Friday, January 23, 2015

Exhausted & Fulfilled


Exhausted.

That's what I am.

It's the mark of Mommyhood. Regardless of how well of a sleeper your little one is (and my littlest one is NOT), regardless of how old your kids are, regardless of the fact that you're a working-outside-the-home mama, or a working-inside-the-home-all-day-long mama, ALL mommies exhausted.  Or they're lying. It's one or the other.

You're exhausted from lack of sleep. (Me! Me! Me!)
Or from worrying.
Or from making a million phone calls to figure out where to send your child to daycare/school.
Or from cleaning up after a sick baby all day long.
Or rocking said baby all day long.
Or from the never-ending toddler tantrums.
Or from trying to keep the toddler from shoving goldfish in the newborn's mouth. (Been there, done that.)
Or from washing 24 bottles, that will last you all of one day.
Or from keeping your two (or three, or four) elementary school kids from getting into fights.
Or from feeling like you have no idea what's going on after 14 hours of common core homework.
Or from a colicky baby, who will only be soothed by the bouncing walk (you know the one.)
Or from cleaning the crayons off the wall.
Or from wiping away the tears and kissing a million boo boos.
Or from going from soccer practice, to piano, to gymnastics, to dance to....
Or from putting shoes away for the millionth time.
Or from cleaning squished up cookies out of the car seats.
Or from folding the 6th load of laundry today.
Or from saying "If I have to tell you ONE MORE TIME...."
Or from trying to figure out what's for dinner.
Or from just simply keeping people alive!
Maybe you're even exhausted from being exhausted. (It happens.)

Being a mom is rewarding.  It's fulfilling.  It's pretty awesome.  But, goodness, it is tiring! 

What nobody tells you before you had kids, is that it never gets any easier. You think "Once my baby starts sleeping through the night, I can handle this.", never considering that your baby might not sleep through the night ANYTIME soon. Or, not considering that once that baby DOES sleep through the night, she will just be learning to walk and pull everything off of every piece of furniture in your house.

It gets different, but it doesn't get easier.

Just when you finally have it under control and think to yourself "I've got this", you hit a new stage and realize you don't have a handle on anything.

And you know what?  We were created that way.  We weren't made to ever "get this" on our own.  As parents, we were created to have a partnership with our spouse to share the load.  But even more than that, we were created to have a relationship with one who made us. We were created to lean on Him, and RELY on Him to get us through each day.

There is a well known verse that takes on a total different meaning (at least to me) once you become a mom:

"Then Jesus said, come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

Matthew 11:28

He wants us to bring our worries to Him. He desires for us to have a relationship with Him.  He made us just for that.  And just like any good Father, he wants to help us when we need it.  He wants us to cry out to him when we are frustrated, when we are hurting, and when we are exhausted.

And to ease our exhaustion, he gives us daily reminders of why WE were chosen to be the moms of our little ones. He gives us fulfillment and shows us just how needed and valued we are when our little one...

Calls out for us (Mommy) in the middle of the night.
Runs to us with arms wide open.
Gives us sweet baby kisses.
Or sweet toothy (maybe toothless) smiles.
Cries out "Watch me, Mom!"
Asks us to lay down with them at night.
Offers to share their food. (Hey - for my 3 year old, this is a BIG deal!)
Asks us to wipe their tears.
Hugs us tight.
Face lights up when we get home from work.
Says "Thank you for my Mommy" when they say their bedtime prayers.
Comes to us with their troubles.
Copies every thing we do.
Asks us to hold them.
Gives us the best belly laughs.
Draws a picture just for Mom.
Wants to be our helper.
Kisses OUR boo boos.
Asks for snuggles.
Gives us butterfly kisses.
Tells us when they grow up, they are going to marry us.
Presents us with the "best" rocks they could find.
Waves to us from the stage of their school performance.
Lays their head on our shoulders.
Wants to be just like us, and walks around in our high heeled shoes.
Grabs our hand and holds on tight.
Trusts us with their secrets.
Asks to play princesses or pirates with them.
Looks to us for approval. 
Picks dandelions and wildflowers to give to us.
Asks for our advice.
Says "I love you".

