August Adventures

We are continuing to make strides in the process of getting settled in our new home in Little Rock. Some days are easier than others for sure, but we are making the best of it. This month, Ryan worked mostly evening or night shifts…so he would either work from 3pm-1am or 9pm-7am. This was harder on me than I expected. We were on complete opposite schedules. We would see him for about 30 minutes in the morning before he went to sleep, and for maybe 2 hours in the evening between him waking up and going back to work. We are always grateful for the time we have with him, but its hard putting the kids to bed by myself on evening shift nights, and going to bed alone every night. Once the kids went to bed was usually the time that we finally got to relax and enjoy each other’s company without children climbing all over us and demanding our attention. Even though we barely spent any time together this month, we found creative ways of showing each other love!

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I went through a funk this month because of all the time I spent alone, but I also was reminded to rely on my faith to get through difficult times. Throughout the last couple of weeks, I can feel Jesus working on my heart and helping me become more content in my circumstances.

It is still pretty darn humid here in Arkansas, so we’ve continued to try to stay busy and cool this month! Ryan had about one day a week off, so we would always try to do something fun as a family on those days. Here are some of the things we did this past month!

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The Library system in Central Arkansas has a program called “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” I entered Kinsie into this program since she loves reading and I’m trying to teach her about setting goals. We started the program at the end of July, and she has already hit the 200 mark! Every time she fills a sheet, she gets so excited to turn it in and get her next sticker!

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Staying Home

Let’s face it…sometimes it’s just easier to stay home. We still try to get out of the house at least once a day for all of our sanity, but honestly, the kids are usually pretty content to stay home and play!

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Play dough fun…Brax was upset that he couldn’t eat it at first, but he got over it!

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Playing in the fort that Daddy helped them build

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Chocolate pudding night!

Play Dates and Outings

About once a week, we’ve been getting together with some of the other residents’ wives and kids for a play date. I have gotten pretty close with a few of them, and I am so grateful that they include me every time they go out. This has helped my sanity being with other adults throughout the day, and the kids love having other kids to play with. This has also helped us get out and about more and find new places to explore.

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Play places and crafts

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“Baking” at the Children’s Library

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Donut date with mom!

Outside Play

We haven’t gotten out as much as we all would have liked because of the heat, but it’s slowly getting better. Whenever we find a day that we can actually breathe outside, we take advantage! We found the cutest little play house for a bargain at Walmart, so the kids have been all about that lately. We also love making our way to the park by our house whenever we can.

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Pinnacle Mountain State Park Nature Center

Pinnacle Mountain was one of our favorite things about Little Rock when Ryan and I first visited. We haven’t taken the kids up the mountain yet since its been too hot, but someday we definitely want to. Every time we drive and see the mountain, Kinsie tells us she wants to hike up the mountain! In the mean time, we just visit the Nature Center there. On one of Ryan’s days off, they were having special presentations and activities dealing with amphibians and reptiles, some of Kinsie’s faves. The kids loved the view and learning about animals.

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Having S’more Fun!

Kinsie has been asking to do s’mores for MONTHS now. We had a small fire pit at the old house but didn’t bring it with us, so we had to find a new one for a good deal first. Once we found one, and bought some firewood, we had to wait for an evening that Ryan was off. For the longest time, every time he had an evening off, it was pouring down rain. We FINALLY got the opportunity and the kids were pumped! Kinsie bought a new shirt at Bass Pro Shops that says “Have S’more Fun,” so she couldn’t wait to make s’mores with her new shirt. The kids “helped” make the fire, and then got busy roasting marshmallows. Brax was OBSESSED with the fire…so much so that one of us had to hold him to keep him away from the fire THE WHOLE TIME. Once he shared a s’more with dad though, he was good!

