We had a whole weekend of 4th of July fun- and Ryan got to enjoy it all with us!
We started out at the lake for the annual fireworks. We always spend the day there, then watch the fireworks at night. The kids had a blast swimming, paddle boarding, and collecting rocks.
Brody was too hype to take a nap that day, but I knew he would love the fireworks, so we just went with it. He didn’t nap, and he was slap happy! He did want his pacifier because he was tired, but he LOVED the fireworks, and he danced around while watching them and naming all the colors he saw! The big kids enjoyed the fireworks too! This was Evie’s first experience with fireworks as well, and we had no idea what to expect. She definitely didn’t like them, but she did ok if we held her close and reassured her!
We spent the night at the lake house, and woke up to do more lake fun. We took a golf cart to the campgrounds and hung out there for a little while, then we came back for more swimming fun.
We also had a fun boat ride. The kids all had fun, and Evie really liked her first boat ride. She loved the wind blowing her ears!
The next day was the actual 4th, so we joined my family at the Brownsburg parade. The kids loved the snow cones and getting lots of candy from the floats driving by.
The highlight of the parade, however, was Brody’s reaction to the firetrucks. He loves trucks and vehicles of all kinds, so he was PUMPED to see police cars and firetrucks in the parade!
We had an awesome morning with family!
After the parade, we had lunch at my sister’s house. The big kids really wanted to stay and swim at their neighborhood pool, so they stayed and we took Brody back to my parents’ house for a nap. The big kids had a blast swimming with their cousins!
Later in the afternoon, we brought the kids back to my parents’ house for swimming, dinner, and fireworks. Ryan’s parents came to join as well.
Ryan bought a big case of fireworks last year and we only used about half of them then, so we used the rest that evening. The kids loved doing sparklers and watching Ryan light some fireworks in the street. It was a chill, low-key 4th of July, and it was the perfect way to end our busy weekend!
I recently found out that there are tons of day camps offered in our town during the summer. I was too late to sign the kids up for a lot of them, but I was able to sign them up for a day camp at their gymnastics building. It was a Soccer Ninja camp! I originally just planned on signing up Brax for this camp, but Kinsie thought it sounded fun too so they did it together. They loved it! They played soccer, had Nerf gun wars, did ninja/gymnastics activities, and a craft each day.
One of the crafts was a shark mask. Brody thought it was hilarious! He definitely missed them while they were at camp each day, but they had a lot of fun!
We got to spend another weekend this month at the lake! We enjoyed a boat ride, swimming, and going to the kids’ cousin’s birthday party!
The kids and I came up to my parents’ house about once a week for a swimming day. My sister’s kids would join us whenever they could which always made my kids happy! I never get many pictures of our pool time because I’m usually in the water with Brody, but here are a few!
The Great Outdoors
We had another fun month of lots of outside fun! We finished the month of July at almost 800 hours for the year!
The kids always enjoy finding bugs and critters.
Doing water activities has become one of their favorite things. They love the kiddie pool, spraying each other with the hose, and jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler!
Brax has been obsessed with sports lately, so he spends a lot of his outside time playing baseball and soccer!
And the kids are still always riding around on their bikes, scooters and power wheels!
And sometimes our outside time is more chill – like drawing with sidewalk chalk, drinking gatorade and just chilling in a fold up chair!
Other Fun at Home
The kids have now started school, but they enjoyed their off time while it lasted. Kinsie is always finding art and craft activities to keep her busy, and the boys enjoyed working out with Ryan and I, and also just lounging around having lazy mornings in bed!
At one point in the month, Brody had a double ear infection. It was rough on his little body, and he was out of whack for a couple weeks, all while Ryan was working a string of 12 hour shifts. One day, Brody had an especially bad day, which made it a really hard day for me. The next day, my mom decided to come down for the day and help me. Her being here helped SO much. The kids were happier, and I had another adult to take some of the load off of me. I am so grateful for my mama and everything she does for our entire family!
Ryan’s mom got to have some special time with the kids this month too. She planned a play date at a water park near Megan’s new house with a bunch of their cousins. They had so much fun, and even spent the night.
Fun at the County Fair
One evening, the kids and I were visiting at my parents’ house and my dad asked if we wanted to go to the Hendricks County Fair, so we loaded up right then and there and went! The kids had so much fun!
Brody’s favorite part was definitely the tractors! We can’t wait to take him to the state fair next!
The kids enjoyed riding a few rides at the fair too.
They loved getting to spend some special time with Papa!
Brody’s Partially Vaccinated!
Even though we’ve now had Covid, it was a great feeling to get my baby his first Covid vaccine! He was a champ!
Library Reading Challenge
The kids enjoyed doing the Summer Reading Challenge through the county library this summer. They got prizes during different stages of the challenge, and the final prize for finishing the challenge was to pick out their own book. Brax picked a dinosaur book, Kinsie picked an origami book, and Brody picked out a truck book. All very fitting for them!
Ryan had a few days off the week before the kids started school, so we decided to take the kids to Holiday World! We have never been, but have always heard great things. We stayed in a hotel for 2 nights, and a cottage at Santa’s Cottages for one night (since that is al that was available!)
Traveling with kids is always an adventure!
The original forecast wasn’t very promising, but we decided we would make the most of it regardless. It rained pretty heavily in the morning while we were still at the hotel and eating breakfast, but by the time we got to the park, it slowed down significantly. Then about an hour in, the rain clouds went away and the sun came out! It was a beautiful, perfect day at the park!
The kids loved exploring the different holiday-themed sections of the park!
Brody was about half an inch too short for a lot of the rides, but he loves all the rides that he was able to go on. One of his favorites was the Holidog Express Train!
We all had a lot of fun on the rides at Holiday World! And the kids LOVED the free fountain drinks available everywhere!
After exploring Holiday World for a little while, we ventured over to Splashin’ Safari, the water park connected to the main park. It was amazing! Ryan and I took turns going on water coasters with the big kids, while the other one stayed back at the splash pads for Brody. The areas for little ones like Brody were fantastic – a toddler’s dream. He LOVED all the water slides!
We stayed until close that day and watched the evening fireworks and drone show. It was an amazing day!
We took the next day off from the parks and ventured around town. We were able to check into our cottage, which we absolutely loved!
The heat index was well in the 100s that day, but the kids still loved playing on the playground at the cottages and feeding the fish in the lake.
The cottages also had a Reindeer Express Train that ran every morning. Brody was a BIG fan!
The kids also loved looking around the Christmas Store, the candy shop and the toy store!
We were on the go so much that day that Brody didn’t get his nap. So by dinner time, he was tuckered out!
We went to the parks the next day for one more day, but this time with a good strategy to make sure we did everything we wanted to. When we entered the park, we were greeted by Santa! Brody wanted absolutely nothing to do with him, but Kinsie and Brax enjoyed saying hi!
We spent most of the day at the water park. The kids rode more of the bigger rides and Brody had so much fun in the little kid areas. After a while, we changed into dry clothes and rode more of the Holiday World rides. We stayed until close again, and then drove home that night. It was an awesome note to end our summer vacation on. We definitely want to make it a summer tradition!
Like I said, our month was very busy and lots of fun! The kids have started school back up now, so we’re trying to get back into the swing of our school routines.
Lately with the craziness of life as a mom of 3 kids and a crazy pup, it has been difficult to find the time to do my monthly blogs. I really enjoy doing them, but it is a struggle to make the time. So I may cut down how often I post, maybe every other month or so. We’ll see where life takes us! Thanks for whoever continues to follow our journey!
Here is our 1 Second Everyday for the month of July. Happy end of summer!
June flew by quicker than I anticipated. Summer didn’t seem like it really started until mid-June because of sickness, vacation, and baseball. But it was a great month, and now we are in the full swing of summer. Here is a recap of our June.
Anniversary Trip to St. Thomas
Ryan and I have been married for 10 years! Our decade together hasn’t exactly been a cake walk with Ryan’s long and grueling medical training journey, but we came out stronger through all of it. To celebrate, we took our first extended vacation together since our honeymoon…to the Virgin Islands!
The view from our balcony
We did TONS of sightseeing and exploring. The views everywhere were absolutely breathtaking!
One day we visited Coral World, where we got to swim with dolphins. This was definitely a highlight of our trip!
We probably spent the majority of our week snorkeling in the beautiful bays of the islands. We saw SO many amazing fish and coral, both on St. Thomas and on St. John. A few of our favorite things we saw included sea turtles, Caribbean reef squid, sting rays, barracudas, and parrot fish. Between the two islands, we snorkeled in 14 different bays! To see more of our pictures, check out the Youtube link below.
We loved getting to spend so much quality time together. We don’t get to relax much in our everyday lives, so we enjoyed living on island time and eating delicious seafood and drinking painkillers and banana daiquiris every day.
After 10 years, he’s still the one I love!
We got a new underwater camera before our trip, and we took some amazing photos and videos while snorkeling. Check it out in the video below.
While we were gone, the kids stayed with Grandma Bev and Papa Tim. They had a blast! They had lots of fun at the lake and spent time with their cousin Griffin.
Ryan and I had to miss a couple of the kids’ games, but they still had plenty of representation! My parents were watching my sister’s kids while they were also on vacation, so they came to see the kids play in their games. Brax even got the game ball when they came!
Evie got to have cousin fun too! She got to spend a couple nights at Nate and Kendyl’s house with her cousin Alfie! They were best buddies and spent lots of time playing and snuggling together! We were so grateful for our tribe for taking such good care of our babies so we could enjoy our vacation together!
End of Softball and Baseball Season
The kids had an awesome season! We loved seeing Kinsie make tons of improvement from last year when she started. She ended her season with a bang and got another game ball…which her cousins were there to see!
Brody was sad to see baseball season end…mainly because that meant he couldn’t get as much popcorn and slushies from the concession stand anymore!
We were also so proud of Brax for his first season of baseball! He did so great and had so much fun. His team got regular season runners up, and he also ended his season with another game ball!
At the beginning of summer vacation, we couldn’t go anywhere because we were in quarantine from Covid. Then as soon as we were all out of quarantine, Ryan and I went on our trip. So FINALLY one I was home, we could go explore!
We went on walks on the trail
We went to the park for a play date
We’ve taken rides in Daddy’s Jeep
Another park day…
And we’ve gone to the library a few times!
Stay tuned for more summer adventures in July!
We’re still trucking along with our outside hours. We are usually averaging around 3 hours a day…but sometimes we get up to 9 or 10 hours in one day! The majority of the hours we got this month was at house doing water activities. We bought a new kiddie pool and it is the BEST. Every other pool we had popped or broke after a few uses, but this one is much more durable. The kids have also been enjoying using the sprinkler under the trampoline. Our water toys keep the kids busy for hours!
