Another Covid-Style School Year

We were genuinely enjoying our warm, summer days…until August. August was HOT. It felt like we were back in Arkansas. It was hard to be outside at all…even early in the morning. August was also a rough month Covid-wise. The big kids started school in middle of this scary Delta surge, Ryan is back to wearing his N95 mask for his entire shift, and I’m back to treating Brody like Rapunzel and holding him captive inside the safety of our home. Between the potential of Delta invading my vulnerable unvaccinated kids, and it being hotter than Hades outside, we have spent a whole lot of time at home…which luckily, we LOVE our home. But for a busy, active toddler, we’ve become a bit stir crazy again!

Here is how our August went…

Days at the Playground

I really should rephrase this “Day at the Playground…” singular. We were only able to go once this month because it was too darn hot. The weekend before school started the weather was fantastic, so we spent a lot of it outside. After that, no way. But I’m glad we took advantage of that early August day and had a family day at the park. Brody LOVED it. He climbed everywhere on his own and dove down the slide head first over and over!

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Walk by the Waterfall

After we played on the playground, we took a walk back by our favorite waterfall! The kids always have fun looking for critters and throwing rocks.

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Kinsie starts 2nd grade!

Kinsie couldn’t wait to start school! She was excited to meet her teacher and see her friends again. She has absolutely loved her first few weeks. She even wants to play school at home all the time and do the activities with Brax that she does at school.

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Kinsie was also especially excited to get to ride the bus. In Kindergarten, she went to a charter school and they didn’t have buses. And last year, we lived out of her school boundaries for most of the school year so we had to drive her. So now she finally got to ride the bus. She has been enjoying it, even though there is a bus driver shortage and many of the bus drivers have to do multiple routes, causing her bus to be late most days. The boys have enjoyed taking trips to the bus stop too!

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Braxton starts Kindergarten!

Brax has loved starting Kindergarten this month! He is doing the half day program at the church that he did Pre-K last year. Since he is a May birthday, we’re doing Kindergarten this way so we can help make the best choice for him on whether to send him on to 1st grade at Kinsie’s school next year, or repeat Kindergarten at Kinsie’s school next year. Either way, he is excited to get to ride the bus with her next year!

He enjoyed his Kindergarten orientation, and getting to see some old friends from Pre-K, and meeting new friends!

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Last year, he cried the first few days of school when we dropped him off. Not this year! He is so excited to go to school every day! He loves his teacher, and he loves getting to eat lunch at school every day this year.

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I’ve been working on sight words with him for about a year now, and he has made a lot of progress, but he has never been quite as enthusiastic about learning as Kinsie was. Just in the last few weeks though, it has really clicked for him! He is reading independently now, and becoming more confident! His teacher said he is one of the stronger readers in his class! We are so proud of him!

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Adventures at Home with Brody

Since the big kids are in school now most of the day, Brody isn’t always sure what to do without them. Sometimes he gets bored with me, but most of the time he enjoys having all the toys to himself!

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On another note, this kid is nuts. He climbs into and onto everything. He often runs off when I’m not paying attention for a minute, and I find him in my shower or in the tupperware cabinet! I give him full credit as to why I’m so exhausted every night!

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Soccer Saturdays

Brax was really excited to do soccer again after last season. He got to move up to U6, which includes 30 minutes of coach-led activities, and 30 minutes of scrimmage. He absolutely LOVES it, and he is really good! He is very aggressive and a great team player!

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Kinsie and Brody enjoy being in Brax’s fan club. Kinsie always packs snacks and toys to entertain Brody during soccer. She’s the best big sis!

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Gymnastics

Kinsie has been wanting to do gymnastics ever since she stopped when Covid hit last year. I wasn’t comfortable with her doing it for a long time since it’s indoors. However, I found a place here in town that people really recommend, and has good Covid protocols in place, so I finally gave her the green light. She has been loving it!

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Lake Day

Ryan worked a lot of weekends this month, so when he finally had a weekend day off, we decided to spend it at the lake. We enjoyed fishing, a boat ride, swimming, and playing with Uncle Nate’s new pup, Alfie.

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Pool Day

One weekend, Ryan worked multiple 12 hour night shifts in a row. My aunt and cousins and their kids came to town to swim at my parents’, so my sister’s family and me and the kids came to hang out as well. The kids always love cousin swim time, and they especially loved my aunt’s famous dirt and worms treat!

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Trail Walks

Brax started school a week after Kinsie, so when he was still on summer vacation, we took a few walks around the trails. It’s always nice to get outside and see some nature, and watch these precious brothers enjoy each other’s company.

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Quarantined

While Kinsie really has enjoyed riding the bus, it did bring her first (and HOPEFULLY last) quarantine. About 2 weeks into school, she was identified as a close contact from the bus. There were apparently multiple positive cases on the bus. Luckily, all the kids wear their masks on the bus and all day at school, which I truly think kept her healthy. However, the school protocol is that if you’re a close contact, you have to quarantine. The contact tracing process takes a while, so we didn’t find out until about a week after her exposure. This could have been bad if she would have been infected, but luckily she wasn’t, and she only had to miss a few days of school. We didn’t even get her tested because she had no symptoms and it wouldn’t have changed her quarantine time.

She had to do some of her schoolwork at home during this time, which she has never been a fan of. She was really bummed, but we had to remind her that it could be a lot worse, and if she had gotten sick, she would have had to miss a lot more school.

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She was especially sad to miss Art class and choice time, so I let her paint and do as much art as she wanted. This has always been her stress relief anyway!

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I’m not going to get too much into the whole thing about kids wearing or not wearing masks at school, because it’s been a MAJOR debate around the country. You probably already know what side of the debate I’m on since I’ve been pro-science since day one. However, I will say…it really bothers me when people don’t worry about kids getting Covid, brushing it off as not a big deal because they won’t die from it, or even that most kids have mild cases. While that is true for most kids (not all), people need to remember the mental impact that getting Covid, or even just having an exposure, has on these kids. Kinsie only had to miss 3 days of school, and she was devastated. She laid her head in my lap and cried because she couldn’t be at school. She didn’t understand why she was being punished, when she has been SO careful. She always wears her mask, even at recess. She washes her hands so much that they get raw. She has understood the seriousness of this virus from day one and understood the need to protect other people. Yet, with some bad luck, she was still exposed. Luckily she didn’t get sick. Do you know why she didn’t get sick? Because the kids were wearing their masks! But anyway, please consider these poor kids having to miss school from getting sick or being close contacts before you brush it off as not a big deal. Even missing school for a few days is a big deal to them. And many kids aren’t as lucky as Kinsie was. MANY children are being hospitalized with Covid around the country. Also, if you haven’t already, please get vaccinated! That is the best way to protect these precious, innocent, vulnerable kids. And you better believe the SECOND that a vaccine becomes available for my kids, I will be signing them up!

We are really looking forward to September, and fall in general. Summer has been great, but we’re ready for some cooler temps and fall traditions. We are also looking forward to getting closer to the vaccine being available for my big kids (Brody may have to wait until early 2022), and for Ryan to soon get his booster shot. We’re hoping both of those things happen in the next month or two! In the meantime, my kids are staying masked up, Ryan has been shaving daily again to make sure his N95 fits his face, and I’ll be staying home with Brody. We are praying that we can all stay healthy through this Delta surge, while still enjoying our favorite season!

Enjoy our August 1 Second Everyday video!

Many Celebrations in May

We had a very busy May, and it felt great to be *somewhat* back to normal. We celebrated 2 very special birthdays, the kids finished their school year and stayed busy in sports, and we got to have lots of semi-normal spring and summer fun. It was refreshing!

Braxton’s Surprise Birthday Trip

For the first time in over a year, we took a family weekend trip! We did a surprise birthday trip for our big 5 year old. We didn’t tell him where we were going, so he enjoyed the suspense knowing we were going somewhere special for his birthday weekend.

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Day 1: Kentucky Down Under

We drove about 3 hours to Cave City, Kentucky. The first surprise was Kentucky Down Under. Ryan and I came here with his family when we were engaged, so we knew the kids would love it. It’s an interactive zoo with lots of fun outback animals to see and interact with. This was really Brody’s first time at a zoo too!

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The kids loved the area where you can feed the birds and they climb all over you. Even Brody tried to grab the birds!

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We also loved the outback area where there were kangaroos, emus, and some farm animals openly wandering around. You could buy cups of food to feed the animals. The kids were in heaven and Ryan made best friends with all the animals of course!

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The park was mostly outdoors, so overall we felt pretty safe and comfortable. We kept our masks handy and wore them when we couldn’t distance ourselves from other people. Brody spent his time either in the stroller or in the Ergo carrier, and we did our best to keep him away from people since he can’t wear a mask. He was a trooper! He seemed to enjoy a new environment since he doesn’t get out much. He even took a decent stroller nap in the afternoon.

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The animal show was not super “Covid friendly” since they bunched everyone together in a small amphitheater. I just wore Brody in the carrier and stood to the side away from everyone, and Ryan and the kids wore their masks. The kids still enjoyed the show, and they loved getting to pet (and hold) the snake!

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The kids had a great day and they loved the park! Brax still asks us all the time when we can go back!

