The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We had a very busy and exciting December! Our month was filled with Christmas fun, family, cold weather, watching movies, and new toys. We were lucky to get to spend about 10 days in our hometown in Indiana with our family, and we came home packed like sardines with all of the kids’ new toys! Here were the highlights of our December.

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Kinsie’s Christmas Program

Kinsie was so excited about her music program at school. Whenever I would ask her what songs they were going to sing, she would say, “It’s a surprise! You’ll have to wait and see!” The funny thing is, they sang Rudolph, Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells…nothing super unique, but she was so proud! She was a rockstar and was one of the few kids in the group who followed directions the whole time and did all the motions. Ryan was on night shifts during this time, so he came home from work around 8am, went to sleep for a few hours, woke up to come to the program at 11, then went back to sleep when it was over. Kinsie was so happy that we were all able to come see her program. Brax was the proudest little brother ever and showed her with lots of hugs afterwards!

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Meeting Santa

Kinsie always loves meeting Santa, and Brax was a champ meeting him last year…mainly because he was too young to really understand that a strange man with a white beard was holding him instead of his mom, but this year he was very aware! I knew he probably wouldn’t be feeling it…even though the whole way there he acted excited and continued to shout “Ho Ho Ho!” whenever we talked about Santa. Once we were near him, nope! He wouldn’t leave my side. Kinsie did great and told Santa what she wanted for Christmas. Since Brax wouldn’t sit with Santa, we had to get the whole family in the picture because I was not going to be that mom that pays $25 for a picture of my child screaming with Santa!

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We couldn’t go see Santa without Kinsie’s princess crown!

EM Christmas Party

One of the things that attracted Ryan to the UAMS Emergency Department was how family oriented they are. They include families in all of their get-togethers, and obviously family is Ryan’s priority. Every year at the Emergency Department Christmas party, the department head’s wife buys all of the residents’ kids Christmas presents…and not the cheap junky toys, but really good toys. Santa even came to the party to deliver the presents. Again, Kinsie loved meeting Santa, even though she said that he looked different than the Santa she met at the mall, so he must just be one of Santa’s helpers. And again, Brax wanted nothing to do with Santa! (as seen in the picture below). Kinsie got an Elsa doll (her fave) and a really nice play kitchen appliance set. Brax got a set of cars and balls, and a construction truck that came with a hard hat and mega blocks. The kids were PUMPED about their gifts…and Brax wanted it all opened right away and was not happy that he couldn’t open it himself (again, as seen in the picture below). We had a great night with friends, food, Santa and gifts!

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Home for the Holidays and Cousin Fun

We were so lucky that we were all able to go home to Indiana to spend Christmas with our families. Even though it was VERY cold, we were so grateful to be surrounded by the people we love most.

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Like most visits home, the kids’ favorite part was definitely all the special cousin time! They played at an indoor playground together, had a few sleepovers, decorated cookies, and spent countless hours drawing, doing puzzles, playing with princesses and dressing up together. The bond between these five kids is something so special, and even living 500+miles away from each other doesn’t change that!

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Multiple Christmases

The few days surrounding Christmas are always super busy, but we love it. We always have several places to be and families to see. The kids function best when they are staying busy and are surrounded by a lot of people, especially now that we live away from all of these people. We started with Ryan’s immediate family gift exchange, then went to Aunt Renata’s after church on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts with Ryan’s dad side, then spent Christmas morning with my family, then finally went to another one of Ryan’s aunt’s house to spend time with Ryan’s mom side. Lots of places to be, but we loved every minute of it. The kids got SO many gifts and saw lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins, so they were happy!

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Christmas Morning

Santa was informed ahead of time that we wouldn’t be in our home in Little Rock for Christmas, but would be at my parents’ house, so we brought along our stockings and Santa made all his deliveries there. Kinsie was in princess heaven, and even though Brax didn’t feel great, he loved all of his cars, Batman, Mickey and fish toys. My parents loved having little kids for Christmas morning again too. After a while, my sister’s family came over so we could all exchange gifts. At every family Christmas we went to, Kinsie especially loved sorting and passing out all the gifts to everyone (she’s in the beginning stages of reading, I can barely believe it!) The kids spent hours opening and playing with all their new toys together.

