five on friday (03/31)

ONE. Spring is finally here and we have been soaking it all in! For family night this week, we headed to the pond for a picnic and to feed the ducks. It’s so exciting to eat your sandwich outside!

Nella might be too little for a sandwich, but she was content to just sit and take in her surroundings. This girl is never short on smiles!

TWO. We’re officially that family with so many little kids that we drive the equivalent of a bus for a stroller. For months, I dragged my feet on upgrading, because it seemed a little excessive to have such a big stroller, but after combining a sale with a coupon, I decided to just go for it. I like to take relatively long walks, and the truth is that Kaya gets tired and can’t make it on foot the entire way. It’s been super nice having a seat that she can easily get in and out of as she pleases.

Nella really likes it too! She can (mostly) sit up and ride without the car seat, and she loves excitedly kicking her feet as she sees the world around her.
After a two-week hiatus, we started another round of Kangaroo​ Kids! My girls were so excited to jump, slide, and run through obstacles again. Even more impressively, they do it all with an armful of rubber duckies!

FOUR. We’ve been enjoying (and adjusting to) life with a little puppy! Scout is settling in and figuring everything out. Apparently, if you can’t reach your water bowl, it’s acceptable to stand in your food bowl.

One day we’re going to look at this picture and be amazed that she was small enough to fit under the chair!

FIVE. Sometimes it’s a little crazy taking care of all these little people, but once in a while, we’ll have a moment that feels perfect and makes all the hard work worth it. Our family walk and time spent at the playground this week was just that.

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.

five on friday (09/30)

ONE. We made our very first pumpkin bread of the season this morning! Kaelyn was very excited to help (i.e. dump flour and spices out of the bowl and onto the counter), and it turned out tasting just as heavenly as ever. There’s just something about a rainy morning and the scent of warm pumpkin that make it really feel like fall. This little sweetie couldn’t get enough of licking the batter!

TWO. Speaking of pumpkins, the girls have painted mini ones twice now. I saw some at Food Lion and decided to surprise them, and they eagerly decorated them. We set them outside to dry… and then it rained, and all their hard work was erased. Luckily, they were excited that they had the chance to do it again, instead of being sad that their masterpieces were destroyed.

Can you tell what Kaelyn’s favorite color is? _mg_5388

THREE. Sometimes, Michael will randomly snap a picture of the girls when he’s taking my weekly belly picture, and lately, I’ve been surprised with some really cute ones when I upload photos from my memory card. Kaya has been so excited to wear the new “button jacket” (denim jacket) that she got for her birthday!_mg_5407FOUR. My friend, Bianca, surprised Kaya with some kinetic sand for her birthday, and these girls love it. They’ve been making cookies and having invisible people over to come eat them. I love their imaginations, haha!_mg_5400

FIVE. We’ve had a couple of “picnics” (a.k.a. any time the girls eat their sandwiches anywhere other than home) this week! Kaya and Kaelyn love doing this, even though it’s the same old lunch that they always have. I had nearly back-to-back doctor appointments on Wednesday, and we had just enough time to stop at the park to eat.

Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

weekend + home from the beach

We spent last week down at Myrtle Beach with our great friends, Ben and Brittany! We enjoyed so much sun, swimming, and good food. Friday morning, we packed up and headed home… vacation always seems to go by so fast! The beach is one of my favorite places for sure. I’ll definitely be sharing a lot of pictures from our adventures over this coming week.
_MG_7696 We came back to real life and the most gorgeous spring weather… so naturally, we enjoyed eating outside both on Saturday and Memorial Day! Kaya was so excited for our picnic on Saturday, even though she was insistent on “no grilled cheese [for] Peeky”. She was missing out- sharp cheddar, pesto, and roasted red peppers make a mean sandwich._MG_7746 My littlest cutie is always patiently watching!_MG_7747And she makes a pouty-lip face even she’s happy. Haha._MG_7751Kaya and Daddy goofed off on the playground for a little while. There’s no better way to get your energy out just before bedtime!
_MG_7761Most of my favorite moments are so small and maybe not “blog-worthy” to most, but it’s these little family activities that fill my heart with the most joy. I’m so thankful for all those special, small things that build a lifetime of memories.

