Wednesday, March 29, 2017


"The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it's not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives." -Carol S. Dweck

A couple of months ago, I posted on IG and Facebook that I was reading a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Several of you chimed in that you would like to know my thoughts on it when I finished. Well, I don't think a book review would do it justice and most of you wouldn't read it anyway. Instead, I wanted to weave it into some more personal stories in hopes that you might gain a more complete view of how important I think the ideas in this book are and why it will be one that I'll revisit over and over again. 

The book talks about the differences in people who orient toward a fixed mindset and those who are more inclined to have a mindset of growth. The latter is one who approaches everything as a process. It's the thought that you can develop yourself in any capacity. Intellectual ability, talent in music, art, or sports, and approaching personality and relationships--all of these are subject to change in those of us with the growth mindset. On the other hand, folks with a fixed mindset have thoughts that more closely resemble these:

"This is just the way I am."
"I've never been good at math. I don't see that changing."
"Some people just have a natural talent for music, but I didn't get that gene."

The work of Carol Dweck shows that the above comments simply don't have to be true. Now, don't leave me if you're drowning in laundry, the kids have chocolate smeared on their faces already at 9am, and you're barely keeping everyone's head above water. I'm there, too so hear me out. Lately, I've read and come into contact with so many people who kept preaching, sharing articles on Facebook, and holding meetings about not merely surviving but thriving and honestly I wanted to punch them all in the face. After all, they have no idea what I'm going through. Their kids aren't as close together as mine. They don't have as many as I do. Their kids are older. They aren't dealing with special needs. They don't know. While all those are probably true, they also don't matter. I'm not competing with anyone, but myself. And who says I can't get better at being Mama? Or being a wife, friend, daughter, writer, or an underwater basket weaver, if I so choose?

"In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail-or if you're not the best- it's all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they're doing regardless of the outcome"(Dweck). Much of our climate and culture is focused on a fixed mindset. What's the line from that movie I don't think I've ever actually watched in its entirety? "If you're not first, you're last." While I don't think participation trophies are helpful, I also don't believe that we should demonstrate to our children that because they weren't first in a foot race that the experience was wasted. Instead, we should encourage their effort and praise their ability to work hard and grow in that specific area. I know that I have good days and bad, but I also know that I can make small decisions every day that will push me toward becoming a better, well-rounded individual.

This talk makes me think of former President George W. Bush and his currently developing artistic abilities. He woke up one day and decided he wanted to paint our nation's heroes as a tribute to them and so he took classes and worked hard and became a painter, an artist. He had no prior experience. That's incredible.

The growth mindset can be applied to anything even relationships and friendships. People in the fixed mindset need validation so sometimes they will put you down in the process. They'll point out where they think you're lacking and sugar coat it with a smile all because on the flip side, they do have that part of their life in order and need to be validated on it because so much of the rest of them feels inferior. Shortly after learning that Abel was deaf, someone said I must have formula fed him (I didn't) and that caused him to get many ear infections and lose his hearing. She is an "all natural everything" type mom (which is great!) and so I suppose that helped her validate herself. Another situation that comes to mind is the time an older, well-dressed man asked me for money for gas. While I was filling up his tank, he took the time to insult me by laughing that I had wasted my education by staying home with my children. He must have been embarrassed that he forgot his debit card and needed to remind himself and me that he was an important man with plenty of money, experience, and worth. If I was in a fixed mindset, I would let these situations bother me greatly. The old Kacy certainly would have dwelled on instances such as these, but growing in my mindset allows me to see them more objectively. Just last week, a friend told me that her husband didn't care for me much. I do not have a problem with him and would've considered him a friend, too so that wasn't something I was thrilled to hear, but it's fine. A couple of years ago that would have killed me. I would have thought about what in the world I did wrong, how I could try to change it, etc until the cows came home. It would have hurt. This growth mindset allows me to just take it for what it's worth. I'm no less because of it and neither is he. I still have an opportunity to grow myself as a friend and can focus on relationships that are worthy of that growth. There's nothing to prove. 

There are nuggets of wisdom throughout the work of Carol Dweck that can be applied in so many situations. Depression, marriage, parenthood--she hits on all of these. The resounding message is one of determination. And that's one I want to reiterate over and over for my children. When I started out reading this, my main focus was Kinley. He seems to be very fixed in his mindset. He needs validation constantly. As I continued to read, my thoughts shifted to Abel, who has an incredible opportunity to approach life with a growth mindset and show the world how much he can learn and adapt to a hearing world. Mostly, though, I think the book has changed me. I set out to teach my kids this type of thinking and I had no idea that my thinking was what needed tweaked. 

I think you should check this book out. It is certainly redundant, but it's also chocked full of information, research studies, personal stories, and quotes that will help you change your mind, too.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Like a Handful of Berries

