{Guest Post} Christmas Candy Clump Recipe

I have a guest post for you today from Veronica from Adventures of D and V, and she has a great recipe to share with you!  Thanks for guest posting for me while we adjust to having another baby around here, Veronica!


Hi there! I hope you are having a wonderful winter day! While Callie is snuggling her new little girl, I get to share a special (and super easy) recipe with you! But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Veronica. And I am the "V" in the Adventures of D and V. "D" is my best friend and husband Daniel.

About 3 years ago we embarked on a great adventures ~ married life! 
We started our little bog to document our every day adventures that we have together.

We have adventures in
and LOTS of 
Just to name a few.

Many of our adventures revolve around our little fixer upper house. 
We are currently in the middle of "Operation: Finish Basement".
Click {here} to find out more about that!

My favorite room in our whole house is the kitchen! 

I have so many good memories in kitchens. I loved watching my mom, grandmas, and great-grandmas cook. I loved when they would let me "help" when I was little. And when I got older they would teach me how they made the most delicious treats for me and my family to enjoy. Now that I have a kitchen of my own, I love making meals for friends and family. You could say that cooking is one of my love languages! Many of the recipes I make have special memories attached to them, which makes the treat all the more special. 

Every Christmas my Grandma Seger would make a smorgasbord of different Christmas candies. Special treats that she would only make at Christmas time. Chocolate covered cherries, peanut brittle, and turtles to name a few. All home made. She would package the treats in little boxes. And she took requests to make each box special. My special order was peanut brittle with out the peanuts. (yep, I'm a little weird like that!) Anyway, EVERYONE who knew my Grandma Seger (and even people who didn't know her) hoped each year that they would get a box of this special candy. Sadly, my Grandma Seger passed away this summer {You can read my 10 favorite memories of here HERE}.  Now she is in heaven with Jesus, but while she was still here, I got to learn how to make some of her special candies! And today I am going to teach you how to make a family favorite. 

All you need is 5 ingredients: 2 c. Rice Krispies, 1 1/2 c. Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, 1/2 can of mixed nuts, 2 c. mini marshmallows, and l package (24 oz.) Vanilla Almond Bark (normally found by the chocolate chips in the baking section of the grocery store).

Step 1: Melt Vanilla Almond Bark.

You can follow the directions on the package. It can be melted in the microwave, on the stove top, or in the oven. My Grandma melted hers in the oven, in a glass baking dish, so I do too. I set the oven to 250 degrees and stir evey 3 minutes or so....

Until it is melted like this

Step 2: Carefully mix in all the other ingredients. 

Tip #1 - You kind of need to work fast because as the almond bark cools, it hardens.

Tip #2 - Mix the cereal and nuts in first, add marshmallows last, it helps so the keep their form, you don't want them to melt too much. 

 Step 3: Use a spoon to scoop golf ball sized clumps of the mixture on to a wax paper lined cookie sheet.

 Step 4: Let the clumps cool completely. It should only take 20 minutes of so. 

Step 5: Peel off and enjoy! 

They are a little salty, a little sweet, a little crunchy, and a little squishy. 
Something for everyone! 

Do you have any special memories attached to special recipes? 

A Very Late Christmas Recap

 Every year we switch off holidays with each side of the family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year it was my side of the family for Christmas Eve and Derek's side of the family for Christmas Day!  So on Christmas Eve we gathered up the presents and headed off to my parent's house.

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We ate a great dinner and then opened presents!  Wyatt got lots of good stuff from his grandparents and aunts and uncles (and Derek and I got some good stuff too).


After presents we played games together and it was a lovely time!  I also had my mom snap a family picture of us.

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We went home and got Wyatt all dressed in his new pajamas - so cute!  Then we read him a bedtime story and put him to bed.  I love tucking Wyatt in on Christmas Eve, it just feels special, and I know it'll be more exciting as he get older and can understand that the next day is Christmas!

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After we got Wyatt settled, Derek and I put all his presents out under the tree and then settled down to drink some sparkling cider together on the couch and talk  Derek and I do that together every year after putting out the presents, and it's one of my favorite parts of Christmas Eve!

