the best teammate (8 years)

I’ve heard the quote, “Life is a team sport” various times, but today, on our anniversary, it’s the adage that keeps running through my mind.

Eight years ago, we became a team. I’d choose Michael a million times over, and I’m so thankful to call him my sweetheart forever.

I honestly couldn’t dream up a better teammate. He deals with all my shenanigans, tolerates my love of country music, and picks up the pieces when I fall apart. He encourages me to do better, work harder, and push myself to try new things. He never judges and is always there to help me, no matter what I need.

It’s amazing to me that in eight short years, we’ve grown into a family of five. A lot has changed in the time since we married, but the fact that Michael is my best friend and my favorite person to hang out with is only more true.

And just for fun, here’s our marriage, so far, by the numbers:

2 apartments. 1 house.
3 cars.
7 jobs.
2 little self-starter businesses.
3 incredible baby girls.
2 dogs. 4 guinea pigs.
2,920 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
5,840 bowls of ice cream.
Thousands upon thousands of photographs to remember it all.

Happy Anniversary, Bestie! I love you.

five on friday (05/19)

It’s summer!!!

Ok, technically it’s not summer yet. But the weather has been glorious; public school kids get out for summer vacation next week, and we’ve been playing outside most mornings and saving our school lessons for later. Sunshine makes us a very happy bunch.

ONE. Kaya climbed her first trees this week (with a little help from me)! She loved sitting up there and being able to see everything below her, although she was terrified every time she saw an ant crawl past.

TWO. We actually worked on our garden this week! We put some seeds in the ground, and I’m hoping we get something out of them. I know we probably should have started earlier, but this is still a huge learning process for me, and I will be thrilled if we get any veggies at all. Kaelyn helped rake the soil before we sowed anything. When she took a break to go help Daddy in the front yard, she said, “No touch my garden, okay?” For the rest of the week, both girls were pretty obsessed with watering the seeds with their little toy watering can. Hey, whatever keeps them occupied!THREE. If you’re going to garden, you better hope that Google auto-awesomes a hilarious GIF about it for you afterward. I think I cracked up at this for five minutes straight when I first saw it (although it was pretty late at night, so that might’ve had something to do with it)…

FOUR. Whenever I go to the grocery store without my older girls, I love to bring home something to surprise them. I don’t do it every time, and the surprise has ranged from grape tomatoes (Kaya’s favorite) to mini donuts. This week, I saw freezie pops there, and I just had to get some.These were one of my favorite summer treats as a little girl, and I love sharing them with my girls.FIVE. No ice pops for these sweet, sleepy cheeks……but she’s the happiest, sweetest little angel, just patiently watching while we do all these things in the yard.And of course, we’re all so glad when daddy gets home! 🙂

Happy Friday!
Linking up here, here, and here today!

tour de cure (2017)

At the end of April, Michael completed his seventh Tour de Cure bike race! I almost can’t believe he’s been doing this for so long already, but I’m still just as proud of him as ever for helping to raise money for diabetes research.

This year, he did the 65-mile loop, and he got to ride along with Lelia’s mom, Mary!The girls and I ended up staying home again this year (I think we’ve only actually been to two of these races in the past five years, so we don’t really have the best track record)… I always want to go and be there to support him, but it is a long car ride for the kids, who were already unhappy about taking another “big” trip when we originally told them about it. We decided it would be so much easier for Michael to go on his own- he could drive there faster without having to make so many stops, and he’d be able to get a little more sleep the night before the race without having kids there to wake him up. We definitely missed him though.
Thankfully, he took pictures along the way for me!It was a super hot day (probably the warmest of 2017 thus far)! Michael wasn’t able to get much training done before this year’s race (he did only two rides in the weeks leading up to it), so I was a little worried about him in the heat. Thankfully, they have aid stations all along the way, and he was just fine.
He caught up with his mom just before the finish line! This year had the most participants from our family! Lelia’s mom posted this picture on Facebook and I had to share it here too. Michael, his Aunt Liesl, Grandma Gina, and Mary are all hardcore! While Daddy was gone, we enjoyed the warm weather by taking the kiddie pool out for the first time this season! (But seriously, when did Kaya’s legs get so long?!) She loves splashing down into the water, but hates getting any of it on her face. It makes for an interesting experience!Kaelyn didn’t like sliding, so she just played in the pool.

