five on friday: happy things!

We’re slipping back into normalcy around here with a Five on Friday post! Here are some of my favorite things lately:

ONE. This donut recipe. Mmmm. I could eat these all day every day. They have the best texture of any cake donut I’ve made thus far, and are just so moist that it’s got to be illegal or something.

TWO. Summer days, green grass, fresh air, and watching my babies enjoy all of it. We have had absolutely perfect weather for playing outdoors most of this week. The rest of the world would probably consider these to be more like springtime temperatures, but hey, I’ve definitely enjoyed a break from the heat. We’ve had our windows open (instead of using A/C) and I love it.

THREE. It’s safe to say that baby laughter will always be one of my favorite things.

A video posted by Tara (@tarairwin) on

FOUR. I’m extra grateful for these simple, yet sweet, moments with my little girl. She loved riding the seesaw with mommy (and technically Kaelyn too, since I was wearing her in the Ergo)!

FIVE. This crazy guy. I kind of love him. And yes, we totally took a #carselfie for no reason other than that we could. Happy Friday!!!06292015collage1Linking up with April today!

jax is gone

I know the blog has been pretty heavy with emotion this week, with all these posts about Kaya’s dog bite. This will be the last one, at least for now.

I just keep thinking that if I finish writing all this, it’ll be easier to keep moving forward.

So… the question that everyone wants to know the answer to: where is Jax?_MG_1760

The day after the bite, we drove him back down to the Bedford Humane Society, where we originally adopted him two years ago. They are a no-kill shelter and promised they would always take him back. He at least has a chance at a new life in a home without children. If we had just turned him over to animal control, a happy ending would have been far-fetched.

We tried to do the right thing for him and for us.

He was never an aggressive dog. Everyone loved and trusted him. The only way I could have imagined the incident happening is that he was asleep, was somehow startled, and thought he needed to defend himself. One week after it happened, Kaya indeed told me that Jax was asleep, she hugged him, and then he bit her.

He made a serious mistake that could have easily been repeated, and there is no way I could risk that with my precious children.

He was a part of the family, and even though he betrayed my trust and did wrong, we are definitely mourning his absence._MG_1173

Kaya asks about him every single day. She still loved him when we said goodbye. I was too angry at the time to even say anything to him.

Now there’s less anger and mostly just sadness.

I lost my running partner. My cuddle buddy. My shadow. My pal.

It hurts to think that I’ll never see him romp through the snow again, give him an empty jar of peanut butter to lick clean, or invite him up onto the bed to snuggle for a nap.

I can only hope he finds those joys with someone else now.

The house is quieter. Lonelier.

I wanted my children to grow up with a dog, and now I don’t know if they ever will. I don’t know what animal I can trust after all this.

Goodbye, Jax. I’m so sad it had to end this way between us._MG_4061

the dog bite story

I wish I didn’t even have to share a blog post with that title.

But this blog is my family’s history, so here it is. Kaya is healing nicely, but my emotions are still raw from what happened last Tuesday. Looking at these pictures still completely breaks my heart.

I am including a picture of the open wound and details about the injury, so if you don’t handle that kind of thing very well, you might want to skip this post.

It was a pretty normal day. Both kids seemed a little extra tired and cranky, so instead of heading out for a walk or going to the pool like we do on most mornings, we stayed at home.

Kaya asked to eat lunch early that day. She sat up in the high chair, happily singing and eating while I did some dishes and the baby played with Tupperware containers at my feet. She finished her meal pretty quickly, so I helped her down and she kept singing and dancing in the kitchen while I continued to clean up.

She left my side for what had to have been less than a minute. I heard her singing in the living room, and then I heard it.

It wasn’t even a full growl. Just a soft noise that was definitely from the dog.

And then Kaya was screaming.


We ran to each other as blood started pouring down her face and onto the kitchen floor.

I couldn’t believe it. Jax bit Kaya.

I scooped her up and ran into the bathroom.

