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!

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!

Christmas With Two

We love Christmas time around here, and having two children for the first time this Christmas season was double the fun! Christmas is practically a month long with all the festivities that come with it, and with all of that, we are very adamant about remembering why we are celebrating Christmas in the first place. Now that Kinsie is old enough to understand, we really tried to make the birth of Jesus the focus throughout the Christmas season. As a result of this, she became obsessed with Baby Jesus! She got super excited every time she saw a Nativity scene, and constantly sang songs about Baby Jesus. Of course she still got excited about Santa, Christmas lights and presents, but she at least seemed to understand the real meaning of Christmas (to the extent that a 3 year old can understand it). There was a lot that went on this month, so here were some of our favorite Christmas activities this month…

Breakfast with Santa Party

Kinsie’s cousin Emery had her 3rd birthday party at the beginning of the month, and it was a “Breakfast with Santa” party. It was so cute and so much fun! Santa came and each kid got to sit on his lap and take pictures with him. Like on the Polar Express, Kinsie was very shy, but excited to see Santa. Brax was all smiles like usual!

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Meeting Santa

I have always said that I would never force my kids to visit Santa and sit on his lap and get a picture of them crying…I would only take them if they wanted to see him. Last year was the first year that Kinsie really could have a choice, and she wanted to meet him. Same with this year, and Brax is still young enough that he doesn’t seem to care either way. We visited the same Santa we did last year, he is a great one! Both the kids did great!

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Christmas Music Program

Kinsie’s preschool had a Christmas music program this month. They have been practicing their songs for quite a while now, so Kinsie had been singing them to me at home constantly. She particularly liked the song “Oh What a Special Night,” which is about Baby Jesus being born and all the animals in the manger singing to Him for His birthday. It is a precious song, and luckily her cousins knew it too…so they later sang it on the beach in Florida! Kinsie did awesome in her program! She sang all the words, (we could even hear her among all the voices) and did all the motions. It filled my heart with so much joy to see her singing so excitedly about Jesus!

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Christmas Eve at Aunt Renata’s

The last few years we have done pretty much the same Christmas Eve and Christmas Day routine. On Christmas Eve morning we eat breakfast at Ryan’s parents’ house and open gifts with them, then go to Christmas Eve service, then to Ryan’s Aunt Renata’s house for dinner and gifts. This is always a highlight, as we love spending time with everyone in the family. Kinsie seemed to love opening gifts even more this year because now she got to help Brax open his as well! Brax of course enjoyed his gifts, but seemed more interested in the ribbons and boxes! Both of the kids slept the whole ride home that night and went right to bed when we got home. We still left out milk and cookies for Santa though so they could see if he ate them in the morning!

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Christmas Morning at Home

If you recall, last year I woke up on Christmas morning feeling terribly ill. I spent the entire day vomiting, so I didn’t get to enjoy watching Kinsie see what she got from Santa and opening all her gifts. I prayed that we all stayed healthy this year for Christmas, and I did have a sinus infection, but I would take that any day over the stomach flu! The kids were so excited this year to see what Santa brought them. The main gift that Kinsie wanted was the game Hungry Hungry Hippos, so she was thrilled to see it when she woke up! She also got a fishing game, a talking minion, and a hippo shirt. Brax was excited about his Mickey puppets, dinosaur teething toy, and elephant rattle!

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Christmas Day at Papa and Yaya’s

Another tradition…after opening gifts with our individual families, we always meet at my parents’ house for brunch and gifts. Last year we had 3 kids opening gifts, and this year we added 2 more to the mix! Brax and Kolly couldn’t do a whole lot of the opening on their own, but the three older cousins came to their aid. It was Christmas chaos all morning and we loved every second of it. The kids were all so happy opening their presents and just being together. After all the gifts were open, we stayed for a while and the kids opened all their new toys and games and played with all of them. It was a perfect day spent entirely in our pajamas and enjoying each other’s company.

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Kinsie got a ton of hippo related gifts this year, which is funny since she has been obsessed with the song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” She indeed got a hippopotamus for Christmas…or a few for that matter! Our boy Brax also had a wonderful first Christmas!

It was a wonderful month of December, and we had so much quality family time. It is times like this that we really realize how blessed we truly are. Christmas with two kids certainly added another level of chaos, but I wouldn’t have it any other way and I can’t wait to see the joy on the kids’ faces year after year on Christmas.

