Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reflecting on 2013 and looking to 2014...

I can't believe 2013 is almost over...

This was the first year that I was "mommy" the whole year.  Last new year's Jackson was just 6 weeks old, and throughout the year I've enjoyed watching him grow and learn- hitting his milestones and developing his little personality. 

New Year's Day 2013- and 6 weeks old!

We celebrated Jackson's "first" holidays of Valentine's Day, Easter, 4th of July, and Halloween.  We went on our first family vacation as a family of three (with my parents and brother also) to the beach.  And I planned for and we celebrated Jackson's first birthday!
Valentine's Day 2013
Easter 2013
4th of July 2013

Halloween 2013
Those are just some of the highlights-- we had a couple "bumps" this year, first of all being that our bad financial decisions caught up with us!  We had to make some big cuts and learn how to budget our money better.  We are still learning but things are looking better.  We also muddled our way through our first year of parenthood and came out on the other side no worse for the wear! 

My little goofball just before his first birthday

This year I do have a few "resolutions" (or goals) for the next year.  I split them into a few different categories, and I hope that I can stick to them- at least I'm going to try as hard as I can!


  • Pray more - use my notes on my iphone to keep my prayers organzied but I do need to do this more often!
  • Read more- it's been soooo long since I've been able to start and finish a book that I just wanted to read for fun.  I'm talking since before Jackson was born, maybe even before I was pregnant!  I have several ebooks on my Kindle I haven't read yet so I want to get into those.  I also want to read the bible more as well.
  • Be more disciplined about picking up after myself/cleaning house-  Seriously I'm horrible at this.  Here's what happens as far as my household chores go... I let them slide, I only do the bare minimum on a daily basis, then I'm left with an entire day packed full of cleaning... as in 6 loads of laundry, clean clothes piled up, dishes overtaking the sink, clutter on the floor, countertops covered, etc.  I know if I just MAKE myself put things away when I'm done with them, that I'll have half as much cleaning to do when I do "deep clean".  This is going to be a hard one for me but I'm trying to make it a goal to load the dishwasher, pick up Jackson's toys, and work on something laundry related (whether it's washing/drying a load or putting clothes away) every day.  


  • Spend more time alone with my husband- we have been on TWO dates since I had Jackson.  That's two times we went out and did something together without him.  Usually if we go out to eat or something we just bring him because he is such a good baby going out and such and it's easier than getting a babysitter.  But as much as we love our little guy I know it's important for us to get time with just each other.  So I'm setting a goal to have at least one "date night/day" a month.  I know financially we will have to have several date nights in but instead of putting Jackson to bed and doing our own thing (which is what we usually do, and nothing wrong with that- we both enjoy our "me" time too) but on a date night in we will have a late dinner together, play a card game, or SOMETHING to just talk and reconnect.  
  • Sleep train Jackson-  As of now and pretty much since he was 5 months old Jackson sleeps anywhere from 2-5 hours in his crib until he first wakes, then he sleeps the rest of the night with us.  It really has worked out well, we all get enough sleep this way and Jackson has never had to "cry it out" as it has been often suggested to me that he does.  It hasn't hurt our marriage or "alone" time or any of that-- basically this arrangement works and has been working so we haven't been motivated to change it.  BUT sometime this year we hope to conceive baby #2 and two things I would like to happen before I get pregnant (or as close to as possible) is that I would like Jackson to be weaned and sleeping in his own room all night.  It won't be good for his sleep if he's in bed with us with a newborn waking up every two hours and I also don't think that tandem nursing is for me.  Jackson has cut down on frequency of breastfeeding so I don't think weaning will be a problem.  As for sleeping in his room all night, I know that it is probably going to involve a good deal of crying at first but I am ok with that now that he is older.  I believe he understands that we aren't abandoning him or anything.  And he is ABLE to fall asleep on his own at the beginning of the night, so I know he CAN put himself back to sleep too.  I'm not necessarily going to night wean, at least right away, but I think if I can get him sleeping in his room through the night that he will naturally night wean.  He only nurses at night now because he falls asleep fastest like that (so for comfort) and because for the second half of the night I'm right there and he has easy access.  We have been putting it off for a while now because of my own laziness.  It's just EASIER to get him, nurse him, and have him in our bed the rest of the night.  I'm setting a "deadline" though for myself to start this process before he turns 18mo.  So by May 1 we need to get this ball rolling (if not before!)
  • Stop preventing pregnancy-  Sometime this year :)


