Thursday, September 1, 2011

Farewell for now...

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Hi there, Internet friends.

As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged much this summer. I could blame it on our move, re-prioritizing now that Matt is a full-time dental student, my lack of desire to sit in front of my laptop after I finish my workday (since I'm now a full-time telecommuter), or the piles of dishes that somehow manage to appear every night.... but the truth of the matter is, I just haven't had the energy to devote to this little virtual "home" I built the last couple of years & I'm at a point in my life where I want to be intentional about where I spend my limited free time.

So I'm going to disappear for awhile. Maybe a long while. Maybe a short while. Who knows when I'll feel like I need another creative outlet... but for the time being I have a lot of other creative aspirations that don't involve me in front of the laptop. I do enough of that already.

What - you may be thinking - am I going to do with all my free-time now that I'm not blogging? Well, if you've gotten to know me at all the last couple of years -  you've probably figured out I'm a planner & list-maker, hence I have lots of great things in mind. But before we get there (in case you care...and if you don't, just jump on down to the end), a little background on how & why I ended up saying sayonara to Simply Suz.

Actually, the decision to bid farewell to the blog came after a dinner conversation Matt & I had a few nights back. It was a familiar conversation for us.... we're at the point in our relationship/marriage where we're ready for that next step (a.k.a. starting a family), but because of our life situation, we've decided it would be wise to wait a bit longer.

That's tough for me to swallow. Especially when I look around & it seems like everyone else is expecting (including folks who seem to have just tied the knot yesterday, almost everyone we know who got hitched around the time we did, heck...even friends of my little brother are becoming parents)! Matt & I intentionally heeded the advice of wise, older couples who valued that pre-family time in their marriage, and decided early on that we wanted our relationship to be rock solid before we introduced a wee one. I came up with an arbitrary number of years when we'd "have it together," and thought that for sure, by year 4 or 5 we'd be ready. In my mind, that'd give us enough time to work out any kinks, travel (something I wouldn't trade for the world), be free enough to try brave things (like moving to a state where we didn't know a soul), be financially stable, and of course, grow individually and as a couple.

In many ways, we are ready. Our relationship has grown tremendously & we've learned (sometimes in difficult ways) so much about each other in the past 4+ years of marriage (& 8 years...almost to the week ... since we first met). Maybe year 5 was the magic number relationally, but there are so many other things that factor into our timing. I should stop and mention that in no way am I saying there is a "right" time to start a family... it'll be different for every couple. One thing I do know, is that the decision shouldn't be based on boredom, a desire to fix something amiss in your marriage (at best, it'll be a temporary fix... at worst, a baby will make things more difficult), or even (in our case) a desire to "keep up with the Joneses." It's a no-turning-back decision, and should be considered thoughtfully & prayerfully!

The truth of the matter is, Matt is already getting a taste of the demands of dental school, as am I. He has been a wonderful partner and such an amazing helper at home, but I would rather him focus his efforts on succeeding in school than vacuuming or doing dishes. That means that after my workday ends, I have to find time for all of that household maintenance stuff that I was fortunate enough to share with Matt before he started dental school. I know that some of you are thinking "you'll make it work" ... but I also know that Matt is going to be an amazing dad one day and I want our kids to get his/our full attention. For at least the next two years, he needs to be pretty much solely focused on school and I don't want to "rob" him of the opportunity to enjoy the early years of our (future) kids lives.

I think this sense of impatience & restlessness can be true no matter what your life situation & presents an opportunity not to focus on what you're "missing out on" but on what God can do in your life right now. A relationship, marriage, family, particular job not in the cards for you at this very moment?  Instead of feeling sorry for yourself (which I sometimes do), figure out ways to enjoy this season of life. I feel grateful that the Lord put Matt in my life early on, but now He's teaching me to be patient as we wait to grow our family. He's teaching me to look to Him and trust His perfect timing, instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing.

So.... the end of that dinnertime discussion with Matt was about what we want the next couple of years to look like. For Matt, his life is pretty prescribed/full with the demands of school. In order for me to prevent myself from resenting him or the 10 pregnant women/new moms I know, I want to be able to look back on this season of our life and feel excited about how I spent my time, closer to Matt than I've ever been, thankful for the ways in which the Lord grew me, and hopefully more prepared to be a mom when this is all said & done.

