Saturday, June 30, 2018

Jackson the Safe Bates Driver

"Jackson is one of my favorite drivers, I think, because he is so cautions. And even though he's a young driver, I would rank him as one of our best drivers..." 
-Kelly Bates

Did you watch Thursday's episode? In the web exclusive below, Gil Bates takes Jackson Bates out for a driving lesson, and they discuss the quality of Jackson's driving skills compared to some of the other Bates. His parents are very confident in his abilities.

If you enjoy this blog, be sure to visit Ellie's other blogs ( and

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Bates Fan File 724

My Bringing Up Bates Fan File segment for this week's episode is up. Here it is:

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Thursday, June 28, 2018

'Hit the Road Jack' Recap

Bringing Up Bates "Hit the Road Jack"

  • Jackson just turned 16, so he and Gil head over to the DMV for the big driving test. “I’ll stand out here and pray for you, both of you,” Gil jokingly tells Jackson and the instructor as they leave the building.
  • “Finding a car at the Bates house where everything works can be a challenge, admits Nathan. Thankfully, Jackson has a vehicle with working lights and brakes.
  • The siblings describe Jackson as a cautious driver, but despite his nervousness, he passes the test.
  • Jackson drives over to Zach and Whitney’s newly renovated house to discuss future plans. The two have always been close, and they have many of the same hobbies, including reading. “Man, I can’t tell you how proud I am of you,” Zach tell Jackson. “I want you to know, I’m always here for you.”
  • At the Paine house, Erin and Chad are working on decorating the nursery. They know their hands will be full with three kids, but they are thrilled.
  • “I’m nervous, I’m not going to lie,” admits Chad. “I’m worried about Erin, and I’m just worried about the baby. A lot of different thoughts cross your mind.”
  • Erin and Chad cut out pictures of the kids, attach them to string, and hang them on a large, open-back frame. 
  • “Chad is more of the functional guy, but my main thing is, the room’s gotta look good,” says Erin. “It can’t look like we just crammed three kids in here.”
  • At the last minute, Erin decides she wants the frame painted pink. “You’re awesome,” Erin tells Chad. “I work you too hard.” “No, you don’t,” replies Chad, smiling. “This is fun.”
  • Meanwhile, Nathan takes Trace to the airport for a flight lesson so Trace can see if being a pilot is something he wants to pursue.
  • “There’s guys that want to be pilots for a career, and that’s great,” says Nathan. “For me, I fly airplanes so it can reach people with the Gospel and save people’s lives. So I want to see Trace reaching people with the Gospel and saving people’s lives.”
  • Trace agrees but says he “might just do it from the ground.” Just like Jackson during his driving test, Trace is extremely nervous, but Nathan is impressed at how well he does.

New Webster Family Photo

Did you know that Alyssa Webster's father-in-law is Florida Congressman Daniel Webster? Alyssa and John actually met while working on the congressman's campaign six years ago.

Alyssa and John and their three daughters recently joined the Webster clan for a trip to Daniel's office in Washington D.C.

John Webster, Zoey Webster, Alyssa Webster, Lexi Webster, Allie Webster
with Congressman Daniel Webster (John's father)

Photo courtesy of Alyssa and John Webster

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

3 Babies Under Age 3

"Can you imagine having three of 'em? I thought my hands were full with just one."
-Chad Paine

It's almost time to welcome Everly Paine, so Erin and Chad need to rearrange the nursery to fit a third baby. Check out this sneak peek scene from tomorrow's new episode.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jackson's Driver's Test

This Thursday on Bringing Up Bates, watch 16-year-old Jackson Bates, No. 12 in the Bates family lineup, take his driver's test (preview below). At this point, Gil and Kelly Bates must be on a first name basis with the DMV!

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Monday, June 25, 2018

Bates Relationship Timelines

Josie Bates and Kelton Balka engagement

\In honor of Josie and Kelton's engagement, we wrote out some information about each Bates couple's courtship and engagement timeline. What similarities and differences do you see?

