Heaps Of Grace {What We Need}

noun  \ ˈgrās \

disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
a temporary exemption reprieve


Tipping Scales

Everyone is busy. I know that. The list of things that go on the calendar grows as the family does and we’ve actually learned to be mindful of how many things we do. Every Season has a sport. We do one. Not one for each kid but one. Age groups mean more than one team but that is perfectly acceptable. There are school things, church things and community events. Just now we have two appointments a week for the new kid on the block. Twice a month we work the food pantry and there are Wednesday night Bible study’s and two Sunday services to attend. Birthday parties rarely get attended. We hang out with friends as a family once every few months. Date nights happen about once a month.

I miss a lot of church activities. If one kid is sick we all stay in. If hubby works late (no shade people just facts) sometimes I opt-out of activities if it means it’ll be me and five or six kiddos depending on what day of the week it is. I consider everyone’s moods- including my own. I consider who is tired, who is whiny, how many meltdowns we’ve had since we walked in the door, who hasn’t finished homework, how many appointments we have that day or practices and how many showers are needed before bedtime. Every day these sorts of things go on a set of scales in my minds eye and sometimes the Stay Home Side wins and sometimes the Go Out Side wins but its a war for some semblance of balance. Sometimes it is all me who needs a break although I don’t recall the last time we all stayed in for that reason. It does happen sometimes though, I m sure of it. She said, unapologetically.

There is a quiet and sometimes not so quiet disappointed bunch of people in our lives. God bless them. I know that they mean well. They want the best for our family. Truth be told, I don’t want them to stop asking us to things or to stop giving us a little jab when we miss something. Sometimes we do need a little push. Sometimes you just gotta get out and be with other people no matter how many times someone looks sideways at my kid not behaving or my impatience clearly worn on my sleeve. We need the fellowship and a little grace. Nope. I take that back- we need heaps of grace. Heaps. Of. Grace.

I don’t think most jabs need a lot of words from me. They just don’t know. They are not up in the night because of night terrors or coughing fits meant to make kid throw-up so said kid can get care that we are already giving but they are not feeling or believing in. They don’t know what we know about our kiddos lives before us or even the really difficult, medicated and painful start for our bio kids lives. They don’t deal with the weight of all these little hearts and minds on shoulders. As much as they love or enjoy our family it’s not their job to get these guys fed, hydrated, enough sleep, blood sugars balanced and pockets filled with tools to help them navigate life that is hard for them. I’m reminding myself that they just don’t know and that is okay. Say what they like- if I know, if I understand that then I can be okay with their disappointment. And that is one of my hurts from childhood so yeah just another perk of this life we’ve chosen, “more healing for this mama’s wounded heart, yaaaay”.  Everything there in quotes said like Kristen Wiig when she is feigning joy.


Self-care – Wikipedia

Selfcare includes all health decisions people (as individuals or consumers) make for themselves and their families to ensure they are physically and mentally fit.


Tick Tock (Dang it!)

On most weekdays I drop most of the kids off at school in the morning. It is home to clean and have a little one on one time with the youngest (it is too cold these days for a morning walk). An errand or two and then she is off to school just before lunch. Immediately after I make a stop for one of our kids at another school- every school day. After that I run home and meet hubby for lunch, if its that kinda day. Sometimes my niece is at the house so we hang out. Sometimes I grab a walk. Sometimes I run an errand or two or three. Mostly I am keenly aware of the ticking of the clock. No extra errands will get me home at 12:20 leaving me with two hours until school pick-ups begin again. Five or six kids spread out over three schools- it’s a tiny town so not as bad as it sounds. Home, snacks and homework and the wheels turn until bedtime.

Suddenly I am ever so keenly aware that there is ONE WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS BREAK which means THREE FULL WEEKS WITH ALL THE KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL. Not as big a deal as the all caps might suggest, but almost. It is time though to do some prep-care for myself. It is time to fill my pockets with grace and a plan that I can fall back on when things get tough. I will utilize my favorite three self-care tools in ruthless and determined preparation- I make that promise to myself right now. As soon as I get the chance I will walk ten miles and pray and sing out loud and maybe cry. I haven’t been on the trail in a week, yep. But school breaks mean I get short walks with all the kids which is a different kind of beautiful blessing which I am thankful for – an adjustment to one of my tools for the care of all of us.

