A New Kind of January

January was a very odd month. It seemed really long…maybe because we experienced both winter and spring in one month. January started out pretty cold for Arkansas. The lowest it got down to was around 15 degrees…which is pretty rare for the south (meanwhile in Indiana, it was below zero…so 15 degrees didn’t seem so bad). Just a couple weeks later, it was sunny and in the 50’s and 60’s! Ryan and I keep wondering, so…was that it? Is winter over? I guess we’ll see what February is like!

Here is a recap of our month…

“Snow” Day

We heard from several people that if it snows even a little bit in Arkansas, the entire city practically shuts down. All the schools and most businesses are closed. Mainly because they don’t have the necessary equipment available here because it doesn’t happen often. Ryan and I were really hoping it would happen, just so we could see the madness. Guys…this is no joke. It snowed MAYBE half of an inch…not even enough to cover the grass (see picture below). All of the schools did indeed close, Ryan was supposed to have a meeting and it got cancelled, my Bible study was cancelled, and so on. We had a “snow” day…although I’m not sure if you can really call it that when you could still see the grass! Even so, I was very grateful that Ryan didn’t have to work that day, so we all spent the day in our pajamas building with Legos, drinking hot chocolate and watching movies. We would have played outside with the kids, but again…there was barely anything on the ground!! By the time Brax woke up from his nap, most of the snow was already gone. And the saddest part is that the schools were closed the next day too! We definitely are not in Kansas (Indiana) anymore!

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THIS is how much snow we got…craziness!

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Getting our energy out

Even though most of our month wasn’t too bad…it was still overall too chilly to spend much time outside, so we had to entertain ourselves inside most of the time. We spent a lot of time at home because the kids are great about entertaining themselves with all their toys. Kinsie built a fort almost daily and threw all of her toys, pillows and stuffed animals in it with her, we read lots of books, made pretend cupcakes, and spent lots of great time with daddy (this last rotation has been GREAT…like a normal job with weekends off!) Every once in a while we would venture out to Chik-fil-A or indoor playgrounds in the area. Kinsie is so excited that Brax is big enough to climb up into the bigger areas of the playgrounds with her now!

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Lots of fun at home

 

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My Chik-fil-A dates

 

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Is it spring already?

Probably no more than a week after our so called “snow” day, we started experiencing spring-like weather. Sunshine and temps in the 50’s and 60’s. We have been jumping at the opportunities to take walks and play in the yard. One of Ryan’s days off we took a full family walk…dogs and all…around our favorite park and to the kids’ favorite playground. Again, Kinsie LOVED having Brax climb all the way up to the top and slide down the big slide with her. When Kinsie is at school, Brax and I have been taking strolls through the park and pushing trucks around outside. It’s been perfect not-too-hot playing outside weather and we’ve been loving it!

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Visit from family

Ryan’s parents, his sister Megan and her husband Tim (and their pup Ali) came to visit us during MLK Jr. weekend. I know I’ve said this before that we LOVE when we get visitors. It was actually pretty cold that weekend, but we still found ways to explore the city. We visited the nature center, Bass Pro Shops, and had a bonfire with s’mores. The kids seriously love it when family comes to visit, and they were both pretty sad when they had to leave. We aren’t able to come home to Indiana for a few more months, so we are hoping for more family visits soon…especially since the weather here is on the upswing.

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We had a great January…not sure if I’ve ever said that before! We were totally spoiled having Ryan around so much. To end my post, I want to share my new obsession…an app called 1 Second Everyday where you add one or two “snippets” (one second videos) and the app mashes them all together to give you a video collage of your month. Enjoy!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We had a very busy and exciting December! Our month was filled with Christmas fun, family, cold weather, watching movies, and new toys. We were lucky to get to spend about 10 days in our hometown in Indiana with our family, and we came home packed like sardines with all of the kids’ new toys! Here were the highlights of our December.

