April Quarantine Adventures

Time is so weird. It seems like time is standing still right now, and that we are repeating the same day over and over again like the movie Groundhogs Day. However, here we are…already in May. It is officially baby month AND moving month! Never in a million years did I think we would be quarantined at home during a global pandemic homeschooling our kids, all while preparing for a baby and a move to another state. Life is crazy. And just when I think things will calm down, it often gets crazier and harder. We are so grateful for our family, and most importantly, our faith to get us through day by day.

Here is a recap of our month…

Quarantine Life

Overall, our every day has consisted of pretty much the same stuff. Wake up, have breakfast, let the kids play or watch a show, do schoolwork, find something to keep them busy and happy for the afternoon, have dinner, go to bed, repeat. I am on complete survival mode with being 9 months pregnant, so I’ve tried to give myself grace about not doing all the exciting Pinterest-worthy projects and activities that I see other moms doing right now. When it’s nice outside, we go outside. When it’s not, we stay busy inside with modeling clay, FaceTime with family, coloring, and building box houses. Overall, the kids have been fantastic throughout all of this. Yes they fight more, and yes they get extra emotional about things because they don’t know how else to let out their frustration with this crazy life we are currently living. But overall, I have been so impressed with how they’ve handled everything.

We try to go on small, random adventures when we can. Every once in a while, the director of Brax’s school will put out the treasure box in front of the school so the kids can come by and pick a treasure. Sometimes we go get slushies during Sonic Happy Hour. Any small errand to give us a change of scenery is good for our souls!

Other-quarantinelife

We’ve had lots of nice days, but every so often we get a small dose of summer weather. We’ve had a few swim suit, sprinkler and water table days. The kids love it, their large pregnant mama struggles with the heat. It makes the kids happy though, so I manage with lots of water, shade, and the large fan in the garage.

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On other nice days, the kids find all kinds of random games and activities outside. Cornhole, nature scavenger hunts, climbing trees, you name it. They have great imaginations so they can pretty much stay busy in any environment.

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Grateful for Easter

Ryan’s sister’s family was originally going to visit for Easter, but obviously everyone’s travel plans changed. Luckily, Ryan still scheduled Easter weekend off so he could spend that time with us.

Easter Cookies

Usually this is an activity I do with the kids when Ryan is working…just for something to do. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do this tradition this year since my carpal tunnel syndrome is so bad. Instead, we just made the cookies with Ryan so he could help!

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Another one of our favorite Easter traditions is to dye eggs. The kids got extra fancy this year and even added some extra sparkly paint!

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We knew Easter day was supposed to include lots of rain, so we planned our big Easter egg hunt the day before. We stuffed them with treats and hid them around the yard and the kids loved hopping around like bunnies finding the eggs.

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The kids loved seeing their surprises from the Easter bunny on Easter morning!

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Even though we didn’t go anywhere, the kids (mainly Kinsie) wanted to wear their Easter clothes that I originally bought them. We took the opportunity to still take a few Easter pics! It definitely wasn’t the Easter we were used to or planned on, but we still got to spend time together as a family, watch a wonderful and much-needed Easter church service, and be reminded of the good news of Easter. To be honest, it couldn’t have been more perfect timing for that good news!

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Other Big Events

Kinsie had been working hard on her second wiggly tooth for a couple weeks. The day before Easter, she decided she wanted to lose that tooth that day so that the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny could both come to our house that night (she got this idea from her cousin Briggs, who did the same thing on Christmas Eve) That tooth was quite stubborn and took us a while, but Kinsie was determined. She finally got it out and was so excited to see her money and a note from the tooth fairy the next morning!

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We officially closed on our home! We move out at the end of May and will be headed back to our home state! We will live with my parents for the summer, then live in a rental while we build our dream home. It’s a lot of planning and extra chaos, but we could not be more excited!

