my beach-themed 30th birthday!

It’s a snowy day here again, and I realized that I somehow never wrote about my birthday last month, so what better time to reminisce about the beach-themed day we enjoyed?

Just after midnight on my birthday, Michael surprised me by telling me that he was taking the entire day off of work, just to spend it together! Time is really the best gift you can give anybody, and I appreciate his time so much because of how incredibly busy he is. I was also pretty excited that I got to sleep in for an extra half an hour! Kaya and Michael had been planning some secret special activities, so I didn’t want to sleep too long and lose time.

Even the weather felt like a gift to me- it was just perfect for running, and because Michael wasn’t rushing off to work, I wasn’t on a time crunch and could run as long as I wanted. I felt good, so I just kept going, and I ended up with 7.5 miles. I think a long run was definitely the perfect way to start my birthday!

It was a good thing I ran for so long, because it gave Michael, Kaya, and Kaelyn time to put all this together:

I walked into “Irwin Beach”, where there were coloring pages decorating all the walls, streamers, beach-themed music, and Michael finishing making pancakes while wearing his Hawaiian swim trunks. They couldn’t take me to my favorite place in February, so they brought it to me!
They didn’t just make any pancakes, either… these are modeled after my very favorite “Nutella S’mores” pancakes that I have when we go out for breakfast down in Myrtle Beach.Just imagine… Fluffy pancakes, covered in Nutella, whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and sprinkles. Mmmm! I ate 1.5 and was so FULL!A couple of little girls were really excited about the sprinkles! This baby girl was just as happy with a tray full of marshmallows!Great post-run fuel, right?Michael had been keeping the rest of the day’s plans a secret, but the girls spilled the beans about us needing our swimsuits shortly after breakfast was over, so I knew we were going to the aquatic center! It took a little while to collect everyone’s necessary suits and towels (we haven’t been swimming since last summer), but it was so worth it when we got there and saw the smiles on the girls’ faces.This was actually our first time going there, and I think Kaya and Kaelyn were equally excited and terrified by the water that would fall from the upper beams. And, as you can see, we were the only ones there besides one other family.The older girls loved going down this crocodile slide! Kaecakes, you crack me up.This was Nella’s first time ever swimming! I can’t believe it took us so long to take her to the pool, but it’s just not as easy as it was with Kaya and Kaelyn, since we had access to a neighborhood pool when they were babies. Nella had the best time, and although the water was a little chilly, she still didn’t want to get out.She was happy as long as she had this big red ball. Kaya had Daddy give her a mini swim lessson, mostly just practicing floating and kicking her legs up and down the short end of the pool. She really wants to learn to swim for real so she can go down that huge water slide in the back (no life jackets are allowed, and parents can’t wait at the bottom to catch their child, either, so she’d need to be completely independent).I love all these baby girls more than I could ever say. This outing had me feeling especially grateful for homeschool, too, because it allowed us to all be together, Kaya included. These are the best days.Michael did have to go and teach his afternoon class, so while he headed off to do that, we all washed up, ate lunch, and had naps. Kaelyn gave me about a thousand sweet homemade cards that she had hidden about a week before my actual birthday. Our sweet new baby girl spent a lot of the day kicking in my belly, which felt like a little gift, too. We ended the day at one of our favorite places- Red Robin!I honestly couldn’t have come up with any better way to spend my birthday. Thirty is looking really great so far.

five on friday (02/03)

It’s February! The countdown to my birthday begins (9 days)! But for now, here are my top five moments from this week:

ONE. These little girls were so excited to celebrate Groundhog Day this week! For preschool, we learned all about groundhogs and made these adorable hats. They absolutely love learning about animals and the world around us, so they really enjoyed this activity. Kaelyn has been wearing her hat ever since she made it (except for sleeping, of course)! TWO. We finally got outside for some fresh air this week! Overall, I feel like it’s been a relatively warm winter, but I’ve still been wary of taking the baby out in chilly temperatures (although she’s probably the warmest of anyone, what with being curled up against me in the wrap with all her layers of clothing).

Anyway, there is nothing that seems to rejuvenate us more than some sunshine and cool, crisp air.

