Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
Thank you for being part of my little world... :)

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Us:

Us:

Sunday, November 28

Tomorrow Begins a New Week...

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There ya go... Made it happen as I mentioned in the last post. Happy Halloween, a month late. Blah. (But how cute are my boys?!)

Tomorrow begins a new week, and I am, frankly, dreading it. 

It's my last week of shooting before I take some time off for the holidays. And it's a doozy for shooting. I have three sessions. I can't complain, really--- it is a HUGE blessing that these sessions weren't on the calendar a couple of weeks ago, when all the crap hit the fan. And while I am FAR from totally recovered, I am much more able to work now than I was two weeks ago. So it all worked out pretty well to have these sessions now-- saturated though the week will be. 

And it's not really the sessions alone I am dreading.... It's the rest of everything else. (Broad enough for ya?)... It's the feeling in myself that I have to start finding a way to pick up the pieces from the mostly shattered month of November. Piles of clutter than have gathered in my convalescence... Tasks on a to-do-list that never seemed to stop growing, even as I tried to take time off. I have to pretend I am well enough to get ON with it, already... and honestly.... I am NOT well enough. 

Last week I decided that taking a week to heal was good and all, but since the pain hadn't gone, it was time to buck up and figure out how to live in SPITE of the pain. No doctors were calling with answers, no cures were presenting themselves to me... so, hopeful this would gradually get better, I decided to get back to work. 

And luckily there was a holiday thrown in there, because for Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat. and today, I've been able to keep my feet up for a good chunk of time, only letting them drop to the ground for a few hours each day to get things accomplished. I managed to get SOME work done, even with the holiday and with the "feet up" need. 

But now... the thing is, the pain ISN'T getting better.... the doctors STILL aren't calling... and there isn't a lessening of the severity of the pain. I got ONE day of blissful reprieve, last Saturday, but since then, it has been totally debilitating, daily. Hourly. And after bucking up and trying to smile through it last week, the thought of "faking it" for another week... a BUSIER week, makes me want to give up and cry. 

The pain thing is so interesting... It's not bad enough to deserve a real BREAK.... But it is not light enough to get though without significant alterations to my routine. It's not bad enough that I feel I have permission to keep complaining.... but it's not light enough that I can move without displaying obvious discomfort. The truth is, though this isn't literally crippling, it IS affecting my quality of life in a pretty major way. If I let my feet drop to the ground, either when walking or when sitting with them hanging down, then pain gets so intense that I am constantly moving to find some kind of relief. I cannot stand for long amounts of time--- I have to shuffle from one foot to the other to give each foot a micro-break. Having Noah on my lap is excruciating--- the pressure that builds up from him sitting on my legs is barely tolerable.... Yet I cannot cease our sweet routine of rocking him and singing to him before bed and naps... So I endure. 

It becomes a huge sacrifice of comfort to work at my computer, editing. I cannot edit with my feet up in a comfortable way, and editing with my feet down becomes a practice in gritting my teeth and trying to make myself stay for just ONE more pic..... 

Sewing hurts, too. Which kills my heart. :(

I just.....

Don't know how I'm gonna do this if this is what life is gonna look like for the rest of pregnancy, or whatever.

No one has answers.

No one has healing solutions. 

I take any foot rub I can get. I use heating pads for temporary comfort. I wrap my feet in ace bandages the rest of the time... I am on a strict routine of Tylenol so I can cope. 

This is life, now. 

And this coming week makes me want to cry. 

Yikes. 

I am complaining again. 

I am so so sorry. I don't know how to BE this person, and keep the usual me around. I don't know what I'm gonna do. I take things minute by minute, I guess.... And I CAN fake it, sometimes. So if you see me, and I seem pretty cheerful and put together..... I'm probably still limping. And trying to be cheerful for a minute. 

Ugh. 

Gotta stop writing, 'cause this is annoying ME. And I have to live with myself. 

