Three Months...(and one week...oops!! ;)

Oh, my sweet Jenny Kate. It's already begun. I'm late. I know by the time you read this you will totally understand, or already know, or be just like me. Usually late. I'm so sorry, we've just had too much going on lately for me to sit down at the computer and think in silence. After all, you've decided to only nap while Derrick is awake if you nap at all. And that, my girl, makes it impossible to do a blog post! :)

Anyway, I'm super happy to tell you that you are THREE MONTHS OLD already! You're growing so quickly that I literally cannot keep up!

You weigh right around 12 1/2 pounds now (according to our bathroom scale). You look like you're growing like crazy. Every time I look at you you look bigger! You're wearing size 2 diapers (mainly because we ran out of ones and these work just fine) and you wear 0-3 month clothes. I can't keep shoes on you. Your little narrow feet won't even hold your size newborn shoes on, so you just go barefooted all the time.

You love attention. Any time anyone talks to you or looks at you you smile that big 'ole smile. You have little dimples too. Um, adorable! 

You've started laughing. It's so insanely cute! Sometimes Derrick will fake laugh at you and you will laugh like crazy back at him. We can't get enough of your laugh!

You've been sleeping in your crib in your room for the past two weeks! You did great with the change; I don't think you minded a bit! You have a whole lot more room to move around in the crib.

You've decided that you don't really like to nap. You'll take a 30 minute nap in the morning and a short little nap in the afternoon, but for the most part you don't want to sleep during the day. If you do it's in your swing. You refuse to sleep in your crib or in the pack-n-play in our room during the day. At all. I'm having a hard time adjusting to this no-nap-time-for-mommy thing you've been pulling. It makes it a little difficult to get things done around here. I have to say though, I do love those quiet moments where it's just the two of us. You'll just sit and stare and smile while I talk to you. It's priceless. {I'm not sure daddy thinks it's so priceless when he's trying to get dressed for work in the mornings and doesn't have any clean white t-shirts because I can't put you down to do laundry, so we're going to have to figure out something, ok?}

When you are ready to sleep, you're ready. And everybody knows it. When about 8pm hits you start screaming. You don't stop until you get a bottle and you usually fall asleep about half way through it. You don't particularly want to be held as you fall asleep, but you can't lie down until 30 minutes after you eat (because of your reflux), so you usually fall asleep in the swing. If we do try to hold you to fall asleep you squirm a lot. You'd much rather lie down on your side to sleep.

You typically drink 6 ounces of milk four times a day. When I finish feeding you Derrick always says, "Did she drink 4 'bounces'?" Ha! I had no idea he was paying attention to how much you were taking, but apparently he does! Your daddy and I were stressed a few weeks ago when you were only drinking 4 oz, so we'd always ask the other how much you drank. I guess that's where the "4 bounces" comes from. So your brother is concerned about how much you eat! :)

You LOVE your big brother! You watch every move he makes and if he's close to you you're always smiling at him. He's pretty smitten with you too, girl! The way the two of you love each other already makes my heart smile. I hope it stays that way!

You love it when we read. You're usually in my lap while I read to Derrick. When we open up the books you start cooing and kicking your feet and waving your arms. You seem pretty excited at story time! I sure hope you keep that love of books!

Therapy is going well. Both of your therapists say you're improving a lot. We didn't realize just how much you couldn't move your head until you started therapy and we saw the change in how you move. You seem to like therapy ok. You get a lot of attention there, so that makes you pretty happy! You do tend to throw up like crazy while you're there though. Poor Deb and Emily! They smell like yucky old formula all day long on Tuesdays and Thursdays! You get them every time.

You throw up. A lot. I'm seriously considering keeping a change of clothes for myself in the diaper bag, or the car, or somewhere. I don't know, maybe the combination of black raspberry vanilla lotion and baby throw up works for me. I'll have to ask your daddy. ;)

You're tolerating tummy time a little more than you used to. {I guess it helps that you can actually lift your head now. Your muscles were too tight for you to do that before therapy.} You still don't like it, but you don't cry immediately, so that's progress.

