five favorites (10/08)

It’s not a Friday (or even the weekend, for that matter), but I’ve been really wanting to write one of these for a few days. I’m still figuring out how to balance all the things I need to do with all the creative things I want to do, but this little bit of sharing and organizing of my pictures is so good for my soul.

ONE. I don’t know what took me so long, but I finally got some watercolor paints for the girls, and we are loving them. We’ve used tempera and acrylic paints before, but the watercolors are so much cleaner and easier as far as set-up goes. Bonus points for incorporating them into our science activity! Painting the solar system!

TWO. It’s only taken me a thousand years of doing laundry, but I think we’ve finally figured out a system that works for us as far as keeping up with it! We’ve really limited how many items of clothing each person is allowed to have, and we do at least one load each day. In the morning, I take all the clean items and sort them by person. Kaya and Kaelyn are responsible for folding and putting away their own clothes, and I do everything else (Nella sometimes puts hers away after it’s been folded). It’s become a habit now, so no one really gripes about doing it. It’s been such a huge relief to not be behind! Plus, the girls get to pretend the empty baskets are boats (and they look adorable all squished in there, although I can’t believe they can all fit, really)!

THREE. Sometimes, being homeschooled means you get to have a special treat during the afternoon when your baby sisters are sleeping. Kaya and Kaelyn earned these cookies after helping with some extra clean-up.

FOUR. We finally made it back to the library (after a long hiatus) to get some books and movies, play in the kids’ area, and do some festive coloring. All the girls were so happy to be there and could have stayed for hours had we had the time. Even little Eve was trying to use crayons! I was also reminded how important small acts of service can be. While we were there, we ran into a friend from church, who offered to help us check out and carry all our books to the car. It’s really not a big thing… but I had been having a bit of an emotional day, and just that little bit of help while I cared for my four girls turned my day around. People are good. I’m trying to be more mindful about how I can help others, even in small ways.FIVE. We really enjoyed our church’s General Conference broadcast this past weekend! We always try to take a group picture on Conference weekend, so here it is, serious and then silly, of course. I really loved this quote: “If you hesitate in this adventure because you doubt your ability, remember that discipleship is not about doing things perfectly, it is about doing things intentionally. It is your choices that show what you truly are, far more than your abilities.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf). I have a renewed desire to try my best, not worry about doing it all “perfectly”, and try to avoid being distracted from my most important work by things that might be “good”, but aren’t “best”.Happy Tuesday!

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!

five on friday (09/13)

Happy Friday! It’s been a much easier week than last, especially since all of our girls have gotten past the sickness that lingered around here for nearly two weeks. It’s such a relief that they aren’t congested anymore.

ONE. Our Nellie is officially a big girl now because she got her own comforter this week! We had already moved her into a “big bed”, but seeing her bed all made up like this really seals the deal. She was beyond excited when I pulled it out of the box and said it was for her! I would definitely be tempted to have a blush pink bedspread on my own bed if Michael hadn’t already vetoed it years ago, haha.

TWO. Bike rides near sundown are some of my favorite childhood memories, and I love seeing our girls enjoy them, too. Kaelyn is still kind of nervous to ride, but after about half a mile, she calmed down a bit and actually enjoyed it. Daddy passed us on the way home from work, and decided to go the rest of the way home with us. We were laughing about how funny it must have looked to any random onlookers that all the rest of us were getting some exercise and he was leisurely riding his moped.

THREE. We still have Halloween on our minds… and the girls already have their costumes picked out. They decided, all on their own, that they wanted to use costumes we already have from years past. We always buy them secondhand, anyway, but I’m excited to save a little time and money by not having to go costume shopping. Also, yay minimalism.

Plus, it doesn’t get cuter than this, anyway.FOUR. If we’re not talking about Kaya’s upcoming birthday or Halloween lately, it’s usually Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn’s wedding! Because they aren’t brides, I think it’s okay to show off their flower girl dresses. They all look so grown up and gorgeous that I might cry a little when they walk down the aisle. Eve has one, too, but she was asleep when we tried these on.FIVE. Sisters. These ladies are best friends 85% of the time, and I’m so grateful. Disputes do happen, though, like this morning, when one sister bit another on the face. It took a long time to get her to apologize, but eventually, hugs were given and giggles were heard. I love these happy faces.Please, girls, stay best friends forever.Happy weekend!

five on friday! (09/06)

Happy Friday, and happy September! I’m excited for fall, although, admittedly, I partly wish we could keep the summer sun and warmth forever. Still, we have a lot to look forward to here in the next few months, with birthdays, holidays, family visits, and my brother’s wedding!

