A Much- Needed Family Summer

Even though the pandemic is still raging, our summer in our new home as a full family of five has been so refreshing! We’ve had so much quality family time that we’ve all been aching for for years! Since Covid is still going strong and we are still being protective of our little Brody, we really haven’t gotten out and about much to explore our new town and we haven’t really been able to meet people, but we know that will come soon enough when things get better. In the mean time, we’ve just been soaking up all the family time we can get, and enjoying being close to our families and cousins again.

Here’s a rundown of our July…

4th of July

We enjoyed going to the lake this year for the 4th. Our day mainly consisted of boat rides, fireworks and cousin time!

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IU Scavenger Hunt

We took the kids on a long walk through IU’s campus, and I wanted to find a way to make sure they somewhat stayed interested, so I made a scavenger hunt. It included specific landmarks around campus, such as the Sample Gates, the Showalter Fountain and the Herman B. Wells statue, but it also included things like red and white flowers, a red clock, people riding bikes, etc. The kids enjoyed it even though it was about 100 degrees out that day!

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Exploring new parks

We have tried to spend some time finding old and new parks to explore in our new town. The first one I wanted to go to was my favorite park from college, Lower Cascades Park. It is a beautiful little park with a hidden creek and waterfall. The kids LOVED the waterfall area! They spent a good hour climbing behind and all around it, and throwing rocks in the creek.

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After the waterfall hike, we let the kids just play on the playground. This park is also nice because it isn’t usually too crowded. Another day, we came back to this park to ride bikes and had a Subway picnic.

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Another park we tried was called Switchyard Park. Kinsie liked to call it the “American Ninja Warrior Park” because it had lots of climbing ninja-type activities, which is one of her current obsessions!

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Pool Parties

We’ve gone to my parents’ pool about once a week this month. This is probably the kids’ favorite place to play with their cousins!

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We recently let Brody have his first pool experience. He was pretty chill about it, like most things in life!

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Lake Life

We’ve spent almost every weekend at the lake, our happy place! We always love going on lots of boat rides whenever we can.

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The kids have loved spending time with their other cousins as well. We enjoyed visiting some cousins at the Heritage Lake Campground, as well as some much-needed Griffin time!

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We always have fun at the lake. Whether it’s fishing, swimming, boat rides, paddle boat rides, kayaking, or just hanging out, it is always a fun and relaxing time!

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Outdoor Living

The house we are currently living in is a great place to catch fireflies. The kids loved their first firefly experience!

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Ryan has never had this much time off before, and he is not the type to sit around…so he did lots of projects. Just a few examples include a giant Jenga set, and a peg board for the kids to climb!

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Fun at Renata’s

The kids are always asking when we can go back to Aunt Renata’s house. I took them one day and like usual, they had a blast. They loved playing with Nicole’s dog Winnie in the baby pool, running around outside, and doing lots of painting and art projects!

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Kinsie the Biker Babe!

Our big girl Kinsie learned how to ride her bike without training wheels…in about 5 minutes! We were visiting Ryan’s Aunt Rita and her family at the campground, and Kinsie wanted to ride bikes with her cousins. The only extra bike they had didn’t have training wheels, so Aunt Rita took her out and Kinsie picked it up SO quickly! It was so much fun watching her ride and all the kids running with her and cheering her on! We’ve been taking her places as often as we can to keep practicing. She’s a pro now!

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Kinsie Dates

My sweet Kinsie has REALLY missed being in school. She was supposed to start her first day at her new school on August 5, but her district decided to do online learning until at least September. She’s super bummed, so I’ve been trying to find ways to keep her spirits up. Since she is at home with her brothers all day every day, she’s been needing some breaks…and since she’s good about wearing a mask, I’m able to take her on little dates. One day I took her to get special drinks from Starbucks and then to the park. Another day I took her to get school supplies and go see her school. She loves our girl dates!

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Cousin Bike Ride

Ever since Kinsie learned to ride her bike with no training wheels, she wants to ride ALL the time! Our rental house is on a main road, so she can’t ride there, so we take it to parks and my parents’ house often. One day, my sister brought her kids and their bikes too and all 5 of the kids had a cousin bike ride.

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Brody is 2 months!

We are SO grateful for our precious Brody in our lives, especially during such a weird time. His sweet noises and smiles can brighten up any dark day we may have.

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Here are some updates on our Bro at 2 months:

  • He is 12 lbs. 5 oz. – 55th percentile for weight.
  • He is 24″ long – 85th percentile for height.
  • Like my other kids, he has quite a large noggin! His head circumference is in the 95th percentile!
  • He sleeps a good 6-7 hour stretch at night in between feedings.
  • He is talking and interacting much more.
  • He is SO smiley…especially in the mornings.
  • He recognizes voices and faces and love his family.
  • He loves doing bicycle kicks with his legs. When his belly hurts, this is one of the only things that calms him.
  • He loves when people talk to him and love to be involved in whatever we’re doing.
  • Car rides, boat rides, and being worn in a carrier always soothe him to sleep.
  • He is getting on a more consistent eat – wake – sleep cycle… a Babywise method that worked well for my other kids.

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The kids are still completely obsessed with their little brother. They love cuddling with him, talking to him, playing with him, helping give him baths, and cheering him on with tummy time!

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His smile is seriously my favorite…

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More sweet Brody faces!

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As you can see below, he has already grown a lot! He is really filling out and getting some cute chubby cheeks!

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We are all head-over-heels with this sweet little boy. Even though giving birth and living with a newborn in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic has been extremely difficult, his laid back personality and overall sweetness has made every difficult second completely worth it. He was an unexpected, but perfect gift from God. If it would have been up to me, of course I wouldn’t choose to have a baby during a pandemic. But God knows better and I can’t imagine life without this precious gift He knew we needed!

Ryan is excited to start his official job in August, Kinsie will start online learning, and Braxton gets to start at his new preschool. We also should be breaking ground on our house in August as well. We are grateful for these things to keep us busy and give us something to look forward to during an unpredictable time.

Enjoy our July 1 Second Everyday video!

Our First Month Back

We have officially lived in Indiana for one month now. Well…the kids and I have, Ryan has only been back about a week! It has been very different than I originally expected pre-pandemic. We are obviously still living in quarantine as much as possible and haven’t been able to visit as many friends and family as we’d like, but it has still been nice being close to our immediate family, especially with Ryan away. We are definitely still reeling from the crazy roller coaster that our lives have been the last few months, but it helped to have our family close to help me and entertain these busy kids!

