Holidays & Special Events, Life with Jameson

The best Christmas.


I LOVE the holiday season. Some years are better than others, but this one really blew every other year that I can remember out of the water. For real, this has been my favorite Christmas.

A lot of different things played into it to make it extra wonderful… the fact that Jameson was old enough to open his own gifts and get excited about them. Spending the morning reading the Christmas story from our Bibles on my parents’ bed like always. Having a delicious dinner with my parents and Alex’s parents all together. Christmas being on a Sunday which let us celebrate with our church family at night. Getting blessed out the wazoo with such generosity from friends and family. Going to see Alex’s brother and our sister-in-law up in Prescott the Friday before Christmas. Spending Christmas Eve with my grandma and tons more family.


It was all so so good. But I think my very favorite part was when I gave my parents their gift. A few months ago I decided to get all my parents’ home videos digitized as their present for Christmas. They had been sitting in the garage for over twelve years (since we moved to Arizona) and even longer before that at our house in New York. The video camera that was used to record them broke a loooong time ago, so we hadn’t been able to see any of our memories for closer to fifteen years, probably over twenty years for some of the oldest videos.

So when my parents went out of town for a few days last month, I stole all the tapes and sent them off to Legacy Box to be converted into DVDs. They JUST made it back in time (two days before Christmas) and I was so so SO happy with the results. All of our childhood memories were right there in front of me, videos I had never seen before and videos I had forgotten all about. Hours of footage from all our best moments and tons of ordinary moments too (which actually turned out to be my favorites). Videos of me and my sister playing together in our backyard with our old family dogs. Videos of each of our newborn days. Videos of our birthdays and school plays and tap recitals and baton performances and snow days. Videos of inside jokes we quote all the time but haven’t been able to see in years. It was all there.

Needless to say, I cried like a baby watching it all through. And I was literally giddy with excitement to give it to my parents on Christmas morning.

It was the last present under the tree and I handed it to my dad while my youngest sister recorded on my phone. His reaction was the best thing ever and I’m so glad we caught it on video! He and my mom were absolutely shocked and thrilled. Oh it just made me so very happy!


They asked to watch the videos right away so we popped one in and all our memories came to life as if no time had passed at all. I’m still blown away by the care and thoughtfulness my parents used as they filmed our lives. Each clip was so obviously done with intention and with the knowledge that our childhood days would be fleeting. You can hear my dad saying multiple times in the videos, “We’ll watch this in twenty years and laugh!” Or “Maybe someday God will bless you with a baby and then you’ll know how I feel right now.” They knew time would slip by so quickly, and it did.

So this next year I’m making it a point to record more everyday moments with Jameson. Not just ten second clips for  Snapchat or a quick video of something cute he’s doing for Facebook. I want videos of our life just as it was and just for our family, because if I learned anything this Christmas it’s that the time God gives us with our children is so precious. Not every moment is “extraordinary,” but those aren’t always our best moments or memories anyway.


I hope your holiday season has been oh so very merry!

Love, the Iwanski’s

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Jameson Monthly, Life with Jameson

Fifteen months of Jameson

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It’s been awhile since I wrote one of these updates, but Jameson just had his 15 month well-visit and I thought it was time to document all the new and exciting things in this boy’s world. 🙂

He’s grown a TON since I wrote his 12 month update, in every way possible! Oh, he is just the sweetest little guy. Full of cheesy smiles for everyone, so so smart, determined to learn new things and gain independence, generous and kind to all his little friends, and an incredibly good listener. I could brag on this kid all day but I better get to the update. 🙂

Weight & Length: He weighed in at 21.1 lbs, which is almost exactly what he weighed at his 12 month checkup. But he grew two inches since then (he’s now 2’7″ which is adorable), so I think he’s just staying the same for weight because he’s so active now. Still getting bigger, just losing some of his baby chub. He’s in the 40th percentile for height, the 25th for weight, and his head circumference is in the 15th percentile (little peanut head <3).

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Clothing: Honestly right around the same as he was in the last update. 12-18 month range for clothes (or just 18 month stuff) and still size 4 for diapers. Gymboree and Target are my favorite places to shop for him; all the winter lines are just so stinkin’ adorable!

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Hair & Eyes: Everyone always comments about how light his hair is! Some say it’s red, some say light brown, I see more of a strawberry blonde. He got his first haircut about a month ago (November 16th, it was a bittersweet day) so most of his cute little curls are all gone. But! As his hair grows out I can see it getting more and more wavy, so I think the curls will be back someday. As for his eyes, they’re super dark…sort of brown, sort of hazel, with eyelashes for daaaays.

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Before his haircut. Those curls! ❤

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Sleep: Honestly this has been so hard lately! He’s in this phase right now where he wakes up several times a night crying for us. Sometimes he can get himself back to sleep, sometimes one of us has to go in there and pat his little tushy until he calms down. One night he was up from 1am-5am, oh it was just the worst. We transitioned him to one nap a day hoping this would help him get more solid sleep at night but it really hasn’t done anything at all so far. He does nap for longer periods of time during the day (sometimes, hah) so hopefully his nighttime sleep will improve soon too.

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Eating: We’ve definitely seen improvement in this area, although he is still super picky and finicky about food. He eats three square meals a day (with some snacks in between) and nurses once during the day and once before bed. I’ve thought about trying to wean him completely (he’d probably be fine nutrition-wise) but he’s still so happy to nurse and I love it too so we might keep it around for a little while longer.

