Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Holiday Season

My favorite season is Fall. I love everything about it. I am pretty sure I own every pumpkin scent of everything that is available. Not only does my house have pumpkin scented candles, scentsy, and plug-ins around every corner, but my class room smells of pumpkin as well! I just cannot seem to get enough.

Football is the best sport. There is no better feeling than being in College Station, Texas (God's Country), at step off, with the Corps of Cadets, before a football game. The moment the canon booms and the band roars the sweet tunes of the Aggie War Hymn, every last hair on my arms are standing straight up, and I get that same chill down my spine. It is the feeling of pride that I have for the Aggies, and the commitment that I have to cheering them on every Fall season.

Fall leads up to Christmas, and Christmas is the grandest holiday. The smell of cinnamon sticks and orange slices in the crock pot  fills the house. The wassail is ready to be served, as mom's Christmas mugs are lined up perfectly on the counter awaiting the warm remedy to fill them. Christmas trees of every size are in each room, all decorated to a particular theme. Presents are piled under, next to, and around the main Christmas tree in the living room. All the traditional, matching stockings are hung on the mantel. Holiday music can be heard on the TV through the laughter and cheer of people celebrating the joyous occasion. Children are gathering cookies and milk for Santa to put on the fireplace. Then, they are snuggling up in bed and closing their eyes, hoping that he will come soon. There are so many reasons why Christmas is the best, and those are only a few.

My favorite season is Fall. I love everything about it. Football season, the weather changing from warm to cold, wearing leggings/skinny jeans with riding boots, ridiculously large sweaters and scarves, Starbucks seasonal drinks/cups, Hay rides, the leaves changing colors, school being back in order, and leading up to Christmas are all reasons why Fall is the greatest. I just can't seem to get enough.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The first impression

Tomorrow evening at 5:30pm the students who will be in my class this year will come meet me at "Meet the Teacher" night. In 1 hour, I will meet my entire class and make a first impression on 23 little friends.

During this time I think back to when I was in elementary school and how badly I wanted to please my teacher at all times. I actually remember thinking, "I hope she thinks I'm cool." I remember the week before school, the class lists were posted outside the school windows on large posters. My family would drive by the school multiple times a day to check and see if the list was finally posted. I could barely stand the anticipation of not knowing who would be in my class. Would I have the pretty, nice teacher that all the kids talked about? Would I have any friends in my class? Would my teacher like me? Butterflies would immediately rise in my stomach the moment we drove by and finally saw the colorful posters lined up against the windows. I would race from the car to find the spot where my grade level was posted and then search through every class list until I came across my name. Then I would go through the entire class list and assess the other names on the list. I would count how many friends I had in my class, how many cute boys, and of course, I would take note of any new names that I did not recognize from the year before. Will we become best friends? What are they like?

The night of Meet the Teacher, I would always dress my very best and fix my hair to look as nice as an elementary school girl can. I was always anxious, nervous, and excited when meeting my teacher. I am not and never have been shy. Even if I was nervous before I walked in the room, no one would know. I would turn on my confidence, walk up to my teacher, smile at her through my crooked  8 year old teeth, hold out my hand to shake hers and say, "Hi! I'm Carol Ann." If there is anything my Dad taught me, it is to always have a firm handshake and look people in the eyes when you talk to them. I remember practicing this at home with my parents from a very young age. A firm handshake, eye contact, and a smile tells people that you are confident.

Tomorrow night as I meet my new students, I will remember how I felt when I was in their shoes. I will make sure to shake hands, smile, hug, and tell every single child that I am SO glad that they are in my class and that I am glad they will be part of our "family" at school this year. I am making it a personal goal for each kid to walk out of my room with a smile, feeling confident about being a 4th Grader in my class, and looking forward to the first day of school.

Being a teacher is the best. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Verde Coffee

Before we left for Galveston, John and I decided to drive through Starbucks. He would have his first cup of really awesome coffee in over a year. We pulled up to the speaker and I ordered my usual Grande Skinny Cinnamon Dulce Latte. John leans out of the window and says, "uhh I'll have a Verde Coffee." The lady on the other end says, "umm a grande coffee?" John replied, "uhh yeah. Sure." I looked at him eyebrows scrunched in my state of confusion, wondering why my husband had attempted to order a green coffee in Spanish. "John. Verde Coffee?" I questioned. He laughed and said, "haha I meant to say Venti Coffee." I was relieved to know that green coffee was not some new weird favorite drink that he had picked up while living in the slums of Afghanistan for 9 months. Lol 

John is home!!!

