Happy 1st Birthday, Jaxson!

At 8:14 pm tonight, Jaxson Bennett turns one year old. J has told me how she’s been really weirded out because she has been feeling pregnant this past week or so (trust me – she’s not!). Funny how her body seems to remember the last time she was pregnant and is mimicking it a year later!

I’m a mix of emotions here at the end of Jaxson’s first year:

  • Sad because our baby isn’t a baby anymore, but a full-on toddler – oh boy!
  • Disbelieving because how the heck is he already turning one?! Where did the time go?
  • Excited because it is another year to watch him learn and grow and discover his world.
  • Grateful because he is a good boy and he loves his moms a lot – really what more could you ask for?
  • Amazed because I still can’t believe fate threw all of us together with a whole lot of love and decided we’d make a great family.

I took a half-day off of work today so that I could spend the afternoon with Jaxson to celebrate his big day. Turning one is a BIG deal and I didn’t want to be stuck at work the whole day! We are picking up a cupcake for him tonight since we still have some running around to do for final preparations for his birthday party tomorrow (get balloons filled, pick up the cake, etc.). We’re giving him our gifts tonight instead of waiting for tomorrow: a sensory toy with different textured fish on it that bubble or play music when you touch them, a Mickey Mouse book that makes noises when you turn the pages or push the buttons, and his “big” gift – a Mickey Mouse ball pit for the patio so he can have something to play with outside.

This past year has flown by much quicker than I ever thought it could. I know, I know, everyone tells you to enjoy it while its here because it will be gone before you know it – and its true. Looking back on the first year of Jaxson’s life, we’ve learned a lot about him and its been fun getting to know our little man. He’s kind, smart, gentle, and loves animals. When you’re upset, he is sensitive and caring. He loves to attack-snuggle Moms and loves hanging in the bed on weekend mornings when Moms don’t have to get up and work. He enjoys a good book and cuddling with his stuffed animals at night.  He’s a master of video chat with Nana and looks so much like Papa (especially when they dress alike!), he loves snuggling and napping on Grandma and playing with trains with Grandpa. He lights up when I come home from work every day and if J is away for work travel, he misses seeing her when he gets up from naptime and gets so excited when she comes home in time to tuck him in for the night. His mornings are full of smiles and hugs for Moms. He loves music and singing or being sung to. He loves us and we love him. We’ve dealt with illness, sleepless nights, food allergies, discipline…and learned how to deal with the stresses of parenthood in a positive way. I think we’ve done a good job this first year and I think our boy is off to a great start.

J and I are so blessed to have such a wonderful little boy. Jaxson really does make our world go ’round and I can’t imagine life without him. I can’t believe it was only a year ago that he wasn’t here, and then BAM! he was. It seems like it is too soon for him to be one year old, but at the same time it seems like its taken so long to get to this day. My hope for the next year (and the rest of his life!) is that we continue to nurture him, support him, love him, and make him feel special each and every day, because he is!

Now for the fun stuff – all about Jaxson at 1 year old! 🙂

Jaxson likes…

  • Monkey, whom he sleeps with every night and now carries around the house with him during the day
  • the color Pink
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Henry Hugglemonster, and Sheriff Callie on Disney Jr.
  • Cooking shows like Chopped and Top Chef and Moms’ Sci-Fi/Fantasy shows on TV
  • Playing on the big bed (our bed) and morning snuggles on the weekends
  • FOOD!
  • Being scared/startled in a playful way
  • Being outside
  • Terrapin, our red-eared slider turtle
  • Bathtime and brushing his teeth!

Jaxson does not like…

  • Cutting new teeth
  • Most fruits
  • Baby gates/being kept out of places
  • Being changed on the changing table
  • Being fussed at

Jaxson is good at…

  • Laughing
  • Singing along to the radio
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider (he even does some of the hand motions!)
  • Petting our cat, Bubba
  • Shopping
  • Meeting new people
  • Eating “real” food
  • Snuggling with Moms

Jaxson is still working on…

  • Standing without assistance (he’ll pull up on something and let go to squat, but can’t quite get back up yet without holding on)
  • Walking without assistance (he’s down to holding just one of our hands instead of both!)
  • Talking (he can currently say: Bubba, Mom/Mama, done, and yeah – plus he’s getting really good at mimicking/repeating us – uh oh!)

Its been a big first year, with many more to come! And we’re so excited to keep watching him grow into the wonderful person we know he will be. Happy Birthday, Jaxson! Mommies love you! 🙂

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Our Big Boy!
(look at those teeth!)

