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!

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 surprise visit

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!

general conference weekend (april 2019)

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!

Notice the purple paint next to Nella’s eyebrow!

I love these happy people.

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.

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.

five on friday (12/28)

Happy Friday!!! The very LAST one of the year! I can’t even believe that another 365 days have come and gone, but here we are. I’m happy to sneak in one last “Five on Friday” before we ring in 2019!

ONE. We’ve had a lot going on over here lately… but our biggest adventure was taking a trip to SPAIN at the beginning of December! I have a whole lot to share about our travels, but for now, I’ll just leave this photo of one of my very favorite places on the Costa Brava! It was so refreshing to leave home and do something completely new, although I definitely missed my kids (minus Eve, who was lucky enough to tag along). TWO. After we got home from our trip, I was ready to do all the Christmas things, since we had already missed about half of the pre-holiday festivities. We baked and delivered cookies, watched several Christmas movies (which is definitely a good activity when you’re dealing with jet lag), and went out looking at Christmas lights. I missed these munchkins so much, so I was extra grateful for the special time we’ve had together. I can’t believe Christmas Day has already come and gone, but we’re still looking forward to some family time between now and the New Year.THREE. Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip came up to visit for a couple of days this week! The girls enjoyed snuggling, watching Shaun the Sheep (as they always do with Grandpa), and showing off their Christmas presents. (Also, 3 out of 4 kid smiles is as good as we could get with this picture… Nella has a 1-minute tolerance level for picture-taking these days!)We also enjoyed some Sweet Frog! This might be the girls’ favorite place ever. Even Nella knows what the sign looks like now. She gets excited before we even go in!FOUR. Oh, these sisters. They’re always playing “babies”, and I just think it’s the funniest thing when they pretend to be pregnant and walk around with these fake baby bumps. My mama heart just loves these pictures, and I hope that one day, in 20 years or so, they can recreate this for me for REAL! Besties.FIVE. Nella. She’s as crazy as ever, but this flaxen-haired beauty got her first haircut a couple weeks ago!Because she’s so energetic and doesn’t want to sit still for a photo, the best picture I could get of her new ‘do was when she was lying down. It was so hard for me to cut it (I was obsessed with her absolutely wild curls), but she was eating her hair and having some digestive troubles, so it had to be done. Her tummy seems to be a lot better, and we think her hair-eating habit is broken. Don’t worry, her new hair can be completely unruly, too!SIX. Just because there needs to be a little more Evie in this post… 😉

Happy Friday!!!

kaya’s 6th birthday (a unicorn party)!

We celebrated Kaya’s birthday at the end of September (postponed by a week due to the uncertainty of hurricane Florence’s effect on our region), but I’m so excited to be catching up and sharing some of her special day.Kaya is perhaps the most birthday-enthused person in our family (which is saying A LOT, because I’m pretty into birthdays myself), so it’s always a little extra fun to surprise her and make her wishes come true. Ever since her 5th birthday, she’d been counting on having a unicorn-themed party for her 6th. She wanted her cake to be rainbow (for the 3rd year!), so I obliged, but switched things up a little with some rainbow rosettes. My attempt at a fondant unicorn fell flat (literally) late the night before the party, so I ended up printing a unicorn, laminating it, and attaching it to a popsicle stick. I was worried she’d be disappointed, but when she saw the finished cake, she unexpectedly threw her arms around me, squeezed me tight and said, “You did so GREAT!” It was my favorite moment of such a wonderful day.We had unicorn headbands for our three oldest girls (although Nella napped through the entire gig).Have you ever seen anyone happier on her birthday?We let her blow out the candle six times. Why not? Whenever we take these birthday pictures of just the birthday girl and us parents, I can’t help but remember the first picture we ever took with her. It seems like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. Chocolate cake! Not to brag, but I think this was the best-tasting cake I’ve made so far. It was moist and rich, and the frosting was the creamiest. It had chilled in the refrigerator, so the coolness of the cake was delectable. Uncle Jeff, Auntie Lelia, and Cousin Bryce got to come up and celebrate with us! We were so happy to have them here.Grandma Debbie was here for the party, too!She’s already getting to that age where she asks for more expensive items… so that means she had just a few things to open. I liked the simplicity of it. Hatchimals from Grandma Debbie! She has been talking about these for over a year and was so excited to finally have her own!Kaya had already guessed what this one from us would be…“ROBOTIC PONY!!!”And some money for her 529 from Uncle Jeff, Auntie Lelia and Bryce! It was so funny to hear her read her card aloud as soon as she opened it.Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip arrived close to dinnertime, so Kaya got to enjoy a second round of presents. A book light!And slippers!We waited until the next day to open her Hatchimals, since we knew it could take a while for them to actually come out, and we were all pretty exhausted by the end of her party. Kaya had so much fun tilting and rubbing the egg, and when they finally broke through, it was pretty exciting. She named her new babies “Flappy” and “Cuddly” and has loved taking care of them.

It was so wonderful to celebrate our girl and have so much of our family here to do it with us. These birthday weekends are some of my favorite memories.

Happy 6th Birthday Kaya!

five favorites (09/18)

I always intend to get these posts done on Friday, but with how jam-packed life has been ever since we had Eve, it seems like it takes me a few extra days to actually finish them. Oops! I guess it doesn’t really matter what day I get them done, because regardless, I know that I’ll love looking back on these in a few years.