Beach Babes

At the beginning of Winter break, we were able to take a trip to Siesta Key, Florida with my family. Our family owns a condo in the area, so we used to go all the time when I was in high school and college. However, with the busy-ness of life with kids, and a med student husband whose time is not his own, we have only been there once since Kinsie was born, and she was a baby so she didn’t remember.

My parents and my sister’s family flew in a few days before we did, because I had to finish my last few days of school before Winter Break started, and Ryan had another residency interview trip to return from. In those days, we had a major ice storm in Indiana, which delayed and cancelled many flights…ours being one of them. We ended up flying the next day straight to Orlando – which really worked out better for us because we were planning on spending that afternoon and evening at the Magic Kindom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party anyway before spending the rest of our vacation in Siesta Key. We were all THRILLED to get away from the freezing cold weather!

This was our first time traveling with 2 kids. While the kids were absolute champs, traveling with two is quite different than just one! Our time at the airport was complete chaos with all of our luggage including 2 car seats, wrangling the two kids, trying to prevent Brax from spitting up all over the airport seats while trying not to spill our coffee on ourselves, the kids, or even the floor (can’t waste that gold!) Kinsie was excited to roll her own suitcase through the airport. She spent the flight singing Christmas songs to everyone and watching episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Brax slept the majority of the flight. During the time he was awake, he was happy but crazy (per usual!) He made loud happy squeals, smiled at everyone around him, and squirmed so much that we were sweating by the end of the flight. Like I said…the trip wasn’t bad, just chaotic!

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Once we flew into Orlando, my parents picked us up and we headed straight to Disney World. We didn’t buy regular admission tickets, just for the Christmas Party…so we were able to enter the park at 4pm. As soon as we got there, the first thing we did was meet Mickey. Brax was beyond tired at this point, so he really needed to nap, but I really wanted him to get to meet Mickey. He LOVED him! Kinsie and the other kids of course loved him too! During our time at Magic Kingdom, we rode a few rides, watched the parade and the fireworks (our favorite parts), ate Christmas cookies, and had a dance party with the reindeer! We were there until after midnight, and Brax slept on and off in the stroller, and Kinsie not only stayed awake the entire time we were there, but walked the entire time! Even when we held Brax and offered the stroller to Kinsie, she wanted to walk. Finally as we were leaving the park after midnight, Kinsie passed out in Ryan’s arms. We drove back to Siesta Key that night and arrived at 3am. It was a long, exhaustic, but wonderful evening!

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Kinsie was only 9 months old when we went to Siesta Key last, and while she loved the pool and the sunshine, she was not the biggest fan of the beach – mainly because she was too little to run around and enjoy it. The closest we have come to the beach since then was last summer when we went to the Dunes for a family reunion. Kinsie loved that beach, so I figured she would be in heaven on Siesta Key Beach…one of the world’s best and most beautiful beaches. Boy, was I right! She spent all-day every day at the beach. Ryan and I took turns in the condo with Brax for his naps, but Kinsie always stayed on the beach either with one of us, or with my parents. Brax obviously couldn’t enjoy it as much as Kinsie, but that kid has fun doing just about anything. He enjoyed it the best he could!

Kinsie loved spending time with her cousins. They spent a ton of time playing in the ocean, finding sea shells and seaweed, chasing seagulls, and making sand castles (and sand hippos too). We were there on my mom’s birthday, so we had a cookout on the beach on that day. Brax ended up coming down with an upper respiratory infection while we were there, so he was a bit needier than usual, but he still did very well considering. Ryan and I really wanted to get the chance to go fishing on the dock, but it was difficult to find the time. We tried to go during Brax’s naps, but he didn’t sleep more than 45 minutes at a time since he didn’t feel good. On the last night of our trip, we were able to make it happen once the kids were in bed. We didn’t get many bites that night, so we went back with the kids the next day before going to the airport. Ryan finally caught a snapper, so we were excited that we at least got something during the trip!

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We all had such a great time. The weather was perfect while we were there, making it hard to come back to Indiana. We can’t wait to go back again!

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Blessed on Christmas

As I’m sure you could imagine, Kinsie was ALL about Christmas this year. She loved everything about it…the lights, the songs, the Christmas trees, the Nativity scene, you name it. She spent the last month gazing at the Christmas tree, playing with all her Christmas animals and manger set, and singing Jingle Bells both in English and in Spanish. With all of the fun Christmas festivities happening, we still tried to constantly focus on the real reason for the season, which led Kinsie to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus every once in a while too!

