That’s a wrap, 2021!

I was hopeful that 2021 would resemble a little more normalcy than 2020, and in some ways, it did. But overall, 2021 was just as weird as 2020. Maybe even weirder. Even so, it was a good year. We tried really hard not to let the pandemic define our lives, but learned to coexist with it, while remaining vigilant to protect ourselves (unfortunately we’re in the minority of people still doing this). We were busy with all things Christmas this month, and we had a wonderful, magical Christmas season! Here is how our December went…

A Special Visitor

The kids were SO excited to finally get an Elf on the Shelf! I always thought I could get super creative with this, but the last few years were too unpredictable and chaotic between residency life in Arkansas and moving to multiple different houses, I didn’t really have the energy to devote to it until this year. But this year…we were ALL in! They named him Rocket and they LOVED finding him in silly places all month!

Rocket

I made a short video for the kids so they could see Rocket’s adventures all year long. Feel free to take a look!

 

Swimming Party

The kids’ cousin Griffin turned 3 this month, and he had a small family indoor pool party to celebrate. The kids had a BLAST swimming with their cousins…even Brody! He went down the slide and loved splashing around in a pool that was just his size!

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Fully Vaxxed!

My bigs are fully vaccinated! It was more of a mess getting this appointment than I expected. Their original appointments got cancelled from short staffing, so I had to scramble around trying to reschedule as soon as possible. I ended up having to pick up the kids a little early from school and driving an hour to Plainfield. Grandma Bev was kind enough to stay with Brody so I didn’t have to stick him in the car all day long. The kids did fantastic, and we even got Dairy Queen afterwards to celebrate. Now 4/5 family members are fully vaccinated…hopefully Brody will have his turn within a few months!

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Outside Time

This December had some surprising and unprecedented warmer weather…and since we’re all in a better mood when we’re outside, we soaked it in. We took walks, played in the driveway and in the woods behind our house, and climbed on the hay bales in the open lots. 

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One day, Ryan and I even took Brody out for an outdoor lunch date. The restaurant was right across the street from an elementary school, so Brody spent the majority of lunch turned around watching and laughing at the kids at recess!

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Cousin Sleepover

One weekend, my parents visited for the weekend and brought along my sister’s kids for a cousin sleepover. They always have a blast together playing, watching movies and eating popcorn…but their favorite part was that their Elf on the Shelf, Lucky, came over to spend the night as well! And the elves brought Christmas donuts and coloring sheets!

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Bro Being Cray

About 95% of my daily life is watching my youngest child be an absolute crazy nut. He has a unique mind of his own! He loves taking off his clothes and running around in just his diaper. He loves getting into the pantry and stealing snacks, or just carrying them around. And he loves climbing on EVERYTHING. I have countless pictures and videos of him living his crazy life…here are a few from this month.

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Loving on our Favorite Doc

As Covid continues and we enter another surge, I need to give a quick shoutout to my favorite healthcare hero. He started his career in a pandemic and even though he gets very weary and exhausted from constantly treating sick Covid patients and fighting misinformation, he still comes home with a smile on his face and the determination to help people. When things get bad, I always remind him to keep his N95 mask on, so he sent me a picture of himself once to show me! The kids are so proud of their dad and always welcome him home with open arms (once he has showered and changed of course!) (Note…the below picture on the right was before a shift. Ryan is extremely careful about disinfecting himself once he gets home!) Ryan also took his oral boards this month, so very soon he will officially be a board-certificated emergency medicine physician! We are so proud of him!!

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Christmas Activities-

We love all of the little Christmas traditions that we do all month. A few of them are still on a hiatus with Covid (like visiting Santa), but we still enjoy doing the traditions at home.

Baking Christmas cookies is one of our favorite traditions. They honestly enjoy decorating them more than actually eating them!

Christmas-cookies

We also decorated a gingerbread house!

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The kids spent the majority of the month in Christmas pajamas. They even have a few matching pajamas so they would coordinate whenever they could!

Christmas-activities

Another tradition we continued this year (but I didn’t get any photos of) is our Advent Bible study. We read a Bible story and hang an ornament that goes with the story on a small tree. Kinsie has always loved doing this, and now Brax got really into it this year. Even though we haven’t been to church since Covid started, Brax is learning about the Bible in school since he currently attends a Christian school. He had been learning the same stories at school, so he would get really excited to read them again at home. This warmed my heart that my kids were so excited to read the Bible. I hope they always continue to find so much joy in reading God’s word.

Yaya’s Birthday and Christmas at the Zoo

We hadn’t been to Christmas at the Zoo in years, so this year we celebrated my mom’s birthday together with a quick trip to the zoo, followed by cake and ice cream. The zoo was more crowded than we liked…so we all wore our masks most of the time, and we just pushed Brody in the stroller and kept him as far away from people as possible. But the kids loved seeing some animals and all the lights with their cousins. And we all loved celebrating our sweet mama (and Yaya) on her special day!

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Yaya in her happy place…with all 6 of her babies!

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Christmas Eve

Ryan had to work on Christmas day this year, so we had to shift around some of our usual Christmas plans. We started out getting together with just Ryan’s immediate family for dinner and gifts, then we went to Aunt Renata’s house the next morning (Christmas Eve morning). Brody had a little bit of a cold during Christmas and was extra clingy, so I didn’t get as many pictures as I had hoped. We did a quick at-home Covid test on him before seeing all of our family though just to be on the safe side. He definitely didn’t enjoy that, but we felt better seeing everyone with a negative Covid test!

After Renata’s house, we came to my parents’ house for dinner, online church, and gifts. 

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We miss going to in-person church, especially at Christmas time. So we try to still make it feel like we are there by doing the candlelight at the end of the sermon. The kids enjoyed participating with their battery-operated tea lights and singing along with us!

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We had a wonderful dinner, and then we opened gifts. The kids loved all the gifts that they got from all their family members…and we had a LOT to take home after 3 different Christmas celebrations! 

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We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with both sides of the family. We headed home that evening, the kids spread their reindeer dust in the yard and they were off to bed ready to see what Santa would bring in the morning!

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Christmas Day

The kids were so excited to see their gifts from Santa! Ryan didn’t work until 11am, so we were able to take our time in the morning opening gifts and enjoying each other. 

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Again, in the chaos of present-opening and Brody hanging on me, I didn’t get as many pictures as I like to, but the kids loved all their gifts! Braxton had another dinosaur Christmas, Brody got lots of fun Mickey Mouse toys, and Kinsie loved her Legos and Present Pet.

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Ryan and I did pretty well for each other this Christmas too! He got me a Cricut (which I’ve wanted for years but would never buy myself one), and I made him a Lego photo of the two of us. This was quite a project that took hours, but it turned out great and he loved it!

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Once it was time for Ryan to head to work, the kids and I loaded back up in the car and spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house again so we didn’t have to be alone on Christmas. The rest of the day was pretty chill, which was nice after the busy day before. It was a wonderful Christmas!

Children’s Museum

The next week, Megan’s family wanted a play date with the kids, so Kinsie and Brax spent the day with them while I took Brody to hang out with my mom and I ran some errands. First, Megan did some crafts with Kinsie while Brax and Griffin played, then they all went to the Children’s Museum. They had such a great time! 

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Wonder Lab

I really wanted to take the kids back to the Wonder Lab while they were off school, so we went on New Year’s Eve morning. This is one of the only places I’ll take Brody since they limit capacity, require masks and disinfect often. We had such a fun morning!

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New Year’s Eve

Kinsie stayed up until midnight once a few years ago when we spent New Year’s with my sister’s family, but ever since then, we never did anything special, so we always did an early New Year’s celebration and then the kids went to bed before midnight. But this year, the big kids really wanted to stay up until midnight, so we had lots of fun activities planned, and my parents joined us for the festivities. First we had a glow-in-the-dark dance party. This was SO much fun! 

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After the dance party and putting Brody to bed, we did some games. We started with Harry Potter Pictionary Air, then played Beat That, which was such a fun party game! This kept us busy for a couple hours, and by the time we were done, it was about 11pm.

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By that time, we only had an hour left, so we got some snacks and just hung around and relaxed until midnight. And when I say we, I mean the adults. Kinsie and Brax were SLAP HAPPY. They were so wound up…running around the basement screaming and laughing. I truly thought they would be tired…but no. Not even the slightest. I didn’t even see them yawn once.

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They stayed up until midnight EASILY. They were dancing around at midnight ready to keep partying! But after our New Year’s celebration of poppers and fizzy drinks, we finally had to get them calmed down and ready for bed. It was such a fun night, and they actually slept in until almost 10am…which is probably a record for them!

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It was a great way to end our year! We’re ready for 2022…at least I think we are! I’m ready to get Brody vaccinated and try to go back to normal life. We have some vacations planned for 2022, including flying on a plane for the first time since before Covid, so I’m hoping this Omicron surge comes and goes quickly and without quite as much damage. Even so, we’ve gotten pretty good at still doing fun things safely. And we’ve really realized that it’s more about who we are spending our time with rather than where we are going or what we are doing. And as long as we are together and happy and healthy, then I feel blessed!

