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…

 

June Travels

June was a whirlwind! We were gone more than we were home. During the month of June, we traveled to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and then the kids and I took a 2 week trip to visit family in Indiana. Ryan had to stay home to work, and we definitely missed him a lot while we were gone! However, we stayed super busy and did lots of fun activities back in our home town. I’m excited to share our June adventures!

Trip to Lake of the Ozarks

Since Ryan was named Chief Resident, one of his first responsibilities was to make the first few schedules. We knew that the kids and I were going to be gone the last 2 weeks of the month, so Ryan scheduled himself to work pretty much the whole time we were gone. With that being said, he was able to get multiple days off in a row during the first half of the month, so we decided to take advantage of that and take a little trip to the Ozarks! My parents met us there and brought along Kerigan. Unfortunately, Kinsie was not feeling well during the trip, and we later discovered she had pneumonia. She was just extra tired and not her perky self, but she was a trooper and still had fun.

On the first full day, we took a hike at the state park. It was a fun and easy hike, and we saw tons of deer! Ozarks-1-1

After our hike, we went to the beach area near our condo. The kids loved splashing around at the beach, playing on the playground, and taking a ride on the inflatable kayak that Ryan brought with us.

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The next day, we rented a pontoon boat and spent the entire day on the lake. We had a great day exploring the lake, trying out different restaurants on the water, fishing, and more. The kids were all exhausted by the end of the day, and Brax even fell asleep on Yaya’s lap, which I know she didn’t mind at all!

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I felt so bad that we took Kinsie on this trip when she didn’t feel good, but she was such a trooper. After the trip, we got her on some antibiotics and she was feeling better within days. It was still such a fun little trip with some people we love!

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Small Adventures

Taking small trips, even if it’s to a store or to get ice cream, are crucial for my sanity. Since Kinsie wasn’t feeling well, we were home a lot. As soon as she was feeling a little better, we took short trips out of the house just to get some fresh air. We needed to get some school uniforms for Kinsie, so we went to the outdoor mall and had ice cream. Another day, we went to Target and got cake pops at the Starbucks inside the store. It’s the little things!

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One day, Ryan didn’t have to work until the afternoon, so we took a family walk around the lake. The kids enjoyed stopping along the way to see turtles and ducks and we enjoyed some quality family time.

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Dragon Boat Races

The lake by our house does this event every year, and the first year it took place on the day we moved. We obviously didn’t go then since we just moved in, but we did see the fireworks from our house! This is the first year we were able to check it out, and it was very cool! Different companies get together and make teams and they race dragon boats across the lake to raise money for charity. Each company also sets up a tent and gives away free items. The kids got some free dragon cups, a beach ball, and lollipops, so they were in heaven! There were also fun games and activities set up around the park, so we all enjoyed a fun family morning at the event!

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Father’s Day and Our Anniversary

Our 7th anniversary and Father’s Day landed on the same day this year, so I made sure Ryan took the day off! We didn’t do anything spectacular…just went to church, and spent the day playing outside with the kids. Then I made Ryan’s favorite dinner. It was simple…but that’s all we needed. All we wanted for both our anniversary and Father’s Day was to spend the day all together, so that’s exactly what we did!

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A Tough Goodbye

As soon as we moved here 2 years ago, I made some incredible friends within the residency program. Several other wives within the program took me in right away and became my very good friends. We did playdates often, went to church together (usually without husbands, but with ALL our kids), we constantly had a group text going, and we supported each other through the tough journey of residency. The thing I loved most is that all of our husbands were in emergency medicine together, so we all shared the same struggles and helped each other through them. Their husbands were in the residency class above Ryan, so they just completed their third year and all moved away for new jobs. It was really hard saying goodbye to the friends I got so close with, but I was SO grateful just to have them for the 2 years that I did. Now I just have an excuse to travel around the U.S. to visit!

