nella: 10 months

Double digits! I can’t believe we’re so close to her birthday. Seeing how fast this year went almost makes me want to cry. How did my squishy little baby get so big?

Clothing size: All 9-12 month things! I am still squeezing her into 6-9 month jammies though, since I don’t have many in her size and haven’t been able to find a good sale on some new ones.
Eye color: Blue blue blue.

Hair: Suddenly it seems like she’s had a ton of hair grow in, and it’s making her look more like a kid than a baby.

Teeth: On the day she turned 10 months, she still had just two, but her top right tooth was visible under the gum. Since I’m 11 days late on this post, that tooth has now (just barely) popped through! I can see the top left ready to come in as well. Any day now!

Eating: I have never had a kid so ready to eat solid food. I gave her a little shredded chicken one night, and there was no going back- this girl loves finger foods, so we’ve dropped the baby food altogether and are basically doing baby-led weaning. She’s tried so many things, including Greek yogurt, shredded chicken, cheerios, cucumbers, shredded cheese, chicken and dumplings, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Goldfish crackers, vegetarian chili, chicken nuggets, french fries, spaghetti, and the tiniest bit of Chinese rice when we went out. She’s so willing to try almost anything, and I love it. Cheerios were her first real finger food, and she loved them until we let her try Goldfish. Now they just don’t seem as appealing, I guess. I even got her her own snack container, because if she sees her sisters eating crackers, she screams for some.

She’s still nursing every 2.5-3 hours, too.

Sleep: Bedtime is around 7:30 or 8 pm, and then she nurses around 6 am, and falls back asleep until 7:30 or 8 am. I don’t let her nap in the morning because I want all the girls to rest in the afternoon, so she has a little bit of a hard time staying awake, but she easily goes down for nap around 1 pm. She is silent for about 3 solid hours, which feels like such a long time without her.

Words: She says, “Ma-ma-ma” all the time when she wants her mommy! I’m counting it as her first word!

Favorite things: Her family (her sisters especially, since they’re so good at making her laugh), puppies (Scout or any stuffed animal), water and splashing in the bathtub, going “upside down” while we’re holding her, and dancing. She plays peekaboo with anything she can hide behind (even the Kroger sale flyer when she’s in the cart at the grocery store)!

Dislikes: She’s now the queen of finding any little piece of fuzz on the floor and trying to eat it, and she gets pretty upset when I have to fish it out of those cheeks of hers. Other than that, she’s still super easygoing.

Nicknames: Nellbells, Baby Sunshine, Nella Sunshine, Nell, Nell-Nell, Nells, Angel, Cheeks, Newwie (by Kaelyn), and “Baby Nella Sunshine Sprinkle Pop” and “Pushy Cheeks” (by Kaya).

Milestones, etc.: -She’s still not crawling! I know she has the muscle power to do it, and she’ll get on her hands and one knee, ready to go… it’s just that her other knee is usually folded under her, and she can’t figure out how to move it over yet!

-She LOVES seeing other babies (or herself in the mirror)! Instant smiles 🙂

-She’s so friendly and smiles at pretty much anyone. She also makes this crazy face when she’s so excited and happy:

-She’s still the ultimate thumb-sucker… and as soon as you ask her, “Do you want some milk?”, her thumb flies into her mouth.

-She claps and waves at people, but only when she feels like it. She also gives kisses, but sparingly now, so they’re a very special gift.

-She loves to “dance” by throwing her whole body into some odd vertical motion. It’s really pretty cute, but if you didn’t know she was dancing, you might be confused by it.

-She’s started to jump a little in her exersaucer, but other than that, she’s still not thrilled about standing. What’s the point when mommy carries you all over the place?

Dear Nella,

Sweet girl, how are you so big already? You have so much energy and zest for every single day, and I truly admire that about you. You are also one of the most patient babies I’ve ever seen, which I appreciate so much these days.You still love to snuggle, and you get the most excited whenever you see me. I love when your Daddy brings you to me in the morning and you have the biggest grin on your face.

