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!

pumpkin picking 2016

We had our very first outing as a family of five this past weekend (and I still can’t believe we’re numbered at five now… how did that happen so quickly?)!

Anyway, we met up with Karl and Kaitlyn and went out for our annual pumpkin-picking tradition at our favorite local farm. I could go out there every year for the rest of my life, and at the end of my days, I think I’d still be completely blown away by how gorgeous it all is. The sun breaks over that mountain ridge, warm on your face, and as you walk through that big old field, you almost wonder if this was a little piece of heaven that fell down to earth._mg_6061

We took a hayride up to where the pumpkins are laid for picking. Kaya remembered the ride from last year, and she was so very excited to do it again._mg_6054We let Kaya and Kaelyn each choose their own mini pumpkin to bring home._mg_6064Kaelyn was such a trooper through the entire afternoon. She trod up the hills with her pumpkin in one arm, and her stuffed “Baby Margaret” tiger in the other, and never faltered. This was also the hottest it’s ever been when we’ve gone pumpkin picking. Usually, we’re freezing (or at least wearing jackets)!_mg_6067

They loved “milking” this wooden cow._mg_6076

This was serious business, you guys._mg_6072

We went through the corn maze, and allowed Kaya to choose our path for most of it. We ended up hitting a lot of dead ends and being completely turned around before we shamelessly used the entrance as our own personal exit. At least we made it out!_mg_6080

We visited with some alpacas, and then stopped in the farm’s little shop for some homemade fudge and a new ornament for our Christmas tree. We also splurged on some amazing kettlecorn (Michael’s favorite) that completely disappeared before we even got it home.

I’m grateful my brother and Kaitlyn could come into town for the weekend. I miss them living locally!_mg_6083

If you can’t tell, Kaya was pretty tired by the end of the afternoon (although she’s totally “fake sleeping” in this picture)! I love this little (can I still call us little now that we have three kids?) family of mine, and I cherish these simple, sweet days we get to spend together._mg_6087

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.


The weather on Friday evening was perfectly cool, so we started our weekend off with some outdoor playtime and daddy-daughter snuggles in the hammock. Sometimes, you smile so big that you just can’t keep your eyes open…_MG_3034Of course, they had to do a silly pose for me, too.
_MG_3035 Saturday morning was the hottest we’ve seen of this season so far. I got in a 6.5-mile run, and Michael went out to work in the yard and also help a new family at church with moving. While he was out, Kaya pleaded with me to “do preschool”, so yes, we did some “math” on a Saturday. We played this game and she loved it!_MG_3043

On Saturday night, Michael was the pianist for a baptism, and then we had a family date to Red Robin. Kaya was so excited and kept exclaiming “family date! family date!” all while we were out. I’m so glad she loves spending time together.

We ran some errands at Walmart, Home Depot, and Target, and I picked up some paint chip samples to take home. I really wish we would have gotten some actual sample paint to test out on the walls… but it was already late and we still had a couple of stops to make, so hopefully we can take care of that one night this week.

Sunday morning came too early for all of us. In fact, I randomly woke up at 5:45 to find Michael still asleep next to me, when he was supposed to be ready to head to bishopric meetings at 6 am. Luckily, he’s quick to get ready, so he was still on time.We miraculously arrived at church about 5 minutes earlier than we usually do! I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on “the importance of a living prophet”. I was very nervous and basically just ended up reading from my notes, but I received some positive comments afterward, so it must not have been all that bad! 😉

Kaya drew this picture in her sunbeam class! I have been so impressed to see how her art has evolved from just circles and random scribbles into recognizable forms.06122016 We ended the weekend with lots of book-reading and even more snuggles. This little princess is becoming a real daddy’s girl._MG_3046

weekend wednesday

I’m writing about the weekend on a Wednesday (that’s what all the cool kids are doing now, right?), and it’s not that we did anything too out of the ordinary, but we did get some quality family time in. And that deserves to be documented!

Friday night, we all went out to dinner together for the first time in months. It felt great to do something different and just focus on each other. We decided on Red Robin (because who doesn’t love bottomless carbs?), and I think the kids were equally happy with our choice. They loved the food, but they actually might have been even more excited about coloring on the kids’ menu.

