Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot in June

The southern summer heat is here and more intense than I remember. April and May were perfect, then June hit and the high temps and humidity hit us hard. Unless you go outside before 8am, or are in water, it’s honestly hard to bear. Without school or extra-curricular activities, we’ve had to get creative to keep the kids busy. Ryan has had a harder rotation than I expected, with several all-day shifts (7am-10pm), and the rest 11am-9pm. Like mid-shifts, I really dislike these shifts because he’s not home for not only most of the day, but dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. Evenings are my kids “witching hours,” so it’s not fun dealing with it alone! I’ve definitely become used to it, but it’s still so much better when he’s home to help. The kids have REALLY missed him this month – especially Kinsie. She has cried on multiple occasions because she misses him, and she takes out her frustration of him not being home on me. I think it’s worse than usual because she’s not in school to help keep her mind busy. Next month, he’ll get a week off and we’ll go in vacation to Branson, MO…so we’re all looking forward to that!

Here is a recap of our June…

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo! Brax is Two!

The kids spent the last week of May in Indiana with family, and Ryan and I came up the next weekend for a wedding, then had a late family birthday party for Brax. It was perfect timing for us to be home, because my sister-in-law also had just found out the gender of her baby, so we had a small gender reveal before Brax’s party. They are going to have a sweet baby boy and we are SO excited to meet this little blessing! Kinsie asks about the baby EVERY day and can’t wait to have a new cousin. Brax doesn’t quite understand yet, but he loves babies so I’m sure he’ll be obsessed when he meets him!

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The kids had a great week in Indiana, but after a week of being away from me, Brax was pretty grumpy and wouldn’t let me leave his sight. His party was a lot of fun, but a little stressful because he was so grumpy and would only say “No!” to anyone who tried to talk to him. Luckily everyone who was there loves him regardless and we all just took it in stride. We managed to get a few smiles out of him, and he still says he loved his choo-choo party when we ask him, so I guess that’s what counts!

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These sweet cousins were inseparable the whole party

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A special shout-out to Megan for making the kids’ train shirts, the cupcakes, and the banner…Renata for another batch of amazing cookies…my Mom for helping with balloons, and Bev and Tim for hosting! I am SO grateful for my village!

The kids had a blast with the piñata, playing on the ATV, fishing, and just spending time together. Anytime we are surrounded by both of our families, we are happy!

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Outdoor fun

We are always trying to find time to spend outside. When the humidity isn’t as intense, or in the morning when the yard is still in the shade, we try to go out and burn some energy. The kids have loved the sprinkler, water table, kite flying, hopscotch, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bug-catching, and more. Kinsie recently decided that she wants to start t-ball in the fall, so she’s been practicing whenever she can!

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And of course, nothing is better on a hot day than some cold treats! Popsicles, ice cream, and our favorite shave ice truck have been lifesavers in this heat!

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Relief from the heat

Spending time outside is not always possible because of rain, or extreme heat…but my busy kiddos can’t handle too much time in the house. They are great with just playing with their toys, but after a while, they (and I) get stir-crazy and they fight a lot more. We try to get out of the house just about every day, even if its a small adventure. We try to discover new places, or visit our old favorite places. We recently found a restaurant called “All Aboard,” where a train delivers your food (for my Indiana folks – its like Pizza King but more food options and cooler trains that you can see around the entire restaurant) The kids were obsessed and both cried when we left! We also have made small adventures to our favorite frozen yogurt place, had lunch and play time at Chik-fil-A, and visited the library.

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Our anniversary

Ryan and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary this month. We didn’t have a romantic, kid-free dinner or anything, but that’s overrated! We were just happy for Ryan to have the day off! Our anniversary was on a Saturday, so we spent our morning at the Little Rock Farmer’s Market (one of our faves!), and the splash pad. We also ate lunch at the River Market, which is one of my favorite things to do as well ($5 sushi rolls…yes please!) We had a nice dinner at home and just spent time together. It was a great day!

