Thankful in November

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! 

Brax-fieldtrip

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! 

CampusWalk

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. 

Vaccines

Birthday Celebration

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! 

Birthday

Cousin Fun

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!

Keriganparty

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!

Cousinfun

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. 

Home-inside

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!

Home-outside

Brown County

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!

BrownCounty

Thanksgiving

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! 

Thanksgiving-cousins2

DSC_0015

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.

Thanksgiving-cousins

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!”

Christmastree

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!

Brody18months

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!

Bro18Months-3

  • 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.”

IMG_2812

  • 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.

Bro18Months-2

  • 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!

Bro-18Months-4

  • 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!

DSC_0202

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!

Fall Fun in October

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. 

Gatlinburg-Day1

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.

Gatlinburg-firsthike1

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.

Gatlinburg-firsthike2

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!

Gatlinburg-day2-3Gatlinburg-day2-1

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!

Gatlinburg-puttputt

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.

Gatlinburg-Brosick

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. 

IU-friends

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!

IUgames 

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!

Koda picture

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!

Koda pillows

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!

Koda sunset

Kids Activities

Kinsie Gymnastics

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!

Kins Gymnastics

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!

SchoolBrax-chapel

 

The class also got to go on a hayride this month.

SchoolBrax-hayride

And clean out a pumpkin to learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin…

SchoolBrax-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!

SchoolBrax-Party

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! 

Places-Park1

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!

Places-walk

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!

Places-Park2

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.

Places-shop

 

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! 

BrodyFun

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!

Homefun

Pumpkin Patch

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!) 

Patch-5

When Brax put his face in the opening for this picture, Brody ran over to him to hug his face!

Patch-7

All the kids loved the animals! 

Patch-6

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!

Patch-8Patch-4

Patch-1Patch-2Patch-3

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.

Kollyparty

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.

Paint-1

Brody loved his first real painting experience. He was so proud of his painted pumpkin!

Paint-2IMG_2150 copy

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!

Carving-4

Everyone working hard…especially Brody 🙂

Carving-1

Our final products – from left to right- Venom (Ryan), Jurassic Park (Brax), Harry Potter (Kinsie), and the Hogwarts castle (me)

Carving-3

Brody LOVED seeing the pumpkins all lit up! 

Carving-2

Halloween Treats

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!

Treats-1Treats-2

Halloween Day

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!

Halloween-dinner

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!

Halloween-2Halloween-4Halloween-1

We loved getting to spend the day with my family! 

Halloween-3

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!

Halloween-5

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!

Enjoy our October I Second Everyday!

Our Last Month with our Koda Bear

September seemed to fly by, until the very end of the month. Kinsie celebrated her 8th birthday, so that was a positive, but it was also a tough month because we had to say goodbye to our loyal companion, Koda. He got to spend his last days with a lot of family time, which was his absolute favorite thing. 

Here is how the rest of our month went.

Cousin Sleepovers

Out of the 4 weekends in September, we had sleepovers for 3 of them! My sister’s kids were supposed to come over for a sleepover at the end of August, but it didn’t work out so we had to switch it to Labor Day weekend. The whole family (my parents and my sister’s whole family) ended up coming for the weekend. The kids had a blast together. We watched movies, explored campus, and had a family baseball game.

Cousins-girlsCousins-campus

The next two weekends, the whole family came again because IU Football season started and we have season tickets. One of the weekends was also my sister’s birthday, so we got to celebrate with her. The fam got to tag along to watch Brax play soccer as well!

Cousins-soccer

The kids LOVED their weekends with their cousins. They made lots of forts, played outside a lot, and played lots of games. They all get along so well and had a great time together!

Cousins-bookends

Another Quarantine

This time, Brax’s entire class was quarantined after one of his classmates tested positive. Luckily, the whole class wears masks, but because they eat lunch in the classroom, they thought the safest decision was to have the whole class quarantine for a week. He was bummed, but he was at least glad that it was his whole class, so he wasn’t missing out on anything. Luckily nobody else in the class got sick, so again – masks work! He was a champ doing his schoolwork at home, and he enjoyed the extra Brody time!

Brax Quarantine-1

Brax Quarantine-2

Football Season

Ryan and I bought season tickets to IU Football this year with my parents. When we were in college, IU Football was never good, so we were excited to go to games where we were actually a decent team! To be honest, I was nervous going to an event like this when we’ve been so careful throughout this entire pandemic. But IU requires their students to be vaccinated, and the majority of the crowd most likely is as well. We’ve still been wearing masks during the games just to be extra careful – mainly to protect our kids. But it was nice to be out and about again – it had been way too long!

IUGameIUGame2

Fun at School

Braxton has been rocking Kindergarten. He has made SO much progress so far both academically and in maturity. He makes friends very easily and loves all the fun activities they do in school. This month, he was the “Wise Owl of the Week,” where he got to bring in pictures and share information about himself with the class. He also got to go on a field trip to the fire station!

Brax-school-1

Brax-school-2Brax-school3

Life at Home with Bro

This kid keeps me busy! He gets into everything all the time! He is hilarious and so much fun though! We try to go on walks when the weather is nice, but other than that, we hang at home. By nap time, I’m worn out and sometimes need a short nap myself to charge back up for the afternoon. I’m sure glad I have this little ball of sunshine to fill my days!

Brody

Enjoying the Outdoors

Fall weather is my FAVORITE. We got small glimpses of lovely fall weather this month. We also had some extremely hot days. But when it was decent out, we did lots of chalk, baseball throwing, car riding, bubbles, frog hunting and trail walks.

Outside

Kinsie turned 8!

Our beautiful girl turned EIGHT this month! We started our day with birthday donuts. She enjoyed her day at school, where her class made her a birthday book. She also passed out Harry Potter pencils and mini erasers, which she thought was the greatest thing ever! 

Birthday-donutsBirthday-book

After school, she opened her presents. She loved her Lego set, pop-its, and the animation studio we got her, but she especially loved the new Nugget she got in the mail from Grandma Bev and Papa Tim! The kids already have one, but Kinsie always wants to build her own forts with it, and the boys always destroy it because they want to climb and be rough. So now she has her own, but she of course shares with her brothers so they can make extra cool formations!

Birthday-giftsNewNugget

After she opened her presents, we went on a walk around campus. The weekend before Kinsie’s birthday was when Koda started not acting like himself. He wasn’t eating and he was more tired than usual, so we knew something was up. We wanted him to be with us, so we took him on our walk too. He moved slowly, but he enjoyed being with us.

Birthday-campus

After our walk, we got Mother Bear’s Pizza and some ice cream to celebrate our girl! She had a great day!

Birthday-icecream

Zoo Date

The Saturday after her birthday, Kinsie’s request was to have a Zoo Day at the Indianapolis Zoo, and then a swim party at my parents’ house afterwards. We kept it small – just our immediate families. We spent the earlier part of the day at the zoo, and all of their cousins eventually met us there. The kids were in heaven! 

Birthday-zoo

We had to get a picture of the Mexican cousins with the Dia de los Muertos display!

Zoo-diadelos

The kids all had SO much fun together. By the early afternoon, it was getting pretty crowded and we saw everything we wanted to see, so we headed back to my parents’ house for Part 2 of Kinsie’s Birthday Celebration.

Zoo-cousins

Harry Potter Party

My girl has been obsessed with Harry Potter lately – not that I can blame her! She wanted to have a Harry Potter themed swimming party. Since it was just immediate family, and we had a lot going on with Koda the previous weeks, we didn’t go all out like I would have liked, but we still made it cute and fun with some fun decorations and snacks.

BirthdayParty-2BirthdayParty-1

The weather was great – in the low 70s. Probably not quite warm enough for swimming, but the kids didn’t care. They kept warm in the heated pool and had a blast.

Party-swimParty-propsParty-Bro

After swimming, we had Subway for dinner (Kinsie’s favorite), ice cream cake and cookies, and then she opened her presents. She had a wonderful day!

Party-cakeParty-family

We knew our sweet Koda was declining quickly, and we brought him along for the trip. We are so glad we did because he got to spend his last weekend with all of his favorite people. Both of our families got to give him some love and say goodbye.

Our Koda Bear

At the end of the month, we had to say goodbye to our sweet, loyal, almost 13 year old pup, Koda. We started losing him the weekend before Kinsie’s birthday and he declined pretty quickly. We think he had something going on with his intestines – whether it was cancer or something similar. The last week was so hard seeing him so miserable. He wasn’t eating anything and he was so weak. Ryan and I had to make the difficult decision to put him down. We stayed right by his side throughout the process, hugging him and loving on him while he left this world.

Ryan got Koda as a puppy before we were even married, so he has been through many different seasons of life with us. He lived in 6 different houses with us and helped us welcome 3 children into our family. He was such a good, loyal dog. He was so laid back and easy going, but also extremely protective of us. I always felt safer with Koda around. He was happy anywhere or doing anything as long as he was near us. As he got older, he got overwhelmed by the high level of noise and chaos in our home with our 3 crazy kids – but he always remained right in the center of it because he simply wanted to be with us. We have so many wonderful memories with him that we will carry in our hearts forever.

Koda-1Koda-3

It definitely is not the same at our house now that he’s gone. Little every day things are so different now. Pets are so interwoven into our everyday lives and you don’t fully realize it until they are gone. I I will miss not having to sweep the crumbs under Brody’s high chair because Koda would lick them up. I will miss hearing his claws tapping around on the floor when he got excited and chased his tail. I will even miss his hair tufts that I found everywhere in the house and had to sweep up constantly. But mostly I will miss his comforting presence and sweet companionship. We will love you forever, Koda bear!

Koda-2

Overall, we had a great month. We were devastated to lose our Koda, but we are relieved that he is no longer in pain. He’s probably running around heaven chasing rabbits with Addie!

