a rainbow horse birthday party (kaya’s 4th birthday!)

Kaya had been saying that she wanted a “rainbow Chance party” for the majority of the past year. Like most people, you probably have no idea who Chance is… Well, he’s a horse who lives over at the barn I used to volunteer at during college. His pasture was right behind our old neighborhood, so Kaya saw him fairly frequently. I don’t know what it is about that gray horse, but he’s been her favorite for quite a while!

She loved her rainbow party last year, so she requested that again, too. What’s better than rainbows and horses combined?

We kicked off her party day with her favorite donuts. Daddy took the girls to our local donut shop to pick them up, and of course, Kaya chose mostly chocolate cake donuts or chocolate-frosted ones with sprinkles!
_mg_5162 This cake… oh this cake. It might not look like much, but it turned out to be a major labor of love. I actually ended up decorating the entire thing twice because it fell apart overnight… and then it started drooping again before she blew out her candle._mg_5176I think the decorations failed to stay on because I used a new death-by-chocolate recipe that was incredibly moist (and also called for using cooking spray and no flour on the cake pans when baking). It was the easiest cake ever to remove from the pans… but that also meant that the frosting didn’t stay on well at all. It tasted amazing, and I’d definitely use the recipe again, but not for a birthday cake with any kind of buttercream decorations.

The horses are from Playmobil. They really are so cute and well-made, and I’m glad I chose these!_mg_5189This little girl loved her cake so much (and couldn’t wait to play with the horses, of course)!
_mg_5170 _mg_5174 She was so excited for us to sing to her!_mg_5200 _mg_5202 Seriously… this cake was almost as fudgy as a brownie. Mmm._mg_5206 _mg_5208 Some of her presents included undies…_mg_5211 …a Hello Kitty shirt…_mg_5212 … and a “Chance” stuffed animal. She had asked for a “Chance snuggly animal”, and her reaction was just as adorable as I had hoped._mg_5216 Chance has gone everywhere with us ever since. I think he’s going to be a long-term favorite!_mg_5217 Her big gift was this horse stable from Grandma Debbie. I think Lelia and I enjoyed playing with it just as much as Kaya!_mg_5225During all the present-opening, Kaelyn had a good time goofing off with Uncle Jeff. These girls sure do love their aunts and uncles. 🙂
_mg_5220 We kept the decorations as low-key as ever, but we did surprise her with these cute horse balloons!_mg_5232 She also got to wear a fun rainbow tutu, which pretty much made her day!_mg_5237 _mg_5240 Jeff and Lelia brought their puppy, Fallon, so my girls had a great time playing with her all weekend._mg_5246 After the party, we cooked breakfast for dinner. French toast…_mg_5248 … scrambled eggs, and bacon!_mg_5249

Kaya even had a perfect day in Primary at church on Sunday. She got to stand up in front of everyone with her special birthday card while everyone sang to her (and I might have teared up watching from the back of the room… motherhood does crazy things to you!). They also had a lesson about God’s creatures, so her teacher brought in a cat for them to visit with (if you know Kaya, you know she loves cats)!

With all her rainbows, horse gifts, playing with Fallon, and holding a cat in Primary, I think she really had the perfect birthday weekend.

Happy Birthday Sweetie! I hope this is one you remember!

five on friday (04/22)

How is it Friday again? In a way, it feels like it’s always the weekend… and then sometimes, it feels like all we do is wait for the weekend to get here. Time is a funny thing. We’ve spent a lot of time outside this week, so I have a lot of happy, bright photos for today.

ONE. Last Saturday was “Virginia Tech Remembrance Day” (officially named so as of this year, by the governor). The university always hold a 5k run in memory of those who were lost that day, but I never sign up for it… all because I get too emotional about it. I lived on campus when the tragedy struck and lost a classmate, so it’s easy to feel sensitive about April 16th. Anyway, I ended up completing a solo. 7.8-mile, run that morning. It felt good to be in the sunshine, push my body a little harder than usual, and still spend time remembering the Hokies we lost 9 years ago.

