June flew by quicker than I anticipated. Summer didn’t seem like it really started until mid-June because of sickness, vacation, and baseball. But it was a great month, and now we are in the full swing of summer. Here is a recap of our June.
Anniversary Trip to St. Thomas
Ryan and I have been married for 10 years! Our decade together hasn’t exactly been a cake walk with Ryan’s long and grueling medical training journey, but we came out stronger through all of it. To celebrate, we took our first extended vacation together since our honeymoon…to the Virgin Islands!
The view from our balcony
We did TONS of sightseeing and exploring. The views everywhere were absolutely breathtaking!
One day we visited Coral World, where we got to swim with dolphins. This was definitely a highlight of our trip!
We probably spent the majority of our week snorkeling in the beautiful bays of the islands. We saw SO many amazing fish and coral, both on St. Thomas and on St. John. A few of our favorite things we saw included sea turtles, Caribbean reef squid, sting rays, barracudas, and parrot fish. Between the two islands, we snorkeled in 14 different bays! To see more of our pictures, check out the Youtube link below.
We loved getting to spend so much quality time together. We don’t get to relax much in our everyday lives, so we enjoyed living on island time and eating delicious seafood and drinking painkillers and banana daiquiris every day.
After 10 years, he’s still the one I love!
We got a new underwater camera before our trip, and we took some amazing photos and videos while snorkeling. Check it out in the video below.
While we were gone, the kids stayed with Grandma Bev and Papa Tim. They had a blast! They had lots of fun at the lake and spent time with their cousin Griffin.
Ryan and I had to miss a couple of the kids’ games, but they still had plenty of representation! My parents were watching my sister’s kids while they were also on vacation, so they came to see the kids play in their games. Brax even got the game ball when they came!
Evie got to have cousin fun too! She got to spend a couple nights at Nate and Kendyl’s house with her cousin Alfie! They were best buddies and spent lots of time playing and snuggling together! We were so grateful for our tribe for taking such good care of our babies so we could enjoy our vacation together!
End of Softball and Baseball Season
The kids had an awesome season! We loved seeing Kinsie make tons of improvement from last year when she started. She ended her season with a bang and got another game ball…which her cousins were there to see!
Brody was sad to see baseball season end…mainly because that meant he couldn’t get as much popcorn and slushies from the concession stand anymore!
We were also so proud of Brax for his first season of baseball! He did so great and had so much fun. His team got regular season runners up, and he also ended his season with another game ball!
At the beginning of summer vacation, we couldn’t go anywhere because we were in quarantine from Covid. Then as soon as we were all out of quarantine, Ryan and I went on our trip. So FINALLY one I was home, we could go explore!
We went on walks on the trail
We went to the park for a play date
We’ve taken rides in Daddy’s Jeep
Another park day…
And we’ve gone to the library a few times!
Stay tuned for more summer adventures in July!
We’re still trucking along with our outside hours. We are usually averaging around 3 hours a day…but sometimes we get up to 9 or 10 hours in one day! The majority of the hours we got this month was at house doing water activities. We bought a new kiddie pool and it is the BEST. Every other pool we had popped or broke after a few uses, but this one is much more durable. The kids have also been enjoying using the sprinkler under the trampoline. Our water toys keep the kids busy for hours!
We also take Evie on walks whenever we get the chance to help get some of her energy out.
The trampoline and sprinkler have been a huge hit!
Another summer tradition has included making s’mores on our new fire pit! Brody mainly loves the marshmallows, and he will keep trying to sneak more when he thinks we aren’t looking!
The kids always find something fun to do outside!
One night, we let the kids go out to the backyard to catch fireflies. We have the perfect yard for it since we have woods behind us and open lots next to us. They loved it!
Swimming at Yaya’s
We always try to find time to go swimming at Papa and Yaya’s. The kids still had softball and baseball throughout most of the month, so it was harder to find the time to go, but we squeezed in a few trips. I’m sure we’ll have more in July.
Unfortunately, having a fearless, adventurous little toddler has its downside. Brody took a spill on his little bike and knocked out his front tooth. It was pretty traumatic to see my baby bleeding and in so much pain, but it could have been much worse. His tooth was knocked clean out, root and all and he had a fat lip and some scratches on his face, but after a popsicle and some medicine, he recovered pretty quickly.
He was acting like his silly self again by the next afternoon. I was sad that his little smile wouldn’t be the same, but I’ve learned to love his precious new look!
At the end of the month, we lost someone very near and dear to our family. My brother-in-law’s dad, Don, joined his beautiful wife Diane in heaven. I’ve known Don since I was in high school, and he has always been such a special part of our lives. He was the best Pops to my sister’s kids, and treated my kids as his own as well. He was such a special man, and I feel so blessed that I was able to call him family.
We ended our month spending lots of time with family, which wasn’t under the best circumstances, but definitely needed through the heartache of losing Don. My kids loved getting to be there for their cousins and making them smile during a difficult time. Now we are looking forward to July…hopefully having more fun summer adventures before the kids start school in August.
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.
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!
The kids loved the area where you can feed the birds and they climb all over you. Even Brody tried to grab the birds!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
Enjoying the outdoors whenever they can!
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!
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!)
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
We all sang “Happy Birthday,” and dug into the cake and ice cream. Brody got his own special smash cake!
Of course we all had to be dressed in our dinosaur gear!
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!
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!
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.
After Ryan dropped the kids off at school, he stopped to get Brody his first official birthday donut. He was a big fan!
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!
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 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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
They have used it as a couch, a fort, a slide, and a climbing ramp. I think Brody may love it the most!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
And now August, a.k.a. the hottest month of the year in Arkansas, is finally over. We are somewhat grateful that this is the last August that we’ll be living here. Like I’ve said before, all of the other seasons in Arkansas are great, but we struggle in summer. This August in particular seemed especially brutal. It was rare that we had a day where the heat index wasn’t above 100 degrees. We are craving fall weather and everything that comes with it. Who knows if we’ll actually get cooler temperatures yet or if they won’t show up until October, but at this point, anything below 90 is considered pleasant!
Lots of exiting milestones and adventures in August! The biggest thing was Kinsie starting Kindergarten!! But I’ll get to that in a minute. With Kinsie in school and Brax not starting until after Labor Day, we’ve had to get creative on how to stay occupied when it’s too hot to go outside. We had lots of little adventures and enjoyed our time together.