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Kinsie starts ballet

Kinsie has been asking me for months to take a ballet class. I wanted to wait until soccer was over, then signed her up for a short summer session. She absolutely loves it! It’s only a 3-week session so she could just try it out, and since we’ll be out of town a couple of weeks in July, but I have a feeling she will ask me to sign her back up once this session is over. Unfortunately, we don’t get to watch her while she’s in class, so Brax and I have to keep ourselves busy when she’s in class.

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Savoring Daddy time

Like I said, it’s been a harder month than expected, and the kids have REALLY missed their dad. Whenever he is home, they are ALL over him! He is on a rotation where he has “call shifts,” meaning he has to be in the on-call room all day, unless they need him for a code or pronouncement. During these shifts, we can go visit him in the on-call room. The kids have LOVED doing this!

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One good thing about this month is that Ryan was able to set his own schedule, so he took Father’s Day off. We loved having him home for the day, and the kids were so excited about giving him their gift!

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Wonder Place

We discovered this great little place that is specifically for kids 0-8. This place was perfect for my busy kids! So many things to do including water activities, a train set, a sand table, a “river market” with pretend food they can buy, a dress-up area and stage, and more. We stayed for a few hours and they kids are already asking to go back. Definitely a fun morning!

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Craving family

The kids and I were really missing family this month, so I talked to my parents and we decided to make an impromptu trip home for a long weekend. The kids were in heaven swimming in the pool, having cousin sleepovers, watching fireworks and playing at the lake, and just spending time with family. All 5 of the kids were inseparable the entire weekend. It was a wonderful, much-needed trip!

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Sweet cousin love

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Swimming fun

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Ready for fireworks at the lake!

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Having a blast swimming in the lake!

 

It was a harder month than I expected. We’ve officially been here for a year, and I have made significant progress making this my home. I am much better off emotionally and mentally right now than I was this time last year, but I still go through difficult spells. I think summer is hard because I know that if I were in Indiana, I’d be spending most of my time with family at the lake or at my parents’ pool. The kids would be having cousin sleepovers all the time, and we’d be grilling out and eating dinner outside. I miss summers with family SO much. We do what we can to still have a fun summer and give the kids great memories, and we truly treasure when Ryan has a day off. I don’t know what the future will bring after this season of residency, but I trust in the Lord and take comfort in the fact that He knows our next step.

And as always, to end my post, here is our June 1 Second Every video.

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!

Our October in Arkansas

I was excited to spend October in our new home. We have a lot of fun traditions that we do in October, so I was glad that Ryan was on an easy rotation and could enjoy them with us. We did lots of fun fall and Halloween activities, as well as traveled to Florida for vacation. It was a great month that went by fast! Here is our recap…

Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

This is one of our favorite traditions. We love the pumpkin patch, the hay rides, the apple snacks, you name it. When we first moved here, we went to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Little Rock, and one of the booths set up was for a winery. I tried their wine and fell in love (For all you Indiana folks, it’s similar to Oliver Wine). When I bought some wine from them, they told me they also have a great farm and a great pumpkin patch in the fall. I was anxious to visit, not only for the pumpkin patch, but to buy more of their wine! This pumpkin patch did NOT disappoint! I was so impressed with all the activities they had set up. The kids loved playing in the corn pit and making “corn angels,” climbing on the hay bales, sliding down the tubes, visiting the farm animals, picking out their own pumpkins and going on the hay ride. They had all kinds of scarecrows dressed up as different characters and decorations to see on the hay ride so it kept us entertained! We loved our day at the pumpkin patch!

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Trip to Florida

You’ve probably already seen the post about our trip to Florida, but this was definitely one of the best things about our month. We loved spending our days on the beach, lots of cousin time, Mickey Mouse, and having Ryan for a whole week!

