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!

Sun Rays and Disney Days

We were so grateful to get to go on a vacation to Florida this month! Ryan gets 3 weeks of vacation throughout his first year, so we coordinated it with my family’s vacation to one of our favorite places, Siesta Key, Florida. With the way our week worked out, we also got to visit Disney World for 3 days…another one of our favorites! Originally with Ryan’s schedule, he would get to go to Siesta with us, but not Disney. After he pulled some strings at work, he found a way to go with us for the entire trip, and we were all SO grateful. We all needed that quality Daddy time! Here are the highlights from our trip.

PART I: Siesta Key

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The Beach

We came here last December, and Kinsie was a little beach baby. She was obsessed! Brax wasn’t even mobile yet, so he spent most of his time in the tent. This time, we had two beach babies! Brax wasn’t a huge fan of the ocean (the waves scared him), but he loved playing in the sand. All the kids loved chasing birds, getting buried in the sand as different animals and characters, and building sand castles and animals. The older kids loved the ocean until we realized how many jellyfish were in the area. Both Kinsie and her cousin Briggs got stung by jellyfish…but luckily nothing too severe. After that, they were all a little skeptical about getting in the water…and they called themselves the “jellyfish cousins.”

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The Pool

All five of the cousins are little water bugs. We spent a few days by the pool, and ALL the kids were having fun. Brax wanted to jump in over and over again…he honestly didn’t even care if he went under water. I’m also pretty sure that being in the pool with her cousins is one of Kinsie’s happiest happy places!

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The Boat Ride

We rented a boat while in Siesta Key, and it was such a fun and crazy day! We ate cinnamon rolls, got splashed by large waves, saw dolphins and manatees, got stuck on a sandbar, got lost, and had lunch at a restaurant on the water. We all loved every part of the crazy adventure…especially the dolphins!

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Lots of Much-Needed Family Time

I know, this is vague, and cheesy…but it’s true. Now that we live apart, time with family is so special. Especially with the kids…they all love each other so much and they are just giddy when they are all together. All of the kids have a special relationship and it is so fun watching them grow up together. And like I mentioned earlier, it was so nice having a full week of Ryan. The kids were all about Daddy all week!

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PART II: Disney World

Magic Kingdom

We spent the last 3 days of our trip at Disney World…and it was as magical as ever! It was SUPER crowded…more than I remember it ever being, but we still made the best of it and had a great time. The characters have always been Kinsie’s favorite part, and she still loved them, but oh my sweet Brax…he adored the characters! It melted my heart to see him stare in the face of Mickey Mouse in complete awe and give each character hug after hug. His reaction to seeing Mickey in the parade was priceless! Some of our other favorites of the day were Small World, the parade, the fireworks, and the Haunted Mansion ride. Kinsie talked about this ride ALL day, but the line was always too long. Finally after the fireworks, the line was down so we went. Kinsie fell asleep on Ryan’s shoulders on the way there, so we just let her sleep while we waited in line. We woke her up before we got on the ride and she LOVED it. She is still talking about it every day. It was a long but wonderful day!

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Animal Kingdom

This is another one of our favorite parks in Disney, and we really wanted to see all the new Avatar stuff (it was AMAZING by the way). It was ridiculously hot this day…like sticky, heavy, hard to breathe hot. But we powered through it and still enjoyed our day. We loved the safari, the characters, the Avatar ride, and the evening lights show on the water. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was worth it.

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Chef Mickey’s

My parents surprised the kids with tickets to Chef Mickey’s. I was probably just as excited as the kids to experience this! We went to a restaurant where Mickey and the gang danced around and came around to visit with everyone. The kids loved it and the food was on point!

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Disney Springs

We spent our last evening just walking around Disney Springs. The only other time I remember coming here, we were only there for a few minutes so we didn’t really get to enjoy it. It was so nice to just take our time and enjoy everything there was to see. We especially loved the Lego store and the T-Rex Cafe. We didn’t even eat there, we just walked around and played in the dino digging area!

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We had such a great trip and loved spending time with family, but we were also ready to be home. After lots of crowds, traffic and congestion, we were ready to be back in our quiet town. Our flights to and from Florida were both very eventful…we BARELY made it onto our flight on the way there…but after cutting everyone in the security line and sprinting to our gate, we made it. On the way back, we were on different flights from Orlando to Atlanta, but on the same flight from Atlanta to Little Rock. Ryan took Brax and I had Kinsie. Ryan’s flight was running a little later than scheduled, so as he got to the gate of the second flight, they were shutting the door and wouldn’t let him in. As he argued with the lady at the gate, I was talking to the captain and trying to see if he could get him on the plane. He was trying really hard to help us because he knew we were a family and we just wanted to get home. If they weren’t going to let him on, Kinsie and I were going to get off and we could all find a new flight together…although I really didn’t want to do that since the kids were exhausted and Kinsie had school the next day. The captain called the official Delta people and it was a long ordeal, but they FINALLY let him on. As he and Brax got on the plane, everyone applauded! Later when we got off the plane in Little Rock, everyone who passed by us said they were happy for us! It was a crazy experience, and we were SO happy to be home!

