A December to Remember

We had SUCH a busy and exciting month of December! In all honesty, we had very few days where we didn’t have some kind of activity happening. We had countless Christmas parties and programs, a new family member born, and an amazing trip to Indiana filled with cousin craziness, and Christmas love. Bare with me, this is going to be a full recap!

Welcome, baby Griffin!

On the morning of December 1, I finally received the text message I’d been anxiously awaiting. “Baby Mosier is on the way!” It was a beautiful day here in Arkansas, so as we waited to hear more, the kids and I walked over to the park. I watched my phone like a hawk and finally got the news that Griffin Timothy made his appearance at 10:08am. He is as sweet and perfect as can be, and the kids were thrilled that they had a new cousin. We got to unofficially meet him through FaceTime later that day, and we got to officially meet him in person later when we traveled to Indiana for Christmas. This precious boy was prayed for long before he came, and he was absolutely worth the wait!

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Advent and Christmas crafts

My kids have always known that the birth of Jesus is why we celebrate Christmas. However, every year, we teach them a little more as they can comprehend more with age. This year, the ladies in my Bible study created an Advent study for kids, and I thought Kinsie would be the perfect age to really dive into the reason for the season. We made small ornaments with a bible verse on one side and a picture representing that verse on the other side, and a small guide that went over each verse/story. Every day in December, the kids and I would read the Bible story that corresponded with that day, and they would take turns hanging the ornament on a small tree. They absolutely loved it! The stories didn’t keep Brax’s attention quite as much, but he got the overall gist. Kinsie on the other hand, completely soaked it in. I was so impressed by how much she “got it” this year. I think it also helped that she was learning these stories at school and church as well. We loved doing this Advent study together, and this set can be reused each year.

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Kinsie is all about crafts. One of her days off school, we made a trip to Hobby Lobby to buy some Christmas crafts she could make. I figured this would be a project that would keep her busy for a few days – nope! She made all of them in ONE day. She made little Christmas dogs and manger scenes for everyone she knew – including our neighbors. She loved writing who they were for and delivering the crafts to everyone!

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Santa Sightings

Ever since Kinsie was about 2, she has requested to see Santa Claus. I’m not the kind to force my kids to sit on a stranger’s lap and take of picture of them screaming and trying to escape, so I’ve only taken the kids by request. Last year, Brax wasn’t really digging it, so we all just got a family picture with Santa, and Brax sat with me. This year, I was shocked to find out that Brax did amazing with Santa! I’m sure it helped that Kinsie went with him and helped him be brave. We visited Santa at Bass Pro Shop, which was an awesome experience. After visiting with Santa, we hung around and did some of the different activities they had around the store for Christmas. Santa also made an appearance at the kids’ school, and they kids did great again. Santa was definitely a hit this year!

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Residency Christmas Party

This was one of our favorite events last year, and this year was a blast as well. We all loved visiting with our residency friends, and the kids also loved getting some awesome gifts. We are so blessed to be a part of such a great residency group!

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Parent (and brother) Week at Ballet

Kinsie’s ballet program has various themed weeks, such as Pinkalicious Week, and Express Yourself Week. The most recent themed week was “Parent Participation Week,” where parents were invited to join the class. I had Brax with me since Ryan was working, so he got to join as well. I loved getting to watch Kinsie in her class (normally we don’t get to watch), and Brax had a blast running around with Kinsie doing dance moves!

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Christmas Music Programs

Kinsie had a Christmas program with her Wednesday night church class. We hadn’t been able to attend Wednesday night church regularly during the last few months, so I wasn’t sure if she would even know the songs or motions, but she did great!

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Both the kids also had a program at school. Kinsie’s class also did a manger skit, and she was a sheep. Brax’s class joined for the last two songs. I wasn’t sure how he would do in front of a crowd, but he did great! (Sorry I don’t have pictures of the program – but you can see glimpes of the program on the 1 Second video at the end of this post!)

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After the program, Kinsie’s class had their Christmas party and the parents were invited to stay for it. Ryan was finishing up his PICU rotation, and didn’t have very many days off, but chose this day as one of his days off so he could be a part of it. Kinsie was SO happy to have us there, especially her daddy!