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Milestones: He’s got 8 teeth total now and he’s blasting through physical milestones! He runs and climbs and does daredevil things that terrify me all the time. He can eat with a fork or a spoon, he tries to jump (mostly just lifts his shoulders up haha), throws balls and tries to catch them too, he’s figured out how to open doors (that’s been real fun), and he loves climbing all over the playground and going down slides. He’s really not afraid of much!

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Communication: This is my favorite area right now! Wow, this kid is smart and so quick to learn new words. He’s picking up vocabulary left and right and he understands a ton. He follows directions so well (“go clean up your toys” or “give this to Daddy” or “do your cheesy face!”) and his sign language amazes me! Honestly. I counted the other day and realized he can actually say at least 10 words and he can sign 8 other words! Plus he knows like 10 different animals sounds and a few vehicle noises as well. I am very impressed by him all the time. And I love all his other forms of communication too, like pointing, high fives, giving knuckles, waving, blowing kisses, playing peekaboo, giggling with his friends, etc. It’s so sweet watching his personality blossom.

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Saying “no no no”

Loves: Going to playgroup, reading, music and dancing (especially to “Oh How I Need You” by All Sons & Daughters), animals, being chased/wrestling/playing rough, copying everything (there’s nothing like a copycat toddler to let you know what you do and say all the time haha), Charlie, playing with all our DVD cases, his cousin Madelyn, playing with kids his age, playing outside, watching airplanes, trying to sweep with my giant broom, hanging out with his family, checking out our little garden, watering the plants, and eating pizza!

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Hates: When I brush his teeth for him, sitting in his carseat for too long, really sitting still anywhere for too long, and getting his diaper changed (along the same lines of sitting still haha). Mostly he just hates being still.

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Things I want to remember: The way you tell yourself “no no no” (wagging your finger and saying the words at the same time), how you bust out of the bathroom after a bath so you don’t have to get dressed, how sweet you are to your friends and how you love to share, how you kiss the plants in the garden, how you immediately start dancing when my dad sings your Mister Man song (and how you dance to really any music as soon as you hear it), how you say “yes” (very quietly with a big smile), how loud and weird you get when people come over or daddy comes home because you’re just so excited, how you say “that” when you point to something you want (“dat?!”), the way you nod your head up and down very slowly, all your cute little animal noises (especially your monkey noise “ah ah!” and your kitty noise “mouw”), how you speak with such confidence in fluent gibberish, and the way you start waving night-night and signing “milk” when you want to go to sleep.

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First time at the zoo!

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Oh Nugget, we love you so! You are such a joy to be around. You light up everyone’s day with your happy smiles, your silly spirit, and your kind little heart. We love the person you are and the person you’re becoming. Happy fifteen months, Jimmy Jam! ❤

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Jameson Monthly, Life with Jameson

12 months of Jameson

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Can you believe it?! We’re here! One whole year with this sweet baby boy. I don’t fully believe it yet, even though yesterday was his birthday and all the announcements and pictures from the day he was born keep popping up on my Timehop. Somehow I still think this must all be some kind of joke! My tiny infant cannot be a toddler. That just cannot be.

All the same, I thought I would be more emotional than I am right now. I shed a few tears  the other night after I rocked him to sleep for the last time as a “baby,” but mostly I’m just happy. Happy about everything from this year! The good and the bad, the fun and the sad. Every laugh, every snuggle, every proud moment, every difficult learning curve…all of it. I am happy and I am so, so thankful.

This will be my last monthly update on Jameson for awhile. I plan on coming back every few months to write down the highlights as he grows and learns, but it’ll probably be something like every 3-6 months or so, rather than every month. I will, however, be writing more frequently about other things in between the Jameson updates. 🙂 This blog started out as a simple way to document my pregnancy, but it’s turned into such a wonderful creative outlet for me and I hope to keep up with it for many years to come.

Anyway, here we go! Twelve months of Jameson. This is where we stand with our one year old. ❤

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Weight & Length: We had his one year checkup this morning and he weighed in at 21 pounds, which is slightly less than last month but only by a few ounces. He’s been around 21 lbs since he was 10 months old (he’s so active, though, so that’s not surprising) and he’s in the 30th percentile for weight. Height-wise he’s 2 feet, 5 inches and his doctor mentioned that he’s starting to slide down in the percentile rankings (he’s a little less than the 25th percentile). She said it’s nothing to be worried about (especially after I mentioned that my husband didn’t hit his major growth spurt until later in high school) and said that it’s likely he’ll just be a late bloomer like Alex and I both were. Based on his height at six months, though, she predicted that he’ll be around 6’1″ once he’s fully grown (with a growth spurt around the time he’s 15-17 years old). I just feel bad that he’ll probably be a little dude for so long! Oh well, Alex survived it and I know Jameson will too.

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Clothing: Still 12-18 month clothes (but he’s starting to fit in some 18 month stuff too if it’s on the smaller side) and size 4 diapers. I love shopping for him now because he fits in the toddler outfits, which are so much cuter than all the baby clothes that say dopey things on the front of everything. Just make a darn shirt without any words on it for goodness sake. Sheesh!

