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!

five on friday (06/30)

It’s super late and I should be in bed, but I have a hard time letting a Friday go by without listing five great things from the week!

ONE. The biggest event of the week- our second sweet princess turned 3 years old! We had her party last weekend, but on her real birthday, we went out to the local bakery and treated her to any cookie she wanted. She, of course, chose one that had a 10:1 frosting to cookie ratio. A girl after my own heart! She was beaming as we sang “happy birthday” to her right in the middle of the mall. We went to play on the indoor playground afterward. I love how the simple things are her favorites.

TWO. Grandma came down for Kaelyn’s party, and stayed for a couple of days at the start of the week. We had a nice long walk and some time at the playground and in the yard with her. These girls sure love their Grandma Debbie (even if I could only convince two of them to get into a photo with her)…

THREE. My garden is growing! For real! I’m amazed to see these plants growing so big, and I’m actually getting kind of attached to them, so here’s to hoping that nothing comes along and eats them. There’s no produce yet, but I have a couple of cucumber plants… … some green beans… …and one lone cherry tomato plant. I’m so excited to hopefully see some food growing on these soon!

FOUR. What’s cuter than a baby in just a tank top and her diaper? One of my favorite things about summer is being able to leave her arms and legs bare so I can see those squishy little rolls of hers! Baby chub is the best.

Also, these little toes!

FIVE. It’s been a while since Freyja and Claire have graced the blog with their presence, so here they are in all their fuzzy glory. Kaya and Kaelyn helped me give them a little “spa night” a couple weeks ago, where they had baths and got their nails clipped. The pigs didn’t enjoy the process, but I can tell you that they do like to feel clean when it’s all done. Claire reminds me of a little teddy bear!Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

life last week

This has been the least amount of blogging I’ve done in many months, and my guilty conscience automatically starts to apologize as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard again. But then I remember that my main reason for writing this blog is so my kids will have it when they’re grown, and I realize that I don’t have to be sorry. I think when they finally read this in 10 or 20 or 30 years, they’ll be glad that their mom was sometimes a little too busy to blog because she was playing outside with them, helping them with crafts, and putting together their birthday parties. Whenever there’s a lot to write about, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to actually blog about it, because we’re busy living it. And in a way, I’m okay with that.

We’ve been spending a lot of time outside and at the playground. These two love “rock climbing” together!Kaya is becoming a little more bold and has started practicing hanging from the monkey bars. She isn’t able to grab onto the next one and keep going yet, but I am proud of her for going out on a limb (a.k.a. monkey bar) and trying something new.
This little monkey is also trying to climb more… …while the littlest monkey isn’t monkeying at all. When you’re the third baby, you sometimes have to nap on the go! On a recent walk, a lady told me that I need more kids in my stroller. I told her that if there were any more, I might not be able to push it up the hill! Really though, I love having all these seats full (and this stroller is still one of the best things ever)!
If you were worried that the girls have just cardio at the playground as their only exercise, fear not- strength training happens via morning push-ups with Daddy!The girls worked on painting these suncatchers one afternoon. They are both pretty meticulous artists now, so they take their time, and I love seeing what they come up with at the end! They also made about a million perler-bead animals, so my iron lived on the kitchen counter for a few days so we could finish all of their creations ASAP. Waiting to melt those beads together inevitably leads to having them spill, which makes for some very sad little girls (and a crazy puppy who tries to eat any bead she discovers on the floor)! We went shopping for baking supplies for Kaelyn’s birthday cake, and Nella sat in the front seat of the shopping cart for the first time ever. As evidenced by her silly little grin, she loved it! She’s had a few more rides since last week, and she kicks her legs and smiles happily every time. Someone was excited to pick up her birthday balloons… … and someone else was excited to show off her cute little teeth! These are the days, and I’m glad I’m living them, even if I’m not writing about every detail.

grandpa peter turns 60!

When we traveled back to my parents’ neck of the woods on race weekend, we also celebrated my Dad’s 60th birthday! Having a party with all of my family was really the perfect way to end an already-great Saturday.

