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!


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


Finn watching everything get prepped for work to begin!


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


Everything getting ripped out!


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!


Before 1


After 1


Before 2


After 2


Before 3


After 3


Before 4


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


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


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


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!


With the pretty mama-to-be!


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


All set up!


Meredith & her lovely mom!


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


Party fun.


Family heirlooms being passed along.


Wofford girls!

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


Pasha and Finn.


Acting silly.


Hanging out with their great grandparents, Nannie and Papa!


Heart eyes.


Park time!


Gigi and Finn.


Tummy time!


Fresh cut!


Scooter STYLE.


Just can’t get enough of this guy.


And this guy!!


Michael hunting with my dad. Better luck next time!

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.


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


Cousins on bikes! (And Finn watching.)


May and Finn. Just 8 months apart!


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


Love this sweet moment of Fincher with his namesake, Papa Fincher.


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!!


Ridin’ in style with the Long family.


IPTAY Cheers!


Tailgate meet up with Graham Saign.


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








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


Rushing the field after the win.




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.


Colt called that tree the Fireball!


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




1 Year, 2.5 months


Playing on our way home from school.


Sweet Spiderman!


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…


One step forward, two steps back.


Being silly in the kitchen.


Back yard leaf pile!


Fun for all!


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


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


Bath bros.






Quick visit from my in laws!




I’ll always take snuggles with this little one!


Watching them sleep never gets old.


Spiderman throwing leaves everywhere!


My Coltchie love.

Colt was so excited to have Dad go to the Thanksgiving performance at his school.


Can you find Colt?


Colt and Dad!

Fall Family Pics – Oct. 2016

Last fall, I decided to hire a photographer to get some family pictures. We hadn’t done pictures of our own family since Colt was 5 months old so I felt like it was about time! Our photographer was a girl who I used to go to church with in DC back in 2008/09 and she did a great job capturing some beautiful pictures despite the fact that Colt was essentially in melt-down mode the entire time. (He doesn’t nap anymore but somehow that day had fallen asleep and was NOT happy to be woken up for pictures and never really got himself together. Funny because I had totally prepared for Finn to be difficult but thought Colt would be a star and in fact it was the complete opposite.) At any rate, I highly recommend Jenny B Photography if you ever need photos! Here are some of my favs!doublenewView More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More: More:

October 2016: NoVa

October was wonderful – diving deeper into fall, enjoying our neighborhood, Michael’s marathon, visits from family and our first USA Halloween with the kids!

First, a couple of shots from a friend’s birthday party at the local fire station!


Here I attempted to take both kids on a fun day out to a local pumpkin patch / farm extravaganza. We were supposed to meet up with Colt’s class, however we were running a few minutes late and once we arrived and I saw how PACKED the place was, it was clear that we probably wouldn’t be connecting with anyone. We did have fun with the petting zoo and some other things but it was also a total mess for me trying to handle both kids in that environment. For example, when Colt needed to use the potty we had to stand in line for a porta-john. Then, he was totally weirded out by it (who can blame him?!) so I needed to be in there with him but he was freaked out so he wouldn’t go! All the while, Finn is in the stroller parked outside so I kept having to open the door to make sure he was OK. Or the slides — there were lots of great, big, fun slide options but Colt didn’t want to try them since I couldn’t go down with him as I needed to stay with Finn. Finally I convinced Colt to try one that seemed more mild so Finn and I went to the top with him and sent him off. About 1/4 of the way down he started spinning around and screaming. When he reached the bottom he was hysterically crying. Meanwhile I was struggling to run down this big hill with Finn in the stroller (and I about flipped him right out!) but since Colt was faster than we were, all of these people came up to him at the bottom of the slide like, “Where is your mom you poor thing!?” Anyway, just stuff like that… I actually think it would have been a total home run had there been two parents but we still made some funny memories.


Colt at the petting zoo at Cox Farms.


Coltchie Goat.




Picnic time!


King of the mountain!



Back at home and around the neighborhood.


Little Finn.


Stick-loving brothers.


My little raccoon!


Scooting through the park to school!


