kevin and tori’s wedding

So… you might as well wish Kevin and Tori a happy 3-month anniversary, because yes, these pictures are from August 2nd. I gave them their wedding DVD at the end of August, but honestly kind of forgot about the more personal photos I took that day. Better late than never, as they say! 🙂 (If you want to see the rest of the wedding go here!)

It was a perfect day for a wedding. The light was a photographer’s dream._MG_7991_MG_8174 Of course we all got a little crazy…_MG_8181 _MG_8179 Okay. A LOT crazy._MG_8176Michael took the photos of the girls, so he took the opportunity to leave this on my camera, too.
_MG_8203 Brothers 🙂_MG_8367 _MG_8360 _MG_8287 These next two crack me up:_MG_8321 _MG_8309 There’s nothing like a little girl and her grandpa. And yes, he let her stick her feet in the stream!_MG_8115

Love them._MG_8118 _MG_8127My best friends._MG_8429_MG_8397 Lelia and I’s corsages!_MG_8453 Pals!_MG_8466


(drafted Oct 27th)

Tonight we drove by our old apartment. Michael started reminiscing:

“We made snowmen in that field… and played baseball!”

My eyes welled up with a few tears.

Our home was so very tiny. It was adorned with dingy old furniture and even smelled musty no matter how much I’d clean. But it was ours, and we filled that little apartment with so many memories. It was our first home together.

Closing that door for the last time two and a half years ago ended a chapter in our newlywed life. We were finished with our undergraduate studies. There would be no more late nights studying or stressing about tests. That part of our life was over.

We opened another door by moving to a larger place. The extra room became Lelia’s for a semester that passed all too quickly. Another door closed when she graduated and moved away, but it was only a couple weeks later that we learned we’d be adding a baby to our family.

Deciding to have a baby closed the door to more schooling or any kind of career for me. I knew it was important to stay home with my daughter.

Kaya was born and a completely new part of my heart was opened. I can’t remember what it was like not to know this kind of love.

Maggie passed away, but her loss allowed us to adopt Jax.Nothing is as constant as change

All throughout our lives, we are opening and closing these figurative “doors”. It both exhilarates and frightens me. The choices we make each day are shaping our futures- who our friends are, what kind of people we’ll become, where we’ll settle down, and so on.

We’ve been doing it all along, but somehow, I’ve only just realized it. What amazes me the most is that even when one opportunity ended, there was always another just waiting to open up. Our Heavenly Father is always looking out for us. He’s there. He loves us, and He wants us to find joy in the journey of life.

I’m so grateful for today, because it was all the subtle changes of yesterday that got us here. We are stronger, wiser, and a little more thankful than we used to be.

crayons flying, puppies lying, costume trying

ONE. I know I already talked about this pumpkin bread a couple weeks ago… but seriously. I have been wanting to make it again ever since we finished the last batch. I finally succumbed to my sweet tooth (it usually wins, anyway) and made some on Wednesday night. Luckily, Lelia and the sister missionaries came by and helped eat some of it!_MG_9695TWO. While I was baking, this little princess was coloring and throwing crayons all over the kitchen. I love having my little pal right at my feet. (Speaking of feet… aren’t her little toes just precious?)_MG_9681THREE. We’ve all been super sleepy this week. Kaya’s naps have been longer, and I even got an ultra-long one on Tuesday. I’m so glad to have my own personal space heater…IMG_20131022_103914FOUR. We still haven’t decided on Halloween costumes… I am seriously slacking as a mom. Hopefully I figure it out soon because I only have a few days to make whatever it is we choose! Although, I did procrastinate last year, too… and Kaya was so cute. And TINY. Let’s reminisce for a moment:_MG_6121 FIVE. My baby is craaazy. Don’t wear ear buds for this because she will make you hard-of-hearing (and please excuse my congestedness)!

