five on friday (01/06)

Happy first Friday of 2017! It felt good to ease back into our regular routine this week. We’re due for our first snowstorm of the season this weekend, so I’m hoping it either passes over us or that we end up getting a big heap the kids can play in!

Here’s our week in a nutshell:

ONE. We finally decided to rip the built-in tables out of the basement. They were here when we moved in (8 months ago already!), and I never really loved them, but we had thought that if we ended up using the basement as an office, they would have been useful. This week, we settled on turning the current playroom into the office, and then making the basement into a playroom.

The room feels so much more open without those tables! Michael is spackling, priming, and painting that section of the wall, and then we will be officially finished with the basement.
TWO. The end of the holidays means that we’re back into our preschool routine, and we actually accomplished a lot this week. Honestly, life has felt like a bit of a juggling act since Nella was born, and we haven’t been as consistent as I would like (then again, we did continue to do schoolwork all last summer so that I could be flexible when the baby came).

Anyway, I’m feeling like it’s getting easier to balance it all, and I’m very proud of how well Kaya is doing. I recently went over a “kindergarten readiness list”, and out of about 80 items, I can check off all but a few for her. Not bad at all for only 4.25 years old!THREE. I joined in on a photography challenge this year- Click It Up a Notch’s #portraitsofme. It seemed like something new and fun to do (plus, I am notoriously good at not getting in photos, so this might be a good change). Kaya was eager to jump into a picture with me.She took this one herself! She’s already a pro at using my remote.FOUR. Sometimes, everyone wants to do tummy time with the baby! (Kaya and Kaelyn don’t remember that they both absolutely loathed this activity when they were babies…)FIVE. Nella started laughing this past week! As if I wasn’t already completely smitten with this girl, she had to go pull out her newest trick and melt my heart even more. Seriously.

Linking up here, here, and here today!

kaelyn’s 2-year portraits

It seems like I am always a little late getting Kaelyn’s yearly portraits done. Sometimes, I think it’s actually harder to do it when you’re the photographer- it’s too easy to break your own scheduled “appointment” because you’re tired or your kids are cranky.

Then again, it’s such a blessing to be able to wait for absolutely perfect lighting._mg_4878 We love this little girl so much, but honestly, she doesn’t love the camera. It’s hard to get her to look at it, nevermind smile at the same time! We were really lucky this day and ended up with some fantastic grins._mg_4870 _mg_4869 Daddy and Kaya get credit for making her laugh!_mg_4890 Love my little barefoot beauty._mg_4909 CHEESE!_mg_4913 And just because she makes some of the funniest little faces…_mg_4914 We love you, Kaelyn Grace!_mg_4920

a PinkBlush Maternity review!

I was so excited when PinkBlush contacted me to ask if I’d like to review an item from their maternity clothes line. I had already been looking for a dress to use for our family photos (without much luck), so their offer came at the perfect time!_mg_5058

Honestly, I had a hard time choosing something, just because they have so many seriously gorgeous maternity dresses. After much debate, flipping through dress pictures, and asking Michael for his opinion about a hundred times, I chose this dress! This is my first-ever maxi dress, so I was a little worried about the fit, but the company’s measurement chart is true-to-size. This dress couldn’t be any more perfect!_mg_5016

It’s made of a soft, high-quality fabric that will stand up to a lot of wear- and let’s be honest here, I’m going to wear it as many times as I can before this baby comes (although I think it will work well as a nursing-friendly dress, too)!_mg_5052

The dress is lightweight and I never once felt hot wearing it, despite being outside when it was around 80 degrees._mg_5060

I love the vibrant colors and how easy it was to coordinate my girls’ outfits with mine!_mg_5079

This dress is fancy enough for family pictures, yet still comfortable enough to wear to church. I love feeling good in what I’m wearing, especially with this (sometimes awkward) big pregnant belly!

Thanks PinkBlush!

labor day weekend 2016

Labor Day weekend- when we celebrate working by not working! Or, in our case, Michael didn’t have to go to work, but we accomplished a bunch of projects at home. Our house is not a fixer-upper by any means, but I’ve still been surprised by how many small things we need to fix or want to change. We are always doing something, and I suspect we will never truly be done.

We kicked off the weekend with some juicy watermelon from my Young Women president! Kaelyn can eat a couple slices in one sitting, and I was surprised that Kaya willingly tried some. Mmmm!