Here are my mini-aspirations for this season of my life. Some of these are going to be a challenge, some may seem trivial, but I'm taking this opportunity to set some mid-year resolutions, that will hopefully carry me through the sure-to-be-grueling (but also potentially amazing) next four years.
  1. Support Matt. I want nothing more than to see him succeed in dental school. We have worked too hard to get to this point for me to now become needy and value something I can certainly handle (like dish-duty, which I despise) over his success in school. That means taking responsibility for all of the household stuff and relieving him so that he can focus on school... More importantly, my enthusiasm for him, my prayerfulness, & my patience really need to be a top priority. Maybe babies need to sit on the back burner awhile longer, but our marriage should be thriving.
  2. Be incredibly active. Again, to some this may seem trivial, but I know when a family comes along, I'm going to have a lot less time to spend at the gym, riding my bike, or going for a run on a whim, so I want to take time to enjoy these things because I really and truly feel best when I do. Plus, I need to get out of the house more often (since I now work from home) so I am excited to make this more a part of my life than ever before.
  3. Give back & get involved in the Gainesville community. I'm pumped to start volunteering again with Young Life, a ministry I am passionate about and which really shaped my college years. In addition to having an opportunity to pour into college and high school kids, I know it'll help me feel connected to our new community.
  4. Grow in my faith and find a great local church. We were blessed to get plugged into 2 great churches in Chicago and North Carolina (Calvary in Oak Park and The Summit in RDU) and these churches both challenged us to go deeper in our faith and were places where we met friends and built community. We're still "shopping around" - but I'm anxious to find a church home soon!
  5. Read. Despite my crazy travel schedule, I've managed to read four books in the last month (which is more than I read our 2 years in N.C.) and I'm wondering how I wasted so much time on Facebook, watching television, and working on this blog when I could have been burying myself in a good book. In short, I'm a big nerd and I really like to read. From observing my sister & friends who are mommies, I recognize that this is a luxury!
  6. Be creative! I have developed a real enjoyment for photography, so even though I won't be sharing my photos on the blog, you can always check them out at (and get a flavor for what's going on in the McA's lives)! Additionally, I'm looking forward to spending more time on some random house/craft projects, as well as one of my favorite things to do.... cooking!
  7. Make time for adventures. I get a kick out of sleeping in a tent, breathing fresh air, climbing up mountains, exploring new places, & taking beautiful pictures. That's a heckuva lot easier to do without young kids, so although it'll be more difficult time and budget wise with the demands of school, I still want this to be a priority. I need an escape from the daily grind & have something to look forward to!
  8. Talk to my friends instead of stalking them online. I came to the realization that I was spending more time keeping relative strangers up to date on our life than picking up the phone or writing an email to my nearest & dearest friends and family. Shame on me. One of my New Year's resolutions was to write letters every week much like my grandmother does, and I've failed miserably at that. It's time for me to take my mode of communication off the computer & intentionally invest in those individuals who truly mean so much to me. 
  9. Get good rest. Because I won't do a good job of accomplishing anything on my list if I'm running myself too thin.
  10. ENJOY exactly where we are right now.
So friends, that's all. I will leave the blog up and just might decide I want to start posting again, so don't write me off just yet!  Again, you can keep up with us via our smugmug site (I've been pretty successful in weening myself of facebook so you won't see much there), give me a jingle, or shoot me an email at mcandrew dot susan at gmail dot com.

All the best!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Maternity Photoshoot for Lori

Remember my lovely friend, Lori? Well she is darn-near-ready to have her baby boy, so I figured it's about time to share her maternity photos that I shot ....oh....over 2 months ago. Oops. (You may remember seeing a few photos that Lori snapped for Matt & I during this shoot here & here.)
Early on in her pregnancy, Lori asked if I'd be willing to take some preggo-pictures for her & of course I said yes! Unfortunately, we put it off until our last weekend in NC (before back-to-back weddings & our big move) & the weather threatened to ruin our shoot. Thankfully, right before we were about to call it off, the rain clouds cleared up and we were blessed with a beautiful night & beautiful light.
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We took most of these photos in Carpenter, NC... just a hop, skip & a jump away from Lori & Dave's home in Morrisville. Carpenter was an absolutely darling spot for our little photoshoot...and there is no denying that Lori is a natural in front of the camera. She was absolutely glowing. (Can't forget the dad-to-be. Dave - you're looking good, too!)
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I had a hard time picking out a handful to share on the blog, so instead, I've embedded a little slide show with my favorites. Consider yourself warned: it's a bit long (2 full songs), but in all fairness, I pared it down from 500+ photos! If you'd rather browse through my faves instead of watching the video, you can just check out my Smugmug album here. I even managed to hand over the camera over to Matt & sneak in a few photos with my dear friend! If you are a prayerful person, please lift up Lori & Dave as they get ready for the arrival of their first little one! He'll be here very soon!

