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

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

Schedule:
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**)

January 2016 Weekend Trips!

We were among the last of our São Paulo crew to make the move back from Brazil. This certainly made it much easier to move, as what we most loved about our time there no longer existed. When our group left Brazil we spread out far and wide. Portland, Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, New York, DC, Philly, even Singapore and Johannesburg! It’s fun to have friends in so many cities but we also miss each other a lot so we try to get together whenever possible. Our first big reunion was a girls’ weekend in January. Suzanna Jones had just had her sweet baby girl so those of us who could, hopped on a plane to Denver to get together and see her little one. All of us who came had kids as well, but we did our best to leave them with husbands or family so that we could just enjoy each other, although Paige & I did bring our babies with us since they were still pretty young and were nursing so regularly but I was very thankful that my mom was able to watch Colt for me.

We don’t have too many pictures from the weekend 1) because we didn’t do a ton of photo-worthy things! and 2) we were too focused on long conversations and snuggling babies to remember to pull out our cameras. But at any rate, here is what I have!

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Paige with Coralie, Jana (sorry girl!), Finn in my lap, Brett, April, Suzanna & Addy Jayne!

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Breakfast table convos.

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April & Finn.

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Brett & Addy Jayne.

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Jana & Amy!

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Suzanna had these sweet bracelets made for us! São Paulo love.

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Cozy coffee & convos.

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Adventuring out into Denver.

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My traveling companion.

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Coralie showing off her moves.

The pictures obviously don’t do the weekend justice but it was SO good to get together with these special girlfriends to connect about life, motherhood, transitioning away from Brazil into our new chapters… We were missing Michelle, Colby & Paula this trip but next time, girls!

While I was in Denver for the weekend, Michael took the train from DC to New York to visit his brother Joe and hang out with friends in the city.

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Cheering on the Cardinals with Joe & friends!

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Hanging out with BWad.

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Snowy NYC.

Then, as I was getting to hang out with Brett in Denver, Michael visited Brad who was dutifully watching their two adorable kiddos back in NY.

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Michael with Luke Man!

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Campbell! Sweetest little girl ever!

A great MLK weekend for all!!

Jan/Feb 2016 in SC

After celebrating the New Year and Finn’s baptism in Arizona, Michael headed to DC for work and I took the boys to SC. We spent a few days apart then over the following weekend, Michael bought a car (ahem, a minivan) in Virginia then drove it from the dealership down to South Carolina. He stayed for a quick weekend visit then flew back to DC for work but left the minivan with the kids and me.

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Living the life of luxury in the stylin Sienna!

Side notes on the minivan.
1) I was initially very resistant to getting a minivan because…it’s a minivan but we got a 2015 Toyota Sienna XLE and I absolutely love it. The thing about minivans is that they are literally made for families so having one makes my life easier every day. I highly recommend.
2) We have another car and then the minivan is “the family car” but we all really know that the other car is Michael’s and the minivan is “mine” since I almost never go anywhere without the kids. Anyway, I really had to put my faith in Michael since he bought it without me ever getting to see it but since I bought our house without him…he said he could handle it. And again, we love it!

Back to South Carolina…

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Visiting the Columbia Children’s Museum – Edventure.

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Colt sledding down the hill.

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Chillin.

Thankful to my brother & Suzanne for letting us borrow baby gear to keep Finn cozy & entertained while we stayed with my parents.

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He did not turn out to be a thumb sucker but he made us wonder quite a few times.

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Colt soaking up some Pasha time.

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Park time with Gigi!

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PJs.

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Biking & strolling.

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Bros.

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Gigi showing Colt the snow!

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When the huge blizzard hit Virginia, we had already closed on our house there but were renting it back to the previous owners so they sent us pictures of the house COVERED in snow.

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More cozy cuddles!

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Finn with his favorite person on earth.

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More park fun.

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Finn likes to swing too!

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What a happy little guy.

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#eyes.

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Snuggle fest.

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Nanny & little Finn.

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Papa & little Colt.

Michael worked out of the DC office for a couple weeks in January then spent the second half of the month back in Brazil. So while we were doing all of the above, Michael was doing all of the below!

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Saude.

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Polenta frita at Vaca Veia – my fav.

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SP Art.

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We miss those Parker kiddos! Jack & Michael.

