Tag Archives: pups

Spring in Stuttgart

4 Apr

Hello again! I go from MIA for nearly a month to twice in a matter of days! Sheesh. I’m sorry about that. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve got something big in the pipeline- a project that’s been taking up a good bit of my time and that I’m really excited to share with all of you in the very near future. *And before some of you start jumping to (crazy) conclusions, nope, I’m definitely not pregnant, nor adding any living creature to the family 😉 But in all seriousness, it is a venture that I’m pretty damn pumped about and that I’m feeling so, so good about. I promise to share more in the coming weeks!

That being said, let’s consider this a photo dump post because we haven’t had one in a really long time! March was a really busy month around here- you already saw the Retro Classics Car Show and that we had Uncle Andy here to join us for the Bunkerhotel– but we also spent a heckuva lotta time welcoming spring, hanging out with friends, welcoming biergarten season back (hallelujah!), exploring new (to us) haunts in our city, etc.

So in completely random order, I present to you the, ‘Thomas Family Month in Pictures…’ (*warning: it’s alot, like alot alot. 😉 )

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New pants, vintage boots ❤

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The 70s called- they want their look back. Never.

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You know a carwash is the bomb.com when you have to take a picture.

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Thumbs up for new house shoes at school!

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One pup took the other pup’s treat. Can you guess which is which? Ha!

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Afterschool Tea Parties ❤

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When you’re still in a funk from yesterday, but you have to walk the city…1. Ear buds in so no one will talk to you – > No explaining that you don’t speak German. 2. Sunglasses on so no eye contact. 3. Ball cap on to erase any doubt that you’re American. Ha!

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(German) Breakfast of Champions

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Tulip Trees are my favorites ❤ (And Redbuds…)

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Sunrise from my side of the bed…

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Nothing better than homemade frozen yogurt pops after school!

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Slumber Parties ❤

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When you don’t know if it’s because you just got out of school for the day, or if it’s that it’s finally feeling like spring, or if it’s that the sun is out for the fourth (!) day in a row…You’re just…THANKFUL.

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Saturday morning farmers market ❤

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When you see one of these in your mailbox, it’s a great day. When you see 5…It’s like freakin’ Christmas! Bring on the packages!

Sunday afternoon at the Stuttgart Planetarium. Neve’s first such experience- she LOVED it.

Another Sunday afternoon at the local biergarten with friends…

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Pretty impressed with myself for creating this Stuttgart skyline…

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Beauty and the Beast in 3D ❤

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She loved this outfit she picked all by herself ❤

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Stuttgart Opera House

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New Palace

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Whew! I warned you it was alot! Ha! Thanks for sticking it out with me. I promise I’m going to try to do better this month. For now, I’m going to try to contain my excitement as my mom gets here in 36 hours!! Total last minute surprise trip just in time for my birthday this weekend (and Easter the following) and I simply can’t think of a better gift than having her here. In many ways, it’s been a very challenging season for my whole family (will elaborate on that in due time…), so having her here for just a couple weeks is a really good thing for me…and for her. Can. Not. Wait. ❤

Hei again from Norway! (Part 3)

24 Feb

I can’t believe that this time last week we had already taken three flights, been in three different countries and were sitting peacefully in a little cafe having our first homecooked Norwegian meal watching the snow fall outside the window. Not gonna lie, kinda wishing we were back there right about now! Coming home from vacation is always the hardest, amiright?

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So, we saved what turned out to be our best adventure until our last full day in Norway. We knew spending the day dogsledding would be alot of fun- and a definite winner in Neve’s book- but we had no idea just how amazing it would be. Oh. My. Word. Hands down, one of the best true adventures we’ve ever done- and one that we’re still talking about daily. When we were first doing our research, we were so torn as to which ‘tour’ we wanted to do in addition to the Northern Lights. There are so many options- whale watching, fishing, snow mobiling, snow shoeing, hiking…And even after you make the decision, then you’ve got even more options- large company, private guide, full day, half day, evening…We ultimately chose an afternoon of dog sledding with a small company- a husband-wife team who live way out in the wilderness (a little over an hour drive from our hotel) on a neighboring island. They love Alaskan Huskies, own 30 of them, and like to share their passion with visitors. No puppy mill, no looking to become millionaires, no breeding for Iditarod racing…Just going to their house (the business is on the ground floor, they live above) for an afternoon of fun and adventure. It was the perfect fit for us.

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We arrived just before lunchtime and spent the first little while with the wife- learning all about the sleds, the dogs, how to ‘drive,’ what to do when you’re falling over and going to bust…Ha! Next, we set off down the road another mile or so where we met up with the husband, the ‘musher’ of the operation. He had all the pups harnessed and ready to go with each of our sleds. He’d also just gotten back from a run up the mountain on the snow mobile because it was snowing so hard that day that it was impossible to see any of the paths we’d be taking!

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All ready to go!

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And with that, the eight of us and our dog teams loaded up in our respective sleds and started up the mountain behind Thomas (the husband). John started out as the musher, so Neve and I rode shotgun in the sled ❤

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I actually took this picture on accident not realizing I had my camera flipped around, but it turned out to be one of my favorites. We were whizzing down a hill at this moment and John was out of breath from running and pushing us all the way to the top, but then he saw the view (that I thought I was taking a picture of!) and I caught that moment right here. ❤

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One thing folks don’t realize, or at least we didn’t, is just how much physicality is involved with dog sledding. You are NOT just riding on a sled behind a team of dogs. You are WORKING. You’re controlling their path, you’re strategically using the brake to control speed and direction, you’re hoping from one side to the other of the sled to counter balance curves and turns, and most of all, you’re hopping off and running/pushing the sled to help your team make it up any hill whatsoever. Within 10 minutes of starting, you are sweating and out of breath! That’s one of the main reasons we chose this company- we wanted to actually do the sledding rather than just riding in someone else’s sled! All just part of the adventure!