They need us, and we need Him.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Psalm 23

Wow.  It seems as if church-goers across our state of SC have blown up on social media with regards to certain things that were said by a well known pastor, and the response a governing body has issued.  I have pretty strong thoughts on this, but I'll keep those to myself for now.  All I'll say is...




The LORD is my shepherd; 
I have all that I need. 
He lets me rest in green meadows; 
He leads me beside peaceful streams. 
He renews my strength. 
HE guides me along right paths, 
bringing honor to HIS NAME.

Psalm 23:1-3

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Girls

My mom came up for the day on Friday and spent the night with us.  We had lots of fun, but one thing I really wanted was for her to take a picture of me with my girls.  I don't have any!  How did that happen? :)  Probably because I'm usually BEHIND the camera, instead of in front of it.  

Anyway, I think we accomplished it!  It only took about 50 pictures to get a few good ones, but it was worth it. 



A close up of the littlest...
(And yes, I know that's not grammatically correct.)






Friday, January 9, 2015

Kisses from Kate

One of the biggest "problems" that we have with Kate is also one of the sweetest problems. She is ALWAYS in Karsten's face.  She likes to touch her face.  And if she wants to talk to Karsten, she thinks that she has to get down about 1 inch away from her face.  And, she LOVES giving Karsten kisses.

Admittedly, Kevin and I are somewhat of germaphobes.  Especially when our kids are babies. And especially when it is cold/flu season.  So, we are constantly correcting Kate about touching and being in Karsten's face.  But the kisses are sweet. And we're totally okay with it. 

I mean, who wouldn't want to kiss those sweet cheeks? 



My prayer is that these two girls grow up to be the best of friends.  I have a sister that is 2 years younger.  While we were really little, we probably got along pretty well.  I don't really remember. I guess I'd need to ask my parents!  But as middle schoolers and teenagers, we did not get along at all.  Maybe there was too much competition between us.  Who knows.  But now?  Best friends.  It might have taken us a while to get here, but I wouldn't have it any other way.





And maybe Kate will always want to give her little sister kisses. And maybe Karsten will always look at her big sister like this.



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Karsten: Three Months

It happened again.


Karsten is THREE months old.  This was her first "monthly birthday" that I didn't spend all day with her. Tear. :(  Just kidding.  I WAS at work, and had to rush to get these pictures taken before bath time, bottle time and bedtime. We're figuring out a routine. We're getting there.


I still can't believe this little one is three months old though. We're still using Size 1 diapers, though they are getting pretty tight! I tried to move her on up to Size 2's and they swallowed her whole!


She drinks about 4 oz at every feeding, but right before bed (around 8pm) she will drink up to 6-7 oz!  I wish that meant she would sleep longer, but she's still eating again at 10:30ish and then again at 4, before she wakes up for a bottle at 7am.


She has been rolling from her belly to her back since she was 9 days old, but she is THIS CLOSE to rolling from her belly to her back.  She actually did roll all the way over yesterday, but I'm not giving her credit because her arm was sort of in her way and she only stayed rolled over for about 5 seconds. I really think this is part of her nightime sleep issues. She really wants to be on her belly and this is when she practices. The problem is, when she is on her belly she wants to be on her back and quickly rolls over.  She's never satisfied.  She is a girl though, right? :) 


She loves to stand up and has gotten really good at it.  I wouldn't be surprised is she is an early walker, or even skips crawling all together.  Not that I WANT that.  I'd love to slow time down!  She likes to smile, coo and "talk" to us and we are totally in love.

Happy 3 month birthday, baby girl!



Saturday, January 3, 2015

Thirteen Weeks

Well, my time as a temporary stay at home mom is coming to an end.  I am so very thankful that I got to spend the last thirteen weeks with my girls, a full five weeks longer than I was able to stay at home when Kate was born. I think God knew I really needed this time with my girls, and it couldn't have worked out more perfectly for me. With the vacation time that I'd saved up, the parental leave time that my work gave me, and the fact that my time overlapped with some holidays, these last thirteen weeks have been so great.  Definitely not relaxing, but I sure got in some good quality time with both Kate and Karsten.

