January 2017 NoVa

Even before we returned home from our Christmas and New Years visit in Arizona, Ollie beat us back to the East Coast as he actually had other, unrelated plans in the DC area. So, he stayed an extra day with us and was able to go to lunch with Colt at his school! Love this picture that one of the teachers snapped.

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Papa and Colt at FLP lunch time!

We were super excited to get some snow on Colt’s 3.5 yr birthday, Jan 7.

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Tennis court snow writing.

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Colt! 3.5 yrs old.

Later in the day the snow picked up so we went out for round 2!

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The best ride in town.

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Following my boys!

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Sledding down the hill.

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Teaching snow angels.

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Love it!

After the snow, we snuggled up by the fire with blankets and hot chocolate. I adore living in a place with 4 seasons.

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A wildly impressive snowman the following day with the remaining snow.

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Green eggs and turkey roll ups…close enough.

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And gingerbread cookie creations!

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My little dino.

Sharon & Ollie had a wedding in Virginia so we got another quick little visit from them as they passed through town!

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Oliver Joseph with Fincher Oliver.

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Colt thinks it’s totally normal to walk around like this…

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Block tower creations.

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Swing bros.

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Slide bros.

During Sharon and Lise’s December visit / babysitting-venture, Lise started teaching Colt this “50, Nifty United States” song. He really picked up on it and, on top of memorizing the song, it sparked an interest in national geography (and international as well). SANTA brought Colt this cool, 51 piece puzzle of the US where most all of the states have their own pieces (sorry New England, some of you have to get lumped together!) and Colt can now do the puzzle solo in minutes (literally, 3 minutes), although admittedly it’s now only 49 pieces as we have permanently lost Oregon and Washington…oops!

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Colt and his 50 nifty United States puzzle!

On January 18 (11 days late), we celebrated Colt’s half-birthday at school. His teachers said that they were both summer-birthdays and so they sympathized with kids who didn’t get to celebrate their birthdays at school, so for all of the summer birthdays in the class, they celebrate the half-birthdays.

For the celebration, we were asked us bring treats and prepare a short presentation about how Colt has grown in the past year. We had fun pulling pictures together for a little slideshow about Colt and even brought in a few props. Michael and I sang Happy Birthday in Portuguese but Colt finished it all off by getting up in front of the class and singing the 50 Nifty United States song! The song is adorable but Michael and I were mostly just impressed by his boldness – normally Colt gets very shy in situations like that and isn’t typically comfortable with all-eyes on him. But it was a great testament to how much he has grown in the past year, to the ways that school has helped build his social confidence, and also showed us how comfortable he really is at school with his teachers and classmates. It was a sweet moment.

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Lighting the “fake cake” that they use for each birthday.

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Blowing out the candles.

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Blue rice crispy treats + sprinkles. Colt’s choice…

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Colt singing his song! 

That weekend we were so excited to see some of our dear friends from our time in Brazil, Brett & Brad. Brad’s twin brother and his wife were also in town so the whole crew stopped by for a few hours of hanging out and playing with the kids.

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Hanging with the C0ppens crew!

More January:

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Sweet Fincher Face.

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Thankful for this park across the street!

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Strolling and scooting through the park on the way to school.

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Colt can hardly go by a stick without stopping to pick it up. 

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Stick scooting.

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Harper bros.

Another snowfall!

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Finn stole Colt’s hat. 

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Colt and Snowman.

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Off to sled!

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Not a ton of snow but enough for a fun morning of playing outside!

 

Christmas Season 2016 in Arizona!