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Kinsie admiring our tree, then in front of the “Disney tree” at my mom’s house…she was obsessed!

Kinsie was much more aware this year of who Santa Claus was, and seemed more interested in him, so we took her to see him and I wanted to let her decide if she wanted to sit on his lap. As funny as the screaming toddler-Santa pics are, I didn’t want to do that to her if she didn’t want to sit with him! Luckily, she wanted to. She was a little nervous and wouldn’t speak a work to him, but she didn’t cry, and she still continues to talk about meeting him!

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On Christmas Eve, we spent the morning at Ryan’s parents house eating breaking and opening gifts with them. Kinsie was already rolling in new toys so she was pretty pumped! We went to Christmas Eve service as a family, then to Ryan’s aunt’s house for dinner and gifts. It is always a great time getting together with everyone, and Kinsie loved helping pass out, climb on, and open everyone’s gifts for them!

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I was so excited to wake up the next day and spend Christmas Day with Ryan and my little Christmas girl. However, when I woke up on Christmas morning, I felt sick. I was hoping it was just a weird pregnancy morning sickness kind of thing, but I soon found out that it was actually a stomach flu. One of the worst stomach flus I’ve ever had in my life. I still got to watch Kinsie open up her gifts from Santa, but had to run to the bathroom every so often. We still went to my parents to open gifts with them, but I was absolutely miserable. I had to miss Christmas breakfast, and it was exhausting to even open my gifts. After we opened gifts with them, we went home and I went straight to bed…only getting up every 2 hours to throw up again. Ryan took Kinsie to his other aunt’s house, where they got to still enjoy family and Kinsie even got to sing some karaoke! Ryan was full time Mr. Mom that day…taking care of Kinsie and me. I’m so lucky that he’s not only a loving husband, but a doctor-to-be and felt comfortable and willing to hold my hair back, rub my back and help keep me hydrated. Even though being sick is absolutely awful, the only thing worse would be if Kinsie got sick, or if something happened to the baby…so I had to keep that as my focus to stay hydrated.

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Enjoying going through her stocking

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Some of her favorite gifts from Santa…a light up dinosaur, Olaf slippers, and a karaoke machine!

Saying I was super bummed about being sick on Christmas is an understatement. And being in the height of my pregnancy emotions, I cried several times throughout the day since I was “missing” Christmas, especially since Kinsie was so excited about Christmas this year and I wanted to enjoy it with her. But I had to keep reminding myself that it could be so much worse. Some people were spending their Christmas in a hospital, and some were spending their first Christmas without a loved one. I realized pretty quickly that I am so blessed with the family and health that I have, and while being sick for one Christmas was bad luck, I am still very lucky.

Kinsie still had a great Christmas, full of dinosaur and Olaf presents from Santa and family. While I recovered over the next few days, she was perfectly content playing with all her new toys at home. And most importantly, I still feel that we accomplished what we wanted to this Christmas, by teaching Kinsie why we celebrate Christmas and how special of a gift it was for God to send his son to the earth to die on a cross and save us all from our sins.

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Merry Christmas from the 4 of us!

Kinsie and her Best Friend, Mickey Mouse

Shortly after finding out about Baby #2, we decided to take another Disney trip with Kinsie. We hadn’t been on a vacation in a while, and it will be much harder to travel for a while once the baby is born, so we figured this would be a great time to take Kinsie back to one of my favorite places in the world. She’s a complete Disney freak just like her mom, and she loved Disney World last year at only a year old, so we knew that this year, she would be beyond psyched! For our birthday and Christmas gifts this year, we just asked for money to help pay for the trip, so with the help of our families, we made it happen! Kinsie was pumped for weeks about this trip. She kept talking about going to “Mickey’s house,” and whenever she would see Cinderella’s Castle at the beginning of any Disney movie, she’d scream enthusiastically “That’s where we’re going!”

We had somewhat of a long night of traveling, but Kinsie was an absolute champ. This was her first plane trip in her own seat (thank goodness), and she just sat and watched Elmo the whole way there! Once we were in Orlando, we were transported a few times from hotel to hotel because the placed we booked months ago was overbooked, and she slept peacefully in the rental car…thank goodness considering it was 1:30am when we finally got to where we were staying!

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Day 1: Magic Kingdom

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This has always been my favorite park, probably because it is by far the most magical. I honestly wasn’t sure who was more excited…me or Kinsie! Ryan and I had planned out our whole day using a few different apps that told us what attractions to visit when considering the crowd and lines, so we were all set!

