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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Summer Lovin’

Well, I hate to say it but this was my last official day of summer vacation. It is uncanny how quickly these summers go by now that we are on the balanced calendar. Eight weeks for a summer vacation just isn’t long enough! But then again I am very grateful to even have a job where I can have this much time off. I haven’t posted much the last few months, so here is a recap of our summer.

Ryan took his STEP 1 Boards in early June, then started his clinical rotations a few days later. His first rotation was in OB/Gyn…which is notorious for being one of the most intense rotations. This rotation included 13 hour days, 6 days a week (and keep in mind he isn’t even getting paid!) He would barely get home in time to see Kinsie before she went to bed. Because of this, he learned pretty quickly that this is not the field of medicine for him. After this, he got to experience the other end of the spectrum, Anesthesia. During this 2 week rotation, he only worked 40 hour weeks with weekends off. It was glorious! We got in SO much quality time with him during these 2 weeks, and he even had time to build Kinsie her very own swing set in the backyard! Being able to spend time with his family is obviously a priority for him, so anesthesia is not off the table! Today he started Plastic surgery which I’m sure will be an adventure! It is still taking some getting used to having him home every night…in a good way. Sometimes I just forget that he is coming home at night! One of the hardest parts about when he lived in Muncie was at night after Kinsie went to bed. It’s definitely no fun going to bed alone every night. But now we’re enjoying our time snuggling on the couch and watching Orange is the New Black while eating popcorn. It is SO good to have him home!

This summer in Indiana was actually a bit depressing…probably 80% of our days were rainy and muggy. Not only is this depressing for someone who loves the sunshine, but it’s especially so  for a toddler who loves the sunshine and has a ton of energy! I had to be very creative coming up with indoor activities for us to do on the many days we couldn’t go outside. We took trips to public libraries, did arts and crafts, read a lot of books, and watched a lot of movies! Well…I shouldn’t say a lot of movies. We watched the same movies over and over again. Her new obsession is Shrek, so we watched the 4 Shrek movies and the Shrek musical pretty much on loop!

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Kinsie started gymnastics classes this summer! She had been climbing on everything and tumbling around nonstop, so we figured this would be a good thing for her. She absolutely LOVES it! Her favorite thing to do is somersaults, but she also loves the balance beam and the bars. She even got her first trophy last week!

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We had a busy 4th of July. First we went to the Brownsburg parade. Kinsie, Briggs and Kerigan were all about collecting the candy thrown by the floats. They were proud of their big bad of candy at the end! Later we went to the lake, like we do every year. Kinsie had fun playing with cousins, doing sparklers, and watching fireworks on the boat. Last year she wasn’t able to stay up late enough to watch the fireworks, but we made sure she did this year!

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Two of our favorite places to hang out this summer were the zoo and the lake. You all already knew that Kinsie was obsessed with the zoo and animals in general, so of course we tried to find as many not-rainy, not-too-humid days to spend at the zoo. She especially loves it when we meet her cousins there!

The lake, however, is a new obsession. We can’t even mention the word “lake” unless we are driving there. For a while, every time we got in the car, she would say “lake?” and when I’d say no, she would pout. When we say her prayers at night, she prays for the lake. When I ask her in the morning what she dreamed about, she says the lake. The lake is her happy place. She loves the boat, the toys, the fishing,…everything. We made as many trips there as we could this summer, and will continue to make weekend trips when we can even though school is starting. I don’t blame her, I love it there too!

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Even though sunny days this summer were few and far between, whenever it was nice enough, we were outside. Wagon rides, trips to the park, swimming at my parents’ pool, you name it. God must have been looking out for us, because our last full week of summer was BEAUTIFUL! I had one very happy girl! To add on to that, like I mentioned earlier, Ryan built a swing set in our backyard…complete with 2 swings (a Kinsie swing and a “mommy swing” as she calls it), a climbing rope, a bar for gymnastics, and even a balance beam. Kinsie was on Cloud 9! Every morning as soon as I opened her door, she’d ask to go swing. I didn’t mind because I could swing right along side of her!

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Some of the water fun we had this summer!

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Parks, wagon rides, and bubbles.

