cousins, horses, and puppies, oh my!

On our way home from our long weekend of celebrating my mom’s birthday and meeting our newest nephew, we made plans to stop and visit with Michael’s cousin, Nicole! She’s been inviting us to come up to their place ever since they moved back to Virginia, so I was glad to finally make it happen!

They live out in the country, and her husband Brian works with the horses there. We arrived in the early evening, just around golden hour.  Between the animals, the middle-of-nowhere feel, and the sunset, this was basically a little slice of heaven for me. (Can you find Scout?)They had several horses, and I was so excited to meet them. This one, named Dublin, was my favorite! Such a sweetie. Kaelyn was the most smitten with the horses. She could not stop stroking their noses and talking to them. I loved seeing her fascination and joy. There’s just something about a horse barn… ok, everything about a horse barn… that makes me feel so much peace, calm, and happiness: the smell of hay and sweaty horses, the soft sounds they make as they move in their stalls, and the sweetness of a horse pressing his giant head up against your side, waiting for you to rub his nose or scratch his ears. Horses have a profound effect on me that nothing else seems to, which is why I often miss my days of working at the barn and riding so very much.Nicole also has a few chickens (and the coolest chicken coop I’ve seen), so the girls loved watching them, too. Kaelyn even helped find an egg! I promise, she was much more excited than she looks here.They also had a litter of hunting dog puppies for us to visit with. The girls were so excited (and these babies looked so little compared to Scout)!Brian grilled up some chicken and corn on the cob, and we enjoyed dinner outside together. Nicole brought out ice cream for dessert (a Teerlink family tradition for Sunday nights!), and I believe this was Kaya’s first time ever having it in a cone. It was a hit! Kaelyn’s first cone! Michael, with his ice-cream-sandwich-shoved-into-a-cone-topped-with-an-extra-scoop dessert, covering up his eye to be funny, because for the first time since I met him almost nine years ago, he had an allergic reaction to something! His eye was completely swollen and red. He was fine, but it was a little concerning to me just because he’d never had anything like this before.Being silly (with that swollen eye)!It was sad to leave, but we still had a few hours of driving left to get home. There’s nothing like having fun with your cousins (and second cousins)!

grandma debbie’s 60th birthday

My mom’s 60th birthday was in July, so we took a long weekend and headed to my parents’ home for some quality family fun. It’s been a long time since we’ve had then entire family (both of my aunts, Karl, and me) all together, so this was something really special.

Kaya kicked off the weekend by coloring with Grandma! That’s something I remember her doing with me when I was little, so it’s fun to see it continuing on with the next generation.Of course, there were Dunkin’ Donuts, courtesy of Karl! I think these will always be my favorites, despite the amazing local donut shop we have here in town.We also got to meet my parents’ new puppy (I know, he doesn’t look like much of a puppy, right?) for the first time! His name is Buddy, and he’s part pit bull, just like Scout! The only difference is that he is stronger than an ox (I’m not even exaggerating here)! Scout didn’t like being pummeled by his overzealous attempt to play with her, so they didn’t really get to be friends.
But yeah… I pretty much fell head over paws for this puppy. How could you resist those eyes? I think my Dad is pretty smitten with him, too.We had some naps on Daddy… (and a change of clothes for Kaelyn, after she tripped and landed in Buddy’s water bowl!)……and then the whole crew went to an early dinner at Cracker Barrel, which is one of my Mom and Dad’s favorite places.Clockwise: Auntie Joyce and her friend, Melissa; Karl and Kaitlyn; hopefully you know who those people are; and Auntie Carol and Alan!
Princess Nella sat in her throne with her foot upon the table for the entire meal. She also cast a spell on everyone with that sweet little smile of hers.We all headed back to the house for some cake and gifts! My dad had an Oreo cookies and creme cake for his birthday party, and everyone loved it, so of course, we had to repeat it!
It’s not a birthday party with my family unless there’s a big pile of gifts!I found this little decorative watering can at Goodwill and just knew my mom would love it!It turned out that my dad hadn’t finished his gift shopping for my mom, so the day before the party, he took me out with him to get some ideas. We went to five different places without having much luck.

