Thursday, January 29, 2015

Beautiful Bella

As I mentioned in Tuesday's post, we had such a fun and perfect Saturday that went by way, way too quickly!

I talked a little bit about our time at the Children's Museum NW of Denver but now I'm going to talk about the rest of our day (and the new addition to our family).. but to do that, I have to start at the beginning, so here it goes:

Jackson was really sick all day Thursday and Friday morning and was running a 102.5 temp along with some nasty tummy troubles--so after a rough couple of days all cooped up in the house, Jax and I were both ready to break free and have a fun weekend. Brandon and I had talked about taking a one-night trip to my family's cabin in the mountains but decided against it because we didn't want to push Jax too much when he was just starting to get better. That's when we decided to head to the Children's Museum for a couple of hours to let Jackson play and socialize for a bit (for the record: Jax's Dr. thinks he was sick from teething so it wasn't anything contagious).

As I was getting Jackson ready, Brandon came into the room to tell me that he'd been doing a lot of thinking and decided that it was time for us to get another pet (we've been wanting to get a dog since getting married but have decided against it for the time being with all of our upcoming travels)--he went on to say that maybe having another cat wouldn't be such a bad idea because Jackson is absolutely obsessed with cats and because a cat would be a lot lower maintenance than a dog.

After Bitsy had passed away, I'd vowed to never get another cat--Bitsy was our forever girl and I wasn't going to replace her. However, as time went on, I occasionally flirted with the idea but wrote it off (figuring Brandon would never be up for it). Once Brandon brought it up, I was sold. We were adopting a kitty!

We played and played at the Children's Museum and once Jax was all finished, we headed over to our local animal rescue. When we arrived, we were a little disappointed; there was only one cat available for adoption and we just didn't "click" with her. After leaving the rescue, we got Brandon's car washed, went out for a late lunch/early dinner (linner?), and decided to try our luck at Petsmart.

That's when we first laid eyes on our sweet Bella.
Great pic, iPhone
I'm not sure what it was about Bella but Brandon and I both knew she was the kitty for us as soon as we saw her. Within minutes of "meeting" her, we began the application process and were shopping around the store for litter boxes, food, and toys. Once the store gave us the go ahead, she was ours and we were on our way home!

The drive home was hilarious. Poor Bella was freaking out in her carrier (who could blame her?) so I decided to let her out to sit on my lap. Naturally, she wanted to roam around the car and we soon learned that she's a vocal little thing--she meowed and meowed and each time she did, Jax (who couldn't see anything because his car seat faces backward) began to squeal and jabber. I wish I had a video of their adorable little conversation!

Once we were home, we opened the carrier and let Miss Bella explore her new home while we set up her little pad under the stairs. Unlike Bitsy, Bella warmed up to us almost immediately and follows us around everywhere--she is so, so sweet and I'm so glad she's part of the family!

We're still working with Jax on being more gentle and giving her space but he's come a long way in 5 days--he absolutely loves his kitty and likes giving her pats, throwing her ball for her, and watching her play. Brandon was insistent that we adopted a younger cat this time (she's 2) and I'm so glad we did; I can't wait to watch her and Jackson grow up together!
She's definitely Brandon's cat

Probably the cutest video in the history of Youtube

Stay tuned, folks--you'll be seeing a lot more of Bella on the blog and on all my social media (lucky you)!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

To Be a Kid Again..

Being a mom is hard work..

..way, way harder than I had ever expected.

The sleepless nights, frequent tantrums, picky eating, constant messes, etc., take more of a toll on you than I had ever imagined.

But you know what?

For every piece of food that's thrown on the floor during a toddler tantrum, there's three sloppy kisses or a melt your heart gap toothed smile that makes your mother's heart grow even bigger.

And then there's moments like we experienced on Saturday where I get to relive parts of my childhood through our little boy.

We took a family trip to the WOW! Children's Museum in Lafayette and had the best time building shapes, climbing around the pirate ship, pushing all the buttons, and watching the look of excitement and wonder light up Jackson's face. It was such a perfect day that I never want to forget. As I mentioned last week, I loved my childhood and hope to give our son the same fun, carefree one that I was so blessed to have.

