Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Christmas Post.

These days, calendars are full and hearts are fuller.  So we condense and smoosh and mix in order to make room for more.

This is the first-ever condensed version of Gibson Family Christmas Happenings.

All the Christmas Cheer, smooshed together.

We got our tree.  It was nothing like our tree-cutting day from last year.  This one was filled with laughter and friendship and love.

It was so fun to see Carter be so independent.  He loves his role as 'big brother' and takes it very seriously.  He loves to help, and this year he pulled the wagon with little help.

Let's just forget about the fact that those darn tree stumps wouldn't move, and the wagon tipped over. With a baby inside.  But the baby was strapped in and she didn't even know what hit her.

Remember when I said our time was filled with laughter and friendship and love?

This is the friendship part:

Brett, Amelia, Mable, and one-week-old Levi joined us!
Or, if you're Carter: Butt, A-la-la, Bable, and Luh-va.

We are grateful for the many people in Carter's life who understand him.  I'm not just talking about his speech.  I'm talking about understanding who he is.

This picture is a perfect example.

Carter loves to whistle. 

Brett knows this about Carter.  Brett understands Carter.  Brett whistles with Carter.

Do you know how it feels to be understood by others? 

It feels amazing.

It also feels amazing to have a huge Christmas tree in your living room, and a little boy who looks at it with wonder.

"Pretty Christmas tree! Pretty lights! Presents? Santa?"

Okay, fine.  Yes.  Santa.


A few days after cutting our tree, Santa came for a visit!

He rang the doorbell and Carter knew just what to do.  He opened it, yelled "SANTA! Ho-ho-ho!" and grabbed his white-gloved hand to pull him inside.


Of course, Carter loves Santa. But he also knows that when Santa comes, we get presents.

Dude is no dummy.

We had to tell him "First, smile nice - then, presents!" and this is what we got:

It's his "I smile because I have to" grin.  And I love it.  I looked back on our Santa pictures from last year, and I remembered the struggles we were facing.  Carter was like the tazmanian devil.  Always on the go, never wanting to be slowed down, couldn't stand still for a second.  

This year was different.  He's older, more independent, and really - he's not such a little monster.  I mean that in the most endearing way. We always loved our little monster, but now we like him a whole lot more.  

What changed? Well, mostly Carter changed.  As he matures, we notice so many good things happening.  

We also see this happening a whole lot:

A brother + sister, doing what siblings do.

As you can see, Macy enjoyed the Santa visit, too! She is the happiest baby, and although Santa came way past her bedtime she totally rocked it.

A few more things from our Christmas Season, thus far:
+Our family round robin - just imagine lots of food, laughter, getting in and out of the car 15x, and a Packer game.  That about sums it up.
+Cute handmade first grader Christmas crafts, decorating our walls and doors.  It's the best.
+Our 12 foot Christmas tree, tipped over on its side, with a little boy standing next to it. Much remorse and many tears, with questions of "Christmas tree garbage?".  No, dear one.  It's not going in the garbage.  Accidents happen.  Don't feel bad, it could have happened to anyone.
+Our 12 foot Christmas tree, tipped over on its side, 5 minutes after picking it up.  This time, falling on a baby.  No babies or ornaments were harmed.
+Much excitement and glee from the backseat of the car every time we pass a house that has Christmas lights outside.
+Carter's Sunday School Christmas Program - thanks to the advent candles that had just been lit, Carter was convinced it was someones birthday. "Candles! Blow! BLOOOWW! Birthday! Presents! Presents???". We laughed at our silly, quirky, literal boy.

There it is.  Our Christmas Season in a nutshell.

I can hardly believe that in less than a week we will be waking early with two precious babes on Christmas morning.  We are rich.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Four Years Home.

We just had a special day in the Gibson home.  Carter has now been home for 4 years.  Four years of hugs and smiles and bedtimes and cookies.

It hasn't all been easy.
But it has all been good.

If you had told us four years ago about the struggles we would face, we would have laughed at you. I had crazy expectations.  Sometimes I still do.

I'll be honest. Carter is not where the 'Ashley' from four years ago expected him to be.

He's not doing things that I thought he would be by now.  And when I think about all the things that he 'should' be doing, I get sad.  Angry.  Overwhelmed.  "WHY AREN'T YOU DOING ALL THE HARD THINGS?!"

That's helpful.

This is the problem with expectations.  Even if he had met my expectations, I'd still be disappointed. Because I'd want more.  Better.  Stronger.  Clearer.  Easier.


Yes, one of my expectations was that life with Carter would be easy.

Laughing my dang head off.