The day I had been waiting for for 14 months came last Friday, August 2,2013. My husband returned safely from Afghanistan and was able to meet our 7 month old son for the first time. Words cannot describe how exciting and overwhelming the entire day was. It was surreal to see him hold our son and love on him. It made my heart melt! 

Since last Friday we have had a BBQ at our house in Dallas and all of our family and friends in that area came to see John. After the BBQ we came to Galveston, where we currently are, and have been here a week. It feels so good to be able to relax at the beach house with no agenda. 

John is catching on to Jackson's schedule very fast. It's weird how before coming home he had never changed a diaper in his life, and now he is changing poopy diapers, bathing, feeding, and cleaning up after Jackson like he has been here from day 1. I am so proud of how John has jumped in head first and is already being the best dad! 

I am very excited to see what the future holds for my sweet family!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

5 Gallon paint bucket stools- father/daughter project

Last year I bought stools for my classroom at Ikea. They were terrible. The screws always came loose and the stools fell apart. This year I decided to take a different approach to stools. 

While I was in College Station, Texas (Home of Texas A&M University!!!) visiting my parents, I went to Lowe's and bought  six 5 gallon paint buckets with the Texas A&M logo on them. My dad bought sheets of 1.5in. thick plywood. He measures the circumference of the paint bucket lids and went to town on cutting them out with a saw. Next he placed the newly cut piece of plywood on top of the lid and drilled a hole through both of them. He labeled each lid to its matching plywood with numbers. 
Next, he placed a screw through each piece of plywood.

To make cushions for the stools I bought a twin size egg crate mattress topper. This was cheaper than buying individual pieces of foam at Joanne's. I used the cut plywood as a stencil on my foam. 

Then, I also used the cut plywood as a stencil on my fabric that I would use to cover the entire seat. I bought a chevron black and white patterned fabric. I cut out 6 of these circles of fabric for my bucket seats.

Next, we took the circle plywood that had a screw through it and placed the egg crate on top of it. Make sure the flat side of the crate is up so you aren't sitting on bumps. Next, we wrapped the fabric around the plywood and foam and used a staple gun to secure it all together. 

After we had secured the foam and fabric to the plywood using a staple gun, we took the newly made cushion and a lid and pushed the screw through the hole that was previously made with a drill. Next, we put a washer flesh against the lid.
On top of the regular washer my dad added a different kind of washer to double secure the lid and the make sure when we tighten the bolt onto the screw it won't break the plastic.
The last step is to add the bolt and tighten it all the way until it bites up against the washers. Done! Now, you have a great cushion for your buckets and they can be used as stools! 

I know that many teachers have secured their cushions to the lid by using hot glue, but I feel like that will only last for so long. With the students constantly wiggling around on them, they need to be very secure. My dad is such a smarty pants for coming up with this great way to make cushions!

I went back later and hot glued some ribbon onto my buckets. 

You could also paint your bucket and jazz them up! Get creative!

Below is a pic of my dad in his taxidermy studio where we made my stools. He's awesome!!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Galveston-Summer 2013

After a long drive to College Station from the Frio river, a semi-short drive to Katy from CS and an easy drive to Galveston from Katy, we finally made it! We are unpacked and settled in for the week at my Grandmas bay house in Jamaica Beach, Galveston, Texas. 

Recently Jackson has been extra fussy during feeding time. He hates to drink his bottle and he fights me on it the whole feeding session. It has been exhausting the past couple of weeks. My mom and I were thinking that maybe he is teething and his gums are sore so sucking on the bottle nipple is painful. However, we have been in Galveston for 2 bottle feedings and both times he drank the whole bottle with no complaints. It was such a relief. I have been dreading feedings recently due to the constant crying/screaming on Jackson's part verbally and my part mentally. He also ate carrots and apple sauce for dinner. He opened his mouth for every bite and did not give me any trouble. It was really great. I am hoping that he keeps it up!

My grandma has tempurpedic mattresseson the beds in the sailboat themed room. They are amazing! She didn't think they were comfy enough so she bought tempurpedic mattress toppers as well! Basically, it is a dream bed. 

