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How It All Started...

Hello, friends! This is my very first post about me and my family, so I thought I should inaugurate this blog with an explanation of who I am and how my journey started. This post is an expansion of the About page, so if you want the shorter version you can just head there and skip this post!

As you've probably figured out by now, my name is Kaytlin Huizinga. I love to dream, and I love to immerse myself in worlds where anything is possible, where good conquers evil, and where bravery overcomes our greatest fears. I was an early and avid reader as a child; my favorite stories usually involved mysteries and talking animals, but I also enjoyed non-fiction books about outer space, ancient Egypt, and animals of all kinds. In short, I loved to learn about worlds both real and imagined. As I grew older, I began to wade into the works of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Carroll, and the Old English poets. Their stories spoke to a depth of my soul that I still can't fully describe. It was like finding myself, as if their words somehow unlocked hidden memories and adventures that my heart knew but my mind did not. Somehow, in reading their stories, I began to believe that I, too, could become a novelist. I practiced my craft for hours every day, and by the age of sixteen, I had already completed two novel-length drafts of fantasy fiction. However, I shudder to even crack those pages now. My writing has improved considerably since then! During those same years of intense writing, I was also looking ahead to the future toward what I wanted to study for college. I struggled to choose between my dreams of authorship and my love of learning about the sciences. After a season of prayer and multiple internships, I chose to attend Cedarville University in Ohio to study environmental science. I still harbored hopes of one day becoming a published author, but life became increasingly busy with intense studies, friendships, a wonderful boyfriend (who is now my husband!), and preparation for a career beyond college. Time was not the only obstacle I faced, however. Back in middle school, I had randomly developed reading OCD, which significantly slowed my reading speed. From that point on, pleasure reading became more frustrating than enjoyable for me. During my freshman and sophomore years of college, I chose several English literature courses as electives to force myself to read the texts I wanted to read. I rarely, if ever, read for fun outside of that. During my junior year, I took a speed reading elective that did help improve my reading speed, but by that point, I was too immersed in biology textbooks to have time for Shakespeare and Homer. Moreover, I also developed some health problems during college that significantly affected my energy levels and ability to think creatively. Thus, by the time I graduated college, all of these variables had combined into a "perfect storm" that left me unable and unwilling to pursue the stories and hobby I had once loved.

Kaytlin and Tim Huizinga
My husband is proof that fairy tales do come true!

I did, however, have a good degree and a beautiful ring to show for all of my efforts: a few weeks after graduation, I married Tim, my very own knight in shining armor. During the first few months of 2018, all of my mental energies were focused on investing in my new marriage and finding a job that aligned with my field of study. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, a wonderful opportunity opened up for me as a microbiologist at a national laboratory I was beyond fortunate to have the opportunity to work with brilliant, kind, and helpful bosses and coworkers during the years I worked there, and I poured whatever energy my health afforded into my work. Unfortunately, my health continued to experience a steep decline, and I struggled to make sense of my future. My boss was patient and understanding beyond hope or expectation, but I still knew that I needed a change. I briefly considered the idea of writing again, but I lacked the inspiration that I needed.

That all changed when I met Parker. I met Parker in a dark, sterile room in the early fall of 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak. It was a frightening first encounter: during the first few minutes of his life, he seemed to struggle to breathe. Nurses were hovering around him like bees near a hive as they ensured that he had enough oxygen flowing through his tiny body. But when the initial storm calmed and he was finally placed in my arms, I knew that my life would be forever different because of him. My sweet son, my Parker. My husband and I agreed that staying home with Parker full-time would be beneficial for both his development and my health. Thus, I traded my paid 40-hours-per-week job for a 168-hours-per-week unpaid position as a stay-at-home mom. Though I miss my work friends, it was the best choice for our family and I have never once regretted my decision. My health has improved dramatically, and my clingy and sensitive baby benefitted greatly from having me home as his consistent caregiver. Also, any concerns about his lungs were dispelled within days of his birth: he was (and still is) one of the loudest babies I have ever encountered.

A sleeping baby in a swaddle
My sweet, sleepy Parker

Just over a year after that momentous day, I experienced another significant turning point in my life. One afternoon, as Parker and I were enjoying a mid-fall walk, I looked down at his sweet blonde head and wondered: what if Parker was a knight? I could make him into one... As I pushed the stroller, I pulled out my phone and began typing a few lines of poetry into a note app: "Long, long ago...there lived young Sir Parker the Knight. Each day he was taught by his father, the king, about wisdom, courage, and doing what's right." And that, my friends, was it. I had written poetry for Parker before, but this was something special. It was a story, and he was the inspiration that I had so long needed.

Life has taken some unexpected twists and turns since I first penned the words to Sir Parker, and it took nearly two years for me to transfer those words from digital documents to physical pages I could share with others. In that two-year span, our family experienced profound loss, (almost) finished remodeling our 140-year-old home, and welcomed another beautiful son into our lives. Through both the good and the bad, we have become stronger together as a family, and I have become more resilient as an individual. Publishing a book takes determination, and these past few years have certainly given me that!

A toddler and his baby brother
My two favorite little boys in the world

Parker is now a sweet, kind, empathetic, curious, and busy toddler who loves his baby brother (most of the time). The process of creating and publishing Sir Parker for him (and now you, too!) has allowed me to work through the challenges we have faced in these past two years and channel my anxiety into a project that is both wholesome and meaningful. Sir Parker is my way of dipping my toes back into the waters of the fantasy genre that I love so much, and its family-friendly storyline means that my young sons can join me in that adventure as well.

I am so thankful to God, my parents, my husband, my children, and the many other friends and family who have poured into my life and my work. I would not be a published writer today without the encouragement, accountability, feedback, and support they have each provided. I especially want to mention and thank Mrs. R and Mr. P, who both read my cringe-worthy fan-fiction stories over a decade ago and somehow still managed to praise my potential as a writer. I am also grateful to you, my readers, who have taken the time to read my story and, in so doing, chosen to join in this journey with me. Thank you!

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