And just like that…November is over and we are now in our last month of 2021. It’s so crazy to me how quickly this year is flying by. November was filled with lots of quality family time, which is always my favorite. Here is a recap of our month…
Kindergarten Field Trip
Braxton’s class went on a field trip to a nearby farm this month, and parents got to come along! It was a cold morning, but I LOVED spending quality time with my boy. He loved petting many of the animals, and most of all…holding a baby lamb!
Fall Walk on Campus
IU’s campus is always gorgeous in the prime of fall. It’s my favorite. So we always try to find a day to take a walk on campus during the peak of the leaves changing. Like usual, it didn’t disappoint!
First Dose for the Bigs!
I’ve been excited for this day for a LONG time…Kinsie and Braxton got their first dose of the Covid vaccine! Even though they are not a big fan of shots, they were ready for this one. They are excited to get closer to normalcy and to help protect their little brother who won’t be able to get his vaccine for a few more months.
My birthday was this month, and I never ask for much except to hang out with family. During the weekend before my actual birthday, we were at my parents’ house to hang out for the day while Ryan went to visit some friends. When he got back, my family surprised me with a cake and small birthday celebration!
We’ve had lots of great cousin time this month! My niece Kerigan had a small birthday party at an art studio, and the kids were ALL about it. They absolutely loved it!
My kids had the week off for Thanksgiving, so we spent a lot of time at my parents’ house. The big kids went to a movie with their cousins, played in the little snowfall we got, and just enjoyed playing together at Papa and Yaya’s house!
Fun at Home
We still spend a lot of time at home during the weekends or after school. This month the kids enjoyed doing Christmas crafts, watching deer out the kitchen window, coloring, dressing up Bob the boxing guy, and just playing together and coming up with creative games.
And of course we get outside as often as we can too! The kids have loved walking down to the woods behind our house and climbing rocks!
My birthday gift from my parents was a night getaway to Brown County while they watched the kids. It was EXACTLY what I needed. Ryan and I got to spend the day in Brown County, just the two of us. We took a hike in the state park, had some amazing meals and snacks, went shopping, did a wine tasting, and just relaxed. We loved the quality time together and definitely need it more often!
Thanksgiving is always a busy, but wonderful day for us. We started the day at Ryan’s parents’ lake house for a delicious Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan’s side of the family. The kids loved playing with their cousin Griffin, and Nate’s dog, Alfie!
Later in the afternoon, we made our way to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family. The kids always have a blast at the cousin table, and Brody even joined them! It was a busy, chaotic day, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Days like this make us realize how blessed we really are to not have just one, but TWO wonderful families that we can spend the holidays with.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…
I love Christmas time. When we lived in Arkansas, I always decorated early because we usually spent the week of Christmas in Indiana with our families, so I wanted to be able to enjoy our Christmas decorations longer. Now I don’t really have that excuse, I just decorate early because I love it! I was especially excited to decorate my new house for Christmas for the first time! Last year, we didn’t have much space, and most of our Christmas stuff was in storage, so we were all excited to get it ALL out this year and have an abundance of space to put it all. Brody loves all the Christmas lights, and every time he passes the tree, he points and says “Ooooh!”
Brody is 18 Months!
Our crazy little Covid baby is 18 months old! It’s hard to believe that his entire life has been in a pandemic, and he has no idea! He is still the happiest, craziest, most active little dude. He still has a severe case of stranger danger, but he knows who is in his circle and he welcomes them with open arms!
Some fun facts about our Bro at 1.5 years…
He LOVES to talk. He knows everyone’s name in his family, and he knows a lot of words. He also babbles on and on for minutes at a time as if he’s having a full conversation with us! My favorite words that he says (that we can understand), are banana (nana), shoes, (oosh), and cookie.
He loves to color and explore art. But he’s still learning that we only color on paper!
He has his first official “lovey,” a stuffed animal Pluto that he found in Brax’s old stuffed animals. He loves it so much! He carries it everywhere, sleeps with it, and calls it “Woof Woof.”
He LOVES snacks. Just like his brother. He often does not want anything to do with his meals, but he wants snacks all day long. And he can open the pantry by himself, so he is constantly getting in the pantry and gathering up the snacks he wants.
His favorite foods are cottage cheese, cheese sticks, bananas, and veggie straws.
He still loves being outside, or leaving the house in any way. He gets SO excited at the chance to play outside, or put on his shoes to go somewhere…even if it’s just taking his brother and sister to school.
He loves to dance…especially to the songs from any Mickey Mouse show!
