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Kate the Great's Merry Adventures! Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Kate the Great" journal:

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December 12th, 2017
10:01 am


Embracing the holiday "don'ts"
Two Sundays ago, the pastor wrapped up his sermon by reading a list he pulled from some blog about the Holiday Don'ts (and Do's). I can't do it justice or find it on the first page of a Google search ;-) but it was basically things like:
-Don't go all-out decorating. Go gawk at the neighbor's decked-out house instead.
-Don't even look at Pinterest.
-Don't worry about holiday cards.
-Don't stress about finding the perfect gifts for everybody.
-DO relax and enjoy extra family time.
-Do light some candles, turn out the lights, and read the Christmas story together.

Et cetera.

My husband appears to have taken these messages to heart. That same afternoon, he announced family movie time. He made a huge bowl of popcorn, bought Ratatouille on Amazon instant video upon realizing that among our huge collection of kids' DVDs passed along to us by my father-in-law, he kept that movie for himself because he loves it too much to part with, and we snuggled in on the couch with blankets. The kids lasted over half the movie before becoming wiggly, melting-off-the-couch messes.

But here's the really cool thing.
My husband just watched the movie.
Except for when we were dating, I don't think he has ever just sat back and watched a movie or show when at home. He always has his tablet computer propped on the arm of the chair next to him to do some work, or a pile of laundry to fold.
This time he just enjoyed his family.
And that was awesome.

Watching the movie, I noticed the head chef at the beginning is dwarf-sized. I wondered if that will be our son someday -- the short chef running the show... though hopefully more level-headed and... having integrity? He says he wants to be a policeman Ninja Turtle when he grows up, but his passion has always been cooking and food. He helps us cook for real with his miniature food-grade cooking utensils, and if he is playing, he is playing in the toy kitchen. His favorite toys are food toys. A big bag that looks like a hamburger, filled with food toys, has for the past week been his comfort object at preschool -- the one thing that finally has allowed him to be dropped off without crying and needing to be literally pried from my arms by the sweet old British woman, "Teacher Margaret." And if there are no food toys to be had? He makes-believe. It's been this way since he was first able to sit up. I have pictures of him playing with a real pan, swooshing around a real egg, pretending to cook, even before his first birthday.

Speaking of old pictures -- the kids and I looked at some old pictures of them this weekend ("old" meaning 2-3 years old) and... it was kind of weird and unsettling to notice that my son, now about 3.8 years old, has been wearing a lot of the same clothes for the past 2-3 years. And they fit him. Some of them fit him a little better than they did two or three years ago (he does grow a little bit, after all), but it was just... odd. And I know he's the size of an 18-month-old. I know that. It was just still so odd to me. He doesn't feel different in my mind because I'm used to him and he's my wonderful child.

Anyway. I digress.

Two weeks ago Monday, the day after family movie day(!), there was a huge parade downtown. 200 floats, 1.5-mile route. My Grinchy self thought, "I don't want to be cold and I'm sure my daughter will be in it someday, so I'll just go to it then," but my husband really wanted to go. Which shocked me -- I usually expect him to be the more practical one of us.

I told him of my general desire to skip out, and he said he'd tell the kids about it and leave it up to a vote. Lol! Of course the kids were excited to go!

We live near downtown, so we walked to the route and got there early, so we walked further into downtown until we stopped for ice cream at Baskin Robbins (another shocker, as Hubby is a major grinch about ice cream in general).

So yeah. It wasn't that cold, since I was standing outside eating ice cream just fine. And I was really warmed up by the family togetherness and frivolity.

The parade was pretty cool, too. There were so many horses! Including Clydesdales! Our little boy especially loved the horses.

We stayed for the first hour, until the kids were both literally begging us to take them home so they could go to bed. Ha! So the boy fell asleep in the stroller on the walk home, and our daughter fell asleep on the floor in the doorway to her room, feet sticking out into the hallway.

