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Tag Archive: A Peek Into Our Week

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.”

A Peek Into Last Week: Baby Pictures, At Home Escape Game, & an update on postpartum depression

Kierstyn is 6 weeks old!! And I look at her every day and still can’t believe she’s ours.

She is smiling and interacting and cooing at us so much now — and it’s really fun to see her personality starting to blossom. She has a very sweet demeanor and rarely cries except for when she’s hungry.

She continues to do really well with sleeping at night and (usually) with napping during the day. She loves to have a long nursing session when she first wakes up and before she goes to bed (and by really long, I’m talking an hour and a half — it seems to be more of a comfort thing than anything, but I’m savoring it!)

She went to the grocery with me for the first time this week (which also happened to be my first time back grocery shopping in 12 weeks!!). I also had my 6-week postpartum check and am grateful that I am feeling really close to being back to full steam! I forgot how much energy I used to have — it’s amazing how much better you feel when your hemoglobin isn’t low!

This past week was my first week off maternity leave and back to more normal work hours. Overall, it went well, though we’re still figuring out our rhythm with summer, three older kids, Kathrynne’s new job, and two babies. But I’m giving myself lots of grace and we’re just taking one day at a time.

I’m trying to focus on the things that will matter most in 25 years from now (relationships, marriage, my health, etc.) and letting a lot of other things go. I’m also learning to hold my plans very loosely because things often go very differently and a cheerful, adaptable mom is much more important than a checked off to do list.

We love escape games, so when Jesse saw that a local escape game business was offering at-home escape game packages while they were closed for quarantine, he bought it and we did it as a family one night this past week. It was a lot harder than a traditional escape game, but thanks to Jesse and Kaitlynn’s tireless work, they solved the mystery!

Champ (the sweet baby boy we are fostering) has started holding onto our fingers when we feed him.

And when he’s not holding onto our fingers, he’s trying to hold his own bottle. It’s the sweetest!

Postpartum Depression/Anxiety

I had pretty severe postpartum depression and anxiety after our first three were born. I didn’t even realize that’s what it was until after Silas born.

The dark oppressive cloud hanging over me all day. The panic attacks. The constant feeling that I was going to lose it. The feelings of harming myself. The inability to be excited about anything in life. The lack of motivation.

As I approached this 4th birth/postpartum period, I wondered if all those feelings of depression and anxiety were going to come crashing down on me again. Jesse and I had some really honest talks on what we could do as a family to prevent it as much as possible.

I’m 6 weeks postpartum today, and I am absolutely thrilled to say I haven’t had PPD or PPA this time!! In fact, the pediatrician had me fill out a form last week that asked a lot of questions on how I’m doing. I could genuinely answer I wasn’t experiencing any of the PPD symptoms!

Here are some of the things that have helped:

  • Being honest with Jesse about what I need. I don’t like to be needy and I’m the kind who wants to just find a way to push on and power through. But I’ve learned that’s a recipe for unhealthy. So, when I’ve started to feel twinges of overwhelm or anxiety the past 6 weeks, I’ve been honest in asking for help so I can get more sleep or get some alone time (even a 30-minute nap or an hour of quiet can do wonders!)
  • Taking a real maternity leave (something I’ve never done) and then giving myself lots of grace and breathing room as I ease back into more normal work hours.
  • Getting a shower/dressed every day — even if I’m staying home all day.
  • Being honest with my OB and promising to call if I felt any signs of PPD.
  • Starting my day with time in God’s Word and recounting my blessings.
  • Eating a healthful diet, drinking a gallon of water, and prioritizing rest.
  • Fresh air and sunshine.
  • Taking magnesium daily.
  • Making time for fun every day.

Note: I know everyone is different and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. I also believe there is 100% a time and place for medication. My philosophy is that you need to do whatever you need to do to take care of you.

A Lesson in Parenting I’m Learning

I shared this on Instagram this past week…

One of our kids was frustrated about something on Saturday morning. There was a lot going on, so instead of really listening to them or engaging them in conversation, I just said rather tersely, “You need you change your attitude right now!”

I’ve been so convicted of how often I do this! Instead of taking a little time to lean in, love and listen, I just tell them, in effect, “Get over it!” Or “Snap out of it!” Or “Change your attitude!”

I know in my own life, when I’m frustrated over something, it’s typically not just about that thing, but it’s often much deeper. I want to remember this for my kids, as well.

Maybe they are acting frustrated because they are sad or hurt or scared or overwhelmed — and it’s coming out sideways as irritation/anger.

Think about it: if you’re feeling frustrated or stressed, would you want someone to tell you to, “Stop acting like that and change your attitude!!” I know that, for me, if someone said this to me while I was already feeling on edge, it would just make me feel more frustrated.

In addition, this communicates, “Your feelings don’t matter. So stuff them down and move on!”

