The End of the School Year 2016


Recently the Smith family made the big decision to move back to Florida for a new job opportunity and to be closer to family (more on all that soon!). While we are excited for this new adventure, unfortunately it means saying good-bye to many of the things we love about North Carolina. One of the harder things for us to leave is the boy’s pre-school. For the last 2 years it has been such a wonderful, safe, and loving place that our boys have grown and learned so much from. While Brady will be starting Kindergarten in a new school either way, I was still looking forward to two more years of Nolan attending First Baptist Pre-School. While we’re confident we will love the new schools in Florida, the end of the school year here in North Carolina was very bittersweet.


I can’t say enough fantastic things about Nolan’s teacher this year. This was his first experience in school and Miss Beverley made it so memorable. He was not an easy kid to transition into school (a whole lot of separation anxiety in the beginning!) but her patience and loving nature was life changing for all of us. I am forever grateful for all that Miss Beverley taught Nolan and I even gained a little knowledge myself on how to handle pre-schoolers! By the end of the year, Nolan had so much confidence and grew to love school!


Brady has absolutely loved school this year! The 4 year old class was so much more like “big kid school” and he thrived. I am so pleased with how his pre-reading and math skills have come along. He also had a teacher who encouraged his love of building structures and engaged him with open ended science activities. It was so fun to see how Brady’s little personality developed this year as he began to foster new friendships and become more outgoing.


Brady’s graduation ceremony was a perfect example of how much his confidence has grown as he was chosen to be one of the flag holders during the pledge of allegiance and stand in front of all his peers. I wouldn’t have ever imagined he’d have been that brave before!



We’re so proud of both boys and how far they’ve come this year. While we are sad to say good-bye to First Baptist Church of Garner Pre-school, we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for our little men!

Here’s a little beginning to end comparison!



Nolan’s Birthday Celebrations

I realize I’ve been slacking on my blog posts lately…life, has been busy! I did not want to miss the opportunity to document all of the awesome celebrations we had for Nolan turning 3. So, better late than never!

Our sweet Nolie is ridiculously obsessed with trains these days. His favorite place on Earth is Tweetsie Railroad. He spends countless hours watching YouTube videos of steam engines. And, his wooden track and trains that my Grandma Dot bought the boys are his most prized possessions. So, it made perfect sense to have an all out train themed birthday. Instead of one big party, Nolan got to have 2 different train rides with friends and family, as well as a little party with his school friends (complete with Thomas the Train cupcakes and engineer hats of course.)

We started celebrating with a trip to the railway museum in Savannah. We got to ride a diesel engine and look at all the cool trains. Grandma drove up for the celebration and we had lunch at the Pirate House restaurant with her and Grandpa and Nana.


On the day of Nolan’s actual birthday we surprised him with a new Mickey train and donuts for breakfast. The simplest things make him so happy! He then celebrated at school with his favorite Miss Beverley and all his little friends.


For Nolan’s last celebration, we got together with some of our friends from our neighborhood and went on another train ride. It was an open air steam engine (and it was COLD outside!) The things you do for the ones you love! Then, we celebrated at our house with pizza, cookie cake, and playtime with his buddies.


All in all, this little boy is very loved (and just a little bit spoiled!)


Nolan is 3!


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Our baby is three. It’s hard to believe that little ball of head-strong energy has been with us that long, but then again it’s impossible to imagine life without all the chaos and fun that is Nolan.

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He continues to amaze us with how smart and sharp-witted he is. He can be  hilarious and mischievous and sensitive all at once. His emotions run high and he simply cannot be without his blankie and thumb in an emergency.

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He’s a cuddler and is ridiculously quick to cry when things don’t go his way. He has all but caught up to Brady in size, but still looks up to his big brother and mimics his every move. He has a never-ending appetite and can out-eat any grown man when it comes to desserts. He makes life interesting and is full of laughter and charm. We just love him to pieces!