He loves books…and lucky for him, there are now 4 people in his family that are able to read to him.
He loves Mickey Mouse and Baby Shark.
He hates having his picture taken…but I love taking his picture, so I’ve had to get creative to get any decent pictures of him! This often involves me chasing him around while singing songs and making a fool of myself just to make him laugh!
He doesn’t always like to wear clothes. He will often remove his own shirt or pants and run around almost naked!
He is absolutely wild and exhausting, but he is also hilarious and so stinking cute! We are all still so obsessed with him in every way!
As I was writing this blog post, I looked back at my old blog posts from when Kinsie and Braxton turned 18 months. Braxton and Brody are SO much alike! Brax went through some really difficult toddler phases, but now he is an absolute gem so I’d be ok if I raise another one just like him!
And that was our November. Overall, we didn’t do much other than the everyday hustle and bustle. But we love our time at home or at my or Ryan’s parents’ houses just spending time as a family. That is what fills our buckets. We are looking forward to the Christmas season and all the joy and magic it brings!
Enjoy our November 1SE…its a whole lot of Brody squeals and dancing!
We were genuinely enjoying our warm, summer days…until August. August was HOT. It felt like we were back in Arkansas. It was hard to be outside at all…even early in the morning. August was also a rough month Covid-wise. The big kids started school in middle of this scary Delta surge, Ryan is back to wearing his N95 mask for his entire shift, and I’m back to treating Brody like Rapunzel and holding him captive inside the safety of our home. Between the potential of Delta invading my vulnerable unvaccinated kids, and it being hotter than Hades outside, we have spent a whole lot of time at home…which luckily, we LOVE our home. But for a busy, active toddler, we’ve become a bit stir crazy again!
Here is how our August went…
Days at the Playground
I really should rephrase this “Day at the Playground…” singular. We were only able to go once this month because it was too darn hot. The weekend before school started the weather was fantastic, so we spent a lot of it outside. After that, no way. But I’m glad we took advantage of that early August day and had a family day at the park. Brody LOVED it. He climbed everywhere on his own and dove down the slide head first over and over!
Walk by the Waterfall
After we played on the playground, we took a walk back by our favorite waterfall! The kids always have fun looking for critters and throwing rocks.
Kinsie starts 2nd grade!
Kinsie couldn’t wait to start school! She was excited to meet her teacher and see her friends again. She has absolutely loved her first few weeks. She even wants to play school at home all the time and do the activities with Brax that she does at school.
Kinsie was also especially excited to get to ride the bus. In Kindergarten, she went to a charter school and they didn’t have buses. And last year, we lived out of her school boundaries for most of the school year so we had to drive her. So now she finally got to ride the bus. She has been enjoying it, even though there is a bus driver shortage and many of the bus drivers have to do multiple routes, causing her bus to be late most days. The boys have enjoyed taking trips to the bus stop too!
Braxton starts Kindergarten!
Brax has loved starting Kindergarten this month! He is doing the half day program at the church that he did Pre-K last year. Since he is a May birthday, we’re doing Kindergarten this way so we can help make the best choice for him on whether to send him on to 1st grade at Kinsie’s school next year, or repeat Kindergarten at Kinsie’s school next year. Either way, he is excited to get to ride the bus with her next year!
He enjoyed his Kindergarten orientation, and getting to see some old friends from Pre-K, and meeting new friends!
Last year, he cried the first few days of school when we dropped him off. Not this year! He is so excited to go to school every day! He loves his teacher, and he loves getting to eat lunch at school every day this year.
I’ve been working on sight words with him for about a year now, and he has made a lot of progress, but he has never been quite as enthusiastic about learning as Kinsie was. Just in the last few weeks though, it has really clicked for him! He is reading independently now, and becoming more confident! His teacher said he is one of the stronger readers in his class! We are so proud of him!
Adventures at Home with Brody
Since the big kids are in school now most of the day, Brody isn’t always sure what to do without them. Sometimes he gets bored with me, but most of the time he enjoys having all the toys to himself!
On another note, this kid is nuts. He climbs into and onto everything. He often runs off when I’m not paying attention for a minute, and I find him in my shower or in the tupperware cabinet! I give him full credit as to why I’m so exhausted every night!
Brax was really excited to do soccer again after last season. He got to move up to U6, which includes 30 minutes of coach-led activities, and 30 minutes of scrimmage. He absolutely LOVES it, and he is really good! He is very aggressive and a great team player!
Kinsie and Brody enjoy being in Brax’s fan club. Kinsie always packs snacks and toys to entertain Brody during soccer. She’s the best big sis!