  • Get our emergency fund together (and check off that first Baby Step!)
  • Start our debt snowball (this will be possible after we get our tax return)
  • Sell one of our vehicles- things have worked out so that we CAN still keep the Jeep and save some money each month, that said we technically have three cars right now (though one is still being worked on) so we obviously don't need three.  We are hoping to either sell the Jeep and get out of the payment OR sell our other car and use the cash for our debt snowball.  We will probably list both here in another month or so and see what goes quickest!
  • Pray about my job situation-  I am going to be applying for full time teaching positions this year again.  We are also considering me possibly going back to subbing (as much as I HATE to) because I was making more money subbing than I am teaching preschool right now.  So I don't have any specific goals here but I wanted to spend more time praying about it- praying that if it's God's will that I will get a contracted position (which even though I'd rather not work full time it would be a huge financial blessing to us and we would be able to get out of debt MUCH faster), and if not then that I am able to make the right call as to whether I should go back to subbing or continue teaching where I am now.

  Whew! ok yeah so that is quite a bit but hopefully it's not too much!  As always I'll keep updating on everything on here! :)

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Jackson's Second Christmas...

Yep this wasn't baby's first Christmas!  This was baby's first fun Christmas though!  lol  This was my tiny 5 week old boy last year...

Christmas 2012

I say this is his first fun Christmas because even though he still doesn't totally "get it", he had so much fun unwrapping presents and playing with his new toys.  We had so much fun this year.  Here's some of my favorite moments...

Really getting unto unwrapping presents at Grammy & Pap's!  (He had some good practice at his birthday party last month)

Family pic after Christmas Eve service at church

All tuckered out at great-grandma & great-grandpa's.  Cannot believe he stayed awake until almost 11pm!

Santa brought Jackson a wagon!!!

Unwrapping presents from mommy & daddy

Facetiming with my cousin!

Grandpa & his two grandsons :)  (My nephew Parker is on the left and he is 8 months old- and the same size as Jackson lol)

Unwrapping presents with great-aunt Darla!

Attempting to duplicate last year's photo in front of my aunt's pretty tree... Jackson wasn't really happy about that lol!

Here's a video of our holiday-- Some pictures and also footage of Jackson opening his gifts from Santa and us on Christmas morning!

We had a great Christmas and what's even better is I get another whole week off work to spend at home with my little guy!  I'm so blessed and my heart is full!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sick baby :(

Well my sweet boy has his first actual bout of sickness.  The worst he has ever had has been a bit of a stuffy nose, and the highest fever he's ever had was 99 from his last round of shots.  We've really lucked out in that department (I'm sure the fact that he doesn't have to go to daycare and that he is breastfed has helped a ton!).  But our time has come and my baby is sick.

It started a couple days ago, he started getting a bit of a cough.  Then starting yesterday he started running a bit of a fever, then today he woke up this morning burning up-- took his temp and it was 100.9.  He's been having a deep cough too, I'm not sure if he has a virus/croup or an upper respiratory infection.  We had to miss his last swim lesson today (him not feeling well plus I didn't want to make other babies sick!)

Watching Sesame Street with Daddy this morning-  caught them in the exact same pose at the same time and thought it was just too cute!

I know that typically it is best to let low-grade fevers run their course.  It is your body's way of fighting off/killing whatever virus you have.  So that's what we did for the first part of the day.  He only slept a half an hour for his morning nap (very unlike him), and when he only went down for a half an hour at first this afternoon I decided enough was enough.  He was completely miserable and couldn't sleep, so I gave him some tylenol to reduce his fever and sure enough he was able to then sleep an additional 2 hours.  The tylenol also helped him feel better this evening-- we went to Subway for dinner and got the few groceries we need for the next couple weeks and also the last couple Christmas gifts on our list and he seemed to be feeling ok.  Until the Tylenol wore off then he started burning up again.
Finally sleeping after Tylenol and nursing.  We spent a lot of today doing this...

So now my little guy is asleep for the night- in our bed because he would only fall asleep with me laying beside him- with another dose of Tylenol is in him so hopefully he'll get some sleep.  Poor guy.  I hate seeing him feeling so badly.  I can't imagine what parents of kids that are really sick or sick frequently go through because this is hard enough!

Hoping we see an improvement tomorrow-- if not, it's off to the doctor for us on Monday!  Hoping and praying that he is better before Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Car selling annoyances!

Hey everyone!  So if you caught one of my previous posts, we are on a journey to become debt free.  We are using Dave Ramsay's steps to Financial Freedom as our guide!

