Falling for October

October seemed to fly by! We stayed incredibly busy this month between t-ball, school, ballet, church, vacation, and lots of fall fun. Some of our favorite yearly traditions take place in October, and even with Ryan’s busy schedule, we try really hard to still fit it all in and create fun memories. Here is a recap of our October.

T-ball Season

Kinsie’s t-ball games started this month, and she has been rocking it! Softball has come more naturally to her than any other sport she has tried so far. She still needs to work on her throwing skills, but she has been hitting the ball incredibly well, and being very aggressive on the field. She seems to love it, and we all enjoy watching her play!

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Pumpkin Patches

Going to the pumpkin patch is always a must every year. We always try to find a day where Ryan can go with us, because we all enjoy it. We went to the same pumpkin patch as last year because we loved it so much. The corn pit, the hay playground, the farm animals, the hay ride, the maze…we loved it all!

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This year, Kinsie and Brax’s school did a field trip to a different pumpkin patch. We had so much fun! The kids spent most of their time with Kinsie’s buddy, Judah (who is also on her t-ball team). They loved picking pumpkins and spending time with their teachers outside of the classroom. Kinsie had a homework assignment while she was there, which she was ALL about. This farm had tons of playground areas for the kids to run around, and lots of play scenes to take pictures with. It was a fun morning!

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Trip to Florida

The kids and I were very lucky to get the opportunity to go to Florida with my family for a week. Our original hope was for Ryan to come with us for a few days, but with his limited days off, we just didn’t think it was worth it for him to try to make this trip. We really missed him, but we did have a great time! The kids spent most of their time on the beach playing with their cousins. They loved building sand castles, playing on the boogie board, collecting seashells, and more. It honestly didn’t matter what they were doing, as long as they were with their cousins, they were happy!

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We also decided to spend one day at Disney’s Epcot. We hadn’t been there since Kinsie was 2 and I was pregnant with Brax. The older kids are getting more interested in learning about other countries and cultures, so we thought this was a great time to take them here. We had a very busy, but awesome day! We accomplished a ton in just one day. We loved The Seas with Nemo and Friends and the giant Epcot ball, but mostly the kids loved the characters (we’ll get to that in a minute), and visiting all the countries in the World Showcase.We bought the kids Epcot passports, and they LOVED visiting every country and getting their passport stamped. It was actually very neat, especially because the people who work at each country are actually from that country. This was a very neat experience for all of us, and I loved how much they enjoyed learning about different countries and cultures.

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Our other favorite part of Epcot was getting to meet all the characters. This was definitely the highlight for Brax. He absolutely loved hugging and getting his picture taken with all of his favorites. At the end of the night, we surprised the kids with a Disney princess dinner. The girls were so excited, and loved visiting with, and getting autographs from some of their favorite princesses. It was a long, busy, but wonderful day at Epcot!

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Like I said, we really missed Ryan, but we’re so glad we took this opportunity. We had some great quality family time, and the kids were so happy to spend time with their favorite people. I am so grateful for my family for making this trip work for us and helping me so much. I literally couldn’t have done any of it without them!

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Pumpkins Galore!

Every year, our creative side comes bursting out around Halloween. Ryan and I, even when we were in high school, loved carving unique pumpkins together. We’ve managed to continue this tradition with our kids. This year, we also included painting to the mix. The kids loved painting their pumpkins, and Ryan and I added a Harry Potter and Hedwig to the pumpkin crew this year.

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Last year, one of our favorite activities with the residency group was pumpkin carving. We made sure to be a part of it again this year. The kids loved carving their pumpkins, but they loved running around and playing hide and seek with their friends even more.

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Pictured below- all of our finished painted pumpkins

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And now pictured below are the finished carved pumpkins. From left to right we had Brax’s picks – Chase from Paw Patrol and Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo, Ryan’s pick – a human heart/skull, my pick – the Hocus Pocus witches, then Kinsie’s picks – a unicorn and a Hatchimal.

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Halloween

It poured on Halloween night! And we knew it would…it was in the forecast for a few days. Most of the city of Little Rock moved trick-or-treating to the night before, but Kinsie had a double-header that night. Luckily, our church had a festival on the night of Halloween…so we still got to do our Halloween thing. Kinsie has had her costume picked out for months…she wanted to be Anne Wheeler, the trapeze artist from the movie, The Great Showman. Brax was a different story! I can’t even count how many times he changed his mind. Some of his options over the last month included (but are not limited to) PT Barnum, an elephant, an alligator, a lion, Mickey Mouse, a dinosaur….and about 10 more different types of animals. He’s so picky about what he wears, so I knew it would be a challenge to actually get him to wear something. He finally settled on Mickey Mouse…which I was fine with because I could make him a simple Mickey costume using just normal clothes. Of course he wouldn’t wear it to his school Halloween party, but I was so relieved that he actually wore it on Halloween!

