Soakin’ Up Summer

We soaked up ALL the summer we could this month. Kinsie starts school the first week of August, and Braxton starts the week after that, so we tried to do all the summer-y things we could. It was a fun, busy month with lots of pool time, cousin fun, and family adventures. Here is how our July went…

 

4th of July

Ryan unfortunately worked most of 4th of July weekend, so the kids and I spent our time with family. The Saturday before, we went to the lake for the annual lake fireworks. The big kids got to enjoy the fireworks lakeside with their cousins, and I took Brody back to my parents’ house to go to bed. He isn’t quite old enough to be able to stay up that late, or enjoy the fireworks anyway. Maybe next year!

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The next day, we spent the day at the pool. My sister’s family came and had some of their friends over as well, so the kids had lots of kids their own age to play with. They had SO much fun swimming, lighting sparklers, watching fireworks and catching lightning bugs. And Brody enjoyed corn on the cob, and his mama!

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When Ryan finally had an evening off, he bought a home firework kit to do with the kids. He used to do fireworks all the time growing up, and he hasn’t been able to do any the last few years because he’s almost always working, so he enjoyed being a pyromaniac once again, but this time with his kids!

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Park Day

The kids LOVED this park last year…they called it the “Ninja Warrior Park.” They had been asking when we could go back, so we finally got a chance to make a trip there on a day that wasn’t scorching hot. Brody LOVES to climb, so we laced up his tennis shoes on him and let him join in on the fun. He absolutely loved it!

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A Much Needed Trip

Ryan and I haven’t been on a trip just the two of us since residency interviews…that was almost 5 years ago! It has been a really long few years, and I really needed a break. I love my kids and I love getting to stay home with them, but I haven’t been away from my little mama’s boy for more than a hour or two at a time in his entire life. He stopped nursing in June, so I finally felt somewhat free and needed a short getaway. Ryan had about a week off early in the month, so we booked a last minute trip to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. We booked a cabin for ourselves and had Ryan’s parents watch the kids. It was EXACTLY what I needed!

On our first full day, we did a 14 mile hike – basically hiking through the entire state park. There were stops along the way – so we would stop and enjoy the the scenery whenever we could. We packed a lunch and ate on the trail. Throughout most of the day, we didn’t come in contact with many people…just in the sight-seeing areas there were more people. It was very peaceful to just be surrounded by nature. 

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We spent a morning canoeing on the river.

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We loved exploring together. So many neat caves, rock formations, creeks and waterfalls!

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We especially loved Ash Cave and all the random waterfalls throughout the park. The best/weirdest part of the trip was just running on our own time. Normally our day is dictated by nap time, snacks, etc. And it takes at least an hour to get ready to go anywhere – I usually have to pack enough sunscreen, bug spray, extra clothes, snacks, diapers, etc. and make sure everyone is ready for the day. But it was so nice just to worry about us two only for a few days. It was so nice to spend some uninterrupted time with my Ry!

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Meanwhile, the kids were in good hands…

I was a little nervous on how Brody would handle being away from me. But I knew it was good for both of us. Not only is he is Covid baby and hardly ever even gets to leave the house, but I have always stayed at home with him, so he isn’t used to being watched by other people. Luckily, he did great! Since he wasn’t around me, he clung to his grandma…but I don’t think she minded!

The kids got to spend lots of time with cousins swimming in the pool at the lake, eating popsicles and just living their best life!

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They loved spending time at the playground with cousins too!

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And walking through the creek…

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And getting ice cream of course!

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One of their highlights was having a cousin sleepover at the camper. Aunt Megan stayed with this crazy crew. They watched a movie and loved their first camping experience!

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They also got to go to the Indianapolis Zoo. Before we moved to Arkansas, we had a membership to this zoo, so I took Kinsie all the time. She remembered it pretty well, but we moved when Brax was only 1, so he remembers the Little Rock Zoo more. They had an awesome day at the zoo. They saw lots of animals, had good treats and got souvenirs. I don’t even think they missed us!

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Fun at Home

The kids have been enjoying just spending time at home this summer too. We are still so in love with our new house and are enjoying it to the fullest this summer. They’ve been enjoying our big yard and doing fun water activities, like the mini splash pad, water table and slip n slide!

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They are obsessed with the slip n slide!

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Something they’ve always enjoyed doing was making obstacle courses. Now we have the perfect backyard for them! We even made a special baby version for Brody!

