A Roadtrip, an Anniversary, Passover, and Easter

We have had a very, very busy few weeks!

I took my first road trip away from the twins, and I survived! Tim’s mom Pat and I went up to New Jersey to surprise his cousin at her (surprise) baby shower. We drove up one morning, went to the shower, and then drove back the next day. It was exhausting, but a fantastic trip (and great to know that we can all survive when Mommy goes away). Tim, his dad, and his grandfather were on duty, and they did a great job with the kids! Plus, I got plenty of pictures throughout the two days, so I knew my kids were happy, healthy, and safe! Although we were gone for less than 36 hours, we managed a 6-hour car trip, a quick (and cold) trip to the beach, stories from Pat’s childhood (I absolutely LOVE to hear background about someone’s childhood and past, especially when we can visit those places), a visit with extended family, the shower (surprise!!!), breakfast at a great diner, and then another 6-hour car trip (and a stop at a favorite store on the way back to see their new improvements in a new location).

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The very next weekend, we were so lucky to be able celebrate two very important holidays: Passover and Easter. We had my entire family over for our Passover Seder, where we were able to do the entire seder and 10 songs in under an hour! And we had (relatively) happy toddlers the whole time. WIN! Big huge props to my mom for doing all of the cooking and prepping and bringing them to our house so that we could keep the kids comfortable and make it easier on us. Thank you!

Then on Sunday, we went Tim’s family’s church (well, the fellowship hour after the service), where the twins could meet many of Tim’s parents’ friends. Then we went back to the Doyles’ house for an Easter egg hunt and some playing.

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Oh, and in between Passover and Easter was our anniversary… so of course we had to take a trip to the local zoo so that the kids could see the animals. They loved it so much we may become members so we can go often.

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I love springtime because of the holidays, time spent outside and visiting, and the fact that summer is almost here! But, man, is it busy and exhausting! Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Tips and Tricks for New Baby

Tips and TricksLast year, I wrote a few posts about tips for new moms, but since then, I have had some friends have babies. I feel like I have a year of advice, and I hate to overwhelm them with everything, so I thought I would write up a post about it. These are from my memories. Some will be similar to what appeared in past posts, but they will be the biggest tricks we still stand by today.

At the Hospital:

  • Have a dark-colored robe and a nursing bra. If you only pack two items, let it be these two. That way you can cover up for visitors and for the photographer.

The First Weeks:

  • Limit Nursing Time. Of course, you will want to talk to your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant, but you don’t want to let your newborn nurse nonstop during a session. Our pediatrician recommended we stop them after 20 minutes. If I still had milk left in me, I could pump and then syringe feed. If they nursed for longer, then they would spend more calories than they would gain by eating.
  • Nipple Balm is Your Friend. You will never know know how painful nursing is until you actually go through it. Every 2 or 3 hours you will have a baby (or babies in our case) tugging and nursing and having trouble (or success) latching. Use lanolin or another nipple balm (my pick is Bella B) and put it on thick! Use lanolin before showers and turn your back to the water. Use the balm after nursing (and in between sessions too). Use cotton/reusable nursing pads for added protection. Use a gel pad (Lily Padz is a great one) from the fridge/freezer for extra help.

Tricks for Home:

  • Have a Diaper Changing Station for Each Floor. We still have one on each floor with a replica of the caddy right next to it. It saves us so much trouble and steps!
  • Have a Sink Cleaning Station for Each Floor. With pumping supplies and sometimes bottles, you will want to have an area by a sink on each floor, just like you have a setup for diaper changes on each floor. We highly recommend the Boon Grass for drying. It looks silly, but it works so well that my mom got one for her home.
  • Keep a Tub of Water and Detergent to Prevent Stains. You have no idea how this saved our water bill. Just by having a tub of water with a little detergent  in it right by the washer/dryer, we could drop in the messy onesie or clothes and then we could wash them when we were ready. We rarely had to pre-treat stains and kept all our (and the babies’) clothes looking new despite many blow-outs and spit-ups.
  • Puppy Changing Pads on Changing Table. Babies will pee all over the place. And they will poop. And spit up. And you DON’T want to constantly change and wash your changing pad cover. It’s obnoxious. So, do what we did and get the blue puppy changing pads to put on top of the cover. It fits perfectly, it’s cheap, and it contains all of the mess. You can use them over and over and over again, and then when they get dirty or start falling apart, throw it away. Eventually you can go without this but you will want it for a while. Oh, and we found that girls need this even more than the boys. With the boys, the stream goes up and around. With the girls, it goes down and all over the place.