Kinsie has been wanting to do gymnastics ever since she stopped when Covid hit last year. I wasn’t comfortable with her doing it for a long time since it’s indoors. However, I found a place here in town that people really recommend, and has good Covid protocols in place, so I finally gave her the green light. She has been loving it!
Ryan worked a lot of weekends this month, so when he finally had a weekend day off, we decided to spend it at the lake. We enjoyed fishing, a boat ride, swimming, and playing with Uncle Nate’s new pup, Alfie.
One weekend, Ryan worked multiple 12 hour night shifts in a row. My aunt and cousins and their kids came to town to swim at my parents’, so my sister’s family and me and the kids came to hang out as well. The kids always love cousin swim time, and they especially loved my aunt’s famous dirt and worms treat!
Brax started school a week after Kinsie, so when he was still on summer vacation, we took a few walks around the trails. It’s always nice to get outside and see some nature, and watch these precious brothers enjoy each other’s company.
While Kinsie really has enjoyed riding the bus, it did bring her first (and HOPEFULLY last) quarantine. About 2 weeks into school, she was identified as a close contact from the bus. There were apparently multiple positive cases on the bus. Luckily, all the kids wear their masks on the bus and all day at school, which I truly think kept her healthy. However, the school protocol is that if you’re a close contact, you have to quarantine. The contact tracing process takes a while, so we didn’t find out until about a week after her exposure. This could have been bad if she would have been infected, but luckily she wasn’t, and she only had to miss a few days of school. We didn’t even get her tested because she had no symptoms and it wouldn’t have changed her quarantine time.
She had to do some of her schoolwork at home during this time, which she has never been a fan of. She was really bummed, but we had to remind her that it could be a lot worse, and if she had gotten sick, she would have had to miss a lot more school.
She was especially sad to miss Art class and choice time, so I let her paint and do as much art as she wanted. This has always been her stress relief anyway!
I’m not going to get too much into the whole thing about kids wearing or not wearing masks at school, because it’s been a MAJOR debate around the country. You probably already know what side of the debate I’m on since I’ve been pro-science since day one. However, I will say…it really bothers me when people don’t worry about kids getting Covid, brushing it off as not a big deal because they won’t die from it, or even that most kids have mild cases. While that is true for most kids (not all), people need to remember the mental impact that getting Covid, or even just having an exposure, has on these kids. Kinsie only had to miss 3 days of school, and she was devastated. She laid her head in my lap and cried because she couldn’t be at school. She didn’t understand why she was being punished, when she has been SO careful. She always wears her mask, even at recess. She washes her hands so much that they get raw. She has understood the seriousness of this virus from day one and understood the need to protect other people. Yet, with some bad luck, she was still exposed. Luckily she didn’t get sick. Do you know why she didn’t get sick? Because the kids were wearing their masks! But anyway, please consider these poor kids having to miss school from getting sick or being close contacts before you brush it off as not a big deal. Even missing school for a few days is a big deal to them. And many kids aren’t as lucky as Kinsie was. MANY children are being hospitalized with Covid around the country. Also, if you haven’t already, please get vaccinated! That is the best way to protect these precious, innocent, vulnerable kids. And you better believe the SECOND that a vaccine becomes available for my kids, I will be signing them up!
We are really looking forward to September, and fall in general. Summer has been great, but we’re ready for some cooler temps and fall traditions. We are also looking forward to getting closer to the vaccine being available for my big kids (Brody may have to wait until early 2022), and for Ryan to soon get his booster shot. We’re hoping both of those things happen in the next month or two! In the meantime, my kids are staying masked up, Ryan has been shaving daily again to make sure his N95 fits his face, and I’ll be staying home with Brody. We are praying that we can all stay healthy through this Delta surge, while still enjoying our favorite season!
I see a trend happening here. Each month seems a little more like normal, and each month is MUCH better than the same month last year. This same time last year was rough, and even though it brought us back to our home in Indiana, and brought us our sweet Brody, it is a time of my life that still gives me heart palpitations when I think about it. This year is better. This year is more normal, and even though I’m watching my kids like a hawk to keep them safe since they can’t yet be vaccinated, we at least feel safe enough to go certain places and do certain activities. This June felt a little more like summer as the way it should be, and it was refreshing!
