our 4th of july weekend (2020)

We usually treat the Fourth of July like a pretty minor holiday around here. We would typically go to our town’s community fireworks show, and maybe make a red, white, and blue dessert. This year, I had some fun trying to make it a really fun day for the girls. I think that being in quarantine for several months has made it so that we look for any reason to make things a little extra special when it comes to family time.

We also lucked out and had absolutely perfect weather all weekend long. We enjoyed the pool on both Friday and Saturday afternoon. It was just the best temperature! I always think it’s fun that Kaya and Kaelyn practice floating in this tiny pool! Being in the sunshine with my babies truly is my happy place.
The girls got to try these bomb pops for the very first time. They were a hit! We repainted our toes… and I will never get enough of little baby feet with pink nails.Kaya and Kaelyn had some time to make chalk art in between swimming!I made this “pulled chicken” (instead of pork), and it was amazing! I love that it was completely from scratch and was so moist that it didn’t need barbecue sauce at all. I tried this corn on the cob in the oven, and that worked really well, too! The girls had never had corn on the cob before. Kaya loved it the most!I made these s’mores bars for dessert, which were also a hit, especially with the kids. I cut the sugar in the crust by half and they were really still too sweet for me.We got everyone bathed and in jammies before we headed outside to do sparklers. Because of social distancing, I counted on these being our only “fireworks” and really soaked in watching the girls have fun with them.Evie was absolutely OBSESSED with the sparklers.Watching all her firsts is still so special. We came inside, and just as we were tucking everyone into bed, we heard fireworks. The town still had its traditional show, and to our surprise, we had a pretty good view of it out our upstairs window. Kaya and Kaelyn were taking pictures and videos with their cameras. It felt like the perfect ending to a great day.

five favorites (07/18)

Whew! It feels like it’s been crazy busy around here, but it’s always worth taking the time to write one of these (even if it means sacrificing a nap… which is really hard for a pregnant mama)!

ONE. Michael took last week off of work and used some of his time off to start refinishing our deck. He’s been power-washing and sanding, and today we picked out the new paint color. I’m really excited! Goodbye, chipped red stain! I found his selfie in our shared photos account and it kind of makes me laugh for some reason.

TWO. We’ve spent a lot of time in the little pool so far this summer. It’s not quite the same as going to the community pool, but we’ve already had a lot more fun with it than I even expected to. It doesn’t take much to make these kids happy. I’m not sure where she got the peace sign thing from, but it’s cute! Eve always has to bring her pacifier in the pool and usually likes to stay by me. She’ll go to the opposite end and say, “I’m coming!”, and then she hurries over to me as quickly as she can. She also really loves pouring water on my baby belly!I’ve also really enjoyed this little pool. I can sit in there and the girls still have plenty of room to play. There’s just something extra-relaxing about being in water when you have a baby bump.

THREE. We’ve been trying to take more family walks lately, even if it’s the last thing we do right before the girls go to bed. We usually only go about a mile, but it’s been something I really love doing all together. Sometimes, the girls put their pajamas on before we leave so they’re ready for bed when we get back. Eve was so exhausted after her birthday party that she passed out in the stroller. That’s just the best.Nellie likes to hide in the pine trees and “scare” us as we walk by. BOO!We found some pretty flowers and had to take a picture with them! I love how Eve is not paying attention and is trying to walk away because it’s so true-to-life. This girl has things to do!

FOUR. This week, Kaya had a school assignment to create a flower out of fruit and then write a step-by-step paragraph about it. We turned it into an activity for everyone (minus Eve, who was napping and would have made an epic mess)!Nella has been really into photobombing these days.
Oh this face.And this one. I love Kaelyn’s laugh.FIVE. We borrowed library books for the first time since everything locked down for the pandemic back in March! Our library just reopened a few weeks ago, and we can order books for pickup. I picked out some new ones for the girls, and when Daddy brought them home, it was seriously like Christmas for them!
It was pretty much a book explosion, but I love how they all just dove right in and started reading. I love how much they love books.Happy Saturday!

five favorites (06/23)

It’s not Friday, but I’m overdue for one of these posts! We’ve been off of school for a few weeks already, and despite mostly still being quarantined, we’ve been trying to make the most of our time at home. Luckily, it really doesn’t take much to keep these girls happy!