Here is a recap of our month of June…

Swimming at Yaya’s

The kids and I stayed at my parents during the month of June while Ryan finished his residency. We spent lots of time swimming! One of Kinsie’s summer goals was to learn to swim completely on her own with no floaties. Well, she accomplished that goal in about 5 minutes! My mom worked with her in stages and had her swimming and jumping off the diving board independently in no time!

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Play Dates at Aunt Renata’s

We’ve always been close to Ryan’s Aunt Renata, and she used to help watch my kids when I was working. We really missed her during our time in Arkansas, so we’ve been making it up with lots of play dates at her house! The kids are always busy when visiting her house, whether it’s throwing rocks in the creek, painting rocks and birdhouses, making cookies, or just lounging in the hammock!

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Lake Days

Oh, how we’ve missed our days at Heritage Lake! It is one of our absolute favorite places to be. We spent several days on the lake with Grandma Bev and Papa Tim this month.

Fishing

I spent as much time fishing as I could since I haven’t done it in far too long. The kids like to fish too…but they don’t have the attention span to do it for long. Usually what ended up happening was they would do other things while I fished, then when I caught one, they wanted to touch and hold it.

Lake-fishing

Boat Rides

Boat ride are always a favorite activity at the lake…and now we have Brody to enjoy them with! Brody was extra calm on boat rides, and they always rocked him right to sleep!

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Other Lake Adventures

The kids loved taking cubby rides around Heritage Drive, and especially to the marina. They enjoyed ice cream lakeside, and then loved playing on the playground.

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Cousin Play Dates

The kids have LOVED being back home closer to their cousins! We’ve tried to squeeze in as much cousin fun as possible this month. Their cousin Griffin was born in the middle of residency, so we’ve only gotten to spend time with him in small chunks during our short and busy visits home, so now the kids are loving spending lots of time with him now that we’re back!

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And of course the kids love their time with their cousins on my side of the family too. They call themselves the “Super 6” and are so excited to add Brody to the cousin crew!

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Our 8th Anniversary

Unfortunately, Ryan and I didn’t get to spend our anniversary together this year, but with residency life, this is somewhat the norm. Our entire marriage so far has been simultaneous with Ryan’s medical journey, so we’ve never really had “normal lives” since we got married in 2012. However, we’ve made the best of it! Our marriage has already been tested with the craziness of med school and residency life, even several periods of time where we didn’t even get to live together, and we’ve only come out stronger because of it. We are hopeful that from now on, we’ll actually get to spend our anniversaries together and maybe even get to have a date night here and there…something that has been few and far between for us!

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Father’s Day

We also didn’t get to spend Father’s Day with Ryan this year since we were in Indiana and he was still in Arkansas. However, we tried to still make it special for him. We took a picture (below, right) and put it on a canvas and mailed it to one of Ryan’s co-residents’ houses. The kids also drew pictures for him, and we sent those as well. Ryan’s co-resident then wrapped them for me and gave the gift to him while he was on shift on Father’s Day! He was surprised and loved his gift. We also got to FaceTime with him before he went to work, so we gave him as much love as possible from a distance.

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Other Fun Activities

My older two have been through a lot the last few months…with the pandemic and not getting to finish school, moving, and getting a new sibling. With all that, they have definitely had their moments of feeling overwhelmed, but overall they have handled all the change SO well. However, they are busy kids, and they behave much better when they stay busy. We played outside as much as we could, spent days at the homes of different family members, and even visited our rental home in Bloomington a few times. They enjoyed driving cars and tractors at both grandparents’ houses, picking strawberries in Grandma Bev’s garden, and having reading time together.

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Tours of IU Campus

IU Campus has my heart. It is so beautiful and I’ve always loved visiting whenever I had the chance. Since this is now the location of our new home, I’ve loved showing the kids the campus that I love so much!

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Ryan’s Homecoming

It was a long month without Ryan, so we were counting down the days until he came home. Ryan finishing residency was very different than it was supposed to be. He was supposed to get a special graduation ceremony, but they had to do it via Zoom instead. Luckily, they livestreamed the ceremony on YouTube so we could watch. I was an emotional mess watching the whole thing because a) I was sad that it had to be this way and b) I was so proud of Ryan. He even won the Resident of the Year award!

We wanted to make it a big deal when he came home. We invited both of our families, ordered a big yard sign, made food, ordered a cake, and decorated the house with streamers and signs. We were all so excited when he finally made it home and we had a great night together with our favorite doctor finally home for good.  If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to watch the video below of his homecoming.

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Brody turned 1 Month Old!

Our sweet Brody turned 1 month old in June! We have adored every second of our time with him. He is the absolute sweetest baby, and I am convinced that with all the craziness going on this year, God knew we needed a sweet baby like him. He has made a very difficult time in the world a whole lot better for us.

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Here are some stats about Brody at 1 month old…

  • At his 1 month checkup, he was 10 pounds and 2.5 oz (55th percentile), and 22.5 inches long (80th percentile).
  • Like I said before, he is SO sweet.
  • He is very laid back, something I did not expect based on the energy level of my other two, and how he acted in utero.
  • He rarely cries, something else we weren’t expecting based on our last colicky child.
  • He may not cry often, but he sure makes a lot of noises. He squeaks and grunts a lot. His little squeaks are the sweetest sound, and the kids call him “Squeaks” because of it. Whenever he’s hungry or gassy, rather than crying, he just grunts. I’ll take grunts any day over excessive crying!
  • He is most comfortable when being held. He is such a snuggly baby.
  • When he is awake and happy, he wiggles and kicks his legs a lot.
  • He had his first social smile right around 4 weeks old, and it was when FaceTiming with his daddy.
  • He loves watching ceiling fans.
  • He enjoys watching his big sister and big brother while they play.
  • He is very tolerant of the love (more like smothering) that he gets from Kinsie and Brax.
  • He loves his pacifiers. He has a monkey and a frog pacifier, and he hugs them while he sleeps.
  • He is starting to be awake for longer periods of time, which we all love!

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The many precious faces of Brody…

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We love his adorable smile!

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I’m always capturing his big siblings loving on him. They love playing with him when he’s on the floor, and they literally argue over holding him. I often have to set timers while they take turns holding him.

