Monday, September 30, 2019

Willow's Baby Dedication

Yesterday morning, Josie and Kelton Balka brought Willow before their church, Clear Springs Baptist, to be dedicated to the Lord. Some of Josie and Kelton's family members came to celebrate the occasion. Willow is 10 weeks old.

Willow Balka
Willow Balka, 10 weeks old

Photo courtesy of Josie and Kelton Balka

Friday, September 27, 2019

Gil's Shoulder Surgery

Gil and Kelly Bates
Gil and Kelly Bates, summer 2019

Gil Bates is recovering from rotator cuff surgery, which he had yesterday. According to Kelly, when he preaches to teenagers, he initiates a push-up challenge and promises to do two, one-handed push-ups for every push-up they do. Well, during one of these challenges, he reached 84 one-handed push-ups, and his shoulder popped. The doctor informed him that in order to play basketball with his sons or even do tree work again, he would have to have surgery. We know that the Bates would appreciate prayer for Gil's recovery.

The Bates family has had their fair share of surgeries since the premiere of their show in January 2015--multiple wisdom tooth extractions, Kelly's eye surgery, Brooklyn's finger surgery, Meema's vertebra surgery, and Alyssa's two cardiac surgeries.

Photo courtesy of

Knoxville or Nashville?

Carlin Bates Bringing Up Bates
Carlin Bates (now Carlin Stewart)

"I don't mean to be selfish, but I just don't like my family moving to all ends of the earth. If I have to leave the county, you've gone too far."
-Zach Bates

Did you catch last night's episode? (Be sure to read our recap, posted last night.) While Carlin is in Nashville visiting Tori and trying on wedding dresses, she gives an update on the post-wedding plans that she and Evan are working out. They have pretty much nailed where they will live, and Tori and Lawson aren't excited about their decision (see web exclusive video below).

If you have been following the blog, you know the rest of the story. Carlin and Evan started fixing up their house, located in the Knoxville area, before the wedding. You can look forward to seeing footage on upcoming episodes of Bringing Up Bates.

Photo/video courtesy of UPtv

Thursday, September 26, 2019

'A Blushing Bride to Be' Recap

Bringing Up Bates "A Blushing Bride to Be"

  • Kelly, Carlin, Erin, and Everly arrive at Tori’s apartment near Nashville. Lawson is also there. Carlin has found a wedding dress online that she thinks could be the one, but she is nervous to try it on. “Carlin, really, since she was a little kid, I’ve got a picture of her dressed up in a wedding dress, just dreaming of being a princess, so this is really a big lifelong dream of the princess wedding,” says Gil.
  • “Being in Nashville, honestly I have not heard a ton of the wedding planning,” says Tori, who enjoys catching up on all the details.
  • Lawson and Tori explain everything that could go wrong with an outdoor wedding, which brings out Carlin’s emotional side. “I used to make fun of all the brides that got all emotional and, like, overthought, like, everything,” says Carlin. “But then again, when you have like a Lawson and Tori in your life, they’re going to make sure that you understand all the things that could possibly go wrong.” Tori admits that she feels a little bad.
  • Later, the group goes to Topgolf. Lawson is very confident that he is going to win. “Lawson, when it comes to golf, he’s very good at confidence, especially before a game,” says Nathan.
  • By the end of the first round, Erin’s score is higher than Lawson’s. “I thought it was so funny because I could care less if I win or not, but the fact that it bothered him…I thought it was hilarious,” says Erin.
  • Erin beats Lawson, 65 to 38. “I was so excited because he is so fun to tease,” she says. Evan is the overall winner.
  • The next day, Kelly meets Evan, who is concerned about travel scams, for coffee to help him plan the honeymoon. He is considering the Dominican Republic because one of his siblings went there. The trip won’t be a complete surprise. Evan plans to loop Carlin in when he comes up with a solid idea.
  • Of her honeymoon to Ireland, Erin says: “It was like all of our dreams in this one trip, and all of our money, too.”
  • Next stop, the dress shop! Carlin and some of the Bates and Stewart ladies meet at The Bride Room in Nashville. “Oh, I’m absolutely counting on this dress to be the one,” says Carlin. “If it’s not, I’m literally lost. I don’t even know where to start.”
  • “A wedding dress is probably the most crucial thing,” says Whitney. “You plan the entire wedding around that dress. You don’t plan your wedding and then get a dress. It’s got to be THE dress.”
  • When Carlin comes out in the dress that she saw online, everyone swoons. And then they realize that it is blush, not white. “Okay, somebody’s got to tell me, what is blush?” says Gil in an interview. “I thought that’s when people turn red.” Carlin admits that she loves everything about the gown, except the pinkish tint.
  • “When Evan sees this, he’s not going to see pink, all he’s going to see is you,” Denese Stewart, Evan’s mom, tells Carlin.
  • Everyone agrees that the dress looks amazing on the bride-to-be. “That looks like a vow renewal for me,” says Erin. “It’s like Carlin’s large personality,” says Kelly. She ends up choosing it!

