Our First Family Vacation

Whew – we’re back!

We had an amazing vacation. Jackson’s first cruise could not have been more awesome and I’m so, so incredibly glad we were able to go. It was the first time we’ve ever been able to vacation with my entire family and it was just lovely. I’ll try to keep the rambling to a minimum but I can’t resist sharing some of our favorite photos and moments from our trip!

We went up to Galveston two nights before we cruised (which is what we always do, so we have some time to settle and have a “pre-vacation vacation”. We went to Pleasure Pier for the first time and were all pleasantly surprised. Jackson was able to ride several rides and it wasn’t crowded at all so we hardly had to wait in line for anything.

The next day we hit up the beach (first time we’ve ever gone to the beach in Galveston – I can’t believe we’ve been coming here for so many years and have never gone!) and Jackson had a total blast. He loved the sand and the waves and couldn’t get enough of it. We also went to the aquarium and out to dinner at the same restaurant we always go to the night before we cruise…my family loves tradition!

Finally, on Sunday, it was time to sail! We were worried about Jackson catching a nap that day since we wouldn’t get to our room until far after his nap time, but thankfully he fell asleep in the terminal while we waited to board.

The first two days were sea days, meaning we didn’t stop at a port and just spent all day on the ship. I love these days because I never get tired of exploring the ship! Jackson couldn’t really go in the pool at all since he’s not potty trained (though I’ll admit we snuck him in for a few minutes a couple of different times) but we found a million other ways to occupy ourselves. He loved looking off our balcony into the water and shouting “wheee!”, riding the elevators, and just running wild around the ship touching everything he could get his hands on.

We ended up deciding the official motto of our vacation was “Go! Go! Go!” because that’s what Jackson kept shouting if we sat still for more than a few minutes at a time. The kid was in heaven and couldn’t possibly have had more fun.

Our first port was Cozumel – we had an excursion to an all-inclusive beach house and it was perfection. Jackson fell asleep on the ride over and stayed sleeping on the beach for a while (talk about a perfect setting for a nap!) and we spent the entire day being lazy, playing in the sand, swimming, and having lunch on the beach. It was heaven.

We had more down time in the room on this trip than we ever have before. Corey loves it, but I get antsy so it worked out well for him to hang with Jackson in the room during most of his naps while I stayed out with everyone – Corey loved to nap right along with him! I ended up taking nap duty one day so he could get some good adult time too, but he loved his quiet time in the room with Jack.

I was worried about dinner and how Jackson would handle having to sit still for so long in a nicer-than-normal restaurant. We like to eat in the main dining room and dinners can be lengthy. Luckily I had very little to worry about, he loved playing with everyone at the table and he adores my family so it was easy for him to be happy just hanging with everyone. He usually got out of his high chair around dessert time to snuggle with me and his pacifier & blanket.

We stayed on the ship for one of the ports (Belize) because we love having the ship basically to ourselves, and on the last port (Roatan), we had a couple of cabanas on the beach to spend the day in. It was another perfect excursion for a toddler – Jackson loved to play in the sand, run in the waves, and he even took a nap in a hammock with my dad!

Of course, not every moment was perfect. We had our fair share of meltdowns, tantrums, and diaper disasters (did you know it’s actually impossible to find a changing table anywhere on that dang cruise ship?), but we were able to keep a good attitude about it and it didn’t get in the way of our fun!

I can honestly say it was the best vacation ever – it was so fun to experience it all through Jackson’s eyes and we’re already talking about how we can’t wait to go back next year. We both agreed that Jackson seemed so much older and less baby-like when we got home – I don’t know if it was the traveling or just the timing, but his expressive language seemed to explode over the week we were gone and he grew up so much!

Now we have just this week left before we head back to work (boo!), real life (booooo!), and say goodbye to summer (booooooooooooo!). Here’s hoping we can get the house back in order and get settled back in early this week so we can soak up our last precious moments of summer break!

Day in the Life: Summer With a Toddler

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “Day in the life” post…I always love a peek into other people’s lives, so I thought it would be fun to share what a typical summer day looks like for us. We have a unique situation since both Corey and I are teachers – we get to be home all day every day as a family throughout the summer. It’s an amazing set-up, and I never want to forget how sweet these days are!

You can also see a day in our lives with Jackson as a newborn and when he was a little under a year old.


