five on friday (09/30)

ONE. We made our very first pumpkin bread of the season this morning! Kaelyn was very excited to help (i.e. dump flour and spices out of the bowl and onto the counter), and it turned out tasting just as heavenly as ever. There’s just something about a rainy morning and the scent of warm pumpkin that make it really feel like fall. This little sweetie couldn’t get enough of licking the batter!

TWO. Speaking of pumpkins, the girls have painted mini ones twice now. I saw some at Food Lion and decided to surprise them, and they eagerly decorated them. We set them outside to dry… and then it rained, and all their hard work was erased. Luckily, they were excited that they had the chance to do it again, instead of being sad that their masterpieces were destroyed.

Can you tell what Kaelyn’s favorite color is? _mg_5388

THREE. Sometimes, Michael will randomly snap a picture of the girls when he’s taking my weekly belly picture, and lately, I’ve been surprised with some really cute ones when I upload photos from my memory card. Kaya has been so excited to wear the new “button jacket” (denim jacket) that she got for her birthday!_mg_5407FOUR. My friend, Bianca, surprised Kaya with some kinetic sand for her birthday, and these girls love it. They’ve been making cookies and having invisible people over to come eat them. I love their imaginations, haha!_mg_5400

FIVE. We’ve had a couple of “picnics” (a.k.a. any time the girls eat their sandwiches anywhere other than home) this week! Kaya and Kaelyn love doing this, even though it’s the same old lunch that they always have. I had nearly back-to-back doctor appointments on Wednesday, and we had just enough time to stop at the park to eat.

Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

kaelyn’s 2-year portraits

It seems like I am always a little late getting Kaelyn’s yearly portraits done. Sometimes, I think it’s actually harder to do it when you’re the photographer- it’s too easy to break your own scheduled “appointment” because you’re tired or your kids are cranky.

Then again, it’s such a blessing to be able to wait for absolutely perfect lighting._mg_4878 We love this little girl so much, but honestly, she doesn’t love the camera. It’s hard to get her to look at it, nevermind smile at the same time! We were really lucky this day and ended up with some fantastic grins._mg_4870 _mg_4869 Daddy and Kaya get credit for making her laugh!_mg_4890 Love my little barefoot beauty._mg_4909 CHEESE!_mg_4913 And just because she makes some of the funniest little faces…_mg_4914 We love you, Kaelyn Grace!_mg_4920

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!

baby #3: 36 weeks

36weeksBaby’s size: Around 6 pounds and 19 inches long. Every book/app seems to say something different, so I try to go with whatever the most average measurements are. However… I had my 36-week appointment, and my fundal height measured at 31-32 weeks. Suddenly I’m four to five weeks behind? I’m scheduled for a growth ultrasound this coming week, so hopefully we’ll get a good look at her actual size.

Maternity clothes?: Yep. I’m hoping I can still wear tees and shorts for these last few weeks (I have maternity jeans, but no long sleeves). I’m okay with the fall weather waiting to get here until I can fit into my jackets and sweaters again.

Gender: Sweet baby girl!

Symptoms: Still some sciatica. It seems to strike out of nowhere, and it doesn’t seem to matter if I’ve been sitting or standing for most of the day.

Sleep: I wake up a lot at night, but when I’m sleeping, it’s actually pretty good-quality shut-eye. I dream about holding her almost every night, and I had another dream about what she looked like this week. I’m holding on to that image of her sweet, chubby cheeks and big beautiful eyes as I get through these last few weeks of pregnancy.

Movement: Still lots! Her movements are getting more painful though.

Cravings: None.

What I miss: Just having running/getting around being easier.

Anything making you queasy or sick?: I’ve mostly felt good this week!

Belly Button in or out?: Flat and sometimes poking out.

Exercising?: Ran 19.9 miles, walked 1 mile. Fitbit total: 76,842 steps. Somehow it seems like I need a bathroom break after the first mile of running, but after that, I’m usually good for another 2-3 miles. I’m still not sore or in any pain when I’m running, which amazes me, because I think I had some serious hip pain with my other babies by this point. I think the support belt and better shoes have a whole lot to do with it.

Mood: Phew. I have been pretty emotional about everything this week. More details on that below.

Best moment this week: Taking Kaya out on her real birthday and celebrating her!

Looking forward to: Seeing this little girl at our ultrasound this week, and hopefully hearing that she is growing well in there.