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Hair & Eyes: I would probably call his eyes hazel or dark green. They are gorgeous. He’s going to break a lot of hearts with those dark brooding eyes and crazy long lashes. His hair is still fairly light, partly red, partly brown, partly blonde. Just a tie-dyed mixture of really pretty shades. It still curls in the back but when it’s wet it reaches down past his shoulders hahah. Alex is getting antsy to cut it but I do not want to cut off those curls. Maybe we’ll clean it up a little soon, but his hair is so thin anyway that a real haircut would be ridiculous at this point. I comb it over all nice and neat every day anyway, so it’s not like it looks girly or silly or something like that. And besides, I would never choose to cut his hair short (like buzz it or something) ever ever ever, no matter how old he gets. I prefer slightly longer hair on boys, for styling purposes. So for now, I win and we keep the curls. 🙂

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Processed with VSCO with s3 presetimg_0797Eating: Ugh, I don’t want to talk about this! I get so frustrated because Jameson is one of the most challenging eaters I’ve ever seen. He changes tastes almost daily (one day he’s into something, the next day he absolutely refuses…although his doctor did say this is typical), he throws food off his high chair all the time, he spits anything he doesn’t particularly care for out of his mouth, and once he’s frustrated with eating it’s all over. If that happens two minutes into a meal, too bad. He’s done. And he’s so little that I have no way of asking him what the problem is. Texture? Flavor? Not hungry? Want something else? I get so exasperated nearly every meal. I hate making food that he’s just going to feed the dog because that is such huge waste of time, money, and food. Plus Charlie is going to get fat haha. I’ve been trying to find healthy power foods that I can feed him quickly before he gets annoyed but homeboy is such a carb and dessert lover that anything beyond Goldfish or cookies is pretty much a total flop. Ah, please someone tell me it gets better! I nurse him about 3 times a day so he’s still getting nutrition that way…but we can’t keep that up forever and I need him to be okay with eating before we can stop. Oye. Rough times. Hopefully I have something better to report next time I write an update hahah.

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Likes smoothies.
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Sharing his cookie with me.

Milestones: His sixth tooth is juuuust breaking through (his bottom left) and he’s gnawing on things like crazy, poor baby. In terms of gross motor development, he’s such an active kid and is always pushing himself to figure out new things. He can speed walk now (almost runs sometimes!), walk backwards, climb things, go up stairs, etc. I even saw him try to jump two different times! I’m starting to teach him how to eat with a spoon which he loves trying to do, and his fine motor skills are always improving. This age is so much fun. He’s not quite as wobbly anymore so it’s not quite as terrifying every second haha.

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Teefies!

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The one finger.

Communication: He says “uh oh” now, “na na” for night night, “meh meh meh” for more, “ah dun” for all done (but he thinks it means “help,” I’m pretty sure), and he understands so much. Oh it is SO fun! He can follow simple directions (“Put the toy in,” “throw the ball,” “come here,” “no touch,” “no mouth,” “give kisses, “give hugs,” “share with mama,” “where’s mommy’s nose?” etc.). And he copies words we say (like “mama” and “dada,” although he hasn’t actually called either of us by name yet. Maybe “dada” once or twice). His favorite thing to babble is “tookatookatooka” and I love it haha. He copies hand gestures too like pointing, wagging his finger for “no no no,” waving, giving high fives, and trying to do “I’m a Little Teapot.” He also sings along to the song “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers (“OH!”). I love how much more we can interact now and I can’t wait to have real conversations with him and hear all his wonderful thoughts!

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Hi mom!
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Pointing.

Loves: Music and dancing, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, helping me with the laundry, going outside and playing in the dirt/rocks/ripping leaves off my plants, chasing Charlie, playing high-stakes peekaboo (aka I jump out and try to scare him), anything that keeps him active, bath time/all things water-related (the splash pad especially!), reading, playing in the fridge, desserts (me too, buddy), and grabbing stuff out of the dishwasher (seriously loses his mind if I close it before he can get there, and if he does make it there in time he is just beside himself with joy that he’s able to take the spatulas out and play with them).

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First time at the library! He loved all the books.

Hates: Sitting still for too long (we’re working on that…church has become something of a circus act trying to wrangle him during the message, since we have family-integrated services). Also hates being told “no touch.” Not all the time, but when he really wants something he gets maaaad if he finds out he can’t have it. But we’re working on first-time obedience and respecting mommy and daddy. It’s hard at this age because the language is just not there to explain things, but I’m fully confident that he can learn to obey without knowing the exact reason. Honoring your father and your mother doesn’t mean “only when you know and agree with their reasons” and I want to start training him up now before he gets into full-fledged toddlerhood haha. He already does know boundaries, even this young. And he really does listen pretty well for such a little guy.

Also, he hated when Alex put him in his shirt hahaha.

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Things I want to remember: How excited you get when Daddy gets home from work, how you share your toys (but since you like to chew on them all, you share by putting them near my mouth because you think I’ll like to chew on them too), how you walk around with you belly sticking out, how you mosey all over smacking your chest when you don’t have a shirt on, how you dance with your arms up in the air and slowly walk around in a circle, how you sing “Ho Hey” along with the song (“OH!), how you try to explain yourself with a very serious look on your face when you know you’re doing something bad (Me: Jameson, what are you– You: *jump away from item* Ahtookatookatooka!), when I catch you with something you’re not supposed to have and you hand it to me like that was your plan all along, how you like to explore new things with just one very careful pointer finger, how you run to us and fall into our arms with a huge smile, the way you hurry your little tushy away after baths and make me chase you to get dressed, how you sometimes start dancing or clapping along to silly songs that I’m making up on the spot (makes me feel famous or something), and how you’ve recently started sharing with other kids (gently handing your toys to someone you think might have fun with it). Sweet boy!

