Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Introducing Baby Ezra

Ezra Jonah Eyre
February 4, 2014
2:14 pm
8 pounds 1 ounce
21 inches long

As Po said this morning, 
"It's good to have a baby!"

Scroll down for writings on:
Ezra's Presence
His Name
The Long Labor Story, by Aja
Labor and Baby, by Jonah

Ezra's Presence
So far, Ezra is about as laid-back as they come. He was that way in utero too. He reminds us of Cam, who was also incredibly laid back. He also looks almost exactly like Cam at this age. It's the first time we've had two of our kids look alike as newborns! He's got Cam's manly nose and small lips and wide-spread big eyes. He also has Cam's long, bony legs and arms. His weight was all in his head. They differ in that Ezra has darker hair and eyes than Cam and has a longer torse, where Cam was/is more barrel chested (like a 1920s boxer). 

Ezra's an amazing nurser, which is a huge relief after the horrible five weeks of cracks and pain with Po. I used to think it was the mom that made good nursers, but after five babies, I declare that some babies are much better at it than others. He's a tad gassy/burpy, but not to the point that he's ever uncomfortable for more than a few moments. BUT, as Jonah points out, this is the honeymoon stage and he'll get his lungs in a few weeks. I'm not so sure though... with three older sisters, there's always someone willing to sooth a crying baby. 

His Name
For the first time ever, we knew exactly what the baby's name would be. In 2012, when the cabin at New Harmony, Utah burned down with all of our heirlooms, journals, photos, and memorabilia inside, we made a trip to see what, if anything survived. There were probably 30 boxes of written material, from journals to yearbooks to baby books to college theses to our favorite novels and books. None of it was legible anymore. Any of the paper that was recognizable was devoid of its ink, which burned right off the page. We found old journals now bleached completely white, which crumbled to dust as we tried to flip the pages. 

But in all of the devastation, we found three crucibles of writing. First, we found Ana's baby announcement, completely burned white except for her middle name, "Ruth". And  we found two legible sections of the ancient leather-bound family Bible. One section was the few pages about Christ's visit to Bethany. The other part, which was the largest surviving section of writing in the whole house, was the entire book of Ezra from the Old Testament. Although it transformed to dust as we handled it, we were able to take the above photo of the first page before it wafted away in the wind. Jonah suggested that we would have one more child, and his name would be Ezra. And thus is happened. 

Ezra's middle name is Jonah, after his dad of course. Not only was it important to us to pass on Jonah's heritage, but both Jonah and Ezra are the fifth in their family with three older sisters and one older brother. Plus, we liked the middle initial J. Ezra J. 

The Long Labor Story, by Aja 
(probably longer than the actual labor)

Baby Ezra arrived easily on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 4th. Although his due date wasn't until February 15th, we were anxious for his birth since all of my previous babies were born 2-3 weeks early and usually after only a few hours of labor. On January 25th (Cam's birthday), three weeks early, I had a few hours of first stage labor, so I though this baby would follow suit. Fast forward a week and a half and six more nights of 3-4 hours of first stage labor that would suddenly stop whenever it would start raining (we'd had a couple weeks of torrential downpours), and I was ready to just get it done! Plus, my mom arrived Sunday morning and she was only going to be here a week, so I definitely wanted to get the baby out while she was on island.  On Monday, the 3rd, I was 80% effaced and dilated to a four, which didn't mean much since I was dilated to a three the week before. We asked the doctor to strip my membranes, which he did, but not very vigorously. I put all my labor tricks into force on Monday night and still by Tuesday morning they felt effective but not yet painful or close enough together to warrant going to the hospital. I woke Jonah up at 4:15 am and made him take me on a long walk in the dark. Still nothing. Finally I got myself into a hot bath in our outdoor bathtub and I at least got the contractions to move from 15 minutes apart to 7 minutes apart. I started getting ready to go the hospital around 11am, and then again, the contractions stopped! I said, Jonah, forget this, let's just go to the hospital (I'm usually about ready to push before we leave). This is not what I recommend to anyone... I really recommend waiting until you can barely talk until you go, but I was too tired to go through a few more days of stalling labor, so we went. 

Once we got to the hospital, they put us in a purple delivery room. The doctor on call from the practice was Dr. Ausbeck, and she was one of our favorites. She is very calm and non-interventionist. She just had her first baby three months ago-- a natural posterior birth-- so I was glad to have her there, knowing she would be relaxed and sympathetic if I had another posterior baby. 