Time at the Hotel

This was Brody’s first time staying in a hotel. It was an interesting experience! I couldn’t just let him crawl around since hotel floors are gross, and I couldn’t let him play on the bed much because he would try to dive off. We ended up setting up his pack ‘n’ play and letting him play in there… but he isn’t a huge fan of being contained! That evening we let Brax open his gift, and we got carry out and ate in the room. We were all tired from our busy day so we just took it easy and played in the room and watched TV.

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Brody did not understand bed time with us all in the same room. We turned off all the lights, and I set the kids up with a show on the iPad while Brody fell asleep. I figured he’d be exhausted, but he thought it was party time! He just kept standing up in his bed and talking and screaming happily. After maybe 45 minutes, he finally sat down and passed out. He was up and at ’em early in the morning and woke us all along with him. But it was Brax’s birthday so we were excited to start the day!

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Day 2: Dinosaur World

On the drive, we told Brax to look for clues for where we were going for his big birthday surprise. He finally saw a huge dinosaur statue and started to get an idea! He was so excited!

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We spent all morning exploring Dinosaur World. It isn’t a huge park, and most people could go through the whole thing in maybe an hour, but we spent more time than usual because Brax wanted to see and read every single thing possible. There was a walk through the woods where you would see life-size dinosaur statues, and Brax wanted a picture with every single one! Later I took all the pictures from Dinosaur World and put them all in a Shutterfly book with facts about each dinosaur so he could look at it whenever he wanted!

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There was also a fun dinosaur-themed playground and we let the kids play for a while. Even Brody enjoyed it!  After a while, we let the kids pick out something from the gift shop, then we left. Brax LOVED Dinosaur World. He said he wanted to live there! It was a perfect place to spend his birthday!

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We told Brax he could choose anywhere he wanted for lunch. Or if he wanted a certain type of food, we could find something. Of all the possibilities, he chose Wendy’s!

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Ryan’s parents were watching our dog for the weekend, so we had them meet us back at home so we could eat dinner together and get ice cream for dessert. Brax requested our favorite ice cream shop, Jiffy Treat. He had a wonderful 5th birthday and couldn’t wait to tell his teachers and friends about his weekend!

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Mother’s Day

Ryan had to work in the afternoon, so we spent the morning together as a family. It was a gloomy, rainy day, so while Brody took his morning nap, we all watched a movie together. Once Brody woke up and Ryan headed to work, the kids and I spent the afternoon at my parents’ house. It was laid back and relaxing, and the kids just enjoyed having fun together like usual!

For Brody, every day is Mother’s Day!

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The kids made a “stuffed animal parade” along the balcony. This is just an example of the many creative things they do when they play together!

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Fully Vaccinated!

On May 4th, I got my 2nd Covid vaccine! I thought Star Wars Day was a good day to become fully vaccinated, and I prepared with an appropriate band-aid. I did have some symptoms with this vaccine, but it was tolerable. Once the kids were in bed that evening, I started having chills and body aches. I didn’t sleep great, but I was able to rest a little the next day and manage the body aches with Advil. By about 24 hours post vaccine, I was completely fine. 100% worth it!

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My sister got me this amazing hat so that WHEN I feel comfortable going out in public without my mask, at least people will know that I am vaccinated! 

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Outdoor Living

I’m not going to lie, spring weather has not shown its face as often as I’d like at this point in the year. We’ve had so many random cold and rainy days. BUT, we take advantage when we can. Brody is a little outdoor boy. He loves it! He has been enjoying his new outdoor toys like his swing and walking lawn mower.

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Whenever Renata comes over, she always tries to do something fun with the kids. One day she brought stuff for the kids to paint birdhouses and flower pots.

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Enjoying the outdoors whenever they can!

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It has only been warm enough to set up the water table once or twice, but when we do, Brody gets real excited. He splashes like crazy and gets himself soaked immediately!

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It’s an annual tradition to start the swimming season by all the cousins jumping in the pool together holding hands (Brody will join someday!)

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Lake season has started as well and we’re real excited about it! We were there a lot last summer, but Brody was such a tiny baby he obviously couldn’t enjoy it much. Now he loved it. He wasn’t crazy about the boat ride, but mainly because he didn’t like wearing his life jacket. The big kids loved swimming and riding the paddle boat with their cousins!

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Dinosaur Birthday Bash

Since the boys’ birthdays are only 2 weeks apart, we decided to have a combined birthday party for them. Brax was really excited to share his party with his brother! We let him pick the theme and of course he picked dinosaurs! Since Covid is still a factor, AND we still don’t know very many people in our town yet, we stuck with a small family-only party…just the people the kids are closest to.

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We were excited to finally get to host something at our new house! I had a lot of help prepping for the party – even if it was just someone coming to entertain the kids so I could clean! Ryan’s sister Megan made me some banners and the matching shirts for the birthday boys. And Aunt Renata made her famous cookies! We ordered Jimmy Johns for the main food and I ordered cakes from a local lady who has a side cake business. They turned out really cute!

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I didn’t have a whole lot of activities planned, but I didn’t have to. These kids are all so close they can have fun doing anything! 

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It was a team effort to open presents. I helped Brax, and Ryan helped Brody. Kinsie and a few of the cousins delivered the presents to the boys when they were ready for another present to open. Brody was so funny opening his presents. He would open one, then want to play with the toy and wouldn’t want to put it away to open the next. And he continued to get distracted and tried to crawl away. When he opened a jumbo pack of Puffs (his favorite snack), he was so excited and didn’t want to put them down!

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We all sang “Happy Birthday,” and dug into the cake and ice cream. Brody got his own special smash cake!

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Of course we all had to be dressed in our dinosaur gear!

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Brody loved his smash cake! He seemed to enjoy eating the cake, but honestly, he didn’t eat THAT much. He mainly just played in the cake. He loved squishing it between his fingers and rubbing it in his hair!

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My kids LOVE doing the piñata, so we made sure we got one. Now that most of these kids are playing softball or baseball now, they broke into the piñata sooner than they ever had in the past!

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It turned out to be a great party. The week leading up to party day, the forecast said it was 100% chance of rain. Somehow, it turned out to be a perfect, beautiful day. After the party activities, the adults hung out and talked and the kids all ran around in the backyard and the basement. It was a great day!

 

Brody’s FIRST Birthday

Our littlest love turned ONE this month! Since we had the party the day before, we had somewhat of a low-key birthday for our boy (after all, it was a Monday!) The kids still had school, but Ryan was off work so Brody got to spend the morning with mommy and daddy.

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After Ryan dropped the kids off at school, he stopped to get Brody his first official birthday donut. He was a big fan!

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Once the kids were home, we set up Brody’s gift in the basement and brought him down to see it. He loves tents, so we got him a pop up tent and tunnel, and bought balls to put in it. He LOVED it! Kinsie and Brax enjoyed playing in it with him too!

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In the evening, we got Culver’s for dinner and Brody loved his first cheeseburger. We also got ice cream for dessert. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him and let him try some ice cream. You could tell he liked the taste, but it was too cold…he kept making a shivering sound! We ended up letting him have some of his leftover smash cake for dessert and he enjoyed that too. He had a great day!

 

Sports Life

Sports kept us very busy this month! Brax had soccer once a week, and Kinsie had softball practice once a week, and at least one game a week. Normally, Brax’s soccer and Kinsie’s practices were at the same time on Saturdays, so Ryan and I had to divide and conquer. But a few times, Kinsie’s practice got cancelled so we got to see Brax play soccer. 

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Kinsie has improved TREMENDOUSLY this season. She started the season barely hitting the ball and she wasn’t the best at fielding either. But between my dad, Ryan, and her coaches, she has gotten so much better! She gets on base every game now and even gets in on the fielding action! We are so proud of her progress!

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End of the School Year

The end of the school year is always a fun time. We were so sad that the kids didn’t get to experience it last year. 

 

Braxton got to celebrate his birthday at school this month. He got to bring the snack that day (we brought pre-packaged cupcakes), and the class sang to him while he wore the birthday hat!

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Brax also had an end of the year program. There were only 2 guests per child allowed, we had to wear masks the entire time and space out in the auditorium. Luckily, Grandma Bev came down to watch Kinsie and Brody so that Ryan and I could go to the program. Brax was all business throughout his songs, then at the VERY end he did a crazy face pose! 

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Brax had a WONDERFUL school year. We absolutely loved his school, and we are looking forward to Brody getting to attend there someday. His teachers were amazing, and he made significant growth this year – both emotionally and academically. He made some great friends too! He will be attending the half day Kindergarten program next year at the same school, then he’ll be moving on to Kinsie’s school after that!

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Kinsie loved her end of the school year too. Their class counted down the last 10 days of school with 10 fun activities – such as stuffed animal day, an ice cream snack, watching a movie, and working with a partner for the day. Her school district has been very cautious with Covid all year, so they avoided a lot of normal end of the year activities…but they still made it special for the kids. She is looking forward to things becoming more normal as time goes on so she can experience all the fun normal school activities!

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How amazing are our kids though? They had the craziest year, but they got through it with a smile on their face (under their mask!) They didn’t let all the unknown and crazy of the world bother them. They were just happy to be at school and see their friends. I wish adults could be more like kids!

 

Beginning of Summer Vacation

The first few weeks of summer vacation were not exactly summer weather. It rained or was 60 degrees or less most days, so we spent a lot of time indoors. Luckily, we had a few new toys that kept them busy! My mom saved ALL of my beanie babies from when I was little – specifically for her grandkids to someday play with. Now that we were settled into our house, my parents brought over the tubs (yes, multiple) of beanie babies. The kids LOVED going through all of them and sorting them into categories. And I may have enjoyed looking through them as much as they did!

