Marchin’ into Spring

We love March. It marks the beginning of spring and warmer weather. This month had some beautiful weather, and some freezing weather…typical of Indiana! But we had a lot of indoor and outdoor fun this month!

New Trampoline

We bought a trampoline! This was something we’ve had our eye on for a while. We knew the kids would love it…and we were right! We’ve had it less than a month and it has already been a huge hit!

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Even Brody is having fun on the trampoline. He can’t really jump yet, but he loves bouncing around when Kinsie and Brax jump around him. The kids already have lots of plans with this trampoline as the weather gets consistently warmer.

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Kinsie’s Art Display

Kinsie’s artwork was chosen by her art teacher to represent her school In the Youth Art Month exhibition at the art museum on IU’s campus. Only a few students’ artwork from each school were chosen for this exhibition, so it was an honor. We were so proud of her, but not surprised! She is a wonderful little artist and it is great to see her thrive in an area that she loves so much.  On the first day of the exhibition, we took a trip to campus to go see her artwork.

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She received a certificate and a gift bag from the museum. She was so happy!

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Kinsie’s little brothers were proud of her and loved seeing her art too!

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It was a beautiful day outside, so we took the opportunity to spend the morning on campus. We had a picnic lunch and walked around campus. The museum is right next to the Showalter Fountain, and IU’s marching band happened to be practicing there at the time. We enjoyed sitting and listening to them practice by the fountain, and Brody danced around to the music! The fountain was empty, so the kids got in and ran around in it. It was a beautiful and fun morning!

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School Dress-up Days

The kids had a few dress-up days this month for Read Across America week. Kinsie got to dress as her favorite book character, so she dressed as a Hufflepuff character (her Halloween costume). 

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Brax had a few fun dress-up days too…including Wacky Wednesday! 

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And Crazy Hair Day! His blue hair was a hit!

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St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patty’s Day is mainly a fun excuse to take cute pics of my kids!

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Since the kids were on Spring Break, Ryan’s parents, and his sister Megan and her son Griffin came for the day to visit. They wanted to see Kinsie’s artwork, but also just hang out with us for the day. It was another beautiful day, and we took advantage of it again by walking and exploring campus. 

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Grandma Bev and Papa Tim were in their happy place with all 4 of their grandbabies!

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Cincinnati Zoo

We love the Cincinnati Zoo…mainly because of the hippo, Fiona. Recently, the zoo got another adult hippo in the exhibit – Tucker. Ever since then, the kids have been asking to go again to see Tucker. So when the kids were on Spring Break, we did. My parents came along for the fun too. The weather was great and it wasn’t too crowded like it was last time we went.

The kids loved feeding the giraffes and seeing them up close.

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We had lunch with a view of the savanna.

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We spent a lot of time with Fiona, Tucker and Bibi at the hippo cove. Like usual, they did not disappoint! They were SO active…swimming back and forth, doing flips, and playing with each other. Kinsie was in her happy place…she could have stayed there all day!

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We’ve been visiting Fiona since she was less than a year old, and Kinsie was only 4! Look how much they’ve both grown!

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We loved seeing and interacting with all the animals!

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The perfect way to end our day…ice cream!

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Children’s Museum

Grandma Bev watched the kids overnight, and then she and Megan took them to the Children’s Museum. The new Dinosphere opened back up, so Brax was pumped! The kids had a great time…even Brody got to join!

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Fun at Yaya’s

Another day, the kids had a play date at my parents’ house. They played outside ALL day!

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Cousin Fun

We had a few random cousin play dates this month. Have I mentioned how nice it is being just an hour away from all the people we love, instead of 10 hours? Cousin Griffin came over to play a few times. They always have a fun time together!

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My sister came down to visit one day with her kids, and she brought along a few more of the kids’ cousins for a play date. It was pretty chaotic with 8 kids – but it was a lot of fun! 

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My kids were back in school, but some of the cousins came along to pick them up from school. They loved it! It was another beautiful day, so the kids spent most of the day outside. We had Mexican food for dinner and had a great day!

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Day Adventures with Bro

Now that Covid isn’t completely taking over our lives, we’ve been venturing out a little more. When Ryan has days off, we try to have day dates, and Brody tags along!

We love walking around campus, and Brody LOVES seeing all of the campus buses!

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Brody and I love going to the park…especially when we have the place to ourselves!

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I’ve even felt a little more comfortable taking Brody with me on errands now…as long as we go places when it isn’t crowded, which usually it isn’t in the morning. He loves looking through the toy aisles and playing with all the trucks…and getting cake pops!

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Brody loved going on a breakfast date with us! He ate like a king!

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Outside Fun at Home

We’re still going strong on our 1,000 Hours Outside goal. Here are a few pictures of our time outside this month.

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Inside Fun at Home

And of course the kids always find fun things to do when we’re inside too. Kinsie created a food truck, and created a menu of fun little snacks. The boys loved it!

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The kids are always playing in the workout room, They love climbing on the gymnastics bar!

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Braxton is always reading to Brody. It is so sweet!

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We are still doing puzzles! Even Kinsie has been helping a little more. We’ve moved up to 500 piece puzzles!

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This boy…he is always climbing. Always getting into something. He is 100% toddler. Pray for me.

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Puppysitting Lola

We watched my sister’s dog while they were on vacation. She’s an old pup (13 years), so she was very low maintenance. But the kids – especially Brody – loved having her for the week! The weather wasn’t great for the last few weeks of March, so we didn’t get outside or go on as many walks as we wanted to…but Lola enjoyed just being wherever we were. Brody loved following her around and letting her kiss him!