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Solar Eclipse Day

Ryan has been excited about this day for far too long! My science nerd husband bought the glasses and special solar binoculars months ago. He was THRILLED to learn that he had that day off…the odds were definitely in his favor! We went to the Big Dam Bridge for the event. Brax obviously didn’t know what was going on, but he had fun running around the bridge. Kinsie thought it was pretty cool and loved looking at the eclipse with her glasses. I brought toys and books for the kids to keep them entertained while we were there and even though it cut into Brax’s nap time, it was well worth it and the kids did great! It was such a neat experience for all of us!

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Little Rock Zoo

Ryan had a couple days off last week before starting his next rotation, so we spent a day at the zoo. The weather was surprisingly perfect. The kids especially loved the gorillas, the elephants, the train ride, the petting zoo and the penguins. We had a great family day!

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First Soccer Practice

Kinsie had her first soccer practice this week, and it was….interesting I guess? Kinsie said she had fun, but practice was run very differently than what we are used to. They had ALL the kids in her age level in the same practice with only 2 coaches. Eventually they split the kids up and did a few drills and a scrimmage and once they did that, Kinsie was in her element. Ryan just started his very busy rotation and is working 12-14 hour shifts, so I had both kids at practice and was trying to help Kinsie know what to do amidst the chaos, and chase after Brax at the same time! It was chaotic, and a bit stressful, and I am hoping the organization of practices improves. Kinsie still had fun and played well, so I guess that’s all that matters. I am hopeful that she’ll meet some friends and enjoy her soccer season like she has in the past!

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That was our month in a nut shell. Kinsie starts preschool after Labor Day, so that will be exciting and should keep us busy. She’s super excited to start school, and I am very hopeful that we will love the preschool we picked out. Ryan just started a tough rotation, so we won’t be seeing much of him again. The last two weeks of September, the kids and I will fly to Indiana for a couple of weeks and spend Kinsie’s birthday with our families. I am aching to see our families again…that is by far the hardest part about being here. From seeing them several times a week to every other month or less has been very difficult. This two weeks at home will be good for all of us and we are all looking forward to it. Like I said before, we are slowly making progress with this adjustment. God is helping me through my own personal challenges with this big change, and I can feel him working on my heart every day. I am hopeful that time will help us continue to adjust.

Puppies and Pumpkins

Ever since I stopped dressing up and trick-or-treating, I have never been that super crazy about Halloween….until I had a child. Now I think that Halloween is even more fun with a child than when I was a child! Kinsie got really into Halloween this year, as soon as costumes and decorations started being sold in stores. I wanted her to pick what she would be for Halloween, so we thought about the things that she was into at the time and gave her a choice. She chose a dalmatian puppy. We found lots of opportunities throughout the month for her to wear her costume. We went to Zoo Boo, then we went to a kids Halloween party at Heritage Lake, we went trick-or-treating on Halloween night, and then finally went to a costume cookout at my sister’s. Kinsie was always such a happy puppy. I may have to take her puppy costume with us everywhere we go just in case she is in a bad mood…it would perk her right up!

Like I mentioned in my last post, Kinsie was quite the little pumpkin picker. We let her decide what she wanted on her pumpkin, and, to no surprise at all, she wanted Olaf. We also let her help us pick out what we would put on our pumpkins, so we went with Shrek and a dinosaur. We let her help clean out her pumpkin and collect the seeds so I could bake them. We weren’t sure what she would think of the slimy pumpkin guts, but she didn’t mind at all! She was really excited about her Olaf pumpkin when we finished carving it. Then later that night after she went to bed, we carved Shrek and the dinosaur (while watching Hocus Pocus of course). When Kinsie woke up the next morning, she was super excited about all three of her pumpkins!

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The week before Halloween, Heritage Lake was hosting a kids Halloween party. We got Kinsie suited up and took her, and it was a lot of fun and perfect for her age. They had crafts, snacks, carnival games, a cake walk, and dinner. She did that cake walk for a good 30 minutes and every other kid around her would win, but not her. She was determined to stay until she won. Finally, with us and the people in charge of the walk rooting for her, she won! She was pumped about her cupcake prize! Another one of the highlights of the night was the tattoo station. Kinsie got to pick out which tattoo she wanted, and of course she picked the dinosaur. She was so proud of her tattoo, she would show everyone and even talk about it in her sleep!

