ANNOUNCEMENT! Active posting at this site has ended (no more picture room). Please continue reading Smith Stories at You'll be automatically redirected to the new site in "
"seconds unless you CLICK HERE!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Days in Evanston, Take Three

Thursday was a nice laid back day. I started the day out with a run and after breakfast, Jackson and I took Pax for a nice, long walk. It was SO much nicer out today! While that all was lovely, the time between about 10:30-2:00 was a bit rough :( Jackson got tired super early so we bypassed lunch (since the act of sitting to eat lunch was apparently devastating...), and laid Jackson down really early at 11:30. He went right down, but only slept for an hour! He seemed pretty upset to be awake, actually. But for some reason or another, he couldn't get back to sleep. We took Pax for another walk and that at least was a nice calm activity! I had planned to take Jackson to Nan's pool for a little swim and then we were bringing Nan back to Mimi and Bampa's house for dinner. I decided to still go with that plan, and Mom and Josh went on with their plan to go play par three golf. I am so glad I took Jackson to the pool! He had the best time! He was so excited to sit on the edge of the pool and "jump" into my arms! He even liked going under water and even asked for that again and again! I was especially pleased when I told him we would do five more jumps before leaving. I counted very clearly after each jump and after the last one I told him we were all done and we were going to get ready to go. He walked right up the stairs and let me get him dried off and dressed without any sort of fight! Go Jax!

Jackson seemed quite pleased to have Nan at "his" house to play with! He gave her plenty of kisses and hugs, which was fine with her!

She even helped Jackson eat his dinner--phew!

Another possible struggle avoided! After dinner, Jackson put some of his trucks in his wagon and pulled them around. Then, he remembered he could sit in the wagon! Of course, Nan was a willing participant to pull Jackson in his wagon! He LOVED this! He loved it even more when he put all of his trucks in the wagon WITH him!

Dad was the last one to get home and Jackson exclaimed, "Bampa!" as soon as Dad walked in! It was really cute, but got even cuter when Jackson walked into the kitchen with a piece of popcorn and handed it to Bampa! It was so adorable! I love that he is thinking of sharing on his own :) Of course Jackson figured out how much attention this little trick got him, so he kept offering chips and popcorn to us all! It definitely did not get old :) Pax made out pretty well too!

My three boys!

Passing out popcorn.

Pre-bedtime wrestling!

Four generations :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Days in Evanston, Take Two

I LOVE seeing what Jackson finds to play with when we are visiting my mom and dad! At home, Jackson loves hiding in the kitchen cabinet and playing an elaborate game of Peek a Boo. He has found the linen closet at Mimi and Bampa's to do the same thing! I barely brought any toys from home (just one bag's worth for the car). There is a good selection that we have inherited that stays in Evanston. Jackson doesn't seem to miss his "usual" toys one bit! We even have different books since we visited the library here on our first day. One of the best things Jackson has found to play with is a carry-on sized suitcase! My mom had a few upstairs and Jackson started wheeling the little one around upstairs. The suitcase took an unfortunate trip down the stairs, but then it was available to play with downstairs in the main play area! Jackson rolled that thing around and around! It did get put away tonight since he was starting to think it was a grand plan to drag it up or down the stairs...

Yesterday Jackson and I headed over to Barnes and Noble to meet my mom for lunch. We were joined by our friend, Roberta, her daughter, Becky, and her granddaughter, Annie. It was really fun to catch up! Unfortunately, we did not get any pictures :( But, Jackson was gracious enough to share a yogurt melt with Annie!

Our plan for the afternoon included driving to Hoffman Estates to visit the Tadelman family. So, Jackson "rested" in front of Jack between lunch and getting ready to leave for the afternoon. He was definitely a tired boy lounging in front of the TV!

When we got to Auntie Dale's house, we got some one-on-one time with Ryleigh. Jackson was not as interested as he was last time we saw them, but I think he was focusing on warming up to everyone. Ryleigh is such a happy little girl (she's almost six months old!), and she just loved looking all around and kicking her little legs! She really enjoyed the exersaucer and Jackson was funny to watch as he showed her all of the things she could do.

He and Ryleigh both enjoyed watching Auntie Dale dance to the music the exersaucer played :)

Jackson made himself right at home and tried to hide in Auntie Dale's pantry! He is such a ham!

For better or worse (usually worse), Jackson is very interested in whatever we are drinking these days! He especially loves if we have something we will share through a straw. He's getting in some practice drinking from a "real" glass, and he enjoyed some of Mimi's iced tea on this afternoon.

Auntie Dale gave Jackson an awesome racing ramp Chuck the Truck toy! Auntie Kelly and
Auntie Abbey were a willing audience as Jackson tested out all of the buttons.

We had a yummy dinner and had just enough time for our traditional group picture before taking a very tired boy back to Evanston.

Summer Days in Evanston: Jackson's First Chore!

