Backbone State Park and Bixby State Preserve

We completed our 2nd camping trip of the season!  Still hoping we can do once a month….  This one was much better than last month too!  We had all sorts of struggles trying to figure out when and where we were going because the weather kept going crazy.  We knew we definitely wanted to tent camp this time, but we also wanted the weather to be such that we could actually do some hiking.  I had gotten permission from the judge (to take baby girl out of state) for some dates and then we ended up not being able to go at that time due to tons of rain chances.  We knew we could just up and go to Backbone, since it’s in-state, so we were kind of banking on that working out eventually.  Long story (sort of) short, we did find a time and got it done!  The weather actually turned out to be incredible too, which was so fun!  And all the kids were still in school, so the place was deadsville.  So great!  Also, *drum roll,* our friend Callie came with us which continues to be a highlight of conversation among our children.

Day 1:

We had been looking forward to and planning for this day for a while, so of course the day started out by Evie having a stomachache.  I tried to poo-poo it, and told her she probably just needed breakfast.  That went well.  I got to see her glass of kef and half eaten breakfast twice that morning….. followed by two more throw up episodes.  She seemed quite perky in spite of it, and it’s no joke trying to prepare and pack for a 2 night camping trip with 5 small children so we went ahead and decided to continue as planned.  Callie came a little early and helped me finish up packing.  Finally Cabz got home from work and we were off!

It took about 2 hours to get there, with only one road side pull over for Elly to use the can.  Since we waited for Cabz to finish a full day of work, we didn’t get to the campsite until it was already somewhat late for supper.  Cabz started working on getting the fire started right away, (always our problem area haha) and between him and Callie’s twigs, we eventually had success!  The kids were super helpful as always.  THANKS, GUYS!!

Callie and I, again with the children’s help, managed to set up the two tents.  Callie’s was like a 5 second set up and we figured our giant 8 person one out pretty quickly too.  I should have it down by now since I’ve helped set it up a few times, but I’m always the listener and helper, not the director, sooooo…. that’s my excuse.

Evie putting in the bent tent stake was pretty useful obviously.

Callie helped me get the four older kids smiling.  It did blur a little since our new camera focus isn’t set up yet, BUT I still call this a pretty big win. 🙂

We have fire!  Yay!  Cabz was cooking up the kielbasa, potato, green bean foil packs we assembled earlier.  They’re really pretty tasty camp fare, but they were a little slower to cook up then brats.  Yes, this turned into quite the late night for the kids.  They all held it together really well considering.  I’m going to attribute that to Callie being there.  Always easier to hold onto self-control when someone’s watching. hahaha

Abby’s photography skills are hit and miss.  This was kind of a miss, followed by a miss, followed by a miss.  She was trying to get a pic of us eating, but was so excited she was struggling to hold the camera still.  As a result, this is the best we got. haha  You get the “picture” though. 😉

Toddlers and baby were sent to bed while the two big girls got to down a s’more.  Sticky fingers and faces for the win!

It was so late by the time the kids were sleeping. haha  Rough.  The good news is, there was very minimal crying and goofing around.  YES!  After the kids were all settled in the tent, we went to enjoy some rummy and root beer.  Callie turned 21 yesterday, soooo, major partying was in order.  I had some pretty great ideas planned to celebrate, but Cabz shut me down.  The root beer was Callie’s idea though and although I’m not generally a fan of pop, it was pretty tasty!

I just feel the urge to remind everyone I’m pregnant so that’s the reason for the belly.  Also, Cabz and I were totally twinning rustic run shirts (actually on accident, although I had mine on first – he says he had his on last night prior to work clothes, but whatever).

We were really struggling to get a group selfie in the dark, but Cabz finally got this one done for us.  I can’t stop laughing at it.

Day 2:

I figured the kids would rise with the sun, but that was just me.  I woke up thinking it must be really late and it was 5 something in the morning.  I tried to go back to sleep until I figured it surely was late enough to get everyone up – nope.  6:30.  Finally it was close enough to 7 and Elly was up, sooo, everyone got to wake up.

Both nights we stayed it was perfect tent weather!  Started out a little warm, but got cool enough that we were happy to cover up.  I think Cabz was even a tad bit chilly the first night.  The 2nd night I made sure we had a second blanket for him. haha  Baby Girl stayed warm in her little snuggie, although she was so confused the first morning she just laid there staring at me with big eyes for about ten minutes. ha!

Baby Girl was in one pack ‘n’ play, and Elly was in the other one.  Obie slept on a blanket in between them, we were on our air mattress (the high life), and the big girls were in their sleeping bags on the other end of the tent.  After pulling an incredibly late night, not everyone was super perky upon being roused up.

Obie stayed up the latest and I think it showed. hahaha  SOoooooooooo dead tired.

Breakfast time, come on, let’s eat!  At least the adults half heartedly humored my picture taking.

Which trail to start on?!  I was so pumped to get out and HIKE!  WOO!!  We decided to start with the cave hike.  It was at one end of the park, so we figured it made sense to work our way around a little.  We thought it’d be fun to surprise the kids with a cave at the end (of the super brief hike), so I was all, “Oooooh!!  What do you think we’re going to find at the end of this trail?!”  Trying to be super suspenseful and get them really into it.  It was working until Abby saw the trail sign.  Ya…. forgot temporarily that she can read.  Abby, “CAVE!  It says ‘cave!’  I bet there’s gonna be a cave at the end then!”  Well, there went that.  haha

It was a quick walk, but a fun one!

The rock stairs up to the cave were especially fun (although Obie might disagree with that…..)

Cave entrance!!  I was told it went back a decent ways, but I can’t say I was an eye witness.  Cabz was holding Babykins and my belly is the size of the moon, so there was no way we were waddling back in there.  Good thing Callie was nice enough to explore with the 2 big girls and their flashlights.  She said it was squatting fun the entire way. haha!  I was extra glad I didn’t attempt it upon hearing that.

Evie looks cranky here, but she was loving it.  She was just in a ‘I’m not going to be obliging with any camera stuff this entire trip” kinda mood.  Poor kid was sick though. ❤

Elly thought about following after the explorers, but decided against it.  She and Obie enjoyed climbing around the more open crevices outside the cave instead. 🙂

Toddlers and Daddy doing some low key caving.

The explorers made it back alive!

Time to keep moving!  Elly had other plans though…..  Ya, not chasing after you in my current condition.  Get with it, girl. haha

Callie did some high climbing fun before heading down.  I pointed her out since she’s hard to see. lol

After our cave hike, we needed something a little more strenuous.  Everyone was still full of energy, so we decided to try out Six Pines Trail, labeled as “difficult.”  It started out with a super steep hill climb.  Obie decided to demonstrate his moaning capabilities at this point.  No sooner did we make it to the top when Elly and Evie both realized they needed to poop.  Really, guys?  Normally, I pack a little baggie of wipes, but of course I left it down at the start of the trail in the van.  Cabz handed Baby off to us and ran back to grab some for us, because he’s the best. ❤  Meanwhile, the kids were getting the job done.  Good thing the park was quiet. hahaha

Back on the move!

This first large part of this trail was really exciting and pretty!  It was lots of climbing and we’re pretty sure it was right along the Maquoketa River which was pretty fun. 🙂

So much pretty scenery and we never used bug spray.  Other than the gnats being a little annoying at the campsite a few times, they really weren’t bad at all!

After the first part, we got a little “lost.”  We weren’t unsure how to get back, but we’re pretty sure we took the wrong way.  At that point it got much more dull as we were mostly walking on a small dirt path through weeds.  We kept it up for a while, because we wanted to reach the end, but eventually caved and turned around.  The trail was supposed to be 6/10 of a mile out and we probably did at least that and then back again, so around 1.2 miles.  The toddlers walked the entire time, in spite of Obie voicing some complaints.  He was clapping and cheering that we were “done” now.  Haha…. not quite, babe.

Next up, we headed to the main attraction of the park, Backbone Trail.  It’s a one mile trail loop, which we were excited about since loops are always more fun than out and backs.

This was a fun, rocky hike, and if I remember right it was labeled “moderate.”  It was definitely way easier than the previous trail and again we had the toddlers hike it up the whole way.  So nice to wear the kids out! 🙂

Elly loved climbing up the rocks.  I loved her climbing too until a little further on…..

We forced Miss Evie into smiling for a picture finally. 🙂

This was shortly before freak out session.

I think Abby was the one who came across this (that ended her leading the way for a while…. AHH!).  I don’t know what you think, but this beast is definitely poisonous!  Look at that creepy thing!!!  OH MY WORD!  I tried to throw rocks at its head and kill it, but my aim wasn’t very good in the moment of fright. haha  Nasty thing got away.  Grrrrr……  I can hardly even post this here, but….. here it is in all its nasty glory.

Cabz claiming his favorite tree of the trip!

Abby’s (and apparently Obie’s too – he has a thing for trying to be in every photo op ever haha) favorite tree, or what was left of it. haha  Also, Elly’s favorite tree after seeing how great it was.

Peanut’s favorite “tree” was one of her beloved sticks.  She was carrying one about 95% of the entire trip of course.