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


It’s that time of year.
The mornings are becoming cold and dark.
Warm blankets and sweatpants call out to me a little louder than usual.
My sweet tooth runs wild and all I want to do is bake._MG_9692A tired puppy cuddles up against my back to keep me warm.
Snuggling and nursing my baby is the very first thing I look forward to each morning.
Leaves are falling.
Winter winds are coming.
I love autumn.

mommy & me

I try to get into pictures with Kaya sometimes, so that when she’s all grown up she can see us together (and know that her mama really was there, and not always the one taking the pictures…)

I felt like playing with my $3 camera remote (I finally got a new battery for it), so here we are! (Yes, she’s eating Cheesits. No, of course I don’t bribe my baby…)
_MG_9662Jax is still practicing his photo-bombing.

Linking up with Emily and Leah!

kaya- 13 months!

_MG_963713monthsHeight: 31 inches
Weight: 20 pounds 5 ounces
Clothing size: 9-12 month pants, 9-12 month onesies, and both 9-12 and 12-18 month jammies.
Eyecolor: Hazel/Gray.
Teeth: Twelve! She now has teeth G, F, E, D, O, P, N, Q, L, S, B and most of I.
Eating: Her appetite has increased dramatically this month. I’m amazed at how much she can fit in that little tummy! Her favorite foods are: bananas, Cheerios covered with strawberry yogurt, cheese, cucumbers, pizza, pretty much any Mexican recipe, and chicken and dumplings. Michael sometimes shares his morning muffin with her, and she will do anything for a cheesit.

We’re still nursing three times per day. I tried to drop her down to two and substitute whole milk for the afternoon, but she’s just not ready (and honestly, I’m in no hurry, either). She would take sips of whole milk if she was thirsty and/or didn’t realize that that’s what was in her cup, but now she doesn’t want anything to do with it._MG_0071 Words: (from most-used to least-used) Daddy, Hi, Kitty, Mama. She also knows the sound a “horsey” makes (it involves a lot of spitting). Other than that, she does a whole lot of babbling.
Favorite things: Kitty is still number one! Other favorite toys include her ball-popper, pumpkins, her number puzzle, real keys, and all my food containers in the kitchen cabinets. She loves playing in the bathtub, listening/dancing to music, and giving the puppy his toys or bone. Daddy coming home is the best moment of her whole day.
Dislikes: Actually getting washed in the bath and being told “no”.
Sleep: Going to bed around 7 pm and waking up for the day between 6-7am. She still takes two naps, but they’ve moved around and been either longer or shorter than they used to be, depending on the day. Her schedule is less predictable right now, but it seems easier to move nap time around if we need to go out, etc.
Milestones, etc.: -WALKING! She hardly ever crawls anymore, which makes me a little sad (because it means all the “baby” things she used to do are slowly disappearing), but it’s so cute to see her toddling around. She was taking a few steps before her birthday, but now she can walk anywhere unassisted and doesn’t fall unless she tries to go too fast.
-She opens books and “reads” to us. It’s hilarious (and loud!)
-She’s started to “help” me. If she sees me putting something away, she’ll start doing it, too. She likes to help unload the dishwasher or put wet laundry in the dryer.
-Climbing has become an Olympic sport around here.
-Auntie Lelia taught her to color, and she loves it now. She makes so many pretty pictures!
-She throws the ball for Jax.
-She “feeds” us her food.
-If she sneaks into the bathroom without me noticing, she flushes the toilet!
-Anything and everything is a toy phone to her.
-She’s started to use objects the right way (i.e., she picks up a brush and combs her hair)!

Dear Kaya,

I know I say this every month… but I. LOVE. YOU! You just keep blossoming into an even more amazing person each and every day. You have such zeal for life and all the little joys that come with it._MG_963413months You definitely keep your daddy and me laughing. You make the funniest faces and the loudest yells! You’re walking now, and you’re getting pretty fast. You’re friendly to everyone, and you like to cuddle when you’re sleepy._MG_9647We love you to the moon and back, Baby Bird.

autumn leaves

Sometimes, you just have to interrupt nap time to let her play in her favorite pajamas in the leaves._MG_9617 Every year around this time, I start to get a little nostalgic. The fall seems to have so much meaning for me.kayaleaves20131The cool air and crunchy leaves take me back to ten falls ago. My dad, brother and I would ride our bikes in the evening, just until it got too dark. My mom would have warm cookies waiting for us when we returned home.

