Friday, August 30, 2013

Two Steps Back...

I'm a whirlwind of emotions. Is "whirlwind" the right word? I feel like I'm bipolar or schizophrenic, or whatever condition has random emotional swings.
I'm okay in this moment...and I'll never feel okay again.
I play and laugh...and I feel like my insides will never stop crying.
I stop crying. I calm down...and I remember why I was crying in the first place.
I am so thankful for my two beautiful girls...and I'm dying for the baby girl who will never be here.
My husband is a rock, but I know he's completely broken, too.
I'm tired of crying. I'm physically tired from crying. My head hurts. My throat hurts.
But the reason for crying doesn't go away. I left my baby at the hospital. And in a few days, her ashes will come home.
It's only been a week. How is that possible? It's only been a week.
Is this too depressing to say out loud? Saying it out loud makes me feel less crazy. I feel broken. 
I know that's absolutely normal. I listen to Steve. I believe him when he tells me that it's okay that we're not okay. That, even in five years, if we have a night like tonight, it will still be okay. But a night like tonight makes it hard for me to remember the Bible verses.
I just keep saying Deuteronomy 33:27 to myself. Over and over and over.
"...and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Lord, may it be true.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy Pauses!

We've tried throughout this entire process to keep life as normal as possible for the girls. Play time with friends, gymnastics class for Bella, normal schedules, all of that. When my parents were here, we got to walk around the Square and take the girls to lunch at Taqueria Tsunami.
Bella loves the fountain at the Square and playing on the train with the rest of the kids.

Enjoying a blue raspberry Italian ice for dessert with an old-school Coke! She was in heaven! 

Daddy and Evelyn near the fountain

Mimi and Bella throwing pennies and making wishes!

Dad and I taking a break on the benches.

Rachel seemed to enjoy the girls more this time. Sometimes, they can freak her out with the noise level, but Evelyn was fascinated by Rachel, and Rachel seemed to enjoy the attention!

Playing in the water!

"Look, Mama, I'm all wet!"

She is so close, but still not brave enough to take steps on her own! At 16 months old, I just keep telling myself she'll do it eventually. (And to be honest, I'm hoping "eventually" means tomorrow!)

Looking up at Daddy! Her chubby little self has been a lifesaver for Steve and I! I've been so thankful that she is still in her baby stage for a little longer, so that we can snuggle and hold her.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Healing And Pain

We lie in bed at night and I know if Steve had his way, he'd be asking me if I was okay every other moment. He holds back, because he thinks he'll drive me crazy, so I try to tell him anyway. We eventually fall asleep, holding hands and waiting to feel normal again.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those whose spirit is crushed."
Psalms 34:18
I feel exactly what the verse says: brokenhearted and crushed. I smile, I laugh, I go grocery shopping, but underneath everything, I'm sad and I feel heavy. Steve goes to work, he eats lunch with his co-workers, but I know he feels lonely at his desk and really just wants to be home. I know there are times when he walks around stunned that life has gone back to normal so quickly.
I have sweet memories, like telling Bella about the baby and how she was going to live with Jesus. Bella wanted to know if the baby was going to get to meet the "three men". I asked her who the three men were, and she said, "You know, the three men that visited Jesus when HE was a baby." I said, "Oh! You mean the three wise men? Yes, baby Lily will get to meet the three wise men." I'm not sure if Bella's more sad that the baby won't be coming to live with us, or jealous that the baby gets to meet the three wise men before she does. I assured her that she would get to meet the wise men one day, too. It will interesting to see how she processes these changes as time goes on...
And I have weird, crushing, unreal memories, like walking around Target to find something that can act as an urn for the baby's ashes. I know it seems horrifying to go to Target, but everything at the funeral home seemed like a vial that a vampire would drink out of. I wanted it to be something we chose personally. So we paced the aisles of Target until we found a small, beautiful, stone vase that we both loved. I don't know if it will be our permanent decision, but it brought some peace in that moment to know we have a place for her.
The calm in my heart sometimes seems temporary. The night we came home from Target, I laid in bed and just started to cry. Everything about it felt wrong. Everything about it IS wrong. You shouldn't have to choose a place for your baby to rest; she should be inside of me, growing. I miss being pregnant. Sometimes, when I first wake up, my hand goes to the bump that is still there, and I start to remember all over again.
Today is my first day "alone", and I feel okay. I'm surviving. I've tried to plan this week so that I still have help and places to take the girls. I'm not sure I could emotionally or physically handle being alone with them all week by myself, so each day, we're spending some time with different friends. It's a chance to let Bella feel some normalcy, and I guess, me too. Steve's parents are planning on being here for the long weekend, which will be wonderful, too. We've had so much support around us - people have brought dinners, volunteered to watch the girls, sent texts and messages - it's been an incredible blessing.
Scripture keeps me sane when I start to become overwhelmed with grief, and Steve sent me this verse yesterday...
"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him."
Lamentations 3:21-24
The Lord is my portion. The Lord is enough.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Her Name Is Lily"

