five on friday (12/30)

ONE. I can’t believe Christmas has already come and gone! In a way, I’m sad it’s all over, but in another, I’m ready to feel a little less busy. I still have a bunch of holiday-related activities to write about!

We did get to visit a live nativity put on by a local church. I love participating in things that reinforce the true meaning of Christmas, and our girls loved seeing “Bethlehem” and baby Jesus. I don’t have any pictures because it was pitch black outside.

Afterward, the same church had a little area where you could visit Santa and enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies. Michael thought it was pretty funny to fog up his glasses with his cocoa.

They took a picture for us, although sadly it didn’t turn out so great. Kaya wanted nothing to do with Santa, even though she knows he’s just “pretend” and this is all for fun.TWO. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay awake during tummy time. This has happened three times now! I am infatuated with her lips and cheeks.
THREE. Nella started using her cloth diapers last week! As long as we use two inserts, she’s been mostly leak-free, and I’ve been happy not to have a trash can full of disposables. Plus, how cute are those little leg rolls? FOUR. My girls have rediscovered their love for their toy drum. We’ve had a lot of “parades” in our house lately, and although it’s pretty noisy, I love watching them have so much fun.FIVE. This post has been dominated by sweet baby cheeks… But come on, I can’t resist sharing this little girl’s big grin. I am obsessed with everything about this little princess.

pre-christmas visitors

The weekend before Christmas was one full of visitors! I absolutely love it when our friends and family take the time to drive up here and spend some time with us. We’ve seen so many people move out of our town, so I always end up feeling a bit nostalgic for the “good old days” when we get to visit with everyone again.

Ben and Brittany came to Virginia all the way from Texas to visit their family for Christmas, and spent a day and a half of their trip with us. It was fun to see how much their kids have grown in just 5 months. Kaya and Caroline were instant buddies! They played together all day.Brittany got to meet the baby! Nella was pretty comfortable and took a long nap in her arms.
Brittany and I had a girls’ getaway date to the craft store and Sweet Frog. It seems like Michael always takes the kids out for frozen yogurt when I’m not able to be there, so of course, we had to take a picture to send to him and make him a little jealous.It was a crazy-windy day, and eventually, the powerful gusts caused our power to go out. Ben and Brittany were going out for Brazilian food, so we decided to join them. I’d never tried any before, but I ended up really liking it! Who knew beans and rice could be so flavorful?
Kaya was pretty obsessed with Alice. I think she was amazed that a baby could play and move so much (compared to Nella, who’s still working on learning those things)!After Ben and Brittany went home, we got to hang out with Jeff and Lelia (and Fallon)! This was their first time meeting their newest little niece!
Lelia and I got in a good run together on Saturday morning, which is always my favorite part of her coming to visit. I completed my longest postpartum distance thus far- 6.4 miles, so despite the rain and slick trail, I was happy with my progress.
They couldn’t stay long, so they headed out in the early afternoon. I’m grateful for any time I can get with so many of my favorite people!

gingerbread house 2016

Making a gingerbread house at Christmastime has become a much-anticipated tradition in our family. It’s not something I ever did growing up, so it’s been extra fun to do this new activity with my kids.

This year, we used one of the Wilton kits. I am interested in doing one from scratch eventually, but with all the cookies I already make each holiday season, it just seems so much easier to build one this way.

Daddy helped the girls put the walls together one evening, and then we let it dry overnight.
Kaya and Kaelyn wanted to get to work as soon as they woke up in the morning. They also loved pretending to eat it! They’re still a little young to use a piping bag, so I put the frosting on the way they wanted it and they applied the candies.
Suddenly, some of the eating was no longer just pretend… They somehow managed to restrain themselves from eating all the decorations, and we ended up with a pretty cute little house!I love how their project turned out.Kaya really wanted to make a flower design on one side, just like the example on the box!Where there’s candy, there’s bound to be craziness!

christmas parade 2016

While Michael was still in Vegas, our town put on its annual Christmas parade! My in-laws were still visiting, so they were able to come along (but, of course, we definitely still missed Michael)!_mg_6910

It was absolutely freezing, so the girls were bundled into as many layers as possible, and tucked into the stroller with their big blankets. The cold hardly seemed to bother them because they were both so excited about watching the parade!

