little Women (About a thousand times, give or take a few)
2.The Sandlot
3. Elf (every.single.Christmas)
4. A League of Their Own

Items in My Purse (when not lugging a giant diaper bag)-
1. Wallet
2. Gum/mints
3. BBW body spray
4. Hand sanitizer

Cars I've "Owned"-
(fun fact: I've actually never owned a car...they've all been given to me...Thank you, Jesus.)
1. Oldsmobile Something-Something (My first car ever that I got when my grandmother passed away)
2. Toyota Camry
3. Toyota Corolla
4. Toyota Sequoia 

Places I've Lived-
1. Willowood (Houston)
2. Huntsville, TX
3. Cypress, TX
4. Houston, TX (like, HOUSTON...inner-city, downtown-ish, the concrete jungle...sort-of)

Places I've Visited-
1. Holland
2. Kazakhstan
3. Egypt
4. Azerbaijan

Places I'd Like to Visit-
1. Maryland
2. West Coast (San Fran, San Diego, someplace like that)
3. Austrailia
4. Somewhere in South America (These last two because they're the only continents, besides Antarctica, that I haven't visited.

Favorite Foods-
1. Pizza
2. Ice Cream
3. A good salad
4. Chips and queso

Foods I'd Never (voluntarily) Eat-
1. Mayonaisse
2. Caviar/Escargot
3. Raw Sushi
4. Olives

Books I Reccommend-
1. The Bible
2. Live Dead journals
3. Knowledge of the Holy
4. L'Abri

TV Shows I Watch-
1. Just finished Parks and Rec (finally)
2. Re-starting The Office (for the 5th or 6th time)
3. Property Brothers, Love it or List it, Chopped, etc (something home improvement or cooking...with Matt)
4. Curious George (totally by choice, obvi)

Looking Forward to in 2015-
1. Visiting Egypt again (also...meeting my newest niece and hugging tightly family and friends that live there)
2. Vacation to Phoenix (sans circus clowns my lovely children)
3. Lydia's First Birthday
4. the birth of my niece/nephew in November (!!!)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Burnin' Down the House

Yesterday morning I finally succumbed to my alarm.

Nursed my daughter in bed.

Got in the shower.

Made Matt and me some eggs for breakfast. (This was around 8:30-ish am.)

Sat and ate said eggs and sipped on some coffee.

** Stick with me. I promise this isn't just a super boring, unnecessary account of my Sunday. There's a wild story here. ** 

Continued to get dressed and ready for church.

Got the children dressed and ready for church.

Dashed out the door in a frenzy to head to church. Had to snap a pic of the kids first. (This was about 10:20-ish. Church starts at 10:30. We live about 20 minutes away. Yes. We were late.)

Church was great.

Worship was fantastic, as usual.

Didn't hear much (or any) of the sermon because I was in the cry room with my adorable, little scream-talker and was catching up with my other mommy-friends.

Left church. (About 12:40)

Headed to meet up with my parents for lunch.

Enjoyed a wild lunch with an excited little boy and tons of Valentine's treats from Grandmommy and PapaJoe. (We were there for awhile.)

Drove back home. (This took about 45 minutes, but I'm only guessing that we got back home around 3-3:30ish.) 

Immediately got into comfier clothes.

Got in the bed with Lydia, hoping she'd fall back asleep. Girl was not having a moment of that business.

After being home for close to 15 minutes, Matt stuck his head in the room and told me that he'd just turned OFF one of the gas stove burners. 



I made breakfast at 8:30 that morning.

It was currently close to 4:00 or something like that. I don't even know but ohmygosh that's like 7 hours.

SEVEN hours!

It is quite the understatement to say that I spent the rest of the day thanking Jesus for His protection over us.

Of course, I'm sure stuff like this happens to people all the time. Gosh, I can't even tell you how many times I accidentally leave my hair straightener on. But this is soooooo different. I mean, open flame. And yes, we were gone from the house for so many of those hours, but do you have any clue how many times one of us or our little boy walked/rushed past that stove in the hour and a half before leaving the house? Back and forth. Back and forth.  How did one of us not notice it?  

To make matters worse and quite a bit more terrifying...let me back up to the day before.

Matt was gone most of the day on campus and I was home alone with the kids. It was a perfect-weather day. Josiah suggested a picnic in the park. (I have the best kid ever.) After throwing together a little basket of some snacks and a few toys to occupy the baby, we walked over to the park behind our house and set up camp under a shady tree, right by the beautiful, pristine water. (JK. I live in Houston, which is called the Bayou City. That water is 12 levels of nasty. And there was a snake.)

Anyway, we were having quite a lovely time together, doing our best to entertain the many other people enjoying the beautiful weather (because a circus is always entertaining it's spectators) when we smelled the unmistakable smell of smoke. Josiah insisted someone was grilling like Daddy, but as I looked around to survey the area, I noticed the house across the street from ours had smoke pouring out of it. Tons of smoke. It quickly filled the park and we packed up as quickly as possible.

See all the smoke on the right? Our house is on the left side of the street...and one house over.

Before we gathered everything and got our shoes back on, the streets were already lined with firetrucks and ambulances and police cars. We normally would've had to walk right past the house to get home, but we had to go around the block and come up the street from the other direction.

View from our driveway. See the firemen on the roof of the blue house? I was trying to be inconspicuous so I didn't get a better shot.
So. many. firetrucks.

And firemen.