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Play Ball!

Softball and baseball season have officially started! Kinsie and Brax both had their first practice during the last week of March. Kinsie is back with her team from last year, and Brax is starting his first season of baseball. He is so excited!

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And that was our March! We are excited for April…we have Easter coming up, as well as lots of other fun things planned…like another vacation at the end of the month! 

And as always, here is our 1 Second Everyday for the month of March.

Feelin’ Good in February

February is usually one of my least favorite months. We usually have the worst snow storms in February, and even though it is a shorter month, it always just seems like it takes forever to get to March. But this time, it was better…probably because we went on our first real vacation since October 2019! But before I get to that, I’ll discuss the rest of our month.

Spending Time Outside (Before the Snow)

The first day of February was amazing – it was in the 60’s and sunny. Brody and I spent most of the day outside. And when we did go inside to eat lunch, he didn’t want to take off his hat and boots! The funniest part is that is was warm enough that he didn’t even need a hat or boots – but that’s what he wanted!

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Once the kids got home from school, we went to the walking trail. Kinsie and Brax brought their bikes and Brody rode in his little car. It was a perfect day to ride on the trail and let Brax practice his new no-training wheels bike skills! There was a huge snow and ice storm coming the next day – so we savored the amazing day. (Also, don’t judge Brody’s crazy hair – he was getting a haircut in a few days!)

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Snow Days

As I said, the very next day we were due for ice and then snow. Kinsie’s school went ahead and called in for e-Learning days for the next few days since the ice was supposed to start that afternoon. Kinsie had a class meeting on her iPad, and she brought a friend to class! When she was doing her school work, Brody wanted to do some too!

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We didn’t get much snow the first day, just some ice. But the next day, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. It snowed heavily for the entire day. Luckily Ryan was off for a few days, so he got to enjoy being snowed in with us. Once Kinsie was done with her schoolwork, we all bundled up and went outside. The kids loved sledding, catching snowflakes, and playing “arctic animals.” However, it was REALLY cold and windy so we didn’t spend as much time outside as we could have liked.

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The next few days were much more bearable. The snow stayed but it was a tad warmer, no wind, and the sun was out…so we ventured outside for several hours each day. We enjoyed LOTS of snow activities including sledding, making a snowman, snow painting, snow volcanoes, following animal tracks and more!

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And of course we had to make snow ice cream!

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Even when the kids went back to school, Brody and I still tried to venture outside whenever we could. He’s always in a better mood outside!

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One day after school, Brax had a sledding playdate with his best friend from school. They had a wonderful time together!

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Haircut for Bro

This handsome boy was LONG overdue for a haircut…he hadn’t gotten one since September! But between the Omicron surge, the holidays, and the fact that Brody HATES haircuts, it just wasn’t a priority. But since we were going on vacation soon, I knew we had to get it done. He definitely didn’t enjoy it, but it’s Ryan’s cousin who cuts his hair and she was patient with him and loves him so she didn’t mind – and he looked SO handsome when he was done!

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Gym Ninjas

Kinsie is still loving gymnastics, and recently I signed Brax up for a class called Gym Ninjas at the same place and time. He’s had one class so far and he LOVED it! One of his best friends from school is in his class too so he was so happy!

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Valentine’s Day

We got to squeeze in some fun Valentine’s Day activities before we went on vacation. We always love making cookies, and we even got to enjoy making some with the kids’ cousin Griffin!

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And here are the cookies we made at home!

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Brax’s class needed an extra parent volunteer for their Valentine’s party, so his teacher asked me to step in. I love getting to volunteer for his class! I love seeing him in the school environment and with his friends.

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And here’s just a picture of my cute boys in their matching Valentine’s shirts!

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A tradition we started a few years ago includes a heart for each kid every day starting February 1 until Valentine’s Day with a reason why we love them.

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Another tradition includes a scavenger hunt around the house that leads to their Valentines gifts!

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We love our sweet valentines!!

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VACATION

We finally went on a real vacation for the first time in over 2 years! We didn’t feel comfortable traveling with our unvaccinated, unmasked infant for a while, but also…life kept us very busy the last 2 years. We finished residency, moved to a new state, started a new job, had a baby, and built a house all during a global pandemic…so vacation wasn’t exactly at the top of our priority list for a while. But now that we’ve settled into our new lives, and 2/3 kids are fully vaccinated, and cases are dropping significantly, we were ready for a vacation. My parents were going to our condo in Siesta Key for 3 weeks, and they invited us to join at the tail end of the trip. I was so excited to get my babies on the beach!

Brody’s First Flight

I really haven’t taken Brody many places in his life, so this trip was a whole new world for him – starting with the airport. He was so nervous with all the people and new things to see. He clung on me like a koala bear all through the airport, including through security. Once we were on the plane, he got more comfortable and acted like his crazy self.

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Our flights were later in the evening, and we had to stop in Atlanta for a connecting flight. Brody was a wild man on the flights! He just didn’t want to sit still. Ryan and I took turns throughout the first flight passing him back and forth. Kinsie and Brax were absolute traveling champs, making it much easier on us. The second flight was better because it wasn’t a full flight, so we found an empty row and Brody was able to have his own seat and more room to wiggle. I was hoping he would sleep on this flight since it was well past 10pm at this point…but nope. There was too much to do and see! Overall, he was a great traveler!

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The Beach

We were all SO excited to get to the beach the next morning. It had been at least 3 years since we’d been to the beach, so Kinsie and Brax didn’t remember much about it either and were so excited. Brody wasn’t sure what to think about the sand between his toes at first, but he quickly learned to love it and was a happy little beach baby! He especially loved the ocean…but we had to watch him like a hawk because he kept wanting to run straight into the ocean!

