Saturday, December 31, 2011

This year…man…this year. What an interesting, amazing, fun, confusing, terrible year this was. So many changes in only 365 days. I started out the year a new mom, with a wonderful husband who was working his butt off trying to finish school, a beautiful mom, a loving dad, a newlywed sister, and an almost married brother. My my, how things have changed. This year was full of firsts, a year unlike any other in my life. Jackson went from a newborn to a toddler. He started solids, and so began his love affair with food! A true Kehler/West!

He started sitting up and drinking from something besides mommy…lol. And we also cut our first teeth! 

My family came out to visit, this trip was such a bittersweet one that brings tears to my eyes. I was so excited to have my family come visit, and for the last year I had been living on this farm, thinking how much my dad would love it.. When he got here he was so sick that he just wanted to go home the whole time and even ended up in the hospital while he was here. Not at all what I had expected for this visit, but still, nice to have family come see us. Jackson loves his Auntie!

This picture makes me cry because he was SO frightened of his grandpa, and had no idea how much he just wanted to love him. It broke my heart the whole time he was here...

While Grandpa, Grandma, and Auntie were here… he started crawling!!

Shortly after, he started getting SERIOUSLY silly! And that huge personality really started shining through! He also pulled up and started standing!

In March we went to California! We had a really great trip! We got to spend time with my brother Ryan and had a blast as always! And so began the changes…. on the way home from visiting us, Ryan and his fiance broke up. Not entirely heartbreaking for either party, but a shock for sure.

We went to a county fair and a concert! Jackson was such a good boy he slept during the whole concert even though it was ridiculously loud!

Now this one makes me smile :) Jackson got to spend some more time with Grandpa, and he wasn't scared anymore! This trip was really special. We don't get to see our family and friends back home very often, so it was great to just see everyone and spend quality time with them. The day we left, I remember saying goodbye to my dad…it's always hard to say goodbye and get on an airplane and fly away, but something told me this time was a little different. Something inside said to take your time, relish this hug, and tell him how much you love him. And I did…. it took me a while after my dad passed to remember this last occurrence, but when I finally did, it was a comfort to me. I know that he went knowing how much I loved him, and I know that that last hug was a good one.

In June Jackson started WALKING! Dun dun dun….and life ended…Just kidding. He had the cutest little walk! Look at those chubby legs before they thinned out from walking!

In July Jackson turned one!!! He had his FIRST birthday party and it was a blast! And I decided that I LOVE throwing parties!!! I would love to be a party planner on the side, but I have no idea how to go about that. Anyway, I had a great time planning this party and with the help of my mom, we pulled off a pretty adorable first birthday!

In August we went to Colorado! This was my first time in the state and Thomas's first time back in over ten years. We stayed at the family cabins and filled our week with nature, sightseeing, and smores! Jackson rode a horse and LOVED it!! Okay…no…he hated it, but he looked so cute riding!

He had his first BIG tumble and scared Mommy and Daddy to death! He also started taking big boy baths.

In September, I lost my dad. He had struggled for a while, so it wasn't a huge shock, but it was not expected by any means. It still seems surreal to write this even now. It's been a journey dealing with grief and overcoming the last few painful years of his life, and trying to find peace and comfort. But, I have good days and I have bad days. This last week has been especially hard with the holidays. I wasn't home this Christmas; we stayed in Houston, so it wasn't until I got a phone call from my uncle on Christmas day that it really it me. He told me how much he was missing my Grandfather, my Grandmother, and my Dad…and I realized this was the first Christmas without them. And as this year ends, it seems to be the only thing I can focus on. I just miss him a lot, I guess.
In October, Thomas turned THIRTY! And I turned 25!!! We officially both got OLD. I guess we did a lot of growing up this year!

We started going to The Little Gym early in the year, and Jackson met his two best buds, Caleb and Aaden…and I met two of the most awesome ladies in Texas! I have been so thankful for the Little Gym this year, Jackson loves it and gets to explore, and learn new things, and I get to socialize a little and make friends. Win win win. We also went trick or treating for the first time!

We went back to California for my best friend's wedding. She was the most beautiful bride I had ever seen and I was SO proud to stand up there with her! Also, we got to spend time with family…and for the first time on a visit home, I didn't feel rushed and pressured to see everyone and accommodate everyone else. I just wanted to be with my family. And so we spent lots of time with our family! And Jackson got to ride Mikey Dog!