Back Home Again in Indiana

Soon after we moved here, I planned a trip home to Indiana for 2 weeks in September. I knew that Ryan would be on a rotation where we’d barely see him, and I wanted Kinsie to have a special birthday and spend it with family. The plan was for me and the kids to fly to Indy, then later Ryan would drive up for a few days, then we would all drive back together. As it got closer, we realized that Ryan could barely make it work to come at all. He was only able to come to Indy for about 24 hours. We really missed him, but we had a wonderful trip!

The Flight

I was nervous about flying with both kids from the moment I booked the tickets. I planned out everything weeks ahead of time, trying to make the process as smooth as possible. I had movies and TV shows on the iPad, snacks, toys, books…you name it. Luckily, the Little Rock airport is small and never crowded, so checking in and security were a breeze. Once we were on the plane, the kids were happy watching Paw Patrol. (This could keep them occupied for hours at home if I allowed it). After about 20 minutes, Brax was done. He didn’t want to sit on my lap, (which he had to, he isn’t old enough to need a seat of his own), he didn’t want to watch a show, he didn’t want to read books, and even snacks weren’t keeping him happy. I wrestled him most of the flight. Then once the descent started, he was REALLY done. He was screaming and thrashing. Kinsie and I were both trying to make him happy, but he was DONE with this flight. I prayed that the next flight would be better…yes, two flights…unfortunately there’s no direct flights from Little Rock to Indianapolis. Switching planes was quick and easy. I think it was an act of God that on the next flight, there was an empty seat next to me. Brax was happier when he had more to squirm around. That flight went MUCH smoother!

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When we got to the Indianapolis airport, we had some special guests awaiting our arrival! My mom, my sister and her whole family was waiting for us, and we all embraced and cried. The kids were all SO happy to see each other, and we were so happy to have made it!

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Cousin Time 

The kids had some awesome times together during the 2 weeks. The night we came in, Ryan’s aunt had a get-together at her house to welcome us home. The kids had a blast with each other driving around in all the different vehicles. One day, Kinsie got to go have lunch with her cousin Briggs at his elementary school. We also got to go swimming, watch Briggs’ football game, and just hang out at my parents’ house playing. It didn’t matter what they were doing, if they were with their cousins, they were happy!

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Kinsie’s Birthday

Kinsie had a very special birthday. I let her decide what she wanted to do, but it was really hot outside so we were somewhat limited. When she woke up, I took her and Brax to get birthday donuts at Dunkin Donuts. Later, my mom watched Brax so I could take Kinsie to lunch. She chose to go to Cheddar’s because she loves their huge fish tank. After lunch, I took her to Half Priced Books, which she loved. It was SO nice having some time with just her. I love my boy Brax, but he had been super needy lately and Kinsie had to fend for herself for quite some time because Brax was constantly needing me, so it was nice to get to focus on her. Later in the evening, our family all came over to have a small party for her. She loved her Paw Patrol presents and her ice cream cake. We did FaceTime with Ryan so he could be a part of the fun. He even found a way to be in the birthday picture!

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Visit to Purdue

Ryan’s brother Nate started his freshman year at Purdue in August. We wanted to visit him at school during our visit, even if it was at Purdue! We got to see his dorm (which was covered in pictures of Kinsie and Brax), walked around campus a little and had lunch. It was a great day and it was so good to see our Nate! I am still so blown away by how much Kinsie looks and acts like him when he was that age. Maybe that’s why they have such a special bond!

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Dress-up Parties

Kinsie spent some time with Aunt Renata during our visit, and Renata had lots of costumes in her basement that Kinsie wanted to try on, and it started a trend for the rest of the trip. She became obsessed with dressing up! Her favorite costume was the Buzz Lightyear costume…she spent a lot of time in it and even had her cousins wearing it too!

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Haircuts

I took the kids to Ryan’s cousin Jess to get their haircuts. Kinsie did great and loved getting her hair washed, cut and braided. Brax was a different story! We had to find some creative ways to get him to sit still. He had suckers, sat on my lap, watched Mickey Mouse on my phone, and Jess had to chase him around the salon to get the job done! It was quite an adventure that left me sweating and exhausted, but the kids looked great with their new haircuts!