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The festival at church was a lot of fun. It was very crowded, but they had tons of games, activities, and food. The kids loved all the games and had a great time with some of their friends.

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Busy, busy month…but we loved every bit of it! Looking forward to exciting things in November…especially expecting our newest nephew to arrive by the end of the month!!! We can’t wait to meet him and to witness Megan and Tim embark on the amazing journey of parenthood.

As always, enjoy our 1 Second Everyday October video!

Stories of our September

We had a very eventful and refreshing September. After a few months of no activities and extreme heat (thus, us all getting stir crazy and sick of each other), we finally started up our fall activities, and it felt good to become busy again. Not only did school, T-ball, ballet and church activities begin, but we had a nice long week visit in Indiana. Ryan was on his SICU rotation (Surgical Intensive Care Unit), which we knew would be rough. He was working 14 hour shifts with only 4 days off for the whole month. This is part of the reason the kids and I took our trip, because we knew we wouldn’t see much of him anyway. I’m so grateful that his SICU rotation fell on a month where we were busy…if he would have had it during June or July I’m not sure I would have come out alive! We definitely missed him and we’re so glad that he is back in the Emergency Department now, but I’m glad we found ways to get through it.

First Day of School

The kids (and I) were SO excited to start school this year. Kinsie could not wait to get back to the classroom with her friends, and Brax was excited for a new adventure too. Kinsie has loved every moment since she started school. Going 5 days a week has been wonderful for her busy little mind. Brax has done surprisingly well for his first school experience. He still gets a little nervous when I drop him off, and it took a few days of peeling him off of me so I could leave…but other than that, he’s done great. He adores his teacher and seems to like the change of scenery. And I’m not going to lie, I’m enjoying my 2 days a week of kid-free time!

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T-Ball

Kinsie has been excited to start her first season of T-ball. We have practiced with her throughout the summer so she knew what to expect. She’s had 2 practices so far, and games start next month. She has really enjoyed practice, and loves having one of her friends from school on her team. Brax enjoys watching her practice too, but he mainly spends his time chasing bugs and climbing up and down the bleachers!

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Megan’s Baby Shower

As many of you know, my sweet nephew, due at the end of November, was prayed for long before he even existed. Megan and Tim had a long journey of infertility, and we were all in tears of joy when God finally blessed them with a baby boy. Long before Megan was even pregnant, I knew that when the day came, I wanted to throw a baby shower for my sister-in-law. With our current circumstances of us living 500 miles away, I knew it wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but it was going to happen. Months ago, I planned it all out – the kids and I would come visit for a week in September, and that is when we would have the shower. Luckily, the dates worked out for everyone else! I did what I could from a distance, and a few more of Megan’s aunts and cousins helped as well. The shower was a huge success! The decor was amazing, the food was great, and the company was perfect. The kids all enjoyed running amok and helping with the shower games, and we all loved spoiling sweet Megan and baby Mosier.

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Babyshower

Cincinnati Zoo

We used to go to the Cincinnati Zoo pretty often, mainly since they opened the Hippo Cove. In January 2017, the baby hippo Fiona was born premature. Because of this, it took longer than expected for baby Fiona to be displayed in the Hippo Cove with her parents. By the time she was big and healthy enough, we moved to Arkansas, so we weren’t able to see her in person. Kinsie has always followed Fiona’s story, and loves seeing pictures and videos of her. She even has a calendar and several books about her. When I found out we would be in Indiana for a week, I really wanted to make it happen to take Kinsie to finally meet Fiona. Grandma Bev and Aunt Megan tagged along, even though it was supposed to rain all day! However, a little rain would not stop my girl from meeting the baby hippo she’s been dying to meet for so long!

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We started our day at the Hippo Cove, and spent over an hour there. Luckily, the area was covered, so we escaped the rain for a bit. We LOVED meeting sweet Fiona! She was so active and energetic. She was swimming back and forth and doing flips everywhere. Kinsie was in heaven! Both kids followed her and her mom Bibi back and forth across the Hippo Cove and loved every minute of it!

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After spending the morning with Fiona and Bibi, we explored the rest of the zoo. Luckily, the rained eventually stopped and it turned out to be great weather. The morning rain kept the crowds away, so it was much more pleasant than usual. We especially loved the manatees, elephants, giraffes and gorillas. It was a long day, but completely worth it!

