Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Early December

I have no creative titles for my blog posts.

Here is what we've been up to in early to mid December!

Jackson is very handy with tools and wants to be part of everything. He and grandad fixed the loose door on the entertainment table so it stays closed!! He loves to help JB start the grill, mow and rake the yard and he desperately wants to use the power drill. 
This is an adorable hand-made sweater from Laurie, one of BBs friends. Isn't she the cutest???
I finally made it over to the Byrne's house with both kids last Saturday morning. It was quite the production to get this picture but we managed somehow! 
We got to participate in a Fun Run, hosted by Mike and Blair for the Grizwolds Give Back charity they started this year. They raised money to provide Christmas trees, decorations and gifts to over 30 families in the VA Beach area!  
It was Rachel's first time visiting my work and we happened to come on tacky sweater day. What a treat to see all the bling on Tony's sweater and to get some snuggles with Michelle (who is the best with kids and totally entertained both of my kids while we were there!) I miss the people at work but I don't miss working at all right now. I am just so in love with my role as a stay-at-home-mom and wife for my two precious kids and wonderful husband.  
Post-bath tummy-time and baby massage. She smells so good :) 
J has made some huge physical leaps in the last few weeks. He suddenly sees the world as a jungle gym. Couches need to be walked on like a tight rope; tables are meant to be jumped off; banisters are for climbing. He tries to avoid touching the ground in our house, sliding and climbing from couch to table to stairs, to chair, etc.  Climbing this tree has presented problems for him in the past and he could never seem to get past the first 'rung' like Luke and Katie. However, I glanced over the other day and found him (higher than this prior to the picture) way up in the tree. I felt a huge mix of fear and pride. I can hear JB's ER Doctor voice of reason saying things like, 'broken arm, concussion, trip to the ER...' Then, while holding Rachel with one hand I had to get him down with the other, as he still does not know how to climb down a tree yet. 
The "Beach Girls" went out to dinner at 328 Tequila the other night. I love this group of women and am so encouraged by our time together. What a great start to the whirlwind week of Christmas activities.  
We broke out the bumbo for miss cheeks this week and she loves it. She can last for a few minutes before her little neck muscles get too tired and she needs a break. It's so fun to see her sitting and watching herself ham it up for the baby in the mirror.  
J wanted to be part of my warrior series the other day :)  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jackson's 3 year old adventures

Three year olds are difficult. 

Understatement of the year.

We are struggling with our vivacious, extroverted, testing-the-limits boy. He has started to wake up several times during the night, sometimes with a mini-night terror and sometimes just "asking" (there is nothing polite about the screaming demands) to be tucked back in.  Then, he is up for good at 5am. So much for the OK to wake light. He prides himself on telling me when it goes off, but that is usually when we have been awake for 1-2 hours already and are playing with cars or go upstairs to finally get dressed for the day.  We have tried EVERYTHING we can think of in the morning and are gladly accepting suggestions of what we can do to keep him better rested.  

