Bye Bye 2009

I'll admit, I stole this from another blog I follow...but what a wonderful way to end a year! Jeff is in bed, resting up for his early morning, and Jack is in bed, resting up for his 2am feeding (although with our newly purchased Brookstone noisemaker, I'm hoping we'll make a little later...dare I say through the night????) I was a little nostalgic of the year gone by and happy to reflect on the joys that 2009 brought us!

Reflection Questions for 2009

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
OMG, Jack, for sure!!

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Again, Jack...especially the first month...I know Jeff and I argued more in that month than we have our whole relationship. What a tough time. Yes, yes, people told us it would be hard...but there's no way you can imagine it until you live it! And then there was the whole breastfeeding trauma...

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
I hate to say Jack again, but I just didn't know how much I would love him! Is it a cop out that the first 3 answers are all the same???

5. Pick three words to describe 2009.
Having a baby!

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2009 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
A bit harder...I'll go with "becoming a mom".

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2009 (again, without asking).
Uh..."becoming a dad"?

8. What were the best books you read this year?
This makes me realize how little I've read this year. I mean I feel like all I've read are "getting ready for baby" books and "what to do with your baby once it's here" books! I have loved Your Pregnancy/Baby's First Year Week by Week

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
I feel like this is getting repetitive...Jack! I remember in the beginning, no matter how much I loved him, I didn't know him. All I knew was that he was hungry and peed and pooped all the time. Now, after only 3.5 months, I have an actual relationship with him! He knows me, and I know him. I recognize signs that others don't. We have our own special relationship and I just love it. And my relationship with Jeff has changed into a truly wonderful relationship of help and support. It has been such a blessing to see him fully embrace the daddy role! I love it.

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
Well, let's see...becoming a mommy! What a huge paradigm shift.

11. In what way did you grow emotionally?
I have definitely learned that I'm not as important as I thought I a good way!

12. In what way did you grow spiritually?
Man do I have a long way to go. Jeff and I were talking tonight that we have such a long way to go...and such a responsibility! My prayer for this year is that I would embrace the discipline of spending time in the Word each day...that I would grow closer to the Lord so that I can truly manage our household in a way that is honoring to Him!

13. In what way did you grow physically?
Let's see...does gaining 50 prego pounds count? Let's hope that next year I can answer this question with "losing all of my prego pounds!"!

14. In what way did you grow in your relationships with others?
I have become inherently able to sympathize and empathize with the mom of the screaming infant at Target. Bless her heart!

15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?
I LOVE dressing's embarrassingly enjoyable! Sometimes he has to change if I decide I don't like what he's wearing...I even love doing his laundry because it means I get to dress him in my favorite outfits soon! It's silly...I mean what the heck am I going to do when he has an opinion!

16. What was your most challenging area of home management?
Everything except dressing Jack. Seriously, I think from pretty much January through November I didn't cook a meal, my closet was the unfolded pile of laundry on the couch, dishes were always in the sink, we had a minor bug problem in the kitchen due to the lack of Lots of challenges there...

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Laying on the couch with my feet up to try (unsuccessfully, I might add) to prevent my feet from swelling.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Spending time with Jack!! It's truly hard for me to thing that anything happened before September 13th, 2009...I just don't remember it!

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
Staying home with Jack is worth any monetary sacrifice we might have to make. Nothing is worth missing out on the monumental moments I get to be a part of day in and day out! Every poop, every screech, every roll is worth being here for!

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2009 for you.
This one's tough! We lost a lot of wonderful people in 2009...Jeff's grandma and grandpa, the wonderful friend who set Jeff and I up on our first date, the sweet friend who recommended me for the teaching position where I met so many dear friends...and we gained Jack, who has been a bigger blessing than I could have possibly imagined. So really, I don't have a phrase or statement, just thankful for the blessings of friends and family, and can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in 2010!

Maybe next year my answers will be more varied...probably not...but maybe?

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

He rolled!!!!!!!!!!!

And rolled again!

I am such a proud mama!!