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Pregnancy Updates

We are coming down the home stretch! For a little while, I honestly thought this might be an April baby. He’s still cooking though, and I’m hoping he stays put a few more days so that Brax still has his own birthday! Overall, this pregnancy has flown by…until the last few weeks. I am currently 37 (almost 38) weeks, and I am READY. My sister always told me that her third pregnancy was the hardest on her body, and I can definitely relate to that!

Updates/Symptoms:

  • I am very physically uncomfortable. Like…all the time. This includes heavy pelvic pressure and severe ligament pain.
  • I’ve had pretty consistent Braxton Hicks contractions the last week.
  • I’m guessing baby is putting more pressure on my bladder…because I need to use the restroom about every half hour.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is still a problem, getting worse. Hoping I can get a cortisone injection soon to help this problem because it is hard to function.
  • Lots of hot flashes, especially at night.
  • I am very emotional – hello hormones!

In this photo, I was 36 weeks – baby is about the size of a small watermelon.

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I’m not usually much of a mirror selfie person, but this could be my last pregnancy (we haven’t made any decisions about this yet), so I figured I’d try to document as much of this bump as I could.

34 weeks

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Easter Day – 35 weeks

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My mom has been planning for a while now to come help us when the baby comes…mainly to watch the big kids while Ryan and I are in the hospital. With my level of physical discomfort and the fact that I haven’t been able to use my hands much without hurting, she decided to come early and we were SO grateful. The kids have been loving their Yaya time, and she has been helping me so much, especially when Ryan is at work. Here is a sweet video of the kids’ reactions when she arrived.

Most of the time, I’ve been trying to just take it easy and relax as much as possible. However, I’ve also been trying to “loosen things up” and help the process along, and enjoy the lovely Arkansas spring weather one last time, so we’ve been going on short walks when I’m up for it. The kids love walking with me, and they often use it as an opportunity to have nature scavenger hunts and watch the ducks and turtles.

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It’s only a matter of time that this little boy will be making his grand entrance into this world and into our hearts. Stay tuned!

A Month of Loss

March was hard. Then April came along and said, “Hold my beer.” I genuinely did not expect April to bring about even harder and darker days than what we were already experiencing.

Abuelita

The day after Easter, my sweet and beautiful Abuelita went to heaven. Her mind had been trapped by dementia for the last decade, so even though it was hard to lose her physically, it’s at least refreshing to know that both her body and mind are free now. She was the absolute epitome of love. Whether she knew you or not, if you were in her immediate presence, you could feel her love. We always said she “threw love at strangers,” so I’m sure you could imagine the love she poured on her family. Some of my favorite memories of her included her many lipstick-marked kisses, her homemade authentic Mexican meals she often cooked for us, her serenading us in Spanish, or giving us the earrings that she was wearing because we told her we liked them. We were also lucky enough to go on many vacations with her and my Grandpa Beto, and the memories made on those trips will be cherished forever. It’s hard knowing I’ll never see her again here in this life, but I rejoice for her that she is free in Heaven with the love of her life, Beto, and her Heavenly Father.

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Addie

Two days after my grandma passed, our sweet family dog Addie passed away as well. This one really blindsided us because her sickness came so quickly, we really did not have time to process or prepare for what was about to happen. She was throwing up for just one day, and we even took her to the vet and they assumed it was just a stomach bug. The next day, she passed away. We were all devastated and really struggled to understand what happened to her. She was not even 10 years old, and she recently struggled with arthritis, but we think something in her stomach or bowels developed, and there really would have been no time to do anything about it even if we would have had labs and blood work done.

 

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We had Addie since before we were married, so we have many happy memories with her. She was the sweetest, most loving pup, and she had SO much patience for our crazy kids. With the quarantine in place, we spent all of our time with her during the last month of her life, which is exactly what she would have wanted. Her favorite place in the world was wherever we were!

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Addie was the best snuggling buddy!

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Here is a picture that Kinsie drew at the end of our rough week. From left to right it includes her fish Hedwig (who died last August), Jesus, Grandma Graves (Ryan’s grandma who passed away in December 2017), Addie, and my Grandma Vargas. Of course when she showed me, I immediately started crying!

