Thursday, June 21, 2018

5 Tips for Buying Your Dream Home

We have officially been homeowners for a year and almost three months.  In just 45 days we started the house hunt, put an offer in on two houses, got our offer accepted on one, got the house inspected, agreed on repairs, waited, waited, waited and finally closed on our dream home.

But it felt like so much longer.

Here's my five tips for buying your dream home.

1. Patience.  I have friends that closed faster than us and friends that endured a painful 90 day closing.  House buying is a lot of back and forth and waiting around.  It really isn't much fun for those who don't have patience (my husband..).

Can we just pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that all things "adulting" require WAYYYY too much patience?!

2. Know what you want.  That market in our town is INSANE.  Unless your house has some really extreme negatives or you've priced it for more than it is worth and aren't willing to budge (the first house we offered on)... houses don't stay on the market much longer than a month in this town.  Our house was on the market not even 48 hours before it had 3 offers in on it.  There is absolutely no time to think on it, so you have to know what you want and be willing to make a quick decision.

3. Figure out your giving points.  Originally Rob wanted a 3 car garage, a basement and a second living area.  In this town... our options were EXTREMELY limited.  Our first day out looking we saw 4 houses.  Only one had all 3.  We knew if we wanted to quickly get into a house we needed to figure out what could go as a priority.  For us it was the 3 car garage, as long as the garage was not a standard 2 car garage.  Our home has a 2 car oversized garage, a basement and a second living area.  And I'm happy to report we are all content.

4.  Find a good realtor.  We went with someone I had already met through a playdate I hosted at my house.  Tori was quick and dealt with everything we threw at her.  We are the people that know what we want and aren't afraid to be a little bit aggressive.  Tori kept us in check and got everything done and submitted quickly.  Luckily we didn't have any real negotiations (since there were 3 offers, they asked for best offer from the get go and then picked the best one for them... we won!) but I'm confident no matter what Tori would have been able to get us what we wanted.  A good realtor is key in this very stressful time. You want knowledge and confidence.  Both of which we got.  Plus we came out of the deal with not only a house, but new friends as well! I will never stop thanking you Tori!

5. Don't invest all of your time and energy into making something work that isn't going to happen.  From the very beginning Rob told me to keep an open mind.  He knows that I get attached easily to the idea of things.  We put an offer in on one house.  It was the layout we wanted, but needed some major updating.  They had it priced well above what we wanted to pay for it, so we shot them an offer and they came back to us with a very weak counter.  It was clear they were not going to be negotiating off of their price.  So we walked away.  (They sold it almost 6 months later for what we originally offered them...) Being able to do that is a HUGE deal when it comes to buying a house.  Because we weren't overly invested it wasn't a major loss for us.  Nothing is ever a given until you sign on the dotted lines at closing.

House buying is stressful.  In the year since buying our house we have had small projects and large projects.. there is always something to do.  But having our own space at this time in our life after years of renting is worth it in so many ways.

Do you have any home buying advice?

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Father's Day.

I have known my husband for 11 years this fall. Been dating my husband for 10 years this winter.  And been married to my husband for 9 years next spring.  Somewhere in there it dawned on me that this man would be my person.  My best friend.  My other half.  The one I would start and raise a family with.  Here we are, 3 kids later... and I can honestly say I've never once doubted what this man is capable of and how much he loves the kids and I.  I hope he feels this way everyday, but I really hope he felt how much we love him on Father's Day.

It was a low-key day consisting of brunch, a round of golf (for him) and naps (for the rest of us), finished off with dinner with my parents and sister and an extra large fishbowl of beer to celebrate fatherhood.  Naturally.  The girls, dog and I gifted him a personalized coffee mug that will probably become a new pen cup at work, along with a card personalized by Grace herself.  I don't think a single thing we gave him meant as much as the girls telling him on repeat all day long "Happy Father's Day!"  There is just something about parenthood that humbles a person.