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New Year’s Eve

We had to head back to Little Rock before New Year’s for Ryan to get back to work, but luckily he is on day shifts so he was able to be with us for New Year’s fun in the evening. We had a little party with karaoke, dancing, balloons, noise makers, Apples to Apples, Guess Who, and sparkling cider. We even had a countdown before the kids’ bedtime. Last year, Kinsie stayed up until midnight at my sister’s house with her cousins, but I knew since she didn’t have anyone other than us to entertain her for an extra 4 hours, we just did an early countdown and then both kids went to bed. We had a great family night together.

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In my last post, I mentioned how Ryan’s grandma was sick and in hospice care. At the time, she was given 2 weeks to live. We visited with her several time while home for Thanksgiving, but we were blessed to get to visit with her again while home for Christmas. We spent the morning with her the day after Christmas, and she loved talking with us and watching the kids play. A few days later, she took a turn for the worse, and just the other day, seven weeks after she was given only two weeks to live, she finally went home to heaven. While this is so hard for her 8 children, 20 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and the many other people who had the pleasure of knowing and loving her, she was ready for a long time to be with the Lord. She was such an amazing woman, and I still give her credit for helping Ryan and I find our way back to each other 8 years ago. I feel honored to call her family.

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We had a wonderful December, and we are so blessed that Ryan was able to get off work for a week to join us for Christmas. I know how much it meant to him to be home with us for Christmas, and especially to get to see his grandma one more time. Christmas is extra magical when you have children, so we all look forward to it every year. I love teaching the kids about Jesus and how he is the reason we give and receive gifts for Christmas. Every year, Kinsie understands this concept a little more, and this year in school she learned even more about the Christmas story. She loved reading stories about Baby Jesus’s birth in the manger, and playing the story out with her Fisher Price manger set. Brax is obviously just learning to talk and understand things, so we taught him to recognize Baby Jesus. It sounded more like “Baby Cheese,” but we knew what he meant!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my friends and family!

A November to Remember

Where did November go? I feel like it flew by! We have been having beautiful weather here in Arkansas, so it doesn’t even feel like it’s getting close to winter yet (sorry to rub it in your faces Indiana friends!) This month we enjoyed a visit from some family, lots of Thanksgiving festivities, and preparing for Christmas! Enjoy our November recap!

Grandparent’s Day

As SOON as I knew when Kinsie’s school had Grandparents Day, I let both sets of our parents know and hoped that at least one of them could plan a trip to make it. I really didn’t want Kinsie to be the only one in her class who didn’t have a grandparent there. It worked out for Ryan’s mom and aunt to make a trip to see us for a few days. Aunt Renata is practically a grandma to the kids, so she willingly stepped in. We always love having visitors at our home, and Kinsie loved having them visit her school.

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Decorating for Christmas

Decorating for Christmas always makes us so happy! The kids LOVE all the decorations, lights, and ornaments. Before you judge me too harshly for decorating before Thanksgiving, hear me out on our reasoning. 1) We would be headed to Indiana for Thanksgiving and wouldn’t have been able to decorate until December, 2) Our days with Ryan available are few and far between, and putting up the Christmas tree is a family tradition. We had to take advantage of one of his few days off, 3) We will be spending Christmas in Indiana, and I wanted us all to enjoy our decorations and tree for a worthy amount of time. It made us happy and we always make it a priority to remember the reason for the season, so why not, right?

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We did at least wait to put our outside lights up until after Thanksgiving. Kinsie loved going up in the attic with Daddy. Brax wanted to as well, but that obviously wasn’t happening! We’ve had beautiful weather lately, so the kids enjoyed playing outside and eating popsicles while we put the decorations up.

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My Birthday

We drove to Indiana the evening before my birthday, and I was so glad I got to spend my birthday with all the people I love. We left later in the afternoon, so we were still driving when midnight struck. Of course my sweet mom set her alarm for midnight so she could wish me a happy birthday! I got to spend that evening with my whole family eating chilli and ice cream cake. Birthdays can’t get much better than that! And of course, I had to get a picture with my birthday buddy, my niece Kerigan (her birthday is the day after mine).

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My sister’s birthday present to me was a “sister date” at Board and Brush. We got in touch with our artistic sides and had a great time!birthdaypresent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerigan’s Birthday

Like I said, my niece Kerigan’s birthday is the day after mine, so we’ve always been birthday buddies. Everyone else takes advantage of double birthday cakes! On the night of her birthday, we all went to Kid’s Planet. The kids all loved it!