Callie even picked a favorite tree! haha

We discovered a cool fort someone had been building along the trail and of course needed a pic!

Babes is in a stage where although she desperately needs her two naps a day, will do everything she can to avoid them if we are doing something out of the ordinary.  She proceeded to start whining, and didn’t stop, for almost this entire hike.  She finally crashed here (for like 2 minutes before waking up and whining again), which we were pretty excited about.

We made it to the end!!

Toddlers were still plugging right along!

We were all pretty pooped at this point, so we headed back to camp to eat some grub and to try and get naps out of a couple kids before the next fun.  It’s a rough life, guys.

Elly was obsessed with hoarding and guzzling the water bottle at all times.

Obie and Baby were the only two that actually ended up napping.  We tried to get Elly to nap, but that was a fail.  She was exhausted, but too wound up at the same time.  Oh well.  Better sleep tonight, right?!  After a bit, we got the two sleepers up and headed to the creek to do some splashing in the afternoon heat!  That was a major hit!  Obie was infatuated with picking through the rocks.

I can never keep Cabz out of the water for long.  Such a water rat…..

Abby thought Callie’s grass patch sitting spot was a pretty great find.

Trying, and failing, to get Evie smiling cute.  There was just too much sand she had to dump out, and then repeat because her foot went back in the sand when she was dumping it.  It was challenging!

Abs just loves the water.  I think this had to have been her favorite part. haha  She was splashing and living it up the entire time! ❤

Washing up to head back to camp.  It was a virtual bath!

We gave ourselves plenty of time to get that stubborn fire going for supper this time. haha

Fire masters doing their thing.

Abby was sweetly trying to teach Elly how to play velcro ball catch.  It was pretty cute.  “Here, honey!  Hold your hand like this!!”  Followed by a (called it!) completely failed catch. haha ❤

Followed by having her move right in front of her face, so she could make it happen.  Whatever works.

Obes was loving hanging out with Baby Girl.  “My hand!!  Awwww!!”  She was holding his hand, guys! ❤

Hanging out with the babes while the fire was getting started.

Cuties. ❤

Tonight was lots of fun.  The kids all got to bed at a nice early time and they all passed out within like 2 minutes.  The adults hung out and played some Suishi Go – we each won a round and then Cabz had to win the tie breaker.  He just reminded me that he also won at rummy the night before, so….. there ya go. *sarcastic face while slow clapping*

Day 3:

Sometime in the middle of last night, I was checking on the kids and poor Evie was just burning up with fever.  She hadn’t had a fever the day before, but was sooooo hot.  Awww…. ❤  I didn’t wake her up since I hadn’t brought medicine anyway and sleep was probably the best thing she could be doing.

The kids always enjoy their sugar cereal (special camping treat) on camping mornings.

Evie was still feverish in the morning, but felt much better than in the night.  She ate a decent amount for breakfast, but lost her appetite as the day went on – poor girl barely touched her lunch.

The kids were being especially cute while we were packing up camp.

Peanut’s fever didn’t stop her from being an adorable big sister.  She was feeling soooo big marching around holding the toddlers’ hands. hahaha  ❤

Getting the tent to squish back in the bag is always a bit of a trick.

Our last morning of hiking!  We decided to head out on the East Lake Trail.  It was an excellent choice!

The trail was fairly easy to navigate, but had lots of ups and downs and the scenery was beautiful!

Is any hiking trip complete without at least one group selfie?! haha  Callie’s got some skills.

This fella gave me quite the workout while hiking (holding his hand and keeping him moving can be a bit of a task, to put it nicely), but it was good for him! 🙂

The bluffs along the hike were so much fun!

Abby found a feather and thought it was the coolest, but Cabz said it could be an eagle feather so she had to drop it.  Pictures before the goodbye were necessary.

Uh-oh!  We came upon a lame way around or a difficult shortcut.  Shortcut for all!! haha

My favorite tree (mostly, I just thought it was unique), until Cabz pointed out it looked like a bunch of snakes hanging down.  Ugh.  Thanks, babe!

The east lake trail followed water almost the entire way and it was of course quite exciting when we noticed geese with their babies!

We made it to where East Lake Trail and Bluebird Trail met up and turned onto Bluebird.  It looped back to where we came and we always go for loops when we can!

The kids were trying to stall the hike with some dirt fun, but we got them up and moving.  To the top of the first hill and then we’ll take a snack break!  That first hill proved to be a bit longer than we thought, but we did eventually make it! haha

Abby demonstrating how “tired” she was when we finally stopped.  Spare me. haha  You should see the endless energy these kids have 24/7.

Applesauce squeezers for the win.

There were a few little offshoot trails that looped back to the trail we were on and Cabz and Abby finally decided to go for one of them.  I think Cabz was happy to hand babykins off to Callie for a little reprieve.  Those carriers get tiresome (I can testify, even though this time I was carrier free! haha)  They jogged/ran the whole thing, but it was such a long out and back compared to the distance we went that we were standing around waiting for them for a bit.  Good thing Obes decided to do a stinky, while midwalk nontheless.  *sigh*  His potty training has been a bit slow compared to my norm.  Callie has a knack for catching these great moment on film.  Enjoy.

We took care of that smelly business, waited a bit, and spotted our cute duo!  It was actually really cute.  Abby was SO thrilled about her adventure with Daddy (“we saw over TEN deer!!!”) and talked about it for the rest of the hike with so much excitement it was hard not to laugh.  You would have thought she had been on a week long trip with him at least.  It was precious. haha ❤

Toodlebug with her walnut treasures.

Photo op on a random observation look-out place.  Almost made it back!

I can’t remember how far we hiked between the two trails, but I want to say it was about 2.5 miles?  Toddlers did it all on their own again!  Thataway!  Time to head out of Backbone.  We decided to try stopping at Bixby State Preserve on the way home, since it was only about 15 minutes from Backbone.  It sounded like Bixby’s main attraction was the ice cave, so we hoped to find that at least.  We got there and there was a random guy fishing there who pointed us in the right direction of the cave.  It was a cute hike, but extremely short.  The first part involved a fun little creek crossing!

Callie made it safely across and videoed the rest of the gang. haha

We gathered the trail was going to be short, so we stopped for a little creek playing, because that is always the best.

Abby was bent out of shape to catch a fish.  I think she realized the guy we saw was going fishing and hello, it is her lifelong dream to be a fisherwoman so she figured this was her big moment to shine!  Callie tried to help her out, but those little guppies were just too stinking fast!

We finally drug an unwilling Abby away from the water and finished our hike to the ice cave.

It was gated off (as we knew from reading online) but still chilly and kind of interesting.  Callie took a few of the kids up to stand on top of it too, because why not? ha

On the way back, Abby was again furiously trying to catch a fish.  She was actually pretty riled up about it, grouching at me that I didn’t bring her net and she was a bit feisty when we forced her to give it up and head back for lunch.  I mean, I wanted the girl to catch a fish, but it just wasn’t happening! lol

Humoring me for a picture quick. ha  Eating lunch at Bixby before ending our fun trip.

Pulling into the driveway – we made it!!

All the kids were dead tired and passed out on the way home.  Peanut slept off and on in the van, but once we got home she went inside and completely crashed on the couch.  Her fever came back in full force (103.7) and I was pushing to get her to drink and eat a little applesauce over the course of the afternoon/evening.  She slept pretty poorly that night (due to all the sleeping right beforehand), but was doing better the next day.  Always sad to have a little tot sick. ❤  All in all, it was a great trip and other than Peanut lagging a bit the last day, she was really such a trooper and enjoyed it all a bunch!  I can’t wait for next time! 🙂



A Kitty Birthday!!

Last night before my baby turns 2 pictures!!  It’s always hard to send them to bed when you know they’re going to be officially older in the morning. haha

Of course, my kids never want to be in pictures until I want to do a picture of just one of them alone.  Then, the jealousy bug kicks in and they are all swarming over like flies. hahaha

The big birthday started out with a fancy dress and muffins.  Elly was pretty excited about that!

Breakfast was followed by a tiny photo shoot outside, because little miss turned 2 and that only ever happens once in your life you know!!  She spotted something very important and concerning.

Jellybean has been wanting a kitty themed birthday for a long time now (this was prior to us actually having baby kittens), so it wasn’t too long before she ditched the ruffles for her kitty shirt. Cool Kitten on her strider.  Rule #2 of being cool: never go anywhere without your shades.. B-)

Our kittens were born around April 14th, and I had told the kids they could hold them for the first time on Elly’s kitty birthday.  This was Elly’s first time getting to snuggle one.  Can you tell by her “I’m actually in heaven right now” expressions?!  So cute. ❤

One of our first picnic lunches of the year.  They’ve been a long time coming with this slow spring!  Keep those crumbs outside!  WOOO!!!!!!

We didn’t actually send out any invitations for Elly’s party, because we opted for just doing an immediate family celebration this time around.  Her birthday was awkwardly in the middle of the week and we were busy the Saturdays surrounding, so that’s how it went.  She didn’t seem to mind. 🙂  If we would have invited guests, the invites would have looked something like this. 😉

Kitty banner up and ready.

