Year in Review: 2017 Edition

It is easy to look back at 2017 and remember all the ways that this year was weird, hard, and chaotic. But, I started organizing my yearly photo-books (I make a 8×8 Shutterfly photo-book for every three months.  I intended to make a “yearbook” but let’s be real, I take WAY too many pictures of my children), I was reminded that there was far more joy and I am so thankful for it all.

Here is a recap of our year:

January

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Grandma Kimmy visited and went to the Treasure Island Kite festival.  We also had a visit from Laura and Nick. We rooted the Packer into the play-offs…but there is always next year (haha).

February

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We worked like crazy in December and January, so we took an impromptu trip to Orlando.  We stayed in an awesome suite and watched the Superbowl.  We randomly saw Jeff and Kristen since they were also in Orlando! We survived a few days without Daddy while he was at Keller Williams’ Family Reunion in Las Vegas for Valentine’s Day.  Doug got a new car: a black 4Runner.

March

For the big birthday month, we spent a week at the beach in Venice with Doug’s whole family.  They were all there for Camdon’s first birthday.  Doug celebrated his day at a Ray’s spring training game.  And, Donovan turned three with a Dino party.

April

We celebrated the wedding of Matt and Debbie in Gainesville. Andrew returned home from Bahrain.  And, we loved everything about the Easter season.

May

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For Mother’s Day, I got an awesome garden, so we spent lots of try out in the yard.  Donovan really loved the whole process of digging and watering.  We are so thankful for that huge backyard.  We have spent so many hours playing out there!

June

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My childhood bestie got married and I was thrilled to stand by her side!  Doug and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. Our AC died on Father’s Day and we booked a trip of a lifetime to Iceland and Sweden.

July

Obviously, this is the best month of year!  I celebrated my 31st birthday and we spent our annual week on Anna Maria Island.  This year we bought our own timeshare!

August 

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Right after our week at the beach, Doug told me he wanted me to come see a house. Little did we both know that we would move three weeks later. This month was sheer chaos.  Packing, prepping the new house (it needed WORK), renting our house, and moving.  I’m tired thinking about it all.  We love our new home! And, we loved seeing our dear friends, the Motleys, who visited during the chaos.  Y’all, only good friends (who see you at your most stressed) can come visit you during such a crazy season. As if there wasn’t enough change in our lives, Donovan switched to a new house, new room, new bed (Toddler bed instead of the crib) and started a new school.  Homeslice did not know what hit him.

September

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This month is defined by one word: IRMA. Mic Drop.

OK, but really, so stressful.  We boarded up and traveled to South Carolina and stayed with my dear and very pregnant friend, Sarah.  We also ended up in the same town as my ride-or-die momma friend, Jen.  The photo above is us with the kids at a Chick-fila. Shortly after returning home, we all had the plague and were home sick for about two weeks. My baby sister, Rachel moved to Chicago.

October

We took a trip to Kansas to visit the Motley crew and celebrate Evey’s fourth birthday. We loved the Midwest fun at the farm. We literally finished the Whole30 days before the trip.  The 30 days of the Whole30 might have been the quietest part of our year…go figure. For Halloween, we dressed up as the Wizard of Oz. I was very proud that I was able to sew the boy’s costumes.

November

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I took a trip to Chicago for Leah’s rescheduled (Thanks, Irma) Bachelorette. She got married the next weekend.  It was a beautiful day and I was honored to stand by her side and her Matron on Honor. Sidenote…being the MOH is a ton of work. Other sidenote…I OFFICIALLY have a BROTHER!  Grandma Kimmy came back to help and so did Ashley. Thanksgiving was a wonderful season and we started Christmas early as we prepared for our big trip. PSA: check your passports before you book your trip. If you don’t, just know that Miami does same day issuance, which I do not recommend.

December

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Iceland and Sweden was amazing. I wish we could travel the world everyday. We loved sharing this trip with Grandma and Grandpa DeGroot.  We did not see the Norther Lights and we had very little snow (all that we saw was in this picture), but the kids had a blast and we all had so much fun.  Christmas through the eyes of your children is such a blessing and we enjoyed a beautiful and simple holiday. This year, most of our gifts didn’t fit under a tree because we did them (trip to Europe and our annual sister day). Doug also go a new car: a navy blue 4Runner.