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Kinsie’s Christmas Program

Kinsie was so excited about her music program at school. Whenever I would ask her what songs they were going to sing, she would say, “It’s a surprise! You’ll have to wait and see!” The funny thing is, they sang Rudolph, Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells…nothing super unique, but she was so proud! She was a rockstar and was one of the few kids in the group who followed directions the whole time and did all the motions. Ryan was on night shifts during this time, so he came home from work around 8am, went to sleep for a few hours, woke up to come to the program at 11, then went back to sleep when it was over. Kinsie was so happy that we were all able to come see her program. Brax was the proudest little brother ever and showed her with lots of hugs afterwards!

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Meeting Santa

Kinsie always loves meeting Santa, and Brax was a champ meeting him last year…mainly because he was too young to really understand that a strange man with a white beard was holding him instead of his mom, but this year he was very aware! I knew he probably wouldn’t be feeling it…even though the whole way there he acted excited and continued to shout “Ho Ho Ho!” whenever we talked about Santa. Once we were near him, nope! He wouldn’t leave my side. Kinsie did great and told Santa what she wanted for Christmas. Since Brax wouldn’t sit with Santa, we had to get the whole family in the picture because I was not going to be that mom that pays $25 for a picture of my child screaming with Santa!

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We couldn’t go see Santa without Kinsie’s princess crown!

EM Christmas Party

One of the things that attracted Ryan to the UAMS Emergency Department was how family oriented they are. They include families in all of their get-togethers, and obviously family is Ryan’s priority. Every year at the Emergency Department Christmas party, the department head’s wife buys all of the residents’ kids Christmas presents…and not the cheap junky toys, but really good toys. Santa even came to the party to deliver the presents. Again, Kinsie loved meeting Santa, even though she said that he looked different than the Santa she met at the mall, so he must just be one of Santa’s helpers. And again, Brax wanted nothing to do with Santa! (as seen in the picture below). Kinsie got an Elsa doll (her fave) and a really nice play kitchen appliance set. Brax got a set of cars and balls, and a construction truck that came with a hard hat and mega blocks. The kids were PUMPED about their gifts…and Brax wanted it all opened right away and was not happy that he couldn’t open it himself (again, as seen in the picture below). We had a great night with friends, food, Santa and gifts!

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Home for the Holidays and Cousin Fun

We were so lucky that we were all able to go home to Indiana to spend Christmas with our families. Even though it was VERY cold, we were so grateful to be surrounded by the people we love most.

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Like most visits home, the kids’ favorite part was definitely all the special cousin time! They played at an indoor playground together, had a few sleepovers, decorated cookies, and spent countless hours drawing, doing puzzles, playing with princesses and dressing up together. The bond between these five kids is something so special, and even living 500+miles away from each other doesn’t change that!

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Multiple Christmases

The few days surrounding Christmas are always super busy, but we love it. We always have several places to be and families to see. The kids function best when they are staying busy and are surrounded by a lot of people, especially now that we live away from all of these people. We started with Ryan’s immediate family gift exchange, then went to Aunt Renata’s after church on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts with Ryan’s dad side, then spent Christmas morning with my family, then finally went to another one of Ryan’s aunt’s house to spend time with Ryan’s mom side. Lots of places to be, but we loved every minute of it. The kids got SO many gifts and saw lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins, so they were happy!

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Christmas Morning

Santa was informed ahead of time that we wouldn’t be in our home in Little Rock for Christmas, but would be at my parents’ house, so we brought along our stockings and Santa made all his deliveries there. Kinsie was in princess heaven, and even though Brax didn’t feel great, he loved all of his cars, Batman, Mickey and fish toys. My parents loved having little kids for Christmas morning again too. After a while, my sister’s family came over so we could all exchange gifts. At every family Christmas we went to, Kinsie especially loved sorting and passing out all the gifts to everyone (she’s in the beginning stages of reading, I can barely believe it!) The kids spent hours opening and playing with all their new toys together.

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New Year’s Eve

We had to head back to Little Rock before New Year’s for Ryan to get back to work, but luckily he is on day shifts so he was able to be with us for New Year’s fun in the evening. We had a little party with karaoke, dancing, balloons, noise makers, Apples to Apples, Guess Who, and sparkling cider. We even had a countdown before the kids’ bedtime. Last year, Kinsie stayed up until midnight at my sister’s house with her cousins, but I knew since she didn’t have anyone other than us to entertain her for an extra 4 hours, we just did an early countdown and then both kids went to bed. We had a great family night together.