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Little Finley Parker.

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Parting gift from his coworkers: Corinthians jersey!

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With his name on it! Vai Corinthians!

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Aperol spritz with Trent.

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Parkers + Trent & Michael out at 348.

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Walking out of that pretty office building!

End of January and we’re reunited & it feels so good!

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Daddy’s back!

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So happy to see him.

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#Harperboys3 #coltneedsahaircut

Another lovely visit to the Columbia Zoo with my grandparents!

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Feeding the giraffes

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Finn and Nanny.

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And now feeding the llamas.

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Colt and gorilla.

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Feeding the birds!

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So fun!

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Colt & bear.

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The truest tiger fan!! Papa’s favorite exhibit. 🙂

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Gigi & Fincher!

We decided to transition Colt out of the crib and into a big boy bed before we moved. My grandfather had his “youth bed” that he got when he was 5 years old (also used by my mom and brother) and he recently had it refinished for us. It’s a size that is no longer produced (in between a crib mattress which is the current toddler bed size and a twin bed) so we had to custom order a mattress and sheets but my mom had an old trundle bed mattress that basically fit so we went ahead and started with that. Colt loved hearing the stories of the bed and watching the bed get assembled in his room. And best of all, he slept great and never really gave us any trouble with the transition. I think the keys for us were 1) he was old enough to really get it and 2) he was already accustomed to his lighted clock indicating sleep-time vs. awake-time so it made sense for him to “obey” the clock and stay in bed when the clock was blue and get up when the clock turned yellow. (I highly recommend the My Tot Clock but start them on it while they’re still in a crib!)

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Getting ready for bed.

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All tucked in.

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Morning bro time!

 

**During this time, Finn & I took a trip to Denver to meet up with some girlfriends, Michael took a trip to NY to meet up with friends AND we all took one final trip to Arizona but I’ll do separate posts on those trips next. Oh yeah, and I also attempted potty training while Michael was in Brazil although I’m not sure I’m far enough removed from that trauma to write about it yet  😉 **

Finn’s 1st Birthday Party!

To celebrate Finn turning 1, Michael and I invited some friends over for a little cornhole and cupcakes in our backyard. His birthday coincided with the Arlington County Fair which happens to be right across the street, just steps from our front yard, so we had people over from 2-5 so that friends could check out the Fair before / after the party. We were also super fortunate to have my parents in town to celebrate with us too!

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“Feliz Aniversario” for our Brazilian!

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“Booze & Kazoos” gift bags.

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Back porch.

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Arizona / South Carolina Cornhole!

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Some of the entertainment for the kids.

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My cousin’s family came and brought an old family heirloom rocking horse & Finn loves it!

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Party scene.

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Loads of kiddos. Just how we like it. 🙂 

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More little ones!

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Our youngest attendee, Reed.

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Finn with his favorite person!

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Double fisting. Finn & Graham.

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Colt, wearing his birthday hat, drawing a happy family.

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Beautiful Schuh family!

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BC (& honorary BC) + kiddos.

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+ Spouses.

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SO thoughtful of our friends & neighbors to bring this Spiderman balloon for Colt!

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Setting up for cupcakes with cousins Gavin & Delaney.

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The Brazilian way – a sparkler in lieu of a candle!

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Finn thought it was a good idea to grab the whole cupcake.

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Happy birthday boy!

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Harper bros.

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Cupcake bros.

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Colt back for round 2 (or 3?). #cupcaketummy

 

 

Thanks to all who celebrated with us. What a fun blessing!

Happy Birthday Finn! 1 Year.

Happy Birthday Fincher Oliver! Today you turned 1! image1

Finn developments: Sweet angel Finn, you are such a blessing and a dream.

