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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Who is this guy?

Each year during VBS, the kids raise for money for a certain missionary/church/cause, etc. This year's project was Clearview Church (our new church in Texas), and we raised $1,200. Brian promised if they raised $500, he would paint his head like the Texas state flag. Do not ask me where he gets these ideas. So today was the Sunday he headed to church looking like this. By the way, if you want to see our page, click here.

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I know I haven't talked about Texas or our work there much on the blog. It is mostly because just as we were gearing up for moving, changing jobs, etc., I was diagnosed with cancer and so our plans to move to Texas have felt kind of like a distant dream. Our plan is still to move to Texas and be a part of the church plant outside Dallas, but not until Summer 2012. Brian has been very busy this summer building the website and working with Randall (our pastor) to plan preview services gearing up for our launch this fall. Today in Texas they are holding a commissioning service for the Wright family and the other families who will be helping with the church. While I feel sad to not be there, I also feel so grateful to be in Tennessee and to have another year here. Is it strange that I can feel both sad and content at the same time?

And on a not-so-fun note, instead of getting to attend church this morning, I'm stuck at home. Not only did I not sleep for the second night a row, but I woke up with a sore throat. And much more serious than that, I have a painful knot underneath one of my surgery incisions. It is in the exact same place as one of the infected areas from several weeks ago, and I'm quite concerned that the infection is back. I'll definitely be calling the doctor first thing tomorrow morning.  I would appreciate prayers that this knot goes away and is not an infection. In the meantime, I'm at home alone enjoying listening to this album.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

2011 Project 365, Week 27, 28, 29, 30

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Photo Dump

I'm sorry. Who is this slim, elegant girl?
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Oh, wait. There's my 4 year old!
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This is perfect Camden.
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And I don't know what she thinks she's going to get with this fake pout, but I'm not buying it.
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Okay, actually I might fall for it cause she's too darn cute.
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All together now, "Awwwwww."
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Don't you wish you knew what project poor Brian got pulled into with this?
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And how much fun are these 2 having? They have spent HOURS in this little slide and pool over the summer.
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Camden says it looks like he's nibbling her shoulder.
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And I couldn't resist a picture of the pose.
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Aren't you glad to be all caught up? I feel better anyway.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Round 4 Wrap-up

Typically on this Thursday, day 9 of my cycle, I would be back in the chemo room getting 4 liters of chemo and fluid pumped into my stomach. I would have spent the last 7 days miserable and would be looking forward to another 5-7 days of misery.

But with this new treatment schedule, I'm at home not looking at chemo again until August 11. And I cannot tell you how comforting that is. While Round 4 hasn't exactly been the piece of cake I was hoping for, the silver lining is that I have 14 days until I go back. I am really looking forward to this break. Honestly, I am not sure that I would have the mental fortitude to do anything but curl up in a ball on my bed if I were still on the old program. Round 3 was so difficult with the extra hospital stays, surgery, and infections. The only break I managed in that 4 weeks was cooking supper 2 nights in a row and a date day (which was fabulous).

But with this new program, I should have some good days. In fact, I was able to enjoy lunch with the Wrights, our Texas partners, on Tuesday and today we're taking the kids to see Cars 2. Granted, one activity a day is all I can manage and it means I spend the rest of the day sleeping, but I am grateful to be getting out of the house.

And these two? Are very happy that better days are coming. They have been incredibly sweet and kind to me; not to mention they have played for hours on end together which makes life easier for their mama who needs some quiet and their daddy who is working hard to keep it all together.

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Stay tuned tomorrow for a Friday Photo Dump.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Twister

When we caved to two years of pressure from the kids to buy a trampoline (it was a combo birthday gift for both of them), I knew I wanted to buy a small gift for each kid so they'd have something to open from us on their birthday. We decided that Star Wars, toys, etc. were being covered by the rest of the family and I thought that an age-appropriate game would be a good choice. Prior to cancer, Thursdays were game night and it's something we can all do together and enjoy. Fast forward to our Target shopping trip and the two parental units in the family were not quite agreeing on what was an appropriate game for Camden's birthday gift. Brian wanted some crazy war strategy game, and I wanted something fun but with an academic benefit. In the interest of keeping the peace, I finally suggested Twister. Brian wasn't quite on board but in the interest of keeping his own peace (and ending the shopping trip sooner rather than later), he gave in.