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The next morning we woke up to a beautiful layer of snow outside!  I was so excited to have a white Christmas!


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 We brought Wyatt upstairs, and I don't think he quite knew what to expect.


We opened out stockings while Wyatt ate breakfast!  Every year we go somewhere together to shop for stocking stuffers and try to avoid running into each other while we shop - this year we went to the mall!  Derek got me some shower gel, a bath fizzy, and nail polish for my stocking - I got him a card trick book, cards, chocolate, and a harmonica for his.  

After breakfast we took turns opening some presents with Wyatt!


We didn't get to all his presents that morning, but he really liked the presents we did get to open - a xylophone and several books!  Especially the xylophone - he played with that all morning - it was cute and we were glad he liked it so much!


Later we put him down for a nap and opened a few of our gifts.  I got Derek a couple shirts, a new shaver, and college football decals for his car.  He got me a skirt and sweater I wanted from Target, and Taylor Swift's new CD!  


We went light on our gifts this year because we decided to get a Nintendo Wii as a family gift!  We had a lot of fun playing with it the next day.


After that we got Wyatt up and got ready to go to Derek's mom's house for Christmas dinner!  We had a really nice time visiting, eating, and opening presents together, and Wyatt got to play with his cousins.  He loves hanging out with his cousins and it's always sad when we have to leave!


By the time we got home it was a little too late to open any more of Wyatt's presents, so we just read the Christmas story together and put him to bed.  Then Derek and I did our annual present-hunt - we hide a present for each other around the house to open on Christmas night! I think this will be fun to do with the kids someday too, when they're bigger.  Derek got us movie tickets (yay for a date night in the near future!), and I got him some more cologne.  

It was a lovely Christmas Day, and I was sorry to see it end.  It was nice though because Derek had the next day off as well, so we stretched Christmas out through the 26th!

The next day we slept in opened another one of Wyatt's presents - a wooden dinosaur puzzle!  He had fun figuring it out.


Then we went out to lunch, and came back and put Wyatt down for a nap - then Derek and I had a chance to try out our new Wii!

Later we opened the last of Wyatt's gifts after he woke up.  Poor kid, he was tired and I think a little overwhelmed with all the present-opening over the last several days.

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He perked up once we got his stocking stuffers open though - he loved his new slinky!

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Then he was tired out again and I got in some snuggle-time with my boy.

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We spent the rest of the evening eating dinner together and playing, and then it was time to put Mr. Wyatt to bed and wrap up the Christmas festivities for another year.  


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Got to have time to jump on the bed though.

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Tired boy and his blanket.

If you read Gwen's birth story you know how the rest of that evening went!  We had such a fun and special time celebrating Christmas with Wyatt this year though, and I wanted to make sure to get all of those memories down!

1/52 - Helper and Hungry

I've seen this project going around blogland of taking a picture each week of your little ones throughout the new year.  It started at this blog.  I think this might be a photo challenge I can actually keep up on, and I like the idea of having some accountability to remind me to take thoughtful pictures of my kiddos every week in 2013.  So I'm going to start in on it (though a little late)!  

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I'm back-dating the first couple posts, and this is one of my favorite pictures of my kiddos from the first week of January.  It cracks me up - little Gwen was hungry and Wyatt was trying to give her the pacifier to calm her down.  This was one of their first real interactions as well, and it was so sweet and funny!  Wyatt still thinks the pacifier is the answer to everything whenever Gwen is upset.

Gwendolyn's Birth Story

 I thought this would be a good post to ring in the New Year, especially since today is our due date and Miss Gwen is one week old, so here is the story of our sweet daughter's birth!

It was the day after Christmas - we had a lovely celebration the day before.  The plan was to spend a nice relaxing day together opening the presents we didn't get to on Christmas Day, and playing with out new together gift - a Nintendo Wii!

We slept in pretty late, cleaned up and put away some of our Christmas gifts, and then we decided to head out and get some lunch at Qdoba.  By the time we got back it was past Wyatt's nap time, so we put him down for a little while, and then Derek and I tried out a few of our Wii games.