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And we thought our views from our scenic drive were awesome…The views here were INCREDIBLE. Wide open icy tundra as far as you can see, snow covered jagged mountains all around, dense forests lining your path, racing rivers carving their ways through the Earth…And here’s the thing. Yes, it was some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen, but it was more than that. It was that feeling again- that feeling of being part of something so much greater, of realizing just how much is out there that you’ve never seen and never experienced, of how truly grand this Earth really is…Here we were, alone, in this vast, majestic wilderness. No sounds, no buildings, no cars, no other people…Just us. For miles and miles and miles. For hours. It was truly moving…and humbling.

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Halfway through, we switched ‘drivers’ (and got a nice serenade from our pups! Ha!) and I’ve got to say that it was one of the most exhilarating experiences for me. The freedom and the power and even the bit of nervousness that inevitably comes when you’re learning something new…Oh goodness…Yes. Please.

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Amazingly, the sun came out for a few minutes just as we got back, which was nice so we could take a minute and play with the pups. What a sweet group of dogs, and so gentle and kind. And just in case any of you have the same questions that I had…Their pups ranged from 2 years to 12 years, which is the average span of a sled dog’s career. Girls and boys on all teams, lots of brothers and sisters in this group. Girls tend to make better leaders and are therefore, usually at the front. The strongest are generally at the back, leaving the middle spots for newbies and slower dogs. All of them get along well and live together, but the same teams run together at all times (ie. each 6some is set so they each learn their specific roles).

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We even got to meet the next generation before we left! Three pups born just 12 days prior- they had just opened their eyes the night before! What icing on the cake, especially for our girl. There’s nothing better than puppies, is there? They will start training in the summer (sleds with wheels) and should be able to do some short runs by next winter.

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The next generation meeting the next generation ❤

What a perfect afternoon we had- more fun than any of had even hoped for. The perfect Arctic adventure for our last day in Norway. We were famished by the time we got back, so a nice warm meal was first on our agenda- after marveling at how especially pretty the harbor was that night. We found this great little tapas place and just got lots of small plates- smoked reindeer, tacos, mussels, salmon, cheese plates…Have I mentioned I wish were back there right about now?! 😉

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But by the next morning, another blizzard had blown in and we woke up to…

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Saying goodbye to our hotel’s ‘dead polar bear…’ Lord.

It took some doing to actually get to the airport- lots of delays with both traffic and planes!- but ultimately, we made it. We can now say that we know what it’s like to have a truck come to de-ice the plane last thing before takeoff (they have a boom that hovers above and sprays a viscous liquid all over the place!) AND what it feels like to take off in three feet of snow! Ha! Neve also made the most of the airport by becoming best friends with a little girl named Eleanor. No, they didn’t speak the same language, but you sure wouldn’t have known it! I swear my kid has never met a stranger ❤

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I told John that it’s probably a bad thing to have already taken this trip because now are sure to pale in comparison. This was unlike any trip we’ve ever been on and in all the right ways. It was so perfect for our trio. It’s one that we’ll remember always and always. And the best part is that we knew that while it was happening. We knew to take it all in, to savor it. We knew it was special. And how fortunate we are. ❤

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Thanksgiving in Garmisch

28 Nov

Well, I guess it’s safe to say that we all survived Thanksgiving! And judging from all the social media posts, it looks like everyone had a marvelous time. Even more than usual, I just loved seeing all the festive posts- of my own family celebrating, of friends with their families, of friends like us navigating uncharted holiday waters abroad, of board games and childhood homes and puzzles and full kitchen counters and leftovers and laughter…Those posts made our day all the more special and connected us to that feeling of home just a little bit more. So thank you ❤

Now on to our holiday getaway! Living here in Stuttgart, you hear alot about Garmisch-Partenkirchen, especially among the American community. The main reason for this is because there’s an American resort there- Edelweiss- owned by the Department of Defense and open only to our service members and government civilians stationed in the European theatre. It’s a huge resort with rooms, suites, cabins and camping grounds, along with restaurants, indoor and outdoor pool areas, onsite activities and excursions. For those of you with littles, it kinda reminds you of a Wolf Creek Lodge.

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So, we didn’t actually stay at Edelweiss. For a couple reasons. First, when we travel, it’s important to us to be part of the culture we’re visiting- to interact with the locals, to eat at their top recommended restaurants, to walk their streets in search of the perfect magnet for our collection…Second, we really wanted to take the pups with us for the festivities and wanted a hotel that really helped in that department. So we ended up with the best of both worlds- staying at the lovely Alpina Hotel downtown Garmisch (can’t say enough good things about this one, so if you’re researching lodging, look no further!) for a few nights, but eating a delicious Thanksgiving feast with our fellow Americans at Edelweiss. Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect blend!

