five favorites (08/03)

What better way is there to kick off a Monday than with some fun things we’ve been up to lately? I still find so much gratitude when I write these posts, so even if they’re only for myself, they are definitely worth the time.

ONE. We introduced the girls to tie dye! They have been looking forward to it all summer long, and I was just waiting for shirts to go on sale so we could use the kit I already had. Everyone chose a different design, and we helped put the dye on. Daddy did his shirt last, so there wasn’t much dye left. We let the girls go crazy with the remaining dye and make his shirt however they wanted. It turned out pretty cool!

Eve was not into taking this picture at all. It kind of cracks me up. Real life, you guys. Always my little monkey.We all matched for our family walk. These little moments are so precious. TWO. Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella decided that they wanted to make playdough one afternoon. All I did was print the recipe, and they executed it all on their own! It’s amazing to see how much they have grown to be able to do.
This kept them busy for hours… and kept me sweeping up playdough for days. Haha.Sensory play is the best!
THREE. After the girls finished their virtual race series a couple months ago, we let them choose if they wanted the commemorative medal or a race t-shirt. They all chose medals, but it took quite a while to get them in the mail. They finally came at the end of last week, and it was like a mini-Christmas. I loved their giant smiles as they ran around wearing them. They definitely earned these! This is one of the most genuine Nella smiles I’ve captured.FOUR. Our church Primary put on a “drive-through ice cream” activity last week. It was so simple, but it meant so much to the girls to get out and do something special. The pandemic has still changed things for them, and they miss going out as a family. I was okay with this since it was outdoors and low-attendance. We are definitely out of practice with leaving the house, though- we completely forgot the diaper bag and wipes to clean everyone up afterward. Thankfully, we were able to borrow some (especially since Eve was completely covered in popsicle juice just moments after I took this picture)!FIVE. Family movie nights are the best. I think the girls’ favorite part is the popcorn, but I love snuggling up with freshly-bathed babies in soft pajamas. There’s nothing better.
They’ve recently discovered the Sophia the First TV series, so we borrowed the movie from the library to get the whole backstory. They loved it.
HAPPY MONDAY!

five on friday (05/01)

It’s still Friday, and I felt like putting a post together for the first time in a while! What better way to start May?

We’ve been making the most of being at home, and we’ve come up with some simple, fun things to do as a family. The little things are always the most memorable, anyway.

ONE. We’ve had some beautiful weather intermittently over the past month or so. It felt more like summer at the end of March than it does now, and somehow, we even had small amounts of snow between then and now. Anyway, we made the most of the warmest days and had a couple of “picnic” lunches on the deck. The girls thought it was the most fun thing ever to move their little table outside.CHEESE! We also enjoyed the first strawberries of the season, which always seem to taste the sweetest.

TWO. Kaya, Kaelyn, Nella and I have been participating in our local running store’s virtual race series. They created the races especially for this time of social distancing, and it’s definitely been a bright spot in our weeks. The girls love to go running with me, and I can tell how accomplished they feel when they’ve finished.Nella busted her lip on the pavement during the first run when we were almost home. She was a champ and still smiled for a picture afterward.I love that Michael snuck this one of us all heading out to run together. That little hand hold!

Going for a run means you get freezie pops afterward!THREE. We had a dinosaur come visit our yard… He went all around the neighborhood being silly, and all three of the older girls loved it so much.Eve was slightly wary, and the T-rex might have almost eaten her! (Don’t worry, it was just Daddy in the suit!)FOUR. Lately, Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella have been obsessed with the Polly Pockets I had as a little girl. They ask to play with them just about every day while Eve is napping, and seeing them enjoy these play sets is something so special to me. These were some of my very favorite toys, and I definitely spent hours and hours playing with them when I was young, too. I’m grateful my parents saved them and that they stayed in such great condition. FIVE. This little troublemaker gets into everything in a split second. She’s definitely my wildest at this age. She came downstairs one day with her face all colored pink with lipstick, and it was just too funny and adorable. Good thing she’s so cute! It’s impossible to stay grumpy at this face.Happy Friday!!!

huckleberry jam 2019

Not quite ready to give up on racing after the Highlander Half Marathon, I signed up for an 8-miler just two weeks later.

