Fall Update

Hi there! I’m back! We have been SO busy the last 3 months! So many fun and exciting updates! Here we go…

August

The kids all started school in August. Kinsie and Braxton started earlier than Brody, so Brody and I had lots of quality outside time.

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This is the first time since they were little that Kinsie and Brax went to the same school! Kinsie started 3rd grade, and Braxton started 1st grade. They were excited to be in the same school and get to ride the bus together. Brax was a little nervous about starting at a new school, but he quickly got acclimated and soon all the other students and teachers loved him!

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Brody loves when his “Bubby and Sissy” get off the bus! He loves to tell them all about his day.

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Then later in the month, Brody started preschool for the first time! He is in the 2’s class 2 days a week at the Christian preschool that Braxton went to the last few years. I was a little nervous about this one, since Brody is a Covid baby and has spent his entire life in my protection. Drop off was rough the first couple weeks but he has done wonderful! He loves his teacher and the fun activities he gets to do at school! Kinsie and Brax’s school starts later this year, so they get to come with me to drop Brody off on his preschool days, which they love to do!

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Later in August, we went to the Indiana State Fair with my parents and my sister’s family. We hadn’t gone since before Covid, so the kids were so excited!

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Even the dads got to come along for the fun!

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The kids loved all the rides! 

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These cousins had the best time together!

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Here is my 1 Second Everyday video for August!

September

September mainly consisted of baseball, a special wedding and birthday celebrations. Braxton played Fall Baseball and continued to improve on his skills. He is super pumped about baseball right now and enjoys practicing whenever he can. He had a great season!

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In early September, Ryan’s brother, Nate got married! Nate has been with Kendyl for almost a decade, and we absolutely adore her. She has already felt like part of the family for so long, but we were excited to make it official! Kinsie, Brax and Brody all got to be in the wedding along with their cousin Griffin.

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How stinkin’ cute are they!?

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It was such a beautiful evening. The kids had a blast dancing the night away, and we loved watching our sweet Nate marry the love of his life!

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The kids also got to get a few more swimming days in before the pool closed for the winter.

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I got to go with Braxton’s class on their field trip to the Pedan Farm Festival. I loved getting to spend the day with him and his 1st grade buddies!

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Brody upgraded to a big boy bed in September! He LOVES his car bed!

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We loved celebrating our big NINE year old this month! She had a wonderful wonderful full of donuts, cards, pizza, ice cream and a visit from family!

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The next weekend, we had her birthday party with family. First we did a girls cousin date at Brightly Art Studio in Brownsburg, where the girls made puppy houses. 

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Afterwards, we went back to my parents’ house for swimming, dinner and cake. She loved her puppy-themed party and getting to spend the evening with all the people she loves most!

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And here is the 1 Second Everyday video for September.

October

And now for October. Whew it was busy! It seemed to fly by because we always had something going on.

We started the month with IU’s Homecoming parade with some friends.

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Right after the parade, we went to Hoosier Hysteria, the official kickoff to basketball season! This was my kids’ first time in Assembly Hall – somewhere I’ve always loved!

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Then we took a 5 day fall break trip to Disney! My sister’s family was already planning on going, so we tagged along. 

The first day, we took it easy in the morning, then in the afternoon we went to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. It was awesome!! This is a ticketed event, so they limit the capacity so it wasn’t as crowded.

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We had a blast! The kids dressed up in costumes, and we rode lots of rides, watched an amazing Halloween parade and fireworks show, ate lots of yummy treats, and ended our evening with a fantastic Hocus Pocus show. We stayed in the park until about 12:30am, didn’t get in bed until closer to 2am but it was an awesome night and my favorite part of the trip!

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The next day was a break day. We all slept in, then we went to Art of Animation for Brody to see the Cars again (since he was obsessed when we went in April!) then we rode the skyliner.

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Later, we went to Disney Springs for a little while, then we had dinner reservations at Storybook Dining at Wilderness Lodge. Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the Evil Queen were there. The dinner was great and the characters were a lot of fun!

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The next day we went to Animal Kingdom. 

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It was very crowded…much more than it was when we went in April, but thanks to Genie+, we still got to do everything we wanted to do. We even rode Avatar Flight of Passage (our favorite) 3 times! It was a great day!

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For our last day, we went to Epcot. I was so excited since we haven’t been in years. We loved it all. We got to ride the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and it was AMAZING! That was definitely the highlight of our day. We also loved exploring the countries and trying some food and drinks from around the world. It was a great way to end our great trip! 

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When we got back to Indiana, the leaves were in full fall mode – my favorite! Our town in particular is BEAUTIFUL in the fall, and I just can’t get enough of it.

