Colt: 20.5 month update

Colt! You are such a big boy! 20.5 months old – getting too close to 2!!

Colt with Bunny & Wink.

Colt with Bunny & Wink.

Colt Developments: Colt, you are growing and developing¬†every day right before our very eyes. I am constantly amazed by the new things you’re doing, by the connections you can make, by the words you’re saying and by all that you understand. It’s been a while (8 months…eek!) since I last did a real update on you so here are just some of the things that you’re doing:

You are a fast little guy, running all over all the time. You also recently discovered “galloping” and you like to gallop around – sometimes with a baseball bat or something between your legs while you click like you’re riding a horse, and sometimes you just straight up gallop. You also like to hop or jump around – especially if you’re in your crib, screaming for someone to come get you. ūüôā
– Your favorite toy is a ball and you would seriously be happy kicking balls around all day long. You’re honestly really good with them and have an impressive kick, drop-kick, and you’ve recently learned the “header” where you drop the ball right by your head and knock it down with your forehead. You also have a little t-ball set-up and you love playing with that as well, but you normally hit the tee instead of the ball.
– You¬†love reading books. Sometimes we will sit reading books for an hour straight. The¬†changing table/dresser in your room has all of your board books just stuck in the middle drawer since it’s at the best height for you to be in and out of and you are constantly bringing books for me to read to you. You have learned lots of the words, sounds or things we do while reading¬†the books so sometimes we will co-read and I’ll pause and let you fill in blanks. (You’re awesome at this with Sandra Boynton’s Moo, Baa, La La La book!)
– You have also gotten really into legos (well, Duplos really) over the past couple months. We have the teepee set up for you and we keep your legos in there and you will grab my hand at least once or twice a day and pull me there saying “peetee, ego.” Sometimes you’re really good at building things and other times you get very frustrated if you can’t quite get them to fit how you want them to.
– You pretty much always bring your big stuffed toy “Wink” into¬†your teepee and you’ve also become really attached to your stuffed bunny rabbit lately as well. Most animals have names but for some reason, for your stuffed rabbit and anytime you see pictures of rabbits you just stick your tongue in and out over and over a few times. I have no idea where this came from – my only thought is that in one book there is a picture of a bunny eating lettuce and it says “Nibble nibble” and possibly somehow it came from that? I don’t know but it’s really cute and really funny. Just in the past week you’ve gotten more into getting out all of your stuffed animals and lining them up, calling them by name and snuggling with them too.
– You are talking up a storm and are definitely bilingual. Around¬†25% of your words are in Portuguese and 75% English. Some words you’ll start saying in English and switch to Portuguese, but you still understand the meaning in either language. i.e. you first learned “bread” then switched to “p√£o” but if I ask you where the bread is you can find it and if I ask you if you want bread you’ll say “p√£o peese (please).” You¬†also started out with “shoes” then switched to “shoepatos” and now fully¬†to “zapatos.” But if I ask you to get your shoes you will still go get them. For some words it depends on who you are talking to. With me, you always call ducks “ducks” but with Portuguese speakers you call them “patos.” You also definitely understand a ton¬†in both languages as you will obey commands in either language.¬†It’s fascinating to watch and I think it’s very cool.
You love letters!! You have an alphabet mat in your room and love to point to letters and practice saying them. You have an alphabet scripture book too that you love to read because you will find the letter on the floor as we are reading. You can find and say all on your own B, D, E, F, O, P, Q, R and W. And when asked, you can identify a few others too and you love to repeat the sounds. You also really like counting in both English and Portuguese (you can more or less count to 3 in English and 6 in Portuguese). In both languages, your favorite number to say is 2. But you love it when we count for something Рeven just before you kick a ball.
– You do funny little things every day which surprise me and make me laugh. Just today I was cutting your nails and when we finished you took the clippers and went to your stuffed animals and pretended to cut theirs as well even though they clearly just have little stuffed hands and feet – no semblance of nails at all.
–¬†Although you are very expressive and talkative¬†with me, you sometimes¬†seem quite shy¬†around others. It depends – sometimes you will wave to every person you see and call “bye bye” to them as you pass by, even blowing kisses – but other times, especially if I am talking to someone new, you will hide behind my legs and hold tightly to my hand. You’ve only done this a few times but it always strikes me – like, where did you even learn to do that?! And why?
РYour personality has remained very consistent from birth as you continue to be a calm, easy going guy, pretty cautious and very observant. In big play groups you often sit back and just watch quietly for a while before finding something you want to do.
– You give the sweetest snuggles, hugs and kisses in the world. I love how you get a little turtle-face when you’re puckering up for a kiss. Melt my heart.
– You are excellent at sharing and play very well around other kids. I volunteer in the nursery at our church and am always impressed with how you behave in that environment of a pretty small room with a bunch of toddlers running around.
– You are really incredibly obedient and I’m shocked at how well you receive instruction for your age. You totally get that your dad and I are your parents and can tell you right from wrong and you respect us. If I ever really want¬†your attention or need you to calm down and do something I just need to look at you and say, “Colt, I’m your mother. XYZ” and you totally respond to that. We do discipline you a little for very direct actions of disobedience when we it’s clear¬†that you knew you were directly acting against something we had told you and you have already quickly learned to honor our requests. From an early age we have talked to you about the biblical authority that we have with you, how God has called us to be your parents and how, out of our obedience to Him we are called to be in authority over you and ensure that you stay within that and it’s kind of like you get it and are happy with it. Or maybe you just haven’t turned 2 yet and a little rebellious surprise is still waiting around the corner for me… ūüėČ
– In addition to the above, you’re a great little helper! I have tried to help you make it a habit to clean up after yourself and put things away in their correct place before getting out too many other toys. Of course this is not always a 1-for-1 type of thing and we play freely, but if the room is getting too cluttered or if we are moving rooms or going outside, for a nap or to bed at night, we always clean up first. I hope this will help it become an easy habit for you so that being neat¬†isn’t such a struggle later in life. Of course at this age I still need to be actively engaged with you in the process (i.e. talking to you at your level, encouraging you and pointing at things to get) but you will do 100% of the picking up and putting away. It’s impressive. I’ve even started to let you help me put dishes away (like tupperware or plastic measuring spoons) when they are clean since you are definitely familiar with where everything under the counter goes. (Funny note: you often will say “bye bye” to your toys as you put them away – so cute.)
– Kind of along with that, you’re good at “helping” with other little tasks too. If, for example, I leave my cell phone or water bottle in the other room I can say, “Colt, where is Mommy’s water bottle? It’s on the desk in the living room. Can you go get it and bring it to Mommy?” And you will get excited, run out of the room and 95% of the time return with the requested product. This is quite nice. ūüôā
– It’s not all giggles all the time though. You struggle with “independent play” and REALLY want someone to be engaged with you or at minimum sitting with you almost all the time. A small amount of each day you will busy yourself kicking balls, reading, playing with legos etc. on your own but it’s usually short lived before you come running to me, grabbing my hand saying, “Mama peese. Mama peese.” It’s hard to resist the sweetness and innocence of the request but it’s a little exhausting sometimes. If I sit down at my computer you immediately get upset and try to move me away because you know my attention won’t FULLY be on you – even if you’re basically playing right at my feet and I’m still talking to you! Some of my friends have said they think that you can sense I’m pregnant and want more attention but I also think it could just be the age. Kind of wears me out some days though.
– You are also in the stage of frustration-fits where you will panic and body flail at RANDOM if something totally insignificant doesn’t go how you were hoping. Sometimes it’s legos. Sometimes it’s that I was laying down flat on the floor and now I want to have a pillow. Sometimes it’s that I moved your tee-ball set 1 inch. It’s rarely¬†a contest over something we’ve asked you to do but instead just a random freak out. I either ignore it so as not to incentivize such behavior OR I try to get you to zero in on saying a word which stops you from crying and helps enforce that we solve frustrations with communication. Who knows though. I think it’s also just the age and it’s not something I’m loosing sleep over.
You adore your daddy and get so excited when he comes home at the end of each day and love to wrestle around and do boy things with him. You are blessed with a truly excellent father who models well for you the love that your Heavenly Father has for you.

