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A Peek Into Our Lives the Last Three Weeks (lots of baby pictures!)

Welcome to my (usually) weekly post with photos and a little peek into our last week. I didn’t get a chance to post an update the past two weeks, so enjoy a three-week update post… with LOTS of photos!

How to get a shower when you have a baby 101 — roll the bassinet into the bathroom. 🙂

I walked out of our master bathroom recently to see these two boys cuddled up on our bed. Champ is such a gift and it is a true honor to love him as our own on his mama’s behalf right now.

Our First Overnight Trip as a Family of 7

We traveled to near Johnson City, TN to visit my sister, her husband, and three boys. We went on a waterfall hike together, played games, and sat around and talked for hours.

Little could we have ever dreamed what this past year would hold!

Back in August 2019, Jesse and I went on a waterfall hike with another couple. (See that picture from that hike here.)

I remember feeling so blah that day and just wishing we could stay home instead of go on that hike. I was tired and bloated and hormonal. And I assumed it was because my period was getting ready to start.

Little did we know that we were about to get the biggest surprise of our lives — I was actually hormonal and tired and bloated because I was pregnant!!

We would never have imagined that less than a year later, on the next waterfall hike we would go on, we’d be bringing TWO BABIES with us!!!

I share these pictures to encourage you — God isn’t finished with your story yet. And He’s still in the business of doing “abundantly above all we could ever ask or imagine.”

And He is good — on the blah days and the beautiful days. He sees you. He knows your needs. And He hasn’t forgotten you.

Some Thoughts on Parenting…

As our kids get older, it’s hard to know how to find the balance between letting them go and keeping them close.

On the one hand, our whole goal as parents is to work ourselves out of a job, to launch our kids into big world to go out and explore their passions, pursue their interests, and make a difference in their sphere of influence.

On the other hand, we want them to have a heart for home and family, for serving and sacrificing for those they love, and we hope that they have strong relationships with us and their siblings.

Here’s how we’re navigating this and seeking to maintain a balance:

We pray — We seek God’s wisdom for how to walk with our kids well. We seek to cry out to the Holy Spirit (who is in us) when we feel overwhelmed, confused, or just unsure of what to say or do.

We listen — Our kids need to know that their voice matters, that their feelings have value, and that we want to hear their thoughts on situations. We want to spend less time talking and more time listening.

We explain — We try to only say no to our older kids requests when we absolutely have to. And when we do say no, we try to always give a clear and legitimate explanation for why we are saying no and not just “because I said so”.

We do the best we can — We remind ourselves that we are never going to get it all right. We’re going to miss the mark and make mistakes. When that happens, we want to learn from our failure and be willing own up to where we fell short, acknowledge it to our kids, and ask forgiveness.

Kaitlynn Turned 13

She’s officially a teenager — something she’s been looking forward to for a long time!

Kaitlynn, you are one of the most creative and artistic souls I’ve ever met! You bring so much beauty into our home and lives.

Your sarcasm and quick wit keeps us laughing (often until we cry!). I don’t know where you come up with all your material, but the comic relief is a constant gift to our family!

Your determination inspires me. Challenges motivate you and I love how you aren’t afraid to attempt big projects, even if it’s not something you’ve ever done before.

You care about the little details — from learning how to handletter so you could take beautiful notes in class to thinking up the perfect gift for each person for their birthday and then wrapping it with flare, I love that details matter to you so much.

You love to research. This past year, you’ve spent hours learning about everything from the Curly Girl method to racism. You are constantly reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts, thinking, and then presenting us with your findings and conclusions. You are the instigator of so many fantastic conversations and discussions at our house.

You care deeply about people and are constantly looking for ways to bless others through gifts (your love language!) You will spend hours on a project for someone else… just because you want them to feel loved.

You are a deep thinker. I love that you read books on theology and politics for fun! I learn so much from our conversations and your perspective.

