Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jackson's First Christmas

I've never covered up the fact that I absolutely love and adore Christmas--it's such a magical and peaceful time of the year and I enjoy everything about it. Now that I'm a mom, I love it even more and want to make it as special as I can for our family--that's why I've pulled out all the stops for Jax's second Christmas!

The other day, I realized that I never shared the story of Jax's first Christmas and thought I'd take a minute to jot it down for your reading pleasure ;and for my own walk down memory lane). I now invite you to sit back, relax, and get ready to roll your eyes over and over again at my raging emotions:

As many of you may remember, Jackson was born two weeks early and was unable to cry when he was first born--because of this, the doctors were worried and whisked him off to the NICU an hour after he was born. Brandon and I were heartbroken but grateful to the amazing hospital staff for taking such great care of our precious boy. Not even 4 hours after Jax was born, the doctor informed us that he would have to stay in the NICU for a few days to be closely monitored.

Jackson was born on the 22nd and we were holding out hope that we'd be able to take him home on Christmas Eve (my favorite day of the year). Unfortunately, that wasn't in the cards for us and on the night of the 23rd, I had a mini meltdown to Brandon about how worried I was about Jax and how unfair the situation seemed (I was an exhausted, hormonal mess and didn't realize just how blessed we were to have such a beautiful and otherwise healthy baby). Being the great guy that he is, Brandon brought over all of the Christmas stockings and decor the next morning and brought Christmas to Jax and me. Jackson was released to my room the morning of the 24th--just in time for the rest of my family to arrive for Christmas Eve (my parents came down the morning of the 23rd and my Aunt & Uncle came from Denver Christmas Eve morning)! 
Our first family picture :)

The rest of Christmas Eve was wonderful; my family went to Christmas mass and dinner (while Jax and I stayed back at the hospital), brought back yummy Whiskey Creek for me, and then we opened our Christmas stockings. Once everyone left for the night, Jax and I snuggled in my hospital bed and watched the end of "It's a Wonderful Life."

It was truly the perfect Christmas Eve!

..until my new little bundle of joy wouldn't go to sleep and I panicked every time I heard a peep. #newmomprobs

At 4:30am, the nurse finally came in and offered to take Jackson back to the nursery for a few hours so I could try to get some sleep. I. Slept. Hard for two glorious hours before the nurse rolled Jackson back in to nurse. 

Brandon came back to the hospital at around 8 that morning and we began to wait for Jackson's discharge..

..and we waited..  

..and waited.

After Jax was all checked out, circumsized (poor guy..), and taken care of, it was finally time to take our baby home! It truly was the best Christmas gift ever!!

We arrived at our house a little after noon and were greeted by my parents, aunt & uncle, Brandon's mom & boyfriend, and Brandon's dad & stepmom (who we're visiting from Knoxville)--it was a really neat experience to be greeted by so many family members and we felt so blessed by their love of us and our little boy. After opening gifts and eating (Brandon was awesome and cleaned the entire house/made Christmas dinner while I was in the hospital), my parents, aunt, and uncle all headed back to CO.
Headed home!

That's when things begin to get a little blurry for me.. I was so utterly exhausted and couldn't stop crying over every little thing..

I cried to my mom because I didn't want Jackson to grow up. 

I cried when my parents left. 

I cried because all the cookies I made were gone. 

I cried because I missed being pregnant already. 

I cried because I was utterly exhausted. 

I laid with and nursed Jax (all while still crying, of course) while Brandon and his family continued having Christmas out in the living room--I felt so ridiculous for being so emotional but I just couldn't help it!

..which made me cry even more.

Once Brandon's family left and it was just our little family of four (including Bitsy), I began to cry because Christmas was over.. I'd been so tired and emotional the entire day that I felt like I'd missed out on my favorite holiday. Brandon and I walked into the nursery to change Jax while I continued to sob and that's when I for my first ever lesson in being a boy mom.. Jackson began to pee everywhere; on Brandon, me, the wall, the floor, and himself. 

