Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Project of the Decade

As dad says, the PROJECT OF THE DECADE is finished.  Mom is a gifted seamstress, knitter and cross-stitcher.  She makes birth samplers for all of the babies in the family, including Matt and me when we were born.  Jonathan and I were thinking that we would not want one hanging on our wall and we weren't going to have much shelf space to display one, so I set out to Michael's to find a suitable cross-stitch to work in Jackson's room.  I came across this one, which is a baby blanket with big stitches approximately 4x the size of a typical stitch. Therefore, I thought since the stitches were bigger it just must be the same effort as a typical cross-stitch.  Boy, was I wrong! Mom started working on this while I was pregnant and just finished this week. She labored over this at home, on vacation and in the car.  She even went to great lengths to make sure that none of the stitches went through to the back. Mom said that if she died during this process, she wanted to be buried with this blanket as she felt so attached to it over the last year.

We are so grateful for how she loves Jackson and will treasure this labor of love.

I guess she should get started now on one for our second baby (no plans for #2 yet) her plenty of time :)  Just kidding, mom. We can pick a mini birth sampler for the next one.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Would you be my girlfriend?

Jackson is quite the stud, if I do say so myself. He he happens to be one of the only guys born in the past year, giving him many sweet, funny, cute lady friends to play with. Two of his best buds happen to have amazing moms who haven become great friends over the last year. I am so grateful for Mary and Val and what an encouragement they are to me. Being a mom would be way less fun without them! :)  
J and Ellie at storytime at Larchmont Library 

who needs toys when you have water bottles?

We had a chance to watch Sofi for Val while she did a photo shoot in our neighborhood. Sofi is growing up so much and it's fun to watch the two of them interact with each other instead of just sit next to each other.  Sofi clapped and sang the whole time.  

Curious kiddos

10 months

feel the excitement

Dear Jackson
You are so fun! We can't imagine that we could love you any more than we already do and you continue to amaze us. God has been so good to us and we are thankful for you every day. You are in a constant state of movement, making us all grateful for bed each night. You love to cruise between surfaces, deciding to crawl if the gap is just a tad too big for you to cross safely. We know you are just going to take off walking some day soon but we are really enjoying you in this phase.
You have such a sweet, gentle personality. The other day I had to discipline you for biting me on the arm (with your 6 big teeth) and you were very sad, almost to the point of tears. I hope that you keep that sweet, gentle side and don't become too much of a tough guy!  But speaking of being tough, you just roll with it when you fall, which is quite often as you are such an adventurous little dude.

You love walks, swings, Lincoln, food, blocks, climbing stairs, grabbing dad's neck, playing drums, the ocean, story time and music.

We love you, little man. Keeping being the awesome little guy that you are.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Behold, the power of Cheese

We have a baby who is obsessed with cheese. It started as an easy addition to a meal and a way to provide him with good fats. It has turned into a ridiculous obsession that causes him to refuse veggies and even fruits (besides bananas) and shriek loudly when we don't give him copious amounts of cheese at every meal.  He is cut off from cheese and bananas this week in order to get him back on track with veggies, grains and other non-cheese related products. 

I feel as if I have been very out of touch with life lately, which is probably because we have been in Delaware twice and Hatteras for several days, creating a strange work schedule and more time in the car than at home.  Jackson has been a trooper throughout everything, probably helped by the fact that we got a new carseat that gives him a little more room (even though he is still not happy about the whole rear-facing thing).  He has been fussy for about a week, maybe sick, maybe teething, maybe mad that we are weaning him. Sometimes I wish that he could speak and tell me what he is feeling. Life would be much easier if he could say, "I have a headache", "I am really hungry/thirsty", "I am just having an off day".  We are trying to read his signals but sometimes that proves to be very difficult and we are just left with a baby who is screaming for no apparent reason. I guess we are all entitled to some of those moments :)

We have really enjoyed the month of August, as Jonathan is on an easy rotation.  We just joined the Norfolk zoo and loved getting to see the giraffes up close! 

He loved the doiley-boppers at a friend's house
Bath time with Grandmom

When we traveled to Buxton a few years ago for vacation, we were told that we had to to go the Orange Blossom Cafe, almost directly across from our hotel. It's a tiny cafe with 4-5 tables and a large glass case of freshly-made pastries the size of my head! I am not a doughnut person, but each year I get an apple ugly and it satisfies my sweet tooth for the year. We made the 40 minute trip from Hatteras last week and gave Jackson his first taste of the delicious treat. You know how some babies just stare at their smash cake for their first birthday and aren't sure what to do with it? Well, that will not be the case with Jackson. We are going to take bets on how short a time it will take him to eat the whole thing.