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With Nolan turning 3, we did a quick interview to help us remember him at this age. Here are his answers…

What’s your name?
-Nolan! N for Nolie!
How old are you?
Nope, that’s how old Brady is going to be. How old are YOU going to be?
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite show?
-Paw Patrol
What is your favorite movie?
-I like “Frozen”
What’s your favorite food?
What’s your favorite toy?
-Trains! Choo-choo! Chugga-chugga…(This goes on for a while)
Who’s your best friend?
-Brady (AWWWW)
What’s your favorite song?
-Jack Johnson…”Bubble Toes” (this is actually Brady’s favorite song)
What other songs do you like?
-Mommy’s song…”Cake by the Ocean” (it’s true, I do love that song)
What other songs?
-“Happy” song (Pharrell is STILL popular in the Smith house) and Adele.


That little goofball brings so much joy (and craziness) to our life. We survived the terrible 2’s so let’s see what kind of adventures await us with our new “THREEnager.” Happy Birthday Bubba!










First Day of School (2&4)

 The boys (both!) started pre-school this week. This is Brady’s 3rd year of school so he’s an old pro by now, but it was Nolan’s first time (really, ever) doing anything without me. Both boys were so excited for the idea of school- new backpacks, packing a lunch, cool shoes, we just weren’t sure how Nolan would do with the reality of school being away from Mommy, Daddy and Brady. This year Brady will go 4 mornings a week and Nolan will go 2. That’s right, that means I will get a whole 8 hours to myself each week. Woot! Time to move the pile of laundry off my treadmill and actually use it! But I digress…

Brady started school on Monday, but Nolan didn’t have his first day until Tuesday. That was slightly confusing for poor Nolie as he was just sure he was supposed to go to school too.


Brady was a superstar on the first day. He was so excited to get into his classroom and get his learn on!                                                                                                                                                             2 3 1

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We were totally “those parents” taking hundreds of pictures in the classroom and even Brady’s teacher made a comment about how we really seemed into “taking it all in.” Ahem. Brady made up for his crazy parents by giving his teachers a sweet 1st day of school present.


Hey, I was a teacher. I know it doesn’t hurt to suck up juuuust a little. I’m not above it.

From the sounds of it, Brady had a great 1st day. When we came to pick him up he said, “Why are you here already?” He’s all warm and fuzzy just like his momma.

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Now onto littlest man’s 1st day of school. He was so stoked. He posed perfectly and everything. That never happens!

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We even got a couple shots with big brother (who was clearly an expert at this picture thing by now.)

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Happy, happy, happy heading into school.

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Oh, look! There’s my name! Happy, happy, happy.

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First kid in the class- get the firetruck all to myself. Happy, happy, happy!

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And then I left to take Brady to his class…


Sweet little Brady just working away, completely un-caring that I’m leaving the room. He’s so cool.

Apparently that’s when things got a little less “happy.” When Chris left the classroom, Nolan got a little panicky but was quickly calmed by his trusty blankie that we brought for this exact reason. We both made a quick get away and prayed that things would go well and we wouldn’t get a phone call mid-morning to come retrieve our traumatized child.


In true Chris and Karen fashion, I was all “Woohoo! Kids are both in school!” and he was all “Boohoo! They’re growing up so fast!” Love my big, emotional man.

Turns out we did not get any phone calls from the school. (Yay!) We actually got to take advantage of a rare kid-free, Chris not traveling, morning, and went out to lunch downtown.


I guess pork and grits can help ease anyone’s stress…

When we picked up Nolan he was playing happily! His teacher reported that he had a good day, although he did NOT want his diaper changed at all (guess we need to work on that potty training thing) and he would NOT leave his blankie in the classroom during playground time (we’ll work on that too.) One of my favorite parts of the day was seeing how interested Brady was in Nolan’s day. “Did you have fun, Nolan? See, mommy and daddy always come BACK!” Ahh, melted my heart.

We’ll see how day 2 goes for N-Dawg, sometimes that’s even harder than the 1st day, but at least we all survived day 1! Brady is loving school and Nolan is off to a decent start. Here’s a quick video of him breaking it down on the way home from school. Clearly he wasn’t too traumatized!

June Adventures

June might be my favorite month of the year. For our family it’s full of celebrations, travel, and enjoying summer to the fullest. This year, in addition to celebrating lots of birthdays, our anniversary, and Father’s Day, we also threw in a 12 day road trip to Florida. We were able to visit with lots of friends and family and hit up some of our favorite spots along the way (and only came back with 1 broken bone!) Here’s our recap of the month of June and our big road trip!