We also take Evie on walks whenever we get the chance to help get some of her energy out.
The trampoline and sprinkler have been a huge hit!
Another summer tradition has included making s’mores on our new fire pit! Brody mainly loves the marshmallows, and he will keep trying to sneak more when he thinks we aren’t looking!
The kids always find something fun to do outside!
One night, we let the kids go out to the backyard to catch fireflies. We have the perfect yard for it since we have woods behind us and open lots next to us. They loved it!
Swimming at Yaya’s
We always try to find time to go swimming at Papa and Yaya’s. The kids still had softball and baseball throughout most of the month, so it was harder to find the time to go, but we squeezed in a few trips. I’m sure we’ll have more in July.
Unfortunately, having a fearless, adventurous little toddler has its downside. Brody took a spill on his little bike and knocked out his front tooth. It was pretty traumatic to see my baby bleeding and in so much pain, but it could have been much worse. His tooth was knocked clean out, root and all and he had a fat lip and some scratches on his face, but after a popsicle and some medicine, he recovered pretty quickly.
He was acting like his silly self again by the next afternoon. I was sad that his little smile wouldn’t be the same, but I’ve learned to love his precious new look!
At the end of the month, we lost someone very near and dear to our family. My brother-in-law’s dad, Don, joined his beautiful wife Diane in heaven. I’ve known Don since I was in high school, and he has always been such a special part of our lives. He was the best Pops to my sister’s kids, and treated my kids as his own as well. He was such a special man, and I feel so blessed that I was able to call him family.
We ended our month spending lots of time with family, which wasn’t under the best circumstances, but definitely needed through the heartache of losing Don. My kids loved getting to be there for their cousins and making them smile during a difficult time. Now we are looking forward to July…hopefully having more fun summer adventures before the kids start school in August.
What a whirlwind of a month. We had some awesome days, and some really really tough days. I’ll get right into it…
Brax turned SIX!
The first Monday after we got back from Disney was Braxton’s 6th birthday! We had so much fun celebrating our oldest boy. We started out with a birthday tradition of donuts for breakfast. While he was at school, my sister had Crumbl Cookies delivered to our house to surprise him when he got home!
He has been obsessed with all things Mario (especially Mario Kart) lately, so he was STOKED about his birthday present from us…a Rainbow Road Mario Kart track!
Once Kinsie got home from school, we got carry out dinner and went to one of Brax’s favorite parks. His dinner choice was sushi (just like his mama). So we enjoyed our sushi at the park, then let the kids play for a while.
We also ventured down to our favorite waterfall area of the park too. Even Evie got to join!
After fun at the park, we went to get our favorite ice cream, Jiffy Treat!
Evie got to try ice cream for the first time, and so gobbled it down! Afterwards, she was shivering! It must have made her cold!
It was such a fun day. I love my kids’ birthdays. I love spoiling them and making them feel special all day. I think our boy had a wonderful birthday!
First Pool Weekend
We stayed at my parents’ house for Mother’s Day weekend, which became the first pool weekend. It wasn’t THAT warm…maybe high 60s/low 70s. But the kids still really wanted to swim…and they did. They swam Saturday night and all day Sunday. The pool was warm, so as long as they stayed in, they were good. They even had a poolside lunch so they didn’t have to get out!
Brody turned TWO!
I’m not really ok with the fact that my baby is two…but I am also obsessed with watching him learn and grow every day. He keeps us busy, but constantly entertained. He is so funny, loves doing everything his siblings are doing, and is very independent. He is also the cutest stinkin’ little boy ever!
Again, we started our morning with birthday donuts!
He was SO excited about his birthday present. He is obsessed with his Daddy’s Jeep, so we got him his own! He spent the majority of his day riding around in it!
Brax was already out of school, but Kinsie still had a week left. Since both boys had May birthdays, we took them to Build-a-Bear to make birthday bears. Brax made his roar like a dinosaur when you squeeze his paw, he had a Stitch outfit, and a glowing light saber. Brody just picked out a basketball, so I added the IU shirt to go with it!
After his nap, we got out the water toys for the afternoon. Then we had Mother Bear’s pizza for dinner.
Brody loves the Happy Birthday song, but he does NOT like it sung to him and being the center of attention…as you can see from the second picture below! Typical toddler! We had another great day celebrating our baby boy!
Take me out to the Ballgame
This month involved lots and lots of time at the ball fields. The kids are enjoying their seasons of softball and baseball, and we are loving watching them. Brody mainly loves eating snacks, climbing on Brax and Kinsie, and putting on sunscreen!
“Swimming” Birthday Party
We had another combined birthday party for the boys. Brax wanted to have a swimming party at my parents’ house with his cousins, so that is what we planned on! The forecast looked like it was supposed to be a beautiful day, with maybe a few scattered showers later in the afternoon….but this is Indiana. And the forecast is almost always wrong!
Right before the kids planned on going swimming, it started storming. Luckily they still enjoyed playing together in the basement for a while.
I used my Cricut skills to make a banner, birthday shirts, and party favors for the kids – color changing cups with their names on them. Brody especially loved all of the cars, trucks and bus decorations!
The storm stopped for about 30 minutes at one point, so the kids all sprinted out and swam for a little while. As soon as we heard thunder again, they had to get out. But they enjoyed it while it lasted! Afterwards we did the piñata and presents in the garage.
The boys loved all their gifts from everyone!
Finally, we came inside to sing happy birthday and have cake and ice cream. Again, Brody cried and hid under the table when everyone sang to him! But he loved the cake and spending time with all of his cousins!
Even though the day turned out different than we expected, we still had a great day. The kids were genuinely happy to be together and play with their cousins, and that is all that mattered!
End of the School Year Activities
May is always SO busy but SO much fun. I love all of the end of the year activities that happen…especially now that the world is opening back up and schools are having programs, etc.
Guest Day – Brax’s school has a “Guest Day,” where they can choose any adult guest to come join them at school for the day. They weren’t able to have it last year because of Covid, but they were able to do it this year. Brax was very excited to pick his Papa!
End of Year Luau – Brax’s school always goes all out with the end of the year luau. They decorate the hallways, play Hawaiian music, and plan lots of games and activities.
Family Fun Night – Kinsie’s school held a “Family Fun Night” one evening. Ryan was working, so I brought the kids and they had a blast. There was a book fair, snacks, games, and crafts.
Writing Celebration Picnic – Kinsie’s class held an end of year picnic, where the students got to share their writing from the school year with us, then we had a picnic lunch. Brody loved getting to see his sissy at school and eating lunch with her!
Last Days of School – I can’t believe how much Braxton grew this year…physically, academically, socially, emotionally…the list goes on. I know I made the right choice sending him to half day Kindergarten, and now I am 1,000% sure he is ready for 1st grade!
Kinsie also had a fantastic year. She’s always been smart, but she was painfully shy. She made SO much progress this year and made lots of friends!
We loved getting to see Brax graduate from Kindergarten! It was really important to me to see this. If you recall, I didn’t get to see Kinsie graduate from Kindergarten. This was when Covid shut the world down. They had a drive-through graduation, and I was stuck in the hospital with Brody, so Ryan and my mom brought her and recorded it for me. So I was very happy to get to see Brax’s graduation!
Brax had the sweetest Kindergarten class. He was emotional before the last day because he didn’t want to leave his friends. We are so proud of our Kindergarten grad!
Lots of Hours Outside
We are trucking along with our 1,000 Hours Outside goal! We are just short of 500 at the end of May! We’ve been able to get outside for at least an hour or two every single day lately. It helps that we recently got some nice outdoor furniture for our back patio. We’ve been eating lunch and dinner outside pretty much every day!
We also just hang out on the patio and color or play too. We spend a lot of time on the driveway with all the cars, scooters, bubbles, chalk, and sports equipment.
When Kinsie was still in school, the boys had lots of quality brother time!
We even tested out our new fire pit to make s’mores!
Lately, the kids even want to play outside when it’s raining!
Ending our month with Covid
After 2 years, it finally got us. We were careful for SO long, and lately we let our guard down and started living our life again. We knew the risk was low, but still there. I thought for sure that if we were going to get it, we’d get it from a place like Disney World…but no. Kinsie got it from someone at school on her last week of school.
On the last day of school, we got an email saying that someone in Kinsie’s class tested positive. The next day, she started getting a sore throat. The next morning, she also had a headache and a fever, and we pretty much knew what that meant. We tested her, and it showed up positive right away.
At that point, we knew we all had been exposed and would most likely all get it too, but we still tried to mitigate the spread just in case. We put a TV in Kinsie’s room and let her quarantine in there. If she came out of her room, we all wore masks. She came out to eat dinner with us…another reason our outdoor patio furniture came in handy! But other than that, she actually enjoyed her alone time in her room!
The day after Kinsie tested positive, I started to get a scratchy throat. I was certain that I had it, and I tested myself that night, but it was negative. I was still convinced that I had it, so I tested again the next day, and low and behold…positive.
Again, we knew Ryan and the boys would probably get it, but I still wore a mask around them until I knew for sure. Luckily Kinsie already was starting to feel better, so she came outside with us to play and take walks. Ryan continued to test himself throughout this entire process, and each time, he tested negative, so he continued to go to work (They are too short-staffed to lose any doctors from being close contacts).
The day after my positive test, I was MISERABLE. I was up all night throwing up and suffering from body aches and chills. Luckily Ryan was off work on this day, so he was able to help with the kids. Even still, Brody always wants to lay and hang on me, and Evie always wants to play…so I didn’t get to relax quite as much as I would have wished.
On this day, Brody woke up from his nap with a fever. We decided not to even test him, we pretty much knew he was positive too.
The next few days I spent trying my best to recover. I napped when Brody did and tried to just sit down and “relax” as much as possible. But I was pretty miserable for a few days. The body aches and extreme exhaustion completely kicked my butt. My best comparison to how I felt was when I had Swine Flu in 2009, plus the exhaustion of the first trimester of pregnancy all wrapped up in one sickness. Covid was the only other time I felt that kind of exhaustion. And I’m vaccinated!! I am so grateful that I am vaccinated because it could have been SO much worse for me had I not been.
Brody had a fever for about 1.5 days, and a little bit of congestion, and then he was 100% fine and back to himself. He is still our only unvaccinated family member, so I was SO grateful that he had the most mild case.
The CDC recommends testing yourself if you’re a close contact about 5 days after the exposure, so Ryan and Brax (still completely asymptomatic at this point) both tested, and were both negative. I wasn’t sure how they had dodged it! But then, 3 days later, almost a full week after Kinsie tested positive, Brax started going downhill. He wasn’t acting like himself, and he kept telling me he was so tired. Later in the evening, I felt his forehead and could tell he had a fever. I tested him right then, and another positive.
