Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Zoos, Malls and Birth Families

A few weeks back, we left home early one Saturday morning to meet Kate's birth mom Lori, Lori's husband Tony, and their nearly 10 month old daughter Anneliese at the ZOO.  The last time we were at this zoo was before Karsten was born, so both kids were SO excited. 

We got there before Lori and her crew, so we went inside and waited near the seals. The girls loved it. 

And you know what I love? These three.  They are my favorite. 

After we all got to see each other for a few minutes, Kate took the map and decided to be our leader. The girl loves her maps. And she also likes being in charge. 

This is Kate and her half sister Anneliese. They really look so much alike. 

We tried to get a picture of all three girls. Anneliese was not a fan. Getting a picture of a 6 year old, a 3 year old and a 10 month old is no easy task!

We are thankful that Kate regularly gets to see and talk to her birth family!  

Then last weekend, we got to spend some time with Karsten's birth family!  We met at the mall and ate dinner together. Then we took the kids to the play area inside the mall and walked around a bit.  Sweet time together with Karsten's birth mom and her half siblings!

We are also so thankful that Karsten gets to have relationships with her birth family too!  When we were waiting for baby #2, one thing we specifically prayed for was that we would be able to have another wonderful open adoption.  Words can't express how grateful we are that this prayer was answered the way we hoped!  We love Miss Andrea and her kids! 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

World Adoption Day 2017

Today is World Adoption Day.  Never heard of it?  Well to be honest, neither had I until about 3 years ago.   Back when I took this picture on November 9, 2014...

Do you spy a sleeping Karsten in this picture? She was only a month old but I couldn't leave her out! I took this picture very sleep deprived and trying to figure out the whole "mom of two" deal.  Three years later and I'm not sure that I'll ever actually figure that one out! 

The next year (2015), we all got into the picture with our smiley hands.

Last year Kevin and I were in Las Vegas 

And this year - we did it again! 

What is World Adoption Day?  It's simply a day to raise awareness of adoption, and to celebrate family.  I love this tradition of ours.  Kate and Karsten have known of adoption for their entire lives.  They might not be able to explain every detail about it, but they know that it is how our family grew to include them, and they know it is something very special.  We want them to be proud of how they came into our family. 

Six years ago (August 2011) and three years ago (October 2014), Kevin and I got two of the very best gifts ever when they were placed in our arms.  Their birth families chose to selflessly place their daughters with our family. We thank God daily that He led them to us and that they trusted us to be their parents. When you know our story, and all the details that God worked out to knit our family together, you'll understand why I talk about adoption all the time.  It made me a mom. And that's why I will always be an advocate for adoption.    

World Adoption Day 2017: 

What's even better than an earthly adoption?  A spiritual adoption!  Want to know more?  Send me an email! kelleyandkevin(at)yahoo(dot)com

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, "Abba, Father."
Romans 8:15

Sunday, November 5, 2017


I did a great job of writing down most of the cute/funny things that Kate would say when she was younger, and in typical 2nd child fashion, I've done a not-so-good job of doing that with Karsten. BUT, I do have a few that I've saved up over the last little bit.

Karsten has pretty much stopped doing this, but when she was younger (maybe around age 2 - 2 and a half), she had a pretty hilarious saying when she would get mad.  If you told her something that she didn't like, she would look at you, cross her arms, stomp her foot and say "all da timmmee".  I have no idea where she got this and can only think she was trying to say something like "you tell me no all the time", but all that she really would say is "all da time".  Too funny.

On the weekend college football started back, Georgia played a night game.  The girls got to see the first few minutes, but then it was time for bed.  I got Karsten ready and told her I'd meet her in her room after I finished with Kate.  Well, when I finished getting Kate's bedtime bathroom things done (brush teeth, medicines, etc), I left the bathroom and went into Karsten's room. Karsten wasn't there. I found her in mine and Kevin's room.  She was on our bed, and had somehow figured out how to turn the TV on, turn on the Roku and change the channel to the Georgia game.  I laughed at her and said "Karsten? What are you doing?"  She looked at me and said "I gotta watch Georgia play on PBSPN". Clearly she watches a lot of PBS.

Kate's school uses the ClassDojo App to keep parents informed of their child's progress, behavior, activities, etc. Every day, Kate tells me how many "Dojo Points" she earned that day, and I ask if she LOST any "Dojo Points" for bad behavior. (They can trade in earned points for rewards.) Karsten goes to my mother in law's house each day but wants to be just like Kate, so each day she tells me how many "Jojo Points" she got at Nana's house. Yesterday she said, "I lost all of my 'Jojo Points' because I pee peed in my pull up." It's so funny to hear her come up with stories on why she earns or loses points each day.

