All the Love in Arizona

I went to Arizona about 9 years ago with my parents for baseball spring training when I was in college. It is such an amazing and unique place. I love the mountains, the cacti, and the climate. My family goes every year, and it never worked out for us to go before, until this year. We love when Ryan gets time off from work, and spending it in a beautiful place like Arizona is even better!

The kids have become good little travelers. They are used to driving 10+ hours in the car, so flying with them really isn’t a problem. The hardest part is all the extra luggage…suitcases, a pack-n-play, car seats, etc. Luckily, they enjoy helping as much as they can! We made it there in one piece, and it took some time to adjust to the 2 hour time difference, but we were excited for some fun adventures.

Travel

Day 1 – Chicago White Sox Spring Training Game

Baseball spring training is how the yearly Arizona tradition all began. My mom loves her Chicago White Sox, so my parents would always try to come out to see them play. This was the first time that all of us got to come, and that we had all 5 of the cousins together with Yaya in her happiest happy place! To be honest, my kids didn’t pay attention at all to the game. They were more interested in the hot dogs, popcorn and churros. But nonetheless, they had fun with the snacks and their cousins!

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Day 2 – Pinnacle Peak

Pinnacle Peak was a great starter hike. It was kid-friendly and we just got to take our time and enjoy the scenery. We loved seeing mountains in every direction, and the kids especially loved looking for critters!

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Day 3 – Lookout Mountain

The next day, we took just the big kids on a harder hike. They’ve all hiked Pinnacle Mountain in Little Rock before, so we knew what they were capable of. We chose Lookout Mountain, which was perfect. It was definitely tougher for them, but they pushed through and made it to the top. They were very proud of themselves and enjoyed the beautiful view!

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Day 4 – Piestewa Peak

This was the “adult hike.” We knew we wanted to do a more strenuous hike, so Grandma Bev and Yaya watched the fab 5 while we hiked up Piestewa Peak. It was definitely a tough hike, but it was amazing. All of us are pretty physically fit, so this hike was perfect for us. We got an amazing workout in, closed our Activity rings on our Apple Watches before noon, and saw some beautiful views!

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Later that evening, we drove to Arizona State University to walk around campus and eat dinner. The highlight for the kids, however, was the rainbow chair!

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Day 5 – Out of Africa Wildlife Park

This was probably our favorite day of the week. Almost everywhere we travel, we like to try out the different zoos. My aunt recommended this particular wildlife park to us, which was like a zoo, but much more interactive. It was an incredible place with wonderful experiences!

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The park had multiple shows throughout the day, including 2 different tiger shows, and a giant snake show. All 5 of the kids were brave enough to pet the snake!

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The tigers were a major hit. The trainers at this park are unbelievably close to animals, and love them like their own pets. They run around inside to fences with them, play with them, and hug them. We enjoyed watching the tigers swim in the pool, play games, and we even got to feed them!

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Most of the adults and the bigger 3 kids got to ride on the “SuperMog,” which was basically a safari to get up close with the animals and feed many of them. Kibo, the giraffe was our favorite! We all got to feed him, and my crazy husband fed him from his own mouth! Luckily, the babies didn’t miss out too much. We walked around the park later and got to feed Kibo again. We made a new best friend!

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Our day at this park was something we’ll never forget, and we will definitely want to experience it again someday!

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Day 6 – Camelback Mountain

This was another somewhat leisurely hike that we did as a whole crew. The higher you went up, the harder it got, so everyone could go as far as they wanted and then turn back. Brax was going on 6 days of much less sleep than usual (thanks to the time change and few naps), so he was a bit “off” that day if I want to put it nicely. Luckily, we had quite a bit of backup to help us handle his meltdowns, so we were still able to somewhat enjoy our last hike!

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Day 7 – Outlet Mall and Hole in the Rock

Our last day in Arizona, we spent some time at the outlet mall because…why not? This particular outlet mall had a small train that traveled around the mall. All 5 kids hopped in the caboose and had a blast!

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Before we headed to the airport, we got in one last mini-hike up to the Hole in the Rock. It was a neat little area where the kids could climb around inside a rock. It was a great way to end our trip.

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Every day is a pool day!

After our hikes and adventures almost every day, we ended up back at the pool at our resort. This was probably the kids’ favorite part of the trip (except for maybe feeding the giraffes!) They had some fun water slides, and a great kids’ area. The kids were so easy to entertain out there and they loved every minute of it!