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When we are home and not outside, we are pretty much always in the basement. Brody is still obsessed with the Nugget, and loves destroying anything and everything he can get his hands on. We recently bought a card table and set it up in the basement so we could use it for family games, but the kids mainly like to use it to set up their toys so Brody can’t reach them!

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Cousin Birthday Party

The kids’ cousin Hudson turned 4 this month, and had a fun outdoor Dino-themed birthday party. They had an inflatable water slide and the kids were all obsessed! We stayed most of the day and the kids had an absolute blast.

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Pool Days

Since Ryan had a week off for our trip earlier in the month, the rest of his month was pretty busy with work. Whenever he had a stretch of a few days in a row, the kids and I went and stayed at my parents’ house. We had lots of pool days with cousins! Brody is becoming more and more obsessed with the pool so he loved getting in on the action whenever he could!

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This travel high chair was such a great purchase! Brody loves eating his lunch and snacks pool-side!

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Lots and lots of swimming fun. Brax even learned to swim independently in the deep end… no more floaties for him!

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When mom is too lazy to put on your swim suit and swim diaper…you just go with it!

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The cousins loved pool-side lunch picnics too!

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Splash Pads

We made it a summer goal to check out the local splash pads. I also wanted to somewhat wait until Brody was walking a little more, and he finally started walking regularly in the second half of the month, so we finally made a few day trips to the splash pads. Brody was a big fan of his first splash pad experience!

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Wonderlab

This has become one of our new favorite spots, especially since I feel somewhat safe bringing the kids there. I wanted to bring the big kids one more time before school started, and I’ll probably make it a regular place to bring Brody for a morning activity when the kids are in school!

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Meet Dash!

Kinsie has wanted a bunny for years. We originally planned on letting her have one when he moved back to Indiana, but then we decided to build a new house so we knew we’d have to wait until we were in our new house. The day finally came, and she and Brax were SO excited! They picked out a bunny at the Animal Shelter and named him Dash. Brody has enjoyed him too, even though we have to keep a close eye on him so he doesn’t love on him too much! Koda is still getting used to him. We have to introduce him in small doses and try to get him to understand that he’s a family member, not a snack!

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Getting acquainted with the new member of the family!

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Lots of playtime with Dash!

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Meet Spotty!

Another promise we made was to get Brax a lizard. Ryan has had lots of different reptiles in his day, so he figured a leopard gecko would be the way to go. So now we can officially introduce Brax’s new gecko friend… Spotty! His full name is “Spotty Pickles Dobby!” You gotta love the creativity of kids! 

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Brody Updates

Brody has grown and changed so much lately, I had to share some of his newest tricks!

 

He is officially WALKING. I truly thought this would happen sooner since he’s been crawling since 4 months, and he loves to climb and get into everything. But he took his time and finally got the hang of it. Now he loves toddling around everywhere!

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He’s talking and repeating sounds a lot more. He loves repeating high-pitched screaming and “woo-hoo” sounds, and he likes to imitate different voices. He loves imitating Donald Duck and the Hulk’s voices the most. He says words like hi, cheese, fish, Kinsie, bye, and more.

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He LOVES Mickey Mouse and the whole gang. He always says “hi” to him and gravitates towards any Mickey toy. He doesn’t really watch TV yet, but loves the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Sometimes I will play the song on repeat when I need a couple minutes of him not hanging on me!

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He LOVES to be chased…especially to the Jaws theme! As soon as we start with the “Duh nuh…duh nuh…” music, he immediately gets the biggest smile on his face and starts running away! He cracks up when we catch him!

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He loves drinking whole milk. He gets warm whole milk in the morning when he wakes up and at night before he goes to bed (it helped wean him off of nursing), and it is his favorite part of the day! He gets so excited when he sees his milk and he will sit and chug it until it’s gone!

He is still as crazy as ever, and starting to get more and more “toddler moments” every day. He keeps us busy for sure! Enjoy the video below of his precious walking!

And that was our July. The kids will start school soon, and they are looking forward to it…even if they have to continue masking up (thanks a lot, Delta.) 

Here is our 1 Second Every Day for July. Enjoy!

 

June is Bustin’ Out All Over

I see a trend happening here. Each month seems a little more like normal, and each month is MUCH better than the same month last year. This same time last year was rough, and even though it brought us back to our home in Indiana, and brought us our sweet Brody, it is a time of my life that still gives me heart palpitations when I think about it. This year is better. This year is more normal, and even though I’m watching my kids like a hawk to keep them safe since they can’t yet be vaccinated, we at least feel safe enough to go certain places and do certain activities. This June felt a little more like summer as the way it should be, and it was refreshing!