After the race, we headed to Longhorn Steakhouse for my Dad’s special birthday dinner! He had to wear this special blinking birthday pin that my aunts both wore on their sixtieth birthdays- it’s a tradition! Hey, at least it got him a free ice cream sundae at the restaurant.
I’m so glad everyone could be there together. Michael and I ended up on opposite ends of our very long table… so I think this picture pretty much sums up what he was doing for the duration of the dinner- wrangling these big kids! He’s such a good sport, and I love him so much for taking care of our girls. Nella’s little hand grabbing onto my arm… melt my heart. And it’s always fun to hang out with Auntie Carol and Auntie Joyce! We headed back home for cake and gifts! Kaya is so into birthdays (she actually pretends it’s her baby doll’s or Kitty’s birthdays on a nearly-daily basis at times), so anytime she’s allowed to participate in the festivities, she’s all for it.I think Grandpa liked having a candle-blowing-out, present-opening helper.
When I was about six years old, I made my dad a “birthday necklace” out of strips of paper that I had colored and stapled together. I made a giant paper birthday cake and stapled it to the center of the necklace, and of course, he had to wear it, even though it was probably the ugliest and most awkward necklace in existence. He donned this plastic, blinking birthday necklace this year, a sort of tribute to that awful paper necklace from years past. He received lots of great gifts, but Snoballs were obviously the most exciting! I think the grand-puppy was cuddled more than the grandbabies on this trip! I was a little concerned about traveling with such a young puppy, but she really did great. She slept on the floor of the van for the entire drive, and didn’t make any trouble or destroy anything at my parents’ house. I’d call that a success! I think she won my Dad over when she fell asleep in his arms. On Sunday morning, we got to sleep in, which was so refreshing after getting up early for the race the previous day. I get to share a room with Nella at my parents’ house (everyone else sleeps downstairs), and I always look forward to waking up and having some one-on-one time with this smiley little baby. My mom made us the biggest pancakes in the world for breakfast!

We walked our dogs out in the yard, and Kaelyn enjoyed putting on “makeup” (just lipstick) with Grandma. This is one of her favorite things.Before we knew it, we were back on the road and on our way home!

happy birthday to me! (29)

On my birthday, I woke up to the sweetest surprise from my best friend- flowers and my favorite candy! These, vibrant, beautiful flowers ended up lasting for about two weeks, which is quite possibly the longest I’ve ever had anything green stay alive in my house.

The girls were so very excited to surprise me, and now that Kaelyn is using sentences, she repeatedly told me “happy burtday mama!” Her soft, sincere little voice melts my heart.
My birthday was on a Sunday this year, which meant that there wouldn’t be much time for celebrating, since we have church pretty much all day long. In addition to our regular schedule, we had our special New Beginnings program for the Young Women later that night. I love church, but I honestly was feeling a little disappointed that we wouldn’t have time to do anything special together as a family.
However, my heart immediately changed when I arrived at church and saw our Young Women, all excitedly shouting “happy birthday!” After all my previous feelings of disappointment, I realized that being with these amazing young ladies was right where I wanted (and probably needed) to spend my birthday. I made cinnamon rolls to bring to New Beginnings that evening, and we had a fun and uplifting day.
Later in the week, my mom came up to throw a belated mini birthday party for me. She read the girls all the books they asked her to and even played some games with them. No one can resist kissing these cheeks!And no one wants to nap when grandparents come to visit… until this happens:
My mom brought me a cookies and cream cake with fluffy, whipped frosting!My girls were so excited to have a tiny party for their mommy. I really can’t believe that all three of these little sweethearts are mine.
My mom gets all the credit for putting this birthday together! We’ve got some crazy blowing-out-the-candles faces, that’s for sure. My mom spoiled me with some potholders, kitchen utensils, and a shirt. The kids were so into helping me open everything that it almost turned into a race!

That’s the end of the birthday shenanigans. Here’s to making the last year of my twenties amazing!

9 for 29

The last couple of years, I’ve started this little tradition where I share a few facts about myself in honor of my birthday. I turned 29 years old on Sunday, so I thought I’d post my list this week! I write so much about the kids on here, but I’d like to think that one day, they’d like to look back and learn something about their mom, too.

