Tag Archive Suriname

A Peek Into This Past Week (+ Jesse’s 40th Birthday)

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We had a very relaxing day on Monday (Labor Day). We slept in, took a 3 mile walk with the three youngest, and Jesse took me to a place that sells coconut water in real coconuts!

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The weather has been so beautiful many days recently and we’ve been loving getting in lots of walks. The babies LOVE walks, too!

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Silas had multiple baseball games this past week. He’s so happy to be back to baseball and Jesse is loving helping out as an assistant coach.

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The babies and I spend lots of time on the sidelines cheering him on. (Though Kierstyn doesn’t look too thrilled about it in this photo! ;))

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She is looking more and more grown up!! She’s so expressive and just loves life!

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The kids’ school had their first football game and it was Kaitlynn’s first game to get to cheer at. She’s loving doing cheer this year!

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The babies have started really interacting with toys, playing with toys, and holding onto/playing with stuffed animals. It’s so cute to watch!

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Jesse turned 40 this past week. We celebrated with a double date with good friends at Ted’s Montana Grill (one of Jesse’s favorites). And then we spent the day of his birthday listening to the 9/11 radio real-time radio coverage (so sobering) and at an online foster care conference and watching Kaitlynn cheer at the football game.

I posted this on Instagram:

Jesse, I looked through hundreds of photos to pick the perfect one to capture who you are… and this is it: you carrying a baby in the car seat, a diaper bag on your back, and two stuffed bags in another hand — all with a smile on your face.

Last year on your birthday, we had just found out we were expecting. We knew the next year was going to be wild and unexpected and would include having a baby and me writing a book, but we had no idea it was also going to include a global pandemic, taking in a sibling group of 3 for a short time, Kathrynne getting stuck in Suriname, and the beautiful opportunity to love on and care for Champ (for almost half a year so far!).

I have gotten the amazing privilege of watching you behind-the-scenes through all these things.

No one else has seen the hours upon hours you’ve spent taking Champ to doctor’s appointments, or the long heart-to-heart conversations you’ve had with our older three, or the many rounds of catch you’ve played with Silas, or the way you have reached out and helped Champ’s mom, or the hours you’ve spent on the phone giving pro bono legal advice to friends, or the hours you’ve spent teaching Kathrynne to drive and driving her to work and countless social engagements, or the hours you’ve spent talking to, holding, reading, and singing to the babies, or the months of you waking up every single night to take care of Champ and/or Kierstyn, or the countless bottles you’ve made and diapers you’ve changed, or the shopping you’ve done with Kaitlynn, or the hours you’ve invested serving are church in the men’s discipleship program, the children’s ministry, the youth group, and running the coffee bar, or the many, many, many times you’ve ran errands or cleaned the house or made phone calls or taken both babies so I could work or write or sleep.

No one else has seen this, but I have — and God has. Your continual giving of yourself for us and others is a constant picture of Christ and how He laid down His life for those he loved.

There is no one else I’d rather be on this adventure of life with. I love you so much and would marry you all over again. Happy 40th birthday!

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BIG Updates From Our House (we tell you all about it on the podcast)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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Well, like I’ve alluded to other places online, the past two weeks have been packed full of so many different, unexpected things. Some good, some hard, some just plain different than what we expected.

It feels almost as if we’ve lived through an entire month in just a week’s time. In this week’s podcast episode, we sit down and talk about some of the BIG updates/changes/unexpected things that happened at our house recently, including:

  • getting a long-term placement from foster care for a preemie who was still in the NICU (he got out of the hospital today!!!!)
  • the kids being out of school and everything being cancelled — and how we are letting them plan their routine for the day and how that is working for us
  • Kathrynne’s trip to Suriname where she ended up getting stuck there because the country closed their borders due to COVID-19 (she only ended up having to stay two extra days — and she shares more about that experience on the podcast)

If you have some extra time and want a more newsy behind-the-scenes peek into what’s going on at our house right now, don’t miss this episode.

