five on friday (01/27)

ONE. We went to a big birthday bash for our friends, Aaliyah and Talyah, this week! My girls were beyond excited about having cupcakes. Funny enough, despite all her enthusiasm, Kaelyn didn’t even take a bite out of hers.

Kaya fell in love with the elephant pinata, and was the queen of collecting candy once it was broken open. Sadly, another kid tore the eyes and most of the paper off of it after this, and Kaya was on the verge of tears to see her new friend ripped to shreds. She’s so very sensitive and loving, even toward fake cardboard animals.

TWO. We’ve been doing some more work on the house, from small things like changing out all the brass doorknobs to a “brushed bronze”…

…to painting the office (which is still in progress)! Have you figured out what my favorite color is yet?

THREE. This little princess has started having very animated “conversations” with us every day. She coos, grins, and just melts your heart. Her excitement multiplies a hundred fold when you smile and talk back to her!FOUR. I’m getting a new nephew!!! Lelia and Jeff announced this week that they are having a sweet baby boy in June, and I just cannot wait to meet him!Of course, we had to recreate this silly picture from nearly five years ago (what?!) when I was 15 weeks pregnant with Kaya, but we comically reversed roles and shoved a kitchen towel up Lelia’s shirt. Lelia actually sent me this picture in a card in the mail to announce their pregnancy a couple months ago, and I was so excited that I could barely talk when I called and left her a voicemail.
Really, I’m so happy for this sister of mine and I can’t wait to see our babies all together.

FIVE. Speaking of little babies… I love my sweet, sleeping angel, tucked in so tight.


Linking up here, here, and here today!

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!

the columbus zoo

While we were in Ohio, we visited the Columbus zoo! Kaya has been asking to go to a zoo for over a year now, so she was so excited to finally see the animals! We saw some flamingos… _MG_4308 … some real penguins at feeding time…_MG_4310 … and some kangaroos! I think they were my personal favorite (and probably Kaelyn’s too), because you could actually walk right through their exhibit and get quite close!_MG_4314 It was fun to see them hopping around (this one was named Alice)!_MG_4317 We also took the kids on the zoo carousel, which has been another dream of Kaya’s ever since she saw a picture of one in a library book. It was the best $2 I’ve spent in a long time._MG_4325 _MG_4326 _MG_4329 _MG_4328 The zoo had an awesome aquarium section (which was also great for getting out of the heat!), which included manatees and a sea turtle. My girls really loved seeing the big fish!_MG_4332 There were also some 5-month-old baby tigers. They were so much smaller than I was expecting, but so cute!_MG_4336These best friends held hands for a good distance through the park. I loved hearing their conversations and seeing them fall right back into being pals after being separated for a couple of months.
_MG_4347 _MG_4349 They also loved climbing on all the bronze animal statues together!_MG_4342 We ended up walking around as much of the zoo as we could for about 4 hours or so. After that, the kids were exhausted and the day was really starting to heat up, so we ended our visit with one of my all-time favorite animals- the giraffe!_MG_4353Somehow, our very tired kids still didn’t take an afternoon nap, and instead spent more time out in the yard and baby pool. We had some amazing Chinese food, and then everyone was more than ready for an early bedtime (with a story first, of course)!_MG_4354

a visit to ohio

A week and a half ago, we went to visit our friends, the Allens, for the first time since they moved away. It was my very first trip to Ohio!

Kaya had been saying for weeks on end that she was so excited to see Mia, so I was really anticipating watching them meet again. They were a little shy around each other at first, but their reservedness turned to pure joy very quickly. I loved seeing my little girl so very happy.

Katherine made some delicious homemade pizza!

We spent most of the time we were at their house out in the yard. My girls thought that sliding down into a baby pool was pretty much the most fun idea ever!_MG_429508042016collage1 _MG_4290

Popsicles on the porch at the end of the night made for some happy girls!_MG_4307 We went to the zoo (which will be another post, since I took too many pictures to include here), played some Blokus, laughed over the oddness of the Olympic opening ceremonies, had Chinese food, and made amazingly-huge brownie sundaes when the kids were asleep. It was so refreshing to see our good friends, just relax, and spend time together.