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Kinsie’s new swing set. Kudos to Ryan for the excellent craftsmanship!

Finally, the last full week of summer was also the week of our county fair. I love going to the fair for the good food and to see my students with their 4H projects. Kinsie loves the fair for the animals and balloons. We went twice during the week, and both times she was one happy camper. She wouldn’t stop talking about balloons until we got her one, but once she did, she strutted around like she owned the place with her balloon in hand. She loved the “hop hops” and the goats, especially when they licked her hands. I love how much she loves life!

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I’m sure you can tell that overall, we had a pretty good summer! I am so grateful for all the quality time that I got to spend with my girl. Her newest thing is always wanting to hold my hand. No complaining here! I know that she won’t always want to hold my hand as she gets older, so I’m savoring these special moments. I’m not ready to be away from her all day again, even though I know she’ll be in the best hands. She is just too much fun and so full of life. She has changed my life in so many ways and has taught me to live in the moment and just enjoy life. Thank you, my sweet baby girl. I love you more than I can ever explain!

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Here’s to the start of a new school year!

A Very Kinsie Christmas

Kinsie was only 3 months old last year during Christmas, and even then she was fascinated with the lights, trees, and new toys…so I figured that this year, with Kinsie being 15 months old, Christmas would be 10 times more fun. Well, it was! We put our Christmas tree and decorations up right before Thanksgiving and she was amazed. She LOVED the Christmas tree. I wanted to teach her not to touch it but just to look at it, so I told her that we just look and say “Oooo, ahhh,” (which is what my sister and I used to say when we saw Christmas lights when we were little) so she picked that habit up immediately and that became her go-to phrase for any Christmas decorations. Anytime she saw a Christmas tree or Christmas lights, she’d say “Ooo ahh,” usually as one word. Our neighbors across the street went all out and had a blow-up Santa and snowman, as well as a lit-up Gingerbread house, so she spent a lot of time looking out the window at their decorations ooo-ing and ahh-ing away. We took complete advantage of the holiday season and read lots of Christmas books to Kinsie, and listened to Christmas music every chance we got. Her favorite Christmas song was Frosty the Snowman and she’d be-bop along every time it played. Every time she’d see Santa, she’d say “Ho Ho Ho!” (including when we read her Bible and there was a picture of Simeon, who also had a white beard!) Since Kinsie was so into Christmas decorations and lights, we had to find as many activities as we could that we knew she’d love, such as Christmas at the Zoo and the Danville Winterland light display.

Like last year, she had a blast at the zoo. It was pretty cold, so we had her wear mittens. This was the first time she wore them, so she wasn’t really sure what to do with her hands. She just sat in her wagon awkwardly holding her hands up (see picture below). She loved seeing all the lights and animals. Unfortunately, it was much more crowded this time than it was when we went last year, so we weren’t able to go to the dolphin show. We still took her to see the aquariums though and she got to see dolphins swimming around underwater.

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On Christmas Eve, we exchanged gifts with Ryan’s family. My mother-in-law bought a small bounce house for Kinsie to play in when she’s there, and she was pumped! When we went to Ryan’s cousin’s daughter’s birthday party a few weeks ago, they had one of these bounce houses and Kinsie had a blast bouncing and rolling around. I was somewhat of a nervous wreck because bigger kids kept charging in with no regard and I didn’t want Kinsie to get hurt (of course she didn’t mind the extra chaos). I felt much better with her playing in it this time since she was on her own and she could bounce and roll as much as she wanted. She had a blast!

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Kinsie received a lot of other great gifts from Ryan’s family as well, including a Doc McStuffins outfit and all the doctor tools. She still loves to wear her doctor outfit when she plays at home…I guess she wants to be a doctor like her daddy!

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Later in the afternoon, we went to the Christmas Eve service at church. The Christmas Eve service is one of my favorite times to attend church, not only to hear another awesome sermon, but also to see lots of new people come to church with their families and hearing the gospel message for the first time. The sermon is definitely worth hearing, so if you interested, it is available here. After church, we went to Ryan’s aunt’s house for dinner and to exchange gifts. For her Christmas gift to Kinsie, Ryan’s aunt painted a small table and chair set with her name on it. She was all about this table when she opened it and still is. We have it in her play corner in the living room and she’ll always sit at it and play with her toys whenever she gets the chance.