In This Episode: 

[01:25] There have been some major life changes happening lately and we’re going to discuss a few of them in-depth on the podcast today.

[03:21] The kids are planning their own routines during this time and it is saving both my life and Jesse’s life. Hear why we are having our kids be in charge of this and how we went about having them set this up.

[09:11] I’m reading Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel and I share some of my favorite quotes.

[12:45] Jesse is reading Fearless by Eric Blehm.

[18:36] Our sweet foster baby should be released from the hospital soon and we are so excited.

[21:24] Kathrynne joins us to chat about her adventures in Suriname. She shares why she went on this trip, what they did on the trip, and her biggest highlight of the trip.

[27:41] Hear all about how the trip ended very differently than any of us could have imagined and Kathrynne felt when they were told that the trip could be extended for 30 days or more. 

Links and Resources:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player here. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 34), Fostering, Quarantining, & Kathrynne is home!

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34 weeks! And what a week it’s been! Kathrynne getting stuck in Suriname because they closed the borders (gratefully, her group got on a special flight this past Monday —  see below), spending hours at the NICU taking care of the preemie we’re fostering, everything else in our life getting cancelled… it’s felt like a pretty unprecedented week!

Highlights

Pregnancy-wise, I’m doing well. I feel like baby had a growth spurt this week and I’ve popped even more. Very few clothes still fit and I feel pretty big, but I’m not at the totally miserable stage yet, so I’m grateful.

Getting comfortable while sitting and sleeping is becoming more of a challenge, but that’s to be expected when you’re in your final weeks of pregnancy! 😉

Notable

I’m thankful to not be experiencing much swelling yet. My face is definitely a lot puffier, but other than that, so long as I keep my feet up for part of the day, I’m usually good.

We’re hopefully bringing our NICU baby home soon, so I’ve spent some time this week making sure everything is in order for both babies — baby clothes are washed, diapers are stocked, a second bed is ordered, etc.

I also sat down and mapped out the bones of a feeding/sleeping/life routine today — since our little preemie is on an every three-hour feeding schedule and will most likely continue that once released from the hospital. We’re getting excited to think of being a family of 7 soon — but also trying to savor our last few days of being a family of just 5.

Cravings

I’m mostly only hungry in the mornings now. I’m usually famished for the first few hours of the day and then I’m not that hungry after lunch. I’m eating lots of apples/peanut butter and Raisin Bran/milk.

Oh and we found that vanilla ice cream before bed helps me to sleep better and not wake up with heartburn as often. I have no idea why, but hey, if it works, it works! 🤣I’m also eating dates every day and drinking red raspberry leaf tea to help prepare for labor.

Weight gain: 27 pounds

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She’s home!!! After being gone for 11 days, getting stuck in Suriname due to the country completing closing their borders, and being told she might not be able to come home for 30 days… we got to witness God move some pretty huge mountains in a very short amount of time. (The government arranged a special flight out of Suriname for them and a handful of others who were trying to get back to the US!)

A huge thank you to the many who prayed, the school administration who worked tirelessly to get them home, & the government officials who bent over backwards to make this happen.

Also, we are so proud of this girl! She handled the whole thing like a champ and told me she decided to focus on the positive in it instead of dwelling on the what if’s or unknowns.

She came back stronger, more resilient, more independent (in a good way), more aware of the goodness and provision of God, and so incredibly humbled by how many hundreds (thousands?) of people were praying for her and their team to make it home safely.

Thank you all to the many, many, many of you who wrote, texted, and messaged to tell me you were praying. It has truly been a humbling experience to be the recipient of so much love and kindness this past week… especially when SO much else is going on in the world. We are blown away how deeply you care about our family.

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And now we’re hunkered down at home for the next few weeks trying to stay as healthy as possible and keep our home as germ-free as possible since we’ll likely be welcoming a medically fragile babe into our home very, very soon.

(Interested in seeing the creative things my kids are finding to do each day while home 24/7 or want to follow along with our foster care journey? Be sure to follow my stories on Instagram. I usually post there multiple times per day every week day!)

