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.