Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A 2 and a Half Year Feast

"Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do" 2 Nephi 32:3

"These words are not of men nor of man, but of me. ...It is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you... Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words" D&C 18:34-36

May of 2009 was smack dab in the middle of my nightmare. It was definitely the low point of my life. I was dealing with alot to say the least. I was still struggling with the loss of my dad. I was separated and dealing daily with the overwhelming drama of a 7 year marriage that was very painfully on life support and doomed for disaster. I had a very sick little girl who was only at the beginning of her tough battle. And I was trying to figure out how to be a single mom- of twins none the less.

I am so tired just thinking about those days.

There's things that I did during that time that maybe wasn't the best. Things were done out of desperation and a basic need to survive. But there are some things that girl did then, that make me look back and smile. One of those things is making a commitment to read my scriptures every night and sticking with that good choice. Starting this habit in my low of life helped lift me out of that hole. The word of the Lord and His prophets was a light in my very dark world.

So in May 2009 I started this scripture reading habit by reading the Book of Mormon. I then moved on to the Doctrine & Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, The New Testament and just days ago I finished The Old Testament. That's a total of 2,476 pages of doctrine, love, truth, advice, lessons, testimony, history, gospel. And I can personally testify that they all contain the word of the Lord and are true.

There were some nights that I truly feasted upon the word. And I have to admit that there were other nights that I just merely snacked. But I always learned more and looked and listened for what the Lord would have me find. Even while I was at Disneyworld or in the Hospital with Riley, I used the scriptures on my phone to continue my progress. When you have a commitment to the Lord, and it is obviously providing so much in return, it's easy to follow through. Plus I was on a roll! You can't break a good streak!

I look at the incredible growth I have achieved over that time frame and I'm in awe. I obviously still have alot more to learn and alot more progress to make. But I'm a completely different woman then the girl from May 2009. And I can't minimize the role that my scripture reading had to do with it. So much strength, courage, understanding, testimony, and love came from those pages. This simple act each night before I went to bed helped lighten up my world in so many ways. A short 15 to 20 minutes helped me find just what I needed. And I'm incredibly thankful.

"For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost," 1 Nephi 10:19

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that govern to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" James 1:5

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Monday, November 28, 2011

My Lil Comedian

On Thanksgiving morning, Keagan gave Nana and I the greatest laugh. The huge turkey was almost ready to go in the oven and was sitting on the counter in it's big pan. Keagan climbed up on the bar stool and motioned to the turkey saying "wake him up!" Nana and I of course looked at her a little startled and she reasserted herself by saying "wake him up! I wanna talk to him!"

Well how do you explain the food chain to a 3 year old just looking for a "gobble, gobble"? It's a little difficult. I ventured down the path of explaining the bird was dead and that we were going to eat him for dinner. All with Nana chuckling on the side. This explanation did not soothe Keagans desire to speak with the turkey however. So a simple "he's not going to wake up baby. Do you want to watch iCarly?" did the trick! And it's a good thing too! I was worried I was going to have to turn that turkey into a puppet! I knew I was a little too happy about not having to stick my hands in the turkeys nether regions this year.

She is just a funny kid. But she's not trying to be, which is even better. The funniest stuff comes out of the cute little head of hers. And it is just accentuated with her dramatic motions, expressive face and comedic tones.

Other things that have been coming out of that cute comedian ALOT lately are...

"I smell somefing!" This is the best when said rather loudly in a public bathroom.

"What's that noise?" And she wants a very specific answer. If she doesn't like the one I give her, then she just makes up her own.

"I wanna do it myself!" Shes definitely 3!

How can I not just adore this girl? Cute and funny! My kinda kid!

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Wrap Up

Thanksgiving Holiday 2011 has come and gone. I would sure love to, but there is just no way to document even close to everything on a blog. But here's a few things I didn't already mention...

Keagan and Tess were born two days apart. They are officially now very close. They played so incredibly well together the entire trip! Makes me wish we lived closer! If poor Cambell would have been feeling well I know she would have been right in there too.

I'm still disappointed Tyler didn't show us his amazing parlor trick at the Thanksgiving table...snapping his toes!

Celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas in one day is fantastic!

Costco makes the best pumpkin pie!

So thankful for fabulous weather so the kids could play outside. And play, and play and play.

A three year old in bowling shoes is ridiculously cute!

I have eaten enough food to be able to hibernate for the winter.

All their older cousins were so sweet with my girls. Maya and Kennedy were extra cute with Riley. Maya was awesome at making Riley laugh!

