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We had Christmas Eve at our house this year (well, technically last year since I’m way behind on blogging).  We decided on only appetizers for lunch, so that made it really easy on us.  It gave us plenty of time to chat and relax.  As you can see, Lillian enjoyed chatting with Grandpa.

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Mark enjoyed taking pics of everyone.  I think these are great of Jeff and Jessie!

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Phil had surgery on his foot before Thanksgiving (I think) so he still needed a “boot” on it and needed to elevate it a decent amount.  Jeff and Jessie enjoyed relaxing and some of the rest of us enjoyed the appetizers.  I like the second picture because it shows how things end up when we have get togethers at our house….some people sitting on the couches in the living room, others at the table, and others in the kitchen and around the high part of the counter.

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Elizabeth and Rebecca enjoying some appetizers.

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After everyone was done eating, we got things ready in the living room to open gifts. 

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We then opened the gifts.  Lillian was “Santa” and did a great job handing out the gifts.  She even let others open some before she opened all of hers. 

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More opening.  Phil and Dorene got each others name for the drawing and gave each other the same thing.  I think they knew it before they opened the gifts though.

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Lillian got a gift that was pretty heavy and almost bigger than she was.

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It was a ton of crafty things…including yarn, construction paper, and glue…among much more.

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We got her a bean bag type chair for the basement and since it was so big, we decided to give it to her on Christmas Eve instead of traveling with it to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.

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We then decided to go downstairs to get some “professional” family pics.  Mark set up the photography lights and had some fun.  Here is Jeff and Jessie.

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Phil and Sue, and then Phil and Sue with Lillian.  Such a great pic of Lillian with her grandparents!  I need to remember to print that one.

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Rebecca and Elizabeth.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Family pic for the Gilberts and one with Phil being a photo bomb. 

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Cousins!

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Everyone!  You can also get a little peak into what the basement looks like with stuff in it.

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That evening Sue’s cousins joined us for more fun.  We made a traditional Christmas meal with ham, and potatoes, among other sides.  It was all delicious!  You can also see the stockings that I made for us as well as Snowy, our Elf on the Shelf.

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This is way behind because I am now almost 35 weeks pregnant, but here are the pictures of me when I was 16 weeks pregnant.  As you can see, I still had my picc line in, but was not hooked up to anything.  Actually, a few days after Mark took these pictures I had my picc line removed.  At the point of these pictures, I was still gaining back my strength and weight, but was eating almost anything.  I was definitely well on my way to feeling normal again. 

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When Mark wants to practice taking pictures, Lillian seems to always want to take silly pictures.  This time, she decided that toys would be fun to have her picture taken with. 

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We are thinking that we might print some of these pretty large and put them in her play area in the basement. 

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Even though she is being goofy, I still really like them.  Definitely shows her personality.

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I was going to make Lillian’s Halloween costume this year, but then I got sick and wasn’t able to.  So Mark took her to Wal-Mart so she could pick out her costumer.  She chose this Pirate costume and at first when they told me what she picked I was disappointed.  After seeing it on her though, I thought it was adorable!

I debated about going into detail about my hyperemesis gravidarum (severe sickness during pregnancy) experience, but decided it was a major part of our lives, so I do want to document it.  Don’t feel like you have to read this post, especially if you can’t handle hearing the details about the experience.  This is an incredibly long post and might not be an exact detail of everything because it’s all kind of a blur.

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Our trip to the zoo was pretty much the last thing that we did that I was able to actually enjoy before my morning sickness (aka all day sickness) got worse.  We went to the zoo on Saturday and the following Tuesday I was 6 weeks along.  At that point, I was surviving as long as I forced myself to eat something, but the nausea was getting worse and harder to find things to eat that would agree with me.

My sister came up to visit the weekend of October 4th and I pretty much slept the whole time.  Luckily, she loves playing with Lillian because I sure was not a good host.  On the 9th, I had my 8 week appointment and I had already lost 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight.  We discussed things that I could do in order to possibly help with the nausea.  They gave me a prescription for Zofran, but it was for the kind that you have to swallow.  I struggle swallowing pills in the first place, so add nausea to that and you can imagine how hard it was for me to get the pills down.  I was able to for a few days, but after that it was impossible.

