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Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Heart Shoe Organizers!

My love of over-the-door shoe organizers began about three years ago as I was organizing and re-organizing Jackson's nursery.  I found myself in a panic as to what to do with all those itty bitty socks!!!  They wouldn't stay piles in a drawer, and I finally thought of THIS!  It also has worked wonders for storing other small odds and ends.  For a while, Jackson also liked to park his pacis in a lower pocket until it was sleep time again :)
This was my next Shoe Organizer Project: the door in our hall closet. We had a wide hall closet in the townhouse, and I had worked out some shelving in there to house my littler items.  This is a standard size closet, so this organizer works perfectly for outdoor flags, door decorations, and small items I put in my purse when we are going out to eat or somewhere where we might have to wait :)
While our pantry in the new house is certainly larger than our old one, who doesn't want a larger pantry???  So, Shoe Organizer to the rescue, yet again!  I'm loving the pockets for oatmeal packets, apple sauce and fruit cups, fruit strips, raisin boxes, taco/chili seasoning, granola bars, and breakfast bars :)
And, finally, here is my fourth Shoe Organizer Project: the garage!  I had just finished saying to Josh that I would love it if he could build me a little shelf for small things like bubbles and chalk when I was at my neighbor's house and saw her organizer on a garage wall!  GENIUS!  Now, I have a great spot to stash bubbles, chalk, doggie bags, other doggie items, small balls, and more bubbles :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Potty Training Update

Jackson is doing AWESOME!!!  We are officially declaring him day trained :)  I was pretty frustrated at the beginning of last week.  He didn't have many accidents, but he also was holding his pee all morning!  I just couldn't find the feeling of success I had expected in that.  Everything came to a head on Wednesday when Jackson and I were out and about a lot, and he had a big accident in his carseat :(  It was my fault because we were in the car for so long and not at home enough.  But, I just felt very frustrated at that point.  I really was convinced I had started too early and even though Jackson really WANTED to go on the potty, he just wasn't ready : ( On Thursday, however, he started speaking up when he had to go potty, and he went on the potty almost every time he said he had to go!!!  I was SOOO excited!!!  He has just continued on that way since :D

The big test was Sunday when we were in Annapolis for the day (more on that coming later).  There would be no break for a nap with a diaper, and we would be out and about with only public restrooms at our disposal.  Jackson did great!  He stayed dry all the way to Annapolis, and then he told us a few times during the day when he needed to go.  He went each and every time we took a potty break!  He isn't the least big phased/scared of public restrooms!  YAY!  

Jackson is super proud of himself too!  That is a really fabulous thing to see :)  Last week he seemed to have a love/hate relationship with his Big Boy Undies.  SOOO excited in the beginning, then he would protest putting them on each time a bit, and now he asks for them all the time!!!

We are just so proud of Jackson--he is getting so big!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Mega Edition

Several weekly menus and recipes shared at once...because I've been a bit behind... :)

Monday: Pizza Bake
Tuesday: Book Club night, so Josh had leftovers.  I took Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Pita Chips for dessert to BC
Wednesday: I ate out for a friend's birthday, so Josh has leftovers...again :/
Friday: dinner at neighbors'
Saturday: BBQ Salmon, Corn with mayo, chili seasoning, and Parmesan cheese, and Tahitian Coconut Bread (recipe below) with Homemade Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt (recipe below) for dessert
Sunday: Red Robin for Brandi's birthday dinner with Chocolate Stout Cupcakes for dessert

Monday: Pigs in a blanket with fries
Tuesday: Date Night :)
Thursday: leftover BBQ chicken sandwiches
Friday: BBQ chicken quesadillas with salad
Sunday: We spent the day in Annapolis, MD!

Tahitian Coconut Bread (this is a recipe we got at the Polynesian Cultural Center while in Hawaii!!!)
2c coconut
4c flour
2t baking powder
1 1/2c sugar
1 1/2c water

1.  Combine coconut, sugar, and water
2.  Blend flour and baking powder
3.  Mix all together into a doughy mix adding a little flour so it's not too sticky
4.  Form individual loaves, and wrap each loaf in aluminum foil and bake.
5.  Bake at 350 for 1-1 1/2 hours

Homemade Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt
Plain Greek Yogurt makes a great base for this dessert--I used the Chobani brand.  For each two cups of yogurt, mix in 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar.  