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Around lunchtime, my sister’s family flew in also and met us at the condo. The kids were so excited to have their cousins to play with on the beach! They spent the next few days digging holes, building castles, boogie-boarding, and finding sea shells.

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The pure joy on this sweet boy’s face while he experienced so many new things made my heart so happy!

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Enjoying the sunset with my girl

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Big Cat Habitat

After a couple days on the beach, our family needed a little bit of a break (we all had sunburns!), and my dad had told us about a cat sanctuary nearby, so we decided to check it out. It was called the Big Cat Habitat, and it was really neat! Kinsie and Brax both got to feed a bear and a liger (a lion mixed with a tiger).

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There was also a fun petting zoo area.

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Eventually, Brody conked out in the stroller with his hand in the goldfish bag!

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Kinsie and Brax showed off their stickers proving that they fed the animals. It was a fun day!

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Other Florida Fun

Our time in Siesta Key also included sitting on the dock waving to the boats passing by, shopping at the village and sharing snacks and smoothies with cousins, swimming at the pool, and lots and lots of crazy cousin fun!

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DISNEY

I’ve been dying to take Brody to Disney World since he LOVES Mickey Mouse and all his friends. When we decided to go to Florida, we really wanted to make it happen. We planned on driving to Orlando and spending the last 2 nights of our vacation there, including 1 day at a Disney Park.

Fun at the Resort

It was my sister’s idea to stay at a Disney resort, and I am so glad we did. Not only are the resorts amazing, but you get extra perks at the Disney parks when you stay there. We left Siesta Key Saturday morning and headed to Orlando. We got there around lunch time, and got to spend a few hours by the pool. The kids loved the slides and splash pad area!

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After swimming, we went to Disney Springs for a little while, but it was insanely crowded. We went to the big Disney Store and walked around a little, but it was honestly hard to maneuver around so many people and trying to stay distanced. As we walked around, Brody took a little stroller catnap…which made him wired later on at bedtime! But eventually we all went to sleep and prepared for our big Disney day!

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A Magical Day at Hollywood Studios

We chose to spend our 1 Disney park day at Hollywood Studios because it has some of the most sought after rides that are often hard to get into unless you get lightning lane passes for them, and you can often only get lightning lane passes for them by staying at a Disney resort. It was also great because it was so close to our resort, so we were able to take the skyliner to the park!

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Here’s our whole crew with our neon tie-dye shirts (that I helped make with my Cricut!)

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The best part about the entire day for me was Brody’s reactions to Mickey and Minnie. He loved them SO much, just like I knew he would! He could have stayed there with them all day if we let him. All the other kids enjoyed seeing the characters too, but mostly everyone loved watching Brody’s interactions with them!

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We also met Olaf, Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Doc McStuffins. Character interactions certainly aren’t what they used to be before Covid, but they were still magical…especially through the eyes of a toddler!

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We also had some fun dining reservations throughout our day…including lunch at the Sci-Fi drive-in theater…

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And drinks and snacks at Oga’s Cantina. The girls particularly enjoyed the limes that came with the drinks!

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Papa and Yaya were in the happy place with all their babies!

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We had a blast on all the rides. This was Brax’s first time riding Slinky Dog Dash and he LOVED it! Thanks to lightning lane passes and child swap, Kinsie and Brax were both able to ride it 3 times…and Brody loved watching us all ride the “Doggy!” We also loved Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Toy Story Mania, Aliens Swirling Saucers, and Rise of the Resistance (Ryan’s fave!) 

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The sweetest cousin crew!

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For dinner, we had reservations at Hollywood & Vine, which is a character meal. We were excited for Brody to get to see more characters! Before dinner, he dozed off for a nap, but we woke him up in time to see the characters.

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It was truly a wonderful day. It was crowded, but very manageable. Having Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes were SO helpful and let us ride almost everything. My sister did an amazing job planning and booking everything, and now I’m learning everything I can from her so I can do it when we return to Disney in April!

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Heading Home

The next morning, we were able to sleep in and have a nice breakfast. The kids enjoyed Mickey waffles with a view! Afterwards, we packed up and headed back to Sarasota for our afternoon flight home.

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My parents were on our flight this time, which was nice to help with the kids. It was also a direct flight which was very helpful too. We were all exhausted so it was nice to finally relax on the plane. The kids watched shows on our iPads and Brody actually slept most of the flight! It was a quiet, relaxing way to end our wonderful vacation.

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Bookends of Nice Weather

We started February with beautiful weather, and ended it with more beautiful weather. When we got back from Florida, it was freezing, raining, or freezing rain for about a week. So when it finally was warm enough to be outside again, the kids were ready! 

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It was a great month, and I don’t usually say that about February! We may have to plan more February Florida trips in the future because it definitely helped break up the dreadful winter months. Now we are ready for SPRING!

Here is our February 1 Second Everyday. Enjoy!

 

Fall Fun in October

October seemed to FLY by. I felt like we were always busy whether it was with school or extra curricular activities, fall traditions, or taking care of a sick toddler. In fact, I can’t believe that we are now in November, and that 2021 is almost over. Life is crazy. Anyway, here is a recap of our busy October.

Fall Break in the Smoky Mountains

Our fall break trip was…an adventure to say the least. My kids only had a long weekend off for fall break, but we hadn’t been anywhere in so long that we decided to do a weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Ryan’s parents, his sister Megan and her son Griffin. The first day we got there, we just did a few things while we waited for our condo to be ready. We went to Bass Pro Shop and the kids loved seeing the fish and riding on the elevator. Then we got ice cream at a little ice cream shop. Brody doesn’t get out much so he loved running around and exploring new places, and luckily the places we went weren’t too crowded with unmasked people. 