I really enjoy coming to this house. My grandma is super chill and laid back so you can do as you wish. That means if you want to lay on the couch and watch the Tour de France all day, go for it! Or if you want to take the kayak or paddle board out in the canal or ocean, she's cool with that too. 

My Uncle took my little cousins to the beach tonight while I stayed back and gave Jack a bath and put him to bed. They also took Kyle (my dog) with them to the beach. When they got back they told stories about Kyle jumping in the ocean to fetch after a ball. They even said that a man came over and asked if he could throw the ball/play with Kyle for a while because he loves dogs but due to his hectic work schedule can not have one. My uncle mentioned that more than one person came up to him and told him that he had such a cool dog. I guess people are amazed by a wiener dog who loves water! 

I am excited to take Jackson to the beach this week for the first time! I will for sure take lots of pictures!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Dollar Game

Tonight our family played our annual "Dollar Game" at the Frio River. There are about 50 people that attend our family reunion, including family friends. To play the game we connect all the picnic tables from our cabins so there is room for everyone to consolidate in one area. 

Game directions: Each person starts with 3 dollars. You roll a die, if you roll a 1 you pass a dollar to the left, roll a 2 and pass a dollar to the right, roll a 3 and put a dollar in the middle, roll anything else and you keep your money! Simple and sweet!

The best part of the game is that even if you lose your money, the person on either side if you could roll a 1 or 2 and put you back in the game. Eventually, only one person is left with a dollar or so and they get ALL the money from the middle! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer has begun!

Summer finally feels like it has begun! Jackson, Kyle and I are currently in College Station at my parents new house in King Oaks. It is VERY nice! I always love being in CS. It never gets old. I could move here. Texas A&M is home. :) 

On Wednesday we are leaving for the Frio River. It's our family reunion for my mom's side of the family. It's a blast! We all look forward to driving up to our cabins as we instantly feel all of the stress we have been carrying all year dissipate. We jump out of the car and hurry to be first in the cabin. There is nothing like opening the cabin door and smelling the fresh Cedar wood. Although the cabins are not all new, the cedar still smells freshly cut. After unloading the car we put on our swim suits, load up on some SPF, grab some beer and a lawn chair and head down to the river to claim our spot for the weekend by putting up our large A&M canopy. It's always a race against the other vacationers to get the best spot down by the river. Let's just say our family usually wins, and we end up with the most coveted spot in the river. 

We spend All weekend either floating the river or sitting in a chair that is sunk halfway down in the river, wedged between some rocks. We soak up the sun,throw some cold ones back, jump off the rope swing, converse and joke around with family and friends, and listen to some good ole' country tunes. After a few hours you come no one has gotten up to walk back to the cabin to go pee?? HAHA

 In my mind, there is nothing more relaxing than floating down the river in a tube, and closing my eyes while I enjoy the feeling of the sun warming my skin. With one hand on a cold beverage and the other resting behind my head with George Strait or Alan Jackson playing at a camp site close by. To me, that must be what heaven is like. Instead of walking up to the gates one day, I imagine we will float up.

I am very excited to introduce Jackson to my favorite week of the year (Frio Week). I am sure that it will easily become his favorite week as well. At the same time, I am sad that John will not be with us. This would have been his 5th year to come! He will be very envious of all of us having a blast at the river while he is still stuck in Afghanistan. Boo! It is time for him to come home!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Good Friends, Good Food, and The Bachelorette

Tonight I invited some girl friends over to watch The Bachelorette. You know, it's that show where a girl tries to find her husband by going on elaborate dates in exclusive locations with tons of men. Basically, it is not realistic. Hence the reason why only a few of the couples have made it past the show. However, none of that makes watching the show any less interesting. Actually, us girls love it! We love to sit around the TV, drink wine with the girls, and dissect every second of each episode. So, naturally I was ecstatic that 9 of my girls were coming over and bringing wine and a pinterest dish to share.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to have girls over. Everyone was marveling over how adorable Jackson is (duh lol) and reassuring me that I should not cut his hair. Jackson's long luscious baby curls have become a topic of conversation with every single person I come in contact with these days. Either they have seen him in person or on Facebook and just can not believe how much hair he has. He is my first child, so to me it is normal. I guess I am not used to looking at babies all the time. I was unaware that it was unusual to have a full head of curly hair at 5 months old. Everyone kept telling me that his hair would fall out or he would develop a bald spot on the back of his head from sleeping on his back. Well, none of that happened. Instead, his hair just grew longer and began to curl at the ends. Basically, he is absolutely precious and I am obsessed with him. haha. Anyyyywayys, the girls and I had fun talking all about Jackson and some of them were meeting him for the first time. He loved every second of the attention he was getting from these pretty ladies. Some of the girls came upstairs with me to watch his bedtime routine (bath, bottle, bed). After Jackson went to bed, we turned The Bachelorette on. I had it on DVR so we could skip the commercials (Thank Goodness!). I had a great time drinking wine with the girls while analyzing each man on the show.

