New Years in Arizona

Upon arriving in Phoenix, the first order of business was to meet our newest nephew – little Julian Joseph Harp, and to introduce him to Colt! These two are about 3 1/2 months apart and we are so thrilled that they will be lifelong friends as well as cousins.
image Uncle Joe is a pro.image Shannon & Mike with the babes!image (1) After hanging out and doing the annual sibling-secret-santa gift exchange, we got ready for a photo-shoot. Just like my family, Michael’s parents were excited to have everyone in the same place so we gathered in their driveway (“The Lane”) and their front orchard (“The Grove”) and smiled!

Sharon & Ollie with their 5 kids + 3 spouses + 6 kids!Harper Pic Culhane & Julian sporting Aunt Sheryl originals.harper - 52 harper - 48 harper - 32 harper - 30 harper - 36 harper - 28 harper - 54Proud to be wearing our “Mike Kopp for Governor” T-shirts! (PS – If you’re a Colorado resident, vote for Mike Kopp!)
DSC_7614_edited-2a That afternoon, Michael’s good friend Eric stopped by to say hello and meet Culhane.image (2) And then, the moment that Colt had been waiting for his whole life…he got to meet his godparents!! Mike & Moira were so awesome about wanting to be at his baptism that they were the first ones to book their flights for the trip. Then, when we had to change the location, we looked into changing their flights as well, but all things considered we felt like it made the most sense for them to stick with their original itinerary and visit us in Phoenix.

Meeting moments!IMG_3894 IMG_3897 IMG_3901The next day we were all working hard to get ready for the Harper’s holiday party. Shannon’s family was in charge of the luminaries which lit the walkway from the valet station to the party entrance.
image (1)Michael was leading the caipirinha effort which involved picking blood-oranges from The Grove, juicing them, then mixing the drinks in giant pitchers.
image (2)Strolling around just before the party started.
DSC_0117 Musicians getting set up, ready to greet the guests.DSC_0125Getting the party started!
DSC_0127I wish I had more photos from the actual event, but we were too busy enjoying ourselves! The party was Mexican & Brazilian themed so they served margaritas and caipirinhas, as well as a Mexican chicken & rice meal along with feijoada, among other things. I think there were about 150 people and it was a blast!

The next morning, Colt went hiking with his dad and godparents.
IMG_3910Nana snuggle time.
IMG_5317 Papa showing off Culhane in his winter gear.

image (3)For New Years, Michael, Lise, Sharon, Ollie and I went up to their cabin at Hidden Valley. Colt was all ready for a fun New Years dinner.DSC_0132 The next morning, Michael and I were excited to show Culhane around the property.DSC_0143 DSC_0147 DSC_0154 DSC_0156 DSC_0167 DSC_0174 DSC_0188 DSC_0204 DSC_0230 DSC_0242After returning to Phoenix, one of Michael’s friends hosted an awesome tree-burning party. It’s hard to show how (almost) out of control it was, but I’d say it was a life-long lesson in realizing what a fire-hazard dried out Christmas trees can be. They seriously took about 15 seconds to burn completely.
IMG_5328 IMG_5323 More fun with friends – Dups & Fletcher!IMG_3926And, last but certainly not least – MAJOR celeb citing at The Henry – Arie Luyendyk Jr. from Emily’s season of the Bachelorette.  IMG_5333We were sad to leave but it felt good to get back home to São Paulo (which, upon landing in Brazil, was Culhane’s 16th flight!). Happy 2014 everyone!

Christmas in Columbia, SC

Since I’m way behind on posting, the next few will be more pictures than text.

On Christmas Eve, my family gathered at the State Capitol for a little family photo-shoot. My mom likes to take advantage of having the whole group together, especially now that there are little ones in the picture! Culhane wore a sweater, hat and gloves all knitted by my Aunt Sheryl!

IMG_97391 That evening, we all gathered for Christmas Eve service at my parents’ church.DSC_0005 After church, we went to my great Aunt & Uncle’s house with some of my cousins for dinner. Culhane loved getting to hang out with Margaret! DSC_0008 After dinner Michael and I were excited to teach everyone the famous, Harper-family-dice-game! You see, every Christmas Eve in Phoenix, the Harpers gather together with their dear friends, the Griegos, for dinner & gambling. So this year we decided to bring the fun to South Carolina! DSC_0012DSC_0019On Christmas morning, Michael and I snuck off to my parents’ church for a quick but beautiful Christmas service. It’s funny how having a little baby caused both of us to marvel at the miracle of Christ’s birth in a new way, so this Christmas was extra special to us as we considered God’s amazing love and grace to us through Jesus.

