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Lifestyle + Travel Photographer and Writer.

gearing up.

Veronica Armstrong

Follow my blog with Bloglovin How was your weekend?

Ours was fairly chill. I feel like we spend the bulk of our weekends at various grocery stores and markets. Am I alone in this? There is no one stop culinary shopping for me in Indianapolis. It's necessary and mostly complete. We've got one more stop to make to pick up our local meats. I love cooking but the hours spent shopping every weekend are killing my vibe.

Must find a solution.

On Friday I got my driver's license. <---- Who is that person? How has so much changed in two years? Life is crazy. Back to my license. It was time. Indianapolis is not very metro. In the Midwest you drive (and drive and drive some more). We moved out of the suburbs and that has def decreased the volume of driving thankfully.

Our car died almost instantly after our drive back from Ithaca, New York after K's graduation (I haven't even posted those photos yet - ugh). We bought a safe mom car for me and I impatiently waited out the six month probationary period.

It's crazy but I did it. I gave in and got a license. It wasn't optional anyway. My babies are big kids with social lives and they need carting around.

K will be tied up this week at a leadership conference at his company. I have a pretty standard work week thankfully but I'll be on my own during morning drop off, pick up, and evening routine. I'm pretty comfortable with my driving skills (except for that stupid one way I drove down on Saturday and that red light I ran accidentally because it was HIDING!) but I'm nervous about car line. There's a hot mess of snow and ice everywhere and I hope I don't get lost and throw everything off schedule.

It'll be fine. It's not that serious. It really isn't.

After some gentle nagging I finally convinced K to get involved with a local charity that I thought would be a great fit for him. He's on the board of directors and is very involved with their upcoming annual fundraiser. I'm going to attend with him on Wednesday and am psyched to learn more about the work they do. I'll def share details once they become available because I'm proud and if you're local and interested you're welcome to attend and have a drink with me.

What's better than that on a Wednesday night?

Oh! and there is Valentine's day. No mega crazy romantic plans here. House of Cards is back. We'll probably cook something nice, grab a bottle of wine, and gorge on HOC.

Do you watch it? Claire is everything. Every single damn thing.

I'm rambling. Look at these children. 

This joy sustains me. 





happy monday friends.

parisian daydreams

Veronica Armstrong

Is it possible to grow homesick for a place that was never truly home? My husband and I have spent plenty of time recently reminiscing about last year's European adventure. We've been back almost a year and I feel I am just starting to process the experience as I wade through the memories. In an irrational panic I realized it was time to do something with our beautifully bare walls (man, I have to tell you guys about the new house - I will def - for now know that we had 85% of the interior walls painted this incredible perfect white) and began to scroll through pictures of our trip to Paris.

I'm not one to romanticize Europe. Every place has its charms and its less desirable features (ask me about Parisian sidewalks - ew). If you're rolling your eyes please know I can prove it. Learning the art of photography has trained me to find atypical beauty everywhere.

but. Paris.

Beauty isn't hard to find in Paris.


Ever been homesick for a place that wasn't really home?

blogging dilemma

Veronica Armstrong


I miss blogging. I'm trying to make a comeback but like Gloria Estefan said: the words get in the way. She was probably talking about a dude but it applies here. I've decided to stop holding myself to some unknown absurd standard for what this place should be and for what I should discuss and just go for it. Informal, off the cuff, and mostly unplanned. What's the worst that could happen? No one reads? Been there.

I survived.

It's been over six months since we returned from the UK and a lot has changed. I'll get to processing and discussing all of it eventually, I'm sure but for now let's talk about today.

We're enjoying an ordinary Sunday. Our plans include attending a church service at 11 a.m., doing a bit of shopping (Ms. Cameron needs a bed like yesterday), and beaching like whales on the couch while watching football.

Simple. Fun.

I'm leaving to Wisconsin tomorrow afternoon and heading from the office to the airport sometime in the early evening (I should look at my calendar - it's right here - right on my phone - yet I refuse - why?). I'll be there until Thursday which if my shameful maternally battered memory serves me correctly is my longest business trip to date and definitely the longest I've been away from both kids at a stretch.

Sad panda.

I don't sleep well when I'm away from my family but then again I don't sleep too fabulously with them either. These kids are huge and their elbows are pointy.