Happy New Year! Below is our December 1 Second Everyday, followed by our 1 Second Everyday for the entire year of 2021. Watching these reminds me that my kids really are happy and enjoying life…and that is all that matters to me!

 

Thankful in November

And just like that…November is over and we are now in our last month of 2021. It’s so crazy to me how quickly this year is flying by. November was filled with lots of quality family time, which is always my favorite. Here is a recap of our month…

Kindergarten Field Trip

Braxton’s class went on a field trip to a nearby farm this month, and parents got to come along! It was a cold morning, but I LOVED spending quality time with my boy. He loved petting many of the animals, and most of all…holding a baby lamb! 

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Fall Walk on Campus

IU’s campus is always gorgeous in the prime of fall. It’s my favorite. So we always try to find a day to take a walk on campus during the peak of the leaves changing. Like usual, it didn’t disappoint! 

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First Dose for the Bigs!

I’ve been excited for this day for a LONG time…Kinsie and Braxton got their first dose of the Covid vaccine! Even though they are not a big fan of shots, they were ready for this one. They are excited to get closer to normalcy and to help protect their little brother who won’t be able to get his vaccine for a few more months. 

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Birthday Celebration

My birthday was this month, and I never ask for much except to hang out with family. During the weekend before my actual birthday, we were at my parents’ house to hang out for the day while Ryan went to visit some friends. When he got back, my family surprised me with a cake and small birthday celebration! 

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Cousin Fun

We’ve had lots of great cousin time this month! My niece Kerigan had a small birthday party at an art studio, and the kids were ALL about it. They absolutely loved it!

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My kids had the week off for Thanksgiving, so we spent a lot of time at my parents’ house. The big kids went to a movie with their cousins, played in the little snowfall we got, and just enjoyed playing together at Papa and Yaya’s house!

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Fun at Home

We still spend a lot of time at home during the weekends or after school. This month the kids enjoyed doing Christmas crafts, watching deer out the kitchen window, coloring, dressing up Bob the boxing guy, and just playing together and coming up with creative games. 

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And of course we get outside as often as we can too! The kids have loved walking down to the woods behind our house and climbing rocks!

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Brown County

My birthday gift from my parents was a night getaway to Brown County while they watched the kids. It was EXACTLY what I needed. Ryan and I got to spend the day in Brown County, just the two of us. We took a hike in the state park, had some amazing meals and snacks, went shopping, did a wine tasting, and just relaxed. We loved the quality time together and definitely need it more often!

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always a busy, but wonderful day for us. We started the day at Ryan’s parents’ lake house for a delicious Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan’s side of the family. The kids loved playing with their cousin Griffin, and Nate’s dog, Alfie! 

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Later in the afternoon, we made our way to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family. The kids always have a blast at the cousin table, and Brody even joined them! It was a busy, chaotic day, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Days like this make us realize how blessed we really are to not have just one, but TWO wonderful families that we can spend the holidays with.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

I love Christmas time. When we lived in Arkansas, I always decorated early because we usually spent the week of Christmas in Indiana with our families, so I wanted to be able to enjoy our Christmas decorations longer. Now I don’t really have that excuse, I just decorate early because I love it! I was especially excited to decorate my new house for Christmas for the first time! Last year, we didn’t have much space, and most of our Christmas stuff was in storage, so we were all excited to get it ALL out this year and have an abundance of space to put it all. Brody loves all the Christmas lights, and every time he passes the tree, he points and says “Ooooh!”

Christmastree

Brody is 18 Months!

Our crazy little Covid baby is 18 months old! It’s hard to believe that his entire life has been in a pandemic, and he has no idea! He is still the happiest, craziest, most active little dude. He still has a severe case of stranger danger, but he knows who is in his circle and he welcomes them with open arms!

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Some fun facts about our Bro at 1.5 years…

  • He LOVES to talk. He knows everyone’s name in his family, and he knows a lot of words. He also babbles on and on for minutes at a time as if he’s having a full conversation with us! My favorite words that he says (that we can understand), are banana (nana), shoes, (oosh), and cookie.
  • He loves to color and explore art. But he’s still learning that we only color on paper!

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  • He has his first official “lovey,” a stuffed animal Pluto that he found in Brax’s old stuffed animals. He loves it so much! He carries it everywhere, sleeps with it, and calls it “Woof Woof.”

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  • He LOVES snacks. Just like his brother. He often does not want anything to do with his meals, but he wants snacks all day long. And he can open the pantry by himself, so he is constantly getting in the pantry and gathering up the snacks he wants.
  • His favorite foods are cottage cheese, cheese sticks, bananas, and veggie straws.

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  • He still loves being outside, or leaving the house in any way. He gets SO excited at the chance to play outside, or put on his shoes to go somewhere…even if it’s just taking his brother and sister to school.
  • He loves to dance…especially to the songs from any Mickey Mouse show!
  • He loves books…and lucky for him, there are now 4 people in his family that are able to read to him.
  • He loves Mickey Mouse and Baby Shark.
  • He hates having his picture taken…but I love taking his picture, so I’ve had to get creative to get any decent pictures of him! This often involves me chasing him around while singing songs and making a fool of myself just to make him laugh!
  • He doesn’t always like to wear clothes. He will often remove his own shirt or pants and run around almost naked!

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  • He is absolutely wild and exhausting, but he is also hilarious and so stinking cute! We are all still so obsessed with him in every way!

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As I was writing this blog post, I looked back at my old blog posts from when Kinsie and Braxton turned 18 months. Braxton and Brody are SO much alike! Brax went through some really difficult toddler phases, but now he is an absolute gem so I’d be ok if I raise another one just like him!

And that was our November. Overall, we didn’t do much other than the everyday hustle and bustle. But we love our time at home or at my or Ryan’s parents’ houses just spending time as a family. That is what fills our buckets. We are looking forward to the Christmas season and all the joy and magic it brings!

Enjoy our November 1SE…its a whole lot of Brody squeals and dancing!

Our Last Month with our Koda Bear

September seemed to fly by, until the very end of the month. Kinsie celebrated her 8th birthday, so that was a positive, but it was also a tough month because we had to say goodbye to our loyal companion, Koda. He got to spend his last days with a lot of family time, which was his absolute favorite thing. 

Here is how the rest of our month went.

Cousin Sleepovers

Out of the 4 weekends in September, we had sleepovers for 3 of them! My sister’s kids were supposed to come over for a sleepover at the end of August, but it didn’t work out so we had to switch it to Labor Day weekend. The whole family (my parents and my sister’s whole family) ended up coming for the weekend. The kids had a blast together. We watched movies, explored campus, and had a family baseball game.

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The next two weekends, the whole family came again because IU Football season started and we have season tickets. One of the weekends was also my sister’s birthday, so we got to celebrate with her. The fam got to tag along to watch Brax play soccer as well!

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The kids LOVED their weekends with their cousins. They made lots of forts, played outside a lot, and played lots of games. They all get along so well and had a great time together!

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Another Quarantine

This time, Brax’s entire class was quarantined after one of his classmates tested positive. Luckily, the whole class wears masks, but because they eat lunch in the classroom, they thought the safest decision was to have the whole class quarantine for a week. He was bummed, but he was at least glad that it was his whole class, so he wasn’t missing out on anything. Luckily nobody else in the class got sick, so again – masks work! He was a champ doing his schoolwork at home, and he enjoyed the extra Brody time!

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Football Season

Ryan and I bought season tickets to IU Football this year with my parents. When we were in college, IU Football was never good, so we were excited to go to games where we were actually a decent team! To be honest, I was nervous going to an event like this when we’ve been so careful throughout this entire pandemic. But IU requires their students to be vaccinated, and the majority of the crowd most likely is as well. We’ve still been wearing masks during the games just to be extra careful – mainly to protect our kids. But it was nice to be out and about again – it had been way too long!

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Fun at School

Braxton has been rocking Kindergarten. He has made SO much progress so far both academically and in maturity. He makes friends very easily and loves all the fun activities they do in school. This month, he was the “Wise Owl of the Week,” where he got to bring in pictures and share information about himself with the class. He also got to go on a field trip to the fire station!

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Life at Home with Bro

This kid keeps me busy! He gets into everything all the time! He is hilarious and so much fun though! We try to go on walks when the weather is nice, but other than that, we hang at home. By nap time, I’m worn out and sometimes need a short nap myself to charge back up for the afternoon. I’m sure glad I have this little ball of sunshine to fill my days!

Brody

Enjoying the Outdoors

Fall weather is my FAVORITE. We got small glimpses of lovely fall weather this month. We also had some extremely hot days. But when it was decent out, we did lots of chalk, baseball throwing, car riding, bubbles, frog hunting and trail walks.

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Kinsie turned 8!

Our beautiful girl turned EIGHT this month! We started our day with birthday donuts. She enjoyed her day at school, where her class made her a birthday book. She also passed out Harry Potter pencils and mini erasers, which she thought was the greatest thing ever! 

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After school, she opened her presents. She loved her Lego set, pop-its, and the animation studio we got her, but she especially loved the new Nugget she got in the mail from Grandma Bev and Papa Tim! The kids already have one, but Kinsie always wants to build her own forts with it, and the boys always destroy it because they want to climb and be rough. So now she has her own, but she of course shares with her brothers so they can make extra cool formations!

