neigh-neighs, the sprinkle monster, and great-aunties

After visiting Michael’s family, we went to my parents’ home for the last of our Christmas celebrations. Their family room quickly turned into a wrapping-paper explosion- it was like Christmas morning all over again!

You never know what Grandma Debbie might surprise you with…

Each girl (including me) got a spatula in her stocking!
Kaya was pretty excited about these pants… … and can you tell that someone is in love with Minnie Mouse? There was a giant Hello Kitty plush for Kaya, of course. The girls’ big gifts were these horses! Kaya names every horse she has “Chancey”, so of course, we all knew his name before he even escaped the box. Kaelyn calls all her horses “Neigh-neigh”, this one included.Michael (a.k.a. Mister Home Improvement) now has a drill! He’s already been able to use it for several projects.
Kaya gives the best hugs. After exchanging gifts, Kaya, Grandma and I cut out gingerbread cookies. The next day, we decorated them with sprinkles! Kaelyn used up most of the sprinkles by herself… She was completely covered by the end of it all. What a mess! I’m glad she enjoyed herself, though.Nella will be in on the mess next year, but for now, she sat in her seat and took a little nap.This trip was the first time Grandpa Peter met Nella! It was love at first sight.My aunts stopped by to see us, too! Nella met her Great-Aunties Joyce and Carol! Of course, they instantly loved her too.Everyone always loves Grandma snuggles!

I’m glad we were able to visit our families for the holidays.This is the last of the Christmas posts, so now it’s officially over! (Only 333 days to go until we do it all again!)

christmas cookie delivery 2016

I’m basically a bakeaholic, so when Christmastime rolls around, I’m very happy to have an excuse to make treats. Over the years, I’ve collected some of my very favorite recipes for holiday cookies, and I love sharing them. Here’s what we made for our traditional cookie delivery this year:

gingerbread cookies (these are the same ones my mom has made for as long as I can remember)

Michigan fudge

snickerdoodles (this was my first time making these, and they were heavenly!)

chocolate-chip cookies

We delivered 18 plates of goodies, which (I think) is more than we’ve done any other year. I really love seeing all the plates filled and organized right before we take them out! Part of this tradition includes wearing goofy hats. Two Santas, two reindeer, and then a baby in Santa pajamas. We’ll have to get her a hat next year! It’s hard to believe that we originally started doing this when Kaya was Nella’s size!Kaya was the most excited about this activity. She loved surprising her Primary president and enjoyed ringing doorbells. I loved seeing my kids feel the joy of gift-giving, and I hope that this is a favorite family tradition for many years to come.

gingerbread cookies 2016

I’m just going to keep talking about Christmas, partly because I still have a lot to document, and partly because I’m not completely ready to admit that the holiday season is over! Cookies, Christmas carols, and spending extra time together as a family are my favorite things.

Kaya was eager to help roll out the gingerbread dough this year. I thought she was still a little too young, but she actually did a great job for being just four years old.
Now Kaelyn is old enough to help cut out cookies! They were both just a little excited. 😉Silicone baking mats will change your life… I didn’t break a single cookie this year!After they were all baked, we started decorating. Michael and the girls were only able to do a few before it was bedtime, so I ended up finishing most of them.
We ended up with exactly 60 gingerbread cookies, and we gave away all but 5 or so! Here were some of my favorites:Michael made that adorable little house on the left; Kaya did the multicolored bear, and it seems like it’s become some odd tradition that I make that blonde swimsuit girl. I really love seeing each of us express our creativity so differently.

turtles and basketball (weekend)

Grandma Debbie came up for a visit this weekend! Kaya was so excited and just couldn’t wait for her to arrive. Grandma brought lots of hugs and surprises for everyone, including Valentine’s candy, Beanie Baby turtles for the girls, and a steamer stock pot for me. Because of spoiling us, she always has much fewer things to pack up when she leaves. We’re just helping lighten her load, right?
_MG_1007We spent a lot of time just relaxing and playing at home. Kaya loved pretending to tuck us in for a nap on the couch.

After Michael got off work on Friday night, we all went to look at another house. It was beautiful and in a great neighborhood… but there was a line of clients to get in and see it! Crazy! We waited in the car for quite a while before it was our turn.

We knew it would sell quickly, and I wasn’t ready to jump into anything yet, so we didn’t make an offer. It was sold by the next morning, after being on the market for only one day!

After seeing the house, we took my mom out to our favorite Chinese place for her first time ever. Kaya hid behind Michael for this picture and Kaelyn was too busy with her cup to turn around! Haha.

On Saturday morning, Michael headed off to a stake basketball tournament. It lasted about 4 hours, and his team made it to the championship! He was sore for days afterward, and sadly, there are no pictures from this event.