Here is the recap of our August…
The Weekend Before Kindergarten
During the month of August, Ryan was on a teaching rotation, where he spent his shifts teaching medical students. He had fewer and shorter shifts, and he got to pick when they were…so he had the weekends off. It was amazing! We wanted to have a fun family weekend before Kinsie started school, and we let her pick what she wanted to do (within reason of course). First, she chose to go to downtown Little Rock. We went to the Farmer’s Market, and played for a while at their favorite rock park.
We also took a trolley ride around the city. The kids love doing this, and it’s free…win win!
In the afternoon, the kids wanted to play in the yard. They played in their inflatable pool, sprayed each other with the hose, played with water balloons, and more.
The next morning, we went to church, then Kinsie wanted to have lunch at the train restaurant, All Aboard. We had a great family weekend, and we were lucky that Ryan was able to join us for all of it!
Kinsie Starts Kindergarten
Kinsie has been aching to go to school for a while now. She was SO excited to start Kindergarten! It definitely did not disappoint for her, she has loved every second of it!
Brax misses Kinsie while she’s at school. He always hugs and kisses all over her (as you can see in the picture below).
The biggest adjustment for Kinsie has been having to wake up an hour earlier than she’s used to, but other than that, she has done great. She loves her teacher, and has made lots of new friends. The biggest adjustment for me has been the car rider line. Since Kinsie attends a charter school, they don’t have a bus system. All students are dropped off and picked up by their parents, so Brax and I spend quite some time waiting in line! But other than that, we love this school and are very happy with the school choice.
Brax and I enjoy having lunch with Kinsie at her school. She lights up when she sees us!
It makes my mama and teacher heart SO happy that my girl loves school so much. I was the same way, so I hope her love for learning continues. I love hearing all about her day, and what activities she did and what she learned. We are looking forward to seeing what all she accomplishes during the rest of the school year!
The Brax Days of Summer
Like I mentioned before, Brax and I have had lots of little fun adventures together this month. We try to do something outside of the house at least once a day, even if it’s something small like go to the store. He has been SO well behaved lately (he’s come a long way since the spring) so I have genuinely enjoyed our days together. Here are some of the highlights of our time together this month…
Library Walking Trail
We came to the library to read and check out books, but the kids often like walking around the trail behind the library, especially to see the swan that lives in that lake. It was a very hot day, but Brax really wanted to find the swan, so we walked. We ended up having to walk quite a ways around the lake, but we found the swan! He was so excited, so it was worth it!
Altitude Trampoline Park
This is such a great place for a toddler to blow off some energy. I take the kids here often and they always have a great time. I wasn’t sure if Brax would still have a lot of fun like usual, or if he wouldn’t know what to do without Kinsie, but he still loved it!
The Wonder Place
I was nervous that Kinsie would get upset that I brought Brax here without her, but she was surprisingly ok with it. I think it’s honestly because she loves school so much! Brax and I had a great morning together at the Wonder Place!
Lake Willastein Park
Near the end of the month, the mornings were more mild, and then it would get hotter in the afternoon. Brax and I walked over to the park on one of these mornings and really enjoyed ourselves. We don’t get to come to the park as often as we’d like in the summer, so we stayed for a few hours and had a great time!
Learning, Puzzles, and Games
Whenever we were home or had some down time, Brax loved doing puzzles and playing games. I also took some time this month to teach him how to write his name. He loves practicing any chance he gets! I’m hoping we have another kid who loves learning in the making, just like his big sis!
Some of our other adventures included a visit to the children’s library, Chick-fil-A lunch dates, grocery store trips, and just playing in the yard and driveway. I’m excited for Brax to start school soon, but I really enjoyed my days with him!
To be honest, since Kinsie started school, they have been VERY easy to entertain at home on the weekends. Kinsie misses being home and playing with her own toys and with Brax, so they spend 75% of their time just playing together at home. We have taken a few little adventures just when I feel like I need to get out of the house including…
Bass Pro Shops to see the fish, and the outlet mall…mainly to go to the bargain book store and ride the mini carousel.
We also went to the Purple Cow restaurant for dinner one night. The kids loved their purple ice cream sundae!
Early one Saturday, before the heat kicked in, the kids and I walked over to the park and enjoyed some outside time. They needed the fresh air to run around and get some energy out…especially together!
Our sweet goldfish, Hedwig passed away this month. Ryan won him at the Indiana State Fair before we were even married, so he lived longer than most goldfish…about 8 years! The kids grew up with him, as you can see in the pictures below. It was especially tough for Kinsie, because Hedwig’s tank has been in her room the last few years.
Left photo- Kinsie at 3 months looking at Hedwig; middle photo- Hedwig in 2014 (he got MUCH bigger than he was then); Right photo- Brax at 1 year old with Hedwig
Kinsie made a little casket and cross for him, and we buried him in the backyard. We were lucky to have him for so long!
Even though we were sad that Hedwig passed, we were excited to make his tank a home for some new fish! We got 4 glowfish and Kinsie named them after Toy Story characters – Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep and Trixie.
This summer seemed really long, so it seemed like it had been forever since we had seen any family. We were REALLY needing some family time, and luckily, Grandma Bev, Megan and Griffin came through! We were all so happy they were able to make the trip for a few days to see us! They loved visiting Kinsie for lunch at her school!
We didn’t do a whole lot, but we didn’t need to. We were all just happy to be together. The kids always love their Griffin time!
This visit was just what we needed and we are so grateful they came. We’ll have more family visits coming up in September so this helped us get through until then!
Brax’s School Open House
Our boy finally gets to start his school year soon! He will be in the Pre-K3 class at the same school he and Kinsie attended last year. He recently had his “Meet the Teacher Open House” and he was so excited to see his classroom and meet his new teacher. I think he is going to have a great year!
And that’s a wrap for our August. Our favorite time of the year is approaching! We absolutely love fall. Kinsie’s birthday is coming up, and then all of our favorite fall activities in October, and also a short trip to Indiana for a family wedding, followed by a trip to Orlando! Lots of exciting things coming up so stay tuned!
June was a whirlwind! We were gone more than we were home. During the month of June, we traveled to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and then the kids and I took a 2 week trip to visit family in Indiana. Ryan had to stay home to work, and we definitely missed him a lot while we were gone! However, we stayed super busy and did lots of fun activities back in our home town. I’m excited to share our June adventures!