I'm looking forward to sampling Wisconsin cheese. I've only been there once and didn't have enough time for a true cheese tasting. I don't believe there's a state with better cheese than Vermont but I'll reserve judgement for now.

Happy Sunday.





Coquito: Holiday Eggnog in the Caribbean Tradition

Veronica Armstrong

veronica armstrong coquito

I’m a tradition fiend. Learning about the traditions that friends and family treasure is something I’ve always enjoyed. The holiday season is a time rich with familial rituals and fond memories. From the quirkiest of Chevy Chase-esque escapades to the traditional midnight mass religious ceremonies, they all fascinate me. Why do we cling to our holiday routines? Is it the warmth of old memories? Is it the comfort and familiarity of fond memories of the past?

Our little family does not yet have any significant established traditions. That doesn’t mean I’m not itching to create some. My husband makes fun of me because he thinks traditions should be spontaneous, not planned. Traditions should arise from authentic family experiences, I agree. However what’s wrong with a little planned magic?

I can’t possibly be the only mother who schemes to plant magical seeds of family memories in my kids’ psyches. It isn’t that we don’t have absolutely wonderful times together – we do - but I love the opportunity to surprise my kids and soak in the look of wonder in their eyes. That’s the beauty of childhood. Sometimes the simplest things can remind us of the best of times in our lives. A fleeting hint of fragrance, a note from a song, or a familiar face can jog something in our mind’s periphery that takes us straight to our happiest place.

While I don’t yet have any established traditions with my little ones, I have plenty of fond memories from my own childhood. They involve booze. Sort of. Put away your pitchforks and let me explain. I’m a Dominican American. I’m a first-generation American, which means many of my traditions stem from my family’s Caribbean roots. Many of my earliest memories revolve around the sound of bachata music, the smell of coconut, and the taste of plantains.

There are many ways Dominicans celebrate the holidays with their families, but one of my favorites is sipping on glasses of Coquito. Coquito is a Caribbean version of eggnog. Some say it has Puerto Rican roots. Others dispute that. Mention that to the wrong Dominican, and you’re off the Christmas coquito list for life. Hold your tongue.

It’s for the best.

The beginning of December heralds the holiday gift giving season. I remember my mother receiving bottles of coquito from neighbors and coworkers. She enjoyed some, served some at parties, and regifted the remaining bottles -- if there was a surplus. Obviously, I never got a taste of the alcoholic variety, but my mother was kind enough to blend us a nonalcoholic version. I’m certain a love of coconut flows through my Dominican veins, and there’s no way I was going to watch everyone enjoy two of my favorite things, coconut and eggnog, without begging for some of my own.

Here is a recipe for you to try. The hype is real. Mix some of this up to add a bit of Latin flavor to your next holiday gathering. Before you ask me what size cans to use, let me remind you that my mother has never written her coquito recipe. She grabs whatever the standard can size is and goes with it, taking sips along the way.

It adds to the charm.


Mom’s Coquito

• 1 can cream of coconut • 1 can sweetened condensed milk • 1 can evaporated milk • ½ teaspoon canela (Mexican cinnamon but any good quality cinnamon works) • Pinch cloves • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (my favorite but extract is what is traditionally used) • ¼ cup white rum (keep or omit – use less or use more – taste as you go – live it up!)

Mix or blend all of the ingredients, serve over ice, and enjoy.

veronica armstrong coquito

Happy Holidays!

This post is part of the Favorite Holiday Traditions series, sponsored by Betty Crocker Cookies.

Hello. Again.

Veronica Armstrong

It never occurred to me that I might someday become the not so proud owner of an outdated, stagnant blog. Yet. Here I am.

If you're one of the ride or dies who has followed my blog journey from the beginning you know that I've had few moments of tranquility during the last four years.

We're doing our best to establish a normal life in Indiana but it takes time. We've been here five months. Boxes remained unopened, routines remain chaotic, and our lives remain uprooted.

We're well. The kids are pure joy. I've returned to the corporate workforce. My husband has begun his post MBA career. We bought a house. Progress has been made but life is still far from normal.

There's plenty more. I'll be back to share soon.