Michael came home late on Saturday night, so everyone was very happy to see him when they woke up on Sunday!

five on friday (05/05)

ONE. What do you do when it’s almost bedtime, everyone is getting cranky, and Daddy is out mowing the lawn? Take everyone outside for some fresh air and bubble fun! Besides all the pollen (thankfully I’m the only one in the family with allergies, let’s hope it stays that way), it was an absolutely perfect evening to spend outside.Kaya was trying to catch bubbles on her tongue…

I love cuddling up with this snugly little baby and watching my big kids play together.

TWO. We had our last session of Kangaroo Kids this week! I spent extra time bouncing around with the girls, and I let them take turns sitting on my lap to go down the giant inflatable slide (and all three of us even went together for a few runs)! They think it’s the best thing ever when I play with them. I love it.

Kaya really loves this giant bubble machine…

THREE. We brought the princess tent back out for the first time since we moved to our house. Apparently, Kaya and Kaelyn were doing their “visiting teaching” in there this morning! I told them to say, “Olaf!” for this picture, and I love the expression I got out of Kaelyn!

FOUR. I had my first-ever visit to the chiropractor this week. I’ve had pain and soreness in my hips ever since Nella was born, and unlike after my previous pregnancies, it just wasn’t going away on its own. I’d be hurting after a run, when sitting in certain positions, and even turning over at night when sleeping. I decided to go see what could be done about it, and I’m so glad I did, because after a few adjustments, I feel almost brand new.

As a mom, I enjoy any “me time” I can get, even if it’s just going to a doctor appointment. I might have indulged in some frozen yogurt afterward, just because I knew I wouldn’t have to share with anyone. 😉

FIVE. Someone loves it when Daddy “eats” her tummy… and I love how much they love each other.Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

easter bunnies, eggs, and baskets

We didn’t have a big Easter celebration this year, mostly because I really wanted to keep that Sunday truly focused on Christ and the real meaning of the holiday. We taught our girls some of the stories about Jesus during the last week of his life (I really liked using these lessons as a basis for ideas, and these Bible videos are a great supplement). They’ve loved hearing the lessons just as much as I’ve loved teaching them.

In an effort to keep things simple, I didn’t put together Easter baskets this year, but I did let them each choose a chocolate bunny at the store on the Monday after Easter (hello clearance)! Kaelyn was ready to eat as much of it as she could before I could say, “let’s put it away and save some for later”, but Kaya sobbed and sobbed that her bunny was going to disappear if she ate him. She’s a truly tender-hearted animal lover.  We did have a small Easter egg hunt for family night. They were both so good at finding the eggs that I think I’m going to have to make it a lot harder next year!Have you ever seen anyone so excited about jellybeans?Grandma Debbie also sent some Easter surprises!
Kaya always gets (and adores) cats… …and Kaelyn always receives puppies (who like to give pretend kisses, apparently)! PEEPS!Nella had no idea what was going on, but she did get a cute singing lightning bug, so she was happy. Happy first Easter, Nella!

