Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Days with Bunny

It's late Wednesday night, and there's not enough time or energy for this sleepy imommy to blog ... but I wanted to quickly post some sweet Bunny pics from the past few days before calling it a night. 

Monday morning we came back from breakfast in the hospital cafeteria to our little private room in the NICU.  We were just settling in when the neonatologist came into the room with a big smile on his face. He asked us if we wanted to go home - it took us .05 seconds to say yes - and a few hours later we were out the door and headed back to the Rice Ranch !!!!

This was Bunny's going home outfit. 

She's our last baby, she needed to go home in style :)

Everyone was quite smitten with their baby sister ...

She is such a good baby and doing so well. And I'm so enjoying having a newborn in our lives again ...

Madison is letting me know it's time to wrap up this blogpost and feed her, so I'll post three more adorable pictures from this week and call it good.

Our Grumpy Bunny ...

...and our Silly Bunny  ... 

Be back soon ...


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Astounding news and Anne B.

Sharing your heart and offering strangers a glimpse into your personal life through blogging can be an interesting adventure.

 Sometimes it opens you up to cynicism or unfair criticism, exposing the side of humanity you wish you didn't have to see ... the ugliness that can reside in people's hearts that is revealed in judgmental comments or hateful emails or ... whatever. But thankfully those instances, cruel or tasteless as they may be, are few and far between. 

And then there are days like the last few days, when my faith is stretched a little thin and my emotions are running high and sleep deprivation is adding to the overall stress of everything ... and a comment in the comment section connects with my heart and opens me up to a possibility I didn't even consider. And suddenly I'm reminded of why I love blogging so much and why I opened myself up to readers in this little corner of the Internet in the first place . 

If you've read my last two posts you know we went from an incredible high (absolutely easy and quick labor and delivery and healthy mommy and baby) to a scary low within the matter of a few days. 

I didn't write about it in detail, and I will when we are back home again.. but the infection Madison developed in her belly button and cord stump - Omphalitis - can go from bad to worse in a very short amount of time. Worse meaning flesh eating and fatal. And Madison's looked like it was moving pretty aggressively - Wednesday morning her belly button looked a little swollen and pink, and by the afternoon there was a half inch bright red ring surrounding the umbilical cord stump. A doctor, a neonatologist, and a surgeon came in to take pictures (in case they needed to compare things later on) and immediately they ordered three very heavy duty antibiotics to be started in an iv. Again, I'll blog more about what followed, but things got even scarier at two in the morning a few nights later when the blood culture came back positive for a growing staph infection .

I wish I could say my first response was one of faith and confidence, but at two in the morning - functioning on very little sleep - I was falling apart . 

I asked for prayer in a number of group texts, asked for prayer here and on Instagram, Sam and I held each other and prayed our hearts out several times an hour ... and things slowly began to turn around . The doctors told us we were looking at an additional seven to fourteen days in the NICU - after we got a blood culture that came back as clear of infection. And that starting point hadn't even begun. I was already having some meltdowns missing my kids at home, and the thought of being away from them that long, coupled with fear over what Madison could be facing ... Suffice it to say, my emotional state was less than stellar. 

And then a comment on the previous post came to my email inbox, from a long time faithful blog reader ...

Anne B. has left a new comment on your post "Pray for Bunny": 

Praying this morning, Lord God, that your healing touch on Madison Faith would ASTOUND the doctors and all of those caring for her and that you would receive all the glory for it! In Jesus' precious name, Amen and Amen! 

And suddenly it dawned on me ... why am I just praying for Madison to "be okay" and that this infection wouldn't turn into the life threatening thing it sometimes does? Why wasn't I contending and believing in prayer for something ASTOUNDING to happen ? Where was my faith that everything could turn around for good, and that it could happen just as quickly as things had taken a turn for the worse ?

        (View from cafeteria windows)

I told Sam about the comment and we both began to pray fervently for Madison to astound the doctors with a turn-around... that we would go home sooner rather than later, and that things would change dramatically in the next few days. 

         (Big brother Noah came to visit !)

The comment section on our Instagram account was flooded with love and support and assurances that people were praying, friends and family from all over texted us or called to say they were praying continuously for our Bunny, and all of you loyal blog readers left comments or sent emails saying the same. I knew we weren't alone in this, and I experienced the same thing I did in labor and delivery - I felt your prayers .