When my kids express their irritability or stress, I don’t want to shut them down. But I want to see it as an opportunity to take then time to lean in and love, look for ways I can come alongside them, and ask how I can help them. To sit with them and love them well through whatever they are feeling.

Yes, it requires more time and effort than saying, “Change your attitude!” But I think it’s going to make a huge difference for them (and our relationship!) in the future!

Note: This can also apply to adults in our life, too! If you encounter someone who seems really irritated or frustrated, remember that there is probably something much deeper there and see it as an opportunity to lean in and love them well instead of just feeling frustrated or hurt by their frustration and/irritability!

A Peek Into Our Week (lots of baby pictures!)

5 weeks old!

Kierstyn started smiling at us this week… which is the sweetest thing ever and we all spend a lot of time every day trying to get her to smile! (See more videos of her here.)


Her other big news is that we found out at her one-month checkup this week that she has surpassed her birth weight!! We’ve worked hard for every one of those ounces and that was a huge milestone for her (and me!)


I’m also thrilled to report that after much effort and time and making a few tweaks in the past five days, my milk supply has been up significantly this week!! In fact, I even had enough extra to put three small bags in the freezer this week!! If you’ve ever struggled with low supply, you know what a big deal this is!! I’m so grateful and hopeful that this is going to continue! We’ll see!


She and Champ both are discovering their hands right now and it’s so fun to watch! They continue to be great sleepers and are mostly on the same schedule most of the time. They are such a gift to our lives and we just love having two babies!

A Peek Into Our Week: Kierstyn is one month old (lots of pictures!)

One month old! Kierstyn Michaela, you have brought so much joy to our home!

This month you:

  • were born (!)
  • came home from the hospital
  • met your siblings
  • loved your baths
  • struggled to gain weight but (with lots of effort) passed your third weight check (!)
  • slept like a rockstar at night (usually only waking up twice to eat and then going right back to sleep)
  • worked on discovering your hands
  • love bottles and nursing (which is a real gift as we’re still supplementing since my supply is low)
  • met two of your aunts
  • loved snuggling next to your almost “twin” Champ (the sweet boy we’re fostering)
  • went to multiple appointments at the pediatrician
  • had your first chiropractic appointment (and loved it!)
  • practiced smiling (and are so close to doing it on cue!)
  • got to see a few of our friends outside while we social distanced
  • went on some walks
  • rode in the car in your car seat
  • joined us for a lot of Zoom meetings

You also taught me so much about resting in my Heavenly Father and trusting Him in the middle of unknowns and uncertainties. We are so thankful for you and the amazing gift of your life, sweet girl!

Champ continues to grow and be such a blessing to our home. He is laughing and “talking” and cooing and so interactive now. He also discovered his hands this week, which has been so fun to watch.

We all having matching jammies as a family that we got for Christmas. The kids asked if they could order some for Kierstyn and Champ. The smallest size they had was 0-3 months, which is still way too big for Kierstyn and still pretty big for Champ.

But the kids rolled up the sleeves and pants on his jammies and we had to get matching pictures! Oh how we love this boy so much!

There have been many moments in the past few weeks when I’ve felt stretched pretty thin… like I sort of wished I could clone myself so there’d be enough of me to go around. Instead, here’s what has been helping me:

1) Remember that this is just a season. I won’t have two needy newborns for years to come. I’m trying to give myself grace and reminders that I won’t always be spending the bulk of my day nursing, pumping, holding babies, and bottle-feeding. This is a short season and I want to savor it — even if it means a lot of things I normally do aren’t happening.

2) Don’t try to do it all myself. I need Jesus every moment of the day. Even if there are a hundred other things needing my attention, beginning my day with time in God’s Word and praying over my day and asking for God’s help is so important. Also, letting Jesse, the kids, and others in my life help out instead of saying, “I got it!”

3) Focus on what is in front of me. It’s so easy to get bogged down thinking of everything I need and want to do. It can be discouraging and it can steal my joy and my ability to soak up and fully live in the moment I’m in. It can also cause me to feel stressed, hurried, and frantic. Focusing on what is in front of me means I just do the next right thing. Because truly, that’s all I can do at any one given time.

4) Prioritize rest and quiet. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last ten years. And one of those things is that I don’t function well without decent rest and daily quiet. So I’ve been working hard to make that a reality — and it’s made such a difference in my overall postpartum experience.

What helps you when you feel stretched thin? I’d love to hear your advice and ideas!

A Peek Into Our Week: Baby pictures, the birthday boy, and things I’m learning in this season

Kierstyn is 2 weeks old!!

This week, she started smiling more (not intentionally yet, but I’m guessing that’s coming soon!), she decided she likes eating more (something we are VERY much celebrating — there’s been a lot less falling asleep during feeds!), she went to the doctor again for another weight check and had actually gained a little bit for the first time (which we are also celebrating — and it likely would have been more had she not had three poopy diapers right before they weighed her!), and had her first real outing (a social distanced cookout in our friends’ backyard).

