Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rice and Beans

We are going to have tacos for Jackson's first birthday party because the kid LOVES rice and beans.  We let him attempt to feed himself.  It was semi-successful.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Day in the Life (A Daddy Post)

Every night now Jackson sleeps with minimal interruption. Sometimes he'll wake up hungry around 3 or 4, but he always goes right back to sleep after a bottle. Jackson tends to wake up for good some time around seven (though sometimes as late as nine). He always wakes up happy and takes a morning bottle.
"Good morning!"

Being Jack's daddy and Connor's full-time weekday caregiver, I knew I had to establish some routine with the boys. Jackson being a Harwood born and bred has an innate longing for routine (even if he doesn't know it). It took about a month for us to really solidify our day-to-day activities, but we're in a good place now.

After his morning bottle, I let the boys loose either downstairs or in our office upstairs. Our new baby gates and other safety purchases have allowed me to give the boys independent playtime most anywhere in the house. My previous solution to the problem of having highly mobile boys was to put them in a play yard. Connor probably could have stayed in the play yard all day, but Jackson needed more destructive means of activity.

After playing for a while, the boys usually crash hard around 9:30 or 10 for their morning naps. Jackson sleeps in his crib for naps, generally spooning a stuffed animal to soothe himself to sleep. By the way, Jackson has become an annoyingly light sleeper. If Bonnie or I step foot in his room he pops up to greet us almost immediately. Thus, this was as close as I could get to take his napping picture.

Napping with friends...

One of Jackson's favorite parts of the day is his morning snack. After the boys wake up (they usually nap about an hour in the mornings), Jackson eats a banana and some graham cookies. I need to get in the habit of giving him a sippy cup every snack time, but sometimes I can be forgetful or engaged with Connor. On this particular day, I gave Jack a little orange juice to try and he immediately assumed that he was the a big shot.
"Yeah, that's right."

"What you talking about, cookie?"

After snack time, the boys have some more time to play or generally wreak havoc. While Jackson does love playing with his toys, he prefers to throw books from shelves, empty drawers of their contents, bang pots and pans, enter Cowbell's personal space, reach into the toilet, taste inedible objects, clear tables, or look out doors.
They play a mean Chopsticks on the foot piano.

Connor flees; Jackson is unabashed.
Jack grows weary of Daddy, looks for Mommy.

After a longer afternoon nap, I give Jackson a jar of food and let the boys run amuck until we ride to Kannapolis to deliver Connor to his mother. Jackson usually catches a quick car nap and is reenergized to come home and see his mommy. Recently, I stopped giving him a bottle when we got home and started giving him some formula in a sippy cup. Jackson usually drinks about two ounces and then splashes the rest on his face.

Without a doubt, our favorite part of the day is when Bonnie comes home. She being the love of my life, I can't wait to see her and tell her what funny things Jackson did today. She being the love of his life, he can't wait to hug her and help her type on her laptop. Some evenings we only meet in passing as I go to Babies R Us and she goes in to take over childcare duties. The evenings we do get to spend together are great, but are too few.

Jackson eats whatever we have for supper. Sometimes it is something he can feed himself and sometimes it is something he feeds himself regardless of his ability to do so. As always, Jackson lights up around his two favorite things--Mommy and food. He does have a bad habit of yelling at us if his tray is empty and will not stop eating until everyone around him is also done.

"Feed me."

Cleaning up the boy after supper is easier some nights than others for us but is never easy for him. Face wiping means suppertime is over. After a recovery from this assault, Jackson likes to play for a while longer on a good night or sit with Mommy on a bad night. The recent spring time change has thrown off our schedule a little bit, but Jackson is still generally ready to wind down and go to bed at 7:30. Taking off his clothes, giving him his medicine, or brushing his teeth all mean he's getting ready for bed and that makes Jack a happy baby.

The time has come!

Pajamas and a nighttime diaper.