We also spent time playing in the tent and doing some virtual reality. Yes, Ryan got new toys too!

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The best new toy, however, is the Nugget. My sister-in-law first told me about these months ago, and I knew I wanted one once we were in the new house. I ordered one back in March when we moved in, but they are VERY popular, so they were backordered about 2 months. Well, our long awaited delivery came just in time for summer vacation. So far the kids have been OBSESSED!

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They have used it as a couch, a fort, a slide, and a climbing ramp. I think Brody may love it the most!

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Memorial Weekend

Last year on Memorial Weekend, I was in the NICU with Brody at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and was less than a week away from moving to another state. This year, we got to spend it together as a family with a happy, healthy, crazy little one year old! 

We went to my parents’ house on Sunday to watch the race and have a pool day. Most of the day it was actually pretty cool – too cold to swim in my opinion. But the kids didn’t care! Even though it was only 65 degrees outside, they spent the majority of the day in the pool. In the late afternoon, the temps finally seemed high enough for Brody to get in the pool. At first we let him sit on the side and watch the kids, but he kept trying to dive in so we figured he wanted to get in!

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Brody loved the pool…just like I figured he would. He is a huge fan of the bath and splashes like crazy, and he was the same way in the pool. I have a feeling this little guy will keep me busy this summer!

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We spent the night at my parents’ house that night so we could wake up and head straight to the lake the next morning. It was only Ryan’s parents and his brother at the lake that day, which was nice! When Brody was napping, we went fishing with the kids. At first they were nervous to hold the fish, but eventually they got brave enough to do it, and then they didn’t want to stop!

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Once Brody woke up, we let him see one of the fish we caught. And, like I figured he would, he tried to eat it!

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Last winter, Ryan’s parents bought a camper to keep at the campgrounds. We drove golf carts down to the campgrounds to see it for the first time. We loved seeing the camper of course, but the big highlight was the cicadas! They were EVERYWHERE around the campgrounds. Kinsie is obsessed. She would find them at recess and play with them, and already knows all kinds of facts about them. Now she got Brax and Brody into them too. They were collecting them and playing with them. Kinsie even took one back to the lake house with her and made a little habitat in a jar. She has always been my nature girl!

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We ended the evening with a boat ride. This time, I just wore Brody in the Ergo carrier and he enjoyed it much more this time! We had a great weekend together!

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We had a wonderful month of May. It felt more like the way it should be. I know things are not completely back to normal, and I won’t feel 100% better until my kids are able to get vaccinated, but it is SO nice that Ryan and I are both fully vaccinated. I feel a little more comfortable going places now, especially outside. My kids are kind of socially awkward and don’t get close to people they don’t know anyway, so it works out! We are hoping to spend a lot of our summer days enjoying our own backyard (we got a TON of outdoor toys for the boys’ birthday), swimming at Yaya’s pool, hanging out at the lake, and hopefully some other fun adventures as well. 

Happy Summer and enjoy our May 1 Second Everyday!

 

Our September Stories

September was the first month in a long time that really seemed to go by quickly. Both of the kids are in school now, so just the driving around dropping off and picking up kids each week day keeps me pretty busy! Covid is obviously still lingering, and to be honest, hit a little too close to home this month…but overall, it has sadly meshed into our every day lives. Wearing masks, keeping our distance from people, constantly cleaning everything and washing our hands…it’s second nature now. We are doing our best to still be aware of it and do our part to flatten the curve, but also still do fun things and *somewhat* live our lives.

Here is a recap of our September…

Kinsie starts in-person school

This was probably the highlight of her month…and her birthday was this month too! Kinsie was SO excited to finally start at her new school, and she was not disappointed at all! She has absolutely loved every second of it so far. She has made several friends right away, which is amazing considering how shy she usually is. She and Brax both don’t seem to mind the changes to school this year from Covid. They have a great collection of cute masks that they genuinely get excited to pick out each day for school. If only more adults were more like these kids…we’d be over this pandemic a lot sooner! We know there is always the possibility that things will get bad again and they may shut the schools down again, but for now, the kids are loving their time at school.

Brax’s School Activities

Brax is loving his new school too! He seems to be fitting in well and making new friends. His class has a special private Facebook page where they share pictures of the kids activities. One of his favorite activities that they have done so far was dig for dinosaurs (while learning about the letter D). Recently, Brax was also the “Top Banana” in his class, which is like the student of the week. He got to bring in pictures of his family, his pet, and some of his favorite things. He also got to bring in his favorite book for the teacher to read to the class. He loved it!

Family Hike at McCormick’s Creek

During Labor Day weekend, we wanted to take a family hike somewhere nearby. McCormick’s Creek is only about 15 minutes away from us, so we found a cave trail to explore. It was more crowded than we expected, but we never go anywhere without our masks, so we just threw those on and continued our hike. Kinsie especially loved it, and she walked our dog Koda the whole time. Brax wasn’t feeling great. He had just had his flu shot, and he was having what we thought was side effects from that, but he continued to have symptoms that got us worried in today’s Covid world. He was a champ and toughed out the hike, but he definitely didn’t feel good. We ended up taking him to get a Covid test the next day and after 24 excruciating hours of waiting, it was negative!

Visitors

It is SO nice being close to family again. We love when grandparents, aunts/uncles and cousins come to visit us for an afternoon!

Kinsie is SEVEN!

Our beautiful girl turned seven this month! She had quite the special day. First we started our morning with our traditional birthday donuts.

Kinsie had school on her birthday, which she was really excited about. Her teacher and classmates made it a very special school day for her. She got to bring in birthday treats, she wore a sticker that said “Today is my birthday!” and they made her a birthday book. She made the cover, and each classmate made a page in it.

After school, we got carry out from a sandwich shop (Kinsie wanted grilled cheese), and we took it to IU campus near the Sample Gates to have a picnic dinner.

After dinner, we went to a park to let the kids play for a little while.

Finally, we ended our night by getting ice cream from our favorite ice cream shop in town and ate it on our front porch. We had such a fun afternoon celebrating our favorite seven year old!

Kinsie’s Pinkalicious Birthday Party

Now that we live closer to family, Kinsie really wanted to have a birthday party with all of her cousins, so we had a very small family-only Pinkalicious birthday party at the lake house. We made sure to keep it small and outdoors so we were still being safe. It turned out to be a beautiful day so it worked out perfectly.

If you have never read the book, “Pinkalicious,” it’s about a little girl who eats too many pink cupcakes, so she turns pink. The doctor diagnosed her with “Pinkititis,” and told her in order to turn back to normal, she must eat a steady diet of green food. For Kinsie’s party, we included the cupcakes (but made sure nobody ate too many!), lots of fun pink food, and a tray of green food for the cure to Pinkititis!

The cousins all loved making their own crowns with stickers and jewels. They even made one for Brody!

Kinsie loved opening her presents, eating cupcakes, and hitting the piñata. She was completely in her happy place to be surrounded by all of her cousins!

It filled my heart to see her so happy. It was also so nice that Ryan was able to join us, since, in several years past, he had to work. The kids all had so much fun together and clearly wore our girl out! She usually has so much energy and NEVER falls asleep in the car, so the party was clearly successful since this is how I found her when we got home!

Fall Fun with Cousins

My niece Kolly had her birthday party at my parents’ pool near the end of September. It was supposed to be a pool party, and while it was a little too chilly to swim, it was a beautiful fall day! After the party, my family and I all sat around talking for hours while the kids played independently. No arguing, no adult intervention, no screens…just kids being kids. They had a blast playing in the leaves together all afternoon.

Breaking Ground

We finally broke ground on our home!! We are so excited to get this process started. It has been almost 6 months since we first decided to build, so to finally see a hole in the ground is so exciting!

Brody at 4 months

Our precious, happy little boy turned 4 months old this month! He is still overall a very easy-going baby, but he knows what he wants and we have a feeling he will be on-the-go as soon as physically possible. He adores his brother and sister, and the feeling is mutual. We all love our Brody time and love watching him grow!

Here are some stats about our Bro at 4 months…

  • He started to giggle and we are OBSESSED.
  • He loves when we hold him and walk around. He always wants to see everything around him.
  • His brother Brax often calls him “sweet boy” and its the most precious thing ever.
  • He has different interactions with all of us. My favorite is how he smiles at Kinsie.
  • He is ticklish under his armpits and on his thighs.
  • He rolls from his back to his belly…constantly. This often keeps us up at night as well so we’re hoping the novelty wears off soon!
  • He wants to be able to move so bad, so he works hard at scooting himself forward. He will probably be crawling in no time!
  • He is showing signs of changing eye color. We are thinking they may turn brown like me and Kinsie’s eyes.
  • Now that he is big enough, he loves looking out in my Ergo carrier. He loves being able to see everything going on!

We are all always loving on Brody. Like literally at all times.

The many adorable faces of Brody at 4 months.

Four months in and we are all still completely smitten with this little boy. And now I can’t believe that he will have his half birthday in less than 2 months. It is also crazy that his whole life so far has been during a pandemic. He doesn’t know any different than to see us wearing masks all the time. But someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, life will be somewhat back to normal and he won’t remember the crazy world he was born into.

And now onto October…one of my favorite months. We hope to still incorporate some of our favorite fall traditions while still being safe. Halloween may look different this year, but the kids will still be in costumes and they are excited to be close to home to spend that time with the people we love.