ONE.  We’ve had a lot of outside fun and have really enjoyed the sunshine. Nella and Eve love to draw with chalk and throw a ball back and forth together. It’s been fun to see them getting closer and spending more time interacting with each other, instead of just playing side-by-side. Kaya and Kaelyn are my little monkeys. They’ve probably spent hours up in this tree.TWO. Our local pools have closed for the whole summer, so we got a little inflatable one to try. It takes forever to fill, so I’m not sure how often we’ll be using it, but it’s a fun treat every once in awhile. The girls were so excited and had the best time playing in it, even if it’s really not much more water than they’d have in the bathtub!Kaelyn really wanted to wear her floaty. I love these sisters.I was really excited that Eve got to wear her panda swimsuit… my favorite!Nellie was blowing bubbles!THREE. The girls had been begging Daddy to take them camping! Because of all the rain we’ve been having, he decided to set the tent up in the basement. We couldn’t trust Eve to sleep anywhere but her crib, so I stayed upstairs with her, and he slept in the tent with the three oldest girls. There was a lot of silliness and not a whole lot of sleeping that night, but they had a good time. Eve’s face! She didn’t know she wasn’t staying yet!FOUR. We had a taco and ice cream sundae party to celebrate the end of the school year! Everyone was so excited to eat outside at the kid table. We also recently introduced the girls to hard taco shells, so they have been really loving those. Yes, it was Taco Tuesday!We gave them Magic Shell for the first time, too! It’s the simple joys.FIVE. Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella have been saving up their allowance for months, and finally decided that they wanted some new Beanie Babies. We ordered them online and they came in the mail just in time to open after we finished our weekly chores.Nella picked this little dog, “Huey”, and has been completely obsessed with him ever since. Apparently, Beagle (her all-time favorite stuffie) is his mommy.Kaelyn chose this Unipuppy she saw at Joann’s months ago. Daddy calls it a “Puppycorn”, haha.Of course, Kaya chose this sparkly cat, Whimsy. I love seeing them enjoy things they’ve worked so hard for.Evie doesn’t get allowance, but she requested a picture anyway.Happy Tuesday!

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!

pool time with grandma and grandpa

We had a couple of great visits with Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip over the summer! This time, they stopped here on their way home from visiting Kevin and Tori in Utah.  I was even more overjoyed than usual to see them, since Michael was still at Scout Camp, and I had been solo parenting that week.

I’ve realized that many of my favorite days happen when there seems to be this perfect balance between work and play, and this weekend definitely had it.  Dad had his truck, so we made good use of it by cleaning out the garage and taking things both to Goodwill and the dump. We had two pick-up loads full (mostly random things from updating parts of the house, like light fixtures and shutters), and it felt so freeing to finally get that done. It was a hot day, so after that, we had lunch and headed to the pool.This is surely one of my favorite places, with some of my very favorite people! Grandma and I mostly played with Nella and Eve, while Grandpa took Kaya and Kaelyn all over the pool, splashing, swimming, riding on his back, practicing jumping in and floating… you name it. They absolutely loved having a devoted play buddy for the entire afternoon.Nella loves this little whale.She always tries to go down the frog slide, but usually climbs the stairs and then gets too nervous to go down. This makes it a little tricky to get her down when there’s a huge line of kids behind her! Thankfully, she went down this time.This smile reminds me how beautiful even the tiniest of moments are. Sweet sweet Eve. Later, there were also lots of cuddles… …and belated birthday gifts! Bubbles… And a Daddy, when he came home from camp! I cherish these days with family.

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!

claytor lake

We had the chance to spend one Friday night at the lake for a friend’s birthday party, and I’m so glad we went, because these little girls had the best time. This was Nella and Eve’s first time ever playing in sand, and they loved it! Nella immediately started adding to another child’s sandcastle, and Eve sat on the shore happily.

Nella also surprised me with how willing she was to let me take a few pictures of her. That little foot pop and smile… be still my heart.The water washing over her legs made Eve so excited! She was laughing and trying to crawl right into it. My mom was in town. It was so nice to have her join us! Outdoors is my happy place.Kaya and Kaelyn were playing nonstop and didn’t even want to take a break to eat dinner! Eventually, they did, and we had a little picnic in the sand.Michael got to go out in our friends’ kayak with each of the girls for very short little rides… until we found out you’re not supposed to launch kayaks from this part of the shoreline. Whoops. It was fun while it lasted. Nella looked unsure, but she had a good time, too.The girls had freezie pops to end the night. It was a perfect evening.

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 (08/03)

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 (06/21)

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

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

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

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

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