April 2017 NoVa

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


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




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


Dandelions on the walk to school!


His favorite “flower.”


Park Finn.


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




Hanging out while Colt is in school.


Sweaty after walking home from school.


Doing his best Chris Farley.


I happen to think he is deadly handsome.


And adorable.


This guy too.


We love walking through our neighborhood.


Adventures at the playground across the street.


Colt just started Saturday morning soccer camp for the summer!


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




Matching in the backseat.


Hanging with our neighbors!


Park twins.


Hanging out on the back porch. 


Heart eyes.


Colt takes sticker-time very seriously.


Finn has a different approach.


I love this guy!


And this one!! 

Paige’s Amazing Visit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Our first stop was for welcome donuts!!




Afternoon walk through our neighborhood.


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


A few more treasures.

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


Saturday morning milk and cartoons.


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


More snuggles with the boys.

Afternoon/Evening in Georgetown!


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


Cupcakes and Pedicures! The perfect combo.


Micheal met us out for dinner at The Sovereign.

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


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


Park on the water in Old Town.


Such a scenic place to play!

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


Colt and his buddy Jack at dinner.


Monday morning snuggles and Snap Chat.


One more trip to Sugar Shack for donuts.


Paige helping Colt.


A ramen spot for lunch.


Colt trying his hand at chopsticks.


The master!

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

March 2017 NoVa

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


Colt showing off his muscles during dinner.


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


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

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

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


Kicking off St. Patrick’s Day!

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


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

That afternoon Colt and Finn had a very green lunch.


Green bean starter.


And green pasta!


Finn is a big St. Paddy’s Day fan.

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



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

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


Who is tucking-in who?


Are you kidding me? He’s so cute!


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


Meeting up with our buddies Will & Luke again!


Will and Colt being boys. 

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


Charleston is so beautiful!

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


Stops 1-5




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

Meanwhile, back at the home front…


Finn was being equally sophisticated. 


We LOVE going on walks down our street.


Basement twins.


In flight!


More walks through our neighborhood!

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


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

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


Harper boys coordinating in spring-check.


Michael and Finn.


Pretty impressive face-paint! “ROAR!”

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


Colt adores his cousin Delaney.


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


More basement flying.




Park brothers!


My little grocery store buddy.

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



February 2017 NoVa


Someone got into the Rummikub game during his quiet time and made a little display for me!


Superhero capes!


Michael taking Colt to school – Colt’s favorite!!


Finn needing some extra snuggles. I’ve never been a big baby-wearer but every now and then, we love it.


The best way to start a Saturday!


Family time at Sugar Shack Donuts!


Precious Finn.


“School” with Mom.


He could use a little work in the handwriting department…




And more jammies!


Park time! Finn loves the slides.


Feeding and riding the dino.



February 10-12 was the Women’s Retreat at our church so Michael had the boys solo for the weekend. He was a total overachiever and did things like make them Mickey Mouse pancakes, take them out to the park, go to a friends’ house for a playdate, take them to church and EVEN to Chuck-E-Cheese (which, in retrospect, Michael says was mildly traumatic to do with both kids and only one parent).


Two happy faces.


Make that three.


Park picnics.



I was thankful to have some sweet time away but am always eager to get back home to these faces!


Heart eyes.


Times two.


Finn’s favorite food might be raisins.


His little expressions just kill me!


Love them!

Upon my return, we got ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Colt and I made PINK rice crispy treats with sprinkles to send to school for all of his classmates.


Happy Valentine’s Day from this little heartbreaker.

A true romantic, Michael made sure that Valentine’s Day was special for me too. He got up early that morning and when I came downstairs he had breakfast waiting, flowers all about, cards from him and the boys AND he had reserved me a mani/pedi for that evening before then meeting him out for a dinner date. So thankful for how kind, thoughtful and fun Michael is – he’s always putting in the extra effort to make me feel loved and to make things that much more fun and celebratory.


Cheers! Amazing dinner at Kapnos Taverna.

We were excited to have a dear Phoenix friend, Eric, stay with us while he was in town.


“Chambo” bonding with Finn and Colt.

Mid-February we spent almost a week in Arizona doing a little early celebrating of Sharon’s 70th, but I’ll post separately on that trip next.  Upon our return we enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather!


My Target buddy!


Back yard bros. **Side note: THIS is why we are re-doing our backyard…


Little dirt face.


Penrose Park fun.


Telling stories over lunch.


Finn & grapes.


Meeting Dad at the park after work.


Precious brothers.



At the end of February I flew to SC for a quick weekend visit to spend some time with my grandparents as my grandmother was in the midst of a long recovery/rehabilitation from a broken leg. Michael was a champ-Dad and watched the kids solo for the second time that month!


Morning on the porch.


Sunday morning, ready for church!


But stopping first for donuts!


Little front yard picnic.


And park time.

