Our October in Arkansas

I was excited to spend October in our new home. We have a lot of fun traditions that we do in October, so I was glad that Ryan was on an easy rotation and could enjoy them with us. We did lots of fun fall and Halloween activities, as well as traveled to Florida for vacation. It was a great month that went by fast! Here is our recap…

Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

This is one of our favorite traditions. We love the pumpkin patch, the hay rides, the apple snacks, you name it. When we first moved here, we went to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Little Rock, and one of the booths set up was for a winery. I tried their wine and fell in love (For all you Indiana folks, it’s similar to Oliver Wine). When I bought some wine from them, they told me they also have a great farm and a great pumpkin patch in the fall. I was anxious to visit, not only for the pumpkin patch, but to buy more of their wine! This pumpkin patch did NOT disappoint! I was so impressed with all the activities they had set up. The kids loved playing in the corn pit and making “corn angels,” climbing on the hay bales, sliding down the tubes, visiting the farm animals, picking out their own pumpkins and going on the hay ride. They had all kinds of scarecrows dressed up as different characters and decorations to see on the hay ride so it kept us entertained! We loved our day at the pumpkin patch!

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Trip to Florida

You’ve probably already seen the post about our trip to Florida, but this was definitely one of the best things about our month. We loved spending our days on the beach, lots of cousin time, Mickey Mouse, and having Ryan for a whole week!

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Boo at the Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo Boo was always one of our favorite traditions around Halloween, and we were so excited to find out that the Little Rock Zoo also did “Boo at the Zoo!” For this event, you had to purchase tickets, even if you are zoo members, but there was a lot more to do at this event than at the Indy zoo. There were carnival games and rides, trick-or-treating, a Haunted House, a “spooky” train ride, food trucks, bounce houses, and tons of Halloween decorations. The ONLY thing I was a little disappointed in was the fact that the event really didn’t have anything to do with the animals. In fact, most of the animals weren’t even out for display. The event focused on the activities, but it was still a lot of fun. We went with another resident’s family whom we’ve gotten pretty close with. The kids all had a great time together and it was a great night.

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Fun at School

Kinsie is still loving school! They do so many fun activities and themed days. She adores her teacher and finally seems to know all the kids’ names in her class (there are only 8 kids). Some of her favorite things she’s done at school include making apple pie, a martial arts class, and trick-or-treating. And again, I love how much they share on their Facebook page so I can see how much fun she’s having every day!


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Pumpkin Carving and Painting

We don’t take pumpkin carving lightly. We go all out every year, and we don’t just do it for the kids…Ryan and I look forward to it every year! This year, Kinsie also really wanted to paint some pumpkins, so I let the kids paint a couple of them. Last time I had Brax paint, he hated it…this time, he loved it!

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Ryan’s residency group also had a pumpkin carving night, where all the residents and their families could come and carve pumpkins together. The kids loved helping with the pumpkins, running around with the other kids, and all the snacks they could dream of!

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Then, we finally got to carve the rest of our pumpkins. Kinsie really wanted to help with as much as she could, so she helped scoop out seeds, poke the holes for the outline of the design, and even did some minor carving. Brax stuck the spoon into the pumpkin maybe once and then he was done. He spent the rest of the time reading books, climbing into the toy box and running amok while we finished carving. The kids LOVED the end results!

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From left to right, “silly guy,” Batman, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Mickey Mouse, and Stitch

Other Halloween activities

Some other activities that we did this month included spending a lot of time in Halloween PJ’s, watching Hocus Pocus while wearing a witch costume, trick-or-treating at Kinsie’s last soccer game, and making Halloween cookies!

