Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Our Nine Year Old Boy

Carter is nine years old (that's one birthday away from ten). 

Boats, airplanes, and garbage trucks won out this year (and last year, and the year before that, and the year before that...anyone looking for some well loved trucks? I've got a stash.)

Carter asked for trucks this year, and lemon meringue pie. We kept double checking with him as the party approached.

"Carter, are you sure you want yellow pie?"
"Carter, do you want yellow lemon pie, or chocolate cake?"
"Lella piiieee!!!!"

Yes, he ate it. Yes, he liked it. Yes, he knew what he was asking for.

Sometimes this boy has us scratching our heads. Year Eight had us doing tons of head scratching, and readjusting, and trying this, and deleting that, and, and, and...

Year Nine, we welcome you.

We've learned to adjust and go with the flow. We've learned how to see a rough patch coming, and prepare for it. But that doesn't mean it's easy or fun.

{Macy has learned things too - like how to sit back and relax while brother picks his favorites off her plate. I try to tell myself that this is good for her, long-term. Because, justice.}

So we try to stay ten steps ahead, without running ahead too far. We try to keep the family balanced and happy. We try to buy the nine year old baby dolls so that Macy's dolls can stay out of the pool.

We try and try and try.

And then we realize that the trying is too much, and we sit back and let life happen.

Everyone relaxes a bit. The floors get dirty. The laundry piles up. The grass gets long(ish). 

Then wine is enjoyed on the patio - family and friends run through the backyard with squirt guns in hand - last minute play dates at the pool have us splashing until bedtime.


So, to our Big Boy on his 9th year of life. This could be your best year yet. Or maybe it will be your worst. I'm just being real.

Whatever the year ahead brings - we're doing it together. Step by step, feeling you out, learning you more each day, asking God for help to understand you best. You're a complex little boy, and we'll spend every day learning how to love you.

First photo as a family of five - and I can't think of a better big brother for Macy and Silas. You're teaching us how to be better parents, and for that, Macy and Silas owe you.

As Macyn would say - "Carter B! Buddy! Brudder Bear! I wuz you!". Here's to year nine. Let's tackle it together (trucks in hand).

One Thing I Know For Sure: We owe you!

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Tomorrow we will take our Siley J to his 2 week doctors appointment. While we're there, we will pop in to visit all the people who helped us get to where we are today.

This is our Thank You.


I still remember the first conversation that started this crazy journey. My friend, Juli, was over for coffee and she asked when we would start having babies. After all, Carter had been home 3 years and she knew we wanted more kiddos.

I told her we'd been trying for almost 2 years, and I was starting to think we'd just adopt a baby.

A baby.

Adopting Carter at 3 years old was good. We wouldn't change anything about how our 'first born' came to us. But for as long as I can remember, I've longed to have a baby.

Juli mentioned 'the midwives', and I called to make an appointment the next day.


My first appointment was with Brenna. I was nervous, because - what if she confirms the worst - that we won't be having any babies?

She created a safe place in that room - and I instantly felt like I was chatting with an old friend. She asked me some questions, ran some tests, and put me on a teeny, tiny dose of levothyroxine (for my thyroid). 

As she was leaving the exam room, she turned back around, peeked in the door, & chirped "Girl - we're gonna get you pregnant!".

Hope. Maybe this could actually happen.

Our soon-to-be Big Brother, with Macy's ultrasound pictures

Three weeks later, I was pregnant.


My head was in the clouds for most of Macy's pregnancy. I had some weird pregnancy symptoms, but my excitement that we were actually pregnant overshadowed all of the jaw pain and hip pain and gum pain (pregnancy gingivitis is a real thing, apparently).

Her due date came - and my 'old friend' Brenna was on call. Through 16 hours of labor, she was in & out of our room - affirming me, making small talk, and offering Jake some support, too.

Ninety minutes of pushing - and I needed Jake & Brenna for every single second of it. I was full of doubt that I could actually do this. They told me I could.

They were right - I did it. We did it.

