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?

Easter 2014

Yesterday was our first major holiday with Jackson around (Valentine’s Day doesn’t count since we don’t usually celebrate it and he was only about two weeks old)…and it was fabulous!

Every Easter we head out to my grandmother’s house for a big meal, hide some eggs, and spend time with the family. Jackson (obviously) isn’t old enough to participate in the egg hunting, so he napped while the rest of us hid eggs and watched my nieces hunt them. They’re both old enough now that we really have to get creative with the hiding, so it was quite a challenge to find new spots that are harder than our go-to spots we hide eggs in most years.

It’s pretty crazy to think that next year Jack will be old enough to participate in the hunting (though we’ll have to make it really easy for him)! I’m already pretty baffled by how fast he’s growing. He’s started rolling over when he’s on his tummy, and he’s become fascinated with toys – I’m so used to him totally ignoring them that it’s super strange to see him so interested!

This made me even more excited for future holidays with our little family. Jackson is only going to get more fun and interactive from here, and it’s so rewarding to experience all the same old things through his eyes. He’s encouraging me to take more photos, do more fun things, be more present, and enjoy all of the little celebrations in life that I didn’t appreciate before.

He’s pretty awesome. And I have to say, half the fun is just getting to get him all dressed up for the day! I mean, what could possibly be cuter than a baby in a sweater vest?

Absolutely nothing, that’s what.

How was your Easter?

The Holiday Bucket List

I shared about our holiday bucket list and what we had accomplished so far a couple of weeks ago. We decided to go this route this year instead of an activity advent calendar, and I’m so glad we did. It was very laid back, easy to keep up with, and I didn’t put a ton of pressure on myself to cross everything off. I was all about enjoying this holiday season in whatever way I was in the mood to do, and I wasn’t about to force myself to do an activity I didn’t want to – I figure we have plenty of years of doing crazy holiday things for Monster ahead of us, so this was one of our last chances to have a very relaxed holiday season.

Now that December’s over, here’s where we ended up with our list.

– For our “top 5″ from the year, we decided to each write down the top five moments or memories from 2013 and toss them in our little memory jar. We opened it up on New Years Day, and it was so much fun to relive all of the highlights from the year. I’m so glad we did this jar, because I loved looking back and reading all of the little moments we jotted down as they happened. I don’t know that we’ll do it again for 2014 – we weren’t very good about keeping up with it – but it was very fun to try out!

– Corey took me on a surprise date to our favorite movie theater a few days before Christmas – I had no idea what I was in for until we arrived, but we were going to see a sneak peek of the new season of Downton Abbey! It was a free event put on by our local PBS station, and it was so much fun. We got to watch the last 45 minutes of the last season finale (and I bawled and bawled all over again), then we got to watch the entire season premiere for this season. It got me really pumped for the new season and I can’t wait to start watching it in a few weeks when it comes out!

– We baked tons (and tons) of cookies in the days leading up to Christmas. It’s a yearly tradition for us to do two rounds of cookie baking – one to give to friends at work and one to bring to my Grandmother’s for Christmas Eve. It was, as usual, a blast and one of my favorite parts of the holiday.

– Our attempt at a family photo this year was a major flop. The dogs are getting harder and harder to corral now that there are three of them (last year Hadley was still a puppy and relatively easy to hold still), so this was the best “family photo” we managed. Ah well, it was worth a shot right? I think we decided that starting next year we’re kicking the dogs out and it will have to be a humans-only family photo – it’s just not worth the stress!

– In addition to playing a ton of Marbles (what my family calls it – I’m sure it has a more official name) over the holiday season, we also tried out a new game for our game night. Corey got a super nerdy new game for his birthday a few months back (called Munchkin) and hadn’t ever really had the chance to play it. It’s supposed to be a game played with more than 2 people, but the directions are like 7 pages long and super confusing, and I’ve been afraid to play it with him (or ask anyone else to play with us) because I was convinced it would be awful. One night, though, we decided to try it out just the two of us to see if we could get the hang of it, and it was FUN! It took a while to learn, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it (although, I’ll warn you, it’s DEFINITELY nerdy!) – we ended up spending a few nights earlier this week playing it, and now we’re excited to introduce it to some other people so we can actually play with the proper amount of players. So,  I can definitely say we were able to cross “game night” off our list!

There were a few things we didn’t get around to this season – we never watched The Grinch (sad!) or went to look at Christmas lights. We also skipped having a picnic under the Christmas tree, mostly because at 8 1/2 months pregnant, the last thing I want to be doing is sitting on the floor. We didn’t have our “No technology day” this year, mostly because we want to do it on a day where we can actually leave the house and do fun things (it’s hard to spend the entire day at home without resorting to the television or our computers), but thanks to budget constraints (prepping for a baby is expensive, y’all!) we spent most of our break at the house and decided to pass on a big day out of the house where we might spend a lot of money! And, we haven’t eaten s’mores or gone out for ice cream yet, but we still have a few days left in our break and I think we may be able to accomplish at least one of those before we head back to work!

What did you want to accomplish this holiday season? Did you cross everything off your bucket list?