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 (07/02)

Whew! Although I thought maybe we’d have a busy week because we’d have a baby… The littlest lady is still comfy-cozy in there, so we’ve been filling up our time with a lot of other fun activities. Here are my favorites from this past week and weekend!

ONE. We’ve had a few visitors this week! The girls were really looking forward to having both grandmas here, and they were counting down the days until their arrival. Grandma Debbie was able to spend the weekend with us for Kaelyn’s birthday party, and Grandma Gina has been here all week, waiting for baby!My mom cooked up a huge batch of homemade chicken nuggets for us to enjoy (instead of our usual fallbacks of sandwiches and cereal) because I haven’t been able to cook for most of this pregnancy, so we enjoyed those for a few days. She also spent a lot of time coloring with the girls and helped clean a bit.My Mom-in-law and I have cleaned/nested just about everywhere else in the house this week (so now it’s time for the baby to come, right?)! It’s been so nice not to be alone during the day, too. Not carrying Nella all around is also a big plus!Grandpa Skip came up just for this past weekend! Kaya and Kaelyn were so excited to see him. They snuggled a lot and watched some “Shaun the Sheep” together, which is something they look forward to doing every time they see Grandpa!Nella took a while to warm up to him this time, so I don’t have any snuggly pictures of them together, but I do have one of him wearing her hat… Who couldn’t love this goofy guy?TWO. Kaya had her first-ever piano lesson from Grandma! She wrote out all the notes to “Once There Was a Snowman” so Kaya could practice something fun that she recognizes. She’s not reading music yet, but I am impressed with how quickly she’s memorizing songs and picking up on everything.She practiced hard all week long so she could surprise Grandpa Skip when he arrived!
Of course, the little sisters like to have a turn, too.THREE. We took Kaelyn out for her special birthday dinner this week (not-so-coincidentally on the same day that Red Robin was handing out free milkshakes)! She was the happiest girl in the world when the waiters sang to her and she got her birthday sundae at the end. This is a genuine-Kaelyn smile!We might be the silliest people in Red Robin any time we go…Kaya hopped from one side of the table to the other to be in both pictures. Yay!FOUR. Kaya’s been saving her allowance from helping out around the house, and we told her that once she paid tithing at church, she could spend some of it on something she wanted. It took her a while to be willing to pay her tithing, but she finally made her own decision to do it last weekend.

She’s been asking for her own camera for a really long time, so I found a deal on this little Canon Powershot for her for $29. It’s definitely a decent starter camera! She’s been bringing it just about everywhere, making videos, and trying to take the sharpest photos she can. It’s been really cool to see life from her point of view, and it’s also fun to have another little photographer around.“Let’s take a picture of each other taking a picture!” It was all her idea.FIVE. It’s been hot outside, so Michael picked up a little sprinkler to surprise the girls with on Saturday night. They liked running through it for a few minutes, but ultimately, they really wanted to play with the kiddie pool and the slide.

And yeah, I’m married to a total goofball (but I love it)! They always make the funniest faces once they hit the water!Nella really wanted a turn, so Grandma helped her out. She kept saying “WHOA!” anytime someone splashed!These little girls with big smiles… melting my heart.Simple evenings are my favorites. I never wanted to go inside.

Happy Monday!

getting ready to meet our fourth daughter (& maternity pictures)

We’re nearing the end of pregnancy, when the days seem to slow down, and waiting to meet our baby feels so tangible, yet simultaneously mystic, as we wonder just when she will decide to join our family.

Despite all her kicks and punches, in a way, she still feels like someone who only exists in my dreams, and I don’t know if she’ll feel “real” until I see her in person for the first time.

Back in the fall, we knew we wanted to have another baby, and we were overjoyed when we found out we were expecting. Although it’s been a hard physical journey for me ever since then, enduring almost-constant nausea, I never want it to seem like I’m complaining or ungrateful for the experience of being able to bring a child into our family. This little girl is more than worth that fight, and I feel so much gratitude for her. It definitely hasn’t been easy, and I feel like in my sickest times, I’ve almost forgotten who I “normally” am. I savor the days I’m able to eat, clean the house, and play with my kids.

Several friends and family members have cooked for us, brought meals, watched our older girls, and even just offered to be there to help in any way, all of which has meant so much to me. There were times I was moved to tears just to know someone cares so much about our little family and how we’re doing.

And of course, Michael has been my rock these past nine months. He’s been by my side, encouraging and uplifting me.

It’s unfathomable how our hearts inevitably grow with each new baby we bring into our family. Right now, Nella is my baby, and I have a hard time imagining a new little person who is just as amazing as she is. Still, I know that once we meet her, this new baby girl will instantly have us wrapped around her tiny fingers.