On the beach with Susannah Byrd. Don't they look so grown up? 

We have also enjoyed some solo beach time, thanks to the Byrne grandparents. They are so great about keeping Jackson back at the house while he naps which allows us to have several hours down at the ocean. Jonathan has worked on his Stand Up Paddleboard skills while I have worked on my tan and caught up on some reading.

Here is most of the McKay and Renz families at a memorial service for Nana on August 11th in Delaware. It was so good to get together with everyone to celebrate her rich life on earth.  The last time we were all together was for their 50th wedding anniversary 9 years ago. What a blessing to have such an example in our lives.

And finally, it's the big 3-0 for Jonathan and our friend Ben, who shares my birthday. I however, am still very young at 29.  In a tradition started several years ago with my friend Stacy who was born on the same day and year, we now celebrate August birthdays with a relaxed beach day and cookout at the Byrnes.

WHEW! I think we might have a few normal days coming up. Time to recover from all the August excitement

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beach Vacation!

We just got back from a great vacation down in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with our friends Ross and Hannah Byrd and their two little girls Ila and Susannah.  We had been looking forward to this time off for months and it proved to be a wonderful time of relaxation, family time, and fun on the water.  The Byrds own and run a summer surf camp down in Hatteras, NC ( and invited us to spend a few days at their house after all the campers left for the summer.  We are so thankful for such good friends and wonderful weather!

lil' J riding his favorite mommy-pony
dad riding a wave

face kiss

Susannah Byrd, 6 months old, what a cutie!

will these pictures of Jackson in a tutu cause problems later in life?  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mom's morning out

Last week, Jonathan offered me an amazing gift, that he would take care of Jackson from when he woke up in the morning until noon! Wow.  As I lay in bed listening to the sound of them playing downstairs, I was thankful for God's many blessings in my life. A considerate husband, a healthy baby, a super crazy dog and our new life as a family of three + Link.  After feeding Jackson, I headed out to read at starbucks for almost three hours. Curled up in a comfy brown chair, I did some of my Bible study and some pleasure reading while enjoying a cup of their dark roast of the day. Perfect.

Despite all the signs I was giving to the contrary, the nice stranger next to me must have imagined a sign on my shirt that said, "Please talk to me", so when his conversation began to interrupt my peaceful morning, I headed over to the home of a new friend with a two month old baby to bring her dinner. We enjoyed some get-to-know you time on the couch and talked about doing dinner together with our husbands. I was so thankful for the blessing of caring for her, uninterrupted, hands-free. As much of a blessing Jackson is, it is also difficult to have purposeful time with friends to really give them my undivided attention and truly listen.

I have realized that amidst all the craziness of raising a baby, being married, working, etc, I still need to maintain a little time for just me, to relax, connect with myself and to stay healthy so I can better fulfill all the roles to which I have been called.  I am looking forward to many more dates with myself and a cup of the latest dark roast.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Remembering Great Nana

On Thursday, July 26th, Nana went home to be with the Lord, surrounded by her four children, daughter-in-law and her husband. She was a faithful follower of Christ and lived a full life, serving Him. She was kind, generous, loving and a great cook :) She loved her family well and made everyone around her feel incredibly cared for.  She had a good sense of humor, was a wicked bowler and could make a mean sushi. She had a cute little poof of white hair, a sweet smile and a good amount of spunk for such a small little lady! I am so glad that she was my nana and Jackson's great nana. She set an example of what it is like to live a life worthy of the Gospel and Christ's calling for our lives.  She will be missed on this earth but we celebrate that she is with her Lord!  
The McKay family at Nana and Grandpa's 50th wedding anniversary celebration

Nana and Matt at our wedding, 2006
McKay family vacation in Norfolk, summer 2011
We are incredibly thankful that Jackson was able to meet Nana and spend some time cuddling with her. What a special opportunity to have four generations together and allow Nana to meet her first great grandchild.
Meeting Jackson for the first time!  
Easter 2012
Look at how much they love each other. This is how Nana makes everyone feel! 
 Although we wish it was under better circumstances, we had a chance to spend time with Matt and Chase, my sister in law for the past 2 months.  We had a great time at their wedding in June. They are so full of laughter and make Jackson giggle! It was so nice to have some extra hands (in addition to grand mom and pop pop) to help change diapers and play with him.  They are going to make great parents when the time comes and we are exited to spoil our niece/nephew(s)!
Aunt Chase and Uncle Matt in Delaware

