friday favorites

This week, all the kids went back to school, and while it normally wouldn’t affect us, it does now, because Michael was called to be the early-morning seminary teacher for our church ward! His class starts at 6 am, so we’ve adjusted our routines and have been trying to get to bed a little earlier (which is something we’ve never been good at).

It’s obvious that he already loves his class. He’s definitely going to be an amazing teacher._MG_3684

Friday tradition states that someone brings breakfast in for the class. It was our turn this week, so I made my mom-in-law’s famous homemade cinnamon buns.Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetKaya has been crazier than ever… She runs from one end of the house to the other as fast as she can, happily yelling and giggling. She’s also finally figured out how to ride this stick pony that one of Michael’s coworkers gave her a few weeks ago. I’m betting she asks us for a real pony before the age of five.


When she’s not being a wild monkey, she’s hiding in the kitchen cabinets. She makes Kitty hide among my tupperware in the opposite cabinet now, too._MG_3659

Kaelyn suddenly stopped looking like a newborn this week. She’s got a little chub in her cheeks now! If she’s not eating or sleeping, she’s usually smiling :) _MG_3722 08142014collage1

I could snuggle her all day… and sometimes I pretty much do.Processed with VSCOcam with a4 preset

I survived my first solo trip to the grocery store with both kids. There was pretty much no room in the cart, and we didn’t buy much, but I was just proud we did it!Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

We visited Michael at work yesterday, and unbeknownst to us, apparently it was “food truck day”. Michael splurged on a snow cone and Kaya loved feeding it to him. Eventually, she decided it was my turn too!Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 presetHappy Friday!!!Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

kaelyn grace: the birth story (part 2)

(part one here)

Despite the contractions being so close together and my husband speeding through the neighborhood, I was calm. I was convinced that my labor wasn’t too far advanced. I guess I was in a bit of denial!

We grabbed my wallet (Brittany was waiting with it out on the front step) and were back on the road to the hospital at about 2 am. We arrived around 2:20 am and went straight to the nurses’ station to check in.

“Can I help you?”
“She’s ready to have a baby,” Michael said.
“What?” the nurse asked. It seemed she hadn’t heard him. I was confused that she even had to ask why I was there after two in the morning. Apparently, I was so calm that it wasn’t obvious I was in labor.

We were asked some questions, and then our awesome nurse, Kelly, took us to triage and had me change into the hospital gown. I had a couple more contractions while I was in the bathroom, so it took me longer to change than I felt it should have.

I got into the bed, and Kelly strapped the heart rate and contraction monitors on and then checked my cervix.

Before she told me how many centimeters I was, she asked, “How would you rate your pain?”
I just replied, “Um… variable,” since I’d still just been feeling what I’d call tightness and pressure.
“Well, you’re at 7cm! And you’re just talking through contractions like we’re out getting a pedicure together!” she said. I was definitely glad to be so far advanced already.

It was around 2:40 am when we walked from triage to our room, and they had the baby warmer out already. I remembered that they didn’t bring that into the room until I was very close to delivering Kaya, so this made me very excited! I got in the bed and had the monitors strapped to my belly again. The nurses put an IV put in my arm for a saline drip, since I apparently had a fever, but I was so focused on working through the contractions that I wasn’t even aware of it.

My legs started to shake a lot and I know I commented on it at least once. I asked why I was shaking so much and Kelly just replied, “Because you’re a seven, dear!”

I had some more contractions, but just kept closing my eyes and breathing through them. The nurses were impressed and said that I just “went in the zone” during my contractions, and that I should teach a Lamaze class, because not everyone can focus like that. Nurse Kelly kept telling me I was a rockstar. I loved all the praise and it really encouraged me! Kelly asked me all the standard hospital registration questions while I lay and contracted in the bed. It was around 3 am, and all the nurses left, but told me to press the nurse-call button if I started feeling a lot of pressure.

Michael and I just sat together, and he rubbed my arm and held my hand. It was getting harder to sit through the contractions and focus. I didn’t want to, but I kept watching the clock because it was on the wall right in front of me. By 3:20, I was very uncomfortable and called the nurse. Kelly came in right away and checked me. She said, “Oh yeah… let’s have a baby!”. I was excited… but still a little afraid honestly. There was no turning back now! I was doing this all naturally!