The second Macyn was born, Brenna said "She looks just like Jake!". No truer words have ever been spoken :)

Five minutes after she was born, I told Jake that I couldn't wait to do that again. I was serious. I felt amazing. I had always questioned if I could actually deliver a baby without an epidural. It seemed like something other women could do - but was I really strong enough?

I was. We were. It was a team effort.


Fifteen months later, Jake and I decide to start trying for the next baby - fully expecting it to take us 'a while'.

It didn't. Within a few days, we were pregnant.

This pregnancy was easier than Macy's, even. I didn't have all the weird pregnancy symptoms, and I was busy. Mom to a toddler and a second grader, plus a gamut of other things on my plate...this pregnancy was over in a blink.

Heading to the hospital late at night, feeling so ready to meet our baby boy - wondering how our lives were about to change.

Loree was on call - and I saw her for just a few minutes during my 5 hours of labor. When it came time to push, she came in and said "You're the expert - just do it!".

I did it. Two big pushes and our sweet boy was in my arms.

We did it.


As I type this, all three of our kids are soundly sleeping in their beds. Each one, a gift. Each one, unique. Each one, cherished.

Without Hope, none of them would be here.

Someone delivered this baby of ours, too. Midwife - Doctor - whoever you are, we're grateful for you, too.

To The Midwives, Nurses, Ultrasound Techs, and Receptionists (yes, even you!)  -
The work you do is important. You don't just see patients, or check them in, or do exams, or run vitals, or perform ultrasounds, or deliver babies. For me, and for our family, you offered just the right amount of Hope.

Brenna & Loree - I don't think I'll ever forget the value you both gave me in Room 310 (where both our babies were born), almost exactly 2 years apart. You both gave me just what I needed. With Macy, I needed the moment-by-moment care and constant affirmation. With Silas, I just needed someone to show up and tell me to do it.

Our little family is complete (I think). Our days of 'having babies' are over - and now we are in the season of 'raising babies'. This is the season I've always looked forward to.

But without Hope, there would be no 'raising babies' season. The work you do is important.

We owe you!


One Thing I Know For Sure: Forever Grateful!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Silas Jacob is Here.

Welcome to the world, Silas Jacob. You are twelve days old today, and it seems like I've known you forever. 

This is how your story begins.

You happened quickly - we were pregnant with you within days of deciding that we wanted another baby. The emotions were intense. 

We're pregnant! 
Wait, we're pregnant? 
Yes! We're pregnant! 

Due two days before Macy's second birthday. When I dreamt about being a mom (it's all I ever wanted) I dreamt about my kids being exactly two years apart.

We found out you were a boy on a Thursday afternoon. Brenna, the midwife, called with the test results. We were all in our bedroom - Carter and Macy laying on the bed, Dad just getting home from work, and me - putting the call on speaker so everyone could hear. And you. You were there, too.

"Are you ready? Are you sitting down? It's a......BOY!!!"

Celebration and cheering ensued. Dad cried a little, I think. 

I did, too. When I dreamt about being a mom, I dreamt about having two boys and a girl. 

The next several months were filled with snuggling a one year old, buying a minivan, packing school lunches, a growing belly, finishing our basement, reading books in laps, gestational diabetes (bummer - but really not so bad!), countless loads of laundry - countless family meals - countless walks to the lake - countless bedtime stories. 

But you already know all of this, because you were there.

The day before your due date, I felt amazing. I had more energy than I did in weeks. Both Carter and Macy were more needy and clingy than ever, that evening. I wondered if something was about to happen.

Daddy and I went to bed - I was sleeping soundly by 9 - he fell asleep around 10.

At 10:20pm, my water broke. 

At 11:20pm, we were at the hospital.

At 12:20am, I started my first round of antibiotics (because I was GBS+). I was 5 cm dilated.

At 1:00am, the contractions were becoming too intense, and I asked for a little nubain (which allows for rest between contractions, and takes the edge off a bit). 

At 3:20am, I thought the nubain must have been wearing off because everything was so intense again. The nurse checked me...and told me I was only at 6 or 7 cm dilated. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. They gave me a little more nubain.

At 3:40, I told the nurse I felt a little 'pushy'. "NO! It's too early." The midwife, Loree, was called in, I think. And by the time she was at the door, I was pushing. She walked in and said "Ashley, you're the expert. Your body knows what to do. Do it."

