Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No More Corn on the Cobb

When my sister and I were younger, if we had a tooth that was even remotely loose, it was going to be coming out that day.  I'm pretty sure I pulled nearly all (if not all) of Kristi's teeth. Sometimes multiple teeth in a day.  True story. Go ask my mom.

This is not Kate's personality though. Kate's top two teeth have been wiggly for a while, but she is the kind of kid that is going to hang onto that tooth until it pops out all on its own. She's lost a few of her bottom teeth but the top ones have stayed in place... until now.

A few weeks ago she and Karsten were playing in the kitchen and bumped into each other. The back of Karsten's head collided with Kate's mouth and after a few tears, Kate realized that her top tooth was now even more wiggly than it had been.  Fast forward to the next day and she came home from school with a tooth that was some how still hanging on, but I have no idea how. She could almost twist it all the way around. We knew it would be coming out that night.

I told her I needed one last picture of her with her top baby teeth. I mean, don't kids just totally lose any remaining piece of that baby face once a top tooth is gone? 

Once it was out, we took an "after" picture.  I feel like she aged 3 years. :(

She was so proud of that gap and was looking forward to showing it off to her teacher and friends the next day at school.  Goodness this girl is growing up quickly.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Open Adoption Update

I get emails from people weekly about adoption and/or what open adoptions really look like.  In fact, just this week I have received 2 emails and a phone call to discuss adoption and openness with them. So, I thought I'd do a little update but also share what our last visit looked like. It was different than any visit we have had in the past because we were able to get BOTH of our girls birth families together.  Kate and Karsten's birth mothers were able to meet for the very first time, which was a huge blessing and I am so excited that we were all able to make this happen! 

So let me back up a minute.  The term "open adoption" is really hard to define.  It obviously involves SOME level of openness between the birth family and adoptive family, but the degree of openness can vary hugely. 

  • It could mean that you exchange pictures back and forth, using an agency or some other 3rd party to deliver them. 
  • It could mean that both families have anonymous email addresses and you correspond back and forth with each other. 
  • It could mean that you exchange phone numbers and call or text back an forth. 
  • It could mean that you are Facebook or Instagram friends. 
  • It could mean you see each other in person regularly. 
  • It could mean that you go to church together, go out to eat afterward, and then go back to your house to let the kids play. 
Openness can mean a lot of different things.  Our level of openness is all of the above.  A few Sundays back, we did the last one on this list.  Kate's birth mom (Lori) was in town with her husband and daughter for an event, and so on Sunday they came to our church.  Karsten's birth mom (Andrea) is pretty local, so she brought her kids over for church also.  We all went to eat at a local pizza restaurant and then afterward, we went back to our house to let the kids all run around and play. 

This is Kate with her baby sister.  See the resemblance?  Crazy, huh!? 

And here is our whole group.  We're family.  Two birth moms, six kids that are all brothers and sisters in one way or another, and then Kevin and me, who are so grateful and thankful that this is the family God created for us. 

Kevin and I will always be so thankful that these two strong, brave women chose to place their baby in our arms. 

Most people look at adoption as a Plan B of sorts.  I'll admit, we likely wouldn't have gone down this path if infertility hadn't been part of our story. But it was. And I've said this before, but looking back I actually view infertility as a blessing because without it, these two little girls wouldn't be who calls me Mama. So to me, adoption wasn't Plan B for our family.  It was Plan A all along, and we just didn't know it. Adoption is, and was, God's best for us.  It's further proof that God can use your brokenness to make something beautiful. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Karsten's First Haircut

Karsten is now 3.5 and I'm finally getting around to her first haircut.  I know - typical 2nd child syndrome, right?  I've wanted it to grow out and with curly hair, it's just really hard to tell if it is uneven or not so we have just gone with it.  However, the ends have started to get really tangled and so I knew we needed to get the dead ends cut off and get it cleaned up a bit.

Kate gets allergy shots on Tuesday afternoons so Kevin and I both took a kid-related chore after work. Kevin took Kate to get her shots and I took Karsten to get a haircut.  On the bright side, there is a Mexican restaurant right next door to the hair salon, so guess what we did after? :)

So here are my before pictures:

I took those with my iPhone quickly before her cut, so this is probably a better representation of her hair before.  This was taken a few days prior. 