On December 23, our family headed to the airport to spend the holidays with our Arizona family. IMG_9818It started off great: Michael dropped me off with the kids and the luggage as he went to park the car. After running around a little, Colt decided he URGENTLY NEEDED to go potty. We had SO much stuff and were nowhere near a bathroom. Also, just at that moment Finn tripped over his feet and face-planted into the floor, only to come up screaming. I really had no choice but to strap Finn into the stroller and slip Colt into a pull-up. I didn’t even fully take his pants or undies off, I just attached the pull-up on via the side openings and had him stand and just go pee in the pull-up! I felt terrible to do that to him, especially in a crowded airport! but desperate times call for desperate measures. Soon Michael came and rescued us. IMG_9821We made it through security and the TSA team handed the boys their very own stickers! IMG_9824We didn’t buy a seat for Finn on the plane so the flight was…not great. IMG_3318Michael described it as trying to capture Finn’s attention and keep him happy for a series of 5 second intervals that went on for 5 hours. And anytime that we came up short and failed to keep him occupied/satisfied, he just screamed. 🙂  But, eventually we made it and we were all so happy to be there!

As a Christmas surprise, the Harpers had gotten their home totally ready for the kids. They had just put up a swing-set/playground in their back yard and they turned their garage into a big play space, complete with a train set and drums!
(Uncle TJ taking Finn down the slide!)IMG_3342IMG_3357.JPG IMG_3352

On Christmas Eve, we participated in the long running tradition of dinner and festivities with the Griego family. Bob and Lenni hosted an amazing evening complete with a visit from the Big Man himself! IMG_4994When Santa walked in, Colt was SO excited. Colt ran directly to him and led him into the room and promptly sat on his lap. Colt told Santa that we had left some cookies and milk out for him back at the house and reminded him that we were in fact in Arizona, not Virginia. IMG_5000Finn required a little more time to get comfortable but eventually he got there.IMG_5135IMG_9838There was stiff competition for best-dressed between Dr. Bob and Dr. Ollie but Santa cast the deciding vote in favor of Papa Harper!IMG_5214IMG_5270

Christmas day was very fun and special. We started off by running to the living room with Colt to see if Santa had in fact eaten the cookies and drank the milk and he was thrilled to see that it was almost all cleared! Santa is “starting small” with our family but he did leave a few little surprises for the boys. One of which was a set of capes and masks which was instant fun for Colt and Finn. IMG_3336IMG_3378FullSizeRenderNext we headed to mass with the family at Brophy Chapel. IMG_9905After mass, we spent the afternoon opening gifts and playing together. Both Colt and Finn received personalized sleeping bags from their grandparents and they just loved them! IMG_3327IMG_3329After the little boys were asleep, the big boys headed out together!IMG_3349The day after Christmas, we gathered in the Harper orange grove for some casual family photos taken by dear Lenni Greigo. H 1IMG_9967After Christmas, Michael headed back to VA for work while I remained in Arizona with the boys a bit longer. One highlight during my time there was that one of my precious girlfriends from my time in Brazil, Paula, came to visit. Paula’s family ended up in Phoenix after Brazil and (although they’re moving now!) we always enjoyed connecting with them when we were in town. Paula’s two boys are just a few months younger than mine so we had a great time catching up on life and watching our boys play together. The big boys – Colt and Gabe – were instant buds! So thankful for those special friendships formed abroad as we now have treasured friends all over the country / world.IMG_0053IMG_0005IMG_0019IMG_0036Another fun activity was Lise being brave enough to invite Colt to participate with her in a little cooking extravaganza. Although we may have gone a little too heavy on the powdered sugar 😉  it was so much fun to watch Colt cooking with Aunt Lise. He adores her to pieces and had a blast – especially taste testing along the way. IMG_0130IMG_0134IMG_0137IMG_0144IMG_0181Papa Harper also took the boys to the local firestation and on another adventure to the zoo! IMG_0105IMG_0204IMG_0787IMG_0769IMG_0206IMG_0216And nothing beats just hanging out with family. Especially loved our many play-dates with cousin Julian, just 3 months younger than Colt.IMG_3321IMG_0230IMG_3422IMG_3412And I always love my boys in matching PJams! IMG_0083The saddest event of the holidays happened in between Christmas and New Years. Sweet Sharon had a little fall in the house which resulted in a seriously fractured shoulder. She was such a great sport and super tough through it but it was heartbreaking to see her going through that. Even still, the boys got lots of quality time with her. I just love this magical shot of Colt snuggled up with his Nana, telling stories by the light of the Christmas tree. IMG_9912After a week of work, Michael returned to Arizona to celebrate New Years with us. We hadn’t really made and NYE plans, but then Lise’s awesome boyfriend (also named Michael) hooked us up with some tickets to the Clemson vs. Ohio St. playoff game! We were SO PUMPED and had an awesome time – especially given the Big W for the Tigers!!! IMG_0248IMG_3400IMG_3401IMG_3402IMG_0252

