The March that Nobody Expected

Our March started out great, and we were looking forward to listing our house, and visiting Indiana to start house-hunting. Well as you all know, things took an unexpected turn for the entire world with the global pandemic, COVID-19. This virus turned everyone’s world upside down. For our family personally, it has been really hard with me being very pregnant with 2 kids now fully at home since schools are closed until further notice…and all of this while I was trying to get the house prepared to put on the market. Most importantly, Ryan works in the emergency department, so he is on the frontlines of this battle, which is the scariest part. We have been social distancing and doing e-learning and trying to come up with creative ways to let the kids get their energy out, but the idea that Ryan has the risk of being exposed every time he steps into work has caused me a great deal of anxiety. I have gone through several stages of emotions this month…from full on panic and anxiety, to somewhat acceptance UNTIL another major change happens, to anticipating more major changes and trying to find mental peace when they happen, and so on…but overall, the only thing that is really getting me through this is my faith. When I feel weak, I pray. When I feel hopeless, I pray. When I feel anxious, I pray. When I feel overwhelmed, I pray. I hate to admit that I haven’t been living this way the last few months. With so much going on in our lives, I’ve just been a little energizer bunny constantly going and doing and taking control of every situation and marking things off my checklist like a mad woman. God has really used this pandemic as an opportunity to humble me and make me slow down and let go of the control that I thought I had and just trust Him. This month has been so hard and scary, and I know the pandemic isn’t even over yet, but I am grateful that God has used it to open my eyes and realize that I need to fully trust Him.

With all that said, here is a rundown of our crazy month…

Enjoying the weather (pre-pandemic)

March has always been one of my favorite months, and in Arkansas, the weather is usually amazing from March – May before the intense summer heat comes. Ryan worked a lot of weekends and nights early on, so the kids and I had to find activities that I  could physically manage and still let them run around. Before COVID-19 came around, we still made trips to our favorite park as often as we could!

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Book Character Day

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday week, Kinsie’s school had several dress-up days focused around Dr. Seuss books, such as “Cat in the Hat” day (wear a hat), “Fox in Socks” day (wear crazy socks), etc. On Friday of this week, the kids got to dress as any book character and bring the book if they had it. Kinsie chose to dress as Pinkalicious! I always loved book character day as a teacher, and I’m so glad that I got to help Kinsie be a part of it now!

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Wye Daffodil Festival at “Daffodil Hill”

Every year, Wye Mountain has an entire field full of daffodils, and when they are in full bloom, they have a festival. I always saw people posting pictures of it, but each year it didn’t work out with our schedule for us to check it out. Luckily this year, we were able to make it work, even though Ryan was coming off of night shifts and was sleep deprived…but he knew this was our last chance so he took one for the team. The kids loved running and rolling through the fields of daffodils and I loved all the beautiful photo opportunities. Little did we know, COVID-19 was on its way, and this was our last real adventure before the recommended quarantine began, so I am especially grateful that we took the time to check it out. It is also funny looking back at these photos, because this was the last time Ryan had his facial hair. With the virus, Ryan has to stay clean shaven in order for his N-95 mask to fit properly. No complaining here…I love him no matter what and I’ve learned to embrace his scruff, but I do love seeing more of his handsome face!

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E-Learning Days

When Kinsie found out that she wouldn’t get to go to school for a while due to the virus, she bawled. My sweet girl loves school so much, and she hated the idea of not seeing her teacher and her friends for a while. I always said that homeschooling would never work for us, and I still believe that, but I am very impressed and surprised with how well e-learning from home has been going so far. Kinsie stays much more focused than I expected, and all of her teachers have done a fantastic job keeping their lessons online as normal as possible, just like they would be had they been at school. Her main teacher posts videos every day with their spelling and phonics lessons, and even does a read aloud video every day. There are often fun activities the kids can do too, like make a leprechaun trap on St. Patricks Day. All of the specials teachers post fun lessons for them as well, and I about melted at the videos the music teacher posted singing her “hello song” to each individual class with her ukulele! This school has been such a blessing for Kinsie this year, and I know we will miss it. Brax really wanted to learn too, so I used my old online teaching resources and printed worksheets for him to practice letters, numbers, colors, and more. Once he finished his worksheets for the day, he could do learning apps on the iPad until Kinsie was finished with her work.

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Kinsie’s school, and many other schools that I have heard about, have been providing free breakfasts and lunches to students while school was out. Kinsie’s school also made these meals available to any kids, not just students of the school, of any age, as long as they were in the car with you when you picked them up. The kids were pumped to pick up our free meals and enjoyed them all week.

