Welcome Baby Samuel!

I have had many requests for Samuel’s birth story and wanted to record it for myself anyway, so here it is with most of the details included! 

Our due date was June 4th.  I had some early signs of labor beginning about three weeks before that, so even though I thought from the start of pregnancy that I would go overdue, it was really hard not to get my hopes up every time I had one of those signs.  But June 4th came and went, and we kept waiting.  I do have to admit that the last three weeks of pregnancy were kind of nice.  I was done working and just spent the majority of my time at home with the dog, getting stuff done here and there.

 At my 41 week appointment (one week overdue), I had an ultrasound to check on the baby and fluid, and everything was perfect.  They estimated the baby’s weight to be 8 pounds, 15 ounces.  The doctors at our practice usually induce labor at 41 weeks, but we were blessed to get a lot of our appointments with our favorite of the five doctors, Dr. Bray, and she was very supportive of my wishes to wait it out longer.  I was definitely worn down from the physical toll of pregnancy, and I understand how women go ahead with induction so they can be done with it, but it was very important to me to avoid any unnecessary interventions.  I knew that all three of my sisters, as well as my best friend and other women I know, had their first babies past 41 weeks, and I felt confident that my body would accomplish labor on its own.  It had grown this baby without help, and I wanted to give it every chance to deliver as well.  Dr. Bray said she would let me wait one more week, and then she would want to induce.  I told her that was fine as long as the induction was at my preferred hospital and with her there.  So, a tentative induction was “scheduled” for June 20th.

 On June 14th, three days after that appointment, I went in to the office for a non-stress test to confirm that the baby was still doing well.  The test went great and showed that I was having a lot of contractions.  At this point they were still Braxton-Hicks contractions, or “false labor.”  I had them very frequently the last few weeks, so I didn’t think much of it.  But the midwife checked me and said I was at about 3.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced (I had been effaced that much for weeks), and she said she was sure I was going to be having the baby that very day.  This got our hopes up even more!  Matt could not go to work after that, so we ended up going to lunch and for a long walk at the mall.  The contractions did become more frequent.  We would time them occasionally, but they never got regular or more intense that day.  However, I really did think it was going to happen very soon, so my mom came over that night.  June 15th was very similar, with contractions picking up but not getting regular or more intense.  My sister Shelly came that night, and we ended up just having a fun night at my house.

 On the morning of June 16th, I woke up at about 5:30 a.m. with painful cramp-like contractions and knew that it was really real.  The contractions stayed about 8-10 minutes apart and were definitely more painful.  I woke Shelly up at 8:00 a.m., and we went for a long walk.  While walking they picked up in intensity and were about 5-6 minutes apart, but when we got home they spaced out a little further.  That entire day was pretty much like that.  My mom suggested doing “pelvic rock” to ensure that the baby was in good position, so Shelly and I spent most of the day doing that and other exercises and going on walks to encourage labor.  Matt did everything he could to help as well.  By about 10:00 p.m., the contractions were a lot more intense, and I was pretty sure we would not be sleeping that night.  Through the night they got even more intense and would regulate to about every 4-5 minutes, but then would slow down at times with 8-10 minute gaps.  It was so frustrating!  By 6:00 a.m. they had stayed 3-5 minutes apart for a while, so we decided it was time to go to the hospital.

 I had regular nausea and vomiting all 42 weeks of pregnancy, so on the way out the door I decided to grab my “puke bowl” to take in the car just in case.  It was a good thing because I had to use it five minutes down the road!  I felt better after throwing up, but then the contractions slowed down to about every 9 minutes.  I wanted to scream!  All that work and still I felt unsure that it would really happen.  We got to the hospital, and Shelly and I walked around the parking lot for a little while to try to speed things up before going inside.  I was nervous that I would be sent home if I wasn’t far enough along.  Once we got inside, however, I realized that that was not even a possibility since I was 42 weeks.  We got checked in around 7:00 a.m. and met our first nurse, Sam (only Matt and I knew how fitting her name was at the time J).