This was my hurried attempt at a kitty cake.  Elly thought it was great, but Evelyn critiqued it as looking too much like a tiger.  She wanted an orange kitty cake though, sooooo there is only so much one can do!!

These were the marshmallow paw print sugar cookies.

Kids didn’t know what to do when I let them have one of the cookies for an afternoon snack…. (not sure what I was thinking.  Sugar overkill never goes well hahaha)

What’s a kitty birthday if you don’t dress the birthday girl up as a kitten??

Present time after Daddy got home!  She got a doll pack ‘n’ play, which continues to be a huge hit.  She was instantly loading it up and carting it around the house.

Cake and song time fun!

Daddy didn’t get a pic of Obie as his was devoured before we could, but he enjoyed it as well. haha

Happy Birthday, big 2 year old!!  This was the best we got of us with her, courtesy of Abby. 🙂 ❤

Eliana is 2!!


Eliana is 2 years old!!  Wow!  Two seems like you’re no longer a baby anymore, which is kind of sad. haha  She definitely hasn’t seemed like a baby for a while now though.  She is a seriously independent child.  We always laugh how Elly often does more for herself than her older sister, Evelyn. ha!

Jellybean weighs 24 lb 12 oz and is 32 1/2 ” tall.  She is probably long overdue for a doctor appointment, because I am the worst at getting those done.  The constant vaccinations are so annoying. haha  Especially those first couple years.  It’s like they’re always due, so might as well wait and get more bang for your buck.  Oh, you’re finally showing up?  Your kid is behind on like TEN SHOTS!  Alright, fill ‘er up.  Glad we waited.  Now maybe we can hold off for at least 6 months.

As I mentioned, Little Twerpy is extremely independent and as do it yourself as she can possibly be.  She’s been climbing in and out of her crib forever, dressing and undressing herself forever (minus her shirt which drives her crazy that she can’t do yet hahaha), getting her own socks and shoes on, brushing her own hair, putting her dishes by the sink, riding her strider (self-taught because we haven’t taken the time to help her, poor soul ha), using our little pink chair to put her toilet seat on the big toilet and go on her own, walking like all the other “big” kids at grocery stores because she’s not sitting her hiney in the cart if that’s considered a baby activity, getting on and off the trampoline, and a million other things I’m probably forgetting.  Oh, and watch out if you try to assist her with any of these activities. “No, no, no, no, no!  I do it!  I do it!”

Elly is also extremely helpful and on top of things, which I love!!  She seriously would help me with cleaning all day if she could.  She loves to wipe things, clean up toys and messes, and fix things that aren’t right.  She’s my speedy, ON IT, little miss!  After we finish praying at Bible time, she is racing for the bathroom screeching “Brush! Brush!” as she snags all the kids’ toothbrushes and toothpaste and races back out.  For a while she was grabbing everyone’s pajamas too and hauling those out.  She is generally one of the first ones ready when we’re heading out and the first one to get her stuff put away when we get home.  I love her get it done attitude, because that is totally my personality. haha  One of her biggest fits is when she doesn’t get to help with something (especially if older sisters are helping) or if I do something for her that she wanted to do herself.

Elly is such a zoomer when it comes to transitions, that she is often helping Obie (who struggles a bit in the get it done and speed capacities….) get done too. haha  During the colder months, Elly usually took it upon herself to undress him from his winter gear as well as getting her own stuff off.  It was great!

Although her older sisters would love to play Mama and Baby games with Elly, she generally won’t have it in the least.  There was a span of like 3 days where the big girls actually convinced Elly to be their baby (albeit a rather feisty, demanding baby!) and it was both weird and kind of hilarious since it was so out of character for her.

Here’s goony with her old bink she found.  She didn’t really remember how to use it, but she definitely realized she was being a nuthead. haha

While I am grateful that Elly Hope isn’t a pushover when it comes to her big sisters, she can still tend to be a bit of a bully.  I am continually amazed at things she will do to them and the lack of retaliation they give back.  Especially Evelyn will often be screaming, “Elly’s hitting me!  Elly’s hitting me!” as she’s cowering and Elly is beating her up with some kind of toy.  Like…. MOVE.  Or maybe outrun her?  Or maybe hold her hands down?  Something?  Anything?  Abby is getting a little more mean in response, but Evie continues to be Lil’ Miss Helpless.  Elly often will take toys from the others or yank things away from them too.  She doesn’t get away without consequence, but it’s interesting how much she perseveres in these behaviors.

It’s hilarious when Elly notices one of her older siblings being naughty.  If she’s right by me and knows I saw too, she will turn to me and go, “Oh!  Ah-bee!” “Oh!  Uh-vie!” or “Oh! Obie!” depending on the child.  She says it real fast and intense, like, they are SO naughty she can’t believe it!  I really need to get it on video. #bossbabe

I love when she calls the other kids too.  When she thinks I’m trying to call them, she takes it upon herself to screech at them.  “AHHHH-BEE!  ‘MEERE! (come here) ‘MEERE!”  “Uhhh-VIE!”

Calling the other kids in for lunch with our little triangle.  She was taking it pretty seriously until she saw me taking her picture.

Although the kids spit spat often, they also have times of playing together kindly.  Those are always some pretty fun times! haha  Elly doesn’t know how blessed she is to have two big sisters and a “big” brother as well as two (sorta) baby sisters.

Belting out a song. ha

Boxes always are the best.  Why toys when you can play in a box?!

Eliana has gotten lots of practice at being a big sister with our little 8 month old.  She’s going to need it come late summer, but I think she’ll be ready! 🙂

It’s exciting when we’re driving somewhere, because Elly has been in a point out the same daily objects fifty million times stage.  Her usual things to point out are diggers, tractors, ponies, cows, some trucks, campers, and ALWAYS water!  She adds “Eee” before everything she says, which makes it even better.  (although I think that is phasing out some which makes me super sad)  “Eee pony!!”  No, Elly.  Those are cows.  “Cows?”  Cows.  “Oh!  Eee cows!”  It’s adorable when she sees one of these very normal sights and freaks out, wanting all her sibs to see as well.  “Eee cows!!  Obie!!  Eee cows!  Ah-bee! Cows!” haha

Sweet Cheeks generally likes to use books as hymn books, singing at the top of her lungs while carrying one around opened up, but she has started finally showing more of an interest in actually looking through them as well.  She is starting enjoy being read to quite a bit too, which is fun!  She was obsessed with one of those David baby books.  There was one page in particular that had a picture of baby David in a full, lumpy diaper and it says, “P.U.”  She would flip to it and just stare at it saying, “Poopy!  Poopy!”  Yup.  That’s my girl.

Telling me something intense.

Poor Elle is usually a pretty calm kid, but it’s hilarious when she’s somewhere further away from me, like in the back bedrooms by herself or across the yard and if I call her, “Elly!!  Where are you?” she will often go into freak out panic mode and start shrieking “Ahh!!!  Ahhh!!!!” as she pelts toward me.  She especially does this if there’s a car coming or somewhere around, which is probably a good thing. haha  Other times, she remains calm and just let’s me know, “I ‘ere!” (here)  She cracks me up.

We really have done very little school activities with Elly, but she’s starting to pick up on some colors.  She sides with Evie so far and her favorite color is always “blee-ew!”  There may or may not have been multiple fights over blue items in our house between these two.  #pickadifferentfavoriteplease  Blue kefir cups are where it’s at, guys.  Also, she looks adorably funny in this picture.  hahaha  Talk about your hair sprouting!

Babes went through a long phase where she was crying every single bedtime, like throwing a big fit in her crib actually.  She still had to go to bed and eventually worked through it for the most part, although she is still generally really rough when we have company over during bedtime.  Lately, she has been panic pottying right before bed, because I put a diaper on her over night and she is paranoid of peeing in it.  “I poopey!!  I poopey!” is her constant freak out cry.  We really want to move her out of her crib because she’s way too old for it anyways (when you’ve been potty trained for months and capable of getting out on your own, it just feels like it’s time to move on to a toddler bed haha), but haven’t gotten it done yet.  I think we’ll just disassemble it and put it back up in our room and then have her sleep on a toddler mattress in the same spot until we get her a toddler bed.  Anyways, in the mean time, I’m having her sleep with undies on and just have been putting the potty in her bed with her and that actually is going really well.  Kind of weird, but we’re making it work. ha

I still lay Elly down for her afternoon nap, but she has more and more frequently been holding out on the actual sleeping part.  She enjoys reading, using her potty, playing with her babies, and sneaking out of her crib to get more toys.  At least she’s generally fairly quiet.  She still sleeps more often than not, but the skips are so annoying you remember them more. ha  This was a forced wake up after a late nap.  It’s tricky being woken up. ❤

We’re really excited Elly is finally starting to talk more.  She was pretty mum until recently.  Definitely a much slower talker than her two older sisters.  They were on it. haha  It was actually kind of nice to have a slower chatterbox.  Jellybean is hilarious though, because she often talks in a little old man voice.  At least, that’s what we call it. haha  Some things she often is saying are, “I huuuunreee!!” (hungry)  “I wanna draaaaaaank.” (drink)  “I tiiiwerd” (tired)  “I eeert!” (hurt)  I loved these next ones she used during the colder months.  She didn’t realize she could say she was cold.  Instead, she would say things like, “Eee brrrr!  Eee freezy!”  She thought she was cold all the time for a while and enjoyed finding a blanket to bundle all up in.  What a cute little cuddly goose! ❤

Every time we go somewhere, as we’re pulling out of the driveway, Elly is crying, “Bye Sunny!!  Bye Sunny Baby!  Bye chee-chees!  See later!”  Sunny is our cat and the “chee-chees” are our chickens.