He had a high fever and some congestion for about 1.5-2 days, and wasn’t his usual silly self, but after just a couple days, he was much better. It honestly made it easier once he had it, because then Ryan was working every day, and the rest of us all already had it, so we didn’t have to quarantine or mask up or any mitigation measures at that point.
RYAN STILL NEVER GOT IT! We couldn’t believe it. Maybe all of the small exposures he had at work over the last 2 years gave him some immunity. We don’t know, this virus is crazy.
As of today, the kids have been stuck at home for 10 days. Brax still has a couple days to go, and then they will all be free! Thank goodness it was nice outside, so we spent tons of time outside.
The kids also did lots of crafting, LEGO projects, and Kinsie made a bunch of different small desserts that she came up with on her own.
They really were champs through all of it. I tried so hard to protect them for 2 years, but I knew the risk would always be there, and at least we made it until 2 out of our 3 kids were vaccinated, and once the variants were a little more mild.
Here’s a breakdown of all of our symptoms:
Kinsie: sore throat, fever, headache, congestion
Kara: scratchy throat, tired/weak, body aches, vomiting, coughing
Brody: fever, some congestion
Brax: fever, tired, some congestion
Ryan: Miracle human
So now hopefully Covid is behind us and we can TRULY move on. I will still get Brody vaccinated as soon as it is available for him, and the kids will get boosters after a few weeks as well. This virus is no joke and I hope to never get it again! We’re looking forward to officially starting SUMMER! We can’t wait to venture out to parks and splash pads and the pool! Enjoy our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of May!
We had a very busy and exciting month! It was exhausting, but for all good reasons. I’ll just get right into it…
We got a new pup!! As you know, we lost our beloved Koda last September, and our home just hasn’t been the same since. Ryan and the kids would have gotten a new pup immediately, but with the chaos of life, and upcoming winter, and my wild toddler, I knew it was best to wait a little while. After about 6 months (the longest Ryan and I have ever been without a dog), we were ready. We had intense puppy fever, so we started the search of adopting a pup. After several weeks of watching on the Pet Finder website, we came across this precious little Shepard mix about an hour away. We planned to meet up with her foster, and we pretty much knew we’d be coming home with a puppy! We fell in love with her immediately and brought her home that day!
Love at first sight!
Evie has adjusted very well to our home. She is still getting the hang of potty training and learning what is or isn’t an appropriate thing to chew on or bite, but she’s definitely making progress. She is very smart, sweet, energetic, and mischievous. She knows the commands of sit, come, lay down, and with me (heal). Her favorite things to chew on are shoes, socks, and Brody (don’t worry…just his pants. She is a Shepard mix, so we think she is trying to “herd” him!) She loves being outside and finding anything in nature to eat…rocks, leaves, sticks, mulch, you name it. She is an exhausting little thing (especially combined with my already crazy toddler), but we absolutely adore her!
Take me out to the Ballgame!
Baseball and softball season are officially underway. Kinsie and Brax have both had their first games, and their season is off to a great start. Brax had a serious case of the jitters before his first game, but once he started playing, he loosened up and had a great time. Kinsie started out strong and received the game ball at her first game! She was so excited, and she had a whole fan club of family members there to see!
Brody tags along to each game happily…but he’s mainly in it for the snacks!
My parents love coming to the kids’ games, and they try to bring along their cousins whenever they can. The kids loved getting to play together on the playground after one of Brax’s games!
Easter snuck up on us quickly. Between having a new puppy to care for, and preparing for our upcoming vacation, we had to squeeze in all of our Easter festivities into one weekend.
We baked and decorated our Easter cookies…
and we dyed Easter eggs…
On Easter Sunday, we spent the entire day with both of our families. We watched church online in the morning with my parents, then we headed over to Ryan’s aunt’s house for Easter fun. They had an awesome Easter egg hunt, and lots of food and treats. The kids had SO much fun with ALL of their cousins!
Kinsie and her cousins Kerigan and Emery are all the same age. Their birthdays are in September, November and December of the same year, so they have always been very close. When they were only 3 years old, before we moved to Arkansas for residency, they were all on the same soccer team, and their dads were the coaches. This picture comes up on our Timehop every year, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to reenact it! We even all still had their jerseys! So the pictures below are 5 years apart!
The kids had so much fun riding on cars and ATVs and exploring the creek. It was a wonderful Easter!
The Great Outdoors
We are still going strong on our 1,000 Hours Outside goal. Now that it isn’t winter, we try to spend at least a little time outside every single day…and having Evie helps us with that. We have to take her out to go potty often, and she LOVES being outside so she motivates us to be outside more. We love taking her on walks, and the kids love running around with her in the yard.
And I love spending time with my sweet boys while their sis is at school!
We had a LOT of rain this month. It definitely made it tough to potty train a puppy. But whenever we couldn’t be outside, we tried to find things to keep us busy inside.
And drawing the family tree of the Madrigal family from Encanto…
And organizing craft time,
And even making nugget slides on the stairs!
There’s never a dull moment in our house!
We were so excited to get the opportunity to travel back to Disney World and Universal Studios! The last time we went on a week-long trip there was in 2019…pre-pandemic and pre-Brody. In fact, I was about 12 weeks pregnant with Brody, so I wasn’t able to ride a lot of the rides that I love. Now that Brody is old enough to really enjoy it, and the pandemic has improved significantly, we couldn’t wait to go back! When Ryan’s mom sent the whole family a text message asking if we would want to use their time share and make a trip in April, we were all in!
For those of you who have been to Disney lately, you know that you can’t just show up and start riding rides anymore. It takes months of planning…like trying to snag popular dining reservations, syncing up your entire party together on the My Disney Experience app, learning how Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes work, mapping out your general strategy for park days, and making shirts for each park day…ok that last part isn’t 100% necessary, but I’m obsessed with making shirts with my Cricut, so it was necessary for me! But it’s a LOT of work, but definitely worth it! Ryan’s sister Megan and I tag-teamed to prepare for the best trip possible!
Day 1- Traveling and Disney Springs
Our flight was in the morning and was a direct flight, which was really nice not to have to switch planes with 3 kids. We were on the same flight as Ryan’s parents and his brother Nate and his fiance, Kendyl, so it was nice having lots of help with carrying luggage and keeping track of kids! The kids were great on the plane, and we overall had a very smooth traveling experience.
We headed straight to Disney Springs, where we met up with Ryan’s sister Megan, and her husband Tim and son Griffin. I had been trying to get a reservation at the T-Rex Cafe for months, but none became available. After learning some tips and tricks from friends and Facebook groups, I was able to snag 2 tables for all of us on the spot! We loved the experience! It was such a fun environment, and the kids loved watching the dinosaurs come to life and watch the meteor showers on the ceiling.
After eating, we walked around Disney Springs, shopped at the stores, and ate ice cream. Then we went to our condo, unpacked and prepared for our first park day.
Day 2- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
To be honest, I’ve never been THAT crazy about Animal Kingdom…it seemed like a glorified zoo to me. But Ryan and the kids love it so I always went for them. HOWEVER…my opinion on it has changed over the last few visits, and now I absolutely love it! This was our first experience using Genie+ and it worked SO well. We rode all of the main rides we wanted to ride early on, and then got to just relax and explore and try fun foods and drinks, and even ride a few rides for the second time in the afternoon
We loved all of the animals!
Avatar’s Pandora is our FAVORITE area of Animal Kingdom!
We loved the Night Blossom drink in Pandora.
One dining reservation we were able to get early on was lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, which is a character meal. Disney just changed their policy within the last few weeks so that guests can now get close to and hug the characters again! Brody was in a weird mood after his stroller nap, and didn’t love the idea of getting super close to the characters, but he liked watching them and waving to them. The food was wonderful and we had a great meal!
We even got to do a few rides more than once. The kids loved the Triceratops Spin! Kinsie and Brax were both big enough to ride Avatar’s Flight of Passage, which is my favorite! They loved it just as much as I do.This ride is the most popular ride at this park, so we had to buy an Individual Lightning Lane pass for it, but it was worth it! And right before park close, we decided to run back over to Pandora to get in line to ride it again! It was a great way to end the day!
Day 3- Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
Whenever we do an Orlando trip, we always make time for Universal Studios as well. For me, it is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that always brings me back!
Kinsie and Brax are both more into Harry Potter now than they were a few years ago, and have even read the first few books with us, so I loved getting to share these experiences with them. They loved drinking butter beer and getting candy at Honeydukes. Kinsie was tall enough to ride Forbidden Journey, which she loved, and we rode it 3 times! Brax got to ride Flight of the Hippogriff and he was obsessed! Brody wasn’t quite big enough to ride those rides yet, but he was happy as can be with a “chocolate frog” lollipop that Grandma bought him from Honeydukes!
Universal Studios was crowded, and does not have a system like Disney for avoiding lines (unless you get an Express pass which costs an arm and a leg), so we just had to kick it the old fashioned way and wait to ride the rides with lower wait times. We were very efficient with our time, and were able to ride everything we wanted to, and never had to wait more than 30-40 minutes. We even got to ride Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure, which usually has a wait time of well over an hour. Ryan got to go on this ride in 2019, but I didn’t because I was pregnant. This time, Kinsie and I both got to ride on it together and we loved it!!
The kids enjoyed seeing characters, and Brax loved the Jurassic Park area! And I am so thankful for Ryan’s parents for hanging out with Brody while Ryan and I went on bigger rides with the big kids!
Day 4- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This is where we went in February, and where Brody had his first Disney experience, so we were excited to go back! Since February, the kids have gotten more into Star Wars, so Ryan was especially excited to explore more of Galaxy’s Edge with them. Right away, when we got to the gate, we could tell it was going to be a crowded day. Somehow, after lots of persistence and constant refreshing of my app, I still managed to snag some Individual Lightning Lane passes for Rise of the Resistance, which is the hardest ride to get into in all of Disney right now! Because the park was so crowded, and everyone was booking their Genie+ passes, ALL of our Genie+ windows weren’t until the afternoon. And all of the rides had way too long of waits to stand in with little kids. So we wandered around a lot and saw some characters and shows.
Brody was hit or miss with characters this trip. He LOVED seeing Olaf, and continuously hugged him and even tried to take him with us as we left the room. He also loved watching Chip and Dale in the courtyard. But he didn’t want to hug Pluto, he was more comfortable keeping his distance!
The first half of the day was tough. It was unbelievably hot and crowded, and it was hard to get anywhere or do anything with the crowds and the long lines. I still am thankful for Genie+ though, because even though our passes weren’t until the afternoon, we were able to ride all the rides we wanted to because of it…just later in the day. Slinky Dog Dash was still a favorite, along with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Toy Story Mania. We enjoyed spending more time exploring Galaxy’s Edge, and got to ride all of the Star Wars rides.