Growing up I always had a good model of how a father should be.  My parents are still married.  My dad is an encyclopedia of knowledge and wisdom.  My parents successfully raised two daughters, that I would say aren't a burden to society (well, my sister maybe - ha ha - just kidding, Erin!).  My dad worked his butt off to instill a good Catholic foundation, the true meaning of hard work, and the word respect.  To this day I am still forever thankful that he's there for me as my dad and holds the special title of "gaga" (Grandpa) in such high regards.

Being surrounded by these men (among many, many others) both on Father's Day weekend and everyday - I can say I am very very lucky.

One final note from Father's Day and the weekend as a whole --- a special thank you goes to my husband for holding down the fort with all three kids Saturday afternoon so that I could go drink wine with my mom and a crew of other ladies from the country club.  We were driven to KC Wine Co. (local friends - you MUST check this out!), given a flight of wine, a free drink of our choice and the most amazing scenery to unwind with.  It was a great afternoon away from my crew, and would not have been possible without my husband, super dad.  So thank you, babe.

Happy Father's Day to all the people lucky enough to call themselves a dad.  You deserve all the love, laughs and beers, on Father's Day and everyday.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Emily | Two Month

Our sweet little lady is already changing SO much... and we've somehow reached the 2 month milestone.  Sometimes it is still hard to believe we are parents to not 1, not 2, but THREE little girls.

Emily at two months...

.You are 13 pounds, 2 ounces, in the 85th percentile and 22.5 inches long, in the 46th percentile.  An ounce bigger than Brooklyn and a pound bigger than Grace at the same age, but a full inch shorter than both your sisters at this stage.

.You gained FIVE pounds in a month.  Mama is so so so proud of that fact.

.You are wearing mostly size 0/3 month and some 3 month clothing.  Kansas decided to straight up skip spring so we are rocking the onesies by themselves with a hairbow most days.

.You are wearing size 1 diapers.  We have one more box and if we haven't already switched by then, I think we will be headed into size 2 diapers.

.You LOVE your milk and still demand it almost immediately once your eyes have fluttered open.  Except for at night, you nurse every 3 hours mostly.

.You sleep in 7-8 hour stretches through the night from about 11/12 to 6/7 in the morning.  Wake up long enough to nurse and then go back to bed until about 10, on mornings we don't have any activities.  It is glorious, and also something Mom's chest is trying to adjust to, still.

.You started handing out more smiles this month, but they usually have to be really coaxed out, unless you are Grace that is.  You love your biggest sister.

.You love to just lay on the floor and watch everyone and everything.  But are not a fan of tummy time unless it is on top of someone.

.You coo at us every once in awhile and will carry on a "conversation".

.You still have a witching hour that starts about dinner time and goes until you crash for the night where you just want to be in someone's arms and not put down.

.You do not like shots... and you are mama's only baby that has had super tender thighs after shots, to the point that you cry if someone touches them.

.You hold your head up and love to be propped up to see the room.  You also recently started putting weight on your legs when you are held up.

.You have developed the most delicious rolls, that are a pain to keep clean sometimes.

.You spit up quite a bit.  I think you just over indulge and get a little greedy.  We are working on it.

.You "nap" about twice a day... sometimes more, sometimes less.  And have just started showing signs of stirring when your siblings are too loud.

My little bean... I love you so.  I promise I am soaking in every last aspect of you being so little.  You are just the sweetest and mama will never get over how quickly you calm down when you find your way into mama's arms.  It is the best thing about being a mom.  You round our family out so perfectly and I am counting my stars that God chose us to be your parents.

To read about Grace at two months, click here.
To read about Brooklyn at two months, click here.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Schools out for Summer (+ OUR BUCKET LIST)

We've been out of school almost three weeks.  Grace finished her first year of preschool mid May and we already miss the routine that comes with school. She was only going twice a week... but I wasn't hearing "what are you we going to do tomorrow?" five times a day.  After hearing that phrase no less than 100 times already... I am counting down to school starting again this fall.  Yep, y'all, I am THAT mom.

First and last day
(Next year I vow to do a better comparison picture so I can see how much she has changed and grown in the last year.)

Anyway --- Grace's first year of preschool was a success.  She is going to a private preschool that comes highly recommended here in town.  We had her in the twice a week program from 9 to 11:30.  Just enough time to get some energy out and provide me a chance to run errands with one less kid to load and unload.  A welcome break, if you will.  Grace's teachers were absolute saints... and took great care of my girl.  We will miss them next year, especially since one of them is on to the retired life of a grandma!

