Finn: 21 month update

Finn! You’re 21 months old today Little Love!! IMG_3623Finn developments: What a fun and FUNNY little boy you are, Finn. I haven’t done an update on you since you turned 1 (9 months ago…eek!). We’ve been busy and so have you, Little One. Here are some things you’re been up to these days… IMG_3550

  • The first thing I have to say about you is that you’re hilarious. You crack me up all day every day with the funniest little things and the best part is that you KNOW you’re funny and you crack yourself up too! I asked your dad what is the one thing I should be sure to include in this update and he responded, “Finn has found his sense of humor.” And what a good one it is!IMG_3513
    • One silly example of you being funny is that you like to pretend that you can’t see. You will do this while you’re eating, walking around or even coloring. You’ll close your eyes and keep doing whatever you were doing and eventually crack up. (Our babysitter said, “I’m not sure if he does this very often but Finn kept pretending that he was blind and then laughing about it!” haha)
    • You also like to put puzzle pieces in the wrong places. Then you look up at me and I say, “No, Finn, that isn’t right!” and you just giggle!
    • You also like to pretend that you’re trying to say something that we can’t understand. You will say “Bah!” and I’ll say, “Bath?” You shake your head and say “Noooo. Bah!” I’ll ask, “Bug? Book? Button? Back? Banana?” etc. etc. and every time you will just giggle and repeat “Noooo. Bah!” I’m positive that this is all a hilarious joke to you.IMG_2251
  • You are pretty independent. You’ve just now started to acquiesce and hold my hand when we’re walking near the road but generally you prefer to do things on your own.
  • At home you will play independently a little but you also LOVE attention and will often shout “MAMA MAMA MAMA” to make sure I’m all-eyes on you when you’re doing something like running or jumping or falling on purpose or being funny.
  • You seem to have some type of a musical bend. You respond to music more strongly than your brother – as in, you dance like crazy with the most amazing hip shakes and you can catch a tune and sing it back really well. You are often singing (the tune at least) to the ABCs, “Are You Sleeping?”, and you love to sing “Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul” with me.
  • You like books but aren’t quite as much of a bookworm as Colt was. Your favorite books are lift-flap ones (Dear Zoo, Where’s Spot? and a couple of Elmo books we have). And like your brother did, you have “Moo, Baa, La La La” memorized and love to “read” it with me and fill in the blanks.
  • You really like trains these days and will often scoot down to the basement on your own, pull out the train bin, build out a track and connect some trains together. You call them “choo-choos” and are always so happy and proud to show off what you have built.
  • You love to jump! You can jump well in your crib or on the couch but lately you’re getting good at just jumping from the floor. And you like to go to the fireplace hearth to jump too.
  • You really like going to parks or playing in the yard but one of your favorite “activities” is visiting the local nature center. They have turtles, snakes, frogs, fish, some random toys and a great outdoor creek + trail. When we’re driving there, you start to get excited as soon as you begin to recognize the area and you start shouting, “Tuh-tle! Tuh-tle! Sssssssss!!” (For turtles and snakes, of course.) Then you are borderline combusting the whole time that we’re there, running from animal to animal. And last time, when we went with Colt, you were in heaven throwing rocks in the creek at the end. I swear, you must have stood in the same spot throwing rocks for 45 minutes.IMG_3562
  • I would describe you as pretty obedient and I think you’re getting better at this all the time. If you’re acting out or I need your attention, I always ask you to look at me or look at my eyes. In the past if you were misbehaving, you would absolutely REFUSE to look me in the eyes and would just cut your eyes to the side and give a little defiant side smile. (Making it impossible for me not to burst out laughing!) But the past couple months you’ve been better at giving me your attention and then becoming more obedient. Related but different: you follow instructions great!IMG_2270
  • You are talking quite a bit, although your enunciation leaves a little something to be desired. It’s funny because of course your dad, brother and I all understand you perfectly but when we’re with other people I find myself translating for you a lot. For your 18 month checkup I made a list of 70 words that you were saying then. Now there would be no way for me to try to count as your vocabulary grows each day. You’re speaking in “sentences” like “Moe hehe-le pees,” (“More cereal please.”) or “Bye bye, Mama,” or “Tee here!!” (“Treat here!! – while pointing to your tray.) But you sometimes also just huff out syllables instead of trying to say the real words. You do this a lot for “thank you” and instead say “hmm hmm” to the tune of “thank you” or will say “buhbuhbuh” for “banana bread.” You say “Tuh” for “Colt” and “puhpuh” for “purple” and for “paper.” For “sit” you say, “hit” and “juice, cheese, Gigi and Jesus” all sound pretty similar.IMG_3261
  • You basically know the colors yellow, blue and purple although we’re not 100%.
  • I have not been as dedicated to “teaching” you things like letters, colors, etc. as I was with Colt so the only letter of the alphabet which you know solidly is “O.” It’s easy for you to recognize and say so this one stuck easily. Now just 25 to go! Speaking of numbers, you can kind of count to 3 but that is probably being generous… (If I say “one,” you say “two,” and sometimes say three next.)
  • Your favorite thing to do is to play with your brother. You and Colt are officially each other’s best friends and have so much fun together. You guys totally get each other’s wacky, goofy, little boy sense of humor and are always laughing up a storm. You immediately ask for him whenever you wake up in the morning or from a nap.
    You guys love to have little races where Colt sweetly runs beside you. You dance together, put your dishes on your head and call them “hats,” you jump on the couch in the basement for days, take turns playing t-ball in the yard, go down slides at the park together, splash and pour water in the bath together… you just play great together! It has been such a blessing to have you two close enough in age to see this genuine friendship blossoming already.IMG_3326IMG_2867