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And that’s a wrap for our June. We survived with the help of our family, and now we are so happy to have Ryan home and to officially start our new chapter of life post-residency. Ryan has the entire month of July off, so we are looking forward to lots of Daddy time and trying to explore our new town (as much as we can during a pandemic).

Here is our June 1 Second Everyday video. Enjoy!

Baby Number THREE!

Surprise!! Baby Matthews #3 is on the way and should arrive sometime in May!

Not to get into too much detail, but this baby was planned. The timing of this baby was not. However, we trust that God knows best and even though our spring and summer of 2020 is going to be super chaotic (a new baby AND moving to Indiana), we are excited about all the blessings coming our way!

Because we were not expecting this at this time, I was shocked. So shocked that I truly didn’t believe it until I saw it on an ultrasound machine. But I’ll get to that in a minute. The morning I got a positive pregnancy test (two actually), the kids had school and Ryan had conference in the morning. I took the test first thing in the morning, saw the two lines in complete disbelief, but had to go abut my day of getting the kids where they needed to go. After I got the kids to school, I ran by the store to pick up another test because I still didn’t believe it. And what do you know, another two bright pink lines! When Ryan got home, here is what I left on his side of the sink in the bathroom.

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When he got home and saw it, he just started cracking up. But of course he was excited! This will be the fifth out of six babies born within the residency program in the spring/summer of 2020!

My parents were flying in to visit us for Kinsie’s birthday the day after I found out. My parents can read me so well, I can never keep a secret from them for very long, so it worked out that we would get to tell them so soon. We told the kids the next morning before school so they would know before my parents came. They were so excited! Kinsie always says, “I just wish the baby would come out right now!” I always have to remind her that the baby needs to “keep cooking” for a while. Brax kind of understood, but not completely, until recently when I started showing a bit. Now he seems to understand that there actually is a growing baby in there!

We used this picture and framed it for my parents, Ryan’s parents, Ryan’s sister and brother, and my sister’s family to tell everyone. My parents were of course the first to know. Their reaction was absolutely priceless!

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We had a great weekend for Kinsie’s birthday with my parents, and luckily enough, Ryan’s parents were planning on visiting the very next week for Brax’s grandparents day at school, so we were able to tell them also! For the rest of the family, we had my parents or Ryan’s parents hand out the “gift” with the framed picture of this gem above and we did Facetime with them to see their reactions!

From what I could gather, I had an expected due date of about May 27. With this being the third baby, I can’t hide my bump for long. With both this pregnancy and when I was pregnant with Brax, I personally could see a bump at 5-6 weeks.

I wasn’t able to get into my OB’s office for an appointment until after our vacation in Orlando. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to wait that long to see the baby and make sure everything was ok and that there was only one baby! Lucky for me, I’m married to someone who not only has access to an ultrasound machine, but knows how to operate it as well! On one of Ryan’s days off and the kids were in school, he snuck me into the emergency department for a quick ultrasound. (we had to sneak mainly because I was only 6 weeks and I didn’t want to see people I knew). Everything looked great on the ultrasound, and we even got to see the baby’s tiny little heart beating! It was so special that Ryan was able to perform our first ultrasound!

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Here are some progress pictures and updates on this pregnancy so far…

Month 1:

I had no symptoms at all the first few days. This is how I was with Brax also. About a week or so later, the fatigue hit me hard. Whenever Ryan was home, he made me go take naps. When he wasn’t home, I just try to rest the best I can while the kids are running amuck through the house.

Around 5 weeks – baby’s the size of a grain of rice

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Month 2:

  • Fatigue. Fatigue. Fatigue. It’s intense. Worse than the other two, and with those I was even working full time!
  • Extreme hunger/nausea. I was SO hungry all the time, and if I didn’t eat something soon enough, I would get really nauseous. If I kept my hunger under control, I felt pretty good. But I also tried to not overeat or eat too unhealthy.
  • Super sensitive to smells/gagging – I usually have a strong sense of smell, but when I’m pregnant, its on another level. When the kids use the restroom (#2…sorry for TMI), I have a really hard time with the smell, and my gag reflexes are not a fan as well!
  • Bloating. This happens often after I eat dinner, and it’s not fun. It’s very painful and it doesn’t get better unless I sit down and don’t move for a while…which is not easy to do with two children and a busy working husband.
  • Cravings – they are sometimes super random…like a McDonalds cheeseburger or Olive Garden breadsticks. But overall, the main recurring cravings include sour food – pickles, lemons, and sour candy.

Around 8 weeks – baby’s the size of a raspberry

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Month 3:

  • I still get hungry often, but it’s not as extreme as it was before.
  • I’m still tired, but it seems to have improved some! One of the main reasons that it has bothered me so much that I’m tired is because I haven’t been able to work out as much as I’d like. Before I got pregnant, I LOVED working out. Now I still do, but my workouts have changed a bit, and they are very inconsistent. I hate that I’ve been too tired to work out most days, especially when I was in such a great habit before. Hopefully my fatigue will continue to decrease and I’ll get back on a good workout schedule. I’m in a MUCH better mood when I can workout more often!
  • Headaches – this is a new thing. I get a headache almost every day, and it is hard to function.
  • Other typical symptoms – always needing to use the restroom, extra emotional…the usual!
  • I’m pretty sure I felt my first baby kick at 14 weeks! I can’t wait to feel more!

 

Around 12 weeks – baby’s the size of a lime

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15 weeks – baby’s the size of a pear

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As you can see, it’s not so easy to hide anymore! I felt like I really popped when we were in Orlando on vacation. Even the kids mention my belly getting bigger, and they are really excited about it!

When I finally got in to see my OB, I was around 10 weeks (or so I thought). My appointment was on a Friday, so Brax didn’t have school, so he came along. We saw the baby squirming around and heard a strong heartbeat. Brax seemed somewhat confused at the time, but later seemed excited that he got to see the baby. When the nurse practitioner was measuring the baby, she said the baby was measuring about 10 days bigger than what I originally thought! So now we’re going with a due date of May 17, which is one day later than my due date with Brax!

In the ultrasound, the baby had his/her hand up by its face!