One dining reservation I worked really hard to get was at Oga’s Cantina. It’s a bar-type hangout in Galaxy’s Edge with really fun drinks. We always like to try something different every time we go, and we’re never disappointed! Brody fell asleep right before our reservation, so we carried him in and he napped in the booth while we enjoyed our drinks. We also loved the famous blue milk at Galaxy’s Edge!
One of the highlights of the day for the big kids was building their own droids. Kinsie learned about this during our February trip, and it was all she talked about since! So I made sure to make reservations as soon as I could so she could experience it. And Brax loves all the droids on Star Wars, so I knew he would love it too. It was such a neat experience!
We love Toy Story Land. It is one of our favorite parts of Hollywood Studios. However, it was unbearably crowded during the day. We didn’t get to enjoy it at all…until evening! After droid building and a quick dinner, we had a Genie+ pass for Alien Swirling Saucers, and then we were able to jump in line for Slinky Dog Dash five minutes before park close. It was AWESOME at night! By the time we were off the ride, the park was closed, so we got to walk through Toy Story Land and finally admire it with the beautiful lights and empty walkways. It was glorious!
Day 5- Break Day
After 3 park days in a row, we were ready for our “rest” day. We slept in (as much as my kids do), relaxed in the condo for a while, then went out for a small adventure. I really wanted to see some of the other Disney resorts, and the kids wanted to ride the skyliner. We went to the bus station at Disney Springs, where Brody was in heaven!! He LOVES any and all buses…but Disney buses are his favorite! He was awestruck when he actually got to ride on a Disney bus to the resort!
We went to the Art of Animation resort because I’d seen pictures of it and I knew my kids would love it. Brody LOVED all the Cars statues!
After exploring the resort for a while, the kids were getting hungry and wanting to swim at the resort, so we hopped on the skyliner and took a quick ride to another resort. From there, we took a bus back to Disney Springs, ate lunch, then headed back to our resort.
We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, playing in the splash pad and floating down the lazy river. It was exactly what we needed! We ate dinner at a restaurant at the resort, then walked around watching ducks, fish, and the sunset. It was a relaxing evening, and gave us the rest we needed before another park day!
Day 6- Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom has always been my favorite. It doesn’t necessarily have my favorite rides, and it is always super crowded and overwhelming, but it is the most magical. I love all the parades, random shows, and the fireworks. I especially love when I get to bring one of my kids for their first trip and seeing the magic through their eyes!
We booked Genie+ passes for the rides we knew would have long waits, but we still had plenty of rides that we were able to just walk right on, or have very short waits. We started our morning riding Small World, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, and eventually made our way over to watch the Country Bear Jamboree and the Enchanted Tiki Room, which Brody was obsessed with! Magic Kingdom definitely has the most rides that Brody could actually ride, so he loved every minute! We got an Individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and I’m so glad we did because it was really cute! (It’s usually over an hour wait) We fit in SO many rides in one day…and we were able to ride on rides that we haven’t done in years because they usually have too long of a wait. Thank you Genie+!
We were so excited that the Festival of Fantasy parade was back! Watching it with Kinsie and Brax when they were little are some of my favorite memories, and I couldn’t wait to watch it with Brody too. He absolutely loved it…especially Chip and Dale!
We didn’t see a ton of characters outside of the parade and calvacades…mainly because we were so busy hopping on and off rides. We did run into Stitch though and snapped a quick pic!
We ended up using a Genie+ pass on meeting Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater because there was a long line for it all day, and we never got to see him at Hollywood Studios for that same reason. Brody was being really shy again and didn’t want me to put him down, but he enjoyed saying hi to him while in my arms.
Another priority for me this trip was trying more of the unique snacks that Disney has to offer. That was part of all the prep work I did…finding the best snacks! The dole whip was a classic that turned out to still be our favorite!
We watched the fireworks show, and it was absolutely amazing. There are no fireworks like Disney fireworks! This is always the most crowded part of the day, and can often get frustrating…but I tried to stay in the moment and not let rude people get to me and ruin the magic. I will admit, I shed a few tears as I watched the fireworks over Cinderella castle for the first time with my little Brody while he rested his head on my shoulder!
After the fireworks, we still had around 2 hours before the park closed. We had a Lightning Lane pass to use for Splash Mountain since the ride closed down earlier in the day while we were in line. Kinsie opted out of that one, but Brax loved it. Kinsie and Brax also both rode Space Mountain. Brody soon fell asleep so Grandma Bev stayed with him while we did a few more rides with the big kids. We finished the night with Mickey’s PhilarMagic, a 3D show that we all love. When the show was over, the park was closed and everyone was heading out of the park. So I had to snap one more pic in front of the castle since it wasn’t crowded anymore!
14 hours and 30,000 steps later, Braxton was out! Brody and Griffin were already asleep for a little while, so Kinsie was the last kid standing as we left the park around midnight! It was SUCH a busy, exhausting day, but it was absolutely amazing!
Day 7- Universal Studios
Last park day. We were up really late the night before from Magic Kingdom, and Universal Studios was our last stop…and it opened at 8am. So we started our day tired already, but we powered through since it was our last day!
On our first Universal day, the Hogwarts Express broke down right before we were about to ride it to the other park. So we made sure we started our morning at Diagon Alley…my absolute favorite!
The kids also enjoyed seeing the Knight Bus, and seeing Creacher the house elf peek out of the curtains of Number 12 Grimwald Place.
Since the kids are really into Harry Potter, we decided to do the Wand Experience at Olivander’s Wand Shop. Kinsie was chosen to do some spells to find the perfect wand match! A special wand chose her, and she was over the moon! It was such a special experience that she’ll never forget!
We also ate lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, drank more butter beer, and had ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.
Afterwards, we finally got to ride the Hogwarts Express. Brody is obsessed with cars, trucks, buses and trains right now so he was SO excited to ride the choo-choo! He seriously could not contain his excitement, and he danced and squealed around happily as he waited to ride, and during the entire ride!
We spent the rest of the day riding all of the rides that we hadn’t done yet, and we were completely exhausted by around 4pm. The park closed at 6pm that evening anyway, so we called it an early evening and went back to the condo to relax and get ready to head home the next day.
Disney vacations are always so busy and tiring, but so amazing. We always make so many wonderful memories, and I love experiencing it with my kids at their different ages.
And that was our April! It is hard to believe that it is already May and the kids will be done with another school year soon. Life has seemed a lot more normal for us lately since Covid numbers have been so low, and I’m not going to lie…it feels so nice. Praying that things continue to move in the right direction!
We love March. It marks the beginning of spring and warmer weather. This month had some beautiful weather, and some freezing weather…typical of Indiana! But we had a lot of indoor and outdoor fun this month!
We bought a trampoline! This was something we’ve had our eye on for a while. We knew the kids would love it…and we were right! We’ve had it less than a month and it has already been a huge hit!
Even Brody is having fun on the trampoline. He can’t really jump yet, but he loves bouncing around when Kinsie and Brax jump around him. The kids already have lots of plans with this trampoline as the weather gets consistently warmer.
Kinsie’s Art Display
Kinsie’s artwork was chosen by her art teacher to represent her school In the Youth Art Month exhibition at the art museum on IU’s campus. Only a few students’ artwork from each school were chosen for this exhibition, so it was an honor. We were so proud of her, but not surprised! She is a wonderful little artist and it is great to see her thrive in an area that she loves so much. On the first day of the exhibition, we took a trip to campus to go see her artwork.
She received a certificate and a gift bag from the museum. She was so happy!
Kinsie’s little brothers were proud of her and loved seeing her art too!
It was a beautiful day outside, so we took the opportunity to spend the morning on campus. We had a picnic lunch and walked around campus. The museum is right next to the Showalter Fountain, and IU’s marching band happened to be practicing there at the time. We enjoyed sitting and listening to them practice by the fountain, and Brody danced around to the music! The fountain was empty, so the kids got in and ran around in it. It was a beautiful and fun morning!
School Dress-up Days
The kids had a few dress-up days this month for Read Across America week. Kinsie got to dress as her favorite book character, so she dressed as a Hufflepuff character (her Halloween costume).
Brax had a few fun dress-up days too…including Wacky Wednesday!
And Crazy Hair Day! His blue hair was a hit!
St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patty’s Day is mainly a fun excuse to take cute pics of my kids!
Since the kids were on Spring Break, Ryan’s parents, and his sister Megan and her son Griffin came for the day to visit. They wanted to see Kinsie’s artwork, but also just hang out with us for the day. It was another beautiful day, and we took advantage of it again by walking and exploring campus.
Grandma Bev and Papa Tim were in their happy place with all 4 of their grandbabies!
We love the Cincinnati Zoo…mainly because of the hippo, Fiona. Recently, the zoo got another adult hippo in the exhibit – Tucker. Ever since then, the kids have been asking to go again to see Tucker. So when the kids were on Spring Break, we did. My parents came along for the fun too. The weather was great and it wasn’t too crowded like it was last time we went.
The kids loved feeding the giraffes and seeing them up close.
We had lunch with a view of the savanna.
We spent a lot of time with Fiona, Tucker and Bibi at the hippo cove. Like usual, they did not disappoint! They were SO active…swimming back and forth, doing flips, and playing with each other. Kinsie was in her happy place…she could have stayed there all day!
We’ve been visiting Fiona since she was less than a year old, and Kinsie was only 4! Look how much they’ve both grown!
We loved seeing and interacting with all the animals!
The perfect way to end our day…ice cream!
Grandma Bev watched the kids overnight, and then she and Megan took them to the Children’s Museum. The new Dinosphere opened back up, so Brax was pumped! The kids had a great time…even Brody got to join!
Fun at Yaya’s
Another day, the kids had a play date at my parents’ house. They played outside ALL day!
We had a few random cousin play dates this month. Have I mentioned how nice it is being just an hour away from all the people we love, instead of 10 hours? Cousin Griffin came over to play a few times. They always have a fun time together!
My sister came down to visit one day with her kids, and she brought along a few more of the kids’ cousins for a play date. It was pretty chaotic with 8 kids – but it was a lot of fun!
My kids were back in school, but some of the cousins came along to pick them up from school. They loved it! It was another beautiful day, so the kids spent most of the day outside. We had Mexican food for dinner and had a great day!
Day Adventures with Bro
Now that Covid isn’t completely taking over our lives, we’ve been venturing out a little more. When Ryan has days off, we try to have day dates, and Brody tags along!
We love walking around campus, and Brody LOVES seeing all of the campus buses!
Brody and I love going to the park…especially when we have the place to ourselves!
I’ve even felt a little more comfortable taking Brody with me on errands now…as long as we go places when it isn’t crowded, which usually it isn’t in the morning. He loves looking through the toy aisles and playing with all the trucks…and getting cake pops!
