We received a box of hats, pinwheels, and Easter eggs filled with candy from Grandma Gina, and these girls couldn’t have been more surprised! They looked so sweet in their hats that I just had to take a few photos. There may have been some bribery with jelly beans, but everyone was generally cooperative, and I was grateful to get some sweet photos of all my babies together. Notice Scout peeking out the window!Eve turned into a complete ham and really cheesed it up.Wait for it…Little goofball.She keeps us smiling, that’s for sure. Nella usually isn’t very willing to get her picture taken, but I still love the few I got of her sweet little face. Kaecakes! I love these girls. Happy Spring!
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.
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.
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!
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.
As we were finishing up cooking and baking on Mother’s Day, there was a mysterious knock at the door… and when we opened it, Kaya’s favorite stuffed bear from Grandma Gina’s house, Blue Bonnet, was sitting there on the landing. Then Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip appeared!!! We had no idea there were coming, so it was a wonderful surprise for all of us!
Grandpa was right in time for cake!(And silly faces!)No cake for Evie until her birthday, but Grandma Gina had her laughing!Michael ended up taking the next day (Monday) off, so it really all felt like one big special occasion. I was also extra grateful to have this family day, since Michael spent the rest of the week on a business trip in Nebraska.
We all decided to go bowling! (Nella in motion!)This is really becoming one of our favorite things!
There’s an arcade in the bowling alley, and the girls were so excited when Grandma and Grandpa said they could play some games! Nella was content with just sitting on the rides without actually turning them on.This car was her favorite.
Kaya and Kaelyn earned enough tickets for candy necklaces and bracelets! We came home to let Eve nap, and the rest of us worked outside for a bit. Kaya and Kaelyn climbed trees, and Nella made chalk paint with me. Michael took Scout to the vet that evening, and the rest of us took a walk! We enjoyed some time on the playground. Kaya was flying so high! Grandpa cuddles!I can’t believe it, but Nella is big enough for the regular swing now! She loves it.I’m so grateful for how much my girls’ grandparents love them. There’s nothing like it.They left to go home on Tuesday morning. We were sad to see them leave, but I’m already counting down the days until they come back!
Immediately after my half marathon, we dropped Michael off to catch his flight to San Francisco for DockerCon 2019! While he was flying, we did some chores, and then mostly tried to take it easy after my big run. We even napped and watched some shows!
Michael had the opportunity to bike around San Francisco on his first day there, which he said was actually surprisingly hilly and challenging. He even saw (and biked across) the Golden Gate Bridge!Seriously so beautiful! He enjoyed about 27 miles that morning.I really liked his picture of the Port of San Francisco. It’s a beautiful building!Michael was asked to do both a talk and a workshop. He certainly was busy, but he loves all of this. (If you want to read his slides, go here!)He also spent some time running around in his T-Rex suit (it’s kind of a joke in the Docker community, referencing “Dino Apps”)! Dino selfie!
The best talks are repeated for a second session, and Michael’s was chosen this time! He decided to make a hilarious appearance in his dinosaur costume.His grand entrance!
It would have been pretty challenging to give his entire talk wearing that, so he turned back into a normal person. I’m really proud of him and how much he’s accomplished.Meanwhile, we were back home having a lot of fun, too! We spent the first few days on our own, and then Grandma Gina got to come up and help us. We went to Kangaroo Kids!Grandma and Kaya played “tennis” almost the entire time!Evie has always loved the bubble machine.We also spent some time at the library!Who is this big kid standing up like this?Nels got to visit the Hokie Bird when Grandma took them out for ice cream! She is obsessed with him these days, and I love it.Mmmmm!Later in the week, Grandma also took us to Chinese! Eve had her first tastes of sweet and sour chicken and also orange jello. She loved it all!Nella became an orange jello monster!!!Seriously, it was everywhere. At least she had fun!Michael arrived home very late on Friday night, so these little girls were definitely excited to wake up on Saturday and see him!
My fourth time racing Monument Avenue is in the books! It feels like I just started participating in races, but the years are flying by, and this was my 6th race overall.
