Brax is TWO!

I am still in denial that my little boy is TWO! This creeped up on me quicker than I expected, and I’m not ready for it! Turning two is such a big year and they grow so much physically and developmentally during this year. He is looking and acting more and more like a little boy rather than a baby, but he is SO much fun! We love watching his little personality blossom more and more every day. He does many things so much like Kinsie (because he is her little shadow and does everything she does), but he also has his own little idiosyncrasies that make him unique. He is definitely a “second child” and knows how to stick up for himself when big sis is doing something he doesn’t like. He is all boy who loves to wrestle, be loud, crash into and destroy things. He makes us laugh every day, and we just adore squeezing him, hugging him, tickling him and snuggling with him.

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Here are some fun facts about our precious little two year old…

  • He gives the world’s best hugs…and we are not just biased. We’ve had several other people tell us this!
  • Kinsie is his best friend. His favorite thing to do with her is tackle her and wrestle.

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  • He is obsessed with our dogs and spends a significant amount of time chasing Addie around the house.
  • Some of his favorite activities include reading books, hiking, playing outside, playing ball, taking baths, and playing with trains and cars.

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  • He is pretty fearless. More so than what makes me comfortable!
  • He is a major mama’s boy but also adores his Daddy… he screams out of excitement when he gets home from work.

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  • His vocabulary has exploded. He can say a lot of words and phrases…we just can’t always understand him! Kinsie is the best at translating for him. We always call him Joey because if you’ve seen the episode of “Friends” where Phoebe is try to teach Joey how to speak French, he gets it all wrong but is completely confident that he’s saying it right. This is so Brax when he talks!
  • Favorite animals: gorillas, elephants, lions and alligators
  • Favorite movie: Coco
  • Favorite TV shows: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Bubble Guppies
  • Favorite food: mini corn dogs and scrambled eggs
  • Favorite books: “It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse” and “Big Smelly Bear”
  • Favorite song: The clean up song from Barney, and Poco Loco from the movie Coco
  • He has improved tremendously with his separation anxiety (thank goodness!) He now loves going to his church class and does great with babysitters.
  • He will start preschool (Mother’s Day Out) in September.
  • He is a complete ball of sunshine. He is SO happy, giggly, and adorable. We literally cannot get enough of him! Kinsie will even attack him with kisses and say “I can’t help it…he’s just so cute!” Agreed!

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Here is a video I made for Brax’s birthday so you can get a glimpse of the preciousness and chaos that I live with every day! Enjoy!

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Happy 2nd birthday my sweet, precious boy. You will have our hearts forever!

April Activities

Our spring is going by faster than I expected. I felt like time dragged on from when we moved here until the end of the year, but it has flown by since January. Probably because we are more established here now and are busy with activities. Between my job, church activities, Kinsie’s school, soccer, and playdates….we stay pretty busy which I love! Ryan is on his MICU rotation (Medical Intensive Care Unit) at the VA, and saying it has been rough would be an understatement. Most of his shifts are from 6am-7pm. He worked a week of 12 hour night shifts, and the rest of his shifts are from 6am-4pm. However…the time he is supposed to get off rarely actually happens. Most of the time he gets home right before the kids go to bed. I usually let them stay up a little later so they can spend time with him. So needless to say, I’ve been solo parenting for a large majority of this month. It has been pretty hard, but I’m honestly glad that we’re going through it near the end of our first year rather than at the beginning. I have gotten used to caring for the kids alone, so I can handle not having help better than I used to. Now when he works a lot, I honestly just miss his company more than anything. Even with this crazy month, we still managed to have some good family moments!

Here is our recap…

Easter Day

As I mentioned in my previous post, my family came to visit for Easter weekend, which we loved! We had a great time and the kids had a blast with their cousins. They had to leave on Easter Day after church and brunch, but we still had a great Easter and the kids loved church and their surprises from the Easter bunny.

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1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Ever since we moved here, the library has been one of our favorite spots. They have a program called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten…which is pretty self explanatory. I thought Kinsie could for SURE do that…she loves to read! The library was closed from November through March for renovations, so we couldn’t go there for a while to turn in her sheets and get her stickers. However, she reached 1,000 right in time when the library reopened. She loved getting her 1,000 sticker and her free book. Brax was a proud brother too!

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Playdate (for both kids AND the moms!)

