How To Be A Parent 

Not too long ago I found myself back in my counselor’s office basically weeping over being a parent. I found myself paralyzed in fear over parenting Wyatt. Like, I could not do it because I was terrified of messing it up. Really of messing HIM up. And I can’t mess up a kid who already has a messed up beginning, right!? The pressure! My God! After a couple of weeks, my counselor looked at me and said: “Where is the Courtney I met all those years ago? The one who did not give a shit about what other people did or said? Where did she go?” And I was like: Dang it. You are right, sister. She got lost. I lost her! I lost her in all of the stupid crap out there that tells you how to be a parent. 

And so I spent the next few months trying to find and get that girl back. And good news! SHE’S BACK. And she don’t give two shits. (JK but not really) 

So this is for all of us who got lost in the parenting books and studies and classes and what everyone else is saying and doing. This is for all of us who found ourselves again. Because being a parent is hard enough without all the extra noise out there telling you how to be a parent to the kid only you know best. Let’s do this. 

How to be a parent in like almost 20 steps:

Do not give your baby formula under any circumstances. It causes brain damage. Breast is always, always best. Unless that isn’t an option, then formula is great. Drink up! But beware, giving your child the nutrients they need is being a good parent that can also kill your child. 

Do not ever put your child down. You should wear them at all times. This is nurturing the bond between you two and increases their felt safety. You should put your child down because this helps them learn to crawl and walk and do things on their own which will increase independence and it will be the downfall of your attachment with them. Baby wear until middle school.  

You should come up with a routine and stick with it always. But don’t do that because then you will never be able to do anything ever again and will feel like you might die. Schedules are very important for children that should be kept exactly always and never. 

Do not leave your child in a room by themselves to fall asleep. Unless you want to let them learn to self soothe which is a great coping skill that also makes children feel abandoned and like they are going to be eaten by Voldemort. 

Don’t spank. Ever. Under any circumstances. Unless you believe in discipline that produces drug addicts. Because that’s what spanking does. It makes your child more likely to do drugs. 

Do not put your child in time out. It is scientifically proven to be ineffective and damaging to your child’s brain and heart. You will actually destroy your child as a human being if you place them in time out. 

Always speak to your children like Mother Theresa would. Do not raise your voice ever. Raising your voice causes your child to undergo unnecessary trauma. And trauma quite literally changes the shape of your child’s brain. 

You should be aware of your parenting triggers before you become a parent. Is it crying? Whining? Being completely sleep deprived? Maybe all of the above? Again, you should know these before having children. Do not give in to your triggers. Keep your cool always. Do not get frustrated. Losing your cool will guarantee a lifetime of counseling for your child. It will also give them the same triggers you have when they have their own children. Relax!  

Always give your child 13 bajillion choices. Any more than 13 bajillion and you are encouraging entitlement. Any less than 13 bajillion and you’re just being plain neglectful.  

Do not avert your eyes from your child at any time during the day. Averting your eyes from your child causes your child to have a shorter attention span. If you do have the balls to let your eyes wander from your jewel, well done, you have just given your child ADHD. 

When your child is throwing a tantrum do not show any signs of anything on your face. Always remain neutral. If you laugh that gives them a positive reaction and they will continue to throw down. If you show frustration that gives them a negative reaction which makes their brain go into flight or fight mode. Leave them alone. Stay with them. Let them throw the tantrum and ignore them. Put them in a safe place and let them work it out. Contain them with your arms, rocking back and forth and whispering words of love in their ears. 

Your child should watch tv anywhere from no minutes a day up to 3 hours. It’s best for their brains if they see no electronic screen until 5 years of age. 1 hour of tv a day starting at age 2 is good for your child which also causes shorter attention spans, hyperactivity and makes your child’s brain smaller. 30 minutes of tv is best starting at age 1. 

When playing with your child always let them lead. Your child is in charge and should make all play related decisions. Do not ever decline an invitation to play. Unless you want them to learn how to play independently which is a developmental milestone that also causes aggression in children. 

Do not do things for your child if they are able to do it themselves. They will never be able to grow into functioning adults. Continue to do everything for your child. They need you and this is nurturing for your child’s relationship with you. If you want your child to be able to be in a healthy relationship in the future you should continue doing everything always and never for your child. 