Zach and Whitney Bates
Met in 2012 at Whitney's then-place of employment (Sonic)
Began courting: July 1, 2013
Michael Bates and Brandon Keilen engagementEngaged: September 12, 2013
Married: December 14, 2013

Michael and Brandon Keilen
Met in spring 2009 at a ministry in Chicago where Brandon was serving
Began courting: December 30, 2013
Engaged: April 13, 2015
Married: August 15, 2015

Erin and Chad Paine
Met at a Valentine's banquet in 2011
Began courting: December 4, 2012
Engaged: August 5, 2013
Married: November 2, 2013

Alyssa and John Webster
Met in 2012, while Alyssa was helping John's father, Congressman Daniel Webster, with his campaign
Began courting: November 6, 2013
Engaged: January 16, 2014
Married: May 24, 2014
Tori Bates and Bobby Smith engagement

Tori and Bobby Smith
Met through mutual friend Kelton Balka during fall break October 2015 in Pensacola, Florida
Began courting: October 2016
Engaged: September 2017
Married: December 16, 2017

Carlin Bates and Evan Stewart
Met at a women's conference at Evan's church around September 2016
Began courting: August 2017
Engaged: Soon

Josie Bates and Kelton Balka
Long-time friends who announced an official courtship in January 2018
Had been talking for three years but had put the breaks on the relationship early on due to Josie's age
Engaged: June 2018

Photos courtesy of UP

'Bringing Up Bates' Fan File 723

My Bringing Up Bates Fan File for Thursday's episode, "Seas the Day," is up! If you missed the show, be sure to check out my written recap, as well.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Josie and Kelton's Utah Engagement Photos

On Friday, we announced Josie and Kelton's engagement. Kelton popped the question at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. Following the proposal, the couple had engagement photos taken by Emily Klarer of Emily Klarer Photography. Below are a few snapshots. Aren't they just gorgeous?

Josie Bates and Kelton Balka engagement
Josie Bates and Kelton Balka engagement photos

Josie Bates and Kelton Balka engagement Utah

Josie Bates and Kelton Balka engagement

Photos are courtesy of Emily Klarer Photography; used with permission

Friday, June 22, 2018

Josie and Kelton Engagement Photos

Josie Bates and Kelton Balka engagement photos

Have you heard the news? Josie and Kelton are engaged! There are more photos on the UP website, but here are a couple previews, as well as a video montage.

To pull off the perfect engagement, Kelton planned a scavenger hunt, which began when he surprised Josie at work in Knoxville and ended with a proposal in Utah's picturesque Arches National Park. InTouch has the exclusive story.

Photos/video courtesy of UP

Bates Engagement Announcement

The big announcement has been made! Josie Bates and Kelton Balka are engaged!

Photo courtesy of Josie Bates/

Another Big Bates Announcement

Yesterday afternoon, Tori and Bobby Smith revealed the gender of their first child, due in November. It's a boy, and they have already chosen a name. (Check the post for more details and a video.)

And if that's not enough excitement for you, the Bates have yet another announcement to share. Someone is engaged! Who do you think it will be? Carlin Bates and Evan Stewart have been courting since August, while Josie Bates and Kelton Balka started their courtship at the beginning of this year.

The news will be broadcast during the series premiere of "Our Wedding Story," which airs tonight at 9pm ET/8pm CT on UP. For those who are unable to tune in, we will share the news on our blog.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

'Seas the Day' Recap

Bringing Up Bates "Seas the Day"