Saturday night we pulled it out for the first time, and I think the pictures speak for themselves. We haven't giggled this much in months, and it was a blast. If I were a lesser woman, I just might be saying, "I told you so."

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Yes, I realize this is probably the least flattering picture ever posted of me, but look at Camden's face.
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Measure Me, Mama

I'm far enough behind in blogging that I feel like I don't know where to pick up. Prepare for a long post with too many pictures soon.

Camden and Rory's current favorite thing is to measure themselves. They've both grown so much the past several months, and they like nothing better than to show off. Do you see how big this boy is? He keeps asking me if I've gotten smaller, but the truth is - he's growing much too fast! The other day Brian told Camden to get off the stool so he could fix his hair . . . . except Camden wasn't on a stool!

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We took these Friday while I was still on a steroid high and chemo side effects hadn't hit quite yet. It's the first time I've worn a hat, and I felt much more conspicuous in a hat than a scarf, but all the nurses and office staff seemed to like it so maybe I'll wear it more often.
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Thousand Gifts 417-435

My Monday morning started off much the same as Sunday - bright and early with Rory (yes, the 6:00 a.m. wake times continue). She loves to be my hairstylist (that's kind of on hold for a while) or give me a pedicure, etc. And since my feet are killing me these days from chemo and other medicine side effects, I was more than happy to let her spend an hour (oh, yes, a whole hour) rubbing my feet and legs. She had the best time chatting with me and pretending to be McKenzie with a 6 year old daughter. And the best part is, she  has no idea I got the best part of this deal. :) And I apologize for my feet making yet another appearance on the blog. 

By the way, does her new shorter hair look cute or what!

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417. Google Reader
418. being cleared for chemo
419. date day
420. lunch at P.F. Chang's
421. watching Camden and Rory thoroughly enjoy their new kittens
422. a new red shirt
423. completing round #4
424. my camera (fairly certain I've been thankful for this before, but it can't be said enough)
425. cards from new friends
426. sleep
427. Brian's sense of humor
428. finding good end of season sales
429. fresh corn on the cob
430. Psalm 31:14-15, I trust in you, O Lord; I say, You are my God. My times are in Your hands.
431. the reminder that "this is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
432. Sunday snuggles with Rory
433. Camden's excitement over new school supplies
434. chicken salad from Burdett's
435. a quick one-armed side hug from Camden
436. foot rubs from Rory
437. anticipation of new projects
438. hot water

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Snuggles

Rory's been waking up at 6:00 each morning (whether she goes to bed at 7:30 or 9:30 the previous night) and generally we make her stay in her room until 7:00, but this morning I let her get up and we snuggled on the couch for an hour. It was delicious.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

A New Day

While I was at chemo yesterday, the kids were having a fun-filled day with one of Brian's friends and co-workers. In Tennessee, the first 3 years of teaching, you're only granted an apprentice license and you must have a mentor. Janelle has been Brian's friend and mentor for the last 3 years (in two different schools), and she gave Camden and Rory and very exciting day. She picked them up bright and early at 7:20, fed them sugary cereal for breakfast and even let Rory pick out just the marshmallows to eat from the Lucky Charms. They then had a long swimming session where Rory joyfully jumped off the diving board over and over. Camden managed to jump off twice, which is shocking considering his fear of water. Janelle says he knows how to swim, he just doesn't want to. Busted, buddy!! Next on the agenda was Chucky Cheese. Three words: Glutton For Punishment. They came home full of stories and had a blast!

Here's my schedule for last night. 11:30 p.m. - finally put down my book and went to bed. Woke up at 1:30 to eat a snack, wait 30 minutes and take medicine. Watched Sherlock Holmes on PBS on my iPad. Realized I was not going to go back to sleep and got up at 2:30 to browse Pinterest and Etsy. Tried to go back to bed at 3:30. No luck. Back up at 4:15 to do a little scrapping. Listened to the coffee brew at 5:00. Blogged.