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After she opened her presents, we went on a walk around campus. The weekend before Kinsie’s birthday was when Koda started not acting like himself. He wasn’t eating and he was more tired than usual, so we knew something was up. We wanted him to be with us, so we took him on our walk too. He moved slowly, but he enjoyed being with us.

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After our walk, we got Mother Bear’s Pizza and some ice cream to celebrate our girl! She had a great day!

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Zoo Date

The Saturday after her birthday, Kinsie’s request was to have a Zoo Day at the Indianapolis Zoo, and then a swim party at my parents’ house afterwards. We kept it small – just our immediate families. We spent the earlier part of the day at the zoo, and all of their cousins eventually met us there. The kids were in heaven! 

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We had to get a picture of the Mexican cousins with the Dia de los Muertos display!

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The kids all had SO much fun together. By the early afternoon, it was getting pretty crowded and we saw everything we wanted to see, so we headed back to my parents’ house for Part 2 of Kinsie’s Birthday Celebration.

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Harry Potter Party

My girl has been obsessed with Harry Potter lately – not that I can blame her! She wanted to have a Harry Potter themed swimming party. Since it was just immediate family, and we had a lot going on with Koda the previous weeks, we didn’t go all out like I would have liked, but we still made it cute and fun with some fun decorations and snacks.

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The weather was great – in the low 70s. Probably not quite warm enough for swimming, but the kids didn’t care. They kept warm in the heated pool and had a blast.

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After swimming, we had Subway for dinner (Kinsie’s favorite), ice cream cake and cookies, and then she opened her presents. She had a wonderful day!

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We knew our sweet Koda was declining quickly, and we brought him along for the trip. We are so glad we did because he got to spend his last weekend with all of his favorite people. Both of our families got to give him some love and say goodbye.

Our Koda Bear

At the end of the month, we had to say goodbye to our sweet, loyal, almost 13 year old pup, Koda. We started losing him the weekend before Kinsie’s birthday and he declined pretty quickly. We think he had something going on with his intestines – whether it was cancer or something similar. The last week was so hard seeing him so miserable. He wasn’t eating anything and he was so weak. Ryan and I had to make the difficult decision to put him down. We stayed right by his side throughout the process, hugging him and loving on him while he left this world.

Ryan got Koda as a puppy before we were even married, so he has been through many different seasons of life with us. He lived in 6 different houses with us and helped us welcome 3 children into our family. He was such a good, loyal dog. He was so laid back and easy going, but also extremely protective of us. I always felt safer with Koda around. He was happy anywhere or doing anything as long as he was near us. As he got older, he got overwhelmed by the high level of noise and chaos in our home with our 3 crazy kids – but he always remained right in the center of it because he simply wanted to be with us. We have so many wonderful memories with him that we will carry in our hearts forever.

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It definitely is not the same at our house now that he’s gone. Little every day things are so different now. Pets are so interwoven into our everyday lives and you don’t fully realize it until they are gone. I I will miss not having to sweep the crumbs under Brody’s high chair because Koda would lick them up. I will miss hearing his claws tapping around on the floor when he got excited and chased his tail. I will even miss his hair tufts that I found everywhere in the house and had to sweep up constantly. But mostly I will miss his comforting presence and sweet companionship. We will love you forever, Koda bear!

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Overall, we had a great month. We were devastated to lose our Koda, but we are relieved that he is no longer in pain. He’s probably running around heaven chasing rabbits with Addie!

We are ready for October, one of our favorite months. We love all of our fall traditions so we are excited to do them in our new house.

Enjoy our September 1 Second Everyday!

Soakin’ Up Summer

We soaked up ALL the summer we could this month. Kinsie starts school the first week of August, and Braxton starts the week after that, so we tried to do all the summer-y things we could. It was a fun, busy month with lots of pool time, cousin fun, and family adventures. Here is how our July went…

 

4th of July

Ryan unfortunately worked most of 4th of July weekend, so the kids and I spent our time with family. The Saturday before, we went to the lake for the annual lake fireworks. The big kids got to enjoy the fireworks lakeside with their cousins, and I took Brody back to my parents’ house to go to bed. He isn’t quite old enough to be able to stay up that late, or enjoy the fireworks anyway. Maybe next year!

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The next day, we spent the day at the pool. My sister’s family came and had some of their friends over as well, so the kids had lots of kids their own age to play with. They had SO much fun swimming, lighting sparklers, watching fireworks and catching lightning bugs. And Brody enjoyed corn on the cob, and his mama!

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When Ryan finally had an evening off, he bought a home firework kit to do with the kids. He used to do fireworks all the time growing up, and he hasn’t been able to do any the last few years because he’s almost always working, so he enjoyed being a pyromaniac once again, but this time with his kids!

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Park Day

The kids LOVED this park last year…they called it the “Ninja Warrior Park.” They had been asking when we could go back, so we finally got a chance to make a trip there on a day that wasn’t scorching hot. Brody LOVES to climb, so we laced up his tennis shoes on him and let him join in on the fun. He absolutely loved it!

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A Much Needed Trip

Ryan and I haven’t been on a trip just the two of us since residency interviews…that was almost 5 years ago! It has been a really long few years, and I really needed a break. I love my kids and I love getting to stay home with them, but I haven’t been away from my little mama’s boy for more than a hour or two at a time in his entire life. He stopped nursing in June, so I finally felt somewhat free and needed a short getaway. Ryan had about a week off early in the month, so we booked a last minute trip to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. We booked a cabin for ourselves and had Ryan’s parents watch the kids. It was EXACTLY what I needed!

On our first full day, we did a 14 mile hike – basically hiking through the entire state park. There were stops along the way – so we would stop and enjoy the the scenery whenever we could. We packed a lunch and ate on the trail. Throughout most of the day, we didn’t come in contact with many people…just in the sight-seeing areas there were more people. It was very peaceful to just be surrounded by nature. 

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We spent a morning canoeing on the river.

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We loved exploring together. So many neat caves, rock formations, creeks and waterfalls!

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We especially loved Ash Cave and all the random waterfalls throughout the park. The best/weirdest part of the trip was just running on our own time. Normally our day is dictated by nap time, snacks, etc. And it takes at least an hour to get ready to go anywhere – I usually have to pack enough sunscreen, bug spray, extra clothes, snacks, diapers, etc. and make sure everyone is ready for the day. But it was so nice just to worry about us two only for a few days. It was so nice to spend some uninterrupted time with my Ry!

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Meanwhile, the kids were in good hands…

I was a little nervous on how Brody would handle being away from me. But I knew it was good for both of us. Not only is he is Covid baby and hardly ever even gets to leave the house, but I have always stayed at home with him, so he isn’t used to being watched by other people. Luckily, he did great! Since he wasn’t around me, he clung to his grandma…but I don’t think she minded!

The kids got to spend lots of time with cousins swimming in the pool at the lake, eating popsicles and just living their best life!

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They loved spending time at the playground with cousins too!

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And walking through the creek…

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And getting ice cream of course!

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One of their highlights was having a cousin sleepover at the camper. Aunt Megan stayed with this crazy crew. They watched a movie and loved their first camping experience!

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They also got to go to the Indianapolis Zoo. Before we moved to Arkansas, we had a membership to this zoo, so I took Kinsie all the time. She remembered it pretty well, but we moved when Brax was only 1, so he remembers the Little Rock Zoo more. They had an awesome day at the zoo. They saw lots of animals, had good treats and got souvenirs. I don’t even think they missed us!

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Fun at Home

The kids have been enjoying just spending time at home this summer too. We are still so in love with our new house and are enjoying it to the fullest this summer. They’ve been enjoying our big yard and doing fun water activities, like the mini splash pad, water table and slip n slide!

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They are obsessed with the slip n slide!

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Something they’ve always enjoyed doing was making obstacle courses. Now we have the perfect backyard for them! We even made a special baby version for Brody!

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When we are home and not outside, we are pretty much always in the basement. Brody is still obsessed with the Nugget, and loves destroying anything and everything he can get his hands on. We recently bought a card table and set it up in the basement so we could use it for family games, but the kids mainly like to use it to set up their toys so Brody can’t reach them!

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Cousin Birthday Party

The kids’ cousin Hudson turned 4 this month, and had a fun outdoor Dino-themed birthday party. They had an inflatable water slide and the kids were all obsessed! We stayed most of the day and the kids had an absolute blast.

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Pool Days

Since Ryan had a week off for our trip earlier in the month, the rest of his month was pretty busy with work. Whenever he had a stretch of a few days in a row, the kids and I went and stayed at my parents’ house. We had lots of pool days with cousins! Brody is becoming more and more obsessed with the pool so he loved getting in on the action whenever he could!

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This travel high chair was such a great purchase! Brody loves eating his lunch and snacks pool-side!

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Lots and lots of swimming fun. Brax even learned to swim independently in the deep end… no more floaties for him!

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When mom is too lazy to put on your swim suit and swim diaper…you just go with it!

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The cousins loved pool-side lunch picnics too!

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Splash Pads

We made it a summer goal to check out the local splash pads. I also wanted to somewhat wait until Brody was walking a little more, and he finally started walking regularly in the second half of the month, so we finally made a few day trips to the splash pads. Brody was a big fan of his first splash pad experience!

