Valentine’s Day is over and gone, but these little treats can be made all year long! (If you end an argument with a rhyme, it’s convincing all the time. I learned that from “How I Met Your Mother.”)
Anywho! I brought these mini heart-shaped pies to a ladies Valentine’s event for my church and the girls all flipped for them! They were gone almost right away. I had to make another batch later that week so I’d have more to share with my family. Wrap them up in a cute little bag, tie it with a string, and you’ve got the perfect Valentine’s gift!
With a sweet jam center, golden flaky crust, and the cutest little heart shape, these babies are sure to make all your friends and family smile. Or, you know, make you smile as you eat an entire batch on your own. (I definitely didn’t do that. Or did I…….)
The best part is… they’re so super easy to make!!! I am no baker extraordinaire but I pulled these off, no problem. I promise you can too! (And let me know if you do, I would love to hear how much you love them too! Look at that, more rhyming.)
Mini Heart Pies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes
One box of pie crusts (or homemade if you’re fancy. I’m not.)
Your favorite jam. (I used the Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserve for one batch and the Bonne Maman Peach/Mango Preserve for the other batch.)
Egg wash & a sprinkle of sugar
Heart shaped cookie cutter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out your dough and cut out the hearts. (One pie crust yielded 10 total mini pies for me.)
Place a small amount of jam in the center of half of the hearts.
Gently brush a little bit of the egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water) around the edges of the jam. This will help the two crusts seal together.
Use the remaining hearts as the top crust. Place each one directly on top of the jam hearts and crimp the edges with a fork.
Brush more of the egg wash on top of each mini pie. Add a sprinkle of sugar on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
** Credit for the idea goes to Kristen Mittler (@oldjoy on Instagram) who shared a similar treat on her profile.**
Aaaand this post wouldn’t be complete without a few personal photos from our Valentine’s Day!
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!
Ever since we bought our first house a few months ago I’ve been itching to start a little patio garden out back. It’s been a sort of dream of mine for awhile to grow fresh produce for my family…for health reasons, for teaching purposes (homeschool curriculum down the road?!), and just for the fun of it! I wanted to start while Jameson was young to make sure I got a handle on how things are done by the time he’s old enough to learn about it. And since Arizona has two growing seasons (spring and fall), October was the perfect time to get started.
We have this big old slab of concrete off the patio where the previous home owners had a hot tub, and it’s the perfect little corner for a raised vegetable garden. Good sun exposure, close to a water supply, and empty/ugly enough to need a little spruce up. (Eventually I’d like to add flowers and wall vines and other pretty things like that, but maybe in the spring.)
When I brought the idea of a raised garden bed to Alex, he had two criteria:
#1. It had to be easy to put together. And…
#2. It had to be relatively cheap.
(But not in that order. Ah, my sweet penny-pinching hubby. ❤ I love him so.)
Anyway, challenge accepted. We originally planned to build it completely out of wood, but why do things the easy way when you can find an even easier way? Laziness, my friends. This plan stemmed from laziness. When all was said and done, our raised garden bed was made entirely without the use of any sort of tool.
And it only cost us about $67.
This is way cheaper than any DIY raised garden bed kit you can find at the store. (The closest I could find was $88 and it wasn’t even as wide or as deep as I wanted mine to be). Following this method allows you to get creative with the size and even the shape of your raised garden bed without costing you a fortune. Plus it looks super cute! Sort of a mix between farmhouse style and urban industrial, which I really like.
We got all our supplies at the good ol’ Home Depot. Probably the only time in the history of our marriage that we went in and came out with everything we needed and avoided an angry whisper argument in the middle of one of the aisles due to our confusion and/or our inability to make quick decisions. (We’re really not the home improvement types.)
The supply list for this do-it-yourself project is very short. Our garden bed is 3 feet wide by 6 feet long, with a depth of 1 foot. In total, all we needed were six pieces of redwood (2in x 6in x 6ft each, four of them being full length and two cut in half) and eight planter wall blocks (two for each corner, stacked on top of each other).