We are ready for October, one of our favorite months. We love all of our fall traditions so we are excited to do them in our new house.

Enjoy our September 1 Second Everyday!

Another Covid-Style School Year

We were genuinely enjoying our warm, summer days…until August. August was HOT. It felt like we were back in Arkansas. It was hard to be outside at all…even early in the morning. August was also a rough month Covid-wise. The big kids started school in middle of this scary Delta surge, Ryan is back to wearing his N95 mask for his entire shift, and I’m back to treating Brody like Rapunzel and holding him captive inside the safety of our home. Between the potential of Delta invading my vulnerable unvaccinated kids, and it being hotter than Hades outside, we have spent a whole lot of time at home…which luckily, we LOVE our home. But for a busy, active toddler, we’ve become a bit stir crazy again!

Here is how our August went…

Days at the Playground

I really should rephrase this “Day at the Playground…” singular. We were only able to go once this month because it was too darn hot. The weekend before school started the weather was fantastic, so we spent a lot of it outside. After that, no way. But I’m glad we took advantage of that early August day and had a family day at the park. Brody LOVED it. He climbed everywhere on his own and dove down the slide head first over and over!

Playground

Walk by the Waterfall

After we played on the playground, we took a walk back by our favorite waterfall! The kids always have fun looking for critters and throwing rocks.

Waterfall-2Waterfall-3Waterfall-1 copy

Kinsie starts 2nd grade!

Kinsie couldn’t wait to start school! She was excited to meet her teacher and see her friends again. She has absolutely loved her first few weeks. She even wants to play school at home all the time and do the activities with Brax that she does at school.

Kinsie-firstday1

Kinsie was also especially excited to get to ride the bus. In Kindergarten, she went to a charter school and they didn’t have buses. And last year, we lived out of her school boundaries for most of the school year so we had to drive her. So now she finally got to ride the bus. She has been enjoying it, even though there is a bus driver shortage and many of the bus drivers have to do multiple routes, causing her bus to be late most days. The boys have enjoyed taking trips to the bus stop too!

Kinsie-firstday2Kinsie-firstday3

Braxton starts Kindergarten!

Brax has loved starting Kindergarten this month! He is doing the half day program at the church that he did Pre-K last year. Since he is a May birthday, we’re doing Kindergarten this way so we can help make the best choice for him on whether to send him on to 1st grade at Kinsie’s school next year, or repeat Kindergarten at Kinsie’s school next year. Either way, he is excited to get to ride the bus with her next year!

He enjoyed his Kindergarten orientation, and getting to see some old friends from Pre-K, and meeting new friends!

Brax-firstday-orientation

Last year, he cried the first few days of school when we dropped him off. Not this year! He is so excited to go to school every day! He loves his teacher, and he loves getting to eat lunch at school every day this year.

Brax-firstday1Brax-firstday2

I’ve been working on sight words with him for about a year now, and he has made a lot of progress, but he has never been quite as enthusiastic about learning as Kinsie was. Just in the last few weeks though, it has really clicked for him! He is reading independently now, and becoming more confident! His teacher said he is one of the stronger readers in his class! We are so proud of him!

IMG_1024

Adventures at Home with Brody

Since the big kids are in school now most of the day, Brody isn’t always sure what to do without them. Sometimes he gets bored with me, but most of the time he enjoys having all the toys to himself!

Bro_at_home

On another note, this kid is nuts. He climbs into and onto everything. He often runs off when I’m not paying attention for a minute, and I find him in my shower or in the tupperware cabinet! I give him full credit as to why I’m so exhausted every night!

CrazyBro

Soccer Saturdays

Brax was really excited to do soccer again after last season. He got to move up to U6, which includes 30 minutes of coach-led activities, and 30 minutes of scrimmage. He absolutely LOVES it, and he is really good! He is very aggressive and a great team player!

Brax-soccer2Brax-soccer4

Kinsie and Brody enjoy being in Brax’s fan club. Kinsie always packs snacks and toys to entertain Brody during soccer. She’s the best big sis!

Brax-soccer3Brax-soccer1

Gymnastics

Kinsie has been wanting to do gymnastics ever since she stopped when Covid hit last year. I wasn’t comfortable with her doing it for a long time since it’s indoors. However, I found a place here in town that people really recommend, and has good Covid protocols in place, so I finally gave her the green light. She has been loving it!

IMG_1055

Lake Day

Ryan worked a lot of weekends this month, so when he finally had a weekend day off, we decided to spend it at the lake. We enjoyed fishing, a boat ride, swimming, and playing with Uncle Nate’s new pup, Alfie.

LakeDay

Pool Day

One weekend, Ryan worked multiple 12 hour night shifts in a row. My aunt and cousins and their kids came to town to swim at my parents’, so my sister’s family and me and the kids came to hang out as well. The kids always love cousin swim time, and they especially loved my aunt’s famous dirt and worms treat!

PoolDay

Trail Walks

Brax started school a week after Kinsie, so when he was still on summer vacation, we took a few walks around the trails. It’s always nice to get outside and see some nature, and watch these precious brothers enjoy each other’s company.

TrailWalks

Quarantined

While Kinsie really has enjoyed riding the bus, it did bring her first (and HOPEFULLY last) quarantine. About 2 weeks into school, she was identified as a close contact from the bus. There were apparently multiple positive cases on the bus. Luckily, all the kids wear their masks on the bus and all day at school, which I truly think kept her healthy. However, the school protocol is that if you’re a close contact, you have to quarantine. The contact tracing process takes a while, so we didn’t find out until about a week after her exposure. This could have been bad if she would have been infected, but luckily she wasn’t, and she only had to miss a few days of school. We didn’t even get her tested because she had no symptoms and it wouldn’t have changed her quarantine time.

She had to do some of her schoolwork at home during this time, which she has never been a fan of. She was really bummed, but we had to remind her that it could be a lot worse, and if she had gotten sick, she would have had to miss a lot more school.

Quarantine-1

She was especially sad to miss Art class and choice time, so I let her paint and do as much art as she wanted. This has always been her stress relief anyway!

Quarantine-2

I’m not going to get too much into the whole thing about kids wearing or not wearing masks at school, because it’s been a MAJOR debate around the country. You probably already know what side of the debate I’m on since I’ve been pro-science since day one. However, I will say…it really bothers me when people don’t worry about kids getting Covid, brushing it off as not a big deal because they won’t die from it, or even that most kids have mild cases. While that is true for most kids (not all), people need to remember the mental impact that getting Covid, or even just having an exposure, has on these kids. Kinsie only had to miss 3 days of school, and she was devastated. She laid her head in my lap and cried because she couldn’t be at school. She didn’t understand why she was being punished, when she has been SO careful. She always wears her mask, even at recess. She washes her hands so much that they get raw. She has understood the seriousness of this virus from day one and understood the need to protect other people. Yet, with some bad luck, she was still exposed. Luckily she didn’t get sick. Do you know why she didn’t get sick? Because the kids were wearing their masks! But anyway, please consider these poor kids having to miss school from getting sick or being close contacts before you brush it off as not a big deal. Even missing school for a few days is a big deal to them. And many kids aren’t as lucky as Kinsie was. MANY children are being hospitalized with Covid around the country. Also, if you haven’t already, please get vaccinated! That is the best way to protect these precious, innocent, vulnerable kids. And you better believe the SECOND that a vaccine becomes available for my kids, I will be signing them up!

We are really looking forward to September, and fall in general. Summer has been great, but we’re ready for some cooler temps and fall traditions. We are also looking forward to getting closer to the vaccine being available for my big kids (Brody may have to wait until early 2022), and for Ryan to soon get his booster shot. We’re hoping both of those things happen in the next month or two! In the meantime, my kids are staying masked up, Ryan has been shaving daily again to make sure his N95 fits his face, and I’ll be staying home with Brody. We are praying that we can all stay healthy through this Delta surge, while still enjoying our favorite season!

Enjoy our August 1 Second Everyday video!

Soakin’ Up Summer

We soaked up ALL the summer we could this month. Kinsie starts school the first week of August, and Braxton starts the week after that, so we tried to do all the summer-y things we could. It was a fun, busy month with lots of pool time, cousin fun, and family adventures. Here is how our July went…

 

4th of July

Ryan unfortunately worked most of 4th of July weekend, so the kids and I spent our time with family. The Saturday before, we went to the lake for the annual lake fireworks. The big kids got to enjoy the fireworks lakeside with their cousins, and I took Brody back to my parents’ house to go to bed. He isn’t quite old enough to be able to stay up that late, or enjoy the fireworks anyway. Maybe next year!

July4th-1July4th-2

The next day, we spent the day at the pool. My sister’s family came and had some of their friends over as well, so the kids had lots of kids their own age to play with. They had SO much fun swimming, lighting sparklers, watching fireworks and catching lightning bugs. And Brody enjoyed corn on the cob, and his mama!

July4th-5July4th-6July4th-4July4th-3

When Ryan finally had an evening off, he bought a home firework kit to do with the kids. He used to do fireworks all the time growing up, and he hasn’t been able to do any the last few years because he’s almost always working, so he enjoyed being a pyromaniac once again, but this time with his kids!

July4th-7

Park Day

The kids LOVED this park last year…they called it the “Ninja Warrior Park.” They had been asking when we could go back, so we finally got a chance to make a trip there on a day that wasn’t scorching hot. Brody LOVES to climb, so we laced up his tennis shoes on him and let him join in on the fun. He absolutely loved it!