For anyone who wants to help me figure this medical mystery out, here are my current symptoms:

achy joints, specifically ankles, wrists, lumbar region of back
swelling in joints
heavy pressure and pain when feet are not elevated
pain level--- at its worst it is a 7 or so... When feet are up, I can be at a 3-4

What the docs seem to have ruled out, either by examination or blood test:

Lupus
Rheumatoid arthritis
Other autoimmune disorders
Sepsis/infection stemming from breast abscess
Parvo
Mono
Flu

What I cannot take, being pregnant:

Ibuprofen
Steroids
Lots of other things

So. Someone go tell me why I hurt, please... And better yet, how to fix it. :(

I'll try to be perkier soon.

Thursday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving, Etc. Etc.

Happy Happy Thanksgiving!! I'm laptop'ing from the couch at my parents' house in Columbia, MO, happy to be with family (my big, brash, loud, happy family)... Happy to put my sore feet up for most of the day (minus the time spent making Puppy Chow, my own personal tradition for Thanksgiving).... Just.... happy. And hungry. When's the turkey coming?? 

And that puppy chow? You know what I'm talking about, right? This stuff? 
I LOVE the stuff, and a few years ago brought some to my family's house for Turkey Day because we all sit around, STARVING, waiting for the real dinner, and a good munchie seemed an ideal solution. The recipe I use is:

Puppy Chow
1 stick of butter
3/4 C. of creamy peanut butter
1 bag of semisweet chocolate chips
3 C. powdered sugar
1 box Rice Chex

Melt the butter, choco chips and peanut butter together over medium heat. Add the cereal to the pot (make sure it's a big enough pot!). Put the powdered sugar in a brown grocery bag, then spatula the chocolate covered cereal into the bag. Close the bag and shake-a-shake-a..... Voila! Puppy Chow!

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But this year, I decided we always run out too fast... With over 12 people in the house, all with sweet tooth tendencies, it's inevitable that one batch goes quickly. So I thought, why not a triple batch??

And WOW.

That makes a TON. 

Ha! So funny! A garbage bag full of PUPPY CHOW!!! Woot! Perfect! 

Anyhoo...
Since I'm home and relaxing for the holiday, I have some fall-y stuff I've meant to blog for a long while now (all of these images are from October. Oops!)... And with the surgery, the not-so-fast-recovery, the backlog of work piling up, etc. etc.... this blog post never seemed to happen. So why not today? Quick, before oranges and browns go out of style and red and green are the colors to display. (Today's the last day for those yummy fall colors. Sad. Candy corns and autumn leaves, pumpkins and gourds--- passe as of tomorrow. Bye, Fall. I loved you.)

So to start, I made a wreath this year. I actually envisioned finding a bunch of cute little mini-pumpkins, probably fake, from a floral section of a craft store... Even fake persimmons would have done... And COATED a Styrofoam frame with them. Just a whole bunch of little orange globes... But. No craft store came through for me and I never found mini-pumpkins or fake persimmons. I DID find some good-looking fake mums... so I ran with it. Instead of Styrofoam, I went with a grapevine wreath... and the goal was just to SMOTHER the thing with mums, minus green foliage:



I LOVE the color, and love the pop it provided all fall for our little white house.

So easy, too! But now, with orange going out of style, I guess I'd better start thinking about a winter wreath to replace this...Hm. 
Next up.... My friend Stephanie S. Facebooked a link to a DARLING ruffled camera strap... And reading the tutorial, here, on KevinandAmanda.com, it looked TOTALLY do-able... So I went for it, using scrap fabric I already had on hand:


And I ADORE it! Love love love the flirty ruffles. Love that I could do it myself and feel pretty good about the results. Yahoo!

And all October, while I was being crafty indoors, our local squirrels were being crafty OUTDOORS. Meet our Squirrel-O-Lantern:


It started with a few chips off of the dark orange outer skin. No worries. Then a few more gouges out of the skin. I laughed it off, amused that these intrepid squirrels managed to find a new food source. I also knew I'd be carving a different pumpkin, so this one could be chipped away at. No problem. Well... "chipping" turned into "gouging", and eventually, they broke through. Ta-da! Squirrel-O-Lantern. It amused me so much I didn't take it off the porch til we had real Jack-O-Lanterns to put there instead. Noah even took to singing the "Squirrel-O-Lantern" song I made up... Ha!