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St. Patrick’s Day

Not that we do a whole lot on this day anyway, but it’s a fun excuse to dress up and take a picture!

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St. Patrick’s Day is always special to our family though, considering Ryan’s Match Day happened to be on this holiday 3 years ago. I have SO many emotions about this day, and now I am super nostalgic about it since we are ALMOST DONE with residency!!

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Kinsie’s First Tooth

Recently, Kinsie noticed that she had her first wiggly tooth. She was SO excited because she sees her classmates losing teeth all the time and always wondered when she would start losing her teeth. She wiggled nonstop (of course during a pandemic, my first piece of advice to her was to always make sure her hands were clean before wiggling her tooth!) Each meal she ate caused her wiggly tooth to become a little looser. Finally one night, I told her it was SO close and I could probably get it easily. Surprisingly she let me, and it indeed came out so easily…so easily in fact that it didn’t even hurt at all! She was so excited and loved getting her first visit from the tooth fairy the next morning! The tooth right next to it is now starting to wiggle, so she’s been working on that one next!

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Selling the House

We’ve been preparing for this for months. After LOTS of decluttering and storing, painting and repairs and deep cleaning…it was finally time to list our house! Getting our house “show ready” with 2 kids, 2 dogs, lots of rain, hence, lots of mud and dirt tracked in, all while being 8 months pregnant…definitely no easy task! On top of all that, this was right when COVID-19 came about, so then we had the added worry that people wouldn’t be out trying to buy houses right now. We went ahead and listed it, hoping it would at least get a lot of online attention while everyone was quarantined at home.

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Our house officially went on the market on a Monday, and the VERY next day, we had 3 showings! We were supposed to be in Indiana the first week our house was listed, but we decided it wasn’t best to travel during the pandemic, especially being around our families with Ryan working in health care, so instead we stayed home. Before we found out about the 3 upcoming showings, Ryan had already planned on picking up a couple of extra shifts to make some extra “moonlighting” money. So I was on my own with getting the kids and dogs out of the house!

The first showing was around lunch time, so we loaded up the car and grabbed fast food and just hung out in the car. It was rainy out anyway, and the kids stayed entertained watching a movie and doing activity books.

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The second 2 showings were in the evening back to back, and it was nicer outside, so we grabbed some dinner and had a picnic at the park. Apparently since this was the first sight of nice weather in about a week, EVERYONE else in the town decided to go to the park as well, making it very hard to implement social distancing. We sat at our own little picnic table by the lake, then tried to find areas in the park for the kids to play without other people. The kids helped me walk the dogs, and we used hand sanitizer after touching literally anything. Both the kids and dogs were very good, but even so, afterwards I was EXHAUSTED!

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After just 1 day of being on the market, and 3 showings, we have officially accepted an offer and are under contract! It was truly a God thing that this all happened so quickly even during a pandemic. It is such a relief that I don’t have to continue having the physical stress of keeping the house ready, but even more not having the emotional stress of wondering if our house would sell before we needed to move. The best part is that we negotiated with the buyers to let us stay in the house until the end of May, which will be super helpful since the baby comes sometime in May. The kids and I will move out then, and Ryan will find a co-resident to stay with until he finishes out his contract at the end of June.

Social Distancing Spring Break

Like I mentioned before, we were very sad to make the decision not to travel to Indiana for spring break, but we definitely felt that it was the right thing to do. We were planning on house hunting, and even though that was our only chance to go, we’ve continued to look online, and we are very blessed that we at least have 2 realtors in the family that I fully trust to look at the houses we like and help us make a decision. Anyway, the first few days of spring break were rainy, so we had to entertain ourselves inside, at home. This included getting our the Easter eggs and having indoor egg hunts, lots of dancing and Go Noodle videos (short dance along videos for kids to follow), drawing and coloring, puppet shows, live stream videos of animals at the zoo, and even a few naps!

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Luckily, we didn’t have gloomy weather for too long while the kids were home for spring break. As soon as the rain stopped, we busted outside as often as we could while still maintaining social distancing. On one of the days, we took a family walk (dogs and all) around the park. Ryan doesn’t get to do this with us very often, so it was nice to share this time with him.

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The next few days we had WONDERFUL weather. We spent about 4 days in a row outside all day.

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The kids loved having nature scavenger hunts and combining the nature items they found to create new “inventions.”