Jackson LOVES feeding Pax! He loves feeding him his meals or treats--he's not particular. He is a great advocate for Pax and is always trying to give him extra--that might be why they are such good friends... :)

Time for breakfast, Pax!

Here Mimi. Let me hold that for you.

The food goes in the bowl.

Make sure you keep sitting, Pax!

All gone!

Make sure you get them all!

Let me put these away. I know where they go!

Summer Days in Evanston

After a busy weekend kicking off our visit to Evanston, we started off our week by picking up Nan and going to lunch. Jackson had a great time entertaining Nan while he ate! I was thrilled that he let Nan feed him the rest of his yogurt that he had given up on (he won't let me feed him anymore by a spoon!).

Once Jackson and I got back from lunch with Nan, Jackson was not in the napping mood :( Mimi was nice enough to hold down the fort (in other words, listen to his cry it out in hopes of forcing a nap) while I went to run an errand (which happened to be buying Mimi's belated birthday present). The crying did NOT end in a nap, so we took a nice, long walk to Starbucks instead. Of course, on the walk, Jackson did fall asleep! Go figure!

When we got home from Starbucks, Beth, Lindsey, and Eric came over to see Jackson. Lindsey and Erin really enjoyed checking out Jackson's toys, especially the band instruments! Jackson did a really good job of sharing his toys--that always makes me so happy! At the end of the visit, Josh ended up with one Saxe child on each leg! Jackson thought this was pretty funny, and he followed behind with his trucks!

On Tuesday morning, Erin, Ben, and Katie came over. We walked over to Timber Ridge to play on the playground. We all had a good time playing on the equipment , but it was pretty warm! I don't think anyone was disappointed when it was time to head to lunch. We introduced the Huk family to Big Herms and it seemed to go over quite well :) It was tough, but we corralled the three kiddos for a quick picture!

After a good nap, Jackson and I headed over to Old Orchard to meet Kim! We shopped around and tried to go in as many stores as possible since it was still really hot! After some shopping, we headed back to Mimi and Bampa's house to pick up Josh and play for a few minutes. After Jackson showed off for Kim, the four of us went over to Lou Malnati's for some yummy pizza! It was SO good, and Jackson ate an excellent dinner! I swear this kid is living on air some days! Jackson loves getting to hang out with Kim and even puts up with plenty of kisses :)

Jack's Big Music Show!

The truth is, I was going to title this post: I Love Todd Hannert, but I thought that would be a little odd. The fact is, that I DO love ALL of Todd Hannert's work! I loved his book Morning Dance even before I had my own child.

Jackson now LOVES "Jack's Big Music Show!"

Let me back up and give you the background on this one. Before we moved to Virginia, I taught at Elgin Academy in Elgin, IL. I was blessed to work with an amazing staff of talented teachers and staff. To be honest, I always imagined starting our family in our Crystal Lake house so my children could attend Elgin Academy and have Mary Hannert as a part of their Early Childhood experience. She is an amazing teacher and everyone loves her! Sadly, it does not look like that will happen since our commute would be a bit lengthy now :) Anyways, Mary WAS at my baby shower before I had Jackson. One of the gifts she gave me was a Curious Buddies DVD: "Look and Listen at the Park."

I knew that Mary's husband, Todd, spent a lot of time out of the country working on his children's music show. I remember checking it out once when I was flipping channels, but I didn't give it much thought since I didn't have my own children. Jackson has really not watched much TV until recently. We live in a three-story townhouse with the main play area on the main level. We do not have a television on the main level, so there was no reason for Jackson to have much exposure to TV. However, we went through a period a couple of months ago where Jackson was waking up from his naps earlier than he should, and I could tell he was still tired and would like to still be sleeping! I finally though to turn on a DVD so he could continue relaxing before jumping into more playtime. The DVD I chose was the Curious Buddies one Mary had given me. Jackson LOVED it! He sat still for the whole thing totally entranced!

Once that was a success I DVRed a few episodes of "Jack's Big Music Show" since it too was by Todd Hannert. Well, Jackson LIVES for Jack now! At home he stands by the gate to go down to the family room and says, "Shoo! (Show!) Jack!" Here at Mimi and Bampa's, he asks for it as soon as he wakes up. Frankly, at 5:30am, that sounds like a great activity in my book... Even better, none of us "grown-ups" are annoyed by it! It's a hit all the way around :) I asked my mom to Tivo a few episodes in anticipation of our arrival so Jackson could have some Jack to watch. The first morning we were here, however, I realized that nothing had Tivoed since they do not get Nick Jr! Oh no! Jackson and I were headed to the library anyways, so we checked for some Jack DVDs while we were there. We found the only one that exists ("Let's Rock!") and have now watched it approximately 1,043,672 times ;)

We also checked out a CD ("Jack's Big Music Show: Season One). That has been fun to listen to in the car. Yes, we are a bit obsessed, but since we all enjoy it, I'm happy to appease Jackson :)