Meanwhile I was getting special, quality time with these fine people!


Papa and Nannie at the Lowman Home Rehab Center.


My pretty mama with her parents.


Wheeling around the property with my grandparents!


The girls.


Flying home to my boys.

My dad randomly had some business in the area so he had stayed with Michael and the kids the night before I came back home. When I arrived back in Virginia on Monday morning this is the cute little sight that I was greeted with.


Pasha with his grandsons. Starting the morning with milk, coffee and cartoons.

January 2017 NoVa

Even before we returned home from our Christmas and New Years visit in Arizona, Ollie beat us back to the East Coast as he actually had other, unrelated plans in the DC area. So, he stayed an extra day with us and was able to go to lunch with Colt at his school! Love this picture that one of the teachers snapped.


Papa and Colt at FLP lunch time!

We were super excited to get some snow on Colt’s 3.5 yr birthday, Jan 7.


Tennis court snow writing.


Colt! 3.5 yrs old.

Later in the day the snow picked up so we went out for round 2!


The best ride in town.


Following my boys!


Sledding down the hill.


Teaching snow angels.


Love it!

After the snow, we snuggled up by the fire with blankets and hot chocolate. I adore living in a place with 4 seasons.


A wildly impressive snowman the following day with the remaining snow.


Green eggs and turkey roll ups…close enough.


And gingerbread cookie creations!


My little dino.

Sharon & Ollie had a wedding in Virginia so we got another quick little visit from them as they passed through town!


Oliver Joseph with Fincher Oliver.


Colt thinks it’s totally normal to walk around like this…


Block tower creations.


Swing bros.


Slide bros.

During Sharon and Lise’s December visit / babysitting-venture, Lise started teaching Colt this “50, Nifty United States” song. He really picked up on it and, on top of memorizing the song, it sparked an interest in national geography (and international as well). SANTA brought Colt this cool, 51 piece puzzle of the US where most all of the states have their own pieces (sorry New England, some of you have to get lumped together!) and Colt can now do the puzzle solo in minutes (literally, 3 minutes), although admittedly it’s now only 49 pieces as we have permanently lost Oregon and Washington…oops!


Colt and his 50 nifty United States puzzle!

On January 18 (11 days late), we celebrated Colt’s half-birthday at school. His teachers said that they were both summer-birthdays and so they sympathized with kids who didn’t get to celebrate their birthdays at school, so for all of the summer birthdays in the class, they celebrate the half-birthdays.

For the celebration, we were asked us bring treats and prepare a short presentation about how Colt has grown in the past year. We had fun pulling pictures together for a little slideshow about Colt and even brought in a few props. Michael and I sang Happy Birthday in Portuguese but Colt finished it all off by getting up in front of the class and singing the 50 Nifty United States song! The song is adorable but Michael and I were mostly just impressed by his boldness – normally Colt gets very shy in situations like that and isn’t typically comfortable with all-eyes on him. But it was a great testament to how much he has grown in the past year, to the ways that school has helped build his social confidence, and also showed us how comfortable he really is at school with his teachers and classmates. It was a sweet moment.


Lighting the “fake cake” that they use for each birthday.


Blowing out the candles.


Blue rice crispy treats + sprinkles. Colt’s choice…

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 9.08.53 PM

Colt singing his song! 

That weekend we were so excited to see some of our dear friends from our time in Brazil, Brett & Brad. Brad’s twin brother and his wife were also in town so the whole crew stopped by for a few hours of hanging out and playing with the kids.


Hanging with the C0ppens crew!

More January:


Sweet Fincher Face.


Thankful for this park across the street!


Strolling and scooting through the park on the way to school.


Colt can hardly go by a stick without stopping to pick it up. 


Stick scooting.


Harper bros.

Another snowfall!


Finn stole Colt’s hat. 


Colt and Snowman.


Off to sled!


Not a ton of snow but enough for a fun morning of playing outside!


NoVa December 2016

Part 1 of December (before heading to Arizona for Christmas).

We kicked off December with the kids’ first visit with Santa for the season, hosted by our realtor (shout out – Pam Campbell with Century 21 out of Alexandria!). We may have stumbled a little as we explained to Colt why Santa was hanging out at a Century 21 office on a Saturday morning and why Santa was telling me about his previous military career 😉  but overall Colt blindly accepted our lies and went with it. His big ask from Santa this year was to go to Arizona for Christmas! (Spoiler: he got his wish.)


Finn is not quite as comfortable with Santa.


Our family with Pam’s daughter with her husband and two girls. They are long-time family friends and the girls all clown (is that a verb?) and had come from an event that morning!


Colt helping Dad pick out a tree!


Colt and his ever-growing stick collection.


Finn taking after his big brother!


Sneaking by Colt’s classroom after a morning coffee with some parents and caught Colt at the snack table with some of his pals! Adore!!