I wanted to run this just for fun, but I was still experiencing some nervousness, which did not abate upon seeing some very serious-looking runners at the start line. It also started pouring just before the gun went off, so Michael and the girls waved goodbye to me from the car.

We were all on a paved trail, and so there wasn’t much room to maneuver around people in the beginning, which unfortunately meant that I went out way too fast and ended up maxing out my heart rate in the first two miles. Eight miles is a strange middle ground between a 10k and a half marathon, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to approach it. Trying to run it the same way I run the Monument Avenue 10k turned out not to be such a good method!

I have to be honest, it felt hard. I was tired through the whole thing, but I kept pushing as hard as I could.

The trail was scenic, and it was my first time doing the whole Huckleberry trail. I’d definitely say it was challenging with some hills. The rain let up for a little, and then came pouring down again around mile 5.7. I finished with an average pace of 8:44, so not too bad.

I ended up being 4th in my age group, 13th woman, and 50th overall, which was honestly better than I was expecting! Everyone got these engraved railroad ties as medals, in honor of the original railroad that used to run along the same trail starting in the early 1900s!

Michael is the real MVP. He is always there at the finish line, rain or shine, with an armful of babies. He’s the best!After this one, I was ready for a break from races for awhile. Here’s to running without a training schedule!

highlander half marathon 2019

I was still feeling so pumped after my half marathon in February that I just had to do another one, so two days later, I signed up for the Highlander Half Marathon at the end of April. I felt like maybe I was a little crazy to do it again so soon, but I was excited! I also wanted to see if I could break two hours again!

I’m so glad I went for it, because this race was AMAZING!!! It was definitely one of my all-time favorites. I was the best-prepared I’ve ever been for a half, since I was already used to the distance and just had to maintain it leading up to race day. Thirteen miles felt like an old familiar friend at this point.

The night before the race, I had my typical “pre-race jitters” and tried to get as much sleep as I could. Eve was up around 2:30 am and then at 5 am, so after I fed her at 5, I just got up and started the day. It’s a good thing, because we actually were able to leave right at 6:30 am to head to the Radford University Dedmon Center, where packet pickup was being held. The girls were sleepy, but they were pretty good sports about the whole thing. They snuggled up with their blankets and rested in the car.

We arrived with plenty of time to spare. I got my packet, tried to nurse Eve, although she wasn’t interested, especially with all her sisters goofing off around her, and then got my bib pinned on and ready to go to the start. The girls got dressed, and waited to cheer me on. They are just the sweetest, and I love how they are so proud of me.

It was a little chilly and just the slightest bit windy, enough so that I was shivering waiting to start. I contemplated taking my jacket, but I knew I’d warm up, and it’d just be annoying to carry it for so long. The President of the University fired the start gun at 8 am, and we were off!
I was making great paces, and I was definitely close to the beginning of the pack of runners for most of the race, which really surprised me. I was trying to stay around 8:45 min/mile or so, but I was coming closer to 8 minute miles for a good part of it. I kept passing the same few girls, and then they’d pass me, and repeat.

I felt like I found my groove between miles 3 and 4, and really fell into a great rhythm. This was my first point-to-point race, so I was a little nervous about not getting the adrenaline rush that I usually do when I turn around at the halfway point and know what to expect on the way back. I still had the rush around mile 7 or so, which was also when I realized I might be able to beat my last half marathon time. I kept doing my best, but I was getting tired because there were so many hills! Thankfully, there were some nice downhill slopes, too.

Carilion sponsored this race, and while I was running, they put on a helicopter demonstration for those who were waiting for runners. The girls even got to go inside, and they were so excited to tell me all about this later on!

There was also a little playground where they were waiting. I was glad they were having some fun while I was gone.

Once I made it to mile 10, I took comfort in just having a 5k left. We ended up on this trail through the forest at mile 12, which was the first time I couldn’t see anyone in front of me and worried I was lost when the route wasn’t clearly marked. I thought I was going to blow it on the last mile! Thankfully, I didn’t, and I realized that I could come in at 1:55, so I started going as fast as I could. Michael and the girls were there cheering me on as I came up to the finish line. I love hearing them yell for me!