Colt you are a TOTAL JOY and bring light to our lives every day. You are our treasure and your dad and I cherish the blessing that it is to parent you.

Health: We continue to thank God for your¬†health. To this point you have¬†never really gotten sick or had to go on antibiotics. The most you’ve ever¬†had have been a few little colds here or there, fussiness related to teething, and a 24 hour stomach bug once. You definitely get banged up though and your legs are constantly covered with scrapes and bruises but it doesn’t slow you down at all. You’re still in size 4 diapers and continue to basically be right on track with clothing sizes. At your¬†last appointment you¬†measured in the 75th% for height and 62nd% for weight. Healthy boy! Your hair is finally growing and¬†it is like the finest, softest, silkiest gold.¬†Your eyes continue to confuse me, looking different all the time. I guess I would classify them as hazel although they are a very deep hazel with browns, grays and hints of green whereas your dad has much lighter, more honey colored hazel eyes. One thing is for sure – they are heartbreaker eyes.

Eating: You’re a good eater sweet one but not the easiest in the world. You are a little picky, very hesitant about trying new things and are generally resistant to strong flavors or large chunks of veggies or meat in a dish. Like, you would never just bite into a big piece of broccoli or even a strawberry. You do better with shredded chicken, cooked spinach, mashed up broccoli, peas, peppers if they’re pretty cooked down, etc. (Putting chicken and veggies in the slow cooker has been good for us in this respect.) However, foods you love and will always eat include corn, pasta, fried rice (even with chunks of meat, eggs and veggies!), yogurt (your FAV), cottage cheese (or any cheese for that matter), smoked fish, crackers or snacks. Sometimes you will love a food one day and refuse it the next. Scrambled eggs/omelets, quesadillas and grits are always a gamble.
We aren’t big on snacks but once or twice a week you’ll get a couple of crackers, cheerios or a very plain version of a cookie but we don’t give you things like real sweets. I have actually been craving chocolate pudding lately and whenever I eat it you refuse to get near¬†it! Ha.
Your eating schedule is: Milk when you wake up (5-6 oz), breakfast of a banana mashed with oats and yogurt or oats and a homemade fruit/veggie sauce then lunch and dinner meals that include meat, veggies and starch. You also take 7oz of milk when you wake up from your nap (so that kind of serves as your afternoon snack) and otherwise you stick to water. We will give you juice during meals once or twice a week but you honestly prefer water and so do I. Better for your teeth and less mess if it gets anywhere.
We hold hands and pray before each meal. Your dad and I¬†always close each prayer with, “in Jesus’ name, Amen” and as you hear us¬†starting that phrase, you love to join in with “Amen.” The funny thing is that you totally demand that everyone who is in the house at that moment be involved in the prayer. If your dad is home but not in the room with us¬†you hold your hands up and say “Dada amen, Dada amen” until he¬†joins. You do this with any guests we have over too and just want everyone involved. I love it.
You can feed yourself pretty well and I’m trying to let you do it more and more but if it’s going to be particularly messy or I’m trying to get you to eat something you’re not a huge fan of then I still feed you myself. This is fine but you have to be distracted to allow it so you generally read books or play with your play food during this time.

