five on friday (02/17)

ONE. Michael finished making his work desk/table this week! He’s really excited to have his own space for doing coding projects and using an extra monitor when he needs it. Naturally, Kaelyn had to try it out!

Kaya thinks it makes a pretty good fort for coloring.

TWO. We have a tendency to hold on to the same old library books for several weeks, but we finally went and chose some new ones! I love that the kid section also includes puzzles, Duplos, and coloring pages. Kaya put this giant puzzle together on her own!

THREE. We haven’t gone out for dinner in a few months, so last weekend, we enjoyed some Chinese food. This picture sums it all up perfectly- Kaya is too busy eating to stop for a photo, Michael has a mouthful of food, and Kaelyn is wild about eating Jello.

FOUR. I finished a local running challenge (complete 100 miles in January), and I finally got my free shirt last week! In summer, a hundred miles in a month is a piece of cake, but I’m actually pretty proud of getting it done in the winter… and I kind of forgot about it until the month was half over. Oops. Nella was pretty excited too! 

FIVE. I knew my kids were growing up fast, but who knew they were old enough to drive? Haha. They love pretending. Cutest little drivers ever.

nella: 4 months

Height: 24.25 inches (48%)
Weight: 12 pounds 14 ounces (31%)
Head circumference: 15.75 inches (30%)

Clothing size: All 3-6 month items, and we’re still using the small-size cloth diapers. I use two inserts in her diapers, which makes her clothes fit a little more snugly and gives the illusion that she’s bigger than she actually is. I do feel like she’s growing super fast, and I think we’ll be ready to move up to the next size here in a month and a half or so.

Eye color: Bright, beautiful blue.

Nursing: Every 2-3 hours during the day.

Sleep: I almost get nervous to tell other parents, because I don’t want it to seem like I’m bragging, but she sleeps through the entire night. She goes down around 8 pm, and I wake her up at 5:30 am to nurse. She usually falls back asleep until 7:30 or 8 am. Seriously, what did I do to deserve this royal treatment?

She’s still sleeping in her little bassinet in our room. I like her close by, and she hardly makes a sound at night, so I’m not at all eager to move her out. She takes little catnaps in her bouncer during the day, but will take a longer one of 1-1.5 hours in the afternoon if I hold her for it. I love those snuggles.

Favorite things: Being tickled, Mommy “eating” her tummy or toes, Daddy trying to get her to smile, and her big sisters talking to her.

Dislikes: She doesn’t really cry over anything except getting her vaccines. It broke my heart to see her scream when she was at the pediatrician because she only cries when she truly means it.

Nicknames: Baby Sunshine, Nella Sunshine, Nell, Nell-Nell, Nels, Angel, Cheeks, Cheeky. Kaelyn calls her “Newwa”, and Kaya still refers to her as “Baby Nella Sunshine Sprinkle Pop” and “Pushy Cheeks” (I think she really means “squishy cheeks”, though.)

Milestones, etc.: -She’s so good at grabbing and holding onto things. I’m partly tempted to chop off my hair for this reason! I put her on the bed with my clean, unfolded laundry, and she grabs it and sucks on it until it’s nice and saturated with drool! She also really likes her little exercise gym.

-She’s a serious wiggle worm now. I can tell she wants to move and go places (for this reason, she’s constantly falling over when I take her weekly photo in the arm chair), but she’s still lacking serious muscle control.

-Tummy time has turned into straight-up planking. Haha. She’s not rolling yet, but honestly she hasn’t had a whole lot of practice.

-She chats with us all day long! If you aren’t looking at her, she’ll just keep loudly cooing until you look at her- and then she smiles!

-I keep checking for teeth because she has been chomping on everything…

-If I comb her hair into a mohawk after her bath, it curls perfectly and stays that way until the next day, when it just looks like bedhead.

-She still has some pretty terrible cradle cap. I did the coconut oil trick and it helped a little, at least. Even with oil all over her head, she’s still completely content and adorable.

Dear Nella,

You are happy every morning when you wake up and see us for the first time. I love your calm demeanor and easy-going attitude. You make having three kids nice and easy on your mama.