We started the month with a visit from my mom. She was able to come stay for a week and we got to hang out, eat lots of food, and she was a big help at Brady’s birthday party.


We celebrated Brady’s birthday early in the month because we knew we’d be busy traveling on his actual birthday. He had lots of friends from school and our neighborhood come help him celebrate.


In the middle of June we set off on a trip to visit with our family in Georgia and Florida. We stopped for a night in Savannah and stayed with my dad and step-mom (Albert stayed with them for over a week while we traveled.)


The boys shared a bed for the first time during the trip and we were nervous about how it would go, but they did surprisingly well. (Much better than when we tried it in Charleston and Brady threw up all over Nolan in the middle of the night…)


We then set off for Clearwater, but had to stop in Gainesville along the way to get lunch and show the boys where their mommy and daddy met!

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Brady helped us find the Smith Family brick on UF’s campus.

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Nolan was a BIG fan of “pizza by the slice.” (aka the pizza consumed by many a Gator student after a night of partying on University Ave.) Here’s his best “GO GATORS!” with a mouthful of pizza.

We then spent a few days in Clearwater. We spent our first evening visiting with Chris’s family. They loved hanging out with their Aunt Kim and playing in her pool. Then, we spent the weekend at the beach visiting with friends and celebrating my birthday.

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Yay for Auntie Jill time!

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Super happy that I finally got to meet baby Bennett!

From Clearwater we headed to Daytona to visit with my family. I was so excited I got to spend my birthday with so much of my family. We spent about 4 days there and got in lots of beach, pool, and boat time. Chris and I even managed to get a night to ourselves at the beach. We loved spending so much time with my mom and Aunt Claudia too.

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Probably one of my favorite pictures ever! See the dolphin I’m pointing out to the boys?! Ahhh, an amazing day!

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After we left Daytona, we headed back to Savannah. We took the scenic route and drove up A1A (beach front avenue!) and stopped in St. Augustine for a quick lunch/site seeing.

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We spent our last weekend in Savannah visiting with Grandpa and Nana. We had fun eating, shopping, and celebrating mine and Brady’s birthday.


Check out the sweet yellow jackets Grandpa got the boys!

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Somehow Chris and I were still smiling at the end of a 12 day trip. It was ambitious of us, but so fun! Leave it to us to dare to take a trip that long with a 2 and 4 year old.


After we got home from our trip, Brady had his 4 year check up. He had a slight limp from where he tripped over a mat at Monkey Joes when we were celebrating his birthday in Savannah. I didn’t think much of it, but the doctor had us get x-rays just to make sure it was ok. I should mention that Brady does not do a good job of communicating when he’s in pain or something is wrong. He was actually in a really good mood and the doctor was quite surprised to see that he had fractured the base of his big toe bone! So, June brought us our first cast.



Funny story- every time the x-ray tech would take an image, Brady would turn to us, pose, and smile. I’m not sure what kind of pictures he thought we were trying to get, but the tech said she felt like it was a magazine shoot!

Brady was excited about getting a RED cast. He asked about 12,000 questions during the process. The PA who did his cast was quite, um, “entertained” (annoyed) by him! I thought he was a champ during the whole thing.


On June 24th, Chris and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. I have to brag about the thoughtful gift he got me. I have always LOVED crème brulee and wished I could make it at home. For our anniversary, Chris surprised me with a cookbook from a restaurant I had visited on a girls weekend in Greenville, SC. I thought that was pretty thoughtful, and then I saw the rest of the gift. He pointed out a crème brulee recipe in the cookbook and gave me the ramekins, and a torch to make my own. He had also gone to the store to buy all the ingredients. He knows me so well! I think I will keep him.

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We ended the month with a special Brady/Mommy date day. We spent the afternoon at the Science Museum and saw a 3D Dinosaur movie together and had lunch downtown. He was the perfect date!


Hopefully the rest of the summer will continue to be a perfect mix of travel & adventure and family time & lazy days.


Thank goodness for waterproof casts!




Somebunny is 2!


