Back Home Again in Indiana

Soon after we moved here, I planned a trip home to Indiana for 2 weeks in September. I knew that Ryan would be on a rotation where we’d barely see him, and I wanted Kinsie to have a special birthday and spend it with family. The plan was for me and the kids to fly to Indy, then later Ryan would drive up for a few days, then we would all drive back together. As it got closer, we realized that Ryan could barely make it work to come at all. He was only able to come to Indy for about 24 hours. We really missed him, but we had a wonderful trip!

The Flight

I was nervous about flying with both kids from the moment I booked the tickets. I planned out everything weeks ahead of time, trying to make the process as smooth as possible. I had movies and TV shows on the iPad, snacks, toys, books…you name it. Luckily, the Little Rock airport is small and never crowded, so checking in and security were a breeze. Once we were on the plane, the kids were happy watching Paw Patrol. (This could keep them occupied for hours at home if I allowed it). After about 20 minutes, Brax was done. He didn’t want to sit on my lap, (which he had to, he isn’t old enough to need a seat of his own), he didn’t want to watch a show, he didn’t want to read books, and even snacks weren’t keeping him happy. I wrestled him most of the flight. Then once the descent started, he was REALLY done. He was screaming and thrashing. Kinsie and I were both trying to make him happy, but he was DONE with this flight. I prayed that the next flight would be better…yes, two flights…unfortunately there’s no direct flights from Little Rock to Indianapolis. Switching planes was quick and easy. I think it was an act of God that on the next flight, there was an empty seat next to me. Brax was happier when he had more to squirm around. That flight went MUCH smoother!

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When we got to the Indianapolis airport, we had some special guests awaiting our arrival! My mom, my sister and her whole family was waiting for us, and we all embraced and cried. The kids were all SO happy to see each other, and we were so happy to have made it!

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Cousin Time 

The kids had some awesome times together during the 2 weeks. The night we came in, Ryan’s aunt had a get-together at her house to welcome us home. The kids had a blast with each other driving around in all the different vehicles. One day, Kinsie got to go have lunch with her cousin Briggs at his elementary school. We also got to go swimming, watch Briggs’ football game, and just hang out at my parents’ house playing. It didn’t matter what they were doing, if they were with their cousins, they were happy!

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Kinsie’s Birthday

Kinsie had a very special birthday. I let her decide what she wanted to do, but it was really hot outside so we were somewhat limited. When she woke up, I took her and Brax to get birthday donuts at Dunkin Donuts. Later, my mom watched Brax so I could take Kinsie to lunch. She chose to go to Cheddar’s because she loves their huge fish tank. After lunch, I took her to Half Priced Books, which she loved. It was SO nice having some time with just her. I love my boy Brax, but he had been super needy lately and Kinsie had to fend for herself for quite some time because Brax was constantly needing me, so it was nice to get to focus on her. Later in the evening, our family all came over to have a small party for her. She loved her Paw Patrol presents and her ice cream cake. We did FaceTime with Ryan so he could be a part of the fun. He even found a way to be in the birthday picture!

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Visit to Purdue

Ryan’s brother Nate started his freshman year at Purdue in August. We wanted to visit him at school during our visit, even if it was at Purdue! We got to see his dorm (which was covered in pictures of Kinsie and Brax), walked around campus a little and had lunch. It was a great day and it was so good to see our Nate! I am still so blown away by how much Kinsie looks and acts like him when he was that age. Maybe that’s why they have such a special bond!

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Dress-up Parties

Kinsie spent some time with Aunt Renata during our visit, and Renata had lots of costumes in her basement that Kinsie wanted to try on, and it started a trend for the rest of the trip. She became obsessed with dressing up! Her favorite costume was the Buzz Lightyear costume…she spent a lot of time in it and even had her cousins wearing it too!

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Haircuts

I took the kids to Ryan’s cousin Jess to get their haircuts. Kinsie did great and loved getting her hair washed, cut and braided. Brax was a different story! We had to find some creative ways to get him to sit still. He had suckers, sat on my lap, watched Mickey Mouse on my phone, and Jess had to chase him around the salon to get the job done! It was quite an adventure that left me sweating and exhausted, but the kids looked great with their new haircuts!

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Lake Time

We spent a few days at our favorite place, Heritage Lake. We did lots of cubby rides, sidewalk chalk, took several boat rides, went fishing, and played at the playground at the marina.