My first day that I took off work was October 11.  I thought I was just feeling so bad because at my appointment on Wednesday they drew a lot of blood.  For those that have been pregnant before, you probably remember that at the 8 week appointment they take multiple vials of blood.  For some reason, during the first trimester when I’m pregnant, any time they have to draw blood it really takes a lot out of me.  So anyway, I just figured that I was feeling worse because of that and by Monday I would be able to go back to work.

Unfortunately that was not the case.  I began to not only feel nauseous, but also began to throw up and wasn’t able to eat anything because everything had a weird taste and nothing sounded good.  I tried to force myself, but it never really helped.  I was able to drink water and keep it down for awhile.  I called the doctor and they then gave me a prescription for the dissolvable Zofran.  I took it first thing in the morning and continued to drink all day.  They told me that as long as I was able to urinate at least every 8 hours that I didn’t need to come in for fluids.  I was doing that, so I thought things were going ok.

That is until Thursday evening (Oct. 17) when I was barely able to turn myself from side to side while laying down in bed.  I could barely get out of bed to use the bathroom because I was so weak.  So on Friday, we called the doctor again and I had an appointment scheduled.  I also was no longer keeping down water, so we knew I had to go in at this point.  I seriously thought that I would go in and they would give me fluids and I would feel so much better.  Once again, that was not the case.

Mark took me to the doctor on Friday, October 18th and had to wheel me in a wheelchair because I had no energy to walk.  I didn’t even get dressed or put in my contacts because I just couldn’t.  If you know me at all, you know that I don’t go anywhere without getting dressed and I don’t go more than an hour without putting in my contacts.  So that in itself shows how bad I was doing.  I could barely hold my head up so it was propped on my hand the whole time.

At my appointment they took a urine sample and of course the normal stats.  My weight was now down another 10 pounds (so 10 pounds lost in a week and a half) making my weight loss 20% of my body weight.  They also found that I was low on potassium, but this result didn’t come back until later.  The doctor immediately said that they were going to give me 2 liters of fluid, one including Zofran, and put in a PICC line.

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Luckily, they put in the PICC line first so I didn’t have to be poked and have the PICC inserted.  Normally, I hate all things medical, but I was feeling so awful that I was ok with anything as long as it would make me feel better.  The PICC line didn’t really hurt because they numbed it, but there was a LOT of pressure.  It definitely was not comfortable, but again, I knew it would help me to feel better in the long run.

So after the PICC line was in, we went back to the doctor’s office and they started the bags of fluid.  I actually started to feel thirsty again, but the water that they gave me came back up before leaving.  Another low point for me because I felt like everything that they were giving me was going to be a waste.  I had gone almost the whole time without throwing up and of course it was right before we left that I threw up.

While they were giving me fluids, the in home nurse care company called to let us know that everything would be covered by insurance (well, up to our normal deductible and max out of pocket amounts).  So that was a good thing!  My in home nurse called on our way home and was coming out to the house on Saturday morning (the next day) to get us all set up.  I have to say at this point I was mentally doing better because we had a plan of action that I knew would help me to feel better.

My in home nurse, Dawn, came on Saturday morning and showed us how to change bags of fluid, the tubing for both the fluid and for the Zofran pump, and how to change the Zofran meds.  None of it is hard to do, but it’s a lot to take in when you are sick.  So luckily, Mark was able to do all of it and remember everything.  Dawn would come once a week to change my PICC line dressing and to check on me.

I now had a new daily schedule…I had to test my ketones every morning, weigh myself, and take my temp.  I had a nurse that would call daily to get the information and check on me in general.  They would help me adjust my meds as needed and make sure that I wasn’t getting worse.  They were in contact with my doctor as needed so I didn’t really have to do anything other than try to get better.  Like I mentioned above, Mark changed the med syringe and fluid bags as needed because I wasn’t even strong enough to do that.  I remember trying to keep work up to date on how I was feeling, but it was so bad some days that I couldn’t even look at my phone or a computer.  I did have the TV on all day every day, but since it was farther from me it was easier to focus on without it making me feel sick.