Here is our June went down…
A Weekend at the Dunes
If you recall, my sweet Abuelita passed away last April. This was right when Covid hit hard, and with our family living in all different states, we couldn’t get together for a long time. Now, a good chunk of us are vaccinated and things are overall getting better, so we planned a celebration of life. We had a short outdoor ceremony at the burial site where my grandpa is already buried. She had such an amazing life and legacy, and she is now in heaven with her Beto instead of trapped in her broken mind here on Earth, so it truly was a celebration.
After the ceremony, everyone met at the Indiana Dunes State Park. We reserved a shelter, and had lots of Covid-friendly individually-wrapped food. It was great to get to see some of my family that I haven’t seen in over a year – maybe more. We also spent some time at the Lake Michigan beach. The kids LOVED it! They haven’t been to Florida, or any vacation for that matter, in a long time so they were loving it.
That evening, we put the kids to bed in the hotel room (they were EXHAUSTED), used our phones as a baby monitor, and spent some time hanging out with my aunts, uncles, and cousins in the lobby just talking and laughing. It was so refreshing and a great time!
This was the month of the cicadas! This was the year of the 17 year life cycle of cicadas where they emerged from underground and flew amok. The kids were ALL about it! Kinsie particularly was so fascinated by them, and even researched them to find out as much as she could about them…and wrote a book about them! (See video below) Certain parts of Indiana were swarmed with cicadas, including Bloomington. One evening, we had a picnic on campus and took a walk afterwards. IU’s campus was seriously invaded by cicadas. They were all over all the trees and buildings, and they would fly around and land on us. It sounds creepy, but it was actually really fun!
Walking through the very LOUD trails on campus.
The kids kept catching cicadas and holding them and becoming friends with them.
Enjoy this video of Kinsie reading her book about cicadas that she wrote.
Kinsie’s first softball season is now in the books. She had a great season and improved SO much! Her team was so much fun to watch. They had their end of the season tournament this month. They won their first game, but barely lost in the championship game (8-9). Even though they got 2nd place in the tournament, they were still the regular season champs! I think Kinsie enjoyed it and wants to play again next season!
Ryan and I haven’t been on an anniversary date in YEARS. Four years ago, we were moving and doing the 10 hour drive from Indiana to Arkansas, and were in different vehicles so we barely spent any time together. Then the next 2 years he was either working or we just couldn’t afford a babysitter, and last year, he was still in Arkansas finishing residency and the kids and I were living in Indiana with my parents for the month. Now the stars finally aligned and we were able to have an evening out together. Ryan worked the early shift that day and was off by 3, and we had his mom and aunt come down to watch the kids. We went to dinner, took a walk around campus, and ran to a few stores. It wasn’t much, but it didn’t need to be much. Just being together, without kids was so nice and relaxing and something we don’t get nearly enough of.
We’ve been enjoying my parents’ pool as often as we can this summer. Whenever we go there to swim, the kids swim literally the entire day. They only get out to eat and pee. I haven’t taken many pool pictures this summer because I’m usually fully hands-on with Brody. He is like Forky and trash with the water – he is constantly speed crawling toward the pool!
We haven’t been able to spend as much time at the lake as we normally like to with the weather and Ryan’s schedule, but when we do, we soak it in. Ryan was luckily off work for Father’s Day weekend, so we spent the day at the lake. It was just Ryan’s immediate family – his parents, his sister and her family, and his brother. It was such a fun, relaxing and beautiful day. The kids always love playing with their cousin Griffin. Brody enjoyed the water table, kiddie pool, and baby slide. We ended the day with a good dinner and a boat ride.
We’ve had a good mixture of beautiful summer days, and dreary rainy days. On those days, at least we have this beautiful house to enjoy! The Nugget is still a huge hit. Brody spends a good majority of his days climbing all over it.
When Brody was napping one day, we tried something new with the big kids. We made the Nugget into a giant slide on the stairs. This kept them entertained for a while!
Life with Brody is always fun and never boring. He loves climbing into and onto anything he can find – including his sister, his brother’s laundry hamper, and the beanie baby bin!
We also recently got a good deal on a new kids’ camera for them to share. It came with a green screen so they can do fun animation videos and news reports!
Life is never boring in this household!
Soaking up All the SUMMER
Last summer, we did “summer things” but it was a lot harder with a newborn and my postpartum self, and a pandemic, and Ryan not even being with us half the summer. So this year, we are trying harder to do ALL the things.
Morning at the Park
Brax has been asking to go to a playground for a while. He really wanted to go to the playground at the park where he played soccer. One morning before it got too hot, we loaded up and went to the park. There was a daycare there with probably 20 kids, so my kids masked up, kept their distance, and still had a great time.
