Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Friday, July 29, 2011

...teach us to number our days.

I read this story a few weeks ago about a man who estimated the number of Saturdays he had left in his lifetime. He then put that number of marbles into a giant jar in his office and each Saturday he would take one marble out. In doing so he learned to live his every Saturday to the fullest- to never waste it- not even one. 
That's how I feel about my time with Jackson. I know that no matter what I only have a finite number of moments with him, a finite number of days and nights of him living in this house with Dan and I. Like it or not the day will come when our little man will move out to make a life on his own. So in my heart I am counting my marbles, making sure to not waste a single minute that I have with him. 

'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' -Psalm 90:12

This week that we've had together has been pure, untainted time for just he and I. We have had offers for playdates and for outings with friends and family and while they all sounded great I selfishly and politely passed. This week was for us. For Jackson and me. Because his days as my only baby are soon coming to a close.

The past few days have been a good balance of exploring and also getting things organized and back in order... they tend to get pretty thrown about in the chaos that envelopes us when we're in our daily grind of dual careers. But the beauty in seeing the world through his eyes is that every single thing has the potential to be fun. Every little thing is its own adventure. 

There were trips out to gather organizing tools that have been on our 'to do' lists- a new dresser for Audrey's ever-growing wardrobe, totes and baskets to organize all of the little things that come along with newborns, a few new learning tools and toys for JP. The eldest furry son went on a trip to get a much-needed bath, hair-cut and nail-clipping. There were a lot of tears when we dropped him off- Jackson must have thought we were leaving him forever- his love for Sammy continues to far out weigh Sammy's love for Jackson. 

The heat outside continues to weigh on unbearable, so we spent a lot of time playing inside.... with balls, puzzles, stuffed animals, books, crayons... you name it, we've played it.

Unfortunately JP is also getting quite a few new teeth at once. One of the downsides of toddler-hood. So there has also been a lot of cuddling and rocking and overall comforting. I'm trying not to think about how this teething thing is going to be a reality in our lives for the foreseeable future. As soon as JP gets through it Audrey will be picking up where he left off. 

Despite the 100+ temperatures, a lot of progress has been made on the addition. Again I am humbled at how essentially designing and building a house is like second nature to Dan. I would have absolutely no idea where to start when it comes to all of the intricate measurements involved, but he seamlessly just goes after it like it's no big thing. 

It's a work of love for him, really. We have been dreaming and planning all of this for nearly 4 years. Since the day we stepped foot on what would become our home together. Dan saw the potential right away. I had to be convinced. But he assured me that we would make this home into what we wanted, no matter what it took and now seeing that come to life is pretty emotional actually. To realize this dream together at such a young age is something we are both incredibly proud of.  

We're not just "adding on more room" and "renovating our house"- we are putting together the HOME in which we will raise our children. We are designing just for our family the perfect retreat to always end each day at, together. We are not only envisioning our future, but we are making it happen. One nail at a time, one board at a time, one step at a time.

As you can imagine, the high heat plus the fact that I'm now 6 months pregnant means that I'm really not a lot of help. So, I'm on "Jackson" duty, cold drinks duty, food duty and most fun of all, I am called out to make important decisions like "how far apart do you want these windows" or "is this how you pictured this layout" or "do you want the stairs to be opened or close?" 


The boys are hard at work outside and I can see my little man starting to move around in his bed, surely waking up from his nap. So, we're off for more adventures...  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Adventure Week: Day 1

This morning we woke up determined to fill the week up with adventures. With countless Mama/JP memories. With teachable moments, a lot of fun and even more laughs. And today did not disappoint. 

We started the day with Jackson's first trip to the Newport Aquarium. He LOVED it. He ran from tank to tank in complete awe of what was before his eyes. I have said it before and I'll say it again- watching him discover new things is one of the absolute most magical parts of being his mom. 
We saw fish of every kind, we talked about how they swim together in a "school" because they are family and family sticks together. We stood in the shark tunnel and I watched my little man fearlessly put his face to the glass, wanting to go inside and swim with what my adult mind perceives as one scary fish. We laughed as we watched the penguins put on their show, Jackson running alongside the front of their tank as they swam beside him. I held him up so he could touch turtles and splash in the shark tank.

We'll be back, many times, we have a pass for the next year. I love that I'll get to share more and more with Jackson over those visits. He craves knowledge. I love that. 

After the aquarium, a trip to the bookstore and a snack break overlooking the river we headed for home for nap time. About 10 minutes into our trip when we were on the highway I started to hear very unwelcome sounds coming from our car. I haven't had a flat tire since I was 16 (when flat tires were a daily event in my 1984 Grand AM piece of...), but there was no mistaking that is what was going on. I put on my flashers and waited for two lanes of traffic to let me pass to the shoulder of the road. Did I mention that this road is a major highway with way too many semi trucks and is NOT a place I ever want to be stranded 6 months pregnant with my baby boy? 
Once semi-safe on the side of the road I began to search for my AAA card. Of course the one time I have ever needed it I can't find it. Luckily Dan was to the rescue, he called from his office and a few minutes later AAA called me to confirm my location and to let me know they would send someone right away. And they did- they are amazing. They were on the scene in about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we also had to wait for the police because the position on the road was just too dangerous for the AAA man (Lee) to change our tire without an officer helping to guard him from traffic. Well the police apparently don't move as quickly as AAA and we waited for over an hour and 15 minutes before an officer finally showed up. Long story short, Lee, our hero from AAA quickly changed our tire and we were back on our way. Many, many snacks, stories and goofy songs and games to keep Jackson a happy boy. Operation: Adventures Day 1 accomplished.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

rest up, little man.