Everything is about to change, and welcoming a new family dynamic can seem a little overwhelming, but I know how much these girls are all going to love having each other as they go through life together.

There’s still some concern about the size of this baby girl, and although in my heart I feel she is okay, we’ll be checking on her via ultrasound this week. I’ve felt anxious anticipating labor and her birth, but in these last couple of weeks, I’m trying to find peace in however her delivery goes, and do all I can to keep her healthy and safe.

I’m cherishing her little kicks and being the only person who truly knows her right now. I love having a little buddy with me at all times, and I know I’m going to miss that once she’s born.We all love you so much, Baby Girl, and we can’t wait to meet you sometime in the next couple of weeks, whenever you’re ready.

five on friday (06/08)

Happy Friday! I’m sneaking this post in at the last minute! We’ve mostly just been resting at home this week, but we still had some exciting, fun things happen!

ONE. Kaya had what feels like a huge milestone this week… she lost her first tooth!!! She started telling us that her tooth was hurting when she took a bite of toast back at the end of May, so we checked, and sure enough, it was loose! It took almost 2 weeks for it to fall out, but she liked wiggling it (and having Michael and I wiggle it) in the meantime. I feel like it was just yesterday that she was teething and having all these baby teeth come in.Once it got very, very loose, Daddy told her about the old “tie a string to it and pull it out” trick… so she asked to do it. We set it up, twice actually, but both times, she ended up changing her mind and not wanting to go through with it. Funny enough, once she decided she wasn’t going to pull it, she moved her head just the right way (with the string still attached to her tooth) that it came right out on its own.There was some crying involved, due to the newness of the experience, but a little ice cream fixed that!She was so excited to get a dollar under her pillow, especially because she’s now saved up enough for her own little camera!Kaelyn was a little upset that she didn’t get a dollar… but we told her that she will when she loses a tooth! She’s so excited to do everything her big sister does.TWO. We started off our week at our neighbor’s dinosaur birthday party! There’s no better kid party than one at a playground, with cupcakes, cookies, and ice cream as refreshments, right?

I took this picture and then couldn’t stop laughing about it, because it’s so real life… Nella’s shoving as many cookies as we’d let her have in her mouth, meanwhile, Michael is cleaning up Kaelyn’s entire cupcake off the floor. Oh, parenthood. (That cupcake on Nella’s plate also met its fate on the ground…)Bigger mess = more fun, right?The party-horn-blowing fun lasted for days afterward… Nella kept saying, “Gaaaaain!” (Again!) when Kaya would do this!THREE. We finally took our family/maternity pictures this week, and I think these might be my favorites of us ever. The lighting and weather were just perfect, and I’m happy to have some updated shots of just Michael and me together, too. I’ve already ordered the prints and cannot wait to get them up on the wall. I’ll be sharing more later, but here’s a sneak peek!FOUR. Keeping on with the unofficial “weekly hammock photo” tradition… nothing makes them happier than snacks and being outside! I love each of their unique grins.Daddy got some Nella snuggles in, too. She’s been extra cuddly with her “Daaaa” lately.FIVE. I just had to end this with her huge grin! Nella loves her baby dolls, and plays with them every day. I can’t wait to see her smile when she holds the new baby so soon!

Linking up herehere, and here today!

five on friday (05/04)

Happy May! I can’t believe we’re already in the fifth month of 2018!

ONE. You know your kids have some great imaginations when they can play with a cardboard box for hours and hours. We ordered some patio furniture, and the box was just the perfect size to create a little house for the girls. They spent so much time decorating it with markers and tape, pushing it around, and pretending to “send Nella off to China!” (where do they get these ideas?)
I love seeing them be creative and come up with their own ways to play.TWO. The sunset light hit the blooming tree in the back yard so perfectly that I just had to take a picture of these pretty white blossoms. Spring is in full force (and therefore so are my seasonal allergies!), but I couldn’t be more excited about the warmth, sunshine, and all of nature seeming renewed. THREE. Right along with great weather comes photoshoots! I’ve been waiting for a warm day to put my little ladies in their matching dresses and get a few updated portraits.Being squished by kisses from both sides… this pretty much sums up how life is for Nella these days. I can’t believe we’ll be adding a fourth set of pigtails to the picture so soon!FOUR. We’ve spent every single afternoon out on the deck this week, and I don’t think this will ever get old. My hammock buddy! I think I might just stay out here until it’s time for the baby to come.FIVE. Even with all the sunshine and playing outside, we’ve still been doing some schoolwork. Kaelyn has really surprised me this week by learning to spell and write her name on her own! She can do it freehand, but this tracing page has been really helpful, too.She’s also turning into such a great little artist (this is her, Mommy, and Daddy, with hearts).Happy weekend!