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On Christmas morning, Kinsie was super excited to see the gifts that Santa brought her, especially a large stuffed bear that she immediately hugged and wallered all over. After we opened our gifts at home, we went to my parents’ house for breakfast and to open more gifts. Ryan wasn’t feeling great throughout the day (he was sick on Christmas and I was sick on Thanksgiving…not the best luck!) but he still got to watch Kinsie open her gifts. Every time she would open a gift, she wanted us to take it out of the box right away so she could play with it. She was overwhelmed with new toys and didn’t know what to play with first! Since Ryan didn’t feel well, we just hung out at my parents’ house most of the day. Kinsie loved getting to stay in her Christmas jammies all day and play with her new toys with Briggs and Kerigan.

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Christmas is such a special time of the year and it is so much fun to watch your child’s face as they open gifts. However, it is extremely important to me that we always keep the real reason for the season in mind. Even though Kinsie is only a year old, we took every opportunity to talk to her about Jesus. When she played with her Little People Nativity Scene, we showed her Baby Jesus and told her how much He loved her (which usually led to her kissing Baby Jesus), and we read the Christmas story in her Bible on Christmas Eve, which was a tradition that we did when I was growing up. The sermon that we heard on Christmas Eve does an amazing job of explaining how humbling the real Christmas story is and why it was so significant that God sent a savior to be born in a manger to save us from our sins. My sister had her kids make a birthday cake for Jesus, which is another awesome way to remind children of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. It breaks my heart that people get so obsessed with giving and receiving gifts that they often forget WHY we give and receive gifts at all. I want to raise Kinsie to always know why we celebrate Christmas and how grateful we should be for Jesus and what He has done for us.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family!

Fall Family Fun

We have had an extremely busy fall season so far! Between teaching, the busy season of photography and chasing around a 1-year-old, I’ve hardly had time to breathe let alone sit down and write a blog post! Ryan has also had a very intense semester so far. He’s had an average of 2 tests per week, which means he is spending the majority of his time studying. I have to give him a lot of credit though, even in the midst of a very demanding semester, he has still managed his time well enough to enjoy lots of quality time with Kinsie and me. Luckily, this was the first year that IU had a fall break, so Ryan had about 4 days off at the end of October, and even better, it happened to fall on the same week as my fall break! Because of our limited time together, we are always thankful for any extra days we get to spend as a family.

As Kinsie gets older, she is becoming more and more aware of when her daddy is around and when he’s not. When he’s not home, she does ok and still has fun, but when he is home, she is clearly in her happy place. She LOVES having her daddy home and she will spend all her time wallering all over him and giving him hugs and kisses. While it is harder this year to have him gone since Kinsie is older and more aware, I am grateful that she was so little throughout most of Ryan’s time in Muncie, and that he’ll be back home with us before she turns 2.

We’ve had lots of fun adventures over the last month with our girl. We took her to the pumpkin patch for the first time, which she loved! She could have crawled around and climbed all over the pumpkins all day. We went to Anderson Orchard for the first time, and we were very pleased with it. Good prices and lots of fun family activities!

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As I mentioned last year, Ryan and I always go all out on carving pumpkins. Last year was a little different because we were busy with a newborn, but this year we made sure that we made time for extreme pumpkin carving, and we even got to include Kinsie in the fun this year. We let her help clean out her own pumpkin. She wasn’t so sure about sticking her arm in the pumpkin and taking the seeds out, but she LOVED seeing her carved pumpkin all lit up!

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Proud of her Hoosier bear pumpkin!

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Ryan’s pumpkin- “V” from V for Vendetta

My pumpkin- “Olaf” from Frozen

As you know, Kinsie is obsessed with animals, so we take advantage of any opportunity we get to take her to the zoo. During the month of October, the Indianapolis Zoo has their “Zoo Boo” where kids dress up in their costumes or Halloween gear at the zoo. A lot of the animals play with pumpkins, and zoo workers pass out candy. It took Kinsie a while to understand the idea of collecting candy, but soon she became a pro. We later met up with my sister and her family, so the kids got to have cousin fun at their favorite place!