And on top of all this, my favorite and only brother from the other side of the country showed up in our NICU room on Friday night ... I had my back to the door and was putting on some Chapstick, I turned around, and there he was sitting in my blue vinyl recliner with a smug smile on his grizzly face (Chris, I hope you find a razor sometime soon.) I squealed in shock and delight and jumped onto his lap and gave him a big hug ... he was just what I needed at that precise moment . 

So the next day, after saying goodbye to my brother, the doctor on call walked in with a cheery smile.

"I've got some wonderful news for you folks this afternoon," he said. 

And then he proceeded to tell us that the new blood cultures on Madison came back totally cleared .. and that he had spoken to the doctor for infectious diseases upstairs (is it just me, or are all important people always somewhere "upstairs" lol) and her recommendation was to stop the antibiotics immediately and just observe Madison for the next few days ! He said he concurred, because we don't want babies on heavy duty antibiotics if they don't need to be, and he told us he was very hopeful that she was going to be just fine and on her way home in a few days. 

The nurse came in to take her off oxygen,  the iv came out, and just like that ... Things had turned around for good again. 

      (Kenzie and Lily came Saturday to spend the whole day with us !)

     (Nap with Daddy in the NICU)

Madison has been nursing and taking her  bottles filled with my pumped milk like a champ ... She did great with her oxygen as soon as they took her off it... She is waking up on her own to take her feedings every two to three hours ... And this morning the doctor told us that we would be going home in one to two days. 


So a huge thank you to Anne B. for encouraging me to stretch my faith and my prayers and believe God for ASTOUNDING things - you not only helped this exhausted Mama, you inspired my husband's Sunday morning sermon. He worked on it late last night here at the hospital, and then drove back to our town this morning to preach.  

And now my little chubby Bunny is letting me know it is time for her to eat. 

I'll be back soon with more pictures and more details of Madison's birth . 

Thank you all SO much for praying and encouraging us with your kind words and outpouring of support - it means more than words can say . 

Xoxoxo Patti 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Pray for Bunny

Asking for prayer for our Bunny. A few days ago she developed an infection in her belly button/cord called omphalitis. She has been treated with three types of antibiotics and has been responding extremely well. Long story short, some labs came back in the middle of the night testing positive for infection, so they needed to do a spinal tap and blood work. She had her iv restarted (took three long tries) which was worse than the spinal. We are waiting for those cultures to grow to see what we are dealing with and she is now on antibiotics again. We could be here up to 14 days so we would really appreciate your prayers for Madison. Also for my kids at home, and of course for Mama and Daddy who need wisdom, peace, rest and strength. I have no doubt that God gave me the supernatural labor and delivery He did ... and that He allowed us to conceive in the first place, when the odds were so against us ... to give us confidence and strength and FAITH for this moment. Thank you all so much for your love and support, and the abundance of thoughtful comments and prayers. We are so very grateful ❤️

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Our Bunny is here !!!!

Madison Faith arrived this afternoon at 3:36, three weeks early, weighing 6 pounds 4 ounces and measuring 17 and 3/4 inches long . She is doing wonderfully - nursing like a champ and other than needing a tiny bit of oxygen flow right now she is as healthy as can be .

This was my easiest labor and delivery yet and I cannot wait to write it all down and share how unbelievable the whole
experience was - everything we prayed for and then some . 

And we are so in love .

So so head over heels in love .

And it's 12:54 in the morning and guess what ?? I'm still not asleep !!!! Ha ha but this time it is not due to pregnancy insomnia but AFTER DELIVERY ADRENALINE !!! 

God is so faithful - I am on cloud nine hundred right now, because He is so very faithful . He helped me so much during this labor and I hardly felt any pain - and didn't even think about asking for medication. The pushing was wonderful and quick and easy and not even the teeniest bit of pain, and I'm being totally honest - I was surprised when she came out because there was almost no pressure. And I held our Bunny immediately and she was perfect and beautiful and did I mention how in love I am ?? 

Sam is snoring away beside me (labor is tough on daddies !!) and I am high on adrenaline and baby love but I really should try to sleep ... But YOU GUYS !! She is adorable . Seriously , too cute for words and I can't wait to post a little video and more pictures because you're going to fall in love with her too !!!

If you're on Instagram you can send a request to follow because there will be more pics there soon too (psalm127.5).

