a girl and her “dada”

I never truly realized how little time fathers get to actually see their children every day. Most days, Michael leaves for work before Kaya is even awake, and she goes to bed only about 2-2.5 hours after he comes home at night. We definitely try to make the most of the time we all have together.Processed with VSCOcam with a7 presetI also never realized how much it’d warm my heart to see the love Michael shares with his daughters. I love hearing their laughter ringing through our home and how she runs to him when he first walks through the door. I love all the silly things he does just to get her giggling.

I love how bath time is “their thing” and how she snuggles into his arms at night. It warms my heart to see how much she looks forward to spending time with him every day._MG_4090

Michael had a seminary meeting a few nights ago, and he wasn’t here to tuck her in and snuggle her to sleep. When she realized she was going to bed without him, the tears came pouring down. She kept crying “Dada, Dadaaaa”, and my heart was breaking for her._MG_3255Since then, she’s been extra sensitive to her Daddy leaving, and she asks for him as soon as she wakes up.

I love their love.

five on friday: a bookworm, friends, and a confused dog

ONE. I’ve had a little bookworm on my hands this week! She carries these books all over the house, puts them into piles, and sits and “reads” them. I’m so glad she has such a love for books! I’m hoping to get her some French stories soon, too._MG_4020 _MG_4021 TWO. I am so blessed to have so many great friends! We’ve been talking about taking a picture all together for a while now, and this week, we finally did it. I’m so glad we did! Katherine and I started these play dates when Kaya and Mia were just tiny little things… and we’ve watched our group grow in numbers, grow as mothers, and even grow more pregnant bellies! _MG_4042 THREE. This baby. This BABY! Seriously. She gets more beautiful by the day. She’s also chatting us up like crazy lately and it is so easy to get a smile out of her._MG_4067 _MG_4068 Also, please notice all the drool! Call me crazy, but I keep feeling around her mouth for tooth buds- Kaya got her first tooth at barely three months old, so I’m on the lookout! She also hasn’t been sleeping very well and has been nursing a ton…_MG_4076 I know I already shared about five million pictures of her in this post alone, but I just couldn’t pass up showing you her gorgeous Sunday dress! :)_MG_3978 FOUR. I think we’re getting close to potty-training… and I’m honestly not sure I’m ready for all that it entails! Kaya sits on her toy makeup mirror and pretends it’s a potty (and apparently you have to pull your shirt up over your belly when you’re on the toilet?)! She’s showing some other pretty big signs of being ready, too… so we might just have to start trying soon._MG_4085 FIVE. My dog sleeps in a cat-like position. He also still sneaks crayons as a snack when we’re not looking. Weirdo._MG_4055Happy Friday!!!

joy in the journey

It was almost like a scene out of a sappy movie.

I sat in my car, alone, for the first time in who-knows-how long. The rain was coming down, the night was black, and There Goes My Life by Kenny Chesney was playing softly on the radio. I was getting all choked up, flipping through the photos of our family I had printed for Michael’s birthday gift.

There’s just something heart-striking about holding snapshots of your life in your hands. These babies are my life, and although imperfect at times, what a beautiful, wonderful life it truly is._MG_3848

Adjusting to caring for two little girls has honestly gone more smoothly than I expected, but of course, there are still plenty of crazy moments.

My two babies make the days go faster and the nights pass slower. Sometimes, I sleep more hours of the night cuddling my baby in our rocking chair, passed out while nursing, instead of in my bed.

Now, the mountain of laundry seems to grow exponentially by the minute. If I finally have all the laundry folded, it’s the dishes in the sink that are creeping yet a little taller.

Sometimes it seems like they take turns crying, and it rips my heart out when I have to choose who to comfort first when they’re both sobbing. If I’m being honest, so much crying all at once can even feel frustrating at times.

I’m learning that after feeding everyone else, mom eats last. It’s not unusual to nurse the baby and balance the toddler on my lap (while she steals all the cheese from my salad) just so I can get something in my belly.

By the end of the day, I’m usually wearing someone else’s barf, pee, and/or poop. That’s just how it goes.

