five on friday (04/21)

Whew! This has been a long, tiring week, and I’m so excited to get the weekend started!

ONE. This nerdy guy (and I say that as a compliment, because he loves his work, and I love that he enjoys what he does) headed to Austin, Texas, this week for Docker’s big developer conference. He had such a great time, but we most definitely missed him. When we would talk on the phone with him and then hang up, Kaya would cry, “Talking to Daddy makes me miss him even more!” Me too, kid. I feel a little lost when my best friend isn’t here.

TWO. Thankfully, Michael’s mom came up to help out and spend some time with us this week while he was gone. I was so grateful for an extra pair of hands, and that she could watch the kids so I could still have some time to myself to go running. We all love Grandma!

We did a lot of fun things with her, including reading at the library, swinging at the park, doing puzzles, visiting the vet, and going to Kangaroo Kids! I think we tired ourselves out. She also helped me rake and pull all the weeds in our garden so I can get some vegetable plants started here soon!

THREE. The teachers at Kangaroo Kids usually pull a new and different activity out of the closet each week, and this week, it was these jumping balls! Riding around on these was one of my favorite things to do in gym class in elementary school, but I had completely forgotten about them. Kaya and Kaelyn loved them just as much as I always did!

I found out they make them in adult size… can you imagine me hopping around my house all day long?

FOUR. This sweet baby girl has had a rough week. She went to the doctor for her shots, which always make her feel crummy for about a week, but then she came down with her very first cold on top of that. She’s been so congested, which makes nursing and sleeping a little difficult.On Wednesday, we had the roughest night of sleep since the day we brought her home from the hospital. I was so grateful my mom-in-law was there to hold her for a couple of hours so that I could get some sleep after being awake most of the night.

FIVE. Favorite Dollar Tree purchase ever- whale bubble machines! These have been so much fun! Scout wasn’t quite sure what to think of the bubbles!

Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

lelia’s baby shower

Two weekends ago, we took a little road trip to attend Lelia’s baby shower. As a bonus surprise, my brother and sister-in-law, Kevin and Tori, flew to Virginia from Utah the night before the party. Kevin came out here for a job interview, but I’ll take any reason to spend time with my entire extended family.

I’m so glad that we could have all the sisters-in-law and our mom-in-law together at the shower! These are some truly amazing ladies. One of Lelia’s friends from church put this all together. The decorations were adorable and the games were truly fun. I even won the baby boy name race game (whoever can list a boy name for every letter of the alphabet the fastest wins… hello “Yusef!”, haha)! Everyone knows what Lelia likes pretty well: penguin jammies……a “this baby needs a pony” onesie in Hokie colors…
…and a lot of baby dinosaurs! (“Baby Dinosaur” was Lelia’s nickname when she lived with Michael and me for one semester of college, so it’s only appropriate that her little guy has some dinosaur outfits!) I’m so grateful that we could be there to celebrate Lelia and her sweet baby boy. I can’t wait to meet him in just about two months!

christmastown, cousins, and crazies

The Christmas posts just never seem to end around here, right? Thankfully, it’s because we had so many family members to visit and enjoy the season with this past holiday.

A few days after celebrating Christmas at home, we headed down to visit Michael’s side of the family! Kevin and Tori flew in from Utah- it had been about a year and a half since we last saw them! We had never met our nephew Jack before, so needless to say, we were pretty excited!

