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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vacation Pre-Game

We are leaving tomorrow after lunch for Virginia Beach!!!  We will spend five nights there and come home on Friday.  We are SOOO excited to have a little getaway, and to just relax as a family :)  Anyways, we started our vacation a bit early with a fun outing this afternoon/evening: we took a 45-minute cruise along the Potomac to see the major monuments and some other notable sites.  I had bought a Living Social deal where the cruise was only $7/person instead of $14.  Jackson didn't need a ticket, so we thought that was a great deal!  The cruises are run by DC Cruises, and we had such a  good time!!!  The above picture is of Jackson hanging out at the harbor waiting for our boat.  He had a grand time watching the ducks :)
This is a picture of our boat!  It wasn't very big, but it was perfect--we could see out of all of the sides and feel a great breeze from the river.  We left our house after naptime and made it in time for the 5:45 cruise.  Jackson was really hesitant to get on the boat, but he ended up LOVING it!!!  
 This was how Jackson spent much of the cruise: checking on the waves our boat was making :)  He also was sure to point out each airplane that flew overhead...
 I've never had this view of the Lincoln and Washington Monuments!
 We are in a bit of a rainy patch, but today actually turned out to be beautiful!
 A peek at the Jefferson Memorial
 Navy-Marine Memorial: there are seven seagulls to represent the seven seas and the memorial is dedicated to the Navy and Merchant Marine who died at sea in World War I
 We cruised by the Pentagon, and on the way we passed lots of boats parked in their slips.  Jackson loved looking at them, but he informed us, "I don't want to park that."  He said it so seriously, but it came out of NOWHERE!
 The views were really pretty--it was so neat to do something we had never done before in DC!
LOVE this picture of my two JASes :)

After our tour ended we headed over to BGR Burger Joint in Old Town Alexandria for dinner to use up two Groupons!  LOL  We have bought some great stuff on Groupon and Living Social, but the latest batch is expiring all at once!  We hadn't been to BGR yet, but had heard pretty good things.  Our overall rating is probably a C.  I did not care for the atmosphere at all!  It was a pretty crowded space for the volume of business they had, but the decorations, acoustics, and music did not make for a peaceful dining experience.  At least for me.  Josh had a beef burger and I had a veggie burger.  The veggie burger was really good, but Josh's was quite a good hamburger!  The fries were super disappointing :(  We did like that they had a slightly more expanded menu than Five Guys (shakes, for instance), but we didn't see any reason to quit frequenting Five Guys!  There were a few tables around us that seemed to be serving tourists, and we did agree that if we were staying in Old Town, for instance, this would be a great choice.  We didn't feel like we were given full disclosure about how to use our Groupons, so we ended up spending more additional money than we had planned since we had already bought a portion of our food, but that's ok.  I won't blame the whole restaurant for that miscommunication...

We had such a fun family outing--we definitely would like to do the Mini-Monument Cruise again when we have visitors.  I was thrilled we only paid $7, but we feel like it would be worth full price too :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Now We'll Use Our Backyard!

There was SO much we wanted to do right away to really feel like we "finished" our house, but there's only so much you can do right away!  We were thrilled to find our the project manager for our house was someone we really trusted, and wanted to keep working with :)  Tom was amazing during the whole house-building process, and he built us a beautiful deck!!!  
The deck right off of the kitchen
A view from the yard
A different view from the other side of the yard

Once we got the deck finished, Josh set about making us an area to sit outside and relax around a fire.  We had a deck with patio space when we lived in Illinois, and we LOVED hanging out around the fire with friends in the evenings.  We are SO happy to have a new space to do that here :)
View of the firepit/patio from the deck
Josh, Scott, and Joe were awesome and moved all of our brick pavers from our old house to the new house, so Josh was able to build most of our patio area with those!  Then, he and Jackson took several "special trips" into the woods behind our house to gather filler rocks.  Jackson LOVED being part of the building process, but it might be a little while before he can stay up late enough to enjoy the actual fire part...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fun Fall Weekend!

