in memory of freyja

Dear Freyja,

It’s hard to think that you’re really gone. It feels like you were here, “wheeking” for your veggies one day, and now, suddenly, you’re missing.

I had noticed that you were starting to get tired just a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like you weren’t as active as you usually were, and I could see some changes happening in your body, too. When guinea pigs start to show their age, they tend to go downhill fast, and you were no exception.

Still, saying goodbye seems shocking and unreal.You have been a best buddy to Kaya, especially for the past year or so. She diligently brought veggies, pellets, and water to you and Claire every evening, and you got to know the sound of her feet on the stairs and the tone of her voice. Just days before you died, you were still excitedly looking for her and your treat when you heard her.

Kaya has been absolutely crushed. You were a huge part of her world, and missing you is her first real experience with grief. It has been painful to watch my own baby cry for you and know that I can’t fix it. She wants you back. I am utterly helpless.

Kaelyn, Nella, and Eve have been sad, too. Eve went to look for you first thing this morning when we told her you had died, and she keeps saying, “I miss Freyja” and “Where’s Freyja?”.

You were always so friendly, so outgoing, and loved being petted and held. You loved your treats. You felt like a special gift to me, because you always reminded me of my very first guinea pig, Maggie, with the way your fur fell over your ears, how confidently you’d walk around the cage, and how chatty you were. In some ways, her memory lived on in you.

We had a little funeral for you this morning. Michael took care of everything logistical, and I was so grateful. We all gathered around to say goodbye. There were so many tears, and everyone had one last look at you before Daddy lowered you gently into your final resting place.

He covered you in a blanket of dirt, and then each of the girls placed a carrot (your favorite treat) on the grave, ultimately creating a heart shape. He filled in the remaining gap with more dirt, and through tears, I choked out a short poem I found online.

We have all loved you so very much. Thank you for all the joy you brought to our family, sweet Freyja.

I hope to plant something beautiful over your grave, so we can remember you every year when the flowers bloom.

Love you forever.

Freyja, July 2015 – July 27, 2021

(written July 28th)

five favorites (07/26)

Happy Monday! As always, I wanted to do this on Friday (the past several Fridays in a row, to be honest), but I never quite get to it. I’m trying to make more time for this, so here’s to keeping it a little simpler with the hope that I can write more often.

ONE. These crazy kids all got some sleeping bags, and they practiced their camping skills in the living room. In fact, I think there’s been more sleeping on the floor than anywhere else. I’m actually not sure why we even have beds! Haha.The only one who really fell asleep in the living room was Eve. I wish these sweet, pink baby cheeks could last forever.

TWO. I’ve done more yard work in the past two weeks than I have the entire time we’ve lived here. All the bushes that were out front when we moved in ever-so-slowly died… a while ago. So, I finally decided to try to fix it, and when I saw these hydrangeas, I just knew they were perfect. I planted five of them out front, plus some daylilies out by the mailbox. The girls have been helping me water them each day. Fingers crossed they’re here for many years to come!

THREE. This baby man… oh my heart. I am so over-the-moon in love with him. Also, boy clothes are the cutest. I bought this outfit a year ago and dreamed of the day I could take some pictures of him in it.Daddy says, “Let’s go get Mama!” And he smiles like this.

FOUR. Kaya asked to wear Chandler in the Ergo carrier, and she is actually (just barely) big enough for it! I adore this sibling sweetness between my oldest and youngest. He was comfortable enough to fall asleep on her.Apparently, they were playing a game where they were kids who traveled the world, and at some point they found a baby they needed to take care of.

FIVE. Scout’s not sure about all those sleeping bags taking up her beloved space… but she looks cute anyway. We love our puppy.

five on friday (06/04)

It’s Friday!!!!!!

ONE. We officially finished homeschool last Thursday! On the whole, the weather has been glorious, so we’ve been enjoying it as much as possible. All those “little summer things” turn out to be the biggest memories for me: walks with my kids and puppy, freezie pops, and just enjoying the warmth of the sun.