1. I didn’t play any sports growing up, but in adulthood, I’ve found that I love running. I’ve been an avid runner for 8 years now, and it seems like the older I get, the more miles I want to do. I ran my first race last year and I’m looking forward to doing at least one in 2017!

2. I eat a big salad every day for lunch, but don’t worry, I balance it out with plenty of ice cream later! 😉

3. I like to pick on Michael for being older than me, even if it is only by 6 months.

4. I am a serious bargain hunter and only buy things on sale or clearance, especially clothes for the kids. If the price is right, I’ll store away items that won’t fit them for two or three more years.

5. Photography is still my favorite hobby. I take all of our own family photos, and although it can be extremely challenging with little kids, overall, it’s incredibly rewarding. I also love documenting other people’s special moments, and although I haven’t been actively trying to grow my business, slowly but surely, it is expanding with each passing year.

6. I was never a baby-crazy kind of girl until we actually had our own. Now I love baby snuggles, that sweet baby smell, and their infatuating little smiles.7. I’ve been working with the Young Women at church for over 3 years now, and I think I’d be happy to do that for the rest of my life. I love those girls so much, and I’m so grateful that I get to learn about life and the gospel alongside them. We really have an amazing group of young ladies who are so valiant and good-hearted.

8. My go-to, oops-I-didn’t-plan-ahead food is grilled cheese. I really like mine with sharp cheddar or Colby-jack cheese, pickle slices, and pepperoni.

9. My current favorite song is “Dirt on my Boots” by Jon Pardi, and my favorite actress is Lauren Graham.

Since my birthday was on a Sunday this year, we didn’t get much time to really celebrate. My mom will be here visiting this coming weekend, so I’m looking forward to having some cake and fun then!

kaya’s random birthday celebrations (2016)

Yeah, yeah, I know Kaya’s birthday was forever ago, but I’m basically a million years behind on everything I need to do (folding laundry, blogging, photography business stuff, you name it)… better late than never, right? Plus, I have some very cute pictures that I just couldn’t refrain from sharing here.

Now that’s she’s a little older, Kaya definitely knows what her favorite foods and activities are, so it was really fun to take her out and do what she really likes. We decided we’d treat her to a special birthday dinner, and we let her choose the place. She really loves Red Robin, so on the Friday night before her party, we headed there (along with Grandma Debbie)!img_20160916_195103 img_20160916_192036

The waiter even brought her a special birthday ice cream. This little girl couldn’t have been more excited!

On her real birthday, we asked her what she wanted to do… and predictably, she answered that she’d like to go to the mall. This is one of her favorite places (which might have something to do with the cookie place and the playground being there)!

We had a little “picnic”, and let her pick out a treat. We stuck her candle in the cookie, and sang “Happy Birthday” one more time!

These are some happy people right here. (Kaya was also wearing her most favorite things on this day: a rainbow tutu and a Hello Kitty shirt!)

We had to spend some time playing on the playground afterward, of course.

Daddy ran around with them like crazy (and I love these animated GIFs that Google makes for me, haha)!vid_20160919_204923-animation A couple weeks later, Grandma Gina brought Kaya a special gift she’d made…_mg_5420 _mg_5422 _mg_5424 A rainbow blanket! It turned out so beautiful, and Kaya was instantly in love._mg_5426

It was so much fun making her birthday truly special for her. Sometimes it’s tough watching your kids grow up so fast, but as they get older, there are so many more opportunities for enjoying time together.

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!

happy 4th birthday, kaya!

Dear Kaya,

It’s hard to believe that four years have already passed since I first held you in my arms. You were our first little miracle, and each day, I am still filled with gratitude and wonder that your care has been entrusted to us._mg_5170

You are a nurturer. Compassion comes naturally to you, whether it’s for a baby, a plant, an animal, or anyone who is hurt or upset. You are always playing with your baby doll, or pretending that Kaelyn is your real baby, and you need to take care of her. Sometimes, in the mornings now, you even help your little sister get dressed and ready for the day. I’m so appreciative of your willingness to contribute to our family.

_mg_4975

You are a protector. You always watch out for Kaelyn, making sure she isn’t doing anything unsafe or breaking any house rules.

