Evelyn is Two!!


Our little Evie Grace.  She turned the big two.  Of course, every time I asked her how old she was turning, I’d get responses like, “Free!”  “I ONE!!” and “Four!” Age is just a number, right?


I always get emotional over my babies growing up.  The day before her birthday I kept taking “one last” pictures of my one year old.  Awwww.  Don’t turn two on me!!



I got her Daddy a little sentimental too, and he made off with some one year old cuddles.  I love how much our kids love their daddy.  He is the best.





Little Miss Trouble weighs 25 lb 13 oz.  She is speaking full sentences almost all the time now.


Evelyn is our wild child, our daredevil, our feisty, impulsive, happy girl.  She is determined to do everything Abby can do.  If I would have told Abby at this age not to do something because it was too tricky/dangerous/etc. she would have instantly believed me and never even given a thought to doing it again.  Evie is simply determined to prove to me that she CAN do whatever it is and takes every opportunity to do so.


Our (at the time) one year old, was the first one to climb over the tunnel on the girls’ playground.  Abby was so proud of herself, “I climbed over the tunnel just like Evie does!” when she finally became brave enough to try it herself a couple weeks later.


Evie LOVES to swing!  She would swing all day if I had the time to push her.




Her constant cry is, “Higher, Mama!  Higher!!”


Okay, I think this may be a “Mom thing,” although it could just be a “me thing”…… but I am obsessed with my kids when they’re sleeping.  They are just so cute!  I want to watch them and cuddle them and take pictures of them all day.  Yes… prepare yourself.  Here are SLEEPING EVIE PICTURES!!!!



When you fall asleep texting……


When you fall asleep on the phone……


Clutching toys is Evie’s way of drifting off.  I know she’s out when I hear them start to drop. haha


And your classic, and my personal favorite – butts up!


Speaking of sleeping pictures….. how dysfunctional is this sleeping arrangement??  Evie naturally wants to cuddle and moves towards Abby as the night progresses.  Abby naturally likes her space and moves further from Evie as the night progresses. hahaha  We have since gotten a bed rail for Evie’s bed too, which helps keep the girls contained to their spots.


When Evie is really excited (usually because a meal is being served) she will race around giving everyone hugs.  You know she’s SUPER excited when she voluntarily is bear hugging Abby.




Sometimes Evie will announce she is going to do her tummy time.  She takes it very seriously, and I don’t have the heart to to tell her she’s too old for tummy time now.


Our little tot has been whining a lot more recently.  Sometimes I will ask her, “Evie, why are you whining?”  Usually her response will be, “Cuz…. I so tiwerd.” haha  I think she’s heard us say, “You must be tired” one too many times.  She tries to use it a lot.  When asked to do something….. “I tan’t.  ‘Cuz I so tiwerd.”

Another classic: “Ev, go get your shoes so we can go outside for a walk!”  “No, I tan’t.  I tiwerd.”  “You’re not tired, silly goose.  Go find those shoes!”  “I jus’ so tiwerd.”

Or when Abby is teasing her….. “Bi’ Sis mae me tiwerd!!”  (Big Sis is making me tired!) haha

Some of my favorite Evie words and sayings right now are:

“Boo bites” – bug bites…. The other day she was mad at her bug bites and told me she was going to dump them on the floor!

“I nee my foo fwatter!!” – I need my flyswatter.  She loves that thing.  She actually took out an aggressive bee the other day!

“I’m trying my bes!” – I’m trying my best!  Love this one.

“macs” – gnats

“dandaid” – bandaid

“My muhkey’s havin’ tizzy.” – My monkey’s having a tizzy.  That’s my word for a hissy fit. haha

“yes!” – saying the full word, ‘yes’ instead of ‘ya’ all the time… it just sounds cute🙂

“I love you oooh much, Mama.”

“Thank you!” – She will always thank whoever prays for the meal. haha!  I think she’s so grateful when we’re done praying because it means she can finally eat.  She also thanks me profusely for food and was so cute thanking me for her birthday party preparations, which you can read more about here.


Feeding her baby – sometimes “Baby Rose” copying Abby, sometimes “Baby Eliana” like her sister.  Used to be “Baby Boy” all the time. haha  The other day Evie told me, “I just love my Baby Rose!”


Until next year, Summer.❤


Although our Evie Grace did a great job transitioning from the baby to a big sister, once in a while she needs a little extra babying.  I had started calling Elly, “Peanut,” every once in a while.  We used that nickname for Abby and Evie when they were babies too.  The other day, I said to Elly, “Hey there, Lil’ Peanut!” and I noticed Evie staring at us with a little scowl.  She saw me looking at her and she huffed, “No, I Peanut!!”  Also, the Bumbo isn’t just for babies……


I thought it was a given that our kids would all be “Millers” through and through.  Apparently not.  I said, “Well, hello there, Evelyn Grace Miller!” a couple days ago and Evie quickly responded, “I not Miller.  I Peanut.”  She is determined that her name is going to be “Peanut” from now on.  Okay then……



Daddy always has lots of little helpers!


Library Day is a favorite with both our older girls.  They love picking out books and reading through them all as soon as we get home.  Evie’s attention span was always much shorter than Abby’s, but she enjoys listening to books quite a bit now.



She also loves to read them!!!


Sometimes your baby needs to hear some stories too.


Evelyn loves playing in the sandbox and pretending to cook for me.  Her favorite things to whip up are pizza, sandwiches, and keifer.



