Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Meal Plan Mon...errr Wednesday and some randomness

I haven't shared our meal plan in quite a while because we had mainly been doing repeats of things I had already shared. But I realized that our meal plan this week was all new recipes, and definitely worth sharing!

Sunday- Potato and Ham Soup - This was so good and so hearty--perfect for a cold winter night! The only alteration we made to the recipe was to intitially cook down the celery and onion along with the addition of some garlic with a little EVOO. I think I also added some Tony Chacheres in the seasoning phase.
Monday- Crock pot pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad- This makes about 10 servings so we made it a couple months ago for a football game watching get-together. We froze the leftovers in muffin tins which made perfect single serve portions that Justin enjoyed popping into the microwave and onto a bun for an easy weekday lunch. We ran out of the frozen leftovers, so he said we needed to make some more. I didn't argue--it's delicious AND super budget friendly. I don't think we altered this recipe at all!
Tuesday- Southwestern Chicken Pot Pie (from the freezer)- friends brought this dish to us right after we had Jackson and I loved it. It has become a staple in our house. Recipe below.
Wednesday- Pizza Casserole- I found this on Pinterest and it was delicious. We divided it into two square pans instead of the large casserole dish--one for now, one for the freezer! I do this with at least one dish a week. Work smarter, not harder people! Admittedly, this method (and an overabundance of breast milk)required the purchase of a deep freeze right after Jackson was born, but it keeps me sane!
Thursday- Leftovers! Because everything made earlier in the week resulted in more leftovers than we can eat with just lunches.

Southwest Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:
1/2 to 1 lb of cooked shredded chicken
1/2 onion
fajita seasoning to taste
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can corn (drained)
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup salsa
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2- 9" refrigerated pie crusts (it makes 2 so you can eat one right away and freeze the other for later!)
Directions:
1. Cook the chicken in the crock pot with the onion and sprinkled generously with the fajita seasoning and just a tiny bit of water.
2. Dump the rest of the ingredients into the crock pot with the cooked chicken.
3. Spoon mixture into prepared pie crusts.
4. Cover each with the top crusts. Crimp edges with fork to seal. Slit top crust before baking.
5. If baking immediately, bake uncovered at 400 for 40 minutes. If freezing, cover first with saran wrap and then tightly with 2 layers of foil. When baking the frozen one, remove from freezer and place in refrigerator 12-24 hours in advance so it can thaw some. Bake on 375-400 for 1 hr+ depending on how long it thawed. Done when the crust is golden brown and internal temp reached ~140 degrees.

And for something completely different but I just have to share...this is a typical Sunday morning in our house. Jackson watches cartoons while I make pancakes....

And gets annoyed when I get between him and "George".

After breakfast, he enjoys reading the newspaper with Dad...


Finally, I shared this on Facebook but I have to put it here for posterity. My sweet boy gave me a kiss on the cheek today as I was dropping him off at school. Not an open mouth, slobber on the face baby kiss. But a puckered-up, lip-smacking, sweet-as-can-be big boy kiss! He's growing up so fast!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful

A while back, I heard the quote "What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?" This was extremely convicting for me...we are so so blessed but don't often take the time to count those blessings. Since then, I have tried to be diligent about maintaining a daily spirit of thankfulness. In this month of Thanksgiving, we spent some time reflecting about the many blessings God has bestowed upon us and I wanted to share some of them here.
  • A faithful heavenly father whose grace is enough.
  • A wonderful, loving husband who does more than his fair share to make our family and our marriage work.
  • A happy, healthy, feisty, growing little boy who keeps us laughing.
  • Parents who gave me roots and wings and are constantly there for us for love and support.
  • Siblings who keep the happy memories of my childhood alive and well but who have also grown into some of my best friends.
  • Innumerable extended family members, including the best in-laws someone can hope for, who love us, pray for us, and help us in more ways than I can count.
  • Friends who love us like family.
  • A job that I am passionate about. I feel like the work I do matters and I feel like I am able to do my part to contribute to this University that I love.
  • A home that is way more than a roof over our head.
  • We eat well in our house, y'all.
  • Not only do we have a home to live in and plenty of food in our bellies, but we also are able to enjoy lots of extras like family vacations and all sorts of frivolous things we don't need, but that God blesses us with anyway.
  • Finally, I feel so blessed to have an outlet to document and share our family memories.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday in the (Piney)woods. This was our first major holiday spent at my parent's new house out at the lake. I thought it would feel weird, but it didn't. Home truly is where the heart (and all the yummy food) is.