So both kids ended up asleep before their usual time, and I didn't have to go through our long bedtime routine (filled with stories and playful-Daddy interruptions).

All in all -- so much love around here lately.

Happy holidays! :)

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November 27th, 2017
09:43 am


The play's the thing
I made a new year's resolution to write a blog post weekly on a new blog on WordPress.

Turns out I strongly dislike WordPress.

And I don't really care for blogger-style writing, either. I took a training by Lysa TerKeurst last fall which taught about blogging, brand-building, yadda, yadda. But you know what? There are so many bloggers out there and I am just so over trying to be one of them (and I didn't get very far in the effort as my heart just isn't in it). I just want to spread joy in the everyday. Do writing that is fun for its own sake. Build an "audience" that becomes real friends. Like I used to do.

My kindergartener had her first parent-teacher conference the Friday before Thanksgiving. I had Ben go without me because I already volunteer in her class weekly and have a general idea of how things are going. I don't want us to become part of the tradition where only the mom is involved in school stuff.

The teacher reiterated -- strongly -- that our daughter should do plays. The teacher had already told me that last time I volunteered in the class. That time, my girl led calendar time in such a well-projected voice, with such joy, charisma, confidence, and appropriate additional commentary that the lead teacher couldn't retain her focus on the two students she was trying to work with at the back of the room. She kept looking up to stare at my daughter with her mouth hanging open a bit. Finally, she looked to me and mouthed, "She needs to do plays."

I told my girl what her teacher had said, and she then spent the whole weekend attempting a faux British accent (it came out an odd mix of British and Deep Southern).

Eventually, I told her, "Did you know that not all plays are done in a British accent? The actors use their own accents a lot of the time."

"Whaaaaaaaat?" she replied, eyes wide in disbelief. (Her disbelief was genuine, as she kept up the accent for a few days after that.)

So, that weekend I took her to her first play -- Elf Jr. The Musical, put on by our county office of education and performed entirely by students in grades 2-12. Oh, I wish I had a picture of my kids' faces when they heard I got tickets for just me and my daughter to go! My three-year-old son held a look of shock, horror, disbelief, his lower lip flat and his upper lip curved so his mouth looked like a tipped-over letter D. My daughter was also horrified once I explained that plays take months of practice and memorization, so we would just be watching, not performing in it.

She got over herself in a minute or two and we had a lovely mother-daughter date. She enjoyed the show and was a little annoyed by the intermission interrupting her fun.

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September 18th, 2017
10:02 am


How to lose anxiety and finally feel free indeed
I've felt bombarded by a certain message this week. I pray that I keep being reminded of it for the rest of my life.

This week, I've been reading the devotional C.S. Lewis And The Call To Create, found on the YouVersion Bible App. (I've been enjoying Lewis' essays collected in God in the Dock as my bathroom reading lately (haha!), so naturally that devotional caught my attention!)

Day Two of the devotional really shook me:

"Ever since Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden, we have been trying to cover up our sin nature, not with fig leafs, but with our accomplishments. We think that if we become a millionaire, sign a record deal, get 100,000 Instagram followers, or write a classic novel like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, then we'll be able to mask our human condition....

"But as Christians, we know that the work of salvation is complete and that brings an entirely different motivation to our work....we no longer have to use our work as a means of saving ourselves...the gospel frees us to create for the pure joy of creating."

For me, that statement is marvelously freeing. I used to write a LOT, simply for the joy of it. I enjoyed it, and my friends, readers, and readers-turned-friends enjoyed it, too. But when it comes to my long-harbored desire to join the ranks of Christian authors, I dabble and generally feel paralyzed. But I don't need to join their invisible ranks. In Genesis chapter one, the very first chapter of the Bible, we learn that God is creative and that we are created in His image. Therefore, we are inherently creative -- as little children, not yet burdened by worldly concerns, show us so abundantly. To truly honor God, I MUST write from my joyously creative soul, simply for the sake of doing so. He doesn't need me to be one of that multitude with book deals for me to be His beloved.