Switchyard-3Switchyard-1Switchyard-4Switchyard-5Switchyard-2

A Much Needed Trip

Ryan and I haven’t been on a trip just the two of us since residency interviews…that was almost 5 years ago! It has been a really long few years, and I really needed a break. I love my kids and I love getting to stay home with them, but I haven’t been away from my little mama’s boy for more than a hour or two at a time in his entire life. He stopped nursing in June, so I finally felt somewhat free and needed a short getaway. Ryan had about a week off early in the month, so we booked a last minute trip to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. We booked a cabin for ourselves and had Ryan’s parents watch the kids. It was EXACTLY what I needed!

On our first full day, we did a 14 mile hike – basically hiking through the entire state park. There were stops along the way – so we would stop and enjoy the the scenery whenever we could. We packed a lunch and ate on the trail. Throughout most of the day, we didn’t come in contact with many people…just in the sight-seeing areas there were more people. It was very peaceful to just be surrounded by nature. 

HHTrip-1

We spent a morning canoeing on the river.

HHTrip-3

We loved exploring together. So many neat caves, rock formations, creeks and waterfalls!

HHTrip-4HHTrip-5

We especially loved Ash Cave and all the random waterfalls throughout the park. The best/weirdest part of the trip was just running on our own time. Normally our day is dictated by nap time, snacks, etc. And it takes at least an hour to get ready to go anywhere – I usually have to pack enough sunscreen, bug spray, extra clothes, snacks, diapers, etc. and make sure everyone is ready for the day. But it was so nice just to worry about us two only for a few days. It was so nice to spend some uninterrupted time with my Ry!

HHTrip-2

Meanwhile, the kids were in good hands…

I was a little nervous on how Brody would handle being away from me. But I knew it was good for both of us. Not only is he is Covid baby and hardly ever even gets to leave the house, but I have always stayed at home with him, so he isn’t used to being watched by other people. Luckily, he did great! Since he wasn’t around me, he clung to his grandma…but I don’t think she minded!

The kids got to spend lots of time with cousins swimming in the pool at the lake, eating popsicles and just living their best life!

Trip-kids-5Trip-kids-6

They loved spending time at the playground with cousins too!

Trip-kids-4

And walking through the creek…

Trip-kids-3

And getting ice cream of course!

Trip-kids-2

One of their highlights was having a cousin sleepover at the camper. Aunt Megan stayed with this crazy crew. They watched a movie and loved their first camping experience!

Trip-kids-1

They also got to go to the Indianapolis Zoo. Before we moved to Arkansas, we had a membership to this zoo, so I took Kinsie all the time. She remembered it pretty well, but we moved when Brax was only 1, so he remembers the Little Rock Zoo more. They had an awesome day at the zoo. They saw lots of animals, had good treats and got souvenirs. I don’t even think they missed us!

Trip-kids-zoo3Trip-kids-zoo2Trip-kids-zoo4Trip-kids-zoo1

Fun at Home

The kids have been enjoying just spending time at home this summer too. We are still so in love with our new house and are enjoying it to the fullest this summer. They’ve been enjoying our big yard and doing fun water activities, like the mini splash pad, water table and slip n slide!

Home-2

They are obsessed with the slip n slide!

Home-3

Something they’ve always enjoyed doing was making obstacle courses. Now we have the perfect backyard for them! We even made a special baby version for Brody!

Home-4

When we are home and not outside, we are pretty much always in the basement. Brody is still obsessed with the Nugget, and loves destroying anything and everything he can get his hands on. We recently bought a card table and set it up in the basement so we could use it for family games, but the kids mainly like to use it to set up their toys so Brody can’t reach them!

Home-1

Cousin Birthday Party

The kids’ cousin Hudson turned 4 this month, and had a fun outdoor Dino-themed birthday party. They had an inflatable water slide and the kids were all obsessed! We stayed most of the day and the kids had an absolute blast.

Party-2Party-3Party-1

Pool Days

Since Ryan had a week off for our trip earlier in the month, the rest of his month was pretty busy with work. Whenever he had a stretch of a few days in a row, the kids and I went and stayed at my parents’ house. We had lots of pool days with cousins! Brody is becoming more and more obsessed with the pool so he loved getting in on the action whenever he could!

Pool-4Pool-3

This travel high chair was such a great purchase! Brody loves eating his lunch and snacks pool-side!

Pool-2

Lots and lots of swimming fun. Brax even learned to swim independently in the deep end… no more floaties for him!

Pool-6

When mom is too lazy to put on your swim suit and swim diaper…you just go with it!

Pool-5

The cousins loved pool-side lunch picnics too!

Pool-1

Splash Pads

We made it a summer goal to check out the local splash pads. I also wanted to somewhat wait until Brody was walking a little more, and he finally started walking regularly in the second half of the month, so we finally made a few day trips to the splash pads. Brody was a big fan of his first splash pad experience!

SP-4SP-3SP-2SP-1SP2-1SP2-2SP2-3

Wonderlab

This has become one of our new favorite spots, especially since I feel somewhat safe bringing the kids there. I wanted to bring the big kids one more time before school started, and I’ll probably make it a regular place to bring Brody for a morning activity when the kids are in school!

Wonderlab

Meet Dash!

Kinsie has wanted a bunny for years. We originally planned on letting her have one when he moved back to Indiana, but then we decided to build a new house so we knew we’d have to wait until we were in our new house. The day finally came, and she and Brax were SO excited! They picked out a bunny at the Animal Shelter and named him Dash. Brody has enjoyed him too, even though we have to keep a close eye on him so he doesn’t love on him too much! Koda is still getting used to him. We have to introduce him in small doses and try to get him to understand that he’s a family member, not a snack!

Bunny-1

 

Getting acquainted with the new member of the family!

Bunny-5Bunny-4Bunny-3

 

Lots of playtime with Dash!

Bunny-2

Meet Spotty!

Another promise we made was to get Brax a lizard. Ryan has had lots of different reptiles in his day, so he figured a leopard gecko would be the way to go. So now we can officially introduce Brax’s new gecko friend… Spotty! His full name is “Spotty Pickles Dobby!” You gotta love the creativity of kids! 

IMG_0747Spotty

Brody Updates

Brody has grown and changed so much lately, I had to share some of his newest tricks!

 

He is officially WALKING. I truly thought this would happen sooner since he’s been crawling since 4 months, and he loves to climb and get into everything. But he took his time and finally got the hang of it. Now he loves toddling around everywhere!

Brody-walking

He’s talking and repeating sounds a lot more. He loves repeating high-pitched screaming and “woo-hoo” sounds, and he likes to imitate different voices. He loves imitating Donald Duck and the Hulk’s voices the most. He says words like hi, cheese, fish, Kinsie, bye, and more.

 Brody3

He LOVES Mickey Mouse and the whole gang. He always says “hi” to him and gravitates towards any Mickey toy. He doesn’t really watch TV yet, but loves the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Sometimes I will play the song on repeat when I need a couple minutes of him not hanging on me!

Brody2

He LOVES to be chased…especially to the Jaws theme! As soon as we start with the “Duh nuh…duh nuh…” music, he immediately gets the biggest smile on his face and starts running away! He cracks up when we catch him!

Brody

He loves drinking whole milk. He gets warm whole milk in the morning when he wakes up and at night before he goes to bed (it helped wean him off of nursing), and it is his favorite part of the day! He gets so excited when he sees his milk and he will sit and chug it until it’s gone!

He is still as crazy as ever, and starting to get more and more “toddler moments” every day. He keeps us busy for sure! Enjoy the video below of his precious walking!

And that was our July. The kids will start school soon, and they are looking forward to it…even if they have to continue masking up (thanks a lot, Delta.) 

Here is our 1 Second Every Day for July. Enjoy!

 

June is Bustin’ Out All Over

I see a trend happening here. Each month seems a little more like normal, and each month is MUCH better than the same month last year. This same time last year was rough, and even though it brought us back to our home in Indiana, and brought us our sweet Brody, it is a time of my life that still gives me heart palpitations when I think about it. This year is better. This year is more normal, and even though I’m watching my kids like a hawk to keep them safe since they can’t yet be vaccinated, we at least feel safe enough to go certain places and do certain activities. This June felt a little more like summer as the way it should be, and it was refreshing!

Here is our June went down…

A Weekend at the Dunes

If you recall, my sweet Abuelita passed away last April. This was right when Covid hit hard, and with our family living in all different states, we couldn’t get together for a long time. Now, a good chunk of us are vaccinated and things are overall getting better, so we planned a celebration of life. We had a short outdoor ceremony at the burial site where my grandpa is already buried. She had such an amazing life and legacy, and she is now in heaven with her Beto instead of trapped in her broken mind here on Earth, so it truly was a celebration.

IMG_9929IMG_9930

After the ceremony, everyone met at the Indiana Dunes State Park. We reserved a shelter, and had lots of Covid-friendly individually-wrapped food. It was great to get to see some of my family that I haven’t seen in over a year – maybe more. We also spent some time at the Lake Michigan beach. The kids LOVED it! They haven’t been to Florida, or any vacation for that matter, in a long time so they were loving it.

Dunes-2Dunes-4Dunes-3Dunes-1

That evening, we put the kids to bed in the hotel room (they were EXHAUSTED), used our phones as a baby monitor, and spent some time hanging out with my aunts, uncles, and cousins in the lobby just talking and laughing. It was so refreshing and a great time!

Cicadas Galore!

This was the month of the cicadas! This was the year of the 17 year life cycle of cicadas where they emerged from underground and flew amok. The kids were ALL about it! Kinsie particularly was so fascinated by them, and even researched them to find out as much as she could about them…and wrote a book about them! (See video below) Certain parts of Indiana were swarmed with cicadas, including Bloomington. One evening, we had a picnic on campus and took a walk afterwards. IU’s campus was seriously invaded by cicadas. They were all over all the trees and buildings, and they would fly around and land on us. It sounds creepy, but it was actually really fun!

Cicadas-3Cicadas-4

Walking through the very LOUD trails on campus.

