Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A New and Very Tiny Family Member!

It was a glorious day in October when Mommy and Daddy got to get up really early and go in for a scheduled birth date of their second child. Mommy had a blast making friends with all the hospital staff, and Daddy drank lots of coffee. By 8am, you had arrived!

Kennedy Rae Zuverink
All 8lbs, 15ouces of you! You were 21 inches long. A big girl, just like your sister. 

Your big sister wasn't so sure about you at first. She wanted to keep some distance until she figured out that you were an okay addition to the clan. 

Uncle Kole came to hang out with us and read to your big sister.  

And Kelynn got to play with Daddy! 

While you did loooooooots of sleeping.

In the last couple of weeks, there has been lots of snuggle time! 

And your big sister has become fascinated with everything baby related. She especially likes to "burp" her babies. 

And when one of us feeds you, your big sister likes to feed her baby too. 

You are settling in just fine, kiddo! 

You are already proving to be so different from big sister. You LOVE to cuddle, for example. 

Especially on daddy or pops.

We are so excited to add you to the clan, chickadee. We are sure you and big sister will be best of friends (when you're not stealing each other's clothes). We can't wait to see what God has for you and for our little family! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

To the Strangers I Cried In Front of Today

To the Strangers I Cried in Front of Today:

Person 1
I got myself directions to the wrong pediatric radiology building in Grand Rapids, and was late for my 8:45 appointment. When I called you to see if you could squeeze me in a few minutes later, you said you probably couldn't, and "could I reschedule for tomorrow?". When the combined stress of 1) no sleep, 2) getting out the door early with a toddler and a newborn by myself (for the first time), 3) and worrying slightly about the lump on my newborn's skull combined, I burst into tears and hung up on you. When I called you back, you had magically found an opening and allowed me to re-map myself and get there 15 minutes late.

Person 2
After parking outside the very large hospital, I explicitly followed the directions given to me and wound up completely on the wrong side of the building. With a baby... in a heavy baby carrier... 10 days after a c-section. Not a brilliant move, I know. I'm sure it had nothing to do with operating on zero sleep. On my third attempt at the correct elevator, looking for floor "C," you asked me which button you should push for me as I stepped onto the elevator. Seeing that there was no "C" button on this elevator either, I burst into tears for the second time. You then spent 15 minutes of your morning walking me across 2 sky bridges between buildings, on 3 more separate elevators, down a flight of stairs, through a check-in desk, and directly to the room where I needed to be. I'm sure you then spent 15 more minutes getting back to the side of the hospital you were originally headed.

Person 3
After our appointment, relieved that the lump turned out to most likely be a cyst that will resolve itself, I found my way back to the parking garage at the hospital, remembered the appropriate level and row, and then felt my spirits sink as I realized how complex the garage was, and how that information was relatively useless. I wandered for (no joke) 25 minutes...still carrying the carseat, honking the horn on my car with the remote. The problem with parking garages is that they echo so much that no matter which direction you're facing, the sound always seems to be coming from behind you. You saw me wander by once, twice, and on the third time, you stopped wheeling your stroller, which was carrying 2 impaired children, and asked me if I needed help finding my car. For the third time this morning, I fell utterly to pieces. You have spent more time in this parking garage than anyone should ever have to, and you took a moment to help me find the secret stairway that evidently led directly to my car.

Persons 1-3
I know nothing about you aside from your gentle voices, kind faces and immeasurable generosity. You knew nothing about me except that I looked exhausted, messy, frustrated and helpless. Never the less, you took minutes out of your day to help a stranger. And you will never know how much each of your acts of kindness ministered to my heart.
Lord please let me be the type of person who takes a few extra steps to help the exhausted, the messy, the frustrated and helpless. Let me never dismiss the helpers you send to guide me through the days when I get so lost I have no hope of finding my way back alone. Thank you for your reminders that you will always meet me when I come to the end of myself.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sunshine and Butterflies?: An Expose on What Having a New Baby is Really Like

 Social media is full of pictures of old friends' newborn babies, and many well intentioned comments such as - "Enjoy every moment with your little one!" or "Isn't it SO much fun to be a mommy?" or "Wasn't it worth the wait?"

As the birth of my second child approaches, I find myself reminiscing on what it was like to have just given birth AND have a newborn in the house.

Admittedly, I have no idea how it feels for dads, and I certainly cannot speak for all the moms in the world. I can only speak for a handful of my friends who have all shared in many new-baby-era difficulties.