I heard a similar message this week from Art Thomas, who has a healing ministry. He explained that too often, we try to justify our prayer requests to God, like, "She's done this, that, and the other thing, she has good character traits x, y, and z, so please do such-and-such for her, Lord." But Jesus has already done the justifying. ALL of it. Our focus needs to be on that, on the promises to us recorded in the Bible, and on God's faithfulness -- not on a list that would justify a person to the world. Because in all stark reality, "No one is good -- except God alone" (Mark 10:18b).

"Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:22-24)

So there's no need -- not even any sense, really -- in trying to justify ourselves or anyone else by our actions before God. He knows us and He loves us anyway. It's so routine and tempting to do that most of us probably don't even notice we are doing it most of the time. But even when "All a person's ways seem pure to them...motives are weighed by the Lord" (Proverbs 16:2).

It's all about Jesus. All of it. Everything. Jesus' work of redemption and God's incredibly passionate love. It's not about anything that we can do to justify ourselves. Never.

As urged on by these lyrics that I finally listened to this week (I've been bombarded by this message, see?), from For King & Country's song "O God Forgive Us":

Run wild. To risk everything. To hold nothing back.
To lay it all on the line: your reputation, your success, your comfort.
It's that moment when fear is overcome by faith. Live free.
It's not the liberty to do whatever you want whenever and wherever you want,
But rather it's living in accordance with the author of humanity
And finding freedom by connecting with the creator who conceived you.
Let the light flood into your eyes for the first time.
Feeling the blood course through your veins, finding the truest version of yourself
By knowing the one who knows you even better than you know yourself.
Love strong. Because you were first loved. Because without love we all perish.
Because the earth and the stars can and will pass away, but love, love will always remain

"If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

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July 9th, 2017
06:20 pm


Weekend in L.A.!

In an effort to save the cost of a hotel room at the potential cost of our lives, we all piled into the car and hit the road at 4am on Friday. William had an 8am appointment at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who knows an awful lot about dwarfism and about William's particular rarer form of it (pseudoachondroplasia). Ben and I took turns driving, because The Sleepies attack with vigor on a several-hour drive at that hour. 

We got to Cedars with about half an hour to spare. As we checked in, answering questions from the receptionist rather than filling out paperwork, William sweetly announced, "This isn't my favorite doctor." I covered my mouth and we all laughed awkwardly.

"You mean this isn't your favorite doctor <i>yet</i>," said Ty the receptionist, recovering.

I loved this doctor. He informed us that the doctor we saw at UCLA in May (who referred us to this doctor) is actually the #1 expert in the world in skeletal dysplasias, so he trusted her diagnosis of pseudoachondroplasia without hesitation. Pretty awesome to have these experts so close and accessible (just a $10 copay with my awesome insurance... score!)!

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December 25th, 2016
01:44 pm


Keeping Christmas weird
Just a few things I want to remember:

On the phone with my grandma this morning...
William: Mommy, Avi pooped!
Grandma: Aww. What's that? Did he say 'I love you, too'?

Ben's dad's church was closed for Christmas.
And we had so many presents to open with such a late start that we missed the last service at the church Ben's dad was going to drop us off at. The kids were sooooo excited for church. And I am so bummed, too.

Avigail (age 4): Frickin' a.
Me: What?
Avigail: I'm so frickinated.
Me: Do you mean you're so frustrated?
HAHAHAHAHAHA I need to watch my language around her better.

Soon Ben's grandma will come over and bring her new boyfriend. :) She's 85. He's in his seventies. Ooh ooh ooh.

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November 1st, 2016
09:05 am


Morning revelations
I didn't seem to have time to maintain a steady walk with God after I had kids. The emphasis on finding "quiet time" made it seem impossible and led me to forget that God can speak to us anywhere and every moment.