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Halloween fell on a Saturday, so Kinsie had soccer that morning. The kids were encouraged to wear their costumes, so of course Kinsie was down for that. She has soccer class with her cousin Kerigan, and her third cousin, Emery…so the girls (and Briggs) had fun running around playing soccer in their costumes. Kinsie loves playing soccer, but she is often anti-following directions in class. Not this week…I swear, that puppy costume works wonders!

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For Halloween night, we went to my parents’ neighborhood, and Ryan’s parents and brother joined us. We just trick-or-treated around their cul-de-sac, and as soon as we got back around to my parents, it started raining…but by that time, Kinsie’s little puppy legs were getting tired anyway. She was so cute trick-or-treating, and she thought it was so much fun! She has never really had much candy in her life, but she was excited about all the candy she was getting. When we got back to my parents, she enjoyed helping pass out candy to other trick-or-treaters. I let her have a couple pieces of candy, which kept her occupied most of the evening while we watched Hocus Pocus (yes, again…there is no limit as to how many times I can watch it during the Halloween season). Kinsie had such a fun night, and, a week later, she is still carrying around her pumpkin full of candy everywhere she goes!

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The next evening, my sister had a little costume cookout for our family and some close friends. The kids had one more opportunity to wear their costumes, so they were ready to party. We had food, sat around the fire, and let the kids run around and make forts in their costumes. It was a lot of fun!

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Once Halloween was officially over, Kinsie got pretty upset, especially when our neighbor put away his big inflatable black cat and gargoyle (she loved looking at them through the window every night). But we had to remind her, that now Christmas will be coming soon, and we can celebrate that. She is already talking about Santa Claus and Christmas trees! Like I said before, holidays are so much more fun with a child!

Spring has sprung!

I am so excited that it is finally SPRING!!! While this past winter wasn’t near as bad as last year, it is always so refreshing to be done with the cold, dreary winter in Indiana…especially when you have a crazy toddler and a very small house! We took her out to play in the snow one day, and she was less than thrilled. She didn’t mind sitting in her little car, or when we held her, but she wasn’t crazy about playing or even standing in the snow. She’s definitely my child!

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Kinsie has been pumped about the fact that we can go outside and play now. She makes sure I take her out every possible chance we get. I had a 2-week spring break, which is always much needed. The first week was cold and rainy, so Kinsie and I had to get creative on how to spend our days. We spent a few days in Muncie with Ryan, went shopping, and watched “Pups” (101 Dalmatians) a few more hundred times. Even when it was raining, she was always looking out the window telling me she wanted to go “outhide,” or go “wee” (swing). So of course as soon as the rain stopped and the temperatures broke 50 degrees, we were outside and she was in heaven. We have a great fenced-in backyard with lots of stuff to entertain her. She loves sidewalk chalk, bubbles, her water table, and finding leaves, rocks, sticks, and worms! Yes, this girl likes to make friends with worms.

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Kinsie is obsessed with going to the playground. She loves to swing and go down the slide. Her newest thing is going down the slide head first. Of course we are always waiting at the bottom to catch her though! Spring break_117

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We also had a very busy and beautiful Easter weekend. Kinsie is getting to the age where she understands so much more and is so much fun during holidays. She was really into all the eggs and bunnies (she calls them “hop hops”). While we were in Muncie, we went to the mall and I’ve always thought the Easter bunny was kinda creepy, but she saw it and loved it! She kept yelling “hop hop!” and laughed when it waved to her. On Easter Sunday, we went to church and heard another amazing service with 138 baptisms over the entire weekend! After church we had brunch and an Easter egg hunt at my sister’s house. The kids LOVED their Easter egg hunt! Kinsie literally could have done this all day.