  • Gil and Kelly have nine children who are still in homeschool. The oldest, Katie, is finishing up her senior year, while Jeb is in first grade. “Carlin has become such a help,” says Kelly. “And she really makes school fun.”
  • “This is so fun,” Judson remarks during a school session with Carlin.
  • Gil and Kelly and some of the kids pile in the van and head down to Myrtle Beach to meet Mama Jane’s sisters. They rent a home with an in-ground pool.
  • After they arrive, their first activity is riding their bikes to Mama Jane’s beach house. The Bates aren’t wearing helmets, but UP flashes a message across the screen to remind viewers to wear theirs.
  • Gil loves introducing his aunts and uncles to his children, many of whom have never met them. “[Dad] was literally beaming,” says Erin. 
  • The group enjoys a meal at Dockside Seafood House, which is a new experience for the Bates kids. “The Bates do not like seafood,” admits Erin. “Can’t stand the smell of it, don’t like it,” adds Zach. 
  • “I eat seafood,” jokes Judson. “I see the food on my plate and I eat it.”
  • At the restaurant, the kids take turns trying shrimp and oysters. They aren’t huge fans.
  • It’s mid-February and a bit chilly outside, but that doesn’t stop the Bates from watching the sunset on the beach. Carlin insists that she and Evan take photos. “We finally got [Evan] out of there,” says Warden.
  • While the guys play football, Carlin has a chat with Papa Bill. She is earning her bachelor’s degree in general education and is also taking music classes to help her with teaching. Carlin lets Papa Bill in on a secret that Gil doesn’t yet know: She will be moving to Nashville when she marries Evan.
  • On another day, the family goes walking with Gil’s extended family. “As long as I can remember, my aunts have been walking machines,” says Gil. “Even though my aunts are like in their 80s now, they can probably still out-walk our kids.”
  • Later, Gil and some of his children go fishing on Cherry Grove Fishing Pier, a world-famous pier that is known for being the place where a record-breaking shark was caught. Gil remembers spending time there as a child. “In the end, the weather was winning, and so we decided to call it a day and come home with no fish,” says Lawson.
  • It happens to be Jackson and Addallee’s birthday, so the entire family gathers to celebrate. “The cake is fun, the presents are fun…but…the most special part for me is hearing the other kids say something praiseworthy about their sibling,” says Gil.
  • The Bates dad shares the story of how Addee stopped breathing as a newborn and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. “I can remember that day because Jackson had convinced himself that you were his birthday present,” Kelly tells Addee. “And when the ambulance went pulling out, we were crying because of fear. He was crying because he said, ‘They’re stealing my present.’”

Baby Smith's Gender Reveal

Tori Bates Smith and Bobby Smith
Bobby Smith and Tori (Bates) Smith

It's time to find out whether Tori and Bobby will be busting out the pink or blue when their first child arrives in November. They recently announced the news to family and close friends, and now they're ready to share it with viewers in the video below. They have also chosen a name!

Gil and Kelly Bates currently have two grandsons and six granddaughters, so a boy would certainly help balance the numbers out. Let's see what the Smiths have to say. If you are unable to watch the clip from UP, scroll down past the video, and you can read the announcement.

It's a boy! Tori and Bobby have chosen the name Robert Ellis Smith IV. (Bobby's given name is Robert Ellis Smith III.) The couple told Entertainment Tonight that their son's nickname will be Kade.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Kaci's Birthday

In case you missed it, yesterday was Kaci Bates' second birthday. Whitney loves taking photos of her babies, and she snapped some great ones. Kaci sure was thrilled about her special day!

Kaci Lynn Bates, 2 years old
Kaci Lynn Bates, 2 years old

Bradley Bates and Kaci Bates
(enjoying the cake that Whitney and Bradley made for "Sissy")

Photos courtesy of Zach and Whitney Bates

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Bates 'Seas' the Day

Carlin Bates and Michael Keilen
Carlin Bates and Michael Keilen

On tomorrow's new episode of Bringing Up Bates, the Bates kids meet Gil's aunts and are shocked at how agile they are, even in their 80s. Below, you'll find a written summary and photos from the show.

Thursday, June 21 
7am: Bates Bonus IV
Enjoy extra scenes from last week's episode. 
8pm: Eye Love You Day
9pm: Seas the Day NEW!
Now that many of the older Bates girls have moved out of the house, it’s Carlin’s turn to take on new household responsibilities, including tutoring her younger siblings. But how will the Bates kids respond to Carlin’s new rules? Later, the Bates head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, so the kids can meet Mama Jane’s side of the family for the first time. The adventure begins with lunch at a seafood restaurant, but can the kids be convinced to try seafood for the very first time? And despite the cold weather, the family enjoys some bonding time on the beach, including a morning exercise stroll with Mama Jane and her sisters and some football on the sand. But during the game, will Carlin lure Evan away from the guys to pose for some “engagement worthy” photos?
10pm: SUN Day, Fun Day

Kelly Bates and Addallee Bates
Kelly Bates and Addallee Bates

Carlin Bates and Evan Stewart
Carlin Bates and Evan Stewart

Carlin Bates and Evan Stewart
 Carlin and Evan

Carlin Bates tutors Callie Bates and Addee Bates
Carlin Bates tutors Callie Bates and Addee Bates

Photos courtesy of UP 

Kaci Turns 2

Wishing Kaci Lynn Bates a very happy 2nd birthday!