I don't know if I'll ever have the right words to describe the last four days. There were so many questions, so many moments of anguish, and yes, so much joy.
Last Tuesday, the 13th, we went to my midwife, Monica, for a routine appointment. We heard the baby's heartbeat and got a blood test for second semester genetic screening. Thinking back, I had never had the test for Bella or Evelyn, but since it only involved drawing my blood and I was already at the office, I said yes this time.
The following Thursday, Monica called and said the blood levels came back showing an elevated risk of the baby having Trisomy 18. I was in the car when she called, so I called Steve right away. I couldn't help but choke up. Monica told me Trisomy 18 affects the baby's development and most babies don't survive the condition. I was stunned. Every step of this pregnancy, we've had one "minor" complication after another, and each one has made Steve and I look at each other and ask, "When do we just get to be excited about this baby?"
Monica's office made the appointment with a specialist for us. Whitney made me promise not to Google "Trisomy 18", so we asked friends for prayer, and waited for our appointment. There are moments when every person "keeps all these things and ponders them in her heart". For me, one of those moments will always be the Sunday before our appointment with the perinatal specialist. I was pretty straight-faced when explaining to our class what was going on and asking them to pray. By this point, I had calmed down quite a bit; even thinking I had completely overreacted in my initial worry.
During our class time, though, Trey asked if the entire class could literally come around us and pray over us. I just lost it. I can't describe that moment adequately in words; it was overwhelming to not only release those feelings of worry, but also have our loved ones and adopted family surround us in tears and prayer. It is a moment I will keep in my heart forever.  
We had our appointment with the specialist exactly one week from when we had last seen Monica. We were nervous, but felt ready to have it behind us. We knew some of the physical markers that the doctor would be looking for, so when the nurse did the initial ultrasound, both of us were focused closely on the screen. The first thing I noticed was that the baby didn't seem to be moving much. The nurse moved her sonogram wand over my stomach for a few minutes and then looked at us. "I have some concerns, but I want to get the doctor and see what he thinks." We asked her what she was looking for, and she said, "Well, I can't find a heartbeat..."
The empty, sinking feeling of anguish that goes through your mind and heart when you hear those words are unreal. I jut kept thinking, "This can't be happening again. We just had a miscarriage in March. This can't be right." As soon as the nurse left, we collapsed. We sobbed. We held each other. When Dr. Nathan walked in, we just knew. It turns out that our original due date was correct and the baby was not developing properly. We were 18 weeks into our pregnancy, but the baby was only measuring at 16 weeks. Even though we had heard her heartbeat only a week ago, something must have already been wrong.
Dr. Nathan told us that since we were so far along, I needed to be induced and asked if we wanted to do it that afternoon. I knew we were not ready for that emotionally, and as a mother, I knew I wasn't prepared to be away from the girls for two days. I needed to plan a little. I needed to feel more ready. The girls had been at Emily's for a few hours, so I called Whitney to go get them and take them to her house. I knew Steve and I needed to go back to a quiet house and process...
Wednesday was our "pause" day. I was able to honestly tell people I was "okay"; I got my hair cut, we spent time with Trey and Whitney, we hugged our girls, and we packed for the hospital. My parents arrived on Wednesday night, which was a huge weight off of our shoulders. My mom would be coming to the hospital with Steve and I, and dad would be at the house to help Mel with the girls.
Thursday morning was surreal. We woke up at 4:30 in order to be at the hospital at 5:00. We walked into Labor & Delivery with a small baby bump, knowing we wouldn't be walking out with a baby. I changed into a hospital gown and we waited. And waited. I can truly say we were in a healthy place. We knew this day was going to end in overwhelming sadness, but I just couldn't mourn for twelve hours straight. I couldn't lay in a hospital bed and cry for so long when a part of me already knew she was gone. We wanted to see her to be able to say goodbye.
God's grace had carried us this far. And when this day was over, He had filled our hearts with indescribable thankfulness. We had so many concerns, so many questions - the placenta was lower than it should have been, so there was a major concern that if it was covering too much of the cervix, I would have to have a C-section. I can't say strongly enough how badly I did not want a C-section. Not only because it almost guaranteed that I would need to have a C-section for future babies, but also because of the long recovery time and having two other children at home.
Our other major concern was whether the placenta would come out entirely on its own, or if it would have to be removed surgically with a D&C. Even medical websites describe the procedure as "scraping", and it just sounded horrible and violating. If the placenta only came out partially and the doctors didn't perform the D&C in time, they were concerned that I would hemorrhage and bleed out. We had prayer warriors in four different states and multiple churches covering us in prayer.
I wanted to labor on my own as much as possible; I was absolutely fine taking pain medication, but I really wanted to be able to deliver her without an epidural. I wanted to be aware of what was happening and I wanted to be very present when she finally came. I felt it would be cathartic to feel at least some of the labor and physically feel her come out.
Monica and the nurses were unbelievable. They did everything possible to make us comfortable. The doctor that was on shift with Monica was also incredible - answering all of our questions, covering us in prayer, and able to have a sense of humor when we needed him to. I'm sure they were sick of hearing me say, "I'm okay", but I really was. Whitney was in the hospital with us almost the entire time, and for most of the day, we just waited. The drug that they gave me to induce labor was inserted vaginally so that it would reach my bloodstream as quickly as possible. It also allowed me to move freely, without being connected to an IV. The pill that induced contractions was inserted every 6 hours, and they told us to expect it to not start working until we had at least two doses...12 hours.
