Week in Review

You guys – my summer is officially over. Corey and I head back to work on Monday – we have a week of training/inservice with no students and then school starts next Tuesday. I have the weekend and then my freedom is gone! Boo!

Here are a few highlights from our last week of summer:

– Unpacking from vacation is always awful but it gets exponentially worse when you have a toddler. I seriously think I did seven loads of laundry in the first few days after we got back!

– Poor Jack had not one but two doctor’s appointments – one for a vaccination and one to do a final check-up with the ENT for his ears (which, thankfully, have been clear all summer!). I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s done with ear infections for good!

– We had one last summer adventure – we headed to the botanical gardens and had lunch at our favorite food truck park downtown. We’ve been wanting to make that trip all summer and I’m so glad we did…although we said next time we go we want it to be spring so it’s not a million degrees outside!

– I’m spending today in my pajamas to fully embrace the laziness of my last real day of summer. I’ll be working my butt off all day cleaning and prepping for next week, but I refuse to get dressed for it!

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A few of my favorite links…

– These Nutella s’mores pop tarts look ridiculous.

– I can’t get over how realistic this faux marble treatment looks!

– The backsplash in this kitchen? I’m swooning!

How to get shit done.

– This is quite possibly the most ridiculous (and hilarious) Instagram account I follow. NSFW-ish.

This post on marriage was so inspiring to me this week.

Our First Family Vacation

Whew – we’re back!

We had an amazing vacation. Jackson’s first cruise could not have been more awesome and I’m so, so incredibly glad we were able to go. It was the first time we’ve ever been able to vacation with my entire family and it was just lovely. I’ll try to keep the rambling to a minimum but I can’t resist sharing some of our favorite photos and moments from our trip!

We went up to Galveston two nights before we cruised (which is what we always do, so we have some time to settle and have a “pre-vacation vacation”. We went to Pleasure Pier for the first time and were all pleasantly surprised. Jackson was able to ride several rides and it wasn’t crowded at all so we hardly had to wait in line for anything.

The next day we hit up the beach (first time we’ve ever gone to the beach in Galveston – I can’t believe we’ve been coming here for so many years and have never gone!) and Jackson had a total blast. He loved the sand and the waves and couldn’t get enough of it. We also went to the aquarium and out to dinner at the same restaurant we always go to the night before we cruise…my family loves tradition!

Finally, on Sunday, it was time to sail! We were worried about Jackson catching a nap that day since we wouldn’t get to our room until far after his nap time, but thankfully he fell asleep in the terminal while we waited to board.

The first two days were sea days, meaning we didn’t stop at a port and just spent all day on the ship. I love these days because I never get tired of exploring the ship! Jackson couldn’t really go in the pool at all since he’s not potty trained (though I’ll admit we snuck him in for a few minutes a couple of different times) but we found a million other ways to occupy ourselves. He loved looking off our balcony into the water and shouting “wheee!”, riding the elevators, and just running wild around the ship touching everything he could get his hands on.

We ended up deciding the official motto of our vacation was “Go! Go! Go!” because that’s what Jackson kept shouting if we sat still for more than a few minutes at a time. The kid was in heaven and couldn’t possibly have had more fun.

Our first port was Cozumel – we had an excursion to an all-inclusive beach house and it was perfection. Jackson fell asleep on the ride over and stayed sleeping on the beach for a while (talk about a perfect setting for a nap!) and we spent the entire day being lazy, playing in the sand, swimming, and having lunch on the beach. It was heaven.

We had more down time in the room on this trip than we ever have before. Corey loves it, but I get antsy so it worked out well for him to hang with Jackson in the room during most of his naps while I stayed out with everyone – Corey loved to nap right along with him! I ended up taking nap duty one day so he could get some good adult time too, but he loved his quiet time in the room with Jack.

I was worried about dinner and how Jackson would handle having to sit still for so long in a nicer-than-normal restaurant. We like to eat in the main dining room and dinners can be lengthy. Luckily I had very little to worry about, he loved playing with everyone at the table and he adores my family so it was easy for him to be happy just hanging with everyone. He usually got out of his high chair around dessert time to snuggle with me and his pacifier & blanket.

We stayed on the ship for one of the ports (Belize) because we love having the ship basically to ourselves, and on the last port (Roatan), we had a couple of cabanas on the beach to spend the day in. It was another perfect excursion for a toddler – Jackson loved to play in the sand, run in the waves, and he even took a nap in a hammock with my dad!

Of course, not every moment was perfect. We had our fair share of meltdowns, tantrums, and diaper disasters (did you know it’s actually impossible to find a changing table anywhere on that dang cruise ship?), but we were able to keep a good attitude about it and it didn’t get in the way of our fun!

I can honestly say it was the best vacation ever – it was so fun to experience it all through Jackson’s eyes and we’re already talking about how we can’t wait to go back next year. We both agreed that Jackson seemed so much older and less baby-like when we got home – I don’t know if it was the traveling or just the timing, but his expressive language seemed to explode over the week we were gone and he grew up so much!

