A November to Remember

Where did November go? I feel like it flew by! We have been having beautiful weather here in Arkansas, so it doesn’t even feel like it’s getting close to winter yet (sorry to rub it in your faces Indiana friends!) This month we enjoyed a visit from some family, lots of Thanksgiving festivities, and preparing for Christmas! Enjoy our November recap!

Grandparent’s Day

As SOON as I knew when Kinsie’s school had Grandparents Day, I let both sets of our parents know and hoped that at least one of them could plan a trip to make it. I really didn’t want Kinsie to be the only one in her class who didn’t have a grandparent there. It worked out for Ryan’s mom and aunt to make a trip to see us for a few days. Aunt Renata is practically a grandma to the kids, so she willingly stepped in. We always love having visitors at our home, and Kinsie loved having them visit her school.

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Decorating for Christmas

Decorating for Christmas always makes us so happy! The kids LOVE all the decorations, lights, and ornaments. Before you judge me too harshly for decorating before Thanksgiving, hear me out on our reasoning. 1) We would be headed to Indiana for Thanksgiving and wouldn’t have been able to decorate until December, 2) Our days with Ryan available are few and far between, and putting up the Christmas tree is a family tradition. We had to take advantage of one of his few days off, 3) We will be spending Christmas in Indiana, and I wanted us all to enjoy our decorations and tree for a worthy amount of time. It made us happy and we always make it a priority to remember the reason for the season, so why not, right?

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We did at least wait to put our outside lights up until after Thanksgiving. Kinsie loved going up in the attic with Daddy. Brax wanted to as well, but that obviously wasn’t happening! We’ve had beautiful weather lately, so the kids enjoyed playing outside and eating popsicles while we put the decorations up.

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My Birthday

We drove to Indiana the evening before my birthday, and I was so glad I got to spend my birthday with all the people I love. We left later in the afternoon, so we were still driving when midnight struck. Of course my sweet mom set her alarm for midnight so she could wish me a happy birthday! I got to spend that evening with my whole family eating chilli and ice cream cake. Birthdays can’t get much better than that! And of course, I had to get a picture with my birthday buddy, my niece Kerigan (her birthday is the day after mine).

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My sister’s birthday present to me was a “sister date” at Board and Brush. We got in touch with our artistic sides and had a great time!birthdaypresent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerigan’s Birthday

Like I said, my niece Kerigan’s birthday is the day after mine, so we’ve always been birthday buddies. Everyone else takes advantage of double birthday cakes! On the night of her birthday, we all went to Kid’s Planet. The kids all loved it!

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A couple days later was Kerigan’s party. She had a princess party, which is right up Kinsie’s alley right now too. Rapunzel (Kinsie and Kerigan’s favorite Disney princess) made a surprise visit and read them a story, danced with them, and spent most of the afternoon talking to all the kids. They loved it! Even though Brax isn’t into princesses, he had fun running amok too!

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Thanksgiving

Before we left Arkansas, Kinsie had a Thanksgiving feast at school. Luckily, we were all able to attend. The kids came out, sang a song, said a prayer, and then joined their families for lunch. Kinsie was a rockstar during the song and followed directions so well. My FAVORITE part, however, was as soon as Kinsie’s class came out, Brax ran up to her and pointed to her and said “Kinsie!!” He was SO excited to see her, even though he had seen her earlier that morning at home. Then once she was done with her presentation and she came to eat with us, they hugged like they hadn’t seen either other in days. They have such a special relationship!

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We spent actual Thanksgiving day with family in Indiana. We started our morning visiting Ryan’s grandma, then we went to Megan’s house for Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan’s dad’s side of the family, then we went to Ryan’s aunt Rita’s house to celebrate with Ryan’s mom’s side, then finally ended up back at my parents to celebrate with my family. It was a LONG day, but we felt so blessed to have so many places to be and so many people to celebrate with.

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Cousin Time

Anytime we visit, the kids’ main request is lots and lots of cousin time! They are all so close and all have a blast together. It doesn’t matter whether they are wrestling on the floor, jumping rope in the garage, coloring, or pushing each other in a laundry basket…they always have fun as long as they’re together!

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Visiting Grandma Graves

Ryan’s grandma has recently been placed on hospice care. While this is extremely difficult for the family, she is very at peace about it and ready to join Jesus in her heavenly home. We were SO lucky to get to visit her several times while we were in town. I say we are so lucky, because Ryan originally didn’t think he’d be able to even make this trip home. However, the week of Thanksgiving happened to be in between two of his rotations, and he was able to schedule all his shifts earlier in the month so that he was able to have a week off. He managed to do this before Grandma Graves declined. It was such a blessing that he had the time off so he could visit with his grandma before she goes home. We loved our visits with her. She loved talking with us, sharing her funny stories, and watching the kids play. She is a gem of a woman…as faithful as they come. She has had several articles published, but my favorite one included this nugget of wisdom, “I’ve never had any money but still I’m richer than the richest because I’ve been blessed with many children and grandchildren.” She is such an amazing woman and she will always inspire me.