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Other Christmas Fun

The kids loved filling our pantry door with Christmas cards and the crafts they made all month. They were very proud! Kinsie also loved pointing out all the people she knew on the Christmas cards we received.

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On the last Wednesday night church of the month, the kids got to have a pajama party with their classes. With that said, can I just say I was insanely impressed with my church kids’ program on how involved they get with Christmas? To kick off the Christmas season earlier in the month, they brought in live animals and had people dressed as Mary Joseph, a baby Jesus, the three kings, you name it. They also had the hallways beautifully decorated, and had awesome lessons and crafts every week! We are so blessed that we found a church we love!

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Ryan and Brax both received Christmas Groot shirts as gifts. Brax was so proud to match Daddy!

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Christmas in Indiana

After Ryan finished his PICU rotation, he started his Anesthesia/Ultrasound rotation, which comes with a week off. We were all so excited that he got to travel to Indiana with us for a week! We also brought the dogs with us so they could be with us for Christmas. Usually the dogs are great travelers and just chill in the back of the SUV, but Koda wasn’t feeling it this time. He slowly snuck his way up to the front with the kids, and even spent a little time on Kinsie’s lap! Once we got to Indiana, we had a FULL week ahead of us!

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Meeting Griffin

The first thing we wanted to do when we got to Indiana was meet sweet Griffin. The kids were obsessed with him, understandably so. Kinsie loved holding him, and Brax loved rubbing his head. After meeting him, Kinsie talked about him nonstop. He really was as sweet and precious as can be, and we all fell in love with him immediately!

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Christmas #1 – Immediate Matthews family and Stevens/Stars cousins

The next day, we had breakfast and a gift exchange with Ryan’s immediate family. The kids had a blast opening their presents, snuggling with Griffin and wrestling Uncle Nate. Later in the afternoon, we met up at Aunt Rita’s house to see some of the kids’ other cousins. The kids spent hours playing with each other decorating Christmas cookies.

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Christmas Eve (Christmas #2 – Matthews family at Renata’s)

Like usual, we attended our old church for a Christmas Eve service. As always, it was an amazing sermon and it really made me miss that church. Kinsie and Brax both got to go in their church classes with cousins, so they weren’t as nervous being in an unfamiliar class. After church, we went to Aunt Renata’s house for Christmas with Ryan’s extended family. We had lots of great family time and the kids enjoyed opening more gifts. We also got more baby Griffin time, which was pretty much the kids’s #1 priority!

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(Side note: Christmas miracle alert – Brax let me put a collared shirt on him! If you know him, you know how big of a deal this is. This was probably the nicest he has ever looked, so I had to heavily document it!)

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Family pics before church

 

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Christmas Morning (Christmas #3 – Vargas family)

The kids woke up on Christmas morning to see that Santa treated them well! Kinsie’s got a Hatchibaby, a Fiona the hippo calendar, a few new princess dresses, and two new Hatchimal play sets. Brax got a balance bike, a construction play set, and some new puzzles. After we did Santa gifts and our own family gifts, my sister’s family came over and we all opened gifts from each other. This is always one of my favorite days of the year. Somehow it is always chaotic, yet relaxing. The kids play all day with each other and their new toys, and you can barely see the floor from all the wrapping paper and new gifts. We are so blessed to have so many people that love us and spoil us and our kids!

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A few days later, we headed back to Arkansas in a VERY packed car. Ryan’s packing skills were truly impressive, and the dogs had to squeeze in to the front with us. As always, it was a tough goodbye, but we were ready to be home and start a new year.

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Notice in these pictures, my sweet girl is bawling her eyes out. She hates leaving family…poor girl! Also we couldn’t quite squeeze Brax in the bottom picture!

Ringing in the New Year

Like last year, we had a family evening at home for New Year’s Eve. We ate pizza, played Super Smash Brothers and a couple of new board games, drank fizzy drinks and popped confetti poppers…and all before 9pm! We did an early countdown (thanks Netflix) with the kids, then put them to bed. We had a great family night!