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Let me back up and then we can work our way to the turkey…Garmisch-Partenkirchen is an Alpine mountain town on the German-Austrian border (as far south in Germany as you can get). (About an hour of our 2.5 hour drive was actually in Austria, then we crossed back over for the final few miles.) Its claims to fame are its lovely Bavarian hospitality, its marvelous winter sports offerings, being home to Germany’s two highest peaks- Zugspitz and Alpspitz- and the great outdoors. It was even home to the 1936 Winter Olympics, of which the stadium and the downhill jump still stands. More on that in a sec…

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We absolutely loved the feel of this town. You know, I say ‘town,’ but it’s definitely a city and way bigger than we expected. It’s a lovely mix of modern amenities and that Austrian Alpine village feel we’ve grown to adore. Main street is 4-6 lanes with North Face stores and banks, but then one turn and you’re on a quaint residential avenue with picket fences and (cold hardy??) flowers. Something else we loved? Being in Bavaria! Always our favorite neck of the German woods. And I know we’ve talked about Bavaria on here before, but just for any newbies- Bavaria is the southernmost region of Germany and it reminds us the most of home, the southeastern US. It’s known for having friendly people, great homestyle cooking, never ending beer, timbered buildings and celebrations galore! What’s not to love, right?!

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We arrived just after lunch on Wednesday and let Neve decide the afternoon’s plans. Can you guess what she chose? Um, how about the pool and spa?! And we had it all to ourselves! WINNING!

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Finishing Day 1 with one of the most delicious meals we’ve had since we moved to Germany! And look at those salad greens piled high- that’s saying ALOT!

Thanksgiving Day was definitely a very different bag for us from the moment our feet hit the floor. No getting up early to get cookin’, no rushing to my parents’ house to help with setup, no watching the Macy’s Parade or football (although John did stay up until after midnight watching his Cowboys win!), no hugging necks and catching up with friends and family that we don’t see as often as we’d like…So yeah, that meant we needed a plan for both relaxation and for staying busy. And yes, for getting some traditional grub in our bellies at some point! Well, I’m pleased to say that we did all of the above. We started our day with a relaxing sauna and swim, then headed to see the 1936 Olympic Stadium and downhill jump. Next, was the highlight of our entire trip- hiking the Partnach River Gorge, then a late lunch/early dinner reservation for Thanksgiving dinner. And after a sunset stroll- a hot chocolate pit stop- through downtown Garmisch, we finished our holiday just as it had began, with another swim and a sauna ❤

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It’s ridiculous how much I love saunas. The only thing that could’ve made this one, which I had all to myself this morning, better would’ve been having my Dad there to enjoy it with me. There’s no question that I come by it naturally 😉

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It’s like a small highschool football stadium…

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Standing inside Olympic Stadium looking up the downhill jump…

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Can’t you just imagine the Opening Ceremonies here nearly a century ago?

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Pictures can’t do this jump justice. It is HUGE. Like, you couldn’t pay me enough money to ski down it! John was in awe of the construction. (And yes, it’s still operational in the winter.)

To get to the Partnach Gorge, you park at Olympic Stadium and hike about 30 minutes to the gorge. The gorge is another 45 minute or so hike- then it spits you out in the most beautiful valley at the end. Then you hike back.

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The Partnach Gorge is a deep (nearly 300 feet) gorge that has been incised my the Partnach mountain stream, which is fed from the Schneeferner glacier on the Zugspitz plateau. Cool factoid: In the Triassic Era, about 240 million years ago, on the bed of a shallow sea, dark grey, relatively hard layers of Alpine stones were laid down in the area of the present day Partnach Gorge. On the bead-like strata of this rock, the traces of the burrowing and feeding of marine animals can still be seen. It was designated a national monument in 1912.

And two things I want to share before the good stuff (ie. the pictures!): 1. John and I have talked about our morning in this gorge several times over the last several days and both agree that it’s, hands down, one of the coolest things we’ve done. And y’all know we’ve sure done alot of stuff to compare it to! And 2. We are both so bummed with these pictures because they just don’t even begin to do it justice. The least I can do is set the scene for you a bit…You’re walking on a 2 foot wide gravel pathway just a few feet above the loud, roaring water and rocks below. The waterfalls from above not only add to the power and the noise, but they make it feel like there’s a constant misty drizzle. And as the path goes in and out of the side of the mountain, it’s as black as night. Y’all. WOW.

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Looking straight up from the water to the sky…

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Hundreds of these waterfalls…

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The valley at the end of the gorge…

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Edelweiss did a really great job with their Thanksgiving Feast. Seriously. We had no idea what to expect going into it. Was it a hotel restaurant? Would there be alot of people? Would the food be traditional? Or at least good? Well, they really came through. Not only did they use their restaurant, but they used all their conference rooms, too, including one dedicated just to the buffet! And I don’t even mean buffet in the traditional S&K Cafeteria sense- I’m talking lots of round tables set up all over the place! One with cheeses and breads. One with salads. One with side dishes. One with ‘kid-friendly’ dishes. One with chefs carving all the different meats. Desserts and froo-froo coffees even got their own ROOM! And the food was good and plenty varied, sure to give everyone at least 80% of the foods they’re hoping to see for the holiday. The only glaring food omission for us? Green beans! Who has a Thanksgiving feast without these staples?! Ha! Hundred of people, just like us, enjoying each other and feeling as close to home as we could. It was lovely.

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Headed into dinner…

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View from dinner…

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Full bellies, full hearts. Happy Thanksgiving.

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And y’all know we wouldn’t let our pups miss out on the holiday deliciousness! We took them home a perfect little doggy box with turkey, sweet potatoes, a small roll and one chicken nugget (thanks, Neve.)

