A Magical Month

We had a very busy and exciting month! It was exhausting, but for all good reasons. I’ll just get right into it…

Meet Evie!

We got a new pup!! As you know, we lost our beloved Koda last September, and our home just hasn’t been the same since. Ryan and the kids would have gotten a new pup immediately, but with the chaos of life, and upcoming winter, and my wild toddler, I knew it was best to wait a little while. After about 6 months (the longest Ryan and I have ever been without a dog), we were ready. We had intense puppy fever, so we started the search of adopting a pup. After several weeks of watching on the Pet Finder website, we came across this precious little Shepard mix about an hour away. We planned to meet up with her foster, and we pretty much knew we’d be coming home with a puppy! We fell in love with her immediately and brought her home that day!

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Love at first sight!

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Evie has adjusted very well to our home. She is still getting the hang of potty training and learning what is or isn’t an appropriate thing to chew on or bite, but she’s definitely making progress. She is very smart, sweet, energetic, and mischievous. She knows the commands of sit, come, lay down, and with me (heal). Her favorite things to chew on are shoes, socks, and Brody (don’t worry…just his pants. She is a Shepard mix, so we think she is trying to “herd” him!) She loves being outside and finding anything in nature to eat…rocks, leaves, sticks, mulch, you name it. She is an exhausting little thing (especially combined with my already crazy toddler), but we absolutely adore her!

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Take me out to the Ballgame!

Baseball and softball season are officially underway. Kinsie and Brax have both had their first games, and their season is off to a great start. Brax had a serious case of the jitters before his first game, but once he started playing, he loosened up and had a great time. Kinsie started out strong and received the game ball at her first game! She was so excited, and she had a whole fan club of family members there to see!

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Brody tags along to each game happily…but he’s mainly in it for the snacks!

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My parents love coming to the kids’ games, and they try to bring along their cousins whenever they can. The kids loved getting to play together on the playground after one of Brax’s games!

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Easter

Easter snuck up on us quickly. Between having a new puppy to care for, and preparing for our upcoming vacation, we had to squeeze in all of our Easter festivities into one weekend.

We baked and decorated our Easter cookies…

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and we dyed Easter eggs…

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On Easter Sunday, we spent the entire day with both of our families. We watched church online in the morning with my parents, then we headed over to Ryan’s aunt’s house for Easter fun. They had an awesome Easter egg hunt, and lots of food and treats. The kids had SO much fun with ALL of their cousins!

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Kinsie and her cousins Kerigan and Emery are all the same age. Their birthdays are in September, November and December of the same year, so they have always been very close. When they were only 3 years old, before we moved to Arkansas for residency, they were all on the same soccer team, and their dads were the coaches. This picture comes up on our Timehop every year, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to reenact it! We even all still had their jerseys! So the pictures below are 5 years apart!

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The kids had so much fun riding on cars and ATVs and exploring the creek. It was a wonderful Easter!

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The Great Outdoors

We are still going strong on our 1,000 Hours Outside goal. Now that it isn’t winter, we try to spend at least a little time outside every single day…and having Evie helps us with that. We have to take her out to go potty often, and she LOVES being outside so she motivates us to be outside more. We love taking her on walks, and the kids love running around with her in the yard. 

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And I love spending time with my sweet boys while their sis is at school!

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Rainy Days

We had a LOT of rain this month. It definitely made it tough to potty train a puppy. But whenever we couldn’t be outside, we tried to find things to keep us busy inside.

Like puzzles…

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And drawing the family tree of the Madrigal family from Encanto…

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And organizing craft time,

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And even making nugget slides on the stairs!

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There’s never a dull moment in our house!

DISNEY/UNIVERSAL TRIP

We were so excited to get the opportunity to travel back to Disney World and Universal Studios! The last time we went on a week-long trip there was in 2019…pre-pandemic and pre-Brody. In fact, I was about 12 weeks pregnant with Brody, so I wasn’t able to ride a lot of the rides that I love. Now that Brody is old enough to really enjoy it, and the pandemic has improved significantly, we couldn’t wait to go back! When Ryan’s mom sent the whole family a text message asking if we would want to use their time share and make a trip in April, we were all in!

For those of you who have been to Disney lately, you know that you can’t just show up and start riding rides anymore. It takes months of planning…like trying to snag popular dining reservations, syncing up your entire party together on the My Disney Experience app, learning how Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes work, mapping out your general strategy for park days, and making shirts for each park day…ok that last part isn’t 100% necessary, but I’m obsessed with making shirts with my Cricut, so it was necessary for me! But it’s a LOT of work, but definitely worth it! Ryan’s sister Megan and I tag-teamed to prepare for the best trip possible!

Day 1- Traveling and Disney Springs

Our flight was in the morning and was a direct flight, which was really nice not to have to switch planes with 3 kids. We were on the same flight as Ryan’s parents and his brother Nate and his fiance, Kendyl, so it was nice having lots of help with carrying luggage and keeping track of kids! The kids were great on the plane, and we overall had a very smooth traveling experience.

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We headed straight to Disney Springs, where we met up with Ryan’s sister Megan, and her husband Tim and son Griffin. I had been trying to get a reservation at the T-Rex Cafe for months, but none became available. After learning some tips and tricks from friends and Facebook groups, I was able to snag 2 tables for all of us on the spot! We loved the experience! It was such a fun environment, and the kids loved watching the dinosaurs come to life and watch the meteor showers on the ceiling.

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After eating, we walked around Disney Springs, shopped at the stores, and ate ice cream. Then we went to our condo, unpacked and prepared for our first park day.

Day 2- Disney’s Animal Kingdom

To be honest, I’ve never been THAT crazy about Animal Kingdom…it seemed like a glorified zoo to me. But Ryan and the kids love it so I always went for them. HOWEVER…my opinion on it has changed over the last few visits, and now I absolutely love it! This was our first experience using Genie+ and it worked SO well. We rode all of the main rides we wanted to ride early on, and then got to just relax and explore and try fun foods and drinks, and even ride a few rides for the second time in the afternoon

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We loved all of the animals!

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Avatar’s Pandora is our FAVORITE area of Animal Kingdom!

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We loved the Night Blossom drink in Pandora.

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One dining reservation we were able to get early on was lunch at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, which is a character meal. Disney just changed their policy within the last few weeks so that guests can now get close to and hug the characters again! Brody was in a weird mood after his stroller nap, and didn’t love the idea of getting super close to the characters, but he liked watching them and waving to them. The food was wonderful and we had a great meal!