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I just started my second trimester and can already tell my fatigue and extreme hunger have decreased some…yay! The kids are so excited and they love knowing what kind of fruit the baby is the size of each week. Both of my kids are super energetic, which of course I love, but it’s also exhausting…especially while pregnant. I keep hoping my next child will be the chill one. But are we even capable of producing a chill baby? I guess we’ll find out! Either way, we’re excited to welcome him/her into our chaos!

We will be finding out the gender in December and sharing the news with our families when we come home for Christmas. Stay tuned for more pregnancy updates!

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Kinsie Kay is SIX!

Our beautiful Kinsie Kay turned six last week! It is amazing to see the transformation a child can make in just one year. Kinsie has matured in so many ways, and her education and creativity has completely blossomed. It has been so fun watching her grow and change this year. We love watching her busy little mind at work. She is constantly wanting to learn more about the world around her (just like her dad!) Her creativity is something truly amazing, and we love seeing the creative ideas that she comes up with on a daily basis. I can’t wait to continue to watch her grow and blossom and see what amazing things she accomplishes!

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Here are some stats about our big six year old!

  • Favorite color: still pink!
  • Favorite TV shows: T.O.T.S., Puppy Dog Pals…although she really hasn’t been into TV much. She would rather draw, write, or do some other type of imaginative play!
  • Favorite movie: All of the Toy Story movies
  • Favorite animal: still hippos and dolphins
  • When she grows up, she wants to be an art teacher. She has always wanted to be a teacher like her mama, but lately with her love of art, she discovered that she could combine 2 of her loves…teaching and art!IMG_BC71A0D54AE0-1
  • Her learning has completely exploded. She often surprises us with the knowledge that she acquires without us even knowing it. She is a complete sponge and soaks up everything around her. Her reading is improving every day. Since she was born, we have always read books before bedtime. This summer, we wanted to get her ready for school so we started having her read to us at bedtime. Between doing this, and practicing reading at school (and reading every sign and label everywhere she goes), her fluency has really improved. She also has been doing a lot of writing at school. I LOVE seeing the writing she brings home! Kinsie-writing
    Recently, her school did NWEA testing, which is a computerized test that measures individual student growth throughout the year. Kinsie scored in the 92nd percentile in math, and the 99th percentile for Reading! We were SO proud of our girl! As lovers of learning ourselves, we could not be happier that our children are loving to learn as much as we do!
  • Kinsie is absolutely rocking Kindergarten. She loves everything about it! She is very shy at school and would never dream of doing anything to get in trouble. I have no problem with this of course, but I do remind her to loosen up a bit and have fun at school too. Recently she received a “Citizen Shout-out” from her teacher for always being a good listener and being ready to learn. Her name was read on the school intercom and she received a certificate and special button!IMG_5789
  • Kinsie has definitely found a good stride living here in Arkansas, but she is definitely ready to move back to Indiana. She loves her school and her friends, but her family means more to her than anything else. She misses her grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles every day and can’t wait to be closer to them again. I have no doubt that she will handle the move like a champ. She is really good at making friends, so I think she will do great starting a new school next fall!Kinsie-cousins
  • She is currently in gymnastics only. Brax has started a Ninja class, so it’s been kind of nice having them each in only one activity. She moved up to the Level 1 class this year, which is a bit tougher but she still loves it.
  • Since Kinsie is so busy with Kindergarten, the residency life hasn’t affected her as much as it did in the past. However, when Ryan has a string of evening shifts, it is really rough on her. When this happens, Ryan’s shift starts when she is in school, and he doesn’t get home until after the kids are in bed, so Kinsie goes days without seeing him. We’ve gotten through them by Ryan waking up early to see her before school (even when he doesn’t get home until 2am), and him having lunch with her at school.
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  • She’s still an outdoorsy girl! But with the extreme heat we’ve had the last few months, we haven’t been able to spend near as much time outside as we’d like. Whenever the heat chills out a little bit though, we make sure we spend that time outside. It is therapeutic for all of us! Kinsie-outdoors
  • Kinsie and Brax are ultimately still best friends. Sometimes they can’t stand the sight of each other and cannot get along for the life of them, and other times they are the best of friends and make each other laugh the way nobody else can! Even though he can be a typical annoying little brother, she adores him!IMG_7949

 

We are so proud of the little lady she is becoming. She has such a strong personality, and is very strong-willed and passionate, which we are hoping will get her far in life!

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Happy 6th birthday, Kinsie Kay! We love you more than life itself!

Enjoying the ‘Rays in May

May was SO busy! When I think back to the beginning of the month, it seems like it was 3 months ago. May always tends to be one of the busier months of the year with the end of school and all the programs and activities that go with it, the end of sports seasons, etc…but we loved every minute of it! Here is how our May went down…

Brax’s Birthday

I’m still in denial that my baby is three. And the crazy thing is that ever since he turned three, he’s acted older. He talks like he’s older, his fine motor skills and agility have taken off, and his behavior has improved (for now). Our special boy deserved a special birthday!

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His birthday started off with surprise donuts from Dad. Ryan had been on a string of night shifts, and he stopped by the famous Hurts Donuts in Little Rock on his way home from work to surprise Brax!

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Next, Brax got to spend part of his birthday with his teacher and friends at school. We sent cupcakes and Avengers napkins for them to enjoy.

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After school, we let him open a few presents. He loved his shark tent and chair from his cousins, his talking Hulk from Papa and Yaya, and his robot from us!

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Next, we took him to his favorite restaurant for dinner, All Aboard. Every time we go, the kids get so excited to watch the train deliver food for everyone.

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After dinner, we came back home for birthday treats. He was grinning from ear to ear as we sang to him, and loved every bite of his blue birthday cookies!

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Brax’s Birthday Party

We decided to have a mini-party for Brax when some family came to visit for Kinsie’s Pre-K graduation. We decorated the kitchen in Avengers decor, with a special banner made by none other than Aunt Megan (this banner now hands in his room!) We ate burgers and cake, opened more presents, and dressed in superhero masks and tattoos. It was a great night!

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Kinsie’s Ballet Recital

Kinsie has been loving her ballet class this year. The season ended with a special performance to show off all the skills they learned throughout the year. Kinsie did a fantastic job and loved getting to perform on stage!

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Mother’s Day

Ryan has been in the MICU this month, which is one of the toughest rotations in residency. He works extra long hours and gets fewer days off. I was really bummed to learn that he was going to have to work a 24 hour shift on Mother’s Day this year, and he wasn’t able to change it. I was bummed, but we did our best to work around it. We went out for a sushi dinner the night before, and then some residency friends took the kids and I out for a Mother’s Day lunch after church. After that, I spent the entire day at the park with my little loves. The weather was perfect and we actually had a great day together.

