21 May, 2016: HOW COULD IT BE…THEY ARE 3!!!!

HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY, OUR DEAR TASHA AND KAT!!!

We are late posting here, but that does not mean the girls did not enjoy multiple birthday celebrations.It’s hard to believe three years has passed, but the 2-pound preemies are now sweet, chattering, inquisitive whirlwinds with great senses of humor! They still love stickers, jigsaws, and their babies. They still do not love potties, unfortunately. When asked how old they are Kat will consistently say “3” and Tash will consistently respond “4”. When asked what they wanted on their cakes, they chose Cookie Monster (Kat) and Pooh Bear (Tasha…who changed her mind immediately after we ordered it and wanted Elmo). Good taste, ladies.

KATARINA, age 3

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NATASHA, age 3

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Round one began with a celebration on the actual day…happily joined by Grandma and Grandpa Diener. This year the cupcakes invoked massive smiles and immediate plunging into the icing. A far cry from last year when the cupcake and presentation of icing brought Tasha to tears and Kat didn’t particularly want to eat hers. The gift of the day was definitely the new sandbox…thank you Linny for finding it and thank you Neil for seeking out the elusive “play sand.”

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Round two occurred on Saturday when we held our first ever kiddy birthday party. We felt so lucky to have some of our favorite people to celebrate with us. Grandparents, Linny, Auntie Maggie, Auntie Denise, PEPS friends, and the lovely Arthurs and Carters among others. Despite the rain, we were able to make use of the best invention ever. OVER-SIZED INFLATABLE BOWLING.

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Round three occurred on Monday when the girls got to celebrate at preschool. The kids sang happy birthday twice, the girls made birthday crowns thanks to Teacher Janice, and we had pajama night at preschool to top it off. Pretty good living. Especially these horses…their favorite thing at preschool.

Girls @ preschool

Other adventures since our last post included a lovely visit from Grandma Sue. We had many adventures, enjoying Golden Gardens, discovering Kubota Gardens (a hidden gem in Seattle), and visiting the tulip fields!

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In April we had a visit to Canmore to meet baby NESSSSA and Allison. Off the charts cuteness. She and Cousin Naveen have to have a photo shoot together. Also constituting a major breakthrough (especially for Neil’s back) was that the girls were able to sit in their plane seats without car seats. They’re growing up…sniff sniff!!

Girls, Allison & NessaAlli, Nessa and girls in Canmore

Alli & Nessa in CanmoreTash watching Deer Canmore

As the girls reach age 3, we have been reflecting back on their early days. Prematurity, more than 100 days in the NICU, feeding tubes, 17 hours of feeding per day, staggered sleep shifts to cope with two newborns, endless late night bouncing and rocking.  Some long days, but years gone quickly. In the blink of an eye they are people with strong and beautiful characters. We didn’t think it possible, but every day becomes even more enjoyable. We look forward to seeing what these two accomplish next…and to being a part of their life adventures!

 

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25 January, 2016: BELATED HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wow. Six months since our last post. Even if belated, we first and foremost wish all our friends and family the very best in health and happiness for 2016!  We are surrounded by such wonderful people and our appreciation for them has only grown since the arrival of our dear daughters 2.75 years ago.

Our last few months were rather dominated by two major but very different trips.

  1. Hike, hike, and hot tub in CanmoreIMG_0475

We were lucky enough to take a two month sabbatical in breathtaking Canmore, Alberta. It was an incredible experience. And a very physical one with 17 hikes accomplished in total. We were still able to carry the girls in baby carriers/backpacks so the hiking exertion was stepped up thanks to the extra 25 pounds each.  No breaks when you have twins! Lucky for us, they didn’t mind being in the backpacks. And you don’t need bear bells when you are carrying toddlers. For one hike we left Elmo in the car; we, and the surrounding countryside, were serenaded to hours of “Elmo? Elmo? Elmo? Elmo?”. Next hike we absolutely remembered Elmo….and were serenaded to hours of “Elmo red. Elmo red. Elmo red. Elmo red.” I’m sure the bears ran away as fast as they could. We also learned that Kat loves high winds but Tash does not (“Stop wind. Stop wind. Stop wind”).  It was all worth it and we would recommend that everyone add “experiencing fall in the Canadian Rockies” to their bucket list! A few outdoorsy highlights: a night at Emerald Lake, the 13 mile trek to see the Burgess Shale fossils, Quarry Lake in Canmore town proper, and the larches at Highwood Pass.