The midwife, Mattie, came in, and I started pushing around 3:30. It was definitely the hardest part of the entire labor. When I didn’t push, my muscles would hurt. I felt this incredible amount of pressure in my pelvis, and not to be gross… but it really just felt like I had to use the bathroom more than I ever have in my entire life. I really wanted to just run into the bathroom and go! I was somewhat impatient while waiting to push with the contractions because I just wanted that insane amount of pressure to disappear. Pushing burned a little, and the midwife told me that I had to just get past it and push my baby under my pubic bone. Michael kept telling me he could see her head and that I was so very close to having her here.

Her heart rate started dropping a bit. I immediately became nervous that they’d send me to c-section, but apparently her head was already crowning by that time. Between contractions, they had me wear an oxygen mask to help Kaelyn get enough air.

Mattie told me that I probably had one or two more contractions before she’d come out, and I think it was on the third one, at 3:55 am, that my sweet little girl was born. I didn’t see her for the first few seconds, and the first thing I heard the midwife say was “double nuchal”, which made me panic, because I didn’t know what it meant (the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice, which was the reason her heart rate was dropping). Someone else exclaimed “What a little peanut!”, so I really worried that something was wrong.IMG_2903

They put her on my chest and she was healthy. I was so grateful. I honestly just couldn’t believe that my baby was out. She was here, and she was mine. I had a small second-degree internal tear, and was stitched up while the nurses took care of my sweet little Kaelyn. 5 lbs 10 ounces, and 18.5 inches long.IMG_2905

Once I was stitched up, I got to hold her again. I was overwhelmed with emotion and love for this little person who I was “technically” just meeting. I cried.

IMG_2911They went to give her a bath, and she was gone for a few hours because she had to be under the warmer. I missed her so much. When I got her back, I just kept stroking her cheek and talking to her. She definitely knew my voice right from the beginning (probably from hearing me talk to Kaya all the time).

I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this very special little girl. I definitely feel a very powerful connection to her and love her with all my heart.

Thanks for coming to our family, Kaelyn Grace.

kaelyn grace: the birth story (part 1)

Disclaimer: This is a birth story, which means it includes talk of body parts, bodily functions, and all that other stuff that comes along with having a baby. There’s nothing distasteful written here, but I still wanted to give a fair warning to those who might be sensitive to this sort of thing._MG_2934-2On Wednesday, June 25th, I noticed that I was cramping a lot. I had been having some cramps the night before too, but I was trying to not really think about them or get my hopes up, since my due date was still a week away. The cramps kept coming all morning, but I still didn’t time them or pay them much attention. They were very low in my belly, which was completely different from how I remember my contractions feeling with Kaya. I went about my normal routine, still running two miles in the morning and then walking another two to take Kaya to the playground. I had my 39-week appointment with my OB at 1:30 pm, so I picked Michael up from work and we headed there.

Everything at the appointment was pretty standard, but I did tell him about the cramps. He said it sounded like my body was getting ready, and asked if I wanted to be checked. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to know how dilated I was, but a part of me just had a feeling that my body had already made some progress. Well… he checked me, and my cervix was completely effaced and 4 cm dilated! He also said that her head was so low that he had to reach AROUND it to even check my cervix. I was so excited to be at 4 cm already. It gave me the hope I needed for a natural (unmedicated) birth, especially since it had taken me so long (and had felt so agonizing) to get to 4 cm with Kaya. My doctor predicted that I’d have a baby in just a couple of days. He was actually pretty eager to strip my membranes, but I was adamant about keeping this labor as natural as possible.

I dropped Michael off at work and noticed that I was now having some pretty intense cramps. They stayed low down in my belly, so they didn’t necessarily feel like all-encompassing contractions. I also felt like I needed to pee very badly, so I was eager to get home.

I used the bathroom as soon as I got home, and noticed a small gush. I wondered, just for a moment, if my water had broken… But I mostly just dismissed the thought. It sure seemed like a lot of liquid, but I had felt such an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom that I just thought my bladder must have been very full.

Kaya went down for her nap, and I kept cramping, but just like I had done all day, I was trying to ignore it. I didn’t want to start timing contractions and putting too much focus on them, just in case I had a long labor again like I did with Kaya.