Boys busy creating.


Jumping in puddles and finding MORE STICKS!

Michael and I wanted to go to New York Dec. 9-11 so to make it possible, Sharon and Lise Harper were so generous with their time and energy and flew across the country to watch our boys for the weekend so that we could get away! They had a great time together and the boys could not have missed us less. 😉


Nana with her two boys.


Colt and Finn giving Lise a neighborhood tour.

In New York, Michael and I stayed with Joe at his cool apartment in NoHo.


We made it!

For dinner Friday night, we met up with Michael’s good friend and law school roommate, Josh. We spent Saturday touring around, seeing the lights, the windows and the tree – so fun to be a tourist in NYC during Christmas.


Christmas in NY.

That night we went to, what was supposed to be a surprise birthday party for one of Michael’s best BC buddies, Jon, which was being thrown by his girlfriend, Katie. It started off with the big surprise at Jon and Katie’s apartment and just when Katie was presenting him with this amazing book that she put together, Jon totally turned it around and PROPOSED to Katie on the spot! He confessed that he had figured out the surprise and decided to take the opportunity to ask her in front of so many dear friends and family. It was such a blast to then get to celebrate his birthday AND their engagement.


The happy couple surrounded by some friends.


Partying with Joe + Vinnay & Thu.

Sunday afternoon we drove back home and when we pulled up to our house…it was THIS DELIGHTFUL SIGHT that greeted us!


Nana, Lise, Colt and Finn had a little Clark Griswold surprise for us!

The crew had lots of little giggles while we were gone, secretly decorating our house with some pretty serious projectors, netted bush lights and a plethora of other festive, GLITTERY creatures to welcome us upon our return. As much as we loved it all, we felt that the numerous, bright orange extension cords and wide open power strips throughout the yard may not be the safest thing for the projected rain the next day BUT it definitely made us laugh and Colt had a blast with it all.


Getting cozy for Christmas!


Painting time in the kitchen.


Festive rice crispy treats! And a great fake-smile to go with them!


I mean…!?


Here is a random comparison shot. Colt is a few months older in his pic but pretty close. They are definitely unique but I do think they favor each other.


Colt in the full-blown madness of the Faith Lutheran Preschool Christmas program.


Faith Lutheran decked out for Christmas.


Caterpillar classroom after-party getting wild. And Finn really just settling himself in for a great rice crispy chomp session.


Colt loves his brother!


Proud of his “bridge” creations.


Swing bros!

Bathroom Reno – Nov. 2016

When we bought our home last year, the one part of the house that gave us pause was the upstairs bathroom.

The house has a finished basement with a rec room, space for guests and a newly renovated full bathroom. There isn’t a bathroom on the main level (the previous owners took out the powder room when they renovated the kitchen and dining area to open things up and it was definitely the right call!), and then the three bedrooms upstairs share a single, full bath. The upstairs bathroom was the one part of the house that hadn’t been updated and it’s a pretty important part since all 3 bedrooms share it! We looked into the possibility of adding another bathroom but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it so instead we decided to simply renovate the existing bathroom to update it and make it more functional for our family.

It’s a small bathroom and we kept all of the fixtures in the same locations but we ripped everything out and replaced it all. Since the bathroom is not large (about 5’x7′) and I wanted it to be simple, with a consistent look and feel to the rest of the house, I felt like I could handle the design aspect and really just wanted to find a company to do the actual work (didn’t want to pay someone to pick out white subway tile for me!). I was pretty shocked and appalled when I started receiving estimates for the job but finally came across a company that was reasonable in terms of pricing and timing (Beautiful Home Services – totally recommend!).

We started the process with BHS by receiving an initial visit and follow up quote. After that, one of the owners came by the house, measured everything, talked through it with me and ultimately sent me a “buy-list” which included things like tile square footage, etc. so that I could start making purchases. We bought our floor tile through The Tile Shop and the mirror is West Elm but everything else was just Home Depot and BHS was actually able to use their account to get further discounts. They picked everything up for us and, once it was all in, they got to work.

There was a crew of 3 guys who did all of the work, ripping everything out down to the studs, rebuilding a new subfloor, moving a vent, and installing everything. They completed the job in 7 working days which we were really happy with. (All 4 of us relocated to the basement while the work was going on to stay out of the way and out of the dust so I was grateful that the work was quick!)

Now to the fun part – pictures!


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


Finn watching everything get prepped for work to begin!


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


Everything getting ripped out!


Tiles going in!

OK now the before & afters:
BEFORE: Old green tile, no storage, old tub, small mirror, no style!
AFTER: White, bright, and storage!


Before 1


After 1


Before 2


After 2


Before 3


After 3


Before 4


After 4

The vanity and wall cabinet make the bathroom so much more functional for our family and the aesthetic is a major upgrade as well. Thankful we pulled the trigger on this one!