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Wonderlab

This has become one of our new favorite spots, especially since I feel somewhat safe bringing the kids there. I wanted to bring the big kids one more time before school started, and I’ll probably make it a regular place to bring Brody for a morning activity when the kids are in school!

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Meet Dash!

Kinsie has wanted a bunny for years. We originally planned on letting her have one when he moved back to Indiana, but then we decided to build a new house so we knew we’d have to wait until we were in our new house. The day finally came, and she and Brax were SO excited! They picked out a bunny at the Animal Shelter and named him Dash. Brody has enjoyed him too, even though we have to keep a close eye on him so he doesn’t love on him too much! Koda is still getting used to him. We have to introduce him in small doses and try to get him to understand that he’s a family member, not a snack!

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Getting acquainted with the new member of the family!

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Lots of playtime with Dash!

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Meet Spotty!

Another promise we made was to get Brax a lizard. Ryan has had lots of different reptiles in his day, so he figured a leopard gecko would be the way to go. So now we can officially introduce Brax’s new gecko friend… Spotty! His full name is “Spotty Pickles Dobby!” You gotta love the creativity of kids! 

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Brody Updates

Brody has grown and changed so much lately, I had to share some of his newest tricks!

 

He is officially WALKING. I truly thought this would happen sooner since he’s been crawling since 4 months, and he loves to climb and get into everything. But he took his time and finally got the hang of it. Now he loves toddling around everywhere!

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He’s talking and repeating sounds a lot more. He loves repeating high-pitched screaming and “woo-hoo” sounds, and he likes to imitate different voices. He loves imitating Donald Duck and the Hulk’s voices the most. He says words like hi, cheese, fish, Kinsie, bye, and more.

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He LOVES Mickey Mouse and the whole gang. He always says “hi” to him and gravitates towards any Mickey toy. He doesn’t really watch TV yet, but loves the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Sometimes I will play the song on repeat when I need a couple minutes of him not hanging on me!

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He LOVES to be chased…especially to the Jaws theme! As soon as we start with the “Duh nuh…duh nuh…” music, he immediately gets the biggest smile on his face and starts running away! He cracks up when we catch him!

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He loves drinking whole milk. He gets warm whole milk in the morning when he wakes up and at night before he goes to bed (it helped wean him off of nursing), and it is his favorite part of the day! He gets so excited when he sees his milk and he will sit and chug it until it’s gone!

He is still as crazy as ever, and starting to get more and more “toddler moments” every day. He keeps us busy for sure! Enjoy the video below of his precious walking!

And that was our July. The kids will start school soon, and they are looking forward to it…even if they have to continue masking up (thanks a lot, Delta.) 

Here is our 1 Second Every Day for July. Enjoy!

 

The Longest February in History

This month was LOOOOONG. Usually January is the worst month, but goodness, this February was rough. The weather was absolutely insane and we had so many random things go wrong and need repaired. Our house is ALMOST DONE…which is why I think time went especially slow because we are so anxious to move in! But we made it to March and we couldn’t be more excited! Here is a rundown of our incredibly long February…

Valentine’s Day Activities

We always try to do several fun activities to celebrate Valentine’s Day for the kids…starting with making valentines for their classes. My crafty girl always wants to make her valentines, rather than just buying some and putting her name on them. This year, she made “love monsters” for her class. And Brax of course, wanted dinosaur valentines! They enjoyed putting them together for their friends.

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We also spent a day making valentine cookies (we threw in some unicorns too). The kids always love making cookies, and their most recent favorite decorating themes include Harry Potter cookies (notice several of the cookies have glasses), and cookies with masks!

Valentines-cookies

On actual Valentine’s Day, Ryan had to work in the afternoon so we did our valentines activities in the morning. This mainly included a scavenger hunt to find their gifts. Then of course I always take a million pictures of them…especially since its Brody’s first Valentine’s Day!

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A recent tradition I’ve done the last few years is writing reasons why we love the kids – one reason for each kid starting on February 1 until February 14. They loved waking up each morning to see a new reason, and Brody loved wrinkling up and chewing on his reasons! 

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I also usually try to make a Valentine-themed dinner for the kids. This year included heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches. And for Brody, his lunch meat and veggies were arranged in a heart!

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The Never-ending Blizzard

The week after Valentine’s Day was INSANE. Not only the entire state of Indiana had major snow storms, but even southern states like Texas and our old home state of Arkansas did too! The entire time we lived there, there was maybe a light dusting of snow once…and the entire city shut down. Now they had like 10 inches! I’m not sure how they survived! Anyway, the kids didn’t have school on Monday (President’s Day), and that is when the madness began. It snowed ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT. And then it snowed MORE. And MORE. It just wouldn’t stop. The kids ended up having 3 snow days in a row! (Kinsie had e-learning on these days). And it wasn’t ideal to go outside and play in the snow because a) the temperature was in the single digits, and b) Ryan was working the whole week and it was hard managing time around Brody’s naps and Kinsie’s schoolwork…but the kids didn’t even want to play outside. They were over it! We all were…except for maybe Koda.

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We did have some epic icicles on our house!

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Koda enjoyed the snow! The rest of us not so much.

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Kinsie all bundled up doing her school work online

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At one point, I did scoop up some fresh, clean snow and the kids and I made snow ice cream!

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Not only was the weather crummy, but about everything broke down during this week for us. Our toilet stopped working (and we only have one bathroom in our rental), my car got stuck in the deep snow in our driveway, our laptop stopped working intermittently, our printer stopped working, and once we actually got my car out of the driveway, the power steering pump needed replaced! It was a tough week. We were stuck inside all day, every day for a week. We actually ended up spending one night at my parents house just to have a working toilet for 24 hours. The kids were sick of each other and sick of not being able to go to school. And we were all sick of everything not working…but we got through it, and we know it could have been much worse, so we tried our best to stay positive!

Home Activities and Projects

Like every other month, February consisted of a lot of staying home and trying to stay busy. There is always a lot of arts and crafts, science, games, and imaginative play. 

One day when Aunt Renata came to visit, she got out some of Ryan’s butcher paper and started creating a board game with Brax. They included Dinosaur Land, Unicorn Island, and more. Once Kinsie came home from school, then she took off with lots of ideas for the game too. The kids loved designing it and playing it!

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Ryan and I recently watched the Netflix show called “The Queen’s Gambit.” It’s about a young orphan who becomes a prodigy and world champion at chess. I’ve never known how to play chess, and watching this show made me want to learn. Ryan bought a learning version of the game, called “No Stress Chess.” So one day, Ryan started teaching me how to play, and the kids became obsessed…especially Brax! I didn’t think it would interest him much, but he LOVES it, and still asks Ryan to play with him regularly!

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Kinsie is still slowly working through all of the science kits she received for Christmas. Ryan loves doing them with her and teaching her about science along the way. Brax usually joins in on the fun too!

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One day, Kinsie randomly decided she was going to make vet stations for their stuffed animals. She had a station for checking eye sight and getting glasses, a teeth brushing station, a station to check for ticks, and a station to receive a shot and decorate a bandaid to put on after the shot. She asked Brax and Brody to each pick a stuffed animal to go through the stations with. It was so creative!

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I have always wanted to collect all of the kids’ drawings and artwork and put them into a book, but I never took the time to do it. Well one day, my sister-in-law sent me a text saying that Shutterfly was having a deal where you could make a book with free unlimited pages. I knew right then, this was the time I finally needed to do it. So I spent the next couple of days organizing the kids’ artwork, scanning it all, and arranging it all into books. I made one book for Brax with artwork from age 2 until now, and I had to make 2 books for Kinsie because she had SO much artwork. Just last spring alone when the pandemic hit, drawing was stress relief for her, so she spent hours a day drawing. Now all of that artwork is displayed in these awesome books rather than tucked away in bins where nobody will see them. I love how they turned out!

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Since we hardly ever leave the house, Brody often gets bored with his same environment and toys, so I try to switch it up and take him into different rooms. Whenever I have computer work to do, I bring him to the office (which is also the room where he sleeps) and I put him in his pack n play and put toys in with him. The kids always like to get in there with him to play, so of course I had to document it!

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Fun at School

Even though this year is very different, the kids are still really enjoying school. I love seeing the different activities and work they bring home from school.

This particular paper Kinsie brought home melted me. She had to write about her superhero, and she wrote about her dad!

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I love when their schools share photos on social media so I can get a glimpse of their day!

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This month, Brax got to celebrate his 100th day of school! He got to bring in 100 of a snack (he chose M&M’s), and 100 of an item of his choice, as long as it fit in a gallon sized bag. He brought in 100 dinosaurs!

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Cousin Sleepover

My parents invited all the cousins (except Brody…he still needs his mama at night!) for a sleepover. It’s reasons like this why, even in the midst of a horrible winter, we are so glad we moved back home!

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OUTSIDE!!

After the snowstorm week from hell, the sun finally decided to shine again! The temps got up to the mid fifties and it was HEAVEN. Most of the snow melted, and we finally ventured outside and I can’t even tell you how amazing it felt to feel the sun again!