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Ryan finally was able to drive up to Indiana with the dogs on Saturday, we were SO excited to see him after not seeing him for 2 weeks!

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Paw Patrol Party

We ended our trip with a birthday party for Kinsie at the lake. Ryan was able to make it for the party, so at least he could be a part of one of the birthday celebrations. We had a family party with a Paw Patrol theme, and like usual, our families were a huge help in making the party successful!

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The kids all had a great time with the piñata! Kinsie of course also loved opening her presents and the other kids loved watching and playing with all her new toys.

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We took the kids on a boat ride, and to say it was chaotic would be an understatement! The kids weren’t bad or misbehaving at all…just excited and hyper. I don’t think there were any free adult hands at any point during the ride. The kids all took turns driving the boat, and running from one side to another, trying on as many life jackets as they could, and just being goofballs together.

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We loved having Daddy in the flesh for this birthday celebration! Notice the lovely birthday banner in the background…thanks to Aunt Megan! Also the weather couldn’t have been more perfect!

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We left that evening around 6:30pm, and got home around 3am. Ryan had to be somewhere for work at 8am the next day, so we took turns driving and resting. The kids did pretty well, sleeping most of the way. We spent the whole next day recovering from the drive, relaxing at home and playing with all of Kinsie’s new presents. It was a fantastic trip. We all really needed this time at home with our families, and we left with our love tanks full!

Dancing in September

September was SO busy, but we loved it! The last three months since we moved to Arkansas have kind of dragged on because we didn’t have a whole lot going on (well, Ryan did, but the kids and I didn’t). Ryan was on his Trauma rotation, which was rough. 12-14 hour shifts with maybe one day a week off. Luckily, the kids and I stayed busy which helped us deal with it. Kinsie started school, we had soccer practices and games, we had a visit from some family, and we visited our home in Indiana for 2 weeks…it was a great month!

Kinsie Starts School

We’ve been anxiously awaiting for this for a while now. As soon as we found out where we were moving, I started researching preschools. I wanted Kinsie to have a great experience like she did in Indy. I loved the Christian environment she was in there, and how much the teachers loved on her and really got to know her. After lots of research and referrals, we found the school for her. It is very similar to her last school, and we absolutely love it. Before school started, we went to an open house where she could meet her teacher and see her classroom, the kids loved running around the room and rolling on the beanbags! Kinsie has done wonderful there! Every day she tells me EVERYTHING about her day, and she is always excited to go back the next day. I also love how the school has a private Facebook group where they post pictures throughout the day so the parents can see what they are doing. This has been such a positive experience and has really helped Kinsie adjust and meet kids her age!

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Kinsie goes to school 3 days a week, so that leaves Brax and I for some special time together. He definitely misses Kinsie, but he enjoys just having some mommy time too!

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Labor Day Weekend

For Labor Day weekend, Ryan’s sister Megan and her husband came to visit. This was crucial for my sanity, as I was missing home SO much at this point. I really really needed to see some family. Ryan had one day of the weekend off, so he got to help us show them around our area. We went to the Farmer’s Market, the rock park, and ate lunch at the River Market. We also visited the Old Mill, a really neat little park that was featured in Gone with the Wind. The next day, Ryan had to work but I took Megan, Tim and the kids to the zoo. It was a hot, but fun day! We LOVED their visit. It was so nice to be around familiar faces again and be around other people we love.

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Petit Jean State Park

Whenever Ryan has a day off, we always try to take advantage of it and do something fun. There are so many amazing parks in Arkansas and we are slowly getting to explore them. One park that some friends told us about was about an hour away, but was incredible! There were tons of hiking trails, camping areas, a waterfall, and lots of beautiful scenery. We went on a 2 mile hike to see the waterfall. Kinsie was an absolute CHAMP and walked almost the whole time. On the way back, she tripped and fell and needed a little break, so Ryan carried her for about 5 minutes, but other than that, she hiked by herself…and it was no easy hike! Brax wanted to be big time like his sis and he wanted to hike by himself too…but that wasn’t really possible with how strenuous the hike was. Ryan helped him walk some of the way, but eventually we just made him suck it up and ride in the backpack. Once we got to the waterfall, we climbed up behind it and just hung out for a while behind the waterfall. It was amazing! It was a great experience that we definitely want to do again.