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This Time Last Year

…J was 38 weeks pregnant and we were anxiously awaiting Jaxson’s arrival and thinking we still had a little over two weeks left to prepare for his big debut.

A year later, these two moms can’t believe their little man is turning a year old in ONE week. Ahhhh! It seems like the past year has flown by and trudged along all at the same time. The status quo changed to include poopy diapers and baby toys strewn around the house, and if we think about it really hard we can almost remember what it was like before he was here.

It’s amazing to look back at the last year and remember that its only been a year and he’s grown so much (and so have we). And sometimes its overwhelming to look at the present with its struggles with teething woes, naptime fights, and tantrums. There are those wonderful moments too, such as receiving wholehearted snuggles, smiley good mornings, and watching Jaxson find joy in the simplest things like the wind blowing through tree leaves.

It all balances out in the end: the bad moments make the good ones look really good, and the good moments make the bad ones not so bad. But really, I’m just impressed that we’ve almost made it to a year with all three of us still sane.  Well, mostly sane. 😉

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

It’s no secret that Jaxson LOOOOOOOOVES Micky Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Jr. He will literally race from one end of the living room to the other to be closer to the TV so he can watch, and when the Hot Dog song comes on at the end of every show, he dances along with the best of them, scooting around on the floor shaking his head or if he’s standing, bee-bopping as best a wobbly 11 month old can do. It’s adorable.

So it was no question what the theme of his First Birthday would be. Oh boy. The big ONE – yikes! How did it come so soon? Didn’t J just go into labor this morning? It’s amazing how quickly this past year has flown by and we’ve enjoyed getting to know our little guy. He’s perfect (most of the time).

Anywho, putting our DIY skills to the test and giving us something else to do together after Jaxson goes to bed, J and I made our own Mickey Mouse invitations for Jax’s birthday party! There were moments while we were cutting and gluing and oopsing where we asked what we’d gotten ourselves into, but after seeing the finished product we are really proud of and super excited to send out to all the guests. Much like the DIY Crib Rail Covers I made a couple of weeks ago, the point of making our own invites was not perpetual frustration at running out of glue, but rather to save some money. Plus it felt good to put our heart and time into making something ourselves!

We got a lot of the supplies on sale at Michael’s after Christmas. Score! So our cost-breakdown ended up being:

  • black card stock for about $1.00 (the pack was already cut into 75-6×6 squares for $2.50 – we’re using the extra to make decorations)
  • white card stock for about $0.50 (we only needed 3 sheets but needed to pick up a whole pack ($4) for other projects anyway)
  • red card stock for about $1.50 for 3 sheets by themselves
  • yellow card stock for about $0.50 (the pack of colored card stock was $5, but we only used 2 sheets of yellow, we’ll use the rest in the future for other projects)
  • 2 packs of 10 6×6 plain white envelopes for $4
  • Mickey Mouse stickers on sale for $2 for 3 sheets.

Grand Total: $9.50, to make 20 invitations. The total cost including the extras was about $20, so still not bad! The funny thing is the stamps to mail 20 invitations ended up being the same amount as the invitations themselves!

This is compared to the pre-made store-bought regular ol’ not very exciting or remarkably cute Mickey Mouse invitations that were $9 for a pack of 8. We needed 20 so we would have had to buy 3 packs for a total of $27.00, so I think we did pretty good DIY-ing for 1/3 of the cost! And we ended up with a beautiful finished product, super cute and complete with that personal touch. Check them out!

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Invite & Envelope – check out Jaxson’s personalized address label!

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Back of the envelope!

I’m really happy with how they turned out, even though we hit a few bumps in the road. I know he won’t appreciate all the hard work that went into making them, but I had a good time getting crafty!

Instructions

  1. Cut black card stock into the shape of a Mickey Mouse silhouette (I found a template online and then traced it onto the card stock)
  2. Cut red card stock into a semi-circle that is the size of half of Mickey’s head (this is for his pants)
  3. Cut white card stock into tiny ovals, 2 per invitation (these are the buttons on his pants)
  4. Assemble the front of the invitations – glue the red semi-circle to the bottom half of the black Mickey silhouette, then glue on the buttons.
  5. Format the wording for the back of your invitations (we decided to do yellow balloons in the ears with a cute Mickey Mouse Clubhouse saying, and the main body of the invitation on white card stock below). We used Microsoft Publisher to “draw” the balloons with shapes and add the words, and to format the circles to fit on the back side of Mickey with the information. This took some trial and error…good luck!
  6. Cut out the pieces for the back of the invitation and assemble – we glued on the body of the invitation, then the yellow balloons in the ears.
  7. Let everything dry! Address the envelopes while you wait or print out address labels like we do, then add your invitation, seal, and mail!