He doesn't nap anymore either. We attempt a daily quiet time for 45-60 minutes.  I have left his door open during nap 2 times: the first time I found him in Rachel's crib (while she was napping), standing over her with a bottle of spray and wash (Since then I have toddler-proofed the house yet again). The second time I found him proudly in his room having colored on the walls, his growth chart and himself.  Then, this past week he learned how to take off the child-proof handles from the backs of doors. I think we must resort to installing a lock on the outside of his door.  He is strong and crafty but not smart enough to know (and avoid) ways that he could hurt himself when left alone. 
But, then he is our sweet little J man. He took the battery out of JB's pager and said, "See, now you don't have to go to work".  Yesterday I couldn't see him on the monitor so I ran upstairs expecting the worst. He was asleep on the floor right in front of the door where he likes to peek under during his quiet time.  He proclaimed on his second day of school, "Mom, you forgot to send me with a treat. All the other kids have treats for lunch." Confident little boo.  He body slams his sister with hugs and kisses and goes ga-ga over her. 
He loves his friends and will literally run outside naked in excitement to play with them. He's learning to share his toys and sometimes even initiate sharing toys and treats with me.  He loves his dad and has memorized every song that Jonathan has written and recorded with Ben and Allyson. J loves to don his headphones, shut the door to our 'recording studio' and jam on the drums.  He and JB love to scooter and skateboard around ODU, getting lots of adoring looks from college kids. 
He still only eats chicken nuggets as his protein source but he can throw back some peppers and hummus, usually consuming one full pepper each night at dinner (that is an expensive veggie habit but hey, if it's eating a veggie, we'll buy it!).  He loves fruits and will often choose those instead of desserts. 
Jackson is silly and fun. He loves to sing real songs with a twist by adding in his own made-up words and modifying the tune. He never sits still and is usually hanging from our banister, walking along the back of the couch (we don't condone this!), climbing trees (but not knowing how to get down yet) or jumping off of our living room table. He still has no interest in letters but he loves numbers and we now count everything! He can easily throw things out like, "there go three yellow dump trucks" as we are driving down the road.  He has an avid imagination, sometimes playing by himself and sometimes getting us to play along with his ghosts, sharks, camping, fishing, construction stories.  He also has an incredible memory, recalling a name of someone he just met or an event from a year ago. I used to doubt him but now realize that he can remember things that I don't even pay attention to. 
We started an obedience jar and it's working well. Every time he does something such as follow instructions, initiate one of his chores without being asked, is kind to his friends, obeys the first time, we put 1-2 marbles in his jar. When it reaches the blue line we go out for ice cream or another treat of his choice. The first time we went to Cold Stone and the employee was so impressed with Jackson and his obedience that he hooked us up with a waffle cone and filled the cup super full. He also gave J a dish of marshmallows too. What a great positive reinforcement for good behavior! 

J started school on December 9th and has loved it. I drop him off at "Katie's school" each morning. Our neighbor goes there but J still doesn't realize that it's now also his school. He confidently walks to his classroom, hangs up his jacket and 'back-packet' on the hanger and walks into his classroom without looking back. He tells us things about the day: there are toys that stay on the playground, I didn't eat all my lunch, I play bells during music, I saw Katie, I had to dump some glitter off my craft. He proudly screams, "Mom's here" and runs to greet me (best moment ever), shoving his craft in my hands and proclaiming, "I made this for Rachel" each time. I know that our life is about to be full of crafts but I just adore having my walls covered in his first art projects (that were not done in my house!).  
Amidst all the struggles, frustration, anger, time-outs and discipline, we can't stop loving this boy more and more each day. God continues to give us grace and patience when we are completely empty.  He is faithful to us and we continue to pray that we could be loving and faithful parents to our precious children, whom we get to care for on this earth.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rachel is 2 months old!

Hey everyone! Rachel here and I am 2 months old. I like being this old and I show it by smiling all the time! Mom seems to get a kick out of my smile and she is always making these weird faces and cooing noises at me.  Strange.  I think my brother is the.greatest.thing.ever.   I follow him around the room and like to watch him do crazy gymnastic tricks in our living room. Sometimes he gets a little aggressive with his snuggling but I'm pretty tough and don't really mind.  
I really like to suck on my thumb and first finger and still don't like a pacifier, which is ok with mom and dad. I hear they had a pretty rough time getting Jackson to stop using his.  I like eating but only when I can nurse. Bottles aren't my thing even though dad keeps trying and trying to get me to take one. I think mom might be trying to go back to work a few hours a week but I am determined to keep her at home forever! 
I have so many cute clothes, bows and hats and mom loves to dress me up.  Sometimes I spit-up or poop all over my outfit just so I can wear a few new outfits in one day.  I am really long and can wear Jackson's old 6 month PJs to bed. I like being swaddled whenever I sleep. And speaking of sleep, it's kinda my favorite thing to do. I go to bed around 6:30pm and wake up around 5:30. I'm not big on naps, averaging 45 minutes before I like to eat again. Girl has to do some growing! 
I like to be awake more now, though, and like to play with my links/rings, watch Jackson play with is trucks and do tummy time on my boppy pillow.  Mom and I go for runs together, or we drop brother off at school and have girl time. It's my favorite.  I really love daddy too, and often crane my neck to see him when I should be eating.