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One day, we had straight up summer weather. It was 87 degrees! We took advantage of the weather and let the kids have their first pool and sprinkler day. They loved it! They even washed my car and found a lizard friend. This day made me very grateful that I won’t be pregnant through the real Arkansas summer, because the heat from this day was rough on my very pregnant body!

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Another day, the kids were running out of ideas to do in our own yard, and it wasn’t quite warm enough to do the water activities again. I came up with the idea to make a “board game” on our driveway and they loved it. Both kids helped me plan out our game, and all the obstacles and accelerations that would come with it. When we were done, Ryan took an aerial picture from the top of his Jeep, then we played the game… a lot!

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Some of the specific parts of the game included:

  • Frog jump ahead 3 spaces
  • Bubble Spill – lose 1 turn
  • Swimming with fish shortcut (Kinsie’s idea was to wear goggles while taking this shortcut!)
  • Stuck in the ball pit, lose 1 turn (they would literally sit in a bin filled with balls)
  • Scooter ride acceleration
  • Frisbee toss ahead 3 spaces
  • “God Bless America,” march ahead 3 spaces
  • Duck crossing, go back 2 spaces to allow them time to cross
  • Hit by a water balloon, lose a turn to dry off

I asked Kinsie what she wanted the “end goal” of the game to be, and she said that the goal is to get to “Princess and Superhero World!” It was actually a lot of fun creating the game with them, and they played it nonstop until it eventually rained and washed the game away.

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Pregnancy Updates

At 32 weeks, we entered our 8th month of pregnancy. At the most, I have about 8 weeks left, but with my history, and based on how I’ve been feeling, I probably have less time than that. This month has been tough emotionally for obvious reasons, but it has also gotten much more physically difficult for me. Moving around in any way takes about 10 times more effort than usual, and my hips are really starting to hurt…I can physically feel my body getting itself ready for labor.

Here are some updates and/or changes at 8 months:

  • This boy has not calmed down…not even a little bit! It is safe to say that he is by far my most active child in utero. He also seems to be very strong, because his kicks send shockwaves of pain through my ribs, my hips and my bladder!
  • He is currently anywhere around 4 pounds and 17 inches long.
  • My ankles and feet are starting to swell. Lately I’ve TRIED to sit down as often as possible, but…you know…kids. Ryan is a MAJOR help whenever he is home. Kinsie usually tries to help, but is often is oblivious, and Brax is just Brax…he doesn’t really understand.
  • Like I said before, my hips are giving out on me. In the evenings in particular they really hurt and I can feel my ligaments stretching, making it painful to walk.
  • My carpal tunnel syndrome is slowly getting worse. It’s not unbearable yet, but I have to sleep every night with wrist braces, and now I wear a brace on my right hand throughout most of the day. The less I use my hands, the better it feels…but its kind of impossible not to use my hands!
  • I developed two new random cravings this month – apple juice and grapes. But not necessarily together.
  • We THINK we have his name picked out…but you’ll have to wait until he’s born to find out!
  • Bright side – at least this quarantine is happening when I’m too physically exhausted to run around anyway!

This photo was taken at 32 weeks – baby was the size of a cantaloupe

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The kids LOVE feeling their brother move. When they snuggle with me on the couch, their hand usually finds my belly and just rests there so they can feel his crazy movements.

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My sweet Kinsie has the tendency to drop something on the ground whenever she is done with it, whether it is a toy, her jacket, her shoes, etc. Ryan and I have been trying to explain that she needs to pick things up and put them in the right spot, especially now to help me out. This message was not quite getting through, so we had to take it a step further. We found a 2 pound medicine ball and wrapped it around her body with seran wrap, then I had her wear it around for a few minutes and try to pick up various things around the kitchen. She was not a fan (she wouldn’t even let me get a picture so I had to sneak one), but she started to understand! Now whenever she starts becoming “unhelpful” again, I remind her of the lesson and she starts to help more. My sister called this lesson “Empathy for the family way!”

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I’ve been trying to soak up my time as just a mom of 2, and trust me, I’ve had LOTS of time with my 2 the last month! They often drive me crazy but goodness I love them and all their crazy and unique idiosyncrasies. I can’t wait to meet this new little one and get to know his unique crazy self too!

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We still had lots of good moments this month, but it definitely was not the month that anyone expected. I am praying constantly that COVID-19 will start to slow down soon so we can all feel safe leaving our homes again and continuing our lives, but I am trying to prepare my mind for the possibility that it could still last a while.