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The next morning we got up to get ready for our first day of hiking. However…Brody woke up with a 103 degree fever. He didn’t really have any other symptoms other than being tired and feeling crummy from his fever. We did a rapid Covid test just to make sure it wasn’t Covid, mainly since we were staying in a condo with the rest of Ryan’s family, and it was negative. Grandma Bev decided to be the sacrificial lamb that day and stay at the condo with Brody while the rest of us still went out to do stuff. Of course it was hard to enjoy myself while part of my heart was sick back at the condo, but I did my best to enjoy the day with Ryan and the big kids.

We first explored some old cabins, and the kids mainly loved just climbing rocks and seeing wild turkey. They loved getting time with their cousin Griffin.

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Then we went on a hike to a waterfall. Unfortunately, it rained on us pretty much the entire hike! We tried to still enjoy it, but it definitely made the hike slippery and my clumsy kids slipped into the mud several times. The waterfall was really neat and the kids liked finding snails and lizards along the way.

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The next day, Brody still didn’t feel well. Ryan decided to stay with him that day (he wouldn’t let me stay since I’m with him all the time). We went to Cade’s Cove, and we had to drive on back winding roads, which made Brax car sick. Luckily I always keep a grocery bag in my glove compartment because Kinsie used to get car sick randomly on our long drives from Arkansas. I also have a lot of personal experience with car sickness, so I was able to help Brax feel better pretty quickly. At Cade’s Cove, you drive along a path and there are places to stop along the way to see different sights, such as old churches and schoolhouses. However, it was SO crowded, so we sat in the car for a LONG time waiting to get anywhere. We took a few opportunities where we were stopped in the car line to get out and take pictures with the pretty scenery. We also saw a bear crossing the street from our car window (this was the highlight for Brax!), and the kids loved playing the old piano in the church and walking across a swinging bridge. It’s the little things they enjoy the most!

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Later that evening we went putt-putting. Brody was still feeling pretty bad, so Bev held him and kept him occupied while Ryan and I played putt-putt with the kids, They enjoyed their first time playing!

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On the second day when Ryan stayed at the condo with Brody, he started to notice a rash on his hands and feet and he knew immediately that it was Hand Foot Mouth Disease. Then we realized that Brax had it earlier in the week and we didn’t even know it at the time. He had a fever a few days before and he stayed home from school for a day because of it, then suddenly he was fine. He did end up getting a small sore on his mouth and I wondered if he had HFM but he didn’t have sores or rashes anywhere else, so I didn’t think that could be it…but once Brody showed his symptoms, we knew that’s what it had to have been. Brax is a little older so his case was super mild, but Brody wasn’t so lucky. He was so miserable and had a hard time eating or drinking anything because it hurt the sores in his mouth. I felt so bad that on Brody’s first real trip anywhere, he was sick the whole time and didn’t really get to do anything. There isn’t much you can do for HFM…just alternate Tylenol and Motrin to help their fever and pain. Other than that we did popsicles, warm baths, and just snuggled with him. We moved some seats around for the drive home so I could sit next to Brody for the 6 hour drive. It was a tough trip because he was tired and uncomfortable, but I tried to keep him busy and happy. Once we got home on Sunday evening, he started to perk up a little and he slowly got better throughout the rest of that week. He still had pretty bad sores for a little over a week, but luckily they didn’t seem to bother him anymore after a while.

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It definitely was not how I envisioned our fall break trip going, and I was bummed that my Brody felt so bad the entire time, but we still had some fun and made some memories. Hopefully his next trip will go better!

 

IU Football Season

We have really enjoyed going to IU Football games this year! Even though our team isn’t as good as we thought, it’s been a fun environment and I’ve had some nice kid breaks here and there (thanks to aunts and grandmas for watching my kids while we go to games!) One weekend, some friends of ours from high school came to town for the day. We loved spending the day with them – going to lunch, walking around campus, and going to the game with them. 

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My parents still came to the game also and were just a few rows lower than us. It ended up raining the whole game – and luckily my mom is always prepared and had ponchos ready for us!

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Missing our Koda Bear

It was a hard first full month without our sweet pup. The first few weeks were especially hard – little things that were a part of our regular everyday routine were so different now without him. But we have found ways to honor his memory and keep him a part of our family always.

Kinsie painted this picture at school. Art has always been therapy for her!

Koda picture

I ordered these special pillows for the big kids. They LOVE them and sleep with them every night. I didn’t think Brody would really be interested in one, but he is also obsessed! He carries it around and hugs it constantly. So I ended up ordering one for him too!

Koda pillows

One week after we lost Koda, there was a beautiful rainbow over our house. Our sweet neighbor took this picture and sent it to me saying “I think Koda is thinking about you all!” I think this was a love note from our pup!

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Kids Activities

Kinsie Gymnastics

Kinsie is loving gymnastics! She is improving so much and is having a great time. She finished her first term and just started her second term. She even got her first “gold medal” and t-shirt!

Kins Gymnastics

Fun in Kindergarten

Brax has had lots of fun activities going on in Kindergarten lately, some of which I’ve even been able to join!

The classes all get together once a month for Chapel – where they sing songs and learn a Bible story. This month was the first time since before Covid that they started letting parents come join for Chapel. Even though it was only 30 minutes, Brax was so happy I came. He needed some one-on-one mama time, and I needed it too!