Sleeping: Aside from that one weird week that I wrote about a couple posts back, you are an awesome sleeper. You are always happy to go down for naps or at night and you basically never wake up until it’s time to get up. Sometimes you’ll wake up a little earlier than normal but usually if I let you cry for a few minutes you’ll go back down until a reasonable hour. Naps can vary a little in length depending on how you’re feeling, but you always do at least an hour/hour and a half and sometimes up to 3 hours.
Your bedtime routine is not very involved – we never wanted to get sucked into a long, drawn out process and also didn’t want you too tied to a big routine since we are often traveling or want to put you down at a friends’ house or with a sitter. Basically we clean up any toys you have out or any messes you’ve made (pulling things off shelves in the kitchen), change your diaper and your clothes, brush your teeth (I feel like we are FINALLY making some progress in this department although the effort is still pretty pathetic – you just don’t like it!), we read one or two bedtime books¬†then put you in the crib, pray for you and walk out.
You pretty much have to sleep with your sound machine on (also lets us feel like we don’t have to tiptoe around the apartment while you’re sleeping) a pacifier,¬†your blankie¬†and your water bottle. You have an elephant pacifier in there too but basically just hold onto it sometimes – you don’t really use it. You would love to walk around all day with your paci and blankie but I don’t think that’s best (especially for verbal development) so whenever you get up you have to throw them back in the crib and you say, “Bye bye paci. Bye bye blankie.” I have to move them to the back middle of the crib though or else you’d grab them back out 5 minutes later. But if they’re out of reach you’re fine.

Schedule: We are on a great schedule with you little angel.
7:30-8:00am (with the occasional snooze fest until 9am) Morning wake up with milk
9:00am Breakfast
9:45-11:45am Downstairs to play outside and with friends in the complex or run errands with Mom
12:00pm Lunch
12:30-2:30/3:00pm Nap then wake up with milk
3:45-5:45pm Play outside again
6:00pm Dinner
8:00pm Lights Out!

Mama: I’m enjoying this stage that you are in SO much Little Colt! You are turning into such a real person, a real little friend and playmate with new thoughts, ideas, words and actions every day, yet you’re still such a sweet and innocent baby. My baby. I am cherishing these days with you as our only and I can’t believe that I have been blessed with the privilege of being your mom.

Pregnancy #2 – So far.

Since I haven’t posted¬†anything specifically about this¬†pregnancy yet, I wanted to take a minute to record how things have been, are going, etc.

FIRST TRIMESTER:

Highlights:
1) Obviously the first highlight was finding out that we were pregnant!
Although we were trying, it happened really fast (first time!) so¬†was a bit of a surprise. Without saying too much, I will say that I had just stopped nursing a few months prior and so hadn’t quite¬†returned to “normal”¬†so we were really expecting it to take longer just since I didn’t know if I was physically even able to get pregnant again yet. At any rate, we were SO thrilled and thank God for the blessing of this baby.
2) The second highlight was getting to share the news, in person, with our families!
We happened to find out we were pregnant the day before we traveled back to the US¬†for the holidays so we were really excited that we would get to share our news in person. It was a sweet blessing that God allowed us this grace in both pregnancies since we rarely see our families in person. That being said, we didn’t have time to¬†create a cute announcement but we decided we wanted Colt to be involved so I just drew on one of his white onesies.

Front

Front.

Back.

Back.

In Phoenix (where we were first), we waited a few days until most of the family was together in one place. I don’t think anyone was shocked by the news but since we had been there a while and not said anything I think they were a little surprised. In South Carolina we shared the first night we were home and¬†while my mom said that she thought we may be waiting a little longer, I don’t think anyone was too surprised. But let’s be real – when you have¬†a child over 1 years old people are practically just waiting for news about the next one.
3) We also loved sharing the news with our friends!

Colt, proud to announce!

Colt, proud to announce!

Outtake.

Outtake.

It was especially sweet getting to tell our Brazil crew since two of my best girlfriends here are also pregnant with their second! Paige is due 2 months ahead of me (side note – she and I were due 2 months apart last time but Mailey was a week late and Colt 3 weeks early so they turned out to be just 4 weeks apart!) and my friend Michelle is only 4 days ahead of me (and her little boy Jack is just 2 weeks older than Colt). So it’s really fun to share the experience together.

Lowlights:
1) While I was in South Carolina at around 8 weeks I started to have some bleeding which was very scary to me. Since it can be an indicator of miscarriage,¬†I have always feared seeing blood during pregnancy. I actually had nightmares¬†about it during my first trimester with both Colt and this little one. So, when I saw it for real one morning I was pretty freaked out. It wasn’t much but since I never experienced that with Colt I was definitely concerned. At first I thought I should wait to see if it persisted but by that night I told my mom I wanted to try to see someone the next day. Her neighbor is an OBGYN and he was kind enough to squeeze me in for a quick ultrasound and check up in the morning. Michael was already back in Brazil at this point and I didn’t want to worry him so I waited until I was confirmed for an appointment to even tell him about it. It was weird to¬†go in for my first ultrasound without him though. But, my mom (and Colt) came with me and we were all so relieved to see a healthy baby with a strong heartbeat. The doctor said that the bleeding would probably persist for another week or so but unless it became heavier, it was normal and nothing to worry about. This was definitely reassuring but the whole episode made me much more guarded and cautious about the pregnancy. It¬†was a reminder that¬†the pregnancy was not something I wanted to take lightly but instead something for which I want to thank the Lord every day and pray for constantly. And even still, nothing is guaranteed. Anyway, the bleeding did persist for about 10 days so when I got back to Brazil Michael was eager for me to get checked again and to go with me! At this ultrasound my doctor explained that the bleeding was caused by a small part of the placenta which had separated and was just making it’s way¬†out. He said it was so small and insignificant that there is no way it would affect the baby and that it was normal and everything looked good. We praise God for this and for the fact that since then, everything has tracked totally normally.

