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.