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Speaking of Instagram, I posted this earlier this week and thought this might encourage someone today:

This is what the last 8 days of my life have looked like. Sitting in the rocker in the NICU rocking this tiny preemie we’re fostering and praying. (Note: The mask is just one of the many precautions the nurses are having me take to keep me and baby as healthy as possible.)

I’m usually a go-getter, a very driven person, who will have 15 balls in the air I’m juggling at any given time. My brain isn’t good at slowing down and I typically find living life at 100 miles an hour (with short pit stops here and there) to be exhilarating and fulfilling.

But right now, this is my season to rock, hold, comfort, and speak words of life to this precious baby. And that is enough.

I look down at this bundle I’m holding and realize, this sweet child doesn’t know anything about the chaos or fear going on in the world. Baby just wants to eat, sleep, and be held. And as long as I’m holding this child, they are almost always completely relaxed in my arms, resting deeply and peacefully.

As I sit here, I think of so many of you who are struggling today. Some of you have written in and told me how you are facing scary unknowns, big financial setbacks, possible job loss, fear of the future, worry over immunocompromised loved ones, separation from those you love, and so much more. This virus is personally affecting each of us in big ways.

I just want to remind you — as I am reminding myself — to crawl up into Jesus’ lap and let Him hold you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And He will give you what you need for today.

There are a lot of unknowns in my future right now — as I am positive there are in yours. If I let myself start dwelling on them, I can begin to feel scared and stressed. But God hasn’t given me grace for tomorrow or next month. He is giving me grace for today and I can rest in that.

And so, I sit here and rock — trusting Jesus that He has my future, my NICU baby’s future (and all the possible medical issues and things with that far outside my control!) my 34-week in utero baby’s future, my other 3 kids’ futures, my husband’s future, the future of our business, my extended family’s future… in His hands.

I rest in that and rock on. ❤️

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 34), Fostering, Quarantining, & Kathrynne is home!

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34 weeks! And what a week it’s been! Kathrynne getting stuck in Suriname because they closed the borders (gratefully, her group got on a special flight this past Monday —  see below), spending hours at the NICU taking care of the preemie we’re fostering, everything else in our life getting cancelled… it’s felt like a pretty unprecedented week!

Highlights

Pregnancy-wise, I’m doing well. I feel like baby had a growth spurt this week and I’ve popped even more. Very few clothes still fit and I feel pretty big, but I’m not at the totally miserable stage yet, so I’m grateful.

Getting comfortable while sitting and sleeping is becoming more of a challenge, but that’s to be expected when you’re in your final weeks of pregnancy! 😉

Notable

I’m thankful to not be experiencing much swelling yet. My face is definitely a lot puffier, but other than that, so long as I keep my feet up for part of the day, I’m usually good.

We’re hopefully bringing our NICU baby home soon, so I’ve spent some time this week making sure everything is in order for both babies — baby clothes are washed, diapers are stocked, a second bed is ordered, etc.

I also sat down and mapped out the bones of a feeding/sleeping/life routine today — since our little preemie is on an every three-hour feeding schedule and will most likely continue that once released from the hospital. We’re getting excited to think of being a family of 7 soon — but also trying to savor our last few days of being a family of just 5.

Cravings

I’m mostly only hungry in the mornings now. I’m usually famished for the first few hours of the day and then I’m not that hungry after lunch. I’m eating lots of apples/peanut butter and Raisin Bran/milk.

Oh and we found that vanilla ice cream before bed helps me to sleep better and not wake up with heartburn as often. I have no idea why, but hey, if it works, it works! 🤣I’m also eating dates every day and drinking red raspberry leaf tea to help prepare for labor.

Weight gain: 27 pounds

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She’s home!!! After being gone for 11 days, getting stuck in Suriname due to the country completing closing their borders, and being told she might not be able to come home for 30 days… we got to witness God move some pretty huge mountains in a very short amount of time. (The government arranged a special flight out of Suriname for them and a handful of others who were trying to get back to the US!)