Going to try to sleep before Bunny needs to nurse again ... in the mean time THANK YOU for all the love and prayers and as always sweet comments - I literally felt you all praying for me this pregnancy and I am so grateful for your friendship and love . 

Be back soon with more details ...

Did I mention how in love we are ???? 



Saturday, January 16, 2016

6 years ago today ...

It's 4:18 and I'm wide awake, up with pregnancy insomnia and contractions ... again :)

Six years ago today I was just about to wake up in labor, and our whole world was about to change - for the better.

I've reposted Lily's birth story here several times, but I'm doing it again for new readers who have maybe never read how this story started. Lily turns six years old today, and as always her birthday brings me back to those hours when we first met her and began to experience a tangible grace that's been on her life ever since. 

And if you met her, you would know what I mean. 

I feel like I've come full circle to this moment right now - we are a few weeks or perhaps even a few days away from meeting our 12th baby, Madison Faith, who shares her big sister's extra chromosome. 

And now - instead of facing the unknown - we feel so anxious and blessed and honored and thrilled to be able to do this all over again. There is a palpable sense of joy and excitement in our home over the imminent arrival of our little Bunny. And I feel such an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the gift of redemption ... the chance to do this all over again without any fear. 

I hope you don't misunderstand, though : I wouldn't change Lily's story if I could. Her birth, and all the emotions and heart-changes that followed, strengthened our family and brought us closer together than we've ever been. The days following her arrival, and the ups and downs we went through were a growing and learning process, and I'm forever grateful for what God did in us through that season. There's no question about it - Lily made us better people. 

And yet still, I am so happy to have this opportunity to give birth to another baby girl who shares her big sister's third copy of the 21st chromosome ... designer genes is what we call them, because we truly believe our girls were purposefully created to be who they are. Very soon we will welcome Lily's baby sister with the full knowledge of the gift we are receiving ... a gift straight from Heaven, and we can't wait to see her face to face. 

If you're reading Lily's birth story for the first time, please know that any hint of sadness or fear or uncertainty we experienced as a family in the moments after her birth were not because of who she was ... Those emotions, looking back, were the processing of a diagnosis,        not a true reflection of the person God made her to be. Any trace of previous grief has long been wiped away by the daily joy that Lily brings us. Six years of loving her has erased any doubts or fears we may have originally experienced upon hearing the words "Down syndrome" and connecting them to our baby girl.

 What we know today is that no diagnosis can define who a person is. Down syndrome is not something Lily is, it is something she has. She is not "a Down syndrome child", she is a child ... who has Down syndrome.

She is first and foremost a person, our little girl who is feisty and sassy and smart and capable and ornery and adorable and precocious and spunky and full-of-personality and full of life ... and the fact that she has an extra chromosome does not in any way diminish her value or worth as a person. She has shown us that in the face of challenges, she is more than able to learn and grow and overcome, and it has been a beautiful thing to watch her blossom in the six years we've been blessed to have her in our lives.

So without further ado, here is Lily's birth story - and in a sense it's our birth story as well. The day we all experienced what true love really means ... the day we met our perfect Lily. 


Dearest Lily, 

You're almost 4 months old now..I never thought I could love you more than when I was pregnant with you, but every day since your birth my love for you has grown even stronger. It feels like you've always been a part of our lives. 

I've wanted so many times to write about the day you were born..There's a letter to you about the morning of your birth, but I never finished the story. The moments following your arrival were so busy- and that whole first week in the NICU at Doernbechers was exhausting. Every night I wanted to write about what was happening that day, so I didn't forget about the whole experience. 

There have been opportunities since then to sit down and put into words what happened that day...the day that changed our lives forever. But honestly, I haven't been ready to go there emotionally until now.

The morning of your birth was 3 weeks to the day before your actual due date. I couldn't believe I was in labor- Grammi and Aunt Hopie had arrived from Arizona just the night before, to surprise me at your shower. When I woke up at 5 in the morning with strong contractions, I knew this was real labor. It felt like all my other labors- like there was this cool energy in the air:) But really it was the grace of God, just this supernatural "help", because God knows I'm a big baby, and I need a whole lot of help when it comes to anything to do with a) pain b) needles and c) blood. 

Seriously, Lily, your Mama is the world's biggest baby when it comes to all three of those things. Ask any of your siblings some day. I feel faint if I stab my finger with a knife while slicing carrots and I see blood. I have fainted having my blood taken, and I have been known to scream at a doctor about to inject antibiotics into my hip "I DON'T LIKE YOU!!" . When I was 24.

