five on friday: happy things (06/10)

It’s been a looooong time (seven months too long, to be exact) since we had a Five on Friday post! I’ve been feeling really grateful for all the small things happening lately and really wanted to write some of them down. So, here we go!

ONE. Eve had her first-ever trip to the dentist, and I don’t think any kid could ever be happier than she was for her appointment! Daddy took her, and he said she was so bubbly and cooperative the entire time that even other hygienists (who weren’t assigned to her) were coming in just to see her. I hope she always exudes such joy.It certainly helps when your dentist makes balloon animals for you to take home. Eve received a puppy and a flower!

TWO. The weather has been mild for June, but so pleasant. We’ve really enjoyed it, other than the fact that it’s still too chilly to swim here. Kaya’s Activity Days group at church had her start some seeds (she chose California Poppies), so she’s been looking after those each and every day. They’re really sprouting fast!My hydrangeas finally started blooming, too! We had colder temperatures for longer than usual this year, and I feared they hadn’t made it through the winter. I’m so excited for flowers!We’ve taken several walks to the playground……and Little Man is content enough to climb up and down the stairs there about a thousand times. This is my favorite outfit of his right now- anchors for Grandpa Peter, who was in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

THREE. This boy… This BOY. He has stolen my heart. He also steals everyone’s shoes. It doesn’t matter the size or color, he’ll proudly wear them around, drag them up and down the stairs, and put them everywhere. Good luck finding them when you actually need to go out!He also thinks Minnie Mouse ears are necklaces and wears one every day.

FOUR. We’re still working on some bigger things at the house, but doing smaller (read: instantly gratifying) projects is fun, too. We switched our outdoor lanterns from old brass to oil-rubbed bronze. Wow, what a difference something so small can make! I’m kind of obsessed with putting Edison bulbs in everything right now.

This project isn’t quick, but since we hired someone to do it, it’s fun to watch. We’re finally getting our walkway fixed! I don’t know if it was originally built when the house was, but the ground had sunken in places, and the bricks had, too. It was so exciting to see them excavate it!

The girls were obsessed with watching the process with the backhoe. After the workers went home for the day, they went outside and sat on the front landing, just taking it all in.It should be completed next week!

FIVE. I made double chocolate muffins for the first time in YEARS! I used this recipe, but I cut the sugar in half and used half whole wheat flour instead of just all-purpose. I also tripled it, since we now have what feels like a million muffin-eaters here. YUM!

Chandler loved trying these. Have you ever seen a happier (and sleepier) face?

Happy Weekend!!!

13 years

Thirteen years of being married.

It feels like forever, but it also seems like the blink of an eye, all at the same time. At this point, we’ve spent more than a third of our lives together. We’ve created core memories and overcome all types of hardship. He’s stood by me through my own struggles, helped me to heal, and pushed me to come back stronger than before.

Even through all the tough stuff, he’s still my best friend.

I’ve been there watching him refine his skills as a software developer, become a leader in the industry, and this year, change to a new job position that he truly loves. I love having a front-row seat to watching all his growth, both professionally and spiritually.

It seems like we were just babies when we decided to marry each other compared to where we are now. I’m proud of how far we’ve come. 

I’m excited for everything we hope for in the future: watching our kids grow up, maybe moving to a place where we can have land and animals, and hopefully exploring Europe.

It feels like we’re in this middle space, where our oldest kids are nearly pre-teens, but we still have babies at home. We’re not the youngest, but we don’t feel “middle-aged” by any means, either. We know who we are, for the most part, but we’re still working together on refining our strengths.

I never could have imagined that our family would consist of the five most amazing little ladies and the sweetest baby boy. They’ve brought us so much joy, so much growth, and honestly,  a completely different (read: better) life than I had ever expected. They’ve stretched our energy levels, our patience, and our capacity to love more than we knew possible.

I sometimes think I would change almost every stylistic aspect of our wedding- I had no idea what I even liked back then. Still, I realize that I was focused on the most important parts- I’d never change my groom or the fact that we were privileged to be married inside the temple. I may not have known much, but I knew we were meant to be together, and following the gospel was the most critical element of our relationship.

Nothing happens without hard work, but today, I don’t take having a supportive, devoted partner for granted.

Happy 13th Anniversary, Bestie. I love you.

it is not enough

“Mommy, why are the flags down?”

This was the question my daughter asked as we drove past the local police station and noticed that they were at half-staff.

Swallowing tears, I told her that the United States is sad and grieving this week because someone took a gun into a school and killed children and teachers.

My heart has been broken this week. Emotions have run the gamut, from grief to anger to sadness over the mass school shooting in Uvalde, TX. I know all too well the excruciating sensation of having our community ripped open by gunfire. The uncertainty, the vulnerability, the pain, the loneliness, the rallying around each other… it all comes back in an instant.

