a visit to the children’s museum

We had our first-ever visit to the children’s museum on Friday! I think we might’ve been the very last people in town to finally go check it out… so when a friend offered us some free day passes, we definitely had to go.

As expected, my girls absolutely loved everything there. They have so many different stations for imaginative play, and despite being there for over 3 hours, we still didn’t try everything out. I think they spent the most time “grocery shopping” and pretending to cook food.

I have to admit, it was nice to play with my girls away from home, where I usually am constantly trying to clean or get something else done. I loved being able to just focus on them.

Kaya absolutely adored this little fort filled with books.

And, of course, she made friends with a giant teddy bear. She won’t stop talking about going back to see him. Kaelyn is such a goofball sometimes, pretending to lie down and go to sleep…

I loved seeing them explore new situations and figure out how to complete different tasks.We stayed well past lunchtime and into the beginning of nap time, so when we made it home, we hurried to get lunch ready, and then we all promptly passed out.

We had such a good time that we ended up buying a family membership for year. I think it’s going to be well worth it!

currently (feb 2016)

Daydreaming… about the beach! It’s always right around this time of year that I just can’t seem to stop thinking about the sand, waves, and salty sea air. Although we’ve had an extremely mild winter here (it’s 42 degrees right now), I still find myself craving that special family time and the slow-paced life near the sea. I booked our (seemingly traditional) family trip last week for this summer, and I am already imagining the joy on my girls’ faces when we get there._MG_7589Reading… The Book Thief. I just started this one, but I usually get really into historical fiction, so I’m hoping it’s a good one. I also snagged a free one-year subscription to Parents magazine and I’m hooked (and admitting that totally makes me feel like an actual, bona fide mom now…)

Watching… Malcolm in the Middle. Yes, again. Michael and I have practically made it our nightly ritual to watch one episode while having dessert after the kids go to bed. It’s so simple, but I look forward to that 20-ish minutes of laughing with my best buddy all day. We watched the series a few years back (either right before or right after Kaya was born), but now that we’re a tiny bit more seasoned as parents, I think the show is even more hilarious than from a kid’s point of view.

Counting down… until my birthday (8 days) and Valentine’s Day! Having the two so close together makes for a pretty good excuse to bake and have treats all week, right? I’m also really excited about surprising the girls with something small, and hopefully making Valentine’s sugar cookies. Mmm. I made Michael some homemade peanut butter cups last year, but this candy bark is pretty enticing for this year:

Sleeping… on the couch way too much lately. We’ve been going to bed late, and I admit, if I sit down on the couch during naptime, I sometimes pass out… and then my whole afternoon is gone. Basically, if you want to be productive, never sit on the couch. Ever. And now you know what I’m doing instead of blogging most of the time.

Thinking… about what we’re going to do for preschool next year for Kaya. If I want to sign her up for a program, I need to do it soon. I am having such a good time just with our homeschool preschool, and I know Kaya loves it too, so I mostly just want to keep going with it. She does only have one more school year before kindergarten though, so I feel like we really need to make it count, whatever it is we choose.

Right now, my whole Pinterest account is has practically been run over by preschool plans. Haha!

kaelyn: 19 months

_MG_0902Clothing size: Mostly 18-month things, but I have gotten out a few 24-month items and they fit with a little room to grow. Size 4 shoes.
Eyecolor: Blue.
Teeth: Ten still.
Eating: She is getting a lot better about finishing her meals! She loves cucumbers, Greek yogurt, chicken, muffins, Cheerios, and goldfish crackers. Still nursing 3 times a day.
New words: Piggy, switch, baby, boo. I’ve heard her use two-word “sentences” a couple of times, but it isn’t really common.
Favorite things: Blue Kitty, Piggy, her baby doll, driving toy cars, playing peekaboo, going down the slide, and reading books. She’s also obsessed with buckling herself into her high chair and will try for a long time to get it right. She LOVES going down the little slide we have here at home and sometimes spends most of her playtime doing that._MG_0741 Dislikes: Diaper changes, getting her face wiped, being told no, sharing, and the car seat. She realized after her first week of church nursery that she doesn’t like it. I try to have her go for an hour, but she spends most of it crying on and off, so it turns out that she gets picked up early.
Sleep: We put her down for bed around 8:30… but then both girls end up goofing off and laughing themselves silly for an hour to an hour and a half sometimes. She wakes up around 7 am or so and naps for three hours in the afternoon. Random powernaps still happen in the car or stroller, but never at home anymore.

