Louisa and Beatrix – Newborn Photoshoot!

By Katie

Bethlehem Twins 2017 Dec 13_01

A week or so after Louisa and Beatrix made their entrance into the world, Rita Zietsma, from Rita Zietsma Photography, made the 3 hour drive to visit them and to snap a few pictures.

Bethlehem Twins 2017 Dec 13_14

Bethlehem Twins 2017 Dec 13_13

In addition to being a beloved aunt, she also was the photographer who took the newborn shots of Atticus and Vivien.   I love that she has been there to capture all my kids in their first weeks of life.

Bethlehem Twins 2017 Dec 13_09

She doesn’t only do Newborn Photography, but has a stunning array of works of art.  You can check out her website here and see some gorgeous shots from her work and travels.



I can’t believe this happened 3.5 months ago already.  Lousia and Beatrix seem like giants compared to these tiny babies!

Looking back at these shots is reminding me to really try to treasure this time with Lousia and Beatrix.  I have said before that I struggle in the first year, but even seeing how much they have grown already makes me realize that this season is so fleeting.

Bethlehem Twins 2017 Dec 13_17
This is the funniest shot to me: we couldn’t get Vivien to smile for the life of us!

Looking at teeny tiny Louisa and Beatrix made me want to see the newborn shots of Atticus and Vivien as well.  It has only been 4 years since Will and I started on this journey of parenthood.  How our life has changed!


Beatrix reminds me so much of Atticus!  But I have heard there is a lot of VanGrootheest in Beatrix, and there is so much Bethlehem in Atticus, I don’t know what to think anymore!


I see a lot of Vivien in Louisa.  Especially in this shot:

Bethlehem Vivien Newborn 2015 Jun 12_24-Edit

And my favourite shot of Vivien’s session.  I can’t believe these 2 monkeys were ever this small!

Bethlehem Vivien Newborn 2015 Jun 12_32-Edit

Wow.  God has richly blessed me!

Now, if only all of parenthood was as idyllic as these shots make it seem!


Its Been 3 Months.

by Katie



Its been a while.

But, I feel like I have the perfect little scapegoats: Louisa and Beatrix (case in point: immediately after writing that sentence, Louisa started  crying and needed her soother.)


They are 13 weeks old.  But it might be 14 weeks.  I am at the point where the weeks blend into each other, and  I should be saying their age in months.

So, they are 3 months.

I can’t believe it because it seems like yesterday I was sitting on my bed getting ready to go to the hospital, but it also feels like 13 years since I got to sleep without waking up to feed a baby or two.

The first year is my least favourite year of parenting.  I feel that it is a year fraught with anxiety and stress and crying and hormones.   I am always convinced that there is something wrong with either one or both of the babies.  I feel helpless when they are both crying because they want my attention, and despite the fact that there are two babies, there still is only 1 of me.


I haven’t been able to tandem feed because both Louisa and Beatrix have a bit of reflux.  Not enough to medicate, but enough that if I don’t hold them upright immediately after a feed they spit up all their food all over.  In Beatrix’s case, its a spew that can go several feet.  In Louisa’s case, its a constant dribble.   Not tandem feeding means that I am feeding approximately 276 hours a day.

But these incredible months have also been filled with cuddles and smiles and coos and lots of love.  It is a humbling to see 2 little newborns develop and learn.  It is a blessing to see Atticus and Vivien love and play with them.  Atticus is actively trying to teach them to talk.  Vivien to trying to teach them … I am not sure what, but it involves a lot of toys and singing and patting.


They are starting to notice each other when they are laying beside each other.  The smiles they give to each other are precious!


I still can’t believe that God has given me 2 of His children to raise.  There are many times my heart cries out to God, telling Him that I was right and that I can’t do twins.  But there times of peace as well, when I feel myself being help up by Him; times when I don’t know how I am going to make it to the end of the day, but I do make it through His strength;  times when I am so overwhelmed by His love, that He gave up His Son for me.

I am so thankful for these 2 girls and for their older brother and sister.



A Story of a Birth

By Katie


Hi y’all.

(I had twins and it turned me into a Southern belle.)

(And if this post doesn’t make sense: I am tired, because, Surprise Surprise, there were 2 babies in me.  And 2 babies equals 2x the babies as 1 baby.  I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest….)

Anyways, 3 weeks ago ( how was it 3 weeks already!?!) Louisa and Beatrix came into the world screaming their heads off.