Whitney Bates and Kaci Bates
Whitney Bates and Kaci Bates, May 2018

Kaci Bates and Bradley Bates
Kaci Bates and Bradley Bates, 2017

Bradley Bates, Zach Bates, Kaci Bates
Bradley Bates, Zach Bates, Kaci Bates, 2016

Photos courtesy of Zach and Whitney Bates

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Carlin on Getting Married Sooner

Carlin Bates

Now that Carlin Bates is taking classes online rather than on campus, she is able to help her mom tutor the younger Bates kids. This is a huge help to Kelly, but Carlin admits that she had another reason for making the decision.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Monday, June 18, 2018

Everly at 11 Weeks

On Sunday, we shared a couple new photos of Zoey Webster, so we thought we would follow up with an updated picture of Everly Paine. She's almost 12 weeks old. Aren't those chubby cheeks just adorable?

Everly Paine
Everly Paine

Photo courtesy of

Bates Whisper Challenge

Bobby Smith, Tori (Bates) Smith, Kelly Bates, Gil Bates
Bobby Smith, Tori (Bates) Smith, Kelly Bates, Gil Bates

Can you read lips? Gil Bates can, and this skill comes in handy during the Whisper Challenge that he, Kelly, Tori, and Bobby compete in (video below).

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Big Bates Weekend

Happy Father's Day to Gil, Zach, John, Chad, Bobby, and all the dads out there!

The Bates have had a fun-filled, family weekend. Gil and Kelly Bates' kids came back to the homestead from Nashville, Chicago, and Florida for Zach and Whitney Bates' vow renewal at Hunter Valley Farm in Knoxville. Some of the family also spent time in Pigeon Forge's Dollywood on Saturday. Below are a few snapshots from the weekend.

Bradley Bates and Allie Webster
Bradley Bates and Allie Webster

Alyssa Webster, Zoey Webster, Allie Webster
Alyssa Webster, Zoey Webster, Allie Webster

Brooklyn Paine
Brooklyn Paine

Brandon Keilen and Zoey Webster
Brandon Keilen and Zoey Webster

Allie Webster, Michael Keilen, Zoey Webster
 Allie Webster, Michael Keilen, Zoey Webster

If you enjoy this blog, be sure to visit Ellie's other blogs ( and

Photos courtesy of,

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Bates Fan File 722

My Fan File segment for Thursday's episode is ready for viewing! It is embedded below.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Big Bates Announcement

In a family with 19 children, big announcements are not all that uncommon, but they are always exciting. Late next week, the clan is going to reveal some Bates-sized news, so stay tuned!

Photo courtesy of UP

Friday, June 15, 2018

Lexi's Cake Smash

Lexi Webster cake smash

"When I'm looking at little Lexi in that highchair, I'm seeing Alyssa because Lexi is her lookalike." 
-Kelly Bates

While the Bates clan was gathered in Rocky Top to celebrate Valentine's Day, they also threw a party for Lexi Webster, who turned one on January 26th. For the Bates family, no first birthday shindig is complete without a cake smash. In the web exclusive video below, Lexi Mae engages in this very important task.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Bates Vow Renewal

Yesterday marked Zack and Whitney Bates’ four-and-a-half-year anniversary. In honor of that milestone, as well as their upcoming five-year anniversary, the couple renewed their wedding vows during a ceremony attended by loved ones.

The celebration was complete with a beautiful high-neck halter wedding gown for Whitney, bridesmaids in pink dresses, groomsmen in tan suits, a cake, a picturesque venue, and delicious food. You’ll see everything on an upcoming episode of Bringing Up Bates.