After Kinsie’s nap, we went to Ryan’s aunt’s house where she got to do another Easter egg hunt and play with some of her cousins. Finally, we went to my parents house for dinner. Since the kids had so much fun with their egg hunt earlier, we had another one for them so they were pretty excited! Easter is such a special day to me because it is a reminder of the amazing grace that Jesus has for us. It is really important to me that Kinsie, and my future children understand why we celebrate Easter and what the Easter bunny and Easter eggs represent. As young as she is, I made a point to read books about the story of Easter and tell her all about Jesus. Hopefully as the years go on she will learn what it means to accept Jesus into her heart too. It was a busy Easter, but I was so grateful that we got to spend it with the people that we love most!

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Happy spring everyone!!

A Tribute to Cecilia, Carson and Scotty

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later. Romans 8:18

Within the past few weeks, there have been several tragedies in the lives of people that I know. Each of these tragedies have struck me to my core not only because people that I know are suffering tremendously, but also because all 3 tragedies somehow involve a baby. Having a 7 month old daughter myself, I have had extra empathy. I haven’t quite figured out the best way to grieve or show my condolences for these families, but this blog post is a start…

Jennifer (Swihart) Trapuzzano was a classmate of mine at Avon High School. While we were not real close ourselves, we had many mutual friends and every time I came in contact with Jennifer, she was nothing but kind and genuine. As many of you have seen or heard on the news, Jennifer’s husband, Nathan, was out for a walk on the morning of April 1 when he was viciously mugged, shot and killed. It’s a tragic loss of not only a husband, but also a soon-to-be father, as Jennifer is 8 months pregnant with their first child, a daughter to be named Cecilia. Nathan’s death was completely senseless and left a wife without her husband and an unborn baby without her daddy. The news of this tragedy has spread like wildfire, and thousands of friends, family and strangers have sent donations to Jennifer to provide for baby Cecilia, totaling over $170,000. Nathan had a very close relationship with Christ that he shared every chance he got, and his story has caused many people to turn to Christ themselves. Learn more about their story here.

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Jessica (Wager) Broady was also someone who attending high school with me. She was a year older than me, but we had many mutual friends. Jessica was always very upbeat and friendly to anyone she surrounded herself with. On the evening of April 12, Jessica was in a deadly car accident, leaving behind a husband and an 8-month old son named Carson. This sudden tragedy shocked everyone who knew her, and left us all heartbroken. It was very obvious that Jessica absolutely adored her sweet boy, and now the poor baby won’t get to grow up in his mommy’s arms. However, Carson is surrounded with many wonderful family members who are embracing him and loving on him in every possible way.

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Jess (Hoffman) Kim is someone I met in college at Indiana University through mutual friends. I only hung out with her a few times, but each time she was extremely pleasant to me. Jess gave birth to twins, Scott and Logan just a few days after I had Kinsie. I always enjoyed seeing pictures and videos of her precious boys on Facebook. At only 6 months old, Scott passed away for unknown reasons. When I heard of this news, I was completely torn apart. I never even met the twins, but the thought of an innocent child losing his life before even a year old is more than I can bare. Jess has set up a website for people to share their thoughts and to honor this sweet boy’s memory.

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As a new mother myself, each of these stories has hit close to home. I just can’t even begin to imagine what these families are going through. Not only do I mourn for these families, but I especially pray for each and every one of these children. The main reason I wanted to become a teacher was to make a difference in the lives of children. In my school, there are many students whom were born into broken, unstable homes, or have been placed in unfortunate circumstances through no fault of their own. I just want to take these kids home with me to protect them from their unfair situations. Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing a child suffer, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally. If I could save every child in the world from any harm or suffering, I would do it in a heartbeat. Life can be so unfair, and we will never understand any of it until we join Jesus in heaven. When I have gone through a tragedy myself, I really struggled with why God would let something like this happen. After many prayers and countless hours with my Bible, I came to the conclusion that God isn’t responsible for bad things happening in our lives. He is incapable of doing evil. Not only is Satan causing corruption in our every day lives and blaming God for it, but we also have been given free will, which in turn causes many terrible things to happen. When God’s children are weeping, He is weeping right along side of us and carrying us the entire way. We just have to let Him.