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Back Home Again in Indiana

The kids and I went to Indiana to visit family for 2 weeks, so that was half of our month right there. We are so grateful for our family for always helping us find ways to get there and back when Ryan can’t drive with us. This time, Bev flew to Little Rock and helped us drive to Indiana, and my mom helped us drive to Little Rock and then flew back to Indiana. We were SO busy during our 2 week visit, and we loved every minute of it! Here is a recap of our adventures in Indiana…

Indianapolis Children’s Museum

We used to take Kinsie to the museum when she was little, then of course we moved when Brax was still a baby, so we hadn’t been there in a few years. The kids were so excited when their cousins invited us to spend the day there with them. Brax LOVED the dinosaur peeking in the building as you first walk in!

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Some of the highlights of the inside of the museum included the carousel, the fossil digging area, and the Paw Patrol exhibit.

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Although we loved everything we saw inside, we spent the most time outside in the sports area. This is somewhat new, so we had never been. It was amazing! They had tons of exercising activities, every sport you can imagine, and a huge treehouse, similar to the “Tree of Life” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We spent hours exploring and playing! It was an awesome day!

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Indianapolis Zoo

We tagged along with Megan, Griffin, Grandma Bev and Ryan’s cousin Jess and her daughter Bexlee to the zoo. The bad news is that it rained almost the entire time we were there. The good news is that we still got to see most of the animals. A few of the savanna animals, and the tiger (my favorite) weren’t feeling the rain, but other than that, we saw a lot and had a great day. Kinsie hitched a ride in Griffin’s covered wagon, and Brax used Kinsie’s unicorn umbrella, so we were all good! The Indy Zoo has a great indoor aquarium area, so we spent a lot of time there. The kids loved all the sea creatures, and Kinsie got to see the dolphin show that she’s been talking about literally since we moved. Brax loved the orangutans and talked about them for days after!

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Another neat temporary exhibit was the MISTery Park. It was just a short little loop full of mist sprayers. Simple, but neat! Despite the rain, we enjoyed the day with family and animals.

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Splash Pad

We met Bev, Megan, and a few of Ryan’s aunts and cousins for lunch and then went to the park splash pad for the kids to play. It took some time for the kids to get comfortable enough to play, but once they did, they had a blast!

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Toy Story 4

The kids were dying to see Toy Story 4, (ok so was I!) so I wanted to take them to see it in theater during our visit. We invited some other cousins along, and we all took up an entire row! We all loved the movie, but my favorite part was hearing Brax belly laughing with every scene that had their new favorite “Forky!”

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The next day, all the cousins made their own version of Forky. Then Kinsie wanted to take it a step further and make more characters. This project continued for days and expanded more and more until she had drawn every single character from the movie! Her final project was quite impressive, and now she wants to display it in the play room at home!

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Cousin Sleepovers

The kids favorite part of visiting is always cousin time. They had several sleepovers, including Kinsie sleeping over at their house one night. Their time together is always fun and eventful!

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Pool Days

We always love spending time at Yaya’s pool while we’re in town. On our pool days, Kinsie transformed into a mermaid and did not get out of the pool unless forced to eat or go to the bathroom. There were a few days where she swam from 10am to 7pm! Brax made tons of progress from wanting someone to always hold him, to swimming around independently.

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The kids’ happiest of happy places…ALL their cousins in the pool with them!

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Even when we weren’t IN the pool, we still loved spending time out by the pool. When Brax needed breaks from swimming, he brought puzzles out and did them poolside. We also enjoyed several meals on the terrace.

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The kids had SO much fun together in the pool. They played for hours and hours, and they all get along so well. And we just love watching them have fun together.

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Other Outside Fun

The second week of our visit had beautiful weather. We spent as much time as we could outside. When we weren’t by the pool or lake, we enjoyed swinging and water table fun at Megan’s, or riding on the lawn mower with Papa!

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Lake Days

We spent a good chunk of time at the lake during our visit…which is one of my favorite places to be. We went for a few random trips during the week, and then spent the weekends there as well. During the week was the best time to relax and go fishing since there weren’t many people there. The kids enjoyed fishing for about 3 minutes, then moved on to other things. In that short time though, they did catch a fish or two! While the kids played, I fished longer with Ryan’s dad. Between the two of us, we caught lots of blue gill. I hadn’t fished in far too long so it was great to get to do it again!