On Saturday morning, Michael started putting together the girls’ furniture, only to discover that their dresser came without instructions! Meanwhile, he built their bunk beds (and we’re still waiting to hear back from the manufacturer about the dresser)!_MG_4840

Kaya begged and begged to sleep in her new bed, so we were sure to have it all put together by bedtime. I LOVE how they both screamed “yay! yay!” as soon as they saw it.

I’ve been telling Kaelyn she would be getting a big girl bed soon, but I couldn’t have predicted how truly happy she would be!_MG_4848 This rocking chair is supposed to go in the baby’s room, but it’s actually been pretty nice to have it in their room for story time! We always read a book before nap and bed time._MG_4855On Monday, we bought a few cans of paint (which was actually great timing, since Behr paint has a $10 rebate per gallon through today)! Michael painted over the yellow ceiling in the stairwell, and started going over the primer on the left wall. This week, we’ll fix the drywall downstairs, install new baseboards, and finish the painting._MG_4863 On Monday night, Michael spread some new mulch, while I took a few updated portraits of Kaya and Kaelyn. The lighting was dreamy, and they were both surprisingly cooperative! Kaelyn didn’t want to wear shoes, and I’m actually glad- I love seeing those tiny toes wiggling in the photos. We ended up with a few great shots that I can’t wait to put on the wall!_MG_4898

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.
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five on friday (07/22)

ONE. We’ve been soaking up our time at the pool this week (and unfortunately, my shoulders have soaked up a little too much sun… it’s hard to sunscreen your own back)! Humidity has ranged from 97-100% every day, so going swimming is a great break from the heat. These two sweeties love playing together and would stay at the pool all day long if I let them.

Kaya loves “swimming” in the big pool. Two-foot-deep water probably seems as vast as the ocean to her right now!

Kaelyn loves to practice “kicking” in the water while I hold her and spin her around, but she spends most of her time pouring water in and out of her buckets.

TWO. Suddenly, my baby seems so grown up. She finally figured out how to blow real bubbles (instead of just putting her mouth on the wand), and even insisted on using the big-kid swing instead of the baby one yesterday. As of these past couple of days, we’re also really close to being completely done with nursing. Seriously… all these milestones all at once!

THREE. We did the letter “i” for preschool this week, so we’ve enjoyed a lot of ice cream-themed crafts and some “ice science“. They absolutely loved this activity, and I really love seeing my kids learn.

_MG_4144 FOUR. Photography business has been so good this summer. I’m feeling really blessed (especially with the upcoming expenses associated with having a new baby soon), and I’m excited to see where my business might be six months or a year from now. My priority in this stage of life is being the best mom I can be to my kids, but I do enjoy using my talents and being able to do something I really love on the side.

Michael also took an updated headshot for me. He’s getting pretty good with the camera, too!_MG_4114-2 - Copy

FIVE. All this swimming, playing, learning, and working wears us out fast! Kaelyn had a hard time staying awake on the way home from the pool, and when I got her out of her seat, she rested her head on me and wrapped her little arm around my neck. I live for these small moments.

Hopefully, we all get some good rest this weekend, because this is what it’s been looking like around here! (Kaya is totally pretending, although she has been tired, but Kaelyn was legitimately asleep in this picture!)

Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday: my mini-photographer, flowers, and a date

Happy Friday!!!

ONE. I am apparently raising a mini-photographer! It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me well, but I just can’t get over how Kaya wants to take pictures all the time. She totally plays peek-a-boo and waves to get Kaelyn to look at the camera and it’s hilarious._MG_7303 TWO. When flowers are on sale, it’s totally cool to buy them for yourself, right? For $2.50, I couldn’t pass these up. I figured they’d last a day or two (since they were already on “manager’s special”, a.k.a. predestined to die soon), but they are still going strong after 5 days! Mmmm, this is definitely one of my favorite scents!_MG_7319

THREE. Kaya and I had our first-ever mommy-daughter date this week! I took her to Sweet Frog, bought her way too much ice cream, and just enjoyed having one-on-one time with my first baby. She was so excited to put m&ms, Reese’s Pieces, chocolate chips, and this giant gummy frog on her froyo… until we sat down to eat and she decided that the frog was now super scary. More gummy frogs for me!FOUR. I need some book suggestions! It seems like every book I choose lately takes a turn for the worse and has inappropriate romantic-like stuff in it… and I don’t want to read any of that, so I just quit and have to keep finding something new. What are some squeaky-clean fiction novels you love?

