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

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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!

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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!

Zoo Baby

A few days before Christmas, Krista and her Ryan wanted to take Briggs to Christmas at the zoo. My parents were going to come too and invited us to come along. I figured, “Sure, why not?” Kinsie likes Christmas lights so maybe she’ll like it. It was a perfect night to go since it wasn’t too cold and it was one of the first days in a week when it wasn’t raining. When we got there, we browsed around for a while and Kinsie enjoyed her stroller ride while looking at Christmas lights. Then a random man came up to us and said that he had extra tickets to the dolphin show that his family wasn’t going to use, so we went to the show. As we were waiting for it to start, Kinsie started getting fussy. I started to get nervous because I knew she might be getting hungry soon and I didn’t want to have to leave the show and travel all the way back to the car to feed her. Ryan took her out of her car seat so she could look around and hopefully she’d stay distracted enough until we were done with the show. As soon as Kinsie saw the dolphins and all the lights, she was completely mesmerized! She sat on Ryan’s lap and watched the entire show! I couldn’t believe it, because like most 3 month olds, her attention span isn’t very long, but she could have watched those dolphins all day long!

After the show, we went to the area with all the aquariums. Again, we took her out of her carseat and let her look around. She was in love! She watched sting rays, fish, penguins, sharks and more. I had never seen her so enthralled! It made me so happy that my baby was so happy. I knew she liked fish because we have an aquarium at home for our goldfish, but I had no idea the extent to which she liked fish. Ryan and I plan to have a bigger aquarium someday (and name all the fish after Harry Potter characters…we know we’re cool), and when we do, Kinsie will probably want to watch it all day long!

Every day, I learn more and more about my little girl and the personality that she is developing. That night, I learned about my daughter’s love for animals, just like her dad. I also learned that we will definitely need to invest in zoo passes in the near future for our little zoo baby! On the way home, my heart was so happy and my love tank was full. I got to spend an awesome night with my family and watch my daughter explore the world around her with a look of wonder in her eyes. God is so good!

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Enjoying all of the Christmas lights with cousin Briggs

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Mesmerized at the dolphin show

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Loving the sting rays!

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