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Me and my birthday boy. ❤

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My favorite face he makes.

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Such a smartypants. He’s changing the speeds on the fan.

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Jameson and PopPop.

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Meeting his great-grandma!

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Jameson, my little love, you are everything to us. This year with you has been the best of our lives. You make our little family overflow with love and laughter and fun. We adore you. I am so thrilled to see what God has in store for us in year TWO! ❤

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A Day With Jameson, At home, Life with Jameson

Jameson is almost one!

Our baby boy’s first birthday is fast approaching (next Monday, how?!) and we wanted to do something special as a family to celebrate his first year of life and all the wonderful ways he makes our lives better. So yesterday we had a photographer friend (Marissa Adams, of Lux & Arrow Photography) come to our home to capture some of the everyday moments that are so special to us. We are THRILLED with the results and I wanted to share some of my favorites from the session here today! What a blessing these photos will be for us to show Jameson later on.

We love you, sweet baby Squish!!! You’ve made this year the best of our lives. We’re so thankful that God placed you in our love and care!

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Jameson Monthly, Life with Jameson

11 Months of Jameson

Things are getting interesting around here. 😉 Now that Jameson is walking like a pro (well, like a drunken sailor. But still much better than he was last month), he’s getting a lot more independent and a lot more outspoken about what he wants to do. Part of this is not so fun (e.g., he tries to leap out of my arms so he can walk to something he wants) but most of it is so awesome to see. I love his determination and I love how he doesn’t give up on his goals (although I could do without his try-to-eat-Charlie’s-food-every-few-hours goal). I can feel us transitioning into toddlerhood and I hate it and love it at the same time. Being a parent is confusing in many different ways.

I can’t believe that next month it’ll be a whole year since we met our boy! But let’s not think about that just yet, please. I’m not ready. For now, here’s where we stand at eleven months old…

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Raise your hand if you’re 11 months old!

Weight & Length: We won’t know any officials until his one year appointment next month, but I weighed him this week and he’s around 21.4 lbs, which is 0.4 pounds more than last month (but obviously still pretty much the same. Thank goodness, he’s a chunk to carry around all day hahah).

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Clothing: Mostly 12-18 month stuff for the clothes and size 4 in diapers still. Pretty much the same as last month!

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Hair & Eyes: I kiss his little blondish/reddish/brownish curls all the time. They are just so cute! His eyes are are still that dark green color. Sometimes I think they look just like Alex’s, sometimes I think they look just like mine. Maybe they’ll always be a combination.

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Sleep: About the same as last month! He’s up for the day around 7 or 7:30, takes an hour and a half morning nap, an hour and a half afternoon nap, and then he’s down for the night around 8pm. He still wakes up around 5am every morning, though…sometimes he goes back to sleep on his own, sometimes Alex brings him into our bed and he’ll go back to sleep then. I keep saying we should try to break that habit, but it really doesn’t bother me too much and I know he’ll grow out of it eventually. So for now I’m just enjoying our morning snuggles in the big bed.  🙂

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Eating: I’d say his nursing/eating regular food is about fifty-fifty at this point (actually sometimes more in favor of nursing). He eats three meals a day, but he still nurses in between those meals (usually right before a nap or before bed). It is slooooow goings in the regular food department. Jameson is super skeptical of everything, takes forever to warm up to a new food (besides snack foods or desserts), and fights meals almost every time. I can’t tell if it’s because he’s just not liking what I give him, if he’d rather nurse, or if he just doesn’t like sitting still to eat (this boy is go, go, go). Maybe a combination. Either way, I’ve been trying to make meals interesting and offer him lots of different choices to see what he likes. But I’m not going to force it on him. I’m fine if we keep nursing for awhile if that’s what he needs. I won’t stop nursing until I’m confident that he’s getting enough nutrition and calories from regular food anyway. And right now, he definitely isn’t. If you have any tips or meal ideas for little ones, please send them my way!

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“Oooh that’s some good milk.”
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Ice cream is always a win.
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Donuts are always a win, too.
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Food everywhere but in his mouth.

Milestones: He got his fifth tooth this month (next to his right top tooth) but no sign of the matching one for the left side yet haha. He’s gotten so much better at walking since last month and actually never even crawls anymore at all, unless he’s already playing on the floor. He doesn’t mind falling over either…he just pops right back up! He’s also getting more courageous with climbing things (scares the crap out of me all the time) and likes to test the limits to see how fast he can walk/run.

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Little climbing monkey.

IMG_0517Communication: He’s been super into copying sounds and even words (not very well haha) these days. I think he’s really close to his first word, if he hasn’t said it already (hard to tell). Almost every day I think I hear him say “all done” (“ah duh”) but I don’t know if it’s just coincidence or not. He has definitely signed it, though, so I guess that’s technically his first word either way! He also copies me when I say “uh oh” (“UH!”) and babbles almost nonstop during the day. He understands a lot of the words I use every day (Daddy, Charlie, ball, water, no, hi, etc.) and will look for whatever it is I’m talking about until he finds it (e.g., “Where’s Daddy?” and he’ll look around the room until he finds Alex). He loves interacting with games and songs (especially doing the “tip me over” part of “I’m a Little Teapot”) and loves clapping for things to show you he likes something or to get me to say “yay!” He sometimes even asks for the name of things in his own way (will reach is arm toward an object and say, “eh?” and then I’ll give him the name of it). It is so much fun!