And since I'm reaching back to Halloween, here's the batch of Halloween sugar cookies we made. Joe and Noah got involved too, so it was a fun family activity:


I really should have a photo prepared of us in our costumes at this point in the post, but.... oops. I forgot. Noah was a train engineer, I was Captain Hook, and Joe was a Frenchman, a la his mime costume from August. Maybe I'll post a pic someday... *shrug*

And since this post has turned random, I'll just end it with some cupcakes. Not my own. Our local, BEST cupcake shop, The Cupcakery, has changed their name to The Cup. I'm pretty MEH about the name change. I liked it before...
But in spite of the name change, the recipes are as good as ever, and they had some LOVELY fall specials we HAD to try.

This one is the apple cider cupcake, with cinnamon buttercream:


This one is the pumpkin spice cupcake:

And this one is the mint mummy one. Vanilla mint cake with a mint buttercream-- decorated especially for Halloween:

So.... Yeah. For weeks, this blog has been mostly talking about pain and setbacks and tubes in chests... But there's still that part of my world that we all love--- the little details of food, fabric, photos... everydayness... And I have been trying to remember how to keep it going, even as the pain makes it hard to be cheerful sometimes. 

I am so blessed... Joe is my amazing partner, Noah is clever and loving... (He tells me his feet hurt, too. He'll walk slow, too. So sweet. :))

And I have some fun things I am working on... And LOTS of sessions from the past 4 months to share. (oops.). 

So. Life is moving along, even with the setbacks. And I am focusing on GRATITUDE GRATITUDE GRATITUDE... Today, for sure, but ALWAYS... of course. I am grateful for my life. My loved ones. All of it. 

So, Happy Gratitude Day. To all of you! I'm gonna go nosh on some more Puppy Chow. We've got PLENTY. :)

Thursday, November 18

Reality:

**WARNING: Not-so-pretty stuff ahead...These are detail shots of my recent adventures.**

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It's just a part of who I am--- the photographer. So as weird as it may be, I tend to document even the not-so-great stuff, including post-surgery madness. This post shares a few intimate images of the post-surgery fun, including two images that actually show the tube and stitches in my upper breast. I want to assure anyone who is curious/brave enough to scroll through the rest of these that there is no actual BREAST in full showing--- only the upper part of my chest/sternum region, at least 4" above the nipple, which is safely tucked away out of sight in these images. No need to get randy here. :)

But the tube itself is a bit graphic, so I understand if you stop here, move along, and forget this photographic chapter of my life.

The first shot, the one above,  is the one that amuses me most. The surgeon herself came into my pre-op room to write "YES" on the left side of my chest-- to ensure we all remembered which side was the one we were working on. That markered "YES" lingered for a few days afterward.

The next two shots show the stitching and tube that is still tucked into my chest, and yes, apologetically, there is also blood here. That is why I tend to stick to black and white pics for this sort of thing. Feels less gory. The sore to the side of the tube is my biopsy site from the week before.

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I get to change my gauze pads two or three times a day, to keep the site clean and to help along the draining of that tube. Gross. No way around it. It is gross. And creepy. I think the tube might come out sometime next week. *fingers crossed*

The rest of the pics are tame-- just a few random shots of the electrodes that the nurses forgot to take off of me after surgery, and that I didn't even notice were still on til the day after surgery. Kinda funny...
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Oh, and a self-portrait of me in my "recovery gear"-- the bad-hair-day bandanna and the industrial strength surgical vest they gave me after the surgery--- to hold me together and keep the dressings in place. Hot.

And there ya go, brave readers/viewers. Things in this area are doing okay.... but not AMAZING. The chunky lump is still there, and I simply don't know WHAT they'll suggest next. It doesn't hurt really, so maybe they'll let it alone. *shrug*
Meanwhile, the foot/ankle/wrist/back/joint pain that began the day after surgery has ended up CONSUMING my life this whole week. It is so bad, I am not sure I can convey to you how much agony I've been in. I cannot walk, really. My ankles sometimes throb so much I can't sleep. By Monday, I realized I was unable to even take care of my own kiddo on my own, and had to ask my mama to come get him and care for him for a few days. My hope was that these past few days would be full of rest, and maybe some solutions from my doctor(s)... But instead, the days have been mostly filled with more pain, less answers, and FAR less rest than I had planned. The days, instead, have been filled with being shuffled from one doctor's appt. to another, from one long phone call with a nurse to the next long phone call with a nurse. I've been to a total of FIVE doctors about this whole thing--- from breast to foot pain... And we're still not entirely sure what the deal is. It's kinda scary, and incredibly disheartening. 