How are you?

veronica-armstrong-indianapolis-photographer-2 veronica-armstrong-indianapolis-photographer-3 veronica-armstrong-indianapolis-photographer-4 veronica-armstrong-indianapolis-photographer

for the love of new beginnings

Veronica Armstrong


It'e been an emotional week thus far for the Armstrong family. Preston attended his first day of Pre-K yesterday and we're working through all sorts of feelings about it. He's a big boy and emotionally ready for school. He craves intellectual challenges and interaction with kids his age. We chose a school we're confident will suit his needs. We've attended several school related events, introduced Preston to his peers, and have done our best to prepare him. I learned that my heart cannot be prepared fo the challenges that come with watching one's child grow. It hurt for a moment as I watched him walk away. Knowing that he'd be surrounded by temporary strangers (but hopefully - eventual friends), a little confused about what was ahead, and wondering what his mommy, daddy, and best friend Cameron were up to.


Preston was tired and Cameron was clinging to him as usual. It didn't seem odd to me but once Preston entered the building Cameron's little lower lip began to quiver and it broke my heart. She wanted to be with her brother.


Big life events always trigger the internal mother versus photographer struggle. I want to do what I love most but I want to enjoy special moments with those I love most. I handed the camera to my husband but forgot to remove a polarizing filter I've had chilling on there. Don't care. I love this photo.

It tells you the day's story.

Preston: trying to make Daddy laugh. Cameron: trying to crack a smile despite her sadness over her buddy leaving. Me: excited and hopeful but shocked that I'm here.

How am I here? I'm a mother to two amazing little people. People! Not babies.



More clinging and concern. Poor Cameron was confused and out of sorts. She said she wanted to go to school with her big brother and all her girlfriends like she does at church. She's so social. Her favorite thing in the world besides her messing with her brother is meeting friends - girlfriends - wherever she goes.


His face. Handsome, hopeful, and sweet. While I know this experience will be good for him it is hard letting go. Putting my faith in the hands of virtual strangers and handing over my baby was difficult. I've done it before but it's different now. It's for good. He's a big kid. He's in school for many years. He will never be a tiny baby wriggling around on my lap.


I let him go. I let his daddy take him to the classroom where new friends, adventures, and pursuits await him. As difficult as today was it reminded me of the gifts becoming a mother has given me.

Preston has made me a better person. He has a way of doing that. He is so wonderful you can't help but want to be your best for him.

Watching Cameron become emotional over losing her buddy for a few hours made having them fourteen months apart worth it. They're best friends.

What more could I ask for?

Next up in the blog circle is the incredibly talented Melissa.

for the love of summer

Veronica Armstrong


Finding time to blog is something I'm struggling with at the moment. I don't have to do it but I enjoy it. I've thought about giving up but I miss it. One aspect of blogging I'm not ready to let go is my blog circles. Every month I join in with some wonderfully talented photographers and post some photos revolving around our open theme of "for the love of...". My theme this month is summer. It's here and it's glorious. While I haven't spent as much time photographing as I did during my stay at home mom days (seems long ago and it hasn't even been a month yet - geeze) I've scored a few keepers here and there.

The kids love splash pads and there's an abundance of them in Indiana. On this particular day Preston wasn't feeling it. He wanted to roll with the big kids and his Daddy on the playground. Cameron didn't disappoint. She splashed, danced, and smiled until it was time to go home.

Summer is here. We love it.

veronica armstrong indianapolis photographer for-the-love-of-summer-2 for-the-love-of-summer-1

Next up in the circle is the lovely and talented (said in my Bob Barker voice) Melissa.

hello, hey, hi, how you doing?

Veronica Armstrong


It always feels strange to return to blogging after an absence. Not sure why. Maybe its becasuse there's too much to say. I'm not going to apologize for not writing because to put it frankly: who cares? You all survived. Right?

We're in Indiana and doing our best to settle into a routine while not losing our minds during this intense transitional period. Things are great and I hope to be around more now that things are trickling into their new places.

How are you?


for the love of travel

Veronica Armstrong


It's "for the love of..." blog circle time. These shots were taken with my iPhone 5 and edited using the VSCOCam app.

My (not so) little babies loving hotel life. Sigh. Where did the time go?

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I'm sitting at the Syracuse, New York airport en route to Indianapolis for a final round job interview. I'm flying from Indy to Ithaca, New York for my husband's graduation from Cornell University immediately after my interview tomorrow. Things are insane (as usual) but absolutely wonderful.