More fun in the new year: IMG_0283IMG_0281couB2GrEaJqAnd on the flight home… Colt is an angel and Finn is a NUT! IMG_0314IMG_0330IMG_0333

Thank you, Harpers, for hosting an amazing visit!

NoVa December 2016

Part 1 of December (before heading to Arizona for Christmas).

We kicked off December with the kids’ first visit with Santa for the season, hosted by our realtor (shout out – Pam Campbell with Century 21 out of Alexandria!). We may have stumbled a little as we explained to Colt why Santa was hanging out at a Century 21 office on a Saturday morning and why Santa was telling me about his previous military career 😉  but overall Colt blindly accepted our lies and went with it. His big ask from Santa this year was to go to Arizona for Christmas! (Spoiler: he got his wish.)

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Finn is not quite as comfortable with Santa.

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Our family with Pam’s daughter with her husband and two girls. They are long-time family friends and the girls all clown (is that a verb?) and had come from an event that morning!

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Colt and his ever-growing stick collection.

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Finn taking after his big brother!

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Sneaking by Colt’s classroom after a morning coffee with some parents and caught Colt at the snack table with some of his pals! Adore!!

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Boys busy creating.

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Jumping in puddles and finding MORE STICKS!

Michael and I wanted to go to New York Dec. 9-11 so to make it possible, Sharon and Lise Harper were so generous with their time and energy and flew across the country to watch our boys for the weekend so that we could get away! They had a great time together and the boys could not have missed us less. 😉

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Nana with her two boys.

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Colt and Finn giving Lise a neighborhood tour.

In New York, Michael and I stayed with Joe at his cool apartment in NoHo.

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We made it!

For dinner Friday night, we met up with Michael’s good friend and law school roommate, Josh. We spent Saturday touring around, seeing the lights, the windows and the tree – so fun to be a tourist in NYC during Christmas.

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Christmas in NY.

That night we went to, what was supposed to be a surprise birthday party for one of Michael’s best BC buddies, Jon, which was being thrown by his girlfriend, Katie. It started off with the big surprise at Jon and Katie’s apartment and just when Katie was presenting him with this amazing book that she put together, Jon totally turned it around and PROPOSED to Katie on the spot! He confessed that he had figured out the surprise and decided to take the opportunity to ask her in front of so many dear friends and family. It was such a blast to then get to celebrate his birthday AND their engagement.

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The happy couple surrounded by some friends.

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Partying with Joe + Vinnay & Thu.

Sunday afternoon we drove back home and when we pulled up to our house…it was THIS DELIGHTFUL SIGHT that greeted us!

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Nana, Lise, Colt and Finn had a little Clark Griswold surprise for us! 

The crew had lots of little giggles while we were gone, secretly decorating our house with some pretty serious projectors, netted bush lights and a plethora of other festive, GLITTERY creatures to welcome us upon our return. As much as we loved it all, we felt that the numerous, bright orange extension cords and wide open power strips throughout the yard may not be the safest thing for the projected rain the next day BUT it definitely made us laugh and Colt had a blast with it all.

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Getting cozy for Christmas!

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Painting time in the kitchen.

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Festive rice crispy treats! And a great fake-smile to go with them!

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I mean…!?

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Here is a random comparison shot. Colt is a few months older in his pic but pretty close. They are definitely unique but I do think they favor each other.

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Colt in the full-blown madness of the Faith Lutheran Preschool Christmas program.

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Faith Lutheran decked out for Christmas.

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Caterpillar classroom after-party getting wild. And Finn really just settling himself in for a great rice crispy chomp session.

