Sunday, April 29, 2012

April Adventures

April has been an incredibly busy month for our family.  Between Easter, Spring Break, and Jackson's birthday, we've managed to have small adventures each week.  Here are some of the highlights:

--Apparently, the Easter Bunny terrifies Jackson.  Jesse and I took him to Bass Pro Shop where they have free pictures.  Jackson was perfectly content with Santa Claus, but horrified by the 6 foot rabbit!  He clinched onto Jesse's collar while being handed over to his arch nemesis.  This was the best photo I could get.

--Jackson loves the pool.  He especially enjoys the fact that it is shallow enough for him to climb in and out of.  I still had numerous Little Swimmers left over from our beach trip in October that actually fit.  Jackson was a pro at splashing around and chasing his bath toys in the pool.  We'll enjoy swimming more this summer when the water can heat up for a few hours beforehand. 

--Cow's milk has taken the place of formula.  I guess this is more of a milestone than an adventure, but it's felt like a journey getting this child to drink from a sippy cup.  He had a few nasty diapers at first so we ended up transitioning more slowly with half milk/half formula.  He now drinks a cup of whole milk during the day and one bottle of warm milk before bed.   

--Jackson went to his first major sporting event.  My school gave the 5th graders 20 free tickets to a basketball event at the arena uptown.  I was a bit frazzled after being told I had to check the stroller at the customer service desk as soon as I walked in.  It was challenging to occupy a one year old in the nosebleed section of an arena.  Since he doesn't walk, he was passed around by my colleagues and students for a few hours.  Jackson kept clapping and whipping his head around at every new sound and light.  This picture shows how distracted he was!

--Jesse purchased a toddler seat for his bicycle.  The boys have gone on brief bike rides along our street each day to try to get Jackson comfortable with the seat and helmet.  Jackson hates the helmet but likes going fast and being able to see everything.  They are two peas in a pod!

--In addition to celebrating his own birthday, Jackson celebrated birthdays of his MiMi, cousin Emily, and Uncle Scott this month.  This meant more excuses for food, more family get-togethers, and more car rides.  No matter how late it gets, Jackson is happy to love on his family!

--My teammates and I have been coming in early and staying late to interview a potential 5th grade teacher for next year.  There are currently 3 fifth grade teachers and 5 fourth grade teachers, so we know we'll need at least one more teacher on our team.  We narrowed it down to two teachers and invited them to come back to interact with the kids.  We are really pleased with one candidate and our principal offered him the job on Friday.  (He accepted.)  I'm really excited about this addition because I know there should be little drama and he has a strong teaching background! 

--Jesse and his mom went to a Val Halen concert last Wednesday.  Jesse won the tickets on the radio a while back.  Cameras weren't allowed in the arena, so I don't have any to post, but I think they were both surprised at how much they enjoyed the concert.

A Picture Says a Thousand Words

This is currently my favorite picture of Jackson.  I just love it because it reveals so much about Jackson's personality.  We've got his typical smile so big that his cheeks can't get any higher.  His curious nature is what brought him to the laundry basket in the first place.  And my favorite part of the photo is the missing sock, showing off his mischievous, little boy side.  I love this kid!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Birthday Boy--April 9, 2012

Jackson's birthday fell on the day after Easter and my first day back to work from Spring Break.  Easter night I was really nostalgic and felt bittersweet that the year of firsts was coming to an end.  In a year we experienced the first time we held him, first time he slept in the crib, his first bottle, the first time he rolled over, crawled, stood up, his first holidays, etc.  While I know we have many more "firsts" to look forward to with Jack, I didn't want to let him go after his night time bottle and cuddle session.  I just so happened to wake up at 4:28 a.m., his exact time of birth. 

Since Jesse had to work that evening, he and Jackson came to visit during lunch, recess, and science.  I love that my students have been able to watch him grow up this year, too.  They are very caring and protective around him.  They sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

Jesse's co-workers were generous enough to give Jackson two birthday presents.  We let him open it after dinner.  Jackson received a very impressive v-tech walker that does all kinds of tricks.  Jackson is a pro at unwrapping presents, and was pretty curious about what was in the box.

He was strolling around the downstairs in no time!

Unfortunately, Jesse had to go to work at 6.  Jackson and I played and I gave him a bath.  I kept Jackson awake later than usual because his MeMe and cousin, Emily, were coming by for a late visit.  Jackson loved the company and continued to show off his new walker and cuddle with them.  Jackson was so tired he kept trying to stand up and fall over.  We all put him to bed and I visited with my family a bit longer. 

I know Jackson won't remember his birthday but I hope we made him feel loved and extra special with the singing and gifts.  He has certainly blessed Jesse and I more than he will ever know and we look forward to celebrating many, many more of Jackson's birthdays!

Pink Zebra Dancer Cake

My niece requested a cake with a dancer on top and told me her decorations were going to be pink and zebra stripes.  Her party was last weekend, the same weekend as my friend's bridal shower and my mother-in-law's birthday.  I didn't have a lot of time so I decided to try decorating with plain old fabric ribbon.  I looked online and found tips on how to do so.  Everything I read suggested either backing the ribbon with tape or ironing on wax paper to prevent the ribbon from becoming greasy or discolored from the icing.  The other tip was to measure the ribbon around the cake pan so you would have the perfect length that just barely overlaps.

