4 Years

Corey and I are back at school this week and are trying to get settled back in for the spring semester – our Christmas break was fabulous but it always throws us for a loop when it’s actually time to get back to work! It’s a bit crazy around here lately, but I just had to pop in for a quick post about today because…

It has officially been four years since this amazing man and I got married.

Four years!

We’ve been together for nine years now, and I can’t believe that next year we’ll have been together for an entire decade. He makes me so incredibly happy and sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky to find someone that is so perfect for me.

I love our little family and how much our life has changed over the last year. I’m so excited to be celebrating four years with this man, and have a hard time believing that in just a few weeks we’ll be celebrating our son’s first birthday. How did that happen?

We’re celebrating this weekend with a date to one of our favorite restaurants, gifts (we don’t usually do them, so this is a big deal!) and a movie at home. It’ll be our first “real” date in a while, so I’m pretty thrilled!

Happy anniversary, love!

Book Club: Hands Free Mama

Have y’all heard of this book?

I’ve been reading her blog for several months now, and it speaks to me in a way that not many blogs do. Every time she writes a new post, I find myself pausing to read it a little more slowly, and pondering the contents for quite a while afterwards.

I’m very, very guilty of leading a distracted life a lot of the time. I’m constantly trying to juggle several different things at once, and my phone and I are attached at the hip (errr – fingers?). I have a hard time going more than a couple of hours without checking in with Instagram or Facebook, and I can barely even get through an hour-long television show on the couch without pulling out my laptop to look at Pinterest or something else completely random and meaningless.

I want to disconnect a bit.

I want to slow down, see the beauty in life a bit more, and stop being so damn distracted all of the time.

And this year, 2015, will be the year for that.

I was given this book for Christmas, and I’m so incredibly excited about it. I sat down to read it one day a few days before the end of 2014, and I started with the introduction. In it, the author mentions that the book is intended to be read through in a year – one chapter a month. She encourages readers to take their time, soak it all in, and journal their way through it. This isn’t a book that you consume really quickly and forget about – it’s one you should savor, take your time on, and really truly think about.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do.

And I’d love for some friends to join me along the way.

I’m starting this month with chapter one. From what I can tell, each chapter seems to be broken into three different sections, with weekly “intentions” or challenges for the week, and a section at the end for reflection. I plan to read one section a week for the first three weeks of each month, then on the last week I’ll do the reflection part. Some months are slightly longer than 4 weeks, so it may not be broken up exactly like that, but I’ll figure that out as I go. In the end, I want to focus on one chapter each month, and I want to truly spend time pouring over the pages of the book and taking it to heart.

I’ll probably be doing a lot of personal journaling as I go through the book, but at the end of each month I’d like to stop in here with a post about the chapter I read, my thoughts on it, and what my experience was like throughout the month.

Will you join me?

You can get the book on Amazon for about $10 (the Kindle version is only $2.99!), so it’s not overly expensive. And no, this isn’t sponsored and I won’t get anything if you buy the book. I’m just excited and I would love to have some people to chat with as we work our way through the book. You don’t have to be a mom to get something out of this book – I think it is something that anyone could take something away from, even though it’s geared towards parents.

I’m curious to see how my attitude and focus changes over the course of the year…I feel like January is always the perfect time to start making some changes, so I’m ready to dive in!

Have you read the book? Are you interested in reading along with me this year?

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!!

Jackson: Ten Months

Stats: Haven’t weighed him lately but he was about 19.6 pounds at a doctor appointment in the middle of the month. After that huge jump in the last few months, I think he’s slowing down a bit!

Clothing Size: Moving into 9-12 month clothing! He fits better into brands that sell 6-12 month, and most of the 9-12 month stuff is still pretty big on him – especially the pants! But, he’s officially too big for his 6-9 month pants, so he’s at an in-between phase. Still in size 3 diapers!

Sleep: Hasn’t really changed at all this month. He started waking up earlier for a couple of weeks because he got sick, but he’s mostly back to normal now!

Eating: Still loves to eat everything! Anyone who sees him eat for the first time can’t help but comment on how good of an eater he is, and we’re constantly having people tell us how lucky we are that he eats so well! His favorite meal is breakfast, he usually only gets it on the weekends and he LOVES scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, and English muffins. We’ve found a few things he’s not a fan of finally (mushrooms, bell peppers, and green beans) but he eats just about everything else!

Milestones: So many changes this month! Jackson does a “real” crawl everywhere now, I haven’t seen him army crawl in quite a while. He is getting more and more confident with his cruising and can sometimes walk just holding one of my hands. He is so cautious that he doesn’t like to try it very often without full support – he always wants to hold onto something when he’s standing up, even though I’ve seen him stand unassisted several times. He’s a careful little guy! We also have our first words this month – he says “da” for “dog” and says “go” when we get close to a door and he wants to go through it (it sounds a lot like his word for “dog” but we’re confident that’s what he’s saying, so we count it!). He also says “bubba” sometimes when he’s talking to Ranger (which was officially his first word!). He cut his first two teeth this month, and along with that he had his first sickness and spent five days home from daycare this month! He waves sometimes (when he’s in the mood) and seems to learn a new skill just about every day!

Things we want to remember: I love how he whispers when he’s concentrating on something, and when he babbles at me like we’re having a real conversation. I also want to remember how sweet he is right now – I get lots of (short) cuddles and hugs now!

Special outings or adventures: We went to the Fall Festival at church for Jackson’s first Halloween – he had a blast! He spent a good two weeks either sick or recovering from being sick this month, so it was a pretty relaxed month at home.

Favorites: Still loving naked time and playing at the window. He loves to throw his toys now and balls are his favorite toys. Well, balls and the refrigerator – he likes to climb in it and pull out all the food! He’s LOVING the cold weather lately and gets so excited to go outside when it’s cold. When we get home from school he’ll shriek “go” at me when the dogs go to the backyard and wants to go squeal and laugh and chase the dogs around the backyard.

What we’ve learned: We learned how awful a sick baby is and how terrible it is to feel so helpless when he’s sick. We learned that teething is the absolute WORST and are already steeling ourselves for the rest of the teeth that will have to come in. We’re learning that Jackson just gets more and more fun as he gets older, and just how amazing it is to watch him grow!

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!