Branson Vacation

Every 2 years, Ryan’s family takes a vacation to Branson, Missouri. When Kinsie was less than a year old, we got to go, but we didn’t get to 2 years ago due to Ryan’s med school schedule. We were so excited that we were able to go again this year, especially since its only 3 hours away from Little Rock, and we knew the kids were at perfect ages to enjoy all the fun things to do there. Ryan was able to use one of his weeks of vacation for the trip, which was much needed after last month. We had an awesome trip and had made some wonderful memories.

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Much like Little Rock, it was VERY hot the whole week in Branson, but we still made it work and found lots of fun things to do. Here are the highlights from the trip…

Promised Land Zoo

This was one of our favorite things we did last time we came. There are 2 parts to this zoo, a walk-through and a drive-through. At both, you get up close and personal with lots of animals, and get to feed many of them. Even as a baby, Kinsie has always loved animals, and she loved feeding the animals at the zoo, and sticking her head out the window as we drive around while animals came up to our car windows. Brax has developed that same love for animals, so this time we had 2 very happy children! We planned the walk-through part right because we got there right when it opened, before it got too hot outside. We loved walking around petting and feeding birds, kangaroos, camels and more. Then we had lunch, and drove to the drive-through zoo. At first the kids (and myself) weren’t so sure about emus coming right up to the car, but we eventually became friends and the kids loved it! Such a fun day!

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Table Rock Lake

We rented a pontoon boat for 2 days at Table Rock Lake. We spent all day on the water, only stopping at small restaurants on the water with decks to eat lunch. Since it was so hot, we spent a considerable amount of time just lounging in the water. Kinsie has become much more comfortable in the water this summer, and she was a little fish swimming all over the lake. Brax loved it too, and even took a nap on the boat (this is almost unheard of for him!) We love spending days on the lake!

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Pool Days

The village that Ryan’s parents have their time share is perfect for kids. They have an awesome pool area with an amazing kids section. As soon as we got to the village on the first day, the kids were dying to play in the pool area. Again, with the heat, we didn’t mind a few pool days. The kids had a BLAST. The entire kids area is extremely shallow, so it was perfect for them to run around in!

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Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium

There is a new aquarium in Springfield, MO, which was about an hour away from Branson. We needed at least a day doing something indoors, and this was the perfect option. It was amazing! The building had an aquarium section, and a museum section, and we only did the aquarium side and just that took us over 3 hours to see everything. Some of the highlights were feeding the stingrays, and drawing a sea creature and scanning it to see it come to life on a large projector screen…so cool!

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St. Louis Zoo

The kids and I rode back to Indiana with Ryan’s family to stay for a week after Branson (Ryan had to work, so he drove back to Little Rock). St. Louis is about halfway between Branson and Indianapolis, and they have a great (free) zoo (with hippos)! We stopped for a couple hours just to see some of the kids’ favorites. It was EXTREMELY humid, almost so much that it was hard to enjoy, but Kinsie doesn’t get to see hippos everyday, so we persisted! They loved the animals we got to see, including hippos, gorillas, elephants, penguins, and bears. It was definitely worth the stop!

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We had such a great week, and it was so nice having Ryan for a week. The kids LOVE whenever he has time off, and they are always ALL about him! We are so grateful to his family to letting us be a part of such a great trip!

 

Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot in June

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

Here is a recap of our June…

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo! Brax is Two!

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

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

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These sweet cousins were inseparable the whole party

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

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

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Outdoor fun

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

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

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Relief from the heat

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

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Our anniversary

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

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Kinsie starts ballet

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

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Savoring Daddy time

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

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

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Wonder Place

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

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Craving family

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

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Sweet cousin love

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Swimming fun

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Ready for fireworks at the lake!

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Having a blast swimming in the lake!

 

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

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

The Merry Month of May

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

Brax’s Birthday

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

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Family Fishing

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

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Mother’s Day

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

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Downtown Fun

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

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Family Park Days

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

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

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GreekFest

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

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Kinsie’s Last Day of School

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

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

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Other Outside Fun

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

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

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Residency Crawfish Boil

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

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Memorial Weekend

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

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

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Road Trip to Indiana

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

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Exciting News!

