teerlink family christmas party (2019)

We always love going to the annual Teerlink Christmas party. It’s fun to see Michael’s extended family, eat delicious food (which means waaay too much mac and cheese for me), and remember our Savior at this special time of year.

This was the smallest group we’ve had at any of the family parties I’ve been to, so we missed a lot of people. We still had enough people to put on the play!I thought Kaya might be too tall to fit in the lamb costume this year, so we were both very happy to see she still did! I loved having three little lambies and a shepherd in the play.
Lelia was an angel this year (perfect role for my sister, if you ask me), and we had a plastic baby doll for the first time in a while! There’s no way Eve would have cooperated, haha.

I love singing the songs and feeling the Spirit. I always think about the previous generations who put on this exact play and wore these same costumes, and somehow, that legacy always touches my heart. There have been so many amazing people who have come before us.

Kaya had the very special job of helping Great Grandpa Teerlink hand out his cards. She did a great job.

Grandma Gina brought a special gift for the girls- handmade baby doll beds! These have gotten so much use over the past few months.

I always love to sit with Grandpa and hear some of his stories. He has made me feel so included in the family.

And some more pictures with Grandpa T, just because!

We love these days as a family and these Christmas memories.

christmas at grandma debbie’s (2019)

I’m still catching up on the Christmas posts, and I’m hoping to be done here in the next week or so. I used to feel like I had to blog every single memorable thing we did… but now, I’m really just trying to highlight the big stuff so the girls will have it when they’re older.

We got to spend a couple of days before Christmas with my side of the family, where we enjoyed my mom’s amazing home cooking, relaxing and watching Gomer Pyle with my Dad, and opening some Christmas gifts!

My mom always does such a great job on her tree.This was Nella’s face through most of opening things. She doesn’t like to show emotion, so she’ll get super serious. Clearly, everyone else was excited about her Elmo ornament.Grandma Debbie always gives the girls matching Christmas jammies! I hope we’ll always be able to find identical sets in all their sizes, because this is quite possibly my favorite part of Christmas. Calico Critters! Kaya and Kaelyn were hoping for these buses for a long time. Koalas for a Nella who blinked.Hatchimals!A Care Bear (who she named “Cherry Bear”) for Nellie.Eve got really into opening gifts this year. She loved her Duplos!Michael received a couple of signed Greg Olsen prints! So beautiful. Ponies! My mom really wanted this “inside out” umbrella. It was pretty cool, actually!And a Chewy gift card for my Dad so he can spoil his favorite Buddy.I’m looking wiped out here, but happy with Fantastic Beasts 2 and some pretty hair clips. My mom knows me well!

five favorites (02/03)

I didn’t get this done on Friday, but what better way is there to start the week than with a “Five” post? These always put me in a good mood. I love sharing my joy.

ONE. Last week, Michael had a business trip out to Utah! We missed him so much, but we made it through. The girls were all such HUGE helpers the entire time he was gone. They even kept lists so they could show Daddy their good deeds. We took them to Sweet Frog for frozen yogurt as a special treat when Daddy came home.Just being all together is the best ever.Eve was really happy about getting something sweet.We sure missed our Daddy!TWO. In addition to the conference he went to, Michael had a whole lot of fun in Utah. He got to see Kevin and Jack, visit with some of his cousins, and stay the night at our dear friends’ house. To be honest, I’m totally jealous I didn’t get to go and see all of them, too!He was able to visit some temples. This one is Manti!He was also able to do some work in the Provo City Center Temple. We saw this being built about 6.5 years ago. It’s so beautiful! Look at these amazing clouds he flew through on the way home. The fact that humans can fly at all is still so amazing to me. This is breathtaking.THREE. What’s better than a baby fresh out of the bath? Those big blue eyes and cute hooded towel over her head just melt me.Also, these pruney little toes!Tickles from Kaelyn. Kaya loves to help give Nella and Eve their baths lately. She even made a mohawk for Nella! This was too funny and cute.FOUR. Kaelyn might still be in Kindergarten, but she completed her math books back at the beginning of December, and has moved on to her first grade curriculum. Math comes so easily to her, so she’ll just do as many pages as she can in a day. It feels crazy to already be going through this book again, since Kaya did the same one a couple of years ago. How does time go that fast?I’m so proud of these girls and all their hard work.FIVE. Kaya is getting really good at using my camera. She took this in manual mode, using back-button focus. She’s done it a few times now, and I’m really impressed. She keeps filling up her own camera’s memory card, too. I’m sure she’s going to get into photography when she’s older.Happy Monday!

