Monday, July 17, 2017

Emmie goes to Greenville

Last week Emmie got to go to Greenville by herself to stay with my parents for a few days. She was SO excited and had a great time! She was a little nervous about going and had to make sure to get big hugs from all of us and she definitely FaceTimed us more than the other kids did when they were gone. She had lots of fun though and can't wait to go back!


She started out getting a PB&J sandwich in the car on the way to Greenville...a big treat in our family!
They had to first make a trip to TCBY! I think Ellie has convinced her sisters that they love TCBY as much as she does!
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Gran took Emmie to the store to pick out a new coloring book and crayons and a new Barbie. She also picked out a treat for each of her siblings and my super Type A child remembered there were glue sticks on her back to school supply list and so she got a pack for her and one for Ellie.
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She went to the pool with Gran and Grandaddy.
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She helped Gran with the dishes. She loves to help clean!
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They made chocolate chip cookies to bring back home for Ellie's birthday.
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They went to the Children's Museum. Greenville has a great children's museum and the kids have been once or twice before and absolutely loved it! Emmie had such a great time that she spent FOUR hours there before my mom convinced her that maybe they should leave since it was 2pm and she still hadn't had lunch!
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My mom said Emmie spent a ridiculous amount of time organizing the grocery store shelves. She's so Type A!



The family that lives across the street from my mom has 4 kids who are all about the same age as my kids. Emmie and Kesley are big buddies and playing with Kesley was at the top of Emmie's Grennvile to do list! They had a wonderful time!
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Emmie helped Gran make biscuits to bring back to Columbia. Everyone was very excited to see the biscuits but nobody was as excited as JP who had inhaled at least 2 of them within about 10 minutes of my mom walking through the door!
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Emmie got to go to Jelly Beans to get her hair cut. The kids love to do this when they go to Greenville!
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She went to Grandaddy's office to visit. She happened to be there while they were having an ice cream party! She told Grandaddy that she was pretty sure mommy wouldn't have given her that much ice cream!
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She finished her Greenville trip with lunch with Gran and Grandaddy at Chick-fil-a.
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We were pretty happy to get our Emmie back! Ellie learned after Emmie went to GiGi and Papa's house that she does not like being the oldest...too much responsibility! The kids all missed having Emmie around.

Funny story: We told Ruthie a long time ago that everyone has to have a visit with the grandparents before she gets to go again. Apparently she thought that meant she got to go IMMEDIATELY after everyone had a turn because she couldn't quite understand why I wasn't packing her bags so she could go back to Greenville with Gran! We're pretty sure when she does go back she'll have to stay for a month...she comes up with new things she wants to do every few days and has me call Gran so she can tell her. The list is probably a few pages long by now!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Ellie!





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Dear Ellie,

Happy 6th Birthday sweet girl!

It is so hard to believe that you are 6 years old and about to start first grade! This has been a year of many firsts for you. You started elementary school, started taking golf lessons, started piano lessons,  you learned to ready, and you decided that being the oldest child is not so much fun (you have to do WAY too much!).

I love your sweet personality. You tend to just go along with whatever is going on. You rarely get too upset or too excited. (As a side note, we refer to you as "eyeore" as when you're disappointed you will look at us with your big eyes, yoru shoulders will droop, and you'll say "it's okay". Honestly, it gets you what you want almost every time...especially if there's a grandparent involved!) Your even keel personality makes your "excited" moments SO much fun! I LOVE when we find something that truly excites you. You love celebrations and you love traditions. You get really excited about things such as Christmas Eve (when we have treats and watch a movie) and your birthday. You spent all year planning what we would do today and it made me so happy to hear you say multiple times that this was "the best birthday EVER"! (Which is what you say every year and I love it!) I am so glad that your 6th birthday lived up to all of your expectations.

Ellie, I love the joy you find in the simple things in life. You definitely get excited about things such as new toys but you find true joy in people and experiences. You love getting to spend time with family. You don't have hoards of friends but the friends you have you love dearly and they mean the world to you and I know you are such a good friend.
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I love how comfortable you are with yourself. You are, and always have been, so content to just BE. You love to play with friends or with your sisters but you are also very happy to play by yourself and sometimes  you will just separate yourself from everyone else and go spend some time alone. You are definitely my introvert!