The fact that I actually love labor and delivery is nothing short of a miracle of God.

The morning of your birth was no different. I already wrote about waking up at 4 in the morning in full-blown labor in another letter. So I'll pick the story up from when we arrived at the hospital..

Here we go..

That day is still so fresh in my mind...I remember the sweet nurse-Rima- coming into the birthing room to check me and get us situated. She was Palestinian, and her head was covered in some sort of cloth. She had the biggest smile, and the most beautiful accent. I liked her immediately, and was I glad I had a nurse with a sense of humor. 

She checked me and said I was dilated to 5...and later when the midwife, Claire, came in, she said I was fluctuating between 5 and 8. Lots of babies makes for a stretchy Mama:)

Everyone started arriving, and the room was getting quite full. Jason and Naomi, Josiah and Mackenzie, Denise and Danielle, Grammi and Aunt Hopie, and Kelly all came in with big grins on their faces. Daddy and I were so happy everyone could be there. The hospital ban on more than 2 visitors (because of H1N1) had just been lifted 5 days before. 

My labor tape was playing in the background..I've used the same worship tape in every labor except Jason's- it's called I Exalt Thee, and just hearing that tape puts me back in those birthing rooms; the music literally transports me instantly in my mind to the births of my children. 

Although I was so excited and happy, I could not make myself relax. It wasn't that I was in pain- God helps me so much in labor that I mostly just feel pressure with each contraction, but very little pain. But for some reason I could not stop shaking. Rima and Daddy tried to get me to calm down by reassuring me that everything was going smoothly....but those dumb legs of mine would not listen.

Remember when I had my ultrasound and learned that there were some markers for a chromosomal problem, and also a possible heart condition? My legs kept shaking just like then, and my heart was racing- even though I felt calm in my mind- my body had a way of exposing the stress beneath the surface.

I prayed, I took deep slow breaths, I prayed, I hugged Daddy, I prayed...but I could not stop shaking.

Because I knew...deep down, I knew that I would be seeing you face to face, and all the months of waiting and wondering about who you were, they were coming to a close. This was the moment I had been lying awake at night anticipating. And although I didn't want to admit I was afraid- have I told you I don't like admitting weakness, Lily?- well, my body wanted everybody to know. I hate not being in control- I hate that feeling of panic that washes over me in waves. 

So I asked the midwife what she thought about getting an help me calm down..She said if I did, they would break my water, and I'd probably have you twenty minutes later. That did it for me- I just wanted to finally have you in my arms, and have all the waiting over with.


It took a little bit for the epidural to kick in. Even after I was numb I was still shaking. Rima took my hands in hers and looked me in the eyes and said "We can't do this for you- you're going to have to take control yourself." Claire came over and sat on the bed and asked me how I was feeling. I started crying and said I was just upset about being afraid and I was tired..emotionally drained. Claire was so sweet- she held my hands and said "This has been a long pregnancy for you, hasn't it?" I nodded and kept crying, but it was a relief to admit-I'm not all that strong.

Lily, I'm the woman who loves pregnancy, I begged your Daddy in every previous labor to please, please let me have just one more baby. I live for having babies, I love every part of pregnancy, I love labor and delivery, I get HIGH in labor and delivery for crying out loud.

But I was done. Done with the roller coaster ride this pregnancy had taken me on. I just wanted the moment of truth to come, and to move on with whatever the future held for us. 

Daddy prayed with me again- Denise came over and prayed as well..and pretty soon I started to calm down. In fact I felt a tangible peace come over me- like a warm blanket of peace, just enveloping me and letting me know everything was going to be alright.

I'm sure the medicine had something to do with things...but I do believe God put His arms around me, and carried me through the hours to follow. There's no other way to explain how I felt. It's one simple word, really...


I heard it preached long ago, that the grace of God is not always something you can feel until you are going through something. So many times we try to anticipate- how could I ever go through this scenario or that situation. But as Christians, we can have that confidence, that although we don't know how the grace of God can be so present, so tangible, in our moments of crisis- it IS. It is not something we conjure up ourselves, it is not simply "mind over matter"- it is not anything we DO ourselves. Grace is God Himself reaching down and carrying us through, when we don't have the strength to get through something ourselves.
Once I started experiencing that grace, I was so ready to meet you, Lily. I wanted to hug everyone in that room and tell them how much I loved them. One by one, all of my dear, sweet, wonderful loved ones hugged me, while Danielle snapped pictures, and Kelly video-taped..