Do not ever say No to your child. You should always say Yes. Unless you can’t for safety reasons say Yes then you should come up with a creative way to not say No. You should tell your child No sometimes. This helps them understand rules and boundaries. Do not negotiate with your child. Communicate to them who is the boss. 

Do not use sticker charts as a way to reward your child. Don’t reward your child for anything. This causes entitlement and you can expect your child to live with you forever. 

Sometimes you will need to go with your gut. You will need to make in the moment decisions with and for your child. You should always prepare for these situations even if you do not know what they will ever be. Every single moment is a teachable one that will make or break your attachment with your child. Do not mess up. Feel confident in yourself! 

Don’t ever wake your child up. Unless they are napping and you want them to sleep at night. A child should nap between 1.5-3 hours daily. There should be exactly 5 hours in between the morning wake up, nap, and bedtime. Do not make your child go to sleep. They will tell you when and if they are tired.

You should cherish every moment of parenting. Parenting your children is a grace that you should also not feel pressured to enjoy every moment because that’s ludicrous. Enjoy every single moment always and sometimes. 

Easy enough, right!? Go forth. You’ve TOTALLY got this. 

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On Adoption & One Year Home

In January it was one full year since Wyatt joined our family stateside. He is such a joy. Truly. Adoption is such a blessing and something I daily am so thankful we chose. I’ve been reflecting a lot over the past few months about the first year home. How much Wyatt has grown and changed and healed. How much Dustin and I have grown and changed and in a lot of ways healed, too. 

People ask us all the time what adoption is really like and a lot of times I just don’t have a very good answer.It’s so overwhelming. It’s so awesome. It’s so hard. Your child is a stranger to you. You are a stranger to your child. There are so.many.things that go down the first year home. So I thought I’d take a minute to answer that question from the lense of surviving the first year home. Because really looking back that’s what it felt like. Survival. Until one day it didn’t.

Obviously this is our experience and not everyone you’ve ever known who has adopted. (18 month old. International. No special needs. No other kids in the home.) Please laugh with me. I snorted laughter while writing this. Sometimes laughter is just the only way.

We had read all the books. We had taken all the classes. We had talked to all the people. We had waited all the months. We were so ready. We felt so prepared. It’s so funny to look back on. Really. Because we knew nothing.

The first six months of our existence with Wyatt had us looking something like this:

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He is so cute! And he cries all the time! He never sleeps! Never! His laugh is the best! He wants to be held all time! Aw! No seriously he never wants to be put down! He won’t eat anything! Not one thing! OMG he won’t stop eating! He’s throwing up! He’s gagging! He’s choking! I feel so stressed! He hits! He’s learning to play! He’s learning to walk! This is the best! The parasite poop! It’s everywhere! All the time! He won’t stop screaming! I don’t know what he wants! He never sleeps! I feel so confused! And tired! I think he hates me! He’s so cute! He won’t stop screaming! But really he literally never wants to be put down! I want to put him down! He’s scared of everything! The tantrums! Over everything! My God! What have we done! I love him! I’m not sure I like him yet! I want to cry all the time! I want to laugh all the time! I feel so confused!

And then the outside world welcomes you home and they have no idea. Not the one. And you don’t really know either. This is exactly your first rodeo. And so everyone just circles up and tries their best. But nobody really knows what is going down on the inside of your home. No one. But you. And your walls. And the pillow you sometimes cry into and other times scream into. 

And so when people start saying things like, “Aren’t you SO GLAD you missed the newborn no sleeping phase? LOL.” You find yourself physically unable to not make this face: 

I’m sorry, you want to say. Have I done something to you that makes you hate me? You see we have done a lot of things since becoming parents and sleep isn’t even on any of the lists. Not one of them. 

The first five weeks Wyatt was in my care he never slept more than two consecutive hours. TWO. I flew solo with him from Uganda to TN and straight fell asleep on one of my flights with him sitting wide awake on my lap. Like, I was out cold and drooling. Still to this day I have no idea how I fell asleep or for how long I was asleep or if my child got up and walked around while I was asleep. Not one idea. Once we were home it improved. And by that I mean he was sleeping like 3 hours at a time. So, no, we were not like SO GLAD we missed the newborn no sleeping phase. Like, settle down with your LOL. 

And then you’ve been off the plane for approximately 72 hours and the good people start asking things like:

“So what’s your daily schedule like?”

“What’s Wyatt’s nap schedule?”