That's all for now! I'll be back when I turn 3 months on New Years Day! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

We were so blessed to be able to spend an (extended) amazing time in Springfield for Thanksgiving.  Jonathan had many shifts on and around Thanksgiving so I took the kids up to NOVA for the week.  JB had a great dinner with his parents, Lou and the Speasmakers, which I was so sad to miss!

Uncle Matt gave Pop Pop a break from horsey rides
My brother (Matt), his wife (Chase) and their son (William) flew in from Little Rock and all of the cousins got to meet each other for the first time. William is just the cutest nephew on the planet and it was great to see how much he has grown since I saw him at 2 months old. Matt and Chase are natural parents and have done an amazing job parenting him. He goes right to sleep for naps/bed, loves table food and smiles A  LOT. Jackson wasn't sure what to do with a kid who was crawling...he hasn't been around anyone in that phase before, but he soon learned how to play with William. And William got a kick out of Rachel, trying to grab her nose and crawl over her all weekend. Buddies

William and Rachel
Uncle Matt and Aunt Chase
my sweet little brother and his niece
I love having a nephew, but even more I love seeing my little brother as a dad. He loves his wife and his baby so much and is just about the best dad around. I'm so proud of him. 

William loved my chew beads
It was great to see the whole extended McKay family (and a few Renzes). Jackson got a kick out of our surprise visitors, Riley and Aunt Karen. The two of them (and Hana and Libby) played SO well the whole day. Aunt Karen brought Rachel her first princess toy :) It even lights up and plays lots of lovely music. Aunts are good for those kind of gifts ;) 

On Saturday following Thanksgiving, my car decided to sputter to a stop right after pulling into a BP gas station. It was a poorly timed empty tank of gas and a transmission failure. We were scheduled to head back to Norfolk the next day but ended up leaving on Friday morning after a headache-producing time of dealing with my car. Needless to say, we missed dad back home.  


Family Selfie! 
Grandmom and Pop Pop were rockstars that week, hosting both kids and their families for many nights, doing 2 Thanksgiving dinners with a WHOLE BUNCH of family and friends and juggling cars so I could have one to take the kids around if I needed.  They held my kids, read books, did bath times, cooked for us, let me take naps and go on runs and poured glasses of wine at night.  
Jackson has not been sleeping well and he and I shared a room for 2 weeks while we were there. One morning, I re-awoke (3am and 5am being the first ones) at 7:30am to find Jackson out to breakfast with my parents. Sweet sounds of silence and a boy who came home covered in syrup and very very happy. 
This is how pop pop organizes nap time. I came home to find Pop Pop asleep in the recliner and J asleep on the couch. Sweet boys 

J, R and I went exploring in the woods behind their house where I grew up playing as a kid. We had a blast! Too bad there are no more good climbing trees for our little monkey 

We call her squishy. Look at those cheeks 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rachel, 1-2 months

Life gets busy with two kids! Here is a little of what Rachel got herself into last month...

Pastor Ben and Ms. Breann (aka Ms. Ben as Jackson calls her) cooked dinner for us and stayed to dine and enjoy a fire pit. It was good food, better company and someone else's sweet arms to hold Rachel. 
R was flexin' for Dr. Dean during her 1 month appt.  
Tummy time is never fun for Rachel but Link sure loves to be part of the action, especially if it means he gets to lick up some spit-up.  Gross.  
Family snuggles on our bed before bath time. Love.
This shirt is totally unrepresentative of her. It should say, "Cheeks for days, sleeps all the time, calm and smily when rarely awake".  
We were blessed with so many handmade items including this hat from Kristi. 
She is already stealing Jackson's cute clothes! 
Rachel did her first 5K, the Harbour Lights on November 22nd. We came in top 4% for all women and top 10% overall! Not bad for her first race.  I think she's as natural.