For real estate, we helped 42 families buy or sell this year. And, together we reached our highest production ever!  That is called hustle, my friends.  And, we are forever thankful for our amazing customers, family and friends who chose us to help them.

While this year might look awesome and positive, do not let my recap lead you to believe that it was easy.  We were manic and stressed and tired and sick and crabby so much this year. Looking back, I am grateful for all that we did and everyone that we saw, but I do not recommend it. Be sensible people!  This year we will be saying ‘no’ more. We will be taking care of our family’s health (mental, spiritual, and physical) as our primary goal. We will be simplifying and staying still more often. And, I’m sure there will be adventure and fun, just maybe a little less.  And, that is A-OK with us!

WHEW!  What a year!  We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings us!

With Love,

Jenna

Two Children and a Wedding

We have been to a handful of weddings since we became parents.  D’s first flight was to Alaska for Kristin and Adam’s wedding.  He was just under three months!Other than that, I don’t think either boy has attended any weddings.  We have always found a sitter so we could enjoy the event and avoid messing with our sacred sleep schedule.

Recently, we traveled to Gainesville to  celebrate the wedding of a dear family friend. We left early because, well, we have children and they do not sleep in. Ever. Somehow we missed the memo that April 1st was the official departure day of all snowbirds, so traffic was a bit heavier than we would have liked.  We made it safely and early enough for nap time.  The hotel was able to check us in early (Thank you, Jesus) and we got settled in our room.  With all of the commotion and excitement, D had no intentions of taking a snooze.  Cam took a short one.  I knew we would be in for an interested afternoon.

As with all attempts to go anywhere with children, chaos ensued and we were almost late to the wedding.  I have to give my husband a big shout-out because he held everything together and got us there in a cool and calm manner while I was freaking out.


The ceremony was outside at a beautiful farm in Alachua (how do you pronounce Alachua?) My dad was one of the groomsmen and D was very excited to see him walk down the aisle and stand up front.  So excited that he decided to yell, “Hi Grand-dad” during the vows.  He soon realized that this was getting him lots of attention so I had to literally hold my hand over his mouth the rest of the ceremony.  He could not be trusted.


Meanwhile, Cam was beginning to get antsy, so thank goodness we had puffs.  Or, so I thought.  The moment D saw the puffs, he wanted them too.  Which would have been fine if he hadn’t started whining and yelling about needing puffs that very moment.  Again, I am trying to keep my children as quiet as possible so we don’t disrupt the entire ceremony.  Eventually, a battle ensues over said puffs and they have to be put away.

From what I saw of the ceremony, it was beautiful.  Matt and Debbie looked so happy.   The farm was amazing and there was so much space for the boys to run around and there was cool tree right in the middle.  It was nice to be in an area where I knew that we could let them roam while still being able to keep an eye on them.  It was a bit warm so Doug and I traded off trailing the kids.  I probably would not have encouraged the tree climbing while in dress clothes, but I guess that’s what Dads are for.

The reception was held inside and we snagged a table on the edge.  I knew we would be up and down a lot.  D instantly found his way to the dance floor and was totally content to dance by himself.  It was pretty adorable.  I did need to step in to remind him to be gentle with the other children, but overall, he was too busy being a dancing fool.


Dinner was a delicious southern barbecue.  And, naturally, D ate only the mac-and-cheese, only when we could tear him away from the dance floor.

My family was a great help through it all.  They took the boys outside and danced with them.  They helped with dinner and were the extra eyes and hands to help us.


Bedtime is 7pm sharp.  By 7 we had just finished eating dinner and the dancing had just started.  Cam did a few rounds on the dance floor and by 7:30 he was asleep in Doug’s arms.  D, on the other hand, was full of energy and was running and dancing inside and outside.  It didn’t take too long to realize that with one already asleep, that the other would soon crash and we had a bit of a drive ahead of us to get back to the hotel.  We aren’t usually the first to leave, but by 7:45 we were out the door.


I packed pjs and had both boys ready for bed as we got on the road.  You would think they would fall right to sleep in the car.  Not.  You would think they would fall right to sleep when we got back. Nope.  Finally, around 9ish they gave in.