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A couple days later was Kerigan’s party. She had a princess party, which is right up Kinsie’s alley right now too. Rapunzel (Kinsie and Kerigan’s favorite Disney princess) made a surprise visit and read them a story, danced with them, and spent most of the afternoon talking to all the kids. They loved it! Even though Brax isn’t into princesses, he had fun running amok too!

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Thanksgiving

Before we left Arkansas, Kinsie had a Thanksgiving feast at school. Luckily, we were all able to attend. The kids came out, sang a song, said a prayer, and then joined their families for lunch. Kinsie was a rockstar during the song and followed directions so well. My FAVORITE part, however, was as soon as Kinsie’s class came out, Brax ran up to her and pointed to her and said “Kinsie!!” He was SO excited to see her, even though he had seen her earlier that morning at home. Then once she was done with her presentation and she came to eat with us, they hugged like they hadn’t seen either other in days. They have such a special relationship!

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We spent actual Thanksgiving day with family in Indiana. We started our morning visiting Ryan’s grandma, then we went to Megan’s house for Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan’s dad’s side of the family, then we went to Ryan’s aunt Rita’s house to celebrate with Ryan’s mom’s side, then finally ended up back at my parents to celebrate with my family. It was a LONG day, but we felt so blessed to have so many places to be and so many people to celebrate with.

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Cousin Time

Anytime we visit, the kids’ main request is lots and lots of cousin time! They are all so close and all have a blast together. It doesn’t matter whether they are wrestling on the floor, jumping rope in the garage, coloring, or pushing each other in a laundry basket…they always have fun as long as they’re together!

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Visiting Grandma Graves

Ryan’s grandma has recently been placed on hospice care. While this is extremely difficult for the family, she is very at peace about it and ready to join Jesus in her heavenly home. We were SO lucky to get to visit her several times while we were in town. I say we are so lucky, because Ryan originally didn’t think he’d be able to even make this trip home. However, the week of Thanksgiving happened to be in between two of his rotations, and he was able to schedule all his shifts earlier in the month so that he was able to have a week off. He managed to do this before Grandma Graves declined. It was such a blessing that he had the time off so he could visit with his grandma before she goes home. We loved our visits with her. She loved talking with us, sharing her funny stories, and watching the kids play. She is a gem of a woman…as faithful as they come. She has had several articles published, but my favorite one included this nugget of wisdom, “I’ve never had any money but still I’m richer than the richest because I’ve been blessed with many children and grandchildren.” She is such an amazing woman and she will always inspire me.

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That just about sums up our month. We ended our month with sickness…lots and lots of it. Kinsie started with a bad cold, then Brax got a stomach bug, then I got the stomach bug, then I got the cold, then Brax got the cold, then Kinsie got the stomach bug. Fun times. Not to mention, my mom and my nieces and nephew all got sick too. It has been a very long and exhausting week, and we are so ready to all be completely healthy and back to normal. December will hopefully be filled with lots of Christmas activities and family time. The kids are already anxious for Santa sightings, Christmas lights, and more cousin time!

Sun Rays and Disney Days

We were so grateful to get to go on a vacation to Florida this month! Ryan gets 3 weeks of vacation throughout his first year, so we coordinated it with my family’s vacation to one of our favorite places, Siesta Key, Florida. With the way our week worked out, we also got to visit Disney World for 3 days…another one of our favorites! Originally with Ryan’s schedule, he would get to go to Siesta with us, but not Disney. After he pulled some strings at work, he found a way to go with us for the entire trip, and we were all SO grateful. We all needed that quality Daddy time! Here are the highlights from our trip.

PART I: Siesta Key

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The Beach

We came here last December, and Kinsie was a little beach baby. She was obsessed! Brax wasn’t even mobile yet, so he spent most of his time in the tent. This time, we had two beach babies! Brax wasn’t a huge fan of the ocean (the waves scared him), but he loved playing in the sand. All the kids loved chasing birds, getting buried in the sand as different animals and characters, and building sand castles and animals. The older kids loved the ocean until we realized how many jellyfish were in the area. Both Kinsie and her cousin Briggs got stung by jellyfish…but luckily nothing too severe. After that, they were all a little skeptical about getting in the water…and they called themselves the “jellyfish cousins.”

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The Pool

All five of the cousins are little water bugs. We spent a few days by the pool, and ALL the kids were having fun. Brax wanted to jump in over and over again…he honestly didn’t even care if he went under water. I’m also pretty sure that being in the pool with her cousins is one of Kinsie’s happiest happy places!

