Happy Birthday Colt! 4 Years.

Colt Developments: Colt, you are SO sweet, SO cute and you amaze your dad and me each day. It blows my mind that another year has already passed.FullSizeRender

You’ve grown so much this year. Probably the biggest change was that last September, you started going to preschool. You did 3-morning/3’s so on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday you were at school from 9:15-12:50. Although it took a little adjusting (probably for me more than anyone!), I can count on 1 hand the number of times your teachers said that any tears were shed. And a couple of those times were from falling down while climbing a tree which I count as a win anyway! I loved watching you grow in confidence as you built friendships with other sweet kids and grow in independence as you realized that you can have fun and learn apart from your family. img_7751

Your favorite thing to do right now is to color. You want a plain white piece of paper and markers, and you can sit at a table and color for hours each day. It’s a great outlet for your creativity and a way to express things that you’re excited about or learning about at the moment. You will draw everything from the solar system to donuts and cakes to the backyard to the park we just visited to a spider in a web after watching a TV show about spiders to our family at a beach to Noah’s Arc. It is so much fun to get to know you better through this expression. You also use your art as a way to show others that you care for them. Just a minute ago you led me upstairs to my room where you had just taped a picture on the wall for me as a “surprise” which had “a pattern of rainbows and hearts and a pony.” Also, the whole picture is drawn on one side of the paper but the pony has a tail on the back! Ha! I love how your sweet mind works. You love drawing pictures for other people, using their favorite colors and including things they love. And you’ve started folding paper to make “books” that you color and were very excited when I showed you that we can staple paper together to make bigger books! You will draw different story-lines — a cheetah chasing a zebra then catching the zebra, etc.FullSizeRender

Your favorite topic right now is outer space. You say you want to be an astronaut and your favorite cartoon is Ready Jet Go but you’re just as happy to watch Cosmos on the Discovery Channel or something if it’s about outer space. When you are around my dad, the two of you sit cuddled up for hours reading through his astronomy magazines, your astronomy books, watching videos and talking about it all. You color the planets, you make the solar system out of play-doh, and the one thing you asked for as a birthday gift was a puzzle of outer space. You wanted it to have the whole universe but we opted for just the solar system. I learn new things from you all the time. What are the dwarf planets? How many moons does Jupiter have? Which planets are terrestrial and which are the gas giants? What are Saturns rings and what is the Big Red Spot on Jupiter? IMG_4249

Since we were heading out to Colorado the day after your 4th birthday, we decided to move the party to August and combine it with Finn’s upcoming 2nd birthday. But, for your actual birthday we went to the Air & Space museum and all of your gifts were outer space themed. You are so sweet and could not have been happier. FullSizeRender (2)FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender (3)

Beyond outer space, you love to learn. You got really interested in animal speeds and constantly asked us how fast different animals can run. We finally made a chart of some animals and their speeds for you to reference on your own and it was also a good reading tool. If you asked us how fast a tiger could run I’d send you to your chart and you could figure out which was “Tiger” etc.

You love to learn about all sorts of topics though. You love maps and geography and love looking at the radar maps via weather.com on my phone. (No, seriously.) If I start talking to you about another culture or about how babies start out really tiny or about how a flower grows, you get so drawn in and will always say, “Can you please tell me more about that.”

For your age, I think you’re really good at reading. You can sound out most simple, 3-letter words (can, bug, hit, sad, pen, hop, etc.). We will sit down with “Green Eggs and Ham” and the combination of your reading, recognizing the letters and words plus your familiarity with the book allows you to basically read it. You take much more time though, and have to figure out each word, so by about page 20 you get tired and ask me to take over. Anytime we’re reading though I try to underline or point out several words that you have to read so that we can do it together.

Spelling is similar but needs a little more assistance. If I ask you to spell the word, “hop” I have to say the word, get you to say it, then help you isolate the individual sounds (especially middle sounds or vowels).