Cicadas-1

The kids kept catching cicadas and holding them and becoming friends with them.

Cicadas-5Cicadas-2

 

Enjoy this video of Kinsie reading her book about cicadas that she wrote.

Champions!

Kinsie’s first softball season is now in the books. She had a great season and improved SO much! Her team was so much fun to watch. They had their end of the season tournament this month. They won their first game, but barely lost in the championship game (8-9). Even though they got 2nd place in the tournament, they were still the regular season champs! I think Kinsie enjoyed it and wants to play again next season!

Softball-2Softball-1

Anniversary Date

Ryan and I haven’t been on an anniversary date in YEARS. Four years ago, we were moving and doing the 10 hour drive from Indiana to Arkansas, and were in different vehicles so we barely spent any time together. Then the next 2 years he was either working or we just couldn’t afford a babysitter, and last year, he was still in Arkansas finishing residency and the kids and I were living in Indiana with my parents for the month. Now the stars finally aligned and we were able to have an evening out together. Ryan worked the early shift that day and was off by 3, and we had his mom and aunt come down to watch the kids. We went to dinner, took a walk around campus, and ran to a few stores. It wasn’t much, but it didn’t need to be much. Just being together, without kids was so nice and relaxing and something we don’t get nearly enough of.

Anniversary

Pool Days

We’ve been enjoying my parents’ pool as often as we can this summer. Whenever we go there to swim, the kids swim literally the entire day. They only get out to eat and pee. I haven’t taken many pool pictures this summer because I’m usually fully hands-on with Brody. He is like Forky and trash with the water – he is constantly speed crawling toward the pool!

Pool-1Pool-2

Lake Days

We haven’t been able to spend as much time at the lake as we normally like to with the weather and Ryan’s schedule, but when we do, we soak it in. Ryan was luckily off work for Father’s Day weekend, so we spent the day at the lake. It was just Ryan’s immediate family – his parents, his sister and her family, and his brother. It was such a fun, relaxing and beautiful day. The kids always love playing with their cousin Griffin. Brody enjoyed the water table, kiddie pool, and baby slide. We ended the day with a good dinner and a boat ride.

Lake-1Lake-2Lake-3Lake-4

Rainy Days

We’ve had a good mixture of beautiful summer days, and dreary rainy days. On those days, at least we have this beautiful house to enjoy! The Nugget is still a huge hit. Brody spends a good majority of his days climbing all over it.

Inside-nugget2

When Brody was napping one day, we tried something new with the big kids. We made the Nugget into a giant slide on the stairs. This kept them entertained for a while!

Inside-nugget-1

Life with Brody is always fun and never boring. He loves climbing into and onto anything he can find – including his sister, his brother’s laundry hamper, and the beanie baby bin!

We also recently got a good deal on a new kids’ camera for them to share. It came with a green screen so they can do fun animation videos and news reports!

Inside-other

Life is never boring in this household!

Inside-family

Soaking up All the SUMMER

Last summer, we did “summer things” but it was a lot harder with a newborn and my postpartum self, and a pandemic, and Ryan not even being with us half the summer. So this year, we are trying harder to do ALL the things.

Morning at the Park

Brax has been asking to go to a playground for a while. He really wanted to go to the playground at the park where he played soccer. One morning before it got too hot, we loaded up and went to the park. There was a daycare there with probably 20 kids, so my kids masked up, kept their distance, and still had a great time.

Outside-park

Slip n Slide

Brax and Brody got several new water toys for their birthdays, and we’ve slowly been trying them out. Their favorite is probably the slip and slide! Ryan even went a step further and put baby soap on it to make it extra slippery. This kept the kids entertained for hours!

Outside-Slipnslide-1

Even Brody took a few turns on it!

Outside-slipnslide

Kiddie Pools, Sprinklers, and Slides…oh my!

Living in Arkansas without a pool in our backyard, we had to find ways to survive the hot summer days. The kids spent almost every day in the summer playing in the water table, sprinklers, and kiddie pools. Last summer once we moved to Bloomington, our rental house didn’t even have a hose spigot…so we couldn’t do any of those things. When we built our new house, we made sure we didn’t have that problem! The kids have been all about their water toys this year, and now Brody loves getting in on the action too!

Outside-pool-2Outside-Pool-1Outside-yardOutside-dragonOutside-hulaOutside-balloons

They love their snack breaks!

Outside-snackOutside-kiss

IMG_9961

Walks on the Trail

We’re still discovering parks and trails near our new home, so we try to spend mornings or evenings finding new areas. We love taking walks and the kids like bringing their scooters or bikes on the trails. Lately, the kids got new Fitbits, so they enjoy running on the trails to try and meet their Fitbit goals!

Outside-walks

Other Outside Fun

Even on the days where we don’t spend the entire day outside, we still try to get our daily vitamins D dose, even if its just an hour, by playing on the driveway with wagon rides, bubbles, or hitting softballs.

Outside-2Outside-1Outside-3

Cincy Zoo Day

It has been a few years since we’ve been to our favorite zoo in Cincinnati. Kinsie still talks about their baby hippo, Fiona, often, and I promised her that once we moved back to Indiana, we would go visit her. Well, Covid made that hard to do last year, so we made it happen this year.

We woke up early and drove the 2.5 hours to the Cincinnati Zoo. To limit crowds, you have to make reservations on the day you want to visit the zoo. Well, I’m not sure exactly how many reservations they allow on one day, because it was SO crowded. It was possibly more crowded than any other day we’ve been there, NOT during Covid. My guess is that they only make non-members make reservations, and members can go anytime they please. It definitely made it harder since the kids aren’t vaccinated, but we did the best we could to keep safe and still have fun.

Cincy-5

Cincy-6Cincy-1Cincy-8Cincy-9Cincy-10Cincy-7

We went to the Hippo Cove to see Fiona twice. In the morning, she was sleeping. When we came back in the afternoon, she was very active! We stayed for a while and watched her swim around like a ballerina!

Cincy-3Cincy-4Cincy-11

Kinsie and Brax wore their masks a lot that day. Whenever we had space to ourselves, I let them have breaks, but because it was so crowded, they didn’t get as many mask breaks as I hoped. But they didn’t care, they are champs. They were just happy to be at the zoo. And like usual, Brody was either in the stroller or I was wearing him in the Ergo carrier. If there was ever a crowded exhibit, I just stayed back with Brody away from people and Ryan took Kinsie and Brax to go see it. Overall, we had a great day at our favorite zoo!

Cincy-2

Wonder Lab

Bloomington has a great science lab for kids. Ryan’s mom and sister bought us a family membership for Brax’s birthday last year, but we weren’t able to use it for a long time due to Covid. Now we finally got to visit and it was a wonderful morning! The kids (and Ryan) LOVED everything here. You have to sign up for 2 hour windows, which was the perfect amount of time to see and do everything there.

The kids especially loved the water and bubble area. They even had a baby section that Brody loved. I was SO impressed with their cleanliness and sanitation here. In the baby section, a family could sign up for a 20 minute window to let their child explore, and when their window was up, the staff came around and sanitized EVERYTHING. Everyone above the age of 2 was required to wear a mask, and they truly only allowed a certain number of people in the museum at a time. They had hand sanitizing areas everywhere, and I saw the staff cleaning the areas down often. I told the staff how impressed I was, and I wish more places took it as seriously as they did. Science for the win!

Wonderlab-8Wonderlab-4Wonderlab-3Wonderlab-5 Wonderlab-2Wonderlab-7 Wonderlab-6Wonderlab-1

It was such a good June. Much better than last June. I like this trend, and I hope it continues. I just can’t wait until my kids can get vaccinated so we can truly feel safe going places and being around people. I wish more people would trust science and get the vaccine so we can truly put this all behind us…but at least for now, we are better off than we were this time last year. Baby steps I guess!

Enjoy the 1SE video for June!

Many Celebrations in May

We had a very busy May, and it felt great to be *somewhat* back to normal. We celebrated 2 very special birthdays, the kids finished their school year and stayed busy in sports, and we got to have lots of semi-normal spring and summer fun. It was refreshing!

Braxton’s Surprise Birthday Trip

For the first time in over a year, we took a family weekend trip! We did a surprise birthday trip for our big 5 year old. We didn’t tell him where we were going, so he enjoyed the suspense knowing we were going somewhere special for his birthday weekend.

Birthdaytrip-car

Day 1: Kentucky Down Under

We drove about 3 hours to Cave City, Kentucky. The first surprise was Kentucky Down Under. Ryan and I came here with his family when we were engaged, so we knew the kids would love it. It’s an interactive zoo with lots of fun outback animals to see and interact with. This was really Brody’s first time at a zoo too!

Birthdaytrip-KDU

The kids loved the area where you can feed the birds and they climb all over you. Even Brody tried to grab the birds!

Birthdaytrip-KDUbirds

We also loved the outback area where there were kangaroos, emus, and some farm animals openly wandering around. You could buy cups of food to feed the animals. The kids were in heaven and Ryan made best friends with all the animals of course!

Birthdaytrip-KDU-emusBirthdaytrip-KDUkangaroos

The park was mostly outdoors, so overall we felt pretty safe and comfortable. We kept our masks handy and wore them when we couldn’t distance ourselves from other people. Brody spent his time either in the stroller or in the Ergo carrier, and we did our best to keep him away from people since he can’t wear a mask. He was a trooper! He seemed to enjoy a new environment since he doesn’t get out much. He even took a decent stroller nap in the afternoon.

Birthdaytrip-KDU-Brody

The animal show was not super “Covid friendly” since they bunched everyone together in a small amphitheater. I just wore Brody in the carrier and stood to the side away from everyone, and Ryan and the kids wore their masks. The kids still enjoyed the show, and they loved getting to pet (and hold) the snake!