You are a very loud sleeper. You sigh a lot while you sleep, and you also slam your legs a lot. I'm not sure what you're doing, but in the morning when we go in to get you you're usually at the foot of your crib.

You possibly rolled over. I say possibly because you were playing on the floor with one of your hanging toys and you were lying on your side. I ran to the kitchen and when I came back you were on your tummy. I was only gone for a few seconds, but "someone" was sitting beside you when I walked back into the room. I asked him if he helped you roll over and got mixed responses. All he would tell me is that you were having "tummy time." You may have rolled over, but neither daddy or I saw it with our own eyes, so only Derrick knows. And he's not telling. If you didn't, you're so super close that it'll be really, really soon!

You sleep for about 12 hours straight every night and have been for about two weeks! (Guess I can't complain about the napping, huh?! :)

Jenny Kate, you are such a joy to our family! You've developed a sweet little personality and love to be included in whatever the rest of us are doing. We've had so much fun watching you grow and learn and can't wait to see what's in store as you continue to develop that little personality. We are beyond blessed to have you in our lives and love you more than words can say.

To the moon and back, sweet girl!

Mommy & Daddy



Cardiologist Update

Derrick had his three month cardiologist appointment last Wednesday (yes, clearly I'm so far behind, I'm sorry!!) and it went very well!  

He's getting to be such a big guy. {Well, big as in old, not as in large!!}  He got to stand on the 'big scale' for his weight and to check his height this time instead of sitting on the scale and lying on the table for measurements.  Unfortunately, he STILL weighs 20 pounds.  20.6 to be exact, but he had clothes on.  That means Derrick hasn't gained a bit of weight since his last cardiologist appointment three months ago.  Sigh.  I totally wasn't surprised about that.

When Dr. S walked in the room the first thing he said was, "Not a big eater, are we?"  Ha!  This is really the first time he's brought up D's weight.  We've discussed it countless times, but it's always initiated by us.  "Most kids like him are usually small," is what we hear from him most of the time.  Apparently Derrick has exceeded the smallness of "most of the kids like him."  We had a little chat about things we could try to do to get his weight up some, but realistically, there's only so much we can do.  Thankfully, Dr. S said that too.  (I mean, besides a tube, which we absolutely hope to avoid!)  We can't shove food down his throat- if he doesn't want to eat, he's not going to.  We're talking about a very strong minded kid who can hold chewed food in his mouth for hours and never give you any sign that there's half a meal in there.  It's ridiculous!

Anyway, we've started adding vanilla Carnation instant breakfast to his milk along with his normal chocolate syrup for some added calories.  Whew!  That stuff is RICH!  He LOVES it!  ;)

As we were having this discussion about his weight, Dr. S asked, "So, when does he turn three?"  "April," we told him.  "With the really small kids we don't usually wait until they hit the 30 lb mark to do the Fontan.  What we're really looking at is chest cavity size anyway." 

I'm hoping the punch in the gut didn't sound as loud as it felt.  Three?  Totally wasn't expecting to hear that, but I have to admit I wasn't ready to ask if that was what he was implying either.  I'd rather be blissfully ignorant for another three months.  Maybe then we'll tackle that question.  Apparently Justin got the same impression I did from that conversation and wasn't ready to open that can of worms either.  We like it in this happy place.  For now, anyway.

Back to the appointment. 

All of Derrick's vitals were great, heart sounded great, etc.  Woo hoo!  He asked to sit on the "bed" when he found out it was time to check his sats, which never happens (and for some crazy reason his sats are always higher in their office than they are at home!).  The nurse asked him if he knew what she was doing and he said, "Checking my numbers."  And in the same breath he looked over at me and whispered, "I get a sucker!"  We all rolled!  This boy will perform for a sucker!

Derrick's echo went great too.  The tech was going to let him put the probe on himself to start the echo, but he wouldn't do it.  He kept saying, "No.  Mommy do it!"  So I started the echo.  It was kind of fun! Ha!  It seemed to take forever, which made us a little nervous, but Dr. S said everything looked great.   We got a "heart function and valves look good, we'll see you back in three months!" and we were out the door.  