This month, the second year residents had a weekend retreat, and I mainly hang out with the wives of the second years (none of the first years have kids). Since all of their husbands would be gone, they planned a dinner/playdate, and since Ryan was working late that night, the kids and I came too. We had a great time talking, eating tacos, and chasing our kids. We did manage to get a group picture of most of the kids. Between 4 of us, we have 11 kids, and one of the way (don’t get excited…its not me!) I am SO grateful for these families…they have been crucial to my sanity since moving here!

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Loving the outdoors

We’ve had a lot of rainy April days, but we’ve also had a lot of beautiful sunny days too. When Kinsie is at school, Brax and I often walk to the park and spend the morning there. I try to bring Kinsie too on her days off. Lately both kids love picking flowers on the walk home. We also love just hanging out in our own front or backyard. They could do sidewalk chalk and bubbles for hours! We’ve also tried to grill out and eat dinner outside whenever we can too. We’re trying to enjoy it as much as we can before the unbearable heat arrives.

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Disney on Ice

I’ve always loved Disney on Ice. But then again, I love anything Disney. My kids do too. That’s why when I saw that Disney on Ice was coming to Little Rock, I REALLY wanted to make it happen. When I found out that it fell on the same month as Ryan’s busiest rotation, I was bummed…but I still wanted to find a way to make it work. Since it fell on the same week as his night shifts, we basically had just one option…the Saturday at 3pm show. That way Ryan could still sleep during the day, then wake up in time for the show, then head to work afterwards. I knew Brax would miss his nap that day, but we really wanted Ryan to get to come with us, so we knew it’d be worth it. It was such a fun afternoon. The kids LOVED it. Brax was super squirmy and slap happy since he skipped his nap, but he was happy and still had a lot of fun. He mainly liked the parts with Mickey Mouse, and Kinsie says she loved it all! I am so glad Ryan was able to come with us and we had a fun family date.

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Family Fishing

We’ve been aching to go fishing, but haven’t found many opportunities with Ryan’s busy schedule. He gets very few days off, so on those days we try to find something fun to do. On one of his days off, we were determined to fish. Even though it lightly rained on us most of the time, we didn’t let that stop us. Kinsie recently got a new princess fishing pole, and Brax inherited Kinsie’s old Ninja Turtles pole, so the kids were excited too. Brax practiced with a pretend fish, and had fun with just that. Between the four of us, we only caught one fish, but that one fish brought quite a bit excitement!

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A Family Visit

Since I’ve known for a while that this would be a tough month and Ryan would barely be around, I’ve been recruiting family to come visit us. Megan and Tim were up to the task! I always tell them they are “winning” at visits here. They are best at knowing when I’m aching for family the most, so they work their schedules to make it happen. We had a wonderful weekend with him with perfect weather. Unfortunately Ryan wasn’t around much to spend time with them, but I was very grateful for the company, and so were the kids. We absolutely love it when they visit!

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It’s been a tough, but busy month. We’ve still managed to have quality family time despite the limited time we have all together. We just use the short moments we do have together wisely…even if that’s just the kids climbing on and wrestling with their daddy. We are definitely all ready for him to be on a normal rotation again. The next few months have a lot going on…my baby boy turns 2, we have a few trips planned, and of course there’s always fun things to do during the summer!

Last but not least, here is our 1 Second Everyday video for April. Enjoy!

March Madness

No, this post isn’t about the NCAA basketball tournament…just the chaos and crazy, or “madness” if you will, of our ever day lives…and I wouldn’t have it any other way! March went by way too fast because we stayed busy! Here were our favorite moments of March.

Spring has arrived!

The warm weather in Arkansas is pretty much here to stay! While it may be chilly in the mornings and evenings, most days it gets up to the high 60s or low 70s. The kids have been LOVING it. We’ve played in the yard a lot, had picnics, and explored some new parks.

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Colorado Vacation

I already posted about our Colorado vacation, but this was definitely a major highlight of our month. We had the best vacation with Ryan’s whole family in Colorado Springs in mid-March. We did so many fun activities and always had an amazing view of the mountains. We definitely want to make it back to Colorado again someday.

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Random Sweet Moments

My kids definitely like to explore and go places every so often, but overall they are homebodies like me, and love to just play at home. Ryan was on his OB rotation this month, so he worked long hours at night, so the kids and I had a lot of quality time just the 3 of us. I always try to document the random little moments where the kids do something sweet or unique…especially when the kids are getting along so well without me coordinating it. Kinsie will “read” books to Brax, or Brax will line up all his cards to make a long “choo-choo,” or the kids will snuggle extra close to me when they are scared of a thunderstorm. I try to savor these moments because I know they won’t last forever!