A huge thank you to the many who prayed, the school administration who worked tirelessly to get them home, & the government officials who bent over backwards to make this happen.

Also, we are so proud of this girl! She handled the whole thing like a champ and told me she decided to focus on the positive in it instead of dwelling on the what if’s or unknowns.

She came back stronger, more resilient, more independent (in a good way), more aware of the goodness and provision of God, and so incredibly humbled by how many hundreds (thousands?) of people were praying for her and their team to make it home safely.

Thank you all to the many, many, many of you who wrote, texted, and messaged to tell me you were praying. It has truly been a humbling experience to be the recipient of so much love and kindness this past week… especially when SO much else is going on in the world. We are blown away how deeply you care about our family.

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And now we’re hunkered down at home for the next few weeks trying to stay as healthy as possible and keep our home as germ-free as possible since we’ll likely be welcoming a medically fragile babe into our home very, very soon.

(Interested in seeing the creative things my kids are finding to do each day while home 24/7 or want to follow along with our foster care journey? Be sure to follow my stories on Instagram. I usually post there multiple times per day every week day!)

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Speaking of Instagram, I posted this earlier this week and thought this might encourage someone today:

This is what the last 8 days of my life have looked like. Sitting in the rocker in the NICU rocking this tiny preemie we’re fostering and praying. (Note: The mask is just one of the many precautions the nurses are having me take to keep me and baby as healthy as possible.)

I’m usually a go-getter, a very driven person, who will have 15 balls in the air I’m juggling at any given time. My brain isn’t good at slowing down and I typically find living life at 100 miles an hour (with short pit stops here and there) to be exhilarating and fulfilling.

But right now, this is my season to rock, hold, comfort, and speak words of life to this precious baby. And that is enough.

I look down at this bundle I’m holding and realize, this sweet child doesn’t know anything about the chaos or fear going on in the world. Baby just wants to eat, sleep, and be held. And as long as I’m holding this child, they are almost always completely relaxed in my arms, resting deeply and peacefully.

As I sit here, I think of so many of you who are struggling today. Some of you have written in and told me how you are facing scary unknowns, big financial setbacks, possible job loss, fear of the future, worry over immunocompromised loved ones, separation from those you love, and so much more. This virus is personally affecting each of us in big ways.

I just want to remind you — as I am reminding myself — to crawl up into Jesus’ lap and let Him hold you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And He will give you what you need for today.

There are a lot of unknowns in my future right now — as I am positive there are in yours. If I let myself start dwelling on them, I can begin to feel scared and stressed. But God hasn’t given me grace for tomorrow or next month. He is giving me grace for today and I can rest in that.

And so, I sit here and rock — trusting Jesus that He has my future, my NICU baby’s future (and all the possible medical issues and things with that far outside my control!) my 34-week in utero baby’s future, my other 3 kids’ futures, my husband’s future, the future of our business, my extended family’s future… in His hands.

I rest in that and rock on. ❤️

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We spent $71.40 on groceries this week (+ what a wild & crazy week!)

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Whew! What a wild week it’s been!

In addition to everything surrounding COVID-19… school cancellations, church cancellations, sports cancellations, my parents cancelling their trip to come see us, Kathrynne being in Suriname while all this was going down*, and just figuring out how to navigate life in the middle of all of the unknown, we’ve also personally had some pretty HUGE things happen at our house this week… namely, we said yes to fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU.

So, much of our week was spent at the NICU loving on this little baby and meeting with the social worker/DCS/the medical team and learning how to care for a medically fragile baby.

I had never stepped foot in the NICU up until 4 days ago, so it’s been a whole new experience. And of all of the weeks, this was probably one of the most unique and weird weeks to be spending a lot of time at a hospital!! (They have a screening process just to get in the door and then to get in the NICU is a whole other level!)

The nurses and staff and social worker and DCS have all been amazing throughout this process and they have taught me so much and walked alongside us so well through this new territory. Also, we are so thrilled that the baby is doing so well, has started to bottle feed a little this week, and maybe get to come home in a few weeks!