You write a little but have not taken an interest in learning how to properly form letters. You might end up with a letter that looks like an “A” but you probably wrote it going right-to-left or something. Anytime a workbook has space to practice proper handwriting, you are open to tracing and copying letters but don’t like having to go about it the correct way. On the one hand I don’t want you to be learning incorrectly or picking up bad habits but on the other hand…you’re 4 so I’m not pushing “proper handwriting” on you. IMG_3450

You love to ride your scooter and are really good. You wiz down hills at top speed and wave your legs around just showing off. You’re also a very fast runner. You claim that you can run 107 miles/per/hour and while I’m not quite buying that, you can speed. You and Finn will race over and over across our backyard and I love watching you two. You have a good kick for soccer but don’t like any sort of physical confrontation with other kids so that works against you. You have a great swing for baseball and continue to bat lefty and you love to hit the ball then run the bases. (Somehow all of your hits are home runs…) IMG_4123

**OK – I just asked you what you’d like to do most-least of these 4 different scenarios and here is what you chose:
1) Sit in a class and learn from a teacher all about outer space. (I literally said this word-for-word in a monotone voice and it still elicited a huge excited reaction from you…)
2) Go to art class and learn how to draw animals.
3) Go to baseball class and practice hitting and running the bases.
4) Go to music class and try playing different instruments like drums, piano or guitar.

Are these answers typical?? I don’t necessarily think so but I adore you exactly as you are. And this is where we are extra lucky to have your brother Finn. He helps to keep our days a little more interesting and active. Not because Finn is a star athlete or anything (actually he has yet to really show us much coordination, ha) but he just plays with you so differently than I do each day. You two mix it up a lot more. You wrestle and chase and jump and throw water and LAUGH LAUGH LAUGH. You are best best friends. IMG_4561

Your humor is FULL-ON little-boy humor. Every time we are going somewhere or having company over we remind you that we don’t make potty/stinky/etc. jokes with other people. You and Finn though will just laugh about “stinky poopoo” for days. img_3552

Otherwise you love going to parks, playing outside, swimming, playing with friends, going on adventures, building things with blocks, tiles or legos. You and your dad have a sweet thing where you make up stories for each other. You will pick 3 things (i.e. a rocket ship, a pool and a zebra) and he will make up a story for you using all 3. And then you always like to have him choose 3 things and you tell a story back to him. Your stories are SO cute and funny and clever. Love your little mind, Colt! IMG_2570

Anytime that you can see rainbows – even just the light streaming in our house through a window that creates a “rainbow” on the floor – you exclaim that “God and Jesus are here!” You are sweet sweet sweet, kind, compassionate and really well behaved / obedient. You’re still a young boy so of course you’re not perfect but I would definitely say you’re a rule-follower. And you do sweet things every day that just melt my heart. You love snuggles, hugs and kisses. If Mom and Dad are sleeping in on a weekend and are still in bed when your clock turns yellow (8am) then you’ll come climb in our bed and rub our backs and sing us songs. Yes, really. You are a humbling example of grace and forgiveness too. You have taught me so much about keeping no record of wrongs. Colt, I am so thankful for you, my angel. IMG_3304

Health: Praise the Lord you continue to be perfectly healthy – still no sicknesses!
You’re around 36-37 lbs, just over 41″ tall and you’re just moving into 4T clothes, 5T PJs.
You wear pull-ups at night and although I haven’t even considered trying to train you for nights, about 30% of the time you will wake up dry in the morning anyway.
You have beautiful teeth and the most handsome, big brown eyes I have ever seen. IMG_3264

Eating: Family dinners was the best thing that ever happened to your eating habits. When we lived in Brazil, your dad was rarely able to make it home by your dinner time, so I would feed you your dinner then make an adult dinner for us to have after you went to bed. Occasionally there was overlap in what we ate but I largely made you “kid-food” that would be healthy but still easy enough to give you. Last summer your dad’s schedule changed and Finn was also a part of our dinner-time so we switched gears to family dinners where we all eat the same thing. If we are having something you don’t like (sweet potatoes, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, asparagus) I’ll make sure that you have a substitute option but you still try a bite or 2 of everything. This has really changed how you view food. You aren’t immediately as scared off by something that looks “weird” because you eat “weird grownup” food every day. Your favorite things are still typical of a 4yo but I have no complaints about how you eat.IMG_3585IMG_3796