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We even got to do a few rides more than once. The kids loved the Triceratops Spin! Kinsie and Brax were both big enough to ride Avatar’s Flight of Passage, which is my favorite! They loved it just as much as I do.This ride is the most popular ride at this park, so we had to buy an Individual Lightning Lane pass for it, but it was worth it! And right before park close, we decided to run back over to Pandora to get in line to ride it again! It was a great way to end the day! 

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Day 3- Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Whenever we do an Orlando trip, we always make time for Universal Studios as well. For me, it is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that always brings me back!

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Kinsie and Brax are both more into Harry Potter now than they were a few years ago, and have even read the first few books with us, so I loved getting to share these experiences with them. They loved drinking butter beer and getting candy at Honeydukes. Kinsie was tall enough to ride Forbidden Journey, which she loved, and we rode it 3 times! Brax got to ride Flight of the Hippogriff and he was obsessed! Brody wasn’t quite big enough to ride those rides yet, but he was happy as can be with a “chocolate frog” lollipop that Grandma bought him from Honeydukes!

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Universal Studios was crowded, and does not have a system like Disney for avoiding lines (unless you get an Express pass which costs an arm and a leg), so we just had to kick it the old fashioned way and wait to ride the rides with lower wait times. We were very efficient with our time, and were able to ride everything we wanted to, and never had to wait more than 30-40 minutes. We even got to ride Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure, which usually has a wait time of well over an hour. Ryan got to go on this ride in 2019, but I didn’t because I was pregnant. This time, Kinsie and I both got to ride on it together and we loved it!!

The kids enjoyed seeing characters, and Brax loved the Jurassic Park area! And I am so thankful for Ryan’s parents for hanging out with Brody while Ryan and I went on bigger rides with the big kids!

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Day 4- Disney’s Hollywood Studios

This is where we went in February, and where Brody had his first Disney experience, so we were excited to go back! Since February, the kids have gotten more into Star Wars, so Ryan was especially excited to explore more of Galaxy’s Edge with them. Right away, when we got to the gate, we could tell it was going to be a crowded day. Somehow, after lots of persistence and constant refreshing of my app, I still managed to snag some Individual Lightning Lane passes for Rise of the Resistance, which is the hardest ride to get into in all of Disney right now! Because the park was so crowded, and everyone was booking their Genie+ passes, ALL of our Genie+ windows weren’t until the afternoon. And all of the rides had way too long of waits to stand in with little kids. So we wandered around a lot and saw some characters and shows.

Brody was hit or miss with characters this trip. He LOVED seeing Olaf, and continuously hugged him and even tried to take him with us as we left the room. He also loved watching Chip and Dale in the courtyard. But he didn’t want to hug Pluto, he was more comfortable keeping his distance!

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The first half of the day was tough. It was unbelievably hot and crowded, and it was hard to get anywhere or do anything with the crowds and the long lines. I still am thankful for Genie+ though, because even though our passes weren’t until the afternoon, we were able to ride all the rides we wanted to because of it…just later in the day. Slinky Dog Dash was still a favorite, along with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Toy Story Mania. We enjoyed spending more time exploring Galaxy’s Edge, and got to ride all of the Star Wars rides.

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One dining reservation I worked really hard to get was at Oga’s Cantina. It’s a bar-type hangout in Galaxy’s Edge with really fun drinks. We always like to try something different every time we go, and we’re never disappointed! Brody fell asleep right before our reservation, so we carried him in and he napped in the booth while we enjoyed our drinks. We also loved the famous blue milk at Galaxy’s Edge!

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One of the highlights of the day for the big kids was building their own droids. Kinsie learned about this during our February trip, and it was all she talked about since! So I made sure to make reservations as soon as I could so she could experience it. And Brax loves all the droids on Star Wars, so I knew he would love it too. It was such a neat experience!

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We love Toy Story Land. It is one of our favorite parts of Hollywood Studios. However, it was unbearably crowded during the day. We didn’t get to enjoy it at all…until evening! After droid building and a quick dinner, we had a Genie+ pass for Alien Swirling Saucers, and then we were able to jump in line for Slinky Dog Dash five minutes before park close. It was AWESOME at night! By the time we were off the ride, the park was closed, so we got to walk through Toy Story Land and finally admire it with the beautiful lights and empty walkways. It was glorious!

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Day 5- Break Day

After 3 park days in a row, we were ready for our “rest” day. We slept in (as much as my kids do), relaxed in the condo for a while, then went out for a small adventure. I really wanted to see some of the other Disney resorts, and the kids wanted to ride the skyliner. We went to the bus station at Disney Springs, where Brody was in heaven!! He LOVES any and all buses…but Disney buses are his favorite! He was awestruck when he actually got to ride on a Disney bus to the resort!

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We went to the Art of Animation resort because I’d seen pictures of it and I knew my kids would love it. Brody LOVED all the Cars statues! 

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After exploring the resort for a while, the kids were getting hungry and wanting to swim at the resort, so we hopped on the skyliner and took a quick ride to another resort. From there, we took a bus back to Disney Springs, ate lunch, then headed back to our resort.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, playing in the splash pad and floating down the lazy river. It was exactly what we needed! We ate dinner at a restaurant at the resort, then walked around watching ducks, fish, and the sunset. It was a relaxing evening, and gave us the rest we needed before another park day!

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Day 6- Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom has always been my favorite. It doesn’t necessarily have my favorite rides, and it is always super crowded and overwhelming, but it is the most magical. I love all the parades, random shows, and the fireworks. I especially love when I get to bring one of my kids for their first trip and seeing the magic through their eyes!

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We booked Genie+ passes for the rides we knew would have long waits, but we still had plenty of rides that we were able to just walk right on, or have very short waits. We started our morning riding Small World, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, and eventually made our way over to watch the Country Bear Jamboree and the Enchanted Tiki Room, which Brody was obsessed with! Magic Kingdom definitely has the most rides that Brody could actually ride, so he loved every minute! We got an Individual Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and I’m so glad we did because it was really cute! (It’s usually over an hour wait) We fit in SO many rides in one day…and we were able to ride on rides that we haven’t done in years because they usually have too long of a wait. Thank you Genie+!

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We were so excited that the Festival of Fantasy parade was back! Watching it with Kinsie and Brax when they were little are some of my favorite memories, and I couldn’t wait to watch it with Brody too. He absolutely loved it…especially Chip and Dale!

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We didn’t see a ton of characters outside of the parade and calvacades…mainly because we were so busy hopping on and off rides. We did run into Stitch though and snapped a quick pic! 

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We ended up using a Genie+ pass on meeting Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater because there was a long line for it all day, and we never got to see him at Hollywood Studios for that same reason. Brody was being really shy again and didn’t want me to put him down, but he enjoyed saying hi to him while in my arms.

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Another priority for me this trip was trying more of the unique snacks that Disney has to offer. That was part of all the prep work I did…finding the best snacks! The dole whip was a classic that turned out to still be our favorite!