Karsten: Let's go to Mr. Bunkers!!!
Me: Huh?
Karsten: Mr. Bunkers!
Me: I don't know what Mr. Bunkers is.
Karsten points to the Clemson sticker on the back of my car - THATs Mr. Bunkers.
Me: Ohhhh - Mr. Knickerbockers?
Karsten: Yea. That's what I said. Mr. Bunkers.

Karsten clearly understood that Halloween meant dressing up, but didn't really "get" the whole concept.  On Halloween night, after about an hour of walking and trick or treating, I could tell Karsten was starting to get tired. We took the stroller but she wanted to be a big kid and walk the whole time.  Finally, she looked up and me and said "Mommy.  I'm tired of walking. When are we going to get to Halloween??"

I wish I could somehow relay tone of voice through here, but I can't. So this won't be as funny or cute but I hope that years from now when I read this, I'll be able to hear her sweet voice in my head: 
Karsten has been exploring ways to express herself when she's happy, surprised, etc.  Kate often says "Oh man!" to show her shock.  Karsten has tried out "Oh wow!" and "Oh my!" but the latest is "Ohhhhh snap!"  The voice she gets when she says this is hilarious though.  She tells us "That's what Mr. Pickles says." so it must be from something on TV. Where ever it came from, I hope it stays around for a bit! 

This girl is getting funnier by the day, and keeps us all laughing. We love her so!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trick or Treat

Yesterday was Halloween.  Shocker, right? I'm sure you have all seen millions of pictures on Facebook and Instagram of people's kids all dressed up.  If you're totally over it, then just skip right past this because guess what I'm about to do.

Yep - here are some pictures of the girls last night.

The Disney princess game is still strong in our house and continued into 2017.  

First up is Pocahontas. Kate saw this in a Disney store earlier this year and got this outfit for her birthday. Double win is that the shoes can be worn this fall/winter.  

She and I spent Halloween afternoon in the doctors office, where she got some meds for a pretty bad sinus infection. Nothing was going to stop her from trick or treating though!

And next is Rapunzel.  Karsten would never give me a straight answer as to who (or what) she wanted to be for Halloween, so I went to JC Penny and took pictures of all the Disney costumes that were 50% off. Ha! She picked Rapunzel, so I went back and bought it.  She was excited for all of 5 minutes. Then anytime someone would ask her what she was going to be for Halloween, she gave them a different answer:

"I'm gonna be a spider!"

"I'm gonna be Buzz Lightyear!"

"I'm gonna be Holly from Winnie the Pooh!"

and then I'd remind her that she already picked Rapunzel and she'd happily go back to that. 

"I'm gonna be Rapunzel!"

To me, these are two pretty recognizable costumes but apparently they were not. Kate was consistently confused with Moana and Karsten was called Princess Sophia a few times.  I can see the similarities, and can definitely see how people were mistaken. 

We met up with friends at a nearby neighborhood for trick or treating.  They had a blast (of course).

We took the stroller but Karsten walked about 99% of the time. She was a trooper and didn't want to get left of from what the big girls were doing. 

And that was that.  We're starting to run out of Disney princesses that we don't already have costumes for.  I'm wondering how much longer this tradition will continue!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Weekly Happenings

Sunday's nearly over, so time for me to catch up yet again. I love this time of year. It's busy, but with all kinds of FUN things - football, Halloween fun, Thanksgiving, family time, fall break and so much more. In between all of the fun activities, we have to fit in the normal everyday life too.  Right? I know we're not the only one whose weekends are packed to the gills. Anyway - here is a bit of the "normal" filling our days...

Kate started allergy shots about a week ago.  This is a pretty intense 2 year commitment, where we go weekly for shots (one in each arm).  Our new Tuesday schedule is that she goes to school, then takes part in the Good News Club that her school offers in the afternoon.  I pick her up from Good News at 4 and we head straight to the allergist office, where she gets her shots.  We have to wait around for 30 minutes after the shots to make sure she doesn't have a reaction, and it's been a good time for her to get all of her homework done. 

Needless to say, Tuesdays wear her out.  Napping on the car ride home has become a regular Tuesday afternoon occurrence.  

I've learned that when I leave my phone laying around, I'll often come back to random pictures.  This has to be the most random one that I've found though.  I had about 30 of these in my camera's photo library earlier this week. Ha!

Outfit planning for family pictures is the worst.  It's so hard to decide!  

Karsten is definitely my cuddly kid. She will often see me sitting on the couch and climb up in my lap, or will run up to me and say "Mommy. I needja.", which means "Will you pick me up and hold me?"

Karsten is also my princess-obsessed kid. Kate went through this phase too. Every evening, it's a total guess as to which Karsten will come out dressed as. On this night, it was Princess Elena.

Weeks ago, everyone was posting pictures that said "Hello October" and talking about how they were looking forward to boots, scarves, pumpkin spice and all things fall.  Yeah that hasn't happened here in SC yet.  The high today is 85. I'm so ready for things to cool down a notch!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

TimeHop Blessings

Do you use TimeHop?  I love it. And I hate it.  It's an app that links to your social media accounts, and to the pictures you have stored on your phone. On each day, you can log into the app and it will share with you pictures that you have taken or posted on that same day in years past.  So today the app is showing me pictures from October 11th in years past.

