Blind Wine Tasting!

Last month Michael and I hosted a blind-wine tasting party with our friends. We had 4 types of wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Carmenere and Malbec), two wines each – 1 cheap and 1 expensive. You were scored based on correctly guessing which was cheap vs. expensive and there were bonus points given each round for the best tasting notes. Naturally the tasting notes were¬†hilarious and got progressively funnier as the night went on. ūüôā We had a prize for first place and a “prize” for last place but I think we all had a blast.

Dining room set-up.

Dining room set-up.

Living room.

Living room.

Pre-party.

Pre-party.

Jack, Colt and Campbell.

Jack, Colt and Campbell socializing before bed. Note: they did not participate. ¬†ūüėČ

Colt with Joe & Jake.

Colt with Joe & Jake.

"Team Glitter" arrived guns blazing in Blank Space attire. Amazing.

“Team Glitter” arrived guns blazing in Blank Space attire. Amazing. (PS – Nice socks Jeff!)

Michael and Hayden doing one of the reveals.

Michael and Hayden doing one of the reveals.

Commanding the room.

Commanding the room.

Reading some of the tasting notes.

Reading some of the tasting notes.

Chit chat.

Chit chat.

Somewhere around 12:30 or so it turned into a big dance party that went on for hours! So fun!

Put your hands up!

Put your hands up!

BBQ Cook-Off

Back in October, some of our friends decided to have a BBQ cook-off. Originally we weren’t going to host it, but when the temps were pushing 100 for that day, the party got moved to our place since we have AC. (Yes, most people do NOT have AC here despite the year-round heat —¬†we didn’t have it in our old place either!) Anyway, at the party we had BBQ from South Carolina, North Carolina, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas! Everything was amazing, however¬†I’m loyal to the SC mustard-based BBQ and always think it’s the best. Either that or the incredible hush puppies that our talented friend Suzanna made!!

Setting up.

Setting up.

Suzanna and her award-winning hush puppies! My favorite thing of the night!

Suzanna and her award-winning hush puppies! My favorite thing of the night!

Great spread!

Great spread!

Yum!

Yum!

Getting food!

Getting food!

Paige demonstrates a well-balanced plate.

Paige demonstrates a well-balanced plate.

Colt in the front, Mailey and Willa in the back.

Colt in the front, Mailey and Willa in the back.

Uncle Joe and Colt!

Uncle Joe and Colt!

August, aka The Blur…

The month of August was a bit of a blur, and by a bit, I mean a complete blur. Why?

1) Apartment Hunting, Contract Negotiations, Packing & Moving:
As soon as the World Cup was over, Michael and I started looking for new apartments. With the addition of Colt and his ever increasing mobility, we had definitely outgrown our old place.

Clearly we have outgrown the space...

Clearly we needed more¬†space…

We wanted to basically stay in the same neighborhood and remain close to a) Michael’s office, b) Joe’s apartment, c) the grocery store and d) the park. We wanted 3 bedrooms, more space and were hoping for some good, kid-friendly common space in the complex. Long story short, apartment hunting is a challenge anywhere, but Brazil and S√£o Paulo do a few things to make it especially challenging, so when we found “the one,” with everything we wanted, we didn’t let it go!

Date night at Nagayama to celebrate closing on the apartment!

Date night at Nagayama to celebrate closing on the apartment!

Our old contract didn’t officially run out until October 1st, but we decided to get out a little early and start our new contract on Aug. 20 so that we would be able to move in before my mom arrived (Sept. 1) and we left for South Africa (Sept. 3-17) which would be directly followed the Harpers’ visit (Sept. 20-27).
We decided to move ourselves as much as possible and only hire a truck and some guys for a few hours to move the big, heavy furniture, so once we knew when we were going to move,¬†I started¬†packing boxes at every spare moment — not an easy thing to manage in a small space with a mobile toddler! Add to that testing paint colors, measuring furniture and walls to no end, selling a few items…it’s a lot!
Once we got our keys we painted the walls and starting moving boxes each day. We lived in a small space and didn’t feel like we had that much stuff, but somehow it seemed to multiply with each load we took over. Our¬†first weekend we moved the big furniture. I am still a little traumatized by how difficult the whole process was but let me just say that without our dear (and handy!) friend Trent Hudson, we would never have gotten moved out and in. We still don’t have all of the pictures hung on the walls and I still have some closet type organizing to do, but we¬†got sufficiently settled to hand the keys over to my mom just in the nick of time.
**I’m excited to share a tour of the apartment and complex soon!**