Nicknames: Baba, Baba Grace, Monkey.
Milestones, etc.:  -She is really getting great at eating with utensils (and making less mess). She can successfully spoon-feed herself cereal and milk, so I’m impressed.

-She’s started pointing to her diaper when she needs a new one (or thinks she does). She seems to be becoming more aware of her bodily functions. I’m almost wondering if she’ll potty train earlier than Kaya did (at 28 months).

-She’s good at getting herself dressed! She can put her pants on and pull them almost all the way up, as well as her own socks and boots/shoes.

-Every day, she steals Q-tips from the bathroom cabinet, pretends to clean her ears, and then throws them away.

-She’s obsessed with bags and taking things in and out of them. Super-easy entertainment!

-I still give her baths in the sink, and she requires having her own cup to play with every time. She’ll fill it up with clean water from the tap, and then take big gulps from it while I wash her.

-After her bath, she is obsessed with walking around with her towel on her head for at least 30 minutes. If you put it in the hamper, she cries like her world is crashing down._MG_0866

-We have really started to see some attitude from her this month. She knows what she wants and when she wants it, and she’s not afraid to let you know all about it.

-She LOVES music and will bang on the piano or her toy instruments any chance she gets.
_MG_0810

Dear Kaelyn,

Something you’ve gotten really good at this month is making all of us laugh. You are a true little joker, and love being silly. You spend almost all day smiling, and I think you just keep getting more beautiful with each passing day. You’re sweet and loving, always taking care of your animal babies or your baby doll. I caught you trying to “nurse” your Piggy recently.
_MG_0757You love playing with Kaya. She makes you laugh more than anyone does, but there are definitely times when you guys fight over the same toy or scream because you don’t want to be touched by your sister. Really, though, you have a great bond, and I’m so glad you get to walk through life together._MG_0746I love you, Kaelyn Grace. Keep smiling.

Love, Mommy

winter storm jonas

Snow has a sort of magic about it. It has the power to stop all our busyness and schedules. Nature’s white, tranquil blanket envelopes us all, creating a shining, peaceful world._MG_0828 The best part of being snowed in was definitely all the extra family time we were able to have. The university actually announced on Thursday afternoon that it would be closed on Friday, which is an incredibly rare event. This meant that Michael ended up having two long weekends in a row! Knowing that the school was shutting down preemptively, I felt a little nervous about how big this storm would actually be.

Kaya could not have been more excited to play in the snow. She has been waiting for winter weather so eagerly for months now, and in her mind, snow absolutely had to come after Christmastime._MG_0830 Our neighbor gave us their old sled! We were so excited for some good sledding… and then we cracked the plastic seat after only three runs down the hill. I’m thinking the plastic must’ve been a bit weak if we broke it so easily, but it was fun while it lasted._MG_0833These next three photos happened in succession. I love how Kaya almost completely disappears in the snow at the end!
_MG_0838 _MG_0839 _MG_0840 Happy happy little girl. :)_MG_0843 We thought maybe she could still use the sled on her own, even after we cracked it, since she doesn’t weigh all that much. Turns out, she isn’t heavy enough to even get it to move down the hill on her own!_MG_0844 _MG_0845 Kaelyn missed all the fun on the first day of snow because she was napping, so on the second day (Saturday), I finally bundled her up and brought her out for her first snow experience (we didn’t take her out in any last year).

I don’t know if she was upset because her snowsuit was uncomfortable or just because she wasn’t sure of what was going on… but our little marshmallow was quite unhappy at first._MG_0851Michael ended up pulling the kids along in the broken sled, since it no longer worked going down the hill. Kaelyn didn’t cheer up when we first tried to give her a ride…
_MG_0857 After a while, she started to like being out there, and even pouted when it wasn’t her turn to “sled”!_MG_0860 This is our parking lot!_MG_0861I loved seeing both my babies riding in the sled together. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that they’re mine. They’ve grown so fast, and these kinds of activities just get more and more fun as they get older.
_MG_0862

All our church meetings were canceled on Sunday, and in total, I think we ended up with about 15 inches.