Your mom and dad and sisters love you more than anything in this whole world. I look forward to every day with you, and I truly couldn’t have imagined a more perfect addition to our family. Everywhere we go, people tell me how beautiful and wonderful you are. You smile easily for anyone who talks to you, and I’m so glad to call you mine.

Love, Mommy

9 for 29

The last couple of years, I’ve started this little tradition where I share a few facts about myself in honor of my birthday. I turned 29 years old on Sunday, so I thought I’d post my list this week! I write so much about the kids on here, but I’d like to think that one day, they’d like to look back and learn something about their mom, too.

1. I didn’t play any sports growing up, but in adulthood, I’ve found that I love running. I’ve been an avid runner for 8 years now, and it seems like the older I get, the more miles I want to do. I ran my first race last year and I’m looking forward to doing at least one in 2017!

2. I eat a big salad every day for lunch, but don’t worry, I balance it out with plenty of ice cream later! 😉

3. I like to pick on Michael for being older than me, even if it is only by 6 months.

4. I am a serious bargain hunter and only buy things on sale or clearance, especially clothes for the kids. If the price is right, I’ll store away items that won’t fit them for two or three more years.

5. Photography is still my favorite hobby. I take all of our own family photos, and although it can be extremely challenging with little kids, overall, it’s incredibly rewarding. I also love documenting other people’s special moments, and although I haven’t been actively trying to grow my business, slowly but surely, it is expanding with each passing year.

6. I was never a baby-crazy kind of girl until we actually had our own. Now I love baby snuggles, that sweet baby smell, and their infatuating little smiles.7. I’ve been working with the Young Women at church for over 3 years now, and I think I’d be happy to do that for the rest of my life. I love those girls so much, and I’m so grateful that I get to learn about life and the gospel alongside them. We really have an amazing group of young ladies who are so valiant and good-hearted.

8. My go-to, oops-I-didn’t-plan-ahead food is grilled cheese. I really like mine with sharp cheddar or Colby-jack cheese, pickle slices, and pepperoni.

9. My current favorite song is “Dirt on my Boots” by Jon Pardi, and my favorite actress is Lauren Graham.

Since my birthday was on a Sunday this year, we didn’t get much time to really celebrate. My mom will be here visiting this coming weekend, so I’m looking forward to having some cake and fun then!

nella’s blessing day

Our little Nella Joy received her baby blessing a few weeks ago! I had a really hard time narrowing down which photos to post… but that’s not really a problem when your baby is just so sweet and perfect, right?

Grandma Gina crocheted this gorgeous dress and headband. I’m lucky to have such a talented mother-in-law! The blanket and her booties were made by her Great-Grandma Teerlink. Great-Grandma crocheted and stored away a plethora of baby items for all of her future great-grandbabies, including those born after she passed away. I’m so grateful that even though she isn’t here on earth anymore, Nella still has these special gifts from her.
I’m so overwhelmed with love for this sweet angel.
Kaya and Kaelyn were so excited for Nella’s special day, too! Grandpa Skip, Grandma Gina, and Grandma Debbie all came up to be there for her blessing. We love having family visit, especially for memorable days like these. Michael gave her the most beautiful blessing. I always cry during our babies’ blessings, so it was no surprise that tears welled up in my eyes when he carried her up to the front of the chapel. I had a sense of just how precious our youngest daughter truly is, and I’m so grateful she came to our family.

We sure do love you, Nella Joy!

five on friday (02/10)

Friday… again?! I’m the featured blogger for the High Five for Friday link-up this week! This weekend, I’m really looking forward to some rest, a long Saturday run, finishing up our office and some family time.

Here are my top five moments from the week:

ONE. My biggest news of the week is… are you ready for this? Kaya is READING! We’ve been working so hard on phonics, and it’s finally all starting to make sense to her. We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m extremely proud my girl for putting in so much effort and making real progress. These are the kind of moments that make teaching her at home completely worthwhile.