I spent some time texting back and forth with my friend Brittany. She was super excited about my cramps, and told me that she needed some “Tara time” with me before I had the baby and got super busy. Right before she arrived, I noticed that my shorts were wet… just a little bit on the backside. I was a little suspicious, but in the end, I chalked it up to my bottom just sweating a lot (it was a hot day and I had been sitting on a hard wooden chair). Looking back, I know now it was my water leaking. I changed my shorts and stayed completely dry after that, so I dismissed the possibility that my water had broken and went on with my day.

Around 3 pm, I noticed that the cramps really were feeling like mini contractions. I still didn’t want to get too excited in case this wasn’t really labor, and tried to blame the cramps on the fact that the doctor had checked my cervix. Brittany came over around 3:30 pm, and she chatted with me while I folded laundry. I was having some very tight cramps by this point, but nothing too distracting. We kept talking until it was time for our husbands to come home from work. She left, and Kaya woke up while we waited for Michael.

Michael ended up missing his bus, so I went to pick him up instead. My latest craving was fried chicken and mac and cheese, and since I wasn’t so sure yet that we’d be having a baby that night, we decided to indulge in KFC for dinner. Michael had the buffet, but surprisingly, I didn’t eat very much. There were a few things we needed to get at Walmart, so we headed there afterward. I kept cramping the whole time, and even ended up leaning on the handle of the shopping cart during a couple of the contractions. We got what we needed and also made a quick stop at Target before heading home.

We got Kaya ready for bed around 9 pm, which is very late compared to our normal schedule, and had prayers and goodnight kisses. By this point, I just had a feeling that these would be our last goodnight hugs with Kaya before our family would change forever. I teared up a little, but I didn’t stay in her room long because I thought that taking a shower and then sitting in a warm bath might help me relax.

I got in the shower, and managed to get clean before I started feeling incredibly hot and nauseous. I had thought the hot water would help my muscles relax, but it left me feeling shaky. I started having hot and cold flashes, intermingled with the urge to throw up. I called for Michael, and when he saw me, he told me to just sit down. I sat in the shower and just tried to overcome the feeling that I had to throw up. Fear set in for a few minutes. Could I really have the natural birth I had hoped for? Part of me wanted to just head to the hospital right then and ask for painkillers (although it was the nausea that was really getting to me, not the contractions).

It was about 9:45 pm when I realized that this would probably be the night we’d meet our sweet baby. I really wanted to lay down and rest, because in hindsight, I wished I had done that in my early labor with Kaya. However, I just couldn’t mentally relax because we didn’t have any bags packed! I couldn’t take the chance that we’d have to go to the hospital without our things.

Still recovering from the nausea and hot flashes, I sat on the bed while I told Michael what to grab from my drawers and put in the suitcase. He packed up a good amount of our things, and I think it was at this point that I asked him to give me a priesthood blessing. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it did help me feel peace. Michael then went to finish up some work on his computer. He told me later that he didn’t realize how serious the contractions were really getting, so he thought he had some time to get a few things done.

I kept feeling like I had to use the bathroom, so I ended up sitting on the toilet for awhile. I texted with Brittany and she encouraged me to time my contractions. Around 11 pm, I noticed they were about 4 minutes apart and at least 45 seconds long. I still wasn’t diligently timing them, and they felt so short to me.

By 11:15, I was entertaining the idea of going to the hospital. I was a little anxious because I didn’t want to get there too early, but I also knew that we had to let Ben and Brittany know if they needed to come over to stay with Kaya while we were gone. At 11:30, we told them to just come. If we ended up not going to the hospital (I still thought the contractions might just fizzle out and we’d all go to bed as usual), it wasn’t really a big deal.

Ben and Brittany arrived around midnight. We all sat in the living room and chatted, but I have no memory of what we talked about. Every few minutes, I had to close my eyes and breathe through a contraction, but I honestly still didn’t think it was painful, just a lot of pressure. I’d focus on my body, the contraction would be over, and then we’d all go right back to laughing and hanging out. I was walking around through some of the contractions, putting together Kaya’s “big sister” gift bag and doing a few other things around the house, but most of the time, I was sitting. I think it was about 1 am when the contractions started to seem a little closer together. Brittany noticed and started timing them, since I still wasn’t at this point. They were about a minute and a half apart, but my perception was that there was so much time between them! The breaks between contractions seemed so long that I still didn’t think my labor was very intense. However, once they kept coming at 1.5-minute intervals, I knew we needed to leave for the hospital.