However, we did find a very heavy lawn decoration in the shape of a chicken, and we kept joking around that the “concrete chicken” was our fallback gift. Seriously, I think that thing weighs more than Kaelyn.

My dad actually ended up going back and getting it, and as it turns out, my mom loves her Concrete Chicken. I think I like the joke about the gift even more than the gift itself.I also helped him choose a new bird feeder for her, shaped like a butterfly!
But Karl and Kaitlyn’s gift had to be the best of all…

An iPhone! My mom had been managing with a smartphone that had almost no space to install anything or even be used properly… so now she can actually talk to us and see all the pictures we send. She was so surprised! As you can see in the video, I persuaded Karl to wrap it in a box, and then put that box in another box, wrap it, and so on. It was so much fun.They even made a case for her that had all the kids’ pictures on the back!And, of course, there was a whole lot of baby cuddling on this trip. Auntie Joyce always loves my babies.Apparently, Nella loves pinching her Great-Auntie Joyce’s cheeks. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?I was so happy to see these two… it’s been way too long!Grandpa Peter was obviously smitten with “Pumpkin” (as he calls her)!
My mom said this truly was the best birthday ever. I’m so glad we got to celebrate it all together!

fun with the grands

Last weekend, we got to enjoy some time with Michael’s parents! It’s been a while since both Mom and Dad have been able to come up here at the same time (January was our last visit all together at our house), so it felt a little extra special and fun. They arrived on Friday afternoon, so we had maximum time for goofing off!

The girls have been really into board games lately, and they somehow charmed Grandpa Skip into playing both Candy Land and Thin Ice.
Nella was tickled by Grandma Gina’s “piano fingers”, and obviously, she loved it! This was Dad’s first time meeting Scout, and I think he really liked her. They played on the floor, ran around the house, and even took a couple of walks. Kaya rode on Grandpa’s shoulders for most of the time. I’m glad she’s still little enough to do so, but it did make me realize how tall she’s getting!
Nella got some cuddles from both Grandpa and Grandma (and I’m sure she seemed so big to them after they’ve visited with newborn cousin Bryce so recently)! On Saturday morning, I had a 10-mile run, and then we all did a little work around the house and yard. Michael, Mom, and the older girls went to help out with a food drive service project, and Dad and I stayed home with Nella while she napped. I might have also crushed him at Mario Kart Wii… some of the time. I think we’re pretty equally matched, actually.

We ended the day with our favorite thing- Chinese food! Dad and Michael always love to go browse at Best Buy, so we all spent a few minutes in there after dinner. Kaya and Kaelyn thought it was one of the most fun places, probably just because they got to act silly with Grandpa Skip in there. On Sunday, we all went to the first hour of church together before they had to head home. Nella took two naps on her Grandma that morning! They both love snuggling, so they’re a pretty perfect match!

I always wish for more time with our family when they have to leave. It goes too fast!

running and shutters (weekend)

This past weekend started off very exciting- Jeff and Lelia welcomed their first baby into their family on Friday afternoon! I am beyond excited for them, and I can’t wait to meet baby Bryce in a few weeks! Kaya and Kaelyn are just as eager to hold him as I am.

Meanwhile, we started off our Saturday with some sweet baby Nella snuggles! One of the best things about Saturdays is being able to move a little more slowly and enjoy time together before we start the day’s projects.I had my longest training run planned for that morning- 13 miles! That’s the farthest I’ve ever run, so once I was finished, I was felling really proud (hence my hands in the air- woohoo!). All the muscles in my legs wanted to quit when I hit mile 11.5, but I pushed through, and when I reached the end of my route, Michael and the girls jumped out from around the corner and started yelling and cheering for me. They said they had to practice for race day… obviously! I’ll take “practice cheering” anytime. I love my thoughtful family.I was very ready for a nap after all that running, but first, we all helped Daddy finish putting the new shutters on the house. (Kaya insisted on wearing those blue toy glasses all day long!)
On Sunday morning, Nurse Kaelyn gave everyone checkups. She loves playing with this dress-up outfit and always tells me that she wants to be a “nurse [who] takes care of babies” when she grows up.

The rest of the weekend was filled with naps, homemade paninis, and church. What could be better? I love these simple weekends with my little family.

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.
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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.
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weekend

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