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It was important to all of us that we bring Addie with us when we move, so we found a pet cremation company. We got back a beautiful box with her name engraved on the top, and my personal favorite, a heart with her paw print imprinted into it. You can tell its definitely her paw print, because it includes her long fingernails that she would hardly ever let us cut!

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Like I said, it was a harder month than we expected, but we are sticking together as a family to help each other grieve. We still miss our Addie every day, and it has been tough finding our new normal without her companionship. We have so many wonderful memories with her so we try to focus on those to help get us through.

We are hopeful that May will be a month filled with joy and good news…we definitely need it!

Here is our April 1 Second Everyday video. Still lots of love and laughter to fill even our difficult days.

The March that Nobody Expected

Our March started out great, and we were looking forward to listing our house, and visiting Indiana to start house-hunting. Well as you all know, things took an unexpected turn for the entire world with the global pandemic, COVID-19. This virus turned everyone’s world upside down. For our family personally, it has been really hard with me being very pregnant with 2 kids now fully at home since schools are closed until further notice…and all of this while I was trying to get the house prepared to put on the market. Most importantly, Ryan works in the emergency department, so he is on the frontlines of this battle, which is the scariest part. We have been social distancing and doing e-learning and trying to come up with creative ways to let the kids get their energy out, but the idea that Ryan has the risk of being exposed every time he steps into work has caused me a great deal of anxiety. I have gone through several stages of emotions this month…from full on panic and anxiety, to somewhat acceptance UNTIL another major change happens, to anticipating more major changes and trying to find mental peace when they happen, and so on…but overall, the only thing that is really getting me through this is my faith. When I feel weak, I pray. When I feel hopeless, I pray. When I feel anxious, I pray. When I feel overwhelmed, I pray. I hate to admit that I haven’t been living this way the last few months. With so much going on in our lives, I’ve just been a little energizer bunny constantly going and doing and taking control of every situation and marking things off my checklist like a mad woman. God has really used this pandemic as an opportunity to humble me and make me slow down and let go of the control that I thought I had and just trust Him. This month has been so hard and scary, and I know the pandemic isn’t even over yet, but I am grateful that God has used it to open my eyes and realize that I need to fully trust Him.

With all that said, here is a rundown of our crazy month…

Enjoying the weather (pre-pandemic)

March has always been one of my favorite months, and in Arkansas, the weather is usually amazing from March – May before the intense summer heat comes. Ryan worked a lot of weekends and nights early on, so the kids and I had to find activities that I  could physically manage and still let them run around. Before COVID-19 came around, we still made trips to our favorite park as often as we could!

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Book Character Day

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday week, Kinsie’s school had several dress-up days focused around Dr. Seuss books, such as “Cat in the Hat” day (wear a hat), “Fox in Socks” day (wear crazy socks), etc. On Friday of this week, the kids got to dress as any book character and bring the book if they had it. Kinsie chose to dress as Pinkalicious! I always loved book character day as a teacher, and I’m so glad that I got to help Kinsie be a part of it now!

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Wye Daffodil Festival at “Daffodil Hill”

Every year, Wye Mountain has an entire field full of daffodils, and when they are in full bloom, they have a festival. I always saw people posting pictures of it, but each year it didn’t work out with our schedule for us to check it out. Luckily this year, we were able to make it work, even though Ryan was coming off of night shifts and was sleep deprived…but he knew this was our last chance so he took one for the team. The kids loved running and rolling through the fields of daffodils and I loved all the beautiful photo opportunities. Little did we know, COVID-19 was on its way, and this was our last real adventure before the recommended quarantine began, so I am especially grateful that we took the time to check it out. It is also funny looking back at these photos, because this was the last time Ryan had his facial hair. With the virus, Ryan has to stay clean shaven in order for his N-95 mask to fit properly. No complaining here…I love him no matter what and I’ve learned to embrace his scruff, but I do love seeing more of his handsome face!