And onlookers. Because, of course.

It wasn't nearly as bad as it could've been, but it was bad. They were there for a really long time until things seemed to calm down. Thankfully, it seems like no one got hurt, but you can tell from the outside of the house that there was a fire.

I still have no idea what caused the fire. But I'm becoming convinced that maybe it was a very tired, very distracted mother of two young children in a hurry to make it to the church-house on time who accidentally left the gas stove burner on...for SEVEN HOURS!

Someone get that woman some more coffee. And a vacation.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

If Only I Had More Time...

Every day I have an idea or a thought-process for a blog post. There's SO MUCH going on right now that I want to remember. Not just the details and the pictures, but also my feelings and such. But have you seen my house? (Gah, I hope not!) What would my house even look like if I took the time to actually write out everything swimming in my head? I'm just so sorry the world may never know all the deep, deep thoughts in my head.

Consider that the favor and grace of God in your life. ;)

But there's so much.

I'd love to finally be able to write out Lydia's birth experience. Well, not her experience so much as mine. Maybe someday she'll be able to articulate what she experienced that day, but for now I'll take a simple, "Mom, I'm not really hungry. Just sleepy. But I don't wanna go to sleep. Well, I do, but only if there's a certain part of your body shoved in my mouth."

I'd love to write all about the first month of her life with us and our life as a family of four. And I'd love to include all the cute/hilarious stories we've already accumulated. Like, the times when Lydia suddenly goes ballistic out of nowhere and after a few moments of me trying to figure out what could possibly be wrong, I find she's gotten a chunk of her own hair in her tightly clenched fist and is so mad (and in pain) that her fist just gets tighter when I try to uncurl it...of course, resulting in higher-pitched screams. And then her poor little scalp is bright red for half an hour. And I'm laughing at is the mother's right and privilege.

I'd love to write all about how Josiah is adjusting and all the super adorable things he says and does. I'd also love to write about how hard it is to be completely present for him in the way that he's used to us being and how I have to keep reminding myself that him having a sibling is a far, far better thing for him than having our undivided attention. And also, how hard it is to get that kid to be quiet.His whispers wake the neighbors up. And Homegirl is not a heavy sleeper. Well played, God. Well played.

I'd love to write all about how breastfeeding is going the second time around and how apparently 3.5 years makes all the difference in the world when it comes to my maturity level and laziness and selfishness. Also, I'm a fan of my independence. I've been lovingly teased before because I often use the phrase, "I just don't wanna be pinned down." Yeah...well...nursing a newborn is nothing if it isn't being pinned down...for 20 hrs of the day. Hopefully, some day I will be able to write out more of my thoughts and experiences with all this, but for now, I'll just say this... I begged the Lord...begged and pleaded like Hannah begged for a child, for breastfeeding to work out this time. And He's totally making it possible. But with great privilege comes great responsibility, right? And what a pill it's been for a selfish, lazy, independent person to swallow.

I'd love to write all about how emotional it is to be binge-watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls (perfect timing, Netflix!) while nursing my daughter. (I only watch it while nursing...and not even every time I'm nursing, but I'm already almost through the whole first season. That's a lot of being "pinned down" if ya ask me.) A show all about the various dynamics of mother-daughter relationships? While spending countless hours with my own daughter? And already in her 1 month of life, we have had quite the roller-coaster relationship. Not at all on her part...totally on mine.

I'd love to write about a great many things.

But I'll just wrap it up with this (because a little diva just woke up from her 10 minute nap and is apparently starving I come, Gilmores!):

The Lord has been so sweet. To all of us. We knew it would be a hard season for us. For Matt, with it being the beginning of the school year and the craziest, busiest time of the year. And for Josiah, with not being the only kid and the object of everyone's attention all.the.time. And for me, with recovering from major surgery and having a few other complications (see, I'd love to write about that too). And for Lydia, and being a newborn and being dependent on selfish, lazy people who still haven't become fluent in newborn. (She has it the hardest out of us all, really.)

It's been hard. But the Lord has been so sweet. And so faithful. He's provided for every little thing we've had need of. Physical. Financial. Emotional. Spiritual. You name it. He's come through.

One of the sweetest ways He's provided? The onset of intentional smiles...just when Mommy's about to throw in the proverbial towel. Because they really do make everything better. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

And Then There Were Four

Our girl is here...

Lydia Katherine

September 5, 2014, 1:12pm

8lbs., 20.75in


We really are so in love. All of us.

I want to make note of two very obvious things:

1. I'm no photographer. These are just a lame attempt on my part to get some photos of the babe that are at least a step or two above the iPhone pics I have thousands of already. But if you or anyone you know is an actual photographer and wants to come take some pics of a most precious little girl and her family for free (or for hugs and cookies)...please pass them my name and number. 

2. I have plans to post a little more about her birth and the first couple weeks of life, but as you can imagine, that task is a bit of an overwhelming one in my mind at the moment. I waited an entire year to write about Josiah's entrance into the world and I'm positive I forgot things or I remembered them differently than they actually occurred. And it's not like her birth was incredibly dramatic or was all pretty much straightforward and routine. But there are some details I want to remember and tons of pictures I want to include. So, that is all forth-coming, hopefully in the next week or so.

All in all, we're doing well...adjusting, recovering, taking our journey into the new "normal" one day at a time. Please continue to pray for us as we learn this new life and re-learn each other in these new roles.

What an adventure this life really is!