Highlights of Magic Kingdom:

  • Cinderella’s Castle – Kinsie had been talking about it so much beforehand, that she just marveled at it whenever she saw it! We got to see a lot of shows, fireworks, etc. in front of the castle, so we got lots of castle time!

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  • The Christmas parade – this is still what Kinsie says was her favorite part of the trip. The mid-day Christmas parade was awesome! We got to see all of our favorites…Mickey and friends, Santa Claus, and Kinsie’s absolute fave, Olaf! Disney never fails to make their parades magical and spectacular! Of course, my favorite part of the parade was the pure joy on my daughter’s face!

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  • Meeting Mickey- Magic Kingdom is the only place in Disney World where Mickey talks, so we knew we had to fit this in our day! When it was Kinsie’s turn to meet him, she was a little overwhelmed and didn’t really know what to do with herself! She did a little nervous dance and was super shy! She was in awe at meeting one of her favorite characters of all time!

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It turned out to be an amazing day. It was extremely crowded, but that didn’t impede our fun. The weather was perfect and Kinsie was one happy girl all day! The only time she got antsy was waiting in line to see Mickey…but with the help of the apps we used, that 25 minutes was the longest we waited all day. Our girl was wiped out as soon as we got in the car!

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Day 2: Animal Kingdom

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This is the only park that closes somewhat early, so we had to fit in all our fun in a shorter amount of time. Again, we used different apps to help us utilize our time. We had a little later start than we wanted since it was a late night the night before, but we still got in most of the attractions we wanted to do.

Highlights of Animal Kingdom:

  • The dinosaur ride – this is basically a dinosaur version of the Dumbo ride. You spin in circles for about 1 minute and then it’s done. But with Kinsie’s recent dinosaur craze, she was all about it. She actually cried when it was over!

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  • The safari ride- this is the best ride in the park…a safari ride to see all kinds of animals and wildlife. We especially loved the hippos, giraffes, and lions.

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  • The Tree of Life- I LOVE the Tree of Life and trying to spot as many animal carvings as possible in it. Kinsie liked climbing on the alligator!

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  • Meeting Mickey and Minnie- Let’s face it, with how happy she was meeting Mickey the day before, we had to take every chance we got to meet him again, and this time with Minnie Mouse too! My favorite part was Kinsie’s excited face before she met them! We also got to meet Goofy and Pluto during the day too!

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(Kinsie’s excited face)

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Again, another great day! The park closed at 7pm, so that left us time to go get ice cream, chill at our hotel for a little while and get to bed before midnight!

Day 3: Epcot

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This was the only day we didn’t have an actual “plan,” we figured it could be more of a go with the flow kind of day. I mainly wanted to see the World Showcase, and visit with characters, so that is what we did!

Highlights of Epcot:

  • World Showcase (Mexico)- this of course, was my favorite of the countries. I love learning more about my culture and sharing it with Kinsie. They even had a cute little boat ride similar to “it’s a small world,” that displayed lots of Mexican culture in a fun Disney sort of way!

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  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends- I forgot how awesome this whole exhibit is. There is a ride, then once it is over, there is a huge aquarium exhibit with fish, sea turtles, manatees (my fave), and a shark playground. We all loved it!

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  • Meeting characters- we got to meet a lot of characters at Epcot! We scouted them out and used our apps to figure out where they would be and when so we could beat the lines. Kinsie basically became BFFs with all of them. How could you not with the sweet little hugs and smiles she gave them?

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The only thing we didn’t get to do at Epcot that I really wanted to was see the fireworks. We could have stayed for them, but they didn’t start until 10:30 and we were wiped out! Kinsie said she wanted to go to sleep, and my pregnant body had really caught up with me from all the walking the last few days. Ryan was pretty tired too so we made the executive decision to call it a night before the fireworks.

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Our entire trip was amazing. It was the perfect last trip as a family of 3. I loved getting to spend a few days with my with favorite people in my favorite place in the world. And as I’m sure you could tell by the pictures, Kinsie was pretty happy too!