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

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

August Adventures

We are continuing to make strides in the process of getting settled in our new home in Little Rock. Some days are easier than others for sure, but we are making the best of it. This month, Ryan worked mostly evening or night shifts…so he would either work from 3pm-1am or 9pm-7am. This was harder on me than I expected. We were on complete opposite schedules. We would see him for about 30 minutes in the morning before he went to sleep, and for maybe 2 hours in the evening between him waking up and going back to work. We are always grateful for the time we have with him, but its hard putting the kids to bed by myself on evening shift nights, and going to bed alone every night. Once the kids went to bed was usually the time that we finally got to relax and enjoy each other’s company without children climbing all over us and demanding our attention. Even though we barely spent any time together this month, we found creative ways of showing each other love!

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I went through a funk this month because of all the time I spent alone, but I also was reminded to rely on my faith to get through difficult times. Throughout the last couple of weeks, I can feel Jesus working on my heart and helping me become more content in my circumstances.

It is still pretty darn humid here in Arkansas, so we’ve continued to try to stay busy and cool this month! Ryan had about one day a week off, so we would always try to do something fun as a family on those days. Here are some of the things we did this past month!

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

The Library system in Central Arkansas has a program called “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” I entered Kinsie into this program since she loves reading and I’m trying to teach her about setting goals. We started the program at the end of July, and she has already hit the 200 mark! Every time she fills a sheet, she gets so excited to turn it in and get her next sticker!

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Staying Home

Let’s face it…sometimes it’s just easier to stay home. We still try to get out of the house at least once a day for all of our sanity, but honestly, the kids are usually pretty content to stay home and play!

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Play dough fun…Brax was upset that he couldn’t eat it at first, but he got over it!

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Playing in the fort that Daddy helped them build

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Chocolate pudding night!

Play Dates and Outings

About once a week, we’ve been getting together with some of the other residents’ wives and kids for a play date. I have gotten pretty close with a few of them, and I am so grateful that they include me every time they go out. This has helped my sanity being with other adults throughout the day, and the kids love having other kids to play with. This has also helped us get out and about more and find new places to explore.

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Play places and crafts

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“Baking” at the Children’s Library

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Donut date with mom!

Outside Play

We haven’t gotten out as much as we all would have liked because of the heat, but it’s slowly getting better. Whenever we find a day that we can actually breathe outside, we take advantage! We found the cutest little play house for a bargain at Walmart, so the kids have been all about that lately. We also love making our way to the park by our house whenever we can.

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Pinnacle Mountain State Park Nature Center

Pinnacle Mountain was one of our favorite things about Little Rock when Ryan and I first visited. We haven’t taken the kids up the mountain yet since its been too hot, but someday we definitely want to. Every time we drive and see the mountain, Kinsie tells us she wants to hike up the mountain! In the mean time, we just visit the Nature Center there. On one of Ryan’s days off, they were having special presentations and activities dealing with amphibians and reptiles, some of Kinsie’s faves. The kids loved the view and learning about animals.

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Having S’more Fun!

Kinsie has been asking to do s’mores for MONTHS now. We had a small fire pit at the old house but didn’t bring it with us, so we had to find a new one for a good deal first. Once we found one, and bought some firewood, we had to wait for an evening that Ryan was off. For the longest time, every time he had an evening off, it was pouring down rain. We FINALLY got the opportunity and the kids were pumped! Kinsie bought a new shirt at Bass Pro Shops that says “Have S’more Fun,” so she couldn’t wait to make s’mores with her new shirt. The kids “helped” make the fire, and then got busy roasting marshmallows. Brax was OBSESSED with the fire…so much so that one of us had to hold him to keep him away from the fire THE WHOLE TIME. Once he shared a s’more with dad though, he was good!

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Solar Eclipse Day

Ryan has been excited about this day for far too long! My science nerd husband bought the glasses and special solar binoculars months ago. He was THRILLED to learn that he had that day off…the odds were definitely in his favor! We went to the Big Dam Bridge for the event. Brax obviously didn’t know what was going on, but he had fun running around the bridge. Kinsie thought it was pretty cool and loved looking at the eclipse with her glasses. I brought toys and books for the kids to keep them entertained while we were there and even though it cut into Brax’s nap time, it was well worth it and the kids did great! It was such a neat experience for all of us!

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Little Rock Zoo

Ryan had a couple days off last week before starting his next rotation, so we spent a day at the zoo. The weather was surprisingly perfect. The kids especially loved the gorillas, the elephants, the train ride, the petting zoo and the penguins. We had a great family day!