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What an amazing trip with such amazing memories. We are especially lucky that we had parts of both of our families there with us. Spending time with family is always good for our souls, and this was even more so being in such a beautiful place. We loved our time in Arizona, and we can’t wait for another visit!

July Adventures

While June seemed to last forever, July flew by…probably because we were out of town for half of it! We needed some change of scenery this month, and we definitely got it, and had a great month. We had some great family time, and lots of fun adventures.

4th of July

Last year, we had a blast at the parade and festival that our town held, so we knew we definitely wanted to take part again this year. Ryan asked for the 4th off so he could join us. The parade is definitely a “small town” parade, so nothing extravagant, but many of the floats throw out candy, so that’s all the kids really care about! At night, we went to the festival down by the lake and invited some of our residency friends. The festival included bounce houses, food trucks, and a live band. While we waited for fireworks, we enjoyed eating ice cream sundaes, playing ring toss with glow necklaces on Brax’s neck, and the kids loved just playing and running around in the field together. The fireworks were AWESOME, and all the kids loved it. We always used to spend the 4th with our families, so it was rough last year not being with them. However, we have made the best of it and find fun things to do and now we just make it our own family day.

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Day trip to the Zoo

Sometimes, the kids and I get sick of our every-day routines, and we need to change it up. One day, Ryan didn’t have to work until the afternoon, and we needed something to do to get the kids out of the house for a little while and burn off some energy. We decided on an impromptu trip to the zoo! The Little Rock Zoo may not be as intense as other zoos, but its perfect for us because we can go for 2-3 hours and see everything we want to see. We had a great family morning!

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Family hike in Hot Springs

We’ve heard a lot about Hot Springs, AR since moving here, and we’ve always wanted to check it out. On one of Ryan’s days off, we decided to make it happen and go on a family hike. We found a great State Park with lots of trails. We had a great time climbing rocks and trees, finding frogs, and exploring nature. Days where we take family hikes are seriously my favorite!

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Branson Trip

As you may have already read in my last post, we spent a week in Branson with Ryan’s family. We had such a great time! We loved having Ryan with us for the week, and exploring different zoos, aquariums, and spending days on the lake and at the pool.

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Back home again in Indiana

After Branson, Ryan rented a car to drive back to Little Rock, and my mother-in-law helped us drive to Indiana to spend a week with family. Whenever we spend time back home, all 5 of the cousins are inseparable!

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We probably spent the majority of the week at my parents pool. All Kinsie wanted to do ALL week was swim with her cousins. She has become much more brave with swimming. At the beginning of the summer, she didn’t even like to get her face wet, but now she no longer needs floaties in the shallow end, and has been practicing swimming underwater. She was even doing underwater flips! I think next year, she’ll be able to swim in the deep end without floaties too!

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The timing of our trip home worked out perfectly, because it fell on the same week as the County Fair. My whole family, and most of Ryan’s family tagged along, and the kids had a great time together. We loved looking at all the animals, watching the cheerleading competition, riding rides, and eating hot dogs and milkshakes. The highlight of the night, however, was Brax’s encounter with a goat. My dad knew some people who had a pen of goats at the fair, and they let the kids get in the pen and pet the goats up close. Well, one goat in particular didn’t like having Brax be eye level with him, and he (no joke) HEAD BUTTED him, knocking both him and Kinsie to the ground! They were both physically fine, just a little traumatized! My brother-in-law happened to get it on camera, so we showed the video over and over to Brax until he thought it was funny and could laugh about the “silly goat!”

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As always, just spending time together is all these 5 kids ever want while we’re in town. Whether it be swimming, eating lunch, reading, or singing karaoke…their favorite place to be is together!

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We loved our July travels, but after 2 weeks away, it was nice to be home. Kinsie really struggles when we leave our family, so we’re trying to get more creative on ways to help her not be sad about being away from everyone. For example, I found my old digital picture frame and loaded lots of pictures of her and Brax with our families on it so she can always see pictures of them. We also printed a calendar for her to count down how many days until the next time she sees everyone. Luckily, we’ll all be traveling back to Indy for a weekend next month for a family wedding, so it won’t be too long until our next visit. Although I love summer time, I’m starting to look forward to fall. I’m ready for cooler temps, the kids are excited to start preschool after Labor Day (yes…even Brax!), Kinsie will be playing T-ball, and we have lots of trips and activities planned over the next 4-5 months. Enjoy the remainder of summer and stay cool!

Here is our 1 Second Everyday video for July…enjoy!