As I laid in bed last night at 3 a.m. unable to sleep, things from the past several months went through my head like a slideshow. Surprisingly enough, not the bad things, but the good things. Like Andrea showing up at my door with Gigi's cupcakes the day I arrived home from the hospital; Mayme coming over early in the morning and late at night to care for my wounds; the many, many meals our church family and Brian's school family have brought to us; the overwhelming number of cards and emails and Facebook messages I've received from my friends in the adoption community and scrapping buddies. The countless number of gifts sent to us and to the kids; the gift bags that are always waiting for me the morning of each chemo treatment from Brian's school family. The four trips that Becky has made to see me - 10 hour trips for just a few days here in Tennessee; the many, many trips my mom and dad have made (9 hours one way) to help out. The times that Gram and Gramps have dropped everything to come get the kids so we could go to the hospital and the many overnight stays they've had with the kiddos. Michael and Liz who have practically lived at our house in order to chauffeur the kids around or watch them for us as needed. All the friends who have kept the kids and given them fun, fun days while I've been in the chemo room. For Jenne who writes a blog documenting her homemade ice cream adventures and when I called last night to tell her it was a fun read, she immediately volunteered to bring me ice cream and dinner next week. For the flowers and visit from Kari and Emmalyn. The chicken salad from Mayme, the gooey butter cake from Elizabeth, the fun Korean meal that arrived vial mail from Christine, the gift cards from so many people (most of whom I've never met in real life); the incredible photo session from Angela Crutcher; the amazing camera bag from Melissa and her mom; all the phone calls from my sister-in-law Jessica; hospital visits from my friend Tina; the calls on chemo days from Kathy. Honestly, I couldn't possibly list all of God's blessings on our lives from the past four months. While the bad stuff seems to take precedence sometimes, there has been so much more good than bad. And even after only 2 hours of sleep last night, I feel good. God knew I needed the reminder of all the positive in my life, and He successfully reminded me.

We're planning to take advantage of my steroid high and go to the Farmer's Market today, a quick trip to Walmart looking for $5 white flat sheets to be remade into curtains, making a few returns to Old Navy, and then going back to Dr. W's office to get my Neulasta shot (it helps keep my immune system up but comes with the price of lots of joint and bone pain; thankfully I have drugs to help with that). I am quite sure that I will crash as soon as we get home, but I plan to try to enjoy the steroid energy while it lasts.

And one positive about only 2 hours of sleep in one night is that I was finally able to scrap again! Brian's lucky I scrapped instead of indulging in some retail therapy, which I was sorely tempted to do.

Everything from The Lilypad July BYOC
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Sahlin Studio Country Fair Picnic
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Still lovin' on her kitten (in a slightly more appropriate way after getting scratched multiple times yesterday).
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Bad and Ugly:

Had my 4th round of chemo today. As has happened with each treatment, the side effects start hitting a little earlier each time. This was the first chemo day that I didn't leave encouraged.

Most of the reason for my discouragement is the fact that I learned today that only 20% of ovarian cancer patients do not experience a recurrence. That means there's an 80% chance my cancer will return. That is not encouraging. Anyone else not feel encouraged by that? As Becky says, cancer is a beast.

My blood pressure was 160 over 98 today, which is a little scary.

My CA 125 level was up to 40 and is now back to 27.3. I probably should be happy with that, but they want it closer to the 6-12 range and mine is not there even though my other chemo patient friend's levels are totally there.

I seriously considered posting pictures of my stomach to share my 12 inch scar, the two open holes, the scar from my laparoscopic surgery, my red and chaffing skin from all the adhesive, and the spot where my skin just rubbed off the first time I wore "real" clothes after wearing sweats for 3 weeks straight. And have I mentioned that my stomach is completely lopsided these days, and my belly button will never, ever be the same? I think my mother would never speak to me again so you'll just have to imagine it.

I'm obsessed with watching the scale creep down to a weight I haven't seen in 10 years and then creep up as I actually eat during the good days.

