Great Wolf Lodge

Thursday we left on a little last minute getaway to show our boy some fun before he has to share his spotlight (which I'm completely convinced he's going to hate).  

Derrick LOVES the water, so what better place to go than one of the biggest indoor water parks around?! 

This place is massive!  It reminded me a lot of the Grove Park Inn (you know, a big girl water park :) with this huge fireplace.  Derrick loved looking at the animals and he kept asking, "What's thay-at?" each time we'd walk by. 

 We stayed in the "Wolf Den Suite" so our little cub could have his own cave to sleep in.  It was adorable!  The pictures don't do it justice at all!  

While we thought the Wolf Den would be perfect, our little cub didn't agree.  The first night he had a FIT when we put him to bed and Justin ended up having to sleep with him.  One time in Derrick's life has he slept with us, and that was the night before one of his heart caths and we were in a hotel room and had forgotten his pack-n-play.  Other than that he has always slept by himself.  It's just the way we've always done things and it's always worked for us.  Derrick has never minded being put to bed alone.  

Until he slept in the wolf's den.

Justin was crammed against the wall of this little bunk bed with D sprawled out next to him.  Derrick slept fine.  Justin....ha.  Not so much.

Anyway, by nap time the second day it was better, and the second night we were there he didn't put up much of a fuss when we turned on the tv in his den.  First time he's ever slept with the tv on, but hey, you do what you have to do sometimes, right?!

The water park was awesome!  It's ENORMOUS and there's so much to do.

This reminded us of Double Dare.  You had to cross lily pads and stumps to get to the other side of the pool. 

There were sprinklers and dumping water all over the place.  There were several huge slides that looked like tons of fun, but D was too short for everything except for this one and they wouldn't let one of us ride on this one with him.  There was no way he was going down by himself! 

This was the "kiddie" area.  It was so cute and perfect for little ones.  The water was about a foot deep and there were two slides and water shooting and dumping from all over the place.  Derrick went down the slide a few times and loved it.  Needless to say, I didn't want my camera in the pool so we missed the photo ops on that one!
The problem was, even though the temperature in the water park is set at a toasty 84 degrees, the water was a little cooler than that.  Our little guy has, oh, probably 1 percent body fat (if that), so he was chilly.  We didn't stay anywhere long.

We played in the wave pool more than anything.  Derrick LOVED it!  He had the best time kicking and splashing in the waves.

The coolest part was this gigantic bucket.  You'd hear, "Ding, ding, ding"......

Every time the chime started dinging there was a crowd of people gathered below to get soaked!  We didn't stand under it...I don't think D would have thought too highly of that! Ha!

8:00 was pajama story time in the lobby.

Tons of kids gathered around and Wiley the Wolf came while the bedtime story was read.  He was a huge hit!

 This guy LOVED him!

We had such a fun time getting away, doing something just for D.  (Well, ok, we were pretty excited about the water park too!)  It was nice to be together, just the three of us, and relax and do only what we wanted to do.
 Derrick had a great time and has been talking about the water park ever since we left.  He wants to go back so badly!  I think we'll wait a couple of years for him to get taller and for Jenny Kate to be able to play, but the Great Wolf Lodge definitely hasn't seen the last of the Carters! 

And it just so happens that a mere ten minutes away from the Great Wolf Lodge is my idea of the greatest play land ever! ;)
Of course we made a pit-stop! 
(That was all part of the plan....shhhhh! ;)




He's a hard workin' little man,


always on a mission.

Sometimes obstacles get in the way,

and he has to take a deep breath and collect himself.

No matter how frustrated he gets,

and sometimes that's pretty frustrated,

he keeps pushing on

and workin' hard.

Until it's quittin' time...



Thank You & Happy 23 Months Derrick!!

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!!  My birthday is actually Sunday, so Justin did a good job, right?!  :)  I think he's definitely a keeper!  He bought me a black balloon the other day that said "Stop Counting!"  He loves to rub it in that I'm a whole nine months older than he is.  Especially this time since I'm in a whole different decade!  That's ok though, thirty is the new twenty, right? Ha! 

