four years of freyja and claire

As of the end of summer, we’ve had our sweet guinea pig girls for four whole years! I feel like they were little babies just yesterday, jumping around their cage and looking for all the food they could get. Not much has really changed, except that they are a whole lot bigger now and doing a little less jumping, but they’re still always ready for a snack.If you’ve known me for a long time, you probably remember that before I had human babies, I had two guinea pig fur babies (Maggie and Juni). This blog was pretty much taken over by them (and any other animal I encountered in my Animal Science program at Virginia Tech), but Freyja and Claire really haven’t been in the limelight much compared to my first piggies. Nevertheless, they are just as sweet and very cherished. I still think guinea pig lips are some of the cutest things ever.

The best part of having guinea pigs now is that I get to share them with my children, who love them so much. Freyja and Claire live indoors, but on this day, we had a “pignic”, where we took them outside to munch on some grass. Everyone loved it. There was definitely some carrot bribery involved for these photos.It’s not obvious which pig is dominant, although I am fairly certain it’s Freyja. She’s not a bully in any way, but if it comes down to the last cucumber, she takes it. She is definitely more outgoing and comfortable with people.They’ve gotten better about having baths and their nails trimmed. They don’t love it by any means, but they don’t try to jump out of the sink quite as much anymore. They wheek for food every night when they hear the basement door open. Lately, they’ve started overturning their little hideout houses, and every time I go down there, I fix them, only to find them upside down again the next time. I’m not quite sure how they do it, but I think they must be having fun.We sure love our piggies!

five on friday (06/07)

Happy Friday!!! I’ve just managed to squeeze this post in before the day is through!

ONE. We had our church “carnival night” a couple of weeks ago, and the girls had the best time ever. I loved seeing their happy faces the whole evening. Who wouldn’t be excited about snow cones, popcorn, and a water relay race?Treats galore!Kaya and Kaelyn helped color the sign for the snow cone stand before it started. They are such great helpers!TWO. We’ve been attempting to work out in the yard a little more now that the weather’s been nice. I showed these girls how to pull weeds, and to my surprise, they thought it was so much fun. I’m hoping this is an activity they’ll love for a long time to come!Apparently, pulling weeds can turn you into a monster!At least this monster has a very cute smile.We also started some seeds in containers! I know we’re a little late for this season-wise, but we started the lima beans indoors as part of our plant unit for school. Since I knew I had some leftover seeds from when we attempted to grow a real garden two years ago, we figured we’d plant them and see what happens. From left to right: cucumber, two beans, and two tomatoes. They are growing just a little and I have hope for these tiny plants.Kaya loves her beans and takes care of them diligently every day.As does Kaelyn!THREE. Baby Eve had a big milestone this week…  her first-ever pony tail!!! It’s the tiniest thing ever, but it just made my heart so happy all day long.Those eyes!To take pictures, I have to distract her with random objects, like my lens cap. FOUR. Kaya and Kaelyn are still working hard at swim lessons, and this week, I finally got them some goggles that actually work properly. They have been wearing these around nonstop and playing “swim lesson” all day long!Nella borrows them sometimes and gets in on it, too!FIVE. Freyja and Claire were having some skin problems a couple months ago, but after a vet visit and a few rounds of meds, they are looking (and feeling) like their old amazing selves! We’ve been really enjoying seeing them so happy. Nella loves to prepare veggies for them. She also calls them the “Whee Whees!” since they make a “wheek wheek” sound when they’re hungry. Carrots for everyone!I can’t believe these piggies are almost 4 years old already!

Happy weekend!

five favorites (10/16)

I’ve somewhat accidentally turned my Five on Fridays into Monday Favorites lately, just because it always seems like the end of the week has been too hectic to squeeze in any computer time. Better late than never, although I would really like to be ready to do it on Friday next time! Here are some favorites from last week:

ONE. On Labor Day weekend, we went couch shopping, and ended up ordering a sectional sofa, which Michael had been dreaming about doing for a long time. It was delivered this week (a whole month early!), and we’ve been enjoying it. Now that we have a family of five (I still can’t believe that sometimes!), we really didn’t have enough seating, especially when people came over, so this has been perfect. We broke it in with a family movie night! And I love this picture of Michael and the girls. TWO. These girls and these guinea pigs! Be still my heart. I love that they love animals and want to spend time snuggling with and feeding carrots to Freyja and Claire. THREE. Who is this big kid working on math all by herself? Kaya is far enough into her math curriculum where I can give her a few questions to work on and then leave her to figure them out on her own. We just finished doing number bonds, and now we’ve started addition. Math is her very favorite subject, and I’m so proud of all her progress! FOUR. Kaelyn loves dressing and accessorizing herself, and her big eyes completely melt me. She’s also obsessed with her little wind-up chicken, and asked me to take a picture of her with it. She’s also been loving playing with kinetic sand. She uses my cookie scoop to make little balls of “dough” over and over, and then asks us which cookie we want. FIVE. When your pediatrician has a Hokie Bird painted in the exam room, you have to take a picture with it! 🙂 Kaelyn was so excited to see this big guy. Taking all three of them in for shots is no joke, though- we had almost a full hour of crying, but everyone is healthy and now we’ve had our first round of flu shots for the season. Pony band-aids for everyone (and oh Nella’s chubby thighs)!