Big sisters: They practically squabble over who gets to kiss my belly first/for the longest amount of time. They love this little baby so much. I can’t wait for them to kiss her for real when she arrives!

Comparison: 36 weeks with Kaya; 36 weeks with Kaelyn. Same shirt, same weight, such different bellies!comparison36weeksbaby3

Anything else?: Since my fundal height measured 4-5 weeks behind, I have a growth ultrasound this coming week. One of the midwives warned me that if the baby is under the tenth percentile for size, they’d discuss inducing at 37 weeks. I know that is a big “if”, but it has made me so nervous! Induction is something I’d like to avoid, but I also just want to know my baby is okay.

I also found out this week that I tested positive for Group B streptococcus (GBS), so that complicates my hope for an unmedicated birth a bit. I really would have liked to labor at home for as long as possible, but I need to get there at least four hours before she’s born to receive the required antibiotics. It just makes things a little trickier.

five on friday (09/23)

Nothing too exciting has happened this week, but I’m soaking up all these calm, “mundane” moments before our world is completely rocked (in the best possible way!) by a baby so very soon!

Here are our top five:

ONE. Kaya got her first-ever pair of (clip-on) earrings this week! We took her to the mall on her real birthday and let her pick out whichever ones she wanted. She chose a set of butterflies! If she wanted her ears pierced, I’m completely okay with it- but she’s just not ready. Maybe in a few years!_mg_5255She’s been excited about them all week long… and I think they make her look at least 5 years older (even with this goofy grin)! 🙂_mg_5259

TWO. We played this “say and spray” alphabet game this week and my girls loved it. Luckily, Daddy came home just in time to finish writing out the alphabet so that I didn’t have to bend over this huge 36-week belly anymore!_mg_5258 _mg_5252

THREE. Suddenly, Kaelyn is saying many, many new words every single day. I absolutely love this little voice, and I’m grateful for improving our communication, too. Seriously, how sweet is the way she says “birthday”?

A video posted by Tara (@tarairwin) on

FOUR. We worked on the letter U for preschool this week, so of course, we had to make unicorns! Kaya was all over this since it involved using rainbow yarn, and Kaelyn actually put hers together without much guidance from me. I love any colorful crafts we can hang on the fridge._mg_5394

FIVE. We picked out some new library books this week. It’s hard to get them to narrow down their choices, and we always end up coming home with somewhere around 15 books these days. I love their enthusiasm for reading!09222016collage1

Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

happy 4th birthday, kaya!

Dear Kaya,

It’s hard to believe that four years have already passed since I first held you in my arms. You were our first little miracle, and each day, I am still filled with gratitude and wonder that your care has been entrusted to us._mg_5170

You are a nurturer. Compassion comes naturally to you, whether it’s for a baby, a plant, an animal, or anyone who is hurt or upset. You are always playing with your baby doll, or pretending that Kaelyn is your real baby, and you need to take care of her. Sometimes, in the mornings now, you even help your little sister get dressed and ready for the day. I’m so appreciative of your willingness to contribute to our family.


You are a protector. You always watch out for Kaelyn, making sure she isn’t doing anything unsafe or breaking any house rules.

You are an innate learner. Over this past year, we’ve been doing “homeschool preschool”, and you relish nearly every moment of it. You beg me to “do school” almost every day (we try to do it at least three times per week), and you are excellent at copying letters and telling me their phonetic sounds. I think you are actually ready to start learning to read, and I’m excited to help teach you and see you discover the literary world._mg_4436

You love to give gifts and surprise people. Oftentimes, you’ll “write” notes to each of us, tape them closed, and hide them so we can find them later. Anytime we have a special treat for Daddy or made something especially neat in preschool, you excitedly tell him to close his eyes and run toward him with whatever the object is. Of course, you find immense joy in receiving surprises yourself.

You are a helper. You’ll help Daddy with just about anything he asks of you, and you especially enjoy helping me make everyone’s lunches or with baking._mg_4425

Music is one of your very favorite things. You love singing time in Primary at church, and you frequently pretend to be your music teacher. You love doing family home evening just so we can sing songs together.

You love to cut, glue, paint and create art._mg_4586

You love to play games. Candy Land, Trouble, Connect Four, and a modified version of Blokus are your favorites.

You are silly, sweet, and shy. Many people tell me that they didn’t even realize you can talk because you are very quiet (and well-behaved) when we’re out in public.