I also want to thank you all so much for all of the comments and emails about Jenny.  I think I cried more on that day this year than I have on any of the anniversaries since she's been gone.  She's a special girl and I'm so happy to have another special girl to carry on her name.  Thank you so much for the love and support that you've shown me.  Every one of you is such a blessing!

And speaking of blessings...

This is the LAST "month birthday" for this sweet little blessing!  Yes, I'm late.  The last one and I couldn't even be on time!  I was holding off because I wanted to get some pictures, however D was running a fever for four days and wasn't himself so he was not about to cooperate for any photo shoots!  He's finally been fever-free for two days and back to his old self....but we haven't had time for good pics so we'll just do pictures another time.  I'll give him a break which I'm sure he won't mind!


I cannot BELIEVE you are going to be TWO in less than a month.  I seriously cannot believe it.  Where has the time gone? 

This was the best I could get from a little guy who didn't feel so good.  Doesn't he look sad?  For the record, HE wanted to go outside!

One reason the months have flown by so quickly is because you are SO busy!  You've gotten pretty difficult to keep up with.

You have a new love for "Go, Diego, Go!" and want to watch him all of the time.  You can't understand why Diego isn't on TV anytime we turn it on.

You love to blow bubbles!

I was looking back at your 11 month update to see how different things were one year ago.  I was surprised to see that you're not a whole lot bigger than you were last year at this time.  You've gained a whole four pounds this year, putting you at right over nineteen pounds now.  You're still wearing the same size 3 diapers too.  You do look older though! 

I was going through your summer clothes from last year and was surprised when I put some of them on you.  Your shorts from last year, which are size 6-9 months, STILL FIT!  And really, you could be wearing your belt with them.  So, my 23 month old, you can still wear your 6-9 month shorts and still have plenty of room in them.  Makes me a little happy (you keep our clothing budget down), but a little sad too.  

You can name all (five) of the dogs and know which one is which.  You can call out all of their names even when you're not looking at them.

You may be small on the outside, but that brain of yours isn't lagging behind at all!  Ha!  You can pretty much say whatever you want to say.  There are a few words here and there that we can't figure out but you can communicate quite well.  There are new words every day and I can't even begin to list them.

Some of your favorite things to say are, "What's that?"  "Who's that?"  and, "What's ____ say?" (Wanting to know the noise that whatever you're talking about makes.)

You tell DD that you love him all of the time.  You'd much rather say, "DD, I love you," than tell us that.  I think you do that on purpose, but you do LOVE DD! 

I think we may be entering the "terrible twos."  You have become quite opinionated and want things to be done exactly your way.  If they're not or if they're not done in a timely fashion, you are not afraid to let everyone know that you're not pleased.  You quickly fake cry or whine and sometimes throw in the foot stomping.  Not cool, Cheeks!

You don't want help with most things and always say, "Derrick do it!"  If we try to help you with anything you get mad.  Unless you don't feel like even trying, then you are quick to say, "Mommy (or Daddy) do it."  {Great example would be when you don't want to pick up your toys. :)} 

You have become kind of a terrible eater again lately.  Today was better, but it's been a little rough for the past few weeks.  I have no idea how you sustain yourself on bites of food each day.  If it weren't for sausage, Cheese-Its, and Greek yogurt we'd be in big trouble!

You can now take your enalapril, (your liquid heart medicine) by yourself.  We pull it up in the syringe and you put it in your mouth and push the plunger.  You're totally self sufficient taking both the aspirin and enalapril.  All we have to do is get it out for you.  That accomplishment makes me proud because you can do it (and actually get it all in your mouth), but it makes me sad too.  I kind of think it's sad that my 23 month old can take all of his medicine by himself and actually reminds us that it's time for it!  I guess it's all about what you're used to, huh?  That's all you've ever known. 

You've started calling yourself "Baby Derrick" and putting a binky in your mouth.  You haven't had a binky since you were about six months old, but we found one in some of your toys and you've been playing with it.  I have no idea where the "Baby Derrick" thing came from.  I hope you're not planning on reverting back to a baby once Jenny Kate comes!    