I was feeling fine, but generally just a little crampy here and there throughout the day.  I was actually feeling optimistic about the cramps because I had a secret hope that she would come on Derek's birthday, and I thought this was a good sign!

We got Wyatt up and opened a couple more gifts with him, ate dinner together, and watched one of Wyatt's movies that he got for Christmas (Praise Baby - he loves those!).  

Right around 7:00 PM I started noticing some actual contractions - I knew they were contractions because they were slightly painful and wrapped from the front of my belly around to my back.  I started discreetly timing them with an app on my phone while we watched the movie with Wyatt and got him ready for bed.  They were coming about 9 minutes apart, but they weren't too painful yet, so I didn't say anything to Derek because I wanted to make sure they were the real thing.

I took a picture of my almost-39-week-belly though, just in case.

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We read Wyatt a bedtime story and got him in bed - it was a sweet time putting him to bed, because I think I knew it was the last time we'd do that as a family of three.  

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My cute boy, jumping on the bed in his Christmas pajamas.

After he went to sleep Derek and I came upstairs and decided to watch one of our movies that we got ourselves for Christmas.  All through the movie my contractions were coming 9-12 minutes apart - still nothing I really had to breathe through yet, but they were getting a bit more painful.

After the movie ended I told Derek that I had been having contractions, and that they actually hurt, but that they were only 12 minutes apart (they had slowed down a little).  He was concerned but I told him they weren't bad yet so we had some time, but we might be having the baby on his birthday after all!  

We decided to go to bed and get some rest, and by the time I actually climbed into bed (about 10:30 maybe?), they were getting a bit more painful - I started to slow-breath through some of them while Derek timed them on his phone.  They were still coming 12 minutes apart at this point, and I  told Derek I thought it would stink if they just stayed at 12 minutes apart all night, because we wouldn't get a bit of sleep and we'd be exhausted by the time the baby came (I really thought they might stay 12 minutes apart for hours, because they seemed pretty steady right about there).

Then right around 11:30 they all of a sudden went from 12 minutes apart to 6-7 minutes apart immediately.  They also got significantly more painful - I switched to the "he-he" breathing technique and Derek thought we should call my doctor and my mom.  I know they usually say to head in at about 5 minutes apart, so I didn't think they'd want me to head in yet anyway, but after a couple contractions Derek talked me into agreeing to call my mom to come over and stay with Wyatt.  He called her about 11:45 AM.

By the time he got off the phone with my mom I decided I'd go ahead and call my doctor just to see, since the contractions were getting noticeably more painful (but still pretty manageable), and we live about an hour away from our hospital.  I talked to my doctor around 12:00 AM (happy birthday to Derek!), and she said to come on in and they'd check me out at least, so we started gathering the last few things we would need to take with us to the hospital. I did notice that I was shaking a bit between contractions, and it crossed my mind that shaking was a sign of being in transition, but I thought there was no way I was that far along in my labor, and I dismissed the shaking as nerves. At this point I had to pause and breath through contractions but they were still 6-7 minutes apart and I still felt like things were under control and we had plenty of time.

That didn't last long.  Around 12:15 AM I had a contraction downstairs (they were getting stronger again by now - I had to get down on my hands and knees during the contractions because I had a lot of pain in my back, and that was the most comfortable position to be in).  I went upstairs to get some aromatherapy lotion I thought might be helpful (because you know, I still had plenty of time left to labor), and before I could get back downstairs I had another one.  They dropped from 6-7 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart immediately (again)!  Somehow I thought they would come closer together more gradually, but both times they just got closer together immediately.  

At this point they were definitely getting stronger and harder to breathe through (I was on my last breathing technique by now), and we were still waiting for my mom to get there - I was getting a little more nervous by this point because things seemed to be getting worse pretty fast. Derek was trying to hustle me out to the car so we could just be ready to drive, but I couldn't imagine sitting in the car through those contractions.  

My mom got there, and by the time I got out to the car (around 12:30 AM) the contractions had changed again - the first one I had in the car was so intense, I ended up crying out in the middle of it because I couldn't breathe through it anymore.  I felt a couple gushes that I thought might be my water (later figured out it was blood), and I yelled out to Derek that I wanted to push, and I tried to breathe so I wouldn't.  