Do I have even more tricks than this? Absolutely! But these were the big ones for us to pass along. If you have great tricks, please leave them as a comment! I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Turning Thirty

Yesterday I celebrated my 30th birthday, and in the past year leading up to it, I was really excited to turn 30… in the past week I got a little more apprehensive. I don’t know why, but I was a little sad and nervous to turn the big 3-0. It made me want to start turning my frown upside-down and start focusing on all that I accomplished in my first thirty years:

  • went to 3 different preschools, 1 elementary school, 2 middle schools, 1 high school, 2 colleges, and 1 grad school
  • got an agent in New York City in elementary school
  • went on two Broadways auditions
  • met a TON of celebrities (and some semi-celebrities)
  • saw a handful of concerts
  • appeared in 70 plays, musicals, reviews, and other productions (not including recitals and talent shows)
  • went on over 10 cruises
  • traveled to England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany
  • graduated from high school in the top 10% of my class
  • graduated from college summa cum laude
  • received my master’s degree with a 4.0 a semester earlier than expected
  • taught for 5 years at a dream elementary school
  • named New Teacher of the Year at my school in my first year
  • won awards from my school district in multiple years for STEM lessons
  • married the love of my life (and high school sweetheart)
  • became a mommy to my twins
  • left my teaching job to be a stay at home mommy
  • mothered my fur babies Lucy and Toby
  • bought a house
  • owned 2 cars
  • planned fun parties
  • designed wonderful rooms
  • blogged for BrideSaver (my first blog), this blog, Supper Clubbing, my classroom blog, How Do You Do It?, and The Wise Baby
  • opened an Etsy business
  • rebranded the Etsy business
  • sold Thirty-One (bags and totes)
  • sold Rendi (personalized signs)
  • became a Young Living Distributor
  • started a business involving YL and essential oils (Healthier Oil the Thyme)
  • have amazing friends and family
  • look on the positive side (as much as possible)

 

Yes, I would say my first 30 years have been great. Here’s to an even better next 30 (and hopefully many many more than that)!

 

#100HappyDays

At the beginning of the summer, I jumped on the 100 Happy Days bandwagon. I feel like I’m normally happy anyway, but I wanted a picture challenge, and this seemed right up my alley.

So, here are my #100HappyDay pictures. You know what I learned? My family is what makes me happy. Really happy. Ridiculously happy.

 

 

To see all of these pictures and the captions, come check out my Instagram page (@dorydoyle).

It’s a Boy (in a Family of Girls)! Kit

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Last year, we had some family friends announce that their daughter was going to have a baby boy just a few months after the twins were born. How exciting! What was even better was that this woman has 3 daughters… so this is the first boy in a whole family of girls.

The Doyle family joked about putting together a kit for them of all the things that they would need for raising a boy, since they didn’t have any experience. While the kit never materialized, here is the list of things we thought of:

  • Legos
  • building blocks
  • a pocket knife
  • nunchucks
  • a sword
  • a Whoopie Cushion
  • a bag of dirt and a water bottle (to make mud)
  • a Dixie cup (for diaper changes)
  • a cap gun
  • Band-Aids and Neosporin

By the way, we know that not all of those would be for babies… some he would need to grow into. Still, what would you add to this kit?