After we decided how large we wanted our garden bed to be, the rest was easy. We chose redwood for our lumber because of its resistance to rot and warping ($8.27 per board, but there are even cheaper versions if you’d like). We had a guy at Home Depot cut two of the six foot boards in half, we grabbed two more full-length six foot boards as well as the eight cement blocks ($2.87 each), and we took it all home.
We stacked two cement blocks for each corner of the garden bed (making it about a foot deep), used a little heavy duty glue to keep them solid, and slid two boards in the grooves on each side. Tada! All done!
The most challenging and most expensive part of this project really came after everything was built. We invested in some good, organic soil (in addition to some soil amenities) to make sure we’d have rich, healthy crops. This is where things can get pricey. But that’s for another post. 🙂
This project was really so easy and so much fun. And we already have cute little sprouts popping up all over the veggie garden! Jameson loves to look at all the plants and even give them kisses, and I’m so excited for our first harvest!
Good luck to anyone planning to give urban gardening a try! Trust me, if Alex and I (two of the least handy people on the planet) could get this project rolling…you most certainly can too. 🙂
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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! ❤
Ohhh my friends. Is your skin getting super dry this winter? Are you looking for a great homemade gift for the holidays? Do you need a snack while you shower? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your search ends here. I present to you the simplest, most moisturizing, most delectable homemade body scrub on the inter webs.
Only three ingredients and ready in five minutes. This stuff is about to blow. your. mind. (And your taste buds, oh man it tastes just like a cookie.) You might already have all the ingredients just chillin’ in your pantry, waiting to be combined into pure magic.
I don’t know about you, but I love body scrubs. I love how they exfoliate, I love how they moisturize, I love how they smell. But I really can’t justify spending $25+ on one little tub. It’s over too quickly and then I have to shell out more money for another one. This handy sugar scrub recipe, however, takes care of that problem. It’s quick, easy, and made from all natural ingredients…so natural that you can literally have a quick taste while you’re using it. (Or two tastes. Or three.) Yum! That’s my kind of body scrub. 🙂 Homemade beauty products for the win.
Stick it in a cute mason jar ($8 for 12 at Target), add some ribbon and a cute tag (or make one out of cardstock paper and fancy tape like I did), and you’ve got yourself a great holiday gift for your friends and family. Yippee! (Speaking of which, if you’re reading this and we’re friends in real life…act surprised when you get your scrub for Christmas.)
Brown Sugar Body Scrub
Yield: fills one 8oz mason jar
Total time: 5 minutes
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (soft but solid)
Splash of vanilla extract
Optional add-ins: cinnamon, a little honey, essential oils, vitamin E oil, etc.
Soften coconut oil in microwave for a few seconds, if necessary.
Add all ingredients into a standing mixer, food processor, or mixing bowl.
Whisk together on medium-high speed for a minute or two until the coconut oil begins to break down and mixture resembles creamy cookie dough.
Place in mason jar and make it look pretty. 🙂
Note: If you mix it for too long, the coconut oil will start to melt and your scrub will be almost liquid. No worries, though, just put it in the fridge or freezer for a few, wait for it to solidify, and whip it up again.
Store your scrub at room temperature. I keep mine in the shower and so far our bathroom has stayed cool enough for the scrub to remain in its creamy/solid state. Over time, though, it may melt down and become runny because of the steam in the shower. Again, just pop it in the fridge for a bit until it returns to the consistency you prefer.
Okay get ready. If you’re a fan of baked oatmeal (or oatmeal in any capacity) you MUST stop what you’re doing and try this recipe right now. No I’m serious, RIGHT NOW. (By the way, I’ve never posted a recipe on my blog before and I’m really not much of a chef, so that should tell you just how yummy and simple this dish really is.)