IMG_9980Loves: A lot of the same stuff as last month… Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and anything Mickey-related (included the real mouse himself in Disneyland), the ocean, listening to Alex play guitar, being in the Ergobaby carrier, playing with the coasters in the living room, attempting to grab/chew/mess with any wire he can find, playing fetch with Charlie, trying to grab Charlie’s tail, sneaking snacks from Charlie’s food bowl (I pull him away from there at least 8 times a day. It’s his biggest temptation right now.), playing with balls and blocks, walking around the house, figuring out how things work, playing peek-a-boo or hide-and-go-seek with me, READING (loves loves looooves), watching me vacuum and steam the floors and trying to catch the machines haha, playing in the open fridge, playing in the dishwasher (also an area of dislike because he’s not allowed to do this), dancing to music, and just about anything having to do with being outside.

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Hates: Not getting his way. Not being allowed outside. When I close the dishwasher before he can get there (even if he just hears me close it from another room, he will start bawling his eyes out. I usually have to save doing the dishes for during his naps because of this haha). And probably the biggest one…he hates sitting still. If he’s awake, we wants to move. Which is part of the reason why I think he hates meal time so much…he just doesn’t have the patience for sitting down and doesn’t care about food enough to make it worthwhile. (He also hated when Charlie tried to share his car seat hahahah)

IMG_0715Things I want to remember: Our high-pitched screaming contests, your open mouth kisses which you give out sometimes when I (or Daddy or Aunt Chuck) ask for them, the way you run/stumble the last few steps to me and fall into my arms with the biggest smile, the way you take my hand and lead me around the house, that face you make when you don’t want anymore of something (nose all scrunchy, lips puckered), the way you play with washcloths in the bathtub (placing them just so in the corner, admiring your work, and then picking them back up again and starting over), how you started trying to balance things this month (carefully setting an item on top of something else and slooooowly lifting your chubby little hands off of it to make sure it stays put), the way you crawl or walk away as fast as you can after baths so you don’t have to get dressed, how you gently lay your head on my shoulder and smile shyly at people who come up to talk to you, how you absentmindedly play with my fingers or ring while I’m holding you, the way you veeerrryyy carefully duck your head and crawl nice and slow under the kitchen chairs, the way you used to speed crawl around with your head down and a look of determination on your face, how Charlie and I literally run down the hall when we hear you wake up from your naps every day, and how adorable you look when you squat down with that big old diaper booty to play with a toy on the floor. You are just so so cute, Jameson.

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I have a picture just like this one with my dad. 🙂

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Coldstone run in pjs.

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Snacking on bubbles.
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“Help. She never stops hugging me.”

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My baby ❤
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Uncle Colby!

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“Helping” with the laundry. Aka taking all the wet clothes out of the dryer.

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Got this giant ball, guys. No big deal.

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Silly boy 🙂

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Fell asleep eating breakfast this morning hahah.
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“Catch me!”
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Screaming competition.
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That squat I love so much.

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Happy eleven months, my very best Squish. ❤ Next month will be a whole year spent with you…the best, most fulfilling, most wonderful wonderful wonderful year of my life. I don’t have the words to tell you how much I’ve loved these eleven perfect months with you. I love you forever and ever and ever baby boy.

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Abroad, Life with Jameson

CA 2016 // Laguna, Disneyland, + California Adventure

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We just got back from our five day stay in California and I couldn’t wait to write up a summary of our vacation! Partly because I don’t want to forget anything, and partly because I just have a deep love for these pictures and wanted to share them as soon as possible.

I took Jameson by myself to Georgia a few months ago to meet some relatives on my dad’s side, but this trip to California was our first official vacation as a whole family. And it was amazing. Seriously, it went so smoothly and Jameson was a perfect angel the entire time. In fact, he got compliments from strangers for being such a well-behaved and happy baby everywhere we went. He made friends everywhere and we had an absolute blast! I don’t even know what my favorite part was.

The whole trip was arranged by Alex’s company as a fun getaway for many of the employees…but we really had the freedom to plan whatever we wanted to do in the time we were there. We actually went a few days early with Alex’s parents (his mom also works for the company) just to give us time to do everything we wanted, and it was perfect.

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We left on a Wednesday and took a short flight to California (Jameson slept the entire time, bless his angel baby heart) and spent the afternoon settling into our room at The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna, which was absolutely goooorgeous. The ocean was literally just a short walk down a path from the hotel…you could see it and hear it and smell it and feel the breeze through open windows all over the resort. So lovely.

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It was a long day of traveling.

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That first evening at sunset, Alex and I took Jameson down to see the ocean for the first time. I was so excited and ridiculously giddy. The ocean is my favorite place in the world to be and I hadn’t been able to see it for several years (Arizona is not really the best place to visit the beach, ya know?). We half-skipped, half-stumbled down the steep path and finally made it to the sand. I scooped Jameson up and together we hurried to the water’s edge. He was absolutely mesmerized. I was too. Something about the ocean makes you feel infinitely small but also infinitely loved by the One who created it. It is the most wonderful feeling. We played in the waves until the sun was almost all the way down and then went back up to our room to get a good night’s sleep before our big Disney adventure the next day.