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The Boat Ride

We rented a boat while in Siesta Key, and it was such a fun and crazy day! We ate cinnamon rolls, got splashed by large waves, saw dolphins and manatees, got stuck on a sandbar, got lost, and had lunch at a restaurant on the water. We all loved every part of the crazy adventure…especially the dolphins!

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Lots of Much-Needed Family Time

I know, this is vague, and cheesy…but it’s true. Now that we live apart, time with family is so special. Especially with the kids…they all love each other so much and they are just giddy when they are all together. All of the kids have a special relationship and it is so fun watching them grow up together. And like I mentioned earlier, it was so nice having a full week of Ryan. The kids were all about Daddy all week!

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PART II: Disney World

Magic Kingdom

We spent the last 3 days of our trip at Disney World…and it was as magical as ever! It was SUPER crowded…more than I remember it ever being, but we still made the best of it and had a great time. The characters have always been Kinsie’s favorite part, and she still loved them, but oh my sweet Brax…he adored the characters! It melted my heart to see him stare in the face of Mickey Mouse in complete awe and give each character hug after hug. His reaction to seeing Mickey in the parade was priceless! Some of our other favorites of the day were Small World, the parade, the fireworks, and the Haunted Mansion ride. Kinsie talked about this ride ALL day, but the line was always too long. Finally after the fireworks, the line was down so we went. Kinsie fell asleep on Ryan’s shoulders on the way there, so we just let her sleep while we waited in line. We woke her up before we got on the ride and she LOVED it. She is still talking about it every day. It was a long but wonderful day!

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Animal Kingdom

This is another one of our favorite parks in Disney, and we really wanted to see all the new Avatar stuff (it was AMAZING by the way). It was ridiculously hot this day…like sticky, heavy, hard to breathe hot. But we powered through it and still enjoyed our day. We loved the safari, the characters, the Avatar ride, and the evening lights show on the water. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was worth it.

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Chef Mickey’s

My parents surprised the kids with tickets to Chef Mickey’s. I was probably just as excited as the kids to experience this! We went to a restaurant where Mickey and the gang danced around and came around to visit with everyone. The kids loved it and the food was on point!

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Disney Springs

We spent our last evening just walking around Disney Springs. The only other time I remember coming here, we were only there for a few minutes so we didn’t really get to enjoy it. It was so nice to just take our time and enjoy everything there was to see. We especially loved the Lego store and the T-Rex Cafe. We didn’t even eat there, we just walked around and played in the dino digging area!

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We had such a great trip and loved spending time with family, but we were also ready to be home. After lots of crowds, traffic and congestion, we were ready to be back in our quiet town. Our flights to and from Florida were both very eventful…we BARELY made it onto our flight on the way there…but after cutting everyone in the security line and sprinting to our gate, we made it. On the way back, we were on different flights from Orlando to Atlanta, but on the same flight from Atlanta to Little Rock. Ryan took Brax and I had Kinsie. Ryan’s flight was running a little later than scheduled, so as he got to the gate of the second flight, they were shutting the door and wouldn’t let him in. As he argued with the lady at the gate, I was talking to the captain and trying to see if he could get him on the plane. He was trying really hard to help us because he knew we were a family and we just wanted to get home. If they weren’t going to let him on, Kinsie and I were going to get off and we could all find a new flight together…although I really didn’t want to do that since the kids were exhausted and Kinsie had school the next day. The captain called the official Delta people and it was a long ordeal, but they FINALLY let him on. As he and Brax got on the plane, everyone applauded! Later when we got off the plane in Little Rock, everyone who passed by us said they were happy for us! It was a crazy experience, and we were SO happy to be home!

Back Home Again in Indiana

Soon after we moved here, I planned a trip home to Indiana for 2 weeks in September. I knew that Ryan would be on a rotation where we’d barely see him, and I wanted Kinsie to have a special birthday and spend it with family. The plan was for me and the kids to fly to Indy, then later Ryan would drive up for a few days, then we would all drive back together. As it got closer, we realized that Ryan could barely make it work to come at all. He was only able to come to Indy for about 24 hours. We really missed him, but we had a wonderful trip!