But we don't need a block of twenty or thirty minutes and an in-depth scripture study and journaling time first thing every morning. For me in this season of life, getting God infused into the foundation of the day and letting Him flow from there is more effective (and helps me stay nice to my kids when they interrupt my devotional time).

The most helpful tool for me is the Bible App on my phone. I can pull up the chronological study plan I'm currently chipping away at (the Bible in chronological order, which actually breaks up Genesis to insert Job) and read it, highlight, and make my notes even as I deal with my kiddos. Or I can progress through a few verses while in the bathroom!

The important thing for me isn't the amount of scripture covered, or the length of a journal entry. It's inserting God into the beginning of my day, interrupting the onslaught of worldly and hellish things that threaten to drag me down. I envision it as sliding a piece of paper under the contents of an upside-down cup. When the cup (of my full day) is picked with the paper (God's word) underneath, the contents stay in place instead of spilling everywhere. The whispers of the Holy Spirit in my heart stay in place through my day.

The insights from the scripture reading aren't even the most important thing to remember. Today's reading was Genesis 16, where Sarai gave Abram her slave Hagar to make a baby with. There were lots of things I noticed, lots of notes I made in my Bible App.

But starting my day listening to God, or reading God's word, allowed me to hear him in the mundane drive of my kids to preschool, even with the radio on.

This morning's realization was like a switch being turned. My job last year, my first year teaching my own classroom, was an absolute mess. It really shook me up and made me want to give teaching just one more try, simply because I didn't know where else to go for a career path. This morning so many details about last year seemed to fall into place, like when a chiropractor pressing on my spine and with a little *pop* my pain goes away. (So God is a spiritual chiropractor, I guess.) Last year wasn't about me being a fundamentally poor teacher. The whole situation was wrong, as my teaching colleagues assured me last year and as they even got the principal who was responsible to admit. But logical assurances and the heart don't always align.

That healing in me this morning didn't come from the Genesis 16. It came from deciding to seek God's voice two hours earlier. It opened my spiritual eyes (or, I might say, put on my spiritual eyeglasses) to see an entirely different truth when I least expected it.

What about you? Have you put on your spiritual eyeglasses today? What is God showing you?

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October 31st, 2016
09:41 pm


Self-actualization & feeling God's pleasure
I discovered the song "Me Too" by Meghan Trainor today and it's launched me back into eras of great self-actualization. ("If I was you, I'd want to be me, too!" is the refrain.)

Obviously, college, which miiiiiiiight be the highlight of my entire life. WOW was college awesome!

Before that, high school! I'm surprised, reflecting on it, because I was deeply depressed much of the time, but what tied it all together was writing. I spent so much of my free time writing on this very LiveJournal and fanfiction as well as toying with original works of fiction and plenty "dissertation-length emails" thrown in.

The most striking thing about time after college has been postpartum depression, but it's getting brighter with my new job, which feels like a calling fulfilled, but I still need to push my writing more. I pledged to myself to write every day, which I haven't lived up to, but I did buy myself a birthday present of a subscription to Compel, a writing training program run by Proverbs 31 Ministries. It's only been two weeks and I feel so empowered and inspired already. I need to dive into their community; so far I've been listening to their recommended series of podcasts on my walks to/from work. My eyes are being opened in a good way!

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October 28th, 2016
10:13 am


"So cute!" "So little!" -pumpkin patch
On Tuesday I took William on his preschool's field trip to the pumpkin patch. Big Sister tagged along. This picture pretty much sums up the outing:

As we loaded up ourselves in the car to go to our respective preschools, Avi kept saying as casually as possible, "I love pumpkin patches." So I caught the hint and called ahead to William's preschool to verify that there was room for her to tag along. :)

Avi had an awesome time for most of it -- the hay ride, the pumpkins so big that Mommy had to carry them (basketball-size!). We also went through the corn maze, which was arduous, particularly for me as I had to carry William to prevent him from falling a million times and us getting left behind to be lost in the maze.

