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. ūüôā_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.
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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”? ūüėČ ) 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. ūüôā

dear kaya (3.25 years)

Dear Kaya,
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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. ūüėČ

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? ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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.
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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

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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.

five on friday (1/08)

I think I just keep pretending we’re still on vacation… so I know I still haven’t posted any photos from our Christmas day yet (maybe because I took too many and still haven’t gone through them all… ha), but we had a good week, and I couldn’t let it go undocumented.

These small, seemingly-mundane posts usually turn out to be some of my favorites when I go back and read them later.

ONE. Winter has finally arrived on our little hillside- we had our first snow! It didn’t really accumulate, but it came down in big, fluffy flakes, so I’m counting it. The girls were quite excited… especially Kaelyn, since she is too young to remember the many blizzards we had last year!

TWO. What better food to eat during the cold weather than warm, gooey pancakes? Kaya and Kaelyn have had pancakes for breakfast every single day this week. My mom gave me a griddle for Christmas, so I put it to good use by making a double batch of these and freezing them._MG_0687

THREE. We also tried a couple of new recipes this week, including these buffalo chicken wings and these cheesy potatoes. Both were keepers!FOUR. We did get back on track with our homeschool preschool this week, after taking a couple weeks off for the holidays. Kaya has been SO excited and asks me to “do school” almost as soon as she wakes up every morning. We did the letter “D” and so of course, we had to make a “dog” craft.

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FIVE. We had some fun times with Karl (and Kaitlyn) this week! Mario Kart Wii and Apples to Apples Pictures will never get old. I also love that Karl loves my guinea pigs as much as I do!_MG_0684Happy weekend! Keep warm (like Freyja)! ūüôā_MG_0708

kaelyn: 18 months

_MG_0662Height: 32.5 inches (75%)
Weight:
18 pounds 13 ounces (0.5%)
Head Circumference:
18 inches (27%)
Clothing size:
All 18-month things and some 24-month jammies. I did realize that the pair of jeans she’s been wearing for a while now is 9-12 month size, and they still fit her perfectly (her diaper does help hold them up, though). Size 4 shoes.
Eyecolor: Blue.
Teeth: Ten.
Eating: She has a new favorite food… PANCAKES! She will shovel them down like it’s her job (and really, it pretty much is). She also LOVES Chinese food, Greek yogurt, muffins, salad, and homemade chicken nuggets._MG_0688

She’s still nursing three times a day, but we did give her her first cup of whole milk a few days ago. She seems to think it’s okay and doesn’t make a face when she sips it… but I do have a feeling that most of that half-gallon of milk is going to go to waste.

We did see her regular doctor this month, and she is happy with her growth. She gained a pound and grew 2.5 inches! Tall and tiny. We’re still being really diligent about making sure she’s eating enough and not just throwing it all on the floor…
New words:
I feel like we haven’t heard any new words this month… but she has now customized our names to “Mum-mum” and “Daaah-eeee!, always said very enthusiastically. She also told me that a duck says quack this morning!
Favorite things:
Blue Kitty and Piggy (her stuffed animals), her baby doll, playing kitchen, driving toy cars, reading books, and laughing at me in the morning when she’s nursing.
Dislikes:
Diaper changes, getting her face wiped, being told no, sharing, and the car seat.
Sleep:
She’ll nap for about 3 hours in the afternoon, usually starting around 1:30 pm. She sleeps from about 8:30 pm until 7 or 7:30 am. I’ve long forgotten what it was like to wake up with her in the middle of the night, several times a night, for most of her first year…¬†Uninterrupted sleep is a blessing!

She still falls asleep on me when she nurses, probably about 90% of the time. Kaya stopped doing it at an earlier age than this, so I still love it.
Nicknames:
Baba, Baba Grace, and Kaya calls her “Kaden”. Haha.
Milestones, etc.:
-Because I’m writing this a week and a half late, she already had her first day in nursery at church! She has been a bit more attached to me lately, so I was worried about how she’d do when I’d just completely leave¬†her. Well… she stayed for the whole two hours, and only cried a little (apparently mostly when clean-up time happened and all the toys were put away). I can’t believe she’s old enough for this already, but I’m so proud of her for being so independent.

-Random, but she is obsessed with putting things in the hamper. Don’t leave any article of clothing hanging out, because she will clean up behind you. I even found her boots in there yesterday.

-She is really getting great at pretend play: eating, giving her baby a bath in the sink, and tucking her in with a pillow and a blanket._MG_0689

-She is SUCH a little helper now! She likes to help me put the wet clothes into the dryer, unload the dishwasher, take things out of grocery bags and hand them to me, and she even tries to push her own high chair to the table at mealtime.

-She makes jokes/does silly things to make us laugh. She’ll hide behind the wall and pop out over and over to get us to giggle, or hide under a blanket and wait until we say “where’s Baba?”

