Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This, That, & The Other Thing.

It's been a little quiet here lately.  Want to know what I've been up to?!

I know at least one reader does.  I'm always surprised when I get comments from people that I don't know in real life.  I forget that actual people read my blog.  So to that sweet, dedicated, concerned reader who I don't even know - here is the answer to your question:

Pink or Blue?! from Ashley Gibson on Vimeo.


We will be welcoming a little sister into our family in March.  Carter has been working so hard on saying 'sister'.  Last night was the first time that it actually sounded like 'sister' and not 'bloddyter'.  I don't even know.  I'm pretty sure he's got 'baby girl' down pat, so at least we've got that to fall back on.

Carter has also been helping us pick out sister's name.  I don't know why, but it's important to me that he can at least kind-of say her name.  Maybe because if he can kind-of say it now, there's a good chance he will be able to say it really well in a year or two.  Maybe because there's so much that he can't say right now - I want his sister's name to be something he can say, and say confidently.

We've been cleaning out the office-turned-nursery, which has me kicking myself.  When we moved in back in March, I had a gut feeling that we should just leave the room empty.  I knew deep inside that it would be a bedroom soon...but guess what?!  We filled it with junk, anyway!  Stupid.  Always trust your instincts.

So I suppose you could say I've been nesting.  Or at least planning out my nesting.  With lists.  Lots of lists.  I will soon need a list to keep track of all my lists.  Which is, essentially, Pinterest.  Amiright?

My list currently looks like this:
Organize office in master bedroom
Set up crib (never too early, people!)
Decorate nursery
Wash windows (for some reason, this seems like something I should do before her big arrival)
Build kitchen table (this is on Jake's list - it should be done by Thanksgiving!)
Buy kitchen chairs (there's nothing more satisfying than crossing something off a list)
Organize Carter's closet (again, this just seems like a good idea)
Organize the basement (this keeps moving farther and farther to the bottom of my list.  Soon it will just be crossed off, purely for satisfaction's sake.  And I will put it on my 'Summer To-Do List')
Make info binder for whoever will be with Carter while baby sister is being pushed out
Pack hospital bag (I've got time, but it deserves to be on the list)
Arrange for baby to kick when Jake is around, so he can feel her

So that's it.  My month, in a nutshell.


Enough about baby.  Let's talk about Carter.

October and November are big months for us.  We do lots of reflecting and celebrating and crying and rejoicing and remembering.

We met Anton on October 7.  He became Carter Benjamin on October 24th.  We took him from the orphanage for good on November 9th.  And he came home - right where he belongs - on November 15th.

Six weeks filled with big emotions and all the feelings that one can possibly feel.  We watch old orphanage videos, and read his special life book.  This year he was able to verbalize some things that he's never been able to in the past.  Whether he remembers or understands is unknown - but we'll keep sharing with him.  Because it's his story.  And we are his only connection to his past.

And as we reflect on his past, we also see so many good things happening in the here & now.  Just yesterday, Carter's teacher sent me a photo that made me cry.  Hormonal?!  Maybe!

And these were taken at our field trip to The Little Farmer back in October.  I never blogged about it, although I fully intended to.  I wish you could have seen all these kids.

I think Carter gave 328 high-fives during our four hours there.  And they aren't given out of pity or obligation.

And then this, from his trip to the firehouse:

See where he is?  See who he's surrounded by?  This all makes my heart so happy.

The other kids really, truly WANT to know Carter.  They want to spend time with him at recess.  Does he do things that most Kindergarteners and First Graders don't do?!  Absolutely!  But they are part of an open, caring family-classroom.  The other kids know they can ask questions about Carter, and why he does what he does.  Education!  Advocacy!  It's all so very good.

We are so grateful for Carter's school - his team - his classmates.  Three years ago, I never envisioned Kindergarten being this good.  I think I was even fearful of it.  Everything felt so safe and cozy and protected in the Early Childhood setting.  I just couldn't imagine our sweet little guy moving on to the great big Kindergarten family.

While it's not perfect, and we're always working through little kinks, we couldn't be happier.  Carter is totally rocking this Kindergarten thing.  Duh!  I should have known.  He always, always, always surprises us.

Carter CAN!

One Thing I Know For Sure: Now you're all caught up.  And I need to go make another list - "Hosting Thanksgiving - 2014" :) If you don't hear from me for a while, now you know why!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Pregnant Head.

"How are you feeling?"
"Oh, I'm awesome!"

"Any nasty pregnancy symptoms?"
"Nope! Feeling great!"