He drove as fast as he could out of our subdivision (the roads were icy from our white Christmas), and I had a couple more contractions before we got out to the highway.  I was trying really hard to just breathe through them, but there was so much pressure and pain at the peak of the contraction that I ended up crying out instead.  I felt like I could push, but Derek reminded me to breathe and try not to as he drove.

Derek was on the phone with my mom telling her what was going on and he kept saying I wasn't going to make it to the hospital - he started to pull off into a fire station right across the highway from us, but I was in denial and thought we could still make it, so I told him to drive and just get me to the hospital.  

He was sweet and got on the highway instead, but we made it a couple hundred feet before I had another contraction that made me scream, so Derek called 911 and pulled over.  When he pulled over I was begging him to keep driving and just get me to hospital (the hospital that was still an hour away), but he said we weren't making it and that I needed an ambulance.  I have a smart husband - I was so glad he was there because he made such a good call there, and I wasn't thinking clearly.

A policeman responded to the call first and stopped to make sure we were okay, and I started to have another contraction.  I lowered my car seat back and got on my hands and knees again, tried to breathe, and ended up screaming that I wanted to push (but I didn't yet), and praying for the Lord to help me.  By the time that one ended the policeman had the door open, the ambulance was there, and Derek was shouting at the EMT's to get me to the ambulance before I had another one.  He really took charge and made sure I was okay, and I was so proud of him.  

I had some presence of mind to ask Derek to at least grab the small hospital bag that had the camera in it (the important stuff, you know), and then I hustled over to the gurney they had for me and climbed up.  They tried to strap me down to it, but I had another contraction and told them I needed the strap off.  They wheeled me up into the ambulance, probably right around 12:40 AM.

There were four EMT's, all men in their early 20's.  At first someone said Derek could drive down behind the ambulance, but I was crying and said I needed Derek with me.  I wanted him to ride in the back, but the EMT's said there wasn't room and he couldn't, which made me panicky because I wanted Derek with me.  Then they told me that there was a window up front and I turned around and saw Derek there and I could talk with him, so I was okay.

There were three EMT's in the back with me, two on my left and one behind me.  The one behind me took my blood pressure and and pulse, one on left put in an IV, and the other one donned some gloves so he could be prepared.  

When they put the IV in my arm one of them said they might be able to get me some medication and I told them to give me whatever they could, even though I hated that idea because I know IV meds can affect the baby - but in that moment I just wanted to make it to the hospital if I could. But then the guy told me that he didn't think they had any pain meds they could give me that would be okay for the baby at this point, so I didn't get anything.  

Amidst all this I was pausing every minute or two trying to breath through a contraction, and I always ended up screaming instead.  Derek said the guy driving the ambulance sped up and put on the siren when he heard me screaming, so I guess it did some good!  During one of the contractions I felt a really big gush and the guy told me my water had broken (which I obviously knew too).  I remember crying out prayers for the Lord to help me (at first I think the EMT's thought I was telling them to help me, but then they realized I wasn't talking to them), screaming that I wanted to push, and wimpering "I can't" (not "I can't push", more like "I can't do this" because I was scared and I really didn't want to deliver in the ambulance).

We weren't in the ambulance long before I felt her shift down, and I just knew her head was right there.  I told the EMT she was right there and asked him to check, and he just said that the baby wasn't crowning yet.   They kept asking if I wanted to lay back, but I said absolutely no.  I started to realize that they knew what to do if something went wrong, and maybe the basics of the birth process, but that was it!  I was glad they were there because I knew they could do something if anything went wrong, but I don't think they probably covered "how to help a woman in labor" in their training!   

During all this Derek was watching from the front seat with his neck craned, and he kept trying to shout out things to help the EMT's know what to do for me.  But it was very chaotic, so I don't think they were listening.  He said at one point he saw one of them looking something up on his phone and he thought it looked like he was Googling how to deliver a baby!  We said later that Derek should have been back there, because he probably knew more what to do, with our birthing classes and the fact that he's done this with me once before!