(And yes, in case you’re wondering, this means that we’re planning to have two newborns at our house soon!! The kids could not be more excited!! Of course, this is foster care, so things could always change at any time… we’re just taking one day at a time and seeking to love well in this.)

If you want to follow along with this journey, I’m sharing little peeks on my Instagram stories every day.

*As of last night, Kathrynne is currently stranded in Suriname because they closed the borders just hours before she was supposed to fly back home today! Her school is working hard to get this situation resolved ASAP and get the girls back home. In the mean time, she has such a good attitude about it all. You can read more details here.

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Okay, enough of an update! Let’s talk about groceries!

We checked our stockpile and realized it was lacking in a few areas, so we shored up those areas so that we have a 30-day supply on hand — even though not everything was on sale this week.

I’m grateful that we did this earlier in the week, because our stores are pretty sold out of a lot of staple items now.

Jesse ran by Kroger on Monday to pick up a few things we needed:

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

  • Potatoes — $2.49
  • Milk — $2.99
  • Cheese — $2.29
  • 4 yogurts — marked down to $0.39 each
  • Total with tax: $9.91

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And then he ran by Aldi later on in the week to get a few more staple items:

Aldi Shopping Trip

  • 10-lb. potatoes — $3.79
  • Eggs — $0.58
  • Black Beans — $2.45
  • 4 boxes Mac & Cheese — $0.33 each
  • Steel Cut Oats —  $2.99
  • Great Northern Beans — $1.69
  • Milk — $2.49
  • Total with tax: $16.07 (The bag of sugar had a small hole in it, so they gave it to Jesse for free!!)

Psst! Have you checked out my post on my 25 Favorite Things to Buy at Aldi?

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I’m glad we got potatoes, because our store was completely sold out of them by Friday! (Who knew potatoes would be the big thing to stock up on?? That one surprised me!)

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Kroger had some three-day sales that I wanted to try to take advantage of. I wasn’t sure whether they would have these items in stock when I went by on Friday night, but they did!

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In thinking of making sure we have a 30-day supply of food and household items, I made sure we had enough on hand to make 30 dinners with our freezer and pantry items. I always love to have a few frozen pizzas on hand — especially for a quick dinner on busy nights or if the kids have friends over at the last minute! Yay for them being on sale for just $3.14!

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Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

  • 2 Kroger Pizzas — $3.14 each with the three-day sale
  • 2 bags of rice — $1.99 each
  • 5 packages Kroger cheese — $1.29 each with the three-day sale
  • Eggs — $1.19
  • 3 packages strawberries — $1.67 each
  • 2 bunches bananas — $2.71 total
  • 5 packages Nathan Beef Franks — $1.99 each with the three-day sale
  • Milk — $2.99
  • Apples — $3.99
  • Total with tax: $45.42

Our Menu Plan This Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Breakfasts: Cereal

Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Banana Muffins, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cookies, Pears, Yogurt, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂

Dinners:

Sunday — Fend for yourself

Monday — Turkey Meatballs, Breaded Eggplant, Salad

Tuesday — Rotisserie Chicken, Steamed Veggies, Twice Baked Potatoes

Wednesday — Chicken Tetrazinni, Banana Muffins, Veggies

Thursday — Meatballs, Apple Crisp

Friday — Leftover Meatballs, Leftover Twice Baked Potatoes, Steamed Veggies

Saturday — Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon, Strawberries

Cashback Earned: 75 points from Fetch Rewards and $1 from iBotta

Health

Life Update: Pregnancy (week 33), fostering a newborn, Suriname

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33 weeks — and I’ve very much officially outgrown this non-maternity sweatshirt!

Highlights

Well, this was quite the week! As I mentioned yesterday, in addition to all the upheaval, unknowns, and cancellations due to COVID-19, Kathrynne also got stranded in Suriname (I hope to have a good report to share on her situation there soon! It’s looking hopeful that they aren’t going to be stranded for 30 days!), and we started fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU.

This foster placement is likely a long term placement (as with foster care, that could always change) and baby will likely be in the NICU for another few weeks.