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The class also got to go on a hayride this month.

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And clean out a pumpkin to learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin…

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And they had a Pumpkin Party! I volunteered to help at this party, and I loved every moment of it! Not only did I love getting to spend some time with my boy, but I also loved getting to know his sweet class!

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Going Places with Brody

Once Brody started feeling better after having HFM (and I knew he wasn’t contagious anymore), I tried to make up for some of the fun he didn’t get to have by taking him to the park. He loved it so much! 

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Since he loved the park so much, and we had a few beautiful fall weeks, I took any nice day to take him either on a walk on the trail or to another park. He loves going on walks with me – and he seems to love the changing leaves like me too!

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We tried another park on another day and he loved it even more than the first! He found a slide that he can climb up and slide down on his own…he probably did it 50 times! This park also has a fun musical section that he loves too!

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Since he loved getting out of the house so much, I tried to do something with him almost every day while the kids were at school. When it was cold and rainy, I decided to take him to the nearby mall. It was early, so I knew it wouldn’t be crowded – and our county has a mask mandate for indoor public places, so even if we saw people, most of them would be masked. Ryan joined us and we just let him walk around and explore. We took him into Target for a little while too and let him play with some of the toys (I used to do this with Brax regularly in Arkansas – pre-Covid). He loved sitting in the cart and pushing all the buttons on toys! I brought him with me to Kohl’s another day and let him do the same thing. It was nice to get out of the house with him and give him something to entertain him! I know most people probably complain about the county mask mandate, but I am SO grateful for it so I can start feeling comfortable taking him places.

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Other Fun with Brody

This boy is a trip. He keeps me busy and entertained ALL day – and leaves me completely exhausted at the end of each day! He has a mind of his own and just does what he wants. When he wants to take a bath, he literally climbs right in on his own. When he wants a snack, he gets into the pantry and helps himself. He recently decided he’s a big boy and doesn’t want to use a high chair anymore, so we switched him to a booster seat and he’s so happy eating at the table like the big kids! 

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Fun at Home

As always, we are home a lot and always find stuff to do. The big kids have really been into Chess lately, so they play that with the actual board, or on the iPad. Whenever it’s nice out, we are outside. Brody wants to be outside ALL the time – even when it’s raining. He knows how to open doors now so we often have to lock the door or else he’ll try to go outside! Luckily our alarm system beeps if any door is opened, so if he’s trying to make an escape, we’ll hear it! He loves his swing, finding caterpillars, and playing with all the outdoor toys. Our kids also find fun in random items – like boxes and giving each other piggyback rides!

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Pumpkin Patch

We love going to the pumpkin patch! It’s one of our favorite fall traditions. We chose a beautiful Sunday morning to go this year, and we all had a great time.

The big kids loved the tractor ride (Brody was scared of it!) 

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When Brax put his face in the opening for this picture, Brody ran over to him to hug his face!

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All the kids loved the animals! 

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They enjoyed picking out their pumpkins! Brody just ran around tripping over pumpkin vines and trying to pick up every pumpkin. Then he loved taking a ride in the wagon!

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It was such a great family morning, and we brought some good pumpkins home with us!

Kolly’s Birthday Party

One weekend, my niece Kolly had her 5th birthday party. It was a Snow White theme, and she even came for a visit! The girls all loved hearing her talk and sing, and they even got their faces painted. Brax and Brody didn’t really understand what was going on, but they had fun with their cousins anyway! We spent the rest of the day at my sister’s house and the kids all had a great time together.

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Painting and Carving Pumpkins

We had pumpkins of all sizes – some we painted, some we carved. No matter what we did, the kids loved every minute of it.

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Brody loved his first real painting experience. He was so proud of his painted pumpkin!

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Between busy weekends and Ryan’s work schedule, we didn’t get to carve our pumpkins until the day before Halloween…but we still got it done! Kinsie did her Harry Potter pumpkin almost completely on her own…I only had to help her with a few smaller areas. We were very impressed! Brax did a lot of his Jurassic Park pumpkin on his own, but still needed a little help!

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Everyone working hard…especially Brody 🙂

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Our final products – from left to right- Venom (Ryan), Jurassic Park (Brax), Harry Potter (Kinsie), and the Hogwarts castle (me)

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Brody LOVED seeing the pumpkins all lit up! 

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Halloween Treats

One weekend, we made our annual Halloween cookies, and we also made some Rice Krispie Frankensteins! Ryan even joined in on the fun and made a creepy eyeball and a Scream ghost. I started the Harry Potter cookie tradition a few years back, and now the kids always do some too, so now the majority of our cookies are decorated to look like Harry Potter!

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Halloween Day

Our neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of kids, or even a lot of houses, so we decided to spend Halloween day with my sister’s family and trick-or-treat in their neighborhood. The kids played all day, we helped them carve their pumpkins, and we had chili and hot dogs for dinner. Brody had so much fun with his cousins, and even sat at the cousin table!

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The kids were PUMPED when it was time to put on their costumes. My dream finally came true and my kids were all Harry Potter characters! Kinsie was a Hufflepuff student, Brax was Harry Potter, and Brody was Hedwig the owl. Brody hates wearing hats, so I had to get creative with his costume!

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We loved getting to spend the day with my family! 

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Brody loved his first real trick-or-treating experience. I had to take him up to the houses and show him what to do, but once he got the hang of it, he was ALL about it! It was such a fun evening!

