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!

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.

the last of the christmas shenanigans (2018)

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.

thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving was forever ago (last year already, ha), and we pretty much always do the same thing, eat the same turkey, and take the same photos, but these are still so precious to me and need to be on here.

We headed down to my parents’ home to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. My mom always puts so much energy and love into the Thanksgiving meal, and this one turned out as delicious as any. My Dad is always the designated turkey carver. Making mashed potatoes!The girls relaxed and waited patiently until it was time to eat. Everyone cuddled Evie a lot!Happy first Thanksgiving, baby Eve!Kaelyn wanted to jump in a picture, too!It looks like a full house (there are two tables put together underneath all that food), but we were missing Karl and Kaitlyn (they were at a wedding in Georgia), and Auntie Carol, who was sick and missed coming so that none of the babies would catch it. We had a good time, but it honestly didn’t feel the same without them.Somebody really really likes corn.And someone else doesn’t like veggies much at all…Your first Thanksgiving is a little bit of a letdown if you’re not old enough to eat any food! Eve was content to sit and watch everyone else.Nella slept through the entire meal, but woke up in time to have her dinner when we were starting dessert.Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, brownies, and apple pie!Extra thankful for my mom this year.
You might think he’s taking your picture, but Michael is really taking a selfie. He’s a tricky one! We had a great visit. Grandpa Peter got lots of Evie snuggles!Buddy tried to snuggle with me, too. Kaelyn always likes seeing her favorite “Dalmatian”!

five on friday (10/05)

It’s been far too long since my last post, and it feels so good to be on here and getting a little creative energy out. Life has been full to the brim these past couple of months, and obviously, my kids come first, but I’ve realized just how much I need a little time for myself. Photography and this little bit of writing really invigorates me. It seems like I have a million thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head, and never enough time to write all of them!

I have a lot to share, but instead of trying to catch up on all of it, I’m just going to keep it short and simple for now.

ONE. We had a visit from my Dad a couple weeks ago! It’s been two years since he’s come to our house, so it was fun to have him here and show him some of the home improvement projects we’ve done. As soon as he pulled up in his Jeep, the girls ran to him with giant smiles and hugs.We were totally twinning in our American flag shirts… completely unplanned! Kaya and Kaelyn affectionately call him “Santa” because of his beard. About a week before Grandpa arrived, Kaelyn randomly started saying, “Santa’s coming!”. I was confused until I realized that she was actually talking about my Dad!He played CandyLand and Trouble with them, and even read them a story. They always love all the extra attention from grandparents. Nella has been a little wary of everyone recently, so she mostly avoided social interaction with Grandpa.And now Evie has met all her grandparents!

TWO. Nella has been such a loving and kind big sister to Eve, but she’s had a slightly difficult time adjusting to our new normal. She’s been struggling to fall asleep at night, and she wakes up in the wee hours of the morning screaming. We’re also just managing her strong 2-year-old tendencies.I’ve been trying to give her some intentional attention each day, whether it’s been snuggling or being silly or baking muffins together. I remember I started baking with Kaya around her age, and although it makes the biggest mess, it’s such a fun memory to have.She might not be the youngest of the family anymore, but her sisters play “baby” with her all the time lately.They tuck her into a box, pretending that it’s her bed, with her Beagle and all. She thinks it’s so much fun just to sit in there and get all the attention.THREE. I’ve been making an effort to get us outside in the mornings before we start our schoolwork. I used to be so diligent about taking the girls outside everyday, but then pregnancy and a newborn kind of threw us off for a bit. It’s refreshing to have that outdoor time with my babies, and it’s good for them to get some energy out before we sit down to learn.

Kaelyn picked me a dandelion.
Nella peeks through these little windows and says “Hewwo!”Evie just gets a little stroller nap while we play!FOUR. Minnie Mouse lives at my house now. Apparently, she can drive…She’s also a pretty good babysitter! 😉FIVE. This baby! Oh, this beautiful baby girl. Part of the reason I’m so behind on everything is because I just keep snuggling her and soaking her in as much as I possibly can. It’s cliché, but it’s true- we blink and our babies seem to grow up in the instant we weren’t looking. Before I know it, she’ll be another year older, another foot taller… So I’m just savoring every moment with her as she is right now. She’s such a perfect angel and has the sweetest smile. It’s so easy to get her to grin that I probably have hundreds of photos of her just looking at the camera and beaming. Who could resist so many photos of this darling face?And what is it about babies in blue jeans? Melt my heart.
Happy Friday!

christmas day (2017)

We spent Christmas day with my side of the family! Ever since Kaya was one year old, we’ve actually tried to stay home on Christmas morning, just with our immediate family. However, based on my parents’ work schedules and when Karl was able to drive down, celebrating with them on Christmas day worked out best for everyone.