My 2 biggest fears right now are 1) that Ryan gets infected and has to be put on quarantine when the baby comes, and 2) that the virus continues so heavily that the kids won’t get to finish their school year at their schools here in Arkansas. This is supposed to be such an exciting time for us, and the idea of the kids not getting to say goodbye the proper way to their teachers and friends just breaks my heart. With my first fear, I know that its a possibility, but I also know that Ryan is doing everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t happen. He is always wearing his PPE at work, and cleaning and sanitizing himself and all of his materials before he even comes into the house and hugs any of us. This month has proved to me even more that my husband is a freaking rockstar. He is handling everything so well both physically and mentally, AND helping me and the kids through it too. I am so grateful for everything he does for us and the fact that I get to do life with him every day. With the second fear, I know this is also a good possibility, and Kinsie knows it too. I told her that if this happens, we will do whatever we can to make sure she gets to say goodbye to the people she has grown close to here in Arkansas, whether its through FaceTime, or even if we need to come back a few months after we move when this has all been cleared. Only time will tell how the rest of this all plays out.

I’ve come a long way mentally and emotionally in just one month, but I know I have only been given the strength to do that through God. Don’t get me wrong, I still have weak moments…every single day. But I’ve been doing a LOT of praying, talking with family and just focusing on all the good things happening, and that is what is getting me through it. Praying for everyone else out there and hoping you all STAY HOME and STAY HEALTHY!!

Here is our March 2020 1 Second Everyday video…

 

Kinsie Kay is SIX!

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

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Here are some stats about our big six year old!

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

 

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

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

Three and Thriving!

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

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

Other Fun Facts about our boy:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April Sunshine

We had a lot going on in April! We had a lot of fun experiences, stayed busy, and had an awesome visit from family. While April is usually filled with lots of rain, (which we still had plenty of), we had tons of beautiful sunshine as well. Like I’ve said before, spring weather here is Arkansas is on point. We probably spent more time outside this month than we did inside. Any chance we got, we spent it outside. This was good for all of our souls, and we soaked in every minute of it. Here is a recap of our April.

Brax’s First Movie Theater Experience

One of Braxs’s favorite Disney movies is Dumbo, so as soon as we knew that they were making a live-action version, we wanted to see it right away. We don’t go to the movies often…it has to be something we really want to see for us to go. Since our boy loves Dumbo, we figured this would be a great opportunity for his first time at the movie theater. The movie was wonderful, and the kids did great! Brax spent most of his time eating popcorn, and climbing all over me asking when the movie would be over…but once it actually was, he kept saying he wanted to see it again!

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A Ballerina Birthday Party

Kinsie was invited to another friend from school’s birthday parties. This time, Daddy was able to stay home with Brax, so I got to have a little girl time with Kinsie. This party was a ballerina themed party, with a guest visit from the Sugar Plum Fairy. Kinsie was a little starstruck, but loved spending time with her friends and getting her face painted.

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No More Pacifier…and No More Naps

Last August, we took Brax’s pacifier away and let’s just say, it was a complete disaster. We gave up and decided to try again later. The time had come again when I knew we just had to suck it up and do it. We prepared him for weeks, telling him he’s a big boy now, and big boys don’t need pacifiers. We told him that his baby cousin was coming to visit soon and he needed to give his pacifier to Griffin. Luckily, this time around, things went much better! He still had a couple of rough nights falling asleep, and a few very early mornings, but overall, he’s done great! This was a huge hurdle for us considering he was very attached to his paci at night.

Ever since we got rid of his pacifier, naps have gone out the window. Each time I tried, he wanted nothing to do with it. I knew this might happen, so at least I was somewhat mentally prepared. Back to the minor setbacks he’s had with this big change, one morning he woke up at 5am and refused to go back to sleep. The next day, I made him go to his bed for a nap. Again, he wanted nothing to do with it and fought and screamed. I just left him in there, and eventually we noticed on the monitor that he was sitting up, but not moving. That little stinker was stubborn, but exhausted. He fell asleep sitting up in his bed! I still laugh when I look at the picture below on the right. Sorry buddy…Mama won this battle!

nomorepaci

T-ball is in Full Swing

We are in the midst of t-ball season, and it is keeping us busy. Kinsie still loves it, and Brax loves going to watch her. She even had a special visitor come to one of her games. Even though Megan and Griffin were only able to make it for the last inning due to a diaper blowout, Kinsie was excited that they got to see her bat.

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Give us ALL the Outside Time!

Even though I miss it, one plus side to Brax not napping anymore is that we don’t really have as much of a schedule on when to be back home or back inside…so we’ve been spending all day every day outside.