Let me tell you the story.  It will be short because I hear Louisa grunting and she will want to eat.  Again.

My section was booked for 8 am, but we got bumped for an emergency c section.  We didn’t make it into the operating room until around 11 am.  It was hard to wait, though I tried to enjoy it, knowing I wouldn’t have peaceful moments where I could read my book relatively uninterrupted for a long  while.  But I was also eager to meet the twins.  So my emotions were all tossed up.


When we were finally brought to the operating room, I remembered how much I hate surgery.  There are all these machines and people and medical stuff and modesty doesn’t seem important (well, my modesty, everyone else was allowed to stay clothed.)   But I was brave, and stepped into the room all by my self, without having to be corralled and forcibly pushed in because I was trying to escape (this is what happened with Atticus’ birth.  True story)

Kingston is a teaching hospital, so for every doctor/nurse there is a student/resident/follower.  It makes for a very full operating room.  Throw in 2 pediatric teams and a bunch of medical students excited to see a twin c-section and it felt like a party.

A party where I am cut open like an offering.

This was my worst c section.   I don’t know if my reaction to the anesthesia is changing or if its a different cocktail of drugs every time, but I feel more out of it with each section.  However, this section I was able to see my babies be born which was the most incredible sight in the world.  They both came out crying loudly and I was overcome with all the emotions.  That feeling meeting your baby (ies) for the first time and thinking “I know you,”  is incredible.

The pediatric teams on standby didn’t even wait for the cord of Beatrix to be clamped before they left saying that they clearly were healthy babies.  There are a lot of complications that can come with twin pregnancies, and I am so thankful for their health.

Like I said, this was my worst section.  Will couldn’t really hold either twin on me because I was so out of it.  This breaks my heart, but Will did an admiral job watching and snuggling them while I was being stitched up. 🙂


Louisa reminds me of Vivien in both looks and character.  She took to breastfeeding like it’s her right and will let me know if there is something wrong.   Or if she is waking up.  Or if she just wants to be heard.  I am so excited to have another loud child.  (<- that is sarcasm.)

Beatrix, who looks like Atticus, took longer to get used to feeding and still likes to take her time.  She is the calmer one, so far.


Atticus and Vivien absolutely love their sisters.  I am surprised with (mostly) how gentle they are.  It is amazing to see my 4 kids together.  My heart overflows with joy.


The Twins are Coming! (tomorrow)

By Katie

I haven’t posted in a while. This twin pregnancy is kicking my butt, and I am not being gracious about it.  I am glad that I am not married to me (don’t laugh, it is actually a thing.  I don’t think I would be a good spouse for me.)   But I do have so much more empathy and respect for people who suffer from chronic pain or disease, especially since they don’t have an end date, and I do.

I can also commiserate with Rebecca:  I feel like a have 2 nations warring in my womb.   When one starts rolling and kicking, inevitably the other starts.   This doesn’t bode well for when they are ex-utereo .

Also, I have no brain cells left, so if the words I write make no sense, I am sorry.

Buuuuut Beatrix and  Louisa are coming tomorrow!  And we couldn’t be more excited!  Every morning, Atticus and Vivien climb into my bed to say good morning to the babies (through my belly button, its the cutest ever!) and we count the days until they come on our fingers.  They both agree that 1 day is not very many!

We did a lot of renovating in the last few months: we redid our upstairs bathroom, re-floored the whole upstairs, re-painted the upstairs and redid some of the trim upstairs.  I was really hoping it would all be done by the time the twins arrived, but last Thursday I told Will all renos were stopping because I couldn’t keep up with the house any more, mostly due to exhaustion and a very sore back (you would have a sore back too if you had 500 lbs hanging off your front!!)  Since then, we slaughtered and butchered 2 chickens, repainted the doors upstairs and changed their handles and hinges, and finished hanging trim.    But other than that, we are done with renoing.   For at least the next week or so 😛  (The only room we didn’t do upstairs is the future nursery.  So Will isn’t going to get too much time off.  Sucker. )

The girls will be sleeping in our room for the first 4-5 months, depending on how it goes.  They will be sharing a crib (I figure they have shared like 1 square foot for 9 months, a crib will seem positively huge!)  It was so fun to be able to set up the area for them.