BUT.  This is not a post to talk about how hard it's been for me, the poor mommy with wild expectations.  This is a post to talk about Carter, our champion.

Each day, Carter takes what he knows and he builds on it.  He IS learning and growing and changing.

So I'm sharing a video, which I haven't done in a long time.  I share it, not to brag or show how far he's come - because the reality is that four years ago, I thought he'd be much farther today.

I share it to celebrate our boy.  He works so hard.  Harder than anyone I know.

Focusing is hard for him.  Reading this book requires focus.
Sitting still is hard for him.  Reading this book requires stillness.
Saying words is hard for him.  Reading this book requires saying words.

Such a hard little worker.  What a champ.

What do I want to tell our four-years-home son?  I want to tell him that the best is yet to come.  I want to tell him that he can do anything he puts his mind to.  I want to tell him that he is smart and patient and determined and those are all things his mommy could use more of.

It hasn't been easy for any of us.
But it has been good for all of us.

One Thing I Know For Sure: It has all been good.

Side note about mommy's expectations: When Macy was born, I had no expectations of how Carter would respond to Macy.  None.  Guess what?  Living without expectations is awesome.  Every tiny gain is a huge victory.  Every sister kiss and gentle touch is like winning the lottery.

++Photos are from Carter's homecoming - November 15, 2011++
Click HERE to read about our travels home
Click HERE to read our 'One Month Home' story
Click HERE to see Carter's homecoming video

Monday, October 19, 2015

On Six Months.

I know, little girl.  I know you turned seven months over a week ago.

The truth is, I started this post just before you turned 6 months.  I never finished it, so here I am today - one month late.

Such is the life of the second born.


I can't find the words to sum up the past 7 months.  I'll just tell you what we tell everyone.

You are the happiest, easiest baby on the planet.

Even when you're fussy, you're happy.

You really just want to be seen & noticed & validated.  Little exhorter.

Long overdue for food or nap?  All we have to do is look at you and smile.  You will laugh, and it will buy us at least 5 more minutes.

You adore your big brother.  You laugh hysterically when he notices you.  Maybe you understand that he doesn't notice everyone, so when he does it's pretty awesome.  When he comes in to give you a kiss, you grab at whatever you can (ears and hair are all fair game) in hopes of holding him closer for a little bit longer.

You love worship music.  I pray you have all the musicality that your Mama lacks.

You are so close to crawling.  You rock on your hands and knees, and you can army crawl across the room.  When set down by your baby toys, you bypass all of them and head straight for Carter's matchbox cars and 'donna truck' and train whistle.

Your hair has the prettiest red tint, and when I look at it I wonder what you'll think about it when you're 14 - standing in front of the mirror.  Whether it's red or brown, curly or straight, long or short - embrace it.  I pray you embrace it.

I pray you embrace your uniqueness, whatever it is.  You've already shown us that you like to rough house and wrestle with the big boys.  Embrace that.  Want to wear pink sparkle leggings, too?  Awesome.  Rock that, girl.

Your first six seven months of life have been perfect.  Everyone tells us we will pay for this when you're a teen.  I don't think it has to be this way.  Mmmkay?

Love you, baby girl.  We are so thankful for the sunshine you bring to our lives.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Seven months of pure joy!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

This Season

I have 5 half-written posts in my 'draft' folder.  This is our life.

It's full and wonderful and perfect.  

Jake and I write notes to each other in a special journal.  The goal is to take turns, and we usually go a month or two between notes.  I've been meaning to write him a note for at least a month, to tell him how thankful I am to be a stay at home mom.  This is our life.

The two pictures within this post are random pictures taken in the middle of 'life'.  
It's so full.  Overflowing, even.  And sometimes the overflow distracts me from this little blog, and that little journal, and all the little big things.

Taking time today.  Let's kill two birds.


Dear Jake.

Today you got up around 1:30a to put a hooting child back in his bed.  I watched you on the monitor next to my bed.  You held his little hand, placed him in his bed, covered him with his blankets, and patted his back.  You were gentle and kind and everything a child would want in a daddy.

By the time you got back in our own bed, the hooting child was up & at it again.  You took the monitor so I could sleep, and I heard a deep sigh from you.  

It's hard work.

By 5:30a, our little lady is up and I'm up with her - rocking and holding and feeding and shushing.  This is my favorite time of the day.  The world is asleep and my two favorite guys are enjoying their last moments of rest while I soak up quiet time with our daughter.  

Our boy is up by 6, and his therapist arrives at 6:30.  You get up & ready for your day of catering to the needs of others.  