Yogurt finger painting at grandmom and pop pop's house

So many new things to climb

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our life in pictures

We have had a great few weeks in Norfolk. Here are some of the highlights: 

Jackson has discovered the front door and entertains the neighborhood all day. It makes it hard to leave for work on time when those cute little thighs are standing there! You should see the glass...between Link and Jackson, there is no such thing as a clean front door anymore.
 We enjoyed a cooler afternoon on the porch last week and I loved to see my boys hanging out together. Doesn't Jackson look so relaxed with his dad?
 Here is J, all dressed for bed while spending the night at the Byrne Grandparents. We think he looks so grown up in this picture. Hard to believe he's 9 months. On a side note, it's pretty funny to watch him try to crawl, stand up and climb stairs in footie PJs :) It's like a mean trick we can play to slow him down!
 We LOVE story time on Wednesdays at the Larchmont library. Some days are very long when there is nothing to do. I mean, we take our morning run, eat and hopefully take naps but now there is a lot of awake time to be filled. Story time comes at 4:30pm when we are usually bored with each other and need a change of scenery. We brought our pals Mary and Ellie (pictured) whom we have not seen in FOREVER (ok, like 2 weeks, but it's like FOREVER!).  Jackson and Ellie have grown up so much and it's fun to see them interact with each other, trading water bottles, pulling up on each other, touching hair and stealing paci's.  It's awesome to have activities for the kids and have fun friends who also join in to have some mom time.

J is tuning into the 2012 Olympics
The Olympics are so exciting that we are losing sleep over them!

Finally, we got to enjoy a day with Christian, a friend from college, and her husband, Mike and daughters Lilly Kate and Ann Elise when they were in VA beach for a few days. We spent a few minutes down by the water but keeping three kids peaceful proved to be quite difficult and we enjoyed a few 'calmer' moments up at the pool. I love her sweet children and hope that they grow up to be just like Christian and Mike!

Babies and Boats

We love the Koertens! Jonathan and JB are both in their 3rd year of their Emergency Medicine Residencies at Norfolk General/EVMS and Amber has been married to Jonathan for over a year.  We have loved getting to know them over the past 2 years and have been blessed to have Amber as our summer babysitter. I had the honor of celebrating their upcoming baby Cara (due September 23rd) with a couple's baby shower at our home. We are so excited that Cara will have such loving, Godly parents and can't wait to meet her! Doesn't Amber look amazing? What a stunning pregnant lady!
 Preparations went into full swing on Thursday night and continued through Saturday evening, when the guests arrived at 7pm. I am starting to feel like quite the little Martha Stewart, hosting my 3rd shower this year at our sweet little home. Jonathan and I are so grateful for this home, which allows us to entertain friends, family and neighbors.  We hope that we continue to have a warm, welcoming home for our friends and Jackson's for many years to come.  We just had a new fence and back gate installed so Lisa (our back door neighbor) and I were talking about having open homes for our kid's friends to come in and feel safe, loved and well fed :)  
 It was quite a spread, and everything turned out perfectly (whew!). We had veggies and hummus, fresh peaches and pineapple (thanks to Kaitlin for cutting everything), homemade pound cake with chocolate fondue, baked brie with cherry filling and triscuits, caramel and chocolate cake balls (thanks to Kim for decorating), mini chocolate and vanilla trifles with toffee bits (jars courtesy of Christina), chocolate covered strawberries (thanks Nessa), and homemade mints for favors.  Man, that was a lot of cooking!  I used all my china and platters from our wedding which was so lovely. Even though it's tough to dig everything out from high shelves and deep in cabinets, it is well worth it.  Motherhood has also taught me that asking for help is a very good thing in life. I had two good friends come over to help cook and entertain Jackson while I cleaned.  I am so grateful to be going through life with so many good friends surrounding me.  

Amber with all of the ladies

After a crazy night of cleaning up after the fabulous shower, we went to church and then set out for our boating adventure, courtesy of Groupon, which was delayed last month from the storm. We had a 4 hour boat tour of Hampton with the McNabbs and Dean.  Since I was feeling quite nauseous from a combination of the waves and not eating well since Thursday afternoon (Martha Stewart must know how to eat better when entertaining), we docked in the very calm waters near Willoughby Spit and the HRBT. We enjoyed some drinks, floating and laying on a beach, baby-free!  Thanks to the Byrnes for babysitting and tackling a tough to-do list at home including putting up a baby gate and doing our ironing. 
The guys enjoy floating with life preservers in 3 foot water :)