Karsten was very concerned that it was going to hurt when her hair got cut with the scissors. I mean, doesn't that make sense for a 3 year old to think that?  After she realized it didn't hurt, she was 100% fine and talkative. 

And in keeping with the 2nd child syndrome, I forgot to take an after picture. Oops.  Here is one a few days later.  Like I said, we just did a SLIGHT trim so it really isn't even noticeable. But combing her hair after a bath is so SO much easier now! When you have stick straight hair, learning how to care for beautiful, curly, bi-racial hair is definitely something I have to work on. We've figured out what works well for her hair for now, but I'm sure I will learn lots more in the future. On thing is for sure, hair cut number 1 is in the books. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Karsten and Mom Night Out

Back when Kevin took Kate to the Daddy/Daughter dance, Karsten and I decided we needed a night out too.  So while Kate and Kevin got dressed up to go to their dance, Karsten did the same (I skipped the dressing up part because, well, I could.)  Karsten, however, will use any opportunity to wear a dress.  She is my girly girl.  She will often ask to wear a dress "Because it's.... Tuesday." #priorities 

And in true Karsten fashion, whatever Kate gets, she needs to have too. So after I finished taking Kate's picture, Karsten declared that it was her turn.

Now when I ask her if I can take her picture, she gives me the hardest time and looks everywhere EXCEPT the camera.  I guess if she's the one that initiates it though, she turns into the biggest ham!

She also wanted to show me some of her dance skills. Ha!

I asked her "If we could do anything tonight or go anywhere, where would you want to go?"

Her answer?  "CAROWINDS!"

So I asked what plan B was and her answer to that....


She's easy. 

Off to Chick-fil-a, with ice cream instead of the toy.  Man I am enjoying this time in our life when I can make her entire day with a $4 kids meal. 

And then we went by Ingles for a sprinkle covered sugar cookie.  Mommy/Karsten night was a success!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Bow Ties and Tiaras

Last Friday, Kate and Kevin made some special memories when they went to their second ever  Daddy/Daughter dance. 

Kate's school puts on this event each year. It is something Kate starts hearing about in January and looks forward to for the entire 6ish weeks until it is time to go. This year the theme was Bow Ties and Tiaras, and Kate picked out her entire outfit herself.  She found the dress, picked out her boots, borrowed my necklace, picked out a tiara and requested that I braid her hair (a small one, not the whole thing).

So that is just what we did.

She was so proud. And so beautiful. Where did my baby girl go? 

I love that these two get to spend evenings like this together, where they get to dress up and get to spend some one on one time with each other.  Unlike last year (when Kate ditched Kevin at the door to go play with all her friends), I'm told that they danced together at least a few songs. Of course Kate danced with all of her friends too.  Let's be real- she is a 6 year old little girls.  They stayed the whole time, ate lots of snacks, and went to McDonald's for ice cream afterward. What girl could ask for more? 

Kevin gave flowers to both of the girls, and even though Karsten was a little bummed that she didn't get to go to the Daddy/Daughter dance, she and I had a great evening ourselves.  But I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Choosing a Non-Mini Van Family Vehicle

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I got my first car when I was in high school.  My mom was actually in the market for a car, and I saw a gold Nissan Pathfinder at a local car lot.  I told her about it, but she ended up getting something else.  Well, fast forward a few months and that same car was still sitting up at the car lot.  One of my friends at school worked at the same lot, washing and detailing cars and doing odd jobs for them. He knew I’d had my eye on the car, but I never really said anything to my parents about it.
One day I came home from school, and that gold Nissan Pathfinder was sitting in my driveway.  My friend said that his boss told him to drop it off and let us drive it for a while to see what we thought.  These are the kind of things that happen when you live in a small town where everybody knows everybody. Two weeks later, I was still driving it.  About a week after that, it was officially mine.  It was one of those "happy birthday, merry Christmas, happy new year and happy graduation" type of deals.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I drove that car for ten years.  I took me through my senior year of high school and graduation.  I drove it to Clemson and through both undergraduate and graduate school. It took me back and forth from the restaurant where I waited tables.  I drove it to my very first full time job. I drove it through my first few years as a newlywed.  When we adopted Kate and became a family of three, that car was still with me. I would have kept driving it, except that the summer Kate turned one was one of the hottest on record, and my now 11 year old car did not have air in the back seats.  Put that together with a baby who was already hot natured and by law was required to be in a rear facing car seat, and I knew it was time for something new.