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Colt loves his brother!

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Proud of his “bridge” creations.

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Swing bros!

 

 

Bathroom Reno – Nov. 2016

When we bought our home last year, the one part of the house that gave us pause was the upstairs bathroom.

The house has a finished basement with a rec room, space for guests and a newly renovated full bathroom. There isn’t a bathroom on the main level (the previous owners took out the powder room when they renovated the kitchen and dining area to open things up and it was definitely the right call!), and then the three bedrooms upstairs share a single, full bath. The upstairs bathroom was the one part of the house that hadn’t been updated and it’s a pretty important part since all 3 bedrooms share it! We looked into the possibility of adding another bathroom but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it so instead we decided to simply renovate the existing bathroom to update it and make it more functional for our family.

It’s a small bathroom and we kept all of the fixtures in the same locations but we ripped everything out and replaced it all. Since the bathroom is not large (about 5’x7′) and I wanted it to be simple, with a consistent look and feel to the rest of the house, I felt like I could handle the design aspect and really just wanted to find a company to do the actual work (didn’t want to pay someone to pick out white subway tile for me!). I was pretty shocked and appalled when I started receiving estimates for the job but finally came across a company that was reasonable in terms of pricing and timing (Beautiful Home Services – totally recommend!).

We started the process with BHS by receiving an initial visit and follow up quote. After that, one of the owners came by the house, measured everything, talked through it with me and ultimately sent me a “buy-list” which included things like tile square footage, etc. so that I could start making purchases. We bought our floor tile through The Tile Shop and the mirror is West Elm but everything else was just Home Depot and BHS was actually able to use their account to get further discounts. They picked everything up for us and, once it was all in, they got to work.

There was a crew of 3 guys who did all of the work, ripping everything out down to the studs, rebuilding a new subfloor, moving a vent, and installing everything. They completed the job in 7 working days which we were really happy with. (All 4 of us relocated to the basement while the work was going on to stay out of the way and out of the dust so I was grateful that the work was quick!)

Now to the fun part – pictures!

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Comparing subway tiles (1 of these is 6x more $$ than the other…) and floor tiles.

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Finn watching everything get prepped for work to begin!

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Although the work was upstairs, they were really good about covering everything on the main floor as well.

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Everything getting ripped out!

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Tiles going in!

OK now the before & afters:
BEFORE: Old green tile, no storage, old tub, small mirror, no style!
AFTER: White, bright, and storage!

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Before 1

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After 1

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Before 2

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After 2

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Before 3

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After 3

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Before 4

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After 4

The vanity and wall cabinet make the bathroom so much more functional for our family and the aesthetic is a major upgrade as well. Thankful we pulled the trigger on this one!

Nov 2016: SC Family Pics

While we were visiting my family for Thanksgiving, my mom took the opportunity of having everyone together to get some family photos taken. We were thankful that my grandparents and mom’s sister, Sheryl, were also able to join so that we could get the whole group! These photos are already very special treasures…

Whole group together! My grandparents + their kids + grandkids + great grandkids! img_2481

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Grandkids & great grandkids with Nannie & Papa.img_2543

My parents with their kids & grandkids.img_9524

My family with my grandparents.img_2687

Beautiful photo of Nannie & Papa. What a blessing and example they are for us! img_2724

Love this one of my brother’s family. Lucky guy with those pretty girls!img_2958

Harpers!img_9519img_9520img_9516img_9518img_3645img_9521img_3285

Colt and Augusta Clare are THE cutest things together!! I think she’s his favorite person on earth. So cute!img_3545img_3552img_3529img_3584img_2907

Little Harper boys.img_9523img_9517img_9515img_9514

Cousins!img_9512img_9525img_3298

Thank you to Paula Williamson for capturing these moments & memories!