Free crayons are the way to her heart.Bruschetta chicken is the way to mine! 🙂

Saturday was spent doing a lot of chores around the apartment, and then Michael headed off to church meetings late that afternoon. Sunday morning brought super-early bishopric meetings for him, as well as an opportunity to play piano for a musical number at another meeting later that night! He was gone a lot, so after church and nap time, the girls and I watched a movie- we chose Beauty and the Beast! It was their first time seeing it, and I was a little worried that Kaya would be scared, but they both loved it! I think Lumière was their favorite character and elicited the most giggles from them.

Daddy arrived home in time to help with the bedtime routine. These little girls went crazy and started going down the slide as quickly as they could together. I love how anything they do together is a million times more fun than if they had done the same activity alone._MG_1637 _MG_1639

easter egg hunt 2016

We had a fantastic Easter weekend, and as usual, I took plenty of pictures, so I think I’ll be splitting them up over a few separate blog posts. This way, it’s quicker for me to write, and easier for you to read!

I kicked off my Saturday morning with a 6.3-mile run. The weather was chilly (I had all my winter gear on), but still beautiful. It was great practice for my first 10k in a couple of weeks! I returned home to a house full of sleepyheads, all still completely unaware that I had even left.

We hurried the girls through eating breakfast and getting washed up, and then headed to the church so Michael could practice a special musical number that he would perform on Sunday. Piano and flute together on “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” seriously might be one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever heard. I wish I would have recorded it so I could listen to it a million times over.

After his practice, we drove over to the park for the town’s annual Easter egg hunt. There was a bit of a wait for the 3-year-olds, but I took Kaelyn through the line for 2-year-olds pretty quickly.

There’s a little fenced-in area, filled with straw, where the eggs are hidden. Parents aren’t allowed to go in, and are required to watch from the side. Well, Kaelyn wasn’t having any of that, and wouldn’t even walk in there without me. Some of the volunteers handed her a few eggs out of pity, and she insisted on handing them back! Somehow, she ended up with three eggs and lost one before we made it back to the car. Better luck next year, sweetie.
_MG_1320 _MG_1319 Kaya, on the other hand, was more than ready to run in there and grab all the eggs she could!_MG_1325 _MG_1326 She found so many eggs that one of the volunteers actually had to stop her from picking up any more. She was beaming and so proud of herself._MG_1329 I can’t believe how much this beautiful little girl has grown in just a couple of short years._MG_1334 And when I see this face… I see her daddy and all the silly poses he does for photos._MG_1341 Neither of them wanted anything to do with the Easter Bunny himself (not that I really blame them… those giant furry rabbit costumes always seem more scary than cute)… But I did get them to at least stand in front of a giant Easter Egg. Kaelyn won’t look at the camera for all the candy bribery in the world these days…_MG_1342And that’s it- part one of our Easter celebrations! How was yours? 🙂

tall towers and pizza bigger than my face

My in-laws came up to visit this past weekend! As always, we had a really great time with them. They arrived late on Friday night, after the kids were already in bed (disclaimer: just because they were in bed does not mean they were sleeping…)

Mom went with Michael and Kaya to her final gymnastics class on Saturday morning. After running, I made a new batch of muffins for Dad- they’re his favorite, and he eats them for breakfast and lunch when he visits.

After everyone came home, had eaten, and got cleaned up, we headed out to the children’s museum. Grandpa was really into the jumbo-sized blocks.

They built the tallest towers together (and had fun knocking them down of course)!

Shopping with Grandma! Kaelyn wasn’t quite her peppy self (we thought maybe she was teething, but it might have actually been the start of a cold…).

We came home, and the kids took much-needed naps while Dad and I played some Wii! At dinnertime, they insisted that we take advantage of their offer to babysit and go on a date (we only ever seem to go out on our own when they’re here to watch the kids)!

We ended up driving around for about 20 minutes before we could make a decision on where to go! We ended up at this little locally-owned Italian place that we had gone to once before Kaya was born, and then forgotten about. It turned out to be the perfect choice, and since we never really go out as just the two of us, we totally splurged. Mozzarella sticks for appetizers! 

And then I ordered two slices of pizza and they turned out to be bigger than my face. I seriously ate this pizza for three meals… and it was consistently delicious!02272016collage2

We saved room for this triple chocolate cake. Best cake ever. I’d order a whole cake for every one of my future birthdays if I could.