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Boo at the Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo Boo was always one of our favorite traditions around Halloween, and we were so excited to find out that the Little Rock Zoo also did “Boo at the Zoo!” For this event, you had to purchase tickets, even if you are zoo members, but there was a lot more to do at this event than at the Indy zoo. There were carnival games and rides, trick-or-treating, a Haunted House, a “spooky” train ride, food trucks, bounce houses, and tons of Halloween decorations. The ONLY thing I was a little disappointed in was the fact that the event really didn’t have anything to do with the animals. In fact, most of the animals weren’t even out for display. The event focused on the activities, but it was still a lot of fun. We went with another resident’s family whom we’ve gotten pretty close with. The kids all had a great time together and it was a great night.

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Fun at School

Kinsie is still loving school! They do so many fun activities and themed days. She adores her teacher and finally seems to know all the kids’ names in her class (there are only 8 kids). Some of her favorite things she’s done at school include making apple pie, a martial arts class, and trick-or-treating. And again, I love how much they share on their Facebook page so I can see how much fun she’s having every day!


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Pumpkin Carving and Painting

We don’t take pumpkin carving lightly. We go all out every year, and we don’t just do it for the kids…Ryan and I look forward to it every year! This year, Kinsie also really wanted to paint some pumpkins, so I let the kids paint a couple of them. Last time I had Brax paint, he hated it…this time, he loved it!

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Ryan’s residency group also had a pumpkin carving night, where all the residents and their families could come and carve pumpkins together. The kids loved helping with the pumpkins, running around with the other kids, and all the snacks they could dream of!

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Then, we finally got to carve the rest of our pumpkins. Kinsie really wanted to help with as much as she could, so she helped scoop out seeds, poke the holes for the outline of the design, and even did some minor carving. Brax stuck the spoon into the pumpkin maybe once and then he was done. He spent the rest of the time reading books, climbing into the toy box and running amok while we finished carving. The kids LOVED the end results!

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From left to right, “silly guy,” Batman, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Mickey Mouse, and Stitch

Other Halloween activities

Some other activities that we did this month included spending a lot of time in Halloween PJ’s, watching Hocus Pocus while wearing a witch costume, trick-or-treating at Kinsie’s last soccer game, and making Halloween cookies!

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Trick-or-treating

The kids are still young enough that they like wearing coordinating costumes, and we are taking full advantage of it until that day ends! We love doing family costumes, and we always base it off of things that Kinsie is really into at the time. Last spring, she said she wanted us to all be trolls from the movie “Trolls.” Then a couple months after that, she wanted us to all be characters from “Moana.” Then she kind of lost interest in those movies, so we gave her some options from movies she likes. We always call Brax “Stitch” because he destroys everything, so Kinsie thought it was be fitting for her to be Lilo and Brax to be Stitch for Halloween. I found some cute and versatile costumes that I could warm up or cool down depending on how our weather was, and Ryan and I decided to join in on the costume fun again. I decided to be Nani, Lilo’s sister, and Ryan was Agent Pleakley, the green alien from Stitch’s home planet. Ryan’s sister, Megan and her dog Ali came to visit us and went trick-or-treating with us as well. It was pretty chilly, but not so much that it affected our trick-or-treating fun. The kids LOVED it. We walked around our entire neighborhood, and they were exhausted but very excited about how much candy they received!

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We had a great month! Now with November and December coming up, we know we are going to continue to be busy…which is a good thing for us! We will be headed back to Indiana to be with family for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas. We are still settling in to our new home, but we become more and more comfortable and feeling “at home” here every day. We are in love with the state of Arkansas, and absolutely love living here…but we are still missing our families. We love having them visit, and traveling home to visit them as well. However, with the cold weather season approaching, we are looking forward to spending winter in the south!

Our Month of MAY-hem

Wow…we had SO much happening in the month of May. It seemed to fly by, but then again, it seems like the beginning of the month was a year ago. We had lots of fun, and were also very busy this month, so brace yourself for pictures galore!

Brax’s First Birthday

Brax turned one on May 2, and while we already had his Lumberjack party a few days earlier, we still had to do something for our boy’s special day. He received an Orange Leaf gift card as one of his birthday gifts, so we took him for his first frozen yogurt experience. He loved it, and of course, Kinsie didn’t mind it either!

