The Carter Family

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

Jada's Birthday Dinner

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 10:05 PM
Today is Jada's 3rd Birthday. The past 3 years have been such a blessing and we are incredibly thankful that God chose us to be her parents.

We celebrated by going out to dinner to Red Robin tonight, as a family. Both of the kids were fantastic. Here are some fun photos of our family along with a video of everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to her. So fun!

Jada's 3rd Birthday Party!

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 10:12 PM
Miss Jada is turning 3 years old in just a few days. I can't believe how fast time is flying.

We had a little birthday party for her at our house last Saturday (12/10/11). Because she loves Dora the Explorer and has an equal, if not greater, love for crafts, we decided to throw a Dora themed party with "decorate your own backpack" activity. So fun. Here are pictures from her party.

Potty Trained and Starting (home)School!

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 10:36 PM
Jada is potty-trained! We're SO proud of her!!!

Last Wednesday morning (8/31), Jada told me that she wanted to wear her Dora underwear. Immediately, all plans were cancelled for the rest of the week and we started potty training! We are so, so excited that she doesn't want to wear diapers anymore. I think she's been physically ready for a while, but she's a little strong-willed (I have no idea where she got that from... ha ha), so we were just waiting for HER to make the decision that she was ready.

We started Potty Training Boot Camp on Wednesday morning and pretty much just stayed home for the next 6 days. Thursday morning, Tracy and her sweet girls came over for a play date, which was awesome. I get stir crazy very easily (which is why the kids and I usually go somewhere almost every day). It was great to have another mommy over to hang out with and to help hold Micah for me when I had to run Jada to the bathroom a couple of times.

On Friday night, we met the Marson family, at a park for dinner. It was perfect. So wonderful to spend time with friends AND a safe, outdoor place to visit during potty training. :-)

Jada had about 4 accidents the first day, 2/day for the next few days then NONE yesterday or today!!! Whoo hoo! She is doing fabulous.

Here's a little look at Potty Training Boot Camp... a painting station, a "picnic" lunch in the living room, the classy potty chair in the middle of the room & Micah just hanging out trying to suck on his toes. Pretty hardcore training, huh? :-)

Also... today was Jada's "First Day of (home)School"! I started a few days before Micah was born and had a few scattered lessons during the spring (then took the whole summer off), but now we're officially starting. My friend, Brianne and I are following the same curriculum (which is awesome because I need someone to hold me accountable with the lesson planning!) for our kiddos. The plan is to have a 20-30 min. lesson every Mon., Wed., & Fri. morning. I'm going to try to coordinate that with Micah's morning nap... we'll see how successful that is! :-)

Jada really thrives on structure (again... I wonder where she got that from... ha ha!) and I'm looking forward to having a scheduled, intentional one-on-one time with her. She absolutely loves it. She even invited her friend Fiona to school tonight. "Nona, you want to go to school with Jada tomorrow?" (I might just have to throw in an extra day of school this week because she's so excited about it!) :-)

6 Months Old

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 11:03 PM

5-Month Comparison

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 9:28 PM

One of my favorite pictures of Jada is her 5-month old shot that I took in front of our neighborhood playground. I thought it would be fun to take a similar picture of Micah, since he's 5-months old, in the same location.

Here's the outcome:

Taken 5/19/2009. My little chunky monkey.

Taken 8/17/2011. My long & lean little man.

Washington County Fair!

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 3:56 PM
Jada, Micah, & I headed over to the Washington County Fair (just a couple miles away from us) this afternoon! We met our friends Becky, David & Garrett and had a wonderful time together. We said hello to some fun animals in the barns, played in the children's area, sat on some huge tractors & even enjoyed a little picnic for lunch (Jada is REALLY into picnics right now). Not to mention, it's a beautiful, sunny day today - couldn't have asked for a better afternoon!

Here are some cute pictures of our adventure:

Jada LOVED moo'ing with the cows. It was pretty entertaining to watch - here she is in action! ha ha.

And here she is explaining that these roosters actually belong to her & David (hmmm...). :-)

Micah Update

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 4:51 PM
It's been 2 weeks since Micah & I came home from Emanuel Children's Hospital. He is doing well on his medication. We're still figuring out the best dosage for him; we want to give him the lowest possible dose, but obviously need it to be effective. Unfortunately, that means that he's been having a few seizures here and there during this transition time.

Emotionally, it's very tough because I know that my baby could have a seizure at any moment and all I can do is hold him, make sure he's breathing, pray for it to stop, try to concentrate on the symptoms so that I can report it to his neurologist, time it (to make sure it doesn't last longer than 5 min.), then just comfort him when he comes back and is upset afterwards. Definitely a trial.