We like to change it up between the front yard, backyard, and the park. Even when we stay home, they always come up with creative ways to play, like having picnics, or making “stew” out of leaves and grass. They especially love finding critters, like ladybugs and slugs. They also love washing my car!

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We have spent lots and lots of time at the park by our house. It really is a win win…I get some exercise by pulling them in the wagon to the park, and they have lots of fun once we get there!

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Lucky little Brax gets even more park time since Kinsie goes to school 5 days a week. We go to the park any day that we can. We’ve even had a few picnic lunches at the park.

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Lately, the kids are really having a hard time getting along. They are always fighting about something, or just trying to get under each other’s skin. Everything changes when we go to the park though. Somehow, they magically get along and are each other’s best friends. Maybe this is why I don’t mind spending so much time there either!

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One Saturday, Ryan had to work a 12 hour shift, and it was a beautiful day, so we packed a picnic and headed to the park. We spent hours there. After our lunch, we played on the playground and had a nature scavenger hunt.

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The kids loved finding pine cones, sticks, and flowers on their scavenger hunt.

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Later after dinner, we heard the ice cream truck outside. By the time we got outside, it was driving around the corner, so the kids and I hopped in the car and chased it down! We got it at its next stop and the kids loved it! It was a great way to end our day. This honestly was one of my favorite days I’ve had with the kids in a long time.

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Cousin Love

We haven’t seen Megan, Tim, and Griffin since Christmas, and we were so excited that they agreed to come spend the week with us for Easter. Megan and Griffin flew in, then Tim drove here a few days later. The kids were in heaven. They ADORE their baby cousin. They spent most of their time on the floor swooning over him. Griffin stayed very entertained while he was here!

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We did various activities while they were here. We took several walks around the lake, and Griffin either enjoyed the view or snoozed.

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We walked on the Big Dam Bridge. The kids were being goofballs the entire time, so again, Griffin stayed entertained.

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We even got to take Griffin on his very first zoo trip. It turned out to be a much colder day than we expected, but the kids still loved showing him their favorite animals and attractions at the zoo.

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We also took them to hike Pinnacle Mountain with us. Griffin was a trooper and seemed very content throughout the hike. Kinsie took twice as long as usual because she wanted to touch and explore every leaf, acorn, and stick along the way. Brax split his time between being a good little hiker and riding on Daddy’s shoulders, or being an absolute terror and refusing to go anywhere. But hey, that’s life with a toddler.

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The view from the top of Pinnacle Mountain never gets old!

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Easter Activities

We like to do lots of different crafts and activities to celebrate Easter. I always try really hard each year to still have fun with egg hunts and such, but making sure the kids know the real importance of Easter.

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Dying Easter Eggs

The kids loved having Griffin watch them dye their Easter eggs this year. Griffin even got a little too excited and knocked over the bowl of yellow dye. The kids got a kick out of it and decided that his favorite color is yellow. Kinsie decorated all her eggs like unicorns of course, and Brax just put as many dinosaur stickers on each egg as he possibly could fit.

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Easter Cookies

Making cookies is another tradition that I started since we moved here, since Aunt Renata always made cookies with them before. She even still sends us supplies in the mail to make cookies each holiday! The kids, Megan and I enjoyed decorating bunny, egg, and flower cookies…and Griffin just loved watching the madness!

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Church Easter Egg Hunt

Our church has a big Easter egg hunt the Saturday before Easter, and the kids had a blast at it last year, so we knew we wanted to go again this year. They split it up by age group, which is perfect so kids don’t get overwhelmed or intimidated. It was a beautiful day and the kids had a great time finding eggs and learning more about Jesus.

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Easter Morning

All the kids woke up to a full Easter basket and enjoyed their treats from the Easter bunny. Then we all went to church for an Easter service.

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After church, we made brunch and then had another egg hunt for the kids. Kinsie hopped the entire time, Brax screamed happily, and Griffin chilled. What a trio!

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We LOVED our time with the Mosier family, and we were so thankful that they made the trip to spend Easter with us. Holidays can be really tough being away from home, especially when we can’t always make the trip to be with everyone, so it means the world when family comes to us.

Another month down, and now May is upon us. My baby is about to be three in a few days, and I can’t even deal! We are excited for May, and hoping we can survive another hot Arkansas summer!

Here is our 1 Second Every Day video for April. Enjoy!

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!

Our Brax Man at 18 Months

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

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

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

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

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18months

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

Kinsie Kay is FOUR!

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

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

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

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