Enjoying the ‘Rays in May

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…

Brax’s Birthday

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!

Braxbirthday-prof

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!

IMG_2366

 

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.

Braxbirthday-school

 

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!

Braxbirthday-presents2

 

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.

Braxbirthday-dinner

 

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!

Braxbirthday-sing

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!

Braxbirthdayparty-1Braxbirthdayparty-2Braxbirthdayparty-3

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!

Balletrecital

Mother’s Day

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.

MothersDay-1

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.

MothersDay-3

The kids definitely made me feel extra loved on Mother’s Day!

MothersDay-2

Kinsie’s Graduation

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!

Graduation-1Graduation-3

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!

Graduation-2

Graduation-4

Family Visit

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.

Family-outside

 

One day when Kinsie was at school, Brax helped both of his grandmas do some gardening in the front yard. He loved helping!

Family-gardening

 

And cousin pool parties are always a good idea! Griffin loved his first pool experience and the kids loved sharing it with him.

Family-pool

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…

LastDaySchool-Kinsie

 

Brax’s first and last day of school…

LastDaySchool-Brax

 

And together…

LastDaySchool-bothKinsie 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.

LastDaySchool-1

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!

Tball-1Tball-2

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!

Braxdentist-1Braxdentist-2

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!

Art-1

 

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.

Art-Kinsie

 

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.

Art-Brax

 

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.

Art-shows

Outside Adventures

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!

Outside-rain

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.

Outside-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!

Outside-pool2

 

Sprinkler fun!

Outside-sprinkler

 

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!

Outside-critters

 

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!

Outside-pool-1IMG_6474

Day Adventures

Library

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.

Adventures-Library1

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.

Adventures-Library2

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.

Adventures-chickfilA

Kiddie City

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!

Adventures-KiddieCity

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.

Memphis-BPS

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!

Memphis-Zoo3

 

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!

Memphis-Zoo1

 

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.

Memphis-Zoo2

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!

Three and Thriving!

My baby boy is three. THREE. It still doesn’t seem possible to me. He was just a baby when we moved to Arkansas…not even walking or talking yet. Now he’s a loud, crazy, hilarious, stubborn toddler running circles around us. He has made incredible gains in his maturation and development this year. He’s still a bit clumsy, but he can run, jump, and climb like a beast. He has an incredible vocabulary and never really stops talking (just like he sister…between the two of them, there is literally no air time). Looking back at pictures and videos of just a year ago, it’s amazing how much he’s changed. However, he’s still our goofy, giggly, wild little boy!
IMG_5612

IMG_5611

Here are some stats about Braxton at three years old…

  • Favorite color: Blue
  • Favorite animal: Gorillas
  • Favorite food: Chicken nuggets and any and all snacks
  • Favorite TV shows: Team Umizoomi and Puppy Dog Pals
  • Favorite movies: The Lion King and Dumbo
  • Favorite books: S is for Superhero, and Hulk to the Rescue
  • Favorite songs: Come Alive (from The Greatest Showman), and The One I Love (by Tyrone Wells)
  • Other songs he enjoys singing: Jesus Loves Me, ABC’s, The IU Fight Song, Old McDonald, and Baby Shark (you know…the essentials)
  • He wants to be a doctor and a superhero when he grows up.

Other Fun Facts about our boy:

  • Kinsie is still his best friend. However, he knows exactly how to push her buttons. He loves to do whatever she is doing, and hug and kiss all over her…but his favorite thing to do with her is wrestle her. Usually they wrestle under control for a few minutes, then he takes it too far and begins “Hulk smashing” her, and someone usually ends up in tears! They go through phases where they get along great and play nicely together, or other times where they can barely be in the same room without fighting. Typical siblings I guess!

Brax-KinsieBrax-outside-2

Brax-Kinsie-2

  • He loves school and his teacher, Ms. Lina. He went through a few phases where he would cry when I dropped him off, but overall he has done great and always has fun! Below is a picture of him with his class full of boys. And yes…he is the shortest one in his class. In his defense, he is the youngest as well. Most of these boys already turned 3 last fall. We are hoping Brax eventually gets some height from his Uncle Nate!Brax-school

 

  • He is very well potty trained. I know I discussed this in another post, but he was actually very easy to train. He usually still sits on the potty, but is now working on standing up like a big boy so he is ready for the 3’s class next year at school. He has been great at going potty on the go since we are constantly going from place to place. When Kinsie has t-ball, they only have port-a-potties, so we’ve brought along his potty chair in the back of the car. He is a champ about just going with it!