In some ways it’s hard to believe it has already been 2 years since Nolan came bursting onto the scene of life in an oh-so-dramatic fashion. In other ways, it’s impossible to think that life ever existed without his larger than life personality.


It’s been 2 years of laughter, exhaustion, questioning our sanity, and thanking God every day for the gift that is Nolan. He continues to keep us on our toes and crack us up with his mood swings, catch phrases, and ridiculous obsessions.  He is also just about the easiest thing in the world to fall in love with thanks to his cuddly, smiley, thumb-sucking cuteness.


While I admittedly never thought I could love anything as much as I loved Brady, (even while pregnant with Nolan!) I am forever in awe of how much my littlest man changed everything I knew about love. Like, heart exploding, best thing in the world, how did we ever live without you, love. Brady taught me what real love was, and Nolan taught me the infinite capacity that my heart could love.


While it is bittersweet to think that our baby is no longer a baby, I’m too excited to see what life has in store for our sweet Rolie Nolie to ever wish for time stop. Even the surgeon who delivered him said that he must be destined for great things in life and was definitely sent to us for a reason. (Insert proud mom face.)


So this Easter, as our little Bubba turns 2, we’ll be farther away from all the sleepless nights of his infancy and one step closer to the sleepless nights that he’ll undoubtedly cause us in his teen years. He’ll be going full throttle (as usual) and we’ll be there just trying to keep up with him (as usual.) His big brother will be desperately pleading with him to “follow the rules”  and “stop stealing my food!” all while laughing throughout the house, chasing each other or wrestling on the bed. He’ll be the maniac that he is and then stop for a quick snuggle and thumb suck (all while pulling my hair, no doubt.) We’ll soak up the good and try to get through the terrible 2’s with the mindset that this is all going by much too quickly.


Thank you, Nolan, for the most challenging, hilarious, and love filled 2 years of our lives!

Love you,

Mommy, Daddy, & Brudder

Nolan Michael…the Toddler Days!

Nolan is officially the age that Brady was when he was born- right around 21 months. I can’t for the life of me picture how I managed a newborn and someone Nolan’s age. I’m sure the only reason it was possible is because Brady was a completely different 21 month old than Nolan is. Brady was calm, quiet, and liked to play independently. Those are not exactly the words I’d use to describe Nolan, but he’s fantastic in his own way. He’s at such a fun age, that I wanted to take the time to write a post that could act as a “snap shot” of a typical day in the life of Nolan. I want to remember as many of his little quirks and catch phrases as possible.


Just woke up. Must bring all items from my crib downstairs.

You never quite know what kind of Nolan will wake up each day. Happy and singing a song?! Screaming and demanding you take his socks off?! Busy and talking to the pictures on his wall?! Either way, you can just about count on the fact that he will not want to get out of bed without his “night-night” (blankie) and Pup-pup (puppy.)

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The other thing we can count on each morning is that Nolan will wake up HUNGRY. “Snack! Milk! Foffle! Pancake!” Just a few of the things he yells at us as soon as we come downstairs.


You must always be prepared with snacks and milk when Nolan wakes up. Keep the beast happy.

The boy enjoys his breakfast. Yogurt is always a favorite (and one of the few healthy foods he requests.)


9 times out of 10 Nolan is not satisfied with only eating his own breakfast. Generally he assesses the situation to scope out what everyone else is eating and either grabs it out of your hand/mouth or, when he’s being polite, stares you down and says, “I want some.”


At some point in the morning, you will inevitably hear Nolan say from the other room, “Yay. I did it.” To which we respond, “What did you do, Bubba?!” and he very matter of factly states, “I pooped. I stink. Stink! Stank! Stunk!” We’ve never accused him of being subtle.


Other favorite phrases, “I’m awesome” “Hot Mess!” and “Wow. I’m fast!”

When it comes to playtime, Nolan is all boy. He loves all the things his big brother loves- trains, cars, and airplanes. In fact, he plays with cars and trucks even more than Brady ever has. It’s one of the few times he’s quiet and calm…


Nolan loves to line up his “f*cks” (trucks) Still waiting on him to turn that “F” sound into a “TR”


He also reeeeally likes to drive his “f*cks” up the “Mommy Mountain. Wheee!” It hurts a little…

He usually plays really hard- running around full speed, knocking things over, singing, squealing, roaring, and then all of a sudden needs a break. Like anywhere…


On school days, Nolan and I get lots of “Mommy and Me” time.