The snow has mostly melted now, and our first snowstorm of the season seems to have come and gone so quickly.

and the blocks came tumbling down

Last weekend (before the snowstorm hit), my in-laws came up to celebrate a very belated Christmas with us, since we didn’t get to see them during the actual holiday. Usually they camp (or should I say “glamp”? 😉 ) when they come to see us, but the campground was closed, so they stayed at our place. That meant that we had a lot of extra time with them, since they didn’t have to leave at night! This left more time for movie-watching, Mario Kart, and dad-cuddles._MG_0798Kaya was pretty excited to open a few more Christmas gifts! Tights…_MG_0760Preemie-sized jammies for her baby doll (and I still sometimes can’t believe that Kaelyn wore this size when she was born)!_MG_0763 A doll carrier so she can wear her baby!_MG_0766 And Grandma Gina made them matching purses! I’m not sure why she made such a funny face, but she has taken this purse so many places in the past week._MG_0769 Kaelyn was sleepy and not so into opening things…_MG_0758 _MG_0774 Jammies for her baby doll too!_MG_0776And the heaviest box of fruit snacks I ever did see…_MG_0777 We enjoyed our favorite Chinese buffet, and a whole lot of silliness. How is it that grandpas always come up with the best games?_MG_0783 _MG_0782We spent a good amount of time building towers for the girls to knock down. They absolutely love these wooden blocks that Grandma and Grandpa brought for Kaelyn for Christmas._MG_0788 We had a great long weekend. I’m really blessed with great family and can’t wait to see them again soon. :)

dear kaya (3.25 years)

Dear Kaya,
_MG_0330
You are becoming such a little lady. You always say “please” and “thank you”, with almost no prompting from me, whenever it’s appropriate. You still love to help me with anything you can. Lately, you get very excited about helping to fold clean towels and washcloths. You also love to help unload the silverware from the dishwasher.

Because I’m a little late writing this, you have now “graduated” from nursery at church, and started the Sunbeam class. Your nursery leaders absolutely adored you, and told us that you had a sort of “calming influence” on the rest of the children in the class. I’m so proud of you for being a gentle, kind, attentive student.

Speaking of being studious, you enjoy our “homeschool preschool” so very much. You ask to do some kind of school activity every single morning, and I think you really cherish our time together. You tell me that you always want to stay home and do school with mommy instead of going to school with a teacher, but we still have a couple of years before we need to decide on that.

Singing is one of your very favorite things. You are excellent at memorizing songs and can pick up right where I leave off if I start singing one for you. You even “conduct” music and reenact church singing time at home with us.

You make up complex games and stories and are so good at independent play. When we’re together, I’m genuinely starting to feel like we’re just “hanging out” with each other. You’re so much fun, and I love hearing your ideas and what you have to say. You make me laugh every single day with your antics, whether you crack a joke or come into the living room wearing my pants and Kaelyn’s sweater over your pajamas._MG_0329Suddenly, you seem so very tall. You wear mostly 4T shirts and dresses these days, and I can’t believe we only have one more size until we’ll be shopping for you in the girl’s section.

You are so nurturing and loving toward all creatures, especially baby animals and human babies, too. You want a real puppy for your birthday, and you frequently talk about having another baby sister sometime in the future. You love to pretend that you have a baby in your tummy (really just under your shirt), and you’ll sing the “welcome baby” song from Daniel Tiger, and then your baby is “born”. Haha.

You take a 3-hour nap every afternoon. It amazes me that you still do, but I think we are both grateful for the rest.

I love you so much, Peeky. I’m so grateful you’re a part of our family!

Love, Mommy

five on… tuesday?

I missed writing my five on Friday post… So I’m breaking all the rules and writing this on a Tuesday.

ONE. We’ve been stuck inside with all these frigid temperatures, so it’s a good thing the girls have their new Christmas toys to play with. If you’re not sure where one of the kids is, check the tent- it’s their new favorite hideout. Kaya even played “house” in there with me last week. She was the mommy, and I was the baby, which meant that all I had to do was lie there and let her tuck me in with some blankets. I’ll play that game anytime, Kaya._MG_0701TWO. I taught our preschool co-op last week, and we did the letter “m”. Of course, we had to play with/eat marshmallows and make these adorable mice.