You are silly and fun. It’s so easy to make you laugh these days, and I love it.

Love, Mommy

cousins, horses, and puppies, oh my!

On our way home from our long weekend of celebrating my mom’s birthday and meeting our newest nephew, we made plans to stop and visit with Michael’s cousin, Nicole! She’s been inviting us to come up to their place ever since they moved back to Virginia, so I was glad to finally make it happen!

They live out in the country, and her husband Brian works with the horses there. We arrived in the early evening, just around golden hour.  Between the animals, the middle-of-nowhere feel, and the sunset, this was basically a little slice of heaven for me. (Can you find Scout?)They had several horses, and I was so excited to meet them. This one, named Dublin, was my favorite! Such a sweetie. Kaelyn was the most smitten with the horses. She could not stop stroking their noses and talking to them. I loved seeing her fascination and joy. There’s just something about a horse barn… ok, everything about a horse barn… that makes me feel so much peace, calm, and happiness: the smell of hay and sweaty horses, the soft sounds they make as they move in their stalls, and the sweetness of a horse pressing his giant head up against your side, waiting for you to rub his nose or scratch his ears. Horses have a profound effect on me that nothing else seems to, which is why I often miss my days of working at the barn and riding so very much.Nicole also has a few chickens (and the coolest chicken coop I’ve seen), so the girls loved watching them, too. Kaelyn even helped find an egg! I promise, she was much more excited than she looks here.They also had a litter of hunting dog puppies for us to visit with. The girls were so excited (and these babies looked so little compared to Scout)!Brian grilled up some chicken and corn on the cob, and we enjoyed dinner outside together. Nicole brought out ice cream for dessert (a Teerlink family tradition for Sunday nights!), and I believe this was Kaya’s first time ever having it in a cone. It was a hit! Kaelyn’s first cone! Michael, with his ice-cream-sandwich-shoved-into-a-cone-topped-with-an-extra-scoop dessert, covering up his eye to be funny, because for the first time since I met him almost nine years ago, he had an allergic reaction to something! His eye was completely swollen and red. He was fine, but it was a little concerning to me just because he’d never had anything like this before.Being silly (with that swollen eye)!It was sad to leave, but we still had a few hours of driving left to get home. There’s nothing like having fun with your cousins (and second cousins)!

meeting baby bryce

About a month ago, we visited Jeff and Lelia, which meant that we got to meet baby Bryce for the very first time! I’d been looking forward to it so much that I was counting down the weeks until this very day. My girls were equally excited to see their newest cousin! It brought me so much joy to see Lelia as a mommy. Bryce is one lucky little guy! I love that we could take a picture of us together, each with a baby in our arms. Kaelyn just couldn’t believe it when we asked her if she wanted to hold two babies! This right here was pretty much heaven for her. She seemed to be extra connected to Bryce, too. He just had a sense of calmness around her.

Two days later, we were able to attend his baby blessing!
So many family members were there, but I didn’t get a photo of the entire group. Here’s our four-generation shot, though!
We were so glad to see Grandpa Teerlink! Grandma loves Nella… …and Grandpa loves being completely silly! After the blessing and pictures, we enjoyed some refreshments (Lelia’s Andes mint cookies… mmmm)! I also got to hold Bryce one more time, and he took a little nap on me. I already miss when Nella would curl up on me like this. Why are these newborn days so fleeting? It’s safe to say, I’m smitten with my little nephew. I’m so glad we were able to be at his blessing and enjoy some time with family.

grandma debbie’s 60th birthday

My mom’s 60th birthday was in July, so we took a long weekend and headed to my parents’ home for some quality family fun. It’s been a long time since we’ve had then entire family (both of my aunts, Karl, and me) all together, so this was something really special.