I instantly fell in love with Jack (sweet sweet baby boy!), and my girls really loved playing with him, too. It was so fun to finally see the cousins together! Of course, I also had to get pictures of everyone meeting Nella! 🙂
And yes, there were plenty of Grandma cuddles for her, too.Kaya enjoyed some snuggling with Auntie Lelia!There were some presents, of course… … including a rainbow hat made by Grandma!This was the first time the older girls have slept in the same bed. At first, we heard some complaints of “she’s touching me!” and “she’s taking my animals!”, but eventually, they settled down and slept soundly.On the second day of our visit, we headed to Busch Gardens Christmastown! The last time we were there, Kaya was just 3 months old! It’s crazy how quickly everything changes with kids.
We wore our new hats made by my mom-in-law!I always love admiring the decorations. It almost feels like a world away from this one, made entirely of glowing lights and Christmas spirit.Kaya was old enough to ride the mini roller coaster this year! She was so excited when they pulled out of the station, and I knew she’d return either completely petrified or absolutely elated. Thankfully, she had the time of her life and even asked to go on it again! Seeing her so happy was the highlight of the trip for me, although hearing Michael, Kevin, and Jeff screaming all through the ride was pretty fun, too.Kaelyn was too little to ride most of the attractions, so we let her walk around and explore the brightly-lit trees for a bit.She did get to join everyone on this mini Mach Tower ride! I wish I had a better photo, but it was so dark that I couldn’t get my camera to focus. Good picture or not, these kids had a blast.I feel like I haven’t been able to go on rides for forever (being pregnant with three babies in four years will do that to you!), so it was extra-fun for me to join Grandpa Skip and Kaya on the bumper cars and flying swings. When everyone else headed to the train, Dad and I went on my all-time favorite ride. Busch Gardens calls it “Le Catapult”, but I think it has other names at different parks.Of course, we went to the Festhaus to warm up, eat dinner, and nurse the baby. It’s always nice to get a little break from the cold.
The girls really enjoyed watching the performance inside!On our last afternoon together, we took a family picture. I love having everyone all together (and let’s face it, I really lucked out and got some amazing in-laws).When we got home, they wanted a brother picture…… which quickly turned into chaos…… and… sorority squats? What?!And apparently, it only takes one minute of me not paying attention for my relatives to steal my phone and fill it up with a million surprise photos before we left that evening. I love these crazies!

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!

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.

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!

fourth of july weekend 2016

I know… how long ago was the Fourth of July? I’m always behind, but these are things I don’t want to forget, so here we go!

We kicked off the long weekend in the best way possible on Friday morning- with some pool time! My girls love playing with their buckets and rubber ducks and would probably do it all day long if we could. Of course, they do love taking a little break to have lunch in the shade.

This little goofball wearing my sunglasses still cracks me up!IMG_20160701_125329-01 On Saturday morning, I enjoyed an awesome 7.5-mile run. I really felt great the entire time, which I especially relish these days- you just never know when pregnancy is going to throw you an achy ligament or make it feel like you need to pee for 5 miles.IMG_20160702_100157-01 Mom and Dad Irwin arrived right around noon! Dad and Michael immediately started work on some house projects, including adding new posts to the deck! They finished it in just a few hours. I was both grateful and impressed!_MG_3450 Because they couldn’t make it up for Kaelyn’s birthday party the previous weekend, they had a few gifts to give her. Everyone gets excited about Daniel Tiger books!_MG_3458 _MG_3459 These Duplos were also a big hit. I’m honestly impressed with the things my little girls can build!_MG_3461 Sunday afternoon brought naps and more block-building fun…_MG_3468 … and we somehow managed to convince Michael to make some square shooter cookies!_MG_3470Grandma Gina and I played “Trouble” with the girls… but it might have been more trouble than it was worth (see what I did there?) because Kaelyn kept moving the pieces. It was more like a game of “Remember Where All Your Pieces Are, Because They Will Most Definitely Be Moved”! Haha.
_MG_3473 There were daddy-daughter-granddaughter (and guinea pig!) cuddles, along with lots of Wii-playing! 20160703_190111-02 On Monday morning, we got to sleep in until about 7:30! Grandpa Skip loved waking up to a cute little cuddlebug… 🙂_MG_3478 Michael’s parents had to leave around lunchtime to head back home, so we spent the rest of the day enjoying time as just the four of us. Grandma Gina gave the girls these pinwheels (their first ones ever!), so they had a whole lot of fun getting them to spin. Grandma Debbie gave them some matching patriotic shirts, so I think we pretty much mastered American festiveness on the 4th!_MG_3497 _MG_3499 We were invited to a barbecue by some church friends, so after naptime, we headed over there. The weather was on-and-off rainy, so we probably sat outside for .0005 seconds before we had to go in to finish our meal.IMG_20160704_173652She acted grumpy about the food on her plate, but then proceeded to eat two hotdogs. Ah, two year olds.
IMG_20160704_173658Have you ever seen someone more excited about eating in a camping chair?
IMG_20160704_174545 After the barbecue, we headed out to the town fireworks show. We wondered if it would be canceled due to the potential for severe thunderstorms that night, but thankfully, the rain held off until the very end._MG_3507 I surprised the kids with glowsticks (which they absolutely loved) and sparklers (which they were slightly terrified of) while we waited for the show to start!_MG_3509 Kaya actually held one for a few seconds, but overall, she didn’t want to be anywhere near them once they were lit._MG_3510 My intentions were to enjoy the fireworks without taking too many pictures, and I thought I did better at that this year, until I realized how many fireworks photos I have to share. The photography nerd in me just can’t help myself.

