kaelyn’s first haircut

Kaelyn had her first-ever haircut! She saw Kaya get a little trim one Sunday morning, but wasn’t ready to do so herself quite yet. A few days later, she came to me and said, “My hair getting loooong… Me want a haircut, mama!”

She sat very still, and was even a good sport for some photos. I didn’t want to cut too much off, but it was actually quite uneven to begin with, so I did end up trimming it quite a bit. I let her hold some of the pieces that were cut, and she seemed to think that was pretty crazy and cool.

Before…
And after! Beautiful inside and out. Still damp, but you get the idea. I love how her hair is really developing some natural wave!And of course, in true Kaelyn fashion, we needed one crazy face at the end! She was so happy and told me, “My hair super soft!”

five on friday (7/21)

This week has felt jam-packed (in the best way possible), so I feel like this is the longest Five on Friday I’ve written in a while! We’re having fun and getting all we can out of summertime, which makes my heart so full.

ONE. The weather is finally feeling like summertime should… HOT! We’ve had plenty of fun outside! We’ve all been enjoying the hammock, although the kids don’t quite understand that it’s meant for resting and relaxing, and not swinging as fast as you can in it. Ha! We had a “picnic” with friends, Aaliyah and Talyah! I love how making kids this age happy is as easy as putting a blanket out on the deck and eating outside.  Scout loves being out on the deck too!

TWO. We’ve found several little friends outside this week. This woolly bear caterpillar was walking across our driveway one evening, and Kaya was eager to pet it and hold it in her hand. She insisted on keeping it, so we made a little house out of an empty milk carton, and Kaya picked some leaves and flowers for it to eat.

Kaya declared it a girl, and named her “Caterpillary”, with a nickname of “Fuzzy” and a last name of “Wuzzy”. Caterpillary “Fuzzy” Wuzzy. We’ve had a lot of fun learning all about this type of caterpillar, and it’s provided several hours of entertainment for Kaya already.

We (or should I say, Scout) also found this little baby bird out in the yard this morning. It looked like a Mockingbird fledgling, most likely working on learning to fly. The girls were so excited to say hello to this little guy, but we made it a quick visit so we wouldn’t disturb it or its mama bird too much.

THREE. When Kaya styles your hair, you might end up with four bows in it all at once… … but still look as cute as ever!

All three of these ladies together… breaking my heart with a cuteness overload! Kaelyn’s working on her “smolder” face, obviously (and she hasn’t even seen Tangled yet)!

FOUR. Nella’s been having some form of dinner every night this week. We tried apple-prune puree, as well as strawberry Greek yogurt. The latter has been her favorite so far!

FIVE. Last, but definitely not least, I guess we’ve “officially” started our homeschool kindergarten curriculum! We’ve been nonchalantly doing schoolwork through the summer, but this week was sort of my test run to see how well we could stick to a more structured schedule.

Kaya is absolutely loving her new math book, and if she keeps working at the pace she’s going, we might be done with kindergarten math by Thanksgiving. I love that we can go quickly over what she already knows, and spend greater time on units she needs more practice in. Kaelyn has been using some preschool books from the dollar store, and is just as eager to learn! I’ll probably be writing more about our homeschooling adventures, but for today, I’m just excited to say we’ve started!

Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

a minnie mouse birthday party (kaelyn’s 3rd birthday!)

Kaelyn had talked about her upcoming birthday for weeks, if not months, before the big day actually arrived. She had decided on a unicorn-themed party long ago, but somehow ended up on the fence between that and a Minnie Mouse party. A couple weeks before the party, she finally landed on Minnie Mouse, and there was no turning back. She has always had a love for Minnie, although I’m not quite sure where it came from, since she doesn’t watch her show, and we don’t have any books with her in them, either.

The day before her party, we shopped for cake-baking supplies and her balloons! She was beaming when we picked these up at the dollar store!