1.  Mix to your desired peanut-buttery-ness and sweetness.  
2.  Freeze
3.  Thaw on counter for about a half hour before serving.
4.  Fresh fruit is really yummy as a topping!  I've tried it with peaches so far, but there are tons of choices!

For more yummy recipes, head over to Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday!

Roycemore is on the Move!

My dad gave Jackson this AWESOME hard had before we left Evanston last month!  It says "2011 at 1200 Davis."  Jackson loves his official hard hat!  I can't wait to take him to see the new school when it's finished late this fall!  Roycemore has established a YouTube channel on which they are posting weekly podcasts to show the progress on the building: Roycemore School's YouTube Channel  It's really fun keeping up on the progress from a distance :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo...

Jackson was SO excited when I woke him up Sunday morning and told him we were going to the zoo!!! We had sung a song at storytime that started out, "I'm going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How 'bout you, you, you? You can come too, too, too." Jackson started singing that before we left--it was so cute! We left early since it was supposed to heat up later in the day, and we had a great time :)  Jackson kept changing his mind as to what he asked for: giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers, panda bears, monkeys, turtles, etc.  He was pretty much excited to see anything we stopped to see!
Look familiar? We took a very similar picture right around Jackson's 1st birthday :)
Daddy and Jackson watching the elephants eat and play
Checking out some birds
LOVE these guys :)
Not the best picture, but that's ok!
Jackson LOVED following the elephant footprints leading to the elephant viewing area!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cute Pictures :)

Jackson is LOVING puzzles!!!  We are seeing some amazing development as he works out how to do certain puzzles by himself now that he used to need a decent amount of help with!!!  His two favorites right now are Melissa & Doug Deluxe Vehicles in a Box and Infantino Colors and Shapes Puzzle.  He can do them all on his own and gets so excited when he shows us his hard work!!!  He spent lots of time working on these while we hung out at home for the first three kick-off days of potty training :)
Last Friday, Liam hung out at our house while Brandi and Kaitlyn went to swim class!  I finally found the box of "baby toys" I knew I had somewhere so Liam had some fun things to play with!  Jackson LOVED helping me set up the playmat and going through all the toys.  He said, "New toys Mommy!"  Yup, new because you don't remember when you used to play with them ;) 
Hugs for Liam!
Liam fell head over heels in love with Sophie the instant she hit his mouth :)
Being an awesome faux-big-brother and showing Liam all the fun toys from the box!
Jackson tried his old sunglasses on Liam--cool shades, Dude!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Potty Training!!!

I really hadn't decided on a certain time when I would work on potty-training Jackson.  I do believe boys take a bit longer and that potty training is the most successful when the child is ready!!!  That being said, Jackson has been showing HUGE interest in the potty for the past few months.  I will admit that I succumbed to some peer pressure (there was none placed on me, I just got caught up in the potty frenzy), when some friends with older children were really working on potty routines.  I bought a potty chair a while ago (around when Jackson was 18 months, maybe?) and he was terrified of it!  At that point I had had a few conversations with friends about potty chair vs. just starting on the big potty, and there were definitely mixed beliefs.  A bit later I decided to capitalize on Jackson's love of Elmo and buy a potty ring to go on the big potty.  That worked like a charm, and Jackson no longer was scared of the potty, but liked to sit on it and read books!  Excellent!  We did that for a while whenever he was interested, but he never did anything while on the toilet.  Fast forward to February when Brandi took a weekend and used 3-Day Potty Training with Kaitlyn.  After a few times of observing KK using the potty and getting turns on it at both her house and Rachel's house, Jackson started talking about the potty more!  He started talking about trying to put his peepee in the potty and he was super interested in flushing, washing his hands, and watching Josh and I go to the bathroom.  (We would even receive praise sometimes!)  So, I decided that after our two-week trip to Evanston, I would try the three day thing...  I know Jackson's emotionally ready and really excited, so I figured we'd take that and run with it!  Here is our story:

T-Minus Two Days
Jackson and Mommy go to Target to pick out special Big Boy Undies and yummy drinks!!!