spring birdhouses

Last year, around Easter time, we made these cute little graham cracker birdhouses as part of our craft/snack for our co-op preschool. I thought it would be so much fun to do it again, but as a family this time! This was our Monday-night activity this past week, and it was a big hit. How could anything that involves frosting and graham crackers not be popular with kids four and under? Kaelyn was pretty much obsessed with trying to sneakily eat the frosting.She wasn’t a little crazy from the sugar at all
Kaelyn and Daddy collaborated on the same birdhouse at first, since she’s still a little too small to really get it started on her own. This is real teamwork! She did add her own Peeps and some Cadbury eggs, and she was so happy with how her house turned out! Michael made his own later on, complete with a wreath over the entrance. Classy. Kaya needed a little help with getting the walls up, but this design was all her own. She looked at mine for basic inspiration and then added her own finishing touches. Kaya told me that her marshmallow Peeps had a lot of kids… as you can see, they didn’t all fit in the house! I love that Kaelyn added a half-unwrapped Starburst to hers… …and then we have Michael’s house, complete with chocolate “bird poop” next to the Peep, as described by him.

We’re all a little crazy, but I really love these simple family moments together.

five on friday (04/28)

It’s the final Friday of April… what?! We’re already moving past spring into summer, and I can’t believe how the time is flying by.

ONE. We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain here for the past week and half, so when the sun finally came out again, we were more than willing to run outside! This little princess is the calmest baby. She’s happy to just sit in the stroller and watch everyone else play or work. That little tongue!

TWO. Between Michael being out of town and then all the rain, there wasn’t an ideal time to cut the grass this week, so our yard was starting to look a bit like a jungle. Michael was working late on Wednesday night, so I decided to mow the lawn as a surprise for him. This was my first time ever mowing the whole thing on my own, and I won’t tell you how long it actually took me to finish… but Michael was so happy and I felt pretty accomplished for getting it done. Plus, this totally counts as cross-training for my half marathon, right? Kaya took the picture- she’s getting good!

THREE. Speaking of my half marathon… Overall, I’m still feeling really pumped up and excited about it, and training is going well. I ran nine miles this morning, which is my furthest-ever distance. Running greater distances makes me want to nap more, and my appetite is a lot larger, too. #runallthemiles #takeallthenaps #eatallthefood

Needless to say, I was pretty happy when we all went out for Chinese after my long run last week! We’ve been trying to have one “family date” out for dinner each month, and it’s really been fun for all of us.

Don’t be fooled by all that chicken on her plate… Kaelyn pretty much gorges herself on Jello every time. Good thing she’s still only two and free!

FOUR. Anytime we go anywhere, Kaelyn loves pretending to drive… …and if you can’t drive the real car, a pretend one is a good substitute! Both girls love getting this grocery cart at Kroger. I’ll admit, it makes running errands a lot more fun!

FIVE. When your dog starts to shake off in the middle of you snapping a photo… haha!Linking up here, here, and here today!

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!

five on friday (04/14)

It’s already evening, but I just can’t let a Friday go by without listing some of my favorite moments from the week! I basically feel like I have four kids now (puppy included), so I just have to write whenever I can, even if it’s at odd times of the day. I’m always so grateful that I take the time to do this, though, because without these little blurbs about our everyday lives, I forget so many of the little details.

ONE. The weather has been gorgeous all week long, so we’ve been walking, playing at the playground, climbing rocks, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and using the water table again. Being in the sunshine automatically lifts our spirits so much! Kaya drew our family! I absolutely love her little people and that sweet heart she made at the start of the lineup.

What’s better than being able to work outside with a sweet baby on your lap?

TWO. I almost feel like Scout needs her own series of blog posts, titled “goofy things my dog does”. The best way to use your dog bed is to fold it in half, and then rest with your head under it, obviously.While Michael is working on one side of the yard, Scout’s trying to dig holes on the other side……but when she’s not getting into something, she’s busy snuggling with anyone who will sit with her. We really love having this little puppy in our family.THREE. One benefit of doing preschool at home is that we can do our lessons all cuddled up together, if we like. I love any reason to snuggle with these too-grown-up girls of mine.And we can take a break to take silly pictures together…
FOUR. This big kid is officially out of the high chair and sitting in a booster seat at the table! I love having her so much closer to us at mealtime.FIVE. Because there weren’t enough chubby cheeks in this post…  Happy Easter weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

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!