When I got there, I was dilated to 6-7 cms. I was mad because I've never showed up to the hospital/birth center less than an eight, but the nurses made me feel better when they said I was more dilated than anyone else there. ALSO, weird, the nurses said something must be going on because they hadn't busy at all for the last week and a half and then BOOM! they were totally full when I got there. I think I got the last room in labor and delivery. In fact, they started turning maternity recovery rooms into delivery rooms later that day. It must have been the rain.... as soon as the sun came out after the week and half of downpours, everyone on the island went into labor!

I got all settled and received my least favorite things about hospital births-- the stupid gowns and the painful stupid saline drip (I still have a lump in my wrist from it a week later!). Oh, and I also usually hate the fetal monitors, but they weren't that bad this time. I've only had one birth with the saline drip (Ana's) and two with the gowns and monitors (Ana's and Cam's). 

Again, my contractions pretty much stopped. Well, they went back to 15 minutes apart and not very painful, though I could tell they were somewhat effective. However, at this rate, I was probably four more hours out according to my previous labors. Once the painful contractions start, I have about 40 minutes, but with this minor ones, I knew it would be awhile. So, when the doctor came back in around 1:20, we had her try to rupture my amniotic sac to get things moving since I was still only at an 8 but 100% effaced. She tried, but I make some seriously tough sacs and she was only able to knick it, so she left again. About 15 minutes later (about 1:40... Jonah broke the wall clock when he tried to adjust the time to be correct, so I'm going off of what they told me later), those hard, painful, 1 minute apart contractions started and I was kicking myself for again opting out of pain relief because there was no turning back now! After about ten minutes of contractions, I started feeling a slight urge to push, so we called the nurses in to get ready. At this point, I become a deranged lunatic and start sweating profusely and can't move. Jonah was an excellent coach as usual and helped me get into a better pushing position and held my leg nice and firm (he should be a male doula... he LOVES labor and delivery and is very calm yet commanding) and got me through the worst of it until I finally started pushing around 2:00.  FINALLY, I got that noggin out at 2:13-2:14 and then the doctor yanked a little too hard to get the shoulders out and I got my first tear ever (four other big babies with no tears... sheesh), but he was out! It's the best feeling in the whole entire world to finally push the  whole baby out.

And it was a boy! What a relief. I've always worried that we'd get a surprise, but he was as he was expected. We made sure to text Cam a photo straight away so he wouldn't be worried about the baby surprising him as another sister. 

Baby was healthy, and he didn't even have a major cone head. He looked great. The nurses and doctor got me all cleaned up and we spent some time with baby until they took him to the nursery to get scrubbed squeaky clean, which my favorite part of hospital births vs. home births because those nursery nurses are pros at cleaning babies. Eventually, they moved me into my recovery room and brought me some food (yay! I was SO hungry... another least favorite part of labor) and I drank loads of coconut water with lime (my favorite drink... Jonah got me a 12-pack) and felt so relieved. 

For the first time ever, I was in a shared room (it couldn't be helped... the entire place was booked solid) with a sweet Tongan woman who unfortunately had a c-section (so she was hooked up to five monitors with alarms that went off every 15 minutes) and had a very severe snoring problem (which set off a separate alarm for low oxygen every time she fell into a deep sleep... but she was snoring so loud, she could never hear it, so I'd have to call the nurses). I was giggling all night because it was so classic that the only hospital roommate I'd ever had was so incredibly loud. The one good thing was that she didn't have her baby room in with her at night, so we didn't also have a crying baby. Oh, and at 4:30 am, she also made a long distance call to Tonga for 45 minutes. 

Later, when I checked out, I suggested to the nurses that they not give her a new roommate because someone else may not find the humor in the situation. My nurse said they had thought I would be the one person who could handle rooming with her, plus they knew I wouldn't be there long. That was true. 
I also want to remind myself of the little baby across the hall whose cry sounded EXACTLY like a kitten's mew. It was uncanny. I've never heard anything like it, well, except for kittens. 

My mom brought the kids to visit around 7 pm and they were delighted. Well, Po and Ana were delighted, and Cam and Elsie were a little indifferent. But, they've warmed up to him since we got home. 

