Loving the Summer Life

July was so busy and fun! I’ll get right to it.

4th of July Celebrations

We had a whole weekend of 4th of July fun- and Ryan got to enjoy it all with us! 

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We started out at the lake for the annual fireworks. We always spend the day there, then watch the fireworks at night. The kids had a blast swimming, paddle boarding, and collecting rocks. 

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Brody was too hype to take a nap that day, but I knew he would love the fireworks, so we just went with it. He didn’t nap, and he was slap happy! He did want his pacifier because he was tired, but he LOVED the fireworks, and he danced around while watching them and naming all the colors he saw! The big kids enjoyed the fireworks too! This was Evie’s first experience with fireworks as well, and we had no idea what to expect. She definitely didn’t like them, but she did ok if we held her close and reassured her!

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We spent the night at the lake house, and woke up to do more lake fun. We took a golf cart to the campgrounds and hung out there for a little while, then we came back for more swimming fun.

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We also had a fun boat ride. The kids all had fun, and Evie really liked her first boat ride. She loved the wind blowing her ears!

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The next day was the actual 4th, so we joined my family at the Brownsburg parade. The kids loved the snow cones and getting lots of candy from the floats driving by. 

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The highlight of the parade, however, was Brody’s reaction to the firetrucks. He loves trucks and vehicles of all kinds, so he was PUMPED to see police cars and firetrucks in the parade!

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We had an awesome morning with family! 

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After the parade, we had lunch at my sister’s house. The big kids really wanted to stay and swim at their neighborhood pool, so they stayed and we took Brody back to my parents’ house for a nap. The big kids had a blast swimming with their cousins!

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Later in the afternoon, we brought the kids back to my parents’ house for swimming, dinner, and fireworks. Ryan’s parents came to join as well. 

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Ryan bought a big case of fireworks last year and we only used about half of them then, so we used the rest that evening. The kids loved doing sparklers and watching Ryan light some fireworks in the street. It was a chill, low-key 4th of July, and it was the perfect way to end our busy weekend!

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Soccer/Ninja Camp

I recently found out that there are tons of day camps offered in our town during the summer. I was too late to sign the kids up for a lot of them, but I was able to sign them up for a day camp at their gymnastics building. It was a Soccer Ninja camp! I originally just planned on signing up Brax for this camp, but Kinsie thought it sounded fun too so they did it together. They loved it! They played soccer, had Nerf gun wars, did ninja/gymnastics activities, and a craft each day.

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One of the crafts was a shark mask. Brody thought it was hilarious! He definitely missed them while they were at camp each day, but they had a lot of fun!

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Lake Days

We got to spend another weekend this month at the lake! We enjoyed a boat ride, swimming, and going to the kids’ cousin’s birthday party!

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Pool Days

The kids and I came up to my parents’ house about once a week for a swimming day. My sister’s kids would join us whenever they could which always made my kids happy! I never get many pictures of our pool time because I’m usually in the water with Brody, but here are a few!

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The Great Outdoors

We had another fun month of lots of outside fun! We finished the month of July at almost 800 hours for the year!

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The kids always enjoy finding bugs and critters.

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Doing water activities has become one of their favorite things. They love the kiddie pool, spraying each other with the hose, and jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler!

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Brax has been obsessed with sports lately, so he spends a lot of his outside time playing baseball and soccer!

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And the kids are still always riding around on their bikes, scooters and power wheels!

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And sometimes our outside time is more chill – like drawing with sidewalk chalk, drinking gatorade and just chilling in a fold up chair!

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Other Fun at Home

The kids have now started school, but they enjoyed their off time while it lasted. Kinsie is always finding art and craft activities to keep her busy, and the boys enjoyed working out with Ryan and I, and also just lounging around having lazy mornings in bed!

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Yaya Day

At one point in the month, Brody had a double ear infection. It was rough on his little body, and he was out of whack for a couple weeks, all while Ryan was working a string of 12 hour shifts. One day, Brody had an especially bad day, which made it a really hard day for me. The next day, my mom decided to come down for the day and help me. Her being here helped SO much. The kids were happier, and I had another adult to take some of the load off of me. I am so grateful for my mama and everything she does for our entire family!