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Pinnacle Mountain

Ryan and I hiked Pinnacle Mountain when we came to visit Arkansas before he made his rank list last year. It was a great hike with a beautiful view, and we’ve been wanting to take the kids ever since. We finally got the opportunity, and we had a great time! Kinsie was an absolute CHAMP and hiked the whole thing by herself. Brax rode in the hiking backpack and was not happy about it at first…he wanted to do it himself too! He eventually gave up and just had fun riding in the backpack with his Daddy. The kids loved the view and they didn’t want to leave the top of the mountain!

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Family for Easter

We haven’t seen my sister’s family since Christmas, so we were all counting down the days until they were going to visit us for Easter weekend. My parents were coming too, so we were excited to see everyone. We had the best weekend with everyone! The kids had fun together no matter what they were doing. We played outside, went to the zoo, went to my church’s Easter egg hunt, and much more. These pictures show the joy and fun these 5 had together more than I can really explain…

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Trip to the zoo

 

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Kinsie’s fan club at her soccer game

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Wagon rides, playing at the rock park, dressing up as princesses…cousin time doesn’t get much better than that!

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Lots of fun at the church Easter egg hunt

We loved getting to spend time with both of our families this month. It always fills our buckets when we get to see family. We have adjusted to living here, and finally are starting to feel more established, but being away from family is still by far the hardest part, and I don’t know if I’ll ever completely get used to it. That’s why we savor our moments we do have with them. Still, we are really enjoying living here, and when I see pictures and videos of my kids, I truly feel that they are happy, and that’s what matters most.

Here is our “One Second Everyday” video for March…enjoy!

 

Take me to the Mountains

We had such a wonderful trip with Ryan’s family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It had been years since we went on a trip with them where ALL of us could go together. Everyone is in such different phases of life, so it is always hard to get everyone’s schedules lined up. Megan’s husband, Tim was going to be in Colorado for work in March, so we all decided that he would stay once he was done and we would all come meet him there. We had never been to Colorado, so we were excited to see it. The weather was perfect for hiking and it was so beautiful there. No matter where you go, you are surrounded by mountains. I hadn’t seen the mountains in years, and I forgot how beautiful they are. The view never got old. We packed a lot of activities into one week, and it was one amazing week! Here are some of the highlights from our trip…

Garden of the Gods

We visited Garden of the Gods twice during the week, and went on a few different trails. These were pretty quick and easy hikes with absolutely amazing views. Kinsie loved taking pictures and looking through her binoculars, and Brax loved hiking by himself and collecting rocks!

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Pike’s Peak

We drove most of the way up Pike’s Peak, which is one of the highest summits of the Rocky Mountains (elevation 14,000 ft). We stopped several times along the way to look at the view and take pictures. We especially loved one of the lakes (which was frozen and beautiful), and an area called the Devil’s Playground. It got colder and the air got thinner the higher up the mountain we went, so we had to bundle up and take deep breaths, but it was all worth it!

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On top of the world…or at least the Devil’s Playground

 

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

We spent a day at the only zoo built in the mountains, and it did not disappoint! We were very impressed with this zoo…especially how many interactive exhibits there were. My personal favorite was the giraffe exhibit, where you can feed the giraffes up close. The kids (and the adults) LOVED everything about this zoo. The birds, elephants, meerkats, apes, and petting zoo were some favorite stops too. After the zoo, we drove up the mountain to see the Will Rogers Shrine. The kids loved climbing up the tower and we all loved the amazing view!

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The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

This was one of my favorite things we did. We had to drive almost 2 hours, but it was incredible. We walked along the bridge which surprisingly, ran over the Arkansas River! We enjoyed the view while the kids ran around in circles and played red light green light. Once we were across the bridge, there was a playground and a carousel that the kids loved. We took a gondola to get back across the bridge, which, I’ll admit was a little terrifying, but amazing! Then we ate lunch on the patio while overlooking the gorge and watching the gondolas and the zip-liners. It was an awesome experience!

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Playing at the park across the bridge

 

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Riding the gondola

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Helen Hunt Falls

On one of our last days, we took a quick hike around a small waterfall, which the kids loved! Brax could have watched that waterfall all day! We hiked around the waterfall and ended up getting to see more more beautiful views. The kids did great, but eventually took a little break and hitched a ride!

