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!

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!)

five on friday (09/16)

ONE. My Dad came up for a couple of days this week to help us work on our basement. He and Michael ripped out old baseboards, cut and installed new ones, and patched drywall. It was almost two full days-worth of hard work, and it’s still not completely done, but I am so grateful for the help and the fact that this project got started!

Kaya is in love with each of her grandparents (especially when they share candy with her- this time it was Whoppers)!_mg_5006 TWO. I picked up a used game of Candy Land for $2.50 a couple of weeks ago, so we’ve been having a good time playing together (and teaching Kaelyn her colors)! This was my favorite game as a child, so it’s extra fun to see my kids enjoying it._mg_5084 Somehow it seems like I always end up back at the Peppermint Forest whenever I’m close to winning. Kaya always reassures me, “It’s okay, Mommy, we can play again”. Aww._mg_5085

THREE. The young men at church made dinner for our young women on Tuesday night, and they were literally running to give each girl a rose as she came in. So sweet! We leaders each received a rose too, and I’ve been enjoying its fresh scent and beautiful color all week.

FOUR. The weather is changing, and we’ve had a fair mix of hot days and somewhat chilly mornings and evenings. We took a walk without the stroller (Michael had the car and it was accidentally left in the trunk, whoops!), and Kaelyn actually walked a whole mile on those little legs. My girls are getting so big!

FIVE. Speaking of growing up… someone has started wanting to sit on the potty this week! (And yes, this is a completely unrelated picture of her blowing bubbles, because one thing I won’t do is post pictures of my kids sitting on the toilet…) We haven’t had any luck yet, and honestly I’m not sure I’m up for potty training her a few weeks before baby comes, but this is a positive step in the right direction! Both of my girls have shown interest in potty training right around the same age, all on their own._mg_4998

Happy weekend!!!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

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!

my baby brother is all grown up

On May 7th, my no-so-little-anymore brother graduated from Radford University! He finished with two Bachelor’s degrees (for Accounting and Criminal Justice), and I was so proud to see him walk across the stage that I started to tear up a little._MG_1806I missed out on his high school graduation, so I was glad to be there for him this time. The ceremony was outdoors, and the weather was perfect… maybe even a little too perfect, because after sitting in the sun for a few more hours than we were expecting to, we each had a slight pink tinge to our skin. Oops.IMG_20160507_125902I stood up at the front, waiting to take this photo for probably close to an hour… Karl and Kaitlyn are good sports when it comes to my paparazzi-like tendencies._MG_1796We took a ton of photos afterward, too, as you might have expected. It was so nice to see my whole immediate family together!_MG_1812Seriously, I’m already missing this kid, but I know he’s moving on to bigger and better opportunities._MG_1808_MG_1820 _MG_1815 Since my Mom, Dad, Karl and I were all in the same place at the same time (and looking pretty sharp, I might add), I absolutely had to get this photo of the four of us. Kaya really wanted to be in it, too, and that was just fine by me._MG_1829My sunshine in her favorite rainbow dress! The kids were so well-behaved for the entire outing, despite being hungry and tired._MG_1826We all went to Subway downtown for lunch afterward. Someone couldn’t quite make it through the afternoon without passing out on Grandma (which she seems to do almost every time she visits)!

Congratulations Karl and Kaitlyn!!!

breakfast at grandma’s

We spent some time visiting with my parents when we went down to Richmond for my first official 10k race. We arrived on Friday night, enjoyed some pizza, and watched our girls get spoiled by their grandparents, per usual. My mom made them some belated Easter baskets, and Kaya and Kaelyn were so glad to have some new things to play with away from home.
_MG_1553 _MG_1557 _MG_1560 Chapstick… always a favorite for Kaelyn._MG_1564 These chapsticks actually taste like jellybeans, so it’s amazing the kids haven’t completely used (aka eaten) them. Kaya’s also been really interested in Winnie the Pooh lately, so she was excited for this tiny plush. Later, she enjoyed watching one of the old Pooh VHS tapes I had as a child._MG_1562 Grandma kisses!_MG_1567 _MG_1568 We went to the race on Saturday morning, and then spent the rest of the day relaxing and showing my parents “Despicable Me” for the first time.

Sunday morning, Kaelyn enjoyed some chocolate donuts (what other kind is even worth mentioning?) while my mom cooked a special breakfast. Those are some sleepy eyes!_MG_1572 French toast…_MG_1578This is what Michael and Kaya were doing while all the breakfast-making commotion was happening in the kitchen, right next door! Traveling really takes a lot out of all of us, especially the kids. They’re past the age when they’d nap in the car for most of the trip (even if we leave town right at nap time), and then our nap and bedtime schedule is almost nonexistent when we’re not at home. Hence, we had some exhausted kids._MG_1576Socks was begging for some bacon. Too bad he’s on a green-bean diet…_MG_1582 We finished our breakfast, headed to church, and made the drive home. It was a simple, but fun, weekend!_MG_1584

pre-christmas christmas

The weekend before Christmas, we headed out to visit my parents for an early holiday celebration. I’m actually glad I’m a bit late writing all of my Christmas-themed posts- why not relive the magic for just a little longer?