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It was HOT at Disneyland. We got there in the morning on Thursday (me, Alex, Jameson, and my in-laws who were a huge help the entire vacation) and we could feel the heat already. It was crowded too, but we still got to do a lot of the things we wanted and we had a blast anyway. Some of my favorite moments were meeting Mickey Mouse in his house in Toon Town (Jameson was obsessed. He even kissed Mickey on the nose! And actually all of Toon Town was great…so many fun things there for little kids), going on a few rides with Jameson (his first ride ever was Small World with me and Alex, which he loved, but we also went on the Winnie the Pooh ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, and King Arthur’s Carousel and he loved those too), watching the Paint the Night Parade (sooo amazing! Definitely a must-see!), and playing in the Star Wars Exhibit (odd, but Jameson had so much fun toddling around and exploring all the Star Wars stuff haha).

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That evening as the sun was setting, we walked around Downtown Disney (which Alex says was one of his favorite parts). It was so much cooler without the sun beating down on us, there was live music, and we got plenty of shopping done. 😉 I love all the shops in Downtown Disney (especially the big old World of Disney store and the Lego Store) and it all feels so magical even though you’re not actually in the parks anymore.

IMG_0625IMG_0621IMG_0624IMG_0627IMG_0630IMG_0631IMG_0632Saturday was kind of a chill day for the most part. We went to breakfast with Alex’s parents in the morning, Jameson took a good long nap when we got back to our room (we had to wake him up after the second hour!), and then we spent awhile on the beach. Jameson had the time of his life throwing sand around, walking all over and sticking his toes in the water, and splashing in the waves with me and Alex.

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DSC_8288DSC_8292DSC_8294DSC_8299DSC_8301DSC_8305DSC_8307DSC_8315DSC_8329DSC_8330After we got all cleaned up, we headed to a cocktail party hosted by Alex’s company on a patio overlooking the sea (the only work event we had to attend). It was gorgeous and the food was delicious! Plus, Alex’s uncle Andy (along with his girlfriend, Nina) drove over two hours just to spend a little time with us and finally meet Jameson. It was so nice to see them and introduce them to our sweet boy.

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After the cocktail party, we all (except Alex’s dad, who stayed behind to hang out with Andy) took a bus down to the docks where we boarded a boat that took us about 6 miles out into the ocean for a whale & dolphin watching tour. We got to see a giant pod of dolphins and one really cool humpback whale, but near the end of the tour poor Jameson got sea sick. 😦 He woke up from a nap about halfway through the boat ride and was acting kind of strange, but we thought maybe he was just sleepy still…it never even crossed my mind that he could be sea sick! He loves being tossed around and he loved all the rides at Disney, but I guess being on a boat is different. Plus he’d been snacking on random food with us all evening so maybe something just didn’t sit right. Either way, it was his first time ever throwing up for real and I felt absolutely horrible. We took him onto the steadiest part of the boat we could find and I just held him and sang quietly in his ear until we got back to the docks. Thankfully by the time we got on the bus to take us back to the hotel, he was back to his normal happy self. He even started greeting people in the lobby, waving and chatting and showing off his favorite shovel! What a ham.

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Sunday was really just a travel day. We enjoyed a quiet breakfast out on the hotel patio with the foggy ocean as our view and then packed everything up and headed to the airport. Jameson once again slept for the entire flight (seriously, this kid is a dream) and we made it home safe and sound!IMG_0674IMG_0676

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Last glimpse of the ocean before heading out.

I think what I loved the most about this trip was seeing the world through Jameson’s eyes. Being a parent gives you the chance to enjoy things you’ve done a thousand times before in completely new ways. It is such a gift! I think I actually spent most of the vacation just watching Jameson’s face to see how he’d react to everything around him. And with every bit of joy and wonder and excitement he felt…I felt it too.

Honestly, this vacation was so much more than I could have asked for. I loved getting to share it all with some of my favorite people and I loved spending so much time with my two boys. Showing Jameson the ocean and all the magic of Disneyland and watching his face light up over and over again was truly something I’ll cherish forever. I can’t wait to bring him back in a few years and see how excited he gets to experience it all again!

** One more thing I’ll mention… If you’re traveling to Disneyland with an infant, definitely check out the Baby Care Centers! They have one in Disneyland and one in California Adventure and you can find them easily on the Disneyland app. They’re quiet and air-conditioned and they have the cutest little old ladies there to help you out (at least they were there every time I went inside). There’s places to change your baby, high chairs for feeding your baby, small areas for your little one to crawl or walk around for a bit, and my favorite part was the rooms they have for nursing your baby (or for pumping). The room was darkened and secluded and was filled with these comfy wicker chairs for you to sit in. Perfect for if you need a break from all the hustle and bustle out in the park.

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A Day With Jameson, Life with Jameson

A Day With Jameson – 7.19.16

A few years ago I came across a series of photos on Pinterest of a little boy named Grant. The series was called “Life with Grant” and the photos were simple, everyday moments captured beautifully by his mother. Completely natural and unposed. It stuck with me all these years, and today I want to share with you my own version of that series – “A Day With Jameson.” I’m hoping to make this into a somewhat regular series (maybe once every few months) because I think it will be fun to look back and see how our days together have changed. But, maybe more importantly, because I think it’s important to take notice of the pure and beautiful moments that happen on even the most mundane days. This project forced me to slow down and intentionally find beauty in a typical Tuesday at home – something I may have missed out on otherwise. I was reminded again that some of the sweetest moments I share with my son are the ones that happen every day. And maybe that’s part of what makes them so sweet.

