five on friday (10/21)

ONE. You’d never know it by looking at the dreary, windy weather today, but we’ve actually had a week filled with 80-degree temperatures and glorious sunshine. I really do enjoy the cooler fall days, but having it be a little warmer has helped us get outside and do a lot of walking. _mg_6171TWO. Kaelyn loves to choose her own outfits, and this week, her fashion sense even extended into the realm of hair accessories. She insisted on wearing these huge, mismatched bows… but I honestly think she could make anything look adorable._mg_6105

THREE. Speaking of hair, if you forget to brush this little baby’s hair after a bath, it turns itself into a spiky ‘do. She actually had a couple of curls when she was born, and seeing this almost makes me wonder if she might become a curly girl too as she gets a little older._mg_6091 _mg_6094

FOUR. I think we bake something just about every week lately (even if it is always just pumpkin muffins or cookie dough), and these two little girls love having that special time with me. I love how much they enjoy helping in the kitchen!_mg_6050

FIVE. I have to end this with more baby lips… because I just cannot resist this sweet face and snuggles on a rainy day.

Linking up here, here, and here today!

pumpkin picking 2016

We had our very first outing as a family of five this past weekend (and I still can’t believe we’re numbered at five now… how did that happen so quickly?)!

Anyway, we met up with Karl and Kaitlyn and went out for our annual pumpkin-picking tradition at our favorite local farm. I could go out there every year for the rest of my life, and at the end of my days, I think I’d still be completely blown away by how gorgeous it all is. The sun breaks over that mountain ridge, warm on your face, and as you walk through that big old field, you almost wonder if this was a little piece of heaven that fell down to earth._mg_6061

We took a hayride up to where the pumpkins are laid for picking. Kaya remembered the ride from last year, and she was so very excited to do it again._mg_6054We let Kaya and Kaelyn each choose their own mini pumpkin to bring home._mg_6064Kaelyn was such a trooper through the entire afternoon. She trod up the hills with her pumpkin in one arm, and her stuffed “Baby Margaret” tiger in the other, and never faltered. This was also the hottest it’s ever been when we’ve gone pumpkin picking. Usually, we’re freezing (or at least wearing jackets)!_mg_6067

They loved “milking” this wooden cow._mg_6076

This was serious business, you guys._mg_6072

We went through the corn maze, and allowed Kaya to choose our path for most of it. We ended up hitting a lot of dead ends and being completely turned around before we shamelessly used the entrance as our own personal exit. At least we made it out!_mg_6080

We visited with some alpacas, and then stopped in the farm’s little shop for some homemade fudge and a new ornament for our Christmas tree. We also splurged on some amazing kettlecorn (Michael’s favorite) that completely disappeared before we even got it home.

I’m grateful my brother and Kaitlyn could come into town for the weekend. I miss them living locally!_mg_6083

If you can’t tell, Kaya was pretty tired by the end of the afternoon (although she’s totally “fake sleeping” in this picture)! I love this little (can I still call us little now that we have three kids?) family of mine, and I cherish these simple, sweet days we get to spend together._mg_6087

nella joy: 2 weeks

(written October 18th)

Dear Nella,nella_2weeksHappy Due Date, sweet baby. I can’t believe that you’ve been here with us for two whole weeks already! It feels like I’ve known you forever, and yet, the time is going by so quickly that your birth still feels like yesterday._mg_6118

For now, I’m listening to your sweet, soft breathing, and tiny, dream-induced whimpers. You’re asleep, but you won’t be for long, so I’m typing this and uploading photos as quickly as I can. These first few weeks with a new baby are a juggling act, and honestly, I’m always guiltily torn between soaking in all the sweet moments and taking time to record them. I’ve found that I need to write these things down, though, because one day, without these words and photos,  I’d never remember any of the small details. I hope that someday, you’ll cherish reading and knowing about your first few weeks of life, too._mg_6164

You are a dream baby. You are still a newborn, so I really don’t expect much as far as sleep goes, which is good, since your sleep patterns are still very random. Sometimes, we get a good 4-5 hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep, and others, you are up every 2 hours (or less) wanting to nurse. You still nap for most of the day, although you do seem to have a few hours of awake time divided between morning, afternoon, and late evening._mg_6106