I have lots to share and will be back soon.

Next up is the lovely and talented Melissa.

love list. volume i

Veronica Armstrong


listen. My inbox is cluttered with emails I've sent myself in the middle of the night in hopes that I would share them here. It rarely happens and I don't know why but I'm committed to clearing out that mess and sharing some of the cool stuff I've found around the internet.

I mean it this time! No laughing.


Some pimping.

 Happy Friday xo

intro to iPhoneography: iPhone editing workflow

Veronica Armstrong


I'm often asked about my mobile photo editing preferences. Speed, efficiency, and authenticity are my goals. Since I've upgraded to the iPhone 5 I've become a bit of a photo hoarder. I shoot endlessly and then find myself overwhelmed with the number of photos I have to cull, edit, and share. It took me a year or so but I finally nailed down an editing workflow that is quick, easy, and matches my shooting style best.


unedited photo 


edit with vscocam | highlights: 1 | saturation: 2 | contrast: 1 | fade: 2 | preset: 5

The steps differ if the photo I'm working on needs an exposure boost or a little fill light but 99% of the time the steps above are what I use to edit my photos.

If I'm editing a portrait I usually saturate and fade less but that's about it. I hope someday vscocam adds a save option so we can create our own presets and speed up the process a bit more but overall I'm more than pleased with the app.

What does your iPhone editing workflow look like?

black and white blog circle: she lit up the room

Veronica Armstrong


One thing I truly enjoy about traveling is learning to work with different light. The intense midday Florida sun is lots of fun to play with. I walked past Cameron playing in her temporary bedroom at Great Grandma and Grandpa's house and noticed the beautiful halo the sunlight made on her curls. I secretly photographed her for a few minutes with my DSLR and iPhone. Finally, she noticed me. Cameron looked up, smiled, and went right back to playing with her brother's fire truck.

She's amazing. So full of laughter, love, and - yes - light.

veronica armstrong black white photography


Next up in the black and white photography blog circle is the lovely Carolyn

endless summer

Veronica Armstrong


I'm trying my hardest to get back in the blogging/writing habit. We spent the past two weeks at a beachfront condo in Palm Coast, Florida. It was lovely. The kids swam in a pool for the first time (completely insane that I, a lifelong swimmer, let so much time pass before taking the kids to a pool) and absolutely loved it. We're taking it easy and enjoying it. We're spending two more weeks in Florida and then road tripping back up north for my husband's graduation and our subsequent move to Indianapolis.

I'll be back soon. I'm in another one of my semi-silent moods. I share on social media here and there but sitting down and facing my laptop for extended periods of time seems daunting.

Hope you all are absolutely wonderful. I'll be back soon. Maybe even tomorrow.



















all photos taken and edited with iPhone 5

for the love of afternoon tea

Veronica Armstrong


It's "for the love of...." blog circle time and this week I'm sharing another one of my London loves. Cream tea, afternoon tea, high tea, it does not matter - I love them all. I'm a devoted coffee fiend but while living in London I switched things up a bit. I decided to give proper tea a sincere try. I was working on cutting sugar out of my diet and since most teas I enjoy don't need much sweetener it was perfect during my transitional phase. I enjoyed plenty of treats while in Europe but in moderation. It paid off, I lost a ton of weight while there (woot) but I have regrets. So many teas, so little time. I know we'll be back but it doesn't stop me from daydreaming about the teas that never were. Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop app has a London city guide with its own section for teas around the city.

I highly suggest you check it out if you're traveling to the area (the app includes NYC and LA guides as well). Gwyneth has wonderful taste - obviously - but many of the options were a bit much for me. They either involved trekking across the city solo with the kids on the tube, wrangling children for three hours in an upscale venue, or spending hundreds of dollars on teas, pastries, and sandwiches we'd never be able to consume in one sitting.

My sister Vanessa came to visit me and there was no chance we weren't going to enjoy tea together. Chilling with little kids is exhausting especially after international travel so Vanessa and I agreed to keep it local and check out a neighborhood spot. The Muffin Man Tea Shop was perfect for our needs. Kid friendly, a short walk from my flat, and perfectly delicious. We fell in love with clotted cream and scones.