At 3:50, you took your very first breath. Dad and I fell in love. The world is forever changed.

Silas Jacob - 7lbs 2oz - 18.5 inches long. Born on your due date, just like your sister.  Five intense hours of labor, two intense pushes, and here you were - big dark eyes looking into mine.

Suddenly, the last 9 months are all a blur. How did we get here? Three precious kids - a daughter and two sons.

This is our life.


Later that afternoon, we had some really special visitors.

For fun, you can go back and look at Macy's birth story - you'll see the same giraffe. And the same big brother. He'll always be there, looking over you (even when it doesn't seem like it).

Some people won't understand him (or his giraffe) - and that's okay. We understand him - and he'll understand you, more than you know. You're brothers, and brothers are special.

Oh, and sisters. Sisters are special, too. Just in a different way. YOUR sister adored you from the minute she looked at you. She had a nickname for you after 2 minutes of knowing you.

"Hi, Tiny!"
"Hold Tiny?"
"Bottle, Tiny?"
"Snuggle Tiny!"
"Come here, Tiny!"

I can't help but think you're the luckiest baby ever.


We came home on a Thursday. We said goodbye to NaNa, who was here with Macy, and put Macy down for her nap.

And then we looked at each other. We have three kids. Each one of them perfectly unique.

I can't promise we'll always get it right. I can't even promise we'll mostly get it right.

I can promise that we'll ask for grace every single day. We need God's Wisdom in how to best love you, uniquely.

But, you know all about that, too.
Grace - Wisdom - Love - Uniqueness...all very familiar principles for your fresh little brain.

Siley J - this is the beginning of your story. It started with great intensity - where will it go from here?

You get to decide, sweet boy. You hold the pen. We'll help to strengthen and guide your hand as you eventually pick it up and write - but this story is all yours.

We owe you, Silas. We'll spend every day loving you the best we can.

One Thing I Know For Sure: We can't wait to discover who you are.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Macy is Two.

Dear Macy,
Today, you are two years old. You'll ask for help today to hold up two fingers, because it's trickier than it looks. You'll sing 'happy bo-day' as you eat your green yogurt and strawberries. And this mama's heart will sing right along with you.

Two years old is special.

I remember finding out I was pregnant with you, and I secretly hoped we would have a girl.

A girl, with spunk. Maybe some sass.

And if we could have a girl with spunk and sass, but also a kind heart and a sunny disposition...well, I didn't hope for that. Because that seemed to be asking too much.

But, somehow...that's exactly what we got. A girl with sass and spunk and sunshine oozing out of every square inch. Our joy-girl, spilling love into every day. You are so much more than we ever asked for.

Soon to be our 'middle child', Daddy and I talked about you the other night.
Will she ever forgive us for turning her world upside down?
Will she get lost in the shuffle?
What if our extra-special relationship changes?
What if she loses some of her sparkle?

Macyn Joy, you can be the little Woman between two little Men. We'll help you, and teach you, and show you. We'll cherish you and nourish you. And then cherish you again. We'll use the tools we have to grow you up into everything God has created you to be.

So, between the chocolate milk in coffee mugs, and time on your 'ipap', and playing with brother's garbage trucks while he's at school, and begging to 'pway mama dowwy houth'...there will be Grace.

Grace that grows us and stretches us and changes us.

Two years old is a beautiful thing. So much wonder and excitement.

The other day, we were all playing outside in the driveway. Daddy opened up a lawn chair. A lawn chair! Something I've seen at least 700 times in my life. But you had never seen a lawn chair be opened before. You looked at the chair - and you looked at Daddy. And you said "Daddy! OH WOW!". Your genuineness stopped me.

You stared at that chair in amazement - and had a brand new reason to adore your Daddy.

I've spent time this week wishing you could stay little. The snuggles are nice, but it's not about that.

I wish you could stay little, so you never lose your wide-eyed wonder. I wish Two-Years-Old would never end, so that the genuine - vibrant - confident girl would never disappear.