Seven falls ago, when I first started going to church.


Five falls ago, when I first started dating Michael, and no amount of time we spent together was ever enough.

Two falls ago, when all our hopes revolved around adding a sweet baby to our little family.kayaleaves20133And last fall, when we were blessed with the most beautiful (and crazy!) baby girl._MG_9618

I’m so thankful for falls.

my dog is a photobomber

Happy Friday! This has been one of the most relaxed weeks we’ve had in a while, so here are five of my favorite “simple” moments:

ONE. Her eyes. Have you ever seen any more beautiful? It’s the number one compliment she receives. (and yep… she was coming after my camera here…)_MG_0159 TWO. She loves playing in the bath, until I start the actual washing part… good thing Daddy was there to save her (with the most adorable little lion towel)!_MG_0162

THREE. These awesome new $1 socks I found at Michael’s (the craft store) and FOUR. My photo-bombing dog. He’s clingy (just a little lot). Most of the time, I’d rather not be squashed by his over-affectionate tendencies, but I can’t help feeling flattered. IMG_20131016_101600FIVE. I made this mac ‘n cheese on Tuesday. It turned out decently good… except that I don’t know what on Earth I was thinking when I made an entire box of pasta for three people (Kaya refuses to eat it… which is odd. She eats any other kind of pasta with cheese…). We still have a TON of it left and it’s Friday. Lucky for me, Michael never complains about eating leftovers for days (although I could definitely go for something else… like pizza *cough Michael cough*…)

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

4 AM

I originally drafted this on June 10, 2013 and never published it. We don’t have nighttime wake-ups anymore, so I cherish these thoughts even more so now.

Four A.M.
Sleepy little whimpers.
You squeeze my hand.
Perfect little baby rolls on your arms and legs.
A belly full of milk,
and you’re drifting back to dreamland.
Rain’s outside your window.
The whole world rests, oblivious.
With soft deep breathing,
I feel you fall asleep.
My entire world stops
in a tiny rocking chair in the corner of your room.PHOTO_20130611_145739

pumpkin pickin’ 2013

Saturday was our day to go pumpkin picking! I was sooo super excited, because when I was a kid, this was a yearly tradition. I couldn’t wait to take Kaya and have fun as a family. (We did go last year, but Kaya was tiny and slept through the whole event!)

We tried a new farm this year and loved it! It was perfectly located in the beautiful, rolling Virginia hills, and it wasn’t overpriced like most places we’ve been.

Kevin and Tori were passing through town on their cross-country drive, so we were happy to have them join us. It’s not every day that all the Irwin siblings are together!
IMG_0119 We took a hayride to the pumpkin patch!_MG_0091Love these two with my whole heart (plus some…)
_MG_0094 _MG_0089 Of course, we got a little crazy (it wasn’t even a long ride… but apparently this is the only way we have fun!)_MG_0098 They had a corn maze. We all split up in different directions and still made it out alive! The pumpkin patch was right up the trail, so a-pickin’ we went!kayapumpkins20134Kaya’s excitement definitely didn’t disappoint. She LOVED the pumpkins and just couldn’t stop pointing at them, holding them, or trying to lift them.kayapumpkins20132

There was a tractor made out of hay bales, so naturally, we had to “drive” it. Kaya was really unsure of it._MG_0106We visited with some ewe lambs (chunky ones, at that).
_MG_0127 Kevin and Tori chucked some pumpkins!_MG_0122 And then I took waaaaay too many pictures of Kaya. But just look at that face! No mama could resist._MG_0137 kayapumpkins20131 Like I said, she loves pumpkins (I also wish I had a picture of what was going on behind me to get her to laugh… we have a crazy family!)kayapumpkins20133We paid for our pumpkins and browsed their tiny shop of homemade goodies… including some amazing fudge! We might just have to go back sometime soon 🙂

Happy Fall!