I sort of lie sometimes.  Because if I told people about my weird symptoms, I'm pretty sure they'd think I'm nuts.

I didn't have any of the dreaded morning sickness, so I feel like I really can't complain about anything.  But my mouth! My face! My head! You guys, it's been rough.

Thankfully, I've been seeing an amazing chiropractor who has helped me with my jaw issues.  That's all fixed up, and I'm so relieved.  But my mouth! My head! What the what?!

I'm not sure if I should blame hormones, or expanding blood vessels, or stress, or who-knows-what.  But some days, I don't even want to open my mouth to say words.

So I take Tylenol when I can.  And I use ice packs.  And every single morning at 2:30a when the Tylenol wears off, I whine my way to the bathroom to take another dose before I wake up too much.  Sometimes I take a shower and brush my teeth, because it helps.  Which is psychological, I know.  Then I come back to bed and lay there for hours.  And I think about things like wiggly teeth and sight words and nursery decor and why is this Tylenol not kicking in? And should I just get up and start my day?

So that's fun.

There's so much I want to be doing right now.  Cleaning out the office, which will soon be a nursery.  Finishing odd jobs around the house before baby arrives (or before I get too enormous to do odd jobs).  But I just can't do those things when I'm massaging my temples all day and laying with ice packs on my face.

At this point, you're probably all ready to send me meals and offer to clean.  Don't!  Really.  If you're going to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for Jake.  He asks me a question, and sometimes my answer is "Ijusswantsomeorangejuice...".

And he's like "What did you just say?".  So I repeat myself - because, how can you not understand me?!

And he's like "Are you mad at me about something?" and I'm like "Nomyfacehuurrrts....".

He's the best.  He rubs my temples until his fingers are sore and almost bleedy (not really).  He asks if I want anything from the store before he comes home (just cherry 7up, please!).  He calls to check on me.  He tells me that he wishes there was something he could do, and he really means it.  You guys, I got a good one.  

So the next time you see me, and you ask "How are you, pregnant mama?!" - I will probably say "I'm doing great...couldn't be better!".  And it might be the truth....or it might not be :) 


When are you due?!
March 9th! Which means I'm 20 weeks pregnant - halfway-ish there! My maternity clothes are getting lots of use these days :) If I wear regular clothes, I still just look extra-pudgy.  Or like I just gobbled up a whole pizza.  But in maternity clothes, it's pretty obvious :) In fact, one of Carter's nurses at the doctors office told me I looked 'tiny' for being this far along.  In my entire life, I've never - ever - ever - ever been called 'tiny' :)

Will you find out the gender?!
YES! In one week! Yes, we'll share it. This is the first tiny-baby on both sides of our family, so we know people are eager to buy cutsie blankets and things :) And I'm eager to set up the nursery and do all those fun nest-y things!

Are you doing any fun baby projects?!
I've got a couple easy sewing projects once we find out the gender.  And I'm working on a baby book (through iPhoto) every couple weeks.  I add things like names that we've been talking about, belly pictures, what/how the baby is growing during that week, and other pregnancy facts & stories. I'm also taking a few belly shots every so often.  Not, like, shots of liquor off my belly. But photos of my growing belly.  Which doesn't seem to be growing that much to me.

13 weeks vs. 19 weeks

I had a hard time choosing how I would take these belly shots.  I know myself.  I know that I'm not going to get dolled up every week to take a photo of adorable (or frumptastic) me, in front of a chalkboard.  I'm just not.  So I saw this silhouette picture somewhere, and thought it was perfect.  I don't have to do my hair or makeup - I can wear leggings and a tshirt - and I can do it whenever I feel like doing it.  So there.  Take that, Pinterest.  

Will you share the name?!
Nope! We are horrible, aren't we :)  So far, the names we like aren't all that common.  We just hate the idea of sharing our names, and having people say "That's HORRIBLE!" or "WHY would you name your baby that?!?".  It would probably sway our decision, and I want to pick a name that WE love.  We also know that if people see our baby in the hospital or sometime after birth, they will probably have the decency to keep their lips zipped about their opinion of our baby's name.  So the name will be a secret.  Which is kind of fun.  We (and everyone else) knew everything there was to know about Carter.  We even had a picture!  There were no surprises.  This time, we'd like to do things a little differently.

What does Carter think?!
It's hard to say.  He definitely talks about the baby.  Whether he actually understands that there is a baby in my belly is debatable :) I sometimes wonder if IIIII even understand what's going on! HA!  He will touch my belly, though, and say "Babyyyy!" or he'll say "Mom, dad, baby!".  Eventually we'll start preparing him for baby's arrival by using a dolly.  Honestly, we think Carter will be an awesome big brother.  He loves to help us, and I'm sure he'll love to help us with the baby.  

