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!

Ten Months with our Wild Man

Holy cow…my little boy is going to be a year old in only 2 months!! My goodness though…he is such an awesome kid. He never stops moving, he is constantly getting into things that he’s not supposed to, he exhausts me beyond explanation, but he is absolutely the BEST thing that has ever happened to us.

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Here is the breakdown of our Braxy boy at 10 months old…

  • His eyes are starting to turn brown(ish).
  • He can walk by himself with his walking toy.
  • He has 4 new teeth!
  • He is an eating machine. He LOVES table food…scrambled eggs, pears, crackers, waffles…you name it, he loves it.
  • He is starting to enjoy being read to, rather than just trying to escape or eat the book.
  • He HATES being contained. While in his high chair or car seat, he tries to bust out like the Hulk.
  • He is starting to use a sippy cup.
  • His spitting up is continuing to improve, and he is officially off of his acid reflux medication…yay!
  • He just switched to a convertible car seat.
  • He loves standing at the front door and greeting everyone as they come in.
  • His favorite things to play with right now are coasters and the magnet letters on the fridge.

Kinsie continues to be tested as Brax becomes bigger and more mobile. He always tries to grab whatever she is playing with, and he loves to get a handful of her hair! She is still learning how to treat (and not treat) her brother…and some days are better than others (being stuck in the house all day certainly doesn’t help!). Regardless, Kinsie is still one of Brax’s favorite people! He still thinks she is hilarious, and she still loves entertaining him and loving on him every chance she gets!

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Ok my baby…you can slow down on growing any day now!

March is here!!

You guys…it’s finally March! This is such a big deal for me in many ways…I always LOVE when February is over and March begins. It means that the majority of winter is over, and spring is almost here! I also love March Madness, and 2 weeks off for spring break…and this March is especially important for our family. We find out in about 2 weeks where Ryan will get matched for residency! If you were to ask me a year ago how I felt about the possibility of moving to another state, I would have had a panic attack right there on the spot. I’ve prayed every single day about this to help me adjust to this idea and be excited for whatever adventure God brings us. I have come a LONG way, and now I truly am excited to find out what our future will look like…even if it means uprooting from my home in Indiana.

Now on to how our February was…it was busy! From ear infections to random beautiful weather, to a weekend trip to Arkansas…here is the breakdown of our past month.

Sick kiddos

Early in the month, Kinsie had a double ear infection. Poor girl missed a whole week of school, and eventually went to the doctor and was put on antibiotics. It was like having a newborn at night again…she would be up every few hours crying from ear pain. As soon as she started feeling better, Brax caught the bug too. Finally we got everyone healthy again for about two weeks, and then it came back around to Kinsie again! She is currently on a second round of antibiotics and we are praying that Brax doesn’t get it again too!

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Valentines Day

Kinsie and I made homemade valentines this year for her class. She loved sitting down with me and putting together her ladybug valentines! On Valentines Day, Kinsie made heart cookies with Aunt Renata while Brax just enjoyed being a studly “eligible bachelor!”

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Wagon Rides and Kisses

We had a few days of random beautiful weather in February…so we jumped at the opportunity to take the kids outside for some fresh air. Brax got to experience his first wagon ride. He loved the ride and Kinsie loved having a buddy.

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Visiting Abuelita

My sweet grandma has been in an assisted living for a couple months now, and I finally got the chance to go visit her with my dad. I decided to keep the kids at home with Ryan so I could just have some quality relaxing time with my dad and grandma. We took her out for ice cream and she loved it! It was a great day seeing one of my favorite people in the world!

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Arkansas

Out of all of Ryan’s interviews that he went on, Arkansas was one of his favorite places. He loved the program, and the area. Since he knew he wanted to rank it pretty high on his list, he wanted me to get a chance to see it too. We took a weekend trip just the two of us. We loved exploring the beautiful city and imagining it being our future home. Grandma Bev watched the kids for us, and they had a blast too!

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Other Random Indoor Fun

Like I’ve mentioned before, when it’s winter and you have a small house with limited playing space…you have to be creative with your kids to keep them entertained. We made a clubhouse out of a cardboard box, had laundry basket rides, played “Troll Trouble,” took trips to the store to ride the horse, and lots more. Kinsie has been obsessed lately with learning how to write her letters, as well as drawing things like dinosaurs. Tic-tac-toe is one of her new faves too. And as always, the kids love it anytime they get to have cousin playdates!

