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 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 on friday (07/26)

I’m sneaking this post in just before it turns midnight! We’ve had a whole lot going on here, and as usual, I feel like this post just barely scratches the surface of it all. Here are just a few fun things from lately:

ONE. Michael had the opportunity to go to Scout camp last week as a leader for our church Stake! It was a challenging week without him (and I really really missed running), but he was very much needed and definitely enjoyed getting to know some of the young men better. Plus, look at this view! He was mostly offline the entire time, too, which sounds really peaceful, although we definitely missed talking to him.His selfies in our photo account are always fun to find. This is the most facial hair I’ve ever seen him have!
We totally looked like zombies by the end of the week, but I was so happy to have him home!!!

TWO. Nella and her baby dolls… If she’s not playing “Mommy and Baby” with the Calico Critters, she’s taking care of a baby doll. Actually, she is pretty good at pretending anything is a mommy or a baby, even her fork and spoon at meals or her sippy cup. I’m really hoping this little lady grows up to have a bunch of kids because it’s so deeply ingrained in her nature to care for them. Of course, she’s kind of a goober, too.THREE. We’ve had some fun at the library with the summer reading program! We went to a hilarious puppet show one week, and another week, we saw a balloon show. The girls each got to pick a fun balloon to take home at the end. We had butterfly wings, a flower, and just a crazy spiral balloon.The individual beads on Kaya and Kaelyn’s necklaces were earned for each book they read independently. I am so proud of these big kids!FOUR. We went to a different playground than we usually do, and the girls had an extra fun time trying out all the different equipment. This one reminded them of the balance scale we’ve used for math.We didn’t even realize there was another whole section to this park with a giant wooden castle, which actually reminded me a lot of a playground I used to go to when I was young. They had a blast over here playing with our friends!Bianca and I tried to contain the babies in here, but Eve still ended up eating dirt and crawling everywhere she wanted to go.FIVE. May your weekend be as happy as a one-year-old with bubbles…She absolutely cracks me up. And her little face just melts my heart every time.Happy Friday!!!

five on friday (06/21)

Happy Friday! It’s been a while since my last “Five on Friday”, so I’m really excited about this! These small snippets of life are some of my favorites to look back on.

ONE. We’ve been really enjoying summertime so far! Swimming was a huge part of my childhood summers, so it just doesn’t feel like the season without having some fun in the water. We bought a month-long pool pass, and it’s been one of our favorite things to do! Nella always asks to go to the “wa wa”!These are some happy kids. Kaya and Kaelyn ask to stay for hours and hours, even if the water is a bit chilly.

Bonus: Everyone is tired out afterward!TWO. Michael took off work one day last week, and we all went bowling! Life has felt so crazy-busy this past month or so, so it was great to take a couple of hours to reconnect as a family. The lighting isn’t so great for pictures in the bowling alley, so this is the best I have from my phone. Nella sometimes really wants to take her turn, and other times, she couldn’t care less about it. Kaya is actually getting really good at bowling! She still uses the ramp and bumpers, but she might have scored higher than me…

THREE. We’ve had some fun at the library, too! I love snuggling up with my girls and reading. Kaya and Kaelyn would play with the blocks all day!Eve has been having a lot more fun now that she can pull herself up and play with the toys there.FOUR. Kaya and Kaelyn have still been doing swim lessons, so when Michael takes them, I get some quality time with Nella and Eve. I love my big girls, but having this time with the little girls is so precious to me.  It’s a little calmer, a little quieter, and I just get to soak in their sweet personalities. Also, I just have to put this here, because taking that picture of Nella and Eve reminded me so much of this picture of Kaya and Kaelyn, at nearly exactly the same ages, four years ago! It’s amazing how time passes so quickly and so much changes.Nellie loves to climb all the rocks!Eve really only has the option of swinging for now, but she’s more than content.FIVE. Our little Scoutie girl has had a bit of a rough month. She had her annual physical in May, where she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She had a few days where she clearly wasn’t feeling well at all, and my heart was broken for her. I hate to see her suffering! She had another trip to the vet where she was prescribed some anti-nausea meds and probiotics, and she’s since been on the mend. She finished her round of antibiotics yesterday, and I’m hoping she’s able to stay symptom-free.

We also got her a harness, which we all love! It’s so much gentler than the “gentle leader” we were using, and it looks cute to boot.Happy weekend!

a dinosaur in san francisco (dockercon 2019)

Immediately after my half marathon, we dropped Michael off to catch his flight to San Francisco for DockerCon 2019! While he was flying, we did some chores, and then mostly tried to take it easy after my big run. We even napped and watched some shows!