What gender are you hoping for?
We couldn't care less.  A boy would be so fun - two little boys.  Brothers.  I love the idea of brothers.  They would have a special bond, for sure.  And a girl would be so precious.  A boy and a girl.  Every little girl needs a big brother to look out for her.  I've always wanted to have a boy and a girl.  Truly, we don't care.  We're just thrilled to find out! 

Any other cravings or symptoms?
Well, my chin hairs are growing like weeds.  I just can't even.  If you want to really feel bad for me about something, feel bad for me about my chin hairs.  I haven't had any true I-need-this-right-now cravings.  But I do eat lots of cereal and orange juice.  I am also into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  And pears.  Lots of pears.  Thankfully, a friend brought over a whole bag just this last Wednesday!  My usual desires for things like creamy pasta and comfort foods have only gotten stronger.  But I think I do a good job of balancing everything with lots of fruits and veggies (raw green beans!).  If my Grannie is reading this, and would like to make me the orange/grapefruit citrus salad, I'd be very grateful :) I've had a hankering for it several times over the past few weeks, but I hate the mess I make peeling & separating all those citrus fruits! I've had a few nights of nighttime leg cramps - but now they seem to have stopped.  Let's all hope that's the end of that! 

Have you felt any kicking?!
I felt the first kicks around 17 weeks, just one time.  Then a little over a week later, I felt it again during church.  And I haven't really felt it since.  But I've been a little crampy/achy (from all the stretching and growing going on), so I'm wondering if I'm just feeling that so much and not really feeling the kicks.  

So.  That's that.  You now know everything there is to know.


I've got to say - I wrote most of this post over a week ago.  A few days ago, my mouth pain and headaches totally eased up and I feel like a million bucks.  I'm really, really, really hoping that I'm finally entering into the 'honeymoon' period of pregnancy where things are totally peachy, and I'm still not too big or too tired to feel good.

Bring on the second half!

One Thing I Know For Sure: Omigosh - I'm pregnant!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Down syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down syndrome Awareness Month.

I can honestly say that I celebrate Down syndrome almost every single day.  From Carter's beautifully perfect almond eyes, to his sweet turned-up nose, all the way down to his wide feet and big adorable gap between his first two toes, his inquisitive nature, his sunny disposition (spattered with bouts of stubbornness and defiance) - I love Down syndrome.

Because I love Carter.  And Carter's Down syndrome can't be separated from who Carter is.

If the two things could be separated, I would keep them together.

In fact, Carter's Down syndrome is what brought him to our family.  If he was born with 46 chromosomes instead of 47 - he'd be living with his first mom & dad in Kyiv, Ukraine.

I'm grateful for Down syndrome.

It's no secret that Carter has some unique needs.  Lots of things have made Carter who he is - over three years of orphanage life, hyperactivity and impulsivity that are currently through the flippin' roof, life on the spectrum...and Down syndrome.

Of all the things I listed, Down syndrome is the least of our concerns and the easiest of his special needs.

In fact, I think Down syndrome is pretty beautiful.


Let's just cut to the chase (because my brain is tired from two surgical procedures for our little buddy on Monday, limited sleep from being a concerned mommy, and having a busy bee at home every day this week).  During Down syndrome Awareness Month - here's what I want you to know:

+Different is good.  Yes, Carter is different.  You will see he is 'different' the moment you lay eyes on him at the grocery store, or while he's walking down the school hallway.  And that's okay.  Actually, it's good.  Different is good, and we need those people in our circles who think differently - learn differently - play differently - grow differently - and approach things differently.

+Don't be afraid.  When you see someone with a special need, just treat them like you would treat anyone else.  Smile, genuinely.  Say hi, if it's appropriate.  Or ask how their day is going.  If they can't answer you, it's okay.  They'll be glad that you took the time to ask.

+Educate yourself.  I'm not going to take the time to go through myths and facts about Down syndrome because you can find them all over the internet.  Here are a few sites that I like:
Down syndrome Facts from the NDSS
Down syndrome Myths from DsA-OC
Here's a fact - people with Down syndrome are people.  Here's another one - they deserve to be treated with fairness and dignity.  Pretty simple, isn't it?

That's it.  If you can grasp those three simple things, then I'd say this month will be a success.


In honor of Down syndrome Awareness Month my girl Juli, and I, put together this video.  We asked the principal at our boys' elementary school if they would show it to the students sometime this month. I half expected them to say that while the video is a great idea, there are only 3 boys in the elementary school with Down syndrome...and you want us to show the video to all the students?!