I based the cake off of this one, and followed that same bow tutorial as well. I used homemade fondant for the bow, polka dots, and the shape of the ears (which I then covered in melted chocolate), but the frosting is all buttercream. I was actually really happy with how smooth-looking this turned out. Kaelyn was giddy when she saw her cake, and gave me so many cute smiles (which is a big deal, because she usually doesn’t like to be photographed)!
I love this beautiful, amazing, funny little girl. Celebrating her was the best. She actually got to blow out the candles twice, because for some reason, my camera wasn’t ready the first time.

Kaelyn had requested that the inside of the cake be “sprinkles”, so I made this funfetti recipe. It was delicious, but I think she was too excited for presents and didn’t actually eat any of it! She did, however, enjoy eating Minnie Mouse’s ear! Grandma Debbie was the only one who could make it to the party, but she brought lots of surprises for the birthday girl. Kaelyn was very happy to see everything wrapped in Minnie paper! She received a remote-controlled Minnie car, but it actually didn’t work, so we exchanged it for the airplane equivalent at Target. It’s one of her favorite toys now!Have you ever seen a kid so excited about socks and shirts? (Only if they’re Minnie-themed, I guess!) Undies sent by Auntie Lelia, Uncle Jeff and baby Bryce! Her only three gifts that weren’t related to Minnie Mouse- Paw Patrol puppies… … a water coloring book… …and donut chalk from Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn! We ended the festivities with her favorite food- pizza! She was so tired, but so very happy.

We love you, Kaelyn Grace! Happy 3rd Birthday!

nella: 9 months

Height: 27.75 inches (50%)
Weight: 16 pounds 12 ounces (23%)
Head circumference: 17 inches

Clothing size: I just switched her to 9-12 month clothing! I have a lot of very cute summery rompers from when Kaya was her age that I’m excited to use, but I might have teared up a little while packing away her smaller things. She just grew too fast!

We also decided to go ahead and move her out of “newborn” cloth diapers to the one-size snap ones. We ended up replacing the Bumgenius ones from the older girls (they were pretty worn out and not always leakproof) with some Alvas, and those have worked great so far.

Eye color: The brightest blue.
Hair: It’s really starting to fill in, and it’s still blonde, like her eyebrows!
Teeth: Two on the bottom in front, and that’s still all. She was super cranky for about a week, and I thought for sure she’d get some on the top, but nothing so far.

Eating: She’s nursing every 3 hours for the most part. It’s nice to have a bigger gap so I don’t have to rush out of the house for my run immediately after feeding her, or I have more uninterrupted time to sit and work with the older girls on their school lessons.

I gave her just tiny bit of pureed food (a blend of strawberry/apple/banana) for the first time, and she wasn’t really a fan. Other than that, we haven’t tried anything besides peanut butter. Kaelyn also tried to feed her a Goldfish cracker when we weren’t looking. Nella gagged a little, and Kaelyn was pretty upset and knows not to do that again.

Sleep: Not to brag, but if there were awards for how well babies sleep, Nella would be number one. She goes down around 7:30 or 8 pm at night, and then typically doesn’t wake up until I go nurse her at 6 am. She also takes a 3-hour-long nap every afternoon, as long as we’re home. If we’re out, she’ll nap in the car or stroller, but she crashes hard later that night if she doesn’t get her full nap time.

She also hates to see me go when I lay her in her crib, and will almost always start to cry as I walk away. I usually give her this pink Little People plastic pig to hold in an effort to distract her from missing me. Sometimes she holds it while she sleeps.

Favorite things: Her sisters, ripping/eating paper, stuffed animals, riding in the Ergo, and being outside. She loves snuggling, being tickled, being held high in the air, and trying to throw herself backward so she can hang upside down when someone is holding her.

Dislikes: Sometimes, she doesn’t like being buckled into her car seat. She is also very sensitive to other kids crying (or big sisters throwing fits), so sometimes she’ll bawl right along with them. She also really dislikes nursing with a cover, so I’ve pretty much given up on it.

Nicknames: Nellbells, Baby Sunshine, Nella Sunshine, Nell, Nell-Nell, Nels, Angel, Cheeks, Newwie (by Kaelyn), and “Baby Nella Sunshine Sprinkle Pop” and “Pushy Cheeks” (by Kaya).