IMG_4775

  • He’s definitely still a mama’s boy, and loves to be my little sidekick…but he adores his daddy. He is becoming more aware of the fact that Daddy works a lot, and he really misses him when he’s gone. Whenever Daddy is home, he is hugging all over him and constantly wanting to play superheroes or play fight.

Brax-momdad

  • Like I mentioned before, his vocabulary has increased tremendously this year. Last year he was talking better, but we had a tough time understanding everything he said. Now we understand most of what he says. He even recently starting saying “Kinsie” accurately, where before, it sounded like “Ti Ti.”
  • He recently gave up both his pacifier and naps. I’m very excited about no more paci… not so excited about no more naps!
  • He absolutely loves being outside. He could spend all day at the park if I let him!

Brax-outside

  • His current obsession is superheroes. It’s all he talks about. He knows all the Avengers by name, and talks about them as if they are his close personal friends. The Hulk is his favorite!

Brax-superheroes

Below is a picture that Kinsie drew for Brax for his birthday. It is the Hulk holding a birthday cake, and a number 3 (even though it is backwards…it’s the thought that counts!)

IMG_1295

  • He loves reading and puzzles. He can memorize long books and recite them word for word. He can also do a 36 piece puzzle by himself!Brax-bookspuzzles

  • Like his sister, he has really started to love drawing, arts, and crafts. He has become pretty good, and we can actually somewhat tell what he is drawing! Brax-drawing
  • He is one of the most stubborn children I have encountered. This has caused for some major power struggles and temper tantrums that have tested my limits. However, he seems to be improving. We are working on making him aware of his behavior, and how he can do better. We have a “Nice Boy” chart where he has to be a good listener and be nice to his family in order to get special rewards. So far it is working pretty well!
  • He is literally either snuggling with us, or wrestling with us. There is no in between!

Brax-wrestling

  • He is very picky about who he lets in his inner circle. Once you’re in though, you’re in for life. Speaking of which, he is very close to all of his family…grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. With us being out of town during these crucial memory-making years, we have really made it a priority to visit, Facetime, and even look at pictures and videos of family so that he always knows who they are.
  • He has become very aware of the fact that we live far away from everyone. Kinsie has already gone through this, and she has actually gotten better. Now Brax struggles when we leave Indiana, or when family leaves us from a visit. He adores his cousins and is happiest when he’s with them!

Brax-cousins-1

Brax-cousins-2

 

He is definitely a unique kid. We call him our sour patch kid…he is either sour or sweet, with no in between! He makes us laugh every single day. It’s hard to look at him and not just want to kiss his sweet little cheeks! Even though he can be a total stinker, his sweet side draws people to him. We all adore him and are loving watching him grow into the unique little person he is!
BraxisTHREE

Happy 3RD Birthday, Braxton Robert!! We love you to infinity and beyond!!

Stories of our September

We had a very eventful and refreshing September. After a few months of no activities and extreme heat (thus, us all getting stir crazy and sick of each other), we finally started up our fall activities, and it felt good to become busy again. Not only did school, T-ball, ballet and church activities begin, but we had a nice long week visit in Indiana. Ryan was on his SICU rotation (Surgical Intensive Care Unit), which we knew would be rough. He was working 14 hour shifts with only 4 days off for the whole month. This is part of the reason the kids and I took our trip, because we knew we wouldn’t see much of him anyway. I’m so grateful that his SICU rotation fell on a month where we were busy…if he would have had it during June or July I’m not sure I would have come out alive! We definitely missed him and we’re so glad that he is back in the Emergency Department now, but I’m glad we found ways to get through it.