Here is our June went down…

A Weekend at the Dunes

If you recall, my sweet Abuelita passed away last April. This was right when Covid hit hard, and with our family living in all different states, we couldn’t get together for a long time. Now, a good chunk of us are vaccinated and things are overall getting better, so we planned a celebration of life. We had a short outdoor ceremony at the burial site where my grandpa is already buried. She had such an amazing life and legacy, and she is now in heaven with her Beto instead of trapped in her broken mind here on Earth, so it truly was a celebration.

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After the ceremony, everyone met at the Indiana Dunes State Park. We reserved a shelter, and had lots of Covid-friendly individually-wrapped food. It was great to get to see some of my family that I haven’t seen in over a year – maybe more. We also spent some time at the Lake Michigan beach. The kids LOVED it! They haven’t been to Florida, or any vacation for that matter, in a long time so they were loving it.

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That evening, we put the kids to bed in the hotel room (they were EXHAUSTED), used our phones as a baby monitor, and spent some time hanging out with my aunts, uncles, and cousins in the lobby just talking and laughing. It was so refreshing and a great time!

Cicadas Galore!

This was the month of the cicadas! This was the year of the 17 year life cycle of cicadas where they emerged from underground and flew amok. The kids were ALL about it! Kinsie particularly was so fascinated by them, and even researched them to find out as much as she could about them…and wrote a book about them! (See video below) Certain parts of Indiana were swarmed with cicadas, including Bloomington. One evening, we had a picnic on campus and took a walk afterwards. IU’s campus was seriously invaded by cicadas. They were all over all the trees and buildings, and they would fly around and land on us. It sounds creepy, but it was actually really fun!

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Walking through the very LOUD trails on campus.

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The kids kept catching cicadas and holding them and becoming friends with them.

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Enjoy this video of Kinsie reading her book about cicadas that she wrote.

Champions!

Kinsie’s first softball season is now in the books. She had a great season and improved SO much! Her team was so much fun to watch. They had their end of the season tournament this month. They won their first game, but barely lost in the championship game (8-9). Even though they got 2nd place in the tournament, they were still the regular season champs! I think Kinsie enjoyed it and wants to play again next season!

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Anniversary Date

Ryan and I haven’t been on an anniversary date in YEARS. Four years ago, we were moving and doing the 10 hour drive from Indiana to Arkansas, and were in different vehicles so we barely spent any time together. Then the next 2 years he was either working or we just couldn’t afford a babysitter, and last year, he was still in Arkansas finishing residency and the kids and I were living in Indiana with my parents for the month. Now the stars finally aligned and we were able to have an evening out together. Ryan worked the early shift that day and was off by 3, and we had his mom and aunt come down to watch the kids. We went to dinner, took a walk around campus, and ran to a few stores. It wasn’t much, but it didn’t need to be much. Just being together, without kids was so nice and relaxing and something we don’t get nearly enough of.

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Pool Days

We’ve been enjoying my parents’ pool as often as we can this summer. Whenever we go there to swim, the kids swim literally the entire day. They only get out to eat and pee. I haven’t taken many pool pictures this summer because I’m usually fully hands-on with Brody. He is like Forky and trash with the water – he is constantly speed crawling toward the pool!

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Lake Days

We haven’t been able to spend as much time at the lake as we normally like to with the weather and Ryan’s schedule, but when we do, we soak it in. Ryan was luckily off work for Father’s Day weekend, so we spent the day at the lake. It was just Ryan’s immediate family – his parents, his sister and her family, and his brother. It was such a fun, relaxing and beautiful day. The kids always love playing with their cousin Griffin. Brody enjoyed the water table, kiddie pool, and baby slide. We ended the day with a good dinner and a boat ride.

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Rainy Days

We’ve had a good mixture of beautiful summer days, and dreary rainy days. On those days, at least we have this beautiful house to enjoy! The Nugget is still a huge hit. Brody spends a good majority of his days climbing all over it.

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When Brody was napping one day, we tried something new with the big kids. We made the Nugget into a giant slide on the stairs. This kept them entertained for a while!

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Life with Brody is always fun and never boring. He loves climbing into and onto anything he can find – including his sister, his brother’s laundry hamper, and the beanie baby bin!

We also recently got a good deal on a new kids’ camera for them to share. It came with a green screen so they can do fun animation videos and news reports!

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Life is never boring in this household!