 Fall arrived at the end of this past week!!!  I know we will probably see some more warm temperatures, but we sure enjoyed the cool ones :)  Jackson and I went for a run Friday morning, and then we attempted to run ONE quick errand to get the last ingredients for two recipes I was planning to bake.  We tried to make Walmart our one-stop shopping store, but they failed miserably :(  I needed molasses to bake a Shoo Fly Pie for Josh.  I asked three different people for help finding it, and not only did none of them know what it was, but they were fairly rude about it.  ARGH!  So, we ended up popping into two more stores to finish my shopping before finally getting home to do some baking.  The Shoo Fly Pie was not my favorite, but Josh likes it!  I also baked a loaf of Nutella Marbled Banana Bread to take to dinner that night.  Our neighbors, the Walburgers, invited us over for dinner and provided the fixings for Make-Your-Own-Burritos/Taco Salad--it was all SOOO good!  Alyssa and Ashley are favorites with my boys because they come over as "mother's helpers" to play with Jackson and brush Pax :)  It was nice to have some adult time to talk with Aimee and Dave and get to know them.  Unfortunately, we were a bit late to dinner because Paxton ate FOUR of the six slices of bread I had had on a plate to take with us!!!  I could not believe he did that--very out of character!  Luckily the vet said the amount of nutella he probably ate for his weight wasn't going to cause serious trouble. Phew!
 We did a few projects around the house Saturday morning, including Jackson trying on his new gym shoes!  WOO HOO!!!  Poor guy hasn't had any closed shoes that fit all summer.  This was really only a problem when we went to Fantasy Playground since the base of the playground is small gravel.  Anyways, he's pumped :) He spent a lot of time playing outside and enjoying the weather!  Josh left to play golf with Joe just before naptime, but Susie and Rachel came over to go to the playground after naptime!  We drove down to our elementary school so the kids could try out that playground.  They had a really good time :)  
 We got Jackson and Rachel all squeaky clean and settled in bed before sitting down to enjoy our own yummy dinner that Josh grilled!  It was Grilled Hawaiian Chicken with grilled pineapple.  Josh thought we could try boiling the marinade down to a reduction to pour over the chicken, and it worked like a charm!  SOOO yummy!  I also went ahead and tried making coconut rice--it all went together so nicely!
 After dinner, Josh made our first fire in our new firepit!!!  It was a PERFECT night for a fire, and we all enjoyed relaxing outside in the yard :)
The above picture is of the lovely way our Sunday ended.  Unfortunately, it did not get off to a fabulous start. We had planned to head out in the morning to Cox Farms for the preview weekend of pumpkin season.  We were all loaded up in the car when it wouldn't start.  I kind of thought there was no chance of the Prius ever being dead, but apparently I was wrong...  Josh was a ROCKSTAR in getting it jumped!  Luckily I had parked in the driveway instead of my usual spot IN the garage.  Since the Prius's system is all computerized, there was no way to turn on the car to shift it to neutral.  Therefore, we couldn't move the Prius AT ALL!  We cleared EVERYTHING out of the garage so Josh could back the Xterra in and maneuver it to be at just the right angle to jump the Prius.  It took quite a few tries, but Josh did get it just perfect!  Of course, there was no guarantee that once we got it jumped that would fix the problem...  Luckily that did fix it!  It was too late to head to the farm, however :(  We had a bit of a lazy rest of the morning before Jackson took a late nap.  Josh and I decided it would be fun to rent a movie and do our first Family Movie Night!  I walked to our neighborhood 7-11 and picked up "Rio" from Redbox.  Then it was time for dinner with some more neighbors, the Bashores!  We had dogsat for their dog while they were out of town this past week.  We also offered for them to join us for dinner so they wouldn't have to worry about groceries or whatever (that first night of dinner is one of my least favorite things after a trip).  We ended up taking the chili and biscuits we made to their house so we could all enjoy the football game together :)  After a yummy dinner, we invited the girls, Reagan and Avery, to our house to watch the movie with Jackson.  Everyone was thrilled!  Jackson LOVED having the girls come over to watch his "special" movie, and the girls seemed to really like the movie.  It was pretty cute :)  I LOVE the opportunity our new house in a brand new neighborhood has provided us to make some really good friends--this weekend was a great example!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our Long-Awaited Mimi Visit!!!