We always spend a day walking around campus and enjoying the beauty. This time we even brought the pup!

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This month I got to go on a field trip with Kinsie’s class! We also went to a farm, but a different one then what Brax’s class went to. It was pretty cold, but we still had a great time!

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The kids’ school had a “Spooktacular Night” fall festival. The kids loved dressing up and seeing their friends and teachers!

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The kids loved doing our traditional Halloween cookie decorating! Brody even got to participate this year. He took it very seriously and he loved it!

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Our yard has been the BEST place to play in the leaves! The kids and Evie have loved running around and jumping in the leaves. It’s been the best way to wear Evie out!

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We even got to have Griffin over to enjoy playing in the leaves too!

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This has been a big month for Braxton! He lost not one, but TWO teeth! 

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We loved getting to spend an evening at the pumpkin patch this month. It was a beautiful night! 

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The kids loved the hayride, the corn maze and the tractor ride!

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And of course we had to make time for our favorite Halloween activity – pumpkin carving!

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Kinsie and Brax did theirs completely on their own this year! Kinsie made Zero (the dog from the Nightmare Before Christmas), Braxton made Stitch, and Brody made Lightning McQueen (with mom’s help of course!)

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And Ryan and I continued our intense pumpkin carvings as well – despite the fact that we had a toddler and a crazy stir crazy puppy running around the house! Ryan made Vecna (from Stranger Things) and I made a sugar skull for Dia de los Muertos.

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To finish our month, we went trick-or-treating with some of the kids’ friends from school! Kinsie was an artist, Braxton was a baseball player and Brody was Lightning McQueen. They had the best time!

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And finally, here is our October 1 Second Everyday video!

You will more than likely hear from me again in a few more months…probably after Christmas. With life as busy and crazy as it has been, it is much more manageable to post every few months. Thanks for understanding!

A Magical Month

We had a very busy and exciting month! It was exhausting, but for all good reasons. I’ll just get right into it…

Meet Evie!

We got a new pup!! As you know, we lost our beloved Koda last September, and our home just hasn’t been the same since. Ryan and the kids would have gotten a new pup immediately, but with the chaos of life, and upcoming winter, and my wild toddler, I knew it was best to wait a little while. After about 6 months (the longest Ryan and I have ever been without a dog), we were ready. We had intense puppy fever, so we started the search of adopting a pup. After several weeks of watching on the Pet Finder website, we came across this precious little Shepard mix about an hour away. We planned to meet up with her foster, and we pretty much knew we’d be coming home with a puppy! We fell in love with her immediately and brought her home that day!

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Love at first sight!

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Evie has adjusted very well to our home. She is still getting the hang of potty training and learning what is or isn’t an appropriate thing to chew on or bite, but she’s definitely making progress. She is very smart, sweet, energetic, and mischievous. She knows the commands of sit, come, lay down, and with me (heal). Her favorite things to chew on are shoes, socks, and Brody (don’t worry…just his pants. She is a Shepard mix, so we think she is trying to “herd” him!) She loves being outside and finding anything in nature to eat…rocks, leaves, sticks, mulch, you name it. She is an exhausting little thing (especially combined with my already crazy toddler), but we absolutely adore her!

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Take me out to the Ballgame!

Baseball and softball season are officially underway. Kinsie and Brax have both had their first games, and their season is off to a great start. Brax had a serious case of the jitters before his first game, but once he started playing, he loosened up and had a great time. Kinsie started out strong and received the game ball at her first game! She was so excited, and she had a whole fan club of family members there to see!

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Brody tags along to each game happily…but he’s mainly in it for the snacks!

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My parents love coming to the kids’ games, and they try to bring along their cousins whenever they can. The kids loved getting to play together on the playground after one of Brax’s games!

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Easter

Easter snuck up on us quickly. Between having a new puppy to care for, and preparing for our upcoming vacation, we had to squeeze in all of our Easter festivities into one weekend.

We baked and decorated our Easter cookies…

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and we dyed Easter eggs…

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On Easter Sunday, we spent the entire day with both of our families. We watched church online in the morning with my parents, then we headed over to Ryan’s aunt’s house for Easter fun. They had an awesome Easter egg hunt, and lots of food and treats. The kids had SO much fun with ALL of their cousins!

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Kinsie and her cousins Kerigan and Emery are all the same age. Their birthdays are in September, November and December of the same year, so they have always been very close. When they were only 3 years old, before we moved to Arkansas for residency, they were all on the same soccer team, and their dads were the coaches. This picture comes up on our Timehop every year, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to reenact it! We even all still had their jerseys! So the pictures below are 5 years apart!