Speaking of Sunny, Eliana is always worried that Sunny is hungry “Sunny!  Igh der! (right there) Hun-ree!!” and our plants are always “tirsty” (thirsty – also, that one is probably true most of the time. I stink at watering my plants. ahhhh 😦 sad)

“MOM!!!  I want you!!” was a common yelling phrase for a while.  Respect is a little sparse around here most of the time.

I can be a little impatient when I’m driving behind slow cars and Elly picked up on that.  She will often shout, “Doe tars!  DOE!!!” (go cars go) when we’re sitting at a stop light.  Oops.

Elly’s favorite hymn to burst into has been “Whatever our God Ordains is Right.”  She still sings (often!) at the top of her lungs around the house.  Her favorite one words from hymns to burst out are, “REJOICE!!!  Rejoice!!” (from O Come, O Come Emanuel) and “HawewooooJAH!” from “All I have is Christ.”  A favorite phrase she’ll sing out is, “He uh yi!!” (He’s alive) from a chorus of one of our songs.  It’s super funny because she will usually sing it as an echo when we’re doing it as a family and it actually kind of works. haha  She really is such a little twerpy twerp though.  If I ever want to get her to repeat something adorable for someone or to video, she is absolutely never going to do it. haha  All I ever get is a poker face (she owns that face!) or a smirk with a low chuckle.  Needless to say, I have to pull out allll the sneaky tricks to get this little troublesome tot to preform. haha

Elly also thinks it’s great fun to sing my, “Be friendly, Be Nice” song.  She’ll sing the quieter part and then get shaky as she gives it her all to screech as loud as possible for the louder part, “BEEEEEE ICE!!!!!!!” (be nice!)

Cabz and I both thought the following was completely hilarious.  We were in our giant van driving somewhere and I called back to the far back seat, “Are you guys super excited to go camping with Callie this weekend?!”  Now, our van has some issues and some serious air flowage is one of them.  It kinda sounds like a window is open all the time, so it can be decently difficult to hear from front to back and vice versa.  Plus, Abby is half deaf all the time. haha  Abby screeches back up, “Camping??”  Me: “Ya!  Camping with Callie this weekend!”  A: “Camping with Cowie?”  Me: “YES!!  CAMPING WITH CALLIE!!!!!!!”  A: “Oooooh!!”  Sometime following this, Elly decided she wanted to repeat the conversation and it was just so funny.  E: “Ee Camping?”  Me: “Yes, Elly, camping with Callie this weekend!”  E (a little louder): “Ee Camping? Cowie?”  Me: “Yes, Elly.  Camping with Callie.”  E (screaming at the top of her lungs now): “EE CAMPING?? COWIE???”  Me (also screaming back at the top of my lungs): “YES, ELLY!! CAMPING WITH CALLIE!”  E: “OOOOOOooooh!!!”  Unbelievable. hahaha ❤

The three older girls went down to play in the basement one day a while back and came up all dressed up.  This was what Elly came up looking like.  I was cracking up over it. hahaha

Elly Hope always makes me laugh when she’s eating.  I have no idea why and other people probably don’t find it funny, but she just makes the most hilarious expressions and is usually sitting all bundled up on her knees.  I don’t know.  She just is a hoot.  I can’t stop laughing when I watch her eat.  #momprobs

Why do little kids always put sunglasses on upside down?  Is it really more natural or easier??  Seriously.  They always do this. ha!

She was big on phone chatting on her shoulder like Mama does while watching children.  I don’t stick my hand up straight in the air though. lol

Being outside fun!!!!!!

Check out Evie.  She’s really enjoying her giant wad of ham hanging out of her mouth…… really now.

Our little miss loves to get in my can cupboard and sort and organize all the foods – as well as sneak “Raise! Raise!” (raisins) as often as possible.  Keepin’ things regular.  Ohhhh, Cutes. ❤

Pony ride fun!

hahaha I loved this.  She was feeding her super tiny dollies these giant pieces of toy food.  They were living it up big time!!

Jellybean is a serious gamer girl.

Oh, this precious little babe!  She’s so cute I just want to squeeze her all day! ❤

We love our fiercely independent little tot!  Her laugh and cry are difficult for people to decipher and she always has a (very strong) opinion on everything!  Don’t help her unless you want your head chopped off, but she is also my clinging little cuddler when the mood arises (generally when it’s like 100 degrees out and I’m drenched in sweat, after naps when she’s overtired, when people are over at our house, or when we go places like church).  We love your hugs and my favorite is when you say, “I yuv oo!” before going to bed at night. ❤  We kind of wish you wouldn’t grow up so fast, but that’s life.  Love you, Sweets! ❤

Elly was trying to look super precious in the above picture with her Daddy.  I think it worked. haha ❤

Lacey-Keosauqua State Park

Alright, guys.  I have big plans for this camping season!!  I want to go on a camping trip every month from April – August, hopefully one in late September if we’re all up for it and then maybe again in October. haha  Now, don’t get all Negative Nancy on it happening before I even explain myself!  I’m not planning anything over the top elaborate or ten years away or anything, so it’s actually doable with all the kiddies and in my current enlarged state.  I did my research and found quite a few decent looking state parks all within 3 hours of driving distance (most are actually more like 1 1/2 or 2!).  I mean, I’d love to travel out to some insanely crazy cool adventuresome state parks elsewhere, BUT the ones I found look really pretty great for the distance and it seems like this could be one of the few years we could attempt something like this (you know, prior to too many pets 😉 haha).

April was having some kind of a fit this year and we had pretty much no nice days, but I was itching to get somewhere and Cabz said we could just do a cabin stay this first time (ya, I know, not really “camping,” but we’ll tent camp from here on out hopefully and it was better than not going!) so we made it happen!  For our first excursion we chose the lamest of all the parks I had found (basically a hilly lake type state park with a few bluffs).  It was the only option that was slightly south and looked less likely to rain than the other places we were considering.

I packed and loaded up the van most of Thursday and we hightailed it out as soon as Cabz got off work!  Wow!  It felt pretty roomy packing the big van this time around. haha!  Look at all that room!

SO EXCITED and ready to go!

When we arrived, it was basically time for a late supper and kids’ bedtimes.  I had brought leftovers (gotta utilize that cabin microwave after all) for supper, so we heated that up and picnicked just outside our cabin.  There were only 6 cabins at the park and 2 others had people in them.  The entire campground was actually closed down for the season due to major construction, so the park was pretty much dead other than us.  That part was kind of fun!  Baby Girl  doesn’t roll too much yet, so she typically gets to be our table centerpiece while we’re eating. haha

The toddlers outside our little cabin.  It was technically set up for four, with a six person maximum, but the guy told me while he wasn’t going to SAY we could bring 7 people, he also wasn’t going to tell us to make our children age 5 and under sleep elsewhere. hahaha

I had brought along some popcorn for a little treat before bed.  I don’t know why, but I kind of forgot about s’mores, but the popcorn was a big hit.

Couldn’t get Obes to look up, because FOOD, guys!!

Evie with her beloved blue leaf.  There was some sprinkler thing by our cabin that had recently been spray painted blue and the surrounding nature was also blue.  The big girls were infatuated with all the blue stuff, especially Evie of course.

Bedtime the first night was……hard, unpleasant, everlasting, disastrous, rough, painful, and extremely frustrating.  Welcome to the first night of camping with young children.  There were two futons and we had brought two pack ‘n’ plays along as well.  We took one futon and the plan was Baby Girl in one pack ‘n’ play, Obie in the other, and the 3 other girls on the second futon.  All settled in and looked good.  Then we turned out the lights and I’m telling you – it wouldn’t end!  Elly was used to sleeping in a crib, plus does TERRIBLE when we sleep anywhere other than home.  We still do it, but it never goes too well.  The girls kept goofing and getting in trouble and goofing more and getting in more trouble, even though it was really late for them.  They were so wired up from everything, they just could NOT settle down.  Then the tears started.  Elly and Evelyn off and on just bawling it up (mostly Elly).  Bawling and screaming for actually hours.  It was around 9:30 or 10 I believe when Elly finally crashed and then Baby Girl (who was still wound and awake) started babbling – loudly – for another half hour or so, meaning I still was not sleeping.  Finally fell asleep a long while after that and Elly was up screaming again after Evelyn yelled out in her sleep sometime around 1 in the morning.  Someone else started in around 4 a.m. and then we were up for the day by 7.  I was not sad to have the night end. haha  We also found a rather large cockroach in the middle of the night, because we were still up, and that wasn’t my favorite either.  We saw a couple more while there and a few spiders too, which overall kind of made me miss tent camping.  It may be mustier and colder, but at least there’s no bugs in there. haha

We had a quick breakfast and got ready for some hiking!