Jackson always takes one more bottle before he is put down for the night. This undoubtably will be a hard habit to break, but it is one we have to live with for now. For a growing and energetic boy, a good night's rest is essential. Jackson Lee will arise the next morning eager to play and learn and generally be very silly.

Monday, March 19, 2012


While Jackson has made no attempts to walk or stand without holding onto anything, the boy can still cause some damage.  He enjoys taking the pots and pans out of the cabinets, unloading the dishwasher as we put dirty dishes in there, and climbing the stairs.
Some of the perks of Jesse working at Babies-R-Us is having a discount and knowing when all of the best sales are.  He purchased two high-quality gates that are screwed into the wall.  Jesse installed one gate at the bottom of the stairs and another one in the hallway upstairs.

Jesse also installed the cabinet safety locks in the kitchen. 

Jackson is such a dare-devil in his high chair.  We have to make sure the straps are very tight because he takes advantage of the slightest wiggle room.  Thank goodness he has yet to escape, though we have seen him stand up more than once.  Eeeekk!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hello, Spring

Though it is technically still winter for a few more days, we've been enjoying spring weather for a month now.  Here are signs that spring is offically near:

1. Bring on the DQ Blizzards!

2. It takes an hour to line dry a load of laundry.

3. We spend our evenings rocking on the deck.

4. The weeds have taken over the yard.  It's time to dust off the lawn mower and weed eater.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday, Jude

Last week marked my nephew's first birthday.  It is hard to believe a year has passed already.  I love that Jackson has a cousin so close in age, and that I can share in the experiences with my sister. 

The birthday boy's invitation and decorations had a crocodile theme, which would have been a difficult shaped cake to carve.  I elected to go with cupcakes on top of a crocodile bathmat.  It was cute enough and very simple.

I originally planned to make his smash cake blue with a green crocodile like it was coming out of water.  Then I recalled images of my niece covered in hot pink and black icing from her first birthday zebra cake.  I decided to keep his cake clean and mostly white.

Jude devoured a good third of his cake, though he was very gentle and conservative while eating. 

Here are the boys and their mommas: Jude (12 months), Jackson (11 months), and Connor (9 months):

The Best Way to End a Long Week

Need I say more?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Proof We Exist

Jesse and I are really good at taking pictures of Jackson, but really bad at taking pictures of one another.  This weekend we bought a new camera (since the other TWO mysteriously broke) and made a point to take pictures together.  Here's proof that we do spend time together as a family:

Have I mentioned how much I love my boys?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, PaPa!

I have said many times before, Jackson has the best MiMi and PaPa.  Today was Jeff's birthday, so we made plans earlier in the week to have the in-laws over for dinner.  Jeff's birthday request was meatball subs and pound cake.  While these should be simple requests, I had never made either one of them.  Thankfully, my oldest sister is the queen of pound cakes, and Harris Teeter's weekly meal deal included pasta sauce and meatballs. 
Jesse had to work until 4:30 today, so I had to take Jackson to "work" with me this morning.  We took the kids to Ihop for their study session today.  After dropping students off at their homes, Jackson and I made it home just after noon for a quick lunch.  It was a busy afternoon with trips to Harris Teeter, Wal Mart, and Ikea.  (Sidenote: Jesse and I are convinced we had some bad shrimp last night because we were both queasy all day.)

March is full of birthdays, which means lots of cake decorating.  I've been rather stressed about today because our house becomes a disaster by the weekend, I didn't know how I would entertain Jackson at Ihop for two hours, and I was anxious about preparing new foods.  As always, everything turned out wonderfully.  Granted, I burned our subs under the broiler and the pound cake came out in pieces.  Somehow Jesse and I made quick fixes to both problems and you could never tell there was a concern.  Hooray for a new meal and dessert to add to our rotation.

Of course the best part of the day was celebrating another year to a healthy, humorous father-in-law/PaPa!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Splish Splash I Was Taking a Bath

Bath time has always been an exciting experience for Jackson.  His curiosity during bath time is going to make my hair turn gray.  I took care of one major concern tonight by purchasing one of those adorable ducks to cover the faucet.  Jackson thinks it is hilarious.

