kaelyn: 15 months

_MG_9374Height: 30 inches (36%)
17 pounds 10 ounces (0.55%)
Head Circumference:
17.75 inches (27%)
Clothing size:
 Although her 12-month onesies were still fitting well, I switched all her clothes out for 18-month size stuff, mostly because it isn’t summer anymore and we needed some warmer items.
Eyecolor: Blue.
Teeth: Just the four still!_MG_9367Eating: She’s still nursing 3-4 times per day, and she has been eating as much as she wants at mealtime. She really loves any kind of shredded chicken (tacos or Hawaiian haystacks), any flavor of Greek yogurt (besides coconut), grapes, and olives. She also liked trying pumpkin bread!

However, we saw a different doctor than we almost always do (at the same practice) for her 15-month appointment, and she did show some concern about Kaelyn’s weight (even though her height went up). She suggested really trying to put some weight on her between now and her next appointment at 18 months, or they want to start doing some tests to be sure there isn’t a thyroid problem/growth-related issues.

Of course, as her mom, I have been a little worried about all of that and am trying hard to get her to eat more solids (she just doesn’t put a whole lot of food down). She will eat if I keep spooning it in her mouth, but it makes her so sad, so I’m not enthused about it either. Make her eat to prove to this doctor that she can grow, or let her continue to eat as she wants? I’ve always been more of a “hands off” kind of mom so this decision has been harder to navigate.
New words:
 New things she’s said this month include Baba (her nickname), Mama, hello, and she now growls like a baby dinosaur when we ask her to/Kaya is pretending to be a dinosaur too.
Favorite things:
Her stuffed Piggy, pushing the toy shopping cart or baby stroller around, riding in the cozy coupe car or even just sitting in it, and pushing any toy car around. She can entertain herself by reading a book for an extensive length of time, too.

This is also really random, but she LOVES this wedding photo I have sitting on my nightstand, and asks to hold it just about every morning when she wakes up. Sweet girl._MG_9160Dislikes: Getting her face wiped and laying down for diaper changes.
She goes down around 7:30 pm and gets up around 6 or 6:30 am typically. Sometimes she’ll fall back to sleep in the morning or still take her little power nap around 10:30 am. It seems like she’s been able to start going without that extra nap lately, though. Official naptime is around 1:30 and she’ll typically sleep for about 3 hours.
Baba, Baba Grace.
Milestones, etc.:
-She is WALKING! She is trying so hard and is able to take a few steps on her own with no support from anyone or anything. She also stands up all on her own (no grabbing onto anything or pulling up) from a sitting position.

-She loves to push the doll stroller around and can go from one end of the house to the other, and even pivots to turn around without falling down!_MG_9329-She loves to show us where her belly button is when we ask… 🙂_MG_9386-She can actually feed herself pretty well with a spoon! She doesn’t make a mess until she is tired of eating and gets bored.

-She’s made up her own sign for “more” (and it’s always the same)- she holds her hand out, makes a fist, releases it, and then does it again. So cute.

-She is SO sensitive to any kind of “negative” speaking (i.e. “no”, “don’t do that”, etc.) and will bust into tears so easily. Poor sweet baby. I feel especially bad for her when Kaya overreacts to something and makes her so upset.

-She loves “pretending” to wash her own hair, brush her hair, eat food, etc.

-She is always trying to get herself dressed! Anytime she sees something fall out of the (clean) laundry basket, she tries to put it on, whether it’s her shirt, Kaya’s pants, or even… Kaya’s underwear. Hahaha._MG_9163Dear Kaelyn,

Oh sweet girl, you are still so mild-mannered, calm, and easy-going. You love everyone and make so many people happy just by being around them.

Whenever Daddy gets you out of your crib in the morning, he carries you, holds your hand, and whisks you to whatever room I’m in to immediately say hello. You are always beaming with delight when our eyes meet for the first time that day.

I can’t get over how beautiful you are, especially when you’re smiling. I don’t really think you look like anyone in the family in particular, but you sure are cute as a button._MG_9324I love you Kaelyn Grace. Keep smiling.

Love, Mommy

daddy-daughter time

There’s something so amazing about seeing your child’s beautiful, smiling, happy face.

And then there’s something even more wonderful about watching your child beaming from ear to ear because she’s having fun with her daddy.