#IceBucketChallenge and #BathWaterBucketChallenge

We were challenged by Paul and Merelene Valder to take the Ice Bucket Challenge as a part of our Lot 15 Hokies tailgating group. We have decided to donate to Hospice of the Piedmont in the memory of Tim’s Uncle Dave (and our son David’s namesake). We have challenged our twins Audrey and David (we have something special for them), my brothers Tee and Josh, and the University of Richmond radio station, WDCE.

And then…

Audrey and David were challenged (by us) to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. While it isn’t quite safe for babies to take this challenge, they did take the Bath Water Bucket Challenge. They now challenge their baby cousin Matix and baby friend Baxter to take the Bath Water Bucket Challenge. Please Note: All bath water was WARM!

Help Build a Non-Fiction Library for a Classroom in Need!

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Update: GREAT NEWS! AS OF 8/23/14, THIS PROJECT IS FULLY FUNDED!!! THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PITCHED IN TO HELP A GREAT TEACHER AND HER STUDENTS!!!

My good friend Cameron is a 1st grade teacher in North Carolina, and she teaches 22 children in a high-poverty area. Here is something that she says about her school and population:

“My school is 98% free and reduced lunch, mostly Hispanic and African American. The majority of my students come from single working parent homes. While some students show up the first week of school with some school supplies, I provide most of the supplies out of my own pocket. Our county took our stipend supply away this year to pay teacher salaries, so I am leaning hard on DonorsChoose.com for materials this year. With no stipend this year, there will be no money left over for books and games.”

This will be her third year in this school and also her third year in first grade. She is an incredible teacher, and constantly is looking to making these children’s lives better. She knows that they have a limited amount of background knowledge coming into the classroom, and on top of teaching the curriculum, Cameron tries to provide them with knowledge of the outer world beyond their neighborhood as well.

My Students: Do you ever remember your teacher having to stop a lesson and goggle (or find) information or a picture about a topic we were studying in class? No. Me either. But I find this to be a daily part of my teaching because my first graders are not coming to class with the same foundation of knowledge.

I have twenty curious and excited first graders. They come to school every day in the best uniform (collared shirt, khaki type pants) they can. Every day their parents send to school the best child they can send. Unfortunately, that student is not always prepared for the lesson at hand. My students come from a very high poverty neighborhood. Frequently they come to me with very little background knowledge about the world outside of their neighborhood. Often, they have very low reading skills. And more often than not they need help with basic life needs.

My Project:Due to the varying nature of the depth of background knowledge, the requested books will help my students gain or further their understanding of the world outside of their neighborhood. The leveled readers will also allow for students of varying reading levels to go on adventures through nonfiction!

My students love to read! However, my ability to provide my students with varying levels of nonfiction reading is very low. Your donations to my project will help provide my students with real life reading examples on each and everyone of their own reading levels.

My students need leveled readers to provide reading material on their reading level, as well as readers that provide a solid nonfiction reading background foundation.”

As you can see, she is trying to create a nonfiction leveled library so that ALL of her students (no matter what their reading level) can be exposed to nonfiction texts.

When I was in elementary school, my favorite books were the non-fiction books in my classroom library. Because of this, I tried to build this up in my classroom when I was a teacher, but I know how expensive this can be. When Cameron asked me to share this DonorsChoose site to help her with my friends, I knew that I had to do more and share it with the whole blog community!

So, please take a look at her DonorsChoose.com site and look at her request. She has priced out exactly what she needs and the cost. She needs a total cost of $1,207.50 to make this a reality. As of now, she has $30 donated. If you cannot donate, please think about sharing her site with someone who may be able to help.

Thank you so much!

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for this post. I just wanted to help out a friend and many children in need of a good classroom library!

 

 

Thank You

Thank You

We have been so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family to help us during these last 8 months (and throughout the pregnancy). I’ve tried to stay up on our thank you notes, but here is our big list.