Oh to be a kid again.. I pray Jackson doesn't wish the time away and grow up too quickly!
Please stay little forever!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Adventures in Sleep Training

Disclaimer: I'm not writing this post to create any type of controversy or debate -- I know that every one of us has our own ideas and opinions about sleep training/co-sleeping. This is our account of sleep training and what worked best for our son.
If you've been around my part of the Internet for the last year or so, you know all about our co-sleeping adventures with Jackson. 

As some of you may remember, Jax was born two weeks early and was admitted to the NICU hours after being born because of his grunting and inability to cry. Fortunately, after a day and a half, Jax showed signs of improvement and we were sent home. Once we were home and began adjusting to life as a family of three, we discovered that Jackson wasn't the greatest sleeper and was always wanting to be cuddled and fed. Since this was our first child and we had virtually no other experience with a newborn, we decided to just roll with the punches and let him sleep in bed with us for the time being since he was a bit premature and may have just needed the extra comfort and warmth.

Fast forward a year and Jackson was still sleeping in bed with us.

We had (kinda) tried crib training Jackson in the past but it wasn't working--we tried letting him cry-it-out during his regular nap time but my mamma heart couldn't take the crying and I'd end up picking him up and laying down with him a few short minutes later. Then in November, when I was sick with a bad case of bronchitis, my doctor prescribed me a codeine cough syrup to help me get some much needed sleep and we attempted some "emergency" crib training (I'm normally a very light sleeper and feel Jax's every move but wasn't willing to risk rolling over on/nursing him in my narcotic induced state). Needless to say, he was back in bed with us 45 minutes later and I settled on just taking some Robitussin.

Then on New Year's Eve, Brandon found a deal on airline tickets that got us thinking about taking a weekend vacation away.. just the two of us.. without our darling little bed sharer. Long story short, that ended up not working out but the next day, I found a good deal on a flight and hotel in Vegas and decided to just go ahead and book it.

That was the final nail in the coffin (so to speak)--we had to sleep train Jackson.


By that Friday night, Brandon put Jackson in his crib against both his and I wishes we were ready to give it a shot. After our nightly nursing session, we put Jax in his crib and without skipping a beat, he began to scream bloody murder. It took every fiber of my being to not go in there and rescue him from his cold jail cell of a crib--I finally had to go downstairs to do dishes just to resist the urge to "save" him.

While Brandon was taking his "shift" and checking in on Jackson every couple of minutes, I let the hot tears pour down my cheeks and onto the dirty dishes. I prayed for strength and self control on my part, patience on Brandon's, and peace for our confused little Jax. After I finished loading the dishwasher and turned off the faucet, I braced myself for the shrill screams of an angry and tired toddler. Do you what I heard instead? Nothing.

I heard nothing.

I tiptoed upstairs, peeked into Jax's room, and saw my husband leaning over the crib, rubbing our sons back, and reassuring him that everything was okay while Jax laid there in a calm and dreamlike state.

Was this real life? Was our son actually calm? In his crib?

I had every intention of just letting Jackson cry it out all night but my husband surprised me and tried a different method he'd read about earlier that day.

Here's what he did:
  • Quietly walked into the room and softly reassured him that everything is okay.
  • Encouraged him to give Elmo a hug (Elmo is Jackson's version of a security blanket or lovey), which got him to lay down. 
  • Rubbed his back until he fell asleep.
I wish I could say this method kept him asleep for hours straight but alas, Jax was up again a few short hours later (which is when we started the process over again). But it was progress.

We've been consistent in using the same method for over two weeks now (with the exception of the night he was running a high fever and just wanted to be held) and things are getting better and better each night. Jax now LOVES his crib and squeals with delight every time he sees his Elmo and music/light machine waiting for him. We still need to work a bit more on teaching him ţo self sooth and fall back asleep on his own but we figure we'll take everything one night at a time. One great article I read in regards to sleep training recommended letting your child hold onto a stuffed animal/lovie/security blanket during nursing sessions so they begin to associate that item with being comforted and cared for. I've done that with Elmo and it has made a huge difference.