The Flight

I was nervous about flying with both kids from the moment I booked the tickets. I planned out everything weeks ahead of time, trying to make the process as smooth as possible. I had movies and TV shows on the iPad, snacks, toys, books…you name it. Luckily, the Little Rock airport is small and never crowded, so checking in and security were a breeze. Once we were on the plane, the kids were happy watching Paw Patrol. (This could keep them occupied for hours at home if I allowed it). After about 20 minutes, Brax was done. He didn’t want to sit on my lap, (which he had to, he isn’t old enough to need a seat of his own), he didn’t want to watch a show, he didn’t want to read books, and even snacks weren’t keeping him happy. I wrestled him most of the flight. Then once the descent started, he was REALLY done. He was screaming and thrashing. Kinsie and I were both trying to make him happy, but he was DONE with this flight. I prayed that the next flight would be better…yes, two flights…unfortunately there’s no direct flights from Little Rock to Indianapolis. Switching planes was quick and easy. I think it was an act of God that on the next flight, there was an empty seat next to me. Brax was happier when he had more to squirm around. That flight went MUCH smoother!

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When we got to the Indianapolis airport, we had some special guests awaiting our arrival! My mom, my sister and her whole family was waiting for us, and we all embraced and cried. The kids were all SO happy to see each other, and we were so happy to have made it!

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Cousin Time 

The kids had some awesome times together during the 2 weeks. The night we came in, Ryan’s aunt had a get-together at her house to welcome us home. The kids had a blast with each other driving around in all the different vehicles. One day, Kinsie got to go have lunch with her cousin Briggs at his elementary school. We also got to go swimming, watch Briggs’ football game, and just hang out at my parents’ house playing. It didn’t matter what they were doing, if they were with their cousins, they were happy!

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Kinsie’s Birthday

Kinsie had a very special birthday. I let her decide what she wanted to do, but it was really hot outside so we were somewhat limited. When she woke up, I took her and Brax to get birthday donuts at Dunkin Donuts. Later, my mom watched Brax so I could take Kinsie to lunch. She chose to go to Cheddar’s because she loves their huge fish tank. After lunch, I took her to Half Priced Books, which she loved. It was SO nice having some time with just her. I love my boy Brax, but he had been super needy lately and Kinsie had to fend for herself for quite some time because Brax was constantly needing me, so it was nice to get to focus on her. Later in the evening, our family all came over to have a small party for her. She loved her Paw Patrol presents and her ice cream cake. We did FaceTime with Ryan so he could be a part of the fun. He even found a way to be in the birthday picture!

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Visit to Purdue

Ryan’s brother Nate started his freshman year at Purdue in August. We wanted to visit him at school during our visit, even if it was at Purdue! We got to see his dorm (which was covered in pictures of Kinsie and Brax), walked around campus a little and had lunch. It was a great day and it was so good to see our Nate! I am still so blown away by how much Kinsie looks and acts like him when he was that age. Maybe that’s why they have such a special bond!

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Dress-up Parties

Kinsie spent some time with Aunt Renata during our visit, and Renata had lots of costumes in her basement that Kinsie wanted to try on, and it started a trend for the rest of the trip. She became obsessed with dressing up! Her favorite costume was the Buzz Lightyear costume…she spent a lot of time in it and even had her cousins wearing it too!

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Haircuts

I took the kids to Ryan’s cousin Jess to get their haircuts. Kinsie did great and loved getting her hair washed, cut and braided. Brax was a different story! We had to find some creative ways to get him to sit still. He had suckers, sat on my lap, watched Mickey Mouse on my phone, and Jess had to chase him around the salon to get the job done! It was quite an adventure that left me sweating and exhausted, but the kids looked great with their new haircuts!

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Lake Time

We spent a few days at our favorite place, Heritage Lake. We did lots of cubby rides, sidewalk chalk, took several boat rides, went fishing, and played at the playground at the marina.

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Ryan finally was able to drive up to Indiana with the dogs on Saturday, we were SO excited to see him after not seeing him for 2 weeks!

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Paw Patrol Party

We ended our trip with a birthday party for Kinsie at the lake. Ryan was able to make it for the party, so at least he could be a part of one of the birthday celebrations. We had a family party with a Paw Patrol theme, and like usual, our families were a huge help in making the party successful!

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The kids all had a great time with the piñata! Kinsie of course also loved opening her presents and the other kids loved watching and playing with all her new toys.

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We took the kids on a boat ride, and to say it was chaotic would be an understatement! The kids weren’t bad or misbehaving at all…just excited and hyper. I don’t think there were any free adult hands at any point during the ride. The kids all took turns driving the boat, and running from one side to another, trying on as many life jackets as they could, and just being goofballs together.