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In my last post, I mentioned how Ryan’s grandma was sick and in hospice care. At the time, she was given 2 weeks to live. We visited with her several time while home for Thanksgiving, but we were blessed to get to visit with her again while home for Christmas. We spent the morning with her the day after Christmas, and she loved talking with us and watching the kids play. A few days later, she took a turn for the worse, and just the other day, seven weeks after she was given only two weeks to live, she finally went home to heaven. While this is so hard for her 8 children, 20 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and the many other people who had the pleasure of knowing and loving her, she was ready for a long time to be with the Lord. She was such an amazing woman, and I still give her credit for helping Ryan and I find our way back to each other 8 years ago. I feel honored to call her family.

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We had a wonderful December, and we are so blessed that Ryan was able to get off work for a week to join us for Christmas. I know how much it meant to him to be home with us for Christmas, and especially to get to see his grandma one more time. Christmas is extra magical when you have children, so we all look forward to it every year. I love teaching the kids about Jesus and how he is the reason we give and receive gifts for Christmas. Every year, Kinsie understands this concept a little more, and this year in school she learned even more about the Christmas story. She loved reading stories about Baby Jesus’s birth in the manger, and playing the story out with her Fisher Price manger set. Brax is obviously just learning to talk and understand things, so we taught him to recognize Baby Jesus. It sounded more like “Baby Cheese,” but we knew what he meant!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my friends and family!

A November to Remember

Where did November go? I feel like it flew by! We have been having beautiful weather here in Arkansas, so it doesn’t even feel like it’s getting close to winter yet (sorry to rub it in your faces Indiana friends!) This month we enjoyed a visit from some family, lots of Thanksgiving festivities, and preparing for Christmas! Enjoy our November recap!

Grandparent’s Day

As SOON as I knew when Kinsie’s school had Grandparents Day, I let both sets of our parents know and hoped that at least one of them could plan a trip to make it. I really didn’t want Kinsie to be the only one in her class who didn’t have a grandparent there. It worked out for Ryan’s mom and aunt to make a trip to see us for a few days. Aunt Renata is practically a grandma to the kids, so she willingly stepped in. We always love having visitors at our home, and Kinsie loved having them visit her school.

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Decorating for Christmas

Decorating for Christmas always makes us so happy! The kids LOVE all the decorations, lights, and ornaments. Before you judge me too harshly for decorating before Thanksgiving, hear me out on our reasoning. 1) We would be headed to Indiana for Thanksgiving and wouldn’t have been able to decorate until December, 2) Our days with Ryan available are few and far between, and putting up the Christmas tree is a family tradition. We had to take advantage of one of his few days off, 3) We will be spending Christmas in Indiana, and I wanted us all to enjoy our decorations and tree for a worthy amount of time. It made us happy and we always make it a priority to remember the reason for the season, so why not, right?

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We did at least wait to put our outside lights up until after Thanksgiving. Kinsie loved going up in the attic with Daddy. Brax wanted to as well, but that obviously wasn’t happening! We’ve had beautiful weather lately, so the kids enjoyed playing outside and eating popsicles while we put the decorations up.

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My Birthday

We drove to Indiana the evening before my birthday, and I was so glad I got to spend my birthday with all the people I love. We left later in the afternoon, so we were still driving when midnight struck. Of course my sweet mom set her alarm for midnight so she could wish me a happy birthday! I got to spend that evening with my whole family eating chilli and ice cream cake. Birthdays can’t get much better than that! And of course, I had to get a picture with my birthday buddy, my niece Kerigan (her birthday is the day after mine).

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My sister’s birthday present to me was a “sister date” at Board and Brush. We got in touch with our artistic sides and had a great time!birthdaypresent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerigan’s Birthday

Like I said, my niece Kerigan’s birthday is the day after mine, so we’ve always been birthday buddies. Everyone else takes advantage of double birthday cakes! On the night of her birthday, we all went to Kid’s Planet. The kids all loved it!

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A couple days later was Kerigan’s party. She had a princess party, which is right up Kinsie’s alley right now too. Rapunzel (Kinsie and Kerigan’s favorite Disney princess) made a surprise visit and read them a story, danced with them, and spent most of the afternoon talking to all the kids. They loved it! Even though Brax isn’t into princesses, he had fun running amok too!