 Sam was a young but amazing nurse!  She was very supportive of my wishes for a natural, non-medicated birth and encouraged me to stay active during labor.  On arrival, I was 4.5 cm dilated and still 80% effaced.  We spent the next several hours walking the hospital halls, and then spending about 10 minutes of each hour hooked up to the monitor in my room to check on the baby.  When I had a contraction, I would lean against either Matt or a wall, close my eyes, relax every part of my body, and breathe deeply through it with a loud humming noise on each exhale.  I had read and practiced a lot of relaxation breathing techniques, but this simple one was what ended up working for me. 

 I really don’t remember exactly what time things happened after this point, but I do know that it continued through the whole day.  A couple hours after we arrived at the hospital, Dr. Bray arrived to check on me.  This was another wonderful blessing as I felt so much more comfortable with and supported by Dr. Bray than any of the other doctors, and she happened to be on call all weekend.  At that time, I was 5 cm dilated.  Dr. Bray gave me the go-ahead to continue walking, as well as to take a bath if I wanted and to drink whatever liquids I wanted.  She left for a few hours, and we continued what we had been doing.  I did take one long bath, which was definitely a big help with the pain.  We continued walking, and Shelly would do small exercises with me in the halls.  It truly was a huge blessing to have Shelly there because she literally stayed by my side and did everything with me throughout the entire labor.  I felt so encouraged having her and my mom there because I knew they had done natural childbirth before.  And Matt was the most steady, amazing help to have as well.  I also had various other visitors during labor, including my best friend Krystil, my sister-in-law Mandy, and even my dad for a little while. 

Smiling with Shelly and Matt between contractions

 When Dr. Bray came back in the afternoon, I was 8 cm dilated.  We kept moving as much as we could, but the contractions were getting super intense to where it was hard for me to relax quickly enough when I was up walking.  I ended up spending a good amount of time laboring in the bed lying on my sides.  I had thought I would want to avoid the bed altogether, but it ended up being the only place I could completely relax my body.  Somewhere around this time the nurses changed shifts, and at the recommendation of a friend we requested a nurse named Claudette, whom we heard was very experienced with natural births.  Claudette ended up being amazing!

 Two hours later I was still at 8 cm, so after Dr. Bray assured me the baby’s head was far enough down that it wasn’t dangerous, I let her break my water to try to speed things up.  I wanted to avoid all interventions, but I was also prepared to make decisions like this.  I had already been awake and in labor for 36 hours and was losing energy, so Matt and I felt comfortable having my water broken artificially since I was so close and the baby had moved down far enough.

 The warm gush I felt was definitely the weirdest feeling ever, but things did pick up pretty fast.  I was able to walk a little more, but then the contractions became almost unbearable.  I was shaking and cold and hot all at the same time.  I ended up back in the bed on my sides so that I could relax better.  By this point I had my final labor “team” in the room with me, including Matt, my mom, Shelly, and my best friend Krystil. 

 Dr. Bray checked me again, and I was 9 cm dilated.  She thought the baby’s head was slightly off center from the ideal position, so she had me spend the next 45 minutes or so switching side to side with my legs positioned to help move the baby to where he needed to be.  The contractions were terrible, lasting over two minutes with probably less than 30 seconds of rest in between.  It took several people to help me turn from side to side because I was shaking so much.  During one turn I got a huge wave of nausea and ended up throwing up all the fluids I had been drinking (and the small amounts of food I had been “sneaking” for energy).  Dr. Bray thought that the vomiting may have helped me dilate more, so she checked again.  I was just short of 10 cm dilated, with what is called an anterior lip of cervix, but I was having an overwhelming urge to push.  Dr. Bray decided to let me go ahead and start pushing!

 The ending was a bit traumatic for me, and looking back I really wish they had made me wait to push.  I think my body was just not really ready yet, so the hour of pushing was dramatic and stressful for the baby.  I had trouble pushing effectively for a while and was a little overwhelmed by all the voices talking to me (I had my eyes closed still).  They started putting an oxygen mask up to my face between contractions, and even in my altered mental state I knew that meant the baby was having some distress.  After a few pushes, Claudette got in my face and sternly told me that I could do it, I had to do it, and explained how she wanted me to push.  She got through to me, and I became much more effective after that.  I was able to push the baby’s head past the lip of cervix, and then he started coming down really fast.  Someone got a mirror so I could see his head.  That was great motivation!  I waited until Dr. Bray said it was okay to push again, and then basically pushed the baby out in one push. 