And as always, here is our 1 Second Everyday video for September 2020. Happy fall!

New Adventures in August

August was a month of lots of new beginnings. Kinsie and Brax both started school, and Ryan started his new job. Covid is still raging, but at least we have somewhat of a routine now and school to keep us busy. The kids have spent WAY too much time together and have way too much energy for me to keep up with, so having schoolwork now has helped keep their mind somewhat stimulated.

Here is a summary of our August…

Kinsie Starts 1st Grade Virtually

Starting the school year online was definitely not our first choice. We had a talk with Kinsie about school earlier in the summer, and we all agreed that being in school, even if that meant wearing a mask and social distancing, was the best choice for her. She thrives in school, and she couldn’t wait to start at a new school and meet her teacher and new friends. However, about a week before school was supposed to start, the district decided to start the first few weeks online. She was really bummed, but she made the most of it. Her school day included several live meetings with her class, which was a great way for her to still get to know her teacher and classmates. Her teacher has done an amazing job connecting with the students and creating class community, even virtually. Luckily, after the last board meeting, the district has decided to move to “phase yellow,” which means elementary students can start attending school in-person next week, and middle and high school students move to a hybrid schedule. Kinsie is SO excited! I’m so proud of her for how she has handled all the crazy changes this year.

Kinsieschool-1Kinsieschool-2

Ryan Starts His Job

We were all excited for Ryan to officially start his first real job! And it only took about 10 years to get there! So far he loves the hospital that he is working at, and all of his co-workers. He is still getting used to being “in charge” but he is doing great and we are all loving his hours.

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After Kinsie’s first day of school and Ryan’s first day of work, we had to celebrate with a trip to Jiffy Treet for ice cream!

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Braxton Starts Pre-K

Another new adventure was Brax starting pre-K at his new school. Luckily, he has been able to go in person. He has to wear his mask sometimes throughout the day, like walking into and out of the building, and he does such a great job with it. He was a little nervous to start at a new school, but so far he has loved it and loves his new teacher and classmates.

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Outdoor Adventures

Even with the kids starting school, we still have to get the kids outside to play as often as possible. They have SO much energy, and they fight more with each other and drive us crazy if they aren’t active enough throughout the day. Luckily, we have a pretty big yard for them to explore and play.

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Kinsie’s current obsession is American Ninja Warrior, so Ryan has tried to give the kids some “ninja-type” activities in our own yard. We even gave her an early birthday present and got her a slackline obstacle kit. The kids could spend hours on it!

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Love these crazy kids!

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We still make our way over to my parents’ pool for swimming days every so often too!

Outside-pool

One morning, we went to the park that Kinsie calls the “American Ninja Warrior” park. This is a newer park so it gets crowded often. We went early, and had a good chunk of time without crowds, but it didn’t last too long. When there were too many people around, we had the kids put on their masks. Even so, they always enjoy any park time they get.

Outside-park

One day, Ryan’s mom and aunt Renata came to visit. The kids wanted to take them to our other favorite park, and to show them the waterfall. We also enjoyed a picnic lunch at the park, bike riding, and looking for fish in the creek.

Outside-park2

Weekends at the Lake

We are taking full advantage of our summer time at the lake. We have gone pretty much every weekend, even if just for the day. Ryan’s parents recently got some paddle boards, so we have all been enjoying trying them out.

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In August, we also celebrating our sweet Grandma Bev’s birthday. Even though she fell in the lake while trying to help dock the boat, her heart was so full the whole day with all of her kids and grandbabies!

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And of course the kids always enjoy their time with their cousin, Griffin…even if its running around in random sun hats!

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Building Our Home

We are in the homestretch of preparing to build our forever home. Just a couple more weeks and we will be breaking ground. We are all so excited, and we love going to visit the lot whenever we can. I will be taking lots of pictures of the building process so I will be sure to share the progress.

Lot

Brody turned 3 months

Our precious little Brody is growing so fast right in front of our eyes! He is getting so big and so much fun. We are all so obsessed with him. The kids literally fight over who gets to sit closer to him. He is so happy and BUSY…like his brother and sister. He is still pretty go with the flow because as a third kid, he really has no choice…but lately he has less chill days and more busy days and always wants to be on-the-go!

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Here are some updates of our little Bro at 3 months –

  • He talks and squeals a lot – definitely discovering his voice.
  • He loves to suck on his hands.
  • He is much more interactive and LOVES when people talk to him.
  • When laying down on his back, he scoots backwards like a worm.
  • Most nights, he sleeps a 6-7 hour stretch. Some nights he wants to make sure I don’t forget about him and wakes up after just a couple of hours for a midnight snack.
  • He loves looking around and observing everything around him.
  • He often smiles with his tongue out, just like Kinsie did as a baby.
  • He naps best with loud music to drown out the noise of his siblings.
  • He is doing great with tummy time.
  • He is in constant motion. In fact, when I put him down on his playmat and walk away to do something, I’ll come back not even a minute later and he has scooted himself off the mat!
  • On the day he turned 3 months, he tried a new trick and can roll from his belly to his back. The kids love cheering him on when he does this!

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These kids are ALWAYS loving on their baby brother. I feel like I say “Give him some space” a hundred times a day!

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More sweet faces of our favorite little guy…

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We love every single day with this boy. He brings us so much joy. I love seeing the kids in their roles of his big brother and sister. Even if they beat each other senseless often, they are so sweet and loving with Brody. We’ll see how long until he joins in on their wrestling matches!

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Growing month by month…

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Lots of new and exciting changes in August, and now we are looking forward to September. Our Kinsie Kay will be 7 this month!! We love fall and we have so many fun traditions we usually do in this season. However, it is 2020…the year of the pandemic. Things may look different than they usually do, but we still have each other and so much to be grateful for. We’ve been through so much this year already, and our kids have become absolute champs with all the change. We’re ready for our first Indiana fall, even if we mainly enjoy it just from our front porch!

Here is our August 1 Second Everyday video. Enjoy!

One Crazy May

The last few months have been absolute insanity. And when I think that things can’t possibly get any crazier, they do. May turned out to be extremely exhausting and emotional, but also amazing since our sweet baby boy was born!

Here is a recap of our crazy month…

Brax’s 4th Birthday

Our boy Brax turned 4 this month!! Even before the pandemic, we knew that his birthday would have to be low-key because we knew that I would either be super pregnant, or have a newborn. Luckily we had a beautiful day to work with, so we filled our sweet boy’s day with lots of fun right from home!

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My sister and her family wanted to surprise Brax with donuts in the morning, so they called and ordered them at a nearby donut shop and my mom picked them up. He loved the surprise from his aunt, uncle and cousins!

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Brax was thrilled to get a new bike for his birthday from us! He spent a good portion of his day practicing riding it. We also had a picnic lunch in our front yard, a water balloon fight with Daddy, and sprinkler and pool fun.

Braxbirthday-activities

After we came inside, we ordered his favorite dinner, pizza. After pizza, we called our families for a Zoom birthday song and cake. He loved getting to see everyone even though they all couldn’t be there.

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Even though we never left the house, our boy seemed to have a great 4th birthday! And I was thrilled that Brax would still have his own birthday…I was genuinely nervous that the baby would come that day. Luckily (and surprisingly), he didn’t come for another couple weeks!

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While we packed…

We had a LOT of work to do before we moved at the end of the month. My mom started packing whenever she could, and I spent half the month as a beached whale who could hardly roll over, so the most I could help was sitting with my mom and telling her what to pack and where. It was super frustrating because I felt useless. Anyway, one of the hardest parts about packing is entertaining your kids. They are usually good about entertaining themselves, but when they are watching you pack all of their toys, it often causes some issues! They spent some time dressing up, making forts, and drawing lots and lots of pictures. Kinsie recently discovered a YouTube Channel that teaches you how to draw hundreds of different animals and characters. She spent countless hours drawing during the moving process!

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It rained a lot this May, but we would still try to get the kids outside whenever we could so they wouldn’t kill each other. They came up with obstacle courses, random games, and drew lots of PinkFong creations with sidewalk chalk.

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Lots of walks trying to help get baby out…

I had been physically miserable for quite some time at this point. I was shocked that the baby hadn’t come sooner based on how I felt. I was so desperate to get him out, and tried to do whatever I could to help the process…mainly lots and lots of walks. We obviously couldn’t take long walks because my feet would get too swollen, but we took as many short walks as we could. One of our favorite walks was at a different lake in our town, closer to the kids’ school. There’s a giant swan that lives at that lake, so the kids call it “Swan Lake.” It was a beautiful walk with lots of wildlife, including the swan, a family of ducks, turtles, and fish. The kids loved it and could have spent hours following the duck family!

SwanWalk

We also walked around the lake by our house. We always looked for wildlife to keep the kids entertained. During one of our walks, Ryan found a speckled king snake and PICKED IT UP. He is crazy. This particular type of snake is docile, and he had a good hold of it and Kinsie even touched it. Later on this same walk, we found a turtle, which Kinsie fell in love with and would have taken home if we let her!

CritterWalk

We did the swan lake walk on Mother’s Day as well. Ryan was off for paternity leave at this point, so he was able to join us for a Subway picnic and more wildlife watching. This was the first Mother’s Day that I’ve gotten to spend with my mom since we moved here. I not only loved spending Mother’s Day with her, but I was beyond grateful for the time she spent with us in Arkansas. She was absolutely crucial to us this month with everything that went down and I am so blessed to have her love and support.

