fun with the grands

Last weekend, we got to enjoy some time with Michael’s parents! It’s been a while since both Mom and Dad have been able to come up here at the same time (January was our last visit all together at our house), so it felt a little extra special and fun. They arrived on Friday afternoon, so we had maximum time for goofing off!

The girls have been really into board games lately, and they somehow charmed Grandpa Skip into playing both Candy Land and Thin Ice.
Nella was tickled by Grandma Gina’s “piano fingers”, and obviously, she loved it! This was Dad’s first time meeting Scout, and I think he really liked her. They played on the floor, ran around the house, and even took a couple of walks. Kaya rode on Grandpa’s shoulders for most of the time. I’m glad she’s still little enough to do so, but it did make me realize how tall she’s getting!
Nella got some cuddles from both Grandpa and Grandma (and I’m sure she seemed so big to them after they’ve visited with newborn cousin Bryce so recently)! On Saturday morning, I had a 10-mile run, and then we all did a little work around the house and yard. Michael, Mom, and the older girls went to help out with a food drive service project, and Dad and I stayed home with Nella while she napped. I might have also crushed him at Mario Kart Wii… some of the time. I think we’re pretty equally matched, actually.

We ended the day with our favorite thing- Chinese food! Dad and Michael always love to go browse at Best Buy, so we all spent a few minutes in there after dinner. Kaya and Kaelyn thought it was one of the most fun places, probably just because they got to act silly with Grandpa Skip in there. On Sunday, we all went to the first hour of church together before they had to head home. Nella took two naps on her Grandma that morning! They both love snuggling, so they’re a pretty perfect match!

I always wish for more time with our family when they have to leave. It goes too fast!

christmastown, cousins, and crazies

The Christmas posts just never seem to end around here, right? Thankfully, it’s because we had so many family members to visit and enjoy the season with this past holiday.

A few days after celebrating Christmas at home, we headed down to visit Michael’s side of the family! Kevin and Tori flew in from Utah- it had been about a year and a half since we last saw them! We had never met our nephew Jack before, so needless to say, we were pretty excited!

I instantly fell in love with Jack (sweet sweet baby boy!), and my girls really loved playing with him, too. It was so fun to finally see the cousins together! Of course, I also had to get pictures of everyone meeting Nella! 🙂
And yes, there were plenty of Grandma cuddles for her, too.Kaya enjoyed some snuggling with Auntie Lelia!There were some presents, of course… … including a rainbow hat made by Grandma!This was the first time the older girls have slept in the same bed. At first, we heard some complaints of “she’s touching me!” and “she’s taking my animals!”, but eventually, they settled down and slept soundly.On the second day of our visit, we headed to Busch Gardens Christmastown! The last time we were there, Kaya was just 3 months old! It’s crazy how quickly everything changes with kids.
We wore our new hats made by my mom-in-law!I always love admiring the decorations. It almost feels like a world away from this one, made entirely of glowing lights and Christmas spirit.Kaya was old enough to ride the mini roller coaster this year! She was so excited when they pulled out of the station, and I knew she’d return either completely petrified or absolutely elated. Thankfully, she had the time of her life and even asked to go on it again! Seeing her so happy was the highlight of the trip for me, although hearing Michael, Kevin, and Jeff screaming all through the ride was pretty fun, too.Kaelyn was too little to ride most of the attractions, so we let her walk around and explore the brightly-lit trees for a bit.She did get to join everyone on this mini Mach Tower ride! I wish I had a better photo, but it was so dark that I couldn’t get my camera to focus. Good picture or not, these kids had a blast.I feel like I haven’t been able to go on rides for forever (being pregnant with three babies in four years will do that to you!), so it was extra-fun for me to join Grandpa Skip and Kaya on the bumper cars and flying swings. When everyone else headed to the train, Dad and I went on my all-time favorite ride. Busch Gardens calls it “Le Catapult”, but I think it has other names at different parks.Of course, we went to the Festhaus to warm up, eat dinner, and nurse the baby. It’s always nice to get a little break from the cold.
The girls really enjoyed watching the performance inside!On our last afternoon together, we took a family picture. I love having everyone all together (and let’s face it, I really lucked out and got some amazing in-laws).When we got home, they wanted a brother picture…… which quickly turned into chaos…… and… sorority squats? What?!And apparently, it only takes one minute of me not paying attention for my relatives to steal my phone and fill it up with a million surprise photos before we left that evening. I love these crazies!