Just another day in the Canadian Rockies:

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I will add that we purposefully got back to Seattle in time to enjoy Halloween. The girls went with astronaut and Cookie Monster. Sort of funny as neither of them had much interest in cookies…until Christmas when they discovered the joys of gingerbread cookies…which has changed EVERYTHING. A whole new world.  We also did the now annual pumpkin patch. This is far more of a hit than trick or treating, which is just confusing to Kat and downright alarming to Tasha.

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2. Christmas in Toronto

This year, bringing a Christmas tree INSIDE the house was mind blowing for the girls. They patted and hugged it and talked about the tree having enough water. They also tore off every ornament within reach. And then, before we knew it, we were back in travel mode headed to Toronto to spend Christmas with the whole family. So lovely! We had a full ten days to spend with Grandma and Grandpa Diener, as well as Aunt Vinaya, Uncle Anton and BABY NAVEEN!  The girls were really excited about their baby cousin. We kept discussing this new baby with such exuberance that they can’t say his name without yelling it (“BAAAABY NAVEEEEEEN”). Although to be honest, the girls had entered into the stage of being fascinated with electronic devices and the baby monitor used to watch Naveen during naps was enthralling (never mind the baby).

Kat xmas 2015

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For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we had the pleasure of hanging out with the Wichmans. We feel very lucky to have had Kat & Tasha meet the their relatives this year. Not to mention we achieved the impossible…a group photo!

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So where are we at now? Well. The girls are definitely two year olds (fast approaching three). They have very strong opinions about toys they should play with, food they should eat, where they and we should sit or stand (“there dada, no, THERE”), and how a blanket should be placed over them when in bed (“flat momma, no, FLAT”). Bedtime now involves one book, saying goodnight to a half dozen animals, and more than a half dozen requests for water. One of their new favorite things is singing. We took them to Benaroya concert hall for a kids Christmas music special and they are still talking about “the lady” (she remains nameless) who sang and played piano and drums. They also learned the words to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and sing it approximately 249 times a day, especially Tasha who really likes to belt it out like a baritone opera singer. More recently they have ramped up their imaginative play; they enjoy serving up pancakes from their kitchen and changing baby’s diaper (cream and wipes essential).

To end this long post, I will add that I (Lara) am  training for a half marathon in February with a group called Team Challenge. This crazy endeavor is to raise awareness and funds for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Should you have made it this far, please consider reading my story and even making a small donation at:  http://online.ccfa.org/goto/Diener

It’s a meaningful cause for me and the over 1.2 million others affected by this disease (who usually keep really quiet about it).

So meaningful, in fact, Neil jumped into frigid Lake Washington after running 5km the morning of January 1st to help Lara raise money for the CCFA. He is depicted post polar bear plunge in the photo below left. Below right is the CCFA team in training, with Lara in orange hat. This was before running 9 training miles in monsoon rains this past Saturday morning, at which point we were just as sopping wet as Neil. What a start to 2016…we hope you all are staying warmer and drier than us 🙂

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1 August, 2015: Baby and Toddler Joy!

PART I: BABY!

We hadn’t thought about re-addressing babies in this blog now that our girls are toddlers. However, there’s been a massively exciting development in the family. The girls have a cousin!!!!!!!  Welcome to the world Naveen Diener!  We couldn’t be more excited to be autie/uncle/cousins to this lovely little boy.

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The girls are practicing to “be gentle” in high gear now. Hard to tell. Fingers crossed for you, Naveen 🙂

PART II: TODDLERS!

Yes, two-year old twins are a ton of work. And the tantrums have aged us (Lara at least, Neil seems more impervious to the roller coaster that is toddler emotion!). However, toddlers come with such joy, curiosity, and cuteness that we find ourselves filled to the brim with joy, curiosity, and well, grey hairs. At the end of the day it’s a damn cute age and we are on board with the old adage, “wouldn’t change a thing.”

So here’s Tash & Kat at 26.5 months (they should actually only be 2 years old today if Kat hadn’t been in such a rush to enter the world!).

Girls on new bench july 2015

They are full fledged little people who now ask for milk or banana, choose their own shirts, and tell us to sit down and read them a book in a no-nonsense tone (“sit…here…read”). They could not possibly adore Elmo and the Sesame Street characters any more . They mimic our actions (sweeping, dancing, marching) and words (“Oh sweetie”, “Oh puppy”, “no no no no”) every chance they get. Sponges.