I’m celebrating that my milk supply has increased (all the work and effort is paying off!), that the babies are more and more getting on the same routine and are so happy so much of the time, that my postpartum blues are fading and I’m feeling more myself, and that Jesse and I have figured out a good routine at night that is allowing us to both consistently get 6-8 hours of sleep (cumulatively).

Little did I dream last Mother’s Day what this year’s Mother’s Day would look like!

Her hair looks like this every morning! It cracks us up. We’ve never had a baby with this much hair as a newborn and her hair definitely has a mind of its own.

I walked into our room a few days ago and had to take a picture of this because I don’t want to forget this season of life…

This is the season of unmade beds, unchecked off to do lists, and a master bedroom that usually has baby paraphernalia strewn all over it.

This is the season of spending most of my waking hours nursing, pumping, bottle feeding, calming crying babies, changing diapers, going to the doctor, on the phone or video chat with foster care related things.

This is the season for watching my older three sacrifice their time and routine to help out — to love on babies, to learn how to calm fussy newborns, to help with diapers and bottles, to clean and cook, to sit next to me and talk while we both feed a baby.

This is the season for falling in love even more with Jesse as he stays up until the wee hours of the morning with babies in order to let me get a good block of sleep in, as he gives medicine doses, makes bottles, calls the pediatrician or another specialist yet again, and as I see him sing to and speak love and life to these babies.

It’s not an easy season (but is there really such a thing? You all have your own hard things and struggles you’re dealing with, too!), but it’s a beautiful season and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This is the season I’m in and I’m seeking to soak up and savor every moment and memory.

A few weeks ago, Silas offered to take care of Champ (the precious little baby boy we are fostering) so I could take a nap. This might not seem like a big deal, except it was mid-morning and I knew that he already had his day all mapped out.

You see, he’s one of those kids who always has a plan for his day and he doesn’t like to veer from that plan. He had already told me that morning what the rundown was for his self-imposed schedule and how he was hoping to get everything done by 1 pm.

And yet, here he was mid-morning, offering to hold Champ. I was thrilled to be able to sneak in a nap after not getting a lot of sleep the night before.

Silas sat next to me on the bed with Champ and just held him. As I was drifting off to sleep, I heard him tell Champ, “I had planned to do my school this morning, but sitting here with you holding you is so much more important.”

It was such a good reminder to me — who also is one to have my day all mapped out and to like to stick with the plan — to remember what’s most important.

    

By the way, Silas turned 11 this week. And after being the baby of the family for all those years, with the addition of Kierstyn and Champ, he now has moved up to middle child status.

He has taken his role as big brother so seriously. Almost every morning, first thing, he comes down and helps me get the babies changed into their new outfits for the day. While he’s changing them, he will be gently talking with them and telling them how cute they are, how big they are getting, and just speaking so much life and love over them.

In addition, he has become a diaper-changing and bottle-feeding and baby snuggling pro. He’s even learning how to swaddle them!

Seeing his tender love for these babies and how well he helps care for them has been such a beautiful thing to witness.

Silas and I have Bible Time with the babies every morning. We sing a hymn to them and then he reads them a Bible story.

The babies love to lay next to one another and I will often look over and see that they have their arms intertwined. It melts my hear!

A Peek Into Our Week: Pregnancy update (week 26), bathroom redo, books, & romance

Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram.

26 weeks!! This past week FLEW by and I can’t believe it’s time for another pregnancy picture and update.

Highlights

I’m continuing to feel so well overall. Yes, there are the normal uncomfortable parts and the fact that I have to lay down and rest/nap and move more slowly than my usual pace, but I cannot believe how well I’m doing compared to previous pregnancies!

It just goes to show that prioritizing healthy food, sleep, hydration, and exercise really can make a difference! (It may also help that every day has a lot going on so I not have a lot of time to sit around and think about how I feel!)

Notable

My belly is definitely popping out more and the baby is kicking a lot stronger and harder these days! It’s still so surreal for me… but feeling the elbows and knees protruding out make it more and more real.

Cravings

My diet is pretty limited these days in order to avoid heartburn triggers, but some of my standby’s right now are cereal/milk, apples with peanut butter, and a big salad with chicken and hard boiled eggs.

This basically makes up most of my eating right now — and I’m grateful that it tastes good, is nourishing, and doesn’t make me sick. Every day that I’m not experiencing extreme acid reflux like I did in my previous pregnancies is a gift.

Weight gain: 18 pounds

Check out my honest reviews on the 5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 Classic Movie We Watched).

Did you see how we spruced up our upstairs bathroom on a budget? See the before and after pictures here.

The podcast episode this week on 10 Ways to Keep the Romance Alive was one of our most-downloaded episodes in a long time. Have you listened to it yet?