I'm kind of done with the steroids that keep me up at night, make me snappy, turn my face and neck red, and make me dizzy.

My doctor tells me that when they did the CT scan he didn't scan for cancer, but just to look at my port. My fearful side tells me that he just doesn't want to tell me bad news.

The water marathon has begun. After each chemo treatment, I have to drink ungodly amounts of water to help flush the chemo drugs out of my system. Do you know how much I hate water?

My red blood cell count is low enough to qualify for a blood transfusion. Sara, my chemo nurse, tells me that because I'm young, there's still a chance I'll rebound but to not be surprised if she calls me Monday and asks me to come in for a transfusion. Does that gross anyone else out?

I am really tired of getting up in the middle of the night to eat, then wait 30 minutes and take antibiotic. I'm guessing Brian is getting tired of this too.

But the Good:

My God doesn't really care about statistics. I'm trying not to.

My God does care about me. And there's a plan.

I only have 2 chemo treatments left. Two!

My CA 125 level is in the normal range.

The other chemo patients mother me, mostly because I'm young enough to be their daughter. It's kind of nice.

My blood pressure Monday was 120 over 80, which is perfect.

Thank heavens for Crystal Light lemonade which makes drinking water a little easier.

I see my scale at a weight I haven't seen in 10 years.

I kind of like the extra energy the steroids give me. They also help with the nausea.

My stomach holes are getting better, and I can actually take a real shower these days.

Friends, those both close by and those I've never met in person, have been SO amazing.

I wore a new shirt today and I can't tell you how many people told me that red is my color and that I look great. Always nice to hear.

That antibiotic that forces me to get up in the middle of the night is the strongest on the market and has completely taken care of my MRSA infection.

I hear you feel really good after a blood transfusion.

There's a new season of The Closer playing, and I love The Closer. Off to watch.

John 16:33 (from The Message)
I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world.

Who loves cats?

Way back when (as in probably 4 years ago), Camden had a kitten named Ruby. I can't really remember how we acquired Ruby, but Camden loved that kitten. Ruby met an unfortunate demise as a result of living in the country with big dogs around. And by "around" I don't mean close by, but just roaming dogs because we do live in the country and they've never heard of leashes around here. He's spent the last 4 years begging for another pet, and we've put him off mostly because we still live in the same place and there are still roaming dogs, not to mention the busy road. However, we surprised the kiddos at lunch yesterday and told them we were going to pick up not one, but two kittens. Brian made the intelligent (snort) choice of asking for two females because "they'll make better pets." They also make lots of babies.

These kids are in pet heaven. It is seriously the cutest thing you've ever seen. We are quickly discovering, however, that Rory's not the best pet owner. She follows hers around barking orders for it to "smile at the camera" and "No, maam! No, maam! Come back here! I said come back here!"

Introducing Cuddles (Camden's kitten) and Frenchie (Rory's kitten named after Fancy Nancy's dog - totally cracks me up).
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This boy loves this cat already. He told us, "I'm real good with pets because I have experience, you know."
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Yep, this is about as fun for poor Frenchie as it seems.
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She's named Cuddles for a reason!
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Frenchie has a little spot of white at her throat.
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Frenchie again because Cuddles wouldn't leave Camden's lap.
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And this is mostly what we see of Frenchie as she tries to escape the very loud 4 year old human.
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I can't even tell you how happy these next set of pictures make me. Mostly because they're so darn happy in them.
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And a little artistic blur. :)
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And the kiddos spent Wednesday morning torturing playing with the kittens, feeding them milk, putting them on the swing and watching the poor frightened kittens jump off. This would be after Brian got up and checked on them first thing only to find them missing. Yes, missing. After a few panicked moments, he found them curled up in the wheel of my car. Rory had a complete meltdown, sobfest because Frenchie went behind the stairs and refused to come out. I am quite sure she was simply escaping all the "play time."

But all that crying and rubbing of eyes led to this. I don't think she's allergic; I think it's just a result of 20 minutes of crying with sweat running down her face and dirty hands in her eyes. Let's hope that's all it is anyway because she was pretty pitiful, and 8 hours later her eyes are still a bit puffy.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Okay, totally not wordless because these pictures wouldn't be as fun without her words.

