Goodbye, Virginia.

We knew this was coming a long time, but that didn’t make it any easier. Saying goodbye to Virginia was especially hard for me – I left behind some dear, dear friends, a job that I loved, and of course, our sweet little house.

Our move to Florida was the biggest nightmare of my life. The weekend we were supposed to move a major snowstorm hit Virginia. That caused Michael’s flight (he had already been in Florida for two weeks) to be delayed, and it also caused our moving truck to be cancelled. We had intended to do the whole you pack, they drive deal, but instead we had to last minute rent a Budget truck. To make matters worse, they only truck we could get is a 17 foot truck to move our entire house, storage unit, and TWO sheds! So we thought we had everything all planned out and plenty of time, and needless to say that plan went out the window. We were still moving stuff out when our renters showed up and said their truck was shortly behind. That didn’t give me all the time I imagined I would have to lovingly stroll through the house and take final pictures. Instead it was a mad dash to fumble in some pictures with my iPhone. Without further ado, our simply goodbye:

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Bill Management System

Here to help you in the new year (better late than never!) is an introduction to my bill management system. Not that it’s a revolutionary idea, but it is a nice, simple system that keeps everything I need in one location. In true Humiston fashion, it’s also cheap.

Supplies:

1.5″ or 2″ three-ring binder
6 two-pocket folders
Pencil pouch

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The first step is to cut all the folders in half and hole punch them. You’ll want to punch them so the half pocket is facing up.

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If the pocket isn’t connected when you cut them (it really depends on the folder quality), then you can just add a small bead of glue along the edge or tape it closed again. As you may have guessed, you now have one half folder for each month. I also print twelve copies of my monthly expense spreadsheet:

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It’s so simple to make in Microsoft Word. It’s just a table with five columns and however many rows you need (mine has 22 rows total). I type in any reoccurring monthly expenses into the table along with the amount if it’s a set number each month. If it varies I leave it blank and just write it in. It also leave tons of blank rows to write in any random expenses that I don’t have each month. As the month goes along, I write the date I paid a bill in the “date paid” column (obviously). Then, when I see that the payment has been processed through my bank account, I put a simple check mark in the verified column. That way I know what money has been taken out of our account, which payments I haven’t made, and which payments are still pending. I also have a column for auto-pay dates where I just type in the date it’s withdrawn from our account. This really could be just typed into the date paid column, but I like to have it separate.
Behind each expense spreadsheet is a half folder. This is where I store our pay stubs, paper bills, and any other important document from that month.

Now, a little peek inside my pencil pouch:

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I keep our checks, post-it’s, a calculator, pens, and stamps in there. I also keep a few envelopes in the pocket of the binder for the few things we have to mail instead of pay online. I also keep a sheet with some of our harder to remember and less frequently used website log on information in the back pocket.

The last part of my bill management system:

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I keep a Manila folder in the back for any tax documents. At the end of the year I print my student loan interest forms, our W-2s, and a paper copy of our taxes to stick in the folder. It’s also a nice place to put receipts for deductions throughout the year.

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At the end of the year I file away the whole binder, and if I need any documents from that year I know right where to look.

DIY Christmas 2013

This year’s gifts featured TWO quilts and various other little projects.

Songbird quilt for my Nana:

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(When it was finished I went back and clipped all the little strings between the letters.)

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Tree quilt for my mom:

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Monogrammed make-up brush holder for my sister:

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Table runner and tea towels for my sister-in-law:

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Matching game for Michael’s nephews:

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An embroidered pillow with the Humiston family crest on it for Michael’s parents:

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There were a few other gifts I forgot to take pictures of first – simple, monogrammed tea towels, a soft book with matching stuffed animal, and a family crest bath towel. Boo :(

I can’t wait to start brainstorming gifts for next year!

Baby Bernina

Meet my new sewing machine, lovingly named Baby Bernina:

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That beauty was an every holiday present for the next five years according to Michael. If you know anything about sewing machines you know that Bernina’s are top of the line – Mac daddy’s of sewing machines if you will. So I gladly agreed to trade the next five years of presents for my Baby, which is a Bernina 580 machine with the embroidery module. The price was quite the sticker shock for Michael, but much like everything we do around here, we were bound a determined to get a good deal. After tons of online research I had come to find that Bernina’s sell MUCH cheaper overseas than they do here in the US. Long story short, I found a reputable Bernina dealer (here)in London, ordered my machine, and saved about 51% on the purchase price – even after calculating the cost of shipping, phone calls, and tax. The lure of getting this Baby half of was enough for us to risk it and hope for the best. One of my main concerns was the voltage difference, but fret not, Bernina has though of it all.

