if you give a kid a cookie (weekend)

We kicked off our weekend with a Friday-night Hokie football game! Kaya was more into reading books than actually watching, but she still loved cuddling up with Daddy and staying awake a little past bedtime.

On Saturday morning, Michael took Kaya to another Lowe’s Build and Grow activity. This one was a “haunted birdhouse” for Halloween! She was so proud of her handiwork and keeps opening up the roof while telling us “I want to catch a birdy!” Kaelyn and I had a fun hour at home together, although I didn’t take any pictures (whoops). We worked out our abs, and she played with any toys she wanted to without having to share with anyone.

After nap time on Saturday, we ended up running a ton of small errands around our local shopping center. Michael was pretty much my chauffeur, and that made it a whole lot easier to just run into stores super fast without having to unbuckle, re-buckle, and carry kids in and out of everywhere. Thanks buddy.

Of course, we had to spend some time playing on the playground at the mall and getting some dessert. :)

If you give a kid a cookie… you’ll have to clean the frosting off of her face and jammies. Whoops.

Sunday was church, and these sweeties were so exhausted by the end of it. This might sound crazy, but I am so excited that we have 9 am church again in a couple months. It will be so much easier on all of us when we can have our regular naptime.

five on friday (10/09)

Happy Friday! Our week felt busy and flew by. Here are my favorite little moments:

ONE. Every morning when I get her out of her crib, she always has the biggest grin, and sleepy, happy eyes.  I love lifting her up into a big hug and planting a bunch of smooches on those soft baby cheeks of hers._MG_9465_MG_9467

TWO. Michael’s parents were here at the beginning of the week, and took us out to Cracker Barrel one night! I had my fill of my favorite mac and cheese, and Kaya actually ate a TON of food. Win win. She also loved playing the little peg puzzle game.

THREE. If you go to Cracker Barrel, you are required to goof around in their store before and/or after the meal. Kaya had fun trying on a Halloween witch’s hat! (photocredit to my Dad-in-law, obviously, because I was too busy photobombing this with my legs…) :)

FOUR. Someone figured out how to ride the rocking horse on her own (although she still needs help getting on and off), and she’s in love. One more horse girl for the family! 😉_MG_9471 FIVE. Because guinea pigs and burlap and fall flowers all together are pretty much an explosion of cute._MG_9480

Happy weekend!

Linking up here today!


We’ve enjoyed some special visits with both sides of the family over these past couple of weeks. Our parents all live a few hours away, so we don’t just get to see them all the time. My mom tries to come up a few times a year, and we see Michael’s parents every couple of months or so._MG_9233

Now, the sweetest part of these visits is watching my girls love their grandparents. I am amazed at the instant bond they seem to have with each other- my shy, cautious little girl instantly gives hugs, kisses and cuddles as soon as they walk through the door. She cherishes any surprise they bring for her and takes full advantage of their willingness to play with her.

I just love the level of comfort that my babies automatically have with their grandparents, even though they don’t see each other all the time.Processed with VSCOcam with m4 preset

And of course, I love the level of silliness that only a grandpa can incite! :)_MG_9454

conference weekend

We had a fantastic weekend, filled with plenty of family time… and RAIN! I had a nice, chilly run in the rain on Saturday morning, but I’m so glad the worst of the weather skipped over us.