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In between our activities, I had a special delivery from Ryan. He sent me some flowers (which could be planted in the yard of course…we’re not big on spending money on flowers that will die a few days later!) and some treats. It made my day that he was still thinking about me even though he couldn’t spend the day with me.

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The kids definitely made me feel extra loved on Mother’s Day!

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Kinsie’s Graduation

I can’t believe my big girl graduated from preschool and she’ll be starting Kindergarten in the fall! I have no doubt in my mind that she’s ready, and she’s SO excited! She wants to be a teacher like her mama when she grows up, and she has LOVED every second of her schooling experience so far. I know she’ll do great in elementary school!

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Again, it wasn’t the best month for Ryan. Last month, he was selected as Chief Resident of his program, which we were very excited about! However, this required him to go to an out-of-state conference the same week as Kinsie’s graduation. As soon as I knew he wouldn’t be able to come, I recruited some family to come for her special day. I know I’ve said it before, but we the BEST family in the world. My mom, Ryan’s mom, Megan, Nate and Griffin all came. Kinsie loved having so many people come for her graduation, and I know it helped her not be too sad about her daddy missing it. But we took lots of videos for him to watch when he returned!

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Family Visit

We loved having some family visit us for a few days. The weather was beautiful, so we spent a lot of time outside at the park.

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One day when Kinsie was at school, Brax helped both of his grandmas do some gardening in the front yard. He loved helping!

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And cousin pool parties are always a good idea! Griffin loved his first pool experience and the kids loved sharing it with him.

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Last Day of School

The kids had a wonderful school year. They both grew and learned so much. Brax especially did amazing for his first school experience. He adored his teacher and loved meeting new friends!

Kinsie’s first and last day of school…

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Brax’s first and last day of school…

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And together…

LastDaySchool-bothKinsie definitely grew this year! She is much taller and no longer has a baby face, but is developing into a beautiful little girl. Brax doesn’t look a ton different, but you can tell he looks a little taller and slimmer!

The kids had the BEST teachers this year. Mrs. Lina was Brax’s teacher, and she was the sweetest, most patient and kind teacher, which was perfect for him in his first year. Brax started out the year very shy and wouldn’t talk much to her, but he ended the year hugging on her, and running around acting like his silly self at school. Kinsie’s teacher, Mrs. Suze was also perfect for her this year. She really helped Kinsie mature, and prepare for Kindergarten. She did tons of creative projects with higher-level thinking, which is perfect for my imaginative little girl. Of course, my passionate and emotional Kinsie Kay bawled like a baby when she had to say goodbye to her teachers and preschool! It broke my heart, but also made me happy that she loves school so much.

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Last Day of T-Ball

Kinsie wrapped up her last season of T-ball. She had a great experience and a great coach for both seasons she played. If she decides to continue, she will play softball in the fall. She had a great season and we loved watching her!

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Brax’s First Dentist Appointment

My big boy had his first dentist appointment recently. When we first got there, he was a little nervous and wouldn’t look or interact with the hygienist. However, she was so great with him and took lots of time talking to him, and showing him all her tools so he would become more comfortable. By the end, he was giggling and talking to her like he knew her all along. And of course, Kinsie was the best supportive big sis, holding Brax’s hand and showing him how to open wide!

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LOTS of Art Projects

Kinsie has loved art for a while now, but now she is sharing that love with her little brother. Brax has taken a huge interest in drawing lately. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he spends at least 2-3 hours a day drawing. And he has gotten really good!

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The kids each have a sketchpad and some markers that I keep in the car for them. I am amazed at the creations they draw in such a short amount of time. The pictures below include Kinsie’s drawing of an eagle, and a mermaid castle.

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I just can’t get enough of Brax;s little concentration face (which is the SAME as his daddy’s), and his precious little drawings. He has come a long way drawing people and animals. Right now he especially loves drawing smiley faces and jelly fish.

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Kinsie’s imagination has been off the charts lately. Her new favorite thing to do is draw pictures and tape them to popsicle sticks and put on “puppet shows.” We love her imagination and love how she shares it with Brax.

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Outside Adventures

The first couple weeks of May brought lots and lots of rain. So much so, that there is severe flooding in many parts of Little Rock. The flooding isn’t directly affecting us luckily, but we had many umbrella and rain boot days during that timespan!

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The second half of May has brought much better weather. The summer heat is here and the upper 80-90 degree temps often starts as early as 8 a.m. each day. If we happen to have a day where it’s only in the 70s, we venture to the park.

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Most days lately, we’ve been in our bathing suits playing with the sprinkler, water table and baby inflatable pool. Believe it or not, the kids have so much fun in this tiny pool. And popsicles don’t hurt either!

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Sprinkler fun!

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We’ve had lots of critters around the house lately. We’ve seen multiple lizards, and even a snake in our yard. Ryan caught the snake and put it in a bucket for the kids to look at, of course. No worries…he’s working on a fellowship in wilderness medicine and knew that the snake was non-venomous. That didn’t stop me from staying as far away as possible though! The snake appeared in our yard twice, and after that Ryan walked it down the path a ways so that it hopefully found a new home!

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We recently upgraded the kids’ inflatable pool to a bigger size and they have been loving it! No joke, I’ve spent about 3-4 hours a day outside with them while they play in their pool!

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Day Adventures

Library

The kids love the library. Even though our library is small and doesn’t have many activities, they love picking out endless stacks books to read together.

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Behind the library, there is a nice deck area where you can walk around the pond. The kids and I ventured out there and had a blast. We made friends with a swan and several ducks. The kids love finding nature outside, and they could have stayed watching those birds for hours.

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Chick-fil-A and Sonic

We don’t do this as often as the kids would like, mainly because we can’t afford to eat Chick-fil-A every day, but every so often we do have lunch dates there and spend some time playing. The kids always love it. We’ve also discovered Sonic’s happy hour. It’s been a fun little afternoon activity to get the kids out of the house and enjoy some slushies on our hot days.

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Kiddie City

This is a new place in our town that I’ve been wanting to try. We spent the morning there one day and the kids were obsessed. It was perfect for their age, with tons of play fixtures, slides, play kitchens, dress-up, and more. The kids have been asking every day when we can go again!