I have always assumed that you were a follower. You have always just gone along with what Emmie wanted you to do and been happy to follow along. I  have been fascinated watching you in school this year as you have been a leader in your class. I can't wait to see these leadership skills develop as you get older!

You are also my logical and perceptive child. You have always been my child that notices the little details in life that other people so often overlook. I love seeing life through your perspective. You are SO smart. It is very hard to pull things over on you. You are quick to "put the pieces" together. I have always been amazed by your law-gi-cal mind. 

You had such a great year in kindergarten this year. I wasn't sure how you would feel about kindergarten since you pretty much learned everything along with Emmie last year and you tend to be my lazier child. I was a bit worried that you would be bored since you knew most of the material already. However, you LOVED every minute of school. You loved your teacher and your friends. We discovered that you have a love for art and you looked forward to art class each week. We were pretty impressed with some of the stuff you brought home! You did very well in math and your teacher always commented on how well you grasped the concepts being taught. This spring you started reading on your own and you are now reading chapter books! You LOVE to read. You always come out to the car with a book in your hand and it makes me smile and reminds me of myself. I am SO happy that you love books! I have also loved seeing how different your tastes are as compared to Emmie. The books you gravitate towards are often books that I got for Emmie and she never picked up. I love that you are your OWN person. This year we saw your writing improve leaps and bounds. You always struggled with writing and at the beginning of the year I would have to sit with you and help you with every single letter. At the end of the year your teacher told me how much you love to write. She said that she would ask everyone to write a sentence or two and you would write a paragraph! It made me so proud to know that not only had you improved but you had mastered an area that was difficult for you!

Ellie you make me laugh every day. I just never know what is going to come out of your mouth. You definitely don't have a filter! Whatever you are thinking just pops right out. My favorite is when you pop out a big word. You LOVE words and you love learning new words and the bigger the better!

Ellie I am so thankful every day for you. I often think of those first few months of your life that were SO hard. I think of how we struggled to get you to eat and sleep and just how grumpy you were. I never dreamed that you would have turned into such a laid back, happy kid.

I am so looking forward to what this year brings. You're starting first grade, going to Disney World, and many more fun adventures!

I love you Ellie Belly!


2011
2012

2013
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2014

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2015

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2016


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

21 Months

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I am 21 months old!

  • I wear size 18-24mo clothes (more on the 18mo side for shorts and 24mo for shirts) and size 5/6 shoes. I wear a size 4 or 5 diaper.
  • I sleep from 8pm -7:30/8am. I take a 1.5-3hr nap after lunch. I am super easy to put to bed. Mommy reads me a book, sings Jesus Loves Me, gives me my Clifford, pillow, blanket, and a handful of pacifiers and I am set to go!
  • This month Gran kept me while Ruthie got her tonsils out. She took away my paci during the day! It was rough going at first but now I only use my paci in the crib and the car (after a few days of me screaming everywhere we went Mommy caved on the paci in the car). I am very good about going and putting my paci in the crib if I find one laying around the house during the day.
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I still love Gran even though she took my paci.

  • I love to eat. Peaches and popcorn are my favorite foods right now (although not together!). I also have discovered M&Ms. I think they are delicious and I love them so much I'll ask for them by name! I still love scrambled eggs too!
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  • I am loving the pool this summer. I have a puddle jumper and I have learned how to get myself around the pool.
  • I have started talking a little bit more. Not a lot still but more than last month.
  • This month I went to Summerville to visit GiGi and Papa. I had lots of fun!
  • This month I went to the beach. I had a great week with family. At first I wasn't so sure about the ocean but by the middle of the week I had decided that the ocean was great!
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  • Between spending time with him at the beach and spending a weekend in Greenville I decided that Grandaddy was my buddy. I followed him everywhere he went! I do the same thing with Papa and Daddy and I was quick to latch on to Uncle Ben when he came to our house before the beach...us boys have to stick together!
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  • I LOVE to give hugs! Whenever my sisters cry I run and give them a hug. I get VERY concerned when they are sad. Sometimes my sisters will pretend to cry to get a hug from me!
  • I can climb on just about anything.
  • I love to throw things!
  • I have spent a lot of time at swim meets this summer. Mommy is very glad that I'm pretty good natured about the whole thing!
  • When I get mad I will often crawl under the barstool and scream. It's like my own self imposed time out spot!
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  • More and more Mommy is seeing me play imagination games.
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I pointed to the basket and told Ruthie it was a "bus".