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Grandma Day

Ryan’s mom got to have some special time with the kids this month too. She planned a play date at a water park near Megan’s new house with a bunch of their cousins. They had so much fun, and even spent the night. 

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Fun at the County Fair

One evening, the kids and I were visiting at my parents’ house and my dad asked if we wanted to go to the Hendricks County Fair, so we loaded up right then and there and went! The kids had so much fun!

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Brody’s favorite part was definitely the tractors! We can’t wait to take him to the state fair next!

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The kids enjoyed riding a few rides at the fair too.

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They loved getting to spend some special time with Papa!

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Brody’s Partially Vaccinated!

Even though we’ve now had Covid, it was a great feeling to get my baby his first Covid vaccine! He was a champ!

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Library Reading Challenge

The kids enjoyed doing the Summer Reading Challenge through the county library this summer. They got prizes during different stages of the challenge, and the final prize for finishing the challenge was to pick out their own book. Brax picked a dinosaur book, Kinsie picked an origami book, and Brody picked out a truck book. All very fitting for them!

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Holiday World

Ryan had a few days off the week before the kids started school, so we decided to take the kids to Holiday World! We have never been, but have always heard great things. We stayed in a hotel for 2 nights, and a cottage at Santa’s Cottages for one night (since that is al that was available!)

Traveling with kids is always an adventure!

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The original forecast wasn’t very promising, but we decided we would make the most of it regardless. It rained pretty heavily in the morning while we were still at the hotel and eating breakfast, but by the time we got to the park, it slowed down significantly. Then about an hour in, the rain clouds went away and the sun came out! It was a beautiful, perfect day at the park!

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The kids loved exploring the different holiday-themed sections of the park!

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Brody was about half an inch too short for a lot of the rides, but he loves all the rides that he was able to go on. One of his favorites was the Holidog Express Train!

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We all had a lot of fun on the rides at Holiday World! And the kids LOVED the free fountain drinks available everywhere!

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After exploring Holiday World for a little while, we ventured over to Splashin’ Safari, the water park connected to the main park. It was amazing! Ryan and I took turns going on water coasters with the big kids, while the other one stayed back at the splash pads for Brody. The areas for little ones like Brody were fantastic – a toddler’s dream. He LOVED all the water slides!

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We stayed until close that day and watched the evening fireworks and drone show. It was an amazing day!

We took the next day off from the parks and ventured around town. We were able to check into our cottage, which we absolutely loved!

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The heat index was well in the 100s that day, but the kids still loved playing on the playground at the cottages and feeding the fish in the lake.

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The cottages also had a Reindeer Express Train that ran every morning. Brody was a BIG fan!

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The kids also loved looking around the Christmas Store, the candy shop and the toy store!

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We were on the go so much that day that Brody didn’t get his nap. So by dinner time, he was tuckered out!

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We went to the parks the next day for one more day, but this time with a good strategy to make sure we did everything we wanted to. When we entered the park, we were greeted by Santa! Brody wanted absolutely nothing to do with him, but Kinsie and Brax enjoyed saying hi!

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We spent most of the day at the water park. The kids rode more of the bigger rides and Brody had so much fun in the little kid areas. After a while, we changed into dry clothes and rode more of the Holiday World rides. We stayed until close again, and then drove home that night. It was an awesome note to end our summer vacation on. We definitely want to make it a summer tradition!

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Like I said, our month was very busy and lots of fun! The kids have started school back up now, so we’re trying to get back into the swing of our school routines.

Lately with the craziness of life as a mom of 3 kids and a crazy pup, it has been difficult to find the time to do my monthly blogs. I really enjoy doing them, but it is a struggle to make the time. So I may cut down how often I post, maybe every other month or so. We’ll see where life takes us! Thanks for whoever continues to follow our journey!

Here is our 1 Second Everyday for the month of July. Happy end of summer!

Island Vibes in June

June flew by quicker than I anticipated. Summer didn’t seem like it really started until mid-June because of sickness, vacation, and baseball. But it was a great month, and now we are in the full swing of summer. Here is a recap of our June.

Anniversary Trip to St. Thomas

Ryan and I have been married for 10 years! Our decade together hasn’t exactly been a cake walk with Ryan’s long and grueling medical training journey, but we came out stronger through all of it. To celebrate, we took our first extended vacation together since our honeymoon…to the Virgin Islands!