Mama: My treasure, Colt. You have my whole heart. Every day I look at your sweet face and am in awe that you are real and that you are mine. I absolutely treasure your heart and your presence and your being. Thank you for the kindness that you extend to your family every day, thank you for the laughter you bring, thank you for the fun and joy and light that you are. We are so blessed by you. IMG_3144

As I watch your heart and mind get captivated by different things (from kicking balls to the story of the 3 little pigs to animal speeds to collecting sticks to now art and outer space), I pray that your heart and mind will ultimately be captivated by God and the greatest love story and rescue story of Jesus Christ. I pray that God will open your eyes to see what is most real. To see that the greatest adventure you can experience in this life is to walk into the call that He has on your life. That the greatest challenges you can encounter come in efforts to walk faithfully beside Him. That a life lived in relationship with God, bought by the sacrifice of Jesus and through the gift of the Spirit, is not boring or dull. No! It is where the fullest measure of joy and adventure and TRUTH lie waiting. It is wild and exciting and REAL. I pray you will see this real-ness in our lives, and that you will know how to sift out the fake from the real. Everything else is either a dim light or worse, a sham and a distortion. Seek truth, my love. This is my deepest hope for you Culhane. I love you. July4

Summer 2017 Visit to SC!

Like many parents and stay-at-home moms, I was both eager for this year’s summer break and also kind of dreading it. Last summer was my first summer in the US and my first summer with two kids. We were still new to Virginia and didn’t know many people. Michael was traveling a lot for work. Finn was napping twice a day. I was nursing him and feeding him solids. Colt was turning 3. It was hot. It was hard. Each day seemed like the one before it. I couldn’t figure out what to DO. I kept asking other moms, “What do you DO every day?” A lot of it was just me taking time to adjust to our new life here, getting to know people, getting settled in our house and neighborhood, caring for two young kids, etc. Things changed dramatically when Colt started school for the first time in September. It was only 3 mornings / week so not a ton of time per se, but it provided us with a structure, a rhythm and it expanded our community.

When springtime rolled around and we started thinking about this upcoming summer, I remembered the lessons from the previous year’s struggles and knew we needed a better plan. As we looked at our calendars we started planning visits to family, classes, activities, etc. Most camps and classes for kids here are kind of expensive and having two young kids – one of whom still naps every afternoon – makes it a little trickier too. But, when Colt’s preschool sent out the notice about their church running a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program, 1 week, every morning Mon-Fri for $25, I knew we were on to something! I mean, they’re singing songs, doing crafts, and learning about God with other young friends, for the steal of the century! I immediately signed him up and then started searching for other VBS camps when Michael had the brilliant idea of looking into my parents’ church in South Carolina. They go to a great church in Columbia – Eastminster Presbyterian – and sure enough they had a VBS running the last week of June (with a different curriculum than what Colt’s VBS in Arlington will be). The timing worked great for us so we signed him up.

We flew my mom up the Saturday prior (just in time to babysit for us as we went to see The Sound of Music!) and that Sunday, after church, Gigi and I loaded the boys and did the drive together.


We start the drive with lunch followed by naps.


Finn always wakes up after 1 hour on the dot.


And eventually Colt follows.


And I get moved to the backseat.


But I don’t hate hanging with these two.

On Colt’s first day of VBS, we arrived at the church and found his group – the Purple Knights! His little class was all rising 4K and he is on the younger end, and since it’s not our home-church, the place and people were all unfamiliar to him. I was nervous about how it would go but I was SO proud of how well Colt did. There were a few tears on the second day’s drop-off but he pushed through and had a great time. And I think things like that are such good confidence builders, where kids learn that they can do it, they can have fun, they can make new friends, etc. all on their own (in a safe, wonderful environment of course). I was really proud of him.


First day of VBS wearing the new, perfectly fitted T-shirt.

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Colt with his fellow Purple Knights.

And when Colt wasn’t at VBS, we were having other fun adventures in Columbia.


“This is Noah’s arc. It landed on the mountain top and the water is already dried up and the animals are leaving the boat.”


Ready for pool-time!


Gigi introduced Colt to milkshakes…

We spent over 3 hours one afternoon at the Ft. Jackson water park. It is AMAZING and we can’t wait to go back.