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LOTS of beautifully painted buildings in Bavaria…

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Before heading home on Friday, we had one more place to visit…Mittenwald. Another smaller town about 30 km away. It’s known for two things: being the birthplace of violins and for being the prettiest place in Bavaria. We’d heard that it was well worth the drive out of the way, not just for the town itself, but for the drive to get there, too. Um…YES PLEASE. Let’s just say it was the perfect end to our Alpine Thanksgiving getaway ❤

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Throwing the ball for the girls…

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Trying to get a damn decent picture! Ha!

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Best I could do. I LOVE Meg’s side eye in this one.

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We hope you all had the most wonderful Thanksgiving and that your holiday season is gearing up to be a great one- ours sure is! We got home in time to spend the weekend decorating for Christmas and watching Christmas movies and snuggling while we watched it rain outside. And in less than 3 weeks, we’ll be Charleston-bound…HOME-bound. ❤ #IllbehomeforChristmas ❤

Fall has Arrived!

18 Sep

Greetings from Stuttgart, where the weather has finally started to resemble more of what we know and love for this time of year! I kid you not, it wasn’t until just a couple days ago that we didn’t have a heat index of 90*+. In mid September?! Every time we’ve been here in the fall- including last year when we didn’t even unpack our shorts when we arrived in mid-August!- the temps are already dropping steadily, mornings and nights warrant a jacket and the leaves have tinges of yellows and oranges on their edges…I think Mother Nature felt like she owed us one this year for giving us the never ending spring (we were in fleeces for Memorial Day!), knowing that this southern family needed some decent hot weather! Ha! And she was right- I haven’t minded one bit- bring on the sweat and sunshine! Yep, this has been me ;):

And speaking of sunshine, the downside of German fall? With it comes the rain. Endless, constant dreary. Blech. Today is the perfect example- we went to bed with it raining, woke up to it raining, and it’s still raining now. Hasn’t let up NOT EVEN ONCE. Guess I’ll need to think about getting out my sun lamp 😉

Anyhoo, I guess what I’ve said before holds true- when I go weeks between blog posts, it must mean we’ve been having too much fun- and we have! So I thought this would be a good time to share some pics ❤thumb_img_1243_1024

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One of our all time favorite festivals is Pumpkin Fest. It happens every September in Ludwigsburg, a suburb of Stuttgart, and lasts for almost two months, which means that we normally hit it up at least a couple times. Some of you probably remember my posting about it last year (and also back in 2010 for those of you who have been with us from the start!), but if not, be sure to search for past posts 🙂 There are so many things that make Pumpkin Fest so neat. For starters, it sits on the most beautiful palace grounds and surrounding park. Seriously- you’ve never seen such green grass, such bright flowers and such majestic trees. Second, it’s super family friendly with an entire section of the park designed for kids. Third, you just can’t beat the pumpkin cuisine! And I’m not talking froo froo lattes either- I mean real, top notch food made using pumpkins and gourds! Jambalaya, ravioli, pumpkin fries, squash flatbreads…And yep, pumpkin beer and wine. Duh.

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You’ve also never seen so many pumpkins and gourds! This festival has the world record for the most pumpkins in one place, and it holds the contest for the World’s Largest Pumpkin. (It’s something like 650lbs. and taller than me!)

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In Rapunzel’s tower…

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Look who we ran into! And just in time for the kids’ park! They loved this boat ride through the forest.

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Last week had two pretty cool events. First, we threw an end of summer BBQ for our tribe. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being here, in this situation, would be so much different- so much more challenging, not to mention just plain sadder!- without these people. Together, all of our families make up one big family of friendship, of love, of support, of comfort…Love getting to share this extended family with my folks, too. Wish I had more pictures to share from a super fun night, but we were all too busy ‘feeling American’- eating pulled pork (yep, my dad can even do killer pig in the oven! Ha!), laughing and watching football, complete with American commercials! It’s the little things ❤

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The other big milestone was that our girl started her last year of preschool! Holy cow, how is that even possible?! It feels like just yesterday we were walking into Ms. Lori’s class at Bethany UMC, Neve with a backpack bigger than she was and this mama with tears in her eyes. Oh how she’s grown in just these last few years and oh what a trailblazer she’s becoming.

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When you’re trying to read along on the Kindle, but your Poppy gets distracted…

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View from our bed. I absofrigginlutely love living in the heart of a huge city.

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What this southern girl does with leftover pulled pork…

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If everyone could say a quick prayer for my girl, Dulcie. She’s been having some pretty serious health issues this last week and we’d sure appreciate as many prayers as we can get!

And finally, this weekend marks the ‘end of Fest Season,’ which meant that we celebrated the only way possible- going to not one, but two, fests! (Still not sure how they figure the ‘end’ as they’re in the process of setting up the next one as I type, but who am I to question a good thing…Ha!) Nothing better than being outside all day long surrounded by pretty scenery, artists, crafters, games and deliciousness!

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Gerber Fest, just out of our front door…

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Y’all, this girl was a ROCKSTAR at the rock climbing wall! Seriously, John and I were so shocked and so proud. She made it all the way to the top completely unassisted AND with the wall tilted in at the top! Need to find her a gym stat!

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Perfect space for a fest, right?

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She was as fearless here as on the rock wall! All the way across the lake- going fast!- all by herself!

And there you have it- a glimpse into our last two weeks of fun, of saying goodbye to summer, of taking care of sweet Dulcie, of enjoying the life that’s filling our walls (still so nice to have my parents here for a couple more weeks), and of looking forward to all that’s still to come. Speaking of which, on Thursday, we’re headed to Munich to meet friends for Oktoberfest! And no worries, zillions of pictures to come! 😉

Hope everyone has a great week!