“You’re not making him nap? You know it’s really important for babies to nap, right?”

And your response is to look back at them like this:

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Again, you are physically unable to make your face look any different. I don’t know how to help you with this. Because hi, I just switched CONTINENTS WITH A BABY. Did you know that day time in America is night time in Uganda? Like seriously did you know that? So what’s our daily schedule right now? To stay awake during the day. It’s really very simple at this point. Once we have that down I’ll let you know about our sacred schedule we create for ourselves. 

And then you get a little bit brave and start trying to explain the kind of tantrums that go down in your house on an hourly basis, and people tell you to read their favorite parenting book, Bringing Up Bebe, and this is you:

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Like, cool. I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. The insane tantrums. Over everything. All the god forsaken day long. Like this is not an exaggeration. Not even close. One time at a friends house Wyatt threw one of this kind of tantrum. After it was over, my friend looked at me bug eyed and said, “Are they always like this? Do you get any time by yourself?” And then she poured whiskey in my coffee. It was 10 a.m. Bless. 

And then in the midst of all the other things, when your doctor calls and tells you that your child is still (STILL!) testing positive for the horrific parasite known as Giardia you do this:

Like you can’t even function properly after this call. If people only knew how you had stood over toilets and dry heaved over the smell of this poo. Or how many mornings you woke up to your child covered in this stuff. Or how many loads of laundry you do in one day because of it. Or how sad the screams are that come from your child because it’s so so painful. Or how you can’t really go anywhere because this stuff is uncontrollable and when it happens you need to take cover immediately. 

I will never forget my child having a blowout (like next level blowout) in Walgreens one day and I didn’t know it until I had flung actual parasite poop onto the checkout counter. And I didn’t even acknowledge it. Like I just paid and walked away with a screaming baby who was dripping the worst smelling crap you have ever smelled. I watched the news for days waiting to hear of a Giardia outbreak in East Nashville. 

If you have a friend who is changing the diapers of a baby with parasites go give them a hug. Seriously. It is truly something else.

And then the people want to know about things like why you don’t get a babysitter (I bet he would be fine! They say) or do the church nursery (It’s church!) or the gym child care (That would be so good for you!), and you’re like you just don’t even know my life:

It is just not that simple you want to say. 

The first time Dustin walked into church after successfully leaving Wyatt in the church nursery (hi, eight months later) I almost had to excuse myself to go cry with excitement (for him and us and our church congregation who had so kindly endured his church time antics). That experience has left me so drained I’m like- I think he would be fine SO FINE at the gym child care BUT WHAT IF HE ISN’T OH MY GOD NO I CAN’T. 

And when you’ve been home for a few months people start inviting you over for dinner or want to meet up for a meal and you’re like, You sure about that? Because this is us after a meal at OUR house:

I put something in the microwave for Wyatt the other day and he didn’t fall on the floor weeping uncontrollably and I thought- We have come SO FAR. Meal time was like an actual war zone. There were tantrums and choking and spitting food and gagging and throwing up and screaming and throwing food and 2 hours later we’re still sitting at the freaking table like: FINE. WE SURRENDER. 

And then people try to make you feel better by saying that all of this is so normal! Because their biological kid does THE SAME EXACT THINGS! No their kid doesn’t have any known history of trauma! Yes their kid has been in their loving care since exiting the womb! But take heart! Because they are facing the same.exact.challenges.(!!!) 

And you find yourself doing this on the inside:   Because, no. Like thanks but no. 

And then out of nowhere you start functioning like normal people for hours and then days and then weeks at a time. The screaming for all the hours of the day just ends. The tantrums simmer down. Meal times aren’t the worst times of the day. The parasites go away. You all of a sudden find yourself so obsessed with your child because once you can breathe you see just how awesome he really is. You sleep one full night here and there and feel like a real superhero. You all find your groove as a family and you’re exactly like: 

  
Praise The Good Lord. 

And so when people would ask, How are things going?! And I was all… Do I tell them? Can they handle the truth? LOL LOL, nah… “Things are kinda hard but they’re REALLY, REALLY GREAT!” This is what I really felt like:

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Now when people ask me what adoption is really like I say, “Ya know, the first six months I thought we were all going to die. But we didn’t. And now things are really fun and great. Still really hard at times but nothing like those first few months.”