On Saturday morning, Katherine and Matt watched our kids so we could visit the Columbus LDS temple. We haven’t been to the temple since last October, so this was a treat for us. I love the temple and the peace I feel there. Somehow, when I’m inside, most of the things I spend my time worrying about on a normal basis don’t seem to matter all that much._MG_4361 It doesn’t hurt to have a pretty studly date, either. 😉_MG_4363 IMG_20160806_111408It was a very small temple (maybe even tinier than our chapel building back home), but it was, of course, perfect._MG_4364The gardens seemed extra beautiful, too._MG_4365 _MG_4371

We headed back to their home and stayed until just after lunchtime. I’m learning that my kids just don’t seem to do well with traveling- they seem to have an exponential increase in meltdowns and tantrums when we’re not at home, so they were more than ready for some naps on the drive back.

The only cool way to drive home is with pink sunglasses. Obviously.

We had such a great time. It’s not easy having friends move away, but I guess the silver lining is that eventually, you have friends in all different places to go and visit!

ben and brittany come to visit

We’ve been able to visit with several family members and friends in this past month! I’m grateful for being able to keep in touch with everyone through the amazing technology we have today, but there is nothing quite like an in-person visit. Ben and Brittany moved to Texas last summer, and they’ve come back to Virginia twice in this past year. They made another trip out to our neck of the woods to visit with us, and I’m so glad they did! The last time we saw them was around Christmas… our group just keeps growing in number!_MG_3833 I loved seeing all of our girls together. They were instant friends who loved having “picnics”, going on pretend walks, and chasing each other around all day long._MG_3837 _MG_3842 I got to take some family photos for them while they were here! Kaya worked really hard to help Caroline smile, and then would dole out marshmallows for her good efforts. She really is the perfect little helper!_MG_3735We really lucked out with good lighting. Guys, this is in my backyard!_MG_3702 There was plenty of Wii Party and ice cream for the adults (and baby-Alice cuddles for me) once the kids were in bed asleep. Before they left, we had a bubble-blowing bonanza on the deck. I think these three girls were in heaven!
_MG_3863 _MG_3866 _MG_3861Watching so many friends move away in these past couple of years has been hard. Having them visit brings a refreshing, nostalgic taste of normalcy, and I am definitely grateful for that.

five on friday (07/15)

We’ve had a fun week over here, and I have a million things to catch up on and blog about… but today I have a nice, simple, Five on Friday to share!

ONE. We’re right in the middle of our typical stormy season here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which means very hot and humid mornings, followed by big thunderstorms in the afternoons. We’ve been trying to get outside and enjoy the sunshine while we can! These girls love their matching sunglasses!_MG_3915

TWO. I’m very much enjoying having a screened-in back porch and a hammock! The girls can play with their water table, and I can rest for a few minutes (just don’t ask me how hard it is for me to actually get out of the hammock at 6.5 months pregnant, haha)!_MG_3920

THREE. This little girl is always cracking me up. She loves to help me put each item back in my makeup bag as I finish with it, and lately, she wants to try and put some on, too._MG_3928

PSA: This is the new way to curl your lashes.

She also “nurses” her piggy, and even tells him “switch” when it’s time to nurse on the opposite side…

… and somehow, she’s now old enough to know how to use scissors! She was actually cutting paper this week. Where on earth did my little baby go?!_MG_3887

FOUR. For all their lives, the girls have taken their naps in separate bedrooms. Now that I’ll need another room for the baby, I really wanted to transition them into the same room. There have been a lot of shenanigans instead of sleeping, leading to long afternoons and cranky kids, but after a week of trying it, I think they’re finally adjusting.

I think I’ll always think they look like angels when they’re sleeping, no matter how old they get.

FIVE. Kaya got a letter in the mail from her BFF Mia! She could not have been any more excited! This made her day, and she has been carrying the card around, taking it in and out of the envelope over and over again. Now it’s our turn to mail something back! 🙂_MG_3896

Happy weekend!

Linking up here!

when friends move away

Families move in and out of our town constantly. It’s a social norm here to expect to know someone for only a few years, and then watch them head off toward new horizons.

Just because I’ve said so many goodbyes doesn’t mean it gets any easier with each friend who moves away. We knew that our good friends, Katherine, Matt, Mia, and Luke would be leaving as soon as they finished medical school, and the day finally came a few weeks ago. I tried hard not to think about it in the preceding weeks, but in the end, my tears inevitably came pouring down. I really don’t think that I’ll ever not cry in this kind of situation.

These little girls started it all– the group of mothers who were brought together by our babies, so close in age, looking for companionship and the kind of support that only other new moms can give. When they were tiny, we would call them “best friends”, but I never could have imagined how truly sweet and caring their relationship would become.