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We loved having Daddy in the flesh for this birthday celebration! Notice the lovely birthday banner in the background…thanks to Aunt Megan! Also the weather couldn’t have been more perfect!

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We left that evening around 6:30pm, and got home around 3am. Ryan had to be somewhere for work at 8am the next day, so we took turns driving and resting. The kids did pretty well, sleeping most of the way. We spent the whole next day recovering from the drive, relaxing at home and playing with all of Kinsie’s new presents. It was a fantastic trip. We all really needed this time at home with our families, and we left with our love tanks full!

November Adventures

The fall months always keep us busy! There is always a lot going on with birthdays, holidays and fall activities. Here were the highlights of our month:

Trip to Florida

Ryan is in the midst of residency interview season, so he is raveling around the country interviewing for different Emergency Medicine residency programs. When he got an interview with the University of Florida program in Gainesville, I volunteered to go with him without hesitation! At first we were planning on bringing the kids, but we decided to leave them with our parents and take a trip just the two of us. We hadn’t done this since our Honeymoon, so it was much needed! Since we were going to be in Florida for a few days, we also took the opportunity to visit a place that was on our Bucket List…Harry Potter World in Universal Studios. Ryan and I are both Harry Potter nerds and we have been dying to visit there. It was AMAZING. We spent 2 days there and loved every minute of it. We walked through Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, ate at the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron, bought the Elder Wand, rode the Hogwarts Express, drank butterbeer and much more Harry Potter fun! Our other favorite area of Universal Studios was Jurassic Park. We spent a lot of time in the gift shop buying dinosaur souvenirs for the kids! After two days in Orlando, we drove to Gainesville for the interview. We walked the campus, and hiked through some of the local parks. At a park called La Chua Trail, we saw at least 50 alligators! One of them was blocking the trail so we couldn’t go any further. We loved exploring the beautiful town of Gainesville and we had an amazing trip!

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Jurassic Quest

A month or so ago, Ryan’s cousin saw an ad for a show that was coming to the Indiana State Fairgrounds in November, called Jurassic Quest. She told us we should take Kinsie. We looked into it and decided to buy tickets. It was an awesome experience! We were in a huge warehouse and there were tons of life-size animatronic dinosaurs that moved and roared. Kinsie got to ride on a moving dinosaur, and then Brax joined her on a smaller non-moving dinosaur. There were also bounce houses, crafts, face-painting (which we didn’t do because there was a 2 hour wait!), and arcade games. Kinsie was in heaven! She told us that she never wanted to leave. Of course we eventually did, but both the kids got to bring home a stuffed dinosaur souvenir. They loved it!

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Thanksgiving

This year, my school system changed our calendar, and we had one week off for Fall Break in October, and the whole week of Thanksgiving off. I didn’t like it at first since I only had one week off after the first quarter of school, but I actually loved having Thanksgiving week off. Ryan had the week off too, so we were able to spend a lot of great family time together. Earlier in the week, we got to go to Kinsie’s preschool’s Thanksgiving feast. She made placemats for us in class that included what she was thankful for. It was a lot of fun! Thanksgiving Day itself is always a highlight of our fall because we get to spend the day with both of our families. During the day, we went to Ryan’s sister Megan’s house for Thanksgiving lunch. We got to spend a few hours there with Ryan’s family, and Kinsie always loves going there to run around with their dog, Ali. Later, we went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. The kids had a blast with their cousins and we had some great family time! Later that evening, Kinsie was having a slumber party with her cousins at my parents house, and my poor sweet girl got sick and we had to come and get her. We spent the next few days snuggling at home watching movies and she was feeling better within a few days. Our family tends to have bad luck with holidays…one of us is always sick on either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Fingers crossed that we all stay healthy this Christmas!

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Thanksgiving feast at Kinsie’s preschool

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Thanksgiving lunch at Megan and Tim’s

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All the cousins gathered around the cousin table for Thanksgiving dinner

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Polar Express

This year, we thought that the kids would really enjoy doing the Polar Express train ride. Ryan’s cousin’s kids are about Kinsie’s age and they love hanging out together, so we decided to get tickets for the same train as them. This was such an awesome experience! We all wore Christmas pajamas, rode on the train, drank hot cocoa, and ate cookies. We rode to the “North Pole” and picked up Santa Claus, who rode on the train ride back to the train station and visited with each kid. Kinsie had been talking about Santa SO much and couldn’t wait to see him, then once she did, she was so overwhelmed! She tried to hide behind me but I wouldn’t let her because I knew she wanted to see him. When he sat in the seat with us, she was super shy. (this was exactly how she was at Disney World last year when meeting the characters!) She told Santa what she wanted for Christmas, but very quietly! Of course afterwards, she couldn’t stop talking about how she met Santa! It was a lot of fun and a very neat experience.