We bought this slip ‘n slide on sale a couple of weeks ago, and I could not wait to try it. I was just as excited as the girls were! Crazy enough, I guess there’s more of a learning curve to slippin’ and slidin’ than I thought- only Kaya really figured out how to do it.

Still, they all said it was “more than fun”, so I’m calling it a win!We’re keeping Kroger in business with all the freezie pops we’ve already consumed this summer. They usually ask me what color they should eat, but they generally try to save some blue ones for me, since those are my favorite.Kaya was able to have a field-day type of activity for her group at church, so while she was gone, we went for a walk. We discovered someone’s sprinkler spraying intermittently over the fence, and the girls thought it was the most fun ever to run through it. Their giggles were the best.Chandler frequently gets a decent nap while we walk.TWO. Finally, after nearly 15 months of the pandemic, we were able to visit with friends this past weekend! Bianca had us all over for dinner, and the kids were so happy to see each other that they ran around laughing the entire time. They all looked so adorable in their dress-up clothes.Bianca finally got to meet Chandler! He has been unsure of seeing new people, but he actually does a lot better than I expected.We were able to visit with a couple of other friends, too. Eve enjoyed the outdoor toys!THREE. Michael ran his first-ever nerd conference this week! He put so much work into this dream that he’s had for a long time, and I’m really proud of him.

Enjoy this unrelated photo of him returning some things to Old Navy for me. I love how he makes me laugh.Chandler had to wear his Docker onesie for a few pictures for Daddy’s conference!This is pretty much how every photoshoot with this boy goes… sideways. Literally! Haha.FOUR. Nella and Eve are at that age where they’re extra silly, and they are best little buddies. They crack me up with all the goofy things they do. One night, after their baths, they insisted I wrap their hair up in towels. This completely made their night.Nella added toy glasses and it really took the fun to the next level!Eve dressed up as a superhero one day (and made Nella’s stuffed puppy match)! The overalls, pigtails, and huge smile really complete the look!FIVE. I’ve been reliving the 1990s several days this past week when the girls have asked to take out my “vintage” (yes, they are considered vintage now, so what does that say about me?!) Polly Pockets! This is still such a special activity for them, and I’ll never get tired of sharing my childhood memories with them.

Happy weekend!!!

five on friday (05/21)

Well…

It’s been a LONG time! A reeeeeally long time for me, considering how often I used to post. There have been a lot of reasons I’ve stepped back from this space, some simple, and some that could have their own blog post, but now, almost 9 months later, I think I’m ready to start coming back.

I’ve missed this, and I’ve realized that sharing my joy only multiplies it. If writing brings just one person a smile (even if the one person is myself), it’s more than worth it.

It’s impossible to sum up nine months in five bullet points, so I’m not going to try. I’m just going to touch on some of the things that have brought us happiness lately:

ONE. Our greatest joy during this time has been our BABY BOY!!! Chandler Beau was born in October, just five days after we took our maternity family pictures. Looking back and remembering how big my belly was gives me a renewed sense of awe for the human body. I’m so grateful to have been able to carry him and bring him into this world.

His sisters met him at home, since no visitors were allowed in the hospital due to COVID-19. It was one of the best mornings of their lives when they woke up and saw their brother for the first time.

He brings us a thousand smiles every single day. We love our little guy so much.

TWO. We’ve still homeschooled this year, and we’re getting ready to wrap it all up for summer! We’re at the end of 3rd grade, 1st grade, and Pre-K. These girls have done amazing and made so many great strides during an unpredictable year. I’m so proud of us. This picture was from our spring break, when they were so happy to play dolls with me.

THREE. SCOUT!!! Our puppy turned 4 years old in January (guess that means I can’t call her a puppy anymore, right?), and she’s doing so well. Her bloodwork last year showed some impaired kidney function, but as of her last physical, everything came back normal! I’m glad my furry pal is doing well. She follows me around all day long, loves trying to lick Chandler, and does such a funny, happy dance when she knows it’s time for one of the girls to feed her.