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First Soccer Practice

Kinsie had her first soccer practice this week, and it was….interesting I guess? Kinsie said she had fun, but practice was run very differently than what we are used to. They had ALL the kids in her age level in the same practice with only 2 coaches. Eventually they split the kids up and did a few drills and a scrimmage and once they did that, Kinsie was in her element. Ryan just started his very busy rotation and is working 12-14 hour shifts, so I had both kids at practice and was trying to help Kinsie know what to do amidst the chaos, and chase after Brax at the same time! It was chaotic, and a bit stressful, and I am hoping the organization of practices improves. Kinsie still had fun and played well, so I guess that’s all that matters. I am hopeful that she’ll meet some friends and enjoy her soccer season like she has in the past!

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That was our month in a nut shell. Kinsie starts preschool after Labor Day, so that will be exciting and should keep us busy. She’s super excited to start school, and I am very hopeful that we will love the preschool we picked out. Ryan just started a tough rotation, so we won’t be seeing much of him again. The last two weeks of September, the kids and I will fly to Indiana for a couple of weeks and spend Kinsie’s birthday with our families. I am aching to see our families again…that is by far the hardest part about being here. From seeing them several times a week to every other month or less has been very difficult. This two weeks at home will be good for all of us and we are all looking forward to it. Like I said before, we are slowly making progress with this adjustment. God is helping me through my own personal challenges with this big change, and I can feel him working on my heart every day. I am hopeful that time will help us continue to adjust.

Scorching Summer Days in July

We have survived our first full month living in the south, and MY GOODNESS is it hot here! I honestly wasn’t expecting the intensity of this heat when we moved…I assumed it would be similar to Indiana since the humidity there is difficult to bare in the summer too. Indiana’s heat has NOTHING on Arkansas! Believe it or not, our bodies are adjusting. As long as our air conditioning is working, (which is wasn’t for a full day, could have been longer if I hadn’t kept bugging AC companies…but it was a very long and hot 24 hours), then we are able to find ways to keep busy and cool. Ryan finished his orientation month at the hospital, and is now is working mostly night shifts, but we take advantage of the time we have with him to still get out and find fun things to do as a family. We had visitors, and a trip to Chicago during July as well. Enjoy the highlights of our month!

Little Rock Zoo

Early in the month, we took the kids to their first trip to the Little Rock Zoo. We only had one opportunity to go with Ryan’s work schedule, so we decided to go rain or shine. Well, it rained…pretty hard for about 30 minutes. The kids were troopers with their umbrellas, and we did all the indoor activities for a while until the rain stopped. Once it did, it was perfect! The temperature was perfect, the animals were active and there were no crowds. We all loved it!

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4th of July

Luckily, Ryan did not have to work on the 4th of July, so we had him all day and night for 4th of July fun. This was CRUCIAL because this started out as a rough day for me. We always spent this day with both of our families, and it was killing me that we weren’t at the lake with them like we were every year before this. However, the four of us had each other, and we ended up having a really great day. The town we live in has a 4th of July parade and some activities by the lake that is right by our house. The kids absolutely loved the parade! After dinner, we took the wagon down to the lake where there were bounce houses, food vendors, a band, and fireworks. We all had such a great time. The kids were SO happy and absolutely loved every second of it…especially the fireworks. Brax laughed hysterically throughout the entire firework show. It was such a great family day and night that we will never forget!

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Outside Play

Some days, we just couldn’t do it. Even Kinsie, who LOVES being outside, often wants to stay inside because of the heat. However, most days we need to get out of the house, so if we do, we find ways to stay cool. There have been a lot of water table, sprinkler, pool and splash pad days throughout the last month. We have done a few wagon rides and days at the park, but we try to keep those trips earlier in the day before the heat hits us hard!

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A Visit from Cousins

We were SO excited to have my parents and my sister’s family come visit us this month! Kinsie and Brax were absolutely giddy. During their visit, we went to the Farmer’s Market downtown, played at the rock park and the splash pad, went fishing, and got family pictures taken at the lake. It was so refreshing to spend time with my people again. The kids all had so much fun together and made many wonderful memories!

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Kinsie visits Indiana

After my family visited, Kinsie rode back to Indiana with my parents and spent the week with Grandma Bev. Of course she didn’t object since she hadn’t seen her in a month! We would head to Chicago for a wedding the next weekend anyway, so it worked out perfectly.  Kinsie had an awesome week back at home! She went shopping, played at the park with some of her cousins, had a cousin sleepover, and went to the fair. Ryan, Brax and I missed her like crazy, but we loved seeing how much fun she was having and knew our families needed it!