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We watched the fireworks show, and it was absolutely amazing. There are no fireworks like Disney fireworks! This is always the most crowded part of the day, and can often get frustrating…but I tried to stay in the moment and not let rude people get to me and ruin the magic. I will admit, I shed a few tears as I watched the fireworks over Cinderella castle for the first time with my little Brody while he rested his head on my shoulder!

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After the fireworks, we still had around 2 hours before the park closed. We had a Lightning Lane pass to use for Splash Mountain since the ride closed down earlier in the day while we were in line. Kinsie opted out of that one, but Brax loved it. Kinsie and Brax also both rode Space Mountain. Brody soon fell asleep so Grandma Bev stayed with him while we did a few more rides with the big kids. We finished the night with Mickey’s PhilarMagic, a 3D show that we all love. When the show was over, the park was closed and everyone was heading out of the park. So I had to snap one more pic in front of the castle since it wasn’t crowded anymore!

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14 hours and 30,000 steps later, Braxton was out! Brody and Griffin were already asleep for a little while, so Kinsie was the last kid standing as we left the park around midnight! It was SUCH a busy, exhausting day, but it was absolutely amazing!

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Day 7- Universal Studios

Last park day. We were up really late the night before from Magic Kingdom, and Universal Studios was our last stop…and it opened at 8am. So we started our day tired already, but we powered through since it was our last day!

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On our first Universal day, the Hogwarts Express broke down right before we were about to ride it to the other park. So we made sure we started our morning at Diagon Alley…my absolute favorite!

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The kids also enjoyed seeing the Knight Bus, and seeing Creacher the house elf peek out of the curtains of Number 12 Grimwald Place.

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Since the kids are really into Harry Potter, we decided to do the Wand Experience at Olivander’s Wand Shop. Kinsie was chosen to do some spells to find the perfect wand match! A special wand chose her, and she was over the moon! It was such a special experience that she’ll never forget!

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We also ate lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, drank more butter beer, and had ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.

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Afterwards, we finally got to ride the Hogwarts Express. Brody is obsessed with cars, trucks, buses and trains right now so he was SO excited to ride the choo-choo! He seriously could not contain his excitement, and he danced and squealed around happily as he waited to ride, and during the entire ride!

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We spent the rest of the day riding all of the rides that we hadn’t done yet, and we were completely exhausted by around 4pm. The park closed at 6pm that evening anyway, so we called it an early evening and went back to the condo to relax and get ready to head home the next day. 

Disney vacations are always so busy and tiring, but so amazing. We always make so many wonderful memories, and I love experiencing it with my kids at their different ages. 

And that was our April! It is hard to believe that it is already May and the kids will be done with another school year soon. Life has seemed a lot more normal for us lately since Covid numbers have been so low, and I’m not going to lie…it feels so nice. Praying that things continue to move in the right direction!

Enjoy our April 1 Second Everyday!

 

Feelin’ Good in February

February is usually one of my least favorite months. We usually have the worst snow storms in February, and even though it is a shorter month, it always just seems like it takes forever to get to March. But this time, it was better…probably because we went on our first real vacation since October 2019! But before I get to that, I’ll discuss the rest of our month.

Spending Time Outside (Before the Snow)

The first day of February was amazing – it was in the 60’s and sunny. Brody and I spent most of the day outside. And when we did go inside to eat lunch, he didn’t want to take off his hat and boots! The funniest part is that is was warm enough that he didn’t even need a hat or boots – but that’s what he wanted!

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Once the kids got home from school, we went to the walking trail. Kinsie and Brax brought their bikes and Brody rode in his little car. It was a perfect day to ride on the trail and let Brax practice his new no-training wheels bike skills! There was a huge snow and ice storm coming the next day – so we savored the amazing day. (Also, don’t judge Brody’s crazy hair – he was getting a haircut in a few days!)

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Snow Days

As I said, the very next day we were due for ice and then snow. Kinsie’s school went ahead and called in for e-Learning days for the next few days since the ice was supposed to start that afternoon. Kinsie had a class meeting on her iPad, and she brought a friend to class! When she was doing her school work, Brody wanted to do some too!

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We didn’t get much snow the first day, just some ice. But the next day, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. It snowed heavily for the entire day. Luckily Ryan was off for a few days, so he got to enjoy being snowed in with us. Once Kinsie was done with her schoolwork, we all bundled up and went outside. The kids loved sledding, catching snowflakes, and playing “arctic animals.” However, it was REALLY cold and windy so we didn’t spend as much time outside as we could have liked.

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The next few days were much more bearable. The snow stayed but it was a tad warmer, no wind, and the sun was out…so we ventured outside for several hours each day. We enjoyed LOTS of snow activities including sledding, making a snowman, snow painting, snow volcanoes, following animal tracks and more!

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And of course we had to make snow ice cream!

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Even when the kids went back to school, Brody and I still tried to venture outside whenever we could. He’s always in a better mood outside!

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One day after school, Brax had a sledding playdate with his best friend from school. They had a wonderful time together!

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Haircut for Bro

This handsome boy was LONG overdue for a haircut…he hadn’t gotten one since September! But between the Omicron surge, the holidays, and the fact that Brody HATES haircuts, it just wasn’t a priority. But since we were going on vacation soon, I knew we had to get it done. He definitely didn’t enjoy it, but it’s Ryan’s cousin who cuts his hair and she was patient with him and loves him so she didn’t mind – and he looked SO handsome when he was done!

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Gym Ninjas

Kinsie is still loving gymnastics, and recently I signed Brax up for a class called Gym Ninjas at the same place and time. He’s had one class so far and he LOVED it! One of his best friends from school is in his class too so he was so happy!

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Valentine’s Day

We got to squeeze in some fun Valentine’s Day activities before we went on vacation. We always love making cookies, and we even got to enjoy making some with the kids’ cousin Griffin!

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And here are the cookies we made at home!

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Brax’s class needed an extra parent volunteer for their Valentine’s party, so his teacher asked me to step in. I love getting to volunteer for his class! I love seeing him in the school environment and with his friends.

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And here’s just a picture of my cute boys in their matching Valentine’s shirts!

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A tradition we started a few years ago includes a heart for each kid every day starting February 1 until Valentine’s Day with a reason why we love them.

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Another tradition includes a scavenger hunt around the house that leads to their Valentines gifts!

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We love our sweet valentines!!