Michael had fallen asleep on my nursing pillow on the floor, next to our packed bags. Brittany and I excitedly woke him up and told him I needed to go!

We left around 1:45 am. We drove for about 10 minutes (Michael might’ve run a couple of stop signs and driven a bit above the speed limit) before I realized that I had forgotten my wallet, and therefore had absolutely no form of identification. I didn’t know if the hospital would ask for it, but I had to have it just in case.

“We have to go back and get it!” I exclaimed.

His reply was simple: “Do we have time to?”

To be continued…

friday favorites

Happy Friday! Finding time get on the computer/edit photos/write has been pretty challenging this week, so this is just a short synopsis of what we’ve been up to! I never knew my fingers could type and click so fast until I had two kids. Haha.

This girl. I’m telling you… she knows how to make us laugh, and she does it just about all day, every day. She’s such a goofball and we love it. She uses our legs like roads for her tiny cars, wears her sunglasses upside down (and inside nonetheless), and is a total ham in front of the camera. I’m so thankful for her lighthearted happiness and joyful spirit._MG_3544 We’re still walking just about every day. It’s starting to feel like summer again and I’m trying to soak up every last bit of it.Processed with VSCOcam with a4 preset Peanut still sleeps for the majority of our walks, which lets Kaya and I enjoy the playground together, just the two of us. I love having that special time with her.Processed with VSCOcam with a4 preset

Besides walking, I finally went on my first postpartum run! I was waiting to have my final checkup with my midwife, and everything looked good. I was so anxious to hit the pavement, and I was surprised at how great I actually felt and went 4 miles! I’m definitely excited to build up my strength and endurance again.

For the first time since Kaelyn was born (and our helpful grandmas went home), I actually got to take an afternoon nap this week… twice!
Processed with VSCOcam with a4 presetKaelyn turned 6 weeks old yesterday. She’s starting to be my “big” little peanut! Her little smiles are my favorite! This Sunday is her baby blessing at church, and I’m so excited to have our family in town.
_MG_3556 She’s obviously so over getting her picture taken already. Sorry sweetie… you still have years of photo shoots ahead of you!_MG_3555 I can always count on Kaya to smile the biggest she can for the camera. She loves climbing up in the chair with her baby sister when I take her weekly picture. CHEESE!_MG_3549Happy weekend everyone! :)

august 2014 goals

Having a newborn made July pretty busy, so I didn’t do as well on my goals as I’d hoped. Hopefully this month is better!

1. Finish the quilt.

2. Take Kaelyn’s newborn photos.

3. Sell our old stroller.

4. Update our wall photo gallery.


1. Finish the quilt (for real this time). The chevron pattern on the front is done, which was the “hard” part. The rest should be easy… I just need to make time to do it.

2. Choose a layout for our photo gallery and get any additional picture frames. Baby steps. If I’m super awesome I’ll actually get the pictures on the wall!

3. Ab workouts three times per week. After I get my midwife’s approval at my 6-week checkup, it’s crunch time (literally. haha)!

4. Complete the August photo-a-day challenge.

5. Take family pictures. It feels like we just did this (because we did) but we are a family of four now, and I really want just a couple pictures of all of us before summer’s over and the trees and grass turn brown.

weekend scenes

Our weekend started off with a dreary, rainy Friday. We didn’t even leave the house after Michael got home, but that didn’t mean that Kaya had to miss out on any fun…_MG_3464Kaya loves pretending that anything and everything is a slide, so Michael had the idea to take one of our folding tables out of the craft room and let her go down it. This might’ve been the best day of her life (minus any day she gets to share Daddy’s Reese’s)! I know we’re supposed to be responsible adults now that we’re parents… but hey, it’s so much more fun to stay a kid!_MG_3463We tried out these pepperoni rolls for dinner… Mmm!
Processed with VSCOcam with a4 presetSaturday afternoon, we went to visit Ben and Brittany and their sweet new baby, Caroline, at the hospital! I had the privilege of taking a few photos for them. Here’s one of my favorites:
_MG_3506 Sunday morning was church, of course, and then we came home with the hope that we’d all nap._MG_3541

I think Jax gets more sleep than anyone in the house right now. He’s also a nursing-pillow thief.Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset I skipped napping and instead made homemade French bread. It was my first time doing it, and I have to say, it was super easy and turned out great!Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetIt was a fast, fun weekend. Happy Monday everyone!

friday favorites

It’s Friday again? This week seems to have flown by!