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Lake Time

We spent a few days at our favorite place, Heritage Lake. We did lots of cubby rides, sidewalk chalk, took several boat rides, went fishing, and played at the playground at the marina.

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Ryan finally was able to drive up to Indiana with the dogs on Saturday, we were SO excited to see him after not seeing him for 2 weeks!

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Paw Patrol Party

We ended our trip with a birthday party for Kinsie at the lake. Ryan was able to make it for the party, so at least he could be a part of one of the birthday celebrations. We had a family party with a Paw Patrol theme, and like usual, our families were a huge help in making the party successful!

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The kids all had a great time with the piñata! Kinsie of course also loved opening her presents and the other kids loved watching and playing with all her new toys.

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We took the kids on a boat ride, and to say it was chaotic would be an understatement! The kids weren’t bad or misbehaving at all…just excited and hyper. I don’t think there were any free adult hands at any point during the ride. The kids all took turns driving the boat, and running from one side to another, trying on as many life jackets as they could, and just being goofballs together.

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We loved having Daddy in the flesh for this birthday celebration! Notice the lovely birthday banner in the background…thanks to Aunt Megan! Also the weather couldn’t have been more perfect!

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We left that evening around 6:30pm, and got home around 3am. Ryan had to be somewhere for work at 8am the next day, so we took turns driving and resting. The kids did pretty well, sleeping most of the way. We spent the whole next day recovering from the drive, relaxing at home and playing with all of Kinsie’s new presents. It was a fantastic trip. We all really needed this time at home with our families, and we left with our love tanks full!

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!

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!

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

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.

Brax is ALMOST One!

How is my little boy almost one? I know I sound so cliche right now but it is going so fast! I feel like he was a newborn yesterday…yet I don’t remember what life was like before he was born. He has wiggled his way perfectly into our little family and adds the perfect touch to us. He is so stinking cute and happy and he melts my heart every single day. I wish I could attach a permanent GoPro camera to him so I could record everything he does, because everything he does is so cute! He has brought so much joy to our family and I am so grateful to God for letting this incredible little boy be mine.

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Here is an update on our Braxy boy at 11 months…

    • He is done with baby food. He eats just table food now. He is an eating MACHINE. He loves food. Any food. All food. We have yet to find a food that he doesn’t like. He tends to like meat and grains the most. Some of his favorites include avocados, Cheerios, and hot dogs.
    • He can throw a ball. Playing catch is his favorite activity!
    • He has 6 teeth.
    • He waves ALL the time. It is the CUTEST thing EVER. He waves to anyone and everyone!
    • He is a Daddy’s boy lately. He still loves Mama, but he gravitates more toward Daddy and always wants him to hold him.
    • He loves to try to bite people. He thinks it is hilarious.
    • He can say Dada and Mama…and we THINK he recognizes us with those words.
    • He still thinks Kinsie is hilarious. If she laughs, he laughs. She tackles and squeezes him all the time and usually he loves it.
    • He doesn’t understand the word “no” yet…we are working on it.
    • Although he doesn’t know what “no” means, he always shakes his head no!
    • He can stand by himself for a few seconds.
    • We call him “Stitch” (from the movie Lilo and Stitch) because all he wants to do is destroy everything!
    • He LOVES to be outside.

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Kinsie loves entertaining her brother!

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Happy 11 months, Brax! Next update you will be ONE!

Kinsie Kay is THREE and a HALF!

How did this happen? It feels like she JUST turned three…then suddenly I blinked and she is halfway to FOUR! We have noticed a huge difference in her lately…she is so grown up! All of the sudden she isn’t a toddler anymore, but a little girl. Every day, we continue to be blown away by our daughter. She is such an amazing little girl and she is SO much fun to be around. She has a tender, sweet, gentle side, yet she is spunky, sassy and crazy. I love every part of her and I love getting to see her change and grow each day.

Here is a glimpse of my girl at three and a half…

  • She LOVES to learn. She can recognize all of her numbers and letters, and loves learning how to write them.
  • She can spell and write her name.
  • She can do very simple addition.
  • She LOVES to read. We read a ridiculous amount of books each day, and her teachers at school say that all she does at school is read. She memorizes a lot of her favorite books, so then she can “read” them to Brax.
  • She is currently playing soccer and doing a gymnastics class.
  • Favorite animal: hippos
  • Favorite color: pink
  • Favorite movies: Moana and Trolls
  • Favorite books: Dr. Seuss books
  • Favorite food: protein bars and pickles
  • Her favorite people to hang out with are her cousins and her brother.

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Happy half birthday, my beautiful girl!