Milestones, etc.: -She’s so close to crawling, but still not doing it quite yet! She just rolls and rolls until she gets to where she wants to go. She’s our first baby to do that (Kaya was a crawler, and Kaelyn would just scoot on her bottom across the floor). It’s fun to have a roller, although I am pretty surprised at how far she can get with this method of movement!

-We’ve seen her attempt to wave a couple of times, but it hasn’t happened all that much.

-Her main “language” for communicating with us is growling! Seriously… she can make a happy-sounding growl, as well as a sad and frustrated growl. It sounds crazy, but it’s true!

-She initiates peekaboo with us by pulling a blanket over her head, and always has the biggest smile when we “find” her!

-She still has no interest in standing on her legs… but her pediatrician and I agree that she’s just kind of lazy and doesn’t want to.

-She started giving the best big kisses! Daddy definitely gets the most though, by far!

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Nella Sunshine,

I love you more than words. I enjoy all the moments we have together, even if you happen to be a little fussy. You light up when I walk into a room, and don’t think I ever take that for granted. You are still very relaxed and will generally let anyone hold you, but I think your mommy is still your favorite.You love to put your head on me and curl up to rest, almost like a newborn baby. I love your smile and laugh and chubbiness. You still have that sweet baby smell, so sometimes, I just hold you and breathe it in.We sure do love you, Nella Joy!

Love, Mommy

 

five on friday (07/14)

ONE. We had an extra-fun week, because my friend Amanda and her two boys, Liam and Ryan, came to stay with us for a couple of days! We’ve known them for several years, but they moved away, and the last time we visited with them was nearly 3 years ago!We got some of our original play group back together for some fun, but we definitely missed having Katherine and Brittany there, too. Bianca invited us over for lunch on Thursday afternoon, and we enjoyed watching our kids play. In total, we’ve added three new little people to this group since the last time we were together.Kaya and Liam didn’t remember each other, even though they practically met at birth. They were fast friends though, and played together constantly once Kaya didn’t feel so shy (even though my girls couldn’t seem to remember the boys’ names, and kept calling them “The Big One” and “The Little One” instead of Liam and Ryan)! We sure were sad to see them leave!

TWO. This is how the girls come down to breakfast lately… It’s a good thing we only have three kids, because Michael is out of arms!

THREE. Nella started computer programming this week! 😉 Everyone wants to be just like Daddy.

FOUR. When you take out your long-forgotten selfie stick, and the little girl who most dislikes being photographed strikes the cutest pose next to you… I love this sweet, pigtail-haired three-year-old!

Sweet, sweet girls. I love how they cuddle up to me for a picture.FIVE. The best entertainment for Nella is always, without fail, her sisters! Kaya was rolling across the floor over to Nella, just to make her laugh. She loved it and could have done it all day long. I love watching them play together.

Happy Friday!

race 13.1 roanoke recap (my first half marathon!)

On race morning, I woke up to the engulfing blackness of night that still exists at 4 A.M. I was excited, jittery, and just the slightest bit nervous for the day ahead. I picked up Nella so she could nurse, and Michael gently woke the older girls, managing to get them to use the bathroom and get buckled into their car seats while they were essentially still asleep.

We left home around 5 A.M. to make the hour or so drive up to Roanoke. We needed to be at least a little early so I could pick up my race packet! I ate half of a Kind bar on the way, but I was too anxious to have anything else but some water.

We were some of the first people to arrive, so there was no line to pick up my bib. I had plenty of time to use the bathroom, take a pre-race photo, and try to nurse Nella again before I had to leave her for the next couple of hours.
Around 6:45, we heard the national anthem, and then all half-marathoners were called to line up. The only other race I’ve run is the Monument Avenue 10k, which has an excessively large number of participants in comparison to this half marathon. Needless to say, I was surprised (and a little relieved) to see so few people lining up.