Because Laughing Is Better Than Crying Part 3

Sometimes you just need to LOL about parenting. Because if you can’t LOL about it what is even the point!? Kids are cray. (Part 1. Part 2.) 

 

I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy saying I don’t understand what “I want to drink my slushy outside inside” means. #ivolunteerastribute 

Wyatt: Can I bring my snack inside? Me: Yes. Wyatt (bursts into tears): No! I don’t want to bring my snack inside!! #mmmmkay 

I’m learning that “the other day” in a 2 year old’s mind is literally any day from birth until present. #likeseriouslykeepupmom

It’s such a funny story, my toddler is doing this thing where he has “fake hiccups” every day because he hates me. 

My favorite part about breakfast is when my toddler exclaims from the table that he’s eating leftovers he found from dinner. 

  
Someone walked in on me in a public restroom recently and I was literally like, “It’s fine. You can come in if you want. I have a 2 year old at home.” 

Does anyone know where I could get a sheet cake and 100 balloons on short notice? I tried to go play with my 2 year old and he told me that I could go away. #dontmindifido 

Try telling your 2 year old that there is still in fact food on their plate when they are hell bent that “no, it’s all gone.” #LOL

My 2 year old has become besties with the liquor store employees. I have no idea how that happened. We don’t even drink. #sarcasmfont

My 2 year old is in this phase where he ROARS really loud in your face when he’s in trouble. The other day I ROARED really loud back because, YOLO. #thelookonhisfacethough

  
I have an actual masters degree from a credible university and I just wiped my toddler’s tears off wrong. #🙄

What am I doing? Oh sorry, just practicing my “mommy watch this” face.

My toddler is obsessed with Thomas The Train. His favorite train is Percy except he can’t say the R and he pronounces the E like a U. So that’s been super fun for him to yell in public.

A fun thing about parenting is trying to decide if your toddler is screaming because they’re dying or because the crayon broke. 

  

What’s That? 

This is an ode to all the parents who can count on two hands the number of nights they’ve slept through the night since becoming parents. Because sometimes when you’re desperate for sleep you try the most ridiculous crap. And other times you just need to LOL about it because otherwise you might cry about it. Or fall asleep with your eyes open. 

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: It’s a night light. Maybe it would help him to have a light in here.  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: I’m just going to rub some essential oils on his feet real quick. People say they think this might help their kid sleep. 

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: I bought a humidifier. Someone told me they heard that these can help kids sleep better. 

Husband: What’s that?

Me: I’m thinking about buying a super hero doll that has a light on it and it changes colors when it’s morning. Someone said it helped their kid. Or something like that.  

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: It’s a diffuser. I’ve read that diffusing essential oils can help them sleep.

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: I’m looking at weighted blankets. People say those can help kids who never sleep ever sleep for a few minutes. 

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: Oh I got some sleep inducing bubble bath at the store. I heard someone say that bubble baths before bed helped their kids sleep through the night. 

Husband: What’s that?

Me: It’s like melatonin but not that. I read somewhere that this helped someone’s kid sleep through the night one time.

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: Someone gave me their notes from a sleep trainer they used. They said it helped for like a month. 

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: It’s Benadryl for the love of God. 

A Christmas Wish For The Introvert 

Oh, hi there. So we’re just coming off of Thanksgiving week. It was a blast. Really, it was. Both of my sisters were in town and it was seriously so fun. We did all of the things for days together as a family. We togethered so hard. But now the week is over and I don’t know how to say this exactly but:

I have togethered too much for the personal safety of myself and others. Thanksgiving has left me straight up out of evens because I just cannot anymore.

And so the following conversation happened between my husband and I last night:

Me: What room are you going to right now?

Husband: I’m not sure? Why?

Me: Because I am not going to go to that room you go to. This is because I love you.

The life of an introvert is a strange one, I tell you. We are a misunderstood bunch. We don’t hate all people and we aren’t just so shy. We have friends. We like good conversation. We will go and we will do and we will probably have a good time. But when it’s all said and done you people make us tired. So tired. And so we go away and spend time by ourselves in the quiet and that’s where we get our energy back. It’s really quite simple. It’s all about where you get your energy- extroverts get it from being around people and introverts get it from being alone. That’s all. We aren’t a bunch of meany rude grumpy grumps. We just need a hot minute for the love.

And so I was sitting in the bathroom yesterday hiding from my toddler thinking about introverts and the holiday season.