 And little Samuel Edward Elliott was here!  They put him on my chest for only a few seconds at first, and Matt cut the umbilical cord.  Then they took Samuel to the warmer so they could have oxygen flowing near his face and assess him.  Claudette explained to me that Samuel had been in a bit of distress, as I thought.  His heart decelerated during pushes, which is normal, but then it was slow to recover back up to its normal rate.  Matt went across the room with Samuel, and I heard Samuel crying within a few seconds and knew that he was okay.  Then I noticed that there was still a lot of activity around me and realized that I had a lot of bleeding.  They used medication to get the bleeding under control fast, and then Dr. Bray sewed up my two small tears.  After what seemed like an eternity, they brought baby Samuel back over to me and let me have over 30 minutes of skin to skin time with him.  He was perfect!  He cried and cried, and it was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.  I was, and still am, in such awe of our perfect little baby.  I know Matt cried, but I don’t think I did at the time (the weeks since are another story!) because I just couldn’t do anything but stare at him and smile.

 After 42 weeks of pregnancy and 42 hours of labor, we finally had our precious baby boy!  Samuel weighed 7 pounds and 11.5 ounces, and was 21 inches long.  His eyes are bluish/grayish with potential to stay blue, and his hair is very light.  It has been almost four weeks since he was born, and we are all doing really well.  Breastfeeding is going well, and Samuel has surpassed his birth weight by about a pound.  He is happy most of the time, and he has already started smiling and interacting a lot.  After weeks of staying up until 2:00 a.m. before starting our “nighttime” sleeping, he seems to have adjusted a bit better and is now going to sleep at more desirable times.  As for me, recovery has been amazing!  I was pretty sore for a couple weeks, but things have been on the upswing since then.  I am feeling pretty much normal at this point other than being a bit sleep-deprived, which is amazing and faster than I was expecting to recover.  My emotions have been a roller coaster but are mellowing out also.  Motherhood has been an adventure so far with lots of little challenges, but I love my little baby so much and enjoy every minute of my time with him.  Matt is a complete natural at being a daddy, and seeing him interacting with Samuel is my favorite thing ever.  I love my little family and am so excited about our future.  I pray daily that God will guide us and teach us how to grow this amazing little baby he has trusted us with.

Our new little family :)

Our Sammy

We did have professional newborn pictures done, so I will update with those soon as well!

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Cute.

Leah’s new PJs.  I die.

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Rewind

How’s that for consistency?

The last few months have been full of the usual and some extras, so I’ll just take a few minutes to catch you up.

August was crazy busy with mostly work and a little fun.  We went “live” with our new computer charting at work, so I stayed busy with a couple trainings, plus some mental annoyance/exhaustion during the process, plus working a couple of overtime shifts since there was so much available.  It’s crazy that this was only a few months ago because it feels like we’ve been charting this way forever already.  It can be frustrating at times to always feel connected to a computer, but really it is less work for me as a nurse overall. 

At the end of August I took an impromptu solo trip to Virginia to see my sister Marissa and her family.  I just needed some mountains and some sister-time.  :)  We had fun driving around the mountains and playing with the kids.

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Then, my good friend and former roomie Tina got married!!  Gorgeous wedding!!

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Labor Day weekend was the amazing 2nd Annual Reunion of my college best friends!  Jessica flew in all the way from Switzerland.  Carli, Rachel, and Jenny drove from all around Florida, and we reunited at my house.  We really didn’t do a whole lot – mostly just laid around and talked and cooked and ate.  Jess and Jenny are both pregnant, so we felt baby kicking and discussed baby names.  We dreamed about Rachel’s upcoming wedding.  We learned about this fun new life Carli is living in Jacksonville.  We went to the beach and drank Slurpees and took Jess to get all the foods she’s been craving but can’t get in Switzerland.  We shopped a little.  We took a step back from our everyday lives to reconnect and relax, and it was wonderful. 