Thank you for…

  • the meals.
  • the baby-holding.
  • the amazing toys, blankets, gear, etc. to make it possible to survive (and thrive) with two babies at once.
  • the clothes (both maternity and for babies).
  • coming over to visit, because I couldn’t leave the house and needed to see friends and family.
  • supporting our decision to raise our babies in the Jewish faith.
  • liking our Facebook messages, blog posts, Instagram pictures, Twitter tweets, etc. Even that simple “like” is so fantastic to see!
  • following us on Facebook, this blog, Instagram, Twitter…
  • letting us know that it’s ok that every single post is baby-related and that you love seeing and hearing about the twins.
  • asking questions about raising or having twins. I really do like to “teach.”
  • telling us that we are doing a great job and our children are beautiful. We think so too, but we like hearing other people say it!
  • being there to let us vent a little (raising twins is hard).
  • the gift cards. Shopping at Target, Babies R Us, and Amazon happen at least once a week.

Helping New Parents

Helping New Parents

Recently, I came across this article from Twiniversity called “How to Help a New Parent of Twins.” This was a topic that has recently come up time and time again both in talking to Tim about things we wished to have help with and with others. In this list, there are some things that I agree with and some that I don’t. So, here’s MY list of how to help out new parents of twins based on Twiniversity’s list and my thoughts.

1. Feed the Family: Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Don’t get me wrong, we have LOVED the adorable clothes, blankets, loveys, and other gear from our registry. We have used every single item we have been given. They have been wonderful. But as for HELP for us during those first few days/weeks/months, food has been the #1 “gift.” We aren’t picky (at least during this first little bit). We don’t even need full meals. But to open the freezer and be able to pull something out easily has been amazing. For those friends and family that have done this for us, I want to publicly say THANK YOU! You have no idea how little we want to cook and how wonderful it is to not have to cook or go grocery shopping.

2. Clean Their House: Yes and no.

When we first came home from the hospital, we loved the help from our moms to clean the house and do laundry. It was simply one less thing we had to think about. The only reason that this worked is that, in the months and weeks before Audrey and David arrived, our families took the time to learn how we liked things done. As the months have gone on, however, we have felt like we can do a bit more around the house and we want to do more around the house. To have the extra help with cleaning can make use feel inferior or incapable. Although we have twins, we really are managing ok at this point. If you want to help with cleaning the house, please ask us if that is ok. Find out how we want it done and listen to that. Otherwise, we will go behind your back and redo it… and that doesn’t help us OR you. Better yet, find out if we have a cleaning person that we use and pay to have the house cleaned. We had that given to us as a gift by amazing family members, and you have no idea what a relief that is!

3. Take Care of Their Older Children: Yep!

While we don’t have older children, we do have our dog, Lucy, and our cat, Toby. While the cat is pretty self-sufficient, we can’t say that about the dog. When the babies came home from the hospital, my parents took Lucy to their house to stay for about a week and a half while we transitioned into our new lives. Then, we were able to slowly ease into her being there with day-visits first and then finally we had her back with us 24/7 at about 2.5 weeks after birth. Having older children/animals definitely complicates things, and to have this extra assistance is so wonderful. Eventually, it was really nice to have Lucy back with us, and it has been great that my parents have offered to take her for overnights every now and then. As I mentioned with #2, as we have gotten into a routine, it’s comforting to have her here, and it has been wonderful for the offer, but we also appreciate that they understand when we say “Thank you, but no thank you.” Mom and Dad, if you are reading this, we may take you up on it when we travel down to Alabama this summer or for other short trips coming up (traveling with babies AND having a dog might be challenging…).