ONE. As warm temperatures start to disappear, we’re preparing to say goodbye to our little container garden until next spring. I was surprised this week when Kaya and Kaelyn showed me this humongous cucumber that seemed to appear almost overnight!They were so excited to pick it! We shared it for lunch, and it certainly was fresh and tasty. I’m still so proud of these little ladies for growing these vegetables.

TWO. We’ve had a bit of a rough week and a half, with sickness lingering and spreading ever so slowly to each child in our family. Coughing, congestion, runny noses, body aches, and tiredness has gotten to all the girls now. Nella tucked Kaya in when she fell asleep on the couch, and even gave her her Kitty.Kaelyn’s bout only seemed to last a day, with a lingering cough.Nella has had it the roughest.When you don’t feel well, it’s perfectly acceptable to pass out in your chair at lunchtime.

THREE. Nella and Eve have had the best time being little buddies lately. They’ve been playing together, sharing snacks, and laughing at each other’s antics. As soon as their eyes were open on Monday morning, they couldn’t wait to sit by each other on Nella’s bed. I just love that they’re truly bonding now.

FOUR. Now that it’s September, we’ve already got Halloween costumes on our minds! The girls love dressing up all year long, though, so really, the only thing different on Halloween is that they get candy for looking cute.

Kaelyn became a “super unicorn”, and dressed her puppy (Pokie) up to match!Eve loves wearing anything on her head, and usually it’s these unicorn ears or a birthday crown.FIVE. Everyone loves to be like Daddy. When I saw Nella pretending to work on her laptop next to him, I just had to get a picture.

Happy weekend!

five favorites (08/19)

I’m brightening up a Monday with one of my favorite ways to blog… sharing five of the best things that have been going on here lately! It was a good day as far as Mondays go, actually, this just makes it even better.

ONE. Last week, we had what was probably our last day at the outdoor pool. They close during the week once public school starts (and it has now), and I’m not sure if we’ll be back there on a Saturday sometime before it completely closes down for the season. We soaked it all in and made the very most of it.

Nella absolutely loves this whale fountain in the baby pool!

There are some pretty strong fountains in the baby pool, too. Nella loves just sitting between them.

Being the littlest sister definitely has its advantages… someone is always willing to play with Eve! Kaya loved bouncing her up and down in the water.I brought the girls their own little bags of chips as a special snack to have during the mandatory swim break. I think they might have been just as excited about eating these as they were about swimming (especially Nella and Eve)! Kaya also told me that this is the best picture of Eve I’ve ever taken, haha.Not the best quality photo, but I got us all in and everyone is looking (also, Eve’s little grin)! Again with the chips! I promise this isn’t sponsored by Ruffles, haha.

It was pretty empty. I guess most people already felt like summer was over. I’m definitely going to miss this place until next year.

TWO. We’ve been homeschooling through the summer, but we were a little more low-key for most of it, just doing language arts and math. We finally dove back into history and science, and Kaya and Kaelyn are loving it. We started with Ancient Greece, so they had a “Greek snack” (olives, grapes, and pita chips) while they listened to me read. They thought this was so much fun!They also designed their own “red clay pottery” with scenes that depict their everyday lives. Kaya drew herself with the deer who visit our yard, and Kaelyn drew herself at the playground.We also did a “lab” for science where the girls made their own play dough. They loved it so much! I love watching them have fun and explore.

THREE. If you’re wondering what Nella and Eve do during all this school, half the time, they’re playing with water out on the deck! If they aren’t happy doing that, they’re usually having a snack.Nella could do this for hours.Standing in a bowl of water is equally fun.Nella always cracks me up with the outfits she chooses. Somehow, she had on a shirt without pants, and before I knew it, she had put on her boots to go out and play. Boots with no pants. I don’t think that’s going to be trendy anytime soon… at least, I hope not!