I officially finished the half marathon in 1:55:01, which is a personal record! I was so excited and proud of myself for pushing hard and doing my best. We didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony, but I later found out that I placed first in my age group!

We took some pictures, and I grabbed some post-race food that I shared with the girls, including some yummy mini blueberry muffins.

Nellie actually wanted a picture with me, which is so unusual these days, so I had to take it!Evie was tired! She was a really great sport the whole time, though.

We caught the shuttle bus back to our car, and on the way home, we dropped Michael off so he could catch another bus to the airport. He was leaving for San Francisco just a few hours after the race!

We all took it easy the rest of the day, and enjoyed some glorious naps. Those post-race sleeps are some of the best!And now I might be a little sad it’s over!

monument avenue 10k recap (2019)

My fourth time racing Monument Avenue is in the books! It feels like I just started participating in races, but the years are flying by, and this was my 6th race overall.

The weather leading up to the race was looking dismal. I kept hoping the forecast would clear, but we were scheduled to have thunderstorms that morning. I obviously didn’t want to take my kids out there in a storm. We ended up leaving Nella and Kaelyn with my mom at her house, and only took Kaya, who was running the Kids’ Run, and Eve, in case she needed to nurse. We decided to head to the race and see how the weather was upon arrival.

I’m not so great at navigating Richmond, and we weren’t able to pre-purchase a parking garage pass, so we headed to one garage, but ended up turning around and heading to the garage my mom-in-law had parked in. We were cutting it close on time, and with changing garages, we ended up being late and running to the start of Kaya’s race. If Grandma Gina hadn’t been there, they would have closed the Kids’ Run start line and we would have missed it, but thankfully, they held it open for us.

Despite sprinting to the start, Kaya was still so fast and ran the whole thing at a 10:23 pace! I was so proud of my little girl, running as fast as she could, enjoying the cheers from spectators, and even giving some of them high fives!We got a little drizzled on, but there was no thunder!Her quads were a little sore for a day or so afterward. I know it was worth it for her, though. I love seeing her set a goal and achieve it!Michael deserves so much credit for going to all these races and helping with anything he can. Where’s the Runner Husband medal?I had about 20-25 minutes between Kaya’s race and my wave start time, so I got in line for the bathroom, and planned to meet Lelia before the start. The line moved a lot slower than I had hoped. As we were making our way to the start line, the announcer was calling out wave letters just before mine, and I knew I wasn’t going to make it. It’s easy to jump in a slower wave, but Lelia didn’t know where I was, and we each spent half the race trying to look for each other.

I started in Wave Q instead of N. Can you find me?
I was making good time. Thankfully, it was still only drizzling. It did seem like there were fewer people there, since I had the whole left side of the road open to me for most of the race. I think the potential thunderstorms might have deterred some people from coming at all.I was almost at the halfway turnaround point when Lelia finally spotted me and yelled to me from across the grass median. She finished strong!And this is me trying to wave to the girls while running…DONE!!! My official finish time was 51:34, which is a personal best for me! GIRL POWER!It’s so special to stand with Kaya after the race, and crazy to think that just 7 years ago, I’d go running with her in my belly!I’m still just beyond proud of this beautiful girl.Lelia and Bryce!! His shirt says, “Run like you’re being chased by a baby dinosaur!”Lelia was prepared and brought her previous medals to make the 20-year-anniversary triad. Yay!It felt weird having just two of our kids there. Eve passed out while she was waiting!Grandma Gina is always behind the scenes, holding babies and helping with whatever she can. I’m glad she could come! Lelia made these amazing homemade donuts for us to have afterward! We headed to a park to have a little time together. Mmmmm! Those chocolate ones were heavenly. We went back to my mom’s house, and spent some time with her. Kaya shocked and amazed her while playing hangman.We got to hang out with Buddy dog and get some Grandma cuddles.There was a lot more donut-eating, and I got to go on a walk with Lelia and Scout a little later in the day.On Sunday, before we left, Grandma Debbie surprised the girls with these plush Easter bunnies that used to be hers (given to her by my dad), before I was born! They look like new, and of course the girls loved them. I love that they have something that was special to her.Race weekends full of family time are my favorite.

general conference weekend (april 2019)

Conference weekend already feels like it was forever ago! We were surprised on Friday afternoon when Grandpa Skip and Grandma Gina came up for a visit! The girls were just so excited.