'A Blushing Bride to Be' Airs Tonight

Tonight at 9pm ET/8pm CT, tune in to UPtv for an all-new, 30-minute episode of Bringing Up Bates, "A Blushing Bride to Be." Carlin goes wedding dress shopping in Nashville and is in for a big surprise when she finds out that the gown she has had her heart set on is blush instead of white. The Bates ladies also meet up with Lawson for an outing at Topgolf. Be sure to come back to our blog after the show for a recap. 

Erin Paine and Everly Paine

Lawson Bates and Kade Smith Bringing Up Bates
Lawson Bates and Kade Smith

Denese Stewart and Whitney Bates
Denese Stewart and Whitney Bates

Carlin Bates Carlin Stewart
Carlin Bates (now Carlin Stewart)
Carlin Bates
Carlin Bates
Bates and Stewart ladies
If you enjoy this blog, be sure to visit Ellie's other blogs ( and

Photos courtesy of UPtv

Monday, September 23, 2019

Wedding Dresses and Bates Competition

Carlin Bates Wedding dress shopping
Wedding dress shopping with the Bates and Stewart ladies

The next two new episodes of Bringing Up Bates will be centered around preparation for Carlin's wedding, with some additional scenes. This week, Carlin and Kelly and some of the girls spend time in Nashville looking for the perfect wedding dress. They also meet up with Lawson for a competitive outing at Topgolf (two preview videos below).

Next week, it's time to discuss the venue and the budget, as well as watch Carlin and her dad take ballroom dance lessons. Meanwhile, Gil, Zach, Nathan, and the kids build a dog house for the new Bates puppy. And the Keilens prepare for their move from Chicago to the Knoxville area by visiting a rental property.

Photo/videos courtesy of UPtv

Chaney's TV Debut

Chaney, Trace Bates, Kaci Lynn Bates
Chaney, Trace Bates, Kaci Lynn Bates
"...We certainly don't want to rush anything or put any pressure on any of our children. We just think it's really a neat thing that God lined our families up and that we were able to meet and form these friendships, and we're just really excited about that."
-Kelly Bates 

Missed Thursday's premiere episode? Chaney, who was then Trace's friend but is now his girlfriend, made her Bringing Up Bates debut (video clip below).

Photo/video courtesy of UPtv

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Vuolos Visit Websters

The Websters had visitors this week! Jinger Vuolo (formerly Jinger Duggar) and her little family traveled to Orlando so that Jeremy could preach at a university, and they spent time with the Websters.

Alyssa and Jinger are both No. 6 in their family lineup, and they are 11 months apart in age--Jinger turns 26 in December, while Alyssa turns 25 in November. Alyssa's third child is eight months older than Jinger's first and only child. Visit our Duggar blog for a photo of Jinger, Jeremy, and Felicity at Universal Studios.