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Chicago Wedding

Our very good hometown friend Eric got married in Chicago this month! Ryan was a groomsman and Kinsie was the flower girl. Kinsie went to Chicago on Friday with Bev and had a great time at the rehearsal dinner. Ryan had to work until Friday afternoon, so he and I drove from Little Rock to Chicago once he got off work. We arrived in Chicago around 3:30am on Saturday morning. Although we were running on little sleep, we had a great trip! We spent the whole day before the wedding primping Kinsie for the wedding. I curled her hair and painted her nails…she loved it! She was an absolute ROCKSTAR at the wedding. I had so many people tell me how great did she and how beautiful she looked. She and the ring bearer were the only kids at the wedding, so they bonded. Kinsie adored him, and he was so sweet to her! In between the wedding and the reception, Bev and Tim walked around the Lincoln Park Zoo (where the wedding was held) with them. Once the dancing at the reception started, we couldn’t get our little party animal to stop! She had so much fun twirling around, tossing her flowers up in the air, taking pictures in the photo booth and dancing with everyone. It was a beautiful wedding and we all had a wonderful time. We flew back to Little Rock the next morning. Thankfully, Aunt Renata and Dean drove down to Arkansas to visit us during this time and stayed at our house to watch Brax and the dogs while we were gone. This helped us SO much to not have to travel with a one year old when he wasn’t even going to the wedding. Once we got back, Brax and Kinsie were so happy to be reunited after a long week apart!

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Family Fishing

One morning, we took the kids down to the lake to go fishing. We all had the best time and did pretty well! Kinsie caught 2 small blue gill, I caught 2 catfish and Ryan caught a big bass. The kids loved playing with all the fish and chasing each other around the dock. We will definitely have many more family fishing trips in our future here!

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Other Random Fun

When the heat is too much, we have to find indoor activities to do. We’ve gone to Walmart or Target and wandered around playing with all the toys, made cookies, gone to the library, and met up with other residents’ wives and kids for playdates about once a week.

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Also, a big milestone happened this month…Brax is finally walking! He was an early crawler, so we figured he would start walking before he turned one. This was not the case…in fact he was completely uninterested in walking for months. Finally around the beginning of July, he would randomly get up and take a few steps without being prompted. Whenever we tried to get him to walk, he wouldn’t do it…only when he thought nobody was looking. This video was when he finally started taking more steps at a time, but if you saw him now, you’d think he’d been walking for months! He is EVERYWHERE now! He barely ever sits down. He even walks around while drinking his milk before bed or while having a snack. Once he started, he never wanted to stop!

So, it was actually a pretty busy month! We are starting to get comfortable here and it is feeling more and more like home. It is still so hard being away from everything and everyone that was so familiar to us in Indiana. We take it day by day and try to stay busy and explore and meet people as often as we can. We are learning not only to accept our new life here, but to embrace it. We still have rough days no doubt, but we are having less of them as time goes on.

Let the Adventure Begin!

The journey to Little Rock that we’ve been anticipating for months now is in full swing. We spent countless hours physically and mentally preparing for this change, and while the physical move is complete, we are still working on the mental and emotional part of being in a new place. But I’ll back up for a minute and talk about the whole moving process…

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The kids have been absolute champs throughout this process. It definitely wasn’t easy trying to pack an entire house with two little ones, so they made the process pretty interesting. They loved playing with boxes and playing hide and seek on the truck!

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While we spent the majority of our time packing, we had to take breaks here and there to entertain the kids, and to keep our sanity!

Brax’s First Haircut

One of our packing breaks consisted of Brax’s first haircut. We really wanted to get his hair cut before we moved, mainly so that Ryan’s cousin Jess could be the one to do it. Kinsie got hers cut too, and she loved being a role model for Brax so he wouldn’t be scared. He was still a little nervous, but he did great!

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Trip to the Zoo

We definitely could not have gotten through the moving process without the help of our families. Not only did they help us pack, load the truck, unpack, and more…they took turns watching the kids so that Ryan and I could actually have productive packing time. This was probably the most helpful thing anyone could do because we got SO much done when the kids weren’t there. Grandma Bev and Aunt Megan took the kids to the zoo one day and met up with some of their cousins, and they had an absolute blast!

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Family Hike

Ryan and I also wanted to do some family activities when we weren’t packing, so we decided to go on a family hike at Eagle Creek Park. We had so much fun, and saw lots of fun things like raccoons, frogs, turtles, snakes and fish. It was much-needed quality family time!