halloween 2019

Our Halloween was a little different this year because we were out of town due to Karl’s wedding, which was the night before. We were able to visit with family and trick-or-treat in my parents’ neighborhood, which was a fun opportunity. Since we weren’t home, we did miss a few of our usual Halloween activities, like trick-or-treating at Daddy’s work and the annual church trunk-or-treat.

Kaya also woke up with a fever, aches, and chills on the morning of Halloween, so she missed out on most of the trick-or-treating. Kaelyn was really lost without her best buddy, which you can see in the group pictures.

Everyone was also content to wear costumes we already had, so we didn’t buy anything new this year. I was grateful that they were fine with keeping it simple.

Eve wore the lion costume that Nella wore two years ago, which is still just as cute as ever. She wasn’t very interested in pictures, but she was fascinated by the leaves. Oh my heart. Too much cuteness.Nella wore the elephant costume! It’s so fun to think of my three oldest all having worn it now.This was the first year I couldn’t really get everyone on board with a family theme, and then when Kaya ended up sick, Michael stayed home with her and didn’t worry about a costume. I’m glad I still got this picture of him with Nellbells!This giraffe costume always makes me giggle a little. Kaelyn was almost too tall for it! This is her giraffe face, I think. Haha.They weren’t really into group pictures without Kaya.I have always wanted to be a witch for Halloween, so I created my own version of the Wicked Witch to go with Eve’s lion costume (although there is absolutely nothing ”cowardly” about this brazen girl)! I had so much fun doing some different-than-usual make-up.My Dad had this brand-new wolf mask that  he was so excited to wear. The mouth really moved and everything, which made it a little scarier than it’d seem.My Dad, Mom, and I took all the kids except Kaya out around the neighborhood for a while. They were so happy to take their grandkids trick-or-treating for the first time ever, and I’m glad we could all do it together.Eve ate any candy she could get her hands on before we figured out that she shouldn’t be allowed to hold her bucket. She came home with a very chocolatey face! Kaya stayed home with Michael and handed out candy on the porch. She finally felt well enough to eat something, and so when we returned with the younger girls, she said she wanted to try to go out for a bit. It was just her and I, which felt really special. She also got a lot of candy, because by this time, people were wrapping up and just dumping all the candy they had left into her bucket. Toward the end of our time, a thunderstorm started, so we ran home just before the rain poured down.My mom baked some sugar cookies that everyone decorated at the end of the night. It was the perfect way to finish the day.We traveled home the next day, and as it turned out, our town had postponed Halloween due to horrendous weather.  Kaya wasn’t up for going out, but I took Kaelyn and Nella around our neighborhood for a bit and had a lot of fun. I was excited we got to have a second, unexpected, Halloween.

mill mountain zoo

Back in the fall (when the weather was still warm and glorious!), we went up to Mill Mountain Zoo for the first time ever. It was the morning of Kaya’s birthday party, and we thought it would be a really fun activity to do with the Grandparents in town. Luckily for us, our friends, Ben and Brittany, were also in the area, and agreed to meet us there. We had quite a group! It wasn’t crowded at all, and it also happened to be a special-event weekend, where they had different booths set up by various nonprofits. The girls ended up getting various free things, like sunglasses, bouncy balls, cups, pencils, and bubbles. They even received several quality books courtesy of the public library.

