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?

Our Summer So Far…

Y’all, summer is the best. Ever.

I feel like this is the first summer Corey and I have really been able to enjoy together as adults – last summer (the first year we were both teachers), I was pregnant and sick most of the time. The whole summer was a blur because we were so caught up in the newness of me being pregnant, and I spent the vast majority of my time sleeping or laying around on the couch. This summer, though, we are both home with no obligations (other than one last graduate school course that I’m finishing up) and we are enjoying it as much as we possibly can.

I said in our summer bucket list that I wanted us to have at least one fun outing every week, and we’ve stuck to that so far. I’ve been really good about taking photos of what we’ve been doing (another one of my summer resolutions!) so I figured I’d share a quick roundup of what we’ve done so far.

Week One

We kicked off the first week of summer with some serious nap training for Jackson, so we tried to stick pretty close to the house for the most part. We’re the type of people that need to get out of the house frequently, so we went somewhere most days but it was usually just a quick trip to Target or the grocery store. We did, however, manage to squeeze in a couple of fun outings.

We took a long walk to the local park one day and let Jackson sit in his stroller without the carseat for the first time ever. He loved it. He was talking and cooing almost the whole time, and he didn’t get fussy once on the entire 45-minute walk. I think we’re going to try to make this a regular outing for us, because it was fantastic.

We also spent one afternoon at my sister’s house playing in their inflatable splash pad. It was Jackson’s first non-bath experience with water, and he was fascinated. It took him a little while to warm up to it – for the first fifteen minutes or so he was just sitting there staring at the water, trying to figure out what was going on. But once he got the hang of it, he was all about it. He kept trying to lunge away from me and crawl across the pool area (he can’t crawl yet, so that didn’t work out too well for him…) and he loved just hanging out in the water. We spent forever playing around with the water that afternoon, and I can’t wait to do it again with him!

Week Two

The second week of summer (last week) we headed up to San Marcos to meet my best friend and her family for lunch at a gorgeous restaurant. They used to live in Fort Worth, which is about a 4 hour drive from us, but her husband is in med school and just started his residency in San Antonio, so they’re only two hours away…and San Marcos is a perfect halfway point for us to meet up! She has a daughter that was born exactly six weeks after Jackson, and it was our first time meeting each other’s kids. It was a blast and I can’t wait to start meeting up more often with them!

Week Three

This week is a bit crazy for us because I’m at a conference for work today, tomorrow, and Friday…so things have been busy! We spent most of Monday doing work stuff – Corey had an interview and I worked on moving stuff to my new classroom (I’m moving to a new school within my district this year). I’m still hoping we’ll be able to squeeze in an “official” fun outing this week, but we’ll see how things go! If nothing else, we’ve been doing a good job of going on lots of walks and spending some extra time outside!

What have you been up to so far this summer?

 

Our 2013 Yearbook

Corey and I have had a tradition of yearly scrapbooks since we first started dating eight years ago. I made our first scrapbook for his 17th birthday, and I have made one every year since then.

(2012′s book!)

I used to make actual old-school scrapbooks, but to be honest I’m not the best scrapbooker. Actually, I’m pretty awful at it. So in the last few years, I gave up on that and started to have photo books printed through Blurb instead – and it was the best decision ever! Last year I finally landed on a good format for the books and started making them a little more “official” and I love how they have turned out. They’re so much easier to store than the big, bulky scrapbooks I used to make, and we’re a lot more likely to keep them on display (and flip through them on occasion!) when they’re nice and small.

We just got our 2013 book a couple of weeks ago, and it was so fun to look through the year. Putting these books together always reminds me of how I don’t take enough pictures, though. I’m trying really hard to be better about it this year, and while I’ve taken about 11 million photos of Jackson over the last four months, I still don’t feel like I’ve been awesome about taking other pictures. I’m determined that when I’m putting 2014′s book together in January I’ll have plenty of photos to choose from!