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Soccer

On my last post, I was a bit disappointed in the soccer program that Kinsie is in. Well, its still unorganized, but it’s gotten better! It turns out her coach is her teacher’s husband, so that helped make a connection and the coach really took more of an interest in her. She is really having fun too, which is the most important part! Ryan sometimes can make it to practice, and usually can come to the games. Brax loves watching and cheering on his sis…and giving Daddy kisses!

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Gymnastics Day

We joined a “Mommy and Me” group when we moved here, and try to attend the events whenever we can. Our favorite has been the Gymnastics day. As I’m sure you remember, Kinsie LOVED the gymnastics classes she took in Indy. She was in HEAVEN at this place. She was sprinting around the place as fast as she could doing every activity possible. Brax of course tried to keep up, and he had a great time too!

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Visit to Indiana

This was definitely the highlight of our month. This was a MUCH needed trip. I was craving my family and it was so good to spend time with them again. We had an amazing 2 weeks and did SO much. We did so much in fact, that our trip to Indiana will be its own blog post…so stay tuned! The kids loved seeing their grandparents and all their cousins. They were sad to leave them, but ready to be home and back to our routine. Luckily we’ll get to see them again in the next few weeks.

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Kinsie’s Birthday

I’ll cover this more in my next post, but my girl had a GREAT 4th birthday in Indiana. She had a very special day, and was so happy to spend it with our families. We also had a small party for her at her favorite place, the lake. We were sad that Daddy couldn’t be with us on her birthday, but he still found a way to be with us in a different way!

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September definitely kept us busy, but we needed it. So many positive things happened, which is helping keep our spirits up even on tough days. Arkansas is starting to feel more and more like home, and even though we miss everyone, we are finding ways to deal with that (Facetime is essential!) I know that the next few months will be busy, but I am really looking forward to it. October is always one of my favorite months, and we are excited to do our usual fall traditions in a new place. Stay tuned for our Indiana post coming soon!

August Adventures

We are continuing to make strides in the process of getting settled in our new home in Little Rock. Some days are easier than others for sure, but we are making the best of it. This month, Ryan worked mostly evening or night shifts…so he would either work from 3pm-1am or 9pm-7am. This was harder on me than I expected. We were on complete opposite schedules. We would see him for about 30 minutes in the morning before he went to sleep, and for maybe 2 hours in the evening between him waking up and going back to work. We are always grateful for the time we have with him, but its hard putting the kids to bed by myself on evening shift nights, and going to bed alone every night. Once the kids went to bed was usually the time that we finally got to relax and enjoy each other’s company without children climbing all over us and demanding our attention. Even though we barely spent any time together this month, we found creative ways of showing each other love!

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I went through a funk this month because of all the time I spent alone, but I also was reminded to rely on my faith to get through difficult times. Throughout the last couple of weeks, I can feel Jesus working on my heart and helping me become more content in my circumstances.

It is still pretty darn humid here in Arkansas, so we’ve continued to try to stay busy and cool this month! Ryan had about one day a week off, so we would always try to do something fun as a family on those days. Here are some of the things we did this past month!

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

The Library system in Central Arkansas has a program called “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” I entered Kinsie into this program since she loves reading and I’m trying to teach her about setting goals. We started the program at the end of July, and she has already hit the 200 mark! Every time she fills a sheet, she gets so excited to turn it in and get her next sticker!

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Staying Home

Let’s face it…sometimes it’s just easier to stay home. We still try to get out of the house at least once a day for all of our sanity, but honestly, the kids are usually pretty content to stay home and play!

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Play dough fun…Brax was upset that he couldn’t eat it at first, but he got over it!

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Playing in the fort that Daddy helped them build

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Chocolate pudding night!

Play Dates and Outings

About once a week, we’ve been getting together with some of the other residents’ wives and kids for a play date. I have gotten pretty close with a few of them, and I am so grateful that they include me every time they go out. This has helped my sanity being with other adults throughout the day, and the kids love having other kids to play with. This has also helped us get out and about more and find new places to explore.

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Play places and crafts

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“Baking” at the Children’s Library

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Donut date with mom!

Outside Play

We haven’t gotten out as much as we all would have liked because of the heat, but it’s slowly getting better. Whenever we find a day that we can actually breathe outside, we take advantage! We found the cutest little play house for a bargain at Walmart, so the kids have been all about that lately. We also love making our way to the park by our house whenever we can.