Trip to Lake of the Ozarks
Since Ryan was named Chief Resident, one of his first responsibilities was to make the first few schedules. We knew that the kids and I were going to be gone the last 2 weeks of the month, so Ryan scheduled himself to work pretty much the whole time we were gone. With that being said, he was able to get multiple days off in a row during the first half of the month, so we decided to take advantage of that and take a little trip to the Ozarks! My parents met us there and brought along Kerigan. Unfortunately, Kinsie was not feeling well during the trip, and we later discovered she had pneumonia. She was just extra tired and not her perky self, but she was a trooper and still had fun.
On the first full day, we took a hike at the state park. It was a fun and easy hike, and we saw tons of deer!
After our hike, we went to the beach area near our condo. The kids loved splashing around at the beach, playing on the playground, and taking a ride on the inflatable kayak that Ryan brought with us.
The next day, we rented a pontoon boat and spent the entire day on the lake. We had a great day exploring the lake, trying out different restaurants on the water, fishing, and more. The kids were all exhausted by the end of the day, and Brax even fell asleep on Yaya’s lap, which I know she didn’t mind at all!
I felt so bad that we took Kinsie on this trip when she didn’t feel good, but she was such a trooper. After the trip, we got her on some antibiotics and she was feeling better within days. It was still such a fun little trip with some people we love!
Taking small trips, even if it’s to a store or to get ice cream, are crucial for my sanity. Since Kinsie wasn’t feeling well, we were home a lot. As soon as she was feeling a little better, we took short trips out of the house just to get some fresh air. We needed to get some school uniforms for Kinsie, so we went to the outdoor mall and had ice cream. Another day, we went to Target and got cake pops at the Starbucks inside the store. It’s the little things!
One day, Ryan didn’t have to work until the afternoon, so we took a family walk around the lake. The kids enjoyed stopping along the way to see turtles and ducks and we enjoyed some quality family time.
Dragon Boat Races
The lake by our house does this event every year, and the first year it took place on the day we moved. We obviously didn’t go then since we just moved in, but we did see the fireworks from our house! This is the first year we were able to check it out, and it was very cool! Different companies get together and make teams and they race dragon boats across the lake to raise money for charity. Each company also sets up a tent and gives away free items. The kids got some free dragon cups, a beach ball, and lollipops, so they were in heaven! There were also fun games and activities set up around the park, so we all enjoyed a fun family morning at the event!
Father’s Day and Our Anniversary
Our 7th anniversary and Father’s Day landed on the same day this year, so I made sure Ryan took the day off! We didn’t do anything spectacular…just went to church, and spent the day playing outside with the kids. Then I made Ryan’s favorite dinner. It was simple…but that’s all we needed. All we wanted for both our anniversary and Father’s Day was to spend the day all together, so that’s exactly what we did!
A Tough Goodbye
As soon as we moved here 2 years ago, I made some incredible friends within the residency program. Several other wives within the program took me in right away and became my very good friends. We did playdates often, went to church together (usually without husbands, but with ALL our kids), we constantly had a group text going, and we supported each other through the tough journey of residency. The thing I loved most is that all of our husbands were in emergency medicine together, so we all shared the same struggles and helped each other through them. Their husbands were in the residency class above Ryan, so they just completed their third year and all moved away for new jobs. It was really hard saying goodbye to the friends I got so close with, but I was SO grateful just to have them for the 2 years that I did. Now I just have an excuse to travel around the U.S. to visit!
Back Home Again in Indiana
The kids and I went to Indiana to visit family for 2 weeks, so that was half of our month right there. We are so grateful for our family for always helping us find ways to get there and back when Ryan can’t drive with us. This time, Bev flew to Little Rock and helped us drive to Indiana, and my mom helped us drive to Little Rock and then flew back to Indiana. We were SO busy during our 2 week visit, and we loved every minute of it! Here is a recap of our adventures in Indiana…
Indianapolis Children’s Museum
We used to take Kinsie to the museum when she was little, then of course we moved when Brax was still a baby, so we hadn’t been there in a few years. The kids were so excited when their cousins invited us to spend the day there with them. Brax LOVED the dinosaur peeking in the building as you first walk in!
Some of the highlights of the inside of the museum included the carousel, the fossil digging area, and the Paw Patrol exhibit.
Although we loved everything we saw inside, we spent the most time outside in the sports area. This is somewhat new, so we had never been. It was amazing! They had tons of exercising activities, every sport you can imagine, and a huge treehouse, similar to the “Tree of Life” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We spent hours exploring and playing! It was an awesome day!
We tagged along with Megan, Griffin, Grandma Bev and Ryan’s cousin Jess and her daughter Bexlee to the zoo. The bad news is that it rained almost the entire time we were there. The good news is that we still got to see most of the animals. A few of the savanna animals, and the tiger (my favorite) weren’t feeling the rain, but other than that, we saw a lot and had a great day. Kinsie hitched a ride in Griffin’s covered wagon, and Brax used Kinsie’s unicorn umbrella, so we were all good! The Indy Zoo has a great indoor aquarium area, so we spent a lot of time there. The kids loved all the sea creatures, and Kinsie got to see the dolphin show that she’s been talking about literally since we moved. Brax loved the orangutans and talked about them for days after!
Another neat temporary exhibit was the MISTery Park. It was just a short little loop full of mist sprayers. Simple, but neat! Despite the rain, we enjoyed the day with family and animals.
We met Bev, Megan, and a few of Ryan’s aunts and cousins for lunch and then went to the park splash pad for the kids to play. It took some time for the kids to get comfortable enough to play, but once they did, they had a blast!
Toy Story 4
The kids were dying to see Toy Story 4, (ok so was I!) so I wanted to take them to see it in theater during our visit. We invited some other cousins along, and we all took up an entire row! We all loved the movie, but my favorite part was hearing Brax belly laughing with every scene that had their new favorite “Forky!”
The next day, all the cousins made their own version of Forky. Then Kinsie wanted to take it a step further and make more characters. This project continued for days and expanded more and more until she had drawn every single character from the movie! Her final project was quite impressive, and now she wants to display it in the play room at home!
The kids favorite part of visiting is always cousin time. They had several sleepovers, including Kinsie sleeping over at their house one night. Their time together is always fun and eventful!
We always love spending time at Yaya’s pool while we’re in town. On our pool days, Kinsie transformed into a mermaid and did not get out of the pool unless forced to eat or go to the bathroom. There were a few days where she swam from 10am to 7pm! Brax made tons of progress from wanting someone to always hold him, to swimming around independently.