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All I need was a $5 adapter for the plug and I was good to go. I’ve been sewing steadily ever since. In fact, Christmas 2013 entailed a whole lot of DIY gifts. Post detailing all that coming soon!

DIY Dog Bed

Our dogs only get the best – literally.  In fact, they eat better than Michael and I most days.  When Michael’s family was visiting they asked if they could feed the dogs pizza scraps, and we said no, because we don’t feed our dogs that junk.  haha It’s fine for our family to eat, but not our dogs! So it only makes sense that the dogs beds are people quality, too.  Here’s Lyla on her favorite dog bed that, sadly, has since been chewed by Apollo.

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That was right after I moved in. Notice the TV on the floor?

 And just so everyone is well-informed you should know that bed Princess Lyla was snoozing on was heated!  Since we’ve gotten the monster, Apollo, we’ve gone through more dog beds than I can count.  He keeps chewing them and I keep making them.  You see, Apollo is a master escape artist and he was constantly breaking out of his cage.  Without fail it meant the demise of another dog bed.  I think most people would stop making dog beds, but my Princess Lyla always needs one.  But we’ve gotten a bit smarter since Apollo started his Harry Houdini antics:

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We now clip and lock the entire perimeter of his cage so she can’t break it down to get out.

So now it’s time to make Lyla another dog bed, and at this point we’re pros.  I start with an extra-large Boots&Barkley dog bed cover from Target  – I don’t use their bedding that goes inside because it’s all thin and crappy.  The dog bedding supplies go on sale every once in a while so I wait for a sale before I snag one.  I think I usually get them for about $12-$15.  I also picked up a human mattress topper:

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This time I used a 1.5″ twin memory foam topper, which I picked up on sale for $32.  It’s just a tad bit more expensive than using the dog bed filling, but so much more supportive.  Lyla is starting to get a little older, especially for a Great Dane, so she needs something that would be easy on her joints while she snoozes.  Instead of having to trim this down to fit we just folded it into thirds and stuffed it inside the cover:

1173If you do ever have to cut foam the best way to do it is with an electric meat carving knife.  In the past I’ve used the big green foam pieces from the craft store and trimmed them down to size.  This time with the twin topper foldable three times it added up to 4.5″ thick, which is so plush!  I think this might be her favorite dog bed yet, because when we’re all in the living room she goes straight to her bed instead of trying to squeeze on the couch with us.

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I think baby Apollo is a little jealous:

1182Maybe he’ll get his own dog bed, too! :)

Oriental Rug? Yes, please!

I’m always on the lookout for a good deal – I frequent goodwill, check Craigslist regularly, and follow a few Facebook pages.  I’m not usually looking for something specific, I just look for something to inspire me, and last week that’s exactly what happened when I stumbled upon this:

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Immediately I jumped up to measure our living room and it was exactly 10×13 – it’s like it was meant to be!  Since I measured it and saw that it would fit I jumped right on it because a mere $100 is a STEAL for a 10×13 rug.  I left a comment asking if it was still available, since other people had already expressed serious interest, and said if so, that I was definitely interested, too.  My general rule of thumb is so offer nearly full asking price if it’s something I can’t live without, otherwise I try to get them down to as little as they’ll take.  In this case I was prepared to spend $75-80.  She sent me a message that everyone else had lost interest in the rug because she discovered that all the stains were from pet accidents.  That’s nothing to rain on my parade.  I replied that it would require renting a rug doctor and quite a bit of down and dirty work, so how much was she willing to take?  And guess what?  She said we could have it for FREE!  Yep.  Free.  I think she had reached the point where she wanted rid of it more than she wanted to recoup any of the cost from it.  Score for me.  Once we picked up the rug we could see and smell why.  See the yellow stain?

1155Well, there were a lot of them and they were stinky.  Before we started investing time and money into cleaning this rug we did a bit of research about what we were getting.  First of all, any rug of that size carries a hefty price tag, but an oriental one is a true gem.  Basically an oriental rug is one that hand-woven instead of done by machine.  A few quick Google searches and we settled on this checklist as a way to see what we had on our hands:

1. The design is the same on the front of the rug as it is on the back. Check!

2. The fringe goes into the rug, and is not affixed with precise, machined stitches. Check!

3. If the rug has inconsistencies in knot height, and knot thickness.  Check!

4. The rug is very malleable.  Check!

Four checks means our rug passed the oriental rug checklist!  Which means our new rug is easily worth a few thousand dollars.

Rug Search

It’s hard to see, but prices on that website for similar size rugs ranged from $4,000 – $8,000.  Double score!

