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!

five favorites (08/10)

Happy Saturday! I didn’t quite get this done yesterday, so here I am. We spent a big part of today cleaning, so it’s nice to pop on here for a bit of fun and share what we’ve been up to this week!

ONE. We got to go to our town’s summer festival last weekend. There were craft vendors of all sorts, with a plethora of homemade items for sale. I think this was the first year we didn’t buy a single thing, but the girls had the best time. They got free lollipops from the local sweets shop. Everyone chose “rainbow” flavor, of course.

The fire station gave out these free firefighter hats, and the girls got to go up in the fire engine to look around, too. It was so exciting for them!The girls have been wearing their hats just about every day since. They pretend to come to my house and check that my smoke detectors are working. I love watching their creativity.They also got to go on a bounce house/slide! This was the best part for them.

TWO. Michael has been working hard out in the yard this week, removing the old bushes, most of which were dead or at least half-dying. This is a massive work-in-progress, but I’m realizing that having a house basically means you’re always working on something. At least, that’s how it is for us.Kaelyn was a good little helper.Nella keeps finding these old tennis balls in the yard. We (and Scout) found quite a few the first year we lived here, so I figured we had uncovered them all. Nope! They are still showing up. Someone must have played a lot of fetch before we bought the house.

I guess we’ll have to figure out what we’re putting here instead!

THREE. Speaking of our yard, we’ve had a lot of wild visitors lately… This buck has been here a few times to eat apples off the tree. He has a deformed antler, so he’s been easy to identify. He was also at the playground one day when I was running! I used my telephoto lens to get these, which is something I don’t get to do very often, so it was a fun change.On another day, we had a mother and her two fawns come by! I had seen the mother before and could tell she was lactating… so I was so excited when she brought her babies with her on her next visit. I only had time to grab my phone to take these before they sprinted away (ahem, Scout, thank you for barking and scaring them)! FOUR. Apparently, I’ve just been having a lot of fun with nature photos this week. Our purple flowers are already starting to wilt and fall to the ground, which means fall is fast-approaching.The girls and I loved reviewing what we’ve learned about pollination by watching the bees drink nectar from each flower.FIVE. One of my very favorite things about having a bunch of little girls is putting them in matching clothes, and it’s even better when I get to match them, too! I was in love with these pink sparkly shoes ever since I bought them for the girls for Easter, and when my size went on clearance last week… I just had to get them. These little moments make life sweet. (Also, Nella’s bare baby legs are just way too cute!)

Happy weekend!

five favorites (08/03)

Happy August! I can’t believe we’re in the last stretch of summer already. Where does the time go? We’ve been on the go a lot lately, so these are ALL phone pictures, but in a way, it’s kind of great, because that means we’ve been having adventures and getting out of the house. It’s never easy with four little people, but it is worth making the effort to go out of our comfort zone a little.

ONE. Michael got to take the girls camping last weekend! There was a church campout activity, and he thought that Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella might finally be at ages where they’d actually enjoy sleeping in a tent outdoors. He was right! They absolutely loved all of this: playing in the woods, having a “girls only” party in the back of a pick-up truck, and snuggling up with Daddy all night. They even giggled about how “the potty was just a big hole!” (it was an outhouse), and didn’t have a single complaint when they came home and told me all about it. Of course, who could complain when you get to eat s’mores for dessert and breakfast?

Eve and I stayed home (I’m not brave enough to attempt camping with a baby), so I was left with a bunch of free time. I used a lot of it to straighten up downstairs, organize Kaya and Kaelyn’s room, and shampoo the living room carpet. There’s nothing like a clean floor!

TWO. We got to go to the Radford Planetarium’s special exhibit in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. They had a special show, along with some other exhibits (one of which included ice cream made with liquid nitrogen)! Eve didn’t make it through the entire show, but I’m still glad we were able to take the other girls and have some time as a family.They also had a small “Museum of the Earth Sciences” there, where we saw some amazing fossils and geodes. They had this T-Rex skull, which is the most complete fossil of its kind in existence. So cool! All the girls were afraid of it, but Kaya stood next to it long enough for a photo.THREE. We got to go to the pool this week with Bianca and her kids! She gifted Eve this baby floatie, which was amazing, because it was the first time in 6 years that I haven’t had to carry a baby in my arms the entire time we were swimming! Eve loved it for a while and then decided she wanted to be held.Nella was pretty cranky, so she tried Noah’s shark floatie out for a bit. Kaelyn was pulling her all around the pool, so I think she enjoyed the ride.Of course, Eve doesn’t really need to go to the pool, because she’s just as happy to climb into her sister’s tiny toy pool. She gets soaked in the tiniest amount of water!FOUR. We had an extra-fun morning yesterday when Daddy joined us at the playground on his lunch break! Playing with him is everyone’s favorite thing. Eve is all about trying to walk (while holding on to things) everywhere she can. She wore her little pink shoes!Their joy is my joy. Seriously, that little paci grin! I love her so much. She was very ready for a nap after this.FIVE. We’ve had a lot of butterflies visit our deck lately. We all love watching them and appreciating the beauty of nature so nearby.This butterfly and another just like it spent a couple of days on our deck, except that the second one had large parts of its wings missing. Kaya has such a tender heart, and she was so worried about that butterfly. When the injured one flew away, she wanted to be sure its “sister” butterfly followed after it.HAPPY SATURDAY!