Do I call 911? There’s blood everywhere. My baby is bleeding. 911? No, it’s her head, she’ll be okay. We can drive her to the hospital ourselves. Call Michael.

I sat her up on the sink counter and attempted to call Daddy. My hands couldn’t do it. What were the right buttons? Blood was splattering everywhere… Her clothes. My shirt. The phone. The counter. The floor… We were covered.

I moved her to the tub and stripped her down. I think it was at this moment that I realized Jax was still loose, so I yelled at him to get in his kennel. I slammed the cage door and screamed louder than I ever have in my life.

Kaelyn was screaming and scooting herself down the hallway to get to us. She definitely sensed our fright.

I was washing the blood off her face and trying to get the laceration on her forehead to stop bleeding. I should have applied more pressure to it from the start, but in my panic I feel like my brain wasn’t really working. I put pressure on it then, cleaned it with some hydrogen peroxide, and somehow managed to get Michael on the phone. We couldn’t even hear each other because of all the screaming and crying, but I somehow managed to text him and he headed home right away. This happened right around noon, so he was able to get a ride with someone who was going out for lunch. He normally takes the bus, so it was a big tender mercy that he was able to get home quickly.

I wrapped her up in just a towel and held her in my arms until Michael came through the door. Every time she cried, more blood would rush out.

She was so relieved when Daddy was there to snuggle her.

Our friend Alayna was able to come over and stay with Kaelyn while we took care of Kaya. We called the urgent care clinic covered by our insurance, and they told us to bring her down to see if they could take care of it without us having to go to the emergency room. They cleaned her up a bit, but the verdict was that she would need to go to the hospital to get her stitches.

While we were there, I noticed a text message from a friend at church- her husband was working up in the ER that day, and she suggested that we ask to see him. He has a background with plastics and stitches, so we headed over there and did just that.

It was another tender mercy- our church friend was getting on his shift right as we were arriving at the hospital.

He took great care of Kaya, as if she were his own daughter, and referred us to the plastic surgeon. I am so grateful. We were put in the very best place we could be in the very bad situation we were in.

We packed our little girl up in the car one more time and headed over to the plastic surgeon to finally get those stitches. She was so utterly exhausted by this point.

The plastic surgeon took us in the back as soon as we walked in. He strongly suggested that we leave the room so that Kaya might not resist as much while they were trying to stitch her up. We did, and we heard her fighting tooth and nail the entire time she was gone. They wrapped her up like she was in a cocoon and one nurse held her in her lap for the stitches. All we could hear was screaming and crying and “Daddddddy” and “Mommmmmmmy”. My poor baby was such a trooper.

The doctor told us that the laceration on her forehead was down to the bone, and he was worried that the punctures around her eye could cause an internal infection. He prescribed an eye ointment and an antibiotic._MG_8114

We camped out in her room for a couple of nights so she wouldn’t have to be alone. Anything for this little girl.

I feel like I love her 100 times more than I already did since all this happened. I’m so grateful for all the tender mercies we received that day and in the days after. We have definitely seen the hand of God through all this.

She has been healing so well, with no sign of infection.dogbitehealingkaya

On Monday, she had her stitches removed. We celebrated with ice cream, and she was the happiest girl in the world. We do have to keep steri-strips, followed by tape, on it for another 5 weeks or so. I’m so happy to see both of her bright, beautiful eyes open again!Thank you to everyone who has offered prayers, love, and support. It’s meant the world to our little family.

family weekend

We had a busy, family-filled weekend, which I think was just what we needed after the shock of this past week. Being surrounded by loved ones definitely helped take our minds off of what happened, at least temporarily.

My dad has been fixing up a tricycle for Kaya for a while now, and he recently finished it! My mom brought it up this weekend to surprise her. This little girl cannot stop talking about her “bike” and wants to ride it all the time. We’ve only been letting her practice in the house and on the porch until her head is healed up and she can wear a helmet again.