_mg_6912 Nella was in her snowsuit, in the Moby wrap, inside my puffiest winter coat. I couldn’t feel my toes by the end of the night, but Nella stayed cozy, and that was all I cared about anyway._mg_6919 It felt like an eternity before the parade started, but it was worth the wait!
20161202_193619 Some of our favorite displays included: this somewhat-creepy Santa…_mg_6925 _mg_6926 _mg_6927tractors…_mg_6928Minnie Mouse…
_mg_6930 a whole lineup of Mini Coopers…_mg_6938 Olaf!_mg_6941 and, of course, the “real” Santa at the very end!_mg_6944Kaya and Kaelyn also loved the big group of puppies that walked by, as well as the horses who came long after we thought the parade had already finished (hence not having a photo)! I really do look forward to this event each year, and I’m so happy I get to share it with my little girls.

3 days to go!

what happens in vegas

A few weeks ago, Michael had the opportunity to attend the Amazon Web Services conference in Las Vegas! He was gone for a whole week, and we definitely missed him (getting all three girls washed up for bed without him was the hardest part of the day!), but this is basically where all his nerd dreams came true.img_20161129_083215

Luckily, he sent us a lot of photos, so we were able to see what he was up to and how attractive the city can be.

img_20161128_160310He stayed at a cool hotel called the “Flamingo” (and yes, they did have live flamingoes there)!img_20161128_182111

He did a ton of walking (about 85,000 steps in 5 days) and took several panoramic shots. This was taken inside his conference building, The Venetian!pano_20161130_072958He even met a ninja…img_20161129_084656 …and had an 80’s-themed dance party one night (what you can’t see in this photo are his neon orange leg warmers!)img_20161130_203009 One of the highlights of his trip was visiting the Las Vegas LDS temple! I love the palm trees.img_20161202_151211Back home, we spent about half the week on our own before Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip came up for a few days.

_mg_6890 _mg_6892This was the first time Nella met her Grandpa!_mg_6901Where there are grandparents, there’s bound to be Chinese food. 😉 We all enjoyed a dinner out on Thursday night.img_20161201_182601img_20161201_182621 Kaelyn probably ate her weight in jello…img_20161201_185612These girls loved snuggling their Grandpa as soon as he woke up.
20161203_090337 They also had one of the giggliest games of hide-and-seek._mg_6907 Kaelyn was pretty good at hiding for only a few minutes at a time before giving away her location…_mg_6904On Saturday, we went to Lowe’s for their free kids’ workshop. Kaya and Kaelyn were both so excited to make Christmas ornaments!
20161203_102655This was only Kaelyn’s second-ever workshop, but she did a pretty decent job with the hammering.20161203_102706

20161203_102835020161203_103344We had so much fun (and I was thankful for the extra hands and just the fact that I wasn’t alone all week), but we were definitely excited to see our Daddy when he came home late on  Saturday night!

thanksgiving 2016

This was the first year ever that we didn’t travel for Thanksgiving. We felt like taking a long trip in the car would be pretty difficult with such a young baby, so we’d planned to enjoy the holiday at home. We had a restful day, but honestly, I did end up missing seeing all our relatives (and the hilarity that ensues when a whole lot of family gets together)! It just felt a little too quiet to be Thanksgiving!

In the morning, Michael went to play football with some guys from church, so we girls whipped up some pumpkin bread for breakfast and watched the Macy’s parade. I loved watching it as a child, and it was so much fun to see my girls enjoying it just as much as I always did. Kaya was completely obsessed with the Hello Kitty balloon, and Kaelyn cried when her favorite puppy balloon walked off screen. They both got excited when they saw Spongebob, since he’s Grandpa Skip’s favorite, and insisted that I take a picture and send it to him.