Health: Praise God, you continue to be healthy and grow beautifully.
Clothing size: 2T.
Diaper size: 5
Shoe size: 5-6 (although your feet are so chubby it can be hard to stuff them in to certain types of shoes!)
Height/Weight: Your last appointment was a few months ago but at that time you registered in the 61% for weight and 81% for height. Could have had me fooled though, you’re such a little beefcake with the best tummy ever!
Teeth: You have all of your baby teeth with the exception of your two-year-molars (so 16 right now).
Sicknesses: You showed signs of a possible ear infection once, right around last Thanksgiving. We followed our doctor’s recommendation and gave you antibiotics. A couple days after we finished the antibiotics you broke out into a full body rash that took about a week to clear up. We’re not sure if you have an allergy to the penicillin (if so then it’s not a terribly strong reaction since it took so many days to appear) or if the rash was unrelated but so far that was your only incident with antibiotics. (Colt has yet to have them so not sure how he would react…)

Eating: You’re a good eater – very different style than Colt is/was. You basically like to feed yourself everything and are pretty coordinated with utensils. You are happy to bite into anything and like most things we offer. Green beans and broccoli are your favorite veggies, you like bananas, apples, strawberries, oranges, grapes, pasta, chicken, cheese, oatmeal, eggs, pizza, sweet potatoes, turkey, peas, raisins and one of your favorite foods is a bowl of cereal with milk (Colt still won’t eat cereal with milk on it!).
You love “treats” and get so excited whenever you hear that word (like, you start raising the roof, saying, “Woohoo! Treats!”).IMG_3272IMG_3093

Sleeping: You are an all-star sleeper and have been since you were a baby. We literally never have problems with you in this area. You go to bed between 7:30 and 8pm (closer to 7:30 if we’re going out somewhere but typically more like 8:00). We do the Tot-Clock with you and your clock changes to yellow at 8am and usually we don’t have to rush to get you. If you wake up before 8am then you normally just play around or sing in your crib until you notice the clock is yellow.
You nap every day in the afternoon. Tue-Thur we pick Colt up from preschool at 12:50pm so your typical nap doesn’t start until around 1:30pm. Your nap clock is set for 2.5 hours but 2 hrs 45 min or 3 hours is a more typical stretch for you. This means that it’s a challenge for us to be very adventurous in the afternoons but it’s nice for me to get some alone time with your big bro and I use this time to get some chores done, start dinner, etc.
Your only sleep deficiency is sleeping on the go. You do NOT fall asleep on airplanes (you don’t even get drowsy, you just get nuttier and nuttier!!). You will sleep in the car but not for too long so all of our long travels are a little interesting with you, Little Finn.
You’re also a little bit of a light sleeper. Not terrible and you put yourself back to sleep fine if you do get woken up but it makes me a little nervous for the day when we move you into Colt’s room. I think we are still about a year out from that but on our most recent visit to SC you and Colt shared a room and you both surprised me by doing great!IMG_3309

8:00 am Wake up, drink milk
8:45 am Breakfast (banana, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, strawberries, yogurt)
Morning Errands, adventures, parks or just playing with mom.
12:30 pm Lunch
1:30-4:00 pm Nap
4:15 pm Wake up, drink milk
4:30-6:15 pm Afternoon playing with Colt, neighborhood walks, etc.
6:30 pm Dinner
7:15 pm Bath with Colt. (Dad-duty)
7:45-8:00 pm Bedtime!