Friday afternoon, we walked over to the grocery store, and I let Kaya pick out a mini pumpkin to paint. She asked to paint it all day long, but there just wasn’t time after we had naps and dinner. On Saturday morning, she was more than ready to get started! I have never seen anyone so excited to paint a pumpkin! :)_MG_9404 She really did a fantastic job, if you ask me._MG_9403We also enjoyed watching General Conference! I love hearing from our modern-day Prophet and apostles. There were so many inspiring quotes, but this was a favorite of mine:12108996_10153551990901550_540695057927460055_nMichael went to the priesthood session late on Saturday night. He came home with the brightest flowers I’ve ever seen in his hand- a surprise for me! He chose these for me because he felt they reflect my “colorful and energetic personality” and wanted to make me smile. Awww. _MG_9415 We all slept in on Sunday morning (that’s no small miracle around here), and I whipped up some donuts for a special breakfast. Kaya insisted on putting the sprinkles on by herself!_MG_9408 We enjoyed more of Conference cuddled up on the couch together. I love these crazy cuties._MG_9421Lest you think we’ve become too serious… _MG_9427 Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip came into town late Sunday afternoon, and they had some birthday presents for Kaya. She was so excited for it to be “her birthday” again and is over-the-moon in love with this Baby Margaret (from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood)._MG_9447Kaya ended the weekend by making up her own song about brushing your teeth:

she made up her own teeth-brushing song! I'd say she has some talent :) 10.04.2015

A video posted by Tara (@tarairwin) on

five on friday (10/02)

Happy Friday everyone! We’re looking forward to a weekend of General Conference and staying out of the rain (and hopefully Hurricane Joaquin really does keep out of our neighborhood)!

Here are my favorite things from the week:

ONE. Oh, sisters… I love how much these two adore each other (I know, I know, the teenage years might be a whole different story). Kaya saw me taking Kaelyn’s monthly photo and wanted to take one with her. Kaelyn tried to give her big kisses as soon as they were both sitting down!09302015collage1 And then the most adorable hug ever happened…_MG_9395TWO. I took my two monkeys in for their 3-year and 15-month checkups this week. Daddy didn’t come with us like he usually does, and Kaya always gets so upset around doctors and nurses, so I wasn’t sure how handling both kids alone would go. Well… Kaya didn’t cry! She did everything they asked her to and really surprised me with how calm and grown-up she acted. I guess she really is a big girl now!

THREE. I signed Kaya up for a short gymnastics course that begins in a couple weeks. She is beyond excited and just keeps “doing gymnastics” all over the house. I think she’s really going to love it!

_MG_9338FOUR. This totally makes me sound all housewife-y, but I bought a steam mop on sale a few weeks ago, and it finally came in the mail. I always use too much water with a traditional mop, and it takes forever to dry (not to mention creating potential water damage). It’s nice not to worry about chemicals on the floor or a bucket of water sitting out with little kids. I think getting excited about a mop officially makes me an adult though… bleh.

FIVE. Yeah, we all knew it was true, but it’s official: I’m the second favorite around here. Daddy is the best of course :)

Linking up here today!

kaelyn: 15 months

_MG_9374Height: 30 inches (36%)
17 pounds 10 ounces (0.55%)
Head Circumference:
17.75 inches (27%)
Clothing size:
 Although her 12-month onesies were still fitting well, I switched all her clothes out for 18-month size stuff, mostly because it isn’t summer anymore and we needed some warmer items.
Eyecolor: Blue.
Teeth: Just the four still!_MG_9367Eating: She’s still nursing 3-4 times per day, and she has been eating as much as she wants at mealtime. She really loves any kind of shredded chicken (tacos or Hawaiian haystacks), any flavor of Greek yogurt (besides coconut), grapes, and olives. She also liked trying pumpkin bread!

However, we saw a different doctor than we almost always do (at the same practice) for her 15-month appointment, and she did show some concern about Kaelyn’s weight (even though her height went up). She suggested really trying to put some weight on her between now and her next appointment at 18 months, or they want to start doing some tests to be sure there isn’t a thyroid problem/growth-related issues.

Of course, as her mom, I have been a little worried about all of that and am trying hard to get her to eat more solids (she just doesn’t put a whole lot of food down). She will eat if I keep spooning it in her mouth, but it makes her so sad, so I’m not enthused about it either. Make her eat to prove to this doctor that she can grow, or let her continue to eat as she wants? I’ve always been more of a “hands off” kind of mom so this decision has been harder to navigate.
New words:
 New things she’s said this month include Baba (her nickname), Mama, hello, and she now growls like a baby dinosaur when we ask her to/Kaya is pretending to be a dinosaur too.
Favorite things:
Her stuffed Piggy, pushing the toy shopping cart or baby stroller around, riding in the cozy coupe car or even just sitting in it, and pushing any toy car around. She can entertain herself by reading a book for an extensive length of time, too.

