Thursday, May 21, 2015

Last Day of Preschool

Tuesday was Kate's last day of preschool.  And just like that, another school year has come and gone.

 

The past 2 years Kate went to a Mother's Day Out program at a local church a few days a week.  This year, she was enrolled at a different church's preschool program. This was her first year of real preschool (ie - structured learning) and she did so well! I am honestly shocked at just how much her teachers covered in a single year.  And I might also add, that she was only there on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8:30-11:30, so it's not like they had that much time, but boy did she learn!

Throughout the year, she learned shapes, colors, learned to identify and write numbers, basic addition and subtraction, holidays, nature, health, safety, etc.  And most importantly, each day she was taught about Jesus.  She had a great teacher, and overall, had another great school year!

Here she is acting silly while Mommy tried to get a picture before her last day.


And a few more, since I just can't resist.

 


And while we're at it, let's look back at a few pictures from Kate's FIRST day of school- all the way back in August 2014.




If you'd asked me before I looked at these pictures, I really didn't think that Kate had changed all that much since the beginning of the school year.  Boy was I wrong.  She is such a big girl now!



Friday, May 8, 2015

When Mother's Day is Hard...


To the childless on Mother’s day –

I get it. I do. Mother’s day isn’t easy when you don’t have a child to hold, or hug, or talk to, when more than anything, you want that. When you wish your night-time routine took two hours and involved bathing a little one, rubbing down tiny arms with lavender scented baby lotion, zipping up sweet PJ's and singing a lullaby, instead of a quick 10 minutes of washing your face, brushing your teeth and jumping under the covers. It's so hard to have that yearning, but not have something that so many other moms are experiencing - a child. And not having a child on Mother's day makes the second Sunday in May so much more difficult.

I don’t know your reason for not having a child with you on this day…

Maybe you have struggled with infertility and have yet to experience motherhood.

Maybe you have had a child who has passed away and won’t have a little (or big) one to hold onto. 

Maybe you don’t have a good relationship with your child, or maybe you have no relationship at all.

Maybe aren't holding that sweet baby because you selflessly chose adoption for your child, and made another mom’s dreams come true.

Whatever the reason, Mother’s day won’t be easy for you because it brings up pain, or longing, that is within you.

And I get it. I really do.

Because I was there once, too.

There was a time when I was SO ready to be a mom, but God said, “Not yet. Wait.” I had no idea what was in store, but He did! And can I just say, “Wow.”

His plan was better, greater, larger, and so much more desirable than anything I could have come up with on my own. But I’m no future teller. I sure didn’t know what was coming up for our family while I was waiting. All I knew was that I was still waiting to be a mom, and it stunk. I mean let’s be honest, who really enjoys waiting?

And let’s be a little more honest, when you’re waiting, do you really find comfort in the words “worth the wait”? Because I sure didn’t. I mean I knew it was true, but there’s no real comfort in that. It doesn’t change the fact that you’re still waiting. Yes, you completely understand that your child will be SO worth the wait, but just hearing those words doesn’t make waiting any easier. So for the waiting mom, I offer no words of comfort, since my words are probably meaningless to you. Instead, I offer my prayers for you- for you to have hope, for you to have peace, and for you to find joy in the everyday life while you wait. My words won’t comfort you, but His words will never disappoint.

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:14

To the mom who’s child has passed away, I am broken for you. I hurt for you. I can’t imagine your pain, and I hope I never have to experience it myself. My words won’t heal your broken heart, but hopefully His words and His promises can bring you comfort.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Isaiah 43:2

To the mom who has a strained relationship with your child, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you don’t have the relationship you’d dreamed of. I don’t know what your circumstances are, but all you can control is your own words and actions and trust that you have done your part. God has promised that this life is not an easy one, and some have heavier burdens to bear than others. Find your strength in Him and Him alone.

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.”
Ephesians 3:16

To the mom who made an adoption plan for your child, you are my hero. Because of two very special birth moms like you, I personally get to celebrate this day as a mom. I know today is difficult for you, maybe more than you think you can bear, but be encouraged knowing that your child is so very loved! Because of your selfless and sacrificial decision, your child is loved by so many more people than most children will ever get to claim. Adoption is a gift. It's a gift that may simultaneously bring you joy and sorrow. My prayer for you is peace- peace that is found only in Him.

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world!"
John 16:33

So to all of those who are struggling on this Mother’s day, take comfort in knowing that only He can heal your brokenness. And He will! Maybe not in the way that you hope or plan for, but quite possibly in an even better way! Maybe He makes you a Mommy when that is your dream. Maybe He gives you strength when you couldn't do it on your own. Maybe he gives you the ability to minister to others in a way you never would have been able to, because of the unique experiences that you have been through. So take heart!

And though it may not be easy for you, make every effort to be happy and joyful for all those Moms out there who are celebrating Mother’s day without pain in their hearts. Remember that they might have been right where you are not all that long ago…




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Karsten: Seven Months

Here we are again.  Karsten is now seven months old.  Seven months, y'all.


That's the amount of time that we waited for a baby after our homestudy was finalized and we were "officially" a waiting family.  Though I do have to point out that it took us a good 8 months to even get to the waiting stage.  

And once we go there, we waited seven months.  Those seven months of waiting passed by SO slowly.

But these past seven months have not passed slowly AT ALL.  We've had this sweet girl in our arms for seven whole months, and it doesn't even seem like it's possible that it has been that long.  But it has.


Her smile makes us smile.  Her laugh makes us laugh.  Her joy is contagious. She is ours and she is perfect.

Here is what this girl is up to at seven months old...

She is wearing size 3 diapers. Size 2 still fits but we went with the next size up so it will last all night long.

Karsten is rolling over both ways...

And sitting up all by herself!


She will give you "two hands" if you ask her to.

She will give her mama kisses when I ask for them- but only Mama!

She loves, loves, loves her big sister Kate!


Karsten is obsessed with our dogs and tries to grab them when we are outside.

She is pushing up, but not yet attempting to crawl. I think she's not too far off though.

She is still drooling all over the place and chewing on her hands, but no teeth!


We've started solids and she has tried so many foods - apples, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, green peas, bananas, peaches, and probably some more that I'm forgetting.  She's not a fan of the green stuff right now, but loves anything yellow or orange, and loves oatmeal.

And drumroll please, she is actually starting to sleep at night! Woohoo!!  She goes to bed around 8 and will sleep til 6ish.  We can usually give her a paci and she will last until 630 or sometimes even 7 before eating. Y'all. We feel like new people. I would still not call us well-rested, but Kevin and I are no longer a hazard to society.

Karsten is definitely my hip baby.  Kate was so independent and even at just a few months old, she wanted to do things herself.  Karsten is the opposite.  She is a mamas girl and wants to be held all the time, so she is most often on my hip.  In the evenings, Kevin, Kate and I will eat dinner at the table and we'll put Karsten in her exercauser right beside us.  She is NOT happy until I pick her up and put her in my lap.  This girl doesn't want to miss out on anything.


We have a pretty good routine going. For my own reference, here's what her 7 month routine is like:

7:00           Bottle and back to bed
9:30ish      Wakes for the day
10:00         Bottle and then solids
11:30ish    Nap
1:00           Bottle (we're about to add solids here too)
3:30ish      Nap
4:30ish      Wake from nap
5:30           Bottle and then solids
7:00           Bath
8:00           Bottle and bed


It is so crazy to think that seven months have gone by, but somehow they have. And this little girl has gone from a tiny infant, to a bubbling happy baby with tons of personality.  Our whole family is so in love with this sweet girl.  Just look at how she's changed...

 
 
 

 




Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pre-Bedtime Pictures

Night time seems to be the best time of the day to snap a few pictures of my girls.  More specifically, RIGHT before bed.  After both girls have been bathed, lotioned up and PJs put on.






Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sisters


This girl. She is miss independent.  Always has been.  The task at hand might be something impossibly hard, but she is going to try to do it all by herself.

She is strong willed.  She's a daddy's girl. She is hilarious. She is always on the go, always running, and ALWAYS talking.

Girl doesn't stop.

She is our oldest, and she is the girl that made me a mama.


And this girl.  We're starting to discover her personality.  


She is a mamas girl through and through.  (But of course she loves her Daddy and sister, too!)


She has a sweet spirit but definitely knows how to turn on the screams to make her intentions and wants known!  


She is my little cuddler and my night owl.

She is the one that made us a family of FOUR.


It's too early to say that our girls have nothing in common.  In fact, even at 6 months old, Karsten reminds me of Kate in so many different ways. She will act in a way that gives me a sense of deja vu and I will feel like I've been transported back 3.5 years to when Kate was 6 months old. 