five favorites (05/06)

It’s been almost two weeks since I logged on here, and I can’t believe how time is just flying by. We have had a whole lot going on around here (Conference weekend, Easter, two races I’ve run, Michael traveling), and I’m really hoping I can catch up on all of that soon, but for now, here’s a little bit of our lives lately!

ONE. Kaya and Kaelyn have been doing swim lessons this spring and are absolutely loving it. Kaya just completed her second session (and moved up to level 2), and Kaelyn finished her very first session and is doing awesome. They look forward to this all week!

TWO. We got a visit from Brittany and her THREE kids a couple Fridays ago! This was our first time meeting baby Henry, and he sure was sweet. Look at all these kids between the two of us now! We were also laughing about how Henry is vastly outnumbered. Alice and Nella hit it off almost right away and played together all day. Kaya, Kaelyn, and Caroline eventually warmed up and ended up building forts to play in. The only thing that could have made it more fun would have been having the rest of our original playdate group here, too! Blurry, but I still like this one, so here it is. I’m grateful for lifetime friends!

THREE. We had our very first visit to the nature center with Bianca and her kids! This is the kind of picture you get when it’s just too sunny: They were obsessed with the sandboxes and played in them almost the entire time.This topographic sandbox was awesome! I love hands-on things like this.Kaya loved this turtle named “Blueberry”.

FOUR. Would this even be a post without Kangaroo Kids in it? The girls enjoyed some hula-hoop fun!“Look, it’s Saturn!”I am kind of obsessed with putting Eve in every ball pit and taking her picture. Drumming in a pool of rainbow kickballs!Eve is really getting into all of it and having so much fun every time we go.

FIVE. We need a little more Nella in this post… so here she is! She is really into coloring and drawing scribble pictures lately. My office always looks like an explosion of art supplies… but I’m grateful the girls love creating and using their imaginations.Nothing beats this smile.

Happy Monday!

five on friday! (01/25)

Happy Friday!!! The day is almost over, but I’m glad to sneak in one of these posts before it ends! These simple little things are some of my favorites to look back on.

ONE. Evie had her first “snow” last week! I say “snow”, because it really ended up being more ice than anything else. Kaya and Kaelyn were so disappointed that it wasn’t right for playing in, but we still bundled Eve up just long enough to take a picture and head back in. She had no idea what was going on, but I still managed to get a smile!The first real snow of the season happened while Michael, Eve, and I were in Spain, so we missed that one.That’s a tired baby who really didn’t care that the outside world had turned into an icicle. (But oh, those cheeks of hers!)

TWO. I finally bought the girls some new dry erase markers, after a very long time without any (a certain 2-year-old someone was big enough to take the caps off the old markers, but still too little to put them back on, so they all dried out)! They have loved drawing on the whiteboard nonstop. I always love seeing what they make.

Kaya is still the queen of rainbows!She is also still obsessed with dinosaurs……and she is very ready for my birthday, which is still a few weeks away. I love how excited she gets for all celebrations.Kaelyn made some rainbow hearts……a dinosaur (Stegosaurus?)……a cute little turtle……and, a “statue” as named by her. The abstractness of this one reminds me of some of Picasso’s later versions of Las Meninas… seriously!