The view from our balcony

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We did TONS of sightseeing and exploring. The views everywhere were absolutely breathtaking!

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One day we visited Coral World, where we got to swim with dolphins. This was definitely a highlight of our trip!

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We probably spent the majority of our week snorkeling in the beautiful bays of the islands. We saw SO many amazing fish and coral, both on St. Thomas and on St. John. A few of our favorite things we saw included sea turtles, Caribbean reef squid, sting rays, barracudas, and parrot fish. Between the two islands, we snorkeled in 14 different bays! To see more of our pictures, check out the Youtube link below.

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We loved getting to spend so much quality time together. We don’t get to relax much in our everyday lives, so we enjoyed living on island time and eating delicious seafood and drinking painkillers and banana daiquiris every day.

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After 10 years, he’s still the one I love!

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We got a new underwater camera before our trip, and we took some amazing photos and videos while snorkeling. Check it out in the video below.

While we were gone, the kids stayed with Grandma Bev and Papa Tim. They had a blast! They had lots of fun at the lake and spent time with their cousin Griffin.

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Ryan and I had to miss a couple of the kids’ games, but they still had plenty of representation! My parents were watching my sister’s kids while they were also on vacation, so they came to see the kids play in their games. Brax even got the game ball when they came!

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Evie got to have cousin fun too! She got to spend a couple nights at Nate and Kendyl’s house with her cousin Alfie! They were best buddies and spent lots of time playing and snuggling together! We were so grateful for our tribe for taking such good care of our babies so we could enjoy our vacation together!

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End of Softball and Baseball Season

The kids had an awesome season! We loved seeing Kinsie make tons of improvement from last year when she started. She ended her season with a bang and got another game ball…which her cousins were there to see!

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Brody was sad to see baseball season end…mainly because that meant he couldn’t get as much popcorn and slushies from the concession stand anymore!

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We were also so proud of Brax for his first season of baseball! He did so great and had so much fun. His team got regular season runners up, and he also ended his season with another game ball!

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Summer Adventures

At the beginning of summer vacation, we couldn’t go anywhere because we were in quarantine from Covid. Then as soon as we were all out of quarantine, Ryan and I went on our trip. So FINALLY one I was home, we could go explore!

We went on walks on the trail

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We went to the park for a play date

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We’ve taken rides in Daddy’s Jeep

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Another park day…

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And we’ve gone to the library a few times!

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Stay tuned for more summer adventures in July!

Outside Play

We’re still trucking along with our outside hours. We are usually averaging around 3 hours a day…but sometimes we get up to 9 or 10 hours in one day! The majority of the hours we got this month was at house doing water activities. We bought a new kiddie pool and it is the BEST. Every other pool we had popped or broke after a few uses, but this one is much more durable. The kids have also been enjoying using the sprinkler under the trampoline. Our water toys keep the kids busy for hours!

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We also take Evie on walks whenever we get the chance to help get some of her energy out. 

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The trampoline and sprinkler have been a huge hit!

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Another summer tradition has included making s’mores on our new fire pit! Brody mainly loves the marshmallows, and he will keep trying to sneak more when he thinks we aren’t looking!

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The kids always find something fun to do outside!

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One night, we let the kids go out to the backyard to catch fireflies. We have the perfect yard for it since we have woods behind us and open lots next to us. They loved it!

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Swimming at Yaya’s

We always try to find time to go swimming at Papa and Yaya’s. The kids still had softball and baseball throughout most of the month, so it was harder to find the time to go, but we squeezed in a few trips. I’m sure we’ll have more in July.

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Brody’s Tooth

Unfortunately, having a fearless, adventurous little toddler has its downside. Brody took a spill on his little bike and knocked out his front tooth. It was pretty traumatic to see my baby bleeding and in so much pain, but it could have been much worse. His tooth was knocked clean out, root and all and he had a fat lip and some scratches on his face, but after a popsicle and some medicine, he recovered pretty quickly. 

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He was acting like his silly self again by the next afternoon. I was sad that his little smile wouldn’t be the same, but I’ve learned to love his precious new look!