First Day of School

The kids (and I) were SO excited to start school this year. Kinsie could not wait to get back to the classroom with her friends, and Brax was excited for a new adventure too. Kinsie has loved every moment since she started school. Going 5 days a week has been wonderful for her busy little mind. Brax has done surprisingly well for his first school experience. He still gets a little nervous when I drop him off, and it took a few days of peeling him off of me so I could leave…but other than that, he’s done great. He adores his teacher and seems to like the change of scenery. And I’m not going to lie, I’m enjoying my 2 days a week of kid-free time!

school-firstdayschool-play

T-Ball

Kinsie has been excited to start her first season of T-ball. We have practiced with her throughout the summer so she knew what to expect. She’s had 2 practices so far, and games start next month. She has really enjoyed practice, and loves having one of her friends from school on her team. Brax enjoys watching her practice too, but he mainly spends his time chasing bugs and climbing up and down the bleachers!

Tball-2Tball-1

Megan’s Baby Shower

As many of you know, my sweet nephew, due at the end of November, was prayed for long before he even existed. Megan and Tim had a long journey of infertility, and we were all in tears of joy when God finally blessed them with a baby boy. Long before Megan was even pregnant, I knew that when the day came, I wanted to throw a baby shower for my sister-in-law. With our current circumstances of us living 500 miles away, I knew it wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but it was going to happen. Months ago, I planned it all out – the kids and I would come visit for a week in September, and that is when we would have the shower. Luckily, the dates worked out for everyone else! I did what I could from a distance, and a few more of Megan’s aunts and cousins helped as well. The shower was a huge success! The decor was amazing, the food was great, and the company was perfect. The kids all enjoyed running amok and helping with the shower games, and we all loved spoiling sweet Megan and baby Mosier.

babyshower-2

Babyshower

Cincinnati Zoo

We used to go to the Cincinnati Zoo pretty often, mainly since they opened the Hippo Cove. In January 2017, the baby hippo Fiona was born premature. Because of this, it took longer than expected for baby Fiona to be displayed in the Hippo Cove with her parents. By the time she was big and healthy enough, we moved to Arkansas, so we weren’t able to see her in person. Kinsie has always followed Fiona’s story, and loves seeing pictures and videos of her. She even has a calendar and several books about her. When I found out we would be in Indiana for a week, I really wanted to make it happen to take Kinsie to finally meet Fiona. Grandma Bev and Aunt Megan tagged along, even though it was supposed to rain all day! However, a little rain would not stop my girl from meeting the baby hippo she’s been dying to meet for so long!

CincyZoo-1

We started our day at the Hippo Cove, and spent over an hour there. Luckily, the area was covered, so we escaped the rain for a bit. We LOVED meeting sweet Fiona! She was so active and energetic. She was swimming back and forth and doing flips everywhere. Kinsie was in heaven! Both kids followed her and her mom Bibi back and forth across the Hippo Cove and loved every minute of it!

img_0865CincyZoo-2

After spending the morning with Fiona and Bibi, we explored the rest of the zoo. Luckily, the rained eventually stopped and it turned out to be great weather. The morning rain kept the crowds away, so it was much more pleasant than usual. We especially loved the manatees, elephants, giraffes and gorillas. It was a long day, but completely worth it!

CincyZoo-3

The Lion King

While we were in Indiana, The Lion King Broadway show was playing in Indianapolis. My parents took my sister and I in New York when we were younger, and it was incredible. We really wanted the chance to share this experience with our kids. My mom, sister and I took the 3 older kids to the show. It was even better than I remember, and the kids absolutely loved it! We had a wonderful night and all 3 kids were zonked out by the time we got home!

LionKing-2LionKing-1LionKing3

Kinsie’s Birthday Adventures

We were a little bummed that Kinsie’s birthday fell on the same month that Ryan had his SICU rotation, but we used it as an opportunity for her to spend her birthday with our family in Indiana. Kinsie had a very busy and fun 5th birthday…

We started our day with traditional birthday donuts. Since we had just seen the Lion King the night before, Grandma Bev had Brax overnight, so we took advantage and had a much needed Kinsie and Mommy morning date!

birthdayfun-2

Kinsie wanted breakfast food for her birthday lunch, so we went to Bob Evans and invited some of her favorite people. We had an awesome lunch with balloons, a mini cake and piggy pancakes.