[Sidenote: this is exactly how I feel about Christmas parties. And by “Christmas” I mean all.]

And I was like: The holiday season is overwhelming for the average person, yes? There are exactly a bazillion parties to go to and everyone wants to gather for a dinner of sorts. There’s the shopping and the last minute gifts. There’s traveling and there’s staying with family and and and… just wow, so many things. And so as I was hiding from the toddler who is currently in a phase I like to call “koala bear” (think hanging off of a tree every second of the day and I am the tree) and I was just like, it’s hard to be an introvert during the holidays. There. I said it.

And so I have a few wishes for the introvert this Christmas season.

I wish no small talk upon you at all the parties and all the family gatherings. But if you must engage with the small talk, I wish for you the game Loaded Questions. Carry that box around with you at all times and when things get hard (i.e. people ask you what you do or you’re travel plans or if you like cold weather) bust out a, “What would be a terrible name for a celebrity perfume?” #yoface #howsthatforsmalltalk

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I wish for you this killer tee because truth never spoke so hard. Amiright?

 

I wish for you this ostrich pillow. May it be a safe haven for you or a safe word of sorts. May you crawl inside this sucker on airplanes, at family gatherings, or when you are just so done except you’re not at the mall.

 

I wish for you a coloring book. Sit down, dear one, grab some colors and drown out all.the.noise of the holidays one coloring page at a time.

I wish for you a canceled party because:

I wish for you this necklace.

I wish for you the strength to say the following words, “Please go away. I’m introverting” at least once this Christmas. And if you can’t find the strength to utter them, may you just flash this mug in people’s faces.

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Speaking of sweatpants, I wish for you some. May you be granted many nights to just sit at home and wear them. Or may you be granted a Christmas party invitation where the dress code is sweatpant.


I wish for you a friend who invites you to dinner at her house and when you show up this is in front of the door.

I wish for you ghost-like exits from every gathering. May they be quick and clean and may no one notice one single thing.

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I wish for you a night to use this candle. Because no one is coming over and it’s okay to like it that way.

I wish for you some quiet time. I want it to rain down quiet time like it rained down manna for the Israelites. I want quiet time to be gifted to you with as much excitement as Oprah used to gift all.the.things. And if you can’t get that precious quiet time I wish for you these bad boys.


There you have it. My Christmas wishes for the introvert. May you strike the perfect balance of together and Bye Felicia.

Puzzle Update (And A Few Other Words)

If you’re just joining in, a big Hello! We’re in the process of adopting our second kiddo from Uganda. You can read more about that here. We’re also fundraising, whoop, you can read more about that one here. Much love.

Y’all. We’ve officially crossed the $10,000 mark. Say what!? I know. In just five weeks 337 puzzle pieces have been sold and $10, 110 has been raised. That’s so crazy awesome. We are so thankful and so grateful. Like, seriously. People are so kind and so generous. Believe me when I say it does not go unappreciated. Without you people who are giving we could literally not do this thing. So until someone comes up with a different way to say “thank you”… THANK YOU is all we’ve got.

People have asked how I’m feeling about everything this go around and my answer is almost always the exact same… I feel so fine. I feel heavy about it all but I feel fine about it, too. I feel the exact opposite of how I felt for the solid two years we were in the adoption process last time. I feel confident in what we’re doing and totally at peace. I just know this is right. There is literally no question about it.

Last time I felt anxious and worried and this constant sense of urgency and stressed times 4 billion. This time I just feel heavy about the whole thing. I know the reality this time, and the reality is what weighs heavy on my mind and my heart.

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The reality is there is another Wyatt, a living breathing human being out there, who simply needs a family.There is another Wyatt who doesn’t need anyone to come save or rescue him, but rather to come meet him where he is (in all his grief and anger and confusion and hurt) and just love him. There is another Wyatt who doesn’t need to be adopted so everything will be “fixed”, but rather needs someone to be there in the hard and the ugly parts of their story- to honor the losses, to celebrate the gains, to just sit with them in it all and tell them they’ll always be there. There is another Wyatt who is worthy of redemption and growth and healing. There is another Wyatt who is worth it.

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The reality that there is another baby- a baby who has eyes and fingers and toes and a heart- who just needs a family (a FAMILY for crap’s sake) and we can’t go to him without an insane amount of money. The reality that every day that passes is just another day that a baby goes to bed without someone to call mom and dad. And that’s the reality that keeps me up at night.