Slip n Slide
Brax and Brody got several new water toys for their birthdays, and we’ve slowly been trying them out. Their favorite is probably the slip and slide! Ryan even went a step further and put baby soap on it to make it extra slippery. This kept the kids entertained for hours!
Even Brody took a few turns on it!
Kiddie Pools, Sprinklers, and Slides…oh my!
Living in Arkansas without a pool in our backyard, we had to find ways to survive the hot summer days. The kids spent almost every day in the summer playing in the water table, sprinklers, and kiddie pools. Last summer once we moved to Bloomington, our rental house didn’t even have a hose spigot…so we couldn’t do any of those things. When we built our new house, we made sure we didn’t have that problem! The kids have been all about their water toys this year, and now Brody loves getting in on the action too!
They love their snack breaks!
Walks on the Trail
We’re still discovering parks and trails near our new home, so we try to spend mornings or evenings finding new areas. We love taking walks and the kids like bringing their scooters or bikes on the trails. Lately, the kids got new Fitbits, so they enjoy running on the trails to try and meet their Fitbit goals!
Other Outside Fun
Even on the days where we don’t spend the entire day outside, we still try to get our daily vitamins D dose, even if its just an hour, by playing on the driveway with wagon rides, bubbles, or hitting softballs.
Cincy Zoo Day
It has been a few years since we’ve been to our favorite zoo in Cincinnati. Kinsie still talks about their baby hippo, Fiona, often, and I promised her that once we moved back to Indiana, we would go visit her. Well, Covid made that hard to do last year, so we made it happen this year.
We woke up early and drove the 2.5 hours to the Cincinnati Zoo. To limit crowds, you have to make reservations on the day you want to visit the zoo. Well, I’m not sure exactly how many reservations they allow on one day, because it was SO crowded. It was possibly more crowded than any other day we’ve been there, NOT during Covid. My guess is that they only make non-members make reservations, and members can go anytime they please. It definitely made it harder since the kids aren’t vaccinated, but we did the best we could to keep safe and still have fun.
We went to the Hippo Cove to see Fiona twice. In the morning, she was sleeping. When we came back in the afternoon, she was very active! We stayed for a while and watched her swim around like a ballerina!
Kinsie and Brax wore their masks a lot that day. Whenever we had space to ourselves, I let them have breaks, but because it was so crowded, they didn’t get as many mask breaks as I hoped. But they didn’t care, they are champs. They were just happy to be at the zoo. And like usual, Brody was either in the stroller or I was wearing him in the Ergo carrier. If there was ever a crowded exhibit, I just stayed back with Brody away from people and Ryan took Kinsie and Brax to go see it. Overall, we had a great day at our favorite zoo!
Bloomington has a great science lab for kids. Ryan’s mom and sister bought us a family membership for Brax’s birthday last year, but we weren’t able to use it for a long time due to Covid. Now we finally got to visit and it was a wonderful morning! The kids (and Ryan) LOVED everything here. You have to sign up for 2 hour windows, which was the perfect amount of time to see and do everything there.
The kids especially loved the water and bubble area. They even had a baby section that Brody loved. I was SO impressed with their cleanliness and sanitation here. In the baby section, a family could sign up for a 20 minute window to let their child explore, and when their window was up, the staff came around and sanitized EVERYTHING. Everyone above the age of 2 was required to wear a mask, and they truly only allowed a certain number of people in the museum at a time. They had hand sanitizing areas everywhere, and I saw the staff cleaning the areas down often. I told the staff how impressed I was, and I wish more places took it as seriously as they did. Science for the win!
It was such a good June. Much better than last June. I like this trend, and I hope it continues. I just can’t wait until my kids can get vaccinated so we can truly feel safe going places and being around people. I wish more people would trust science and get the vaccine so we can truly put this all behind us…but at least for now, we are better off than we were this time last year. Baby steps I guess!
We had a very busy May, and it felt great to be *somewhat* back to normal. We celebrated 2 very special birthdays, the kids finished their school year and stayed busy in sports, and we got to have lots of semi-normal spring and summer fun. It was refreshing!
Braxton’s Surprise Birthday Trip
For the first time in over a year, we took a family weekend trip! We did a surprise birthday trip for our big 5 year old. We didn’t tell him where we were going, so he enjoyed the suspense knowing we were going somewhere special for his birthday weekend.
Day 1: Kentucky Down Under
We drove about 3 hours to Cave City, Kentucky. The first surprise was Kentucky Down Under. Ryan and I came here with his family when we were engaged, so we knew the kids would love it. It’s an interactive zoo with lots of fun outback animals to see and interact with. This was really Brody’s first time at a zoo too!
