Friday, July 11, 2014

Hi, Vlad!

It never fails. Everywhere we go, Ukraine follows us.

We had the sweetest, kindest waiter tonight (who even let us switch tables) for dinner. His name was Vlad, and his accent gave him away.

When we told him about our connection to Ukraine, all he could say was 'thank you'. He knew full-well that our Carter boy would have no future in Ukraine. And we told him about his future here.

"He's going to school!"
"He plays baseball!"
"He couldn't talk when we met him. Now he can."
"Oh my!"

His hairs stood on end (I know this, because he told us). His eyes filled with tears.

"Thank you."

No, Vlad, thank YOU. Over our awesome dinner (Apple bacon pork chops at Coopers Corner are amazing) we talked about our sweet boy and were reminded of how far he has come. Our little gift, growing and changing before our eyes.

This photo showed up in our email inbox 5 months before meeting Carter.
My, my. How he has changed. 

Be blessed, Vlad.


I left him our blog, and I hope he visits. Vlad - if you're here, click '2011' over on the left. And then click 'October' to start reading.

And you, dear reader - if you've never read Carter's story and have a few hours to kill, check it out.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Slava Ukraini.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Life as a Twenty-Something.

Raise your hand if you're 30 or older.

Raise your hand if you cried a little when you met 30.

Okay.  Good.

I'm turning 30 in September...but this post is not about me.

Someone else is turning 30 on Saturday :)

Someone who told me many months ago, when I was lamenting about the big 3-0, that "Thirty is no big deal! I don't know why you're even talking about it!".

Someone who is now wondering how it's even possible that 30 is at his doorstep, wondering how it's even possible that the previous decade went by in a blink, wondering how he can slow down the next decade so that 40 is not ringing the doorbell in what seems like 3.7 seconds.

Since the last decade went by in a flash, let's recap.

Here we are, cute, perky, just about to enter our 20's.  And I'm certain that we were so relieved to finally be a twenty-something and not a teenager.  Because that's so lame.

And now we're engaged, and it seems like life can't get much better.

Then the wedding of our dreams - completely perfect in every way.

Time to add to the fam! Let's get a little sassy & wild Springer and name him Moses.  Four years later, he'll break our hearts into a million pieces.  And we'll wonder if we can ever love a furry friend again.

You graduated after several years of persistence and dedication.  I would have given up.  Well, I did.

Time to add to the fam, again! Let's add a little sassy, wild Ukrainian and name him Carter Benjamin.

Our world stops.
I think our hearts beat for the very first time.
We are parents to the most precious boy.

We do fun stuff.  We go fun places.  We experience new things.  All done hand in hand.

Well, except this. You mostly do this by yourself :)

We figure out this family thing, and for every moment of hurt and error there are 10 moments of joy and excitement.

You continue to be silly, always knowing just how to make me laugh.
{Unless I say "Jake - you're being annoying - knock it off!" - sometimes I'm right about this.  Sometimes not.}

You are the best daddy to this little firecracker.  He loves you so, and the whole world knows it.  You are his favorite person, I'm sure.  And nothing thrills me more.

You love lots of people.  You love lots of kids.  This kid is your birthday buddy :)
{Happy Birthday on Saturday, Anna! We love you!}

You do crazy things.  Sometimes people don't understand you.  They don't see your heart or know your motive.  Sometimes, they just don't get you.  But I do.  And sometimes, we'll just need chalk it up to 'haters gonna hate'.  Fo sho.

We finally made the move to the town we love.  Isn't it great here?  What an awesome place to raise a little Gibson family. {It will be even better when we have grass and a dry yard.  Looking for an excavator in the Valley? I'll tell you who not to use.}

Our twenties.  Gone in a blink.

Well, yours are gone.  I've still got a good 3 months.


The twenties were good, babe.  Hard stuff?  Yep.  Questions, left unanswered?  Sure.  Wishing & wondering?  Of course.  But look how good.

Here's to the next decade.  Our thirties.
Let's not dread it, but walk into it with joy & excitement.

Let's rock this decade.
It's what we do.

Love you.

One Thing I Know For Sure: "Thirty is an attitude. It says you know what you're doing and you've got what it takes to get where you're going. The fact is, you've never been better or smarter or more ready for adventures than you are right now.  So welcome to prime time."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Carter's First Game.