I spent a boring 24 hours in the hospital watching TV and having some choice friends come visit. The food was actually pretty good, and I love having other people clean up after me. Plus, I love having the mechanical bed. But, it is a hospital, so I was glad to get home and have a normal night's sleep. 

And now, it's been a week. We were lucky to have my mom here for the first five days, so I was able to have lots and lots of naps. It was so great to have her here to take care of all the little things and give the other kids much needed attention, especially since Jonah was finally able to get some work done on the West Side and was gone for two full days, which I had prohibited until after the baby was born since I didn't want him so far away when I could go into labor at any time. 

All in all, this has probably been my easiest recovery so far. I'm actually able to get up and walk around without much pain! Plus, nursing is SO much better than it was with Po and Elsie, who were both tongue-tied. I am incredibly exhausted most of the time, but that's expected. Jonah's also been loading me up on iron so I won't get the shivers, which can cause me to get mastitis if I'm not careful. Jonah is also recovering well. He gets severe sympathy pains. I "tease" him that I never get to be the only one sick because he is so sensitive he takes all my pains upon himself. He really enjoys labor and delivery, but he also has a lot of underlying worry, which doesn't really release until afterwards. But, he's coming around now and is sleeping more calmly. Thanks everyone for your prayers and concern... I've powerfully felt them through all of this excitement. 

Labor and Baby, by Jonah 
(copied from an email to his mom)

Thanks so much for writing to me. His name is Ezra Jonah and he is sleeping on my chest just now. Aja's milk came in.  Aja said he nurses like a champion which I hope means she won't have as much soreness as old crappy-latcher Poem. We had a bit of an uneventful labor though for which I think we have gratitude. Aja psyched herself out numerous times and felt like she was in labor for almost two weeks. She had nice consistent contractions for five hours at a time that would get closer together and more painful, then stop abruptly for one or two or three days. Some worry and frustration were involved as her mom was coming and we never really knew what the due date was. It's pretty silly how they assign due dates and stick to them like gospel. Even after he was born at 8lbs1oz pink and healthy, they were calling him premature.  Luvy (Aja's mom's grandma name) arrived Sunday last so the pressure was on. We went on middle of the night walks and she jumped on the trampoline. We went on bumpy dirt roads in bumpy cars. Small contractions and falsity prevailed. The blur of days and nights until Tuesday morning was ...blurry. Our Tuesday morning walk at 4:15 stopped her regular contractions once again. We walked up Olinda Road and down around, peaceful and slow if nothing else.  I got the kids to school and then Aja in the outdoor tub in her tent of a swimming suit. Po, of course, needed to join her and made herself a space. My anticipation took over and I told her "time to go to the hospital get this baby out." At 11 AM we left the house and slowly drove to the hospital with Luvy worried that the supposed "he" would be born in Rusty Rust. As we were in no rush, all of the lights were green except that last one. I nearly talked Aja into letting me stay at the light even after it was green so she could have a contraction at her despised location (its a notoriously long red light). We found a parking space at distance from the entrance and walked. Organized Aja with her folder of check-in already neatly filled out paperwork got checked in and entered the maze of the Maui Memorial Hospital. Grammy would be proud, the room they put us in was completely purple. The nurses were kind and assured Aja she was there at the right time and called Dr. Ausbeck to check her progress. As of her appointment the day before, Monday, she was dilated to a four and 80% effaced. Doc calmly proclaimed "you are absolutely in labor, there are six other women in labor and you are much farther along than any of them. You are at at a 6/7 and 90 percent effaced." Some questioning later she informed Aja that the baby was still at -1. I as the husband could tell there was more progress to be made since she had to reach to feel baby in there. Aja and I were left alone to joke. I paced and worried.  Over the course of 2 hours the Doc came back twice.  Two different nurses came back and forth strapping and adjusting monitors.  The baby's heart rate stayed consistent at 133bpm and the waiting continued.  On the Doctor's third visit to the room I had talked Aja into allowing the breaking of her water.  This turned out to be an undertaking like none the Doc had experienced as Aja makes some strong stuff.  No water emerged so it was assumed that he was engaged enough and his head was acting as a cork.  Aja started walking around the room and tearing down the levelor shades as she got more uncomfortable.  Calmness prevailed.  Thirty-three minutes passed and she calmly told me "I feel like i am going to have to push soon".  I slowly walked to the nurses station looking at the great photographs of happy babies in the hallway and relayed the message.  Once the nurses entered the room and saw Aja started saying "I don't know if I can do this" they knew that the time was at hand.  When Dr. Ausbeck checked Aja again she was surprised to find that there was more breaking that needed to be done on that rhino skin.  At this point we had Aja on the bed and were trying to get her positioned.  She was hard to move around and not hearing anything we were saying since she was in the other world...the world of pain.  With one nurse on each side and the other attending and with the Dr. in receiving position we coached her for 20 minutes and the room became decidedly un-calm.  Aja can yell.  She didn't say anything mean to me which i think is admirable.  She let me hold her leg up and push a bit on her belly.  Once his smashed head came out I told Aja to "not push" at the same time as the Dr. told her to "push hard".  Aja listened to the Dr. and got the baby out.  He...Yes it was a he, looked as purple as the guy from Earth Ernie.  Aja gave cord blood in honor of Millie and Cami.  
He Is a great baby.  I am afraid that we are in the easy stage right now as he is eating and peeing in the toilet and being content and getting enough food and enough sleep.  I am trying not to get my hopes up about the future of a quiet house but have really been basking in the newness of him and his alienness.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Christmas morning