MothersDayWalk

Last Day of School…Quarantine Style

Obviously the kids’ school year did not end the way we expected it to end, and we all had our moments of grief with this fact. However, I am so impressed with my kids on how they handled everything. They were still excited to take “Last Day of School” pictures. I always love seeing how much they’ve grown during a school year!

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Graduations and End of Year Parades

Since the pandemic caused all school and events to be cancelled, Kinsie’s school decided to have a drive-through Kindergarten graduation ceremony. It was SO precious and she got her certificates and got to say goodbye to her teacher. Brax’s school also had a drive-through farewell parade. Unfortunately, I was not able to be there because I was still in the hospital with the baby (I’ll tell the whole story in his birth story coming soon), but Ryan and my mom recorded both events and took pictures for me.

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Here is the video Ryan took with his Go-Pro of Kinsie’s graduation

 

Introducing Brody Ryan Matthews!

The biggest and most anticipated event of our month…the birth of our precious baby boy, Brody Ryan Matthews. He was born on May 17 at 10:24am. He was 7 lbs, 14 oz. and 21 inches long. He is the absolute sweetest baby and we are all so obsessed with him. We ended up spending about a week in the hospital due to high bilirubin levels, which I will explain in full detail in his upcoming birth story. Luckily now, he is doing much better and we’ve enjoyed welcoming him home into our family!

Brodybirth

Siblings

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Lots of love for Brody

Brody only got to live in Arkansas for about 2 weeks before we moved. While we continued packing our house, the kids spent most of their time fighting over who got to hold Brody. The love playing with him on his playmat and reading lots of books to him!

Brodyfun

Brody’s First Walk

Before we moved, I really wanted to take Brody on a walk around our favorite park. Even though he slept the whole time, we all enjoyed our first and last walk at our park as a family of five.

FamilyWalk

Brody’s First Bath

Kinsie was thrilled to get to help with Brody’s first sponge bath!

BrodyBath

Moving Day!

Brody and I were only home for about a week before we had to load up the moving trucks and hit the road to Indiana! My dad and Ryan’s parents came down to help us load up and drive. It was a crazy, exhausting, busy few days but we made it! Ryan even drove one of the UHAUL trucks, helped us get settled, then flew back down to Little Rock to finish out his month. This definitely wasn’t the way we wanted to finish our time in Arkansas, but we are already planning a trip in the future to come back and visit our friends and our favorite places.

KidsUHAUL

MovingDay

My mom helped drive with me and my kids. It took us about 12 hours since we had to stop every few hours to feed the baby. He did amazing on his first road trip!

DrivingtoIN

RV’s for MD’s

Since we had to be out of our house on May 30 and Ryan still had to finish his contract, he needed a place to live for the month of June. He thought about staying with a friend, but most of his closest friends had new babies, and he didn’t want to impose on a family or cause potential exposure. My friend told me about a Facebook group called “RV’s for MD’s” where people who own RV’s offer to let frontline workers live in their RV so they don’t expose their families to the coronavirus. I joined the group and we were able to find the nicest family in Little Rock who had a huge, full-sized RV. They made dure the RV was clean and fully-stocked and they even gave us a baby gift! We worked it out to park it at the RV Park in downtown Little Rock right by the river. It is such a neat program and we were so grateful that Ryan had a safe place to live!

RVforMD

May was exhausting, and I’m glad it is over. However, it will be a month I will never forget for the rest of my life because I had a baby and moved across the country within 2 weeks! The kids and I are staying with my parents for the month of June, then when Ryan is finished, he’ll come to Indiana and we will live in a rental house while our house is being built. Things are still crazy trying to get settled and dealing with 2 kids and a newborn, but I am just so grateful for a healthy baby and the fact that we are closer to home!

Stay tuned for Brody’s full birth story and more summer fun in the upcoming months!

Here is our May 1 Second Everyday…enjoy!

 

Kicking off 2020 at 6 Months Pregnant

The first month of this year has been interesting. It’s been long, like most Januarys, but we’ve also been busy…in a different way. Being 6 months pregnant makes busy days a bit more exhausting. I started AND ended the month being sick…nothing too bad, just a cold…but man, these colds have kicked my pregnant behind! Having a cold while pregnant is a lot worse than I remembered…I’m already tired and out of breath all the time, and I didn’t have many options for any medications to give me any relief. I’ve mainly relied on nasal spray and rest. With a busy working husband and two kids who need dropped off, picked up, and ran around to their various activities…rest is few and far between. Luckily I’ve had help here and there with a few mom/mother-in-law visits!

Here is a recap of our month…

Prepping for the big move

We’re planning on putting our house on the market in March, so the first step is LOTS of decluttering. It’s been tiring, but mentally satisfying for me. When I’m pregnant, my nesting drastically kicks in, and my mind can’t rest. It’s almost like taking Adderall – I have a hard time not being productive. Even though I don’t have a nursery to prepare for unil we move, luckily I’ve had a whole house to clean…fulfilling my nesting needs. We rented a storage unit to keep our stuff that we’ve cleared out of the house, which the kids have been weirdly obsessed with. They don’t like storing any of their stuff, but they LOVE taking runs to the unit and helping load it up!

Storage

Trampoline Park Day

Before the kids started school after Christmas break, they needed to get some energy out, so I took them to one of their favorite places, the trampoline park. Even though I wasn’t physically able to jump with them this time, luckily they entertain each other pretty well and had a great time!

TrampolinePark

100 Magical Days

Kinsie was super excited for her 100th day of school. At the school in which I used to teach, celebrating this day was more of a lower elementary thing, so as a 5th grade teacher, I never really got to partake in the fun. Being the mom of a Kindergartener though has given me that chance! Kinsie and I went to Hobby Lobby together to pick out her supplies and made her shirt together. Her shirt had a rainbow made out of 100 gems, a unicorn, and the words “100 Magical Days!” She was so excited to show it off and loved telling me about all the different 100 Day activities they did at school that day.

100thDay

Rare Outside Time

If Arkansas gets any cold weather, January is typically when it happens. Overall, it’s usually about 30 degrees in the mornings and evenings, and then gets up to the 40s, MAYBE 50s during the day. Not too bad compared to an Indiana January, but still. We’ve had TONS of rain this month, which is what has kept us from being outside more. We did, however, get a few rare opportunities to spend some time outside, which always fills the kids’ buckets.

Outside

Community Helpers Unit

Kinsie had her first big unit at school, community helpers. They’ve been learning about different community helpers and what they do, and they’ve even had several guest speakers (her daddy being one of them!) All the Kindergarteners had to pick a community helper and create a poster and present it to the class. Kinsie picked doctors because she is so proud that her dad is one. She worked so hard on her poster, and it turned out great! I helped her physically put it together, but she did all the research (Ryan was her resource), and all the writing. She was a little nervous to present to the class, but she ended up going first and did an awesome job! She was so excited to have Ryan come speak to the Kindergarten classes about being a doctor too!

ComHelpers

Baby Updates – 6 Months

I’m kind of freaking out at how fast this pregnancy seems to be going this time. Between life with two other kids and keeping up with all of their activities, plus starting the process of moving, each week is flying by!

Updates and Symptoms-

  • Baby is a little more than 1 pound
  • His hands are always by his face
  • He is VERY active. I absolutely love feeling him move, but he is getting bigger and stronger, which makes some of his movements somewhat painful!
  • Continued gigantic hiccups
  • Intense need to “nest”
  • Mild carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms – I’m hoping this one is more from the work I’ve been doing around the house rather than my pregnancy. If you recall, my carpal tunnel pain was SO intense near the end of my pregnancy with Brax, which continued for several weeks after he was born. It was so terrible being in horrible pain even holding my newborn baby. I eventually had to get cortisone injections is both of my wrists. I am trying to be very proactive this time to avoid it getting that bad again.

Early in the month, we had our anatomy scan. Even though we already knew it was a boy, I loved every moment of the ultrasound. The tech was extremely thorough and even gave us a free DVD with the entire ultrasound on it. We got lots of great views and pictures of our crazy little guy, including a quick 3D view of his sweet little face! He is very healthy and right on track with his size!

Baby ultrasound-1

Baby ultrasound-2

 

This picture was taken at 22 weeks – baby was the size of a red bell pepper

22 weeks

 

This picture was taken at 24 weeks – baby is the size of a pomegranate (notice the size difference in just 2 weeks from the previous picture!)

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I found some of my old pregnancy pictures from my last 2 pregnancies, and compared the pictures all at 24 weeks. It is so interesting how different each pregnancy has been! As you can probably see, I was the biggest at this point with Brax. With this baby, I’d say I’m in between how big I was with Kinsie and Brax.

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The kids were excited to get in on the action with pictures this time! They are SO excited to meet their baby brother!

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Real life with these two…

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That’s a wrap for our January. Life is going to continue getting crazier as we get closer to the arrival of our little guy, and our big move back to our home state. It’s a lot all at once, but I keep reminding myself that it’s all good stuff. God is blessing us abundantly and we couldn’t be more grateful for his goodness!

Enjoy our first 1 Second Every video for the year 2020!

A Scorching September

Like usual, our September seemed to go by pretty fast! Now that both kids are in school and all of their activities have started, we stay pretty busy, making the days go by faster. After a LONG summer, I needed some faster-paced living. Unfortunately, the scorching summer has not subsided yet! This was the hottest September I can remember. It was almost consistently in the high 90s with very high humidity. I’m so ready for fall!!! Crossing our fingers that October will be our month!