We got our first dose at 10:00 AM, and settled in. Light cramping started within the first hour, but was extremely minimal for quite awhile and very low on my pain scale. Real labor started after dinner; it was very surreal to have the experience and pain be so similar to my natural labor with Evelyn. I guess we shouldn't have been surprised since this was natural labor, but Monica had told us that because of the baby's size, I wouldn't have to wait to be dilated to ten centimeters before the baby came; I would probably only need to be about 3 or 4. There was definitely the point where I was laboring on all fours and begging the nurse for drugs, which thankfully, she provided quickly. Monica and the nurses knew I didn't want an epidural and knew I didn't want to feel drugged when the baby came, so they gave me a drug that really helped me with the pain, but also allowed me to feel present.
We met our baby girl at 11:15 on Thursday night. Monica checked my cervix, asked I could bear down slightly, and I felt her slip out. I looked down and saw the smallest little body on the sheet. That was the moment of release I had been waiting for. All of my waiting and sadness and anguish and loss. All of the pain I saw when I looked into Steve's eyes. I finally felt like it could come out. I laid there and sobbed. My whole body shook on the bed as Steve leaned over me and sobbed with me. I knew Monica was moving and talking, but I didn't know what she was saying. I heard my mom crying and saw Whitney.
We cried and felt calmer. Almost relieved. Monica asked Steve if he wanted to cut the cord, which was no wider than a charge cord for our phones. Steve has always felt that this is a Daddy rite-of-passage, and he was thankful to have the opportunity to participate in the baby's birth in this way. We were still concerned about the placenta, but Monica waited a little bit to see what my body was doing, and then asked me to bear down and push again. The placenta came out smoothly and seemed whole.
Throughout this entire experience, God had proved His faithfulness. Every single request that we had asked family and friends to be praying for had been answered. My body hadn't gone into early labor until I got to the hospital, I didn't need to have a C-section, the placenta came out without any further complications, and the baby had been delivered on the first day, which meant our time at the hospital would be as short as possible. As the nurse took the baby to clean her up, we were overwhelmed by feelings of thankfulness. Only God could have protected us in this moment with His grace. There had never been a moment where we thought, "Where are you, God?" We knew He was there. The song, How Great Thou Art, had been in my head all week long, and we had no doubt that He was still great.
The nurse asked us what the baby's name was, and we said, "Her name is Lily." It had always been Steve's favorite choice when we had talked about girl names and it just seemed right. When the nurse handed us our Lily wrapped in a blanket, and everyone gave us a few moments of privacy, we once again had a flood of emotions. How do you say goodbye to a baby you just met? No amount of warning from the doctor or Monica prepared us for how she would look. Both of us still expected to see a chubby, little baby, just very tiny. It just wasn't true with Lily; it was clear that she had problems. I would have chosen to see her no matter how she had looked, but a part of me also wished I hadn't needed that moment to have closure. We closed the blanket again and focused on her little feet and hands. God had miraculously formed them just as they should have been, with little toes and little fingers. My mom, Whitney, and Mel came in eventually and were able to hold her and say goodbye. We kissed her blanketed head and handed her back to the nurse.
Because God is merciful and gracious and good, I believe He also gives us moments of joy and humor in the midst of excruciating pain. One of those moments was when we were all sitting on the bed, looking at Lily's little body, and all of a sudden, I said, "That's a penis." All I could think of was, "What are we going to say? What are we going to tell people? We're already going through this terrible trauma and everyone knows we were having a little girl!" I looked at the group around me and said with a completely straight face, "This stays in this room. We have a girl." (Which, of course, was ridiculous. How could I have expected to keep that to myself? I'm also a little surprised that Whitney didn't laugh out loud at this point, because you could tell by the look on her face that she thought I had permanently lost my mind.) Thankfully (dear Lord, thankfully!), the nurses checked her little body and confirmed that Lily was a girl; some of her parts were just very swollen from the birth. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and said to myself, "We have a girl. Her name is Lily."
Handing her little body back to the nurse was an emotional moment, especially for Steve, because we had to tell the nurse whether or not we wanted to see Lily again before we left the hospital. We knew we had been given our moment to say goodbye and that we were feeling unexpectedly fulfilled, but how do you say the words that you don't want to see your baby again? That you're okay leaving her at the hospital and going home without her? Everyone knows it's not "okay"; that it's not normal and it goes against every instinct you have as a parent. But you still have to say the words.
We were settled into our recovery room by 2:00, early on Friday morning. Everyone else had left and it was just Steve and I. We were stunned by our feelings of thankfulness and closure. We know (and have already experienced) fresh moments of grief and tears. We miss Lily; we ache for the baby girl that should still be growing inside of me. But we are thankful. For friends and family who surrounded us in unimaginable ways. For the friends who were praying for us and crying with us, even when they didn't know what to say. For those who sent flowers and brought dinner and texted us their love. For God's protection over my body when so many things could have gone wrong.
On the morning of our doctor's appointment with the specialist, Steve's mom and dad had texted us a Bible verse; "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You." Isaiah 26:3. That verse has been in my mind ever since. I can't say that my peace has been perfect, but it has been present. We have been blessed with two beautiful little girls who are a constant reminder that life has to keep going. We have a group of family and friends that has mourned with us and loved us and walked through this valley with us every step of the way.
On Sunday, we will have a short service at our home and say goodbye. It will be a small group and very simple. My prayer is that this is a moment of peace and joy for us, a time of healing for Steve and I, and a chance to once again, say goodbye.
To all of you who have cried with us and prayed for us, thank you so much for your prayers.
We love you.