And then I remember, this is Grace. The wide-eyed wonder - the genuineness - the confidence - even the sass and spunk. 

It's all attainable for a Woman flowing in Grace. This is good news, dear one.

Last year, when you turned one, I said that I can't wait to see who you ARE. Not who you're going to be, because you already are somebody.

This year, as you turn two, I've seen who you are...and I like it so much. 

Two years old, genuine and confident. 

This time next year, you will be less 'toddler' and more 'little girl'. And I'm okay with that. Growth is good - and we're all growing together. 

We love you 'tho mush'. May you always know it to be true.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Two years old, and so very special.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Top 10-ish Photos of 2016

Yes, things are getting lazy around here. In 2015, I did a 'Top 15' post. In 2014, I did a 'Top 14' post.

It's 2016 we're talking about, and a 'Top 16' just seems like too much. 

So we're back at 'Top 10'. Well, 10-ish. 

It's my blog. I can do what I want.

In chronological order, here are my favorite photos of 2016. 

The photos that make my heart say 'awwww...' :) These are the photos that someday, I'll peruse while my kids are away at college, and I'll wonder where the time/pudgy arms/cheesy grin/wispy hair went. 


Sweet baby girl, first time in the water while on our family vacation in Florida. No fear, just all in. The cold temps didn't stop her from having the time of her life. This is typical-Macy.


A little crawling sister, who always looked to investigate all the fun stuff in her big brother's room. The smile, the tongue...the sweetness is almost too much. Pure sunshine, gazing right back at me every single day.


This is what growing independence looks like. This was a year of changes for Carter, and he handled most of them well. We had been pushing him more in all areas of independence - and tooth brushing was one area he really seemed to pride himself in.  Way to go, buddy. You can do just about anything you set your mind to.


Possibly my first-ever picture of anyone other than our kids :) Our vacation to St. Maarten was a great way to recharge and refresh - and connect with two dear friends.



Eight years old and couldn't be happier. This grin is the real-deal. How did we get so lucky?



With summer comes bare feet and squinty eyes, and life happens on the back patio. This little lady enjoyed really exploring outside for the first time this summer, and she showed us that she is an exciting mix of 'little lady' and 'tom boy'.



Jammies and bubbles - almost a daily occurrence in the summer. Those lips don't lie - dude is an experienced bubble blower.


Sometimes the best photos are taken on a phone, on a whim. Sneaking a kiss from a busy one year old is hard to do, and deserves to be documented.


This photo is cute, but the memory tied to it is what landed it here on my list. This was taken moments before the 'sea plane' pulled up to our dock in St. Germain. There was so much tension, I thought we might all explode. Would Carter be brave, and face his fear to ride the sea plane? Would this be a giant flop? Would we all regret this idea?

Carter CAN.



There is something so special to me about a little boy and his mom. This little boy still needs and wants his mama, but some day that might change. For now, I'll just soak up all the good stuff and enjoy the fact that he actually likes me.

(I said 10-ish, remember?)

The big announcement - Baby Gibson due March 2017. Are we crazy?  Why so soon?  Aren't we going to be overwhelmed?  Who has three kids these days, anyway?  We do. Can't wait to welcome this new treasure into our lives and into our family.


I snapped this photo while taking our family photos, and I can't help but like it. "Daddy - BONK!".  These two have a special connection that sometimes doesn't make sense to me, but I like it. Lots of laughs, mixed with a few tears, usually Macy's :) She's a spitting image of her daddy, and I'm not just talking about her appearance. I see many, many loving 'head bonks' in their future.

That's all, folks. Looking back to remember is good - but now we move forward to 2017.

Baby BOY coming in just 4-ish weeks, bringing many changes to our well-oiled machine.

Tiny one-year-old, soon turning TWO, causing this mama to stop and reassess and take inventory of what was and what could have been better.

Second Grader - in for some enormous changes in the fall, asking God even now (yes, 8 months in advance) for unique ways to prepare him and set him and his new team up for success.

It was a great year. Here's to another.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Embracing the good stuff!

Want more? Here are my lists from previous years :)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Our Christmas, In A Nutshell.

