Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Look At Him Now - On Turning TEN!

Ten years ago today, somewhere in Kiev, Ukraine, this little man took his very first breath.

I wasn't there, but I believe in this first moments he felt love. His parents took him home, and I believe that for three whole months, Carter felt their love. When they decided, in September, to take him to the orphanage - I choose to believe they walked away from him in love.

I so wish they could see him today. Ten years old, and so proud of himself. I imagine they'd feel proud, too.


Dear Carter,

I think Year Ten was our best year, yet. We definitely had our struggles.

But all good things are hard.

We learned so much this year about how to love you and understand you. You've been an excellent teacher. So patient with us as we move through this life so quickly. But you take us by the hand, look us in the eye, and remind us to slow down.

So slow down, we will.

Today is your day, and I think if you could plan a birthday party for yourself, it would be at a beach. There would be a dock to walk on, a boat to ride in, soft sand, and clean water. There would not be one single bug or dragonfly. I think there would be goats at your party, to smash your cake (because you tell us about goats smashing cakes a lot, I think this is a funny joke of yours). I think all the attendees would stomp like Frankenstein (another favorite thing of yours) and we would yell "SURPRISE!!!" and "COOOOOL!!" at seemingly random moments throughout the party. There would be lots of cake (no tummy-ache cake!) and pie. All your favorite people would be there, and we would beach it up until after bedtime.

When we love someone a whole lot, we embrace their uniqueness.
Sometimes this means we have a toilet paper & paper towel birthday cake!
This sounds like a recurring dream I have. But in the dream, you turn to me and grab my face in your hands and say, plain as day, "Mom, I love you and I love life. I'm happy. Thanks for giving me a chance."

And sometimes I feel sad that you haven't or won't or can't say those things to me. But then you take my hands, look me in the eye, and we slow down - and thats when I recognize that there was so much of that this year.

Maybe you didn't use your words to tell me, but you told me. Maybe it didn't come out as clearly as you wanted, but I hear you. I see you. I feel you.

You're happy. You're loved. You're an expert at bringing joy into every situation, when you're given the space to do so.

Here's to a year of more space to bring joy. More space to be you. Who you are is big and loud and ON-every-single-second. But it's you we want, buddy.

On this extra special 10th birthday, we take a second to appreciate you for who you are and the value that you bring. You're somethin' special, kid.

Car-car, Cartsy, Carter B, Carter Keeko (I don't even know), joy bringer extraordinaire. Happy Birthday! Gifts and cake and grandparent spoiling were all part of your day, but what you don't know is that you are the gift.


We also wrapped up Third Grade this week. It's been an amazing school year with many successes. I purchased a copy of "Oh, The Places You'll Go" when Carter was in Early Childhood (over 6 school years ago!). Every year during the last week of school, I send the book in for the teachers to write notes to Carter. As I pulled the book out to send to school this year, I cried big tears reading all those words from that past 6 school years.

Almost every teacher's note declared the value that Carter brought to their life. I thought it was the other way around - THEY have all touched and changed our life. But instead, the overwhelming theme was that Carter touches. Carter teaches. Carter changes. Carter CAN.


We're walking in to summer with our ten-year-old fourth grader - feeling like we can accomplish just about anything together.

If only they could see him now.

 We feel what you're feeling. We see what you're seeing.


Friday, April 06, 2018

We Survived Spring Break 2018

We made it, kids! Spring Break 2018 is in the books, and we finished it better than when we started it.

This is the first year that I can remember that Carter has had an entire week of Spring Break. An entire week. Of Spring Break.

An entire week.

I knew that if we were going to have a successful week, I'd need to be prepped for it.  Success won't just happen on its own.

So we prepped, and then we dove right in. Here's our Spring Break, in photos. iPhone photos, because, well...Spring Break.

Thanks, Panera, for offering a dairy-free smoothie option. We're grateful.

Meet Silas Jacob. the first kid in our family that has me actually considering baby-locking all the cabinets and cupboards. Little babes is persistent.

And then there's this:

"Macy, what are you doing?"
"Mom. Nuffin'."

We did a little bit of this.

And a little bit of that.

And quite a lot of this.

"Mom, I'm pwayin' at the table so Siley can't touch my stuff!"

We even had time for a little of this, thanks to a little 24 hour bug that Macy had.

Oh, and this. Coffee date with mom (orange juice in a coffee mug works just fine!).

