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.
Kaya had the very special job of helping Great Grandpa Teerlink hand out his cards. She did a great job.
Grandma Gina brought a special gift for the girls- handmade baby doll beds! These have gotten so much use over the past few months.
I always love to sit with Grandpa and hear some of his stories. He has made me feel so included in the family.
And some more pictures with Grandpa T, just because!
We love these days as a family and these Christmas memories.
Back around Thanksgiving, we spent the day at the Children’s Museum of Richmond! We met up with Jeff, Lelia, cousin Bryce, and Grandma Gina late in the morning and spent nearly the entire day there. It was our first time going, and it definitely didn’t disappoint!
We were surprised to see a real fire engine and a full-size bus inside the building. Nella immediately wanted to climb up and drive!There were so many fun things to do, and Kaya ran up to me over and over again to tell me to come see all the amazing places you could go. Daddy and the girls went to a little retro diner where another little girl served them some pizza and steak.I got some Lelia time (and Evie got some Auntie Lelia cuddles)!Grandma Gina always asks Nella, “Are you my cuddlebug?”, and she certainly was that day. Nella played with Grandma almost the entire time we were there, and even snuggled with her on the pirate ship.Kaya and Kaelyn climbed the rock wall about 100 times (and Bryce had some crackers)!There was also this very cool apple tree that would use air pressure to move the balls (“apples”) you put in the tubes. Kaya loved it.We left for some lunch and rest. My mom got off work a little early, so we decided to go back for her to enjoy some time playing with girls. I’m so glad we did. She really loved watching them have so much fun.Kaya gave us all a bus ride!Nella was the backseat driver… and Michael was terrified. Ha!Kaelyn and Grandma Debbie got their workout in!And Kaya climbed the wall some more.Kaelyn rode the scooter around for a while!And we ended up back at the diner. No matter how real those juke boxes look, don’t try to put a quarter in the slot. Don’t ask how I know!Kaya ended her day playing in the veterinary hospital. I just love this picture because it’s so her: wearing her cat shirt, donning cat scrubs on top of it, and holding a cat while pretending to take care of animals. That’s my girl.Nella and Kaelyn ended the day in the little “sandbox”. Nella was also completely soaked because she played at the water station for a long time just before this!It was such a great day with family! I’d definitely love to go back sometime (and I’m sure the girls would, too)!
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.
This is it… the LAST of the Christmas posts! I am so relieved to be mostly caught up on here. Phew!
We headed up to Michael’s cousin Jenny’s house for the annual Teerlink Christmas Party two days before the new year. Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip had come to visit us for a day just before this, so we all headed up there at the same time. The girls were happy to continue our visit for a few extra hours.My very favorite part of this entire tradition is doing the nativity play. They’ve been doing it this same way for decades, with a narrated storyline, actors in costume, and group singing throughout.I typically get kind of emotional watching this, and I might have teared up when I saw my shepherd and little lambs come out onto the floor. They absolutely love participating in the play.The whole cast.I just love these people so much!And these people!! So grateful I could have some time with Lelia, Jeff, and Bryce!Four generations! Grandpa spent some time handing out Christmas cards, bearing his testimony, and announcing some items that Grandma Teerlink had designated to go to certain grandchildren. In those tender moments, I know we all were missing her and wishing she could physically be there, too. We just had to get one of Grandpa and the two littlest! (Nella had a little cold this day, and she was so tired that she wasn’t really excited about photos.)Each of the kids opened one present at the end of the night. Can you guess what ours were by now? Yup… Calico Critters!Nella gave the best gift of all… hugs to her sister.And that wraps up our entire Christmas season! Until next year!!!
We celebrated Thanksgiving with Michael’s side of the family a couple of days early! Tori made these beautiful place cards, and along with using special silverware, our dinner felt a little extra fancy. Per Mom’s request, we went around the table and each said something that we felt grateful for this past year. There was laughter, some tears, and just general heartfelt goodness in the room as we all thoughtfully prepared our statements. That seemingly small exercise turned out to be the most memorable moment of the entire holiday.I’m grateful for each of these people around the table, and that I’m lucky enough to call them my family!I think Dad is most grateful for chocomint freeze!Nella slept through the meal, but these big kids had fun chowing down at the picnic table! I love that we have cousins now, and a need for a “kid table”.After the meal, we prepared for family photos. I’ll tell you, it isn’t always easy getting everyone ready and putting everything in place (especially because my kids hardly seem to nap when we’re away from home), but it is always worth it.
