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.

pumpkin picking (2019)

It’s the final day of 2019- I can’t even believe it! It might almost be 2020, but I’m still determined to get caught up on all the fall holidays and winter activities from this season. I’m really hoping I’ll be able to make more time for blogging and sharing photos in 2020. I’ve realized that it’s a much-needed creative outlet for me, not to mention, I love writing all of these posts for the girls to read someday. It’s been a little easier to work on posts since we’ve been off of school most of this month.

So… back in October, we went to our favorite pumpkin patch at Joe’s Trees! We took our traditional hay ride up to the field! It wasn’t busy at all this day, which was really nice. I like it when we have the place mostly to ourselves.Those rolling hills just take my breath away.We found the farmer-face cutout up by the corn maze this year! I love seeing how much the girls change every year they do this!We went through the corn maze, which turned out to be the perfect challenge. There have been years when it’s been way too easy, and other years when we’ve been lost and going in circles. We figured this one out in a decent amount of time and were still happy at the end, haha. Nellie was afraid of all the bats and ghosts hanging in the maze, but she fell in love with every single scarecrow. Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella all wanted pictures with each of them.Eve wasn’t a fan of getting out of the Ergo (we also realized she lost a shoe while we were in the maze, so we spent a while looking for it. Turns out, we had lost it on the hayride and someone else found it for us)! We headed over to a patch of pie pumpkins and let each girl choose one. Again with the scarecrows! Nella was really happy that this one was a girl with bows.I was happy to get a picture with all my girls, even if not everyone is looking and smiling. This is real life, guys.Eve was obsessed with holding every pumpkin she could, but she wasn’t into pictures until we were about to leave. Seriously, a baby with pumpkins is always one of my favorite things to photograph! We had such a great time, like we always do. I’m already looking forward to going back!

five on friday! (11/15)

We’re halfway through November already. I really can’t believe it! I’m trying my best to get caught up on here before the holidays start.

ONE. Our beloved Kangaroo Kids class has officially ended until next year. I have just as much fun as the girls do, and I really could make a whole post out of it, but I’ll just keep it to the highlights here.They loved this new inflatable pizza.Kaya and Kaelyn ask about these hopper balls nearly every week. These were one of my favorite things in my elementary school gym class, too.Bubble time is Evie’s favorite! She is also obsessed with the bounce house now that she screams when we get out of it!Eve is also now a pro basketball player. Her little ponytail and headband made this even more adorable!

Michael got to come with us to an evening class (unusual for us, but it was a make-up class), so I had extra time to bounce around with the girls. This is one of my favorite things for sure.

TWO. Michael went to a conference at Cornell University last week. He even had the opportunity to present! I’m so proud of him for all the amazing presentations he does and how well he represents his team at work.He got to enjoy some snow, but thankfully, it didn’t affect his flight home at all.So pretty! I love seeing other university campuses.The girls had a very hard time with him gone, which meant they were constantly waking up at night and crying. It was rough. We did do quite a bit of Facetiming with Daddy (and when you have four little girls, it’s totally normal to have a unicorn on your head)!Kaya sent Daddy this text, and I thought it was just the sweetest representation of how much she loves him.We’re happy to have him home!

THREE. Our children’s museum closed at the beginning of the year in order to renovate a new space and move! We really missed going, and it seemed like forever until it was finally done, but it opened last week! We went for the first time and had so much fun with all the new play areas.The girls loved the vet clinic and had to play there first, of course.Eve loves guinea pigs, so this piggy was her best friend for the rest of the day. (Also, those fuzzy boots on her just melt me!)Daddy had just as much fun building tall towers and knocking them over.Kaya became a builder!They had these benches that you could decorate with markers. Kaelyn surprised me by writing this on the bench, and I hope they never paint over it.Kaya made a cat, of course!FOUR. This one was from a few weeks ago, but I love time with our friends so much that I had to put it in here. We had a few play dates with Aaliyah and Talyah at the playground before it got so cold. The girls play together so well, and I am grateful for friends.FIVE. After a rough week with Michael being gone, and then the girls taking turns being sick, everything felt hard. Sometimes, I feel like I’m doing this whole motherhood thing wrong, and I get discouraged. Without ever knowing how much this means to me, Nella took the special sticker she got at Kangaroo Kids (hearts are her very favorite), put it on a paper, and added some yellow scribbles. She gave it to me and said, “I luh you”. My heart melted.These precious little moments are what get me through the hard days.Happy Friday!

the sunflower festival

We had a day in September that felt really special to me. I had been talking to Michael about how much I really wanted to see a field of sunflowers, but there weren’t any in our area that I knew of. He randomly found a sunflower farm (Beaver Dam Farm) that was having a festival about an hour away, and when he said, “Let’s go”, I might have been even more excited than the kids.We headed up there in the afternoon, after Michael attended our church’s stake service project and the girls and I had done all our chores around the house. The weather was warm but just slightly overcast, making for some of the best pictures.I was a little surprised to see all the thousands of sunflowers facing the same direction. After a Google search, I learned that sunflowers display “heliotropism”, a behavior where they follow the sun across the sky, until maturity, when they generally face east.Nella was really not into pictures this day. See her little hat squished into Daddy’s leg?We had a lot of fun taking a bunch of pictures. It was so beautiful out there being surrounded by the sunflowers and seeing the mountains in the distance.This is one of Kaelyn’s most natural smiles that I have photographed. I love it.Daddy was the baby-wrangler this day. He carried Evie the entire time, and although Nella didn’t want to take pictures, I still love this one because it shows how much Michael loves his girls.Sunshine feeds my soul. I’m so grateful for these outdoor days with my family.There were calves and a miniature horse to pet, which everyone loved, especially Nella. We got some kettle corn and boarded the hay ride!The flowers look like they stretched on for miles here.Kaya used her camera to take pictures the entire time, too.Nella warmed up to photos a little once we gave her kettle corn. All the girls were obsessed with it!We ended the day with snow cones- lemon lime for me, cotton candy for the girls, and a Dr. Pepper float for Michael. I guess we just need to give Nella treats to get her to smile for me!We bid the sunflowers goodbye and headed home. It’s one of those days I’ll always love remembering.

