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!

splish splash (pool days)

Halfway through the summer, when it’s consistently warm enough to swim here, we joined a pool! I had completely forgotten that this pool existed, but it’s the only one in town you can join without living in a particular neighborhood or being a country club member. This little place feels like a lucky find.We’ve been able to go swimming several times. The girls were all a little apprehensive at first. The beginning of the pandemic canceled swim lessons, so it had been about a year and a half since they’ve swum on a consistent basis. They didn’t seem to remember how to hold their breath underwater at all on that first day!Eve had to hold onto us the entire time at first. Now, she’s jumping in (with her life jacket) and getting her head all the way under! I’m amazed at how her confidence has grown in the past few weeks.They have pool noodles for everyone, so if no one else is using them, Kaya has been ”the queen of the noodles”  and floats on as many as possible all around the pool.Nella and Eve got some goggles, and they are obsessed with them. Eve wanted to sleep with hers on at first (which we vetoed). Nella doesn’t care if she has hair in her face (how?!) but she is getting good at jumping in on her own, too. My mini man had his first real swim… ever! He liked it, but I think he mostly just tolerates the water, to be honest. He did do a little bit of splashing, but he’s not interested in staying in as long as his sisters are, that’s for sure.Also, I will never get enough of soft baby toes.

Chandler has really been such a great sport with nursing in public and hanging out when he’d rather be taking a nap. He hasn’t had a lot of practice with all that since he’s spent almost his entire life at home.

Daddy makes things pretty fun on the weekend! Everyone goes home tired and happy.

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!

baby #5: 30 weeks

(written August 14th)

30s!!! I can’t even believe we’re here. Somehow, this has simultaneously felt like the longest journey ever and also a mystery as to where the last 7 months have gone. We’re at that point in time now where I feel like we’re so close to the end, but still so far.

Baby’s size: My apps say just over 3 pounds and about 16 inches long. Random size comparisons for this week include a platypus, a motorcycle helmet, or a cantaloupe!

Maternity clothes?: Should this even be a question at this point? Nella always wants to match clothes with me, and she still tries to choose tops out of my regular drawer. It’s so sad when I have to tell her that none of those fit right now because she makes the most let-down pouty face ever.

To be honest, I feel kind of huge this time around. My weight is right around where it always is at this point… It’s just amazing how there can be so much variability in bump size and shape based on so many different factors.

Gender: BOY!

Symptoms: I’ve been doing okay! I went back and read my 30-week post with Eve, and apparently, I was already having Braxton Hicks contractions, which seems totally crazy! I am surprised that I haven’t noticed any yet, since it seems like many moms get them earlier and earlier with each subsequent pregnancy. I am definitely not complaining!

Sleep: I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep at night again. My brain just won’t quiet down, and if Michael falls asleep before me, it’s even harder for me. I am still napping every day, but I’ve been really trying to limit for how long, since I know that can affect my nighttime sleep. It kind of feels like a vicious cycle. I’ve had some weird dreams this week, too- one where I went over my due date, and another where I saw my placenta and it was all gray and dead-looking, not like a placenta should be at all. It was pretty creepy, actually.

Movement: He is still my strong, wild boy! I love feeling him dance around as I fall asleep and wake up. He’s getting so strong and sometimes his movements hurt a little or surprise me! He was breech at our ultrasound last week, and I know he probably has been flipping around throughout the pregnancy, but overall, I feel like he’s spent the vast majority of the last 12 weeks head-down. I’m pretty sure he’s been head-down again because his super strong feet keep pushing up above my belly button. Also, he had hiccups for the first time that I’ve noticed! They were as low as possible in my belly, so I’m still thinking he flipped back.

Cravings: Nothing really. I feel like I eat because I have to most of the time, not because I really want to. 

What I miss: Maybe just not feeling so tired all the time.

Anything making you queasy or sick?: Sometimes I wake up feeling queasy, and I’m usually nauseous again after dinnertime. I get nauseous when I go uphill on my runs, which is kind of annoying, but it’s really been okay. I have been able to eat and I’m not confined to my bed like I was so much with Eve. I’m trying my hardest to stay functional.

Belly Button in or out?: Flat, and just when I think it can’t get any flatter, it does! I apparently have a freckle that is usually in my belly button that’s now just visible on my belly. Weird.

Exercising?: Ran 21.9 miles (longest run was 5.1 miles); walked 1 mile. Best average pace this week was 10:06 min/mile. Running has been good this week. My biggest enemy is just fatigue! I’ve also really been cracking down on doing more yoga consistently, which helps with any hip soreness for sure.

Mood: I’ve been really working hard on controlling any fears and trying to stay positive. Also, I’ve still just been nesting like crazy. I organized all our holiday stuff into plastic bins, and came up with a bag to donate and a bag to trash. I also bought a headboard for our bed (which unfortunately came damaged) because I really want to make that a cozy space before I’m in there nursing a baby so often. I still have things I want to hang on the wall, and I really want to get started with painting the guest room/baby’s future room.

Best moment this week: Michael took Kaya and Kaelyn on a hike this week, and they had the best time. It also meant that I got to have a whole day with Nella and Eve! It felt special to just be with the two of them. We played American Girl Dolls and I gave them thin mint cookies with their lunch.

Looking forward to: Doing some more little projects around the house! I’m also figuring out if I’m making him a baby blanket and what that might look like.

Big sisters: Kaya and Kaelyn have made him some cards for when he comes home. They are sad that they won’t be allowed to visit at the hospital due to COVID-19. All the girls kiss my belly (Eve says, “Say hi to baby!”) when she comes to kiss my belly. So sweet.

Comparison: 30 weeks with Kaya; 30 weeks with Kaelyn; 30 weeks with Nella; 30 weeks with Eve.

P.S.- Michael loves to leave these silly pictures on my camera. Ha!

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!