In spite of quite a bit of rain chances, the entire day was perfect!!  It wasn’t sunny, but it was fairly warm and we only ever felt a few drops of rain between us.  Kids started out in jackets, but were done with them as the day went on.

The main trail at this park was the loop around the lake, although there were about 6 miles of possible trails available.  I was already toting my load of baby, so Caleb hefted Baby Girl and the toddlers had to man up and walk!  I wasn’t sure how they would do, since their typical distance is a mile, but we decided to go for it!  Mixed emotions here…. haha

This trail was full of stone bridges, which added an interesting touch.  There was obviously not a lot of nature growth visible at the moment, so it was kind of fun to have something to look for along the way.

There was one tree across the path which was a hit for the kids.

More bridge fun!  Yes, I took too many pictures for what this park was, but it was a looooooong winter and getting to do this was SO NICE after being cooped up for way too long!

Hiking it up!

Abby found a flower!  And it was instantly alllll the questions.  Have I said before that this girl wants to actually know every single thing about everything?

90% o the hike I was holding Obie’s hand to keep him moving at a decent pace, but he really liked it when we would hit a downhill and I’d let him walk with the big girls.  He did pretty well overall.  There was definitely a lot of moaning, but it went better than expected!

Elly did really well until about the mile.  At that point, she still kept plugging along, but her pace slowed significantly.  She was often holding a hand to keep pace as well. haha

Adventurous Bigs!

Whatcha doin’, Handsome?  Actually, I already know.  He was looking at what we thought was stairs down to the lake.  Turns out it was a flipped over bench.  ha

Abby gave Elly a – very brief – reprieve from walking.  She had high ambitions, but toddler sisters can be heavier than you anticipate when you’re 5. haha

Looking a little less alive. haha  After last night, we were all about making ’em WALK, WALK, WALK!  Tonight is going to be amazing.  Wait and see!

Finding treasures of course!

Sometimes when we’re hiking we take turns picking our favorite tree.  Daddy picked this knotty one, but decided to let Abby pose with it.

Short sitting break since we got a little ahead of the others thanks to Mama’s mighty dragging arm skills (combined with the big girls dawdling over treasures).

We found some spilled sequins (what even?!?) and the girls were scavenging to pick them all up.  This is a nature hike, right?

Feeling mighty!  Almost to the end!

Peanut. ❤

Abby’s favorite tree.  The curved one if you missed her pointing.

We made it to the end!  The toddlers did it!  The kids were ready for a snack break, so I handed out some raisins.  Meanwhile, the park ranger guy had pulled up and was wondering if we had our payment check (that’s how he had wanted us to pay since their campground was mainly closed) so Cabz ran back to the cabin to get his checkbook, couldn’t find it, ran back to the van, Evie told him she knew his backpack (with checkbook) was in the cabin and I agreed, so we all went back to the cabin yet again and found it.  Success! haha

One other nice thing about the majority of the campground being closed was that they weren’t selling firewood as usual, so the ranger guy was bringing truckloads for free to all the cabins that wanted some!  SCORE!  Saving on those five dollar bundles, baby!! $$$  We hung out at the cabin until lunch time, then had some good ol’ pb & js.

Can you tell Elly had pb & j??

After lunch, we were all still pretty pooped.  We haven’t hiked in a while guys and I knew the toddlers weren’t going to have it in them to do much more without being carried.  I really wanted to make the most of the time though, so we headed out to attempt some more hiking before calling it quits.  This time I had the carrier with Baby Girl (which didn’t go super well) and Cabz started out hefting Obie for a nap in the back carrier.  Talk about a load of fun! ha!

Abby wanted to take a picture, so this is one of her better attempts. 🙂

She was on a role and took this one of some of us on the bridge.  I was kinda loosing steam at this point.  I get really frustrated when I can’t physically do something I want to.  Usually I force through in spite of pain, but this time I was trying to be more cautious since it’s not just feeling tired myself, but I didn’t want to risk anything to the baby in womb.  For whatever reason, the hiking and then carrying Baby Girl in the carrier was really creating some problems.  I started getting a lot of pressure (almost to the point of painful) down low and had to keep stopping so it would ease up.

This trail was an out and back sort of trail, so we turned around shortly after this.  We had done maybe 1/2 a mile, but I just wasn’t able to cart Baby Girl around and everyone else was feeling a bit exhausted too.  The lack of sleep last night combined with a lot of good exercise and no naps was taking its toll.  Obie got canned out of the carrier, much to his chagrin, and Elly got a turn.  She didn’t sleep a wink in there, but it gave her feet a rest at least.

Evie found a beloved “stick baby” and promptly named it Sticky.  Then she excitedly told me we could name our new baby that!  Ya…. okay…. pass on that, but you sure are cute!

Made it back!

Love this big girl! ❤

Stragglers. ❤

The girls wanted their jackets around their waists because I did.

We didn’t want to be done adventuring after this, but we were all so pooped, we knew we had to do something less physical. haha  We found a park in the small town of Keosauqua.  There was a very tiny, maybe 1/10 “trail” of sidewalk leading to it, so we told the kids we were going to go exploring and see if it went anywhere fun.

The kids (and my man ❤ ) were pretty hilarious on this swing.

Evie scaring me and climbing the highest slide I’ve ever seen.

Having fun!  It was surprising how much energy our seemingly exhausted kids had once they saw the park.

This spaceship climber was pretty intense.  Talk about tall!  I was trying to take a picture of Cabz and the big girls up there and then saw Elly was already climbing up the tall ladder too.  Never one to be left behind.

After the park we headed back to the cabin to get the fire started for brats!

Elly telling me all about the fire.

Ripping up some fire starter.

Throwing in some sticks.

We have fire!

Playing a little velcro mit catch after supper.

Elly sad because it wasn’t her turn.

She’s ready!  If only that’s all it took….

Elly happy because she got to throw it back to Daddy. haha

He’s such a sweet Daddy, always taking time to explain things to the kids and loving all their questions. ❤

We have a catch!

Abby photographed Mama and Daddy taking a turn.  I was trying to whip them super hard at Cabz, but he’d catch them all anyway. haha  Fail.

Abby’s turn again.

Love no computers and extra time with this guy. ❤

Popcorn bag two and of course my kids guzzling water.  Oh please.

So, as bad as the first night went….. the second night was SOOOOOOOOO great!!!!  This is the reason we always tell people if they’re going camping with young kids and they want it to be a good memory, they should stay two nights at least. haha  The first night will be horrendous and you’ll wish you never went and the second night will be so fun that you’ll do it again.  We wore the kids out all day and they slept like angels all night.  It was lovely.  We decided to lay the kids down and go sit outside the cabin by the fire so we didn’t have to listen to them falling asleep. haha  They were out within minutes.  Sitting outside by the fire on our bench with this guy was SO nice!  We got to just talk and relax and it was my favorite part I think.  This picture of us is super dark, but it reminds me of how nice it was. ❤

Walked back in later to this beautiful scene.

Waking up the next morning, we were pretty glad we had opted cabin vs. tent this first time.  It was raining and cold out. haha  Although we had hoped it would be nice enough to hike a little before heading home, we were also pretty sore and had gotten some good hiking in, so it was alright.  We took the morning to eat, load up, and clean up the cabin.  Then, we headed home in time for lunch.  Here’s some pics of our cabin.

The girls wanted to pose with the toilet for the bathroom shot.  *Ahem*

Back in our own driveway.  We made it still smiling! 🙂

We were welcomed home by a little surprise Sunny left for us.  She had 4 kittens!  The calico one was dead, sadly, but the other three made it!  Right in her favorite little window spot of course! 🙂

I can’t wait for next month!  WOO!!!


Evelyn’s 3 1/2 Year Old Update

Our little Peanut is growing like a weed!  Or… a least, she wishes she was.  For whatever reason, this girl is obsessed with getting taller and bigger.  Why do people prone to shortness always want to be so tall??  I mean, I hate to break it to Evie, but she’s always been a bit shrimpy and just based on growth numbers, I don’t think she’s ever going to achieve her dream of being as “tall as Abby!”  She is 39 inches tall and weighs 33 lb 2 oz.

This next picture was after she had announced, “I’m gettin’ bigger and taller!  I’m gonna be a momma soon!”

One of her favorite activities is to admire her very tall shadow over breakfast.  “My shadow is taller than YOU, Mama!  Isn’t it??”  Or to hold tall sticks up in an attempt to be “taller” than me.

She was determined to build a tower as tall as her the other day.  Obviously, it was HUGE because she is super tall, guys!!