Evs still is completely obsessed with drinking.  She would sit and guzzle all day long if she could.  I think she’d be perfectly content to live off a liquid diet.  Her favorite drink is keifer.  I mix up my glass of keifer every morning and always make sure to pour a little in Evie’s cup too.  As soon as I start the process, she is at my side, “You makin’ tef, Mama??”  “Yes, Evie.  I make it every day.”  “You makin’ tef for me, Mama???”  “Yes, Evie.  I always give you some.”  Every morning, man.  She acts like a coffee addict with her “tef.”  The other day she stretched her arms up as I was pouring her glass and with wild eyes she cried, “I NEE it!!” She also is a big fan of Daddy’s smoothies!


Jumping on the trampoline is the best according to our little tot.  I think she would jump all day if we had our own!!


I’ll let Abby and Evie play out in the yard quite frequently, while I am sitting right inside the door feeding babies or whatnot.  It helps them stink off out there and they absolutely love running and playing.  Evie hit a stage a few weeks ago where she wants to cling to me a bit more (my kids always seem to be hanging on me, but this is more so, just to clarify haha).  She’ll play outside for a few minutes and then need to come in by me, “‘cuz I cooode” – this being the excuse on really hot days too.  In and out.  She bops back and forth.  I guess she just needs that extra boost of security for now.



The girls’ pretend play has been improving each day as Evie becomes more capable of appropriate interaction.  Her favorite opening line, “Hi!  Wha yur name?”  Abby will respond and ask what Evie’s character’s name is.  “I Goat”  or “I Cow” is Evie’s constant name choice.  I love it.



When you get in trouble and your Mama tries to take a picture of you sitting.


Every once in a while, I catch an Evie expression that is totally a Caleb look-a-like.  I feel that this is one of those!


Talking to Daddy after he got off work – this is a fought over privilege!!


I do believe this is one of my favorite pictures.


Ev Babe loved our swimming pool when it was warmer.  She would hop in the freezing cold, straight out of the hose, water jumping and screaming away!  Splashing is so fun!!





Sweetcheeks went through her bug freakout phase earlier in the summer.  However, she had a change of heart after her big sister became bug obsessed and was constantly making pets of them.  During Evie’s “panic at all bugs everywhere” phase, this was a picture of her bug spotting after waking up from her nap.  This happened daily.  She wasn’t a bit bothered by sticking an empty cicada shell to her shirt though!



Our two year old loves to laugh!!!!  She is always ready to enjoy a silly joke, a bunch of tickles, or some goofy noises!



Evelyn still lives for Fridays, aka Popcorn Movie Night at our house.  Sometimes she will get upset with me when I announce what day it is (if it isn’t Friday obviously…) and will shout, “No!  It FRIday!!”


Miss Curiosity wants to know about everything.  I hear, “Whas dat sing?  Whas dat sing called?” almost constantly sometimes.  I don’t work with Evie on her numbers and letters nearly as much as I did with Abby at this age, because one kid vs. four.  Bam.  She surprised us the other day when she burst out counting and went all the way to ten!!  She loves to count everything now!  I made a few cds the girls listen to at night and did some counting rhymes in them.  Must have been inspiring. haha





My girls’ repetitive, sometimes over the top foolish, questions come at me SO fast and SO constantly, that I admit… there are times I might not answer one of them RIGHT AWAY.  When this is the case, Evie is quick to whine, “You nah talk oo me, Mama!!”  (You’re not talking to me, Mama!!)  Some days, the headaches are real. hahaha



My big girls have two modes.  Get along really amazingly well with absolutely no fighting or constant grouching and fighting over all sorts of nonsensical things.  The other day they were fighting over a toy bunny.  It was Abby’s turn, and Evie wanted the bunny.  Abby decided to switch things up and actually offered to share the bunny with Evelyn.  Evie promptly replied, “No!  I don’t wan’ tha bunny!  I subborn.”  She’s heard her big sister telling us, “Evie’s just being stubborn” one too many times when she refuses something she really wants.




Trucks continue to delight Evie’s soul.  She loves to watch them when they drive by outside, construction sites are her favorites, and she thinks her toy trucks are great!  I let her play with her dump truck during bath time a few weeks ago.  She had it full of water and I beeped it over and dumped it out on her leg.  She shrieked, “Don’t pour water my leg!!  Thas daerous!!” (dangerous)


Evie doesn’t handle Baby Boy leaving for his visits super well.  It has always stressed her out a bit.  She doesn’t quite get the concept that Elly doesn’t ever have to leave, but he does.  If she ever notices one of the babies is “missing” she has a mini panic attack, “Where BayBoy go?!  Where Ehyee go!!?”



I love that Evie is naturally a cuddlebug.  She’s a squirmy cuddlebug, but at least she loves to snuggle! haha


Evie loves to shout, “Don’t yeave me, Mama!” when we’re getting ready to go somewhere.  I would never leave her and have never told her I was going to leave her, but that’s what she came up with.  I find it kind of funny.


Cabz and I always talk up foods that are healthy and our girls picked up on that.  Now when I give Evelyn something to eat she loves to say, “Iss hewfy?  Is so hewfy!!”  The best was when she said this after the girls each got a cake batter truffle.  “No, Evie,” I had to break it to her, “No…. these are not healthy.” haha


On garbage day, I sometimes call the girls over to the window with, “Quick!  I see the garbage truck going by!!”  The other day, Evie came running up the stairs calling, “Quick!  I sirsty!!” (thirsty)


Evie continues to grow into her big sister role.  She will often hush the babies with, “Don’t cry!  Don’t cry!  Don’t cry!  Is’ okay.  Is’ okay.”