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We had a great month of fall fun. We made lots of new memories and had lots of fun with family. I honestly can’t believe this year is coming to a close. I am SO excited that my big kids will be fully vaccinated by the end of 2021…and Brody will be shortly after that! We have learned to live with this pandemic while still being safe, but goodness…I’m ready for some full-on normalcy!

Enjoy our October I Second Everyday!

New Adventures in August

August was a month of lots of new beginnings. Kinsie and Brax both started school, and Ryan started his new job. Covid is still raging, but at least we have somewhat of a routine now and school to keep us busy. The kids have spent WAY too much time together and have way too much energy for me to keep up with, so having schoolwork now has helped keep their mind somewhat stimulated.

Here is a summary of our August…

Kinsie Starts 1st Grade Virtually

Starting the school year online was definitely not our first choice. We had a talk with Kinsie about school earlier in the summer, and we all agreed that being in school, even if that meant wearing a mask and social distancing, was the best choice for her. She thrives in school, and she couldn’t wait to start at a new school and meet her teacher and new friends. However, about a week before school was supposed to start, the district decided to start the first few weeks online. She was really bummed, but she made the most of it. Her school day included several live meetings with her class, which was a great way for her to still get to know her teacher and classmates. Her teacher has done an amazing job connecting with the students and creating class community, even virtually. Luckily, after the last board meeting, the district has decided to move to “phase yellow,” which means elementary students can start attending school in-person next week, and middle and high school students move to a hybrid schedule. Kinsie is SO excited! I’m so proud of her for how she has handled all the crazy changes this year.

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Ryan Starts His Job

We were all excited for Ryan to officially start his first real job! And it only took about 10 years to get there! So far he loves the hospital that he is working at, and all of his co-workers. He is still getting used to being “in charge” but he is doing great and we are all loving his hours.

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After Kinsie’s first day of school and Ryan’s first day of work, we had to celebrate with a trip to Jiffy Treet for ice cream!

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Braxton Starts Pre-K

Another new adventure was Brax starting pre-K at his new school. Luckily, he has been able to go in person. He has to wear his mask sometimes throughout the day, like walking into and out of the building, and he does such a great job with it. He was a little nervous to start at a new school, but so far he has loved it and loves his new teacher and classmates.

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Outdoor Adventures

Even with the kids starting school, we still have to get the kids outside to play as often as possible. They have SO much energy, and they fight more with each other and drive us crazy if they aren’t active enough throughout the day. Luckily, we have a pretty big yard for them to explore and play.

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Kinsie’s current obsession is American Ninja Warrior, so Ryan has tried to give the kids some “ninja-type” activities in our own yard. We even gave her an early birthday present and got her a slackline obstacle kit. The kids could spend hours on it!

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Love these crazy kids!

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We still make our way over to my parents’ pool for swimming days every so often too!

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One morning, we went to the park that Kinsie calls the “American Ninja Warrior” park. This is a newer park so it gets crowded often. We went early, and had a good chunk of time without crowds, but it didn’t last too long. When there were too many people around, we had the kids put on their masks. Even so, they always enjoy any park time they get.

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One day, Ryan’s mom and aunt Renata came to visit. The kids wanted to take them to our other favorite park, and to show them the waterfall. We also enjoyed a picnic lunch at the park, bike riding, and looking for fish in the creek.

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Weekends at the Lake

We are taking full advantage of our summer time at the lake. We have gone pretty much every weekend, even if just for the day. Ryan’s parents recently got some paddle boards, so we have all been enjoying trying them out.

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In August, we also celebrating our sweet Grandma Bev’s birthday. Even though she fell in the lake while trying to help dock the boat, her heart was so full the whole day with all of her kids and grandbabies!

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And of course the kids always enjoy their time with their cousin, Griffin…even if its running around in random sun hats!

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Building Our Home

We are in the homestretch of preparing to build our forever home. Just a couple more weeks and we will be breaking ground. We are all so excited, and we love going to visit the lot whenever we can. I will be taking lots of pictures of the building process so I will be sure to share the progress.

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Brody turned 3 months

Our precious little Brody is growing so fast right in front of our eyes! He is getting so big and so much fun. We are all so obsessed with him. The kids literally fight over who gets to sit closer to him. He is so happy and BUSY…like his brother and sister. He is still pretty go with the flow because as a third kid, he really has no choice…but lately he has less chill days and more busy days and always wants to be on-the-go!

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Here are some updates of our little Bro at 3 months –

  • He talks and squeals a lot – definitely discovering his voice.
  • He loves to suck on his hands.
  • He is much more interactive and LOVES when people talk to him.
  • When laying down on his back, he scoots backwards like a worm.
  • Most nights, he sleeps a 6-7 hour stretch. Some nights he wants to make sure I don’t forget about him and wakes up after just a couple of hours for a midnight snack.
  • He loves looking around and observing everything around him.
  • He often smiles with his tongue out, just like Kinsie did as a baby.
  • He naps best with loud music to drown out the noise of his siblings.
  • He is doing great with tummy time.
  • He is in constant motion. In fact, when I put him down on his playmat and walk away to do something, I’ll come back not even a minute later and he has scooted himself off the mat!
  • On the day he turned 3 months, he tried a new trick and can roll from his belly to his back. The kids love cheering him on when he does this!

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These kids are ALWAYS loving on their baby brother. I feel like I say “Give him some space” a hundred times a day!

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More sweet faces of our favorite little guy…

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We love every single day with this boy. He brings us so much joy. I love seeing the kids in their roles of his big brother and sister. Even if they beat each other senseless often, they are so sweet and loving with Brody. We’ll see how long until he joins in on their wrestling matches!