It's probably a day that men dream of when they're young.  Sort of like little girls dreaming about their wedding day.  

A son's first baseball game.  

Carter's first baseball game might not have been what a younger-Jake had imagined.

Two innings with a seventh inning stretch in between while both teams belt out "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".  Every kid hits, every kid makes it home.


Some kids with wheels.
Some kids with braces.
Some kids who take a long time to work up the gumption to swing the bat.
{Or maybe they just know when the bat swings, their turn is up} :)
Some kids who smile so big you think their cheeks will fall off.
Some tall kids, some short kids.
Some kids who would love nothing more than to run the perimeter of the field.
{That would be our kid}
Some kids who touch each base and count it when they get there ("One!" "Two!" "Three!").
{That would also be our kid}
Some kids who have a huge cheer section.
{What can I say - we are crazy blessed}

A crowd who cheers for every hit - every run - every attempt.  Two awesome coaches, and buddies.  Lots of buddies.

Carter gets to play a (short!) game, be in on the action, have fun in the outfield, and still feel like a champ.  

He gets to hear his name announced like he's a pro.  

Well, he basically is.  


Have I told you about Carter's buddy?  You probably know him.  He goes by "Uncle Ben" :)

We are so grateful for The Miracle League.

{And for the Hardee's down the road, which has Carter-approved ice cream for after-game treats}



Look at my two favorite boys.

I'd say Carter's first game was better than Jake could have ever imagined.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Play Ball!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Party Hard.

Party Hard.

That was our motto for Carter's birthday weekend.  In years past, we've had the whole clan over for one big party.  And we spent the whole time containing Carter, instead of letting him enjoy his day.

Ridiculous, right?  Right.  So this year: separate, smaller parties.  And one flippin' happy boy.

The morning of his birthday, Jake had an early meeting, so it was just me and this snuggly, smiley, sweet six year old.



Of course we had cinnamon rolls with frosting and sprinkles and a little melty green candle.  It was a good start to the birthday weekend.

And then.

Carter knew it was his birthday.  He knew we had family coming later.  

Rookie Parent Mistake #1: Telling your kid about exciting stuff that will be happening more than 4 hours in the future.  I think 4 is the magic number here.  We made the mistake of telling him more than 20 hours in advance.  This gave him time to sleep on it.  What were we thinking?!

I don't think I even need to explain this scenario, but I will:

"Carter!  Toys stay inside!" (he was throwing them out the door)

"Carter...water off!" (he was turning it on, hoping for bath #2)

"Carter, let's go make your bed...again..." (he was pulling his bedding off and dragging it around)

You get the idea.  

I survived, and so did he (barely, just barely).  

Finally, everyone was here.  And guess what?  Carter behaved like a little gem.  

My Grannie is the family photographer, as you can see :)
Love when this sweet boy takes a second to rest on his mama's lap.  It doesn't happen too often anymore, so when it does, I'm glad to have a picture.

Sometimes, it's the most random toys.

Carter really impressed me with his gift opening skills.  He was so....mature.  No ripping wildly and jumping from gift to gift.  He gets how this stuff works.

Except for the cards.  They are just a useless barrier between Carter and the goods.


No, I didn't make the cake.  Are you kidding me?!

It's awfully nice to have a cake decorator wannabe in the family!! 

Fun Fact: My Grampie always seems to pop up in the background of Carter's birthday cake pictures.  I love this!
Jake, I'm sorry.  I know it's not your best shot.  But look at our kid!  Let me caption this for everyone else who doesn't live inside Carter's head, like we do:

"Girl! Why are you takin' my pitcher when I'm tryna eat my cake?! Get outta here, girl!"

All good stuff.


Jump ahead two days and we're at round two.

I did all the food for the first party, and Jake did all the food for this party.

He's a keeper...I know :)

I'm not sure why I have hardly any pictures from this party.  Maybe because I was zonked from the crazy weekend?  I don't know.  But here's what I do have.

Yes, he's in a pool.  It was one of his gifts!  We were really, really hoping he would get one.  Now when people drive by, our kid will be in a pool instead of a big Rubbermaid container.

I wish I was kidding.  What can I say?  We improvise.

Can you tell he liked the truck?  He had to take a nice, close look :)

And then there's this.

You may know that Carter is playing baseball this year.  He is playing on a Miracle League, which means he will have a buddy to help him.  But not just any buddy!  Because he has the best Uncle in the whole world, he'll be running the bases with Uncle Ben by his side.