Weekend Mash-Up

23 May

Happy Monday, y’all! After looking at the forecast, I purposefully saved this post until today for the total irony of it all. The weather here on Friday, Saturday and Sunday was to die for. And we were outside just about every single hour possible on those days, welcoming Spring (er, isn’t it technically almost summer??)…for the third time this year. Jeez. As I type this, it’s pouring down rain so hard that I can barely see the TV Tower that I wrote about yesterday and it’s a frigid 53*F, two degrees colder than when I walked Neve to school earlier this morning. Yeah. FML.

What better time to reminisce about warmer, sunnier times, right? Yep, join me as I reminisce all the way back to this past weekend, when we ate every single meal outside, when John and I had our first date night (to the oldest restaurant in Stuttgart, btw) in months, when we strolled through the farmers markets, when we loaded up the pups and headed out to the country side to feel the cool grass beneath our feet and the sunbeams on our faces…

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Showing off her toy store find (Princess Elsa) that she bought with her own piggy bank money…

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Oldest restaurant in the city…

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Not sure how I’d get through my Sunday ride without her enthusiastic support… 😉

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Searching for the missing tennis ball…Coincidentally, in the distance on the left, you can see the TV Tower. I told you it’s pretty visible from wherever you are! Ha!

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And now here’s the silver lining for this crummy weather that moved in here since some of these were taken just yesterday: Friday we are beach-bound and headed for Portugal for 6 days! It’ll be our first time in the country and it’s one that’s been on our Bucket List for forever, so to say we’re excited is an understatement! Months ago, we decided to combine Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day all into one big Portuguese celebration. We’re staying right on the beach outside of Lisbon, so hopefully it’ll be the perfect spot to do some sand lounging (pray for good weather, please!) and some city seeing. And hopefully that means that some pretty pictures- and fun blog posts- are pretty much a given 🙂  Stay tuned!

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Already Friday!

18 Mar

*Just so I don’t forget, for those of you who follow along on Facebook, I’m going to be taking a little hiatus and deactivating my account this weekend. (Doesn’t everybody just need a little break every now and then?) So please be sure you’re subscribed to the blog (click the button on the righthand side –>) so you won’t miss when we have new posts!

You probably won’t notice, but I titled today’s post as a direct wink to my last one, which happened to be ‘Finally Friday!’ (I’m so clever, right?) This week has flown by and in a good way because we’ve had some really good stuff going on! For starters, we got in a terrific date night where I left off last week- tried a new rustic German restaurant that totally hit the mark on all fronts, especially with their in-house cut charcuterie. O. M. G.

In even bigger news, Uncle Andy arrived last Saturday! Honestly, I’m not sure who was more excited- us or him!

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See what I mean? Ha!

So let me back up and fill in any of you who don’t know who Uncle Andy is exactly. Well for starters, he’s not technically Neve’s uncle because he’s not technically mine or John’s brother. But he might as well be. You see, we met Andy in 2004 when John started working at SPAWAR in Charleston. I met him- and his girlfriend at the time (she was a troll, btw)- at the office Christmas party that year- and the group of us, along with several others, became fast friends. We formed a weekly trivia team (we won more times than not!), we boated every weekend, we ate food. After a few years, Andy ended up needing a place to live, so he moved in with us. What a fun few years we had all living under one roof! (John’s brother, Mark, even lived with us for part of that time, so it was especially good times!) And he wasn’t just family to John and me, but to our whole family. Holidays, celebrations, hard times…We were all family and still are to this day. Eventually, Andy decided to put down some roots and buy a house of his own- a mile down the street from us. A couple years later, Neve came along and it was love at first sight for she and her Uncle Andy. They’ve had their own special bond ever since. So yeah. Not sure whether I’d call him a brother or a best friend or just an integral part of our lives, but whatever he is, he’s family. ❤

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Three weeks old…

The weather has been fantastic this week for the most part, other than one random day of snow. Yeah, mid march and we’re over here with snow! Ha!

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Ummmm?

But other than that, we’ve been able to get out a good bit and soak it all in. We have a lovely park just up the hill from our house- it has three playgrounds, lots of walking paths among the vineyards and some great wide open spaces for the pups to let loose. And as of this week, it has flowers! Spring is coming, dammit!

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We were so excited to introduce Andy to our friends. They’ve all heard so much about each other, that I just couldn’t wait for everyone to put faces with names. What better time and place for introductions that with our neighbor, Collins’, birthday at the best burger joint we’ve discovered in Stuttgart!? It was seriously the best night we’ve had in AGES. It was so easy and comfortable and FUN. John said that it felt so much like ‘home’ and he’s right- it really did. It’s amazing how quickly- and genuinely- people become YOUR people.

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Not sure what we’d do without this group right here. Just so you know who you’re looking at, starting on the left…Abigail and Collins live next door to us on top of the shopping mall. They’re from the DC area by way of Minnesota and Camaroon. Their daughter, Amalie, is 2 1/2 and the sweetest little thing. She’s a firecracker like Neve. They’re due with Baby #2 in July. Matt and Emma live a train stop away also downtown and are from Summerville just like us, so not sure how we never crossed paths until we got all the way over here! Their girls, Emmie (6) and Ellie (1), are as different as night and day, but both just so awesome and Neve things they’re terrific. This tribe makes my heart happy.