A Very Kinsie Christmas

Kinsie was only 3 months old last year during Christmas, and even then she was fascinated with the lights, trees, and new toys…so I figured that this year, with Kinsie being 15 months old, Christmas would be 10 times more fun. Well, it was! We put our Christmas tree and decorations up right before Thanksgiving and she was amazed. She LOVED the Christmas tree. I wanted to teach her not to touch it but just to look at it, so I told her that we just look and say “Oooo, ahhh,” (which is what my sister and I used to say when we saw Christmas lights when we were little) so she picked that habit up immediately and that became her go-to phrase for any Christmas decorations. Anytime she saw a Christmas tree or Christmas lights, she’d say “Ooo ahh,” usually as one word. Our neighbors across the street went all out and had a blow-up Santa and snowman, as well as a lit-up Gingerbread house, so she spent a lot of time looking out the window at their decorations ooo-ing and ahh-ing away. We took complete advantage of the holiday season and read lots of Christmas books to Kinsie, and listened to Christmas music every chance we got. Her favorite Christmas song was Frosty the Snowman and she’d be-bop along every time it played. Every time she’d see Santa, she’d say “Ho Ho Ho!” (including when we read her Bible and there was a picture of Simeon, who also had a white beard!) Since Kinsie was so into Christmas decorations and lights, we had to find as many activities as we could that we knew she’d love, such as Christmas at the Zoo and the Danville Winterland light display.

Like last year, she had a blast at the zoo. It was pretty cold, so we had her wear mittens. This was the first time she wore them, so she wasn’t really sure what to do with her hands. She just sat in her wagon awkwardly holding her hands up (see picture below). She loved seeing all the lights and animals. Unfortunately, it was much more crowded this time than it was when we went last year, so we weren’t able to go to the dolphin show. We still took her to see the aquariums though and she got to see dolphins swimming around underwater.

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On Christmas Eve, we exchanged gifts with Ryan’s family. My mother-in-law bought a small bounce house for Kinsie to play in when she’s there, and she was pumped! When we went to Ryan’s cousin’s daughter’s birthday party a few weeks ago, they had one of these bounce houses and Kinsie had a blast bouncing and rolling around. I was somewhat of a nervous wreck because bigger kids kept charging in with no regard and I didn’t want Kinsie to get hurt (of course she didn’t mind the extra chaos). I felt much better with her playing in it this time since she was on her own and she could bounce and roll as much as she wanted. She had a blast!

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Kinsie received a lot of other great gifts from Ryan’s family as well, including a Doc McStuffins outfit and all the doctor tools. She still loves to wear her doctor outfit when she plays at home…I guess she wants to be a doctor like her daddy!

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Later in the afternoon, we went to the Christmas Eve service at church. The Christmas Eve service is one of my favorite times to attend church, not only to hear another awesome sermon, but also to see lots of new people come to church with their families and hearing the gospel message for the first time. The sermon is definitely worth hearing, so if you interested, it is available here. After church, we went to Ryan’s aunt’s house for dinner and to exchange gifts. For her Christmas gift to Kinsie, Ryan’s aunt painted a small table and chair set with her name on it. She was all about this table when she opened it and still is. We have it in her play corner in the living room and she’ll always sit at it and play with her toys whenever she gets the chance.

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On Christmas morning, Kinsie was super excited to see the gifts that Santa brought her, especially a large stuffed bear that she immediately hugged and wallered all over. After we opened our gifts at home, we went to my parents’ house for breakfast and to open more gifts. Ryan wasn’t feeling great throughout the day (he was sick on Christmas and I was sick on Thanksgiving…not the best luck!) but he still got to watch Kinsie open her gifts. Every time she would open a gift, she wanted us to take it out of the box right away so she could play with it. She was overwhelmed with new toys and didn’t know what to play with first! Since Ryan didn’t feel well, we just hung out at my parents’ house most of the day. Kinsie loved getting to stay in her Christmas jammies all day and play with her new toys with Briggs and Kerigan.

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Christmas is such a special time of the year and it is so much fun to watch your child’s face as they open gifts. However, it is extremely important to me that we always keep the real reason for the season in mind. Even though Kinsie is only a year old, we took every opportunity to talk to her about Jesus. When she played with her Little People Nativity Scene, we showed her Baby Jesus and told her how much He loved her (which usually led to her kissing Baby Jesus), and we read the Christmas story in her Bible on Christmas Eve, which was a tradition that we did when I was growing up. The sermon that we heard on Christmas Eve does an amazing job of explaining how humbling the real Christmas story is and why it was so significant that God sent a savior to be born in a manger to save us from our sins. My sister had her kids make a birthday cake for Jesus, which is another awesome way to remind children of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. It breaks my heart that people get so obsessed with giving and receiving gifts that they often forget WHY we give and receive gifts at all. I want to raise Kinsie to always know why we celebrate Christmas and how grateful we should be for Jesus and what He has done for us.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family!