Here are some of my favorite recent moments:

We’ve been going on a lot of walks. The weather has cooled off, so much so that it nearly feels like fall here. Hopefully the winter won’t be unbearably freezing since it’s already this chilly outside.Processed with VSCOcam with se2 preset

We’ve spent a lot of time playing with this little princess, who suddenly seems so much more aware and alert.

Could we have adopted a sweeter dog? Jax loves to kiss the baby (although I kind of think he just likes how she tastes…), but I’m not sure Kaelyn enjoys it very much.

I made these lemon cupcakes this week (with this lemon buttercream) and they were amazing! There’s a bakery in Charlottesville, Virginia that sells a lemon drop cupcake that’s rumored to put women into labor. My friend Brittany was overdue with her baby girl, so I figured that was a good enough reason to bake! For the first time ever, I zested and juiced the lemons myself, and I think it really made a difference in how fresh they tasted (compared to when I’ve used lemon extract in the past). They didn’t put Brittany into labor, but they were still a wonderful treat.
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Kaelyn was a bit cranky while I was baking, so she had her first ride in the Ergo! After she settled in, she went right to sleep.Processed with VSCOcam with se2 preset

Kaya [sometimes] loves to have her picture taken now. She’ll even hold a pose…

If you can’t tell, she really really really loves muffins.07292014collage1

She also loves having Kitty do everything Kaelyn does. She was super excited when we swaddled him!07242014collage1

Happy weekend!
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kaelyn: 1 month

_MG_3362Height: 20.5 inches (21%)
7 pounds 8 ounces (7%)
Head circumference:
14.25 (23%)
Clothing size:
 For most of this month, she wore preemie everything. Newborn onesies are starting to fit better (but she definitely still has room to grow).Newborn pants are pretty big on her, but I’ve been putting them on her anyway. We’re still using disposable newborn diapers because I’m really not sure when she’s going to be big enough for her cloth ones.
Eyecolor: Dark blue. They’re much lighter than Kaya’s ever were, so I’m really hoping they stay blue!
Nursing: She goes about an hour and twenty minutes between nursing sessions. I keep joking that she eats so often because she’s trying to make up for starting out so tiny!
Favorite things: Milk and snuggling :)
Dislikes: She wasn’t a fan of her first bath, but since then, she’s tolerated them pretty well. She usually screams when we buckle her into the car seat, and she cries (or tries to go to sleep) during tummy time.
Sleep: Oh, sleep… what is that again? Haha. Honestly, she’s been doing a lot better lately, but it still just varies from night to night. She goes down for the night around 11 to 11:30, and will sleep 3-3.5 hours before she needs to eat. After that, she’s back to eating every two hours or so._MG_3355Nicknames: Peanut, Tiny Princess, Sweet Pea, and Michael sometimes calls her “Little Stitch” or just “Stitch” (her birthday is 6.26, and Stitch from Lilo & Stich was experiment 626. So there’s where that came from).
Milestones, etc.: -She smiles real smiles (not just gassy ones) at us!
- She can focus her eyes on close objects.
- Her neck is actually super strong. I’m amazed at how high she can lift her head (but she’s still lacking control over where it goes)!
- We like to joke that this girl can go “0 to 60″ in one second flat. She’ll be completely content, and next thing you know, she’s crying as loud and as hard as she possibly can. Where were the warning signs?
-So many people keep saying she looks like her mama! When I stand in front of the mirror with her, I can see how people think that, but she doesn’t look anything like pictures of me as a baby! I really think she looks completely unique!