I’ve been on a major baked oatmeal kick as of late. There are so many tasty versions floating around out there (like, a ton) but fear not! I tried a bunch of them over and over to bring you the best (it was a huge sacrifice, but I did it all for you). I took what I loved about each recipe, added my own ideas, and tada! This is my favorite recipe by far; sweet sugar and spicy cinnamon come together for the tastiest combination. Legit the most comforting comfort food you could make and perfect for cold, wintry mornings (or, you know, 80 degree afternoons like we’re currently having in Phoenix).
It’s so easy to make and reheats really well, which means breakfast is quick and delicious every morning. Even Jameson, the pickiest little eater ever, gobbles it up. And it’s freezable! Just cut it up into square portions and you’ve got meals for days. But the best part? Cheap. This probably costs $5 at the most.
Sugar and Spice Baked Oatmeal
Yield: 8 servings (9 x 13 inch pan)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
3 cups rolled oats (quick-cooking oats work too)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a standing mixer (or mixing bowl) whisk together all ingredients.
Pour into prepped baking dish and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until oatmeal is set in the middle.
Serve and enjoy! (Oh I’m so excited for you to taste it.)
Optional: Serve with milk or cream, yogurt, fresh fruit, a sprinkle of cinnamon, whatever tastes right!
Freezer instructions: Portion into squares and store in individual plastic baggies. Thaw in microwave on low power for about a minute, add a splash of milk, and then microwave on regular power for another minute.
What are you waiting for?! Please give this a try! And then let me know how much you love it. 🙂
Wow, okay. This post is super late. It’s November and I’m blogging about Halloween. Stuff came up, things got busy, I was needed for a top secret mission. But I really do like documenting all the major holidays for future me to look back on, so here I am…blogging about Halloween in November. Hope you don’t mind.
Halloween isn’t really a big thing for us. Never really has been, especially for me (I’d actually never even trick-or-treated until this year). But something about dressing a baby in an adorable costume is just too fun to pass up! So we made it a thing this year.
It was a Monday, our day for playgroup, so all the mamas decided to bring the kids in costume for a little photo shoot. Oh it was so cute! These are some of my favorites. ❤
Alex and I chose a monkey costume for Jameson this year just because he knows what sound a monkey makes (“ah ah!” he says) and we knew it would be hilarious to see him walking around trying to sound like a monkey all day. It was. 🙂 I wanted to dress up with Alex as something along the monkey-theme, but we didn’t want to spend any money because…what a waste. So we ended up just pulling stuff out of our closet and borrowing a couple of hats from Alex’s parents and dressing up as safari explorers.
All in all, our family costumes ended up being very ambiguous haha. Jameson’s costume was kind of poorly made so the headpiece made him look like a bear rather than a monkey, and Alex and I kind of looked like zoo keepers instead of explorers. But whatever, it all kind of worked anyway.
Our friends from church hosted a dinner and trick-or-treating party that evening and a bunch of people ended up going. We all ate together, walked the kids around the neighborhood to get some candy (I still feel like this tradition is super weird and awkward), and then sat around the fire and passed out more candy/ate that candy. As I said, this was my first year ever going trick-or-treating. But we actually didn’t even get candy because I think it’s weird for adults to have their babies collect candy when everyone know that the baby isn’t going to be the one eating that candy lol. I just felt shady about the whole thing. I think it’s fine when you have older kids too, but I would feel like a total fraud walking up to a stranger and being like, “This is my baby. Yeah uhh…he says he wants your candy.” So we mostly just went to walk around with our friends who have older kids.
We had a great time anyway. 🙂 Even though we don’t really “celebrate” Halloween, it’s still a great excuse to get together with friends and eat a bunch of sweets. So I approve.
By the way, here’s my sister and her adorable family as Mike Wazowski, Sulley, and Boo. All hand-made!
Monday nights are family nights for us. Alex gets home for work, we pack up Jameson and the Charlie woof, and we head over to my parents’ house for dinner and dessert (right now my mom has these really yummy sugar cookies from Costco at her house, which have this weird power over me like for real I eat them until I feel sick). My sister, her husband, and my niece meet us there and we all eat together, let the babes play, and watch The Voice exactly at 7pm (sometimes a minute or two later if we’re all fighting about who has to find the remote to turn on the TV).