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Trick-or-treating

The kids are still young enough that they like wearing coordinating costumes, and we are taking full advantage of it until that day ends! We love doing family costumes, and we always base it off of things that Kinsie is really into at the time. Last spring, she said she wanted us to all be trolls from the movie “Trolls.” Then a couple months after that, she wanted us to all be characters from “Moana.” Then she kind of lost interest in those movies, so we gave her some options from movies she likes. We always call Brax “Stitch” because he destroys everything, so Kinsie thought it was be fitting for her to be Lilo and Brax to be Stitch for Halloween. I found some cute and versatile costumes that I could warm up or cool down depending on how our weather was, and Ryan and I decided to join in on the costume fun again. I decided to be Nani, Lilo’s sister, and Ryan was Agent Pleakley, the green alien from Stitch’s home planet. Ryan’s sister, Megan and her dog Ali came to visit us and went trick-or-treating with us as well. It was pretty chilly, but not so much that it affected our trick-or-treating fun. The kids LOVED it. We walked around our entire neighborhood, and they were exhausted but very excited about how much candy they received!

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We had a great month! Now with November and December coming up, we know we are going to continue to be busy…which is a good thing for us! We will be headed back to Indiana to be with family for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas. We are still settling in to our new home, but we become more and more comfortable and feeling “at home” here every day. We are in love with the state of Arkansas, and absolutely love living here…but we are still missing our families. We love having them visit, and traveling home to visit them as well. However, with the cold weather season approaching, we are looking forward to spending winter in the south!

Sun Rays and Disney Days

We were so grateful to get to go on a vacation to Florida this month! Ryan gets 3 weeks of vacation throughout his first year, so we coordinated it with my family’s vacation to one of our favorite places, Siesta Key, Florida. With the way our week worked out, we also got to visit Disney World for 3 days…another one of our favorites! Originally with Ryan’s schedule, he would get to go to Siesta with us, but not Disney. After he pulled some strings at work, he found a way to go with us for the entire trip, and we were all SO grateful. We all needed that quality Daddy time! Here are the highlights from our trip.

PART I: Siesta Key

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The Beach

We came here last December, and Kinsie was a little beach baby. She was obsessed! Brax wasn’t even mobile yet, so he spent most of his time in the tent. This time, we had two beach babies! Brax wasn’t a huge fan of the ocean (the waves scared him), but he loved playing in the sand. All the kids loved chasing birds, getting buried in the sand as different animals and characters, and building sand castles and animals. The older kids loved the ocean until we realized how many jellyfish were in the area. Both Kinsie and her cousin Briggs got stung by jellyfish…but luckily nothing too severe. After that, they were all a little skeptical about getting in the water…and they called themselves the “jellyfish cousins.”

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The Pool

All five of the cousins are little water bugs. We spent a few days by the pool, and ALL the kids were having fun. Brax wanted to jump in over and over again…he honestly didn’t even care if he went under water. I’m also pretty sure that being in the pool with her cousins is one of Kinsie’s happiest happy places!

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The Boat Ride

We rented a boat while in Siesta Key, and it was such a fun and crazy day! We ate cinnamon rolls, got splashed by large waves, saw dolphins and manatees, got stuck on a sandbar, got lost, and had lunch at a restaurant on the water. We all loved every part of the crazy adventure…especially the dolphins!

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Lots of Much-Needed Family Time

I know, this is vague, and cheesy…but it’s true. Now that we live apart, time with family is so special. Especially with the kids…they all love each other so much and they are just giddy when they are all together. All of the kids have a special relationship and it is so fun watching them grow up together. And like I mentioned earlier, it was so nice having a full week of Ryan. The kids were all about Daddy all week!

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PART II: Disney World

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We spent the last 3 days of our trip at Disney World…and it was as magical as ever! It was SUPER crowded…more than I remember it ever being, but we still made the best of it and had a great time. The characters have always been Kinsie’s favorite part, and she still loved them, but oh my sweet Brax…he adored the characters! It melted my heart to see him stare in the face of Mickey Mouse in complete awe and give each character hug after hug. His reaction to seeing Mickey in the parade was priceless! Some of our other favorites of the day were Small World, the parade, the fireworks, and the Haunted Mansion ride. Kinsie talked about this ride ALL day, but the line was always too long. Finally after the fireworks, the line was down so we went. Kinsie fell asleep on Ryan’s shoulders on the way there, so we just let her sleep while we waited in line. We woke her up before we got on the ride and she LOVED it. She is still talking about it every day. It was a long but wonderful day!