Yesterday I found myself battling my own to-do list. Not the kind of list that one writes down but the kind of list that always exists hanging above one’s head. A list of expectations unrealistic and weighty. I’d been home for 30 minutes or so. It had been a full morning of laundry and straightening of hair (yeah I don’t usually but it has proved to be the only way to wear my hair down in this climate). It was Walmart for groceries, the preschooler’s lunch made, dressed in layers, washed and hair brushed (wait no not that one) and off to school. I stopped at brothers school and then had a talk with his principal because it had been that kinda day.

I’d made it home, unloaded the groceries, a bit more laundry (N-E-V-E-R E-N-D-I-N-G -said in a scary prolonged whisper). As I put the groceries away I consider cleaning out the fridge. While I spray the door knobs with disinfectant (because someone is sick) I consider freeing the white wall of all the grubby little hand prints and smears of -oh gosh- I don’t know what. While I walk from one room to another, picking up little bits of tissue (??) from the floors I consider sweeping and while I use the restroom I seriously consider scrubbing the toilets. Even as I fill the kettle for my tea I consider emptying the dishwasher but Oh Lord, there is always going to be something to do. I clean. The kids have chores. But Seven and sometimes 8 people live here. On this particular day I choose self-care instead of anything from that list always hanging above my head.

I just needed to quickly remove all the toys from my line of sight (tossing them beneath the coffee table for the win). I  ignore the grass on the wood floors that the dogs have brought in. I turned the Christmas tree lights on and lit my pretty smelling candle, brewed that cup of really lovely tea and blew the dust off of my pretty tray. My knitting, the TV remote and my tea arranged just so on the pretty green and white tray within reaching distance. Feet up, legs covered and cozy beneath afghan and now I am left with 1 hour and 15 minutes (because I stopped to make a note of my thoughts in my phone). It is  just about enough time for an entire episode of the Crown Season 2. Episode 1 on Netflix. Woo Hoo.


I feel like I need to say it: I don’t just get time to myself. I have to make a conscious effort to make that time and then to use it well. Yesterday it was ignoring the mess and having some time to veg and knit and recharge. Today I have a plan to play basketball with the kiddos. Fresh air and repetitive movements good for every-single-one-of-us. Tomorrow I might get to take that walk because you know if there is even-the-slightest chance I am going to take it no matter how tired I am. Or a nap, Oh Lord wouldn’t that be nice? What are your fave ways to care for you? My top three self-care tool are –like duh– but I’ll tell you anyhow:

1. Getting enough sleep.
2. A long walk in the fresh air.
3. Healthy food which is not at all what I crave but we gotta do what we gotta do.

Favorite Resource Of The Week

How To Handle Overstimulation During The Holidays
The Honestly Adoption Podcast- Season 8, Episode 69
Seriously. So. Good. In our house right now we have one very active, high energy sensory seeking kid and one (easily overwhelmed) sensory avoiding kid. The other kids fall somewhere in the middle of both sides of the pendulum. This weeks podcast was super helpful in reminding me what some of my kids will need this holiday season and gave lots of tips on how to do what I️ need to do to keep everyone regulated and cared for. Last weeks was good too!

Favorite Knitting Of The Week

This week I am knitting a baby prezzie for a friend- a favorite designer and pattern for sure. I am way behind and baby is coming soon so I’d best get off this computer and get back to knitting- after I feed the kiddos lunch I suppose. Take care of you first mama and dad and caretakers of all kinds really.