And, truth time: this photo is a composite of four separate shots! It must be against some natural law that all kids will look at the camera at the same time and not appear sad, because I didn’t have one single shot where they all looked reasonably happy. Hey, at least I’m honing my photoshop skills!We get a little crazy……and clearly, there’s more where that came from.Mom gets major points for putting up with Dad’s shenanigans… all the time!Love these two.This shot was a test for lighting, but I just love how natural and “grandmotherly” it feels. We have some lucky kids!More tests for lighting, but someone loves her Daddy! (Also, can we just mention how beautiful Virginia is in the fall?)And someone else loves creepy photobombing…Brothers!!!Love this one!Siblings! (Also, I think I should start a photo series called, “weird things I do with my hand while trying to hide the camera remote”. Ha!)Apparently, they dance while they’re waiting for me to set up the shot. I don’t even remember this happening!And I’m not sure when there was time for someone to steal my camera and do this……or this……or THIS! Hahaha. Honestly, I love finding these surprises on my memory card later.Meanwhile, Jeff was working on his “Flynn Rider” face. Disney, he’s ready for hire.These two are so natural in front of the camera together. Melt my heart!Seriously, so cute you guys!I know I’m gushing, but again, seriously. I’m surrounded by beautiful families!Our kids were so done with photos by this point, and we had already taken some photos of just our little family a couple of weeks prior, but since we had the camera out, we snapped a few anyway. I kind of love Kaelyn’s funny face!We ended the evening with an early holiday gift exchange, since Kevin and Tori wouldn’t be flying out again for Christmas. Nella was clearly excited!Bryce snuggles!Kaya had to jump in and get some cuddles too! She just loves her baby cousin and her Auntie.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, we headed down to my in-laws’ place for some family time! Nella was so excited to play with baby Bryce! And seriously, the only thing cuter than one baby is two babies… so of course, I had to take a bunch of photos of them together!This really old pretend phone was the most popular toy for this crowd. Sharing can be hard when you have no idea what sharing actually is.Kaya is a really great helper with the babies! My girls really loved having time with their cousins.And I just had to throw this one in here because Bryce looks like he’s dancing, and Nella isn’t so sure about his moves. Haha.Kevin, Tori, and Jack flew in from Utah to spend a week in Virginia! These “big kids” loved having little picnics at the table every chance they got.Bryce and Jack had a milk-bottle chugging contest…I enjoyed some baby Bryce cuddles too! We were totally twinning in our stripes so there had to be photo evidence. He’s just so smiley and happy. I love this little guy!Nella had some Grandpa Skip cuddles! It was so fun to see them playing together on this trip.We also got to visit with their neighbors’ new puppy (which my in-laws have adopted as their “grandpuppy”)! His name is Scooter, and of course, my girls just loved him. They kept saying, “He’s so soft!”Michael, Kevin, Jeff, and Dad did some shooting and frisbee throwing. They dubbed their activities, “The Brolympics”. I’m not sure if anyone officially won, but they had so much fun, and I’m grateful that Michael could have quality time with both his brothers.
Later that evening, we went bowling! This was a first for my girls, and I have to say, I was really impressed with how well they did! Kaya completely surprised me by picking up and throwing the ball all on her own. Kaelyn needed some more guidance, but she was so good at rolling it!Grandpa Skip taught Jack how it’s done…Go Mom!Tori held Nella for most of the evening! They were little buddies by the end of it. I’m glad Nella is such a laid-back baby.My score started out really great… and then quickly plummeted. I may have bowled the worst I ever have in my life, and I don’t have an explanation for it. I still had so much fun though!Michael is always good at sports!We were very much ready for sleep by the end of the day’s activities. We share a big room with all the girls when we stay at my in-laws’, so of course, I can’t resist taking pictures of them sleeping like little angels.
We’ve had a fun and exciting week (and I’m only a day late on this)!
ONE. Michael had his first-ever international flight this week… to DENMARK! Our nerdy guy went over there for the Docker Con event in Copenhagen, and of course, he had a blast. I was really wishing I could have gone with him, but I don’t think the kids would have done so well with both of their parents gone (despite having awesome grandparents who definitely would’ve taken great care of them). Maybe when they are a little older!
And yes, I totally made him pose for a picture with his passport. (He took the suitcase that I used on my study abroad trip, so I also insisted that he keep my pink bow on it. I’m sure it made it easy to spot!)
We’re so happy to have him back Stateside!
TWO. We had a couple of awesome visitors while Daddy was gone… Grandma Gina and Uncle Jeff! Grandma stayed all week long and helped us out with anything and everything. We’re so glad she could come and make the week a lot easier! Before she left, Kaya served us all some pretend pink cake. Love this one! Nellbells adores her Grandma! Uncle Jeff had planned to attend his former scout’s Eagle Court of Honor ceremony in town, so he came up and spent Sunday with us. He was a big help too, especially when the dog decided to throw up 2 minutes before we were supposed to leave for church and I completely messed up the brownies I was planning to take to a dinner we were invited to that evening. Hopefully Lelia and Bryce can come next time, too!