THREE. Over the past few months, the trees in our backyard have suddenly become the perfect hangout spot for cardinals. We’ve spotted up to six out there together, and amidst all this dreary brown and gray of winter, I’m glad to see those bright red birds out my window. They’re my mom’s favorites, too, so I always think of her. They are welcome to stop by anytime they please! The girls love watching them. FOUR. When everyone suddenly wants to squish together for a photo, I don’t miss the opportunity for anything! I love these girls so much, and I’m grateful for these rare, random moments when they’ll let me photograph them all together for a few minutes. I still can’t believe these girls are mine sometimes. Also, we’ve had several cuddly pajama days lately, especially with the recent frigid weather! I just love cute kids in jammies.FIVE. Because we like to keep things silly around here… huge play glasses on little kid faces crack me up! HAPPY FRIDAY!

blueberry hill (2018)

One of our very favorite summertime traditions is picking blueberries, so while we waited for little Evie to make her appearance, we passed one evening out at our local berry farm. I love supporting a local business and spending some time with my family out there as the sun sets.Kaya was so good at picking the very bluest berries on this trip. She and Kaelyn each had their own baskets to fill up as much as they could, and then we combined them all to make one gallon at the end.Kaelyn is our biggest blueberry lover. She talks about going picking all year long, and now that we have berries in the freezer, she’s excited to make muffins and jam.Daddy taught Nella how to carefully get the berries off the bush…She picked a lot of green ones, but she had fun wandering through the rows and grabbing what she could.Grandma Gina lead everyone to the biggest berries…When Kaya wasn’t picking, she was taking plenty of pictures and videos of our excursion. It’s so funny to watch her because I feel like I’m seeing a mini version of myself most of the time.I had to jump in one picture with all my girls (10 days before Eve was born)!Bump, blueberries, baby girls. So many of my favorite things.Nella eventually resorted to picking these little flowers and bringing them to me, one in each of her little clenched fists. Her sweetness is immeasurable. We ended up with a very full gallon, and the farm owner let each of the girls pick out a special surprise- a free book- for successfully filling the bottoms of their baskets. We had some very happy kids.Until next year, blueberries!

five favorites (06/02)

Happy Saturday! I finally pulled all my recent photos together for a five favorites post. It’s been a busy couple of weeks (partly because everyone in the house caught my cold), but we’ve had a lot of fun moments, too.

ONE. We’ve had a lot of visitors lately… of the insect variety! Kaya called me outside to “come see something!” one afternoon, and I was surprised and excited to see this beautiful butterfly on our deck. After a little research, we discovered this is a male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. Aren’t his stripes cool?
We caught him so we could observe him up close for a bit. Kaya named him “Cutie”, and she was probably the happiest girl in the world. She just loves all creatures.I love that they love nature so much! We released him and watched him fly into the trees behind our house. The girls keep telling me they want to go on a walk to see if they can find him again.We also found a little caterpillar! I couldn’t figure out what kind this one was, but Kaya named it “Caterpillary” (after the very first caterpillar she had) and took care of it for a day.A few days later, another butterfly visited our deck! This one appeared to be a Red Spotted Purple butterfly.TWO. We’ve enjoyed the time we’ve had outdoors, especially with all the recent thunderstorms. We stopped to admire some beautiful purple flowers on our walk……played with pinwheels in the wind!…colored with donut-shaped chalk……and tried to eat the chalk, too.

THREE. Drawing on the whiteboard will never get old! I love when the girls make pictures “for me” and only let me look once they are completely finished. Kaelyn drew herself and me, “because we are buddies!”Kaya made our whole family! That’s Michael holding the new baby!FOUR. Kaya and Kaelyn got to go on a little date with Daddy to make these cars at the Home Depot kids’ workshop! It’s been awhile since they’ve done one of these activities, and they loved it.Daddy said Kaelyn was a “hammering machine”…In action!When they came home, they painted their cars. They’ve been racing them all around and having a good time!FIVE. I know I’ve posted pictures of Nella in this Dalmatian puppy costume before… but she wears it semi-regularly, and somehow it seems to magnify her adorableness. I love her happy smile so much!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 (02/10)

It’s so late, but I just had to get my Five in for the week!

ONE. Probably the most unusual part of our week was finding an injured deer in our backyard one morning. I saw her when I came back from my run, and we watched her out the window for a bit (of course, the girls instantly fell in love). When she just kept lying there, I started to figure that something had to be wrong, so I walked out to get a closer look. When I came within 6 feet of her and she didn’t budge, I could see that her whole bottom was bleeding and raw.

Logically, I know there’s an overpopulation of deer in Virginia, but I just couldn’t help myself- I called Michael, sobbing, begging him to figure out who could save this deer. As it turns out, the local wildlife rehabilitator can only take fawns who are young enough to have spots, so although this one appeared to be quite young, she didn’t qualify. They actually sent the police deputy out to see if she should just be put down, but right before he arrived, she surprised us all and actually stood and walked a few steps.

I don’t know how far she got, but at this point, I just hope she didn’t have to suffer. Kaya and Kaelyn were heartbroken when they knew the deer was so hurt.