Without further ado… A Day With Jameson.

Morning.

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Lunch.

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Playtime.

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Reading.

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Dinner prep.

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Let’s play outside!

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Outfit change.

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Boycotting afternoon nap.

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Late afternoon feat. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

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Daddy’s home!

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Early evening hangs.

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Catnap.

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Baby jail while parents do yard work.

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Monsoon is brewing.

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Bathtime.

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Just before bed.

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Life with Jameson, Personal Writing

The call to motherhood

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In the Spring of 2014 I held my breath and opened an email from Arizona State University. This was it, everything I had been working towards since my freshman year of high school when I decided, quite definitively for a fourteen year old, to pursue a career in Speech Pathology. It all came down to this one email. Heart racing, hands shaking, my eyes skimmed quickly through the salutation and anchored breathlessly on one word: “Congratulations!” Air whooshed out of my lungs. I was in. I was accepted into the Masters Program at my alma mater, one of the best schools in the nation for Speech Pathology.

I’m a Type-A planner and at that point in my life, things were chugging very merrily along on my plan for, well, everything. I was graduating in several months, getting married to the love of my life several weeks later, spending the summer doing this and that while trying my hand at being a stay-at-home wifey, and then diving headfirst that Fall into a phenomenal graduate program in the field I loved. I felt sure of myself, of my path, of where I was heading. Grad school. Then my Clinical Fellowship year. Then I’d work full-time for two years and pay off some loans. Wouldn’t even think about kids until I was at least 27. Focus, focus.

Then a funny thing happened that summer. Without school or work to distract me, I slowed down for the first time in my life and really thought about what I wanted, about what I was feeling called to do for the Lord. And I was pretty sure it wasn’t Speech Pathology.

You see, I had bought into the tragic idea of our culture that parenthood (particularly stay-at-home motherhood) is not as honorable a profession as a high-income, prestigious career. And I’ll admit it, I wanted that prestige. Of course this is not to say that there aren’t honorable, God-glorifying professions apart from parenthood; I just mean that in my life, I wanted the honor and the glory for all the wrong reasons. I wanted it for myself.

I spent that summer in turmoil, desperate to cling to my educational and professional plans but painfully aware that my heart was (seemingly out of nowhere) longing for a ministry in motherhood. I flipped and flopped and wrestled with my pride. I was afraid; afraid of being seen as a “quitter,” afraid of throwing away everything I’d worked so hard for, afraid of making a colossal mistake. But then again, I was also afraid of sinking $50,000+ in loans for a degree I wouldn’t even want to use for many, many years to come (if ever).

I ended up going to grad school for one semester and it drained me in every sense of the word…emotionally, mentally, physically, even spiritually. I gave it my all that whole semester; just ask my husband – we barely saw each other during that time, the first months of our marriage that we’ll never get back. But no matter how hard I tried to love this so-called passion of mine, it all began to feel pointless to me (someone who, up until that point, had placed almost all of my value in my educational and career goals). Such a drastic change could only be because God was changing my heart and softening me for something else.

By the end of the semester, I knew I couldn’t go back. I knew the desire of my heart was not Speech Pathology but to serve the Lord in motherhood, to care for the souls He might place in my protection and to do my best to faithfully raise them up in His name. It was a huge step of faith for me (and I didn’t handle it as gracefully as I wish I had), but Jesus was so gracious to me and so tender with my heart. The day before I would have had to go back to school I took a pregnancy test…and it was positive. I gave up my spot in the graduate program that afternoon and never looked back.

My life is much different today than I ever planned for it to be. But that’s just how God works (“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9). Recently I started reading Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. (highly recommended!) and he so perfectly and eloquently described what has been on my heart since I first started feeling my priorities shift to motherhood two years ago…

“God has a purpose that is larger than you – God has a plan that includes you – God has a place that suits you … The point, of course, is that not every person is called to the same type or place of ministry … Each of [us] has a place of ministry that suits [us] to a T and finding that place should be the passionate pursuit of [our] lives.”

That passionate pursuit for me is, and always will be, my children and my role in God’s kingdom as their mother. It took a lot of frustrating confusion, a lot of fear, a lot of stripping away my pride. But God knew where I would fit perfectly for ministry and He made sure I dedicated my life to the right pursuit. It might not be as glamorous or prestigious as a high-income career… but the work I do matters because it matters to the Lord.

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Jameson Monthly, Life with Jameson

Ten months of Jameson

Ten months is so much fun! I thought I would be more emotional as we get closer and closer to Jameson’s first birthday, but I’m honestly just loving every new stage. Each month is better than the last and I love seeing Jameson learn and experience new things. Alex says this is his favorite stage so far (this and the newborn stage) and I totally agree. There are so many wonderful things about life with Jameson at ten months!

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Weight & Length: No well visit until his 1 year appointment (crazy, I feel like we were just bringing our squirmy little two-day-old to his very first appointment) so I don’t know his percentile rankings or height, but I weighed him myself and he’s about 21 lbs, which is two more than he was last month!

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Clothing: Still in mostly the 12 month size, although some of his shorts and pants need to be bigger to fit those chunky thighs. Diapers are still size 4 and I’m guessing he’ll be in those for awhile.