Here is the run down of our month…

Brax Started Preschool

Since Kinsie had already been in school for a month, Brax was so excited to start preschool himself! He has had such a great start to his school year! He loves his teacher and has been really excited to learn. Last year, he was hit or miss on whether he would cry when I dropped him off, but this year he has been an absolute champ!

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He has already had lots of fun learning opportunities and projects this year!

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School has really sparked Brax’s interest in learning to write. He learned how to write his name over the summer, but now he’s learning the rest of the letters. He is constantly asking me how to spell words so he can write them!

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Brax’s Ninja Class

This is the first year that Brax was old enough to do an extra-curricular activity. The place that Kinsie does her gymnastics also offers “Ninja Zone” classes, which got Brax really excited. His first class didn’t go quite as expected…he got a little freaked out and didn’t want to participate. After some coaxing, he finally did and has not looked back since! I think at first, the idea that we were now watching him instead of him watching Kinsie freaked him out, but now he does great!

BraxNinja

Rare Days Outdoors

I’ve been somewhat depressed about the weather this month, mainly because I didn’t expect it. I thought we would get SOME relief from the heat, but we really didn’t. We did, however, have maybe 2 or 3 days where the heat didn’t hit hard until the afternoon, so we took advantage of those days. One morning we took a walk around the lake.

Outside-1

Another morning we went to the Farmer’s Market downtown and let the kids play at the rock park!

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Family Visits/Grandparents Days

The other 2 years we’ve lived here, the kids and I traveled to Indiana for Kinsie’s birthday. This year, we weren’t able to do that since Kinsie can’t really miss school as easily now. Instead, my parents came to us! We got really lucky that her birthday weekend coincided with her school’s Grandparents Day! We had such a great weekend with my parents and it was MUCH needed since we hadn’t seen them since the end of June.

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The next weekend, Ryan’s parents came down for Brax’s grandparents day at school. We loved having family here back to back!

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My kids are beyond lucky that they’ve never had a Grandparents Day at school without at least one grandparent there…even with living so far away. Our parents are absolutely amazing!!

GrandparentsDays

Kinsie’s 6th Birthday Celebrations

Kinsie decided that she just wanted to have a family birthday party this year, which I was totally fine with! Luckily, her birthday fell on a Saturday, so we had a whole fun day planned.

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Kinsie decided she wanted to go downtown for her birthday. We started out at the rock park, and then took a trolley ride around the city.

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Then we went to the nature center where they did an animal scavenger hunt! After that we went to a pizza place for lunch. It was such a fun morning, and my parents loved spending that time with us too!

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We had a mermaid-themed birthday party for Kinsie that evening. She loved the intimate family-only celebration with balloons, a good dinner, presents, and cake!

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She had such a special 6th birthday, and we were so grateful my parents were able to join us in celebrating our girl!

Since Ryan’s parents were coming to visit the next week, we kept all the decorations up and had a birthday celebration part 2 with them! We had the other half of the cake from the previous week and sang happy birthday again and she got to open her presents from Grandma Bev and Papa Tim. She loved getting 2 birthday parties and getting to celebrate with both sets of grandparents!

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And that’s a wrap for our September. October is going to be SO busy, but we have lots of excited things happening. We will be traveling to Indiana for a family wedding, spending a week in Orlando at some of our favorite theme parks, and enjoying some of our favorite fall traditions for the last time living in Arkansas. We are excited to continue our traditions back in Indiana next year!

Here is our 1 Second Everyday video for September.

August Adventures

And now August, a.k.a. the hottest month of the year in Arkansas, is finally over. We are somewhat grateful that this is the last August that we’ll be living here. Like I’ve said before, all of the other seasons in Arkansas are great, but we struggle in summer. This August in particular seemed especially brutal. It was rare that we had a day where the heat index wasn’t above 100 degrees. We are craving fall weather and everything that comes with it. Who knows if we’ll actually get cooler temperatures yet or if they won’t show up until October, but at this point, anything below 90 is considered pleasant!

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Lots of exiting milestones and adventures in August! The biggest thing was Kinsie starting Kindergarten!! But I’ll get to that in a minute. With Kinsie in school and Brax not starting until after Labor Day, we’ve had to get creative on how to stay occupied when it’s too hot to go outside. We had lots of little adventures and enjoyed our time together.

Here is the recap of our August…

The Weekend Before Kindergarten

During the month of August, Ryan was on a teaching rotation, where he spent his shifts teaching medical students. He had fewer and shorter shifts, and he got to pick when they were…so he had the weekends off. It was amazing! We wanted to have a fun family weekend before Kinsie started school, and we let her pick what she wanted to do (within reason of course). First, she chose to go to downtown Little Rock. We went to the Farmer’s Market, and played for a while at their favorite rock park.

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We also took a trolley ride around the city. The kids love doing this, and it’s free…win win!

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In the afternoon, the kids wanted to play in the yard. They played in their inflatable pool, sprayed each other with the hose, played with water balloons, and more.

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The next morning, we went to church, then Kinsie wanted to have lunch at the train restaurant, All Aboard. We had a great family weekend, and we were lucky that Ryan was able to join us for all of it!

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Kinsie Starts Kindergarten

Kinsie has been aching to go to school for a while now. She was SO excited to start Kindergarten! It definitely did not disappoint for her, she has loved every second of it!

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Brax misses Kinsie while she’s at school. He always hugs and kisses all over her (as you can see in the picture below).

The biggest adjustment for Kinsie has been having to wake up an hour earlier than she’s used to, but other than that, she has done great. She loves her teacher, and has made lots of new friends. The biggest adjustment for me has been the car rider line. Since Kinsie attends a charter school, they don’t have a bus system. All students are dropped off and picked up by their parents, so Brax and I spend quite some time waiting in line! But other than that, we love this school and are very happy with the school choice.

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Brax and I enjoy having lunch with Kinsie at her school. She lights up when she sees us!

It makes my mama and teacher heart SO happy that my girl loves school so much. I was the same way, so I hope her love for learning continues. I love hearing all about her day, and what activities she did and what she learned. We are looking forward to seeing what all she accomplishes during the rest of the school year!

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The Brax Days of Summer

Like I mentioned before, Brax and I have had lots of little fun adventures together this month. We try to do something outside of the house at least once a day, even if it’s something small like go to the store. He has been SO well behaved lately (he’s come a long way since the spring) so I have genuinely enjoyed our days together. Here are some of the highlights of our time together this month…

Library Walking Trail

We came to the library to read and check out books, but the kids often like walking around the trail behind the library, especially to see the swan that lives in that lake. It was a very hot day, but Brax really wanted to find the swan, so we walked. We ended up having to walk quite a ways around the lake, but we found the swan! He was so excited, so it was worth it!

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Altitude Trampoline Park

This is such a great place for a toddler to blow off some energy. I take the kids here often and they always have a great time. I wasn’t sure if Brax would still have a lot of fun like usual, or if he wouldn’t know what to do without Kinsie, but he still loved it!

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The Wonder Place

I was nervous that Kinsie would get upset that I brought Brax here without her, but she was surprisingly ok with it. I think it’s honestly because she loves school so much! Brax and I had a great morning together at the Wonder Place!

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Lake Willastein Park

Near the end of the month, the mornings were more mild, and then it would get hotter in the afternoon. Brax and I walked over to the park on one of these mornings and really enjoyed ourselves. We don’t get to come to the park as often as we’d like in the summer, so we stayed for a few hours and had a great time!

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Learning, Puzzles, and Games

Whenever we were home or had some down time, Brax loved doing puzzles and playing games. I also took some time this month to teach him how to write his name. He loves practicing any chance he gets! I’m hoping we have another kid who loves learning in the making, just like his big sis!

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More Adventures

Some of our other adventures included a visit to the children’s library, Chick-fil-A lunch dates, grocery store trips, and just playing in the yard and driveway. I’m excited for Brax to start school soon, but I really enjoyed my days with him!

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Weekend Adventures

To be honest, since Kinsie started school, they have been VERY easy to entertain at home on the weekends. Kinsie misses being home and playing with her own toys and with Brax, so they spend 75% of their time just playing together at home. We have taken a few little adventures just when I feel like I need to get out of the house including…

Bass Pro Shops to see the fish, and the outlet mall…mainly to go to the bargain book store and ride the mini carousel.

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We also went to the Purple Cow restaurant for dinner one night. The kids loved their purple ice cream sundae!

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Early one Saturday, before the heat kicked in, the kids and I walked over to the park and enjoyed some outside time. They needed the fresh air to run around and get some energy out…especially together!

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R.I.P. Hedwig

Our sweet goldfish, Hedwig passed away this month. Ryan won him at the Indiana State Fair before we were even married, so he lived longer than most goldfish…about 8 years! The kids grew up with him, as you can see in the pictures below. It was especially tough for Kinsie, because Hedwig’s tank has been in her room the last few years.

Left photo- Kinsie at 3 months looking at Hedwig; middle photo- Hedwig in 2014 (he got MUCH bigger than he was then); Right photo- Brax at 1 year old with Hedwig

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Kinsie made a little casket and cross for him, and we buried him in the backyard. We were lucky to have him for so long!