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Family Trip to Memphis

Ever since we’ve moved here, we’ve been wanting to go to Memphis, mainly because they have hippos at their zoo. It’s only about a 2 hour drive, so we knew we could take a day trip there. However, Ryan had a short 1.5 day stretch after Memorial weekend, so we decided to make it an overnight trip. We drove to Memphis in the afternoon when he got off work, and spent the night.

The afternoon we got there, we went to the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid. We love Bass Pro anyway, so going to this unique one was a cool experience.

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The next morning, we woke up and headed to the zoo. We had such a great time. It was hot, but it didn’t get unbearable until it was almost time to leave. We got to see the hippos, which wouldn’t get as close and put on a show for us like Fiona does at the Cincinnati Zoo, but we still loved seeing them! We also loved the gorillas, the polar bear, feeding the stingrays, and the camel ride!

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Another highlight was the bird house. Anytime we go to a zoo with this, it’s always one of the kids’ favorite things. They love feeding the birds and having them land on their feeding stick!

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There were also lots of fun interactive activities in between exhibits. The kids loved playing the drums and pretending to hatch out of eggs. It was such a great little family trip, after this long month of Ryan being in the MICU, we definitely needed this quality family time.

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So that was our month. We had a LOT going on, and even though Ryan had to work a lot, we stayed very busy and had lots of fun. We have a lot going on in June as well, and the kids and I will hardly be home! It will be nice to visit our family in Indiana while we have the time off in the summer.

Another exciting event that happened this month was that Ryan signed a contract for Bloomington Hospital starting in August 2020…so we will officially be moving back to our home state of Indiana in about a year! We are so excited, especially to live in Bloomington where we both attended IU. We will definitely miss the home we’ve made here in Little Rock, but we can’t wait to be close to family again and finally SETTLE!

 

Here is our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of May. Enjoy!

Three and Thriving!

My baby boy is three. THREE. It still doesn’t seem possible to me. He was just a baby when we moved to Arkansas…not even walking or talking yet. Now he’s a loud, crazy, hilarious, stubborn toddler running circles around us. He has made incredible gains in his maturation and development this year. He’s still a bit clumsy, but he can run, jump, and climb like a beast. He has an incredible vocabulary and never really stops talking (just like he sister…between the two of them, there is literally no air time). Looking back at pictures and videos of just a year ago, it’s amazing how much he’s changed. However, he’s still our goofy, giggly, wild little boy!
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Here are some stats about Braxton at three years old…

  • Favorite color: Blue
  • Favorite animal: Gorillas
  • Favorite food: Chicken nuggets and any and all snacks
  • Favorite TV shows: Team Umizoomi and Puppy Dog Pals
  • Favorite movies: The Lion King and Dumbo
  • Favorite books: S is for Superhero, and Hulk to the Rescue
  • Favorite songs: Come Alive (from The Greatest Showman), and The One I Love (by Tyrone Wells)
  • Other songs he enjoys singing: Jesus Loves Me, ABC’s, The IU Fight Song, Old McDonald, and Baby Shark (you know…the essentials)
  • He wants to be a doctor and a superhero when he grows up.

Other Fun Facts about our boy:

  • Kinsie is still his best friend. However, he knows exactly how to push her buttons. He loves to do whatever she is doing, and hug and kiss all over her…but his favorite thing to do with her is wrestle her. Usually they wrestle under control for a few minutes, then he takes it too far and begins “Hulk smashing” her, and someone usually ends up in tears! They go through phases where they get along great and play nicely together, or other times where they can barely be in the same room without fighting. Typical siblings I guess!

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  • He loves school and his teacher, Ms. Lina. He went through a few phases where he would cry when I dropped him off, but overall he has done great and always has fun! Below is a picture of him with his class full of boys. And yes…he is the shortest one in his class. In his defense, he is the youngest as well. Most of these boys already turned 3 last fall. We are hoping Brax eventually gets some height from his Uncle Nate!Brax-school

 

  • He is very well potty trained. I know I discussed this in another post, but he was actually very easy to train. He usually still sits on the potty, but is now working on standing up like a big boy so he is ready for the 3’s class next year at school. He has been great at going potty on the go since we are constantly going from place to place. When Kinsie has t-ball, they only have port-a-potties, so we’ve brought along his potty chair in the back of the car. He is a champ about just going with it!

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  • He’s definitely still a mama’s boy, and loves to be my little sidekick…but he adores his daddy. He is becoming more aware of the fact that Daddy works a lot, and he really misses him when he’s gone. Whenever Daddy is home, he is hugging all over him and constantly wanting to play superheroes or play fight.

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  • Like I mentioned before, his vocabulary has increased tremendously this year. Last year he was talking better, but we had a tough time understanding everything he said. Now we understand most of what he says. He even recently starting saying “Kinsie” accurately, where before, it sounded like “Ti Ti.”
  • He recently gave up both his pacifier and naps. I’m very excited about no more paci… not so excited about no more naps!
  • He absolutely loves being outside. He could spend all day at the park if I let him!

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  • His current obsession is superheroes. It’s all he talks about. He knows all the Avengers by name, and talks about them as if they are his close personal friends. The Hulk is his favorite!

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Below is a picture that Kinsie drew for Brax for his birthday. It is the Hulk holding a birthday cake, and a number 3 (even though it is backwards…it’s the thought that counts!)

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  • He loves reading and puzzles. He can memorize long books and recite them word for word. He can also do a 36 piece puzzle by himself!Brax-bookspuzzles

  • Like his sister, he has really started to love drawing, arts, and crafts. He has become pretty good, and we can actually somewhat tell what he is drawing! Brax-drawing
  • He is one of the most stubborn children I have encountered. This has caused for some major power struggles and temper tantrums that have tested my limits. However, he seems to be improving. We are working on making him aware of his behavior, and how he can do better. We have a “Nice Boy” chart where he has to be a good listener and be nice to his family in order to get special rewards. So far it is working pretty well!
  • He is literally either snuggling with us, or wrestling with us. There is no in between!