I was so wrong.  Our efforts were applauded, and they sent the video out to each elementary teacher, asking them to show it when it's convenient for their particular class.

Oh yeah, they are showing it to the school board, as well.

We're awfully grateful.

Different is good!

That's all I have to say.  So reach out.  Don't be afraid.

Down syndrome is beautiful.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Their ability is stronger than their disability!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

This is 30.

So, I'm thirty.  As in, 30.  Like, thirty years old.  

Thirty looks so much different than I thought it would.  Not that I sat around and dreamt about being 30 when I was a kid....but we all have an expectation of what we'll be like when we're older.  

Hear me: thirty is better than I ever imagined it would be.  I have the sweetest little sunshine-boy to wake up each morning.  I live in a community that I love, with people that I love.  I've got a sweet baby on the way, and couldn't be more excited.

And my husband.  Guys, he's the best.  Don't believe me?  Let me tell you a little story.

About a week ago, Jake told me he was taking me out for my birthday.  On Sunday night.  Huh? A Sunday night date? That's weird.  Oh, and none of our family is available to watch Carter, so we're hiring a sitter.  Huh? Weird!

So Sunday night: I got ready, the sitter came, and off we went.  We arrived at one of our favorite restaurants, walked through the parking lot, and went up stairs to the second floor.  Huh?  We've never eaten on the second floor! Weird.


Huh? For me?

Remember - that's a baby belly.
Keep this in mind as you look at these pictures, please :)
I couldn't believe that all these people were here for my birthday.  On a Sunday night, too! (Because who does anything exciting on Sunday nights?!)

So I greeted my family, and then I saw my friends.


Guess what I'm saying here.
"Haaayyyy!!!" :)

Do you ever wonder if people really like you?  I do.  All the time.  If this sounds crazy to you, we'll call it an 'adoption/abandonment' thing (because I'm adopted, too).  But when I saw all these precious people, I felt so loved.  And I later told Jake that I was surprised that "so many people really like me.".


My awesome husband then said all kinds of nice things about me.
"She deals with Carter with such grace and love." - HA.
"She takes such good care of me and makes me fee so special." - I do?!
"She's such a good pregnant mama (notice the coke I'm drinking) and doesn't complain about her nasty jaw pain." - Well, yes I do.
And he pretty much went on like this.  Have I convinced you yet?  He's the best.

My face here says exactly what I'm thinking.
"I'll pretend he's talking about me, but he HAS to be talking about someone else."
And then I heard music.

Yes, my husband hired a mariachi band.


As I looked around the room, I was reminded of our wedding day.  Everyone was smiling and laughing.  Everyone was having a good time.  People who don't clap and sing were clapping and singing.  And they weren't even under the influence of alcohol!

"Guantanamera, guajira Guantanameeerrrraaaaaaa!"

"Ay, yai, yai, yaaaii, canta y no llores!"

Then they sang Happy Birthday and I cried.  So there was that.

We ate tacos.  I drank non-alcoholic pina coladas.  We laughed.  We sang.  I cried.  My baby belly was patted.  We talked.  We laughed more.  I blew out candes.  We gave hugs.

There was so much love in the room, I could collapse under the weight of it.  How did this happen?

Hey Ben - how many pictures do we have exactly like this? Twenty? Ninety?  Now I'm curious.
Also, this hat looks so studly on you! You should wear it more often.

My mom made the awesome cake.  She's the family cake lady.  Carter knows this well - all we have to say is 'birthday', and Carter is saying "NaNa! Birthday cake!" :)

I have always loved 'The Wizard of Oz'.  It's easily my favorite movie. Because, Dorothy! How can you not love her?  And when she sings 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and is secretly wishing to be somewhere else, someone else...and then it really happens.  But it's scary, and she has to be brave and strong and independent - but, her friends! They already have everything they think they need! The tin man is already loving! The scarecrow is so smart! And the cowardly lion is no coward, at all! But they just didn't realize, until someone told them.

And maybe that's a little bit like life.

We think we need more of this or less of this.  Or we wonder if people really - actually - truly like us.  And then someone tells us it's so - and we can believe it.  Someone shows us they care, and we know it's true.  And everything we need more of is right there - we just need to grab it and believe it.

I'm believing big things for my thirties.  And I know that everything I need - joy, love, peace, patience, understanding, kindness - it's all right there.  It's within me.

Raise your coffee or tea or non-alcoholic pina colada or Coke or whatever.  Here's to 30.  And because I've said enough words - let's let someone else talk.