During the last couple summer months, Evie was obsessed with and sooooooooo proud of riding her strider bike every night after our walk.  Heaven help us if we tried to skip it.  She is really good at walking it, but hasn’t quite figured out she can sit on it and balance.  I think she’s close, but weather-wise I’m afraid she’ll have to wait until spring to consistently try again.



Probably Evie’s favorite and defining phrase of the moment is: “I do it mysewf!!!”  She already thinks she is way too big and can do it all…. without any help whatsoever.  Also, if Abby can do it?  You better believe EVIE CAN TOO.





Evie Grace, you are our spunky little daredevil child and keep our days from feeling dull.  You are so enthusiastic about life and always ready for some hugs.  You can always bring a smile to my face.  I love waking up each day with you in it!!  Love you, Lil’ Peanut!!














Evelyn’s Truck Birthday Party

Evie has been determined to have a truck themed birthday for the past few months.  We have three daughters and they pick trains and trucks.  Come on now, girls!  Give me a little pink and purple frills to work with! haha

I made some very etsy copied truck birthday invites, because it was fun.


Since Evelyn’s actual birthday was on a Friday this year, we decided to have her party the following day.  I’ll begin with an account of her actual birthday, followed by party festivities.

We started the day off right with breakfast shakes!  It’s a good day for Evelyn when she gets to eat a meal via straw.


Lamby needed something to drink too.


I sure do love my little two year old!!!!!!!!!!


Evie had a couple presents sitting on the table all day, waiting for her to open when Daddy got home.  I asked her, “Who do you think those presents are for??”  And she answered in wonder, “I on’t oooh!?” (I don’t know)  It’s been quite a while since we had any presents around, so she didn’t quite grasp the idea that there was something fun inside.  Abby was more impatient waiting for present time than Evelyn was.  Abby helped me wrap them and did a great job keeping everything secret from Evie.


The big two year old!!  She’s always sure to find the best sticks out in our yard.  Totally not a danger hazard at all in her hands…..


There were some extra trucks from the pack I got for cake decorating.  Evie put those to good use.


Finally Daddy got home from work and it was present time!  Abby jumped in to help a bit with the opening.



When we had asked Evie prior to her birthday what she was hoping for, her response was always, “I wan’ eggs!  And pizza!!  And ice cream!”  We were planning pizza and ice cream for party day, so the girl got eggs for supper on her birthday.  Chowing down on some turkey bacon.


After supper, we went for our routine evening walk.  We have to enjoy every chance we get at this point!  I asked Evelyn how she felt about being two now and this was her response.  Fair enough.


Our pony and calf (not so much anymore) friends were right by the fence to wish Evie a happy birthday of course.


It was a pretty perfect day to turn two.



Alright, birthday party time!  I was really excited to make Evie’s truck cake, inspired by some ideas I’d found on pinterest of course.  As I was setting out each cake decorating item, Evie kept exclaiming, “Thank you, Mama!  Thank you!” haha  I used yellow paper and electrical tape to cover a cookie sheet “construction truck” style.


The cake was your basic chocolate devil’s food cake box mix. haha  I wasn’t planning to decorate a cake AND make one from scratch.  I had frosted with the bottom layer a couple days ago.  I put on a second layer of chocolate frosting right before decorating.  First, I stuck alternating yellow and orange Reese’s Pieces around the edge.


Then, a row of crushed Oreo cookies – frosting removed – was the “dirt” on top.  I realized later that I should have tried to put them on around a two shape, vs. coating the whole top and then trying to scrape them off the two.  That got a little sketchy.  The cake kept trying to pull up and make a disaster.  I had to refrost the two for it to even show up and that was incredibly tricky with Oreo crumbs trying to stick all over.  It was a mess for a while there, but eventually I got ‘er done.  After placing a few “dee-gars” around, the cake was finished!!  Other then Caleb thinking I had made a “Z shape” on top the cake (come on now….) it turned out perfectly.


These traffic light treats were brownies with M&M’s frosted on top.



The girls enjoyed some pre-party balloon fun.  Elly was laughing so hard about all the balloons flying around!


My birthday girl was digging being two.


There were a lot of helpers making homemade ice cream for the evening.






They were especially available during the taste testing. haha



The kids all enjoyed playing in the yard before supper.




It was great to see this cute little brother of mine.  He is totally Opie Taylor’s look alike, right?!?  SO adorable.  He even mowed our yard.



We had a demolition site, complete with a wrecking ball.  The wrecking ball was a balloon filled with sand, wrapped in duct tape and hung by twine.  Evelyn was loving this, and cracked up laughing after she knocked over the boxes.  I just wrapped the boxes in packing paper with “bricks” drawn on.



I was in a hurry and had a little dumb-dumb moment with my wrecking ball prep.  I blew the balloon up, got a funnel spout in the opening, and dumped some sand in, hoping it would somehow empty in even though it was full of air.  Well, that turned out awesome.  The sand was just sort of sitting in the funnel and although I started realizing this was a really bad idea, I gave it a little poke…. still hoping it would seep in there somehow.  It seeped a little bit and then POOF!!!  It exploded out into my face.  Hindsight is 20/20.  I know.  You’re thinking it’s a bummer no one was documenting that moment with the camera.




Evie needed a tutu, just because, so I made her the only kind I could – an elastic band with tulle knotted around it. haha  I thought it was amazing because I can’t sew at all and it was something you could wear that I made myself.  Don’t laugh too hard.



This is how she was showing everyone how old she was.  Holding up two fingers on one hand was a little too tricky.