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Thanksgiving

Before we left Arkansas, Kinsie had a Thanksgiving feast at school. Luckily, we were all able to attend. The kids came out, sang a song, said a prayer, and then joined their families for lunch. Kinsie was a rockstar during the song and followed directions so well. My FAVORITE part, however, was as soon as Kinsie’s class came out, Brax ran up to her and pointed to her and said “Kinsie!!” He was SO excited to see her, even though he had seen her earlier that morning at home. Then once she was done with her presentation and she came to eat with us, they hugged like they hadn’t seen either other in days. They have such a special relationship!

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We spent actual Thanksgiving day with family in Indiana. We started our morning visiting Ryan’s grandma, then we went to Megan’s house for Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan’s dad’s side of the family, then we went to Ryan’s aunt Rita’s house to celebrate with Ryan’s mom’s side, then finally ended up back at my parents to celebrate with my family. It was a LONG day, but we felt so blessed to have so many places to be and so many people to celebrate with.

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Cousin Time

Anytime we visit, the kids’ main request is lots and lots of cousin time! They are all so close and all have a blast together. It doesn’t matter whether they are wrestling on the floor, jumping rope in the garage, coloring, or pushing each other in a laundry basket…they always have fun as long as they’re together!

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Visiting Grandma Graves

Ryan’s grandma has recently been placed on hospice care. While this is extremely difficult for the family, she is very at peace about it and ready to join Jesus in her heavenly home. We were SO lucky to get to visit her several times while we were in town. I say we are so lucky, because Ryan originally didn’t think he’d be able to even make this trip home. However, the week of Thanksgiving happened to be in between two of his rotations, and he was able to schedule all his shifts earlier in the month so that he was able to have a week off. He managed to do this before Grandma Graves declined. It was such a blessing that he had the time off so he could visit with his grandma before she goes home. We loved our visits with her. She loved talking with us, sharing her funny stories, and watching the kids play. She is a gem of a woman…as faithful as they come. She has had several articles published, but my favorite one included this nugget of wisdom, “I’ve never had any money but still I’m richer than the richest because I’ve been blessed with many children and grandchildren.” She is such an amazing woman and she will always inspire me.

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That just about sums up our month. We ended our month with sickness…lots and lots of it. Kinsie started with a bad cold, then Brax got a stomach bug, then I got the stomach bug, then I got the cold, then Brax got the cold, then Kinsie got the stomach bug. Fun times. Not to mention, my mom and my nieces and nephew all got sick too. It has been a very long and exhausting week, and we are so ready to all be completely healthy and back to normal. December will hopefully be filled with lots of Christmas activities and family time. The kids are already anxious for Santa sightings, Christmas lights, and more cousin time!

Our Brax Man at 18 Months

And just like that…my little boy is 18 months old. He entered our lives a year and a half ago and changed them forever in the best way. He completely lights up all of our lives and he, and his sister of course, are the best little gifts God ever gave us.

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Our little guy has grown up SO much since he turned a year old. He is walking, talking, dancing, even sassing. I love watching him change every day and watching him learn more about the world around him. Kinsie is still totally in love with her little brother and loves teaching him everything she knows. He has such a fun and spunky little personality that is so contagious.

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Here are some stats about our Brax Man at 18 months old…

  • He is 26 lbs, 13 oz. (63rd percentile) and 32 inches tall (34th percentile).
  • He is obsessed with reading. Maybe even more than Kinsie if that’s possible. He will bring us book after book after book, then plop his little booty down right in our lap to listen to the book. He especially loves Sesame Street books.
  • He is getting very verbal and is learning new words every day. Some of his first words included ball, book, Batman, and dog. He shortens most words to just one syllable…like “Mickey” becomes “Mick,” and apple becomes “app.” Some of my favorites of his words are banana (nana), and shoes (shh).
  • He still loves playing with balls. He will spot a ball in any room, on any page of a book, or on any show.
  • When we name a body part, he can point to it on his body. His belly is his favorite!
  • He can name several animal sounds. His favorite animal sounds are elephants, cows, monkeys and pigs.
  • He absolutely loves Mickey Mouse. On TV, in person, in books, in stuffed animals…he loves any form of Mickey!
  • He is great at making messes, but loves to help clean up his messes.
  • He watches EVERYTHING Kinsie does and wants to do it too.
  • His favorite animals are elephants and monkeys. He also LOVES dogs.
  • His favorite foods are bananas, applesauce, and pretty much anything with ketchup.
  • He loves to snack throughout the day.
  • He is a major mama’s boy, but still adores his daddy.
  • He is very determined about what he wants and doesn’t want, and will make sure we know it.