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And that wraps up our year! This year was transformational for me. I started out the year somewhat low, and promised myself that I would work harder to make Little Rock my home and grow some roots here. Now, I can honestly say I am happy here. Yes, we still want to move back to Indiana when residency is over, but I finally hit my stride here, especially as a stay at home mom. God did some serious work on my hear this year, and made me see the amazing benefits and potential of staying at home during this season. Staying at home has made me a better mom and wife, and I’m finally at peace with this being my role right now. I am in a great place right now and I give all the credit to God!

Here is my last 1SE video of 2018. I love this monthly tradition, so I plan to continue it in 2019. Happy New Year!

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

The Merry Month of May

We had so much fun this month! We spent about 90% of our time outside, which the kids loved. We celebrated my sweet boy turning 2, explored new parks, camped out with family, and much more.

Brax’s Birthday

Brax had a great 2nd birthday! We started the day with birthday donuts, then once we took Kinsie to school, we had a Mommy and Brax day. We played in our backyard for a while, then I took him to the park (his favorite) and he had the best time! Once Ryan was home from work, we opened presents and made Brax’s favorite meal – pancakes and scrambled eggs. After dinner, we made birthday ice cream sundaes. We had one happy little birthday boy…and one happy big sister too!

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Family Fishing

Whenever Ryan has a day off, we always try to take advantage and plan something fun as a family. Fishing is one of our favorite things to do, and we just have to walk the 5 minutes to the park to do it! Brax hasn’t mustered up the courage to hold a fish yet, but he still gets real excited to see Kinsie do it!

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Mother’s Day

It was hard being away from family on Mother’s Day. Especially because Ryan was working a lot of mid-shifts (3pm-1am) which are my least favorite. We got to spend some family time at a park and had a Mother’s Day dinner a few days before, but on the actual day, he had to work that evening. We at least got to go to church together, and I still got to spend the day with my babies. Kinsie was really into Mother’s Day this year…she made me something special at school, and drew pictures for me all week long. She even taught Brax how to say “Happy Mama Day!” Heart melted!

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Downtown Fun

The Farmer’s Market is officially back open for the season! I LOVE the Little Rock Farmer’s Market. There are so many vendors selling fruits, veggies, jams, granola, wine (my personal favorite), and much more. One of the vendors had painting for kids, so they loved painting pictures and little figurines. After exploring the Farmer’s Market, we let the kids play at the Rock Park for a little while. This is one of our new favorite Saturday morning traditions!

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Family Park Days

Whenever Ryan had a day off this month, we tried out some different parks. Right when we finished with his MICU rotation, we spent the morning at the park by our house. We took roller skates, bubbles, soccer balls, frisbees, scooters…you name it. The kids had a blast just running around in the open fields. This day was a breath of fresh air after Ryan’s long month.

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Another day, we went to another park that the kids and I had played before with some friends. The kids love the playground, but they loved the creek even more. They sat down by the creek for probably an hour just throwing rocks and looking for critters. Family park days are our favorite!

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GreekFest

Little Rock had a Greek food festival one weekend. Ryan loves Greek food, and we heard good things about the festival, so we went with some friends. We had a great time! They had bouncy houses, tons of food, crafts, shopping, and more. The food was awesome and the kids had a great time playing with the other kids.

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Kinsie’s Last Day of School

Kinsie had her last day of Pre-K3, and she was excited, but also sad. She loved her class and her teacher this year. This school was such a blessing for us, and we are so grateful that they loved on our girl and helped her feel at home here. She is excited to start in the Pre-K4 class in the fall…and Brax will start in the two year old class!

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Ok…can we talk about how much my children have grown this year? I couldn’t believe the difference in both of them from September to May. Kinsie is turning into such a beautiful young lady, and I feel like she grew a foot taller this year. Brax was a BABY at the beginning of the year, and now he is a little boy. I can’t even handle it!

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Other Outside Fun

Like I said, we have spent a lot of time outside. For a while, we were even eating our dinners outside every night before it started getting too hot. We had a routine…the kids would play in the backyard while Ryan and I prepared dinner. Then we would eat outside, then the kids would sit in the swinging chair with Ryan for a little while, then they would play a little longer until we couldn’t handle the mosquitos any longer. We also broke out the sprinkler and water table, and the kids have been in heaven! Their favorite part is spraying each other with the hose.