We had a lovely, simple Christmas. We feel like Santa was generous without being ostentatious....

Yes, that is Cracklin' Oat Bran. Santa knows that Elsie's favorite presents/days/experiences always have something to do with her favorite foods. (Can you see those awesome Christmas stockings from my mom!?)

Po is at that great age for Christmas... she really, really got into it. 

She loved her wonderful gifts from her grandparents. 

And the kids gave many thoughtful gifts to each other, thanks to some diligent garage sale and thrift store shopping with their own hard-earned money. 

Po rounded out her wooden toy collection. 

Each of the kids got a new suitcase from grandparents or Jonah and I. They are very very excited about going on a trip now... but, they'll have to wait until this summer I think. 

We had a great Christmas morning, followed by a fantastic evening when our friends, the Niemeyers from Sequim came over for Christmas dinner. They come to Maui every December, so we are trying to keep this tradition going... this is the third year in a row already! We love having them around (again, lost all of my iPhone photos from December, so no pictures this year).

Great stuff! We had a fun, somewhat simple Christmas Eve and Christmas. We, as usual, felt overwhelmed by the generosity of our parents who sent us so many nice and thoughtful gifts. And we were also grateful for, which paid for shipping 98% of the non-thrift store gifts this year. 

We were most grateful for the month leading up to Christmas, which although was filled with many activities, most of those activities really reminded us of how grateful we are for our Savior's birth, the celebration of which gives us good reason to share love and joy with others and to increase in joy ourselves, which is his Ultimate purpose, isn't it? We are grateful grateful grateful.

Merry Christmas 2013!

Grammy and Grandfather Come to Island

We were so over-the-moon when Jonah's parents arrived mid-December for a week long visit! Thankfully, Jonah's mom Linda took lots of photos because I lost all my December iPhone photos when I switched to a different phone. (oops!). The kids were beside themselves with happiness.

We had lots of adventures, as well as lots of beach-time and loads of help getting ready for Christmas. 

Above is a photo of Jonah and Po at Black Rock. 

Jonah's mom was impressed with Jonah's recent cattle culling experience.. the cows had to be flown down the mountain by helicopter. It was a crazy experience I must say. We have a lot of beef now.

Jonah's parents were instrumentally important in helping us set up for my Christmas Piano Recital. I had 12 of my students perform, and I think it went pretty well. My garage isn't quite big enough to hold everyone, but I am glad to make good use of our lanai/stage a couple times a year. 

The belly! I think I'm 30 weeks here? Maybe 32. 

This time we had candles and a fire pit to try to make the garage a little more magical. 

I loved having Linda there to play a Christmas duet with me. We laughed so hard we both got tears. It was great fun!

And again, we did the infamous Bamboo Hike (that was five times in three months for me). Sydney was a huge help with tired little Po. 

Unfortunately, the week before, I sat on my Contigo waterbottle when I was getting into the car and injured the midsection of my pelvic bone (my doctor thinks it's remi osteitis, but I think it might be a fracture, but in any case, it's not treatable until after pregnancy), and this hike was NOT the ticket. I was waddling like a duck for a week after. 