The weather leading up to the race was looking dismal. I kept hoping the forecast would clear, but we were scheduled to have thunderstorms that morning. I obviously didn’t want to take my kids out there in a storm. We ended up leaving Nella and Kaelyn with my mom at her house, and only took Kaya, who was running the Kids’ Run, and Eve, in case she needed to nurse. We decided to head to the race and see how the weather was upon arrival.
I’m not so great at navigating Richmond, and we weren’t able to pre-purchase a parking garage pass, so we headed to one garage, but ended up turning around and heading to the garage my mom-in-law had parked in. We were cutting it close on time, and with changing garages, we ended up being late and running to the start of Kaya’s race. If Grandma Gina hadn’t been there, they would have closed the Kids’ Run start line and we would have missed it, but thankfully, they held it open for us.
Despite sprinting to the start, Kaya was still so fast and ran the whole thing at a 10:23 pace! I was so proud of my little girl, running as fast as she could, enjoying the cheers from spectators, and even giving some of them high fives!We got a little drizzled on, but there was no thunder!Her quads were a little sore for a day or so afterward. I know it was worth it for her, though. I love seeing her set a goal and achieve it!Michael deserves so much credit for going to all these races and helping with anything he can. Where’s the Runner Husband medal?I had about 20-25 minutes between Kaya’s race and my wave start time, so I got in line for the bathroom, and planned to meet Lelia before the start. The line moved a lot slower than I had hoped. As we were making our way to the start line, the announcer was calling out wave letters just before mine, and I knew I wasn’t going to make it. It’s easy to jump in a slower wave, but Lelia didn’t know where I was, and we each spent half the race trying to look for each other.
I started in Wave Q instead of N. Can you find me?
I was making good time. Thankfully, it was still only drizzling. It did seem like there were fewer people there, since I had the whole left side of the road open to me for most of the race. I think the potential thunderstorms might have deterred some people from coming at all.I was almost at the halfway turnaround point when Lelia finally spotted me and yelled to me from across the grass median. She finished strong!And this is me trying to wave to the girls while running…DONE!!! My official finish time was 51:34, which is a personal best for me! GIRL POWER!It’s so special to stand with Kaya after the race, and crazy to think that just 7 years ago, I’d go running with her in my belly!I’m still just beyond proud of this beautiful girl.Lelia and Bryce!! His shirt says, “Run like you’re being chased by a baby dinosaur!”Lelia was prepared and brought her previous medals to make the 20-year-anniversary triad. Yay!It felt weird having just two of our kids there. Eve passed out while she was waiting!Grandma Gina is always behind the scenes, holding babies and helping with whatever she can. I’m glad she could come! Lelia made these amazing homemade donuts for us to have afterward! We headed to a park to have a little time together. Mmmmm! Those chocolate ones were heavenly. We went back to my mom’s house, and spent some time with her. Kaya shocked and amazed her while playing hangman.We got to hang out with Buddy dog and get some Grandma cuddles.There was a lot more donut-eating, and I got to go on a walk with Lelia and Scout a little later in the day.On Sunday, before we left, Grandma Debbie surprised the girls with these plush Easter bunnies that used to be hers (given to her by my dad), before I was born! They look like new, and of course the girls loved them. I love that they have something that was special to her.Race weekends full of family time are my favorite.
Conference weekend already feels like it was forever ago! We were surprised on Friday afternoon when Grandpa Skip and Grandma Gina came up for a visit! The girls were just so excited.
They took us out to Red Robin for dinner, which is a favorite for all of us. This is one place where Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella actually eat their dinner, so it’s a win! They also really look forward to getting a balloon to take home at the end.Eve tried French fries for the first time ever and LOVED them! She was also dancing along with all the N*Sync and Backstreet Boys songs the restaurant was playing.There was also some Sweet Frog involved… these girls are living the life when Grandma and Grandpa are here!I woke up early on Saturday morning to get my final 13-mile training run in before my second half marathon of 2019. My friend Brook came and paced me on her bike. It was so fun to have a buddy along with me (those long runs can get a little monotonous sometimes), and I was really happy with my pace.I came home, Michael cooked me some scrambled eggs, and then everyone except Eve and me headed out to Home Depot for the Kids’ Workshop! They put together these little birdhouses and did an excellent job. This was Nella’s first time doing one of these crafts, and she loved it (of course, she had a lot of help). The girls came home and wanted to paint their birdhouses while listening to General Conference. It was an easy way to keep them quietly busy!