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Summer Cousin Fun

The kids absolutely adore all of their cousins, so we tried to fit in as much cousin time as possible before we left. They got to swim, play in sprinklers, go to birthday parties, and more. This was really important to me that they weren’t missing out on summer fun through the chaos of moving.

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Full House

We were SO grateful that my parents, Ryan’s parents, and Ryan’s siblings drove all the way down to Arkansas to help us move. And they were all SO helpful. My parents drove with me and the kids…which was crucial to help me entertain my 2 energetic toddlers through a 10 hour car ride, Ryan and Nate drove the UHAUL, Megan and her husband Tim drove Ryan’s truck, which included a trailer, the fish tank, all the fish, AND our 2 dogs, and Bev and Tim drove the next day once Tim came home from a work trip. They all stayed for about 5 days, and it is unbelievable the amount we accomplished in that time. We unloaded everything, unpacked and organized almost everything, stripped the wallpaper in the kitchen and bathroom, then painted the kitchen and bathroom, all while helping entertain the kids! We also did a little exploring of the town during our breaks too. They were all troopers sitting on the floor to eat meals, and sleeping in sleeping bags and air mattresses, and helping us with tasks that weren’t necessarily fun or easy. (Just ask Megan and Nate about their experience stripping the wallpaper in the bathroom!) I can’t even explain how grateful I am for all the help we got from the people we love!

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Stripping wallpaper, eating on the floor and snacks in the playpen…oh, the joys of moving!

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Our Father’s Day consisted of another chaotic day of moving! At least this guy is so laid back that all he cared about was spending time with his babies on his special day!

 

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The kids are loving their new rooms, and especially their new playroom!

 

Exploring Arkansas

In between unpacking, we’ve tried to spend time exploring our new home. Ryan was in full swing of his orientation month, so he was often gone all day, so the kids and I would explore alone as much as I felt comfortable. We have a little park and lake very close to our house, so we have spent a lot of time there. However, it has been VERY hot and humid here this summer, so we’ve also had to be creative on ways to keep cool.

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Loving our time at Lake Willastein!

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Walking on the Big Dam Bridge…one of our favorite spots in Little Rock

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Lots of outside fun…trying to keep cool!

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Watching the ducks at the lake

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Strolling through the neighborhood is a daily activity!

Kinsie and I have done some special projects together since we’ve been here too. While Brax is napping, we try to find little crafts or projects to do together. We painted, made colored ice, made super slime, and made cookies!

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Our month of June was SO busy, but very exciting with a huge life change that we are still adjusting to. Ryan just started his official EM shifts, and he is absolutely loving it. The kids and I are getting used to our new home and trying to meet people and find our niche here. It definitely isn’t easy, and we have had some very difficult days in the last 2 weeks. Kinsie and I have cried together because we miss our families so much. The kids are both dealing with the changes in their own way, but overall they have been wonderful and my saving grace since Ryan is often not around. The kids have kept me busy, and have forced me to get out of my comfort zone and explore and try to meet people. Our roots were so deep in Indiana since I lived there my entire life, so completely uprooting and relocating somewhere unfamiliar has been extremely challenging. However, I LOVE the area we are in. Our neighbors are fantastic and welcoming, and we have met some families through Ryan’s residency that have been very helpful as well, so we are slowly getting there! Deep down, I have known since we visited in February that this is where we were meant to be. When we visited, I had an inner peace about being here that could have only come from God, so I know it isn’t a mistake that we are here, and I know it will all be ok. With the support of God, our families, and the community we are building here in Arkansas, we will make it through and thrive on this journey.

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Our old house and our new house…

I moved in to our house in Indiana with Ryan when we got married in June 2012, and it was a perfect little house for a newly married couple. We lived comfortably there just the two of us and the dogs, then eventually added 2 babies into the mix, and filled the house (literally) with toys and memories. That house will always have a special place in my heart, but we were definitely ready to move on! We LOVE our new house, and don’t know what to do with all the space! I will post more pictures of the house once we make a few more updates. Stay tuned to continue following our adventures in our new home!

Highlights of our Summer

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

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

Family Reunion at the Dunes

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

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Anniversary Fishing

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

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Field Trip to the Fish Farm

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

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Time at the Lake

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

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4th of July Parade

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

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Movies, bowling, and more

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

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Swimming

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

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Other Outside Fun

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

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