 {I was so disappointed when I pulled out the camera and it died immediately, so I missed out on lots of good pictures at the appointment...especially Derrick and his 'mater teeth' sucker.  I'll definitely have to give him another one and take pictures.  It's pretty cute!  So here's Derrick today, modeling his and Justin's monster they built while Jenny Kate was having therapy.}

Whew!  Another one down.  In November I think we'll have to have "the talk."  Not looking forward to that one!  But until then, we'll feed this boy every single thing he'll eat.  Suggestions are always welcome!



Sometimes, I believe, God gives us gentle pushes to do things that we need to do.  We may not know it at the time, but looking back we can see that those unexplainable urges were most likely little pushes from Him so that we didn't miss out on something important. 

When we were driving down to the beach last month, Justin and I were talking about how we needed to go visit Nana.  We had both been thinking about it for several weeks but hadn't said anything to the other until then, so we decided we'd go up to Tennessee the next Sunday night after Justin got off work.

We arrived sometime after midnight that next Sunday night, chatted with Nana, Aunt Shirley and Uncle Gary, and made plans to spend our Monday and Tuesday doing absolutely nothing other than spending time together.  We had a relaxing two days just hanging out {and eating, because you can't leave Nana's without gaining at least four pounds, no matter how short of a time you're there! :)}.  We helped Nana do a few chores, and I'm sure Justin reset her clock, which is something he's done every time we've ever visited Nana for as long as I've been around.  

Once we arrived home, we called to check in, telling them that we'd arrived home safely.  We both had an unsettling urge to speak to Nana before we hung up the phone.  We each spoke to her, told her we loved her, and hung up.

Four days later, we received a call that Nana had a catastrophic stroke.

We loaded up the kids and drove to TN that night.  We visited her in the hospital, where she was barely able to whisper and unable to open her eyes.  When it was time for us to come back home we were telling her good-bye and that we loved her, and before we walked away she whispered, "I love your babies too."  

Later that week Nana was taken home where she could be comfortable and taken care of by her family.  We drove back to TN, anxious to be able to see her again.  When we got there she was much more responsive than the days before.  She opened her eyes and reached out her hand to us.  When we brought the kids in to see her she perked up and kept rubbing and patting their arms and legs.  She was so happy to see them.  She couldn't show it in the real Nana way, but we could tell how much she loved seeing them.  We spent the next day and a half with her, soaking in every second we had with her.  

This past weekend we went to see Nana again, only this time it was to say our final earthly good-byes.  She had a beautiful service that celebrated her life.  The line to see her was long and the church was packed.  This came at no surprise because everyone who met Nana loved her.  She was "Nana" to every person who didn't call her "mom."  

Nana was an incredibly Godly woman.  She was a wonderful example of how I would like to be.  She spent time in the Word every single day, but not only did she read it, she lived it.  She was patient, she was giving, and most of all, she was loving.   

She was also the definition of a southern lady.  She kept her company well fed.  She always had a freshly baked cake waiting if she knew someone was coming and was embarrassed if someone showed up without her knowing and she hadn't had time to bake that cake.  She rarely came out of her room without being fully dressed including lipstick and jewelry and would never even think about walking out the front door not fully made up.  She kept a spotless house and a full fridge.  She was the "card queen," never missing a holiday and often sending them "just because."  She never raised her voice, never said anything rude, and never lost her patience.  She was full of smiles and liked to giggle.  And if you got her alone she had a little wild side to her...a ladylike wild side, of course.  

She made famous fried pies and the world's best red velvet cake with throw-up icing.  Everyone fought over the corners of the red velvet cake, so she made an extra bowl of throw-up icing so that we could all have corners.  She never sat down at the table until every person had everything they could have possibly wanted; only then would she stop to eat.  She had a funny little squeal that always made us laugh.  She was appalled that Justin would try to wear his pajama pants to take her to Walgreens at 10pm.  I'm not sure she ever let him get away with that, although he tried quite a few times.  