TWO. Michael has been working so hard these days with his regular job, revamping his online camp registration system, and teaching a real college course. He hasn’t had a whole lot of time to play games, so I was happy to see him enjoying some time online with his brothers last weekend. Of course, Kaya had to join in! _MG_1606 THREE. Lately, we’ve been walking up to the bus stop to “pick up Daddy”, as Kaya says. She begs me to let her bring her baby doll stroller with us, and because it’s a short walk, I say yes. This is the happiest girl in the world right here._MG_1616

Kaelyn loves to see Daddy get off the bus. She was running to him as fast as she could when she saw him walking toward us! Of course, New Piggy has to go everywhere lately, too.

FOUR. We’ve been taking short family walks (which somehow still end up taking an hour when we let the little people stretch their legs), and enjoying all the sights of spring. Kaya loves to sit on any big rock she sees, so naturally, we had to sit down by the pond for a bit._MG_1622They also love the horses in a nearby field. This gray gelding is named “Chance” (I used to work over at the barn he’s at, so that is actually his real name), and he’s Kaya’s current favorite.
It’s on these warm sunny days that I really miss riding._MG_1626

FIVE. We tried a new soup recipe this week, and it was definitely something to make again. This Italian minestrone reminded me a lot of my days in Switzerland. It required a lot more vegetable-chopping than I normally like to do, but it was worth it!

Happy weekend!

Linking up here!

five on friday: hey dude!

Happpppy Friday! Five memorable moments from the week:

ONE. Kaya and her animals… she’s already a horse girl. We saw some of the horses I actually used to help care for a couple years back, and Kaya could not have been more content than to just stand there and watch them eat grass. Here she is with Chance… and now she names all her fruit snacks after him and has them make a blowing sound just like a real horse before she gobbles them up. (and no, her fruit snacks aren’t horse-shaped… they actually look like fruit. go figure!)Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset TWO. Clearance Easter candy. The best three words that can ever be said together, am I right? (okay, maybe besides “I love you”)… Cadbury eggs are my favorite and you can never go wrong with a stockpile of M&Ms for baking!Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset THREE. Because a pile of pillows and stuffed animals on the floor is waaay better than having them piled on your bed. Kaya constructed this mess, and I love how she even tucked herself in! Also, please notice Scruffy the teddy bear wearing her polo. She wants to change his name to “Panda”, but that could get confusing with two other animals already answering to that moniker in our house.04072015collage1 FOUR. Today is the end of an era- Jeff and Lelia are moving out of town. This was the fastest two years of my life, and I can’t believe it’s already time for them to have a new adventure. We went over there to help them load boxes last night and say our (temporary) goodbyes. I’m sad to see them go, but excited for all the new opportunities and experiences they’re about to have in this new stage of life. We love you guys!Processed with VSCOcam with a8 preset

FIVE. Love this girl and all the crazy things she says. “Hey dude!”

A video posted by Tara (@tarairwin) on

Hope you have a great weekend, “dude”! 🙂

Linking up with Christina and friends today!

friday favorites

This week, all the kids went back to school, and while it normally wouldn’t affect us, it does now, because Michael was called to be the early-morning seminary teacher for our church ward! His class starts at 6 am, so we’ve adjusted our routines and have been trying to get to bed a little earlier (which is something we’ve never been good at).

It’s obvious that he already loves his class. He’s definitely going to be an amazing teacher._MG_3684

Friday tradition states that someone brings breakfast in for the class. It was our turn this week, so I made my mom-in-law’s famous homemade cinnamon buns.Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetKaya has been crazier than ever… She runs from one end of the house to the other as fast as she can, happily yelling and giggling. She’s also finally figured out how to ride this stick pony that one of Michael’s coworkers gave her a few weeks ago. I’m betting she asks us for a real pony before the age of five.