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Animal Kingdom

This is another one of our favorite parks in Disney, and we really wanted to see all the new Avatar stuff (it was AMAZING by the way). It was ridiculously hot this day…like sticky, heavy, hard to breathe hot. But we powered through it and still enjoyed our day. We loved the safari, the characters, the Avatar ride, and the evening lights show on the water. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was worth it.

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Chef Mickey’s

My parents surprised the kids with tickets to Chef Mickey’s. I was probably just as excited as the kids to experience this! We went to a restaurant where Mickey and the gang danced around and came around to visit with everyone. The kids loved it and the food was on point!

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Disney Springs

We spent our last evening just walking around Disney Springs. The only other time I remember coming here, we were only there for a few minutes so we didn’t really get to enjoy it. It was so nice to just take our time and enjoy everything there was to see. We especially loved the Lego store and the T-Rex Cafe. We didn’t even eat there, we just walked around and played in the dino digging area!

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We had such a great trip and loved spending time with family, but we were also ready to be home. After lots of crowds, traffic and congestion, we were ready to be back in our quiet town. Our flights to and from Florida were both very eventful…we BARELY made it onto our flight on the way there…but after cutting everyone in the security line and sprinting to our gate, we made it. On the way back, we were on different flights from Orlando to Atlanta, but on the same flight from Atlanta to Little Rock. Ryan took Brax and I had Kinsie. Ryan’s flight was running a little later than scheduled, so as he got to the gate of the second flight, they were shutting the door and wouldn’t let him in. As he argued with the lady at the gate, I was talking to the captain and trying to see if he could get him on the plane. He was trying really hard to help us because he knew we were a family and we just wanted to get home. If they weren’t going to let him on, Kinsie and I were going to get off and we could all find a new flight together…although I really didn’t want to do that since the kids were exhausted and Kinsie had school the next day. The captain called the official Delta people and it was a long ordeal, but they FINALLY let him on. As he and Brax got on the plane, everyone applauded! Later when we got off the plane in Little Rock, everyone who passed by us said they were happy for us! It was a crazy experience, and we were SO happy to be home!

“Lake-ation” All I Ever Wanted

As you know, I am on summer vacation and Ryan started his 4th year of med school at the beginning of June. Since Ryan didn’t really get time off for vacation, we still wanted to find a way for a “get away” with the kids, so we spent almost a week at the lake in between his June and July rotations. We had an amazing time! It was like we were on vacation, but we also felt very at home. Here are some of the highlights of the trip…

Fishing

Surprised? Probably not! We love to fish and Kinsie has recently hopped on the bandwagon too. We fished off the dock. We fished on the pontoon. We fished near the marina. We fished as often as we could. Ryan had the best luck of all of us. We caught mostly bluegill and pumpkinseed fish, but also caught a catfish, a bass, and even a turtle!

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Swimming in the Lake

We swam in the lake on several occasions. We took Kinsie to the “beach” of the lake, and she was not a fan of the sand on the beach (after feeling the sand at Siesta Key, who can blame her?) but she loved swimming! I’m sure that in another year or two, Brax will be right there with her!

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Splash Pad

We took Kinsie to the splash pad at the clubhouse last year and she loved it, and of course she did again this year. Ryan had to go downtown for lecture on this day, so Grandma Bev, Uncle Nate and I took Kinsie to the pool area. She had a blast and Brax snoozed away!

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Tubing

We took Kinsie tubing once last year during Memorial weekend (one of the busiest weekends at the lake…not sure what we were thinking) and the water was way too rough for even me, let alone our not even 2-year-old at the time. She wasn’t too crazy about it then. We tried it again during the week and she loved it! She wouldn’t let go of the handles for her life, but she definitely enjoyed herself. Brax enjoyed watching us tube from the boat. Again…in another year or two, I’m sure both kids will be little dare devils on the tube like their daddy and Uncle Nate were when they were young!

