campground fun and a visit with great-grandpa

Just before Michael’s birthday, we were able to drive up to Waynesboro for a short day trip. We hung out at the campground my in-laws were staying at, and we also had the chance to visit Grandpa Teerlink! We’ve been saying “yes” to more trips and opportunities, and it’s made for a lot of great family memories. I hope we can keep taking little trips like these.

The first thing the girls did was feed the local ducks. The shop on site had special duck food and everything, which Grandma Gina surprised them with. The girls were just obsessed with these baby ducks. The mama was fearsome and drove away nearly all the other adults so her babies could eat. After watching her, I couldn’t help thinking that the term “mama bear” needs to be replaced with “mama duck”!

I know Grandma’s eyes are closed in this one, but Grandpa’s photo-bomb was too good to leave out!There was some pink-sunglasses wearing… (and Grandpa cuddles!)Kaelyn’s smile just kills me. She’s so happy.There was a little dog park there, so Scout was able to run around and meet other dogs! She did really well with socializing, and I think we wore her out.There was the coolest playground there in the shape of a ship! The girls loved this so much and probably could have played on it all day had we done no other activities.There was even a pole to slide down into the lower level! So cool.Grandpa gets credit for the next two photos. I am basically a giant kid and love playing on playgrounds, too.Seriously, she’s too cute.Afterward, we got everyone ready and walked to the pool on site. Nella loves riding in this floatie more than Eve does, and frequently asks to go in it. The time seemed to go by so fast, and before we knew it, we were out of the pool and headed back to change again.The girls fed the ducks some more when we got back (ignore all our pool towels and floaties behind them…)Evie loved watching.To end the visit, Michael had a little birthday celebration! There was ice cream, but I think he was pretending to blow out invisible candles here?Nella the helper.As Kaya said, “That’s a lot of M&Ms!”He also got new shoes.We packed up the van (with four kids, it seems like we need so much stuff just for a day trip), and headed over to Great-Grandpa Teerlink’s house.
We enjoyed some Wendy’s, and I had the privilege of listening to him tell sweet stories about his wife and their lives together when they were younger. I really cherish those memories and insights. I really feel lucky to be loved by this family and to be able to glean wisdom from Michael’s grandparents.We had to take a few four-generation pictures. Kaya was super tired by this point and not really into it, but we tried.Yup. Kaya was done.Dad, on the other hand, never tires of leaving pictures like these on my camera! I kind of love it.We love you, Grandpa T!

a visit with lelia and bryce!

Lelia and Bryce came up for a visit one weekend this summer, and it was so special to have them here! It’s been awhile since we just got to “hang out” without having another event going on, like a birthday, holiday, or race, so this was a little extra fun!Don’t worry, we’re still just as crazy as we ever were (now we just have little people to be crazy with us)!

We had a thunderstorm on the afternoon they arrived, which canceled our plans for walking to the playground, but that just gave us some time to make brownies! It was so fun and special to see the girls enjoy some real playtime with Bryce. There’s no friend in the world like a cousin!Seriously. I’m melting into a puddle looking at these.We did get to go swimming the next day! These kids are little fishies.I just wish summer could go on forever.We came back home when the youngest kids were getting tired. The girls enjoyed some hammock time and puzzles with Auntie Lelia!When Michael got home from work, we packed up a picnic dinner (taco salad) and headed to this amazing playground we’d never been to before (near the pool), where there were picnic shelters and everything. Eating outside in summer is definitely one of my favorite things.After eating, everyone got to play on the playground! Kaya and Kaelyn loved these ropes!Daddy climbed right up there with them, helping and encouraging them the whole way.This little spinning seat… whew. This is maximum dizziness right here!This ring also spins. I went on it with all the kids and just kept going and going and going around. It’s fun to just be a giant kid sometimes!Let’s not forget the puppies! Fallon got to come along, too. This was Scout’s first time having a doggy guest, and they both did really well. Fallon wanted to wrestle but Scout kept avoiding it. Kaelyn kept saying that Fallon is Scout’s best friend, haha.We had such a great weekend. I love all these silly people (Nella started picking her nose, so of course, everyone had to pretend to do the same…)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 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!!!

a surprise visit

As we were finishing up cooking and baking on Mother’s Day, there was a mysterious knock at the door… and when we opened it, Kaya’s favorite stuffed bear from Grandma Gina’s house, Blue Bonnet, was sitting there on the landing. Then Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip appeared!!! We had no idea there were coming, so it was a wonderful surprise for all of us!

Grandpa was right in time for cake!(And silly faces!)No cake for Evie until her birthday, but Grandma Gina had her laughing!Michael ended up taking the next day (Monday) off, so it really all felt like one big special occasion. I was also extra grateful to have this family day, since Michael spent the rest of the week on a business trip in Nebraska.