 

Cecilia, Carson, and Scotty…

Each of you, being so young, have already suffered a great tragedy. Your lives have not started out, or ended,  very fairly. However, you have many people around you that love you so much and would do anything to protect you from harm. Cecilia, your mother is unbelievably strong and has a wonderful faith in God that I’m sure she will instill in you. Even though you never got to meet your daddy, he loved you with all of his heart, and he will always be watching over you along with your Heavenly Father. Carson, you may not remember your mommy someday, but she absolutely adored you. It was obvious in the way that she talked about you and looked at you. Even though she may no longer be here in a physical sense, she will always be with you wherever you go. Scotty, I never got the chance to meet you myself, but I could see through pictures how cheerful and rambunctious you were. Even though you were only here for a short time, you made an impression on so many lives, and you will never be forgotten. Even in the wake of disaster in all three of your lives, you have been blessed by the outpouring of love that people have shown you and your families. You are all so loved, and not only by those here on Earth, but especially by your Heavenly Father. Take comfort in that forever.

Easter Blessings

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live ever after dying. And whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11:25-26

Our first Easter as a family of 3 was a wonderful one! Not only did we get to spend the entire day together and with family and good friends, but it was also a beautiful day! Kinsie is getting more of a glimpse into the Spring season and so far, she is loving it! We started the day by attending the Easter service at Traders Point. Our pastor had an amazing message about the true meaning of Easter and how monumental it really is. If you weren’t able to attend an Easter service on Sunday, or you just want to hear a powerful sermon, I would highly recommend listening to ours here. We absolutely LOVE our church and are so grateful for the Spiritual growth we have made since we became members a little over a year ago. Every year on Easter, they have a “spontaneous baptism,” where people who are feeling moved by the Holy Spirit can get baptized right then and there during worship. It is unbelievable and such a powerful way to respond to the Gospel! It was on Easter last year that Ryan officially gave his life to Christ and got baptized. It was a moment I will cherish in my heart forever.

After church, we went to my parents’ house for brunch and an Easter egg hunt for the kids. Now I know our crew only consists of a 2-year-old and 2 babies under the age of 1, but we wanted to live it up for our first Easter with the girls. They loved it! Briggs ran around and collected eggs for himself, Kinsie and Kerigan. Ryan and I took turns walking Kinsie around to collect eggs that she could reach, and to be honest, she really seemed uninterested. In fact, she was much more interested in the grass, mulch and tree bark. She is definitely her father’s daughter!

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Kinsie enjoying the gifts that the Easter Bunny brought her!

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Easter Egg Hunt with the kiddos!

We spent the rest of the day with the family relaxing in the beautiful weather. Days like this where we can all be together are such a blessing, especially since Ryan, Kinsie, and I don’t get as much time together as we’d like. Whenever we do though, we embrace every second!

 

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As many of you know, I’ve been really into photography lately, and like to practice my new hobby any chance I get. It just so happens that I have a beautiful little model who is usually willing and happy to help her mommy out. We had a fun little Easter photo shoot, with the help of daddy making our sweet girl grin from ear to ear!

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Happy Easter from the Matthews family!

Back to Work

This last week was one of the hardest, most exhausting weeks of my life. After 3 months of maternity leave and 5 extra snow days, I had to go back to work. I knew it was going to be hard, but it is impossible to describe just how hard it actually was. If you are a mom and have gone through this, you know what I mean!