Since I’d already driven my first car for 10 years, I wanted to make sure to get something that would last at least that long again.  My only real requirement was that I wanted something with a 3rd row.  We already had Kate, but knew we would want our family to expand again eventually. Originally I thought I wanted a Toyota Highlander.  But after a few months of debating options, I ended up getting….. a 2012 Nissan Pathfinder!  Original, huh? 

I've now driven my new Pathfinder for 5 years, and while I still love it, there are a few things that I wish I’d considered sooner.
Mainly, I wish that I’d considered what it means to be driving a car that has multiple car seats.  Both Kate and Karsten are in car seats or boosters right now, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to drive a three car seat car.  I’ve always said I am NOT a mini van driving mom but I can definitely see the convenience.  Never say never, right? Well I’m definitely not to that point, but I do have to say, even having two car seats in my Pathfinder is rough.  My car is one that has a bench seat on the middle row instead of captain chairs.  Essentially, once two car seats are properly installed, my third row is useless because there is no access.    
I love so many things about my car that I can't complain too much. There is plenty of room for all of the gear that comes with having kids.  I love that my seat is completely adjustable and that my pedals are also adjustable.  As a pretty petite person (5 foot tall), this is huge!  I can adjust everything so I sit up high enough and can see out well.  So basically, the pros outweigh the cons in this car for me.  But I'm not going to lie, captain chairs would be awesome right about now.  That mini van would also be pretty convenient, but that's just not me.

Hopefully I'm not going to be in the market for another car anytime soon, but when I am, I'll make sure to think through it all just a little bit more.  Do you have any regrets about your car purchase?

Monday, February 12, 2018

My Little Valentines

These two.

I am so very thankful for them.  They gave me the title of "Mama"- one that I don't take for granted. It's a title that I prayed for for a long time, and even though I might hear it ten thousand times a day, I still love hearing it.

These two are silly, and loud.  They are best of friends and sometimes, they are each others biggest enemy.  They love building things together with their magnatiles.  They love wrestling. They love pizza and salad. They love sharing a room in their new bunk beds and Kevin and I hear them giggling for hours before they fall asleep. 

Their days of matching are numbered and so I'm taking advantage of the fact that they LOVE to wear the same clothes as each other right now. Pretty soon they won't be caught dead in the same outfits so right now, I'm buying all the matching things and taking all the pictures. Six and three are good ages.

So happy Valentines day from these two, and from Kevin and me.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Snow Day 2018

A few weeks ago, we got snow. We typically get snow about once a year, and usually just a few inches. It snowed back in December, which was crazy, so this snow was sort of unexpected for me since we'd already hit our one-snow limit. 

We went to bed with nothing, and woke up to a winter wonderland.  TV reports said we got 3 inches but we measured with a ruler and got 6 inches at our house. There was plenty for the girls to play in - and play they did!

Karsten is more like me.  I loved seeing the snow, and enjoyed going out in it for a bit, but then I'm ready to go back inside. Karsten was the same way. It took 30 minutes to get her bundled up, and she enjoyed the outside for about 10 minutes, but then she wanted hot chocolate.  Oh to be three again.

Kate would have stayed outside all day long if we'd let her. She is an outside girl and the cold didn't bother her a bit!  If only I could be a bit more like her in this.

The boys think snow is the best thing ever. They have a nice warm house, filled with cedar chips. You'd think they would cuddle up inside but nope - they like to sleep on the snow.