I asked the EMT's several times if I could push, when it would be okay to push, should I push, but it became apparent that they really didn't know what to tell me.  One of them said I'd have to tell them when I wanted to push, and it depended on whether I wanted to deliver there or at the hospital.  And in that moment I really just didn't want to deliver in the ambulance, so I tried not to push.

After a few more contractions I asked where we were on the road, and how far we were from the hospital and one of them said "a long way".  I think at that point I really realized that I wasn't going to make it to the the hospital - between contractions I remember wimpering and saying I wasn't going to make it.  Though I still thought if I could just hold off on the pushing I might make it there, so it was a really weird place emotionally.  

I never wanted to be one of those women in labor who was screaming through every contraction, but there was just no way at that point that I could just calmly breathe through contractions.  It felt better to scream.  Probably, in hindsight, because I was involuntarily pushing a little bit while screaming, and it felt better than not pushing at all. 

I think I was freaking one of them out when I would scream, and at one point he said "Just calm down, it's okay!" and I remember thinking that he should try giving birth in the back of an ambulance and then tell me to calm down.  I think the guy behind me realized that someone should say something encouraging, because he started to rub my back during contractions and remind me to breathe, and told me I was doing great even when I was screaming - I was so glad that guy was back there!

A lot of the memory of the pain has faded, which I am grateful for, but I don't know if I could describe quite how it feels to be that ready to push and still trying not to - it was more than the pain, it was the mental torture of wanting so badly to push!  That was the worst part of it.

Finally I think I had a sub-conscious realization that the EMT's weren't going to tell me when to push, that I was most definitely ready to push, and that none of it was going to get better until I got her out - so with my next contraction I decided it was time and I closed my eyes and pushed.  It took one contraction, two pushes/screams (none of this hold your breath and bear down stuff), and then she was out at 1:01 AM!  I asked it she was here (probably more for the EMT's benefit than anything, because I obviously knew she was), and I opened my eyes and saw her for the first time.

She was laying there, squirming while the EMT's cleaned her up, and I just gave a happy laugh/cry and said she was beautiful.  And she was.  

I called out to Derek that she was here, and I asked if she was okay and if she was breathing since I hadn't heard her cry yet. The EMT suctioned her mouth and said she was doing fine.  Then I heard her first little squeak of a cry. I heard Derek call out saying to let me hold her (he remembered how important it was to me to hold her right away), and I said "Yes, can I hold her?", and the EMT who caught her said they had to clean her up a little first.

I think I decided the cleaning up was taking too long though, because after a few more seconds I asked again if I could hold her and reached out and grabbed her just as the nice EMT behind me told me to go ahead.  

She was a little blue, and I asked if she was okay again, and they said she was fine and put a little oxygen mask near her face and covered her with a blanket.  She opened her eyes and looked around and looked at me, and I couldn't stop saying how pretty she was.  I kissed her sweet little nose and told her I loved her.  She had dark hair all matted down to her head and the prettiest eyes and cutest lips that kept forming a little "o" shape - she was so precious.

They stopped the ambulance for a minute so Derek could come back and see, and he said "there's my little girl".  It was sweet.  They had clamped the umbilical cord and let Derek cut it, and then we had to get back on the road, so Derek went back up front.

One of the EMT's asked what her name was, and I said I needed to ask what Derek thought first, since we had two possible names picked out.  I honestly looked at her and couldn't decide what I thought, so I wanted to ask Derek.  The EMT's joked about whether they would get naming privileges since they delivered her, and the nice one said it was the first baby they had delivered (it was cute, you could tell they were all proud of themselves)!  

I started getting more painful contractions after a couple minutes, and they had to press on my stomach to help the placenta detach, but after that was all done I felt a million times better, and so relieved that she was here!

They asked if I wanted to try feeding her, and I said we could, so they grabbed a blanket and made a "fort" for us so I could have some privacy while I tried to feed her (they proudly talked about how they got to build her her first fort, and it made me chuckle).  She didn't really want to eat right then though, so we just snuggled the rest of the way to the hospital.