Eve really knows how to rock a pair of sunglasses!Blowing bubbles kept Nella occupied for quite a while.The actual zoo was incredibly small, so we really only saw a few animals, but I really enjoyed the simplicity of it. Some favorites included this Snow Leopard……the Red Panda (who we also got to observe during feeding time!)… …the Bald Eagle……the Red Wolf…
…the Eastern Screech Owl……and some turtles! The girls loved seeing all of these in real life so much.There were also some fun crafts, like this paper Red Panda and some pinwheel flowers! While the older girls did crafts, Eve had some Grandma snuggles and snacks.She also loved having some extra play time with Daddy. Her cute little belly button peeking out in this one really gets me.We all went to an “Animal Encounter” show, where we learned some facts about ferrets, and the girls even got to pet one. Afterward, we waited for the zoo train, which only runs once an hour. Ben read a book to everyone while we were in line.I also took a bunch of pictures while we waited, because why not?Yay! So happy I could spend some time with Brittany.And my mom!Baby switch! No one was quite ready for this picture.We squeezed onto the train, all except grandparents because we literally took up the entire thing. It was such a fun little ride!We went around the zoo twice!Ben and Brittany headed home, but we stayed a little longer so we could do some of the extra activities. We met a giant Red Panda!Kaya and Kaelyn both had their faces painted. This might have been the highlight of the trip for them. I loved watching their reactions when they looked in the mirror for the first time. Cutest little kitty. Sweetest little Dalmatian.This is surely one of my favorite memories. I’m grateful for all of these amazing Grandparents and our wonderful friends. Those smiling faces are everything to me.

campground fun and a visit with great-grandpa

Just before Michael’s birthday, we were able to drive up to Waynesboro for a short day trip. We hung out at the campground my in-laws were staying at, and we also had the chance to visit Grandpa Teerlink! We’ve been saying “yes” to more trips and opportunities, and it’s made for a lot of great family memories. I hope we can keep taking little trips like these.

The first thing the girls did was feed the local ducks. The shop on site had special duck food and everything, which Grandma Gina surprised them with. The girls were just obsessed with these baby ducks. The mama was fearsome and drove away nearly all the other adults so her babies could eat. After watching her, I couldn’t help thinking that the term “mama bear” needs to be replaced with “mama duck”!

I know Grandma’s eyes are closed in this one, but Grandpa’s photo-bomb was too good to leave out!There was some pink-sunglasses wearing… (and Grandpa cuddles!)Kaelyn’s smile just kills me. She’s so happy.There was a little dog park there, so Scout was able to run around and meet other dogs! She did really well with socializing, and I think we wore her out.There was the coolest playground there in the shape of a ship! The girls loved this so much and probably could have played on it all day had we done no other activities.There was even a pole to slide down into the lower level! So cool.Grandpa gets credit for the next two photos. I am basically a giant kid and love playing on playgrounds, too.Seriously, she’s too cute.Afterward, we got everyone ready and walked to the pool on site. Nella loves riding in this floatie more than Eve does, and frequently asks to go in it. The time seemed to go by so fast, and before we knew it, we were out of the pool and headed back to change again.The girls fed the ducks some more when we got back (ignore all our pool towels and floaties behind them…)Evie loved watching.To end the visit, Michael had a little birthday celebration! There was ice cream, but I think he was pretending to blow out invisible candles here?Nella the helper.As Kaya said, “That’s a lot of M&Ms!”He also got new shoes.We packed up the van (with four kids, it seems like we need so much stuff just for a day trip), and headed over to Great-Grandpa Teerlink’s house.
We enjoyed some Wendy’s, and I had the privilege of listening to him tell sweet stories about his wife and their lives together when they were younger. I really cherish those memories and insights. I really feel lucky to be loved by this family and to be able to glean wisdom from Michael’s grandparents.We had to take a few four-generation pictures. Kaya was super tired by this point and not really into it, but we tried.Yup. Kaya was done.Dad, on the other hand, never tires of leaving pictures like these on my camera! I kind of love it.We love you, Grandpa T!

five favorites (09/28)

Happy Saturday! I wanted to post this yesterday, but we were traveling home from Raleigh, so I was a little short on time. It feels like life has been nonstop busy for the last couple of weeks, and I have a lot to catch up on here, but today I just wanted to share a few of the little things that have recently brought us joy.