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Pops

At the end of the month, we lost someone very near and dear to our family. My brother-in-law’s dad, Don, joined his beautiful wife Diane in heaven. I’ve known Don since I was in high school, and he has always been such a special part of our lives. He was the best Pops to my sister’s kids, and treated my kids as his own as well. He was such a special man, and I feel so blessed that I was able to call him family.

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We ended our month spending lots of time with family, which wasn’t under the best circumstances, but definitely needed through the heartache of losing Don. My kids loved getting to be there for their cousins and making them smile during a difficult time. Now we are looking forward to July…hopefully having more fun summer adventures before the kids start school in August. 

Enjoy our 1 Second Everyday for June!

Marchin’ into Spring

We love March. It marks the beginning of spring and warmer weather. This month had some beautiful weather, and some freezing weather…typical of Indiana! But we had a lot of indoor and outdoor fun this month!

New Trampoline

We bought a trampoline! This was something we’ve had our eye on for a while. We knew the kids would love it…and we were right! We’ve had it less than a month and it has already been a huge hit!

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Even Brody is having fun on the trampoline. He can’t really jump yet, but he loves bouncing around when Kinsie and Brax jump around him. The kids already have lots of plans with this trampoline as the weather gets consistently warmer.

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Kinsie’s Art Display

Kinsie’s artwork was chosen by her art teacher to represent her school In the Youth Art Month exhibition at the art museum on IU’s campus. Only a few students’ artwork from each school were chosen for this exhibition, so it was an honor. We were so proud of her, but not surprised! She is a wonderful little artist and it is great to see her thrive in an area that she loves so much.  On the first day of the exhibition, we took a trip to campus to go see her artwork.

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She received a certificate and a gift bag from the museum. She was so happy!

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Kinsie’s little brothers were proud of her and loved seeing her art too!

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It was a beautiful day outside, so we took the opportunity to spend the morning on campus. We had a picnic lunch and walked around campus. The museum is right next to the Showalter Fountain, and IU’s marching band happened to be practicing there at the time. We enjoyed sitting and listening to them practice by the fountain, and Brody danced around to the music! The fountain was empty, so the kids got in and ran around in it. It was a beautiful and fun morning!

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School Dress-up Days

The kids had a few dress-up days this month for Read Across America week. Kinsie got to dress as her favorite book character, so she dressed as a Hufflepuff character (her Halloween costume). 

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Brax had a few fun dress-up days too…including Wacky Wednesday! 

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And Crazy Hair Day! His blue hair was a hit!

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St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patty’s Day is mainly a fun excuse to take cute pics of my kids!

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Since the kids were on Spring Break, Ryan’s parents, and his sister Megan and her son Griffin came for the day to visit. They wanted to see Kinsie’s artwork, but also just hang out with us for the day. It was another beautiful day, and we took advantage of it again by walking and exploring campus. 

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Grandma Bev and Papa Tim were in their happy place with all 4 of their grandbabies!

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Cincinnati Zoo

We love the Cincinnati Zoo…mainly because of the hippo, Fiona. Recently, the zoo got another adult hippo in the exhibit – Tucker. Ever since then, the kids have been asking to go again to see Tucker. So when the kids were on Spring Break, we did. My parents came along for the fun too. The weather was great and it wasn’t too crowded like it was last time we went.

The kids loved feeding the giraffes and seeing them up close.

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We had lunch with a view of the savanna.

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We spent a lot of time with Fiona, Tucker and Bibi at the hippo cove. Like usual, they did not disappoint! They were SO active…swimming back and forth, doing flips, and playing with each other. Kinsie was in her happy place…she could have stayed there all day!

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We’ve been visiting Fiona since she was less than a year old, and Kinsie was only 4! Look how much they’ve both grown!

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We loved seeing and interacting with all the animals!

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The perfect way to end our day…ice cream!

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Children’s Museum

Grandma Bev watched the kids overnight, and then she and Megan took them to the Children’s Museum. The new Dinosphere opened back up, so Brax was pumped! The kids had a great time…even Brody got to join!

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Fun at Yaya’s

Another day, the kids had a play date at my parents’ house. They played outside ALL day!

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Cousin Fun

We had a few random cousin play dates this month. Have I mentioned how nice it is being just an hour away from all the people we love, instead of 10 hours? Cousin Griffin came over to play a few times. They always have a fun time together!