Sore Throat Update: The antibiotics did not seem to work. I was on day 5/6 of a double z-pack when my mother-in-law told me that she had the same symptoms as me last year and antibiotics did not work for her. Instead, she just took an antihistamine and it dried up whatever drainage she had and her throat stopped hurting. I dug through my medicine cabinet to look for anything I had that said Antihistamine on it. When I saw that bright pink box I knew I had struck gold. Benadryl. I immediately took 2. The box says 1 to 2. Which in my book, means take 2. Literally 45 minutes later my throat pain went from a 7 to a 3. It was amazing. All this sore throat drama the past few days over drainage from allergies? seriously??? I am still taking the Benadryl until my throat pain goes to a 0. Another plus is that I sleep like a baby while on it. No wonder my mom gave it to us before long car trips when we were kids! HA!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Under the Weather

Being sick sucks. A few days ago my throat started hurting on the left side every time I swallow. As always, the moment I swallow and feel pain I pick up my iPhone and urgently scroll through my contacts to find my doctors number. 

After waiting for an hour and listening to kids cry in the waiting room, the Dr. was finally able to see me. He told me to open my mouth while he shined a light in and used what seemed like a yard stick to hold my tongue down. Of course, I gagged and almost threw up. As he ignored my gagging, he told me that I had tonsillitis. I was thinking...again..for the 3rd time?? Seriously?? 

He prescribed me a double z-pack and sent me on my merry way. 

3 days into the double z-pack I feel no different. I am hoping that it will kick in tomorrow and my throat will magically stop feeling like shards of glass every time I swallow. We shall see. 

Thankfully, I have amazing family to help me out. My Aunt came over today. She brought me some more medicine, fed Jackson lunch, washed bottles, and let me take a nap! I love her! I owe her big time. :)

Jackson projectile vomited half of a bottle this morning. All over my new floral hand woven rug. Then he turned and smiled at me. I stared at him in disbelief before putting him in his exer saucer, grabbing a dry towel and getting on my hands and knees to soak up as much formula as I could. While I was doing this, Jackson was giggling and bouncing himself all around in his little contraption. I'm not sure why he did that, but he ate well and was happy the rest of the day.

I am trying to keep my distance from him, so he does not get sick. He has been congested (maybe why he projectile vomited?), but other than that he is a very happy boy! 

I was sad that due to me not feeling well and Jackson's vomiting episode this morning, we missed the first birthday party that Jackson has been invited to. :( We even went to Target and bought a cute gift and everything! Boo!

Hope tomorrow goes better than today! Taking life one day at a time. John can not get home soon enough....

-Carol Ann

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Baby Blues

The first 8 weeks of Jackson's life were very difficult for me. I was struggling with the fact that John was not home and my whole entire life had just changed in the blink of an eye. Jackson was tongue tied  at birth, so he was not able to properly latch for breast feeding. It was very stressful. People do not talk about how hard breast feeding is. In every class I went to, all they talked about was how convenient it was. I definitely think that breast milk is best for babies. God made it, so it has to be perfect. However, just because I believed that it was best, does not mean that it was easy. Breast feeding? Convenient? All I wanted to do was make a bottle, hand Jackson to whoever wanted to feed him, curl up in my bed and sleep. But when you are breastfeeding, or even pumping, you can not do that. I did not realize how much I love sleeping until I had a baby. I love sleep. I will never take it for granted again. Haha.