My blubbering turned into mass hysteria right then as I began to laugh uncontrollably--I'm not sure what it was about my son peeing all over the room that calmed me down, but it did and I suddenly felt so much better. Brandon took Jackson downstairs to give me a little alone time to shower and read and it was just what I needed; I began feeling human again and had a chance to collect my thoughts and sort through the day. 

We all turned in early Christmas night; Brandon swaddled Jackson, we laid him in his Rock & Play, and we all got a few good hours of sleep!
Jackson & Daddy relaxed downstairs while Mommy did a little after Christmas shopping on the 26th.
Looking back at Christmas 2013 still leaves me feeling tired and silly but it really was the perfect Christmas--we got to bring our sweet boy home the same day our Lord was brought into the world! It doesn't get any better than that.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rudolph's Nose Christmas Cookies

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen;
But do you recall?
The most famous cookie of all?

Or something like that.

I had such a blast participating in this year's Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! It was my first year and it was a blast thinking up creative cookies, packaging, and of course eating lots of delicious cookies from fabulous food bloggers across the world. 

If you're unfamiliar with the FB Cookie Swap, here's the gist (via their website): The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers. Eat them all yourself (or, you know, share. If you want. No judgement either way.) Post your cookie recipe on your blog. See everyone else’s cookie recipes. Salivate. Get lots of great ideas for next year’s cookie swap. Rinse and repeat.

Fun, right?!
Anyway, I wanted to do something fun for my cookie and perused Pinterest and kicked around several ideas until it finally came to me (while introducing Jackson to "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"): Rudolph's Nose Cookies! 

These cookies are ridiculously simple to make, taste amazing, and look extremely festive! It's definitely a recipe I'll make again in the future (in fact, I'm already planning to make them to eat during "Rudolph" next year. #newtraditions). 

I didn't have reindeer ears so I edited them in..
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (softened)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Red sprinkles
  1. Stir together sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. 
  2. Shape chilled dough into a rounded tablespoon and evenly coat in red sprinkles. Place balls, 1 inch apart, on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375ºF for 9 to 12 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
Tip: These do not ship well--I learned that the hard way (sorry Nancy!)!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thrifty Thursday

Remember my last Thrifty Thursday post when I complained about accidentally buying an original Tickle Me Elmo? Well..

..it's officially the best $2 I've ever spent.

Jackson LOVES his Elmo--he's seriously obsessed with it and always scoots him around and gives him kisses! When we went to the thrift store and stumbled upon Jackson's future BFF, I thought it was just a regular stuffed Elmo who didn't talk or do anything special; once we got home and I went to wash it, I realized there was a voice box.. that shakes. 

Yep. It was a real life Tickle Me Elmo. 

I was 6 when Tickle Me Elmo was the BIG thing and I can still remember watching the news and seeing these parents shoving each other and forking out hundreds of dollars for a stuffed animal that I ended up buying at a thrift store for $2 eighteen years later.
Sleepover on the sofa when mommy was so sick.

Welcome to the family, El-man!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Meow-y Christmas!

On Saturday, Brandon, Jax, and I attended our first Christmas party of the season..
If you want to be a "copy cat" and get my look, here's where I got everything: the kitty sweatshirt was a $2 thrift find (from 2011) and I got the kitty earrings for $.20 at Walmart's after Christmas sale last year.

..and it was glorious.

My parent's had their annual Christmas party for their employees at their local Chinese restaurant this year so we attended and ate tons of yummy food, drank wine, visited and laughed.. it was a great way to kick off the Christmas party season!

Earlier on Saturday, we attended a fundraiser soup lunch and spent the afternoon at the local senior center.. it was a lot of fun!

I just love this time of year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Jackson's 1st Birthday Sneak Peek (& a $110 Gift Card GIVEAWAY!!)

My sweet little boy turns one two weeks from today.. *sigh*

..it's probably a good thing I've been planning his birthday party since he was one month old!