Kaya kicked off the weekend by coloring with Grandma! That’s something I remember her doing with me when I was little, so it’s fun to see it continuing on with the next generation.Of course, there were Dunkin’ Donuts, courtesy of Karl! I think these will always be my favorites, despite the amazing local donut shop we have here in town.We also got to meet my parents’ new puppy (I know, he doesn’t look like much of a puppy, right?) for the first time! His name is Buddy, and he’s part pit bull, just like Scout! The only difference is that he is stronger than an ox (I’m not even exaggerating here)! Scout didn’t like being pummeled by his overzealous attempt to play with her, so they didn’t really get to be friends.
But yeah… I pretty much fell head over paws for this puppy. How could you resist those eyes? I think my Dad is pretty smitten with him, too.We had some naps on Daddy… (and a change of clothes for Kaelyn, after she tripped and landed in Buddy’s water bowl!)……and then the whole crew went to an early dinner at Cracker Barrel, which is one of my Mom and Dad’s favorite places.Clockwise: Auntie Joyce and her friend, Melissa; Karl and Kaitlyn; hopefully you know who those people are; and Auntie Carol and Alan!
Princess Nella sat in her throne with her foot upon the table for the entire meal. She also cast a spell on everyone with that sweet little smile of hers.We all headed back to the house for some cake and gifts! My dad had an Oreo cookies and creme cake for his birthday party, and everyone loved it, so of course, we had to repeat it!
It’s not a birthday party with my family unless there’s a big pile of gifts!I found this little decorative watering can at Goodwill and just knew my mom would love it!It turned out that my dad hadn’t finished his gift shopping for my mom, so the day before the party, he took me out with him to get some ideas. We went to five different places without having much luck.

However, we did find a very heavy lawn decoration in the shape of a chicken, and we kept joking around that the “concrete chicken” was our fallback gift. Seriously, I think that thing weighs more than Kaelyn.

My dad actually ended up going back and getting it, and as it turns out, my mom loves her Concrete Chicken. I think I like the joke about the gift even more than the gift itself.I also helped him choose a new bird feeder for her, shaped like a butterfly!
But Karl and Kaitlyn’s gift had to be the best of all…

An iPhone! My mom had been managing with a smartphone that had almost no space to install anything or even be used properly… so now she can actually talk to us and see all the pictures we send. She was so surprised! As you can see in the video, I persuaded Karl to wrap it in a box, and then put that box in another box, wrap it, and so on. It was so much fun.They even made a case for her that had all the kids’ pictures on the back!And, of course, there was a whole lot of baby cuddling on this trip. Auntie Joyce always loves my babies.Apparently, Nella loves pinching her Great-Auntie Joyce’s cheeks. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?I was so happy to see these two… it’s been way too long!Grandpa Peter was obviously smitten with “Pumpkin” (as he calls her)!
My mom said this truly was the best birthday ever. I’m so glad we got to celebrate it all together!

five favorites (07/31)

I might be a couple days late, but I had to find some way to get my “five” from last week in!

ONE. We’ve been spending a lot of time out in the hammock. How could we resist, with these nearly chilly mornings and evenings? We’ve been doing school out there after breakfast, and cuddling up after dinnertime. Nella loves hiding out in there… …and sometimes has a little too much fun! I love how everything is so exciting to her.

TWO. Falling temperatures won’t stop these kids from playing with the water table (and getting completely soaked)! Kaya is suddenly starting to seem a little tall for it, but that’s not stopping her from making up stories about rubber duck families and “baking” pretend bread (made from water, obviously)!Kaelyn has a lot of fun splashing!

THREE. Speaking of homemade bread, I tried another new recipe (after months of not making any), and can finally say that I think I’ve found the one. It’s 100% whole wheat, super easy, and only has one rise. Does it get any better than that? Plus, the loaves are basically gorgeous. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it, too!

FOUR. I’ve been waiting to get these early-reader BOB books from the library, and finally, it’s our turn! Kaya has been so excited to read whole books all on her own. As soon as we arrived home from the library, she sat right down and started reading to Kaelyn.