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Progress on the House

Our house is ALMOST DONE. I’m so excited I can barely think straight. The updates this month were SO fun because we’ve gotten to see it slowly come together to look like the final product. It is so beautiful I could cry.

 

The living room after a fresh coat of paint

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In love with my counter tops!

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The basement!

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Master shower

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Kinsie loves her room!

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Living room

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The upper back porch

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Master bathroom

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Kids’ bathroom

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My amazing kitchen 

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Ryan and I have had to meet with the guys working on the house every once in a while to discuss things, and Brody is usually along for the ride. One day, we had to go through the house and decide the layout of all the closets. Well I guess we took longer than I expected because Brody ended up falling asleep!

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Picnics are a common thing at the house! 

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Brody is NINE Months!

My baby is only 3 months away from turning one, and I’m not ok with it! Goodness this boy brings us so much joy. He is so sweet, silly, and happy, and he still LOVES his mama. The feeling is mutual, but I don’t necessarily feel the need to hang all over him and chase him around like he does to me.

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Brody updates at 9 months –

  • He weighs 19 pounds – 36th percentile
  • He is 28.8 inches tall – 63rd percentile
  • He loves to dance! He has the most precious signature dance that he does whenever he hears music (you can see small snippets of his dance in the 1 Second Everyday video at the end of this post).
  • His favorite food is strawberries. But he still loves most food. And he eats SO fast…like his dad!
  • His two top teeth have broken through and are SO cute.
  • He is “real” crawling now. However, when he wants to get somewhere fast, he still drops down to his belly and army crawls like a beast.
  • He is saying sounds like “da-da,” “ya-ya,” and “ga-ga.” No meaning yet, just cute babbles.
  • His favorite thing to do is pull up on anything he can. He is also starting to get braver and tries to climb up onto things. 
  • His favorite place in the world is his mama’s arms.
  • He looks just like Kinsie did as a baby. I didn’t realize it until I looked back at baby pictures of Kinsie. 
  • He loves discovering his voice, He makes all kinds of cute babbles and squeals constantly.

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On Brody’s 9 month birthday, the kids made him cards, and found toys and wrapped them up in paper for him to open as presents. It was precious!

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Matching brother hats

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Always standing!

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More precious Brody smiles! I could stare at his face all day. I often do.

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Our growing boy!

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Good riddance, February. We’re ready to move on from you. We’re ready for March. We’re ready for spring. We’re ready for warmer weather and more outside time. And we are SO ready to move into our house…SO SOON! Stay tuned…next month is officially move-in month!!

Here is our February 1 Second Everyday…enjoy!

A Much- Needed Family Summer

Even though the pandemic is still raging, our summer in our new home as a full family of five has been so refreshing! We’ve had so much quality family time that we’ve all been aching for for years! Since Covid is still going strong and we are still being protective of our little Brody, we really haven’t gotten out and about much to explore our new town and we haven’t really been able to meet people, but we know that will come soon enough when things get better. In the mean time, we’ve just been soaking up all the family time we can get, and enjoying being close to our families and cousins again.

Here’s a rundown of our July…

4th of July

We enjoyed going to the lake this year for the 4th. Our day mainly consisted of boat rides, fireworks and cousin time!

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IU Scavenger Hunt

We took the kids on a long walk through IU’s campus, and I wanted to find a way to make sure they somewhat stayed interested, so I made a scavenger hunt. It included specific landmarks around campus, such as the Sample Gates, the Showalter Fountain and the Herman B. Wells statue, but it also included things like red and white flowers, a red clock, people riding bikes, etc. The kids enjoyed it even though it was about 100 degrees out that day!

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Exploring new parks

We have tried to spend some time finding old and new parks to explore in our new town. The first one I wanted to go to was my favorite park from college, Lower Cascades Park. It is a beautiful little park with a hidden creek and waterfall. The kids LOVED the waterfall area! They spent a good hour climbing behind and all around it, and throwing rocks in the creek.

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After the waterfall hike, we let the kids just play on the playground. This park is also nice because it isn’t usually too crowded. Another day, we came back to this park to ride bikes and had a Subway picnic.

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Another park we tried was called Switchyard Park. Kinsie liked to call it the “American Ninja Warrior Park” because it had lots of climbing ninja-type activities, which is one of her current obsessions!

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Pool Parties

We’ve gone to my parents’ pool about once a week this month. This is probably the kids’ favorite place to play with their cousins!

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We recently let Brody have his first pool experience. He was pretty chill about it, like most things in life!

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Lake Life

We’ve spent almost every weekend at the lake, our happy place! We always love going on lots of boat rides whenever we can.

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The kids have loved spending time with their other cousins as well. We enjoyed visiting some cousins at the Heritage Lake Campground, as well as some much-needed Griffin time!

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We always have fun at the lake. Whether it’s fishing, swimming, boat rides, paddle boat rides, kayaking, or just hanging out, it is always a fun and relaxing time!

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Outdoor Living

The house we are currently living in is a great place to catch fireflies. The kids loved their first firefly experience!

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Ryan has never had this much time off before, and he is not the type to sit around…so he did lots of projects. Just a few examples include a giant Jenga set, and a peg board for the kids to climb!

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Fun at Renata’s

The kids are always asking when we can go back to Aunt Renata’s house. I took them one day and like usual, they had a blast. They loved playing with Nicole’s dog Winnie in the baby pool, running around outside, and doing lots of painting and art projects!

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Kinsie the Biker Babe!

Our big girl Kinsie learned how to ride her bike without training wheels…in about 5 minutes! We were visiting Ryan’s Aunt Rita and her family at the campground, and Kinsie wanted to ride bikes with her cousins. The only extra bike they had didn’t have training wheels, so Aunt Rita took her out and Kinsie picked it up SO quickly! It was so much fun watching her ride and all the kids running with her and cheering her on! We’ve been taking her places as often as we can to keep practicing. She’s a pro now!

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Kinsie Dates

My sweet Kinsie has REALLY missed being in school. She was supposed to start her first day at her new school on August 5, but her district decided to do online learning until at least September. She’s super bummed, so I’ve been trying to find ways to keep her spirits up. Since she is at home with her brothers all day every day, she’s been needing some breaks…and since she’s good about wearing a mask, I’m able to take her on little dates. One day I took her to get special drinks from Starbucks and then to the park. Another day I took her to get school supplies and go see her school. She loves our girl dates!

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Cousin Bike Ride

Ever since Kinsie learned to ride her bike with no training wheels, she wants to ride ALL the time! Our rental house is on a main road, so she can’t ride there, so we take it to parks and my parents’ house often. One day, my sister brought her kids and their bikes too and all 5 of the kids had a cousin bike ride.

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Brody is 2 months!

We are SO grateful for our precious Brody in our lives, especially during such a weird time. His sweet noises and smiles can brighten up any dark day we may have.

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Here are some updates on our Bro at 2 months:

  • He is 12 lbs. 5 oz. – 55th percentile for weight.
  • He is 24″ long – 85th percentile for height.
  • Like my other kids, he has quite a large noggin! His head circumference is in the 95th percentile!
  • He sleeps a good 6-7 hour stretch at night in between feedings.
  • He is talking and interacting much more.
  • He is SO smiley…especially in the mornings.
  • He recognizes voices and faces and love his family.
  • He loves doing bicycle kicks with his legs. When his belly hurts, this is one of the only things that calms him.
  • He loves when people talk to him and love to be involved in whatever we’re doing.
  • Car rides, boat rides, and being worn in a carrier always soothe him to sleep.
  • He is getting on a more consistent eat – wake – sleep cycle… a Babywise method that worked well for my other kids.

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The kids are still completely obsessed with their little brother. They love cuddling with him, talking to him, playing with him, helping give him baths, and cheering him on with tummy time!

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His smile is seriously my favorite…

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More sweet Brody faces!

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As you can see below, he has already grown a lot! He is really filling out and getting some cute chubby cheeks!

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We are all head-over-heels with this sweet little boy. Even though giving birth and living with a newborn in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic has been extremely difficult, his laid back personality and overall sweetness has made every difficult second completely worth it. He was an unexpected, but perfect gift from God. If it would have been up to me, of course I wouldn’t choose to have a baby during a pandemic. But God knows better and I can’t imagine life without this precious gift He knew we needed!

Ryan is excited to start his official job in August, Kinsie will start online learning, and Braxton gets to start at his new preschool. We also should be breaking ground on our house in August as well. We are grateful for these things to keep us busy and give us something to look forward to during an unpredictable time.

Enjoy our July 1 Second Everyday video!

Our First Month Back

We have officially lived in Indiana for one month now. Well…the kids and I have, Ryan has only been back about a week! It has been very different than I originally expected pre-pandemic. We are obviously still living in quarantine as much as possible and haven’t been able to visit as many friends and family as we’d like, but it has still been nice being close to our immediate family, especially with Ryan away. We are definitely still reeling from the crazy roller coaster that our lives have been the last few months, but it helped to have our family close to help me and entertain these busy kids!

Here is a recap of our month of June…

Swimming at Yaya’s

The kids and I stayed at my parents during the month of June while Ryan finished his residency. We spent lots of time swimming! One of Kinsie’s summer goals was to learn to swim completely on her own with no floaties. Well, she accomplished that goal in about 5 minutes! My mom worked with her in stages and had her swimming and jumping off the diving board independently in no time!

