Jackson’s First Birthday

Well, we survived. Jackson is a year old, we had a birthday party, and it was fabulous.

Corey and I got him a play kitchen for his birthday (more on that later once I get good photos of it!) and he is completely and utterly obsessed. He had the biggest grin ever on his face when he first saw it, and spent about half an hour just putting things in the cabinets and taking them back out. Definitely a successful gift!!

He took an awesome nap before the party and was ready to go when everyone got there. We had a waffle bar with a zillion toppings and options and it was so much fun. I made crockpot hot chocolate (I use this recipe and it’s 100% the most amazing thing you will ever put in your mouth. I can’t drink any other hot chocolate anymore) and we had mimosas for the adults. Jackson loved the waffles – I think he ate more than me – and it was so fun to watch everyone get creative while putting theirs together!

I strung his photos up across the window in our dining room and we had a slideshow playing of photos from his first year throughout the party. Everyone seemed to enjoy checking out the photos and I could have sat and watched the slideshow all day long.

He had a blast opening presents, but he wanted to stop and play with each one before moving on. It’s sweet (and I will miss that trait when he gets older and loses that!) but we tried to get him to focus a bit so the guests didn’t get too bored watching. He got a ton of food and accessories for his play kitchen, and I can’t wait to watch him get creative with it as he gets older!

I made him a “healthy” smash cake (sweetened with fruit, no added sugar) and he cracked us up with how delicate he was! He carefully picked each blueberry off the top and ate them, and he wouldn’t dig into the cake at all. I broke a piece off for him in hopes that I’d get him more interested, but he preferred to just go play with his new toys. He ended up picking at the cake for about five minutes before declaring he was “done!” and got down to go play. Oh well – I wasn’t really looking forward to getting him all cleaned up afterwards, anyways.

The day was a total blast and I’m so glad we had the party. I can’t believe my baby boy is a whole year old!

Jackson’s First Christmas

I know, I know.

Christmas is over and done with.

Trust me, I’m just as over it as you are. I normally have all of my decorations down by now (as much as I adore the holidays, when they’re over I want my house clean NOW!), but Corey’s dad was visiting this weekend so we left them up. But today? Game on – my house is getting back to normal!

But first… I have to tell you about Jackson’s first Christmas. Because I need to jot down all of these wonderful memories and reflections before I forget – and because you need to see all of the adorable pictures.

I wasn’t sure how Jackson would do with the gift aspect of Christmas. We originally planned on skipping any “real” presents for him and just doing a stocking, but he was so interested in the presents under the tree that we felt bad and ended up spending about $40 to snatch up a few gifts for him. I’m so glad we did because apparently my child is a natural-born present opener.

He got to open his first gifts (ever!) at my grandmother’s house the weekend before Christmas. She passed away last month and my extended family all got together at her home for one last Christmas there before the house is prepared to be sold. I’m heartbroken that this home that I practically grew up in won’t be in our family anymore and I will miss it dearly, so it was so incredibly special to me for Jackson to be able to partake in the traditions I grew up with in that house at least once in his life.

Once he got his first taste of opening presents, he could not get enough. As soon as he finished with what was in his stocking, he took off for the tree to try and steal some of the presents under there. Once he finished opening his actual gifts, he kept crawling around to everyone else in the room to try and help them. We joked that his entire world has changed now that he knows the joy of opening gifts!

Since Corey and I are both teachers we had the entire week of Christmas off (and this week as well), so we got some wonderful family time in before the holiday. We went out to eat at one of our  favorite restaurants (a new Christmas break tradition!), did some last-minute shopping and preparing for the big day, and spent a lot of time just hanging out at home as a family – quality family time had been in short supply the last few weeks of school, so it was much needed.

We spent Christmas Eve at my parents’ house. It was the first time in my life to spend Christmas Eve there – we usually spend it at my grandmother’s, but since we did that early, our traditions were shaken up a bit. We decided to serve Cajun food and it was an absolutely brilliant idea – we had jambalaya and dirty rice and cajun pork and shrimp brochettes and so many other wonderful things. It was an absurd amount of food and it couldn’t have possibly been tastier. We played games, sang Christmas carols (Jackson even got in on the fun with some “fa la la la la’s”) and read the Christmas story. It was wonderful.