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The Lion King

While we were in Indiana, The Lion King Broadway show was playing in Indianapolis. My parents took my sister and I in New York when we were younger, and it was incredible. We really wanted the chance to share this experience with our kids. My mom, sister and I took the 3 older kids to the show. It was even better than I remember, and the kids absolutely loved it! We had a wonderful night and all 3 kids were zonked out by the time we got home!

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Kinsie’s Birthday Adventures

We were a little bummed that Kinsie’s birthday fell on the same month that Ryan had his SICU rotation, but we used it as an opportunity for her to spend her birthday with our family in Indiana. Kinsie had a very busy and fun 5th birthday…

We started our day with traditional birthday donuts. Since we had just seen the Lion King the night before, Grandma Bev had Brax overnight, so we took advantage and had a much needed Kinsie and Mommy morning date!

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Kinsie wanted breakfast food for her birthday lunch, so we went to Bob Evans and invited some of her favorite people. We had an awesome lunch with balloons, a mini cake and piggy pancakes.

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The town that my sister lives in had their homecoming parade that day, so I brought the kids to the parade with their cousins. They had a blast catching candy and Brax mainly pointed and laughed at all the floats and high school students dressed up like jungle animals.

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We ended the night with a birthday dinner at Yaya’s. Kinsie especially loved playing her new Hatchimals board game and painting her new unicorn molds with her cousins.

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Kinsie’s Magical Birthday Party

On our last day in Indiana, we had a unicorn-themed birthday party at Ryan’s Aunt Rita’s house. It was simple…just grandparents, a few aunts and uncles, and cousins. That’s all she needed! Like usual, I had a wonderful tribe helping me with the details! The decorations, cake, and cookies were perfect!

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The kids had a blast running around on the swing set, riding bikes and motorized jeeps, opening presents, and hitting the piñata.

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Kinsie was one happy little unicorn girl. Since Ryan was on such a tough rotation, he wasn’t able to make it to Indiana at all this trip like he was able to last year. We really missed him, but we made sure we included him while we sang happy birthday to our girl.

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Grandparents Day at School

I literally could not have done the trip to Indiana without my amazing mother-in-law and my mom. Bev flew to Little Rock a few days before our trip and helped us drive to Indiana. Then my mom helped us drive back and stayed for a few days before flying back to Indiana. We are so lucky to have families who are so willing to help us!

The timing worked out perfectly, because my mom was able to be here for the kids’ school Grandparents Day. They both LOVED having Yaya at their school! They got extremely attached to Yaya while she was here, and we were very sad to see her go…but luckily we get to see her again in 2 weeks (trip to Florida coming up…stay tuned!)

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Family Time

We didn’t get very much of it during SICU…so any family time we got was a highlight. On Ryan’s few days off, or just in his 1/2 hour to 1 hour time spans we had with him on the days he worked, we squeezed in some quality time together. Whether it was a morning of fishing, watching a quarter of the first Colts game or a quick game of Kinsie’s Hatchimals board game, we just were happy to have Ryan home!

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Family-fishing

Again, I am so grateful for how busy we stayed this month. We really missed Ryan and hated barely getting to see him. However, I’m glad we used it as an opportunity to visit family. Since we won’t be able to take the kids out of school for a week at a time next year since Kinsie will be in Kindergarten, we are taking full advantage of her last year of Pre-K. We are really looking forward to the next few months since we have trips planned and holidays. The end of the year months are the best because we know we get to see family often. Having things to look forward to help us get through the tough days!

Enjoy our September 1 Second Everyday video!

 

Kinsie Kay is FIVE!

I cannot believe my daughter has been with us for half a decade. She is no longer a toddler, but a little girl. She is stubborn and passionate, but she can also be very shy and nurturing. She has developed her own opinion and attitude that she loves to test out in all situations. She takes her role of big sister very seriously, and fiercely protects her brother. Ironically, she is also the one to push his buttons and beat him up more often than necessary! She has more energy than she knows what to do with (thanks a lot, Grandma Bev!), and wears us all out. If any of you have ever read the children’s book Olivia, THAT is Kinsie. We always joke with her with the famous quote from that book…”You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway!” She has gotten much taller this year, and has legs for days! I’m sure she’ll be passing me up in no time!