(Psstt...If you expand the video to watch it full-screen, just make sure to click the little button that reads "SCALING IS ON" so that the photos aren't crazy grainy when they blow up to full screen. If the Vimeo player says "SCALING IS OFF" you are a-o-k.) 

P.S. Due to some last minute travel-changes, looks like I'm going to get to meet Lori & Dave's baby boy next month! I am oh-so-excited as I was bummed to move right before his arrival. (Sound familiar? I moved right after my Chicago-BFF told me she was pregnant! Our timing is terribly off...) Can't wait to meet the little guy & see our good friends again so soon!
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P.P.S. I'm in love with the fact that the tomato plant behind Lori in this photo is called "Better Boy!" I actually didn't notice it until today despite looking at these photos a gazillion times. What a happy coincidence for this soon-to-be-momma of a little boy! I sure hope he is a good little boy... with parents like Lori & Dave, it's almost guaranteed!
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

What We've Been Up To {Some Snapshots}

I know what you're thinking....

Hello??? Anybody there???

Believe me, I hear ya & I recognize it's been quiet at Simply Suz lately. Don't you worry, I do have an excellent excuse -- we have been traveling (including a major out-of-state move) or hosting family 6 of the past 7 weekends. To top it off, the weekends prior to our marathon travel-stretch we were packing, preparing for our move, & saying goodbye to our NC friends! Needless to say, I am exhausted both physically & emotionally & have not had any time or energy for blogging!

Here are some snapshots of where we've been & what we've been up to the past couple of months....expect full feature blog posts on (most) of these happenings in the coming weeks!

Weekend of May 14th...
I did a photo-shoot for my super-cute, super-sweet, preggo girlfriend, Lori, & her hubby Dave. Lori is due at the end of the month, so hopefully I'll get around to sharing some of her darling photos before her little man arrives!Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
I also enjoyed a special treat that week at a work... a team getaway.... sailing in New Bern, NC!
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Weekend of May 21st....
We headed north to New Jersey for my beautiful cousin, Sara's wedding. We were joined by (most of) the Lohuis fam ( were missed!). Hannah had on her dancing shoes, so she managed to keep us on our toes!
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Weekend of May 28th (a.k.a. Memorial Day Weekend)....
We flew out west to Wichita, Kansas for brother Tom & sister Caroline's wedding. It was a McA-filled weekend!
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I'll be sure to fill you in much more on that, including the darling rehearsal dinner Mom & Dad McA orchestrated!
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Weekend of June 4th...
After saying goodbye to our good friends in NC, we hit the road & headed south to Florida! My gracious folks helped us unpack a truck-load-o-stuff into our new home.
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Weekend of June 11th...
We enjoyed a mini-weekend-getaway with my family in Orlando. We lounged by the pool, grilled out, made a pit-stop at Ikea to get some home essentials & enjoyed quality Florida fam time.
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Weekend of June 18th...
We took a traveling-breather & worked on settling into our new place. We also managed to take a break from all of the unpacking to celebrate our 4th anniversary on June 23rd!
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Weekend of June 25th...
Katie, Matt & Hannah came to visit us in Gainesville! Katie gave us a great tour of her alma-mater & we chased around our adorable niece all weekend.

Weekend of July 2nd...
We headed home to Vero & spent the Fourth of July weekend with Mom & Dad Lo, Katie, Matt, Hannah & Grandma. We hit the beach, enjoyed pool time, hung some crown molding (technically that wasn't a "we" activity...Matt helped the-other-Matt with that), rearranged my folk's furniture & set up their sound system (okay, the Matts did that, too), ate lots of hot dogs (I'll claim that), watched the fireworks, & enjoyed Matt's favorite holiday!
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Visit Simply Suz in the upcoming weeks months (I'm just being honest here) to get more details on all of this fun stuff & a few additional adventures planned before Matt starts dental school in August! Please be patient, it may take me awhile, as we have no plans of slowing down anytime soon!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy Birthday to my NEW sister.... Caroline!