When we returned home everyone was in the living room opening gifts, or rather, watching adorable Augusta Clare open gifts.DSC_0037

Lots of festive red!
DSC_0039 Culhane, very into his dad’s new pair of Tom’s.DSC_0063 DSC_0041 Our very own, happy little Santa – round belly and all!IMG_5269 DSC_0095 DSC_0107 DSC_0111 The day after Christmas we went to my grandparents’ house for a visit. IMG_5271 IMG_3867 IMG_3869And my dear friend Katie stopped by for a visit along with her sister and nephew who is exactly 2 years older than Colt!
IMG_5278 Our last couple of nights at home, Michael and I stayed up late playing games with my parents. On our last night we stayed up until 2am playing poker!IMG_5289 We were so sad to leave, but before we knew it, it was time to fly west to see our Phoenix family! Thankfully we had a sleepy (i.e. good) traveler on our hands!IMG_5298

Pictures from Phoenix next!

Culhane’s 6th Month!

Culhane McGeever! You turned 6 months old yesterday! You’re first ever half-birthday!6 months

Colt developments: Handsome love, you continue to grow so beautifully. This month you have amazed your parents and many family members with your ability to grab things (and usually stick them in your mouth) and swat at things that are bothering you (i.e. me trying to get boogies out of your nose). You’re such a strong little man and you continue to enjoy standing up tall. If we stand you up beside a coffee table or something that you can grab on to, then you can hold yourself up for a few seconds. You can also sit up on your own very well these days. You topple over eventually but have gotten a lot better at keeping your balance. You are still not crawling but you do move around on your tummy, scooting and rolling around.

You are such a sweet, calm and happy little guy. You love peek-a-boo and patty-cake (especially your dad’s special version) and we have figured out that the easiest time to make you laugh is in the evenings when you’re tired. It’s totally the laugh before the cry, but your laugh is so sweet we just cherish every second.

You have been traveling all over the place this month and you’ve been a total star through it all. That being said, you have seemed a little more like a mama’s-boy this month. A couple of times over the holidays you got slightly overwhelmed in big groups and would cry if others tried to hold you. And even at random times too, I notice you being fussier for others and needing me more. I think it’s a normal phase to go through and we just continue to take you everywhere and pass you around, so I’m not worried about it. And even though I think I’m the most comforting to you, your dad is definitely your favorite person and gets the most smiles and giggles from you.

Health: I’m so thankful that you continue to be perfectly healthy. What an incredible blessing. We haven’t weighed you since last month but you’re definitely gaining (I’m guessing around 16.5 lbs) and you seem a lot taller to me these days. Earlier in the month you developed a little rash around your mouth due to all of the slobbering / putting everything in your mouth, but a simple cream from our doctor cleared it up in no time. Lately though, I’ve noticed that you’re getting little red marks on some of your fingers from gnawing on them so much! Be nice to yourself, sweet one!

Eating: For the past month we have been nursing 5 times/day and trying juices/solids when we can, once or twice / day in between feedings. I was originally planning on exclusively nursing for the first 6 months, but we decided to start introducing other foods at 5 months just to get you used to new tastes, textures, etc. We have tried freshly mashed (or small chunks of) mango, banana, strawberry, blueberry, orange and avocado, and, since we’ve been in the US we’ve tried some of the pre-made stuff. We have done freshly squeezed blood-orange juice which you liked but so far that’s been the only juice that you would take. We did rice-cereal once and it seemed to make you a little gassy, but we’ll revisit that again soon. I can’t say that you clearly love or hate anything though, since you generally just seem confused, but maybe you like bananas and berries the best. And you like gnawing on orange slices. It’s funny because when you eat, it takes a while, it’s a mess and doesn’t seem like you’re getting THAT much, but it has definitely changed your system — both in regularity and output — you’re turning into a little stinker!

Sleeping: Earlier in the month you were doing a little too much waking throughout the night, so we started letting you CIO (“cry-it-out”) both to fall asleep and in the middle of the night and I think it was definitely in everyone’s best interest. We also stopped swaddling you this month. We quit cold-turkey and switched the swaddle for a sleep-sack. Although it was tricky for a couple of days, you adjusted pretty quickly and it’s so funny to watch you move in your sleep now! You usually sleep on your side and often end up spinning around all over the place.

You have been an amazing sleeper on all of our flights and you instantly adjusted to South Carolina’s 3 hour time-change, staying right on schedule. We had a harder time when we arrived in Phoenix and it took us a while longer to get you on track. I think part of the problem is that we kept trying to have you sleep in your dad’s old cradle that your Nana had all redone (it is just so beautiful!), but you move too much now and would constantly wake yourself up! After a couple of days we moved you out of our room and into a pack-n-play and you did much better!