However, I am incredibly thankful that we have this medication and an amazing pediatric neurologist and pediatrician who genuinely care about my son. Most of all, I'm thankful for the opportunity that this has given us to grow closer to God and to completely trust Him. This experience has made me realize, more than any other time in my life, that I don't have control over what's going on. I don't understand why this is happening. I can't make it go away. Our only comfort is that God sees the big picture when we don't and He has only good plans for us.

Romans 8:28 - "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called, according to His purpose."

Jeremiah 29:11 - "'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Hebrews 2:18 - "Since He himself (Jesus), has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested."

I'm so grateful that we're not in this alone. I can't wait to see how God uses this; may He be glorified!

God is in Control

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 7:11 PM
Last weekend, I noticed that Micah's face started twitching a little when he was sleeping in his swing. It just lasted about 15 seconds or so, and honestly, I thought that he was just in an active state of sleep. You know how during REM sleep, your eyes move around (thus the name "rapid eye movement", ha ha)? And sometimes babies sleep with their eyes halfway open (kinda weird looking, but it happens)? Well, that's what I thought it was at first.

A couple of days later, he did it again, but this time the mouth twitching was more pronounced. I started to get worried enough to grab my phone & record a short video of it. I figured that I'd just run it by his pediatrician at his 4 month appointment, which was only a couple of weeks out. As the week went on, it happened twice more and we started to take it more seriously. I had seizures when I was a newborn (very newly born, actually... about 1 week old) and we wanted to make sure that these little twitches weren't actually seizures. The last one occurred at about 8pm on Friday evening, so I waited until his pediatrician's office opened the next morning at 9am. I left a message stating pretty much everything I said above. As I heard myself audibly explain what was going on, I think the gravity of the situation hit me and I started crying on the voicemail. After about 15 min, the nurse called me back and told me to go straight to the ER. Not St. Vincent's ER (our hospital), but the ER at Emanuel Children's Hospital. Immediately.

Only 5 hours after I had first called his doctor's office, I was sitting across from one of the best pediatric neurologists in Oregon and she was viewing that video of Micah on my phone. Think about that for a minute. How blessed are we? Seriously. If we were in a 3rd world country, we would just have to watch our son continually have seizures and not have access to this kind of medical help. We are so, so incredibly blessed!

After an EEG, which confirmed that he most likely did have a seizure recently, she prescribed phenobarbital and he had his first dose via IV at 5:30pm. (It took 6 attempts to place the IV; a little hard for Mommy to watch, to say the least). As thankful as I am that we have this medication, if you know Gabe and I very well, you know that we take medication very, very seriously and only take it if absolutely necessary. It was really hard to give our 3 month old a medication that effects his brain. The thing about seizures, though, is that they beget more seizures. If we didn't treat it, his little developing brain would very likely continue to have more intense and frequent seizures; it would develop a repeating pattern that the brain would accept as "normal" behavior, therefore, reproducing that pattern over and over again. The medication prevents the seizures by calming that overactive brain activity and tells the brain that not having seizures is normal (instead of the brain thinking that seizures are normal).

We've actually decided to switch the medication to something more mild and which has substantially fewer side effects. The goal is to completely wean him off of medication in 6-12 months. About 50% of children grow out of seizures, of which I was part of that 50% and my seizures were more extreme and started at a younger age. We are 100% confident that God is in control and absolutely knows what's going on. He has an incredible plan for little Micah's life and our prayer is that little Micah would be a bright light shining God's power and compassion into the world.

Micah and I came home from the hospital at about 4pm on Sunday evening (Gabe cancelled his business trip and stayed home with Jada, took care of the house, visited us, and was such an amazing support to me over the weekend). We decided to go to the Sunday Night Celebration service at church that night. As we were singing, "God, You are mighty to save, mighty to save", I started crying. He is SO mighty to save. Thank you, God, for saving us.

Daddy & Jada visited Mommy & Baby Micah at the hospital

A very tired Micah... all of the poking, exams,
& EEG (notice the impressive hairdo) wore him out.

Our Room

Our Precious Boy

Jada & Micah Update!

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 10:42 PM
Jada Update:

Oh my goodness, Jada says the cutest things. We drove down to the Woodburn outlet malls a couple of weekends ago and she had a blast running down the aisles. She would run all the way around the corner, then I'd say, "Jada Faith, come here right now". She'd reply, "Oh okay, Mommy" and promptly book it in my direction. That's my girl! :-)

As we were walking down one of the aisles, she suddenly stopped and started swaying back & forth. "Watcha doin', Jada?", I asked her. "Oh, I just dancin' a little bit, Mommy. Just dancin' a little bit.". How cute is that?