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That just about sums up our month. We ended our month with sickness…lots and lots of it. Kinsie started with a bad cold, then Brax got a stomach bug, then I got the stomach bug, then I got the cold, then Brax got the cold, then Kinsie got the stomach bug. Fun times. Not to mention, my mom and my nieces and nephew all got sick too. It has been a very long and exhausting week, and we are so ready to all be completely healthy and back to normal. December will hopefully be filled with lots of Christmas activities and family time. The kids are already anxious for Santa sightings, Christmas lights, and more cousin time!

November Adventures

The fall months always keep us busy! There is always a lot going on with birthdays, holidays and fall activities. Here were the highlights of our month:

Trip to Florida

Ryan is in the midst of residency interview season, so he is raveling around the country interviewing for different Emergency Medicine residency programs. When he got an interview with the University of Florida program in Gainesville, I volunteered to go with him without hesitation! At first we were planning on bringing the kids, but we decided to leave them with our parents and take a trip just the two of us. We hadn’t done this since our Honeymoon, so it was much needed! Since we were going to be in Florida for a few days, we also took the opportunity to visit a place that was on our Bucket List…Harry Potter World in Universal Studios. Ryan and I are both Harry Potter nerds and we have been dying to visit there. It was AMAZING. We spent 2 days there and loved every minute of it. We walked through Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, ate at the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron, bought the Elder Wand, rode the Hogwarts Express, drank butterbeer and much more Harry Potter fun! Our other favorite area of Universal Studios was Jurassic Park. We spent a lot of time in the gift shop buying dinosaur souvenirs for the kids! After two days in Orlando, we drove to Gainesville for the interview. We walked the campus, and hiked through some of the local parks. At a park called La Chua Trail, we saw at least 50 alligators! One of them was blocking the trail so we couldn’t go any further. We loved exploring the beautiful town of Gainesville and we had an amazing trip!

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Jurassic Quest

A month or so ago, Ryan’s cousin saw an ad for a show that was coming to the Indiana State Fairgrounds in November, called Jurassic Quest. She told us we should take Kinsie. We looked into it and decided to buy tickets. It was an awesome experience! We were in a huge warehouse and there were tons of life-size animatronic dinosaurs that moved and roared. Kinsie got to ride on a moving dinosaur, and then Brax joined her on a smaller non-moving dinosaur. There were also bounce houses, crafts, face-painting (which we didn’t do because there was a 2 hour wait!), and arcade games. Kinsie was in heaven! She told us that she never wanted to leave. Of course we eventually did, but both the kids got to bring home a stuffed dinosaur souvenir. They loved it!

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Thanksgiving

This year, my school system changed our calendar, and we had one week off for Fall Break in October, and the whole week of Thanksgiving off. I didn’t like it at first since I only had one week off after the first quarter of school, but I actually loved having Thanksgiving week off. Ryan had the week off too, so we were able to spend a lot of great family time together. Earlier in the week, we got to go to Kinsie’s preschool’s Thanksgiving feast. She made placemats for us in class that included what she was thankful for. It was a lot of fun! Thanksgiving Day itself is always a highlight of our fall because we get to spend the day with both of our families. During the day, we went to Ryan’s sister Megan’s house for Thanksgiving lunch. We got to spend a few hours there with Ryan’s family, and Kinsie always loves going there to run around with their dog, Ali. Later, we went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. The kids had a blast with their cousins and we had some great family time! Later that evening, Kinsie was having a slumber party with her cousins at my parents house, and my poor sweet girl got sick and we had to come and get her. We spent the next few days snuggling at home watching movies and she was feeling better within a few days. Our family tends to have bad luck with holidays…one of us is always sick on either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Fingers crossed that we all stay healthy this Christmas!

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Thanksgiving feast at Kinsie’s preschool

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Thanksgiving lunch at Megan and Tim’s

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All the cousins gathered around the cousin table for Thanksgiving dinner

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Polar Express

This year, we thought that the kids would really enjoy doing the Polar Express train ride. Ryan’s cousin’s kids are about Kinsie’s age and they love hanging out together, so we decided to get tickets for the same train as them. This was such an awesome experience! We all wore Christmas pajamas, rode on the train, drank hot cocoa, and ate cookies. We rode to the “North Pole” and picked up Santa Claus, who rode on the train ride back to the train station and visited with each kid. Kinsie had been talking about Santa SO much and couldn’t wait to see him, then once she did, she was so overwhelmed! She tried to hide behind me but I wouldn’t let her because I knew she wanted to see him. When he sat in the seat with us, she was super shy. (this was exactly how she was at Disney World last year when meeting the characters!) She told Santa what she wanted for Christmas, but very quietly! Of course afterwards, she couldn’t stop talking about how she met Santa! It was a lot of fun and a very neat experience.