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Kinsie drew this picture of our entire family. Notice that she even drew our dogs, and labeled everyone in the picture!

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Residency Crawfish Boil

One of my favorite things about the UAMS Residency program is how many family events we have. We recently had a crawfish boil, and we had a blast. The kids loved playing with the crawfish (before they were cooked), playing in the bounce house, playing with balls, chalk, and bubbles, and enjoying their friends. Kinsie wasn’t as crazy about eating the crawfish, but Brax loved it!

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Memorial Weekend

Ryan’s family came to visit us over Memorial Weekend. Megan and Tim camped out at Petit Jean State Park, and Ryan’s mom and brother Nate stayed with us. The state park is about an hour away, so we took turns spending time at our house, and at the park. On Ryan’s day off, we spent the morning hiking. Every trail we’ve been on at that park has been amazing. The kids loved throwing rocks in the water, looking at the small waterfalls and splashing in puddles.

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The next night, we had a cookout at Meg and Tim’s camper. We roasted hot dogs and s’mores, and the kids had a blast running around playing hide and seek and drinking from the water tank. It was a busy, fun and much-needed weekend with family!

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Road Trip to Indiana

Since Ryan’s family visited for Memorial Weekend, and Ryan was in a wedding the next weekend, we thought that would be a great opportunity for the kids to spend the week in Indiana. They rode back with Ryan’s mom and then we brought them back home the next weekend. The kids had such a great time at the lake, playing with cousins, swimming, and more. I sure missed my babies, but goodness it was nice to have a break.

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Exciting News!

We recently found out some very exciting news…Ryan’s sweet sister Megan, and her husband Tim are expecting a baby in November! This is a HUGE blessing and such an answered prayer. They technically told us in April, but we were sworn to secrecy until just a couple of weeks ago. I was honored to take their announcement pictures when they came to visit us last month. The kids are SO excited to get a new baby cousin soon!

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And as always, I end my post with our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of May. Enjoy!

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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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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!

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

One Fine February

I can’t believe it is already March tomorrow. Usually January and February DRAG on, but this year it hasn’t seemed near as bad. Our winter months here in Arkansas haven’t exactly been sunshine and super warm temps, but they were definitely more mild than what I am used to in Indiana, which was very helpful to help us adjust. Overall, it hasn’t really been play outside weather, but we’ve had a handful of really nice days. The last few weeks we’ve had a TON of rain…our backyard was a giant mud pool. But now the warmer weather is starting to peek out, and we are loving it! February wasn’t super eventful, but we did have some visitors, a fun Valentine’s Day, and some fun outdoor adventures.

Costumes, coloring, and play-dough…oh my!

Like I said, we did have to spend a significant amount of time inside. Luckily we love our house and have lots of things to do in it, so we definitely stayed busy! We watched lots of Disney movies, (especially Moana…both the kids’ obsession…or as Brax calls it, “Na-Na”) we read hundreds of books, did lots of art and coloring activities, played dress up, had lots of dance parties, and more. Even though sometimes I would rather be outside or find things outside of the house to do, I love seeing the kids be creative and use their imagination while they play. Kinsie loves teaching Brax different things, and he loves learning from her. They both love to read, and often bring us book after book after book to read, which can be exhausting, but I love that we’re instilling these habits into them while they are still so little.

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Valentine’s Day Fun

I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day…Ryan and I always thought it was overrated and didn’t want to spend money on flowers or gifts when we’d rather just get to spend time together. Most holidays change once you have kids, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Kinsie loved everything about this holiday! We loved making Valentine cookies together. They may not have looked perfect, but they tasted good and we had a blast making them. Kinsie also loved hand-making all her Valentines for her family and friends at school. We bought the kits to make her Valentines a few weeks before she actually needed them, and she wanted to start working on them right away! She did all of them by herself, including writing the names of each person she made a valentine for…I just had to help her spell the names. She was so proud of herself and couldn’t wait to pass them out to everyone. Brax enjoyed all the extra love and kisses on Valentine’s Day as well. The kids loved getting valentines from family and friends, and we hung them all up on our pantry door.