We returned home to find a crazy game of “hide and seek” going on. And then Grandpa taught Kaya how to “lose” her thumb while sucking it, and then blow on it to get it to reappear. This girl was cracking up.collage02272016We enjoyed going to church together on Sunday, and after lunch, they headed home. We can’t wait to see them again in a few weeks!

turtles and basketball (weekend)

Grandma Debbie came up for a visit this weekend! Kaya was so excited and just couldn’t wait for her to arrive. Grandma brought lots of hugs and surprises for everyone, including Valentine’s candy, Beanie Baby turtles for the girls, and a steamer stock pot for me. Because of spoiling us, she always has much fewer things to pack up when she leaves. We’re just helping lighten her load, right?
_MG_1007We spent a lot of time just relaxing and playing at home. Kaya loved pretending to tuck us in for a nap on the couch.

After Michael got off work on Friday night, we all went to look at another house. It was beautiful and in a great neighborhood… but there was a line of clients to get in and see it! Crazy! We waited in the car for quite a while before it was our turn.

We knew it would sell quickly, and I wasn’t ready to jump into anything yet, so we didn’t make an offer. It was sold by the next morning, after being on the market for only one day!

After seeing the house, we took my mom out to our favorite Chinese place for her first time ever. Kaya hid behind Michael for this picture and Kaelyn was too busy with her cup to turn around! Haha.

On Saturday morning, Michael headed off to a stake basketball tournament. It lasted about 4 hours, and his team made it to the championship! He was sore for days afterward, and sadly, there are no pictures from this event.

Since he was gone, I took Kaya to her gymnastics class. She is getting so comfortable with most of the activities and even told me that she loves her teachers!

Later, we decided to decorate some sugar cookies with Grandma._MG_1014 Michael decorated two cookies. And he ate two cookies. And that was all for him!_MG_1013 _MG_1012 “Cookie decorating” is actually code for “cookie eating”._MG_1018 _MG_1021 _MG_1023 Kaya got a little excited about covering her entire cookie with candy and sprinkles. She made this bunny on the top right, and she was worried because she “missed a spot”. Hahaha._MG_1026 I got a little snowman-happy._MG_1028

We also enjoyed time with Karl and Kaitlyn, although I somehow didn’t get any pictures of their visit. We had church on Sunday, and finally took naps, after not having our regular nap routine for a few days. We were wiped out! Grandma left on Monday morning, and now, we are looking forward to our other set of grandparents visiting next weekend!

winter storm jonas

Snow has a sort of magic about it. It has the power to stop all our busyness and schedules. Nature’s white, tranquil blanket envelopes us all, creating a shining, peaceful world._MG_0828 The best part of being snowed in was definitely all the extra family time we were able to have. The university actually announced on Thursday afternoon that it would be closed on Friday, which is an incredibly rare event. This meant that Michael ended up having two long weekends in a row! Knowing that the school was shutting down preemptively, I felt a little nervous about how big this storm would actually be.

Kaya could not have been more excited to play in the snow. She has been waiting for winter weather so eagerly for months now, and in her mind, snow absolutely had to come after Christmastime._MG_0830 Our neighbor gave us their old sled! We were so excited for some good sledding… and then we cracked the plastic seat after only three runs down the hill. I’m thinking the plastic must’ve been a bit weak if we broke it so easily, but it was fun while it lasted._MG_0833These next three photos happened in succession. I love how Kaya almost completely disappears in the snow at the end!
_MG_0838 _MG_0839 _MG_0840 Happy happy little girl. 🙂_MG_0843 We thought maybe she could still use the sled on her own, even after we cracked it, since she doesn’t weigh all that much. Turns out, she isn’t heavy enough to even get it to move down the hill on her own!_MG_0844 _MG_0845 Kaelyn missed all the fun on the first day of snow because she was napping, so on the second day (Saturday), I finally bundled her up and brought her out for her first snow experience (we didn’t take her out in any last year).

I don’t know if she was upset because her snowsuit was uncomfortable or just because she wasn’t sure of what was going on… but our little marshmallow was quite unhappy at first._MG_0851Michael ended up pulling the kids along in the broken sled, since it no longer worked going down the hill. Kaelyn didn’t cheer up when we first tried to give her a ride…
_MG_0857 After a while, she started to like being out there, and even pouted when it wasn’t her turn to “sled”!_MG_0860 This is our parking lot!_MG_0861I loved seeing both my babies riding in the sled together. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that they’re mine. They’ve grown so fast, and these kinds of activities just get more and more fun as they get older.

All our church meetings were canceled on Sunday, and in total, I think we ended up with about 15 inches.

The snow has mostly melted now, and our first snowstorm of the season seems to have come and gone so quickly.