I never thought that Jackson would be sleeping on his own (in fact, I figured he'd be co-sleeping until he was 16) so the fact that he's falling asleep and staying asleep in his crib for a few hours at a time is a really big deal. I also forgot how nice it is to be able to sprawl out in bed, cuddle with, and be a little more, err.. spontaneous with my husband--I'd say that sleep training has been a win/win/win for the entire family.

Over the next week, we'll be working more on drinking whole milk (versus breastfeeding) and self soothing so stand by for another lengthy blog post.

Which method worked best for your little one when it was time to sleep train?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jackson's 13 Month Update

Sweet toddler boy turns 13 months old today (which is kinda weird because it feels like we celebrated his 1st birthday months ago--sooooo much has happened this month with Christmas, New Years, anniversary, sleep training, etc.)!

Jackson is seriously such a joy to be around--he's so social, fun, curious, and smart! We've been all kinds of busy this month so I'll stop with the chit chat and get to the good stuff.

Weight: 19 lbs. (taken on bathroom scale)

Length: 29 1/2 inches

Nicknames: Jax, Stinker, Baby, Jacksie, Bubbies

Wearing: 12 & 18 month clothes (18 month shirts fit pretty well but the pants are still way too long); Size 3 diapers

Sleep: He's sleeping on his own!! In his crib!! More on that below.

Jax likes: Mo mo (Elmo), other little kids, showing off, stickers, cats, pulling things out of drawers, the vacuum, giving kisses, brushing his teeth, putting on mommy's jewelry, cuddling, pulling Siri up on mommy's phone, pushing all the buttons on daddy's phone, climbing the stairs, the music/light machine in his crib, messing with locks & door handles, playing with wrapping paper/tape/bows/boxes, reading, and pushing buttons.

Jax dislikes: Sitting still for diaper changes, falling, being left out of anything, being pushed down by bigger kids at the library (which mamma wasn't too happy about either)

Food: Jackson is getting to be more and more picky (ugh) and only likes cheese, peanut butter, crackers, veggie noodles, sweets, Belvita Biscuits, Greek yogurt, and breads. #chiaseedsonallthefoods We're going to start really pushing whole milk this weekend.

Teeth: 4 teeth on bottom and two up top--cutest. thing. ever!! He has a few more getting ready to poke through up top, too! It's amazing how much older he looks with his little teeth.

Happenings: Second Christmas; first (failed) experience playing in the snow; second New Years; lots and lots of playing at the library, toddler gym, park, and museums; staying with Great Aunt Nancy & Uncle Rolf when mommy & daddy went out to celebrate their wedding anniversary; 4th haircut; trip to see Grammy & Grandpa; several visits from Grammy, Grandpa, & Uncle Joe; sleeping in crib (!); and lots of playing in our backyard.

~Jackson had a wonderful 12 month well check and impressed his doctor with his fine motor skills (the term she used was "incredible" which made me very proud)! His weight was in the 10th percentile, length in the 25th, and head in the 95th. I asked if we should be concerned in regards to his weight but she said not to worry; he's just a little guy and is right on track (he weighed 5 lbs 13 oz when he was born so he's tripled his weight which is what they hope to see)!

Swinging at the park
~This kid seriously turned one and RAN--it's amazing how much he's learned/changed over the last month! He now says a few words including Dada, Mama, Mo Mo (Elmo), Nah (No), I (Hi), AAA (YAY!), & nigh nigh; brushes his teeth with his big boy Elmo toothbrush; points to things he wants; climbs up and down the stairs by himself (with close supervision); puts necklaces and hats on by himself; and figures out ways to get into things he isn't supposed to. 

~I know I'm a little biased but this kid is so, so, so smart! He is fascinated by trying to plug cords into wall outlets (which isn't good but we have the fancy built in protectors so I don't have to keep quite as close of an eye on him), door handles & locks, light switches, and anything mechanical. Maybe he'll be an engineer like his Grandpa Tony? He also understands a lot of what we tell/ask him now and can go find things for us, point to certain people in pictures, and is trying so hard to do "Patty Cake" & "Itsy Bitsy Spider" on his own.