Symptoms:
My symptoms this time were very similar to my last pregnancy, but not identical.
Although I felt¬†full more¬†quickly and wasn’t super hungry with some food aversions (mostly chicken), I was able to each MUCH better this time. I still lost a little weight during the first trimester but honestly I was really surprised by that because I felt like I was eating all the time. In comparison, when I was pregnant with Colt I struggled to eat so much that Michael would make me fruit smoothies loaded with Ensure just to help me get more calories because I couldn’t stomach most real food. This time I felt much more normal and also generally less nauseated.
I have had more and stronger food cravings too this time. Random things (mostly unhealthy) like chocolate glazed donuts, eggrolls, corn fritters, and sushi (although that’s kind of all of life).
I think I was equally tired this time but because of sweet little Colt, I was less able to get the amount of sleep that my body was asking for so as a result I really struggled.¬†I honestly slept¬†EVERY chance I could during the first trimester. I slept every time Colt was napping, went to bed as early as possible and when I was in South Carolina I let my mom do pretty much all of the heavy lifting and slept a ton. When we got back home to S√£o Paulo, Michael took mornings with Colt as often as he was able in order to let me sleep in, and he would often come home early to help out and then do work after Colt and I went to bed. But even with all of the help, I still wasn’t able to sleep enough and was chronically exhausted. But, worse than the exhaustion is that, as a result of not getting enough rest I would get regular migraines. And since I knew that’s how my body worked, I would basically spend each day trying to expend as little energy as possible so as to prevent a migraine from happening. But that’s pretty hard to do when you’re trying to keep up with a toddler all day! I got bad headaches during¬†my first trimester with Colt but at that time¬†I was better able to manage the amount of sleep I got (since there was no little human to look after) so this time around it was tougher.
Thankfully however, I started feeling good again a lot faster this time! With Colt it took about 17 or 18 weeks before I was feeling normal and this time I was really recovering around week 12 and basically normal by week 13/14. That was a huge blessing as I was expecting to feel crummy for longer but am praising God for the energy He’s given me these days!
All in all I know that many women have it worse and even the bad symptoms were just a reminder of the blessing that it is to be pregnant.

CURRENTLY – 18.5 weeks:

Body: These days I’m feeling totally back to normal except for the growing belly. ūüôā I have stayed really consistent with my weight gain from last pregnancy (I try to weigh once a week and so far it’s been almost exactly the same!) but my body is definitely changing more quickly. I either do the “rubber-band trick” with my regular jeans or wear leggings or dresses. I’m trying to put off maternity clothes but the reality is that I may as well just go for it since things are quickly not fitting as well anymore.
Baby: Praise God the baby continues to develop normally. Also, I felt him move for the first time last night and it brought me so much joy!
Thoughts: We¬†are so excited to be having another little boy!! I totally think I could have waited to find out the gender of this baby but I really love finding out early. As soon as we opened the envelope and read “boy,” I instantly felt so much more connected to this sweet little life inside me and generally got 10x more excited about the pregnancy and having another baby. I am sure I would have had the exact same feelings had it said “girl” instead but the point is that for me, knowing is a really positive thing. Although I only had 1 brother I think that same-gender siblings are a special thing and I am so excited for that dynamic to be a part of our family and for Colt to have a brother for the rest of his life.

We can't wait!

We can’t wait!

Birthday Week! Turning 28.

I’m honestly the kind of person who would be happy to tell no one about my birthday and just go to dinner one night with Michael – not necessarily on my birthday night, just sometime that was close to my birthday and convenient. That would totally do it for me. BUT I have an amazing husband and incredible friends who do not let me get away with that and this year I was really over-celebrated.

My birthday was on a Thursday so the night before on Wednesday, my dear friend Paige Hudson hosted an incredible over-the-top dinner party for me with all of our friends. Her mom and grandmother were in town visiting but she still insisted on hosting. Check out the night:

With the amazing, beautiful hostess!

With the amazing, beautiful hostess!

Appetizer Table!

Appetizer Table!

Crostinos!

Crostinis! Cucumbers with mint & dill, caramelized leeks, strawberries with aged balsamic, lemon zest with truffle oil, radishes and sea salt and tomatoes with basil.

Sausage & roasted chickpeas.

Sausage & roasted chickpeas.

Figs & queijo minas.

Queijo minas with figs and honey.

Cheese ball and crackers.

Cheese ball and crackers.

And then dinner was served!

Course 1: salmon ceviche on top of avocado with pita chips.

Course 1 (Fish): Salmon ceviche on an avocado salad with pita chips.

Course 2: Broccoli with romesco sauce and a side of greens.

Course 2 (Salad): Cold broccoli salad with romesco sauce and a side of greens.

Curried pumpkin soup.

Course 3 (Soup): Curried pumpkin soup.

Course 4 (Main): Carnitas with mashed mandioquinha and homemade pickled veggies.

Course 4 (Main): Carnitas with mashed mandioquinha and homemade pickled veggies.

How pretty are these!?

How pretty are these!?

Course 6 (Cheese): Guava and cream cheese empanadas.

Course 5 (Cheese): Guava and cream cheese empanadas.

Course 5 (Dessert): Dark chocolate salted caramel ice cream pie with crushed oreo crust.

Course 6 (Dessert): Dark chocolate salted caramel ice cream pie with crushed oreo crust.

I mean, seriously. We were all happily miserably full by the time we left and we didn’t even have the coffee / tea course with lemon cookies that she had prepared. Furthermore, she sent us home with a dish of sticky-buns to be left to rise overnight then baked in the morning — the breakfast course! It was such a fun¬†night and I¬†love getting all of our friends together for any occasion so this was extra special.¬†And, to top it off they even had a tiara and magic wand for me.

Feeling like the queen of the night - holding flowers from my sweet in laws.

Feeling like the queen of the night – holding flowers sent from my sweet in laws.

The next morning, Michael took “morning-duty” with Colt and I slept in, only to get out of bed to flowers and a beautiful breakfast! Michael knew I had been craving grits so he made me grits topped with a perfectly poached egg with a tall iced coffee and fruit smoothie.

Perfect breakfast from my amaze husband.

Perfect breakfast from my amaze husband.

He also cooked up that batch of sticky buns I was just talking about.

Colt is pretty interested in the sticky buns too!

Colt is pretty interested in the sticky buns too!