We were able to spend one last hour at their house before they left. The girls had just as much fun as ever, and of course, we had to take a few photos. It’s amazing to see how much our babies have grown!IMG_20160531_162240 If that wasn’t enough cuteness for you, Google Photos automatically made a GIF!IMG_20160531_162239-ANIMATION We attempted to use my selfie stick for a group shot… and ended up with some pretty hilarious ones.IMG_20160531_162635 I’m so grateful for all the fun memories we’ve shared. Thankfully, they moved within driving distance, so hopefully we can visit sometime in the near future! 🙂IMG_20160531_162717

five on friday (03/11)

Happy Friday!!!

ONE. We’ve had the best spring weather this week, and we soaked it all in as much as we could. It’s been so long since we’ve played outside without our winter coats on! Riding in the swing was as exciting as a completely brand-new experience for Kaelyn. I love her happy squeals._MG_1176Kaya still loves riding her tricycle! We need to build up her speed and endurance again!TWO. Kaya loves to have her picture taken next to trees, and will insist on sitting next to one if I want to photograph her. This golden, warm light has me excited for outdoor photography to really begin again._MG_1163THREE. I have wanted western boots for forever… and thanks to some birthday money from my mom-in-law, I finally bought some! They came in the mail this week, and Kaya was so excited that we can match now.

FOUR. My little fashionista started clipping bows to her shirt as an accessory. This has got to be a new trend, right? I love how she loves everything to be colorful and bright._MG_1184 FIVE. I taught preschool today, and these little best friends just melt my heart. Kaya loves Mia so much and always wants to do what she does (i.e. Kaya saw that Mia had her bracelet on her left wrist, so she switched hers to the left, too). I love listening to their little conversations and the questions they ask each other while they’re working on their crafts.

Happy weekend all!

Linking up here!

my birthday: post-it notes and minions

It always seems like I’m counting down until my birthday for forever… and then it’s here and over in the blink of an eye. It’s hard to believe that Kaelyn’s birthday is next in our little family. I guess I better start planning because it’ll be here before we know it!

My birthday started out with my favorite activity: running! I managed to get in 5 miles, and it felt even more refreshing than usual because it had been too cold (we’re talking severe wind chills and “real feels” in the negatives) to go outside for most of the week.

I came home from exercising and found that my mirrors had been attacked by post-it notes! Michael wrote my favorite “Happy, Happy Birthday” song on them and put them up in the shape of a heart. Sorry, but you totally get a bathroom-mirror selfie for this. How else was I supposed to get a picture of it? (and yes, I never went to BYU-I, but I’m wearing their shirt because my brother and sister-in-law sent it to me, and it’s pretty much the most comfortable tee ever.)

Michael put even more post-it notes on our bedroom mirror. This time, he wrote down some of the most significant things I’ve done for our family in this past year. It was pretty neat to see the influence I’ve had as a wife and mom through so many small actions.Other than that, we had a pretty normal day at home. We did a lot of laundry and cleaning up. Kaya spent a good part of the day singing “happy birthday” to me (and anyone else she could think of). She also warned me that I couldn’t stay in the (nice, warm) shower “all day” because then I would “miss my party”. Haha. Luckily for her, my shower didn’t last 10 hours.

I watched a friend’s kids for about an hour in the afternoon, and she surprised me with cupcakes from Bubblecakes! I’ve been dying to try these, and they definitely lived up to the hype.

Michael came home from work, and then he took Kaya out to pick up pizza and a cake for me. She was looking forward to this all day. She chose the perfect cookie cake, and even carried it all through Kroger.

Kaelyn and I stayed home, and while we were waiting, Katherine dropped by with a hug and a sweet surprise! I have some fantastic friends.

Kaelyn was tired of waiting for pizza, so she busted out the snack container I keep in the diaper bag and started chowing down. I tried to get her to make the same expression as me for a photo… I guess we were a little bored, because we made so many attempts that Google Photos automatically created this collage for me. Haha.

Nailed it.

Michael and Kaya returned home close to 7 pm, and it was finally time to party! I love cookies much more than cake, so this was perfect for me._MG_0942 I wanted my babies to help me blow out the candles again this year. Can we just take a moment to remember how little they were last year? (seriously, Kaelyn’s chubby cheeks. I just can’t handle the cuteness!)_MG_0945 It took a few tries, but we finally did it together!_MG_0951We ended the evening by renting “Minions” (Kaya’s choice) and snuggling up on the couch together. My arms were full, and so is my heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday.

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. 😉

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? 🙂

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! 🙂