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Making cookies with my girl

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Making and passing out her valentines for school

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A Visit from my Parents

My parents have had this trip planned for over a month, and we couldn’t wait! They visited for about 4 days, and they were constantly loving on, hugging and kissing the kids. We had some great meals, had several dance parties, and took walks around the park when the weather cooperated. The kids loved having Papa and Yaya here to visit!

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Outside Day

The last few days have been really nice, and since we were cooped up inside the house while it rained for several days straight, we were aching to be outside. Ryan had the day off on a Monday (and Kinsie doesn’t have school yet on Mondays), so we spent the entire morning at the zoo. After Brax’s nap, we spent the evening outside riding bikes, taking a walk around the park, and visiting with our neighbors. We spent almost the whole day outside on a random day in February, and we loved every minute of it. We are hopeful for more and more of these kinds of days in the near future.

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We didn’t have a very busy month, but even so, I feel like a lot happened. I feel like I’m finally starting to grow some roots here. We found a church home that we love, and I even feel comfortable going by myself with the kids when Ryan’s not able to come. I started attending a Bible study for moms with young children, which has introduced me to many women who are in a similar season of life. Finally, I started a new job! I began working at a tutoring center, where I work with kids one-on-one who are academically behind to help get them back up to grade level. I’m really enjoying it so far, and it works out perfectly for our schedule. It’s nice doing something just for me, and getting some of my teacher fix that I’ve desperately missed. I’m so grateful that God has put all these opportunities in my lap, and that he gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone a bit more to explore and find ways to help me feel more fulfilled. We still really miss being around family, but I have been working hard at meeting new people and finding new activities to help fill that void.

To finish my post, here is our “One Second Everyday” February video. Enjoy the laughing, dancing, yelling and wrestling that goes on in my household every day!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We had a very busy and exciting December! Our month was filled with Christmas fun, family, cold weather, watching movies, and new toys. We were lucky to get to spend about 10 days in our hometown in Indiana with our family, and we came home packed like sardines with all of the kids’ new toys! Here were the highlights of our December.

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Kinsie’s Christmas Program

Kinsie was so excited about her music program at school. Whenever I would ask her what songs they were going to sing, she would say, “It’s a surprise! You’ll have to wait and see!” The funny thing is, they sang Rudolph, Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells…nothing super unique, but she was so proud! She was a rockstar and was one of the few kids in the group who followed directions the whole time and did all the motions. Ryan was on night shifts during this time, so he came home from work around 8am, went to sleep for a few hours, woke up to come to the program at 11, then went back to sleep when it was over. Kinsie was so happy that we were all able to come see her program. Brax was the proudest little brother ever and showed her with lots of hugs afterwards!

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Meeting Santa

Kinsie always loves meeting Santa, and Brax was a champ meeting him last year…mainly because he was too young to really understand that a strange man with a white beard was holding him instead of his mom, but this year he was very aware! I knew he probably wouldn’t be feeling it…even though the whole way there he acted excited and continued to shout “Ho Ho Ho!” whenever we talked about Santa. Once we were near him, nope! He wouldn’t leave my side. Kinsie did great and told Santa what she wanted for Christmas. Since Brax wouldn’t sit with Santa, we had to get the whole family in the picture because I was not going to be that mom that pays $25 for a picture of my child screaming with Santa!

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We couldn’t go see Santa without Kinsie’s princess crown!

EM Christmas Party

One of the things that attracted Ryan to the UAMS Emergency Department was how family oriented they are. They include families in all of their get-togethers, and obviously family is Ryan’s priority. Every year at the Emergency Department Christmas party, the department head’s wife buys all of the residents’ kids Christmas presents…and not the cheap junky toys, but really good toys. Santa even came to the party to deliver the presents. Again, Kinsie loved meeting Santa, even though she said that he looked different than the Santa she met at the mall, so he must just be one of Santa’s helpers. And again, Brax wanted nothing to do with Santa! (as seen in the picture below). Kinsie got an Elsa doll (her fave) and a really nice play kitchen appliance set. Brax got a set of cars and balls, and a construction truck that came with a hard hat and mega blocks. The kids were PUMPED about their gifts…and Brax wanted it all opened right away and was not happy that he couldn’t open it himself (again, as seen in the picture below). We had a great night with friends, food, Santa and gifts!

