Many Celebrations in May

We had a very busy May, and it felt great to be *somewhat* back to normal. We celebrated 2 very special birthdays, the kids finished their school year and stayed busy in sports, and we got to have lots of semi-normal spring and summer fun. It was refreshing!

Braxton’s Surprise Birthday Trip

For the first time in over a year, we took a family weekend trip! We did a surprise birthday trip for our big 5 year old. We didn’t tell him where we were going, so he enjoyed the suspense knowing we were going somewhere special for his birthday weekend.

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Day 1: Kentucky Down Under

We drove about 3 hours to Cave City, Kentucky. The first surprise was Kentucky Down Under. Ryan and I came here with his family when we were engaged, so we knew the kids would love it. It’s an interactive zoo with lots of fun outback animals to see and interact with. This was really Brody’s first time at a zoo too!

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The kids loved the area where you can feed the birds and they climb all over you. Even Brody tried to grab the birds!

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We also loved the outback area where there were kangaroos, emus, and some farm animals openly wandering around. You could buy cups of food to feed the animals. The kids were in heaven and Ryan made best friends with all the animals of course!

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The park was mostly outdoors, so overall we felt pretty safe and comfortable. We kept our masks handy and wore them when we couldn’t distance ourselves from other people. Brody spent his time either in the stroller or in the Ergo carrier, and we did our best to keep him away from people since he can’t wear a mask. He was a trooper! He seemed to enjoy a new environment since he doesn’t get out much. He even took a decent stroller nap in the afternoon.

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The animal show was not super “Covid friendly” since they bunched everyone together in a small amphitheater. I just wore Brody in the carrier and stood to the side away from everyone, and Ryan and the kids wore their masks. The kids still enjoyed the show, and they loved getting to pet (and hold) the snake!

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The kids had a great day and they loved the park! Brax still asks us all the time when we can go back!

Time at the Hotel

This was Brody’s first time staying in a hotel. It was an interesting experience! I couldn’t just let him crawl around since hotel floors are gross, and I couldn’t let him play on the bed much because he would try to dive off. We ended up setting up his pack ‘n’ play and letting him play in there… but he isn’t a huge fan of being contained! That evening we let Brax open his gift, and we got carry out and ate in the room. We were all tired from our busy day so we just took it easy and played in the room and watched TV.

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Brody did not understand bed time with us all in the same room. We turned off all the lights, and I set the kids up with a show on the iPad while Brody fell asleep. I figured he’d be exhausted, but he thought it was party time! He just kept standing up in his bed and talking and screaming happily. After maybe 45 minutes, he finally sat down and passed out. He was up and at ’em early in the morning and woke us all along with him. But it was Brax’s birthday so we were excited to start the day!

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Day 2: Dinosaur World

On the drive, we told Brax to look for clues for where we were going for his big birthday surprise. He finally saw a huge dinosaur statue and started to get an idea! He was so excited!

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We spent all morning exploring Dinosaur World. It isn’t a huge park, and most people could go through the whole thing in maybe an hour, but we spent more time than usual because Brax wanted to see and read every single thing possible. There was a walk through the woods where you would see life-size dinosaur statues, and Brax wanted a picture with every single one! Later I took all the pictures from Dinosaur World and put them all in a Shutterfly book with facts about each dinosaur so he could look at it whenever he wanted!

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There was also a fun dinosaur-themed playground and we let the kids play for a while. Even Brody enjoyed it!  After a while, we let the kids pick out something from the gift shop, then we left. Brax LOVED Dinosaur World. He said he wanted to live there! It was a perfect place to spend his birthday!

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We told Brax he could choose anywhere he wanted for lunch. Or if he wanted a certain type of food, we could find something. Of all the possibilities, he chose Wendy’s!

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Ryan’s parents were watching our dog for the weekend, so we had them meet us back at home so we could eat dinner together and get ice cream for dessert. Brax requested our favorite ice cream shop, Jiffy Treat. He had a wonderful 5th birthday and couldn’t wait to tell his teachers and friends about his weekend!