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E-Learning Days

When Kinsie found out that she wouldn’t get to go to school for a while due to the virus, she bawled. My sweet girl loves school so much, and she hated the idea of not seeing her teacher and her friends for a while. I always said that homeschooling would never work for us, and I still believe that, but I am very impressed and surprised with how well e-learning from home has been going so far. Kinsie stays much more focused than I expected, and all of her teachers have done a fantastic job keeping their lessons online as normal as possible, just like they would be had they been at school. Her main teacher posts videos every day with their spelling and phonics lessons, and even does a read aloud video every day. There are often fun activities the kids can do too, like make a leprechaun trap on St. Patricks Day. All of the specials teachers post fun lessons for them as well, and I about melted at the videos the music teacher posted singing her “hello song” to each individual class with her ukulele! This school has been such a blessing for Kinsie this year, and I know we will miss it. Brax really wanted to learn too, so I used my old online teaching resources and printed worksheets for him to practice letters, numbers, colors, and more. Once he finished his worksheets for the day, he could do learning apps on the iPad until Kinsie was finished with her work.

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Kinsie’s school, and many other schools that I have heard about, have been providing free breakfasts and lunches to students while school was out. Kinsie’s school also made these meals available to any kids, not just students of the school, of any age, as long as they were in the car with you when you picked them up. The kids were pumped to pick up our free meals and enjoyed them all week.

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St. Patrick’s Day

Not that we do a whole lot on this day anyway, but it’s a fun excuse to dress up and take a picture!

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St. Patrick’s Day is always special to our family though, considering Ryan’s Match Day happened to be on this holiday 3 years ago. I have SO many emotions about this day, and now I am super nostalgic about it since we are ALMOST DONE with residency!!

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Kinsie’s First Tooth

Recently, Kinsie noticed that she had her first wiggly tooth. She was SO excited because she sees her classmates losing teeth all the time and always wondered when she would start losing her teeth. She wiggled nonstop (of course during a pandemic, my first piece of advice to her was to always make sure her hands were clean before wiggling her tooth!) Each meal she ate caused her wiggly tooth to become a little looser. Finally one night, I told her it was SO close and I could probably get it easily. Surprisingly she let me, and it indeed came out so easily…so easily in fact that it didn’t even hurt at all! She was so excited and loved getting her first visit from the tooth fairy the next morning! The tooth right next to it is now starting to wiggle, so she’s been working on that one next!

Kinsie tooth

Selling the House

We’ve been preparing for this for months. After LOTS of decluttering and storing, painting and repairs and deep cleaning…it was finally time to list our house! Getting our house “show ready” with 2 kids, 2 dogs, lots of rain, hence, lots of mud and dirt tracked in, all while being 8 months pregnant…definitely no easy task! On top of all that, this was right when COVID-19 came about, so then we had the added worry that people wouldn’t be out trying to buy houses right now. We went ahead and listed it, hoping it would at least get a lot of online attention while everyone was quarantined at home.

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Our house officially went on the market on a Monday, and the VERY next day, we had 3 showings! We were supposed to be in Indiana the first week our house was listed, but we decided it wasn’t best to travel during the pandemic, especially being around our families with Ryan working in health care, so instead we stayed home. Before we found out about the 3 upcoming showings, Ryan had already planned on picking up a couple of extra shifts to make some extra “moonlighting” money. So I was on my own with getting the kids and dogs out of the house!

The first showing was around lunch time, so we loaded up the car and grabbed fast food and just hung out in the car. It was rainy out anyway, and the kids stayed entertained watching a movie and doing activity books.

SellingHouse-firstshowing

The second 2 showings were in the evening back to back, and it was nicer outside, so we grabbed some dinner and had a picnic at the park. Apparently since this was the first sight of nice weather in about a week, EVERYONE else in the town decided to go to the park as well, making it very hard to implement social distancing. We sat at our own little picnic table by the lake, then tried to find areas in the park for the kids to play without other people. The kids helped me walk the dogs, and we used hand sanitizer after touching literally anything. Both the kids and dogs were very good, but even so, afterwards I was EXHAUSTED!