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VACATION

We finally went on a real vacation for the first time in over 2 years! We didn’t feel comfortable traveling with our unvaccinated, unmasked infant for a while, but also…life kept us very busy the last 2 years. We finished residency, moved to a new state, started a new job, had a baby, and built a house all during a global pandemic…so vacation wasn’t exactly at the top of our priority list for a while. But now that we’ve settled into our new lives, and 2/3 kids are fully vaccinated, and cases are dropping significantly, we were ready for a vacation. My parents were going to our condo in Siesta Key for 3 weeks, and they invited us to join at the tail end of the trip. I was so excited to get my babies on the beach!

Brody’s First Flight

I really haven’t taken Brody many places in his life, so this trip was a whole new world for him – starting with the airport. He was so nervous with all the people and new things to see. He clung on me like a koala bear all through the airport, including through security. Once we were on the plane, he got more comfortable and acted like his crazy self.

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Our flights were later in the evening, and we had to stop in Atlanta for a connecting flight. Brody was a wild man on the flights! He just didn’t want to sit still. Ryan and I took turns throughout the first flight passing him back and forth. Kinsie and Brax were absolute traveling champs, making it much easier on us. The second flight was better because it wasn’t a full flight, so we found an empty row and Brody was able to have his own seat and more room to wiggle. I was hoping he would sleep on this flight since it was well past 10pm at this point…but nope. There was too much to do and see! Overall, he was a great traveler!

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The Beach

We were all SO excited to get to the beach the next morning. It had been at least 3 years since we’d been to the beach, so Kinsie and Brax didn’t remember much about it either and were so excited. Brody wasn’t sure what to think about the sand between his toes at first, but he quickly learned to love it and was a happy little beach baby! He especially loved the ocean…but we had to watch him like a hawk because he kept wanting to run straight into the ocean!

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Around lunchtime, my sister’s family flew in also and met us at the condo. The kids were so excited to have their cousins to play with on the beach! They spent the next few days digging holes, building castles, boogie-boarding, and finding sea shells.

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The pure joy on this sweet boy’s face while he experienced so many new things made my heart so happy!

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Enjoying the sunset with my girl

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Big Cat Habitat

After a couple days on the beach, our family needed a little bit of a break (we all had sunburns!), and my dad had told us about a cat sanctuary nearby, so we decided to check it out. It was called the Big Cat Habitat, and it was really neat! Kinsie and Brax both got to feed a bear and a liger (a lion mixed with a tiger).

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There was also a fun petting zoo area.

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Eventually, Brody conked out in the stroller with his hand in the goldfish bag!

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Kinsie and Brax showed off their stickers proving that they fed the animals. It was a fun day!

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Other Florida Fun

Our time in Siesta Key also included sitting on the dock waving to the boats passing by, shopping at the village and sharing snacks and smoothies with cousins, swimming at the pool, and lots and lots of crazy cousin fun!

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DISNEY

I’ve been dying to take Brody to Disney World since he LOVES Mickey Mouse and all his friends. When we decided to go to Florida, we really wanted to make it happen. We planned on driving to Orlando and spending the last 2 nights of our vacation there, including 1 day at a Disney Park.

Fun at the Resort

It was my sister’s idea to stay at a Disney resort, and I am so glad we did. Not only are the resorts amazing, but you get extra perks at the Disney parks when you stay there. We left Siesta Key Saturday morning and headed to Orlando. We got there around lunch time, and got to spend a few hours by the pool. The kids loved the slides and splash pad area!

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After swimming, we went to Disney Springs for a little while, but it was insanely crowded. We went to the big Disney Store and walked around a little, but it was honestly hard to maneuver around so many people and trying to stay distanced. As we walked around, Brody took a little stroller catnap…which made him wired later on at bedtime! But eventually we all went to sleep and prepared for our big Disney day!

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A Magical Day at Hollywood Studios

We chose to spend our 1 Disney park day at Hollywood Studios because it has some of the most sought after rides that are often hard to get into unless you get lightning lane passes for them, and you can often only get lightning lane passes for them by staying at a Disney resort. It was also great because it was so close to our resort, so we were able to take the skyliner to the park!

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Here’s our whole crew with our neon tie-dye shirts (that I helped make with my Cricut!)

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The best part about the entire day for me was Brody’s reactions to Mickey and Minnie. He loved them SO much, just like I knew he would! He could have stayed there with them all day if we let him. All the other kids enjoyed seeing the characters too, but mostly everyone loved watching Brody’s interactions with them!

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We also met Olaf, Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Doc McStuffins. Character interactions certainly aren’t what they used to be before Covid, but they were still magical…especially through the eyes of a toddler!

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We also had some fun dining reservations throughout our day…including lunch at the Sci-Fi drive-in theater…

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And drinks and snacks at Oga’s Cantina. The girls particularly enjoyed the limes that came with the drinks!

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Papa and Yaya were in the happy place with all their babies!

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We had a blast on all the rides. This was Brax’s first time riding Slinky Dog Dash and he LOVED it! Thanks to lightning lane passes and child swap, Kinsie and Brax were both able to ride it 3 times…and Brody loved watching us all ride the “Doggy!” We also loved Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Toy Story Mania, Aliens Swirling Saucers, and Rise of the Resistance (Ryan’s fave!) 

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The sweetest cousin crew!

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For dinner, we had reservations at Hollywood & Vine, which is a character meal. We were excited for Brody to get to see more characters! Before dinner, he dozed off for a nap, but we woke him up in time to see the characters.

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It was truly a wonderful day. It was crowded, but very manageable. Having Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes were SO helpful and let us ride almost everything. My sister did an amazing job planning and booking everything, and now I’m learning everything I can from her so I can do it when we return to Disney in April!

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Heading Home

The next morning, we were able to sleep in and have a nice breakfast. The kids enjoyed Mickey waffles with a view! Afterwards, we packed up and headed back to Sarasota for our afternoon flight home.

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My parents were on our flight this time, which was nice to help with the kids. It was also a direct flight which was very helpful too. We were all exhausted so it was nice to finally relax on the plane. The kids watched shows on our iPads and Brody actually slept most of the flight! It was a quiet, relaxing way to end our wonderful vacation.

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Bookends of Nice Weather

We started February with beautiful weather, and ended it with more beautiful weather. When we got back from Florida, it was freezing, raining, or freezing rain for about a week. So when it finally was warm enough to be outside again, the kids were ready! 

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It was a great month, and I don’t usually say that about February! We may have to plan more February Florida trips in the future because it definitely helped break up the dreadful winter months. Now we are ready for SPRING!

Here is our February 1 Second Everyday. Enjoy!

 

Pumpkins, Weddings, and Theme Parks

Pumpkins, weddings and theme parks…that was basically the gist of our month! We spent the month of October in 3 (kind of 4) different states between a family wedding and vacation…and still managed to fit in all of our favorite fall and Halloween traditions! Like I expected, it was a very busy month…but we made lots of memories!