At times, the every day tasks we choose to do run together like an endless Groundhog Day. Laundry, Dishes, clean toilets, change diapers, wipe noses, repeat. It's never done yet we keep on working at it. So as my mind was on autopilot today, I walked my slipper clad feet down to the laundry room after nursing the baby for over an hour. I sleepily stretched, yawning as I opened the washer and dryer to start yet another load of laundry. When I swung open the door, something was off. What was it? Upon closer examination, I could see several very small berry-like brown balls falling out of clothes, scattered around the inside of the washing machine. I thought about how my boys adore pockets because that means they can store such treasures in them and not tell Mama about them- rocks, sticks, candy, nuts, you name it and I've probably found it stuffed into the tiny recesses of pre-school sized pockets. Part of me loves it. To see from the eyes of a child what they treasure in that moment can be special. As I began collecting each formerly red berry, now a dull brown, I began to see how sparing they actually were. There were about twenty or so and as I gathered them in my hands I thought about how many more days I would actually have with them being this small in this tiny set of pants, in those little socks, in our little house here with them right now. Soon another milestone will be reached and they'll be a little different than they were the day before. Soon I won't be finding little dead foliage from their pockets in my washer and dryer. Then what?
It's funny how a handful of berries can cause much reflection in the early morning hours of a Monday, no less. I thought back to our time in Alaska when we left the borders of our town and headed on a backpacking trip to Denali National Park to sleep at the foot of Mt. McKinley, the towering mountain my oldest is named after. We gathered bags and bags full of fresh wild blueberries on that trip that we would later make into pies, pancakes, and fresh-fruit breakfasts. Those handfuls of the best blueberries you'll ever taste slipped through our fingers pretty quickly. We spent so much time, just Jordan and me, picking those under the clouded expansive sky beside the most impressive backdrop you can imagine, and in just a little while, they were gone. We thought we had so many at our fingertips and we did, but then they were gone. Just like those few years we had together before kids. Just like those fifteen months when we had one child. Just like those few years we hopefully will get while our family is complete. Just like those old berries I pulled out of the washer this morning. How many more days will I get to do that? How many more days can I have to show my children love through service recognized or not? If I could gather them up in my hands, what would that look like?

"So I concluded that there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God." Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Monday, March 13, 2017

5 Things I've Learned About Having a "Big" Family

Imagine my eight month old strapped to my chest in a baby carrier, her three older stair-step brothers holding hands walking into the grocery store. They choose a special car cart to use and have a brief, passionate discussion about which two boys will get to drive and who will be left to stare at my face and the back of they baby's head. Sure, we're taking up some time and space but for the most part it is managed chaos and we aren't truly inconveniencing anyone. YET..

I see the looks.

Five Things I've Learned About Having a "Big" Family

1. People assume they're paying for you in some way. Don't get behind them in the grocery store--she's probably going to use food stamps. In fact, cut in front of them. Why do they have so many kids? No lie--someone has asked me before if I needed the number to Planned Parenthood.

2. If you have a big family, you are already in someones way. Just this trip I'm walking down an aisle with my crew and someone else was, too so I moved to go around. No biggie. THEN a third woman comes out of nowhere, pretending to not see us and comes barging right through despite the fact that there's no room and I can't pick up my cart (because there are groceries and three children weighing it down) to inch it over a few. It mattered not that I was easily there first. I was in her way. I was slowing her down and she was going to passive aggressively show me. If you're going to have a big family, go ahead and prepare yourself for some folks to act like they have a say in your life in some way. Literally, my big family doesn't have an impact on you at all. Why do you care? Are you watching them for me? DEFINITELY NOT. Are you buying their diapers? Nope. Food? No. You're doing nothing for them so keep walkin'.

3.When you all go out together, someone will always ask "Are they all yours?" or they'll say "You've got your hands full." I don't mind either of these statements for the record. Sometimes I'm amazed they're all mine, too and I DEFINITELY have my hands full with them.

4. Some people will grant you a knowing nod, a twinkle in their eye, or a smile that reminds you of the great responsibility you have in raising these little people. Usually it's a sweet older lady who has been there, done that and sometimes it's a woman who doesn't have any children yet and desperately wants to mother a child. Either way, these people refresh my heart. Be these people who grant grace instead of judgment.

5.You will grow every day. It may not be in number. It probably won't be your bank account that shows growth. No, you'll be stretched thin there...but your confidence in yourself as a mother will grow. Your love for your family and the amazing way you seem to balance EVERYTHING will grow. Your appreciation for others walking this path with many kids, with various special needs, with whatever will grow. You'll be different. You'll be those people I mentioned at number four. You'll give grace.

Y'all, my kids were actually pretty great in the store today yet I felt a lot of shade thrown our way. We've got to be better about this. If you've opened your Bible at least just a little bit, you know that children are special to God. Stop holding them to impossible standards. They're learning how to act and we, as parents, are learning to parent them. And while they embarrass me daily, they make me incredibly proud, too with all the moments you don't get to see.

Thank you, Lord, for a big family full of chaos! Thank you for growth and grace. Amen.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Best of the Internet Today

Literally every child I own (I can say that, right?) is crying, WAILING right now and I just can't even. It has been one of those days, for no particular reason. I am just to my limit with tantrums and fighting and downright psychotic behavior from a few of them (I'm lookin' at you Abe and Mer Bear). SO, like any stellar parent who knows her own limits, I'm ignoring them with a big dose of the world wide web. On this Monday, I bring you The Best of the Internet Today.

Y'all have been obsessed with this stinkin' giraffe trying to give birth. Admittedly, I tuned in to see what the fuss is about for all of 22 seconds, but who has time for this? Are you all sitting at work with this window ready to close out if someone important walks in? Do you have it streaming to your iPhone as you workout at the gym? Use the bathroom? I'm so confused. Millions are watching at any given time. Hey, I'm not judging. Whatever floats your boat. But THIS video--I found it hilarious. Here's a still photo...

Anyway, there's also this one--a parody of the bachelor for moms. It's spot on--ok, except I have exactly zero people lining up asking to watch my kids. Everything else is right on target.

Also, Cat and Nat are always pretty spot on, too. This week they hit the nail on the head with- Why am I so tired?

The #momlife is so glamorous, y'all! I went out in town twice today- once with polka dot pants on and the other time with plaid pajamas on. The only reason I changed has everything to do with a very spitty baby and not the fact that I ran two miles and was sweaty. No, that doesn't quite warrant a shower around here. Just livin' the dream...and look at all this time I just found to blog. I've really got my life in order. Anyway, I just heard an outside door open and close so they might be escaping. I should probably go check that out. Let's chat again soon.

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