This is when we found out that my potassium was low and they were luckily able to add it to my fluid bags.  I had three days of the potassium in the fluids and I really started to feel better.  I still couldn’t eat, but I wasn’t as weak as before.  In those three days I gained around 5 lbs, and was amazed that I could put on the weight that fast.  But then by the fifth day of being on fluids I started to lose weight again.  I again, was so down about it, but Dawn and the other nurses reassured me that it was water weight that I gained and not true weight.

About 10 days in I was getting close to my lowest weight again and was really getting scared.  Not only for me, but for the baby as well.  As much as I tried to think about the baby and be excited about being pregnant, I was really in a bad place and could only think about how awful I felt.  I seriously thought that this was going to go on until I had the baby.  I remember one time while having my head in the toilet, thinking that if something happened then this would at least end.  I didn’t want anything to happen, but knew it would cause the vomiting and nausea to go away.  It’s hard to believe that I could ever think that, but I was not in a good place like a pregnant woman should be.

Shortly after, my nausea began to subside a little.  Instead of being nauseous all day long, it started to just come on right before I was going to throw up.  This was still more than I would like, but at least it wasn’t constant!  So in between bouts of nausea I tried to eat small amounts of food.  It didn’t always stay down, but I got my hopes up a little that the food that did stay in my system would help my weight go back up.  It didn’t though.

Because I couldn’t afford for my weight to go down any lower, we started talking about nutrients through the PICC line and Dawn made it clear that we really didn’t want to get to that point.  I’m not sure if being scared of the liquid nutrients is what changed things or if it was because I was close to the end of the first trimester (I was 11 weeks at this point) or it could have been that we got the meds to the right dosage to help, but my weight did start going up.

The first day that I was truly able to eat, I only had one vanilla wafer.  I took nibbles every few hours and it felt like such an accomplishment.  Then on October 28th, I was able to eat 4 vanilla wafers and kept them down!  Talk about a victory.  The next day, I tried a few other things and did end up throwing up once.  I got down again because I wasn’t keeping down all of the food that I was eating.  Dawn reassured me that I would have good and bad days and that it really wasn’t a big deal that I threw up ONCE.

I had at least one bad day a week even when starting to improve.  Most of the time it was on a Monday.  I think because Mark and Lillian were home during the weekend and Monday was the first day that I was home alone again, for yet another week, trying to get better, but still feeling sick.

On Halloween, I remember thinking that I was feeling better and that I had hope that this would end before the end of the pregnancy.  Throughout the rest of this, I kept wondering what I was going to do if this didn’t end, thinking I wouldn’t be able to handle it.  Wondering what else I could do.  I still didn’t feel well at all, but I must have felt a decent amount better in order to think positively.  At that point, I don’t think that I had thrown up for 2 days!  It’s amazing what even one day of not vomiting can do for someone’s spirits.

From there, my nausea continued to stay away.  I slowly (very slowly) started eating more food…not only in quantity, but also in variety.  Because I hadn’t eaten for so long, they had me following a strict diet plan.  They didn’t want me to rush into things and go backwards.  I was completely fine with this and maybe even took things slower than I needed, but to me it was better safe than sorry!  I couldn’t start throwing up again, I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

On November 8, I had my 12 week appointment.  My doctor’s reaction was that I looked great.  I was actually dressed and showered!  I still didn’t have in contacts because my eyes were now so used to glasses.  I even put in my contacts and had to take them out because everything was blurry.  I was back up about 5 pounds from my lowest weight.  That doesn’t seem like a ton, but really it was a big improvement.  We asked when she thought I would be able to return to work and we decided on the 18th.  I had been eating for about a week, so that gave me another week to gain more strength.  I also knew that if I couldn’t work full days that my department was ok with that.  That I could ease back into working.