christmas parade 2016

While Michael was still in Vegas, our town put on its annual Christmas parade! My in-laws were still visiting, so they were able to come along (but, of course, we definitely still missed Michael)!_mg_6910

It was absolutely freezing, so the girls were bundled into as many layers as possible, and tucked into the stroller with their big blankets. The cold hardly seemed to bother them because they were both so excited about watching the parade!

_mg_6912 Nella was in her snowsuit, in the Moby wrap, inside my puffiest winter coat. I couldn’t feel my toes by the end of the night, but Nella stayed cozy, and that was all I cared about anyway._mg_6919 It felt like an eternity before the parade started, but it was worth the wait!
20161202_193619 Some of our favorite displays included: this somewhat-creepy Santa…_mg_6925 _mg_6926 _mg_6927tractors…_mg_6928Minnie Mouse…
_mg_6930 a whole lineup of Mini Coopers…_mg_6938 Olaf!_mg_6941 and, of course, the “real” Santa at the very end!_mg_6944Kaya and Kaelyn also loved the big group of puppies that walked by, as well as the horses who came long after we thought the parade had already finished (hence not having a photo)! I really do look forward to this event each year, and I’m so happy I get to share it with my little girls.

3 days to go!

what happens in vegas

A few weeks ago, Michael had the opportunity to attend the Amazon Web Services conference in Las Vegas! He was gone for a whole week, and we definitely missed him (getting all three girls washed up for bed without him was the hardest part of the day!), but this is basically where all his nerd dreams came true.img_20161129_083215

Luckily, he sent us a lot of photos, so we were able to see what he was up to and how attractive the city can be.

img_20161128_160310He stayed at a cool hotel called the “Flamingo” (and yes, they did have live flamingoes there)!img_20161128_182111

He did a ton of walking (about 85,000 steps in 5 days) and took several panoramic shots. This was taken inside his conference building, The Venetian!pano_20161130_072958He even met a ninja…img_20161129_084656 …and had an 80’s-themed dance party one night (what you can’t see in this photo are his neon orange leg warmers!)img_20161130_203009 One of the highlights of his trip was visiting the Las Vegas LDS temple! I love the palm trees.img_20161202_151211Back home, we spent about half the week on our own before Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip came up for a few days.

_mg_6890 _mg_6892This was the first time Nella met her Grandpa!_mg_6901Where there are grandparents, there’s bound to be Chinese food. 😉 We all enjoyed a dinner out on Thursday night.img_20161201_182601img_20161201_182621 Kaelyn probably ate her weight in jello…img_20161201_185612These girls loved snuggling their Grandpa as soon as he woke up.
20161203_090337 They also had one of the giggliest games of hide-and-seek._mg_6907 Kaelyn was pretty good at hiding for only a few minutes at a time before giving away her location…_mg_6904On Saturday, we went to Lowe’s for their free kids’ workshop. Kaya and Kaelyn were both so excited to make Christmas ornaments!
20161203_102655This was only Kaelyn’s second-ever workshop, but she did a pretty decent job with the hammering.20161203_102706

20161203_102835020161203_103344We had so much fun (and I was thankful for the extra hands and just the fact that I wasn’t alone all week), but we were definitely excited to see our Daddy when he came home late on  Saturday night!

fourth of july weekend 2016

I know… how long ago was the Fourth of July? I’m always behind, but these are things I don’t want to forget, so here we go!

We kicked off the long weekend in the best way possible on Friday morning- with some pool time! My girls love playing with their buckets and rubber ducks and would probably do it all day long if we could. Of course, they do love taking a little break to have lunch in the shade.