Not much too picture worthy the rest of the week. We’ve just been exploring the city, visiting the bases, playing on playgrounds…Neve is absolutely adoring having Uncle Andy here. As you can see, he’s up for just about anything- human slide, playing with princesses, snuggling before naptime (although no one tops Daddy Snuggles 🙂 )…

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And before I forget, I just want to share how insanely proud I am of my girl and her swim lessons! She can now jump- or be tossed!- into the deepish (5′) end without anyone in the water, bounce off the bottom and swim to the side! All by herself! Long story short, but we haven’t had the easiest go of learning to swim over the last 2 years (yes, that’s how long we’ve been trying to learn!), so to see her so comfortable and confident around the water is amazing. And she loves her teacher, Mr. Isaac. Like love loves him. He’s from Uganda and has been here for 2 years- and is phenomenal with kids. About a month ago, we were walking home from school and she started giggling and blushing and finally said, ‘Mom, I can’t wait to see Mr. Isaac today. He is SOOOOOO handsome like a prince!’ It was the most precious thing!

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That’s about it from these parts! We are excited for the weekend just so we can all be together without pesky work or school getting in the way! Ha! We’re hoping to head south to Lake Constance to visit Affenberg Salem, aka Monkey Mountain. It’s a sanctuary for primates (and storks??) where you can roam freely with them on acres and acres. Sounds like a blast, right?! Best part, it’s supposed to be around 50F and partly sunny both days! I know, I know. Pretty bad when this southern girl is getting excited for weather descriptions like this!

And one last thing. My dear friend, Eleanor, had back surgery last week and has not had the best first week of recovery. If everyone could say a little prayer for her- we are sending the biggest hugs! Eleanor, Neve wanted to take this pictures just for you ‘so you would smile.’ ❤

 

Let Us Be Thankful

26 Dec

Several years ago, I ended up on some antibiotic that made falling asleep next to impossible. So at about 3a one night, when I was researching ‘tips for falling asleep quicker’ for the umpteenth time, I came across a Christian blog that suggested closing your eyes, relaxing every single muscle in your body, and then going one by one through all the good things that happened that day. Then, if you’re still awake, you expand the practice to the things you’re most thankful for in your life. To this day, I go to sleep doing this every single night. Sometimes I only get to one thing before I drift off…Others, I get much further down my list. Regardless, I really do find it to be a wonderful way to fall asleep each night…and a wonderful reminder to focus on what’s most important and let go of what’s not. So in honor of this wonderful Christmas weekend, I want to share with you just a glimpse into my list. And tonight when you go to sleep, I invite each of you to give it a try. Don’t worry about the order, the organization or trying to sound eloquent…Just start with, ‘Thank you for…’ and let it flow. ❤

Thank you for another day. One that I was able to wake up, to see this beautiful Earth, to hear all of its musics, to smell everything from the rain getting ready to fall to the aromas drifting down the street from the bakeries. Thank you for helping me to remember that each day is a privilege, not a given.

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Thank you for belly laughs. The good, deep down, stomach-hurting, tears-rolling, almost-pee-myself laughs.

Thank you for John. I have no idea what I did to deserve him, but there really are no words to express just how thankful I am to have him as my husband. We are such opposites in so many ways, but when you strip away all the little things, we’re so much alike on the big things. It is because of him that so many parts of my life are full, complete…alive. He is the yin to my yang, the macaroni to my cheese, the heart to my soul.

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That moment when you’re lunching with a girlfriend and realize that the hot guy you just noticed on the other side of the restaurant is actually your husband. #fancyseeingyourhere

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Thank you for the most awesome kid on the face of the planet- for letting me be her mom. She is a handful and she keeps me on my toes (just about) every minute of every day, but she is amazing. She is sensitive and sweet and has the biggest heart. She has the enthusiasm and charisma you usually only see in movies. She is as stubborn and determined as a mule and as curious as they come- that’s how I know that there’s nothing she can’t do. She’s genuinely funny and she’s silly- her laugh…oh, her sweet laugh. Yes, thank you for making her my daughter.

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Thank you for a good cry every now and then- the kind that cleanses my soul and leaves me feeling relaxed and renewed.

Thank you for one terrific family. And for making it possible for them to be here with us this holiday season. This Christmas proved to be more challenging than I’d anticipated in that everything was just…different. Holiday routines, shopping, delicious haunts…even the mundane chores felt off. But what was reinforced was something I already knew…As long as we’re together, we have it all.  My family may be small, but we’re all we’ve got and it’s more than enough. Love like ours- bonds like ours- are to be cherished.thumb_IMG_6861_1024

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Thank you for this. ❤

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Thank for cheese. And for making even the most gourmet bricks of it cheaper than a Happy Meal here in Europe.

Thank you for Game of Thrones. My latest obsession. I ❤ Tyrion Lanister.

Thank you not only for making this chapter of our lives possible, for giving me the strength and courage to do it. I wrestled for so long over whether or not this was the right path for us, so to have that sense of peace knowing that we made the best decision is just awesome. Thank you for reminding me of what a gift we’ve been given with this opportunity and to live this life to the fullest for as long as we can.

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Thank you for Girly Day Trips to the Black Forest…

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Thank  you for dispelling the myth that the French know how to do bread. Truth is, Germans know bread. 300+ delicious varieties and I intend to try every single one.