Two days of birthday festivities was starting to wear Evie out.  It’s hard to handle that much attention!


Birthday truck decor I made, inspired by (or completely copied from) the lovely pinterest.





Excited for cake time!!


The spread…..



It was worth the wait.


Balloons and presents in the house.



We love you, Birthday Girl!!  We’re excited to help you enjoy some good adventures and learn new things this year! ❤









Starved Rock State Park & Matthiessen State Park

In case you were wondering, this blog is my online journal with slightly filtered thoughts.  As a result, you’re going to get a lot of that mixed in with the pictures.  This isn’t one I’m expecting too many to read through, but I like to document/remember things and this is more doable than scrapbooking for me.😉

It was time for a vacation.  Other than a trip to Indiana (with only two kids to keep track of) to visit old college friends, we hadn’t really done anything worthy of the title “vacation” since our honeymoon to Colorado!  Partly, this was due to the fact that we lived long drives away from our parents (okay, like four hours, but with kids it felt really long) until the last almost 2 years.  We spent more than enough time traveling with kids and never felt too excited about doing more of it. haha  We haven’t had to drive too far recently though and that helped our motivation to make something fun happen.

Cabz and I both like the outdoor style of adventure and fun, but there are only so many options with four kids 3 and under….  After some online searching, and multiple recommendations from my aunt, we decided to try out some hiking at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.  One of the worst parts of vacationing is the drive, so this was a perfect option.  It was about an hour and a half drive for us.  Cabz has been really swamped studying for his next actuarial exam, coming up in early November, so I had to kind of head up the planning for this trip and make it happen.  First on the list, I had to make sure Trisha and Justin were on board.  There was no way we were going to get much hiking in if Evie had to walk the whole way, but we were both going to be carrying the babies.  Plus, a vacation with my sister sounded pretty great!  They said “yes,” and my planning began in earnest.

Initially, I was thinking a cabin would be fun.  I have been terrified of hotels since hearing one too many bedbug stories…. ugh.  I do not want to bring those nasty things home.  EVER.  A cabin sounded like the perfect option.  It wouldn’t matter if it rained.  Less stuff to pack.  What could go wrong?  Well, unfortunately, all the cabins we found nearby were already booked for one or both of the nights we had in mind!  On to plan B.  I decided, why not?  Let’s try tent camping!  We will have the initial costs of buying a tent, some stakes, and sleeping bags for the girls, but it will save money in the long run if we like it.  We can attempt future camping trips and make it count!  The weather could completely bomb this for us, but….. we’ll hope and pray for the best and see what happens!

We reserved our campsite around a month ahead of time.  If we cancelled it within seven days of the dates they would charge us for one of the days, which I thought was annoying.  You’re not going to be able to bail due to weather until almost the day before, so that wasn’t really helping us out much.  Since we were going out of state, we had to get permission to take our little guy along.  I had to contact my worker, who had to contact the judge, who had to give the okay.  I sent her the dates and didn’t hear back from her for a week or so.  I finally decided to e-mail her to check in, which was a really good idea.  She was going to be out of the office for a week starting at noon the day I e-mailed her!  She sent back the okay from the judge and all was good.

As our trip approached, I was getting SUPER EXCITED!!  I LOVE stuff like this, and we hadn’t been able to for so long.  I think it was just deciding to go for it with the realization that we were going to have rough nights and the kids weren’t always going to be perky and great, but it could still be really fun.  The couple of weeks leading up to our trip, the weather was GORGEOUS.  I mean, it was perfect.  Super beautiful, sunny days.  Perfect temperature for camping nights.  I was terrified to look at the forecast for our trip weekend….  Justin finally bit the bullet and looked it up.  Rain.  Cold.  It looked rough.  I asked a few people to pray for us to have decent weather anyway and we all kept praying too.  I checked the weather a couple times.  The day before, I looked and it was 90% chance of rain almost the whole time.  For Saturday, there was even a 100% chance over the lunch hour.  Are you even kidding me?  I told Cabz that night and he was a little worried.  I had seriously been looking forward to this trip almost every day since we booked the camping sites.  There was just no way I wanted to be on the safe side and call it all off.  I had spent days making a meals and packing list.  It was our last chance before it would be way too cold to take all the kids camping.  I had worked on packing all day.  I had bought all the food.  The kids were SO pumped!!  We decided to keep praying and go for it.

We headed out on a Friday morning.  Our hopes were high, but the sunshine was not.  We pulled out with a super cloudy, foreboding sky.  I called Trisha and we talked part of the drive.  They were going through drizzling and full out rain the whole time we were on the phone.  It started drizzling on us when we were about twenty minutes from the park.  I was trying really hard to stay positive and hopeful, but it was a little discouraging.  We didn’t really have a second plan.  We were hoping to hike.  If it was pouring rain, there was no way we could have fun sloshing through mud carrying babies and trying to keep everything breathable under drenched ponchos.  When we were about 12 minutes away, I saw a thin stream of brightness across the horizon.  Everywhere else was dark, gloomy, and it was still raining on us.  I excitedly pointed to the strip of clear sky and exclaimed, “See, Cabz???  THAT is the park!  God gave us clear weather, just like everyone was praying!”  He looked at me with his, “I really hope it is, for your sake, but…. maybe you shouldn’t have your hopes quite so high” look, but I was frantically hoping.