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Soaking up All the SUMMER

Last summer, we did “summer things” but it was a lot harder with a newborn and my postpartum self, and a pandemic, and Ryan not even being with us half the summer. So this year, we are trying harder to do ALL the things.

Morning at the Park

Brax has been asking to go to a playground for a while. He really wanted to go to the playground at the park where he played soccer. One morning before it got too hot, we loaded up and went to the park. There was a daycare there with probably 20 kids, so my kids masked up, kept their distance, and still had a great time.

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Slip n Slide

Brax and Brody got several new water toys for their birthdays, and we’ve slowly been trying them out. Their favorite is probably the slip and slide! Ryan even went a step further and put baby soap on it to make it extra slippery. This kept the kids entertained for hours!

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Even Brody took a few turns on it!

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Kiddie Pools, Sprinklers, and Slides…oh my!

Living in Arkansas without a pool in our backyard, we had to find ways to survive the hot summer days. The kids spent almost every day in the summer playing in the water table, sprinklers, and kiddie pools. Last summer once we moved to Bloomington, our rental house didn’t even have a hose spigot…so we couldn’t do any of those things. When we built our new house, we made sure we didn’t have that problem! The kids have been all about their water toys this year, and now Brody loves getting in on the action too!

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They love their snack breaks!

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Walks on the Trail

We’re still discovering parks and trails near our new home, so we try to spend mornings or evenings finding new areas. We love taking walks and the kids like bringing their scooters or bikes on the trails. Lately, the kids got new Fitbits, so they enjoy running on the trails to try and meet their Fitbit goals!

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Other Outside Fun

Even on the days where we don’t spend the entire day outside, we still try to get our daily vitamins D dose, even if its just an hour, by playing on the driveway with wagon rides, bubbles, or hitting softballs.

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Cincy Zoo Day

It has been a few years since we’ve been to our favorite zoo in Cincinnati. Kinsie still talks about their baby hippo, Fiona, often, and I promised her that once we moved back to Indiana, we would go visit her. Well, Covid made that hard to do last year, so we made it happen this year.

We woke up early and drove the 2.5 hours to the Cincinnati Zoo. To limit crowds, you have to make reservations on the day you want to visit the zoo. Well, I’m not sure exactly how many reservations they allow on one day, because it was SO crowded. It was possibly more crowded than any other day we’ve been there, NOT during Covid. My guess is that they only make non-members make reservations, and members can go anytime they please. It definitely made it harder since the kids aren’t vaccinated, but we did the best we could to keep safe and still have fun.

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We went to the Hippo Cove to see Fiona twice. In the morning, she was sleeping. When we came back in the afternoon, she was very active! We stayed for a while and watched her swim around like a ballerina!

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Kinsie and Brax wore their masks a lot that day. Whenever we had space to ourselves, I let them have breaks, but because it was so crowded, they didn’t get as many mask breaks as I hoped. But they didn’t care, they are champs. They were just happy to be at the zoo. And like usual, Brody was either in the stroller or I was wearing him in the Ergo carrier. If there was ever a crowded exhibit, I just stayed back with Brody away from people and Ryan took Kinsie and Brax to go see it. Overall, we had a great day at our favorite zoo!

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Wonder Lab

Bloomington has a great science lab for kids. Ryan’s mom and sister bought us a family membership for Brax’s birthday last year, but we weren’t able to use it for a long time due to Covid. Now we finally got to visit and it was a wonderful morning! The kids (and Ryan) LOVED everything here. You have to sign up for 2 hour windows, which was the perfect amount of time to see and do everything there.

The kids especially loved the water and bubble area. They even had a baby section that Brody loved. I was SO impressed with their cleanliness and sanitation here. In the baby section, a family could sign up for a 20 minute window to let their child explore, and when their window was up, the staff came around and sanitized EVERYTHING. Everyone above the age of 2 was required to wear a mask, and they truly only allowed a certain number of people in the museum at a time. They had hand sanitizing areas everywhere, and I saw the staff cleaning the areas down often. I told the staff how impressed I was, and I wish more places took it as seriously as they did. Science for the win!

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It was such a good June. Much better than last June. I like this trend, and I hope it continues. I just can’t wait until my kids can get vaccinated so we can truly feel safe going places and being around people. I wish more people would trust science and get the vaccine so we can truly put this all behind us…but at least for now, we are better off than we were this time last year. Baby steps I guess!

Enjoy the 1SE video for June!

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!

Party-presents

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.