This might be one of the last pictures of her in a diaper, because we’re ever-so-slowly starting potty training with her! I’m nervous and excited to finally get this going.

FOUR. Remember our plants? They’ve grown SO much! I’m so proud of Kaya and Kaelyn for watering and taking care of them every single day, sometimes twice a day (those tomatoes need a lot of water)! Kaya heads outside as soon as she wakes up to check on them, and if Kaelyn sees the tomatoes drooping, she’ll say “Uh-oh, the tomatoes are looking sad!” Kaya found the tiniest little tomatoes growing yesterday morning. She was so excited! We also have some beans, but no sign of any cucumbers yet. I am so grateful that Kaya and Kaelyn could have this experience of tending to a living thing all on their own, and that they are able to see the fruit that comes from diligence and patience.FIVE. We’ve had quite a few storms lately, and when the sun came out immediately after one, we ran outside as fast as we could to see if there was a rainbow. There was! These were some happy girls!It actually became a double rainbow, but with all the cloud coverage, it was impossible to see it all the way across the sky. Looking at the rainbow out there in the drizzle with my girls was so simple and sweet.
Happy Monday!

five favorites (08/10)

Happy Saturday! I didn’t quite get this done yesterday, so here I am. We spent a big part of today cleaning, so it’s nice to pop on here for a bit of fun and share what we’ve been up to this week!

ONE. We got to go to our town’s summer festival last weekend. There were craft vendors of all sorts, with a plethora of homemade items for sale. I think this was the first year we didn’t buy a single thing, but the girls had the best time. They got free lollipops from the local sweets shop. Everyone chose “rainbow” flavor, of course.

The fire station gave out these free firefighter hats, and the girls got to go up in the fire engine to look around, too. It was so exciting for them!The girls have been wearing their hats just about every day since. They pretend to come to my house and check that my smoke detectors are working. I love watching their creativity.They also got to go on a bounce house/slide! This was the best part for them.

TWO. Michael has been working hard out in the yard this week, removing the old bushes, most of which were dead or at least half-dying. This is a massive work-in-progress, but I’m realizing that having a house basically means you’re always working on something. At least, that’s how it is for us.Kaelyn was a good little helper.Nella keeps finding these old tennis balls in the yard. We (and Scout) found quite a few the first year we lived here, so I figured we had uncovered them all. Nope! They are still showing up. Someone must have played a lot of fetch before we bought the house.

I guess we’ll have to figure out what we’re putting here instead!

THREE. Speaking of our yard, we’ve had a lot of wild visitors lately… This buck has been here a few times to eat apples off the tree. He has a deformed antler, so he’s been easy to identify. He was also at the playground one day when I was running! I used my telephoto lens to get these, which is something I don’t get to do very often, so it was a fun change.On another day, we had a mother and her two fawns come by! I had seen the mother before and could tell she was lactating… so I was so excited when she brought her babies with her on her next visit. I only had time to grab my phone to take these before they sprinted away (ahem, Scout, thank you for barking and scaring them)! FOUR. Apparently, I’ve just been having a lot of fun with nature photos this week. Our purple flowers are already starting to wilt and fall to the ground, which means fall is fast-approaching.The girls and I loved reviewing what we’ve learned about pollination by watching the bees drink nectar from each flower.FIVE. One of my very favorite things about having a bunch of little girls is putting them in matching clothes, and it’s even better when I get to match them, too! I was in love with these pink sparkly shoes ever since I bought them for the girls for Easter, and when my size went on clearance last week… I just had to get them. These little moments make life sweet. (Also, Nella’s bare baby legs are just way too cute!)

Happy weekend!

five favorites (08/03)

Happy August! I can’t believe we’re in the last stretch of summer already. Where does the time go? We’ve been on the go a lot lately, so these are ALL phone pictures, but in a way, it’s kind of great, because that means we’ve been having adventures and getting out of the house. It’s never easy with four little people, but it is worth making the effort to go out of our comfort zone a little.

ONE. Michael got to take the girls camping last weekend! There was a church campout activity, and he thought that Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella might finally be at ages where they’d actually enjoy sleeping in a tent outdoors. He was right! They absolutely loved all of this: playing in the woods, having a “girls only” party in the back of a pick-up truck, and snuggling up with Daddy all night. They even giggled about how “the potty was just a big hole!” (it was an outhouse), and didn’t have a single complaint when they came home and told me all about it. Of course, who could complain when you get to eat s’mores for dessert and breakfast?