She loved her grandchildren.  She loved, loved, loved her great-grandchildren.  All eight of them.   

She loved her husband and missed him terribly in the years she lived without him.  They had an incredible relationship, one like Justin and I pray we can have.  I never had the privilege of meeting him, but the stories are real-life fairy tales.    And they're really real-life.

There's an impressive stack of paper in Nana's room that contains every word and every picture that has been posted to carolinacarters.com.  This is probably the first post that ever hit this blog that she doesn't have in print. 
I am beyond thankful that God gave us that little nudge to drive up and visit Nana the days before her stroke.  There's not a doubt in my mind that that's what it was.  He was giving us that last chance to spend special time with her.  To let her hold and play with her youngest great-grandson and only great-granddaughter one more time.  To let her tell us in several different subtle ways that she was ready to go Home when it was time.  To give her grandson a special peace to make it just a tiny bit ok to have to say goodbye to such a special lady that has an enormous piece of his heart.  

We love you Nana.  

The picture that we almost didn't take, but are beyond thankful that it was snapped right before we walked out the door!



"Wook, Mommy! Wook!"

"Wook, Mommy!  Wook!  It's Micky Mouse!"

We aren't afraid of bribery around here, especially if it means getting a few extra calories in this boy of ours.  ;)

He's done a great job potty training so Justin picked out a special prize for him.
{We won't tell him that Justin picks out things he likes so he can eat them when D isn't looking! ;)}
He's been wearing big boy "unda-way-as" while he's awake and gets mad when he has to put on a diaper to sleep.  What can I say, I'm just not ready to wash sheets every day!

He has woken up several times with a dry diaper, though. :)  But I'm still not quite convinced.

We had the potty chart, where he got a sticker each time he went and after five stickers he earned a sucker.  That got to be a little much, especially considering he always wanted to cash in on the suckers 30 seconds before bedtime.  He's no dummy! 

So for now, Derrick has been enjoying a pack of Pez candies every evening for having a good potty day.  He still hasn't figured out why Mickey stops spitting out candy after a while. 

That makes for quite an unhappy little man!

He'll probably be an unhappy little man tomorrow too, when we go to his cardiology appointment and he realizes he has to have an echo.  No worries, his fear will most likely be calmed by a ring pop.  Mine on the other hand, not so much.  I'm starting to think these appointments never get any easier.  

And P.S. Yes, we brush his teeth. 



Derrick's Heart Story

Shortly after celebrating our second anniversary we found out we were going to have a baby.  We were ecstatic!  The pregnancy was perfect...I wasn't sick, wasn't worried.  I felt fine other than being worn out by the time I got home in the afternoons.  Everything was going exactly as planned.  

We blissfully went to the 20 week ultrasound, ecstatic to find out if we were going to be shopping later that day for pink or blue.  The ultrasound tech happily announced that we were having a baby boy.  That was our main focus of the appointment.   We were told that they were going to do another ultrasound at my next appointment in four weeks because they couldn't see all of our little boy's heart, and that hopefully he would be cooperative then.  We didn't think a thing about it. We were completely fine with having another ultrasound because it meant that we would be able to see him again soon!

When it was time to go back four weeks later, I began to get a little nervous.  It felt like a lot of pressure that they were only looking at Derrick's heart.  What if he didn't cooperate?  I don't know that I felt that something was wrong, it just felt like a lot of pressure. 

When the ultrasound started we got a quick peek at our little guy's face, then the quest for checking his heart began.  After what seemed like forever, we asked the tech if everything was ok.  She said that he still wasn't cooperating and she was going to get one of the other technicians who was "good at getting the babies to move" to come and help her.  

You could feel the tension in the room as both girls watched the monitor as they continued to slide the probe all over my belly.  Finally they finished and again I asked if everything was ok.  "The doctor will talk to you," one of them said. 