Brody loved going on a breakfast date with us! He ate like a king!
Outside Fun at Home
We’re still going strong on our 1,000 Hours Outside goal. Here are a few pictures of our time outside this month.
Inside Fun at Home
And of course the kids always find fun things to do when we’re inside too. Kinsie created a food truck, and created a menu of fun little snacks. The boys loved it!
The kids are always playing in the workout room, They love climbing on the gymnastics bar!
Braxton is always reading to Brody. It is so sweet!
We are still doing puzzles! Even Kinsie has been helping a little more. We’ve moved up to 500 piece puzzles!
This boy…he is always climbing. Always getting into something. He is 100% toddler. Pray for me.
We watched my sister’s dog while they were on vacation. She’s an old pup (13 years), so she was very low maintenance. But the kids – especially Brody – loved having her for the week! The weather wasn’t great for the last few weeks of March, so we didn’t get outside or go on as many walks as we wanted to…but Lola enjoyed just being wherever we were. Brody loved following her around and letting her kiss him!
Softball and baseball season have officially started! Kinsie and Brax both had their first practice during the last week of March. Kinsie is back with her team from last year, and Brax is starting his first season of baseball. He is so excited!
And that was our March! We are excited for April…we have Easter coming up, as well as lots of other fun things planned…like another vacation at the end of the month!
And as always, here is our 1 Second Everyday for the month of March.
February is usually one of my least favorite months. We usually have the worst snow storms in February, and even though it is a shorter month, it always just seems like it takes forever to get to March. But this time, it was better…probably because we went on our first real vacation since October 2019! But before I get to that, I’ll discuss the rest of our month.
Spending Time Outside (Before the Snow)
The first day of February was amazing – it was in the 60’s and sunny. Brody and I spent most of the day outside. And when we did go inside to eat lunch, he didn’t want to take off his hat and boots! The funniest part is that is was warm enough that he didn’t even need a hat or boots – but that’s what he wanted!
Once the kids got home from school, we went to the walking trail. Kinsie and Brax brought their bikes and Brody rode in his little car. It was a perfect day to ride on the trail and let Brax practice his new no-training wheels bike skills! There was a huge snow and ice storm coming the next day – so we savored the amazing day. (Also, don’t judge Brody’s crazy hair – he was getting a haircut in a few days!)
As I said, the very next day we were due for ice and then snow. Kinsie’s school went ahead and called in for e-Learning days for the next few days since the ice was supposed to start that afternoon. Kinsie had a class meeting on her iPad, and she brought a friend to class! When she was doing her school work, Brody wanted to do some too!
We didn’t get much snow the first day, just some ice. But the next day, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. It snowed heavily for the entire day. Luckily Ryan was off for a few days, so he got to enjoy being snowed in with us. Once Kinsie was done with her schoolwork, we all bundled up and went outside. The kids loved sledding, catching snowflakes, and playing “arctic animals.” However, it was REALLY cold and windy so we didn’t spend as much time outside as we could have liked.
The next few days were much more bearable. The snow stayed but it was a tad warmer, no wind, and the sun was out…so we ventured outside for several hours each day. We enjoyed LOTS of snow activities including sledding, making a snowman, snow painting, snow volcanoes, following animal tracks and more!
And of course we had to make snow ice cream!
Even when the kids went back to school, Brody and I still tried to venture outside whenever we could. He’s always in a better mood outside!
One day after school, Brax had a sledding playdate with his best friend from school. They had a wonderful time together!
Haircut for Bro
This handsome boy was LONG overdue for a haircut…he hadn’t gotten one since September! But between the Omicron surge, the holidays, and the fact that Brody HATES haircuts, it just wasn’t a priority. But since we were going on vacation soon, I knew we had to get it done. He definitely didn’t enjoy it, but it’s Ryan’s cousin who cuts his hair and she was patient with him and loves him so she didn’t mind – and he looked SO handsome when he was done!
Kinsie is still loving gymnastics, and recently I signed Brax up for a class called Gym Ninjas at the same place and time. He’s had one class so far and he LOVED it! One of his best friends from school is in his class too so he was so happy!
We got to squeeze in some fun Valentine’s Day activities before we went on vacation. We always love making cookies, and we even got to enjoy making some with the kids’ cousin Griffin!
And here are the cookies we made at home!
Brax’s class needed an extra parent volunteer for their Valentine’s party, so his teacher asked me to step in. I love getting to volunteer for his class! I love seeing him in the school environment and with his friends.
And here’s just a picture of my cute boys in their matching Valentine’s shirts!
A tradition we started a few years ago includes a heart for each kid every day starting February 1 until Valentine’s Day with a reason why we love them.
Another tradition includes a scavenger hunt around the house that leads to their Valentines gifts!
We love our sweet valentines!!
We finally went on a real vacation for the first time in over 2 years! We didn’t feel comfortable traveling with our unvaccinated, unmasked infant for a while, but also…life kept us very busy the last 2 years. We finished residency, moved to a new state, started a new job, had a baby, and built a house all during a global pandemic…so vacation wasn’t exactly at the top of our priority list for a while. But now that we’ve settled into our new lives, and 2/3 kids are fully vaccinated, and cases are dropping significantly, we were ready for a vacation. My parents were going to our condo in Siesta Key for 3 weeks, and they invited us to join at the tail end of the trip. I was so excited to get my babies on the beach!
Brody’s First Flight
I really haven’t taken Brody many places in his life, so this trip was a whole new world for him – starting with the airport. He was so nervous with all the people and new things to see. He clung on me like a koala bear all through the airport, including through security. Once we were on the plane, he got more comfortable and acted like his crazy self.
Our flights were later in the evening, and we had to stop in Atlanta for a connecting flight. Brody was a wild man on the flights! He just didn’t want to sit still. Ryan and I took turns throughout the first flight passing him back and forth. Kinsie and Brax were absolute traveling champs, making it much easier on us. The second flight was better because it wasn’t a full flight, so we found an empty row and Brody was able to have his own seat and more room to wiggle. I was hoping he would sleep on this flight since it was well past 10pm at this point…but nope. There was too much to do and see! Overall, he was a great traveler!
We were all SO excited to get to the beach the next morning. It had been at least 3 years since we’d been to the beach, so Kinsie and Brax didn’t remember much about it either and were so excited. Brody wasn’t sure what to think about the sand between his toes at first, but he quickly learned to love it and was a happy little beach baby! He especially loved the ocean…but we had to watch him like a hawk because he kept wanting to run straight into the ocean!
Around lunchtime, my sister’s family flew in also and met us at the condo. The kids were so excited to have their cousins to play with on the beach! They spent the next few days digging holes, building castles, boogie-boarding, and finding sea shells.
The pure joy on this sweet boy’s face while he experienced so many new things made my heart so happy!
Enjoying the sunset with my girl
Big Cat Habitat
After a couple days on the beach, our family needed a little bit of a break (we all had sunburns!), and my dad had told us about a cat sanctuary nearby, so we decided to check it out. It was called the Big Cat Habitat, and it was really neat! Kinsie and Brax both got to feed a bear and a liger (a lion mixed with a tiger).
There was also a fun petting zoo area.
Eventually, Brody conked out in the stroller with his hand in the goldfish bag!
Kinsie and Brax showed off their stickers proving that they fed the animals. It was a fun day!
Other Florida Fun
Our time in Siesta Key also included sitting on the dock waving to the boats passing by, shopping at the village and sharing snacks and smoothies with cousins, swimming at the pool, and lots and lots of crazy cousin fun!
I’ve been dying to take Brody to Disney World since he LOVES Mickey Mouse and all his friends. When we decided to go to Florida, we really wanted to make it happen. We planned on driving to Orlando and spending the last 2 nights of our vacation there, including 1 day at a Disney Park.
Fun at the Resort
It was my sister’s idea to stay at a Disney resort, and I am so glad we did. Not only are the resorts amazing, but you get extra perks at the Disney parks when you stay there. We left Siesta Key Saturday morning and headed to Orlando. We got there around lunch time, and got to spend a few hours by the pool. The kids loved the slides and splash pad area!
After swimming, we went to Disney Springs for a little while, but it was insanely crowded. We went to the big Disney Store and walked around a little, but it was honestly hard to maneuver around so many people and trying to stay distanced. As we walked around, Brody took a little stroller catnap…which made him wired later on at bedtime! But eventually we all went to sleep and prepared for our big Disney day!
A Magical Day at Hollywood Studios
We chose to spend our 1 Disney park day at Hollywood Studios because it has some of the most sought after rides that are often hard to get into unless you get lightning lane passes for them, and you can often only get lightning lane passes for them by staying at a Disney resort. It was also great because it was so close to our resort, so we were able to take the skyliner to the park!
Here’s our whole crew with our neon tie-dye shirts (that I helped make with my Cricut!)
The best part about the entire day for me was Brody’s reactions to Mickey and Minnie. He loved them SO much, just like I knew he would! He could have stayed there with them all day if we let him. All the other kids enjoyed seeing the characters too, but mostly everyone loved watching Brody’s interactions with them!
We also met Olaf, Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Doc McStuffins. Character interactions certainly aren’t what they used to be before Covid, but they were still magical…especially through the eyes of a toddler!
We also had some fun dining reservations throughout our day…including lunch at the Sci-Fi drive-in theater…
And drinks and snacks at Oga’s Cantina. The girls particularly enjoyed the limes that came with the drinks!
Papa and Yaya were in the happy place with all their babies!
We had a blast on all the rides. This was Brax’s first time riding Slinky Dog Dash and he LOVED it! Thanks to lightning lane passes and child swap, Kinsie and Brax were both able to ride it 3 times…and Brody loved watching us all ride the “Doggy!” We also loved Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Toy Story Mania, Aliens Swirling Saucers, and Rise of the Resistance (Ryan’s fave!)
The sweetest cousin crew!
For dinner, we had reservations at Hollywood & Vine, which is a character meal. We were excited for Brody to get to see more characters! Before dinner, he dozed off for a nap, but we woke him up in time to see the characters.
It was truly a wonderful day. It was crowded, but very manageable. Having Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes were SO helpful and let us ride almost everything. My sister did an amazing job planning and booking everything, and now I’m learning everything I can from her so I can do it when we return to Disney in April!
The next morning, we were able to sleep in and have a nice breakfast. The kids enjoyed Mickey waffles with a view! Afterwards, we packed up and headed back to Sarasota for our afternoon flight home.
My parents were on our flight this time, which was nice to help with the kids. It was also a direct flight which was very helpful too. We were all exhausted so it was nice to finally relax on the plane. The kids watched shows on our iPads and Brody actually slept most of the flight! It was a quiet, relaxing way to end our wonderful vacation.