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We spent our entire weekends at the lake as well. Lots of Ryan’s relatives came during that time, so we enjoyed visiting with family. All the kids LOVED swimming in the lake. Brax particular loved swimming with Uncle Nate, and Kinsie and the older cousins loved jumping off the dock and playing on the giant mat.

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More lake fun included boat rides, water balloon fights with cousins, and water table fun for the littles. And of course we had to snap this photo of Papa Tim with his 3 faves in his Heritage Lake shirt!

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Fireworks at the Lake

This is one of our favorite days of the year, and somehow we have managed to make it the last 2 years. Lots of family and friends came for the day so of course there was lots of people, fun and food. The kids spent most of the day swimming in the lake, and then the night consisted of the official fireworks put on by the lake. The kids got all decked out in glow necklaces and bracelets and stayed up late for the fireworks. We loved the fireworks, but my little guy fell asleep in the middle of them! It is very rare for either of my kids to accidentally fall asleep. He clearly was so exhausted from a long week of playing and swimming!

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Home Again Home Again, Jiggity Jig

After a very busy and fun 2 weeks, we were sad to leave family, but very ready to head home and see Ryan. The kids were SO happy to see him and spent the next 24 hours playing games with him, telling him all about our trip, and of course, climbing all over him! It was so good to be together as a family again!

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And that wraps up our month! We are looking forward to just being home in the month of July and enjoying summer before the kids start school. I still can’t believe that Kinsie starts KINDERGARTEN at the beginning of August! In the mean time, pray that we survive the intense Arkansas summer heat!

Here is our June 1 Second Every video. Enjoy!

 

February Feels

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

A Day at the Park

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

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Daddy Daughter Dance

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

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Outside Fun

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

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Valentine’s Day Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Special School Days

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

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

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Family Visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our August

We have had to put in quite an effort to keep these kids busy for their last month of summer before they start school. They are to the point where they are just over being home with me all the time. No offense taken…I’m over it too! They have been fighting more, and just extra sassy to me. They are definitely ready for a new environment, new friends, and a new authority figure! However…we have done the best we could at finding fun things to do. Every once in a while, we’ll have a few days where the weather isn’t melting us, so we’ll do something fun outside, but other than that, we mainly have to find indoor things to do. Here is a recap of our August.

Day Dates

Like I said, we’ve had to do our best at getting out of the house as much as possible. Whenever Ryan has a day off, we try to find a new fun place. This month, we discovered a few new places!

Discovery Museum-

We’ve known about this place for a long time, but finally got around to trying it out. Ryan is much more into science than I am, so I wanted him to get to come with us. We all had a great time! It’s no Indianapolis Children’s Museum, but it did the small city of Little Rock justice. There is a full room full of science experiments, so my nerdy husband was in heaven. Now Kinsie wants a science kit for her birthday!

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The Wonder Place-

We’ve been here before, but the kids loved it so much, we had to go back. This place is seriously perfect for young, busybodies like my kids! Now that elementary schools have started, we practically had to place to ourselves!

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Trampoline Park-

This was another place that we’ve known about since we moved, but never took the chance to try it out. Again…this place was PERFECT for our kids. A huge warehouse full of trampolines and a giant foam pit had their names written all over it. We went on another one of Ryan’s days off so he got to enjoy it with us. We will definitely be going back!

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Little Rock Zoo-

We had about 3-4 days in a row where the weather was perfect, and luckily Ryan was off during one of those days, so packed up the kids, the wagon, and a lunch and spend the day at the zoo. These kids love animals so much, they get just as excited to see them each time we go. Another bonus was that every year when your membership renews, you get free tickets for a train ride. Another score for my kids! We had the perfect family day at one of our favorite places!

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Outdoor adventures

Every time I check the weather and see if its going to be less than 90 degrees, we try to spend some time outside. We love going to the park by our neighborhood, and even just playing in our own yard. One afternoon we had some of the other residents’ kids over for a sprinkler date. The kids love spending time with other kids their age, and I love getting some adult interactions with the other moms!

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Weekend at Home

We were so excited to get to come home for a weekend for Ryan’s cousin’s wedding. We were only home Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…but we packed in a LOT of activities in those 3 days!