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Pinnacle Mountain State Park Nature Center

Pinnacle Mountain was one of our favorite things about Little Rock when Ryan and I first visited. We haven’t taken the kids up the mountain yet since its been too hot, but someday we definitely want to. Every time we drive and see the mountain, Kinsie tells us she wants to hike up the mountain! In the mean time, we just visit the Nature Center there. On one of Ryan’s days off, they were having special presentations and activities dealing with amphibians and reptiles, some of Kinsie’s faves. The kids loved the view and learning about animals.

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Having S’more Fun!

Kinsie has been asking to do s’mores for MONTHS now. We had a small fire pit at the old house but didn’t bring it with us, so we had to find a new one for a good deal first. Once we found one, and bought some firewood, we had to wait for an evening that Ryan was off. For the longest time, every time he had an evening off, it was pouring down rain. We FINALLY got the opportunity and the kids were pumped! Kinsie bought a new shirt at Bass Pro Shops that says “Have S’more Fun,” so she couldn’t wait to make s’mores with her new shirt. The kids “helped” make the fire, and then got busy roasting marshmallows. Brax was OBSESSED with the fire…so much so that one of us had to hold him to keep him away from the fire THE WHOLE TIME. Once he shared a s’more with dad though, he was good!

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Solar Eclipse Day

Ryan has been excited about this day for far too long! My science nerd husband bought the glasses and special solar binoculars months ago. He was THRILLED to learn that he had that day off…the odds were definitely in his favor! We went to the Big Dam Bridge for the event. Brax obviously didn’t know what was going on, but he had fun running around the bridge. Kinsie thought it was pretty cool and loved looking at the eclipse with her glasses. I brought toys and books for the kids to keep them entertained while we were there and even though it cut into Brax’s nap time, it was well worth it and the kids did great! It was such a neat experience for all of us!

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Little Rock Zoo

Ryan had a couple days off last week before starting his next rotation, so we spent a day at the zoo. The weather was surprisingly perfect. The kids especially loved the gorillas, the elephants, the train ride, the petting zoo and the penguins. We had a great family day!

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First Soccer Practice

Kinsie had her first soccer practice this week, and it was….interesting I guess? Kinsie said she had fun, but practice was run very differently than what we are used to. They had ALL the kids in her age level in the same practice with only 2 coaches. Eventually they split the kids up and did a few drills and a scrimmage and once they did that, Kinsie was in her element. Ryan just started his very busy rotation and is working 12-14 hour shifts, so I had both kids at practice and was trying to help Kinsie know what to do amidst the chaos, and chase after Brax at the same time! It was chaotic, and a bit stressful, and I am hoping the organization of practices improves. Kinsie still had fun and played well, so I guess that’s all that matters. I am hopeful that she’ll meet some friends and enjoy her soccer season like she has in the past!

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That was our month in a nut shell. Kinsie starts preschool after Labor Day, so that will be exciting and should keep us busy. She’s super excited to start school, and I am very hopeful that we will love the preschool we picked out. Ryan just started a tough rotation, so we won’t be seeing much of him again. The last two weeks of September, the kids and I will fly to Indiana for a couple of weeks and spend Kinsie’s birthday with our families. I am aching to see our families again…that is by far the hardest part about being here. From seeing them several times a week to every other month or less has been very difficult. This two weeks at home will be good for all of us and we are all looking forward to it. Like I said before, we are slowly making progress with this adjustment. God is helping me through my own personal challenges with this big change, and I can feel him working on my heart every day. I am hopeful that time will help us continue to adjust.

Scorching Summer Days in July

We have survived our first full month living in the south, and MY GOODNESS is it hot here! I honestly wasn’t expecting the intensity of this heat when we moved…I assumed it would be similar to Indiana since the humidity there is difficult to bare in the summer too. Indiana’s heat has NOTHING on Arkansas! Believe it or not, our bodies are adjusting. As long as our air conditioning is working, (which is wasn’t for a full day, could have been longer if I hadn’t kept bugging AC companies…but it was a very long and hot 24 hours), then we are able to find ways to keep busy and cool. Ryan finished his orientation month at the hospital, and is now is working mostly night shifts, but we take advantage of the time we have with him to still get out and find fun things to do as a family. We had visitors, and a trip to Chicago during July as well. Enjoy the highlights of our month!