THREE. When the cutest baby in the whole world stops nursing for no reason other than to look up at you and give you the best gift she can… a giant smile!

FOUR. This might not look like much to most people, but at 3 months postpartum, I’m proud of both my pace and distance from Saturday. I saw a meme this morning that said something like “It doesn’t matter how far you go, how fast you are, or how long it takes… it just matters that you DO it!” I’m improving and feeling so good about it. FIVE. And apparently, when I run a lot, I start craving pancakes. Big, soft, fluffy pancakes! Michael whipped up this recipe for the first time, and it’s definitely a keeper. I made this syrup, but instead of a full tablespoon of maple extract, I used half maple and half vanilla. If there are pancakes in heaven, these are them. Mmmm.

Linking up here, here, and here today!

thanksgiving 2016

This was the first year ever that we didn’t travel for Thanksgiving. We felt like taking a long trip in the car would be pretty difficult with such a young baby, so we’d planned to enjoy the holiday at home. We had a restful day, but honestly, I did end up missing seeing all our relatives (and the hilarity that ensues when a whole lot of family gets together)! It just felt a little too quiet to be Thanksgiving!

In the morning, Michael went to play football with some guys from church, so we girls whipped up some pumpkin bread for breakfast and watched the Macy’s parade. I loved watching it as a child, and it was so much fun to see my girls enjoying it just as much as I always did. Kaya was completely obsessed with the Hello Kitty balloon, and Kaelyn cried when her favorite puppy balloon walked off screen. They both got excited when they saw Spongebob, since he’s Grandpa Skip’s favorite, and insisted that I take a picture and send it to him.

While the food cooked, we spent the afternoon making bead animals. They invited me to join in, and they were thrilled when I helped each of them create their own animal.img_20161124_140914Nella hung out with Daddy for a while…_mg_6815_mg_6816I had never cooked the traditional Thanksgiving meal before, so in the weeks leading up to the big day, I collected advice and counsel from anyone willing to talk to me about making a decent turkey. I ended up dry-brining the bird with salt and some of my favorite spices about three days ahead of time. Immediately before I put it in the oven, I shoved some lemon slices and a few chopped cloves of garlic into the body cavity, placed a few slices of butter under the skin, and brushed some melted butter over top of it._mg_6813

The meat turned out so tender and flavorful, and it made a ton of gravy. Mmmm._mg_6819

Michael carved it for us._mg_6820We had garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and biscuits along with our turkey._mg_6826Our table wasn’t set all fancy, and I pretty much had to bribe my kids to eat anything other than broccoli and rolls… but it was a delicious dinner with the people I love most.
_mg_6835I’ve got a couple of broccoli monsters over here. I can’t believe my kids beg for vegetables, but I’m not complaining!
_mg_6829_mg_6832For dessert, we had the traditional choco-mint freeze (made even easier this year because Kroger had peppermint ice cream)!_mg_6836Dessert makes everyone happy._mg_6838_mg_6839And apparently, a little crazy._mg_6840_mg_6841

five on… tuesday?

I missed writing my five on Friday post… So I’m breaking all the rules and writing this on a Tuesday.

ONE. We’ve been stuck inside with all these frigid temperatures, so it’s a good thing the girls have their new Christmas toys to play with. If you’re not sure where one of the kids is, check the tent- it’s their new favorite hideout. Kaya even played “house” in there with me last week. She was the mommy, and I was the baby, which meant that all I had to do was lie there and let her tuck me in with some blankets. I’ll play that game anytime, Kaya._MG_0701TWO. I taught our preschool co-op last week, and we did the letter “m”. Of course, we had to play with/eat marshmallows and make these adorable mice.

We also tried “Q-tip painting” for the first time, and the kids really got into it. Kaya was so excited about it that she painted two more numbers the next day.

