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The Sunshine State {Get it Going}

Posted by casey on July 31, 2013 in Caden, Escaping Home, Everett

Let me tell you, after an early flight and long day of travel you would think the boys would want to konk out like their Mama did. Wrong!  A short car snooze was enough to boost their sleepy morale and upon pulling into Pop and Nana’s driveway, they were off and running – on a tractor.

According to Caden, there were serious items to be checked off his “I’m at Pop & Nana’s List”, from his memory of last fall’s visit. The winning first task?  A lawnmower tractor ride.  He truthfully hasn’t stopped talking about his tractor ride from last fall, since well, last fall. So, it was quite high on his priority list once he found out we would be visiting again.  Conveniently for him, his car door opened right next to…the tractor.  The second we pulled in it was a big “Oh, look at this! I think we need to ride on this.”

Suitcases dumped inside, changed out of plane ride PJs.  Get on tractor.

Thankfully Pop has a big open greenbelt area directly across from his driveway which is perfect for blades up lawnmower tractor rides.  Caden remembered just what to do and was convinced he was ready to drive while Everett was just giggling and trying to decide if this was really happening. Yes son, yes it was.  “Get your tractor riding pants on because you’re up next!”

The only way we could keep the boys from continuing to beg for rides or fight over pretend driving it parked in the garage was to put it “night night”.  I found just about every greasy garage towel I could and we covered the whole tractor and each wheel one towel at a time while saying “Night night tractor, have a good rest, we will see you later when you feel better, night night.”  Seriously we did it.  Seriously it worked.

We may have even sung a tractor lullaby.
With his long awaited tractor ride checked off his must-do list Caden’s trip was off to a fabulous start and Everett was just seeing the potential…and that his big brother seemed to already know a thing or two about Pop & Nana’s house.

They took a drink, ate a five minute snack and then on to the next. Go, Go Go! Nothing beats a tractor ride like finding the baby floats while wearing your floaties to play bumper rafts to cool off!

 
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The Sunshine State {On Our Way}

Posted by casey on July 30, 2013 in Caden, Escaping Home, Everett, Life as I Know It

Two weeks ago I embarked on a journey which included checking off a task from “The Bucket List No One Should Have”, flying alone with two toddlers. Insert dooming music here. Truth be told the boys did WONDERFUL! Caden flew with me last fall so he remembered and was extremely excited to ride on an airplane again. We had many talks about how I was going to need his help and what he could do to help; hold Everett’s hand, be a good listener, share his seat, etc.  We made a countdown checklist in the days leading up to our trip to see Nana and Pop to wrangle his growing anticipation and give a visual for them both.

The morning arrived and before the sun rose we plucked them from bed, put them in the car in their PJs and off to the airport we went. With a minor meltdown when Daddy said his official goodbyes at the security line by Everett…through all of security his first bottle was downed by his request and we were cleared and headed to the gate.  (Getting two lunchboxes, sippy cups, bottles, iPADs, backpacks and a stroller all through is marathon worthy, and I am thankful that my boys aren’t “runners” and stay right next to me holding hands. I have a pretty set method after flying twice with kids…four times if you count both ways!)

The real fun finally began, AIRPLANES!

My plan worked and we were able to maintain a row to ourselves the entire trip to Florida. (Everett didn’t have his own ticketed seat since he is still under two.) We had to stop in Austin and switch planes but the short layover worked great for restroom stops, special snack breaks and some running around time before boarding again.  It was nice for everyone to have a little space for just a bit and let them feel somewhat free.

I bribed the passengers sitting in front of and behind us with treat bags so that they would hopefully feel sorry for me instead of angry with me if the kids were wild-men.  Fortunately, they were entertained and maintained in our row with the backpacks full of games, movies, colors, playdough, trucks and special snacks.  Exhausting for me, fun-filled for them!

The boys were SO excited to see Nana and Pop that they ran in wild circles hiding, and tickling and tackling and giggling once we met.  I think the look on Caden’s face in these pretty much sums up his feelings on the arrival.

Over the states and into the clouds, to grandparent’s house we flew!

And then they passed out fifteen seconds into the car ride.

While the boys were resting up for a fun week ahead I was only thinking of what adult drink I was going to enjoy for conquering the feat of flying with them both.  I was so proud of both of them and yes, myself for doing it and it going so well.