Bookends of Nice Weather
We started February with beautiful weather, and ended it with more beautiful weather. When we got back from Florida, it was freezing, raining, or freezing rain for about a week. So when it finally was warm enough to be outside again, the kids were ready!
It was a great month, and I don’t usually say that about February! We may have to plan more February Florida trips in the future because it definitely helped break up the dreadful winter months. Now we are ready for SPRING!
WHY does January always seem to drag on? Every year, it never fails. January seems like a year long. We had a pretty good month, but I’m ready to move on. I’m over you, January.
We managed to stay pretty busy for a winter month even though we hardly go anywhere. We’ve had lots of home projects, activities, and goals to keep us busy and keep our sanity in tact! Here is a recap of our LONG January…
1,000 Hours Outside Challenge
We heard of this challenge from a friend, and knew it was right up our alley. So as a family, we have a goal to spend 1,000 hours outside this year. Living in Indiana, I knew the winter months would be a challenge, but I also knew that we should be able to make up for it in the other seasons. Overall, we had a really cold January. But if the temperature was around 25 degrees or higher, we would try to spend at least a little time outside here and there.
We’ve had to get creative when it’s cold and the kids didn’t really want to venture outside. So we’ve done a few special walks, like an apple cider walk and a hot cocoa walk!
Brody has been the biggest champ about this so far. He loves being outside, even when it’s cold, raining, you name it. He loves bundling up and playing outside or going on walks with me when the kids are at school.
It took a little while, but we finally got a few days of snow. They were minimal, but the kids were still excited!
When it snowed around an inch or two, we spent the evening after school outside as a family.
The kids have been dying to try out their new sleds and our sledding hill on the side of our house. Even Brody loved it! And like last year, Ryan strapped the sled to his Jeep and pulled the big kids around the open lots.
We spent an entire weekend outside playing in the snow…and got some good hours into our goal!
And of course every time we come inside from snow play, the kids have hot cocoa!
My Newest Hobby (and obsession!)
For Christmas, Ryan got me a Cricut Maker 3. I’ve always wanted one, but never wanted to buy it for myself. After watching hours of videos learning how to use it, I’ve finally got the hang of it and have had so much fun creating projects!
I started out with a few vinyl projects. I made myself a mug, and I personalized this baseball water bottle for my nephew’s birthday.
Next, I learned how to do iron-on projects. I made shirts for everyone in the family!
Our family has been OBSESSED with the new Disney movie, Encanto. Even Brody loves it, and always wants to watch it or listen to the amazing music. He calls it “No No,” from the song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” I made Brody his own “No No” shirt, and made myself a shirt to channel my inner Luisa!
My nephew Briggs, turned 10 this month! He was having a birthday party with some of his buddies, and they were going to play Minute to Win It games and needed blind folds, so I made some for all his friends. We did purple because it is their school colors. I had 2 bandanas left, so I made headbands for my nieces!
I heard about this event from a friend, and knew we needed to check it out. It was called “Freezefest,” and you could walk around and look at really neat ice sculptures. The kids loved it!
100th Day of School
Kinsie and Brax both celebrated their 100th day of school this month. Neither of their schools asked them to make special shirts, but my kids are something extra so they wanted to do that anyway. Kinsie really wanted to wear the shirt she made in Kindergarten with 100 gems on it. I was surprised it still fit her!
Brax was excited for me to make him a shirt with my Cricut. His teacher and his friends loved his shirt!
Brax’s class had a “100 Museum,” where they each brought in 100 items. Last year he brought 100 dinosaurs, and he wanted to bring something different this year, so he brought 100 animals. They also each had a display with a photo of what they would look like at 100 years old, and what they would buy if they had $100. He said he wanted to buy a Dino Lego set!
Cousin Play Date
My parents and my sister’s family came over one Saturday to spend the day with us. There was still some snow on the ground so the kids all brought their snow gear and they played outside for a long time! They had a blast!
Afterwards, they came inside and they all had different snack requests, so we did them all! They had hot cocoa, snow ice cream, Gatorade snow cones (made from real snow), and cookies!
Home Projects and Activities
When it’s too cold to be outside, the kids find fun things to keep them busy inside. One night, Kinsie set up a “Fancy Restaurant” in the living room, with snacks, water, a fire, and soft music!
Kinsie loves playing teacher, and I always told her we would set up a little classroom for her sometime. The problem is, she doesn’t want her little brothers messing it all up (as they definitely would!) So I set up a small classroom area in the guest room closet. She loves it and often plays teacher with her stuffed animals in there when she needs a break from the boys.
Ryan loves doing science experiments with the kids. One of the Christmas gifts we got for the kids was an Owl Pellet dissecting kit. Science is usually more of Ryan’s thing, but I used to dissect owl pellets with my 5th graders so this brought me back to my teaching days! The kids loved it! I mean, what kid doesn’t love dissecting owl puke and finding rodent bones?
This next picture is my life summed up in a picture. Oh the life of a mom of boys!
We are always reading in this family! Brody loves picking books in his room, crawling up onto his chair and reading.
The kids got a 300 piece Encanto puzzle for Christmas. At first, both Kinsie and Brax were helping me with it, but Kinsie quickly got bored and did something else, but Brax and I kept going. We finished it within a day or so, and he loved it and wanted to do another one right away! I ordered a few more puzzles online and we kept going. A few more with 300 pieces, and one with 400 pieces. If you remember, Brax has always been my puzzle boy. He was doing 50 piece puzzles independently as a 2 year old. Now he rediscovered his love for puzzles!
Home Adventures with Bro
With the Omicron variant surging in Indiana this month, Brody and I stayed home as much as possible. The only places I take him are to drop the kids off at school, and grandparents’ houses. Luckily, he doesn’t know any different than to be home all the time. Even so, life at home with Brody is never boring!
Brody is still majorly a mama’s boy, but lately he has really loved his Daddy time. Whenever Ryan is home, Brody is all over him! He loves climbing on him and dancing with him. And it’s a nice reprieve for me to have Brody hanging on Ryan instead of me every once in a while!
That was our January. February is usually a rough month as far as winter blues and bad weather, but we are looking forward to February because we are going on our first real vacation in over 2 years! We are going to Florida for a long President’s Day weekend and we could not be more excited! Now that all of us are vaccinated (except Brody), and Omicron is starting to chill a little, I feel a little better about traveling again. I can’t wait to get my kids on the beach!!
I was hopeful that 2021 would resemble a little more normalcy than 2020, and in some ways, it did. But overall, 2021 was just as weird as 2020. Maybe even weirder. Even so, it was a good year. We tried really hard not to let the pandemic define our lives, but learned to coexist with it, while remaining vigilant to protect ourselves (unfortunately we’re in the minority of people still doing this). We were busy with all things Christmas this month, and we had a wonderful, magical Christmas season! Here is how our December went…
A Special Visitor
The kids were SO excited to finally get an Elf on the Shelf! I always thought I could get super creative with this, but the last few years were too unpredictable and chaotic between residency life in Arkansas and moving to multiple different houses, I didn’t really have the energy to devote to it until this year. But this year…we were ALL in! They named him Rocket and they LOVED finding him in silly places all month!
I made a short video for the kids so they could see Rocket’s adventures all year long. Feel free to take a look!
The kids’ cousin Griffin turned 3 this month, and he had a small family indoor pool party to celebrate. The kids had a BLAST swimming with their cousins…even Brody! He went down the slide and loved splashing around in a pool that was just his size!
My bigs are fully vaccinated! It was more of a mess getting this appointment than I expected. Their original appointments got cancelled from short staffing, so I had to scramble around trying to reschedule as soon as possible. I ended up having to pick up the kids a little early from school and driving an hour to Plainfield. Grandma Bev was kind enough to stay with Brody so I didn’t have to stick him in the car all day long. The kids did fantastic, and we even got Dairy Queen afterwards to celebrate. Now 4/5 family members are fully vaccinated…hopefully Brody will have his turn within a few months!
This December had some surprising and unprecedented warmer weather…and since we’re all in a better mood when we’re outside, we soaked it in. We took walks, played in the driveway and in the woods behind our house, and climbed on the hay bales in the open lots.
One day, Ryan and I even took Brody out for an outdoor lunch date. The restaurant was right across the street from an elementary school, so Brody spent the majority of lunch turned around watching and laughing at the kids at recess!
One weekend, my parents visited for the weekend and brought along my sister’s kids for a cousin sleepover. They always have a blast together playing, watching movies and eating popcorn…but their favorite part was that their Elf on the Shelf, Lucky, came over to spend the night as well! And the elves brought Christmas donuts and coloring sheets!
Bro Being Cray
About 95% of my daily life is watching my youngest child be an absolute crazy nut. He has a unique mind of his own! He loves taking off his clothes and running around in just his diaper. He loves getting into the pantry and stealing snacks, or just carrying them around. And he loves climbing on EVERYTHING. I have countless pictures and videos of him living his crazy life…here are a few from this month.
Loving on our Favorite Doc
As Covid continues and we enter another surge, I need to give a quick shoutout to my favorite healthcare hero. He started his career in a pandemic and even though he gets very weary and exhausted from constantly treating sick Covid patients and fighting misinformation, he still comes home with a smile on his face and the determination to help people. When things get bad, I always remind him to keep his N95 mask on, so he sent me a picture of himself once to show me! The kids are so proud of their dad and always welcome him home with open arms (once he has showered and changed of course!) (Note…the below picture on the right was before a shift. Ryan is extremely careful about disinfecting himself once he gets home!) Ryan also took his oral boards this month, so very soon he will officially be a board-certificated emergency medicine physician! We are so proud of him!!
We love all of the little Christmas traditions that we do all month. A few of them are still on a hiatus with Covid (like visiting Santa), but we still enjoy doing the traditions at home.
Baking Christmas cookies is one of our favorite traditions. They honestly enjoy decorating them more than actually eating them!
We also decorated a gingerbread house!
The kids spent the majority of the month in Christmas pajamas. They even have a few matching pajamas so they would coordinate whenever they could!
Another tradition we continued this year (but I didn’t get any photos of) is our Advent Bible study. We read a Bible story and hang an ornament that goes with the story on a small tree. Kinsie has always loved doing this, and now Brax got really into it this year. Even though we haven’t been to church since Covid started, Brax is learning about the Bible in school since he currently attends a Christian school. He had been learning the same stories at school, so he would get really excited to read them again at home. This warmed my heart that my kids were so excited to read the Bible. I hope they always continue to find so much joy in reading God’s word.