Next up in the blog circle is the lovely Melissa. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy.

intro to iphoneography: editing apps. beyond the filters.

Veronica Armstrong

My intro to iPhoneography blog series is back. If you've missed any previous posts be sure to check them out: intro, Getting to know your iPhone camera, and Shooting apps: which, why, and how.

veronica-armstrong-iphoneography SOOC (straight out of the camera - no edits besides added text)

Editing Apps. Beyond the filters.

There are hundreds of photo editing apps available for the iPhone. It's good and bad. It's nice to have options but choosing the right app for you is a bit overwhelming and it's too easy to waste money on useless apps. I can't write an overview on every app so I decided to share the ones I like best. I'm ashamed to admit how many iPhone photography apps I've tried. My shame is your gain because I'm going to show you a few apps that enhance your mobile photos rather than obscure them behind an overly strong filter.

MullerPhoto (0.99 + optional in app purchases)

This app was created by celebrity and entertainment photographer Michael Muller. I know I said this post was beyond the filters but this app is worth mentioning. There are filters but the unique thing about this app is the blending pad that allows you to control the intensity which allows you to change the look of your photo subtly, or not. Some of the filters are too strong for my editing preferences but some are just right depending on the photo.

You can also add a variety of light effects and tinker with their intensity too. One downside is that you cannot change exposure, white balance, etc.

It's a basic app but has some good editing potential.


Paris '75 filter (adjusted) 

KitCam (0.99 + optional in app purchases)

I've mentioned KitCam before but it's been updated recently and now it's even more awesome. It's great for beginner iPhone photographers and those of us who have been at it a while. The app comes loaded with some great films but there are some cool ones available for purchase too. You can also choose different lens effects such as vignetting, line tilt, and blowout and experiment with their intensity.

If you're not too heavy into phone editing or your photo doesn't need much work you can choose stay in the simple screen which includes options to change exposure, clarity, white balance, cropping, and rotation. If you're really serious about your shot head over to the pro side and work with brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance, levels, and sharpening.

Buy this app. It's awesome.


Super Fade filter (no adjustments)

AfterLight (0.99 + optional in app purchases)

AfterLight is very popular. You can adjust clarity, brightness, contrast, saturation, exposure, highlights (not many apps let you change these so that's a cool feature), shadows, fade, highlight tone, mid tone, shadow tone, temperature (white balance), vignette, grain, and sharpening, Whew! This app's got it all. You can choose from a large selection of filters as well. These aren't your typical over done crazy looking filters. They're subtle and adjustable.

This app is definitely worth the .99 cents. Advice: don't buy the instant film textures unless you're a *huge* fan of that look. If you're like me you'll probably never use them. Save a dollar.


Lume filter (no adjustments)

Gridditor ($1.99)

This app is unique and simple to use. Select the focus point of your image and a large grid appears with your photo viewed with different filters applied. Move around the grid from left to right from dark to bright and up and down from contrasty to vibrant. The next grid allows you to select from focused color to desaturated and a 1970s look to black and white.

If you still want to make more edits the third grid allows you to move around from gloomy to split tone and from monochrome to beach bypass. The cool thing is your original photo remains in the center so if you don't like any of the effects in the grid you can move on to the next one to see what's available without changing the look of your photo.

Still with me? Move on to the next grid to alter saturation and highlights or add a crumpled texture or a vignette. The next grid contains a focused contrast, focused, soft, and toy camera feature. If you haven't passed out yet the following grid includes sepia, shadows, sharpening, and black and white options.

And you're done. As you can see you can do as little or as much as you like. It's a great app. I do like it. Buy it if you're insane and can't make up your mind about anything. Just kidding. Seriously if you like a lot of options and seeing the effects in real-time. You'll love this app.


Filterstorm ($3.99)

This app is like Photoshop lite on your phone. Which reminds me I haven't tried the real Photoshop app so I'll probably write another editing app post in the future. Mental note. Moving on.

There are too many features to name. Filterstorm is absolutely worth the $3.99. The app has all the editing usual suspects but includes options to adjust curves, levels, canvas size, work with layers, add watermarks, play with a disposable camera effect, mask, blur, tone map, add effects, and I'll stop now. It's honestly insane what this app can do.