Nella woke up at 5:30 am (extremely early for her- she’s usually my latest sleeper), so she just wasn’t into the whole process that is Christmas morning. She was crying so loudly when she woke that I was sure she was going to wake everyone else in the house up- so we headed downstairs to watch the news with my dad, which surprisingly, calmed her down.Kaya and Kaelyn were up at 6 am, but had to wait to open presents until everyone was washed up and ready for the day. That just meant we had time to take a few cute pictures!My dad built this stocking hanger… but with so many stockings now (this doesn’t even include the dogs’), it actually collapsed under all the weight. I see some Paw Patrol puppies peeking out! Stockings are always first, and these girls couldn’t wait to dig into them. Grandpa and Grandma played Santa and Mrs. Claus this year!Some Traveling Wilburys CDs for Grandpa!My mom had started making a crocheted blanket a few years ago, but didn’t finish. I ended up taking her unused yarn home, and then Michael’s mom took it from there, made this gorgeous blanket for her, and wrapped it up for Christmas. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how perfectly stitched it was, and I just love how it was a special gift from one of our moms to the other.We gave my mom this little hand-painted watering can to add to her snowman collection! I always love looking at the local craft fairs for something homemade for her gift.Michael got a new backpack! It’s about time, since his old one was literally duct-taped together and not holding up so well.Calico Critters for Kaecakes!Chubby Puppies!And Paw Patrol, of course!And then we had Calico Critters……MORE Calico Critters……and another Paw Patrol movie!Nella received her very own baby doll, but by this point, she had already been awake for about 5 hours, and wasn’t too interested.Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn brought her a unicorn!Karl and Kaitlyn got some nice things for their new house, including this doormat… it’s a house divided!Kaitlyn probably owns every item ever made that has to do with The Nightmare Before Christmas. We gave her a mug this year!After all the gifts, we all did some relaxing (and of course everyone wants all the Nella snuggles they can get).My mom makes the turkey, and my dad carves it. Every single year.Dinner! I think this was the best turkey my mom has ever made, and Kaya would agree, because she ate a ton of it! I say it all the time, but I really miss having these two living closer! We have such a good time hanging out; it’s just always really short-lived.The girls liked watching one of their new DVDs with Uncle Karl!We also spent a little time with my aunts, although I apparently took no pictures of that, nor of the dessert this year. We made a last-minute decision to drive home on Christmas night (everyone sleeps better in their own beds), and ended up leaving around 9 pm. It’s always a little sad to go, but we still had our own little Christmas celebration at home to look forward to.

christmas eve cookies with grandma debbie

All these posts about cookies might make it seem like all we do is bake at Christmas time (which is almost true), but this is the last one that’s solely focused on sweets!

Of course, you have to make cookies when you go to Grandma’s house! Grandma loves her little helpers. They always want to help roll the dough, but it’s still difficult with how little they are.Buddy really wanted some for himself…No gingerbread cookies for dogs!If he wasn’t begging for a cookie, he was stealing kisses.The next night, on Christmas Eve, when Karl and Kaitlyn arrived, we started decorating them!Everyone looks so serious about getting this done, except for Karl! Nella played with spoons the entire time.Ta-da! Quite the conglomeration of cookies.

sleeping through thanksgiving (2017)

After we had some quality time with Michael’s side of the family, we headed over to my side to spend Thanksgiving day! The girls were a little extra excited, because on this trip, I told them that we’d take out my childhood American Girl dolls. My parents have had them at their house all these years, mostly because I didn’t really have any space for them in our previous apartments.

Kaya instantly fell in love with my Kirsten doll, and spent nearly the entire visit holding her, changing her outfits, and “getting her ready for school/church”. I asked them to be as gentle as possible with these special dolls, and I was surprised at how careful they truly were.

The girls also really enjoyed watching the Macy’s Parade and looking for all their favorite character balloons, including Paw Patrol, Hello Kitty, and Snoopy! They were even pretty excited to see Santa at the very end.

While they were busy with my dolls, my mom was cooking an amazing (as always) turkey!We had quite a full house this year, although I really missed seeing Karl and Kaitlyn. My mom always goes above and beyond with holiday meals. As a mom myself now, I appreciate her cooking more than ever.Everyone wants to sit on Daddy’s lap, at all times.I title this one, “Smug kid on Dad’s lap; sad kid not on Dad’s lap”.Nella actually slept right through the entire dinner, but when she woke up, she ate so much turkey (I think I actually ended up giving her seconds… and then thirds)! This little pumpkin is my best eater by far. I think we were all feeling how Kaya felt after the meal…Of course, there’s always room for dessert later!Nella ended the evening with a pile (or two) of whipped cream. She dug right into it, smashed it into her hair, and painted the entire high chair with it, so I’d say she enjoyed it.

grandma debbie’s 60th birthday

My mom’s 60th birthday was in July, so we took a long weekend and headed to my parents’ home for some quality family fun. It’s been a long time since we’ve had then entire family (both of my aunts, Karl, and me) all together, so this was something really special.