Birthdaytrip-snake copy

The kids had a great day and they loved the park! Brax still asks us all the time when we can go back!

Time at the Hotel

This was Brody’s first time staying in a hotel. It was an interesting experience! I couldn’t just let him crawl around since hotel floors are gross, and I couldn’t let him play on the bed much because he would try to dive off. We ended up setting up his pack ‘n’ play and letting him play in there… but he isn’t a huge fan of being contained! That evening we let Brax open his gift, and we got carry out and ate in the room. We were all tired from our busy day so we just took it easy and played in the room and watched TV.

Birthdaytrip-hotel

Brody did not understand bed time with us all in the same room. We turned off all the lights, and I set the kids up with a show on the iPad while Brody fell asleep. I figured he’d be exhausted, but he thought it was party time! He just kept standing up in his bed and talking and screaming happily. After maybe 45 minutes, he finally sat down and passed out. He was up and at ’em early in the morning and woke us all along with him. But it was Brax’s birthday so we were excited to start the day!

Birthdaytrip-hotel2

Day 2: Dinosaur World

On the drive, we told Brax to look for clues for where we were going for his big birthday surprise. He finally saw a huge dinosaur statue and started to get an idea! He was so excited!

Birthdaytrip-dinoworld

We spent all morning exploring Dinosaur World. It isn’t a huge park, and most people could go through the whole thing in maybe an hour, but we spent more time than usual because Brax wanted to see and read every single thing possible. There was a walk through the woods where you would see life-size dinosaur statues, and Brax wanted a picture with every single one! Later I took all the pictures from Dinosaur World and put them all in a Shutterfly book with facts about each dinosaur so he could look at it whenever he wanted!

Birthdaytrip-dinoworld6Birthdaytrip-dinoworld3Birthdaytrip-dinoworld8Birthdaytrip-dinoworld4

There was also a fun dinosaur-themed playground and we let the kids play for a while. Even Brody enjoyed it!  After a while, we let the kids pick out something from the gift shop, then we left. Brax LOVED Dinosaur World. He said he wanted to live there! It was a perfect place to spend his birthday!

Birthdaytrip-dinoworld5

Birthdaytrip-dinoworld2

We told Brax he could choose anywhere he wanted for lunch. Or if he wanted a certain type of food, we could find something. Of all the possibilities, he chose Wendy’s!

Birthday-lunch

Ryan’s parents were watching our dog for the weekend, so we had them meet us back at home so we could eat dinner together and get ice cream for dessert. Brax requested our favorite ice cream shop, Jiffy Treat. He had a wonderful 5th birthday and couldn’t wait to tell his teachers and friends about his weekend!

Birthday-home

 

Mother’s Day

Ryan had to work in the afternoon, so we spent the morning together as a family. It was a gloomy, rainy day, so while Brody took his morning nap, we all watched a movie together. Once Brody woke up and Ryan headed to work, the kids and I spent the afternoon at my parents’ house. It was laid back and relaxing, and the kids just enjoyed having fun together like usual!

For Brody, every day is Mother’s Day!

MothersDay-Brody

The kids made a “stuffed animal parade” along the balcony. This is just an example of the many creative things they do when they play together!

MothersDay-cousins

Fully Vaccinated!

On May 4th, I got my 2nd Covid vaccine! I thought Star Wars Day was a good day to become fully vaccinated, and I prepared with an appropriate band-aid. I did have some symptoms with this vaccine, but it was tolerable. Once the kids were in bed that evening, I started having chills and body aches. I didn’t sleep great, but I was able to rest a little the next day and manage the body aches with Advil. By about 24 hours post vaccine, I was completely fine. 100% worth it!

vaccine-2nddose

My sister got me this amazing hat so that WHEN I feel comfortable going out in public without my mask, at least people will know that I am vaccinated! 

vaccinehat

Outdoor Living

I’m not going to lie, spring weather has not shown its face as often as I’d like at this point in the year. We’ve had so many random cold and rainy days. BUT, we take advantage when we can. Brody is a little outdoor boy. He loves it! He has been enjoying his new outdoor toys like his swing and walking lawn mower.

Outside-Brody

Whenever Renata comes over, she always tries to do something fun with the kids. One day she brought stuff for the kids to paint birdhouses and flower pots.

Outside-crafts

Enjoying the outdoors whenever they can!

Outside-kids

It has only been warm enough to set up the water table once or twice, but when we do, Brody gets real excited. He splashes like crazy and gets himself soaked immediately!

Outside-watertable

It’s an annual tradition to start the swimming season by all the cousins jumping in the pool together holding hands (Brody will join someday!)

Outside-firstswim

Lake season has started as well and we’re real excited about it! We were there a lot last summer, but Brody was such a tiny baby he obviously couldn’t enjoy it much. Now he loved it. He wasn’t crazy about the boat ride, but mainly because he didn’t like wearing his life jacket. The big kids loved swimming and riding the paddle boat with their cousins!

Outside-lake

Dinosaur Birthday Bash

Since the boys’ birthdays are only 2 weeks apart, we decided to have a combined birthday party for them. Brax was really excited to share his party with his brother! We let him pick the theme and of course he picked dinosaurs! Since Covid is still a factor, AND we still don’t know very many people in our town yet, we stuck with a small family-only party…just the people the kids are closest to.

Party-boys

We were excited to finally get to host something at our new house! I had a lot of help prepping for the party – even if it was just someone coming to entertain the kids so I could clean! Ryan’s sister Megan made me some banners and the matching shirts for the birthday boys. And Aunt Renata made her famous cookies! We ordered Jimmy Johns for the main food and I ordered cakes from a local lady who has a side cake business. They turned out really cute!

Party-decor

I didn’t have a whole lot of activities planned, but I didn’t have to. These kids are all so close they can have fun doing anything! 

Party-kids

It was a team effort to open presents. I helped Brax, and Ryan helped Brody. Kinsie and a few of the cousins delivered the presents to the boys when they were ready for another present to open. Brody was so funny opening his presents. He would open one, then want to play with the toy and wouldn’t want to put it away to open the next. And he continued to get distracted and tried to crawl away. When he opened a jumbo pack of Puffs (his favorite snack), he was so excited and didn’t want to put them down!

Party-presents

We all sang “Happy Birthday,” and dug into the cake and ice cream. Brody got his own special smash cake!

Party-BrodyParty-cakeParty-cakes

Of course we all had to be dressed in our dinosaur gear!

Party-family copy

Brody loved his smash cake! He seemed to enjoy eating the cake, but honestly, he didn’t eat THAT much. He mainly just played in the cake. He loved squishing it between his fingers and rubbing it in his hair!

Party-Brodycake

My kids LOVE doing the piñata, so we made sure we got one. Now that most of these kids are playing softball or baseball now, they broke into the piñata sooner than they ever had in the past!

Party-pinata

It turned out to be a great party. The week leading up to party day, the forecast said it was 100% chance of rain. Somehow, it turned out to be a perfect, beautiful day. After the party activities, the adults hung out and talked and the kids all ran around in the backyard and the basement. It was a great day!

 

Brody’s FIRST Birthday

Our littlest love turned ONE this month! Since we had the party the day before, we had somewhat of a low-key birthday for our boy (after all, it was a Monday!) The kids still had school, but Ryan was off work so Brody got to spend the morning with mommy and daddy.

Brodybirthday-1

After Ryan dropped the kids off at school, he stopped to get Brody his first official birthday donut. He was a big fan!

Brodybirthday-2

Once the kids were home, we set up Brody’s gift in the basement and brought him down to see it. He loves tents, so we got him a pop up tent and tunnel, and bought balls to put in it. He LOVED it! Kinsie and Brax enjoyed playing in it with him too!

Brodybirthday-3

In the evening, we got Culver’s for dinner and Brody loved his first cheeseburger. We also got ice cream for dessert. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him and let him try some ice cream. You could tell he liked the taste, but it was too cold…he kept making a shivering sound! We ended up letting him have some of his leftover smash cake for dessert and he enjoyed that too. He had a great day!

 

Sports Life

Sports kept us very busy this month! Brax had soccer once a week, and Kinsie had softball practice once a week, and at least one game a week. Normally, Brax’s soccer and Kinsie’s practices were at the same time on Saturdays, so Ryan and I had to divide and conquer. But a few times, Kinsie’s practice got cancelled so we got to see Brax play soccer. 

Sports-BraxsoccerSports-Braxsoccer2

Kinsie has improved TREMENDOUSLY this season. She started the season barely hitting the ball and she wasn’t the best at fielding either. But between my dad, Ryan, and her coaches, she has gotten so much better! She gets on base every game now and even gets in on the fielding action! We are so proud of her progress!

Sports-KinsiesoftballSports-Kinsiesoftball2

End of the School Year

The end of the school year is always a fun time. We were so sad that the kids didn’t get to experience it last year. 

 

Braxton got to celebrate his birthday at school this month. He got to bring the snack that day (we brought pre-packaged cupcakes), and the class sang to him while he wore the birthday hat!

School-Braxbirthday

Brax also had an end of the year program. There were only 2 guests per child allowed, we had to wear masks the entire time and space out in the auditorium. Luckily, Grandma Bev came down to watch Kinsie and Brody so that Ryan and I could go to the program. Brax was all business throughout his songs, then at the VERY end he did a crazy face pose! 

School-Braxprogram

 

Brax had a WONDERFUL school year. We absolutely loved his school, and we are looking forward to Brody getting to attend there someday. His teachers were amazing, and he made significant growth this year – both emotionally and academically. He made some great friends too! He will be attending the half day Kindergarten program next year at the same school, then he’ll be moving on to Kinsie’s school after that!