Here’s how our month went down…

Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Between traveling, school, and Ryan’s schedule, we had ONE day of the entire month that we could actually take our annual visit to the Pumpkin Patch…so luckily it worked out! It was hot and crowded, but we had a great visit. We enjoyed picking out pumpkins, taking a hay ride, playing in the corn pit and climbing on the hay playground. We love this farm and will miss it next year…but Indiana knows a thing or two about farms so I have no doubt we’ll find another one to continue our fall traditions next year!

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Kinsie Rocking Kindergarten

Kinsie is still doing great in school! She still loves it more than ever and I know she’s learning a lot. Lately, she received a few awards…a responsibility citizen of the month from the school counselor, perfect attendance for the quarter, and Super Falcon for her class! We are so proud of her!

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             Kinsie’s Writing

I LOVE when Kinsie brings home her writing from school…it melts my heart! I love watching her using her phonics skills to sound out her words. Here are a few of my favorite fall writings this month.

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               Red Ribbon Week

The week after Fall Break, Kinsie’s school celebrated Red Ribbon Week to promote living drug free. I used to be the Student Council sponsor for my school, and I loved planning the dress up days for Red Ribbon Week, so of course I also enjoyed dressing Kinsie up!

Day 1: “Tell Drugs to Take a Hike!” (top left – dress like you’re going camping)

Day 2: “Make it a GOAL to stay drug free!” (top right – dress in a team jersey)

Day 3: “Don’t let drugs be the villain in the story of your life!” (bottom left – dress like a Disney character)

Day 4: “Bubble Bubble, Witches Brew…we’re drug free…how about you?” (bottom right – dress in Halloween costume)

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Wedding Weekend in Indiana

Ryan’s cousin Nicole got married in October, and we were excited that the kids were asked to be the flower girl and one of the ring bearers, along with their baby cousin Griffin. Unfortunately with Kinsie’s school and Ryan’s work, we were only able to visit Indiana for the weekend. We left on Thursday after school and returned home Sunday evening. We were really only there for 2 days, but we made the most of it!

On Friday, my sister took Kinsie to have lunch with her cousins at their school. She loved getting to see them and their school!

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The wedding took place in a beautiful barn, and fall (and practically winter) weather decided to show up for the occasion…it was cold! Kinsie loved dressing up like a princess, and Brax decided to make things as difficult as possible while putting on his nice clothes. He goes through waves, where he’ll be super laid back and sweet for a few months, and then an absolutely stubborn terror for a few months (remember when I said he’s a sour patch kid?!) Unfortunately, right now he’s in a sour phase so everything is a battle. We won every battle except him wearing the bow tie and suspenders…so we called it a win. The kids looked great and did their job well, and Griffin was the absolute sweetest, smiling away in his wagon! We loved getting to see all of family at the wedding and the kids loved dancing the night away!

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Vacation in Orlando

We were so excited for this vacation, not just for where we were going, but the fact that Ryan got to spend an entire week with us! With the wedding and this vacation somewhat back to back, he had to use all of his days off for those trips, so when we were home, he was working every day. We all definitely needed this week of vacation!

Day 1 and 2: Traveling and Disney Springs

Our trip there was overall non-eventful, which was nice after some of the stressful airport experiences we’ve had in the past! We had to drive the 2 hours to Memphis for our flight, which wasn’t too bad considering how much cheaper it was. My saint of a husband even offered to sit with the kids on the plane and let me sit across the aisle from them. It was lovely!

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We got to Orlando around 2pm, so we wanted to use our time wisely! We spent the evening at Disney Springs. The kids love digging for dino fossils at the T-Rex Cafe and looking at giant LEGO statues. We also loved the Marvel store and shopping at the Rainforest Cafe!

On Day 2, the original plan was to go to Universal Studios with the whole family, but there was a huge tropical storm and it poured all morning! Luckily we had a built in “off” day the next day, so we just switched and went the next day. The storm was over by early evening on Saturday, so we all went back to Disney Springs again that night!

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Day 3: Universal Studios part 1

The whole crew (us, my sister’s family, my parents, Ryan’s parents, and my aunt Stella and her husband Andre) went to Universal Studios together. They all hadn’t been in a really long time, but Ryan and I went a few years ago so we helped lead the way. I could have spent all day just in Harry Potter world, but I knew not everyone knew and loved the wizarding world like I do, so we just visited there for a little while and made time for other activities too. My sister recently read the HP series though, so I was excited for her to share the magic with me! We enjoyed the castle, some rides, the butter beer, and meeting some characters.

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Day 4: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We worked it out so that my family stayed in a Disney resort one night so we could all take advantage of the “Extra Magic Hours” at Hollywood Studios. I hadn’t been to this park since I was really young, and the kids had never been. They are obsessed with Toy Story right now, we we were really excited to experience the new Toy Story Land! Extra Magic Hours started at 6am, and the park didn’t open to the public until 9am…so we got a LOT in during those 3 hours! It was tough waking up at 5am and getting to the park before the sun even came up, but totally worth it!

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I was so proud of Kinsie because she rode her first roller coasters on this trip! She started with the Slinky Dog Dash and absolutely loved it! She even rode it a second time with Uncle Ry Ry since the lines were so short so early in the morning! She also had fun riding with Aunt Tita on the Alien Saucer Spin.

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The kids loved meeting Woody, Bo Peep and Jessie!

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Toy Story Land was amazing! And it looked a little different from 6am to later in the day…like I said, I’m so glad we were able to take advantage of those extra hours!

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We spent a good part of our day in Toy Story Land, but also made time for the new Star Wars land, and meeting lots of other characters! We ended up leaving the park around 8pm…we were all tired after a 14 hour day!

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Day 5: Universal Studios part 2

The next day, we came back to Universal Studios, while the rest of my family went to Epcot. Ryan and I love Universal and we knew there was more we would want to do than what we’d be able to do in one day, so we chose to spend another day there. Ryan’s mom came along while his dad had to travel to Tampa for work. We had another great day exploring Hogsmeade, riding the Hogwarts Express, and doing magic with our wand. We didn’t really have time last time to explore the Marvel Superhero Land, so we made sure to spend time there this time. The kids got to meet Captain America and Spiderman and loved it!

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Day 6: Disney’s Magic Kingdom

When you make a trip to Orlando, it’s a requirement to spend at least one day at Magic Kingdom…at least for our family! We met back up with my family and everyone for a day at the most magical place on earth. The kids all had so much fun together. They loved the “It’s a small world” ride, the Dumbo ride, the parade, and the fireworks.

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Best attempt at a full group selfie on Small World!

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Lots of castle pics are a must!