The kids loved the area where you can feed the birds and they climb all over you. Even Brody tried to grab the birds!
We also loved the outback area where there were kangaroos, emus, and some farm animals openly wandering around. You could buy cups of food to feed the animals. The kids were in heaven and Ryan made best friends with all the animals of course!
The park was mostly outdoors, so overall we felt pretty safe and comfortable. We kept our masks handy and wore them when we couldn’t distance ourselves from other people. Brody spent his time either in the stroller or in the Ergo carrier, and we did our best to keep him away from people since he can’t wear a mask. He was a trooper! He seemed to enjoy a new environment since he doesn’t get out much. He even took a decent stroller nap in the afternoon.
The animal show was not super “Covid friendly” since they bunched everyone together in a small amphitheater. I just wore Brody in the carrier and stood to the side away from everyone, and Ryan and the kids wore their masks. The kids still enjoyed the show, and they loved getting to pet (and hold) the snake!
The kids had a great day and they loved the park! Brax still asks us all the time when we can go back!
Time at the Hotel
This was Brody’s first time staying in a hotel. It was an interesting experience! I couldn’t just let him crawl around since hotel floors are gross, and I couldn’t let him play on the bed much because he would try to dive off. We ended up setting up his pack ‘n’ play and letting him play in there… but he isn’t a huge fan of being contained! That evening we let Brax open his gift, and we got carry out and ate in the room. We were all tired from our busy day so we just took it easy and played in the room and watched TV.
Brody did not understand bed time with us all in the same room. We turned off all the lights, and I set the kids up with a show on the iPad while Brody fell asleep. I figured he’d be exhausted, but he thought it was party time! He just kept standing up in his bed and talking and screaming happily. After maybe 45 minutes, he finally sat down and passed out. He was up and at ’em early in the morning and woke us all along with him. But it was Brax’s birthday so we were excited to start the day!
Day 2: Dinosaur World
On the drive, we told Brax to look for clues for where we were going for his big birthday surprise. He finally saw a huge dinosaur statue and started to get an idea! He was so excited!
We spent all morning exploring Dinosaur World. It isn’t a huge park, and most people could go through the whole thing in maybe an hour, but we spent more time than usual because Brax wanted to see and read every single thing possible. There was a walk through the woods where you would see life-size dinosaur statues, and Brax wanted a picture with every single one! Later I took all the pictures from Dinosaur World and put them all in a Shutterfly book with facts about each dinosaur so he could look at it whenever he wanted!
There was also a fun dinosaur-themed playground and we let the kids play for a while. Even Brody enjoyed it! After a while, we let the kids pick out something from the gift shop, then we left. Brax LOVED Dinosaur World. He said he wanted to live there! It was a perfect place to spend his birthday!
We told Brax he could choose anywhere he wanted for lunch. Or if he wanted a certain type of food, we could find something. Of all the possibilities, he chose Wendy’s!
Ryan’s parents were watching our dog for the weekend, so we had them meet us back at home so we could eat dinner together and get ice cream for dessert. Brax requested our favorite ice cream shop, Jiffy Treat. He had a wonderful 5th birthday and couldn’t wait to tell his teachers and friends about his weekend!
Ryan had to work in the afternoon, so we spent the morning together as a family. It was a gloomy, rainy day, so while Brody took his morning nap, we all watched a movie together. Once Brody woke up and Ryan headed to work, the kids and I spent the afternoon at my parents’ house. It was laid back and relaxing, and the kids just enjoyed having fun together like usual!
For Brody, every day is Mother’s Day!
The kids made a “stuffed animal parade” along the balcony. This is just an example of the many creative things they do when they play together!
On May 4th, I got my 2nd Covid vaccine! I thought Star Wars Day was a good day to become fully vaccinated, and I prepared with an appropriate band-aid. I did have some symptoms with this vaccine, but it was tolerable. Once the kids were in bed that evening, I started having chills and body aches. I didn’t sleep great, but I was able to rest a little the next day and manage the body aches with Advil. By about 24 hours post vaccine, I was completely fine. 100% worth it!
My sister got me this amazing hat so that WHEN I feel comfortable going out in public without my mask, at least people will know that I am vaccinated!
I’m not going to lie, spring weather has not shown its face as often as I’d like at this point in the year. We’ve had so many random cold and rainy days. BUT, we take advantage when we can. Brody is a little outdoor boy. He loves it! He has been enjoying his new outdoor toys like his swing and walking lawn mower.