Stay Tuned for Tales from the Sunshine State Trip

 
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Weekly Graces {Week 28 & 29}

Posted by casey on July 30, 2013 in Weekly Graces, Writing Nook

Now that we are back and settled in from our Florida trip, I am getting caught up with the past two weeks of graces among other things!

Cheers to surviving traveling alone with my boys, spending time with family and getting settled back at home!

Week 29


1. A new park overlooking fountains with sea water in the air.
2. Scotch in a champagne glass.
3. Finishing a book.
4. A bunny appearing 45 seconds after I bribed my bored boys on a morning walk because maybe we would see a bunny. Thank you Lord for hearing my bribe.
5. Texts with Jordy
6. The instant giggles and squeals of my boys when a game of chase begins.


7. Sunshine
8. Actually watching your children grow up right before you.
9. Bedtime songs


10. Sunrise over the water with my boys.
11. Humidity lending itself to no fuss, curly hair for me.
12. Humidity lending itself to clown curls for Everett.
13. Seeing four generations with my 92 year old grandmother.


14. Everett napping soundly for the first 1.5 hrs of the plane.


15. Watching my boys run to their Dad upon our arrival.
16. Waking from a 13 hour sleep/coma.
17. Getting life clean and back together after being away.
18. Headphones
19. Caden’s excitement about returning to school.
20. A friend watching out for him by covering his pizza day $ since I didn’t know it was yesterday due to being gone.
21. Wine with my husband

Week 28


1. Sending myself to bed to get better.
2. Early stages of packing.
3. The boys getting extra Daddy time.
4.The promise of Mexico.
5. The promise of girl talk, husband time, sun & sand.
6. Knowing the boys will love their grandparents coming to take care of them.
7. Cool temperatures.
8. A rainy summer day.
9. Calendar organization.
10. Getting upcoming weekends set to see family and the kids’ cousins.
11. Ziplock baggies for optimal packing for 3 people, 1 suitcase.


12. Courage.
13. Helpful passengers carrying a bag or giving a compliment.


14. Children who behave.
15. Grandparent and grandchild Joy.


16. Worn out children who sleep in just a bit


17. Walking to discover new places.
18. Sunshine, swimming and love.
19. Sunrise breakfast outside by the pool.
20. Ocean waves and counting on the next one…and the next one…and the next one.
21. Time for Reading

 
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Remember When

Posted by casey on July 26, 2013 in Escaping Home, Snapshots

Remember that time I went to Italy for two weeks.
Three Months Ago?

I Spy St. Peter’s {Rome}

Where has the time gone?

I Spy a Chandelier {Venice}

I know where the pictures went.  On my external hard drive.
Where they are still sitting untouched.

I Spy Resting Gondolas {Venice}

Ah Italy.  I am getting to you.
Picture by Picture. Memory by Memory.

 
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Americana in a Snapshot or Twenty

Posted by casey on July 25, 2013 in Caden, Everett, Family, Life as I Know It, Nieces and Nephews Oh My!

I thought I would start of getting back from our out of town travels by catching up and wrapping up our wonderful, fun and family filled 4th of July with a picture summary and let you fill in the words.

Let’s see.

Oh yes, we started off with a red-wagon ride, a parade and a fire truck sighting.  All-American? I think so.

There were sno-cones,

And swimming with Pa-Pa.
Gold Star Earned Right There

And Swimming with Hannah
No Gold Stars Earned There.

Bicycle Rides with Cousins and Uncle

Family Snuggles

Bubbles, Baseball and Frisbees.

And Watermelon.  Oh the Watermelon.

Red, White & Blue, Sun, Water, BBQ, Outdoor Play, Family, Naps, Dirt, Parades.
4th of July Love.

 
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Letterwork Summer School {ABC – E & F}

Posted by casey on July 13, 2013 in Letterwork, Writing Nook

Plugging through the alphabet week by week. If you are just catching on, you can also get schedules and materials for letters A&B, and C&D.

Out outings show pictures from our zoo trip, but you can make it as simple as “searching for elephants” at your local Target – baby clothes, books, on food boxes.  Need it to be simpler?  Search for the letter E!  You will be surprised at how quickly the kids will start seeing and spotting related items and letters as you stroll along…and maybe pick up a candle, shirt, pack of stationary you didn’t need.
Ah Target, you get me every time! Enjoy!