Our tree is still in it's place, and I'll be enjoying it for a few more days. But - Christmas is clearly past. Lights are hanging off, pine needles cover the floor, and the bottom half of the tree looks like it's been redecorated by a toddler (because it has). 

Toys scatter the living room, yet to find their new place. Kids sprawl on the floor, absorbed in the newness of each toy. 

Oh, and daddies! Daddy is home, making breakfast each day and working on little projects each afternoon. He took the whole week off to be with us, and we are soaking it up.

Christmas has passed (and I'm ready for the tree to go, and the new toys to be organized) - but we're still enjoying the fruits of it. Here's what we're remembering.


In mid-December, He came again! Carter knew it was time and sat eagerly by the door for almost an hour before he showed up.

Carter was thrilled to be getting "santa presents".

Macy, on the other hand, was happy to watch Santa from a distance this year :) We just let her hang out where she was comfortable, and enjoy Santa in her own way.

And a family gathering isn't a family gathering without a cake from NaNa :) This one took her almost 3 hours to pipe all the frosting.

Guess how long it took us to eat it?

(Are you wondering why we have candles? Carter Law states that one cannot eat cake without candles. Candles make everything more special, don't they?!)

Thanks, Santa, for helping to fill our kids with wonder and excitement. See you next year!


Yes, I said three. At least this year they were spread out over three days, which makes it a lot easier on the kiddos. I'll spare you the details of each celebration. All you really need to know is that our kids are loved a whole lot, by a whole lot of people.

Macy enjoyed her role as Official Gift Hander-Outer at GG & Grampies house. She had us in stitches - certain that SHE knew who the gift should go to better than the rest of us.

Little helper girl, just too sweet for words.

"Panthee dweth" :)

Carter enjoyed ripping open his gifts, and showing genuine excitement at the contents of each package. Carter's theme this year was garbage trucks, garbage cans, and 'trucks and boats' (and basically anything else with wheels). Our family understands the things that make this boy tick, and they did not disappoint with their gift giving.

If anyone needs mini garbage cans, we've got about 17 to spare.

As therapy ended in the fall, we realized that most of Carter's toys had a negative emotion tied to them (since his own toys were used for therapy purposes). I removed many of his toys throughout the fall, so Christmas was a great time for us to update his toy selection and get some new, exciting things in the house!

We also looked for toys that both kids could play with, together or individually. This little Melissa & Doug Magnetic Puzzle Book has been a hit, along with the Melissa & Doug Doorbell House (complete with keys to unlock each door!).

Also, as I was wrapping gifts up, I had the brilliant idea to remove the packaging from all battery operated gifts, and place batteries in them! I'm glad I did - each toy could be played with right away which eliminated tons of frustration and chaos.


Possibly my favorite moment of the whole Christmas Season - the candlelight Christmas Eve Service. This year was different - Jake gave a message, which left me with two kiddos. One kiddo was silly to the max, the other was having nothing to do with the snacks I packed (because...why can't we go in the nursery?!).

I spent most of the service in the nursery by myself with my two spunky kids (Thanks for filling in for a few minutes so I could hear Jake, Rach! I appreciate it!). This is just the season that we're in. I can't say that I love it, but it's where we are. I'm growing, and learning how to be quicker to respond in love for my kids - slower to respond in selfishness and pride.

We snuck back into the service just in time for Silent Night, sung by candle light. We had no candles, one kid was climbing Jake like a monkey, the other kid was wondering why we weren't blowing out the candles, and Jake and I exchanged a look that translates to "It's okay". It was a special moment, and I'm thankful for it.

One little picture of our two Christmas Eve kids. This blurry, goofy picture sums up our night.

Our Christmas was so full - full of activities, full of people, and full of love. Kids, I hope that when you look back on your childhood Christmas celebrations you remember love. The presents are fun, the 'panthee dwethes' are nice, the candle light service is special, but love is what this is really about.

I'll leave you all with this. My favorite snap of the whole Christmas Season. Two siblings, just enjoying something together. Unexpectedly, this is doll house is a favorite for both kids.

Cozying up, snuggling in, quieting down, choosing love.

This was our Christmas.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Love.
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