This little goofball wearing my sunglasses still cracks me up!IMG_20160701_125329-01 On Saturday morning, I enjoyed an awesome 7.5-mile run. I really felt great the entire time, which I especially relish these days- you just never know when pregnancy is going to throw you an achy ligament or make it feel like you need to pee for 5 miles.IMG_20160702_100157-01 Mom and Dad Irwin arrived right around noon! Dad and Michael immediately started work on some house projects, including adding new posts to the deck! They finished it in just a few hours. I was both grateful and impressed!_MG_3450 Because they couldn’t make it up for Kaelyn’s birthday party the previous weekend, they had a few gifts to give her. Everyone gets excited about Daniel Tiger books!_MG_3458 _MG_3459 These Duplos were also a big hit. I’m honestly impressed with the things my little girls can build!_MG_3461 Sunday afternoon brought naps and more block-building fun…_MG_3468 … and we somehow managed to convince Michael to make some square shooter cookies!_MG_3470Grandma Gina and I played “Trouble” with the girls… but it might have been more trouble than it was worth (see what I did there?) because Kaelyn kept moving the pieces. It was more like a game of “Remember Where All Your Pieces Are, Because They Will Most Definitely Be Moved”! Haha.
_MG_3473 There were daddy-daughter-granddaughter (and guinea pig!) cuddles, along with lots of Wii-playing! 20160703_190111-02 On Monday morning, we got to sleep in until about 7:30! Grandpa Skip loved waking up to a cute little cuddlebug… 🙂_MG_3478 Michael’s parents had to leave around lunchtime to head back home, so we spent the rest of the day enjoying time as just the four of us. Grandma Gina gave the girls these pinwheels (their first ones ever!), so they had a whole lot of fun getting them to spin. Grandma Debbie gave them some matching patriotic shirts, so I think we pretty much mastered American festiveness on the 4th!_MG_3497 _MG_3499 We were invited to a barbecue by some church friends, so after naptime, we headed over there. The weather was on-and-off rainy, so we probably sat outside for .0005 seconds before we had to go in to finish our meal.IMG_20160704_173652She acted grumpy about the food on her plate, but then proceeded to eat two hotdogs. Ah, two year olds.
IMG_20160704_173658Have you ever seen someone more excited about eating in a camping chair?
IMG_20160704_174545 After the barbecue, we headed out to the town fireworks show. We wondered if it would be canceled due to the potential for severe thunderstorms that night, but thankfully, the rain held off until the very end._MG_3507 I surprised the kids with glowsticks (which they absolutely loved) and sparklers (which they were slightly terrified of) while we waited for the show to start!_MG_3509 Kaya actually held one for a few seconds, but overall, she didn’t want to be anywhere near them once they were lit._MG_3510 My intentions were to enjoy the fireworks without taking too many pictures, and I thought I did better at that this year, until I realized how many fireworks photos I have to share. The photography nerd in me just can’t help myself.

Both girls were a little apprehensive of the loud booming at first, but as long as they were snuggled up to us, they were enjoying it.07042016_1The show finished right before a tremendous thunderstorm blew through. We were running to our car and ended up completely soaked to the bone by the time we got there! I’m grateful for the the time we could spend as a family, enjoying the many freedoms we have in this country. We truly are blessed.

one million visitors

We’ve had a whole lot of visitors since we moved into our new home- not quite one million, but we’ve enjoyed hosting both sides of our families. It’s also been nice actually having a real guest room for them to sleep in!