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And so sometimes (or all of the time) when I get embarrassed that we’re asking for money and I get tired of talking about this puzzle…

When I get frustrated when there are multiple days in a row where not one dollar has been given…

When I get mad that there are kick starter campaigns that raise more money than we’re trying to in no time…

When I feel like I’m pulling teeth and begging people to give…

When I want to scream that “liking” something on Facebook does not get us one centimeter closer to this kid…

When I think maybe we should stop and give up because, money…

… there is another Wyatt and he is worth it.

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Will you join us? Will you help us set another precious kiddo in a family? We literally can’t do it without you. $30/puzzle piece (buy 1 or a million of them, yes?). Click here to give via Paypal or email me for our address or our agency’s address (tax deductible, YEAH BABY).

When October Is Weird 

A few weeks ago I straight up burst into tears at the dinner table over JT. I don’t think I’ve cried about him since I was in Uganda. (Oh hi, almost a year ago… What!?) But we were talking about adoption and we were talking about Koctar number two and I just burst into tears. Because he was technically number one and so this is really Koctar number three, but it’s also not and that’s just still so weird. And so I cried about it because I can, ya know? Dustin just looked at me and said: “No one will ever replace him.” Bless him. And then I cried some more because, yes.

It’s a weird thing- losing a kid and then gaining one. I think about him always and I think about him never. Life looks so different and it feels so right, and yet there is still this tiny little JT size hole that will always make me wonder- wonder what life would have been like with him. I wonder what he looks like now and what his favorite color is and if he still loves to color. I wonder what his favorite subject is and if he still has that contagious laugh. I wonder if he has someone to call mom and dad and if he still gives great hugs. Because when you lose something that’s still living it just makes you wonder. And so sometimes I do.

We don’t talk about him very much anymore. I don’t constantly think about him. I don’t pray for him every single day like I once thought I would. My heart doesn’t physically hurt anymore. I feel a little bit sad about all of that. I also feel a little bit okay about all of that, too.

I think about him in October because that’s when we said Yes to him and that’s the thing that changed everything- that Yes did. I don’t regret that Yes, it just changed my heart and change is always a little bit hard.

And so I bought a wind chime and hung it up in our backyard in his honor. My heart needed to acknowledge him and for some reason a wind chime made sense.

And then when I took this picture tonight I just kept thinking: this life- this crazy, beautiful, hard, chaotic life that we have right now- it’s because of you, kid. And so for that very reason you’ll always have a spot in my heart. And I’m totally okay with that.

See you next October, buddy.

Mornings With A Toddler: A One Act Play

Open scene on dad in shower, mom laying in bed, and toddler waking up crying. 

Mom: Good morning, buddy! 

Toddler (crying): Want to go eat. 

Mom: Okay. Let’s go. What do you want to eat? 

Toddler: Peanut butter sandwich and banana. 

[Mom fixes peanut butter sandwich and cuts up banana while toddler sits and cries because he wants all the foods NOW.]

Toddler (eats bite of sandwich and starts crying): Don’t like it. Want pasta. Want turkey. 

Mom: You love peanut butter! Let’s take some bites! Pasta and turkey aren’t for breakfast. Maybe we can have those for lunch or dinner. Mmmm bananas. 

Toddler (crying): DON’T LIKE IT. Go lay in mommy’s bed. Want cars! 

Mom: Okay. Well, you have to eat something for breakfast and you can lay in mommy’s bed after you eat. You can have your cars when you start eating. Would you like something else? Eggs? Sausage? 

Toddler (SCREAM CRIES LOUDER): DON’T LIKE IT. GET DOWN. 

[Gets toddler down because coffee has not been made yet and mornings are not safe until coffee has been consumed.]

Dad walks in. 

Mom (looks at dad with semi crazy eyes): This is why I don’t do breakfast. 

Toddler (sobbing hysterically): I WANT CARSSSSSS. 

Mom and Dad: You may have your cars when you eat your breakfast. 

Puts toddler back in high hair. 

Toddler (crying): I want cars. 

Dad: Eat your food. 

Toddler (crying): I WANT CARSSSS. 

Dad: If you want your cars you need to start eating. 

Toddler (eats food happily like this is the first time he’s had this discussion with an adult, because WHY?) 