Saying hello and goodbye to our baby girl.
Lily Wires
August 22, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Start Of School!

We finally started school today! Our plan was to start on Monday, but Mel had the stomach flu on Monday, and we couldn't get the printer to work, so Monday didn't happen. Steve stayed home on Tuesday, and nothing work-related happens when Daddy's home; there's just too much fun going on! Something about "the best laid plans..."
So, Wednesday was our day! We had our first gymnastics class in the morning (pictures to come!), so we came home, changed our clothes, and jumped right in!
We HAD to have our turn holding the "first day of school" sign! Even if I quickly wrote it with a marker on posterboard!

I plopped Evelyn on the step next to Bella for a sister shot, and it actually turned out well!

Focusing hard on her Letter Hunt activity!

I wasn't sure how she would act with me as her teacher, but she went along with everything really well! We did a "Days of the Week" song and motions for our Bible verse; she listened well and did the activities that I asked!

All done! I had a few "live and learn" moments as we went through our activities. I'm wondering if some of them aren't challenging enough for her, but we'll see how the rest of the week goes.

And this is how Evelyn spent our school time. Our schedule was off this morning because of gymnastics, but I definitely learned that from now on, school has to be done while Evelyn is napping. My conversation went like this, "Okay, Bella, now you need to find all of the a's in the story. Evelyn, stop grabbing the markers! Evelyn, no! Good job, Bella, keep going! Evelyn, you're driving me crazy! No, no! Alright, Bells, next...Evelyn! No, no!" Lesson learned.