One of my very favorite things about motherhood is being able watch my husband enjoy fatherhood. Seeing our little girls scramble for the door when he comes home, hug him, climb all over him, and snuggle up to him warms my heart.

I love how they trust him and know that he’ll always be there for them.

Michael has been having some great daddy-daughter time with his girls lately. Last weekend, he took Kaya on a “date” to a free Build and Grow activity at Lowe’s. They were building a toy firetruck and Kaya could not have been more excited.

Michael said that she was a little apprehensive of all the hammering at first, and he did most of the real building, but she helped put the stickers on it. She was so excited to drive it around before the wheels were even on!

collage109262015They had so much fun together and she was so proud of her new firetruck! She couldn’t wait to show her stuffed animals (and mommy, too)! 🙂

As soon as he arrived home from work yesterday, Kaya shouted “Have a picnic with me, Daddy!” and all three of them sat down on a blanket on the kitchen floor, prayed, ate invisible food, and drank pretend juice._MG_9356 I love my three sweethearts and the way they care for each other._MG_9360

five on friday (09/25)

We’ve been spending most of our week playing outside (in drizzle or sunshine), so I just have a bunch of phone pictures for you this week. They might not seem very momentous to anyone, but being outdoors with my kids is my definition of happiness, so these are some of my favorites.

ONE. This is the first year that Kaya has been so aware of the change in seasons. She was fascinated that so many leaves are now on the ground instead of on the trees! She might have carried this one all the way home to show Daddy.
TWO. I feel like this photo perfectly sums up their sisterhood: the little sister looks to the big one for guidance and direction, and the big sister tenderly takes her by the hand and makes sure she’s safe. All while pretending to nurse Kitty, because he was hungry of course. Haha.

THREE. My dad restored this old tricycle to give to all his grandchildren, and since Kaya is the oldest grandkid, she obviously has first dibs. She had her very first ride on it this week and absolutely loved it. We didn’t think she’d make it very far, so she truly surprised us when she pedaled for about 1.5 miles. My kid is hardcore.

FOUR. I have the cutest baby ever… and I just can’t get over how adorable she looks with these little neon sneakers that I picked up for $3.50. Her shirt says #toocute and I think it’s spot-on accurate. 🙂

FIVE. Because we all know how obsessed I am with these Google video compilations… and you know you want to see three crazy girls go down the slide all at once…

Happy weekend everyone!

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.

happy 3rd birthday, kaya!

Dear Kaya,

You are a big 3-year-old girl now! Part of me can’t believe it, but another part of me feels like we’ve had you in our family forever. You have grown and changed so much in those three short years, and now that you are talking in sentences, I feel like we are really beginning to see who you are. It’s always harder for me to write these letters now that you’re older, because it just doesn’t seem like a few paragraphs are enough to sum up your whole being._MG_9248There are so many things about you at this age that I never want to forget.

You are so tender-hearted. I frequently call you a “little mommy”, because you are always taking care of someone or something. You love to help give Kaelyn baths, feed the guinea pigs, and are always checking in with me by asking, “need help Mommy?” When no one needs anything, you pretend that one of your stuffed animals is sick, sad, or “can’t find its mommy”, so you cuddle and rock it until it feels better. You have a lot of pretend friends, but Kitty is still your number one favorite. You also have to have your purple cat blanket at all times._MG_9245

You love to help me bake (and lick cookie dough). We seldom give you treats, but you’ve loved anything you’ve tried (especially everything chocolate). You love it when we sporadically get donuts for breakfast.

Nearly every morning, you beg me to go on a walk. You love to go outside, run, and play on the playground. If we’re at home, you’re almost always pushing your doll stroller around or riding in your cozy coupe car.

Walking to the bus stop to meet Daddy is the highlight of your day (especially if I let you push your doll stroller up there).

You love all animals, but I’d say your favorites are puppies and kitties._MG_9226

You love Frozen (but mostly just Olaf, and it’s really the only movie you’ve seen), and after letting you watching a little Daniel Tiger, you’ve fallen in love with that, too.

It took almost an entire year of going to nursery at church until you were comfortable enough to be in there without Daddy. Now, you absolutely love it (especially story time and singing time) so much that you are not always ready to leave when Daddy comes to pick you up._MG_9250You pay attention to details, too. If there is anything new or different in your room (i.e. the closet door is open or there’s a toy that shouldn’t be there or a stuffed animal is missing) when we put you down for bed or nap, you get upset about it and call for us until we come and fix it.