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Riding on the Boat

This is always one of our favorite things to do. It is so relaxing and beautiful. We spent almost the entire day on the boat one day, and Brax took one of the best naps he’s ever had while on the boat. I joked that he and I would spend the night on the boat so I could get some sleep for once! We loved fishing off of the pontoon and watching the sun set into the lake. One night, my parents and niece and nephew came to visit, so the kids loved their boat ride together.

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S’mores

How could this not be one of the best parts of the trip? Cooking s’mores over the fire on a beautiful evening is always a good idea!

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4th of July Fun

Every year we spend the Saturday of 4th of July weekend at the lake and watch the fireworks from the boat. A lot of Ryan’s family always comes and spends the day as well, and Kinsie had a blast with her cousins running around, fishing, and doing sparklers. We even got to meet the newest member of the family, Ryan’s cousin’s daughter, born 6 weeks after Brax. We all had a great day!

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We had an awesome week. I was honestly really sad when it was time to go home. I didn’t get that feeling at the end of a vacation where you are excited to be home…I could have spent another month there! I am so grateful that we have this beautiful place available to us and that Ryan’s family always welcomes us there. It is one of our favorite places in the world and it  was the perfect little vacation for our family this summer.

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Kinsie and her Best Friend, Mickey Mouse

Shortly after finding out about Baby #2, we decided to take another Disney trip with Kinsie. We hadn’t been on a vacation in a while, and it will be much harder to travel for a while once the baby is born, so we figured this would be a great time to take Kinsie back to one of my favorite places in the world. She’s a complete Disney freak just like her mom, and she loved Disney World last year at only a year old, so we knew that this year, she would be beyond psyched! For our birthday and Christmas gifts this year, we just asked for money to help pay for the trip, so with the help of our families, we made it happen! Kinsie was pumped for weeks about this trip. She kept talking about going to “Mickey’s house,” and whenever she would see Cinderella’s Castle at the beginning of any Disney movie, she’d scream enthusiastically “That’s where we’re going!”

We had somewhat of a long night of traveling, but Kinsie was an absolute champ. This was her first plane trip in her own seat (thank goodness), and she just sat and watched Elmo the whole way there! Once we were in Orlando, we were transported a few times from hotel to hotel because the placed we booked months ago was overbooked, and she slept peacefully in the rental car…thank goodness considering it was 1:30am when we finally got to where we were staying!

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Day 1: Magic Kingdom

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This has always been my favorite park, probably because it is by far the most magical. I honestly wasn’t sure who was more excited…me or Kinsie! Ryan and I had planned out our whole day using a few different apps that told us what attractions to visit when considering the crowd and lines, so we were all set!

Highlights of Magic Kingdom:

  • Cinderella’s Castle – Kinsie had been talking about it so much beforehand, that she just marveled at it whenever she saw it! We got to see a lot of shows, fireworks, etc. in front of the castle, so we got lots of castle time!

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  • The Christmas parade – this is still what Kinsie says was her favorite part of the trip. The mid-day Christmas parade was awesome! We got to see all of our favorites…Mickey and friends, Santa Claus, and Kinsie’s absolute fave, Olaf! Disney never fails to make their parades magical and spectacular! Of course, my favorite part of the parade was the pure joy on my daughter’s face!

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  • Meeting Mickey- Magic Kingdom is the only place in Disney World where Mickey talks, so we knew we had to fit this in our day! When it was Kinsie’s turn to meet him, she was a little overwhelmed and didn’t really know what to do with herself! She did a little nervous dance and was super shy! She was in awe at meeting one of her favorite characters of all time!

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It turned out to be an amazing day. It was extremely crowded, but that didn’t impede our fun. The weather was perfect and Kinsie was one happy girl all day! The only time she got antsy was waiting in line to see Mickey…but with the help of the apps we used, that 25 minutes was the longest we waited all day. Our girl was wiped out as soon as we got in the car!