This summer I hope to keep the kids active by getting out of the house at least once a day.  That way we feel productive - but not overwhelmed.  To help I came up with a summer bucket list again this year that we can hopefully accomplish easy peasy with one big activity a week.

Our 2018 summer bucket list...

-Go strawberry picking
-Go to Deanna Rose Farmstead
-Complete the summer reading program through the library
-See a movie at Memorial Stadium
-Swim lessons
-Picnic at the lake
-Go to the fair
-Go to the zoo
-Spend an afternoon at Wonderscope
-Run through the sprinkler
-Build a fort and watch a movie in it
-Take sister pictures of my girls
-Have lunch with Grandma
-Learn the alphabet
-Teach Grace to write her own name
-Practice Grace's speech diligently
-Learn the difference between left and right
-Potty train Brooklyn
-Attend Vacation Bible School
-Go to the farmers' market

I hope to have this list wrapped up by the last day of August.  So let's goooooo.

How are you keeping your kids occupied this summer?!

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Curse of the Coloring Book - A Review

Many months ago I accepted an offer to review a book written by one of America's finest, a veteran, a Vietnam veteran.  I didn't think it would take me an eternity to finish the book, not because I didn't like the book... but because at the end of the night I can often barely keep my eyes open to nurse the baby, let alone read a chapter in a book.

But I did it.  And here I am to tell you all about Curse of the Coloring Book, by Howard L. Hubbard.

The synopsis...

"When Herald Lloyd, an attorney and family man, learns he's been cursed with a catastrophic legal-malpractice lawsuit, his recurring Vietnam War flashbacks flood his consciousness, and he medicates his post-traumatic stress with alcohol.

He was reckless to quit college to join the Army.  Mocking the war, he bought a GI Joe Coloring Book and half-gallon of whiskey, for a drunken send-off with his fraternity brothers.  Vietnam hurls Herald into becoming a decorated combat platoon leader, commanding stressed oddballs and misfits like Dogman, who walks point and only barks to communicate.  Now he must fight again, this time to save his client, law practice, and family.

Was the coloring book cursed?"

Inspired by a true story, this novel will bring you in time and time again.  Just as you think you've heard it all when it comes to the Vietnam War, the stories shared in this book will take you right back to a different time and a war most young Americans could never imagine.  There is love, infatuation, family ties, war stories, gore and victories that take you through every lawyers worst nightmare, a malpractice suit.  Of course, I will not tell you how the book ends.  But you'll be hanging on to every word hoping somehow, someway one final victory is to be had and the coloring book is not actually cursing Herald's life.

I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who enjoys war stories mixed with a little bit of civilian life.  Most everyone will find something they are hooked on in this book and you absolutely can't go wrong with that.

Buy it here.

I received this book for free, in return for an honest review.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Slice of Life - May 2018

On the very last day of the month, why not shoot for the stars and give you one more piece of May... or sort of.  I am actually starting off this May Slice of Life with the last of April.  I am behind in life and so many posts are brewing, but don't seem to ever get assembled and published because 3 kids, a dog, a husband, a house, a life... so many excuses these days.

I still CANNOT get over these pictures from my best friend's wedding.  We have known each other for FIFTEEN years now.  We are now all married.  3 of the 4 of us have 2 or more kids.  We've traveled, lived in other states, finished degrees, got pets and houses... and yet we always find our way back to celebrate life with each other.  I could NOT ask for a better gift than having these 3 in my life as the greatest support group ever.

As we were taking this picture in the middle of the sidewalk downtown, our girls are loudly going "CHEESE" as they do when you ask them to smile.  A stranger goes running past us and laughs at them.  That stranger?  The one and only star of the KU mens basketball team Devonte' Graham.  We both turn and look at each other and say "was that?!" Yes... yes it was.

The last bit of April that I want to document?  These girls bonding.  Megan came up from Florida for Kara's wedding and brought only her oldest with her.  These two are a few years apart, but got along SO great.  Just making us wish even more that Megan lived in Kansas and not Florida so our babies could all grow up together.