Of course, I've been videoing tummy time for weeks...did I video it today? Nope! Of course not. So this is video of rolls 2 and 3...close enough!


Some pictures don't really need an entire blog about, but are just too cute not to share!!

Jack is absolutely adorable in the bath these days. He's just discovered that if he moves, the water moves...and he loves it! He will be laying in his bath tub and all of a sudden, get a very serious look on his face and then do a full body spaz out, and splash the water all over! He loves it. He's so cute here in his hooded cute!

Tired little feaster...

This hairdo has a few names...Alfalfa and the cutest Who in Whoville to name a few!
I mean, the resemblance IS uncanny!

Motherhood failure #?

Before I even start, I know I'm a decent mother, I'm not really posting this to get all kinds of sweet encouragement (although I'll take it!), just a story in the life of a new and learning mom!

I've bragged before about how good Jack is. He is just a stellar baby! Great sleeper, loves his bottle, smiles at everyone, is even beginning to laugh! He tolerates being toted around town like a pro and I swear he loves cruising the isles with me at Target. Going down for a nap is painless and going down at night is a cinch! He does not fuss unless he's tired or hungry. And this is what I was telling Jeff last night. He is so good!! We're so blessed, I'm a little fearful of what #2 will be like!

Today started like any other day. Actually, Jack slept in until 7:30, which is a small treat since he's usually up at 7am like clock work. See? He's so good! Anyways, up and smiling, he took his bottle like a pro! I got him dressed in his adorable new outfit from his cousins and slipped on his brand spankin' new socks. I was excited because the outfit fit, and we've barely found socks that fit his skis and these new socks do! What a great start to the day. He was down for a nap at 9 as usual. He woke up a little early, but that's no surprise because Gwen was here this morning, and sometimes she wakes him up. Not that I'm complaining! You know I love Gwen!

Anyways, he was up at about 10, which is a pretty short nap for him. He's almost 4 months, and I've been reading that their sleep schedule will change soon, that he'll go from 3 naps to 2, so I was thinking that maybe this is just the beginning of his changing schedule or something! He looked tired around 11:00, so I swaddled the little bugger and put him in his Lovely Lamb swing for a little nap before he was scheduled to eat at noon. Jeff was home so I headed to Babies R Us to stock up on 3+ month pacifiers and bottle nipples (which I was super excited about! Oh, how life changes!).

I came home at about 12:30 and he was up and at 'em! Jeff said he'd slept for all of 45 minutes. Strange. Jeff heads out for a meeting, and he was looking sleepy so I put him down. Weeeeeeeell, he was having none of it. And by none of it, my sweet little easy napper was fussing and crying like he was ready to get up and mad about it! As I said, he doesn't do this! So, I thought, well, maybe I misread his signs and he's not tired...part of the new sleep schedule? Oh, I let him fuss and cry for a bit, but nothing was happening! He wasn't drifting off or anything! Just crying like someone took his puppy! Mom was here so I got him up and they played for a bit...until he started fussing and looking tired again...swaddled and in swing...crying like a banshee. Really? Ok, so this goes on and on...all afternoon...fussy and looking sleepy, swaddled, in his swing, crying like a mother. What the heck!!!! What happened to my sweet baby boy!!! I'd also read about the 4th month wakeful period...was this it?

Then we thought he might be teething. Sure it's early, but Jack is soooooo advanced, maybe he's teething early! We got out the teething rings, I put some in the freezer for him to try later...we had a vibrating teether that a friend gave us, so we got that out to try...nothing.

Jeff got him to sleep once and he slept for about 20 minutes, I got him to sleep once and he slept for about 10 minutes, but that was it! Of course, we're worried. What if something was wrong? Nothing in the bag of tricks was working! I gave him some Tylenol, we'd given him Gripe Water (which I swear cures all kinds of ailments!) and nothing was working! If this was how the 4th month was going to go, I guess we were going to have to baton down the hatches for a month!