ONE. Michael was ordained a high priest and set apart as second counselor in the bishopric at our church this past Sunday. I’m so grateful for his willingness to serve, his strong testimony of Jesus Christ, and the love he has for everyone around him. We enjoyed having so many family members visit for this special day. His parents, cousins Nicole and Brian and their boys, and my mom! We enjoyed our time together for sure.There always has to be a crazy picture.These three have taught me so much about selfless service.All the heart eyes for this guy and our sleepy little Nels. I’m so thankful for my best friend.

TWO. We also got to go on a date last weekend! We don’t get many of these, but since our parents were in town, we had the opportunity and took it. We tried to go to a fancy place we had a giftcard for… only to find out that we needed a reservation. We decided that we’d eat outdoors at a local Mexican restaurant instead… only to have it rain! Haha. We went to another Mexican place where we sat indoors.My date was pretty goofy, but I’ll keep him. There were tons of kids there all dressed up and having dinner before going to the homecoming dance. It was a lot of fun to people-watch and reminisce, although it did make me feel a little old!

THREE. This little Eve… she’s always getting into trouble! She’s our newest little marshmallow thief. Nella used to do this all the time when she was younger, so I guess she’s either taught Eve well, or marshmallow-thievery is in the genes. Her little lips and cheeks!!!FOUR. Kaya is always taking boxes I get in the mail and making something out of them. Usually, it’s a house or a boat, but this last time, she made a desk! Notice how it even has a little drawer with a pull handle. She had a shelf inside for storing her pencils and erasers. I love seeing her creativity. It has since collapsed, so it’s gone now, but it was fun while it lasted. FIVE. I’ve been trying to learn some different ways to do the girls’ hair. I’ve never really been great at braiding, so I’ve been practicing French braids on them almost every day now. This one was a “bubble braid”, which was pretty cute. Kaya’s hair is so curly that the end of her braid always curls up underneath! Hopefully, I’ll improve over the next month and be able to do something really cute on them for Karl and Kaitlyn’s wedding.Happy weekend!

pool time with grandma and grandpa

We had a couple of great visits with Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip over the summer! This time, they stopped here on their way home from visiting Kevin and Tori in Utah.  I was even more overjoyed than usual to see them, since Michael was still at Scout Camp, and I had been solo parenting that week.

I’ve realized that many of my favorite days happen when there seems to be this perfect balance between work and play, and this weekend definitely had it.  Dad had his truck, so we made good use of it by cleaning out the garage and taking things both to Goodwill and the dump. We had two pick-up loads full (mostly random things from updating parts of the house, like light fixtures and shutters), and it felt so freeing to finally get that done. It was a hot day, so after that, we had lunch and headed to the pool.This is surely one of my favorite places, with some of my very favorite people! Grandma and I mostly played with Nella and Eve, while Grandpa took Kaya and Kaelyn all over the pool, splashing, swimming, riding on his back, practicing jumping in and floating… you name it. They absolutely loved having a devoted play buddy for the entire afternoon.Nella loves this little whale.She always tries to go down the frog slide, but usually climbs the stairs and then gets too nervous to go down. This makes it a little tricky to get her down when there’s a huge line of kids behind her! Thankfully, she went down this time.This smile reminds me how beautiful even the tiniest of moments are. Sweet sweet Eve. Later, there were also lots of cuddles… …and belated birthday gifts! Bubbles… And a Daddy, when he came home from camp! I cherish these days with family.

a visit with lelia and bryce!

Lelia and Bryce came up for a visit one weekend this summer, and it was so special to have them here! It’s been awhile since we just got to “hang out” without having another event going on, like a birthday, holiday, or race, so this was a little extra fun!Don’t worry, we’re still just as crazy as we ever were (now we just have little people to be crazy with us)!