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The McAndrew Wives :)
Just eleven days ago, I gained another sister. Sure, she's technically an "in-law" but in the McAndrew fam, we drop those details! I adore (sweet) Caroline, feel blessed to now call her a sister-in-law, & am so excited for many many years of great family memories ahead. Happy 25th Birthday, Care!  We hope you have a wonderful day! Love, Suz (& Matt, too!)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Married! Congrats Tom & Care!

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We had a blast Memorial Day weekend in Wichita, Kansas celebrating with Tom & Caroline as they tied the knot! I plan on sharing a bunch of photos & giving a full recap of their big day (& all the wedding festivities) after we get settled in Florida (we move tomorrow!), but in the interim, I wanted to share a few links to my photo albums, especially for family & friends who may be interested. Mom & Dad McA + wedding party .... this is for you!


A couple of important notes....
*I lost steam (& time!) as I sorted through these photos so you'll notice a TON of duplicates, especially in the wedding album (hence, 28 pages of photos in that Smugmug album...oops). I wanted to share these ASAP instead of waiting until I had time to sort & delete! My apologies for photo-overload! I will pare down once we're settled in Florida.

*If you are in any of the photos & want to save a copy, just click on the photo you'd like to download in Smugmug, select the size ("original" will likely be the largest & the best resolution), & then click "save photo" or the file folder icon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Photo of the Week: Sara

We are in the throws of moving so I won't be blogging much the next couple of weeks, but I absolutely could not resist sharing a couple photos of my gorgeous cousin, Sara, who tied the knot with Andrew this weekend in NJ.
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We were fortunate enough to be able to steal away some time to make the trip north, & had a great time with our big extended family. I'll share some more photos later... probably in mid-June when I get around to blogging about a host of other things... including Lori's maternity shoot... hopefully I'll beat the baby on that one! Congrats Sara & Andrew!

Wedding season is certainly upon us! In just a few days, Matt's brother Tommy will be marrying the love-of-his-life, Caroline! Congratulations also to Caitlin & Mike (Cait is a Vero friend) and Katie & Matt (Katie is Matt's cousin) who also got hitched this past weekend. Wish we could of been at all of those weddings (Florida, Minnesota & New Jersey).... but alas, we haven't figured out how to be in 3 places at once! Darn!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Photo of the Week: US!

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I love taking photos, which means that I am usually behind the camera instead of in front of it. That was the case for most of Saturday evening when I did a (not-so-mini) photo shoot for my preggo friend, Lori, and her hubby, Dave. I had a BLAST shooting Lori & was really pleased with the results (don't worry.... I'll blog all about our maternity shoot later... I have whittled 500+ photos down to my favorite 163, but I still need to get down to a manageable number to share here on the old blogsky!), however, what I was most surprised by were the a few photos that Lori snapped of us at the end of our evening - including the winner above. Maybe I'm biased but....isn't it cute?!?!? Isn't my hubby handsome?!? It's probably one of my favorite photos of us since our wedding! Thanks for letting us step in front of the camera for a few shots, Lori!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Photo of the Week: Fireworks

So.... I wrote this post last week prior to a big-time blogger crash. My draft post disappeared for a few days & then magically reappeared (making this lady very happy). Sorry this is a tad bit outdated, but I hope y'all enjoy the photos!
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We went to a Durham Bulls game last Friday night two weeks ago to see my little bro's friend (Alex Cobb) pitch & enjoy what turned out to be a beautiful spring night (after a brief rain delay). Alex pitched a great game (the kid has come a long way since his little league days with brother Mark) & we had a blast, thanks in part to great seats, courtesy of Alex, & wonderful company, courtesy of our friends, Lori & Dave! The Bulls put on a fireworks display after every Friday night game, & I tried my best to take a few fun shots (hello slow shutter speed). I think the photo above was a success! Here are a other few favorites from our fun night with friends....
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After a rain delay (our seats were sheltered) turned out to be a beautiful night at the ballpark!
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I love a night at a baseball park.
The girls.
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The guys.
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Thanks for the tickets, Alex!
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Alex made this Vero Beach native proud!
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Bulls homer!
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I love me some fireworks.
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What a great night.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugHappy Birthday to Dad Lo who turns 57 today!
(Dad's looking good for a 57 year old grandpa! Truth be told, this photo was when taken when he was a young 53 year old whippersnapper with no grandbabies yet...just a daughter about to get married...)