Looking back on our week, it started out a little bumpy. I think I texted Jake 10 times on Monday. But by Wednesday or Thursday, we were in a good groove.

Lots of tiny moments of sharing, ordering food from 'waitress Macy', turn taking, playing games, building magnet tiles, peeking out windows, lazy afternoon naps, play doh rolling, and rolling paper (a favorite pastime of Carter's!).

There was also plenty of toy-grabbing, sibling rivalry, cupboard emptying, mess clean-ups, crayon chomping (a favorite pastime of Silas's!) and on and on. 

And then there's this: Carter's moments of mischief actually look like the very beginning stages of helpful independence. As I was changing Silas, I heard Carter tinkering around in the kitchen. When I came out, I expected to find spilled food or toys in the sink. But instead I found this:

It was intentional and purposeful - the water was contained in the sink, the soap had been squirted on the sponge and then placed back in its place.

Another day, I came out to find he had taken all the towels out of the drawer. I was about to be stern and tell him "put these away now!" but he was putting them away. Folding them, first - and then placing them in the drawer.

Okay, bud. I see you. I get it.

Growing and changing, he's becoming a thoughtful little man. There was a time I thought Carter had no capacity to think of others before himself. I think I was wrong.

"What is this, and why doesn't my mom ever use it?!?!"

All of that would be enough for me to sit back and call Spring Break 2018 a win. And I almost did. But then...

Jake and I have been tossing around the idea of investing in bikes/trailers/helmets for the whole family. We thought that IF we could get Carter to cooperate, bike riding would be a great family activity for us. We live in an area with many opportunities for riding, and we're always looking for productive ways to get outside.

So the week before Spring Break, we took the plunge and purchased a bike for both Jake and I, a trailer/jogger for Macy and Silas, a WeeHoo for Carter, and helmets for everyone. The bikes arrived towards the end of Spring Break, and we prepped Carter as best we could.

As we headed out for our first before-dinner bike ride, Jake and I had a pep talk. "Carter is probably going to hate it - and that's okay! He'll get there! This is the first ride of many, and it will probably grow on him! Whatever happens in the next hour, everything will be okay!"

(If you have a kid on the spectrum - I'm betting you've given yourself this same pep talk 100 times)

What happened next, you ask? Carter is what happened next.

"COOOOOOOL!!! New bikes!!! Cool!!! Helmet!! Dad pull!!! COOOOL!!!"

Happy, confident, brave, relaxed - all words to describe Carter on his first ever bike ride.

Jake and I looked at each other multiple times throughout our ride in amazement. Who is this kid? Is this really happening? How did we get here?

(I've got answers for all those questions. That's how we got here.)

Carter Benjamin, killin' it since 2008.

We survived Spring Break 2018. And we can't wait for summer.

**Intrigued by the WeeHoo? Check them out here:

Friday, March 09, 2018

Genuinely Three.

"You're full of life now
You're full of passion
It's how He made you
Just let it happen"

Our Sunshine Girl is three years old. As I put her to bed last night, she said "Mama, just snuggle me some mooorrre...". It was hard to peel myself out of her bed and up the stairs.

Good night, two year old. Good morning, three year old.

I have so many favorite things about Macy right now. She's got so much happening in her mind and her soul. Her brain is so active and what's inside comes out freely.

Confidently, she speaks. Genuinely, she shares her thoughts with the world.

"But mom, that one's not my faaaavorite..."
"Mom, I'm feelin' angry right now."
"It's okay, buddy, it's okay."
"Oh, yep! I betcha!"
"Here me are!"
"Ohhh, c'mhere baby. IIII gotcha, IIII gotcha."
"Mom, I think I need some mom time."

She's so gutsy and brave as she tries some new, big phrases on for size. Sometimes she faceplants and Jake and I try hard to hold back our laughter.

Other times, she soars.

I can learn so much from this girl.

Year Two was better than anything I could have imagined. Year Two was filled with joy and snuggles and compliance and such. Year Three might be a little different.

I enter Year Three boldly and confidently, just as my three year old daughter would. I'm not a good example for someone looking for perfection. I can't teach smartness. I don't know much about lots of things.

But what I can do is inspire genuine uniqueness. That's something I grasp, and want to share with my kids.

Be you, sweet Macyn. It's better than anything else you could ever be. You have strengths that we don't have. You know and understand things in beautifully unique ways, and when you share those things it makes all of us better.