Guess what?  We got to the park and it really WAS clear.  It wasn’t sunny or super warm, but it was dry and the sky was less dark.  We arrived about half an hour before the Nelsons and used the time to potty everyone, bundle everyone up, and get situated.  It’s amazing how quickly our kids can completely eat up thirty minutes, one need after the next. haha  As the Nelsons pulled up, we realized it was virtually lunch time, and we weren’t really set up to haul our food out on a hike.  Everyone was hauling babies!  We headed over to the nearest shelter and enjoyed….

Meal #1: honey ham sandwiches.  Trisha was mid bite here, but Belle was loving her auntie, so it gets posted.  Sorry.


After finishing up lunch, we got our bearings, packed some snacks and water, and hit the trails.  When we first started out, it was downright chilly and we were all bundled up.  Surprisingly, it warmed up quickly and we were taking layers off before too long.  We checked out the Starved Rock Overlook to start with.



It was a lot of steps, which took a little finagling.  Trisha was limping a little with sore legs due to something with running (more reasonable, considering she is marathon training again), and I had my lovely runner’s knee thing going on (why? lol).  I pretty much tried to keep my left leg straight as much as possible during hiking, which was most exciting on the stairs.  The overlook hike wasn’t the best start, since it had a lot of high points and was generally a bit terrifying for me, but you’ll be happy to hear I survived.  We had Evie walk that whole thing, since it wasn’t too far and we wanted to wear her out a bit too.


After this, we loaded Evie up on Justin and went to check out Wildcat Canyon.  Evie was not happy about getting in the backpack carrier at first.  She hadn’t had enough warm up to Justin time, but I eventually distracted her with a fruit strip.  The best part is, she quickly decided she loved Justin carrying her around and we had to force her to walk once in a while.  Didn’t see that coming…… *rolling eyes*


Scouting out the map to decide where to go.


Hiking to the canyon.





Wildcat Canyon was really cool.  Of course, the pictures never do nature justice, especially when I had to use our lower quality camera.  It was such a fun area to explore.




The girls loved running around and finding things to climb on.  Of course, our little scientist (Abigail) was finding interesting bugs all over too.





Hiking selfie!


After Wildcat Canyon, we headed back to the vehicles to fetch a bottle for our little guy.  Bottle feeding is kind of annoying to me, since I’ve been so used to nursing my babes.  It’s so much easier not to worry about hauling bottles and formula all over the place!  It’s just one more thing to have to think about and plan out I guess.  Once we were at the vans, we were feeding and pottying kids left and right.  It was getting close to mid afternoon and we decided it might be nice to get to the campsite, unpack, set up, and get situated for the night.

Our campsite wasn’t part of the park (their campground was all reserved by the time we looked into it), but it was only about a five minute drive away.  We found it without a problem, checked in, and headed to our sites.  Disaster. haha  It was two, super puny spaces with absolutely no where to park, and of course coated in bugs.  We were trying to make the best of it, when Justin and Trisha suggested asking if there were any better spots.  Great news!  There were.  They had a lot of empty spots in the “Highland” area (I think we had reserved spots in “swampland”) and said we could take our pick.  It was about a hundred times better up there.  Less buggy, way bigger spots, lots of room to park.  We took some spots near a few trees and were feeling much happier.


We were grateful for Justin’s help with setting up our tent.  It was brand new and we would have done a trial set up if we were going on our own, but Cabz figured Justin would be able to help him out and he did.  He made it look easy to whip together.


The guys had a great spectator crew while they set up.


Snacks were a major highlight of the girls’ trip.


We bought an 8 person tent, and although we could have fit in something smaller, we enjoyed the size.  It held our pack ‘n’ play, rock ‘n’ play, two girls in sleeping bags, and air mattress (roughin’ it) very comfortably.


Justin set up a pretty sweet tarp rain shelter, just in case.


While he was working on that, the kiddies had fun on the playground close by.






Swinging is so fun!


Meal #2: Taco in a Bowl.  Justin brought along his “camping stove” and heated up the meat so we could really live it up.




We had some fun with the two hammocks the Nelsons brought along.




Getting the fire started on night one.



The girls enjoyed their very first s’mores!


They also had a blast shining their brand new flashlights in all of our faces….




The first night was pretty rough.  We usually try to space bedtime activities out, for a smoother experience with all our littles.  With the tent, we had to pretty much attempt everything and everyone at once, because once they were inside and in jammies, they couldn’t really leave it.  There was a decent amount of tears involved, but eventually everyone was tucked in and semi-quiet.  The “big” girls finally drifted off around 9.

There were a couple RVs in the Highland area, as well as one group of tent campers.  They weren’t right next to us, but close enough that we were kept up by their noise during our initial 1 1\2 hours of peace.  Paybacks are rough though.  Elly decided to wake up screaming at 10:30 p.m..  This created a chain reaction and our little guy started bawling as well.  I tried nursing Elly again, but she was livid that we weren’t at home like normal and she wasn’t about to quiet with that nonsense.  Cabz finally took her out for a stroll around the tent and that worked pretty quickly.  Realistically, there was screaming for about ten minutes straight, but it felt much longer.  Elly didn’t have anymore long screaming sessions, but to give you an idea of how my night went…… she woke up crying somewhere between 20 – 30 times and would ONLY stop with nursing.  PARTY TENT for the win.  I think the rest of the people in our tent slept pretty decently though.  Abby didn’t stir until morning.  Evie needed the potty once and whined maybe once or twice other than that, and Little Guy slept well after the first bawl session.  It drizzled rain a few times, but we stayed nice and dry.  We also heard an owl!  So….. we survived night one.  How does Elly look so wide awake and proud of herself while I was ready to fall over?