birthdaylunch

The town that my sister lives in had their homecoming parade that day, so I brought the kids to the parade with their cousins. They had a blast catching candy and Brax mainly pointed and laughed at all the floats and high school students dressed up like jungle animals.

parade

We ended the night with a birthday dinner at Yaya’s. Kinsie especially loved playing her new Hatchimals board game and painting her new unicorn molds with her cousins.

birthdayfun

Kinsie’s Magical Birthday Party

On our last day in Indiana, we had a unicorn-themed birthday party at Ryan’s Aunt Rita’s house. It was simple…just grandparents, a few aunts and uncles, and cousins. That’s all she needed! Like usual, I had a wonderful tribe helping me with the details! The decorations, cake, and cookies were perfect!

Kinsieparty-1

The kids had a blast running around on the swing set, riding bikes and motorized jeeps, opening presents, and hitting the piñata.

Kinsieparty-2

DSC_0385

Kinsie was one happy little unicorn girl. Since Ryan was on such a tough rotation, he wasn’t able to make it to Indiana at all this trip like he was able to last year. We really missed him, but we made sure we included him while we sang happy birthday to our girl.

DSC_0376DSC_0374

Grandparents Day at School

I literally could not have done the trip to Indiana without my amazing mother-in-law and my mom. Bev flew to Little Rock a few days before our trip and helped us drive to Indiana. Then my mom helped us drive back and stayed for a few days before flying back to Indiana. We are so lucky to have families who are so willing to help us!

The timing worked out perfectly, because my mom was able to be here for the kids’ school Grandparents Day. They both LOVED having Yaya at their school! They got extremely attached to Yaya while she was here, and we were very sad to see her go…but luckily we get to see her again in 2 weeks (trip to Florida coming up…stay tuned!)

GParentsDay2GParentsDay1

Family Time

We didn’t get very much of it during SICU…so any family time we got was a highlight. On Ryan’s few days off, or just in his 1/2 hour to 1 hour time spans we had with him on the days he worked, we squeezed in some quality time together. Whether it was a morning of fishing, watching a quarter of the first Colts game or a quick game of Kinsie’s Hatchimals board game, we just were happy to have Ryan home!

Family-coltsIMG_7105

Family-fishing

Again, I am so grateful for how busy we stayed this month. We really missed Ryan and hated barely getting to see him. However, I’m glad we used it as an opportunity to visit family. Since we won’t be able to take the kids out of school for a week at a time next year since Kinsie will be in Kindergarten, we are taking full advantage of her last year of Pre-K. We are really looking forward to the next few months since we have trips planned and holidays. The end of the year months are the best because we know we get to see family often. Having things to look forward to help us get through the tough days!

Enjoy our September 1 Second Everyday video!

 

Kinsie Kay is FIVE!

I cannot believe my daughter has been with us for half a decade. She is no longer a toddler, but a little girl. She is stubborn and passionate, but she can also be very shy and nurturing. She has developed her own opinion and attitude that she loves to test out in all situations. She takes her role of big sister very seriously, and fiercely protects her brother. Ironically, she is also the one to push his buttons and beat him up more often than necessary! She has more energy than she knows what to do with (thanks a lot, Grandma Bev!), and wears us all out. If any of you have ever read the children’s book Olivia, THAT is Kinsie. We always joke with her with the famous quote from that book…”You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway!” She has gotten much taller this year, and has legs for days! I’m sure she’ll be passing me up in no time!

Kinsie-unicorn_1-1

This year has been harder on her than we expected with living away from the home and family she’s ever known, but from that she has learned a lot of life lessons that I think have helped her mature. She definitely struggles with residency and everything that goes with it. She doesn’t like her daddy being away as much as he is, and she hates that she isn’t with all our family in Indiana. This breaks my heart when she gets sad about it, so we are working with her on finding ways to focus on the positive aspects of our situation. Keeping busy is crucial for her busy little mind, so lots of activities help keep her from getting sad. She does have lots of friends here between church, school, and the other residents’ kids, which helps her as well. She still loves Facetime sessions, and seeing pictures and videos of our family, and she enjoys counting down how many sleeps until the next time she gets to see them. She really has handled the changes very well for a little girl, and we have all bonded over the changes. Overall she is such a happy, bouncy, energetic, smart little girl who just loves life!

