We Built a Swing Set!

We Built a Swing Set!

This post has been a long time coming.  Life with 2 very mobile and energetic kids just gets busy (which is why I needed an outlet for their energy in the first place).  Throw in several weeks when of 3/4 of us had pneumonia, and the past couple months have flown by.  However, we’ve had plenty of time to test out the new swing set and I can report with confidence it is a winner!

I first started thinking about building a swing set last spring and was beginning to research the idea when Shane broke his leg.  I looked into the Costco sets that you buy ready to assemble, but they were just way out of our budget.  In addition, we had seen some in people’s yards and they just seemed really dinky.  I didn’t want to put forth a lot of money, time, and effort to have the kids outgrow it too quickly!

I looked at complete DIY builds and directions I found via Pinterest and Ana White.  I also looked at other sets that come with pre-cut wood and the hardware and you just assemble it (similar to the Costco sets, but less expensive).  We ultimately decided on the Wrangler set from Swing’n Slide.  The kit included the swings, accessories and the hardware for assembly.  We would just purchase the screws and cut the lumber to size ourselves.

I spent a couple months planning, getting lumber quotes, and figuring out exactly which tools we would need to purchase.  We finally ordered and picked up our lumber mid-November.  By that time, we figured we might as well wait for Black Friday to purchase the other tools that we would need.  We scored pretty big, getting a circular saw, a new drill and several other things for very little money!

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Loading the lumber into a borrowed horse trailer

Shane and I spent a couple mornings cutting the lumber down to size, following the directions included in the Swing’n Slide kit.  That was probably my favorite part of the whole thing! I really like using a saw! I really wanted to get a 12″ compound miter saw, but due to some budget constraints, I had to settle for a circular saw. There were a couple hairy moments trying to contain two little ones while using the saw, but we got that managed without any injuries.

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Still in PJs, Tristan tries to get a piece of the sawing action

Once the lumber was ready to go, we set aside a Saturday when some family members were able to help us out with assembly.  Working until just after sun-down, we managed to get most of the clubhouse part put together.

A couple days later on Shane’s “weekend” (it was a Tuesday), he and I set aside another day to work.  That quickly derailed when we ran out of screws.  We had purchased the poundage of deck screws the Swing’n Slide directions indicated, but that clearly was not enough.  Instead of driving the half hour into town to Home Depot, we decided to just head to the closer Ace Hardware to get what we needed. Naturally, they didn’t have any outdoor 3″ screws at all.  By that time, we had to stop and feed the kids lunch and half the day was already gone.  We flipped ahead in the directions and tried to accomplish everything we could without the 3″ screws.

The goal was to have the swing set completed for Christmas – it was a joint gift to the kids from their grandparents and us.  I left town for a week in December to attend a class, and I was hopeful that Shane would be able to get some work done on the swing set.  This is where we ran into several hiccups.

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Our progress by mid-December, before I left town

The rest of December it just poured and poured and poured rain, stopping any outdoor assembly work.

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The pigs in action

Along with the rain, we had a large family (about 9 or 10) of wild pigs move into our property, completely destroying 90% of our yard.  You have no idea how much damage these darn pigs can do! It was an endless battle of them digging up the grass and me attempting to replace the divots large pieces of sod they twisted and moved (when it wasn’t raining).  They damaged so much of the turf on the side yard, we had to change our plans as to where we were going to place the swing set.  We then had to wait for the availability of extra hands to reorient and move the clubhouse so that we could continue with the assembly.

In the meantime, we went to work on drilling the holes in the beam that would hold the swings.  Enter another problem.  The directions had indicated that we needed a “long” 5/16″ drill bit, but didn’t specify any more than that.  Back on Black Friday, we purchased the longest 5/16″ drill bit that Home Depot had in stock, which was 6″ long.  This was not long enough to drill the necessary holes.  I jumped on Amazon and ordered a 12″ bit, but even with Prime shipping, everything takes longer to get here.

