Week in Review

My favorite thing about summer (other than the whole “no work” thing) is that we have the opportunity to go out and do things as a family on a daily basis that we don’t normally do. Last summer it took all of our effort to get out and do something once a week, but this summer we’ve been out and about doing something every single day. It’s been a blast (for us and for Jackson!) and I love that we’ve gotten to check out so many places that we don’t go to regularly.

We’ve been to the pool or splash pad at least once (usually more) a week since the summer started. Jackson absolutely adores it, and it’s a great way to fill some time. We’ve recently heard lots of stories of local kids getting sick from bacteria at the splash pads, though, so we may have to rethink our plan…what a bummer!

You may or may not know that I have a slight obsession with Alice in Wonderland. I collect various versions of the book and movie and it’s my favorite childhood story. A local museum had an Alice exhibit so we had to go check it out – Jackson had a ton of fun, even though it was geared towards slightly older kids, and I loved going to see it as well!

We headed back out to one of the wineries with my best friend from college and her daughter for lunch one day – it’s halfway between our two houses, so it’s a perfect meeting spot, and we had a ton of fun. We love getting our two kids together, and lunch was fantastic!

Other than our “big” events, the week was filled with more of the usual…playing with blocks (“bocks!”) near constantly, going on family walks, and watching an ungodly amount of television. You know, typical summer!

How was your week?

Life Lately, Part 2

Ready to finish catching up with us? Let’s dive right in to where we left off – the beginning of the summer (aka: my favorite time of the whole year).

It was a bit bittersweet to leave daycare that last day of school, because it was Jackson’s last day in his current class. Next year he’ll be with a new teacher and his old one, the one who has had him since he was 7 weeks old, won’t be working with him anymore. I’m a little brokenhearted over the change, but I know he’ll have a good year next year…and we have the rest of the summer before we need to worry about it!

The beginning of summer was filled with as much fun as we could cram in. We went to a local splash pad (which is officially Jackson’s new favorite activity in the entire world), we spent a ton of time cooking together and letting Jackson use his new learning tower (which is officially my favorite invention in the entire world), and we just relaxed as much as we could possibly manage.

At the beginning of the summer Corey and I headed out on our first date in quite a while. We met some friends out at their house on the lake and visited a few local wineries. We hopped around and did tasting at different places, then we headed back to their house to go out on their boat. It was the perfect, idyllic summer afternoon and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. We’re hoping to do it again later this summer, and can’t believe it’s taken us this long to go check out the wineries that are so close to us!

We’ve also found a new obsession this summer – Trader Joe’s. We got one here in Austin a while back but we hadn’t ever tried it. I went on a whim when Corey was out of town for a One Act Play thing and I fell in love. I know for those of you who’ve had it forever this is old news, but my goodness I can’t get enough!

We headed to San Antonio for a weekend to visit our best friends from college. They have a daughter Jackson’s age and we love going to hang out with them. We went to Sea World and just spent the weekend enjoying ourselves and seeing one another – it was perfect! We loved letting Jackson experience all of the animals at Sea World, but he was still a little too young – he slept through quite a bit of the time we were there because he was just so exhausted from all of the excitement of the weekend!

Fourth of July was low-key, but perfect. We grabbed donuts in the morning at the new donut shop that just opened right down the street from us (dangerous!) and went to watch a local parade. We had planned on going to the pool right after but forgot towels so we headed back home instead and let Jackson play in his baby pool in the backyard. It was the first time we’ve broken it out and he adored it!

Whew. We’ve been busy! Now you’re all caught up on the excitement going on in our home lately – it’s been a perfect summer so far and I’m so grateful we’re only about halfway through it. We have so many more fun things in store for the rest of the summer and I can’t wait to get started!

What has your summer looked like so far?

Life Lately, Part 1

Well, that last post was a downer, no?

To answer the questions I’ve been getting a lot lately: No, he’s still not back and yes, we’re still constantly checking the shelters. My heart still hitches a little every time I hear Cullen go crazy barking at the front window, and I still have dreams that he randomly shows up in the backyard.

Ugh.

Anyways. Let’s talk about something else.

I’ve been a bit very absent lately, so I thought it would be appropriate to catch you up on what’s been happening in our home lately. It’s a two-parter, because ain’t nobody got time to sit a read an entire novel on what’s up with my life.

Here we go:

This perfectly sums up how I felt about the end of the school year this year.

The spring semester was absolute insanity in our house. Corey is the co-director for the One Act Play in our district, which meant he had practices almost every night (and often lasting until past Jackson’s bedtime). They performed well which meant more and more competitions, several of which were far enough away that he had to stay overnight. In addition to that, he was very involved in UIL (an academic competition), and was gone several Saturdays in March and April for competitions. So, Jack and I had a lot of mommy-baby time in April and May!

We spent lots of time on FaceTime with dad, and Jackson learned to get very excited when I put the phone on speaker. It was so sweet to see how excited he got when he saw Corey’s face on that screen, and it made the time apart (a tiny bit) easier.