And yet despite all the craziness, I recognize the beauty in it all._MG_3276_blur

I have a baby to snuggle virtually any time I’d like, and when my big girl hugs me and puts her head on my shoulder, I feel complete.

Kaelyn smiles, scrunching up her whole face, making my heart swell like a balloon. My exhaustion seems to fade.

She coos and takes me in, wide-eyed, as though I’m the most intriguing person in this whole big world. I know that one day I won’t be her everything, but she will certainly always be mine.Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

I feel extra-special when Kaya takes a break from monkeying around at the playground, just to come over and give me a kiss.

When I do wake up from falling asleep in my rocking chair in the middle of the night, I’m overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the sweet, sleeping angel in my arms. I cherish those late-night cuddles.

It’s in these little moments that I find joy in the journey. The love we share outweighs all the crazy.

There’s just something about these two sweet girls that makes my heart burn. I thought my heart was full after having Kaya, but after Kaelyn, it seems there was a whole other chamber of it, perfectly capable of loving, I didn’t even know existed.

Time moves all too quickly, and I know one day I’ll be helping my girls pack their things and watching them drive off, just like in the song. At the end of it all, I know I’m going to wish for more time. I already miss them when they go to bed at night.

My hands are full.

So is my heart.

And I wouldn’t trade these days for anything.Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 preset

Finding Joy in the Journey“, Thomas S. Monson

five on friday: pepper in my water and riding a giant bumblebee

My top five moments this week are simple but oh-so-sweet:

ONE. My baby has the best smile…_MG_3953 … and some of the funniest silly faces!PhotoGrid_1409366558504 TWO. Kaya has been playing with her kitchen every single day. I ask her for a drink, and she’ll get “water” from the faucet and then usually add salt or pepper. Yum… not quite the chocolate milk I was hoping for._MG_3944

THREE. How awesome is it when you think of texting your friend that you’re going to be at the park, and then she texts you first? Kaya and Mia had an impromptu play date and had the best time. Riding a bumblebee is sure to make anyone happy!IMG_20140904_111412FOUR. Kaya said her first French word yesterday, and I couldn’t have been more proud! She’s obsessed with this song and after asking to watch it a million times, said “un croc[odile]” and went to bed singing “crocrocro”. It all but melted my heart when I heard it.

FIVE. I told you Kaelyn loves her mobile… well, I used Google’s Auto-Awesome feature to make a little GIF. This is pure happiness right here!kaelyn09042014Happy Friday!!!

september 2014 goals

Well… all I have to say about how my goals went this month is… wow. I am actually a little embarrassed that I did so poorly. Kaelyn is keeping me busy enough and honestly, at the end of the day, I want to just rest instead of work on things.

August Goal Review:

1. Finish the quilt (for real this time). I seriously have three steps left before it’s done and I just can’t make myself do it…

2. Choose a layout for our photo gallery and get any additional picture frames.

3. Ab workouts three times per week. I had suspicions, and my midwife confirmed it- my abs are split (diastasis recti), so I need to do some healing exercises before I can do regular ab workouts. I’ve been doing them about three times a week since I found a good video to use.

4. Complete the August photo-a-day challenge. I missed a couple days, but stuck with it for the most part.

5. Take family pictures. I changed my mind and decided I wanted to do these in the fall, hopefully with the gorgeous, colorful leaves! It’ll also be better if we don’t all look as sleep-deprived as we have this past month.

september2014goalsI guess I’m going to be making a lot of the same goals until I actually accomplish something… maybe being more specific will help.

1. Do one step toward finishing the quilt per week. This should make it easy, right?

2. Decide on the gallery wall layout before the 15th of the month, and have pictures printed by the 30th.

3. Do ab-healing exercises at least three times per week. I should maybe even be doing these daily.

4. Complete the September photo-a-day challenge.

5. Take Kaya’s two-year photos.

6. Have a birthday party for Kaya and make her an awesome cake!

Here’s to a more productive month! :)

claytor lake

We spent part of our Labor Day weekend at Claytor Lake. Michael’s parents were camping there and invited us all to come swim, relax, and enjoy the sunshine.