_MG_8174 Kaya also enjoyed plenty of bubble blowing this weekend…_MG_8182 On Friday night, we headed out to Mom and Dad Irwin’s campground. Karl and Kaitlyn met us there to visit for a while, since they would be working the next day during Kaelyn’s birthday party. We had a fun time hanging out, swapping stories, and making s’mores._MG_8185 Saturday was Kaelyn’s birthday party, which will be a whole separate post! I will give you a sneak peek of my cute little one-year-old though:_MG_8287

Sunday was church, followed by a mostly-failed attempt to take naps, and then more time at the campground. Mom Irwin made this amazing stew in the Dutch oven over the fire. Seriously… I need to go camping just so I can eat this again._MG_8303

Love spending time with this group._MG_8306 Kaelyn didn’t have any stew, but she did put down some apple-blueberry puree. Grandma loved feeding it to her!06282015collage1We had such a great time with family. I’m excited to share pictures from Kaelyn’s party later in the week! :)

happy 1st birthday kaelyn!

I’m sitting here writing this on her birthday eve, barely able to believe that Kaelyn came to join our family one whole year ago.

Having our second precious daughter has made time race by faster than I could have ever imagined. My tiny, 5 pound 10 ounce baby has grown to be a strong toddler. It’s hard to imagine that she ever wore preemie-sized clothing!


I said I wasn’t going to get emotional about my second baby’s first birthday. I’ve already done this once before, and I know that as she gets older, the good times keep getting better.

But I think becoming a mom pretty much means you agree to be emotional about all things concerning your kids, so here I am.

Kaelyn, you have taught me so much in this past year. Life doesn’t need to be quite so rushed. You’ve helped me to slow down and drink in all the small, precious moments. I already knew you’d grow up too fast, so I’ve tried to savor all the baby stages, even when there were obstacles to overcome._MG_8137You are the calm to the storm of every day life. You give me peace and reassurance that I’m doing okay at this whole motherhood gig every time you smile or hold onto me with your tiny fist.

I love the way you (almost) always greet me with a giant grin and try to follow me everywhere I go. You are my little buddy.

It’s been a year of little sleep, lots of cuddles, and too many scrunchy-faced grins to count.

I’m so excited to see who you’ll become over this next year. You are my sunshine, baby girl.

Happy 1st Birthday, Kaelyn Grace!

Love, Mommy

my dog bit my baby

Yesterday afternoon, my dog bit my baby.

It happened in an instant, with a dog everyone trusted.

I’m still in shock that this really occurred.

She has a bone-deep laceration on her forehead and multiple puncture wounds on her eyelid. He just barely missed her eye.

It could have been so much worse._MG_8124 My heart is broken for my sweet girl…and the dog. I think I’ve felt just about the whole spectrum of emotions this past day and a half, from guilt to sadness to anger… and I’m certain the emotional roller coaster isn’t over yet.
However, we’ve seen so many tender mercies and blessings from the Lord through this. We know He loves us. We’ve been surrounded by family and friends who truly love our family, too.

She is going to heal. She didn’t lose her eye. She is still here with us.

I am so grateful.

We are so blessed.

party weekend!

This weekend, a couple of our favorite crazy people came to town… Jeff and Lelia!_MG_8012 Don’t worry, we know how to take a serious picture too._MG_8011

They were here for a wedding, and we definitely enjoyed having them stay with us for a couple of nights! Kaya had so much fun dancing at the reception that she’s been asking to go to another “party” every day since. Anyone else feel like getting married?

We also enjoyed some time at the pool, and I ran errands in preparation for Kaelyn’s birthday party next weekend. I feel like I’m never completely ready for hosting events like these!

Sunday morning was Father’s Day, which obviously called for homemade donuts! I’m currently loving this recipe.