But it is SO fun to do this hike, especially when we can relax and swim in the waterfall pools with all these great kids who came with.

Jonah's parents are great about loving lots beach time, even if it just means relaxing on the beach for a few hours. Here we are on our Lahaina day, enjoying the beach at Kapalua. I'd never been, and it was an amazing beach! Can't wait to go back. 

Plus, there was a lovely walk from the beach overlooking crystal clear laval tide pools.

Sadly, the week went by too quickly and all of a sudden it was Christmas Eve. Since Grammy and Grandfather were leaving that afternoon, the kids got to open their presents from them on Christmas Eve morning. 

The most popular gift of the day/year was Elsie's Dipping Bird! It uses evaporation to keep the little "bird" dipping its head into water every few minutes. My girls have literally spent hours watching the bird and cheer every time he takes a drink. (Sadly, "Dippy Bird" "died" a few weeks later when the girls got in a tiff about something and he dropped onto the floor, but Elsie got another one for her birthday... his name is Tippy Bird since Dippy Bird is buried in the yard under a tombstone). 

On their way to the airport, Grammy and Grandfather came to Kite Beach with us to watch Jonah do some kiting. He's getting pretty good! Fun to watch. 
Loved having my fantastic, wonderful in-laws visit! Hope they come again soon and hope the pre-Christmas visit becomes a yearly tradition... 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

December is the month for the Crazies!

I'm not insinuating that my friend Ai (above) is crazy, just that I have included myself in the throng of people (usually women) who put way too much on their plate in December. Even though it is often daunting, I have to admit that I kind of get a rush from the craziness of it all. Here are some of the crazy things we did in the first two weeks of December:

Ai (above) is getting ready for our annual Swim Club Membership Meeting and Christmas Party. I was elected president again this year (I ran unopposed again, so I'm not tooting my own horn here), to my kids' chagrin (it means I keep up on their attendance records). We have a team event once a month, but this party is the most important. I think it went well, especially due to the fabulous catering. And of course, the photo above is the only decent photo I took all night. 

We washed all three cars in one day. 

For one of her Personal Progress projects, Ana took on the task of directing and producing the Ward's Natvity Scene this year. It was a LOT of work (especially getting all the costumes and set together) with a lot of helpers, but the kids all did a great job and it went off without a major hitch. 

She loves directing!!! I've always seen a future for her in directing (anything). 

And we got a tree! Our neighbors let us cut down one of their Norfolk/Star pines. Much better than the Christmas Stick from last year. The kids were delighted... even though the tree kept falling over at random times (Jonah is a bit of a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas trees and didn't want to be involved, so I take full responsibility for the poor set-up of the tree). 

Po and one of my greatest friends, Mary, share the same birthday (and Jamie too, but she couldn't make the trip. :) ... and lucky us, Mary and her family were here on Maui for the big day (and 9 mores days too). They rented my friend Amy's guest house and had some awesome adventures, and we had some great times hanging out, having dinner, and showing them a bit of the island, doing the crazy Bamboo Hike, and lots of beach time. Ana even got Mary up on a surfboard. 

I won't divulge her age, but she's much older than she looks! 

My kids loved getting to know Mary and Kade's two boys again (Cam and Elsie are the same age as their two boys and Cam and Kellan were friends back before they can remember in Saint George)(the photo above is of Po and Mary's Ethan, btw), but Amy's daughter Sophie and Mary's Ethan ESPECIALLY hit it off. It was pretty cute. I had to document it here in writing in case there's a future between them... 

And, finally, in those first two crazy weeks of December,
Ana and I tried to tame Po's hair. That was the craziest of all. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Po is 3!

 Po turned three not too far into December. She was quite excited about it for some time, so we were thrilled to finally celebrate! 

First, we had her three best friends come over for a little lunch, trampoline jumping and cupcake eating... all three girls are within two months of each other in age. Two of the girls live next door (one on each side) and one girl is a friend from church. It is just the cutest to have them play together. 
Here is part of their fancy lunch, which is not much to brag about... 

But man, oh man! These cupcakes were delicious... and this is coming from a person whom does not like cake or cupcakes. Mmmmmm. I was trying to find a good way to use up some of the cream cheese I had leftover from Thanksgiving, and I think this was a worthy use...

These girls are all so easy and fun, so they actually really enjoyed such a simple, formless birthday party. 