You aren’t walking on your own yet but you are are “cruising” around furniture at record speed and generally prefer to be on your feet whenever possible. You can stand in place on your own for up to 20 or 30 seconds before grabbing back onto something for support of going back to the ground again. You will walk around the house with me if I hold your hands up and support you but even after a few minutes of that you squirm out and opt to crawl or cruise. You did take your first step the a few days ago though – Daddy set you down on the floor in a standing position just out of reach of our bed and you took a step then immediately grabbed onto the bed. We repeated this a few times and you did it again but if we set you too far away (2 steps length) then you’d just drop to a crawl. It was almost like you would only take the step if you didn’t realize you were doing it and thought you could basically just reach out and grab the bed. Anyway, no rush to walk but I don’t think you’re too far from it now. IMG_5152

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We haven’t baby-proofed our stairs and you love to charge up whenever you get bored. Since someone always chases you up the stairs (not old enough to do them unattended) you have learned to associate going up stairs with playing with someone / being chased so now, as soon as you decide to start heading towards the stairs you start giggling a big, loud giggle. This has helped us to always know when you’re on your way up and, as you hope, we always chase after you and only reinforce the fun. To go down you slide on your tummy but after you get down 1 step you stand up on your feet and climb back up again. I think you just get confused so we still have work to do to learn how to go down safely. IMG_3137

You’re not a huge talker but you do babble a bit. Most of your “words” fall into the “ba” and “da” category, including: Dada, baa (what does the sheep say?), buhbuh (bubbles), du (duck), ba (bath)… you get the idea. That being said you are getting better at imitating other sounds and we’re starting to hear more “ha”s and “la”s from you. Still waiting on that “Mama” sound, Mr. Fincher! IMG_1409

You can give a good, hard blink on command (so funny), put your hands on your head, clap, wave and you give the wettest open mouth kisses. You can sometimes point to your ears or your nose but definitely not batting 1000 for those. You love to take things off the shelves or out of containers but also like putting things back into them as well. You can stack 1 block on top of another but can knock down a whole tower. 😉 You’re good at following simple instructions, especially ones that we can demonstrate. You like bath time but always make me nervous since you are constantly trying to climb. It’s actually easiest when you take a bath with Colt since he helps keep you entertained without you slipping all over the place. You do NOT like getting your diaper changed and fuss the second I lay you on your back, however when I lay you on your back in your crib for bed you smile and start giggling almost every time. IMG_3785

You absolutely love music, singing and dancing. You will rock out and bounce around like crazy if there is good music going and you just love to watch other people dance. You giggle and sometimes spin in circles on your tush to try to participate in the fun. IMG_1240

You love playing with your brother Colt and, bless his heart, you ALWAYS want EXACTLY the toy that he’s playing with. We can get out 100 toys for you and surround you with them, make noises, etc. but whatever Colt picks up, that’s what you want to investigate. And even more-so if he builds something like a block tower or a train track or a lego creation. And man you just love to destroy them all. Colt is not so keen on this so while you guys actually do play really well together, we are still at an age spread that requires a good amount of parental management. I can leave you two to play together on your own for decent chunks of time though, especially in the basement or somewhere with lots of toy options and space. And when we’re playing together, Colt is really good about choosing to do things like play chase with you or set things out for you get (“treasure hunting”) or dancing and singing to you. Speaking of you & Colt – you two crack me up every day. He loves to “go check Finn” when you’re waking up from a nap which always involves him tossing random stuffed animals into your crib and running around your room. At any rate, Colt is a great friend and playmate for you – you really got lucky with that big brother of yours! P1040787

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And no offense to Colt or to me but your absolute favorite person on planet Earth is Dada. You are obsessed with him. When he comes home from work you go bananas – you get a huge smile and then almost go into an all-out panic until he picks you up and you’ll cry if he puts you down too soon. Sometimes this is tricky since he often bikes to/from work so he’ll be pouring sweat and you just INSIST that he holds you! The other day Dad came home while you and Colt were eating. He sat down at the table and you just freaked out every time that he started talking to and looking at Colt and me. You wanted his full attention. It’s so funny!! You also give Dad the best “snuggles” where you put your head on his chest and hug him so tightly with both hands. But you have such a stud dad so I don’t blame you one bit. IMG_4144IMG_1418

Health: Praise God for your continued health and well being – you continue to grow so beautifully. We are due for your 1 year checkup but I think you’re around:

Weight: 22 lbs
Height: 30.5″ tall
Diapers: We’re finishing up our final pack of size 3 then moving up to 4s.
Clothes: 12 months
Teeth: 6! You have the front 4 + one more up & down on the left side.