The boy is a big fan of selfies. Like, wants to do them all the time.

Some mornings we go to Toddler Time at the library or walk the park. Other mornings we run errands- lots of Target runs.


My Target buddy- wiping down the cart like it’s his job. “Mess! Yuck! All better!”

And, most mornings he falls asleep in the car because he just can’t quite hang yet without a little morning snooze.


And of course this usually happens as we’re on our way to pick up Brady from school!

When we go into Brady’s school, Nolan gets excited and tells me “lollipop!” (Brady’s teacher made the mistake of letting Nolan choose something from her treasure box once. Since then, Brady’s school= Lollipop.) After we get home and he takes his afternoon nap, he wakes up…yup, you guessed it, HUNGRY.


Snack time Round 177…

When the weather is nice in the afternoon Nolan loves to play outside!


“Folfing” is the BEST! And he WILL throw a fit if someone leaves the house with golf clubs and he’s not invited.


Walks in the park are cool too (as long as there are snacks involved.)

One of our favorite things about Nolan is his ability to talk/sing non-stop He just doesn’t shut up! We joke that he narrates his own life. In a car ride he goes from describing everything he sees on the road- “f*ck! tractor! bulldozer! light!” to naming the members of our family, “mommy! daddy! Brady! Nolie! Albert! Gato!” to singing a prayer, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Ah-men. A-men!” to labeling the parts of his body, “eyes! nose! tongue! hair!” And occasionally he’ll treat us with a little gem like this…

When dinner time comes around, Nolan is not shy about expressing his hunger. His favorite foods are pizza, tacos, “foofies” (cookies) and hummus. He doesn’t exactly crave the healthiest of foods…

After dinner, Brady and Nolan usually run around the house chasing each other or playing on their riding toys. When Daddy is home, they have dance parties and play Hide and Seek. Nolan, bless his heart, tries so hard to hide and be quiet, but usually calls himself out by loudly saying “Husssshhhh!! I hiding.”  Either way, he just loves playtime with his daddy!


No one makes Bubba laugh quite like daddy.

At the end of the day Brady and Nolan take their bath together. Nolan always initiates the splashing.



He is the first to splash, and the one who cries the loudest when water gets in his eyes.

When I put Nolan’s jammies on he usually asks for powder and lotion. He specifically says, “Lotion. Feet.” (People who know my feelings on feet should be impressed that I will in fact put lotion on his little *clean* feet.) And usually as I do this he looks at me and very seriously says, “I’m fancy.” Apparently soft feet=Fancy.

Right before bed we always read books with Brady- Nolan loves to “read along” with sound effects and voices for the characters.

When it’s time to say goodnight- Nolan doesn’t leave anyone out. “Night-night, Brady. Night-night, Albert. Night-night, fan. Night-night, downstairs.” And then it’s off to thumb-sucking, blankie snuggling, dreamland…but not before a quick song that he sings to his night-light and space heater.


We love this kid so much. From morning to night, happy to sad, clean to messy, and everything in between, he keeps us laughing!


Loving this age- full of toddler energy and laughs, but still baby enough for some mommy snuggles!

Baby Boy Haircut= Bye-Bye Baby

What is it about getting a baby boy’s haircut that instantly turns them into big boys? It’s. So. Sad.

So, Nolan has had one haircut in his life. It was not a fun experience for any of us. He cried the whole time and I was a nervous wreck thinking that they were taking too much off and transforming my baby into a toddler. 4 months later and his hair was, well, according to others, in need of another trim….


After much nagging on the part of his father, I had to admit that Nolan could stand to have his hair cleaned up a bit.

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Even though, it felt like we were taking away his mojo, we went for it…

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Where’d my BABY go?!?! Yes, he’s still adorable, snuggly, and sucking his thumb, but there’s just something about those haircuts that’s such a game changer. Sigh!

It should be noted that the hair cut was going fine until they brought out the evil squirt bottle and all heck broke loose! Poor Bubba screamed “All Done!” throughout the entire haircut. Meanwhile, big brother Brady sat like an angel for his!