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Play Dates at Aunt Renata’s

We’ve always been close to Ryan’s Aunt Renata, and she used to help watch my kids when I was working. We really missed her during our time in Arkansas, so we’ve been making it up with lots of play dates at her house! The kids are always busy when visiting her house, whether it’s throwing rocks in the creek, painting rocks and birdhouses, making cookies, or just lounging in the hammock!

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Lake Days

Oh, how we’ve missed our days at Heritage Lake! It is one of our absolute favorite places to be. We spent several days on the lake with Grandma Bev and Papa Tim this month.

Fishing

I spent as much time fishing as I could since I haven’t done it in far too long. The kids like to fish too…but they don’t have the attention span to do it for long. Usually what ended up happening was they would do other things while I fished, then when I caught one, they wanted to touch and hold it.

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Boat Rides

Boat ride are always a favorite activity at the lake…and now we have Brody to enjoy them with! Brody was extra calm on boat rides, and they always rocked him right to sleep!

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Other Lake Adventures

The kids loved taking cubby rides around Heritage Drive, and especially to the marina. They enjoyed ice cream lakeside, and then loved playing on the playground.

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Cousin Play Dates

The kids have LOVED being back home closer to their cousins! We’ve tried to squeeze in as much cousin fun as possible this month. Their cousin Griffin was born in the middle of residency, so we’ve only gotten to spend time with him in small chunks during our short and busy visits home, so now the kids are loving spending lots of time with him now that we’re back!

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And of course the kids love their time with their cousins on my side of the family too. They call themselves the “Super 6” and are so excited to add Brody to the cousin crew!

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Our 8th Anniversary

Unfortunately, Ryan and I didn’t get to spend our anniversary together this year, but with residency life, this is somewhat the norm. Our entire marriage so far has been simultaneous with Ryan’s medical journey, so we’ve never really had “normal lives” since we got married in 2012. However, we’ve made the best of it! Our marriage has already been tested with the craziness of med school and residency life, even several periods of time where we didn’t even get to live together, and we’ve only come out stronger because of it. We are hopeful that from now on, we’ll actually get to spend our anniversaries together and maybe even get to have a date night here and there…something that has been few and far between for us!

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Father’s Day

We also didn’t get to spend Father’s Day with Ryan this year since we were in Indiana and he was still in Arkansas. However, we tried to still make it special for him. We took a picture (below, right) and put it on a canvas and mailed it to one of Ryan’s co-residents’ houses. The kids also drew pictures for him, and we sent those as well. Ryan’s co-resident then wrapped them for me and gave the gift to him while he was on shift on Father’s Day! He was surprised and loved his gift. We also got to FaceTime with him before he went to work, so we gave him as much love as possible from a distance.

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Other Fun Activities

My older two have been through a lot the last few months…with the pandemic and not getting to finish school, moving, and getting a new sibling. With all that, they have definitely had their moments of feeling overwhelmed, but overall they have handled all the change SO well. However, they are busy kids, and they behave much better when they stay busy. We played outside as much as we could, spent days at the homes of different family members, and even visited our rental home in Bloomington a few times. They enjoyed driving cars and tractors at both grandparents’ houses, picking strawberries in Grandma Bev’s garden, and having reading time together.

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Tours of IU Campus

IU Campus has my heart. It is so beautiful and I’ve always loved visiting whenever I had the chance. Since this is now the location of our new home, I’ve loved showing the kids the campus that I love so much!

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Ryan’s Homecoming

It was a long month without Ryan, so we were counting down the days until he came home. Ryan finishing residency was very different than it was supposed to be. He was supposed to get a special graduation ceremony, but they had to do it via Zoom instead. Luckily, they livestreamed the ceremony on YouTube so we could watch. I was an emotional mess watching the whole thing because a) I was sad that it had to be this way and b) I was so proud of Ryan. He even won the Resident of the Year award!

We wanted to make it a big deal when he came home. We invited both of our families, ordered a big yard sign, made food, ordered a cake, and decorated the house with streamers and signs. We were all so excited when he finally made it home and we had a great night together with our favorite doctor finally home for good.  If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to watch the video below of his homecoming.

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Brody turned 1 Month Old!

Our sweet Brody turned 1 month old in June! We have adored every second of our time with him. He is the absolute sweetest baby, and I am convinced that with all the craziness going on this year, God knew we needed a sweet baby like him. He has made a very difficult time in the world a whole lot better for us.

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Here are some stats about Brody at 1 month old…

  • At his 1 month checkup, he was 10 pounds and 2.5 oz (55th percentile), and 22.5 inches long (80th percentile).
  • Like I said before, he is SO sweet.
  • He is very laid back, something I did not expect based on the energy level of my other two, and how he acted in utero.
  • He rarely cries, something else we weren’t expecting based on our last colicky child.
  • He may not cry often, but he sure makes a lot of noises. He squeaks and grunts a lot. His little squeaks are the sweetest sound, and the kids call him “Squeaks” because of it. Whenever he’s hungry or gassy, rather than crying, he just grunts. I’ll take grunts any day over excessive crying!
  • He is most comfortable when being held. He is such a snuggly baby.
  • When he is awake and happy, he wiggles and kicks his legs a lot.
  • He had his first social smile right around 4 weeks old, and it was when FaceTiming with his daddy.
  • He loves watching ceiling fans.
  • He enjoys watching his big sister and big brother while they play.
  • He is very tolerant of the love (more like smothering) that he gets from Kinsie and Brax.
  • He loves his pacifiers. He has a monkey and a frog pacifier, and he hugs them while he sleeps.
  • He is starting to be awake for longer periods of time, which we all love!

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The many precious faces of Brody…

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We love his adorable smile!

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I’m always capturing his big siblings loving on him. They love playing with him when he’s on the floor, and they literally argue over holding him. I often have to set timers while they take turns holding him.

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And that’s a wrap for our June. We survived with the help of our family, and now we are so happy to have Ryan home and to officially start our new chapter of life post-residency. Ryan has the entire month of July off, so we are looking forward to lots of Daddy time and trying to explore our new town (as much as we can during a pandemic).

Here is our June 1 Second Everyday video. Enjoy!

June Travels

June was a whirlwind! We were gone more than we were home. During the month of June, we traveled to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and then the kids and I took a 2 week trip to visit family in Indiana. Ryan had to stay home to work, and we definitely missed him a lot while we were gone! However, we stayed super busy and did lots of fun activities back in our home town. I’m excited to share our June adventures!

Trip to Lake of the Ozarks

Since Ryan was named Chief Resident, one of his first responsibilities was to make the first few schedules. We knew that the kids and I were going to be gone the last 2 weeks of the month, so Ryan scheduled himself to work pretty much the whole time we were gone. With that being said, he was able to get multiple days off in a row during the first half of the month, so we decided to take advantage of that and take a little trip to the Ozarks! My parents met us there and brought along Kerigan. Unfortunately, Kinsie was not feeling well during the trip, and we later discovered she had pneumonia. She was just extra tired and not her perky self, but she was a trooper and still had fun.

On the first full day, we took a hike at the state park. It was a fun and easy hike, and we saw tons of deer! Ozarks-1-1

After our hike, we went to the beach area near our condo. The kids loved splashing around at the beach, playing on the playground, and taking a ride on the inflatable kayak that Ryan brought with us.

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The next day, we rented a pontoon boat and spent the entire day on the lake. We had a great day exploring the lake, trying out different restaurants on the water, fishing, and more. The kids were all exhausted by the end of the day, and Brax even fell asleep on Yaya’s lap, which I know she didn’t mind at all!

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I felt so bad that we took Kinsie on this trip when she didn’t feel good, but she was such a trooper. After the trip, we got her on some antibiotics and she was feeling better within days. It was still such a fun little trip with some people we love!

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Small Adventures

Taking small trips, even if it’s to a store or to get ice cream, are crucial for my sanity. Since Kinsie wasn’t feeling well, we were home a lot. As soon as she was feeling a little better, we took short trips out of the house just to get some fresh air. We needed to get some school uniforms for Kinsie, so we went to the outdoor mall and had ice cream. Another day, we went to Target and got cake pops at the Starbucks inside the store. It’s the little things!

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One day, Ryan didn’t have to work until the afternoon, so we took a family walk around the lake. The kids enjoyed stopping along the way to see turtles and ducks and we enjoyed some quality family time.

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Dragon Boat Races

The lake by our house does this event every year, and the first year it took place on the day we moved. We obviously didn’t go then since we just moved in, but we did see the fireworks from our house! This is the first year we were able to check it out, and it was very cool! Different companies get together and make teams and they race dragon boats across the lake to raise money for charity. Each company also sets up a tent and gives away free items. The kids got some free dragon cups, a beach ball, and lollipops, so they were in heaven! There were also fun games and activities set up around the park, so we all enjoyed a fun family morning at the event!

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Father’s Day and Our Anniversary

Our 7th anniversary and Father’s Day landed on the same day this year, so I made sure Ryan took the day off! We didn’t do anything spectacular…just went to church, and spent the day playing outside with the kids. Then I made Ryan’s favorite dinner. It was simple…but that’s all we needed. All we wanted for both our anniversary and Father’s Day was to spend the day all together, so that’s exactly what we did!