This kid LOVES kitties and squeals every time he sees Smokey (Grammy & Grandpas mean cat)
~Is it bad that Jax is already becoming embarrassed by his mom (I thought I had a few more years before that happened)? Example: Every morning, Jax and I dance to the closing credits on "Sesame Street" and then go eat our breakfast.. anyway, on Monday he was doing his own thing and didn't want me to pick him up to dance so I started dancing on my own while he looked on in horror and then shook his head "no" and went back to playing with his toy.

~Ah, sleep.. sweet, sweet sleep. Sleeping training has actually gone much, much better than Brandon and I had expected! He's been sleeping in his crib for about two weeks now and while we still have to get up a few times a night to go in, reassure him, and rub his back until he goes back to sleep, he pretty much has the hang of it and enjoys his crib. I will have a much, much longer post in regards to sleep training (hopefully) next week.

 ~This kid is such a little thrill seeker and loves going down the big slides (while sitting on someones lap), swinging high on the swings, and jumping around with mommy--we'll see if he's a roller coaster enthusiast like his parents!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Skinny Reese's Peanut Butter Bars

We're almost one month into 2015..'s your New Year's resolution coming?

Mine is going great! I resolved (as I do every year) to not even make a resolution and so far, it's going really well! But wait.. did I break my resolution to not make a resolution by resolving to not make one?

I digress.

Anyway, if you have a super sweet tooth like I do and resolved to eat better in 2015, you're in luck! Today I am sharing some super yummy Reese's like bars that are low in calories and high in flavor. Brandon found this recipe and I made a few simple tweaks to keep skinny.

Enjoy these simple no bake Skinny Reese's Peanut Butter Bars!

  • 1 cup margarine (melted)
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
  • 2 cups all-natural sugar substitute (like Whey Low, Truvia, or SweetLeaf)
  • 1 cup + 4 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter 
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1) In a medium bowl, mix together the melted margarine, graham cracker crumbs, sugar substitute, and 1 cup natural peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan.
2) In a metal bowl over simmering water, or in the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over the peanut butter layer.
3) Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

My 2016 resolution is to make these more often.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Let Them Be Little..

On Friday, I took Jackson to our awesome local library (AKA our new happy place) to play around, read, and kill some time before Brandon arrived home from work. We played around inside for about a half hour before Jax started peering at the "big kids" playing outside.

He. Wanted. Out. So. Badly.

Since it was a nice day, and since my little toddler wan pining to go play with the school aged kids, we went outside--and it was awesome! I had no idea that there was a hands on area in the back complete with musical instruments, playground, smooth wood pieces to build with, and much more. Of course, Jackson wanted nothing to do with that and instead crawled all around in the rocks, grass, and all over the plastic boardwalk (complete with several steps for a curious tot to climb up and down).

It's amazing how Jackson turned one and just RAN--he seriously changed from a baby to a little boy over night and is now fascinated by blocks, Legos, books, and dirt (this kid loves him some dirt). Sure, dirt is a pain to clean off clothes but it's easy to wipe off tiny hands and faces so I let him pick up rocks, crawl through the grass, and explore this exciting new place.

He was in heaven and I was having the best time following him, admiring the rocks he proudly showed me, and just taking the moment in.

That's when I heard a voice come from behind us.

"You let him just play in the dirt and get all dirty like that?"

I turned around to see another mom (whose kids had been playing inside the library the same time Jax and I were) staring in horror at my joyously dirty son and his (in her mind) negligent and irresponsible mother.

"Oh, yeah?" I answered, taken aback by her question.

"Whatever, I guess." she responded as she rolled her eyes and walked off with her two kids.

I was stunned and couldn't find the words to respond. 

Was I wrong for letting Jackson play outside? I mean, sure, he was getting dirty but he wasn't being rambunctious or causing any kind of trouble. I kept going over the scenario in my head and tried to figure out why she'd be upset with me for letting him play.

Another 15 minutes passed before the sun began to set and it was time to go home and get Mr. Jax into the bath. On the short drive home, I started thinking about my own childhood and how I was always outside with my brother, next door neighbor/best friend, and all the other neighborhood kids--climbing on the swing set, jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler under it, and playing Power Rangers in the front yard are just a few of my fondest childhood memories.

I loved my childhood.