Yummy donuts = happy daddy._MG_8003 He was delighted with his small surprises- a couple of candies/treats he likes, a card “signed” by Kaya, and a new photo collage poster for his cubicle at work. I feel like having personal photos really brightens up his space, and he says that people still stop and ask him about the ones he currently has hanging up!06222015collage2I didn’t get a picture of him with both his babies on Sunday… but these are two of my favorite recent ones. He loves his girls, and they definitely adore him! We could not imagine a better daddy.06222015collage1

pool babies

It was finally hot enough to go swimming last Friday, and we have been pool junkies ever since! Kaya has been asking to go every single day and never seems to get tired, even though we stay so long that we infringe on naptime. It’s so worth it to see her having fun, though!

Kaelyn figured out that if she throws her legs down really hard, the lounge chairs make them bounce back up. She might have had more fun doing this than actually swimming in the pool!

She makes this little scrunchy face on the left any time she’s really happy…collage06122015_1

Kaya had the time of her life on Friday night, because there was a little ice cream party going on. What could be better than swimming and dessert combined? She played in the water until she was shivering and still didn’t want to leave.

Kaelyn likes splashing around in the water, too, but is just as content to sit out on the chair with mommy. Her little grin gets me every time! While Daddy swam with Kaya, she read a magazine with me. It felt so good to relax!

Here’s to many more memories at the pool this summer!

Sadie Sky Boutique

dragon’s lair mini golf & the skywheel

On our last full day at the beach, we headed down to Broadway at the Beach to walk around for a bit. Mini golf was on our must-do list, so when we saw “Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf”, we knew we had to try it!_MG_7664Who wouldn’t want to golf inside a castle?_MG_7661 Kaya was SO excited about golfing (maybe she remembered last year?), and was big enough for her own club this time. She was persistent and made it through 14 of the 18 holes before she was just too tired to keep going._MG_7649 Cutest little putter I ever did see!_MG_7652 _MG_7651Kaelyn and Caroline were troopers in the heat and enjoyed just watching from the stroller!_MG_7658 Kaelyn’s entertainment was trying to take her hat off the entire time…_MG_7655 After naps and some more time at the beach, we headed down to the boardwalk to get some dinner. We passed a place called “New York Pizza” and stopped in. It reminded me of this little pizzeria we had in the town I grew up in, so I was hoping the pizza would be just as good. Well… it was amazing. And HUGE. And I didn’t take a picture of it because we were too busy stuffing it into our mouths…_MG_7667Afterward, we headed further down the boardwalk to ride the SkyWheel._MG_7669 Normally, I’m terrified of ferris wheels, since the cars usually seem rickety and about to fall off the hinges. The SkyWheel was all enclosed and didn’t rock at all, so I loved it. It was so beautiful to see the whole city from up there!_MG_7672Question: How many crazy people can you fit in one ferris wheel car?IMG_20150521_210253_1And that’s the last of the beach posts. It’s time to go back so I have something else interesting to write about, right?

on the beach

There’s just something magical about the beach that makes me never want to leave.

Hot sand on your toes, the clearest blue sky, and the swish-swish of the ocean current. The view of the pier, people laughing, and kids running up and down the beach.

Those things might have something to do with it._MG_7601 Hearing Kaya creep into our bed in the early hours of the morning, whispering “beach beach beach!” added a whole new level of excitement to our trip. There’s nothing like watching your children enjoy the experiences you’re providing for them._MG_7589 We spent our first morning (and second afternoon) on the beach. Poor Kaelyn started to cry the moment I put her in the sand. I definitely wasn’t expecting this reaction from my typically calm, easy-going baby!_MG_7579Baby Caroline was more than happy to just sit in the sand (and attempt to eat seashells)!
_MG_7591 Kaya definitely had the best time of anyone. She had some brand-new beach toys to try out, and everyone helped her build a little moat to play in. She was thrilled!_MG_7599 Kaya’s construction team :) :_MG_7593Everyone took turns walking her down to the water to fill up her bucket…
_MG_7602 _MG_7587 _MG_7596Brittany and I sat our babies on our laps, right at the edge of the water. It was so fun to watch their reactions when the cool waves would wash over our legs!
_MG_7605 Someone was happier after some mommy cuddles and getting a turn to play with the bucket…_MG_7608 These are my favorite days._MG_7622