Kitty (or “Meowy”, as you call him most of the time), is still your very favorite. He had to have a few “stitches” and be restuffed a few months ago, and I think now that he’s more “fluffle-y” (as you say), you love him more than ever. You are also still obsessed with your purple cat blankie._mg_4413

Believe it or not, you still take a nap every afternoon. I’m sure that some of the time is spent playing quietly in your room, but usually, I can expect about 2.5 hours of near silence each day.

These past few months have been some of the most exciting for you as you’ve watched my belly grow and anticipated the arrival of your baby sister. These days, she is almost all you can talk about. Through my morning sickness and other ailments, you were always there, checking on me, tucking me in with blankets, snuggling me, and just making sure that I was okay. You tell me that you want to be a mommy yourself someday, and I know that you will fill that role perfectly.IMG_20160619_124616

Kaya, I love you more than I can say. There are probably a million more things I could write about you, but I’ve tried to capture the biggest parts of your personality so that we will always remember what you were like at this age. Time is going by so quickly, and honestly, I wish I could slow down these days so we could have more of them, just as we both are right now.

Love, Mommy

baby #3: 35 weeks

35weeksBaby’s size: About 5.25 pounds and somewhere around 19 inches long.

Maternity clothes?: Yes yes yes! Also, I really love the dress I’m wearing in this week’s picture!

Gender: Girl!

Symptoms: I’ve started noticing a bit of mild sciatica this week. I seem to always get it around this time with all my pregnancies. Sometimes, my legs just feel a little tingly, other times, I have sharp pain shooting down my leg (usually my left). It’s been interesting going up and down the stairs with this going on (we didn’t have stairs in our old apartment, so this is a new challenge)!

Sleep: I’m taking naps any time I can! I have hard time winding down for bed, but eventually I pass out and usually sleep pretty well. I had a dream about this little girl’s cute face this week- I can’t wait to see what she really looks like!

Movement: She is still pushing as hard as she can on me most of the time, but it does seem like her movements are getting a little less crazy due to her running our of room in there. I’ve had a few people joke that this baby girl is going to be a runner, since she’s so active.

Cravings: Pumpkin bread? I haven’t made any yet, but I’ve been thinking about it for at least a month.

What I miss: Just being comfortable and moving around more easily.

Anything making you queasy or sick?: This has been the best week in a while! I still wake up a little nauseous, but it’s been better.

Belly Button in or out?: Flat and sometimes poking out. Kaya asked me what happened to my belly button this week when I told her it has disappeared!

Exercising?: Ran 17.8 miles (I missed a run due to feeling sick)… Fitbit total: 62,727 steps. Running is starting to feel difficult, and I suddenly have this desire to stay close to home and not go too far down the trail. I also can’t seem to run more than 3 miles before I need to stop for a bathroom break!

Mood: Whew. I’ve experienced a whole range of emotions this week. I’m moved to tears so easily and I think hormones are mostly to blame!

Best moments this week: Taking family pictures, celebrating Kaya’s birthday, and seeing family.

Looking forward to: I’m getting close to finishing her blanket! I will be so relieved

Big sisters: They both run to me to kiss the baby goodnight. Kaya has been excited that the baby is coming so soon, since we’ve been telling her this entire time that she’s supposed to come out sometime after her birthday party.

Comparison: 35 weeks with Kaya; 35 weeks with Kaelyn.

Anything else?: I washed the car seat and the newborn clothes this week! Folding those teeny tiny onesies makes me feel so excited and nervous, all at the same time. Babies start out so very tiny! It’s just easy to forget that my kids were ever so small.

five on friday (09/16)

ONE. My Dad came up for a couple of days this week to help us work on our basement. He and Michael ripped out old baseboards, cut and installed new ones, and patched drywall. It was almost two full days-worth of hard work, and it’s still not completely done, but I am so grateful for the help and the fact that this project got started!

Kaya is in love with each of her grandparents (especially when they share candy with her- this time it was Whoppers)!_mg_5006 TWO. I picked up a used game of Candy Land for $2.50 a couple of weeks ago, so we’ve been having a good time playing together (and teaching Kaelyn her colors)! This was my favorite game as a child, so it’s extra fun to see my kids enjoying it._mg_5084 Somehow it seems like I always end up back at the Peppermint Forest whenever I’m close to winning. Kaya always reassures me, “It’s okay, Mommy, we can play again”. Aww._mg_5085

THREE. The young men at church made dinner for our young women on Tuesday night, and they were literally running to give each girl a rose as she came in. So sweet! We leaders each received a rose too, and I’ve been enjoying its fresh scent and beautiful color all week.