Right after we took pictures, I felt a lot of pressure. Claire checked me and said "Let's have a baby!" She had already coached Kenzie on what she needed to do- we had planned months before that your sister would deliver you. Rima helped Kenz get her scrubs on. She looked radiant and so, so excited.


Jason and Josiah stood at the head of my bed..Daddy and Rima were on each side, and everyone else gathered around. I could hear my music playing in the background, and I just felt incredible adrenaline...every time I looked at Kenzie she had the biggest smile on her face, but her continual gum smacking told me she was nervous too.

Just a few pushes, and I remember someone saying you had a little more push, and you were out..Suddenly the room was filled with cheers and laughter and I heard Daddy's voice, love-filled, proclaiming happily "She's looking all around! Oh, her eyes are wide open!!" Kenzie was holding you, grinning, and I couldn't stop laughing and crying at the same time. I couldn't see you, but the laughter and voices of everyone in that room just oozed with joy, and Daddy looked so happy, I knew you were beautiful.


I had a blanket draped over my legs for privacy, and as Claire took you from Kenzie, I tried to see you over the blanket..she lowered you onto the bed and still I couldn't see you, but Daddy kept saying how he'd never seen our babies look all around like that, and how cute you were. I just wanted to hold you and look at you!

Claire said you were breathing, but she wanted to move you over to the warmer where the pediatrician and respiratory techs could look you over, because you weren't crying, As soon as she lifted you up to move you, you let out a cry, and everyone laughed.
She held you up for just one moment...

..and I knew. Lily, you were beautiful, you were so sweet and tiny...and Mama loved you instantly, and her heart broke at the same time. I saw your sweet little eyes, and your tiny arms, and I knew my baby girl had Down syndrome.

And let me tell you, that no amount of preparation - had I known ahead of time- would have prepared me for the love that I felt instantly for you-- the protective, instinctive, all consuming Mommy-love that I felt in that moment.

I just wanted to hold you, and tell you that I loved you, and that it would be alright- Mommy loved you no matter what.But Claire whisked you over to the warming table, where a team of hospital staff gathered quickly around you.


And slowly the excitement started to die down, and as the doctor and nurses worked on you, I started to feel the mood was changing, Danielle was taking pictures of you at the warmer, and still I just wanted someone to hold you up, or move the table over to me, so I could see you, but they couldn't... because you were turning blue.

I kept asking "Is she alright?" and everyone kept reassuring me that you were...but I saw the looks on everyones faces, and I knew no one really knew. Mackenzie went over to the table and looked at you. I saw her whisper something to Danielle..and she looked so frightened, and like she was about to cry. Danielle brought her camera over and showed me the picture she had just taken of you, and I kept laughing and crying, because you looked so sweet and beautiful, and through my tears I saw Mackenzie examining you closely.

Claire came over to my bed and knelt down..She took my hand, and I said "I know she has Down syndrome." Claire smiled- such a sweet, sad smile- and said "Yes. I knew when she came out.." as I nodded and smiled and cried and said "It's okay"..did I think I was comforting her? Because I was so happy and so sad all at the same time- and still my fierce, protective self did not want anyone feeling sorry for my fragile, beautiful baby girl.
Daddy was watching everything they were doing to you- listening to your heart, holding oxygen to your face to keep you pink..Mackenzie came over to my bed..and smiled..and her face broke into the saddest look..and I said "It's going to be okay" , because I knew she knew. And she collapsed on my chest and started sobbing.


My sweet, brave daughter, she knew from the moment she delivered you, but she's just like her Mama, she smiled and held it together...until she couldn't. I've asked her what she felt in those moments, and she says it was mostly shock. Because all along she never wanted to believe you might have Down syndrome. She says she pushed that little thought to a corner of her mind and wouldn't look at it.

So I held her and stroked her hair, and talked to her through her sobs, and tried to fit in all the words I knew, to take away that shock and grief, even though really, only time can heal some pain.
I remember thinking- I can't cry, I have to be strong because my babies need me, my grown-up babies, I'm still their Mama, and I don't want them to hurt more by seeing me cry. And I wanted everything to stay happy- I didn't want who you were to be a sad thing to anyone.