It has been so fun seeing Karsten roll over for the first time, smile at me, coo and laugh! And even more fun has been seeing Kate and Karsten start to interact with each other.  Kate loves being a big sister, and is a pretty bossy one!  She loves to sing to Karsten when she gets worked up, and often that will quiet Karsten's cries.  Karsten also rewards Kate with the biggest smiles, even bigger than the smiles she gives Mommy or Daddy!  I love the fact that I haven't "missed out" on any of her firsts, yet.

And though I'm so EXTREMELY thankful for these past thirteen weeks, they have flown by even faster than I imagined.  And now, they're over.

So Monday morning, bright and early, I'll be back in the office at my other job (you know, the one other than MOM).  I know I'll miss my two girls terribly, but I can't deny that I'm looking forward to having some conversations that involve something other than:

"Do you need to go potty?"

"Please don't touch your sister's face."

"Are you pretending to be a puppy again?"

"Please don't touch your sister's face."

"Are you playing dead again?"

"Please don't touch your sister's face."

"Thanks for being my helper! Can you throw this diaper away?"

"What is that in your mouth?"

"Did you really just draw on the wall AGAIN?"

Oh, and don't let me forget - "Please don't touch your sister's face!!"
(Can you tell what we've had trouble with?)

In the last thirteen weeks, I've said so many things that I would have NEVER thought would come out of my mouth.  We have used 45 gallons of hand sanitizer.  We've gotten about 5 total hours of sleep.  I've lost my patience plenty of times, raised my voice more than I care to admit, and gotten frustrated on many occasions.  But don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed this time.  A lot.  And it has been pretty stinking rewarding.  Especially when some of the things that I've been hearing back consist of:

"I love you Mommy."

"Mommy, can I have a hug/kiss?"

"Awww... Karsten's so cute!  Aren't you, Sweetheart?"

"Mommy, will you cuddle with me?"

"You're my favorite Mommy!" (Which she gets from me, because I tell her she's my favorite Kate!)

"Look, Mom! Karsten's wiggling! She's so funny."

Or, when Kate, Karsten and I are walking somewhere, and Kate looks at me and says "We're all sisters!"  Ha!  Then she corrects herself and says "We're all girls!"

But my VERY favorite is, of course (again):

"Mommy, I love you!"

I'm going to miss these two sweet girls each and every day, but I know they are being loved on and spoiled by their Nana and are in great hand!  And, come 5pm, I'll look forward to getting home and spending the evening with them before getting up the next day and doing the work thing all over again!

So, to round this all out, here is thirteen weeks of sweetness. I'd appreciate your prayers this week as we figure out our new normal and try to navigate some type of scheduled chaos in our family.

Oh, and pray that Karsten sleeps.  Or even that she just wakes up once a night.  This mama needs some sleep.



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bye Bye 2014!

It feels like I was JUST doing this for 2013, as I sat on the couch and watched the ball drop.  (I was a bit slack last year.)  Somehow 2014 is already over, and it's time for me to do another recap.  It has been an exciting year and just looking back makes me exhausted to see how much we packed into it! We may not take extravagant trips all over the world, and we may spend lots and lots of low key days at home, but we sure do fill our days, weeks and months with lots of family, friends and fun!  Here we go...


January
  • It SNOWED and Nana came over to have some fun in the snow with us! 
  • We had fun with all of our new Christmas toys and goodies.
  • I took Kristi & Davis's engagement pictures for the newspaper.
  • Kate's friend Sarah had a roller skating birthday party; Kate's first time on skates!
  • We had a great visit with Kate's birth parents. 

February
  • It snowed AGAIN!
  • We visited Gigi and Pick at their lake house.
  • We hosted small group at our house, which is Kate's favorite.  She and Conner had fun driving the John Deere Gator around.
  • We ate Mexican food at Mr. Salsa and someone REALLY enjoyed the salsa!
  • We FINALLY finished up our home study and ordered our profile books for our agency. It's official! We are waiting for a 2nd baby!