Schedule: We changed it a little right after your turned 5 months to eliminate your last nap so that you go to bed earlier. Right now, our (ideal) schedule is basically:

7:30 am Wake, feed & change, followed by play time.
9:30-11:30 Big Nap.
11:30 am Feed & change, followed by play time.
1:30-2:15 Little Nap.
2:15 pm Feed & change, followed by play time.
4:00-5:30 Big Nap.
5:30 pm Feed & change, followed by play time.  NO NAP!
7:45 pm Feed, change and get ready for bed.
8:45 pm Bed time! Down for the night.

I like to get you out of the house at least once and if it’s nice enough to have you play outside then that’s even better. Still giving you a bath every day too.

Mama: Nothing new with me. I’m always wanting to freeze time but then loving the next day even more. It’s so fun getting to know you and your sweet personality.

Thoughts: What a special month this has been, Culhane! It was such a joy to bring you to South Carolina and Arizona and introduce you to so many friends and family members who were just waiting to meet you. Your dad and I have felt blessed beyond measure to witness so much love poured out on you.DSC_0260DSC_0293DSC_0254DSC_0290DSC_0262DSC_0294

Culhane’s Baptism Weekend

As Michael and I boarded our plane, heading to the US for Christmas, we thought back to last year and how excited we were to visit our families and share with them our news that we were pregnant. It seemed like that was just yesterday, and yet there we were one year later, this time focused on how to get our 5 1/2 month old baby boy to sleep during the first 10 hour flight. Thankfully, Culhane was awesome during our travels – sleeping 8 hours in the “bassinet” on our overnight flight and then snoozing again for most of the second flight. He also happened to instantly adjust to South Carolina time, despite the 3 hour time-change – we are very grateful to have a good little traveler on our hands (at least so far)!

We arrived in South Carolina on Thursday Dec. 19 and were met by my sweet grandparents who were very excited to meet their great grandson for the first time!IMG_3820 They took us to my parents’ house where we got all settled in and reunited Culhane with his grandparents. He definitely remembered them after having just seen them in São Paulo for Thanksgiving.

On Friday we were so excited to welcome Michael’s parents to South Carolina! My parents hosted a party on Friday night to let our extended family meet Culhane and see Sharon and Ollie and it was so much fun.

Lots of photos in front of the tree!


My Aunt Sheryl basically catered the party and the food was delish! DSC_0637

Sharon and Ollie brought Culhane’s 125 year old baptismal gown to South Carolina and it turned out to be a total party show-piece! 3 layers + a coat! DSC_0655

My mom and one of her besties, Jane!DSC_0654

DSC_0651DSC_0626We loved getting to see my sweet niece, Augusta Clare! Sharon brought her some gifts and she loved playing with the bubbles with my mom. DSC_0748

The next day we toured Sharon & Ollie around downtown Columbia with a visit to the statehouse, my dad’s office and USC’s campus. DSC_0775DSC_0785Next we went to nearby Congaree National Park, for a 2 1/2 mile stroll. DSC_0810DSC_0822DSC_0816DSC_0826Saturday night my parents took us all out for a very special dinner at Garibaldi’s – the restaurant that Michael took my parents to when he asked them if he could marry me! DSC_0836

Then, Sunday morning was the main event – Culhane’s baptism! We had him baptized at my grandparents’ church, St. Peter Lutheran Church, where my niece, Augusta Clare, was also baptized. As I mentioned, the Harpers brought Culhane’s baptismal gown which had been worn by Ollie’s mother and her siblings (starting around 1890), Ollie and some of his cousins, as well as Michael and all of his siblings. Culhane was the first of his generation to wear the gown and Sharon went the extra mile to make it even more special. She had a long slip made (the longest, bottom layer in the photo below) which included the monograms of everyone who had ever been baptized in the gown. She also had the gown cleaned and had an “extender panel” added since our little guy was older than the other babies had been. Anyway, it was so over-the-top amazing and special and we absolutely loved it.

The girls helping the bride baby get dressed! DSC_0841The beautiful baptism service, during which Culhane was a champ!IMG_4372IMG_4379So thankful for God’s grace!DSC_0927

With the Zais and Fincher side of the family.DSC_0901With the Harper side of the family. IMG_4391Culhane looking like the future Pope in the fabulous coat!DSC_0936After the service we all headed to The Blue Marlin where my parents had reserved a special room for us to gather and celebrate together. And what a fun surprise when we arrived only to see that Culhane’s amazing godparents, Mike Saign & Moira O’Connell had sent a beautiful cake for us to enjoy! (Also, to their credit they were planning to be at the baptism, but we changed the location from Phoenix to South Carolina at the last second!) DSC_0977DSC_0984Sweet Augusta Clare.DSC_0997DSC_1001

We were all sad to say goodbye to Sharon & Ollie that night, but it was so special to have them there. More on the rest of our time in SC and then our time in PHX soon!