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My sister came down to visit one day with her kids, and she brought along a few more of the kids’ cousins for a play date. It was pretty chaotic with 8 kids – but it was a lot of fun! 

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My kids were back in school, but some of the cousins came along to pick them up from school. They loved it! It was another beautiful day, so the kids spent most of the day outside. We had Mexican food for dinner and had a great day!

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Day Adventures with Bro

Now that Covid isn’t completely taking over our lives, we’ve been venturing out a little more. When Ryan has days off, we try to have day dates, and Brody tags along!

We love walking around campus, and Brody LOVES seeing all of the campus buses!

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Brody and I love going to the park…especially when we have the place to ourselves!

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I’ve even felt a little more comfortable taking Brody with me on errands now…as long as we go places when it isn’t crowded, which usually it isn’t in the morning. He loves looking through the toy aisles and playing with all the trucks…and getting cake pops!

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Brody loved going on a breakfast date with us! He ate like a king!

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Outside Fun at Home

We’re still going strong on our 1,000 Hours Outside goal. Here are a few pictures of our time outside this month.

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And of course the kids always find fun things to do when we’re inside too. Kinsie created a food truck, and created a menu of fun little snacks. The boys loved it!

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The kids are always playing in the workout room, They love climbing on the gymnastics bar!

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Braxton is always reading to Brody. It is so sweet!

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We are still doing puzzles! Even Kinsie has been helping a little more. We’ve moved up to 500 piece puzzles!

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This boy…he is always climbing. Always getting into something. He is 100% toddler. Pray for me.

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Puppysitting Lola

We watched my sister’s dog while they were on vacation. She’s an old pup (13 years), so she was very low maintenance. But the kids – especially Brody – loved having her for the week! The weather wasn’t great for the last few weeks of March, so we didn’t get outside or go on as many walks as we wanted to…but Lola enjoyed just being wherever we were. Brody loved following her around and letting her kiss him!

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Play Ball!

Softball and baseball season have officially started! Kinsie and Brax both had their first practice during the last week of March. Kinsie is back with her team from last year, and Brax is starting his first season of baseball. He is so excited!

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And that was our March! We are excited for April…we have Easter coming up, as well as lots of other fun things planned…like another vacation at the end of the month! 

And as always, here is our 1 Second Everyday for the month of March.

Feelin’ Good in February

February is usually one of my least favorite months. We usually have the worst snow storms in February, and even though it is a shorter month, it always just seems like it takes forever to get to March. But this time, it was better…probably because we went on our first real vacation since October 2019! But before I get to that, I’ll discuss the rest of our month.

Spending Time Outside (Before the Snow)

The first day of February was amazing – it was in the 60’s and sunny. Brody and I spent most of the day outside. And when we did go inside to eat lunch, he didn’t want to take off his hat and boots! The funniest part is that is was warm enough that he didn’t even need a hat or boots – but that’s what he wanted!

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Once the kids got home from school, we went to the walking trail. Kinsie and Brax brought their bikes and Brody rode in his little car. It was a perfect day to ride on the trail and let Brax practice his new no-training wheels bike skills! There was a huge snow and ice storm coming the next day – so we savored the amazing day. (Also, don’t judge Brody’s crazy hair – he was getting a haircut in a few days!)

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Snow Days

As I said, the very next day we were due for ice and then snow. Kinsie’s school went ahead and called in for e-Learning days for the next few days since the ice was supposed to start that afternoon. Kinsie had a class meeting on her iPad, and she brought a friend to class! When she was doing her school work, Brody wanted to do some too!

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We didn’t get much snow the first day, just some ice. But the next day, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. It snowed heavily for the entire day. Luckily Ryan was off for a few days, so he got to enjoy being snowed in with us. Once Kinsie was done with her schoolwork, we all bundled up and went outside. The kids loved sledding, catching snowflakes, and playing “arctic animals.” However, it was REALLY cold and windy so we didn’t spend as much time outside as we could have liked.

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The next few days were much more bearable. The snow stayed but it was a tad warmer, no wind, and the sun was out…so we ventured outside for several hours each day. We enjoyed LOTS of snow activities including sledding, making a snowman, snow painting, snow volcanoes, following animal tracks and more!