A video posted by Tara (@tarairwin) on

TWO. I signed the girls up for a community “kangaroo kids” program for a few weeks. I thought it’d be a fun way for them to get some indoor exercise and maybe make some new friends. It was basically an open gym with obstacles for them to play on, as well as this giant inflatable slide. They played on this for at least 40 minutes, and they wouldn’t even slow down long enough for me to take a non-blurry picture!

THREE. Kaya and I had a little mommy-daughter date to the grocery store. It might not sound like a crazy-fun outing, but I loved just having some one-on-one time with her. These past two months, Michael and I have been trying to schedule individual parent-child “dates” so that we can devote special attention to each of our kids. I really like how it’s working so far!

I told her she could choose a Valentine treat, and after much debate, we came home with chocolate puppy lollipops for both her and Kaelyn!Kaelyn is obsessed with puppies, so this was the perfect little surprise for her.

FOUR. When you’re the third baby girl, having an outfit that isn’t a hand-me-down is something special! This dress was on clearance at The Children’s Place, and I couldn’t wait for her to wear it this past Sunday. She looked like the perfect little Valentine’s baby. Who could resist smooching those cheeks?
FIVE. It’s no small feat to get all three of these wild girls to look at me and smile at the same time! The big girls saw me taking Nella’s 4-month photo, and they wanted one with her, too.Sometimes being a mom isn’t easy, but I love these little girls more than anything. They make it all worth it.

Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

first snow (2017)

We had our first (and only, thus far) real snowstorm of the year early in January. My girls get excited about the tiniest flurries and always immediately ask to go outside and play. When they saw actual snow accumulated in the yard, over the street, and atop our car, they were absolutely ecstatic.  Kaelyn started shouting “No no no! Ton!” (her way of saying “Snow, snow, snow! A ton!”) as soon as she looked out the window in the morning. Of course, Nella had to see her first snow! We bundled her up, brought her out for a picture, and took her right back inside. The real feel temperature was below 10 degrees, so her first encounter with the snow was definitely a quick one! The previous homeowners left this old sled in the garage, so we put it to use! I’m not sure how much longer it’ll last, but it provided plenty of entertainment for our girls this time. Kaelyn is big enough to sled down the hill for real this year! Last year, she was wary of anything to do with sledding or the snow. I love these happy little faces. I had a good 3-mile run over the snow. It seemed like our whole world had been covered with a fresh powder, making it look completely new. I love how snow has the ability to transform everything!

five on friday (02/03)

It’s February! The countdown to my birthday begins (9 days)! But for now, here are my top five moments from this week:

ONE. These little girls were so excited to celebrate Groundhog Day this week! For preschool, we learned all about groundhogs and made these adorable hats. They absolutely love learning about animals and the world around us, so they really enjoyed this activity. Kaelyn has been wearing her hat ever since she made it (except for sleeping, of course)! TWO. We finally got outside for some fresh air this week! Overall, I feel like it’s been a relatively warm winter, but I’ve still been wary of taking the baby out in chilly temperatures (although she’s probably the warmest of anyone, what with being curled up against me in the wrap with all her layers of clothing).

Anyway, there is nothing that seems to rejuvenate us more than some sunshine and cool, crisp air.

THREE. When the cutest baby in the whole world stops nursing for no reason other than to look up at you and give you the best gift she can… a giant smile!

FOUR. This might not look like much to most people, but at 3 months postpartum, I’m proud of both my pace and distance from Saturday. I saw a meme this morning that said something like “It doesn’t matter how far you go, how fast you are, or how long it takes… it just matters that you DO it!” I’m improving and feeling so good about it. FIVE. And apparently, when I run a lot, I start craving pancakes. Big, soft, fluffy pancakes! Michael whipped up this recipe for the first time, and it’s definitely a keeper. I made this syrup, but instead of a full tablespoon of maple extract, I used half maple and half vanilla. If there are pancakes in heaven, these are them. Mmmm.

Linking up here, here, and here today!

2017 mantras

I have to be honest, I’ve never really been a resolution-making kind of person. It just feels a little cliché, and it almost seems expected that your resolutions fall by the wayside before February even arrives.