Happy Monday!

five on friday (08/05)

ONE. We’ve been enjoying cooler, less humid evenings this week! The weather last weekend was just perfect for bringing the guinea pigs outside to enjoy some fresh air and nibble on grass. It was their first time out, and I think they really loved it!

Kaya and Kaelyn thought it was so much fun to have Freyja and Claire “playing” outside with them. Kaelyn repeatedly came up to them, pet them, and softly said “awwwwwww”!

TWO. We did the letter B for preschool this week, which entailed some super-fun sensory play! I filled up the water table with some rainbow bubbles (the idea is from here, although I used liquid food coloring, and the colors disappeared pretty quickly once the girls started playing with it). They had a blast mixing, whisking, scooping, and finding all the hidden rubber ducks for over an hour.

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THREE. I have a new favorite double chocolate chip muffin recipe! I’ve made these a few times now, and have figured out that they’re just as good with half the amount of sugar and some of the chocolate chips reserved for sprinkling on top. Mmmm!

FOUR. This girl and her dress-up outfits… I think my dinosaur-fox-princess-ballerina is ready for the runway!08022016_1

FIVE. There’s nothing like a girl and her… frog?! Apparently, his name is “Buggy Froggy” (because frogs eat bugs, obviously), and Kaya has been bringing him everywhere all week long. I love my little stuffed animal lovers.

Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday (04/15)

We’ve had what felt like a busy week over here. Yesterday, we had nothing specific scheduled, so I asked Kaya what she wanted to do. “I want to just stay home”, was her reply. I realized that we’d been running around hurriedly all week, so I heeded her request and soaked in that slow, easy morning with my babies. These little moments have all been favorites this week:

ONE. Kaelyn has been waking up from her naps happy. She used to always wake up crying and in a somewhat grumpy mood, so this is quite a change for her. I love this toothy little grin and how she just wanted to pop up and play peekaboo with me._MG_1595 _MG_1592

TWO. Kaya was drawing on her doodlepro board, and told me “Look! I made a seal!”  I might have actually gasped audibly when I saw that her rendition of a seal actually looked like one. She’s getting better at drawing and writing letters all the time, and I just continue to be amazed at her skills.

THREE. We had a play date at the mall with friends this week! I think Mia and Kaya held hands for 75% of our visit (while they were running around like crazy, nonetheless)! Obviously, we couldn’t leave without stopping for a cookie first.

Would you like some cookie with your frosting?

FOUR. We’ve still had some chilly mornings, but I think spring might just come to stay soon. Kaya and Kaelyn were running like crazy up and down this miniscule hill (and yes, if you look closely enough, you’ll see that their clothes are covered in sidewalk chalk)! Warm sunshine and later sunsets are two of my very favorite things.

FIVE. In somewhat sad news, Kaelyn lost her beloved, special, piggy out in Richmond last weekend. We were at my race (more details on that next week!), and she dropped him without us noticing. We searched for him, but with so many people around, it was hopeless.

Grandma Debbie sent a new piggy in the mail this week, which arrived yesterday. Kaelyn was seriously dancing as Michael pried the box open, and she could not stop smiling with that new guinea pig under her arm for the rest of the night.
_MG_1599 I know it’s not quite the same (especially since the orginal “Piggy” was a gift to me when my first guinea pig passed away), but there is nothing like seeing her truly happy face._MG_1603

Happy weekend everyone!

Linking up here!

five on friday (03/04)

ONE. We’ve had a bit of a rough week. I know it could always be worse, so I try not to complain, but the girls and I have had sickness (bad coughs, congestion, body aches and fatigue) that just wouldn’t go away. Kaya even fell asleep snuggled up to me while I was nursing Kaelyn, which would never normally happen. We’re on the mend, and I’m glad to see my girls’ bright and happy countenances again.

TWO. Despite barely leaving the couch for most of the week, we somehow made it out to go vote in the presidential primary on Tuesday! We basically walked in and right out, no lines or anything. The girls were so excited to each get their own “I voted!” sticker. (And yes, Kaelyn totally busted her eyebrow open on the edge of my laptop. Luckily it wasn’t deep and it’s almost healed already!)_MG_1085 THREE. Oh the shenanigans Daddy will perform for his princesses. Kaya’s cat blanket can act as a saddle…_MG_1077 … or a cape!_MG_1076 FOUR. There’s nothing she loves more lately than these elephant pajamas and pretending that she’s a baby again._MG_1128 FIVE. Camouflage at its finest. Where’s Claire?_MG_1119

Happy Friday! I’m looking forward to (hopefully) leaving the house and having some family time!