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This year has been harder on her than we expected with living away from the home and family she’s ever known, but from that she has learned a lot of life lessons that I think have helped her mature. She definitely struggles with residency and everything that goes with it. She doesn’t like her daddy being away as much as he is, and she hates that she isn’t with all our family in Indiana. This breaks my heart when she gets sad about it, so we are working with her on finding ways to focus on the positive aspects of our situation. Keeping busy is crucial for her busy little mind, so lots of activities help keep her from getting sad. She does have lots of friends here between church, school, and the other residents’ kids, which helps her as well. She still loves Facetime sessions, and seeing pictures and videos of our family, and she enjoys counting down how many sleeps until the next time she gets to see them. She really has handled the changes very well for a little girl, and we have all bonded over the changes. Overall she is such a happy, bouncy, energetic, smart little girl who just loves life!

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Here are some current stats about our Kinsie Kay:

  • Favorite color: still pink!
  • Favorite TV shows: Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Fancy Nancy and Vampirina
  • Favorite movie: The Greatest Showman
  • She is very well-rounded. She loves unicorns, princesses, mermaids, and dressing up in tutus, but she also loves dinosaurs, bugs, wrestling and getting dirty.Kinsie-silly
  • She LOVES drawing, arts, and crafts. She enjoys art on all kinds of media- paper, sidewalk chalk, the iPad, you name it. Every day she comes home from school with about 8 more pictures that she drew for us. This does not surprise me at all considering Ryan and I have always both loved art. Give her some paper and crayons, she’ll stay busy for hours. Throw in some scissors and tape, she’ll come up with all kinds of crazy creations!Kinsie-drawing
  • She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She used to also want to be a doctor, but now that she sees how often her daddy works, she doesn’t want to be a doctor anymore. Funny, but a little sad! Maybe once residency is over and Ryan’s hours decrease, she’ll want to be a doctor again!
  • She loves the outdoors. She loves fishing, hiking, running, climbing, swimming, finding critters, and more.Kinsie-tomboy
  • She absolutely loves animals. Visiting different zoos is one of her favorite hobbies. Her favorite animals are still hippos and dolphins. She recently got to meet Fiona the baby hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo and they became instant best friends! Kinsie-animals
  • Lately we’ve been teaching her a few sight words every day, and she loves helping me read her books before bed. She has actually done better with this beginning stage of reading than I expected, and she is surprising her teacher with her new skills. She’s become a pro at writing her letters, and knows how to spell certain words on her own. Her newest obsession is taking the words she knows and creating sentences. IMG_4402
  • She still loves reading books, and works hard at memorizing some of them so she can recite them to Brax. Soon she’ll be actually reading some on her own!IMG_8684
  • She has always loved water, but lately she has become quite the little fish. She has become much more comfortable in the water and has been practicing swimming underwater. I think she’ll be a pro by the end of next summer!Kinsie-swimming
  • She has a great imagination. She has always been so great at playing independently and coming up with very unique ways of playing.
  • She is currently playing T-ball and taking ballet classes. She still loves soccer, but agreed to take a break in order to try T-ball. So far she loves it!Kinsie-sports
  • She has never stayed too much of a mama’s girl, or a daddy’s girl…she’s both! She loves helping me around the house with chores and cooking, and she loves when I teach her new things. She loves using her daddy as her own personal jungle gym, and doing science experiments and sports with him.Kinsie-parents

She and I are very different in many ways, but can also be very similar. She thrives on social interaction, which is very different than me. She can be very hard on herself, which is just like me. Every day I learn something new about her and raising her stretches my limits and tests my patience every day, but I am working very hard to raise her into a God-fearing, respectful young lady. Even though she is stubborn (just like her dad), we are trying to teach her to use her drive and passion in positive ways. Pray for us!

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Here is a video I made to capture our little girl’s silly and spunky personality. Enjoy!

Happy 5th birthday, my beautiful firstborn. You will always be so special to me!

Our August

We have had to put in quite an effort to keep these kids busy for their last month of summer before they start school. They are to the point where they are just over being home with me all the time. No offense taken…I’m over it too! They have been fighting more, and just extra sassy to me. They are definitely ready for a new environment, new friends, and a new authority figure! However…we have done the best we could at finding fun things to do. Every once in a while, we’ll have a few days where the weather isn’t melting us, so we’ll do something fun outside, but other than that, we mainly have to find indoor things to do. Here is a recap of our August.

Day Dates

Like I said, we’ve had to do our best at getting out of the house as much as possible. Whenever Ryan has a day off, we try to find a new fun place. This month, we discovered a few new places!