Whenever Renata comes over, she always tries to do something fun with the kids. One day she brought stuff for the kids to paint birdhouses and flower pots.
Enjoying the outdoors whenever they can!
It has only been warm enough to set up the water table once or twice, but when we do, Brody gets real excited. He splashes like crazy and gets himself soaked immediately!
It’s an annual tradition to start the swimming season by all the cousins jumping in the pool together holding hands (Brody will join someday!)
Lake season has started as well and we’re real excited about it! We were there a lot last summer, but Brody was such a tiny baby he obviously couldn’t enjoy it much. Now he loved it. He wasn’t crazy about the boat ride, but mainly because he didn’t like wearing his life jacket. The big kids loved swimming and riding the paddle boat with their cousins!
Dinosaur Birthday Bash
Since the boys’ birthdays are only 2 weeks apart, we decided to have a combined birthday party for them. Brax was really excited to share his party with his brother! We let him pick the theme and of course he picked dinosaurs! Since Covid is still a factor, AND we still don’t know very many people in our town yet, we stuck with a small family-only party…just the people the kids are closest to.
We were excited to finally get to host something at our new house! I had a lot of help prepping for the party – even if it was just someone coming to entertain the kids so I could clean! Ryan’s sister Megan made me some banners and the matching shirts for the birthday boys. And Aunt Renata made her famous cookies! We ordered Jimmy Johns for the main food and I ordered cakes from a local lady who has a side cake business. They turned out really cute!
I didn’t have a whole lot of activities planned, but I didn’t have to. These kids are all so close they can have fun doing anything!
It was a team effort to open presents. I helped Brax, and Ryan helped Brody. Kinsie and a few of the cousins delivered the presents to the boys when they were ready for another present to open. Brody was so funny opening his presents. He would open one, then want to play with the toy and wouldn’t want to put it away to open the next. And he continued to get distracted and tried to crawl away. When he opened a jumbo pack of Puffs (his favorite snack), he was so excited and didn’t want to put them down!
We all sang “Happy Birthday,” and dug into the cake and ice cream. Brody got his own special smash cake!
Of course we all had to be dressed in our dinosaur gear!
Brody loved his smash cake! He seemed to enjoy eating the cake, but honestly, he didn’t eat THAT much. He mainly just played in the cake. He loved squishing it between his fingers and rubbing it in his hair!
My kids LOVE doing the piñata, so we made sure we got one. Now that most of these kids are playing softball or baseball now, they broke into the piñata sooner than they ever had in the past!
It turned out to be a great party. The week leading up to party day, the forecast said it was 100% chance of rain. Somehow, it turned out to be a perfect, beautiful day. After the party activities, the adults hung out and talked and the kids all ran around in the backyard and the basement. It was a great day!
Brody’s FIRST Birthday
Our littlest love turned ONE this month! Since we had the party the day before, we had somewhat of a low-key birthday for our boy (after all, it was a Monday!) The kids still had school, but Ryan was off work so Brody got to spend the morning with mommy and daddy.
After Ryan dropped the kids off at school, he stopped to get Brody his first official birthday donut. He was a big fan!
Once the kids were home, we set up Brody’s gift in the basement and brought him down to see it. He loves tents, so we got him a pop up tent and tunnel, and bought balls to put in it. He LOVED it! Kinsie and Brax enjoyed playing in it with him too!
In the evening, we got Culver’s for dinner and Brody loved his first cheeseburger. We also got ice cream for dessert. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him and let him try some ice cream. You could tell he liked the taste, but it was too cold…he kept making a shivering sound! We ended up letting him have some of his leftover smash cake for dessert and he enjoyed that too. He had a great day!
Sports kept us very busy this month! Brax had soccer once a week, and Kinsie had softball practice once a week, and at least one game a week. Normally, Brax’s soccer and Kinsie’s practices were at the same time on Saturdays, so Ryan and I had to divide and conquer. But a few times, Kinsie’s practice got cancelled so we got to see Brax play soccer.
Kinsie has improved TREMENDOUSLY this season. She started the season barely hitting the ball and she wasn’t the best at fielding either. But between my dad, Ryan, and her coaches, she has gotten so much better! She gets on base every game now and even gets in on the fielding action! We are so proud of her progress!
End of the School Year
The end of the school year is always a fun time. We were so sad that the kids didn’t get to experience it last year.
Braxton got to celebrate his birthday at school this month. He got to bring the snack that day (we brought pre-packaged cupcakes), and the class sang to him while he wore the birthday hat!