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The end of September brought another little reunion, this time with my nursing school friends.  Two of them, Rebekah and Casey, just got married last month, so several of us were together for Rebekah’s bridal shower.  The shower and the wedding were such a sweet times with sweet friends.

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October was full of changes and fun times.  My sister Keri and her family moved back to Florida and have been staying with us since.  Her husband, Marc, accepted a job as the Family Ministries Pastor at a church in St. Pete, so they are staying with us while they search for houses and get adjusted.  Little Leah has been a blast to have around.  She keeps us all entertained for sure. 

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Krystil and Kaley come over for dinner pretty regularly, and Leah just LOVES “baby Kaley.”  Kaley turned one year old in November.  Time flies!!  I am so thankful that I get to live close to my best friend Krystil and see Kaley grow up.

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We celebrated a ton of family birthdays in October/early November. 

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And for Halloween we volunteered at the Fall Festival at Marc’s church.  I helped at the medical tent for a while, and we used Matt’s truck as one of the “Trunk or Treat” vehicles where we handed out candy.  Matt went all out by dressing up as a pirate with a peg leg and even turning the truck into a pirate ship.

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Keri and Marc did a jungle theme, and Leah was the cutest little elephant.

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Thanksgiving was an adventure this year!  Keri, Leah, and I drove up to Marissa’s house in Virginia, with a one-night stop in Georgia to visit our Aunt Genny.  The drive was long but scenic and enjoyable.  Matt and Marc flew up to meet us a few days later, and then we were ALL there – mom and all the sisters and families.  We had a lot of people in one house, and it was a little bit crazy.  The kids loved the time to play together, and I loved being with all my sisters and kiddos.  Unfortunately, there was some sickness going around.  :(  Shelly and two of her kids had strep, and Elijah was throwing up for 24 hours at one point.  I got a bad cold and lost my voice at the end, and actually just got on antibiotics for a sinus infection.  But everyone is better now.  :)

Leah just loooved the road trip.  Not.

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I went to a place called Stone Mountain with Ben, the Smith kids, and some friends.  We climbed up a zillion stairs and got to play on a crazy steep rock face/mountaintop.  It was gorgeous!

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The kids were adorable in their cold weather gear.

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Nate said, “Uncle Matt’s gonna build me a BIG fire!”  And so Matt did.  :)

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My mom babysat one day so the eight of us (plus baby Grace) could go on a grown-up hike.  We went to a place called Grayson Highlands, and it was beautiful.

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Now we are back home and back to normal.  Well, as normal as they can get around here.  :)

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Things I’ve learned about myself

I am not one to do things “just because.”  My mind is busy, and there is always a motive for my actions, even if it is buried deep in my mind and makes no sense to others (aka Matt) or even myself.  Random, but something I’ve seen evidence of a lot lately. 

I could never be a workaholic.  I worked 20 hours of overtime last week between an extra shift and a computer training I had to go to, and I am still recovering.  The money is nice, but my feet hurt and I don’t like how it turns a job I usually enjoy into something I dread.  Also, being around work more means I see more people and hear more work gossip and become more frustrated with the work drama, which has been at an all-time high lately.  I have learned to walk away/try to change the subject, but sometimes it is just exhausting.  I love my nights off.

I am terrible at sharing news with people!  Well, really what I’m terrible at is making sure I share important news with all the people who should hear it.  I could blame it on being busy or the fact that I just have so many family members and friends to include that I forget who I even told, but that is a cop-out.  I need to be responsible and intentional about these things.  So, for anyone who has not heard…  Matt got a new job!!  He applied last month for a position in another department at TECO, interviewed a couple weeks ago, and was offered the job last week.  He will be working in internal auditing.  It is cool because it was just one of those things that came along at the perfect time.  He took an Auditing 1 class last fall, then Auditing 2 this spring, all a part of his working on a 5th year of accounting classes so he can take the CPA exam.  This job was listed just as he was finishing that class, and he was uniquely qualified for the job, plus the added benefit of being from within the company.  With this job he will get great experience, be more involved with different aspects of the company, and have more opportunities to grow and advance.  Plus, it’s more moolah.  He will be transitioning over to his new department over the next couple weeks, and he is very excited about it.  :) 