You have the milkiest, creamiest skin on earth. I just want to pour you in my coffee and drink you up! Your eyes are such a clear, bright beautiful blue, and they are so freakin happy. You are SLOWLY growing some blonde hair but still have a long way to go on that front. Occasionally you’ll get tylenol if you’re teething and you’ve had a cold or two but otherwise nothing to report. IMG_4730IMG_3402

At birth you were diagnosed with an abdominal hemangioma. Based on a few factors, the doctors told us that it was unlikely that it would resolve itself and instead you would probably need surgery. We recently went in for a final follow up where it was established that God healed you and it’s now a total non-issue! Also, in one of the ultrasounds to investigate your hemangioma it was found that you had some dilation in one of your kidneys and we are thankful to report that this has also resolved on it’s own. Thank you, Lord. IMG_4869

Feeding: Finn, you are an awesome but kind of funny, slightly aggressive eater. What do I mean by that? Well, for starters, you’re just a great eater. You are not picky and are really good about eating whatever we’re eating whether that’s chicken, pasta, broccoli, mushrooms, chili, pancakes, eggs, turkey, sandwiches, spinach, cereal, etc. You like almost everything but have shown a few preferences / dislikes (no grapes or blueberries for you!). This is a HUGE breath of fresh air / relief since Colt is so picky, however I look back at Colt’s 1 year post and see that I was still “pretty much pureeing” most of his real meals at this point — what?!?! So, who knows the extent to which this influenced things but I do feel like the way we fed Colt made him generally more hesitant to try new flavors, textures, etc. and has generally made him picky. (I think my logic at the time was that since he was already picky, the easiest way to give him good nutrients was to puree it all together but looking back I think it was a little nuts!) Anyway, you have no problem trying new foods and in fact insist on trying whatever we are eating – and 95% of the time you like it! You don’t have a full set of teeth so of course I can’t give you many raw veggies and generally have to cut things into small pieces but otherwise you like being part of the action.
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OK, now for the funny and aggressive parts. Funny: also very unlike your brother, you really like to feed yourself and when you’re able to (as in, when I judge that it won’t be too big of a mess and I let you do it) you get SO excited and giggle the entire time with your funny machine-gun laugh. At the same time, this desire to feed yourself often makes you a little aggressive. You will want to hold the bowl or fork or food so badly and you kind of turn into a screamer in the high chair. It’s so strange. You literally never behave this way but as soon as I stick you in your high chair, if you’re not immediately eating or if you’re trying to take control and grab things you just start screaming. And waving your hands around like a mad man, often knocking things out of my hands. And sometimes you get so worked up that you start flinging yourself around. It’s really weird. I do NOT like this but don’t really know what to do about it… It even gets on Colt’s nerves and he’ll be sitting in his seat trying to shush you throughout the meal. Anyway, here’s to hoping we outgrow this little nuance sooner than later… IMG_4835

You are still nursing and we just dropped from 4x/day to 3x. I am planning on weaning this month and I think you’ll be pretty ambivalent about it. You’re a good nurser but get distracted if there are other things going on. We’ve tested cows milk with you a few times and you like it just fine so I don’t think we’ll have the struggle that we had from your bro when we make the switch.

Sleeping: This is your superpower, Finn! Not because you sleep an abnormal amount but just because you are so easy and SO consistent. I think that since you were about 7 weeks old you have slept through the night (like, 10+ hours) and since then I bet I could count on 1 hand the number of times that I’ve had to get up to comfort you during the nights. You fall asleep for naps and nighttime without any problem and wake up slowly, giving me plenty of notice before you start fussing. Sometimes you’ll roll around and “wake-up” for 30 minutes before really asking to get up. (I appreciate this because I always knew the exact MOMENT that your brother woke up!) Occasionally when we travel you will take some time to adjust either to a time-change or a new environment but you always seem to work it out pretty quickly and adapt. IMG_5655

Your only sleep issue is that it’s getting harder for you to sleep in public. If I try to drag you in your carseat / stroller for a morning activity out with Colt, then it’s almost guaranteed that you won’t fall asleep until the car ride home. This would be fine if you could go with only 1 nap but you can’t. You still need a second one. So then you’re napping through dinner. So far it’s not a real problem since even if you wake up from your second nap at 6:30 you are still happy to go to bed at 8 and I’m hoping you can move to 1 nap soon (although it’s not looking like it’ll be too soon!).