Little Rock Zoo

Early in the month, we took the kids to their first trip to the Little Rock Zoo. We only had one opportunity to go with Ryan’s work schedule, so we decided to go rain or shine. Well, it rained…pretty hard for about 30 minutes. The kids were troopers with their umbrellas, and we did all the indoor activities for a while until the rain stopped. Once it did, it was perfect! The temperature was perfect, the animals were active and there were no crowds. We all loved it!

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4th of July

Luckily, Ryan did not have to work on the 4th of July, so we had him all day and night for 4th of July fun. This was CRUCIAL because this started out as a rough day for me. We always spent this day with both of our families, and it was killing me that we weren’t at the lake with them like we were every year before this. However, the four of us had each other, and we ended up having a really great day. The town we live in has a 4th of July parade and some activities by the lake that is right by our house. The kids absolutely loved the parade! After dinner, we took the wagon down to the lake where there were bounce houses, food vendors, a band, and fireworks. We all had such a great time. The kids were SO happy and absolutely loved every second of it…especially the fireworks. Brax laughed hysterically throughout the entire firework show. It was such a great family day and night that we will never forget!

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Outside Play

Some days, we just couldn’t do it. Even Kinsie, who LOVES being outside, often wants to stay inside because of the heat. However, most days we need to get out of the house, so if we do, we find ways to stay cool. There have been a lot of water table, sprinkler, pool and splash pad days throughout the last month. We have done a few wagon rides and days at the park, but we try to keep those trips earlier in the day before the heat hits us hard!

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A Visit from Cousins

We were SO excited to have my parents and my sister’s family come visit us this month! Kinsie and Brax were absolutely giddy. During their visit, we went to the Farmer’s Market downtown, played at the rock park and the splash pad, went fishing, and got family pictures taken at the lake. It was so refreshing to spend time with my people again. The kids all had so much fun together and made many wonderful memories!

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Kinsie visits Indiana

After my family visited, Kinsie rode back to Indiana with my parents and spent the week with Grandma Bev. Of course she didn’t object since she hadn’t seen her in a month! We would head to Chicago for a wedding the next weekend anyway, so it worked out perfectly.  Kinsie had an awesome week back at home! She went shopping, played at the park with some of her cousins, had a cousin sleepover, and went to the fair. Ryan, Brax and I missed her like crazy, but we loved seeing how much fun she was having and knew our families needed it!

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Chicago Wedding

Our very good hometown friend Eric got married in Chicago this month! Ryan was a groomsman and Kinsie was the flower girl. Kinsie went to Chicago on Friday with Bev and had a great time at the rehearsal dinner. Ryan had to work until Friday afternoon, so he and I drove from Little Rock to Chicago once he got off work. We arrived in Chicago around 3:30am on Saturday morning. Although we were running on little sleep, we had a great trip! We spent the whole day before the wedding primping Kinsie for the wedding. I curled her hair and painted her nails…she loved it! She was an absolute ROCKSTAR at the wedding. I had so many people tell me how great did she and how beautiful she looked. She and the ring bearer were the only kids at the wedding, so they bonded. Kinsie adored him, and he was so sweet to her! In between the wedding and the reception, Bev and Tim walked around the Lincoln Park Zoo (where the wedding was held) with them. Once the dancing at the reception started, we couldn’t get our little party animal to stop! She had so much fun twirling around, tossing her flowers up in the air, taking pictures in the photo booth and dancing with everyone. It was a beautiful wedding and we all had a wonderful time. We flew back to Little Rock the next morning. Thankfully, Aunt Renata and Dean drove down to Arkansas to visit us during this time and stayed at our house to watch Brax and the dogs while we were gone. This helped us SO much to not have to travel with a one year old when he wasn’t even going to the wedding. Once we got back, Brax and Kinsie were so happy to be reunited after a long week apart!

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Family Fishing

One morning, we took the kids down to the lake to go fishing. We all had the best time and did pretty well! Kinsie caught 2 small blue gill, I caught 2 catfish and Ryan caught a big bass. The kids loved playing with all the fish and chasing each other around the dock. We will definitely have many more family fishing trips in our future here!

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Other Random Fun

When the heat is too much, we have to find indoor activities to do. We’ve gone to Walmart or Target and wandered around playing with all the toys, made cookies, gone to the library, and met up with other residents’ wives and kids for playdates about once a week.

