Friday, December 30, 2011

Cheap Baby Food

I originally intended on making Jackson's baby food, but have found that store-bought baby food is easier and cheaper.  We mashed up peas, bananas, avocados, oatmeal, etc instead of buying any Stage 1 food.  But pureeing Stage 2 and 3 foods is quite challenging without a food processor.  We currently cut up everything we're eating into bite sized pieces, so Jackson has sampled everything we've eaten. 

We've priced baby food at all the local grocery stores, Wal-Mart, Sam's, and Save-a-Lot.  Surprisingly, the cheapest we've found is at Big Lots.  We didn't even know Big Lots sold baby food until we were looking for discounted Christmas decorations earlier in the week.  You can get a 4.5 oz jar (Stage 2) for $0.30 and a 6 oz jar (Stage 3) for $0.50.  They have a pretty good selection and offer Beech Nut and Earth's Best (organic) for the same price.  Jackson LOVES all the flavors so far, so Jesse and I stocked up.  We bought 22 jars for less than $8, which is cheaper than anywhere else we've found.
Jesse made fun of me for creating a display pyramid.
Each day Jackson generally has 2 jars, 4 bottles of formula, and whatever table food we give him at dinner.  We'll replace the jars with table food once Jackson gets a few months older and Jesse and I have a more routine schedule.


I've nearly pushed my limit when it comes to changing Jackson's schedule around.  We've stayed busy meeting up with friends from high school and work.  Jack is such a people person that I knew he would be fine around my friends, but he was so cranky before totally crashing once it was just the two of us. 

Wednesday afternoon I had two good friends from high school, Ellen and Laura, over for lunch.  They said they'd be there at 1 pm, so I hopped in the shower.  At 12:35 my best friend was standing in my bathroom saying, "I'm going to take Jackson downstairs".  I cooked the rice and beef for our taco feast in my bathrobe with a towel around my head while the girls played with Jack.  That's true friendship there!  As always, it was nice to catch up with them.
The following day I met up with Ellen and her sister (and mother) for bridesmaid dress shopping!  It is strange to think that I used to babysit her sister, and now she is a beautiful college freshman.  I am so excited to be a part of Ellen's wedding, as she was the maid-of-honor in my wedding four years ago.  After going to a few different places, we all fell in love with this short, figure-flattering dress at Belk's.  The dress is a very cool material, which is perfect for her outdoor summer wedding.  It also happened to be 40% off, which sealed the deal.  It's a stretchy material so I bought a size up just in case I have an extra bump in June. 
We also purchased simple, black sandals to go with the dress.  I'm so glad everything went smoothly and we were able to accomplish everything in just a few hours.  I just wheeled Jackson in the stroller with me to the dressing rooms, fed him while walking around the store, and put him in the Ergo at the shoe store. 

Jackson and I made it home in perfect time for our last nap of the day, before heading uptown to have dinner with my former teammates.  These women taught me everything I know about teaching, so I feel forever indebted to them.  While we meet up for dinner every month, they hadn't seen Jackson since he was a couple months old.  Since Jesse was closing tonight I had to bring Jackson.  My old co-worker brought finger puppets to entertain Jack.
After dinner we walked along the uptown streets to admire the Christmas lights and decorated trees.  Our school was within walking distance so we used to take field trips to the museums uptown.  It was so nice to simply be together.  (And yes, I made our waiter and a random stranger at Bank of America take our pictures.)  
Jackson was sound asleep before I pulled out of the parking deck.  Even though it was after 9 pm, he smoothly transitioned to the crib after getting in his pajamas.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good Morning!

Jackson is such a morning person.  (Though, I guess all babies are.)  Since he is always sleeping when I leave for work, I forget how much I love his early morning smiles and bantering with Ducky.  Each morning when I come into his room he gets so excited he starts to pull up on the crib bumpers and put his hands between the slats.  He seriously goes crazy.  I can only imagine he's shouting, "Mommy!  Mommy, get me out of here.  It's time to play!" 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dental Hygiene

Now that this guy is working on a mouth full of teeth, we thought it was time to start brushing them. 
The toothbrush that came with our safety/hygiene kit was too big.  We headed to Babies-R-Us to take advantage of a $5 gift card.  This tiny finger brush with edible toothpaste was perfect.
We now have a new step in our bedtime routine.  We will brush Jackson's teeth each night after his last bottle.  He was so relaxed and seemed perfectly content having his teeth and gums massaged.
 Happy brushing!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Attractive Home Solutions on a Budget

An alternative title to this post could be "Ikea is Amazing".