Meal #3: Fiber One bars, apples, cuties, bananas, applesauce squeezers, dry cereal bags, and raspberry yogurt muffins


We hit the trails as soon as we were up and going.


We stopped at Bowel Canyon…. er, I mean Owl Canyon on our way to LaSalle Canyon.







Back on our way to LaSalle.  We referred to ourselves as “The Baby Brigade.”  There were stairs in the beginning and end, but the middle was a pretty flat dirt path walk along the Illinois River.  We saw a MASSIVE dead spider on the way, which was mildly frightening.  Good thing we didn’t see any live ones….  ugh.




I find this picture so funny.


We made it to LaSalle Canyon!  This was my favorite place we saw at Starved Rock.  I am in love with water, especially waterfalls.  Abby was loving it too.  The two of us couldn’t get enough of it.  Justin ran into a guy who recommended we try Matthiessen State Park since it had some pretty great waterfall stuff.



After we hiked back, we had a break for lunch.  Abby got to ride for a tiny bit here.


This was the day there was a 100% chance of rain over the lunch hour, and it proved true.  The good news was, it started as we got to the vehicles and we managed to get the kids and food all under a shelter at the visitor center without getting noticeably wet at all!

Meal #4: Our own version of “lunchable” pizzas.  Pita breads, pizza sauce, diced ham, turkey pepperoni, and lots of cheese!



Every time we tried to eat food near the park, the bees were atrocious.  I literally popped open the pizza sauce lid and they were swarming us.  It was a bit annoying.  They never stung us, but were super aggressive about getting in our food.  They would fly right into it as we were trying to eat.  One flew straight into our pizza sauce jar and got stuck.  I promptly scooped him out with a spoon, and smacked the living daylights out of him with the shredded cheese bag.  Too bad I forgot he was covered in sauce.  It was a little bit of a splat.  Oops.



After lunch, filling the babies up with milk, and potty breaks, we were trying to figure out what to do.  Although the weather had held out AMAZINGLY for us so far, it was raining pretty solid at this point.  We went back and forth, and finally decided to check the prices on an indoor amusement park nearby.  None of us were super excited about that, but our options were limited if we couldn’t hike.  We got a little lost trying to find it and the rain was looking like it might stop, so we decided to head to Matthiessen State Park and see what happened.  Miraculously enough, the rain cleared out for us yet again as we pulled in to the park.  Thanks to everyone who was praying, because we should have been rained out almost the entire weekend.  Instead, we were blessed with dry weather aside from the little spell over lunch on Saturday!!

We hiked about half of Matthesian on Saturday afternoon.  It was quite a bit smaller than Starved Rock, but SO much more fun we all agreed!!


My absolute favorite hike of the weekend was to Lake Falls.  It was so. much. fun.  SO MUCH FUN.
The whole thing was through and near water.
This would have been an absolutely soaking wet hike if we went in the spring.  As it was, we had a few close calls as we had to leap across a whole bunch of little rock paths through water (some were like these placed stones, others were natural rock paths), all while holding babies.  Some were easier, but some were pretty sketchy.  Justin would lug both our big girls across each time. haha  He had Evie in the pack and would hold Abby.  I have some pretty great videos of that!  None of us ever slipped in, which was pretty amazing. haha
When we got closer to the falls, we reached a point where we couldn’t progress unless we went through water.  The others were fine taking the view from where we were, but Abby and I decided to go barefoot through the chilly water and get a closer look!  It was the best.  Abby told me, “We are just having such exciting hikes!  Everywhere we go, we see waterfall, waterfall, waterfall!!  I am just loving it!”
After enjoying the beautiful Lake Falls, we headed back to the campsite.  We had Evie hit a few stairs on the way out.
Abby enjoyed gathering sticks, er…. twigs, for the campfire.  She thought she was quite the helper.
Meal #5: brats!
We left all the kids with the guys while we drove down to the showers to rinse off quick.  Boy, that was a mistake.  Those showers were RANCID.  Seriously, the water stunk like rotten sewage.  Trisha was laughing at me dry heaving the whole half minute I was in there.  Just enough to wash the bug spray off. haha  Yuck.  You don’t feel “clean” from camping until you get a nice, warm shower back at home.  Feeling grimy is just part of the experience though, right? haha
Another quick round of s’mores and flashlights and it was bedtime again.  This night went about a million times better.  The kids were all exhausted from hiking outside all day and crashed pretty quickly.  Elly did waaaaaaaay better and only woke up unhappy about 5 times and nursing put her right back to sleep.  Five times sounds like a lot compared to my normal nights at home, but after the previous camping night where it was almost constant….. five felt awesome.  It’s all about perspective. haha
The next morning, we were quite a bit slower getting going.  The guys had to load everything up and Cabz had to rearrange our van so we could fit everything back in.
Meal #6: not pictured, but a repeat of the previous breakfast.
The kids enjoyed hanging out and doing a little hammock swinging.
Okay, how cute are these two cousins?!  I told Trisha we had to have them twin it up while we had the chance. haha  SO ADORABLE.
Evie was being stubborn about getting in the hammock, simply because people were trying to talk her into it.
I eventually won her over though and she caved and loved it as expected.
Abby mimicking her doofus uncle peering over the hammock. hahahahahhahaha
Photobombing for Trisha’s viewing pleasure. LOL
Fake sleeping mugger.
 We were finally ready to head out for our last hiking adventure before home.
We did the second half of Matthiessen, with the highlight being Cascade Falls.  There were a ton of pretty cool caves all around the falls, which were neat to explore.
The girls did pretty well on our trip.  Evie was a little rough the first night with having to skip her nap and Abby started getting pretty bucky the last day due to lack of sleep, but overall they had pretty impressive attitudes for being so little.
Abby hiked almost the entire time on her own two feet!!  We did about eight miles altogether.
Meal #7: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.  This was the one thing I forgot to pack…. a knife.  Justin improvised with a spoon. lol
Our babies wouldn’t smile at the same time, but they’re still cute as can be.
He got the babies while Cabz photographed for us.🙂
Heading home, still smiling.  I’d call that a success!  Abby declared she wanted to do “five more nights of camping!!”  Maybe next time, dear.
I asked the girls what their favorite part of our trip was.  Abby, “I loved all of the waterfalls and water!!”  Evie, “Riding the backpack on Justin!”  No surprise.