It was around that point that we told Lillian that she was going to be a big sister.  When Dawn came for her weekly visits we started listening to the heartbeat and we wanted Lillian to know that she was hearing the baby’s heartbeat.  She seemed excited, but I’m not sure she fully understood, even though she did talk about it a lot.  She asked a lot of questions and made the connection that I was sick because of the baby.  We didn’t really want her to make that connection, but she is too smart for us.

So I continued to try to push myself by eating every hour to two hours and trying new things.  I also sat in the living room instead of laying in bed all day.  I tried to walk around as much as possible and started doing things on the computer so that I was used to sitting and looking at a computer screen.  By the week of November 11th I was starting to get bored with TV, which is major because that is all that I could do before since it kept my mind off of feeling sick.  I watched a LOT of TV.  Too bad I wasn’t able to read because I could have finished multiple books.

On November 15th, I unhooked for the first time from the fluids.  It was amazing to walk around without pushing an IV pole around.  I unhooked from the fluids because I wanted to make sure I could manage during the day without them.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to work.  I was still to have fluids overnight and that continued even after going back to work.

On November 18th, after missing work for 5 weeks, I returned to work.  It took a lot out of me, but I managed to work a full day.  I fell asleep as soon as I got home, but I still made it!  I worked a full week (well, I only work 4 days a week), but I still made it my 4 days!  On Friday, I normally have Lillian home with me, but we went ahead and had her go to daycare so that I could rest that day.  I did rest, but I also got my hair cut, and did as much around the house as I could.  It probably wasn’t much, but I felt “great.”

It was still a long process until I truly felt back to normal, but I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving and by a month after returning to work, I finally felt like I was in a new routine and feeling pretty well.  By Christmas, I truly feel like I was back to my normal self.  I, of course, was still fairly tired, but who isn’t when they are pregnant?  I just didn’t feel like it was because I was still gaining my strength back, but truly, just from being a mom, who works, and is also pregnant.  It was a great feeling!

On Thanksgiving (November 28th), I stopped my meds completely, and on December 6th my PICC line was removed.  I was finally free!  No more wrapping my arm for showers, or having a pump to put in a water sealed bag.

Through all of this, Lillian was great.  She did have a few set backs….wet the bed more often, had a few more tantrums and got upset easier, but after a few weeks of me being down and out, she got used to the fact that daddy had to help her do everything.  That mommy couldn’t get out of bed and that she couldn’t move much on mommy and daddy’s bed because it would make mommy feel icky.  She got used to the fact that mommy didn’t come out of the bedroom, but did get excited anytime that I did.  She would check on me every day and after school ask if I ate anything.  She would let Mark know if I needed my fluids or meds changed.  She was my little nurse.

Mark was amazing, and I truly don’t know that I could have dealt with all of this from his side.  He literally did everything around the house, everything for Lillian, and everything for me; all while working full time.  He would come home when I needed my fluids or meds changed, and came home every day for lunch, just to check on me.  Through all of this, we were also finishing the basement.  Right before I got really bad, we decided to do the painting ourselves.  Luckily, Mark’s dad came up to help out with the painting.  His mom came up a few weekends with his dad as well, to check on me and to help out with Lillian.  They would call daily to see how I was doing.  His mom would ask her OBGYN friends at work if they had any suggestions to help me feel better.

This is probably the roughest thing that we have ever gone through.  I had it rough, but I was also in a state that I didn’t deal with anything other than myself.  Sure, it was all physically happening to me, I was laying in bed, feeling sick and/or getting sick, but I was also laying in bed, sleeping, watching TV, etc.  So I might have had it easier than Mark.  He had to worry about me and the baby, and deal with everything that I mentioned above.