Now we have just this week left before we head back to work (boo!), real life (booooo!), and say goodbye to summer (booooooooooooo!). Here’s hoping we can get the house back in order and get settled back in early this week so we can soak up our last precious moments of summer break!

Our Latest Trader Joes Haul

You guys, I have a confession. I’m addicted to Trader Joe’s. I can’t believe we had one for almost an entire year before I went to check it out, and now I can’t keep myself away.

I’ve become mildly obsessed with reading up on what other people like to buy at TJ’s, and I’m constantly looking for new ideas on what to check out. I figured it’d be fun to share what we bought on our last Trader Joe’s visit, and hopefully solicit some ideas from you on what we should buy next time!

Here we go!

Vegetable Medley: Just your basic pre-prepped veggies, perfect for popping in the oven and roasting. These aren’t anything special but are more affordable that the pre-prepped vegetables at our local grocery store, so I was excited to snatch them up!

– Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: This is the best hummus I’ve ever had. I love the flavor, the texture, and everything about it. Corey even agreed it was the best store-bought hummus he’s tasted!

– Pomegranate Seeds: I got these for Jack to try out, and he’s not a huge fan. Corey and I both enjoy pomegranate seeds though, so they got eaten. These weren’t as good as others I’ve had though, so I probably wouldn’t buy them again.

Organic Grapes, Frozen Peas, and Cherry Tomatoes: Just your run of the mill produce. The tomatoes were particularly tasty!

– Sweet Basil Pesto Chicken Sausage: This stuff is delicious! We cooked it to give Jackson for lunches throughout the week, and couldn’t resist stealing some from him every time we made his lunch. I’ll definitely be getting this again!

– Porchetta Italiana: Holy cow, this meat is good. We ate it with some cheese and bread that we got (see below) and agreed we’ll be buying this very regularly.

– Black Forest Ham & Oven Roasted Turkey Breast: Just got this for sandwich meat. Don’t think it’s any better than the lunch meat at the deli at our grocery store (though it is cheaper) and I’m picky about my lunch meat, so we’ll probably stick with that for now.

– Lobster Ravioli: We cooked this with some shrimp and the cherry tomatoes, along with a butter/wine sauce and it was ridiculous. So good. I could eat it every night.

– Frozen Shrimp: It’s frozen shrimp, nothing special, but very well-priced so we’ll buy it again!

– Frozen Pork Shu Mai: I’ll admit, I was slightly disappointed by these but Corey was a fan. They were a bit bland and I’m probably spoiled by the amazing fresh potstickers our local grocery store sells. I don’t think we’ll get these again.

– Frozen Orange Chicken: I kept hearing how good this was, and we aren’t typically the type to keep pre-packaged meals on hand, but we decided to give it a shot and were pleasantly surprised! We’ve also tried the frozen lasagna and it was great too! I think we may try to start keeping some of these meals on hand for busy nights when we don’t have time to cook…it didn’t really taste like a frozen meal at all!

Toscano Cheese with Black Pepper: Oh man, this stuff was a winner. It tastes like parmesan with a texture more like Gouda and it was so, so, so good. I think we’re going to start doing weekly chef’s boards for dinner because it’s our current favorite way to eat, and this cheese will be making a regular appearance!

– Flowers: I can’t go to Trader Joe’s without buying a bouquet of $3.99 flowers! These are gorgeous and I’m always shocked at how long they last!

Dark Chocolate Cookie Butter Cups: I don’t think I even need to tell you that these are amazing. They are. Amazing. Wonderful. Delicious. Must have them all the time.

– Organic Applesauce: Jackson is applesauce obsessed, so we always have it on hand. I’m not a fan so I haven’t tried this, but it smells a billion times better than the stuff we normally buy, so I’ll probably keep purchasing it from here!

– Chocolate Chips: I haven’t used these yet because we already had some cookie dough in our fridge when we bought this and I haven’t had a desire to make cookies again yet, but I’ve loved all of the TJ’s chocolate products I’ve tried, so I have faith these will be a winner too. They were almost half the price of the chocolate chips I usually buy, so fingers crossed that they’re delicious!

– Multigrain Demi-Baguette: We popped this in the oven to toast it up and ate it with the cheese and meat from above – the flavor combination was perfect and I can’t stop thinking about that meal. I want it over and over and over!

– Buttermilk Bread: You guys, this stuff needs to be in my house at all times. I am in love. Corey isn’t as big of a fan as me because he doesn’t like dense sandwich bread but I could eat this every day and never get tired of it. So fluffy, so flavorful, so YUMMY!

– Rose: I’m on a big rose kick right now and have been snatching it up every chance I get. This one was great – a bit cheaper than what I normally spend on wine, so that was great, and it tastes fantastic to boot!

– Olive Oil: You guys, I’m appalled at how much more affordable their olive oil is than the stuff we normally buy. I don’t think I’ll ever buy it from anywhere else again – perfection!

– Fruit Leather: Jackson is obsessed with these – he loves them as a special treat, so I have to grab a handful every time we go!