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Mother’s Day

Ryan had to work in the afternoon, so we spent the morning together as a family. It was a gloomy, rainy day, so while Brody took his morning nap, we all watched a movie together. Once Brody woke up and Ryan headed to work, the kids and I spent the afternoon at my parents’ house. It was laid back and relaxing, and the kids just enjoyed having fun together like usual!

For Brody, every day is Mother’s Day!

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The kids made a “stuffed animal parade” along the balcony. This is just an example of the many creative things they do when they play together!

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Fully Vaccinated!

On May 4th, I got my 2nd Covid vaccine! I thought Star Wars Day was a good day to become fully vaccinated, and I prepared with an appropriate band-aid. I did have some symptoms with this vaccine, but it was tolerable. Once the kids were in bed that evening, I started having chills and body aches. I didn’t sleep great, but I was able to rest a little the next day and manage the body aches with Advil. By about 24 hours post vaccine, I was completely fine. 100% worth it!

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My sister got me this amazing hat so that WHEN I feel comfortable going out in public without my mask, at least people will know that I am vaccinated! 

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Outdoor Living

I’m not going to lie, spring weather has not shown its face as often as I’d like at this point in the year. We’ve had so many random cold and rainy days. BUT, we take advantage when we can. Brody is a little outdoor boy. He loves it! He has been enjoying his new outdoor toys like his swing and walking lawn mower.

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Whenever Renata comes over, she always tries to do something fun with the kids. One day she brought stuff for the kids to paint birdhouses and flower pots.

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Enjoying the outdoors whenever they can!

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It has only been warm enough to set up the water table once or twice, but when we do, Brody gets real excited. He splashes like crazy and gets himself soaked immediately!

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It’s an annual tradition to start the swimming season by all the cousins jumping in the pool together holding hands (Brody will join someday!)

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Lake season has started as well and we’re real excited about it! We were there a lot last summer, but Brody was such a tiny baby he obviously couldn’t enjoy it much. Now he loved it. He wasn’t crazy about the boat ride, but mainly because he didn’t like wearing his life jacket. The big kids loved swimming and riding the paddle boat with their cousins!

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Dinosaur Birthday Bash

Since the boys’ birthdays are only 2 weeks apart, we decided to have a combined birthday party for them. Brax was really excited to share his party with his brother! We let him pick the theme and of course he picked dinosaurs! Since Covid is still a factor, AND we still don’t know very many people in our town yet, we stuck with a small family-only party…just the people the kids are closest to.

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We were excited to finally get to host something at our new house! I had a lot of help prepping for the party – even if it was just someone coming to entertain the kids so I could clean! Ryan’s sister Megan made me some banners and the matching shirts for the birthday boys. And Aunt Renata made her famous cookies! We ordered Jimmy Johns for the main food and I ordered cakes from a local lady who has a side cake business. They turned out really cute!

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I didn’t have a whole lot of activities planned, but I didn’t have to. These kids are all so close they can have fun doing anything! 

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It was a team effort to open presents. I helped Brax, and Ryan helped Brody. Kinsie and a few of the cousins delivered the presents to the boys when they were ready for another present to open. Brody was so funny opening his presents. He would open one, then want to play with the toy and wouldn’t want to put it away to open the next. And he continued to get distracted and tried to crawl away. When he opened a jumbo pack of Puffs (his favorite snack), he was so excited and didn’t want to put them down!

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We all sang “Happy Birthday,” and dug into the cake and ice cream. Brody got his own special smash cake!

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Of course we all had to be dressed in our dinosaur gear!

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Brody loved his smash cake! He seemed to enjoy eating the cake, but honestly, he didn’t eat THAT much. He mainly just played in the cake. He loved squishing it between his fingers and rubbing it in his hair!

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My kids LOVE doing the piñata, so we made sure we got one. Now that most of these kids are playing softball or baseball now, they broke into the piñata sooner than they ever had in the past!

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It turned out to be a great party. The week leading up to party day, the forecast said it was 100% chance of rain. Somehow, it turned out to be a perfect, beautiful day. After the party activities, the adults hung out and talked and the kids all ran around in the backyard and the basement. It was a great day!