First let's address: "enjoy every moment":
 1. You're bleeding. No matter how that little homeslice arrived, you're bleeding. A lot. Ew.
 2. You're sad. Hormones are a beating. They make you sad and lonely, no matter how many people are there to help you.
 3. That tiny thing that now lives in your house needs to be fed like... every moment. Guess what - that means you have lost any identity you once had, and have become a feeding machine. Whether you are nursing, pumping, formula feeding, or a combination of any of the above, that means you're on call. At every moment.
 4. You feel super sexy because your belly still looks like you're 7 months pregnant, minus the firmness. Lots of sag. Fantastic.
 5. You smell awesome. You haven't had a chance to shower in days, and even if you have, it most likely was at least 2 spit-ups ago.
 6. You feel guilty. Either you're formula feeding because nursing just did not work out for you, or you're not cloth diapering, or you're vaccinating, or you're not vaccinating, or you're using store-brand baby lotion... And all of these decisions are against what someone told you to do.
 7. And MOST IMPORTANT - you are wondering why in the world you haven't completely lost your mind with love for your mini-me. Yes, that's your child. Yes, it's super cute. But it doesn't seem to really care if you hold it or your boss's wife holds it. It doesn't seem to really mind much, really. As long as it's got a full belly and a clean diaper. And your instincts have kicked in, so you'd have a stand-off with a lion if you needed to protect the mini-me. But that overwhelming, heart exploding joy everyone keeps talking about is missing... maybe it got stuck in the breast pump somewhere...
   - by the way, isn't it time to feed again? Don't forget to sterilize your bottles first.

The really good news is, it does get better. The mini will start smiling at you. It'll start giggling at you. It will start sleeping. It will keep growing, despite your choice to formula feed. It will start preferring you to strangers, despite your choice to pump or not co-sleep. It will still pee and poop just fine, despite your choice to use disposable diapers. You'll stop wondering why you STILL smell like spit-up. You will start to breathe outside air again, and interact with adults.
And best of all, that overwhelming, heart exploding joy they keep talking about... it WILL show up. And it'll knock you on your butt.

But in the mean-time, when people say "enjoy every moment!" - it's okay to ask them to hold the baby while you enjoy a few moments of alone time. Maybe in the shower.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Great Migration

Well, it would be an understatement to say that in the last 2 months, a lot has happened.
For starters, after a long and exhausting journey, with the help of a grandpa and an auntie, we made it to Michigan!


We have settled in with Kelynn's Auntie Kim and Uncle Peter, who have oh-so generously and graciously taken us in until we find a place of our own.

For the first 5 weeks, Ben had to stay in Dallas to finish up work, while Kelynn and I worked together to unpack and find mommy a job. Ben stayed with some dear friends of ours, the Hadleys. How do we begin to thank you enough...

So far everyone is acclimating every well! Izzy really likes all the bunnies and chipmunks she gets to chase. 
Kelynn and I go on lots of morning walks and play in the parks around town.


Kelynn Update: Baby girl turned 1 year old!
New things Kelynn does:
   Sings and dances
   Sits on everything (basketballs, toys, baskets, fireplace, steps)
   Talks! She says these words:
 "na na" - banana (general word for food)
"nie nie" - night night (when she's ready for bed)
"guh gir" - good girl (what she calls izzy)
"dat" and "dis" - that and this
"Go" - when she's ready to leave

We had her "ducky pancake party." We sure missed the old crew and the Franklin side of the family, but we were thankful to have some new friends and Zuverink family help us celebrate!


Katie & Ben Update: Ben finally got to come up for good last week! He starts working here (on a MUCH better schedule) this week. I have some great job leads and am interviewing at lots of places looking for a good fit for our family.

Baby 2 update:
I have ALREADY reached 22 weeks! This is my 20 week picture from this pregnancy:
Compared to 20 weeks at last pregnancy:

Cravings: Dairy (same as last time)
Things I miss: Laying on my stomach
Weight gain: 20 lbs
Maternity clothes: Oh yes!
Pregnancy symptoms: Hip pain, but that's it

We got to have an ultrasound a few days ago, at 22 weeks. Baby looks very healthy- 10 fingers and 10 toes!


Mommy will have a repeat C-section in early October, which will be scheduled at the next OB appointment in a month. Also, we will officially be revealing the gender in the next couple of days!
Special shout out to all of our close family and friends who have been so supportive during the move. We are so thankful to the ones who have kept roofs over our heads, helped us pack, move, and listened to us stress out. Thank you for consistently reminding us that the Lord is unwaveringly good, and that His timing is perfect. Thank you for your prayers and your listening ears. Thank you for offering up your homes and hospitality (Hadleys and Thompsons). May the Lord bless you for your generosity.
We love you guys! More fun updates soon!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I have a master's degree in - let's face it - kids. Raising them well long-term is what I'm passionate about. Looking at what we're trying to accomplish 18 years from now, and moving in that direction is something that I love to do. For my kids, for other people's kids. I think about it... a lot. And all of you who know me know that I talk about it... a lot. My mantra is always "Who are you doing this for? You or your child?" If the answer is you, then we should probably evaluate how effective it is. Chances are, it's not very.