Down and Out for a While

Well, I continued my running all summer.  One mile a day.  Fridays off. It was going well for the most part.  I lost 16 pounds, meaning I still need to lose 6 to hit my goal weight.  The plan was to keep it up until I hit that weight.  Unfortunately, I have had a bit of a setback.  Yes…. I got a running injury.  It feels dumb to even say that out loud.  I was running one mile a day – and got a running injury!!  How does that even happen?!  I feel like I didn’t deserve to get injured with how little I was doing, but annoyingly enough, that is exactly what happened.

I noticed some pretty uncomfortable knee pain, especially in my left knee, a few weeks ago.  I ran through it, took my day off, ran through it again (much worse this time), and couldn’t do it the following day.  I tried a few times, but my body just wasn’t going to get it done.  It was hurting pretty solid.  I decided to quit running for a couple days to let it rest and hopefully get back to it asap.  That’s not what happened though.  It kept hurting, and had a lot of swelling as well.  My whole knee cap area was pretty rough pain-wise.  Going up and down stairs was super painful, I couldn’t sit cross-legged, or bend my left knee much at all without quite a lot of pain.  Even walking with the girls was no fun, although I still managed to get that done because… sitting in the house all day with my nutty bunch?  Not on your life.

A couple weeks of no running, trying to baby it, keeping it straight as much as possible, and it wasn’t getting better.  We finally decided I should try a physical therapist, because taking care of kids all day with a bum knee you can’t bend without hurting?  It was wearing on me.  He said I had (I forget the long name and don’t want to google it) “Runner’s Knee,” which is what my P.A. brother-in-law, running fiend sister, and her runner hubby all thought too.  He told me not to run on it until it’s better (I tried multiple times…. it wasn’t happening anyway), that I need to rest it (ha), should ice it, and gave me some stretches to do.  Apparently this was brought on by putting too much strain on my knees while running, over striding, and having a weak “hip area” (aka butt).  Cool stuff.  Too bad I’m impatient, and don’t want to take off a bunch of time to get over this.  I am a little frustrated with this, but at this point I just want my knee back to normal.  You always appreciate your body more when it’s not working right.  You think about how nice it was to have two knees that didn’t hurt every time you had to hobble down the stairs with a giant load of laundry. haha Hoping to move past this soon!  For now, I am seeing the physical therapist once a week and trying to do my homework.

Top Ten Tips for Camping with 4 Children 3 and Under

Technically, we were camping with 5 children 3 and under, but we were “only” responsible for 4 of them.


Tip #1

Don’t do it.  Okay, it really was a lot of fun, but you have to realize you’re going to need a few days to catch back up on sleep afterwards. haha

Tip #2

Always stay more than one night.  This might sound funny, but the first night is the worst!  At least one of the babes is going to be bawling 90% of the first night because it’s strange and different.  After everyone is sleep deprived and exhausted from the activities the following day, that second night is going to go about 10 x better.  You’ll leave, remembering your trip a lot more fondly this way.


Tip #3

Put almost dead batteries into the kids’ flashlights.  They shine them all over the place, yet they’re always directly in an adult’s face.  You hand over brand new battery filled flashlights and someone’s leaving the trip half blind.


Tip #4

Start your packing list about a week ahead of time because you’ll keep remembering crucial items throughout the week and you’ll never regret bringing them.

Tip #5

Bring a ton of food.  Being outside all the time, everyone gets a lot more hungry than normal!


Tip #6

Fill the biggest water jug and all water bottles you’re bringing with water prior to leaving.  Camping water can be nasty.

Tip #7

Pack too many outfits for each kid, especially if the weather is going to be cooler, because they will continually get sopped in muddy water.  They find it, however elusive.


Tip #8

Plan at least 3 hours of getting ready time for each morning, because that’s how long it’s going to take to repack the minivan for the day and get everyone pottied, dressed, fed, and pottied again.  The good news is, if you really hurry, you can get out there and do something fun for about 20 minutes prior to lunch!

Tip #9

Get one of those extra luggage container things that hook on top of your vehicle.  We did not have one and we literally had to repack the minivan every time we tried to switch activities because it was so full we couldn’t keep it organized from one adventure to the next.


Tip #10

Have fun and don’t forget the diapers, wipes, and portable potty (seriously a life saver)!

Bonus Tip: Camp as far away from other campers as possible.  They will stay up way too late partying and make your kids scream louder and they will hate you when your kids wake them up after they finally DO go to sleep.

We called ourselves “The Baby Brigade.”


We had so much fun and got in about 8 miles of awesome hiking over our long weekend!  Abby hiked almost the entire time on her own two feet.




We saw waterfalls (Abby’s and my favorite!!!!!!!!!), canyons, and caves!  It was a great trip to remember.🙂



Eliana is Five Months Old!!!!!