Now that we've had a snow day in 2018, I think that's enough for this year. We love it.  Just not all the time. :)  Us southerners aren't equipped for snow, and being stuck at home for days is difficult with two little ones!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Wasted Time or Purposeful Time?

I hate commuting to work. I know I'm not alone in this when I say that I hate traffic. We definitely don't live in a huge city but it's not small by any means. Over the years traffic has progressively gotten worse and worse. I've often thought that the person who creates a machine for teleportation will be the richest person alive.  You know, a machine that instantly zaps you where you want to go?  Won't that be the best invention in the history of time?  Maybe not, but it probably seems like it would be to someone who has been sitting in traffic, stuck on the interstate for 30 minutes or more.

To be honest, there probably will come a day when that invention actually does exist.  I'm sure some of us can't wait for that day to happen.  But if we really think about it, will something like that necessarily be a great invention?

We often think of time in our cars as wasted or useless time.  We view our driving time as time that we could be spending doing other things.  If we didn't have to drive places, we could have more time at home or at work, or what ever the case may be.

Sure we might be more productive in those places, but think about the things that we will miss without that so called "wasted" time in our car.  When I'm driving alone, this is often the only time that I ever really listen to music.  Well, it's the time I listen to music that is not geared toward children! Because I listen to Christian music, I'm filling my head with the word of God, singing about how great He is and worshiping him.  Maybe you do the same.  Or maybe ...

  • You're listening to a book on tape. 
  • You are running through your daily to-do list in your head and organizing your thoughts.
  • You're driving your kids to school and this is the one time when they're trapped in the same small area as you so you're able to have meaningful conversations.
  • You are listening to a podcast about a topic that interests you.
  • You are talking to out of town family members on the phone because you finally have a little peace and quiet to make phone calls to other people.

I was reminded this week of just how special that car time can be when I drove Kate to school early one morning. She's getting to the age where she is starting to understand and think through some of the things that she has been learning about since she was born. On the drive to school, she started asking me questions about Jesus and I was so thankful to get to share with her and talk to her one-on-one. Sure we could have had that conversation another time, but it was on her heart then and this is one of the rare moments in our week when she and I are alone together.

We live in an instant world. We live in a place where we expect everything immediately. But sometimes we need to thank God for the traffic, the times when we are forced to slow down and prepare for our day, organize our thoughts, talk to our kids or maybe just listen to Him.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

No More Diapers

We have bought diapers or pull-ups nonstop since August 10, 2011.  Luckily our kids ages are spaced apart so that we didn't have an extended period of time where we had two kids in diapers.  But as soon as Kate was out of them, we welcomed Karsten into our family, so there was never a time where we didn't buy any diapers.  We have made it a solid six years, 5 months and a couple of days of buying diapers.

But NO MORE!  We are officially diaper and pull-up free in this household.

And all the people said "Amen".

After a full year of trying to get to this point, Karsten is potty trained!!

I'll be honest. Potty training has probably been the hardest parenting task to date, and either Kevin and I are just no good at it (entirely possible) or our kids are just super stubborn (also entirely possible).  We tried charts, we tried positive reinforcement, we tried the whole three-day method... you name it, we tried it.  Karsten just didn't care. But I finally figured it out!

For the sake of full disclosure, we tried bribing multiple times over the past year. We THOUGHT we had really good bribes too! We offered a trip to ChuckECheese, or to Carowinds. We offered candy, treats, and other goodies. While she was excited about those things, they apparently just didn't offer enough motivation for her to follow through. 

Then a few weeks ago, we were at the dinner table and I was talking to Kate about her behavior at school, which has been overall great but I wanted to give her an incentive/reward.  I told her if she went a whole month without negative consequences at school, I would take her to get her nails done.  Well Karsten heard this and quickly (and loudly) piped up with "I WANT MYYYYYY NAILS DONE."

And so, the ultimate potty training bribe was born.  And you guys, IT WORKED! Like immediately. Since that day, we have had one accident and that was it.  Praise the Lord!

The deal was that she could get her nails painted after 5 days, so exactly 5 days later we were off to the nail salon with one excited little girl!

 Pink with white polka dots, as requested. Best $12 ever spent. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this a year ago!


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