Once the drill bit finally arrived, we were able to finish installing the hardware for the swings.  Shane and I then managed to attach the 12-foot long beam to the A-frame support.  Then by some miracle, just he and I were able to maneuver it from the patio, out to the yard, and ultimately attach it in place.  That was probably our proudest moment! There’s no way 2 people should have been able to do that. In fact, I would advise against it.  At least having a third, if not fourth, person would be much, much better (and safer).

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Whew! Finally securing the swing beam!

To complete our swing set, we installed a cargo net for added climbing fun! Part of the problem with living on an island is we have difficulty getting some things shipped here.  Despite my best efforts, I could not find anyone who would ship a slide here.  At first it was frustrating, but we figured our little monkeys might like an additional climbing element.  So, we simply replaced the slide with the cargo net as an alternative to climbing the ladder to the top of the clubhouse.

We had to purchase a couple more 2″x 6″ boards to build out the frame to secure the cargo net to the clubhouse.  This was pretty easy and straightforward.  However, the directions had a glaring error that I didn’t realize until the boards were already cut.  Those who know me know that I’m very much a color-inside-the-lines, follow-directions-to-a-T type of person. So that’s what I did.  I cut the boards as they specified and when I went to dry-fit them on the frame, realized that the long board they had me cut was 9 inches short of what it should have been! It ended up not being too big of a deal as we just shifted it to fit. It was supposed to run the full length of the clubhouse frame and now it ends awkwardly right below the ladder.

The Swing’n Slide hardware is really great.   We have no worries about swings coming unattached and the bolts and plates used to secure the frame are solid.  That swing set has already withstood a 4.0 earthquake! My only real complaint with the Swing’n Slide kit is their directions.  Mind you, I read the directions front to back about 6 times before we even started building at all.  I found them to be vague (like when they called for a “long” 5/6″ drill bit) and inaccurate in places (as with the lumber measurements for the cargo net). They should have also called for 4 lbs of 3″ deck screws instead of just the 3 lbs listed in the directions.  You’d think a company that makes its money designing and selling these kits could be more accurate in their directions! If things hadn’t been inaccurate or vague, it definitely would’ve saved us time and frustration.

I will say this was a brave undertaking for two DIY novices.  On the other hand, we now feel quite confident we can tackle many other projects around the house!

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Over all we are quite happy with our swing set! The kids have plenty of room to grow into it! In fact, Shane and I are planning on adding a rock climbing wall, and a disc swing on the arm that extends from the top of the clubhouse.  We also have a fourth spot on the swing beam to add something else.  To do that, we will have to order another set of hardware so that we can hang a fourth item. We currently have one regular swing (the kit included 2, the second is in storage), the bar/rings combo, and a Fisher-Price infant/toddler swing for Rosie.

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It’s been really fun to have this in our yard and to not always have to load everybody up in the car to go to the park! I’m so glad we did it!

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Coffee Art or Memo Board?

Coffee Art or Memo Board?

At the end of this post I mentioned that I had a few more burlap projects up my sleeve. Today I share with you my new kitchen bulletin board! 

  
Let’s back up a little bit, shall we? I haven’t really shown this wall (it’s directly across from Rosie’s bedroom door) because for a long while it looked like this: 

  
The previous owner is to blame for the damaged wall. She hung baskets there for produce. She took the baskets and left boards with hooks sticking out still screwed (and possibly glued?) to the wall. They were hell to remove and I obviously still need to actually patch the wall there. 

I fantasize daily about removing that wall when we save enough money to remodel our kitchen. My solution in the meantime was/is to make it functional. Originally I slapped up a white board and a few fabric covered cork tiles that I already had so we could post information. 

I quit using the whiteboard around the beginning of June and the clutter was beginning to drive me crazy. That’s when I started to brainstorm some ideas about a more functional memo board. 

Back in May, Shane and I spent a weekend on Kauai for a friend’s wedding. It’s always a treat to visit Kauai since it’s absolutely gorgeous and I get to listen to Shane relive his high school days. It’s also where we honeymooned. 

While there, I insisted on stopping at the Kauai Coffee Estate. They are my favorite coffee and we also visited during our honeymoon. 