2) Girls’ Weekend / Guys’ Weekend:
The weekend before we moved, we had guys / girls weekend trips!
The boys had been planning their weekend for months. It was affectionately known as “Shooter Weekend” and their itinerary was as follows: Friday: Big steak dinner at 348, our favorite Argentine steak house then pile in the rented bus to ride up to the fazenda (ranch property) where they stayed.¬†Saturday: Paint ball at the fazenda (they had a company come to them and set it up on their property!) followed by a group viewing of the movie, Shooter.¬†Sunday: Bus ride back home.

Shooter Weekend Crew: Trent, Kenneth, Brian, Zach, Brad, Hayden, Jamie, Alex, Joe, Michael, Jeff and  Tom!

Shooter Weekend Crew: Trent, Kenneth, Brian, Zach, Brad, Hayden, Jamie, Alex, Joe, Michael, Jeff and Tom!

Michael (obviously) had an absolute blast but (obviously) came home a little rough and ragged.
Some of the wives (5 to be exact) decided to do a little getaway ourselves so we retreated to a beach house a couple hours away for a quiet and relaxing weekend (with babies). It was lots of fun but with my hands constantly on Colt, this is my only photo from the weekend!

Colt and Jack sleeping like champs as Michelle and I pulled up to the beach house Friday night.

Colt and Jack sleeping like champs as Michelle and I pulled up to the beach house Friday night.

3) A Bad Cold:
Unfortunately, I returned home from the girl’s weekend with a yucky¬†virus that¬†made me sick¬†for about 10 days, several of which I hardly even made it out of bed. It was totally miserable and I couldn’t be around Colt for the first couple of days which meant Michael had to help out more at home. All of this put him behind at work and us super behind on the move which just¬†ended up meaning that the last half of August was that much more hectic and frazzled.

4) Rio Half Marathon Trip:
You’d think¬†that for the last weekend in August, our first real weekend in our apartment and the days before my mom arrived, we would stay home, get settled, maybe even relax a little. Instead, we flew to Rio so that Michael could run in a half-marathon with a bunch¬†of our friends.

Colt was just so proud he couldnt stand it!

Colt was just so proud he couldn’t stand it!

The runners! Michael, Michelle, Suzanna, Brad, Bryan & Alex.

The runners! Michael, Michelle, Suzanna, Brad, Bryan & Alex.

It was a really fun weekend with friends.

Colby, Suzanna, me, Brett, Jana, Michelle!

Colby, Suzanna, me, Brett, Jana, Michelle!

Colt & Michael owning the pool at the Copacabana Palace!

Colt & Michael owning the pool at the Copacabana Palace!

However, just to give you a quick glimpse of the chaos that was our life: on the trip, Michael forgot his running shoes, Colt was getting both of his bottom 1 year molars so he was sick with fever and general pain/misery all weekend and when we were getting on our flight home Sunday night, we realized that we had left one of our bags at security so Michael had to hop off the plane Рleaving me with a sick baby for the flight home Рand he had to run out, try to find our bag, switch his flight, etc.

Snuggly, sick baby.

Snuggly, sick baby.

And the next morning, just hours after we returned home from Rio, my mom arrived!! We had a couple days of overlap with her to show her the ropes of our new place, all of Colt’s routines, and get her fully acquainted with everything before we took off for South Africa!

Whew – I am exhausted just writing about it all again. It’s crazy that all of the above happened in just a couple weeks but¬†that was the reason for the lack of posts¬†since early August. Lots to catch up on!! More soon on my mom’s visit, our trip to South Africa, our new place and the Harpers visit here and to Rio, but for now, here are some other random moments from July and August:

July: Colt's 1 year check-up!

July: Colt’s 1 year check-up!

Michael with Trent in the Hudsons' "shop" busy working on Colt's "Rocking Colt!"