But.

I get my kiddo back tomorrow-- in time for his birthday. And I feel a slight lessening of the pain today, so my hope is that we are on the downward slope of this horrible era. I want to get back to the good stuff--- to being a mama and an excited mama-to-be... Get back to my sewing machine. Get back to my work. Get back to taking care of my hubby, instead of the other way around. Get back to preparing for the holidays. 

I'm ready for some NORMAL to come back.

Monday, November 15

Change of Scenery:

Ah, my blog friends, a new era is beginning:

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And I cannot be happier for the introduction of more girly things into our lives, come April.... :) :) :)

That's all, for now....

Sunday Night... Me, Currently.

12:00 am...

Gladiator playing on TiVo...

English muffin toasted, slathered with butter... one side with honey, one side with mom's peach jam.

I got a three hour nap today, which was so good for my achy body. 

Joe and Noah played quietly, letting me sleep on and on.

It's been a very good recovery, with regards to people stepping in to help and to let me do as much as I can, or as little as I can...My sister-in-law, my angel, Mary came to town from Colorado and took over the decision-making, the meals, the Noah-playing... She was a godsend at the PERFECT time.

Joe took off Thursday for the actual surgery, kept me company in the pre-op and post-op rooms... Gave me courage and love in the thick of my fear that day... And he has continued to go above and beyond this whole weekend-- preparing meals, playing with Noah, giving footrubs, comforting hugs... Letting me cry...

The list of incredible, strength-giving notes via email, text, and Facebook have been INCREDIBLE--- so many cherished people pulling for my recovery to be smooth... adding positive thoughts for healing and courage... I have been humbled by the outpouring of love. THANK YOU--- that means you, and you, and YOU. 


And though the actual procedure was horribly scary and painful (the local anesthesia only took away 60% of the pain, so I was enduring a LOT of sensation during the 30-minute surgery... OH WOW it was bad!)... And the first day or so was painful and hard... I THOUGHT I was doing pretty good as of yesterday. I even managed a calm day out with Mary and my BFF Genny, a lunch, some gentle shopping... cupcakes... 

But. There's some new pain, pain that I would THINK is unrelated to the breast issue and the post-surgery stuff, except it all started the day of the surgery and gets worse each day since. Coincidence?? 

It started as far from my breasts as you could get--- my heels and my knees. Both have felt completely BRUISED, for no apparent reason. Each day, the pain worsens. And each day, something gets added. First, the feet/knees. Then the ankles. Today, the wrists. Both sides, all of the above. Today, I can barely stand to walk, and when I do, it's on my tiptoes. My ankles feel like they've got arthritis. My wrists have a DEEP, tight soreness...

What is going on??

I want to get BETTER.... But it seems I get to endure some more mystery in my health for a while yet...

Tomorrow is the baby ultrasound. That is GOOD stuff. And I get to finally ask a doctor about this stuff... And hopefully someone can help me to not only understand what this pain is, but help me find true RELIEF. 
So.

That is me, currently. Awake late because of a good, long nap... 

Walking on my tiptoes and trying not to show pain on my face when I move.

Wishing it was better, already.

I have a few not-gory photos from the evening after surgery... some self-portrait observations... 

I'll try to post them tomorrow.... Just to put some context to the whole tale.

For now, I'm going to watch a bit more Gladiator, til I get doze-y, then go to bed, trying not to think about:
a. painful feet/b. boy vs. girl/c. Tylenol3's effect on a fetus/d. other random worries and thoughts...

Good night... Thank you again for your love!

Tuesday, November 9

Betty, You Weren't In The Plans...

