grandma debbie’s 60th birthday

My mom’s 60th birthday was in July, so we took a long weekend and headed to my parents’ home for some quality family fun. It’s been a long time since we’ve had then entire family (both of my aunts, Karl, and me) all together, so this was something really special.

Kaya kicked off the weekend by coloring with Grandma! That’s something I remember her doing with me when I was little, so it’s fun to see it continuing on with the next generation.Of course, there were Dunkin’ Donuts, courtesy of Karl! I think these will always be my favorites, despite the amazing local donut shop we have here in town.We also got to meet my parents’ new puppy (I know, he doesn’t look like much of a puppy, right?) for the first time! His name is Buddy, and he’s part pit bull, just like Scout! The only difference is that he is stronger than an ox (I’m not even exaggerating here)! Scout didn’t like being pummeled by his overzealous attempt to play with her, so they didn’t really get to be friends.
But yeah… I pretty much fell head over paws for this puppy. How could you resist those eyes? I think my Dad is pretty smitten with him, too.We had some naps on Daddy… (and a change of clothes for Kaelyn, after she tripped and landed in Buddy’s water bowl!)……and then the whole crew went to an early dinner at Cracker Barrel, which is one of my Mom and Dad’s favorite places.Clockwise: Auntie Joyce and her friend, Melissa; Karl and Kaitlyn; hopefully you know who those people are; and Auntie Carol and Alan!
Princess Nella sat in her throne with her foot upon the table for the entire meal. She also cast a spell on everyone with that sweet little smile of hers.We all headed back to the house for some cake and gifts! My dad had an Oreo cookies and creme cake for his birthday party, and everyone loved it, so of course, we had to repeat it!
It’s not a birthday party with my family unless there’s a big pile of gifts!I found this little decorative watering can at Goodwill and just knew my mom would love it!It turned out that my dad hadn’t finished his gift shopping for my mom, so the day before the party, he took me out with him to get some ideas. We went to five different places without having much luck.

However, we did find a very heavy lawn decoration in the shape of a chicken, and we kept joking around that the “concrete chicken” was our fallback gift. Seriously, I think that thing weighs more than Kaelyn.

My dad actually ended up going back and getting it, and as it turns out, my mom loves her Concrete Chicken. I think I like the joke about the gift even more than the gift itself.I also helped him choose a new bird feeder for her, shaped like a butterfly!
But Karl and Kaitlyn’s gift had to be the best of all…

An iPhone! My mom had been managing with a smartphone that had almost no space to install anything or even be used properly… so now she can actually talk to us and see all the pictures we send. She was so surprised! As you can see in the video, I persuaded Karl to wrap it in a box, and then put that box in another box, wrap it, and so on. It was so much fun.They even made a case for her that had all the kids’ pictures on the back!And, of course, there was a whole lot of baby cuddling on this trip. Auntie Joyce always loves my babies.Apparently, Nella loves pinching her Great-Auntie Joyce’s cheeks. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?I was so happy to see these two… it’s been way too long!Grandpa Peter was obviously smitten with “Pumpkin” (as he calls her)!
My mom said this truly was the best birthday ever. I’m so glad we got to celebrate it all together!

a minnie mouse birthday party (kaelyn’s 3rd birthday!)

Kaelyn had talked about her upcoming birthday for weeks, if not months, before the big day actually arrived. She had decided on a unicorn-themed party long ago, but somehow ended up on the fence between that and a Minnie Mouse party. A couple weeks before the party, she finally landed on Minnie Mouse, and there was no turning back. She has always had a love for Minnie, although I’m not quite sure where it came from, since she doesn’t watch her show, and we don’t have any books with her in them, either.

The day before her party, we shopped for cake-baking supplies and her balloons! She was beaming when we picked these up at the dollar store!

I based the cake off of this one, and followed that same bow tutorial as well. I used homemade fondant for the bow, polka dots, and the shape of the ears (which I then covered in melted chocolate), but the frosting is all buttercream. I was actually really happy with how smooth-looking this turned out. Kaelyn was giddy when she saw her cake, and gave me so many cute smiles (which is a big deal, because she usually doesn’t like to be photographed)!
I love this beautiful, amazing, funny little girl. Celebrating her was the best. She actually got to blow out the candles twice, because for some reason, my camera wasn’t ready the first time.

Kaelyn had requested that the inside of the cake be “sprinkles”, so I made this funfetti recipe. It was delicious, but I think she was too excited for presents and didn’t actually eat any of it! She did, however, enjoy eating Minnie Mouse’s ear! Grandma Debbie was the only one who could make it to the party, but she brought lots of surprises for the birthday girl. Kaelyn was very happy to see everything wrapped in Minnie paper! She received a remote-controlled Minnie car, but it actually didn’t work, so we exchanged it for the airplane equivalent at Target. It’s one of her favorite toys now!Have you ever seen a kid so excited about socks and shirts? (Only if they’re Minnie-themed, I guess!) Undies sent by Auntie Lelia, Uncle Jeff and baby Bryce! Her only three gifts that weren’t related to Minnie Mouse- Paw Patrol puppies… … a water coloring book… …and donut chalk from Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn! We ended the festivities with her favorite food- pizza! She was so tired, but so very happy.