Jackson also loves splashing around and being squirted by his bath toys.  He hasn't learned that he can squeeze the toys to get the water out; he's too busy chasing them around the water.

I know the following photo is one of those that Jackson will cringe at one day, but I think he is so stinkin' cute!  I'm not sure why he's so much more confident walking around in the bath than on the ground.  Either way, he likes to cruise around and pull all the shampoo down.

Now if I can just convince Jackson that rinsing shampoo is not going to hurt him...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Loyalists vs. Patriots

Fifth graders take End of Grade tests in math, reading, and science.  Since social studies is not tested, we rarely ever teach it.  Last week was a shortened week so my team decided to teach social studies for two days instead of introducing our new science unit.  My class learned about the causes of the American Revolution.  The kids became rather interested in the topic so I made impromptu plans to prepare for a debate (Loyalists vs Patriots).  The class divided in half and they worked together to brainstorm five arguments for their side. 

The following class (this week), I gave each student an index card to prepare their key points.  They took on roles as farmers, mothers, minutemen, slaves, and a variety of historical figures.  I played the devil's advocate for each student so they could make their arguments stronger.  I asked if students were interested in creating flags for their side during recess.  Several students worked together on this project.

Upon students request, I videotaped each pair of debates the next day.  One of the staff members brought in a bunch of wigs, but my kids chose not to use them.  (Though they got a kick out of trying them on during recess!)  The British flag wasn't quite finished.  With the exception of two students, the class was very well prepared and considered both sides.  In the end, the Patriots made a stronger case.

I love doing assignments like this.  I'd love to say it was student led, but none of my kids had ever debated before; therefore, they needed a good bit of guidance.  We spent a total of four class periods, from introducing the lesson (reading and watching video clips to learn the content) to conducting the debate.  Now if I could just sneak in more social studies...

Random Jack Updates

Jackson will be 11 months old next Friday.  I don't know where the year has gone!  Here are some random updates from the past few weeks.

We have embraced his pacifier addiction by buying a clip for both of the carseats.  These were purchased after one too many screaming car rides because Jackson had thrown his pacifier out of reach.  I know we should be trying to wean him from the paci, but this little clip has provided some sweet relief for all of us!

The longer Jackson's hair grows, the more curl and wave that appears.  The curls are unevenly distributed and his hair is morphing into a mullet. 

Jackson eats a graham cracker like a termite gnawing through wood.  It's quite a talent.

Princess Cakes

My niece requested a princess cake for her 5th birthday.  There were a lot of people invited so I went ahead and made two cakes.   

The credit for the crown cake can be found here.  I chose to use graham crackers rather than cookies because it was much easier and I wanted the crown to be pink.  Here is how to make it:

1. Bake and frost a two-layer round cake of your choice.  I used milk chocolate cake mix (with buttermilk instead of water).  I frosted it with homemade cream cheese icing.

2. Trim a dozen graham crackers to create a triangular tip.

3. Melt pink candy wafers in the microwave.  Stir every 30 seconds.  Dip graham crackers into melted candy and place on a cooling rack.

 4. Decorate each candy coated graham cracker using candy of your choice.

5. Press the decorated graham crackers onto the sides of a frosted 2-layer cake.  Pipe icing between each graham cracker to conceal the edges.

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I also made a Barbie doll cake.  I had been looking for an excuse to make this cake for quite some time.  Rather than using a whole Barbie, I bought this doll at A.C. Moore for $3.  I created a crown using a foil cupcake liner dipped in icing and pink sugar.  

I baked the cake in a Wilton dome-shaped pan.  (You could also use a glass bowl.)  I decorated the cake with pink buttercream frosting in swirl patterns.  I piped the icing directly onto the bodice of the doll and sprinkled it with pink sugar.  Here is the final product: