Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer time!

What says "summer time" more than a popsicle on the back porch on a HOT afternoon?


Saturday, July 11, 2015

4th of July Catch-up

Well last weekend was the 4th of July, and it was a busy one!  I had Friday off of work, and went ahead and took Thursday off as well.  So Thursday morning, the girls and I hopped in the car to head to the lake!  Kevin was golfing, and he met us there after he finished up.

Thursday was  GREAT lake day.

And unfortunately, Friday and Saturday were pretty overcast and rainy, so we did not end up on the lake again. Bummer.  However, Kevin and I DID get to sneak in a date night and go to see Jurassic World on Friday while my parents babysat.  Score!  We hardly ever do anything with just the 2 of us anymore, so it was nice to have a kid-free night.

We headed home on Saturday and didn't even stay up for fireworks.  Our kids were exhausted from the lake fun, and Karsten had been extra fussy.  Turns out that she had an ear infection and that was the cause of her fussiness.  

I did get a couple of pictures in their 4th of July apparel...

And you see Kate's skirt?  She LOVES skirts and dresses like this.  She calls them her twirl dresses.  I bet you can guess why.  This is what she does when she is wearing them...


I sure do love this girl, and her sister! They make us smile and laugh every single day.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Karsten: Nine Months

Almost exactly a year ago I posted this to Instagram:

And now we’re celebrating this:

How fitting is that verse? In July 2014, we had no idea what was coming up for our family, or when, but God did. He knew that Karsten had already been created and in three short months would be a part of our family. To us it seemed slow, but God knew she would surely come. He is so good!

And now this sweet girl is NINE months old. Nine!

So here's what she's up to these days...

Last month she said her first word, “Dada”. This month she has added two more words to her vocabulary. My favorite, of course, is “Mama”, which she says constantly. She has also added “hey” to the mix.

She started “crawling” at 8 month old, which was more of a scooting on her belly. She sure was working on those arm muscles though. As of just a couple of days ago, she is now crawling the “right” way. Climbing onto things (fireplace). She is pulling up on anything she can reach, and I’ll often go into her bedroom in the morning to find her standing up and looking over her crib at me. She is even starting to cruise around furniture. She will occasionally let go and attempt to stand on her own, but quickly falls back down. She does like to hold our hands and walk all over the place, though she really isn’t all that steady yet. 

She went to the doctor on her actual 9 month birthday (Monday, July 6th) and these are her stats:

18 lbs 11 oz (60%)
28.5 inches long (83%)

Sleep – Awesome.  Except for this last week.  We won't count that though.  When we went to the doctor on Monday, I asked them to check her ears (though I'm sure they would have anyway).  She had been fussy over the weekend, but I honestly thought that since she currently has ZERO teeth, she may be teething.  I figure they are all going to pop through at once and be super painful.  Anyway, she was cranky, but really only cranky in the evening and at night, and she had been pulling on her ears a little.  The doctor checked her ears and yep, they are infected. So baby girl has her very first official ear infection and is on her first antibiotic.  Let me tell you, we are ALL ready for her to be off of it. Whew.  She is a trooper though.

She is starting to eat lots of solids and would rather have real food than a bottle.  We started her with puffs and yogurt melts and she LOVES them.  She does not, however, like stage 3 (chunky) baby foods.  I guess it is the texture or something but she gags on that stuff.  Gotta say I wouldn't be thrilled by it either

Other fun things to note:
She will wave at people and say “Hey!”
She gives wet sloppy kisses, mostly to Mama.
She is a total Mama's girl and is getting pretty spoiled. The ear infection made her clingy but she likes to be held anyway.

Nine months sure have flown by!  This is craziness, I tell you!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grace, Mercy & Discipline

About a week ago, our family made a quick stop at the grocery store on our way home from dinner. Instead of lugging two tired girls into the store, we just decided that Kevin would run in to get the few things we needed, and I’d just wait in the car. Kate begged to go in, and I told her that she just needed to be patient and wait with in the car with me. She continued to beg, so Kevin got her out to take her into the store with him.

As they were walking in, Kevin was trying to grab Kate’s hand. She was frustrated and she jerked away. And then they had this little conversation…

Kate: “She is SO ANNOYING.”
Kevin: “Who is?”
Kate: “My mom. She never lets me do ANYTHING!”

Ouch. (And by the way, we have a 3 year old, but doesn’t it sure sound like we have a 15 year old?)

Let me be honest. I am struggling. Struggling to know how to exercise grace and mercy with my 3 year old, while still enforcing discipline.

You see, Kate is strong willed. She is VERY strong willed. Even that adjective might not be strong enough for Miss Kate. The definition “threenager” completely applies to her.

In her mind:
She knows it all.
She can do it all.
She makes the rules.
She is in charge.
She has an opinion on everything.

Who knew you were a grown person at three years old? She really thinks this. She tells me all the time “When I was a little girl…” and is just beyond shocked when I tell her “Kate, you still ARE a little girl.”

And, you know, she is really good at trying to convince us that she IS right:
She is a negotiator.
She is a manipulator.
She is stubborn.
She is independent.
She is so very smart.

She is what we will affectionately call “spirited”, and I love her so much it hurts.

If we give her an inch, she takes not just one mile, but 50 miles. And I am not exaggerating. Not even slightly. So to say that we have to be diligent in our discipline is an understatement. We cannot give in to her, or she thinks that she really IS in charge and she completely takes advantage of it.

However, I don’t want her to perceive us, her parents, as dictators and punishers. Yes, we do punish her, but we don’t want her to think that is all we do. We want her to understand mercy and grace and what that means. How much easier must it be for a child to understand God’s mercy and His grace, and what that means for them, when they have received mercy and grace from their own parents?

But how do we accomplish that? How to we let her experience mercy and grace without just letting her get away with whatever she wants. Because that just wouldn’t work.

In my opinion, the best way to show our kids mercy and grace is when they mess up.  If they mess up, or if they accidentally do something that causes negative consequences, they might deserve to be disciplined, but it is a perfect time for us to show them mercy and grace. It is the perfect time for us to explain “Yes, you did this and you deserve to receive some type of punishment, right? But I know you did not do this on purpose. I know you made a mistake. So this time, I will not give you any consequences. But, what can we do to make sure that this does not happen again? You’re not getting a free pass. You can learn from this. What have you learned?”

You see, we can still learn while receiving grace and mercy, and isn’t that the point of discipline? Focus on the Family has a great chart that shows the purpose of discipline. It specifically defines the purpose of discipline as to “train for correction and maturity”.

I am thankful for a Creator who freely gives us both grace and mercy, if we choose to put our trust in the Son, Jesus Christ. We are bestowed mercy when we are not punished for our sins, as we deserve. Mercy is NOT getting what we DO deserve. We deserve hell, but we are delivered from judgement through Jesus Christ.

But when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-5

I’m thankful for God’s grace, and for the blessings and kindness that He gives us, though I am not worthy. Grace is a gift, it is getting something we DO NOT deserve.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

I want my children to experience grace and mercy from their parents. And above that, I want them to know that they have parents who mess up and daily receive grace and mercy from our heavenly father. As parents, we’re to lead by example. And leading a strong-willed child is no easy task.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Family Lake Day 2015

Each year, my Aunt and Uncle rent a house for the week on an upstate lake near Clemson. Different people come and go throughout the week, but it seems like one Saturday ends up being "the day" that most people gather together. We have been the past few years and always end up having a blast.  Last year, the lake day kicked off our family vacation. 

I don't think anybody had more fun than Kate did.  She was on high-speed the entire day, and never took a break.  It all started out with paddle boarding with my cousin, Mark, who became her favorite person of all time by the end of the day. (Sorry, Davis!)


I was worried about how Karsten would do, since we left our house at 9ish and knew she most likely wouldn't get a morning nap. She did awesome and for the most part, smiled all day long. I think she had fun. :)

Those curls. I heart them so much.

See? She's not having any fun at all.

And more paddle boarding.  We spent time with family that we don't get to see very often, and in typical Kate fashion, nobody was a stranger. She made herself right at home with everyone.  We had two boats for the day, and Kate purposefully chose to be on whatever boat Kevin and I were NOT on. 

After lunch, Karsten took a good nap in a pack-n-play that we'd set up in the house. And then she was back at it for boating.  She was still tired, so she kicked back most of the afternoon and didn't mind to be held. 

 We headed over to the big rock wall where everyone jumps off.  As we drove up to it, some of the guys in my family swam over.  They climbed off and jumped off of the rock, which was probably 30ish feet high, maybe higher.  Kate saw what they were doing and immediately started yelling at me "I'm a good jumper Mommy.  I'm a GREAT jumper. I'm a GOOD jumper.", thinking that we would let her go jump off the rock.  My little daredevil.

 We did let her jump off a slightly smaller rock. :)

You can't really tell it, but she is arguing with Kevin in this picture, because she wants to go up higher, where Joe and Christopher are.  She wasn't happy jumping off of her little rock.

Two minutes after we were in the car to drive home, both kids were asleep.  Sign of a great day.

And today was Father's Day!  Of course I had to get a picture of the day.  These two girls are so lucky to call him Daddy.  He loves them more than they will know, and I love seeing the three of them together. 


What a weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

We Are Family

For my mom's birthday (and Mother's Day), we gave her a family photo session.  Except for Kristi and Davis's wedding, I don't know if we have ever gotten good pictures of all of us, and definitely not since Karsten was born. Thanks to Casey Mlinar with Blissful Photography for the great pictures.  Get ready for picture overload.  Sorry not sorry.


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