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When she’s not being a wild monkey, she’s hiding in the kitchen cabinets. She makes Kitty hide among my tupperware in the opposite cabinet now, too._MG_3659

Kaelyn suddenly stopped looking like a newborn this week. She’s got a little chub in her cheeks now! If she’s not eating or sleeping, she’s usually smiling 🙂_MG_3722 08142014collage1

I could snuggle her all day… and sometimes I pretty much do.Processed with VSCOcam with a4 preset

I survived my first solo trip to the grocery store with both kids. There was pretty much no room in the cart, and we didn’t buy much, but I was just proud we did it!Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

We visited Michael at work yesterday, and unbeknownst to us, apparently it was “food truck day”. Michael splurged on a snow cone and Kaya loved feeding it to him. Eventually, she decided it was my turn too!Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 presetHappy Friday!!!Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

five on friday: (mostly) outside things

Every week seems to go by a little faster… am I right? Here are five of my favorite moments from this week:

ONE. Spring came to visit for a couple days, and we soaked up as much sunshine as we could. Kaya LOVED being able to run around all on her own and explore nature a little bit.

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She just didn’t like getting dirt on her hands…_MG_1559

TWO. We took a family bike ride on Monday evening, and it ended with these two climbing a tree. I love my little monkeys!Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

THREE. I made this foccacia bread for our paninis this week, and it was better than anything you could get at the store or even Panera. Mmmmm. The best part was that it was SO easy and took almost no skill. Seriously, if you can stir some ingredients together, you can make this bread. Try it!Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

FOUR. Babies are starting to be born 🙂 Michael sent me this picture from his bike ride last Saturday. I miss my horse time so much!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

FIVE. I’m in trouble. She’s figured out how to go get the stepstool, climb on it, and open drawers. She also learned how to unlock the dishwasher this week. Ahhh! (Also, please notice her amazing outfit… designed by daddy! Haha.)kayacollage03092014Happy Friday!

Linking up with Natasha, April, Christina, and Darci today!

five songs that bring back memories

I’m doing Tuesday Topics again this week (with Lauren and Tiffany), and the subject is “five songs that bring back memories”. I might not have been born in the south, but I am a country music junkie through and through, so here we go:

“Never Grow Up” (Taylor Swift) – When this song first came out, I was at an age I’d label as “new adult”. I was newly married, about to finish university and trying to figure out how the world works. I was stuck between wanting to still be a “kid” (although in many ways I still am), and being forced to tackle the challenges that come with growing up. Now when I hear it, I think about how fast my baby girl is growing. This song can make me cry every time I hear it, without fail.

“Drive” (Alan Jackson) – The first verse of this song brings me back to when I was a little girl and we’d take the boat out on the lake in the small town where I grew up. Those were the days before my brother was born, so it was just the three of us. I remember wearing that little fishy life jacket and watching the boat break up the waves. (I was 4 years old in this photo.)boatdrive

“Farmer’s Daughter” (Rodney Atkins) – I’d say this was one of Michael’s first “favorite” country songs, and it was also the song that Lelia had as her alarm when we did foal watch together a couple of springs ago. (Foal watch means that you sleep at the barn and wake up every couple hours to check on the mares… so I heard that song a lot)! It was dark, chilly, and even a little scary trudging out into the fields all by our lonesome. None of the mares foaled that night, so they just gave us these sleepy-eyed stares every time we checked on them. I always think of that night whenever I hear it now.

“It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” (Travis Tritt) –  I kid you not, this song comes on the radio every single time I’ve been going through a trial or just having a bad day. It’s such a good reminder that today can be a good day if we make it one, and this life really is something special.

“Wanted” (Hunter Hayes) – I first heard this song last year when I was pregnant with Kaya, and it made me cry my eyes out because it perfectly described the tiny princess I was so eager to meet. She was and is so wanted and I always want her to feel that way. Some of my favorite lyrics: “You know I’d fall apart without you…
I want to wrap you up…
I want to make you feel wanted
and I want to call you mine
Want to hold your hand forever
And never let you forget it
Yeah, I, I want to make you feel wanted”.

