dear kaelyn (2.5 years)

Dear Kaelyn,

I’ve been writing this letter to you in my mind for a couple of months now, but it always seems to take me so long to get it all written out. I want you to be able to look back on this someday, and know just what a wonderful little 2.5-year-old girl you were, and realize exactly how much your family loves you.

You are my sweet, calm little lady. Believe me, you know how to yell and make a ruckus when you’re being extra silly, but you truly seem to have a tranquil spirit. This age can be a rough one, but for the most part, you are good at following rules and not throwing tantrums.

You are independent. You want to do nearly everything on your own. I’m so proud of you for acting so grown-up and taking responsibility for what needs to get done.

You are loving, and you give the snuggest hugs your tiny arms are capable of. You wrap them around my neck and hold on until I pull away. Sometimes, you put your head against mine to cuddle (you do this to “hug” Nella, too). Every once in a while, you run over to me, give me a kiss (sometimes it’s in a random place, like on my arm), and then you return to whatever fun you were having. You never go to bed without finding me and your baby sister for goodnight kisses.

Kaya is your very best friend. No exaggeration, you two play together all day long. You both really love each other.You are an incredibly sweet big sister. You assumed your new role seamlessly, and you absolutely adore “baby Newwa”. You kiss her, hug her, and talk to her all day long. You’re also very defensive if you see someone touching anything of Nella’s (like her car seat, bouncer, or any toys), so you always say “uh-oh, Newwa’s!”

Your favorite colors are blue, purple, and pink (in that order). For months, you insisted that I use one blue and one pink hair band each time I made your pigtails. Now, you sometimes switch one of those colors out for purple. You always want to wear your hair in pigtails because you think they look like “puppy ears”, and you love pretending to be a dog.

You name your stuffed toys based on what they are or what sound they make. Your horses are all “Neigh-Neigh” and your baby doll is “Doll”, simple as that. I tried to get creative and ask you if she was named “Dolly Parton”, but you insisted on just “Doll”. I love how you know exactly what you want.

You love all animals, but your very favorites are dogs! I think you have more puppy items than Kaya has cats, which is saying something! Your tan dog named Cinnamon is your main best friend, and he has gone everywhere with you for the past few months. I’ve gotten you several Paw Patrol coloring books, stickers, and even sneakers, and they are some of your favorite things, even though you have no idea that those characters are actually from a television show.

You have a sweet, quiet sense of humor. You are always doing silly things to make us laugh! Lately, our running joke is after mealtime, when you dab your face just the tiniest bit with a washcloth and then ask me “clean?”, even though you know it’s definitely not. You wait for me to say “nooooo!”, and then you burst into a thousand giggles.

You pick out your own clothes each day, and your favorite outfits include anything with a pattern on them. Your favorites are your heart jeans, star pants, and polka dot purple jammies.Your language skills have exploded in the past couple of months. You’ve started speaking in sentences, and nearly every time you say something, your Daddy and I glance at each other as if to silently ask each other “did you hear how cute she just sounded?” A couple of my favorite things that you say are “peepeeboo” (instead of peekaboo) and “miss you guys” (which is what you say every Sunday after nursery or whenever you’re talking about how you missed us when we went to the hospital to have Nella).

You love to help me fold towels, put silverware in the drawer, and sweep the floor (although we’re still working on your technique on that last one).

You could do puzzles for hours (and I think sometimes you do in nursery), and you also love to sit and look at books or color. Whenever you see written letters, you’re always asking me what they are. You are very interested in learning. You also still seem to use your right and left hands equally when you’re coloring or trying to write.

You told us that when you grow up, you want to be a “blue nurse who takes care of babies”. I think you’d be perfect at that job.

You adore anything to do with Minnie Mouse (even though, once again, you don’t watch her show). You also have a somewhat strange affinity for this blue spatula Grandma Debbie gave you this past Christmas- you’ve even taken it to bed and nap time.

You’re not a picky eater. You are willing to try almost anything once, and you even like spicier things like pepperoni. You refuse to eat crust on anything though, like sandwiches and pizza. You love Greek yogurt, cheese, and cucumbers. Baking (and licking the beaters) is one of your favorite things to do.

I honestly feel like I don’t have as many photos of you as I should, but you usually don’t like to have your picture taken. You still need to learn to look at the camera and smile at the same time!

You still take a nap for about 2-2.5 hours every afternoon. Sometimes, you and Kaya goof off a little too much when you’re supposed to be resting, but I love hearing you giggle and play together.

We love you so much, Kaelyn Grace. Thank you for adding so much joy to our home.

Love, Mommy

happy birthday to me! (29)

On my birthday, I woke up to the sweetest surprise from my best friend- flowers and my favorite candy! These, vibrant, beautiful flowers ended up lasting for about two weeks, which is quite possibly the longest I’ve ever had anything green stay alive in my house.