But seriously.... my dad is a pretty awesome guy. Everybody - & I mean everyone - respects him and the person that he is. He is honest, trustworthy, hardworking, steady, faithful & selfless. Dad also has a reputation for being a planner (where did you think I got it from?!) & has been know to work out the behind-the-scenes details more than once.

Maybe it's because he's the oldest of four, but he also cares incredibly well for everyone in his life - his wife, kids, grandchild (please...if you don't click on any other on this one & this one!), his mom, sons-in-law, siblings, friends, coworkers - and asks for very little in return. Most importantly, my dad loves the Lord & taught us (primarily by example) of what it looks like to be a humble servant of God.

Dad, I hope you have a wonderful birthday! I can't wait to give you in-person (instead of virtual) birthday wishes in just a week! We love you!
SJ & Matt, too!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

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We love moms.

You already know how much we love our moms (you can read about mine & Matt's in the blog archive).... so in celebration of Mother's Day, instead of a lengthy post recounting their lovely qualities (hopefully they already know how we feel about them!), I'm just going to share some favorite photos of my favorite moms! Each one of these ladies holds a special place in our heart today.   

Happy Mother's Day to Momma Lo, Momma Mac, Grandma Shirlee, Grandma Gerry, Margot, Katie, Aunt Beth, Aunt Nancy, Aunt Becky, Lori, Shann, Nicole, Carol & Stacy! We love you & are so thankful for you today!!!

Psst... 2 of our good friends are also celebrating birthdays today...scroll to the bottom to find out who!

On the left: 3 generations of Lohuis ladies: my mom (Nana), my niece (Hannah) & my sister (Katie or "Momma" to Hannah!)

One of my favorite mom-memories: Mom helping me put on my wedding dress [June 2007]
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I adore my mother-in-law, affectionately just "mom" to me (I'm lucky to have 2 moms!) [June 2007]
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My big sister, Katie, is such a great mom. [November 2010]
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Grandma Gerry & I have always been close. I love her to pieces. [June 2007]
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Grandma Shirlee holds a special place in our heart, too! [June 2007]
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Did I mention we love my mom? [June 2010]
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Katie & her girl, Hannah. Aren't they beautiful? [June 2010]
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We're also so thankful for Margot today! [June 2007]
 SI Exif
This photo just melts my heart. Matt loves his momma. [June 2007]
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I'm lucky to have Aunt Beth & Aunt Nancy as godmothers! [June 2007]
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It's impossible not to love our Aunt Becky... she's a gem. [June 2007]
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Another all-time favorite photo of my mom... getting down at our wedding! Momma has moves! [June 2007]
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Stacy and her sweet girls (minus their new addition!) [June 2007]
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Grandmas :) [June 2007]
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Hannah & Nana are best buds, can't you tell? [November 2010]
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Heidi & her boys. [September 2007]
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I miss my Champaign-mom, Carol. She took such good care of me (& everybody else!) [June 2007]
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Liam is oh-so-lucky to have Nicole as a mommy. [November 2010]
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...As are Belle & Graysie to call Shann their mom. [March 2011]
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I'd be remiss without celebrating mom-to-be, Lori (& one of my favorite NC friends)! I have no doubt that she will be an amazing mother! Her little guy is blessed (so is pup, Rylee)! [March 2011]
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Not only is today Mother's Day, but 2 special people are also celebrating their birthdays today! 
Happy Birthday, Mary & Mike!!!!! We love you guys & hope you both have very special days!!!!

I spy Marclar (hint: peaking in the left-hand corner) [June 2007]
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"M" is for Mike & Mary. 2 great friends celebrating their birthdays today! [July 2010]
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I'm telling you, it's impossible not to love this girl. [June 2007]
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Jenny & I are lucky to be married to these dudes. [July 2010]
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[I have to give credit where credit is due: Our gorgeous wedding photos were taken by the talented Scarlett Lillian... and our dear friend, Liz Fay is responsible for the photo of Mary! The rest were taken by yours truly! Thanks for stopping by!]
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