Rest up, my handsome little man. Tomorrow morning we are kicking off "Mama & JP's Adventure Week"... we have places to go, people to see, things to learn... it's going to be AMAZING!

Our blanket fort from earlier in the week- all you need for hours (in toddler time) of entertainment are blankets, the dining room table, your piggy pillow pet, blankie and a few snacks. 

{design inspiration}

renovation progress

Yesterday marked my first day of "Summer 2011 Staycation" also known as "Mama & JP's Adventure Week" also known as "work on the addition" weekend. Whatever you want to call it, I am just happy to know that: 1. I have a full week of pure Jackson time ahead of me and 2. Dan with the help of some family and friends made a lot of progress on the addition yesterday (in the hot HOT heat I might add).
You can now see the addition taking shape. The first floor (the garage) had been framed up last week and yesterday the guys set all of the floor joices for the second floor (the great room) and put into place the sub-floor and giant beams that go above the garage door.

We are so thankful that my dad, brother Jordan, father-in-law and a family friend/our contractor were all on board to help. Dan and I made the decision a long time ago that we would hire out 95% of this work- one because we just don't have the time to do it with both working full-time, having a toddler and another baby on the way, but also because with having so much family close by we didn't want anyone to ever feel like they needed to come and help, giving up their own valuable personal family time. So, instances such as yesterday will be purposefully rare which makes us all the more grateful for the support. 

When Jackson woke up he could already hear the work going on outside, so he pushed his chair to the window and when he realized that not only was Daddy working, but also Poppy, Papaw and Jordan he almost went crazy asking to go "out-sigh"... but the poor guy just had to watch from inside because honestly the heat was way too much for him to handle. He handled it like a champ and rarely left the chair watching them work throughout the day. 

A view of our new garage. Dan did a great job of designing it so that the ceilings are quite high for a garage, making it feel spacious and open. The line of windows along the side are more for the visual appeal from the outside since almost the entire wall of the great room will be windows spanning the three floors (garage to second floor). I think that eventually when the kids are older we may turn this garage into a rec room for our pool table and build a new garage separately from the house.

One of my absolute favorite things about our house is that when you're inside you almost feel as if you're in a tree house from many of the rooms. It makes for beautiful, peaceful views year round. 
And of course we couldn't forget about our other little helper, Audrey Danielle who I am now 24 weeks along with. Audrey: your arrival is the deadline for this project, lets all hope we can make that happen!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

my handsome butt

the power of balance

Life has been pretty heavy lately- both for the good and the not-so-good. We have experienced a lot of loss while at the same time celebrating daily that we are one day closer to meeting our beautiful Audrey. We have been getting caught up in the chaos that comes along with a major home addition project, dodging the piles of toys that we just don't have time to pick up some days, while still taking the time to take deep breaths together to just be as a family. We have been working like crazy, always moving forward, yet standing solid and unwavering in that our little family comes first- every single time. It's called balance. And the more I live the more I believe it's one of the biggest, yet most simple, secrets of life.

I have dealt with anxiety my entire life. It seemed to just be a part of the package that is me- the me who is always trying to be the absolute best at everything. And you know what, I think I'm okay with that. I'm okay with feeling those creeping feelings of anxiety because I'm learning to flip them on their head and use them for the better. To remind me to slow down or speed up, to spend more time here and less time there, to focus on that instead of this... to find my balance. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

our little monster

On Saturday morning Jackson and I went to the water park. He is not a big fan of water in general, but I wanted to give it a shot. He was a little weary at first, but had warmed up to it quite a bit by the time we left, although was still very calculated about where he would play in order to avoid the dreaded water in the eyes. His hair dried on the car ride home and this is what his mess of curls looked like... totally adorable and totally out of control- add in his "smile for the camera" look and you've got yourself a little monster. 

A few days ago Jackson found his vibrating seat from when he was an infant in the back of his closet. He thought it was pretty cool and has since pulled it out every day to the living room to play with. He has deemed it his throne apparently. He now wants to eat in it, read books in it and watch baseball in it. This morning he made it clear that he wanted mama to feed him his breakfast while he lounged in his throne. Little does this King know that Princess Audrey is going to be sharing his royalty status in a few short months.

Yep, pretty sure he knows he's adorable and rotten. I am sure those around me get so tired of me telling Jackson stories, but I cannot tell you how true it is when I say that having him in our lives is the absolute biggest blessing and the most entertaining part of our every day. Honestly, he is hilarious... so, so hilarious. 
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