Cozy with the coffee trees as a newlywed

  
 This time, after a guided tour, we left with several bags of coffee and a couple burlap coffee bags. They have a different design for each year. They were sold out of the 2009 bags (the year we got married). We went home with a 2008 (the year we met) and a 2013 bag (we liked the design). I just had to figure out what I was going to do with the bags. 

Shane being silly

One project idea I had was to do a bulletin board for the kitchen. The project finally came to fruition last month after I snagged a faded cork board for 5 bucks at a garage sale. It was the perfect size for the coffee bag. 

I cut the bag down the middle of the back and then used a seam ripper to pull out the bottom seam. I could’ve used the seam ripper to do the side seam of the bag too, but it would’ve resulted in an off-center design on the board as there wasn’t enough fabric to wrap it that way. It did result in a slightly wonky right side of the board because of the thickness at the seam, but oh well. I actually like that it is imperfect. 

Next, I centered the image and lined up the fabric on top of the cork board. Using plain thumb tacks I picked up at Home Depot for about $1.58, I pinned the burlap to the board along the edges of its aluminum frame. 

Once I finished with my “nailhead” trim, I trimmed the excess fabric on all sides. Pulling the burlap taut, I then wrapped it around the edges of the frame and secured with hot glue on the back. 

I then just nailed right through the board to attach it to the wall. 

  
I took the opportunity to clean up some of the old notes and things we had pinned up. After all, I don’t want to completely obscure the coffee art! I totally need to get on repairing that wall already. 

If you ever find yourself on Kauai, I highly recommend stopping by for a tour at the Kauai Coffee Estate! They do carry some Kauai Coffee at major retailers now if you want to sample. I know they have it at Costco, Harris Teeter for my Virginia friends, and Safeway. They just started selling it at Target here in the last few months. Not sponsored, Kauai Coffee is just my favorite and I’m a little obsessed. 

Another picture of Kauai coffee trees before you go!

  

Our Long Yard

I’ve been wanting to share our yard with you all for awhile now. I don’t believe I’ve ever really shown our yard or outdoor living spaces other than this one photo from May 2014 when we had gravel delivered for our driveway. 

  
Not much has changed there, other than Tristan is a year and a half older! There’s also a grassy median in the gravel now, but that’s about it for the driveway. 

I finally grabbed some photos of the rest of the yard the other day while I was mowing the lawn.  We have a 3-acre lot, but the acreage is long and skinny. They call them spaghetti lots here. We’re on agricultural land and could raise animals (we have neighbors with cattle, chickens, roosters, goats and donkeys), plant an orchard, or grow other crops if we wanted. Maybe down the road we’ll plant fruit trees or something. I hear there’s a guy planting a coffee farm elsewhere in our subdivision. 

Our lot was completely scrubbed at one point, sadly taking out many of the native ʻohia lehua trees. We’ve let the back part of our lot just do its thing for now. The “manicured” part around the house provides enough opportunity for yard work. We’re slowly hacking away – it’s a jungle out there! Progress is slow, and the plants (and weeds) grow quickly! 

I wish I had taken more photos before to demonstrate the progress we have made. The previous owners, while rare-palm-varietal afficianados, left us quite a bit of work from the get-go. While I’ve always loved palm trees, and that was one of the things I liked about this property, I have since learned they require a lot of work. I’m constantly having to clean up dead fronds that either need to be cut from the tree or have already fallen. Some of these things are easily 15 feet long! (We have some tall palms!) 

Without further ado, the rest of our yard: 

 
This is the  view looking down the driveway from where we park. 
Shane’s parking spot looking towards the back of our property on the left side of our house. The mangled area in the foreground by the hibiscus bush is one of our current projects. The previous owners left us a mess of tangled weeds here and since we cut them down and are trying to remove the roots, we have discovered a disturbing amount of discarded items buried in the dirt. 

The same side of the yard looking down towards the driveway. We were planning and starting to build a fire pit here, but have decided to relocate it. 