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As you can see, it was a great month! Like most parents, we love nothing more than to see our kids happy, so we take them to dinosaur shows and wear ridiculous Rudolph pajamas. Since Ryan is traveling so much, we really do our best to savor our time together as a family and go out and do fun things. We have a lot planned for the month of December as well with a trip to Florida (this time with the kids), and lots of Christmas fun!

For a Special Two Year Old…

Today is my nephew Briggs’ second birthday. Words cannot explain how much joy this little boy has brought into my life. Since the day we found out about him, (which happened to be the day Ryan and I got engaged…talk about an unforgettable day!) he has been a part of my heart. He is such a smart, talkative, lovable and crazy kid who never fails to put a smile on my face. I have been able to witness every major milestone in his life so far and have loved every second of it. I can’t wait to continue watching him, along with his sister and his cousin, grow up together.

I am so grateful for the special relationship we have with this boy. When he first started talking, he couldn’t say his K sounds very well, so he ended up calling me “Gaga.” He also obviously couldn’t say his R sounds yet, so he calls Ryan “Bub,” which is what Ryan’s brother Nate has always called him. And of course, he LOVES his “Baby Kinsie!” He will dance around her, sing songs to her, and tell her that he loves her. Nothing makes my heart melt more!

Even though Ryan and I don’t know where life will take us once he is finished with med school, I hope that Kinsie can grow up with her cousins nearby. It is obvious that they already love each other so much. Briggs is such a special boy and I thank God every day for placing him in our lives!

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We love you to the moon and back, our sweet Briggs!

Love… Bub, Gaga, and Baby Kinsie

I have a NIECE!

My sister and I are three years apart, but we have always been close since the day I was born. The first time she met me, she was with our cousin, who claimed that I looked like Rudolph since my nose was red from just being born. Krista immediately came to my defense by saying, “She not Wuldolph, YOU Wudolph!” She has been my best friend and my #1 supporter from day one. My sister and I have experienced so much together…including our pregnancies! We had the wonderful opportunity of being pregnant at the same time, me just 2 months ahead of Krista. Pregnancy is such a special experience in and of itself, but sharing it with your sister makes it that much better!

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As I mentioned in my previous post, all I really wanted for my birthday was a new niece or nephew. My sister was due on November 19 and my birthday was November 16, so it was very possible for that to happen. However, my birthday came and went, and no baby. I felt so bad for my sister because I know the feeling of anxiety waiting for labor to strike at any moment. Each night we went to bed hopeful that we’d get a call in the middle of the night, and finally, at 3:45 a.m. on Sunday, November 17, my mom called. I was already awake because Kinsie was getting hungry. While we waited to hear if Krista really was in labor, I fed Kinsie and got us ready to go to the hospital, then I woke up Ryan and said “It’s time!” He was sleepy, but excited. My mom called again saying this was the real thing, but we can wait and sleep a little longer while Krista progressed. However, Krista asked me to take pictures of her labor and birth, and our family tends to go through labor pretty quickly, so we went ahead to the hospital around 5 a.m. When we got there, Ryan took a nap because he needed to study, and I hung out in the room and took pictures while Krista labored. It was unbelievable how quickly it all happened, and thank goodness because she went natural this time around. I couldn’t believe how well she handled herself during contractions, especially now that I know that kind of pain. It was very difficult watching my sister in so much pain during the delivery, but I knew that it would soon be worth it. At 9:05 a.m., the baby was born…a beautiful baby GIRL! I was overwhelmed with joy at that moment. My sister has a daughter. Our daughters would be cousins. And they would only be 2 months apart. What an amazing blessing! It was amazing to think that the whole time Krista was pregnant, she was pregnant with a girl. We both were. I can’t wait to see these two girls grow up together to be best friends. And we can’t forget about Briggy too!

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Kerigan Kay Robinson

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Briggs and his sister

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Kinsie and Kerigan love each other already!