If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have seen my board chock full of ideas for Jackson's Winter Wonderland themed 1st birthday party--I'm so excited to see it coming to life and just have to share a sneak preview with you all today!
When I found this invite on Etsy, I knew it was "the one"--doesn't that little boy look like Jax?!
Treat boxes? Check. 1st Birthday Shirt? Check. Caffeine for Mom & Dad? Check.
It's no secret that I have a huge girl crush on Jenny Keller and her amazing dessert tables (particularly this Christmas themed one)--I know my table (and desserts) won't look nearly as amazing as Jennys do, but I'm going to give this dessert table fad the old college try for Jax's party! Wish me luck!
Speaking of desserts (and tables of dessert), I've already started baking and freezing different kinds of cookies and homemade treats for Jackson's guests to enjoy and take home with them! My original plan was to just serve sweets, hot chocolate, and adult beverages, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that not everyone likes snacking on sugar alone (hard to believe, I know!).

That's when I decided that it was time for Jackson and me to take a trip to our neighborhood Safeway to get ideas for other snacks to serve.
Yeah, yeah, I know this is still considered sweet but come. on. Peppermint flavored whipped cream?? PERFECT for our hot chocolate bar!
Cheese and crackers is such an easy, yet satisfying snack to serve.. only, which cheese(s) do we choose?!
It looks like our birthday boy has spoken.
You can't have a Christmas party without a little Eggnog!
These aren't for the party.. these are for me (come to mamma, Salted Caramel creamer..).
Since 1904, families have enjoyed rich, creamy dairy products from Lucerne®. With so many choices like wholesome milk, tasty cheese and smooth butter, it's easy to see why it's been loved for generations.

Here are a few tasty recipes that I'll definitely be serving on my dessert table:

  • 2 cups Lucerne® shredded triple cheddar blend (yellow mild, yellow sharp and white Vermont cheddar)
  • ¼ cup Lucerne Cream Cheese
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves, smashed into a paste
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chives, minced
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Open Nature™ Flatbread Crackers
  • Wine Syrup:
  • 1 cup Headsnapper Radiant Red Wine
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  1. To make Wine Syrup, add red wine and sugar to a medium saucepan and reduce slowly over medium heat until thick and syrupy, or it measures about a quarter of its original volume. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine cheeses, garlic, salt, pepper, and chives in a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until for 30 seconds or until softened and mixed, then form into a round ball using your hands.
  3. To serve, sprinkle plate with paprika and drizzle with half of the Wine Syrup. Place “cheese ball” in center of plate, drizzle with remaining Wine Syrup and surround with crackers.
  • 2 cups Lucerne Sour Cream
  • 1 cup Safeway Kitchens Whole Green Chilies – Fire Roasted
  • 2 cups waterfront BISTRO Fully Cooked Shrimp
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together sour cream, chilies, fully cooked shrimp, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pour mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until it begins to bubble around the edges.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with paprika and chives, then serve immediately with chips and flatbread crackers.
  • 8 oz Lucerne® Whipped Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ cup Lucerne Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • ½ cup Safeway Kitchens Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ tsp peppermint extract
  • 6 Safeway Starlight Mints, crushed
  • Suggestion: Chocolate-covered pretzels and graham crackers to serve with dip
  1. Put cream cheese, ricotta, powdered sugar, and peppermint extract into a mixing bowl. Using a mixer, mix on high for 2 minutes.
  2. Chill 30 minutes before serving.
  3. Garnish with crushed peppermints and serve with chocolate-covered pretzels and graham crackers.
It all looks so yummy, huh?! For more fun holiday recipes (featuring Lucerne products) and ideas, be sure to follow Safeway on Pinterest! And to get your Christmas grocery shopping started, Safeway is generously giving away a $110 gift card to one of my readers!! To enter, just follow the Rafflecopter below:

I was compensated for this post with product and/or payment; however, opinions are 100% mine and as always, I would never recommend something to my readers that I wouldn't use myself.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Sand(meier)a Clause House Tour!