If you love getting into heavy editing this app is for you. If you're like me who prefers to work a bit more quickly then you might want to pass but it's not bad to have on your phone. I do like it I just don't use it often enough because I prefer minimal edits.


Clean edit (shadows, highlights, brightness, and contrast)

PicTapGo ($1.99)

The new kid on the block. This app is filter heavy but the filters aren't obnoxious. Intensity is adjustable which is another bonus. The thing that makes PicTapGo great is that you can create and save simple editing recipes for later use. You can also layer the filters to customize a photo's look even further.

I love the apps simple interface and the editing recipe feature is a big reason it stays on my list of editing must haves. One more thing I enjoy about PicTapGo is the community. PicTapGo was developed by Totally Rad! makers of Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, and more. They are active on Instagram and do a great job of encouraging and mobilizing the mobile photography community.

Try this app. Pretty sure you'll love it.


Montecito (full intensity)

VSCO CAM (.99)

My favorite editing app. VSCO calls itself the "Beautifully Simple Camera App" but the real winners are the processing options. You can tinker with the fade, grain, contrast, temperature, exposure, vignette, saturation, highlights, and crop options. There are three black and white filters and seven color filters to choose from as well. Most of my Instagram photos are edited with VSCO. I'll share my editing workflow in a later post.

The best thing about VSCO is the community. They feature incredible photographers who use the #vscocam hashtag on Instagram on their journal weekly and their selections are always inspiring. VSCO liked one of my photos on IG last week and I almost fainted. I love them that much.

Buy this one. Don't even hesitate.


Processing option #5 

Next week's post is: iPhone editing workflow

What's your favorite iPhone editing app?

black and white blog circle: a stranger's solitude.

Veronica Armstrong

We're back in the United States. The past two weeks were a crazed travel whirlwind. It took me longer than I'd anticipated to adjust to the time difference and I fell off the blog horse. I'm back at it and playing a bit of catch up. I'm about two weeks late for my monthly black and white blog circle post but I couldn't skip a month when I have so much photography goodness lingering on my harddrive.


I don't know this little girl but she entered the frame as I was shooting for a client. I kept shooting because I wondered what she was thinking. She didn't enter the water. She stood still for a long time watching the waves with a calm expression.

I envied her solitude for a moment and then captured a piece of it for myself.

Next up in the circle is LaShawn with a ridiculously cute portrait.

i'm back. again.

Veronica Armstrong

I miss Europe but it feels great to be back. We're staying in lovely Palm Beach, Florida with my husband's grandparents and loving every minute. The weather is perfect. The beaches are gorgeous. Our current pace of life is exactly what we needed. I'd like to call it a vacation but there isn't much relaxation when little ones are afoot. We are having a blast though. London was amazing but the sunshine feels incredible. The London weather took a horrible turn prior to our departure. It was cold, blustery, and wet.

We can't get enough of this lovely, warm Florida spring season.

It took me a hot minute to adjust to the time change. It hit me hard. Each day at about 7:00 p.m  (midnight in London before the recent daylight savings change) I'd start to fall apart. I fought the fatigue as best I could. I consumed the usual obscene quantities of coffee and handled all necessary business but I abandoned my favorite extracurriculars (blogging, photography, reading, etc). I survived but I'm glad it's behind me. I dislike being tired and if you've been here a while you know I whine about exhaustion constantly.

I don't like.

I haven't fully processed our stay in London, visit to Paris, or the somewhat harsh reality that the next few months will be among the most challenging of our lives. I'm sifting through the memories slowly and the facts at record speed. Right now we're focused on updating my résumé. I've decided to return to the outside of the home workforce (if I find the right role) and am currently applying to a few positions I'm interested in. I'm excited but it's also a scary prospect.

Many changes are coming.

You do know we're moving to Indianapolis, right? It's finally a done deal. We're buying a house. Enrolling Preston in pre-school and Cameron in the on-site daycare at my husband's office. We're finally settling down for a bit. It's surreal. My husband graduates from Cornell next month and immediately after we're Indy bound.

We've got a lot going on. Doesn't everyone? Aside from being overwhelmed I'm great. I lost 15+ pounds while in London, I'm running regularly again (I missed it so much), and the kids are (mostly) sleeping through the night in their own room on their own beds at great grandma and grandpa's where they're spoiled beyond belief.


Things are fabulous over here. How are you?