 Matching shapes and apples

Tracing the uppercase and lowercase A's

Our verse for the week. We have motions that Bella will actually repeat! Score!

This is one of her daily activities - she traces the letters for the day of the week, colors in what number it is, and then writes the number in the box. She's also supposed to write out the number "fourteen" for the day, but that seemed complicated for her, so I'm re-thinking it. I learned through Bella doing this that even though she's good at counting and recognizing numbers, she's not good at writing them herself, so that's definitely something we're going to work on.

My lesson plan for the week. I downloaded and printed a resource called "Letter of the Week" lessons from the blog, Confessions of a Homeschooler. I like it because it includes all of the skills she needs to learn this year, focused around the letter of the week that she's learning. It also gives ideas for additional activities.

Yes, we changed outfits halfway through. Bella wanted to wear one of her new dresses that had foxes on it. On this page, we wrote out the time (I took a BIG mental note that she has no concept of how the clock works, etc., and I had trouble explaining the difference between hours and minutes.)

I had to include this picture, because it just cracked me up! The idea is that every month, Bella will write our her name on the line, and at the end of the year, we'll get to see how she improved. When she wrote out her name in the space next to August, all I could think of was, "Man, I hope she gets better at writing on the line, or my control freak is going to twitch!" Something else to work on...lowercase, uppercase, and the concept of writing on those lines with the dotted line that runs through the middle!
Our first day great and she was asking for more activities to do!

Little Human #3 Update

 We had an OBGYN appointment on Tuesday morning for baby #3. So far, everything about this pregnancy has been so different than the first two. This time around, it has definitely not felt like rainbows and giggles. Physically, I have felt fine. Not a lot of throwing up and not much nausea. My biggest complaint has been constant exhaustion, but I've learned that all parents with small children seem exhausted 24/7, so I'm not really unique in that.
We were hoping to get a sonogram this time to find out the baby's gender and also check the position of the placenta, but the midwife wanted to push that back another two weeks. I'll admit, a part of me was hugely disappointed - I had found a babysitter, Steve got off work - I didn't understand the reasoning of pushing it back. The midwife, Monica, came in to check the heartbeat, and she couldn't find it. At this point, I wasn't really worried; for some reason, it seemed more comical. I kept trying not to look at Steve too much, because all I could think of was, "Of course! Why would this baby make it easy?"
I laid there for a very long 4 or 5 minutes while Monica did her best, but she finally decided to do the sonogram after all, just so we could have the peace of mind of knowing the baby was okay. I didn't argue, since I had wanted the sonogram so badly in the first place! It was too early for a full anatomy check, but the sonogram tech said she was pretty sure it's a girl. Another girl! That's pretty much what we were expecting (apparently, we don't make boys), so I had a much better reaction than I did with Evelyn! Unless this little one grows a "wee wee" in the next month, we'll have three little girls running around this house! My most wonderful boy name, Henry, will have to be passed to Mel's babies.
Unfortunately, I still have placenta previa, which means the placenta is located lower down in the uterus than it's supposed to be, so I have to take it easy. I have no idea what "take it easy" means when you have two small children, but I promised not to run any marathons. The sonogram tech also felt the baby was measuring towards a later due date, so she moved my due date back to January 24th. It's only 9 days later, so in my mind, it wasn't a big deal. Steve and I asked Monica how they know the difference between whether the original due date based on my period was wrong or the baby was measuring smaller than it should. She wasn't exactly sure, so she's going to take our file to the next meeting with all of the doctors and midwives in the practice to see what they thought. We'll hopefully know more about the due date, the anatomy scan, and the placenta at the next appointment in September. (It always seems like we're waiting for the "next appointment". Ugh!)

Little one had her hand up to her mouth during the sonogram.
Last night, we sat in bed and looked up girl names. Here are our favorites...not really in any order; these are just ones that caught our eye. It's fun to plan!
Lillian (Steve's current favorite)
Rosalind or Rosalie
Camellia (My current favorite)
My favorite middle name ideas are Grey and Louise, or maybe a family name, but we're still thinking...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cousin Camp 2013