My brothers and their families live too far away!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

A Picturesque Family

Usually family pictures are torture. But this morning, the parents of all these darling kids sat back and admired our dang cute kids and the fact that they were all sitting and smiling nicely!

The photo shoot was followed by a fantastic tepinyaki lunch and a movie date for everyone. Lisa, Sam and I were treated to "Breaking Dawn" while Riley was home sleeping and Keagan was watching the Muppets with very helpful uncles, aunt Vicki and the rest of the kids. There is a possibility that Keagan fell asleep on Kellies lap and may have gone tinkle all over her. It's just a possibility.

Besides that little accident, it was another great day all together. The Colorado Ginns left tonight and unfortunately the Chicago Ginns are too close behind them as they leave tomorrow. Its been fun while it last! Picture perfect in fact.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks to be Given

This year Thanksgiving Day itself was something to be thankful for! A fantastic day with my entire family. The joy of it needs no explanation!

After a delicious dinner all the kids hung the ornaments on the Christmas tree. Then we had "Nana's Christmas" where we all got our traditional yearly Hallmark ornament and matching pajamas. The kids also got BYU pillow pets which were a huge hit! So we basically blew right through Thanksgiving and onto Christmas. Today was more of a Merry Thanksgiving!

And it was Merry. Full of loud voices, parlor tricks, traditions kept, kids running, good food, lots of laughter, cousins bonding and memories made. Very thankful in deed!

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So Thankful

My precious girls that make my life fulfilling and so joyful

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice

A loving Heavenly Father

My family. Especially a generous mom and helpful sister

Great friends that love us

Modern medicine and access to great medical care for sweet Riley

A roof over our heads

That we all survived another year and made it full of joy, growth and love

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Family Reunion

The last ones trickled in today and now the family is whole. We are all in Texas under one roof. It feels great!

I realized tonight that we haven't all been in the same place EVER because the last time we were all together was before Keagan, Riley and Tess were born. That time just happened to be my amazing fathers funeral.

He would have cherished days like today. A day surrounded by his kids and grandkids would have been a dream holiday for him. I missed him even more today then I usually do.

We had Bouncin Bears in the morning and Bowling in the late afternoon. There was constant playing and having fun with the cousins all in between. The day ended with a special Pakka Breakfast just like my dad would have made. And then all the kids playing upstairs and the adults talking for hours downstairs. It was such a great day for us all. Now bring in the Turkey and pie!!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nutin Like a Cousin

Our cousins are here from Colorado!! Henderson, Kennedy and Cambell all have gotten so big and it is so fun to have them here! All the kids played together so hard this morning I have never seen this house so dirty! Plus we had a dance party, a pizza party, and a popcorn party all in one night! And the partying has just begun since the Chicago cousins get here tomorrow! Don't you love holidays?

Oh yeah and my brother and his darling wife are here too. Its sad, but when you become a parent you become a side note. Especially when you have such cute kids like we do in my family!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Workin It

A good "babysitter" is hard to find! So I actually haven't ever really used one. I have always had my mom, my sister or Gama Linda to help me out. All three of them love Keags and Ris like their own children. Ok maybe my sister "Sa" might love them a little more then her own kids! And speaking of those darling 3 Foster girls, they have put their own time in helping me with the girls. And they do such a fantastic job! They too just might love my girls more then eachother.

It isn't often that I get time away. Mostly I schedule a "babysitter" for Rileys therapy and doctors visits. Occasionally there is dinner with friends. And today I had one so I could finish a project for work. I know, I know, I'm livin the high life!

So while I was working, one of the worlds best Gamas had the girls. And she had them workin too! Gamas and Coach don't mess around! And they are ridiculously so good to us!

Man do we love Gamas and Coach!! This seriously strenuous yard work was after a trip to our favorite donut shop. Lucky girls! They came home with dirty faces and huge grins! I'm just glad to see I'm not the only one workin around here!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time Flies!

You know the saying "Time flies when your having fun"? We've all heard it a million times before. But in actuality it should just be "time flies." The end. Because wether we are having fun or not, it seems time is just whizzing by.

Yesterday the Christmas tree went up. It's still bare and none of the other Christmas craziness has even been brought out of storage. But when the tree went up Keagan was so excited to plug and unplug the lights, Riley was very suspicious of a massive tree in the corner, and I thought "seriously, it's Christmas again?!"

This year has sped by so fast. Last year at this time life was very different. So that leads me to wonder what will be different by the time we put the tree up next year? What does our future year ahead hold?