Mom creepily trying to sneak a pic of Colt in his classroom.


After school picnic in the park.


Feeding the squirrels.


Enjoying a quick visit from Uncle Joe.


Sidewalk chalk in the front yard as Superman, because, why not?


And my Aunt Sheryl visited!!


Story time with Aunt Sheryl.


After brunch!

As part of Michael’s birthday present I had gotten us tickets for the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. We hadn’t been to the Kennedy Center since we’d been back and we love the symphony! It knocked our socks off.




Outside at the Kennedy Center.

Also scheduled for that same weekend, Michael and I went to see Adele in concert which had been part of Michael’s birthday gift to me back in March! She was absolutely incredible!! It was awesome!


Adele. Unbelievable.

More pumpkin-patch fun at a church down the street!


So many pumpkins!


Finn is really a gourd man.


Pumpkin bros.


Followed by a trip to the playground!


Off on another adventure!


Long Branch Nature Center


Colt teaching Finn all about the dinosaurs.


Sweet yard bunny out the front door!


Family pic from a quick weekend away with friends! 


Colt always finding the biggest stick around.


Watching the trees begin to change.


Finding dandelions.


And blowing them for Finn.


Finn’s turn.




Sweet brothers.


Creative Colt.


Demonstrating “Pumpkin Pose” that he learned in his yoga class at school.


Bedroom playing.


The sheep says “baa!”


Cozy morning Fincher.

We were happy to have my parents come visit for a few days!


Off to a black-tie event. They always have their own things going on as well when they visit.


Basement creations.


My mom joined Colt at school for lunch. So cute!

My parents also gave Colt his Halloween costume. He was pretty excited to try it on!



And we carved pumpkins!


Getting out the seeds.


Colt got to draw the face on the pumpkin and Michael carved it exactly as he drew it.


End product. Colt thinks it’s awesome.


I was pretty impressed by Colt’s skeleton drawing at school.


Peeking in on bedtime poems with Dad.


October 30 Michael ran the Marine Corps Marathon!


Cheering on our hero!


Sweet Fincher face.


Snack bros.

Like I said before, it had been years since we celebrated Halloween in the US and we had never done it with kids, living in a neighborhood, etc. so we were pretty shocked by how much FUN it all was. Our neighborhood is super sweet, full of young families and kids. Many of the houses were fully decorated and a few were even passing out drinks for the parents. We tried explaining the whole “trick-or-treat” concept to Colt but the first few houses he kept just walking up saying, “Treat!” because he wanted to be sure he got a treat and not a trick. After a few houses though he got the hang of it and soon was excited to run up to front doors, ring the bell, say trick or treat and then thank you. And he was extra happy if he was allowed to choose two or three treats!


Halloween superhero bros! Ready to hit the streets!


Such a sweet Spiderman.


Bravely going up on his own!


Finn isn’t so sure about everything going on here…

The kids also loved handing out candy at our house. Only two costumes made Finn cry (ha!). Anyway, I’ve never thought of myself as much of a Halloween person so it was such a surprise to me how much fun it was to do with the kids — we are already looking forward to next year!

September 2016

After living abroad for 4 years, 2016 was the first fall season that I have experienced in a while and was certainly the first fall with kiddos, and something about it REALLY struck a chord with me. The changing of the leaves. The changing of the weather. The sudden appearance of school busses creating happy traffic throughout our neighborhood and the stream of kids who started walking by our house each day on their way to the middle school down the street. Something about it felt magical. It was also the first time I ever really taught Colt about seasons and, the biggest change that we experienced in the fall is Colt started “school.”

We had considered “school” in Brazil but at Colt’s young age we felt that it wasn’t necessary, especially since we had a wonderful apartment complex full of young kids. But, after moving to Virginia and being new to the area with fewer friends and a young baby bro whose schedule sometimes prevented us from doing quite as much as we liked, we thought that school would be a positive addition to Colt’s life. Furthermore, while Colt excels at “academic endeavors” and is sweet as can be, he is a little shy and seems the most nervous / sensitive around other kids. He came out of his shell a ton around his second birthday but still, we felt that he would grow a lot socially in a school environment. And, by God’s GRACE there is the sweetest little preschool just 3 blocks from our house. We walk, stroll, or, in Colt’s case, ride the scooter through a charming park and 10 minutes later we arrive.