Problem: The bathtub has become a slip and slide for Jack.
Solution:  We found this adorable bathmat at Ikea for $2.

Problem: Cowbell has a habit of clawing at the toilet paper from the top and unravelling the roll. 
Solution: We found these toilet paper holders for a mere $0.49!  We bought three and Jesse installed them in each of the bathrooms.

Problem: We have a bad habit of leaving dirty burp cloths and bibs strewn throughout the downstairs.
Solution: I found this hamper that hangs on the back of a door for $5.  I put it on the back of the laundry room/mud room door.

Problem: The plethora of Christmas toys needed a new home. 
Solution: I divided the enormous pile into 3 smaller piles.  I used white storage boxes we previously bought at Ikea and placed the toys in the living room, nursery, and bonus room.

Problem: Jackson can no longer use his bouncy seat or bumbo and it's a pain to move the bulky high chair around.  We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and Jack has no where to sit when we are cooking.
Solution.  We let a friend borrow the bouncy seat and bumbo until her son outgrows them.  We purchased a very light weight high chair at Ikea for $20 that fits perfectly at our kitchen counter and is something he can grow with.

Problem: Mr. Nibbles likes to eat the Christmas tree and vomit all over the carpet.  The Rug Doctor cleaner has done nothing to remove the stains.
Solution: A huge tub of the generic version of OxiClean cost $6 and is sure to be a lifetime supply.  It works wonders (as shown by the before and after) and has multiple uses .

Christmas Day: It Truly Is A Wonderful Life

Jackson's first Christmas was amazing.  It turns out, he is a pro at opening presents and makes the best sounds and facial expressions ever.  I was eagerly awake before the boys were.  Jesse went downstairs to get the camcorder ready while I changed Jackson's diaper and took him downstairs.  Santa brought Jackson two gifts.  We tore open the first package just enough so Jackson could get a hold of the wrapping paper.  He went to town.  He seemed genuinely surprised that there were toys inside.
Jackson got distracted with wrapping paper and the cats, so Jesse ended up tearing the rest of the wrapping paper off.  After opening the gifts we ate our weekly pancake breakfast before getting ready for church.  Random note: While eating pancakes we witnessed our outside cat catch and kill a bird.
Church was a short, simple service of lessons and carols.  We drove directly to Gastonia to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family.  We feasted on turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, mac-n-cheese, green beans, and more.  Jackson sampled everything.  After everyone was finished eating we distributed the many presents.  There is so much excitement it is difficult to catch everyones reactions as they open their gifts.
Of course, we continued our tradition of wearing our pajamas all day. 
After a few hours we made the hour-long drive to spend the evening with Jesse's family.  There were more presents to open and delicious food to eat.  Jackson enjoyed chicken and dumplings and green beans, then played with his family and new toys.
We are so very blessed to have involved, loving siblings and parents.  While it saddens me to know that Jackson will never know my parents, he is so fortunate to have an incredible MiMi and PaPa.  Their pride is evident.
We made it home just in time for Jackson's 7:30 bedtime. We unloaded the car and stacked Jackson's many gifts on the couch.  Considering Jesse and I spent a whopping $4 (in addition to using a $15 gift card) on Jackson's Christmas, I think Jack did okay.  This is one of many reasons why I love having a big family.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Jackson and I moved our ornament to the final spot in the Advent calendar.
Jesse had to work until 5:30, so we kept ourselves busy baking and doing crafts.  I wanted to make this mint serving tray I saw on Pinterest.  Jackson helped me sort the mints on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
It baked on 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  (The directions said 8-10 but it took much longer for our mints to melt.)  Here is the finished product:

I went to work on making the red velvet cupcakes and cream cheese icing while Jackson napped in his crib.  The cupcakes looked very festive on the mint tray.
I had the diaper bag packed ready to go for when Jesse got home.  We quickly headed to church.  There was no nursery available for the Christmas Eve service, but Jackson did a great job.  Jesse and I passed him back and forth.  Jackson was ever curious during communion and the candlelighting. 

Our next stop was my sister's house for the annual Robinson Family Bingefest.  (Okay, nobody calls it that; but it would be an appropriate name.)  We enjoyed food and fellowship as always.