You love to take pictures and have your picture taken. You will use my phone any chance you can to snap some photos (usually of Kitty or Kaelyn). Sometimes you even tell me that you didn’t “get a good one” because it’s “too bwurry (blurry)”. Haha!_MG_9322You’ve sincerely (and regularly) started telling us “I love you” and usually add in “have a good day!” for Daddy when he leaves for work.

You still don’t like getting your face wet, which makes baths almost traumatic at times. You don’t voluntarily put your face underwater at the pool, either.

This is surprising to me (especially when several of your friends have already stopped napping completely), but you still need a 3-hour nap in the afternoon. You usually go to bed around 8:30 pm and wake up around 7:30-8 am. And yes, you still insist on sleeping on the floor next to the baby gate and will move all your animals down there with you.

You are shy and reserved when you are with new people, but once they get to know you… you’re crazy (in the best way), so bubbly, and fun.

You pretend to call people on the phone (usually it’s Grandma, sometimes it’s Uncle Jeff or Auntie Lelia). You jabber on and on and usually tell them all about your day.

You are completely potty-trained (with the exception of nighttime).

Reading books is definitely one of your favorite things to do! You memorize the storylines and “read” them back to us now. You are great at singing your ABCs, counting, and you know all your colors (most of the time). Lately, you have even started asking me to spell out words for you when we read, and I’ve heard you spell the K-A-Y of “Kaya” once.

We still call you Peeky (you prefer that name) and I almost hope that never changes.

Many people don’t see it, but Kaya… you are a mini version of your mommy. You look so much like my baby pictures, but more than that, our personalities are so similar. Even at this age, there are times that I can tell exactly what you’re feeling or thinking because we are so much alike.

Daddy and I love you so much, Kaya Bird. You have added so much joy to our lives._MG_9243Happy 3rd Birthday, sweetie!

three years of motherhood

It’s no secret that I tend to get sentimental around my babies’ birthdays. Really, is there any mom who doesn’t?

Obviously, I was emotional about Kaelyn turning one just a few months ago, but there is something that pulls on my heartstrings a little extra hard when Kaya’s birthday rolls around.

Probably because it’s not only her birthday, but also the anniversary of when I first became a mom. And that is one of my favorite memories of all time.

I see all these super-pregnant women around just waiting to have their first babies, and silently, I think about all the things I could tell them.

Mostly, I could sum it all up in one sentence:

Mama, your world is about to be rocked.

Sure, you’ll have the sleepless nights, lots of crying, and toddler tantrums. Your body might never be the same, and your life certainly won’t be, either. Sometimes, you might even forget who you used to be before you became “just mom”.

But really, these little babies change everything in the best way.

You’ll think you love that little person who miraculously comes from your own body when you first meet. And you will.

But just wait until she smiles at you for the first time. When she gives you a giant kiss and slobbers on your whole face. That first time she throws her arms around your neck and genuinely tells you “I wuv mommy”. When you laugh together for so long that your cheeks hurt.

Just wait until your baby is sick, and she needs you to sit with her while she throws up.

Just wait until she gets hurt and needs to go to the hospital for stitches. When she comes home afterward, her face so swollen that she barely recognizes herself in the mirror. Your heart will be in your throat, and you’d do anything to trade places with her so that she wouldn’t have to go through this.

Through it all, you’ll feel like you love her a thousand times more than you did when you met her that first day.

She changed my world forever. Everything is a little more beautiful. Moments are a bit more precious. Love is a whole lot stronger.

I’m still kind of new to this motherhood thing, but I can’t help thinking that that is exactly how it should be.

I’m so thankful for this kind of love and that I get to spend my days with my two little girls.

Thanks for making me a mama, sweet Kaya.


We had a great weekend, with a lot of church meetings and some family time mixed in. I had an auxiliary training meeting for Young Women’s on Saturday morning. Afterward, I came home, napped with the kids, and then we headed out to the mall for some family time.

I don’t know what it is about going to the mall together, but it’s one of my favorite things to do as a family. We don’t even shop, and it’s a TINY little row of stores (many people even mock it for being called a “mall” at all), but we always have a good time.