Michael with Trent in the Hudsons’ “shop” busy working on Colt’s “Rocking Colt!”

Cutie-pie in a bow-tie! Thanks to our talented friend Colby who made it!

July: Cutie-pie in a bow-tie! Thanks to our talented friend Colby who made it!

Michael and I at "Copa da Glitter" Game Night!

July: Michael and I at “Copa da Glitter” Game Night!

The WINNING Team!!

The Copa da Glitter WINNING Team!!

July: Rubba dub dub, fun in the tub!

July: Rubba dub dub, fun in the tub!

July: Park toys.

July: Park toys.

July: Park fun!

July: Park fun!

July: Stick-selfie.

July: Stick-selfie.

Aug: Family fun at the Pracinha.

Aug: Family fun at the Pracinha.

Aug.

Aug.

Aug: Fun dinner with the OConnells -- Colts godmothers parents!

Aug: Fun dinner at Sallvattore with the O’Connells — Colt’s godmother’s parents!

Aug: Colbys birthday dinner at the Joneses.

Aug: Colby’s birthday dinner at the Joneses.

Colt facetiming with Michael at the office, and somehow he figured out how to take a screenshot of the moment! I love it.

Colt facetiming with Michael at the office, and somehow he figured out how to take a screenshot of the moment! I love it.

A Copa do Mundo (Part 3)

The World Cup celebrations continued on June 26 with yet another USA match at BOS BBQ. Although we lost the match against Germany, we stayed alive and advanced to the Round of 16 so overall, we took it as a win. (Plus, looking back on it, I’m pretty proud of a 1-0 loss to Germany, right??)

Noel, Michael, Joe, Paul and Mark.

Noel, Michael, Joe, Paul and Mark.

Crazy bumping into Hillary - a friend from McCain 08 in town for the World Cup!

Crazy bumping into Hillary – a friend from McCain ’08 – in town for the World Cup!

The next day, Michael and I packed our bags & our baby and headed with Joe and Jake to Belo Horizonte for the weekend where we would get to watch Brazil play Chile in their first match in the knock-out phase. We rented an apartment for the weekend and through friends of friends were lucky enough to find a babysitter to watch Colt all day while we enjoyed a full Saturday focused on the game.

About to head out to the game!

About to head out to the game! Colt clearly doesn’t get what a big day this is. Nor is he dressed appropriately.

Brasil.

The patriotism was everywhere!

We were dropped off about 1.5 miles from the stadium where we then walked along a sea of yellow jerseys until we arrived at the Mineirão.

The walk to the stadium.

The walk to the stadium.

The walk to the stadium was pretty fun – full of ice-cold beers and lots of Brazil chants – everyone was in the spirit. And the enthusiasm only grew as we arrived at the Miner√£o.

Getting to the stadium.

Getting to the stadium.

A sea of yellow.

A sea of yellow.

So excited to be here!

So excited to be here!

I couldn’t believe that the first World Cup game I was¬†attending¬†was one with¬†Brazil¬†playing! We arrived at the stadium about an hour and a half early, so after walking around a bit, we went to find our seats.

An amazing view!

An amazing view!

Since you buy tickets through a lottery system, you never really know what your seats are going to be like, but we totally lucked out with these.

The Miner√£o!

The Mineir√£o!

I really can’t describe what the game was like. The entire thing was amazing. Brazil’s first goal was right in front of us and the whole place went nuts. But when we headed into extra time and then penalties, the entire stadium was so packed with intensity I thought it was going to burst. The man behind us said that his heart was not prepared for PKs and literally walked out before they started, unable to handle the crazy pressure of the moment. It was something I’ll never forget and for Brazil to walk away with the win was sweet icing on the cake.

Amazing!

Amazing!

We flew home the next day and even at the airport, the World Cup fandom raged on…

Everyone crowded around the TV in the airport watching Co

Everyone crowded around the TV in the airport to keep watching the games.

Sweet Colt, an amazing traveler and great sport during all of the chaos.

Sweet Colt, an amazing traveler and great sport during all of the chaos.

The day after we returned from Belo Horizonte, Michael and I both landed unexpected tickets to Tuesday’s Argentina v Switzerland game in S√£o Paulo. I was so pumped to get to see Argentina play AND get to see the brand new stadium in S√£o Paulo.