6:30 – My alarm goes off. Time to work out! I (slowly) get out of bed and head out the door for a quick run. It’s always so hard to get moving but I love how I feel the rest of the day, so it’s worth it! Currently I’m listening to B.J. Novack’s book, One More Thing while I run…it’s hilarious!

7:30 – I’m back home and hopping in the shower. By the time I get out, Jackson is awake and I hear him and Corey chatting in his room. I meet them in our room and hang out with Jackson while I get dressed for the day.

8:00 – I’m finishing up getting ready and Jackson is starting to ask for a “‘nack” so I know it’s time for breakfast. We all head downstairs and settle in for a quick meal.

8:30 – While I am cleaning up from breakfast, I see that Jackson has started to unload the dryer that I left open last night. He’s nothing if not helpful! I guess it’s time to put the clothes away, so I finish the kitchen and Jackson helps me bring the laundry upstairs to put away.

I put clothes away while he reads books and “helps” by throwing clothes all over the floor (and occasionally actually putting them where they belong).

9:00 – Clothes are put away, Corey finished his breakfast and got dressed, and we’re ready to head out the door! We have a few errands to run, and Jackson is always antsy to get out of the house in the mornings, so we’re off.

9:30 – We run by Babies R Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Trader Joe’s. Jackson is always thrilled to go to TJ’s and play with the flowers while we shop (I always buy a bouquet and he always spends the whole time touching them).

Corey and I are thrilled to try a few things we haven’t had before…like this chocolate bar.


11:00 – We’re done shopping and just got home. I unload the groceries and give Jackson a snack while Corey helps do some cleaning around the house. We have people coming over tonight, so I ask if Corey will hang with Jack for a while so I can clean. I rush around getting as much as I can done while they play with blocks and Jackson occasionally follows me around trying to steal the mop from me.

12:00 – House is almost clean, and Corey makes Jackson’s lunch for him while I finish up. After lunch, they sit and read on the couch for a while before Jackson asks me to play with him on the floor. We spend about 15 minutes playing before…

12:30 – Nap time! I need to work on a few things on my computer so Corey takes Jackson upstairs and lays him down while I get started. Corey then disappears to play some video games and I settle in on the couch for some blogging and Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge!).

2:30 – After some lovely, lazy time watching television, Corey comes out and joins me. We chat for a few minutes and soak up the last few minutes before Jackson wakes up.

3:00 – He’s up! I run upstairs to grab Jackson and Corey gets started marinating some chicken for dinner tonight.

We hang with him in the kitchen for a few minutes before my dad shows up to visit Jackson. Jackson has a huge “papa” obsession right now so my dad has been stopping by on his way home from work every once in a while. They play in the garage together for a while and Corey and I work on dinner. We always love when he stops by – it makes Jackson so happy!

4:00 – My dad’s visit is over and he has to head back home. Jackson and I watch him leave from the window and then spend some time playing on the floor. Corey starts an epsiode of Mad Men and we slowly make our way through it (with interruptions for Corey to take Jackson outside to play for a few minutes, for me to get Jackson a snack, etc. etc.).

5:00 – Our show is over and my sister and her family will be here anytime. Jackson and I have a dance party in the living room while Corey gets dinner cooking. We all putter around the house, putting food together, playing, and chatting until everyone arrives. Jackson makes a mess in the kitchen that I’ve just cleaned by pulling out all of our disposable dishes/silverware, stacking them on top of each other, and knocking them over, all while giggling maniacally. It’s a mess, but he’s happy and I’m able to work in peace, so I let it happen.

5:45 – Everyone’s here! We spend the evening eating dinner, chatting, and playing a game. Jackson starts rubbing his eyes at 6:30 on the dot (my kid knows his schedule!) so he goes down for the night while we keep hanging out.

9:00 – My nieces are tired so it’s time for them to go home. Corey and I clean the kitchen and spend a bit more time hanging out downstairs before we go up to bed – we’re both exhausted so we don’t watch any more television tonight.

10:00 – We peek in on Jackson and giggle at how he’s almost escaped his sleep sack. We debate fixing it and decide to leave him as he is. We head into our room and go to bed.


And that’s what most of our summer has looked like! It’s lazy, slow (but oh so fast), and absolutely perfect. I’ll have to come back and read this post in two months when I’m in the full swing of school and be jealous of myself for all of this free time!

What is your summer looking like so far?

Week in Review

My favorite thing about summer (other than the whole “no work” thing) is that we have the opportunity to go out and do things as a family on a daily basis that we don’t normally do. Last summer it took all of our effort to get out and do something once a week, but this summer we’ve been out and about doing something every single day. It’s been a blast (for us and for Jackson!) and I love that we’ve gotten to check out so many places that we don’t go to regularly.