FOUR. The weather is changing, and we’ve had a fair mix of hot days and somewhat chilly mornings and evenings. We took a walk without the stroller (Michael had the car and it was accidentally left in the trunk, whoops!), and Kaelyn actually walked a whole mile on those little legs. My girls are getting so big!

FIVE. Speaking of growing up… someone has started wanting to sit on the potty this week! (And yes, this is a completely unrelated picture of her blowing bubbles, because one thing I won’t do is post pictures of my kids sitting on the toilet…) We haven’t had any luck yet, and honestly I’m not sure I’m up for potty training her a few weeks before baby comes, but this is a positive step in the right direction! Both of my girls have shown interest in potty training right around the same age, all on their own._mg_4998

Happy weekend!!!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

a PinkBlush Maternity review!

I was so excited when PinkBlush contacted me to ask if I’d like to review an item from their maternity clothes line. I had already been looking for a dress to use for our family photos (without much luck), so their offer came at the perfect time!_mg_5058

Honestly, I had a hard time choosing something, just because they have so many seriously gorgeous maternity dresses. After much debate, flipping through dress pictures, and asking Michael for his opinion about a hundred times, I chose this dress! This is my first-ever maxi dress, so I was a little worried about the fit, but the company’s measurement chart is true-to-size. This dress couldn’t be any more perfect!_mg_5016

It’s made of a soft, high-quality fabric that will stand up to a lot of wear- and let’s be honest here, I’m going to wear it as many times as I can before this baby comes (although I think it will work well as a nursing-friendly dress, too)!_mg_5052

The dress is lightweight and I never once felt hot wearing it, despite being outside when it was around 80 degrees._mg_5060

I love the vibrant colors and how easy it was to coordinate my girls’ outfits with mine!_mg_5079

This dress is fancy enough for family pictures, yet still comfortable enough to wear to church. I love feeling good in what I’m wearing, especially with this (sometimes awkward) big pregnant belly!

Thanks PinkBlush!

baby #3: 34 weeks

34weeksBaby’s size: Somewhere around 19 inches long and about 4.75 pounds! I keep getting comments about how big I look. This baby doesn’t feel tiny to me (I was still relatively comfortable with tiny Kaelyn at this point), but I actually still weigh less than I did at this time with my other two pregnancies. It will be interesting to see how big this little girl really is!

Maternity clothes?: Yes, and I’ve abandoned wearing a lot of my “smaller” maternity tops for the ones that are larger-sized. It’s nice to know your belly isn’t hanging out of the bottom of your shirt!

Gender: Girl!

Symptoms: I still had that sinus thing going on this week.

Sleep: Good, but I always want a nap!

Movement: She’s still sticking her feet high up in my ribs, and she loves to kick the bed if I lay down on my side.

Cravings: Nothing in particular this week.

What I miss: Feeling truly athletic. I’m getting the miles in, but I miss looking and feeling fit!

Anything making you queasy or sick?: This was a really hard week with nausea. When I wasn’t queasy, I just had no appetite for most of the week. Michael even came home early from work one day to help me take care of the kids, and another day, he went to the store and got a few things that he knows I can stomach eating. He’s the best.

Belly Button in or out?: My belly button has pretty much disappeared…

Exercising?: Ran 22.8 miles. It’s slow going and I feel a lot of pelvic pressure, but I’m proud of myself for getting out there and trying hard. Fitbit total: 75,869 steps.

Mood: I feel like I start to feel overwhelmed when I’m sick for a few days in a row. There’s too much to do to just rest!

Best moment this week: Getting paint for the nursery and having some extra time with Michael!

Looking forward to: Kaya’s birthday party next weekend! Also, if this baby is as early as Kaelyn was, we only have exactly one month to go. I can’t wait to finally kiss those little cheeks!

Big sisters: They were both rubbing my belly and kissing it during church this morning. I love seeing them love on their baby sister before they’ve even met her!

Comparison: 34 weeks with Kaya; 34 weeks with Kaelyn. I think my belly is looking a lot like it did with Kaelyn!