The kids’ happiest of happy places…ALL their cousins in the pool with them!
Even when we weren’t IN the pool, we still loved spending time out by the pool. When Brax needed breaks from swimming, he brought puzzles out and did them poolside. We also enjoyed several meals on the terrace.
The kids had SO much fun together in the pool. They played for hours and hours, and they all get along so well. And we just love watching them have fun together.
Other Outside Fun
The second week of our visit had beautiful weather. We spent as much time as we could outside. When we weren’t by the pool or lake, we enjoyed swinging and water table fun at Megan’s, or riding on the lawn mower with Papa!
We spent a good chunk of time at the lake during our visit…which is one of my favorite places to be. We went for a few random trips during the week, and then spent the weekends there as well. During the week was the best time to relax and go fishing since there weren’t many people there. The kids enjoyed fishing for about 3 minutes, then moved on to other things. In that short time though, they did catch a fish or two! While the kids played, I fished longer with Ryan’s dad. Between the two of us, we caught lots of blue gill. I hadn’t fished in far too long so it was great to get to do it again!
We spent our entire weekends at the lake as well. Lots of Ryan’s relatives came during that time, so we enjoyed visiting with family. All the kids LOVED swimming in the lake. Brax particular loved swimming with Uncle Nate, and Kinsie and the older cousins loved jumping off the dock and playing on the giant mat.
More lake fun included boat rides, water balloon fights with cousins, and water table fun for the littles. And of course we had to snap this photo of Papa Tim with his 3 faves in his Heritage Lake shirt!
Fireworks at the Lake
This is one of our favorite days of the year, and somehow we have managed to make it the last 2 years. Lots of family and friends came for the day so of course there was lots of people, fun and food. The kids spent most of the day swimming in the lake, and then the night consisted of the official fireworks put on by the lake. The kids got all decked out in glow necklaces and bracelets and stayed up late for the fireworks. We loved the fireworks, but my little guy fell asleep in the middle of them! It is very rare for either of my kids to accidentally fall asleep. He clearly was so exhausted from a long week of playing and swimming!
Home Again Home Again, Jiggity Jig
After a very busy and fun 2 weeks, we were sad to leave family, but very ready to head home and see Ryan. The kids were SO happy to see him and spent the next 24 hours playing games with him, telling him all about our trip, and of course, climbing all over him! It was so good to be together as a family again!
And that wraps up our month! We are looking forward to just being home in the month of July and enjoying summer before the kids start school. I still can’t believe that Kinsie starts KINDERGARTEN at the beginning of August! In the mean time, pray that we survive the intense Arkansas summer heat!
May was SO busy! When I think back to the beginning of the month, it seems like it was 3 months ago. May always tends to be one of the busier months of the year with the end of school and all the programs and activities that go with it, the end of sports seasons, etc…but we loved every minute of it! Here is how our May went down…
I’m still in denial that my baby is three. And the crazy thing is that ever since he turned three, he’s acted older. He talks like he’s older, his fine motor skills and agility have taken off, and his behavior has improved (for now). Our special boy deserved a special birthday!
His birthday started off with surprise donuts from Dad. Ryan had been on a string of night shifts, and he stopped by the famous Hurts Donuts in Little Rock on his way home from work to surprise Brax!
Next, Brax got to spend part of his birthday with his teacher and friends at school. We sent cupcakes and Avengers napkins for them to enjoy.
After school, we let him open a few presents. He loved his shark tent and chair from his cousins, his talking Hulk from Papa and Yaya, and his robot from us!
Next, we took him to his favorite restaurant for dinner, All Aboard. Every time we go, the kids get so excited to watch the train deliver food for everyone.
After dinner, we came back home for birthday treats. He was grinning from ear to ear as we sang to him, and loved every bite of his blue birthday cookies!
Brax’s Birthday Party
We decided to have a mini-party for Brax when some family came to visit for Kinsie’s Pre-K graduation. We decorated the kitchen in Avengers decor, with a special banner made by none other than Aunt Megan (this banner now hands in his room!) We ate burgers and cake, opened more presents, and dressed in superhero masks and tattoos. It was a great night!
Kinsie’s Ballet Recital
Kinsie has been loving her ballet class this year. The season ended with a special performance to show off all the skills they learned throughout the year. Kinsie did a fantastic job and loved getting to perform on stage!
Ryan has been in the MICU this month, which is one of the toughest rotations in residency. He works extra long hours and gets fewer days off. I was really bummed to learn that he was going to have to work a 24 hour shift on Mother’s Day this year, and he wasn’t able to change it. I was bummed, but we did our best to work around it. We went out for a sushi dinner the night before, and then some residency friends took the kids and I out for a Mother’s Day lunch after church. After that, I spent the entire day at the park with my little loves. The weather was perfect and we actually had a great day together.
In between our activities, I had a special delivery from Ryan. He sent me some flowers (which could be planted in the yard of course…we’re not big on spending money on flowers that will die a few days later!) and some treats. It made my day that he was still thinking about me even though he couldn’t spend the day with me.
The kids definitely made me feel extra loved on Mother’s Day!
I can’t believe my big girl graduated from preschool and she’ll be starting Kindergarten in the fall! I have no doubt in my mind that she’s ready, and she’s SO excited! She wants to be a teacher like her mama when she grows up, and she has LOVED every second of her schooling experience so far. I know she’ll do great in elementary school!
Again, it wasn’t the best month for Ryan. Last month, he was selected as Chief Resident of his program, which we were very excited about! However, this required him to go to an out-of-state conference the same week as Kinsie’s graduation. As soon as I knew he wouldn’t be able to come, I recruited some family to come for her special day. I know I’ve said it before, but we the BEST family in the world. My mom, Ryan’s mom, Megan, Nate and Griffin all came. Kinsie loved having so many people come for her graduation, and I know it helped her not be too sad about her daddy missing it. But we took lots of videos for him to watch when he returned!
We loved having some family visit us for a few days. The weather was beautiful, so we spent a lot of time outside at the park.
One day when Kinsie was at school, Brax helped both of his grandmas do some gardening in the front yard. He loved helping!
And cousin pool parties are always a good idea! Griffin loved his first pool experience and the kids loved sharing it with him.
Last Day of School
The kids had a wonderful school year. They both grew and learned so much. Brax especially did amazing for his first school experience. He adored his teacher and loved meeting new friends!
