Our August

We have had to put in quite an effort to keep these kids busy for their last month of summer before they start school. They are to the point where they are just over being home with me all the time. No offense taken…I’m over it too! They have been fighting more, and just extra sassy to me. They are definitely ready for a new environment, new friends, and a new authority figure! However…we have done the best we could at finding fun things to do. Every once in a while, we’ll have a few days where the weather isn’t melting us, so we’ll do something fun outside, but other than that, we mainly have to find indoor things to do. Here is a recap of our August.

Day Dates

Like I said, we’ve had to do our best at getting out of the house as much as possible. Whenever Ryan has a day off, we try to find a new fun place. This month, we discovered a few new places!

Discovery Museum-

We’ve known about this place for a long time, but finally got around to trying it out. Ryan is much more into science than I am, so I wanted him to get to come with us. We all had a great time! It’s no Indianapolis Children’s Museum, but it did the small city of Little Rock justice. There is a full room full of science experiments, so my nerdy husband was in heaven. Now Kinsie wants a science kit for her birthday!

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The Wonder Place-

We’ve been here before, but the kids loved it so much, we had to go back. This place is seriously perfect for young, busybodies like my kids! Now that elementary schools have started, we practically had to place to ourselves!

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Trampoline Park-

This was another place that we’ve known about since we moved, but never took the chance to try it out. Again…this place was PERFECT for our kids. A huge warehouse full of trampolines and a giant foam pit had their names written all over it. We went on another one of Ryan’s days off so he got to enjoy it with us. We will definitely be going back!

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Little Rock Zoo-

We had about 3-4 days in a row where the weather was perfect, and luckily Ryan was off during one of those days, so packed up the kids, the wagon, and a lunch and spend the day at the zoo. These kids love animals so much, they get just as excited to see them each time we go. Another bonus was that every year when your membership renews, you get free tickets for a train ride. Another score for my kids! We had the perfect family day at one of our favorite places!

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Outdoor adventures

Every time I check the weather and see if its going to be less than 90 degrees, we try to spend some time outside. We love going to the park by our neighborhood, and even just playing in our own yard. One afternoon we had some of the other residents’ kids over for a sprinkler date. The kids love spending time with other kids their age, and I love getting some adult interactions with the other moms!

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Weekend at Home

We were so excited to get to come home for a weekend for Ryan’s cousin’s wedding. We were only home Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…but we packed in a LOT of activities in those 3 days!

Indiana State Fair-

We LOVE the fair…both county and state. We love the animals, the food, the rides…all of it. We especially love it when we get to go with family. The 5 cousins had a blast together drinking milkshakes, petting cows, and riding all the rides. It was such a fun, much-needed family night with some of the people we love most.

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Masey’s Wedding-

Ryan’s cousin Masey is one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met. As soon as I found out when her wedding was, I REALLY wanted to make it. Luckily, Ryan was on an ED rotation so he was able to request a couple days off in a row so we could go. This day did not exactly go as I planned it…but that’s life. Brax would not…I repeat, WOULD NOT wear the cute collared Polo shirt I had picked out for him. Or the matching boat shoes. After a long battle, I had decided to cave and let him wear whatever the heck he wanted, but at that point he was inconsolable. We could not take him to a wedding like this! My parents offered to let him take a nap, and then they would bring him for the reception. After his nap and getting to wear an animal shirt rather than his nice clothes, he was better, but still a bit grumpy. He did better as the night went on…I’m sure it helped that Grandma kept sneaking him upstairs to eat the bridal party’s cookies. Even though I didn’t get any nice family pictures, and Brax didn’t make it to the actual ceremony, it turned out to be an awesome night. Kinsie looked beautiful and danced the night away. We loved getting to spend a beautiful evening celebrating sweet Masey with Ryan’s family.

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Lake Day –

On Sunday, we spent most of the day at the lake. The kids loved boat rides, swimming, and tubing with cousins. It’s always a nice treat when Ryan is home in Indiana with us, and I know the kids, and the rest of the family loved having him home as well.

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Pool Night-

After a day at the lake, we went back to my parents’ house for swimming and dinner.  I missed this SO much. Sunday dinners with my family were one of my favorite traditions before we moved, and it felt so good to do it again, especially on a great night where the kids were still wearing their swimsuits and googles and giggling together at the cousin table. This trip to Indiana was therapy.