Linking up here!

the last of the holiday shenanigans

The weeks leading up to and following Christmas were packed with visitors and activities, so, I’m combining all these random moments into one post, and then I promise I won’t talk about Christmas for at least a couple of months. 😉

When we arrived home from visiting my parents on the Sunday night before Christmas, we spent a couple of hours with Jeff and Lelia, who had come into town while we were gone. We hung out for a couple hours, ate pizza, and exchanged gifts. Kaya and Kaelyn could not have been more excited about their new dress-up clothes! We’ve got a couple of fairy-winged cowgirls on our hands._MG_0462 _MG_0459 Jeff and Lelia surprised me with a race registration for a 10k in the spring! I’ve been running for 7 years now and have never entered a race. Insane!

Apparently I found the whole thing to be pretty hilarious…_MG_0451

On the night before Christmas Eve, our little family went out for Chinese food. I think my girls eat more in one sitting at this buffet-style restaurant than they typically do all week. Michael, can this be a new Christmas Eve Eve tradition? 🙂

The next morning, I made a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls to take to one of the seminary students. They had a class auction (where they could use their hard-earned “seminary bucks” to get rewards), and he bought both the tickets I put in. I’m flattered that someone likes these so much! We had a couple left over… so of course, they didn’t go to waste.

During naptime, we wrapped some presents, watched “A Christmas Story”, and snuggled some guinea pigs…

And of course, we made a few more gingerbread cookies._MG_0599 A few days after Christmas, we went down to our local Inn, where they always have a beautiful Christmas tree display._MG_0620 Kaya instantly fell in love with a glowing reindeer statue…_MG_0601

I dressed the girls up in their matching Christmas dresses (from Grandma Debbie) with hopes of getting a nice photo of them together in front of one of the trees. They were kind of being crazy, so this is the best we could do. I love my silly kids, and they both love their Kitties._MG_0634On New Year’s Eve, Ben, Brittany, and Caroline came to visit! They moved to Texas back in August, and this is the first time they were back in Virginia. I’m so glad we got to spend a whole day hanging out with them.
_MG_0647 Caroline was so sweet and so good at giving big hugs…_MG_0638 We got crazy playing Wii and just catching up. And yes, I have a blinking problem. Haha._MG_0651

I can’t believe that they will be a family of four next time we see them! I’m so grateful for good friends.And that wraps it up for 2015! 🙂

five on friday (1/08)

I think I just keep pretending we’re still on vacation… so I know I still haven’t posted any photos from our Christmas day yet (maybe because I took too many and still haven’t gone through them all… ha), but we had a good week, and I couldn’t let it go undocumented.

These small, seemingly-mundane posts usually turn out to be some of my favorites when I go back and read them later.

ONE. Winter has finally arrived on our little hillside- we had our first snow! It didn’t really accumulate, but it came down in big, fluffy flakes, so I’m counting it. The girls were quite excited… especially Kaelyn, since she is too young to remember the many blizzards we had last year!

TWO. What better food to eat during the cold weather than warm, gooey pancakes? Kaya and Kaelyn have had pancakes for breakfast every single day this week. My mom gave me a griddle for Christmas, so I put it to good use by making a double batch of these and freezing them._MG_0687

THREE. We also tried a couple of new recipes this week, including these buffalo chicken wings and these cheesy potatoes. Both were keepers!FOUR. We did get back on track with our homeschool preschool this week, after taking a couple weeks off for the holidays. Kaya has been SO excited and asks me to “do school” almost as soon as she wakes up every morning. We did the letter “D” and so of course, we had to make a “dog” craft.

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FIVE. We had some fun times with Karl (and Kaitlyn) this week! Mario Kart Wii and Apples to Apples Pictures will never get old. I also love that Karl loves my guinea pigs as much as I do!_MG_0684Happy weekend! Keep warm (like Freyja)! 🙂_MG_0708

five on friday (10/09)

Happy Friday! Our week felt busy and flew by. Here are my favorite little moments:

ONE. Every morning when I get her out of her crib, she always has the biggest grin, and sleepy, happy eyes.  I love lifting her up into a big hug and planting a bunch of smooches on those soft baby cheeks of hers._MG_9465_MG_9467

TWO. Michael’s parents were here at the beginning of the week, and took us out to Cracker Barrel one night! I had my fill of my favorite mac and cheese, and Kaya actually ate a TON of food. Win win. She also loved playing the little peg puzzle game.

THREE. If you go to Cracker Barrel, you are required to goof around in their store before and/or after the meal. Kaya had fun trying on a Halloween witch’s hat! (photocredit to my Dad-in-law, obviously, because I was too busy photobombing this with my legs…) 🙂

FOUR. Someone figured out how to ride the rocking horse on her own (although she still needs help getting on and off), and she’s in love. One more horse girl for the family! 😉_MG_9471 FIVE. Because guinea pigs and burlap and fall flowers all together are pretty much an explosion of cute._MG_9480

Happy weekend!

Linking up here today!

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!