Eve and I stayed home (I’m not brave enough to attempt camping with a baby), so I was left with a bunch of free time. I used a lot of it to straighten up downstairs, organize Kaya and Kaelyn’s room, and shampoo the living room carpet. There’s nothing like a clean floor!

TWO. We got to go to the Radford Planetarium’s special exhibit in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. They had a special show, along with some other exhibits (one of which included ice cream made with liquid nitrogen)! Eve didn’t make it through the entire show, but I’m still glad we were able to take the other girls and have some time as a family.They also had a small “Museum of the Earth Sciences” there, where we saw some amazing fossils and geodes. They had this T-Rex skull, which is the most complete fossil of its kind in existence. So cool! All the girls were afraid of it, but Kaya stood next to it long enough for a photo.THREE. We got to go to the pool this week with Bianca and her kids! She gifted Eve this baby floatie, which was amazing, because it was the first time in 6 years that I haven’t had to carry a baby in my arms the entire time we were swimming! Eve loved it for a while and then decided she wanted to be held.Nella was pretty cranky, so she tried Noah’s shark floatie out for a bit. Kaelyn was pulling her all around the pool, so I think she enjoyed the ride.Of course, Eve doesn’t really need to go to the pool, because she’s just as happy to climb into her sister’s tiny toy pool. She gets soaked in the tiniest amount of water!FOUR. We had an extra-fun morning yesterday when Daddy joined us at the playground on his lunch break! Playing with him is everyone’s favorite thing. Eve is all about trying to walk (while holding on to things) everywhere she can. She wore her little pink shoes!Their joy is my joy. Seriously, that little paci grin! I love her so much. She was very ready for a nap after this.FIVE. We’ve had a lot of butterflies visit our deck lately. We all love watching them and appreciating the beauty of nature so nearby.This butterfly and another just like it spent a couple of days on our deck, except that the second one had large parts of its wings missing. Kaya has such a tender heart, and she was so worried about that butterfly. When the injured one flew away, she wanted to be sure its “sister” butterfly followed after it.HAPPY SATURDAY!

five on friday (07/26)

I’m sneaking this post in just before it turns midnight! We’ve had a whole lot going on here, and as usual, I feel like this post just barely scratches the surface of it all. Here are just a few fun things from lately:

ONE. Michael had the opportunity to go to Scout camp last week as a leader for our church Stake! It was a challenging week without him (and I really really missed running), but he was very much needed and definitely enjoyed getting to know some of the young men better. Plus, look at this view! He was mostly offline the entire time, too, which sounds really peaceful, although we definitely missed talking to him.His selfies in our photo account are always fun to find. This is the most facial hair I’ve ever seen him have!
We totally looked like zombies by the end of the week, but I was so happy to have him home!!!

TWO. Nella and her baby dolls… If she’s not playing “Mommy and Baby” with the Calico Critters, she’s taking care of a baby doll. Actually, she is pretty good at pretending anything is a mommy or a baby, even her fork and spoon at meals or her sippy cup. I’m really hoping this little lady grows up to have a bunch of kids because it’s so deeply ingrained in her nature to care for them. Of course, she’s kind of a goober, too.THREE. We’ve had some fun at the library with the summer reading program! We went to a hilarious puppet show one week, and another week, we saw a balloon show. The girls each got to pick a fun balloon to take home at the end. We had butterfly wings, a flower, and just a crazy spiral balloon.The individual beads on Kaya and Kaelyn’s necklaces were earned for each book they read independently. I am so proud of these big kids!FOUR. We went to a different playground than we usually do, and the girls had an extra fun time trying out all the different equipment. This one reminded them of the balance scale we’ve used for math.We didn’t even realize there was another whole section to this park with a giant wooden castle, which actually reminded me a lot of a playground I used to go to when I was young. They had a blast over here playing with our friends!Bianca and I tried to contain the babies in here, but Eve still ended up eating dirt and crawling everywhere she wanted to go.FIVE. May your weekend be as happy as a one-year-old with bubbles…She absolutely cracks me up. And her little face just melts my heart every time.Happy Friday!!!

five favorites (07/17)

It’s not even Friday, but there are always so many little things going on that I’ve been really eager to write here. I could probably write another “Five” in just a couple days (maybe I will!), and there will always be things that I didn’t get to!