Thank you for my two seriously awesome dogs. Wallflowers just couldn’t have cut it in this house. Despite all their snoring and tooting and sometimes-questionable habits, we hit the pup jackpot. Snuggly, playful, and full of so much personality.

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Thank you for all of my friends back home. Being away from friends and family has been the single hardest part of this new chapter, but the simple fact that they go out of their ways to keep in touch and that they continue watering the garden that is our friendship, makes my heart so full. THANK YOU. I truly believe what they say is true: distance makes no difference in true friendship.

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Thank you for bringing such good people into our lives since we got to Germany. It has made all the difference in the world, not just meeting people so we don’t feel alone, but making friendships we truly see lasting a lifetime.

Thank you for giving us three years off from doing our own yard work.

Thank you for my grandmother. The older I get, the more I realize how blessed I am- to have my grandmother with me on this Earth, to consider her such a dear friend, to watch my daughter make memories with her great-grandmother, to have her travel all this way just to be with us…

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Thank you for our awesome gift to ourselves, our new indoor cycle.

Thank you for letting this Commissary sell grits. And Krispy Kreme.

Thank you for Christmas Markets all over the place. They are awesome.

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Thank you for all the advancements in technology…FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, social media, Apple TV, Hulu…I have absolutely no clue how people did it before these were available.

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Thank you for letting our house truly become a home this holiday season. For filling its walls with our people…With love and laughter and the smell of coffee brewing before I even come down the stairs…With bed time hugs to go around and dinners prepared in groups.

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Thank you for Elli B., best life coach on the planet.

Thank you for healing my Dad and my Grandmother and for keeping them healthy and cancer-free. Hard to believe that just two Christmases ago we were in a terrible nightmare.

Thank you for making this Christmas a very special one. Yes, it was different (first one I’ve ever spent not in my parents’ living room on Pine Grove!), but it was still us. And it was still the most perfect mess in the middle of our floor and the most delicious food on our table. Thank you for making these things possible.

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Thank you for bringing Kathrin into our lives to help make our transition as smooth and seamless as humanly possible.

Thank you for allowing us to cross off ‘Holidays in Switzerland’ from our Bucket Lists. Bright and early tomorrow morning, we will hop on a southbound train in search of snowy peaks, warm fondue and candle-lit alleys…

Thank you for all the many blessings that we have, including all the ones we take for granted day in and day out. For the roof over our heads, the clothes on our backs, and the sun on our faces. Thank you for keeping us safe, healthy and moving in the right direction, whichever way that is for each of us.

And finally, thank YOU to each and every one of you who has joined us on this journey. Thank you for stopping by our blog, for keeping in touch, for keeping us in your prayers and sending us well wishes. It means so much.

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases and a wonderful 2016.

 

A Day at the Park…

12 Nov

Happy Belated Veterans Day! Thank you to everyone who has served or is serving now…I speak for all of us when I say that words can’t express our appreciation.

We enjoyed the holiday as a perfect opportunity to spend the day together in the middle of the week. It was lovely. We had a lazy morning, then ventured out to find the best little brunch spot called Zimt und Zucker (Cinnamon and Sugar).

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Then we headed up the hill in search of playgrounds and open fields- stumbled upon a new-to-us park that more than fit the bill. Right on the side of the hill was all of the above, plus a biergarten (closed for winter) and a vineyard. Needless to say, the five of us had a blast enjoying our day full of sunshine, pretty colors, pretty city views and a warmish breeze. ❤

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One of three playgrounds in the park...In an old rock quarry...

One of three playgrounds in the park…In an old rock quarry…

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My big kid at heart!

My big kid at heart!

Vineyards over Stuttgart

Vineyards over Stuttgart

Looking out over Stuttgart East...Our house is just out of the shot on the lefthand side, behind the tree...

Looking out over Stuttgart East…Our house is just out of the shot on the lefthand side, behind the tree…

The pups and I finished the day with a little photo sesh. They’re such good sports 🙂

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Hope everyone’s having a great week! Talk soon!

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Well, hello there!

16 Sep

I know, I know…it’s been 6 months since I last posted!  I’m a horrible blogger!  I have no excuses…Oh wait, but I do…I’ve had a (not so new anymore) permanent guest in my house! Ha!  Goodness gracious, you guys weren’t kidding when you said that extra time would be in short supply!  Sheesh!

In all honesty, though, I think I’m finally to the point where I’ve can wrap my brain around everything and get back to something I’ve always loved the most…sharing all of our adventures with all of you!  I’ve missed you!  Luckily, I’ve seen many of you- at least here and there- in these last 6 months, so this will just be like filling in some of the gaps :).  Anyhoo, my plan is to go about things a little differently than I have before…I’m going to have to do a little backtracking to catch myself up!  Heck, we went to Jamaica for the first time in April- and absolutely, positively LOVED it!- and I didn’t even get a chance to tell you about it!  We’ve also been to Alaska and I’ve got nearly 400 pictures to whittle down!  Not to mention that our Miss Neve is now a whopping 8 months old!  Jeez!  Time fly much?

So…I guess I’ll start with some of our favorite pics of Little Miss since we last talked…So basically 3 months until today :).  Then my goal is to do a Jamaica post or two, followed by some Alaska posts…Wish me luck!

