Adoption, Bread and Butter, Dessert, FPM, Isabel, Juliana, Meat and Potatoes, Trauma, Veggies


I attended Refresh Chicago this weekend.  I had been planning this for months.  It has been on my calendar since March.  I barely made it.  Joe and I had a HUGE fight.  The kid in our home who struggles the most with attachment chose the week of the conference to have a week of meltdowns.  This isn’t atypical once we get into the swing of school.  She begins to feel safe and she lets her trauma flag fly.  Still, this week though?!? NO!

I missed Friday morning’s session.  I almost didn’t get in the car.  Then a friend messaged me, “We don’t care how late you are, JUST COME!”  So, I dried my tears, loaded up my janky, old SUV, and headed out.  I enjoyed three blissful hours in the car, three hours to myself to laugh at podcasts, cry at Tom Petty songs, and to just be alone.

I made it for lunch, for the afternoon breakout sessions, and then for the Friday night general session.  Refresh is a religious conference.  While religion is painful for me, faith isn’t.  Faith is strength in this home.  In fact, there are times when it’s all I’ve got to go on, faith that it will get better.  Friday night’s general session wasn’t about getting through it though.  It was a night to let go of it.  A message about faith and about letting go of what is burdening us.

The Refresh leaders gave us each a Sharpie marker and a balloon (never fear, both the balloon and the string are specially crafter biodegradable materials, I didn’t even have to ask, they offered that info up, because they know their crowd).  They asked us to write out the things that were burdening us the very most.  I took a pic of my balloon.

But, this picture is a lie.  I’m going to own that right now.  My balloon was full of so many other burdens.  I should have taken pictures of those words too.  I had a moment of fear about being quite so open though.  My daughter is waiting too long, that’s true.  That is a huge burden, but it’s a more acceptable burden, because that isn’t within my control.  I worry every single day that Isabel will die before we can get there, that she will die without ever having a family.

There were other burdens on this balloon though…

“My marriage is a mess right now.”

“I have a child who HATES me.  She might never know secure attachment.”

“I can’t support all the teachers who work for me the way they need to be supported.”

“People hate me for using public resources for my children.”

“There is never enough money.”

“I don’t do enough to fight racism, homophobia and xenophobia to make up for the fact that I was blind to it for too long.”

“I’m fat and ugly.  I don’t take care of myself well enough.”

“I am not enough.”

I didn’t take a picture of any of those words, because, “I am scared” was also written on that balloon.  I am scared.  That might be the biggest burden of them all.  I live in fear of never being enough for all the people who depend on me.  I drive myself into the ground trying to help everyone else before I help myself.  I’m going to do better.  I have to do better.

I have to let all of that go.  I did that this weekend.  It is my prayer that you will read this and let this go as well, because there was another take away this message this weekend.

You’re not alone, and neither am I.

–FullPlateMom, who is here if you need to let go of something, and who hopes to see you at Refresh next year.  Let’s make our ‘me too!’ group the largest EVER.


Brady, Cate, Isabel, Meat and Potatoes, Tess

I Love Sundays.

We are STILL waiting for our I800A approval from the government in order to move forward with our adoption from Colombia.  It is now day 48.  Sigh.  

Sundays at our house are slow and lazy.  They’re mandatory family time as we worship at home together.  I’ve explained before why we left our church.  This morning’s sermon, via Podcast, was on sibling relationships.  We followed that up with a science podcast about alternative fuels and what Carbon is doing to our environment.  I know how weird this sounds, but this is so my family, faith, science and social justice, not in any particular order.

I cooked.

They wander.

But we all listen.

Every once in awhile someone would ask me a question about faith, science or social justice, and how they all intertwine, and a conversation would begin.  Those conversations bring connection.

This is what I want for them.  To learn about all these subjects, how they relate, and how they shape our world.

That’s why I love Sundays.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait for Isabel to join our lazy Sundays.


Meat and Potatoes

The Day the Church Lost Us: Why We ‘Home Church’

About two years ago, we stopped going to church.  We used Tess as an excuse, because she was sick, she couldn’t be around large crowds.  We said we didn’t want all the germs.  That wasn’t the reason though.  The church we had been attending was superficially supportive of our family, but wouldn’t let us become members until we took hours upon hours of classes that both Joe and I had to attend. Both of us, even though we had ten children at the time. There was to be no flexibility, or understanding. If we wanted to be welcomed to this house of God, we’d best show up for their coursework.

We couldn’t make it work, so we resigned ourselves that we would simply remain guests in a place that would never call us one of their own. We rationalized that by saying that everyone was pretty welcoming to us, so it didn’t really matter.  If we were accepted on Sunday mornings, did we really need to have membership? What would that gain us that we didn’t already have.