We also got to stay at my sissy's house which is beautiful, and Jackson saw his first snow! About 2 weeks after we got home, I got a phone call from my sister, she was pregnant! It was a huge shock, but we were thrilled! It's a baby how could you not be?! After getting excited and planning a baby shower in my head and daydreaming about Jackson having a baby cousin to play with and holding that sweet baby in my arms, we found out that the baby was gone. And it broke my heart like it was my own. Fortunately, I have never dealt with miscarriage, and God willing I never will… but I feel like I did. I feel like I lost a baby too.. But, my sister was such a trooper, and her view of it seemed to make it more bearable. We know that baby is up in heaven with Grandpa, rocking in his arms and poking holes in his belly, and getting horsey rides!

My sweet hubby who has been working his butt of for the last 3 years graduated! I was/am SO incredibly proud of him for persevering and for finally finishing, and doing it all while working full time, supporting Jackson and me, and finding time to nourish our relationship and build a strong bond with our son. Two days after he graduated, he started his new job and is currently loving it!

I have Christmas photos, but they will have to wait for another night! 

Overall, this year has been a beautiful mess… I've grown so much, and I feel lame saying it, but I think I really became a woman, the woman I want to be. I am SO at peace with my life, and comfortable with who I am. My life is everything I want it to be, and I have no regrets about what I am doing, or where I am. Everyday is a good day, and I take nothing for granted.. I'm the Mom I want to be, and the wife I always hoped I would be. Of course there is always room for growth, but I really am happy with everything the way it is now! I love my life and this year has made me realize it more than ever! 
My New Year's Resolutions for next year are to get more serious about my couponing and saving money, to spend less on groceries while eating healthier (going to try for 5 a day!), to buy a home, and to get pregnant with baby number two! What are yours?!

Friday, November 25, 2011

No matter how far away you roam

There's no place like home for the holidays…

These last couple years have been hard, to say the least. I'm a small town girl, close knit family girl. Two Decembers ago, I moved 1500 miles away from all of my friends, all of my family, and everything I had ever known. I knew I'd be okay, I had my hubby… but it was still hard. Add to the mix that I was about 10 weeks pregnant with the first grandbaby.. I said goodbye to everyone, but I had no idea that I was really saying, "Goodbye."
It was not an easy transition I'll be honest. I had no friends and only a few of Thomas's family members. I didn't know where to make friends, or who to even talk to because who would understand what I was going through? A single person? No. A married woman with no children? No. A mother? No… I was none of these. I was in between, and… I was tired..and lonely…and shy. I didn't know where to go. Three months after we moved my grandfather passed away. He had Alzheimers, so we sort of lost him a few years back, but it didn't take away the sting.. It just made going home…different. It wasn't the same place I left. In the next few months, it was like the ball had just started rolling and it wasn't stopping. I lost my other grandfather, and I wasn't able to go back home for that funeral…and that hurt. But it didn't stop there, I lost my grandmother a few months after that..and I was left with only one grandmother. Sometime in this mix we welcomed our sweet baby boy into the world and he has blessed us more than I could have ever imagined. About 6 months after Jackson was born I FINALLY started to make friends and feel at home here. I love it here.. Honestly, I do. I like my friends and I am comfortable. By far the hardest part of these last two years was losing my Dad. I've dealt with it and I know he is at peace and no longer a slave to his earthly body and is HAPPY now…but, I still really miss him. I still wish he were here and that I could hug him, and when something big happens, I just want to call him and tell him. And holidays….are pretty much the worst..

When I was growing up we used to have BIG family holidays with all of our extended family and we would all spend the night at my grandparents and have a huge meal and then sleep in the next day and wake up and do what else??? Eat a big breakfast of course! Isn't that what the holidays are about? Eating?!? No, just me?!?! Okay, well… I think they are! As we got older and our family got bigger and everyone kind of spread apart and moved to different places, we started to do holidays with just our immediate family. I LOVED holidays with just was fun, it was intimate, and we could stay in our pajamas all day! We would spend all day laughing and cooking. My dad was in charge and he would divide up the jobs…my sister did the stuffing mainly because she loooooves stuffing! My brother did the basting of the turkey, and always ended up peeling the potatoes, the job everyone hated. We all had jobs and we all worked together and just laughed. We ate turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, and rolls, all smothered in glorious, rich, wonderful gravy that my mom was the QUEEN of.. oh…and…cranberry sauce..but, really, no one ever ate it. And we fought over the turkey skin. And we drank sparkling apple cider, even when we were over 21… because it's just fun. And we drank it out of fancy glasses…in our pajamas.