Yaya’s Birthday and Christmas at the Zoo
We hadn’t been to Christmas at the Zoo in years, so this year we celebrated my mom’s birthday together with a quick trip to the zoo, followed by cake and ice cream. The zoo was more crowded than we liked…so we all wore our masks most of the time, and we just pushed Brody in the stroller and kept him as far away from people as possible. But the kids loved seeing some animals and all the lights with their cousins. And we all loved celebrating our sweet mama (and Yaya) on her special day!
Yaya in her happy place…with all 6 of her babies!
Ryan had to work on Christmas day this year, so we had to shift around some of our usual Christmas plans. We started out getting together with just Ryan’s immediate family for dinner and gifts, then we went to Aunt Renata’s house the next morning (Christmas Eve morning). Brody had a little bit of a cold during Christmas and was extra clingy, so I didn’t get as many pictures as I had hoped. We did a quick at-home Covid test on him before seeing all of our family though just to be on the safe side. He definitely didn’t enjoy that, but we felt better seeing everyone with a negative Covid test!
After Renata’s house, we came to my parents’ house for dinner, online church, and gifts.
We miss going to in-person church, especially at Christmas time. So we try to still make it feel like we are there by doing the candlelight at the end of the sermon. The kids enjoyed participating with their battery-operated tea lights and singing along with us!
We had a wonderful dinner, and then we opened gifts. The kids loved all the gifts that they got from all their family members…and we had a LOT to take home after 3 different Christmas celebrations!
We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with both sides of the family. We headed home that evening, the kids spread their reindeer dust in the yard and they were off to bed ready to see what Santa would bring in the morning!
The kids were so excited to see their gifts from Santa! Ryan didn’t work until 11am, so we were able to take our time in the morning opening gifts and enjoying each other.
Again, in the chaos of present-opening and Brody hanging on me, I didn’t get as many pictures as I like to, but the kids loved all their gifts! Braxton had another dinosaur Christmas, Brody got lots of fun Mickey Mouse toys, and Kinsie loved her Legos and Present Pet.
Ryan and I did pretty well for each other this Christmas too! He got me a Cricut (which I’ve wanted for years but would never buy myself one), and I made him a Lego photo of the two of us. This was quite a project that took hours, but it turned out great and he loved it!
Once it was time for Ryan to head to work, the kids and I loaded back up in the car and spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house again so we didn’t have to be alone on Christmas. The rest of the day was pretty chill, which was nice after the busy day before. It was a wonderful Christmas!
The next week, Megan’s family wanted a play date with the kids, so Kinsie and Brax spent the day with them while I took Brody to hang out with my mom and I ran some errands. First, Megan did some crafts with Kinsie while Brax and Griffin played, then they all went to the Children’s Museum. They had such a great time!
I really wanted to take the kids back to the Wonder Lab while they were off school, so we went on New Year’s Eve morning. This is one of the only places I’ll take Brody since they limit capacity, require masks and disinfect often. We had such a fun morning!
New Year’s Eve
Kinsie stayed up until midnight once a few years ago when we spent New Year’s with my sister’s family, but ever since then, we never did anything special, so we always did an early New Year’s celebration and then the kids went to bed before midnight. But this year, the big kids really wanted to stay up until midnight, so we had lots of fun activities planned, and my parents joined us for the festivities. First we had a glow-in-the-dark dance party. This was SO much fun!
After the dance party and putting Brody to bed, we did some games. We started with Harry Potter Pictionary Air, then played Beat That, which was such a fun party game! This kept us busy for a couple hours, and by the time we were done, it was about 11pm.
By that time, we only had an hour left, so we got some snacks and just hung around and relaxed until midnight. And when I say we, I mean the adults. Kinsie and Brax were SLAP HAPPY. They were so wound up…running around the basement screaming and laughing. I truly thought they would be tired…but no. Not even the slightest. I didn’t even see them yawn once.
They stayed up until midnight EASILY. They were dancing around at midnight ready to keep partying! But after our New Year’s celebration of poppers and fizzy drinks, we finally had to get them calmed down and ready for bed. It was such a fun night, and they actually slept in until almost 10am…which is probably a record for them!
It was a great way to end our year! We’re ready for 2022…at least I think we are! I’m ready to get Brody vaccinated and try to go back to normal life. We have some vacations planned for 2022, including flying on a plane for the first time since before Covid, so I’m hoping this Omicron surge comes and goes quickly and without quite as much damage. Even so, we’ve gotten pretty good at still doing fun things safely. And we’ve really realized that it’s more about who we are spending our time with rather than where we are going or what we are doing. And as long as we are together and happy and healthy, then I feel blessed!
Happy New Year! Below is our December 1 Second Everyday, followed by our 1 Second Everyday for the entire year of 2021. Watching these reminds me that my kids really are happy and enjoying life…and that is all that matters to me!
And just like that…November is over and we are now in our last month of 2021. It’s so crazy to me how quickly this year is flying by. November was filled with lots of quality family time, which is always my favorite. Here is a recap of our month…
Kindergarten Field Trip
Braxton’s class went on a field trip to a nearby farm this month, and parents got to come along! It was a cold morning, but I LOVED spending quality time with my boy. He loved petting many of the animals, and most of all…holding a baby lamb!
Fall Walk on Campus
IU’s campus is always gorgeous in the prime of fall. It’s my favorite. So we always try to find a day to take a walk on campus during the peak of the leaves changing. Like usual, it didn’t disappoint!
First Dose for the Bigs!
I’ve been excited for this day for a LONG time…Kinsie and Braxton got their first dose of the Covid vaccine! Even though they are not a big fan of shots, they were ready for this one. They are excited to get closer to normalcy and to help protect their little brother who won’t be able to get his vaccine for a few more months.
My birthday was this month, and I never ask for much except to hang out with family. During the weekend before my actual birthday, we were at my parents’ house to hang out for the day while Ryan went to visit some friends. When he got back, my family surprised me with a cake and small birthday celebration!
We’ve had lots of great cousin time this month! My niece Kerigan had a small birthday party at an art studio, and the kids were ALL about it. They absolutely loved it!
My kids had the week off for Thanksgiving, so we spent a lot of time at my parents’ house. The big kids went to a movie with their cousins, played in the little snowfall we got, and just enjoyed playing together at Papa and Yaya’s house!
Fun at Home
We still spend a lot of time at home during the weekends or after school. This month the kids enjoyed doing Christmas crafts, watching deer out the kitchen window, coloring, dressing up Bob the boxing guy, and just playing together and coming up with creative games.
And of course we get outside as often as we can too! The kids have loved walking down to the woods behind our house and climbing rocks!
My birthday gift from my parents was a night getaway to Brown County while they watched the kids. It was EXACTLY what I needed. Ryan and I got to spend the day in Brown County, just the two of us. We took a hike in the state park, had some amazing meals and snacks, went shopping, did a wine tasting, and just relaxed. We loved the quality time together and definitely need it more often!
Thanksgiving is always a busy, but wonderful day for us. We started the day at Ryan’s parents’ lake house for a delicious Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan’s side of the family. The kids loved playing with their cousin Griffin, and Nate’s dog, Alfie!
Later in the afternoon, we made our way to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family. The kids always have a blast at the cousin table, and Brody even joined them! It was a busy, chaotic day, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Days like this make us realize how blessed we really are to not have just one, but TWO wonderful families that we can spend the holidays with.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…
I love Christmas time. When we lived in Arkansas, I always decorated early because we usually spent the week of Christmas in Indiana with our families, so I wanted to be able to enjoy our Christmas decorations longer. Now I don’t really have that excuse, I just decorate early because I love it! I was especially excited to decorate my new house for Christmas for the first time! Last year, we didn’t have much space, and most of our Christmas stuff was in storage, so we were all excited to get it ALL out this year and have an abundance of space to put it all. Brody loves all the Christmas lights, and every time he passes the tree, he points and says “Ooooh!”
Brody is 18 Months!
Our crazy little Covid baby is 18 months old! It’s hard to believe that his entire life has been in a pandemic, and he has no idea! He is still the happiest, craziest, most active little dude. He still has a severe case of stranger danger, but he knows who is in his circle and he welcomes them with open arms!
Some fun facts about our Bro at 1.5 years…
He LOVES to talk. He knows everyone’s name in his family, and he knows a lot of words. He also babbles on and on for minutes at a time as if he’s having a full conversation with us! My favorite words that he says (that we can understand), are banana (nana), shoes, (oosh), and cookie.
He loves to color and explore art. But he’s still learning that we only color on paper!
He has his first official “lovey,” a stuffed animal Pluto that he found in Brax’s old stuffed animals. He loves it so much! He carries it everywhere, sleeps with it, and calls it “Woof Woof.”
He LOVES snacks. Just like his brother. He often does not want anything to do with his meals, but he wants snacks all day long. And he can open the pantry by himself, so he is constantly getting in the pantry and gathering up the snacks he wants.
His favorite foods are cottage cheese, cheese sticks, bananas, and veggie straws.
He still loves being outside, or leaving the house in any way. He gets SO excited at the chance to play outside, or put on his shoes to go somewhere…even if it’s just taking his brother and sister to school.
He loves to dance…especially to the songs from any Mickey Mouse show!
He loves books…and lucky for him, there are now 4 people in his family that are able to read to him.
He loves Mickey Mouse and Baby Shark.
He hates having his picture taken…but I love taking his picture, so I’ve had to get creative to get any decent pictures of him! This often involves me chasing him around while singing songs and making a fool of myself just to make him laugh!
He doesn’t always like to wear clothes. He will often remove his own shirt or pants and run around almost naked!
He is absolutely wild and exhausting, but he is also hilarious and so stinking cute! We are all still so obsessed with him in every way!
As I was writing this blog post, I looked back at my old blog posts from when Kinsie and Braxton turned 18 months. Braxton and Brody are SO much alike! Brax went through some really difficult toddler phases, but now he is an absolute gem so I’d be ok if I raise another one just like him!
And that was our November. Overall, we didn’t do much other than the everyday hustle and bustle. But we love our time at home or at my or Ryan’s parents’ houses just spending time as a family. That is what fills our buckets. We are looking forward to the Christmas season and all the joy and magic it brings!
Enjoy our November 1SE…its a whole lot of Brody squeals and dancing!
October seemed to FLY by. I felt like we were always busy whether it was with school or extra curricular activities, fall traditions, or taking care of a sick toddler. In fact, I can’t believe that we are now in November, and that 2021 is almost over. Life is crazy. Anyway, here is a recap of our busy October.
Fall Break in the Smoky Mountains
Our fall break trip was…an adventure to say the least. My kids only had a long weekend off for fall break, but we hadn’t been anywhere in so long that we decided to do a weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Ryan’s parents, his sister Megan and her son Griffin. The first day we got there, we just did a few things while we waited for our condo to be ready. We went to Bass Pro Shop and the kids loved seeing the fish and riding on the elevator. Then we got ice cream at a little ice cream shop. Brody doesn’t get out much so he loved running around and exploring new places, and luckily the places we went weren’t too crowded with unmasked people.