FIVE. Scout’s had a little bit of a rough week, due to an unexpected vet visit. We had noticed that her eyes looked a little different than usual, and my vet friend Katie suggested that we take her in. Thankfully, her eye pressures were fine, but she does have some inflammation. She’s getting ointment and eye drops 4-5 times a day, and we’re finally seeing seeing some improvement. Going to the vet wears a puppy out! When Michael came home with eye drops for the dog, I almost laughed because I wasn’t sure how on earth we were going to get her to sit still long enough to put them in. After a week, I’m surprised to say that we’re practically pros at administering eye drops. She sits still and waits for her treat the whole time! I’m glad to see my furry baby looking a little more like herself again.

Happy Monday!

fourth of july (2017)

Three weeks later… and I’m finally writing about our Independence Day! Whoops. We had an amazing four-day weekend and truly enjoyed filling our time up with family, friends, and good food.

To start off the holiday, we needed some matching patriotic outfits, of course. Apparently, this is the face Nella makes when she’s very excited about something!
Kaelyn is always the first one who wants to be done having her picture taken. This was too classic to leave out. This girl and her dog… I absolutely love them together.Michael worked on painting our front door and priming our kitchen early in the day. There’s always a project to be done around here, and I’m glad he’s so willing to do it. In the process, we discovered that our previously blue door had apparently been red at some point. (If you remember our basement, it’s pretty obvious that one of the previous homeowners loved red!)
This was Nella’s “last first” holiday, so there had to be some pictures of just her in her patriotic garb. What’s cuter than a baby in holday-themed apparel? Answer: Nothing. That’s what. One of the families we know at church had a huge, open-invitation, cookout at their home- I think nearly half the ward (congregation) showed up that evening. See that ripped up hot dog bun? That’s what happens when you try to fill up your plate while also holding a baby who likes to grab everything! Really though, any meal that includes mac ‘n cheese is an automatic success. I don’t know how many of these cute smiley-faced cookies my girls ate…… and Nella was still really excited about everything! The kids all got to play an egg-toss game, but it started to pour down rain right in the middle of it all. It’s a tradition of ours to go to the town firework show, but we really didn’t want to sit out in the rain, so we stayed at the barbecue a little longer. They shot off some small fireworks, and we had sparklers for the kids.

Kaelyn was afraid and wanted nothing to do with the sparklers, but we managed to convince Kaya that they’d be fun, and she couldn’t get enough of them after she started.
We stayed out a lot later than we normally do (since we became parents, anyway), and I think this is how we all felt the next morning!

kaelyn’s first haircut

Kaelyn had her first-ever haircut! She saw Kaya get a little trim one Sunday morning, but wasn’t ready to do so herself quite yet. A few days later, she came to me and said, “My hair getting loooong… Me want a haircut, mama!”

She sat very still, and was even a good sport for some photos. I didn’t want to cut too much off, but it was actually quite uneven to begin with, so I did end up trimming it quite a bit. I let her hold some of the pieces that were cut, and she seemed to think that was pretty crazy and cool.

Before…
And after! Beautiful inside and out. Still damp, but you get the idea. I love how her hair is really developing some natural wave!And of course, in true Kaelyn fashion, we needed one crazy face at the end! She was so happy and told me, “My hair super soft!”

five on friday (7/21)

This week has felt jam-packed (in the best way possible), so I feel like this is the longest Five on Friday I’ve written in a while! We’re having fun and getting all we can out of summertime, which makes my heart so full.

ONE. The weather is finally feeling like summertime should… HOT! We’ve had plenty of fun outside! We’ve all been enjoying the hammock, although the kids don’t quite understand that it’s meant for resting and relaxing, and not swinging as fast as you can in it. Ha! We had a “picnic” with friends, Aaliyah and Talyah! I love how making kids this age happy is as easy as putting a blanket out on the deck and eating outside.  Scout loves being out on the deck too!

TWO. We’ve found several little friends outside this week. This woolly bear caterpillar was walking across our driveway one evening, and Kaya was eager to pet it and hold it in her hand. She insisted on keeping it, so we made a little house out of an empty milk carton, and Kaya picked some leaves and flowers for it to eat.