And in the background I could hear Josiah crying..and I never want to hear those cries again. It's not fair to hear your almost 20 year old son sobbing, to know that you just can't fix it all... The pediatrician said they needed to move you to the NICU ..more words I didn't want to hear..but they would let me hold you for a few minutes. And when they placed you in my arms, every single bit of pain and sorrow and grief vanished instantly-


Because when I held you I felt exactly as I did when I first held all your brothers and sisters- that I would give my life for you if I had to. Love, pure love, and overwhelming gratefulness is what I felt. You were here safely, you were alive and beautiful, and perfect, and you were my Lily.



It's late now, Lily..almost two in the morning, our very first Mother's Day together. I have more to write about the rest of that day, but it will have to wait for now.
If anyone would have told me a year ago, in the first weeks of my pregnancy, that I would have a baby with special needs...I don't know that I could have handled it.
But that's what the grace of God is all about- His grace is more than sufficient in our weakness. He is able to take us through things we never thought we could make it through and still be okay.
More than okay. Because life with you just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter, dearest Lily. You are Mama's best gift, next to salvation, and I will never stop thanking God for giving me YOU, my precious, wonderful, perfect Lily.

Love always,

Mama oxox

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The adventures of Flannery

I'm starting off this post with some pictures from December, because I told myself I was going to get the blog caught up to now and then Madison would arrive.

And although I don't believe in giving too much power to outside influences having the ability to affect the time of labor and delivery (I've had babies come when I was COMPLETELY unprepared and had nothing scratched off my to-do list, including buying diapers and a car seat !) ... I still want to scratch this one off. 

The same held true for my pregnancy journal the other night ... I have this long standing tradition of declaring that our unborn baby won't arrive until Sam has written a letter to him/her in my journal . It has rarely triggered spontaneous labor when the said letter is documented for future generations to read ... but it does make me feel that we are one step closer to D day. And also makes my husband feel that he is part of that process :)

So anyway .. Here are the December pictures, and if Madison delays her arrival for a few weeks, there are plenty more to come ..

I think I blogged briefly about our new tradition this Christmas (new to us, I mean.) I never wanted to splurge on the Elf on the Shelf package prior to this December because I'm cheap like that. But when I spotted a cute imitation elf for a just few bucks at a craft store, I caved. 

And I'm so glad I did because my kids - especially Hayden !!!- had SOOO much fun every morning waking up to see what Flannery had been up to during the night.

His first night here, he toilet papered the bathroom ... and left a note explaining that he would be back every night until Christmas to create mischief as well . 

His second night he created a disgusting masterpiece of leftover spaghetti, chocolate chips, marshmallow maties and pancake syrup ... Hayden talked for days about how silly Flannery was to eat marshmallows on his spaghetti :)

Another night Hayden's "guy-guys" (his name for action figures) held
Flannery hostage ...

And the next night Flannery took revenge ...

One morning we all woke up to see Flannery taking a leisurely bath in a sea of marshmallow bubbles, munching on an Oreo. (He really enjoys marshmallows, and found many ways to insert them into his nightly naughtiness !)

Another morning we discovered him flying in a toy plane on top of the living room blinds ...

He wrapped the toilet in wrapping paper ..

... drew mustaches and glasses and horns on our family Christmas photo ...

... left a message written in toothpaste on the dining room mirror ...

... had a marshmallow snowball battle with a Rescue Hero (Flannery lost) ....

... And covered him in leftover frosting and candy from our gingerbread house decorating party as pay back ...

For the most part Flannery was as naughty as could be - the depth of his depravity being an all night drinking binge. (White cooking wine was the only "adult beverage" he could find in the Rice Ranch pantry.) 

... but he did take one night off from his wicked ways, delivering a gift to Baby Jesus - with a sincere look of repentance on his tiny plastic face. 

He finished off the season with a ride on a stuffed Reindeer across our kitchen counter, leaving a trail of Hershey kiss poop cookies behind him ... but I spared you all the photo that memorialized that moment . You're welcome .

Our sweet little Elf left a handwritten farewell note for us all on Christmas morning, promising to be back next year with a new set of tricks up his sleeve . 

Hayden asked for days where Flannery went, and even now he talks about all the crazy things he did while he was here. 

We miss the little rascal, but we know he is resting happily at The North Pole, plotting and planning for next December- in the mean time we have our own little mischief-maker to take his place ..


Be back soon with more pictures of our favorite month of the year !