ONE. We’ve been trying to get outside when the weather has been nice enough, and we definitely snuck in some playground time before the tail end of Hurricane Florence’s rain came here. Nella has been insisting on only riding the big kid swing, and she also went down the slide all on her own for the very first time!We love it when Daddy meets us there on the way home from work!
TWO. I had a doctor appointment this week, and fortunately, Daddy was able to take the girls so that I could go alone. They went on a little walk and had the best time seeing some farm animals! Kaya and Kaelyn named this horse “Beautiful”! THREE. A few weeks ago, Michael really hurt his ankle playing volleyball. We thought it was just sprained, but after about ten days of him walking around in an ACE bandage and not seeing any improvement, he ended up getting an x-ray at the local urgent care clinic. The radiologist told him it was an avulsion fracture, and he was put in a boot!He wore the boot for about a week before he was able to get an appointment with an orthopedist, who told him that he and his colleague had meticulously looked over his x-ray and had no idea what the radiologist had seen. It wasn’t broken after all! Crazy. Michael took a little while to adjust back to the biomechanics of non-boot life, but he’s on the mend now.

Even with a messed up ankle, he’s still been doing house projects. He got the stairwell painted, which is something I’ve been eager to get done for forever!FOUR. On Wednesday, my Dad-in-law sent me a picture of him and Mom having breakfast at Cracker Barrel… so I asked them where they were, and they told me they were in the next town over! They were driving home from their trip out west and completely surprised us by spending the morning here. These little girls were so happy (and of course requested to watch Shaun the Sheep with Grandpa… it’s kind of their thing now)!Grandma got some Evie snuggles!FIVE. We got to go to a Hokie volleyball game last week! I had never been to one, and it was a first for the girls, too. It was really fun to be back on campus and feel the sense of school pride and community that any of my fellow Hokies know! I just had to get a picture of the girls with the largest Hokie Bird statue I know of!Happy Tuesday!

five on friday (07/27)

What’s this? A Five on Friday post?! I haven’t written one since Eve was born! I’ve been trying to keep up with only the most essential tasks these days, so blogging has taken a bit of a back seat to real life, but I’m back, for today at least, and that feels good. This is going to be one giant catch-up post, so I might end up with more than five things…

ONE. Michael was given official paternity leave this time around, and so we enjoyed a full 2.5 weeks of having him home with us. It was really amazing to have that time to bond as a new family of 6 (!!!), and also to have the extra help while I recovered from delivery. I’m so grateful that he could take care of the older girls while I only had to tend to the baby. Those early weeks of just baby snuggles were blissful. He’s back to work, now, although he has been taking it slow in the mornings and going in a little later than usual.

I’d say we’ve been doing really well on our own- the day feels full and life is busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. On our first “official” day without Daddy, Nella ended up with an upset stomach and threw up for an hour and a half… I felt just awful for her, but the fact that we had such chaos as soon as we were on our own was almost laughable. Almost.TWO. We’ve had a lot of fun with grandparents this past month! Grandma Gina selflessly came up to stay with us while we awaited Eve’s arrival. We tried to have some fun outings (since Eve took a little more time than we all expected), and one of those days, we went to the mall to play at the indoor playground.This little bunny is always Kaya’s favorite!Nella is getting a little too good at climbing…This week, Grandma and Grandpa were able to come back for a day visit! Of course, there had to be a family date to Sweet Frog (Kaya and Kaelyn’s current favorite place). I stayed home with Eve, but Michael brought some back for me (covered in Nutella)!Grandma Debbie also came up for a few days this past weekend! We enjoyed her homemade spaghetti sauce, some long walks, and time at the playground!And a million baby cuddles, of course.THREE. With all of Michael’s time off, he tried to get some projects done around the house. The tasks have ranged from small things like hanging photos and new ceiling fans, to ripping up the entire attic floor so we could have some guys come and seal it (that way, we’ll hopefully lose less heat/AC and be a little more energy efficient).

We were able to borrow a laser level to help with our photo gallery, which made things so much easier!Ta-da! I still need another large frame on the end for a photo of Eve, but I’m really happy with how this turned out. (And I took this before Michael replaced the ceiling fan!)My brother-in-law, Jeff, custom-made the wooden Virginia sign for me. I love it! I also got those watercolor printables from this Etsy shop.Michael has installed three ceiling fans so far. I really love how much brighter the rooms seem with these white fans and light fixtures. We have a few more to replace before the whole house is done, but these little things add up fast, so we’re just doing a little at a time.FOUR. We’ve been blessed with great neighbors and a wonderful church family who have brought us meals and gifts for the baby these past couple of weeks. We are so so grateful for everyone’s generosity.

Kaya and Kaelyn have been pretty big helpers, too. They’ve been holding Eve, soothing her when she’s sad, and have even helped out with chores. Kaya is actually getting really good at mopping!Kaelyn is great at vacuuming the stairs!FIVE. The girls are great at coming up with their own games and ideas, which is really useful since we’ve been at home a whole lot lately. Kaya has been building blanket forts, which provide hours of entertainment for everyone.Even Nella likes hanging out in the fort!We’ve been playing on the deck (and practicing spelling, which both Kaya and Kaelyn think is a lot of fun)…… and spinning around and around in the office chair. We have plenty of entertainment around here!SIX. (Whoops, I knew I’d have more than five things!) Kaya and Kaelyn have been making so much beautiful art lately that I just had to share some here. I love how nearly everything Kaya does incorporates rainbows:“Our Family During the Daytime”:Kaelyn always draws me and her together. In this one, we were taking a walk! I love the giant hearts.And because there was just not enough baby sweetness in this post… Those chubby cheeks and pouty lips get me every time.Happy Friday!

Linking up herehere, and here today!