So, of course, Uncle Ben bought Carter all the baseball stuff he could :) The shirt is his actual jersey.  The pants, cleats, and a mitt are all from Uncle B.

Is that sweet, or is that sweet?

Awww :)


That's it.  Birthday Weekend, 6.0.  And now we have a big six year old.  Jake said "Do you feel old enough to be the mom of a six year old?".


Think about this: next year, he'll be seven.  What?!?

And here's something even crazier - in an hour, I'll be leaving to visit him at school for "Popsicles with Parents" - as he finishes his last year in Early Childhood.

Which means next year, it's Kindergarten.  Huh?!?

How did this happen?!

"When are you having more kids. though??".

More on this later.  Maybe.  Or maybe not :)

One Thing I Know For Sure: So proud of our big six year old!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hello, Six.

Today is the day, if it hasn't happened already.

Paperwork has been done, photos have been updated, arrangements have been made.  Anton's life is about to be turned upside down, and he doesn't even know it.

Today, he turns six.  And at Anton's orphanage, six is the age you get transferred to an adult mental institution.  It's almost a death sentence.

But God.  God has given this boy a life sentence.


Anton is now Carter.  And Carter is just waking up, loved and adored by his family.  He knows it's his birthday.  Boy, does he know it.

Candles are ready, taco bar prepped (Carter has a deep love for all things Mexican), and gifts carefully wrapped.

As I put Carter to bed last night, I was eager to get things ready for his party today.  Cleaning to do!  Food to prep!  Laundry to start!  I just couldn't.  I climbed in to bed with our little five year old, and he snuggled in so perfectly.

He loves us.  We love him.  It couldn't be any better.  He cups his little hand over his chin, so his fingers just cover his mouth.  He giggles in his sweet little boy way, and he sucks his tongue like he does when he's tired.

My heart melts.  This is where I'm supposed to be.

During this past year, so much has changed.  Carter went from calling us "Mama" & "Dada" to just "Mom" and "Dad".  Carter has preferences now - before, things like what color marker to use or what shoes to wear made no difference.  He sleeps in a twin bed with no toddler rail, and he stays in it all night.  Carter can walk through a store without even touching the cart.  He is an independent little helper - seeing that I need a spoon for his cereal, and getting it himself before I ask.

Year five was good to us.

Year five was tough, too, I'm not gonna lie.  But we're learning so much. And if year five was the year of questions & confusion, year six is the year of answers & understanding.

So, to Carter.  Our Pal Pal.  Our Honey Bear.  We are so proud of you.  You teach us new things every single day.  We are slow to learn, we know.  But you are a patient teacher.  We know that this year will be full of all good things - and we are so thankful that we get to walk with you through all of it.  What a wild, precious life we have.

What a wild, precious boy you are.  I can't think of two words that fit you more.

On this, your sixth year, may you enjoy many chips & rice nights, may you become the best baseball player you can be, and may kindergarten never let you down.

You're the best, pal pal.  We can't imagine life without you.  Why would we want to?!


Year Six.  It's looking pretty good.  Feeling so very grateful.  So hopeful.  And crazy proud.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Goodbye Five, Hello Six!

You can read about Carter's fourth birthday here and here, and his fifth birthday here and here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


I've got ten minutes before Carter gets off the suburban.

We'll see how much I can fit in.

+The house is great.  So great.  We love it here, and look forward to a long and happy life in this sweet little house.

+As much as we love this house, Carter loves it more.  It's his home, for sure.

+Carter rides the suburban to school now! He's such a big boy, and I partly want to sob.  We see the suburban pull up (filled with all his little friends) and he says "DOONNNAAA!".  That's the driver.  He's smitten.

+It feels like it finally might be turning into spring, which is great news for people who have yards and driveways.  We have neither.  So we venture down our smooshy gravel driveway and head for the road.  And we walk.  And walk.  And walk.  And then pray that Carter is ready to go back inside.

+When will we have a driveway or yard? Not for a very, very long time, thanks to extra wet conditions.  Boo.

+Carter eats more fruit than I can keep up with.  Before school at noon-ish, he eats: a banana, an apple, pineapple or watermelon, grapes, and strawberries.  At a minimum.  Which means Mama eats more fruit, too.  Win-win!

