five favorites (08/22)

Happy Saturday! I’m taking a few moments to reflect on the past week and feel grateful. Here are five highlights from lately:

ONE. One of Michael’s old high school friends came into town and invited him to go hiking. Michael took Kaya and Kaelyn along, and they had such a great time! This was their first time really hiking on their own, without being carried, and they did amazingly well. This loop is almost 4 miles long, and there wasn’t even any complaining!There’s also a giant waterfall at the top! They enjoyed lunch (which included some special thin mint cookies), and they even tried to swim a little, despite the water being pretty cold. Kaya found a picture frame-shaped stick and had Daddy take a picture special for me, since she knew I’d love it!Daddy treated them to Dairy Queen on the way home, and then they passed out in the car. It was nearly an all-day adventure, and they were so worn out.TWO. While Daddy and the big girls were hiking, I got to enjoy some time with just the little girls. Nella had been asking all week to play dolls with me, so I thought that would be a special activity for just the three of us.
I have two American Girl dolls from my childhood, and Nella loves when I take them out and she gets to dress her doll in their clothes. I help do their dolls’ hair and put shoes on them. It’s really special to watch them enjoy some of the things I had as a little girl.

It also felt so quiet and simple having just two kids at home!THREE. The girls have randomly been willing to pose for a few pictures together lately! It’s out of the ordinary for them to just do this on their own and not have anyone feeling grumpy. There’s something extra special about having them all in one picture. Oh, my heart!They’ve also been really into making these blanket and pillow piles to watch a show. It’s the cutest thing to see them all cuddled up.Snuggly sisters, cuddly stuffed animals. FOUR. After a few months of testing Scout’s kidney function and doing subcutaneous fluids at home, her bloodwork finally came back normal at her last appointment! We sure love our puppy (and her kisses)!Now, we get to slowly wean her off the fluids and recheck her levels in a couple of months. Fingers crossed! FIVE. We’ve been back to school for a while now, but we didn’t start our science curriculum right away, and after we did, I decided to completely shift gears and do something else. We are now trying out REAL Science Odyssey this year, and so far, it’s a big hit! We’ve done a couple of labs, and even little Nella has wanted to participate. It’s fun to watch them making discoveries on their own and learning about chemistry. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year!Happy weekend!

five favorites (07/18)

Whew! It feels like it’s been crazy busy around here, but it’s always worth taking the time to write one of these (even if it means sacrificing a nap… which is really hard for a pregnant mama)!

ONE. Michael took last week off of work and used some of his time off to start refinishing our deck. He’s been power-washing and sanding, and today we picked out the new paint color. I’m really excited! Goodbye, chipped red stain! I found his selfie in our shared photos account and it kind of makes me laugh for some reason.

TWO. We’ve spent a lot of time in the little pool so far this summer. It’s not quite the same as going to the community pool, but we’ve already had a lot more fun with it than I even expected to. It doesn’t take much to make these kids happy. I’m not sure where she got the peace sign thing from, but it’s cute! Eve always has to bring her pacifier in the pool and usually likes to stay by me. She’ll go to the opposite end and say, “I’m coming!”, and then she hurries over to me as quickly as she can. She also really loves pouring water on my baby belly!I’ve also really enjoyed this little pool. I can sit in there and the girls still have plenty of room to play. There’s just something extra-relaxing about being in water when you have a baby bump.

THREE. We’ve been trying to take more family walks lately, even if it’s the last thing we do right before the girls go to bed. We usually only go about a mile, but it’s been something I really love doing all together. Sometimes, the girls put their pajamas on before we leave so they’re ready for bed when we get back. Eve was so exhausted after her birthday party that she passed out in the stroller. That’s just the best.Nellie likes to hide in the pine trees and “scare” us as we walk by. BOO!We found some pretty flowers and had to take a picture with them! I love how Eve is not paying attention and is trying to walk away because it’s so true-to-life. This girl has things to do!

FOUR. This week, Kaya had a school assignment to create a flower out of fruit and then write a step-by-step paragraph about it. We turned it into an activity for everyone (minus Eve, who was napping and would have made an epic mess)!Nella has been really into photobombing these days.
Oh this face.And this one. I love Kaelyn’s laugh.FIVE. We borrowed library books for the first time since everything locked down for the pandemic back in March! Our library just reopened a few weeks ago, and we can order books for pickup. I picked out some new ones for the girls, and when Daddy brought them home, it was seriously like Christmas for them!
It was pretty much a book explosion, but I love how they all just dove right in and started reading. I love how much they love books.Happy Saturday!

five on friday! (05/29)

There are still a few minutes left of Friday… so why not put together a “Five” post? I have missed doing these consistently over the past few months. Writing out a few good things at the end of the week really helps give me some perspective and renewed gratitude.

ONE. I am SO PROUD of these girls because they finished all five races in our local running store’s virtual series! We did their final mile this week. Eve rode in the stroller for all of it, but she was a great sport, so she gets points, too.I’m grateful we had some extra motivation to get outside in between all the rain we’ve been having!Love these girls. Love holding hands. Love matching Minnie Mouse shirts. Love being outside!