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A Tough Goodbye

As soon as we moved here 2 years ago, I made some incredible friends within the residency program. Several other wives within the program took me in right away and became my very good friends. We did playdates often, went to church together (usually without husbands, but with ALL our kids), we constantly had a group text going, and we supported each other through the tough journey of residency. The thing I loved most is that all of our husbands were in emergency medicine together, so we all shared the same struggles and helped each other through them. Their husbands were in the residency class above Ryan, so they just completed their third year and all moved away for new jobs. It was really hard saying goodbye to the friends I got so close with, but I was SO grateful just to have them for the 2 years that I did. Now I just have an excuse to travel around the U.S. to visit!

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Back Home Again in Indiana

The kids and I went to Indiana to visit family for 2 weeks, so that was half of our month right there. We are so grateful for our family for always helping us find ways to get there and back when Ryan can’t drive with us. This time, Bev flew to Little Rock and helped us drive to Indiana, and my mom helped us drive to Little Rock and then flew back to Indiana. We were SO busy during our 2 week visit, and we loved every minute of it! Here is a recap of our adventures in Indiana…

Indianapolis Children’s Museum

We used to take Kinsie to the museum when she was little, then of course we moved when Brax was still a baby, so we hadn’t been there in a few years. The kids were so excited when their cousins invited us to spend the day there with them. Brax LOVED the dinosaur peeking in the building as you first walk in!

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Some of the highlights of the inside of the museum included the carousel, the fossil digging area, and the Paw Patrol exhibit.

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Although we loved everything we saw inside, we spent the most time outside in the sports area. This is somewhat new, so we had never been. It was amazing! They had tons of exercising activities, every sport you can imagine, and a huge treehouse, similar to the “Tree of Life” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We spent hours exploring and playing! It was an awesome day!

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Indianapolis Zoo

We tagged along with Megan, Griffin, Grandma Bev and Ryan’s cousin Jess and her daughter Bexlee to the zoo. The bad news is that it rained almost the entire time we were there. The good news is that we still got to see most of the animals. A few of the savanna animals, and the tiger (my favorite) weren’t feeling the rain, but other than that, we saw a lot and had a great day. Kinsie hitched a ride in Griffin’s covered wagon, and Brax used Kinsie’s unicorn umbrella, so we were all good! The Indy Zoo has a great indoor aquarium area, so we spent a lot of time there. The kids loved all the sea creatures, and Kinsie got to see the dolphin show that she’s been talking about literally since we moved. Brax loved the orangutans and talked about them for days after!

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Another neat temporary exhibit was the MISTery Park. It was just a short little loop full of mist sprayers. Simple, but neat! Despite the rain, we enjoyed the day with family and animals.

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Splash Pad

We met Bev, Megan, and a few of Ryan’s aunts and cousins for lunch and then went to the park splash pad for the kids to play. It took some time for the kids to get comfortable enough to play, but once they did, they had a blast!

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Toy Story 4

The kids were dying to see Toy Story 4, (ok so was I!) so I wanted to take them to see it in theater during our visit. We invited some other cousins along, and we all took up an entire row! We all loved the movie, but my favorite part was hearing Brax belly laughing with every scene that had their new favorite “Forky!”

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The next day, all the cousins made their own version of Forky. Then Kinsie wanted to take it a step further and make more characters. This project continued for days and expanded more and more until she had drawn every single character from the movie! Her final project was quite impressive, and now she wants to display it in the play room at home!

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Cousin Sleepovers

The kids favorite part of visiting is always cousin time. They had several sleepovers, including Kinsie sleeping over at their house one night. Their time together is always fun and eventful!

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Pool Days

We always love spending time at Yaya’s pool while we’re in town. On our pool days, Kinsie transformed into a mermaid and did not get out of the pool unless forced to eat or go to the bathroom. There were a few days where she swam from 10am to 7pm! Brax made tons of progress from wanting someone to always hold him, to swimming around independently.

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The kids’ happiest of happy places…ALL their cousins in the pool with them!

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Even when we weren’t IN the pool, we still loved spending time out by the pool. When Brax needed breaks from swimming, he brought puzzles out and did them poolside. We also enjoyed several meals on the terrace.

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The kids had SO much fun together in the pool. They played for hours and hours, and they all get along so well. And we just love watching them have fun together.

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Other Outside Fun

The second week of our visit had beautiful weather. We spent as much time as we could outside. When we weren’t by the pool or lake, we enjoyed swinging and water table fun at Megan’s, or riding on the lawn mower with Papa!

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Lake Days

We spent a good chunk of time at the lake during our visit…which is one of my favorite places to be. We went for a few random trips during the week, and then spent the weekends there as well. During the week was the best time to relax and go fishing since there weren’t many people there. The kids enjoyed fishing for about 3 minutes, then moved on to other things. In that short time though, they did catch a fish or two! While the kids played, I fished longer with Ryan’s dad. Between the two of us, we caught lots of blue gill. I hadn’t fished in far too long so it was great to get to do it again!

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We spent our entire weekends at the lake as well. Lots of Ryan’s relatives came during that time, so we enjoyed visiting with family. All the kids LOVED swimming in the lake. Brax particular loved swimming with Uncle Nate, and Kinsie and the older cousins loved jumping off the dock and playing on the giant mat.

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More lake fun included boat rides, water balloon fights with cousins, and water table fun for the littles. And of course we had to snap this photo of Papa Tim with his 3 faves in his Heritage Lake shirt!

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Fireworks at the Lake

This is one of our favorite days of the year, and somehow we have managed to make it the last 2 years. Lots of family and friends came for the day so of course there was lots of people, fun and food. The kids spent most of the day swimming in the lake, and then the night consisted of the official fireworks put on by the lake. The kids got all decked out in glow necklaces and bracelets and stayed up late for the fireworks. We loved the fireworks, but my little guy fell asleep in the middle of them! It is very rare for either of my kids to accidentally fall asleep. He clearly was so exhausted from a long week of playing and swimming!

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Home Again Home Again, Jiggity Jig

After a very busy and fun 2 weeks, we were sad to leave family, but very ready to head home and see Ryan. The kids were SO happy to see him and spent the next 24 hours playing games with him, telling him all about our trip, and of course, climbing all over him! It was so good to be together as a family again!

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And that wraps up our month! We are looking forward to just being home in the month of July and enjoying summer before the kids start school. I still can’t believe that Kinsie starts KINDERGARTEN at the beginning of August! In the mean time, pray that we survive the intense Arkansas summer heat!

Here is our June 1 Second Every video. Enjoy!

 

April Sunshine

We had a lot going on in April! We had a lot of fun experiences, stayed busy, and had an awesome visit from family. While April is usually filled with lots of rain, (which we still had plenty of), we had tons of beautiful sunshine as well. Like I’ve said before, spring weather here is Arkansas is on point. We probably spent more time outside this month than we did inside. Any chance we got, we spent it outside. This was good for all of our souls, and we soaked in every minute of it. Here is a recap of our April.

Brax’s First Movie Theater Experience

One of Braxs’s favorite Disney movies is Dumbo, so as soon as we knew that they were making a live-action version, we wanted to see it right away. We don’t go to the movies often…it has to be something we really want to see for us to go. Since our boy loves Dumbo, we figured this would be a great opportunity for his first time at the movie theater. The movie was wonderful, and the kids did great! Brax spent most of his time eating popcorn, and climbing all over me asking when the movie would be over…but once it actually was, he kept saying he wanted to see it again!

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A Ballerina Birthday Party

Kinsie was invited to another friend from school’s birthday parties. This time, Daddy was able to stay home with Brax, so I got to have a little girl time with Kinsie. This party was a ballerina themed party, with a guest visit from the Sugar Plum Fairy. Kinsie was a little starstruck, but loved spending time with her friends and getting her face painted.

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No More Pacifier…and No More Naps

Last August, we took Brax’s pacifier away and let’s just say, it was a complete disaster. We gave up and decided to try again later. The time had come again when I knew we just had to suck it up and do it. We prepared him for weeks, telling him he’s a big boy now, and big boys don’t need pacifiers. We told him that his baby cousin was coming to visit soon and he needed to give his pacifier to Griffin. Luckily, this time around, things went much better! He still had a couple of rough nights falling asleep, and a few very early mornings, but overall, he’s done great! This was a huge hurdle for us considering he was very attached to his paci at night.

Ever since we got rid of his pacifier, naps have gone out the window. Each time I tried, he wanted nothing to do with it. I knew this might happen, so at least I was somewhat mentally prepared. Back to the minor setbacks he’s had with this big change, one morning he woke up at 5am and refused to go back to sleep. The next day, I made him go to his bed for a nap. Again, he wanted nothing to do with it and fought and screamed. I just left him in there, and eventually we noticed on the monitor that he was sitting up, but not moving. That little stinker was stubborn, but exhausted. He fell asleep sitting up in his bed! I still laugh when I look at the picture below on the right. Sorry buddy…Mama won this battle!

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T-ball is in Full Swing

We are in the midst of t-ball season, and it is keeping us busy. Kinsie still loves it, and Brax loves going to watch her. She even had a special visitor come to one of her games. Even though Megan and Griffin were only able to make it for the last inning due to a diaper blowout, Kinsie was excited that they got to see her bat.