Another piece of news is that Matt got a new truck last weekend.  He is very excited about it.  He traded in the Jetta and got very nearly what we owed on it, and is now the proud owner of a 2007 Ford Explorer SportTrak.  It is black and nice and he loves it so much that when he came home from work the other day he spent 10 minutes washing off “all the bird poop!” from the hood before he even came inside after work. 

Also, more news…  This little cutie is here to visit:

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I sure do love getting to see my babies!!

I totally get my motivation from having goals/plans.  My running has gone downhill lately, and I think it is mostly because I don’t have a current race/goal that I am training for.  The smothering heat and humidity are also part of the problem, but mostly it’s the goal thing.  I have decided my next goal is just to work up to doing a speedy 5K, but I have yet to sign up for a specific race.  Summer is definitely not race season here, so I am thinking maybe an early fall race.  Details to come once I decide.

I leave you with some pics of the pretty flowers popping up around the yard lately.

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And my mixed herb garden which has turned into a basil garden.

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Is it really almost August already!?

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Back to reality

May was a great month of traveling and fun, and I didn’t want to return to real life!!

In early May, Matt and I spent a few nights in Orlando for a work conference put on by a tax software company that he uses.  We stayed a the Ritz-Carlton!  It was so fancy and nice, and we did not fit in, but we enjoyed it immensely.  :)

I don’t have any of the pictures I took during our stay because I accidently deleted a ton of pics from my camera, but let’s just say it was nice and relaxing.  We went a day early so we could celebrate our 1st anniversary early since I was going to be out of town for the real day.  We had a nice dinner, then spent the whole next day lounging by the pool.  It was fabulous!  The next two dinners were part of the conference, and I was invited along.  The food was good, and the company was great.  I really enjoyed getting to know a couple of Matt’s coworkers and family.  The last day of the conference was a half day, then everyone went to Disney!  I tagged along, and we had so much fun.  I wish I had a pic (or even better, a video!) of Matt riding Thunder Mountain!  He was hilarious – arms in the air, big goofy smile.  I love him.  :)  I also got to spend time with three friends from nursing school that I never get to see – Christi, Rebekah, and Kim all came to visit me.  Great mini-vacay!

Two weeks later I was on a plane to Portland, Oregon!!  My sister Shelly was the matron-of-honor in a friend’s wedding out there, and I went along to help out with the new baby.  Shelly met the bride, Caroline, when they were 10 or so, and they grew up together in a tight-knit group of friends.  It was fun and interesting to see Caroline and her family and the other friends for the first time in so long – as a grown-up and not the much younger sister.  I loved spending so much quality time with Shelly, and I loved helping with the baby!  Grace was so sweet and cuddly the whole time.  Loved it!  (Shelly: I apologize again for deleting the pictures!!!)

I returned late at night on our anniversary, so I only got to see Matt while he was sleeping.  :(  We still had a great anniversary celebration, though!

I worked a couple nights, then we were off again!  This time we headed to Brevard, North Carolina for a family reunion with Matt’s mom’s side of the family.  We drove to Atlanta first and spent a night with Josh, Mandy, and Luke.  Then, we all headed to Brevard the following morning.  I love driving those beautiful mountain roads.

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Most of the reunion planning was done by Matt’s great aunt, Greta.  Her “excuse” for the occasion was to celebrate her 75th birthday.  Happy 75th birthday, Greta!  So glad we got to celebrate your 3/4 century with you!

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Our time in NC was very relaxing!  We stayed at a nice Holiday Inn Express that had yummy breakfast (everyone’s favorite amenity), and spent our days with family.  We enjoyed getting to know some more distant family members during catered meals and game nights.  I think I played more cards/games there than I have in the past five years.  It was a ton of fun.