**Warning: This post talks about breasts and medical grossness... Just be warned.**
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Not to shock you, but I'm gonna steer you to
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I guess it's time to introduce you to Betty. I managed to not go into the sordid tale earlier because, well--- it was all so quick, and then seemed to be resolving... But. This my LIFE, ya know? Even the ICKY stuff. And though I'm seeing this irritating tendency in myself to pretend to be BRAVE and to not spend my blog time going on and on and on and on about the DRAMA, like I'm OKAY, and this is NO BIG DEAL-- (but then turn around and whine to my friends privately, and wear their ears down...) -- I CLEARLY need to talk about it... I just keep pretending I don't.

But here it is. My path has been twisting a bit more than usual in the past few weeks, and it is all because of Betty.

So forgive me for directing your eyeballs to my chest a moment earlier. It's just that Betty is my left breast. And she has become the headline in my days for the last little while.  I'm not trying to corrupt you or get you thinking in the wrong direction by doodling arrows pointing at my breast. I just.... She just needed a moment in the spotlight, photographically, since she is the star of the tale. Sorry, menfolk. Sorry ladies who are easily shocked. I promise not to focus your attention to my chest after this post.

But back to the tale. Before last month, my chest didn't have NAMES. Wasn't my style. But then the lefty began hurting a LOT, and a formidable BRICK of lump-ness showed up overnight. I'm talking a 5"x2" BRICK of hardness that hadn't been there before. Only on the left side, and VERY clearly abnormal. After checking around and not hearing any reassurances from fellow mamas ("Oh, that happened to ME!" "Oh, don't you HATE when that happens?", etc.), and getting advice to call my doctor, I went to see my OB. He was boggled by the brick in my breast (how's THAT alliteration?) and told me he was glad I'd come in. He referred me to a specialist because my lump was not typical, and he wanted to make sure we covered our bases. He ordered an ultrasound and an appointment with a surgeon at the breast clinic here in STL. 

After a week between the first appt. and this specialist's appointment, I got in to see the surgeon. And the radiologist. And a million technicians and nurses. It was a long day. And the long and short of it was, the  ultrasound didn't tell enough of the story to satisfy the docs. 

A biopsy was ordered. A horrible procedure much like a cross between liposuction and deep-oil-drilling ensued, and I pretended I wasn't horrified the whole time.

For about 5 minutes, alone in a dark ultrasound room, I allowed my mind to "go there"... Thought about the WORST CASE SCENARIO.  After five minutes and three or four escaped tears, I shut those thoughts off. 90% of the comments from the doctors had led me to feel confident this WASN'T the worst case scenario-- WASN'T cancer... So I reigned in the wild thoughts and went back to thinking positively. 

The biopsy procedure kicked my butt, and left me recovering for three days. Truly, the recovery was worse than the waiting for the biopsy results. But by the time the phone call came, 4 days later, I was almost back to normal, and THRILLED to hear that the results were about as good as they could be in my situation--- no cancer, no cysts, but a whopping abscess. The surgeon prescribed antibiotics and said we'd try hard to kick the infection with drugs so as to avoid surgery.

******record scratch******

Wait, SURGERY? An infection might require SURGERY? That sounded so EXTREME for something like a mere abscess. She reassured me that we'd likely be able to avoid it, and that we wanted to keep my pregnancy as uncomplicated as possible under the circumstances. I could tell she was really on my team, ya know? So... I commenced antibiotics a week ago, and was scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound and appointment for today. To see how things were going. 

And this past week has been pretty good. I've felt nearly normal, and been able to settle back into my routines and find joy in my days again, after the week of pain and uncertainty and the massive pity party I'd been throwing for myself the week prior. So... it was a good change. I was healing. I was on a healing drug regimen. Betty was going to get better. All was well. 

But.

As much as I though the worst was over, and I could sweep this whole BETTY drama under the rug... It's just NOT over. So. Here I am. Blogging about Betty, after avoiding it for two weeks. 'Cause it's time to face the music: 

I am scheduled for surgery in two days. 