I bought some Nature’s Miracle carpet cleaner and rented a Bissell Big Green Deep Cleaning Machine and spent an entire day scrubbing every square inch of that rug with mediocre results, unfortunately.  Thankfully, the smell and odor associated with the stains were gone, but the discoloration remained.  Again, not enough to rain on my parade.  I think down the line we’ll definitely consider having the rug professionally cleaned, but for now it’ll do.  With the intricate floral pattern the stains aren’t actually noticeable from a distance.

It took Michael and I both to drag the rug into the living room because it was HEAVY (!) but finally we could see the fruits of our labor:

1186I’ve really been into the layered rug look lately, so this gave me the perfect opportunity.  The cream rug tones down all that floral and hides some of the more offensive stains.  I so love it!

But perhaps you’ve thought of something that I definitely didn’t.  Our room is exactly 10×13, which means a rug over the entire living room area would cover both our air duct vents.  Womp-womp.  One of them is already covered by the couch (we’ve been using a magnetic vent cover over it), so that isn’t a big deal, but we needed at least one!  I tried to research this and I read that some people actually cut a hole in their rug and put the vent cover on top.  I really wasn’t willing to do that since the countdown until we move out of this house has begun and I’m really hoping our next house has a bigger living room. :)  The only solution was to scoot the rug a few inches away from the wall to expose the vent.

1196With one solution comes another problem:

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Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum peeking in through the window up there.

Now the rug sticks out into the walkway.  Boo.  I would rather it not stick out like that, but it’s not a huge deal.

1193I also feel like the curtains don’t quite go anymore.  The solid teal colored ones that Apollo chewed through the slats in his cage would look so perfect!  But since those were chewed to bits, and again with my moving countdown I think I’m just going to have to make do with what I’ve got.  This picture also has a sneak peek to a few projects I’ve been working on lately: an easy DIY dog bed, and wedding pictures galore!

Update: The new rug is pup approved! :)

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Paw-fect Prints

Ever since I hung up all the pictures of our collage wall there have been two small, blank frames waiting for little paintings of the dogs paws.  Well the frames have been blank long enough!

The first thing I did was gather all my supplies and head outside.

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We picked black paint for Lyla and gray for Apollo to match their fur.  We initially were thinking pink and blue, but we thought the black and gray was too cute not to do.  I also grabbed two paper plates and two pieces of white cardstock.  You’ll also need some dogs for this project. :)


Next I sat the dogs down to paint their paws.

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They’re both looking at deer off in the distance!

I just squirted some paint on the paper plate and dipped their paw right on in!  Then I carefully pressed their paw on the cardstock.  I did two paw prints on each piece just to increase my chances of getting a good print.  I also found it was easier to get good pressure from their paw if they’re laying down, not standing.  I don’t have a picture of it because  was doing this by myself, but after I dipped their paw in the paint I dipped it into a cup of water to clean off most of the paint.  Then I just let them run around in the yard to get the rest off before letting them come back in the house.

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I had four big paw prints to choose from.  I think the top left for both of them turned out the best.  I considered trying again to get more “perfect” looking paws, but I really liked the fact that they weren’t perfect.  It fits the dogs better this way.

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Then I used the mat from the frame to trace where I should cut.  Luckily both of their prints fit inside the mat.  (And btw I can’t stand the fact that my nail is chipped!  Anyone who knows me knows how much that drives me freaking crazy!!!)

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Then I just popped both the paw prints into the frames.  I love how dainty and small Lyla’s paw looks compared to Apollo’s paw.

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And there they are slapped back up on the collage wall.  Every time I look over at them they make me smile. :)  I love those damn dogs.  I was given the advice today to start liking smaller dogs (in the context that dogs in themselves and especially giant dogs are hard to move around with in the military) and I just laughed.  That’s not going to happen.  Ever.

Parade of Homes

Another thing Michael and I did while we were in Ohio was go to the Parade of Homes, which is a showcase of new homes that are decorated to the nines!  The houses ranged from $500k – $800k in price.  So needless to say, it’s a nice place to dream about “one day.”  But this year I walked away with a few pictures that got my gears turning.  Keep in mind all these pictures were quickly snapped on my phone as hordes of people shoved their way through the houses.

First I loved this little cut out about the stove.  It’s a nice blend of function and beauty.  I like that it gave the opportunity to add some interest to the white subway tile (which we’re planning on using in our own kitchen).  I think this is going to have to go on Michael’s honey do list!

15I also saw quite a few houses that had little mini stained glass windows above the doors and I lurved them!  Totally not do-able in our current house, but I’m going to keep this in mind.