They took us out to Red Robin for dinner, which is a favorite for all of us. This is one place where Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella actually eat their dinner, so it’s a win! They also really look forward to getting a balloon to take home at the end.Eve tried French fries for the first time ever and LOVED them! She was also dancing along with all the N*Sync and Backstreet Boys songs the restaurant was playing.There was also some Sweet Frog involved… these girls are living the life when Grandma and Grandpa are here!I woke up early on Saturday morning to get my final 13-mile training run in before my second half marathon of 2019. My friend Brook came and paced me on her bike. It was so fun to have a buddy along with me (those long runs can get a little monotonous sometimes), and I was really happy with my pace.I came home, Michael cooked me some scrambled eggs, and then everyone except Eve and me headed out to Home Depot for the Kids’ Workshop! They put together these little birdhouses and did an excellent job. This was Nella’s first time doing one of these crafts, and she loved it (of course, she had a lot of help). The girls came home and wanted to paint their birdhouses while listening to General Conference. It was an easy way to keep them quietly busy!

Notice the purple paint next to Nella’s eyebrow!

I love these happy people.

This is what happens when they try to be serious. It just doesn’t seem right!There we go. The perfect amount of silliness:As always, listening to the Conference talks was uplifting and encouraging. One of my favorites (among many) was from Sharon Eubank, who said, “Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: ‘It is not intended that we run faster than we have strength. … But [in spite of] that, I know … many of you run [very,] very fast and that [the] energy and emotional supply sometimes registers close to empty.’ When expectations overwhelm us, we can step back and ask Heavenly Father what to let go of. Part of our life experience is learning what not to do. But even so, sometimes life can be exhausting. Jesus assures us, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'”.

At a time in life when there is always so much to do, I feel the importance of remembering that we don’t have to do it alone. Christ is there to strengthen us, and we can act as His servants to strengthen those around us.

the colonial williamsburg half marathon

Because I apparently like blogging things long after they happen, here’s a recap of the Colonial Williamsburg Half Marathon I did with Lelia back in February! It was such a great race, and I just can’t let it go without being documented.

Lelia and I had talked about running a half marathon together for years, but it just never seemed like the right time. After we spontaneously ran almost 8 miles on New Year’s Eve together, Lelia pensively said, “Hmmm, I wonder…”, and from there we decided we would finally do it. We made a training plan and cheered each other on each week as we checked off the miles. It was so fun to know my sister was a couple hundred miles away completing the same runs.

We also made matching shirts! We found various ideas online and combined a few of them to come up with this! “Sole Sisters!” forever! So many people yelled out to us and commented on our shirts throughout the race, which was really fun.We drove down to Michael’s parents’ house on Thursday night, since that would put us about 30 minutes away from the race location. We had a restful day on Friday, and then got up early on Saturday morning before the 8:30 am race start. I had better sleep than I expected to, since pre-race jitters always seem to get in the way, and Eve did alright and only woke up twice during the night.

We took the ferry over to Williamsburg, and arrived about an hour before start time, so I tried to nurse Eve while waiting for Lelia. Eve didn’t want anything to do with nursing, so I just had to hope she’d be happy while I was gone. Thankfully, she did great the entire time.

We got to the start line and waited to use the bathroom one last time. There were not a lot of porta-potties, and we were worried that we wouldn’t get through the long line before the race started. Another runner standing behind us told us about a random porta-potty far across the field and in a parking lot, so I had a nice warm-up jog over that way.

Michael took this picture as quickly as possible before we got into the start line. Lelia’s cousin Brandon raced, too (only way ahead of us)!

The race wound through Colonial Williamsburg for the first couple of miles, and I was wishing I could have shown my girls all the historical buildings. We ended up on a paved trail that cut through the forest, over a wooden bridge, and ended just next to Busch Gardens, where we turned around at mile 7.4. There were some small hills, but really nothing too challenging.