  
The yard behind the house. Same weed-garden project and looking toward our water catchment tank. There’s a somewhat smallish banyan tree on the left. It’s cool, but is too close to the house and frankly blocks the view from our dining window upstairs. One of these days we’ll hire someone to take it down. 

  

 Looking the other way. On the left is the pump house for our water pump and water heater. Further down, our trash and recycling. No curbside pickup here. We have to haul it to the dump ourselves. 

  
I spy a baby in the pack and play! The yard on the right side of the house.   The grayish area by Tristan’s truck is where the catchment tank used to be. Lucky for us we surveyed the property while still under contract and discovered it was over the property line. Narrow lots, folks! The owner had to move it at her expense. We are now planning on building our fire pit there. 

We are actually working on removing the clothesline (started today, actually) so that we have room to build a swing set in that space. (More on my crazy decision to build a swing set myself in a future post). The plan is to also install a retractable clothesline up on the deck where it will hopefully get more use. To the right is more weed-garden to be dealt with eventually.   

  Here is the front of the house, bordered by more palms and tropical things. That jungle area will be really cool one day when we make paths and stuff. 

 And looking back the other way. That photo-bombing palm in front will probably be removed too. It’s growing at a weird angle to the ground and is in the way. 

We haven’t done much with our outdoor living spaces just yet. We’ve more or less plopped hand-me-down furniture in the space and called it a day. No Pinterest-worthy outdoor room inspiration here folks. As always, I have a ton of ideas and one day I’ll get to executing them. Our house is pretty big and it’s going to take us awhile to be able to furnish and decorate it all the way we want. 

 This is what we call the patio. It could function as a carport and usually does when there’s a tropical storm. Our house’s orientation relative to all the trees just generally isn’t conducive to parking in there on a regular basis.   
It’s a mess, but somewhat less cluttered than usual. Just keeping it real. 

 

Here is our deck, which runs above the patio. It’s long and narrow and makes me think of a bowling lane sometimes. Lily, one of our cats, lives out here now (why you might spy a litter box). 

The deck runs along our living room, Rosie’s room (with exterior door) and the master bathroom. 

 I haven’t done much out there other than replace the hinges and latch on the stair gate to keep things baby-safe. Next on the list is probably a powerwash!  
Ignore the rug draped over the railing it’s from Rosie’s room and needs to be cleaned. 

 
And that’s it for our yard and outdoor space! 

Hoping to share a couple crafty projects with you all soon!

Quick Burlap Earring Display

Quick Burlap Earring Display

Today I finally knocked out a quick little project I’ve had in mind for a few months: an earring display. 

When we moved into this house, I more or less plopped stuff down in my master bathroom and bedroom and haven’t done a whole lot with it. 

The master bath has a convenient shelf next to the double vanity where I store towels, lotions, my toiletry kit for travel, and my jewelry. 

  
The majority of my jewelry is currently stored in an assortment of plastic storage boxes. I have plans to do a little better, but we’ll see what happens when I actually get around to it. 

The wall above the shelf is just calling for a little gallery collection (and screaming for a couple coats of paint!) and I’ve been working on figuring out what will go there. I have a couple items and have been waiting to find a frame or two to really put it together. 

The only thing that has been displayed on that wall – for the last nine months now – are the birth affirmations I created before Rosie’s birth. They’ve been looking a little sad since I actually gave two of them to a friend in preparation for her daughter’s birth back in May. Either way, they still remind me how awesome I am, and what amazing gifts come at the end of a hard day’s work! 

  
Anyhow, back to the quick project: my jewelry display. It’s super easy! 

Step 1: Place burlap fabric in embroidery hoop. 

Step 2: Hang it from a nail in the wall. 

Step 3: Display earrings 

Step 4: Smile because you’re done, and it was that easy!

  
Some details: 

I have extra burlap from some coffee bags I purchased in May when I was on Kauai (more projects coming soon!). I just used a plain piece without any printing since I’m saving the rest for some other projects I have planned. 

I picked up a 12-inch embroidery hoop at the craft store for about 4 bucks. I was kind of bummed when I bought a couple more at a garage sale this weekend for just 10-cents a piece. Oh, well. 