Both girls were a little apprehensive of the loud booming at first, but as long as they were snuggled up to us, they were enjoying it.07042016_1The show finished right before a tremendous thunderstorm blew through. We were running to our car and ended up completely soaked to the bone by the time we got there! I’m grateful for the the time we could spend as a family, enjoying the many freedoms we have in this country. We truly are blessed.

one million visitors

We’ve had a whole lot of visitors since we moved into our new home- not quite one million, but we’ve enjoyed hosting both sides of our families. It’s also been nice actually having a real guest room for them to sleep in!

My dad came up for a few days before Karl’s graduation to work on some house projects (repairing shelves, getting the dryer working, sanding down closet doors, and replacing all the locks were some of the things he did). Karl came over to hang out and help, too!_MG_1765 My mom arrived the day before graduation. The girls are always SO excited to see her! It probably doesn’t hurt that she always brings them some sort of surprise- this time it was sneakers for Kaelyn and new socks for Kaya._MG_1772 _MG_1778 Jeff and Lelia came to stay with us the next weekend! They were going to their friend’s vet school graduation, so in between those festivities, we got to spend some time with them. Lelia and I had a great 5.6-mile run together, and of course, their favorite nieces were more than happy to cuddle and give kisses._MG_2101My mom and dad-in-law stopped for a quick visit as they drove through here on their way home from Utah! _MG_2390We cooked breakfast for dinner and went on a walk to the playground.
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It’s been a busy month, but we’re so glad we have a fantastic family who wants to visit and spend time with us. We can’t wait to see them all again in just a few weeks for Kaelyn’s birthday party!

moving: the process (aka, we made a giant mess)

As of tomorrow, we moved exactly one month ago! This has possibly been the busiest month of our lives, but we are getting settled in and really enjoying having our own home!

Of course, I couldn’t let such a monumental event happen without sharing photos of the biggest mess we’ve ever made. Packing and unpacking seem to turn everything into a disaster zone…

… and you also find some pretty funny things in the process, like this Halloween wig!_MG_1736 We didn’t get serious about packing up until about a week before the move, mostly because we were just going a short distance. The den became the official “box storage room”…IMG_20160502_001525 … but soon enough, the whole apartment looked like this! Like I said, it was the biggest humble jumble of our things I’ve ever seen._MG_1740 We rented a U-haul truck to make this a one-trip, easy process. I think our truck was 24 feet long… and I was shocked when we filled every inch of it. I thought for sure we’d have extra space!_MG_1743 The girls loved climbing up in the cab with Daddy once he got it home and parked!_MG_1749My mom-in-law came up for most of the week and helped with everything: packing, cleaning, moving furniture, unpacking, entertaining kids… you name it, she did it. I am so grateful for her help and how willing she always is to serve others._MG_1755We loaded up the truck right around 5 pm on a Tuesday, and so many people from church showed up to help us! We had somewhere around 30 people who came, so we had the truck filled, driven over to the new house, and unloaded all in under two hours. Everyone enjoyed some pizza afterward, and I was thankful that the process went so quickly!_MG_1757My mom-in-law helped a ton with unpacking at the new house. Kaelyn wanted to be a big helper, too, so she started putting things in the pantry!_MG_1762 _MG_1759 Mom Irwin and I cleaned up the old apartment on the following Thursday morning. Together, it took us about 3 hours to vacuum, shampoo carpets, and scrub everything down. Once again, I was so glad to have help- it would have taken me at least twice as much time had I done it alone. My girls were angels, just playing with a random bouncy ball that was left behind, as well as reading a couple of books.IMG_20160514_153112Of course, I’m grateful that we could move on to somewhere bigger and better, but looking at these pictures of our empty apartment still tugs at my heart a little. That tiny kitchen where I made so many meals for our family, perfected my baking skills, and bonded with the people who helped me create those things will always hold special memories for me.
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When we first moved in to our apartment 5 years ago, it seemed enormous. And it was- it was just the two of us, and we didn’t have much furniture to fill it. We grew our family there. It’s where we brought two sweet babies home, and watched them grow, explore, and learn so much.IMG_20160514_153117

Here’s to another chapter and making new memories in our new place!