It may have given us a place to voice our concerns about what came next. A statement was put out from the church about gay marriage. They would never welcome such an unholy union in their walls. They took a firm stance. Now we wondered, were we actually welcome? We have ten children, what if one of them comes out? What if one identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community? What will we have taught them all this time?

So, we left. No one called to ask why. No one reached out. We got a letter in the mail asking for money though. They didn’t miss our presence, but they missed our offering. Unbelievable, and yet, so believable. This isn’t what we wanted to teach our children, that church values profit over people. We definitely didn’t want them to hear and absorb that God views some people as unholy just because of who they love.

So, we church at home now. The Sunday messages take place in our pjs. The message is carefully curated based on what we believe God is really telling us to do unto others. We’re not going to weaponize the Bible against marginalized groups. We are going to be the hands of feet. We are going to raise our kids to fight for justice the way He wants.

Bowen, Meat and Potatoes, Tess

This Old House.

Life has been chaotic and so busy around here.  Apparently, I felt in need of a project, you know, since we’re not adopting anyone currently and there is no paperwork to be chased.  It is very apparent that we’re running out of space here in our home.  We currently have five bedrooms and three bathrooms.  While it sounds like a lot, the kids are having a rough time of it.  So, we decided to make the choice between adding on and moving on.

We opened a can of worms like no one could have imagined.  Getting a contractor to call us back was an ordeal.  I interviewed 12 and, thus far, ONE has responded, and they have yet to draw us any sort of plan or give us an estimate on what adding on the way we’re hoping to might cost.  I got so exceedingly frustrated that I gave up and went to an open house for a model home for a subdivision just down the road.  This lead to opening our home to the world’s most irritating realtor just so that we could see what selling our home would look like.  Have you all seen pictures of the inside of my house?  We keep it pretty clean.  It doesn’t look like ten children live here.  This is what greets you upon entering.  DSC_0017

This Realtor.  He didn’t mean any harm, but let’s just say, he doesn’t get us, and he doesn’t get why this house is so important to us.  This was the house that Giggles and ShyGuy came to when they didn’t feel like they had a home at all anymore.  Giggles has confided that at that time, it felt weird.  It felt wrong.  Slowly, it grew on her, and as she felt like part of the family, this house, it began to feel like home.  This is the house whose driveway I pulled out of, my baby in the back of the car, and drove her tiny, frail self to the hospital to have her heart fixed.  I didn’t know if she would return to that house ever again.  This is the house that will see us do that a few more times.  Each time, it will be waiting to nurse her back to health.  This is the house that has accessibility should she need to live here as an adult.  It has a shower that was designed with a wheelchair in mind, just in case.

This is the house FPD and I bought never knowing how many people it would see us raise.  This is the house I would like to bring our grandkids to.  The Realtors we met with today seemed to get that.  I’m thankful for that.  We’ll see how the next few months play out.  We’ll see what is able to be done to accommodate us as we move to the next phase.  But, I think we’ve all learned just how much this house…our home, means to us.

–FullPlateMom, who spends a lot of time on Pinterest lately, make sure to check her out.

Cam, Meat and Potatoes

Wingardium Leviosaaaaa

We’re literary dorks around here.  And, once one of the children has read a book, it is often shared with everyone else in a way that makes certain works of literature become trendy within our house.  Right now, it’s all about Harry Potter.  I know we sound like we’re late to this ball game, and we are.  Honestly, it is usually Middle-Middle who raises the obsession with something and the other boys follow with enthusiasm, always ready to try something new.  Responsiboy had read most of the Harry Potter series, up to the Goblet of Fire.  Cedric Diggory’s tragic and untimely demise in that book had me holding back.

This year, I decided to start reading them aloud, figuring that by the time I reached poor Cedric’s death, the kids would be old enough to handle it.  My reading spurred Responsiboy’s renewed interest and he has read all but the last two books now.  And, it created an obsession with M-M.

This is the back story on how I spent my Saturday making nine wands, and is the explanation for why the entire neighborhood likely spent their Saturday watching the boys point painted chopsticks at one another while shouting latin-like exclamations as they ran around the house, front yard to back, cursing one another.  At least it’s warm enough for them to do this in the out of doors now.

In case you have a Harry Potter dork in your home, I used this tutorial from Pinterest to create these little beauties.

Harry Potter Wands

Harry Potter Wands-1

The only thing I did differently was that I spray painted my chopsticks instead of hand painting them all.  When you’re churning them out in the numbers I was, spraying them was just easier.  I’m still a little high off the fumes though.

All in all, my literary dorks were quite pleased.  I’m quite pleased to see them loving literature.

Harry Potter Wands-2

FullPlateMom, who wants to remind you that you can follow her on Pinterest for more fun Saturday projects!