Since he was gone, I took Kaya to her gymnastics class. She is getting so comfortable with most of the activities and even told me that she loves her teachers!

Later, we decided to decorate some sugar cookies with Grandma._MG_1014 Michael decorated two cookies. And he ate two cookies. And that was all for him!_MG_1013 _MG_1012 “Cookie decorating” is actually code for “cookie eating”._MG_1018 _MG_1021 _MG_1023 Kaya got a little excited about covering her entire cookie with candy and sprinkles. She made this bunny on the top right, and she was worried because she “missed a spot”. Hahaha._MG_1026 I got a little snowman-happy._MG_1028

We also enjoyed time with Karl and Kaitlyn, although I somehow didn’t get any pictures of their visit. We had church on Sunday, and finally took naps, after not having our regular nap routine for a few days. We were wiped out! Grandma left on Monday morning, and now, we are looking forward to our other set of grandparents visiting next weekend!

christmas cookie delivery 2015

Delivering Christmas goodies is quite possibly my very favorite holiday tradition. There is just nothing like gifting a homemade treat to your friends and neighbors! It takes me about two full days of baking, and it’s so worth it to see the joy on people’s faces.

I used a lot of the same recipes this year (why change something that’s already excellent?) and tried out a couple of new ones too. Here’s what we handed out:_MG_0314gingerbread cookies
Michigan fudge
candy cane cookies (mine ended up looking more like a mess instead of candy canes…)
no-peanut-butter kiss cookies
and buttery spritz cookies!

We delivered 15 plates again this year, same as last year.cookiecollage2015

However, this was the first year ever that it was almost too warm to wear our traditional festive hats! We were out there delivering cookies in short-sleeved t-shirts and no winter coats. We still wore our hats, although Kaya wanted to trade her reindeer for Daddy’s Santa one.

I already miss having a reason (excuse) to bake lots of cookies! Kaya is excited to decorate some again when Valentine’s Day rolls around. 🙂

christmas cookies 2015

As always, we made our favorite gingerbread cookies to give to friends and neighbors. This was Kaelyn’s first year being able to help! We started rolling and cutting cookies while Kaya was at preschool, so it was a special mommy-daughter time with just my littlest.

And really… with that smile and a smudge of flour on her cheek, she couldn’t be any cuter._MG_0259 She mostly just tried to scoop the dough out of the bowl and eat it, and when she wasn’t doing that, she was wearing the cookie cutters on her arm like bracelets._MG_0253

When we picked Kaya up, she was super excited to help out, too.
_MG_0263 I baked them all (and ended up with a total of 55 cookies!), and then Karl and Kaitlyn came over to help decorate them later that afternoon._MG_0264 I really like Karl’s “santa” made out of a stocking. We did pretty good work. (I also made a “bathing suit girl” on the top left that I found too funny… hey, gingerbread people go swimming too, right?)_MG_0265 The kids napped through the first part of our activity, but Kaya was eager to jump into it as soon as we returned from visiting Santa._MG_0294 _MG_0295 Kaya has been a sprinkler-extraordinaire this year. She’s always so willing to help me in the kitchen. I’m excited to see what she creates as she gets older! _MG_0302

3 more days!

halloween cookie-decorating party

On Tuesday morning, we hosted a mini (very mini) Halloween party for the kids. We invited both old and new friends, and kept it super simple. We basically just decorated some sugar cookies and then let the kids all play.

Kaya was truly the happiest little girl as she sat there and decorated cookie after cookie. I think she made more cookies than anyone else did (and actually only ate one… the very first one she made, of course)!_MG_9705 I helped her out with the frosting, and she did an excellent job of loading them up with as many m&ms, Resse’s Pieces, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and sprinkles as possible. Would you like some cookie to go with your toppings? (this is my favorite sugar cookie recipe, by the way 😉 )_MG_9724

We played some Halloween music, and Mia and Kaya started dancing. I’ve said it over and over again, but I just love that my baby has a best friend._MG_9706 I put together some super simple goody bags for the older girls- pumpkin bubbles, glowsticks, a kaleidoscope, and some homemade pumpkin play dough. Kaya was so excited to hand them out and even more excited to open hers up._MG_9712 Kaelyn tried her first sugar cookie at lunchtime, after the party. She had woken up around 5:30 am that day, and so sadly, she was cranky and cried for the majority of the cookie-decorating activity._MG_9718We had a great time with friends, and this little party was a great way to kick off our Halloween festivities! 🙂