The

Arriving at the stadium.

Inside the

Inside the Itaquer√£o.

The game was¬†funny because it was filled with Brazilians who did nothing but cheer against Argentina and Argentines who did nothing but cheer against Brazil! This would make sense if Argentina had been playing Brazil, but they were playing Switzerland! Regardless, the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina – especially when it comes to soccer – is so strong, that the two countries just cheered and chanted against each other the whole time! I was originally cheering for Argentina but I found that I could never join in any of their chants because they were rarely related to the game but instead were all just negative about Brazil! Too funny. Thankfully we were wearing our USA gear in prep for our game later that afternoon, so we didn’t upset any Brazilians.

Paige & me.

Paige & me!

with Michael.

Great seats again! With Michael.

The sad part of this story is that we all left the game a little early to get back to BOS in time to watch the USA game and we MISSED the Argentina¬†goal in over-time!¬†The even sadder part is that later that day, despite Tim Howard’s heroic efforts, the US was knocked out by Belgium.

Thankful that we still had Brazil to cheer for, we channeled all of our energy there. This, as everyone knows, ended in quite severe heartbreak for the entire country as we took a crushing 7-1 loss to Germany.

Photo taken BEFORE the game started...

Photo taken BEFORE the game started…

Brazilian babies hanging with the babysitter.

Our Brazilian babies hanging with the babysitter while their parents watched the game at a bar!

Love birds.

Somehow they were not phased by the loss.

Once the US and Brazil were both out of the tournament, our enthusiasm levels went down a bit, but we still watched Brazil compete in their final match to come in 4th and then we watched Germany defeat Argentina for the title.

To be honest, it was kind of an exhausting month, but it was incredibly exciting and truly unforgettable. So thankful we got to be here and be a part of it!

A Copa do Mundo (Part 2)

The weekend of June 21, Michael and Joe and their friends Trent and Tom flew to Belo Horizonte to attend Argentina’s game against Iran. Since Michael’s love for Latin America and soccer began in Argentina, he was super fired up to be going to one of their games. Plus, who doesn’t want to watch Messi on the big stage?

Michael, Tom & Joe at the Miner√£o.

Michael, Tom & Joe at the Miner√£o.

Michael sporting the jersey that was lovingly gifted to him from his Argentina besties, Pepe and

Michael sporting the jersey that was lovingly gifted to him from his Argentina besties, Pepe and Claudio.

Harper bros!

Harper bros!

That weekend was also the USA’s game vs. Portugal and unfortunately, Michael’s flight wasn’t arriving in S√£o Paulo until late Sunday night so he and Joe rocked their USA gear and watched¬†the game from BH.

Michael & Joe in Belo Horizonte.

Michael & Joe in Belo Horizonte.

Back in S√£o Paulo, gringo-nation headed to Casa Hudson for a fun and patriotic viewing experience.

Colt & I on our way out!

Colt & I on our way out!

Our team played awesome and it was SOUL CRUSHING when Portugal scored to tie in the last minute of extra time, but we still gladly took the point and started prepping for Germany.

Our American babies!

Our American babies!

But, before we could cheer for the US again, we had to throw on our Brazil jerseys and cross all of our fingers and toes that they would triumph over Cameroon. By this point, they were pretty sure to advance out of the group stage, but Michael and I NEEDED them to WIN their group since we had tickets to the game of the winner! So we headed to the best spot to watch Brazil play, cheered our little hearts out, and were ELATED when they won!!!

Vai Brasil!

Vai Brasil from Vaca Veia!

Trent making sure that he has his hands free to cheer!

Trent making sure that he has his hands free to cheer!

The next day, the Harper household was taken over by some lovely Chicago boys as Michael’s college buddy Mark and 2 of his friends visited for the World Cup.

Welcome dinner at Espirito Santo.

Welcome dinner at Espirito Santo.

The boys out for sushi!

The boys out for sushi!

Meanwhile, Colt was cheering on Italy and couldn’t believe that they¬†didn’t advance¬†out of their group!

The cutest Italy fan!

The cutest Italy fan! Sporting a jersey gifted to him by Michael’s coworker Artur!