We all decided to go bowling! (Nella in motion!)This is really becoming one of our favorite things!
There’s an arcade in the bowling alley, and the girls were so excited when Grandma and Grandpa said they could play some games! Nella was content with just sitting on the rides without actually turning them on.This car was her favorite.
Kaya and Kaelyn earned enough tickets for candy necklaces and bracelets! We came home to let Eve nap, and the rest of us worked outside for a bit. Kaya and Kaelyn climbed trees, and Nella made chalk paint with me. Michael took Scout to the vet that evening, and the rest of us took a walk! We enjoyed some time on the playground. Kaya was flying so high! Grandpa cuddles!I can’t believe it, but Nella is big enough for the regular swing now! She loves it.I’m so grateful for how much my girls’ grandparents love them. There’s nothing like it.They left to go home on Tuesday morning. We were sad to see them leave, but I’m already counting down the days until they come back!

outdoor fun

Since the end of March, the weather has been nice enough to consistently spend time playing outdoors! Fresh air, warm sun, and green grass bring me so much happiness, and seeing my kids enjoy being outside makes it even sweeter. I love how you can see the progression of the foliage and grass growing throughout these pictures, too!

The girls have had some fun outside in their jammies on cooler days!

Nella is obsessed with these “Ho Ho Ho” jammies and would wear them all day, every day if she had the chance (with her boots, of course)!

Kaya is especially interested in climbing trees this spring!

Kaelyn has tried climbing, too, but isn’t as experienced at getting down yet.

Everyone loves hanging out in the hammock. Nella can lie down on her back and be completely hidden from view because she’s still so little!

Two of Nellie’s favorite things: Daddy and snacks!

We’ve had many days of water-table fun! Usually the girls pretend to bake in it.

Dollar Tree froggies for the win!

Now that Evie can stand and pull herself up, she very much loves the water table, too!

These two are completely soaked every time.

We’ve had some fun with bubbles……and we’ve spent time on walks and at the playground! Nella loved “driving” on this day!Sliding together!

Kaya tried to give Kaelyn a ride home on her back, which only lasted for a couple of minutes, but I was impressed by her strength.

We’ve made homemade sidewalk paint a couple of times now (using this recipe)!

Nella might be the most excited about it! (She’s even wearing some on her face!)Daddy has mowed the grass a LOT…And I have to say, this paint really sticks! It’s rained a few times and it hasn’t completely washed away! I think if we really want to get it off the driveway, I need to use the hose.

Kaya, Kaelyn, and Eve (Nella didn’t want to do her hand)!

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

five on friday (10/05)

It’s been far too long since my last post, and it feels so good to be on here and getting a little creative energy out. Life has been full to the brim these past couple of months, and obviously, my kids come first, but I’ve realized just how much I need a little time for myself. Photography and this little bit of writing really invigorates me. It seems like I have a million thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head, and never enough time to write all of them!

I have a lot to share, but instead of trying to catch up on all of it, I’m just going to keep it short and simple for now.

ONE. We had a visit from my Dad a couple weeks ago! It’s been two years since he’s come to our house, so it was fun to have him here and show him some of the home improvement projects we’ve done. As soon as he pulled up in his Jeep, the girls ran to him with giant smiles and hugs.We were totally twinning in our American flag shirts… completely unplanned! Kaya and Kaelyn affectionately call him “Santa” because of his beard. About a week before Grandpa arrived, Kaelyn randomly started saying, “Santa’s coming!”. I was confused until I realized that she was actually talking about my Dad!He played CandyLand and Trouble with them, and even read them a story. They always love all the extra attention from grandparents. Nella has been a little wary of everyone recently, so she mostly avoided social interaction with Grandpa.And now Evie has met all her grandparents!

TWO. Nella has been such a loving and kind big sister to Eve, but she’s had a slightly difficult time adjusting to our new normal. She’s been struggling to fall asleep at night, and she wakes up in the wee hours of the morning screaming. We’re also just managing her strong 2-year-old tendencies.I’ve been trying to give her some intentional attention each day, whether it’s been snuggling or being silly or baking muffins together. I remember I started baking with Kaya around her age, and although it makes the biggest mess, it’s such a fun memory to have.She might not be the youngest of the family anymore, but her sisters play “baby” with her all the time lately.They tuck her into a box, pretending that it’s her bed, with her Beagle and all. She thinks it’s so much fun just to sit in there and get all the attention.THREE. I’ve been making an effort to get us outside in the mornings before we start our schoolwork. I used to be so diligent about taking the girls outside everyday, but then pregnancy and a newborn kind of threw us off for a bit. It’s refreshing to have that outdoor time with my babies, and it’s good for them to get some energy out before we sit down to learn.