This goes on and on until bath time at 7:30. Yes, he's been up basically ALL DAY LONG! We were pretty much at our wits end. Jeff's getting the water ready while I undressed him and put him in the tub. Jeff's bathing him and notices a little ring around his calf. Like you would see when your sock's too tight, and it's cutting into your skin all day long, cutting off your circulation and causing you pain. Really? Could this be it? Could this be the culprit? Is this why my sweet baby turned into a sleepless psycho baby today?

We finish the bath, give him his night time bottle and swaddle him up, put him in bed. He's been sleeping soundly ever since. I feel terrible. My poor baby had been in pain all day long!! And I didn't even think about checking out his socks? Now realistically, I know it's not crazy that I didn't think to check to see how tight his socks were...but how could I not think to check how tight his socks were!!!

So, lesson learned. If your baby is crying, check his socks. I think for the rest of Jack's life, any time he's upset or in a fussy mood, I'll ask him if his socks are too tight.

It's's snowing! Winter time is here!

Jack's first Christmas was fabulous, and here are a few pics to prove it!

First of all, it snowed on Christmas Eve, which was so fun! I told Jack that if it snowed next year at this time, he'd enjoy it a whole lot more than he did taking these pictures...

Here Jack is, all dressed up and ready to head to bed so Santa can come! Jeff and I have had many discussions about how we'll handle Santa...Jeff's big thing is that Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa! Which I completely agree with! But Santa is a lot easier to explain than Jesus. He was more against Santa when he thought Saint Nicholas was a pagan saint, but thanks to Mark Driscoll and his Christmas tweets, he was enlightened to what I'd been saying all along, Saint Nicholas was a real saint who gave to the poor and needy. Now, not that we're poor or needy, we have more than enough, but it gave him a little peace about Santa. Never thought I'd be thankful of Jeff and his twittering!

Jack sat with Grammy while I opened his Christmas presents. He got some good stuff! We decided that we wouldn't necessarily shower Jack with Christmas gifts this year...I mean, when the boy needs something I just run to Target to get it! There's no waiting for Santa at this point in the game...especially with all this exponential growing he's doing lately! I explained that Santa was coming to Grammy and Nana's house this year! And boy did he!

And here is in his adorable Christmas outfit! His first pair of khakis!

And here are Katherine and Mom in their cheesy Christmas picture! They should have done a Christmas card! :)

For some unknown reason, my family always takes a picture of the holiday dinner table...don't know why...but here is the obligatory Christmas dinner table picture! And yes, I have Christmas china. What?

Girls family Christmas picture!

Jack also spent some quality time with Nana!

Three important things about this Christmas picture.

1. Katherine is holding Jack...something she's never done standing up!

2. Jack is so stinkin' cute looking at his great grandpa

3. The elbow of the vintage Santa beside Katherine. This Santa has been around since my dad was a kid! Grandpa and Grandma would put it up every year and us kids would have a picture next to it. Now, the reason that Santa's not really in the picture is that I'm in front of Santa...and there will be no more pictures of me posted until I spend the month of January at the YMCA.

So, we had a busy and wonderful Christmas! In posting on the blog, I always see holes in my picture pictures of either Grandpa, no pictures of Aunt Alison and Uncle Andy, no pictures of Jeff...before Jack came along, I was a terrible picture taker. Not that I've necessarily improved, but I'm taking more than 3 pictures a year which is a big step! I could definitely improve and hopefully will, because I hate when I don't have pictures of everyone at every function!!!

So, if you were a part of our Christmas festivities and are one of the undocumented ones, please accept my apologies...and remind me to whip out my camera next time!

Oh my heart...

One of the best things about this time of the year is the get-togethers. Yes, they're tiring, and sometimes you wonder what they're really for, but I love them. I love seeing people and just getting together which is what this time of year is sometimes about!

Tonight (yes, tonight) we had our fabulous City Group over for a Christmas party of sorts. The best kind, actually! Everyone brought an appetizer to share. What's not to love about eating appetizers for dinner? They were outstanding. My favorite? This wonderful sausage and cream cheese filled croissant. Doesn't sound good when I type it here, but I will be getting the recipe, that's for sure!