ONE. For the past few months, Nella has been obsessed with being the “helper” at mealtimes. When I say, “I’m going to make lunch”, she runs over to the table, drags a chair to the counter, and says, “helper!!!” She sometimes helps put cucumbers atop salads, but mostly, being the helper means she just stands there and eats at the counter.Croutons are a definite favorite of hers right now. TWO. We finally got Kaya a bike! She was just riding the tricycle before now, but she’s really been too tall for it for a while. This one was a lucky Craigslist find that my dad picked up for me. We have a thing for banana-seat bikes around here.
We put it out in the front yard one morning and surprised her when she woke up. She ran to it and wanted to ride right away.It’s been a lot of fun to ride around (mostly just culs-de-sac) with them! Now I need to find a similar one for Kaelyn.THREE. These lucky girls have had some pretty fun daddy-daughter dates lately. I had a meeting, so Michael took all of them out to dinner at Wendy’s (their favorite)!Messy, happy girl.Messy, silly girls!On another day, Michael took Kaya out on some errands with him. Kaya saw this cat swimsuit, and Daddy just had to pretend to try it on!FOUR. We also have some pretty big news around here- Kaya lost her two front (top) teeth! One of them was loose for over a month, so we were all very ready for it to finally come out. She is not a big fan of the actual “falling out” process, but once it’s gone, she’s always excited to get money under her pillow at night and try to put food through the gap at lunchtime.FIVE. Scout is always resting at the top of the stairs, keeping an eye on things. She’s ready to run down at any moment if you drop food or she hears the slightest noise outside. We love this goofy (and loud…) dog!

five on friday (06/21)

Happy Friday! It’s been a while since my last “Five on Friday”, so I’m really excited about this! These small snippets of life are some of my favorites to look back on.

ONE. We’ve been really enjoying summertime so far! Swimming was a huge part of my childhood summers, so it just doesn’t feel like the season without having some fun in the water. We bought a month-long pool pass, and it’s been one of our favorite things to do! Nella always asks to go to the “wa wa”!These are some happy kids. Kaya and Kaelyn ask to stay for hours and hours, even if the water is a bit chilly.

Bonus: Everyone is tired out afterward!TWO. Michael took off work one day last week, and we all went bowling! Life has felt so crazy-busy this past month or so, so it was great to take a couple of hours to reconnect as a family. The lighting isn’t so great for pictures in the bowling alley, so this is the best I have from my phone. Nella sometimes really wants to take her turn, and other times, she couldn’t care less about it. Kaya is actually getting really good at bowling! She still uses the ramp and bumpers, but she might have scored higher than me…

THREE. We’ve had some fun at the library, too! I love snuggling up with my girls and reading. Kaya and Kaelyn would play with the blocks all day!Eve has been having a lot more fun now that she can pull herself up and play with the toys there.FOUR. Kaya and Kaelyn have still been doing swim lessons, so when Michael takes them, I get some quality time with Nella and Eve. I love my big girls, but having this time with the little girls is so precious to me.  It’s a little calmer, a little quieter, and I just get to soak in their sweet personalities. Also, I just have to put this here, because taking that picture of Nella and Eve reminded me so much of this picture of Kaya and Kaelyn, at nearly exactly the same ages, four years ago! It’s amazing how time passes so quickly and so much changes.Nellie loves to climb all the rocks!Eve really only has the option of swinging for now, but she’s more than content.FIVE. Our little Scoutie girl has had a bit of a rough month. She had her annual physical in May, where she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She had a few days where she clearly wasn’t feeling well at all, and my heart was broken for her. I hate to see her suffering! She had another trip to the vet where she was prescribed some anti-nausea meds and probiotics, and she’s since been on the mend. She finished her round of antibiotics yesterday, and I’m hoping she’s able to stay symptom-free.

We also got her a harness, which we all love! It’s so much gentler than the “gentle leader” we were using, and it looks cute to boot.Happy weekend!