Getting our toes wet.


Colt getting brave, running in and out of the mushroom.


The Gigers.


I’m obsessed with this picture of Finn. He is hilarious. #shades #tummy


Our third time around the lazy river.


More splash areas.






Just can’t beat it!


Playing in the shallow end.


My boys!

More fun around Columbia:


Finn driving the cart at the Home Depot. He’s the man.


Heathwood Park had their sprayers turned on!


Mud pies.


Harper bros.


Obsessed with this face.


A beach. Water with a boat, fish, bubbles and a bridge. Sand and a starfish. Grass and trees. Sun in the sky.


After the VBS closing program. Finn looks so big to me here!

Swimming, playing and dinner at our cousins’ house, the Longs!


Jack on swing duty.


Colt loved the diving board!

I took advantage of having my mom available to go with me to take the boys for haircuts. I was fully prepared for Finn to melt down like last time but it was a kid salon so they had plenty of toys and ultimately the combo of the lollipop + Gigi holding Mickey Mouse on the Kindle was the winning solution.


A much calmer haircut experience.


End product.


Colt got his part buzzed in! He’s very cool.

The grand finale to our time in South Carolina was a day spent at my grandparents’ house on Lake Murray with my parents, my aunt and my brother’s family. My grandparents moved to the lake when I was 6 and, growing up, my brother and I spent all of our summers here so it is the home and place that has been most consistent in my life. Very special place + very special people = great times had by all! Thank you Nannie and Papa!


Boys hunting for turtles upon arrival.


Colt & Dad!


Finn napping while we’re all playing!


May, Augusta Clare and Brad heading out!


Michael stole the Zaises new puppy!


Jumping off the same little trampoline that we used there as kids!


Augusta Clare!






Michael looks a little scared.


Very subtle Papa!


Hammock time! Coordinating outfits compliments of my mom.


They’re so cute.




Out for a boat ride!


Colt at the wheel!


Finn, very relaxed.


AC driving!

What a great week we had!


June 2017 NoVa (+ NY)

As I look through our photos from June, the thing that stands out to me most is the precious friendship that Colt and Finn are building. Michael and I have absolutely loved having two boys, 25 months apart. We have enjoyed it because it is so much fun for us but we also thrill at watching the two of them laugh, talk, sing, squeal, tickle, wrestle, copycat, jump, learn, build, splash, run, chase, race, scoot, kick and PLAY together too. Of course there are still battles and tears, but those are far outweighed by the joy and the fun. When Finn wakes up in the morning, the first thing he does is ask for Colt. He LOVES to copy Colt and is always trying to be part of the action. Colt is so kind to Finn and patient with him. Colt helps him, always tries to explain things to him and teach him and generally loves playing with him. When Finn gets upset, Colt comes to comfort him. Their personalities are such a great balance for each other and I pray that their friendship will only grow over the years.


Park Finn!


Snuggled up in Colt’s bed!


And pretending to sleep.

The first weekend of June, we took a quick trip to New York to see some of our friends from Brazil. One family was flying through New York on their way home from a trip to Europe and they stayed the weekend. Two couples live in New York already and we drove up for it. All 4 families (8 adults, 7 kids!) stayed together at one of the couple’s houses on Long Island and it was an absolute blast!


Exactly the type of scene we like to have on our road-trips.


Playtime with Luke & Campbell!




Backyard fun for the boys! 


Campbell joins the boys.


These two instantly picked right back up where they left off in Brazil.


Strolled to this beautiful spot!


And bonus – Uncle Joe came by to visit for the afternoon too!


Colt and his starfish find!


Uncle Joe with his nephews.


Back at the house, Colt and Campbell in the bounce-house!


Relaxing together.


Story time with Jeff! The only little one missing is Addy!

I am sad that I basically have no pictures of the adults from the weekend but I think we were too busy just enjoying the treat of being together again. Very excited for our full Brazil reunion planned for this fall!

Back in VA…


Finn showing off his musical talents at the Nature Center playroom.


Backyard besties. 


Colt showing off his life-sized self-portrait from school. 


Practicing hitting without the tee.

