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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011

Let me start by saying I am still SO SAD that I didn't document more of this weekend with pictures :(  I take pictures of EVERYTHING, what happened to my lovely little habit???  ARGH!

BUT, all that aside, Jackson had a great day!!!  (We did too!)  Of course the day started by opening presents!  Santa brought Jackson Candy Land, a horn for his bike, and a new Chuggington train!  He got lots of other fun toys from his aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends :)
 Aunt Murph and Uncle Larry got Daddy this awesome Cookie Monster hat!  Josh really did wear it all day, but someone borrowed it for a photo op :)
 Santa left a few crumbs and A NOTE!  Jackson was not quite as impressed as he should have been with the special note, but I will definitely tuck it away in his memory box so he can be impressed later ;)
After we opened all of our presents we had a yummy brunch.  I made a sausage-egg casserole and we added some fruit, coffee, and juice.  We spent the morning playing with Jackson's new toys and just relaxing.  Josh and I really enjoyed the evenings of the holiday weekend--we DVRed several holiday movies and had such a good time watching them after Jackson went to bed!  It sounds so simple, but it really was a nice way to end the days :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve and Christmas Eve

This was the first year that we were in our own home for Christmas!  In all honesty, I was pretty nervous and anxious to plan lots of things to keep us busy so we didn't miss our families so much.  I was still sad at times and pretty weepy (dang hormones during the holidays!), BUT I think we did a great job of enjoying the holiday and starting some good traditions :)

We put up our Christmas tree the Monday after we got home.  I spent Tuesday setting up the rest of the decorations.  Wednesday Jackson and I baked all sorts of cookies to share with friends.  Friday kicked off the holiday weekend for us!  We had a playdate with our neighbors, the Wolfes.  We had a really good time, but Jackson completely melted down at the end since he had skipped his nap the day before.  The silver lining was he then napped for three hours :)  We picked Josh up at Metro after naptime and headed to the Yanceys' house.  We hadn't seen them in SO long!  We enjoyed some Chipotle and Dairy Queen and spent time catching up.  Jackson and Rachel were excited to see each other, excited for Christmas, and just had a good time :)
 These are the pictures that resulted form a little photo shoot with the Yancey tree!
 Josh set up his special train set, and Jackson loved watching it go around and around.
 Making the train cars work: letting them carry ornaments
 Jackson got this awesome toy from Susie, Joe, and Rachel: Design and Drill Activity Center!  We spent some time on Christmas Eve discovering all it does.  I'm not sure who loves it more...
 For Jackson's second Christmas, Josh and I gave him a card that sang "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."  He LOVED it and played it over and over again while dancing.  Well, he heard the song on the radio the other day and was reunited with his favorite song :)  It was rarely on the radio, so we had some on-demand YouTube showings :)
 Josh and I spent naptime finishing up our wrapping.  Then I got started on dinner: Beef Brisket, red potatoes, and caesar salad.  I made the brisket just like my mom: mix an envelope of onion soup mix and a bottle of chili sauce.  Salt and pepper the meat and pour/rub sauce all over the meat.  Bake in the oven (temp and time depends on the size of your brisket).  For the potatoes, I quartered them, tossed them in olive oil, and added kosher salt and rosemary.  Then we roasted them in the oven with the brisket.  It was a really yummy dinner!  After we ate we loaded up in the car and drove around looking at lights!  FUN!  Then we had a bath, set out cookies and egg nog for Santa, added carrots for the reindeer to the plate, and snuggled up for Santa to come!  
Jackson was all about Santa!  He was so excited to get everything ready and to go to sleep so he could see what Santa brought the next morning :)

Catching up on the End of 2011!

The end of our Evanston trip was MUCH busier than I expected (but wonderful), and we were soaking up family time instead of blogging :)  Then we made a last-minute stop to celebrate with Josh's family.  We got home the Sunday before Christmas and spent that week decorating, catching up with friends, getting excited, baking, unpacking, etc.  So, more blogging left undone.

Now, however, are LOTS of updates!  Ready?  Set?  Read!

Tour of 1200 Davis St.!
Jackson's Big Boy Room!
Kohl's Children's Museum
Jackson and Jonah :)
A Busy Year for The BETS!
Week Four of Four
Early Christmases!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Bit of a Break...

This is what we unloaded from the Prius late Sunday night!  PLUS two grown-ups, a three-year old, and a dog who got most of the hatch space all to himself for the majority of the ride...

Needless to say we have been busy unpacking on top of setting up a tree, decorating the house, baking, working, visiting with friends, grocery shopping, lighting Hanukkah candles, wrapping, and trying to enjoy the season!  So, I'm on a bit of a blog break until the end of next week probably.

Happy holidays :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Early Christmases!