While I am so grateful for my husband's family and love spending time with them and holidays with them.. I miss this. And it's killing me that we'll never get to do this again. So, all I can do is move forward, as this grief process goes I suppose….I hope that one day I can raise my family and start a tradition of sleeping in, staying in your pajamas, and spending the day crammed in the kitchen together…laughing. And….eating. Lots and lots of eating.

the end

ps, I kind of want another baby :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ten Times Smarter

These last two days have been interesting! We are trying to budget and stop spending so much on unnecessary things, so we stayed home the last two days and didn't go anywhere in effort to not spend! I usually try to get out once a day to avoid cabin fever since we live in the sticks…but I always end up spending money because what else am I going to do?! So anyway, I've been at home just playing with Jackson and it just really has hit me how SMART he is getting! These last 15 months have just flown by and I guess I still think of him as my wittle baby! But….he's not so wittle anymore. He's a big boy. And I am noticing it more and more every day. The things he does AMAZE me. It's just incredible to think that last year he was in my belly wriggling around and then he was here and all he did was nurse, poop, sleep, and cry…with an emphasis on the first two not so much the last two. And now here he is, my big boy running around. He has great balance, and he climbs everything which used to freak me out, but now I just let him because he *usually* catches himself. He knows when he sees me going for the diapers that it's time to RUN and HIDE. I literally have to chase him throughout the house diaper in hand, and often..he's already naked and pees on the floor. But, he cracks me up and I think it's so cute to see that little butt running away and laughing that I usually entertain the idea and pretend to chase him for about 10 minutes….inevitably ending up in a soaked carpet. Oh well. Yesterday he was running around the house and one of his pant legs was up by his knee…he took a few steps and then reached down and pulled that pant leg back down. Wait, did he really just do that??? Himself?? With no fuss or even asking me to do it? Noooo…. I know this is menial, but it was just a little reminder that he doesn't need me as much anymore :( Soon he will start needing me less and less and there's nothing I can do but just know that it meansI'm doing my job right. After that happened, I swear he got ten times smarter. It was like, everything just clicked on and he wasn't a baby anymore.. he is a smart kid. I noticed little things that he was doing that just astonished me. He shook his head no when I asked if he wanted something. He doesn't eat his turkey at lunch because he knows that after the turkey he gets the cheese…bring on the cheese Mom…Easton will eat this! When he sees me grab a bottle of water he looks for his sippy cup. He goes over to the hat rack and says "Hat" which is probably the BIGGEST thing for me. For a long time people have been asking what words he is saying and what his first word was and I just kind of explained that he doesn't really say words yet, he just has his own language and occasionally he will use the right word, but never repeatedly. Well folks…he knows the word "hat" and he uses it every time he sees a hat. He also asks, "hot?" every night when he gets in the bath. Jackson is an interesting bear, because he is very smart and I swear he knows things but just chooses not to be a performer. Every time he did something new I would try to show my mother in law and of course, he never did it. He just chooses not to do what we ask on's not his style! For a while he has been doing this when we ask about body parts. But not today, today he sat on Daddy's lap and pointed to every single one. Amazing I tell you, simply…amazing.


October is pretty much…the best month ever. Lots of birthdays and the settling in of fall which means new spices, recipes, pretty decor, and halloweeeeen!! We had a really fun October this year!
I already posted about all of our fun fall stuff and the recipes I tried. By the way, the MOST incredible pumpkin recipe I tried was BY FAR these cupcakes. DELISH! I literally piped the buttercream frosting into my mouth, I am not ashamed to admit it. Try this recipe…now…seriously. I'm gonna make it for Thanksgiving!
We kicked off the month with a visit to Dewberry Farms! I really, REALLY wanted to go last year but every weekend we had something going on and we never got to go! I still wish we could have because although we had a blast this year and Jackson was old enough to appreciate it, there was so much we didn't get to see because all he wanted to do was run around(story of my life). Originally I had planned to go with a group of friends, but we ended up only going with Cole, Kelli, and Millie, which was SO fun! We had a great time and it was great to spend time with them! 