Once we got there they bundled us up the best they could and wheeled us in.  There were a bunch of nurses inside the doors and they asked if I was Callie and said they had been waiting for me.  There were a couple other patients in the halls and they said congratulations as we passed.  Then they took us up to labor and delivery to check us both out.

My doctor came in and stitched me up, and said that I guess now we knew I had fast labors!  It was my favorite doctor on call, so it would have been great if she could have delivered her, but it was nice to have her meet the baby first anyway.  I was just glad everything went so smoothly and she got here safely!

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One of the first pictures with mom the night she was born.

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One of the first pictures with dad the next morning.

The EMT's all came up to labor and delivery with us to make sure we were okay, and I apologized for splitting their eardrums!  We shook all their hands and thanked them and then they headed out.  The nurses thought it was cute because they all came up and hung around until we were settled.  They all did a great job, and if I ever run into them around town (small towns, you know), I'll thank them again for everything they did to help deliver our girl!

Derek looked at her again while she was being warmed up, and I asked what he thought her name should be (since I still couldn't decide at all).  He looked at her and said that he just thought she looked like Gwendolyn Ruby - and that was her name!  Gwendolyn means "fair and blessed", and we liked Ruby because she's our precious gem.  

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They moved us over to the mom and baby side after they made sure we were both doing well, and we tried to get a little sleep before all the family came to meet her the next day!  The hospital stay was pretty uneventful between checks, feedings, and visitors.  We got a lot of snuggle time in between everyone coming in and out though, so I think it was a nice mixture of both.


My mom and sister brought Wyatt down the next morning, and Wyatt was the first person to come in and meet Gwen.  We put her in the bassinet and then we had Wyatt come in and sit with me while Derek showed him the baby.  He just looked at her and didn't do too much - I think it was pretty overwhelming at first.  After my mom and sister met Gwendolyn they went back up the hill to bring down our car (since we had to leave it on the side of the road), and they left Wyatt with us, so we just relaxed together and snuggled and watched TV - it was a really sweet time to spend as our first moments together as a family of four.

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We gave her a bath the evening of the 27th, and she hated it, but I loved seeing her hair all fuzzy and clean for the first time!


The hospital had a massage therapist there one day, so I got a lovely massage before I went home.  We stayed through the 27th and then went home on the 28th.  We technically could have stayed a day longer, but I was feeling great so we decided to just head home.  


We dressed Gwen in her little going home outfit, packed everything up, and then headed out!  We met my mom to get Wyatt (he told Derek he missed him when Derek picked him up - it was sweet!), and then we got all four of us settled and drove home.  Wyatt kept looking at Gwendolyn the whole way, and when she cried a couple times he got concerned and asked if she was okay - it was so cute.

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We celebrated Derek's birthday and I gave him his presents when we got home - though he keeps saying his biggest birthday present was Gwendolyn!

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The last week we've just been relaxing and trying to get into a routine!  Wyatt has been handling the change really well so far - he does little things sometimes to get our attention, but they're all positive things, and I'm trying to make sure we get some time to play together when Gwen is sleeping.  At first he didn't want to touch Gwen - we would tell him he could touch her if he wanted, but he just came close and looked at her, grinned, and then went on his way. But yesterday while I was holding her he felt brave and reached out one finger and touched her head - then when I was burping her he started gently patting her back too! The other day she was crying, so Wyatt came over and grabbed her pacifier and gave it back to her.  He's such a good big brother, helping with his baby sister.


She's such a sweet baby and is pretty content most of the time.  I think she has her days and nights mixed up because we've had several rough nights, but she went four hours between feedings last night so I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  She likes to be warm, just like Wyatt did, and she likes to snuggle and be held.


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I always think the matching hospital bracelets are so cute - I took a picture of them when Wyatt was born too.

We rang in the New Year with Miss Gwen, up for a feeding, and I wouldn't have it any other way!  We feel so blessed to have her here, and blessed that her entrance into the world went so smoothly, especially since we didn't make it to the hospital!

I love seeing my two kids together, I love when I get to snuggle with both of them at the same time, I love seeing Derek with his new daughter, I love having all four of us home together, and I feel like the luckiest girl alive.  Just soaking up these precious times together.  Right now, life is sweet.




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