Becky Keife

So I spent the bulk of the last 5 days at the NICU and will likely be there much of every day until the baby comes home. I’m so thankful for the flexibility of my job and our lifestyle that is allowing me the opportunity to pour into and love on this little one. We are completely smitten and the kids look forward to me coming home every day to share the pictures and videos I take.

This is my first experience with time in the NICU and I’m so thankful for the amazing team there who has patiently taught me so much about how to care for a medically fragile child. I’m learning all sorts of new terms, bottle-feeding techniques, what all the beeps and alarms mean, what I need to pay attention to… Each nurse teaches me something new every day.

I’m trying to make sure to pace myself, eat healthfully, exercise, stay hydrated, try to get as much sleep as I can, and have downtime each day to hopefully stay well and continue to have a great pregnancy (the hospital won’t even let you in the door as a visitor right now if you’re not super healthy).

chair

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I’ve spent a lot of time this week sitting in a rocking chair in the NICU rocking two babies — one on my lap and one in my womb. It’s crazy to realize they are both about the same size right now!

And it’s also funny because the babe in my belly is constantly kicking the babe on my lap.

Also, yes, it’s looking like we’re going to have “twins” at our house in just 6-7 weeks. The kids are beyond ecstatic!! It should be quite the adventure! Feel free to hit me up with all your best advice for having two newborns at the same time!

Cravings

Milk, cereal, milk, and ice cream. Notice a theme?!?

Weight gain: 25 pounds

A Few More Peeks Into Our Life This Past Week…

Countries

I had the privilege of interviewing Becky Keife for my podcast this past week. Her book, No Better Mom for the Job, was one that really blessed me this past year. I can’t wait to share her episode with you on Tuesday. You are going to be so encouraged!

Family

Like I said, Kathrynne left for Suriname last Friday morning to go on a special learning/serving/experiencing trip with a teacher and a small group of girls from school. (This picture was taken at a park there.)

This is the girl who — just 5 years ago — was scared and completely uncomfortable to be around kids her age.

This is the girl who has struggled with so many panic attacks and anxiety.

The girl who was incredibly angry with us when we made the decision to put her in school after always homeschooling (she was so fearful of having to be around kids she didn’t know and to be in so many unknown situations all day long).

This was the girl who was terrified to get on a plane to South Africa with us just 4 years ago.

It’s our heart’s desire to raise self-sufficient adults, not co-dependent children. So over the past 5 years, we’ve slowly pushed her to do a lot of uncomfortable things, because we knew the only way she would grow wings and fly was if we gently nudged her out of the safety of our little nest.

We often wondered if we were making the right call and we spent a lot of time crying out to God for wisdom and direction for the next step. God has been so faithful to give us wisdom — even when it’s meant making really hard calls (like quitting homeschooling).

We look at her now and see that is was SO worth it — she’s a confident, outgoing 15-year-old with more friends than we can keep track of and a social calendar we struggle to keep up with. A girl who loves Jesus, life, adventure, travel, and people. A girl who excitedly jumped at the chance to go on trip to Suriname (her first international trip without us)!

We’re still finding our way in what it looks like to parent teens. And I know we’ve made plenty of missteps. But we continue to just look to the Lord to give us wisdom for each new day, each new situation, each new unknown… and we trust Him to be faithful!

Also, watching your kids go on their own adventures, jump out of their comfort zone, stretch themselves, and live courageously is one of the most rewarding things as a parent… even if it involves a lot of our own letting go!

How was your week? How are you doing in the middle of so much unknown and unexpected? Let me know in the comments! (And if you are feeling stressed and scared or just going through a rough time right now, leave a comment and let me know. I have lots of extra time to pray for people right now while I’m sitting in a rocker in the NICU!)

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We spent $71.40 on groceries this week (+ what a wild & crazy week!)

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Whew! What a wild week it’s been!