This past Monday night, though, we did something a little different. It’s FINALLY kind of sort of Fall-ish in Arizona (not really, but we’re pretending) and Monday was a really nice cloudy evening. So, we all (minus my dad) met at Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert. Last year we took the babies to Schnepf Farms, which is the cutest place, but it’s really more of an all-day thing and right now the days are just too hot for it to even be fun. Maybe in a few weeks.
For now, this little farm was perfect for the toddlers. We got to take them on their first hay ride, feed the animals, and pick out pumpkins. Such a fun time!
Jameson’s favorite part was definitely the pumpkin patch; he was beside himself with joy! I’m preeeetty sure he thought it was just a giant field of orange balls, which is basically his dream come true.
I’m praying we get some cooler weather up in this oven of a state very soon. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are flooded with gorgeous autumn photos featuring cozy sweaters, colorful leaves, hot tea, and cloudy days. And I’m over here like, Jameson and I played in the sprinklers today. Ugh. It’ll happen soon, I just need to be patient.
If you live in a state where it’s actually Fall, please enjoy a pumpkin spice latte for me and fill your lungs up with that crisp autumn air. And know that I am jealous of you.
It’s been a hot second since I’ve written something for my blog. I’ve been in sort of a writing slump the past few weeks, honestly. I have all these ideas of things I want to write about but then Jameson goes down for a nap and I have to choose between writing for my blog or doing some necessary housework or just SITTING for a second. Sitting usually wins.
BUT I really want to write about this, my first year of parenting. I want to document what God has taught me and I want it to hopefully be of some help to other new mommies who are currently in the thick of it. It’s been so good for me to meditate on the things I’ve learned in this year…to see what has been useful and to know what I’ll do differently if we’re ever blessed with another baby.
So here we are. Year one is complete. My sweet, snugly, wild, adventurous, wonderful baby boy is officially a toddler and he’s heading bright-eyed and bushy-tailed into his second year of life. This first year has challenged and changed me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. It has been painful at times, exhausting and confusing, stressful and exciting, so much fun, and so fulfilling. There’s nothing I’ve found in this world (apart from the salvation I have in Christ) that I love or cherish as much as motherhood.
And this is what I have learned…
Nothing lasts forever. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that every hard thing you face in the first year (and beyond) is just a phase. Your baby will grow out of all those things that seem endless right now. But that also means that your baby will also grow out of your favorite things, too. Like those sleepy newborn yawns and stretches, the inchworm crawling, even the toddling around like a drunk sailor. All of it will pass you by eventually. Each new stage brings with it some hard things, but many many more wonderful things. Have fun with the good, wait out the bad.
You know your baby best. Take all advice you get with a grain of salt. Some of it will be extremely wise and useful, some of it will be total crap (well-meaning crap, but crap all the same). Sift through it with your husband, on your own, with your Biblical lens on. You know what will work for you and for your child and it doesn’t have to match exactly what anyone else recommends.
Don’t stress the scheduling thing. “Get on a schedule, get on a schedule, get on a schedule…if you want to live.” I actually heard this advice when I was pregnant! Yes, scheduling will save your sanity down the road…but you don’t have to force it. I tried sleep training Jameson WAY too early and he just wasn’t ready. All it did was stress me out and make me feel like a failure because I couldn’t figure out how to get my baby to sleep at regular intervals throughout the day. I was angry all the time because I felt like Jameson wasn’t doing what he was “supposed to be doing” until one day I said ENOUGH! And let him sleep how and when he wanted to. Eventually we got into a routine and now he’s very scheduled, but I could have saved us both a whole lot of anxiety in those early days if I had taken a breath and focused on enjoying our time together, rather than how I was going to get him to take a “good” nap at the “right time.”
Take a shower every day. Really, just do it. Even if you think you don’t have time. Even if you don’t trust anyone (not even your husband, lol sorry Alex) to take care of your infant. Hand someone that baby and take a shower. It’ll make you feel human again. Sometimes ten minutes (all by yourself!) is all you need to recharge.