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And of course we had to make snow ice cream!

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Even when the kids went back to school, Brody and I still tried to venture outside whenever we could. He’s always in a better mood outside!

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One day after school, Brax had a sledding playdate with his best friend from school. They had a wonderful time together!

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Haircut for Bro

This handsome boy was LONG overdue for a haircut…he hadn’t gotten one since September! But between the Omicron surge, the holidays, and the fact that Brody HATES haircuts, it just wasn’t a priority. But since we were going on vacation soon, I knew we had to get it done. He definitely didn’t enjoy it, but it’s Ryan’s cousin who cuts his hair and she was patient with him and loves him so she didn’t mind – and he looked SO handsome when he was done!

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Gym Ninjas

Kinsie is still loving gymnastics, and recently I signed Brax up for a class called Gym Ninjas at the same place and time. He’s had one class so far and he LOVED it! One of his best friends from school is in his class too so he was so happy!

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Valentine’s Day

We got to squeeze in some fun Valentine’s Day activities before we went on vacation. We always love making cookies, and we even got to enjoy making some with the kids’ cousin Griffin!

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And here are the cookies we made at home!

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Brax’s class needed an extra parent volunteer for their Valentine’s party, so his teacher asked me to step in. I love getting to volunteer for his class! I love seeing him in the school environment and with his friends.

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And here’s just a picture of my cute boys in their matching Valentine’s shirts!

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A tradition we started a few years ago includes a heart for each kid every day starting February 1 until Valentine’s Day with a reason why we love them.

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Another tradition includes a scavenger hunt around the house that leads to their Valentines gifts!

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We love our sweet valentines!!

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VACATION

We finally went on a real vacation for the first time in over 2 years! We didn’t feel comfortable traveling with our unvaccinated, unmasked infant for a while, but also…life kept us very busy the last 2 years. We finished residency, moved to a new state, started a new job, had a baby, and built a house all during a global pandemic…so vacation wasn’t exactly at the top of our priority list for a while. But now that we’ve settled into our new lives, and 2/3 kids are fully vaccinated, and cases are dropping significantly, we were ready for a vacation. My parents were going to our condo in Siesta Key for 3 weeks, and they invited us to join at the tail end of the trip. I was so excited to get my babies on the beach!

Brody’s First Flight

I really haven’t taken Brody many places in his life, so this trip was a whole new world for him – starting with the airport. He was so nervous with all the people and new things to see. He clung on me like a koala bear all through the airport, including through security. Once we were on the plane, he got more comfortable and acted like his crazy self.

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Our flights were later in the evening, and we had to stop in Atlanta for a connecting flight. Brody was a wild man on the flights! He just didn’t want to sit still. Ryan and I took turns throughout the first flight passing him back and forth. Kinsie and Brax were absolute traveling champs, making it much easier on us. The second flight was better because it wasn’t a full flight, so we found an empty row and Brody was able to have his own seat and more room to wiggle. I was hoping he would sleep on this flight since it was well past 10pm at this point…but nope. There was too much to do and see! Overall, he was a great traveler!

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The Beach

We were all SO excited to get to the beach the next morning. It had been at least 3 years since we’d been to the beach, so Kinsie and Brax didn’t remember much about it either and were so excited. Brody wasn’t sure what to think about the sand between his toes at first, but he quickly learned to love it and was a happy little beach baby! He especially loved the ocean…but we had to watch him like a hawk because he kept wanting to run straight into the ocean!

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Around lunchtime, my sister’s family flew in also and met us at the condo. The kids were so excited to have their cousins to play with on the beach! They spent the next few days digging holes, building castles, boogie-boarding, and finding sea shells.

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The pure joy on this sweet boy’s face while he experienced so many new things made my heart so happy!

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Enjoying the sunset with my girl

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Big Cat Habitat

After a couple days on the beach, our family needed a little bit of a break (we all had sunburns!), and my dad had told us about a cat sanctuary nearby, so we decided to check it out. It was called the Big Cat Habitat, and it was really neat! Kinsie and Brax both got to feed a bear and a liger (a lion mixed with a tiger).

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There was also a fun petting zoo area.