This time, my emotions were overshadowed by a vast disbelief that something like this can happen over and over and over AGAIN because nothing has changed in the many years mass shootings have existed.

I lived on campus at Virginia Tech the day we had an active shooter situation, 15 years ago. Fifteen years. We locked down, tried to call our families through inundated cell phone lines, checked on all our friends, and prayed with all our hearts. Then, we found out classmates we knew had died. Their smiles, laughter, and zeal for life were forever taken from this world.

It is not enough to hold our babies tight and be thankful that it wasn’t us, this time.

It is not enough to teach our children what to do if they ever encounter an active shooter situation.

It is not enough to pray without taking action.

Please take a few minutes to contact your local representatives. We can make the change happen. If you need help finding contact information for yours, you can find it here:

United States House of Representatives
United States Senate

Make America a safe place for our children. The future really is depending on it.

seaworld: aquatica

Our first stop on our Florida vacation was SeaWorld’s waterpark, Aquatica! Honestly, I didn’t even know this place existed until I was looking to buy tickets for the regular SeaWorld park and the day resort, Discovery Cove. We ended up getting a 3-park ticket (good for unlimited visits for 14 consecutive days), which included the waterpark! I had no previous expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun we ended up having.

We went on a Monday in March, so although the park wasn’t all that big, it wasn’t crowded at all, which was wonderful. We had the perfect weather, too!

As soon as we arrived, the girls were eager to go down the “rapid lazy river” with Daddy, so while they jumped right in, Little Man and I just hung out and waited for them. He thought it was the most fun thing to climb over this little rock barrier and take leaves in and out of the water. It’s the simple things when you’re this little.
We found this awesome section of the park, intended for smaller kids, called Kookaburra Cove, that had some inner tubes, slides and other splash pad-type features. We ended up staying here for the vast majority of the day, parked in a shady spot where we could see just about everything. This was my happy place.I fell in love with all the foliage in Florida. Just look at these beautiful palms!
Eve was soaking it all up!I loved floating around with my girls! Nella had better things to do than pose for this picture, as you can see in the background, haha.Chandler humored me for a bit and floated in the tube, but he was honestly bored with this pretty quickly. It was a nice way to get a break from carrying him around all day, though! He did REALLY love the baby slides! Nella and Eve went with him a few times, and I held his hand as he went down, too. He was laughing and smiling so much, which was the best.All the girls loved these smaller slides and went on them as much as they possibly could!

Kaya and Kaelyn took the camera down the slide! I feel like Kaya sounds a lot like me here, which is funny to listen to!

Daddy took Kaya and Kaelyn on some of the really big slides elsewhere in the park, and then we all split some lunch (no outside food is allowed in the park, although we did have some fruit snacks)! Chicken tenders, fries, fruit, and chips poolside felt like perfect vacation food.Baby Girl was just starting to make her appearance this week, so I had to have some belly pictures!We did move over to the “big kid” section of the park after a while. There was a TON of water spraying and dumping everywhere, which ended up being a bit overwhelming for Eve. Nella wasn’t as sure about it at first, but she ended up having a good time.Eve needed a little break and took a nap on Daddy.We all felt like this by the end of the day!This boy. He was happy as can be just rearranging all the chairs. At our AirBnB, he kept reorganizing the baskets on the shelf, too, so we joked that maybe he’ll be an interior designer one day.
So much sun, sunscreen, and smiling. I love seeing my kids happy.We ended the day with showers and ice cream back at the house. Eve cracks me up in this one!

Aquatica was the perfect start to our vacation week!

baby #6!

SURPRISE!!!!!!!!!
Baby #6 is due in July…
And it’s a GIRL!!! 💕
We are already overwhelmed with love and gratitude for this little princess.
Michael and Chandler continue to be outnumbered…
💖💖💖💖💙💖
This is a clip of when we told the kids they were getting another sister. Kaya’s giant hug just completely melts my heart.

(PS- This is definitely NOT an April Fool’s joke!)

five favorites (11/06)

Happy weekend! I didn’t quite get to this yesterday, but better late than never! Here are a few of our fun moments lately:

ONE. Michael ended his work day a few hours early yesterday, and took Kaya and Kaelyn on a hike! They went to Bald Knob, which was about 2 miles up and back, and not too difficult for the kids. Kaya snapped about a hundred pictures and kept remarking, “Wow, it’s just so beautiful!” I love how the beauty of nature is even more greatly magnified in a child’s eyes.