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Day 2: Animal Kingdom

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This is the only park that closes somewhat early, so we had to fit in all our fun in a shorter amount of time. Again, we used different apps to help us utilize our time. We had a little later start than we wanted since it was a late night the night before, but we still got in most of the attractions we wanted to do.

Highlights of Animal Kingdom:

  • The dinosaur ride – this is basically a dinosaur version of the Dumbo ride. You spin in circles for about 1 minute and then it’s done. But with Kinsie’s recent dinosaur craze, she was all about it. She actually cried when it was over!

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  • The safari ride- this is the best ride in the park…a safari ride to see all kinds of animals and wildlife. We especially loved the hippos, giraffes, and lions.

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  • The Tree of Life- I LOVE the Tree of Life and trying to spot as many animal carvings as possible in it. Kinsie liked climbing on the alligator!

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  • Meeting Mickey and Minnie- Let’s face it, with how happy she was meeting Mickey the day before, we had to take every chance we got to meet him again, and this time with Minnie Mouse too! My favorite part was Kinsie’s excited face before she met them! We also got to meet Goofy and Pluto during the day too!

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(Kinsie’s excited face)

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Again, another great day! The park closed at 7pm, so that left us time to go get ice cream, chill at our hotel for a little while and get to bed before midnight!

Day 3: Epcot

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This was the only day we didn’t have an actual “plan,” we figured it could be more of a go with the flow kind of day. I mainly wanted to see the World Showcase, and visit with characters, so that is what we did!

Highlights of Epcot:

  • World Showcase (Mexico)- this of course, was my favorite of the countries. I love learning more about my culture and sharing it with Kinsie. They even had a cute little boat ride similar to “it’s a small world,” that displayed lots of Mexican culture in a fun Disney sort of way!

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  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends- I forgot how awesome this whole exhibit is. There is a ride, then once it is over, there is a huge aquarium exhibit with fish, sea turtles, manatees (my fave), and a shark playground. We all loved it!

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  • Meeting characters- we got to meet a lot of characters at Epcot! We scouted them out and used our apps to figure out where they would be and when so we could beat the lines. Kinsie basically became BFFs with all of them. How could you not with the sweet little hugs and smiles she gave them?

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The only thing we didn’t get to do at Epcot that I really wanted to was see the fireworks. We could have stayed for them, but they didn’t start until 10:30 and we were wiped out! Kinsie said she wanted to go to sleep, and my pregnant body had really caught up with me from all the walking the last few days. Ryan was pretty tired too so we made the executive decision to call it a night before the fireworks.

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Our entire trip was amazing. It was the perfect last trip as a family of 3. I loved getting to spend a few days with my with favorite people in my favorite place in the world. And as I’m sure you could tell by the pictures, Kinsie was pretty happy too!

A Boot-Scootin’ Labor Day

Over Labor Day weekend, we traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to celebrate my dad and sister’s birthdays as a family. Kinsie is in that phase of life where you can’t really tell her things until right before we do them because she will get really excited and then get mad when we don’t do them right away. With this in mind, I hadn’t told Kinsie about the upcoming trip yet, but my dad spilled the beans and got her all pumped! She asked about the trip every day, multiple times a day, the week leading up. She would tell her toys and other random objects (like her toothbrush), “Bye! See you later! I’m going on a trip!” So once the moment finally came, she was stoked!

After I got off work and Ryan got home from Muncie (Yes, he is back in Muncie this month), we hit the road. I had plenty of movies, games, and toys to keep my busy toddler occupied in the car. She was an absolute champ in the car! Not once did she get bored or antsy. In fact, when we stopped somewhere to get food, she cried because she wanted to continue the road trip! She enjoyed listening to Barney music, watching episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and drawing on an Aquadoodle. As it started getting late, we stopped to put on her PJ’s and get her some milk, then “tucked her in” the car seat for bed. We hoped she’d sleep for the last couple hours since we wouldn’t get there until 10 or 11. Well, I guess she was just too excited to sleep. She never fell asleep, despite the fact that we arrived around 11pm! She wasn’t grumpy or anything, she just hung out and didn’t sleep. But of course she passed out as soon as we got there and put her in her bed!