You have sisters who wholeheartedly adore you. Before you were born, they would kiss my belly every single night. I eagerly waited to see how sweet they would be with you once you arrived, and amazingly, seeing you in their arms warms my heart even more than I could have imagined. You were a much anticipated, greatly loved, member of our family long before we ever met you._mg_6150Kaya has nicknamed you “Baby Nella Sunshine”, and we even have a little song we sing to wake you up:

Good morning, Baby Sunshine!
Good morning, Baby Sunshine!
Do you want some milk?
Do you want some milk?

Good morning, Baby Sunshine!
Good morning, Baby Sunshine!
We love you,
yes we do!

It’s completely silly, but it does seem to get you to open your eyes, at least.

You’ve had a few milestones this week. Your umbilical stump fell off on day 9 (just when your sisters’ did). You had your very first blowout, which ended with you taking a bath because your diaper really failed that badly.

You get hiccups after almost every meal, and I think they actually agitate you a little. You’re also already a pro at busting out of your swaddle at night, so I’ve started leaving your arms unwrapped.

You also went on your first of several walks. We tried out the Moby wrap (you’re the first of our babies to use it), and you seem to really like it. I’m still working on learning to tie it a little better though.

img_20161011_182711-01You also had your first ride (and nap) in the stroller!img_20161017_124419

You “met” you Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn, but there aren’t any pictures because there wasn’t a chance for them to hold you. We had our first real outing as a family of five (besides taking walks) to the pumpkin patch!_mg_6168

We love you so much, littlest princess.

Love, Mommy

five on friday (10/14)

ONE. I guess everything pre-Nella is old news, but I never got to blog about our weekend just before she arrived. Michael and I were able to sneak away for one last date night while his parents watched our girls, and that’s worth writing about, because we don’t go out together nearly as often as we should!

He tagged along for a family photoshoot I had that evening, and then we enjoyed dinner and dessert together. I’m so grateful for those few special hours that we had, just the two of us, to really talk and be together before our sweet baby came.img_20161001_180411-01

TWO. We’ve been keeping it really laid-back over here, so we haven’t done any “official” school this week, but we did make some pumpkin stamp art! My girls love any kind of art project that has to do with paint._mg_6033Here’s Kaya’s little pumpkin patch. I love the super-smiley ones!kayapumpkinstampsTHREE. We made our favorite pumpkin bread into muffins this week! I cut out 1/2 cup of the sugar and substituted in more whole wheat flour than white, and they still turned out amazing.Kaelyn almost couldn’t wait until they cooled down to try one!
_mg_6020FOUR. Kaya is all about the alphabet lately. She reads letters everywhere we go, and will make them out of anything she can. On this day, she told me that her sandwich was the letter C!_mg_6045She also likes to make “smiles” out of her apple slices. 🙂

FIVE. You didn’t think I’d get through a whole post without sharing a baby picture, did you? I’m pretty much obsessed with these lips and her warm, snuggly little body. In a way, I still can’t believe this precious little girl is all ours forever. We sure do love her.

Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

nella joy: 1 week

The days are flying by, and I can’t believe we’ve already had our littlest (big) blessing home with us for a whole week. My heart is full of love for this baby girl, so much so that I frequently find my eyes welling up with tears while cuddling with her and staring into her beautiful little face. She is a tiny angel, and having her here feels like having a small piece of heaven in our home.
nella_1weekI feel like she’s already changed so much in these few days that she’s been with us. I’m looking forward to finding out who she’s going to be, but I want time to slow down a little so we can soak in all the newborn snuggles and her sweet baby smell._mg_5902Even Kaya says, “I wish she could stay little forever.”
_mg_5906Her big sisters have a true, devoted love for her. They check on her to be sure she’s doing okay, hold her any chance they get, and give her as many kisses and cuddles as possible._mg_5961_mg_5955_mg_5937I’ve loved seeing Kaelyn transition to the role of big sister. She is so caring, tender, and concerned about anything that has to do with Nella. One of Kaelyn’s current baby-related worries is the umbilical cord stump- she frequently points at it, makes an anxious expression, and says “Ucky!” I reassure her that it’s okay, and it’s going to fall off soon._mg_5944_mg_5943Kaya and Kaelyn love when I wake them up by bringing Nella in to say “good morning!” They are not always happy risers, but as long as the baby is there, they are more than ready to get out of bed and greet her.
_mg_5886Nella is a big smiler. She grins in her sleep so often, and I absolutely love it. Also, how precious are her cheeks?_mg_6011_mg_5915