I went shopping with Vicki to buy some newborn clothes.  It was really hard to do because  I have big babies who don’t fit in newborn sizes.  Atticus almost had to go home in a onsie piled high with blankets because the outfit I bought didn’t fit at all.  But they say my twins should be in the 6 lb range.  And the newborn clothes say they fit 6 lbs, so hopefully it will be fine.  These is the coming home sleepers I have for them:


My mom went shopping with me to get receiving blankets and she bought me a beautiful blanket to cuddle them in.   Atticus picked out the receiving blankets, informing me that polka dots are the way to go.  Trendsetter or follower, I don’t know.

I bought cute little bonnets from Jess Lodder at Two Lil Otters.   They were a steal of a deal at only $8 each!  I bought newborn sizes so I hope the girls don’t come out with gigantic heads (like a certain son of mine…)  I can’t wait to put them on Beatrix and Louisa!  Jess makes a lot of different things for kids.  The quality is great and I got them really quickly.   If you are in the market for cute baby things, I totally recommend her 🙂


I am not totally ready yet.   But I think I am ready enough for the twins.  They won’t know what is missing, right?


Update on the Twins! (Please insert your own clever title. I am not on my naming A-game.)

By Katie

I am 26 weeks which means I have about 10 weeks left.


20170915_091322 edit
If you came here for the stellar photography, you are in luck!

We found out at my last ultrasound that we have 2 girls!

(Atticus was disappointed.  He told me that he asked God for at least one boy.  I told him that I asked God for only one baby per pregnancy.  God tests us all.)

We have named baby A Louisa which means Fights with Honour.  So our new daughters’ names are Beatrix and Louisa.

I am so excited to meet them! (Especially since I found this baby carrier by MiniMonkey that is coming out in November.  Just in time!)

But I am also so apprehensive. (And now its on to the complaining – feel free to skip the next few paragraphs if you have a plethora of complaining in your life.  I’m looking at you, mom of littles!)

This has been my toughest pregnancy yet.   I don’t know if it’s the fact that its twins, or that I have a 2 year old and a 3 year old or that I am in my thirties.

Regardless, I am so tired.

Like so tired that I think 6:30pm is a perfectly reasonable bed time.

Like so tired that after breakfast and morning routines, I think 9 am would be a perfectly good nap time.  (My littles disagree.)

Like so tired that my every day tasks seem just oh-so-daunting.

It’s been tough.  I like being productive and having projects on the go.  But I am not productive.  And my projects take forever.   I don’t even have energy to crochet, which is ridiculous.

It didn’t help that a twin mama friend of mine told me on Sunday, “Oh you think you are tired now, wait until they are here!”  Oh, goody!

20170915_091246 edit
Honestly, I would act the same way if someone interrupted my reading time to take pictures.

My last OB appointment was not encouraging.   Things like immediate skin-on-skin are really important to me.  Not so much to my OB.  She was not encouraging at all with the likelihood of me holding my babies while my surgery is finishing.   Both Atticus and Vivien were placed on me and held there by my midwives.  I don’t think I realized at the time how much of a blessing it is to have midwives in the surgical room.    My OB said that it was unlikely I could have immediate skin-on-skin.

I am the one who carried these souls next to my heart for 9 months.  I am who is getting cut open like an offering to deliver them.  I am the one who will be feeding them from my own body for the first part of their lives.  I think I am the one who should snuggle them.  They should be on me.

I cried the whole way home.   I am already very nervous about being able to bond with two babies at the same time.  It seems rather overwhelming.  There is only so much time in a day:  how do I make sure they get enough snuggles and hugs and kisses from their momma?  What if I snuggle one more than the other without realizing it ?

Then there is breastfeeding.   Eiieee.  I read that to exclusively breast feed a baby requires 35 hours a week.   And I am having 2.  That is 70 hours a week of breastfeeding.   I hope that I can feed tandem!

Logically, I know these fears are baseless and short-term problems.  I will adapt.  The surgery will only be 45 minutes and then I will have my babies.  My babies will be loved, and kissed, and snuggled.  If breastfeeding doesn’t work, I live in a wonderful time in history where I can go 2 minutes down the road and buy healthful food for them.

But psychologically…..I am a bit of a mess.

At church on Sunday, a friend saw me waddle up and said, “gah, I was trying to think of a pregnancy joke and I came up with nothing.”  My response was “good, because chances are I would have cried.”