On to May.  We started getting smiles out of this peanut.  You still have to coax them out of her most days but it is SO rewarding.

This last winter Diesel spent September to January away from us receiving some hunting training.  Clearly he is a lab and I am married to a hunter, specifically a duck hunter... and this furry dude is his partner in crime.  Last year he got his formal training and then got to enjoy the last part of the season in the field on the weekends with Rob.  It is now the off season and my dog and husband are both pretty bored.  So a few weekends ago they tried their hand at a new activity and Diesel got his first two passes towards a title to add to his pedigree.  I am pretty proud and glad that the time we spent away from him is paying off in the form of shiny ribbons to hang above his kennel.

This month also meant the start of a new hobby for me, book club.  I was a part of one in Georgia and it was a great excuse to get together to have a girls night, more or less.  But lets be real here... I also enjoy actually reading the books as well.  We read "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah and if you like books, you should too.  She's one of my favorite authors and next January this book is being released as a movie.  So I can't wait for that.  I'm a fan of book club, even the nerdy part of actually reading the book.

My babies.  Similar but so different as well.  We are so so blessed to have these three.  This baby making chapter in our life is officially ending soon though and while I can definitely say my life is defined as being a mom, I will not miss the experience of being pregnant.  I seriously look forward to watching these three grow into their personalities and go through life together... hopefully as best friends.

I bought a water table and it was the best summer purchase, ever.  I scooped it up at Buy Buy Baby and with a coupon, it was under $35.  My kids LOVE it.  So I am definitely considering this a mom win.

Memorial day weekend was HOT.  And by that I mean mid to high 90s all weekend.  But this girl was out in it with her daddy doing what they love, golfing.  She took part in a kids golf clinic and had so much fun.  Rob is almost already banking on her being part of his retirement plan.

My baby all dressed up for Memorial Day.  Her sisters were in red, white and blue too but promptly took off their cute outfits in favor of swim suits to play with their water table while we grilled out with my parents for the holiday.  The perfect way to celebrate the holiday?  With family.

And to wrap up May... we drove out to Leavenworth National Cemetery Monday afternoon to remember the real reason for the holiday weekend.  Rob and I will consider our greatest goal met if we raise respectful children that do not need mommy and daddy to remind them what is and isn't acceptable in life.  A huge part of that is knowing who sacrificed what in order for them to be free and enjoy all that they do in life.  So Rob walked them down the side of the hill overlooking the cemetery and told them just that.  Grace cried, my sweet girl with such large emotions.  Brooke may still be too little to understand the concept but I am a firm believer that it is NEVER too early to start teaching them how to be grateful.

So June... what do you have in store for us?

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Monday, May 21, 2018

A Touch of Faith - Emily's Baptism

The first weekend in May was another special weekend for our family.

Because the first part of the year isn't busy enough with all 5 of us celebrating birthdays, the dog's birthday, Valentine's Day, Easter, and our anniversary, all right after the holidays...

I digress.

We gathered with our family and friends to baptize Emily into the Catholic faith.  We did it at my parents church, the same church my other 2 girls were also baptized.  She wore the same dress her sisters wore, just a tad bit bigger on her tiny frame.  She fussed a good chunk of the ceremony, unlike her sisters who were peaceful.  But got it done... she is baptized.

While we were missing both sets of Emily's Godparents because of distance, some aunts and uncles, and some very good friends - we had a really good group come out to celebrate with us.  After the ceremony we all went out to take over the party room at a local restaurant.  Our server went to my high school and took great care of us.  The baby was passed around, cake was served and gifts were opened.  It was a wonderful afternoon, surrounded by so many that are dear to us.

Emily is lucky in that she has two great sets of Godparents.  My cousin and her husband on one side that will always teach her to walk with confidence and never let anyone tell her she isn't good enough or can not do something.  My college best friend and her husband on the other side that will always remind her that she is a child of God and if she trusts in our Lord, she will always find a way.  I could not imagine better people to lead my sweet girl through her faith, and life in general.