The most notable thing about the event for me, though, was that it was the first time I saw firsthand on a large-group scale what people's reactions to William are.

William's preschool has two locations, and both were at the field trip. A couple teachers from the other school saw him standing there, looking perhaps even smaller as he clung to his little "teddy bear" (little black bear toy), while I tried to convince him to wear his special field trip t-shirt (which he ultimately never did).

"Oh, he's from the other preschool! He's two already?" (Their minimum age.)
"Two and a half!" I said proudly, opting not to label him.
"Wow! He's so little! He's so cute!"

Later, another parent came up and said hi to William. She turned to me and said how much she loves William, and that she talks to William every time she picks up her own child. I don't know if that's related because he's a sweetie and a lot of people I've already come across think he's so wonderful. But I know he gets a lot more attention because he is so small but talks so well in his cute little voice.)

William introduced me to his best friend Maddox ("Maddox is so funny!"). I told Maddox how much William likes him and talks about him. Maddox, a full head taller than William, just smiled and patted William on the head.

They're little things, and these observations don't capture the essence of the attention he got at the pumpkin patch. His dwarfism isn't obvious yet, but it will be soon as the height difference between him and his peers continues to grow and as his slow, uneven growth makes his different proportions more plain to a casual observer. He's gotten attention for his small size for at least a year now, but now that I know that his small stature is permanent and I'm learning more about what life is like for people with dwarfism as they grow up, I'm noticing more and they are leaving a greater mark in my mind.

Like when he was playing at the bounce house at church recently and the mother of an obviously much younger child told her, "Watch out for the baby." I'm starting to really pray for resilience for my boy. I know this "baby" stuff will continue for a loooooong time and when he no longer likes to be a baby his feelings will get hurt. :(

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September 8th, 2016
09:54 am


Whirlwind! and a diagnosis
It's been a busy time! Last week all the teachers at my independent study school were given a vacation week, and I enjoy going to work there so much that I signed up for the "skeleton crew." It seems that very few students heard that we were technically "closed" that week, so I was swamped. Toward the end of the week I was actually praying for students to not show up -- a prayer that I felt got answered, even though the incredulous tutor working there on Friday said, "This is light? You literally have a LINE of five students standing here waiting for you!"

I am still recovering.
At least they paid me double. So we are buying a couch. (In our new-to-us, bigger house, Hubby Ben noted, "It looks like somebody broke in and stole our couch.")

I didn't know when I signed up that my daughter would be having a vacation week from preschool, or that my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and baby nephew would be visiting that week. But my days were short and I got plenty of visiting time, and plenty of distraction from my weighing concerns about my little boy.

On Saturday, in a lull of activity after we all went to the farmer's market (where we do most of our grocery shopping -- we probably would have moved here years ago had we known about that farmer's market), I zipped over to check out a Working Moms Club at my church. They meet two Saturdays each month and there were only three of us moms there this time. My kids wanted to come (but were confused that they were at church but not doing church stuff), and the other two moms each brought a two-and-a-half year old son.

Which was super cool, to have playmates exactly my son's age.
But also... it really shook me up. Because I knew he was small, but I thought he was catching up with motor skills.

But next to his peers (including one who is a month younger), my boy looks TINY and is so far behind in how the other boys can play that he actually seems disabled.

Comparison. is. horrible.
He is my son and God made him just right.

First thing Tuesday morning, I took him to an appointment with a new pediatrician. I'd met this pediatrician once before for a checkup with my daughter and had mixed feeling about him, mostly because he talked superfast.

But not today. He spent a whole hour with us, leaning forward as he carefully reviewed William's medical history. He'd obviously spent time carefully reviewing his medical records because he knew William's medical history even better than I did! A third-year medical student trainee stood quietly in the corner, observing. He kept telling me with an assuring confidence that he will figure it out (so unlike our last pediatrician).