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August is over now, and I hate it say it, but I’m a bit relieved. Like I said at the beginning of this post, we are all ready for a change. The kids need school. I need a break. I love my children to the ends of the Earth, but it has been a long summer, and I am ready for some well-earned “me” time. I think we will all be in better moods and get along better when we are not together 24/7. Ryan will have one of his hardest rotations in September, but luckily we should stay busy. Kinsie will start T-ball and ballet, and obviously school will start as well. The kids and I will also spend the week of Kinsie’s birthday in Indiana, and we’ll have Bev for a couple days before, and my mom for a couple days after. We are looking forward to the next few months. Stay tuned!

As always, here is our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of August.

July Adventures

While June seemed to last forever, July flew by…probably because we were out of town for half of it! We needed some change of scenery this month, and we definitely got it, and had a great month. We had some great family time, and lots of fun adventures.

4th of July

Last year, we had a blast at the parade and festival that our town held, so we knew we definitely wanted to take part again this year. Ryan asked for the 4th off so he could join us. The parade is definitely a “small town” parade, so nothing extravagant, but many of the floats throw out candy, so that’s all the kids really care about! At night, we went to the festival down by the lake and invited some of our residency friends. The festival included bounce houses, food trucks, and a live band. While we waited for fireworks, we enjoyed eating ice cream sundaes, playing ring toss with glow necklaces on Brax’s neck, and the kids loved just playing and running around in the field together. The fireworks were AWESOME, and all the kids loved it. We always used to spend the 4th with our families, so it was rough last year not being with them. However, we have made the best of it and find fun things to do and now we just make it our own family day.

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Day trip to the Zoo

Sometimes, the kids and I get sick of our every-day routines, and we need to change it up. One day, Ryan didn’t have to work until the afternoon, and we needed something to do to get the kids out of the house for a little while and burn off some energy. We decided on an impromptu trip to the zoo! The Little Rock Zoo may not be as intense as other zoos, but its perfect for us because we can go for 2-3 hours and see everything we want to see. We had a great family morning!

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Family hike in Hot Springs

We’ve heard a lot about Hot Springs, AR since moving here, and we’ve always wanted to check it out. On one of Ryan’s days off, we decided to make it happen and go on a family hike. We found a great State Park with lots of trails. We had a great time climbing rocks and trees, finding frogs, and exploring nature. Days where we take family hikes are seriously my favorite!

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Branson Trip

As you may have already read in my last post, we spent a week in Branson with Ryan’s family. We had such a great time! We loved having Ryan with us for the week, and exploring different zoos, aquariums, and spending days on the lake and at the pool.

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Back home again in Indiana

After Branson, Ryan rented a car to drive back to Little Rock, and my mother-in-law helped us drive to Indiana to spend a week with family. Whenever we spend time back home, all 5 of the cousins are inseparable!

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We probably spent the majority of the week at my parents pool. All Kinsie wanted to do ALL week was swim with her cousins. She has become much more brave with swimming. At the beginning of the summer, she didn’t even like to get her face wet, but now she no longer needs floaties in the shallow end, and has been practicing swimming underwater. She was even doing underwater flips! I think next year, she’ll be able to swim in the deep end without floaties too!

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The timing of our trip home worked out perfectly, because it fell on the same week as the County Fair. My whole family, and most of Ryan’s family tagged along, and the kids had a great time together. We loved looking at all the animals, watching the cheerleading competition, riding rides, and eating hot dogs and milkshakes. The highlight of the night, however, was Brax’s encounter with a goat. My dad knew some people who had a pen of goats at the fair, and they let the kids get in the pen and pet the goats up close. Well, one goat in particular didn’t like having Brax be eye level with him, and he (no joke) HEAD BUTTED him, knocking both him and Kinsie to the ground! They were both physically fine, just a little traumatized! My brother-in-law happened to get it on camera, so we showed the video over and over to Brax until he thought it was funny and could laugh about the “silly goat!”

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As always, just spending time together is all these 5 kids ever want while we’re in town. Whether it be swimming, eating lunch, reading, or singing karaoke…their favorite place to be is together!

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We loved our July travels, but after 2 weeks away, it was nice to be home. Kinsie really struggles when we leave our family, so we’re trying to get more creative on ways to help her not be sad about being away from everyone. For example, I found my old digital picture frame and loaded lots of pictures of her and Brax with our families on it so she can always see pictures of them. We also printed a calendar for her to count down how many days until the next time she sees everyone. Luckily, we’ll all be traveling back to Indy for a weekend next month for a family wedding, so it won’t be too long until our next visit. Although I love summer time, I’m starting to look forward to fall. I’m ready for cooler temps, the kids are excited to start preschool after Labor Day (yes…even Brax!), Kinsie will be playing T-ball, and we have lots of trips and activities planned over the next 4-5 months. Enjoy the remainder of summer and stay cool!

Here is our 1 Second Everyday video for July…enjoy!

Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot in June

The southern summer heat is here and more intense than I remember. April and May were perfect, then June hit and the high temps and humidity hit us hard. Unless you go outside before 8am, or are in water, it’s honestly hard to bear. Without school or extra-curricular activities, we’ve had to get creative to keep the kids busy. Ryan has had a harder rotation than I expected, with several all-day shifts (7am-10pm), and the rest 11am-9pm. Like mid-shifts, I really dislike these shifts because he’s not home for not only most of the day, but dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. Evenings are my kids “witching hours,” so it’s not fun dealing with it alone! I’ve definitely become used to it, but it’s still so much better when he’s home to help. The kids have REALLY missed him this month – especially Kinsie. She has cried on multiple occasions because she misses him, and she takes out her frustration of him not being home on me. I think it’s worse than usual because she’s not in school to help keep her mind busy. Next month, he’ll get a week off and we’ll go in vacation to Branson, MO…so we’re all looking forward to that!

Here is a recap of our June…

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo! Brax is Two!

The kids spent the last week of May in Indiana with family, and Ryan and I came up the next weekend for a wedding, then had a late family birthday party for Brax. It was perfect timing for us to be home, because my sister-in-law also had just found out the gender of her baby, so we had a small gender reveal before Brax’s party. They are going to have a sweet baby boy and we are SO excited to meet this little blessing! Kinsie asks about the baby EVERY day and can’t wait to have a new cousin. Brax doesn’t quite understand yet, but he loves babies so I’m sure he’ll be obsessed when he meets him!

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The kids had a great week in Indiana, but after a week of being away from me, Brax was pretty grumpy and wouldn’t let me leave his sight. His party was a lot of fun, but a little stressful because he was so grumpy and would only say “No!” to anyone who tried to talk to him. Luckily everyone who was there loves him regardless and we all just took it in stride. We managed to get a few smiles out of him, and he still says he loved his choo-choo party when we ask him, so I guess that’s what counts!

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These sweet cousins were inseparable the whole party

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A special shout-out to Megan for making the kids’ train shirts, the cupcakes, and the banner…Renata for another batch of amazing cookies…my Mom for helping with balloons, and Bev and Tim for hosting! I am SO grateful for my village!

The kids had a blast with the piñata, playing on the ATV, fishing, and just spending time together. Anytime we are surrounded by both of our families, we are happy!

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Outdoor fun

We are always trying to find time to spend outside. When the humidity isn’t as intense, or in the morning when the yard is still in the shade, we try to go out and burn some energy. The kids have loved the sprinkler, water table, kite flying, hopscotch, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bug-catching, and more. Kinsie recently decided that she wants to start t-ball in the fall, so she’s been practicing whenever she can!

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And of course, nothing is better on a hot day than some cold treats! Popsicles, ice cream, and our favorite shave ice truck have been lifesavers in this heat!

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Relief from the heat

Spending time outside is not always possible because of rain, or extreme heat…but my busy kiddos can’t handle too much time in the house. They are great with just playing with their toys, but after a while, they (and I) get stir-crazy and they fight a lot more. We try to get out of the house just about every day, even if its a small adventure. We try to discover new places, or visit our old favorite places. We recently found a restaurant called “All Aboard,” where a train delivers your food (for my Indiana folks – its like Pizza King but more food options and cooler trains that you can see around the entire restaurant) The kids were obsessed and both cried when we left! We also have made small adventures to our favorite frozen yogurt place, had lunch and play time at Chik-fil-A, and visited the library.

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Our anniversary

Ryan and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary this month. We didn’t have a romantic, kid-free dinner or anything, but that’s overrated! We were just happy for Ryan to have the day off! Our anniversary was on a Saturday, so we spent our morning at the Little Rock Farmer’s Market (one of our faves!), and the splash pad. We also ate lunch at the River Market, which is one of my favorite things to do as well ($5 sushi rolls…yes please!) We had a nice dinner at home and just spent time together. It was a great day!

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Kinsie starts ballet

Kinsie has been asking me for months to take a ballet class. I wanted to wait until soccer was over, then signed her up for a short summer session. She absolutely loves it! It’s only a 3-week session so she could just try it out, and since we’ll be out of town a couple of weeks in July, but I have a feeling she will ask me to sign her back up once this session is over. Unfortunately, we don’t get to watch her while she’s in class, so Brax and I have to keep ourselves busy when she’s in class.

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Savoring Daddy time

Like I said, it’s been a harder month than expected, and the kids have REALLY missed their dad. Whenever he is home, they are ALL over him! He is on a rotation where he has “call shifts,” meaning he has to be in the on-call room all day, unless they need him for a code or pronouncement. During these shifts, we can go visit him in the on-call room. The kids have LOVED doing this!