Picture it: Carter is at the 'big table' with a bowl of cereal and juice.  His therapist is there with him, encouraging him to 'take one more bite!' and joining him in his chorus of tweeting birdies (if you know Carter, you will understand this).  Macy is in her little high chair, face full of blueberries and oatmeal - smiling from ear to ear.  And then there's me.  Probably coffee mug in hand (a latte if I took the 5 extra minutes to indulge), messy hair (don't care) and probably an oversized, over-worn sweatshirt.  Slippers, because it's not summer any more.  

You grab a banana and a glass of milk (in a to-go coffee cup).  You kiss your babies and your wife, and you're off.  

This is how you start your day.

I get Carter off to school, and go on with my own day.  

I'm not sure if I've ever told you how much I love my days.  The fact that I get to take care of our home and our kids each day is pretty amazing.  I know that I have complained about things, instead of doing it all in love.  I know that I've sometimes wished things could be different, instead of appreciating the season that we're in.  

So I'm telling you now.  I really love this season.  I am so thankful for this role of stay-at-home-mommy.  

And it's only possible because of what you choose to do each day.  Thank you for caring for us in this way.  Thank you for loving us in this way.  Thank you for making sure that your babies can have their mom stay home with them.  What a gift you've given all of us.

I know full well that not every family can do this.  In my years of working with preschoolers, I had the chance to love many kids whose parents would give anything to stay home with them. That's just not always possible - not always best - not always desired (let's be real - it's not everyone's cup of tea!).  

But, thank God, it's possible for us.   

I am so thankful.  And I think our kids are, too.  

(Also thankful that you listen to my crazy ideas. "What if we made this and attached it here and then did this and it would work like that?!"...and you don't even roll your eyes anymore!)

My point is, you're pretty great.  We're awfully thankful.  And we love you a whole lot.  


Kids - when you read this many years from now, this is the takeaway: in this season of diapers and therapists and early mornings, your daddy gave so much.

Mom might have been the one at home, but it's only because of Dad.

One Thing I Know For Sure: My cup overflows!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Gibson Getaway 2015

Another Gibson Getaway is in the books.  

Year Six in St. Germain.

Like last year, the weather was not ideal.  We did lots of this.

Every year, we've had a beach area for Carter.  This year, we tried a new house without a beach.  Carter didn't mind one bit - he spent most of his time playing trucks by the 'hot fire' :)

His beloved whistle {annoying and loud, but so good for building his oral motor skills}.

Whistle on, dude.

Little eyes that disappear when he smiles.  It's been so long since we've seen these smiles.  Glad to have them back.  I pray they're here to stay.

While Carter spent his time whistling, Macy spent her time showing off HER skills - like eating.  Macy has been eating veggies for about 2 weeks now, and she tried avocados while on vacation.  It was a hit, and soon she'll be eating chips & guac with the rest of her mexican-loving family!

Please, Macyn Joy...don't ever lose your joyful spunk.

There were a few days that allowed us opportunities to squeeze out the last drops of summer.


I may have a fleece on, but we're still on a boat.  And it's not raining.  So it counts.

And when all else fails, we put on our matchy-matchy vacation shirts and head to Cathy's for ice cream.  Because you don't need nice weather to eat ice cream.

Uncle Ben, learning the fine art of juggling kids.  Welcome to my life.

And then there's this.  The sibling relationship, explained in one photo.

"I'm touching him!!!!!!!"
"She's touching me......."

That about sums it up.  Gibson Getaway 2015.  

This year was so different from years past.  A different house, a second kid, dreary weather.  But there was something else.  

I think it was us.  We are different.

We've had one of the most stretching years of our lives.  We've seen more growth in the last nine months than we had in our first 8 years of marriage.  

Yes, it's been that good.

If you told last years Gibson family that in just a few months their world would be turned upside down in the best and hardest way possible, they would have laughed at you.  

This years Gibson family can look back, see the hard stuff, and press on with joy and excitement for what's to come.  

It's been hard.  But so, so good.  

And I'm reminded for the umpteenth time that there is nobody else I'd rather have by my side than Jake.  We are a great team.  We always have been, we just didn't really know it.

The primer & the paint.  

One Thing I Know For Sure: 353 Days until the next Gibson Getaway!

Want more?

Gibson Getaway 2011
Gibson Getaway 2012
Gibson Getaway 2013
Gibson Getaway 2014

Friday, June 26, 2015

{Here We Are}

It's been a long time since I've done a family update.  Anyone remember why I blog in the first place?  Because ain't nobody got time for scissors and stickers and tape and markers and glitter strewn all over the kitchen table (aka - scrapbooking).