Fave Slightly-Sarcastic-But-Absolutely-Relevant Self-Care Tip

✈️ When the air masks fall as the airplane plummets be sure to put your mask on first- you know, so you’re awake and alert to put the mask on the loves that you care for. 👊🏼




Wee Heart Christmas Ornament -a free pattern-

Since Hubby and I were married it has been our tradition to buy a new Christmas ornament every Christmas Season. We have continued that tradition with every new baby birthed to us, foster kiddos living with us and now with our adopted one. Our collection has grown and is very eclectic (just like us)!! But this year I wanted to make our ornaments rather than purchase them.

So in honor of one finalized adoption this year and another set to finalize in the the Spring of 2018 I made these wee heart Christmas Ornaments for each of us. You know, because Love Makes A Family. ❤️💙💙💗💗💗❤️

I tried several variations but the one I liked most is written out for you here, a gift of sorts. Merry Christmas and Happiest of Holidays to you!!

Opal sock yarn or any fingering weight yarn. These 15 gram balls gave me 5 wee hearts!

Size 0-1 US (2.0 MM -2.5 MM) Set of DPNs

darning needle
Stitch marker or progress keeper
Ribbon (optional)

I prefer a lightweight progress keeper after a few rounds rather than a stitch maker but either works just fine for telling one where the start is.

P Purl
M1 Make 1 increase knit into the bar between stitches (Make 1 explanations here).
Knit in the front and back of the same stitch
Sl1 Slip 1 stitch
SSK Slip Slip Knit
K2tog Knit 2 together
St(s) Stitch(es)
DPN(s) Double pointed needles

Filling Your choice of filling
Suggestions: Poly-fil, yarn scraps, fabric cutting or felt scraps. I used acrylic yarn scraps that I had from a crochet blanket I made last year.

The Pattern

Body Of Heart
Part A

Cast On 4 and divide over two needles.
Row 1: K all (4 sts)
Row 2: Kfb, Kfb (8sts)
Row 3: K all
Row 4: K1, M1, K to the last stitch, M1, K1- needle 2: K1, M1, K to the last stitch, M1, K1
Row 6: K all (12 sts)
Repeat Row 5 and 6 until you have 44 total stitches and spread them over four needles.
Note: When the knitting gets tight or uncomfortable on my hands I added another two needles dividing the stitches evenly across four needles.

Top Of The Heart (Left Side)
Part B
Row 1: K1, M1, K9 (right front needle)
Row 2: K9, M1, K1 (left front needle)
Row 3: K1, M1, K9 (left back needle)

Turn your work
Row 4: Purl all (22 sts)
note: Now you will be working on the two left-hand needles only.

Turn your work
Row 5: Sl1, SSK, K5, K2tog, M1, K1 (10 sts)
Row 6: K1, M1, SSK, K5, K2tog,K1 (10 sts)

Turn your work
Row 4: Purl all (20 sts)

Turn your work
Row 7: Sl1, SSK, K4, K2tog, M1, K1 (9 sts)
Row 8: K1, M1, SSK, K4, K2tog, K1 (9sts)

Continue in this manner until front and back left needles have 8 stitches each- then go to Part D for the right top of heart or for continued instructions for the body continue with Part C.

Part C
Turn your work
Row 4: Purl all (18 sts)

Turn your work
Row 7: Sl1, SSK, K4, K2tog, M1, K1 (8 sts)
Row 8: K1, M1, SSK, K4, K2tog, K1 (8sts)
Turn your work
Row 4: Purl all (16 sts)

Part D
Holding both left hand side needles together Kitchener stitch the left hand side top of your heart closed -doing your set up in reverse since yarn is at the front rather than the back – I am calling this the Backwards Kitchener Stitch because I couldn’t find a tutorial for it. If you know what it is please feel free to comment or leave a link in the comments. 😉

Reverse Set Up
– So rather than the set up starting in front when doing kitchener stitch-
1. Insert darning needle as if to knit on the first stitch on the back needle and pull yarn through leaving that stitch on the needle.
2. Insert darning needle as if to purl into the first stitch on the front needle and pull yarn through leaving that stitch on the needle.