But I will say that we can already see how different their personalities are.  As they get older, they may not share the same interests.  They may not be involved in the same activities, or sports.  One may love sports and the other may be into music or books.  Who knows what they'll end up enjoying!  The point is, they may not have a whole lot in common.  

But that won't matter. Because they will always be sisters. 


There will always be that bond.


 They will be there for each other.


They will make each other laugh.  And cry. 

By the way, the next picture makes me laugh... Kate was pouting because she "didn't wanna be in the picture".


I know we will have rough days ahead.  That's just part of having two girls (or kids in general).  I grew up with a sister, so I know at least a little bit of what is in store.  Right now, my girls love each other.  Of course they love each other, but right now, they LOVE each other.  They get along.  They "play" together (as much as you can with a 6 month old.) They aren't to an age where they are fighting... yet.

But I know it's coming.  Before too long, the competitiveness and the jealousy will set in.  And they will fight. They will be mean to each other.  At times they will not like each other.  They will yell at each other. There will be tears.

But in the midst of all of the fighting, they will still be sisters. And one day, maybe not until they are both grown and out of our house,  they will realize just how special they are to each other.  They will "get" what it means to be sisters.


And I'm so thankful they will have each other.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Karsten: Six Months

I was texting Karsten's birth mom yesterday and neither one of us could believe it has been 1/2 of a year since this sweet baby girl was born.  Today she turns six months old.  Excuse me for a minute while I go cry about the fact that we no longer have an infant.  Though if you'd talk to Kevin, he might still call her an infant since she sleeps like one.  I digress. And I exaggerate. Her sleep is getting better. At least it has been for the past few nights.

Regardless, our BABY is now six whole months old.  Here is what she's up to.


She is wearing Size 3 diapers.  They are probably a TAD big on her, but they work and she's growing so we're going with it.  She weighs around 16.5 pounds and just seems so teeny to me, but I know she is not.  Especially when I look back at her newborn pictures, I realize just how big she has gotten!


Karsten just started solids in the last week or so.  We played around with food a tad last month, but we've started consistently feeding her just lately. We started off with rice cereal.  She didn't get it.  She would immediately stick her tongue in front of her lips to block out the spoon.  We tried the rice cereal a few times and then moved on to oatmeal.  She is a much bigger fan of oatmeal.  She still hasn't completely mastered the concept of opening her mouth for the spoon and swallowing, but she's getting there.  And we THINK it has helped with her sleep.



Speaking of sleep, she was doing GREAT around 5.5 months old.  We would feed her and put her to bed at 8, and then feed her another bottle when we went to bed around 10:30.  And then she would sleep until 7am.  It was WONDEROUS!  I mean seriously.  Best sleep we've had in 5.5 months.  She was consistently sleeping this way too.  We were thrilled.  And then, she reverted back to newborn status.  Waking every 2 hours.  That one week of GOOD sleep was such a teaser!

I told Kevin that I thought she had hit a growth spurt.  We're hoping that is the case and that the great, fantastic, AMAZING sleep will be back soon.


For my own reference, here is her general schedule at 6 months old:
7am            Wake and Bottle.  Back to bed after she finishes.
9:30am       Wake
10am          Bottle and Oatmeal
11:45am     Nap
2pm            Bottle
3:45pm       Nap
5:30pm       Bottle and Oatmeal (maybe a short cat nap while the rest of us eat dinner if she needs it)
8:15pm       Bottle and Bed
** We typically give her another bottle around 10:30 or 11 before we go to bed to help her last til morning.


We have been making a conscious effort to get in more tummy time lately.  She has generally hated it, but is tolerating it more and more.  She is pushing up on her arms further each day, but isn't quite to the point of lifting her body or getting her legs up under her. So I'm hoping this means she's not too close to crawling.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want her to be delayed, but I'm definitely enjoying the non-mobile stage!


If you hold out your hands to her and say "give me both hands", she will grab your hands with both of hers.  This is something Diane has taught her and Karsten has it down!


This girl is a vocal little thing, for sure.  She is so stinking loud!  I will have her playing on a blanket in one room, and go to another room to do a few things.  The next thing I know, I'll hear her YELLING from all the way across the house. She almost sounds upset.  So I'll go check on her, and nope.  She's not crying. She's not upset. She's not fussing. She is just LOUD.