_MG_3896The pictures from that day are great, but I don’t feel like they even begin to touch on how perfectly wonderful it all was._MG_3894Kaya had so much fun making a mess in the sand with her Grandpa. She was honestly still somewhat afraid of the water and waves after being pummeled by them at Myrtle Beach, but Grandpa helped her get past her fear and even had her sitting right at the water’s edge._MG_3900_MG_3903_MG_3901_MG_3906_MG_3907 The lake I went to nearly every day of summer during my childhood was so similar to this. It even had a dock, but it was generally where all the “big kids” would hang out. We swam out there and jumped a few times, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was finally one of the big kids, too. _MG_3908Of course, grandparents filled up on baby cuddles. 08302014collage1Kaya was so very tired from all her hard playing during what would have normally been naptime._MG_3914_MG_3919We ended the night with some of the best pizza (mozzarella, feta, and banana peppers mmmm) and a game of frisbee._MG_3928Kaya also jumped off the sidewalk a few times…_MG_3925… and probably thought it was the best day ever when we let her carry around the bag of M&Ms._MG_3933This really was the perfect way to bid summer farewell._MG_3931

kaelyn: 2 months

I’m almost a week late on this since I was waiting to get her growth statistics at her doctor appointment… but here it finally is!_MG_3886Height: 22.25 inches (43%)
9 pounds 11 ounces (19%)
Head circumference:
15 inches (30%)
Clothing size:
 Newborn onesies and pants are still fitting fine, although I’ve started putting her in 0-3 month clothing more now that we started using her cloth diapers and she has a big, puffy bum! She definitely still has plenty of room to grow in them, though. Newborn dresses are starting to get too short.
Eyecolor: Blue! They’re still looking pretty light so far.
Nursing: She nurses just about every two hours now. She’s apparently really good at eating, since she’s been growing so quickly!
Favorite things: Getting her diaper changed (she always smiles at me a TON), cooing, cuddling, eating, and staring at the little designs on the mobile above her bassinet.08272014collage1Dislikes: Tummy time (she either screams or just falls asleep!) and being in the car seat.
Sleep: She has finally started sleeping longer stretches at night! Starting around week 7, she started getting cranky earlier in the evenings, so we took it as a sign that she was tired and ready for bed. We started putting her to bed at 9, and now we’ve moved it back to around 8 pm. She’ll sleep about 6 hours or so before she needs to eat, and then will fall back to sleep again until anywhere between 4 and 6 am, after which she seems to stay awake. She usually passes out for a short (about 40-minute) nap around 9 am, and I can get her to nap in the afternoon if I snuggle with her.

To my surprise, she’s still sleeping in the bassinet. When Kaya was little, I was anxious to get her sleeping in the crib at a very early age (3 weeks), so I thought I’d be the same way with Kaelyn. Well, it turns out that it’s just easier to keep her in our room instead of interrupting Kaya’s sleep routine to put her in the crib in there. I know we need to make the switch soon, but I’m really not looking forward to it.
Nicknames: Peanut and Baba (which is how Kaya says “baby”… and it stuck)!
Milestones, etc.: -She has so much more head control now and really tries hard to hold it up herself! She can turn each way to follow our movements and loves to track us with her eyes. She even smiles at me from halfway across the room!

-She coos/”talks” sometimes. She has a soft, quiet little voice, and doesn’t seen as chatty as Kaya was at this age. She talks to me the most and I love it.

-She seems to reach toward things now, like the toys that hang about her seat or the mirror snail toy we play with on the floor.

-She’s started grabbing things (including hair… ouch)! She’s starting to discover her hands and has started sucking on them when she’s hungry or holding onto my clothes and pushing on me when she’s nursing.