 

Brody’s FIRST Birthday

Our littlest love turned ONE this month! Since we had the party the day before, we had somewhat of a low-key birthday for our boy (after all, it was a Monday!) The kids still had school, but Ryan was off work so Brody got to spend the morning with mommy and daddy.

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After Ryan dropped the kids off at school, he stopped to get Brody his first official birthday donut. He was a big fan!

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Once the kids were home, we set up Brody’s gift in the basement and brought him down to see it. He loves tents, so we got him a pop up tent and tunnel, and bought balls to put in it. He LOVED it! Kinsie and Brax enjoyed playing in it with him too!

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In the evening, we got Culver’s for dinner and Brody loved his first cheeseburger. We also got ice cream for dessert. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him and let him try some ice cream. You could tell he liked the taste, but it was too cold…he kept making a shivering sound! We ended up letting him have some of his leftover smash cake for dessert and he enjoyed that too. He had a great day!

 

Sports Life

Sports kept us very busy this month! Brax had soccer once a week, and Kinsie had softball practice once a week, and at least one game a week. Normally, Brax’s soccer and Kinsie’s practices were at the same time on Saturdays, so Ryan and I had to divide and conquer. But a few times, Kinsie’s practice got cancelled so we got to see Brax play soccer. 

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Kinsie has improved TREMENDOUSLY this season. She started the season barely hitting the ball and she wasn’t the best at fielding either. But between my dad, Ryan, and her coaches, she has gotten so much better! She gets on base every game now and even gets in on the fielding action! We are so proud of her progress!

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End of the School Year

The end of the school year is always a fun time. We were so sad that the kids didn’t get to experience it last year. 

 

Braxton got to celebrate his birthday at school this month. He got to bring the snack that day (we brought pre-packaged cupcakes), and the class sang to him while he wore the birthday hat!

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Brax also had an end of the year program. There were only 2 guests per child allowed, we had to wear masks the entire time and space out in the auditorium. Luckily, Grandma Bev came down to watch Kinsie and Brody so that Ryan and I could go to the program. Brax was all business throughout his songs, then at the VERY end he did a crazy face pose! 

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Brax had a WONDERFUL school year. We absolutely loved his school, and we are looking forward to Brody getting to attend there someday. His teachers were amazing, and he made significant growth this year – both emotionally and academically. He made some great friends too! He will be attending the half day Kindergarten program next year at the same school, then he’ll be moving on to Kinsie’s school after that!

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Kinsie loved her end of the school year too. Their class counted down the last 10 days of school with 10 fun activities – such as stuffed animal day, an ice cream snack, watching a movie, and working with a partner for the day. Her school district has been very cautious with Covid all year, so they avoided a lot of normal end of the year activities…but they still made it special for the kids. She is looking forward to things becoming more normal as time goes on so she can experience all the fun normal school activities!

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How amazing are our kids though? They had the craziest year, but they got through it with a smile on their face (under their mask!) They didn’t let all the unknown and crazy of the world bother them. They were just happy to be at school and see their friends. I wish adults could be more like kids!

 

Beginning of Summer Vacation

The first few weeks of summer vacation were not exactly summer weather. It rained or was 60 degrees or less most days, so we spent a lot of time indoors. Luckily, we had a few new toys that kept them busy! My mom saved ALL of my beanie babies from when I was little – specifically for her grandkids to someday play with. Now that we were settled into our house, my parents brought over the tubs (yes, multiple) of beanie babies. The kids LOVED going through all of them and sorting them into categories. And I may have enjoyed looking through them as much as they did!

We also spent time playing in the tent and doing some virtual reality. Yes, Ryan got new toys too!

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The best new toy, however, is the Nugget. My sister-in-law first told me about these months ago, and I knew I wanted one once we were in the new house. I ordered one back in March when we moved in, but they are VERY popular, so they were backordered about 2 months. Well, our long awaited delivery came just in time for summer vacation. So far the kids have been OBSESSED!

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They have used it as a couch, a fort, a slide, and a climbing ramp. I think Brody may love it the most!