I made a three layer chocolate cake and leveled two of the cakes for stacking purposes.  After frosting them with pink buttercream, I wrapped the zebra ribbon around the edges as a border.  I was worried I was going to made dents in the icing while applying the ribbon, but it went on surprisingly smoothly.

I would have preferred to make a dancer out of gum paste but I waited until the last minute and knew it wouldn't harden in time.  (Plus, I'm not especially talented at molding gum paste yet.)  I drew an outline of a a ballerina on a 1/2 inch thick foam board, cut it out with a utility knife, and colored it black with black food coloring.  I used the foam board so that I could insert toothpicks in both the dancer and the cake so she would stand freely.  The dancer was much larger than I like, but I found that the smaller the dancer was, the harder it was to cut out.  Here is the final product:

The cake was cute on display and the birthday girl was happy.  I obviously removed the ribbons and topper before cutting it.  My next requests are a cake with a realistic pony in May and a wedding cake in June.  Eeeeekk!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

Enough said...

One Year Well Check

Jesse and I took Jackson to his one year well-check last Tuesday.  He is on track with each of his measurements and continues to be between the 25th and 50th percentiles for weight, height, and head circumference. 

8 lb, 15 oz
21.75 in
14 in
1 Month
11 lb, 1 oz
23.25 in
15.25 in
2 Month
12 lbs, 15 oz
25 in
15.75 in
4 Month
14 lbs, 4 oz
25.75 in
16.5 in
6 Month
16 lbs
27 in
17.5 in
9 Month
19 lbs
29 in
18 in
12 Month
21 lbs, 5 oz
30 in
18.5 in

We ran out of Jackson's reflux medicine a week ago and were waiting to refill it after we spoke to his pediatrician.  Unfortunately, Jackson has begun spitting up a couple of times per day within a mere week off of his medication.  We were hoping we could get a generic prescription since the dissoluble tablets are so expensive.  We were informed that Jack can't have the generic capsules because the capsules aren't available in a small enough dosage and we can't split them. 

His doctor wasn't concerned about any of our responses on the 6-page survey, even though he was marked down for not having distinctive words (besides MaMa and Dada).  It's no surprise that his highest scores were in the "personal/social skills" set.  Jackson is amazing at pushing his arms and legs through his clothes to help dress and undress.  He also conveys quite a range of emotions.

Here is how our ever curious boy passed the time while waiting for his shots:

Jackson had his first Chicken Pox and MMR shots.  The shots had to be administered in different legs, which meant a painful delay time.  Poor Jack wailed and didn't recover until we were in the parking lot. 

Our next appointment is his 15 month check in July.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Jackson was only two weeks old last Easter. Jesse and I had one goal: to survive our marathon outing.  This year we were really looking forward to beginning our own Easter traditions and celebrating the day with our families.  Unfortunately, Jesse had to work and was unable to visit with my family.

Growing up, my mother used to scatter candy throughout our house.  When we awoke on Easter morning, we would race to collect the most candy.  Obviously Jackson can't/shouldn't eat a lot of candy, so we stuffed eggs with Goldfish and Teddy Grahams. 

 Jackson clearly didn't understand why there were eggs or what they were.  He had a good time rolling them around the floor.  He was so excited once I showed him that there were snacks inside.

In addition to the indoor Easter egg hunt, we prepared a basket with simple, inexpensive gifts.  

The three of us enjoyed a joyful church service.

After church Jackson and I headed to Gastonia to enjoy lunch and the traditional egg hunt with my family.  Jackson cracked me up during the egg hunt.  He was the only participant who can't walk yet, so he just sat in the grass and watched everyone else.  When his very mobile cousin walked nearby, Jackson helped himself to his basket full of eggs.

After lunch Jackson and I drove an hour to have dinner with Jesse's family.  Thankfully, Jesse was able to take off early from work and join us for dinner.  We enjoyed excessive amounts of food and conversation.

Easter was a joyous celebration filled with new traditions, worship, and family. 

Monday, April 23, 2012


Until recently, yard work was last on our priority list.  The weeds were so bad we even put Jackson to work.

Jesse struggled mowing the overgrown lawn while Jackson and I worked on pulling weeds.

The holly bushes directly outside our front door had become quite an eyesore.  The sharp-edged leaves are painful to brush against and they attract pests.  Jesse had a close encounter with a black widow while trimming the hedges!  Here is the view from our front door:

Jesse devoted most of spring break to removing all six bushes in front of the house.  This required purchasing a pick axe and wheelbarrow.  You can see how deep the roots were in just one bush.

Of course, Jackson helped transport the bushes to the back woods behind the house.