five favorites (10/08)

It’s not a Friday (or even the weekend, for that matter), but I’ve been really wanting to write one of these for a few days. I’m still figuring out how to balance all the things I need to do with all the creative things I want to do, but this little bit of sharing and organizing of my pictures is so good for my soul.

ONE. I don’t know what took me so long, but I finally got some watercolor paints for the girls, and we are loving them. We’ve used tempera and acrylic paints before, but the watercolors are so much cleaner and easier as far as set-up goes. Bonus points for incorporating them into our science activity! Painting the solar system!

TWO. It’s only taken me a thousand years of doing laundry, but I think we’ve finally figured out a system that works for us as far as keeping up with it! We’ve really limited how many items of clothing each person is allowed to have, and we do at least one load each day. In the morning, I take all the clean items and sort them by person. Kaya and Kaelyn are responsible for folding and putting away their own clothes, and I do everything else (Nella sometimes puts hers away after it’s been folded). It’s become a habit now, so no one really gripes about doing it. It’s been such a huge relief to not be behind! Plus, the girls get to pretend the empty baskets are boats (and they look adorable all squished in there, although I can’t believe they can all fit, really)!

THREE. Sometimes, being homeschooled means you get to have a special treat during the afternoon when your baby sisters are sleeping. Kaya and Kaelyn earned these cookies after helping with some extra clean-up.

FOUR. We finally made it back to the library (after a long hiatus) to get some books and movies, play in the kids’ area, and do some festive coloring. All the girls were so happy to be there and could have stayed for hours had we had the time. Even little Eve was trying to use crayons! I was also reminded how important small acts of service can be. While we were there, we ran into a friend from church, who offered to help us check out and carry all our books to the car. It’s really not a big thing… but I had been having a bit of an emotional day, and just that little bit of help while I cared for my four girls turned my day around. People are good. I’m trying to be more mindful about how I can help others, even in small ways.FIVE. We really enjoyed our church’s General Conference broadcast this past weekend! We always try to take a group picture on Conference weekend, so here it is, serious and then silly, of course. I really loved this quote: “If you hesitate in this adventure because you doubt your ability, remember that discipleship is not about doing things perfectly, it is about doing things intentionally. It is your choices that show what you truly are, far more than your abilities.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf). I have a renewed desire to try my best, not worry about doing it all “perfectly”, and try to avoid being distracted from my most important work by things that might be “good”, but aren’t “best”.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!

five favorites (09/28)

Happy Saturday! I wanted to post this yesterday, but we were traveling home from Raleigh, so I was a little short on time. It feels like life has been nonstop busy for the last couple of weeks, and I have a lot to catch up on here, but today I just wanted to share a few of the little things that have recently brought us joy.

ONE. Michael was ordained a high priest and set apart as second counselor in the bishopric at our church this past Sunday. I’m so grateful for his willingness to serve, his strong testimony of Jesus Christ, and the love he has for everyone around him. We enjoyed having so many family members visit for this special day. His parents, cousins Nicole and Brian and their boys, and my mom! We enjoyed our time together for sure.There always has to be a crazy picture.These three have taught me so much about selfless service.All the heart eyes for this guy and our sleepy little Nels. I’m so thankful for my best friend.

TWO. We also got to go on a date last weekend! We don’t get many of these, but since our parents were in town, we had the opportunity and took it. We tried to go to a fancy place we had a giftcard for… only to find out that we needed a reservation. We decided that we’d eat outdoors at a local Mexican restaurant instead… only to have it rain! Haha. We went to another Mexican place where we sat indoors.My date was pretty goofy, but I’ll keep him. There were tons of kids there all dressed up and having dinner before going to the homecoming dance. It was a lot of fun to people-watch and reminisce, although it did make me feel a little old!

THREE. This little Eve… she’s always getting into trouble! She’s our newest little marshmallow thief. Nella used to do this all the time when she was younger, so I guess she’s either taught Eve well, or marshmallow-thievery is in the genes. Her little lips and cheeks!!!FOUR. Kaya is always taking boxes I get in the mail and making something out of them. Usually, it’s a house or a boat, but this last time, she made a desk! Notice how it even has a little drawer with a pull handle. She had a shelf inside for storing her pencils and erasers. I love seeing her creativity. It has since collapsed, so it’s gone now, but it was fun while it lasted. FIVE. I’ve been trying to learn some different ways to do the girls’ hair. I’ve never really been great at braiding, so I’ve been practicing French braids on them almost every day now. This one was a “bubble braid”, which was pretty cute. Kaya’s hair is so curly that the end of her braid always curls up underneath! Hopefully, I’ll improve over the next month and be able to do something really cute on them for Karl and Kaitlyn’s wedding.Happy weekend!

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!

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!