I wasn't feeling well with a bad cold for most of the holiday, so I was very grateful for a little boy who took some long naps and multiple family members who were willing to keep said little boy out of trouble while I rested.

The boy got to spend lots of quality time with his Pop! While we were there, when awaking in the morning or from naps, his first exclamations were always "Pop? Pop? Pop!"

He enjoyed his time with Uncle Matt too!

He wasn't so sure what to think of Matt's big dogs. He enjoyed playing with Teauxbie's kennel and even figured out how to open the door. He realized he had made a big mistake though when Teauxbie eagerly rushed out. Matt pushed him back in the kennel and Jackson quickly shut the door back with a look on his face that said "I'm not going to try that again!".

Riding the 4-wheeler was a hit!

 He was even convinced he could drive it himself.

 I am so thankful for this busy little boy!

Everyone worked together to prepare the big spread for Thanksgiving. I made the green bean casserole and layered salad, Mom and Justin worked together to make the dressing, Mel made a ton of pies, Mom made the apple salad and sweet potato casserole, Matt made some awesome stuffed mushroom appetizers and Dad made the turkey!

 

And Carly wrangled our little turkey!

When I had pictured this Thanksgiving, I had of course imagined Jackson sitting at the table with us as we enjoyed the delicious meal. As it turned out, lunch was scheduled for 1:00--right at naptime. When he started getting cranky at 12:30, we decided to just give him his lunch early and he was down for the count before the blessing was given!

As mentioned before, Jackson is way way into trains right now. Pop had gotten out his electric train set and Jackson was delighted!

"I can do it, Pop!"
 

Out in the woods, there is virtually no internet, but lots of puzzles and board games!


 I wasn't the only one napping! Basically anyone who was holding baby Evie joined in her snoozefest.

On Thursday night, we got to spend some time with Jackson's Granny, Papa John and Uncle Cody. The Aggie game was also on, but that is all we are going to say about that. Jackson really enjoyed showing off all of his skills and getting to love on his grandparents. He also had fun chasing around their little dog, Missy!

On Friday morning, Justin got up really early to go fishing with his brother, Cody. And guess what? He actually caught something!



As is our family tradition, we loaded up on Friday to head to the tree farm to select and cut our own Christmas tree.

Santa!

It was awfully close to naptime...

But we pushed ahead...

The drought was hard on the trees and the pickings were much slimmer than usual. While we were searching for the best possible tree, Jackson decided he had enough. Thank goodness for Pop and his comfy shoulder!


Now comes the fun part of decorating it...stay tuned!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Game Day in Aggieland

Justin and I never missed a home football game when we were students at Texas A&M. Once I finished grad school and lost access to those discounted student tickets though, it was hard to justify spending nearly a grand per year to attend the football games. We would rather go on vacation! So with about 50,000 extra people showing up in town on game weekends, we usually hang out at home and stay far, far away from campus. Today though, we decided to brave the crowd and head up to campus for the pre-game festivities. While we didn't have tickets to the game, there was plenty to see and do, and we thought Jackson would enjoy the action.

With an 11:00 kickoff, it made for an early morning, but let's be honest--we would have been up with our early riser anyway! We headed up to campus, parked easily, and made our way to the stadium. We killed a little time walking around while waiting for the band to march in.


Daddy and Jackson patiently waiting.
And then what we had all been waiting for! 
Here comes the band!
I know it seems strange, but we had never watched march-in before. As students, we always just went straight in to the stadium to claim our seats and watched the Corps march-in from there. So it was a first for us too. Jackson thought the band was pretty cool.

We wanted to hang around to see the flyover just before kick-off so we made our way down to the Association of Former Students building to take some pictures with the giant ring.

 Jackson tried to run up the sides of the ring. He didn't get very far...

Our patience paid off and we got to see the flyover--B22 Ospreys.


Jackson's reaction to the flyover.
 On our way back to the car, we stopped at a few campus landmarks.