T-Minus One Day
Mommy washes new undies!

Day One
We woke up, got dressed, and ate breakfast.  Then I brought out all the Big Boy Undies so Jackson could choose his first pair!  He put on his undies and we prepared to hang around the house :)  The idea behind this specific program is you put your child in underwear, stay as close to them as possible for the three days, and catch them in the act of having an accident to take them to the bathroom.  You praise them for staying dry, telling you when they have to go, and when they actually go in the potty!  I was SO nervous approaching this first day!  My stomach was literally sick :(  I just didn't know what to expect.  So, Jackson had on his Big Boy Undies, had a special vanilla milkbox to drink, and we just went with it.  In the first couple hours he had about five accidents.  We rushed into the bathroom each time and then changed his undies.  Jackson definitely did not like the feeling of pee running down his legs, and definitely let me know!  After the first few accidents, Jackson protested putting new undies on, but I pushed for him to wear them.  Then I remembered that lots of people swear by the naked approach.  So, I didn't push him to put his undies on, and just let him go bottomless.  Once we had that established, we had a successful bathroom visit!  I was SOOO excited!  There were literally tears in my eyes!  LOL  I think he had had two milkboxes and two juiceboxes by naptime...  Right before naptime I caught him right before he had to go and he had a nie, long pee in the potty!  YAY!  I decided I'm focusing on daytime dryness first.  We have gotten into a great sleep routine, and Jackson is a very heavy sleeper.  I just don't think we need to stress ourselves or him out about waking up to go potty while he sleeps at this point.  At naptime I explained to Jackson how proud I was of him, but that staying dry while we sleep is a little trickier, so we are going to keep wearing diapers at nap and bedtime.  He totally just went with it!  So, he had a nice, long nap, and we picked up where we left off after naptime.  I must admit I was feeling pretty good at naptime.  Because Jackson and I communicated so well right before, I was kind of hoping the feeling of having to pee had clicked.  I think I was a little ahead of myself...  I continued to pump him full of liquids and ask him to check if he was dry continuously.  He did really great!  He stayed pretty dry and then had another successful potty visit around dinner time.  He was REALLY proud of himself after he got so much praise from us :)  That was pretty awesome to see!  All in all, Day One was a success!

Day Two
When Jackson woke up I immediately put him in Big Boy Undies and got him dressed.  Jackson had slept pretty late and Brandi was dropping off KK and Liam soon, so Jackson and I hurried over to Target to restock our yummy drink supply!  He did awesome and got such a kick out of checking to see if he was still dry--he was our whole outing!  I know it was just luck since he hadn't had anything to drink, but a success is a success for him!  Thursday morning was a bit harried with all the kids, but that's my fault for thinking I could still concentrate on Jackson as much as I needed to :(  I was pretty frustrated with myself for not getting us on as smooth of a path as the first day, but that's ok!  I continued to pump Jackson full of liquids this day and tell him often, "Just let Mommy know if you need to go potty!"  I did determine that if we can actually get an answer out of him to whether or not he has to go to the bathroom, it is an accurate answer.  That's good to know!  LOL  Thursday was a beautiful day!  I really wanted to get outside to enjoy the weather, so I chanced it and took Jackson out to play after naptime.  We took our drinks and Jackson rode his trike, played with bubbles, and drove his Cozy Coupe.  He did awesome staying dry and then told me he had to go potty!  He didn't actually do anything once we got in the bathroom, but I was so happy to was starting to think about telling me.  Right around dinner time, Jackson started towards the stairs and asked for a diaper!  It dawned on me that he had to poop!  So I excitedly rushed him to the bathroom and he had an awesome potty experience in all ways (I'll just leave it at that)!  I was pleased to see him peeing a lot at once since I had started to worry on the first day that he didn't know how to empty his whole bladder which would leave us with lots of small experiences and more chances for accidents.  We were so proud of him!!!  By this time of the whole program, I could tell it was tiring him out!  Poor guy! It's hard work to learn how to do this!