We haven't made much progress, other than we are getting better (still not great) at budgeting and are constantly finding ways to try and save a little money.  However we really aren't able to save any sort of substantial amount every month.  So last summer we decided the best thing to do would be to sell our Jeep.  We still are making payments on it each month.  My parents gave us an old car they had (that needs some work, hubby has been working on it off and on but it's jacked up in our garage right now lol)- it's a 1987 Chrysler Lebaron.  Yeah- old enough we could get antique plates for it if we wanted! lol.  Anyway they gave us that vehicle so we were going to sell the Jeep, then keep the Malibu we have (already paid off) and then Brew would drive the Chrysler to and from work as our second vehicle.   In the meantime we would save up our emergency fund and then start saving for a minivan to buy in cash with the $315/mo we WOULDN'T have to pay for the Jeep. 

Well best laid plans.... we have listed that Jeep continuously in the local bulletin board and on facebook and craigslist for the last 6 months.  We've lowered the price every couple months because we truly only are looking to get what we owe out of it (which is less than what it books for).  But we have had no such luck.  A few have called and seemed interested but then when it came down to it they ended up passing on it.  I guess because it is a bit of a gas guzzler and it doesn't have a 3rd row seat (which seems to be what people are looking for).  So after 6 months of this I'm just OVER IT.  I'm frustrated with not going anywhere on this debt-free journey, and still constantly struggling to pay bills every month and not having any left over for "fun stuff".  Several months the credit card payments don't get the minimum payment made.  I've had to hoard away any little bits of extra to buy Christmas gifts this year even.  So yeah I'm just done messing around with it.

So we are now trying to come up with some other options.  We are considering now trading in BOTH the Jeep and the Malibu for a used minivan.  Calculating best I could we could afford up to $7,000 and keep the payment below $200/mo.  I know, I know, another car loan is NOT the direction we wanted to go at this point.  BUT sometimes you have to take a step back before you can take two steps forward.  And honestly?  We don't have another option except to wait the almost two years we have remaining on the Jeep loan to get it paid off.  I don't want to do that not only because I don't want to wait two more years to get rolling on becoming debt free-- but I want to (hopefully) get pregnant with baby number 2 before then (if I wait until the Jeep is paid off, Jackson would be over three years old and probably closer to 4 before I would actually have a baby and I was hoping for them to be a little closer in age than that).  Right now we can't save any money for my maternity leave so we really can't afford to get pregnant. (And therefore we are still preventing it at this point).  So this is my best idea so far.  This way, we could have $100 extra a month to start saving.  When we get our tax return we should have our emergency fund then we can start our debt snowball (and just add the vehicle payment into the snowball).  And if I should get pregnant in that time period we can put the debt snowball on hold until I can save for the hopefully 3 months off I want to take from work (or as much as we can). 

As of now that's the only real option I can see... if anyone has any experience or ideas though be sure to let me know!!!  I just know we can't keep doing what we are doing because I'm super tired of struggling every month.  We have already cut cable, I meal plan and have a very small grocery budget (about $250 every month and that INCLUDES diapers and other toiletries), we seldom to never eat out, etc.  We have had to do all those things just to make it each month- let alone save anything. 

So please pray for us that we make the right decisions and that God presents the opportunity/option for us that He wants for us!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas photo shoot

It was kind of a fail...

It was a dreary day outside so we didn't have much natural light (besides the window is behind the tree anyway).  My camera settings were all screwed up from when my brother borrowed it, of course I didn't think about that until I was actually trying to take the pics, and also I had a wriggly toddler that was more interested in looking at (and eating) the ornaments than he was smiling for a picture...

I did get a few decent ones, but I'm thinking I'm going to try to get some more (better) ones soon!

oooh a Jingle bell ornament!

Would've been a good one if the lighting wasn't so funky-- I tried my best to fix it with Picasa but it still looks weird.

Again with the lighting-- but I love his sweet smile here!

Playing with the ribbon lol


Silly kid...

This one is the best of him-- but it was kind of blurry

And now trying to bail...

Shaking the ornament

Mmmm tasty!

lol no flash indoor shots usually turn out blurry of a wiggly lil boy

Ha he knows he's cute!

And this one is probably my favorite!!!

O Christmas Tree...

This is our third year picking out a real tree for Christmas, and our second year picking out a tree with Jackson.