Dad leaves to go to work. Before dad leaves, mom looks at him with a “Don’t you dare ask me what I did today” look because, THIS, this is what I’m going to do all day. Hugs. XOXO. 

Toddler: I all done. Want to get down. 

Mom: Let’s take two more bites of banana because you’re two! 

Toddler: I don’t like baby bite. Not like it. 

Mom: All the bites of banana taste the same. The size doesn’t matter. Just eat two. 

Toddler (starts crying): DON’T LIKE BABY BITE. 

Mom (shoves two pieces of banana in toddler’s mouth): YAY you did it! You can get down and go play! 

End scene as toddler runs off to go play and mom lays head on kitchen table because, how is it only 7:50 a.m.? 

Puzzle Update!

Hello, hi. If you’re just joining in, we’re in the process of adopting kiddo #2 from Uganda. You can read more about that here. We’re also fundraising. And all the people said, Hooray. You can read more about that one here.

One hundred and fifty seven (157!) puzzle pieces are gone. Like, paid and accounted for and GONE. That’s a whopping total of $4,710… almost the total of our first agency fee payment. (Insert all the praise hands.) What in the actual world? People are so kind. People are so generous. People are so good. They really, really are. Dustin and I are so grateful for the people who are choosing to rally around us financially right now. We’re honored and humbled and just so stinking thankful. The notes and text messages and emails that have come along with each donation have left me in tears exactly every time. We’re so proud to have each of you in this village. We really are. 

Do I think we can sell the remaining 593 puzzle pieces? Funny you should ask. That puzzle remains in it’s original bag, unopened, with the receipt attached to it because no, I’m not totally sure we can. It’s just so many. That number is ginormous, ya know? But we’re still believing and praying and hoping because that’s the only thing that makes sense right now. 

If you want in, we’d love to have you. You can click here to donate, you can email me to get our address, or if you’d like a tax deductible way to give I can give you our agency’s address as well. $30 per puzzle piece, $120+ gets you an Africa Christmas ornament Wyatt helped make. The first round of those are packed up and ready to go! We’re having to make many more batches because y’all are so good to us. Really, it’s humbling.

wyattIMG_2182Thank you times a trillion. Let’s keep this thing going, shall we?


Several weeks ago, like long before we knew we were for real about to do this thing, I had some burning thoughts about adoption and fundraising. Dustin and I talk about it often- how grateful we are for the people who financially rallied on our behalf- because if it weren’t for them Wyatt wouldn’t be here. Like, he literally wouldn’t be here. He would be with another family who had the money and that would be that. We talk about how brave people were to open up their wallets and buy into a story that hadn’t even really started yet. We talk about how kind and generous and thoughtful people were with their money. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed with it all, the fact that Wyatt is here and it’s only because so many people helped make that happen. And so I scribbled down some thoughts and shared them with our people, because I so honestly believe them to be true.

Hands down my favorite thing about life right now is getting to introduce Wyatt to the people who took a risk and literally bought into this story at some point over the last two years.

There are some seriously big opinions out there in regards to fundraising and adoption, but so many days I look at him and am just floored with gratitude. He wouldn’t be here if we had waited until we had a trillion dollars in the bank. He just wouldn’t. He’s here because people said, “Here’s our money. Go do the big thing.”

Last night as we hung with a college friend who has her name on the puzzle in Wyatt’s room, I was yet again reminded of how proud I am. Proud of who Wyatt is and so proud of who our people are.

My heart could explode thinking about having a whole new round of people rallying around a whole new kiddo all in the name of family. Like, for real, it could actually burst. I also can’t wait to introduce y’all to him or her. What a gloriously fun day that will be. 

Because The Puzzle Is Back

If you’re just joining in, Hi welcome. We’re in the process of adopting our second kiddo from Uganda. You can read more about that here.

I just need you guys to know that I have been sitting at my kitchen table now for one actual hour staring at my computer saying things out loud like: “I don’t want to write this. I don’t know what to say. I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE THIS.” I have grunted and exhaled and gone to the bathroom and poured myself another glass of wine and checked Facebook and my email. I have even said a string of “blah blah blahhhhhhs.” I have started writing and deleted paragraphs and then I have repeated that ten times. I am currently contemplating if I’m going to not write this at all and instead go watch Scandal, because I really just want someone in a white coat to look me in the eyes and say with conviction, “It’s handled.” Okay. Glad that’s out of the way. (Dustin says I need to delete this whole paragraph and just say: “This is really hard to write. Coming back to you guys and asking for your help again is just really hard.” But whatever, I like this paragraph. SO IT STAYS.)