I tightened my shoelaces, the countdown began, and we were off! I got to wave to Michael and the girls on the way out!
I started out right behind the 2:00 Race Pacer, and I got a little ambitious and thought that maybe I would be able to stick by him through most of it. Thankfully, by mile 3, I wised up and decided that I needed to just do what felt good for me based on my training.

The course was a very flat trail, winding through some trees near a river. Around mile 4, I heard the guy behind me repeatedly asking race volunteers, “Is this the hill up here?” I knew there were going to be hills, but I really wasn’t worried about them, since I’m used to running in this area. I wasn’t sure what this other runner’s preoccupation with “the hill” was, but as soon as I saw it around mile 4.5, I knew.

It was the steepest hill I’ve ever run in my life! So many people immediately started walking, but I pushed on. Another runner girl cheered for me. Once I was past it, I was worried for the turnaround, because next time, I’d be trying to go down it.

The course was no longer flat after that point- we had one more large hill and then some slight inclines and declines all the way to the turnaround point at 6.8 miles. I was starting to feel the effects of only eating half of a granola bar before the race, so after circling through a tiny parking lot at the end of the route and getting back on the trail, I pulled out my fruit snacks and ate one at a time over the next couple of miles. I was drinking Gatorade out of my pack, as well as taking some at all but one of the aid stations. I was also surprised to see that so few runners had brought their own fuel belts, and although it was a perfect day for racing (overcast and not at all hot), I was glad to have mine.

In my training runs, running miles 1 through 6 would feel almost effortless. On race day, however, I felt like I was pushing my body the entire time, and I was just tired. Once I was at mile 7, I started playing number games with myself:

“I just have to run 3 more miles until I reach 10, and I can run 3 miles easily. Then I just have to make it 1.5 more miles to get to 11.5, and then it’s basically just one more mile until that finish-line adrenaline kicks in. No big deal; I’ve got this!” I know it sounds crazy, but when you’re pushing through the miles, somehow, that thought process is convincing.

At mile 11, just like in training, the muscles in my legs and feet started to burn. My respiration and heart rate felt just fine, but my legs were absolutely ready to be done. These last few miles definitely weren’t flying by, but I was managing okay.

At mile 12.5, I started to see the buildings where we had started out, and I heard the music at the finish line. I remembered how Lelia had encouraged me to give it my all for that last quarter of a mile, so I started to kick it into gear, despite how tired my legs were.

To my surprise, Michael and girls were waiting for me at mile 12.9! They were just standing there, chatting with a race volunteer, waiting for me to come over the bridge. I was so happy to see them, but Michael shouted, “Keep going!!!”, which was probably a good reminder, because I hadn’t thought I’d see them until it was time to stop. Michael started jogging with the stroller behind me.

I gave that last 0.2 all that I had, and when I crossed the finish line, I felt so much relief, and even some sadness to realize it was already over. 13!!! Nella was the only one of our kids still in a good mood, so she was willing to take a picture with me! The other girls were absolutely exhausted from being up so early, an I can’t say I blame them! Nella takes medal-wearing very seriously.
My average overall pace was 9:53 min/mile, and I finished just 29 seconds before my goal time. Overall, I’m really happy with how I did. And now, it’s safe to say I’ve caught the half-marathon bug. I’ve already been contemplating which race will be my next!

nella’s first food

Nella had her very first taste of baby food last Wednesday! I like to put off starting solids for as long as I can (within reason), so I planned on waiting until she turned 9 months old. My girls seem to have pretty sensitive gag reflexes, so delaying this until they’re a little older seems to work better for us.Feeding her for the first time produced a record number of grossed-out-face photos.
We tried some Gerber strawberry-apple-banana puree. She definitely wasn’t a fan!
Somehow, she still managed to throw me a cute smile in between having the most revolting experience of her life. I only gave her about a quarter of the jar before she seemed done, and really, I think she spit most of it out.
We haven’t tried anything since, but I’m not at all in a rush to replace nursing with solids.