Anyway, Jack was getting sleepy, so I snuck off to get him ready for bed. Strangely enough, the changing table is one of Jack's favorite places. I swear, he would lay there and talk and coo all day long!!! I think it's because our faces are so close to each other, it just makes conversation so easy! So tonight, we were just chatting and carrying on as just like normal I was changing him and putting is quickly shrinking PJ's on.

Side note, he's completely growing out of all of his clothes....I remember how strange it was going through that with the newborn clothes...but these are all 3 month clothes! The other day, I put on some PJ's that were way to big on him a month ago, and he can't even straighten out his legs, they're so short!

But I digress...we were talking and chatting, I was telling him that he was growing out of all of his clothes, and this would be the last time he could wear his alligator pajamas when...he laughed!! I mean, there wasn't that whole, "Wait a minute, I think he might have laughed but I'm not sure...maybe it was just a loud coo". No, this was a full on laugh! It was the most precious thing I've ever heard. My heart melted and I teared up. Before he started to chatter so much, I couldn't wait to hear what his voice would sound like and since then, I've been so anxious to hear what his laugh would sound like. What a precious precious sound!! Apparently he thought it was pretty funny that he wouldn't get to wear his alligator pajamas any more (I'm sure it has nothing to do with this random Chinese accented silly talk that I've been doing lately...where did that come from, I don't know), because I kept talking and he kept laughing! There has been nothing sweeter so far.

It's easy to tell he's learning how to laugh, Jeff has gotten him to kinda chuckle a bit when he's tossing him up but nothing I've done has evoked any type of giggle until tonight. So he laughed a few times, and then I could tell he was trying to remember how to do it again, and just came up with a shriek! The concentration on his face was precious.

I don't want to ever forget that sweet moment.

Funny part of the story? When the party started, Jack was sleeping so I took the baby monitor into the dining room so I could hear when he woke up. I never turned off the monitor....which means that everyone at the party is now familiar with my Chinese accent silly talk. Great.

So, here's his little giggle with Jeff. He LOVES this new game of toss the baby!! And be sure to check out his little rat tail...he's lost a lot of his baby hair all over, but recently he's lost this crazy little strip in the back of his head from turning his head back and forth when he's sleeping, thus leaving...a rat tail. People tell me it's cute and not to be embarrassed. I've been thinking I might braid it and put a bead on the end like Jordan from NKOTB.

3 Months!

Twelve weeks ago last Sunday, Jack was born! Hard to believe it's been twelve weeks. In many different ways!

Three months is supposed to be a big deal. They say it's like a turning point. We'll see...I don't want to put too much pressure on the little guy to sleep through the night, roll over, know, all the exciting things about being 3 months old!

Lately, the newest things have been:

He LOVES to put his hands in his mouth. He's not particular as to which one, and really, would prefer to put both in there!! And excessive hands in the mouth mean excessive drooling. Good times!

He's not hating tummy time as much. There is little love, but at least he's not crying as soon as he's turned over! He chatters and flails about which is just fun (and funny!) to watch! And with the drooling, when he's done with tummy time, his play mat is soaking wet!

Today he was a champ and was holding his head up like nobody's business! You can also hear the chatter that I'm talking about...
He is "talking" like crazy!!!! He's come up with some new sounds lately that are just funny! And much louder than they used to be! And truly, they aren't "coo's", it's more like yelling...

Bath time used to be the worst thing ever. He hated it with the passion of a thousand burning suns! Now, it's fun time. He loves it, and although he wasn't wanting to smile for the camera, you can tell he's not loathing his water time. You do have to becareful, though. Sometimes a quick fountian appears in our bath tub!

He is "playing" with the toys on his bouncy seat and on his play mat! It's so fun to watch him grow and do new things.>
And the truly amazing thing is that I'm not teaching him to do anything. Nobody is, it's just the way God designed it, and we're just so blessed to be able to watch Jack grow!