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We’ve known about this place for a long time, but finally got around to trying it out. Ryan is much more into science than I am, so I wanted him to get to come with us. We all had a great time! It’s no Indianapolis Children’s Museum, but it did the small city of Little Rock justice. There is a full room full of science experiments, so my nerdy husband was in heaven. Now Kinsie wants a science kit for her birthday!

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The Wonder Place-

We’ve been here before, but the kids loved it so much, we had to go back. This place is seriously perfect for young, busybodies like my kids! Now that elementary schools have started, we practically had to place to ourselves!

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Trampoline Park-

This was another place that we’ve known about since we moved, but never took the chance to try it out. Again…this place was PERFECT for our kids. A huge warehouse full of trampolines and a giant foam pit had their names written all over it. We went on another one of Ryan’s days off so he got to enjoy it with us. We will definitely be going back!

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Little Rock Zoo-

We had about 3-4 days in a row where the weather was perfect, and luckily Ryan was off during one of those days, so packed up the kids, the wagon, and a lunch and spend the day at the zoo. These kids love animals so much, they get just as excited to see them each time we go. Another bonus was that every year when your membership renews, you get free tickets for a train ride. Another score for my kids! We had the perfect family day at one of our favorite places!

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Outdoor adventures

Every time I check the weather and see if its going to be less than 90 degrees, we try to spend some time outside. We love going to the park by our neighborhood, and even just playing in our own yard. One afternoon we had some of the other residents’ kids over for a sprinkler date. The kids love spending time with other kids their age, and I love getting some adult interactions with the other moms!

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Weekend at Home

We were so excited to get to come home for a weekend for Ryan’s cousin’s wedding. We were only home Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…but we packed in a LOT of activities in those 3 days!

Indiana State Fair-

We LOVE the fair…both county and state. We love the animals, the food, the rides…all of it. We especially love it when we get to go with family. The 5 cousins had a blast together drinking milkshakes, petting cows, and riding all the rides. It was such a fun, much-needed family night with some of the people we love most.

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Masey’s Wedding-

Ryan’s cousin Masey is one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met. As soon as I found out when her wedding was, I REALLY wanted to make it. Luckily, Ryan was on an ED rotation so he was able to request a couple days off in a row so we could go. This day did not exactly go as I planned it…but that’s life. Brax would not…I repeat, WOULD NOT wear the cute collared Polo shirt I had picked out for him. Or the matching boat shoes. After a long battle, I had decided to cave and let him wear whatever the heck he wanted, but at that point he was inconsolable. We could not take him to a wedding like this! My parents offered to let him take a nap, and then they would bring him for the reception. After his nap and getting to wear an animal shirt rather than his nice clothes, he was better, but still a bit grumpy. He did better as the night went on…I’m sure it helped that Grandma kept sneaking him upstairs to eat the bridal party’s cookies. Even though I didn’t get any nice family pictures, and Brax didn’t make it to the actual ceremony, it turned out to be an awesome night. Kinsie looked beautiful and danced the night away. We loved getting to spend a beautiful evening celebrating sweet Masey with Ryan’s family.

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Lake Day –

On Sunday, we spent most of the day at the lake. The kids loved boat rides, swimming, and tubing with cousins. It’s always a nice treat when Ryan is home in Indiana with us, and I know the kids, and the rest of the family loved having him home as well.

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Pool Night-

After a day at the lake, we went back to my parents’ house for swimming and dinner.  I missed this SO much. Sunday dinners with my family were one of my favorite traditions before we moved, and it felt so good to do it again, especially on a great night where the kids were still wearing their swimsuits and googles and giggling together at the cousin table. This trip to Indiana was therapy.

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August is over now, and I hate it say it, but I’m a bit relieved. Like I said at the beginning of this post, we are all ready for a change. The kids need school. I need a break. I love my children to the ends of the Earth, but it has been a long summer, and I am ready for some well-earned “me” time. I think we will all be in better moods and get along better when we are not together 24/7. Ryan will have one of his hardest rotations in September, but luckily we should stay busy. Kinsie will start T-ball and ballet, and obviously school will start as well. The kids and I will also spend the week of Kinsie’s birthday in Indiana, and we’ll have Bev for a couple days before, and my mom for a couple days after. We are looking forward to the next few months. Stay tuned!

As always, here is our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of August.

July Adventures

While June seemed to last forever, July flew by…probably because we were out of town for half of it! We needed some change of scenery this month, and we definitely got it, and had a great month. We had some great family time, and lots of fun adventures.