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The kids had so much fun riding on cars and ATVs and exploring the creek. It was a wonderful Easter!

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The Great Outdoors

We are still going strong on our 1,000 Hours Outside goal. Now that it isn’t winter, we try to spend at least a little time outside every single day…and having Evie helps us with that. We have to take her out to go potty often, and she LOVES being outside so she motivates us to be outside more. We love taking her on walks, and the kids love running around with her in the yard. 

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And I love spending time with my sweet boys while their sis is at school!

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Rainy Days

We had a LOT of rain this month. It definitely made it tough to potty train a puppy. But whenever we couldn’t be outside, we tried to find things to keep us busy inside.

Like puzzles…

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And drawing the family tree of the Madrigal family from Encanto…

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And organizing craft time,

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And even making nugget slides on the stairs!

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There’s never a dull moment in our house!

DISNEY/UNIVERSAL TRIP

We were so excited to get the opportunity to travel back to Disney World and Universal Studios! The last time we went on a week-long trip there was in 2019…pre-pandemic and pre-Brody. In fact, I was about 12 weeks pregnant with Brody, so I wasn’t able to ride a lot of the rides that I love. Now that Brody is old enough to really enjoy it, and the pandemic has improved significantly, we couldn’t wait to go back! When Ryan’s mom sent the whole family a text message asking if we would want to use their time share and make a trip in April, we were all in!

For those of you who have been to Disney lately, you know that you can’t just show up and start riding rides anymore. It takes months of planning…like trying to snag popular dining reservations, syncing up your entire party together on the My Disney Experience app, learning how Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes work, mapping out your general strategy for park days, and making shirts for each park day…ok that last part isn’t 100% necessary, but I’m obsessed with making shirts with my Cricut, so it was necessary for me! But it’s a LOT of work, but definitely worth it! Ryan’s sister Megan and I tag-teamed to prepare for the best trip possible!

Day 1- Traveling and Disney Springs

Our flight was in the morning and was a direct flight, which was really nice not to have to switch planes with 3 kids. We were on the same flight as Ryan’s parents and his brother Nate and his fiance, Kendyl, so it was nice having lots of help with carrying luggage and keeping track of kids! The kids were great on the plane, and we overall had a very smooth traveling experience.

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We headed straight to Disney Springs, where we met up with Ryan’s sister Megan, and her husband Tim and son Griffin. I had been trying to get a reservation at the T-Rex Cafe for months, but none became available. After learning some tips and tricks from friends and Facebook groups, I was able to snag 2 tables for all of us on the spot! We loved the experience! It was such a fun environment, and the kids loved watching the dinosaurs come to life and watch the meteor showers on the ceiling.

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After eating, we walked around Disney Springs, shopped at the stores, and ate ice cream. Then we went to our condo, unpacked and prepared for our first park day.

Day 2- Disney’s Animal Kingdom

To be honest, I’ve never been THAT crazy about Animal Kingdom…it seemed like a glorified zoo to me. But Ryan and the kids love it so I always went for them. HOWEVER…my opinion on it has changed over the last few visits, and now I absolutely love it! This was our first experience using Genie+ and it worked SO well. We rode all of the main rides we wanted to ride early on, and then got to just relax and explore and try fun foods and drinks, and even ride a few rides for the second time in the afternoon

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We loved all of the animals!

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Avatar’s Pandora is our FAVORITE area of Animal Kingdom!

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We loved the Night Blossom drink in Pandora.

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One dining reservation we were able to get early on was lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, which is a character meal. Disney just changed their policy within the last few weeks so that guests can now get close to and hug the characters again! Brody was in a weird mood after his stroller nap, and didn’t love the idea of getting super close to the characters, but he liked watching them and waving to them. The food was wonderful and we had a great meal!

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We even got to do a few rides more than once. The kids loved the Triceratops Spin! Kinsie and Brax were both big enough to ride Avatar’s Flight of Passage, which is my favorite! They loved it just as much as I do.This ride is the most popular ride at this park, so we had to buy an Individual Lightning Lane pass for it, but it was worth it! And right before park close, we decided to run back over to Pandora to get in line to ride it again! It was a great way to end the day! 

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Day 3- Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Whenever we do an Orlando trip, we always make time for Universal Studios as well. For me, it is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that always brings me back!

