Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Old Places, New Faces- Part Two

Utah Lake at sunset. Gorgeous!

Our time in Utah was mostly spent hanging out together around the house. With Evie's fragile medical state, crowds are unsafe and she can't go into higher elevations due to the decreased oxygen. We were able to go on a couple scenic drives in the area that didn't involve going up into the mountains and the scenery was as amazing as I remembered.

Wide open spaces.
Love the combination of green and snow-capped with beautiful blue skies and puffy white clouds.
Catching a glimpse of some local pronghorn. 
The road beckons despite the storm clouds.
Kerri snuck a picture of me in my usual state--with a camera in my hand.
Oh, glorious sunset!
Happy kids heading to the playground and a picnic lunch.
James, Gracie, Millie, and Maddie. Love these kiddos!!

Kerri knows I'm always thrilled to take pictures of her sweet girls and she asked me if we could do a photo shoot with Evie on the day her feeding tube came out to be changed. She, unfortunately, didn't get newborn pictures because of the surgery and subsequent hospital stay, so we were excited to take some ourselves. So much fun!

Maddie was my beautiful assistant. 

We also did a "sisters" photo shoot with all four girls. That was much harder. Still fun, but much harder. 

They are mostly all smiling. Evie, however, is not sure about this whole thing. 
This one is the definition of sisters. Maddie is pouting, Gracie is giving her a look. Millie and Evie don't care. Hilarious!
These two asked if I'd take their picture together and then James did this. On his own. Unprompted. Good grief.
They are so sweet that I don't even care it's not totally in focus. Such a great moment.

James managed to catch a little cold while we were out there, so he had to wear a mask to try and keep Evie as safe from the germs as possible. He still desperately wanted to hold her and talk to her, though, which was super sweet. We all took turns snuggling beautiful Evie P.

She was just babbling away at him and he was pretending he understood her and they were conversing. It was adorable.
I love having that sweet baby sleeping on me. Heaven!
I'm always amazed by how much James genuinely loves babies and holding them.

Kerri and I managed to sneak off one day without the kids (Thanks, Chris!) and we had a great time exploring Antelope Island and some random dirt roads through the mountains. Because we had a Jeep. So why not?!

Kerri and me. I'm so grateful to have such an amazing person as my friend. Love this girl!

After a few weeks of fun, it was time to head home. We were sad to go, but happy to be returning to Chris and Leo.

James and Maddie on our last day together. 
James and Millie hanging out while we enjoy our last Cafe Rio lunch for a while. (It's one of my favorite Utah foods.)

On our road trip home, we were happy to stop in Golden, Colorado and see Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Jim. They hosted us for the night and James milked every ounce of playtime with Aunt Charlotte that he could.

Giving baseball a go with Aunt Charlotte in the front yard.
Riding the toy tractor down the hill in the backyard. He giggled the whole way down.
Showing off his Lego creation to Uncle Jim.
James and Aunt Charlotte. They just adore each other. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Old Places, New Faces- Part One

Our super dear friends, Chris and Kerri, had a beautiful baby girl, Evelyn Paige (whom we now call Evie P.) in March. She is their fourth daughter (readers of this blog have seen Gracie, Maddie, and Millie before) and we were thrilled to be named her godparents! At a routine ultrasound, they discovered some issues with Evie's heart and she was subsequently diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). That gorgeous little rock star baby had heart surgery at only a few days old and is scheduled for another one in August. She is doing great considering and we continue to take each of her milestones as they come. I'm so proud of what a tough little cookie she is and such a strong fighter! 

So, of course, I couldn't wait to get out to Utah and meet this little nugget of fierceness. Once she had recovered from surgery enough to go home, we made our plans to head out west. As you can imagine, having four kids is a lot of work. Having four kids where one of them has major medical issues makes things even tougher, and, unfortunately, Chris and Kerri don't have any family close enough to help out on a regular basis. They are grateful to have friends and family from all over the country who have gone out to visit and help out when they can and we were excited to take our turn there as well. Because I homeschool James, we have a lot more freedom in scheduling, so it worked out that we could be there for most of May. Since we were going to be there for so long, it made sense to drive out so we could have our own car and be able to take all the school stuff we would need to continue homeschooling while we were there. What's 2,500 miles amongst friends? 

I loved seeing our beautiful country! This was in west Texas before crossing into New Mexico.
James spotted this rock in Utah, just outside Moab, and thought it looked like BB-8 from Star Wars. 

James and I headed out on Monday, May 2 for our trip across the country, and arrived in Utah on Wednesday, May 4. Chris flew in from Orlando on the same day. He was only able to stay for about a week due to work commitments, but it was so great to all be together while we could.

Introducing Evie P. to her fairy godmother. I'm already so in love with her!
Yes. I did actually share her with Chris. For a little while. 
That's better. Loving all the snuggles. Gorgeous baby girl. 

In addition to meeting our beautiful new goddaughter, we were so excited to get to spend time with Gracie, Maddie, and Millie again. Luckily for me, the timing worked out to go to one of my favorite things in Utah-- the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point Gardens. I love to go and take pictures of the flowers, and the kids always enjoy running around together there. Good times had by all!

Love all these faces! 

The lovely Gracie girl. 
Monkey Maddie swinging from a tree.
Little Miss Millie with those incredible eyes.

My beautiful boy. In the one moment he was not moving.
What he looked like most of the time we were there. Complete with tongue hanging out. Crazy kid.

We were lucky enough to see this very cool momma owl.
And her babies. Who aren't quite babies anymore.
James and Grace. I have pictures of these two walking hand in hand through this place as toddlers.
Where does the time go??

We were also happy to see some of our friends and former neighbors from when we lived in Utah. So great to catch up with you guys!

Dinner with 3 of the 4 Taylor kids. It was such fun hanging out. Thanks again for having us over!
Reuniting with his friend, Tess. Happy to be playing together. :)
James agreed to get a haircut if Ms. Melanie did it. He looks so old now!
Climbing trees with his oldest friend, Mirai. He was super excited to see her again. 
They have been playing together since they were babies and always have such fun together! Cuties!
I have no idea what those faces are for, but they make me laugh.
Check out the beautiful mountain and clouds in the distance. I miss that view! 
These two are so cute and sweet and I just adore them. 
I got to catch up with Bronze and Symoni as well. Always fun, always a lot of laughs. Miss you guys!

After a great week all together, Chris had to leave. Which was a total bummer. I'm not sure who missed him more, me or Millie. They have such a sweet connection. Thank goodness for FaceTime!

Chris and Millie taking a selfie. How adorable are they?!
Evie lit up with smiles for Chris when he was nearby. 
Then he told her goodbye and I love that her face seems to say, "What do you mean you're leaving?"