Don’t feel guilty about not enjoying everything. One of the most common pieces of advice I’ve received this year is the ever so well-meaning, “Enjoy every moment! Even the hard ones!” Well, I’m telling you right now…no mother enjoys every single moment. I certainly didn’t enjoy spending the night trying to get my three month old to stay asleep for more than 40 minutes straight at a time (YEAH, GOOD TIMES!!!). It can be so hard when people tell you that it “goes by so fast” and to “soak it all in” when it’s all you can do to not drown in a sea of spit up and restless sleep. Feeling frustrated or overwhelmed does not mean you aren’t thankful for motherhood or that you don’t love your child. It means that you’re feeling very real things that every mother feels. God can (and does) fortify you in your weakness. He is your refuge and your strength, and he is a very present help in your times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Find reasons to get out of the house a few times a week. For me, actually, more like at least once a day haha. I go a little nuts if I don’t. And it doesn’t have to cost money! Jameson and I have been known to hit up the garden center of Home Depot just to look at the flowers from time to time. The library is always a hit, too. Go on a walk or to the park or have a play date with some friends. It doesn’t matter, just get your booties out of the house. It can be hard at first, especially if your baby hates his car seat as much as Jameson used to hate his. But once you feel more comfortable, even just a half hour outside can change your whole day. I promise it’s worth it! It breaks up the monotony of your day and keeps you both from going stir crazy.
Join a playgroup. This is along the same lines as number 6, but I feel it’s important. I only recently learned this but I wish I had sooner! Playgroups are an awesome opportunity for you to connect with other moms going through the same things, get advice, share stories, teach your kids about sharing and playing nice, and basically just get the chance to see that you’re not alone. Your library will probably have playgroups already scheduled for your child’s age range, which can be a great jumping off point. Or just start your own! My sister and I started meeting up with a few moms from our church and it’s already been such a blessing. Find your people. Join a playgroup.
Put the camera down every so often. This is something I’m still learning and still working on. Taking pictures is so easy these days. Our phones come programmed with really nice cameras and they’re pretty much always with us. I’m tempted every day to try and document as much as I can. Jameson will do something cute and my very first instinct is to grab my phone and take a picture or video. But I don’t want it to be that way! I don’t want my teenage kids to someday come up to me asking for stories of their childhoods and me being like, “Hold on let me pull up my dusty old Instagram account.” No! I want real stories that I remember because I was fully present, no camera between my child and me. So even though I feel this pressure to capture every single adorable thing my baby does, sometimes I force myself not to. Sometimes it’s better to make a memory and keep it just for yourself.
Make your marriage a priority. I’m writing this mostly as a reminder to myself. When all is said and done, when the kids are grown up and leading their own lives, it’ll be you and your spouse. It will always be you and your spouse. Your marriage should come even before your relationship with your kids. I know that sounds weird to say, especially in our culture, but it’s a lesson we need to learn if we want to be a good example for our children. I don’t mean neglect your kids and run off to spend tons of alone time with your husband, but carving out intentional time to be together (however that looks for you two) must be a priority. Your marriage should be “the foundation upon which all other aspects of family life [are] built” (Voddie Baucham Jr., Family Driven Faith). Discipline, discipleship, counseling, advice, every choice you make for your kids…it should all stem from the two of you working together as one for your family.
Spend time praying over your child. I don’t just mean those moments throughout the day where you’re like, “Lord, give me strength right now because I’m about to LOSE MY MIND.” (Although that’s good, too.) I mean setting aside some time each day to pray thoughtfully and specifically for your child. I started making this more of a priority a few months ago and it has changed how I deal with difficulties in parenting so much. I chose a specific time of day (happens to be right after I put Jameson down for bed) and I just spend a few minutes every night in prayer over him. Sometimes I just thank God for a wonderful day with Jameson. Sometimes I pray for his future wife. Sometimes I’m on my knees next to his crib begging for forgiveness for all my shortcomings of the day, asking God to show me how to parent him better and lead him to Christ. Ever since I started doing this, I’ve found that I’m much more likely to turn to prayer during the day when we hit rough patches and it has been so good for both of us.