IMG_8621 IMG_0173IMG_9962

Here are some current stats about our Kinsie Kay:

  • Favorite color: still pink!
  • Favorite TV shows: Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Fancy Nancy and Vampirina
  • Favorite movie: The Greatest Showman
  • She is very well-rounded. She loves unicorns, princesses, mermaids, and dressing up in tutus, but she also loves dinosaurs, bugs, wrestling and getting dirty.Kinsie-silly
  • She LOVES drawing, arts, and crafts. She enjoys art on all kinds of media- paper, sidewalk chalk, the iPad, you name it. Every day she comes home from school with about 8 more pictures that she drew for us. This does not surprise me at all considering Ryan and I have always both loved art. Give her some paper and crayons, she’ll stay busy for hours. Throw in some scissors and tape, she’ll come up with all kinds of crazy creations!Kinsie-drawing
  • She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She used to also want to be a doctor, but now that she sees how often her daddy works, she doesn’t want to be a doctor anymore. Funny, but a little sad! Maybe once residency is over and Ryan’s hours decrease, she’ll want to be a doctor again!
  • She loves the outdoors. She loves fishing, hiking, running, climbing, swimming, finding critters, and more.Kinsie-tomboy
  • She absolutely loves animals. Visiting different zoos is one of her favorite hobbies. Her favorite animals are still hippos and dolphins. She recently got to meet Fiona the baby hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo and they became instant best friends! Kinsie-animals
  • Lately we’ve been teaching her a few sight words every day, and she loves helping me read her books before bed. She has actually done better with this beginning stage of reading than I expected, and she is surprising her teacher with her new skills. She’s become a pro at writing her letters, and knows how to spell certain words on her own. Her newest obsession is taking the words she knows and creating sentences. IMG_4402
  • She still loves reading books, and works hard at memorizing some of them so she can recite them to Brax. Soon she’ll be actually reading some on her own!IMG_8684
  • She has always loved water, but lately she has become quite the little fish. She has become much more comfortable in the water and has been practicing swimming underwater. I think she’ll be a pro by the end of next summer!Kinsie-swimming
  • She has a great imagination. She has always been so great at playing independently and coming up with very unique ways of playing.
  • She is currently playing T-ball and taking ballet classes. She still loves soccer, but agreed to take a break in order to try T-ball. So far she loves it!Kinsie-sports
  • She has never stayed too much of a mama’s girl, or a daddy’s girl…she’s both! She loves helping me around the house with chores and cooking, and she loves when I teach her new things. She loves using her daddy as her own personal jungle gym, and doing science experiments and sports with him.Kinsie-parents

She and I are very different in many ways, but can also be very similar. She thrives on social interaction, which is very different than me. She can be very hard on herself, which is just like me. Every day I learn something new about her and raising her stretches my limits and tests my patience every day, but I am working very hard to raise her into a God-fearing, respectful young lady. Even though she is stubborn (just like her dad), we are trying to teach her to use her drive and passion in positive ways. Pray for us!

DSC_0013

Here is a video I made to capture our little girl’s silly and spunky personality. Enjoy!

Happy 5th birthday, my beautiful firstborn. You will always be so special to me!

Brax is TWO!

I am still in denial that my little boy is TWO! This creeped up on me quicker than I expected, and I’m not ready for it! Turning two is such a big year and they grow so much physically and developmentally during this year. He is looking and acting more and more like a little boy rather than a baby, but he is SO much fun! We love watching his little personality blossom more and more every day. He does many things so much like Kinsie (because he is her little shadow and does everything she does), but he also has his own little idiosyncrasies that make him unique. He is definitely a “second child” and knows how to stick up for himself when big sis is doing something he doesn’t like. He is all boy who loves to wrestle, be loud, crash into and destroy things. He makes us laugh every day, and we just adore squeezing him, hugging him, tickling him and snuggling with him.

Brax_2Years-1-16

Here are some fun facts about our precious little two year old…

  • He gives the world’s best hugs…and we are not just biased. We’ve had several other people tell us this!
  • Kinsie is his best friend. His favorite thing to do with her is tackle her and wrestle.