We picked the perfect pumpkin! It was really big and shaped perfectly and had a beautiful stem and most of all, we were SURE it was filled with lots of seeds for roasting! We didn't carve it until my birthday, which was on the 25th. I was so excited cutting into that thing and I wanted Jackson to help, but he didn't really care. After a struggle to get that top off, I pulled it, ready to view my prize and…..dun dun dun…about 15 seeds in the whole thing. Seriously?! Pshhh, oh well. 

For my birthday it was pretty low key, we just hung out at home, carved our pumpkin, played outside, and then we went out to dinner with my mother-in-law and her husband which was super fun and absolutely delicious! Jackson was such a good boy, he ate his mac and cheese in the fancy restaurant and we had a booth so he just…discretely made a mess! 
So, the next week it was on to Thomas's birthday!!! It was the BIG THREE OH! So we celebrated it big! I had been planning his birthday for months and was SO excited, I mean, I was more excited for his birthday than for mine! So, the day before his party, he gets a phone call…he has to work.! I was livid!!! And there was nothing he could do to get out of it! One of his coworkers had a "photo shoot" that night so she couldn't work which meant he got called in. Seriously??? Ohhhh my goodness I wanted to hurt that woman!! Then she posts on his facebook "Hope it's a great day!!" It took everything inside of me not to comment on that one!!! ERRRRGGG!! So, we did what we could and we moved the time up, which meant a lot of people couldn't make it, and he had to leave after a couple hours and go straight to work but…we made it work! It was 80's themed since he was born in '81! Here are the photos!

Jackson helped me put up the banner…okay, he was really just grabbing the christmas lights, which yes, were hot, and he would grab them and go "ow" and then grab again. 

I tried to remember all of the cool shows Thomas liked in the 80's and I made some little posters of them for the tables. Alf!!!

I got a bunch of 80's candy from Party City and it was a huge hit! Amazing how it can bring you back to childhood! I found the slinkys at Michaels along with the hackey sacks (Thomas loved hackey sack!) and some glow sticks.

Everyone dressed up! Here's the birthday boy!


I found these old 80's VHS movies at Goodwill and just set them on the tables as decor! Ducktales was T's favorite cartoon!

The cake I made, not bad for my first try! I've never made cakes before, it's a lot of fun but devastating when something goes wrong! (Notice the smashed side) I also found some old cassette tapes at Goodwill and painted then neon green and orange, I used the leftover paint to splatter onto my white platter which made it more fun!

Drake was the star of the party! He was Top Gun! Such a cutie lovebug!

I made this 30 out of old photos of Thomas. It was fun to see the progression of his life and make fun of him with embarrassing photos! But, what's a party for if not to embarrass you!? It was kind of a lot of work to make all of the copies and then make them fit on the cardstock, but it was worth it! 

Anyway, I have been thinking lately that I REALLY would like to get into party planning. I have SO much fun doing it and I think they always turn out pretty cute? I just think I would be really good at it, but…how do you get into that?? Anyway, if anybody wants a party planner…let me know! haha.

So, onto Halloween! I had really wanted to make or at least semi-make his costume, but it was just a really busy month and I had a lot on my plate. I also really wanted to do a theme with Jackson and his friends, but… was busy. Friends to the rescue! My wonderfully sweet friend, Brandi happened to be at a Once Upon a Child and found 3 animal costumes for super cheap and snatched em up! She even came up with the idea of us being zookeepers so that it was a theme! What a great lady! So, we made some cute shirts and voila!

My cute boys!

Ribbit ribbit!