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The next day, regardless of her getting to bed so late, she was up at the crack of dawn ready to start the day. She hadn’t seen her cousins yet, so she was itching to get out of the hotel room and see them. We met my parents and the kids at the Nashville Zoo, per Kinsie’s request. We had a blast even in the sweltering heat! As soon as we were leaving the zoo, Kinsie kept telling us how tired she was, and she wanted to lay down. She didn’t even want to eat lunch first, and we planned on heading straight to the Country Music Hall of Fame, where we thought would be a good place for her to take a nap in her stroller. She fell asleep almost instantly in the car on the way there, and then slept in her stroller for maybe 30 minutes before she woke up, as grumpy as could be. She was exhausted and hungry, but wouldn’t eat or sleep…every parent’s dream! She eventually settled down, and we headed back to the hotel to just relax for a while. We ordered carry out, and then ventured back out for ice cream. Kinsie (and Ryan and I) are always up for finding fun ice cream shops. We found a little place that had very unique flavors. We tried peanut butter ice cream, mango ice cream, salted caramel ice cream, and a few others. Kinsie’s favorite part, however, was the waffle cone! After a long day, we were all pretty spent. Kinsie crashed hard that night!

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The next day, we wanted to go to a very popular Pancake restaurant for breakfast, but as we pulled up, the line was wrapped around the entire building…so we went with Plan B…Dunkin Donuts! At least just to hold us over for a while. Then we walked around on the pedestrian bridge. We ended up just getting carry out from the pancake place for a late lunch. After naps, we took the kids swimming in the hotel’s indoor pool. Kinsie was SO happy getting to swim with her cousins! For dinner that night, we went to a nice sushi restaurant. They didn’t have high chairs, which I immediately knew was going to be a problem…mainly because our child is a nut and takes every chance she gets to waller anywhere and everywhere! She got a little ornery through the dinner, but we made it through by taking turns wrestling with her.

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We left Nashville on Monday morning after breakfast. Again, Kinsie was a winner in the car. She even napped for the last two hours…which I was very grateful for because I was exhausted too! With our busy schedules and limited budget, we don’t get to travel much these days, so it is always a blessing when we do. Since we are not in the city much, Kinsie saw crosswalk signs for the first time. Most people don’t think much of these…in fact, a lot of people don’t even notice them or how common they are in the city. Well, our random child became OBSESSED. Every time she would see one, she would point it out and say “My hand!” or “My person!” depending on which sign was lit up. She made it her mission throughout the entire weekend to scout them out around the city, and she would become giddy every time she would see one! My daughter teaches me something every day…but here she really taught me to enjoy the little things in life!

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A few hours after we got home, we ventured back out to take Kinsie to Frozen on Ice. This was kind of an early birthday gift, because she LOVES Olaf, and talks about Ana and Elsa on a regular basis as well. She was super excited to watch the “Oflaf show,” as she called it. Grandma Bev and Papa Tim gave her some money before the show to buy a souvenir, so between her toys that she picked out, the popcorn, and the great seats, she was in heaven! Mickey and Minnie opened the show, which was a fun surprise…but Kinsie cried when they left the stage. We had to reassure her that the real show hadn’t even started yet! She loved the show and danced around and waved to the characters. She even got to see her cousins before the show, so they were all showing off the different toys they got. On the way home, she was a little chatter box, retelling everything she remembered about the show. She even wanted to take her souvenirs to bed with her, but we compromised and put them on the table across from her bed so she could see them as soon as she woke up.

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Even though I know she probably won’t remember things like this, just seeing the pure joy on her face while it is happening makes it all worth it. A Happy Kinsie = a happy mommy. It was so nice to spend a whole weekend with Ryan and Kinsie without the distractions of jobs, school, and household chores. Quality time is my love language, so after a great weekend with them and the rest of my family, my love tank is full!

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So Long, Muncie!