Indiana State Fair-

We LOVE the fair…both county and state. We love the animals, the food, the rides…all of it. We especially love it when we get to go with family. The 5 cousins had a blast together drinking milkshakes, petting cows, and riding all the rides. It was such a fun, much-needed family night with some of the people we love most.

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Masey’s Wedding-

Ryan’s cousin Masey is one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met. As soon as I found out when her wedding was, I REALLY wanted to make it. Luckily, Ryan was on an ED rotation so he was able to request a couple days off in a row so we could go. This day did not exactly go as I planned it…but that’s life. Brax would not…I repeat, WOULD NOT wear the cute collared Polo shirt I had picked out for him. Or the matching boat shoes. After a long battle, I had decided to cave and let him wear whatever the heck he wanted, but at that point he was inconsolable. We could not take him to a wedding like this! My parents offered to let him take a nap, and then they would bring him for the reception. After his nap and getting to wear an animal shirt rather than his nice clothes, he was better, but still a bit grumpy. He did better as the night went on…I’m sure it helped that Grandma kept sneaking him upstairs to eat the bridal party’s cookies. Even though I didn’t get any nice family pictures, and Brax didn’t make it to the actual ceremony, it turned out to be an awesome night. Kinsie looked beautiful and danced the night away. We loved getting to spend a beautiful evening celebrating sweet Masey with Ryan’s family.

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Lake Day –

On Sunday, we spent most of the day at the lake. The kids loved boat rides, swimming, and tubing with cousins. It’s always a nice treat when Ryan is home in Indiana with us, and I know the kids, and the rest of the family loved having him home as well.

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After a day at the lake, we went back to my parents’ house for swimming and dinner.  I missed this SO much. Sunday dinners with my family were one of my favorite traditions before we moved, and it felt so good to do it again, especially on a great night where the kids were still wearing their swimsuits and googles and giggling together at the cousin table. This trip to Indiana was therapy.

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August is over now, and I hate it say it, but I’m a bit relieved. Like I said at the beginning of this post, we are all ready for a change. The kids need school. I need a break. I love my children to the ends of the Earth, but it has been a long summer, and I am ready for some well-earned “me” time. I think we will all be in better moods and get along better when we are not together 24/7. Ryan will have one of his hardest rotations in September, but luckily we should stay busy. Kinsie will start T-ball and ballet, and obviously school will start as well. The kids and I will also spend the week of Kinsie’s birthday in Indiana, and we’ll have Bev for a couple days before, and my mom for a couple days after. We are looking forward to the next few months. Stay tuned!

As always, here is our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of August.

The Merry Month of May

We had so much fun this month! We spent about 90% of our time outside, which the kids loved. We celebrated my sweet boy turning 2, explored new parks, camped out with family, and much more.

Brax’s Birthday

Brax had a great 2nd birthday! We started the day with birthday donuts, then once we took Kinsie to school, we had a Mommy and Brax day. We played in our backyard for a while, then I took him to the park (his favorite) and he had the best time! Once Ryan was home from work, we opened presents and made Brax’s favorite meal – pancakes and scrambled eggs. After dinner, we made birthday ice cream sundaes. We had one happy little birthday boy…and one happy big sister too!

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Family Fishing

Whenever Ryan has a day off, we always try to take advantage and plan something fun as a family. Fishing is one of our favorite things to do, and we just have to walk the 5 minutes to the park to do it! Brax hasn’t mustered up the courage to hold a fish yet, but he still gets real excited to see Kinsie do it!

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Mother’s Day

It was hard being away from family on Mother’s Day. Especially because Ryan was working a lot of mid-shifts (3pm-1am) which are my least favorite. We got to spend some family time at a park and had a Mother’s Day dinner a few days before, but on the actual day, he had to work that evening. We at least got to go to church together, and I still got to spend the day with my babies. Kinsie was really into Mother’s Day this year…she made me something special at school, and drew pictures for me all week long. She even taught Brax how to say “Happy Mama Day!” Heart melted!