And we’ve all been doing a good amount of this over here lately…_mg_5918

She’s actually still been very sleepy in general, and will nap for most of the day. She wakes up for a few hours in the evening, and loves staring at us. We’ve been trying to go to bed around 11, but Nella doesn’t really like to settle down until 2 or 3 am. After that, she’ll usually give us a solid 4-hour stretch of sleep. I really think that’s pretty good for a brand-new baby!_mg_5947

We think she cries a lot less than our other babies did. Even when she does, it’s the sweetest, softest little wail. She doesn’t seem to get gassy like her big sisters did at this age, either. She cries to eat or have her diaper changed, and that’s all!_mg_6001

She’s also a dirty-diaper-making machine… It’s pretty much a guarantee that she’ll poop and/or pee while I’m already changing her. I think she’s trying to set a record for how many disposables we’ll use before we switch to cloth!_mg_5954

After birth, her weight dropped down to 6 pounds even. She had a check-up at the pediatrician this week (at 4 days old), and she went back up to 6 lbs 4 ounces, which was a 4-ounce gain in two days! At 19.25 inches tall, she’s in the 38th percentile for height right now. Her head is 13.25 inches in circumference, which is the 21st percentile._mg_6014

She has been excellent at nursing (almost from the moment she was born)! During the day, I’ve been waking her up about every 2 hours to eat, otherwise, she just keeps sleeping. She’s pretty fast at actually nursing, but she dozes off a lot, so getting her to drink enough takes a while, only because I’m constantly trying to keep her awake. In the evening before bedtime, she likes to cluster feed, so we spend a lot of time together up in the armchair in her room.

(Also, you can kind of see in this photo- she’s got platinum eyebrows and eyelashes!)

Nella met both of her Grandmas in her first week!_mg_5846 _mg_5931 _mg_5928And she also had her first sponge bath at home…_mg_5969 Clearly, she wasn’t a fan. But how cute is she all wrapped up in a tiny towel?_mg_5973

We love you so much, baby Nella. We’re so grateful you came to our little family.

meet nella

Nella Joy
October 04, 2016
2:09 pm
6 pounds 5 ounces
19.25 inches long

I feel like I’ve been waiting to write this post forever… even though our sweet girl actually surprised us all by being two weeks early!

She is absolutely perfect in every way.img_20161005_110215-01-02 I’ve once again been struck with that overwhelming, tear-jerking love that only a mother can feel for her child. She has already filled our home and hearts with so much joy._mg_5776

She was a missing piece to our family puzzle, and I’m so grateful that she arrived here safe and sound. Our older girls are completely infatuated with her, and love holding and kissing her all day long.img_20161005_140722I feel closer than ever to my little family, and I’m so especially grateful for my sweetheart, who cared for and supported me during this whole journey of pregnancy and birth. We had a long, but beautiful, labor and delivery, and I’m healing so well. Nella is strong and healthy, and we even got to come home from the hospital early.

We are so very blessed.

baby #3: 37 weeks

(written September 29th)37weeksBaby’s size: We had our growth scan this week, and the ultrasound technician estimated her to be around 6 pounds 2 ounces. However, her disclaimer was that she personally usually overestimates size, so her real guess is that the baby will be about that weight at delivery. This puts her in the 20th percentile, so she’s where she needs to be, just on the smaller side.

Funny enough, we had a scan with Kaelyn at 36 weeks, and she supposedly weighed 6 pounds 2 ounces too. Obviously, she came out a bit smaller!

Maternity clothes?: Yeah.

Gender: Sweet baby girl!