Overall, the boys did really well.  Even without good naps they managed to make it through the wedding without any major meltdowns.  I still think that weddings are more enjoyable when you do not have to chase after your children, especially while being dressed up.   I find that when you expect your children to behave like adults in social settings, you are usually setting unrealistic expectations.  Everything is novel and exciting to them and they have no clue what is socially acceptable.  They just know what their wants and needs are and running in a field, climbing a tree, and calling out to their loved ones are exactly what kids their age should be doing. And, that is ok!  As parents, we teach them how to behave in those settings, but we also have to be realistic about how long and how well they can handle being outside of their norm.   For us, it is always ideal to keep sleep schedules as close to regular as possible.  It just gives you a little extra assurance that they are rested, which means they should be better able to adjust to the new situations.  At least my dress was super easy to nurse in and the next morning the boys slept in!  Until 7:30 am.


Have you brought your children to a wedding?  What are your tips for traveling with children and keeping them happy at a wedding?

With Love,

From Me To You

September 2015

One of the best things about September is football is BACK!  College Game Day mornings return and lazy Sundays watching WAY too much tv resume.  There is something wonderful about a new season.  All of the possibility and potential is just brimming from each player and you once again hope that your team will win it all.

Sharing our love of football with Donovan is only natural.  I am usually pretty strict about the ‘no-screen-time’ rule, but football is just different.  Thankfully, Doug and I made a vow (literally, before we got married) that we would root for the Seminoles as our college team and the Packers for our professional team.  Many of my Bears fan family were shocked by my allegiance; however, I have found that when the Packers win, my husband is happy and so is our household 🙂

Donovan did learn many cheers and chants this season.  He will eventually know the correct words to the fight song and he had to begin learning about first downs, touch downs, and cheering for his teams.  We quickly learned that Donovan picks up everything we say.  So, during certain moments of frustration while watching games, we had to be mindful of not using words out of anger.  Inevitably, those would be the only words that he would hear and repeat.

Doug’s mom, Kathy, came for a wonderful visit.  We took her to the Columbia for a nice lunch together and we visited the Aquarium.  We also enjoyed a dinner and a sunset at Siesta Key with my family.  Kathy is so sweet with Donovan.  She is incredibly patient and good with children and she played with Donovan so much.  This allowed Doug and I to finish a few house projects that we had been putting off since we hardly ever have time carved out to tackle them while watching the little man.  We all loved our time with her and wish that she lived closer.

We also got to enjoy a date night, thanks to Grandma Kimmy!  We were joined by our favorite third wheel, Andrew!

We loved using our zoo passes for “swap-tember” and visited the aquarium as much as we could.  Donovan and Evey loved seeing all of the fish and animals that live under the sea.  It is awesome to be able to share many fun outings with friends and their children, especially when they are close in age.  Most importantly, they just ‘get it’ when your child is crabby or needs a break because they have been there.

Donovan is still learning to be gentle with his friends, especially poor Evey!  He gets so excited to play with them that he needs to take a minute to calm down.  I have loved Dr. Harvey Karp’s book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block.  I recommend it to anyone with a toddler.  We have been practicing many of the techniques and our favorite is just taking a few deep breaths to just restart and move forward when Donovan gets too worked up.

Other fun times from September included trips to the park, school picture day, eating out (Donovan mostly likes to eat crayons…don’t let those sweet pictures fool you), adventures to Bass Pro Shop and Top Golf (courtesy of Auntie YaYa) and of course the joys of teething.

We also shared our big news with all of our family, friends, and Facebook.  It was nice to have our big secret out in the open so we no longer had to dodge certain topics or situations.  We shared the news at my parent’s Labor Day BBQ since many of our family and friends were there for the celebration.  As for the morning sickness and hormones, well, they were still hanging in there with full force.  Luckily, I started to feel better a little further into my second trimester.