I was so lucky to have 3 wonderful months off of work for maternity leave. Even though it wasn’t the best decision for us financially, I knew I would not regret that extra time with my new baby and that it would be completely worth it. I am also so lucky to have both of Kinsie’s grandmas, and her Aunt Megan, available and willing to watch Kinsie during the week while I’m at work. The fact that she was with the people who love her as much as Ryan and I do was very comforting, and I knew my girl was in good hands.

To say that I was a little emotional is a huge understatement. I was a mess! On Monday morning, after getting myself ready for work, feeding Kinsie and gathering all of her things to spend the day with Grandma Bev, I still had about 15 minutes left before we needed to go. During that time, I snuggled with my baby…and cried. A lot. Ever since she was born, I have spend almost every hour of the day with her, and now I was about to spend 9 hours away from her every day. I just couldn’t swallow that idea. Once we got to Bev’s, I snuggled with Kinsie a little more. And cried a little more. I knew she would have fun with her grandma, I just didn’t want to leave her. I finally got in my car and drove to school…and cried a little more. Call me over-emotional all you want, you probably wouldn’t understand unless you’re a mom! I was proud of myself for only crying 3 times that day!

Once I got to school, I freshened up my make up and was welcomed back with open arms by my staff. I work with all women, so most of them had been through it all before and knew how I was feeling. They comforted me with hugs, gave me advice on the best places in the school to pump, and encouraged me by telling me that it WILL get easier. And I knew they were right. Once the kids got there, we had a great day. They were really excited to have me back and we spent most of the day just talking and getting reacquainted. I stayed busy enough that I got through the day pretty well, with the help of Bev sending me pictures and updates of my girl. She was happy and having fun, so that helped me carry on.

Once 4:00pm struck, I couldn’t have left the building faster. I needed to see my baby. I needed to touch her and hold her. The 9 hour work day felt like a week and I couldn’t get back soon enough to be reunited with Kinsie. We spent the rest of the evening playing and snuggling, and before I knew it, it was time to go to bed and do the whole thing again.

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The next day, I took Kinsie to my mom’s, where I cried when I dropped her off. Again. I’m pretty sure I cried each morning until Friday. I had another great school day and my mom sent me pictures throughout the day. I could tell Kinsie was having a blast, so again, that helped me get through the day. Each day did get a little better, and I stayed so busy that the days seemed to go pretty fast, but even so, I felt like I was away from Kinsie for SO long. I cannot even explain how much I missed her and craved to be holding her.

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Some of the pictures that were sent to me while I was at work. I am OBSESSED with the selfie of Kinsie and her “Yaya!”

After a very long, emotional week, I can officially say that I made it through my first week back. It was harder than I could have ever imagined, but I did it. There were times when I felt completely exhausted and overwhelmed and needed some encouragement from the people I love. Before going back, I felt like I finally hit my stride with taking care of Kinsie while I was at home every day. But working full-time while trying to take care of myself, the baby, the dogs, and the house all by myself is a completely different story. Ryan wished he could have been home to help me, but he just started one of the tougher classes he’ll have this year and needed to study. He spent a lot of time on the phone with me reminding me that we will get through this and it is making us stronger, and even though it was hard to see at the moment, I knew he was right. Kinsie and I both had somewhat of a rough transition into this new routine, and she was a little fussier and started waking up at 4 and 5 in the morning and would not calm down until I fed her (she had previously been sleeping through the night until 6:30a.m. for over a month until this week). Throughout the week I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. But I did. I had to. I understand now why women don’t return to back at all after having kids, but that just isn’t an option for us at this point. I still love teaching, and I know that spending time away from Kinsie helps me appreciate every moment with her, and it will make me a better mother.

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This is how we spent most of the day together on Saturday.