Kaya kicked off the weekend by coloring with Grandma! That’s something I remember her doing with me when I was little, so it’s fun to see it continuing on with the next generation.Of course, there were Dunkin’ Donuts, courtesy of Karl! I think these will always be my favorites, despite the amazing local donut shop we have here in town.We also got to meet my parents’ new puppy (I know, he doesn’t look like much of a puppy, right?) for the first time! His name is Buddy, and he’s part pit bull, just like Scout! The only difference is that he is stronger than an ox (I’m not even exaggerating here)! Scout didn’t like being pummeled by his overzealous attempt to play with her, so they didn’t really get to be friends.
But yeah… I pretty much fell head over paws for this puppy. How could you resist those eyes? I think my Dad is pretty smitten with him, too.We had some naps on Daddy… (and a change of clothes for Kaelyn, after she tripped and landed in Buddy’s water bowl!)……and then the whole crew went to an early dinner at Cracker Barrel, which is one of my Mom and Dad’s favorite places.Clockwise: Auntie Joyce and her friend, Melissa; Karl and Kaitlyn; hopefully you know who those people are; and Auntie Carol and Alan!
Princess Nella sat in her throne with her foot upon the table for the entire meal. She also cast a spell on everyone with that sweet little smile of hers.We all headed back to the house for some cake and gifts! My dad had an Oreo cookies and creme cake for his birthday party, and everyone loved it, so of course, we had to repeat it!
It’s not a birthday party with my family unless there’s a big pile of gifts!I found this little decorative watering can at Goodwill and just knew my mom would love it!It turned out that my dad hadn’t finished his gift shopping for my mom, so the day before the party, he took me out with him to get some ideas. We went to five different places without having much luck.

However, we did find a very heavy lawn decoration in the shape of a chicken, and we kept joking around that the “concrete chicken” was our fallback gift. Seriously, I think that thing weighs more than Kaelyn.

My dad actually ended up going back and getting it, and as it turns out, my mom loves her Concrete Chicken. I think I like the joke about the gift even more than the gift itself.I also helped him choose a new bird feeder for her, shaped like a butterfly!
But Karl and Kaitlyn’s gift had to be the best of all…

An iPhone! My mom had been managing with a smartphone that had almost no space to install anything or even be used properly… so now she can actually talk to us and see all the pictures we send. She was so surprised! As you can see in the video, I persuaded Karl to wrap it in a box, and then put that box in another box, wrap it, and so on. It was so much fun.They even made a case for her that had all the kids’ pictures on the back!And, of course, there was a whole lot of baby cuddling on this trip. Auntie Joyce always loves my babies.Apparently, Nella loves pinching her Great-Auntie Joyce’s cheeks. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?I was so happy to see these two… it’s been way too long!Grandpa Peter was obviously smitten with “Pumpkin” (as he calls her)!
My mom said this truly was the best birthday ever. I’m so glad we got to celebrate it all together!

grandpa peter turns 60!

When we traveled back to my parents’ neck of the woods on race weekend, we also celebrated my Dad’s 60th birthday! Having a party with all of my family was really the perfect way to end an already-great Saturday.

After the race, we headed to Longhorn Steakhouse for my Dad’s special birthday dinner! He had to wear this special blinking birthday pin that my aunts both wore on their sixtieth birthdays- it’s a tradition! Hey, at least it got him a free ice cream sundae at the restaurant.
I’m so glad everyone could be there together. Michael and I ended up on opposite ends of our very long table… so I think this picture pretty much sums up what he was doing for the duration of the dinner- wrangling these big kids! He’s such a good sport, and I love him so much for taking care of our girls. Nella’s little hand grabbing onto my arm… melt my heart. And it’s always fun to hang out with Auntie Carol and Auntie Joyce! We headed back home for cake and gifts! Kaya is so into birthdays (she actually pretends it’s her baby doll’s or Kitty’s birthdays on a nearly-daily basis at times), so anytime she’s allowed to participate in the festivities, she’s all for it.I think Grandpa liked having a candle-blowing-out, present-opening helper.
When I was about six years old, I made my dad a “birthday necklace” out of strips of paper that I had colored and stapled together. I made a giant paper birthday cake and stapled it to the center of the necklace, and of course, he had to wear it, even though it was probably the ugliest and most awkward necklace in existence. He donned this plastic, blinking birthday necklace this year, a sort of tribute to that awful paper necklace from years past. He received lots of great gifts, but Snoballs were obviously the most exciting! I think the grand-puppy was cuddled more than the grandbabies on this trip! I was a little concerned about traveling with such a young puppy, but she really did great. She slept on the floor of the van for the entire drive, and didn’t make any trouble or destroy anything at my parents’ house. I’d call that a success! I think she won my Dad over when she fell asleep in his arms. On Sunday morning, we got to sleep in, which was so refreshing after getting up early for the race the previous day. I get to share a room with Nella at my parents’ house (everyone else sleeps downstairs), and I always look forward to waking up and having some one-on-one time with this smiley little baby. My mom made us the biggest pancakes in the world for breakfast!

We walked our dogs out in the yard, and Kaelyn enjoyed putting on “makeup” (just lipstick) with Grandma. This is one of her favorite things.Before we knew it, we were back on the road and on our way home!