That night, Jackson got to open his first pair of Christmas Eve pajamas. As he gets older the Christmas Eve gift will probably also include a book, maybe a movie and even some treats, but for this year the pajamas were enough.

Christmas Day itself was just about perfect. It’s pretty incredible how much more fun the holidays are with a baby around. Jackson had breakfast before opening his presents (probably the only year we’ll be able to get away with that!) and then he got to dive in – he actually got the concept that there were real toys in the boxes and that the fun extended beyond ripping up the paper, so he loved to pause and play with each thing as he opened it. We did a pretty good job picking out gifts for him – he was thrilled with all of them and even gave his new Ugly Doll a giant kiss as soon as he opened it.

Our family came over for brunch and it was, once again, way too much food…but it was oh so good. We spent the day hanging out, opening (yet another round of) gifts, and eating more than we ever thought possible.

I know I keep saying it, but Christmas with a child is so much better. I loved watching everything through his eyes, and I can imagine that it will only get more fun as he gets older and understands it more. Is it too soon to start counting down the days until next year?

How was your Christmas this year? I know some of you were also celebrating the first one with a baby – I want to hear about it!!

Life Lately

Can we go back in time a little bit?

Like, back to October and November?

I know Halloween and Thanksgiving are long gone and (trust me) I’m fully into the spirit of Christmas at this point in the year, but with my blogging hiatus I didn’t get to chat about all of the fun things we did at the start of fall, and there were a LOT of fun things that happened, so I want to go back a little and share. So, let’s make like the Doctor a do a bit of time traveling, shall we?

OCTOBER

October was a busy month for us! We kicked off the month with our annual family reunion (my side of the family) in Fayetteville, TX. Never heard of it? That may be because it has a population of, like, 258 (not an exaggeration). It’s an adorable little town and we absolutely adore going every year – Jackson had a blast this year!

The very next weekend we went to Waco for a board game conference. Yup, we’re officially that nerdy. It was a ton of fun, and while we were there we went to the Waco Zoo – Jack was totally into it, and we can’t wait to take him back! Two weekends in a row of traveling taught us that Jackson is surprisingly adaptable and generally awesome at traveling.

We also hit up a local pumpkin patch for some photos and took Jackson to the Fall Festival at our church – the petting zoo was the highlight of his Halloween!

NOVEMBER

November was a bit less crazy for us. It was a pretty rough month for us, but we managed to find some bright spots. Like Christmas shopping and putting up (one of) our tree(s) embarrassingly early.

We house-hopped for Thanksgiving this year – dinner at my sister’s house and dessert at ours, and it was fabulous. We had entirely too much food, spent a ton of time with our family, and just generally enjoyed ourselves. And Jackson was a huge fan of Thanksgiving dinner.

Oh, and we made enough dessert to feed roughly ten million people.

Once Thanksgiving was over we decorated for real – more photos of that to come soon!

Whew. That was a lot. Now, catch me up. Did you do anything fun at the start of fall? I’ve got to say, this season has never been as much fun as it is now that we have a baby!

What We’ve Been Up To

Well, hello there.

School has started back up – could you tell by my sudden disappearance?

It’s mind-boggling how busy and insane things are now that I’m back to working full time and trying to squeeze in family time, friend time, and time with Jackson. It’s exhausting, but we’re surviving it…and starting to fall back into a routine, so hopefully I’ll be able to find a bit of free time once again soon.

We haven’t been doing much around the house (honestly, we haven’t been doing much of anything aside from working, cleaning, and playing with Jackson) so I figured today I’d pop in with a quick update on how things are going around here, and also fill you in on a few of the fun things we did at the end of the summer (because I was determined to get out and try new things as much as possible!).