Kaya declared it a girl, and named her “Caterpillary”, with a nickname of “Fuzzy” and a last name of “Wuzzy”. Caterpillary “Fuzzy” Wuzzy. We’ve had a lot of fun learning all about this type of caterpillar, and it’s provided several hours of entertainment for Kaya already.

We (or should I say, Scout) also found this little baby bird out in the yard this morning. It looked like a Mockingbird fledgling, most likely working on learning to fly. The girls were so excited to say hello to this little guy, but we made it a quick visit so we wouldn’t disturb it or its mama bird too much.

THREE. When Kaya styles your hair, you might end up with four bows in it all at once… … but still look as cute as ever!

All three of these ladies together… breaking my heart with a cuteness overload! Kaelyn’s working on her “smolder” face, obviously (and she hasn’t even seen Tangled yet)!

FOUR. Nella’s been having some form of dinner every night this week. We tried apple-prune puree, as well as strawberry Greek yogurt. The latter has been her favorite so far!

FIVE. Last, but definitely not least, I guess we’ve “officially” started our homeschool kindergarten curriculum! We’ve been nonchalantly doing schoolwork through the summer, but this week was sort of my test run to see how well we could stick to a more structured schedule.

Kaya is absolutely loving her new math book, and if she keeps working at the pace she’s going, we might be done with kindergarten math by Thanksgiving. I love that we can go quickly over what she already knows, and spend greater time on units she needs more practice in. Kaelyn has been using some preschool books from the dollar store, and is just as eager to learn! I’ll probably be writing more about our homeschooling adventures, but for today, I’m just excited to say we’ve started!

Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

a minnie mouse birthday party (kaelyn’s 3rd birthday!)

Kaelyn had talked about her upcoming birthday for weeks, if not months, before the big day actually arrived. She had decided on a unicorn-themed party long ago, but somehow ended up on the fence between that and a Minnie Mouse party. A couple weeks before the party, she finally landed on Minnie Mouse, and there was no turning back. She has always had a love for Minnie, although I’m not quite sure where it came from, since she doesn’t watch her show, and we don’t have any books with her in them, either.

The day before her party, we shopped for cake-baking supplies and her balloons! She was beaming when we picked these up at the dollar store!

I based the cake off of this one, and followed that same bow tutorial as well. I used homemade fondant for the bow, polka dots, and the shape of the ears (which I then covered in melted chocolate), but the frosting is all buttercream. I was actually really happy with how smooth-looking this turned out. Kaelyn was giddy when she saw her cake, and gave me so many cute smiles (which is a big deal, because she usually doesn’t like to be photographed)!
I love this beautiful, amazing, funny little girl. Celebrating her was the best. She actually got to blow out the candles twice, because for some reason, my camera wasn’t ready the first time.

Kaelyn had requested that the inside of the cake be “sprinkles”, so I made this funfetti recipe. It was delicious, but I think she was too excited for presents and didn’t actually eat any of it! She did, however, enjoy eating Minnie Mouse’s ear! Grandma Debbie was the only one who could make it to the party, but she brought lots of surprises for the birthday girl. Kaelyn was very happy to see everything wrapped in Minnie paper! She received a remote-controlled Minnie car, but it actually didn’t work, so we exchanged it for the airplane equivalent at Target. It’s one of her favorite toys now!Have you ever seen a kid so excited about socks and shirts? (Only if they’re Minnie-themed, I guess!) Undies sent by Auntie Lelia, Uncle Jeff and baby Bryce! Her only three gifts that weren’t related to Minnie Mouse- Paw Patrol puppies… … a water coloring book… …and donut chalk from Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn! We ended the festivities with her favorite food- pizza! She was so tired, but so very happy.