But, we made it through!  We survived, and we will be having another baby soon.  I can now say that it will be worth it in the end, but honestly, if this had happened when I was pregnant with Lillian we probably wouldn’t be having another baby.  We are grateful for the care that I received because I think it was truly the best route that could have been taken.  We are grateful that it ended when it did.  I’m grateful that Mark and his parents did everything that they could to help me out.  I’m grateful that my employer was so good about everything…I didn’t have to stress about missing work, but rather focus on getting better.  I’m grateful that my friends and family that knew about what was going on checked on me randomly to make sure I was doing ok.  I’m grateful that my in home nurse truly cared about her job and therefore me, instead of getting someone that thought of it as just a job.  I’m grateful that everything with the pregnancy is now right on track.  It’s great to feel great!

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Toward the end of September, we met up with Kiran (a little boy from Lillian’s daycare) and his family at the zoo. 

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We started out like normal….seeing the elephants and giraffes.  This was of course Lillian’s choice.

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Kiran and Lillian were quite the explorers.  Looking at the map to decide where to go next, and working on a fire hydrant.  I love that the zoo is so kid friendly (and outside) that it’s ok to let them run a little.

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The camels must have been getting ready for cooler weather because most of their fur/hair was back.  They are much better looking animals when they aren’t losing all of their fur/hair.  (I even looked online to see if it was considered fur or hair and it seems to get mixed reviews, so I will go with fur/hair.)

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The peacocks were looking a little less vibrant in color as well.  Of course, you can’t tell from these two pictures….

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Kiran climbing on the elephant slide.

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Faith and I chatting and Lillian and Prakash chatting.

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A donkey and cow.  If I recall correctly, the cow was due any day.

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More adventures of Kiran and Lillian.

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A creepy bird of some sort.

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Alpacas

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Reptiles

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Lillian and Kiran eating a snack.

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And a few bird pictures.

Lillian has had an umbilical hernia since she was born.  We were hoping it would close all the way, but it didn’t.  Usually, if it’s not closed by age 4, then they want to close it.  Apparently, it could cause major pain if she ever decides to get pregnant when she’s older.  It’s not as big of an issue for boys, but they still tend to suggest to get them closed.

I think this surgery was harder on me than her ear tube surgery.  My guess is because I knew she was in pain a lot with the ear infections and that the tubes would help.  Where with this surgery, she was in no pain prior to having it.  It was basically an inevitable surgery that is more for her for later in life.

With all of that said, she did an excellent job!  We didn’t tell her too far in advance that she was going to have the surgery.  We explained what they were going to do and she asked a lot of questions.  I think she was slightly scared/worried about it, but overall just curious.  Her belly button was an “outie” so we told her that she would have an “innie” like mommy when the doctor was done.  She told us that she didn’t want an innie.  It was her way of trying to get out of the surgery.  We also explained to her that she was not going to be able to eat that morning, hoping that with advance warning (from the night before) that it would be easier on her.

They gave her meds to relax her and that was surprisingly one of the hardest parts.  I knew it would make her not really care about anything, but didn’t realize that it would relax her so much that her speech would change as well.  She noticed and asked “why can’t I talk.”  It’s funny now to think about it, but really upset me at the time.  Luckily, since she was so relaxed she didn’t notice that I was upset.

They took her back for surgery and it lasted about 45 minutes.  Then we had about another 10 minutes or so after they told us she was out of surgery before the doctor came to talk to us.  Finally, we were able to go see her in recovery.  The best feeling ever was to walk into the room and see her smile at me and say “mama”.  She was so content.  The pictures above are from the recovery room and were taken on a cell phone so that is why they aren’t that clear.  She chose an orange popsicle and was watching Dora when we got to the room.  We were only in the recovery room for about an hour before we were able to go home.

As far as after the surgery, she had some pain for the first day, but was on prescription meds.  Then after the first day, we just let her choose if she wanted to take anything.  We did make her take some over the counter meds before bed on the second night, but other than that, she only had meds on the first day.  What a trooper!

Her surgery was on a Wednesday, and by Sunday I would say she was pretty much back to normal.  It was the first day that we noticed she wasn’t walking a little bent over.  Before that she still tried to keep her stomach from stretching.  She was still cautious for about a week or so, but it didn’t really hurt unless she bumped it or moved too quickly.