Ryan and I are so unbelievably blessed to have such an amazing support system to help us with our current circumstances. I know that things won’t always be easy and we will have tougher weeks like this every once in a while, but we couldn’t get through any of it without the love, encouragement and prayers of our family and friends. And of course, I know God is carrying us through all of this. He has always helped me get through tough times before, so I know this time will be no different. One of my favorite quotes that I heard a few years ago says, “The deeper we are rooted in the unfailing love of God, the less we sway when the winds of life blow harshly.” This is spot on and it is a good reminder to trust in the Lord always. With His help, I know we can get through anything!

Baby’s First Christmas

As a child, Christmas is one of the most exciting times of the year. You can’t wait until Christmas morning to see if Santa came, and what he brought you. This was the first year that I got to celebrate Christmas as a parent, and it is just as exciting in a completely different way. Even though Kinsie is only 3 months old, we had a blast playing with her and watching her react to all her new toys that she got for Christmas. She has become so much more responsive and interactive lately, so she actually enjoyed her new toys and visiting all of her relatives.

Ryan and I are always busy during holidays with both of our families and we always try to make our rounds to spend quality time with each family. A few days before Christmas, we got together with my mom’s side of the family which is always a blast. My aunts and cousins always love spending time with Briggs and the babies. On Christmas Eve, Ryan, Kinsie and I went to Ryan’s parents house for breakfast and to open gifts. Kinsie got some awesome gifts, including some blocks that her Aunt Megan made with letters, bible verses, and pictures of all the people in Kinsie’s life. She will have a blast playing with those and recognizing everyone as she gets older! After gifts, we went to the Christmas Eve service at Traders Point. It was an amazing service! At one point, they invited all the kids on stage to dance around with glowsticks singing Little Drummer Boy. It was awesome and very powerful! Right from church we went straight to Ryan’s aunt’s house (his dad’s side) for dinner and gifts. Finally from there, we went to my parents’ house to eat dinner and exchange gifts with Ryan Robinson’s family. Busy, but wonderful day with family!

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Kinsie enjoying her time opening gifts with Ryan’s family

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The Matthews family on Christmas Eve

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Fun cousin time

On Christmas morning, I was so excited to be Santa Claus! I woke up before Ryan and Kinsie to set everything up. Like I said before, it was almost as exciting as it was when I was a kid! Our little family opened our gifts, then we ventured back to my parents’ to exchange gifts with them and Krista, Ryan and the kids. We all ate breakfast while Kinsie and Kerigan took a Christmas morning nap in their car seats on the dining room table together. The best part about opening gifts was watching Briggs’ face when he received a train set from his Bapa and Yaya (his name for my parents). His key phrase for the day was “Open it!” As a kid, you think there is nothing better than getting gifts on Christmas, but watching the children you love open their gifts comes pretty darn close!

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Kinsie opening her gifts from Santa, mommy and daddy

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Me and my sweet girl

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Hanging out with dad watching her cousin Briggs open his gifts

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The boys checking out Briggs’ new train set

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Kerigan was worn out after opening gifts!

Finally in the afternoon on Christmas day, we went to another one of Ryan’s aunts house (his mom’s side) to celebrate Christmas with them. Kinsie got to meet her new cousin, Emery and they just so happened to be wearing the same outfit! Kinsie had a lot of fun playing with her aunts and cousins, then took a nice little nap in mommy’s arms. What a life!

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Kinsie with her new cousin, Emery in their matching outfits

Overall, we had a wonderful Christmas. Ryan and I are so blessed to have so many people to share the holidays with. I can’t wait to watch Kinsie grow each year and teach her the true meaning of Christmas. When I was growing up, my family and I had a Christmas Eve tradition of reading the Christmas story in the Bible before going to bed. It was a great reminder of why we celebrate Christmas and to remember how lucky we are to have a God that loves us so much that He had his son be born of a woman, placed in a manger, go through life as a child, an adolescent, and then a man, just to be killed on a cross to pay for our sins. I would love to carry on this tradition with my children so they don’t get too wrapped up in the hype of Santa Claus and presents, and they remember the reason for the season!

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Merry Christmas from the Matthews family!