Change your attitudes and actions first. This is probably one of the most important things God has taught me this year. You cannot parent well (at least not in the Biblical sense) if you’re too busy dealing with anger and frustration inside yourself. When Jameson is going crazy and I start feeling sorry for myself for having to deal with this (or worse, start feeling angry at Jameson for not doing what I want him to do)…I lose all hope of responding to the situation in a Godly, productive way. If, however, I turn to the Lord for help and begin trying to change my areas of sin, it suddenly becomes immensely easier to address the problem with gentleness.
Give more grace. Every breath we take, every time our hearts beat, every moment of every day, we are experiencing God’s grace. He never tires of us even in our darkest, most sinful hour. We should be the same with our children. When they cry through the night, give them grace. When they spill their yogurt on your nice clean floor, give them grace. When they come to you whining and crying with a snotty nose for the 100th time that morning, give them grace.
(And give yourself grace, too. You are doing better than you think you are, and God is on your side.)
Two Saturdays ago we celebrated the Jimmiest Jam turning ONE with some of our wonderful friends and family! I’ve actually been trying to write this post for several days now, but my site has been acting up and it’s been taking forever to get it all finished. But I think we’re good now. 😉
We decided a few months back to host the party here at our new house, something we’ve never been able to do because we were renting tiny apartments for the first couple years of our marriage. I was kind of nervous, but mostly just so excited to plan everything and decorate and welcome everyone into our home. We went with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme because that show (and Mickey Mouse in general) are two of Jameson’s most favorite things. I scoured Pinterest for weeks finding inspiration, pinning decor ideas, and planning out the menu. I ended up making a lot of the decorations myself (saved us some mula) and the rest I bought here and there at Party City, Target, and Walmart in the weeks leading up to the parry. Then the night before, I basically just told Alex to stay out of my way so I could put my OCD to good use and get everything decorated the way I wanted it to be, ha! (Okay he helped blow up some balloons. And cleaned up the yard too.)
We had everyone over on Saturday, September 10th (two days before Jameson’s actual birthday). I think about 30 people were able to come! We wanted to invite more but our house is only so big haha. It ended up being perfect, though! The whole party went so smoothly. Jameson had taken two good naps earlier that day so he was in a fantastic mood (hallelujah!) and did really well even with so many people crowding his space and passing him all around (surprising to me because he tends to get overwhelmed with large groups of people). I think he liked seeing so many of his friends all in one place. 🙂
We all just mingled and chatted, had some dinner (pizza because that’s something Jameson actually likes haha), and then it was time for cake! I’d been stressing about how the song would go because, like I said, Jameson is not one for large crowds or a bunch of people staring at him (especially when they’re loud). But he loved it. 🙂 It might’ve had something to do with the fact that I’d been following him around the house for weeks singing “Happy Birthday” really loudly at him haha. I was trying to get him prepared, okay?! So when everyone started singing to him he was kind of like “What are you all doing” but then he was like “Oh cool, I know this song. Carry on.”
After we got that whole mess cleaned up (I actually ended up sticking Jameson in the bath to rinse all the frosting off ha!) we opened some presents. Jameson wasn’t super into it (I think he ripped off one itty bit of wrapping paper from one gift), so I ended up opening most everything and then showing it to him. He was so excited to see all the new toys! Everyone was so generous and he got some really cool stuff that he’s been playing with every day since.
I think my favorite memory from the party was when everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to my baby. Somehow I knew in that moment that I’d remember it forever, that it would always be so special to me. Our first baby, his first birthday, his first year of life in the world. I never want to forget it.
I also loved watching him eat that cupcake. 😉
We hope you had a wonderful first birthday, Nugget! ❤ You are our greatest blessing. We had SO much fun celebrating you!