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One good thing about this month is that Ryan was able to set his own schedule, so he took Father’s Day off. We loved having him home for the day, and the kids were so excited about giving him their gift!

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Wonder Place

We discovered this great little place that is specifically for kids 0-8. This place was perfect for my busy kids! So many things to do including water activities, a train set, a sand table, a “river market” with pretend food they can buy, a dress-up area and stage, and more. We stayed for a few hours and they kids are already asking to go back. Definitely a fun morning!

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Craving family

The kids and I were really missing family this month, so I talked to my parents and we decided to make an impromptu trip home for a long weekend. The kids were in heaven swimming in the pool, having cousin sleepovers, watching fireworks and playing at the lake, and just spending time with family. All 5 of the kids were inseparable the entire weekend. It was a wonderful, much-needed trip!

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Sweet cousin love

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Swimming fun

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Ready for fireworks at the lake!

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Having a blast swimming in the lake!

 

It was a harder month than I expected. We’ve officially been here for a year, and I have made significant progress making this my home. I am much better off emotionally and mentally right now than I was this time last year, but I still go through difficult spells. I think summer is hard because I know that if I were in Indiana, I’d be spending most of my time with family at the lake or at my parents’ pool. The kids would be having cousin sleepovers all the time, and we’d be grilling out and eating dinner outside. I miss summers with family SO much. We do what we can to still have a fun summer and give the kids great memories, and we truly treasure when Ryan has a day off. I don’t know what the future will bring after this season of residency, but I trust in the Lord and take comfort in the fact that He knows our next step.

And as always, to end my post, here is our June 1 Second Every video.

March Madness

No, this post isn’t about the NCAA basketball tournament…just the chaos and crazy, or “madness” if you will, of our ever day lives…and I wouldn’t have it any other way! March went by way too fast because we stayed busy! Here were our favorite moments of March.

Spring has arrived!

The warm weather in Arkansas is pretty much here to stay! While it may be chilly in the mornings and evenings, most days it gets up to the high 60s or low 70s. The kids have been LOVING it. We’ve played in the yard a lot, had picnics, and explored some new parks.

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Colorado Vacation

I already posted about our Colorado vacation, but this was definitely a major highlight of our month. We had the best vacation with Ryan’s whole family in Colorado Springs in mid-March. We did so many fun activities and always had an amazing view of the mountains. We definitely want to make it back to Colorado again someday.

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Random Sweet Moments

My kids definitely like to explore and go places every so often, but overall they are homebodies like me, and love to just play at home. Ryan was on his OB rotation this month, so he worked long hours at night, so the kids and I had a lot of quality time just the 3 of us. I always try to document the random little moments where the kids do something sweet or unique…especially when the kids are getting along so well without me coordinating it. Kinsie will “read” books to Brax, or Brax will line up all his cards to make a long “choo-choo,” or the kids will snuggle extra close to me when they are scared of a thunderstorm. I try to savor these moments because I know they won’t last forever!

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Pinnacle Mountain

Ryan and I hiked Pinnacle Mountain when we came to visit Arkansas before he made his rank list last year. It was a great hike with a beautiful view, and we’ve been wanting to take the kids ever since. We finally got the opportunity, and we had a great time! Kinsie was an absolute CHAMP and hiked the whole thing by herself. Brax rode in the hiking backpack and was not happy about it at first…he wanted to do it himself too! He eventually gave up and just had fun riding in the backpack with his Daddy. The kids loved the view and they didn’t want to leave the top of the mountain!

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Family for Easter

We haven’t seen my sister’s family since Christmas, so we were all counting down the days until they were going to visit us for Easter weekend. My parents were coming too, so we were excited to see everyone. We had the best weekend with everyone! The kids had fun together no matter what they were doing. We played outside, went to the zoo, went to my church’s Easter egg hunt, and much more. These pictures show the joy and fun these 5 had together more than I can really explain…

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Trip to the zoo

 

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Kinsie’s fan club at her soccer game

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Wagon rides, playing at the rock park, dressing up as princesses…cousin time doesn’t get much better than that!

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Lots of fun at the church Easter egg hunt

We loved getting to spend time with both of our families this month. It always fills our buckets when we get to see family. We have adjusted to living here, and finally are starting to feel more established, but being away from family is still by far the hardest part, and I don’t know if I’ll ever completely get used to it. That’s why we savor our moments we do have with them. Still, we are really enjoying living here, and when I see pictures and videos of my kids, I truly feel that they are happy, and that’s what matters most.

Here is our “One Second Everyday” video for March…enjoy!

 

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

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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!