This is what happens when they try to be serious. It just doesn’t seem right!There we go. The perfect amount of silliness:As always, listening to the Conference talks was uplifting and encouraging. One of my favorites (among many) was from Sharon Eubank, who said, “Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: ‘It is not intended that we run faster than we have strength. … But [in spite of] that, I know … many of you run [very,] very fast and that [the] energy and emotional supply sometimes registers close to empty.’ When expectations overwhelm us, we can step back and ask Heavenly Father what to let go of. Part of our life experience is learning what not to do. But even so, sometimes life can be exhausting. Jesus assures us, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'”.
At a time in life when there is always so much to do, I feel the importance of remembering that we don’t have to do it alone. Christ is there to strengthen us, and we can act as His servants to strengthen those around us.
This is it! The final blog post about Christmas, just before we roll into March. Ha! Better late than never. I lumped an entire weekend into this one entry, so here we go!
The weekend after Christmas, we headed off to Michael’s Aunt Becky’s house for the Teerlink family Christmas Party! I got to hang out with some of my favorite people! (And see some other awesome family members we haven’t seen for awhile)!My favorite part of the entire party, year after year, is the nativity play. There’s always just such a sweet, sweet spirit present when we reenact the scenes and sing hymns together. I also love seeing the costumes made by Grandma and Grandpa Teerlink so many years ago.
Eve was the youngest baby there, so she got to play Baby Jesus this year! She was so perfectly calm and content.My other three girls were little lambs (Nella just wanted to sit on Grandpa’s lap the entire time, though)!Cousin Bryce was a cute lambie, too!The entire cast:I love this wiseman and his little sheep.It’s so special when Grandpa Teerlink gives a short speech, which always includes something about his Sweetheart. Their love is the kind of love I aspire to have when Michael and I are in our 80s.We drove straight from the party to my parents’ house, just a couple hours away. We had some homemade chicken noodle soup made by my mom, and then, everyone was excited to have a late-night Christmas. Eve was well-entertained by the wrapping paper!Pajamas for everyone! I just love seeing my mom’s face in all these photos. Gift-giving is most definitely her love language and brings her true joy. Nella’s big present was… …a horse!The teddy bear had to be the first to ride the horse, obviously. Calico Critters cars!And clothes for their dolls!We had this special pillow made for my Dad with Buddy and Sockie’s photos on it. I think he might have choked up a little when he saw it. Sockie passed away last fall, so this was a good way to remember him.There were tons……and tons of cookies! Mmmmm.Grandpa got to hold Evie quite a bit! Eve also met my Auntie Carol for the very first time! She loved her right away. My aunt is good at having fun, and she was dancing around with Eve, so it’s no wonder they had a good first visit! Auntie Joyce visited with us too; I just didn’t get any pictures.Auntie Carol brought Eve a hat, which was a little too small, but we tried to get a picture of her wearing it, anyway.
Nella might have been obsessed with every single one of Grandma Debbie’s decorations.I also found my old Guess Who game in the closet, which Kaya loved playing so much.
On New Year’s Eve, Lelia and I kicked off the morning with a nice 7.7-mile run! The miles just flew on by (perks of running with a great friend), and I think I was riding a runner’s high the whole rest of the day. They invited us over for lunch, and Bryce ate up some Evie cheeks. He just loves her so much and hugs and kisses her as much as possible. It’s really so sweet.Grandpa Skip and Grandma Gina stopped by for a few minutes, too, and in the midst of all the family togetherness, I had one of those rare moments where everything felt perfect.Later that night, we stayed up way too late to watch the ball drop with my mom and ring in the new year. These weekends with family fill up my heart to the brim.