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This kid is so awesome. I can’t wait to keep watching him grow and learn! I can’t believe he’ll be two in 6 months!

Our October in Arkansas

I was excited to spend October in our new home. We have a lot of fun traditions that we do in October, so I was glad that Ryan was on an easy rotation and could enjoy them with us. We did lots of fun fall and Halloween activities, as well as traveled to Florida for vacation. It was a great month that went by fast! Here is our recap…

Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

This is one of our favorite traditions. We love the pumpkin patch, the hay rides, the apple snacks, you name it. When we first moved here, we went to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Little Rock, and one of the booths set up was for a winery. I tried their wine and fell in love (For all you Indiana folks, it’s similar to Oliver Wine). When I bought some wine from them, they told me they also have a great farm and a great pumpkin patch in the fall. I was anxious to visit, not only for the pumpkin patch, but to buy more of their wine! This pumpkin patch did NOT disappoint! I was so impressed with all the activities they had set up. The kids loved playing in the corn pit and making “corn angels,” climbing on the hay bales, sliding down the tubes, visiting the farm animals, picking out their own pumpkins and going on the hay ride. They had all kinds of scarecrows dressed up as different characters and decorations to see on the hay ride so it kept us entertained! We loved our day at the pumpkin patch!

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Trip to Florida

You’ve probably already seen the post about our trip to Florida, but this was definitely one of the best things about our month. We loved spending our days on the beach, lots of cousin time, Mickey Mouse, and having Ryan for a whole week!

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Boo at the Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo Boo was always one of our favorite traditions around Halloween, and we were so excited to find out that the Little Rock Zoo also did “Boo at the Zoo!” For this event, you had to purchase tickets, even if you are zoo members, but there was a lot more to do at this event than at the Indy zoo. There were carnival games and rides, trick-or-treating, a Haunted House, a “spooky” train ride, food trucks, bounce houses, and tons of Halloween decorations. The ONLY thing I was a little disappointed in was the fact that the event really didn’t have anything to do with the animals. In fact, most of the animals weren’t even out for display. The event focused on the activities, but it was still a lot of fun. We went with another resident’s family whom we’ve gotten pretty close with. The kids all had a great time together and it was a great night.

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Fun at School

Kinsie is still loving school! They do so many fun activities and themed days. She adores her teacher and finally seems to know all the kids’ names in her class (there are only 8 kids). Some of her favorite things she’s done at school include making apple pie, a martial arts class, and trick-or-treating. And again, I love how much they share on their Facebook page so I can see how much fun she’s having every day!


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Pumpkin Carving and Painting

We don’t take pumpkin carving lightly. We go all out every year, and we don’t just do it for the kids…Ryan and I look forward to it every year! This year, Kinsie also really wanted to paint some pumpkins, so I let the kids paint a couple of them. Last time I had Brax paint, he hated it…this time, he loved it!

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Ryan’s residency group also had a pumpkin carving night, where all the residents and their families could come and carve pumpkins together. The kids loved helping with the pumpkins, running around with the other kids, and all the snacks they could dream of!

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Then, we finally got to carve the rest of our pumpkins. Kinsie really wanted to help with as much as she could, so she helped scoop out seeds, poke the holes for the outline of the design, and even did some minor carving. Brax stuck the spoon into the pumpkin maybe once and then he was done. He spent the rest of the time reading books, climbing into the toy box and running amok while we finished carving. The kids LOVED the end results!

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From left to right, “silly guy,” Batman, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Mickey Mouse, and Stitch

Other Halloween activities

Some other activities that we did this month included spending a lot of time in Halloween PJ’s, watching Hocus Pocus while wearing a witch costume, trick-or-treating at Kinsie’s last soccer game, and making Halloween cookies!