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The Life and Times of Nolan Smith

It’s been 3 months since we celebrated Nolan’s 1st birthday (eek!) and it occurred to me that when Brady was 15 months old, I did a blog post to document what he was up to at that age.

I thought I’d do the same for N-Dawg to help myself remember some of his baby (although less baby-like every day) quirks.

First off, he has just recently mastered walking within the last month. He still has a little drunk man technique at times, but is trying so hard to keep up with his big brother. He always has the bruises to prove it.

Since he took his time getting the hang of being mobile, his focus must have been on language skills because lil’ man has lots of words he likes to use. Some of his favorite words include; ball, balloon, “all done,” “I did it,” bobba (bottle), wawa (water), Brady, momma, dada, pup-pup (puppy), up, down, Gato, moo (cow), foffle (waffle), night-night, vroom, airplane, monkey, moodic (music), outside, spoon, bite, wow!, hot-hot, bubble, pop, bucket, button, book, banana, and the ever so lovely “poo-poo” and “burp.”  Just to name a few…

He’s already fascinated by anything that Brady likes- trains, trucks, airplanes. He even knows the characters from the “Planes” movie…yesterday he brought me a  “Planes” sticker he found and kept saying, “Dusty,” which is he main character from the movie. He loves to make sound effects when playing with anything that has wheels. He gets great delight from coming in the room and destroying Brady’s train tracks and stealing one of his “choo-choo’s.”

The thing I will probably remember the most about Nolan from this age is his love of music. I know, I know, all kids love music. Brady loved music too, but this is like, whoa, demands music anytime he sees an I-Pad, speaker, or radio. He takes his music and his dancing very seriously. There’s a whole repertoire of moves that he uses for different types of music. He loves Hip-Hop and 80’s hair bands. His very favorite song, the one he actually requests by name, is the “Happy Song.” (Happy by Pharrell) If he sees my mom with her Kindle, he makes a bee line for it, saying “Happy Song” and does not give up until she has the music video playing on YouTube. He likes to watch and imitate any dance moves in the video. I can’t make this stuff up….

Since day one, Nolan has been bursting with personality. He is quick to laugh, and quick to freak out and cry. He is always “on” and rarely has quiet or down time. Despite his “on the go” personality, he still likes a quick snuggle with mommy every now and then. His signature move is to snuggle in my neck, pull my hair and suck his thumb. I’ve lost quite a bit of hair thanks to him, but have gotten quite a few cuddles to make up for it.

Nolan keeps us on our toes, but brings us unimaginable joy. He couldn’t be more different than his big brother, but they are still best buds. We have so much fun watching Nolan and being a part of his little world!


Mouth full of snacks…this is oh-so-Nolan.


Nolan is a constant sweaty, disheveled, messy-faced kid. Love him!


Still just rocking the same few teeth he’s had for forever! I think we’re finally up to 6 now…


My smart, sweet, silly boy!


Momma’s boy!

Nolan’s Hole In ONE Par-tee!

We had a busy, busy weekend full of family, friends, and celebrating Nolan’s first birthday! This year has truly FLOWN by. I can’t believe our baby is now a one year old…a one year old who had an absolute blast at his party! He loved seeing all of his little friends, eating cake, and most of all, balloons! Or as he called them, BALLS!

His party was a golf theme that was put together with the help of Pinterest and Etsy. Seriously, what did we ever do without those sites….wander the craft store, trying to muster up inspiration?? Psshh! Here’s a little glimpse of the party set up, decor, and food…

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We were so thankful that so many of our playgroup friends were able to make it to Nolan’s big day. The kids had a blast running around, decorating hats, and of course, eating!

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Nolan was also blessed to have his Grandma, Uncle Charles, Aunt Gift and cousin Chloe at his party. We did our best to get group shots with everyone looking!

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Not surprisingly, Nolan was a fan of his birthday cake.

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Thanks to our friends and family who sent messages, cards, and gifts to our littlest man. His birthday was so special thanks to all of the people who love him. Nolan is such a sweet, fun-loving, little guy who is bursting with personality and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!


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