Jackson with Sul Ross.
And then to the Century Tree....Some of you may know that this is where Justin proposed to me. Thought to have been planted in 1898 and known by Aggies as the Century Tree, it is and has always been a major fixture on campus. As the legend goes, if a couple walks under the massive tree together, it is a sign that they will eventually marry. Moreover, if a man proposes to the woman he loves under the Century Tree, it is a sign that their marriage will last forever. It was fun bringing Jackson here! 
He thought the tree was awesome and took off running towards it!
 And he thought he was SO big when Daddy helped him sit up in the tree.


And of course he tried to climb it...



A stick from the Century Tree!

Jackson and Daddy watching a squirrel in a tree.
All in all, it was a fun way to spend the morning. We watched the game from the comfort of our own living room and enjoyed the blow out win over Kansas. Gig 'Em!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

17 Months

Our sweet boy is 17 months old!


Can you believe it? Only one month away from being 1 and A HALF!


The biggest development this month has been his language skills. He's saying and signing more words now than we can list here. He also understands and responds to multi-step instructions. I say, "Jackson, let's go to your room and pick out some books to read." He will giggle and then run down the hall to his room straight to the bookcase and start picking out books. It still surprises me sometimes when he actually does what we ask him to!


With these new language skills, he's also become much more of a companion. I've been babbling away to him since he was still in utero, but this month he began responding back regularly and coherently. He tells me about the things he is seeing as we drive down the road "choo choo!" or "bus!" and when I ask him about his day and what he did at school, he will usually respond with "outsigh!" (outside).


He understands now that everyone and everything has a name and he wants to label it. As we read a new book he will point at something and say "dat?" as in "what's that?" It's so so so fun watching him learn so rapidly. He now sees pictures of himself and he says "Jackson!" And he knows all of his friend's names from school and can identify them in a photo, pointing out the right person as we name them off.

He LOVES books and enjoys looking at them on his own or being read to. He turns the pages quite nicely and studies each page. We read the same books over and over and over. He really likes interactive books like ones with flaps or moving pictures.


He's generally such a happy go lucky boy and just plain silly. He loves to ham it up and make us laugh. Everything, from blocks to cereal bars on his breakfast tray, is a car and gets pushed around with accompanying "vroom vroom" sounds. Things he loves right now: trains, busses, Elmo, books, cheese, seeing pictures of himself on the camera, mommy, daddy and playing outside. 


He's started to become quite the climber. Pair that with a general fearlessness and you can imagine that my blood pressure has risen over the last month! All of his adventures have led to a few "boo boos" which Jackson calls "bo bos" and he likes to tell us about them. Whether it's a scratch, skinned knee or bug bite he will get really serious, point, and say "bo bo" with wide, sad eyes. He will keep pointing them out for a few days even after they've healed.


I can't imagine any more joy being wrapped up in this precious 25 pound package. He just makes my heart burst with love and pride! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend at Home

We did a whole lot of not much this weekend and it was wonderful!

On Saturday morning, Jackson first encountered the "antique" (it was mine when I was a child) rocking horse that Justin had pulled out of the attic on Friday night after he went to bed.

"A horsey? For me? Really?"

"Just what I've always wanted!"


There's some intense jockeying going on here.




We hung out at home, did our grocery shopping and watched the heartbreaking Aggie game. Seriously, I'm done being an Aggie fan. My heart just can't take it anymore. Jackson was devastated too and needed double the comfort...

On Sunday, Jackson woke up with an abundance of energy. When we find ourselves saying "No, Jackson!" more often than not, it's time to head to the park and let the boy run! So off to the park we went...

He thinks he's big stuff now that he can run and I just love how he runs with the one arm flapping! He's just so excited to be outside!
He's absolutely fearless at the park and scales the playground equipment with the confidence of a much older child. He has no interest in the "toddler" sized slides and such...oh no...go big or go home!

He did stop here for a few seconds to take a little break.

"Oooh a window."

 And this is what it looked like from the other side. LOL.

He loves the spiral slide although he can't quite do it on his own--he usually ends up getting turned around on it and going head first. So mom gets to go too.

On Sunday night, we hung out with friends for dinner. We decided that instead of spending a lot of money to go out to eat that we would just have a themed potluck at our house. We made some salsa chicken in the crockpot for tacos and everyone else brought the taco shells, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc. It was great! And so much easier with the kiddos too!

These two are starting to play together so nicely! I think Jackson has a little crush.

Mmmmm, these are good toys! Nom, nom.