It's Christmas time in the city (and everywhere else), my friends--and I couldn't be more excited!

Our tree is up, the stockings are hung.. it truly is the most wonderful time of the year! While this year isn't technically Jax's first Christmas (he was born 12/22 and we brought him home Christmas morning), I'm treating it like it is and am pulling out all the stops in terms of Christmas magic! Here is a little sneak peek at our Christmas home.

We are retiring this fiber optic tree after this year.. it's way too big (and our house is way too small)! I'm excited to get a pretty, pre-lit tree for next year :)
Funny story: Jackson actually has 3 "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments--as I've talked about in the past, my family opens stockings every Christmas Eve after dinner. Last year (while Jax and I were in the hospital), Brandon, my mom, dad, and Aunt Nancy all went out separately and bought an ornament for Jax's stocking.. My dad and Brandon ended up buying the same one (the one on the far right) so my parents kept that one.
"Whatcha doing, mom?"
I ended up having to go to urgent care for my bronchitis and while I was there, my boys surprised me by going out and getting lights for the house! LOVE!! P.S. Yes, this is our house.. act surprised when you watch our episode of House Hunters!
This is our cozy Christmas home! As you can see, it's kind of a mismatch of decorations but it represents our family and I absolutely love it! Have you started your Christmas decorating yet?

P.S. A BOX OF OUR DECOR IS MISSING (including the one and only thing I own from Nordstom)! I'm so bummed!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


The title basically sums up this post.. Thursday was Jax's first Thanksgiving and I have bronchitis.

Let's start from the beginning though:

As I mentioned last week, Jackson has been fighting a nasty bug that turned out to be a sinus infection & pink eye (how does he keep getting pink eye?! I've NEVER had pink eye in my life and he's already had it twice!)--after getting him on an antibiotic and prescription eye drops, things began to look better.
When you're this cute and don't feel well, you get a cookie (we were killing time waiting for his prescriptions).
On Wednesday, I did a bunch of early Thanksgiving prep and we had the house professionally cleaned (thank you, Groupon!) and everything was fine and dandy in the world of Annie; until Wednesday evening when I began to feel a little funny.. I figured it was just allergies or a bit of a cold and just wrote it off, took a Benadryl, and went to bed.

Thursday morning rolled around and I was feeling pretty good and hopped out of bed, baked my pies, waited for my parents to arrive, and kissed Brandon goodbye as he headed to work (again, don't feel too bad for B--his company catered a feast and he basically ate, watched Netflix, and made double time and a half). It wasn't long before I started feeling crappy again so I laid down with Mr. Jackson and took a little snooze.. when I woke up, I felt great and ready to get on with the day!
My Dad and Uncle Rolf both got the same shirt for Christmas last year and both wore it on Thanksgiving (they claim it was unintentional but I'm not so sure.. :)
Everyone (miraculously) fit into our small dining room!

My Aunt, Uncle, and friends of the family all arrived a little after 3 and we all sat around visiting, eating yummy appetizers, and giving Jackson lots of attention--but as the day went on, I began feeling worse.. and worse.. and worse.. After we finished eating our Thanksgiving dinner, I threw on a pair of sweats and drifted in and out of an achy/miserable sleep on the couch. #besthostessever

On Friday morning, my mom convinced me I needed to see a doctor so she, Jackson, and I went to the Little Clinic at King Soopers in hopes of getting in and out with a prescription.

We waited 2 1/2 stinking hours to see the physicians assistant :/
Feverish Mommy and Jackson killing time at the Starbucks
The PA diagnosed me with bronchitis (which I ALWAYS end up getting) and a sinus infection and sent me home with an inhaler and nose spray.. I'm still battling the bug and am having a hard time sleeping at night but I'm feeling better everyday. 

More importantly, Jackson is doing MUCH better (minus a little bit of diaper rash/diarrhea from his Amoxicillin) so hopefully the Sandmeier home will be germ/sickness free in the next couple of days! I hope you all had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving weekend!!
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