cookies with grandma

My mom came up to visit us this past weekend! She originally wanted to come see us just after my birthday, but then a massive snowstorm squashed that plan. Kaya was more excited than ever for “gwam-ma” to arrive!_MG_6735For every precious pose, there are at least 3 more goofy ones behind the scenes.
03142015collage1 My mom is always up for baking something, so I thought it’d be fun to make sugar cookies for Kaya could decorate with her! I originally wanted to go crazy with shamrocks and green frosting for St. Patrick’s Day… but then I realized that I don’t have a shamrock cookie cutter! And this is coming from the girl who has well over 100 different cookie cutter shapes to choose from… go figure! _MG_6787 We made springtime cookies instead. 🙂_MG_6771 As usual, we also made a pretty big mess…_MG_6785…and Michael made a “doggy doo” cookie. I have no idea why, but he insisted I take a picture, so here it is._MG_6783My mom also brought me some belated birthday presents- earrings and new converses! YAY! _MG_6750 My littlest was in such a good mood all weekend long. This is her insanely-happy smiley face before church on Sunday!_MG_6797 As usual, there isn’t much napping that goes on when we have visitors (and there’s never any napping on Sundays with afternoon church now), so by Sunday night, everyone was exhausted. My little bug just couldn’t stay awake!_MG_6799My mom left yesterday morning, and Kaya has already been asking for her to come back. Soon, we hope! 🙂

mini cookie-decorating party

Valentine’s Day is a lot of my favorite things all rolled into one: sweets, treats, and PINK everywhere! So naturally, we had to put together a little play date for our friends. I made some sugar cookies and stocked up on all sorts of sprinkles and toppings!_MG_6371 Kaya got really into decorating this time and didn’t even want to stop to go play. She was enthusiastic about the chocolate chips…_MG_6375very enthusiastic._MG_6373 Everyone looked so cute in their little Valentine’s outfits! I just can’t get over how sweet Kaya and Mia are together. They really are such great buddies!_MG_6382 Brittany took this one of Kaelyn and Caroline. Cuties! (until they grabbed each other’s faces…)Processed with VSCOcam with s3 presetThe cookies turned out delicious… and adorable! I love doing things like this with my big girl.
_MG_6412And I just have to include a picture of this spunky monkey in one of her many festive outfits. You can’t go wrong with pink, puppies and hearts!
_MG_6403Happy Valentine’s Day!

christmas 2014

This is a super photo-heavy post, but there were just so many great moments from our Christmas day that I couldn’t leave out! I loved everything about our holiday at home together as a little family of FOUR, so every one of these photos is a favorite for me.

Michael and I stayed up late on Christmas Eve. I was so excited for morning because I knew Kaya’s reaction to her cozy coupe car would be priceless. We basically stayed awake until we couldn’t anymore (around 2 am). I kept wishing it was time to wake up!
_MG_5887 We haven’t really told Kaya too much about Santa… but as soon as she saw the tree, she kept saying “a Santa!”_MG_5892

Kaya grabbed her gifts and was ready to start unwrapping right away. (Also, her expressions just crack me up sometimes!)_MG_5893 _MG_5896She started reading this book to Baba (that’s Kaelyn’s main nickname if you don’t know… given to her by Kaya, of course)!_MG_5898Just keep watching Kaelyn in these next few photos… I was cracking up over her falling-backward/trying-to-eat-wrapping-paper antics._MG_5900“My clock!”_MG_5901Kaya loves this little puppy that walks and does flips! He actually lands most of his jumps, so I’m pretty impressed._MG_5903_MG_5904 We hid the cozy coupe under a blanket, and she was pretty unsure of uncovering it. She kept saying, “a Santa!”, so we almost think that she expected a living, breathing Santa Claus to be hiding under there. She doesn’t love seeing Santa, so that would explain her uncertainty! _MG_5906_MG_5907She got in and started turning the steering wheel right away!_MG_5909 And this is why I love Christmas morning._MG_5916She decided she had to wear her coat to drive, obviously, since she always wears it in the real car!_MG_5931Two of the gifts I had for Michael weren’t here by Christmas morning, but he was excited for a new Hokie sweatshirt and some homemade chocolate peanut butter fudge under the tree! _MG_5924My favorite gift this year was delivered 6 months ago 🙂 But Michael did surprise me with a TomTom Runner (GPS watch) that I am absolutely loving so far, and a new computer monitor… I’m one spoiled girl!_MG_5890I stacked some mini donuts into snowman and reindeer shapes for a fun, festive breakfast!
_MG_5927 I think she was counting them all here… (and this was the plate for all of us, not just her, haha!)_MG_5929 I cooked some pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli, and homemade rolls for our Christmas dinner. My gingerbread obsession continued on, so I whipped up another half batch of cookies for us to enjoy (especially since we gave away almost all of the batch I made before)! I got crazy and dipped these in chocolate candy coating. Mmm._MG_5940Our friends, Katherine, Matt, Mia, and brand-new Baby Luke came over to enjoy dinner with us! We had a great time (Kaya and Mia especially)!
_MG_5942Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day! I’m always sad to see it end… let the countdown begin to next year!