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Trick-or-treating

The kids are still young enough that they like wearing coordinating costumes, and we are taking full advantage of it until that day ends! We love doing family costumes, and we always base it off of things that Kinsie is really into at the time. Last spring, she said she wanted us to all be trolls from the movie “Trolls.” Then a couple months after that, she wanted us to all be characters from “Moana.” Then she kind of lost interest in those movies, so we gave her some options from movies she likes. We always call Brax “Stitch” because he destroys everything, so Kinsie thought it was be fitting for her to be Lilo and Brax to be Stitch for Halloween. I found some cute and versatile costumes that I could warm up or cool down depending on how our weather was, and Ryan and I decided to join in on the costume fun again. I decided to be Nani, Lilo’s sister, and Ryan was Agent Pleakley, the green alien from Stitch’s home planet. Ryan’s sister, Megan and her dog Ali came to visit us and went trick-or-treating with us as well. It was pretty chilly, but not so much that it affected our trick-or-treating fun. The kids LOVED it. We walked around our entire neighborhood, and they were exhausted but very excited about how much candy they received!

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We had a great month! Now with November and December coming up, we know we are going to continue to be busy…which is a good thing for us! We will be headed back to Indiana to be with family for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas. We are still settling in to our new home, but we become more and more comfortable and feeling “at home” here every day. We are in love with the state of Arkansas, and absolutely love living here…but we are still missing our families. We love having them visit, and traveling home to visit them as well. However, with the cold weather season approaching, we are looking forward to spending winter in the south!

Sun Rays and Disney Days

We were so grateful to get to go on a vacation to Florida this month! Ryan gets 3 weeks of vacation throughout his first year, so we coordinated it with my family’s vacation to one of our favorite places, Siesta Key, Florida. With the way our week worked out, we also got to visit Disney World for 3 days…another one of our favorites! Originally with Ryan’s schedule, he would get to go to Siesta with us, but not Disney. After he pulled some strings at work, he found a way to go with us for the entire trip, and we were all SO grateful. We all needed that quality Daddy time! Here are the highlights from our trip.

PART I: Siesta Key

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The Beach

We came here last December, and Kinsie was a little beach baby. She was obsessed! Brax wasn’t even mobile yet, so he spent most of his time in the tent. This time, we had two beach babies! Brax wasn’t a huge fan of the ocean (the waves scared him), but he loved playing in the sand. All the kids loved chasing birds, getting buried in the sand as different animals and characters, and building sand castles and animals. The older kids loved the ocean until we realized how many jellyfish were in the area. Both Kinsie and her cousin Briggs got stung by jellyfish…but luckily nothing too severe. After that, they were all a little skeptical about getting in the water…and they called themselves the “jellyfish cousins.”

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The Pool

All five of the cousins are little water bugs. We spent a few days by the pool, and ALL the kids were having fun. Brax wanted to jump in over and over again…he honestly didn’t even care if he went under water. I’m also pretty sure that being in the pool with her cousins is one of Kinsie’s happiest happy places!

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The Boat Ride

We rented a boat while in Siesta Key, and it was such a fun and crazy day! We ate cinnamon rolls, got splashed by large waves, saw dolphins and manatees, got stuck on a sandbar, got lost, and had lunch at a restaurant on the water. We all loved every part of the crazy adventure…especially the dolphins!

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Lots of Much-Needed Family Time

I know, this is vague, and cheesy…but it’s true. Now that we live apart, time with family is so special. Especially with the kids…they all love each other so much and they are just giddy when they are all together. All of the kids have a special relationship and it is so fun watching them grow up together. And like I mentioned earlier, it was so nice having a full week of Ryan. The kids were all about Daddy all week!