As hard as it was to do so much solo parenting over those few months, it definitely helped Jackson and I bond even more and gave me a ton of confidence as a parent. I felt like superwoman for getting everything accomplished all by myself, and I’ve never liked being alone so I think it was probably healthy for me to learn how to handle it better!

My second Mother’s Day was a total partial success. We had a baby dedication at church in the morning…who schedules these things for Mother’s Day? The last thing I wanted to be doing on Mother’s Day was wrestling my toddler into being quiet and still in front of the entire church while he screamed and tried to run away to knock all of the microphone stands over. Maybe this is why most people do it when their babies are younger? Unfortunately our church doesn’t do it very often and we missed out on the last one, so this was our only chance – it was important to my family, and to me, that we got to do this, so we soldiered on but my goodness I wish it had been on a different day! After that we celebrated with my family at one of my favorite restaurants and spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying ourselves – which was needed after our hectic morning!

Oh yeah, and let me tell you about that beard. I mentioned that Corey is co-director for One Act Play? Well, he has a superstition (left over from when we were in high school) about not cutting his hair throughout the length of the competition. This year, it extended to not shaving as well. He already hadn’t shaved since September-ish, so by the time practices started in January I was already desperate for him to shave…and we still had five months to go! Let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite look of his, and you’ll see it grow (and grow, and grow) throughout this post.

This was such an incredibly busy time for us, so on the nights where we were all at home and together we cherished every second. Like I said before, I’m not awesome at being alone so I definitely struggled with these few months!

At the beginning of May we got to focus on my job for a bit and headed to our local Special Olympics track meet. We go every year and always have a blast. This was Jackson’s second year going but last year he wasn’t mobile so it was a whole different ballgame this time around. He spent half the time running around and practicing his track poses as you see above…and the other half doing this:

Okay so maybe he didn’t spend half of the time screaming, but it felt like it. He didn’t really love the idea that he was supposed to just watch everyone else have fun and not actually participate.

We got a new dresser for our bedroom (more on that in a different post!) and Jackson had a blast at Ikea “helping” us push the cart. Can I just say this is the best age so far? I love that proud little grin!

The spring semester was mostly about Corey’s job and his accomplishments, but I had one major victory – getting asked to present at an education conference! It was a huge deal for me and so exciting to be asked to participate. I just attended the conference a couple of weeks ago, and the presentation went well – definitely a big and exciting first for me in my career!

I don’t know how far exactly this all made it in the news, but our area had some serious weather issues in late May. It rained for what felt like a billion days in a row, there was insane flooding all over the place, and I think we had more tornado watches/warnings in a two-week span than we have had in my entire life so far. There was one particularly scary day when Corey was out of town (it was right before the State One Act competition) where I had to spend a couple of hours holed up in the garage with Corey’s brother and dad and the weather was scary. Jackson handled it like a champ, but towards the end I did have to break out my laptop for some videos to keep him occupied – a real treat since he almost never gets screen time!

In late May (the last week of school, actually), it was finally time for the State One Act Play competition. I was so incredibly proud of Corey and his cast for making it this far but so incredibly ready for it all to be over! I took a half day off of work to go watch them perform, and I’m so glad I did – it was an incredible experience and I can’t express enough how awesome it was to see a team Corey worked that hard with accomplish that much. Corey and I started dating while doing One Act Play in high school, so it holds a very special place in both of our hearts, and I’m so glad he gets to be so involved with it.

Y’all. Do you see that beard? He looked like a homeless lumberjack! You can’t see the hair well in this photo, but let me tell you it was not cute either. Corey knows how I felt about this look, so let me be straight with y’all: it took every ounce of willpower in my body to not shave his entire head every night after he went to sleep. I wanted to throw a party when he finally let me cut it after the competition.

But, the good news is, I guess the superstition worked – Corey’s team won State (which hasn’t happened in our school district in a very, very long time)! I didn’t get home until about 3:00 in the morning after that competition and had to wake up at 5:30 to go to work the next day…let’s just say I was glad it was the last week of school!

Next up? Our summer so far!

What’s your life been like lately? Anyone else suck at alone time?

Ranger

I’ve sat down to write this post about five different times now, and I just haven’t been able to make myself do it. But as hard as it is to talk about, it’s time.

I’ve shared a lot about our lives with our dogs over the years. They were our babies before we had our actual baby, and they’ve always been an important part of our family. We always get told we are crazy for having three dogs (we can’t deny it – we are!) and as much chaos as they have added to our lives, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Which is why this is so hard.

About a month ago, we had some friends over – it was supposed to be just a small group of friends but it quickly morphed into more people than we ever anticipated, including lots of kids. Normally we keep our dogs in the backyard for the first few minutes after people arrive, then let them inside so they aren’t stuck in the yard all night. This night, however, there were several kids who had never been to our house and who were petrified of the dogs. There were also a lot more people than usual, and I knew it would just stress Ranger out to have him inside. The other two dogs got let in a couple of hours into the night, but Ranger is extremely socially anxious and didn’t want to come in so I kept him out there where I figured he was safer.