THREE. I tried this crock pot meatless spaghetti sauce recipe, and it made quite a few jars to freeze. It was delicious enough to make again, and I feel at least somewhat on the ball for having homemade sauce stowed away for future meals._MG_0717 FOUR. There has been a whole lot of K’nex building going on here lately. Kaya loves to pick out what Daddy will make for her, and then both girls help find the pieces for him. They made a hot air balloon last Sunday, which ended with us all watching videos about them on YouTube, so we could show Kaya what they really look like. I love that we have access to technology to make learning at home possible._MG_0718 _MG_0720 FIVE. Someone has been doing some serious reading around here lately! Kaelyn loves this “Potty” book, although I don’t think we’re anywhere near training her. I love my little bookworm._MG_0724

christmas 2015

Finally, here it is, our Christmas day post! I wanted to remember all the details when we look back at this someday, so I included way too many pictures.

On Christmas Eve night, we went to our church’s Christmas Eve devotional. It is always the perfect activity for putting me in the right Christmas spirit and keeps me thinking about our Savior’s birth as I finish preparations for Christmas morning.

We wrapped a few last presents and set everything up. It’s always so magical to see everything all put together under the glowing lights of the tree.

We always tend to stay up too late on any given day… but on Christmas Eve, we stay up even later. We are just a couple of big kids, too excited to lie down and close our tired eyes. We finally went to bed around 1:15 am, only to wake up to Kaya needing to use the bathroom at 5:30 am. Luckily, she fell back to sleep in our bed… until 8 am! I was surprised at how late they slept._MG_0476

Their big shared gift was a princess castle tent. The squeals and giggles we heard as they entered the living room couldn’t have been any louder!_MG_0486

Obviously, this was a big hit. Kaya insisted on putting each of her gifts in here after she unwrapped them!_MG_0490

Kaelyn still doesn’t really know what to do with candy, but she loved her stocking anyway._MG_0491

Puppy for Kaelyn, cat for Kaya (of course)._MG_0493

Lately, Kaya has been obsessed with Silly Bands. She got a pack of pet-themed ones in her stocking and usually insists on wearing all 24 of them at once. Haha.


This is real life… one sister always wants what the other one has. But hey, an Olaf backpack is pretty cool.
_MG_0502Don’t worry, Kaelyn had plenty of her own things to open, too. She was so good at ripping the wrapping paper off of everything!_MG_0505


Olaf had to read his own story, obviously._MG_0518_MG_0520Perler beads were one of my favorite things as a little girl… I think Kaya might still be a little young to use them on her own, but we’ve had fun sitting down together and making something.
_MG_0521An aquadoodle for the girl who already loves to draw…_MG_0522I ended up wrapping a few of the things I bought to use for our preschool lessons. Why not?_MG_0508A Daniel Tiger trolley! This was the only thing she specifically said she wanted for Christmas._MG_0514Kaelyn was so excited for her special gift…_MG_0528… a baby doll! She tried to take her out of the box before we could even undo the packaging._MG_0532One very happy little girl._MG_0533You can’t really tell from this picture, but Kaya has been loving Minnie Mouse lately and was SO excited about this little dress-up set._MG_0525_MG_0524Michael got a new Star Wars t-shirt…_MG_0538… and something I’ve been wanting to get for him for a while… K’nex! He and the girls have already had a lot of fun making different things to play with together (usually Daniel Tiger fits perfectly inside whatever car/truck/hot air balloon they make, so that’s pretty convenient)!_MG_0542And, you can’t really tell what’s going on here (besides Kaelyn screaming), but Michael’s big gift was a hammock! It will be so nice to have when we go camping (hopefully when it warms up), or just to set up outside whenever we like._MG_0543We kept breakfast super simple and enjoyed some snowman donuts…_MG_0551_MG_0553_MG_0561… while Michael temporarily set up and enjoyed his hammock. I’m pretty sure this was the perfect gift for him this year.
_MG_0563Someone else really liked it too…_MG_0569_MG_0573_MG_0577

My gifts were some bluetooth headphones and a selfie stick, so of course, we had to put that to good use. Here’s to getting in more pictures with my family!