12This table was down in one of the houses “bar area” basement, but I’m totally digging this idea on a bigger scale for a dining room table.  If I ever see a barrel lying around anywhere I’m definitely snatching it up!

2The wood feature fireplace was a show stopper!  It had so much impact in person – although the two-story living room helped.  I also loved that the decorators added some stuffed dogs to the living room.  Too cute!  The TV was showcasing the house’s state of the art security system.  It was insane.  Do normally people have so many security cameras installed?

10That same house also has a barn sliding door similar to the ones that I’ve been drooling all over on Pinterest.  Michael didn’t really care for it, but I would love to have one in a house someday.  I also saw horse prints in practically all ten of the houses we toured.  One house even had an equestrian themed bedroom.  That must be a thing right now…

11One thing Michael and I agreed on were these knobs we saw in a bathroom.  They’re the perfect blend of bling that I like and a modern feel that Michael liked.  I wonder where we could get these, because I want one on every cabinet door in my house!

9In a different bathroom we saw these adorable bud vases.  They would be so easy to DIY with some pallet wood and thrift shop vases.

7I saw a few rooms in various houses with these grid collages.  I’ve been telling Michael I want to do something like that in our bedroom with some of our wedding pictures.  This particular room was painted with this really amazing ombre effect.  What room could I do that in?!

17One nursery had that really natural and organic looking mobile.  I just adored the paper cranes hanging from the twigs at the top!  I wonder if I’m too old to hang a mobile above my bed…

16Petrified wood furniture popped up in quite a few houses.  How awesome would it be to make some nesting tables like these?!  Or really to have petrified wood anywhere in my house.

13I really liked this two-tone dresser I saw.  It reminded me of my two-tone buffet, but I loved the fact that it was all stain and no paint, which means Michael loved it, too!

6Lastly, I saw this really cool end table.  When I saw it I immediately yelled across the room to ask Michael if he could make one for me.  His reply was that he could, but he doesn’t really want to.  Haha  I guess we’ll keep that one off the to-do list for now.

5I wasn’t able to snag pictures of everything, but there were a ton of other really fascinating and beautiful homes, rooms, and ideas.  Going through the Parade was so much fun for my mom, my sister, and I!  Michael did a good job tolerating the long day.  If there’s a Parade of Homes in your area hit it up, you’re bound to make it home with at least a few good ideas!

Marking Our Life: What’s Goin’ On?

So my lovely husband (whaaat?! still crazy calling him my husband) and I took a little hiatus from blogging, albeit not on purpose.  Life has been happening!  Since our DIY, backyard wedding we’ve been busy.  The month of May for me included planning an induction ceremony for the rising NJHS members, wedding, turning in my HUGE Professional Growth Portfolio at work (it’s our evaluation system), SOL tests, and planning a display table for our showcase of learning night – with exams and the end of the year quickly following behind!  083

I was on the verge of a complete mental breakdown the entire month.  Seriously.  Ask any of my coworkers.  At any given moment the phrase “I’m freaking out” was coming out of my mouth.  Meanwhile Michael relaxed at home and caught up on four years worth of sleep and rest.  1235To help me cope with all the stress Michael took me shopping. 922In my defense most of those bags were filled with gifts for others, but it was still fun!

Once I finished at work our baby, Apollo, needed surgery (don’t worry – he’s fine!), so we jumped right in the car and headed to Ohio.  1140The two of them are certainly quite the pair!  I’ve never seen such ridiculous pictures…

The day after we arrived in Ohio we checked Apollo in to The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital.  Apollo was FINALLY getting neutered, but he was also getting his stomach tacked.  To keep it short, Great Danes are susceptible to a condition called GDV, which is life threatening.  Basically it’s very easy for their stomachs to flip over in that deep chest of theirs, which causes the blood flow to be cut off and eventually they’ll die without an emergency surgery within the hour it happens.  The statistics are terrifying!  Danes are the number one breed it happens to and most of them don’t live to tell the tale.  Having his stomach tacked was a preventative measure to keep his stomach right side up.  When Apollo was checked in he was supposed to stay overnight, have the surgery the next afternoon, spend another night there, and finally come home.  We were thrilled to hear we could take him home after his check in as long as we promised to have him skip dinner and be back by 7am the next morning.