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Downtown Fun

The Farmer’s Market is officially back open for the season! I LOVE the Little Rock Farmer’s Market. There are so many vendors selling fruits, veggies, jams, granola, wine (my personal favorite), and much more. One of the vendors had painting for kids, so they loved painting pictures and little figurines. After exploring the Farmer’s Market, we let the kids play at the Rock Park for a little while. This is one of our new favorite Saturday morning traditions!

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Family Park Days

Whenever Ryan had a day off this month, we tried out some different parks. Right when we finished with his MICU rotation, we spent the morning at the park by our house. We took roller skates, bubbles, soccer balls, frisbees, scooters…you name it. The kids had a blast just running around in the open fields. This day was a breath of fresh air after Ryan’s long month.

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Another day, we went to another park that the kids and I had played before with some friends. The kids love the playground, but they loved the creek even more. They sat down by the creek for probably an hour just throwing rocks and looking for critters. Family park days are our favorite!

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GreekFest

Little Rock had a Greek food festival one weekend. Ryan loves Greek food, and we heard good things about the festival, so we went with some friends. We had a great time! They had bouncy houses, tons of food, crafts, shopping, and more. The food was awesome and the kids had a great time playing with the other kids.

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Kinsie’s Last Day of School

Kinsie had her last day of Pre-K3, and she was excited, but also sad. She loved her class and her teacher this year. This school was such a blessing for us, and we are so grateful that they loved on our girl and helped her feel at home here. She is excited to start in the Pre-K4 class in the fall…and Brax will start in the two year old class!

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Ok…can we talk about how much my children have grown this year? I couldn’t believe the difference in both of them from September to May. Kinsie is turning into such a beautiful young lady, and I feel like she grew a foot taller this year. Brax was a BABY at the beginning of the year, and now he is a little boy. I can’t even handle it!

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Other Outside Fun

Like I said, we have spent a lot of time outside. For a while, we were even eating our dinners outside every night before it started getting too hot. We had a routine…the kids would play in the backyard while Ryan and I prepared dinner. Then we would eat outside, then the kids would sit in the swinging chair with Ryan for a little while, then they would play a little longer until we couldn’t handle the mosquitos any longer. We also broke out the sprinkler and water table, and the kids have been in heaven! Their favorite part is spraying each other with the hose.

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Kinsie drew this picture of our entire family. Notice that she even drew our dogs, and labeled everyone in the picture!

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Residency Crawfish Boil

One of my favorite things about the UAMS Residency program is how many family events we have. We recently had a crawfish boil, and we had a blast. The kids loved playing with the crawfish (before they were cooked), playing in the bounce house, playing with balls, chalk, and bubbles, and enjoying their friends. Kinsie wasn’t as crazy about eating the crawfish, but Brax loved it!

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Memorial Weekend

Ryan’s family came to visit us over Memorial Weekend. Megan and Tim camped out at Petit Jean State Park, and Ryan’s mom and brother Nate stayed with us. The state park is about an hour away, so we took turns spending time at our house, and at the park. On Ryan’s day off, we spent the morning hiking. Every trail we’ve been on at that park has been amazing. The kids loved throwing rocks in the water, looking at the small waterfalls and splashing in puddles.

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The next night, we had a cookout at Meg and Tim’s camper. We roasted hot dogs and s’mores, and the kids had a blast running around playing hide and seek and drinking from the water tank. It was a busy, fun and much-needed weekend with family!

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Road Trip to Indiana

Since Ryan’s family visited for Memorial Weekend, and Ryan was in a wedding the next weekend, we thought that would be a great opportunity for the kids to spend the week in Indiana. They rode back with Ryan’s mom and then we brought them back home the next weekend. The kids had such a great time at the lake, playing with cousins, swimming, and more. I sure missed my babies, but goodness it was nice to have a break.

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Exciting News!

We recently found out some very exciting news…Ryan’s sweet sister Megan, and her husband Tim are expecting a baby in November! This is a HUGE blessing and such an answered prayer. They technically told us in April, but we were sworn to secrecy until just a couple of weeks ago. I was honored to take their announcement pictures when they came to visit us last month. The kids are SO excited to get a new baby cousin soon!