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We happened to be in town during the annual White Squirrel Festival, so we also ventured out to enjoy some of the festivities.  First, Josh and I ran in the White Squirrel 10K!!  (No pics, but I am hoping to get my “finish” pics from my mother-in-law, Robin.)  The race went pretty well.  It was very HILLY!!  The last 1.5 miles was almost all uphill!!  Josh and I both missed our ideal “goal” times by about 5 minutes due to the hills, but it was still a great run.  My official time was 1:04:50, which is a 10:26 pace.  The last 0.2 was sprinted in – with Matt by my side!!!  He met me at the top of the last hill and pushed me on to the finish like the wonderful husband he is!  I am positive I could have broken 1 hour on flatter ground.  Just another goal to reach!  :)

We went downtown for part of the festival and enjoyed watching some of the boxcar races and some live music.

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Note Josh’s race tee  :)

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I got to see a white squirrel!

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During one free afternoon, Matt and I drove up the mountain a little ways to see a waterfall.  It was gorgeous!

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We kept driving up and went to Sliding Rock!  We met up with Ed and Robin plus Josh, Mandy, and Luke there.  Sliding Rock is a natural waterslide.  It was very crowded and the water very cold, so we just watched the many many people going down. 

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Luke really enjoyed watching the other people slide down, but he wouldn’t go near the water.

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Overall, the reunion was a blast.  We really enjoyed spending so much time with family and just being away for a while.  Looking forward to the next reunion!!

My sister Marissa and her family live in Virginia, about 4 hours from where we were in NC.  We had plans to meet up with them in the middle on Memorial Day.  We were planning to do a day of hiking and playing in nature off the Blue Ridge Parkway, which I was so excited about.  Unfortunately, it was pouring that day, so we had to change plans.  We met the Smiths in Charlotte at a kids’ science museum.  We spent all afternoon together and ate dinner before saying goodbye.  Such a fun day!!  I love seeing my sister and fam!!

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Abi looks cute as ever with a new hair-do due to a little incident with the scissors:

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Matt had fun exploring with the kiddos.

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Elijah was just plain adorable!

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Hannah the little fashion designer made a shoe out of duct tape at one exhibit.

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Sweet big brother:

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Sweet daddy:

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Jacob and Hannah are so cute together.

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Hannah and me in our giant sunglasses.  She says, “We look like bugs!”

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Our NC trip was wonderful!  So much fun with family!

I did the math and figured out that I spent 14 nights at hotels in the month of May.  I also spent 11 nights at work, which totals 25.  That leaves 6 nights that I actually spent in my own bed (+the days between working).  I guess there are some benefits of returning to reality, namely a more normal schedule.

I’ve now been back at work for a week and feel exhausted.  Every night was busy this week.  My feet ache more than usual, but I think that just tells me I really need to invest in some new work shoes.  So looking forward to 2 nights off.

I think this is my longest post ever.  The longer I wait, the more there is to say!

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Sorry

…I’ve been MIA.  We’ve been busy with work and other exciting things, such as hanging out at the Ritz-Carlton.  You know, the usual.

Anyway, I have other adventures in Oregon and North Carolina coming up these next two weeks, so who knows when I will have a real update.  I just don’t have the time or energy to do a lengthy post right now. 

My 10K is next Saturday in NC, so wish me luck!  I have been training hard and covered the distance already; I am just nervous about the hills!

See ya when I see ya!

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Jacob is 13!

It’s kinda crazy to be my age and have a nephew that is now a teenager, but it’s true. 

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I became an aunt when I was 11.  Jacob is the oldest and will always have a special place in all of our hearts.  As the only baby around for a couple of years, he was extra-spoiled and constantly oogled over.  It was Jake that showed me that sometimes it’s worth it to look like a fool just to make a baby laugh.  :)

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And now he is a handsome teenager.  :)  Jake is such a sweet and helpful big brother and son.  He is very smart and very athletic.  He was even nice enough to be an usher in our wedding.

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Happy Birthday, Jake!!  We love you and are so proud of you!

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