You are an innate learner. Over this past year, we’ve been doing “homeschool preschool”, and you relish nearly every moment of it. You beg me to “do school” almost every day (we try to do it at least three times per week), and you are excellent at copying letters and telling me their phonetic sounds. I think you are actually ready to start learning to read, and I’m excited to help teach you and see you discover the literary world._mg_4436

You love to give gifts and surprise people. Oftentimes, you’ll “write” notes to each of us, tape them closed, and hide them so we can find them later. Anytime we have a special treat for Daddy or made something especially neat in preschool, you excitedly tell him to close his eyes and run toward him with whatever the object is. Of course, you find immense joy in receiving surprises yourself.

You are a helper. You’ll help Daddy with just about anything he asks of you, and you especially enjoy helping me make everyone’s lunches or with baking._mg_4425

Music is one of your very favorite things. You love singing time in Primary at church, and you frequently pretend to be your music teacher. You love doing family home evening just so we can sing songs together.

You love to cut, glue, paint and create art._mg_4586

You love to play games. Candy Land, Trouble, Connect Four, and a modified version of Blokus are your favorites.

You are silly, sweet, and shy. Many people tell me that they didn’t even realize you can talk because you are very quiet (and well-behaved) when we’re out in public.

Kitty (or “Meowy”, as you call him most of the time), is still your very favorite. He had to have a few “stitches” and be restuffed a few months ago, and I think now that he’s more “fluffle-y” (as you say), you love him more than ever. You are also still obsessed with your purple cat blankie._mg_4413

Believe it or not, you still take a nap every afternoon. I’m sure that some of the time is spent playing quietly in your room, but usually, I can expect about 2.5 hours of near silence each day.

These past few months have been some of the most exciting for you as you’ve watched my belly grow and anticipated the arrival of your baby sister. These days, she is almost all you can talk about. Through my morning sickness and other ailments, you were always there, checking on me, tucking me in with blankets, snuggling me, and just making sure that I was okay. You tell me that you want to be a mommy yourself someday, and I know that you will fill that role perfectly.IMG_20160619_124616

Kaya, I love you more than I can say. There are probably a million more things I could write about you, but I’ve tried to capture the biggest parts of your personality so that we will always remember what you were like at this age. Time is going by so quickly, and honestly, I wish I could slow down these days so we could have more of them, just as we both are right now.

Love, Mommy

michael’s birthday celebrations (29!)

Michael’s birthday was on a Tuesday, so really, it was a pretty typical weekday for us. He had to work, and I had to be at church youth activities later that night. He was celebrated at work with a chocolate birthday cake, so I planned to make him some other type of special dessert for later on.

The night before his birthday, his mom texted and asked if we’d like to have her spend the day with us. She had been helping out Michael’s great grandma, who lives about two hours from here, for the past couple of weeks, so making a quick day trip was actually feasible! Of course we said yes, and everyone was super excited to see Grandma._MG_4782

While Michael was at work, we made some family-favorite choco-mint freeze, picked up ingredients for his mom’s homemade chicken nuggets at the grocery store, and bought him some mylar balloons (which really ended up being more for the girls than for him, haha)! Still, they were so eager to surprise him as soon as he came home. Of course, he had to close his eyes, per Kaya’s request!_MG_4784 They loved running at him with their balloons!_MG_4786His gifts were some new bluetooth headphones from us (which he couldn’t resist opening that morning before work!), and a check from his parents._MG_4788 This was Kaya’s reaction when she saw that he got money in his card… 🙂_MG_4789 My mom-in-law cooked some amazing homemade chicken nuggets, and after dinner, I went to youth activities. When I came home, it was time for choco-mint freeze!_MG_4797 They were pretty excited… and pretty goofy._MG_4793 Like father, like daughter._MG_4794 _MG_4795 Kaelyn was too busy actually eating her dessert to goof off (or even look at me for a picture). Girl’s got focus!_MG_4798

This was probably one of the simplest birthday parties ever, but we all loved celebrating our favorite guy. Hopefully next year I’ll have more energy to put together something awesome for his big 30!

Happy 29th Birthday, best friend!