I added a quick coat of stain to the hoop since I wasn’t wild about its natural color. I might actually go back and give it a cost of metallic spray paint (I’m thinking gold) in the future once I get the rest of the items hung on the wall. 

  
I originally thought I might paint a monogram or something on the burlap for added interest, but I actually like it plain since it displays my earrings so nicely. 

This obviously works for the dangly earrings. I’m still trying to dream up a solution for my studs. It’s nice to finally see my other earrings on display since I tend to forget about them. Honestly, studs are my best friend right now with a 9-month baby. I am terrified of having to get my earlobes stitched after an earring is ripped out. For now, my studs live in a ceramic egg tray from World Market. I would’ve taken a pic, but it was dusty! 

Can’t wait to get the rest of this wall together (along with painting the heck out of the cabinets and walls in this bathroom someday). 

Nursery Update

Nursery Update

Back in January, I shared Rosie’s nursery in this post but I declared it 97% done. [Only] 8 months later, I’m back with an update. 

  
Rosie has been sleeping in her room now since mid-May, at about 4 months old. I’ve even lowered the crib mattress twice since then!

  
I finally picked up a chair and ottoman for the room at the beginning of April. Both the chair and ottoman came from Ross on two different shopping trips. 

  
The chair is a funny shade of blue next to the rug, but I was just happy to finally get a chair. It’s quite comfy too! Now if only the darn cat would quit pretending it’s a scratching post…

  
From there I was just waiting to get a frame to hang my Gus and Lula apple art print and fill existing frames with photos. In the meantime, I painted and modge-podged the “R” (from the Target craft section) with fabric. The handprint and frame were a baptismal gift from my parents. 
  
I also just remembered I changed out Rose’s closet knobs again. I forgot to take a photo, but they are these ceramic knobs by Liberty Hardware from Home Depot. The website photo doesn’t do them justice, they are soooo pretty! 

  
I can now declare the nursery complete. In fact, I believe it is the only complete room in the house. Tristan’s room is close to being done, but I’m still waiting to find a dresser and nightstand. 

I have so many projects I want to get to around here! A few of them involve paint and stain, so I’m waiting for it to not be quite so humid. Naturally, it’s been a banner year for tropical storms in the Pacific (thanks El Niño) and it’s really affecting our weather (bye bye Trade Winds). 

I should have another post coming at you real soon!

Rose’s Home Birth

Rose’s Home Birth

I can hardly believe that it’s already been a month since we welcomed Rosie earth-side!

I feel compelled to share Rose’s birth story on the blog as it is an incredibly significant event that took place within our home. While Tristan’s birth took place in a hospital, it is certainly no less significant or beautiful – just different – than his sister’s birth.

My experience birthing Tristan in hospital and all that I’ve learned over the past 2 years as an aspiring doula led both me and Shane to home birth as the right thing for our family when welcoming our next little one. I was incredibly excited (although at times a bit apprehensive) throughout the pregnancy for the home birth experience.

We selected a midwife, and her two wonderful assistants, with whom we felt a connection and the relationship only grew over the months of the care they provided. Combined with pre-natal yoga taught by a doula, I was fully prepared for my home birth experience and whatever that would bring.

I decided that January 13 would be the perfect day to meet our little one (visualization is key to achieving your goals!) and even told the midwives so at my 39 week appointment. I even wrote “Give Birth” on the whiteboard calendar in my kitchen under that date.

The two days or so before Rose was born I knew the birth was close. No food was sitting well in my stomach and I was having a few, although irregular, contractions. My parents came into town on the morning of the 12th. We went out to lunch and spent the afternoon at the beach (unfortunately at low-tide). We enjoyed a steak dinner and a few rounds of Rummikub that night before heading to bed.

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Around 4 or 4:30am I woke up and realized “this is it – I’m meeting my baby today.” I just stayed in bed, reminding myself to relax and loosen my muscles during each contraction. When Shane woke I shared the news with him. About 6, I went downstairs and told my parents that I was definitely in labor. After that I texted the midwives “today is a great day to have a baby!”