Evelyn has always been our expressive, big emotions kid.  She is either SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY or EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE!!  There really isn’t much in between.  When everything is terrible, we’re all just like why.  Please, don’t give us another child with her personality.  But, when she’s happy, she’s SO happy it’s contagious and she laughs like crazy when she even thinks you’re possibly thinking about tickling her and it’s never a challenge to get her to smile for a picture and her laugh is ridiculously happy and genuine, and then we wish all our kids were like her. ha  We love our Evie Grace.  I still get a kick out of her mouth wide open grin.  Also, check out her front two teeth gap.  I don’t know why, but I love it.  Cabz is always worried it means she’ll need braces, but I think it’s adorable. ❤

Speaking of big emotions….  these kids never watch movies, or even shows for that matter.  We had a small kick where we were letting them watch a Max & Ruby or something similar on Friday nights for 15 minutes, but that faded long ago.  A few months ago, I thought, hey!  It’s been forever.  Why don’t we try a movie with the kids?  I pulled out our old classic, Ice Age and we settled in with some popcorn.  I had gone over the plot with the kids beforehand, because they don’t handle suspense well WHATsoever.  I explained to them that the baby was NOT going to die.  The tiger was NOT going to eat it.  Guess how many times I had to reassure them of these same truths throughout the movie?  Like fifty million.  And the tears.  Oh my word.  Every time the tiger was sneaky etc., BAHHHHHhhhhhh!!!!  Waterworks.  “IS the tiger gonna get him??  Is he gonna die??  Will they get the baby back to his daddy??”  It took us two nights to get through this movie and I’m officially NOT pulling it off the shelf again until multiple years have gone by. hahaha

Peanut has always been a lover.  She never hesitates to get a hug when needed and has lately been into giving smooches.  Of course, “the baby in your womb!” never gets left out from that.  Baby (my belly) gets a hug and a kiss every night before bed among other times.

Every good day starts with a big glass of keifer as far as Evie is concerned.  She always wants a LOT.

Although Evie Grace didn’t used to be quite the gamer Big Sis always was, she has been a lot more into games lately.  Some of her favorites are Guess Who, Kingdomino, Kingdom Builders, “The Fish Game,” (Hey, that’s my Fish!) and “The Farming Game” (Agricola).

The kids all love living out in the country.  The pets and pet potential is one of their favorite things about it.  So far we have accumulated 6 chickens and a barn cat that recently had 4 kittens.  As Evie will tell you LOUD AND PROUD, “But the calico one DIED!  But we still have THREE!!”  Although her naming ability is usually sub par, I was impressed when she decided on Sunshine “Sunny” for our cat.  I’m not really a cat person, but Sunny is about as nice as they get.  She’s very friendly and sociable, loves being around the kids, tolerates the younger ones’ abuse, and loves to be petted.  She’s not one of those aloof crab cats or one of those that you’re petting and then they bite you or petting and then they scratch you.  I am really not a fan of cats like that.  She’s also not TOO annoying, where she’s always in your face.  She’s the perfect cat as far as they go.

The kids (and I) are really excited to get a dog asap, but we kind of need a fence first.  Evie enjoyed the puppies our friends from church had a while back.

She also loves petting goats and getting pony rides on Emmy and Paps’s farm!

We have had an exceptionally slow spring, so I don’t have a lot of warm, springy, outside pics of Evie this time around, but she loves being outside and had fun in the snow whenever I was ambitious enough to bundle everyone up.

Evie’s favorite snow fun was when I would make them snow babies.  She named hers Baby Evie of course because what else would you name an adorable baby?!

Late last fall, Evie was busy doing some yard clean up at our tiny house in town.  She got a little hung up in her big bundly snow pants though and was all flopped over when I looked out. haha

Like any good Iowa child, Evie enjoyed finding leftover field corn and soybeans.

Ev is still the wild child in our family.  She loves careening pell-mell all over on her bike and is always trying to hock Abby’s bike (that’s waaaay too big for her) and generally ends up splatting somewhere because she can’t reach the ground to stop appropriately.

She’s always the kid who is doing something a little too crazy at the park…. (at least in this instance she had a helmet from riding her bike there ha!)

She’s the one with the chainsaw…. ha  This is so typical of her and Abby.  Abby is interested in the artsy thing and Evie’s ready to saw something to pieces.

Tractor and combine time is always greatly enjoyed and talked about for weeks.

Evie Grace loves to be a helper, but she is often more enthusiastic to start a task than she is to follow through and finish one.  She is always excited to help me with cooking, but it has to be the right job as she is very hands on and can scarcely be contained in the height of excitement.  We had never made pigs in a blanket, but decided to splurge one night.  The girls thought it was great helping roll them up. haha

Ev loves to help with Baby Girl too.  She is always begging to hold her (although it only lasts about a minute before she’s ready to give her back) and loves entertaining her.  Although she has been a big sister for a long time, it’s kind of cute seeing her in the big sister role with a younger one.  Evie was so young herself when Obie and Elly came along that she wasn’t quite as nurturing at that point.

She was cute helping with little cousin, Belle, when she came over too. haha  It’s funny when kids are Belle and Elly’s ages how they connect better with older kids than with their peers.

The other day Evie was laying on the play mat with Babykins and goes, “Mama!  Take a picture and send it to Google!”  I have no idea where that even came from.  I am personally way too technologically impaired to ever attempt sending something to Google….. hahaha  This girl doesn’t lack self-confidence.  That’s for sure.

Just a normal day at our house.  Apples all ’round!

Alright, my personal favorite time.  Quotes from Evie.  I’m sure there were a million more, but these are the ones I managed to scrap together and write down semi in the moment so as not to forget. ha  Enjoy!

Staring out at the (let’s be honest here…. ) tiresome snow, “I wonder when the snow will melk.”

“Baf time!” (bath)

“Can I go wif you?” (with – gotta love those cute lispy pronunciations. ❤ )

She was in a stage for a while where she was always calling Elly our nickname for her, “Jelly Bean!”  It was the cutest.

“I don’t want to uh-cuz I’m doing this.” (because)

During our evening Bible time, Caleb was reviewing the story of Adam and Even from the previous night – What did God do when He saw that Adam was all alone?  Evie: “He said, go to your friends!”

Bible time again, Caleb was reading about Rachel and how she died while giving birth to Benjamin, so they buried her.  Evie quickly pipes up, “What did they do with the meat?!”  Um…. we don’t eat humans or typically refer to them as ‘meat,’ babe….

The other day Evie and Abby came running out of a back room excitedly.  “Mama!  We thought of a new name for the baby in your womb!!  Tubellip!  Or Tubella!  *pause* Is that a girl’s name?  Or Belly or Beany or Peanut Butter or Carmel or Chocolate!”  Me, “Wow… ya…. you guys have lots of ideas!”  Abby, “Ya, only for girls though….”

“I was so embarrassed of Sunny when she had her kittens!”  *long pause, followed by trying again*  “I was so proud of Sunny when she had her kittens!”  (She was trying to say she was worried about her, since she had them when we were camping.

There was a month or two where we thought Evie had taken over the most intense chatterbox in the home.  Abby has since reclaimed her rightful title, but Evie definitely can hold her own in the talking department.  My brain feels like it’s exploding most of the day as I am bombarded with conversation nonstop, generally from more than one at a time.  I love Evie’s “Uh-huh!  That is really true!” face when she’s telling me something.

A real life Sunday morning breakfast shot taken by Cabz.  Hair undone, bibs all ’round, eating oatmeal on the kitchen floor.  This is generally where the kids eat.  Saves on the table mess at least!

Lately, Evie is extremely offended and upset when she is not invited to participate in a photo or is *gasp!!* asked to step out of a photo.  She is always trying to get in on photos not intended for her as well and often comes complete with a prop of some sort.  Oh, Evelyn Grace….

She’s still my little lover of sticks!  It’s rare that I look out the window and Evie isn’t carrying some sort of giant stick, waving it around dangerously.  Why.

Our little goofy babe.  Evie really is the queen of pokiness.  She is always the last one to get ready to leave/go to bed/go outside/etc., no matter how hard I try to get her moving.  I’ll send her to get her shoes on – she comes back wearing my shoes and giggling.  I send her to get undressed – she starts dressing a doll and forgets.  I tell her to get her jacket on – she has to pee!!  And then forgets.  I try to get her moving – she has a million questions and can’t focus.  She is actually ridiculous. haha  It’s probably good for me and my lack of patience, but OH MY WORD.  This girl is never in a hurry and is SO easily distracted and off task! haha  Good thing she’s cute as a button. ❤

Playing “Mama and Baby Diggers.”  This is how my girls play with Obie’s digger toys….. yup.

The two big girls really do have a lot of fun together these days.  There is still a decent amount of fighting, but overall they work pretty well together.  It helps that although Abby’s tendency is to boss and dictate, Evie will not have it and pushes her own opinions through defiantly most of the time.

I love when all the girlies are playing kindly together downstairs (rare).  This was one of those few times.  They all came up dressed like this. hahaha

Eliana used to love giving her sisters their wake up call when she slept in our room.  They’ve all been sharing a room since we moved (ahhhhhhhhhhhhh) so not so much anymore.

Peanut may have upgraded from the floor to a bunk bed, but she still has some weird sleeping positions.  This was a little rare actually.  Normally she is super bundled (to the point of sweating up a storm) in her blankets.