Search for Elephants at the Zoo

Make Something to Eat Together

Letter E Week Schedule

Recognizing Letter E Wks, Tracing Letter E Wks

Visit the Fire station & Fire Trucks!

Letter F Week Schedule

Recognizing Letter F Wks, Tracing Letter F Wks

Intro to Letterwork – A & B

Letters C & D

Don’t forget to check out the current giveaway going on for you and your kiddos!

 
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Weekly Graces {Week 26 & 27}

Posted by casey on July 12, 2013 in Weekly Graces, Writing Nook

Weekly Graces

Week 26

Cheers to family, fun, and holiday celebrations.

1. New outings.
2. Giving my Friday afternoon off to Colter.
3. Lavender Epsom Salt Bath
4. Coffee, shopping, pedicure. Girl time.


5. My “baby” sleeping on me.
6. First non family babysitter date night.


7. A house full of clean sheets.
8. Baking.
9. Sewing.
10. Friendship and our kids’ friendship.


11. Joy in so many little ones.
12. Dinner in bed and lights out at 8:20.
13. Individual play time with my youngest.
14. New snack finds for Everett.
15. My husband.
16. Delicious Gluten free, Dairy Free treats from Tulu’s Bakery.


17. A nice conversation with my Dad and Jill.
18. Vacation plans.
19. Parades


20. A breeze.
21. Cousins building bonds.

Week 27
Cheers to health.
What we don’t appreciate when we have it and desperately wish for when we are ill.

Friday
1. Starbucks
2. Afternoon snuggles.
3. Girl talk with my sister in law
4. Husband’s equal help through late night wakings from a sick boy.
5. After hour pediatric care.


6. The joy of a great picture.
7. The sweetness in an engaged couple.
8. A tiny photo assistant behaving and helping while brother was sick at home.


9. Quiet time with Caden and Daddy.
10. A generous man at NTB getting an employee to pick up a tire on his own time and bring it to that store for me after he saw both of my sick boys with me and the nail in the side of my tire as we were on our way to the doctor.
11. New kid movies.
12. A pediatrician who calls in the evenings to check on the boys and makes decisions and appts for the next day.


13. Morning hugs.
14. T-Shirts
15.Homemade coconut milk fruit shakes to soothe the boys.


16. Epsom salt baths.
17.husband coming home early to take care of the kids.
18. Seeing my boys health improving even if mine was worsening.
19. Going back to bed for a few hours.
20. Delivering a successful engagement photo session.
21.Milkshakes

On that note, week 26 marked the halfway point for 2013!

 
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Makes Sense {Giveaway}

Posted by casey on July 11, 2013 in Contests & Giveaways, Life as I Know It

When Caden was a baby, we did the Gymboree classes for awhile as something for he and I to do together, something out of the house, and another new learning environment.  I had some reservations about the purpose and a really hard time swallowing the price for what we got, especially on how far away the nearest one was for us to take advantage of open gym time.  It was really only affordable because we asked for giftcards for holidays to there to help.  Once I had Everett it was near impossible to get there, properly interact with him and the class instructions while carrying a screaming, sick infant in a Bjorn or carseat every time.  When we finally were at a place to be able to go, I was going to have to pay for both of them full price.  So we took a hiatus. Forever.

We have tried lots of places over the past seasons, bounce house gyms, gymnastics gyms, a million parks and the list goes on.  I am always looking for something new for the boys that feels safe, clean, fun and educational. (plus the added bonus of physically wearing them up – long naps anyone?)

I found it!

Sense-Able Gym

It was on my summer bucket list to get to as I knew it had newly opened and my teacher’s heart had already fallen in love based on their website and general description of the gym’s purpose, goals and abilities.  You must read about it.

A couple of weeks ago we finally made it there, and are hooked. One of the things I really loved about the environment is how many options it gives kids in a relatively small, controlled space.  It feels free roam for them but is greatly watched over, spaced out and blocked off where needed.  When you walk in (which you have to ring a bell as the door is always locked, love this safety element) there is a “classroom” immediately on your left.  It serves as another playspace when individually therapy or lessons aren’t going on but also as a place for a pre-school aged group to meet, learn and gather.  There is the glow-light table for magnetic blocks and other light-up fun, a large dollhouse, kitchen playset, table for tasks and toy buckets a plenty.  You will notice that my boys have made themselves right at home in most pictures.