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Eventually, Brody conked out in the stroller with his hand in the goldfish bag!

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Kinsie and Brax showed off their stickers proving that they fed the animals. It was a fun day!

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Other Florida Fun

Our time in Siesta Key also included sitting on the dock waving to the boats passing by, shopping at the village and sharing snacks and smoothies with cousins, swimming at the pool, and lots and lots of crazy cousin fun!

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DISNEY

I’ve been dying to take Brody to Disney World since he LOVES Mickey Mouse and all his friends. When we decided to go to Florida, we really wanted to make it happen. We planned on driving to Orlando and spending the last 2 nights of our vacation there, including 1 day at a Disney Park.

Fun at the Resort

It was my sister’s idea to stay at a Disney resort, and I am so glad we did. Not only are the resorts amazing, but you get extra perks at the Disney parks when you stay there. We left Siesta Key Saturday morning and headed to Orlando. We got there around lunch time, and got to spend a few hours by the pool. The kids loved the slides and splash pad area!

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After swimming, we went to Disney Springs for a little while, but it was insanely crowded. We went to the big Disney Store and walked around a little, but it was honestly hard to maneuver around so many people and trying to stay distanced. As we walked around, Brody took a little stroller catnap…which made him wired later on at bedtime! But eventually we all went to sleep and prepared for our big Disney day!

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A Magical Day at Hollywood Studios

We chose to spend our 1 Disney park day at Hollywood Studios because it has some of the most sought after rides that are often hard to get into unless you get lightning lane passes for them, and you can often only get lightning lane passes for them by staying at a Disney resort. It was also great because it was so close to our resort, so we were able to take the skyliner to the park!

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Here’s our whole crew with our neon tie-dye shirts (that I helped make with my Cricut!)

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The best part about the entire day for me was Brody’s reactions to Mickey and Minnie. He loved them SO much, just like I knew he would! He could have stayed there with them all day if we let him. All the other kids enjoyed seeing the characters too, but mostly everyone loved watching Brody’s interactions with them!

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We also met Olaf, Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Doc McStuffins. Character interactions certainly aren’t what they used to be before Covid, but they were still magical…especially through the eyes of a toddler!

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We also had some fun dining reservations throughout our day…including lunch at the Sci-Fi drive-in theater…

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And drinks and snacks at Oga’s Cantina. The girls particularly enjoyed the limes that came with the drinks!

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Papa and Yaya were in the happy place with all their babies!

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We had a blast on all the rides. This was Brax’s first time riding Slinky Dog Dash and he LOVED it! Thanks to lightning lane passes and child swap, Kinsie and Brax were both able to ride it 3 times…and Brody loved watching us all ride the “Doggy!” We also loved Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Toy Story Mania, Aliens Swirling Saucers, and Rise of the Resistance (Ryan’s fave!) 

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The sweetest cousin crew!

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For dinner, we had reservations at Hollywood & Vine, which is a character meal. We were excited for Brody to get to see more characters! Before dinner, he dozed off for a nap, but we woke him up in time to see the characters.

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It was truly a wonderful day. It was crowded, but very manageable. Having Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes were SO helpful and let us ride almost everything. My sister did an amazing job planning and booking everything, and now I’m learning everything I can from her so I can do it when we return to Disney in April!

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Heading Home

The next morning, we were able to sleep in and have a nice breakfast. The kids enjoyed Mickey waffles with a view! Afterwards, we packed up and headed back to Sarasota for our afternoon flight home.

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My parents were on our flight this time, which was nice to help with the kids. It was also a direct flight which was very helpful too. We were all exhausted so it was nice to finally relax on the plane. The kids watched shows on our iPads and Brody actually slept most of the flight! It was a quiet, relaxing way to end our wonderful vacation.

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Bookends of Nice Weather

We started February with beautiful weather, and ended it with more beautiful weather. When we got back from Florida, it was freezing, raining, or freezing rain for about a week. So when it finally was warm enough to be outside again, the kids were ready! 

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It was a great month, and I don’t usually say that about February! We may have to plan more February Florida trips in the future because it definitely helped break up the dreadful winter months. Now we are ready for SPRING!

Here is our February 1 Second Everyday. Enjoy!

 

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!”

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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!

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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!

Brody-growing

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!