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Kinsie and Brax are both more into Harry Potter now than they were a few years ago, and have even read the first few books with us, so I loved getting to share these experiences with them. They loved drinking butter beer and getting candy at Honeydukes. Kinsie was tall enough to ride Forbidden Journey, which she loved, and we rode it 3 times! Brax got to ride Flight of the Hippogriff and he was obsessed! Brody wasn’t quite big enough to ride those rides yet, but he was happy as can be with a “chocolate frog” lollipop that Grandma bought him from Honeydukes!

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Universal Studios was crowded, and does not have a system like Disney for avoiding lines (unless you get an Express pass which costs an arm and a leg), so we just had to kick it the old fashioned way and wait to ride the rides with lower wait times. We were very efficient with our time, and were able to ride everything we wanted to, and never had to wait more than 30-40 minutes. We even got to ride Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure, which usually has a wait time of well over an hour. Ryan got to go on this ride in 2019, but I didn’t because I was pregnant. This time, Kinsie and I both got to ride on it together and we loved it!!

The kids enjoyed seeing characters, and Brax loved the Jurassic Park area! And I am so thankful for Ryan’s parents for hanging out with Brody while Ryan and I went on bigger rides with the big kids!

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Day 4- Disney’s Hollywood Studios

This is where we went in February, and where Brody had his first Disney experience, so we were excited to go back! Since February, the kids have gotten more into Star Wars, so Ryan was especially excited to explore more of Galaxy’s Edge with them. Right away, when we got to the gate, we could tell it was going to be a crowded day. Somehow, after lots of persistence and constant refreshing of my app, I still managed to snag some Individual Lightning Lane passes for Rise of the Resistance, which is the hardest ride to get into in all of Disney right now! Because the park was so crowded, and everyone was booking their Genie+ passes, ALL of our Genie+ windows weren’t until the afternoon. And all of the rides had way too long of waits to stand in with little kids. So we wandered around a lot and saw some characters and shows.

Brody was hit or miss with characters this trip. He LOVED seeing Olaf, and continuously hugged him and even tried to take him with us as we left the room. He also loved watching Chip and Dale in the courtyard. But he didn’t want to hug Pluto, he was more comfortable keeping his distance!

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The first half of the day was tough. It was unbelievably hot and crowded, and it was hard to get anywhere or do anything with the crowds and the long lines. I still am thankful for Genie+ though, because even though our passes weren’t until the afternoon, we were able to ride all the rides we wanted to because of it…just later in the day. Slinky Dog Dash was still a favorite, along with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Toy Story Mania. We enjoyed spending more time exploring Galaxy’s Edge, and got to ride all of the Star Wars rides.

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One dining reservation I worked really hard to get was at Oga’s Cantina. It’s a bar-type hangout in Galaxy’s Edge with really fun drinks. We always like to try something different every time we go, and we’re never disappointed! Brody fell asleep right before our reservation, so we carried him in and he napped in the booth while we enjoyed our drinks. We also loved the famous blue milk at Galaxy’s Edge!

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One of the highlights of the day for the big kids was building their own droids. Kinsie learned about this during our February trip, and it was all she talked about since! So I made sure to make reservations as soon as I could so she could experience it. And Brax loves all the droids on Star Wars, so I knew he would love it too. It was such a neat experience!

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We love Toy Story Land. It is one of our favorite parts of Hollywood Studios. However, it was unbearably crowded during the day. We didn’t get to enjoy it at all…until evening! After droid building and a quick dinner, we had a Genie+ pass for Alien Swirling Saucers, and then we were able to jump in line for Slinky Dog Dash five minutes before park close. It was AWESOME at night! By the time we were off the ride, the park was closed, so we got to walk through Toy Story Land and finally admire it with the beautiful lights and empty walkways. It was glorious!

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Day 5- Break Day

After 3 park days in a row, we were ready for our “rest” day. We slept in (as much as my kids do), relaxed in the condo for a while, then went out for a small adventure. I really wanted to see some of the other Disney resorts, and the kids wanted to ride the skyliner. We went to the bus station at Disney Springs, where Brody was in heaven!! He LOVES any and all buses…but Disney buses are his favorite! He was awestruck when he actually got to ride on a Disney bus to the resort!

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We went to the Art of Animation resort because I’d seen pictures of it and I knew my kids would love it. Brody LOVED all the Cars statues! 

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After exploring the resort for a while, the kids were getting hungry and wanting to swim at the resort, so we hopped on the skyliner and took a quick ride to another resort. From there, we took a bus back to Disney Springs, ate lunch, then headed back to our resort.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, playing in the splash pad and floating down the lazy river. It was exactly what we needed! We ate dinner at a restaurant at the resort, then walked around watching ducks, fish, and the sunset. It was a relaxing evening, and gave us the rest we needed before another park day!