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PART II: Disney World

Magic Kingdom

We spent the last 3 days of our trip at Disney World…and it was as magical as ever! It was SUPER crowded…more than I remember it ever being, but we still made the best of it and had a great time. The characters have always been Kinsie’s favorite part, and she still loved them, but oh my sweet Brax…he adored the characters! It melted my heart to see him stare in the face of Mickey Mouse in complete awe and give each character hug after hug. His reaction to seeing Mickey in the parade was priceless! Some of our other favorites of the day were Small World, the parade, the fireworks, and the Haunted Mansion ride. Kinsie talked about this ride ALL day, but the line was always too long. Finally after the fireworks, the line was down so we went. Kinsie fell asleep on Ryan’s shoulders on the way there, so we just let her sleep while we waited in line. We woke her up before we got on the ride and she LOVED it. She is still talking about it every day. It was a long but wonderful day!

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Animal Kingdom

This is another one of our favorite parks in Disney, and we really wanted to see all the new Avatar stuff (it was AMAZING by the way). It was ridiculously hot this day…like sticky, heavy, hard to breathe hot. But we powered through it and still enjoyed our day. We loved the safari, the characters, the Avatar ride, and the evening lights show on the water. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was worth it.

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Chef Mickey’s

My parents surprised the kids with tickets to Chef Mickey’s. I was probably just as excited as the kids to experience this! We went to a restaurant where Mickey and the gang danced around and came around to visit with everyone. The kids loved it and the food was on point!

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Disney Springs

We spent our last evening just walking around Disney Springs. The only other time I remember coming here, we were only there for a few minutes so we didn’t really get to enjoy it. It was so nice to just take our time and enjoy everything there was to see. We especially loved the Lego store and the T-Rex Cafe. We didn’t even eat there, we just walked around and played in the dino digging area!

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We had such a great trip and loved spending time with family, but we were also ready to be home. After lots of crowds, traffic and congestion, we were ready to be back in our quiet town. Our flights to and from Florida were both very eventful…we BARELY made it onto our flight on the way there…but after cutting everyone in the security line and sprinting to our gate, we made it. On the way back, we were on different flights from Orlando to Atlanta, but on the same flight from Atlanta to Little Rock. Ryan took Brax and I had Kinsie. Ryan’s flight was running a little later than scheduled, so as he got to the gate of the second flight, they were shutting the door and wouldn’t let him in. As he argued with the lady at the gate, I was talking to the captain and trying to see if he could get him on the plane. He was trying really hard to help us because he knew we were a family and we just wanted to get home. If they weren’t going to let him on, Kinsie and I were going to get off and we could all find a new flight together…although I really didn’t want to do that since the kids were exhausted and Kinsie had school the next day. The captain called the official Delta people and it was a long ordeal, but they FINALLY let him on. As he and Brax got on the plane, everyone applauded! Later when we got off the plane in Little Rock, everyone who passed by us said they were happy for us! It was a crazy experience, and we were SO happy to be home!

Back Home Again in Indiana

Soon after we moved here, I planned a trip home to Indiana for 2 weeks in September. I knew that Ryan would be on a rotation where we’d barely see him, and I wanted Kinsie to have a special birthday and spend it with family. The plan was for me and the kids to fly to Indy, then later Ryan would drive up for a few days, then we would all drive back together. As it got closer, we realized that Ryan could barely make it work to come at all. He was only able to come to Indy for about 24 hours. We really missed him, but we had a wonderful trip!

The Flight

I was nervous about flying with both kids from the moment I booked the tickets. I planned out everything weeks ahead of time, trying to make the process as smooth as possible. I had movies and TV shows on the iPad, snacks, toys, books…you name it. Luckily, the Little Rock airport is small and never crowded, so checking in and security were a breeze. Once we were on the plane, the kids were happy watching Paw Patrol. (This could keep them occupied for hours at home if I allowed it). After about 20 minutes, Brax was done. He didn’t want to sit on my lap, (which he had to, he isn’t old enough to need a seat of his own), he didn’t want to watch a show, he didn’t want to read books, and even snacks weren’t keeping him happy. I wrestled him most of the flight. Then once the descent started, he was REALLY done. He was screaming and thrashing. Kinsie and I were both trying to make him happy, but he was DONE with this flight. I prayed that the next flight would be better…yes, two flights…unfortunately there’s no direct flights from Little Rock to Indianapolis. Switching planes was quick and easy. I think it was an act of God that on the next flight, there was an empty seat next to me. Brax was happier when he had more to squirm around. That flight went MUCH smoother!