While the food cooked, we spent the afternoon making bead animals. They invited me to join in, and they were thrilled when I helped each of them create their own animal.img_20161124_140914Nella hung out with Daddy for a while…_mg_6815_mg_6816I had never cooked the traditional Thanksgiving meal before, so in the weeks leading up to the big day, I collected advice and counsel from anyone willing to talk to me about making a decent turkey. I ended up dry-brining the bird with salt and some of my favorite spices about three days ahead of time. Immediately before I put it in the oven, I shoved some lemon slices and a few chopped cloves of garlic into the body cavity, placed a few slices of butter under the skin, and brushed some melted butter over top of it._mg_6813

The meat turned out so tender and flavorful, and it made a ton of gravy. Mmmm._mg_6819

Michael carved it for us._mg_6820We had garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and biscuits along with our turkey._mg_6826Our table wasn’t set all fancy, and I pretty much had to bribe my kids to eat anything other than broccoli and rolls… but it was a delicious dinner with the people I love most.
_mg_6835I’ve got a couple of broccoli monsters over here. I can’t believe my kids beg for vegetables, but I’m not complaining!
_mg_6829_mg_6832For dessert, we had the traditional choco-mint freeze (made even easier this year because Kroger had peppermint ice cream)!_mg_6836Dessert makes everyone happy._mg_6838_mg_6839And apparently, a little crazy._mg_6840_mg_6841

nella: 2 months

I’m late on this because her doctor appointment wasn’t until the end of last week, and of course, I needed her statistics and percentiles! 🙂nella_2months

Height: 22.25 inches (39%)
Weight: 10 pounds 5 ounces (31%)
Head circumference: 15 inches

Clothing size: I packed up the newborn clothes, and she’s in all 0-3 month things now. She’s definitely got some extra length to grow in the pants, but her onesies are a perfect fit. I just can’t believe that we are already done with those itty bitty newborn things! She’s still in size one disposable diapers, mostly because I still have a ton of them and she is the queen of blowouts, so I’m not sure we’re ready for cloth yet.

Eye color: They keep looking more like a deep, bright blue, which really surprises me since they started out so very dark.

Nursing: Just about every 2.5-3 hours during the day!

Sleep: This girl is our rockstar sleeper. She goes down for bed around 8 pm (although she usually gets cranky around 6 or 6:30 pm and would probably willingly go to bed right then and there if we weren’t in the middle of dinnertime). She sleeps for about 8 hours or so, nurses, and goes back to bed for a few more hours. By 7:30 am, she’s awake for the day along with the rest of the gang. She still just catnaps throughout the morning, and by afternoon, she always wants to be snuggled while she rests._mg_6803

Favorite things: She’s always happy when she’s getting a new diaper on! She’s so calm in her nice, warm bath and would happily stay in there for much longer than it takes to wash her. She really loves hearing her mommy’s voice and cuddling with anyone who will hold her. In the past couple weeks, she’s really started liking her pacifier, and it’s come in handy for calming her down quickly if I can’t sit down and nurse her that very second._mg_6976

Dislikes: Having hiccups, getting her vaccines, and being buckled into the car seat.

Nicknames: Baby Sunshine, Nella Sunshine, Nell, Nell-Nell, Angelpie, Cheeks (Daddy’s favorite), and “Baby Nella Sunshine Sprinkle Pop” according to Kaya.

Milestones, etc.: -She smiles and coos now! It’s seriously the cutest thing. I love how she tries to talk to us._mg_6971

-In general, I’d say she’s a very quiet baby. Her cry isn’t loud at all (she just fusses), and she doesn’t really “talk” all that much. Her hearing test came back normal, so I guess she’s just a calm, quiet kid.

-She tracks movement and can turn her head to look at us if we’ve moved across the room.

-She’s started kicking her legs when she’s lying down and gets excited about something.

-She had some pretty terrible baby acne for about a week, but it cleared up quickly and her skin is back to being smooth.