One of the highlights of the past few months was the family trip to Hawaii. We visited Kona again with Grandma and Grandpa Diener (no Anton & Vinaya this year, sniff sniff, but refer to Part I for reason). In terms of kid outcomes, this trip was mountains improved over last year!!!  Flawless nights and naps, no infections contracted, and enjoyment of the beach (last year it was evil sand and terrifying tidepools). Sweet memories this trip.

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Tasha was a little more cautious than Kat about using words, but she’s discovered her voice since Hawaii to the say the least. Lots of chatter with an emphasis on puppies, Elmo, and Cookie Monster (Sesame Street has superseded the baby fixation). Kat has an extensive vocabulary and startled us the other day by reciting numbers up to six.  Sometimes I wonder if they’re at last starting to listen to each other. They have sweet moments looking over a book together, reading the story obviously with their own interpretation and pointing emphatically at each character. These are unfortunately outnumbered by moments of frustration over sister taking toy of the moment. Or getting too close. Or using the spoon the other wanted. Or laying face down over a jigsaw puzzle so sister can’t place the last satisfying piece. However, as far as I know adults don’t tend to splay themselves over board games to prevent plays so we’re hoping that one is just a phase.

Really the videos portray the sounds and movements of toddlers best, so here goes…

Reading & Singing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVWPRpoj3Ec

Reading & Dancing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eFG8_-KTWU

Just dancing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGfLvMaugoI

What’s that on your head, Kat? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVoCFe_nH_U

Squeaky shoes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBSgiEXmoBI

Sliding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baqhKxDSonk

Bubbles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZizc61pWpA

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2015: What? We’re TWO!

“They” talk about the miracle of life. “They” also say that life with young kids consists of some really long days, but weeks that fly by. We’re on board with both concepts. Maybe not exactly reproduction so much as the miracle of development. That is, how, in an extraordinarily short two years, did these two tiny blobby beings evolve into the little people – little people with fierce opinions, kindness, affection, intelligence, and cunning – we have today. It’s an awesome thing. Exhibits A-D below.

Birth ….   6 months….  1 year…..  2 years

Katarina Asleep Tash at 7 weeks

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To celebrate the two year mark, we had some lovely cupcakes.  Apparently frosting can be a horrifying experience for some. Who knew.

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We also took a field trip to Kelsey Creek farm to meet the chickens, bunnies, pigs, horses and goats. A success story! The horses were such a hit, Tasha offered her stuffed bear to his/her snout.

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Speaking of stuffed bears…shout out to Pop Kitchen! Thank you, they were a hit!

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For her birthday, Tasha also won the crazy morning hair award 🙂  The girls tied for the tissue paper tearing contest.

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For all the details, check out the video: https://youtu.be/0xPPlaCVZ3s

Earlier in the year, we were able to hit the Skagit tulip festival finally. The wheel barrow was a hit for ten minutes. Then Kat wanted it to stop moving so she could hop in and out, whereas Tash wanted to be pulled in it. Conflict. Tears. Screams. Wheel barrow had to be hidden behind bed of tulips. But good pics were captured and colors were gorgeous.

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Thankfully, they are not always fighting. Sometime they read together (https://youtu.be/Scic7B3Q6MA) and sometimes play (https://youtu.be/-2Ur6OEc5Ek)

We also had our first Easter egg hunt experience with the girls. It was an event hosted by the families of multiples organization. So picture a field of easter eggs teeming with twins. Eerie? Cute?  Up for grabs. Either way, eggs were a tad confusing and sometimes upsetting to our girls at this stage.

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We also had springtime visits from Grandma and Grandpa Diener. Fun times walking around Golden Gardens, Pike Market, and the hood.

IMG_3164Grandpa D visit to Golden GardensGirls on walk with grandpa DFam at Pike Market March 2015

Bonus shot. Typical dog-pile evening for Lara:

Lara, girls and Bruno March 2015

Finally, extra videos for the die-hards!

Girls discovering an art installation at Fremont Peak Park:  https://youtu.be/1umoNv3rulg.

Training for babysitting: https://youtu.be/P-F5ROkiUu8

Trains & slides:  https://youtu.be/e9Jb2soyx34

 

25 March, 2015: MummyDaddyBruno!

It’s been far too long since our last update!  This extremely sunny and mild winter in Seattle flew by. Did we really have a winter?? Cherry blossoms began in late February!