 Josh flew in from Kansas City Friday morning, and we enjoyed hanging out for the afternoon followed by his birthday dinner at Lou Malnati's and an early Christmas celebration before/after bed!
 Jackson helped pass out all of the presents under the tree before he went to bed :)
 And, then he opened all of his presents from Nan, Mimi and Bampa :)
 It is really funny to think about all of the presents in Jackson's past that he didn't "get" how to open!  He's a pro now, for sure!
 It looks like Tuck...
 Oh!  It's the whole "Wonder Pets" crew!!!
 Such good hugs!
 Checking out his awesome new transportation themed look and find book
 After Jackson opened his presents, we put him to bed, and then exchanged grown-up presents!  I'm guessing my mom's favorite present was the set of return address labels we gave her: one design for each season!  We also got her a new bed set and some other fun stuff for the house.  We gave my dad some new supplies for his new office, since this is kind of like the beginning of the school year!  My favorite present for him was a new padfolio (I think that's what it's called...  It's a leather folder to hold his pad of paper and it has a pocket to tuck papers in.)  We personalized it with a page of pictures to tuck in the flap. Most of the pictures are of us all at various times in the original building :)  Jackson made out very well, of course!  He LOVED his set of "Wonder Pets," he got a couple of books, a subscription to Highlights High Five magazine, Flicker the Flashlight to join his other Handy Manny tools, and a few other things.  Josh was thrilled to receive a new pair of sandals!!!  He wore his last pair into the ground--we even tried taking them to the beach this past fall...along with a bottle of super glue, and they just weren't made to last any longer.  He now has an exactly identical pair :)  I got some fun decorations for the house and a Vera Bradley wallet I really wanted!  As much fun as it is to open presents, it is even better to watch Jackson enjoy handing out presents and my parents opening the present we picked out :)

Then we packed the car FULL and went to sleep so we could get up and leave around 4:30am!!!
I think we did leave around 4:30, and we drove to Staunton in order to attend the annual Smith Christmas celebration.  It certainly was a busy weekend, but it was really nice to get to visit with family :)  We got in before dinner on Saturday night, and we enjoyed a quiet night at Aunt Murph's and Uncle Larry's.  Sunday was spent getting ready for the shindig!  Everyone came over in the afternoon, and there was lots of eating, visiting, and gift exchanging.  We left Staunton after the celebration and arrived back in our OWN house late Sunday night!  Phew!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Week Four of Four

Everyone's first question about our trip was how Josh could take that much time off!  Well, he didn't: he had the week of Thanksgiving truly off.  He telecommuted the next two weeks and then the last week he was in Kansas City, he just flew round trip from Chicago instead of DC.  He has the best boss, and it all seemed to work out really well :)  The last week, while Josh was gone, turned out to be super busy!  Jackson and I kicked off the week with a whirlwind tour of our old neighborhoods when Josh and I lived in Crystal Lake.

We started out in South Barrington meeting Jane for lunch.  I had Jane's son, Alex, in my third grade class and Alex is now in 8th grade!!!  We had a GREAT time catching up and walking around the shopping center.  From there, we went to Elgin Academy to visit friends I used to teach with.  It is always SO nice going back to visit--I LOVED that job, and the people!  All of my teacher friends have fun stuff in their classrooms so Jackson was kept busy exploring these new "toys" while I got to chat :)

From EA we drove to Elgin to meet one of good, good friends from when lived there: Dana!  We hung out with Dana and her husband, Age, all the time--it was so good to get to catch up over dinner!

Unfortunately, I forgot to get out my camera very often this last week :(  This is a really cute picture of Jane and Jackson, however!
On Tuesday we hung out at the Huks, and Jackson had a GREAT time playing with Katie and Will!  On Wednesday, Auntie Cassie and Jonah came to visit us at Mimi and Bampa's house, and the boys had such a good time playing for the THIRD time this visit--awesome!  On Thursday we went to my cousin, Amy's, house and played.  In between all of these playdates and visits I finished Christmas shopping so we could celebrate an early Christmas with Mimi and Bampa!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top Ten Pregnancy Statuses I've Wanted to Post Over the Last Three Months!

1. My willpower went downhill while I was pregnant with Jackson.  It never quite recovered.  Now it appears to be non-existant :(

2.  AH!  Pregnancy Brain: If I need to go North on 95, I inevitably get on the South ramp. If I need to go South on 95, I get on the North ramp.  And, I continue to routinely miss our old exit for Springfield when headed that way :(

3. And...I cried at a Folger's commercial...

4. This pregnancy brought to you by the pasta shape rigatoni!

5. First Date Night with Baby #2 on board!  Too bad our goal was to look up baby names and the best we came up with was Purplicious...

6. I DO NOT recommend planning and throwing a birthday party in the early stages of pregnancy...

7. Today I cried while folding laundry and watching "Ellen..." Justin Bieber was the main guest :/

8. Halloween is NOT the best holiday to have a pregnant mommy!  Poor Jackson's candy might just be in jeopardy...

9. Pregnancy Brain: a football schedule on TV listed a game in London.  I say, "Like the country?"  Josh looks at me with shame.  I correct myself, "Like the city IN another country?"  OY!

10. In the last 24 hours I have had an ultrasound, seven vials of blood drawn, a flu shot, a dental exam, and an eye exam!