Sadly, I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked during my mom's visit, BUT we were busy and we had such a good time!!!  My mom was supposed to come in August with my dad, but she couldn't due to her sciatica nerve acting up :(  The bright side was we got two separate trips out of the original one--that was nice!

Mom flew in on Thursday the 8th, and we went right away to Josh's office so she could see his new office!!!  We also walked over and had Cosi for lunch.  This was strangely reminiscent of exactly how we started off my dad's trip!  Mom and I brought Jackson home for a nap, and later that evening we went to Wegman's for dinner!  We ate upstairs in their cafe area and also bought some yummy groceries :)  TERRIBLE rain had started on our way to dinner, and many roads were closed due to high water once we started our usually short drive home.  We finally made it, and we were SO happy to have a garage when we got home!  It was crazy to watch the rain for the rest of the night!

Friday was much clearer for the most part!  We spent the morning shopping and then stopped to have lunch.  We had planned to take Jackson to the library on Thursday, but it got postponed due to Josh getting off work earlier that we had thought.  We thought we'd just go Friday afternoon instead, but the Prius was in the shop getting new tires, so by the time we picked it up, the library was almost closed :(  I felt so bad for Jackson, but he got in 10 minutes and seemed happy with that!  That night we tried out a new chinese restaurant in our neighborhood, and it was SO good!  

We bummed around on Saturday during the day, but then we had a fun evening :)  We had planned to grill pizzas for dinner and have the Yanceys over.  Then Mom, Susie, and I were going to go see a movie while the guys hung out.  There was a sneak preview playing for "How Does She Do It?" but it was much closer to Susie and Joe's house.  So, we invited ourselves over there, took the ingredients for dinner, made dinner, and then went on our way!  It was such a cute movie and so fun to go to the movies :)

On Sunday, we took Mimi to the National Zoo!  Jackson had been looking forward to this for WEEKS!  We had such a nice morning checking out the animals and having lunch :)
On Sunday night we went to Tim's Rivershore Restaurant and Crabhouse with Mom.  We had such a good time when we went with Dad, that we had to make sure Mom got the full experience :)  This time we tried to choose a slow time (we succeeded there) so we could easily get a table by the water--SO nice!  Jackson had a great time checking out the few boats that were docked, and we all enjoyed the beautiful evening!  I was sad I forgot my camera because there would have been some good photo ops...

We hung out Monday morning, had a late breakfast with Josh, met a friend for a later lunch, and then helped Josh plan out our new firepit-patio area before taking Mom to the airport.

As always the trip went by way too fast, and I am now counting down the days until we drive out for Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Things You'd Be Surprised to Know...

If you know me, you might be surprised to find out the following:

1. I often walk past piles of things on the stairs and DON'T take them upstairs.
2. My loads of laundry rarely get washed, folded, AND put away in the same day!
3. There are dirty dishes all over my counters more often than not.
4. I probably don't clean the bathtubs as often as I should...
5. Jackson's baby book is not filled out in a meticulous fashion.
6. Gardening is not top of my hobbies list.
7. When I put lids on Jackson's little plastic bowls I actually prefer the color of the lid and the color of the bowl to NOT match!  (Perhaps this is the biggest shocker???)
8. For as crazy as dog hair drives me I don't vacuum or brush my dog as often as you would think...
9. I wait until the day or two before a trip to pack.
10. My car currently smells like fertilizer :(

***Many of these things drive me nuts and I'm working on changing them one at a time...  It's the small life goals, isn't it?