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This year for Halloween, we dressed Kinsie up as her favorite animal, a bear. We were really excited to take Kinsie around in her wagon to go trick-or-treating for the first time. However, those of you in the Indy area know how awful the weather was on Halloween night. It was probably 30 degrees, windy and rainy…so we had to change our trick-or-treating plans. We just drove to my parents house and helped pass out candy to the brave and dedicated ones who did walk around outside. Ryan’s family visited as well, so our little bear still had fun!

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Kinsie and I were very grateful to have Ryan home with us for a few extra days, and that he was able to go on all of our fun fall adventures with us. Kinsie always cherishes any time with her daddy that she can get!

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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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8 Month Wild Child

I know I say this every time, but it is amazing how much Kinsie has developed in just a month’s time. She has become a WILD CHILD! She has such a rambunctious personality and she is constantly moving and talking. This girl is so much fun to be around. Even strangers can’t help but smile at her little happy face! Now that we are finally having pretty consistent warm weather, she has gotten to do more than just play inside…like go to the zoo and go swimming in Grandma’s pool. She is definitely an outdoorsy girl and loves to look at and explore everything she possibly can. Ryan and I fall more in love with our girl every day and are having so much fun watching her grow.

At 8 months old…

  • She already gets into everything.
  • She loves playing peek-a-boo.
  • She gets bored with a toy quickly and needs to move on to something else.
  • She pivots and barrel rolls to get where she wants to go.
  • She is in the process of learning to crawl…just hasn’t perfected the motion yet.
  • She is very fiesty and will try to escape any type of confinement.
  • She loves to swim in the pool and blow bubbles in the water.
  • She is very quick at grabbing things, like her daddy’s glasses.
  • She and her cousin Briggs love to read books together and laugh at each other.
  • She and her cousin Kerigan like to grab each other’s toys, pacifiers, hands and toes.
  • She is happy even when she is sick.
  • She is obsessed with tags of any kind.
  • She is still fascinated by animals.
  • She LOVES being outside.

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Cousin fun

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Loving her visit to the zoo

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Our happy girl

 

Zoo Baby

A few days before Christmas, Krista and her Ryan wanted to take Briggs to Christmas at the zoo. My parents were going to come too and invited us to come along. I figured, “Sure, why not?” Kinsie likes Christmas lights so maybe she’ll like it. It was a perfect night to go since it wasn’t too cold and it was one of the first days in a week when it wasn’t raining. When we got there, we browsed around for a while and Kinsie enjoyed her stroller ride while looking at Christmas lights. Then a random man came up to us and said that he had extra tickets to the dolphin show that his family wasn’t going to use, so we went to the show. As we were waiting for it to start, Kinsie started getting fussy. I started to get nervous because I knew she might be getting hungry soon and I didn’t want to have to leave the show and travel all the way back to the car to feed her. Ryan took her out of her car seat so she could look around and hopefully she’d stay distracted enough until we were done with the show. As soon as Kinsie saw the dolphins and all the lights, she was completely mesmerized! She sat on Ryan’s lap and watched the entire show! I couldn’t believe it, because like most 3 month olds, her attention span isn’t very long, but she could have watched those dolphins all day long!

After the show, we went to the area with all the aquariums. Again, we took her out of her carseat and let her look around. She was in love! She watched sting rays, fish, penguins, sharks and more. I had never seen her so enthralled! It made me so happy that my baby was so happy. I knew she liked fish because we have an aquarium at home for our goldfish, but I had no idea the extent to which she liked fish. Ryan and I plan to have a bigger aquarium someday (and name all the fish after Harry Potter characters…we know we’re cool), and when we do, Kinsie will probably want to watch it all day long!

Every day, I learn more and more about my little girl and the personality that she is developing. That night, I learned about my daughter’s love for animals, just like her dad. I also learned that we will definitely need to invest in zoo passes in the near future for our little zoo baby! On the way home, my heart was so happy and my love tank was full. I got to spend an awesome night with my family and watch my daughter explore the world around her with a look of wonder in her eyes. God is so good!

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Enjoying all of the Christmas lights with cousin Briggs

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Mesmerized at the dolphin show

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Loving the sting rays!

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