We still weren't worried, but did think that the whole experience was a little strange.  After what seemed like forever we were called into the doctor's office.   We sat down across from him...this still makes my heart race...

"There's something wrong with your baby's heart," he said.  

At first I thought he was joking.  I have no idea why I thought he would joke like that, but I quickly realized that he wasn't.  I felt the blood rush to my head and my whole body was on fire.  I couldn't breathe, much less think.  Justin and I looked at each other and I couldn't stop the tears from pouring down my face.   

My doctor said he wasn't exactly sure what was going on and that he was going to send us to a pediatric cardiologist to get the details on our guy's little heart.  He said there was a great possibility that we would need to deliver at the Medical University of SC in case he needed heart surgery right away.  My doctor made us an appointment for the next afternoon with the pediatric cardiologist so we could find out exactly what was going on.  

I don't remember a whole lot about the rest of that day.  I was devastated; we both were.  All I could think about was that this really couldn't be possible.  This baby was moving around inside me all the time.  He kicked and squirmed, he had the hiccups and he got wild and crazy when I would eat chocolate.  He had to be fine, I would tell myself.  But I would catch my mind wandering to dark places...things I didn't want to imagine, that I couldn't bear to think about.  But I did.  I had only heard of one heart defect: HLHS.   I didn't know much about it other than it was not good.  When I was in college a classmate's niece was born with  HLHS and I had followed her story very closely.  It ended in heartbreak, and I prayed (or maybe begged God) that Derrick didn't have HLHS.  Looking back, I'm pretty sure my fascination with Miss Emily Mae and her story was no coincidence.  I think Someone was gently preparing me for my own journey.

The horrible day finally ended and we found ourselves in the parking lot of the pediatric cardiologist's office.  I don't think I even realized we had such a doctor in Columbia, much less ever thought I would be going to see one.  But here we were, both of us sitting, neither had the courage to open the door and get out of the car for fear of what they would tell us about our son.  We held hands and Justin prayed aloud.  He prayed that we would be given hope during this visit and that there would be something they could do for our son.

We had a very thorough fetal echocardiogram and the cardiologist came in to explain the findings.  Derrick was missing one of his ventricles.  The cardiologist wasn't 100% sure about which ventricle, but he was sure that he only had one.  He gave us three options:  1.) Derrick could undergo a 3-staged series of surgeries that would allow him to live a fairly normal life, but not "fix" his heart.  There was no "fix."  2.)  We could deliver the baby and take him home to provide "compassionate care."  3.) We could terminate the pregnancy.

We had asked God to give us something the doctors could do to save Derrick's life.  Obviously numbers two and three simply were not options.  Derrick's heart didn't fit nicely into any specific congenital heart defect, but he told us it was not HLHS.  Similar, but not HLHS.  We didn't leave that appointment with a specific diagnosis, but we did leave with hope.

Over the next four months we went to appointment after appointment.  It seemed that every time someone looked at Derrick's heart they told us something different was wrong.  It was heartbreaking enough to know that his heart was broken, but to hear something new every. single. time. someone looked at it was really hard to deal with.  

There were many, many tears shed for this child, and even more prayers said.  We had hope.  We painted his room, bought his furniture, had baby showers and created a perfect little nursery for him to come home to.  His clothes were washed; hanging in his closet and folded neatly in his drawers.  His toys were in a basket and his blankie, DD, waiting for him in his crib.  As we did all of this preparation, sometimes I had a terribly heavy heart.  Sometimes, secretly, it killed me to prepare for his arrival.  I was so afraid that he would never come home.  I was afraid that he wouldn't wear the clothes, sleep in the crib, or snuggle with his blankie.  Sometimes the thought of it was simply too overwhelming.  I was much more satisfied with the idea of him staying in my belly for the rest of my life than facing what was to come.

April rolled around and it was time for Derrick's arrival. At
6:31 pm on April 20, our little miracle, Derrick Palmer Carter, was born. I held my breath as I listened for his cry. That first cry was one of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard.