As you continue down the hallway there is a room on the left that the doors stay closed to just so that everything is in there – the i-Pad room!  What a great way for kids to have the experience to start learning and seeing some of this technology if they don’t at home or another space for older kids while younger siblings are in a different room etc.  Directly across from this is the Art Alley.  I have a hard time saying “my favorite” when it comes to this gym, so I will say this concept is my favorite.  I love that they have taken all of these different nooks as areas for the kids to have different options of tasks to tackle when there.  So, every time we go we play, climb, learn and take on a quick art project in an easy-to clean up, everything is right there for you environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are completely open to this space, place and everything in it being open to and for your kids. So, they always have an art project prepped for that week that you can do (this was fireworks with dot paint) but you are able and allowed to use any of the wonderful supplies they have their for you so nicely organized and labeled in all of the buckets. (teacher brain going crazy in here).

Straight down the hallway is the gate to the main gym.  This is the only area that is gated off to keep the play and therapy that is going on in there, well, in there.  But it isn’t any old gym.  Just as with out front, the options of things to do add-on every direction you look and my favorite part?  It all serves a sensory purpose.  Designed as a place for all children and children who may have some sensory difficulties to be able to learn how to take those head on, everything is a texture, sound, sight, physical, fun, relaxing learning opportunity waiting to be had.

The staff is kind, caring and 100% there for you and your child.  I was so impressed with how each of them interacted with my children in a patient, educational and yes, protective way.  Such a pleasant and positive adult interactive experience with someone other than me.  Speaking of me, yes, I was in there with them going from thing to thing, but, if you see that large window in the top right of the climbing wall picture…that is the window from the parent room, yes, the parent room.  If your child is doing fine and you are comfortable you are welcome to sit in the nicely decorated with a “you’re at the beach background” parent room to read/work etc. at bar table set up for just you while overlooking your child work and/or play in the gym! (you can see the two windows in the swing picture below too on the blue wall)

Each child gets to be there own and take on things how they would individually. You can see that Caden likes sitting on this board swing, while Everett lays on it and some even stand.  In the background can you see the man holding that large black bag?  It is actually a very stretchy, thick cocoon swing.  Caden LOVES it.  He didn’t try it his first time but now he is always in and out of it.  I think its great that even for a child that doesn’t have specific sensory issues/needs this gym exposes him to feelings he might not know otherwise (tighter spaces for example) in a fun way that lets him get used to that.  For some kids maybe it is not liking the texture of things like rice, that the rice table exposes them too.  Maybe it is a bumpy or massage feeling, that the foam slide helps with.  Regardless everything in there can serve as a learning purpose or a soothing purpose for a child who might need that or for any that just want to play!

During open gym play time you can go anywhere and do anything.  You can also sign up for individual therapy by the hour with their certified therapists that will help your child with any individual needs or evaluations.  You can read more about that and the staff on their website.

Tell me this room doesn’t look awesome.  When I was reading about Sense-Able gym on their site this room really struck my teacher’s heart.  As a teacher who taught children with Aspergers & Autism and worked in a school with a higher population of students on that spectrum I saw many of my students loving this room and wishing my school had one just like it.  The quiet room is always dark with all of these various glowing elements.  Some like the wall and the top corner are great for texture, touching, pulling and pushing.  Others like in the bottom left corner are sound equipped so each time you step on a color square it lights up on the board and emits a different sound (depending on what it is set on this could be animals, music, vehicles etc).  Notice the jellyfish glowlight behind that with a beanbag in the corner for sitting, staring, relaxing and soothing a child. So, perfect.  There is a bubble tube that the kids can change the color of and of the sphere lights and a projection screen to keep images on the walls.  It sounds like a lot, but it is all purposeful and peaceful.  If you just need a break you can cozy up on their bean chairs with weighted blankets and settle in for a bit of calm.

Now what you are really in for, the giveaway.