Day Three
On Friday, I changed Jackson into Big Boy Undies and we went down and ate breakfast.  He drank two milkboxes and half a juicebox and still hadn't peed by noon!!!  I couldn't believe it!  I had diligently been asking him if he had to go, reminding him to tell me, and asking him if he was dry.  Finally around noon, he started to have an accident, but we caught it in time and most of it went in the potty!!!  WOO HOO!!!  We left at that point to run a quick errand at Walmart (stayed dry the whole time!), and then we came back home for naptime.  Friday afternoon we took a walk after naptime (stayed dry the whole time!) and hung out at home.  Before we left to go to a neighbor's house for dinner, I demonstrated how we should go potty before we leave the house.  Jackson went after me and he got a whole pee in the toilet!  True, I initiated that one (you are supposed to let the child tell you when they need to go and not remind them constantly), but I consider that a success :)  While we were at our neighbors' Jackson did have one accident, but it was later than he's usually up, he was super busy playing, and he's still very new at this!  

I'm still a little nervous that I started this too early.  Maybe Jackson was emotionally ready, but not really physically...  But, we are going to keep on trucking!  As demonstrated Friday morning, he has a pretty strong bladder, so that's a great foundation!  We just need to get him to tell us when he's ready to go, but that will come.  So, I think we are in a good place with Jackson and what we want to accomplish.  In terms of this specific method, eh.  I didn't feel any connection with the author as I read it, and I know she has tons of success stories, but there are  an awful lot of generalizations about what ALL children can be expected to do.  It definitely works for some people, but we are still tailoring it to our needs.  My goal now is to get our lives back in our routine where we aren't staying home drinking ridiculous amounts of liquid, and to see how it works in "real life."  I will carry extra clothes with me for a while, probably, but I think Jackson is definitely on the right track, and we are SOOO proud of him!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Babysitting Flashback

When we go home to Evanston, we are lucky enough to have an awesome babysitter!  Jackson LOVES when we tell him we are going out and Katie is coming to babysit :)  I met Katie and her family when she was 5 (13 years ago!!!) and in my group at Summer Stuff Day Camp.  At that time she had one younger sister and a younger brother.  Bridget was 3 and Billy was 1.  A year later, Katie got a second younger sister, Molly.  Fast forward to now when Katie is 18, Bridget is 16, Billy is 14, and Molly is 12!!!  I cannot believe it...  Anyways, I sat for the Maloneys a lot and even went on a weekend trip with them while Bill stood up in a wedding and Katie and Bridget were flower girls.  We went to Indiana about two months after Molly was born, and I have to say it was a really fun trip!  Here are some pictures from that trip, as a reference point:
These next pictures are of Katie and Bridget playing with Jackson at a playground by Mimi and Bampa's house. Since Katie is off to the U of I in the fall, I wanted Jackson and Bridget to get to know each other since she'll be our go-to sitter next time we go home. Jackson had a really fun time with the girls--so much attention!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cute Vacation Quotes

Cute things overheard  and done while on vacation:
***No ice cream.  Ice cream cold.  French fries no cold.  French fries hot!
***Green light.  Wait turn!  (Jackson has learned about the stoplights and likes to tell me when the light is green.  He also knows we need to wait our turn :))
***I wake up!
***Jaxie boo-boo.  I cry.  Sticker!
***Jackson found one of my old troll dolls (remember those???), and he enjoyed taking off her clothes...  He also named her Boy.  He decided her clothes were her jammies, however.  As soon as one of us would them back on, he would take them off, and say, "Jammies back on!"
***Jackson didn't own any socks that fit him before we left for our trip.  I don't have any closed toe shoes to fit him this summer, so I just hadn't bought any.  Apparently, the night we went out for our anniversary, he was requesting socks before bed.  Katie, our sitter, said she looked for socks, didn't find any, so she placated him by tucking his feet in with his blanket.  Done.  Well, I had to buy socks for Monkey Bizness, and Jackson was so excited!  He immediately put on a pair when we got home!  When we got back from our wedding date, I checked on Jackson, and I saw he had socks on!  I told my mom she was such a sucker for giving him socks!  I was kidding, but seriously, where did the strong desire for socks come from???
***Jackson was OBSESSED with bunnies while we were in IL!!!  He loved finding them in my mom and dad's yard and when we went on walks.  The first time he rode his trike down the street, he saw one in a bush.  For the next few days he was convinced he was going to find the same bunny in the purple bush!  LOL  We just don't have them in such masses here, so I guess that was a nice treat?  When we would walk, we would point out any bunnies to Jackson.  Then he would say, "Bunny hop!  Bunny night night!" The bunny was usually hopping towards a bush, so we would ask him if the bunny was going to bed in the garden or in his bed.  Jackson would always say, "In the garden!"
***Mommy, Daddy date!  Kiss Jackson later.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hide and Seek!