Dear Kaelyn,

I love the little chubby cheeks you’re starting to get! You have grown so much and I’m so glad. You started out so tiny, but you’re wasting no time catching up. When you’re nursing, I love to stroke the tiny strands of hair on your head- I think it’s the fuzziest I’ve ever seen!_MG_3866

You give me the very best smiles. You’re always so happy to see me, and honestly, it just makes my day. I love being your safe place and I’m so grateful for our afternoon cuddles.Processed with VSCOcam with se2 presetI love you Kaelyn Grace. I’m so excited to see who you’ll become over the next few months, but don’t grow up too fast, okay?

Love, Mommy

happy 2nd birthday jax!

wpid-wp-1409531847957.jpegDear Jax,

Today is your second birthday! Of course, we don’t know your actual birthday, but this is the day the animal shelter chose to write on your records, and we’ve stuck with it.

You’re probably thinking it’s the best day of your life, since you enjoyed eating the fat trimmings off a piece of steak and licking the empty peanut butter jar. I’m not sure it gets much better than that when you’re a dog.

We brought you home 15 months ago now. Before we lost Maggie, I always had the thought that she’d pass away at a time that another animal would need us. I found you on Petfinder, and when we met you for the first time, I just knew you had a good heart. You’ve proven that time and time again, especially in your role as “big brother” to two crazy little girls._MG_3420

Jax, you’re the best dog our family could have ever hoped to find. You’ve had your share of struggles while adjusting to living with us, but all in all, you’re a good boy.

You live to run and always get excited when you see me putting on my shorts and lacing up my running shoes.

You’re the best cuddler. There were so many days in the beginning of my pregnancy where I was sick and exhausted, and having you curled up in the crook of my leg while I slept was just what I needed. When my back would ache, you would lay behind me in just the right place. How is it that dogs just seem to know?wpid-photogrid_1409535276157.jpg

We love your energy and sweet spirit. You’re wild at times (even running for an hour doesn’t wear you out), but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You’re a good dog. Happy birthday! :)

five on friday: headbands and #babyselfies

Friday, Friday… Here we go!

ONE. Kaya won’t let me put headbands on her for real, but wearing six headbands as a joke is perfectly acceptable according to her standard. Obviously. I love my silly girl.Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetTWO. Is there anything cuter than a clean baby in a bath towel? I’ll answer that for you: no, no there is not._MG_3868THREE. Kaya still prefers to sleep on her bedroom floor instead of in her own bed (this could be a whole other post itself), but she LOVES climbing up into ours and asking us to tuck her in at random times of the day. Usually, she’ll pat the pillow next to her to indicate that she wants you to cuddle with her. The baby was asleep yesterday morning, so when my big girl asked me to lay down and snuggle, I jumped at the chance to relax._MG_3849FOUR. This little Peanut had her two-month checkup this morning (which also means she got four shots… ouch)! Right now, she’s sleeping it off, and I just keep thinking about how happy I am that she gained another two pounds this month. That puts her 4 pounds and 1 ounce above her birth weight already!
Processed with VSCOcam with se2 presetFIVE. Michael shows memes to his seminary class every morning before they get started with the lesson. I thought I was being pretty funny by making these (and secretly hoped he’d show one in class… he did, even if he was just humoring me)!08292014collage1Happy Friday!!!

happy 27th birthday, michael!

Michael’s only request for his birthday was to have some new photos printed so he could take them to work and decorate his space. I made him some plain old 4x6s, but still wanted to give him a fun little surprise.

I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew I wanted to create my own version of it. It’s easy when you have such cute, photogenic girls! :) Michael absolutely loved it, of course.
deardaddycollageKaya insisted on Kitty having his own picture done, too. I’m not too good at translating stuffed-cat-ese, so his message is up for interpretation._MG_3780 We had a cookout with some friends and family. It rained on and off throughout the day, but luckily, it stopped long enough for us to enjoy some time outside._MG_3827 _MG_3829 _MG_3830I made cupcakes (of course)! These might be the messiest ones I’ve ever frosted… but they were definitely some of the most delectable I’ve ever made! They were dark chocolate with a homemade white chocolate cookies and creme frosting. Mmmm.
_MG_3834 _MG_3835 _MG_3836 Happy Birthday Daddy! Your girls sure do love you! :)_MG_3832