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Even though we were sad that Hedwig passed, we were excited to make his tank a home for some new fish! We got 4 glowfish and Kinsie named them after Toy Story characters – Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep and Trixie.

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Family Visit

This summer seemed really long, so it seemed like it had been forever since we had seen any family. We were REALLY needing some family time, and luckily, Grandma Bev, Megan and Griffin came through! We were all so happy they were able to make the trip for a few days to see us! They loved visiting Kinsie for lunch at her school!

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We didn’t do a whole lot, but we didn’t need to. We were all just happy to be together. The kids always love their Griffin time!

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This visit was just what we needed and we are so grateful they came. We’ll have more family visits coming up in September so this helped us get through until then!

Brax’s School Open House

Our boy finally gets to start his school year soon! He will be in the Pre-K3 class at the same school he and Kinsie attended last year. He recently had his “Meet the Teacher Open House” and he was so excited to see his classroom and meet his new teacher. I think he is going to have a great year!

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And that’s a wrap for our August. Our favorite time of the year is approaching! We absolutely love fall. Kinsie’s birthday is coming up, and then all of our favorite fall activities in October, and also a short trip to Indiana for a family wedding, followed by a trip to Orlando! Lots of exciting things coming up so stay tuned!

Here is our August 1 Second Everyday video.

Enjoying the ‘Rays in May

May was SO busy! When I think back to the beginning of the month, it seems like it was 3 months ago. May always tends to be one of the busier months of the year with the end of school and all the programs and activities that go with it, the end of sports seasons, etc…but we loved every minute of it! Here is how our May went down…

Brax’s Birthday

I’m still in denial that my baby is three. And the crazy thing is that ever since he turned three, he’s acted older. He talks like he’s older, his fine motor skills and agility have taken off, and his behavior has improved (for now). Our special boy deserved a special birthday!

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His birthday started off with surprise donuts from Dad. Ryan had been on a string of night shifts, and he stopped by the famous Hurts Donuts in Little Rock on his way home from work to surprise Brax!

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Next, Brax got to spend part of his birthday with his teacher and friends at school. We sent cupcakes and Avengers napkins for them to enjoy.

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After school, we let him open a few presents. He loved his shark tent and chair from his cousins, his talking Hulk from Papa and Yaya, and his robot from us!

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Next, we took him to his favorite restaurant for dinner, All Aboard. Every time we go, the kids get so excited to watch the train deliver food for everyone.

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After dinner, we came back home for birthday treats. He was grinning from ear to ear as we sang to him, and loved every bite of his blue birthday cookies!

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Brax’s Birthday Party

We decided to have a mini-party for Brax when some family came to visit for Kinsie’s Pre-K graduation. We decorated the kitchen in Avengers decor, with a special banner made by none other than Aunt Megan (this banner now hands in his room!) We ate burgers and cake, opened more presents, and dressed in superhero masks and tattoos. It was a great night!

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Kinsie’s Ballet Recital

Kinsie has been loving her ballet class this year. The season ended with a special performance to show off all the skills they learned throughout the year. Kinsie did a fantastic job and loved getting to perform on stage!

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Mother’s Day

Ryan has been in the MICU this month, which is one of the toughest rotations in residency. He works extra long hours and gets fewer days off. I was really bummed to learn that he was going to have to work a 24 hour shift on Mother’s Day this year, and he wasn’t able to change it. I was bummed, but we did our best to work around it. We went out for a sushi dinner the night before, and then some residency friends took the kids and I out for a Mother’s Day lunch after church. After that, I spent the entire day at the park with my little loves. The weather was perfect and we actually had a great day together.

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In between our activities, I had a special delivery from Ryan. He sent me some flowers (which could be planted in the yard of course…we’re not big on spending money on flowers that will die a few days later!) and some treats. It made my day that he was still thinking about me even though he couldn’t spend the day with me.

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The kids definitely made me feel extra loved on Mother’s Day!

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Kinsie’s Graduation

I can’t believe my big girl graduated from preschool and she’ll be starting Kindergarten in the fall! I have no doubt in my mind that she’s ready, and she’s SO excited! She wants to be a teacher like her mama when she grows up, and she has LOVED every second of her schooling experience so far. I know she’ll do great in elementary school!

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Again, it wasn’t the best month for Ryan. Last month, he was selected as Chief Resident of his program, which we were very excited about! However, this required him to go to an out-of-state conference the same week as Kinsie’s graduation. As soon as I knew he wouldn’t be able to come, I recruited some family to come for her special day. I know I’ve said it before, but we the BEST family in the world. My mom, Ryan’s mom, Megan, Nate and Griffin all came. Kinsie loved having so many people come for her graduation, and I know it helped her not be too sad about her daddy missing it. But we took lots of videos for him to watch when he returned!

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Family Visit

We loved having some family visit us for a few days. The weather was beautiful, so we spent a lot of time outside at the park.

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One day when Kinsie was at school, Brax helped both of his grandmas do some gardening in the front yard. He loved helping!

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And cousin pool parties are always a good idea! Griffin loved his first pool experience and the kids loved sharing it with him.

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Last Day of School

The kids had a wonderful school year. They both grew and learned so much. Brax especially did amazing for his first school experience. He adored his teacher and loved meeting new friends!

Kinsie’s first and last day of school…

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Brax’s first and last day of school…

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And together…

LastDaySchool-bothKinsie definitely grew this year! She is much taller and no longer has a baby face, but is developing into a beautiful little girl. Brax doesn’t look a ton different, but you can tell he looks a little taller and slimmer!

The kids had the BEST teachers this year. Mrs. Lina was Brax’s teacher, and she was the sweetest, most patient and kind teacher, which was perfect for him in his first year. Brax started out the year very shy and wouldn’t talk much to her, but he ended the year hugging on her, and running around acting like his silly self at school. Kinsie’s teacher, Mrs. Suze was also perfect for her this year. She really helped Kinsie mature, and prepare for Kindergarten. She did tons of creative projects with higher-level thinking, which is perfect for my imaginative little girl. Of course, my passionate and emotional Kinsie Kay bawled like a baby when she had to say goodbye to her teachers and preschool! It broke my heart, but also made me happy that she loves school so much.

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Last Day of T-Ball

Kinsie wrapped up her last season of T-ball. She had a great experience and a great coach for both seasons she played. If she decides to continue, she will play softball in the fall. She had a great season and we loved watching her!

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Brax’s First Dentist Appointment

My big boy had his first dentist appointment recently. When we first got there, he was a little nervous and wouldn’t look or interact with the hygienist. However, she was so great with him and took lots of time talking to him, and showing him all her tools so he would become more comfortable. By the end, he was giggling and talking to her like he knew her all along. And of course, Kinsie was the best supportive big sis, holding Brax’s hand and showing him how to open wide!

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LOTS of Art Projects

Kinsie has loved art for a while now, but now she is sharing that love with her little brother. Brax has taken a huge interest in drawing lately. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he spends at least 2-3 hours a day drawing. And he has gotten really good!

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The kids each have a sketchpad and some markers that I keep in the car for them. I am amazed at the creations they draw in such a short amount of time. The pictures below include Kinsie’s drawing of an eagle, and a mermaid castle.

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I just can’t get enough of Brax;s little concentration face (which is the SAME as his daddy’s), and his precious little drawings. He has come a long way drawing people and animals. Right now he especially loves drawing smiley faces and jelly fish.

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Kinsie’s imagination has been off the charts lately. Her new favorite thing to do is draw pictures and tape them to popsicle sticks and put on “puppet shows.” We love her imagination and love how she shares it with Brax.

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Outside Adventures

The first couple weeks of May brought lots and lots of rain. So much so, that there is severe flooding in many parts of Little Rock. The flooding isn’t directly affecting us luckily, but we had many umbrella and rain boot days during that timespan!

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The second half of May has brought much better weather. The summer heat is here and the upper 80-90 degree temps often starts as early as 8 a.m. each day. If we happen to have a day where it’s only in the 70s, we venture to the park.

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Most days lately, we’ve been in our bathing suits playing with the sprinkler, water table and baby inflatable pool. Believe it or not, the kids have so much fun in this tiny pool. And popsicles don’t hurt either!

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Sprinkler fun!

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We’ve had lots of critters around the house lately. We’ve seen multiple lizards, and even a snake in our yard. Ryan caught the snake and put it in a bucket for the kids to look at, of course. No worries…he’s working on a fellowship in wilderness medicine and knew that the snake was non-venomous. That didn’t stop me from staying as far away as possible though! The snake appeared in our yard twice, and after that Ryan walked it down the path a ways so that it hopefully found a new home!

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We recently upgraded the kids’ inflatable pool to a bigger size and they have been loving it! No joke, I’ve spent about 3-4 hours a day outside with them while they play in their pool!

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Day Adventures

Library

The kids love the library. Even though our library is small and doesn’t have many activities, they love picking out endless stacks books to read together.

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Behind the library, there is a nice deck area where you can walk around the pond. The kids and I ventured out there and had a blast. We made friends with a swan and several ducks. The kids love finding nature outside, and they could have stayed watching those birds for hours.

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Chick-fil-A and Sonic

We don’t do this as often as the kids would like, mainly because we can’t afford to eat Chick-fil-A every day, but every so often we do have lunch dates there and spend some time playing. The kids always love it. We’ve also discovered Sonic’s happy hour. It’s been a fun little afternoon activity to get the kids out of the house and enjoy some slushies on our hot days.