That’s my life now.  Random tears.   They do not indicate grief, or sadness, or happiness.  They indicate myriad of hormones coursing through my body.   My littles think I am all the way to crazy.  (Will probably does too, but he is smart enough not to say anything.)

I have some cravings, fake cheese being the top of the list.   You know, cheese slices, cheese Whiz, that kind of healthy stuff.

Also smoking.   That one is a bit weird I tell you, since I have never been a smoker.

20170915_091322 edit

Don’t worry, while I imbibe on fake cheese once in a while, I haven’t with the smoking.


August Favourites

By Katie

Its the end of August.

{ insert comment about where has August gone?}

Was August good for you?  Bank would like to know.

But seriously, where has the summer gone?

Because I know you are dying to know, here are my favourites from August.

Because I am living the life of leisure and am camping right now, this will be a quick list of my favourites of August.


1.  I have started to feel the twins moving on a daily basis. It is an incredible feeling!   I have 2 anterior placentas so I wasn’t feeling the twins as soon as I felt Atticus and Vivien, but they are making up for it now.    I am concerned about how I will be feeling in 10 weeks with the 2 of them in there, but for now its a gentle, blessed reminder of their presence.


2.  We spent time with a lot of family this month. We went to Safari Niagara with the Will’s family earlier in the month, visited Kara, and had visits from Danielle’s family, and Nana and Papa.  Now we are camping with the whole VanGrootheest clan.  September is going to be lonely!


3. Our vegetable garden is giving us a lot of produce – more than we can handle! The kids love harvesting and eating the veggies on their way inside.  The chickens are getting their fair share as well – without permission.  I only have one pumpkin though.  I have not been a great pumpkin grower for some reason….


4.  Flowers.  ‘nough said.

I hope you had a wonderful August.  Get ready for September!



VGrootheest Fam Group 2016 Sep 17_87

This is us.

Vicki, Katie, Kara, Danielle.

Most of these pictures were taken by Rita Zietsma Photography . Even though they were taken less than 1 year ago some of them are already out of date – our family is definitely in “baby stage”! I guess we’ll have to book another session sooner than later.

VGrootheest Fam Danielle 2016 Sep 17_21

Hi! I’m Danielle. The oldest daughter – the leader of the clan. Well, at least in theory.

I am married to a wonderful man and we have been blessed with four children. Our days are filled with baseball, soccer, crafts, reading, and fort building.

After staying home with my kids for the past 8 years I am beginning a new chapter in my life – that of a working mom. When our three oldest return to school this September I will be right there with them – as a part time teacher in the grade one classroom.

I hope you enjoy reading about our life,  thoughts, and antics.

VGrootheest Fam Katie 2016 Sep 17_2

Hi.  My name is Katie.

I am the coffee of Three Teas and a Coffee.

I love coffee, reading, gardening, plants and my family.   Not necessarily in that order, though it depends on the day  😀

We are a family of 6, though 2 of us are still in-utero.   I believe my 2 unborn children are no less my children then my born children, which is why they already count.

My husband, will is a carpenter; which is good, because we tend to buy old, run-down houses that need a lot of work.   We are currently renovating our second home.  I am currently thinking why on earth anyone would do this once, let alone twice.  Just kidding.  I enjoy it.  Most of the time.

Atticus (3.5) is my first born. He is a ball of energy, loves the outside, loves books almost as much as his mama and loves to eat.  He loves the animals we have accumulated so far, and is constantly asking for more. Vivien (2) is my second born.  She is fiercely independent, until she isn’t.  She loves ferociously, which means the animals try to avoid her.  She is a nonstop ball of energy, until she’s not.  When she is tired, she lays down. As I said the twins are still in-utero.   I will let you know their personalities once they make them known.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you find this blog interesting.

VGrootheest Fam Vicki 2016 Sep 17_54 - Copy

Hi! I’m Vicki.

I’m married to my highschool sweetheart, Mark. He’s a stone mason, a member of our church’s worship team, an avid sports fan, a truly amazing father to our children, and my best friend (I’m the sappy sister!). We have three children – Peyton (4), Chase (3), and Dax (6 months). Our kids are each unique and special, and we thank God daily for blessing us with them.

Dax joined the family after our photoshoot. He has been the best fifth addition to our little family!