Every time I think back on our neighborhood hide-and-seek games and catching of crawdads and garter snakes (and naming them Sarah Michelle Gellar), I can't help but smile.

I want my kids to have that same kind of childhood.

If Jackson wants to dig in the dirt for worms to take fishing, he should be able to.

If he decides he doesn't like getting dirty and would rather paint, read, or do something else he enjoys, he should be able to.

If he wants to run around like crazy, partake in water fights, and climb trees, he should be able to.

As long as kids aren't hurting themselves or others and are being respectful, let them run and play.

Let them enjoy that all too short period known as childhood--it goes by way, way too quickly and once it's gone, that's it.

Let your kids be innocent and naive to this crazy and often scary world around them.

Let them figure out what they like doing and what they're good at (whether it be sports, art, music, etc.).

Let them get dirty.

Let their imaginations soar.

Let them be little.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


As you may have noticed, my blog game is kinda weak this week (sorry about that) so I thought I'd do a quick catch up on all of the exciting adventures of the Sandmeier family!

Sleep Training/Daddy & Mommy's Baby-less Vegas Trip
Since Jackson was born, he's slept in our bed. When he was a tiny newborn, he'd begin each night in his Rock & Play next to our bed and then move into his Boppy (on our bed) after his first early morning nursing session. Anyway, when he turned about a month old, we ditched the Rock & Play and Boppy and he'd just sleep on top of the covers in the crook of my arm (which makes for much easier nursing sessions). Fast forward a year and nothing has changed.

Brandon has been saying since Day 1 that we need to crib train and stop letting Jackson sleep in bed with us but I was never on board (I love being able to snuggle all night with such a cuddly little baby!); however, Jax was starting to pull away from me in the night to lay on his stomach which set off a green light in my head that he was probably ready to sleep on his own. 

I just wasn't ready for him to sleep on his own. And the most selfish mom of the year award goes to..

While laying in bed on NYE, Brandon noticed that one of the major airlines was having a big $20.15 (one-way) sale to select destinations and made a comment about how we should take advantage and go somewhere. Long story short, none of the $20.15 times/days worked with our schedule but it put the idea into both of our heads of how nice it would be to go away for a weekend with just us. 

No changing diapers? No cutting food into bite sized pieces? No having to constantly hold a curious toddler up to the door so he can play with the locks/handle? Time alone with my husband? It sounded like a dream come true! (Don't get me wrong--being Jackson's mom is my favorite job ever but a nice little break to recharge sounded heavenly)

While Brandon was at work the next day, I began browsing travel sites for vacation packages and found an awesome one to Vegas that I decided to book and surprised Brandon with. When I told him the news, he was thrilled and immediately began looking at different shows to see (we're seeing Cirque du Soleil's Ka--we try to attend a different Cirque show every time we go on vacation and have seen the one in Orlando as well as Beatles Love in Vegas) while I scoped out the Groupons. 

The sad (for me)/hard part of taking this vacation? It was finally time to crib train Jax. 

We've tried crib training a few times in the past but it was never anything we really stuck to but knew that this time had to be different. So last Friday night, we began--and he actually did way better than we'd expected! I nursed him and then Brandon put him in his crib and stood by him, rubbed his back, and talked to him until he fell asleep. He slept for about an hour before waking up again which is when I went in and did the same thing (back rub/talking) for about 10 minutes--and then he slept for 3 1/2 hours! I felt invincible and wondered why we hadn't tried this months earlier!

That's when it happened.

I woke up at around 2am feeling incredibly engorged (I'm used to Jax "comfort nursing" on and off throughout the night) and felt a gigantic lump in my right breast. I figured it was the start of mastitis and began to panic. When Jax woke up again at around 3am, I brought him back into bed with us so I could let him nurse for awhile and hopefully kick whatever I had before it got worse. Long story short, I had a clogged milk duct (most painful thing EVER) that luckily never turned into mastitis but took a good 3 days to work out. 

On Saturday night, I went ahead and kept Jax in bed with us so he could nurse off and on again all night and promised Brandon we'd try sleep training again on Sunday night. And we did..

..but with the Pack n' Play in our room. 