Ryan is officially done with his second year of medical school…which also means that he is halfway to becoming a doctor and that he is DONE in Muncie!!! Those of you who have followed our journey know how hard this has been on us. When I was 7 months pregnant, we found out that Ryan would be at the Muncie campus for his first two years at IU Med School. I know it could have been worse…he could have not gotten in to IU, or he could have been placed in Evansville or South Bend, or somewhere else hours away. However, it was still a rough and unexpected turn that I wasn’t ready for, especially since we were due to have our first child in just a couple months. I would have moved to Muncie with him, but I didn’t think anyone would hire a teacher who would need a maternity leave right away. We ended up getting Ryan an apartment in Muncie where he would spend the majority of the week, then come home on the weekends. To say that the last two years was hard would be an understatement. It was exhausting working full time, raising a new baby, taking care of two dogs, and keeping up with all of the groceries and housework practically alone throughout the week  (and we all know new moms don’t get the best sleep). I do have to give a quick shoutout to mine and Ryan’s parents for all of their support, whether it was feeding Kinsie and I dinner, helping me clean or run errands, or simply encouraging me when I was overwhelmed. I appreciate it more than I can say! It was hard too for Ryan being away from his family during the week and spending most of his time studying in a lonely apartment. As challenging as it was…I know that God’s hand was on us. It turned out the be a blessing in disguise for several reasons. While I would have much rather had Ryan at the Indianapolis campus, he would have been in a much larger class. Instead, his Muncie class had 24 people, who have now become his best friends and an AWESOME support system for our family. I can’t thank them all enough for being there for all of us and welcoming me and Kinsie like we were family. Ryan being away also made us cherish our time together as a family. When he was away, that was his intense study time. When he was home, he would be fully engaged in us and did his best to be a loving, hands-on daddy and husband. I think being away from each other made us appreciate one another much more than if he were home each night. There have been many times in my life where things take an unexpected turn and I questioned God and wondered how I was going to handle it. But this situation proves that things are not always going to go according to our plan, but God has a better plan. We may not understand God’s plan, but it is ALWAYS better so we need to trust Him!

Kinsie and I are SO happy to have Ryan back home. He’s been home since the beginning of May, but he had to spend practically every second of his time studying for his STEP 1 Boards. This test is a big one and will determine where he can get into residency, so he made sure he studied hard. Even though it was difficult, I supported him needing to study all the time because how he does on this test will affect our future. Kinsie wasn’t quite as understanding…she would often shut Ryan’s laptop, hand him a book and climb up on the couch for him to read it to her. He took his test on June 3 and we were all thrilled for him to be done. The next step in his med school journey is clinical rotations for two years. Most of these will be in Indy, which we are relieved about! After 2 more years, he will officially be an M.D. However, then comes residency. Depending on what he specializes in and what score he gets on the STEP 1 will determine where he will go for residency. We are hoping to stay in Indianapolis, but he will need to apply all over the country. Wherever he goes, Kinsie and I will be going with him!

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In other news, I have completed my 3rd year of teaching! It was a really rough start of the year with many administration and student behavior issues, but those issues were resolved and it turned out to be a great year for me. I got really close to my class, which made it hard to send them off to the middle school. But I’m sure you can imagine how excited I am to be on summer break and get to spend more time with my sweet girl!

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Ryan only had 4 days in between his test and the start of his clinical rotations, and we wanted to take a little trip, but obviously couldn’t go somewhere too far since we only had a few days. We decided to go to Bloomington…home of our Alma Mater, Indiana University. We LOVE this town and there are so many fun things to do and see. We loved getting to show Kinsie all of our favorite spots on campus. We went to Wonderlab Science Museum, went hiking at Cascades Park, walked around Kirkwood Avenue and showed her around campus. Her favorite part was the clock tower at the Student Building near the Sample Gates, which she called the “big girl clock.” She would belly laugh and squeal whenever the bell would ring on the clock! We had some awesome quality family time before Ryan had to start “work” full time. It was a much needed mini-vacation!