Kinsie’s first and last day of school…
Brax’s first and last day of school…
Kinsie definitely grew this year! She is much taller and no longer has a baby face, but is developing into a beautiful little girl. Brax doesn’t look a ton different, but you can tell he looks a little taller and slimmer!
The kids had the BEST teachers this year. Mrs. Lina was Brax’s teacher, and she was the sweetest, most patient and kind teacher, which was perfect for him in his first year. Brax started out the year very shy and wouldn’t talk much to her, but he ended the year hugging on her, and running around acting like his silly self at school. Kinsie’s teacher, Mrs. Suze was also perfect for her this year. She really helped Kinsie mature, and prepare for Kindergarten. She did tons of creative projects with higher-level thinking, which is perfect for my imaginative little girl. Of course, my passionate and emotional Kinsie Kay bawled like a baby when she had to say goodbye to her teachers and preschool! It broke my heart, but also made me happy that she loves school so much.
Last Day of T-Ball
Kinsie wrapped up her last season of T-ball. She had a great experience and a great coach for both seasons she played. If she decides to continue, she will play softball in the fall. She had a great season and we loved watching her!
Brax’s First Dentist Appointment
My big boy had his first dentist appointment recently. When we first got there, he was a little nervous and wouldn’t look or interact with the hygienist. However, she was so great with him and took lots of time talking to him, and showing him all her tools so he would become more comfortable. By the end, he was giggling and talking to her like he knew her all along. And of course, Kinsie was the best supportive big sis, holding Brax’s hand and showing him how to open wide!
LOTS of Art Projects
Kinsie has loved art for a while now, but now she is sharing that love with her little brother. Brax has taken a huge interest in drawing lately. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he spends at least 2-3 hours a day drawing. And he has gotten really good!
The kids each have a sketchpad and some markers that I keep in the car for them. I am amazed at the creations they draw in such a short amount of time. The pictures below include Kinsie’s drawing of an eagle, and a mermaid castle.
I just can’t get enough of Brax;s little concentration face (which is the SAME as his daddy’s), and his precious little drawings. He has come a long way drawing people and animals. Right now he especially loves drawing smiley faces and jelly fish.
Kinsie’s imagination has been off the charts lately. Her new favorite thing to do is draw pictures and tape them to popsicle sticks and put on “puppet shows.” We love her imagination and love how she shares it with Brax.
The first couple weeks of May brought lots and lots of rain. So much so, that there is severe flooding in many parts of Little Rock. The flooding isn’t directly affecting us luckily, but we had many umbrella and rain boot days during that timespan!
The second half of May has brought much better weather. The summer heat is here and the upper 80-90 degree temps often starts as early as 8 a.m. each day. If we happen to have a day where it’s only in the 70s, we venture to the park.
Most days lately, we’ve been in our bathing suits playing with the sprinkler, water table and baby inflatable pool. Believe it or not, the kids have so much fun in this tiny pool. And popsicles don’t hurt either!
We’ve had lots of critters around the house lately. We’ve seen multiple lizards, and even a snake in our yard. Ryan caught the snake and put it in a bucket for the kids to look at, of course. No worries…he’s working on a fellowship in wilderness medicine and knew that the snake was non-venomous. That didn’t stop me from staying as far away as possible though! The snake appeared in our yard twice, and after that Ryan walked it down the path a ways so that it hopefully found a new home!
We recently upgraded the kids’ inflatable pool to a bigger size and they have been loving it! No joke, I’ve spent about 3-4 hours a day outside with them while they play in their pool!
The kids love the library. Even though our library is small and doesn’t have many activities, they love picking out endless stacks books to read together.
Behind the library, there is a nice deck area where you can walk around the pond. The kids and I ventured out there and had a blast. We made friends with a swan and several ducks. The kids love finding nature outside, and they could have stayed watching those birds for hours.
Chick-fil-A and Sonic
We don’t do this as often as the kids would like, mainly because we can’t afford to eat Chick-fil-A every day, but every so often we do have lunch dates there and spend some time playing. The kids always love it. We’ve also discovered Sonic’s happy hour. It’s been a fun little afternoon activity to get the kids out of the house and enjoy some slushies on our hot days.
This is a new place in our town that I’ve been wanting to try. We spent the morning there one day and the kids were obsessed. It was perfect for their age, with tons of play fixtures, slides, play kitchens, dress-up, and more. The kids have been asking every day when we can go again!
Family Trip to Memphis
Ever since we’ve moved here, we’ve been wanting to go to Memphis, mainly because they have hippos at their zoo. It’s only about a 2 hour drive, so we knew we could take a day trip there. However, Ryan had a short 1.5 day stretch after Memorial weekend, so we decided to make it an overnight trip. We drove to Memphis in the afternoon when he got off work, and spent the night.
The afternoon we got there, we went to the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid. We love Bass Pro anyway, so going to this unique one was a cool experience.
The next morning, we woke up and headed to the zoo. We had such a great time. It was hot, but it didn’t get unbearable until it was almost time to leave. We got to see the hippos, which wouldn’t get as close and put on a show for us like Fiona does at the Cincinnati Zoo, but we still loved seeing them! We also loved the gorillas, the polar bear, feeding the stingrays, and the camel ride!
Another highlight was the bird house. Anytime we go to a zoo with this, it’s always one of the kids’ favorite things. They love feeding the birds and having them land on their feeding stick!
There were also lots of fun interactive activities in between exhibits. The kids loved playing the drums and pretending to hatch out of eggs. It was such a great little family trip, after this long month of Ryan being in the MICU, we definitely needed this quality family time.
So that was our month. We had a LOT going on, and even though Ryan had to work a lot, we stayed very busy and had lots of fun. We have a lot going on in June as well, and the kids and I will hardly be home! It will be nice to visit our family in Indiana while we have the time off in the summer.
Another exciting event that happened this month was that Ryan signed a contract for Bloomington Hospital starting in August 2020…so we will officially be moving back to our home state of Indiana in about a year! We are so excited, especially to live in Bloomington where we both attended IU. We will definitely miss the home we’ve made here in Little Rock, but we can’t wait to be close to family again and finally SETTLE!
Here is our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of May. Enjoy!