For more possibly random thoughts, check out Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Baked Prosciutto and Egg Cups for breakfast while Mom was still here and Grilled sausage and chips for dinner after she was gone :(
Tuesday: Grilled Salmon and Asparagus with Balsamic Butter
Wednesday: Trader Joe's Orange Chicken with rice
Thursday: Leftover soup from the freezer with Bloomin' Pizza Bread to accompany--this was A.MAZ.ING!!!  I told Josh we should have it once a week for dinner with a salad ;)
Friday: Taco Bar at our neighbors' house--I made Nutella Marbled Banana Bread to bring (I also made Shoo Fly Pie per Josh's request.  He really likes it!  I'm apparently not a huge molasses fan, therefore I don't care for it.  But, it was super easy...especially because I used a store-bought crust...)
Saturday: Hawaiian Grilled Chicken with coconut rice and grilled pineapple--everything was SOOO good!  The chicken recipe explains how to make coconut rice, and it was delicious!  The marinade for the chicken looked and smelled amazing, so we boiled it down and made a reduction to pour over the chicken and rice--YUM! (I also only used 1.5 cups of soy sauce and water instead of the recommended 2.)
Sunday: Chili with biscuits made from the recipe on the back of the baking powder!!!  They were quite yummy :)  Our neighbors brought us these amazing cookies tonight, so I just needed to share: S'mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Check out more yummy recipes at Menu Plan Monday hosted by Org Junkie!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Words to Remember

While shopping at the mall with my mom, anytime he saw something purple, Jackson said, "That's Kaitlyn's!  Give it back her!"  (KK has a purple Pillow Pet, so apparently Jackson thinks all things purple belong to her...???)

The other morning Jackson came into the kitchen while I was using the food processor, and he held his hands out in front of him, shook them side to side, and said, "Mommy, be quiet!  (whispering) My show is on!"

In the kitchen, Jackson stepped on Pax's paw and said, "Oh!  I sorry Waxie Bear!  I step on your foot!  I sorry!"

We went to the grocery store while I wasn't feeling great (allergies?), and I had told Jackson that I was tired and didn't feel well.  He asked me part way through if I was still tired.  When I told him I was, he said, "Mommy tired.  You get comfy on the couch.  You'll feel better!"  He gave his prescription with a super cute concerned look on his face.  Then he gave me a little kiss :)

On the same shopping trip, I kissed the top of Jackson's head.  He looked up at me and said, "That was nice!"  He asked to kiss my cheek and then told me to say the same thing to him!  LOL

Jackson and Josh took a "special trip" into the woods to look for rocks to complete our patio/firepit area.  Jackson told Josh he was too busy so could Josh please carry him!

The day after Jackson's first special trip with Daddy, we couldn't find his most favorite airplane.  Jackson whispered to me that he would ask the owls when he and Daddy went on another special trip that afternoon.  Where did that come from???  

I took Jackson to Kohl's yesterday, and I took him in the dressing room to try on some pants (first time for that!).  He looked so cute in the new pants and his bare toes sticking out, so I said, "There is some serious cuteness going on!"  Jackson said, "I'm cute!"  I laughed and told him that he was.  But then I asked him what he should say when someone gives him a compliment.  He said, "Wassssuuuuppppp!"  (This is Josh and Joe's special greeting, and Jackson has learned how to say it too.  He's been practicing saying it to Joe, and I guess that is also how he will acknowledge comliments...???)

I feel like there have been SO many more funny conversations had this week, but they are escaping me now...  It is really fun to listen to Jackson string together more and more words (although we are in another cycle of not being able to understand him 100% of the time since he's using more words and talking faster)--he has quite an imagination budding :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

 The Saturday night of Labor Day weekend, we bought tickets with the Yanceys to go see the Potomac Nationals play a baseball game!!!  Jackson has enjoyed playing with his bat and ball and watching baseball on TV with Josh, so we thought this would be a fun outing :)  

