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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Jackson's costume this year revolved largely around his shirt, which we did not get a clear picture of ON him. So, here's a picture of just the shirt. He was an Alcatraz Escapee. His shirt "advertises" The Alcatraz Triathlon: Climb, Run, Swim.

Our little Halloween set-up :)

We hadn't really talked up trick-or-treating. I asked Jackson to say, "Trick or treat!" the other day and he caught that one right away. We handed him his blue pumpkin and headed out to take pictures, and he was pretty excited!

This picture makes it LOOK like we trick or treated, but really Jackson is just running two houses over to visit the white cat he is in LOVE with! Her name is Bree and he asks for her all the time. When he wakes up in the morning or from a nap, he immediately asks for either Elmo or Meow.

Uncle Larry arrived this afternoon just in time to spend Halloween night with us! He'll be here for a couple of days, and we are so excited!

Hanging out with Uncle Larry. I'm pretty sure he was saying, "Trick or treat!" in this picture :)


After a little interest in the whole Halloween thing, trucks took over again...

The ever festive Momo!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Virginia Beach with The Buerstattes!

This is a belated post about last weekend's trip to Virginia Beach! We are lucky enough that this was our third trip to Virginia Beach--it is the perfect weekend destination for us: it's not a long drive, we have had excellent luck with hotels, we love the combination of hanging out on the beach and walking on the boardwalk, and it just is a great place to relax. This time we brought friends: The Buerstattes! Brandi and I were good friend in college, and up until this past July, we have lived at least two states away. We loved the opportunity to just relax together this weekend :) Jackson and Kaitlyn seemed to really like being constant playmates for the weekend too (Kaitlyn is seven months younger than Jackson).

We drove down Friday just after lunch time, and we managed to have to drive through several accidents, so it took a little longer than planned. We did get checked in to The Dolphin Inn and then took off in search of dinner once we were all situated. We have stayed in different hotels each time we've headed to the Beach, and we have yet to be disappointed. The Dolphin Inn has each room set up as a suite. It was so nice to be able to put Jackson to bed in the bedroom and then wheel his Pack-n-Play into the living room once we were ready for bed. He was a super sleeper (and eater!) on this trip--sleeping until at least 7am each morning :) Each room also had a jacuzzi! That was an extra nice perk to the whole relaxing theme! For dinner our first night we walked to Pelon's Baja Grill. It was a bit of a longer walk, but that was fine with all of us after being in the car all afternoon! We went back to the hotel and put the kiddos to sleep before Brandi and I ventured out for an evening trip to Target. We needed a few grocery items for lunches, and I also needed to fill in the items I had forgotten to pack for Josh... I felt terrible! He would go looking for one thing or another, and I had either forgotten it completely, or it was still down in the car. I really do love him! LOL

We spent our first morning down on the beach. Even though it wasn't warm enough to go swimming, we had fun playing in the sand and wading in the water.

I had brought bubbles, which were a popular activity, but it was hard to "help" Jackson when he wanted to be in charge of the bottle and the wand... Needless to say most of our bubbles were spilled on the sand :(

Kaitlyn was NOT interested in sand for the first part of our outing. She wanted her socks and shoes put back on! Eventually, she let Brandi take them off again, and a little while after that she really seemed to enjoy herself :)

My mom and I found a mini-camp chair at a resale shop while we were in Evanston, and it was the perfect beach chair for Jackson! He loved having his own little place to sit!

Josh and Jackson played their first game of catch on the beach! It was so cute!

Brandi and Kaitlyn on the beach

Not a posed picture at all, but at least I have some proof I was at the beach with my son :)

Hugs for Daddy!

Brandi and me with Kaitlyn and Jackson

After we played on the beach, we all got ready for our respective lunch plans. Josh and Scott headed to meet one of Scott's friends at Waterman's Surfside Grille to watch the Navy vs. Notre Dame football game. Brandi and I took Jackson and KK to fancy McDonald's for a quick lunch before heading back to the hotel for naps.

Once we all were reunited, we set out for a walk along the boardwalk before dinner. We had a really nice walk--really enjoying the nice, cool weather-- and let the kids get out and play. They were super cute and let us take some good pictures, BUT then there were two toddlers who did not want to get back IN their strollers. Kaitlyn eventually settled in, but Jackson was a wreck. We were pretty sure he was just hungry, but I really didn't want to chance sitting down for a nice dinner and have him fuss the whole time. So, we left Brandi and Scott to go meet with their friends who were going to join all of us, and Josh and I took Jackson back to the room for a quick and HUGE dinner! Then we put him down for an early bedtime and ordered pizza for ourselves. We happened upon a delicious pizza place in June (they had the best coupon--that's how we picked), so we ordered from Beach Bella Pizza II again. After the Buerstattes got back from dinner, we hung out with some Dairy Queen :)

Jackson and KK's future engagement photo :)

The Buerstatte Family's first visit to Virginia Beach!

Josh and me on the boardwalk

On Sunday morning, we all headed out to walk down to Mahi Mah's for the breakfast buffet. Brandi and Scott had gotten coupons for complimentary breakfasts with their reservation, but it was not mentioned that the restaurant that had the breakfast was about a mile away! The Buerstattes graciously decided to skip breakfast the first morning, and to share their second coupon with us so we could all eat together the second morning. It was so worth the walk--the food was delicious!

