Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lions, Tigers, and Komodo Dragons...

Today we packed a cooler for lunch, some sunscreen, and our walking shoes and headed to the Indianapolis Zoo. We had such a great time. It was fun to see Jackson react to some animals and be completely unimpressed with others.

Jackson had his first train ride, his first carousel ride, and fed his first Giraffe (I think it was Justin's first Giraffe feeding too). The poor Giraffe almost didn't get his food from Jackson, because Jackson tried to eat it first. We had to ask the zoo keeper what we were feeding the Giraffe just in case Jackson actually swallowed a little piece. Turns out - it was just a piece of sweet potato...Jackson's favorite!

We had a great family day! Justin and I are looking forward to a summer filled with days like today!

Enjoy some of our favorite pictures from today!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This makes it worth it...

For all of the times I wondered if being a working mother was worth it or not...tonight convinced me it was.

I wouldn't trade my "welcoming committee" for anyone else.

Coming home to this makes leaving each day worth it!

Check out how Jackson greeted me when I arrived home from work tonight! So glad to have moments like this on camera! There will come a day when kissing your Mom isn't so cool...and I will have this to remember!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Way to go, Helio!

Last week, Justin and I decided to attend the Indianapolis 500 this year. At the last minute, we searched online and purchased two tickets. We were so excited!

I had not been to the Indy 500 since I was young. Justin last went before we were married.

We had a great time! Our seats were amazing (see pictures). We could see so much and had such great people around us to add to the fun. Justin and I have already decided to attend next year! :)

The start of the race has always been my favorite. For years, my parents and I would stop what we are doing to listen to Jim Nabors sing "Back Home Again in Indiana." My Dad loved hearing that song and would often spend race day singing it. So when it came time for Jim Nabors to step up to the microphone...Justin and I were both in tears. We toughed out the song and thought of my Dad. Then, we realized that the people around us must think that we either really love Indiana or we really love Jim Nabors. Either way, I'm sure they thought it was odd that we were in tears. :)

Before the race, Justin and I met up with my cousin, Ryan, his girlfriend - Mandi, and her entire family. The Corn family is so much fun! A big thanks to the Corn family for letting us join in their fun.

Enjoy some pictures from race day!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Do I have to share?

If you know us well, you know how much we worried that Jackson didn't like solid foods.

We worried so much that Justin starting joking that Jackson would be eating Gerber Stage 2 foods while on dates with girls during his teen years.

Well, we are worried no more.

For the past two weeks Jackson wants anything and everything off my plate.

At first, I was so excited about his new appetite.

But that excitement was halted tonight when I was enjoying my favorite snack. I had just opened a package of Fudge Striped Mini-Cookies when Jackson heard the package open and came running.

Of course, I shared my beloved snack...and then, as Jackson was licking the fudge off each cookie, I realized I would now be sharing ALL of my snacks...

Hmmm...I'm not sure how I feel about this...I hear teenage boys eat a lot.... :)

Enjoy your holiday weekend!
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Corn Hole Season has begun...

...And Jackson's is ready to play. Who wants to be on his team?

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When did he get so big...

Lately, I look at Jackson and wonder when he became this "big-boy."

Tonight I felt like I had a teenager with me at dinner.

We were eating at one of our favorite restaurants. Jackson actually devoured a meal off the kids menu. While I sat and remembered the Gerber Stage 2 days.

When it was time to leave. Jackson climbed out of his high-chair (with a little help from Dad)...and then proceeded to walk (or waddle) behind Justin all the way to the car.

I walked behind Jackson. I was ready to pick him up if he fell, kiss a scraped knee, and suggest that I carry him the rest of the way. BUT...he never fell.

Instead, when Jackson arrived at our car. He threw his hands in the air as if to say, "I did it" and/or "put me in the car, Mom."

When did he get so big?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jackson's One Year Photos!

Justin and I recently met Brooke and Dan Brand at a nearby park for Jackson's one year old photos. I had hoped for great weather and that is exactly what we got!

Jackson had a great time at the park - but wasn't always willing to "pose." But I didn't worry. I love the photos of him just enjoying himself at the park.