If it's anything like this last year then the girls will too quickly get older, milestones will speed by, and achievements for each of them will come in their own time. Wether I like it or not, the next 365 days are going to just fly by. So we might as well have fun! We will give it all we've got! And then we really will be able to use the saying correctly.

Time flies when your having fun!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just a "Normal" Day

Warning...Brutally honest post.

Being a sibling of a special needs child is a very unique thing. As a sister to a disabled child, Keagan is so blessed to learn patience, compassion, tolerance and service at such a young age. Through out her life, Riley will bless Keagan in so many ways and teach her so many things. But being Riley's sister isn't just a list of pros. Not many people talk about or think about it, and to be honest about this is a little difficult. But there are sacrifices in having this special kind of family. Even for a three year old.

With Riley's very busy schedule of doctors appointments and therapy visits, very unfortunately Keagan is often left behind. The absolute worst is when Riley is in the hospital and I refuse to leave her there. I miss Keagan so much when I'm away. I too vividly remember a day during Riley's 17 day TCH NICU stay when they were 3 months. My sister brought Keagan down to the hospital just for me to sit in the car and hold and kiss her. There was alot of tears in that mini van!

Keagan has been forced to be even more independent then she already is, because Riley requires so much extra help and attention. Unfortunately there is only one of me. When the girls were about 2, I was feeding Riley and watching Keags feed herself. It hit me that I had quickly taught Keagan how to feed herself and then just always expected her to do so, so that I could feed Riley. When she falls asleep in the car or may be having a melt down, I have to just hold her hand while she walks instead of carrying her. My arms are already full with her unable to walk sister.

And there are experiences that may be missed or cut short for Keagan, because Riley might not be able to participate. We try our darndest to make play grounds work, while I carry Riley around the park. But McDonalds play lands are the worst! And if I dont have an older neice with me to carry Riley, they must be avoided. Movie theaters and other things may be just a little too hard for Riley, so unfortunately Keagan misses out too.

At this age, my sweet Keagan does so well with all of this. It's obvious she longs for more interaction with her sister. But now she has taken to her older sister role well and likes to help and make Riley laugh. There is so much information out there about what Keagan may go through in the future. Resentment and embarrassment are such ugly terms, but they just might surface and will need to be faced head on.

Until then I will love my Keags as much as I can and teach her to look at the blessings she has. And I will also teach her it's okay to enjoy just a "NORMAL" day. Running errands, shopping and going to the park with mommy. For a three year old, that's about as "normal" as it gets! There was no wheelchairs or diverted attention today as Riley was at school. Of course we miss our Riley but it's good for Keagan to have her "normal" time.

I pray Keagan will grow into a loving twin sister who jumps at the chance to provide everything possible for her special sister. But I also pray she grows up to have her own "normal" achievements, dreams and life. It may be tricky to do both. But I think Keagan is just the type of girl to pull it all off! Literally...thank heavens! The Lord new exactly what he was doing when He sent a very special Keagan to be the sister of a very special Riley!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Special Treat

Never have I been happier to give a three year old a Popsicle! She fed it to herself!

Okay maybe I gave her two.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Love Letter

Dear MY BED,

I must confess my deep burning love for you! You are so warm and comfy, so reliable and consistent in my life. I must declare it to the world and shout it from the roof tops, in hope our love may grow.

I really do try to take care of you. But I realize I don't invest enough time into our relationship. This is something I try and change every day. Throughout the long days of mommy hood I miss and long for you. And each day my intention is to reunite with you earlier. It's just that pesky to do list and those two kids I have that often keeps us apart.

I must apologize for my recent indiscretions. I have overcrowded you by letting Keagan take complete advantage of you. She doesn't appreciate your pillow top, clean soft sheets and thick down comforter like I cherish it!

You must know it is not my desire for her to join us each night. It's just that there seems to be MONKEYS in her bed that are TICKLING her!! This is an argument that she is very insistent and upset about. I have tried in vain to coerce her into not sleeping with us. I have tried being stern, offering bribes, even barking threats in desperation and nothing works. When I ask her where they are she tells me they are all "foeded up" (folded up). And when she hands them to me I lecture them and then escort them outside. But the monkeys keep multiplying. Those pesky tickling monkeys are really preventing us from being alone! And I'm not too happy about it as our time is already limited!

Please don't lose hope! Because I haven't. We will discover a way to be together soon. I promise. I'm hoping the monkeys will soon be gone and that the to do list will get shorter. And then we will be free to let our love blossom! I can't wait!