  • I love to read. Unfortunately for the readers I like to read the same books over and over and over again. Some of my current favorites are any Clifford books and Brown Bear.
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  • I am starting to want to be more in the middle of what my sisters are doing.
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TROUBLE!

  • I love bugs. I always point them out and I usually try to pick them up.
  • I'm obsessed with dogs.
  • I like to make funny noises and I will imitate any noise that other people make.
  • I still don't like cake but I do LOVE cookies and am starting to like ice cream more. Gran made me gingerbread cookies and I think it's funny to bite the heads off.
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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Seizures

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This post is hard to write and I have started it many times but I just haven't been emotionally ready.

Yesterday we saw the pediatric neurologist and Emmie was diagnosed with absence seizures.

Absence seizures (previously known as petit-mal seizures) are generally short (Emmie's are 5-15 seconds) and are often mistaken for staring spells. This was the case for us at first where we thought she was just zoning out. Since mid June we have been seeing more of her eyes going back or deviating to the side and rapid eyelid fluttering.

As you can imagine, life has been a bit of a rollercoaster lately. At the end of May we realized that Emmie might be having seizures. We think they started mid April (she definitely was having them by the beginning of May). We saw the pediatrician at the end of May and I showed her a video we had of Emmie just doing something "odd". She referred us to peds neuro to get checked out.

June 10 we got back from the beach and for the first time Paul and I saw Emmie have what we both knew immediately was a seizure. She stopped talking mid sentence, her eyes rolled back, and her eyelids fluttered rapidly.

Up until this point I think we had both been holding out hope that we were wrong and that she was just spacing out. It was sickening to lose that hope.

We've continued to see seizures almost daily. My stomach would bottom out and I would feel sick every time I saw her have one. There were many times I had to hold back tears when I would see her have a seizure. I didn't want my child to have to go through this. I didn't want to have to explain to my 7 year old what a seizure was or an EEG. Honestly for a few weeks there life was really tough and I was really sad.

We weren't supposed to see the neurologist until the end of July but I have a friend who worked in peds neuro for many years and she was so helpful in giving me ideas for ways we could move forward faster. We were able to get in for an EEG at the end of June (on my birthday...might go down as the worst way I have ever spent my birthday). Then that EEG was normal which was so upsetting as by that point we were seeing what were clearly seizures. Not long after the EEG I got two really good videos of her seizures. My friend looked at the videos (as an aside...I bugged her a lot during the month of June and she was always so kind and helpful) and encouraged me to get them to the pediatrician and the neurologist in hopes that someone would order further EEG testing that we could do before seeing the neurologist at the end of July. I made LOTS of phone calls to and from the pediatrician's office and then to and from the neurologist's office. My big concern was really that we would see the neurologist at the end of July, he would want more testing which would get done in August and then we'd be starting school while she was starting on her medicine. In the end, the neurologist's office said I could come in this week and show the doctor the video and he'd let us know if he wanted any other tests done. The neurologist looked at the video, talked to me for a few minutes, and decided to work Emmie in for an appointment 20 minutes later to get a full history and physical and start her on medicine.

I thought it would be emotionally hard when we finally got the official diagnosis but honestly, it didn't feel much different and was maybe even a bit of a relief. I think over the past few weeks I have grieved and come to terms with her diagnosis. Let me tell you, the grieving process was awful. There were many, many tears. I would sit and watch the video of her seizing over and over. And then I'd cry some more.

Having to fight for your child is absolutely draining. No sooner had we finally gotten Ruthie's tonsils taken out (after a week long battle with the insurance company back in April) then we started worrying about Emmie. My mama's heart just couldn't handle the weight.