The girls were so very excited to surprise me, and now that Kaelyn is using sentences, she repeatedly told me “happy burtday mama!” Her soft, sincere little voice melts my heart.
My birthday was on a Sunday this year, which meant that there wouldn’t be much time for celebrating, since we have church pretty much all day long. In addition to our regular schedule, we had our special New Beginnings program for the Young Women later that night. I love church, but I honestly was feeling a little disappointed that we wouldn’t have time to do anything special together as a family.
However, my heart immediately changed when I arrived at church and saw our Young Women, all excitedly shouting “happy birthday!” After all my previous feelings of disappointment, I realized that being with these amazing young ladies was right where I wanted (and probably needed) to spend my birthday. I made cinnamon rolls to bring to New Beginnings that evening, and we had a fun and uplifting day.
Later in the week, my mom came up to throw a belated mini birthday party for me. She read the girls all the books they asked her to and even played some games with them. No one can resist kissing these cheeks!And no one wants to nap when grandparents come to visit… until this happens:
My mom brought me a cookies and cream cake with fluffy, whipped frosting!My girls were so excited to have a tiny party for their mommy. I really can’t believe that all three of these little sweethearts are mine.
My mom gets all the credit for putting this birthday together! We’ve got some crazy blowing-out-the-candles faces, that’s for sure. My mom spoiled me with some potholders, kitchen utensils, and a shirt. The kids were so into helping me open everything that it almost turned into a race!

That’s the end of the birthday shenanigans. Here’s to making the last year of my twenties amazing!

five on friday (03/03)

Happy March! We’re on the brink of spring and sunshine, and I couldn’t be any more excited about the upcoming change of seasons.

We had a bit of a rough start to the week with Kaelyn and me coming down with colds. I think this sad little face says it all. Thankfully, she was better within a couple of days, and I’m almost back to normal. It really breaks my heart to see my babies feeling sick. Anyway, we still managed to fit some fun into the week:

ONE. The weather has been all over the spectrum, but we sure enjoyed the warmest day of the week by heading out for a walk and going to the playground. Kaya wanted to push Kaelyn on the swings, and she actually got her going pretty fast! Nella went on the swings for the very first time! She had no idea what was going on, and I just barely tapped the swing to get her moving, since she’s still a little wobbly with head stability. Bare baby toes in the sunshine are my favorite. TWO. Everyone wants to be just like Daddy…Michael’s desk has become the coloring station for Kaya and Kaelyn, sometimes as soon as they wake up in the morning!
THREE. Kaya came up with her own craft project this week… a Hello Kitty, of course! I’m proud of her for executing this idea with minimal instruction from me, and she was thrilled with how it turned out. FOUR. If you know me, you know this is long overdue, but I finally got the kids some French books! I had a really hard time narrowing down what I thought was worth buying to start out with, and I’m actually very happy with this small assortment. I pretty much jumped for joy each time one arrived in the mail, and I’ve loved reading them to the girls. Kaya has started using a few French words and phrases now and then, so obviously, I’m elated. FIVE. Sometimes, my favorite pictures are silly, blurry ones. Bedtime is usually chaos at our house, but I love this sweet eternal family of mine (plus, how cute are babies in jammies?)!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday (02/24)

There hasn’t been a whole lot of blogging over here this week… Sad! Having three kids can be busy, so if I don’t schedule time for it, it doesn’t happen. The USB receiver for my keyboard and mouse also mysteriously turned up snapped in half this week, so my computer wasn’t even usable. Life with kids! You know I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.

ONE. This little baby is falling more in love with her daddy every single day, and he’s fallen head over heels for her, too. She’ll spot him from across the room, fix her gaze on him, and smile until he notices her. Michael bonds with our babies the most once they start smiling and interacting with him (you know, after the first few months, when they’re essentially eating and pooping machines)! I’ve loved seeing them grow closer, and I look forward to seeing her light up for him when he comes home from work each day.

TWO. There’s nothing better than making cookies on a rainy day… unless they’re Hello Kitty cookies! I never ever buy cookie mix, but when I saw this, I knew how excited the girls would be, so I splurged. They loved putting the edible stickers on! I enjoy doing these little projects with them. THREE. Kaelyn has started tracing letters! I let her decide if she wants to participate when Kaya and I do school, and usually she does. This week, she got out her alphabet book and started matching the correct stickers to the letters and actually writing them. I get so excited to see her learning! FOUR. These kids are still crazy for the Kangaroo Kids program. They are on the go for the entire hour, but I did get them to sit still for one picture in this little boat ball pit.

FIVE. We’ve been having some amazingly warm weather here this week. We’ve been soaking up the sunshine (although, having summer-like temperatures in February does make me a little nervous about how hot the actual summer will be), going on walks, and enjoying time at the playground. I think I feel closest to my kids when we’re outside, playing and exploring together.Nella has loved riding in the stroller and being able to see the world! This means that Kaya is on foot now, but she’s a pretty good little runner and even likes to help push the stroller.

Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

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.

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!

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!)