All Po cares about anyway is blowing out candles...


Helper for the present opening...

Hammock time!

And then, that night, we had a family birthday party, including the Andersons (like family) and the Mathews (like family too... especially because they were visiting from the mainland!)

Love our Po!

Some of our favorite things about Poem right now:

She has an amazing memory! She can even remember back when she was 18 months old. She remembers songs, poems, people... she even remembers directions and can tell me where we are going by landmarks she sees from the car. 

She is very cuddly in the early morning when she crawls in our bed and goes back to sleep. She doesn't even wiggle. She just cuddles right up next to us and lays still and goes back to bed. 

She is getting good at cleaning up and getting her friends to clean up. 

She is fearless when it comes to physical activity (except for anything that might get her face wet). She's been begging to learn to ride a bike. She wears slippery rollerblades around the house. She hangs upside down on everything. She runs full speed down our street. And she's good at it all too! 

Jonah says, "She's receptive to reasoning." Um, receptive to dad's discussions and reasoning. I'm not so good at that myself. I usually just go lock myself in the bathroom. 

She has a great sense of humor. For example, she'll say, "Hi. I'm hungry. Nice to meet you. (shakes my hand) Now give me some food." She just comes up with funny things to say and then laughs at herself. She also has an imaginary "baby brother" who lives in her belly. If she does a stinky or burps or something else impolite, she says, "Ohhhh, baby brother!" and rubs her belly. 

She's always trying to spell her name... it goes like this, Po-E-M. Poem.

When she lets us do her hair, she's pretty darn cute. 

Love you Poem! 

Thanksgiving and Nobe and Krusti Come to Visit

I think it should count as a tradition now after two years, right? We were lucky once again to have Noah and Kristi and their four kids come from San Diego to visit for the last week of November. This is especially special because they were in the midst of buying a house and subsequently moving to Orange County AND Kristi is pregnant and pretty sick for those first 26 weeks or so, so she was surely miserable, but didn't let us know. We are so tickled that we still took precedence over all those other minor complications... 

Almost immediately after they arrived, Noah helped Jonah work on the traditional Thanksgiving imu (hangi for you NZ folk), or pit cooker/earth oven. We put in two turkeys this year and oops, they didn't get done in time. BUT, they still tasted delicious once they finally cooked. 

The kids got extra muddy and sandy during their visit, so we got some good use out of the outdoor tub. Po is sandwiched in age between Cubby and Bennett, so she loves the party of having these two cousins around!

Elsie is about 18 months older than Lyla, but Noah and Kristi have some tall kids and I have short ones, so these girls are pretty much twins--twin little princesses. 

Here's Noah working on the imu. It's quite the process!

Somehow, once again, no photos of the Thanksgiving dinner! What is my problem?! But, since Bennett's second birthday was the same day as Thanksgiving this year, we also did a b-day celebration with some of the Thanksgiving pineapple pie. 

We had lots of beach adventures, including this glorious Thanksgiving morning surf and stroll... 

And a couple days later we visited Boat Ramp beach, and though it was a bit overcast, we all had a good time... 

We did a day-long Lahaina side visit and got to explore the Banyan Tree forest at the mouth of Honolua Bay....

(Guess who didn't like being up in a tree this high...)

We caught some sweet boogie boarding waves at DT Fleming Beach... (I was SO sad to not be able to boogie board thanks to this belly... I should've taken my friend's advice and cut a big belly hole in a boogie board and gone in anyway...)


And we of course finished our Lahaina-side day with a trip to Black Rock and the Sheraton Hotel. 
Noah's going for it!

My kids CANNOT pass this Sheraton mural without posing for photos. 

All the surfing, beaching, early mornings with Cubby and Bennett, playing with My Little Ponies, and cooking wore these two stellar dads out. 

We also had many Upcountry adventures, including a Sunday evening visit to Pulehu Chapel, the first LDS Church in the Hawaiian islands...

But I don't know how those early Hawaiian pioneers enjoyed church services with little kids... talk about an echo! Every noise any kid makes reverberates immensely. BUT, it does make for some nice acoustics for singing...

We also went for some hikes and of course hit more beaches, but mostly we enjoyed having the Noah and Kristi family here. Love it so much! Hope they keep the tradition alive for years to come!

And finally, here is our Thankful Tree before it was retired to make room for Christmas decorations. We are so thankful!!