"Awesome! I totally look like I don't have hair. . . just like you!"
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And, yes, she's wearing lipstick yet again. Can't say I blame her. I don't like to be without lipstick myself.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbits

Harry Potter was every bit as awesome as I expected. Seriously did not disappoint.

Rory says she "loves my medicine - there's SO much color, mama!"

I love watching the kids play on the new death trap (a.k.a. trampoline) out in the front yard. They spend most of their time, not jumping, but running in circles, playing karate, or bouncing water bottles up and down.

Camden and Rory just might be pet owners by the end of this day. More to come on that topic.

On our kid-free day yesterday, we went to Gymboree so I could spend my Gymbucks. My total started at $105.39, but after I applied my 2 Gymbucks and $40 in rewards, my total was $15.39. And by the way, that $15.39 total included: 3 pairs of shorts and 3 shirts for Camden; 1 dress, 2 pairs of underwear, 2 shirts, 1 pair of capris, and 1 pair of shorts for Rory. I felt like an extreme couponer.

Aunt Liz kept Camden and Rory for us while we had doctor's appointments and date day. They started out at Krispy Kreme where Camden declared it to be "the best day ever." If he only knew Aunt Liz was also going to take them to the park, to Chinese for lunch, and then to see Winnie the Pooh!

Had lunch at P.F. Chang's yesterday. Brian and I split an order of crab wontons and beef and broccoli. I wanted to lick the plate. It might be the best meal I've ever had. Of course, that could have sometime to do with the fact that food didn't taste like chemo yesterday and I didn't have to worry about it staying down for one of the first times in the last 4 weeks.

Trying to work my way through Google Reader, which has almost 1,000 posts. Yes, I'm a little behind.

Dr. H said we could leave my stomach holes alone and stop packing them. I'm a little apprehensive, but I guess we'll go with it. It was amazing how much the larger one had healed after just 24 hours of no packing. He also cleared me for chemo; now we're just waiting on the okay from Dr. W, but I'm not worried.

And the pigtails? After a short 6 weeks after getting her hair cut, it's grown enough for pigtails again. Of course, she's getting it chopped again Saturday. Don't ask me what's up with the jazz hands.

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And He's 8

Saturday we celebrated Camden's 8th birthday. He looks huge, right? Not sure how it happened, but he's certainly grown into a big boy, and I can't seem to stop time. (Oh, and Brian is totally responsible for this slicked back hairstyle.)
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This totally cracked me up. He was SO excited about his birthday, and went and made this little sign to hang in the living room. He said his birthday wish was to have me home, but I am fairly certain it was only because he was worried there would be no cake, presents, and party if I were still in the hospital.
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Excited about his first gift card.
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My parents took Rory shopping to let her pick out some things for Camden, and he immediately came over and hugged her. Wish I had the camera settings right, but it's still sweet, right?
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Aunt Liz kept teasing Camden that this party was for her also since we missed her birthday last month. Rory played along and took Liz one of his presents.
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And still teasing - Aunt Liz wrapped up The Help for Camden so he wouldn't be able to guess by the package size that he got a Wii game from her and Uncle Michael.
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Now he's got the real present!
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What is this Twister thing my parents gave me?
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Ooooh, look - the real present! A trampoline!
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And because we can never have enough celebration shots. (this was a combo birthday gift for Rory too)
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Camden and the ugliest cake ever. He didn't fail to remind me that he doesn't like store cakes because he hates the icing. I actually knew that, but in the midst of two hospital visits and just trying to actually have a cake forgot that little detail and we bought one instead of making one. It didn't stop him from having a big piece with ice cream.
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The first casualty from the trampoline - she immediately face planted when she got on.
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Caught ya, buddy!
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Who knew falling down could be this much fun?
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Brian unsuccessfully trying to demonstrate a seat bounce. To his credit, he got it right the next time.
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One of many, many unsuccessful trampoline shots. :)
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So much easier when they're still.
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And now Rory's turn to jump.
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It was a lovely day, and I'm pretty sure the birthday boy had a good time!