Of course, I had to get this on video too! I love Kaelyn’s sweet, excited little voice in the background- the big sisters had been eagerly waiting for this day! I’m sure it won’t be long before they want to help feed her.

father’s day 2017

This already feels like forever ago, but we had a sweet, simple Father’s Day celebration for our one and only best guy. Michael is the most amazing Daddy. His girls are his whole world, and I’m so grateful for his love, patience, and guidance when it comes to raising our daughters.

Each of the girls surprised him with one of his favorite candies…
…and subsequently begged him to share everything with them!Kaya made him a custom pipecleaner-pony-bead bracelet. He’s actually worn it every day for the past two weeks, and it’s surprisingly still holding up!I think the pictures just get crazier as this post goes on…
We ended up having our church’s stake conference on Father’s Day, which made our Sunday schedule a little different than usual. The primary kids sang “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home” the previous week, and at the end of church, all the dads enjoyed some pie.

Of course, we still wanted to make him a special treat on the real holiday. We mixed up some homemade brownies. Kaelyn is always the first to jump up and help me bake!
If you can’t tell, the girls got completely sugar high on the brownie batter. Needless to say, they didn’t eat any actual brownies.

Kaya came home with one of those “my dad” surveys from primary, too. Here were her answers:

My Dad is… 29 years old.
My Dad’s favorite thing to do is… tickle me.
My Dad’s job is… helping me take a bath.
My Dad’s favorite food is… pizza.
My favorite thing to do with my Dad is… play hide and seek.
My Dad is really good at… volleyball.
My Dad makes me laugh when he… tickles me.
I am so happy when me and my Dad… hug each other.

Happy Father’s Day, buddy! We sure are lucky to have you.

five on friday (06/30)

It’s super late and I should be in bed, but I have a hard time letting a Friday go by without listing five great things from the week!

ONE. The biggest event of the week- our second sweet princess turned 3 years old! We had her party last weekend, but on her real birthday, we went out to the local bakery and treated her to any cookie she wanted. She, of course, chose one that had a 10:1 frosting to cookie ratio. A girl after my own heart! She was beaming as we sang “happy birthday” to her right in the middle of the mall. We went to play on the indoor playground afterward. I love how the simple things are her favorites.

TWO. Grandma came down for Kaelyn’s party, and stayed for a couple of days at the start of the week. We had a nice long walk and some time at the playground and in the yard with her. These girls sure love their Grandma Debbie (even if I could only convince two of them to get into a photo with her)…

THREE. My garden is growing! For real! I’m amazed to see these plants growing so big, and I’m actually getting kind of attached to them, so here’s to hoping that nothing comes along and eats them. There’s no produce yet, but I have a couple of cucumber plants… … some green beans… …and one lone cherry tomato plant. I’m so excited to hopefully see some food growing on these soon!

FOUR. What’s cuter than a baby in just a tank top and her diaper? One of my favorite things about summer is being able to leave her arms and legs bare so I can see those squishy little rolls of hers! Baby chub is the best.

Also, these little toes!

FIVE. It’s been a while since Freyja and Claire have graced the blog with their presence, so here they are in all their fuzzy glory. Kaya and Kaelyn helped me give them a little “spa night” a couple weeks ago, where they had baths and got their nails clipped. The pigs didn’t enjoy the process, but I can tell you that they do like to feel clean when it’s all done. Claire reminds me of a little teddy bear!Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

happy 3rd birthday, kaelyn!

Dear Kaelyn,

I cannot believe you are three years old! I can remember the moment we met so clearly, that in a way, it feels like yesterday. I still get choked up thinking about when I saw the tiny features of your face for the first time, and remembering how I was overcome with the distinct feeling that you were meant to be ours.

Now, I look at those steel blue eyes of yours, usually accompanied by a sly grin, and I can’t help but laugh. You are so completely silly, but in a generally calm, quiet way. You love to say things that don’t make sense just to make us all giggle.

You have blossomed from being the baby of the family into the astounding big sister you are now. You look at Nella and say “my baby”, or “my sit-sta (sister)” as you embrace her and talk to her in the sweetest little voice that you only use with babies.

Your toddlerhood has been very calm. You very rarely throw a tantrum or have mood swings. If I had to pick just two words to describe you, they’d be sweet and spunky.