Zach and Whitney Bates
Zach and Whitney Bates

Photo courtesy of Zach and Whitney Bates

Thursday, June 14, 2018

'Eye Love You Day' Recap

Bringing Up Bates "Eye Love You Day"

  • Kelly is in bed recovering from vision correction surgery, so Carlin is in charge of homeschooling, and she runs a tight ship. She wakes the kids up earlier than usual, and the ones who won’t get out of bed get water sprinkled on their faces. “Half the time I’m not awake until she dumps the water on me,” admits Jackson.
  • Gil loves pampering his wife, saying that he finally has her all to himself. Michael comes down from Chicago to cook and help with the children.
  • One week after her surgery, Kelly is back in the swing of things. It’s time to start planning for I Love You Day (Bates Valentine’s Day). The theme is Growing Old Together, and the Bates mom is awarding a monetary prize to those with the best costumes. The goal of the theme is to honor Gil’s parent’s (Papa Bill and Mama Jane) and Kelly’s mom and new stepfather (Meema and Tom), as well as to express a hope that Gil and Kelly have for their married children. “That was all in fun, but at the same time, my prayer is [that] they will be able to grow old together,” says Kelly.
  • Kelly and some of the kids go to Karm Thrift Store to find outfits for the party. “It was neat to see how everybody kind of envisioned what an older person dresses like,” says Erin.
  • While searching for a costume, Kelly ends up finding something that she wants to wear on a regular day. Her kids poke fun at her, but she doesn't mind. “I am older,” says Kelly, laughing. “I’m not going to apologize.”
  • “This is our biggest family holiday,” says Erin. The Websters arrive, and the older girls help the little kids make gifts, like bath scrub and body wash, to give to family members (in addition to the big gift exchange). While they work, Erin and Alyssa discuss their pregnancies. Erin says she “feels so successful” to be in her third trimester, while Alyssa says she is “so done.”
  • The topic turns to Carlin’s relationship and possible engagement. She and Evan have been talking about timing. “As an older sister, it’s just really sweet to watch your younger sister go through a relationship,” says Erin.
  • “Don’t talk about getting married,” cautions Gil. “We done got enough people married.” “Dad, you shouldn’t have had so many girls!” replies Alyssa.
  • “I tell you, I can’t give away the boys, but everybody wants to get the girls,” says Gil.
  • The night before the big celebration, the Websters and Paines decorate a big table at a local lakeside restaurant before the couples (both married and courting, including the grandparents), arrive. “This is not just any old date at the fast food,” says Kelly. “This is special.”
  • “They’re excluding us from a lot of good fun and food,” says Lawson. “So this must change.” He arrives at the dinner in a suit, and Kelly tells him he is only welcome if he has “got a girl.”
  • “Well I actually did bring somebody special here that I wanted to introduce you all too,” says Lawson. “You did what?!” exclaims Gil.
  • Out comes Nathan, wearing a nightgown, curlers, and a gray wig. The room erupts in laughter. “Those two boys, it’s amazing what they’ll do to come to a good dinner,” says Gil, chuckling. “If he was dating somebody, this mama would know it,” states Kelly.
  • During dinner, everyone shares their first impression of their significant other. Kelly was attracted to Gil’s athleticism and his “strut.” “Let’s just say he strutted his feathers, and this bird came running,” says Kelly.
  • “I remember thinking, the guy that gets to marry [Michael] is going to be a very blessed guy, and I didn’t think I had a chance, but I’m the blessed guy,” shares Brandon.
  • The next day, everyone arrives at the big house for the main celebration. Erin, Chad, Carlin, and Evan go all out. For contrast, the grandparents come dressed like young people.
  • The winners of the costume contest are Evan (best adult male costume), Carlin (best adult female costume), Erin and Chad (best dressed couple), and Judson (best child costume).
  • After a few games, it’s time for the gift exchange. “Honestly, the best thing about I Love You Day…is watching the other people open the gifts that you got them,” says Tori.
  • Jackson’s gift for Katie is a pizza (delivered during the gift exchange), Ramen noodles, and a pair of shoes. Katie is thrilled, although she is only able to eat one piece of pizza before her siblings devour the rest.

Does Lawson Have a Girlfriend?