Derrick, you seem like such a big boy lately.  Your daddy and I are amazed every single day at the new things you say and do.  You are so funny and so much fun!  You're a busy, opinionated little boy but you sure know how to melt our hearts.  Those big hugs and sloppy wet kisses, especially when they're followed by an "I love you," get us every time.  We love you more than anything and we're so proud of you.  But please, can you slow down a little!?  :)

We love you Cheeks...to the moon and back!

Mommy and Daddy



Happy Early Birthday Mommy!!! 3/27 (See I do remember)

We had to sneak this in early because you will be home with us much of this week.  We just wanted you to know how much we LOVE and APPRECIATE all that you do for us.  I cannot imagine life any different than it is with you.  You have brought me closer to God, given me a Wonderful marriage, friendship, one crazy child, and another (Crazy I'm sure) child on the way.

We just wanted to say Happy B-day!!! 

Derrick wanted me to tell everyone how old young you are, but I told him no.  This is for D.  You are not 20, but your new age does end in a zero, and you are not 10.   D is good with math. 

This is your B-day present next year.  Shannon has always wanted to ride an elephant, but I would not let her as she was pregnant this year at the time of the "circles" aka circus.

 Happy Birthday Honey,

Love Daddy, Derrick, and Jenny Kate


To My Jenny Kate...

Sweet girl,

I'm sure by the time you read this you'll already know way more than what is written here, but I wanted to put it down just in case.  

Many years before you were born, before Derrick was born, even before your daddy and I were married or even dating, I knew your name.  Your name isn't something I picked simply because I liked it, it has a much deeper meaning to me than that.  

When I was in third grade I met a girl named Jenny.  Jenny and I had everything in common and we became fast friends.  We spent the night at each other's houses almost every single weekend, talked on the phone for hours at the time...we were inseparable.  We were together so much that I actually got an allowance at her house for a while! 

Jenny was definitely the brains of the two of us (but I was the common sense! :).  She was feisty, strong-minded, and clumsy.  She loved gummy bears and maraschino cherries and hated all condiments except for barbecue sauce.  She had beautiful, long, dark brown curls that always hung perfectly (that she usually hated) and huge dark brown eyes.  She could remember all of the words to a song after hearing it only once or twice, and could rap quite well, which always made me laugh!  (She tried to teach me, but my mouth just didn't move that fast.)  She could always think of a story to get us out of sticky situations (or get us further in) but was always quick to come up with something, good or bad.  We were quite the pair.

We had so much fun together. We often got in trouble at school for "giggling" too much during class...all the way up through high school.  We loved writing songs together that were always ridiculously silly and often resulted in the pee-in-your-pants laughter that lasted for hours.  (I feel sure that Ivory soap would pay us for the song we wrote for them! I'll sing it for you sometime Ha!) We took trips down to the creek on lawn mowers looking for Indians, "borrowed" Grandma Frick's car for drives around the yard (although crashing into the quail pen then the pool fence put an end to that), hid puppies in my closet to buy us time to cook up a story so our parents would let us keep them, made prank phone calls (that Jenny was SO good at) and the list goes on, and on, and on. 

During our senior year in high school Jenny decided to "move out" of her house.  She loaded up her car and moved into my bedroom.  She brought all kinds of stuff!  It was so much fun to have a roommate...for about two days.  We drove each other nuts and she ended up "moving back in" with her parents after about a week.  Ha!  We were too much alike to share a bedroom!

While we had a great time together, we fought like sisters!  We weren't afraid to let each other know that the other was getting on our nerves!  We were competitive but a perfect fit.  We had each other's backs no matter the situation and we made quite the team.  

After high school we went off to different colleges.  We weren't together as often and didn't talk as frequently, but we still kept in touch.  When we did talk it was as if no time had passed at all.  Towards the end of college (we were both on the decade program!) Jenny started coming home a lot more often, so we picked up right where we left off... having fun, laughing, gossiping, planning, playing detective...doing those things young girls do and loving every minute of it. 

Exactly six years ago today, I got a phone call in the early morning hours that rocked my world to the core.  