Where to begin? The girls and I spent last week up in Ohio with Steve's family for our first Cousin Camp experience! It was so much fun!
My biggest stressor was taking the girls on a plane by myself. You know when you take your kids to a restaurant, and even if they behave perfectly, the constant stress of wondering IF they're going to lose their minds at any moment makes it a really stressful trip? That's what it was like for both of the plane trips. All things considered, they did really well. Bella had a few hilarious moments, yelling to me while she was waiting for her ears to pop, and Evelyn had a few almost-meltdown moments, but nothing too horrible occurred. Still, the stress of waiting for Evelyn to lose her mind at any moment made it a tiring experience!
Once we got to Ohio, though, the trip was wonderful! Bella and Evelyn got to play with their cousins, I read seven books, and we had a great time playing and spending time together! I was supposed to plan out Bella's first few weeks of homeschool, but the books were calling my name, so that got done instead. Here are some great pictures from our week!
Waiting for the train at the Atlanta airport. We rode the train with Daddy until it was time for him to get off at his terminal; then, we braved it on our own. We managed to buy a snack, take a potty break, and drag a double stroller, my purse, and two kids to the gate without any casualties. Our flight was delayed by about 30 minutes, which made me want to cry a little, but we were eventually settled.
Bella was responsible for her own ticket (I kept a very close eye on it.), and she did a great job!
Carter met us at the airport with Grandma and Grandpa, and he was fantastic at being sweet to Bella and keeping her entertained on the ride home!
Getting settled in and playing with Grandpa...
Puzzles with Grandma on a rainy afternoon.
Watching some of her older cousins riding their bikes in the rain. I love how she's up on her tip toes!
Evelyn and her Great-Grandma Ferguson (We call her "Great-Grandma in Ohio".)
Matching t-shirts to wear to the zoo and other outings. All of the kids signed their names on the back of each shirt.
Aunt Stacey and Evelyn at the zoo. It was beautiful and not too hot, but this was a little bit of a rough day for Evelyn. Between being tired from our trip the day before and getting used to a big group of new faces, Evelyn was extremely clingy. She wanted to be held by me the entire time, but thankfully, calmed down enough to let Grandma and Stacey take over when I was losing it!
Bryce, Bella, and Aunt Stacey
On the train...I just like Evelyn's weird face here.
Bella and Grandma, looing at the giraffes.
Walking the beautiful trails. Stacey's got Evelyn and Bella's running up ahead. Thank goodness we had bright orange shirts on, because Bella was "running up ahead" most of the day!
We like to force the minors to take group pictures. As you can see, they are just thrilled at this experience!
 Talking with Daddy over FaceTime. Thank goodness for technology, because it has made Steve's business trips so much easier! The girls and I love to see his face and talk to him about what has happened in our day, and he loves the chance to check in with us when he's been stuck with businessmen and his hotel room all week!

On Thursday, we took our second outing to Chuck E. Cheese! I have never been to Chuck E. Cheese, so my only mental picture was of Pizza Planet from Toy Story - dark, dirty, and crawling with screaming children. In reality, it was really nice! And really fun! I'm sure there were still invisible germs everywhere, because, let's face it, it was like a fast-food playground on overload, but it was smaller than I was expecting, well-organized, and well-lit. We never had a problem keeping an eye on the kids and they had a blast! Evelyn did a great job of being happy with Stacey and Grandma holding her, which let me run around and play games with Bella. One of Bella's favorite rides was this "life-size" horse. She rode it over and over!
Evelyn on the carousel! And more importantly, happy with someone besides me!

I dragged the girls into one of those "sketch" booths that draw your picture. I didn't have high expectations of fitting us all in, but I ended up loving it!

Okay, I had to include this picture because it was a hilarious moment that I want to remember! There was a giant, mechanical mouse on the "stage" that would come to life every once in awhile and sing and dance. The first time it happened while we were eating pizza, Evelyn raised her hands in the air and just stared at the mouse. It was great! She just kept her hands up for a full couple of minutes while the mouse moved! I also have a video of her dancing to the Cupid Shuffle. Good times.

Oh look! We forced the children to pose for a group picture again!

Shooting zombie pirates. I was a little hesitant at first, but ended up standing behind Bella, yelling, "Keep shooting! Just keep shooting!"

Evelyn trying to reach up and play one of the games. By next year, she should have a better chance.

Our final "cousins on the swing" picture! Grandma has one of every year from when Kaylie and Carter were just babies. It's so fun to flip through them and see the families growing!

Ready to fly home! We had a great trip, and I loved getting to spend extra time with my nieces and nephews that I don't normally get. We just got to do "normal life" with them and hang out. Loved it!