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!

A Disney Dream Come True

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a huge Disney fan. I spent my entire childhood watching Disney movies, and Disney World has always been the most magical place in the world to me, even as an adult. I’ve always talked about how I can’t wait to share my love for Disney with my children. Well, one of my dreams came true before Christmas when we got to take Kinsie to Disney World.

Ryan, Kinsie and I flew out to Orlando the week before Christmas and met my parents, my sister and her family. This was the second time Kinsie has been on a plane, and it was much different than the last time! Before she was only 8 months old and she pretty much slept the whole time. This time, she was happy, but crazy! She switched back and forth from my lap to Ryan’s about a hundred times, and made friends with everyone around her. It was a long flight trying to wrestle with a 1 year old, but luckily between the two of us, we were able to handle it.

We started our Disney adventure by going to Animal Kingdom. I knew Kinsie would love it because of how much she loves animals. We went on a safari and saw lots of animals, went to a petting zoo, and met lots of characters, including Mickey and Minnie! Kinsie LOVED meeting the characters. As you’ll see in the pictures, she was completely intrigued by them. She liked touching their faces and holding their hands. Kinsie also had a great time with her cousins. Briggs knows how much Kinsie loves animals, so every time we’d see an animal, he’d say, “Do you see that animal, Baby Kinsie?” The last thing we did that day was meet Mickey and Minnie. It was really important to me that she got to meet them. It is such a special experience that I wanted to share with my daughter. The look in the kids’ eyes when they met them made the entire trip worth it. It was an awesome day at Animal Kingdom!

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The next day, we went to the Magic Kingdom. As soon as we entered the park, Kinsie was fascinated by the Christmas lights, balloons, and Cinderella’s Castle. She was hooked immediately…that’s my girl! We took her on a few rides right away, including the Dumbo ride and “It’s a Small World.” The girl had her serious face on the whole time…which, in Kinsie language, means that she is completely amazed! Throughout the day we went on many other rides and saw lots of shows. She loved it all! One of her favorites was the Enchanted Tiki Room, where she danced and sang along with the birds. She also loved Mickey’s Philharmagic, which is a 3D show. She wore a pair of the 3D glasses and was reaching out for the flying 3D objects during the show! During the day there was a parade, which was awesome! The kids loved waving to the characters and dancing to all the music. I have never once been disappointed with a Disney parade. It is always magical to all of us!

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Kinsie’s look of amazement on the rides

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Having fun at the parade

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Later in the evening was Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. You had to buy extra tickets in order to stay for this, which we all decided was definitely something we wanted to do. We had to save a good spot for the parade a few hours ahead of time, which made it hard to keep the attention of a wild child like Kinsie for that long, but the parade was AMAZING, so it was worth it. This was one of the best Disney parades that I’ve seen, and we sat right on Main Street, where they had fake snow falling from the top of the buildings throughout the night. That was one of Kinsie’s favorite parts. In between every float in the parade, she’d point to the snow to make sure we saw it. I guess one of us will be happy later in the winter when it starts snowing! After the parade, we got to have a Dance Party with the Country Bears. This was a combination of two of Kinsie’s favorite things…bears and music, so it’s obvious that she had a great time! Finally, we saw a fireworks show. This was no ordinary fireworks show, these were the most incredible fireworks that we’d ever seen. This was also the first time that Kinsie got to see fireworks because we weren’t able to keep her up late enough in July. I thought she might be bothered by the loudness, but she wasn’t. She absolutely loved them! She kept pointing and saying “ooo, ahhh” (which is also what she says whenever she sees a Christmas tree.) We were so glad that Kinsie was able to stay up late enough to see the fireworks, but it definitely set the bar high for any future fireworks shows she’ll see!

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Amazed by the Christmas parade

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Dance Party with the Country Bears

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Loving the fireworks show

After the fireworks, it was already after 10pm, and we could tell Kinsie was exhausted, so we tried to get her to fall asleep in the stroller. She was not having it…she just wanted to party! She flailed her arms and legs around, kept kicking off her blankets and laughing. I guess all the events of the day gave her an adrenaline rush because she was wired! We started leaving the park around 11:00 and she finally fell asleep, but only for a few minutes. She sang and danced the whole drive back to the hotel then finally crashed when we got back.