Jinger Vuolo, Felicity Vuolo, Alyssa Webster, Zoey Webster
Jinger Vuolo, Felicity Vuolo, Alyssa Webster, Zoey Webster

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Webster

Whitney Turns 26

Erin Paine, Michaela Keilen, Tori Bates, Kelly Bates, Whitney Bates, Carlin Stewart, Josie Balka
Erin Paine, Michaela Keilen, Tori Smith, Kelly Bates, 
Whitney Bates, Carlin Stewart, Josie Balka

Today is Whitney's 26th birthday. The Bates family celebrated all the September birthdays on Thursday evening, and the ladies had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory yesterday to honor Whitney. Happy birthday, Whitney!

Photo courtesy of Zach and Whitney Bates

Friday, September 20, 2019

Lawson's New Single and Katie's New Friend

Katie Bates, summer 2019
The Bates always have something interesting happening with at least one family member. This week, Lawson released his new single and music video (see our post from earlier today), and Bringing Up Bates returned with new episodes. And according to Gil Bates, "Katie's got a new friend." This unofficial announcement from the Bates dad comes just days after Trace Bates officially announced his relationship with Chaney. Stay tuned for more!

Photo courtesy of Katie Bates

Lawson Releases "Like the Rain"

Lawson Bates just released a new love song and music video called "Like the Rain." He is working on a new album that will likely be available early next year.

The video was shot in Belt, Montana, and the residents of the tiny town were eager to help. The fire department even used their hoses to create fake rain. And because it's a love song, there has to be a girl. That role is played by a Bates friend, Madyson Mesinar.

Watch the video below, and be sure to share it with your friends and subscribe to Lawson's YouTube channel. "Like the Rain" is listed for purchase on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.

Video courtesy of; photo courtesy of UPtv

Thursday, September 19, 2019

'A Very Medieval I Love You Day' Recap

Bringing Up Bates "A Very Medieval I Love You Day"