May I always remember "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." - Corrie ten Boom, says.

Thomas Edison said "When you exhaust all possibilities remember this: You Haven't."

Elisabeth Elliot want's to tell me "Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith."

May I always "Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.".  Thanks, Kid President.

Some dude named John Gottman once said "Admit when you're wrong. Shut up when you're right." Words to live by.

A.W Tozer reminds us to live big for God - "God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible.  What a pity we plan to do only the things that we can do by ourselves."

Even Audrey Hepburn has something decent to say - "Nothing is impossible.  The word itself says I'm possible."  Hmm.

And finally - "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not.".  We can thank Dr. Seuss for that one.

Three cheers for Thirty.  Three cheers for family.  Three cheers for friends.  Three cheers for love, love, love, love, love.

One Thing I Know For Sure: I'm thirty!

Friday, September 26, 2014

What's Missing?!

Did I tell you that Carter had two wiggly teeth?  He did.

Now he has one wiggly tooth because one was pulled out by an eager daddy last night.  It was definitely time - we've been watching that little thing wiggle and move all week.  He got off the bus yesterday and that tooth was practically twisted around backwards.

Carter didn't even cry.  He opened his mouth so big for his daddy, he said "Ahhhh - dentist!" and Jake just tipped it forward, and it popped right out.  

Or at least that's what Jake told me.  I didn't actually witness it.  I was on the other side of the house, with fingers in my ears, trying to think about anything but teeth.

Can I tell you something about teeth? I don't even know how to say this.  I have a thing about teeth.

I have dreams about losing all my teeth.  I clench my teeth at night, to the point of being in pain, and then dream about them falling out.

I can't stand looking at loose teeth.  I don't want to see them wiggle.  I don't want to touch them.  Just, deal with it yourself, kid.  {Thankfully, this kid happens to have a dad who can handle wiggly teeth.}

So he's down to one wiggly tooth, one little gap, and some molars poking through.  

Now here's a question for you.  Carter has ground his baby teeth down to basically the root.  I'm not even exaggerating.  He came to us this way, so don't blame us for it.  But now...what happens?  His adult teeth will come in, and they will be towering over his sorry-excuse for baby teeth.  And how will he chew? Won't his enormous adult teeth be in the way and mess up his bite?

I think for the next several years, I just won't ever look in his mouth.  Ever.

Omigosh.  I can't even.

So our little kindergartener went to bed a little older last night.  A little more mature.  And mommy and daddy felt our baby boy slip away just a tiny bit more.  Big boy, for sure.  

{Side note: the other day, Carter was running around outside and when he came in, I hugged him.  And I smelled something I've never smelled before.  His head.  It smelled like a dirty, sweaty little boy.  Oh my gosh.  He's a real boy.}

One Thing I Know For Sure: Did I mention - today is picture day :) I hope his big cheesy grin shows off his new little gap!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No Need to Worry!

I guess my last post set off some alarms.

"You were crying outside his room at 4am?! What is going ON?!"

I was crying outside his room because I was dang tired.  I'm pregnant, too.  Remember?  I was tired.  And probably a little fed up.  And what I really wanted to do was say something like "GO THE FREAK TO BED ALREADY!!!!!!!!!".

But I would never say that.  Out loud.  So I cried, instead.

This kindergarten transition has been a bit of a transition for all of us.  Carter went to school for 2.5 hours, 4 days per week, for the past two school years.  This summer, he had free reign of the house, his toys, and his yard.  He could play when he wanted to play, snack when he wanted to snack, play outside when he wanted to play outside.  Fail on my part, I know.  But I'm pregnant, remember?

{photos taken on our lazy Saturday morning}

Now, he's in school from 7:50a to 3:10p.  That, alone, is an incredible change for him.  He has a tight schedule, lots of non-preferred activities in the mix, and very little say in what his day looks like.

Wouldn't you freak out a bit, too?

His team of professionals are great.  I'm so pleased with how they're working with him.  They know this is rough for him, and they are trying to help him in all the ways they can.

At this point, it might be a while before Carter gets into his kindergarten groove.  And we're okay with that.  Do I want him to hurry up and figure things out?  Of course!  But I'm also trying to be patient with our little buddy who is going through so many changes.

Things at home have improved, greatly.  We had a beautiful weekend.  He was his best self.  It gives me hope that if he has turned a corner at home, he may be turning a corner at school in the near future.