We happily brought Apollo back home (to my mom’s house where we were staying) and we all were starving so we decided to go out for lunch.  We set up his kennel and headed out, but not before my mom commented that she’s surprised we even still kennel Apollo.  Lunch was fine and dandy, but as soon as we got home there was a problem.  I said, “Michael, our child is greeting us at the front door.”  My mom and brother thought it was Lyla I was referring to, but Michael knew I meant Apollo.  When we made our way inside we discovered Apollo busted out of his cage only to eat my mom’s sectional sofa.  Yep, another couch ruined at the cost of Apollo’s appetite.  Perhaps we should have reconsidered bringing him home for the night? Haha.  Thankfully I have the most laid back mom ever.  She just laughed it off and said she hated that couch anyway.  The couch is still usable while my mom picks out the sofa she wants as her Christmas gift this year.  :)

The next day Apollo had his surgery and was graced with the most adorable collar ever: 1089Which he promptly chewed off, of course.

I also spent a ton of time snuggling up with my ADORABLE baby nephew, Jordan.  1132No kidding, I could not get enough of this kid.  My sister, my mom, and I even had an impromptu iPhone photo shoot with him. 1133Too cute, right?  We also realized that Jordan’s toes look like a succulent.990We all had a good laugh about it.

Paige, my younger sister, and I also found this app called Perfect365 which entertained us for an entire day.  It’s a photo editing app that we took to an extreme! 1090Those looks were called “Fantasy” and “Goblin.”  I wonder how we can make those permanent….

Once we made it home we planned our trip to D.C. – seeing the firework show from the National Mall was one of my bucket list items.  I figured we should do it this summer while we actually live in the vicinity.  Riding the metro is always a thrill for me until I actually have to ride it – I immediately feel car sick.  So we were sure to snap a picture before the ride began.

1149We spent the day taking in the city while we waited for the big show, which was spectacular!1204There’s truly no better way to celebrate the 4th of July than in our Nation’s Capital!  So excited to cross that one of the list!

Michael also built me an outdoor table and bench using Ana White plans while I strung up some of the cafe lights leftover from our wedding.

1239There’s also plans for matching chairs, but we haven’t gotten there yet.  Instead I set up some old chairs I was just storing in my shed.

Finally, today Michael left for his first day of TBS. 1240Of course his picture wouldn’t be complete without Apollo by his side!

While we’ve been so busy there hasn’t been much DIY going on.  Hopefully soon Michael can shed some light on our outdoor table and bench.

We’re Married!!!

This past weekend Michael and I got married -ah! We’ve been waiting a long time for this day and it couldn’t have been more perfect or more beautiful to us.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous and there wasn’t a traffic jam in sight (if you’re local you know how lucky that was!). But before I get to the good stuff Michael and I need say that our entire wedding would not have happened if it wasn’t for all the help from our family and friends.  Thank you does not even begin to describe the gratitude we both feel in our hearts for everything that was done for us.  Seriously.  I’m tearing up just thinking about it.  And people always talk about your “work family” and I think a lot of times it’s just something people say, but in my case nothing could be more true.  The things my co-workers did for us is unbelievable.  Not only did we end our day feeling so much love for each other, but we ended the day feeling so loved by every single person who shared our day with us.  We love you, guys!

Our photographer, Brian, did an absolutely amazing job capturing the joy throughout the entire day, and he worked extremely hard (and quickly!) to give us a little preview of the 1,000 pictures he took!  We’ll get to a more detailed post eventually, but for now here’s a little sneak peek of our wedding.

This was just before our first look.

This was just before our first look.

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This looks like I'm being sweet, but I'm actually yelling at him about some car passes. Haha

This looks like I’m being sweet, but I’m actually yelling at him about some car passes. Haha

So excited to get married!

So excited to get married!

Here I'm waiting for my turn in the chapel.  Weddings are booked every hour so at any given moment there were three brides around!

Here I’m  talking to friends as I’m waiting for my turn in the chapel. Weddings are booked every hour so at any given moment there were three brides around!

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Mr. and Mrs. Humiston at last!

Mr. and Mrs. Humiston at last!

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Our pictures in the Superintendent's garden.

Our pictures in the Superintendent’s garden.

Cutting the cake with Michael's sword.  How sad is that cake?! Oh well...

Cutting the cake with Michael’s sword. How sad is that cake?! Oh well…

These are the same sad, puppy eyes that saved me from too hard of a butt slap.  I can't wait to see those!

My puppy face, “please don’t smash cake in my face.”  These are the same sad, puppy eyes that saved me from too hard of a butt slap. I can’t wait to see those!

And now Michael, "Baaaabe..."

And now Michael, “Baaaabe…”

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Our Jenga guestbook.

Our Jenga guestbook.

So there it is! A little peek of our Naval Academy/backyard wedding.  I can’t wait to see the rest!