4th of July

Last year, we had a blast at the parade and festival that our town held, so we knew we definitely wanted to take part again this year. Ryan asked for the 4th off so he could join us. The parade is definitely a “small town” parade, so nothing extravagant, but many of the floats throw out candy, so that’s all the kids really care about! At night, we went to the festival down by the lake and invited some of our residency friends. The festival included bounce houses, food trucks, and a live band. While we waited for fireworks, we enjoyed eating ice cream sundaes, playing ring toss with glow necklaces on Brax’s neck, and the kids loved just playing and running around in the field together. The fireworks were AWESOME, and all the kids loved it. We always used to spend the 4th with our families, so it was rough last year not being with them. However, we have made the best of it and find fun things to do and now we just make it our own family day.

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Day trip to the Zoo

Sometimes, the kids and I get sick of our every-day routines, and we need to change it up. One day, Ryan didn’t have to work until the afternoon, and we needed something to do to get the kids out of the house for a little while and burn off some energy. We decided on an impromptu trip to the zoo! The Little Rock Zoo may not be as intense as other zoos, but its perfect for us because we can go for 2-3 hours and see everything we want to see. We had a great family morning!

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Family hike in Hot Springs

We’ve heard a lot about Hot Springs, AR since moving here, and we’ve always wanted to check it out. On one of Ryan’s days off, we decided to make it happen and go on a family hike. We found a great State Park with lots of trails. We had a great time climbing rocks and trees, finding frogs, and exploring nature. Days where we take family hikes are seriously my favorite!

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Branson Trip

As you may have already read in my last post, we spent a week in Branson with Ryan’s family. We had such a great time! We loved having Ryan with us for the week, and exploring different zoos, aquariums, and spending days on the lake and at the pool.

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Back home again in Indiana

After Branson, Ryan rented a car to drive back to Little Rock, and my mother-in-law helped us drive to Indiana to spend a week with family. Whenever we spend time back home, all 5 of the cousins are inseparable!

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We probably spent the majority of the week at my parents pool. All Kinsie wanted to do ALL week was swim with her cousins. She has become much more brave with swimming. At the beginning of the summer, she didn’t even like to get her face wet, but now she no longer needs floaties in the shallow end, and has been practicing swimming underwater. She was even doing underwater flips! I think next year, she’ll be able to swim in the deep end without floaties too!

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The timing of our trip home worked out perfectly, because it fell on the same week as the County Fair. My whole family, and most of Ryan’s family tagged along, and the kids had a great time together. We loved looking at all the animals, watching the cheerleading competition, riding rides, and eating hot dogs and milkshakes. The highlight of the night, however, was Brax’s encounter with a goat. My dad knew some people who had a pen of goats at the fair, and they let the kids get in the pen and pet the goats up close. Well, one goat in particular didn’t like having Brax be eye level with him, and he (no joke) HEAD BUTTED him, knocking both him and Kinsie to the ground! They were both physically fine, just a little traumatized! My brother-in-law happened to get it on camera, so we showed the video over and over to Brax until he thought it was funny and could laugh about the “silly goat!”

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As always, just spending time together is all these 5 kids ever want while we’re in town. Whether it be swimming, eating lunch, reading, or singing karaoke…their favorite place to be is together!

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We loved our July travels, but after 2 weeks away, it was nice to be home. Kinsie really struggles when we leave our family, so we’re trying to get more creative on ways to help her not be sad about being away from everyone. For example, I found my old digital picture frame and loaded lots of pictures of her and Brax with our families on it so she can always see pictures of them. We also printed a calendar for her to count down how many days until the next time she sees everyone. Luckily, we’ll all be traveling back to Indy for a weekend next month for a family wedding, so it won’t be too long until our next visit. Although I love summer time, I’m starting to look forward to fall. I’m ready for cooler temps, the kids are excited to start preschool after Labor Day (yes…even Brax!), Kinsie will be playing T-ball, and we have lots of trips and activities planned over the next 4-5 months. Enjoy the remainder of summer and stay cool!

Here is our 1 Second Everyday video for July…enjoy!

Branson Vacation

Every 2 years, Ryan’s family takes a vacation to Branson, Missouri. When Kinsie was less than a year old, we got to go, but we didn’t get to 2 years ago due to Ryan’s med school schedule. We were so excited that we were able to go again this year, especially since its only 3 hours away from Little Rock, and we knew the kids were at perfect ages to enjoy all the fun things to do there. Ryan was able to use one of his weeks of vacation for the trip, which was much needed after last month. We had an awesome trip and had made some wonderful memories.