IMG_7333

  • He is obsessed with our dogs and spends a significant amount of time chasing Addie around the house.
  • Some of his favorite activities include reading books, hiking, playing outside, playing ball, taking baths, and playing with trains and cars.

Braxblog-1

  • He is pretty fearless. More so than what makes me comfortable!
  • He is a major mama’s boy but also adores his Daddy… he screams out of excitement when he gets home from work.

IMG_6919 IMG_7961

  • His vocabulary has exploded. He can say a lot of words and phrases…we just can’t always understand him! Kinsie is the best at translating for him. We always call him Joey because if you’ve seen the episode of “Friends” where Phoebe is try to teach Joey how to speak French, he gets it all wrong but is completely confident that he’s saying it right. This is so Brax when he talks!
  • Favorite animals: gorillas, elephants, lions and alligators
  • Favorite movie: Coco
  • Favorite TV shows: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Bubble Guppies
  • Favorite food: mini corn dogs and scrambled eggs
  • Favorite books: “It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse” and “Big Smelly Bear”
  • Favorite song: The clean up song from Barney, and Poco Loco from the movie Coco
  • He has improved tremendously with his separation anxiety (thank goodness!) He now loves going to his church class and does great with babysitters.
  • He will start preschool (Mother’s Day Out) in September.
  • He is a complete ball of sunshine. He is SO happy, giggly, and adorable. We literally cannot get enough of him! Kinsie will even attack him with kisses and say “I can’t help it…he’s just so cute!” Agreed!

IMG_6330Brax_2Years-1-8Braxblog-3Braxblog-2Brax_2Years-1-13

Here is a video I made for Brax’s birthday so you can get a glimpse of the preciousness and chaos that I live with every day! Enjoy!

img_0183.jpg

Happy 2nd birthday my sweet, precious boy. You will have our hearts forever!

A November to Remember

Where did November go? I feel like it flew by! We have been having beautiful weather here in Arkansas, so it doesn’t even feel like it’s getting close to winter yet (sorry to rub it in your faces Indiana friends!) This month we enjoyed a visit from some family, lots of Thanksgiving festivities, and preparing for Christmas! Enjoy our November recap!

Grandparent’s Day

As SOON as I knew when Kinsie’s school had Grandparents Day, I let both sets of our parents know and hoped that at least one of them could plan a trip to make it. I really didn’t want Kinsie to be the only one in her class who didn’t have a grandparent there. It worked out for Ryan’s mom and aunt to make a trip to see us for a few days. Aunt Renata is practically a grandma to the kids, so she willingly stepped in. We always love having visitors at our home, and Kinsie loved having them visit her school.

IMG_4756IMG_2067

Decorating for Christmas

Decorating for Christmas always makes us so happy! The kids LOVE all the decorations, lights, and ornaments. Before you judge me too harshly for decorating before Thanksgiving, hear me out on our reasoning. 1) We would be headed to Indiana for Thanksgiving and wouldn’t have been able to decorate until December, 2) Our days with Ryan available are few and far between, and putting up the Christmas tree is a family tradition. We had to take advantage of one of his few days off, 3) We will be spending Christmas in Indiana, and I wanted us all to enjoy our decorations and tree for a worthy amount of time. It made us happy and we always make it a priority to remember the reason for the season, so why not, right?

decorating_treeadmiring_tree

We did at least wait to put our outside lights up until after Thanksgiving. Kinsie loved going up in the attic with Daddy. Brax wanted to as well, but that obviously wasn’t happening! We’ve had beautiful weather lately, so the kids enjoyed playing outside and eating popsicles while we put the decorations up.

outside

My Birthday

We drove to Indiana the evening before my birthday, and I was so glad I got to spend my birthday with all the people I love. We left later in the afternoon, so we were still driving when midnight struck. Of course my sweet mom set her alarm for midnight so she could wish me a happy birthday! I got to spend that evening with my whole family eating chilli and ice cream cake. Birthdays can’t get much better than that! And of course, I had to get a picture with my birthday buddy, my niece Kerigan (her birthday is the day after mine).