This is also really random, but she LOVES this wedding photo I have sitting on my nightstand, and asks to hold it just about every morning when she wakes up. Sweet girl._MG_9160Dislikes: Getting her face wiped and laying down for diaper changes.
She goes down around 7:30 pm and gets up around 6 or 6:30 am typically. Sometimes she’ll fall back to sleep in the morning or still take her little power nap around 10:30 am. It seems like she’s been able to start going without that extra nap lately, though. Official naptime is around 1:30 and she’ll typically sleep for about 3 hours.
Baba, Baba Grace.
Milestones, etc.:
-She is WALKING! She is trying so hard and is able to take a few steps on her own with no support from anyone or anything. She also stands up all on her own (no grabbing onto anything or pulling up) from a sitting position.

-She loves to push the doll stroller around and can go from one end of the house to the other, and even pivots to turn around without falling down!_MG_9329-She loves to show us where her belly button is when we ask… :)_MG_9386-She can actually feed herself pretty well with a spoon! She doesn’t make a mess until she is tired of eating and gets bored.

-She’s made up her own sign for “more” (and it’s always the same)- she holds her hand out, makes a fist, releases it, and then does it again. So cute.

-She is SO sensitive to any kind of “negative” speaking (i.e. “no”, “don’t do that”, etc.) and will bust into tears so easily. Poor sweet baby. I feel especially bad for her when Kaya overreacts to something and makes her so upset.

-She loves “pretending” to wash her own hair, brush her hair, eat food, etc.

-She is always trying to get herself dressed! Anytime she sees something fall out of the (clean) laundry basket, she tries to put it on, whether it’s her shirt, Kaya’s pants, or even… Kaya’s underwear. Hahaha._MG_9163Dear Kaelyn,

Oh sweet girl, you are still so mild-mannered, calm, and easy-going. You love everyone and make so many people happy just by being around them.

Whenever Daddy gets you out of your crib in the morning, he carries you, holds your hand, and whisks you to whatever room I’m in to immediately say hello. You are always beaming with delight when our eyes meet for the first time that day.

I can’t get over how beautiful you are, especially when you’re smiling. I don’t really think you look like anyone in the family in particular, but you sure are cute as a button._MG_9324I love you Kaelyn Grace. Keep smiling.

Love, Mommy

daddy-daughter time

There’s something so amazing about seeing your child’s beautiful, smiling, happy face.

And then there’s something even more wonderful about watching your child beaming from ear to ear because she’s having fun with her daddy.

One of my very favorite things about motherhood is being able watch my husband enjoy fatherhood. Seeing our little girls scramble for the door when he comes home, hug him, climb all over him, and snuggle up to him warms my heart.

I love how they trust him and know that he’ll always be there for them.

Michael has been having some great daddy-daughter time with his girls lately. Last weekend, he took Kaya on a “date” to a free Build and Grow activity at Lowe’s. They were building a toy firetruck and Kaya could not have been more excited.

Michael said that she was a little apprehensive of all the hammering at first, and he did most of the real building, but she helped put the stickers on it. She was so excited to drive it around before the wheels were even on!

collage109262015They had so much fun together and she was so proud of her new firetruck! She couldn’t wait to show her stuffed animals (and mommy, too)! :)

As soon as he arrived home from work yesterday, Kaya shouted “Have a picnic with me, Daddy!” and all three of them sat down on a blanket on the kitchen floor, prayed, ate invisible food, and drank pretend juice._MG_9356 I love my three sweethearts and the way they care for each other._MG_9360

five on friday (09/25)

We’ve been spending most of our week playing outside (in drizzle or sunshine), so I just have a bunch of phone pictures for you this week. They might not seem very momentous to anyone, but being outdoors with my kids is my definition of happiness, so these are some of my favorites.