Your favorite stuffed animals are your pink Piggy, your dog Cinnamon, and your beanie baby bear, Candy (who was named by you because he reminds you of those Valentine’s sweetheart candies).You take care of all of them as if they are your babies, and I love how gentle and loving you are as you tend to them.

You are still completely obsessed with “bluey” (blue).

Your sentences have improved dramatically over the last two months or so. You say most everything very clearly, with accurate pronunciation, so I think even people who don’t know you well would be able to understand you. You still use “me” instead of “I” as a subject, but it’s so cute that I almost wish you’d never realize it’s wrong.

You love art. You color inside the lines in your coloring books and use paint very carefully. You’ve even started drawing people, which are mostly round circles with little specks inside them.

You are so sensitive when it comes to friends and family. If we read you a book (like Little Cub by Olivier Dunrea) where the main character is alone, you actually start to cry for him. You also cried for the horse, Spirit, from the movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, when he was separated from his family and couldn’t get back. I love how family is already so important to you at this young age.

Your very favorite book is BooBoo (Gossie & Friends) by Olivier Dunrea. You giggle when Daddy reads it “wrong” on purpose. He’ll say, “BooBoo is a small yellow gosling…”, and you’ll laugh while correcting him, “No… BooBoo is a small BLUE gosling!”

You are a problem solver, like your daddy. You love to do puzzles and figure things out, but you’re also great at solving real-life problems. If you and Kaya are arguing over the same item, and you see it’s creating a difficult situation, you will often just let Kaya have whatever the item is and then move on, even if it’s something you really want. It’s not that you’re giving up the fight; I think you are really good at assessing situations and seeing the bigger picture.

You have an incredible attention span for your age, as well as excellent fine motor skills. You nearly completed an entire perler-bead puppy in one afternoon, which takes a lot of focus and precision for someone so little. You finished it as soon as you had the chance the next morning. I was so proud of you for doing it all on your own!

If we ask you what your name is, you always say, “Baba Grace!” Daddy has also brought back one of the nicknames we used to call you when you were a baby, “Kaecakes”, and you seem to like that one, too.

You have done preschool with Kaya for the past couple of years, just on your own terms. I’ve never required you to work on writing, reading, or math, but you’re already starting to try by yourself. You can spell your nickname (“B-A-B-A, Baba!”), and you’ve started trying to memorize the letter sounds. Anytime you see an “m” you say, “mmmm mmmm!” You can count correctly to eleven all on your own. You’re so excited to “officially” start “preschool… at home!” here soon.

Anytime you and I are eating the same thing or doing the same activity, you say we’re “buddies!” If we both have a cucumber, we’re “cucumber buddies!” Haha.

I still put you down for a nap every day, but you often would rather sit up in your bed, looking at books, doing a small puzzle, or drawing. You stay awake as long as you can, even though you really are tired and in need of some rest.

Blueberry is your favorite flavor of everything. You’d eat a blueberry yogurt for lunch every day if we had an endless stockpile. You’re so excited to go blueberry picking this summer, and I’m sure you’re going to have a hard time not eating all of them as we go.

Your favorite song is “Dirt on My Boots”, by Jon Pardi. Any time it comes on the radio, you start rocking back and forth if we’re in the car, and galloping across the floor if we’re at home. You call it “my boots song!” You say you like it because it “has cowboys” (and it does, in the lyric music video).

You love chapstick and lipgloss and will never turn me down when I offer to put some on you. I save my nearly-empty chapstick tubes for you to finish off so that you won’t play with my real ones, because you love to roll them up until they break!

Sometimes, when Daddy is tucking Kaya in at night, I sneak into your bed and snuggle with you. You like to throw your little arms around my neck and say “Stay with me forever!”, and sometimes I wish I could.

You are really becoming a sweet little friend of mine. You love to hear stories about when you were a baby, and I love to tell you all about how excited we were to know you were joining our family.I love you so much, Kaelyn Grace. Happy 3rd birthday, baby girl!