Michael spent most of the day building helicopters, stars…_MG_0581… and a camera! This one was my favorite for sure._MG_0578Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn stopped by on their way back into town. They had presents for the girls… an Olaf hat and a ball pit! Needless to say, Kaya was having a blast._MG_0587We ate our Christmas dinner late, but it was so delicious. I’m definitely improving at this whole cooking-holiday-dinner thing. We had pot roast (in the crockpot), the best, creamiest garlic mashed potatoes I’ve ever had, broccoli, and homemade rolls from the Teerlink family cookbook._MG_0590Kaya thought that Jesus should have a birthday cake on Christmas, so we made this Norwegian chocolate cake (Sjokoladekake). It was less than beautiful (especially since this picture is after I already cut off a chunk to send home with Karl), but oh so delicious. I’d love for this to be a new tradition._MG_0596

The festivities ended, and all I could think about was how much I loved seeing my whole family smiling all day long. Their joy is the greatest gift they could ever give me.

five on friday (1/08)

I think I just keep pretending we’re still on vacation… so I know I still haven’t posted any photos from our Christmas day yet (maybe because I took too many and still haven’t gone through them all… ha), but we had a good week, and I couldn’t let it go undocumented.

These small, seemingly-mundane posts usually turn out to be some of my favorites when I go back and read them later.

ONE. Winter has finally arrived on our little hillside- we had our first snow! It didn’t really accumulate, but it came down in big, fluffy flakes, so I’m counting it. The girls were quite excited… especially Kaelyn, since she is too young to remember the many blizzards we had last year!

TWO. What better food to eat during the cold weather than warm, gooey pancakes? Kaya and Kaelyn have had pancakes for breakfast every single day this week. My mom gave me a griddle for Christmas, so I put it to good use by making a double batch of these and freezing them._MG_0687

THREE. We also tried a couple of new recipes this week, including these buffalo chicken wings and these cheesy potatoes. Both were keepers!FOUR. We did get back on track with our homeschool preschool this week, after taking a couple weeks off for the holidays. Kaya has been SO excited and asks me to “do school” almost as soon as she wakes up every morning. We did the letter “D” and so of course, we had to make a “dog” craft.


FIVE. We had some fun times with Karl (and Kaitlyn) this week! Mario Kart Wii and Apples to Apples Pictures will never get old. I also love that Karl loves my guinea pigs as much as I do!_MG_0684Happy weekend! Keep warm (like Freyja)! 🙂_MG_0708

five on friday (5/8)

Happy Friday!

ONE. This little princess sported her first-ever side ponytail today! How does my baby already have enough hair for this? It took Kaya two years to have enough for the tiniest ponytail!_MG_7392Cutest.tiny.pony.ever.
_MG_7410 TWO. We tried this recipe for burrito bowls this week, and let me tell you… if you like Mexican food, you need to make these! Easy, cheap, and it tastes like something from a restaurant. Mmm. (One batch also made a TON of food… we ate it for three days straight and there were no complaints!)_MG_7379THREE. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. When you put the time and effort into real prayer and scripture study, exercising your faith, it is amazing how close Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ really are. They aren’t some obscure beings far away in the middle of outer space… They are so much nearer to us than we realize, and I know They are willing and wanting to help us with whatever trial we may be facing. Reach out to Them with a willing heart and They will give you peace.11161349_10153185080206550_6718020554254106757_n(via

FOUR. My kids are totally wild and crazy, and I couldn’t imagine life any other way. I love these two sweeties with my whole heart. (And I keep accidentally dressing us in color-coordinating outfits, haha!)
IMG_20150506_170539FIVE. Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the women out there… whether you have babies here on earth or not. You don’t have to give birth to nurture, love, and essentially mother someone else… and I know so many of you do just that! Thank you for being you.

Happy weekend!!!

(Linking up with April today!)

five on friday: a great baby and some good eats

ONE. With all the rain we’ve been having (plus Kaya being sick), we only made it out for one walk this week. This sweet baby definitely enjoyed her fresh air (and 30-minute nap in the stroller, which she so desperately needed but never would have taken at home)! I think she just has the cutest little scrunchy-faced grin. 🙂Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

TWO. Kaelyn definitely enjoyed playing with anything she wanted to while Kaya vegged out on the couch this week. It’s not often that she gets to even touch any of Kaya’s toys without there being some sort of toddler protest. The shape sorter is a pretty hot commodity around here!_MG_7175 (p.s.- her baby blues… be still my heart!)_MG_7184

THREE. We had the sister missionaries over for dinner this week, and I tried this new enchilada recipe. It was a hit and SO easy!