Okay, next story... I'd better give you a little background info. on this one. Many of her toys take batteries and when they're not working very well, she tells us that they need a new battery. So... she's also really into wrestling Daddy, but she's dropkicked him a few times in the ribs (I'm so glad that Mommy's not really associated with the whole wrestling thing!). I'm usually downstairs feeding Micah while this whole wrestling match takes place upstairs. After one such dropkick, I heard a "Ughhh! Ouch, Jada. Daddy has an owee.". She replied with "Uh oh, Daddy. Do you need a battery in your tummy?". Ha ha!

She also has a new pet... Diego the Betta fish. She feeds him twice each day and loves choosing little rocks from outside to give to him (we clean them & place them in his bowl). He is her little responsibility. She's also in charge of opening the backdoor in the morning for Kaya to go potty outside. What a big girl.

Micah Update:

Little Micah is growing up so fast. His smiles are simply amazing and can brighten up any day. He absolutely LOVES to get his diaper changed (a complete difference from Jada as a baby) and smiles even more when I wiggle his legs around and say "run, run, run!". He thinks it's hilarious. :-) This past week, he also started cooing. We take turns "talking" back & forth and he just seems so proud of himself. At 10 weeks old (about a week and a half ago), he even gave me an EIGHT hour night. Eight. That's right... a full night's sleep. Loved it. Usually, it's about 6 hrs. in a row, so I really can't complain.

Our kiddos keep us very busy. Gabe's job is going well, my little bookkeeping business is growing and our babies are growing up fast. Life is crazy, but life is awesome. We're so thankful for everything God has given us. He has blessed us in big ways.

Precious Little Milestones

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 9:37 PM
Our little Micah is already 7 weeks old. I'm proud to report that he's a great little eater, sleeper & as of about a week ago, smiler. :-) He has the most adorable smile; it's so rewarding, as a parent, to see precious, tiny eyes brighten up as a huge smile extends across a baby's sweet face. The best time to get him to smile is right after he wakes up and I unswaddle him. Aww. My sweet boy.

According to my bathroom scale, he's currently 11.5 lbs. (way to go, little man!). At less than 5 weeks old (the night before), he slept for 6 hours straight at night! He's only done that a few times since then; most of the time he gives me about 4-5 hour stretches - still pretty amazing.

At 3 weeks old, he started doing little pushups off of my chest and it remains one of his favorite activities. A few times each day, he performs his mini-exercises which includes pushups off of my chest, leg presses off of my lap (as he's laying on my chest), and turns his head side to side. He voluntarily performs these exercises & actually, if he's a little cranky, it puts him in a good mood. Overall, he's a very easygoing baby. He's incredibly laid back and has the sweetest personality.

Miss Jada is an excellent big sister. We've had a few jealous moments, but most of the time, she's great at sharing and loving on her little brother. Today, she walked up to him and, in a quiet voice and completely unprompted, said "I love you, baby Micah". Oh my goodness. That just melts a mommy's heart.

I'm so blessed to have the most incredible husband and two most precious kiddos ever. I love my family.

Here's a picture of our family of four (wow... family of four) on my 28th birthday, last Saturday.

Introducing... Micah Gabriel Carter

Published by Gabe, Amber, Jada and Micah Carter under on 9:01 PM

This past Wednesday, God blessed our family with our newest addition, Micah Gabriel Carter. He was born on 3/2/11 (pretty awesome birthday, huh?) @ 9:37pm. He weighed in at 7 lbs. 9 oz. & was 19.5" in length. He is such an easy-going, content, sweet baby boy. His little days are full of sleeping, nursing, cuddling, looking around for a few minutes, pooping, then sleeping again; this little cycle happens about every 2.5-3 hrs. :-)

His first doctor appointment was yesterday morning (5 days old) and he's already weighing in at 7 lbs. 8.5oz! That's quite impressive considering that the goal is to be back to birth weight by 2 weeks of age & he's almost there at 5 days; I'm proud of my good little eater.

Wondering how Wednesday went? Here's the story...

I woke up at 4:30am with contractions every 10 minutes lasting about 1 minute each for about an hour. I called the hospital at 5:30am & spoke to a triage nurse in Labor & Delivery. She told me to come on in. My next call was to my sister, Annie, who stayed with Jada while we were in the hospital. She packed up right away & hopped onto I-5. I then called my good friend, Kathleen (THANK YOU again, Kathleen!) to come over to watch Jada for us while my sister drove up from Eugene. I'm SO thankful for awesome friends and sisters who don't mind sacrificing their sleep/plans to help us out in the wee morning hours.

Gabe & I quickly finished packing our hospital bags & took off. It was much different driving to the hospital in clear weather instead of the crazy snow storm that we drove through when Jada was born. I was starting to get worried because the contractions started to slow down. When I checked in, I was 4cm dilated (I was 3cm just a few days previous at my last prenatal appt.) & my contractions were becoming further apart & less painful. The nurse monitored the contractions and Micah's heart rate. The contractions weren't too impressive, so she asked me to walk around the hall for an hour then we would see if I made any progress.