Backwards Kitchener Stitch

1. Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl and pull the yarn through letting that stitch fall off the needle- pull snug.
2. Insert darning needle into the next stitch on the back needle as if to knit and pull yarn through leaving that stitch on the needle.
3. Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit and pull the yarn through letting that stitch fall off the needle- pull snug.
4. Insert darning needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl and pull yarn through leaving that stitch on the needle.

Continue until all stitches are off needles and sew the end into the top of the heart and weave ends into the inside of the heart.

Top Of The Heart (Right Side)
Part E
Turn your heart around and begin on the inside of the back needle.
Row 1: Purl all (22 sts)
note: Now you will be working on the two right-hand needles only.

Turn your work
Row 2: Sl1, SSK, K5, K2tog, M1, K1 (10 sts)
Row 3: K1, M1, SSK, K5, K2tog, K1 (10 sts)

Turn your work
Row 4: Purl all (20 sts)

Turn your work
Row 5: Sl1, SSK, K4, K2tog, M1, K1 (9 sts)
Row 6: K1, M1, SSK, K4, K2tog, K1 (9 sts)

Turn your work
Row 7: Purl all (18 sts)

Turn your work
Row 8: Sl1, SSK, K3, K2tog, M1, K1 (8 sts)
Row 9: K1, M1, SSK, K3, K2tog, K1 (8 sts)

Turn your work
Row 4: Purl all (16 sts)

Backwards Kitchener Stitch these stitches together (see Part D)

Fill your heart and sew it up closed with an invisible seem.

To finish:
With a crochet hook make a chain
pull the yarn through the middle top of the heart and tie a knot
cut the yarn and weave the remaining yarn in to make a loop to hang your ornament.
You could also use pretty ribbon to hang your ornament!

Feel free to use this pattern as much as you like but please be kind enough to link your projects here. Thank you!


Run-ins And Open Hearts

There is a trail that I walk most days. It is not a difficult trail but on it I can see the horizon in all directions, the open skies all around me refreshing whether or not those skies are blue or gray. Nature and open spaces have always made my heart happy and this trail never fails me. I’ve found that a good walk where I can 1. Be alone (which of course does not happen often) 2. Pray out-loud if I want to and 3. Break a sweat REALLY helps me manage stress. It took ages for me to realize that super late nights binge watching Netflix and drinking red wine and eating chocolate from a secret stash doesn’t really help me at all with my stress levels and in fact leaves me tired and unhealthy and so increases my stress. No judgment if that works for you though!

One day this Fall while I walked that trail I had a run-in with a runner (see what I did there?) that revealed something to myself about fear and growth. On this day I had the preschooler with me, which means that I was pushing the stroller, not my favorite thing but I think it helps my arms get a workout so yeah, there is that so yay. I didn’t know that he was on the trail with me. I had seen two other people out there with me that day.  Mental notes were made: I am not alone, one black shirt there, one gray shirt there. Check and check and I walk on determined to sweat.

The sound that the wheels of the stroller made were the loudest. Tiny stones pushed aside by the turning wheels leaving two lines to show just where we’ve been.
The sound of the toddler and my music from my phone because I guess I took my ear buds into the house? On this day the air is heavy with the promised afternoon rains. I’m praying just above a whisper for the team that we are taking from our church to Asia this Summer ((Yay!!)). I am Praying for myself and for my Husband, for our hearts. I am asking Father for wisdom and courage. 

The four-year old is singing songs from the Trolls movie. The wheels are turning and the stones are being pushed aside. The gray sky hangs all around me. I am focused on my prayers. Then, he flies past me, the runner that I did not know was on the trail with me. His feet beat at the tiny stones hard and the sound startles me as he passes. So much so that I cry out like a frightened old lady,   “Ohhhhhhh!!” This of course startles him (poor fellow) and I hear him, “Oh!!” and after a moment to gather our respective whits we both call out an apology. His, less mortified than mine, I am sure. I’m so embarrassed.