March
  • We had awesome weather for March and spent lots of time outside. 
  • The weather was so nice, we went to get ice cream!
  • We visited the zoo with Gigi, Pick, and Kristi.
  • We got the Jesus Storybook Bible, which has turned into one of our very favorite children's bibles.

April
  • We visited Gigi and Pick at the lake; we went fishing and rode on the boat!
  • We celebrated Easter with family, and even went to an Easter egg hunt!
  • Kate tried rollers for the first time. We were testing out a new style and hoping to use these for Kristi's wedding, but Kate would only let us keep them in her hair for about 20 minutes.  
  • We spent many Sunday afternoons picking flowers (azaleas and dandelions). Kate must be a romantic.

May
  • Kristi and Davis got married. Our entire family was in the wedding.  Kevin officiated, I was a bridesmaid and Kate was the flower girl.  Kate did a GREAT job, especially considering she was only 2 years old at the time!
  • We visited my parents at the lake (again) and Kate went tubing for the very first time. Her exact words were "Best day ever!!"
  • We celebrated Mother's Day, my 3rd as a mom!
  • Kate made her ballet debut in her first recital. She had so much fun she crashed another class's number after hers was over.
  • Kate finished up her second (and last) year of Mother's Day Out at a local church. She moved up to preschool in August!

June
  • We took a "staycation" at my parent's lake house and had a blast! Kate loved swimming, riding/driving the boat, and seeing friends and family.  Her Nana and Grandma Betty even came down for the day and went out on the boat with us!
  • We took our youth group to Carowinds, and Kate came along!  6 months later, it is STILL all she can talk about.  Carowinds is probably her favorite place on Earth right now!
  • Kevin celebrated his 3rd Father's Day as a Daddy!
  • Kate had her first major hair cut - almost 6 inches gone!
  • We had a great visit with Kate's birth parents at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. What a fun trip!

July
  • Pick turned SIXTY! We celebrated at the lake with cake and bowling, Kate's first bowling experience.  Of course, she loved it!  And to top it off, she just about beat us all!
  • We spent lots of time outdoors - playing with the water table, tricycle, and scooter!
  • We had friends over for the Fourth of July and shot off fireworks! The kids loved seeing them, but weren't a fan of the loud noise!

August
  • Kate turned THREE!  We celebrated with a small family party at home.  
  • Kate's last day of Mothers Day Out was last year, and so this year she started preschool.  She is in a 3K program.  It is crazy to think that we only have ONE more full school year before she starts kindergarten!
  • We also enrolled Kate in a tumbling class this fall. She has loved it, but we decided not to continue the class after December, because of the busy season of life we are in right now.
  • Kevin turned 41 and got a new gas grill for his birthday.  He also got the "gift" of a Georgia win over Clemson in the first game of the season.

September
  • We made a last minute decision to take a mini-vacation to Myrtle Beach and are SO glad we did. Turns out, this was our last get-away as a family of THREE! :) Kate had not been to the beach for an extended trip since she was 10 months old.  Behind Carowinds, Myrtle Beach is now her second favorite place on Earth!  
  • Kevin was also voted to be the Senior Pastor at our church in September!
  • Kevin and Ken took a trip to Indiana to spend time with their mom, who has been fighting cancer. 
  • After only a few months, I really felt like I needed to re-do our adoption profile books. I didn't have a ton of time to devote to them when they were originally done, because it was busy season, so after September 15th (our "second busy season"), I spend every night for a full week and updated our book.  I loved how they turned out.