In addition to everything surrounding COVID-19… school cancellations, church cancellations, sports cancellations, my parents cancelling their trip to come see us, Kathrynne being in Suriname while all this was going down*, and just figuring out how to navigate life in the middle of all of the unknown, we’ve also personally had some pretty HUGE things happen at our house this week… namely, we said yes to fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU.

So, much of our week was spent at the NICU loving on this little baby and meeting with the social worker/DCS/the medical team and learning how to care for a medically fragile baby.

I had never stepped foot in the NICU up until 4 days ago, so it’s been a whole new experience. And of all of the weeks, this was probably one of the most unique and weird weeks to be spending a lot of time at a hospital!! (They have a screening process just to get in the door and then to get in the NICU is a whole other level!)

The nurses and staff and social worker and DCS have all been amazing throughout this process and they have taught me so much and walked alongside us so well through this new territory. Also, we are so thrilled that the baby is doing so well, has started to bottle feed a little this week, and maybe get to come home in a few weeks!

(And yes, in case you’re wondering, this means that we’re planning to have two newborns at our house soon!! The kids could not be more excited!! Of course, this is foster care, so things could always change at any time… we’re just taking one day at a time and seeking to love well in this.)

If you want to follow along with this journey, I’m sharing little peeks on my Instagram stories every day.

*As of last night, Kathrynne is currently stranded in Suriname because they closed the borders just hours before she was supposed to fly back home today! Her school is working hard to get this situation resolved ASAP and get the girls back home. In the mean time, she has such a good attitude about it all. You can read more details here.

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Okay, enough of an update! Let’s talk about groceries!

We checked our stockpile and realized it was lacking in a few areas, so we shored up those areas so that we have a 30-day supply on hand — even though not everything was on sale this week.

I’m grateful that we did this earlier in the week, because our stores are pretty sold out of a lot of staple items now.

Jesse ran by Kroger on Monday to pick up a few things we needed:

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

  • Potatoes — $2.49
  • Milk — $2.99
  • Cheese — $2.29
  • 4 yogurts — marked down to $0.39 each
  • Total with tax: $9.91

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And then he ran by Aldi later on in the week to get a few more staple items:

Aldi Shopping Trip

  • 10-lb. potatoes — $3.79
  • Eggs — $0.58
  • Black Beans — $2.45
  • 4 boxes Mac & Cheese — $0.33 each
  • Steel Cut Oats —  $2.99
  • Great Northern Beans — $1.69
  • Milk — $2.49
  • Total with tax: $16.07 (The bag of sugar had a small hole in it, so they gave it to Jesse for free!!)

Psst! Have you checked out my post on my 25 Favorite Things to Buy at Aldi?

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I’m glad we got potatoes, because our store was completely sold out of them by Friday! (Who knew potatoes would be the big thing to stock up on?? That one surprised me!)

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Kroger had some three-day sales that I wanted to try to take advantage of. I wasn’t sure whether they would have these items in stock when I went by on Friday night, but they did!

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In thinking of making sure we have a 30-day supply of food and household items, I made sure we had enough on hand to make 30 dinners with our freezer and pantry items. I always love to have a few frozen pizzas on hand — especially for a quick dinner on busy nights or if the kids have friends over at the last minute! Yay for them being on sale for just $3.14!

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Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

  • 2 Kroger Pizzas — $3.14 each with the three-day sale
  • 2 bags of rice — $1.99 each
  • 5 packages Kroger cheese — $1.29 each with the three-day sale
  • Eggs — $1.19
  • 3 packages strawberries — $1.67 each
  • 2 bunches bananas — $2.71 total
  • 5 packages Nathan Beef Franks — $1.99 each with the three-day sale
  • Milk — $2.99
  • Apples — $3.99
  • Total with tax: $45.42

Our Menu Plan This Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Breakfasts: Cereal

Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Banana Muffins, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cookies, Pears, Yogurt, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂

Dinners:

Sunday — Fend for yourself

Monday — Turkey Meatballs, Breaded Eggplant, Salad

Tuesday — Rotisserie Chicken, Steamed Veggies, Twice Baked Potatoes

Wednesday — Chicken Tetrazinni, Banana Muffins, Veggies

Thursday — Meatballs, Apple Crisp

Friday — Leftover Meatballs, Leftover Twice Baked Potatoes, Steamed Veggies

Saturday — Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon, Strawberries

Cashback Earned: 75 points from Fetch Rewards and $1 from iBotta

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Fear, Unknowns, & Courage (some thoughts on COVID-19 & more)

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Early Friday morning, Kathrynne (15) got on a plane to fly to Suriname (in South America) for 9 days with a teacher and a small group of girls from school. (This picture was taken at a park there yesterday.)