Evie’s naps have been all over the place for the last half year or so.  She went back and forth with napping, no napping, etc.  For the past couple months, we have been doing no naps unless she noticeably needs one (super cranky all morning haha) or church days when she stays up later.  So, on Wednesdays and Sundays she takes a nap.  This system has been working pretty well actually.  She has reached the point where she can make it to bed time without hitting a meltdown stage even without a nap, which is great news. haha  On nap days, she definitely has more pep, but I like skipping naps overall so she crashes shortly after going to bed.  It makes bedtime dreamy to have really tired kids, just sayin’.  She loves to half suffocate herself on nap days.  I always go in and remove things off her head after she falls asleep, because it worries me.  She’s ridiculous!  Usually, her head is completely buried or wrapped inside her blanket.  How is that even comfortable?!

Evie will often announce, “I’m NOT going to fall asleep at all!!” as she marches off to her naps.  This was one of those times…..

Just making Evie try on my old glasses, because I can.  Kids in glasses are so cute!  It can’t just be me….

Little Miss Cheeser.  She is so easy to pull a smile out of!

Sidewalk chalk is always a better idea before it happens.  They never play with it for more than a minute or two and yet somehow manage to get completely coated in chalk dust.  Really now.

Peekin’ from the hide-out under their bunk bed.

Going through their candy loot they picked up on our walk the day afternoon halloween…..  so much for skipping that party.

Evelyn knows her letters and sounds for the most part (there’s a couple she still mixes up occasionally) and can count at least to 12.  She gets excited about school, although her momentum fades a few minutes in.  She can be very difficult to keep on task. haha  We really don’t do too much school at this point with her, but she is making slow progress.  She loves listening to books now, which is a plus. 🙂

We love our little color blue loving Peanut!  She keeps every day exciting and has the most contagious smile ever.  She’s my cuddle bug and I love her big snuggles!  She’s a very sweet big sister and loves her family so much.  I love when she rides around on her bike singing, “Behold our God!!  Nothing can compare!  Come let us adore Him!” at the very top of her lungs.  So thankful to the Lord for this precious daughter in our family. ❤

Obadiah is Two!!

Here is one of this guy’s first public posts!  He is TWO and finally, officially ours!  God is pretty amazing!  Funny story, we actually took these two photos below in reverse order.  I took the one of Obie holding his name first and he was thrilled and so proud to get to hold the frame.  Afterwards, we had my brother-in-law, Justin, try to get one of the three of us where we held the sign (in front of Obie’s head, nonetheless).  Bad move.  He was throwing a fit back there and kept siting down.  It took a while to get him to stand long enough to snag the shot, but we made it happen. #reallifewithkids

*confession* Obie’s “handsome,” polished, black dress shoes were actually Elly’s sparkly black girl boots with bows.  Ya…. realized we didn’t have much to work with last minute since he wears his special made blue nikes with ankle braces 24/7 and has limited other options.  You can kinda sorta see them in all their bling glory here. haha

We had a wonderful time celebrating his adoption with family and friends (including our friend, Michelle, who kindly took this picture and the one above)!  What a blessing! ❤

Our little man was definitely worth the long, painful journey!

Obie weighs 25 lb 7 oz now and his hair is as orange as ever.

I know it’s typically called, “red” hair, but come on!  This is as orange as orange gets!!

Obie loves wearing hats.  In general, he tends to get really excited over what he’s wearing for the day.  I think he has a slight obsession with clothes because his sisters all have doll clothes for their babies and are dressing them constantly while chattering over it.

We got the 4 older kids matching lamby hats and he thought he was pretty cool wearing his.

Speaking of wearing stuff, I found my old pair of glasses (from college years, guys!  Yes…. my eyesight is failing and I need an updated pair desperately, but who has time for eye appointments?  I can hardly keep up with all the kid appointments in my life! haha) and as any good mom should, I forced my children to wear them for pictures because what is more cute than little kids in glasses?!  Really now….

Bath time fun!

Obadiah really likes his ducks in a ROW.  Some examples:  He is obsessed with music.  Whenever I sit down to play our keyboard, he comes and stands at my elbow.  I frequently play out of our church hymnal and often will sing while playing.  We also sing hymns every evening during our family Bible time.  Obie knows many of the hymns by heart, from the words to the music.  This kid seems to be somewhat gifted in the area of music.  He will often sing the note he knows is coming.  He also knows what I play for an intro and if I don’t start singing right away after the intro?  He will have a throw down fit.  He can’t handle it.  It’s quite interesting.  He LOVES to sing!

Other things that trigger breakdowns for this tot are when a sister is reading a book and then closes it.  He doesn’t like story time ending, so I’m guessing that’s why that bothers him.  Meals are also an intense time for this guy.  So far, he doesn’t seem to recognize stopping points, so his therapist still has me stop him once he’s had enough.  He almost always throws a fit when he’s done, even with prepping and verbal reminders that we’ll be finished soon, etc.  He still tends to do much better in a home setting with just his usual family members around vs. a public one or when we have guests over.  If I try to have a conversation while feeding him, watch out!  He will be super on edge because he anticipates me being way too distracted to remember giving him bites.  Oh Obie…..

Hanging with Grandpa is fun!

Obadiah was able to get to know Grandpa D. a little better when we went to visit him a couple weekends ago!

Poor Obs lives the life of a lone brother with nothing but girls about.  Here he is in his hand me down, pink toddler bed.  At least it hasn’t seemed to interfere with his naps….

Obie still  sees a physical therapist, although she now comes once every other week instead of weekly.  She said he will need some kind of foot braces for a while yet but hopefully can eventually move to shoe inserts.  We have more Iowa City visits scheduled for various things (a neurology appointment in April and a genetic counseling appointment to be determined).  Obie has been doing a lot better with walking, lately!  He has also started to prefer walking over crawling finally!  That was a slow transition for him, but we’re all very excited about it!

Even though my go-to mode for anything is FAST, it has been good for me to sloooooow down for this little guy.  Our grocery trips have been a little more tedious as I’ve been having him walk the entire time vs. riding in the cart.  He has to hang on to the front of the cart with both hands, but he plods along and I know it’s good for him.  He definitely prefers those times where he can sit and riiiiiiide through life, so he wasn’t too happy the first couple times I had him walk, but we managed and now it’s the expected norm.

Speaking of walking, I’ve also transitioned him out of the stroller (partly for necessity with our 4 month old, because I really don’t like using the carrier that much and partly because I knew he needed all opportunities possible to work on walking/endurance/stability/etc.).  The first time I had him walk our mile it took us (wait for it) 55 minutes!!  I almost died, guys, but I knew it was what he needed.  However, I am happy to report that the last couple walks, he was able to pull off a 30 minute mile and then a 28 minute mile the next day!  That is some serious improvement!!  The goal is to get him ready for hiking come warmer weather!

The outdoors have never been Obie’s favorite.  I have hope he will enjoy it more as his mobility improves, but in the summer he was ultra sensitive to the bright sun and in the winter he’s so bundled that moving much just doesn’t happen.  Sledding with help was fun though. haha

I think come spring he will be more ready!  His preferred choice is to just sit when we head out, which is one reason he really loves our cat, Sunny.  He can sit by her and enjoy her company while not moving a ton. haha

This kid has a glare to beat them all.  Caleb and I have to laugh because this look often comes before he smacks the floor defiantly.  (yes, we deal with the behavior, but it’s still funny because ooh ho!  You smacked the floor?!?  *Gasp!!*)

New Years Eve party ’till 8!!  Woooo!!

Brushing those pearly whites!

This kid always has plenty to say about who knows what! haha

Obs has quite the personality on him.

Wally World had an incredible deal on kiddie trampolines, probably leftover from Christmas, and we figured it would be an excellent gift for our son.  It was!  All the kids love it!  He can’t do too much jumping, although he gets a little done, but it’s been very good for him!  He climbs up and down on it, and the handle works great to support him while standing on the bouncy base.

Elly and him are hilarious on there together.

Those two can be quite mischievous together.  Here they were busy “helping” me with unpacking when we moved.

Obie loves being a big brother to our little baby girl.  He was totally obsessed with her when she came.  She shares his room so he’s not a lonely only in there.  He would hold her all day if I let him.

His favorite part of any day is getting read to.  He LOVES it.

Obie has been working on learning some letter sounds and colors.  He loves to learn and is always right a the elbow of whoever is doing school at the moment.

He’s a cutie and we’re sure glad he’s ours!

Okay, here’s my favorite picture ever of all four kids!  It’s next to impossible to get the girls and Obie to all cute smile a the same time, but this is the ONE picture where I actually managed to make it happen, all while taking the picture I might add.  #miracle  Let’s just all appreciate it, okay?  And realize it may never happen again.


Eliana is Twenty-one Months Old!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My lil’ baby is getting older!!  She may only weigh 23 lb 3 oz and be on the shrimpy side, but she has a mighty personality!