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Also, a big milestone happened this month…Brax is finally walking! He was an early crawler, so we figured he would start walking before he turned one. This was not the case…in fact he was completely uninterested in walking for months. Finally around the beginning of July, he would randomly get up and take a few steps without being prompted. Whenever we tried to get him to walk, he wouldn’t do it…only when he thought nobody was looking. This video was when he finally started taking more steps at a time, but if you saw him now, you’d think he’d been walking for months! He is EVERYWHERE now! He barely ever sits down. He even walks around while drinking his milk before bed or while having a snack. Once he started, he never wanted to stop!

So, it was actually a pretty busy month! We are starting to get comfortable here and it is feeling more and more like home. It is still so hard being away from everything and everyone that was so familiar to us in Indiana. We take it day by day and try to stay busy and explore and meet people as often as we can. We are learning not only to accept our new life here, but to embrace it. We still have rough days no doubt, but we are having less of them as time goes on.

Let the Adventure Begin!

The journey to Little Rock that we’ve been anticipating for months now is in full swing. We spent countless hours physically and mentally preparing for this change, and while the physical move is complete, we are still working on the mental and emotional part of being in a new place. But I’ll back up for a minute and talk about the whole moving process…

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The kids have been absolute champs throughout this process. It definitely wasn’t easy trying to pack an entire house with two little ones, so they made the process pretty interesting. They loved playing with boxes and playing hide and seek on the truck!

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While we spent the majority of our time packing, we had to take breaks here and there to entertain the kids, and to keep our sanity!

Brax’s First Haircut

One of our packing breaks consisted of Brax’s first haircut. We really wanted to get his hair cut before we moved, mainly so that Ryan’s cousin Jess could be the one to do it. Kinsie got hers cut too, and she loved being a role model for Brax so he wouldn’t be scared. He was still a little nervous, but he did great!

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Trip to the Zoo

We definitely could not have gotten through the moving process without the help of our families. Not only did they help us pack, load the truck, unpack, and more…they took turns watching the kids so that Ryan and I could actually have productive packing time. This was probably the most helpful thing anyone could do because we got SO much done when the kids weren’t there. Grandma Bev and Aunt Megan took the kids to the zoo one day and met up with some of their cousins, and they had an absolute blast!

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Family Hike

Ryan and I also wanted to do some family activities when we weren’t packing, so we decided to go on a family hike at Eagle Creek Park. We had so much fun, and saw lots of fun things like raccoons, frogs, turtles, snakes and fish. It was much-needed quality family time!

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Summer Cousin Fun

The kids absolutely adore all of their cousins, so we tried to fit in as much cousin time as possible before we left. They got to swim, play in sprinklers, go to birthday parties, and more. This was really important to me that they weren’t missing out on summer fun through the chaos of moving.

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Full House

We were SO grateful that my parents, Ryan’s parents, and Ryan’s siblings drove all the way down to Arkansas to help us move. And they were all SO helpful. My parents drove with me and the kids…which was crucial to help me entertain my 2 energetic toddlers through a 10 hour car ride, Ryan and Nate drove the UHAUL, Megan and her husband Tim drove Ryan’s truck, which included a trailer, the fish tank, all the fish, AND our 2 dogs, and Bev and Tim drove the next day once Tim came home from a work trip. They all stayed for about 5 days, and it is unbelievable the amount we accomplished in that time. We unloaded everything, unpacked and organized almost everything, stripped the wallpaper in the kitchen and bathroom, then painted the kitchen and bathroom, all while helping entertain the kids! We also did a little exploring of the town during our breaks too. They were all troopers sitting on the floor to eat meals, and sleeping in sleeping bags and air mattresses, and helping us with tasks that weren’t necessarily fun or easy. (Just ask Megan and Nate about their experience stripping the wallpaper in the bathroom!) I can’t even explain how grateful I am for all the help we got from the people we love!

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Stripping wallpaper, eating on the floor and snacks in the playpen…oh, the joys of moving!

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Our Father’s Day consisted of another chaotic day of moving! At least this guy is so laid back that all he cared about was spending time with his babies on his special day!

 

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The kids are loving their new rooms, and especially their new playroom!

 

Exploring Arkansas

In between unpacking, we’ve tried to spend time exploring our new home. Ryan was in full swing of his orientation month, so he was often gone all day, so the kids and I would explore alone as much as I felt comfortable. We have a little park and lake very close to our house, so we have spent a lot of time there. However, it has been VERY hot and humid here this summer, so we’ve also had to be creative on ways to keep cool.