Jackson's new favorite game is hands down Hide and Seek!  Susie taught it to him, I think, when he was over there one day.  She and Jackson were a team and they played "against" Rachel.  He would periodically talk about it or try to play it after that.  Then, he played with Paige when we were in Indy.  I remember standing in the kitchen talking to Katie, and seeing him with his face smushed against the doorway counting so he couldn't see Paige hide!  It was hilarious!  
Then, I checked out the book Hide! by Jeff Foxworthy from the library.  This was definitely one of Jackson's favorite books while at Mimi and Bampa's!  I'm actually a pretty big fan too.  The story is about a neighborhood game of Hide and Seek.  On each page there is a different boy or girl to find.  Some of them are pretty tricky, but Jackson found each one!  He also really wanted to know if he was looking for a boy or a girl!  But, on each page there are other smaller things to fine.  The first page asks you to find one raccoon.  Then the second page asks for one raccoon and two spoons.  It goes on like that until you are searching for 15 bugs, or something like that!  I do think I'm going to need to own this one--he likes it so much, it's a cute story AND a good attention getter, and our library doesn't own it :(  
In general, Jackson really likes the look and find types of books.  Another favorite is Baby Einstein Let's Look!  This is a small book--it's a board book, so it fits perfectly in Jackson's backpack.  He pulled it out everywhere we went to show whomever we were visiting with his favorite book :)  
Because he liked that so much, and since his current favorite show is "Little Einsteins," I ordered Little Einsteins Look and Find before our trip.  Big hit!

I remember LOVING the I Spy series as well as Where's Waldo? so I'm excited for these books to have made their debut in Jackson's life already :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Since We've Been Back

We are getting back into our routine back in our house :)  The car is the only thing that still really needs to be cleaned out, but I'll get there soon enough...  We enjoyed the holiday last Monday.  We didn't do anything terribly exciting--just relaxed and took a family walk.  On Tuesday we hung around in the morning, but I filled up the pool during naptime for Jackson, and he was so excited!!!  Here's our little pool area--he had such a good time playing while I relaxed in the chair and read my book.  We brought out a bunch of Little People and Chuck the Truck cars for him to play with.  He had a good time lining them up on a plastic stool and then splashing them off.  He also played Hide and Seek by hiding them all under the stool and then letting them out.  He dumped a cup of water over his head for the first time EVER!  LOL  I find it so odd what "normal" things he doesn't like to do... 

Friday, July 8, 2011

End of Evanston

I can't believe we are home and unpacked from our trip to Evanston, but at the same time I look back at our pictures and see how much we did!!!  After our Indy mini-break, we had a few more fun things to do :)  We spent Thursday pretty much as a family just hanging out.  On Friday we drove to Monkey Bizness to meet the Dunnebacks!!!  Unfortunately, Jackson had just woken up from an abbreviated nap in the car when we got there, so he was a little slow to warm up... I *think* the boys all played together a little eventually...?  This place was pretty awesome, I must say!  It's a storefront in a strip mall, and there were quite a number of outdoor playhouse type things set up (it was all indoors), and then two or three larger inflatable play/climbing things.  You only pay for your child (awesome--I am not a fan of our whole family having to pay the expensive admission fees to get into some of the children's museums...), and then there is plenty of bench space to sit and watch the kids play!  They also have a cafe with lots of yummy looking drinks and snacks, so it's really ideal for moms to meet or playgroups.  I need to find one of these near us!!!  Kate, Brian, Josh, and I had a great time watching the kids and chatting.  Kyle and Connor just turned four, and they had a blast!  Jackson was a bit more hesitant about trying out the new stuff...  Of course, once he got excited to play, it was time to go!  After that fun afternoon, we went with Mimi and Bampa to Olive Garden for our last family dinner of that trip. 