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Memorial Weekend

Last year on Memorial Weekend, I was in the NICU with Brody at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and was less than a week away from moving to another state. This year, we got to spend it together as a family with a happy, healthy, crazy little one year old! 

We went to my parents’ house on Sunday to watch the race and have a pool day. Most of the day it was actually pretty cool – too cold to swim in my opinion. But the kids didn’t care! Even though it was only 65 degrees outside, they spent the majority of the day in the pool. In the late afternoon, the temps finally seemed high enough for Brody to get in the pool. At first we let him sit on the side and watch the kids, but he kept trying to dive in so we figured he wanted to get in!

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Brody loved the pool…just like I figured he would. He is a huge fan of the bath and splashes like crazy, and he was the same way in the pool. I have a feeling this little guy will keep me busy this summer!

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We spent the night at my parents’ house that night so we could wake up and head straight to the lake the next morning. It was only Ryan’s parents and his brother at the lake that day, which was nice! When Brody was napping, we went fishing with the kids. At first they were nervous to hold the fish, but eventually they got brave enough to do it, and then they didn’t want to stop!

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Once Brody woke up, we let him see one of the fish we caught. And, like I figured he would, he tried to eat it!

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Last winter, Ryan’s parents bought a camper to keep at the campgrounds. We drove golf carts down to the campgrounds to see it for the first time. We loved seeing the camper of course, but the big highlight was the cicadas! They were EVERYWHERE around the campgrounds. Kinsie is obsessed. She would find them at recess and play with them, and already knows all kinds of facts about them. Now she got Brax and Brody into them too. They were collecting them and playing with them. Kinsie even took one back to the lake house with her and made a little habitat in a jar. She has always been my nature girl!

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We ended the evening with a boat ride. This time, I just wore Brody in the Ergo carrier and he enjoyed it much more this time! We had a great weekend together!

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We had a wonderful month of May. It felt more like the way it should be. I know things are not completely back to normal, and I won’t feel 100% better until my kids are able to get vaccinated, but it is SO nice that Ryan and I are both fully vaccinated. I feel a little more comfortable going places now, especially outside. My kids are kind of socially awkward and don’t get close to people they don’t know anyway, so it works out! We are hoping to spend a lot of our summer days enjoying our own backyard (we got a TON of outdoor toys for the boys’ birthday), swimming at Yaya’s pool, hanging out at the lake, and hopefully some other fun adventures as well. 

Happy Summer and enjoy our May 1 Second Everyday!

 

Fall Family Fun

We have had an extremely busy fall season so far! Between teaching, the busy season of photography and chasing around a 1-year-old, I’ve hardly had time to breathe let alone sit down and write a blog post! Ryan has also had a very intense semester so far. He’s had an average of 2 tests per week, which means he is spending the majority of his time studying. I have to give him a lot of credit though, even in the midst of a very demanding semester, he has still managed his time well enough to enjoy lots of quality time with Kinsie and me. Luckily, this was the first year that IU had a fall break, so Ryan had about 4 days off at the end of October, and even better, it happened to fall on the same week as my fall break! Because of our limited time together, we are always thankful for any extra days we get to spend as a family.

As Kinsie gets older, she is becoming more and more aware of when her daddy is around and when he’s not. When he’s not home, she does ok and still has fun, but when he is home, she is clearly in her happy place. She LOVES having her daddy home and she will spend all her time wallering all over him and giving him hugs and kisses. While it is harder this year to have him gone since Kinsie is older and more aware, I am grateful that she was so little throughout most of Ryan’s time in Muncie, and that he’ll be back home with us before she turns 2.

We’ve had lots of fun adventures over the last month with our girl. We took her to the pumpkin patch for the first time, which she loved! She could have crawled around and climbed all over the pumpkins all day. We went to Anderson Orchard for the first time, and we were very pleased with it. Good prices and lots of fun family activities!

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pumpkin patch collage

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As I mentioned last year, Ryan and I always go all out on carving pumpkins. Last year was a little different because we were busy with a newborn, but this year we made sure that we made time for extreme pumpkin carving, and we even got to include Kinsie in the fun this year. We let her help clean out her own pumpkin. She wasn’t so sure about sticking her arm in the pumpkin and taking the seeds out, but she LOVED seeing her carved pumpkin all lit up!