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Loving our time at Lake Willastein!

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Walking on the Big Dam Bridge…one of our favorite spots in Little Rock

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Lots of outside fun…trying to keep cool!

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Watching the ducks at the lake

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Strolling through the neighborhood is a daily activity!

Kinsie and I have done some special projects together since we’ve been here too. While Brax is napping, we try to find little crafts or projects to do together. We painted, made colored ice, made super slime, and made cookies!

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Our month of June was SO busy, but very exciting with a huge life change that we are still adjusting to. Ryan just started his official EM shifts, and he is absolutely loving it. The kids and I are getting used to our new home and trying to meet people and find our niche here. It definitely isn’t easy, and we have had some very difficult days in the last 2 weeks. Kinsie and I have cried together because we miss our families so much. The kids are both dealing with the changes in their own way, but overall they have been wonderful and my saving grace since Ryan is often not around. The kids have kept me busy, and have forced me to get out of my comfort zone and explore and try to meet people. Our roots were so deep in Indiana since I lived there my entire life, so completely uprooting and relocating somewhere unfamiliar has been extremely challenging. However, I LOVE the area we are in. Our neighbors are fantastic and welcoming, and we have met some families through Ryan’s residency that have been very helpful as well, so we are slowly getting there! Deep down, I have known since we visited in February that this is where we were meant to be. When we visited, I had an inner peace about being here that could have only come from God, so I know it isn’t a mistake that we are here, and I know it will all be ok. With the support of God, our families, and the community we are building here in Arkansas, we will make it through and thrive on this journey.

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Our old house and our new house…

I moved in to our house in Indiana with Ryan when we got married in June 2012, and it was a perfect little house for a newly married couple. We lived comfortably there just the two of us and the dogs, then eventually added 2 babies into the mix, and filled the house (literally) with toys and memories. That house will always have a special place in my heart, but we were definitely ready to move on! We LOVE our new house, and don’t know what to do with all the space! I will post more pictures of the house once we make a few more updates. Stay tuned to continue following our adventures in our new home!

Our Month of MAY-hem

Wow…we had SO much happening in the month of May. It seemed to fly by, but then again, it seems like the beginning of the month was a year ago. We had lots of fun, and were also very busy this month, so brace yourself for pictures galore!

Brax’s First Birthday

Brax turned one on May 2, and while we already had his Lumberjack party a few days earlier, we still had to do something for our boy’s special day. He received an Orange Leaf gift card as one of his birthday gifts, so we took him for his first frozen yogurt experience. He loved it, and of course, Kinsie didn’t mind it either!

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Kinsie and Mommy’s Day of Fun

Any fans of the show “Friends” out there? Well just like Joey and Janice, Kinsie and I had a special day together this month. Her school had a Mother’s Day Lunch on a Friday morning, so I took the morning off to go with her. We had a great lunch together at her school, then I had to get ready to leave and head to work. Her brown eyes had big ol’ crocodile tears in them when I told her I had to leave…so I thought about it, and since it was nearing the end of the school year (my students checked out LONG before this anyway), and the rest of the afternoon at school was our PTO Walk-a-thon, I thought, what the heck, I’ll bring her along! We had a great day together! She loved playing on the playground, silent reading time, and being my little helper at school. My students LOVED having her there, and they were great with her. It was a much-needed Mommy and Kinsie day.

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Dr. Matthews

It’s official…he’s a doctor now! After 4 very long years of medical school, my husband is now an MD. Two years of living in different cities with a newborn baby, two years of countless rotations with long and crazy hours, throwing another baby in the mix and surviving on a teacher’s salary…and we made it! I know we still have a long road ahead as he starts his residency, but we have come so far. We did it as a team, and that’s how we will continue our journey.

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First Swim of the Season

This usually happens WAY sooner, but it has been a crazy April and May. Lots and lots and lots of rain and below 50 degree temps. But a few weeks into May, we finally got these kids in the pool! Kinsie did her happy dance all around the pool, and Brax splashed and giggled and did his happy shout the whole time!