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Exploring IU’s campus

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Obsessed with the “big girl clock!”

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This was her face while the clock was ringing

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Fun at Wonder Lab

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Cascades Park

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Branson Bound

Well, to say that the past couple of weeks have been busy would be a huge understatement. I will go into more detail on our busy few weeks later, but for now, I want to share an awesome vacation we took at the end of July to Branson with Ryan’s family! I may be like many of you who, when you think of Branson, Missouri, you automatically think of the movie “She’s Out of My League.” But don’t worry, we didn’t all get matching yellow sweatshirts that say “Branson Bound!” It was a great trip though, and of course, our sweet Kinsie had a blast!

Branson has so many fun things to do, and it is definitely one of those places where you have to plan out your trip ahead of time so that you can take full advantage of all the opportunities that you can during your stay. It was about an 8 hour drive, which, as a mother of a 10 month old, made me a little nervous. We tried to have plenty of toys and snacks to keep Kinsie entertained throughout the trip, and she was an absolute champ! She was definitely happy to get there and be able to stretch her legs and crawl around though! We stayed in a resort that had cute little cottages, restaurants, and a few pools. They also had a splash pad that Kinsie LOVED. The first full day we were there, we went to the pool area just to check it out, and Kinsie ended up spending at least an hour playing in the splash pad (she didn’t even have her swim suit on, but she didn’t care!)

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The next day, we went to the Silver Dollar City Amusement Park. It was a pretty cool park with rides, games, and shops. However, it definitely would have helped to have more indoor areas since it was 90 degrees outside! I spent most of my day trying to keep my little girl cool. Like usual, she still had fun! She loved spending the day in the Baby Bjorn with her daddy. We really wanted her to get to go on a ride, but there were limited options for her age. She ended up getting to ride the carousel for the first time and loved it! The only thing she didn’t like about the park was the train ride. Mainly because we were right in the front and the train had a very loud whistle. Every time the whistle was blown, she started crying. It broke my heart! Next time we ride a train, we’ll be sure to sit farther back where it isn’t as loud and maybe she’ll enjoy it a little more!

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One night after dinner, we went to a dock on Table Rock Lake. There were tons of fish and geese on the lake and we bought fish food to feed them. Kinsie loved sitting on the dock and feeding the fish!

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Kinsie’s favorite part of the trip was definitely the Promised Land Zoo. It is a family-owned zoo that had two parts, a walk-through part and a drive-through part. At this zoo, you could pet and feed most of the animals. It was awesome! Kinsie absolutely loved all of the animals. She was not afraid in the least bit like I’m sure many kids her age would probably be. When we went through the driving part, we drove slow enough that we could just hold her on our laps so she could see everything. She thought it was the coolest thing…which, it kinda was! The animals would just walk up to the windows in the car so you could feed them. It was an amazing experience! We’ve been joking now that when Kinsie gets a little older, she is going to want us to buy a zoo!

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On our last day, we rented a pontoon boat. It had an upper level and a slide. This wasn’t Kinsie’s first time on a boat, but she loved it all the same. She played, ate and even took a nap on the boat. What a life!

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On the way back home, we stopped at the St. Louis zoo. We figured it would be a nice break from the long car ride. We weren’t able to stay very long because it started storming, but for the time that we were there, we had a lot of fun. It was a little chilly and rainy, but that of course didn’t bother our little outdoor girl. We just wrapped her in a blanket and went on our way!

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We did a lot of other cool things while in Branson, including zip lining (which is awesome by the way…I highly recommend doing it sometime!), we went to see a show where two guys played music using buckets and other random objects, went to the fish hatchery, ate dinner at a great little Cajun restaurant (I am a Duck Dynasty wannabe), and lots more. It was so nice spending the week with Ryan’s family. This was the first time in at least 3 years that we were all able to go on vacation together. I know they all enjoyed it too, especially because they got to spend quality time with Miss Kinsie Kay. I mean, let’s be honest, she’s a pretty fun little chick to hang with!

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