After breakfast, the guys left to golf, and Brandi and I took Jackson and Kaitlyn to Grommet Island Park. The playground's motto is "A Beach Park and Playground for Every-Body." It was designed to be handicap accessible. There are lots of ramps, the floor is that neat rubberized material, and the areas to play are extra wide. Brandi and I were really impressed, and Jackson and Kaitlyn had a blast! Kaitlyn's favorite part was a swaying bench. Jackson found a slide that was just his slide! They were not happy to leave, but hopefully we'll get back there on our next visit! The Buerstattes were leaving Sunday afternoon, so we napped both kids in our room since they had to check-out late morning. Brandi and I had such a good time hanging out on our balcony, chatting, and relaxing :)

After the Buerstattes left, Josh and I took Jackson up to try out the pool. It was so neat! It was on the 8th floor of the hotel, and it was completely glassed in. We looked right out over the ocean while we were in the pool! Jackson had such a good time climbing out of the pool on the ladder and jumping back in! After swimming we headed to Johnny Manana's for dinner. This has sort of become my favorite place, and Josh makes fun of me because he doesn't understand my love. I get the same thing and it is a burrito with shrimp and mango salsa. I can get really yummy burritos lots of places near our house, but this combination is just so yummy!
Sliding: again, and again, and again...

On Monday morning, we went down to the beach for a little while and really just enjoyed our time together as a family. I'm sure that sounds cheesy, but we've been super busy (mostly fun busy, but busy all the same), and it was nice to just hang out together. We also were LOVING the cooler weather--it was a long and HOT summer! We had lunch in the room and then packed up and were on the road for Jackson to nap in the car. This was definitely the getaway we were looking for :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Beefcake Jackson

Jackson was so cute without his shirt last night! I was just trying to get one cute picture, but all of these together make it look like he was doing a shoot for a shirtless calendar!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can You Hear the Jingle Bells Yet???

I LOVE holiday cards! Going to the mailbox between Thanksgiving and New Year's is so much fun because there might be a pile of holiday cards in there! I pretty much love all holiday cards, but it's especially exciting when there are pictures and letters. I have lived for the moment I would have my own family to represent through a holiday card. Josh and my first card as The Smiths had one of our wedding pictures on it. We have sent out picture cards ever since; they featured us and Pax in the beginning, and now they showcase Mr. Jackson Albert. We even combined his birth announcement with our holiday card in 2008:

This was a Shutterfly card--luckily Shutterfly saves your old projects!

I am almost ready to order our holiday cards for this year! Some may call me crazy, but I really like to take advantage of the good deals! I have found that photo sites reward early planners. I got some crazy good deal last year on our cards, and was determined to do so again! In the process of shopping around, I came across an awesome offer for bloggers from Shutterfly! If you write a blog showcasing Shutterfly's holiday card selection, they will give you 50 free holiday cards!

When choosing a site for my holiday cards, I am really drawn to one with a large selection of "generic" cards. I don't necessarily WANT all my cards to specifically say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah." Last year I ordered "Happy Holiday" cards and personalized according to holiday with different address label. Yeah, I pay THAT much attention to detail... Shutterfly has come to my rescue year after year. Their prices are really reasonable, they have great design selections, my cards arrive pretty quickly, and their are always great coupons!

For a holiday card geek like me, Shutterfly has attracted my attention because of the fun other products you can order: address labels and gift tags! I thought I would give you an example of each...yes, they happen to coordinate because that's how I roll :)

There are tons more address label options HERE!

Here is an option for a coordinating gift tag: Beary Merry:

There are more gift tag options HERE!

Shutterfly has a great promotion going for early birds like me: 20% off of holiday cards until October 27th (I realize that is today, but I'm sure there will be a new promotion soon!).

Disclaimer: This post was part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mimi and Bampa's October Visit

Playing in a box. No explanation needed.

Hanging out with the pumpkins and Mimi :)

We went to the Mall Saturday morning. By getting there before the museums opened, there was tons of parking! There also weren't a lot of crowds. We walked towards the Capitol and then over to the Lincoln Monument. It was a pretty day, even though it was windy :)

Jackson discovered his shadow while we were walking by the Reflecting Pool. He mostly wanted to be carried, which is fine except he's getting so dang heavy! Once he discovered his shadow, however, he kinda raced it to the Monument. Phew!

Monday morning was the last bit of time we had Mimi and Bampa with us. BUT, when we see them again in December it will be for a nice, LONG visit!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jackson's Second 2nd Birthday Celebration

We were so excited to have Mimi and Bampa's visit to look forward to after Jackson's birthday party last weekend! Never one to pass up an opportunity for cupcakes, I made round two of birthday treats: chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting with purple and orange 2s on them. They were quite tasty, if I do say so myself :)

Shortly after pointing at the candle flame, Jackson blew out his candle all by himself! He's really getting the hang of this!

More cupcakes followed by more presents... I think Jackson could get used to this attention!

Jackson is now the proud owner of the Mega Bloks Recycling Truck! It comes with blocks to stack, and they have stickers with pictures of different recyclable items so he can pretend recycle. The truck has an arm that moves the recycling bin up and down. It can collect the little blocks too. The driver has a trusty puppy side-kick. What reliable recycling service doesn't? :)

Thanks for coming all the way to Virginia to celebrate with us, Mimi and Bampa!