One of my favorite features of these books is the very end – I do a two-page spread of what our house looked like at the end of that year. It’s fun to see how it has changed, and I like having this little record of what it looks like each year!

(2012)

(2013)

This year we also had a second book to order – my pregnancy scrapbook! I was really good about taking photos each week (I only missed one week) and documenting how things were changing and what I was feeling, so I wanted to make sure we had a book printed with all of my weekly updates. It took forever to put it together, but it was so worth it!

I’m currently working on a one-year book for Jackson with all of the weekly photos we’ve been taking of him. I’ve been trying to update it as we go with the pictures I take each week so that it’ll be easy to just order it at the end of the year rather than trying to put it all together at once. It’s going to be a big book, but it’ll be another good one to have…I’m of the mindset that you can never have too many photo books!

(A sneak peek at Jack’s book!)

How do you record your memories? Anyone else do photo books? What about regular scrapbooks? I wish I was good at making those!

(The Blurb link above is an affiliate link, meaning if you follow it and purchase something I will get a small cut. I didn’t get any of these books for free or on a discount – I just really, really love Blurb and their products!)

Shifting Priorities and Letting Go

Having a baby changes everything.

No, seriously, let me say that again: having a baby changes everything.

I’m sure those of you who are already parents are rolling your eyes at me, but I honestly don’t think it’s possible to even begin to comprehend how much your life will change until you actually have that tiny little human in your home. Since becoming a parent, I find that I am more relaxed, more confident, and I very quickly learned where my true priorities lie. It’s a wonderful change, but I’m still figuring out what all of these shifts are going to mean for me.

One change that has surprised me the most (and that Corey is the most excited about) is that I have let go of a lot of the things I used to stress about. A messy house used to drive me so crazy that I was in a bad mood until it was fixed – the house had to be just about perfect before I would be willing to invite anyone over, and I spent the majority of my weekends cleaning and organizing. Now? I’m not saying I let my house stay super messy all the time, but I’ve realized that a slightly messy house isn’t the end of the world. I do a bit of cleaning each night to try to stay on top of it, but if Jackson is feeling extra cuddly (or if I am feeling extra lazy), I just don’t do it. And while I do a bit of cleaning on the weekends still, I don’t let it take over my life.

Why the change? Because I realized that a clean house isn’t nearly as important as spending time with my husband and my son. And I realized that if I spend all of my free time cleaning, I have literally zero time for myself. Between work, Jackson, Corey, and the dogs, I feel like I am constantly giving my time to other people – and the little time I have for myself shouldn’t be wasted on cleaning. Since I’ve let go of the cleaning a bit, I’ve found that I’m happier, Corey is happier, and Corey is actually much more helpful with keeping things clean because I don’t do it all before he has a chance to step in.

This is way more important than a clean house! 

Another change that has drastically altered the way we do things around here is that we have significantly shifted our financial priorities. We have a bit of debt (from things like our new windows and other energy-saving upgrades to the house, as well as some we-were-young-and-dumb debt) and we have slowly been paying it down over the last couple of years. But now? Something about having a kid has made me realize I want to get it all taken care of now. I don’t want to pay it off slowly, I want to knock it out as fast as we possibly can and never have to worry about it again. That would be why you haven’t seen any home improvement projects around here in a while – they just aren’t happening because every extra cent we have (which isn’t much now that we are paying for daycare!) is going to debt. And I’m 100% okay with that, which is not something I think I could have said before Jackson entered our lives.

Do I still want to get new curtains for the dining room? Absolutely. Does our carpet still drive me absolutely insane? Yes – and I’m dying to replace it. But I know that if we deal with this other stuff first, we’ll be able to enjoy doing home upgrades with a lot less stress and a lot more wiggle room in our budget. So for now, I’ll let go of the renovations and improvements and live with what we have. And maybe every once in a while we’ll be able to splurge on something small (like we did for our bamboo blinds a few weeks back), but for the most part I am going to be focusing on making our house feel like home without spending any extra money. And I’m constantly repeating The Nester’s mantra to myself – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. I’m looking for the beauty in the things we already have in our home, and I’m embracing the imperfections for now. There’s no sense in getting worked up about things we can’t change yet.

So, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, the blog is going to be shifting focus for a bit. I still plan to write about home improvements as we do them, and someday I will get back to doing them much more often, but for now they’re just not happening. But what is happening is still worth sharing, in my opinion. We’re learning so much about ourselves and our priorities, we’re having a blast with a sweet new baby, and we’re figuring out this family of three thing (six, if you count the dogs) one day at a time.

I hope you’ll stick with me as the priorities and focus of this blog grow and evolve. I’d love to hear from you on what you’d like to see more of. I’ve had requests for posts about baby sleep (our little dude is a rockstar nighttime sleeper!) and working outside of the home with a baby, so you can expect those coming up, but I’d love to know if there’s something else you’d like to read about! I’m excited about letting myself loosen up the parameters of the blog a bit and letting go of the DIY posts for now without feeling guilty. I have a lot of fun ideas, so I promise things won’t get too boring around here.

For those of you who have kids, how did it change your priorities and goals? Anyone else learn to let go a bit?

Brain Dump

It’s been a while since I’ve done a brain dump style post. There isn’t much happening in our house right now (thanks to state testing season and the almost-three-month-old who has taken over our lives) but I’ve got a lot on my mind, so let’s dive right in.

Those of you out there who are already parents are going to laugh at me for this one, but holy cow I don’t think I realized how much having a baby would change everything. Don’t take that as a negative – I love my sweet little boy with all of my heart. But I honestly don’t think I ever could have been prepared for how much his arrival would turn my world upside down. Absolutely everything is different. Some of it is way better. Some of it is way harder. All of it requires a major adjustment. I feel like since he was born, we have been in a fog of new-parenthood, just trying to figure things out one day at a time. Some days we feel like we are doing awesome, and some days we wonder how we’re going to make it out alive. But now that he’s 11 weeks old, I feel like we are finally settling into a groove and things are getting easier. I finally gave Cullen a haircut for the first time in about three months the other day, I’m able to keep my house relatively clean, and I’m managing to cook dinner most nights. It’s a start!

Every year right around this time I reach a point where I am just over the school year. I think everyone in the whole school does. April is always a hard month to get through, because the weather is warming up and you want to spend all day outside, but you’re still over a month away from summer. May is easier because it feels like one long celebration of the end of the year, and you’re really in the final countdown. So, I’m in my April funk right now, but hopefully these last few weeks will go by quickly and May will be here soon…and then it’s really almost summer!

We took Jackson’s first bluebonnet pictures this weekend (Jackson and I went with some friends one day and Corey came back with us the next day!). For those of you who don’t live in Texas, you should know that it’s basically a requirement to take yearly photos in the bluebonnets. They’re so gorgeous and it’s impossible to resist them. I could just lay in this field all day long. It’s only about a quarter of a mile from our house, so maybe I will!

I made this strawberry cake this weekend and I cannot stop thinking about it. I’ve made it before, but I think I forgot how amazing it is. I honestly could have just eaten the batter and nothing else because it’s just that tasty, but the baked cake is pretty darn amazing too. Yum, yum, yum.

I cannot contain my excitement over Mad Men being back. I’m pretty mad that they’re splitting the season over two years, so I’ll be soaking up each of the seven (only seven??!) episodes we get this year. Corey and I are also excited about Game of Thrones, but we don’t have HBO so we’re behind already. Good thing we’ve read the books so there aren’t really any spoilers! Oh, and, can we talk about Kitchen Nightmares? Tell me I am not the only one hopelessly addicted to that show. Corey and I watched the season premiere this weekend, where they revisited Amy’s Baking Company…and oh goodness, those people are nuts. That show is so bad but oh so good.

What’s on your mind lately? What shows are you addicted to right now?