My dad came up for a few days before Karl’s graduation to work on some house projects (repairing shelves, getting the dryer working, sanding down closet doors, and replacing all the locks were some of the things he did). Karl came over to hang out and help, too!_MG_1765 My mom arrived the day before graduation. The girls are always SO excited to see her! It probably doesn’t hurt that she always brings them some sort of surprise- this time it was sneakers for Kaelyn and new socks for Kaya._MG_1772 _MG_1778 Jeff and Lelia came to stay with us the next weekend! They were going to their friend’s vet school graduation, so in between those festivities, we got to spend some time with them. Lelia and I had a great 5.6-mile run together, and of course, their favorite nieces were more than happy to cuddle and give kisses._MG_2101My mom and dad-in-law stopped for a quick visit as they drove through here on their way home from Utah! _MG_2390We cooked breakfast for dinner and went on a walk to the playground.
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It’s been a busy month, but we’re so glad we have a fantastic family who wants to visit and spend time with us. We can’t wait to see them all again in just a few weeks for Kaelyn’s birthday party!

picnicking with the grandparents

Two weekends ago (see how I am always behind here?), my in-laws came up for a visit! Their favorite local campground had finally opened up for the season, and they were ready to enjoy the great outdoors… along with paying a visit to their favorite granddaughters, of course! 🙂_MG_1469 We all did some relaxing and movie-watching at our apartment, but the real fun (and where I took the most photos) was from our “cookout” lunch and walk down at the campground. It was quite windy, so we ended up eating in their new camper. Hot dogs and homemade mac and cheese, with s’mores for dessert (there’s no s’more picture obviously, because who has time for that when deliciousness is right under your nose?)!
_MG_1470This is my peanut-butter-sandwich kid. She’d rather have a PB&J than almost any other food… except for maybe Chinese. Otherwise, it’s her go-to choice, and I think she’d eat it for every lunch and dinner every day if I let her._MG_1472We went on a little walk through the woods. We showed Kaya that she could pick the dandelions… and now she wants to pick every flower, everywhere. She had quite a collection at the end of the day (and I think they were all in Grandma’s pocket)!_MG_1476 I love these people._MG_1485 Don’t be fooled… Kaelyn probably rode on Daddy’s shoulders for about two minutes. She wanted to walk the whole way, all by herself, even when there were tree roots growing in the middle of her path. She’s slow, but persistent, and she walked almost all of the trail with those two little legs._MG_1487 _MG_1496Of course, Kaya got some good swinging action. I think she might have her grandparents wrapped around her finger (quite literally)…
_MG_1500Later that night, we had a tumultuous wind storm- gusts were up to 60 mph! We lost power for about 13 hours, so sadly, we weren’t able to watch much of General Conference on Sunday. Mom and Dad Irwin did cook (in the camper) a special breakfast, and brought it inside for us. Bacon, eggs, sausage, and cinnamon buns. Mmmm.
_MG_1540 Anything sweet is her favorite, so you can guess how much she loved the cinnamon rolls!_MG_1541 And what would a grandparent visit be without some sweet kisses? I love how much my girls love them._MG_1455 _MG_1460

tall towers and pizza bigger than my face

My in-laws came up to visit this past weekend! As always, we had a really great time with them. They arrived late on Friday night, after the kids were already in bed (disclaimer: just because they were in bed does not mean they were sleeping…)

Mom went with Michael and Kaya to her final gymnastics class on Saturday morning. After running, I made a new batch of muffins for Dad- they’re his favorite, and he eats them for breakfast and lunch when he visits.

After everyone came home, had eaten, and got cleaned up, we headed out to the children’s museum. Grandpa was really into the jumbo-sized blocks.

They built the tallest towers together (and had fun knocking them down of course)!

Shopping with Grandma! Kaelyn wasn’t quite her peppy self (we thought maybe she was teething, but it might have actually been the start of a cold…).

We came home, and the kids took much-needed naps while Dad and I played some Wii! At dinnertime, they insisted that we take advantage of their offer to babysit and go on a date (we only ever seem to go out on our own when they’re here to watch the kids)!

We ended up driving around for about 20 minutes before we could make a decision on where to go! We ended up at this little locally-owned Italian place that we had gone to once before Kaya was born, and then forgotten about. It turned out to be the perfect choice, and since we never really go out as just the two of us, we totally splurged. Mozzarella sticks for appetizers! 

And then I ordered two slices of pizza and they turned out to be bigger than my face. I seriously ate this pizza for three meals… and it was consistently delicious!02272016collage2

We saved room for this triple chocolate cake. Best cake ever. I’d order a whole cake for every one of my future birthdays if I could.