We have a long tradition of receiving Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve.  Once home, we gave Jackson his pj's.  He was excited for bedtime and looked adorable in them.

I really wanted to start the tradition of reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" before bedtime, but I couldn't find my copy.  We did find "The Southern Night Before Christmas" so we read that instead.  Jesse and I were amused at the Dale Earnhardt and Krispy Kreme references.  Jackson was apathetic.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cowbell: Naughty or Nice?

Cowbell and I have a love-hate relationship.

Don't let her sweet face and tucked in paws fool you.

Cowbell's hobbies include unravelling the toilet paper and leaving it throughout the upstairs,
reupholstering the carpet,

and using the furniture as scratching posts.

As much as she terrorizes the house, she is Jackson's best friend.  Cowbell is a constant source of entertainment for Jackson.  She is so patient and loving with him.  She also cuddles at my feet every night and purrs so sweetly.

I'm not sure what Santa will bring her this Christmas, but I suppose we'll still keep her around.

How to Unexpectedly Spend $800 the Week Before Christmas

1. Tug on kitchen sink spray head while washing dishes.  Discover busted pipe coming out of the ground.  Wait less than five minutes for downstairs to be flooded.  Call plumber to install shiny new pipes.  Pay $300.

2. Go for a routine oil change and 50,000 mile service.  Find out that all four tires do not pass inspection and the thread is completely worn.  Purchase four brand new tires.  Pay $500 for tires, alignment, and oil change.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Today was my first official day of break which worked out perfectly since Jesse had the day off.  The three of us slept until 9 a.m.  (Yes, you read correctly!)  We had a relaxed morning before heading off to the mega mall for pictures with Santa.  Apparently the Bass Pro Shop gives out free 4 x 6 photos with Santa AND you can take pictures with your own camera, too.  After waiting in line for about 20 minutes, the photographer asked us if our baby was going to cry.  I confidently replied "no".  Of course, Jackson was his usual happy self.

Before leaving the mall we headed to Starbucks to take advantage of a gift card I received from a coworker.  Nothing beats leisurely afternoons drinking free peppermint hot cocoa and vanilla bean creme.

Our next stop was Target to purchase a Christmas gift for Jackson.  Using a gift card from another coworker, we purchased a Vetch Catch Me Kitty for him.  We are keeping Christmas gifts extremely minimal this year since Jackson:
1. won't remember anything
2. already has everything he needs/wants
3. will receive plenty of toys from other family members
4. can't even open gifts
5. has parents on a budget

After an afternoon nap, snack, and playtime at home, we were off to church for our live nativity play.  Jesse and I once again played the role of Joseph and Mary.  There was brief discussion of Jackson being baby Jesus, but it was easier to use the baby doll.  This was a good thing since Jackson was crying and yelling "Ma Ma Ma Ma" by the end of the play.  Once I found him he had tears streaming down his cheeks.  I think the church people were alarmed because they never see Jackson upset, but Jesse and I are well aware of how cranky he can get when he's sleepy. 

The play was very simple and went smoothly, despite the rain forcing us to perform indoors.  (I forgot my camera so there are no pictures.)  We briefly enjoyed fellowship while munching on cookies and sipping hot cider before taking Jackson home for bed..

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bye Bye Bouncy Seat

Jackson has used the bouncy seat daily since he came home from the hospital. 

I used to bounce him to sleep for long naps.  The first toy he grabbed was the dangling turtle.  Jackson has served as Jesse's sous-chef in the kitchen for many months while in his bouncy seat. 

Unfortunately, Jackson's curiosity and strength now causes a safety hazard in his beloved seat.
We must retire the bouncy seat to the attic (along with the swing) until another child can use it. 

Goodbye, bouncy seat.  We will think of you fondly!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Things I Took For Granted Before Motherhood