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It took way too long to find a spot to watch the fireworks, (I won’t get into too many details, but Ryan just about fought with the Disney employees for not letting us stand anywhere to watch!) but by the time we actually found a spot, Brax was asleep in the stroller! He stayed asleep until we left the park! Kinsie however, enjoyed the fireworks, then finally also passed out while we were waiting (for over an hour) for the ferry boat home.

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Our Disney days almost always end in two passed out kids…that’s how you know it was a fun and successful day!

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Day 7: Last day at Universal Studios – part 3

Our original plan was to spend 2 days at Disney and 2 days at Universal, but when we bought our tickets, our 2-day ticket to Universal came with a third day free…so we were happy to take advantage!

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We had the kids write down the things they definitely wanted to do on their last day there, so we made sure we hit up those things, then added a few fun extras. The kids could have spent the entire day at Dr. Seuss Land. They loved all the rides and characters! We also met Branch and Poppy from Trolls, and King Julien from Madagascar.

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There was a fun Curious George splash pad area that the kids loved. I stayed there with them while Ryan caught a few of the rides he wanted to do by hopping in the quick single rider line. We also rode a few rides that they loved the days before again, like Storm Force (similar to the tea cup ride at Disney), the “If I Ran the Zoo” interactive playground, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and the Dr. Suess sky train. We had a great last day, and even finished in time to go meet our family for dinner since it was our last night together.

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It was exhausting, but such a great trip! We were so glad Ryan was able to join us, and that we were able to spend some time with our Indiana family as well.

Fitting in all the Halloween Activities

We got back from our trip with less than a week until Halloween. We have lots of fun Halloween traditions that we do every year, so we had to do work once we were back!

The kids and I baked and decorated Halloween cookies the weekend we returned.

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We also painted our smaller pumpkins (Unicorn, dinosaur, Forky)

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Ryan worked a few evenings in a row once we got back, so we had to split up our pumpkin carving into 2 separate days. The first round, the kids helped clean out their pumpkins and collect the pumpkin seeds so I could bake them. Then the kids did as much as they could to help carve, but like usual, they get bored easily so Ryan and I finished them up.

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The kids pumpkins are on the left… Ariel and King Kong. Ryan and I had to do ours a few days later when the kids were in school, and we did Groot and Dobby.

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Halloween Night

Ryan made sure he got Halloween night off so he could come trick-or-treating with us. I made the kids jack-o-lantern pizzas for dinner.

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Kinsie wore her costume all day since her Red Ribbon Week day was for her to wear her costume anyway, but Brax is a weirdo and didn’t want to wear his to school. He is extremely particular about what he wears lately, so I worked hard to make sure his costume was as basic as possible. And with Brax being in a “sour” phase of his sour patch kid lifestyle, when it was time to put on his costume, he threw an absolute fit. He was still excited to be Forky, but he just really enjoys being stubborn and didn’t want to do what we asked of him. After a short intense battle, we won, and he was Forky. Once his fit was over, he was as happy as can be and had a great time trick-or-treating!

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The whole family… Woody, the alien, Jessie and Forky

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Once Brax’s fit was over, we all really had a great night. It was colder than usual, but the kids did great trick-or-treating and had a great time!

October went by in a flash, and now we’re ready to take on November. My birthday is this month, and my family is coming to visit for Thanksgiving, so we have more to look forward to!

Enjoy our 1 Second Everyday for the month of October!

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.

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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!

Marchin’ into Spring

We are finally getting out of our little winter funk. It’s so crazy how January and February seemed to crawl by, but March went by in a blur. March has always been good for my soul…even if the winter weather lingers, it just brings new hope that spring is indeed coming. Here is a recap of our month.

A Surprise Trip Home

One day my sister called me to tell me that she had just been informed that our dad was going to win one of the most prestigious awards given by their company. When this award is announced, the winner’s family meets them on stage. As soon as we knew my dad was going to be awarded this honor, my mom and sister wanted to do whatever we could to get me there to surprise him. For weeks, we secretly planned out all the details (which is no easy task…we don’t call my dad “the hawk” for no reason). I flew into Indianapolis late Monday night, and had my father-in-law pick me up to take me to my sister’s house. Then as soon as my dad went to work the next day, my mom came by to pick me up to take me to the event with her.

It was a whirlwind of a couple days. I was pretty anxious because it was all so exciting and I just wanted it all to work out and for him to be surprised. Well…it could not have gone better. The look on his face when he saw me was completely worth all of it! It was such an unforgettable experience and I am so glad I got to be there during this special time for him.

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I really wanted to bring the kids with me, but I knew this would be a quick trip (about 48 hours), and it wouldn’t be worth the exhausting travel and extra money to bring them along. So, Ryan’s mom and aunt agreed to come visit to help watch them. Unfortunately, my sweet Kinsie Kay came down with the flu during this fiasco. She was down with a high fever, tiredness and body aches, and missed school for a solid week. I hated leaving her, but I knew Ryan was still there (when he wasn’t at work), and she had grandma and Aunt Renata taking care of her. I am so grateful for them driving 10 hours both ways to help me make this trip happen! The kids enjoyed having them here, and I loved my sweet welcome home message when I returned.

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Marvel Universe Live!

Brax has become obsessed with superheroes lately, especially from the Marvel universe. Almost 3 years ago when I found out I was pregnant with a baby boy, Ryan told me that I needed to educate myself on superheroes for the sake of our son. Within the last year, I started watching Marvel movies and…I’m not going to lie…I’ve become obsessed with it myself! It has been so much fun learning about all the different superheroes with my boy, and watching him flying around the room with his cape, or run around with his giant Hulk hands “Hulk-smashing” everything in sight!

One day, Ryan randomly saw an advertisement for a live show featuring our favorite Marvel characters. The tickets were reasonable, so we booked it. We have gone to many Disney On Ice shows, which we love, but we thought this would be something exciting and different and focused on Brax’s current obsession.

We loved seeing Captain America, Spider-Man, Groot, and many more of the Marvel gang. Brax, however, was most excited about seeing the Hulk! In fact, he loved seeing him so much, that he cried when the show was over…and continued to sulk about it the rest of the day! Needless to say, he loved the show!

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Bottom right picture – Brax’s reaction to the show being over. He was so upset that Hulk had to leave!

 

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We had a great family day!

 

Spring has Sprung!

Ahh spring. We missed you! I know winter is so much worse in Indiana, but it still isn’t great here. But spring….yes. Spring here in Little Rock is my favorite. The temps are perfection during this time of year. We’ve been spending a lot of time riding bikes, taking walks, and eating outside dinners. We are going to fully embrace this weather until the dreadful humidity kicks in.

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One of our favorite things to do as a family this time of year is eat dinner outside. This particular day, we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire. The best!