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Day 6- Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom has always been my favorite. It doesn’t necessarily have my favorite rides, and it is always super crowded and overwhelming, but it is the most magical. I love all the parades, random shows, and the fireworks. I especially love when I get to bring one of my kids for their first trip and seeing the magic through their eyes!

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We booked Genie+ passes for the rides we knew would have long waits, but we still had plenty of rides that we were able to just walk right on, or have very short waits. We started our morning riding Small World, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, and eventually made our way over to watch the Country Bear Jamboree and the Enchanted Tiki Room, which Brody was obsessed with! Magic Kingdom definitely has the most rides that Brody could actually ride, so he loved every minute! We got an Individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and I’m so glad we did because it was really cute! (It’s usually over an hour wait) We fit in SO many rides in one day…and we were able to ride on rides that we haven’t done in years because they usually have too long of a wait. Thank you Genie+!

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We were so excited that the Festival of Fantasy parade was back! Watching it with Kinsie and Brax when they were little are some of my favorite memories, and I couldn’t wait to watch it with Brody too. He absolutely loved it…especially Chip and Dale!

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We didn’t see a ton of characters outside of the parade and calvacades…mainly because we were so busy hopping on and off rides. We did run into Stitch though and snapped a quick pic! 

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We ended up using a Genie+ pass on meeting Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater because there was a long line for it all day, and we never got to see him at Hollywood Studios for that same reason. Brody was being really shy again and didn’t want me to put him down, but he enjoyed saying hi to him while in my arms.

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Another priority for me this trip was trying more of the unique snacks that Disney has to offer. That was part of all the prep work I did…finding the best snacks! The dole whip was a classic that turned out to still be our favorite!

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We watched the fireworks show, and it was absolutely amazing. There are no fireworks like Disney fireworks! This is always the most crowded part of the day, and can often get frustrating…but I tried to stay in the moment and not let rude people get to me and ruin the magic. I will admit, I shed a few tears as I watched the fireworks over Cinderella castle for the first time with my little Brody while he rested his head on my shoulder!

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After the fireworks, we still had around 2 hours before the park closed. We had a Lightning Lane pass to use for Splash Mountain since the ride closed down earlier in the day while we were in line. Kinsie opted out of that one, but Brax loved it. Kinsie and Brax also both rode Space Mountain. Brody soon fell asleep so Grandma Bev stayed with him while we did a few more rides with the big kids. We finished the night with Mickey’s PhilarMagic, a 3D show that we all love. When the show was over, the park was closed and everyone was heading out of the park. So I had to snap one more pic in front of the castle since it wasn’t crowded anymore!

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14 hours and 30,000 steps later, Braxton was out! Brody and Griffin were already asleep for a little while, so Kinsie was the last kid standing as we left the park around midnight! It was SUCH a busy, exhausting day, but it was absolutely amazing!

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Day 7- Universal Studios

Last park day. We were up really late the night before from Magic Kingdom, and Universal Studios was our last stop…and it opened at 8am. So we started our day tired already, but we powered through since it was our last day!

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On our first Universal day, the Hogwarts Express broke down right before we were about to ride it to the other park. So we made sure we started our morning at Diagon Alley…my absolute favorite!

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The kids also enjoyed seeing the Knight Bus, and seeing Creacher the house elf peek out of the curtains of Number 12 Grimwald Place.

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Since the kids are really into Harry Potter, we decided to do the Wand Experience at Olivander’s Wand Shop. Kinsie was chosen to do some spells to find the perfect wand match! A special wand chose her, and she was over the moon! It was such a special experience that she’ll never forget!

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We also ate lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, drank more butter beer, and had ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.

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Afterwards, we finally got to ride the Hogwarts Express. Brody is obsessed with cars, trucks, buses and trains right now so he was SO excited to ride the choo-choo! He seriously could not contain his excitement, and he danced and squealed around happily as he waited to ride, and during the entire ride!

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We spent the rest of the day riding all of the rides that we hadn’t done yet, and we were completely exhausted by around 4pm. The park closed at 6pm that evening anyway, so we called it an early evening and went back to the condo to relax and get ready to head home the next day. 

Disney vacations are always so busy and tiring, but so amazing. We always make so many wonderful memories, and I love experiencing it with my kids at their different ages. 

And that was our April! It is hard to believe that it is already May and the kids will be done with another school year soon. Life has seemed a lot more normal for us lately since Covid numbers have been so low, and I’m not going to lie…it feels so nice. Praying that things continue to move in the right direction!

Enjoy our April 1 Second Everyday!

 

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!