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Much like Little Rock, it was VERY hot the whole week in Branson, but we still made it work and found lots of fun things to do. Here are the highlights from the trip…

Promised Land Zoo

This was one of our favorite things we did last time we came. There are 2 parts to this zoo, a walk-through and a drive-through. At both, you get up close and personal with lots of animals, and get to feed many of them. Even as a baby, Kinsie has always loved animals, and she loved feeding the animals at the zoo, and sticking her head out the window as we drive around while animals came up to our car windows. Brax has developed that same love for animals, so this time we had 2 very happy children! We planned the walk-through part right because we got there right when it opened, before it got too hot outside. We loved walking around petting and feeding birds, kangaroos, camels and more. Then we had lunch, and drove to the drive-through zoo. At first the kids (and myself) weren’t so sure about emus coming right up to the car, but we eventually became friends and the kids loved it! Such a fun day!

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Table Rock Lake

We rented a pontoon boat for 2 days at Table Rock Lake. We spent all day on the water, only stopping at small restaurants on the water with decks to eat lunch. Since it was so hot, we spent a considerable amount of time just lounging in the water. Kinsie has become much more comfortable in the water this summer, and she was a little fish swimming all over the lake. Brax loved it too, and even took a nap on the boat (this is almost unheard of for him!) We love spending days on the lake!

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Pool Days

The village that Ryan’s parents have their time share is perfect for kids. They have an awesome pool area with an amazing kids section. As soon as we got to the village on the first day, the kids were dying to play in the pool area. Again, with the heat, we didn’t mind a few pool days. The kids had a BLAST. The entire kids area is extremely shallow, so it was perfect for them to run around in!

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Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium

There is a new aquarium in Springfield, MO, which was about an hour away from Branson. We needed at least a day doing something indoors, and this was the perfect option. It was amazing! The building had an aquarium section, and a museum section, and we only did the aquarium side and just that took us over 3 hours to see everything. Some of the highlights were feeding the stingrays, and drawing a sea creature and scanning it to see it come to life on a large projector screen…so cool!

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St. Louis Zoo

The kids and I rode back to Indiana with Ryan’s family to stay for a week after Branson (Ryan had to work, so he drove back to Little Rock). St. Louis is about halfway between Branson and Indianapolis, and they have a great (free) zoo (with hippos)! We stopped for a couple hours just to see some of the kids’ favorites. It was EXTREMELY humid, almost so much that it was hard to enjoy, but Kinsie doesn’t get to see hippos everyday, so we persisted! They loved the animals we got to see, including hippos, gorillas, elephants, penguins, and bears. It was definitely worth the stop!

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We had such a great week, and it was so nice having Ryan for a week. The kids LOVE whenever he has time off, and they are always ALL about him! We are so grateful to his family to letting us be a part of such a great trip!

 

Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot in June

The southern summer heat is here and more intense than I remember. April and May were perfect, then June hit and the high temps and humidity hit us hard. Unless you go outside before 8am, or are in water, it’s honestly hard to bear. Without school or extra-curricular activities, we’ve had to get creative to keep the kids busy. Ryan has had a harder rotation than I expected, with several all-day shifts (7am-10pm), and the rest 11am-9pm. Like mid-shifts, I really dislike these shifts because he’s not home for not only most of the day, but dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. Evenings are my kids “witching hours,” so it’s not fun dealing with it alone! I’ve definitely become used to it, but it’s still so much better when he’s home to help. The kids have REALLY missed him this month – especially Kinsie. She has cried on multiple occasions because she misses him, and she takes out her frustration of him not being home on me. I think it’s worse than usual because she’s not in school to help keep her mind busy. Next month, he’ll get a week off and we’ll go in vacation to Branson, MO…so we’re all looking forward to that!

Here is a recap of our June…

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo! Brax is Two!

The kids spent the last week of May in Indiana with family, and Ryan and I came up the next weekend for a wedding, then had a late family birthday party for Brax. It was perfect timing for us to be home, because my sister-in-law also had just found out the gender of her baby, so we had a small gender reveal before Brax’s party. They are going to have a sweet baby boy and we are SO excited to meet this little blessing! Kinsie asks about the baby EVERY day and can’t wait to have a new cousin. Brax doesn’t quite understand yet, but he loves babies so I’m sure he’ll be obsessed when he meets him!

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The kids had a great week in Indiana, but after a week of being away from me, Brax was pretty grumpy and wouldn’t let me leave his sight. His party was a lot of fun, but a little stressful because he was so grumpy and would only say “No!” to anyone who tried to talk to him. Luckily everyone who was there loves him regardless and we all just took it in stride. We managed to get a few smiles out of him, and he still says he loved his choo-choo party when we ask him, so I guess that’s what counts!