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And as always, I end my post with our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of May. Enjoy!

April Activities

Our spring is going by faster than I expected. I felt like time dragged on from when we moved here until the end of the year, but it has flown by since January. Probably because we are more established here now and are busy with activities. Between my job, church activities, Kinsie’s school, soccer, and playdates….we stay pretty busy which I love! Ryan is on his MICU rotation (Medical Intensive Care Unit) at the VA, and saying it has been rough would be an understatement. Most of his shifts are from 6am-7pm. He worked a week of 12 hour night shifts, and the rest of his shifts are from 6am-4pm. However…the time he is supposed to get off rarely actually happens. Most of the time he gets home right before the kids go to bed. I usually let them stay up a little later so they can spend time with him. So needless to say, I’ve been solo parenting for a large majority of this month. It has been pretty hard, but I’m honestly glad that we’re going through it near the end of our first year rather than at the beginning. I have gotten used to caring for the kids alone, so I can handle not having help better than I used to. Now when he works a lot, I honestly just miss his company more than anything. Even with this crazy month, we still managed to have some good family moments!

Here is our recap…

Easter Day

As I mentioned in my previous post, my family came to visit for Easter weekend, which we loved! We had a great time and the kids had a blast with their cousins. They had to leave on Easter Day after church and brunch, but we still had a great Easter and the kids loved church and their surprises from the Easter bunny.

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1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Ever since we moved here, the library has been one of our favorite spots. They have a program called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten…which is pretty self explanatory. I thought Kinsie could for SURE do that…she loves to read! The library was closed from November through March for renovations, so we couldn’t go there for a while to turn in her sheets and get her stickers. However, she reached 1,000 right in time when the library reopened. She loved getting her 1,000 sticker and her free book. Brax was a proud brother too!

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Playdate (for both kids AND the moms!)

This month, the second year residents had a weekend retreat, and I mainly hang out with the wives of the second years (none of the first years have kids). Since all of their husbands would be gone, they planned a dinner/playdate, and since Ryan was working late that night, the kids and I came too. We had a great time talking, eating tacos, and chasing our kids. We did manage to get a group picture of most of the kids. Between 4 of us, we have 11 kids, and one of the way (don’t get excited…its not me!) I am SO grateful for these families…they have been crucial to my sanity since moving here!

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Loving the outdoors

We’ve had a lot of rainy April days, but we’ve also had a lot of beautiful sunny days too. When Kinsie is at school, Brax and I often walk to the park and spend the morning there. I try to bring Kinsie too on her days off. Lately both kids love picking flowers on the walk home. We also love just hanging out in our own front or backyard. They could do sidewalk chalk and bubbles for hours! We’ve also tried to grill out and eat dinner outside whenever we can too. We’re trying to enjoy it as much as we can before the unbearable heat arrives.

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Disney on Ice

I’ve always loved Disney on Ice. But then again, I love anything Disney. My kids do too. That’s why when I saw that Disney on Ice was coming to Little Rock, I REALLY wanted to make it happen. When I found out that it fell on the same month as Ryan’s busiest rotation, I was bummed…but I still wanted to find a way to make it work. Since it fell on the same week as his night shifts, we basically had just one option…the Saturday at 3pm show. That way Ryan could still sleep during the day, then wake up in time for the show, then head to work afterwards. I knew Brax would miss his nap that day, but we really wanted Ryan to get to come with us, so we knew it’d be worth it. It was such a fun afternoon. The kids LOVED it. Brax was super squirmy and slap happy since he skipped his nap, but he was happy and still had a lot of fun. He mainly liked the parts with Mickey Mouse, and Kinsie says she loved it all! I am so glad Ryan was able to come with us and we had a fun family date.

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Family Fishing

We’ve been aching to go fishing, but haven’t found many opportunities with Ryan’s busy schedule. He gets very few days off, so on those days we try to find something fun to do. On one of his days off, we were determined to fish. Even though it lightly rained on us most of the time, we didn’t let that stop us. Kinsie recently got a new princess fishing pole, and Brax inherited Kinsie’s old Ninja Turtles pole, so the kids were excited too. Brax practiced with a pretend fish, and had fun with just that. Between the four of us, we only caught one fish, but that one fish brought quite a bit excitement!