For example -
 - Mom in line at the DMV with a whiney kid. Hands him some cheerios. Kid quiets down while he eats half his cheerios and drops the other half on the floor. Who is that for?
 - Kids ask dad 900 times in the grocery store for some Gushers. Dad says no 899 times, and time 900, he says "Oh all right, fine! But I better not hear another word out of you until we get home." Who's that for?
 - We're sleep training, and kiddo gets up over and over and over again, and at 3am mom finally gets up with him and lays down in his bed with him just to make him be still. Who is that for?

But some days...

Some days it doesn't matter whether you have a degree in child development or paper hat making. Some days you just want to rock your 1 year old (who is perfectly capable of going to bed alone) to sleep... not because she needs you to, but because she's freaking adorable and cuddly and you've had a rough day.

Some days you throw cheerios over your shoulder into the backseat when you're stopped at a red light, hoping one of them lands in an open mouth, just to make the noise stop. Because let's be honest, an over-cheerio'd kid is better than a kid with a sock shoved in her mouth.

Some days I'm not able to think long term. Lie. Some days I'm able to think long term and I just don't have the emotional space left.

Some days the Lord gives me much more sympathy for the sweet lady in the DMV line who just feels bad for the rest of us listening to her kid whine about missing Spongebob. It's these days when the Lord reminds me of why he meets me where I am, and why he's asked me to do the same for the people around me. Even on our best days, we don't live up. We will never get it completely right. But that's okay. It's been handled.

Some days we get to show our kids (inadvertently, but who's counting?) that we're not perfect. We fail. We cave. We need forgiveness from our savior and want it from them. Maybe that's more important than raising perfectly self-reliant kids after all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A New Adventure

When you take that first step
Into the unknown
You know that He won't let you go
... So don't be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes
And you can walk on the water too.

This song, by Britt Nicole, never spoke to me much. It's a bit trite... It's all been said. 
Until recently. The Lord has officially asked us to walk on water, and he hasn't shown us how it's going to work yet. I suppose specifics would be helpful:

Ben has been working anywhere from 80 to 100 hours a week since the beginning of February. As a family, we have been struggling. With Ben gone all the time, Kelynn wasn't getting to spend any time with him and  I had to maneuver childcare around my evening work schedule. Simple things like going to the grocery store or out to dinner as a family had become a rare occurrence. 

Around mid March, an option became available for us to relocate to Grand Rapids, MI. As most of you know this is Ben's home town, where most of his giant family lives. Moving means that we would go back to 50 hour work weeks instead of 100. It means we get our family weekends back. It means we get story time at night back. It means we get daddy back. After lots of prayer and tears, we decided to take the leap. We will be pulling the moving truck out of town on April 27th. 

This means lots of sad things: I'll be leaving my home - the city I grew up in, not to mention all of the unbelievable community the Lord has blessed our marriage with in the last 3 years. 

It means we will no longer be a day's drive away from my parents in New Mexico. 

It means I can't be the children's minister at our church, or a play therapist at Lifeworks anymore. It means leaving my high school friends, who remain some of my best and most loyal of friends.

It means leaving my little brother, who I've gotten the privilege and honor to watch grow into a good man and a wildly talented actor/singer. I'll miss you most, bro.

But it means a lot of good things too. It means beautiful summers and snowy winters where Kelynn and her siblings can sled with their cousins. It means being somewhere that has actual trees (and not large shrubs we Texans call trees). Above all, it means letting the Lord be our only sustenance. All we can lean on is that he wouldn't send us there if he wasn't going to take care of us there. 

And so it is with apprehension, excitement, relief, sadness and joy that I post this one. For those of you we're leaving... you will be deeply missed. You've loved us so well. You've challenged and pushed us closer to our Lord and Savior. You've laughed deep belly laughs with us, you've helped us raise our little Kel, and you've been our crutches when we couldn't hobble along alone. But for those of you we are getting closer to, we can't wait to spend more time with you and allow the Lord to forge deep relationships in a new place. 

We love you guys! Stay posted for updates. 

Friday, April 5, 2013


GAHHHH Mommy isn't ready for this!

You are a full blown toddler now. No gettin' around it. 

Since the last update at 9 months, you have started walking. It's the most fun thing ever to watch.

You also love to show us things. You grab anything, and hold it up for us to see. Or you point at things so we will name them for you. 
You're still not talking with real words, but since you were walking at 10 months, we think you might take your time with the words (which is fine with us). You have a few of your own words. Mostly you say "Dah!" and point when you want something. 

(Don't worry, mommy didn't let you play with the screwdriver for long)

Your new favorite thing to play with is your car. You use it to walk (or run it seems like) across far distances, and you also like to ride on it. You get on and off of it all by yourself. 

You still love being outside.

But now you also love getting into anything you can inside too.
Like the dog bowl.

Or the dishwasher.