The characters on Jack (Jack, Mary, and Mel) always have some guests that help them perform. There is a list of the wonderful guest performers listed on the Wikipedia page along with an episode and song guide and some other neat information like some connections to "Sesame Street!" My two favorite parts of each show are Jack tapping his foot in the theme song and Jack's mom reminding him that they have an activity to get to soon. The activity is always different like knitting class or pole vaulting class!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Sunday in Evanston

This morning Jackson helped Grandpa make pancakes!!! He took his apprentice job very seriously and worked quite carefully! I just love all of these pictures :)

Jackson DID take a morning nap this morning for the first day in almost two weeks, probably, but then there was no afternoon nap :( I think that might need to be a project while we are away... Luckily, today was gorgeous weather-wise, so Mimi and I took both boys on a walk to CVS. After dropping off Pax, Jackson, Mimi, and I walked for about an hour down to Central St. and go ourselves a little snack. It was a perfect afternoon to just walk, and we took full advantage of it :)

Jackson has been quite a trooper even though his schedule has been thrown off. Even the couple of days when he hasn't napped in the afternoon, he has been in a fine mood. I am very glad about that because I want Jackson to enjoy his time with family and friends we don't see very often, but I do think we might need to work on getting on a good schedule while we are here... The past few days have held the first situations in which I think Jackson is too busy playing to be bothered to eat (or nap!). He has not had much of anything to eat the last two nights for dinner, but he doesn't seem to be starving. Maybe tomorrow he'll surprise me and have huge meals!

As I was getting ready to get Jackson ready for bed, I realized all of the jammies I had brought were in the wash. Luckily, we had just gotten another box of clothes from some friends and there was a pair of jammies in there! They are a touch big, but they are Spiderman and super cute!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Saturday in Evanston

On Saturday morning, my mom got to see the results of her having taught Jackson the sign for "coffee" a few visits ago. Jackson begs us to make coffee every morning (and during the day sometimes), but we only make coffee at home on the weekends.

The sign for coffee is to put your fists on top of each other and rub them together. As Jackson mastered the sign it morphed into one first under his bent elbow and rubbing those together. It's pretty funny how adamant Jackson is about coffee time!

After coffee time, Jackson spent his morning checking on the baby robins nested above Mom and Dad's downspout at the front of the house. They were so cute! It was fun watching the mama bird repeatedly return with food for the babies. Jackson loved climbing up on the couch and checking on his friends. He even could, "Cheep, cheep, cheep!" at them :) Sadly for us, the babies successfully flew out of the nest today! Jackson still checks on the nest for good measure!

Jackson and I met the Masnato girls at Northbrook Court to catch up. Jackson was pretty shy, but he kept making sure Laura and Christina were within his sight as we walked around the mall! Christina also introduced Jackson to Silly Bandz--he is in a big bracelet phase--kind of random, but very cute :)

Jackson and I drove back to Evanston and picked up Josh and Larry to meet Dad at Big Herms for lunch. Sadly, there was no afternoon nap in Jackson's plan for the rest of the day. Hrmmm... So, Mom and I took Jackson with us as we took Pax toPetSmart to get his nails clipped and to pick up some more food for the good boy :) Jackson LOVED wandering around the pet store! This PetSmart has a doggie daycare, so Jackson was able to check out the puppies playing. He was super excited to see any dog that came in to "shop!" As a reward for Pax, we took a walk once we got home. Of course, Jackson fell asleep right at the end of our walk, so we let him continue sleeping it off in a shady spot of the driveway :)

At this point, the rest of us started getting ready to go to our cousin, Joe's, wedding reception. We had SUCH a good time! We had a great sitter come over to stay with Jackson and we were all able to enjoy a beautiful, outdoor evening. Luckily, the weather was much more mild than the previous days'!

Road Trip to Evanston

Thursday evening we left Springfield, VA for our much anticipated road trip to Evanston, IL! I think we all did a great job traveling, and we pulled into my parents' driveway just before 4am on Friday morning!

Josh slept off the drive while Jackson and I got situated. Jackson found one of the animals that rides in a truck we keep here and then Mimi gave him a measuring cup. Jackson carried the sheep in the measuring cup around for a while! He decided that was a snack for Pax and followed after him holding out his full measuring cup! It was so cute!

After a failed morning nap attempt, Jackson and I hit the library, Target, and Barnes and Noble to visit Mimi. By the time we got home, Josh was ready to get up and head to Big Herms for lunch. It was the first double dog Josh had had since Christmas, so it was extra yummy! After a nap, Jackson and I headed to Panera to meet Mimi and Nan for a snack. Nan shared her cinnamon roll with her beloved great-grandson, and he thought it was quite tasty :) Jackson also enjoyed his first Horizon milk which means he got to drink his milk out of a juice-box type of thing.

Before dinner, Jackson got some time in with Uncle Larry who had arrived during his nap! Jackson used to never allow anything to ride in/on his trucks. Now, however, he likes to sit in the wagon Mimi got for him and be pulled around!

Of course, our first night's dinner was Lou's for pizza! It was SO good!