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Growing month by month…

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Lots of new and exciting changes in August, and now we are looking forward to September. Our Kinsie Kay will be 7 this month!! We love fall and we have so many fun traditions we usually do in this season. However, it is 2020…the year of the pandemic. Things may look different than they usually do, but we still have each other and so much to be grateful for. We’ve been through so much this year already, and our kids have become absolute champs with all the change. We’re ready for our first Indiana fall, even if we mainly enjoy it just from our front porch!

Here is our August 1 Second Everyday video. Enjoy!

February Feels

Luckily, February was a little better than our January. It was still slow, but not as slow as last month. We had a little more to do to keep us busy this month, so that helped. However, it was somewhat of a rough month with Ryan’s work schedule. Probably half of his shifts for the entire month were mid shifts, so either 12pm-9pm, 1pm-10pm, or 3pm-12am. With all of these shifts, he barely got to see the kids, especially Kinsie. As soon as Kinsie would get home from school, he would have to leave for work, and he wouldn’t get home until after they were in bed. Kinsie struggled this month because of this, so we really had to work hard at keeping her spirits up and taking full advantage of whenever Ryan was home. Luckily, we had some nice days so we got to spend more time outside, and we had a family visit at the end of the month, which helped a lot too. Here is how our month went down…

A Day at the Park

We pass by this bridge almost every day. And every time we pass it, Kinsie tells me she wants to go walk on it. On a nice Saturday that Ryan had off, we finally took that opportunity. We took scooters, cars, and snacks and made a morning of it. This was such a nice little park…once you walk across the bridge, there are some trails and a great view of the river. It was a great family park adventure!

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Daddy Daughter Dance

The night before this event, I just happened to come across it on Facebook. I knew our town had a daddy daughter dance last year, but Ryan was working. As soon as I saw it this year and saw that Ryan happened to be off, I mentioned it to him, and he didn’t even hesitate to say that he would love to take Kinsie. This little girl was SO excited to get to go on a date with her daddy, especially in the midst of a couple of tough months of him working. She loved getting dressed up, getting her hair curled, and dancing the night away with her dad! These two truly have a special daddy daughter bond that completely melts me.

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Outside Fun

We were definitely able to get outside more this month than last, and we took every opportunity we could get. Even if we only got to play outside for a half hour before ballet, or take a quick stroll on the path behind our house, we enjoyed the fresh air whenever we could.

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Valentine’s Day Activities

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I have never been a fan of Valentine’s Day…until I had kids. And since the last couple of months have been a bit tougher than we expected, it was a perfect time to show the kids a little extra love that they really needed.

Kinsie loves hand-making her valentines. She loves picking out a craft kit at Hobby Lobby and personalizing them for all her friends and family. We went to the store and picked out her valentines at the end of January, and of course she was working on them that day!

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When we lived in Indiana, Ryan’s Aunt Renata always made valentine cookies with the kids when she would watch them while I worked. When we moved, I have tried to continue that tradition. I may not make them as well as her, but it’s the thought and effort that counts! The kids LOVE making cookies…especially covering them with every kind of sprinkles we own. They probably enjoy making them more than actually eating them!

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The morning of Valentine’s Day, I had a short scavenger hunt that led to the kids’ gifts. They loved going around the house finding the next clue and were so happy to find their gifts at the end!

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I got this idea from Pinterest and knew right away I wanted to do it. Each day, I would add a heart with a reason why we love them on their bedroom door. I started on February 1, and the last heart was added Valentines morning. Kinsie especially loved this, and definitely appreciated the extra love.

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Ryan had to work that evening, but I still had some great valentine dates. We made heart-shaped pancakes and had a great breakfast dinner!

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Special School Days

Kinsie’s class has been learning all about the human body lately. They traced each other’s bodies, and each day they would learn about a different body system, and would add it to their traced body. At the end of the unit, Kinsie’s teacher asked a special doctor to come in and speak to the class about how to stay healthy. The kids LOVED having daddy be a guest speaker in the class!

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Kinsie’s class got to go on a field trip to the Clinton Library to celebrate Dr. Suess’s birthday. Ryan happened to have the day off, so we both went with her and had a special Kinsie morning!

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Family Visit

We had been looking forward to this visit for months now. It seemed to take forever to come, but when it did, it was worth the wait. Both of our parents came to visit, and they brought along a surprise visitor. Kinsie was in shock when she saw that her cousin Kerigan tagged along. They were inseparable the whole weekend!

We enjoyed shopping at Bass Pro Shops and the outlet mall…

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And taking the family to the bridge and park to ride bikes around the trails. (Papa and Yaya also surprised Kinsie with a new bike and she is in LOVE with it!)

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The kids loved running around, riding bikes, climbing trees, and getting an ice cream treat after the park!

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My amazing parents and in-laws spent almost an entire day helping us around the house. They cleaned up all the leaves in the front and backyard (and if you saw our yard, you’d understand just how big of a job this was), cleaned out our gutters, fixed our flower beds, replaced our air vents, and more. This was such a huge help to us, especially since Ryan hasn’t exactly had time to do all that yard work. While the adults worked, the kids enjoyed running around “helping” as well!

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Boy, are we ready for March…and just spring in general. This winter was rougher than we expected, and we are ready to move on from it. March has always been one of my favorite months…especially when I was teaching. It was the end of the first round of ISTEP testing, March Madness, warmer weather, and spring break. Even now that I’m not teaching, it still brings hope after a few rough months. This month will hopefully bring more nice weather, and we will get to go on a trip with our families to Arizona, so we are really excited about that!

Enjoy our February 1 Second Everyday video. Cheers to March!