There really was nothing for us to do because the incision was in her belly button and they put a glue like bandage on it.  We just couldn’t get it wet for a few days and then couldn’t submerge it in water…so no baths (just showers) until it was gone.  They told us it might begin to itch, but she didn’t complain too much about it itching.

Overall, it was a good experience for something that isn’t easy on any of us.  Now her belly button is an innie and you can’t tell at all that she had surgery.

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Josh and Yasmin got married Labor Day weekend.  They had an outdoor wedding and the weather was pretty warm, but turned out to be beautiful.  They had the wedding on a friend’s farm and the grounds were gorgeous. 

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Unfortunately, I’m not sure who the people are in the pics, but they were pretty good pics so I thought I would share.  There are more pictures here, I just didn’t want to add a ton of pics of people that I couldn’t tell you who they were. 

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Here is Josh and Yasmin as they walked “in”.  I liked how casual, yet elegant the ceremony was.  I also liked that they walked down the isle together holding hands.  Very intimate.

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More pics of them walking toward the ceremony.

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The ceremony…

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Vows and rings….

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First kiss…

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The happy couple…

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A few family group shots….

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And a complete family pic…

Congrats Josh and Yasmin!!

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Toward the end of August we went to the zoo again.  Man do I love having a membership!  Anyway, because of the membership, we also get free coupons to a few things.  This time we chose to do a train ride.  Lillian had fun seeing the zoo from a different perspective. 

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She also asked to do the carousal.  She was ok at first, but then got scared.  The horse she was on kept “knocking” when it was at the top and it jerked her so she thought she was going to fall off.  Mark took her off of that horse and put her on the giraffe that didn’t move and it was much better for her. 

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Some neat pics of the barn.

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The calf that was born not too long before we were there.  There were at least four other expected before the end of the year. 

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The required giraffe pics from when we go to the zoo.  We see the giraffes every single time we go to the zoo.  They are still Lillian’s favorite and one of mine as well.

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A few black and white images.  I like that Mark tries to change the pictures since the animals don’t change all that often.

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And a few bird images.  Seagulls are kind of gross birds to me, but they are always so active so I see why Mark likes trying to get a decent pic of them.

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These are just a few pictures from us playing with the camera.  If I recall, Lillian and I were playing outside and Mark brought the camera out once he got home from work. 

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She can be so enthusiastic about things sometimes.  She gets goofy and somewhat crazy.  Meaning, she wanted to stop the ball in the second picture so she dove right onto it.

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Here she is kicking the ball.  She is clearly left-handed, but was kicking a lot with her right foot this summer.  I think this is one of the few pictures where she was kicking left footed.

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Lillian’s friend from daycare invited her to his birthday party again this year.  This was back in August so it was still gorgeous outside.  The kids all seemed to enjoy themselves.

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Here is Lillian and Emberlyn playing on or near the swing.  If you recall, the dress that Lillian is wearing was the dress I made her for her birthday party.  She insisted on wearing it because it’s a birthday dress.  So of course, it needed to be warn to a birthday party, even if it wasn’t her party.  I can’t say that I minded.

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Matthew opening his gifts….I absolutely love the enthusiasm of 4 year olds.  Every gift is appreciated and the coolest thing that they have ever seen.  Even the kids that aren’t getting the presents get excited.

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I made Matthew a super hero cape.  His mom said that his favorite color was green so I chose two shades of green…the darker one for the outside and a lighter one for the underneath.  I then appliqued a super hero shield and the letter “M” for Matthew on it.  Once told what it was and after his dad put it on him, he quickly raced around the yard like a superhero.  I think it was a win!

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Matthew’s mom made cupcakes with little army men on them.  Such a cute idea, but simple to make.  As always, we all really enjoyed the party.  It’s going to be weird next year when Lillian makes all new friends in kindergarten.  Most of the kids at her daycare don’t live near us so they won’t go to the same school.