I seriously had THE best time on Halloween! This was the first time that the three of us had all hung out WITH our husbands! It was like being a kid again, just a big group of us walking around the neighborhood knocking on doors and surveying the candy and just laughing…lots and lots of laughing. I think it was kicked off by the first house..We all walk up to the door with the kids and the lady hands out three pieces of candy in each of the kid's bags and then she looks at me and says, "And where's your bag?" O.M.G. Thanks lady…. And so the night went :) One of the most fun nights of my entire year hands down! And all of that candy! YUM!!! It's definitely almost all gone!
Happy Hallerween!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The greatest moments of my life

It seems like once you become a parent, your entire world shifts focus to that baby and every parent I know is obsessed with their kid, has nothing else to talk about, and is constantly talking about the things their kids do and how much they love them….to non parents it must seem annoying and absurd and crazy, I get that. But, there is good reason for all of this insanity..being a mom is LITERALLY the coolest, most incredible thing I have EVER done in my entire life, hands-down. Today I was thinking about how much my bug has grown up and how sad it is…but also how awesome it is! I loved the movie homeward bound with Shadow, Chance, and Sassy…but seriously, THIS is life's Incredible Journey. Here are some of my favorite moments from the last 15 months

Going into labor
Holding my son for the first time
When he cracked up every time we made a funny noise
When he used to crawl with only one leg and the other just kind of scooted behind him, or in front of the other one, totally in the way
When I heard him clap from the driver's seat and he was in his rear facing carseat
This one is kind of sad, but when I laid him in his crib and he stood up and started crying, "Mama!"

Here are some really recent favorite moments/quirks

Every morning when Jackson climbs out of bed he immediately grabs my phone and starts sending random text messages, consider yourself loved if you have received one
Whenever I leave the door open to my room, he sneaks in, opens my drawer and steals my chapstick, then sticks it in his mouth and runs to hide behind the couch
He found a penny the other day and I took it away and placed it on the table, five minutes later I found him with his train pushed over to the table climbing up there to get that penny
He also uses his bucket as a pedestal to climb onto tables
Whenever he finds trash, or if he is outside, he will just pick up dirt and he ALWAYS brings it to me
When we are in the kitchen he reaches in the dog/cat food bags and throws the kibbles at the animals, and usually sneaks one in for a quick bite, but spits it out
He hits, a lot, but when I tell him, "No, be sweet!" He hugs me and gives me a big kiss and I immediately forget what a brat he is
He loves animal crackers and is not satisfied with just one, he wants one in his mouth and one for each hand, so unless I give him 3, I won't even offer
He comes up to me with a new book about 20 times a day and hands it to me, sits in my lap, and waits for me to open the book, then takes the book and walks away, uninterested…maybe Daddy will read it better?
He loves wearing shoes, everyone's shoes!
He slaps his hands on his legs rhythmically and shakes his head like he can hear his own little song in his head

Just some random things that make this mommy smile!
On another random note, why do people that have their music BLASTING always drive with their windows down? Who drives with their windows down anyway?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy Fall Y'all!

Yep, I can say y'all now….cause I live in Texas. I fought it for a long time, but now it's natural. At first I thought I would never get used to saying that strange and totally incorrect term, but then I slowly started wanting to use it in my everyday language and I found myself having to stop before I spoke. "I will not use that term…. I am a California girl thank you VERY much.." And then…there it was. Yep, y'all know what I'm talking about! However, I still refuse to use the term, "fixin'" WHAT is that about?
Anywho, it has begun to feel like fall here! We are still in the nineties but we are getting some wind and cloud cover and the mornings are crisp! Finally! I have always loved fall for the pretty colors and warm, rich flavors! But, I feel like it always slips away from me and before I know it I am freezing in my sweatpants wrapping Christmas presents praying for Spring. Well, NOT this year! This year I vow to make the most of this autumnal harvest season! I decorated our house last week while Jackson took a nap and then I got some more little trinkets at Ross, which I LOVE for holiday decor because it is SO cheap! Then, I stole some ideas from other people and now my house feels comfy, cozy, festive!

Top left is our hutch. I stole the idea for the garland from Jen's blog, which she stole from somewhere else, but it is SUPER cute! I got the felt for less than a dollar for all 4 sheets (YAY coupons!) and strung it with a needle and thread! So cute and DIRT cheap! I am in love. I got the pumpkins at the grocery store and painted them myself, this idea I stole my sweet friend Sarah!  Top right is our fireplace and I love these glittery pumpkins! The candles I got at Ross of course and I made that little bouquet out of some fake leaves and orange berry sprigs. Bottom left is an adorable sign that I just HAD to have and I really want to get a scarecrow to hang out next to it :)  Middle is just a centerpiece I made for our dining room table and I got that leaf placemat at WalMart! Bottom right was some leftover stuff I had so I stuck it in a vase and put it on the window sill in front of the kitchen sink along with a pumpkin candle and I feel so serene when I wash the dishes!