Derrick's BIRTHday, April 20, 2009
Derrick was immediately whisked away by a pediatric team before I even able to catch a glimpse of him.  Justin was able to go along as they got him cleaned up and hooked up to his monitors.  He took pictures so that I could see our baby boy. About an hour later, Derrick was brought to my room for us to get a quick peek at him. I finally got to see my beautiful boy.  He looked perfect. It would have been impossible to know that anything was wrong with him if he wouldn't have been in the incubator and covered with wires.  We were able to open the tiny door to touch his sweet little hand.  My arms ached to hold him, but I knew better than to even ask.  They still weren't exactly sure what secrets Derrick's little heart held, so there was no time for us to waste.  After a few minutes, my brand new baby was taken away.
Derrick, the first time we met, about an hour after his birth.
The days went on with testing, echos, blood draws, questions, and learning more about Derrick's "complex little heart" as the doctors called it. We shed many tears, said many prayers, and spent many hours by our little man's side holding his tiny hands, reading to him, watching monitors, and listening to the beeping of the PCICU.  

Just waiting for surgery, two days old
When Derrick was four days old we were able to hold him for the first time.   We were told that we wouldn't hold him until the night before surgery, so this was a great surprise for us.  When the nurse put him in my arms I lost it. The world could have crashed down around us and I wouldn't have cared. I was holding my baby!  I cannot describe the overwhelming emotions I was experiencing. All of those days of having to look at our baby and not be able to pick him up to comfort him when he cried, to feed him, snuggle with him; all of those moments disappeared once he was finally placed in my arms.  

Our first time holding Derrick, 4 days old.
That moment was short lived because four days later it was time for Derrick's first heart surgery, the BT Shunt.  That morning we gathered around his bed, took pictures of him, touched him, prayed over him, and talked to him.  All I could do was cry. Even in my silent prayers, all I could say was, "Please, God." There were no other words that would come to my mind. All I could do was beg God to bring Derrick back to me.  That day, April 28, 2009, I did the first most difficult thing I had ever done.  I sent my precious, tiny baby away with two complete strangers for open heart surgery.  Watching his tiny body swaddled in his crib, hearing the click of them unlocking it, and watching him disappear down the hallway was grueling.  I collapsed in Justin's arms, and we cried. 

Surgery took (a long) seven hours but went very well; "textbook," his surgeon called it.  While they were in his chest they were able to see what all his "complex little heart" was hiding, and he was diagnosed with having: a single right ventricle, dextrocardia, transposition of the great arteries, pulmonary stenosis and mitral valve atresia.  We were glad to have some answers, but boy could we understand why they kept calling Derrick's little heart "complex"!

Seeing him for the first time after surgery was difficult, but under all of the tubes and wires we could still see his precious face.  
Derrick, 8 days old, BT Shunt surgery
Derrick's recovery was great and he was discharged from the hospital when he was sixteen days old; a short eight days after his first heart surgery.  We were amazed at his strength and determination, and so very thankful that God had blessed us with a smooth recovery and HOPE that Derrick would be ok.  

Being home was nice.  It was pretty scary at first, but we adjusted quickly.  Doctor's appointments filled our weeks and we lived life to the fullest, knowing that another surgery loomed in the very near future.  

When he was six months old, Derrick spent three nights in the hospital for at UTI that made his oxygen saturation drop really low.  It was around this time that he started physical therapy to develop his weak upper body because he was unable to spend time on his stomach without turning blue, and he also started feeding therapy for his inability to gain weight.  He was, and still is, very small for his age...but don't be fooled because he's quite strong!

Derrick, 6 months old, during his first *and hopefully only* non-surgical hospital stay
After the UTI episode we walked on pins and needles waiting for the time for the Glenn surgery to come.  He had two heart catheterizations to see if he was ready for surgery, and after the second one they determined that it was time. 