I love it because it reminds me of things that were going on in my life 1, 3, 5 or 10 years ago.  When a Facebook status update from 2007 pops up and says things like "studying for the CPA exam", it takes me back in time to when I was a fresh college graduate and newlywed, starting my first job and studying ALL THE TIME to pass the dreaded CPA exam. It helps remind me how far I've come and what I've accomplished.  It's also fun to be reminded of things that were apparently important enough in your life at that moment in time for you to share with others, but maybe not so important that you really remember them years later.

It also shows me pictures of my kids 1, 2, 3, etc. years ago, which is the reason why I love it and hate it at the same time.  Karsten turned 3 last Friday so the past week I've had pictures pop up every single day of newborn Karsten.  Ugh! She was so tiny.  And seeing those pictures, I'm reminded that this stage in our life is over.  No more baby fingers, baby snoozing, baby gurgles and baby cuddles.  I see pictures of 3 year old Kate meeting and holding her new baby sister, and I can't believe how little Kate looked! At the time I thought she was SO OLD, and now she's twice the age she was then.

Two years ago we were celebrating a big FIRST birthday, surrounded by family and friends. 

And an even further peek back in time - look at sweet baby Kate!

In 2011 when we attended our informational meeting at Bethany and were just starting the adoption process, if I could have had the Reverse TimeHop app and seen into the future all of these pictures, my mind would have been BLOWN at how much God was going to bless our family.  If I could have seen these two girls, and the trips we would take with them, and the memories we would be able to create in 6 years of parenthood... well, I don't know that I really would have been able to believe that it would all be real. 

Grace is defined as God giving us what we don't deserve.  I can't think of a better descriptive of my life with Kevin and these two He has blessed us with.  Seven years ago (ironically, seven years ago to the moment, since I'm writing this at 9:32pm), I posted this to Facebook. We had not even started the adoption process, and maybe not even yet talked about it.  I don't remember what was on my mind or why I chose to post this, but seven years later I can see GRACE all over my life and I'm so thankful for it. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Karsten is Three!

Today, Karsten turned three.  THREE!  It's unbelievable to me, since I feel like Kevin and I were just driving to the hospital to meet her for the very first time. Yet somehow she has been in our family for 3 years.  She is the same age that Kate was when Karsten was born!

Here she is on her last day of being two years old.

This girl is nothing like I thought she would be when she was a clingy baby.  Gone is the shy, quiet, timid baby girl.  She is bubbly, loud, mostly outgoing, and so full of personality.  Her smile is the biggest thing about her, and when she gives you one, you can't help but grin back.

She still loves Mama best.  A few days ago, Kevin was home with the girls when I was pulling into the garage.  He looked at Karsten and said "Let's hide from Mama."  After they found a hiding place, Karsten looked and Kevin and said "This is not a great idea."  He said "Well, Karsten, what IS a great idea?"  She said "Let's go find Mama."  And then she ran down the hall and threw her arms around me, the whole time screaming "Hey Mama!! You're home!!!"

Kevin will tease her sometimes and say "Who do you love more, Mama or Daddy?" She almost always answers Mama, although occasionally she'll say "Karsten" or "Bunny".  But then she always assures Kevin that she still loves him too. :)

Her raspy voice is a constant noise around our house. Girl loves to talk. And sing. She knows the entire books of the bible song - old and new testament.

She is Kate's shadow and anything Kate does, Karsten must copy.  They are best friends and I hope it stays that way forever.

About 6-8 months ago, the girls decided they wanted to spend the night together.  It was a Friday night so we figured we'd try and see how it went.  We put them in Karsten's bed and then went into the living room where we proceeded to watch them play on the monitor for the next hour and a half.  Finally, we separated them and put them each in their own room so they would go to sleep.  Of course they both cried, so we said "We'll try again when Karsten is 3."  You know - sometimes you just say things to get your kids to be quiet and don't even realize what you're committing to.  Well, since then, Karsten has said "When I turn 3, I'm sleeping with Kate." Today when she got out of bed, I said "Karsten, do you know what today is!"  She said "It's my birthday! I'm three and I'm sleeping with Kate tonight!"

(Update- we did let them sleep together. It lasted 30 minutes.)

She is girly, and loves dresses, nail polish and lip gloss. She amazes me with how much she knows at this age.  I'm so thankful that she has a big sister who loves to teach her.  She knows her ABC's, all colors, can count to 30, can mostly dress herself, and talks like she's 15.

Happy birthday, big girl! God has great plans for you, and I pray that you'll be willing to trust and follow Him.  I love you to the moon and back, and more than you'll ever know. 


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