Seattle blooms

We haven’t had a well check with the doctor for awhile but the girls are still hovering around 21 pounds each. They seem to be stretching vertically. Kat almost seems a smidge taller than Tash, and is still very wiry and nimble. When you pick her up she scrambles onto you like Legolas on a Mumakil. Tash is becoming a lot more social with strangers (role reversal there) and is our roughhouser. I’m pleased to report they do have affectionate moments with each other more frequently. Not often. But more frequently!

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The biggest change here is the arrival of words. Kat’s first words were “up”, “mommy”, “daddy”, and “puppy”. Tash has moved on from the all-encompassing verb/noun/adjective “guh” to “mommy”, “daddy”, “ba” [ball], “be” [bird], “baaa” [bath], and a VERY clear “puppy”. They rotated these words for quite some time, but something has switched on for Kat recently. She now says “no no no no”, “Bruno”, “Mommydaddybruno”, and an assortment of other random words (pancake, button, monkey, airplane, cream, sticky, kick). We were really excited when she said her sister’s name for the first time yesterday. It’s such fun to watch the verbal communication thing take flight. It’s also so much easier to have them say “milk” or “book” instead of crying and straining for some mysterious item.

The girls have also become far more physical and activity-oriented. No more shaking little baby toys. They love being outside throwing rocks, mixing pine cones in a bowl, swinging or using the slide at the park, plucking the neighbor’s flowers, etc. While indoors they adore watching airplanes and birds through the window. They still love sweeping and wiping, but I’m 100% that is mimicry that will not last much longer. They have just discovered that their “babies” [small plastic dolls] can be clothed and fed with a spoon or bottle. VERY exciting development for them. Life in general is one big party of exploration.

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Girls & tulipsGirls playing dirt Jan 2015

Most recently, they acquired their own arm chairs….

Kat in new chair March 2015 Tash in new chair March 2015

….light enough for a girl on the go with places to be…

Girls with new chairs March 2015

Girls moving new chairs March 2015

…bonus feature is it facilitates climbing!

Kat with new chair March 2015

After our lovely holiday in Canmore, Alberta we decided to repeat the trip one last time before we have to start paying for the girls’ own seats on the plane (at age two, no breaks for preemies who spent the first three months of life in the hospital, boo). The goal was also to see Uncle Anton and Aunt Vinaya there. Unfortunately, Tash was hit hard by illness in February. We postponed the trip by a few days only to arrive there and have Kat come down with the bug. Not pretty for three quarters of the trip, but at least for the end bit both girls were back to their happy selves AND got to briefly see Grandma D. and Grandpa. D.  We are grateful that the girls didn’t pass this bug on to their aunt and uncle.

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Canmore Family Pic Feb 2015

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Note Tasha had her first very Canadian experience of wielding a hockey stick. Bit scary.

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Add grandma to the mix with another stick. More scary. Or funny if you’re Tasha.

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Most recently we had the pleasure of Grandma D. staying with us in Seattle for a few more days. Lots of quality grandma time. Here’s a shot of the Grandma D and Tasha skyping with Grandpa D. We all love the ipad here.

Grandma D & Tash talking to BO

The pics really don’t do the girls’ development justice, so a few videos for live action:

Kat feeding Tash: http://youtu.be/nuyIwW8Z8b4

Girls feeding Bruno: http://youtu.be/ZE0kUtm9sck

Girls feeding themselves: http://youtu.be/82rMtXxKw9k

Girls dancing to Metallica: http://youtu.be/c9erca5Suv4

Girls holding hands: http://youtu.be/l18PSN8JuvI

Up and down: http://youtu.be/2TZbl0cZcJs

On the deck in March…and yoga: http://youtu.be/XJjvS_AV3z4

4 January, 2015: Happy New Year!

Wishing a happy and healthy 2015 to all our friends and family!

We spent the holidays in Canmore, enjoying a week in the mountains with grandparents. A real Christmas miracle was the fact that both toddlers and all five adults were healthy!  (of course we had been blasted by bad colds before the holiday, so got that bit over with)

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As far as Christmas goes, the girls are still oblivious to the whole deal (e.g. underwhelmed by tree: http://youtu.be/TP1DD23PxIk ). They got some pretty cute presents, but were often just enamored with the tissue paper. I’d say the most popular toy yet is the Star Wars deck of cards we picked up at Goodwill for a buck. They like to sort through them endlessly, move them from floor to sofa, and sometimes place one next to Bruno so he doesn’t feel left out. Otherwise, books are still a huge hit and they’ll sit rifling through them for nice stretches of time. Oh…and the motorbike, dishwasher, and broom also make the top five most fascinating household items!