TWO. Daddy, Kaya, and Kaelyn made cookies to deliver to some neighbors this week. The girls were so excited! We all love Great Grandma Teerlink’s traditional “Square Shooter” recipe.

THREE. Kaya and I finished her standardized testing for the year! She did great, and as mind-numbing as giving a test for days can be, I’m relieved to have that checked off for the year.

Yes, all of Kaya’s favorite plush kitties “watched” her take her test. She was also dressed up as a queen.

We also tied up the last few loose ends of our textbooks. It feels like such an accomplishment to check off the last page of a huge book!Cuddling up and reading is my favorite.

FOUR. We’ve had a decent number of warm days lately, so Nella and Eve have been enjoying the water table again. They always seem to end up completely soaked!Nella likes to pretend to cook!Taste-testing is probably not such a good idea, though.

FIVE. Kaya and Kaelyn have become epic fort-makers. They take over the entire living room with their creations and play in there for hours. Usually, they pretend to be mermaids (along with Nella) named “Mirmy”, “Mirmir”, and “Bloomer”.

Happy Friday!

five favorites (02/03)

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

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

first day of homeschool (2019)

I feel like I shouldn’t be writing “first day” at all, mostly because we didn’t have an official start to the year. I took these pictures back in August, when public school started again. I love looking at these and comparing how much the girls have grown by the end of the following spring, so even if they aren’t technically “first day” photos, they are still “start of the year” photos, and they are so, so valuable to me.

We did school throughout the summer. I gave everyone about four weeks off between May and June, unsure of what our exact school plans would be during this typical “vacation” period. I quickly found that we all work better with structure, and so, we continued on with our studies. We did simplify, which meant working only on language arts and math during the summer months. When August rolled around, we added everything else back in (handwriting, spelling, science, history, and typing).

I cannot believe I have a 2nd grader, a kindergartener, and a preschooler this year. How on earth does time move this quickly? Nella has yet to start any formal lessons, but she has enjoyed having her sisters teach her what they know from time to time.

Because we didn’t take a long summer break, we’re currently taking off every Friday. This leaves a free day for doctor appointments, play dates, more in-depth chores, and unstructured play. Fridays are when we take an extra-deep breath and “just” be a mom and four kids. Fridays feel so simple, but keeping them open this way has been really healthy for all of us.

I sometimes let the heaviness of “doing it all” really weigh on me. It feels like a lot of responsibility, because it absolutely is.

Homeschool has definitely been a huge personal sacrifice.

But you know what?

It has also been a gift of immeasurable proportions. I get to have all my babies home with me, together, every single day. I watch that yellow school bus roll by in the morning, and I’m reminded of how grateful I am that I don’t have to say goodbye to Kaya and Kaelyn for eight full hours. I watch the bonds that all my daughters share, and I am beyond thankful that they’ve had this extra time to cultivate those relationships.

I also get to be there for all of their “ah-ha!” moments, when lessons just start to make sense and suddenly they understand what they’re learning, like truly reading fluently or doing multiplication. I cherish those times.

Sometimes, our school day looks like snuggling up to read books, watching a movie, baking, playing outside, or going to the library. All these things make my heart so full. Those are the days that make it all feel worth it.

Of course, there are days where sisters are fighting, no one wants to do their work, and a toddler is screaming all morning. These are the days that have me doubting everything I’m doing. We are all trying so hard, and I hope that’s what they’ll remember one day when they look back on these years.

Something I’m really trying to master this year is balance. Balance between schoolwork, playtime, housework, and my own “self-care” or hobby time. I’m really hoping I can come back here at the start of summer and say that I learned something significant about balance, but I have a feeling that I might just have to be okay with knowing that I can’t do everything all at once. Sometimes, I’m going to be a little behind in one (or more) of those categories. Maybe finding balance just means I need to find peace with that.We’re already about halfway through this year’s curriculum, and I can’t believe how much these little ladies have grown. Despite the difficult days, I’m thankful for this extra-special added role I have as their mama.

five on friday! (10/18)

Happy Friday! I have a lot of small things to share that have brought me so much joy this week, so I’m glad to squeeze this post in just before Friday ends. Little things really are my favorite.

ONE. I have to start with these adorable matching sisters! I know I’m biased, but come on… that ear-to-ear grin on Nella and Eve’s insanely-blue eyes? They are really becoming little buddies with a perfect sibling relationship, meaning that sometimes they play and hug, and other times, they push each other and fight over toys. I really love seeing them interact, and having them wear the same shirts that Kaya and Kaelyn wore four years ago just completely melts my heart. They’re my next inseparable duo, just like their oldest sisters. TWO. Kangaroo Kids started up again, and these girls could not be happier. I love seeing them jump, climb, balance, and pretend. Nella has started asking, “Go Bim Bam” when she wants to go to our class, because at the end, we usually sing a few songs, including this one called Razzama Tazzama. Watching her have fun is just the greatest.Eve is all over the place now, walking and climbing on everything. She really wants to keep up with her sisters.THREE. Kaya and Kaelyn have been making some pretty fun art lately. Kaya started this one out as a galaxy, but it somehow turned into a rainbow, as most of her creations do!