Betty did NOT take to the antibiotics, even after 4 cute green pills a day for a week. The ultrasound showed that there wasn't enough satisfactory change to keep treating the abscess by drugs alone. The surgeon really feels she need to get in there and aggressively drain the abscess herself. So. Surgery it is. But not a good, old-fashioned "knock-out" surgery.... Nope. Because I am pregnant, I can't be put under. So I get to be AWAKE while they tackle my breast and slurp the grossness out of it. I cannot tell you how horrified I am at this prospect, especially as I am still not healed from the post-traumatic-stress-disorder from the biopsy.
And as rough as the biopsy recovery was, this one will be at LEAST as rough, and probably much much worse. Add to that, the surgeon is opting to leave the incision open with a tube hanging out, so the abscess can keep draining in the week(s) following the surgery. GROSS. just....... GROSS. *shudder*

So yeah. 

Thanks, Betty. 

I have cried a bit over this today... Heard the news at noon and have been rolling it over and over in my head since then, crying a bit, feeling sorry for myself, listening to my "Crappy Days" playlist.... Letting myself feel crummy about this twist in my life for a while...

But I am lecturing myself to not wallow for too long. Because:
A.) I am gonna chase all my loved ones far far away if I live in my pity party state for too long. B.) And that's not fair to them.
C.) It's just an effing ABSCESS.
D.) I'll be whole and healed soon. I really will.

And here's the thing. As I walked into the clinic today, I passed the cafe area, where a mama was sitting with her 2 or 3-year old daughter, a beautiful little girl with absolutely no hair. None. Bald. Smiling, despite HER infection--- a FAR worse one than mine, the one my fingers had been crossed I DIDN'T have. Who's trial is greater? Mine? This silly left breast with the puddle of infection? Or that mama and her sweet baby girl, who were there to see the Radiation Oncologist for cancer?

My moment of pain and frustration is but a small moment in relation to the vast joy  I have been allowed to reside in my entire life. I am BLESSED, dammit. BLESSED. So.

The Pity Party goes til the end of the week, but after that, time to move on. Time to get back to celebrating the good in my life, instead of stalling and sputtering around the bad stuff. 

And there will be LOTS to celebrate, come next week. We get to find out if we're having a boy or a girl on Monday, and my sweet Noah turns three on Thursday... And then it's the holidays.... then a winter of hibernation and incubation.... Then the baby.... and on and on. 

My life goes on, by the grace of God, and Betty will NOT be the end of me. 

But this week only, she WILL get center stage, and forgive me if I cry/whine a bit more before I'm done...
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Friday, November 5

Our Pumpkin Patch Outing...

A bit late posting these, but it was fun when it happened, and it's still fall-y... So why not?

The other week we got to go play at the Thies Nursery Pumpkin Land. They have a whole setup of fun stuff for kids around Halloween-- pumpkins, corn maze, hay bale tunnels, petting zoo, wagon rides, etc. etc. BIG FUN. :)

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The first thing Noah tackled was the massive hay pyramid. It was like a siren song, calling him.
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But the burlap sack slide quickly lured him away, and became his FAVORITE part of this playland:

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the giant tire swing was charming to him for a moment, but mostly, he'd go back to the slide.
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A few cute kiddos from our ward were there, too-- a perfect playgroup activity. This is Callum, Noah's honorary "little bro"-- he's the son of Noah's once-a-week babysitter, and they are QUITE fond of each other.
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And with a LITTLE cajoling, I managed to sit Noah down for long enough to get the obligatory "pumpkin patch" photos. He was a pretty good sport!
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And I could end there-- with a cute few pics of Noah with the pumpkins... But my favorite part of the day was so random, I had to recount it here. While we were all on the hayride, Callum dropped his sippy cup and it got MASHED by the tractor wheel. The driver felt so bad that he darted over to the broccoli patch we were next to (Thies IS a working farm, after all), and cut a stalk of fresh broccoli as a consolation prize. Callum could not have cared less about the broccoli but Noah was SUPER jealous of it... and the first chance he got after the hayride, he ambushed Callum and claimed it for his own:

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And proceeded to chow down on that thing like it was a lollipop for the rest of our time there.
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That's my boy-- happy as a king with his broccoli at the pumpkin patch. 

Such a weirdo. 

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Happy November to all! Time for me to go to bed!