Colt goes 3 mornings/week for about 3.5 hours/day. He has 2 teachers and there are 15 kids in his class, all of whom had to be 3 years old by September. This meant that Colt is on the younger end, having just turned 3 in July, but the class ages are pretty evenly spread with birthdays throughout the year.

For the first day of school, his teachers actually had parents stay with their kids. To prevent the room from being too chaotic, they split the class in half and just had us go for an hour each. The second day of school was all of the kids but it was a shorter day and this “soft-launch” into school was really helpful. As a parent I really enjoyed getting to stay a closer for the first day and getting to meet some other kids and parents in the class. It also helped the kids develop a higher comfort level with the classroom, teachers and other kids before having to take it on, solo. All that being said, it still felt like such a MOMENT to be starting school. It was the start of a new chapter that will only continue until he leaves our home. It’s weird. It’s great. But it’s heartbreaking too…

Colt’s first day with me (and Finn!) went great and the second day, he waltzed right in without even looking back. However, at pickup, Colt was crying and the teachers said that he had been upset for the past 30 minutes. Apparently during play time one of the kids had knocked into him (in what the teachers described as totally normal play – nothing malicious) and he had started to cry and never fully recovered. I was prepared for our “goodbye” to be difficult (which, as I said, it wasn’t!) but I was REALLY thrown by him crying at pickup. It made me question our decision to put him in school and made me want to be there beside him and protect him. But it also reinforced that one of the big reasons we wanted him to be in school in the first place was to grow socially, to gain confidence with other kids and to learn how to roll with things a little more. The following week (his next school day) the teachers reported that a similar incident had taken place where Colt cried a little but was able to recover more quickly and since then I think he has been totally tear-free at school!! Anyway, we have already seen him grow so much through his school experience AND we are constantly blown away by the adorable things that he is doing, learning, creating, etc. Between his precious classroom, wonderful teachers, sweet classmates, and the weekly science class, math class, art class, yoga, chapel, outdoor explorations and other fun celebrations that take place, there is always something fun going on. We love it and truly thank God for FLP!


First day of school pics!


Walking to school. We have the sweetest walk through the park across the street.


First day with half the kids + mommas.


Striped handprints.


Jumping right into the play dough station.

September 9th we were so happy to celebrate Michael’s 34th birthday!






Date night.

More fun from September:


Fun day at the Georgetown Waterfront!


Finn is interested in the paddle-boarders. 


Picnic & fun!


Finn, gaining balance and coordination.


No pants allowed. Also, all the heart eyes…




Stacking blocks.




Park playtime!


Cooking up something!


So fun having Tim & Cristina come visit! Dinner out in DC.

Also, very special for me in September is that my BESTIE from Brazil, Paige Hudson, was going to be in New York for a week. The Hudsons moved from Brazil to South Africa so Paige is normally on the other side of the planet. To have her just a couple of hours away was just too much so we really wanted to make something work. Enter my awesome father-in-law, Ollie!!


Papa to the rescue!

He came from Arizona to be with the kids while Michael was at work during the day. I was gone from a Monday afternoon – Wednesday night so he also took Colt to school, strolled Finn along for everything, did lunches, naps, diapers, ETC! He is extremely impressive and the best part is that the boys had a blast. Well, maybe the best best part is that I got to LEAVE and go to NEW YORK BY MYSELF!!!


On the train and soaking in my ALONE TIME.


Brazil Buddies! Brett, Paige, Joe, Jana & me!


Dinner at Brushstroke.


Hanging out at Paige’s sister, Hannah’s cool, cozy NYC apartment.


Walking! And kind of twinning.


Stopping by Joe’s apartment!


Train ride home…

Loved my time away but also LOVE coming home to these boys.


Successful alligator project.


Walking his other alligator down the sidewalk.


Love these boys.




A little boy in a cardigan is just too much.


Local library fun!