We went to the Zilker Park botanical gardens earlier this summer – we hadn’t ever been before and I immediately fell in love with it. The gardens are beautiful and it was so fun to just wander around and take it all in. Jackson was obsessed with the ponds and little waterfalls, and I swear if I would have let him he would have dove into the water to try and catch a fish.

We also took an impromptu trip to College Station at the very end of the summer. We both miss living there dearly (and have agreed that if it wasn’t for our family in Austin we’d move back in a heartbeat!) and absolutely love to visit. We went to a game last year and wanted to go to one again this year, but we thought it might be a bit much for Jackson…but we still would love for him to be able to say he visited College Station every year of his life (even if it’s not for a game), so we headed up for the day to visit campus, see some friends, and see some of our favorite places around town. It was a pretty wonderful trip and it was a perfect way to end the summer. We stocked up on Aggie gear for all of us, gawked at how much the tiny town has changed since we’ve been gone, and lamented the fact that we can’t come back every weekend for every football game.

Another favorite from the end of the summer were our trips downtown to eat at the best food trucks in Austin. There’s one called Gordough’s that has nothing but donuts…they have some sweet and some savory ones and they’re the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten. I can’t get enough!

And that pretty much wraps up our summer. The school year has started off with a bang – we’re working in the same district now, which is absolutely amazing, and it’s crazy how much more time we have together during the week now that Corey isn’t working over an hour from home. We’re still adjusting to not being with Jax all day every day, but we’ll get there.

How was the end of your summer? Anyone else as excited for cooler weather and all things fall as I am?

Brain Dump

Well, hi there! Have you noticed the radio silence around here lately? I sure have… my free time lately has been completely consumed by graduate school and I’m getting sick of it. I’m currently 3/4 of the way through my last class of graduate school (as in, ever…I graduate next month!) and it’s kicking my butt. I think I’m finally over the hump of the hardest assignments and am starting to wrap things up so hopefully I’ll have a little more time for blogging soon.

Since my mind is completely bogged down with writing papers, turning projects in, and reading research articles, I figured I’d do a quick drive-by post today with a few things we’ve been up to lately…and issue a promise that I’ll have actual content up soon. We’ve actually done a little bit more work around the house!

The first thing I want to tell you about is the new chairs we got in the dining room. I don’t want to spoil anything because I want to do a more thorough post on them later, but I’m in l-o-v-e with them. We finally gave up on the head chairs that we’ve been talking about reupholstering for like two and a half years now (do you remember those? no? that’s because it’s been over a year since I’ve even mentioned them…) and got these instead – and I’m thrilled with the decision! More on them later, just know they’re awesome.

We had a fabulous Fourth of July weekend – had some pool time, had friends over, did lots of relaxing, and just enjoyed our time together. So basically, it was like every other day we’ve had so far this summer. Perfection!

Jackson is officially starting to actually eat some of the food we put in front of him (mostly just avocado as of now, but he had a few bites of squash and sucked on some toast the other day) and it’s so fun to watch him start to explore it. We’re doing baby-led weaning and we’re taking it very slow, since he isn’t quite six months yet. We’re mostly just letting him play around and try a few different things at this point, but I have a feeling that within the next couple of weeks he’ll be ready to start eating more – he ate a whole slice of avocado last night at dinner!

I’ve had a lot of questions about Jackson’s high chair – it’s the Blames high chair from Ikea and we also bought the Pyttig support pillow, since he’s still a bit small for the high chair on his own. We love both of them and have been very happy so far. The high chair is very easy to keep clean and actually looks great at our table – some reviews I’ve read complain that it sits kind of low, but it’s perfectly level with our table, which we love because it feels like he’s really participating at meal time. The support pillow has been fantastic to help him feel more secure in the chair, and we’ve even brought it with us to restaurants a few times so he can sit in the big high chairs there too – we’re thinking about getting another one to keep in the car! I’d highly recommend both of them for anyone looking for a high chair.

(Just because I can’t resist a couple more cute photos)

And that’s our update as of right now. I’ll be back soon (hopefully later this week!) with a real post, promise!

How was your holiday weekend? Anyone do anything exciting?