ONE. This is the first year that Kaya has been so aware of the change in seasons. She was fascinated that so many leaves are now on the ground instead of on the trees! She might have carried this one all the way home to show Daddy.
TWO. I feel like this photo perfectly sums up their sisterhood: the little sister looks to the big one for guidance and direction, and the big sister tenderly takes her by the hand and makes sure she’s safe. All while pretending to nurse Kitty, because he was hungry of course. Haha.

THREE. My dad restored this old tricycle to give to all his grandchildren, and since Kaya is the oldest grandkid, she obviously has first dibs. She had her very first ride on it this week and absolutely loved it. We didn’t think she’d make it very far, so she truly surprised us when she pedaled for about 1.5 miles. My kid is hardcore.

FOUR. I have the cutest baby ever… and I just can’t get over how adorable she looks with these little neon sneakers that I picked up for $3.50. Her shirt says #toocute and I think it’s spot-on accurate. :)

FIVE. Because we all know how obsessed I am with these Google video compilations… and you know you want to see three crazy girls go down the slide all at once…

Happy weekend everyone!

a “rainbow rainbow cat” birthday party

I can’t believe it, but Kaya’s 3rd birthday party has already come and gone! It always feels like I spend more time preparing for it than the amount of time the party actually lasts.

This year was the most fun by far, because she had been asking about her birthday for months (especially after seeing Kaelyn have a special cake and presents). She all but counted down the days… she was so excited! When she woke up on Saturday morning, she immediately looked down the hallway to see if I decorated… and the biggest grin came over her face when she saw the streamers. She ran through them and excitedly proclaimed “it mine birt-day!” several times.

Michael took her down to the local bakery (a.k.a. the best place in town) to get some special birthday donuts. Can you tell what kind we like the most?

_MG_9252We practiced singing and blowing out the candles at breakfast! :) _MG_9254 _MG_9255 We moved the table and put up some balloons and streamers (thank you to Lelia and my mom for lending me a hand)!_MG_9267 _MG_9269 Kaya’s request this year was a “rainbow rainbow cat” cake. I actually made it the day before the party, so for once, I didn’t stress about getting it done on the morning of. The ruffles are buttercream and the little cat is made of fondant. Kaya saw the cat a day early, and immediately told me “I want to hold him”. I told her she had to wait until her party, and she said “But I need him!” in the sweetest, most tender little voice. I guess he looked enough like a real kitten, then, to get that reaction out of her. 😉_MG_9261 Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn came. I think he spent the whole party trying to win Kaelyn over. He even hand-fed her some pizza! She alternated between crying when she saw him and wanting to sit on his lap…_MG_9271 Uncle Jeff and Auntie Lelia drove up all the way from Richmond!_MG_9272We sang “happy birthday”, and she was beaming the whole time. _MG_9276 _MG_9278 _MG_9281 She even blew out all three candles on the first try!_MG_9284 We had cake and ice cream, and then it was present time! Honestly, we were all starting to crash a little at this point, especially the birthday girl. Going two days without a nap and eating a ton of cake will do that to you!_MG_9288 She was spoiled with a Fisher Price DoodlePro, a stuffed Daniel Tiger, and lots of books!_MG_9290 Michael and I gave her a “GoGo My Walking Pup”, and she wasn’t so sure about having a robotic dog around at first, but now she loves walking and “feeding” her. (also, present-opening apparently makes a HUGE mess!)_MG_9299We had an amazing party and a wonderful weekend.

And because I just love these little videos that Google automatically puts together, I have to share this one:

We love you so much Peeky! Seeing you truly enjoy your day was my favorite part of everything.

happy 3rd birthday, kaya!