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One of my favorites that he fits in right now, from his Aunt Catherine. 🙂

Hair & Eyes: His hair is still a mix of colors and still adorably curly in the back. I can’t get enough of those curls! I especially love when he wakes up from a good nap and his curls are extra fuzzy and pointing every which way. So cute! His eyes are still that deep olive green and he’s got the best eyelashes ever.

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Sleep: Scheduling has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for us. Jameson is doing so well with napping! He gets up around 6:30am, takes one morning nap and one afternoon nap (usually around the same time every day, unless he wakes up extra early or extra late), and then is ready for bed by 8pm. He’s still waking up at like 5 every morning (at which point Alex brings him into our bed) and I keep telling myself we’ll work on it…but I just love the cuddles every morning too much! I can’t do it yet haha. Maybe next month. But probably not. 🙂

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Eating: We’re still nursing pretty consistently but he eats big boy food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. His favorites right now are Cheerios, yogurt, waffles, all kinds of bread, those fruit and veggie squeezies by Beechnut, Puffs, chicken nuggets, pretty much any fruit, pizza (yup), and…ice cream/cookies/anything dessert-related haha. We’ve only given him a few tastes of certain things, but homeboy already has a major sweet tooth. A boy after my own heart!

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“BRING ME MORE WATERMELON!”
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Holding hands and eating nuggets.
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Murdered some blueberries.

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Milestones: He’s got three teeth (two on the bottom, one on the top) with the other top tooth about to break through. We got him his first toothbrush and baby toothpaste (no fluoride so it’s safe to swallow) and we practice brushing every day. He learned how to drink from a straw this month, and he can stand alone for long periods of time now. He can even hold toys and play while standing without support! Plus he learned how to stand up straight from the floor (doesn’t need to hold onto anything to get up anymore). And the big one this month…he took his first steps!!! His first unassisted step was on June 22nd (my niece’s birthday), he took another one a few days later, and then on June 29th he took three steps in a row towards my best friend. 🙂 Such a sweet moment! Ever since then he’s been taking one or two steps here and there and one night he walked five steps in a row, but mostly he still prefers the tried and true crawling. He’s fast and he knows it. 😉

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Looking like such a big boy in his first pair of sneakers!

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Look closely for the teeth!

Communication: One of his favorite games these days is getting people to copy him! He’ll make a noise, wait to see if you’ll imitate him, and then keep going back and forth as long as you’ll play. His favorite noise to try and get you to copy is a fake cough hahah. Such a ham! He loves to babble all the time and tries to imitate patterns that I do (like “eh eh eh” after I say “yay yay yay,” or “ah ah” for “uh oh”). My favorite “word” he says usually happens when he’s playing by himself…he’ll just go, “DAT!” in a high squeaky voice (with an emphasis on the “t” sound) over and over again. So cute! He also got really good at clapping this month and uses that to show you he’s happy or to see if you’ll clap along with him.

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The fake cough.

(Saying “ba ba ba”)

Loves: Reading, swimming, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and anything having to do with Mickey, opening and closing things (especially cabinets and doors), when I sing him songs (favorites are “A Bushel and a Peck,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”), playing with everything inside the kitchen cabinets (especially the strainers, mixing bowls, and pots/pans), sliding stuff along the floor, anything with wheels (like his new Hot Wheels car), destroying paper, chasing Charlie around, playing in his kiddie pool, hangin’ with cousin Madelyn and really his whole immediate family, girls with blonde hair (lol. don’t know why, but it’s almost always true.), my best friend Brittany, reading books (still especially “Llama Llama Red Pajama” but now also “A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”), having people over our house to play, piggyback rides, hide-and-go-seek (really just me hiding and calling his name and him coming to find me), and of course being around his mommy and daddy. 🙂

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Reading “Llama Llama Red Pajama” with his actual Llama

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Photo by Denise Sotebeer

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Hates: When I close the dishwasher before he can get there to touch all the dirty dishes, not being allowed to play in Charlie’s water bowl and splash it all over his face, having to come inside (or not being allowed outside), basically getting anything he wanted taken away from him, and when I walk out of a room without picking him up and bringing him with me (this is mostly cute, though).

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Oh so sad because we came inside instead of playing in the 110 degree heat.

Things I want to remember: How cute you look when you stand with your little chubby legs kind of squatted, the scrunched up face you make when you’re all done eating and I’ve tried to give you another bite, how excited you get about new things and how you still do that thing where you start breathing really loud and fast with your mouth and eyes wide open, the way you eat your fruit and veggie squeezies like a big boy, the way you come a-runnin’ whenever you hear or see food being eaten, how you sit up on your knees and reach your arms up to tell me you want to be held, how you like to hide behind things and then poke your head out to surprise me, the way you try to get me to play and laugh with you (like tackling my back and then looking to see if I’m smiling), how quiet and thoughtful you get during our reading time, how you lay on your belly and peek under the couches/bed/dresser, all the funny places I’ve found you (under the bed, in the cabinets, behind the door, etc.), how curious you are to see how things work, and how much you love love love me and your daddy.

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“Can I help you, Mommy?”
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“MOM, I said I was all done eating!!!”

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Happy Father’s Day!
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer

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Grabbed the cream cheese from the fridge.

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Bonked his head on the way out from under the bed haha.

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First thing he’s put in the toilet. Oye.

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