FIVE. Love this quote from our most recent general conference:20150501030650

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Linking up with April!

weekend band

Our weekend was jam-packed with activities. Busy, productive, and fun are the three words that seem to describe our lives pretty well right now!

We kicked off our Friday with a bang- literally, with Kaya “drumming” on her tray at lunchtime. Kaelyn thought it was the most hilarious thing ever, and I of course, had to take a video. I accidentally took a picture while I was recording, but I’m so glad I did, because their happy faces are just too adorable.Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Kaya says “freeze!” to make the music stop!

Kaelyn had a hard time falling asleep for her nap on Friday, so I ended up holding her while she slept. She woke up so happy (which is not true for when she naps alone; she usually wakes up crying), and I didn’t mind the extra cuddles. Up until a couple months ago, this is what we did every afternoon. I knew I would miss it, and I was right.Processed with VSCOcam with s1 presetSaturday morning was a 5.22-mile run for me, and a 38-mile bike ride for Michael! We met up with Michael’s grandpa and two of his cousins for lunch, and then I headed off for an engagement photoshoot in the early evening. After a week of clouds and rain, we had gorgeous weather and some perfect lighting!_MG_7157Happy Tuesday!

five on friday: cabin fever, awesome runs, and a photography workshop

We’ve had a bit of cabin fever over here all week… even getting out to go to the grocery store this morning seemed like so much fun! So today, I’m counting all the small blessings we’ve had this week:

ONE. Lelia and Jeff got to spend most of Sunday with us! It’s been so cold that a pipe burst at our chapel, so there were no church meetings. We had a relaxing family day. Have I mentioned how much I love seeing my babies love their aunts and uncles?
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TWO. I taught a (very basic) photography workshop for our Young Women on Tuesday night and had so much fun doing it! I am usually so nervous to stand up in front of a group and talk, but teaching about my passion comes so easily to me. I’m glad I was able share a little of what I love with our girls! At the end, I gave them a photo scavenger hunt to complete, which resulted in a whole lot of craziness and laughter.photoworkshopslide

THREE. We had a few more inches of snow Wednesday night into Thursday morning, so there was no rush to leave the house… which meant that I could snuggle my littlest cutie in bed and just enjoy her. I love our one-on-one time. Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

FOUR. I am so grateful for clear(er) roads and running paths this week! It was hard to not go out due to the weather last week, so I appreciated my runs even more this week. I also had a couple of fast (for me) runs, which made me feel great!run02272015

FIVE. Kaya’s had her big-girl bed for about a year now, and most nights, she still climbs out and sleeps by the baby gate. Her bed has to be more comfortable than the floor! Also, how cute is her little hand holding “Panda”? I love her love for her stuffed animals.Processed with VSCOcam

Linking up with Christina and friends today!

currently…

Feeling… physically so much better this week than last! I had either a stomach bug or food poisoning that brought on the worst abdominal pain I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime. I seriously wondered if one of my organs was about to explode… but all I could worry about was how I was going to feed my baby when I could hardly sit down! We ended up going to the urgent care office covered by our insurance to get checked out. Thankfully, it was nothing serious!

Kaya got to spend the morning with her BFF Mia while we were there! They had a pajama party and Katherine sent me all sorts of adorable pictures and videos of them together. 🙂

Getting ready… to visit with family for Thanksgiving in just two days!!! I seriously don’t even know how the holiday season is already upon us. I’m definitely looking forward to my mom’s home-cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Mmmm.

Feeling (the good kind of) busy… with all the amazing family photoshoots I’ve done in the past month! I’ve had about one per week and it’s just the right amount of work to balance with family time. Fall is just so beautiful, and I’m glad I’m able to capture these memories for so many of my dear friends!

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Dreaming… about Christmas morning! I know there’s still an entire month left to wait, and I don’t want to wish away all the festive family time we’re sure to enjoy between now and then… but Kaya’s “big” gift has been ordered and I just keep imagining her excitement!

Planning… my Christmas cookie delivery for this year! And by planning, I really mean that I’ve pinned about a million adorably delicious ideas on Pinterest and haven’t made any decisions yet. It’s one of my favorite traditions for sure!

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Wishing…
you a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