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T-ball Season Begins

Another season of t-ball is upon us. Kinsie missed it and was excited to start again. She has had 2 practices so far, and has been rocking it again. She’s the only girl on her team again, but she is also one of the most aggressive players. We are excited to watch her again this season, and as long as she still loves it, she’ll be moving on up to a real softball league next fall.

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Family Vacation in Arizona

We had been looking forward to this trip for a long time, and it did not disappoint! We had an amazing week in Scottdale, Arizona with our families. There were so many great memories and pictures, I’m devoting an entire blog post just for the trip. It will be up soon!

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Other Activities

A friend’s birthday party

Kinsie had a friend from school who had their birthday party at the same place she takes gymnastics. The kids had a blast, and it was a great way to spend our Saturday!

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Sickness strikes again

The week before we went to Arizona, my poor girl got struck again, but this time, with the stomach bug. She was down for about 3 days, then she got much better in time for our trip. The rest of us stayed healthy too which was a relief. We’re hoping she got all of her sickness for the year out of the way this month!

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St. Patrick’s Day

This holiday has always kind of been a non-factor in my life. I’m not Irish, I don’t really drink, and I’m not crazy about the color green. However, when you have kids, every holiday is more fun! These crazy kids love dressing in their green for St. Patty’s Day and now I have another excuse to take cute pictures of them!

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Avengers Assemble

As I said earlier, Brax is in a major superhero phase and we are loving it! He walks around with his giant Hulk hands constantly, and is always Hulk-smashing everything…including us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Brax, don’t Hulk-smash your sister!” He will constantly put his little fists up in the air to Ryan and say, “Daddy, let’s fight!” He always makes Ryan be the bad guy, and he is the Hulk, and he beats up the bad guy and saves the day! We are all embracing this boy’s love for superheroes, even sweet Kinsie Kay. She loves Wonder Woman, and plays right along with her brother’s superhero games!

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Stay tuned for a post all about our trip to Arizona…because it was definitely the highlight of our month. April is here now and we are excited about this spring weather and fun events coming up like Easter, Brax’s birthday, and Kinsie’s Pre-K Graduation.

Happy April, and as always, here is our 1 Second Everyday video for March 2019.

Falling for October

October seemed to fly by! We stayed incredibly busy this month between t-ball, school, ballet, church, vacation, and lots of fall fun. Some of our favorite yearly traditions take place in October, and even with Ryan’s busy schedule, we try really hard to still fit it all in and create fun memories. Here is a recap of our October.

T-ball Season

Kinsie’s t-ball games started this month, and she has been rocking it! Softball has come more naturally to her than any other sport she has tried so far. She still needs to work on her throwing skills, but she has been hitting the ball incredibly well, and being very aggressive on the field. She seems to love it, and we all enjoy watching her play!

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Pumpkin Patches

Going to the pumpkin patch is always a must every year. We always try to find a day where Ryan can go with us, because we all enjoy it. We went to the same pumpkin patch as last year because we loved it so much. The corn pit, the hay playground, the farm animals, the hay ride, the maze…we loved it all!

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This year, Kinsie and Brax’s school did a field trip to a different pumpkin patch. We had so much fun! The kids spent most of their time with Kinsie’s buddy, Judah (who is also on her t-ball team). They loved picking pumpkins and spending time with their teachers outside of the classroom. Kinsie had a homework assignment while she was there, which she was ALL about. This farm had tons of playground areas for the kids to run around, and lots of play scenes to take pictures with. It was a fun morning!

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Trip to Florida

The kids and I were very lucky to get the opportunity to go to Florida with my family for a week. Our original hope was for Ryan to come with us for a few days, but with his limited days off, we just didn’t think it was worth it for him to try to make this trip. We really missed him, but we did have a great time! The kids spent most of their time on the beach playing with their cousins. They loved building sand castles, playing on the boogie board, collecting seashells, and more. It honestly didn’t matter what they were doing, as long as they were with their cousins, they were happy!

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We also decided to spend one day at Disney’s Epcot. We hadn’t been there since Kinsie was 2 and I was pregnant with Brax. The older kids are getting more interested in learning about other countries and cultures, so we thought this was a great time to take them here. We had a very busy, but awesome day! We accomplished a ton in just one day. We loved The Seas with Nemo and Friends and the giant Epcot ball, but mostly the kids loved the characters (we’ll get to that in a minute), and visiting all the countries in the World Showcase.We bought the kids Epcot passports, and they LOVED visiting every country and getting their passport stamped. It was actually very neat, especially because the people who work at each country are actually from that country. This was a very neat experience for all of us, and I loved how much they enjoyed learning about different countries and cultures.

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Our other favorite part of Epcot was getting to meet all the characters. This was definitely the highlight for Brax. He absolutely loved hugging and getting his picture taken with all of his favorites. At the end of the night, we surprised the kids with a Disney princess dinner. The girls were so excited, and loved visiting with, and getting autographs from some of their favorite princesses. It was a long, busy, but wonderful day at Epcot!

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Like I said, we really missed Ryan, but we’re so glad we took this opportunity. We had some great quality family time, and the kids were so happy to spend time with their favorite people. I am so grateful for my family for making this trip work for us and helping me so much. I literally couldn’t have done any of it without them!

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Pumpkins Galore!

Every year, our creative side comes bursting out around Halloween. Ryan and I, even when we were in high school, loved carving unique pumpkins together. We’ve managed to continue this tradition with our kids. This year, we also included painting to the mix. The kids loved painting their pumpkins, and Ryan and I added a Harry Potter and Hedwig to the pumpkin crew this year.

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Last year, one of our favorite activities with the residency group was pumpkin carving. We made sure to be a part of it again this year. The kids loved carving their pumpkins, but they loved running around and playing hide and seek with their friends even more.

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Pictured below- all of our finished painted pumpkins

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And now pictured below are the finished carved pumpkins. From left to right we had Brax’s picks – Chase from Paw Patrol and Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo, Ryan’s pick – a human heart/skull, my pick – the Hocus Pocus witches, then Kinsie’s picks – a unicorn and a Hatchimal.

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Halloween

It poured on Halloween night! And we knew it would…it was in the forecast for a few days. Most of the city of Little Rock moved trick-or-treating to the night before, but Kinsie had a double-header that night. Luckily, our church had a festival on the night of Halloween…so we still got to do our Halloween thing. Kinsie has had her costume picked out for months…she wanted to be Anne Wheeler, the trapeze artist from the movie, The Great Showman. Brax was a different story! I can’t even count how many times he changed his mind. Some of his options over the last month included (but are not limited to) PT Barnum, an elephant, an alligator, a lion, Mickey Mouse, a dinosaur….and about 10 more different types of animals. He’s so picky about what he wears, so I knew it would be a challenge to actually get him to wear something. He finally settled on Mickey Mouse…which I was fine with because I could make him a simple Mickey costume using just normal clothes. Of course he wouldn’t wear it to his school Halloween party, but I was so relieved that he actually wore it on Halloween!