Mama: Finn, you are the sweetest treasure and such a blessing. You shine joy and light into our home and our family. It is SO much fun to be your mom and I enjoy you more each day. Thank you, Lord, for bringing this precious soul into my world. I couldn’t be happier.IMG_3315

(**For comparison: Colt at 20.5 months**)

April 2017 NoVa

During the month of April, when we weren’t in South Carolina, we were hanging out, enjoying the start of Spring in Arlington!


Our guest bed is actually a Murphy bed in our basement and Colt thinks it’s best for jumping.




April 17: Cheers to 7 years of marriage! HAPPY!! More fun every day.


Dandelions on the walk to school!


His favorite “flower.”


Park Finn.


Kid loves some corn on the cob. Getting after it like a boss!




Hanging out while Colt is in school.


Sweaty after walking home from school.


Doing his best Chris Farley.


I happen to think he is deadly handsome.


And adorable.


This guy too.


We love walking through our neighborhood.


Adventures at the playground across the street.


Colt just started Saturday morning soccer camp for the summer!


One of Colt’s first solar system drawings! He ran out of room so added the last couple in the corner. 




Matching in the backseat.


Hanging with our neighbors!


Park twins.


Hanging out on the back porch. 


Heart eyes.


Colt takes sticker-time very seriously.


Finn has a different approach.


I love this guy!


And this one!! 

Easter 2017 in SC!

Our family spent Easter (week) in South Carolina for the second year in a row. Michael had a bachelor party in Vegas the weekend prior to Easter


Michael with some of his best buddies in Vegas.

so we decided to fly my mom up to VA to drive to South Carolina with the boys and me.


This is what you want to see on a road trip.


This is what you do not want to see.


Burger King pit-stop.



While in South Carolina, we were out and about, playing at parks, visiting the zoo, spending time with family and getting ready to celebrate the risen Jesus!


Park date!


Slide bros.


Finn and Gigi feeding the giraffes at the zoo!


Gigi with her boys.




All ready for Church!


At the Eastminster Easter Egg hunt.


Pretty pumped up about his egg treasures.


Visiting my sweet grandparents.


Finn absolutely adored Papa!


We didn’t totally obey the signs…


The perfect student/teacher combo. They spent HOURS talking about astronomy (and other sciencey things). Pasha gave Colt an Astronomy magazine that he slept with for days.

**Related to the photo above – my dad successfully taught Colt all of the planets, in order, plus all of the dwarf planets in our solar system. He loves to talk about solar systems, galaxies and the universe. He’s constantly telling me new facts about black holes (“in black holes there isn’t time or space!”). He draws pictures, every day, of the planets, of black holes sucking things into themselves, of asteroids, of “The Big Red Spot” on Jupiter… And while we were in South Carolina, Colt swapped out his daily cartoon viewing (his current favorite right now being Wild Kratts) for my dad’s recorded series on “The Secrets of Outer Space” or something like that and another series on America’s National Parks. Anyway, I’m starting to think that Colt might be more like my dad than I was prepared for. 😉


Visiting my brother’s family in Charleston.


With the babies, May and Finn.


Cousins! May (2), Finn (1.5), Colt (3.5), and Augusta Clare (5.5).


Pure joy!


Nothing better than cruising around with his big cousin!


Back in Columbia, scooting around the neighborhood.


Dying Easter eggs! 


Zoo visit #2. Colt likes all of his sunglasses to give off the impression that he’s just had some type of major eye surgery.


Zoo train with Fincher.


Finn loved feeding the lamas.


Carousel kisses!


My little heartbreaker.


The tiger came out!


Park picnic after the zoo!

