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!!

Fa La La La La

If you’ve been reading for a while, then you’ll know that Corey and I get just a little, ahem, excited about decorating for Christmas. I was looking back at some of our old Christmas posts recently and laughed at how quickly our house went from just a few decorations to complete over-the-top insanity. And we aren’t slowing down anytime soon – we already added a few new items to our collection this year!

What can I say? I don’t decorate for any other season, so I figure I have permission to go all-out for Christmas.

We had a special challenge when we were decorating this year – a mobile baby! Jackson isn’t walking yet, but he’s crawling all over the place, pulling up on everything, and getting into EVERYTHING. So as we were decorating (and buying new decorations) we had to seriously consider what he would be messing with and how we could make sure he stayed safe.

We went ahead and decorated our tree as normal – by the time we did the rest of the house we had already had a tree up in our room for a few weeks and he had been really good about leaving it alone. He’s curious, and he’ll touch it/bat at the ornaments a bit, but he’s generally good about listening to us when we tell him to be gentle. We stuck to putting our breakable ornaments up high, but beyond that our tree looks just like it always does.

Our bookshelf was where I really had to get creative. Jackson loves to play with the items on the shelves and I generally keep a few toys for him on the bottom shelves so he has something safe to play with. I wanted the entire bookcase to be decorated for Christmas, but didn’t want to have to constantly be pulling him off of it. So, I put all of our cookie tins on the very bottom shelf (they’re pretty much indestructible and make a really loud, fun sound when you pull them off the shelf!) and put some soft, not-suepr breakable things on the second shelf. So far it’s worked great – he loves playing with the cookie tins and has pulled a few of the items off of the second shelf but has left the stuff towards the back (like the big candle) alone. We’ll see if he stays this good about it for the entire season, but I’m pleasantly surprised so far!

The dining room is mostly the same as it is every year, but this year I added a felt tree on the back of the fireplace – Jackson loves playing with it/pulling everything off of it. It’s really meant for slightly older kids who are actually interested in decorating it, but he enjoys it a lot now, and it will grow nicely with him over the years.

Jackson loves the tree in the kitchen – all of the ornaments that he can reach are totally safe for him to play with, and none of the ornaments on this tree are too precious, so we’re a little more lax about letting him play with it. He’s still super cautious and hasn’t really pulled anything off of it yet – he just loves to touch it! He’s also very curious about all of the items on the counters – the mini tree by our sink may be his favorite decoration in the whole house!

I’ve always been a gigantic fan of the entire Christmas season, and I absolutely love everything about it…and this year, with Jackson, there are no words for how much more special it is. I love watching him experience everything for the first time, and it makes me so much more excited for future years when he understands it all a bit more!

 

First Father’s Day

It’s so funny to me how all of the holidays throughout the year that used to be no big deal are now so important and exciting for me. I mean, we’ve always celebrated Father’s Day with our families, but since we weren’t actually parents yet it wasn’t nearly as awesome as it is now. Now? I want to snap a million pictures, soak up all the memories, and enjoy every little holiday to the fullest.

I mean, this is the only first Father’s Day we’ll ever have!

We had a very relaxing Father’s Day this year and it was fabulous. We went out to eat with family, hung out, and just generally enjoyed our little family. I’m so blessed to have such an awesome partner in this crazy parenting adventure, and I can’t imagine doing it with anyone else.

As a little Father’s Day tribute, here are the top 3 things I love about Corey as a dad…

-Jackson’s whole face lights up when he’s interacting with Corey. He looks at him with an admiration that he doesn’t look at anyone else with, and it melts my heart every time.

– I love seeing who Corey is as a father. I’ve always known he was a sweet and wonderful person, but watching how gentle, caring, and just generally awesome he is with Jackson makes me love him even more.

– I love how much Corey loves our son. He gets so excited when Jackson learns something new, and it’s so sweet to see how much he clearly loves him. I could sit and watch them play together all day long – and watching Corey walk around the house with Jackson and talking to him? One of my favorite things in the world.

How was your Father’s Day this year? Anyone else want to share a few things you love about your partner as a parent? Or, if you aren’t one yet, just what you love about your partner in general?

My First Mother’s Day

I’ve gotta say, it was pretty surreal to actually be a part of the celebration for Mother’s Day this past weekend, and not just celebrating for other people. It was an incredible feeling and I felt so honored to be able to call myself a mom this year!

We had a pretty low-key Mother’s Day weekend, which is just the way I like it. Jackson came home from daycare on Friday with a pretty nasty cough, so we spent most of the morning on Saturday at the doctor’s office, just making sure it wasn’t anything serious. We got the all-clear and the doctor told us it was probably just a cold, so we went back home to let Jackson get some rest. When we got home, I requested that Corey take over baby duty for a couple of hours so I could deep clean the house (yes, I’m a dork). It was so therapeutic to get the house nice and clean, and it felt good to be active all day. And really, who doesn’t love a clean house?

That evening we went out to get dinner at Which Which since we didn’t have any food in the house, and I did some shopping at Target (these new “mom hips” don’t fit into any of my old shorts quite the same way they used to!). This is probably my favorite time of the year weather-wise. It’s warm enough outside to be in shorts or dresses, but you aren’t sweltering yet. It’s perfect for eating outside, going for walks, and just generally soaking up the feeling of “almost summer”.

On Sunday, we had lunch at my sister’s house. Corey and my brother-in-law were supposed to cook for everyone, but when they heard Jack was sick my sister and brother-in-law insisted on taking over. It was much-appreciated, since he ended up taking an almost four hour nap that morning – poor boy was definitely not feeling well. At least I got some Mother’s Day snuggles!

Lunch was absolutely wonderful – my sister’s house always looks amazing and I’ve never had a meal over there that was anything less than fabulous. And after his crazy nap, our little Monster was happy and ready to interact with his family. You know, until he got tired and started screaming again. Poor, sick baby.

It was a pretty wonderful first Mother’s Day, and I’m so grateful for our little family of three. Sometimes I still have a hard time believing he’s actually ours!

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day this year?