And yes, I really put one million pictures all in one post. (Or, you know, 27.) There are just too many good moments to leave out!

We arrived at their home early in the evening on Friday night, enjoyed spaghetti dinner (with my mom’s homemade meat sauce… now, that stuff is magic), and then played by the tree until my dad got off of work around 9 pm.

Kaya, Kaelyn, and Grandma Debbie had an indoor “snowball fight” with these plush white balls. Don’t be fooled by Kaya’s placid expression… it actually got pretty wild!_MG_0351

Everyone was excited to see that the stockings were already filled and just waiting to be opened!_MG_0361

_MG_0366I don’t remember if she was dancing or yelling “CHEESE!” at me here…_MG_0363_MG_0358

Kaelyn was SO into opening everything this year. She was ready to get started as soon as my mom brought all the gifts downstairs! I think she spent just as much time putting everything back in her stocking as she did taking it out._MG_0370

Kaya has really been loving penguins lately (just like Auntie Lelia)!
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Both girls received magic (glowing) snowballs… so yes, there were more snowball fights after this._MG_0375

Kaya’s big gift from my parents was a set of Calico Critters and their little cottage. She was the happiest little girl ever and loves her “bunny house”, as she calls it._MG_0380

So much excitement in one little girl!_MG_0401Kaelyn got some toddler-safe cars (since she always tries to eat Kaya’s small plastic ones) and couldn’t have been more content._MG_0386

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Matching snowman jammies! I love having two little girls._MG_0385

New polos for Daddy…
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And a new Hallmark singing snowman for our collection. I think this is my favorite one yet, since it sings “Deck the halls with lots of cookies”. Really, I can’t think of anything more appropriate for myself._MG_0402

My mom’s friend, Susan, gave the girls giraffe and elephant plushes, along with some books. Both my girls love all their animal pals so much._MG_0405

My mom got some new flats…_MG_0407

… and a “Grandma necklace” with both girls’ names on the pendants._MG_0411

And finally, we surprised my Dad with a Wii! I was waiting to give him this for several months, and it was so fun to finally see his reaction. He guessed that we were giving him some kind of tool because the box felt so heavy. I think he was definitely surprised! _MG_0417

Plus one of his favorite games, Animal Crossing._MG_0418

We went to bed soooo late that night, and we were up early the next morning. Kaya was very excited to make gingerbread cookies (for the second time this season) at Grandma’s house!_MG_0423

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This is probably one of my favorite pictures ever._MG_0429

Kaya is the most serious decorator of us all. Other than decorating cookies and playing the Wii, we took it easy for most of the day._MG_0431

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My mom made a fancy pot roast dinner (and even lit a candle… so extravagant)! _MG_0438We completely enjoyed ourselves and tried to go to bed early so that we could pack up and leave by 7:30 on Sunday morning in order to get to church.

This trip was the perfect start to our Christmas week! 🙂

spaghetti for thanksgiving dinner (2015)

On Wednesday afternoon, we headed out of town to visit my side of the family for Thanksgiving! You never know how your kids will do on long trips, but our girls did great with riding in the car for a few hours. We were the only ones staying at the house (my brother had already come and gone the day previous), so we basically took over every room with our luggage, blankets, pack and play, and assortment of other kid necessities.

I had an excellent 5-mile run on Thursday morning, and then ate a million pickles and olives while watching parts of the parade and waiting for the turkey to cook. Michael and Kaya (and her stuffed puppy, “Ruff”) enjoyed some back porch swinging instead of gorging themselves on sour, salty appetizers.
_MG_0016She’s so in love with “Ruff” lately and has been taking him almost everywhere, so he had to come on our Thanksgiving trip, of course. 🙂
11262015collage2 And we actually took a picture of the two of us! I love this guy so much.IMG_20151126_144216 My mom did all the cooking, and did an amazing job, as always._MG_0023 My dad carved the turkey, per tradition._MG_0024There were (almost) 10 pounds of mashed potatoes in that bowl!_MG_0026

We really missed Karl this year, but he was enjoying some crab legs and prime rib with Kaitlyn at her dad’s house!

The gravy is my favorite part…

Kaya sat down to dinner with us, told us what she wanted on her plate, and then… decided it was nap time. Traveling is tiring for little kids._MG_0030

Kaelyn went down for a nap even before my aunts arrived for dinner, and slept until the meal was already over and cleaned up.

I guess sleeping is more exciting than turkey. She didn’t even need to be trippin’ on tryptophan to nap the day away.

When she woke up, she had her first-ever Thanksgiving dinner (she was too little last year)! She seemed to like some of it, but mostly chewed on her spoon and made a mess.11262015collage3 Kaya woke up hungry, but opted for leftover spaghetti over turkey. _MG_0050 Auntie Joyce celebrated her 67th birthday on Thanksgiving, so we had a little party for her! This buttercream cake was too delicious._MG_0051 _MG_0053 Of course, there were plenty of grandma cuddles and kisses. She also spoiled them with new jammies and a book. I have some lucky girls.11262015collage1