SellingHouse-showings

After just 1 day of being on the market, and 3 showings, we have officially accepted an offer and are under contract! It was truly a God thing that this all happened so quickly even during a pandemic. It is such a relief that I don’t have to continue having the physical stress of keeping the house ready, but even more not having the emotional stress of wondering if our house would sell before we needed to move. The best part is that we negotiated with the buyers to let us stay in the house until the end of May, which will be super helpful since the baby comes sometime in May. The kids and I will move out then, and Ryan will find a co-resident to stay with until he finishes out his contract at the end of June.

Social Distancing Spring Break

Like I mentioned before, we were very sad to make the decision not to travel to Indiana for spring break, but we definitely felt that it was the right thing to do. We were planning on house hunting, and even though that was our only chance to go, we’ve continued to look online, and we are very blessed that we at least have 2 realtors in the family that I fully trust to look at the houses we like and help us make a decision. Anyway, the first few days of spring break were rainy, so we had to entertain ourselves inside, at home. This included getting our the Easter eggs and having indoor egg hunts, lots of dancing and Go Noodle videos (short dance along videos for kids to follow), drawing and coloring, puppet shows, live stream videos of animals at the zoo, and even a few naps!

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Luckily, we didn’t have gloomy weather for too long while the kids were home for spring break. As soon as the rain stopped, we busted outside as often as we could while still maintaining social distancing. On one of the days, we took a family walk (dogs and all) around the park. Ryan doesn’t get to do this with us very often, so it was nice to share this time with him.

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The next few days we had WONDERFUL weather. We spent about 4 days in a row outside all day.

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The kids loved having nature scavenger hunts and combining the nature items they found to create new “inventions.”

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One day, we had straight up summer weather. It was 87 degrees! We took advantage of the weather and let the kids have their first pool and sprinkler day. They loved it! They even washed my car and found a lizard friend. This day made me very grateful that I won’t be pregnant through the real Arkansas summer, because the heat from this day was rough on my very pregnant body!

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Another day, the kids were running out of ideas to do in our own yard, and it wasn’t quite warm enough to do the water activities again. I came up with the idea to make a “board game” on our driveway and they loved it. Both kids helped me plan out our game, and all the obstacles and accelerations that would come with it. When we were done, Ryan took an aerial picture from the top of his Jeep, then we played the game… a lot!

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Some of the specific parts of the game included:

  • Frog jump ahead 3 spaces
  • Bubble Spill – lose 1 turn
  • Swimming with fish shortcut (Kinsie’s idea was to wear goggles while taking this shortcut!)
  • Stuck in the ball pit, lose 1 turn (they would literally sit in a bin filled with balls)
  • Scooter ride acceleration
  • Frisbee toss ahead 3 spaces
  • “God Bless America,” march ahead 3 spaces
  • Duck crossing, go back 2 spaces to allow them time to cross
  • Hit by a water balloon, lose a turn to dry off

I asked Kinsie what she wanted the “end goal” of the game to be, and she said that the goal is to get to “Princess and Superhero World!” It was actually a lot of fun creating the game with them, and they played it nonstop until it eventually rained and washed the game away.

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Pregnancy Updates

At 32 weeks, we entered our 8th month of pregnancy. At the most, I have about 8 weeks left, but with my history, and based on how I’ve been feeling, I probably have less time than that. This month has been tough emotionally for obvious reasons, but it has also gotten much more physically difficult for me. Moving around in any way takes about 10 times more effort than usual, and my hips are really starting to hurt…I can physically feel my body getting itself ready for labor.