-Anytime Daddy sees her, he immediately says “Look at those chubby cheeks!” We’re pretty impressed that she’s already gained 4 pounds since birth.img_20161201_080605

-Her hair looks like it’s getting lighter, and she hasn’t lost any of it yet! People always comment on how much hair she has and ask if her sisters had as much- nope! She is winning for most luscious locks thus far! I love to spike it into a mohawk, and it stays that way all day long on its own, so I’m still thinking she might end up with curly hair._mg_6865

Dear Nella,

You are my little buddy. You love to snuggle, and I feel like the time I get to hold you is never enough. When you wake up to eat in the morning after sleeping for several consecutive hours, I scoop your warm little body into my arms and hold you close to me, breathing in your sweet scent. I miss you when you’re asleep._mg_6747

You are such a calm, happy baby. Everyone absolutely loves you, and you frequently get passed around at church. I love seeing other people enjoy being with you so very much. Your biggest fans are still your older sisters. They help keep you happy and constantly show you affection._mg_6955Your smile can turn any moment into a joyful one. I love you so much, Nella Joy, and I can’t wait to celebrate your first Christmas in just a couple of weeks.

Love, Mommy
nella_month2

five on friday (12/09)

ONE. We are counting down the days until Christmas (16, if you’re wondering)! I don’t think there have ever been two little girls more excited for the big day than these two are, and it’s been really fun to see their anticipation and joy grow so much this year. If you even mention the word “Christmas”, Kaelyn is more than ready to tell you all about how she wants a (stuffed) “puppy mommy [with] babies”. I’m really looking forward to these next few weeks filled with festivities and family._mg_6886

TWO. We’ve been working really hard on our phonics and letter-writing this week. Kaya is suddenly obsessed with copying words, so she’s been diligently practicing that as well as flipping through her alphabet flashcards and announcing all their sounds._mg_6990Her writing definitely isn’t in a straight line, but it is legible! This reads: “I love you Grandma P”. (She added a P at the end because she asked me how to spell “grandpa” afterward, and I told her it was the same as “grandma”, just change the “m” to a “p”. Haha.)
img_20161202_104244For Kaelyn, school sometimes turns into seeing how many markers she can stack without having them topple over.
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THREE. We did it! We started potty training last week, and this little girl was almost instantly a pro. I’m so proud of Kaelyn, and grateful that this endeavor wasn’t nearly as messy as I was expecting (which is mostly why I kept putting it off)! She loves wearing undies like a big girl now (although she only wants to wear pairs that are blue or have puppies on them, which are in short supply at our house, so we might have to go shopping, haha).

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FOUR. Sweet Nella has been smiling so much these past two weeks! I am so obsessed with these cheeks and that mohawk and her little dimples.12072016collage1

FIVE. If that wasn’t enough cuteness for you, Google automatically created an animated GIF just to make everyone’s hearts melt a little more. 🙂

img_20161207_203423-animation

Happy Friday!!!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

a change in seasons

The weather is changing yet again, and we’re transitioning from a cool, crisp fall to a dark, frigid winter.

I watch the seasons go by like some time-warped illusion, each one seeming to pass even more quickly than the last. As I see the world turning and the days flying by, the abrupt end of the seasons reminds me how very fleeting time is.

This whole period of life we’re in is nothing but a season, and before anything changes, I already know how much I’ll miss these most tender moments with my young family.
_mg_6579 These days are marked by soft little voices, afternoon naps, chubby baby cheeks and sweet snuggles._mg_6609By the absolute silliest, most hilarious Daddy three little girls could ever hope for.
_mg_6597These are the days when the simplest things bring my children so much joy: jumping in a big pile of leaves, wearing their hair in pigtails, and bringing their best stuffed animal friends  with them everywhere they go._mg_6599There are giggles and all-around goofiness. They run to the door joyfully shouting our names when we come home, and mommy’s kisses are still magic for stopping booboos from hurting._mg_6594In the more challenging moments, I remind myself that I won’t be handling tantrums, potty-training, or seemingly endless mess-making forever, because after this season, those too will pass. In an instant, my daughters’ sweetness and love make up for the more difficult days of parenting little people._mg_6584This is a season I’m so glad to be in.
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