The only other situation where this is a problem is when we’re traveling. On car trips you do fine – great actually – and if there is an open seat on a plane and we can bring your carseat on then we can block you off enough for you to fall asleep. However, on our last flight (your 22nd!!), there were no extra seats. When we boarded the plane you were already overdue for your nap and then we proceeded to get 4 hours of crying or either your dad or me walking you up and down the aisles. You were SO tired and I was sure that you wouldn’t be able to last through the whole flight but Fincher, you went the distance, crying all the way through the landing. Upon arrival we picked up your car seat and stroller at the gate-check and literally within seconds you were passed out.

You prefer to sleep in your crib in a sleep sack with a couple of blankies, blankets and pacis with your sound machine in the background.

Schedule: With an older brother who likes to be out & about it’s hard to keep to this too religiously, but your “ideal” schedule looks something like this:

7:50 am Wake up, first morning feed with Mom.
8:30 am Breakfast (usually a full banana then some yogurt)
9:45-12:00 pm Nap #1. It still shocks me every day that just 2 hours after waking up from sleeping for 12 hours you’re ready for this big nap!
12:00 pm Wake up and nurse #2 with Mom.
12:30 pm Lunch
3:00-4:45pm Nap #2
5:00 pm Nurse with #3 with Mom.
6:15 pm Dinner
7:50 pm Bedtime! IMG_3455

Mama’s thoughts: What a tremendous blessing of joy you are to our family. So much has happened in our lives in the past year and you’ve just been such a shining light through all of it.

On the day that you were born, the word God gave me for you was “wisdom” and the verse He gave me was Proverbs 1:7 (The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.). I know it might sound silly to say that I see and pray for wisdom in your life, you, a little baby just now 1 year old. But as God lets me cast a vision for your life, that is the cornerstone. Wisdom, as God defines it. Wisdom as fear of the Lord. Fear as worship, for the Almighty God, the only one who has the power to save us not just in this life but for eternity – the one who, upon seeing our sin, could have cast us out forever but instead ran towards us in compassionate mercy and does so every day again and again through the person of Jesus Christ. I pray that these things be the defining markers of your life, my precious Finn. God is giving me faith and a vision that they will.IMG_5288

Fincher: 8 Months!

Precious Finn, you turned 8 months old yesterday!

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Finn developments: We thank the Lord for the way you continue to grow so beautifully. Here are some current stats:

Weight: 19 lbs (52%)
Height: 28″ (64%)
Head size: 17.5″ (50% — Yes, it’s true! For some reason it just looks huge!)
Clothes: 9 months
Diapers: Size 3
Tooth Count: 2 bottom middle teeth came in the week of March 20 and the top middles feel like they’re trying to push through!
Hair: Still trying to figure this one out but it is growing a little… 😉
Eyes: Keeping those baby blues for sure!
Skin: You still get dry patches and dry cheeks but Gold Bond with Aloe lotion has been a life-saver for you. It’s the only thing that works on your skin but clears it up in no time.
Word count: 1 – “Dada” – of course. Just like Colt. 🙂

Precious soul, my little Finn, I have fallen so hard in love for you, baby. You have completely won my heart with your sweet smiles and infectious laugh. You have such a genuine warmth to you. I love getting to spend my days with you and honestly go to bed each night wishing for more time with you.

Somehow you have managed to stay the sweetest, easiest baby on Earth. You have the calmest demeanor and have been so resilient through all of the craziness in our lives. (To add some color to this, this Friday you will take your 20th flight! And that’s to say nothing of the many road trips all over the place.) But no matter the circumstance, you always adjust so seamlessly. What grace from the Lord!

These days you enjoy sitting up to play or playing on your tummy. You will roll and scoot all around, moving yourself far away from wherever we initially place you, however you have yet to start crawling. I think we still have a month or so before you get to that one. But I’m certainly NOT in a rush for you to be super mobile!

You love toys, music, mirrors, and anything that you can grab or munch on. You like music and love watching people dance – you think I’m such a cool pop star and an awesome singer/dancer. Kind of nice that someone thinks this. 🙂

You just started playing peek-a-boo! I had you on the changing table and you grabbed a cloth and covered your face. When you pulled it off I said, “peek-a-boo” and you giggled and covered yourself up again, then repeated it. We sat there playing it for 10 or 15 minutes – I just couldn’t handle how precious you were and you were absolutely loving it!