Ohhh, Elly!  That’s what I often find myself saying to our littlest tot.  I set her down to try and get something done quick.  She promptly starts whining.  Ohhh, Elly!  haha  I sure do love holding this sweet baby though and wouldn’t set her down if I didn’t have to once in a while.  She is usually such a sweet, happy girl.


Eliana is weighing 13 lb 12 1/2 oz as of this morning.  I’ll have to update where she’s at on the growth charts after her approaching doctor appointment.  Her “4 month” was scheduled a tad on the late side.


A few 6 month, but mostly 6 – 9 month clothes are what Little Elly has been fitting into lately.  I need to go through her clothes (again – feels like I am constantly going through the kids’ clothes, moving old out, moving new in…. oh wait…. that’s because I am) as I have noticed she’s outgrowing the sleeves on quite a few things.


Elly still eats about every 2 hours during the day.  She usually gets up around 6:30 or 7 a.m.  She crashes for the night around 7:30 or 8 p.m., although I wake her up to eat again right before I go to bed.  Our tot was doing awesome sleeping through the night for a long time, but once in a while she will wake up to nurse around 4 in the morning.  Of course, my sister jinxed us and after she told me her baby was waking up at 2:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., Elly did the same thing for a few nights.  I think we’re back to normal now, but I better not speak too soon….. haha


When you’re awful sweet and patient, but Mama is taking too many pictures!  The yawn face kills me every. single. time.  THOSE EARS!



Elly Hope thinks sitting is so much fun!  She can’t do it for very long, but loves to practice!


Standing up so tall is a continued favorite pastime.



Chewing, chewing, chewing on hands, toys – everything!  No teeth yet, but my girls are usually late in that area.



Sweet lil’ pumpkin pie!



All the frills!


I still can’t believe I got two dress pictures where Elly wasn’t chewing on them.  This never happens.


The face you make when your overly enthusiastic, big sister Evie is barreling towards you to give you a hug. hahahahaha


Cuddles with Abby.❤


There has been a significant change while carrying Elly around in my sling.  She still loves it, but I now have to be constantly on guard.  She is ever on the look out to kick or snag any and everything I let within her reach.  She loves nothing more than grabbing something off a table as I’m turning to do something.  She’s a quick, sneaky little bugger! haha


This baby can be quite loud and expressive when she wants to be!




Laughing is still super cute and the big sisters still have the best luck getting her to laugh.  Why are they so much more funny than me?!  Personally, I think I’m a riot.


When Mama puts a cute hat on you….




Somebody has been very excited about Daddy time lately!  She gets so giddy when she sees him after work.  I love it!


Elly has been rolling around and scooting a lot more.  She easily rolls from her tummy to her back and loves to be up on her side.  Her squirming is quite impressive too.  If I set her down, she won’t stay in the same place for long!  She has definitely figured out that she can move.



We went to the zoo a couple weeks ago and I snapped this picture on the train.  I love it because both girls are smiling and you can see how much they look alike at the moment!  Oh, and there’s a pretty handsome fella with them too.😉


If I’m holding Elly while I eat, she thinks she needs to have some too.  I often give her really tiny pieces of things I’m eating.  She was hoping to swipe my bowl of apple oatmeal the other morning.  If that doesn’t make you feel guilty…..




Sisters are the best!!!!!!



Triple Trouble!!!


Our baby girl loves swinging and stroller rides and being outside!  We are going to miss our summer days.


Elle Babe discovered her feeties a few weeks ago and thinks they’re pretty great.




I love spending time with our kids and this sweet baby always puts a smile on my face.  We are so thankful for you, precious baby!❤





Bacon Cheeseburger Quesadillas

There are a couple of meals I make more often, but in general you won’t see a repeat meal around here for at least a few months.  I love variety when it comes to food!  I also love almost all food, and there are just not enough meals in the day sometimes to enjoy it all. haha!

I quickly realized I had not made quesadillas for waaaaaaay too long (if I’m remembering correctly, it’s been close to 2 years now).  Abby was almost beside herself with joy when these appeared for supper.  I don’t think this stopped the entire meal, “Mama, I am really loving these!  These are my favorite food.  These are just my favorite.  I am really liking these ‘dillas!  I’m just scarfing them and eating more, more, more!! etc.”  If you ask her right now what her favorite food is, it will definitely be ”dillas.”  She wasn’t the only one who enjoyed these.  They were pretty great!  Thanks to, Mantitlement, for the idea!

Bacon Cheeseburger Quesadillasbacon-cheeseburger-quesadillas

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 strips of turkey bacon
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas
  • shredded cheddar cheese

Brown beef in olive oil until done.  Add in worcestershire, ketchup, cream cheese, and seasonings until well blended.  Spoon into a separate dish and set aside.

Use the same pan to cook the bacon strips until done.  Remove to a plate and crumble when cool enough.

Carefully use a napkin to wipe out the frying pan.  Put it back on the heat, melt some butter in it and set one tortilla in.  Spoon about a fourth of the meat and bacon on top.  Sprinkle with as much cheese as you like and cover with a second tortilla.  Press down with a plate.  Cook for about a minute and check.  If the bottom is done, flip it over and cook for another minute or so.  When done, set on a plate and start the next one.

One of the things I loved most about this recipe was the cream cheese in the filling.  It not only made them taste crazy delicious, but it helped the filling all hold together through the flip.  I have never made quesadillas that were so easy to flip!  I had very little filling spill out and it made me want to make this recipe again soon!  Hopefully it won’t be 2 years before I make these again.  They deserve to be eaten more often.🙂