May the Lord always bless you and keep you safe, Emily girl.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Manual of Motherhood

After another late night of moving my 4 year old and my 2 year old back to their bed. I’m tired. With three kids... sleep can either be really great or absolutely terrible. And by that I mean they like to alternate who is awake, all night long. As I crawl into my bed for a few hours of cuddling up next to my husband, kid free... I try and remind myself that someday I will miss this. Someday they will be too cool to crawl into bed and cuddle. Too big to need the reassurance that mommy and daddy are right there, within touching distance.  Something my mom is always reminding me to remember... it goes too fast.

It’s the end of a long day where texts were fired off to my mom asking when my kids will actually listen to me when I tell them not to do something. Only for them to ignore me and have my predictions come true.  Today it was repeatedly telling my middle child that jumping with the toothbrush in her mouth was not a good idea. Sure enough... it hurts when the toothbrush is jammed against the roof of your mouth when you fall. I stop short of saying “I told you so” but remind, yet again, that I really do have their best intentions in mind.

(For the record my moms answer was “24 or so”. Reassuring like the time someone told me my black lab will never outgrow the puppy stage and even though I’m 2 years into it, I’ve still got 8 or more to go...)

These days I’m constantly texting my mother for reassurance about momhood. She’s been there. She’s done that. And a large chunk of her mothering career was done without the guidance of her own mother who died when I was just 2 years old. I can’t for the life of me imagine that. So I treasure the ability to send those whiney text messages off. She tells me I’m doing a good job and builds me up for another day of this motherhood game. Answers the questions and provides the insight that one can only have from 28 plus years of motherhood. Everything I know, I’ve learned from her.

I’m still celebrating my mom, four days later. It’s no longer Mother’s Day. But dang it that woman deserves all the glory and all the credit for all that she does and has done for us.

Which is why I am extra thankful that this last weekend we were able to spend Mother's Day celebrating mom with a late lunch and some shopping.  Watching my kids run to Grandma, will never get old.  All those years spent in other states far away from my mom, helped make the coming home so much sweeter and the holidays spent together even better.

So MOM, here's to you.  For being my manual to life and motherhood.  I am very grateful for your guidance, reassurance and love.  Always.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Emily | One Month

Y'all, it has already been a month (and a few days) since we welcomed Emily into the world.  While I don't feel like it necessarily flew by, it is definitely going much quicker than I want it to.  I find myself soaking up the newborn cuddles and watching her discover the world more than I ever did with her sisters.  This is the last time we will experience this... and I want to remember all of it for years to come.

Emily at one month...

.You are 8 pounds, 13 ounces (38th percentile) and 21 inches tall (44th percentile).  You gained 2 pounds in 2 weeks on breast milk alone.

.You are wearing newborn size clothing still... but are starting to outgrow them length wise.  It has been so fun wearing the outfits your sisters didn't get to wear because it was too hot in Georgia and Tennessee or they were too chunky to wear them any amount of time.

.You are wearing size 1 diapers. We just used up the last of the newborn diapers.  But actually had to go buy 2 boxes on top of the ones we got at the diaper shower.  Also a first for us since your sisters didn't stay in newborn sized diapers for too long.

.You currently have a stuffy, congested nose that is LOADS of fun when you first wake up.  It doesn't seem to be bothering you too much.  You still nurse like a champ, but you hate the nose sucker ball.

.You have about a half second wake up time before you are demanding milk.  There is no slow leisurely wake up.

.You are still fairly sleepy but are spending more time awake and taking in the world.  Which we all love.

.You have handed out a few smiles, but not a whole lot as of yet.

.You are constantly trying to suck on stuff when you are awake, but aren't sure yet if the binky is the chosen item.

.You are still keeping us guessing on your hair color, but we are fairly certain you'll be a redhead or it will have a strawberry tint to it.

.You are fair skinned and mama thinks you look a lot like her.  Mom win.

.You have a belly button hernia.  Also a new thing we haven't yet experienced.  The doctors believe it will heal on its own over the next year without the need for surgery.

.You have dark blue/gray eyes.  Leaving us guessing on what color those will end up as well.

.You love to cuddle to sleep and your witching hour means you want to be held and nothing else.