School-Braxlastday

 

Kinsie loved her end of the school year too. Their class counted down the last 10 days of school with 10 fun activities – such as stuffed animal day, an ice cream snack, watching a movie, and working with a partner for the day. Her school district has been very cautious with Covid all year, so they avoided a lot of normal end of the year activities…but they still made it special for the kids. She is looking forward to things becoming more normal as time goes on so she can experience all the fun normal school activities!

School-Kinsielastday

 

How amazing are our kids though? They had the craziest year, but they got through it with a smile on their face (under their mask!) They didn’t let all the unknown and crazy of the world bother them. They were just happy to be at school and see their friends. I wish adults could be more like kids!

 

Beginning of Summer Vacation

The first few weeks of summer vacation were not exactly summer weather. It rained or was 60 degrees or less most days, so we spent a lot of time indoors. Luckily, we had a few new toys that kept them busy! My mom saved ALL of my beanie babies from when I was little – specifically for her grandkids to someday play with. Now that we were settled into our house, my parents brought over the tubs (yes, multiple) of beanie babies. The kids LOVED going through all of them and sorting them into categories. And I may have enjoyed looking through them as much as they did!

We also spent time playing in the tent and doing some virtual reality. Yes, Ryan got new toys too!

FirstDaySummer

The best new toy, however, is the Nugget. My sister-in-law first told me about these months ago, and I knew I wanted one once we were in the new house. I ordered one back in March when we moved in, but they are VERY popular, so they were backordered about 2 months. Well, our long awaited delivery came just in time for summer vacation. So far the kids have been OBSESSED!

Nugget-1

They have used it as a couch, a fort, a slide, and a climbing ramp. I think Brody may love it the most!

Nugget-2

Memorial Weekend

Last year on Memorial Weekend, I was in the NICU with Brody at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and was less than a week away from moving to another state. This year, we got to spend it together as a family with a happy, healthy, crazy little one year old! 

We went to my parents’ house on Sunday to watch the race and have a pool day. Most of the day it was actually pretty cool – too cold to swim in my opinion. But the kids didn’t care! Even though it was only 65 degrees outside, they spent the majority of the day in the pool. In the late afternoon, the temps finally seemed high enough for Brody to get in the pool. At first we let him sit on the side and watch the kids, but he kept trying to dive in so we figured he wanted to get in!

MemWeekend-pool2

MemWeekend-pool5

Brody loved the pool…just like I figured he would. He is a huge fan of the bath and splashes like crazy, and he was the same way in the pool. I have a feeling this little guy will keep me busy this summer!

MemWeekend-pool4 MemWeekend-pool3MemWeekend-pool1

We spent the night at my parents’ house that night so we could wake up and head straight to the lake the next morning. It was only Ryan’s parents and his brother at the lake that day, which was nice! When Brody was napping, we went fishing with the kids. At first they were nervous to hold the fish, but eventually they got brave enough to do it, and then they didn’t want to stop!

MemWeekend-fishing

Once Brody woke up, we let him see one of the fish we caught. And, like I figured he would, he tried to eat it!

MemWeekend-Brofish

Last winter, Ryan’s parents bought a camper to keep at the campgrounds. We drove golf carts down to the campgrounds to see it for the first time. We loved seeing the camper of course, but the big highlight was the cicadas! They were EVERYWHERE around the campgrounds. Kinsie is obsessed. She would find them at recess and play with them, and already knows all kinds of facts about them. Now she got Brax and Brody into them too. They were collecting them and playing with them. Kinsie even took one back to the lake house with her and made a little habitat in a jar. She has always been my nature girl!

MemWeekend-cicadas

We ended the evening with a boat ride. This time, I just wore Brody in the Ergo carrier and he enjoyed it much more this time! We had a great weekend together!

IMG_9198

We had a wonderful month of May. It felt more like the way it should be. I know things are not completely back to normal, and I won’t feel 100% better until my kids are able to get vaccinated, but it is SO nice that Ryan and I are both fully vaccinated. I feel a little more comfortable going places now, especially outside. My kids are kind of socially awkward and don’t get close to people they don’t know anyway, so it works out! We are hoping to spend a lot of our summer days enjoying our own backyard (we got a TON of outdoor toys for the boys’ birthday), swimming at Yaya’s pool, hanging out at the lake, and hopefully some other fun adventures as well. 

Happy Summer and enjoy our May 1 Second Everyday!

 

A Much Better April

This April was MUCH better than last year. Last year the start of the pandemic was still fresh and overwhelming, the kids were doing online school, I was insanely pregnant not knowing what my birthing experience would be like with the new Covid restrictions, and to top it all off, my grandma and sweet dog Addie passed away. I remember my emotions last April. I remember crying randomly every day. Even though it was a year ago, these emotions are still fresh on the surface when I think back to that time. My anxiety was through the roof, and pregnancy hormones added another level of stress. But here we are now. We are still in the pandemic, but we are finally seeing better days ahead. We are finally starting to creep toward normalcy. The place I was in this time last year is tough to remember, but it makes me even more appreciative of where we are now. We are stronger as individuals, we are more firm in our faith- despite not stepping into a church in over a year, and we are closer as a family than ever before.

 Spring weather is officially here! Arkansas always had to best spring weather. Indiana’s spring weather is hit or miss…this year we’ve had a lot of rain and a few random super cold days, but overall it’s been nice to be able to be outside on a regular basis again. Both of the kids started up some spring sports which has kept us pretty busy too…it’s taken some time to re-adjust to actually having activities on the calendar, but it feels good to get out of the house a little more. Here is how our April went down…

Easter

Ryan had to work on Easter, so we did some family Easter activities the days before. We made Easter cookies, had an egg hunt in the backyard, and dyed Easter eggs. The kids loved it all, and Brody enjoyed all of his first Easter experiences as well!

Easter CookiesEaster-egghunt2Easter-huntEaster-egghuntBroEaster-eggs

Ryan didn’t work until 9am on Easter, so he got to spend Easter morning with us and see the kids with their Easter baskets. Once he left for work, the kids and I loaded up the van and went to my parents’ house to spend the day. Can I just say how nice it is to be able to do this again? Holidays, birthdays and other special days were always so hard while living in Arkansas…because Ryan was usually working and I really missed my family. Now, we just have a quick hour drive and we don’t have to spend these days alone anymore, and I am SO grateful for that!

Easter-morning

We had a great Easter Day. It was a beautiful day, so we spent most of it outside. The kids had a cousin egg hunt, we had an awesome dinner, and other than that, the kids just played together outside all day, and the adults just hung out together. It was such a beautiful and relaxing day celebrating our risen King!

EasterDayEaster-withmomEaster-cousins

Kinsie’s Softball

Kinsie’s softball season is in full force now, and she is enjoying it! It took some time for her to get the hang of it, but we have been practicing with her almost every day and she has improved tremendously! She has awesome coaches and a great team. The first few games, she didn’t get any hits, but she did a great job in the outfield backing up first base. We have enjoyed watching her games so far…even Brax and Brody (although, Brax’s favorite part is the concession stand…just like me when I was a kid at my sister’s games!)

Kinsiegame-1 Kinsiegame-2

My dad used to coach softball, so he has been coming to town a lot and helping her learn and practice. I think recently, it finally clicked with her, and she started hitting the ball more and more when we practiced. She finally got a hit at one of her games, but she got out at first. Then at her next game, my parents and my sister’s family all came to see her play, and she hit the ball and got on base ALL 4 TIMES she was up to bat! She was a rockstar, and was even given the game ball from her coach! We were all so proud of her and I know she was so excited!

IMG_1678 IMG_8199

Since Kinsie has been practicing softball so much, this has sparked an interest in Brax with baseball. He always wanted to practice with us too, and it turns out, he’s a natural! My dad even surprised him with a new bat for his birthday, and he loves hitting the ball off the tee, as well as when we pitch to him. Next spring, he will be old enough to play in the 5 year old baseball league here in town, and he can’t wait!

Braxbaseball

Brax’s Soccer

Brax really wanted to try soccer this season, so we signed him up. At his age, it is more of an academy, where they just do fun drills to get the hang of the sport. He has had one practice so far, and he loved it! Ryan even stayed late with him once practice was over because he wanted to play longer! I think he will be our little athlete!

Brax-soccer

Kinsie’s Lost Teeth

Kinsie has lost SO many teeth lately! In the matter of about a month, she lost 4 more teeth – putting her at 8 total (which is the same number of teeth that Brody currently has!) One tooth in particular that she lost, we give credit to Brax. They were wrestling one day, and he got too rough and kicked her tooth out! Now she is the prettiest little jack-o-lantern face we’ve ever seen!

DSC_0133

Outside Time

Whenever it isn’t raining or freezing, we are usually outside. We live on a cul-de-sac with several open lots, so the kids have plenty of room to play. The kids love their bikes and scooters, and Brody loves his little car!

Outside-boys

Outside-Brody

One of their favorite things to do lately is ride down the driveway while the sprinkler is on. Ryan also mowed part of the open lot next door into the shape of a baseball diamond. So now they enjoy playing softball and baseball there, or just running around in the open grass!

Outside-fun

We’ve had a few Sundays this month where we had dinner with my family. Whenever we are there, the kids always have so much fun together…especially when Yaya breaks out the parachute!

Outside-parachute

My sister gave me this awesome collapsible playpen, and it even comes with a sunshade. We’ve used it inside a lot to contain Brody when needed, but we’ve recently been able to use it outside as well. At first Brody wasn’t a fan because he didn’t want to be in there alone, but once Kinsie and Brax joined him, he was happy as can be!

Outside-playpen

First Vaccine!

I finally had my turn! I received my first vaccine early in April. I had been anxiously awaiting this moment for SO long, so it felt great to finally get to do it. If you haven’t already, go get your vaccine as well and let’s kick this thing to the curb and get back to normal!

Vaccine

Brody turned 11 Months!