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  • He is very picky about who he lets in his inner circle. Once you’re in though, you’re in for life. Speaking of which, he is very close to all of his family…grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. With us being out of town during these crucial memory-making years, we have really made it a priority to visit, Facetime, and even look at pictures and videos of family so that he always knows who they are.
  • He has become very aware of the fact that we live far away from everyone. Kinsie has already gone through this, and she has actually gotten better. Now Brax struggles when we leave Indiana, or when family leaves us from a visit. He adores his cousins and is happiest when he’s with them!

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He is definitely a unique kid. We call him our sour patch kid…he is either sour or sweet, with no in between! He makes us laugh every single day. It’s hard to look at him and not just want to kiss his sweet little cheeks! Even though he can be a total stinker, his sweet side draws people to him. We all adore him and are loving watching him grow into the unique little person he is!
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Happy 3RD Birthday, Braxton Robert!! We love you to infinity and beyond!!

Kinsie Kay is FIVE!

I cannot believe my daughter has been with us for half a decade. She is no longer a toddler, but a little girl. She is stubborn and passionate, but she can also be very shy and nurturing. She has developed her own opinion and attitude that she loves to test out in all situations. She takes her role of big sister very seriously, and fiercely protects her brother. Ironically, she is also the one to push his buttons and beat him up more often than necessary! She has more energy than she knows what to do with (thanks a lot, Grandma Bev!), and wears us all out. If any of you have ever read the children’s book Olivia, THAT is Kinsie. We always joke with her with the famous quote from that book…”You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway!” She has gotten much taller this year, and has legs for days! I’m sure she’ll be passing me up in no time!

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This year has been harder on her than we expected with living away from the home and family she’s ever known, but from that she has learned a lot of life lessons that I think have helped her mature. She definitely struggles with residency and everything that goes with it. She doesn’t like her daddy being away as much as he is, and she hates that she isn’t with all our family in Indiana. This breaks my heart when she gets sad about it, so we are working with her on finding ways to focus on the positive aspects of our situation. Keeping busy is crucial for her busy little mind, so lots of activities help keep her from getting sad. She does have lots of friends here between church, school, and the other residents’ kids, which helps her as well. She still loves Facetime sessions, and seeing pictures and videos of our family, and she enjoys counting down how many sleeps until the next time she gets to see them. She really has handled the changes very well for a little girl, and we have all bonded over the changes. Overall she is such a happy, bouncy, energetic, smart little girl who just loves life!

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Here are some current stats about our Kinsie Kay:

  • Favorite color: still pink!
  • Favorite TV shows: Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Fancy Nancy and Vampirina
  • Favorite movie: The Greatest Showman
  • She is very well-rounded. She loves unicorns, princesses, mermaids, and dressing up in tutus, but she also loves dinosaurs, bugs, wrestling and getting dirty.Kinsie-silly
  • She LOVES drawing, arts, and crafts. She enjoys art on all kinds of media- paper, sidewalk chalk, the iPad, you name it. Every day she comes home from school with about 8 more pictures that she drew for us. This does not surprise me at all considering Ryan and I have always both loved art. Give her some paper and crayons, she’ll stay busy for hours. Throw in some scissors and tape, she’ll come up with all kinds of crazy creations!Kinsie-drawing
  • She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She used to also want to be a doctor, but now that she sees how often her daddy works, she doesn’t want to be a doctor anymore. Funny, but a little sad! Maybe once residency is over and Ryan’s hours decrease, she’ll want to be a doctor again!
  • She loves the outdoors. She loves fishing, hiking, running, climbing, swimming, finding critters, and more.Kinsie-tomboy
  • She absolutely loves animals. Visiting different zoos is one of her favorite hobbies. Her favorite animals are still hippos and dolphins. She recently got to meet Fiona the baby hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo and they became instant best friends! Kinsie-animals
  • Lately we’ve been teaching her a few sight words every day, and she loves helping me read her books before bed. She has actually done better with this beginning stage of reading than I expected, and she is surprising her teacher with her new skills. She’s become a pro at writing her letters, and knows how to spell certain words on her own. Her newest obsession is taking the words she knows and creating sentences. IMG_4402
  • She still loves reading books, and works hard at memorizing some of them so she can recite them to Brax. Soon she’ll be actually reading some on her own!IMG_8684
  • She has always loved water, but lately she has become quite the little fish. She has become much more comfortable in the water and has been practicing swimming underwater. I think she’ll be a pro by the end of next summer!Kinsie-swimming
  • She has a great imagination. She has always been so great at playing independently and coming up with very unique ways of playing.
  • She is currently playing T-ball and taking ballet classes. She still loves soccer, but agreed to take a break in order to try T-ball. So far she loves it!Kinsie-sports
  • She has never stayed too much of a mama’s girl, or a daddy’s girl…she’s both! She loves helping me around the house with chores and cooking, and she loves when I teach her new things. She loves using her daddy as her own personal jungle gym, and doing science experiments and sports with him.Kinsie-parents

She and I are very different in many ways, but can also be very similar. She thrives on social interaction, which is very different than me. She can be very hard on herself, which is just like me. Every day I learn something new about her and raising her stretches my limits and tests my patience every day, but I am working very hard to raise her into a God-fearing, respectful young lady. Even though she is stubborn (just like her dad), we are trying to teach her to use her drive and passion in positive ways. Pray for us!

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Here is a video I made to capture our little girl’s silly and spunky personality. Enjoy!

Happy 5th birthday, my beautiful firstborn. You will always be so special to me!

Brax is TWO!

I am still in denial that my little boy is TWO! This creeped up on me quicker than I expected, and I’m not ready for it! Turning two is such a big year and they grow so much physically and developmentally during this year. He is looking and acting more and more like a little boy rather than a baby, but he is SO much fun! We love watching his little personality blossom more and more every day. He does many things so much like Kinsie (because he is her little shadow and does everything she does), but he also has his own little idiosyncrasies that make him unique. He is definitely a “second child” and knows how to stick up for himself when big sis is doing something he doesn’t like. He is all boy who loves to wrestle, be loud, crash into and destroy things. He makes us laugh every day, and we just adore squeezing him, hugging him, tickling him and snuggling with him.

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Here are some fun facts about our precious little two year old…

  • He gives the world’s best hugs…and we are not just biased. We’ve had several other people tell us this!
  • Kinsie is his best friend. His favorite thing to do with her is tackle her and wrestle.

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  • He is obsessed with our dogs and spends a significant amount of time chasing Addie around the house.
  • Some of his favorite activities include reading books, hiking, playing outside, playing ball, taking baths, and playing with trains and cars.