birthday

My sister’s birthday present to me was a “sister date” at Board and Brush. We got in touch with our artistic sides and had a great time!birthdaypresent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerigan’s Birthday

Like I said, my niece Kerigan’s birthday is the day after mine, so we’ve always been birthday buddies. Everyone else takes advantage of double birthday cakes! On the night of her birthday, we all went to Kid’s Planet. The kids all loved it!

kid's_planet

A couple days later was Kerigan’s party. She had a princess party, which is right up Kinsie’s alley right now too. Rapunzel (Kinsie and Kerigan’s favorite Disney princess) made a surprise visit and read them a story, danced with them, and spent most of the afternoon talking to all the kids. They loved it! Even though Brax isn’t into princesses, he had fun running amok too!

Kerigan_party

Thanksgiving

Before we left Arkansas, Kinsie had a Thanksgiving feast at school. Luckily, we were all able to attend. The kids came out, sang a song, said a prayer, and then joined their families for lunch. Kinsie was a rockstar during the song and followed directions so well. My FAVORITE part, however, was as soon as Kinsie’s class came out, Brax ran up to her and pointed to her and said “Kinsie!!” He was SO excited to see her, even though he had seen her earlier that morning at home. Then once she was done with her presentation and she came to eat with us, they hugged like they hadn’t seen either other in days. They have such a special relationship!

school_feast

We spent actual Thanksgiving day with family in Indiana. We started our morning visiting Ryan’s grandma, then we went to Megan’s house for Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan’s dad’s side of the family, then we went to Ryan’s aunt Rita’s house to celebrate with Ryan’s mom’s side, then finally ended up back at my parents to celebrate with my family. It was a LONG day, but we felt so blessed to have so many places to be and so many people to celebrate with.

IMG_5037DSC_0003-BWDSC_0012DSC_0008

Cousin Time

Anytime we visit, the kids’ main request is lots and lots of cousin time! They are all so close and all have a blast together. It doesn’t matter whether they are wrestling on the floor, jumping rope in the garage, coloring, or pushing each other in a laundry basket…they always have fun as long as they’re together!

cousin_time

Visiting Grandma Graves

Ryan’s grandma has recently been placed on hospice care. While this is extremely difficult for the family, she is very at peace about it and ready to join Jesus in her heavenly home. We were SO lucky to get to visit her several times while we were in town. I say we are so lucky, because Ryan originally didn’t think he’d be able to even make this trip home. However, the week of Thanksgiving happened to be in between two of his rotations, and he was able to schedule all his shifts earlier in the month so that he was able to have a week off. He managed to do this before Grandma Graves declined. It was such a blessing that he had the time off so he could visit with his grandma before she goes home. We loved our visits with her. She loved talking with us, sharing her funny stories, and watching the kids play. She is a gem of a woman…as faithful as they come. She has had several articles published, but my favorite one included this nugget of wisdom, “I’ve never had any money but still I’m richer than the richest because I’ve been blessed with many children and grandchildren.” She is such an amazing woman and she will always inspire me.

GrandmaGraves

That just about sums up our month. We ended our month with sickness…lots and lots of it. Kinsie started with a bad cold, then Brax got a stomach bug, then I got the stomach bug, then I got the cold, then Brax got the cold, then Kinsie got the stomach bug. Fun times. Not to mention, my mom and my nieces and nephew all got sick too. It has been a very long and exhausting week, and we are so ready to all be completely healthy and back to normal. December will hopefully be filled with lots of Christmas activities and family time. The kids are already anxious for Santa sightings, Christmas lights, and more cousin time!

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!

flight

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!

IMG_2833IMG_2834

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!

first nightIMG_2885IMG_2929cousinsIMG_2897

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!

birthdayIMG_2947IMG_2957

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!

Purdue

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!

dressupIMG_2863dressup2

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!

haircut

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.

lakeboatIMG_3117IMG_3198lake2

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!

IMG_3232IMG_3308

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!

party-1

DSC_0026DSC_0035

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.

DSC_0041party-2DSC_0097party-3

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.

IMG_3311IMG_3296IMG_E3268

 

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!

party-4IMG_3295

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!