October
  • During the first week in October, I dropped off our "new" books with our adoption agency.
  • Our church rescheduled our Fall Festival for the first weekend in October and we had PERFECT weather.  The kids had a blast, and Kate especially enjoyed getting her face painted like a pink Spiderman. 
  • I took Kate with me to get my hair cut, and brought the iPad to entertain her while she waited. She LOVED it because I'd loaded the movie Frozen on there for her. 
  • Kevin went on a golf trip and while he was gone, Kate got sick.  I ended up at the doctors office with her on Tuesday, October 7th for a nasty respiratory thing she had going on.  And while we were there we got a call that...
  • WE GOT A BABY!  Karsten Rose had been born the day before and her birth mom had selected our family.  Kevin drove home from North Carolina, we took Kate to her Nana's house (since she was still sick) and were at the hospital the following morning to pick up our youngest daughter.  Crazy how our world turned upside down in just a few short hours! (See bottom-left picture above.)
  • After staying with her Nana and Papa for a few days, Kate was STILL sick.  My mom had been staying with us to help with Karsten, and since Kate was still sick, she took her home to their house to recuperate a little more so she didn't get Karsten sick.  They ended up at the doctor again, and it turns out she had pneumonia. Poor kid!  She was a trooper and I know she soaked up every minute with her Nana, Papa, Gigi and Pick. She was NOT starved for attention.
  • FINALLY, we got both girls at home under one roof and Kate got to meet her baby sister.  She LOVES her. Her first words when seeing Karsten were "Awwww. She's so cute! I always wanted a baby!"
  • After Kate being gone for over a week, I wanted to do something special for her after she felt 100% again.  I took her for a Mommy/Kate day to a local pumpkin patch and lunch.
  • We celebrated Halloween.  Kate was a cowgirl!
  • Sadly, Kevin's mom lost her battle with cancer and passed away on October 30th. 

November
  • Kevin took Kate to her very first Georgia game in Athens, while Karsten and I went to my parent's house to watch Clemson play.  House divided!
  • We took a day trip to Gumlog, Georgia with some of Kevin's family to see where he grew up and eat at their favorite restaurant- Gumlog BBQ. 
  • Karsten turned one month old! 
  • Kate finally got to shower her little sister with hugs and kisses.
  • I took our Christmas card pictures, and Kate perfected the art of the "fake smile".  Future pictures should be interesting.
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with Kevin's family at his Dad and Diane's house. Kate and Karsten were both spoiled with attention, but Karsten especially so.  She didn't want to sleep for days after that unless someone was holding her!
  • After Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas tree, pulled out Christmas pajamas, and did some winter art projects!

December
  • Kate's preschool class put on a Christmas performance for the parents.  They sang multiple Christmas songs, and Kate really got into it!  Not that she enjoys attention or anything... :) 
  • Kate and I made Christmas cookies.  It was a mess and took FOREVER so I'm not sure this will be an annual thing, but Kate enjoyed it!  We'll have to do it again at least once when Karsten gets a bit older!
  • Kate was selected to model a few headbands for an Etsy shop.  
  • A week before Christmas, we finalized Karsten's adoption in family court.  She is forever a part of our family, and we wouldn't have it any other way. This girl sure is loved.
  • Two days before Christmas, we were given 2 tickets to the play Beauty and the Beast so Kate and I could go.  We had a blast!
  • We spent lots of the month just spending time with family and friends, and loved it. 
  •  Karsten turned two months old.  The days have been flying by!
  • We spent Christmas at home with family. Each year gets more and more fun as I can see the excitement in Kate's eyes.  I know it is just going to continue to get better as both of my girls get older.  But, beyond all of their anticipation, we know that the real gift of Christmas is Jesus and celebrating his birth is so much more exciting than anything else!
  • Somehow, I turned 29... again.  Just kidding.  Since I turned 25 my dad has been saying I'm 30, because he "rounds up".  I guess now he can say it and actually be right! The next 30 years have a lot to live up to!
2014 definitely had it's share of sad and disappointing times.  We found out Kevin's mom had cancer and she was gone only a few short months later.  We waited for nearly a year for a child, and though I didn't share a ton of it on the blog, we were told NO more times than we could count. But God knew what was in store for our family, and that Karsten was on her way.  He knew that SHE was the daughter He had planned for us, and we couldn't be more grateful.  Kate has grown so much in the past year, and is loving her role as big sister.  Kevin and I can't believe how much our lives have changed in just one single year.  It has been a crazy year!  And though there were plenty of down times through the year, the overwhelming majority of 2014 was full of joy, happiness, blessings, and thankfulness.  We can't wait to see what is in store for 2015!

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