We also tried “Q-tip painting” for the first time, and the kids really got into it. Kaya was so excited about it that she painted two more numbers the next day.

THREE. I tried this crock pot meatless spaghetti sauce recipe, and it made quite a few jars to freeze. It was delicious enough to make again, and I feel at least somewhat on the ball for having homemade sauce stowed away for future meals._MG_0717 FOUR. There has been a whole lot of K’nex building going on here lately. Kaya loves to pick out what Daddy will make for her, and then both girls help find the pieces for him. They made a hot air balloon last Sunday, which ended with us all watching videos about them on YouTube, so we could show Kaya what they really look like. I love that we have access to technology to make learning at home possible._MG_0718 _MG_0720 FIVE. Someone has been doing some serious reading around here lately! Kaelyn loves this “Potty” book, although I don’t think we’re anywhere near training her. I love my little bookworm._MG_0724

january 2016 goals

Is it too late to make January goals? We are more than halfway through the month! 2016 is off to a fast start, and part of me already feels like I can’t keep up with everything I need/want to accomplish.

These goals might seem overly-simplistic, but I feel like that is what I personally need for now. So… here we go!january2016goals

1. Plan meals a week in advance.

2. Plan (at least) one whole week of preschool activities at a time, before the week starts.

3. Crochet 10 rows of the next color of yarn on my baby blanket. This blanket might be the slowest thing ever made… but I’m just going for progress here.

4. Do ab exercises 2-3 times a week. I’ve been slacking on my abs again, so I need accountability!

5. Complete two value experiences for Personal Progress.

6. Take a photo every day!

the last of the holiday shenanigans

The weeks leading up to and following Christmas were packed with visitors and activities, so, I’m combining all these random moments into one post, and then I promise I won’t talk about Christmas for at least a couple of months. 😉

When we arrived home from visiting my parents on the Sunday night before Christmas, we spent a couple of hours with Jeff and Lelia, who had come into town while we were gone. We hung out for a couple hours, ate pizza, and exchanged gifts. Kaya and Kaelyn could not have been more excited about their new dress-up clothes! We’ve got a couple of fairy-winged cowgirls on our hands._MG_0462 _MG_0459 Jeff and Lelia surprised me with a race registration for a 10k in the spring! I’ve been running for 7 years now and have never entered a race. Insane!

Apparently I found the whole thing to be pretty hilarious…_MG_0451

On the night before Christmas Eve, our little family went out for Chinese food. I think my girls eat more in one sitting at this buffet-style restaurant than they typically do all week. Michael, can this be a new Christmas Eve Eve tradition? :)

The next morning, I made a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls to take to one of the seminary students. They had a class auction (where they could use their hard-earned “seminary bucks” to get rewards), and he bought both the tickets I put in. I’m flattered that someone likes these so much! We had a couple left over… so of course, they didn’t go to waste.

During naptime, we wrapped some presents, watched “A Christmas Story”, and snuggled some guinea pigs…

And of course, we made a few more gingerbread cookies._MG_0599 A few days after Christmas, we went down to our local Inn, where they always have a beautiful Christmas tree display._MG_0620 Kaya instantly fell in love with a glowing reindeer statue…_MG_0601

I dressed the girls up in their matching Christmas dresses (from Grandma Debbie) with hopes of getting a nice photo of them together in front of one of the trees. They were kind of being crazy, so this is the best we could do. I love my silly kids, and they both love their Kitties._MG_0634On New Year’s Eve, Ben, Brittany, and Caroline came to visit! They moved to Texas back in August, and this is the first time they were back in Virginia. I’m so glad we got to spend a whole day hanging out with them.
_MG_0647 Caroline was so sweet and so good at giving big hugs…_MG_0638 We got crazy playing Wii and just catching up. And yes, I have a blinking problem. Haha._MG_0651

I can’t believe that they will be a family of four next time we see them! I’m so grateful for good friends.And that wraps it up for 2015! :)

christmas 2015

Finally, here it is, our Christmas day post! I wanted to remember all the details when we look back at this someday, so I included way too many pictures.