Check out other fun Top Ten lists at Top Ten Tuesday hosted by Oh Amanda!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Secret Blogging :)

I know I haven't had as many "new" blog posts, but that's because I've been busy writing pregnancy secret!  LOL Before we got pregnant with Jackson, I didn't have a blog!  I was able to create this blog, write posts, and not have anyone reading them until we were ready to announce our pregnancy.  This time, I want to archive this pregnancy too, but we just weren't ready to have everyone read along right away.  So, here is a list of the "secret" blogs (they are all links) I wrote for whoever is interested:

The Belly Report: Dr. Confirmation!
The Belly Report!!!
The Belly Report: Big and Mean Part 2
The Belly Report: First Belly Pics...and Some Other Stuff!!!
Up and Coming Big Brother: Jackson Albert Smith!!!
The Belly Report: Ten Weeks!
The Belly Report: Ultrasound #2!
The Belly Report: 1/3 Finished!
The Belly Report: The News is Out!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh, Happy News :)

Josh has been busy writing me some special poems:

HaikuThe Smith blessing grows;
Bulging belly does show, that
June brings us one more

Limerick: We’re so thankful our blessings still grow;
If you see Dana she has quite the glow;
What a joy to be a mother;
And Jackson a big brother;
For in June kid #2 will show!

A Busy Year for the BETS!

We always try to see Auntie Abbey, Auntie Kelly, Auntie Dale, and Ryleigh whenever we are home!  This time was no different, and we got together one night to hang out and catch up.  The next twelve months are full of happy events for all of our families!  Kelly and Robb just welcomed their second daughter, Brooklyn Lois!  We are having a baby in June, Larry is getting married in August, and Abbey is getting married in December!  WOO HOO!!!  Plus, Abbey's married name will begin with and "E" (a vowel!), so we can nickname our little group: The BETS (Becker, Ehrlenbaugh, Tadelman, Smith)
 I love how Jackson makes himself at home with little girls' toys ;)
 Playing--Jackson LOVED the mailbox toy of Ryleigh's
 Posing with Auntie Abbey
 Ryleigh gets in on the action!
 Annual group shot :)
Opening presents!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baking, Baking, and More Baking!

We have been busy baking!!!  We even packed my KitchenAid mixer in the car to make the trip to Evanston with us :)  HA HA HA!  Josh did not hesitate in making pretzels as soon as we arrived.  We made plans to hang out with our cousin, Beth, and she asked if I thought Jackson would like to bake while we were over.  Of course he would!!!
Beth pulled out the book Pretend Soup by Mollie Katzen and we made popovers with Jackson!  I have seen this book before, but never appreciated the special tips it includes for cooking/baking with toddlers!  The first thing Jackson did was use a pastry brush to "paint" the cups in a muffin tin with melted butter.
The milk jug was heavy, so Beth helped support it, but by placing a measuring cup IN a wide, shallow container Jackson was able to do most of the pouring since the mess would be contained.
We used the same technique for the flour and put the whole bag of flour in the dish.
Beth showed Jackson how to level off the measuring cup with a knife.  The book also showed a good technique for cracking eggs on a more independent level.  Jackson had a BLAST!  Each recipe in the book is written in pictures so Jackson could check to see what the next step was.  This book would make an excellent gift with an apron, cooking supplies, or baking mixes!
This past Sunday was a baking marathon at Mimi and Bampa's house!  We had hoped to head into the city to the Field Museum, but then we remembered there was a Bears' game, and that just didn't sound fun to fight all the traffic and parking issues...  So, we baked!  We started with Better than Crack Brownies, which turned out AMAZING!  I had been eyeing this recipe on Pinterest for a few weeks, and I thought it was the perfect thing to bake to take to the Cocallases when we went for dinner the next night!  I think the key is purposely under-cooking the brownies a bit so they are really gooey...
Next we made more pretzels, this time doing half kosher salt and half cinnamon sugar--excellent decision!  Then we made Cinnamon Chip Scones with chocolate chips instead of cinnamon chips :)
After he was finished being my helper, Jackson turned down his apron, put on his shades, and had a little dance party to some Christmas music--isn't he hilarious looking???

Jackson and Jonah :)

 Jackson was SO excited to drive to Kenosha and visit Jonah at his house and to play with his toys!  LOL  We had a great morning hanging out with Auntie Cassie and Jonah :)  Jonah showed Jackson his racecars, his big boy room, his fish tank (he even let Jackson feed the fish a little), and then they played in the sink!  It was super cute!  They each had a sink of cars that they were washing and letting play on some dishes.  Things got a little wet, but that's ok :)
 Once the boys were finished playing at the sink, they hid under the kitchen table!
 What goofballs!
 I know these two wished they got to play more often!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Sweet Boy

 I LOVE this series of pictures of Jackson at the Botanic Garden Wonderland Express--he was so intent on watching the ladybug engine go in and out of the tunnel!  He loved this part last year, and he loved it even more this year :)