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The festival at church was a lot of fun. It was very crowded, but they had tons of games, activities, and food. The kids loved all the games and had a great time with some of their friends.

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Busy, busy month…but we loved every bit of it! Looking forward to exciting things in November…especially expecting our newest nephew to arrive by the end of the month!!! We can’t wait to meet him and to witness Megan and Tim embark on the amazing journey of parenthood.

As always, enjoy our 1 Second Everyday October video!

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!

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!

 

March Madness

No, this post isn’t about the NCAA basketball tournament…just the chaos and crazy, or “madness” if you will, of our ever day lives…and I wouldn’t have it any other way! March went by way too fast because we stayed busy! Here were our favorite moments of March.

Spring has arrived!

The warm weather in Arkansas is pretty much here to stay! While it may be chilly in the mornings and evenings, most days it gets up to the high 60s or low 70s. The kids have been LOVING it. We’ve played in the yard a lot, had picnics, and explored some new parks.

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Colorado Vacation

I already posted about our Colorado vacation, but this was definitely a major highlight of our month. We had the best vacation with Ryan’s whole family in Colorado Springs in mid-March. We did so many fun activities and always had an amazing view of the mountains. We definitely want to make it back to Colorado again someday.

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Random Sweet Moments

My kids definitely like to explore and go places every so often, but overall they are homebodies like me, and love to just play at home. Ryan was on his OB rotation this month, so he worked long hours at night, so the kids and I had a lot of quality time just the 3 of us. I always try to document the random little moments where the kids do something sweet or unique…especially when the kids are getting along so well without me coordinating it. Kinsie will “read” books to Brax, or Brax will line up all his cards to make a long “choo-choo,” or the kids will snuggle extra close to me when they are scared of a thunderstorm. I try to savor these moments because I know they won’t last forever!

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Pinnacle Mountain

Ryan and I hiked Pinnacle Mountain when we came to visit Arkansas before he made his rank list last year. It was a great hike with a beautiful view, and we’ve been wanting to take the kids ever since. We finally got the opportunity, and we had a great time! Kinsie was an absolute CHAMP and hiked the whole thing by herself. Brax rode in the hiking backpack and was not happy about it at first…he wanted to do it himself too! He eventually gave up and just had fun riding in the backpack with his Daddy. The kids loved the view and they didn’t want to leave the top of the mountain!

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Family for Easter

We haven’t seen my sister’s family since Christmas, so we were all counting down the days until they were going to visit us for Easter weekend. My parents were coming too, so we were excited to see everyone. We had the best weekend with everyone! The kids had fun together no matter what they were doing. We played outside, went to the zoo, went to my church’s Easter egg hunt, and much more. These pictures show the joy and fun these 5 had together more than I can really explain…

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Trip to the zoo

 

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Kinsie’s fan club at her soccer game

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Wagon rides, playing at the rock park, dressing up as princesses…cousin time doesn’t get much better than that!

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Lots of fun at the church Easter egg hunt

We loved getting to spend time with both of our families this month. It always fills our buckets when we get to see family. We have adjusted to living here, and finally are starting to feel more established, but being away from family is still by far the hardest part, and I don’t know if I’ll ever completely get used to it. That’s why we savor our moments we do have with them. Still, we are really enjoying living here, and when I see pictures and videos of my kids, I truly feel that they are happy, and that’s what matters most.

Here is our “One Second Everyday” video for March…enjoy!

 

Take me to the Mountains

We had such a wonderful trip with Ryan’s family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It had been years since we went on a trip with them where ALL of us could go together. Everyone is in such different phases of life, so it is always hard to get everyone’s schedules lined up. Megan’s husband, Tim was going to be in Colorado for work in March, so we all decided that he would stay once he was done and we would all come meet him there. We had never been to Colorado, so we were excited to see it. The weather was perfect for hiking and it was so beautiful there. No matter where you go, you are surrounded by mountains. I hadn’t seen the mountains in years, and I forgot how beautiful they are. The view never got old. We packed a lot of activities into one week, and it was one amazing week! Here are some of the highlights from our trip…

Garden of the Gods

We visited Garden of the Gods twice during the week, and went on a few different trails. These were pretty quick and easy hikes with absolutely amazing views. Kinsie loved taking pictures and looking through her binoculars, and Brax loved hiking by himself and collecting rocks!

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Pike’s Peak

We drove most of the way up Pike’s Peak, which is one of the highest summits of the Rocky Mountains (elevation 14,000 ft). We stopped several times along the way to look at the view and take pictures. We especially loved one of the lakes (which was frozen and beautiful), and an area called the Devil’s Playground. It got colder and the air got thinner the higher up the mountain we went, so we had to bundle up and take deep breaths, but it was all worth it!

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On top of the world…or at least the Devil’s Playground

 

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

We spent a day at the only zoo built in the mountains, and it did not disappoint! We were very impressed with this zoo…especially how many interactive exhibits there were. My personal favorite was the giraffe exhibit, where you can feed the giraffes up close. The kids (and the adults) LOVED everything about this zoo. The birds, elephants, meerkats, apes, and petting zoo were some favorite stops too. After the zoo, we drove up the mountain to see the Will Rogers Shrine. The kids loved climbing up the tower and we all loved the amazing view!

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The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

This was one of my favorite things we did. We had to drive almost 2 hours, but it was incredible. We walked along the bridge which surprisingly, ran over the Arkansas River! We enjoyed the view while the kids ran around in circles and played red light green light. Once we were across the bridge, there was a playground and a carousel that the kids loved. We took a gondola to get back across the bridge, which, I’ll admit was a little terrifying, but amazing! Then we ate lunch on the patio while overlooking the gorge and watching the gondolas and the zip-liners. It was an awesome experience!

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Playing at the park across the bridge

 

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Riding the gondola

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Helen Hunt Falls

On one of our last days, we took a quick hike around a small waterfall, which the kids loved! Brax could have watched that waterfall all day! We hiked around the waterfall and ended up getting to see more more beautiful views. The kids did great, but eventually took a little break and hitched a ride!

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Spending time with Family

This vacation was so special to us, mainly because it’s so rare that all of us get to be together. Whether we were hiking and seeing a beautiful mountain scenery, or hanging out in the amazing house we rented, or driving in the 15 passenger van together, we just enjoyed each other’s company. I cannot even believe how blessed I am to have married into this amazing family, and I am so grateful for them!

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