THREE. Kangaroo Kids is still the highlight of my week. How can you not smile when you see the joy on Kaya’s face? All three girls are really into trying to pop the million bubbles that come out at the end of class! I’m really soaking in these days while the kids are so little and these simple outings are everything to them. Grandma had a really fun time tagging along! She sat Nella up on the corner of the inflatable slide so she could watch her sisters come down, and then everyone would giggle like crazy. One of the teachers told me I could take Nella down the slide if I wanted to (she’s technically not enrolled in the class because she’s really too little), so she got to do it for the very first time, and she laughed and laughed, even before we started sliding. I love this happy little girl (and oh, that tiny ponytail)!FOUR. We also spent some time at the library this week! The craft of the month was a spider, so the girls enjoyed putting as many eyes and legs as they could fit on their spiders’ bodies. While they worked on gluing, I read them some facts about spiders. I’m all for squeezing in learning opportunities any place we can! Grandma loved reading and playing Legos with us!
FIVE. The girls love to play “doctor” and give each other pretend vaccines. Whoever wears the glasses gets to be the doctor. Don’t tell Uncle Jeff that he could have forgone med school and just gotten some plastic spectacles instead.Happy weekend!
About a month ago, we visited Jeff and Lelia, which meant that we got to meet baby Bryce for the very first time! I’d been looking forward to it so much that I was counting down the weeks until this very day. My girls were equally excited to see their newest cousin! It brought me so much joy to see Lelia as a mommy. Bryce is one lucky little guy! I love that we could take a picture of us together, each with a baby in our arms. Kaelyn just couldn’t believe it when we asked her if she wanted to hold two babies! This right here was pretty much heaven for her. She seemed to be extra connected to Bryce, too. He just had a sense of calmness around her.
Two days later, we were able to attend his baby blessing!
So many family members were there, but I didn’t get a photo of the entire group. Here’s our four-generation shot, though!
We were so glad to see Grandpa Teerlink! Grandma loves Nella… …and Grandpa loves being completely silly! After the blessing and pictures, we enjoyed some refreshments (Lelia’s Andes mint cookies… mmmm)! I also got to hold Bryce one more time, and he took a little nap on me. I already miss when Nella would curl up on me like this. Why are these newborn days so fleeting? It’s safe to say, I’m smitten with my little nephew. I’m so glad we were able to be at his blessing and enjoy some time with family.
This past weekend started off very exciting- Jeff and Lelia welcomed their first baby into their family on Friday afternoon! I am beyond excited for them, and I can’t wait to meet baby Bryce in a few weeks! Kaya and Kaelyn are just as eager to hold him as I am.
Meanwhile, we started off our Saturday with some sweet baby Nella snuggles! One of the best things about Saturdays is being able to move a little more slowly and enjoy time together before we start the day’s projects.I had my longest training run planned for that morning- 13 miles! That’s the farthest I’ve ever run, so once I was finished, I was felling really proud (hence my hands in the air- woohoo!). All the muscles in my legs wanted to quit when I hit mile 11.5, but I pushed through, and when I reached the end of my route, Michael and the girls jumped out from around the corner and started yelling and cheering for me. They said they had to practice for race day… obviously! I’ll take “practice cheering” anytime. I love my thoughtful family.I was very ready for a nap after all that running, but first, we all helped Daddy finish putting the new shutters on the house. (Kaya insisted on wearing those blue toy glasses all day long!) On Sunday morning, Nurse Kaelyn gave everyone checkups. She loves playing with this dress-up outfit and always tells me that she wants to be a “nurse [who] takes care of babies” when she grows up.
The rest of the weekend was filled with naps, homemade paninis, and church. What could be better? I love these simple weekends with my little family.
This was my second year running the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, and I had even more fun this year than last!
I convinced Karl to do this as his very first race, and I was so excited to be able to start together! Any reason to see my brother is a good one, especially now that he lives several hours away from us. Credit goes to my dad, who came to cheer us on, for these first couple of photos! Karl and I started at the same time, but we didn’t stick together- I told him I’d see him at the finish line, and I took off! I started a little fast, but I decided to keep it up for as long as I could (and pass up some of the slower groups).Apparently, I also do really weird things with my fingers while I’m running…I took the first half a little too fast, and I really started to feel it around mile 3.5 or so. I slowed down, but still tried to stay within my goal pace of 9:00 min/mile. At the finish, I clocked in at 53:34, which was an average of 8:37 min/mile. While training here in the mountains, my best 6-miler averaged out to 9:14 min/mile, so shaving off that much time made me ecstatic!Last year, I was so nervous for this race, because I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, and dealing with a lot of nausea and fatigue. My only goals last year were to finish and keep the baby safe. This year, all I could think about was seeing my family and holding my sweet little Nella at the finish line. It’s amazing how much can change in just one year. Photo-bomb courtesy of Karl!Jeff and Lelia ran too, and we met up with them afterward! Lelia gets some serious credit for doing this at 30 weeks pregnant. Mom and Dad Irwin also came to see us finish, but they had to leave shortly after. Of course, there had to be donuts afterward, so we picked some up and hung out at Jeff and Lelia’s place for a little while. These were delicious, but I’ve realized that almost anything tastes amazing after a run.Here’s to another race down, and more to come- I’ve got the fever now!