So this is it, Gibson kids.  This blog is your scrapbook.  You're welcome.


It was discovered at her six week checkup that Macy has some loosey-goosey hips.  Otherwise known as hip displasia.  Which basically means that her leg bones (obviously we're using very medically accurate terminology) weren't in the right place for her hips to properly form.

Enter: the Pavlik Harness.

You can tell she is terribly upset by the whole ordeal.

For six weeks, Macy wore this little contraption to hold her leg bones in place.  We made multiple trips to Delafield (about 1.5 hours away) to get x-rayed and ultrasounded :)

During those six weeks, we were allowed to take it off for an hour each day.  I think she had it off a total of 3 hours for the entire six weeks.  I knew that if we ended up having to wear the harness another six weeks, it would be easy for me to blame myself for not using it enough.  So we just used it all the stinkin' time.

When I brought her back in for her last ultrasound, her harness was filthy.  Like, really, really gross - because while it IS washable, it has to air dry.  So how do you wash it, and let it air dry...and then get it back on baby within an hour?  You don't.

The doctor was pleased to see a dirty means it got used.  And guess what?  It worked.  Her hips look perfect, and she is now harness free :)

Hanging at the pool with friends to celebrate our 'harness free' baby!

Macy was dedicated to the Lord sometime in late May.


First kid - I would have documented this the day after it happened, and I would have noted the date.

Second kid - 'sometime in late May'.

But I'd say it really doesn't matter when.  The fact is that a bunch of people that love our Macy came together and declared that they would do everything in their power to point Macyn to Jesus.

And our Pastor (known affectionately as 'Poppy' around these parts!) cried as he prayed for our sweet baby girl, asking God to walk with her all the days of her life.

That's what really matters.


We've been enjoying the extra tiny feet running around this place.  And I don't mean Macy :)

Mable, Madison, Carter, and Macy.  Four peas in a pod.  Sort of.

Even though Carter says "Nooo Bable! Nooo Badison", he secretly loves them.  He talks about them when he eats his ice cream and takes walks to the lake.

It has been so good to spend time with these families.  Know what I love?  Seeing our friends love our kids.  Know what else I love?  Loving our friends' kids.

It's pretty awesome.


We've got something else pretty awesome happening around here.

Love.  The seeds we planted when Macy first came home are finally starting to grow and bloom.

We would tell Carter "Give Macy a kiss" or "You love Macy!" or "You are so gentle!".  He didn't know how to act, so we had to tell him.  He didn't know how to show love to this tiny little bundle of sweetness, so we had to literally show him how - hand-over-hand.

It felt awkward at first.  Like a baby taking its first steps, we were all a bit wobbly at this sibling thing.

But now.

Carter regularly chooses to lay by Macy on the floor.  He chooses to tickle her feet when I'm changing her.  He chooses to bring her a paci when she's crying.  He chooses to see her - smile at her - love her.

Love is a choice.  And Carter loves Macy well.

This little story reminds me of this little story, when Carter was learning how to be held.
Here's a secret: At 7 years old, Carter still loves to be held by his Mama.
I know that soon, he'll reach an age that he won't want to, or won't be able to.
So, for now, when he says "Mom, Carry!"...I carry. 

Carter started his second season of baseball 'sometime in June'.


He has the same teammates, but a new team.  He thoroughly enjoys running the bases, sitting in the outfield, running his hands along the fence, and hitting the ball.

But mostly, he loves the ice cream afterwards :)

This means Macy attended her first game, and did a great job charming everyone in the stands :)

You can read about Carter's 'First Ever' baseball game here :)


That brings us to today.

Our little boat landing at the end of our road never disappoints, and we spend many afternoons there with a baby sleeping away in the stroller while a big boy plays with his trucks and boats.

This is my view 724 times a day.  And I love it.

Little Baby sleeping or pacifying or bottling or snuggling while Big Boy looks on, waiting for his turn to have my undivided attention.

Before Macy came, I spent many busy days wondering how I'd possibly make time for two needy kids.  Now I know.  It doesn't just happen, like some told me it would.  

It takes intentional work to say "That can wait" or "I can finish this up tomorrow".  At first, it felt a little like losing control of my well-manicured, tidy life.  

Now, it feels like freedom.  I don't have to be all things to all people all the time.

I just have to be mama to these little people, and wife to my favorite guy.  

Everything else can wait.  


One Thing I Know For Sure: This post brought to you mostly by iPhone pictures.  Another area where I'm learning to let go & say "It's okay" :)
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