Happy!

Happy despite the loss.

…Part 3 coming up next…!

A Copa Do Mundo (Part 1)

So… I’ve been a little delayed in my posting on the World Cup, NOT for lack of enthusiasm, but simply due to being a little overwhelmed by the task. It’s hard to explain what the World Cup was like here. All I can think to say is that it was all-encompassing. It dominated our lives. It took over our schedules, our conversations, our work, our apartment, our emotions, our outfits, our food, our thoughts…every aspect of our lives seemed to suddenly revolve around this tournament (that is so much more than a tournament).

Since Brazilians are soccer fanatics, I’m sure that World Cup season is always crazy¬†here, but while they were the host country… it was amazing. I’ll admit that the fandom was a little delayed due to the protests over the government corruption and the gross misuse of funds, however as someone rightly put it, “Brazilians’ main form of protest was really just waiting until the tournament started to go all-in.” Once the first game had begun, the flags were flying¬†high. Speaking of the tournament beginning, I guess I’ll start there…

Brazilians are pretty low-key...

Just another low-key supporter.

The host-country always plays in the first¬†game and this year Brazil kicked off the tournament on Thursday, June 12¬†against Croatia. This was a national holiday in Brazil (as were all Brazil game-days). The game was being played in S√£o Paulo and while we didn’t have tickets, we did have great seats to watch from one of our favorite local bars, Vaca Veia.¬†As was the custom throughout the World Cup, we arrived at the bar 3-4¬†hours early to get the party started and on the day of the opener, even the walk from our apartment to the bar was awesome. There was yellow and green everywhere! The energy was amazing. Although I will admit that that game had some of the tournament’s more¬†questionable calls, Brazil took it 3-1 and it was amazing.

Dropping Colt off with Michelle's nanny and then heading to the game!

Dropping Colt off with Michelle’s nanny and before¬†heading out to watch the game!

Michelle (Joe) and me at Vaca Veia getting ready for the big game!

Michelle (Joe) and me at Vaca Veia getting ready for the big game!

Joe and Michael are ready!

Joe and Michael are ready!

We even convinced Joe to paint his hair green!

We even convinced Joe to paint his hair green!

Everyone's excited!

Excitement!

Victory!

Victory!

That weekend we scheduled our lives around the games, including a full day of feijoada and futebol at Bar des Arts with friends.

Colt, Jack and Mailey being total champs out and about allllll day!

Colt, Jack and Mailey being total champs out and about allllll day!

Moms & babies at Bar des Arts.

Moms & babies at Bar des Arts. Paige – how are you looking so tall here?!

The next big game was, of course, Team¬†USA’s first match¬†on Monday July 16 against our World Cup arch nemesis, Ghana. It was a must-win for the USMNT so¬†to watch,¬†S√£o Paulo’s gringo-nation all piled in at one of our favorite bar/restaurants, BOS BBQ (where one of the owners is an American friend). We rocked out to the national anthem and¬†went absolutely crazy for the entire 90 minutes of soccer.¬†It was a perfect combination of incredibly fun and incredibly stressful as Ghana seemed to out-play us the entire game, though thanks to Clint Dempsy’s unforgettable goal in the first minute and Zusi’s beautiful corner in the 86th, somehow the US came away with the win.

Yesssssss!!!!!

Yesssssss!!!!!

Hudsons & Harpers!

Hudsons & Harpers! 2 stars for the 2 goals & lucky red lipstick.

USA! USA! USA!

USA! USA! USA!

Harpers!

Harpers!

Michael, Pat, Zach and Joe.

Michael, Pat, Zach and Joe.

Parts 2 and 3 coming up next…!

Joint “ONE” Party!

I promise that this is going to be my last post on Colt turning 1 (and soon¬†I’ll post¬†on the World Cup!), but I just had to share these adorable photos of Colt and his friends at their joint birthday celebration. There are 6 babies who are all within 6 weeks of each other – Colt being the youngest of the bunch – so the moms decided it would be fun to celebrate all of our babies turning 1 together. We just met up in the park, played, and then watched them stuff cupcakes in their faces. ūüôā Our dear, talented (and now pregnant!) friend Jana was there to photograph. Enjoy!

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