2012-- my lil newborn is snuggled in there somewhere ;)

It's a little on the short side (we are used to putting it in our family room downstairs with much shorter ceilings!) but other than that we thought we did pretty good!)  

And here it is all prettied up!

I'm really looking forward to Christmas this year!  Jackson was so tiny last year (only 5 weeks old) so this year he will actually be able to open presents and enjoy all the time with family (and the new toys!) 

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Back to reality...

Well, tomorrow I have to go back to work after having a wonderful week off for Thanksgiving Break.  (Here in WV it is twofold because it is also the first week of deer season!)  It's weeks off like this that make me long to be a stay at home mom.  I truly enjoy spending every day with my little man-- not to mention I actually have the time to clean/do laundry without getting behind.  My house is clean for once now! lol.  But I HAVE to work, at least for now, so- I try not to dwell on it too much.

 I've also enjoyed having Brew home these last few days (He was off Thursday and Friday).  We have had a nice, low-key long weekend.  Thursday of course was our Thanksgiving festivities.  We enjoyed TWO huge dinners- one at Brew's aunt's and the other at my parents'.  Nothing beats spending time with family and eating lots of food!
Little man in his turkey onesie!

Friday I didn't get to embark on any black Friday shopping because we didn't have any room in our budget for it.  Brew went out to his parents' house early to start hunting, Jackson and I joined him later after lunch and spent the rest of the day there.  Brew shot once but missed so no deer for that day! 

Saturday we actually slept in for once (sort of).  Jackson woke up at 4am ready for the day (yikes) and wouldn't nurse back to sleep so I put him back in his crib and low and behold he went to sleep and slept until 8:45!  We had breakfast and Brew went back out to his parents' for try #2 at hunting,  Jackson's naps were pushed back a couple hours but he still took two good ones so it all worked out.  We had an afternoon visit from a friend and then had dinner after Brew got home (this time he was successful at getting a deer- a little one though!)
We stayed in our PJs for most of the day!

And then today, we had our usual church & lunch with my family-- then Brew took Jackson home for his afternoon nap and I went to clogging practice.  And then this evening we headed BACK out to my inlaws so that Brew could process the deer and we enjoyed a supper of FRESH fried deer tenderloin.  Yummy! 
Asleep on Daddy in church

With Daddy and his deer

Grinning at Pap
Now little man is in bed and I'm seriously thinking of following suit very soon!  I need to get to school early tomorrow because I don't have my plans finished (oops). 

November and December are my new favorite months.  I just love the holiday time of year.  Starting in November with Jackson's birthday, then Thanksgiving and finally Christmas!  Next Saturday we are planning on getting and putting up our Christmas tree.  So excited!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and that Monday is kind!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey everyone!  Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!!!  It's technically Black Friday (and no, I didn't shop this year-- I'm just not as in to it now that it encroaches on Thanksgiving- not to mention we didn't have the funds this week!)

So Thanksgiving Day last year we were bringing our little Turkey home from the hospital!  Now this year I have a silly, sweet, energetic, happy 12 month old!

I didn't do the "30 days of Thankfulness" thing on Facebook but I thought I would make a list of 30 things today that I am thankful for!