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Lake Time

Ahh, the lake. Our favorite. Our happy place. We have spent two weekends at the lake this month…we are trying to soak in as much lake time as we can before we move. We spent all of Mother’s Day there, and Memorial Day weekend. We have our staple activities that we always do while we visit…including lots of fishing, golf cart rides to the playground at the Marina, and lots of boat rides. This last trip even including Brax’s first time on the paddle boat, and both kids took turns driving the boat. Both of the kids (and the adults) are SO happy while we are at the lake. We all drag our feet when it’s time to leave and head back home. It really is all of our happy place.

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Outside Fun

We haven’t had quite as much outside time as you would think for the month of May, but the few times it has been nice enough, we try to get the kids outside. Even if we don’t want to, they drag us out. They have enjoyed wagon rides, playing t-ball, family bike rides, and running around in the backyard finding frogs and other critters.

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Soccer

Kinsie loved her soccer season! She absolutely loved playing with her cousins, and getting a snack ticket after every game. She improved SO much this season. She became more competitive and aggressive…all she needs is a little bit of speed and she’ll be a soccer star! Whether it was raining, freezing, windy, or sunny (I think this only happened twice), the kids were troopers and had a great season. They always had a great fan club too!

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Some “Lasts”

Within one week, Kinsie had her last gymnastics class, her last soccer game and her last day of preschool. All of these lasts weren’t just for the season, but her last doing all of these things in our current home of Indiana. She had such great experiences for all of these things, especially her preschool. We were so sad for her to leave this school, we really loved it there. She loved her teachers and her friends, but she is very open-minded about finding a new preschool and new friends (we’re hoping her optimism rubs off on her mama a bit). We were so lucky that she had all of these great opportunities to help her learn and grow, and we know we will get other fun opportunities in our new home.

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Last week was a tough one, because I had to say goodbye to a job that I love. I packed up my classroom, turned in my keys, and said “see you later” to some amazing fellow teachers that have become my best friends. I taught in this community for 5 years, and while it often completely drained me, it was so fulfilling. Even though I won’t be teaching at this school anymore, I feel in my heart that my teaching career is far from over.

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That just about wraps up our month. It was busy, crazy, exhausting, but amazing. We are counting down the days to our big move, which is happening in a couple of weeks. While we can barely walk through our house because of moving boxes everywhere, we are still trying to relax, soak it all in and enjoy our time with our families and friends before we pick up and move our lives to Little Rock.

Our April

April seemed to fly by! We stayed pretty busy between soccer, gymnastics, planning for Brax’s party, work, and just the everyday grind. We are enjoying our last few months in Indiana and spending as much time with family as we can. Here are the highlights of our April…

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We are loving Kinsie’s soccer season. It has been very odd weather on game days…either freezing or pouring down rain, and ONE nice Saturday so far! Kinsie loves playing with her cousins and she continues to get better every week!

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The boys cousins watching the girls

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Easter

Easter weekend is one of my all-time favorite weekends of the year. I love spending time with family and doing Easter egg hunts with the kids, but I mostly love what Easter represents. As Kinsie gets older each year, I try to teach her a little more of the details about why we celebrate Easter (and Christmas). Last year, she knew that we celebrated Easter because “Jesus Loves us.” This year I took it a step further and taught her that we celebrate Easter because “Jesus died and came back to life.” She understood this, and seemed amazed by it…so I accomplished my goal! We had an amazing weekend including time at Ryan’s aunt’s house with all his aunts, uncles and cousins, Sunday Easter service, an Easter bunny visit, multiple Easter egg hunts, and time with all the people we love.

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Showing off their gifts from the Easter bunny

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A visit from the Bunny…Brax loved it! Kinsie was a little unsure…

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Crazy kids getting ready for their egg hunt

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Bradford Woods

One of the highlights of my school year is our annual trip to Bradford Woods with the entire 5th grade. This field trip takes planning all year, but it is so worth it. While I hated being away from Ryan and my babies for 3 days, I love getting to spend time with my students in an awesome environment. I love seeing the students in a different light. The students who have the hardest time at school sitting at a desk all day thrive at Bradford Woods. This trip was especially important to me because it was my last one. I will truly miss this tradition, and I will truly miss my fellow teachers with whom I’ve gotten to share the experience.

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Brax’s Birthday Party

We had our sweet boy’s FIRST birthday party on Saturday! We had a “Wild One” lumberjack theme, and he had the BEST time. I will have a separate post with more details and pictures about the party soon!

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And just like that…it’s May! The coming months are going to be an absolute whirlwind for us, so hopefully I can keep up and remember to breathe and enjoy the ride!