Aunt Kat's Birthday

On Sunday, I hosted my sister's birthday celebration, filled with good ole' comfort food and fun times. Mom made smothered pork chops and I made mashed potatoes and spinach casserole. It was delish! Jack was the center of attention. He tends to steal attention from pretty much everything these days...


The other day, we were driving around, running errands, and we look in the rear facing mirror to see Jack was in his cute little car seat, forcibly shoving a burp cloth in his mouth. With that in mind, we decided it was time to introduce Jack to his lovie. What's great about this part of being a parent is that you can dress them however you like, take them wherever you like, talk to them however you like, and they don't say much about it! Same with the lovie!

Jack has received many lovies as gifts, and I'm pretty sure we'll go through all of them at some point, but this time, Jeff and I get to choose which one he'll love first! It's kinda a lot of pressure. If he's like his aunt, he'll lug that thing around with him until he's 25! Hopefully seems like with girls, that's acceptable, but boys? Not so much. At all. The lovie fairy will have to make a visit, much like the pacifier fairy visited our house about 28 years ago...and with Jack's love affair with his paci, I'm thinking the pacifier fairy might once again find her way to my house!

Anyways, we chose this adorable owl lovie and our good friends gave Jack. Sooooo cute!

Glory to God

As I mentioned a while back, in June, a very good friend of mine found out that the baby she was carrying was not developing properly due to fluid around her heart and lungs and even if carried to term, life would be short. In August, their baby girl, Glory, was delivered and went home to meet her maker. As Jeff and I have watched this couple go through one of the greatest trials we as humans can possible go through, we have seen them cling to the good God they know and trust.

Last night was a true testimony to that trust and faith. Before they knew that Glory was very sick, they had planned on having a baby shower. Not a typical baby shower, but a baby shower to benefit the orphans that are lacking the necessities in life, not just the monogrammed birth cloths and recieving blankets that we think of with baby showers here in the USA. The shower they had in mind would benefit orphans in Ethiopia. They felt a special connection to Ethiopia after the Zeb had the opportunity to travel there in the spring and saw the truth that lived behind those compelling commercials that we see on TV.

After Glory was delivered, they knew that her sweet short life didn't mean that they couldn't still do something to help others, in fact, even more compelled them to do something for others. Last night, Jeff and I attended a A Shower for Glory, which was a fundraiser to benefit orphans in Ethiopia in Glory's honor. Again, this was not a typical baby shower. Over 200 people attended and listened to their heart wrenching story, and were compelled beyond reason to give. Again, not couture onesies, but money to feed and clothe children. Makes my onesie making kick seem pretty darn insignificant.

James 1:27 says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Jeff and I have talked about adoption for a while now. Not adopting because we can't have our own children, but adopting to fill a need. To raise up a child that has no other family, and man if last night didn't cinch the deal! The Lord knows when and where, but we do feel called. Strangely enough, even more so since we've had Jack. Last night, we listened to a man from the Gladney center speak about mothers who didn't have the resources to feed their babies. My heart broke. I'm upset about not being able to breastfeed my baby, and these mothers don't have anything to feed their babies. I can guarantee, mine weren't the only tears shed last night.

From both Zeb and Ally's beautifully prepared speeches to the Gladney's Ethiopia video, the night was a wonderfully God glorifying event and I know when they meet Glory at the resurrection, she will be proud to know her mom and dad.

Zeb and Ally were featured in the Star Telegram last week, and they'll be featured on CBS11 next week on Texans with Character. I'll be sure to post the video once it airs! If you feel compelled to donate to their cause, click here and you can donate now. And be sure to watch the video. It will make you cry!

Thanksgiving Feasting

I know this is totally out of order, which bugs, but what are you going to do?

Jack's first Thanksgiving was a hit. He was as cute as always, sporting his "My First Thanksgiving" onesie, and grinning at family and friends all over Texas. Thankfully, we had two First Thanksgiving onesies because this one was spit up all over shortly after this cute pic...

We headed to Palestine for a few days to hang out with the East Texas crowd. I grew up with my cousin and consider him more of a brother than a cousin. He and his family come in for Thanksgiving every year, so Thanksgiving has become the Palestine holiday.