The next morning we got up to get ready for our first day of hiking. However…Brody woke up with a 103 degree fever. He didn’t really have any other symptoms other than being tired and feeling crummy from his fever. We did a rapid Covid test just to make sure it wasn’t Covid, mainly since we were staying in a condo with the rest of Ryan’s family, and it was negative. Grandma Bev decided to be the sacrificial lamb that day and stay at the condo with Brody while the rest of us still went out to do stuff. Of course it was hard to enjoy myself while part of my heart was sick back at the condo, but I did my best to enjoy the day with Ryan and the big kids.
We first explored some old cabins, and the kids mainly loved just climbing rocks and seeing wild turkey. They loved getting time with their cousin Griffin.
Then we went on a hike to a waterfall. Unfortunately, it rained on us pretty much the entire hike! We tried to still enjoy it, but it definitely made the hike slippery and my clumsy kids slipped into the mud several times. The waterfall was really neat and the kids liked finding snails and lizards along the way.
The next day, Brody still didn’t feel well. Ryan decided to stay with him that day (he wouldn’t let me stay since I’m with him all the time). We went to Cade’s Cove, and we had to drive on back winding roads, which made Brax car sick. Luckily I always keep a grocery bag in my glove compartment because Kinsie used to get car sick randomly on our long drives from Arkansas. I also have a lot of personal experience with car sickness, so I was able to help Brax feel better pretty quickly. At Cade’s Cove, you drive along a path and there are places to stop along the way to see different sights, such as old churches and schoolhouses. However, it was SO crowded, so we sat in the car for a LONG time waiting to get anywhere. We took a few opportunities where we were stopped in the car line to get out and take pictures with the pretty scenery. We also saw a bear crossing the street from our car window (this was the highlight for Brax!), and the kids loved playing the old piano in the church and walking across a swinging bridge. It’s the little things they enjoy the most!
Later that evening we went putt-putting. Brody was still feeling pretty bad, so Bev held him and kept him occupied while Ryan and I played putt-putt with the kids, They enjoyed their first time playing!
On the second day when Ryan stayed at the condo with Brody, he started to notice a rash on his hands and feet and he knew immediately that it was Hand Foot Mouth Disease. Then we realized that Brax had it earlier in the week and we didn’t even know it at the time. He had a fever a few days before and he stayed home from school for a day because of it, then suddenly he was fine. He did end up getting a small sore on his mouth and I wondered if he had HFM but he didn’t have sores or rashes anywhere else, so I didn’t think that could be it…but once Brody showed his symptoms, we knew that’s what it had to have been. Brax is a little older so his case was super mild, but Brody wasn’t so lucky. He was so miserable and had a hard time eating or drinking anything because it hurt the sores in his mouth. I felt so bad that on Brody’s first real trip anywhere, he was sick the whole time and didn’t really get to do anything. There isn’t much you can do for HFM…just alternate Tylenol and Motrin to help their fever and pain. Other than that we did popsicles, warm baths, and just snuggled with him. We moved some seats around for the drive home so I could sit next to Brody for the 6 hour drive. It was a tough trip because he was tired and uncomfortable, but I tried to keep him busy and happy. Once we got home on Sunday evening, he started to perk up a little and he slowly got better throughout the rest of that week. He still had pretty bad sores for a little over a week, but luckily they didn’t seem to bother him anymore after a while.
It definitely was not how I envisioned our fall break trip going, and I was bummed that my Brody felt so bad the entire time, but we still had some fun and made some memories. Hopefully his next trip will go better!
IU Football Season
We have really enjoyed going to IU Football games this year! Even though our team isn’t as good as we thought, it’s been a fun environment and I’ve had some nice kid breaks here and there (thanks to aunts and grandmas for watching my kids while we go to games!) One weekend, some friends of ours from high school came to town for the day. We loved spending the day with them – going to lunch, walking around campus, and going to the game with them.
My parents still came to the game also and were just a few rows lower than us. It ended up raining the whole game – and luckily my mom is always prepared and had ponchos ready for us!
Missing our Koda Bear
It was a hard first full month without our sweet pup. The first few weeks were especially hard – little things that were a part of our regular everyday routine were so different now without him. But we have found ways to honor his memory and keep him a part of our family always.
Kinsie painted this picture at school. Art has always been therapy for her!
I ordered these special pillows for the big kids. They LOVE them and sleep with them every night. I didn’t think Brody would really be interested in one, but he is also obsessed! He carries it around and hugs it constantly. So I ended up ordering one for him too!
One week after we lost Koda, there was a beautiful rainbow over our house. Our sweet neighbor took this picture and sent it to me saying “I think Koda is thinking about you all!” I think this was a love note from our pup!
Kinsie is loving gymnastics! She is improving so much and is having a great time. She finished her first term and just started her second term. She even got her first “gold medal” and t-shirt!
Fun in Kindergarten
Brax has had lots of fun activities going on in Kindergarten lately, some of which I’ve even been able to join!
The classes all get together once a month for Chapel – where they sing songs and learn a Bible story. This month was the first time since before Covid that they started letting parents come join for Chapel. Even though it was only 30 minutes, Brax was so happy I came. He needed some one-on-one mama time, and I needed it too!
The class also got to go on a hayride this month.
And clean out a pumpkin to learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin…
And they had a Pumpkin Party! I volunteered to help at this party, and I loved every moment of it! Not only did I love getting to spend some time with my boy, but I also loved getting to know his sweet class!
Going Places with Brody
Once Brody started feeling better after having HFM (and I knew he wasn’t contagious anymore), I tried to make up for some of the fun he didn’t get to have by taking him to the park. He loved it so much!
Since he loved the park so much, and we had a few beautiful fall weeks, I took any nice day to take him either on a walk on the trail or to another park. He loves going on walks with me – and he seems to love the changing leaves like me too!
We tried another park on another day and he loved it even more than the first! He found a slide that he can climb up and slide down on his own…he probably did it 50 times! This park also has a fun musical section that he loves too!
Since he loved getting out of the house so much, I tried to do something with him almost every day while the kids were at school. When it was cold and rainy, I decided to take him to the nearby mall. It was early, so I knew it wouldn’t be crowded – and our county has a mask mandate for indoor public places, so even if we saw people, most of them would be masked. Ryan joined us and we just let him walk around and explore. We took him into Target for a little while too and let him play with some of the toys (I used to do this with Brax regularly in Arkansas – pre-Covid). He loved sitting in the cart and pushing all the buttons on toys! I brought him with me to Kohl’s another day and let him do the same thing. It was nice to get out of the house with him and give him something to entertain him! I know most people probably complain about the county mask mandate, but I am SO grateful for it so I can start feeling comfortable taking him places.
Other Fun with Brody
This boy is a trip. He keeps me busy and entertained ALL day – and leaves me completely exhausted at the end of each day! He has a mind of his own and just does what he wants. When he wants to take a bath, he literally climbs right in on his own. When he wants a snack, he gets into the pantry and helps himself. He recently decided he’s a big boy and doesn’t want to use a high chair anymore, so we switched him to a booster seat and he’s so happy eating at the table like the big kids!
Fun at Home
As always, we are home a lot and always find stuff to do. The big kids have really been into Chess lately, so they play that with the actual board, or on the iPad. Whenever it’s nice out, we are outside. Brody wants to be outside ALL the time – even when it’s raining. He knows how to open doors now so we often have to lock the door or else he’ll try to go outside! Luckily our alarm system beeps if any door is opened, so if he’s trying to make an escape, we’ll hear it! He loves his swing, finding caterpillars, and playing with all the outdoor toys. Our kids also find fun in random items – like boxes and giving each other piggyback rides!
We love going to the pumpkin patch! It’s one of our favorite fall traditions. We chose a beautiful Sunday morning to go this year, and we all had a great time.
The big kids loved the tractor ride (Brody was scared of it!)
When Brax put his face in the opening for this picture, Brody ran over to him to hug his face!
All the kids loved the animals!
They enjoyed picking out their pumpkins! Brody just ran around tripping over pumpkin vines and trying to pick up every pumpkin. Then he loved taking a ride in the wagon!
It was such a great family morning, and we brought some good pumpkins home with us!
Kolly’s Birthday Party
One weekend, my niece Kolly had her 5th birthday party. It was a Snow White theme, and she even came for a visit! The girls all loved hearing her talk and sing, and they even got their faces painted. Brax and Brody didn’t really understand what was going on, but they had fun with their cousins anyway! We spent the rest of the day at my sister’s house and the kids all had a great time together.
Painting and Carving Pumpkins
We had pumpkins of all sizes – some we painted, some we carved. No matter what we did, the kids loved every minute of it.
Brody loved his first real painting experience. He was so proud of his painted pumpkin!
Between busy weekends and Ryan’s work schedule, we didn’t get to carve our pumpkins until the day before Halloween…but we still got it done! Kinsie did her Harry Potter pumpkin almost completely on her own…I only had to help her with a few smaller areas. We were very impressed! Brax did a lot of his Jurassic Park pumpkin on his own, but still needed a little help!
Everyone working hard…especially Brody 🙂
Our final products – from left to right- Venom (Ryan), Jurassic Park (Brax), Harry Potter (Kinsie), and the Hogwarts castle (me)
Brody LOVED seeing the pumpkins all lit up!
One weekend, we made our annual Halloween cookies, and we also made some Rice Krispie Frankensteins! Ryan even joined in on the fun and made a creepy eyeball and a Scream ghost. I started the Harry Potter cookie tradition a few years back, and now the kids always do some too, so now the majority of our cookies are decorated to look like Harry Potter!
Our neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of kids, or even a lot of houses, so we decided to spend Halloween day with my sister’s family and trick-or-treat in their neighborhood. The kids played all day, we helped them carve their pumpkins, and we had chili and hot dogs for dinner. Brody had so much fun with his cousins, and even sat at the cousin table!
The kids were PUMPED when it was time to put on their costumes. My dream finally came true and my kids were all Harry Potter characters! Kinsie was a Hufflepuff student, Brax was Harry Potter, and Brody was Hedwig the owl. Brody hates wearing hats, so I had to get creative with his costume!
We loved getting to spend the day with my family!
Brody loved his first real trick-or-treating experience. I had to take him up to the houses and show him what to do, but once he got the hang of it, he was ALL about it! It was such a fun evening!
We had a great month of fall fun. We made lots of new memories and had lots of fun with family. I honestly can’t believe this year is coming to a close. I am SO excited that my big kids will be fully vaccinated by the end of 2021…and Brody will be shortly after that! We have learned to live with this pandemic while still being safe, but goodness…I’m ready for some full-on normalcy!