4. Help with Late-Night Feedings: Eh, not really

We had our moms stay with us for the first two weeks that we were home from the hospital. They were enormously helpful, from cleaning to laundry to doing the 6:30-9:30 baby shift while we had 3 hours of sleep. They always told us each night: “Come get me in the middle of the night if you need me.” Maybe we were stubborn or gluttons for punishment or it really  wasn’t that bad, but we never got them. We have always done the middle-of-the-night feedings by ourselves. It was simply too much trouble for me to pump and give the milk in a bottle. Now, the one time we did have help with the night feedings was at about 2.5 months when my parents stayed with the babies, we went to a hotel, and we could sleep all night long. It was glorious and we did nothing but talk about the babies the whole time. We missed them so much, that we haven’t done it since then (not even for our anniversary). And you know what, that is ok! But that one night was really nice!

5. Listen to Parents’ Needs: OH YES!

Please listen to the parents. Our needs change as the babies change. What we need on Monday may not be what we need on Tuesday. Listen to us. Ask us. Sometimes we will not know, but ask anyway. If we don’t know and you see a need, ask if it’s ok if you do so-and-so, and then do it. Having twins is hard, but probably harder than anything is the feeling that we aren’t independent anymore, like WE are the children again. We aren’t. We can do it, but it is just easier with help. Thank you so much ahead of time for respecting our need to feel capable to do this. I mean, we did survive a multiples pregnancy and birth! We can do this (there’s a little cheer for the MOMs reading this)!

6. Encouragement: PLEASE!

I really feel like this goes along with Listening to Parents’ Needs. We do NOT need you to tell us how you did XYZ with one baby (unless we ask). We do NOT need negativity of ANY kind (whether it is aimed at us or someone else). We need sincere, honest encouragement. If we choose to breastfeed, be our cheerleader. If we are able to go out with the babies to the mall, tell us how proud you are of us. If we took a shower for 3 days in a row, hire a marching band and start a parade. Please just be an honest encourager for us, no matter the choices we make. Keep your opinions to yourself. No, really, please do that. Don’t tell us how you or your cousin did it, whether she had one baby or 4. Tell US that we are doing it right and well. That’s what we need now more than anything. If we ASK, you can be honest (to a certain extent). Otherwise, keep your mouth shut, please!

 

So what do you think? Are there any tips that you new (or experienced) moms might give to those that want to help you out?

Family Fanatics

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The Hokie Bird, the bride and groom, and the Lane Stadium cake… all in a building designed by Thomas Jefferson!

If you have looked through our wedding pictures, you will see that our family is crazy about one sports team in particular: the Virginia Tech Hokies. Our family might actually be Hokie fanatics. This post is inspired by Fanatics.com, an online retailer of all things sports – baseball hats, jerseys, and tons of Hokie gear to cheer properly!

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Our groom’s cake: a replica of Lane Stadium.

I will admit that it wasn’t always that way. Growing up in Charlottesville, VA, I was a huge Virginia Cavaliers fan. I was a Ball Girl for the basketball team, I did the kids clubs to meet and become pen pals with the players, I had my UVA cheerleading outfit on, and I went to the football games with my dad. He was grooming me to be a Wahoo, which was totally normal in Charlottesville. So, because I loved UVA, I had a severe hatred for Hokies.

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Although I don’t condone graffiti, this was a rather clever trick for the UVA stadium right before the UVA vs VT game.

Our senior year of high school, my best friend Kim (who was a huge VT fan) and I would have disagreements (fights?) about which was the better school. I was stuck up and looked down my nose at Virginia Tech.

Then I started dating Tim, whose parents both went to Tech and who would be attending their Engineering School in the fall. I went down to the Spring Game with him and his family.

I fell in love…

with Virginia Tech…

(and Tim).

I loved the architecture, the Hokie Stones, the stadium, the electricity in the air, and the FOOTBALL! I was a drama kid. I hadn’t gone to a football game in forever and a day. But I got hooked. It was a rainy, cold day. I should have been miserable. I wasn’t. I bought the only sweatshirt that was in the bookstore: an oversized (XL), overpriced navy blue hoodie (and I wore that thing for years later).

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The infamous oversized sweatshirt on our high school senior trip.

There was just one problem… I had committed to going to Vanderbilt University for college.