Dear Kaya,

You are a big 3-year-old girl now! Part of me can’t believe it, but another part of me feels like we’ve had you in our family forever. You have grown and changed so much in those three short years, and now that you are talking in sentences, I feel like we are really beginning to see who you are. It’s always harder for me to write these letters now that you’re older, because it just doesn’t seem like a few paragraphs are enough to sum up your whole being._MG_9248There are so many things about you at this age that I never want to forget.

You are so tender-hearted. I frequently call you a “little mommy”, because you are always taking care of someone or something. You love to help give Kaelyn baths, feed the guinea pigs, and are always checking in with me by asking, “need help Mommy?” When no one needs anything, you pretend that one of your stuffed animals is sick, sad, or “can’t find its mommy”, so you cuddle and rock it until it feels better. You have a lot of pretend friends, but Kitty is still your number one favorite. You also have to have your purple cat blanket at all times._MG_9245

You love to help me bake (and lick cookie dough). We seldom give you treats, but you’ve loved anything you’ve tried (especially everything chocolate). You love it when we sporadically get donuts for breakfast.

Nearly every morning, you beg me to go on a walk. You love to go outside, run, and play on the playground. If we’re at home, you’re almost always pushing your doll stroller around or riding in your cozy coupe car.

Walking to the bus stop to meet Daddy is the highlight of your day (especially if I let you push your doll stroller up there).

You love all animals, but I’d say your favorites are puppies and kitties._MG_9226

You love Frozen (but mostly just Olaf, and it’s really the only movie you’ve seen), and after letting you watching a little Daniel Tiger, you’ve fallen in love with that, too.

It took almost an entire year of going to nursery at church until you were comfortable enough to be in there without Daddy. Now, you absolutely love it (especially story time and singing time) so much that you are not always ready to leave when Daddy comes to pick you up._MG_9250You pay attention to details, too. If there is anything new or different in your room (i.e. the closet door is open or there’s a toy that shouldn’t be there or a stuffed animal is missing) when we put you down for bed or nap, you get upset about it and call for us until we come and fix it.

You love to take pictures and have your picture taken. You will use my phone any chance you can to snap some photos (usually of Kitty or Kaelyn). Sometimes you even tell me that you didn’t “get a good one” because it’s “too bwurry (blurry)”. Haha!_MG_9322You’ve sincerely (and regularly) started telling us “I love you” and usually add in “have a good day!” for Daddy when he leaves for work.

You still don’t like getting your face wet, which makes baths almost traumatic at times. You don’t voluntarily put your face underwater at the pool, either.

This is surprising to me (especially when several of your friends have already stopped napping completely), but you still need a 3-hour nap in the afternoon. You usually go to bed around 8:30 pm and wake up around 7:30-8 am. And yes, you still insist on sleeping on the floor next to the baby gate and will move all your animals down there with you.

You are shy and reserved when you are with new people, but once they get to know you… you’re crazy (in the best way), so bubbly, and fun.

You pretend to call people on the phone (usually it’s Grandma, sometimes it’s Uncle Jeff or Auntie Lelia). You jabber on and on and usually tell them all about your day.

You are completely potty-trained (with the exception of nighttime).

Reading books is definitely one of your favorite things to do! You memorize the storylines and “read” them back to us now. You are great at singing your ABCs, counting, and you know all your colors (most of the time). Lately, you have even started asking me to spell out words for you when we read, and I’ve heard you spell the K-A-Y of “Kaya” once.

We still call you Peeky (you prefer that name) and I almost hope that never changes.

Many people don’t see it, but Kaya… you are a mini version of your mommy. You look so much like my baby pictures, but more than that, our personalities are so similar. Even at this age, there are times that I can tell exactly what you’re feeling or thinking because we are so much alike.

Daddy and I love you so much, Kaya Bird. You have added so much joy to our lives._MG_9243Happy 3rd Birthday, sweetie!