With Love,

From Me to You

Donovan: Month Eleven

February was all about visitors!  Grandma Kimmy arrived just in time to babysit so Doug and I could go to the Bob Seger concert with my family.  I know you are wondering why we would go to a Bob Seger concert.  Well, each summer the Schwartz family would drive to Illinois to visit family.  Looking back, the summer road trips are some of my favorite family memories.  Sure, it was a really long time in the car and there were some moments on each trip when one, or all, of us would wish we were there already, but the quality time was so unique and special.  To help pass the time, we listened to a lot of music.  The driver usually had final say and there ways really only so much N’Sync that my Dad could tolerate.  Bob Seger was a favorite and the greatest hits cd reminds me of those long hours on the road.  My Dad purchased tickets for my Mom’s birthday and he let the rest of the family tag along.  The concert was great!

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Adam and Kristin had spent their honeymoon in Costa Rica and on their return, they planed a stop in Florida to visit with family.  Kathy decided to come visit us before we traveled south.  The visit was perfect.  Ann and Frank were excellent hosts!  And, both Kathleen and Maggie, their two daughters, were able to come home.  It was so fun seeing Kristin’s growing bump!

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Ann and Kathy had planned a surprised baby shower for Kristin and Adam, so Doug and I were responsible for distracting them.  We took them to Buy Buy Baby to test-drive some strollers and so Kristin and Adam could check out all of the fun baby gear.  I’m pretty sure that every new parent that walks through those doors is overwhelmed by all the stuff lining the walls.  I remember wondering if I really needed any of it.  We did the best we could to not add to the baby stuff mania.   We showed them exactly what we used and what was just fluff.

When we got home, Kristin and Adam were so surprised by the Baby Shower.  We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and Ann had some fun games to plan.  My personal favorite was when Frank, Doug and Adam had to put a balloon under their shirts and accomplish a number of tasks while being “pregnant”.  I wish they could actually know how challenging it is to carry around that baby bump, but it was pretty entertaining to watch.  Unfortunately, Doug made me swear to not post any pictures from the relay.

Kristin and Adam are waiting to find out the sex of the baby, so we offered our favorite baby names.  Some of them were better than others.  We can’t wait to hear if any of our suggestions made it to the top of their lists.  We still don’t know what names they have decided on!

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The next morning Doug, Donovan and Kathy took a swim, even though it was still a little chilly.

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We left the next day, but not until we took a bunch of family pictures!!

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On the drive home...the car was parked :)
On the drive home…the car was parked 🙂

Valentine’s day was a busy one.  I had to work in the morning, so my Valentines met me for a walk at Flatwoods Park.  They brought food for a picnic.  The weather was still a little cool, but the sun was warm, which made for a beautiful walk!

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That evening we went with Phil and Amber to check out Top Golf.  Being a non-golfer, I did not expect that I would enjoy the outing.  But, in the end I was really impressed.  It felt really similar to bowling because there was a place to sit when it wasn’t your turn and their were different games that you could play.  I thought that you would just hit the ball as far as you could, like a driving range.  There were these different colored ball pits that indicated different points and you could play different games depending on what your group wanted to do.  Everything was super high-tech and the seating was really nice.  The beer was great, too!  However, I am not any better at golf, nor do I think that I will enjoy golf anytime soon!

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Aunt Joni and Uncle John came down for a two week visit.  It was so nice to see them! They came over to see our house and we enjoyed a nice dinner outside on our awesome new patio set that we found a yard sale.

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February is also the beginning of Strawberry season in Florida.  After an afternoon adventure hike, we found this amazing produce stand that sold the best strawberry shortcake.  After our discovery, we became addicted!  So delicious!

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We celebrated Italian night with the Mitchells and Sweeneys while Aunt Joni and Uncle John were in town.  Michael came down for the second half of their visit and it was so nice to have everyone together!

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Donovan reached a big milestone this month.  After a few steps here and there he started WALKING!

A few random moments:

Donovan loves spaghetti!
Donovan loves spaghetti!
Stella puts up with so much!
Stella puts up with so much!

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Still babywearing!
Still babywearing!

Eleven month Photos:

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With Love,

From Me to You

Donovan: Month Ten

The New Year always makes me sentimental.  I like reflecting on all that has been accomplished and all of the events that made the year memorable.  2014 has been the best year of our lives.  Nothing can compare to the joy that we experienced as we welcomed Donovan to our lives.  Watching him grow and change has been such a blessing and it was taught us so much, too.  Moving back to Florida and buying our home has truly made life more complete.  Saying good-bye to the best year ever was harder than I thought it would be.  But it also reminded me that there are many memories yet to be made.