The game was called for 6:35pm, and Jackson made it all the way until the fireworks were over after the game around 10:30--woo hoo!!!  I think he had a really good time!  He and Rachel definitely liked playing on the bleachers and watching all of the people around us!  We had dinner while we were there as well as some ice cream (the only option was Dippin' Dots, and that was a bit disappointing, but the kids definitely didn't care!).  There was a kid play area with about five or six moonbounces.  We tried that, and Rachel LOVED the jumping around, but Jackson wasn't so sure :(  It took him forever to get in one at a friend's birthday party a few weeks ago, but once he was in he had SUCH a god time--short memory I suppose...  Anyways, the P-Nats ended up winning and we got to see a pretty awesome fireworks display afterwards!  This was the first time Jackson had seen fireworks, and we actually planned this.  We weren't sure back on the 4th of July if it was worth changing his schedule and scoping out a fireworks spot since we didn't know if he'd like them or not. But, we figured we could find a baseball game with some fireworks and kill two birds with one stone.  It went well, and he liked them...once his ears were covered and he had a paci...  But, I'll take that success!!!  He was talking about how much he liked them afterwards, so that is good :)
 Loving hanging out with Susie :)
 Family shot :)
 Being silly--he LOVED that he got to bring his mitt to the game!
 Mommy and Jackson
 Right after the Yanceys left, probably around 9ish, Jackson got cuddly and tired--LOVED those free snuggles I got!
Catching bugs :)

In order to get Jackson more excited for our upcoming outing, I checked the following books out of the library:
Froggy Plays T-Ball by Jonathan London
Roasted Peanuts by Tim Egan (this was the only one that was just okay--cute story, but a little over Jackson's head)
Just for fun, here are pictures of Jackson from his first few baseball games:
Memorial Day Weekend--7.5 months old

Father's Day--8 months old

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Surprise Party for Meemaw!!!

This is quite a belated post, BUT we did indeed spend the weekend in Staunton a couple of weeks ago!  We were supposed to drive down on Thursday night and stay through Sunday, BUT that was when Hurricane Irene was headed our way (yes, this was the same week as the earthquake... and we have since had monsoon like rains and floods--FUN STUFF!!!).  Since we haven't lived in our house long enough to see how it stands up to extreme weather, we were nervous about things like the sump pump not keeping up with the predicted amounts of rain and trees from the woods in our backyard falling on the roof...  We waited until Friday morning so Josh could check the most recent forecasts, and at that point it seemed like we should be in the clear if we left.  

We drove Friday morning and got to Uncle Larry and Aunt Murph's house around lunchtime.  Jackson and I hung out there with lunch and a nap while Josh drove to Covington to pick up Meemaw.  Once everyone was home from work, we had pizza for dinner and just hung out.  

On Saturday we had big plans to hit up the farmer's market and the playground, but it started raining :(  We were able to get out a few times to walk with Pax, but otherwise we were inside watching everyone enjoy Jackson :)  Meemaw didn't know it, but there were a few more guests than she knew about attending the BBQ that afternoon: her sister, Lil, and Lil's two children and their significant others arrived which was really exciting!  Jackson took a lovely 3-hour nap so that got my night off to a good start ;)  We enjoyed YUMMY dinner and desserts before Meemaw opened her presents.  During the party we did get a good rainstorm, but nothing very hurricane-like!  

On Sunday we hung around the house before packing up the car at naptime to head home and assess any damage (there was none--phew!).  Meemaw's birthday isn't until this coming weekend, but we were all happy to have an excuse to celebrate early!
 Danny showed Jackson some fun features on his phone--friends for life :)
 Checking out some of the great pictures Sherry was taking.
 Jackson LOVED bringing Meemaw her presents to open!  He kept wanting to "plier" them with his pliers...
 Silly boys!
 The party-goers: Uncle Wayne, Goldie, Robert, Sherry, Mike, Aunt Lil, Meemaw, Aunt Murph, Uncle Larry
Aunt Jeannie, Dana, Judy, Danny
(Josh took the picture)
An updated immediate-Smith-family-member picture!