-She’s at that age where she’s becoming hard to photograph… why look at the camera and smile when there are a million other more interesting things to be doing? I totally bribed her with Smarties (candy) for her monthly photo in the chair, because otherwise, this is what I get…_MG_0676

-She’s really good at identifying parts of her body (nose, eyes, ears, mouth, hair).

-She can get her boots on and off on her own, and has successfully removed her diaper herself before, too. She’s tried to get out of her jammies but always seems to end up with her arm stuck in the neck opening!

-She loves to bring us things that belong to us, and always says¬†“thankssss” as she hands it to us. I don’t know if she’s instructing¬†us to be polite and¬†thank her, or what… haha.

-She definitely has her own opinion about things, and makes this awful squawking noise when she doesn’t like something. We have started very short time-outs in her room for these mini tantrums.

-Anytime I put makeup on, she stands next to me and begs for something to hold/play with from my bag. Turns out, she’s pretty good at losing chapstick… so I saved her an old tube of mascara to put in her purse. She’s happy as can be.

-She can go up the stairs on the playground on her own. She’s definitely interested in climbing, but hasn’t done anything extreme yet (Kaya was climbing out of the crib at this age… I almost can’t believe that)!_MG_0428

Dear Kaelyn,

You are so sweet. So very tender-hearted. I love the way you take care of your stuffed animals and baby doll. You are so gentle and loving, like the perfect little mommy. I hope that you’ll be a big sister one day, because¬†I just know how perfectly kind and loving you would be toward a little baby brother or sister.

I love how you need a kiss from mommy anytime you get the tiniest booboo, or even just tumble¬†onto the floor. That kiss makes everything instantly better, and your crying stops. You are still a mama’s girl for sure._MG_0700I¬†can’t believe we are already more than halfway through your second year. It’ll be summer and your 2nd birthday party before we know it! I love you, Kaelyn.

Love, Mommy

pre-christmas christmas

The weekend before Christmas, we headed out to visit my parents for an early holiday celebration. I’m actually glad I’m a bit late writing all of my Christmas-themed posts- why not relive the magic for just a little longer?

And yes, I really put one million pictures all in one post. (Or, you know, 27.) There are just too many good moments to leave out!

We arrived at their home early in the evening on Friday night, enjoyed spaghetti dinner (with my mom’s homemade meat sauce… now, that stuff is magic), and then played by the tree until my dad got off of work around 9 pm.

Kaya, Kaelyn, and Grandma Debbie had an indoor “snowball fight” with these plush white balls. Don’t be fooled by Kaya’s placid expression… it actually got pretty wild!_MG_0351

Everyone was excited to see that the stockings were already filled and just waiting to be opened!_MG_0361

_MG_0366I don’t remember if she was dancing or yelling “CHEESE!” at me here…_MG_0363_MG_0358

Kaelyn was SO into opening everything this year. She was ready to get started as soon as my mom brought all the gifts downstairs! I think she spent just as much time putting everything back in her stocking as she did taking it out._MG_0370

Kaya has really been loving penguins lately (just like Auntie Lelia)!
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Both girls received magic (glowing) snowballs… so yes, there were more snowball fights after this._MG_0375

Kaya’s big gift from my parents was a set of Calico Critters and their little cottage. She was the happiest little girl ever and loves her “bunny house”, as she calls it._MG_0380

So much excitement in one little girl!_MG_0401Kaelyn got some toddler-safe cars (since she always tries to eat Kaya’s small plastic ones) and couldn’t have been more content._MG_0386

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Matching snowman jammies! I love having two little girls._MG_0385

New polos for Daddy…
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And a new Hallmark singing snowman for our collection. I think this is my favorite one yet, since it sings “Deck the halls with lots of cookies”. Really, I can’t think of anything more appropriate for myself._MG_0402

My mom’s friend, Susan, gave the girls giraffe and elephant plushes, along with some books. Both my girls love all their animal pals so much._MG_0405

My mom got some new flats…_MG_0407

… and a “Grandma necklace” with both girls’ names on the pendants._MG_0411

And finally, we surprised my Dad with a Wii! I was waiting to give him this for several months, and it was so fun to finally see his reaction. He guessed that we were giving him some kind of tool because the box felt so heavy. I think he was definitely surprised! _MG_0417

Plus one of his favorite games, Animal Crossing._MG_0418

We went to bed soooo late that night, and we were up early the next morning. Kaya was very¬†excited to make gingerbread cookies (for the second time this season) at Grandma’s house!_MG_0423

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This is probably one of my favorite pictures ever._MG_0429

Kaya is the most serious decorator of us all. Other than decorating cookies and playing the Wii, we took it easy for most of the day._MG_0431

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My mom made a fancy pot roast dinner (and even lit a candle… so extravagant)!¬†_MG_0438We completely enjoyed ourselves and tried to go to bed early so that we could pack up and leave by 7:30 on Sunday morning in order to get to church.

This trip was the perfect start to our Christmas week! ūüôā