The Saturday before Easter, Michael flew down to join us in South Carolina. We headed straight for Chapin to visit my grandmother at the Lowman Home Rehab Center.


Group pic!


The boys with Nannie. 


Finn sporting his new John Deer hat from Papa.

That afternoon, my brother’s family joined us in Columbia and spent the night.


Scooting around the neighborhood. Everything about this picture is amazing.


Whole family – Easter Sunday.


Our little crew.


Our best attempts at family photos…

Following church, we headed to my great aunt & uncle’s house for a big family lunch and they are always so sweet to do an Easter egg hunt for the kids.


Colt and AC on a mission.


Showing off his stash.

After the family brunch, Michael and I loaded the kids in the car and drove the 10 hours back to Virginia. (Without kids it could be done in 7.5 or so but…) It’s our tradition to stop at Cracker Barrel for dinner. The kids love to run around and play with the toys while we wait for our table — this is our way of letting them play during the drive but not going to a McDonald’s Play Place.


Testing out the hats and toys.

As always, a wonderful visit in South Carolina. Thank you Gigi & Pasha! We are already plotting our return!

Paige’s Amazing Visit!

When Michael and I moved to Brazil, Trent and Paige Hudson quickly became our newest, best friends. We actually first “met” Trent and Paige via a video Skype chat a week or so before moving there. Michael’s brother, Joe, had randomly met them as they were each on unique trips in Buenos Aires. They were staying at the same “estancia” – Villa Maria – and they connected over dinner there. They realized that they were all living in São Paulo but didn’t reconnect again until Joe and Trent literally bumped into each other on the streets of São Paulo some months later. The Hudsons had Joe over for dinner and, when we decided to move to Brazil, Joe instantly knew that they would be perfect friends for us. Joe put us in touch, they set up a Skype date and in our first conversation the Hudsons offered to pick us up from the airport, have us live with them and use all of their stuff… We did not take them up on any of this but did come to learn that this was a VERY typical Hudson move. Underplaying it, really.

Our first actual meeting was a day or two after we arrived in São Paulo. The Hudsons picked us up from our temporary apartment in their heavy-duty bullet-proof Highlander. They drove us all over the city pointing out important streets and POIs, intimidating me with Paige’s impressive sense of direction and Portuguese pronunciation and terrifying us with tales of being robbed at gunpoint. Then they took us to their favorite restaurant for an amazing afternoon of caipirinhas and conversations, feijoada and fun, and our friendship was unshakable from that point forward.

Over the next 4 years, Paige and I made countless memories together including trips throughout Brazil, local adventures in São Paulo, the joys and struggles of living life abroad, becoming moms (within a month of each other!) and then doing it a second time, and so many other details that only happen when you live daily life alongside someone.

And then we all moved. And daily life was no longer side by side. One of the hardest parts of our move was not being in such close proximity to our friends (OK so this post is about Paige but really we had such an amazing core group of friends there).

In March, I celebrated my 30th birthday. Michael and I took an awesome trip to celebrate. It was perfect and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. But I wasn’t with friends.

Paige and her family now live in South Africa. She’s due with her 3rd baby in June. She decided to fly across the world FOR A WEEKEND (so that she wouldn’t burden her family by being away for too long) to celebrate me for my birthday. She brought with her suitcases bursting with THIRTY gifts from South Africa. Treasures that are now placed throughout my house for me to see every day (vases, art, dishes, textiles, books), or pieces that I wear regularly (purses, jewelry) and remember that special weekend and my incredible friend.

We didn’t do anything extravagant but we spent all weekend hanging out and it was so great. Colt was almost just as happy as me, counting down the days to Paige’s arrival, squealing for joy when he saw her and never leaving her side the whole time. And Finn, her godson, was equally enamored.

Words can’t do it justice but thank you Paige!!


Paige arrived Friday morning and was waiting for the boys when they woke up! They loved their South African cheetah and lion!


Our first stop was for welcome donuts!!




Afternoon walk through our neighborhood.


Afternoon opening 30 PRESENTS! Paper was flying. There was squealing. Here I’m already wearing 2 necklaces and a new purse!


A few more treasures.

That night we did dinner out in Arlington at one of our favorite spots, Kapnos Taverna.


Saturday morning milk and cartoons.


Brunch with a few of Paige’s other DC area friends.