Our Son, the Woodchuck

The other morning, J woke up and went into Jaxson’s room to get him up for the day. When she entered, she found our son standing in his crib chewing the rail, covered in wood pieces and paint. Literally covered – it was all over his arms and hands, in his eyes, around his mouth, all over his neck. Gross. Now we have quite a few sets of matching teeth marks where he’s chewed the paint off to expose the wood underneath. Thankfully this is not 1960 and lead paint is no longer the norm on children’s furniture.

So began our search for a crib rail cover. We’d seen the plastic ones that stick on to the top of the rail, but knowing how insane determined our son is, we knew he’d peel/chew it off in no time.

They had canvas ones that tied on, but they weren’t fitted to the crib (they were made to accommodate rail sizes from 8-18 inches) and were super expensive for all 4 sides ($25 each for the front and back and then another $25 for the pair of sides). We have a baby, not a Swiss bank account, so that option was out.

Besides, nothing we found was carried in our local stores and would have to be ordered online which could take days. Or weeks. Ugh. So in a last-ditch effort to find a solution, I Googled “crib rail covers” and found a plethora of DIY sewn and not-sewn rail covers! Voila! We had our answer.

“I’m crafty,” I said to myself, “I should just MAKE them myself.”

I was raised by my grandmother and she had a close friend when I was growing up (Miss Penny) who taught me how to sew by hand and on a sewing machine, and we used to make Barbie clothes together when I’d spend time at her house. I learned more in Home Ec in high school and made my own Renaissance prom dress, too. Aside from being taught, I have a natural talent for crafting. I can see something and figure out how to make it without even needing a pattern.

So that night, we went to Wal-Mart (yikes) and picked up the supplies I’d need for the rail covers for all sides. All in all it only cost about $25 for fabric, padding, ribbon, and thread. There isn’t a pattern per se, and it didn’t require any “mad skills” at sewing to get it done. Without interruptions, I could have gotten all 4 covers done in about two hours. Anyone with a sewing machine could make them so I’m putting up the instructions in case anyone out there feels inclined to DIY for their little woodchucks.

Materials Needed (for two long and two side rail covers):

  • 3 yards of fabric (we got a pre-made 3 yard pack at Wal-Mart for $14)
  • quilter’s batting (we used Morning Glory low-loft batting – 81″ x 96″ package and had enough to double up)
  • 12 yards of ribbon (you may need more if you wish to tie bows along the middle and not just the ends)
  • thread

Instructions:

  • Measure your crib rails. You have two measurements you’ll need here – the length of the rail from side to side and the length around the rail. Our long rails measured 52″ x 7″ and our side rails measured 27″ x 14″.
  • Cut your fabric, batting, and ribbon. Cut your batting to the actual measurements of your rails. Add two inches to your measurements and cut your fabric to that size, 2 pieces for each cover. So for our crib, we cut four pieces at 54″ x 9″ and four pieces at 29″ x 16″. As for the ribbon, I used 10″ pieces for the end ties (around the part where the crib sides join) and 6″ ribbons for the middle ties (between the slats) since we only tied the ends in bows and knotted the middle ones. You can adjust this as needed for a thicker/thinner rail or if you wish to tie bows instead of knots in the middle section.
  • Pin your hem. Lay one piece of fabric pattern-side down and then center your batting on top. Go ahead and fold the bottom piece of fabric up and pin it in place to the batting. Next take another piece of fabric pattern-side up and place on top of the batting. Fold your edges under and use the pins you already had in place to pin it all together.
  • Check your measurements. Measure the cover you just pinned to see if it matches the actual crib rail measurements and adjust as needed. Take your pinned rail cover, hold it along your crib rail, and make sure it reaches to the edges and around the sides and top of the railing. Adjust as needed. Take this time to place a pin where your ribbons will need to go so they line up between the slats, or you could go ahead and sandwich your ribbons between the fabric and pin them in place.
  • Insert ribbons into hem. If you haven’t already done so, place the ribbons where they need to be and secure with a pin. The ribbons should be sandwiched between the two pieces of fabric to give it a cleaner look when finished. For the end ribbons, place them at a 45 degree angle so they will tie neatly.
  • Sew! Stitch a small hem (about 1/4″ from the edge) all the way around your rail cover. Back-stitch at the end to secure, trim any loose thread ends, and voila! You now have a custom crib rail cover that will protect your crib from your baby and vice versa.