  1. First and foremost, I'm thankful for my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, who paid the ultimate price on the cross so that I can have eternal life!
  2. I'm thankful for my son Jackson!  He is most definitely a gift from God.  He has brought so much joy to our lives and our little family.  I love him more than I could ever say and I feel so blessed to be his mommy!
  3. I'm thankful for my loving, supportive, hardworking husband Brew.  He not only is a wonderful husband but he is my best friend and an amazing father!
  4. I'm thankful for my parents.  They raised me & my brothers in a loving, stable, Christian home.  I really appreciate them even more now that I am a parent myself. 
  5. Also I'm thankful that my mom is able to care for Jackson while I'm working.  I hate the fact that I have to work outside the home anyway, but it really gives me peace of mind knowing that Jackson is well cared for by someone he loves & I never have to worry about a thing.  I know that I would probably go insane if he had to be in daycare.  Not to mention-- she does it all for free! :)
  6. I'm thankful for my parents in-law.  They have treated me like a daughter from day 1, and they are always helping us out in one way or another.
  7. I'm thankful for my brothers.  We fought a ton when we were growing up (especially my middle brother who I am closest in age to)  but now I'm close with both of them and it's good to know that no matter what your siblings have your back!
  8. Along those same lines I'm thankful for my two sisters in law, Brew's sister Mandy and my brother's wife Amanda.  I always wanted a sister growing up and never had one until I got married (and my brother got married just a couple months after).  They are two of my best friends!
  9. I'm thankful for my three beautiful nieces and handsome nephew!  I love that Jackson gets to grow up with lots of cousins all close to his age.
  10. I'm thankful for my husband's *new* job.  I think he's really enjoying it and he is able to bring home a little more money and there are opportunities for advancement.  
  11. I'm thankful for MY job.  Even though I wish I didn't have to work, I'm thankful that I am able to at least do something I enjoy.  Teaching little ones and even better getting to share the Gospel with them.
  12. I'm thankful for our extended family-- grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins-- on both sides of the family.  We are so blessed to be in such a loving family :)
  13. I'm thankful for our home.  Many people don't get the opportunity to buy their own home and we did.  It may not be my dream house but we can make it into that over time.  And in the meantime I'm happy to live in a nice house with enough space for us.
  14. I'm thankful to live in the USA.  Things are by no means perfect with the government and economy now but even still I'm so blessed to be able to live in the land of the free-- BECAUSE of the Brave!  
  15. This goes along with the previous- but I'm thankful for our troops who are fighting for our country and those who have fought before them.  Also their families-- I can't imagine how difficult it must be to have a loved one so far away for so long and with them being in constant danger.  They make so many sacrifices and some don't even have their loved one return home, so I'm thankful for them as well.
  16. I'm thankful for all my friends!  I'm fortunate to have a few close friends that I can share most everything with!
  17. I'm thankful for my church family.  I have grown up in my church, was baptized, confirmed, and married there, and Brew and Jackson were baptized there too.  I love being a part of a church that teaches the Gospel without compromise!
  18. I'm thankful for technology-- as annoying as it gets sometimes-- I'm thankful for social media, skype, my iphone, and email.  All of these things allow me to stay connected with friends/family far away (especially my cousins!  Hi Stef!)
  19. I'm thankful for my good health.  I'm fortunate to never of had any major health issues.  I'm also thankful for the health of my baby boy!!!
  20. I'm thankful that I got the opportunity to travel to a few other countries.  Brew & I were able to visit Thailand in 2010 for my cousin's wedding & then visit three countries in Europe in 2011 to go see those same cousins-- haha thanks Stefani ;)
  21. I'm thankful for photographs/videos.  Perfect ways to capture and save memories.
  22. I'm thankful for our vehicles.  They aren't perfect (and we are trying to sell one lol) but they get us where we need to be!
  23. I'm thankful for music
  24. I'm thankful I have more than enough food to eat
  25. I'm thankful we live in a good school district.  I won't have to worry about that or trying to send Jackson somewhere else when he starts public school.
  26. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to earn a college degree.
  27. I'm thankful for my dogs.  Yes I complain about them a ton.  Their hair everywhere, them getting into stuff, etc.  BUT I'm glad they are our little protectors and that Jackson has the opportunity to grow up with dogs to learn to care for and such.
  28. I'm thankful for the four seasons we get to experience here in WV.  
  29. I'm thankful for central heat, extra blankets, and hot chocolate!
  30. I'm thankful for our family doctor.  I knew that I wanted to take Jackson to him instead of a pediatrician.  He is a wonderful doctor and a nice, upstanding, Godly man.  Lucky to have him caring for my son (and us!)

I hope every one of you has a happy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the day with your family & friends!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For this child I prayed...

So I've been working on a little project the last few weeks...

I compiled a bunch of video/photos from pregnancy to Jackson's first birthday party and edited it all together to make this:

It def. makes me tear up watching it-- I'm so glad God blessed us with this little boy.  Love him soooo much!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Monster First Birthday!

We had Jackson's Birthday Party yesterday!  I'm still in awe at how many people love our little guy... and at the amount of toys this kid got!  (Seriously, my living room has been taken over...)  Everything went great, I had fun planning it all.  Big thanks to my mom for all her help!!!

Assembling the monster cupcakes lol

The spread!  (not including the pizza)
Why are these people singing to me???

I love this picture so much-- hate that it turned out blurry though!  (I forgot to flip up the flash!)

Haha my kid doesn't like icing on his fingers!

Mmm yummy cupcakes Mommy!
lol- at least the tissue paper was a hit!

He loved unwrapping everything- but hated when I took it away to give him the next gift!
My whole world right there!

I wanted to insert some video clips here but it'll have to wait... youtube/blogger are both being super annoying and slow tonight.  I'll get them up here soon!