FOUR. We also might’ve gone through a whole tray of these cookie bars in a week. Oops. I haven’t made them for at least a year, but they were just as amazing as we remembered!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset FIVE. No cookies for this peanut, but she did get to try some pureed veggies this week.  It seems like she’s more of a fruit lover, so these vegetables didn’t thrill her. She’s such a good sport (and an amazing baby) that she gave them a fair try anyway. Love this messy little face!Processed with VSCOcam with m6 presetHappy weekend! 🙂

Linking up with Christina and friends today!

spaghetti and crepes

Usually, our weekends consist of a whole lot of nothing… but this weekend, we actually had PLANS! It really felt great to get out as a family and enjoy some time together.

We kicked off our Friday with our church institute class, a little dollar store shopping, and then a spaghetti dinner with Daddy! It was a fundraiser for Relay for Life, and a good excuse to get out of the house. Kaya probably ate her weight in pasta!
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Nobody slept in on Saturday morning, but we had a lot to get done, so I was glad to be up early. We had one of our amazing young women, Alayna, over in the early afternoon for Michael to start teaching her a little bit of computer programming. Kaya sat on her lap the entire time and loved showing off all her little tricks to “Eena!”_MG_6865

Michael had to go practice singing/playing piano for the church Easter program, so we girls were left to our own devices for a few hours. We bundled up to take a walk, but we came home after maybe five minutes- it was waaaay too windy! Kaelyn had her sock off within a few seconds of walking through the door._MG_6880

Michael came home, babies went to bed, and a couple of my friends came over for crepes and to watch the General Women’s Broadcast! I actually made a double batch of these crepes so that we could have some with Alayna while she was over for programming, and then share the rest with my friends during the broadcast. There were so many leftover that we ended up finishing them for dinner on Sunday night!

Sunday looked a lot like this. It’s so hard having church at 1 pm this year, since naptime on a normal day is at 1 pm. Is it 2016 yet so we can go back to 9 am church?_MG_6908


how to be the worst online shopper ever

1. Find something cute that you really want to buy.
2. Spend copious amounts of time making price comparisons with other websites.
3. Decide that the deal isn’t going to get any better than it already is, and add the item to your cart.
4. Spend more time to thoroughly make sure that there aren’t any coupon codes you could use.
5. If you’re paying for shipping (AKA you didn’t find a code for free shipping in step #4), spend even more time contemplating if there’s anything else you need to buy from the same website. If you’re already paying to send something to your house, you might as well make it worth it, right?
6. Remember how much you really hate to spend money.
7. Stare at your shopping cart for a while before deciding to just go ahead with the purchase.
8. Click “checkout”, only to find that your super-cute item is now sold out. WHOOPS!

I apparently take waaaay too long to make decisions, because the above scenario keeps. on. happening! I was hoping to get my girls some sunhats and flip-flops for their Easter baskets… but so far, I haven’t had any luck. It also seems like Kaya’s size is always sold out!

Anyway, we had a great, relaxing weekend (yeah, I’m totally blogging about the weekend on a Tuesday. That’s what all the cool kids are doing. (and by cool kids, I actually just mean me…)

I’ve been wanting a big breakfast for a couple weeks now, so I finally just went ahead and made one. Bacon, eggs, and this recipe for pancake squares. They tasted just the same and were SO much easier!


I also had a pretty great run. Maybe I’m not the fastest, but I’m so happy with a sub 9-minute average pace! It was a gorgeous, sunny day (with some wind), and I definitely enjoyed some time to myself (well, you know, with a crazy dog).03212015runstats 03212015runsplitsAll of us girls have either had seasonal allergies or a slight cold… so this little sweetie wasn’t quite as peppy as usual. You’d never know it from this picture though! That scrunchy-nosed grin is my favorite thing about my baby.
_MG_6822Happy Tuesday! We’re off to a great week so far! 🙂