She is definitely a Mama's girl.  Kate can get the biggest smiles out of her, but I'm a close second.  Kevin gets frustrated sometimes because I'll be doing something to make her smile or laugh, and he'll do the exact same thing and she looks at him like he is crazy, but gives him no smiles.  Then I'll do it again and she'll bust out with a grin.  I tell him it's payback.  Kate was a Daddy's girl.


She loves, loves, LOVES to stand up in your lap and bounce.  Her little legs are so strong and she will bounce and jump on her own for such a long time.  This is one of the reasons we're encouraging the tummy time.  We want the kid to crawl first instead of going straight to walking!

She is cuddly and sweet, and I just love my nighttime snuggles more than I care to admit.  I am generally the one to give her the very last bottle of the day, and I stretch it out a lot longer than I need to.  I love when she stares up at me and runs her fingers through my hair.  She's not much of a hair puller (unless it is Kate's hair), but she does love to play with my hair.  And when she is tired, she loves to bury her head in crook of my neck.  Melts my heart.


Thank you, God, for bringing this baby girl into our lives.  Thank you for making us parents to another little girl. Thank you for her birth mother, who carried this child for 9 months and then chose US to be her family forever. Thank you for the relationships that we are building with Karsten's birth family, and that she will always be able to know who and where she comes from. Thank you for the love, laughter, joy, excitement and FUN that she has brought to us all over the last 6 months!  I am sure the next 6 months will fly by just as quickly!  Where is the pause button??? :)  We are so thankful and grateful for this special gift!

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015

Easter!  So today was a pretty exciting day, but before we get there, let's back up to last night.

I'd hung Kate's new Easter dress on her closet door and she saw it hanging there when we went in her room to put on her pajamas.  She was SO excited to see her dress.  She has been asking to wear it for a few weeks now, and I keep telling her "it's your EASTER dress", so she's been practicing patience.  NOT an easy task for a 3.5 year old.

When she realized she would get to wear her dress the next day, she was ecstatic.  Karsten has a very similar Easter dress (similar in style, not in color) and so Kate was looking forward to "matching" her sister.

We went in the bathroom to brush her teeth and Kate spotted the curlers.  She asked for me to put them in her hair, so I did.  As I was rolling everything up, I asked if there was a princess that had curly hair, and if that's why she wanted it.  She said "No. I want to match Karsten."

Awww.



This was the first time she actually slept in the curlers. I've put them in her hair before, but after about 20 minutes she is usually through.  She stuck with it this time, and I'm glad she did!



Tada! She was so proud of herself.


Okay, now. Easter.  What a special day!  This morning I served in our Children's class during church, so I missed the message.  But I'm pretty sure I know what it was about. 

Our kids sang during the service and did a GREAT job singing "Oh, Happy Day".  Kate and I have been practicing in the car often, so she knew the words pretty well.  And the girl is not stage-shy at all.  Anybody remember that stage dive she took a few years ago?  Ha!  

My parents joined us at church, and afterward they came over to our house for lunch.  Kristi and Davis met us there.  But before we ate, we had to take a few pictures, of course!


See that finger going toward Karsten's mouth?  Yeah. We're still struggling with the "don't touch her face" thing.  




I'm pretty sure our kids cooperate while taking pictures with other people more than they do with Kevin and me.  It seriously should not be THAT hard to get two kids to look in the same direction. I've given up on trying to get smiles. 



I asked Kate this evening what her favorite part about today was.  This is something I like to ask her each day, just to hear what she says.  Today, she said "um.... Easter eggs.  I liked finding the eggs!"  I could probably have called that one if I'd thought about it.  Hearing her squeal when she took off running for the eggs was priceless!

And when she'd found them all, she dumped them out on the ground and had her Daddy help her count them. :)


Still can't believe she is mine.  We are so thankful for both of our sweet girls. 


But more than that, we are thankful for Jesus- for his birth, for his death, and for his resurrection.  He is alive!  The tomb is empty.  I am so grateful, and thankful, for the cross.

Jesus has overcome,
And the grave is overwhelmed. 
The victory is won. 
He is risen from the grave. 

And I will rise
When he calls my name.
No more sorrow.
No more pain. 

I will rise on eagles wings. 
Before my God, fall on my knees. 
And rise.
I will rise.

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