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!

halfway to half-crazy (half marathon training update)

Someone’s always talking about some new life-changing diet or health fad that will improve your life by 1000% and make all your dreams come true… but you don’t need any of that stuff, trust me. I’ve discovered the real secret to success:

Want to test your willpower? Make your ab muscles sore without doing any crunches? End up with a smokin’-hot farmer’s tan? Sleep better at night? Have a good reason for healthy snacking? Beef up your calves so that it’s hard to get your skinny jeans over them? Have an excuse to go (running) shoe shopping?

Train for a half marathon!

I’ve got just under one month to go until my first-ever half marathon, and overall, I’m still feeling pumped up and excited for race day. After nearly 8.5 years of running, it’s been really fun to follow an official training plan and challenge myself in a different way each day. I know I’ll never be the fastest (and speed intervals completely crush me sometimes), but I’m having a good time trying new things.

I discovered that the amount of sleep I get makes a huge difference in my pace and how I feel during a run. Sometimes, when the baby is up in the middle of the night or it’s been an insanely busy week, I question why I ever thought doing this was a good idea, because being a parent just makes you so tired. But slow miles are better than no miles, even on little sleep.

And I can’t help but feel accomplished when I get out there and get it done, despite the wind or rain. If I even come close to finishing in two hours on race day, I will be ecstatic.Thankfully, my sister-in-law Lelia has already done this a few times, and she’s been able to give me some great advice along the way, including coming up with healthy post-run snacks, since I’m a pretty picky eater. Kind bars, string cheese, and almonds have all been my favorites after finishing a long run.

Once I hit about 6 miles or so, I usually start to feel like I could just keep on running forever (although once I finally stop, my legs are always a little achey, reminding me that running indefinitely isn’t an option quite yet). I’ve actually been surprised to find that my sorest muscles after a long run are my abs, which I usually notice when I wake up and try to roll out of bed the next morning.

I invested in a second pair of running shoes (Saucony Kinvara 7) after reading this study, which found that runners who don’t always use the same model of shoes have a 39% lower risk of injury. Plus, how can you go wrong with all this neon?

Here’s to a few more weeks of long runs before RACE DAY! 🙂

nella: 7 months

Clothing size: 6-9 month-sized everything, except I did find a pair of 12 month leggings that fits her perfectly now. I think we can blame it on her huge diaper!
Eye color: Baby blue.Hair: She’s lost pretty much all the hair she was born with at this point, and some of the new growth on the sides is coming in super light blonde. It still curls up on its own after her bath and will randomly stick up at times.

Nursing: Just about every three hours now. We haven’t started solids yet, besides just giving her a little peanut butter to help prevent future allergies.

Sleep: This has been her roughest month of sleep so far. She had her first cold, which completely threw her off (she didn’t want to sleep at all), and then we had random wake-ups for about the following week. She’s also sporadically woken up for an extra feeding around 4 am some nights, too. I think we’re pretty much back on track now though!

She likes to go to bed around 7 or 7:30 pm, and she sleeps until I feed her at 5:45 am. Usually, she falls back to sleep after that until 8 am or so. She naps for three hours in the afternoon, too! Sometimes, she has a hard time waiting for her sisters to finish their lunch before I get everyone ready for a nap, so she just catnaps wherever she is for a little while until we’re ready to head upstairs.

She’s still sleeping in our room, although she is almost too tall for her bassinet. Daddy is ready for her to move to her own room, but I know I’m going to miss her so much when she does.

Favorite things: Her sisters are still her number one favorite thing! They act silly and she laughs like crazy. She’s also really started to like stuffed animals in general, and she actually plays with the toys on her exersaucer and bouncer seat now. It’s so easy to get her laughing that sometimes all I have to do is look at her and she starts giggling. She also loves going outside and watching us all play, especially when we blow bubbles and she can visually track their movement through the sky.