We spent the next 50 minutes or so walking the Labor & Delivery loop about 20 times. My legs were cramping up and that lovely round ligament pain kicked in, but I was stubborn & really wanted to see some progress, so we kept walking. After the hour, I was still at 4cm, so she told me that I had to go home and wait for the contractions to become more intense again. By then, my sister was arriving in Beaverton & taking over for Kathleen. I really didn't want to go home because I was afraid that I would either start having contractions again and have to rush to the hospital and not have time for an epidural (can you tell I love epidurals?) or I would come back to the hospital once they were more intense then just get sent home again. Anyway, the nurse hooked me back up to the monitors and told me that they would just watch my contractions & his heart rate for a few more minutes before I went back home. After a couple minutes, my contractions picked up just a little & Micah's heart rate dipped a little... not enough to be too worried, but low enough to require more monitoring. Yay - thanks, Micah! The nurse came back into the room and said, "You just won yourself an induction". Whoo hoo! It was time to have a baby!

My doctor wasn't able to take care of me that day, but Dr. Wentross was the on-call doctor and she's wonderful. She broke my water at about 12:30pm to help get things going. When I was in labor with Jada, my contractions became A LOT stronger once my water was broken. This time it did help, but honestly, my contractions just felt like really bad cramps... nothing terribly impressive. At 3pm, we decided to start a small dose of Oxytocin to see if it would jumpstart my body into labor-mode. I was starting to develop a headache by then because I hadn't really eaten anything since my grilled chicken salad 22 hours before that (it wasn't holding me over very well). Dr. Wentross told me that I could order something really lite from the menu to help give me some energy. I ordered 2 potato rolls & a banana. I seriously felt like a new person after those few calories & was ready to get the party started. The oxytocin drip started at 4:15pm at 2 (not sure exactly what that breaks down to, but I know that it said "2" on the machine). We increased the dose to "4" and that's when things started picking up.

At 4:30pm, Gabe was getting pretty hungry, so I told him that he could go downstairs and grab a burger but to please just eat it down there, so that I wouldn't smell the deliciousness in our room. :-) I was feeling good enough to be okay on my own for a little while, at that point. When he was downstairs, my nurse told me that I could order some Jell-O, which sounded amazing, so I ordered that for my "dinner". At 5pm, the contractions were reaching the point to where I was clenching my fists & crying with each one, so I texted Gabe between contractions "Contractions are getting stronger - might get epidural soon. Oh, & I ordered Jell-O :-)". He walked in the door about 30 seconds after I sent it. The next 15 minutes or so were filled with painful contractions that were quickly becoming more intense. I went ahead & asked for my epidural thinking that it would be another 45-60 min. before the anesthesiologist would show up (that's how long it took with Jada), but I was pleasantly surprised when he arrived in about 15 min. After the epidural kicked in, I felt SO much better. Initially, it was pretty numbing, but then it tapered off to the point where I could move my legs around & could still feel the contractions, but they just felt like bad cramps; the edge was taken off. Hooray for epidurals!

Because of my challenging labor & delivery with Jada (pushed for 3 hrs. & 13 min.), I decided to wait until I felt like I absolutely HAD to push (spontaneous pushing instead of coached pushing) before even attempting this time. Even though I was at 10cm at about 8:45pm, I waited until 9:20 (that's when I actually wanted to start pushing) to start. I pushed one time at 9:25, at which point the nurse told me to stop pushing because she needed to grab the doctor.

A few seconds later, Jessica (my nurse), walked back into the room with a woman who introduced herself as Helen (an awesome certified nurse midwife). She said, "Hi, I'm Helen. Dr. Stewart's delivering another baby down the hall (by then, the on-call doctor had changed), so I'm filling in. I'm so happy to be a part of this with you. I'll just be over here washing my hands. Just push when your body tells you to push & don't push if it doesn't. I'm ready to catch your baby whenever it happens". She was so sweet. I pushed once & she asked if I wanted to touch his head, so I did. I expected him to be barely crowning, but then I realized that his entire head was out. I started crying out of joy & pushed again & I watched her just guide his shoulders out. She then looked at Gabe & said "Can you grab him for me? Just grab him right here and pull." Gabe helped deliver Micah & it was just so perfect.

What a blessing to witness such a miracle!

Jada is adjusting very well to being an older sister. She loves helping Mommy take care of baby Micah. Here's a cute little video of her helping. :-)

Here are some precious pictures of Micah's first 6 days of life...

Gabe is on paternity leave right now and we're just enjoying spending time as a family. We're loving the visitors that are stopping by to meet our new little man and are planning a couple of fun outings too. We had lunch today at Out of This World Pizza (a fun indoor playground in Hillsboro that serves pizza & ice cream) and are planning on going to the Children's Museum on Thursday.

We are so blessed. I just couldn't be happier.