On Saturday, we had a Date Day!!!  We did start with lunch with Bampa and Jackson and Big Herms.  Then we layed Jackson down for a nap, and Josh and I drove to Naperville for Kim and David's wedding ceremony!!!  Kim and I met in college during my Junior year.  We had our Kinesiology and Geology classes together.  She also came with me to get my belly button pierced!!!  I am SO glad we have stayed good friends even though we don't get to see each other nearly enough :(  Anyways, Kim met David, who is just perfect for her!  They were a beautiful couple, and the ceremony was just as beautiful!  After the afternoon ceremony, Josh and I had some time to kill before the reception, so we ended up at Barnes and Noble. I can't remember the last time I was free to just spend time browsing around!  After listening to the end of the Cubs game in the car (they lost :(), we went into the reception.  The banquet hall was really pretty, and the food was delicious! It was fun meeting some more of Kim's friends and family, and just enjoying the excitement :)  We made it an early evening since we were leaving the next day to drive back to VA...
 While we were gone, Mimi took Jackson to visit Nan one last time!  They apparently had a good time coloring.  Nan helped Jackson trace his hand and then added some fun details like a watch, rings, and fingernails :)

On Sunday, Jackson helped Bampa make pancakes for brunch before we hit the road.  They were yummy!  Jackson even ate two himself--that's a first!  Silly kid!  We left just before 11, and were home in Dumfries just after midnight.  It didn't take that long in actuality, but I think we all felt like the drive took longer--never as much leaving vacation as going TO it!  BUT, Mimi and Bampa are headed this way at the end of the month--can't wait!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!!

(just a bit belatedly...)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Indianapolis Mini-Vacation

I was THRILLED that the timing worked out for my mom and I to take Jackson on an overnight trip to visit the Conners while we were in town.  Katie and Nick's third baby just arrived last Thursday. Caleb Nicholas was ready for some snuggles!!!  

Of course, Jackson was excited to go meet another Baby Brother ;)
We left Tuesday morning around 10:30, and Jackson was asleep by 10:45!  HA!  I had kind of figured that might happen, so we just drove until he woke up and then we stopped for lunch.  He slept for almost two hours, so once we enjoyed our McDonald's and made a pit stop, I took a turn driving and we were checking into our hotel about an hour and a half later!  It was an easy drive--Jackson was awesome!  We checked into our hotel and then drove down the road to Katie's house.  Her mom was in town for the week since Nick had gone back to work.  

We got there just as Paige and Lexi were getting up from naps, and they all had such a good time playing together (I knew they would!).  

Once Nick got home, we all headed to Red Robin for dinner.  It was super delicious and Jackson LOVED sitting next to Paige!  We got home and let the kids play some more before laying them down for bed.  We all hung out as grown-ups before Mom and I took Jackson back to the hotel to spend the night.

The next morning we got ourselves ready and checked out and headed back to Katie's.  We played for a little and then headed out to lunch.  Katie has always told me about Macallister's, and we finally got to go!  It was SO yummy!  They have typical sandwiches and salads, but then they have all of these specialty spuds (potatoes).  After lunch, the kids played some more and napped.  

Us grown-ups enjoyed some quite time with Caleb and to catch up :)  After naptime, we got ready to head out to dinner once Nick got home.  But, Paige was not feeling well, so she stayed home with Nick and Caleb.  

The rest of us went out to Qdoba, and after some yummy food we headed back to IL.

I SO wish we lived closer to Katie and her family, but I was thrilled that Paige and Jackson enjoyed playing together so much and that the girls warmed up to Mom and me really fast.  Paige has a great imagination and got Jackson involved in playing school and a few other games.  Lexi was so funny, and is quite the snuggler :)  

She and Jackson LOVED listening to Mimi and Nana sing "Pop Goes the Weasel" as they waited for the jack-in-the-box to spring open (I DESPISE jack-in-the-boxes, just for the record!)!