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Proud of her Hoosier bear pumpkin!

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Ryan’s pumpkin- “V” from V for Vendetta

My pumpkin- “Olaf” from Frozen

As you know, Kinsie is obsessed with animals, so we take advantage of any opportunity we get to take her to the zoo. During the month of October, the Indianapolis Zoo has their “Zoo Boo” where kids dress up in their costumes or Halloween gear at the zoo. A lot of the animals play with pumpkins, and zoo workers pass out candy. It took Kinsie a while to understand the idea of collecting candy, but soon she became a pro. We later met up with my sister and her family, so the kids got to have cousin fun at their favorite place!

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Zooboo collage

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This year for Halloween, we dressed Kinsie up as her favorite animal, a bear. We were really excited to take Kinsie around in her wagon to go trick-or-treating for the first time. However, those of you in the Indy area know how awful the weather was on Halloween night. It was probably 30 degrees, windy and rainy…so we had to change our trick-or-treating plans. We just drove to my parents house and helped pass out candy to the brave and dedicated ones who did walk around outside. Ryan’s family visited as well, so our little bear still had fun!

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Kinsie and I were very grateful to have Ryan home with us for a few extra days, and that he was able to go on all of our fun fall adventures with us. Kinsie always cherishes any time with her daddy that she can get!

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Livin’ the Lake Life

This summer has been full of adventures for me, Ryan and the little one, including many trips to my in-laws’ lake house at Heritage Lake. I’ve been going to Heritage Lake with Ryan’s family since we were in high school. Whether we went in the summer to go boating, or in the winter to just watch movies and make s’mores, it has always been a place that we feel lucky to have available to us. We’ve made lots of memories there, and now we get to share the fun with our little girl. Kinsie’s first visit to the lake was when she was only 2 months old, so she obviously didn’t do much except sleep that visit, but now she is LOVING her visits to the lake! She loves taking boat rides, lounging on the hammock, taking rides on the golf cart, and watching us catch fish. I had a feeling from the beginning that we would have quite an adventurous outdoorsy girl on our hands and boy was I right!

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We are truly enjoying every moment we have together as a family this summer before I go back to work and Ryan starts his second year of med school. Of course I would love spending time with my husband regardless of the circumstances, but not having him around as much during the school year has taught us to cherish our time together. Nothing makes us happier than spending quality time together at the lake with Kinsie. Really, it doesn’t matter where we are. We could be at the lake, at the beach, or stuck in the house on a rainy day. As long as I am with those two, I am in my happy place!

One Month Old!

I can’t believe my baby is already a month old! Although time is going a bit quicker than I would like, I can’t even remember what my life was like before she was born. She has given Ryan and I a new meaning to our lives, and even though it isn’t easy, we wouldn’t change it for the world.

I made a short video that does my best to capture the past month of our lives. I have to admit, I copied this idea from my sister when Briggs was one month old, but I thought it was a much more exciting way of sharing these memories than simply posting photos. Hopefully Kinsie will also enjoy watching this someday!

What we’ve learned about Kinsie so far:

  • She hated her car seat at first, but now falls asleep as soon as she gets in it.
  • She sleeps better when swaddled tightly with a blanket.
  • Music relaxes her.
  • She’s tiny, but very strong.
  • She LOVES to be held.
  • She grunts in her sleep.
  • She can hold her head up for 10-15 seconds at a time.
  • She doesn’t like being naked.
  • She loves her pacifier, but is often too lazy to suck on it to keep it in herself.
  • She moans when she eats.
  • She is very expressive with her face when she sleeps.
  • She has her daddy’s eyes and her mommy’s lips.
  • She doesn’t mind when the dogs lick her.
  • She loves to make and copy faces with her mommy and daddy.
  • She loves snuggling on her daddy’s chest.
  • She is fascinated by lights.
  • She is the most needy when her mommy has a lot to do.
  • She has made her mommy and daddy experience a whole new kind of love.