More snuggles with the boys.

Afternoon/Evening in Georgetown!


Walking around Kalorama. Ivanka Trump’s house behind us. Obamas’ house was totally blocked off.


Cupcakes and Pedicures! The perfect combo.


Micheal met us out for dinner at The Sovereign.

Sunday we were thrilled to bring Paige to our church, Restoration.


Sunday afternoon walking around Old Town, Alexandria. (Funny note on this photo: We have never had a double stroller. We randomly grabbed this one from the side of the road – don’t judge – used it this one time then put it right back on the road a few days later and someone else took it. We are just not double stroller people…)


Park on the water in Old Town.


Such a scenic place to play!

We met up with our good friends, the Millars, for pizza!


Colt and his buddy Jack at dinner.


Monday morning snuggles and Snap Chat.


One more trip to Sugar Shack for donuts.


Paige helping Colt.


A ramen spot for lunch.


Colt trying his hand at chopsticks.


The master!

When Paige left I felt so filled up, refreshed and energized by her visit and yet also felt a huge hole in my heart and life. What an incredible gesture of friendship and what a wonderful time we had together. I love you, Paige!

30th Birthday Trip to NoLa!

As my 30th birthday got closer, I started thinking back on the past decade. I actually turned 20 while I was in LA competing for Miss USA. All of the contestants were in LA for about 2 weeks leading up to the competition and my birthday fell on one of those days. (Side note: During those two weeks I also met our now President Trump… Very briefly but all of us had to meet him.)

But thinking through the whole decade:
20: Competed for Miss USA. Graduated from Wofford.
21: Moved to Washington DC. Started working at the McCain Campaign. Met Michael. Started dating.
22: Worked at DAC. Got engaged.
23: Got married. Moved to San Francisco. Worked at FM.
24: Finished time in San Francisco. Moved to São Paulo.
25: Worked at WINGS. Got pregnant with Colt.
26: Had Colt. Stopped working outside the home.
27: Got pregnant with Finn.
28: Had Finn. Moved back to the US. Bought a house!
29: Our first year in the US. Michael worked at Jones Day DC then started for the DOJ.
30: Just getting started…!

It’s been a busy decade full of love, learning, adventures, babies, working, travels and moves. The greatest blessing has been marrying Michael and being beside him on this journey so I was thrilled to get a weekend away with him, celebrating together.

My birthday is March 12 so that weekend, Michael and I headed off to New Orleans. Michael had been to New Orleans once (in college…for Mardi Gras…so…totally different experience) and I had never been at all. A few years ago we watched the Top Chef season that was filmed in New Orleans and that peaked my interest so it was on my list. And from Virginia it was accessible for a weekend trip. My parents drove up to babysit the kids while we were away so Colt and Finn felt like they received a huge present as well. 🙂

On our flight to New Orleans, someone sitting beside us said that, “If Las Vegas and Charleston had a baby, it would be New Orleans.” I found this to be a great summary. The city has lots of charm, character and a thriving food scene but at the same time it has a healthy amount of grit, grime and all the bachelor/bachelorette parties your heart could ever hope for. I swear that I saw no fewer than 100 girls walking the streets in cutoff jeans, halter tops, veils and sashes. And beads.

At any rate, it was the perfect place to ring in 30. The food (Commanders Palace, Mother’s, ALL THE BEIGNETS!!) and the music were the highlights for me. And did I mention a weekend away with just my husband? Yes, that too. We had a blast.


Friday evening in NoLa.


Intro drinks at the very interesting, very cool Carousel Bar.


There is definitely a charm to New Orleans.


But also…hurricanes at Pat O’ Briens, dueling piano bar!


Bourbon St.


After dinner drinks and music at The Maison.


Nursing slight headaches via Saturday brunch at Mother’s. The perfect cure.


Saturday touring.




Art. Trees. Beads.

Saturday night we did a birthday dinner at Commander’s Palace. Cannot say enough about how great everything was! The turtle soup and strawberry shortcake were my very favs.


Birthday dinner!


So great!


Birthday beignets at Café Du Monde whilst being serenaded by a very talented street saxophone player. Also, beignets are my new favorite food.


My birthday gift — this NoLa painting that I fell in love with at the outdoor art fair. Looks awesome in our room now.