On Christmas Eve night, we went to our church’s Christmas Eve devotional. It is always the perfect activity for putting me in the right Christmas spirit and keeps me thinking about our Savior’s birth as I finish preparations for Christmas morning.

We wrapped a few last presents and set everything up. It’s always so magical to see everything all put together under the glowing lights of the tree.

We always tend to stay up too late on any given day… but on Christmas Eve, we stay up even later. We are just a couple of big kids, too excited to lie down and close our tired eyes. We finally went to bed around 1:15 am, only to wake up to Kaya needing to use the bathroom at 5:30 am. Luckily, she fell back to sleep in our bed… until 8 am! I was surprised at how late they slept._MG_0476

Their big shared gift was a princess castle tent. The squeals and giggles we heard as they entered the living room couldn’t have been any louder!_MG_0486

Obviously, this was a big hit. Kaya insisted on putting each of her gifts in here after she unwrapped them!_MG_0490

Kaelyn still doesn’t really know what to do with candy, but she loved her stocking anyway._MG_0491

Puppy for Kaelyn, cat for Kaya (of course)._MG_0493

Lately, Kaya has been obsessed with Silly Bands. She got a pack of pet-themed ones in her stocking and usually insists on wearing all 24 of them at once. Haha.
_MG_0496

_MG_0498

This is real life… one sister always wants what the other one has. But hey, an Olaf backpack is pretty cool.
_MG_0502Don’t worry, Kaelyn had plenty of her own things to open, too. She was so good at ripping the wrapping paper off of everything!_MG_0505

_MG_0517

Olaf had to read his own story, obviously._MG_0518_MG_0520Perler beads were one of my favorite things as a little girl… I think Kaya might still be a little young to use them on her own, but we’ve had fun sitting down together and making something.
_MG_0521An aquadoodle for the girl who already loves to draw…_MG_0522I ended up wrapping a few of the things I bought to use for our preschool lessons. Why not?_MG_0508A Daniel Tiger trolley! This was the only thing she specifically said she wanted for Christmas._MG_0514Kaelyn was so excited for her special gift…_MG_0528… a baby doll! She tried to take her out of the box before we could even undo the packaging._MG_0532One very happy little girl._MG_0533You can’t really tell from this picture, but Kaya has been loving Minnie Mouse lately and was SO excited about this little dress-up set._MG_0525_MG_0524Michael got a new Star Wars t-shirt…_MG_0538… and something I’ve been wanting to get for him for a while… K’nex! He and the girls have already had a lot of fun making different things to play with together (usually Daniel Tiger fits perfectly inside whatever car/truck/hot air balloon they make, so that’s pretty convenient)!_MG_0542And, you can’t really tell what’s going on here (besides Kaelyn screaming), but Michael’s big gift was a hammock! It will be so nice to have when we go camping (hopefully when it warms up), or just to set up outside whenever we like._MG_0543We kept breakfast super simple and enjoyed some snowman donuts…_MG_0551_MG_0553_MG_0561… while Michael temporarily set up and enjoyed his hammock. I’m pretty sure this was the perfect gift for him this year.
_MG_0563Someone else really liked it too…_MG_0569_MG_0573_MG_0577

My gifts were some bluetooth headphones and a selfie stick, so of course, we had to put that to good use. Here’s to getting in more pictures with my family!

Michael spent most of the day building helicopters, stars…_MG_0581… and a camera! This one was my favorite for sure._MG_0578Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn stopped by on their way back into town. They had presents for the girls… an Olaf hat and a ball pit! Needless to say, Kaya was having a blast._MG_0587We ate our Christmas dinner late, but it was so delicious. I’m definitely improving at this whole cooking-holiday-dinner thing. We had pot roast (in the crockpot), the best, creamiest garlic mashed potatoes I’ve ever had, broccoli, and homemade rolls from the Teerlink family cookbook._MG_0590Kaya thought that Jesus should have a birthday cake on Christmas, so we made this Norwegian chocolate cake (Sjokoladekake). It was less than beautiful (especially since this picture is after I already cut off a chunk to send home with Karl), but oh so delicious. I’d love for this to be a new tradition._MG_0596

The festivities ended, and all I could think about was how much I loved seeing my whole family smiling all day long. Their joy is the greatest gift they could ever give me.