TWO. Kangaroo Kids started back up for the first time in the new year! I surprised the girls by not telling them where we were going, and hearing their squeals upon our arrival was the best.

Nella was all over the place this time! Climbing, chasing balls, and wanting to do everything her sisters did. When we started going to this one year ago, she would nap in her car seat the entire time, and last fall, I just carried her around for most of it. I guess she’s a real big kid now! They ran around so much that all of them passed out for long naps when we got home. The house was as silent as it’s been in a long time!

THREE. I’m still trying my best to get us outdoors as much as I can, but the weather hasn’t been helping. We actually had church canceled last Sunday due to snow that blew in just a few hours beforehand! We did get out for a couple of short walks after the ice melted, though!

And when you don’t nap during nap time, you might fall asleep in the stroller! Those are some very sleepy eyes. Kaya found this block of ice, named it “Toothless” (like the dragon), and carried it for almost half a mile home. She even had to check on Toothless several times that evening before she went to bed. This is such a fun, imaginative age.FOUR. Sometimes, you just need a chocolate chip cookie, quick! (Anyone else? Or is that just me?) Anyway, I tried this microwave chocolate chip mug cookie, and it was amazing. I actually cut the sugar in half and left out the salt, and it was just fine. I shared with Kaya and Kaelyn, who were pretty much the happiest girls in the world.FIVE. This sweet little baby girl, with curls on the back of her head and that completely wild ponytail, was just waiting for her Daddy to come home yesterday. She’s getting so smart- anytime she hears the lock on the door click, she immediately looks that direction and asks, “Daaa?” She just knows that it clicks, the door opens, and Daddy comes through! It’s the sweetest thing. Happy weekend!

seeing the solar eclipse (2017)

The solar eclipse fell on the same week as Michael’s available vacation time off of work, and Myrtle Beach was only about an hour away from the totality zone, so of course, we had to go on a family vacation! I’d been throwing around the idea of a family beach trip all summer long, so I was excited that Michael was enthusiastic enough about the eclipse for us to make the drive down there. He ordered our eclipse glasses over a month in advance, and we were ready for the big day. Everyone was pretty pumped!

On the morning of the eclipse, we drove from our beach house to Georgetown, SC, which took about an hour and fifteen minutes due to heavy traffic. The weather was not looking good. There were clouds, intermittent thunderstorms, and pouring rain, but we headed down anyway, hoping it would clear up in time for us to see this natural phenomenon.

We actually went to an LDS church, since we figured the members there might have some kind of event going on and the building might be open. We were right, and it was nice to have access to air conditioning, bathrooms, and somewhere to nurse the baby while we waited for totality. We had packed our lunches, and had a little picnic in the Primary room.The clouds kept moving, and at times, the sun wasn’t visible at all. The rain had stopped, at least, but we were hoping it would be clear at the most important moment!

I have to be honest, I was a little nervous about the whole thing, because I had seen too many “warning posts” online that insinuated that eye injury was inevitable, and how people shouldn’t let their kids watch it at all. We were careful, and talked to the girls about how we never ever stare at the sun on any day. We explained that if they wanted to look at the eclipse, they had to wear their glasses. They actually did really well (and Nella had no idea what was going on, never looked up, and I kept her facing away from the sun, so she was fine).Just minutes before we reached totality, temperatures dropped noticeably. Can you see how odd the lighting is in this photo? It was the weirdest natural light I’ve ever seen, and as a photographer, I’m glad I don’t ever have to deal with these odd shadows when doing a session for someone! We watched through our glasses as the moon moved over the sun, and then, through the lenses, it was completely black. This was the only time it was okay to take them off, and when I did so, I was surprised not to see complete darkness where the sun once was, but a glowing, beautiful orb. It reminded me of a diamond, and there are no pictures online that even come close to portraying how amazing an eclipse actually is. I think I’ll never forget that moment of beauty. We had a full minute and 21 seconds of totality, and it went by so quickly that I’m glad I didn’t waste any of it by attempting to take pictures. I soaked it in with my family, which was what Michael and I both wanted.Michael used this app to time the entire thing, which ended up being great for counting down to it, and for knowing when to put our glasses back on as totality neared its end.

Kaelyn was completely obsessed with the entire experience. We actually rubberbanded her glasses together to keep them on her head, which turned out to be a great idea. She stared and stared in wonder, and I’m glad we were able to give all the girls the chance to see this. Kaya was nervous it was going to get very dark outside, so she was a little hesitant, but it was actually never as dark as we all expected it to be.

We ended the day with some Krispy Kreme “eclipse” donuts!Michael had the best time of all, and he’s so excited about eclipses now that he’s already looking forward to the one in 2024!