We did a walking tour through the garden district and stopped to admire the Manning household.


Shopping and drinks before heading back to VA!

Thank you to my parents for watching the kids and to Michael for planning the perfect weekend to celebrate 30. So happy to be doing it with you by my side.

March 2017 NoVa

March held a couple of special occasions which will get their own posts (my birthday trip to New Orleans and Paige’s visit from South Africa!) but before those, here is a look at our everyday fun!


Colt showing off his muscles during dinner.


Finn showing off his new (not so great) haircut (buzzcut) given by his mom. Yikes.


“We’re on a boat! There’s a big storm!”

I’ve come to realize that life is hard and there are a lot of things to be truly sad about. But Jesus came into this world and has given us who follow Him hope, joy and full life through all circumstances. In this spirit, I’ve decided to start CELEBRATING the little things more, and holidays are a perfect way to do that.

To be honest, I totally forgot that it was St. Patrick’s Day until Michael pinched me on his way out the door that morning but once I realized, I decided to have fun with it. I hadn’t bought anything for the kids (nor do I think it necessary or even necessarily beneficial) but I greeted them with a big, happy, excited “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!” when they woke up and had green milk ready and waiting.


Kicking off St. Patrick’s Day!

Later that afternoon, one of Colt’s best friends from school came over with his mom and little brother to play, color shamrocks and make green rice crispy treats! It was super fun but NOTE: when multiple little hands are helping with EVERY STEP of the food coloring – marshmallow melting – rice crispy stirring process, the rice crispy treats end up being hard as a rock at the end. But no matter. 🙂  It was fun.


We brought the play table into the kitchen for a little party!

That afternoon Colt and Finn had a very green lunch.


Green bean starter.


And green pasta!


Finn is a big St. Paddy’s Day fan.

And when Dad got home that night, it was only appropriate that we kicked off the evening with green beer!



We didn’t do anything elaborate but we made it fun and talked about the day’s special details all day, and that night Colt was proclaiming that it had been the “best day ever!”

That night I snuck this picture via our monitor of Michael tucking Colt in bed (although admittedly it looks more like Colt is tucking Michael in here). If work allows, Michael tries to get home for dinner and if not dinner then he strives to make it home in time to do the boy’s bath-time and bedtime routine. They so look forward to his arrival each night and I know they cherish their time with their dad. We’re so blessed to have him.


Who is tucking-in who?


Are you kidding me? He’s so cute!


Occasionally we go for donuts in the morning. 🙂  Colt never objects.


Meeting up with our buddies Will & Luke again!


Will and Colt being boys. 

In March, work took Michael to Charleston for a couple of nights.


Charleston is so beautiful!

While he was in town, he paid homage to our wedding memories by re-running the “Run with the Groom” event that he did the Friday morning of our wedding weekend. He originally mapped it out with 11 points of interest so we dug back through our old emails and found the route.


Stops 1-5




And of course, topped it off with an Old Fashioned from the Thoroughbred Bar at the Charleston Place Hotel.

Meanwhile, back at the home front…


Finn was being equally sophisticated. 


We LOVE going on walks down our street.


Basement twins.


In flight!


More walks through our neighborhood!

We also did something BIG this year. We canceled our lawn service, bought a lawn mower, and mowed our lawn for the first time ever! We happened to do it on a Friday night after the kids were down in bed and some of our neighbor friends came over, we opened up some drinks and had a little lawn-mowing party. We were pretty proud of ourselves…


Manual lawn mower. Gas powered was too intimidating this early in our lawn game.

Colt’s preschool also throws their Spring Fair in March so we had fun playing with Colt’s schoolmates and getting in on a little face-paint action.


Harper boys coordinating in spring-check.


Michael and Finn.


Pretty impressive face-paint! “ROAR!”

Both of my first-cousins currently live in Alexandria so we were lucky enough to pin them both down one afternoon and have them and their families over for a bit.


Colt adores his cousin Delaney.


Not an amazing picture but shows the rest of the group. 🙂 


More basement flying.




Park brothers!


My little grocery store buddy.

I love that Finn is getting old enough now to be able to do real activities and adventures. I recently took him to our local Nature Center to see snakes, turtles, fish and frogs and I thought he might spontaneously combust with excitement. He absolutely loved it.