FOUR. I’ve still been running, but due to the pandemic, I haven’t done any in-person races this year. Maybe soon? I miss the thrill of the starting line. I did do a virtual race to raise awareness for maternal mental health on Mother’s Day weekend. Mental health is something I’ve become passionate about as I’ve worked harder than ever on my own.

FIVE. We’ve finally seen the light at the end of the pandemic. Michael and I have both been vaccinated, and I’m looking forward to seeing extended family again soon! Michael was pretty lucky- his only vaccine side effect was being extremely tired and sleeping almost all day long. I had an intense immune response, with achey joints, chills, shaking, hot flashes, dizziness, and nausea. Phew. It lasted for about 30 hours, but I’m glad I did it. Here’s to a brighter 2021. Happy weekend!!!

five favorites (08/22)

Happy Saturday! I’m taking a few moments to reflect on the past week and feel grateful. Here are five highlights from lately:

ONE. One of Michael’s old high school friends came into town and invited him to go hiking. Michael took Kaya and Kaelyn along, and they had such a great time! This was their first time really hiking on their own, without being carried, and they did amazingly well. This loop is almost 4 miles long, and there wasn’t even any complaining!There’s also a giant waterfall at the top! They enjoyed lunch (which included some special thin mint cookies), and they even tried to swim a little, despite the water being pretty cold. Kaya found a picture frame-shaped stick and had Daddy take a picture special for me, since she knew I’d love it!Daddy treated them to Dairy Queen on the way home, and then they passed out in the car. It was nearly an all-day adventure, and they were so worn out.TWO. While Daddy and the big girls were hiking, I got to enjoy some time with just the little girls. Nella had been asking all week to play dolls with me, so I thought that would be a special activity for just the three of us.
I have two American Girl dolls from my childhood, and Nella loves when I take them out and she gets to dress her doll in their clothes. I help do their dolls’ hair and put shoes on them. It’s really special to watch them enjoy some of the things I had as a little girl.

It also felt so quiet and simple having just two kids at home!THREE. The girls have randomly been willing to pose for a few pictures together lately! It’s out of the ordinary for them to just do this on their own and not have anyone feeling grumpy. There’s something extra special about having them all in one picture. Oh, my heart!They’ve also been really into making these blanket and pillow piles to watch a show. It’s the cutest thing to see them all cuddled up.Snuggly sisters, cuddly stuffed animals. FOUR. After a few months of testing Scout’s kidney function and doing subcutaneous fluids at home, her bloodwork finally came back normal at her last appointment! We sure love our puppy (and her kisses)!Now, we get to slowly wean her off the fluids and recheck her levels in a couple of months. Fingers crossed! FIVE. We’ve been back to school for a while now, but we didn’t start our science curriculum right away, and after we did, I decided to completely shift gears and do something else. We are now trying out REAL Science Odyssey this year, and so far, it’s a big hit! We’ve done a couple of labs, and even little Nella has wanted to participate. It’s fun to watch them making discoveries on their own and learning about chemistry. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year!Happy weekend!

five favorites (08/03)

What better way is there to kick off a Monday than with some fun things we’ve been up to lately? I still find so much gratitude when I write these posts, so even if they’re only for myself, they are definitely worth the time.

ONE. We introduced the girls to tie dye! They have been looking forward to it all summer long, and I was just waiting for shirts to go on sale so we could use the kit I already had. Everyone chose a different design, and we helped put the dye on. Daddy did his shirt last, so there wasn’t much dye left. We let the girls go crazy with the remaining dye and make his shirt however they wanted. It turned out pretty cool!

