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?


My Summer Bucket List

Every year right around this time, I like to write out a quick list of all the things I want to accomplish over the summer. Since Corey and I are both teachers, we have a ton of extra time over these next few months, and since Friday will be the last day of school (!!!!), it’s about time I get this list written, huh?!

In the past, I’ve been pretty awful about actually completing the items on the list (see 2012, 2013). Especially last summer, since I spent the whole two and a half months with morning (or, more accurately, all day) sickness and crazy pregnancy exhaustion. This year, I’m going to be as realistic as possible and hopefully that will mean I actually accomplish everything I want to! So, here’s the list:

1. Do something fun at least once a week.

We’re pretty good about getting out of the house during the summer, but we aren’t necessarily good about trying new and exciting things. Now that we have Jackson around, and he’s getting to the age where he’s a little more interested in actually doing things, I’d like to spend our summer trying to find things we can do as a family! There are a few good museums and botanical gardens around Austin that I think Jackson might enjoy, and the park is always a great option. Mainly, I just want us to get out of the house and enjoy our city this summer!

2. Work on our bathroom.

Hey, remember when we tore our bathroom completely apart, posted once about it, and then never mentioned it again? That was fun, right? Yeah, that bathroom looks exactly the same as it did when we started demo-ing it a few months ago. We’re going to put any actual work to the bathroom on hold for a while, but I’d like to at least get it re-insulated and get the walls back up. I’d also like to finish demo-ing it soon. If we can at least accomplish that much, I’ll be able to live with it for a while until we’re ready to start putting it back together!

3. Get Jackson napping in the crib.

I’ve mentioned that Jackson is an awesome nighttime sleeper. We lucked out there. But naps? They’re a mess. I almost always have to hold him to get him to take a good nap, and usually it requires some swaying, bouncing, or even walking around the block. And I’m over it. I love the cuddles, but I need at least a small piece of independence back – this summer, Jackson WILL learn how to nap in his crib!

4. Take a ton of pictures.

I’ve been pretty good about taking photos lately, and I want to keep it up! I always get to the end of the year and feel like I didn’t take nearly enough as I’m working on our yearbook, so this year I’m going to make sure that’s not a problem! I plan on having my camera with my just about everywhere I go this summer, so this one should be easy!

5. Do something to our house.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s been a while since we’ve made any sort of progress on the house. We’ve been focusing on other things, which has been good (and important!) but this summer I’d like to find a few cheap or free projects that we can do. I miss working on our home!

6. Spend time outside!

This is a goal of mine every summer, but I think it’s an important one! It’s hard to be motivated to get outside when it’s 105 degrees in the shade, but I love being out there and so does Jackson! We’re gonna have to keep him safe in the crazy heat, but I want to make sure we don’t spent the whole summer cooped up inside!

7. Be social!

Corey and I have a bad habit of hiding in our house and being totally anti-social when we have extended time off. I don’t want this to happen to us this year! Some of our really good friends just moved from being 4 hours away to only 2 hours away, so we’re going to try to meet up with them at least once or twice this summer. I also want to make sure we take advantage of other opportunities to hang out with our friends and family – it’s so easy to hole up and just be alone (we’re total homebodies!) but we always enjoy it when we actually spend time with other people.

8. Start exercising again.

I haven’t worked out at all since we had Jackson…and that’s unusual for me! I haven’t quite figured out how to handle the crazy “work full time while taking care of a baby AND squeezing in exercise” schedule yet, so I’ve been putting it off for this summer. I’m going to get back in the habit of doing some sort of exercise 4 or 5 times a week, then hopefully I’ll keep it up once school starts back up in the fall!

9. Declutter.

I’ve been working on getting some of the extra clutter out of our house for a while now, but we aren’t quite done yet. There are so many nooks and crannies in our house that are stuffed to the brim with crap and it’s just about time to get rid of it. I feel like we’re constantly bringing new stuff into the house but we aren’t always so good about getting rid of old stuff. Plus, if we can sell some of the random things we have floating around, we’ll have a bit of extra money to do something fun with!

10. Soak up this baby stage!

Jackson is at such a fun age right now, and I want to enjoy every second of it. I get frustrated with him when he won’t sleep or on fussy days, but I also know that I’ll miss this phase of his life once he’s bigger. Corey and I are so lucky to be able to have the next couple of months off of work to be with him, so I want to make sure we appreciate it and make the most of the time we’ve got!

Alright, that’s my list. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to get them all done this summer, but I’m also pretty good at completely failing at these lists, so we’ll see what happens!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

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!



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?