Some outtakes- Kaya insisted that her baby doll get her picture taken too :)


Dear Kaelyn,

I think this month has gone by faster than any other in my lifetime. I love having you here with us, but I almost wish you could stay this tiny (and snuggly) forever. Your smiles have me falling in love with you over and over, each and every day._MG_3417

I’m so glad your big sister still takes an afternoon nap, because most days, that’s our special time together. We love you so much, sweet girl, and can’t wait to see you grow! Thank you for coming to join our family.kaelynmonth1collage

kaya- 22 months!

(written July 21st)

I feel like a lot of the little details about her are the same as last month, but somehow, she seems so much more like a little girl now instead of just my baby!

She would not sit still for a picture. I think I probably asked her “where’s Daddy?” or something like it for this shot, but I’d like to think she’s shrugging her shoulders because neither of us are quite sure how she’s already almost two years old!

Clothing size: 12-18 month pants, 24 month shorts, 18 and 24-month onesies, 2T tees, and 12-18 month footie pajamas and 2T summery jammies. Some size 5 shoes fit and others are too small. Size 6 still seems huge though!
Eyecolor: Hazel/Gray/Greenish.
Teeth: 20.
Eating: She still has the same favorites, and will do anything for cheese, yogurt, or a fruit snack. If she sees the bag of shredded cheese, she excitedly says “CHEESE!” a bunch of times until I give her some. I won’t argue with her love for dairy- she still doesn’t drink milk from a cup, so at least she’s getting calcium this way.
New words: Cat, meow (“mmmm”), quack, cupcake (“cu-ca”), polka dots (“dadots”), pool, beach, pacifier (“pass”), and bye-bye (instead of plain old “bye!”). I still feel like she speaks in gibberish most of the time, but I have noticed that the inflection of her nonsensical sentences has started to sound a little more like English.
Favorite things: Being outside is her favorite thing ever. She still loves Kitty more than anything, and she follows me around all day with her shopping cart. She loves gently rubbing Kaelyn’s head, kissing and changing her own baby doll, and rocking her Kitty. Other favorite toys include her cornpopper and beach ball. She’s still a chapstick-stealer and loves to have her toenails painted and wear a million headbands all at once.
Dislikes: Staying in nursery at church by herself. Also, she’s been afraid of the vacuum for a while, but I never remember to write it here. She was full-on crying over it yesterday!
Sleep: We haven’t done so great with putting Kaya down at a decent time since we had Kaelyn. Kaya has been going to bed late (8:30 or 9 some nights) and then not waking up until about 12 hours later (and a lot of mornings, I’m the one getting her up). She still takes a 2.5 to 3-hour-long nap which I definitely appreciate more than ever these days.
Milestones, etc.: Someone learned how to use the big-kid swing at the playground this month!Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

She’s also just the biggest monkey ever. She’s so thrilled to hang from the monkey bars and climb up this mini “rock wall” at the park. She’s super fast at running now and can throw a ball a decent distance!Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

She talks all day long in what seems to be her own language. I love it, but I do wish I could understand her!

Dear Kaya,

How are you suddenly so big? You’re totally crazy (but what did you expect, with your dad and me as parents?)!

These days, you’re super sweet and you love playing “mommy” to your Baby and Kitty. You also pretend that you’re a puppy and crawl around “fuffing” (instead of “ruffing”!) all day long._MG_3380

You’re energetic, and love to make us laugh. Sometimes, Daddy and I wonder what we ever did for fun before you came along, because we certainly never laughed as hard as we do now. We love you princess!

baby #2: maternity pictures

Is it weird to post maternity pictures after the baby’s already born? Hopefully not… because that’s exactly what I’m about to do! I just have to have them on the blog, at least for my own record-keeping. This post was drafted before she was born, but the pictures weren’t all edited yet.

Pregnancy already feels like a distant memory… and looking at these pictures now makes me think my belly looked huge! We took these at 37.5 weeks (June 14th), and just twelve days later, baby Kaelyn arrived!
_MG_2799 _MG_2826 _MG_2819 _MG_2829 _MG_2833 _MG_2834 _MG_2852 _MG_2848 _MG_2859 _MG_2858 _MG_2862
My crazy girl._MG_2867
Having some of these last moments as a family of three preserved is so meaningful to me. I’ll definitely cherish these photos forever!