I’m still in denial that my baby will be one soon. This year has flown by, and we have absolutely loved watching him grow into the precious little boy he is. He is seriously SO much fun. He is in such a cute and silly stage, and he makes us laugh every day! He learned a lot this month and developed some cute and hilarious new habits.

Brody-11monthsBrody-11months2

Our Brody boy at 11 months:

  • He has 8 teeth. He popped 4 teeth at once, which made it a doozy of a month, but now that they are out, he is a happy camper!
  • He learned how to wave.
  • He learned how to clap.
  • He shakes his head “No” (all the time – he thinks it’s so funny!)
  • He can give high fives.
  • He can give hugs (and it melts me every single time).
  • He loves getting into the pantry and trying to steal his snacks.
  • He can say “mama,” “dada,” “hi,” and “more” with meaning. He can also sign “more.”
  • He cruises around furniture constantly.
  • He still loves to climb everything, including the kitchen cabinets and counters. He tries to use the cabinet drawer handles as a latter, and he legitimately tries to do pull ups on the countertops.
  • He loves to rub whatever he is eating into his hair.
  • He suddenly hates diaper changes. He tries to roll over and kick me so he can escape. This is exactly how Braxton was too…fun times.
  • He loves playing outside.
  • He still adores his brother and sister and screams excitedly when they walk into the room.

Big boy with his walker!

Brody-walking

Always climbing up onto the kids’ art table!

 Brody-climbing

Hanging out in the pantry – always!

Brody-pantry

He loves his brother and sister so much.

And this is no joke how Brax carries him around and Brody doesn’t even care!

Brody-sibs

Sweet Brody faces at 11 months!

Brody-faces

He’s growing up too fast for me to handle!

Brody-growing

I know I’ve said it many times, but Brody is such a blessing from God. I didn’t know it at the time, but God knew how much I needed him throughout this time in life. When I think about this time last year, and not only how I was a complete emotional roller coaster, but also how I was so physically miserable from pregnancy, and then I see my life now…he was worth EVERY SINGLE OUNCE of emotional and physical pain I endured before/once I had him. he brings us immeasurable joy, and I can’t imagine our lives without him. Next month, he will be ONE!!

Brody-11months-4Brody-11months-3

We love you SO MUCH, our sweet Brody!

And that’s a wrap for April. Lots of exciting activities planned in May, including two birthdays for our boys! And here is our 1 Second Everyday for April. Enjoy! 

The March We’ve Been Waiting For

It’s been a whole year since the pandemic hit the United States hard. How crazy is that? I don’t think I would have ever expected it to last this long, and I am so glad that a year ago, I didn’t know that an entire year later we would still be in this mess. I have tried not to think too much about the emotional roller coaster that I was feeling this time last year, because my anxiety then was sky high, and even though we’re still dealing with a lot of the same, we have come so far as a family throughout this crazy year. I certainly have a lot more hope today than I did a year ago…and every vaccine that gets put into another arm is getting us that much closer to normalcy again… something that I am desperately looking forward to, but also somewhat terrified of. I have a feeling it is going to take me some time to adjust back to normalcy…because life with masks, social distancing, and staying home has become my new normal. I’m sure it will take time for me to feel comfortable in big groups again and walking around with a naked face. But before I get ahead of myself because we’re probably still months away from that…I’m just looking forward to getting that shot in my arm NEXT WEEK! 

Anyway…March was an exciting month for the Matthews family, and I’m sure you know why! We finally moved into our NEW HOUSE! And it has been an absolute DREAM! We had other fun things this month and some beautiful weather which was good for our souls. Here is a rundown of our exciting March…

Fun Activities at School

Brax had “Dr. Seuss Week,” where they celebrated Dr. Seuss with different fun dress up days. He actually had a lot of fun with this. Sometimes he would be hesitant to dress up, but eventually we would convince him and he ended up loving it.

Monday was Silly Sock Day…

Tuesday was Hat Day…

Wednesday was Wacky Wednesday… (he wore a pickle shirt, dinosaur pants and socks, two different shoes, and a Forky hat)

Thursday was Crazy Hair Day

And my personal favorite was Fancy Friday…

Kinsie had a few exciting things going on this month at school too. She got to write and “publish” an informative book about hippos and share it with the class. 

The day before spring break, her class also had a “Beach Day” where they could dress like they were going to the beach, and bring a stuffed animal as well. She loved dressing up herself, but also dressing up her stuffed animal!

Finishing Touches on the House

It was so much fun to see the final touches on the house. Seeing the entire process from digging a hole to the absolutely beautiful home we are now living in has been such an amazing experience! My favorite was after the cleaners came in and made it sparkle! 

Spring Break…aka MOVE IN WEEK!

We were so glad to be able to work it out to move in when the kids were on spring break. That way we didn’t have to worry about dropping off and picking up the kids throughout each day, and the kids could just enjoy their week off in our new home. We were able to recruit some family to help us on moving weekend, so we got a lot more done than I expected. It was a busy, exhausting, but wonderful move-in weekend.

Ryan still had to work that week, so he did what we could when he was home, but I wasted no time getting to work on unpacking and organizing. The kids were so excited to have so much space to play, and to get some of their toys back that had been in storage all year. But we have absolutely LOVED being in our new home…even Brody! The first few days through all of the chaos, I was either wearing him, or he was in a little playpen until we could get a baby gate in front of the stairs to the basement.

 

The kids hanging out in Brax’s dinosaur bed…

 

Brody is excited to finally have his own room! And I was excited to finally create a Harry Potter nursery for him!

One of the kids’ favorite spots is the “book nook,” a closet under the basement stairs. We made it cozy with blankets and pillows and books!

It rained a LOT the first week or so that we moved in, but every so often we’ve had some amazing weather. The kids LOVE hanging out on both the upper and lower deck!

While digging the basement, the workers find a large limestone rock so they threw it out back, and now Brax is convinced that it is a dinosaur fossil!

The kids drew pictures that we sent to our builder along with a thank you note. We even got an email back saying they could be architects someday!

St. Patrick’s Day

We didn’t do anything special on St. Patrick’s Day, but I had to share this cute picture of my kids all dressed up!

I also wanted to point out that 4 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day was also Match Day…where we found out we were moving to Arkansas for Ryan’s residency. Seeing this picture always makes me emotional because I remember the emotions I was feeling in that very moment. I was excited but completely terrified. And now it’s crazy to look back at that time and see how far we’ve come. We are so grateful for our time in Arkansas, but we are also so glad our residency years are behind us and now we FINALLY get to settle in our forever home!

Sleepover

Near the end of the kids’ spring break, Kinsie and Brax went to spend the night at Aunt Renata’s house. They had such a great time playing outside, roasting marshmallows, watching movies and doing fun Easter activities. Brody stayed home with me and we got some quality time together too going on walks and playing outside.

It’s Finally Spring!

After the dreadful February we had, we were thrilled to get some nice weather this month. We have especially enjoyed exploring outside of our new home!

We also spent a day after school going back to one of our favorite parks and taking a quick hike by the waterfall. 

Brody is 10 Months Old!

I’m in complete denial that my baby is going to be one year old soon. This year has been so weird. In some ways it has dragged on, and in other ways it has flown by. Watching this precious boy has been the absolute sunshine of my year. He is so sweet and silly and snuggly and we just love him to pieces!

Updates on our Bro Bro at 10 Months…

  • He loves to climb. He tries to climb on anything and everything.
  • He has discovered our dog Koda and likes to chase him and grab him. Koda is not amused!
  • He has 3, maybe 4 new teeth…which brings him to a total of 8 teeth!
  • He still loves food of all kinds. 
  • He has learned how to use his sippy cup and he loves it. He chugs his water during his meals!
  • He is still a major mama’s boy, but now he is starting to voluntarily go to his Daddy, grandma or other close family. 
  • He is the king of babbling. He talks all day long. “Da da” is his favorite phrase right now. We think he is starting to gain some meaning with his babbles.
  • He finally sleeps in his crib (it was in storage until we moved) and he loves it! He even likes playing in there.
  • His favorite place to hang out is in Brax’s shark tent.
  • He can walk with his walking toy. He also cruises along the furniture constantly.
  • Kinsie and Brax both like to carry him. Kinsie is at least learning how to support him better while she holds him, but Brax just holds him around his belly. At first Brody didn’t like it, but now he is used to it and doesn’t seem to care. Third kid problems!
  • He has been spending a lot more time outside this month and loves it. He especially loves riding in his little car.
  • He loves playing with his brother and sister and wants to do whatever they are doing!

 

Examples of his climbing, or just diving into his toy box!

 

Walking like a big boy with his walker toy

 

Just hanging out in the shark tent!

 

Sweet sleeping baby

 

Always being carried!

IMG_7757

 

He loves riding in his car!

 

Sweet Brody faces

Growing month by month…

I genuinely can’t imagine life without this boy. I thank God every day for giving me this precious gift. He brings so much joy to our lives, and we all just can’t get enough of him. He adds another level of crazy and loud to our family, and we love every bit of it!

 

 

And that about wraps up our March. It was a good one. Much different than March last year. Moving into our new house was a long awaited time…not just the 6 months that it took to build, or even the year that we’ve been planning it. Ever since Ryan and I got married 9 years ago, our lives have always been “what’s next?” Between med school, residency and everything between we never fully got to settle anywhere. We always knew that we’d have to pick up and move again soon. I knew this was part of the medical gig, but I have been looking forward to the day where we were finally done with the “what’s next” part of the journey and finally get to settle. After 9 years…really longer than that since I knew back in high school what Ryan’s future entailed…we are FINALLY settling in our forever home. I can’t even tell you how good it feels. We are looking forward to making many many memories in this home!

And to finish off this post, here is our 1 Second Everyday for the month of March. Enjoy!