Linking up herehere, and here today!

thanksgiving with the irwins 2017 (and family photos!)

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.

nella’s first birthday sunset photos

After Nella’s birthday party, the lighting was perfect outside, so we just had to get out there and take a few pictures with her balloons. I wanted to make a separate blog post for these, because there were too many cute ones to narrow it down. So, ta-da! A thousand adorable baby pictures.She was so obsessed with trying to grab the balloons that getting photos without them in her face was a little bit of a challenge.She definitely loves balloons, though! She also tried to eat them… And when she wasn’t eating balloons, she was trying to eat leaves.But she spent the rest of the time looking like a baby doll. Be still my heart. Clapping! We love you so much, Nella Joy!

five on friday (09/29)

ONE. We washed the car for our family night activity this week! You’d think that this isn’t really anything to get excited about, but the girls love putting on their swimsuits, using the hose, and getting all soapy. (Yes, that’s a Paw Patrol temporary tattoo on Kaelyn’s arm. The obsession is still going strong over here!) Michael worked on the exterior, and I vacuumed the interior. Yay teamwork!Of course, there had to be some shenanigans involved! Nella can’t wait to get in on the fun… but for now she just gets to watch!

TWO. I upgraded my wide angle lens when I found a good deal on a Canon-refurbished one last week. I’m so excited about how sharp, fast, and quiet it is. Kaya was happy to help me test it out, so she willingly posed for a few photos. She just did this completely on her own without me coaching her! She’s a photographer’s daughter, that’s for sure. THREE. Hammock time with Daddy is the best time. I love hearing them giggling and goofing off out there together.FOUR. Put your hands (and foot!) in the air if it’s almost your birthday!!! I can’t believe this little lady is turning ONE! Grandma Debbie is in town for the weekend, so we’ll be having a simple, sweet little party.FIVE. And the older she gets, the more she keeps cracking us up! We sure do love this little lady.

Happy weekend!

five on friday (01/06)

Happy first Friday of 2017! It felt good to ease back into our regular routine this week. We’re due for our first snowstorm of the season this weekend, so I’m hoping it either passes over us or that we end up getting a big heap the kids can play in!

Here’s our week in a nutshell:

ONE. We finally decided to rip the built-in tables out of the basement. They were here when we moved in (8 months ago already!), and I never really loved them, but we had thought that if we ended up using the basement as an office, they would have been useful. This week, we settled on turning the current playroom into the office, and then making the basement into a playroom.

The room feels so much more open without those tables! Michael is spackling, priming, and painting that section of the wall, and then we will be officially finished with the basement.
TWO. The end of the holidays means that we’re back into our preschool routine, and we actually accomplished a lot this week. Honestly, life has felt like a bit of a juggling act since Nella was born, and we haven’t been as consistent as I would like (then again, we did continue to do schoolwork all last summer so that I could be flexible when the baby came).

Anyway, I’m feeling like it’s getting easier to balance it all, and I’m very proud of how well Kaya is doing. I recently went over a “kindergarten readiness list”, and out of about 80 items, I can check off all but a few for her. Not bad at all for only 4.25 years old!THREE. I joined in on a photography challenge this year- Click It Up a Notch’s #portraitsofme. It seemed like something new and fun to do (plus, I am notoriously good at not getting in photos, so this might be a good change). Kaya was eager to jump into a picture with me.She took this one herself! She’s already a pro at using my remote.FOUR. Sometimes, everyone wants to do tummy time with the baby! (Kaya and Kaelyn don’t remember that they both absolutely loathed this activity when they were babies…)FIVE. Nella started laughing this past week! As if I wasn’t already completely smitten with this girl, she had to go pull out her newest trick and melt my heart even more. Seriously.

Linking up here, here, and here today!

kaelyn’s 2-year portraits

It seems like I am always a little late getting Kaelyn’s yearly portraits done. Sometimes, I think it’s actually harder to do it when you’re the photographer- it’s too easy to break your own scheduled “appointment” because you’re tired or your kids are cranky.

Then again, it’s such a blessing to be able to wait for absolutely perfect lighting._mg_4878 We love this little girl so much, but honestly, she doesn’t love the camera. It’s hard to get her to look at it, nevermind smile at the same time! We were really lucky this day and ended up with some fantastic grins._mg_4870 _mg_4869 Daddy and Kaya get credit for making her laugh!_mg_4890 Love my little barefoot beauty._mg_4909 CHEESE!_mg_4913 And just because she makes some of the funniest little faces…_mg_4914 We love you, Kaelyn Grace!_mg_4920