"Nice suit, but you're not crashing our party...not unless you've got a girl."
-Kelly Bates

On tonight‘s new episode of Bringing Up Bates, the Bates celebrate one of their favorite holidays, Valentine’s Day. This year's theme is Growing Old Together, and the costumes are absolutely hilarious.

The night before the big celebration, the couples gather for a special dinner. No one is expecting Lawson to show up, but he does, and he tells the family that he has a special someone to introduce to them.

Does another one of the brothers finally have a girlfriend? What are your predictions? Check out the videos below, and then tune in to UP tonight at 9pm ET/8pm CT for “Eye Love You Day.” If you miss the show or are on able to watch, our written recap will be posted immediately after it airs, and Ellie’s Fan File segment will follow.

Photo/videos courtesy of UP

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

An Evening with Lawson Bates Part 1

Dinner with Lawson Bates

A couple nights ago, my husband and I (Ellie) had Lawson Bates over for dinner. After our meal (meatloaf) and some conversation, the two guys pulled out their instruments and had a jam session.

Most of you know that Lawson is a musician who has written a number of original country songs and released multiple CDs and singles. My husband, also a musician, plays banjo and guitar, as well as fiddle and piano. He and Lawson had a great time jamming together. The first song they played was an acoustic version of Lawson's "What Country Means to Me." Hope you enjoy the video!

If you enjoy this blog, be sure to visit Ellie's other blogs ( and

Dinner with Lawson

Special announcement from blog author Ellie: A couple nights ago, my husband and I had Lawson Bates over for dinner. My husband plays guitar and banjo, so he and Lawson did some jamming, and we filmed a couple songs on my smart phone. Nothing fancy, but we had a lot of fun. I'll have the first video up soon, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Season 7 Full Episodes

Evan Stewart and Carlin Bates courtship

Is your week off to a good start? In case it isn't, we have something to share that will hopefully improve your mood. The first three episodes of Bringing Up Bates season seven have been UPloaded to the UP website (no pun intended). Isn't that great news? The links are below.

701: The 4 Cs: Carat, Clarity, Carlin and Courtship 1/4/18

702: Decorating Dilemmas and Job Decisions 1/11/18

703: Bobby's Happy Camper 1/18/18

Photos courtesy of UP

Monday, June 11, 2018

Engagement Plans?

Alyssa Bates Webster

"Carlin, I hear you all are discussing wedding plans. Does that mean you're getting engaged?"
-Alyssa (Bates) Webster

This Thursday on another all-new episode of Bringing Up Bates, the Bates family gathers together to celebrate I Love You Day (aka Valentine's Day). Ahead of the celebration, the topic of engagement comes up during a conversation between Carlin Bates and Alyssa Webster (video below).

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Smiths' New Home

Tori Bates and Bobby Smith apartment

Bobby Smith: "Before we got married, I was really trying to do everything I could to start making it kind of like a home for us."

Tori (Bates) Smith: "It was definitely a bachelor's apartment."

The Bates' work has paid off! While Tori and Bobby are on their honeymoon, Gil, Kelly, Erin, and some of the other Bates girls sneak into their apartment to decorate. When the newlyweds return, they are stunned. Watch their reactions in the video below.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Friday, June 8, 2018

Fan File: Episode 721

Did you catch last night's new episode? To hear a little more about "A Heavenly Honeymoon & A Courtship Countdown," check out my Bates Fan File segment below. For those who haven't heard, this season, I have been partnering with UP to provide Bates fans with a discussion of each new episode.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Thursday, June 7, 2018