The good news? Because there's always good news.
+Carter is excited to go to school in the morning and is no longer saying "Nooo school"
+Carter is sleeping better at night.  We are all very happy campers.
+He's been working so hard on his speech at home.  We push him, and he always impresses.  His latest big word? "Mmmelda-ssiiin".  Meldasin.  Get it?  Medicine.
+He's finally eating all his lunch at school, so I at least know he's not going through the afternoon with a growling tummy.
+When I get Carter off the van in the afternoon, he is so excited to see me.  Two years of Early Childhood, and he never seemed to give a darn.  He does, now.  "Mom!! Home!! MOM!!".

I can't take credit for this photo.
It was taken by a little kindergartener.  
So.  This is where we are.  Eleventh day of school, and we'll get there.  See?  No need to worry.  Things are good, and getting better every day.

One Thing I Know For Sure: It'll be okay!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Hi, Dentist!"

Carter strongly dislikes doctors.  It could be from some trauma from his past.  It could be just something he dislikes.  We may never know why, but the fact remains.

On the day of an appointment  - I wear extra deodorant and plan a Starbucks trip for myself afterwards.

It's ugly, guys.

The ENT, the pediatrician, the optometrist, and the dentist.  Ohhhh, the dentist.

The good thing about screaming his lungs out at the dentist is that his mouth has to be open it might as well have noise coming out of it.

We had a dentist appointment on Monday.  It was an early release day, so I spent the afternoon pumping him up.

"Carter! Today we go to the dentist!"
"You will be so brave!"
"You can say 'hi, dentist'!"
"You open your mouth nice and say 'ahhhh'!"
"First dentist, then we'll visit dad!"

This always seems like it will work, until we get into the exam room and he has to climb into the chair. The movement of the chair seems to trigger some anxiety, and then the rest of the visit goes downhill from there.

My mommy instincts told me that having the chair in place before we even walk in the room might help a little bit.  Maybe instead of screaming bloody-murder, he would just cry a little.  Thankfully, our dentist is awesome and agreed to move it into place before Carter's appointment.

Let me set the scene - we get out of the car, and Carter is excited.  Like he always is.  He's saying "Brave! Dentist! DAD!" and all kinds of adorable things.  And my mommy heart is beating so fast, hoping that we can conquer this dentist thing.

We walk in the office and Carter is so happy to be there.  The receptionist says 'hi' to Carter, and he responds with "Hiiiii, Dentist!".  We laugh at this sweet little boy, and take our seats.  The dentist comes out, walks us back, and Carter climbs right into the chair.

"Hiiii, Dentist! Brave!"

So far, so good.

The dentist got busy, hoping to get the majority of his work done before the fit started.

"Carter, can you open your mouth for me?"

"Hiiii, Dentist"

Every few minutes, he would try to say "Dentist - Dad" while the dentist was working.  He was telling the dentist that first he had to do the whole dentist thing, and then he could visit his dad.  He hasn't quite figured out the fine art of talking while the dentist is working in his mouth, so he used his hands a lot :)  Needless to say, it was pretty cute.

Before I knew it, we were done.  Carter had an exam, a cleaning, and a fluoride treatment.

He didn't even shed a tear.

Six months ago, I had to wrestle him in the chair and when we left, I cried great big tears for our scared little boy.

Monday, he didn't even need me in the room and when we left, I cried great big tears for our brave big boy.

I'm not going to lie, the first days of school have been rough on our Kindergartener.  One particularly difficult night, around 4am, I cried outside his room, praying he would go back to sleep.

Sometimes, I don't know how to be his mommy.  He's so complex.  He's such a mystery.

And then we have a moment like our dentist appointment on Monday, and I realize that I was handpicked to be his mommy.  I don't know why I was picked, but I was.  All I can do is the best that I know how.  Sometimes it will have me crying outside his bedroom door at 4am, and sometimes I'll be throwing a party because he made it through a dentist appointment.

Somedays I'll be hoping he grows up, and other days I'll be begging him to stay small and squishy.  Somedays I'll have no idea what I'm doing, and I'll feel like I'm completely winging this parenthood thing.  Other days, I'll feel equipped and prepared and full of wisdom and strength.

This is being a mommy.


Here is our little buddy, after his dentist appointment when we went to visit his daddy.

{No - he doesn't ride with his seatbelt behind him. 
We had just parked, which is his signal to whip that thing off and climb out as fast as he can.}

He's pretty cute, isn't he?

So glad he's ours.  So glad we're his.  So glad to be learning this little mystery, day by day.  It's like opening a new gift every morning.

One Thing I Know For Sure: "BRAVE!".  Carter and Mama, both.