Throughout the day, Michael gave me (or sent me to find) different gifts and cards all day long. Each card had a specific characteristic that he loved about me along with a beautiful note and a special scripture and then each gift corresponded to that characteristic. And, they were also all Brazil themed gifts! I think in total there were 6 different gifts¬†and each one was so special and also totally surprising. I think my favorites were 1) a beautiful necklace which had chords of Brazilian golden grass¬†and then a gold pendant with the Lord’s prayer engraved in Portuguese, 2) an incredible silk scarf full of my favorite colors that, when opened, is a gorgeous Carnaval scene, and 3) an amazing, fun long dress in a bright, colorful¬†print from a store that I have always admired but never purchased anything from.¬†I have no idea when he has time to even think of this stuff much less go out and find such thoughtful, beautiful gifts but I definitely felt loved. We were out late the night before at the Hudsons’ and were going out the next night so on my actual birthday we stayed in and ordered sushi – my favorite!

The next night, as a continuation of my birthday celebration we made plans to go to THE best restaurant in Brazil and the highest rated restaurant in all of Latin America, D.O.M. (Currently D.O.M.¬†is ranked #7 for The World’s Best Restaurants.) D.O.M. is super famous and we had always wanted to try it but the price tag is a little much so we had been¬†putting it off. However, lately the Brazilian currency has totally plummeted making things a lot more affordable than they had been previously.¬†So, we decided that for my birthday we would go! D.O.M. is known for “ambitious, research-led Amazonian cooking”¬†where “the pioneering chef is also part-historian and part-botanist thanks to his research trips with scientists and anthropologists deep into the Amazon to test potential ingredients for his menu. By doing so he has¬†…¬†brought his country‚Äôs indigenous foodstuffs ‚Äď many of which are unknown beyond its borders ‚Äď to the fore.” The food was definitely inventive and somewhat experimental and one course consisted of two large Amazonian ants prepared atop a meringue – the first ant was to be eaten by itself¬†and the second with the meringue. Not my favorite course of the night but good and interesting for sure.

Opener: pallet cleansing pepper "ice cream" with sake served in peppers.

My handsome date with the opener: pallet cleansing pepper “ice cream” with sake served in peppers.

One of the fish courses.

One of the fish courses.

To make the night¬†extra special and as one final birthday present, we decided that over dinner we would find out the gender of Baby #2! We had an ultrasound that Friday morning and the doctor put the results in an envelope for us to open at dinner. We wanted to open it early in the meal so that we could have fun talking about it so after¬†I the first¬†course, Michael slid over to my side of the table and we opened. And…another BOY!!¬†We were thrilled and had so much fun dreaming together about how¬†this little one will fit into our family and change it, for the better. Michael and his brother are so close and have such a special friendship so¬†he is excited Colt will have that type of companionship as well and I just love my Harper boys and couldn’t be happier.

Heading home feeling happy!!

Heading home feeling happy!!

Blessed beyond measure. Thanks to everyone for helping make this such a special birthday!

Carnaval 2015!

Since Michael and I moved to Brazil just before Carnaval 2012, this year marked our 4th Carnaval in Brazil. In 2012 we were basically just trying to get acquainted with the city, figure out where and how to buy groceries, etc. In 2013 we took a little getaway trip to the mountains. In 2014 we were in the Bay Area after celebrating Colt’s godparents’ wedding in San Francisco. All have been great activities for us but¬†this year we decided to something a little different, a little more Carnaval-ish.

First of all, I was still in the first-trimester season of not feeling very well and honestly I felt like Colt and I had just gotten back from the US, so I wasn’t really up for a trip. Since we decided to stay put, there is really only one main event in S√£o Paulo so of course we were in for that! Party at the Samb√≥dromo with Trent and Paige Hudson!

Let me explain. First, the “national music and dance” of Brazil¬†is called¬†samba. In preparation for Carnaval each year, there are samba “schools” which are kind of like dance/performance troupes. Each year, these schools come up with a unique theme¬†and then create enormous floats, design crazy costumes and choreograph amazing dances for the big samba school¬†competition. The¬†venues across Brazil which are dedicated to hosting the Carnaval parade of competing samba schools are called Samb√≥dromos (Sambadromes) and they are basically just stadiums with a long runway¬†of asphalt and¬†bleachers on either side. The competition / party lasts for multiple nights and each school spends a full hour making their way down the “runway.” We went with Trent & Paige on a Saturday night where there were 7 schools slated from 10pm through 5am. We made it until about 3:30am¬†and were the first to leave but I thought it was pretty good for two pregnant ladies!¬†The schools¬†all write their own “team-song” for their performance and since it’s a just a few verses and a chorus over and over for the school’s hour-long performance, the crowd quickly memorizes it and sings along while dancing the whole time. (Honestly, you never sit down!) We had a blast and I loved getting to do something that was very in the spirit of the Brazilian Carnaval.

Just as a side note –¬†each school reserves a certain number of slots for “tourists” who are not members but who can pay to join. For a hefty little¬†fee, they¬†get costumes and an easy role in the performance and together, they help fund the entire school. The real¬†deal happens in Rio and this year, Michael’s brother Joe and some other friends of ours participated! They said it was an unforgettable experience – so cool!

OK – pics from our night – check out the amazing floats and costumes!

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Final photo on the way out with one of our fav costumes.

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Then before hopping in our cab, Trent managed to snag this part of a costume from the street!

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Back at the Hudsons’ apartment, Michael tries it on for size.

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Then next morning the two kids were feeling a little more chipper¬†than their parents…

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It was a great Carnaval / Valentines’ Day!

Brazil Lately

OK, now that I’ve finally made it past posting about the holidays, time to try to catch up on what we’ve been up to¬†since then!