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I am SO excited that it is finally March! We have a lot happening this month that I can’t wait to find out more about and share it with you! Happy (almost) Spring!

9 Months with Braxy Boy

The older my son gets, the more obsessed with him I become. He is becoming such an awesome little boy. He is already so much fun to hang out with. He completely exhausts me because he is CONSTANTLY moving, but I chase him around with a smile on my face and a heart full of love. His sweet little smile not only melts the hearts of those who know and love him, but even strangers that see him when we are out and about. Everyone he comes in contact with can’t help but smile back at him. He has made some major developmental strides this month and he is reaching milestones much quicker than his big sister did. He is already a little dare devil…trying to crawl, climb, and stand anywhere he can…and if he falls, he rarely cries, but instead gets right back up and is at it again!

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Our Braxy Boy’s 9 month updates:

  • He is 18 lbs, 6 oz (25th percentile) and 28.5 inches long (75th percentile).
  • He is a pro at pulling up. He wants to do it ALL THE TIME.
  • He loves eating table food…especially mixed veggies.
  • He loves to make raspberry noises while eating baby food…resulting in a baby food shower for me at every meal.
  • He waves bye-bye (and it’s the most precious thing ever).
  • He can shake his head no.
  • He is obsessed with bath time with big sis.
  • He is talking more and more.
  • He is still a mama’s boy.
  • His favorite things to play with are all the fake kitchen food and dishes (particularly the chicken leg and the carrot).
  • He loves the “Hot Dog Song” on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
  • He loves to stand and climb on everything…everywhere…all the time.

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A common view of my little mama’s boy…

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The progression of sibling story time

Kinsie and Brax are still the best of buddies. She (usually) plays very well with him, but is still learning that if her toys on are the floor, they are free game for him. I love the way she talks to him and she LOVES making him laugh (as you’ll see in the following video)

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Seriously though…I’m obsessed! Happy 9 months Braxy boy!

Our 8 Month Crazy Man

Another month has gone by and our little boy is 8 months old now! When I was pregnant with him, he was a crazy little guy, constantly kicking and flipping around. I knew then that I was not going to have a mellow baby, and this has stood to be quite true! Our crazy little guy’s personality is shining so brightly every day, and he brings so much sunshine to our lives!

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Kinsie and Brax’s relationship is continuing to grow every day. She loves making him laugh and cheering him on with everything he does. He interacts so much with her and she loves it. I still have to tell her from time to time to give him some space because she always wants to be right by him touching and hugging him. Now that he is moving around and crawling more, Kinsie is really being challenged on the concept on sharing her toys with him. They will both be playing on the floor and he always wants to play with whatever she has…and she is not always ok with that. She liked it better when she had control over what to share with him by handing him toys and him not being able to move around to get something different. She is learning quickly though that unless it is something not safe for him, they have to share toys!

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Kinsie “helping” take Brax’s pictures. She always puts on a headband and makes funny faces to make him smile. Then she climbs up in the chair to get her picture with him!

Here are some updates on our boy at 8 months…

  • He can hold his own bottle.
  • He is still as spitty as ever…and still doesn’t seem to mind it.
  • He is not only army crawling now…but real crawling.
  • He is starting to pull up on things.
  • He always wants to play with what he shouldn’t have. For example, he will be surrounded by toys, but all he wants is the remote control.
  • He is a major Mama’s boy right now. Don’t get me wrong…I’m flattered. But it is EXHAUSTING. And it is not enough to just have me in the room, he wants me holding him. When I sit next to him to play on the ground, he crawls up into my lap. Again, I love it, but it exhausts me!
  • He is very ticklish.
  • He has had his first trip on an airplane and did great.
  • He met Mickey Mouse and loved him.
  • He still has just 2 teeth.

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Proud of his finally somewhat chunky legs!

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Happy 8 Months, my sweet boy!

Farewell, 2016!

2016 was a great year for us…one of the best we’ve had! We had so many wonderful and life-changing things happen this year, so I had to make a blog post giving a shout-out to 2016. I wanted to do a “Top 10” of the great things that happened this year, but I couldn’t narrow it down enough so instead you are getting the “Top 12 Favorite Moments of 2016!”