They also loved taking pictures together.There were some “Instagram Influencers” up there who ended up getting a few awesome photos of Michael and the girls. I love this one!I love that they were able to have this special Daddy-daughter time.The views are breathtaking, even in pictures.

TWO. We have a pretty strict rule about no kids crawling into our bed at night, and no leaving their rooms without permission. Still, Eve is ready to run out of her room every morning at the earliest permissible moment. She loves to cuddle up, ask a bunch of questions, and play songs on her favorite puppy toy, who she named “Buddy”, after my parents’ dog.She insisted on wearing two foam rollers to bed. We insisted that she already has naturally curly hair, to no avail, obviously. She’s the spice of life.

THREE. We’ve still been doing house projects, and lately, the focus has been our own room! It’s something I put on the back burner for too long.

Michael built some new dressers, and Little Man was all excited watching the drill. He’s ready to help Daddy!It’s not done yet, but I’ve been enjoying this room. Having a calm space to relax in makes all the difference.

FOUR. More house things (are you bored yet? I actually love all this)… This week, I got to have a night out with my friend Jennie to browse for bathroom floor tile! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and lucky for me, she has experience with flooring. We just looked around for ideas, but I’m still so excited!

I am really loving these white hexagons. They’re timeless!Of course, I had to trick Michael and tell him I was thinking of getting these pebble tiles, which would make for the most interesting (and difficult) bathroom floor I’ve seen. He was baffled, but he didn’t say no right away. Haha!

FIVE. I keep getting all these throwback photos of my baby boy from exactly one year ago. There’s so much I never shared, so I can leave a little extra baby spam here now, right? Seriously though, he had the squishiest cheeks and sweetest lips. I miss this tiny little pumpkin!

Happy Saturday!

five on friday (10/29)

Happy Halloween Weekend!!! We are SO PUMPED for all the Halloween festivities coming up over the next couple of days. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

ONE. We’ve done quite a bit of Halloween crafting this week! Any guesses on our costume theme? The girls worked hard at tracing these bricks, and then I outlined them with a Sharpie.We gave Eve her own construction paper to practice on, since she didn’t quite understand the concept of tracing… and she was so very proud of herself for making a “baby yellow brick road”.If you still somehow haven’t managed to guess the theme, maybe Eve’s costume will help…She waited three weeks for it to come in the mail. When it finally arrived, she couldn’t wait to be “the witch with the tiny hat!” I love her enthusiasm for being the Wicked Witch!

TWO. These may not be Halloween costumes, but the girls have been wearing all sorts of dress-up outfits this week. Kaelyn made everyone (including her Doggy and two of Nella’s Beanie Babies) some pipe cleaner antennae. I love her creativity.Max and Huey had to match Nella, of course!

Nella has been a princess all week, and she “can never take her crown off, not even when she’s sleeping”. Haha. She matched glasses with her all-time favorite Beanie Baby, Max!

THREE. We’ve been spending as much time outdoors as we can, knowing that we’re right on the cusp of winter weather. Fall seems much too short here in the mountains. It’s finally been sweater weather, at least, and I am still completely obsessed with all the baby boy clothes. This little man in a sweater just about melted me!Nella is still learning to ride a big bike, and when Kaelyn stepped in and started helping her down the hills (without being asked), my heart was full. I love these sweet, thoughtful sisters.We also got to hang out with Lelia, Bryce, and Ryder last week! It was a quick visit (it could never seem long enough to me, anyway), but we had some fun in the sunshine at the playground. Google auto-generated this GIF, and I think it’s pretty perfect.

FOUR. Meanwhile, we’ve still been attempting (admittedly less often) to take care of the plants we put in this past summer. I’m hoping they survive the winter and grow some beautiful flowers next spring, but only time will tell. I went to pull some weeds this week, only to find Kaelyn taking my gloves and doing it all for me. She makes a very cute gardener!These other non-gardeners were monkeying around in the tree. Gosh I love their silliness.FIVE. There’s not enough of the Little Man in this post, so… here he is! I love when Daddy plays the “Go Get Mommy” game, and they both laugh and laugh like this. I took his last monthly photo of his first year, plus a few more of him with his birthday balloons before packing them away. It’s all so bittersweet.

five on friday (10/15)

It’s been about a month since I wrote one of these, and we’ve had a lot of bigger happenings (*ahem* three birthday parties pretty much in a row) that I hope to get to soon, but chronicling these small moments throughout the week means so much to me when I look back.

ONE. My mom came up for Chandler’s birthday party, and she brought a bunch of my old toys that I thought had been long gone. These Littlest Pet Shops and Pound Puppies were some of my very favorite things, and pretty much defined the 90s for me. I was so happy to see the girls play with them for hours on end.