We have had to put in quite an effort to keep these kids busy for their last month of summer before they start school. They are to the point where they are just over being home with me all the time. No offense taken…I’m over it too! They have been fighting more, and just extra sassy to me. They are definitely ready for a new environment, new friends, and a new authority figure! However…we have done the best we could at finding fun things to do. Every once in a while, we’ll have a few days where the weather isn’t melting us, so we’ll do something fun outside, but other than that, we mainly have to find indoor things to do. Here is a recap of our August.
Like I said, we’ve had to do our best at getting out of the house as much as possible. Whenever Ryan has a day off, we try to find a new fun place. This month, we discovered a few new places!
We’ve known about this place for a long time, but finally got around to trying it out. Ryan is much more into science than I am, so I wanted him to get to come with us. We all had a great time! It’s no Indianapolis Children’s Museum, but it did the small city of Little Rock justice. There is a full room full of science experiments, so my nerdy husband was in heaven. Now Kinsie wants a science kit for her birthday!
The Wonder Place-
We’ve been here before, but the kids loved it so much, we had to go back. This place is seriously perfect for young, busybodies like my kids! Now that elementary schools have started, we practically had to place to ourselves!
This was another place that we’ve known about since we moved, but never took the chance to try it out. Again…this place was PERFECT for our kids. A huge warehouse full of trampolines and a giant foam pit had their names written all over it. We went on another one of Ryan’s days off so he got to enjoy it with us. We will definitely be going back!
Little Rock Zoo-
We had about 3-4 days in a row where the weather was perfect, and luckily Ryan was off during one of those days, so packed up the kids, the wagon, and a lunch and spend the day at the zoo. These kids love animals so much, they get just as excited to see them each time we go. Another bonus was that every year when your membership renews, you get free tickets for a train ride. Another score for my kids! We had the perfect family day at one of our favorite places!
Every time I check the weather and see if its going to be less than 90 degrees, we try to spend some time outside. We love going to the park by our neighborhood, and even just playing in our own yard. One afternoon we had some of the other residents’ kids over for a sprinkler date. The kids love spending time with other kids their age, and I love getting some adult interactions with the other moms!
Weekend at Home
We were so excited to get to come home for a weekend for Ryan’s cousin’s wedding. We were only home Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…but we packed in a LOT of activities in those 3 days!
Indiana State Fair-
We LOVE the fair…both county and state. We love the animals, the food, the rides…all of it. We especially love it when we get to go with family. The 5 cousins had a blast together drinking milkshakes, petting cows, and riding all the rides. It was such a fun, much-needed family night with some of the people we love most.
Ryan’s cousin Masey is one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met. As soon as I found out when her wedding was, I REALLY wanted to make it. Luckily, Ryan was on an ED rotation so he was able to request a couple days off in a row so we could go. This day did not exactly go as I planned it…but that’s life. Brax would not…I repeat, WOULD NOT wear the cute collared Polo shirt I had picked out for him. Or the matching boat shoes. After a long battle, I had decided to cave and let him wear whatever the heck he wanted, but at that point he was inconsolable. We could not take him to a wedding like this! My parents offered to let him take a nap, and then they would bring him for the reception. After his nap and getting to wear an animal shirt rather than his nice clothes, he was better, but still a bit grumpy. He did better as the night went on…I’m sure it helped that Grandma kept sneaking him upstairs to eat the bridal party’s cookies. Even though I didn’t get any nice family pictures, and Brax didn’t make it to the actual ceremony, it turned out to be an awesome night. Kinsie looked beautiful and danced the night away. We loved getting to spend a beautiful evening celebrating sweet Masey with Ryan’s family.
Lake Day –
On Sunday, we spent most of the day at the lake. The kids loved boat rides, swimming, and tubing with cousins. It’s always a nice treat when Ryan is home in Indiana with us, and I know the kids, and the rest of the family loved having him home as well.
After a day at the lake, we went back to my parents’ house for swimming and dinner. I missed this SO much. Sunday dinners with my family were one of my favorite traditions before we moved, and it felt so good to do it again, especially on a great night where the kids were still wearing their swimsuits and googles and giggling together at the cousin table. This trip to Indiana was therapy.
August is over now, and I hate it say it, but I’m a bit relieved. Like I said at the beginning of this post, we are all ready for a change. The kids need school. I need a break. I love my children to the ends of the Earth, but it has been a long summer, and I am ready for some well-earned “me” time. I think we will all be in better moods and get along better when we are not together 24/7. Ryan will have one of his hardest rotations in September, but luckily we should stay busy. Kinsie will start T-ball and ballet, and obviously school will start as well. The kids and I will also spend the week of Kinsie’s birthday in Indiana, and we’ll have Bev for a couple days before, and my mom for a couple days after. We are looking forward to the next few months. Stay tuned!
As always, here is our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of August.
While June seemed to last forever, July flew by…probably because we were out of town for half of it! We needed some change of scenery this month, and we definitely got it, and had a great month. We had some great family time, and lots of fun adventures.
4th of July
Last year, we had a blast at the parade and festival that our town held, so we knew we definitely wanted to take part again this year. Ryan asked for the 4th off so he could join us. The parade is definitely a “small town” parade, so nothing extravagant, but many of the floats throw out candy, so that’s all the kids really care about! At night, we went to the festival down by the lake and invited some of our residency friends. The festival included bounce houses, food trucks, and a live band. While we waited for fireworks, we enjoyed eating ice cream sundaes, playing ring toss with glow necklaces on Brax’s neck, and the kids loved just playing and running around in the field together. The fireworks were AWESOME, and all the kids loved it. We always used to spend the 4th with our families, so it was rough last year not being with them. However, we have made the best of it and find fun things to do and now we just make it our own family day.
Day trip to the Zoo
Sometimes, the kids and I get sick of our every-day routines, and we need to change it up. One day, Ryan didn’t have to work until the afternoon, and we needed something to do to get the kids out of the house for a little while and burn off some energy. We decided on an impromptu trip to the zoo! The Little Rock Zoo may not be as intense as other zoos, but its perfect for us because we can go for 2-3 hours and see everything we want to see. We had a great family morning!
Family hike in Hot Springs
We’ve heard a lot about Hot Springs, AR since moving here, and we’ve always wanted to check it out. On one of Ryan’s days off, we decided to make it happen and go on a family hike. We found a great State Park with lots of trails. We had a great time climbing rocks and trees, finding frogs, and exploring nature. Days where we take family hikes are seriously my favorite!