Yours Truly,

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Sunday, November 13, 2011


Keagan has been asking to go feed the quack quacks all week, and I just haven't been able to get to it until today. I know the girl was over the moon excited, but surprisingly for just a 3 year old, not only for herself. As soon as we got out of the car Riley was doing her hop and arm wave excitement thingy in her wheelchair. Yes that is a very technical term. And Keagan says to me "mom look how excited Riyee is!" with a huge grin!

Once we fed the ducks our 2 sleeves of saltines, and after I was snapped at by one feisty little quack quack, we got a chance to take some pics- of course. In this moment that I'm so glad I captured, Keagan is quietly saying to her sister "isn't this so fun?" I know what Riley's answer was. With out question.

My Keagan can be spunky and protective of what's hers to her "little" sister. But she adores her!

Today she earned redemption for the recent launching objects at the head incident. I'm surprised redemption came so quick. And that it was this sweet!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sisterly Love

Let me set the scene for you...

Yesterday morning I was in the midst of cleaning up breakfast. Riley was in her hair chair watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse of course. Keagan was dilly dallying around the kitchen.

I had to step out of the room and after 2 or 3 minutes I hear Riley half crying, half whining in spurts. I yell to Keagan..."Keags is Riley ok?" She yells back..."I'm getting her somefing to play with." The naiveté in me thinks..."What a sweet girl to take care of her sister!" This does happen. It does! Really. Just not this time, quite like I would have liked...

On my quick return to the kitchen because Riley's cries/whines don't stop, I find a rather curious thing in action. Keagan is sitting on top of the counter with the cupboard open. She is grabbing things from said cupboard and THROWING them across the room AT her sister!! Riley and her high chair are covered and surrounded by bottle tops, medicine syringes, bottles, and even mosquito bite treatment supplies! When I catch Keagan off guard with a yell as I see her launch a bottle top at Rileys head, she looks at me in total confusion. Her hands out and head cocked like she is 14. She says "mooooom I was giving her somefing to play with!!!"

Well that pretty much explains it! Nothing better then sisterly love!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011


Hallelujah is right! Everyone is starting to feel better. On one hand that means Keagan won't lay on a blanket and watch Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast quietly all day. But on the other hand I'm not cleaning up barfies every hour, doing tons of laundry and feeling so bad for my baby! So I'll take it!

And it is all just in time for momma to get a little break tomorrow! Which is rare and really needed! Yeah!!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Angel

So it seems pictures of Keagan have flooded my blog lately. So I just had to share quick ones of my angel Riley.

She is LOVING school. I am loving when I get to pick her up!

Words have yet to be created to explain how much I love this little girl and her twin sister!

They are my heart!

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Perfect Reminder...

Its been a rough couple of days around these parts! From the youngest to the oldest of our little family of 3, we have had seizures, the barfies, and anxiety. We are also processing the death of two friends. We have done alot of sleeping, laundry, hazard clean up, and Princess movie watching! On tough weeks like this, its wonderful to have the perfect reminder of what I have found truly keeps me going. I may just have to make this my new mantra...

"Gratitude expressed to our Heavenly Father in prayer for what we have brings a calming peace—a peace which allows us to not canker our souls for what we don’t have. Gratitude brings a peace that helps us overcome the pain of adversity and failure. Gratitude on a daily basis means we express appreciation for what we have now without qualification for what we had in the past or desire in the future. A recognition of and appreciation for our gifts and talents which have been given also allows us to acknowledge the need for help and assistance from the gifts and talents possessed by others." -Robert D. Hales

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Ifs

Before I had kids there were so many "what ifs" to my life. But they were exciting and fun to think about. The "what ifs" back then were new adventures and opportunities waiting to knock. And then I had kids. And soon became a single mom.

Not only did I have two twin girls, and that changes everything for every mommy, but I had Riley. Having a disabled, special needs, and medically fragile child dramatically changes all of your "what ifs" forever!

This weekend has been a hard one for me. For some reasons I can clearly identify and for some I can't. When these days come I can't fight all those worrisome "what ifs" very well. On a normal day I fight them by counting my blessings and focusing on the today and the now. But on these rare bad days, I can't keep the flood gates closed.

What if Riley's lungs don't do well this winter? What if Riley's head never grows any larger? What if Riley starts having more and more seizures? What if Riley gets pneumonia? What if Riley never talks or walks? What if I can't provide their basic needs as I am struggling now? What if Keagan resents all the attention on Riley? What if Riley's heart gets worse? What if Riley requires a heart transplant? And the worst...what if my baby dies before I do? Or even worse then that...what if I die before her? Then who deals with the "what ifs?"