My parents came to town for some business which meant we got a visit from Gigi and Pasha!


Finn and Gigi!


Colt and Pasha immediately dive right into astronomy.


Colt showing off for Gigi.


When Gigi is around, Finn is stuck on her like GLUE.


Gigi with her boys!


Swing bros!


Sprinkler Colt!

Dinner at my cousin’s house and Colt had a blast with his kids and their trampoline!


Delaney and Colt on the trampoline.




Enjoying dessert!

Climbing, throwing rocks, exploring, splashing… Long Branch Nature Center creek.


Snack time in the creek.


Love this picture of Colt and Gigi.

A few days after my parents left, we were lucky enough to get a quick visit from Michael’s sister, Lise and brother Joe! Lise was first to arrive and the boys were so happy to see her!


Aunt Lise doing milk and cartoons with the boys!

Lise arrived the morning of Colt’s last day of school.


Colt’s last day as a Caterpillar. 😦 

It was fun to have Lise there to see their end-of-year performance and go to Colt’s class party too.


Colt with the two awesome Caterpillar teachers!


Aunt Lise with the boys.


Back home, Colt feeding Finn…


And Uncle Joe is here! Morning coffee, milk and cartoons. 


Awesome outerspace PJs from Aunt Lise. 


Park day!


Sidewalk chalk brought out Aunt Lise’s amazing cactus drawing skills!

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Joey & Finn.


Group pic from the weekend!


Backyard pool fun!


Drippy Colt.


Picnic with their girlfriend Lily. 


Colt and Finn having fun in the teepee.


Lights off. Flashlight on.


Telling scary stories?


Sweet brothers. 


Banana bros!


Colt and I made a paper chain for summer and strung it in his room. 


Two little monkeys jumping in the crib.


Michael and Kenny playing tennis across the street one evening


Finn loves sparkling water.


Chalk bros.


“A roadrunner running across the desert with ‘cactuses’.”

Special date-night out — dinner at Kingbird at the Watergate and The Sound of Music at the Kennedy Center! LOVED The Sound of Music!!! So good!


After dinner on our way to the show.


Kennedy Center. 


May 2017 NoVa

For our fam, the month of May was largely consumed by working on our lawns but I’m saving all of that for another post. When we weren’t working outside, here is the everyday fun we got into. 🙂


Dirt-ball Finn! 


This was Colt’s first full solar-system picture. He drew it and marked the letters totally by himself! When he showed it to me I was so surprised and impressed. He has since gotten totally obsessed with outer space and draws the solar system, galaxies, etc. all the time but this was the first one so even though it’s a little funny and on the back of another picture, I adore it.






Cracking himself up.


Boys throwing rocks into a creek. They could seriously do it all. day. long.


Colt gets REALLY relaxed during his haircuts and typically falls asleep….


But they still manage to do a great job! What a cutie!


I love a fresh haircut!


There are no photos of Finn getting his first haircut because he was screaming the entire time and we were desperately trying to hold him still but I think the end result was an improvement. His hair just grows a little funny. 


Staying a little late after school to play.


Mother’s Day with my little treasures. 


Every day feels like an adventure with these two.


Quincy Park with friends!


Backseat bros.


Off to church!


Heart. Eyes. 


Risky Finn.


Always up to something silly.


Colt loves his school friends! Walking in with Tara! 




You know you went to a Campus Outreach Beach Project when your 3yo brings you this picture and tells you about the cross of Jesus “bridging the gap.”  #BridgeDiagram


These 2 are absolute BEST. FRIENDS.


Rocky Run with Will! Will showed Colt how to climb to the top – no easy task!


The climb was a little tricky for Finn-man so he opted for snuggles and banana bread instead.


Park boys!




Colt at the top looking out!


Michael ran home and met us at the park!


Then… all the boys making pancakes for dinner!


Colt played “school” where he taught all of his “students” how to draw “the earth and the sun and outer space.” Also two of his favorite things in the background – the globe and the chart of “fast animals” and their speeds. Colt is a little bit of a nerd.


Having a blast together!


Some days, Colt opts to run to school. Granted, it’s only half a mile but he can jog the whole thing!