This is the girl who — just 5 years ago — was scared and completely uncomfortable to be around kids her age. This is the girl who has struggled with so many panic attacks and anxiety. The girl who was incredibly angry with us when we made the decision to put her in school after always homeschooling (she was so fearful of having to be around kids she didn’t know and to be in so many unknown situations all day long). This was the girl who was terrified to get on a plane to South Africa with us just 4 years ago.

It’s our heart’s desire to raise self-sufficient adults, not co-dependent children. So over the past 5 years, we’ve slowly pushed her to do a lot of uncomfortable things, because we knew the only way she would grow wings and fly was if we gently nudged her out of the safety of our little nest.

We often wondered if we were making the right call and we spent a lot of time crying out to God for wisdom and direction for the next step. God has been so faithful to give us wisdom — even when it’s meant making really hard calls (like quitting homeschooling).

We look at her now and see that is was SO worth it — she’s a confident, outgoing 15-year-old with more friends than we can keep track of and a social calendar we struggle to keep up with. A girl who loves Jesus, life, adventure, travel, and people. A girl who excitedly jumped at the chance to go on trip to Suriname (her first international trip without us)!

We’re still finding our way in what it looks like to parent teens. And I know we’ve made plenty of missteps. But we continue to just look to the Lord to give us wisdom for each new day, each new situation, each new unknown… and we trust Him to be faithful!

Also, watching your kids go on their own adventures, jump out of their comfort zone, stretch themselves, and live courageously is one of the most rewarding things as a parent… even if it involves a lot of our own letting go! 😉

Tackling the Timely Topic of Fear

On this week’s episode of the podcast, Jesse and I tackle the timely topic of fear. We discuss the current fears over recent tornadoes in our area, COVID-19, political unrest, sending our daughter to Suriname, and a recent situation of a lot of unknowns with potentially fostering a newborn.

If you struggle with fear — especially when it comes to unknowns or your kids — I think this episode will really encourage you. Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s how you choose to act as a result of that fear.

In This Episode: 

[01:44] Our area was hit by some devastating tornadoes, which is rare and has shaken up our community. 

[03:33] On top of that, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in our area the day we recorded this. We also just sent our daughter on a plane to spend 9 days in Suriname and we’ve walked through a lot of unknowns in foster care. We’ll talk more about what we’re learning from all of this later on in the show.

[05:14] But first, AT&Ts international plan is saving Jesse’s life right now and lotion is saving my life this week. 

[08:52] To go along with this week’s theme of fear, my book pick is one I highly recommend:Raising Worry-Free Girls

[11:41] We’ve been receiving some amazingly kind reviews on the podcast lately. Thank you!

[14:44] Get ready to dive into fear. First, I share the entire emotional journey we went through while waiting to potentially foster a newborn. (We’re still waiting on the call!)

[19:00] How I let go of the fear and anxiety I was feeling around this whole fostering situation. It wasn’t easy, but it was so good for me to work through.

[21:13] We discuss the emotional turmoil our community is feeling with the tornadoes, COVID-19, and political unrest and we share lessons and thoughts on fear. 

[23:31] Did you know fear can actually be helpful and isn’t necessarily a bad thing?

[24:25] Fear can either propel you to healthy action or paralyze you from taking action.

[26:20] We want to raise adults. Letting Kathrynne go on this trip and prep for this trip is one more step in the right direction.

[28:38] How are you going to act or react when fear arises?

Links and Resources:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player here. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

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