The fear occasionally envelops me. It leaves me in terror and loneliness as I must carry the "what ifs" all alone despite many who love and support both of us. This is such a raw feeling that I'm sure is very familiar to so many special needs moms and dads. A feeling which I wish none of us had to face! Especially alone.

The good thing is I have the Lord on my side. With Him there is no "what ifs." He knows His plan for all 3 of us and like always He will carry us through. Hopefully tonight He will take away those terrifying "what ifs." I hope He can help me close the flood gates and return back to counting my blessings. Otherwise I just may be consumed by these horrible "what ifs."

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Future Professionals

At the zoo today I may not have captured any pictures because I left my phone in the car. But I did capture a glimpse of what the girls could be when they're all grown up.

Almost can't bare to think of them that old! But...

Several times when we were walking to a new animal exhibit, Keagan would walk backwards and continuously motion dramatically for us to keep walking forward and follow her. She had her arms up directing traffic like the perfect little flight attendant! I know she would make that uniform look good!

And Riley will obviously be anything that will make people happy. Strangers are drawn to her and love to feel of the joy that surrounds her. Alot of Special Needs kids, especially those in hot pink wheelchairs, get lots of stares. But Riley doesn't get pity or judgmental stares as much as she gets sincere smiles and waves. As a grown up I'm sure she will continue to make people happy! Maybe she could be a professional carousel rider as I'm sure there has never in the history of the rides existence been a happier child on one!

Of course there is more options. Tonight in the bathtub Keagan was rolling around in the water and creating quite the jazz hands! So a synchronized swimmer is always a possibility!

The sky is the limit!!

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Arms In!

For quite some time we have had an issue with Keags and her car seat. She really isn't a fan of keeping her arms in the straps like she should for safety. I even had this cute police officer talk to her about it once. Now every time we see a cop car she says "he's going to tell me to put my arms in?" Lately she has taken to not only taking her arms out but also rolling down the window and sticking her head out so her hair flaps in the wind! This makes Riley laugh hysterically but I'm sure it's pretty alarming for passer by's to see a 3 year old acting like a dog!

Well today I didn't really think things through before starting a new tactic. I may have told her to put her arms in and roll up the window or she's going to fall out of the car. I took this genius idea of mine even further and told her she would get a huge owie and I might drive away. Yeah I have NO idea what I was thinking! I was tired and wanted her to be safe!

You should have seen the poor girls face! Her Asian eyes have never been so big! I felt bad but at the same time she kept her arms in the rest of the day! Let's just hope she doesn't have nightmares about it!

In my defense don't they always say safety first?! Maybe that's what her therapist will tell her in 20 years!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Only Tears Are Mine!

It was a big day today! Miss Riley did not cry when Miss Kellogg wheeled her away from me! She was a happy girl, which means she has a happy momma!

But then Miss Sassy Pants, otherwise known as Keagan, gave me a run for my money tonight! Somedays nigh night time just can't come soon enough! Now everyones in bed and we all survived another day!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Cute Date

While Riley was at school today, I had an adorable little lunch date.

Miss Keagan and I enjoyed lunch at McDonalds, the park, and renting "Spooky Buddies" from Red Box. As she sat across from me I was able to focus on how beautiful, how smart and how full of life my little girl is. We talked about 3 year old stuff and shared more kisses then she's usually willing to pass out!

I often feel guilt that Riley's schedule of therapies and doctors appointments means that I leave Keagan behind so often. So this one-on-one time is rare and incredibly precious to me! I really loved every minute of it! Even when she stole all my french fries!

Everyday, but especially days like this, I feel so honored and blessed to be her mom!

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We did our trick-or-treat
Until we had sore feet!

Halloween morning started out with a costume parade at Keagan's school. She was the cutest bumble bee, hands down.

After the rest of a busy day, we joined a ton of friends at a fun and incredibly decorated pizza party at the Skinners.

When we first started our trek, Keags wasn't too sure about this process. She was all about the free candy, but not sure about the strangers. She was happy to fill her bag as long as Sa had her hand.

On the other hand, from the beginning Riley was all in. Her wheelchair made maneuvering a little difficult but she was happy when she could get right up to the candy bowl and possibly dig right in herself.

One cute little girl thought Riley's wheelchair was just a really cool costume! I love the innocence of kids!

My bumble bees dragged me around a big block to fill up our bags. It was a fun and successful night. No "buzz" about it!

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