The Longest February in History

This month was LOOOOONG. Usually January is the worst month, but goodness, this February was rough. The weather was absolutely insane and we had so many random things go wrong and need repaired. Our house is ALMOST DONE…which is why I think time went especially slow because we are so anxious to move in! But we made it to March and we couldn’t be more excited! Here is a rundown of our incredibly long February…

Valentine’s Day Activities

We always try to do several fun activities to celebrate Valentine’s Day for the kids…starting with making valentines for their classes. My crafty girl always wants to make her valentines, rather than just buying some and putting her name on them. This year, she made “love monsters” for her class. And Brax of course, wanted dinosaur valentines! They enjoyed putting them together for their friends.

Valentines-1Valentines-2

We also spent a day making valentine cookies (we threw in some unicorns too). The kids always love making cookies, and their most recent favorite decorating themes include Harry Potter cookies (notice several of the cookies have glasses), and cookies with masks!

Valentines-cookies

On actual Valentine’s Day, Ryan had to work in the afternoon so we did our valentines activities in the morning. This mainly included a scavenger hunt to find their gifts. Then of course I always take a million pictures of them…especially since its Brody’s first Valentine’s Day!

Valentines-3kidsValentines-kissValentines-Brody

A recent tradition I’ve done the last few years is writing reasons why we love the kids – one reason for each kid starting on February 1 until February 14. They loved waking up each morning to see a new reason, and Brody loved wrinkling up and chewing on his reasons! 

Valentines-reasons

I also usually try to make a Valentine-themed dinner for the kids. This year included heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches. And for Brody, his lunch meat and veggies were arranged in a heart!

Valentines-dinner

The Never-ending Blizzard

The week after Valentine’s Day was INSANE. Not only the entire state of Indiana had major snow storms, but even southern states like Texas and our old home state of Arkansas did too! The entire time we lived there, there was maybe a light dusting of snow once…and the entire city shut down. Now they had like 10 inches! I’m not sure how they survived! Anyway, the kids didn’t have school on Monday (President’s Day), and that is when the madness began. It snowed ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT. And then it snowed MORE. And MORE. It just wouldn’t stop. The kids ended up having 3 snow days in a row! (Kinsie had e-learning on these days). And it wasn’t ideal to go outside and play in the snow because a) the temperature was in the single digits, and b) Ryan was working the whole week and it was hard managing time around Brody’s naps and Kinsie’s schoolwork…but the kids didn’t even want to play outside. They were over it! We all were…except for maybe Koda.

SnowDays-yardSnowDays-yard2

We did have some epic icicles on our house!

SnowDays-icicles

Koda enjoyed the snow! The rest of us not so much.

SnowDays-Koda

Kinsie all bundled up doing her school work online

SnowDays-ELearning

At one point, I did scoop up some fresh, clean snow and the kids and I made snow ice cream!

SnowDays-icecream

Not only was the weather crummy, but about everything broke down during this week for us. Our toilet stopped working (and we only have one bathroom in our rental), my car got stuck in the deep snow in our driveway, our laptop stopped working intermittently, our printer stopped working, and once we actually got my car out of the driveway, the power steering pump needed replaced! It was a tough week. We were stuck inside all day, every day for a week. We actually ended up spending one night at my parents house just to have a working toilet for 24 hours. The kids were sick of each other and sick of not being able to go to school. And we were all sick of everything not working…but we got through it, and we know it could have been much worse, so we tried our best to stay positive!

Home Activities and Projects

Like every other month, February consisted of a lot of staying home and trying to stay busy. There is always a lot of arts and crafts, science, games, and imaginative play. 

One day when Aunt Renata came to visit, she got out some of Ryan’s butcher paper and started creating a board game with Brax. They included Dinosaur Land, Unicorn Island, and more. Once Kinsie came home from school, then she took off with lots of ideas for the game too. The kids loved designing it and playing it!

Home-gameboardHome-gameboard-1

Ryan and I recently watched the Netflix show called “The Queen’s Gambit.” It’s about a young orphan who becomes a prodigy and world champion at chess. I’ve never known how to play chess, and watching this show made me want to learn. Ryan bought a learning version of the game, called “No Stress Chess.” So one day, Ryan started teaching me how to play, and the kids became obsessed…especially Brax! I didn’t think it would interest him much, but he LOVES it, and still asks Ryan to play with him regularly!

Home-Chess

Kinsie is still slowly working through all of the science kits she received for Christmas. Ryan loves doing them with her and teaching her about science along the way. Brax usually joins in on the fun too!

Home-science

One day, Kinsie randomly decided she was going to make vet stations for their stuffed animals. She had a station for checking eye sight and getting glasses, a teeth brushing station, a station to check for ticks, and a station to receive a shot and decorate a bandaid to put on after the shot. She asked Brax and Brody to each pick a stuffed animal to go through the stations with. It was so creative!

Home-VetDay

I have always wanted to collect all of the kids’ drawings and artwork and put them into a book, but I never took the time to do it. Well one day, my sister-in-law sent me a text saying that Shutterfly was having a deal where you could make a book with free unlimited pages. I knew right then, this was the time I finally needed to do it. So I spent the next couple of days organizing the kids’ artwork, scanning it all, and arranging it all into books. I made one book for Brax with artwork from age 2 until now, and I had to make 2 books for Kinsie because she had SO much artwork. Just last spring alone when the pandemic hit, drawing was stress relief for her, so she spent hours a day drawing. Now all of that artwork is displayed in these awesome books rather than tucked away in bins where nobody will see them. I love how they turned out!

Home-artbooks

Since we hardly ever leave the house, Brody often gets bored with his same environment and toys, so I try to switch it up and take him into different rooms. Whenever I have computer work to do, I bring him to the office (which is also the room where he sleeps) and I put him in his pack n play and put toys in with him. The kids always like to get in there with him to play, so of course I had to document it!

Home-crib

Fun at School

Even though this year is very different, the kids are still really enjoying school. I love seeing the different activities and work they bring home from school.

This particular paper Kinsie brought home melted me. She had to write about her superhero, and she wrote about her dad!

School-hero

I love when their schools share photos on social media so I can get a glimpse of their day!

School-Kinsieclass

This month, Brax got to celebrate his 100th day of school! He got to bring in 100 of a snack (he chose M&M’s), and 100 of an item of his choice, as long as it fit in a gallon sized bag. He brought in 100 dinosaurs!

School-100thday

Cousin Sleepover

My parents invited all the cousins (except Brody…he still needs his mama at night!) for a sleepover. It’s reasons like this why, even in the midst of a horrible winter, we are so glad we moved back home!

Cousin_sleepover-2Cousin_sleepover-1

OUTSIDE!!

After the snowstorm week from hell, the sun finally decided to shine again! The temps got up to the mid fifties and it was HEAVEN. Most of the snow melted, and we finally ventured outside and I can’t even tell you how amazing it felt to feel the sun again!

Outside-1Outside-2

Progress on the House

Our house is ALMOST DONE. I’m so excited I can barely think straight. The updates this month were SO fun because we’ve gotten to see it slowly come together to look like the final product. It is so beautiful I could cry.

 

The living room after a fresh coat of paint

House-3

In love with my counter tops!

House-5

The basement!

House-7

Master shower

House-1

Kinsie loves her room!

House-2

Living room

House-8

The upper back porch

House-9

Master bathroom

House-11

Kids’ bathroom

House-12

My amazing kitchen 

House-10

House-13

Ryan and I have had to meet with the guys working on the house every once in a while to discuss things, and Brody is usually along for the ride. One day, we had to go through the house and decide the layout of all the closets. Well I guess we took longer than I expected because Brody ended up falling asleep!

House-Bro

Picnics are a common thing at the house! 

House-picnicHouse-cousinpicnic

Brody is NINE Months!

My baby is only 3 months away from turning one, and I’m not ok with it! Goodness this boy brings us so much joy. He is so sweet, silly, and happy, and he still LOVES his mama. The feeling is mutual, but I don’t necessarily feel the need to hang all over him and chase him around like he does to me.

Brody-9months8Brody-9months9

Brody updates at 9 months –

  • He weighs 19 pounds – 36th percentile
  • He is 28.8 inches tall – 63rd percentile
  • He loves to dance! He has the most precious signature dance that he does whenever he hears music (you can see small snippets of his dance in the 1 Second Everyday video at the end of this post).
  • His favorite food is strawberries. But he still loves most food. And he eats SO fast…like his dad!
  • His two top teeth have broken through and are SO cute.
  • He is “real” crawling now. However, when he wants to get somewhere fast, he still drops down to his belly and army crawls like a beast.
  • He is saying sounds like “da-da,” “ya-ya,” and “ga-ga.” No meaning yet, just cute babbles.
  • His favorite thing to do is pull up on anything he can. He is also starting to get braver and tries to climb up onto things. 
  • His favorite place in the world is his mama’s arms.
  • He looks just like Kinsie did as a baby. I didn’t realize it until I looked back at baby pictures of Kinsie. 
  • He loves discovering his voice, He makes all kinds of cute babbles and squeals constantly.

Brody-9months1

KinsBrody

Brody-9months2Brody-9months4

On Brody’s 9 month birthday, the kids made him cards, and found toys and wrapped them up in paper for him to open as presents. It was precious!

Brody-9monthsbirthday

Matching brother hats

Brody-brohats

Always standing!

Brody-standing

More precious Brody smiles! I could stare at his face all day. I often do.

Brody-faces

Our growing boy!

GrowingBroBrody-9months5Brody-9months6Brody-9months3

Good riddance, February. We’re ready to move on from you. We’re ready for March. We’re ready for spring. We’re ready for warmer weather and more outside time. And we are SO ready to move into our house…SO SOON! Stay tuned…next month is officially move-in month!!

Here is our February 1 Second Everyday…enjoy!