But then, some kids wanted to go outside to play in the yard. And I let them, because I figured Ranger would be more comfortable with a few kids in the backyard than the dozens of people in the house. But no adults were out there to watch them, and they were chasing him around the yard. Ranger is one of the most docile and sweet dogs I’ve ever known, so I knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt them…but I didn’t consider that without any other option, when he got stressed out, he’d look for an escape. The kids came in a few minutes later and told us he had gotten out of the backyard.

We had no idea it was even possible. There was a hole in the fence that we’d patched, but apparently not well enough. Corey and I immediately ran out to try and find him and began searching the neighborhood. We called my sister to help and a few people from the party came outside to help as well.

We spent hours searching. We all spotted him at one point or another, but he wouldn’t come to any of us (not even my sister, who is quite literally his favorite person in the entire world). The only consolation we have is that he wasn’t scared at this point or acting nervous. He was clearly thrilled to be running around and free, and he was panting and wagging his tail like he was having the best day of his life. But we couldn’t catch him.

Eventually we had to give up for the night, but we continued to search the neighborhood every chance we got for the next week. We posted his picture all over the internet, we called every shelter in the area, we left food out, we left our clothing out where we last saw him, we took the other dogs to help search…we basically did every single thing we possibly could to find him.

But we never did.

On Friday it will be one month since Ranger ran away, and we still check Craigslist and the local shelter every day. I’ve been running in our neighborhood in the mornings, and I constantly keep an eye out for him. My heart is in my throat every time we leave our house as I scan the streets and neighboring fields to see if there’s any sign of him.

Hadley has taken it the hardest. She constantly looked for him for the first few days he was gone, and she still hasn’t figured out how to play and get her energy out without him here. Jackson still checks for him every time we go to get Hadley out of her kennel, and I honestly expect him to be sitting by our front door every single time I come home.

There’s no good way to end this post except to say that our hearts are broken and we miss him dearly. We have heard many stories of dogs coming home after longer than this, so we still have hope. But a piece of our family is missing, and things just aren’t the same.

Summer Bucket List: Personal Edition

When I shared our family bucket list, I mentioned that one thing I want to focus more on this summer is myself and really fostering my own personal interests and hobbies. It’s not something I’ve done enough of ever since I had Jackson, and it’s high time I fix it.

It’s really hard to find time in the normal chaos of my days to really do anything for myself, so now that we’ve got a nice big break for the summer I figure it’s the perfect time to make a change and start some routines that I can hopefully continue into the school year as well. So, here are the top five things I want to do for myself this summer:

1. Do house projects – at least three! I haven’t done a damn thing to this house in about a year and it’s killing me. I miss doing projects around the house and I miss being creative. We’re in a tight spot financially right now so I’ll get to be extra creative with what I do, but this is way overdue. I have a nice long list of cheap or even free projects that I want to tackle this summer, and I’m determined to get a few of them done!

2. Read a book. You guys, I haven’t read at all since having Jackson. I can’t even say why…my time has just been full of other things! I miss reading so much and really need to get back into the habit of always having a book on hand, and this summer is the time. Any book suggestions for me? So far all I know is I have to hop on The Girl on the Train bandwagon, but I’m so out of touch with what else is even out there! Jackson and I took a trip to the library this morning and I picked up Lena Dunham’s book, so I’m hoping that library visits will become a regular thing for us!

3. Exercise. Towards the end of the school year I started waking up extra early to get myself exercising again, and it was great. I hated waking up at 5:00 in the morning, but it was really worth it to feel good about myself and feel strong and healthy. I fell out of the habit a couple of weeks ago due to the absolute craziness of the end of the school year, but this week it’s on. I got up early this morning and ran in our neighborhood while listening to Serial – I’m excited to finally catch up with it and I have a long list of other podcasts to check out, so this should keep me busy for a while!

4. Clean house. There are so many places in our house that are so messy and so unorganized. I have been putting it all off for the summer, and now that it’s actually here I’m a little overwhelmed by all I need to get done! I’m taking it one room at a time, though, and I’m going to get it all done! I’m hoping that I can purge some extra stuff and maybe even make a little money selling stuff along the way. I already dove in with a big trip to a local kids consignment store last week and made $50, so  I think I’m off to a good start!

5. Make some freezer meals. This has been on my to-do list for a long time – we’ve struggled lately to stay on-budget with our groceries and I really want to take control of that a little more. I’m trying to be a little more organized with our shopping and actually track prices of items, but I also want to spend some time this summer prepping freezer meals to make things easier on us on those crazy weeks where we can’t keep up with everything we have to do. My goal is to prep at least 10-15 meals – ideally I’d like to have enough meals to do 1 per week for the whole first semester of next school year!

I’m really excited about actually writing down these goals and having a plan for getting myself back on track. I often complain about not “having time” for any of these things, but the truth is I just haven’t made them a priority for myself lately – and that stops now. I’m so excited to get started and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m actually successful.

What are some things you want to do to take care of yourself?