TWO. The girls and I watched The Wizard of Oz last week, and they all loved it so much. Eve thought the Wicked Witch was hilarious and kept asking for her to come back, and Kaya seemed to understand the true makings of a classic movie. I caught them riding brooms around the driveway this week, saying, “I’ll get you my pretties!”

When you’re the littlest, your big sisters can really help you “fly”!

THREE. My three oldest went to church tonight to practice for the upcoming Primary Program, so it was just Eve, Chandler, and me. I snuggled Eve while we watched Daniel Tiger, let her share some of my special Lindt chocolate, and took them both on a walk to the playground. It was so very special just having that time with them. Having a big family is wonderful, but sometimes, it can be complete chaos, so stealing these little one-on-one moments feels so invaluable.Yes, she’s wearing a skirt over her overalls. I love her style.Eve said, “Watch, I’m gonna go fast!”Chandler throws his head back in the swing and laughs like crazy.

FOUR. Being a kid around Christmastime means one thing: you scramble for the yearly toy catalog when it arrives! Seeing them all poring over every toy in that book reminded me of when I was a kid, meticulously paging through the JCPenney holiday catalog, circling far too many items. Christmas is still magical at their ages, and I’m so excited for it. Also, I love my goofy dog in this one.

FIVE. Cousin Jack sent us a box full of Halloween goodies this week! The girls have loved wearing the glasses, fingers, and vampire teeth. They also painted some wooden Halloween decorations! We’re counting down the days until we can wear our costumes!

I told them to make “monster faces” for this one! Haha.

Happy weekend!

five on friday (09/03)

Happy September! The year is just flying on by, and with all the birthdays and holidays on the horizon, I know time isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Here are a few fun moments from our week:

ONE. The weather has been AMAZING. The humidity finally dropped, and we’ve had cooler evenings. That means that we haven’t been able to go to the pool lately, but we have had so many family walks. The girls love to ride their bikes and take turns walking Scout. Being outside with my people (and puppy) is my favorite.
Little man is so content to ride in the stroller and look at everything we pass on the way. He often takes a little snooze, too. TWO. We went to a new playground this week! The girls have seen it and asked to go to it for a while, and they were so happy to finally check it out! There are swings, a rock-climbing wall, a steep slide, and a rotating tire swing that I might have completely overdone it on (someone needs to remind me that I’m not eight years old anymore). Everyone had a blast! THREE. Every once in a while, we’ll let the girls have Nutella toast with breakfast. They all think this is the best treat ever, and I think Eve purposely tries to wear as much of it as possible on her face. Kaya snapped this photo so we’d remember her Nutella mustache forever.
Meanwhile, Little Man looks forward to the day I’ll finally let him have a fruit snack. I still really like fruit snacks myself. Any other adults like to eat “kid” snacks? I used to bring them to eat during my long training runs!FOUR. Calico Critters are still the number one toy around here. They’re so adorable, and I like playing with the girls with them, so no complaints here. It’s funny when they drive their long caravan around the house. Lately, the Critters have even gone to the hospital to have babies. I love that they all love playing together.FIVE. I bought a robot vacuum on Amazon Prime Day, and it’s probably the best thing EVER. Scout wasn’t too sure about it at first, but now she’ll lie down right in front of it and make it go around her. With 5 kids and a dog… it’s the best idea I ever had. We named it “Sharkie”, and he’s totally one of the family now.

five on friday (08/27)

ONE. This little Chandler man is sooo spoiled and definitely enjoys having four big sisters who play with him, read to him, and hold him constantly. His day is so full of fun because of them! Lately, his new favorite thing to do is take a ride in the Cozy Coupe car. There’s almost always someone willing to push him around, and if not, he’s just as content to sit there and play in it.

TWO. We’re making most of these last days of summer. I’m holding on tight to the sunshine, the warmth, and the outdoor family time with everything I’ve got. Ice cream just tastes better in the heat of the August, and even with fall enticing us with her crisp, cooler temperatures and sweet memories to be made, I’m just not ready to say goodbye to this season quite yet.The girls all think that having ice cream in a cone is an extremely exciting event!THREE. The deck is… almost… nearly… done! Michael had a friend from work come over and help on a few occasions. I’m so excited to see the color and how it’s coming together. I’m optimistically hoping that we can put some furniture out there and enjoy it before winter comes along. FOUR. There’s been a ton of extra love for Claire these past few weeks. The girls have been holding, visiting, and giving her more treats to help her feel less alone. I’m grateful we still have a piggy to hold. FIVE. His smile is the perfect way to kick off the weekend! He was laughing so hard at me while we were playing with a pair of sunglasses. I’m also kind of obsessed with his mint romper and that little anchor on it (anchors are Grandpa Peter’s favorite)! Happy weekend!