Brax also had an end of the year program. There were only 2 guests per child allowed, we had to wear masks the entire time and space out in the auditorium. Luckily, Grandma Bev came down to watch Kinsie and Brody so that Ryan and I could go to the program. Brax was all business throughout his songs, then at the VERY end he did a crazy face pose!
Brax had a WONDERFUL school year. We absolutely loved his school, and we are looking forward to Brody getting to attend there someday. His teachers were amazing, and he made significant growth this year – both emotionally and academically. He made some great friends too! He will be attending the half day Kindergarten program next year at the same school, then he’ll be moving on to Kinsie’s school after that!
Kinsie loved her end of the school year too. Their class counted down the last 10 days of school with 10 fun activities – such as stuffed animal day, an ice cream snack, watching a movie, and working with a partner for the day. Her school district has been very cautious with Covid all year, so they avoided a lot of normal end of the year activities…but they still made it special for the kids. She is looking forward to things becoming more normal as time goes on so she can experience all the fun normal school activities!
How amazing are our kids though? They had the craziest year, but they got through it with a smile on their face (under their mask!) They didn’t let all the unknown and crazy of the world bother them. They were just happy to be at school and see their friends. I wish adults could be more like kids!
Beginning of Summer Vacation
The first few weeks of summer vacation were not exactly summer weather. It rained or was 60 degrees or less most days, so we spent a lot of time indoors. Luckily, we had a few new toys that kept them busy! My mom saved ALL of my beanie babies from when I was little – specifically for her grandkids to someday play with. Now that we were settled into our house, my parents brought over the tubs (yes, multiple) of beanie babies. The kids LOVED going through all of them and sorting them into categories. And I may have enjoyed looking through them as much as they did!
We also spent time playing in the tent and doing some virtual reality. Yes, Ryan got new toys too!
The best new toy, however, is the Nugget. My sister-in-law first told me about these months ago, and I knew I wanted one once we were in the new house. I ordered one back in March when we moved in, but they are VERY popular, so they were backordered about 2 months. Well, our long awaited delivery came just in time for summer vacation. So far the kids have been OBSESSED!
They have used it as a couch, a fort, a slide, and a climbing ramp. I think Brody may love it the most!
Last year on Memorial Weekend, I was in the NICU with Brody at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and was less than a week away from moving to another state. This year, we got to spend it together as a family with a happy, healthy, crazy little one year old!
We went to my parents’ house on Sunday to watch the race and have a pool day. Most of the day it was actually pretty cool – too cold to swim in my opinion. But the kids didn’t care! Even though it was only 65 degrees outside, they spent the majority of the day in the pool. In the late afternoon, the temps finally seemed high enough for Brody to get in the pool. At first we let him sit on the side and watch the kids, but he kept trying to dive in so we figured he wanted to get in!
Brody loved the pool…just like I figured he would. He is a huge fan of the bath and splashes like crazy, and he was the same way in the pool. I have a feeling this little guy will keep me busy this summer!
We spent the night at my parents’ house that night so we could wake up and head straight to the lake the next morning. It was only Ryan’s parents and his brother at the lake that day, which was nice! When Brody was napping, we went fishing with the kids. At first they were nervous to hold the fish, but eventually they got brave enough to do it, and then they didn’t want to stop!
Once Brody woke up, we let him see one of the fish we caught. And, like I figured he would, he tried to eat it!
Last winter, Ryan’s parents bought a camper to keep at the campgrounds. We drove golf carts down to the campgrounds to see it for the first time. We loved seeing the camper of course, but the big highlight was the cicadas! They were EVERYWHERE around the campgrounds. Kinsie is obsessed. She would find them at recess and play with them, and already knows all kinds of facts about them. Now she got Brax and Brody into them too. They were collecting them and playing with them. Kinsie even took one back to the lake house with her and made a little habitat in a jar. She has always been my nature girl!
We ended the evening with a boat ride. This time, I just wore Brody in the Ergo carrier and he enjoyed it much more this time! We had a great weekend together!
We had a wonderful month of May. It felt more like the way it should be. I know things are not completely back to normal, and I won’t feel 100% better until my kids are able to get vaccinated, but it is SO nice that Ryan and I are both fully vaccinated. I feel a little more comfortable going places now, especially outside. My kids are kind of socially awkward and don’t get close to people they don’t know anyway, so it works out! We are hoping to spend a lot of our summer days enjoying our own backyard (we got a TON of outdoor toys for the boys’ birthday), swimming at Yaya’s pool, hanging out at the lake, and hopefully some other fun adventures as well.