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Kiddie City

This is a new place in our town that I’ve been wanting to try. We spent the morning there one day and the kids were obsessed. It was perfect for their age, with tons of play fixtures, slides, play kitchens, dress-up, and more. The kids have been asking every day when we can go again!

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Family Trip to Memphis

Ever since we’ve moved here, we’ve been wanting to go to Memphis, mainly because they have hippos at their zoo. It’s only about a 2 hour drive, so we knew we could take a day trip there. However, Ryan had a short 1.5 day stretch after Memorial weekend, so we decided to make it an overnight trip. We drove to Memphis in the afternoon when he got off work, and spent the night.

The afternoon we got there, we went to the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid. We love Bass Pro anyway, so going to this unique one was a cool experience.

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The next morning, we woke up and headed to the zoo. We had such a great time. It was hot, but it didn’t get unbearable until it was almost time to leave. We got to see the hippos, which wouldn’t get as close and put on a show for us like Fiona does at the Cincinnati Zoo, but we still loved seeing them! We also loved the gorillas, the polar bear, feeding the stingrays, and the camel ride!

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Another highlight was the bird house. Anytime we go to a zoo with this, it’s always one of the kids’ favorite things. They love feeding the birds and having them land on their feeding stick!

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There were also lots of fun interactive activities in between exhibits. The kids loved playing the drums and pretending to hatch out of eggs. It was such a great little family trip, after this long month of Ryan being in the MICU, we definitely needed this quality family time.

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So that was our month. We had a LOT going on, and even though Ryan had to work a lot, we stayed very busy and had lots of fun. We have a lot going on in June as well, and the kids and I will hardly be home! It will be nice to visit our family in Indiana while we have the time off in the summer.

Another exciting event that happened this month was that Ryan signed a contract for Bloomington Hospital starting in August 2020…so we will officially be moving back to our home state of Indiana in about a year! We are so excited, especially to live in Bloomington where we both attended IU. We will definitely miss the home we’ve made here in Little Rock, but we can’t wait to be close to family again and finally SETTLE!

 

Here is our 1 Second Everyday video for the month of May. Enjoy!

Stories of our September

We had a very eventful and refreshing September. After a few months of no activities and extreme heat (thus, us all getting stir crazy and sick of each other), we finally started up our fall activities, and it felt good to become busy again. Not only did school, T-ball, ballet and church activities begin, but we had a nice long week visit in Indiana. Ryan was on his SICU rotation (Surgical Intensive Care Unit), which we knew would be rough. He was working 14 hour shifts with only 4 days off for the whole month. This is part of the reason the kids and I took our trip, because we knew we wouldn’t see much of him anyway. I’m so grateful that his SICU rotation fell on a month where we were busy…if he would have had it during June or July I’m not sure I would have come out alive! We definitely missed him and we’re so glad that he is back in the Emergency Department now, but I’m glad we found ways to get through it.

First Day of School

The kids (and I) were SO excited to start school this year. Kinsie could not wait to get back to the classroom with her friends, and Brax was excited for a new adventure too. Kinsie has loved every moment since she started school. Going 5 days a week has been wonderful for her busy little mind. Brax has done surprisingly well for his first school experience. He still gets a little nervous when I drop him off, and it took a few days of peeling him off of me so I could leave…but other than that, he’s done great. He adores his teacher and seems to like the change of scenery. And I’m not going to lie, I’m enjoying my 2 days a week of kid-free time!

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T-Ball

Kinsie has been excited to start her first season of T-ball. We have practiced with her throughout the summer so she knew what to expect. She’s had 2 practices so far, and games start next month. She has really enjoyed practice, and loves having one of her friends from school on her team. Brax enjoys watching her practice too, but he mainly spends his time chasing bugs and climbing up and down the bleachers!

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Megan’s Baby Shower

As many of you know, my sweet nephew, due at the end of November, was prayed for long before he even existed. Megan and Tim had a long journey of infertility, and we were all in tears of joy when God finally blessed them with a baby boy. Long before Megan was even pregnant, I knew that when the day came, I wanted to throw a baby shower for my sister-in-law. With our current circumstances of us living 500 miles away, I knew it wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but it was going to happen. Months ago, I planned it all out – the kids and I would come visit for a week in September, and that is when we would have the shower. Luckily, the dates worked out for everyone else! I did what I could from a distance, and a few more of Megan’s aunts and cousins helped as well. The shower was a huge success! The decor was amazing, the food was great, and the company was perfect. The kids all enjoyed running amok and helping with the shower games, and we all loved spoiling sweet Megan and baby Mosier.

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Babyshower

Cincinnati Zoo

We used to go to the Cincinnati Zoo pretty often, mainly since they opened the Hippo Cove. In January 2017, the baby hippo Fiona was born premature. Because of this, it took longer than expected for baby Fiona to be displayed in the Hippo Cove with her parents. By the time she was big and healthy enough, we moved to Arkansas, so we weren’t able to see her in person. Kinsie has always followed Fiona’s story, and loves seeing pictures and videos of her. She even has a calendar and several books about her. When I found out we would be in Indiana for a week, I really wanted to make it happen to take Kinsie to finally meet Fiona. Grandma Bev and Aunt Megan tagged along, even though it was supposed to rain all day! However, a little rain would not stop my girl from meeting the baby hippo she’s been dying to meet for so long!

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We started our day at the Hippo Cove, and spent over an hour there. Luckily, the area was covered, so we escaped the rain for a bit. We LOVED meeting sweet Fiona! She was so active and energetic. She was swimming back and forth and doing flips everywhere. Kinsie was in heaven! Both kids followed her and her mom Bibi back and forth across the Hippo Cove and loved every minute of it!

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After spending the morning with Fiona and Bibi, we explored the rest of the zoo. Luckily, the rained eventually stopped and it turned out to be great weather. The morning rain kept the crowds away, so it was much more pleasant than usual. We especially loved the manatees, elephants, giraffes and gorillas. It was a long day, but completely worth it!

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The Lion King

While we were in Indiana, The Lion King Broadway show was playing in Indianapolis. My parents took my sister and I in New York when we were younger, and it was incredible. We really wanted the chance to share this experience with our kids. My mom, sister and I took the 3 older kids to the show. It was even better than I remember, and the kids absolutely loved it! We had a wonderful night and all 3 kids were zonked out by the time we got home!

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Kinsie’s Birthday Adventures

We were a little bummed that Kinsie’s birthday fell on the same month that Ryan had his SICU rotation, but we used it as an opportunity for her to spend her birthday with our family in Indiana. Kinsie had a very busy and fun 5th birthday…

We started our day with traditional birthday donuts. Since we had just seen the Lion King the night before, Grandma Bev had Brax overnight, so we took advantage and had a much needed Kinsie and Mommy morning date!

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Kinsie wanted breakfast food for her birthday lunch, so we went to Bob Evans and invited some of her favorite people. We had an awesome lunch with balloons, a mini cake and piggy pancakes.

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The town that my sister lives in had their homecoming parade that day, so I brought the kids to the parade with their cousins. They had a blast catching candy and Brax mainly pointed and laughed at all the floats and high school students dressed up like jungle animals.

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We ended the night with a birthday dinner at Yaya’s. Kinsie especially loved playing her new Hatchimals board game and painting her new unicorn molds with her cousins.

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Kinsie’s Magical Birthday Party

On our last day in Indiana, we had a unicorn-themed birthday party at Ryan’s Aunt Rita’s house. It was simple…just grandparents, a few aunts and uncles, and cousins. That’s all she needed! Like usual, I had a wonderful tribe helping me with the details! The decorations, cake, and cookies were perfect!

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The kids had a blast running around on the swing set, riding bikes and motorized jeeps, opening presents, and hitting the piñata.

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Kinsie was one happy little unicorn girl. Since Ryan was on such a tough rotation, he wasn’t able to make it to Indiana at all this trip like he was able to last year. We really missed him, but we made sure we included him while we sang happy birthday to our girl.

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Grandparents Day at School

I literally could not have done the trip to Indiana without my amazing mother-in-law and my mom. Bev flew to Little Rock a few days before our trip and helped us drive to Indiana. Then my mom helped us drive back and stayed for a few days before flying back to Indiana. We are so lucky to have families who are so willing to help us!

The timing worked out perfectly, because my mom was able to be here for the kids’ school Grandparents Day. They both LOVED having Yaya at their school! They got extremely attached to Yaya while she was here, and we were very sad to see her go…but luckily we get to see her again in 2 weeks (trip to Florida coming up…stay tuned!)

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Family Time

We didn’t get very much of it during SICU…so any family time we got was a highlight. On Ryan’s few days off, or just in his 1/2 hour to 1 hour time spans we had with him on the days he worked, we squeezed in some quality time together. Whether it was a morning of fishing, watching a quarter of the first Colts game or a quick game of Kinsie’s Hatchimals board game, we just were happy to have Ryan home!

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Family-fishing

Again, I am so grateful for how busy we stayed this month. We really missed Ryan and hated barely getting to see him. However, I’m glad we used it as an opportunity to visit family. Since we won’t be able to take the kids out of school for a week at a time next year since Kinsie will be in Kindergarten, we are taking full advantage of her last year of Pre-K. We are really looking forward to the next few months since we have trips planned and holidays. The end of the year months are the best because we know we get to see family often. Having things to look forward to help us get through the tough days!

Enjoy our September 1 Second Everyday video!