So, I went there my first year, planning to major in theatre. I met wonderful people and had amazing experiences in the drama department. I even made it to one football game (although we were in the SEC, we were awful that year). It wasn’t like Tech. I transferred to become a Hokie after that year.

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Tim and his friends arriving at the first tailgate of our freshman year. Although I wasn’t there, this picture hung up in my dorm room in Vanderbilt all year.

At Virginia Tech, I felt like I was home. I went to every single home football game, even begging my parents to leave our vacation in Alabama early one year so I could make it back for a home game. We tailgated with Tim’s family every single Saturday, making the trek across the entire campus to the stadium in all kinds of weather. We stood up the entire game, because that’s what students do. We jumped to Enter Sandman as the football team entered the field. We loved every minute.

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Sophomore year and incredible student season tickets

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The Hokie Bird crowd surfing right by us

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Excited to go to a game!

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Enjoying the excitement when College Game Day came to town.

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The sign read, “Beamerball The Best There Is”

Our senior year was when the shooting happened (you can read about my experience on this post). Although our lives had changed, our love for our school had not. It only grew stronger.

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On April 17, we gathered in Lane Stadium to mourn together.

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The makeshift memorials started popping up after April 16

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We took comfort in each other, not the media.

That next fall, I enrolled at UVA’s Curry School of Education to get my Master’s degree in Elementary Education. I still wore my Virginia Tech gear (proudly) on the UVA grounds, especially if we had a Thursday night game. I didn’t care. I was a Hokie now, through and through.

When we got engaged and started planning our wedding, I knew that I wanted to do two things for Tim: get the Hokie Bird to surprise him and his family and get a groom’s cake of Lane Stadium. I was able to pull off both surprises for him (and his whole family), and they are still some of the best money we spent on the wedding.

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What a surprise!

(By the way, it turns out that hiring the mascot of your college team is not that difficult! Just contact the athletic office, let them know what you want, and they will get you in touch with the right people. The only caveat was that the Hokie couldn’t already be committed to another engagement (public visit, sports game, etc.). It cost us just $200 + gas for the Hokie Bird to travel from Blacksburg to Charlottesville, and every single penny went towards the student who came to the wedding. As the old credit card commercial says… priceless!)

Our first dance was supposed to be to What a Wonderful World, but it ended up being the Hokie Pokie!

Our first dance was supposed to be to What a Wonderful World, but it ended up being the Hokie Pokie!

Virginia Tech sports (and mostly football) has been such a huge part of our lives. It’s more than just a game. It’s something that we can do together with our extended family. Even for the family members that aren’t fans of the game itself, we can simply be together during the tailgates… and what tailgates they are! Combining efforts with 3 families, food to feed an army (of college students), a dozen chairs, and a few coolers… Tailgating with the Doyles has become second nature- everyone knows what to bring, how to pack, and when to arrive. The only thing up in the air is if we will win the game or not.

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Lucy’s first tailgate, mere days after we brought her home.

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Celebrating the newly-engaged (now married) couple!

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A surprise cake for us and another couple who welcomed their second daughter… all at the tailgate.

Now that Audrey and David are here, they will hopefully make it to their first tailgate and football game this fall. I have already picked out their outfits (a cheerleading dress for Audrey and a football jersey onesie for David), and they already know how to jump during Enter Sandman (they were practicing that while I was still pregnant with them last fall). We will be able to start the whole new generation of Virginia Tech fans with the twins, being complete fanatics over their team, their school, and their family.

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The only way we could get my dad in a Virginia Tech sweatshirt was for him to wear the navy (UVA colors) oversized sweatshirt!

When I first became a Hokie, I started noticing tons of Virginia Tech gear all over the place. Every time I spotted someone else with a maroon or orange VT, I would say “Go Hokies!” These strangers didn’t care. They would shout it right back with a smile and a fist pump. Strangers no more… that’s the way that this school just brings people together.

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I still love my big brother, even if he is a Wahoo!

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post, and all thoughts are my own.