He didn't seem to be able to get very comfortable in his Pack n' Play so we ended up moving him back into his crib on Monday night (where he kept waking up over and over). I'm pleased to announce that Jax is currently napping like a little angel in his room after fighting the urge to sleep, his crib, and me for 2 whole hours!

It's definitely going to take some time to get Jackson sleep trained but we're going to keep at it.. it'll definitely help Grammy & Grandpa out a bunch when they babysit him during our Vegas trip! Stay tuned for an even longer blog post regarding our experience with sleep training/my clogged milk duct (a story that I'm sure you're all dying to hear). 
Sunday night snoozing in the Pack n' Play.
Nap time on Monday--I'd nurse him until he was just barely awake, would lay him down, and then he'd jump up ready to play.. it was a looooong day.
It took two hours but I was finally able to get him to take a nap in his crib!
Out & About
Jackson is such a social little guy and loves to be around other little kids (he shrieks when he sees them--it's so funny!) so I make it a point to get us out of the house to play at least once a day. This week, we've taken several trips to the library, ran/jumped/slid around like mad at a toddler gym, climbed around at the park, and played around in the kids room at the place where Jax gets his hair cut. 

I sure do miss the newborn/tiny baby days but I do have to admit that this is such a fun stage--Jax has the most fun little personality and it's so fun to watch him play and explore! 
Doing his own thang post haircut.
He had such a fun time at the toddler gym and wanted to play with all the "big kids"--mommy got quite the workout in too by taking Jackson up and down the giant inflatable slide several times and by jumping (while holding Jax) in the bounce house.
We stayed with my parents on Thursday and discovered this awesome puzzle at my hometown library--it has all different types of locks and doors to open and close!
These girls were so sweet and patient--Jax was in heaven!
He thought he was pretty hot stuff in his little red car :) He drove, ate his cookie, and yelled at everyone we passed while we grocery shopping on Monday (and mom managed to run into only one display!).
Pinterest Fail
Last February, I designed cute little Valentines with a few of Jackson's newborn pictures and thought it'd be fun to do it again this year. I've seen those adorable pictures of babies with lipstick marks all over them and thought that'd be simple and adorable to do with Jax! This is what happened:
It looks like he's crying but he was actually doing his fake smile and had a hard time keeping his eyes open because of the flash.

If I'd had a better background, lighting, and actually knew how to use our Nikon, these might not have been so bad! I did get a couple decent shots (below) and may still work on editing them and making cards.. we shall see.

Hope you're having a wonderful week!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jackson's Winter One-derland 1st Birthday Party

As many of you know, our little munchkin turned 1 on December 22nd.

As many of you also know, I am obsessed with all things Christmas so I knew the day that Jax was born that I wanted to have a Christmas themed first birthday party! So I began scheming.. and planning.. and Pinning..

I'll go ahead and let the rest of the pictures do the talking:
When I found these invites on Etsy, I knew I'd found the one--doesn't that little boy kinda even look like Jackson?! I think the personalized .pdf file cost $10 and then I had them printed via Shutterfly for next to nothing.
The best part of throwing a Christmas/Winter themed birthday party? The house is already decorated. #boom
I kept the spread as simple as possible by doing all my baking (& freezing) weeks in advance and by buying the cake and snack trays.
Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Snowman Scene Cookies courtesy of the crazy talented Prudy

Boxed brownie mix+canned cream cheese icing+crushed candy cane=This little slice of fattening heaven
Snowflake boxes from the Oriental Trading Company (taking home some of the treats were our party favors!).
I placed a red tablecloth over the oven and set up a hot chocolate bar.
See those adorable straws behind the mint chocolate sticks? I got them at the Dollar Tree (LOVE that place)!
A Nothing Bundt Cake Bundtlette for the smash cake.
We invited close friends and family to the birthday party and Jackson had such a fun time running around, playing with his friends, and being the center of attention.
This kid and his Uncle Joey (my "little" brother)..
He LOVED having everyone sing "Happy Birthday"!

Thank you so much to everyone who made Jax's big day so special--we will never forget everyone's kindness and love that they showed our little guy!
Pure joy.
P.S. When Jax gets a little older and has more of his friends over for birthday parties, we're decorating ornaments and cookies! I better get back to Pinning..
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