We need you.

This is how He made you. Let it happen, little lady.

As you grow and change this next year, I wonder if you'll become more concerned with what others think. What I want to tell you is "Don't worry about it! Their thoughts about you don't matter!" but instead I'll say - Dear one, why would you worry? You are uniquely you.

This is how He made you. Let it happen.

Yes, I know, it's doesn't feel good when people don't understand you. That can be super hard.

But we understand you. And you'll understand you.
(Not everyone can say that)

And we'll work it out, together.

If anyone in our home is full of life and passion, it's you. Hang on tightly to that which drives you. It will be there your whole life through. We'll help you learn what it is, and where to find it, and how to use it best.

It's how He made you. Just let it happen.

Today, you are fearless. Ever since we can remember, when you jump to us it's with incredible freedom. Whether you're on the counter, at the door of the van, on the edge of your bed, on the side of the pool - when we hold out our arms to catch you, you jump in a complete, total-abandon, here-I-come way.

You don't wonder if we'll catch you. You don't pause in fear before jumping. You don't wonder what we'll think of your flailing arms and lanky legs.

You smile, and fly.

That's what I want so much of, and I'm learning it from you.

To Macyn Joy - on your third birthday. May we be more like you every day. Thanks for teaching us. We have so much to learn.

Here we walk, into year three, bold and confident. Smile & fly.

One Thing I Know For Sure: It's how He made you. Let it happen.

(Lyrics quoted throughout this post are from this song.)

Read Macyn's Birth Story HERE
Read Macyn's First Birthday Post HERE
Read Macyn's Second Birthday Post HERE

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Mr. ONEderful Turns One.

Last night, I gave you extra kisses. Kisses aplenty. It was our last night to have a baby in the house. 

Today, you are one. 

Of course, I just listened to the audio that Daddy took as you took your very first breath (one of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts your Daddy ever gave me - recording the first moments of your life, and of Macy's life). 

The first four minutes of your life, all on audio. 

What I heard was so much love. Lots of laughing and affirming. Tiny little cries from you. A midwife who said "Silas, don't mess with your mama" because in two pushes, you were here.

And then I said what I so remember feeling.

"That was hard. That was really hard."

Your first moments of life were intense, for sure. I wasn't expecting it to go that way.

It was a hard 20 minutes of active labor, but I had no idea of the good stuff that awaited me.

I'm so glad we said "let's have one more". 

Silas Jacob - the friendliest of friends. Social butterfly, fully engaged, feeling all the people.

Our family needed you.

You've made life easy for this mama, who now has three kids to mind. You can entertain yourself for long periods of time while I help a Big Sister with her magnet tile creations and play doh sculpting, and a Big Brother with his snacks and dressing his babydoll.

I peek at you from time to time, and when our eyes meet you flash me the hammiest smile.

You don't need me, usually - but I'm thankful that you want me. I'll be your jungle gym, your food-giver, your two-second snuggle when you're upset.

It may seem like I'm busy, but I'm here. And I'm never too busy for you.

On your first birthday, I'm allowing myself to feel all the sentimental feelings. I'm celebrating your life - and celebrating you.

You! Silas Jacob. Siley-J. Siley-Jaybird. Si-si. Siley Pep.

A unique little person, who will do well with nourishing and cherishing.

I'm so glad that I get to be your mom.

Sometimes we'll step back and say "That was hard" but there are good things around the bend.

I'm sure of it.

And together, Team Gibson will get there. Sometimes it will be slow (it's usually best that way). Sometimes it will be uncomfortable (most good things are). But big smiles and sunshine await.

So, to our sweet, friendly, patient, tender boy: we treasure you, buddy. We believe that big, amazing, excellent things await you. We are so glad to be part of your unique story. Helping you write it will be one of the greatest joys of our life.

Here's to a wild & precious life of loving others and being loved by others.

"Yaaaaay Siley!"

One Thing I Know For Sure: So much love.

Read Silas's Birth Story HERE.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Top 10 of 2017

It's time for the Top 10 of 2017.

Hahaha.  That's a funny joke.  Everyone here knows I didn't keep it to just ten. I just can't help it - I start looking through photos from the past 12 months, and all the feels just come at me, and soon they're dripping out of my eyes. 

So, let's call this post "My Biggest Feels of 2017". That's better. 

In chronological order, because I could never pick a favorite. Here we go.