Michael had the opportunity to bike around San Francisco on his first day there, which he said was actually surprisingly hilly and challenging. He even saw (and biked across) the Golden Gate Bridge!Seriously so beautiful!  He enjoyed about 27 miles that morning.I really liked his picture of the Port of San Francisco. It’s a beautiful building!Michael was asked to do both a talk and a workshop. He certainly was busy, but he loves all of this. (If you want to read his slides, go here!)He also spent some time running around in his T-Rex suit (it’s kind of a joke in the Docker community, referencing “Dino Apps”)! Dino selfie!
The best talks are repeated for a second session, and Michael’s was chosen this time! He decided to make a hilarious appearance in his dinosaur costume.His grand entrance!

It would have been pretty challenging to give his entire talk wearing that, so he turned back into a normal person. I’m really proud of him and how much he’s accomplished.Meanwhile, we were back home having a lot of fun, too! We spent the first few days on our own, and then Grandma Gina got to come up and help us. We went to Kangaroo Kids!Grandma and Kaya played “tennis” almost the entire time!Evie has always loved the bubble machine.We also spent some time at the library!Who is this big kid standing up like this?Nels got to visit the Hokie Bird when Grandma took them out for ice cream! She is obsessed with him these days, and I love it.Mmmmm!Later in the week, Grandma also took us to Chinese! Eve had her first tastes of sweet and sour chicken and also orange jello. She loved it all!Nella became an orange jello monster!!!Seriously, it was everywhere. At least she had fun!Michael arrived home very late on Friday night, so these little girls were definitely excited to wake up on Saturday and see him!

five on friday (11/16)

Happy Friday!!! I’m trying hard to get back into a routine with blogging, so I’m super excited to get this post out. Our days feel non-stop busy over here, but we’re looking forward to some time off of school next week and enjoying Thanksgiving.

Here’s some of what we’ve been up to lately!

ONE. We’ve been trying to get out of the house a little more (it just seems hard sometimes when there’s so much to be done at home), but I think a little break from our regular daily routine is good for everyone. We enjoyed some time at the library last week! Nella was very excited to try out all the little chairs.Puzzles!

We were also able to visit the mall this week to pick out our Angel Tree child. This has been one of my very favorite traditions these past few years. I’m grateful we can give gifts to another sweet little girl who needs them.

In the shoe store just next to the Angel Tree, there’s the smallest rideable carousel I’ve ever seen. The girls had never been on it, so when they asked, we said yes. For 25 cents, we heard some of the sweetest laughter that I will surely never forget. It’s these very small moments that make parenting magical.

It’s been really fun to see Nella’s reactions to doing “big kid things” for the first time. She laughed and kicked and squealed while riding her horse.Kaelyn’s was named “Neigh-Neigh”, of course.

TWO. We had our first winter weather this week… ice! So much for starting off with snow! Fall is my busiest time for photography (I’ve had photoshoots just about every weekend for the past month), and it’s crazy to already see that season coming to an end. We’re headed straight into the cold, dark winter days.

THREE. Everybody is still obsessed with Evie! And, well, I’m just obsessed with all these little girls.

FOUR. We’ve been sporting some crazy fashion accessories around here! Like a bow bigger than your head……and a unicorn horn! Nella wanted to wear this all morning (she’s also totally obsessed with those “donut” pajamas she’s wearing).

FIVE. Sometimes, your dog interrupts your baby’s photo session…Kaya’s been teaching her all these tricks, like “go through the tunnel!” (meaning walk under her legs). She’s still a crazy puppy, but we love our Scoutie!(And she sure loves us, too!)Happy weekend!

five favorites (05/20)

I couldn’t let the weekend go by without getting my Five posted! I’ve actually been sick (a cold plus pregnancy nausea), and even went home from church early because I really needed to sleep. So, while I’m resting, what better thing to do than blog?

ONE. We have had SO much rain this week! It’s incredible how much precipitation the ground can take without completely becoming a swampland (although, the path I usually run on does tend to flood pretty easily). We’ve spent a lot of time inside this week, but it’s been nice to take things a little slower and enjoy listening to the booming storms. The girls are afraid of thunder, but if it’s just rain, they love to tell me, “It sounds like music!” They ate their snacks on the edge of the porch one afternoon and watched the rain fall.To keep it real, here’s the view from the opposite side… Goldfish crackers spilled all over the deck and all! They liked tossing those into the yard “for the birds to have for dinner!”Nella always looks like she’s up to something…