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!

A November to Remember

Where did November go? I feel like it flew by! We have been having beautiful weather here in Arkansas, so it doesn’t even feel like it’s getting close to winter yet (sorry to rub it in your faces Indiana friends!) This month we enjoyed a visit from some family, lots of Thanksgiving festivities, and preparing for Christmas! Enjoy our November recap!

Grandparent’s Day

As SOON as I knew when Kinsie’s school had Grandparents Day, I let both sets of our parents know and hoped that at least one of them could plan a trip to make it. I really didn’t want Kinsie to be the only one in her class who didn’t have a grandparent there. It worked out for Ryan’s mom and aunt to make a trip to see us for a few days. Aunt Renata is practically a grandma to the kids, so she willingly stepped in. We always love having visitors at our home, and Kinsie loved having them visit her school.

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Decorating for Christmas

Decorating for Christmas always makes us so happy! The kids LOVE all the decorations, lights, and ornaments. Before you judge me too harshly for decorating before Thanksgiving, hear me out on our reasoning. 1) We would be headed to Indiana for Thanksgiving and wouldn’t have been able to decorate until December, 2) Our days with Ryan available are few and far between, and putting up the Christmas tree is a family tradition. We had to take advantage of one of his few days off, 3) We will be spending Christmas in Indiana, and I wanted us all to enjoy our decorations and tree for a worthy amount of time. It made us happy and we always make it a priority to remember the reason for the season, so why not, right?

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We did at least wait to put our outside lights up until after Thanksgiving. Kinsie loved going up in the attic with Daddy. Brax wanted to as well, but that obviously wasn’t happening! We’ve had beautiful weather lately, so the kids enjoyed playing outside and eating popsicles while we put the decorations up.

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My Birthday

We drove to Indiana the evening before my birthday, and I was so glad I got to spend my birthday with all the people I love. We left later in the afternoon, so we were still driving when midnight struck. Of course my sweet mom set her alarm for midnight so she could wish me a happy birthday! I got to spend that evening with my whole family eating chilli and ice cream cake. Birthdays can’t get much better than that! And of course, I had to get a picture with my birthday buddy, my niece Kerigan (her birthday is the day after mine).

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My sister’s birthday present to me was a “sister date” at Board and Brush. We got in touch with our artistic sides and had a great time!birthdaypresent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerigan’s Birthday

Like I said, my niece Kerigan’s birthday is the day after mine, so we’ve always been birthday buddies. Everyone else takes advantage of double birthday cakes! On the night of her birthday, we all went to Kid’s Planet. The kids all loved it!

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A couple days later was Kerigan’s party. She had a princess party, which is right up Kinsie’s alley right now too. Rapunzel (Kinsie and Kerigan’s favorite Disney princess) made a surprise visit and read them a story, danced with them, and spent most of the afternoon talking to all the kids. They loved it! Even though Brax isn’t into princesses, he had fun running amok too!

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Thanksgiving

Before we left Arkansas, Kinsie had a Thanksgiving feast at school. Luckily, we were all able to attend. The kids came out, sang a song, said a prayer, and then joined their families for lunch. Kinsie was a rockstar during the song and followed directions so well. My FAVORITE part, however, was as soon as Kinsie’s class came out, Brax ran up to her and pointed to her and said “Kinsie!!” He was SO excited to see her, even though he had seen her earlier that morning at home. Then once she was done with her presentation and she came to eat with us, they hugged like they hadn’t seen either other in days. They have such a special relationship!

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We spent actual Thanksgiving day with family in Indiana. We started our morning visiting Ryan’s grandma, then we went to Megan’s house for Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan’s dad’s side of the family, then we went to Ryan’s aunt Rita’s house to celebrate with Ryan’s mom’s side, then finally ended up back at my parents to celebrate with my family. It was a LONG day, but we felt so blessed to have so many places to be and so many people to celebrate with.

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Cousin Time

Anytime we visit, the kids’ main request is lots and lots of cousin time! They are all so close and all have a blast together. It doesn’t matter whether they are wrestling on the floor, jumping rope in the garage, coloring, or pushing each other in a laundry basket…they always have fun as long as they’re together!

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Visiting Grandma Graves

Ryan’s grandma has recently been placed on hospice care. While this is extremely difficult for the family, she is very at peace about it and ready to join Jesus in her heavenly home. We were SO lucky to get to visit her several times while we were in town. I say we are so lucky, because Ryan originally didn’t think he’d be able to even make this trip home. However, the week of Thanksgiving happened to be in between two of his rotations, and he was able to schedule all his shifts earlier in the month so that he was able to have a week off. He managed to do this before Grandma Graves declined. It was such a blessing that he had the time off so he could visit with his grandma before she goes home. We loved our visits with her. She loved talking with us, sharing her funny stories, and watching the kids play. She is a gem of a woman…as faithful as they come. She has had several articles published, but my favorite one included this nugget of wisdom, “I’ve never had any money but still I’m richer than the richest because I’ve been blessed with many children and grandchildren.” She is such an amazing woman and she will always inspire me.

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That just about sums up our month. We ended our month with sickness…lots and lots of it. Kinsie started with a bad cold, then Brax got a stomach bug, then I got the stomach bug, then I got the cold, then Brax got the cold, then Kinsie got the stomach bug. Fun times. Not to mention, my mom and my nieces and nephew all got sick too. It has been a very long and exhausting week, and we are so ready to all be completely healthy and back to normal. December will hopefully be filled with lots of Christmas activities and family time. The kids are already anxious for Santa sightings, Christmas lights, and more cousin time!

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!