And mommy's favorite thing, your new fake laugh that you like.

# of teeth: 10
Your Favorite things to eat: yogurt, applesauce, cheerios & kix, bananas, avocados
Favorite things to do: go out on the patio, go to the store and see lots of people and colors
Phase you're going through: Frustration when Mommy doesn't do exactly what you want her to. Like when you get in the high chair and your food doesn't show up instantaneously, or if you run out of food.  
 Size clothes: depending on the brand, anywhere between 12mo to 2T.
Weight: 21 lbs
What we're looking forward to: Our first solo mommy-daughter flight TODAY! Going to see the grandparents in New Mexico! How exciting. We can't WAIT to see them and to show off all your new tricks. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Hard Night's Day

Moms are for cuddles. Moms are for comforting when babies fall over, or get their feet stuck between the bars of the crib. Moms are for keeping tummies full, and arms and legs warm with clean clothes. Moms are for encouraging and loving daddies well. A lot of the time, moms are for helping pay the bills. Moms are for taking care of families.

Sometimes moms don't do these things very well. Sometimes moms are not slow to anger. Sometimes moms get exhausted just looking at the laundry pile. Sometimes babies need comforting all day. Sometimes moms cry on the way to the car after leaving the kiddos at the sitter's house so they can go to work. Sometimes moms don't have any encouragement left to give dads. Sometimes moms let fear get the best of them. Sometimes moms lean too much on their own ability, and not enough on God's. 

This mom had one of those days yesterday.

I was exhausted. The lord continues to promise to provide for our family, but doesn't show us the details of how that'll work out. He allows me to spin my wheels, frantically looking for a way to control things. If I could just put it all on a spreadsheet, project out 6 months and see that we'll come out on top, then I'd feel better. So I did. Only in 6 months, the spreadsheet doesn't project us coming out on top. 

So I sat next to my husband and cried. Feeling fairly sorry for myself. Why can't we just be comfortable? We are surrounded by people who are comfortable. Why can't we just not have to worry? Why does the Lord keep us so dependent? 

That's when it hit me. That's when it always hits me. It was never in my control. It was never because I did a good job spreadsheeting. My daughter and husband getting the cuddles and encouragement they need was never because I'm a wonderful mom and wife. James 1:17 says - Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 
This means that on days when I feel replenished and ready to give my family what they need, that is completely from God. The moment I start to think that I've got something inherently great within myself to give to my family, that's the moment I'll fail. The Lord does not change like shifting shadows. Shifting shadows are spreadsheets and feeling comfortable. They will fail me. God will never fail me, or my family.
My sweet and steadfast husband patiently reminded me of how faithful the Lord has been every day we've been married, that tomorrow worries about itself. These words - you guessed it - a good and perfect gift form the Lord. How amazing.

Isaiah 41:9 - I took you from the ends of the earth. From it's farthest corners I called you. I said 'you are my servant,' I have chose you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you. I will uphold you with my right hand.

What a promise for my little family.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fine Nine!

Our sweet Kelynn Mae is NINE months old!!

Happy nine months, baby cakes! You are getting so big - mommy and daddy are having so much fun watching you learn new things.

You have learned to pull up on everything. Your new favorite place to hang out is next to the window. Thankfully this January we've had great weather for you to enjoy! 

Sometimes you try to use your toy basket to pull yourself up, even though it's really short. Pretty funny to watch! 

You are also CRAWLING!!! Everywhere! This, of course means you hate your walker, because it keeps you contained and you can't pull up on everything. You do love being put into the laundry basket, though. 
One day, the three of us were sitting in the living room with the windows and the door open, and suddenly I looked up, asked where you were, and your daddy found you out on the porch!

As a matter of fact, you love being outside. This is you and me, kid - hanging out while daddy fixed your carseat today. 

We had our first bout of real sickness this week with you. You got a respiratory infection which moved into your lungs, and you also got an ear infection. All of this together created quite the fever! At 103, your mama was panicking! Miss Allison ran over to help us take the temperature...more *ahem* accurately ... and to put you in a cold bath and call the doctor. What great friends we have! Here's some evidence of a long week: 
Thankfully you're almost back to your old self! Still wheezing, but you're sleeping again, which mom and dad are very thankful for! 

You cruise around all the furniture - hanging on with your hands, you can walk all around the room. We are convinced you'll be walking in a month or so.

# of teeth: 7
Favorite things to eat: Eggs with spinach, yogurt, star pasta with spinach, toast and jelly - ANYTHING off mom and dad's plate
Favorite things to do: go out on the patio, go to the store and see lots of people and colors
Phase I'm going through: Separation anxiety - you don't like it when mommy and daddy leave you at church or with the sitter! But you get over it really quickly! 

Love you sweet girl. You are just a delight, and we are looking forward to planning your one year birthday party soon - yikes!