Kaelyn made this card for Kaya. It says, “Kaya, I hope you like this card. I love you Kaya.” She even made a little “frame” for it (they learned how to do that from Mr. Rogers), and attached a cute turtle at the bottom. She’s so thoughtful.

This one is from Kaelyn, to me. She drew me outside with flowers and a butterfly!Kaya has also been really into making these bubble/block letters. She sometimes writes notes on the magnadoodle board and leaves them for me to find.FOUR. I got to do a photo session for a family Michael knows through work this week, and we had a lot of fun. Michael met up with me on location so he could take the kids, but they ended up staying and playing with the other family’s little girl, which was a blast. We all went to dinner afterward, and I’m still excited about the dreamy lighting we had.Those little arms reaching around Daddy for a hug… ahhhh my heart!FIVE. Kaya came down with a cold on Thursday, so she’s done quite a bit of sleeping, and we’ve had modified school lessons. We even counted watching The Magic School Bus as science, which everyone really really loved!In between sleeping, she’s read over 100 pages of Because of Winn-Dixie. I’m so proud of my avid reader! She can’t wait to see the movie when she’s finished.Happy weekend!

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 (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!

last day of school (2019)

Even though I’m late on posting this (we finished our homeschool year at the end of May!), looking through these pictures still makes me want to cry because we did it. We triumphed and finished another year of homeschool! This would be my second “official” year, but it’s the fourth if you count the preschool years we did before that.

I’ve learned a whole lot, but I know there’s still so much more growth ahead for me. The beginning of the year was challenging with having a newborn who needed to nurse around the clock. There were days that it seemed like it took us all day to finally finish what I hoped to accomplish, and then I realized that maybe I was trying to do too much. I’ve tried to simplify and really spend time on what matters most.

We fell into a pretty good routine (not a schedule, per se, since we never started and ended at specific times). We’d have Language Arts and Math in the morning, usually around 10:30 am, until we’d finish for lunch.

We alternated days of science and history (two days a week of each). On science days, we’d read a few pages together from our kid encyclopedias in the afternoon, get books from the library to go with topics we were interested in, and watch Youtube videos that brought those subjects to life. It was pretty relaxed. On history days, I’d read to them out of our text book or listen to the audio recordings that came with the curriculum during lunchtime.

We did some read-alouds, which are honestly one of my favorite things ever to do with my girls. We giggled over The Trumpet of the Swan, enjoyed the original Winnie-the-Pooh, and started Charlotte’s Web. I honestly wish we could have done more, but I’m thankful for the time I was able to have snuggled up with my girls enjoying good books.

This was also the first year that Kaya had to be tested (as per state law), so of course, I was a bit nervous about preparing for that as we made our way through our studies. We tested early, in March, and she excelled. I’m proud of the both of us and how far we’ve come this year.

Kaelyn really surprised me this year with how much she learned. She’s already reading really well, and she goes through math workbooks so fast it’s crazy. I’m so excited for her kindergarten year! I love these girls, and I’m thankful with my whole heart that I can have this time with them. It may not be easy, but it is worth it. Watching them grow and learn is the very best reward.

five favorites (05/19)

Happy Monday!!! I’m still making an effort to make these posts simpler so that I’ll write them more often. Here are a few fun recent moments!

ONE. We have been studying plants for the last few weeks and just wrapped up today! I decided to do something different than using a regular textbook for this unit, so I bought this set of lessons, labs, and powerpoints. It’s been a whole lot of fun for all of us! The girls are growing some lima beans in a bag, have learned about the plant life cycle, and are fascinated by carnivorous plants. They also really loved doing this pollination lab, where their fingers were insects, the juice box was nectar, and the cheese puff residue was the pollen.
The life cycle of a plant, according to Kaya. Notice the seeds dropping off on the last plant!TWO. We had our final Kangaroo Kids class last week. I’m always so sad to see it end for the summer! No one else in our class showed up, so we had the whole place to ourselves. Kaya built this little “ice cream shop”, and served her sisters (and me!) desserts for nearly the entire time. The balls were the scoops of ice cream. The green bucket was even “dairy free”, special for me. I just love her creativity.Kaya even built this little “seating area” you could go to after getting your ice cream. Nella was having a good time!THREE. The pink castle tent usually stays in the basement, but it’s been back in the living room for the past couple of weeks, so there’s been a whole lot of playing “house” and just generally hanging out in there. Even Evie loves it! Nella and Eve have been doing a lot more together lately, so I loved seeing them having a little party together in there.Nella is always taking care of a baby doll!FOUR. When you’re the size of a baby doll, you might just get a (nice, slow) ride in a doll stroller… Being the littlest sister seems to be the most fun!

FIVE. We watched the new Christopher Robin movie a couple of weeks ago. The girls loved it, and I cried the whole way through it. It was really well done! I found this sign in the big girls’ room after nap one day, and I just thought it seemed like something right out of the movie. The girls kept asking me if Heffalumps were real for a few days afterward, although they said this sign was to keep sharks away.