We had a thunderstorm on the afternoon they arrived, which canceled our plans for walking to the playground, but that just gave us some time to make brownies! It was so fun and special to see the girls enjoy some real playtime with Bryce. There’s no friend in the world like a cousin!Seriously. I’m melting into a puddle looking at these.We did get to go swimming the next day! These kids are little fishies.I just wish summer could go on forever.We came back home when the youngest kids were getting tired. The girls enjoyed some hammock time and puzzles with Auntie Lelia!When Michael got home from work, we packed up a picnic dinner (taco salad) and headed to this amazing playground we’d never been to before (near the pool), where there were picnic shelters and everything. Eating outside in summer is definitely one of my favorite things.After eating, everyone got to play on the playground! Kaya and Kaelyn loved these ropes!Daddy climbed right up there with them, helping and encouraging them the whole way.This little spinning seat… whew. This is maximum dizziness right here!This ring also spins. I went on it with all the kids and just kept going and going and going around. It’s fun to just be a giant kid sometimes!Let’s not forget the puppies! Fallon got to come along, too. This was Scout’s first time having a doggy guest, and they both did really well. Fallon wanted to wrestle but Scout kept avoiding it. Kaelyn kept saying that Fallon is Scout’s best friend, haha.We had such a great weekend. I love all these silly people (Nella started picking her nose, so of course, everyone had to pretend to do the same…)Happy weekend!

kaelyn’s 5th birthday (a dalmatian party)!

My sweet, special five-year-old girl had been planning her Dalmatian party for about a year. She has been absolutely in love with Dalmatians for quite a while now, and since I was also obsessed with the 101 Dalmatians movie when I was her age, it’s been very fun to watch her enjoy them, too.Kaelyn wanted a Dalmatian cake, and after looking at so many ideas online, I ended up making an extremely simple design. I really wanted to create a 3D Dalmatian for the top, though, so I bought some gum paste and watched some video tutorials before coming up with this little doggy. He wasn’t perfect, but she loved him.She had counted down to her birthday for months, so when it was finally time to sing and have cake, she was beside herself with excitement! I kind of can’t believe we were putting a number five candle on that cake!We sang to her twice and let her blow out the candle a few times. It’s always more fun to do it more than once! Her joy is my joy. This was my usual chocolate cake recipe, and it was a hit, as always!We were so happy to have Uncle Karl and Grandma Debbie here to celebrate with us! The only thing better than cake time is… present time!!!Grandma Debbie gave her these easy-reader books from The Good and the Beautiful. She absolutely loves reading them, and has even told me “the pictures are so pretty!”Grandma also gave her her current favorite stuffed puppy, who she named “Pokie”!There is nothing like the true happiness of a child.She gave hugs when thanking each person for her gifts. So sweet.Kaya made her a coloring book, full of Dalmatian pictures printed from the computer. I was proud of Kaya for being so thoughtful. Mini Hatchimal eggs from Uncle Karl! Dalmatians from Mommy and Daddy!And… the one thing she’d been asking for for months, a Robo Dog! She was a little overwhelmed by how “energetic” the puppy was at first when we turned it on, but she quickly warmed up to it. She named it Gracie!We spent the rest of the day just relaxing and enjoying time together. There’s no one who just “gets” me like my own brother, and I’ve missed him!I love my family, and I’m so grateful they could come celebrate Kaelyn!
Fun fact: Nella and Eve aren’t in any of these pictures because they napped through the entire party!Kaya and Kaelyn were so excited to play with Uncle Karl that I don’t think he got much downtime while he was here! He was really great and goofed around as much as possible. That’s what an awesome uncle is for!Daddy had taken Kaelyn to the Dollar Store to pick out some balloons before we had the party, and since they didn’t have any Dalmatian ones, she chose her other favorites: Mickey, Minnie, and a unicorn! We took a few pictures outside to end the day. I made her shirt for her! I loved seeing her light up when she finally saw the finished product. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but it was my first time making a shirt with multiple layers of vinyl, so it was still a win in my book. Seeing her happy was all that really mattered!Happy 5th Birthday Kaelyn!!! We all love you SO much!