Symptoms: Still some sciatica, but usually only at the end of the day.

Labor signs: I think I’ve been having some contractions when I’m running… There’s just so much tightness and pressure! I should obviously know what they feel like by now, but sometimes it’s hard to tell. The first time I felt one, it almost felt good… I’m ready for my body to start working toward getting my baby here. I haven’t had my cervix checked, so I have no idea if I’m dilated or effaced at all.

Sleep: I wake up several times at night, and I’m always up before my first alarm these days. I absolutely need a nap in the afternoon, otherwise it’s really hard to make it through the day. I’m really hoping that this baby will take good naps, or that I suddenly have so much more energy once she’s born…

Movement: She is still wild and crazy, but I think she’s slowing down a little. There’s just not too much room left for her to dance.

Cravings: None.

What I miss: Not feeling humongous!

Anything making you queasy or sick?: I’ve had a few nauseous moments, but definitely nothing serious. I actually want to eat (which is something I haven’t felt for most of this pregnancy), so it’s almost strange to have an appetite again!

Belly Button in or out?: Flat and sometimes poking out.

Exercising?: Ran 19.9 miles. Fitbit total: 77,759 steps.

Mood: I got to see my favorite midwife (who delivered Kaya!) at my 37-week appointment this week, and her optimism really put my mind at ease. She’s so supportive of natural birth (i.e. no painkillers), so while she does want me to come to the hospital as soon as my water breaks due to the Group B strep, she told me to do whatever I need to to feel as comfortable as possible (especially since this could mean I labor at the hospital for much longer than I’d hoped). I’m planning on bringing essential oils, my own blanket and pillow, music, snacks and my water bottle, and my own lamp. I’m praying she’s the midwife on call when I deliver!

Best moment this week: Seeing this little girl at our ultrasound and hearing that she’s a good size, her organs look healthy, and amniotic fluid levels are in normal range. Also… seeing this beautiful little face made my day! It’s not the best picture (and it was easier to see her in person), but I already love those squishy cheeks and her sweet little nose. She reminds me a whole lot of Kaya as a baby… but I guess we’ll know who she looks like for sure in a few weeks!37weekultrasound_face

Looking forward to: My in-laws visiting this weekend, General Conference, and maybe taking the kids pumpkin picking this weekend.

Big sisters: Somehow, Kaya still insists on her middle name being “Sunshine”. We’ve already jokingly been calling her “Baby Sunshine”, so we’ll see if that nickname sticks once she’s born. Her real name actually has a meaning that has to do with light, so it almost kind of goes together! Haha.

Comparison: 37 weeks with Kaya; 37 weeks with Kaelyn.

five on friday (09/30)

ONE. We made our very first pumpkin bread of the season this morning! Kaelyn was very excited to help (i.e. dump flour and spices out of the bowl and onto the counter), and it turned out tasting just as heavenly as ever. There’s just something about a rainy morning and the scent of warm pumpkin that make it really feel like fall. This little sweetie couldn’t get enough of licking the batter!

TWO. Speaking of pumpkins, the girls have painted mini ones twice now. I saw some at Food Lion and decided to surprise them, and they eagerly decorated them. We set them outside to dry… and then it rained, and all their hard work was erased. Luckily, they were excited that they had the chance to do it again, instead of being sad that their masterpieces were destroyed.

Can you tell what Kaelyn’s favorite color is? _mg_5388

THREE. Sometimes, Michael will randomly snap a picture of the girls when he’s taking my weekly belly picture, and lately, I’ve been surprised with some really cute ones when I upload photos from my memory card. Kaya has been so excited to wear the new “button jacket” (denim jacket) that she got for her birthday!_mg_5407FOUR. My friend, Bianca, surprised Kaya with some kinetic sand for her birthday, and these girls love it. They’ve been making cookies and having invisible people over to come eat them. I love their imaginations, haha!_mg_5400

FIVE. We’ve had a couple of “picnics” (a.k.a. any time the girls eat their sandwiches anywhere other than home) this week! Kaya and Kaelyn love doing this, even though it’s the same old lunch that they always have. I had nearly back-to-back doctor appointments on Wednesday, and we had just enough time to stop at the park to eat.

Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

kaelyn’s 2-year portraits

It seems like I am always a little late getting Kaelyn’s yearly portraits done. Sometimes, I think it’s actually harder to do it when you’re the photographer- it’s too easy to break your own scheduled “appointment” because you’re tired or your kids are cranky.

Then again, it’s such a blessing to be able to wait for absolutely perfect lighting._mg_4878 We love this little girl so much, but honestly, she doesn’t love the camera. It’s hard to get her to look at it, nevermind smile at the same time! We were really lucky this day and ended up with some fantastic grins._mg_4870 _mg_4869 Daddy and Kaya get credit for making her laugh!_mg_4890 Love my little barefoot beauty._mg_4909 CHEESE!_mg_4913 And just because she makes some of the funniest little faces…_mg_4914 We love you, Kaelyn Grace!_mg_4920

a rainbow horse birthday party (kaya’s 4th birthday!)

Kaya had been saying that she wanted a “rainbow Chance party” for the majority of the past year. Like most people, you probably have no idea who Chance is… Well, he’s a horse who lives over at the barn I used to volunteer at during college. His pasture was right behind our old neighborhood, so Kaya saw him fairly frequently. I don’t know what it is about that gray horse, but he’s been her favorite for quite a while!

She loved her rainbow party last year, so she requested that again, too. What’s better than rainbows and horses combined?

We kicked off her party day with her favorite donuts. Daddy took the girls to our local donut shop to pick them up, and of course, Kaya chose mostly chocolate cake donuts or chocolate-frosted ones with sprinkles!
_mg_5162 This cake… oh this cake. It might not look like much, but it turned out to be a major labor of love. I actually ended up decorating the entire thing twice because it fell apart overnight… and then it started drooping again before she blew out her candle._mg_5176I think the decorations failed to stay on because I used a new death-by-chocolate recipe that was incredibly moist (and also called for using cooking spray and no flour on the cake pans when baking). It was the easiest cake ever to remove from the pans… but that also meant that the frosting didn’t stay on well at all. It tasted amazing, and I’d definitely use the recipe again, but not for a birthday cake with any kind of buttercream decorations.

The horses are from Playmobil. They really are so cute and well-made, and I’m glad I chose these!_mg_5189This little girl loved her cake so much (and couldn’t wait to play with the horses, of course)!
_mg_5170 _mg_5174 She was so excited for us to sing to her!_mg_5200 _mg_5202 Seriously… this cake was almost as fudgy as a brownie. Mmm._mg_5206 _mg_5208 Some of her presents included undies…_mg_5211 …a Hello Kitty shirt…_mg_5212 … and a “Chance” stuffed animal. She had asked for a “Chance snuggly animal”, and her reaction was just as adorable as I had hoped._mg_5216 Chance has gone everywhere with us ever since. I think he’s going to be a long-term favorite!_mg_5217 Her big gift was this horse stable from Grandma Debbie. I think Lelia and I enjoyed playing with it just as much as Kaya!_mg_5225During all the present-opening, Kaelyn had a good time goofing off with Uncle Jeff. These girls sure do love their aunts and uncles. 🙂
_mg_5220 We kept the decorations as low-key as ever, but we did surprise her with these cute horse balloons!_mg_5232 She also got to wear a fun rainbow tutu, which pretty much made her day!_mg_5237 _mg_5240 Jeff and Lelia brought their puppy, Fallon, so my girls had a great time playing with her all weekend._mg_5246 After the party, we cooked breakfast for dinner. French toast…_mg_5248 … scrambled eggs, and bacon!_mg_5249

Kaya even had a perfect day in Primary at church on Sunday. She got to stand up in front of everyone with her special birthday card while everyone sang to her (and I might have teared up watching from the back of the room… motherhood does crazy things to you!). They also had a lesson about God’s creatures, so her teacher brought in a cat for them to visit with (if you know Kaya, you know she loves cats)!

With all her rainbows, horse gifts, playing with Fallon, and holding a cat in Primary, I think she really had the perfect birthday weekend.

Happy Birthday Sweetie! I hope this is one you remember!