One of my other hopes for these fall months is to take advantage of the flavors!!! I am OBSESSED with pinterest and I found some cool recipes on there. So, my goal for October is at least one new pumpkin recipe per week. This morning I made Jackson some pumpkin pancakes! They were so tasty, he ate THREE! I was shocked! Normally he just picks at his pancakes because I make sure he eats his fruit first. But he LOVED these pancakes! I think I will definitely have to make them again, what a great way to get in a vegetable for breakfast! So, I just used regular pancake mix and added organic pumpkin puree and ricotta cheese (just because I had some leftover from my lasagna last night). I think next time I will add some vanilla and cinnamon! Yumma yumma! Here he is chowing down! Oh and before you ask, he took a great, big tumble yesterday on the front porch and fell face first onto concrete. Apparently there was a box in the back of his little John Deere mini tractor and he climbed (surprise, surprise) into the tractor and on top of the box and the box slipped. It's pretty gnarly and now it is all scabbed up and filled with pus and disgusting. This was his first big fall so we were both kind of freaking out, Thomas wanted to take him to the ER, but I assured him they would laugh us out and tell us, "He's a boy.." So anyway, it's pretty gross, but it doesn't seem to bother him at all. 
pumpkin ricotta cheese pancakes

Hey, this is pretty good

Ripping it up!

Gobble gobble gobble!

Then I made a tasty breakfast for Thomas and myself! Pumpkin cream cheese muffins! SO SO SO YUM! If you want the recipe let me know, or you can find it on my pinterest.  May I also mention that Little Master West just so happened to gobble down 2 of these as well.. Piggy piggy.
Pumpkin cream cheese muffins in Halloween wrappers

These ones I used no wrapper and put a pecan on top.  I liked these better because these muffins stuck to the wrapper which I thought was weird and annoying.
Tomorrow we are going to Dewberry Farms Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze and I'm really excited for another way to enjoy the Harvest season! I'll be sure and post some pictures and keep Y'ALL updated on my new pumpkin recipes!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reminiscing and tantrums

I loved being pregnant…it was so wonderful! I used to sit and feel those sweet kicks from my little man and watch tiny body parts protrude and wiggle around. As I laid my hand on my belly I would daydream about how it would be and all of the wonderful times I had ahead of me. I dreamed of rocking him in my arms, kissing his little lips, feeding him baby food, taking him on picnics, playing with him and teaching him his ABC's, watching his first steps….all of those miraculous and amazing things.  

What I didn't dream of, though….was this….

Dun dun dunnnnn, taaaantrums!!! Yep…here we are. I knew it would come but I thought maybe we'd get lucky? Maybe he wouldn't be so bad. Wrongo! He is human after all..dang! What is different about our tantrums though, is that they usually don't start over not getting his way. It can be anything that sets him off, usually he gets hurt, or has something taken away (ie my cell phone, the video camera). It will start as a little whimper, like, "Mama, I just hit my head, OW!" And as always, he wanders over to me and sticks those little hands in my shirt.. Sometimes I give in to comfort him and sometimes I say no and he gets upset and then gets over it. Not anymore! Now when I refuse it turns into this! YAYYY! hahhaah…He attaches himself to my legs and goes limp. But seriously, isn't he cute even while throwing a tantrum!? I mean, I just wanna scoop him up! But, I am being a good mommy and trying to ignore ignore ignore! And honestly, I usually end up just having to distract him with something else. Timeouts don't quite work for us since I can't get him to stay in one place, but we do a mini timeout and I make him sit down until he gets distracted and is back to playing. Works for me. I'm sure this is just one of many struggles of parenthood to come…. Man, what happened to all of these days?! 

Just born! So sweet and everything I ever dreamed of! My miracle was here!

Sleeping in the swing! So easy...

Laying on my chest and perfectly comfortable

This one takes me back! Man, how far we have come from these uncomfortable and painful nursing moments!

Taking a nap in the boppy!

Crazy eyes! Content to sit around in his diaper and stare..

Eating squash! 

Watching a cartoon and staying in one place!