However, despite not making any “official” resolutions, I do tend to get a bit introspective at the end of every year. I thought about what changes I’d made in 2016, and how I’d like to be better in the new year. January 1st came and went, and I was still contemplating what kind of “theme” or goals I might like to keep in mind for 2017.

I really love making lists and checking things off, so surprisingly, instead of specific, measurable targets, I’ve come up with a few of my own “mantras”. These are short phrases that I can remind myself of daily and repeat whenever the situation is appropriate. So far, these little reminders have already helped me to be so much more mindful.

Live for today, forget yesterday, and look forward to tomorrow.

Just play.

Less guilt, more joy.

More love, less criticism.

Breathe.

My best is all I can do.

Create.

Embrace pen and paper.

Fall in love with books.

Speak softly.

Make time for silence.

Take a picture, but don’t miss the moment.

I’m excited to see where I go in 2017!

five on friday (01/27)

ONE. We went to a big birthday bash for our friends, Aaliyah and Talyah, this week! My girls were beyond excited about having cupcakes. Funny enough, despite all her enthusiasm, Kaelyn didn’t even take a bite out of hers.

Kaya fell in love with the elephant pinata, and was the queen of collecting candy once it was broken open. Sadly, another kid tore the eyes and most of the paper off of it after this, and Kaya was on the verge of tears to see her new friend ripped to shreds. She’s so very sensitive and loving, even toward fake cardboard animals.

TWO. We’ve been doing some more work on the house, from small things like changing out all the brass doorknobs to a “brushed bronze”…

…to painting the office (which is still in progress)! Have you figured out what my favorite color is yet?

THREE. This little princess has started having very animated “conversations” with us every day. She coos, grins, and just melts your heart. Her excitement multiplies a hundred fold when you smile and talk back to her!FOUR. I’m getting a new nephew!!! Lelia and Jeff announced this week that they are having a sweet baby boy in June, and I just cannot wait to meet him!Of course, we had to recreate this silly picture from nearly five years ago (what?!) when I was 15 weeks pregnant with Kaya, but we comically reversed roles and shoved a kitchen towel up Lelia’s shirt. Lelia actually sent me this picture in a card in the mail to announce their pregnancy a couple months ago, and I was so excited that I could barely talk when I called and left her a voicemail.
Really, I’m so happy for this sister of mine and I can’t wait to see our babies all together.

FIVE. Speaking of little babies… I love my sweet, sleeping angel, tucked in so tight.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

neigh-neighs, the sprinkle monster, and great-aunties

After visiting Michael’s family, we went to my parents’ home for the last of our Christmas celebrations. Their family room quickly turned into a wrapping-paper explosion- it was like Christmas morning all over again!

You never know what Grandma Debbie might surprise you with…

Each girl (including me) got a spatula in her stocking!
Kaya was pretty excited about these pants… … and can you tell that someone is in love with Minnie Mouse? There was a giant Hello Kitty plush for Kaya, of course. The girls’ big gifts were these horses! Kaya names every horse she has “Chancey”, so of course, we all knew his name before he even escaped the box. Kaelyn calls all her horses “Neigh-neigh”, this one included.Michael (a.k.a. Mister Home Improvement) now has a drill! He’s already been able to use it for several projects.
Kaya gives the best hugs. After exchanging gifts, Kaya, Grandma and I cut out gingerbread cookies. The next day, we decorated them with sprinkles! Kaelyn used up most of the sprinkles by herself… She was completely covered by the end of it all. What a mess! I’m glad she enjoyed herself, though.Nella will be in on the mess next year, but for now, she sat in her seat and took a little nap.This trip was the first time Grandpa Peter met Nella! It was love at first sight.My aunts stopped by to see us, too! Nella met her Great-Aunties Joyce and Carol! Of course, they instantly loved her too.Everyone always loves Grandma snuggles!

I’m glad we were able to visit our families for the holidays.This is the last of the Christmas posts, so now it’s officially over! (Only 333 days to go until we do it all again!)