You have such a heart for little kids. I’ve watched you love on Kierstyn and Champ and your class of little kids at church and it has warmed my heart.

Most of all, I love your heart for Jesus. I love that you have such strong convictions and yet you are willing to ask the hard questions so that you know where you stand and aren’t just blindly following what we or others believe. I love our discussions about faith, truth, morality, and absolutes. I love that you aren’t afraid to stand alone — even if you’re the only one standing.

God has big things for your future, Kaitlynn! I’m excited to watch them unfold! I love you — and happy 13th birthday!

Kierstyn Turned 2 Months Old

Kierstyn turned two months old… and, as you can probably tell from these pictures, her personality is really starting to blossom.

She’s calm and quiet most of the time, but if she wants something or is bothered by something, she definitely knows how to use her voice!

She had her well visit this past week and now weighs 8 lbs. 6 oz. and is 22 inches long! She’s officially outgrown almost all her newborn clothes and is about ready to outgrow newborn diapers.

Her hair is starting to get little waves in it and so we’re guessing she’s likely going to have curly hair like the other two girls did.

She has really gotten the hang of how to put her hands in her mouth, so now it’s rare that she doesn’t have them in her mouth —unless she’s eating or we give her a pacifier. (She sometimes likes a pacifier, sometimes doesn’t. It just depends.)

She continues to be a great sleeper at night, but is still working on consistently falling (and staying!) into a deep sleep for naps during the day.

She loves movement — being gently bounced or swayed back and forth, riding in the car, or going on a walk in the stroller. We’re still working on getting her to like baby-wearing, but hopefully that will come in time!

An Update on Champ

Champ he has been growing and changing so much in the last month. He’s learning lots of new sounds he can make, he’s getting better at Tummy Time, he’s learning how to use his hands more, and he’s officially 6 oz. heavier than Kierstyn! He is the sweetest little guy and has the happiest, most content personality… except when he’s hungry. Then, get out of the way and go get him his bottle. 😉

And there’s so much more I could say about him and share about how he’s doing, but I want to protect his privacy and his story. (And I always feel weird sharing so much about Kierstyn and not that much about him, because he’s just as important to all of us. Just know that he is so, so loved and doing so well and we’re all incredibly proud of him!)

Saying Yes to Our Kids

One of our older kids asked to do something recently that would require a pretty big long term commitment. I immediately wanted to respond with, “No, you can’t do that!”

Y’all… “no” was my go to response as a parent for a long time.

Saying “no” is safer — I don’t have to worry about my child getting hurt or failing if I don’t let them try new things.

Saying “no” is more convenient — it means fewer sacrifices of my time and schedule. It means fewer messes and interruptions and uncomfortable interactions with people I don’t know (introvert here!)

Saying “no” might be safer and more convenient in the short-run, but you know what it can do in the long run? It can drive a wedge of resentment between me and my child. It can cause frustration and make my child feel like I don’t care about their needs, don’t trust them, and/or just want to stifle them from doing things.

The long term consequences of my knee jerk no’s just aren’t worth it when you think of it from that perspective.

There are some times when we will need to say no as a parent. But I want to be very careful and prayerful about those. I want to have a good reason for saying no and be able to clearly communicate it in a heart-to-heart conversation with my kids.

So, instead of instantly saying no recently, I said, “Let’s talk about this. Why do you want to do this?” I asked a lot of questions and tried to really listen to their heart. We talked about the pros and cons of what saying yes to this would mean. We discussed the potential struggles this commitment could produce. We talked about the sacrifices they’d have to make.

And after a really great discussion, I said, “Yes, you can do this.” And they were SO excited and have been talking about it with such anticipation ever since then.

I don’t know where this “yes” will lead. I know it’s going to mean a pretty big commitment for this child and invariably a lot of schedule flexibility for me. But I know that it has communicated to my child: “I care about you. I’m listening to you. I trust you to make good decisions. And you’re worth making sacrifices for.”

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