  • Spending time with my husband 
    • I naively assumed Jesse and I would both be teachers forever and always have the same schedule.  There was a time where I longed for time away and evenings alone.  Now here we are working completely opposite schedules in order to avoid daycare and all I want is to eat dinner together every night. 
  • Spontaneously getting my eyebrows waxed or haircut
    • These are the only two things that I have yet to do with Jackson.  I used to drive by on a whim to get my hair cut or eyebrows waxed, though these have to be planned now.
  • My sex drive
    • Has anyone seen it?  I need to create a "Wanted" ad or check the Lost & Found.
  • Getting to church on time
    • Jackson's morning nap falls at the same time as getting ready for church.  We can never seem to make it before 11.  Every Sunday it's something different--an explosive diaper resulting in an impromptu bath, waiting for late nursery workers, cleaning spit up off of my blouse, etc.
  • Watching movies
    • A few summers ago Jesse and I went to the dollar theater every week.  We haven't gone to a movie theater since I was pregnant.  I don't even like to watch movies from Netflix because I can't stand pausing movies and I'm too tired by the time Jackson goes to bed. 
  • Uninterrupted phone calls
    • There are certain people I don't like talking to on the phone because I get distracted enough as it is.  I was offered $250 to complete a 90 minute phone survey but chose not to because I didn't know how that could be possible.
  • Quick errands
    • It was never a big deal to run by the grocery store to pick up something I forgot, though now it's something I avoid as much as possible.  Though I would never, ever leave a sleeping baby Jack in the car, it is so tempting. 
  • Using public restrooms
    • There have been multiple occasions where I couldn't use the restroom when we were out because I didn't know what to do with Jackson.  I can't exactly leave him outside the portajohn or bring an entire buggy into a bathroom stall.
  • Exercising
    • I assumed I would be one of those cute moms on the greenway with their child in a jogging stroller.  Clearly that has yet to happen.  I do miss running and I am wasting my gym membership, but I don't want to compromise my limited time with Jackson.

Monday, December 19, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

If that is the case, Jackson will get everything he wants!

Updates and Other Ramblings

Here are the various events from the past week that I have neglected to mention in previous blogs:

--Most of our downstairs flooded after the pipe connecting the kitchen sink to the groundwater broke on Friday evening.  We had to turn our water off overnight until a plumber could come the next morning.  Jesse had to make a late night run to buy a gallon of water so Jackson could still eat.  All is well, $300 later.

--Now that Jackson is eating more solids, his "spit up" is colorful vomit.  I never minded so much when it was regurgitated breastmilk, but now it totally grosses me out! 

--It's really hard for me not to judge other people's birth plans.  One of my coworkers gave birth to her son today.  Our staff received several text message updates, which caused many women to share their birth experiences.  I have no issues with people choosing to get an epidural or other pain medications.  However, one of my coworkers said she was on Facebook her entire labor and described it as "boring" and "uneventful".  I had to walk away without making any comments. 

--Jackson still isn't crawling, but he can get wherever he wants by lifting his entire upper body and pivoting around.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

McAdenville, Choir, and Playdate

Jackson and I enjoyed a busy weekend full of Christmas traditions and fun play.  On Saturday evening we met up with my some of my former youth group members at McAdenville.  We always meet at the Burger King across the street and walk.  We were supposed to meet around 5:30 but they got stuck in traffic and didn't arrive until 7:30!  It is next to impossible to entertain an 8 month old for two hours in a car/parking lot.  By the time they got there, Jackson was cranky and exhausted.  He was initially bright eyed taking in the various sights and sounds, but he quickly fell asleep.
My favorite spot looking out at the lake

All bundled up
Jackson and I made it home at the same time as Jesse just after 9:30.  The three of us don't get to spend as much time together as we'd so I especially like for us to share in the bedtime routine (even if it's two hours later).

I had signed up to make cupcakes for our church's Christmas Program.  One of my co-workers brought adorable strawberry santa hat cupcakes to our staff holdiay party last week, which I planned to copy.  I whipped up some red velvet cupcakes and decorated them first thing on Sunday morning. 

Jesse, Jackson, and I enjoyed our weekly pancake breakfast.  Jackson loves pancakes as much as we do.  Now that he has six teeth, he can really bite down and chew!

The choir did a great job praising God by singing the Christmas cantata this morning.  I forgot how much I enjoy singing in the choir.  Wednesday nights still don't work, but I hope I can particpate in Saturday practices for Easter. 

I rushed home from church just in time to get lunch ready for our playdate.  Several of my former coworkers and I were all pregnant together last year.  We've been trying to get together for a few weeks now but have had crazy schedules.  I made chicken salad (with grapes and pecans, of course) and pasta salad.  I also bought pimento cheese and croissants.  It was so nice to relax with other moms and love on adorable babies.  I really enjoyed hosting rather than going to someone else's house.  It was also a good excuse to clean our house.

The best part of the day was being able to be lazy after Jackson went to bed without having to worry about lesson plans or what all I have to do tomorrow.  I am so ready for two weeks without students!