Thanksgiving 2016 in SC

Michael and I were planning to visit South Carolina for Thanksgiving 2016 but the Sunday before Thanksgiving, another special event in SC also took place! A baby shower for my bestie, Meredith!! So, Michael and I drove down on Friday (Nov. 18). He played with the kids on Saturday while my mom helped me finish prepping everything for the shower. Then Sunday, Michael flew back to Virginia, my parents took over kid-duty and I headed to Charleston for Meredith’s shower! I actually need to give a MAJOR THANK YOU shout-out to my mom for essentially helping to cater the chicken salad, cucumber sandwiches, and more. She is amazing and I couldn’t have done it without her – certainly wouldn’t have been as tasty!

Since I wanted to host the shower for Meredith but don’t live in the area, Meredith’s mom generously offered to let me do the party at her house. They have a beautiful home and the most fun part is that she brought out lots of Meredith and Callie’s old baby toys to use as decorations for the party. It was so cute!

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With the pretty mama-to-be!

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The bird hanging from the light was the mobile from Meredith’s nursery!

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All set up!

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Meredith & her lovely mom!

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Girls taking their guesses for the “Price Is Right” game. The winner was within $.05 and is, no surprise, another young mom! 🙂

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Party fun.

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Family heirlooms being passed along.

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Wofford girls!

After the shower, we had a fun week in South Carolina enjoying family.

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Pasha and Finn.

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Acting silly.

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Hanging out with their great grandparents, Nannie and Papa!

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Heart eyes.

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Park time!

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Gigi and Finn.

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Tummy time!

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Fresh cut!

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Just can’t get enough of this guy.

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And this guy!!

The highlight of Thanksgiving was when my brother’s family arrived. Colt and Augusta Clare are best buds and this year my parents set up bunk beds for them which was so fun and also hilarious to watch on the monitor at night. Let’s just say that Colt got lots of extra snuggles and stories at bedtime.

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Augusta Clare climbing into bed with Colt at night to read him stories.

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Cousins on bikes! (And Finn watching.)

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May and Finn. Just 8 months apart!

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Thanksgiving day at my great aunt and uncle’s house. I think 35 family members were there!

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Thanksgiving Harpers!

Another highlight of our Thanksgiving break was getting to attend the Clemson vs. USC game with my cousins. Their family has a tradition of going to Clemson football games which they have been doing for years and it was so much fun to join in – especially for such a fun game (Clemson vs. USC at Clemson). I can’t remember the last time I went to a Clemson game in Death Valley (high school or college?) and it was Michael’s first time. And BONUS: our dear friends Mike & Moira were also there with they presh-pot little Graham and Moira’s family too! We had a blast. Go Tigers!!

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Tailgate meet up with Graham Saign.

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OK so I forgot to pack orange. Sue me (Moria!).

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ESSO CLUB!!

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BYOG

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With the awesome Long fam (minus Jack who is going to be a freshman there next year!).

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Rushing the field after the win.

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56-7…!

MUCH to be thankful for!!!

NoVa November 2016

Before heading to South Carolina for Thanksgiving, we enjoyed November in Northern Virginia. Loved fall and loved watching our boys grow individually and in their friendship together.

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Colt called that tree the Fireball!

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Making his way through Halloween candy. Lasted us all the way until February!

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Finn! 

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1 Year, 2.5 months

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Playing on our way home from school.

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Sweet Spiderman!

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More dandelions.

We have a little sunroom off of our main floor living room. It’s where I have my desk & computer and it’s the play room for the kids on the first floor. I love having spaces on each level of the house where the kids can play freely without us feeling like our entire house is overwhelmed by kids’ stuff. That being said, they do love to tear that room apart – especially Finn. I think this picture was taken after I decided to wash dishes in the kitchen for 15 minutes while they played together…

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One step forward, two steps back.

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Being silly in the kitchen.

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Back yard leaf pile!

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Fun for all!

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Let’s just say I’m looking more enthusiastic than I felt that day, but doing my duty nonetheless…

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This guy, though, will always bring a smile to my face.

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Bath bros.

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Adore.

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Quick visit from my in laws!

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I’ll always take snuggles with this little one!

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Watching them sleep never gets old.

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Spiderman throwing leaves everywhere!

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My Coltchie love.