We love you, Kaelyn Grace! Happy 3rd Birthday!

a rubber ducky birthday party (kaelyn’s 2nd birthday!)

I’m finally blogging about Kaelyn’s 2nd birthday party! Anytime I take a lot of photos all at once, it seems like it takes me a while to actually go through them all and share them. I definitely snapped a lot of pictures that day (June 25th), in part because I’m still adjusting to the lighting in our new home, so I kept changing my camera settings and trying different things. Many of these photos aren’t perfect, but I’m grateful I have them to remember my littlest’s special day.

Anyway… Grandma Debbie came up to stay with us for a few days, and as seems to be tradition, Kaelyn took a nap on her right before the party! We started our celebrations at 2 pm, so this little catnap was actually very much needed in order to avoid an afternoon meltdown._MG_3257 Kaelyn absolutely loves rubber ducks and gets SO excited anytime she sees one that she has to yell “QUACK!” over and over again. I knew she would be ecstatic with these rubber duck balloons!_MG_3261 Hugs for the ducky!_MG_3264 Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn brought her some more fun balloons when they arrived!_MG_3407This was one seriously happy little girl._MG_3267 I made her cake super simple this year. The only real goals were for it to look like water and have some bubbles and rubber ducks on top._MG_3269 I used this lemon cake recipe (minus the blueberries) with this frosting recipe, which I think pretty much equaled perfection. What’s better than a lemon cake on a summer day? (Not to mention, I almost always make chocolate cake, so this was a nice change!)_MG_3276 _MG_3293 We started the party off with Kaelyn’s favorite food- pizza!_MG_3280 _MG_3282_MG_3283 _MG_3291_MG_3307 Soon it was time to blow out the candle (and she was still in love with her balloons)!_MG_3317 _MG_3314I am so blessed to call these two precious girls mine.
_MG_3325Kaya was extremely excited for the party, and it wasn’t even her birthday! She is definitely looking forward to her own special day in a couple of months._MG_3320 _MG_3329 Kaya ended up helping Kaelyn blow out the candle, because she had absolutely no idea what to do! We completely forgot to “practice” beforehand._MG_3333 Well… this is the best family picture we could get. I kind of think it’s hilarious._MG_3334 She loved her lemon cake!_MG_3345 Everyone had blue lips afterward…_MG_3347After cake, she opened a few gifts.
_MG_3353 _MG_3355 We gave her this VTech Horse Stable that both girls have loved building and playing with together._MG_3357 My mom’s friend, Susan, sent her this stuffed penguin and a couple of books. She loves stuffed animals so much that she snatched it out of the bag as fast as she could, with the biggest grin on her face._MG_3362Uncle Jeff and Auntie Lelia gave her some money for her 529 college fund. It’s definitely something she will appreciate when she’s older!_MG_3360

Grandma Debbie gifted her a rubber duck water table. Obviously, she has absolutely loved this over the past couple of weeks!_MG_3369 After gifts, I tried to get a couple of pictures of her in her birthday outfit, mostly to no avail. She did like standing next to Fallon (Jeff and Lelia’s dog), though._MG_3376 _MG_3380 We had to test out the water table, of course. Everyone ended up getting pretty wet!_MG_3384 _MG_3388 Kaya insisted that she needed her swimsuit… and when she came back out after changing into it, she was still wearing her undies and socks, haha!_MG_3392 We had one happy (and tired) princess at the end of the day. I really think this was the perfect birthday party for her._MG_3398

We love you, Kaelyn!

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.

five on friday (09/11)

Happy Friday! 🙂 Here we go…

ONE. Big, big, big news- my baby is walking!!! She took her first steps on Wednesday, and I’m so proud. She uses something to support herself (usually the toy shopping cart), but hey, she’s moving, and I think she isn’t far from doing it all on her own._MG_9204TWO. Of course, I can’t tell you she’s walking without showing you a video, too. She’s surprisingly quick!

A video posted by Tara (@tarairwin) on

THREE. Our new favorite spot to hang out lately is in the den with the guinea pigs! Both girls can sit in there for long periods of time (long by toddler standards, anyway), just watching them. Kaya loves to read them books and is even sure to show them the pictures._MG_9226Kaya’s got a heart like her mama, no doubt about it. Animals are so special to her.collage09112015_1

FOUR. We have one more week until Kaya’s birthday! It’s been so much fun to see her get so excited about it this year. She talks about it every day and just can’t wait for family to come celebrated with us. We picked up some party supplies this morning… can you tell what the theme is? 🙂

FIVE. This little girl was totally a no-nap ninja yesterday… but she’s still so cute, even when she’s sad and cries big crocodile tears. Just look at that lip! At least I got cuddles. 🙂Happy Friday!