Adoption is hands down the most awesome thing I have ever been a part of. It’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever been a part of. Adoption is beautiful and broken and redemptive. Adoption is constantly honoring losses and celebrating gains. It’s full of tension- always holding a space for what should have been while also holding a space for what is. It’s the gospel in my living room and my kitchen and in my back yard. It’s grief and laughter and growth and trauma all wrapped in one. Adoption is the most unnatural and natural thing on planet earth, to parent a child that was never intended to be yours. It’s easily the biggest thing to ever happen to my heart.

And we’re here to do it again. It makes no sense and at the same time it makes every bit of sense. One day I will tell you the whole story and you will be like: “Shut up. OH MY GOSH YES.” You will. I swear to you. That will be such a fun day. I will most definitely cry.

A little over two years ago we came to you guys and said: “Hey. We feel like we’re supposed to do this really big thing. It’s crazy expensive and we can’t do the whole thing by ourselves, but with your help we can do a lot of it. Who wants in?” And a ton of you bought in. Like, you bought in with actual dollars and it was one of the coolest things we have ever been a part of. Hundreds of you rallied and stood beside us and we raised $11,000 in six weeks. All of your names are on a puzzle that is currently hanging in Wyatt’s room. It’s one of my most favorite possessions, I feel confident it’s one of the things I would grab if our house were ever on fire.

And so we’re doing it again. The puzzle. Except this time it’s going down a tad bit differently.

Let me give you a few numbers just in the name of transparency. To complete Wyatt’s adoption we spent a total of $35,000. We raised/were given $15,000 of that. Two years ago agency fees were roughly $16,000. Today they are $22,5000. Investigations, DNA testing, and lawyer fees have all increased dramatically. (And we stand for ethical adoptions so we are totally okay with this.) And then there are the home study update costs and USCIS fees and travel costs and in country expenses. It’s all just a lot. And coming off of one, we simply put just need your help.

So the puzzle, we have a 750 piece puzzle. Each piece is $30. If we are able to sell all 750 pieces we will have raised our exact agency fee payment of $22,500. We know this is insane and risky and a lot to ask of you guys. We get it. We really do. But I also just feel so at peace about it. Like it’s going to be okay. You guys made me believe in you two years ago and I can’t stop doing that now. People are good. They are so good. Wyatt is a walking testament to that.

So here’s the skinny:

1. We have a 750 piece puzzle. Do we even know that many people? I cannot talk about that right now.

2. We are selling the pieces for $30 a piece. You can buy one puzzle piece or 25 puzzle pieces. You can buy one for yourself or every member of your family. You can empty out a piggy bank or give your tithe or just write a check for a random amount, it doesn’t even have to be about puzzle pieces. You can do literally whatever.

3. There are 3 ways you can participate: You can click the PayPal link and enter in your dollar amount. (It will make you set up an account, sorry about that, but PayPal has the least amount of processing fees of all and we just really want to honor your dollar.) If you would rather send a check you can email me at courtney.koctar@gmail.com and I can give you our address. OR if you would like to send a check directly to our agency (that would be tax deductible) you can email me as well, and I will give you that address.

4. Once all the pieces have been purchased (IF they are all purchased?) we will put the puzzle together and write each of your names on the cardboard side of the puzzle. And then we’ll hang it up with the names facing out in this little one’s room and it will make me cry and be my other favorite possession.

As a bonus… we really wanted Wyatt to be a part of this in some way. So, if you buy 4 or more puzzle pieces ($120+) Wyatt will send you a homemade Africa Christmas ornament. (Christmas will be here in one hot second and we would love for you to have a tiny piece of this story hanging in your house over the holidays.) It was super fun to make these with him. I only lost my crap once when he bent the cookie cutter so bad that it looked more like a shoddy Florida than an Africa. And we only had one tantrum when he thought they were cookies and I had no earthly idea how to explain a Christmas ornament to a child who has never experienced Christmas before. Fun times! But for real, I could cry thinking about Wyatt having a part in bringing his sibling here.

We’d be honored and humbled and consider it such a privilege to have you be a part of this story. Let’s do this. Who’s in?