We’ve been to the pool or splash pad at least once (usually more) a week since the summer started. Jackson absolutely adores it, and it’s a great way to fill some time. We’ve recently heard lots of stories of local kids getting sick from bacteria at the splash pads, though, so we may have to rethink our plan…what a bummer!

You may or may not know that I have a slight obsession with Alice in Wonderland. I collect various versions of the book and movie and it’s my favorite childhood story. A local museum had an Alice exhibit so we had to go check it out – Jackson had a ton of fun, even though it was geared towards slightly older kids, and I loved going to see it as well!

We headed back out to one of the wineries with my best friend from college and her daughter for lunch one day – it’s halfway between our two houses, so it’s a perfect meeting spot, and we had a ton of fun. We love getting our two kids together, and lunch was fantastic!

Other than our “big” events, the week was filled with more of the usual…playing with blocks (“bocks!”) near constantly, going on family walks, and watching an ungodly amount of television. You know, typical summer!

How was your week?

Life Lately, Part 2

Ready to finish catching up with us? Let’s dive right in to where we left off – the beginning of the summer (aka: my favorite time of the whole year).

It was a bit bittersweet to leave daycare that last day of school, because it was Jackson’s last day in his current class. Next year he’ll be with a new teacher and his old one, the one who has had him since he was 7 weeks old, won’t be working with him anymore. I’m a little brokenhearted over the change, but I know he’ll have a good year next year…and we have the rest of the summer before we need to worry about it!

The beginning of summer was filled with as much fun as we could cram in. We went to a local splash pad (which is officially Jackson’s new favorite activity in the entire world), we spent a ton of time cooking together and letting Jackson use his new learning tower (which is officially my favorite invention in the entire world), and we just relaxed as much as we could possibly manage.

At the beginning of the summer Corey and I headed out on our first date in quite a while. We met some friends out at their house on the lake and visited a few local wineries. We hopped around and did tasting at different places, then we headed back to their house to go out on their boat. It was the perfect, idyllic summer afternoon and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. We’re hoping to do it again later this summer, and can’t believe it’s taken us this long to go check out the wineries that are so close to us!

We’ve also found a new obsession this summer – Trader Joe’s. We got one here in Austin a while back but we hadn’t ever tried it. I went on a whim when Corey was out of town for a One Act Play thing and I fell in love. I know for those of you who’ve had it forever this is old news, but my goodness I can’t get enough!

We headed to San Antonio for a weekend to visit our best friends from college. They have a daughter Jackson’s age and we love going to hang out with them. We went to Sea World and just spent the weekend enjoying ourselves and seeing one another – it was perfect! We loved letting Jackson experience all of the animals at Sea World, but he was still a little too young – he slept through quite a bit of the time we were there because he was just so exhausted from all of the excitement of the weekend!

Fourth of July was low-key, but perfect. We grabbed donuts in the morning at the new donut shop that just opened right down the street from us (dangerous!) and went to watch a local parade. We had planned on going to the pool right after but forgot towels so we headed back home instead and let Jackson play in his baby pool in the backyard. It was the first time we’ve broken it out and he adored it!

Whew. We’ve been busy! Now you’re all caught up on the excitement going on in our home lately – it’s been a perfect summer so far and I’m so grateful we’re only about halfway through it. We have so many more fun things in store for the rest of the summer and I can’t wait to get started!

What has your summer looked like so far?

Life Lately, Part 1

Well, that last post was a downer, no?

To answer the questions I’ve been getting a lot lately: No, he’s still not back and yes, we’re still constantly checking the shelters. My heart still hitches a little every time I hear Cullen go crazy barking at the front window, and I still have dreams that he randomly shows up in the backyard.


Anyways. Let’s talk about something else.

I’ve been a bit very absent lately, so I thought it would be appropriate to catch you up on what’s been happening in our home lately. It’s a two-parter, because ain’t nobody got time to sit a read an entire novel on what’s up with my life.

Here we go:

This perfectly sums up how I felt about the end of the school year this year.

The spring semester was absolute insanity in our house. Corey is the co-director for the One Act Play in our district, which meant he had practices almost every night (and often lasting until past Jackson’s bedtime). They performed well which meant more and more competitions, several of which were far enough away that he had to stay overnight. In addition to that, he was very involved in UIL (an academic competition), and was gone several Saturdays in March and April for competitions. So, Jack and I had a lot of mommy-baby time in April and May!