  • The Bates women are setting up for the family Valentine’s Day (aka I Love You Day) celebration. Kelly has chosen chivalry as the theme. “Chivalry caries the idea of…treating a lady with class,” says Nathan.
  • “Valentine’s Day is just one of my favorite times of the year,” says Kelly. “I can count on all of the family coming back in.”
  • While Michael and Brandon are in town, they plan to tour a duplex that is 20-25 minutes from the rest of the family. “Me and Michaela have always been very close,” says Erin. “Growing up, we’re just a year apart, so we really did everything together.” The Bates are looking forward to having the Keilens in East Tennessee.
  • While the girls set up for the couples dinner, they discuss rumors they have heard about Trace and a possible female friend. “Trace is a quiet guy,” says Whitney. “You never really know much about him unless you just really ask him.”
  • Josie and Kelton have their ultrasound, but they don’t want to find out the gender until their gender reveal party. “There’s something about seeing your child moving and alive, it makes it so real,” says Kelton. “I’m a little bit at a loss for words.” Josie wants Kelton to guess, but he protests, saying he has nothing to go off of. Josie has decided that it is a boy.
  • As part of the Valentine’s Day festivities, Gil and some of the kids go skiing in North Carolina. Nathan is a skier, but his brothers try to convince him that boarding is cooler. Nathan challenges Lawson to a race, and Nathan the skier finishes first. “Skiing is very ,very fun,” says Ellie.
  • “You watch Trace and Warden and Jackson and all them, and they’re just flying down the slopes…no fear in mind, no thought of, ‘Oh, I’m going to fall off this cliff and die,’” says John. “All of a sudden, all my girls are counting on me. If I don’t come home, I’m like, maybe we’ll just go a little slower, we’ll hang out with Judson. Even he was passing me.”
  • Kelly and some of the older kids gather to cook a few different recipes. Zach makes one pot chicken with pre-diced meat. The girls give Kelly the easy job of opening packages of pre-breaded chicken and putting them in the oven. “I have to admit, I was a little bit skeptical when the kids suggested doing prepared food because I admit, I’ve never done that before,” says Kelly.
  • Carlin and Erin make artichoke dip on the stove, but when it starts clumping together, Zach has to step in and save the day. “My family is picky,” says Zach. “We eat two kinds of meat, beef or chicken. This was a chicken night because we want to go light. Nobody wants to be fat for the day tomorrow.”
  • All the couples start to arrive, including some of Gil’s extended family. “Is Trace going to bring a girl?” wonders Zach. “Is Lawson going to bring a girl? Is Nathan going to dress up like a girl? You just never know.”
  • The food is delicious. Michael and Brandon are the last to arrive when they come in from Chicago. “We feel like all the little chickens have come home to roost,” laughs Gil.
  • None of the guys show up with dates. “I’m going to surprise them next year and invite somebody for them,” jokes Kelly.
  • The next day, all the Bates gather for the costume party. “Everybody’s version of chivalry, the time period that they chose for it, is very different,” says Lawson. There are a lot of great costumes from a lot of different eras.
  • “I personally picked a Robin Hood costume, and it did not fit, so I decided not to wear that,” says Zach.
  • “Trace up and did what all of us thought he wouldn’t do,” says Carlin. “He showed up with this female girl, and she’s gorgeous.” Trace and Chaney arrive at the party, out of costume. They met on a family ski trip in Colorado and have kept in touch via phone. The couple is still just getting to know each other. “I know they’re friends, and that’s where it is right now, so you little matchmaker, you’re just going to have to hold your horses,” Gil tells Kelly.
  • Kelly chooses Taryn Yager (the Bates’ photographer friend) and Chaney as judges. “That is not a good thing to do because if you don’t pick the right people, some people get upset, and so you could make a couple friends or a lot of enemies,” says Trace.
  • “I have tried every year to win, and I’ve never won anything,” says Michael, wearing a poofy princess dress that she made by hand. “The competition is so steep.”
  • Some of the couples have stories that go along with their costumes. Chad introduces Erin as Princess Bootyfull. The judges pick Mama Jane and Papa Bill as #3, Zach and Whitney as #2, and the Keilens as #1.
  • “I’ve never won first place for anything!” exclaims Michael. “I was so happy!” “She couldn’t stop telling me, ‘We won, we won, we actually won,’” says Brandon.
  • The party games are jousting, putting a cookie on your face and trying to get it into your mouth without using your hands, and using a bow and arrow to shoot apples off someone’s head.
  • Later that weekend, Josie and Kelton host a gender reveal party at their apartment complex. “I made a statement without saying anything,” says Jackson, wearing a bright pink suit coat.
  • Josie holds a black balloon, and Kelton pokes it with a knife to release pink confetti! It’s a girl! “I’m like, totally expecting to see blue come out of his balloon, and he popped it, and it’s like pink everywhere,” says the mom-to-be. ”And it honestly took me a second for it to register. I was over-the-moon excited because I wanted a girl so bad.”
  • “I’m so glad I voted it was a girl,” says Erin. “I voted it was a girl for all my kids, too, so I got extra candy bars.” “You stinker,” says Chad, chuckling.
  • After the reveal, everyone receives a bag containing the letters of the name and has a minute to guess what it is.
  • “The name Willow means graceful, and Josie absolutely loved that name and wanted to name her daughter that so bad,” explains Kelton. “And then Kristy is of course after my mother.”
  • Tears are shed by Kelton’s dad and extended family when they hear the middle name, in honor of Kelton’s late mother. “Kelton lost his mother as a child... but to see the Balka family over there, rejoicing and hugging, that this baby is going to carry the namesake of [Kelton’s] mom, and it’s their first grandbaby, no doubt I know God‘s got big plans for this special little girl,” says Kelly.
  • Carlin’s wedding is just 100 days away, and she is feeling the planning pressure. “I’m very thankful that I allowed myself plenty of room in this engagement,” says the bride-to-be. “Thank you, Evan, for that. I need it, doing school, and then working and then trying to plan a wedding.”
  • Unlike most of the other Bates, who have had church weddings, Carlin will get married at a wedding venue. “I could pick any old church, and that would be great, but that’s just not the style or setting. I want it, like, elegant and quaint.”