Our crib rail covers are working out great so far! Jaxson has already tested them out and I’m glad we doubled up on the padding inside of each cover to keep his little teeth safe. I’m also glad that we chose a mellow pattern so that it would blend in instead of demanding your focus when you walk into Jaxson’s room.

J was pretty impressed with me and I’m proud of my craftiness and the money we saved! It would have cost us $75 to buy the one-size-fits-all crib covers and I made all 4 for the price of ONE store-bought one. J kept asking questions about what I was doing and saying how amazed she was that I could do this. After almost 6 years together, I guess there are still some things to learn about each other. She had no idea I could sew “for real”, just because the opportunity has never presented itself. Now, we’ve started a laundry list of sewing projects for the house…decorative couch pillows, patio chair cushions, you name it. And I’ve now been elected the Kids’ Halloween Costume Creator. I wonder if I could put that on my résumé?

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Creepy Toys

Jaxson has so many toys…they seem to increase exponentially with his age, until our floor is covered with balls, blocks, stuffed animals, and a wide variety of singing/talking/dancing/bouncing toys.

We have a toy that’s like a table with all sorts of levers, buttons, and goodies on it that Jax likes to stand at and play. It sings the ABC song and lights up and fills the world with magic. We also have a miniature workbench with a hammer rattle and colored shape “nails” that light up and sing. There’s an elephant that cycles through letters of the alphabet and has a bunch of doors and buttons to press to show different things starting with that letter. He got a basketball hoop for Christmas that sings to you when you make a basket and there’s the Puppy toy with sensitive paws/ears/tummy/toes, barking and singing and talking at the slightest touch.

Every night when Jax is getting ready for bed, whichever one of us is not giving him his bath cleans up the toys scattered across the living room. Blocks are found under couches and balls are found in the hallways from rolling under the baby gates. Everything small enough gets piled in a laundry basket and put against the wall to wait for Jaxson to come play the next morning. The big toys get lined up against the walls and turned OFF.

We didn’t always turn them off at night, or during nap time, but now its a requirement. For some reason these seemingly harmless toys take a dark turn when left unattended. In the still of the house, quiet without his laughter and babbling, these toys come to life. And I’m not talking Doc McStuffins-like coming to life.

At 3 AM, the last thing you want to hear is someone saying “hello” to you in the still of the night. A few weeks ago we woke up this way and looked at each other, bleary-eyed from the rude awakening and listening to the darkness for the mysterious noise. We didn’t hear anything and so laid back down to go back to sleep. Then we heard it again! We peeked into the living room, half-hoping to see Jax sitting there playing but alas, all the toys were in their place and no one (not even the cat) was around to be blamed. The next day, J happened to be playing with the table toy with Jaxson and found that the table was missing a piece and that there was a small button that would say “hello” and “goodbye” if you pressed it. At least we found out where the voice was coming from, and we made sure to turn it off at night to avoid further midnight heart attacks.

Time went on without another toy incident until the other day. Jaxson had just gotten up from his nap and the Puppy toy was in his room. As J was feeding Jax, she heard the Puppy say something from his room. She called out, “That’s not funny!” A moment passed and she heard something again “Stop messing around!” she called again. You know the sound toys make as their batteries are dying, that slow and unsettling drawling voice of doom? Well right after she said that she heard the slow creepy toy voice say, “Peekaboo, I see you!” She was officially unnerved for the rest of the day.

Now, we turn off every toy before naptimes and bedtime for peace of mind. Unfortunately, even though we are diligent in doing this, one toy manages to escape notice every so often. And it is those nights that we are woken in the night by “Hello!” or “Peekaboo!” and are scared to death before hastily jumping out of bed to turn the damn thing off. These toys aren’t necessarily creepy during the daytime (its not like its one of those dolls with the eyes that open and close when you lay it down or pick it up – *shudder*), but for some reason they wait until its totally silent before turning on the creep factor.

If I wrote a parenting book, this would definitely be a tip I’d share:

It is advisable to turn off all toys when not in use. It will save you gray hair and cardiac arrest, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Unless of course you enjoy being awoken by a robotic voice drawling “Peekaboo I see you!” from outside of your bedroom. Your call, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

11 Month Pictures

As promised, here are Jaxson’s 11 month pictures. Happy New Year everybody! 🙂

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