Shauna, who works tirelessly to add to the gym and keep everyone excited and enjoying themselves has gifted my $25.00 to give to one of you!  Let me just say that this is a great steal.  A month unlimited visit membership runs $65 for up to two children, (another steal in this summer heat for us) or you can use it towards individual hours…but don’t worry, your first visit is FREE! So, you have one week and a few ways to enter.

1. Leave a comment telling me the age of your kid(s) and what you think you would like most about the gym from what you have seen in just this post, or their site.

2. Add Sense-Able gym on Facebook as a friend and leave me a comment telling me you did so. (updates about the gym, hours, etc. get posted here)

There is so much more to enjoy at Sense-Able then even I was able to show.  I have continued to be further impresses with each visit back and the boys start giggling and wiggling as soon as we pull in as I hear “Mommy, I love this gym.”  There is your reason we keep on going right there. (and their sweet hearts are opening an hour earlier this summer just for us early risers and our little ones since it has been busier with “out-of-schoolers”.)

Giveaway Over: Congratulations to Christy! Thanks to everyone who entered by commenting and e-mailing.  We had a great turnout and Sense-Able has had many new visitors!  Be sure to let me know if you stop by and love it and tell them who sent you their way!

 
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Leaving the Teens

Posted by casey on July 10, 2013 in Everett, Everett's Edition, Uncategorized

Nineteen Months has passed with an update half done and now at twenty months I swear, if he isn’t in the terrible twos already and his emotional meltdowns and tantrums increase we all better build safety bunkers.

Man, oh man, can this kid throw himself a fit!

How is that for a fun filled pleasant update? :) Truth be told, he is the sweetest little guy.  He just does everything 110%. So, when he is being cute, cuddly and kind, your heart could melt and you could just snuggle him forever.  However, when he is mad, man could you give him away.  I kid.  Kind of.  When I think of him though and look at him I most think of how silly and funny he is.

Everett goes about most things in a goofy, class-clown-esque sort of way.   He is the kid who pulls his pants down whenever, where-ever.  The kid who bursts out in song just to see if you will join in and here is where we are really in for it, he is the kid who is just looking for a laugh…a response.  Uh-oh.

The love Everett has for his brother is growing by the minute and as they get “closer in age” in the sense that the 20 month gap between them is less obvious as they age and stage through similar things.  He continues to want to do, and do EVERYTHING his brother is doing.  This is the main reason I think most passerby adults think he is older than he is, the not letting his younger brother label slow him down from what his three + year old brother is getting to live life doing. They are the best of friends and the worst of friends but they are for sure in it together, whether they are bickering or concocting a new game (my favorite thing to see them starting to do). It is an adventure for sure.

Here is a generic rundown to keep us all on track.

* Reading: He has really come into his own love for books and reading over the past few months.  His absolute favorites are “Goodnight Moon”, “Goodnight Cowboy” (given to me by Jordy) and “Go Dogs Go” by Dr. Seuss.  Though now he is becoming less specific so long as I will continue to sit and read with him.  Before every nap, and bedtime we sit and read each book and now if I pause he will complete the sentences for me if that gives you an idea of how many times we have read all of these.  I love being able to point things out to him and start to really have those reading conversations about what is going on, predictions and why as we get this time together.

* Singing - In addition to reading each night, we sing songs which we do throughout the day but Everett knows and requests his bedtime songs.  “You Are My Sunshine” had been a favorite and he helps me sing saying each ‘sunshine’ and ‘happy’ as we get to them.  Recently, “Stand By Me” has been his first request and if I try to sing “Twinkle” or “Rock-A-Bye” like we used to do he puts his hand over my mouth and says “No Mama, no sing twinkle. Sunshine.” The kid knows what he likes.

* Medical: All of his allergies are still in full swing and have not lessened any.  This is very much against what “all the experts” thought would happen and I had a feeling in my gut would not.  So, we are working with it, still learning to cook new things for him and get really excited over here when we find new recipes, snacks and treat that work and are tasty.

He also had his first dental checkup since Caden was going too.  He did well (because he had already seen his brother go) and checked out with a mouthful of pearly whites…as if I didn’t know that when he went through his biting stage 6 months ago.  I’m just saying. :)

*Climbing: I think climbing might also still be his favorite past time.  It is pretty impressive what he can scale and how quickly.  Outside of the stair banister? Check.  On top of any table, counter, dresser? Check.  In our SUVs? Check.  We pretty quickly became the parents who don’t notice our kid doing something risky out in public because he does it all the time at home and everyone around us is freaking out.  The problem is that he really does attempt things he just isn’t qualified for yet, especially at the park, following Caden so you have to be able to get there quick because he isn’t going to wait long…or be able to hang one.