We spent lots of time on FaceTime with dad, and Jackson learned to get very excited when I put the phone on speaker. It was so sweet to see how excited he got when he saw Corey’s face on that screen, and it made the time apart (a tiny bit) easier.

As hard as it was to do so much solo parenting over those few months, it definitely helped Jackson and I bond even more and gave me a ton of confidence as a parent. I felt like superwoman for getting everything accomplished all by myself, and I’ve never liked being alone so I think it was probably healthy for me to learn how to handle it better!

My second Mother’s Day was a total partial success. We had a baby dedication at church in the morning…who schedules these things for Mother’s Day? The last thing I wanted to be doing on Mother’s Day was wrestling my toddler into being quiet and still in front of the entire church while he screamed and tried to run away to knock all of the microphone stands over. Maybe this is why most people do it when their babies are younger? Unfortunately our church doesn’t do it very often and we missed out on the last one, so this was our only chance – it was important to my family, and to me, that we got to do this, so we soldiered on but my goodness I wish it had been on a different day! After that we celebrated with my family at one of my favorite restaurants and spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying ourselves – which was needed after our hectic morning!

Oh yeah, and let me tell you about that beard. I mentioned that Corey is co-director for One Act Play? Well, he has a superstition (left over from when we were in high school) about not cutting his hair throughout the length of the competition. This year, it extended to not shaving as well. He already hadn’t shaved since September-ish, so by the time practices started in January I was already desperate for him to shave…and we still had five months to go! Let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite look of his, and you’ll see it grow (and grow, and grow) throughout this post.

This was such an incredibly busy time for us, so on the nights where we were all at home and together we cherished every second. Like I said before, I’m not awesome at being alone so I definitely struggled with these few months!

At the beginning of May we got to focus on my job for a bit and headed to our local Special Olympics track meet. We go every year and always have a blast. This was Jackson’s second year going but last year he wasn’t mobile so it was a whole different ballgame this time around. He spent half the time running around and practicing his track poses as you see above…and the other half doing this:

Okay so maybe he didn’t spend half of the time screaming, but it felt like it. He didn’t really love the idea that he was supposed to just watch everyone else have fun and not actually participate.

We got a new dresser for our bedroom (more on that in a different post!) and Jackson had a blast at Ikea “helping” us push the cart. Can I just say this is the best age so far? I love that proud little grin!

The spring semester was mostly about Corey’s job and his accomplishments, but I had one major victory – getting asked to present at an education conference! It was a huge deal for me and so exciting to be asked to participate. I just attended the conference a couple of weeks ago, and the presentation went well – definitely a big and exciting first for me in my career!

I don’t know how far exactly this all made it in the news, but our area had some serious weather issues in late May. It rained for what felt like a billion days in a row, there was insane flooding all over the place, and I think we had more tornado watches/warnings in a two-week span than we have had in my entire life so far. There was one particularly scary day when Corey was out of town (it was right before the State One Act competition) where I had to spend a couple of hours holed up in the garage with Corey’s brother and dad and the weather was scary. Jackson handled it like a champ, but towards the end I did have to break out my laptop for some videos to keep him occupied – a real treat since he almost never gets screen time!

In late May (the last week of school, actually), it was finally time for the State One Act Play competition. I was so incredibly proud of Corey and his cast for making it this far but so incredibly ready for it all to be over! I took a half day off of work to go watch them perform, and I’m so glad I did – it was an incredible experience and I can’t express enough how awesome it was to see a team Corey worked that hard with accomplish that much. Corey and I started dating while doing One Act Play in high school, so it holds a very special place in both of our hearts, and I’m so glad he gets to be so involved with it.

Y’all. Do you see that beard? He looked like a homeless lumberjack! You can’t see the hair well in this photo, but let me tell you it was not cute either. Corey knows how I felt about this look, so let me be straight with y’all: it took every ounce of willpower in my body to not shave his entire head every night after he went to sleep. I wanted to throw a party when he finally let me cut it after the competition.

But, the good news is, I guess the superstition worked – Corey’s team won State (which hasn’t happened in our school district in a very, very long time)! I didn’t get home until about 3:00 in the morning after that competition and had to wake up at 5:30 to go to work the next day…let’s just say I was glad it was the last week of school!

Next up? Our summer so far!

What’s your life been like lately? Anyone else suck at alone time?