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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Highlights of our Summer

I had every intention of writing this post about a month ago, but…life happened and I have been pretty busy since my school year started! Either way, it technically is still summer time so I guess I’m not too late with this post!

My summer vacation/maternity leave is officially over. I even had an extra month than what I normally would have had and it still seemed too short. Ryan had a busy few months of emergency medicine rotations (his favorite), so it wasn’t near as easy to get out and about and enjoy the outdoors this year since I had both kids alone most of the time and Brax was too little to be out in the heat too long, but we did what we could. Kinsie still got to have a lot of fun swimming and running around outside with lots of help from our family. Here is somewhat of a highlight reel of some of our favorite things we did this summer.

Family Reunion at the Dunes

In early June, we went to the Dunes State Park to meet up with my dad’s entire family. We loved getting to catch up with family, and Kinsie loved the beach!

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Anniversary Fishing

Ryan and I had our first date night since Brax was born for our fourth anniversary. We went out to eat, then went fishing. It was SO nice spending some time just the two of us and doing something we both love doing. The kids were in good hands…and Kinsie got Ninja Turtle ice cream from the ice cream truck!

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Field Trip to the Fish Farm

My cousin Sarah is engaged to a fish farmer, and they agreed to take us all on a tour of the fishery. Joe did an awesome job teaching us all about the fishery, and the kids loved seeing all the fish, tadpoles and crawfish. Afterwards, we ate lunch at my aunt’s house. It was a great afternoon of fish, family and fun!

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Time at the Lake

I know I already posted about our “Lake-cation,” but it was definitely a highlight of our summer. We love our time at the lake!

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4th of July Parade

Every year we go to the 4th of July Brownsburg parade. Ryan had to work, but Kinsie, Brax and I still went with the rest of my family. Brax took a little nap and Kinsie loved spending time with her cousins and getting candy!

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Movies, bowling, and more

On the days that it rained or was too hot, we had to find indoor activities to do. I took Kinsie on a date to see Finding Dory and she loved the movie and the popcorn. We also went bowling, painted pictures, worked out, and just played inside. Kinsie is good at finding fun in whatever activity we do!

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Swimming

This was probably Kinsie’s favorite part. She LOVED swimming. I couldn’t always swim with her since I had to feed Brax so often, so thank goodness for my parents and Uncle Ryan for taking Kinsie swimming for me. Going into summer, I didn’t expect Kinsie to become so independent in the pool, but with her floaties on, she could swim by herself. She could (and often did) spend all day in the pool. Especially when her cousins were with her! We even got Brax in the pool once. He didn’t have much of a reaction…probably because the pool was so warm. I think he just thought he was in a big bath tub.

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Other Outside Fun

Like I said, I tried to get outside with the kids as much as I could. I loved taking morning walks with them before it got too hot, and the kids loved it too. Ryan would join us when he could, but I still tried to take them out even when he couldn’t join us. We played a lot of “I Spy” and played in the sprinkler, and Brax just went along with whatever adventures we would take!

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I survived my first summer vacation with 2 kids. It wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of patience, adjustments, and help, but I still think Kinsie had a fun summer and that is all I really wanted. I didn’t want her to have to miss out on too much because of the baby. I got to spend some time with each kid individually, and we spent a lot of time together too. Even though I was sad to see my summer vacation end, I was more ready to go back to work than I thought I would be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and I loved my time with them, but I need a little break from mom life! Maybe someday I will quit teaching to be a stay-at-home mom, but I’m not ready yet. I still have other children who need me too. I still feel lucky to even get this time off every year to relax (as much as what is possible with two little ones) and recharge my battery. Now I’m back in full swing of mom life AND teacher life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!