* Tester – Everett is our limit tester.  If you say No, he typically wants to hear that a couple more times before he listens.  He wants to see just how far he can push playing/rough-housing with his brother, and just how far he can play chase, and just how much you meant you want him to bring that to you/sit down etc.  He knows…he just wants to see if you mean it, which at times is sanity stealing.  The worst part is that he does it all with this half smile/eye sparkle that makes it so dang funny if you weren’t the one battling it everyday and staying consistent with consequences.

* Discipline: Speaking of consequences, due to his somewhat mischevious nature, (I blame the curls) timeouts have also been in full force for naughty behavior towards us, himself (danger Dan here) or his brother.  I have to say, he gets it.  He gets it, and it helps.  It is also really cute (and pathetic) that one of his many most heard phrases is “I’m sorry Caden,” give with a big old bear hug.

The apologies whether he understands the full meaning yet or not, really help Caden’s feelings when he feels wronged since he knows he is supposed to apologize for bad behavior or if something was an accident etc.

* Potty-Training: Yup, I said it.  It has been in the works and we are making progress.  With his stronger-willed personality and general lack of concern about messes I wanted to get on top of it and fast before he didn’t care and was six years old.  Okay I exaggerate, but I think he has traits that would make him take longer or not mind and I just didn’t even want to go there.  So, early or not, we have begun and the successes we have had let me know to keep it going.  That and the general goal of having both boys done with diapers – hallelujah!

* Chatter-Box:  I don’t remember him not speaking.  He talks so much, in full sentences about everything and anything that not communicating with him is so far in the past.  He speaks very well, and has a wide range of vocabulary thanks to parroting his big brother and us.  Right now he is extremely into asking us “What happened?”, when he thinks we are hurt or something is going on.  He launches into a full investigations with “Oh wows, Ok okay, Oh No, I’m sorry, Let me See” and more reactions and responses.

In fact, I am not actually sure what he doesn’t say, if that makes sense.

Everett has picked up funny expressions like “Hmmmmm?” when he is looking for something and practical commentary like “No Daddy, don’t do that.”  “No Mommy, I don’t like that.” “Yes, I want turkey.” “Goodnight Bo Bo, Night Night Thrasher, Night Night Books, Night Night Potty” (you should see how many things he says this too on our way upstairs)”

Everett, our baby love, does everything hard (love, cry, play, learn) except sleep.  His nature is similar to ours in that we love him fiercely and find so much joy in him yet he can bring out the frustration which has allowed us to become I think better, and more relaxed parents.  He loves people, is not shy in the least but can be fake bashful at times.  He can’t get enough of other kids, and interacting with them no matter their age and is always ready for an adventure or new task.  He is still full of determination and you can always see his brain tinkering to figure out how to master something or what is coming next.  He may be messy but he also loves to help you pick up, clean up, do a task or contribute.  He LOVES his family, each member, and lets them know it.

Busy, busy, busy and ALL boy.

Rough and tough yet full of sweetness.


Strong and independent but needy and tender.

Creative yet willing to follow.

Fun Fact for Laughs to End On: At this age, Caden had just become a big brother to Everett. Picture me 9 months pregnant chasing them both right now.

Into the twenties we go Everett!

One day when that really happens, I’ll cry…or pop champagne. No, cry.

 
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Introducing Mackenzie {Newborn Session}

Posted by casey on July 9, 2013 in CaseyKazmannPhotography, Snapshots

Just after meeting Everley I was fortunate enough to spend some time with another little doll, sweet, new, Mackenzie! Though her Longhorn parents go against my Aggie pride, I couldn’t help but adorn her with a bit of orange and white as she snoozed away.  Mackenzie was already a professional model letting us play away while she slept and occasionally cooed for almost our entire time together.  Welcome Mackenzie, you have plenty of love coming your way with your proud parents and watchful furry siblings looking over you!

And Because of Furry Siblings Need to Be Loved On Too…

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