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Home for the Holidays and Cousin Fun

We were so lucky that we were all able to go home to Indiana to spend Christmas with our families. Even though it was VERY cold, we were so grateful to be surrounded by the people we love most.

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Like most visits home, the kids’ favorite part was definitely all the special cousin time! They played at an indoor playground together, had a few sleepovers, decorated cookies, and spent countless hours drawing, doing puzzles, playing with princesses and dressing up together. The bond between these five kids is something so special, and even living 500+miles away from each other doesn’t change that!

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Multiple Christmases

The few days surrounding Christmas are always super busy, but we love it. We always have several places to be and families to see. The kids function best when they are staying busy and are surrounded by a lot of people, especially now that we live away from all of these people. We started with Ryan’s immediate family gift exchange, then went to Aunt Renata’s after church on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts with Ryan’s dad side, then spent Christmas morning with my family, then finally went to another one of Ryan’s aunt’s house to spend time with Ryan’s mom side. Lots of places to be, but we loved every minute of it. The kids got SO many gifts and saw lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins, so they were happy!

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Christmas Morning

Santa was informed ahead of time that we wouldn’t be in our home in Little Rock for Christmas, but would be at my parents’ house, so we brought along our stockings and Santa made all his deliveries there. Kinsie was in princess heaven, and even though Brax didn’t feel great, he loved all of his cars, Batman, Mickey and fish toys. My parents loved having little kids for Christmas morning again too. After a while, my sister’s family came over so we could all exchange gifts. At every family Christmas we went to, Kinsie especially loved sorting and passing out all the gifts to everyone (she’s in the beginning stages of reading, I can barely believe it!) The kids spent hours opening and playing with all their new toys together.

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New Year’s Eve

We had to head back to Little Rock before New Year’s for Ryan to get back to work, but luckily he is on day shifts so he was able to be with us for New Year’s fun in the evening. We had a little party with karaoke, dancing, balloons, noise makers, Apples to Apples, Guess Who, and sparkling cider. We even had a countdown before the kids’ bedtime. Last year, Kinsie stayed up until midnight at my sister’s house with her cousins, but I knew since she didn’t have anyone other than us to entertain her for an extra 4 hours, we just did an early countdown and then both kids went to bed. We had a great family night together.

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In my last post, I mentioned how Ryan’s grandma was sick and in hospice care. At the time, she was given 2 weeks to live. We visited with her several time while home for Thanksgiving, but we were blessed to get to visit with her again while home for Christmas. We spent the morning with her the day after Christmas, and she loved talking with us and watching the kids play. A few days later, she took a turn for the worse, and just the other day, seven weeks after she was given only two weeks to live, she finally went home to heaven. While this is so hard for her 8 children, 20 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and the many other people who had the pleasure of knowing and loving her, she was ready for a long time to be with the Lord. She was such an amazing woman, and I still give her credit for helping Ryan and I find our way back to each other 8 years ago. I feel honored to call her family.

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We had a wonderful December, and we are so blessed that Ryan was able to get off work for a week to join us for Christmas. I know how much it meant to him to be home with us for Christmas, and especially to get to see his grandma one more time. Christmas is extra magical when you have children, so we all look forward to it every year. I love teaching the kids about Jesus and how he is the reason we give and receive gifts for Christmas. Every year, Kinsie understands this concept a little more, and this year in school she learned even more about the Christmas story. She loved reading stories about Baby Jesus’s birth in the manger, and playing the story out with her Fisher Price manger set. Brax is obviously just learning to talk and understand things, so we taught him to recognize Baby Jesus. It sounded more like “Baby Cheese,” but we knew what he meant!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my friends and family!

Our April

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

Soccer

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

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The boys cousins watching the girls

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Easter

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

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Showing off their gifts from the Easter bunny

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

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Crazy kids getting ready for their egg hunt

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Bradford Woods

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

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Brax’s Birthday Party

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

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