+Kindergarten Note: Things are improving quickly!  Kindergarten is a big change for him, and we are thankful that his team at school is so willing to try new things in order to help him best! His sleep is finally becoming more regular, which makes everyone happy :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Little Kindybeaner.

Well, we did it.

We dropped our little kindergartener off at school.  He didn't even look back.  As soon as we pulled up - we heard ecstatic shouts of "School!! School slide!!" from the back seat.

Can you tell he was ready?

I'm not going to lie.  It's been a long summer.  I had so many plans for him - beaches, projects, goals to meet, parks, picnics, water parks.

But, thanks to the teeny-tiny, yet somehow exhausting baby in my belly, 99.7% of those things did not happen.

Talk about mommy guilt.

So - off to school we go.  Carter smiling from ear-to-ear, and Mama smiling almost as much (but, of course, trying to act sad so the other kindergarten moms don't think I'm heartless).  

We line up with his class, his aide takes his hand, and I couldn't feel more at peace.  Carter is in a perfect place.  His team of professionals are amazing.  His teachers have welcomed him with open arms and open hearts.  He has a place in the classroom - mixed right in with his peers.  Right where he belongs.

A few days ago, I got an email from his teachers.  They said something that cut me so deep.

"We are so excited to have Carter in our class!" - and they mean it.

He is included.  He is appreciated for his strengths.  He is a valuable member of their classroom family.

Dropping off my kindergartener didn't draw a single tear from my eyes - but typing this does.  Our little guy.  Included and valued.  What more could we possibly ask for?

Do you know how many people fight for this?  Do you know how many mamas around the country are shedding tears today, because they so desperately want someone in their school to see the value in their special child?!

We are so, so grateful.


After dropping Carter off, I headed to the book room to do some alphabetizing.  I knew that getting involved in Carter's school would be easiest if I started right away, instead of waiting until 'next year' or 'later on'.

First day in kindergarten, and I'm alphabetizing books :)

Sidenote: alphabetizing is hard.  It's not a function my brain is used to.  I sang the alphabet 48 times, just to make sure that R came before S.

Around 9:15 is when the real fun began.

Did I mention that Carter's teachers are incredible?  Okay.  Well, they are.  I mentioned to them early in the summer that I'd like to create a book to have them read to the class during the first few weeks, and that I'd like to send one home with each student.

They said I should come in and read it to everyone on the first day.  So I did.

This book was nothing extraordinary - I just filled it with things that Carter could do, just like his classmates, with lots of pictures of Carter being a typical kid.

"Carter loves to jump in puddles.  Do you?"
"Carter loves to eat ice cream.  Do you?
"Carter loves to make treats with his mom. Do you?"

The response was delightful.  "Ohhh! I like to do that!" and "Hey - I do that too!".  Yes, little ones.  You do so many things just like Carter.

You really are more alike than different.

I couldn't help but think about my dear friend, Mae, who told me a long time ago that from the moment I became Carter's mommy, I also became a teacher.  She told me that forever & ever, I would be a teacher.  A teacher to his friends, a teacher to our community, a teacher to the lady in the check out ahead of us, a teacher to his teachers.  I didn't know what she meant until today.

Aha.  I am a teacher. Our little ones (and lots of big ones, too) need to be taught how to include Carter. They need to be taught how to value Carter.  And if I don't teach them, who will?


I gave my sweet baby a kiss, and left for the day.  My first day of freedom.

It was a hard day.

Not really.

What?!  I already told you, we were both ready for this day.

Did I miss him?  Yes.  Like crazy.  Did I wonder what he was doing?  Every single minute.  But the break was good, and when he came home I was able to hug him with new & fresh arms, that missed his tugging and climbing so much today.

Our cherished little kindergartener had a treat from his Mimi AND his NaNa after school today, just in case he forgot while he was at school that he's a spoiled rotten only-grandchild.  Well, at least for the next 6 months.

It's amazing how much I have to share with you when I don't have a busy bee running around here.  I think I might be rambling now.

Let's wrap this up.  To kindergarten.  New beginnings, new growth, new friends, new freedoms.

So incredibly grateful.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Ready to rock kindergarten.

"A Little More About Carter" Notes:
I made this booklet using Word.  You can too, you just need to play with it.  Mine is printed 2-up on a 8.5x11 copy paper, front & back.  You'll save yourself many headaches and bad-words if you just do them one sided, trust me.  My wording on the inside is SUPER simple - my hope was that some kids might be able to read it themselves.  It was highly repetitive (I love to.....! Do you? - over & over).  I made a large copy and had it bound - that is what I read to the class today.  It was made heavy-duty, and will be kept in their little classroom library for the kids to revisit throughout the year.