Double-chinnin goofy goober! ❤

Yes, I did the “make my kid wear my old glasses I found, because kids in glasses are adorable” thing for all my kids.  So, if you haven’t seen them all yet, yes, they’re still coming.  Just look at this little squish!  Cutest.

*Disclaimer* This next pair is definitely NOT mine, guys, but we had someone accidentally leave them at our house and this was necessary before returning them.  If only she knew how to make the, what’s it called? “duck face?”

We still call this little twerp, Jelly Bean, all the time.  It fits her perfectly.  I don’t think she even knows her actual name is Eliana because she is either referred to as Jelly Bean, Elly, Elle, Yelly, Jelly, or Baby.  Can’t win them all.

I’ve been trying to switch Elly over to wearing 2T lately.  The sleeves and pants are all a little long on her though.  18 month pants still fit her best. Some of the 18 month shirts were getting a little snug though.  This girl might be low on the growth charts, but she does have quite the pookey little belly. ha!  You can kinda see it in this picture.  She was lounging on the chair (sick) with her drink and I let her “use” Evelyn’s “computer” for a few minutes.  She couldn’t really figure it out, but she thought she was living it up BIG.

Speaking of getting dressed…. this is what it looks like when you ask Daddy to get one of the kids dressed.  She came out in her brother’s shirt, pantsless, and looking slightly confused.  hahahahaha

Jelly Bean is OBSESSED with footwear.  For a really long time, finding a pair of boots to wear was one of her first activities of the day.  She would put them on herself too, of course! (Miss Independent herself!)  Just drinking her morning keifer with her morning hair-do (Who am I kidding??  This was probably her all day hair….) while wearing her stylin’ boots!

These rain boots were Elly’s absolute FAVS for a while.  She was so attached to them, she often wore them all nap time. haha

This little girl is probably our most independent one so far.  She is much more ambitious than Evie was at this age and is always attempting (and often successfully so!) to do anything and everything.  She’s the child who is often discovered in the kitchen preparing herself a snack, or almost completely dressing herself for an excursion outside, the one who has been climbing up (and down) from the girls’ bunk bed for the past couple months, the one I actually have to go looking for because she’s off who knows where doing who knows what, the tot who gets all the toothbrushes and toothpaste at bedtime and brings them out to Daddy, and who already undresses/dresses herself better than big sister Evie could a few months ago. haha

Yelly has her own sense of style too.  As I mentioned before, that usually involves boots.  This is her modeling Evie’s pink cowgirl boots and a headband accessory she added on part way through the day.  Hey, if Mama doesn’t get your hair fixed, you just do it yourself around here!  Elly has been enjoying building Duplo towers for quite a while now.  This one even got graced with a cow!

A while back, when Elly first started realizing she could handle undressing herself, I would often find something like this when I peeked in on her before my bed time…..  Ohhhh, Elly! ❤

You might notice the diaper in the above picture.  Although Elly has been day and nap time potty trained for months now, she still gets a diaper overnight.  Mostly because I don’t want to get up to take her in the middle of the night and she is always wet in the morning, soooooo…. I’ll work on it eventually.  These were from a while ago at our old house.  Sometimes you just need to get comfy when you gotta go.

We had an extra nice winter day sometime back in January and spent some time playing on our tennis court (aka, bike pad).  Elly was stuck with a trike for the first part.  She was a little frustrated with it because it was so slow.

I thought she might be a little tiny for it, but I eventually brought down the strider to see what she’d do with it.  She hopped right on and with great determination was practicing for about 20 minutes before getting off again. haha  She was so smug about it, I could hardly get her to smile.  She though she was just like the big girls!  After observing the way her sisters were riding bikes, she decided to try picking her feet up at one point.  It didn’t go well, but there were no tears.  She just got back up and tried again.  I have a feeling this girl is going to master the strider soon after warm weather hits!

Elly Babe often wants to be big, big, BIG!  She loves taking care of our baby, which is adorable. ❤

She laid by her in the boppy pillow one day for about 20 minutes.  It was the cutest.

Sometimes she thinks she’s a bit too big.  Trying Daddy’s shoes on for size…

She loves taking care of her babies just like Mama takes care of our baby.  It’s so funny how kids respond.  When Elly was a baby and I was nursing constantly, my girls always had their shirts up feeding their babies.  Now that Elly gets to watch me bottle feed our little one, that’s the go to method. haha

She loves taking care of her babies.

This girl is a nuthead on our trampoline.  She loves to lift herself up from the bar and hang there and she can jump hilariously high.

Although she does like to be a big girl, every once in a while we have some reverting. hahaha  Feeling a little foolish lounging in the baby bouncer.

Putting on sock mitties like Baby gets to wear. ha

Sometimes you just need bundled and cuddled by your Mama.  Elly has been quite the cuddler lately, which I’ll take any day!  I love cuddle time and my kids are usually such busy babes they won’t sit still and cuddle.

In our old house, when Elly was still in a crib in our room (due to lack of space), one of our routines was getting her up and taking her in to wake up the big girls (who slept on the floor at the time ha).  They loved it.

I’m kinda obsessed with Elly’s hair in a ponytail and her sort of side bangs out.

This was Elly’s silly face she was super into for a while. haha  She couldn’t help cracking up over it too.

Ohhhh hats! ❤

For a few weeks, Elly went through a wake up early from nap and think she’s done phase.  I would bring her out to the living room because otherwise she’d wake the other kids with her screeching and she’d promptly cuddle up and pass out again.  She moved on, but it was kind of fun while it lasted. 🙂

Elly can be a bit of a bully.  I probably need to crack down on it a little more firmly so we can move on, but it never ceases to amaze me how she can bully her older siblings around.  I mean, she will be hitting Abby and Evie on the head with toys or shoving them or taking their stuff and they’ll be screaming for me to help.  Say what?!  You are like at least twice her size, guys!!  Come on now!  Pull it together girls!  Obie I can understand a little more.  He’s not quite as physically with it just yet.  For a while she would see him standing in the middle of the floor and run at him with arms outstretched and he’d be flopped to the floor.  Of course, this isn’t always the case.  Sometimes he will fake a shoving when I’m standing there and watching and Elly doesn’t even touch him, so they both have their issues. haha  These two have cute, playing together moments as well, which is always a nice change of pace.

Little snow monster cutie.

Sledding with Mama.

Elly and her snow baby.

Elly loves her Daddy. ❤  She saw him laying on the floor one day and thought he needed cuddled up, so she got her blanket for him.  Sweetest.

Bath time goofy hair!

Three little troublemakers in a tub!

We had pizza one night and this kid was just making me laugh.  Prancing around in her jammies, munching her pizza smugly…. what a goober.

Elly got to hang out with Great Grandpa D. when we visited Urbandale in January.

She ate in his old high chair too, because it’s tradition!

Little Miss was licking ice off the window and eating it one morning (ya…. our windows may all need replaced ha).

My slow teething kids…..  I think this is still about all she has in there! haha

Our four little tots. ❤

Elly is still a pretty silent Sal.  She will spurt little sentences out or a word or two here and there, but she doesn’t exert a lot of effort in the speech department.  This is often the face I get when I ask her to say a word.

However, when she WANTS to, she can really let the ol’ volume up.  Examples: in her bed after we lay her down for the night (“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!  MOM!!  MOOOOM!!”), screaming when her sisters take from her, or my personal favorite, her hymn singing.  She is still obsessed with holding her “hymn” book (usually a big, hardcover, collection of stories type of book) and belting out songs at the top of her lungs.  It’s pretty funny.  Some of the words you can pick up while she’s singing are hallelujah (ha-way-woo-ya!) and He’s alive! (Ee awive!).  This is not an angry face, but an intent, I’m singing VERY LOUDLY over here, face. hahaha

Our household has been GETTING it with sicknesses this winter.  It’s just like one thing after the next.  Little kids grubbing on every germ imaginable when we go anywhere will do that to you I suppose.  Phew.  Anyway, Elly picked up on my mode of coping when I’m in the throes and she often will say she’s “Code!” and grab a blanket and cuddle up on the couch.  Sometimes she’s feeling friendly and a big sister gets to cuddle up by her. ❤

Matching winter jammies are way too fun. ❤

Elly loves doing whatever her big sisters are doing.  She is never one to be left behind!  She’s starting to work on learning a few colors now (ya, I don’t work with her as much as I did Abby, buuuuut life, guys…) and told me she wants a kitty birthday when I asked her.  Way to go, Sunny, you are rocking our kids’ world.

This is often how Elly’s hair looks, because she isn’t a fan of me putting it in a ponytail and try as I might with consequences, she always rips out her hair tie at SOME point, unless it’s the little super tight rubber band kind and I get tired of putting those in and out.  They take some decent effort!

We love this little ball of fire!  She is a very busy tot.  One of her favorite activities is dumping puzzles out and putting them back.  The worst is when she dumps two at once…. ya, we’re working on that.  She’s a goober when someone says they’re going to tickle her.  She’ll shriek, “No, no, no, no, no!!” really fast.  I love asking her, “Do you know Mama loves you?” and she’ll squeak, “Ya!”  We love you always, always, always, Elly Belly!! ❤ ❤