Because¬†Michael had to return home from the states a couple weeks before Colt and I did, I was doing the trip solo with Colt. I have done it with him a couple times by myself before but in those instances I was on direct flights AND it was before he was walking. Big differences. This time we flew through DC and again, we hadn’t purchased a seat for him so it was a gamble as to whether I’d get to use his car seat or if I’d be holding him the whole time. Also, I was still in my¬†first trimester feeling very¬†exhausted and sick so I was pretty worried about how the trip would go. The great comfort was that I knew, good or bad, we would land in Brazil eventually and then it would be over, so even if it was a rough day of travel, it would only be a day. Thankfully, however, God had other plans and was so gracious to me. I had an extra seat on both flights and for the overnight, Colt went to sleep just after the dinner service and woke up just after they cleared breakfast – less than an hour before landing. Praise the Lord. It was such a blessing!! And such a departure from how he behaved on our way TO the US. I think those two legs counted for his 31st and 32nd flights but honestly, no matter how “well traveled” a baby is, it all just depends on the day, the night, the moment. That being said, after doing over 30 flights with him, I know that I am more comfortable and laid back about it which helps a lot. When we landed in Brazil everything went smoothly and God provided someone to help me with ALL of our tons of bags and then **angels singing** Michael was just outside of security waiting for us with flowers and a soccer ball balloon for Colt! So sweet. We were all very happy to be reunited.

The boys happy to be reunited.

The boys happy to be reunited.

Nothing too major has happened since we’ve been back. The main events have been Carnaval and my birthday – both of which I’ll post about separately – but otherwise it’s just been a lot of time with friends and family. In fact, the night that we got home we went out for sushi with the Hudsons (yes, I’m eating sushi this pregnancy, just¬†not too much and only high quality) and the next day we celebrated Trent’s birthday with a gathering in the park. The boys were pretty focused on spikeball, the girls were busy catching up and somehow Joe got stuck on baby-duty. He’s just such a natural!

Joe wrangling Jack, Mailey and Colt.

Joe wrangling Jack, Mailey and Colt.

Also after returning home from the holidays we set up one of Colt’s coolest Christmas gifts – a teepee from my mom! He loves having a little space that he knows is his own and every day he comes and grabs my hand and says “pee-tee, pee-tee.”

Colt's teepee set up in the guest room / his play room.

Colt’s teepee set up in the guest room / his play room.

Colt got right back into the swing of life in Brazil and loves spending time outside here!

Running around the complex.

Running around the complex.

Elevator selfies.

Elevator selfies.

Scraped up but still smiling.

Scraped up little nose but still smiling.

Trent with Mailey & Colt!

Trent with Mailey & Colt!

The "rocking colt" that Michael and Trent made Colt - finally finished! And Colt loves it!

The “rocking colt” that Michael and Trent made Colt – finally finished! And Colt loves it!

Looking sharp for a lunch out with friends!

Looking sharp for a lunch out with friends!

Painting at home with Mom!

Painting at home with Mom!

I can't get enough!

I can’t get enough!

Valentines Day: Flowers and signs from my boys.

Sweet Valentines flowers and signs from my boys.

Splishing and splashing in the rain! Loving the boots from his godparents Mike & Mo!

Splishing and splashing in the rain! Loving the boots from his godparents Mike & Mo!

Absolutely fascinated by the construction work across the street. I couldn't pull him away!

Absolutely fascinated by the construction work across the street. I couldn’t pull him away!

My pal!

My sweet little pal!

My little fried rice monster.

My little fried rice monster.

Coloring with his pals downstairs.

Coloring with his pals downstairs.

Park day!

Park day!

Total ham.

Total ham.

Colt, you have a little something on your face.

Colt, you have a little something on your face.

Cheese!

Cheese!

Stealing the big kid's scooter for a second.

Stealing the big kid’s scooter for a second.

I walked in the room to find that Colt had put his little stuffed friends up in the chair and was sweetly reading!

I walked in the room to find that Colt had put his little stuffed friends up in the chair and was sweetly reading!

Ball pit!

Ball pit!

With Mailey!!

Always more fun with Mailey!!

I’ve mentioned this before but kids’ birthday parties are a really big thing here. People go all out. In February, Colt and I were invited to the birthday party for a little guy in our apartment complex who was turning 3. He actually has a little brother who is only 1 week older than Colt so we play with them a lot. Since this party was being held within our complex (versus out at a venue) I thought it might be more low-key but not so! Each apartment building has a “party room” and they had theirs all decked out in a Micky Mouse theme.¬†There were 3 musicians/singers who were hired to entertain the kids as well as characters Micky Mouse and Goofy the Dog plus another guy who sort of played with kids / directed the party. For food they had caterers serving popcorn, little hotdogs, mini pizzas, p√£o de queijo, and little cups of hot corn (both last things are common Brazilian foods). Then, around 6pm¬†(the party started at 3pm) they served pasta with cheese or red sauce. Then of course there was the dessert table with a huge cake and every type of treat you could imagine. Also, it wouldn’t be a Brazilian kid’s birthday party without lots of nannies and sure enough, they were in full-force! I think I was the ONLY mom there who did not also have a nanny, and many kids were just with their nannies. Anyway, it was a great party and very fun but also a funny reminder of the cultural differences. Here are a couple¬†pics from the day!

Colt was very hesitant about getting too close to the characters but he was definitely intrigued.

Colt was very hesitant about getting too close to the characters but he was definitely intrigued.

Every single adult in this photo is being paid to be there. 2 characters, 1 party leader and 7 nannies!

Every single adult in this photo is being paid to be there. 2 characters, 1 party leader and 7 nannies!

Kids being entertained by the musicians.

Kids being entertained by the musicians.

The birthday boy in his dad's arms with mom and little brother beside them. Behind the dessert table.

The birthday boy in his dad’s arms with mom and little brother beside them. Behind the dessert table.