Linking up here today!

birthday weekend

It’s taken me over a week to write about my birthday, because my mom was originally planning to come up and celebrate with us this past weekend. However, due to 500 inches of snow (okay, okay, more like 14), she didn’t get to come. We missed her, but still had a great weekend!

Michael surprised me with these decorations (and donuts!) on the morning of my real birthday! With all the dreary winter days we’ve had here, these decorations have helped brighten everything up. I probably won’t take them down until the end of the month!
_MG_6419 My friend Brittany really surprised me when she made a cake and brought it to our institute class that evening! You have to love the hashtag! #obviouslythisisasocialmediathemedcakeProcessed with VSCOcam with a8 preset My sweethearts baked me a cake this past Saturday night! Kaya had so much fun helping in the kitchen._MG_6525 She’s a mini supervisor!_MG_6530 Too little to help, but too cute to leave out her picture._MG_6527 Dark chocolate cake with cookie dough frosting… as I requested. Mmmm! Also, we apparently didn’t have a “2” candle, so Michael turned a “5” backwards, haha! Having a homemade cake meant so much to me._MG_6532There’s no better gift on your birthday than being with the people you love most.
_MG_6534 We blew the candles out four or five times… Kaya’s getting a lot of practice for her next birthday cake!_MG_6539Here’s to 27!

that weekend we actually left the house

We actually got out of the house this weekend (our normal lately is just lounging around and trying to catch up on sleep)! I figured I’d write this down so that our kids reading this in the future will see that we did something fun every once in a while! 😉

We kicked the weekend off right with this amazing crumb cake I made for seminary’s Friday breakfast! No kidding, it was pretty much perfect as far as coffeecakes go.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetFriday night, we had a family date to Red Robin, and then headed to Target for a couple of needed items. While we were there, I checked out the toddler girls’ clearance, and got super lucky- lots of 3T and 4T items, most at 70% off! Those sizes sound so big to me now… but I know Kaya will be wearing them before we know it. 70% off seems even better when you know you’ll get double the use out of them!

Saturday morning started out with the Mother Goose Club! We really only let Kaya watch shows on Saturdays lately, and it seems like she’s catching on… she asked for her favorite song almost as soon as she woke up!_MG_5214Later that afternoon, we went to a friend’s birthday party! Kaya had a ton of fun driving his Jeep around (except she couldn’t quite figure out how to push the gas pedal hard enough, so it was mostly a mommy-powered ride)!
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetShe visited with puppies, horses, and chickens. She even enjoyed some lollipops, cupcakes, and wagon rides! It was a great time.Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Sunday was church, of course, and an amazing 2.5-hour nap for me. I’m spoiled and so grateful for a husband who’s willing to watch Kaelyn so I can get some extra rest (even though I know he’s so tired, too)!

a kitty birthday (kaya’s 2nd birthday party!)

Kaya’s actual birthday was on a Friday, but we waited until Saturday to have her real celebration. As it turns out, Friday mornings are pretty crazy at our house! She did get to eat (almost) as many chocolate donut holes as she wanted, and I sang happy birthday to her at breakfast time (Daddy was already at work). Her friend Mia came over for a couple hours that night, and they had the best time two crazy, fun toddler girls can have together (just picture them jumping on Kaya’s bed, dancing, and sharing pizza)! 🙂

Since her real birthday was so low-key, I definitely wanted to make sure the day of her party started off with some true excitement. I hung a bunch of balloons from the ceiling for her to see as soon as she woke up and walked into the hallway. She was a little timid at first, but she spent a good part of the day running through them and yelling “baoons!”_MG_4187Her next surprise was in the living room. Her big gift from us was her very own slide (yes, we are those crazy parents with a slide in their apartment… but hey, it actually folds up if we ever wanted to put it away). She pretends that everything and anything is a slide (and we even used a folding table as one, once), so having a real one definitely won’t go to waste!

She was so surprised!

One happy girl._MG_4200

_MG_4202Her actual party was very simple. I wanted to do something I thought she’d love, so I chose to base it off of her very favorite little buddy- Kitty, of course!_MG_4209I actually love how the cake turned out! It looked just like her stuffed animal! Honestly, though… Kaya didn’t even notice it was Kitty. I’m still glad I put the effort into though, because it’s still something meaningful to her, and I know one day we’ll look back on this and it’ll be a sweet memory._MG_4211IMG_4215_MG_4220I made a felt applique shirt for her, and she actually did notice that and liked it!_MG_4225_MG_4226She loved her cake this year! Who can resist dark chocolate? (answer: no one. duh.)_MG_4234She opened her presents all on her own! As usual, she was spoiled with some really awesome gifts._MG_4239_MG_4241Her favorite thing might’ve actually been the fruit snacks Uncle Kevin and Aunt Tori sent all the way from Utah. Grandpa couldn’t feed them to her fast enough! 🙂_MG_4244We’re so grateful for all our friends and family who were here to celebrate our sweet girl with us! (And yeah, photography fail- the birthday girl ended up hiding behind Mike’s head in this picture…)!
_MG_4246Happy 2nd birthday, Kaya Bird! We love you so very much!_MG_4255