Hope everyone had an amazing weekend!

memorial day weekend

We had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend! The weather was amazing and it actually feels like summer is coming, which I couldn’t be more excited about.

I finally decided on Kaya’s new bed. I ordered a twin-size mattress for her, and it arrived on Friday. Now, we’re just waiting on the bed frame to get here! We had tried converting her crib into a toddler bed, but she never wanted to sleep in it. So far, she likes her “big girl” bed and actually sleeps on it!

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We had a lot of grandparents come up to visit this weekend (which meant that Kaya was incredibly spoiled)!

_MG_2650 One of her surprises was a new “Kitty” from my mom. The old one has seen better days, but I still might have cried a little when Kaya immediately took to the new stuffed animal. I guess I can blame pregnancy hormones… but that old Kitty has had so many adventures with us!_MG_2681 My happy girl was so excited to take a picture with both her kitties 🙂 Her grandmas also lavished her with new books, dresses, and toys. It was almost like Christmas around here!_MG_2675 We all went out to dinner on Saturday, to church on Sunday, and then to the pool on Monday! The first day of the swimming season always feels a little extra exciting._MG_2654 Love these two (and Michael’s tan line)! Kaya actually didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the water, since it was still a bit chilly. She mostly just stood next to the pool and threw her ducky and ball in for us to toss back to her._MG_2662 We planned a cookout with some dear friends after our swimming. We probably had the best spread of food we’ve ever had at any of our cookouts (hot dogs, bratwurst, salad, pasta salad, chips, lemonade, and all manner of desserts)!_MG_2668_MG_2667At the end of it all, Kaya was more exhausted than I think I’ve ever seen her.

It’s after time spent with family and friends and days like these that my heart feels so full of gratitude.

the time michael (almost) singed off his eyebrows…

… because apparently, using lighter fluid can be trickier than it seems. Somehow, the fire just exploded from the grill and blew him backwards and onto the ground.

I’m so glad I didn’t actually see any of it happen.

His hair and eyelashes are a little shorter, but luckily that’s all (and we still had some pretty tasty food, so everything’s good, right?)
_MG_1990We had some much-needed sibling time this weekend. Kevin and Tori were driving through on their way back from Utah, and they decided to spend a day with us! We hardly get to see them, so it was a real treat. The weather was perfect for a cookout, so that’s exactly what we did!_MG_1991I love seeing Kaya get to know her aunts and uncles better!_MG_1993We finished off the evening with some homemade cookie bars, which tasted a little extra-amazing after all our running and biking earlier in the day. Spring weather, family time, and good food make for some of the best weekends 🙂

sunshine & fun times

The snow finally melted, and we had a few days of sunshine! Michael’s parents made the trip up here a few days later than they had originally planned, but that’s just fine- it’s never too late for grandma cuddles…_MG_1391 (or puppy wrestling cuddles, if you’re Dad and Jax…)1392701115454 We enjoyed some Red Robin for the first time in a long time (and Kaya loved trying on my sunglasses while we were waiting for everyone to meet up)! Kaya ate some fries, but as soon as I dipped one in ketchup, she didn’t want any more. What kid doesn’t like ketchup?!Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Our weekend was warm, so Brittany and I planned a little cookout for Saturday afternoon. Why not grill out in February? I think Kaya was just excited to get out of the house (and sit next to Jax in the car)!02222014kayagrid Our friends, Katherine and Mia 🙂_MG_1437We even went on a family walk on Sunday!
_MG_1440It felt so good to have a break from the single-digit and teen temperatures. Thankfully, we don’t have too much longer until spring!

life is good

About a week ago, Brittany and I were talking about how fast summer went… and she suggested that we have one more cookout all together before the warm weather disappears for good. So on Friday, we did just that! We grilled and then planned to have a game night (which really just turned into all the boys playing Xbox and all the girls sitting around and chatting… which was still a lot of fun)!_MG_9413


Karl even came! It’s been a while since we’ve been able to do anything fun together. Nothing beats picking on your little brother 🙂09132013photogrid3

We had hamburgers, hot dogs, Amanda’s amazing pasta salad, and I made some s’mores bars that actually ended up NOT tasting like real s’mores… but you can’t go wrong with something covered in chocolate, so they were still a big hit.