We used to always go there and get something from Dairy Queen, but then it suddenly closed last winter, so we just stopped going to the mall completely. Well… I realized that it wasn’t the ice cream that I liked so much as just sitting with my family, people watching, and getting out of the house together.

So we went and tried a new (to us, it’s probably been there at least a year) cookie place and enjoyed our family time. They even had milkshakes, so we let Kaelyn try a few sips for the first time…
… and she loved it! But who wouldn’t love some frozen chocolate?
We let Kaya pick out her own cookie, and she chose Elmo. She’s never watched him on TV and doesn’t even know what Sesame Street is, so I’m thinking she just liked his happy face. Either way, I’m sure she made Grandpa Skip proud (he’s always singing the Elmo’s World song… la la la la… and now it’s stuck in your head. you’re welcome)!
We let them play on the mall playground, and it was so obvious to us how happy Kaelyn was for doing something “big kids” would do. She just couldn’t stop laughing and smiling ear to ear. Google auto-awesomed this super corny movie…

We window shopped and found a new toy store. Kaya danced and squealed in front of the window until we had to leave because the mall was closing. I love how much joy she receives from the smallest things.
Sunday was a pretty typical day at church. Sometimes, we give our neighbor a ride, and when we do, I sit in the back with the babies. I wanted a picture with Kaya, but the only way she’d take one was if she could make goofy face. This is what she came up with… haha! Love my crazy girl so much.
Michael took this when we came home after meetings and sent it to me. I just had to include it because it sums up our Sundays perfectly. He got her out of the car seat and into the house without waking her up!

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!

at the crossroads

We’re at that time of the year when summer is winding down, but fall isn’t quite here yet. It’s somewhat of an in-between, with the best parts of both seasons combined.

It’s refreshingly cool in the mornings, but the sun still beats down hotly in the afternoons. There’s the scent of fallen apples on the walking path, but the smell of sunscreen, chlorine, and sweat still on our skin.

The pool is still open, but only in the evenings, and it’s closing for the season tomorrow. We’ve spent countless hours there this summer, and I’ve loved watching my girls grow to really love the water. I can only hope that we still live in a community with pool access again next year.

Summer almost demands messy hair, comfy clothes for playing outside, and a slower daily pace. Fall was always my favorite season, but I’ve been holding on to every last drop of all this. The fresh, cool autumn seems to last a few short weeks before our hills are covered in snow and the next polar vortex sweeps through.

No matter the season, I’m grateful for all the memories we’ve made as a family this summer just by spending more “intentional” time together. (for the record, Kaya had no interest in being in this picture with us… sad!)Here’s to autumn and more good things to come.

labor day long weekend

Yes, I’m finally writing about our weekend… on a Wednesday! Since we had Monday off, I think I can cut myself some slack though, right? #ijustkeepthinkingitsonlytuesday

We didn’t do anything monumental by any means, but we did have some relaxing family time, and that’s always what I like best. On Saturday, Grandma texted us and told us that they were getting Chinese, and I made the mistake of reading it aloud. For the rest of the day, Kaya kept reiterating “I want Chineeeeeese”. Who are we to deny a little girl happiness?

She even offered to drive, but her feet don’t quite reach the pedals yet (and yes, she buckled Kitty in too)!

Kaelyn knows what to do at a Chinese buffet (she was sure to wear her favorite blue necklace out on the town, too)…

I think it’s pretty obvious that I have the best husband ever- he let me sleep in on Monday morning, went and donated platelets at the Red Cross during nap time, and then did all my grocery shopping. Oh, and how sweet is he for reading to our princesses?_MG_9195Lelia came down for the football game on Monday night, so she joined us for dinner (these amazing chicken tacos). When she headed to the game, we went out for a walk and to the playground.

Sadly, the Hokies lost… but Lelia stuck around until nap time on Tuesday to hang out with us! She made up a counting puppy song with my babies, and even watched them so I could take a shower without having to worry about one kid injuring the other (real life mom problems, you guys)… Then she came out for a walk with us. We had a genuinely good time and it was so great to catch up with each other.

Kaya loves her Auntie Lelia so much, and when she left after lunch, Kaya said “Lelia move away? Oh. Miss her.” She’ll be back in about a week for your birthday, sweetie!