.You sleep in 3-5 hour stretches at night, I can't really complain.

.You are not a huge fan of your carseat... but manage to mostly sleep while in it.

.You are a little furnace, just like Brooklyn.  You are almost always warm to the touch but especially when you are in daddy's arms.  Which mommy just laughs at since you couldn't maintain your body temperature in the hospital.

.You are still fawned over by everyone but especially your big sisters.  We call them the hovercrafts because if you are awake, they are right there next to you making sure you know you are loved.

You are so very sweet, and absolutely complete our family.  We needed an Emily.  I am so excited to see what the next month is going to bring us in regards to your growth and changes.  Mommy loves you sweet girl.

To read about Grace at one month, click here.
To read about Brooklyn at one month, click here.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Slice of Life - April 2018

It is FINALLY feeling like spring around these parts.  Like most of the country, Kansas was majorly fighting with mother nature to achieve a normal Spring.  But this week we have beautiful, sunny temperatures and it could not be more welcome.

April thus far has been full of adjustments, holidays, Emily meeting tons of new people and very little sleep.

We kicked off the month with Easter.  A very cold Easter that ended icy and snowy.  Because why not.  We had good intentions of getting up, getting all these kids ready and getting to church with my parents... but after Brooke's birthday party the night before, it didn't happen.  Instead we went to brunch and then headed to my parents house.  After some family pictures in their cute little dresses they changed, we ate lunch and spent the better part of the afternoon wishing away an ice storm as it quickly came through, left its damage and moved on.  Luckily our trek home was not too hazardous and we considered it an overall success.

Another success?  Getting to catch up with an old friend after 6 years.  Derek was in town for a friends wedding and was able to stop in for a few hours to finally meet my girls and see our house.  I'm lucky to still have friends that I don't have to talk to everyday, but can still spend hours sitting around and chatting with.

Speaking of good friends. Thanks to Grace going to preschool, she made a cute little best friend that translated into a pretty good mama friend for me too and she's getting a special shout out because she brought us an amazing home cooked meal a few weeks back.. and I am still thinking about it.  Thanks Tricia, you are the real MVP.

On the topic of preschool... how cute are these kids?! They presented their last bible story of the year this month.  It was Jonah and the Whale.  Even Rob was able to join us for this one as it fell during paternity leave.  I can't even begin to express how much I love Grace's preschool, her teachers and that she has been learning this year.  Putting her in preschool was definitely the right call.

We celebrated Emily's due date on April 12th.  That also happens to be my mom's birthday.  I knew months ago that this little lady was not going to make it to her due date.  I was expecting to be induced during my 39th week... a certain little lady decided 37 weeks, 5 days sounded better.  She just wanted to celebrate Grandma's birthday on the couch instead of in a hospital room.

Can I just take a moment and talk about our dog? He's been with us for almost 2 years and he's still keeping me on my toes and learning new "tricks" everyday.  He's Rob's hunting companion and smart as a whip when it comes to retrieving.  But he's also a typical lab... ornery as can be.  He gives Brooke a run for her money when it comes to who can drive mama craziest.  His newest trick is digging under the fence to go hang out with the neighbors lab.  Which he always seems to do when I am trying to get the gang out the door to get somewhere on time.  So far this has led to one rescheduled speech session, a fence repair to an entire panel we didn't know was loose and a lot of crazy person phone calls and text messages.  When I say dogs are harder than newborns, I mean it.

This last weekend we took a small trip about two hours west.  The circumstances of this unexpected day trip have left us asking for prayers for our family.  One of our dear family members on my mom's side is in the ICU fighting for her life after a heart attack.  We went to visit with her and other family but were also able to see my best friend that lives there.  Her entire family has been battling some gunk so she had not gotten a chance to meet Emily.  So we had the good and the bad.  Along with trying out a new brewery and picking up some of the "best burgers in Kansas" for mom.  It was a long day but we are all super glad we were able to make the trip out and visit too.

That's April, so far, in a nutshell.  It's been a busy month being out numbered by the little people and fur child.  But somehow we are getting by.

And I will leave you with these gems of my sweets...

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