Jeff and Lelia joined us for games, and Chris and Cerina were in town (from North Carolina!) so they stopped by. These BOYS. ARE. CRAZY when they’re together! Love it. (This was a tickle fight in case you can’t tell. Jeff versus everyone else… haha!)09132013photogrid1


On Saturday, I worked pretty hard to get everything ready for Kaya’s one-year photoshoot. I finished the cake, Michael bought her some balloons, and we got her dressed. I LOVE how these turned out and I can’t wait to share the rest.

She loved her balloons so much (even when they had already fallen to the ground the next morning).
_MG_9601We had our awesome friends over again on Sunday night, because someone needed to eat the cake left over from Kaya’s photoshoot (which she didn’t smash)! We played some more games and laughed a lot.

Life is good.

4th of july 2013

Our Independence Day started out pretty relaxed- we slept in until about 8:30, which felt amazing! I went on a 4.5-mile run with Jax and then got to spend the rest of the day with my two favorite goofballs._MG_7093_MG_7100 My mom bought Kaya this adorable shirt a few weeks ago, but she didn’t have any matching shorts (apparently this kid only owns shorts that are pink, purple, or plaid…)! So, I sewed a pair of white ones for her super fast. I should have made them longer because they kept bunching up… but all her shorts seem to do that anyway._MG_7072I love this little stinker (which apparently means that I can never decide which pictures to post. They’re all too cute)!
kaya07042013At dinnertime, we had a cookout with some of our best friends (but we were still missing a few who were out of town). We enjoyed hot dogs, green beans, grapes, and these chocolate chip cookies.
_MG_7128-2 - Copy You can’t really tell from this picture, but Kaya loves Brittany. They’ve been buddies since Kaya was tiny._MG_7118_MG_7122

Jax even looked festive (I sewed him this bandanna about 5 minutes before our barbecue)!
_MG_7113Don’t be fooled by this photo… the puppies were only calm together for about thirty seconds.
_MG_7124 After dinner, we headed off to the town’s fireworks. We showed Kaya what sparklers can do. She was mesmerized and kept looking for more all night!_MG_7147 She wasn’t afraid of the fireworks (I was a little concerned they’d be too loud for her). As usual, it was a great show._MG_7167_MG_7169 _MG_7165 _MG_7166 _MG_7180 fireworks2013I’m so grateful to live in a country where we can make our own choices and express our opinions. Happy Independence Day everyone!

picnic at the pond

On Friday night, we went to an ice cream party to celebrate one of our senior missionary couples (they were visiting as they passed through this part of the country)! While we were stuffing our faces with ice cream there, we decided that we haven’t spent a whole lot of time with our friends recently, so we planned an impromptu picnic for Saturday afternoon.

I was sort of in charge of coordinating it… and I say “sort of” because I just told people what to bring and where to be at what time. Being “sort of” in charge also means you have to know to bring charcoal to actually grill… whoops. Good thing I have Michael to help me out with these things!

We waited in the car while Michael ran in to Kroger on the way there. (“What’re you lookin’ at?”)

Sunscreen-spiked hair! SO cute._MG_4106We had absolutely perfect weather for a picnic (it was also perfect for a run, and I did 8.5 miles that morning- my record high thus far)!_MG_4135 The babies stayed in the shade for most of it. We haven’t used our stroller all that much, but it sure came in handy on Saturday._MG_4116 Amanda, Caitlin, and Liam (he’s hiding under the blanket!)_MG_4121

As we girls said, “How many boy scouts does it take to start a fire?”_MG_4118 Many minutes later…_MG_4125 We did eventually get to eat (hot dogs, burgers, chocolate-chip cookies, carrots, and jalapeno-flavored wheat thins)!_MG_4128So grateful for great friends, good food, and beautiful spring!