We returned home to find a crazy game of “hide and seek” going on. And then Grandpa taught Kaya how to “lose” her thumb while sucking it, and then blow on it to get it to reappear. This girl was cracking up.collage02272016We enjoyed going to church together on Sunday, and after lunch, they headed home. We can’t wait to see them again in a few weeks!

and the blocks came tumbling down

Last weekend (before the snowstorm hit), my in-laws came up to celebrate a very belated Christmas with us, since we didn’t get to see them during the actual holiday. Usually they camp (or should I say “glamp”? 😉 ) when they come to see us, but the campground was closed, so they stayed at our place. That meant that we had a lot of extra time with them, since they didn’t have to leave at night! This left more time for movie-watching, Mario Kart, and dad-cuddles._MG_0798Kaya was pretty excited to open a few more Christmas gifts! Tights…_MG_0760Preemie-sized jammies for her baby doll (and I still sometimes can’t believe that Kaelyn wore this size when she was born)!_MG_0763 A doll carrier so she can wear her baby!_MG_0766 And Grandma Gina made them matching purses! I’m not sure why she made such a funny face, but she has taken this purse so many places in the past week._MG_0769 Kaelyn was sleepy and not so into opening things…_MG_0758 _MG_0774 Jammies for her baby doll too!_MG_0776And the heaviest box of fruit snacks I ever did see…_MG_0777 We enjoyed our favorite Chinese buffet, and a whole lot of silliness. How is it that grandpas always come up with the best games?_MG_0783 _MG_0782We spent a good amount of time building towers for the girls to knock down. They absolutely love these wooden blocks that Grandma and Grandpa brought for Kaelyn for Christmas._MG_0788 We had a great long weekend. I’m really blessed with great family and can’t wait to see them again soon. 🙂

potatoes and seagulls (thanksgiving with the Irwins)

We’re already almost two weeks past Thanksgiving, and here I am still writing about it! Blogging gets hard during the holidays… there’s so much to blog about, but so little time to actually write it all!

Anyway, the day after Thanksgiving, we headed down to Michael’s parents’ home for our second celebration involving turkey! 🙂

Jeff and Lelia came too! The boys got to work on their multitasking- peeling potatoes while making the goofiest faces possible. I think they pretty much nailed it._MG_0062We had a delicious dinner… I’ll admit it, I can never resist eating an extra homemade roll (or two) on Thanksgiving._MG_0070Dad was working some long hours for the outage, so we didn’t get to see him for too long, but it was enough time to goof off with his grandbabies. _MG_0076Grandpa makes her giggle._MG_0072Don’t worry, there were lots of calm cuddles from Grandma, too._MG_0068The next morning (Saturday), we slept in (yes, you read that right… amazing), and headed over to the ferry to feed the seagulls. Kaya was so excited to ride on a boat._MG_0092_MG_0085_MG_0097She loved throwing pieces of bread through the gate and would laugh and squeal when the birds caught them (especially if they plunged down into the water)._MG_0100My mom-in-law can get the birds to take the bread directly from her hand!_MG_0081After getting off the ferry, we thought we’d just turn around, get right back on, and head home… but the line was long, so we decided to try out one of the playgrounds in Jamestown instead. It was the biggest playground I’d ever been on… and probably the coolest.

I mean, any playground that has a boat to play in has to be ranked pretty high on the awesomeness scale.
_MG_0104We spent some time just enjoying the unseasonably warm weather._MG_0109_MG_0116_MG_0120

And the very coolest part of this park was the huge ZIPLINE! Kaya surprised us all and went on it twice!

A video posted by Tara (@tarairwin) on

After about 40 minutes or so, we headed back to the ferry. Kaelyn actually stayed awake for the ride home and loved looking at the birds for the first time._MG_0122_MG_0125Simple outings like these oftentimes turn out to be my favorites. I love seeing the wonder and joy of the world through my children’s eyes.
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