Dislikes: She really didn’t like having her very first cold (but who would?)- she couldn’t eat well or sleep much, and I think that just left her feeling tired and confused! Sometimes if she starts to feel sad, she makes the cutest, tiny-lipped pouty face. It usually only lasts for a second though, because overall, she’s still our happy little sunshine baby.

Nicknames: Nellbells, Baby Sunshine, Nella Sunshine, Nell, Nell-Nell, Nels, Angel, Cheeks, Newwie (by Kaelyn), and “Baby Nella Sunshine Sprinkle Pop” and “Pushy Cheeks” (by Kaya).

Milestones, etc.: -I know we’re kind of late to the game, but she rolled over (from her back to her tummy) all on her own for the very first time a few nights ago! And then, after a few minutes, just to impress us, she rolled to her back. She’s getting stronger; it’s probably only taking longer because I don’t give her as much time on the floor with her big sisters running all around.

-She’s always grabbing (and eating!) her toes!

-She’s still so close to sitting up… We’re just working on balance!

-She loves to look around and take in everything around her, even in the car. Most times when I peek back at her during a drive, she’s holding her head up high, not resting it up against the back of her seat. I love seeing that fuzzy hair of hers turning in all different directions as she makes her observations.

-She sticks her tongue out when she’s extremely happy or excited about something!

-I’ve heard her make some new sounds, like “mum” (she’s obviously just trying to say “mommy!”). She also likes to make this low, growl-like sound sometimes to try and talk to us. Usually though, she communicates with the sweetest, happiest little squeals.

-Just as a puppy wags her tail when she’s happy, Nella repeatedly kicks her legs when she’s excited about something. I love that just a smile isn’t enough- she has to get her whole body moving!

-Anytime she’s near a blanket (or clean laundry on my bed, let’s be real here), she purposely pulls it over her face and will “hide” until we come take it off of her and say, “peekaboo!”

-She still doesn’t really have any “stranger danger”, and will willingly snuggle with nearly anyone who wants to hold her.

Dear Nella,

I love that I can look over at you at any time of the day, and you always give me a giant grin. You are my sweet, happy little girl, and you are always bringing joy to everyone around you. No one can resist your gummy smile, chunky thighs, and tiny little toes.

Your sisters are excited for you to start crawling and ask me several times a week if you’re going to do it soon. We’ll see how excited they are once you can get into all their toys! I think they’re just ready for you to play with them like a “big kid”. I’m so excited for all your newest and upcoming milestones, but a big part of me just wants time to slow down a little so I can enjoy you just as you are now.We love you so much, Nellbells!

Love, Mommy

five on friday (05/12)

ONE. We had a church picnic last weekend, and after everyone ate, the kids headed over to the neighboring playground. Michael ran around with the big girls for about an hour- including going down slides, climbing up onto the playground itself, and really, just being the ultimate dad. I’m so grateful for him and how much he loves spending time with our daughters.I had the easy job and got to just hang out with this pretty, blue-eyed baby! 🙂

TWO. We spent some time at the library this week, and the craft station there had supplies for making Mother’s Day cards. Kaya and Kaelyn absolutely love creating things, and I think they would make projects all day long if I let them, but I somehow convinced them that we should leave some materials for other kids to use. I hope the library stays just as fun and exciting as they get older.

THREE. Kaya is becoming quite a little photographer- she snapped this photo of Nella and me this week and I love it. It makes it a little easier to get in photos when someone else can take them for me!

FOUR. Sometimes, you just can’t stay awake long enough for your big sisters to finish lunch so that nap time can officially begin! So, you just have to use your ducky as a pillow and sleep wherever you are instead. Nella’s got the right idea- I’ve felt this sleepy all week!FIVE.  Someone has been channeling her inner Shia LaBeouf… Seriously, I don’t know where she gets this stuff. I think we literally watched that viral video one time, over a year ago… but Kaelyn has recently, and randomly, started saying, “just do it!”, so of course I had to encourage it.

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!