Several things made this trip to Disney World very special to us. First of all, this was the first time we brought Kinsie, Briggs and Kerigan and it was so special getting to share our love for Disney with our children and seeing the looks on their faces as they experienced the magic of Disney World. My heart was full the entire time getting to be in the most magical place on Earth with the people that I love. The other part that made this trip so special was that Diane, Ryan Robinson’s mom, had planned it for us before she passed away in August. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’d know that Diane was suddenly taken from us which shattered our world. Diane was supposed to go on this trip with us, which in a way, she was…just not in the way that we expected. We all felt Diane’s spirit with us during the trip and we know she was smiling down on us from heaven.

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Thank you, Diane, for such a special and magical trip. We all miss you.

Baby’s First Christmas

As a child, Christmas is one of the most exciting times of the year. You can’t wait until Christmas morning to see if Santa came, and what he brought you. This was the first year that I got to celebrate Christmas as a parent, and it is just as exciting in a completely different way. Even though Kinsie is only 3 months old, we had a blast playing with her and watching her react to all her new toys that she got for Christmas. She has become so much more responsive and interactive lately, so she actually enjoyed her new toys and visiting all of her relatives.

Ryan and I are always busy during holidays with both of our families and we always try to make our rounds to spend quality time with each family. A few days before Christmas, we got together with my mom’s side of the family which is always a blast. My aunts and cousins always love spending time with Briggs and the babies. On Christmas Eve, Ryan, Kinsie and I went to Ryan’s parents house for breakfast and to open gifts. Kinsie got some awesome gifts, including some blocks that her Aunt Megan made with letters, bible verses, and pictures of all the people in Kinsie’s life. She will have a blast playing with those and recognizing everyone as she gets older! After gifts, we went to the Christmas Eve service at Traders Point. It was an amazing service! At one point, they invited all the kids on stage to dance around with glowsticks singing Little Drummer Boy. It was awesome and very powerful! Right from church we went straight to Ryan’s aunt’s house (his dad’s side) for dinner and gifts. Finally from there, we went to my parents’ house to eat dinner and exchange gifts with Ryan Robinson’s family. Busy, but wonderful day with family!

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Kinsie enjoying her time opening gifts with Ryan’s family

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The Matthews family on Christmas Eve

christmas2013_46Hangin with daddy!

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Fun cousin time

On Christmas morning, I was so excited to be Santa Claus! I woke up before Ryan and Kinsie to set everything up. Like I said before, it was almost as exciting as it was when I was a kid! Our little family opened our gifts, then we ventured back to my parents’ to exchange gifts with them and Krista, Ryan and the kids. We all ate breakfast while Kinsie and Kerigan took a Christmas morning nap in their car seats on the dining room table together. The best part about opening gifts was watching Briggs’ face when he received a train set from his Bapa and Yaya (his name for my parents). His key phrase for the day was “Open it!” As a kid, you think there is nothing better than getting gifts on Christmas, but watching the children you love open their gifts comes pretty darn close!

iphone nov_57We got to hang a special new stocking this year!

christmas2013_48Santa came!

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Kinsie opening her gifts from Santa, mommy and daddy

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Me and my sweet girl

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Hanging out with dad watching her cousin Briggs open his gifts

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The boys checking out Briggs’ new train set

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Kerigan was worn out after opening gifts!

Finally in the afternoon on Christmas day, we went to another one of Ryan’s aunts house (his mom’s side) to celebrate Christmas with them. Kinsie got to meet her new cousin, Emery and they just so happened to be wearing the same outfit! Kinsie had a lot of fun playing with her aunts and cousins, then took a nice little nap in mommy’s arms. What a life!

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Kinsie with her new cousin, Emery in their matching outfits

Overall, we had a wonderful Christmas. Ryan and I are so blessed to have so many people to share the holidays with. I can’t wait to watch Kinsie grow each year and teach her the true meaning of Christmas. When I was growing up, my family and I had a Christmas Eve tradition of reading the Christmas story in the Bible before going to bed. It was a great reminder of why we celebrate Christmas and to remember how lucky we are to have a God that loves us so much that He had his son be born of a woman, placed in a manger, go through life as a child, an adolescent, and then a man, just to be killed on a cross to pay for our sins. I would love to carry on this tradition with my children so they don’t get too wrapped up in the hype of Santa Claus and presents, and they remember the reason for the season!

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Merry Christmas from the Matthews family!