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Spending time with Family

This vacation was so special to us, mainly because it’s so rare that all of us get to be together. Whether we were hiking and seeing a beautiful mountain scenery, or hanging out in the amazing house we rented, or driving in the 15 passenger van together, we just enjoyed each other’s company. I cannot even believe how blessed I am to have married into this amazing family, and I am so grateful for them!

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One Fine February

I can’t believe it is already March tomorrow. Usually January and February DRAG on, but this year it hasn’t seemed near as bad. Our winter months here in Arkansas haven’t exactly been sunshine and super warm temps, but they were definitely more mild than what I am used to in Indiana, which was very helpful to help us adjust. Overall, it hasn’t really been play outside weather, but we’ve had a handful of really nice days. The last few weeks we’ve had a TON of rain…our backyard was a giant mud pool. But now the warmer weather is starting to peek out, and we are loving it! February wasn’t super eventful, but we did have some visitors, a fun Valentine’s Day, and some fun outdoor adventures.

Costumes, coloring, and play-dough…oh my!

Like I said, we did have to spend a significant amount of time inside. Luckily we love our house and have lots of things to do in it, so we definitely stayed busy! We watched lots of Disney movies, (especially Moana…both the kids’ obsession…or as Brax calls it, “Na-Na”) we read hundreds of books, did lots of art and coloring activities, played dress up, had lots of dance parties, and more. Even though sometimes I would rather be outside or find things outside of the house to do, I love seeing the kids be creative and use their imagination while they play. Kinsie loves teaching Brax different things, and he loves learning from her. They both love to read, and often bring us book after book after book to read, which can be exhausting, but I love that we’re instilling these habits into them while they are still so little.

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Valentine’s Day Fun

I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day…Ryan and I always thought it was overrated and didn’t want to spend money on flowers or gifts when we’d rather just get to spend time together. Most holidays change once you have kids, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Kinsie loved everything about this holiday! We loved making Valentine cookies together. They may not have looked perfect, but they tasted good and we had a blast making them. Kinsie also loved hand-making all her Valentines for her family and friends at school. We bought the kits to make her Valentines a few weeks before she actually needed them, and she wanted to start working on them right away! She did all of them by herself, including writing the names of each person she made a valentine for…I just had to help her spell the names. She was so proud of herself and couldn’t wait to pass them out to everyone. Brax enjoyed all the extra love and kisses on Valentine’s Day as well. The kids loved getting valentines from family and friends, and we hung them all up on our pantry door.

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Making cookies with my girl

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Making and passing out her valentines for school

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A Visit from my Parents

My parents have had this trip planned for over a month, and we couldn’t wait! They visited for about 4 days, and they were constantly loving on, hugging and kissing the kids. We had some great meals, had several dance parties, and took walks around the park when the weather cooperated. The kids loved having Papa and Yaya here to visit!

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Outside Day

The last few days have been really nice, and since we were cooped up inside the house while it rained for several days straight, we were aching to be outside. Ryan had the day off on a Monday (and Kinsie doesn’t have school yet on Mondays), so we spent the entire morning at the zoo. After Brax’s nap, we spent the evening outside riding bikes, taking a walk around the park, and visiting with our neighbors. We spent almost the whole day outside on a random day in February, and we loved every minute of it. We are hopeful for more and more of these kinds of days in the near future.

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We didn’t have a very busy month, but even so, I feel like a lot happened. I feel like I’m finally starting to grow some roots here. We found a church home that we love, and I even feel comfortable going by myself with the kids when Ryan’s not able to come. I started attending a Bible study for moms with young children, which has introduced me to many women who are in a similar season of life. Finally, I started a new job! I began working at a tutoring center, where I work with kids one-on-one who are academically behind to help get them back up to grade level. I’m really enjoying it so far, and it works out perfectly for our schedule. It’s nice doing something just for me, and getting some of my teacher fix that I’ve desperately missed. I’m so grateful that God has put all these opportunities in my lap, and that he gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone a bit more to explore and find ways to help me feel more fulfilled. We still really miss being around family, but I have been working hard at meeting new people and finding new activities to help fill that void.

To finish my post, here is our “One Second Everyday” February video. Enjoy the laughing, dancing, yelling and wrestling that goes on in my household every day!

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!