End of March 2012 (Neve was 10 Weeks Old)…4 Generations…

Neve’s first Flowertown Festival, April 2012, 11 weeks old…

Easter Weekend 2012 with the Thomas Clan in Gatlinburg, TN…Neve was soon to be 12 weeks old…

Heading to Sunday Brunch…14 weeks old…

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Myrtle Beach, SC…4 months old…

18 Weeks Old

18 Weeks Old

18 Weeks Old

18 Weeks Old

Meeting Aunt Sam for the first time…Early June…Neve was 21 weeks old…

Poolside, early July…Neve was almost 24 weeks old…

Cincinnati, OH…4th of July Weekend…

First trip to Kentucky…Up on the Hill…July 2012

6 Month Check Up…Happy Girl…

Front porch pool day…August 2012…Neve was 28 weeks old…

August 2012

Neve and her Poppy 🙂

She LOVES Little Gym! Almost 30 weeks old…

Almost 7 months old…

Hanging out with Uncle Mark and Aunt Bethany…

Uncle Andy ❤

Celebrating our new jogging stroller…Late August…

She LOVES riding in the buggy…and she loves Trader Joe’s 🙂

LOVES her bike…

September 2012…

An Afternoon with Grandma 🙂

8 Months Old…Taken just a few days ago 🙂

OK, so you’re all caught up, right?! Ha!  I know, there’s no way to possibly catch you up with just a handful of pictures of our girl to cover the last 6 months, but at least you get the jist!  She’s growing like a weed- 90th percentile still for height and weight!  In a nutshell…she sits, she rocks on all fours, she loves downward dog pose (for you non-yogis, that’s all fours but with feet instead of knees)…She laughs and squeals ALL the time :)…She still furrows that brow, but not near as often…Still adores her bath time- and all water, for that matter…Enjoys just about any fruits or veggies we’ve put in front of her- her favorites probably being sweet potatoes, bananas, prunes and green beans…She prefers restaurants that provide free bread for her to gum while we eat- as well as ones with comfy high chairs as she now REFUSES to do any meal in her carrier and not at the table with the rest of us ;)…Her favorite things on Earth are her pups and being outside 🙂  Life is swell.

Next up…our Jamaica trip, where Neve turned 10 weeks old!  Thanks for joining us…AGAIN! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Month 2…Gone??

13 Mar

Hey, y’all!  Can you believe it?  It’s been over four weeks since my last post, which means that Neve is already two months old!  Time is flying so quickly here in the Thomas household…Although that’s not to say that some days go more quickly than others- say, the ones when John’s gone on work travel and Neve’s having a growth spurt!  Ha!

In all seriousness, though, Neve is doing wonderfully and I just wanted to take a second to share some picture proof :).   First, what can I tell you about Miss Neve…Hmmm…She is growing- and changing- so quickly that I find myself wanting to freeze time occasionally.  We found ourselves impatiently waiting on that elusive first ‘real’ smile for what felt like an eternity…knowing that it would melt our hearts for sure!  And it did. 🙂  Just in the last 10 days, she’s really started smiling, laughing and getting excited.  It’s awesome…And makes us so excited to know that it’s only going to increase!  She loves everything that lights up, blinks, glitters, etc.  Loves being outside, windows, glass doors…She prefers real music to the lullaby ‘baby’ versions and isn’t really a fan of anything that vibrates…The swing is growing on her, though only the front to back motion- not the side to side.  Still adores bathtime, both in her own tub or with us in the big soaker tub- will float there and let you pour water over her- face and all- for as long as you want to.  Lotion time afterwards?  Not so much- you’d think we were cutting her arm off just about any time she’s naked and not in the tub!  Although, I will say that she’s getting better about it, though, as we maybe she’s coming to the realization that it’s going to happen every single day of her life :).  She’s discovered the front-facing baby carrier and absolutely loves it- definitely her daily walk vehicle of choice :).  Still not a fan of the carseat, the Bumpo seat or tummy time, but again, we work on all daily…

John just got home from his second work trip since her birth…It was the Hawaii trip we were all supposed to go on, but at the last minute, the trip got moved up (to early March instead of April), so Neve and I decided that we’d just wait and go with him the next time, over the summer.  As a consolation, though, John thought it would be nice for the three of us to still have our ‘first family vacation’ as planned, so he took it upon himself to plan a quick tropical trip to a place we’ve never been- a place we could all discover it together…a real adventure.  So this time next week, we will be heading to Jamaica for a week of sun, sand, waves…and learning to vacation with a newborn 🙂  CAN. NOT. WAIT.  (One of the) best parts?  This blog will finally get back to its travel roots!  So stay tuned for updates from the Caribbean!

One month old...2-12-12

Happy Valentine's Day 🙂

Told you she loves bathtime! 🙂

Three of our four generations...5 Weeks Old...

Meeting Uncle Mark for the first time...with Aunt Bethany 🙂

With Daddy

Playtime before bedtime...

Tummy time, 6 Weeks Old...

Only Charleston could have such perfect porch weather in February...

This is deceptive...So far, she hates the Bumpo! Approximately 7 seconds after this picture, she was screaming! Ha!

First day we discovered that Neve loves the carrier...as long as she's facing FORWARD! 🙂

Sister playtime 🙂

7 Weeks Old...

Napping with her brother...

Our happy girl 🙂

Quiet time daydreaming out the window...

Laughing at Poppy 🙂

8 Weeks Old...

Sending love to my JT while he's away 🙂

So there you have it, just a glimpse into our second month having this awesome little person here with us.  She really is neat and we can’t wait for all of you who haven’t met her to meet her!  You’ll surely be smitten :).  And in the meantime, here’s our latest Nest Pic, taken this past Thursday.  ‘Til next week from paradise…

Neve is 8 Weeks Old!

 

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