Jackson was/still is a LAZY eater. When he was a newborn, he would breast feed for an hour. At the time, he was eating every 2-3 hours. People, that is from start to start! It was exhausting! If he ate at 2pm, then he would eat again at 4pm. So he would eat from 2-3pm, then he would nap while I washed bottles, did laundry, cleaned the house, took a shower, etc. At 4pm, it was time to eat again. I was extremely stressed. I felt guilty because I knew I was supposed to be enjoying every second of having a newborn, but I was not. I just wanted John to be home. I even had wonderful help at home. My best friend who lived with me would help me with night time feedings and made dinner almost every night! It was amazing! I do not know how I would have made it without her. The weird part is that even though I had help, I was still not content. I just missed John so much. My heart was hurting so bad, and I just wanted him to be home with us. I wanted my family to be complete.

When Jackson was about a month old, we found out after MANY crying days and nights that he had a lactose allergy. He was put on Nutramigen hypoallergenic formula. This stuff is gold. I do not care if it costs a jillion dollars. It made Jackson stop crying and start smiling. He no longer had gas in his stomach that was causing pain. This also meant that I was able to stop breastfeeding. Unless you are a mom, you will not understand the guilt that you feel when you stop breast feeding. I had really mixed emotions about it. I felt relief. Relief that I no longer had to fight Jackson on breast feeding and that I would no longer have to pump. At the same time, I felt guilt. I felt guilty, because I know that God intended breast milk to be the sacred food for babies. I justified it by telling myself that Jackson would no longer have stomach pain on Nutramigen and I was doing what was best for him. It just made it that much sweeter for me, because I hated breastfeeding with a passion. We were not friends.

I saw the light when Jackson was 10 weeks old. That is when I went back to work and magically the same week he started sleeping through the night. I love school and teaching. I thrive on routine. I had missed my students, and I could not wait to start working with them again.

Concerning Jackson, life from 10 weeks on has been a breeze. He is a happy boy with a head full of hair. I love him more than I have ever loved anything in life. I can not wait until his Daddy comes home and gets to hold him for the first time. That will be a moment that I will never forget.

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes....Baby Jackson

John and I met at Texas A&M in 2008. I was a freshman, and he was a junior. It was love at first.....Yes! He is 21 and can buy alcohol! Haha but really, I loved him right away. I adored the way his worn out wrangler jeans and pearl snap shirt fit snug around his 180lb. perfect bod. My heart was always thumping out of my chest with joy when we would go dancing, and he would lead me around the scuffed up floors at Hurricane Harrys. I just couldn't get enough of him. The way he loved the Lord, his family, friends, country, and of course Texas A&M University, only made me grow fonder of him.

We dated for 2 years before John asked me to be his wife. They were the most magical two years of my life, so I knew that it could only get better. We had an amazing, country wedding on July 2, 2011. All of our family and friends showed up to support us in joining our lives together.

As life went on, John went to work at MedAssets and I began my teaching career. We were extremely satisfied living in a hip area in Plano, Texas called The Shops at Legacy where you can walk to the bars and restaurants. It was fun. We met many great friends while living there that we are still close with today.

In May, we found out that I was pregnant and that John was going to be deployed to Afghanistan with the Texas Army National Guard. May of 2012 was a stressful month for us. We were overjoyed about me being pregnant, but heartbroken that John was having to leave. He would have to leave in June to attend training for 5 months before deploying. We decided to move out of our apartment, store most of our belongings and move me in with my amazing Aunt and Uncle. They offered to help me out while I was pregnant and then with the new baby while John was away. In September I realized that I was going to need more space once the baby came. I decided to move into a town home only a few streets away from my Aunt and Uncle. My best friend from college moved into the town home with me. We decorated the place and set up a nursery for baby Jackson, who would be arriving in January.

On January 4th, I went to the hospital with my mom and sister-in-law, who were going to be in the delivery room with me. I was scheduled to be induced so we could somewhat plan for John to be able to Skype for the birth. 7 1/2 hours into labor it was time for baby Jackson to arrive. John was on Skype. We had perfect connection and he was able to see his son being born. It was beautiful. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of love I felt for Jackson when they laid him on my chest for the first time and we had skin-to-skin time. At the same time I felt extremely sad that John was not able to be with me in person to witness this miracle.

It is hard to explain how you can feel love and sorrow at the same time. I did. I felt joy in having given birth to such a beautiful baby. At the same time, my heart was aching every single day because I missed John so much.

As life went on, I learned how to cope with John being gone. Jackson was growing so fast and I wanted to soak in every second.

Overall, this deployment has taught me to slow down, enjoy life, and breathe.