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  • He is pretty fearless. More so than what makes me comfortable!
  • He is a major mama’s boy but also adores his Daddy… he screams out of excitement when he gets home from work.

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  • His vocabulary has exploded. He can say a lot of words and phrases…we just can’t always understand him! Kinsie is the best at translating for him. We always call him Joey because if you’ve seen the episode of “Friends” where Phoebe is try to teach Joey how to speak French, he gets it all wrong but is completely confident that he’s saying it right. This is so Brax when he talks!
  • Favorite animals: gorillas, elephants, lions and alligators
  • Favorite movie: Coco
  • Favorite TV shows: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Bubble Guppies
  • Favorite food: mini corn dogs and scrambled eggs
  • Favorite books: “It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse” and “Big Smelly Bear”
  • Favorite song: The clean up song from Barney, and Poco Loco from the movie Coco
  • He has improved tremendously with his separation anxiety (thank goodness!) He now loves going to his church class and does great with babysitters.
  • He will start preschool (Mother’s Day Out) in September.
  • He is a complete ball of sunshine. He is SO happy, giggly, and adorable. We literally cannot get enough of him! Kinsie will even attack him with kisses and say “I can’t help it…he’s just so cute!” Agreed!

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Here is a video I made for Brax’s birthday so you can get a glimpse of the preciousness and chaos that I live with every day! Enjoy!

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Happy 2nd birthday my sweet, precious boy. You will have our hearts forever!

Our Brax Man at 18 Months

And just like that…my little boy is 18 months old. He entered our lives a year and a half ago and changed them forever in the best way. He completely lights up all of our lives and he, and his sister of course, are the best little gifts God ever gave us.

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Our little guy has grown up SO much since he turned a year old. He is walking, talking, dancing, even sassing. I love watching him change every day and watching him learn more about the world around him. Kinsie is still totally in love with her little brother and loves teaching him everything she knows. He has such a fun and spunky little personality that is so contagious.

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Here are some stats about our Brax Man at 18 months old…

  • He is 26 lbs, 13 oz. (63rd percentile) and 32 inches tall (34th percentile).
  • He is obsessed with reading. Maybe even more than Kinsie if that’s possible. He will bring us book after book after book, then plop his little booty down right in our lap to listen to the book. He especially loves Sesame Street books.
  • He is getting very verbal and is learning new words every day. Some of his first words included ball, book, Batman, and dog. He shortens most words to just one syllable…like “Mickey” becomes “Mick,” and apple becomes “app.” Some of my favorites of his words are banana (nana), and shoes (shh).
  • He still loves playing with balls. He will spot a ball in any room, on any page of a book, or on any show.
  • When we name a body part, he can point to it on his body. His belly is his favorite!
  • He can name several animal sounds. His favorite animal sounds are elephants, cows, monkeys and pigs.
  • He absolutely loves Mickey Mouse. On TV, in person, in books, in stuffed animals…he loves any form of Mickey!
  • He is great at making messes, but loves to help clean up his messes.
  • He watches EVERYTHING Kinsie does and wants to do it too.
  • His favorite animals are elephants and monkeys. He also LOVES dogs.
  • His favorite foods are bananas, applesauce, and pretty much anything with ketchup.
  • He loves to snack throughout the day.
  • He is a major mama’s boy, but still adores his daddy.
  • He is very determined about what he wants and doesn’t want, and will make sure we know it.

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18months

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This kid is so awesome. I can’t wait to keep watching him grow and learn! I can’t believe he’ll be two in 6 months!

Kinsie Kay is FOUR!

My beautiful, crazy, spunky, sweet and sassy girl is four years old today! I’ve become closer with her over the past few months since I’ve spent so much time with her, and every day I discover more about her and how amazing of a little girl she is. She is so smart and loves to learn. She loves to read, and even when one of us can’t read to her at the moment, she’ll either read what she had already memorized from that book, or just make it up. She loves to use her imagination, and is teaching Brax to love it too. She could talk all day…and often does. When she gets home from school, she will tell me every detail and every dialogue of her entire day. Then when Ryan gets home from work, she will go through the whole story with him. I love discovering the way her mind works and seeing her little personality blossom more and more each day. She has become my little sidekick and my helper in our new life in Arkansas. Brax is her best friend and he wants to do everything she does. Even though she can be very rough with her brother, she is very protective of him and would do anything for him. She challenges me every day and makes me a stronger person and a better mom. Her sense of adventure forces me out of my comfort zone. She made me a mom, and I will always be grateful to her for that.

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Kinsie has changed and matured so much throughout the last year. Here are some updated stats on my four year old girl…

  • She has always been a bit verbally advanced, and continues to be so. She talks like an adult. I often forget how young she is when we have conversations.
  • She has a special relationship with both Ryan and I. She will have spurts of being a “mommy’s girl” or a “daddy’s girl,” but overall, she doesn’t discriminate.
  • She’s a total outdoors girl. She would probably sleep outside if she could. I have a hard time getting her back inside even when she has sweat dripping down her face and mosquito bites all over her legs.
  • Her favorite animals are hippos and dolphins.
  • Her favorite color is still pink.
  • Her favorite TV show is Paw Patrol.
  • She loves everything Disney. She has always loved Mickey and his crew, but recently we’ve been watching all the Disney classics together. Right now some of her faves include Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story.
  • She loves to learn new things and thrives on positive reinforcement. However, she is very hard on herself (just like her mother). She expects to do things perfectly when trying them for the first time and gets frustrated with herself when she can’t.
  • She can spell various words such as Kinsie, Brax, zoo, dog and cat.
  • She can add small amounts together.
  • She’s getting pretty good at drawing. You can actually tell what she is trying to draw.
  • She wants to be a teacher and a doctor when she grows up.
  • She still loves soccer and gymnastics. She is playing soccer in a program in our town, and we plan to enroll her in a gymnastics class in the winter.
  • She loves meeting new friends, but is horrible at remembering their names.
  • She loves school. She participates, listens very well, and is a great helper. Her teacher said she is always happy and bouncy!
  • She has been my saving grace throughout the move. She has stayed positive and open minded about all the changes. Even though she misses our families, she has handled the transition so well and has loved the opportunity to explore a new place!

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Happy 4th birthday, my sweet girl. The world is a better, brighter, and more exciting place with you in it!