The final product (which I can take no credit for) is a simple flowerbed with a hibiscus, hydrangeas, and azaleas.  In place of the holly bushes is a red brick patio with a colorful table and chairs.  We already have rocking chairs on the deck, but there is something especially appealing to relaxing on the front porch.  I can't wait to watch Jackson draw with sidewalk chalk or ride his tricycle along the cul-de-sac.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


It's easy for me to forget how much time Jackson spends with his buddy Connor.    I leave before Connor arrives and return home from work after he is dropped off at his house.  While on Spring Break I was able to see just how much the boys interact throughout the week.  I also envisioned life with twins, glimpsed into life as a stay at home mom, and realized what different personalities the boys have.  I tried to take as many pictures as I could since Jesse is a much better care-provider than photographer.  Here are some action shots from the week:

Preparing for the weekly shopping trip

Sharing toys

Stroller wars

Ball eating contest

Band practice

Waiting for swim lessons

Wadin' in the water

Ridin' in style

I am really proud of how Jesse has established a routine.  While I give him a hard time for being able to nap on the job, wear sweatpants, and watch TV or read most of the day, I am impressed at how well he is able to feed, change, and nap both boys and still go to story time, grocery shop, and cook dinner.  Most importantly, I'm glad Jackson gets to spend each day with Jesse and Connor.

Friday, April 6, 2012

EOG Countdown: Brain Break

With only five weeks of school left before the End of Grade tests, the pressure is on!  Students, teachers, facilitators, and administrators are all on pins and needles hoping our school digs itself out of school of reform status.  Two years ago, only 8% of the fifth graders were reading on grade level.  Last year just over 20% of fifth graders were reading on grade level.  Based on our Mock EOG last week, we have 45% reading on grade level.  (The students took the most recent Released EOG so the scores should be valid.) 

One of the things we teach our children is to take brain breaks after every few pages (in math or science) or every passage (in reading).  Some of my students put together a huge bulletin board outside my classroom that showcases the test-taking strategies and brain breaks.  Brain Gym is a collection of research based movements that engage both hemispheres of the brain.  We teach them specific movements that they can do silently at their seat on their own or during the three minute breaks.  Here are our favorites:

1. Hold both of your hands out in front of you in a fist.  Hold only your thumb out on one hand, and only your pinky out in the other hand.  Then switch as quickly as you can.  Hold only your thumb out on the opposite hand and only your pinky out on the other hand.  Alternate back and forth as fast as you can.

2. Stand up.  Hold one leg out in front of you.  Make small circles with your toes in a clockwise motion.  Hold the opposite arm out in front of your leg.  Make small circles with your hand in a counterclockwise motion.

3. Stand up.  Hold your right arm and left leg out to the side and pulse them five times.  Then hold your left arm and right leg out to the side and pulse them five times.  Repeat with your right arm and left leg four times, then left arm and right left four times.  Do the same thing pulsing three times on both sides, then two times, then one time.  You can get increasingly faster as you go or you can go in slow motion and try to keep your balance.

4. Cross your arms in front of you.  Grab your right ear with your left hand.  Grab your nose with your right hand.  Then switch.

Bring on the EOG's.  We're getting ready!

Update on Walking

This kid can walk all around any furniture and do laps around the house on his walker with just one hand.  However, he has yet to take a single step or even stand unassisted.  We're in no rush for him to walk, but clearly he is capable of it. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Filthy Floors

An alternative title could be "Grotty Grout".  I am a sucker for alliteration. 

Jesse and I have been thoroughly cleaning our house this week while I am on break.  We've scrubbed every baseboard, cleaned under the couch (hello, Cheerios), and gone through our closets.  One of the things Jesse wanted to do was to clean the grout, which is something we've never done before.  I honestly could care less and didn't even think it was especially dirty.  Boy, was I wrong!

Here is what it looked like before:

I made a paste using OxyClean and tediously applied it between each tile using a toothbrush.  I waited 'til Jackson went to bed since it takes at least an hour to be effective.

Jesse and I seriously struggled to remove the cleaner and we created stubborn white footprints throughout the house in the process.  Alas, the grout is clean!

In addition to cleaning the grout, I also purchased a steam mop to make sure we keep the floors clean.  Now that the boys are walking/crawling everywhere, Jesse and I are having a hard time keeping up with the mess from the boys and the cats.  We've agreed that he'll mop each morning before Connor arrives and I'll mop each evening after Jackson goes to bed. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Discovery Place

After organizing a field trip to Discovery Place for our fifth graders, I was reminded how much I love the museum!  Jesse and I let our membership expire when I was pregnant, but I convinced him that we needed to renew it last weekend.

Jackson loved the jellyfish and colorful aquariums.

He also enjoyed some of the physics exhibits.  This particular exhibit has a giant wind tunnel that you can stuff paper into and it will fall down like rain.

While I don't see a prodigy or architect-in-the-making, Jack enjoyed throwing the blocks at the Project Build center.

Clearly, Jackson was most at home at the children's play area.  He was the smallest kid there and he seemed infatuated with this little boy who was riding a toy car.  Jackson kept pulling up on the bridge and talking to him.

Our last stop included the water center where you can spray objects, play with paddle boats, and interact with various water toys.  By this point, Jackson was over stimulated and ready for a nap!

Jesse and I know Jackson is too young to remember or understand most of the exhibits in the museum.  However, I still think it's important to expose him to different activities and for him to participate in things that engage all of his senses.  I'm certain that the museum will be a frequent stop for us this summer.