Emmie had a lot of questions about the EEG and was pretty nervous about it but after the EEG she didn't say anything else about it. She doesn't ever realize that she's having seizures so I think once the EEG was over she just thought all of it was over. After we saw the neurologist and picked up her medicine from the pharmacy she had a few questions about why she needed medicine and what exactly a seizure was. I tried to explain it as best I could and she seemed satisfied with my explanation. I told someone that the good thing is that because she's so young she has no negative connotations when I say "seizures". To her it's no different than me saying she has strep throat or an ear infection.

Through the dark moments there have also been good moments. There were times when things would get a little better. I mentioned Emmie having seizures to a friend and she put me in touch with another mom (we actually have a lot of mutual friends) who's daughter is Emmie age and was diagnosed a little over a year ago with absence seizures. She was so sweet and talked to me for over an hour one night. She understood how I felt and that was a huge comfort. She was able to answer many of my questions about what to expect at doctor's appointments and what questions I might need to ask. Talking with someone who had walked this path recently was definitely a bright spot in the middle of feeling so dark.

One of the biggest blessings, as we deal with this new diagnosis, is Emmie's teacher. I wrote about it in an earlier post, but Emmie's 1st grade teacher is looping up to 2nd grade with her class. We were SO excited when we found out (because we just love her) but now I'm even MORE excited. To start the year with a teacher who already knows Emmie and what is "normal" for her is just an amazing blessing.

As we start this journey we hope that Emmie will outgrow her seizures. We hope the medicine will quickly control them so that when school starts she will be seizure free. We hope it doesn't affect her friendships or her school work or her extracurricular activities. Most of all we hope she always remembers that, while she has seizures, they do not define who she is. She is still our loud, vibrant, loving Emmie!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Kiawah Island 2017

We kicked off our summer with a week long trip to Kiawah Island with my family. We had SUCH a great time. The house we stay at is right across from the beach and has a pool in the backyard so we pretty much spend most of our waking hours in the water!
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Ben and Ruth drove got to our house from Mississippi on Friday and spent the night with us. The kids were SO excited that Uncle Ben and Aunt Ruth were spending the night...they LOVE to have people sleep over!
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The girls LOVE to read with Aunt Ruth! They were really excited that she brought a big box of books to read with them at the beach.
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JP was quite attached to Uncle Ben! We FaceTime with Ben and Ruth about once a week so even though JP probably doesn't remember seeing them at Christmas, he still knows who they are!

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Franklin was glad to get some cuddle time with Uncle Ben.
Friday we had hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner and then took Ben and Ruth to get Pelican's. So I should preface this next part of the story (and our whole vacation trip) by saying that a week before I had a stomach virus (and so did Paul's dad...they had been at our house and had gone home about 12 hours before we both got sick so pretty sure we had the same virus). Then Thursday morning Ruthie threw up a few times. But the last time she threw up was 11am Thursday so I warned Ben and Ruth but everyone was still fine Friday morning when they left Mississippi to drive to our house. Well Saturday at 4am Ellie threw up ALL OVER the carpet in her room. Paul, being the best husband ever, heard her and got up and cleaned it up (hint: if you can't find the carpet cleaner DON'T dump Lysol on puke smelling carpet...the smell is atrocious) and I woke up about the time he had everything cleaned up and got Ellie bathed real quick and helped rearrange beds since she had been sleeping on the top bunk. Saturday morning, after the excitement of 4am, Paul and Ellie slept in and the rest of us headed out to Famous Toastery for a super yummy breakfast! Everyone played outside for a bit after breakfast (Ben and Ruth were trying to stay out of the germy house!) and Paul packed up the car. By lunch Emmie was starting to feel bad so I gave Emmie and Ellie some Zofran and we headed out to the beach and hoped nobody else got sick!