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Kinsie and Mommy’s Day of Fun

Any fans of the show “Friends” out there? Well just like Joey and Janice, Kinsie and I had a special day together this month. Her school had a Mother’s Day Lunch on a Friday morning, so I took the morning off to go with her. We had a great lunch together at her school, then I had to get ready to leave and head to work. Her brown eyes had big ol’ crocodile tears in them when I told her I had to leave…so I thought about it, and since it was nearing the end of the school year (my students checked out LONG before this anyway), and the rest of the afternoon at school was our PTO Walk-a-thon, I thought, what the heck, I’ll bring her along! We had a great day together! She loved playing on the playground, silent reading time, and being my little helper at school. My students LOVED having her there, and they were great with her. It was a much-needed Mommy and Kinsie day.

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Dr. Matthews

It’s official…he’s a doctor now! After 4 very long years of medical school, my husband is now an MD. Two years of living in different cities with a newborn baby, two years of countless rotations with long and crazy hours, throwing another baby in the mix and surviving on a teacher’s salary…and we made it! I know we still have a long road ahead as he starts his residency, but we have come so far. We did it as a team, and that’s how we will continue our journey.

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First Swim of the Season

This usually happens WAY sooner, but it has been a crazy April and May. Lots and lots and lots of rain and below 50 degree temps. But a few weeks into May, we finally got these kids in the pool! Kinsie did her happy dance all around the pool, and Brax splashed and giggled and did his happy shout the whole time!

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Lake Time

Ahh, the lake. Our favorite. Our happy place. We have spent two weekends at the lake this month…we are trying to soak in as much lake time as we can before we move. We spent all of Mother’s Day there, and Memorial Day weekend. We have our staple activities that we always do while we visit…including lots of fishing, golf cart rides to the playground at the Marina, and lots of boat rides. This last trip even including Brax’s first time on the paddle boat, and both kids took turns driving the boat. Both of the kids (and the adults) are SO happy while we are at the lake. We all drag our feet when it’s time to leave and head back home. It really is all of our happy place.

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Outside Fun

We haven’t had quite as much outside time as you would think for the month of May, but the few times it has been nice enough, we try to get the kids outside. Even if we don’t want to, they drag us out. They have enjoyed wagon rides, playing t-ball, family bike rides, and running around in the backyard finding frogs and other critters.

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Soccer

Kinsie loved her soccer season! She absolutely loved playing with her cousins, and getting a snack ticket after every game. She improved SO much this season. She became more competitive and aggressive…all she needs is a little bit of speed and she’ll be a soccer star! Whether it was raining, freezing, windy, or sunny (I think this only happened twice), the kids were troopers and had a great season. They always had a great fan club too!

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Some “Lasts”

Within one week, Kinsie had her last gymnastics class, her last soccer game and her last day of preschool. All of these lasts weren’t just for the season, but her last doing all of these things in our current home of Indiana. She had such great experiences for all of these things, especially her preschool. We were so sad for her to leave this school, we really loved it there. She loved her teachers and her friends, but she is very open-minded about finding a new preschool and new friends (we’re hoping her optimism rubs off on her mama a bit). We were so lucky that she had all of these great opportunities to help her learn and grow, and we know we will get other fun opportunities in our new home.

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Last week was a tough one, because I had to say goodbye to a job that I love. I packed up my classroom, turned in my keys, and said “see you later” to some amazing fellow teachers that have become my best friends. I taught in this community for 5 years, and while it often completely drained me, it was so fulfilling. Even though I won’t be teaching at this school anymore, I feel in my heart that my teaching career is far from over.

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That just about wraps up our month. It was busy, crazy, exhausting, but amazing. We are counting down the days to our big move, which is happening in a couple of weeks. While we can barely walk through our house because of moving boxes everywhere, we are still trying to relax, soak it all in and enjoy our time with our families and friends before we pick up and move our lives to Little Rock.