+We're all healthy again.  Since we've moved in, at least one of us has been sick.  But now we're healthy, and what a difference that makes.

+Essential oils.  I never thought they'd be for me.  More to come on this, maybe.  But for now, I'm learning so much and having fun trying different concoctions with my two favorite guys.

+Girls night was last night.  Lots of laughter, and well-wishes for a mama who will be welcoming her littlest into this world in just a few days.  Good, good stuff.

+I'm getting bored with my at-home coffee routine (not to be confused with my 'cafe' coffee routine!). Anyone else? I don't look forward to it, and it doesn't even taste good to me anymore.  Any k-cups that I buy are too strong or too weak.  I even bought a box of tea last week.  Tea!  I didn't like that, either.  I'm sure you're going to be at the edge of your seats, wondering what I end up doing - so I'll be sure to keep you all posted.  :)

Currently, this is my coffee substitute.

The coffee isn't great, but the view is perfection!
+I went to a Down syndrome conference this weekend.  Which is fun in itself, but the best part?  I sat with 3 members of Carter's team.  Three!  I realize we have an extra special group of professionals at school.  We are sort of incredibly lucky.  And in a few weeks, we'll all sit together for Carter's IEP meeting.  For kindergarten.  Kindergarten!

+Carter has been completely rocking the big-boy bed.  If you remember, he's been in a twin bed since we moved into Jake's parents house back in August...but he was at the foot of our bed.  So he didn't dare leave his bed during the night!  We had a couple 2AM "I want to play with toys now" episodes during our first week here - but not one since!  He stays in bed until morning, and gets up to play then (usually around 7AM).  Big boy!

DONNNNAAAA will be here any second - which means I'm done.  Much love to you all.

One Thing I Know For Sure: This life is so good.  So full.  So messy and perfect.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


We are HOME! Saturday night was our first sleep in the new digs.

Let me back up.  The movers came to unload everything on Friday, and Jake and I spent Saturday hauling a few more loads and getting everything settled in while Carter spent the day with my mom.

When we went to pick Carter up in the afternoon, it was obvious that he felt like crud.  Great.  First night in a new place, and dude is sick.  

Carter cried on and off during the ride home - completely not like him.  We told him we were going to the house and he cried some more.  He wanted his bed, and his jammies - and he didn't understand that those were now at the house.

More tears, more explaining, more tears, and two bummed parents.  

We finally made it home - Carter walked in the door, and instantly relaxed.  He was home.  It didn't matter that we were in a new place.  

Because we are his home.  

He was comfortable, because we were there.  He was home, because he was with us.  


After tucking our little buddy in his new bed, we did what anyone would do.  We made a pizza and some breadsticks, and went to bed early.

"This is weird - we're eating dinner - and nobody else is home!"

Remember those 7 months we spent living with Jake's fam?  It's almost like a distant memory now.  Almost.  :)

Sunday morning looked like this:

Coffee, jammies, books in laps - all done before church.

A little more unpacking on Sunday afternoon, and I was glad to see this little lady survived the move.

Then just more of this:

I mean, what do you want me to say?  Life is looking pretty good here.  Carter is back to normal (he was a bit of an animal at Mimi & Poppy's house - darting from one room to the next, never really settling to play with toys).  He finds a spot, grabs a toy, and does exactly what little boys are supposed to do.

It's good to be back to normal.  And it's good to eat plain tortillas.

It's Carter's newest love.  Whatever.


Our first days here haven't quite gone as expected.  We're all sick - so it's basically been survival-mode since Saturday.  Which means there are more things in boxes than I'd like.  

Oh well.

I'm good with it.  It's good to slow down.  It will get done when it gets done.

The bonus is that I've been reunited with my old childhood love: Little House on the Prairie.  It's on while Carter's at school, and since I hit the bed as soon as I drop him off, I've had three whole afternoons to get reacquainted with Laura and Willie and that nasty Mrs. Oleson.  She really gets me.

Carter's on day 4 of his antibiotic, and I'm on day 2.  Which means that tomorrow, we should all be feeling so much better.  I know, I know...antibiotics.  Not my favorite thing.  But sometimes it's necessary.  Or just bad timing - just hours after I started my antibiotic, my Young Living kit arrived at our old address.

Oh well.


That's all I've got.  Time for Little House.

One Thing I Know For Sure: There's no place like home!

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