I enjoy being a mom, visiting with friends, having a clean and tidy house, playing games, eating good food, watching HGTV, decorating (and redecorating) the rooms in my little home, Summer days, camping, snuggles on the couch with any of my three kiddos (and maybe my husband), listening (and dancing) to worship music withe my kids, and learning more about my Jesus.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me and my sisters!

VGrootheest Fam Kara 2016 Sep 17_71

I’m Kara, the youngest of the four.

I am married to a farmer who plans to attend seminary and become a pastor. His name is Tsjibbe, pronounced ‘Chibba’, and we have a beautiful baby girl named Zoe.

Zoe joined the family after the photoshoot as well. She is such a joy to our little (and big) family.

I recently finished by Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology and a minor in Theatre Arts.  Although I hope to one day return to school to get my Masters, right now I am a happy SAHM.

I love to bake and cook. I also enjoy knitting, crocheting, and sewing, although each of these hobbies are often neglected for months at a time.

I love writing, and am looking forward to writing for this blog!


On Being Pregnant. With Twins.

by Katie

I am pregnant.  With twins.  (Insert all sorts of scared, tired, nervous, and excited emojis here.)



These are babies number 3 and 4. (Insert all sorts of scared, tired, nervous, and excited emojis here).

This is Beatrix.  Isn’t she a cutie!

As I sit here writing this post, I can feel their tiny kicks and punches, and my heart swells with love.  I am so blessed to be carrying two tiny children of God.  But my mind also swells with anxiety from all that can go wrong from here to their birth and from their birth forever onwards!  Motherhood is a contradiction of emotions!

Carrying twins means you have twice the pregnancy hormone going through you.  I was lucky and had half the morning sickness as with my previous 2 pregnancies.  But I have had more than double the exhaustion.  I have never been so tired in my life!  Maybe chasing a 2 year old and a 3 year old has something to do with it 🙂


So far we know that baby B is a girl.  Her name is Beatrix.   Her name means Blessing and she is named for author Beatrix Potter, who is known for Peter Rabbit, but has written a whole host of children’s stories featuring animals.  Baby A refused to let us know his/her sex so s/he remains nameless.

Because twin pregnancies are automatically considered high risk, being pregnant with twins is difficult for me.  High risk means there are more than double the OB appointments and more than 5 x the ultrasounds as a low risk pregnancy.

Nameless Baby A.  I am not showing the 3D ultrasound pic, because it looks like s/he has a hook nose.  I was told its a hand, but it looks funny.

The reason this is difficult for me is because I have a fear of the medical world.  Despite my birthing stories, I really and truely believe the more natural the better.  With my first pregnancy I dreamt of a home birth.  (Actually I dreamt of a hut in the woods that my carpenter husband would build, where I would labour with nature.  But he said “No.  On no uncertain terms, No.”)

Instead of my {literally} natural birth, I had an emergency c-section.  In an operating room.  Where the only nature was…nothing.  It was sterile and white and artificial and bright.   I had a really hard time coming to grips with my birth story.  I may write more about some time.

I was determined to have a VBAC with my second, even though I knew it would be in a hospital.  I tried everything to go into labour.  You name it, I tried it. I ended up with planned section because I wasn’t going into labour, and labour was not in sight at all, and my OB didn’t want me to go too far overdue.  It turned out to be a God-send, because my uterine scar was nearly non-existent.  (As in, after stitching me up, my OB said if I had had one contraction, I would have bled out.  Not the words I was hoping to hear, especially when followed by, “and she can never try to go into labour again.”)

They are so good at holding the ultrasound pictures for a shot

Back to twins.  So I have lots of appointments which cause me lots of anxiety.  I am dreading the next 4 months.   As in, it keeps me up and night and I have shed a not-small amount of tears over this.   Its weird, I know.  I sit in waiting rooms nearly hyperventilating.   I’m shaking when my name is called.   I burst into tears when the nurse says, “how are you today?”

Adulting – I have got this down. (Not even a little bit.)

If all goes well, I will have OB appointments and ultrasounds every 2 weeks until 30 weeks and then every week thereafter.    If I am counting correctly that’s more than 15 appointments!! AHH!  I am scaring myself!

And battling these emotions is the very real thankfulness that I live in a country that has such a wonderful healthcare system that costs me nothing (other than high taxes).

I am 21 weeks.  I have about 15 weeks left, and, if I calculated correctly, 15 appointments filled with dread/hate/fear/anxiety.

Pray for me and my first-world problem of too much medical care.