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Give us ALL the Outside Time!

Even though I miss it, one plus side to Brax not napping anymore is that we don’t really have as much of a schedule on when to be back home or back inside…so we’ve been spending all day every day outside.

We like to change it up between the front yard, backyard, and the park. Even when we stay home, they always come up with creative ways to play, like having picnics, or making “stew” out of leaves and grass. They especially love finding critters, like ladybugs and slugs. They also love washing my car!

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We have spent lots and lots of time at the park by our house. It really is a win win…I get some exercise by pulling them in the wagon to the park, and they have lots of fun once we get there!

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Lucky little Brax gets even more park time since Kinsie goes to school 5 days a week. We go to the park any day that we can. We’ve even had a few picnic lunches at the park.

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Lately, the kids are really having a hard time getting along. They are always fighting about something, or just trying to get under each other’s skin. Everything changes when we go to the park though. Somehow, they magically get along and are each other’s best friends. Maybe this is why I don’t mind spending so much time there either!

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One Saturday, Ryan had to work a 12 hour shift, and it was a beautiful day, so we packed a picnic and headed to the park. We spent hours there. After our lunch, we played on the playground and had a nature scavenger hunt.

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The kids loved finding pine cones, sticks, and flowers on their scavenger hunt.

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Later after dinner, we heard the ice cream truck outside. By the time we got outside, it was driving around the corner, so the kids and I hopped in the car and chased it down! We got it at its next stop and the kids loved it! It was a great way to end our day. This honestly was one of my favorite days I’ve had with the kids in a long time.

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Cousin Love

We haven’t seen Megan, Tim, and Griffin since Christmas, and we were so excited that they agreed to come spend the week with us for Easter. Megan and Griffin flew in, then Tim drove here a few days later. The kids were in heaven. They ADORE their baby cousin. They spent most of their time on the floor swooning over him. Griffin stayed very entertained while he was here!

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We did various activities while they were here. We took several walks around the lake, and Griffin either enjoyed the view or snoozed.

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We walked on the Big Dam Bridge. The kids were being goofballs the entire time, so again, Griffin stayed entertained.

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We even got to take Griffin on his very first zoo trip. It turned out to be a much colder day than we expected, but the kids still loved showing him their favorite animals and attractions at the zoo.

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We also took them to hike Pinnacle Mountain with us. Griffin was a trooper and seemed very content throughout the hike. Kinsie took twice as long as usual because she wanted to touch and explore every leaf, acorn, and stick along the way. Brax split his time between being a good little hiker and riding on Daddy’s shoulders, or being an absolute terror and refusing to go anywhere. But hey, that’s life with a toddler.

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The view from the top of Pinnacle Mountain never gets old!

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Easter Activities

We like to do lots of different crafts and activities to celebrate Easter. I always try really hard each year to still have fun with egg hunts and such, but making sure the kids know the real importance of Easter.

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Dying Easter Eggs

The kids loved having Griffin watch them dye their Easter eggs this year. Griffin even got a little too excited and knocked over the bowl of yellow dye. The kids got a kick out of it and decided that his favorite color is yellow. Kinsie decorated all her eggs like unicorns of course, and Brax just put as many dinosaur stickers on each egg as he possibly could fit.

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Easter Cookies

Making cookies is another tradition that I started since we moved here, since Aunt Renata always made cookies with them before. She even still sends us supplies in the mail to make cookies each holiday! The kids, Megan and I enjoyed decorating bunny, egg, and flower cookies…and Griffin just loved watching the madness!

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Church Easter Egg Hunt

Our church has a big Easter egg hunt the Saturday before Easter, and the kids had a blast at it last year, so we knew we wanted to go again this year. They split it up by age group, which is perfect so kids don’t get overwhelmed or intimidated. It was a beautiful day and the kids had a great time finding eggs and learning more about Jesus.

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Easter Morning

All the kids woke up to a full Easter basket and enjoyed their treats from the Easter bunny. Then we all went to church for an Easter service.

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After church, we made brunch and then had another egg hunt for the kids. Kinsie hopped the entire time, Brax screamed happily, and Griffin chilled. What a trio!

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We LOVED our time with the Mosier family, and we were so thankful that they made the trip to spend Easter with us. Holidays can be really tough being away from home, especially when we can’t always make the trip to be with everyone, so it means the world when family comes to us.

Another month down, and now May is upon us. My baby is about to be three in a few days, and I can’t even deal! We are excited for May, and hoping we can survive another hot Arkansas summer!

Here is our 1 Second Every Day video for April. Enjoy!

All the Love in Arizona

I went to Arizona about 9 years ago with my parents for baseball spring training when I was in college. It is such an amazing and unique place. I love the mountains, the cacti, and the climate. My family goes every year, and it never worked out for us to go before, until this year. We love when Ryan gets time off from work, and spending it in a beautiful place like Arizona is even better!

The kids have become good little travelers. They are used to driving 10+ hours in the car, so flying with them really isn’t a problem. The hardest part is all the extra luggage…suitcases, a pack-n-play, car seats, etc. Luckily, they enjoy helping as much as they can! We made it there in one piece, and it took some time to adjust to the 2 hour time difference, but we were excited for some fun adventures.

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Day 1 – Chicago White Sox Spring Training Game

Baseball spring training is how the yearly Arizona tradition all began. My mom loves her Chicago White Sox, so my parents would always try to come out to see them play. This was the first time that all of us got to come, and that we had all 5 of the cousins together with Yaya in her happiest happy place! To be honest, my kids didn’t pay attention at all to the game. They were more interested in the hot dogs, popcorn and churros. But nonetheless, they had fun with the snacks and their cousins!

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Day 2 – Pinnacle Peak

Pinnacle Peak was a great starter hike. It was kid-friendly and we just got to take our time and enjoy the scenery. We loved seeing mountains in every direction, and the kids especially loved looking for critters!

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Day 3 – Lookout Mountain

The next day, we took just the big kids on a harder hike. They’ve all hiked Pinnacle Mountain in Little Rock before, so we knew what they were capable of. We chose Lookout Mountain, which was perfect. It was definitely tougher for them, but they pushed through and made it to the top. They were very proud of themselves and enjoyed the beautiful view!

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Day 4 – Piestewa Peak

This was the “adult hike.” We knew we wanted to do a more strenuous hike, so Grandma Bev and Yaya watched the fab 5 while we hiked up Piestewa Peak. It was definitely a tough hike, but it was amazing. All of us are pretty physically fit, so this hike was perfect for us. We got an amazing workout in, closed our Activity rings on our Apple Watches before noon, and saw some beautiful views!

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Later that evening, we drove to Arizona State University to walk around campus and eat dinner. The highlight for the kids, however, was the rainbow chair!

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Day 5 – Out of Africa Wildlife Park

This was probably our favorite day of the week. Almost everywhere we travel, we like to try out the different zoos. My aunt recommended this particular wildlife park to us, which was like a zoo, but much more interactive. It was an incredible place with wonderful experiences!

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The park had multiple shows throughout the day, including 2 different tiger shows, and a giant snake show. All 5 of the kids were brave enough to pet the snake!

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The tigers were a major hit. The trainers at this park are unbelievably close to animals, and love them like their own pets. They run around inside to fences with them, play with them, and hug them. We enjoyed watching the tigers swim in the pool, play games, and we even got to feed them!

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Most of the adults and the bigger 3 kids got to ride on the “SuperMog,” which was basically a safari to get up close with the animals and feed many of them. Kibo, the giraffe was our favorite! We all got to feed him, and my crazy husband fed him from his own mouth! Luckily, the babies didn’t miss out too much. We walked around the park later and got to feed Kibo again. We made a new best friend!

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Our day at this park was something we’ll never forget, and we will definitely want to experience it again someday!

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Day 6 – Camelback Mountain

This was another somewhat leisurely hike that we did as a whole crew. The higher you went up, the harder it got, so everyone could go as far as they wanted and then turn back. Brax was going on 6 days of much less sleep than usual (thanks to the time change and few naps), so he was a bit “off” that day if I want to put it nicely. Luckily, we had quite a bit of backup to help us handle his meltdowns, so we were still able to somewhat enjoy our last hike!

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Day 7 – Outlet Mall and Hole in the Rock

Our last day in Arizona, we spent some time at the outlet mall because…why not? This particular outlet mall had a small train that traveled around the mall. All 5 kids hopped in the caboose and had a blast!

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Before we headed to the airport, we got in one last mini-hike up to the Hole in the Rock. It was a neat little area where the kids could climb around inside a rock. It was a great way to end our trip.

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Every day is a pool day!

After our hikes and adventures almost every day, we ended up back at the pool at our resort. This was probably the kids’ favorite part of the trip (except for maybe feeding the giraffes!) They had some fun water slides, and a great kids’ area. The kids were so easy to entertain out there and they loved every minute of it!

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What an amazing trip with such amazing memories. We are especially lucky that we had parts of both of our families there with us. Spending time with family is always good for our souls, and this was even more so being in such a beautiful place. We loved our time in Arizona, and we can’t wait for another visit!