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These sweet cousins were inseparable the whole party

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A special shout-out to Megan for making the kids’ train shirts, the cupcakes, and the banner…Renata for another batch of amazing cookies…my Mom for helping with balloons, and Bev and Tim for hosting! I am SO grateful for my village!

The kids had a blast with the piñata, playing on the ATV, fishing, and just spending time together. Anytime we are surrounded by both of our families, we are happy!

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Outdoor fun

We are always trying to find time to spend outside. When the humidity isn’t as intense, or in the morning when the yard is still in the shade, we try to go out and burn some energy. The kids have loved the sprinkler, water table, kite flying, hopscotch, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bug-catching, and more. Kinsie recently decided that she wants to start t-ball in the fall, so she’s been practicing whenever she can!

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And of course, nothing is better on a hot day than some cold treats! Popsicles, ice cream, and our favorite shave ice truck have been lifesavers in this heat!

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Relief from the heat

Spending time outside is not always possible because of rain, or extreme heat…but my busy kiddos can’t handle too much time in the house. They are great with just playing with their toys, but after a while, they (and I) get stir-crazy and they fight a lot more. We try to get out of the house just about every day, even if its a small adventure. We try to discover new places, or visit our old favorite places. We recently found a restaurant called “All Aboard,” where a train delivers your food (for my Indiana folks – its like Pizza King but more food options and cooler trains that you can see around the entire restaurant) The kids were obsessed and both cried when we left! We also have made small adventures to our favorite frozen yogurt place, had lunch and play time at Chik-fil-A, and visited the library.

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Our anniversary

Ryan and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary this month. We didn’t have a romantic, kid-free dinner or anything, but that’s overrated! We were just happy for Ryan to have the day off! Our anniversary was on a Saturday, so we spent our morning at the Little Rock Farmer’s Market (one of our faves!), and the splash pad. We also ate lunch at the River Market, which is one of my favorite things to do as well ($5 sushi rolls…yes please!) We had a nice dinner at home and just spent time together. It was a great day!

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Kinsie starts ballet

Kinsie has been asking me for months to take a ballet class. I wanted to wait until soccer was over, then signed her up for a short summer session. She absolutely loves it! It’s only a 3-week session so she could just try it out, and since we’ll be out of town a couple of weeks in July, but I have a feeling she will ask me to sign her back up once this session is over. Unfortunately, we don’t get to watch her while she’s in class, so Brax and I have to keep ourselves busy when she’s in class.

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Savoring Daddy time

Like I said, it’s been a harder month than expected, and the kids have REALLY missed their dad. Whenever he is home, they are ALL over him! He is on a rotation where he has “call shifts,” meaning he has to be in the on-call room all day, unless they need him for a code or pronouncement. During these shifts, we can go visit him in the on-call room. The kids have LOVED doing this!

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One good thing about this month is that Ryan was able to set his own schedule, so he took Father’s Day off. We loved having him home for the day, and the kids were so excited about giving him their gift!

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Wonder Place

We discovered this great little place that is specifically for kids 0-8. This place was perfect for my busy kids! So many things to do including water activities, a train set, a sand table, a “river market” with pretend food they can buy, a dress-up area and stage, and more. We stayed for a few hours and they kids are already asking to go back. Definitely a fun morning!

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Craving family

The kids and I were really missing family this month, so I talked to my parents and we decided to make an impromptu trip home for a long weekend. The kids were in heaven swimming in the pool, having cousin sleepovers, watching fireworks and playing at the lake, and just spending time with family. All 5 of the kids were inseparable the entire weekend. It was a wonderful, much-needed trip!

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Sweet cousin love

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Swimming fun

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Ready for fireworks at the lake!

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Having a blast swimming in the lake!

 

It was a harder month than I expected. We’ve officially been here for a year, and I have made significant progress making this my home. I am much better off emotionally and mentally right now than I was this time last year, but I still go through difficult spells. I think summer is hard because I know that if I were in Indiana, I’d be spending most of my time with family at the lake or at my parents’ pool. The kids would be having cousin sleepovers all the time, and we’d be grilling out and eating dinner outside. I miss summers with family SO much. We do what we can to still have a fun summer and give the kids great memories, and we truly treasure when Ryan has a day off. I don’t know what the future will bring after this season of residency, but I trust in the Lord and take comfort in the fact that He knows our next step.

And as always, to end my post, here is our June 1 Second Every video.