Two days before his nine month birthday, we handed Derrick over for surgery once again.  It was no easier than the first time, but just like before, we could feel the prayers from friends and family and the peace that only God can provide.  Again Derrick's surgery and recovery both went well.  He only spent one night in the PCICU and was moved to the floor the next evening.  He spent a total of eight days in the hospital, but the length was due to having a chylothorax  His heart was great but he had to be put on a fat free diet for six weeks to allow the chylothorax to heal.   
Bi-directional Glenn surgery,  9 months old, January, 2010
Since the Glenn, Derrick has done exceptionally well.  He has celebrated his first, second, and third birthdays, talks non-stop, jumps or runs everywhere he goes and has an endless supply of energy.  He is a sweet, protective (and sometimes rough :) big brother to a little sister whom he adores. 
Derrick,15 months

Derrick, 2 years & 4 months

Derrick underwent this third heart surgery, the Fontan, in October of 2013.  He has done exceptionally well since then!  He is thriving...and GROWING!  He started Kindergarten this year and loves to ride his bike play baseball and run.  He has told us several times since surgery that he's glad he had his surgery because at surgery "they put speed in me to help me run faster."  Obviously he feels better, which is music to our ears!  Derrick is also excited about becoming a big brother again in February 2015!   

This "heart world" life is definitely not something we would have chosen for our family.  If we could, in a heartbeat we would take away all of the pain and suffering that Derrick has experienced and all that is to come for him. However, we wouldn't change a thing for us.  Having Derrick has deeply strengthened our faith.  Having to fully rely on God; to have no choice but to give Derrick completely over to Him has been a very humbling experience.  It hasn't been easy and I still catch myself trying to control our situation, but I am quickly reminded that I have no control and God has all of it planned perfectly.  This heartache has been a blessing beyond our wildest dreams.  We have been blessed with one of the most amazing miracles and we won't take that for granted; not even for a second.  



Hilton Head Island, 2011

We took our annual trip to Hilton Head in July and I'm a total slacker since I'm just now going through the pictures (although I'm really going to show how on top of things I am when I post D's birthday party pictures in a few days-from APRIL, but you know, this is our family scrapbook/photo album, so it has to be done!).

I was pretty bad about taking pictures of our week this time.  I guess I was a little side tracked with Jenny Kate, and when there was free time I was more interested in joining in on the fun than taking pictures. 

This year D was able to join in on some of the activities out at the pool.  Every day they have different things kids can do, and guess what the first activity Derrick did was?
He made a water shirt!

Another day he went cookie decorating.  Doesn't this look so super yummy?! Ha!

Bubble baths in the big tub were a hit this year.

We enjoyed sitting out on our deck that overlooked the lagoon.  But in the lagoon lives...
Obviously people have been feeding this guy.  There was a guy with a golf club trying to "scare" the gator back in the water.  The picture on the right was his response.  Looks super scared, huh?

We enjoyed lots of fun family time,

and lying in the grass just taking it all in.

Of course being the monkey he is, Derrick enjoyed his first tree-swinging experience.  Now that he knows he can swing from trees there will most likely be more of this to come. 

Jenny Kate wasn't a huge fan of being outside.  Everywhere was a little bright for her! Ha!

Justin and I celebrated our five year anniversary while we were there.  I was greeted that morning with these beauties.

LOVED them!!  They survived the ride home and I was able to enjoy them on the kitchen table for almost two weeks!

Mamaw and Papaw kept the kiddos while we went out and had a nice lunch and spent the afternoon shopping.  I love our dates!

Derrick's absolute favorite thing to do while we were at the beach was to swim in the pool.  He went swimming at least twice a day and we had to drag him out every time.  The great part?  While most people dislike when the pool feels like a bathtub, this little guy loved it because he was able to swim with no wetsuit!

He loved every minute of it. {And I love those eyelashes!}

Jenny Kate enjoyed lounging by the pool in the evenings. 

She's counting down the days until next year!

We had a great time!  It was nice to get away, spend time together, and enjoy the sand between our toes.  Sandy pics to come. :)

P.S. Derrick and Jenny Kate are in a photo contest on Facebook.  If you'd like to vote for them you can click here and "like" their pictures.  They're the first two pics.  ;)