TWO. We did enjoy some time outside when the storms broke. I love how they all always want to go down the slide together!We also had a church picnic this weekend, which included many outdoor activities that the girls loved: tug of war, an egg toss, a water race, and these giant bubbles!It wouldn’t be a normal week without some time in the hammock. Kaya and Kaelyn love rocking each other in it, like a gentle swing. They also love playing “babies” a lot lately, where Nella is the big sister, Kaelyn is the “daddy who goes to work”, and Kaya births and takes care of the baby. I love how “work” involves pretending to type on a toy laptop!THREE. We picked Daddy up from work a little early one day this week after my 32-week appointment, and we headed to the library. Honestly, I kind of need his help to go to the library these days- we always come home with a GIANT box of books, and between carrying those and Nella and the baby bump… it’s challenging! I was grateful for his help, and the girls were excited to build giant block towers with him!
Nella was excited to (noisily) knock them down…FOUR. Snails… they’re everywhere! As in, Kaya only drew snails for a day this week… and I love them. You might not think snails can be cute, but then you haven’t seen Kaya’s rendition of them. First she made one……then two (a mommy and a baby, of course)……and just when I thought it couldn’t get any cuter, she drew some in color and hid them under my pillow. And check out those butterflies!FIVE. This crazy smile of hers keeps me going on my sickest days. I just love her so much. Also, the humidity has done great things for her hair… look at those ringlets!She’s still “our baby” in the family, and sometimes it’s hard to imagine things changing, but I know she’s just going to be a great big sister.Happy weekend!

five favorites (01/29)

I’m always a little behind… but what can you do? These three keep me on my toes. Most of my pictures are just from my phone this past week, which made me a little sad at first, but then I realized that maybe it’s good, because that means we actually got out of the house and did things!

ONE. We had a gloriously warm day in the 50s, with the sun just peeking through the overcast sky, so we of course just had to get outside. Running is my all-time favorite, but sometimes, I really look forward to our walks, just because I get to go a little slower and take in my surroundings.

These ladies love the swings the most… And Kaya loves “climbing” trees (which really means that I help boost her up there, and then she attempts to go up higher but can’t quite do it yet)!They also love hiding behind rocks! Muddy puppy!!! She will, without fail, always find a way to get dirty.TWO. We had a family dinner out for the first time in almost 2 months! It felt special to take the girls and see them really enjoy the experience of dining out. Of course, we kept it simple and only went to Red Robin, but it’s a favorite for everyone! Plus, it was relatively empty on a Tuesday night, which meant that we got the biggest booth to contain our messy, crazy children.

Everyone begged Daddy for his strawberry lemonade… the entire time that we were there.Nella has been so into coloring lately; we’re just still working on the logistics of holding the crayon! Love this one Michael snapped of me helping her.Grandpa Skip should be proud, this girl loves French Fries!Pizza is always her favorite, anytime, anyplace.THREE. We also had a family trip to the library one night after picking Daddy up from work! I love bringing Michael to the library, because then I have two extra hands to carry our massive pile of books! Plus, I can sneak away for a few minutes and peruse the shelves alone.

These three choose about 20 books in the space of two minutes and then immediately run to play with the blocks and puzzles!
FOUR. We’ve been doing some arts and crafts projects around here (really low-key stuff, mostly just from the Dollar Store), and I just love seeing their creativity come to life! Painting and drawing are their favorite art media.
Kaya was very excited about her elephant coin bank!We’ve also done some coloring on our dot-to-dot math pages. These are Kaya’s favorite, and she always gasps, “Ooooo a dot-to-dot!” every time one comes up in the lesson.Kaelyn titled this, “The Sharks and Me”. She’s been really interested in sharks ever since our last trip to Myrtle Beach!This is Daddy (yes, with the white hair!), and Kaya, created by the latter.FIVE. Just because she’s so dang cute, and I feel so lucky I get to sit next to her for lunch every day. (Also, she loves her Hokie shirt!)Happy Monday!

five favorites (10/21)

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!

five favorites (09/11)

I really meant to write this on Friday… but it just seems like it’s getting harder to find time to get on the computer these days. Better late than never, as I always say!

ONE. Baking with my little ladies on Sunday mornings is one of my favorite things… ever! Now that the weather has cooled off and it’s basically autumn, my penchant for whipping up homemade jam… bread… muffins… brownies… or really anything, is strong! Getting these two involved in making strawberry freezer jam was super simple, and they loved having the leftover strawberries as smoothies afterward.

TWO. We’re pretty excited, because we just replaced the roof on our house! Between that and the new shutters, it looks so drastically different. The girls loved going outside and watching “the roof guys” working and seeing all their progress. (Also, can I just point out here that Kaelyn is totally Michael’s mini-me? They are so much alike in so many ways!)

THREE. With all the noisy hammering going on, we had some fun getting out of the house. We visited with friends and spent some time at the library. These girls love books, so they always want to bring home more than we could possibly carry. It’s also been fun helping Kaya to try reading some actual stories, instead of just the super silly ones in her phonics book. We also really love the library’s Lego table.

FOUR. I’m so proud of Kaya, because only about a month and a half into our kindergarten year, she’s already finished with half of her math program. Book A is complete! She absolutely loves doing math- she’d probably do these workbook pages all morning if I let her, but I try to slow her down a little to be sure she really understands the concepts. We’re on to Book B, and she’s so excited!FIVE. The other awesome thing about homeschool- being able to take all three of my girls outdoors any time we want for some cool, fresh fall air. I love seeing these babies together (and hey, having the playground to ourselves isn’t bad either)!Happy Monday!