Eve was not into taking this picture at all. It kind of cracks me up. Real life, you guys. Always my little monkey.We all matched for our family walk. These little moments are so precious. TWO. Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella decided that they wanted to make playdough one afternoon. All I did was print the recipe, and they executed it all on their own! It’s amazing to see how much they have grown to be able to do.
This kept them busy for hours… and kept me sweeping up playdough for days. Haha.Sensory play is the best!
THREE. After the girls finished their virtual race series a couple months ago, we let them choose if they wanted the commemorative medal or a race t-shirt. They all chose medals, but it took quite a while to get them in the mail. They finally came at the end of last week, and it was like a mini-Christmas. I loved their giant smiles as they ran around wearing them. They definitely earned these! This is one of the most genuine Nella smiles I’ve captured.FOUR. Our church Primary put on a “drive-through ice cream” activity last week. It was so simple, but it meant so much to the girls to get out and do something special. The pandemic has still changed things for them, and they miss going out as a family. I was okay with this since it was outdoors and low-attendance. We are definitely out of practice with leaving the house, though- we completely forgot the diaper bag and wipes to clean everyone up afterward. Thankfully, we were able to borrow some (especially since Eve was completely covered in popsicle juice just moments after I took this picture)!FIVE. Family movie nights are the best. I think the girls’ favorite part is the popcorn, but I love snuggling up with freshly-bathed babies in soft pajamas. There’s nothing better.
They’ve recently discovered the Sophia the First TV series, so we borrowed the movie from the library to get the whole backstory. They loved it.
HAPPY MONDAY!

baby #5: 28 weeks

(Written July 31st)

Baby’s size: About 15 inches tall and about 2.25 pounds, which is about the size of a rollerblade, an echidna, or a coconut! I love these randomly weird comparisons.

Maternity clothes?: Yes! I got some maternity running shorts this week, which is so exciting, because that didn’t even used to be a thing. So much has changed for pregnant women in the last few years! It’s awesome. I love not having a low waistband pressing on my belly. I also got a couple of larger running shirts, and it’s been great to not have to worry about my shirt riding up on the run.

Gender: Our sweet baby boy! We love him so much already.

Symptoms: Some heartburn and achey hips. TUMS and yoga have helped!

Sleep: I feel like I’ve been sleeping SO much (naps every day after we finish homeschool), but I’m still walking around like a zombie. Michael has always liked to stay up late, but with the pandemic, his bedtime/wake-up time has shifted even slightly later… which makes it a little harder for me. If I go to bed without him, I inevitably wake up when he walks in the room. If only I wasn’t such a light sleeper!

Movement: This little guy wiggles, kicks, and punches ALL DAY LONG! I’ve even started frequently feeling him move while I’m running, which is a somewhat odd sensation. On the days I don’t run, I like to wake up slowly and just feel him kicking. He’s always awake before me. I’m grateful for every sign that he’s okay.

Cravings: None this week.

What I miss: It’s hard to bend over! The girls always need help tidying up so that’s been a little difficult. I love having a cute bump, but I’m kind of at the point where I miss having a flatter tummy and not feeling huge.

Anything making you queasy or sick?: I had one sick day, but otherwise, I’ve been doing well with nausea this week. I was able to actually sit next to the girls during lunch a few times, which is something I haven’t been able to do because of the smell of their yogurt and salad dressing. I’m still brushing my teeth after every meal like I have been this entire pregnancy, but I really can’t complain.

Belly Button in or out?: Flat.

Exercising?: Ran 26.1 miles (longest run was 7.11 miles); walked 2.2 miles. Best average pace this week was 10:04 min/mile.

Mood: I had some good days this week… and some stressful, anxious days. This baby is so, so wanted… but it doesn’t seem real that he’s real. He kicks me all day long, but it’s been hard to actually imagine having him here with us this time. I’ve been trying to do things to get ready for him. I bought some boy clothes and we picked out paint for his future room, but somehow, I’m still missing the lighthearted excitement I had with my other babies. I’ve realized that all this is stemming from unresolved trauma from my miscarriages. It’s hard. I’m trying my best and taking everything one day at a time.