Monday, Fred and Gin-g came and celebrated Ellie and JP's birthdays with us. (Yes, I know JP isn't until September but we do family parties twice a year so the summer babies and the winter babies get grouped together whenever that may be.) JP was mostly oblivious to the whole birthday thing but Ellie was SO excited. She LOVES her family party. She plans for it all year long! We opened presents, ate a delicious dinner, had chocolate cake with chocolate icing (Ellie's request) and my dad's homemade cookies and cream ice cream. We finished off our birthday celebration with Ellie wanting to ride her bike...and of course it was pouring rain. Mom of the year (that would be me) went out in the pouring rain and rode around with her. I told her that she should never doubt that I love her!
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Birthday Hat!
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Ellie was very excited to get a Baby Alive doll like her sisters! (They got them for their birthdays this past year.)
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My mom made JP gingerbread cookies since he's not a big cake fan.
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ice cream!
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Grandparents with the grandbabies.
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The Rainey side of the family. Ruthie was NOT happy about taking pictures!
Our days fell into a nice routine. We would head out to the beach in the morning, head back to the house around lunchtime, eat lunch and play in the pool, put JP down for a nap, continue playing in the pool, ride bikes or have some inside time. We would often head back to the beach for a bit after JP's nap and then get back to the house in time for dinner. While we were at Kiawah Ben, Paul, and my dad managed to get in 2 rounds of golf which Paul always thoroughly enjoys!
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hanging out at the beach with Aunt Ruth
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Ellie LOVES to roll in the sand!
JP's favorite part of the beach was smashing sandcastles!


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GiGi and PaPa brought new bathing suits for everyone....they were quite excited!

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JP wasn't so sure about the ocean at the beginning of the week but by halfway through he thought it was great!
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We had some cooler, rainy days and so we headed to the park one morning which was fun. Usually it's too hot to go play at the park and there's generally not anyone there. Because of the cool weather there were lots of other kids at the park so my kiddos had a great time playing!
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The park is a short ride down the bike path and it was very doable with all 3 kiddos on wheels. Emmie and Ellie on bikes and Ruthie on the scooter. Ruthie was FLYING on the scooter...she has definitely mastered the scooter much better than her sisters every did!
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Emmie was really excited to ride her bike all over the island this year. We tried to convince Ellie to give up the training wheels while we were at the beach this year but she wasn't quite ready. I'm pretty sure next year she'll be riding around the island with us!
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We rode to the Marsh Tower a few times while we were at the beach. It's Emmie's favorite place to go!
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I also got in some bike rides. I rode to the Ocean Course with my dad and then again with Paul and Ruth.
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Early on in the week the girls (and JP) found some friends at the beach. There were 2 families staying in a house just down from us and they had 3 little girls around Ellie and Ruthie's ages and a little boy around JP's age. The kids had a great time playing at the beach together!
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Emmie holding court.

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The kids put the dads to work making mermaid tails!
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Ben and Ruth had a BIG surprise for us at the beach. They brought their cotton candy machine and many different flavors of cotton candy! The kids were SO excited! Ruth made cotton candy for us a few times during the week. Ruthie wasn't a fan but everybody else loved it. We were really surprised that JP, who doesn't eat too many sweets, thought it was delicious!

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We had some lovely walks on the beach.
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Gran and JP on the beach.
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Evening walk with a full moon.

We took a quick afternoon trip to see Angel Oak.
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(Ellie opted to stay at the house with Gran...she went and saw Angel Oak when she visited GiGi and PaPa)
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And of course we had lots of fun just hanging out together!
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We played games most nights after the kids went to bed. Cranium was quite entertaining...especially since 3 out of the 4 of us are seriously lacking in the pop culture category.
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Ellie had been looking forward to ribs for dinner for weeks before we went to the beach! They didn't disappoint.
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Franklin getting snuggles from Aunt Ruth.


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Franklin had so much fun at the beach but it was exhausting!

(Emmie clearly took notes when watching the competition company dance at the recital!)



(Oh, and the saga of the stomach virus wasn't quite over. When the Zofran wore off Saturday Ellie was back to normal but Emmie was still feeling pretty bad. She never threw up but she was quite miserable. Thursday night by dad was sick. Sunday, after they got back to Mississippi fortunately, Ben and Ruth were both sick. I think we have FINALLY purged it from the family!)

We had SO much fun at Kiawah...it was a great way to kick off the summer!