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When we got to the Indianapolis airport, we had some special guests awaiting our arrival! My mom, my sister and her whole family was waiting for us, and we all embraced and cried. The kids were all SO happy to see each other, and we were so happy to have made it!

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Cousin Time 

The kids had some awesome times together during the 2 weeks. The night we came in, Ryan’s aunt had a get-together at her house to welcome us home. The kids had a blast with each other driving around in all the different vehicles. One day, Kinsie got to go have lunch with her cousin Briggs at his elementary school. We also got to go swimming, watch Briggs’ football game, and just hang out at my parents’ house playing. It didn’t matter what they were doing, if they were with their cousins, they were happy!

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Kinsie’s Birthday

Kinsie had a very special birthday. I let her decide what she wanted to do, but it was really hot outside so we were somewhat limited. When she woke up, I took her and Brax to get birthday donuts at Dunkin Donuts. Later, my mom watched Brax so I could take Kinsie to lunch. She chose to go to Cheddar’s because she loves their huge fish tank. After lunch, I took her to Half Priced Books, which she loved. It was SO nice having some time with just her. I love my boy Brax, but he had been super needy lately and Kinsie had to fend for herself for quite some time because Brax was constantly needing me, so it was nice to get to focus on her. Later in the evening, our family all came over to have a small party for her. She loved her Paw Patrol presents and her ice cream cake. We did FaceTime with Ryan so he could be a part of the fun. He even found a way to be in the birthday picture!

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Visit to Purdue

Ryan’s brother Nate started his freshman year at Purdue in August. We wanted to visit him at school during our visit, even if it was at Purdue! We got to see his dorm (which was covered in pictures of Kinsie and Brax), walked around campus a little and had lunch. It was a great day and it was so good to see our Nate! I am still so blown away by how much Kinsie looks and acts like him when he was that age. Maybe that’s why they have such a special bond!

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Dress-up Parties

Kinsie spent some time with Aunt Renata during our visit, and Renata had lots of costumes in her basement that Kinsie wanted to try on, and it started a trend for the rest of the trip. She became obsessed with dressing up! Her favorite costume was the Buzz Lightyear costume…she spent a lot of time in it and even had her cousins wearing it too!

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Haircuts

I took the kids to Ryan’s cousin Jess to get their haircuts. Kinsie did great and loved getting her hair washed, cut and braided. Brax was a different story! We had to find some creative ways to get him to sit still. He had suckers, sat on my lap, watched Mickey Mouse on my phone, and Jess had to chase him around the salon to get the job done! It was quite an adventure that left me sweating and exhausted, but the kids looked great with their new haircuts!

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Lake Time

We spent a few days at our favorite place, Heritage Lake. We did lots of cubby rides, sidewalk chalk, took several boat rides, went fishing, and played at the playground at the marina.

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Ryan finally was able to drive up to Indiana with the dogs on Saturday, we were SO excited to see him after not seeing him for 2 weeks!

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Paw Patrol Party

We ended our trip with a birthday party for Kinsie at the lake. Ryan was able to make it for the party, so at least he could be a part of one of the birthday celebrations. We had a family party with a Paw Patrol theme, and like usual, our families were a huge help in making the party successful!

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The kids all had a great time with the piñata! Kinsie of course also loved opening her presents and the other kids loved watching and playing with all her new toys.

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We took the kids on a boat ride, and to say it was chaotic would be an understatement! The kids weren’t bad or misbehaving at all…just excited and hyper. I don’t think there were any free adult hands at any point during the ride. The kids all took turns driving the boat, and running from one side to another, trying on as many life jackets as they could, and just being goofballs together.

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We loved having Daddy in the flesh for this birthday celebration! Notice the lovely birthday banner in the background…thanks to Aunt Megan! Also the weather couldn’t have been more perfect!

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We left that evening around 6:30pm, and got home around 3am. Ryan had to be somewhere for work at 8am the next day, so we took turns driving and resting. The kids did pretty well, sleeping most of the way. We spent the whole next day recovering from the drive, relaxing at home and playing with all of Kinsie’s new presents. It was a fantastic trip. We all really needed this time at home with our families, and we left with our love tanks full!