My cousin's two boys are adorable and love, LOVE, jumping on the ancient trampoline that for some reason still resides in my childhood back yard. We're waiting for someone to fall through one day!

Aunt Kat isn't a fan of tiny babies. It think it's the crazy head bobbing or something...anyways, she is getting really good at feeding Jack! It's the one time he's surely not going to head bob or start crying!!

Dad loves little Jack and loved holding him! And so did Jeffrey. He's had a little practice!

And of course, the tolken family picture. Jack's first Thanksgiving picture! As you can see, this is the OTHER First Thanksgiving onesie...

Of course, we had to take a trip out to the lake for the boys to play one more time before heading back to CA. And it was Jack's first trip out to Crystal Lake! Documented by lots of pictures, of course. And here's one of many pictures of the cousins at the lake!Um, what? They look like a happy little family...I'm going to steal that pose next time we take a picture! They're so cute!
We headed back to Fort Worth on Saturday and went to have dinner with Jeff's parents. His brother and sister in law were in town from Maryland and it's always good to see them!!

In case you're wondering, Jack was amazing through all of the Thanksgiving festivities! He is such a trooper and didn't mind being pass around at all! Until.....

Sunday night we went to my mom's house to have Thanksgiving dinner one more time. There are no pictures of this...Jack was done with a capital D! He tried so hard to be sweet, but good-ness, he had no sweetness left in him. He put on the biggest fit we've seen in quite some time, thus there was not time for pictures and barely time for dinner! There was no soothing him, nothing in the bag of tricks was even remotely close to working! So we strapped him in his car seat and headed out early, leaving a trail of ringing ears behind us. Of course, as soon as we clicked his carseat in the car and drove off, he was fast asleep.

Meeeeeeeeeeeerry Christmas!

Growing up, we didn't have professional pictures taken. I think maybe once when I was like 1 mom took me to JC Penny's or something, but that's about it. Oh, and the church directory. And that came along at about the most awkward time...middle school and high school...when really, you wish you hadn't had professional pictures taken!

Anyways, I decided that I'd really like to get in the habit of having pictures taken of Jack and of our family. With all of these post prego pounds hanging out, I was channeling myself back in the middle school days when everyone knew pictures should not be taken to actually document it...but it's Jack's first Christmas and pictures are a must!!!

So today we went to a picture place to get our pictures taken. Jack did pretty well! Our first picture experience with newborn pics was absolutely TERRIBLE, so I have been super nervous. But he was so much better at 11 weeks than 10 days!

Overall we were happy with the pictures. The people were nice, we got our pics before we walked out the door, and paid a fraction of our newborn picture cost. With that price cut, there came a few drawbacks. Anyways, here are a select few, starting with the bad...oh so bad.

Olin Mills, anyone? Really? What's up with that background? Ah, I know I wasn't in charge of that set up but I still allowed my family to be pictured with it, and I'm embarrassed. I like to consider myself a little artsy, creative, etc. There is nothing artsy or creative about this. Needless to say, these didn't make it to print!

Now this, THIS, is awful. TERRIBLE!! Are you kidding me? Poor kid. Again, I take responsibility. I didn't run when I saw this satin filled wicker coming towards us. Jeff just called him Baby Moses.

Now, this one is adorable. I found this cute little smocked outfit at a consignment store for a steal! He's so stinkin' cute!

This one was the fav of the family pictures. Maybe because I'm laying on my stomach with the post prego pounds squashed under me . Not too bad, once the terrible tree and embarrassing wicker left the room.

I LOVE this one. He's so cute! Jack has been smiling up a storm at home, but of course, he wouldn't smile for the picture lady. This is the closest thing we got!

Would it be mean to say this one is probably my favorite? I mean, I think it's hysterical. His onesie says "joy" and he's screaming. Maybe it's the irony? Maybe it's that I sometimes can't help but laugh when he's throwing a fit. I mean, really? Is life that bad?