I got the title for my book from this blog post.  She will send you a template for the booklets if you ask nice.  I didn't use her template or any of her wording.  Just her title.  Because it's so much cuter than "All About Carter" :)

And to my friend, Carin - thanks for all the awesome ideas you've given me about how to introduce our kiddos to their classmates & families.  You are an incredible 'teacher' - one who I aspire to be like!  Your passion is what sparked my idea for this book.  I thought of you so much today.

And now you're all wondering who Carin is, right?  Go here.  Just do it.  Go and read and CRY YOUR EYES OUT LIKE A BABY.

Rambling.  Done.  Bye!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dear Baby.

To say you are a 'desired child' would be an understatement.

Lots of people who don't even know you love you with a big, crazy, strong love.  And the mommy and daddy who felt you kick and move just might love you the most.

We can't wait to meet you.


Wait - did you think I was talking about Carter?! Well, I could have been.

But I wasn't.

Two very, very 'desired children' for this little Gibson family.

One has been in our home for just about 3 years.
The other has been in our hearts for almost that long.

The first one got here after lots of paperwork and airplane rides and varenyky.
The other will get here after a trip to the hospital.

Because it's in my belly.  Right now.

Surprise :)

Two years of hoping & praying & crying & peeing on sticks.
Two years of envisioning Carter as the Big Brother that he was meant to be.
Two years of waiting.

And finally.

Baby Gibson - coming March 2015.


"How do you feel?!?!"
Like I need a nap.  Even though I just got up from a nap.  Although, I'm 13 weeks tomorrow - so the tiredness is letting up a little bit.  Right as our active big brother goes back to school.  Of course!

BUT.  I haven't had a moment of morning sickness.  Believe me, I am crazy thankful.  I'd take major fatigue over major puking any stinkin' day.

"How long have you known?!?!?"
Since June 27th.  And then I waited 8 days to tell Jake, so I could tell him on his 30th birthday.  LONGEST EIGHT DAYS OF MY LIFE.

"Does Carter know?!?!"
Just ask him.  He'll say "Niiiice baby.  Mom baby.  Niiiiice."
Yep.  He knows :)

That's all the important stuff.

We're so, so, so, so excited.  Is this really happening?  Finally?


One Thing I Know For Sure: Eeeeeek!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

St. Germain {2014}

It's been eerie-quiet here, I know.
Until I have time to sit and explain, enjoy this Gibson Getaway recap :)


This year, our little baby who liked to just sit in the sand and play boats was nowhere to be found.  He was on the move.  Our little baby has turned into our little big boy.

His favorite pastime was walking along our beach, down to the boat, along the dock - all the way to the pontoon boat - and back.

Times 1000.

Also on the week's agenda?


And this.

And so much of this.

Look at this little sunshine boy, doing vacation right.

Don't you envy him? No cares about what's going on in the rest of the world.  No checking devices.  No worrying about the upcoming kindergarten year.  No wondering if Cathy's will have his favorite ice cream flavor.

Because some things aren't worth worrying about.

Actually, most things aren't worth worrying about.  Let's take a cue from Carter.  Just relax, people.  Life is good, vacation or not.

"Poppy, why are you still wearing your socks?!"

And again with the smiles and the laughter and the joy.

Look closely, friends.  These are real smiles.  Not the forced, silly, over-stimulated, sensory meltdown kind.

They're the real deal.  Happy, joyful, sunshine boy.

Gibson Getaway 2014 is in the books.  To say we had fun would be an understatement.

BACK: Jake. Duh. Uncle Tom, Poppy, Patsy, Uncle Ben
FRONT: Me. Duh. Carter. Duh. Auntie M, Mimi
Oh yea - I forgot to mention, the weather stunk.  But I guess since I forgot to mention it, it must not have mattered that much.

Time together, lots of laughs...what's a few clouds and some rain storms?!

Nothin' but a thang.  Is that a saying?  Jake says it.  So it must be.

We've been home for 5 days.  The laundry is done.  The rest of the house  Let's just say I'm enjoying my last week of summer with my soon to be kindybeaner.

And let's also say that my weed allergies are kicking my behind.  And my missing vertebrae is forcing me to walk like an old woman.

What?  It's really a thing.


Is anyone still reading along here?  Well if you are, I pinkie-promise that you'll want to check back next week.


One Thing I Know For Sure: "Nobody needs a vacation more than the man who just had one." - Wise, wise words from some guy named Elbert Hubbard.
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