My spirits were high and I was already so relaxed. We all enjoyed breakfast together – me eating what I could. The intensity started to pick up a bit where I needed someone to rub my back during contractions. Shane, my mom, and even Tristan all helped with this. My parents readied Tristan to head out for the morning. I wasn’t sure if I just wasn’t that far along or if I was handling labor well. I let the midwives know that I didn’t need all of them just yet, but one of them would be good to have around just so Shane wasn’t on his own.

After my parents and Tristan left, around 9am, Shane and I headed into our birth suite (aka the master bedroom) to settle in for the labor. I opted to not turn on the music we had just downloaded the night before. Instead, I sat soaking in our jacuzzi tub in the sunshine listening to the birds and our windchime out the window. It was so peaceful.

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The assistant midwife arrived a little after 10am. Her and Shane formed an amazing support team, anticipating my needs before I even needed to vocalize those needs. She would provide counter-pressure on my back and Shane let me rest my head in his lap. At some point I got out of the tub and moved to my bed. Everything was still so calm. I was sleeping – even dreaming – between contractions. I’m still amazed by how completely relaxed and loose I was. If my shoulders started to tense all it took was a hand on my shoulder to remind me to relax. While I was still in the bed, the rest of the birth team arrived and were bustling around getting things ready. (I later learned that this was only about an hour before the birth). I was thinking, “I must be close since they’re so busy.” I still was able to completely let go after each contraction, even though they were really close together at this point, and relaxed right back into sleep.

The tub was refilled and I moved back into the wonderfully warm water. I started to push with encouragement from my support team. Pushing was so completely satisfying. I could finally do something instead of just relaxing into the contractions. I never really felt the satisfaction that came with pushing during Tristan’s birth because of the epidural. It was so primal and so amazing that I had the power to bring my baby into the world.

My waters broke at this point, and it wasn’t long after that we met Rose for the first time at 1:58pm. It was such a gentle birth in the water. Gazing at our daughter for the first time my heart was (and still is) so full I thought it would simply burst.

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Not even five minutes later, I heard my parents pull in the driveway. They had taken Tristan to the zoo and out to lunch. They weren’t expecting the baby to be here just yet, but were tickled when we were able to announce “It’s a Girl!”

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We celebrated later that night with a birthday cake and balloons for Rose!

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One of the best parts of the home birth was that I was able to take a shower and sleep in my own bed right away. I was comfortable in my own home and surrounded by my family. I was even able to read bedtime stories to Tristan (and Rose).

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A month later and I’m still on a high from such a blissful birth!

Just Add Baby: Nursery Reveal

Since my last post, we welcomed baby Rose into our family.

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In the days just before her birth, I took photos of the nursery for a final reveal, but didn’t get the chance to post them. You can see our previous progress here.

After we finished painting the trim, walls and bookshelf, we have since painted and rehung the doors on the above closet storage, assembled the nursery furniture, hung curtains and my favorite parts: decorated and stocked the furniture with adorable baby things!

We continued with the Apples and Pears theme we used for Tristan’s nursery since it is gender neutral and my mom already made an entire nursery set with that theme before he was born. It makes so much more sense to me to reuse all of that stuff anyhow. Plus, I just love it. You can see more of our first nursery here.

This nursery feels a bit more polished than our first. I think it’s because of the curtains and the rug which has already lived in our dining area and in our office-to-be, over the course of the last 9 months. Gotta love buying something that works in multiple areas of the house.

At this point, the nursery is 97% done. We are still on the hunt for the perfect chair for the nursery (something made surprisingly difficult by living on an island) and this art print should be arriving any day now to hang above the crib. It’s from GusandLula, one of my favorite Etsy shops that also did the pear art hanging above the dresser.

Without further ado, Rosie’s nursery:

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I should note that Rosie is currently sleeping in a bassinet in our room. Once she makes the move to the crib, the pillows and stuffed animals will be removed from the crib in the interest of safety.

It’s so nice to have another (almost) finished room in our new house! It’s even nicer to have such a sweet addition to our family.

One more Rosie photo for good measure:

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