As you may have already read in my last post, we spent a week in Branson with Ryan’s family. We had such a great time! We loved having Ryan with us for the week, and exploring different zoos, aquariums, and spending days on the lake and at the pool.
Back home again in Indiana
After Branson, Ryan rented a car to drive back to Little Rock, and my mother-in-law helped us drive to Indiana to spend a week with family. Whenever we spend time back home, all 5 of the cousins are inseparable!
We probably spent the majority of the week at my parents pool. All Kinsie wanted to do ALL week was swim with her cousins. She has become much more brave with swimming. At the beginning of the summer, she didn’t even like to get her face wet, but now she no longer needs floaties in the shallow end, and has been practicing swimming underwater. She was even doing underwater flips! I think next year, she’ll be able to swim in the deep end without floaties too!
The timing of our trip home worked out perfectly, because it fell on the same week as the County Fair. My whole family, and most of Ryan’s family tagged along, and the kids had a great time together. We loved looking at all the animals, watching the cheerleading competition, riding rides, and eating hot dogs and milkshakes. The highlight of the night, however, was Brax’s encounter with a goat. My dad knew some people who had a pen of goats at the fair, and they let the kids get in the pen and pet the goats up close. Well, one goat in particular didn’t like having Brax be eye level with him, and he (no joke) HEAD BUTTED him, knocking both him and Kinsie to the ground! They were both physically fine, just a little traumatized! My brother-in-law happened to get it on camera, so we showed the video over and over to Brax until he thought it was funny and could laugh about the “silly goat!”
As always, just spending time together is all these 5 kids ever want while we’re in town. Whether it be swimming, eating lunch, reading, or singing karaoke…their favorite place to be is together!
We loved our July travels, but after 2 weeks away, it was nice to be home. Kinsie really struggles when we leave our family, so we’re trying to get more creative on ways to help her not be sad about being away from everyone. For example, I found my old digital picture frame and loaded lots of pictures of her and Brax with our families on it so she can always see pictures of them. We also printed a calendar for her to count down how many days until the next time she sees everyone. Luckily, we’ll all be traveling back to Indy for a weekend next month for a family wedding, so it won’t be too long until our next visit. Although I love summer time, I’m starting to look forward to fall. I’m ready for cooler temps, the kids are excited to start preschool after Labor Day (yes…even Brax!), Kinsie will be playing T-ball, and we have lots of trips and activities planned over the next 4-5 months. Enjoy the remainder of summer and stay cool!
Here is our 1 Second Everyday video for July…enjoy!
The southern summer heat is here and more intense than I remember. April and May were perfect, then June hit and the high temps and humidity hit us hard. Unless you go outside before 8am, or are in water, it’s honestly hard to bear. Without school or extra-curricular activities, we’ve had to get creative to keep the kids busy. Ryan has had a harder rotation than I expected, with several all-day shifts (7am-10pm), and the rest 11am-9pm. Like mid-shifts, I really dislike these shifts because he’s not home for not only most of the day, but dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. Evenings are my kids “witching hours,” so it’s not fun dealing with it alone! I’ve definitely become used to it, but it’s still so much better when he’s home to help. The kids have REALLY missed him this month – especially Kinsie. She has cried on multiple occasions because she misses him, and she takes out her frustration of him not being home on me. I think it’s worse than usual because she’s not in school to help keep her mind busy. Next month, he’ll get a week off and we’ll go in vacation to Branson, MO…so we’re all looking forward to that!
Here is a recap of our June…
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo! Brax is Two!
The kids spent the last week of May in Indiana with family, and Ryan and I came up the next weekend for a wedding, then had a late family birthday party for Brax. It was perfect timing for us to be home, because my sister-in-law also had just found out the gender of her baby, so we had a small gender reveal before Brax’s party. They are going to have a sweet baby boy and we are SO excited to meet this little blessing! Kinsie asks about the baby EVERY day and can’t wait to have a new cousin. Brax doesn’t quite understand yet, but he loves babies so I’m sure he’ll be obsessed when he meets him!
The kids had a great week in Indiana, but after a week of being away from me, Brax was pretty grumpy and wouldn’t let me leave his sight. His party was a lot of fun, but a little stressful because he was so grumpy and would only say “No!” to anyone who tried to talk to him. Luckily everyone who was there loves him regardless and we all just took it in stride. We managed to get a few smiles out of him, and he still says he loved his choo-choo party when we ask him, so I guess that’s what counts!
These sweet cousins were inseparable the whole party
A special shout-out to Megan for making the kids’ train shirts, the cupcakes, and the banner…Renata for another batch of amazing cookies…my Mom for helping with balloons, and Bev and Tim for hosting! I am SO grateful for my village!
The kids had a blast with the piñata, playing on the ATV, fishing, and just spending time together. Anytime we are surrounded by both of our families, we are happy!
We are always trying to find time to spend outside. When the humidity isn’t as intense, or in the morning when the yard is still in the shade, we try to go out and burn some energy. The kids have loved the sprinkler, water table, kite flying, hopscotch, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bug-catching, and more. Kinsie recently decided that she wants to start t-ball in the fall, so she’s been practicing whenever she can!
And of course, nothing is better on a hot day than some cold treats! Popsicles, ice cream, and our favorite shave ice truck have been lifesavers in this heat!
Relief from the heat
Spending time outside is not always possible because of rain, or extreme heat…but my busy kiddos can’t handle too much time in the house. They are great with just playing with their toys, but after a while, they (and I) get stir-crazy and they fight a lot more. We try to get out of the house just about every day, even if its a small adventure. We try to discover new places, or visit our old favorite places. We recently found a restaurant called “All Aboard,” where a train delivers your food (for my Indiana folks – its like Pizza King but more food options and cooler trains that you can see around the entire restaurant) The kids were obsessed and both cried when we left! We also have made small adventures to our favorite frozen yogurt place, had lunch and play time at Chik-fil-A, and visited the library.
Ryan and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary this month. We didn’t have a romantic, kid-free dinner or anything, but that’s overrated! We were just happy for Ryan to have the day off! Our anniversary was on a Saturday, so we spent our morning at the Little Rock Farmer’s Market (one of our faves!), and the splash pad. We also ate lunch at the River Market, which is one of my favorite things to do as well ($5 sushi rolls…yes please!) We had a nice dinner at home and just spent time together. It was a great day!