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As you can see, it was a great month! Like most parents, we love nothing more than to see our kids happy, so we take them to dinosaur shows and wear ridiculous Rudolph pajamas. Since Ryan is traveling so much, we really do our best to savor our time together as a family and go out and do fun things. We have a lot planned for the month of December as well with a trip to Florida (this time with the kids), and lots of Christmas fun!

A Full Plate on Thanksgiving

We had a very busy Thanksgiving week! Ryan had almost the entire week off, which I was very excited about. Unfortunately, my sweet Aunt Virgie passed away over the weekend, so we had to start our holiday with a trip up to the region for her funeral. My parents went on Tuesday night, and Ryan, Krista, Briggs, Kinsie, Kerigan and I drove up the next day. Ryan Robinson was still in Muncie (yes, my sister’s husband is in Muncie too…I mentioned earlier that we always do things the same!) so he met us up there later when he got off work. The trip with all the kiddos went wonderfully, as all 3 of them slept most of the way. This was the first time Kinsie was meeting my dad’s side of the family…which is a lot of people. They all completely adored her and Kerigan  (how can you not!) Sadly, Aunt Virgie never got to meet the new babies, but she knew about them. The last conversation my dad had with her was to tell her about Kerigan being born. I know she is smiling down on them from heaven!

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My beautiful Aunt Virgie

Early the next morning, we had to get on the road to get back in time for all of our Thanksgiving festivities. I have to admit, I started the day a bit overwhelmed and stressed. We had a lot of places to be that day, which normally is no big deal, but with a 2 month old baby, it makes things a little more hectic. We were supposed to be at Ryan’s aunt’s house at 11am, but after packing all our gear, eating breakfast, feeding and taking care of the baby, we didn’t even leave Portage until 9:30 and still had a 2.5 hour drive. I was stressing out about having such a late start with all the places we needed to be, but after a little reminder from Ryan and my parents, I remembered how blessed we are to even have so many places to be. We are very lucky to be a part of these families with so many wonderful and loving people…so I carried that reminder with me the rest of the day.

Kinsie slept the entire way home, allowing me to nap as well, which I was very grateful for since she kept me up so late after all of the stimulation of meeting my huge Mexican family! As soon as we got home, we ventured to Thanksgiving #1 with Ryan’s dad’s side of the family. We had a great meal and Kinsie got to spend some quality time with her Grandma and Grandpa Matthews and the rest of Ryan’s family. Next was Thanksgiving #2 at Ryan’s other aunt’s house with his mom’s side of the family. Most of this family hadn’t met Kinsie either, so she was quite a hot commodity! Everyone took turns holding and loving on our sweet girl. Finally, we ventured back to my parents house for our final meal of the day, where we spent the rest of the evening with my family and my sister’s in-laws. Overall, Kinsie was a champ the entire day. I was one proud mama! It took several difficult days and nights to get her back on a normal napping and sleeping schedule because of all the stimulation she had in those 2 days, but I was glad that we got to spend Thanksgiving with both of our extended families.

iphone nov_41Laying around with Addie before our Thanksgiving adventures

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Lots of grandparent, aunt and cousin time!

I wasn’t one of the people who listed what they were thankful for throughout the month of November on Facebook, but I definitely have SO much to be thankful for. Rather than sharing it on social media, I just shared it with my loved ones and my Lord. Here are a few that stand out…

  • I am thankful for my amazing husband, Ryan, who supports me and makes me feel loved every single day.
  • I am thankful for my beautiful daughter, Kinsie, who lights up my world and gives my life new meaning.
  • I am thankful for my parents who would do absolutely anything for me.
  • I am thankful for my sister, Krista who has always been and always will be my best friend.
  • I am thankful for my nephew, Briggs, and my niece, Kerigan, who add sunshine to my life.
  • I am thankful for my brother-in-law, Ryan Robinson, who has always embraced every aspect of our family.
  • I am thankful for my husband’s family who have always loved me and welcomed me into their family.
  • I am thankful for my dogs, Koda and Addie, who protect me and keep me company when Ryan is away.
  • I am thankful for my teaching job and the opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives.
  • I am thankful for the wonderful and supportive staff that I work with at Mill Creek.
  • I am thankful for my church, Trader’s Point, and our life group that helps me grow spiritually in my walk with the Lord.
  • Last and most important, I am thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ and His grace that He has blessed all of us with!