At about 4:00am on March 18, 2005, I received a phone call from Jenny's sister, Vicki.  Vicki told me that Jenny had been killed in a car accident.  All I can remember about that phone call was saying, "Are you sure?  She was just here."  I was overcome with a numbness that I can't explain.  I was shaking so badly that I could barely make my way back to my room to get dressed. 

Jenny had been at my house just hours before.  I had been going through a pretty rough time and she had come to take my mind off things.  We went to dinner that night and your daddy had come along too.  The three of us had been together a lot for those last several weeks.  Anyway, Jenny took me home and came inside to pick up her dog, Gracie, who had been playing with Andy while we were gone.  She gave me a big hug and said, "Are you sure you're going to be ok?"  I told her that I would, and she said, "Ok.  I love you."

I let the door close, and I will never ever forget her standing there holding Gracie, giving me one last smile and wave before she walked away. 

Apparently on her way home she ran off the road and her car flipped, killing both her and Gracie instantly.  She was 23 years old,  beautiful, young, and so full of life.  She was weeks away from graduating from nursing school.  She was a new aunt to a newborn baby girl that she couldn't get enough of.  She was my best friend, the sister I never had, and now, somehow, she was gone.

I went with her family to identify her body and somehow helped pick out some of the details of her memorial service.  At some point during that first day I looked down and noticed something on my left hand.  I had forgotten that Jenny had written on my hand that night.  (She was always writing on people!)  On my hand, in her big bubbly handwriting she had written, "Smile!  Jenny loves you!"  I tried so hard not to wash that pen off my hand.  I was so sad to watch it fade over those first few days after she was gone.  It really did make me smile.  It was almost like she knew I would need that.

I spent the next several weeks with Jenny's family trying to hold on to any piece that was left of her.  We talked about her all the time, reliving all of the memories that we all thought of so often.  It was hard to be with them, but hard not to be, because that was all that was left of her.  They had become my family too after all of those years, but such a huge part was missing.  As the months went on we spent less and less time together.  I'm not sure if it became too much for all of us to bear, or if it was our way of grieving and healing on our own.  I still see them, although not nearly as often as I would like.  Maybe someday that will change.

I'm so incredibly thankful that your daddy had the chance to know Jenny.  I'm so thankful that he had been with us that night because he was the only way I made it through that first year without her.  It's funny how God puts the perfect people in your life at just the right moments.  Your daddy knew how special Jenny was.  He had the chance to know her and know why she was so special to me, and for that I am very grateful.

I still think of Jenny all the time.  There are still moments when I wish I could pick up the phone and tell her about something that happened or ask for advice.  I wanted so badly for her to be at our wedding, to tell her I was going to be a mother, to be able to call her when we found out about your brother's special heart, and again when we found out we were having you, baby girl.  I can imagine how she would have responded to all of those important things, but it sure isn't the same not hearing her voice and her laughter. 

My Jenny Kate, I pray that someday you find your own Jenny.  A bunch of girlfriends are great to have, but you need that special friend too.  The one you can count on no matter what kind of situation you're in, no matter how long it's been since you've last talked.  The kind of friend who knows every single thing about you and loves you anyway.  I want you to have that friend that you talk on the phone with WAY too late, the one you get in trouble with for laughing, the one who cries with you because when you hurt she hurts.  

I want you to HAVE that friend and BE that friend.  Because, Jenny Kate, girlfriends...best friends...are what make being a girl so much fun!  

There is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person, however dear and beloved, but an expansion, an interpretation, of one's self, the very meaning of one's soul.  ~Edith Wharton



A Taste of Summer

First of all, our little friend Aly is having her Fontan surgery today. {This is the third surgery in the line-up for single ventricle kids...the one Derrick faces next.} Please keep Aly and her family and doctors in your prayers!

We've had some beautiful weather here the past several days and have enjoyed spending lots of time outside.  We decided to introduce D to the (under about 12 years old) summertime staple...


He was in love.

He didn't want any help eating his "pop...sicle" for fear that he was going to lose his prize.  

I think we've found a winner.  

Now if we can just figure out how to beef up the calories in these bad boys!