And now that I’ve gone all sappy on you… here’s a cute picture of Kaya to make up for it!_MG_6842

horse girl

Kaya came face-to-face with her future on Saturday….

IMG_20130406_153244Someday, they’ll show this picture at the Olympics after she wins the gold, and the caption will read “This is where it all began!”

We took Kaya out to the barn on Saturday, and she met (and pet!) Becky the pony and Pepsi the horse! She even reached out for Pepsi all on her own. I always knew she’d be a horse girl.

friday favorites

This is a pretty random post… but it’s my excuse to share a bunch of baby photos, make you drool over all the food I already ate, and brag about my husband. So…

– I wasn’t feeling too well for a few days this week (I hesitate to admit I was “sick”, because that’s just not hardcore. And we all know how hardcore I am. Anyway…). Michael worked from home one morning this week so that he could help with Kaya while I rested to get unsick feel better. He even washed all my dirty dishes before work started so I didn’t have to. I am one lucky gal.

– I got to see one of my favorite ponies ever (and by “pony”, I really mean horse. Lelia and I call pretty much everything a pony). I haven’t seen Rae in about a year, but I got to go out and just groom and love on him on Tuesday night. He hasn’t changed a bit!IMG_20130219_195239

– I made the most perfect muffins EVER. I’ve been experimenting with substitutions- these ended up with oat flour and whole wheat flour subbed in for the regular old white stuff. They are so moist, crumbly, and DELICIOUS.

_MG_2716– We also tried making vegetarian tacos (along with whole wheat tortillas made from scratch). In the words of Michael: “You can’t even tell the difference [between real meat tacos and these]!” I have to admit, they were pretty delicious and healthy and cheap.

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– Lelia and I finished making a quilt for our friends’ (Mike and Amanda’s) baby boy! It’s the first time we did a quilt on our own (aka no help from people with more sewing experience than ourselves). I think we did alright!_MG_2618

– Of course, this little princess is always the highlight of my week. I love how much she suddenly loves her stuffed animals.IMG_20130219_125831

Naptime snuggles are the best, especially when she holds my hand.IMG_20130221_092033

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Happy weekend!

ponies, pals, and pictures!

What on earth are you supposed to do with yourself when your husband is out of town on a business trip? Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about it too much because my best-ever-like-a-sister-to-me friend Lelia came up to visit and keep me out of help me get into trouble!

I haven’t had horse time in awhile, so it was pretty awesome when Lelia let me come out to the barn with her to visit all the pregnant mares, yearlings, and the ONE foal born so far! There is nothing I love more than spending time out there. Hours just fly by.

I was so excited to meet Jubilee’s colt, Sawyer! He sure is a handsome guy 🙂

Sleepy boy. It’s tough being a baby.

We trekked out far into the field to visit the yearlings. Tango and Amaretta wanted to eat my shoes!

Lelia got her pony cuddles from Prissy…

and big hugs for her favorite, of course, Rosie!

I got a hug, too. BFFs (even if she is super squinty)!

you better belize it

The first country we visited on our trip was Belize! We had to tender to shore. How exciting!

Michael and I had signed up for a trail ride at the Bacab Eco Park, so we were pretty excited!

Our horses were “Brownie” and “Ivan”. MIchael always gets the cute one. I’ll try not to pick on poor Ivan 🙁

We had a really great time and the tour guides definitely know so much about the plants and animals of the land. It was a “ravine forest”; not quite a rainforest. We heard Howler monkeys screaming in the trees, but didn’t get to see any. It was still pretty exciting!

We saw the tallest palm trees I have EVER seen in my life. Our guide told us that American hotels will pay $100 per foot of palm tree. Crazy!

 After the ride, we got to have a typical Belizean meal. Red beans and rice, fried plantains, and “Choo” chicken. I loved the spices. It was so delicious.

We ate lunch in this awesome hut. (That’s the national flag up there!)

We also saw a baby crocodile!

Michael was so excited to get in a hammock.

The day went so fast and I’d wished we had more time. Bye Belize!