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In true Schwartz Family tradition, we rang in the new year with our close family and friends.  It was wonderful to be able to drink this year and someone even made an appearance at midnight…I guess he couldn’t miss out on all of the fun!

IMG_6717Doug and I met in December of 2008 and he came to our NYE party that year.  So each year we celebrate our anniversary of meeting.  7 years!

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We suffered through a horrible FSU game:

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Donovan has become quite the little “helper” with chores:

Folding Laundry
Folding Laundry
He really loved laundry!
He really loves laundry!
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Packing Christmas items
Putting his toys away
Putting his toys away
Entertaining/annoying Stella
Entertaining/annoying Stella

We celebrated Cuba night at our house with the Mitchells (Photo credit to Mary):

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We suffered through a Packer play-off game:

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Using my new bread maker!
Using my new bread maker!

We enjoyed a chilly day at the Children’s Gasparilla Parade with the Motleys:

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And a fun visit from the Saliards.  And, they shared some very exciting news!

Baby Saliard will be arriving August 2015!

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We enjoyed a St. Pete sunset on MLK weekend.  Complete with dinner at the Hurricane and lots of Grouper! YUM!

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And lots of fun with family:

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10 month photos:

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With Love,

From Me to You

Donovan: Month Nine

Kathy Visits

Doug’s mom came to visit right after Thanksgiving.  We took her to eat at the Columbia and took pictures where we had taken our engagement photos many years before.

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Donovan enjoyed so much quality time with his Grandma Kimmy.  They were so sweet together and we really appreciated her help as we were getting the house ready for the reception for Donovan’s baptism.

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Donovan’s Baptism

Donovan’s baptism was on November 30, 2014.  The ceremony was perfect and the reception was lots of fun! To read more about the baptism, read my blog post here

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Christmas Time

We had lots of fun enjoying Donovan’s first Christmas season.

We pick out our (well at least the first one for me and Donovan) first real Christmas tree:

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Donovan learned about the reason for the season.  Thank you to the Mitchells for the cute Nativity set!

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Donovan met Santa and went to Christmas Town.  There were tears 😦

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We celebrated the season with friends.

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We started wearing our food:

Carrots
Carrots
Peas
Peas
not sure...avocado?
not sure…avocado?

We went to the Live Nativity in Sarasota

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My sisters and I enjoyed our annual sister day:

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I got an early Christmas present! #wearallthebabies

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Christmas Eve

We hosted my family for Christmas Eve dinner at our house.  Doug did a great job making the prime rib and stuffed mushrooms.  We quickly learned that heating at really high temperatures results in lots of smoke.  It was a little hectic getting ready for dinner, but the food was delicious!

We opened presents and Donovan loved his new car!

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We went to mass at Nativity then came home.  We read “T’was the Night Before Christmas” and got ready for bed.

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Christmas Day

Donovan loved all of his many presents; however, the paper and boxes were far more interesting that what was inside of them.

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We enjoyed opening presents together as a family.  It was so special waking up in our house and starting family traditions!

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We went to Sarasota to enjoy the holiday with my family.

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Random photos:

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9 Month Photos:

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With Love,

From Me to You

Donovan’s Baptism

Donovan was baptized a Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon, Florida on November 30, 2014. Doug and I were both raised in Christian homes so we knew that we wanted to pass our faith on to our children.

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We were fortunate to have Doug’s Mom visit for the special occasion as well as many other special family and friends.

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Father Gregg, who married me and Doug, was able to come up from Boynton Beach to perform the ceremony.  He was incredibly helpful to Doug and I as we were deciding all of the details of the ceremony.  Father Gregg has always been so thoughtful as he has supported both of our faith backgrounds.

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Donovan wore the Christening gown that has been in my family for many years.  A replica was made from the gown that me and my sisters wore for our baptisms.

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Leah, Kristin, and Adam are Donovan’s Godparents.  Leah did a great job representing the group in the ceremony.  We missed Kristin and Adam!

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We held a reception at our house after the ceremony.  Some people still had not seen our house, so it was nice to host an event and celebrate Donovan’s baptism.

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With Love,

From Me to You