Here are some updates and/or changes at 8 months:

  • This boy has not calmed down…not even a little bit! It is safe to say that he is by far my most active child in utero. He also seems to be very strong, because his kicks send shockwaves of pain through my ribs, my hips and my bladder!
  • He is currently anywhere around 4 pounds and 17 inches long.
  • My ankles and feet are starting to swell. Lately I’ve TRIED to sit down as often as possible, but…you know…kids. Ryan is a MAJOR help whenever he is home. Kinsie usually tries to help, but is often is oblivious, and Brax is just Brax…he doesn’t really understand.
  • Like I said before, my hips are giving out on me. In the evenings in particular they really hurt and I can feel my ligaments stretching, making it painful to walk.
  • My carpal tunnel syndrome is slowly getting worse. It’s not unbearable yet, but I have to sleep every night with wrist braces, and now I wear a brace on my right hand throughout most of the day. The less I use my hands, the better it feels…but its kind of impossible not to use my hands!
  • I developed two new random cravings this month – apple juice and grapes. But not necessarily together.
  • We THINK we have his name picked out…but you’ll have to wait until he’s born to find out!
  • Bright side – at least this quarantine is happening when I’m too physically exhausted to run around anyway!

This photo was taken at 32 weeks – baby was the size of a cantaloupe

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The kids LOVE feeling their brother move. When they snuggle with me on the couch, their hand usually finds my belly and just rests there so they can feel his crazy movements.

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My sweet Kinsie has the tendency to drop something on the ground whenever she is done with it, whether it is a toy, her jacket, her shoes, etc. Ryan and I have been trying to explain that she needs to pick things up and put them in the right spot, especially now to help me out. This message was not quite getting through, so we had to take it a step further. We found a 2 pound medicine ball and wrapped it around her body with seran wrap, then I had her wear it around for a few minutes and try to pick up various things around the kitchen. She was not a fan (she wouldn’t even let me get a picture so I had to sneak one), but she started to understand! Now whenever she starts becoming “unhelpful” again, I remind her of the lesson and she starts to help more. My sister called this lesson “Empathy for the family way!”

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I’ve been trying to soak up my time as just a mom of 2, and trust me, I’ve had LOTS of time with my 2 the last month! They often drive me crazy but goodness I love them and all their crazy and unique idiosyncrasies. I can’t wait to meet this new little one and get to know his unique crazy self too!

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We still had lots of good moments this month, but it definitely was not the month that anyone expected. I am praying constantly that COVID-19 will start to slow down soon so we can all feel safe leaving our homes again and continuing our lives, but I am trying to prepare my mind for the possibility that it could still last a while.

My 2 biggest fears right now are 1) that Ryan gets infected and has to be put on quarantine when the baby comes, and 2) that the virus continues so heavily that the kids won’t get to finish their school year at their schools here in Arkansas. This is supposed to be such an exciting time for us, and the idea of the kids not getting to say goodbye the proper way to their teachers and friends just breaks my heart. With my first fear, I know that its a possibility, but I also know that Ryan is doing everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t happen. He is always wearing his PPE at work, and cleaning and sanitizing himself and all of his materials before he even comes into the house and hugs any of us. This month has proved to me even more that my husband is a freaking rockstar. He is handling everything so well both physically and mentally, AND helping me and the kids through it too. I am so grateful for everything he does for us and the fact that I get to do life with him every day. With the second fear, I know this is also a good possibility, and Kinsie knows it too. I told her that if this happens, we will do whatever we can to make sure she gets to say goodbye to the people she has grown close to here in Arkansas, whether its through FaceTime, or even if we need to come back a few months after we move when this has all been cleared. Only time will tell how the rest of this all plays out.

I’ve come a long way mentally and emotionally in just one month, but I know I have only been given the strength to do that through God. Don’t get me wrong, I still have weak moments…every single day. But I’ve been doing a LOT of praying, talking with family and just focusing on all the good things happening, and that is what is getting me through it. Praying for everyone else out there and hoping you all STAY HOME and STAY HEALTHY!!

Here is our March 2020 1 Second Everyday video…