So, one thing with which we have never really struggled with Colt (praise the Lord) is sleep. He is a great, easy sleeper, sleeping 8pm-8am at night and taking a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. He is always happy to go to the crib and go down for a nap or at night and will try to climb in on his own and then will wave you out of the room saying night-night,¬†bye-bye once he’s in. It is always easy to leave him with a sitter because his sleep is such a given and so predictable.
HOWEVER. We randomly went through a week-long struggle with sleep that was insane! Literally out of the blue one night, Colt really put up a fuss about going to bed. We were having some people over that night so Michael and I thought that it was unusual but that maybe he just wanted to be social. Since he is normally like clockwork, we¬†didn’t¬†really worry about it and let him stay up later but even after our friends left he still cried every time we put him in the crib¬†before we finally had to just let him cry it out. The next day he only napped for about 20 minutes and then woke up in hysterics. That night he started to visibly panic when it was time for bed and freaked out about going into the crib. It was so strange and we didn’t know where it came from or what to do. Long story short(er), we realized that he was suddenly afraid of being left alone. If we were sitting in the room beside him – not even touching him or talking – he would be fine, but if he saw that he was being left or found that he was alone he would totally freak out. This meant it was obviously much more difficult for him to fall asleep since we can’t just sit in there the whole time every time (and we didn’t want to start bad patterns) and it also meant that when he would wake up in the night or during a nap, instead of just rolling over and falling back asleep like he normally would, he would start screaming.
We were blessed that it only lasted for about 8 days or so, but during that time you don’t know if it’s going to be temporary or the start of a new thing so it totally had me freaked out. But, Michael and I wanted to be consistent so we came up with a strategy and stuck to it which included:¬†being very firm about his bedtime routine (not letting him ask for more books or delays), talking with him about how we were not abandoning him but just going to the other room so that he could rest, explaining that even when we are not there, God is always with him, praying with him before we put him down and once he was in the crib, then rubbing his back for a few minutes so that he would feel a calmness about being in there. However, we also decided together that once we left the room, we were not going back in until the morning, aka cry-it-out. This was BRUTAL. Especially since Michael left for a work-trip for the week about 2 days in so I would have to endure listening to that sweet boy cry all by myself – sometimes for more than an hour straight and then other times during the night. I literally wanted to throw myself out a window but honestly the crying got shorter every night and I think having a plan and sticking to it helped Colt get back on track much faster. This was about 3 weeks ago and I’m thankful to report that he is 100% back to his normal sleep-loving self and we are again free to just toss him in the crib and walk out of the room and we can be confident he’ll happily put himself to sleep within a few minutes.
ANYway, all¬†of that is a little back story to this photo I took of Colt’s monitor where, after crying for who knows how long, I watched him fall asleep standing up! Poor guy was clearly so exhausted but it was about 5 minutes before he laid himself down!

Passed out standing up. Poor guy. Don't worry, he laid down after about 5 minutes like this.

Passed out standing up. Poor guy. Don’t worry, he laid down after about 5 minutes like this.

Visiting the SC Zoo!

Like most kids, one of Colt’s favorite things are animals. Unfortunately, in our daily life his exposure is mostly limited to books and toys with the occasional dog spotting. Thankfully in the US it was so easy to visit the zoo! In Phoenix we opted for zoo-lights which was awesome but since it’s at night, there are fewer animals to be seen, so in SC we decided to do some daytime trips. Even better, my grandparents¬†have a membership to the zoo which comes with a certain number of passes so we were able to go for free! Yippee!

For our first trip to the zoo Michael was still in SC with us and my parents and grandparents came along. It was a chilly but pretty day and I think Colt was in a state of wonder the whole time.

Harper family.

Harper family.

Zaises with Colt.

Zaises with Colt.

Finchers with Colt.

Finchers with Colt.

Gigi and Colt checking out the penguins.

Gigi and Colt checking out the penguins.

Colt, Pasha and the wolf.

Colt, Pasha and the wolf.

Family photo in front of the lions.

Family photo in front of the lions.

Flamingos!

Flamingos!

Next up was the petting zoo.

Next up was the petting zoo.

No fear.

No fear.

Family.

Family.

That face. I just can't even.

That face. I just can’t even.

Finally, we ended the afternoon with a few rides around the carousel.

Finally, we ended the afternoon with a few rides around the carousel.

A couple weeks later, my grandparents took my mom, Colt and me back to the zoo for round 2!

Running free through the zoo.

Running free through the zoo.

Colt with his great grandparents in front of the elephants.

Colt with his great grandparents in front of the elephants.

Riding the elephant.

Riding the elephant.

Flamingos!

Flamingos!

Exploring all corners.

Exploring all corners.

Giraffes!

Giraffes!

Face-off.

Face-off.

Taking a ride around on the train.

Taking a ride around on the train.

Riding the tiger.

Riding the tiger.

Back at the petting zoo!

Back at the petting zoo!

Colt seriously could not get enough of it.

Colt seriously could not get enough of it.

Llamas!

Llamas!

My mom and Colt actually got sneezed on by one of the goats mid-feed. It reminded me of when Colt sneezes on me right when I give him a spoonful of food.

My mom and Colt actually got sneezed on by one of the goats mid-feed. It reminded me of when Colt sneezes on me right when I give him a spoonful of food.

My sweet mom actually made Colt a photo-book of his trips to the zoo that some friends are going to bring down for us later this month and I cannot wait to get it in his little hands so that he can continue to relive the fun!

January in South Carolina!

After a wonderful visit in Arizona, Michael, Colt and I flew to South Carolina to ring in the new year with the Zaises! We had a wonderful welcome dinner with my parents, grandparents and my aunt where we were immediately able to share the news of Baby #2 on the way.

Colt right at home in Columbia, SC!

Colt right at home in Columbia, SC!

After a couple of days in Columbia, my parents rented a condo on Folly Beach so that we could be closer to my brother’s family for a few days. Brad and Suzanne have a sweet 3 year old, Augusta Clare, and they were due with baby girl #2 on January 20. When we originally scheduled our trip, Colt and I planned to stay in Columbia longer than Michael was able to in hopes of being there when she was born. However, the baby¬†surprised all of us and came 5 weeks early on December 18 – the day we arrived in Phoenix! It was a bit of a shock to everyone but she was healthy and strong and after some time in the NICU, Brad and Suzanne¬†were able to bring her on home. Of course all we cared about was that she was doing OK but secretly Michael and I¬†were quite excited that we would definitely get to meet her and spend time with her.

We all drove to Charleston on New Years day and had a great few days in the area visiting with the Zaises and also enjoying the city. I had a hard time staying awake for, mmmm, any amount of time, so of course passed out on the drive. Normally I would never post this but with Colt snoozing right behind me, for some reason I kind of love it.