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A Family Visit

Since I’ve known for a while that this would be a tough month and Ryan would barely be around, I’ve been recruiting family to come visit us. Megan and Tim were up to the task! I always tell them they are “winning” at visits here. They are best at knowing when I’m aching for family the most, so they work their schedules to make it happen. We had a wonderful weekend with him with perfect weather. Unfortunately Ryan wasn’t around much to spend time with them, but I was very grateful for the company, and so were the kids. We absolutely love it when they visit!

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It’s been a tough, but busy month. We’ve still managed to have quality family time despite the limited time we have all together. We just use the short moments we do have together wisely…even if that’s just the kids climbing on and wrestling with their daddy. We are definitely all ready for him to be on a normal rotation again. The next few months have a lot going on…my baby boy turns 2, we have a few trips planned, and of course there’s always fun things to do during the summer!

Last but not least, here is our 1 Second Everyday video for April. Enjoy!

Take me to the Mountains

We had such a wonderful trip with Ryan’s family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It had been years since we went on a trip with them where ALL of us could go together. Everyone is in such different phases of life, so it is always hard to get everyone’s schedules lined up. Megan’s husband, Tim was going to be in Colorado for work in March, so we all decided that he would stay once he was done and we would all come meet him there. We had never been to Colorado, so we were excited to see it. The weather was perfect for hiking and it was so beautiful there. No matter where you go, you are surrounded by mountains. I hadn’t seen the mountains in years, and I forgot how beautiful they are. The view never got old. We packed a lot of activities into one week, and it was one amazing week! Here are some of the highlights from our trip…

Garden of the Gods

We visited Garden of the Gods twice during the week, and went on a few different trails. These were pretty quick and easy hikes with absolutely amazing views. Kinsie loved taking pictures and looking through her binoculars, and Brax loved hiking by himself and collecting rocks!

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Pike’s Peak

We drove most of the way up Pike’s Peak, which is one of the highest summits of the Rocky Mountains (elevation 14,000 ft). We stopped several times along the way to look at the view and take pictures. We especially loved one of the lakes (which was frozen and beautiful), and an area called the Devil’s Playground. It got colder and the air got thinner the higher up the mountain we went, so we had to bundle up and take deep breaths, but it was all worth it!

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On top of the world…or at least the Devil’s Playground

 

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

We spent a day at the only zoo built in the mountains, and it did not disappoint! We were very impressed with this zoo…especially how many interactive exhibits there were. My personal favorite was the giraffe exhibit, where you can feed the giraffes up close. The kids (and the adults) LOVED everything about this zoo. The birds, elephants, meerkats, apes, and petting zoo were some favorite stops too. After the zoo, we drove up the mountain to see the Will Rogers Shrine. The kids loved climbing up the tower and we all loved the amazing view!

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The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

This was one of my favorite things we did. We had to drive almost 2 hours, but it was incredible. We walked along the bridge which surprisingly, ran over the Arkansas River! We enjoyed the view while the kids ran around in circles and played red light green light. Once we were across the bridge, there was a playground and a carousel that the kids loved. We took a gondola to get back across the bridge, which, I’ll admit was a little terrifying, but amazing! Then we ate lunch on the patio while overlooking the gorge and watching the gondolas and the zip-liners. It was an awesome experience!

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Playing at the park across the bridge

 

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Riding the gondola

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Helen Hunt Falls

On one of our last days, we took a quick hike around a small waterfall, which the kids loved! Brax could have watched that waterfall all day! We hiked around the waterfall and ended up getting to see more more beautiful views. The kids did great, but eventually took a little break and hitched a ride!

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Spending time with Family

This vacation was so special to us, mainly because it’s so rare that all of us get to be together. Whether we were hiking and seeing a beautiful mountain scenery, or hanging out in the amazing house we rented, or driving in the 15 passenger van together, we just enjoyed each other’s company. I cannot even believe how blessed I am to have married into this amazing family, and I am so grateful for them!

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