Lelia and I had dreamed of finishing in under two hours, although I was trying not to get my hopes too high and keep my goal realistic. When we saw the fast paces we were making in the first few miles, we said, “What are we doing?”, but we felt fine, so we just kept going and banked that time.

I knew the miles would fly on by with Lelia by my side, and I was right. We talked for most of it, and I might have also been singing Daniel Tiger’s “Close your eyes, and think of something happy” to keep us going. We kept calculating our pace and figuring that we would be able to make it in under 2 hours, although it was going to be close.

We had been worried about the weather leading up to the race. There was rain in the forecast, and it was supposed to be cold. On race morning, the radar gave me hope that the rain wouldn’t start until after we finished. It was also 49 degrees, which sounded absolutely amazing for February! I decided to wear my shorts and leave my rain jacket at home, thinking it’d be too hot. I’m not exactly sure when it started raining, but it quickly went from a drizzle to pouring down, and we were soaking wet. The temperature dropped 10 degrees, and by the end, I was wishing I had my jacket and gloves.

Lelia and I stuck together until the very end, around mile 12.6. Her hip was bothering her, and at that point, stopping or slowing down would hurt more for me than to just keep pushing forward. I pulled just a little ahead, and finally saw my family, standing out there in the rain, cheering for me as I crossed the line! My fingers were numb, and I couldn’t stop shivering, but I was so proud.Sub-2 sisters!!! We earned this! This was my first postpartum race! I’m amazed how much strength and endurance I gained in the seven months since I had Eve.The race website made these funny little digital certificates. I like that it has all my rankings on there though! Fifth for my age/gender group! Not bad! I just had to put the medal on Eve. It’s tradition for a postpartum comeback!Apparently, medals taste good.I’m so grateful for the ability to do this, and also the opportunity to finally run a half with Lelia! This was the first winter half marathon I had ever done, and it was great for personal growth. On to more races!

five favorites (01/14)

I meant to write this on Friday, but as life goes, I’m finally sharing on a Monday! It’s one of those rare days where we’ve finished school, dinner is already prepared, and the older girls are playing quietly while the little girls nap, so I feel like I can take a few minutes to hop on here and blog!

ONE. A new year means new classes for the girls at church! They are always so excited to move up to the next age group. I didn’t necessarily plan to take “first day” pictures of them, but they remembered that we did this last year and were willing to do it again. Kaya is looking like such a young lady these days.I’m a little sad that Kaelyn isn’t our little Sunbeam anymore (there’s just something extra sweet about that first year in Primary), but she has the same teachers for CTR 4 and loves going to class just as much as ever.Evie still just hangs out with us, and I am more than okay with that. Look at these two cuties!Nella most likely wouldn’t have posed with the chalkboard, but she did put this Santa hat on and smile for me. She moved up to “senior nursery” and I just can’t believe she’s so big.

TWO. Perler beads have taken over our house. I’m pretty sure that whoever lives in this house will forever be finding these little plastic beads. See that tub? There’s 22,000 of them in there!Really, though, Kaya and Kaelyn absolutely love these (admittedly, I do too… so many childhood memories)! They have spent hours and hours this past week creating anything they can imagine.Hello Kitty!(Yes, Kaya was wearing lipstick this day!)Skye from Paw Patrol!I’m starting to get better at ironing these a little more evenly (parchment paper seems to work best)!

THREE. Lelia and I went running on Christmas Eve, and we ended up going nearly 8 miles instead of the 6 we had originally planned. We had such a good time that we somewhat spontaneously decided to start training for a half marathon together. This is something we’ve talked about doing for awhile, and I’m beyond excited that it’s actually happening! My paces have been seemed more consistent, and dare I say, a little faster, than the last time I did this, so I’m really excited to see what I can do on race day!I had a 9-miler and a 10-miler this past week! Woohoo!FOUR. We started back to school last Monday. It was refreshing to have just over a month off for the holidays (and our Spain trip), but it feels good to be back at it and checking things off. I’m proud of my little first grader and how much she’s accomplished already this school year. It sounds crazy, but summer doesn’t seem that far away!It’s also so nice when your friends are homeschooling too! Our girls love being together, and I’m grateful that homeschool has allowed them to still have playdates in the middle of the day. (Photo credit to Bianca!)FIVE. I might be a little obsessed with the movie Moana right now (seriously, how cute is Pua the pig?), but I’m super obsessed with this smiley baby. It doesn’t get any sweeter than this!Happy Monday!

five favorites (11/04)

Happy November! I’m going to try to do better with blogging this month, because I really do miss documenting more about our daily life and my kids’ shenanigans. We’re in the busiest season of our lives, though, so I’m trying to give myself some grace and understand that I just can’t do it all right now.

Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to!

ONE. We had a fun, memorable Halloween, but the girls enjoyed wearing several of their costumes from previous years for the entire week. They saved their “real” costumes for Halloween day (which will be another post). We had a lot of roaring and growling going on with a tiger and a dinosaur roaming around the house!
On another day, we had a quiet little giraffe in our midst.Kaya and Kaelyn also made some Halloween-themed art! They only asked me to spell “Halloween”, and they came up with the rest of this on their own. I just love these little ghosts. TWO. We’ve been having some fun at Kangaroo Kids the past few weeks! It’s been great to go back after an entire summer off, and the girls couldn’t have been more excited than they were on that first day we walked in. It’s also been really fun to watch Nella enjoying it more and more now that she’s a little older.Best friends. THREE. We went to the “Bug Fest” a couple of weekends ago, where we learned all about various types of insects (butterflies, honeybees, tarantulas, and cockroaches, to name a few). The girls were the very most excited about holding butterflies at the end of the event! I wasn’t so sure I wanted to hold one, but Michael encouraged me to, and it was actually pretty cool! Nella even held one for just a split second, which wasn’t long enough to get a picture.Butterfly buddies! (Eve was over it by this point!) Our other favorite station was learning about honeybees. We saw a real hive and even spotted the Queen!FOUR. The humidity has died down (finally!), and I’ve been enjoying some longer runs on the weekend! I’ve seen my running pace pick up drastically, and I’m already dreaming about maybe doing a half marathon next spring. This was my best postpartum run to date. It feels so good to feel more like my normal, non-pregnant running self again!FIVE. We enjoyed listening to General Conference at the beginning of October! Gaining inspiration and guidance for my daily life is something I will always hold dear. I participated in the social media fast recommended by President Nelson, and I learned a lot about myself, how and why I [should] use social media, as well as how it affects me day to day.

We brought back our old tradition of taking a group photo on Sunday morning!Of course we had to be silly.Michael might have taken multiple naps… but I’m still just grateful for this time with my family.Happy Sunday!

five favorites (09/05)

Happy September! I have quite a few posts I’d like to catch up on this month, but I thought I’d start it all off with my classic “five” from the past week!

ONE. We’ve been soaking up the last of the summer weather (and the 100% humidity has been literally soaking us), but I’m making the very most of it while it lasts. Autumn seems to come and end in the blink of an eye in this region. Historically, our winter temperatures have lasted for up to six months, so I’m in no rush for the weather to change!

Kaya took her schoolwork outside to the hammock. We were writing “All About Me” books this day.Kaelyn joined in!Kaya and Kaelyn asked to have a picnic out on the deck for lunch one afternoon. These small things make them so happy. (Nella is still way too messy to join in on the fun just yet, so she ate in her normal seat!) Baby cuddles in the hammock for me! What could be better?TWO. I’m all clear to run! After my postpartum break, I’m ecstatic to be back at it. It’s slow going, but more distance and speed will come with time. For now, I’m just happy to be out there at all. It feels a little strange to run without my big belly, and I do miss having Eve with me, but I’m excited to get stronger and maybe race again sometime in the upcoming months.THREE. While I’m out running, Daddy and the girls are dressing up and dancing!I just love seeing what they get into with Daddy!FOUR. If you can’t tell from this picture, Nella is baby obsessed. Real baby in one arm, baby doll in the other!Babies holding babies.This was just a lucky shot, but I LOVE it! Smiles for kisses!FIVE. Can we talk about these cheeks? I’m seriously obsessed with our littlest lady. We’re really looking forward to having family in town for her baby blessing soon!