He examined William, measured him, then toward the end of the exam, had him strip down to his diaper (much to William's distress, as he was wearing his favorite outfit), and walk out of the room and down the hallway to get a sucker from a bucket of lollipops.

Then, back in the exam room, the doctor did a good job of telling me that he believes William has something called achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. He admitted that he doesn't know too much about it yet, but he is researching it now, but that the geneticist will be able to confirm that diagnosis and tell us more details. There are over 100 varieties of achondroplasia, so the geneticist will be able to tell us exactly what he has and give us more details. He also pledged to be a good pediatrician for him, saying that he cares for a lot of children with special needs.

He's also referring us to an endocrinologist just to cover all the bases and make sure William's growth hormones are okay. We have a follow-up appointment for mid-October.

I actually feel so relieved. It's been a year and a half of hearing everything from "feed him more" to "he has a brain tumor" and this is finally an answer that makes sense. This pediatrician is encouraged that his gross motor skills and muscle strength are developing, not growing weaker, as that would be a sign of something much worse. He's expected to have a normal lifespan and be okay. "He just is who he is and that's just fine!" the pediatrician concluded, directing the comment more to William directly.

I am so, so relieved.

My friend Amanda from my former moms club gave me great advice as I was stressing: "Celebrate what he CAN do and just focus on that."
And he gives me so much to celebrate. :) My wonderful little boy.

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August 26th, 2016
10:01 am


Agh. I lay awake, randomly, for about three hours the night before last... and then last night I stayed up late on the internet.

I had already promised to myself that I would no longer linger before bedtime scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook news feed. So I found other even worse uses of time!

First, I found a student of mine on Facebook and almost sent her a message (which is allowed), but chose not to because she said she will be coming back in to school today (yesterday I escorted her to the counselor and then she left directly from there, without turning in the homework she had been holding in her hand or signing her attendance log). She doesn't have a phone to contact her by and I doubt she has internet access. Her profile picture was from over a year ago.

Then I did the bad thing! I used Dr. Google to feed my concerns about my son. I've been trying for weeks now to get his medical records transferred to the pediatrician we've connected with in our new town -- what should be a simple process -- and the doctor finally told me to just make an appointment and if the records still aren't in, he will call and get all the info he needs over the phone. My boy was having oodles of tests done before we moved and we want to follow up on them. Because something is up.

The thing is, he's not growing. He's 2 1/2 now, and he's only grown one inch since his first birthday. No allergies, no blood abnormalities, no brain tumors.

Then on Wednesday, the woman who is starting to come to our house to work with him for his gross motor development said something that echoed what we've been starting to wonder.

"He's... disproportioned," she said gently, conversationally, questioningly, as we discussed his medical history and growth problems. "His head is too large for his body, his arms are short but he has big hands. Have you thought... maybe, dwarf?"

I'd already been starting to wonder about that, occasionally opening a "private" window in my browser to shyly research little people. My son doesn't look exactly like my dwarf friend from elementary school, but it turns out there is such a variety.

And in my searching last night, I saw a picture of a boy -- at first my drowsy self thought it was a picture of my son that somehow got mixed in to the search. It turns out it was a seven-year-old boy, but his proportions were exactly like my little man.

I don't know. I shouldn't feel distressed. It's on my mind even more now that I have an appointment, and I will have such a hard time waiting for it -- September 6th. And I don't know if this pediatrician will know anything about it, either. It's very, very rare -- more rare than deafness.

But I know that even if he is a "little person" into adulthood, he will have a normal lifespan and a pretty normal life -- just self-esteem issues and whatnot I will need to be aware of. And I'll contact my old aforementioned friend over Facebook, if that's his diagnosis, to get advice from someone who has lived it. There are so many worse things that could happen than just a difference in stature. He is so smart -- says all who meet him -- that I know he'll have a great life regardless. I know we'll raise him well to make use of all the gifts he has.

I just want to know what's going on with my boy. (And when I'm under-rested I quickly get emotional.)

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