– Inner Peas: Corey is addicted to these! I like them, but actually prefer the brand I normally get at the grocery store – they’re flavored (the sun-dried tomato flavor is my favorite!), and these really just made me crave those!

– Granola Bars: These are good! I like to have this sort of bar on hand for a quick breakfast on mornings where I don’t have time to do more, and this was perfect for that purpose. It’s tasty, not too much sugar, and it kept me full until lunch time – can’t complain!

– Kale Chips: Nope. Not a fan. I love kale, but something about these was just off – definitely won’t be buying them again.

– Pita Chips: These were great with the hummus! I liked that they were a bit thinner than the pita chips I usually buy.

Whew. That was our latest haul from a couple of weeks back – we’re running low on everything, so I have a feeling we’ll be making another trip soon…any suggestions on what we should try this time?

Jackson: 18 Months

Stats: At his 18-month appointment, Jackson was 26 pounds, 3 oz, he was 32.5″ tall, and his head is 19.5″ (giant head!!).

Clothing Size: This has been the first time Jackson has sized up before he’s hit the age threshold for his clothes! He moved into all 24-month/2T shirts at about 17 months because his torso is so long that his 18-month shirts were turning into crop tops! He’s still wearing mostly 18-month bottoms but the 2T ones are getting closer and closer to fitting him properly.

Sleep: We’re down to one nap a day – about 12:30-3:00. He goes down for the night at 6:30 and generally wakes up around 7:30. We’ve had a few difficult days with the one-nap transition – we learned that we absolutely can’t try to shorten the nap or push it back, and we have to be very careful to protect the nap (not letting him nap “on the go”, etc). The one day that we messed with his nap, it ended up screwing up his sleep for the next three days!

Eating: He’s officially a toddler. He seems to subsist on bread, fruit, and air. He’s gotten incredibly picky and I don’t think he’s touched a vegetable in weeks, unless it’s hidden in a pouch or smothered in ketchup. Most days we’re amazed at how much energy he has for how little food he eats, and we were concerned enough to bring it up with the pediatrician at his appointment, who, of course, told us that we were worried for nothing and this is typical toddler behavior.

Milestones: His speech improves leaps and bounds on a daily basis. We’re constantly shocked at how much he understands and how well he follows directions, and we are at a point where Corey and I can understand about 90% of what he says. He has more than 50 words, and gets more and more emphatic every day when he’s trying to tell us something. He’s started doing some pretend play and is so helpful with doing chores around the house (he’s constantly stealing my broom and mop!).

Things we want to remember: I want to remember the sweet, sweet way he calls my name when he wants me, and the way he wraps his whole body around me every morning when I get him from his crib. I want to remember how eager his is to read and how the first words out of his mouth almost every day are “sit! book!” I want to remember how adorable it is when he wants us to play with him and tries to lift our bodies off the couch shouting “up! up!” and how he doesn’t say “yes” yet so he giggles/squeals anytime you ask him a question he wants to say yes to.

Special outings or adventures: So many since he turned a year! The big ones have been trips to visit friends in San Antonio & Dallas, lots of trips to the pool, splash pad, parks, library, and local museums, a trip to College Station, and an upcoming cruise!

Blowing a kiss!

Favorites: His favorite toys are books, Duplos, and anything he can put into other things (like pom poms and pieces of vegetables that he puts into/takes out of various bowls while I’m cooking dinner). He’s going through a mommy phase and won’t let me out of his sight most of the day, and is obsessed with his grandpa (my dad – anytime we talk about him he starts whispering “pa pa pa pa pa pa” and looking for him). Corey and I love to play blocks with him, to watch him learn new things, and the fact that he can actually tell us what he wants.

What we’ve learned: We’ve learned that almost all toddlers go through a picky phase (he was such a good eater, we thought we’d avoid it!), we’ve learned how important it is to protect nap time, and we’re constantly learning how to handle tantrums and crazy toddler behavior.

 

Week in Review

This week was crazy! Here are some highlights:

– We’re leaving to go on our cruise today! We’ll be in Galveston for a few days and then our ship sails on Sunday. We’re so incredibly excited to share this big trip with Jackson and cannot wait. If you’re in the mood to read up on our past cruises while we’re gone, you can find the recaps here, here, and our honeymoon here and here

– I purchased a Groupon for a hair cut/color a few weeks back and have been saving it for right before our vacation. I finally got it done this week and I’m loving it – I had her do balayage highlights and it’s so fun and different.

– Jackson had his 18-month appointment yesterday…I can’t believe how quickly he’s growing! Look for his 18-month update next week while we’re gone!

– Packing for a week-long vacation with a toddler is pure insanity. I seriously contemplated the need to rent a U-Haul to get to Galveston!

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Here’s what caught my eye this week:

– Lily Rabe seems to be coming back with a bigger role on AHS this season. So excited – I love her!

This was so incredibly inspiring and motivational to me.

– We grabbed some of this earlier in the week and have been drinking it with rum all week long. Delicious!

– I’m embarrassed to admit I needed a blog post to help me master the “front tuck” but this one is great!