Silas Jacob was welcomed into the world on March 7, and Macy marched right in and took her role as Big Sis very seriously. I'll never forget her squeaky little 23-month old voice saying "Hi, Tiny! Hi, Little Squeaker!" like she had been waiting nine months to call him those names. Her squinty eyes and squishy cheeks pointed up in the most sincere smile, this girl was sister-material from the beginning.


Just two days after welcoming Silas, we celebrated Macy's second birthday. Sweetest little sunshine girl, celebrating her comes easy.


When Macy was a baby, Carter tolerated her. He might have even liked her, a little bit. But his relationship with Silas is different. Maybe it's brotherhood. Maybe Carter has matured. Maybe he practiced with Macy and is perfecting it with Silas. Whatever it is, I like it. 


Blurry sister, but I don't care. These are the early days with three kids. The photos were blurry, and so was our life. Things are clearing up a bit now, but these blurry days still look so good to me. What she doesn't know is this boy she calls 'Tiny' will soon be as big as her, and into all her stuff. Either way, love still grows.


Those blurry days I talked about? Even the teeth brushing sessions were precious. Three kids, a tired mom, and so much goodness. These are the moments I'll cry for 10 years from now. 


Remember that one time, when Carter turned 9, and we asked him what he wanted for a cake, and he said "Lemon pie"? And we kept asking him over and over, because he couldn't possibly want that. And then his party came, and he was ecstatic to see Lemon Pie. Remember that? Carter knows what he wants. He can tell us what he wants. When he tells us something, we believe him. 


My Grampie, and my baby - at Carter's 9th Birthday.  Just a few weeks after taking this photo, I learned some hard news, and the reality was that there was a chance this would be one of the last birthday parties my Grampie would attend. In an instant, this photo became ultra-special. Turns out, he's going to be around for a while. But this photo serves as a reminder to me of the fragility of life, and the power of our Right & Just God.


Our first photo as a family of five. A little crooked, a little wonky, but totally perfect. This is us.


This is our summer, in a nutshell. 


This girl and her daddy have something all their own. His 'mini-me', in more ways that one.


I'm just a mom, trying to figure out life with three kids. By mid-summer, we're getting there. Carter is either a tremendous help, or the one who needs the most help. There's no in-between - but when it's good, it's soooo good.


When it's good - it's sooooo good. How can we help him get to 'good'? How about making a permanent kiddie pool for him to play boats in? What if we add a filter with a little fountain? Success.


Here we are, three-fifths of a family, being pushed and stretched in all directions. This baseball outing was one of the first outings with Carter after taking the gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free/peanut-free/rice-free plunge. It's been an amazing journey of growth for all of us - but here we are, trying something hard (restaurant food) with our kiddo who wants nothing more than a dang bun and ice cream. But we helped him through it, and he was a champ. Here's to growth.


"Mom, your my bester friend ever!". Yes, dear one. The feeling is mutual. Let's be bester friends forever and ever. We need each other.


Saint Germain, 2017 - a hard week for our nine year old who wants so badly to be independent like any other nine year old...but can't be trusted alone for more than a second. For a few minutes, he played in his room with his beloved 'pink baby' and as I watched to see what he would do, I saw a happy, tender, caring boy who rocked and kissed his baby so sweetly. Independence is growing, and we'll get there.


This is Macy, two years old and so confident. From head to toe, uniquely perfect.


This is what it looks like to be understood and loved. Run free, sweet boy. Run right into the good things ahead.

Read more here.


Tubbies in the sink after an evening of playing outside after dinner. Time, slow down. 


As his personality develops, we see a sweet little boy underneath the perfect amount of rough-and-tumble. Sensitive, gentle, and kindhearted. This is Siley-J. Siley-Jaybird. Si-si. Casa (Carter gave him this we embrace it). Sweet guy.


In those days when life seemed blurry and out of focus, this guy helped me to reign it back in. Here he is, doing something he used to hate. He's enjoying it, he's interacting with Macy and I while he's doing it, he's focused and determined. It's hard to believe there were days I never thought we'd get here.

But here we are.

2017 is in the books. I had big intentions for sending out New Year cards (instead of Christmas cards). I designed them excitedly...and then didn't follow through with actually having them printed and mailed out (which, as it turns out, are pretty important steps in the card-sending process). long as you're here...

Here's to 2018. May it be one amazing year.
Even if it's not.

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