Michael snapped this little gem of Colt and I passed out in the car on the drive to Charleston.

Michael snapped this little gem of Colt and I passed out in the car on the drive to Charleston.

Colt and Augusta Clare were so funny and cute together. He basically followed her around everywhere and tried to copy whatever she was doing and she just bossed him around – much to his delight. It was adorable and made me seriously wish we were closer.

Colt and AC - such fast friends!!

Colt and AC – such fast friends!!

Colt loved Augusta Clare's horse.

Colt loved Augusta Clare’s whole play room – especially her horse.

Brad and sweet tiny May!

Brad and sweet tiny May!

One afternoon we got¬†my parents to babysit Colt for us while Michael and I went out in downtown Charleston. It’s a beautiful city and always fun, but was especially special to us as¬†it was the first time we had really been back downtown since our wedding! Of course we stopped in at the Charleston Place Hotel and Michael got an Old Fashioned at the Thoroughbred Bar.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Almost 5 years later!

Almost 5 years later!

That evening we enjoyed more time with the Zaises and got a few good family photos.

Augusta Clare LOVED Michael. So sweet.

Augusta Clare absolutely adored Michael and he adored her right back!

Full family picture! Love.

Full family picture! Love.

Harpers

Harpers!

Zaises!

Zaises!

Back in Columbia Colt continued to enjoy time with my parents and we continued to take advantage of their babysitting!

Playing with one of our old toys.

Playing with one of our old toys.

Date night out together.

Date night out together.

Happy boy!

Happy boy!

Michael had to head back to Brazil early January (after all, someone has to be working around here!) but Colt and I stayed through the end of the month (until January 24). Although we missed Michael, this was truly SUCH¬†a blessing as my first trimester exhaustion and sickness really kicked off around the time we landed in South Carolina. Therefore, while Michael was back in Brazil getting to focus on work, I was able to focus on rest and taking care of myself¬†while my mom focused on taking care of Colt! It was really a win-win-win as Colt is literally obsessed¬†with Gigi, my mom loved it and I could not have been more thankful for the luxury of being able to take naps and have someone cook for you every day. The life…

We also did lots of other fun things throughout our visit. One very special event was on January 10 when my grandparents celebrated their 60 year anniversary (just days after my parents celebrated their 35th!). Amazing, right?! It was a cold day so we first met them at the mall and played with Colt on the carousel and then headed out to dinner. It was such a beautiful cause for celebration and I am so thankful for the incredible testimony of their marriage and the example they have set for me.

Announcement in the paper with their wedding picture from 60 years ago!

Announcement in the paper with their wedding picture from 60 years ago!

At the mall with Papa, Nannie, and Aunt Sheryl.

Colt at the mall with Papa, Nannie, and Aunt Sheryl.

Gigi and Colt on the merry-go-round.

Gigi and Colt on the carousel.

Colt living it up on the Fun Bus.

Colt living it up on the Fun Bus.

That weekend, we were also super blessed by a visit from my dear friend Meredith! She drove from Chapel Hill to spend the night with us and it was so fun and refreshing to have time with her. Thank you so much for taking the time and making the trip to see us Mere! (Excited that next time we see each other it will be here in S√£o Paulo THIS MONTH!)

Colt adored Meredith too.

Colt adored Meredith too.

My mom and I made another trip to visit Brad, Suzanne and their girls and again, loved it.

Sleeping babies are the cutest babies.

Sleeping babies are the cutest babies.

Colt and Augusta Clare!

Colt and Augusta Clare!

Sitting on the stairs just being cute together.

Sitting on the stairs just being cute together.

Brad feeding little May.

Brad feeding little May.

Michael and I¬†got Augusta Clare a doll house for Christmas and Brad and Suzanne were great sports about it, even putting in the 3 hours of labor it took to put it together, but I’m pretty sure they kind of secretly hate us for giving them something so massive. Augusta Clare seems to like it though!

Augusta Clare and her doll house!

Augusta Clare and her doll house!

The rest of our time in Columbia was just spent enjoying family and little outings here and there…

Colt and his glove-balloon -shark.

Colt and his glove-balloon-shark.

Miraculously Colt became the BEST eater in South Carolina. Loved Gigi's cooking.

Miraculously Colt became the BEST eater in South Carolina. Loved Gigi’s cooking.

Fun in the tub.

Fun in the tub.

Poor Colt cried when Gigi and Pasha went out one night and he was stuck with just me.

Poor Colt was not happy when Gigi and Pasha went out and he was stuck with just me.

Reading with Papa.

Reading with Papa.

His favorite book, "Augusta Clare goes to the zoo with her great grandparents."

His favorite book, “Augusta Clare goes to the zoo with her great grandparents.”

Big bubble bath. Much more fun than the kitchen-sink baths we do at home.

Big bubble bath. Much more fun than the kitchen-sink baths we do at home.

Colt loved Gigi's fried rice. Thankfully this is one I can make too.

Colt loved Gigi’s fried rice. Thankfully this is one I can make too.

Flipping through pictures with Nannie and Papa.

Flipping through pictures with Nannie and Papa.

Colt was NOT excited to be dressed the same as his mom.

Colt was NOT excited to be dressed the same as his mom.

Outing at the children's' museum in Columbia. Colt loved shopping for groceries.

Outing at the children’s’ museum in Columbia. Colt loved shopping for groceries.

Big tractor!

Big tractor!

Blowing bubbles in the yard with Gigi.

Blowing bubbles in the yard with Gigi.

Very excited about the beautiful new sweater that Aunt Sheryl knit him.

Very excited about the beautiful new sweater that Aunt Sheryl knit him.

Snuggling with his big cousin Margaret!!

A little blurry but still sweet. Colt snuggling with his big cousin Margaret!!

Running around the yard with Papa.

Running around the yard with Papa.

While we were in Columbia we also took a couple trips to the zoo but I’m going to post about that separately as this has already gotten so long!