Kaelyn picked me a dandelion.
Nella peeks through these little windows and says “Hewwo!”Evie just gets a little stroller nap while we play!FOUR. Minnie Mouse lives at my house now. Apparently, she can drive…She’s also a pretty good babysitter! 😉FIVE. This baby! Oh, this beautiful baby girl. Part of the reason I’m so behind on everything is because I just keep snuggling her and soaking her in as much as I possibly can. It’s cliché, but it’s true- we blink and our babies seem to grow up in the instant we weren’t looking. Before I know it, she’ll be another year older, another foot taller… So I’m just savoring every moment with her as she is right now. She’s such a perfect angel and has the sweetest smile. It’s so easy to get her to grin that I probably have hundreds of photos of her just looking at the camera and beaming. Who could resist so many photos of this darling face?And what is it about babies in blue jeans? Melt my heart.
Happy Friday!

five favorites (09/18)

I always intend to get these posts done on Friday, but with how jam-packed life has been ever since we had Eve, it seems like it takes me a few extra days to actually finish them. Oops! I guess it doesn’t really matter what day I get them done, because regardless, I know that I’ll love looking back on these in a few years.

ONE. We’ve been trying to get outside when the weather has been nice enough, and we definitely snuck in some playground time before the tail end of Hurricane Florence’s rain came here. Nella has been insisting on only riding the big kid swing, and she also went down the slide all on her own for the very first time!We love it when Daddy meets us there on the way home from work!
TWO. I had a doctor appointment this week, and fortunately, Daddy was able to take the girls so that I could go alone. They went on a little walk and had the best time seeing some farm animals! Kaya and Kaelyn named this horse “Beautiful”! THREE. A few weeks ago, Michael really hurt his ankle playing volleyball. We thought it was just sprained, but after about ten days of him walking around in an ACE bandage and not seeing any improvement, he ended up getting an x-ray at the local urgent care clinic. The radiologist told him it was an avulsion fracture, and he was put in a boot!He wore the boot for about a week before he was able to get an appointment with an orthopedist, who told him that he and his colleague had meticulously looked over his x-ray and had no idea what the radiologist had seen. It wasn’t broken after all! Crazy. Michael took a little while to adjust back to the biomechanics of non-boot life, but he’s on the mend now.

Even with a messed up ankle, he’s still been doing house projects. He got the stairwell painted, which is something I’ve been eager to get done for forever!FOUR. On Wednesday, my Dad-in-law sent me a picture of him and Mom having breakfast at Cracker Barrel… so I asked them where they were, and they told me they were in the next town over! They were driving home from their trip out west and completely surprised us by spending the morning here. These little girls were so happy (and of course requested to watch Shaun the Sheep with Grandpa… it’s kind of their thing now)!Grandma got some Evie snuggles!FIVE. We got to go to a Hokie volleyball game last week! I had never been to one, and it was a first for the girls, too. It was really fun to be back on campus and feel the sense of school pride and community that any of my fellow Hokies know! I just had to get a picture of the girls with the largest Hokie Bird statue I know of!Happy Tuesday!

five on friday (08/17)

Happy Friiiiiiday!!! The weeks are flying on by, and I feel like I can’t keep up, but I at least put together a Five on Friday post!

ONE. On Saturday, we went to a Turkish barbecue hosted by one of Michael’s co-workers, Russ. It was the perfect evening to be outside, and I was really looking forward to the food, since Mediterranean cuisine is my favorite. It was also really fun to show off our brand new little princess!It was nice to get out and do something- I’ve been a total homebody since Eve was born.
Kaelyn wants to hold her sister any chance she can. This is true happiness for her!
It’s not a real party unless your face is covered in chocolate at some point during the evening, right? More true happiness!

TWO. We’ve been doing a whole lot of walking around here, mostly because I’m not currently running. Each week, I’ve tried to make one of those walks a “family walk” that includes everyone (which is sometimes more challenging that it might seem). Both Kaya and Kaelyn wanted to hold my hand one night while Michael pushed the stroller, and it was just so sweet.We’ve enjoyed some stops at the playground, too!Who is this big kid trying to climb the ladder?And this big kid on a grown-up swing?

THREE. Evie wore this special little dress to church on Sunday. It brings back so many memories for me because this was the dress Kaya wore on her first day of church, and all the other girls have worn it, too. It’s still just as adorable as it was on day one!Love these two so so much.

FOUR. We’ve had some really great kid-created art happening around here! They wanted to paint one morning, and I loved seeing what they came up with. (Nella is too little to use paint just yet, but she still wanted to sit for the picture!)

FIVE. I had to put some sister pictures in here because they are too sweet! The three big girls were sitting in the chair together, so I just had to put the baby in there too and take the opportunity for a photo. This is Nella’s most-commonly-made face these days. We’ll talk to her and she’ll pretend she isn’t looking at us.What is it about seeing your baby kiss your baby? Melt my heart.Eve was also hugged by a tiger this week!Tiger kisses!Happy weekend! These will be our final days off before we officially start homeschool on Monday (although that hasn’t stopped the girls from working on some of their books already)!

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!