#12 – Kinsie was potty trained!

This may seem trivial, but to us, it was a HUGE deal. We dedicated so much time and energy from January through May trying to get this girl potty trained. It was draining and exhausting. We made very little progress throughout all that time, so being 8 months pregnant and completely wiped out physically and emotionally, we decided to give it a rest for a while. Once Brax was born in May, it finally started to click. She saw that Brax was a baby and he wore diapers, so she finally decided that she didn’t want to wear diapers anymore. Hallelujah!

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#11 – Trip to the Cincinnati Zoo

This trip to the zoo was very special to us. The reason we even went to Cincinnati was to visit Ryan, who was on a month-long rotation there. He tried to come home as often as he could, but it wasn’t always possible. When we went to visit him, it had been over a week since we had seen him. It was such a special day together, and Kinsie got to see hippos, so that was a major plus too!

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#10 – Halloween

This was our first Halloween as a family of 4, so we wanted to come up with costumes that we could be as a family. Kinsie is really into the Ninja Turtles, so that’s what we went with! We went to Zoo Boo, the Heritage Lake fall festival, and trick-or-treating as the Ninja Turtles tribe!

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#9 – Kinsie playing soccer

Kinsie participated in her first real soccer league this year. She had practice twice a week and games on Saturdays. It kept us busy, but we loved it! She was often your typical 3-year-old, picking grass and rolling around on the ground instead of paying attention to the game, but we were still proud of our girl and loved watching her play!

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#8 – Kinsie’s Third Birthday

It is always fun planning a birthday party, especially a dinosaur-themed one at the lake! Our girl was in her glory with the lake, dinosaurs, cake and cousins.

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#7 – Beach Vacation

We loved getting to take a trip to Siesta Key. The kids loved the beach and it was SO refreshing getting a break from the cold weather.

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#6 – Harry Potter World

This trip was also very special, because it was the first get-away that Ryan and I had in years. We were in heaven getting to visit Harry Potter World and embracing our not-so-inner Harry Potter nerdiness!

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#5 – Lake Vacation

In late June, we spent a week at one of our favorite places, Heritage Lake. It was so relaxing. Every day we would fish, take boat rides, and more. It was like a vacation, but better because we were someplace familiar and comfortable. I could have stayed for another month.

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#4 – Christmas

My Christmas post is pretty recent, so I probably don’t have to do too much reminding on why this was a highlight of our year. Our first Christmas with two kids was pretty special. Seeing the joy on both of our kids’ faces on Christmas morning (and throughout the Christmas season) will always be one of my favorite things in life.

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#3 – Kinsie Starting School

This was a game-changer in many ways. It seems like my little girl grew up so much since starting school. We absolutely love her school and all the love, lessons, and activities that go with it. We’ve loved the crafts, the songs, the programs, the special occasions and the especially the huge change we’ve seen in our daughter. She is more mature, kinder, more polite, and had made many new friends.

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#2 – Kolly’s Birth

Our second niece, Kolly was born in October, and I was able to be in the delivery room when she was born. It was so special getting to witness the birth of this sweet girl, and we are all so in love with her. She is the perfect addition and the girl tiebreaker to the #5under5 cousin tribe.

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And our #1 moment of 2016 is….

Brax’s Birth

This was by far the best and most life-changing event of our year. This little guy stole our hearts in early May and changed the dynamic of our family and the way we do life, all for the better. His constant smiles and giggles bring so much joy to our lives, and we can’t imagine life without his sweet little self in it. Not only did Ryan and I become the parents of the sweetest little boy, but Kinsie also became a big sister. She is seriously the BEST big sister to him, constantly hugging and kissing him, protecting him, talking to him, cheering him on, and always trying to make him smile. They adore each other and have such a special relationship already. I can’t wait to watch them grow up together!

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So there you have it…our favorite moments of 2016. It was such a wonderful year for us. I’m anxious for see what is in store for us in 2017…finding out where Ryan gets in to residency, moving to a new house, Brax turning one, and I’m sure many more adventures…we can’t wait to watch it all unfold!

Cheers to 2016!