Kinsie starts ballet
Kinsie has been asking me for months to take a ballet class. I wanted to wait until soccer was over, then signed her up for a short summer session. She absolutely loves it! It’s only a 3-week session so she could just try it out, and since we’ll be out of town a couple of weeks in July, but I have a feeling she will ask me to sign her back up once this session is over. Unfortunately, we don’t get to watch her while she’s in class, so Brax and I have to keep ourselves busy when she’s in class.
Savoring Daddy time
Like I said, it’s been a harder month than expected, and the kids have REALLY missed their dad. Whenever he is home, they are ALL over him! He is on a rotation where he has “call shifts,” meaning he has to be in the on-call room all day, unless they need him for a code or pronouncement. During these shifts, we can go visit him in the on-call room. The kids have LOVED doing this!
One good thing about this month is that Ryan was able to set his own schedule, so he took Father’s Day off. We loved having him home for the day, and the kids were so excited about giving him their gift!
We discovered this great little place that is specifically for kids 0-8. This place was perfect for my busy kids! So many things to do including water activities, a train set, a sand table, a “river market” with pretend food they can buy, a dress-up area and stage, and more. We stayed for a few hours and they kids are already asking to go back. Definitely a fun morning!
The kids and I were really missing family this month, so I talked to my parents and we decided to make an impromptu trip home for a long weekend. The kids were in heaven swimming in the pool, having cousin sleepovers, watching fireworks and playing at the lake, and just spending time with family. All 5 of the kids were inseparable the entire weekend. It was a wonderful, much-needed trip!
Sweet cousin love
Ready for fireworks at the lake!
Having a blast swimming in the lake!
It was a harder month than I expected. We’ve officially been here for a year, and I have made significant progress making this my home. I am much better off emotionally and mentally right now than I was this time last year, but I still go through difficult spells. I think summer is hard because I know that if I were in Indiana, I’d be spending most of my time with family at the lake or at my parents’ pool. The kids would be having cousin sleepovers all the time, and we’d be grilling out and eating dinner outside. I miss summers with family SO much. We do what we can to still have a fun summer and give the kids great memories, and we truly treasure when Ryan has a day off. I don’t know what the future will bring after this season of residency, but I trust in the Lord and take comfort in the fact that He knows our next step.
And as always, to end my post, here is our June 1 Second Every video.
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!
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!
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!
Play dough fun…Brax was upset that he couldn’t eat it at first, but he got over it!
Playing in the fort that Daddy helped them build
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.
Play places and crafts
“Baking” at the Children’s Library
Donut date with mom!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
Ryan is officially done with his second year of medical school…which also means that he is halfway to becoming a doctor and that he is DONE in Muncie!!! Those of you who have followed our journey know how hard this has been on us. When I was 7 months pregnant, we found out that Ryan would be at the Muncie campus for his first two years at IU Med School. I know it could have been worse…he could have not gotten in to IU, or he could have been placed in Evansville or South Bend, or somewhere else hours away. However, it was still a rough and unexpected turn that I wasn’t ready for, especially since we were due to have our first child in just a couple months. I would have moved to Muncie with him, but I didn’t think anyone would hire a teacher who would need a maternity leave right away. We ended up getting Ryan an apartment in Muncie where he would spend the majority of the week, then come home on the weekends. To say that the last two years was hard would be an understatement. It was exhausting working full time, raising a new baby, taking care of two dogs, and keeping up with all of the groceries and housework practically alone throughout the week (and we all know new moms don’t get the best sleep). I do have to give a quick shoutout to mine and Ryan’s parents for all of their support, whether it was feeding Kinsie and I dinner, helping me clean or run errands, or simply encouraging me when I was overwhelmed. I appreciate it more than I can say! It was hard too for Ryan being away from his family during the week and spending most of his time studying in a lonely apartment. As challenging as it was…I know that God’s hand was on us. It turned out the be a blessing in disguise for several reasons. While I would have much rather had Ryan at the Indianapolis campus, he would have been in a much larger class. Instead, his Muncie class had 24 people, who have now become his best friends and an AWESOME support system for our family. I can’t thank them all enough for being there for all of us and welcoming me and Kinsie like we were family. Ryan being away also made us cherish our time together as a family. When he was away, that was his intense study time. When he was home, he would be fully engaged in us and did his best to be a loving, hands-on daddy and husband. I think being away from each other made us appreciate one another much more than if he were home each night. There have been many times in my life where things take an unexpected turn and I questioned God and wondered how I was going to handle it. But this situation proves that things are not always going to go according to our plan, but God has a better plan. We may not understand God’s plan, but it is ALWAYS better so we need to trust Him!
Kinsie and I are SO happy to have Ryan back home. He’s been home since the beginning of May, but he had to spend practically every second of his time studying for his STEP 1 Boards. This test is a big one and will determine where he can get into residency, so he made sure he studied hard. Even though it was difficult, I supported him needing to study all the time because how he does on this test will affect our future. Kinsie wasn’t quite as understanding…she would often shut Ryan’s laptop, hand him a book and climb up on the couch for him to read it to her. He took his test on June 3 and we were all thrilled for him to be done. The next step in his med school journey is clinical rotations for two years. Most of these will be in Indy, which we are relieved about! After 2 more years, he will officially be an M.D. However, then comes residency. Depending on what he specializes in and what score he gets on the STEP 1 will determine where he will go for residency. We are hoping to stay in Indianapolis, but he will need to apply all over the country. Wherever he goes, Kinsie and I will be going with him!
In other news, I have completed my 3rd year of teaching! It was a really rough start of the year with many administration and student behavior issues, but those issues were resolved and it turned out to be a great year for me. I got really close to my class, which made it hard to send them off to the middle school. But I’m sure you can imagine how excited I am to be on summer break and get to spend more time with my sweet girl!
Ryan only had 4 days in between his test and the start of his clinical rotations, and we wanted to take a little trip, but obviously couldn’t go somewhere too far since we only had a few days. We decided to go to Bloomington…home of our Alma Mater, Indiana University. We LOVE this town and there are so many fun things to do and see. We loved getting to show Kinsie all of our favorite spots on campus. We went to Wonderlab Science Museum, went hiking at Cascades Park, walked around Kirkwood Avenue and showed her around campus. Her favorite part was the clock tower at the Student Building near the Sample Gates, which she called the “big girl clock.” She would belly laugh and squeal whenever the bell would ring on the clock! We had some awesome quality family time before Ryan had to start “work” full time. It was a much needed mini-vacation!