One of your very favorite people in the world is your sweet brother Colt who is AWESOME with you. He is SO good at playing with you, “reading” to you, and generally entertaining you. When you wake up from a nap he loves to be the first one to run into your room and greet you by patting you on the head. If I sit you down on the floor he will run to bring you “a couple toys” and often wants me to put you on a mat or something soft. It’s SO sweet.

Colt also loves talking with you and “helping” you talk. You babble a lot but the only “word” you’re saying is “Dada.” Of course we don’t assume you know what it means but it’s sweet to hear and funny since it was Colt’s first word as well. Still waiting on one to say “Mama” first… 😉

Schedule: What an easy baby you are little one. I think that soon you will push your morning nap a little later and merge naps 2 and 3 but for now this is a typical schedule for you.

8:00 Wake up & nurse #1 with mom then play with Colt.
9:00 Breakfast for you (and Colt).
9:45-11:30 Nap #1
11:45 Wake up & nurse #2 with mom, then play with Colt.
12:30 Lunch for you and your bro.
2:00-3:30 Nap #2. (This is also when Colt does his “quiet time” so this is key for me!)
3:30 Wake up & nurse #3 with mom then play with Colt.
5:45-6:15 Nap #3.
6:15 Dinner time!
7:45 Nurse #4 with mom then get ready for bed.
8:00 Lights out!

Eating: You are an awesome eater! You nurse great with me (although I’m getting a little nervous as you’re teething…) and you take a bottle easily as well. Still all mom – we’ve never tested formula on you yet.

You LOVE eating solids. In the beginning we gave you almost all pre-made purees but over the past month we’ve really shifted towards giving you whatever we’re eating. So far you are MUCH easier than Colt when it comes to eating. You are excited to try anything and have basically liked everything we’ve given you including apple slices, bananas, sliced strawberries & other berries, orange pieces, roasted or boiled broccoli, cauliflower, sautéed mushrooms, spinach, cooked tomatoes, avocado, black beans, white beans, shredded chicken, hamburger, lunch meats & cheeses, pancakes, eggs all ways, pretzels, etc. etc. The only foods you have expressed a dislike for were sour grapes and greek yogurt – both gave you the shivers!

I think that with Colt I pureed things for so long because I found it to be a more efficient means of getting good nutrient into his system but I THINK this contributed to him being more sensitive to different textures and unique flavors and just trying new foods in general. Therefore I am trying to be more consistent about just giving you whatever we are eating, however we are eating it and so far you are into it.

Sleep: Angel baby. You are an incredible sleeper. Ever since you dropped your night feed (back at 7 weeks!) I have never had to wake up and feed you in the night. You have had times where you woke up in search of your paci but as soon as it was returned to you, you were happy and asleep. And by this point you’ve totally let that habit go as well.

After your last feed of the night we change your diaper, zip you up in your sleep sack (with a WubbaNub paci tucked in with you) and lay you down. You silently put yourself to sleep within minutes. You normally sleep on your side but will also sleep on your back and most recently your tummy as well.

You first two naps are easy & clockwork but lately your third nap has been the least predictable which is how I can tell you’re almost ready to give it up. Sometimes you are just asking for it and fall right asleep but other times you aren’t quite tired enough so get upset about being left alone. Normally you do end up falling asleep but sometimes I can tell it’s just not going to happen so I go ahead and grab you.

I am thankful that you’re so flexible as you often have 1 or 2 naps on the go somewhere as well, but since your second nap lines up with Colt’s quiet time, we’re usually able to get that one in the crib which is nice.

Mom: Finn, what a BLESSING it is to be your mom. I truly thank God for you every day. I know it might sound silly since you’re only 8 months old, but I feel like I know you. I feel like I can see aspects of who you are and who you will be as a person. And I see great things. God defines greatness very differently than our culture and this world does so I don’t know if “great things” means President of the United States (or Brazil!?) or if it means working a simple job and loving your family well or if it means serving others in a difficult and low way… I have no idea. Of course. You’re 8 months old! But God has given me faith to have a vision for your life and for your life’s greatness. I can’t wait to see it unfold.