'A Heavenly Honeymoon & A Courtship Countdown' Recap

Bringing Up Bates "A Heavenly Honeymoon & A Courtship Countdown"
  • The wedding is over, and Tori and Bobby are off on their honeymoon. They fly into San Francisco and immediately grab a car and head to the Pacific Coast Highway. They stop at the Natural Bridges State Beach to eat sandwiches. “The first few days of our honeymoon, it really felt like we had snuck off somewhere and we were about to get caught at any second,” admits Bobby.
  • Back home, Carlin and Josie discuss how odd it is to be the oldest sisters in the house.
  • Tori and Bobby go on a private boat ride in Monterey Bay, and they sail past a large group of sea lions. After the excursion, the newlyweds have a FaceTime chat with Gil and Kelly, who are a bit down in the dumps now that Tori has left the house.
  • To celebrate Tori’s birthday the following day, the Smiths check out beautiful Yosemite Valley. Bobby arranges for them to take a sleigh ride through a pine forest, complete with hot apple cider. “Going from courting and being engaged…always being careful that you’re not too close…to all of the sudden, in a split second you’re married and you can do whatever in the world you want, it’s just a really big difference that happens in a second,” says Tori. Bobby brings the birthday to a close with Tori’s favorite meal--steak--cooked together at the couple's mountain condo.
  • Meanwhile, Kelton meets his dad, Michael Balka, for lunch to discuss the courtship proposal. The plan is to spend the day in Gatlinburg.
  • When Kelton was 13, his mother passed away while giving birth to his youngest sister, Kerstin. (Kelton is the oldest of five.) “That was a really, really difficult time for our family, the hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” says Kelton. “My father has literally dedicated his life to pouring into me and his other four kids, and that’s part of the reason that me and him have such a close-knit relationship where we talk about everything. My father has built his whole life around carrying out my mother’s wishes in raising us.”
  • To prepare for the big day, Kelton gets permission from the city to string lights on Emerets Cove Covered Bridge in Sevierville. His father and brother Carson help him.
  • Next, it’s time for Kelton to surprise Josie. He shows up at the house with roses a few days before Josie was expecting everything to go down. “I was super nervous walking up,” says Kelton. “I have never done a courtship before.”
  • Josie, Kelton, Gil, Kelly, and Michael head down to Gatlinburg. They take an aerial tram up a mountain to the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area.
  • They go ice skating, and Kelton jokingly gets down on one knee. “I told him we should skip courtship and propose,” says Josie. “If it had been in my pocket, it would have happened, but I didn’t have it,” explains Kelton. “But it’s okay because it’s coming,” replies Josie. “It’s coming soon.”
  • After ice skating, they drive over to the covered bridge. Josie and Kelton get out and walk under the bridge, while the parents watch from the car.
  • Kelton shares some heart-felt words with Josie: “You know that I have had very strong feelings about you for a long time, and today one of the things that I love most about you is that you absolutely are my best friend. I love your sweet spirit and your tenderness for other people. I love your diligence and even your determination to succeed, that those who don’t know you well might not even see. I really love your green eyes though, and I love this little beauty mark that you try to tell me that you hate because it’s beautiful. But above all, I love your heart. I want to make a commitment to you tonight to pursue your heart, and I brought you a gift tonight to help remind you of my commitment to pursue your heart. I love you, Josie Bates. Can I have your heart?”
  • Kelton pulls out a diamond heart necklace, and the two of them enjoy a romantic hug.
  • The parents are elated. “Twenty-five years ago, two days ago, my wife and I got married, and then we came to Gatlinburg for our honeymoon,” says Kelton’s dad. “It was just amazing that it all just kind of lined up like that, and it made it seem somewhat surreal.”
  • “My father and mother were truly, deeply in love,” says Kelton. “My father has told me my whole life that his prayer and his dream for me would be for me to find someone that meant as much to me as my mother meant to him, and I don’t know how anyone could mean more to me than Josie does.”

Kelton's Late Mother

Kelton Balka

"When I was thirteen, my mother actually passed away giving birth to my youngest sister, Kerstin. That was a really, really difficult time for our family, the hardest thing I've ever been through."
-Kelton Balka

This evening on Bringing Up Bates, watch as Kelton Balka carries out his courtship proposal plan. The big day has an added layer of sentimentality because it involves doing something that brings back memories of his parents' marriage and his late mother. Watch the video below, and be sure to come back to the blog after the episode for my written recap and Fan File clip.

Photo/video courtesy of UP

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Honeymoon/Courtship Photos

Are you looking forward to tomorrow's new episode? You're going to love it! Below are a few snapshots from the show, both of Kelton and Josie's courtship proposal and Tori and Bobby's honeymoon.

Photos courtesy of UP