We love you, Kaelyn Grace! Happy 3rd Birthday!

nella: 9 months

Height: 27.75 inches (50%)
Weight: 16 pounds 12 ounces (23%)
Head circumference: 17 inches

Clothing size: I just switched her to 9-12 month clothing! I have a lot of very cute summery rompers from when Kaya was her age that I’m excited to use, but I might have teared up a little while packing away her smaller things. She just grew too fast!

We also decided to go ahead and move her out of “newborn” cloth diapers to the one-size snap ones. We ended up replacing the Bumgenius ones from the older girls (they were pretty worn out and not always leakproof) with some Alvas, and those have worked great so far.

Eye color: The brightest blue.
Hair: It’s really starting to fill in, and it’s still blonde, like her eyebrows!
Teeth: Two on the bottom in front, and that’s still all. She was super cranky for about a week, and I thought for sure she’d get some on the top, but nothing so far.

Eating: She’s nursing every 3 hours for the most part. It’s nice to have a bigger gap so I don’t have to rush out of the house for my run immediately after feeding her, or I have more uninterrupted time to sit and work with the older girls on their school lessons.

I gave her just tiny bit of pureed food (a blend of strawberry/apple/banana) for the first time, and she wasn’t really a fan. Other than that, we haven’t tried anything besides peanut butter. Kaelyn also tried to feed her a Goldfish cracker when we weren’t looking. Nella gagged a little, and Kaelyn was pretty upset and knows not to do that again.

Sleep: Not to brag, but if there were awards for how well babies sleep, Nella would be number one. She goes down around 7:30 or 8 pm at night, and then typically doesn’t wake up until I go nurse her at 6 am. She also takes a 3-hour-long nap every afternoon, as long as we’re home. If we’re out, she’ll nap in the car or stroller, but she crashes hard later that night if she doesn’t get her full nap time.

She also hates to see me go when I lay her in her crib, and will almost always start to cry as I walk away. I usually give her this pink Little People plastic pig to hold in an effort to distract her from missing me. Sometimes she holds it while she sleeps.

Favorite things: Her sisters, ripping/eating paper, stuffed animals, riding in the Ergo, and being outside. She loves snuggling, being tickled, being held high in the air, and trying to throw herself backward so she can hang upside down when someone is holding her.

Dislikes: Sometimes, she doesn’t like being buckled into her car seat. She is also very sensitive to other kids crying (or big sisters throwing fits), so sometimes she’ll bawl right along with them. She also really dislikes nursing with a cover, so I’ve pretty much given up on it.

Nicknames: Nellbells, Baby Sunshine, Nella Sunshine, Nell, Nell-Nell, Nels, Angel, Cheeks, Newwie (by Kaelyn), and “Baby Nella Sunshine Sprinkle Pop” and “Pushy Cheeks” (by Kaya).

Milestones, etc.: -She’s so close to crawling, but still not doing it quite yet! She just rolls and rolls until she gets to where she wants to go. She’s our first baby to do that (Kaya was a crawler, and Kaelyn would just scoot on her bottom across the floor). It’s fun to have a roller, although I am pretty surprised at how far she can get with this method of movement!

-We’ve seen her attempt to wave a couple of times, but it hasn’t happened all that much.

-Her main “language” for communicating with us is growling! Seriously… she can make a happy-sounding growl, as well as a sad and frustrated growl. It sounds crazy, but it’s true!

-She initiates peekaboo with us by pulling a blanket over her head, and always has the biggest smile when we “find” her!

-She still has no interest in standing on her legs… but her pediatrician and I agree that she’s just kind of lazy and doesn’t want to.

-She started giving the best big kisses! Daddy definitely gets the most though, by far!

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Nella Sunshine,

I love you more than words. I enjoy all the moments we have together, even if you happen to be a little fussy. You light up when I walk into a room, and don’t think I ever take that for granted. You are still very relaxed and will generally let anyone hold you, but I think your mommy is still your favorite.You love to put your head on me and curl up to rest, almost like a newborn baby. I love your smile and laugh and chubbiness. You still have that sweet baby smell, so sometimes, I just hold you and breathe it in.We sure do love you, Nella Joy!

Love, Mommy