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The town of Canmore now has a gorgeous community center called Elevation Place complete with library, climbing walls, coffee shop, lounge, pool, and toddler slide. A huge hit with the girls who liked to gaze (we think longingly) at the climbers through the glass wall.  Our guess is Kat will be scaling those walls as soon as she’s allowed in…age four, apparently. We also had our first visit to a library while there. Most appropriately Grandma Diener, former Librarian was able to share this extra special moment with the girls.

Canmore elevation place Dec. 2014 Canmore library Dec 2014

In other news, the girls had their 18 month appointments back in November. The pediatrician often just says, “you’d never know these were 28 weeker preemies.”  They are the same weight (just over 20 lb) and height. They chatter gobbledygook a great deal and don’t have too many words at this stage, which is still on track if you go by their their adjusted age. So far Kat says “mama” and “dada”, but possibly her most well-used word is “up.” Meaning lift her up mainly so she can see what you’re doing on the counter or table. Tash has a fondness for b words…she uses “bye bye” the most, followed by “ba” for ball and bath and bird and plane. They like reading and dancing  (http://youtu.be/V36Vu47L2s0), and are starting to chase each other (http://youtu.be/L3_eprHN0eY) while squealing. And of course we got them really drunk one night (http://youtu.be/SC7ywKNHC68). That was after one beer each.

Katarina, 19 months

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Kat Canmore Dec 2014

Natasha, 19 months

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Some bonus shots:

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And finally, more video for the die hard fans:

Breakfast in Canmore : http://youtu.be/U7m1aYGPxdI

Tasha nuzzling her sister: http://youtu.be/yvKGoEAl4-0

Light is fascinating: http://youtu.be/w_0JcmChldM

 

2 November, 2014: May the force be with you!

A belated Happy Halloween to all!  We dedicate this post to Lara’s late cousin, Leighann, and think she would have approved of the costumes and our pumpkins.

Halloween pumpkins 2014

Tasha and Kat had their second successful Halloween (success defined by us is their willingness…or tolerance…to wear a costume of our choice). They went as the Star Wars desert creatures, Jawas, well executed thanks to their height and toddling. What a difference from last Halloween! This time last year Kat was on the brink of having her feeding tube removed permanently. We still feared she wouldn’t be able to take in enough milk on her own and that g-tube surgery might be in her future. But wow- did she ever prove the naysayers wrong. Feisty Kat took to drinking from a bottle and eventually to eating solids like she couldn’t believe we’d held out on her for so long.  Here are our “now” and “then” shots:

Halloween 2014tash halloween 2014bHalloween Kat 2014

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In the spirit of the season, we also managed to visit our first pumpkin patch. A first for all, in fact. Neil had never seen so many pumpkins in his life and still thinks it’s all “slightly weird”. The girls personalities shone through as Kat motored from pumpkin to pumpkin, while Tash stood rooted to one spot making “I’m not sure about this” sounds.

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We also had Grandpa Diener in town that weekend for a lovely visit. Tasha decided that feeding him her dinner was the most fun she’d had all week. Kat, as always, enjoyed flying through the air compliments of Grandpa D.

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In early October, we were able to visit Canmore. The girls’ third trip there!  The fall foliage was absolutely gorgeous and we were able to do walks by the Bow River, as well as one “hard core” hike with the girls in baby backpacks. Not sure how much longer that will be sustainable as they get bigger and more interested in using their own two feet. And no…Neil did not carry both girls up the mountain…this was a “change of scenery” tactic for Kat after she had a slight meltdown at the summit. Lucky for all, it did the trick.

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The girls also had what we’d call their first real “play in the park” experience. The mulch and pebbles tend to be the most interesting part of being outside for them…however, once Neil gave Kat a demonstration of the slide, she was enamored. Tasha marched around the park features to assess them and got up close and personal with the boulder wall (yes, only in Canmore).

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Last but not least, we had professional shots taken of the family end of summer. These didn’t make it into the last blog update, so here go some of our favs!

Ms. Natasha Sophia, 15 months

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Ms. Katarina Grace, 15 months

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The gang:

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And bonus shots (we’re impressed if you made it this far). How in trouble are we here???

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