Best moment this week: I have loved taking walks with my babies in the warm sunshine. It’s so simple, but I’m grateful to all be together and watch them having fun.

Looking forward to: We have another growth ultrasound next week, so I’m looking forward to seeing him and hopefully getting another view of his adorable face.

Big sisters: Nella loves to include the new baby in all our family prayers. If someone leaves him out, she’s quick to remind them! It’s pretty fun to see how much she cares about him already.

Comparison: 28 weeks with Kaya; 28 weeks with Kaelyn; 28 weeks with Nella; 28 weeks with Eve.

our 4th of july weekend (2020)

We usually treat the Fourth of July like a pretty minor holiday around here. We would typically go to our town’s community fireworks show, and maybe make a red, white, and blue dessert. This year, I had some fun trying to make it a really fun day for the girls. I think that being in quarantine for several months has made it so that we look for any reason to make things a little extra special when it comes to family time.

We also lucked out and had absolutely perfect weather all weekend long. We enjoyed the pool on both Friday and Saturday afternoon. It was just the best temperature! I always think it’s fun that Kaya and Kaelyn practice floating in this tiny pool! Being in the sunshine with my babies truly is my happy place.
The girls got to try these bomb pops for the very first time. They were a hit! We repainted our toes… and I will never get enough of little baby feet with pink nails.Kaya and Kaelyn had some time to make chalk art in between swimming!I made this “pulled chicken” (instead of pork), and it was amazing! I love that it was completely from scratch and was so moist that it didn’t need barbecue sauce at all. I tried this corn on the cob in the oven, and that worked really well, too! The girls had never had corn on the cob before. Kaya loved it the most!I made these s’mores bars for dessert, which were also a hit, especially with the kids. I cut the sugar in the crust by half and they were really still too sweet for me.We got everyone bathed and in jammies before we headed outside to do sparklers. Because of social distancing, I counted on these being our only “fireworks” and really soaked in watching the girls have fun with them.Evie was absolutely OBSESSED with the sparklers.Watching all her firsts is still so special. We came inside, and just as we were tucking everyone into bed, we heard fireworks. The town still had its traditional show, and to our surprise, we had a pretty good view of it out our upstairs window. Kaya and Kaelyn were taking pictures and videos with their cameras. It felt like the perfect ending to a great day.

baby #5: 27 weeks

(Written July 24th)

Baby’s size: The apps say about 14.5 inches tall and around 2 pounds still. Apparently, this is about equivalent to a bunch of bananas or a cabbage!

Maternity clothes?: YES! I started wearing my support belt most of the time now, and it makes a huge difference in how my belly feels, especially by the end of the day. The belt is magical and makes everything a lot more comfortable. I did squeeze into my non-maternity tie dye shirt for a day though so that I could match the girls.

Gender: It still feels strange to say, “It’s a BOY!” sometimes! We are all so excited, though!

Symptoms: This is kind of a new one for me… heartburn! I remember that I had it just once with Eve’s pregnancy and never at any other time. I’ve had a couple of nights where it feels like I’m right on the verge of having full-on heartburn, but it just keeps building up and never getting to an extreme level. Very weird.

Sleep: Sleep has been tough lately. I sometimes can’t stop thinking long enough to fall asleep. I sleep the best when I completely wear myself out… like I have with my long Saturday runs, or preparing for birthday parties or all our Fourth of July activities. I actually like being exhausted because then I just pass right out!

Movement: I love feeling his little feet kicking up high on my right side, and his little fists down low in the middle of my belly. If push on the left side of my lower belly, I think he’s elbowing my hand because he doesn’t seem to like that too much. Haha.

Cravings: Chocolate-chip cookies and a Greek gyro. Yum. I also had scrambled eggs after my long run this week and they were possibly the best eggs I’ve ever had in my life. I feel like I’ve generally just been really into protein (and salt) during this pregnancy.

What I miss: Bending down to pick things up is getting difficult, and so is rolling over in bed at night.