As he runs on his way and I push the stroller ahead of me I continue to pray but I keep an ear open and an eye out for him. I don’t want to be startled again. So I am praying as I walk and listening to my girl sing her songs and ask her questions and feeling the stones move as we go but I am keenly aware of e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e else on the trail now- especially the runner. After another half mile on the trail I know that he is coming back around soon and so I keep looking back. Checking.

The runners second pass goes without a hitch. I was aware of him coming up the trail behind me. The third time he passes the breeze has gone away and the sun is hot on my skin and I have lost myself again in my own thoughts and this pass does give me a little start. Not enough for any embarrassing yelps but Just enough to get me thinking about fear. About how I work hard at knowing what to expect because I struggle with the unknown. I struggle with fear, I always have. I am remembering something that I heard recently though and I am connecting dots on the pretty tiny stones all along my path.

The week before at Bible study Pastor Mike had asked if we were reactionary or proactive in our walk with Christ. Honestly, I think that I am both. Sometimes when the unexpected things fly past me I react and panic and fly off of handles. Other times I am prayerful, strong and full of hope and wisdom. I’m growing, really I am but growth takes time. I am thinking that the unexpected will come by on this trail I walk: as a follower of Christ, as a wife and mom of three bio kids, one adopted wee one and one soon-to-be adopted big kid. I might cry out in fright or I might be ready for it (enough not to freak out). Either way I can keep on walking and make the choice to not let being afraid or embarrassed throw me off the trail.

These days the unexpected things flying past me that make me catch my breath are many. When my oldest tells us about getting bullied or when the son we are just beginning to know struggles. I hear the startling footfall on the stones around me at the thought of leaving my 8 year old at a birthday party without me or taking my first team to Asia. Everyday bringing its own surprises. My careful planning and the unexpected promise to mingle beneath the gray skies all around me.

Here is the thing though. I walk that trail almost everyday (and I really have to fight to get out there) because I know that it is good for me. I need it. It is to take care of my heart and the body, the body that God entrusted to me (and I’ve been total crap at taking care of it most of my life so yeah). I don’t like to sweat. I hate that the older I get the harder it is to do it. I don’t like the feeling of the extra pounds when I try to jog. I don’t enjoy the pain of exercise at all. I do love how I am and feel after. It is good to get my blood pumping and the my body moving. No matter the discomfort and the pain it is good and helps me to manage stress. It is also obedience to care for this body and heart. It is here where the stones start to take another shape…

Hubby and me, we have struggled in isolation for a time. Sometimes it is just how things are when you move city so often. It can be difficult to let people in, to trust people enough to really know you and to take the time to really get to know them. It can become what you do by default. We craved fellowship but we let it fall to the bottom of our list of priorities. Babies, work, moving and starting again – the basics was all we could handle. We clung to each other which was good but we also needed community and we knew that we did.  We prayed for strength and wisdom to change and grow and at some point in life that change came. Something planted, watered, sun and time and growth. Walking with Jesus transforms.

These days we live with open doors. It doesn’t come natural for us but our capacity to love others, to let people in and to live in our community has expanded greatly but it has taken time. Nine years ago it would have been a solid no from me. Let me keep my babies safe here in our little home. Seven years ago it would have given me a stress rash, wait I can’t control the new. Four years ago it would have only been babies, I know how to handle babies, and this year it is ten-year old boys and college students and church people. I’ve thrown my hands up in defeat and danced in the freedom of it. Our hands coming unclenched, hearts softening, minds changing and room was made for others…

Honestly, opening our doors and hearts to others is hard for me. Sometimes I just don’t want to do it because a closed home is less complicated, safer, quieter and easier. I’ve prayed for Father’s heart for ages and man oh man did He deliver. Obeying Father’s call to care for the vulnerable IS to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. An open home (full of Joy a friend said recently) is a surefire way to discover Father’s heart yourself and for the whole world!

The unexpected flying past me on this trail of life (yeah I did that) may frighten me. It may give me a start and make me catch my breath but the unexpected will be found beneath the footfall of obedient feet, willing hands and open hearts and by the grace of our Good Father, I am down. How about you?