Anything making you queasy or sick?: I’ve gotten some intense waves of nausea, but this week has definitely been better than last. I also just wish I would enjoy eating my salad every day instead of just getting through it!

Belly Button in or out?: It’s pretty much flat already!

Exercising?: Ran 24.7 miles (longest run was 7.51 miles); walked 1 mile. Best average pace this week was 10:04 min/mile. Every single day is so different now. I had a run I had to cut short because my pelvis just felt awful, but then I had other days where it was easy and I could go for miles and miles. Crazy.

Mood: I really felt like I was doing better with managing my anxiety, but the last few days have been rough. I think there’s just so much going on in the world right now, and so all that, on top of pregnancy-related fears, has just weighed me down. I ended up deleting certain social media apps from my phone because constantly seeing everything going on is not helping me.

In other news, nesting is happening in full-force. I took everything out of one of the girls’ playroom cabinets to reorganize it all. Michael painted some new shelves for me that we’ll be putting together soon, and I replaced all the prints in my living room picture frames. I know that none of that is too crazy, but I have a lot of other things on my list that I want to get done before we bring a baby home.

Best moment this week: We tie-dyed with the girls for the first time ever, and they loved it so much! Revealing their shirts to them after they were washed was the best. We all matched outfits that day, and it was a lot of fun.

Looking forward to: Hopefully having some fun with the girls on the weekend and enjoying some non-thunderstormy weather!

Big sisters: At this point, they’ve just been calling him “Brother Handsome!” Kaelyn is totally on board with making that his official name.

Comparison: 27 weeks with Kaya; 27 weeks with Kaelyn; 27 weeks with Nella; 27 weeks with Eve.

five favorites (07/18)

Whew! It feels like it’s been crazy busy around here, but it’s always worth taking the time to write one of these (even if it means sacrificing a nap… which is really hard for a pregnant mama)!

ONE. Michael took last week off of work and used some of his time off to start refinishing our deck. He’s been power-washing and sanding, and today we picked out the new paint color. I’m really excited! Goodbye, chipped red stain! I found his selfie in our shared photos account and it kind of makes me laugh for some reason.

TWO. We’ve spent a lot of time in the little pool so far this summer. It’s not quite the same as going to the community pool, but we’ve already had a lot more fun with it than I even expected to. It doesn’t take much to make these kids happy. I’m not sure where she got the peace sign thing from, but it’s cute! Eve always has to bring her pacifier in the pool and usually likes to stay by me. She’ll go to the opposite end and say, “I’m coming!”, and then she hurries over to me as quickly as she can. She also really loves pouring water on my baby belly!I’ve also really enjoyed this little pool. I can sit in there and the girls still have plenty of room to play. There’s just something extra-relaxing about being in water when you have a baby bump.

THREE. We’ve been trying to take more family walks lately, even if it’s the last thing we do right before the girls go to bed. We usually only go about a mile, but it’s been something I really love doing all together. Sometimes, the girls put their pajamas on before we leave so they’re ready for bed when we get back. Eve was so exhausted after her birthday party that she passed out in the stroller. That’s just the best.Nellie likes to hide in the pine trees and “scare” us as we walk by. BOO!We found some pretty flowers and had to take a picture with them! I love how Eve is not paying attention and is trying to walk away because it’s so true-to-life. This girl has things to do!

FOUR. This week, Kaya had a school assignment to create a flower out of fruit and then write a step-by-step paragraph about it. We turned it into an activity for everyone (minus Eve, who was napping and would have made an epic mess)!Nella has been really into photobombing these days.
Oh this face.And this one. I love Kaelyn’s laugh.FIVE. We borrowed library books for the first time since everything locked down for the pandemic back in March! Our library just reopened a few weeks ago, and we can order books for pickup. I picked out some new ones for the girls, and when Daddy brought them home, it was seriously like Christmas for them!
It was pretty much a book explosion, but I love how they all just dove right in and started reading. I love how much they love books.Happy Saturday!