Check out the photos on the Brand Photography Blog. The link is below.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wishing you were here, Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday.

He would have been 65.

All week I have felt as if I should have been rushing out to buy his gift. I probably would have bought him Ann Coulter's new book. I would have given him a hard time about buying into her right wing theories. Then, I would have read it when he was done just to argue some of her points with him.

I remember running to Cold Stone Creamery with my Mom last year for his birthday cake. He loved ice-cream cake. I don't care for it, but would give anything to share a piece with my Dad this year for his birthday.

In honor of my Dad's birthday...I would like to share just a few stories to show what a great father he was. My Dad was a "girls Dad." I'm not sure he would have known what to do with a son. Well, I'm sure he would have figured it out...but, boy, was he great to his three girls. Here is why:
  • When Michelle had just started Valley Grove Elementary as the "new girl", she entered a cake decorating contest. My mom insisted she decorate the cake herself (even though my mom is an expert). My mom thought it would be a good lesson for Michelle to try on her own. My Dad and Michelle arrived at school with her sloppy cake she decorated ...only to find other cakes that were obviously decorated with Mom's help (if not a local bakery). Dad calmly looked at Michelle and said, "Want to get out of here and go to McDonald's?" Michelle took him up on his offer.
  • Years later, when it came time for me to compete in the "invention" contest at school - Mom and Dad learned their lesson. Dad was to "help" me invent something. Dad pulled out his electrician skills and built the "Teenage Telephone Timer." The timer would automatically shut the telephone line off in an instant when the call time was over. I didn't win the "invention" contest...but I think it was because it was obvious I had "help." I didn't care that I didn't win. I was so impressed with my Dad's skills. I thought he was so smart.
  • Having three girls, Dad never complained about attending beauty pageants for us when we were young. Instead, Dad would sit in the back and "gossip" with all the other mothers. At night, after dinner and a swim in the hotel pool...Dad would dish all the scoop he had gathered that day. I remember thinking all the Dad's did this. However, I know that wasn't true.
  • When it came time for Deb and Shel to be in the band in high school. Dad was the "Band Booster President." His plaque showcasing his service to the high school band hung in his office for years. He wasn't so much proud of being president as he was proud to be a part his daughters activity.
  • When I started high-school. I soon realized it wasn't "cool" to ride the school bus anymore. Dad immediately offered to take my friend, Jenny, and I to school each day. However, Dad made sure a stop at McDonald's for breakfast was part of our morning routine. Dad would ask Jenny and I about school, our friends, and activities. I can still picture sitting next to Jenny and across from my Dad with my Egg McMuffin.
  • Speaking of Jenny...She was married in Florida a few years ago. Another long-time friend of mine was married in Florida the same year. As soon as the invites came in the mail. Both my parents were on the computer arranging flights. I always loved the way they loved my friends...and continued to do so as we became adults. My Dad would often ask about them or call me with excitement if he ran into one of them.
  • At the end of my senior year in high school I tried out for cheerleader at Franklin College. I didn't make it. I was crushed. I vividly remember my dad sitting on my bed with me while I cried. All over cheerleading. He didn't care what it was over. He wasn't leaving until I felt better. A couple weeks into my freshman year at Franklin, I was notified that a girl had quit the cheerleading squad and I was asked to join. I had a matter of days before our first game. It was at another college 3 hours away. When the bus pulled up, there was my Mom and Dad. Decked out in their Blue and Gold ready to cheer on the Grizzlies...and me. They came the next week, the week after that, and the next week...
  • My Dad never missed a Prom. I look back at all of my pictures of me getting ready for prom, photos with my date outside, pictures walking into prom, photos with friends after prom...and you can see my Dad in all of them. Both my parents were always involved in After Prom. I can remember Deb's After Prom vividly. My Dad dressed up as a clown in a park and "married" couples who had been to prom together. My mom was the "bag lady" and stood up with each couple as they got "married." I got to attend that After Prom with my parents...and I loved every minute of it. So did my Dad...
  • Having my Dad walk me down the isle at my wedding was one of the bests parts of the day. Justin knows this. We talk often about how much it meant to me. I am Daddy's Little Girl...and I had looked forward to that moment for so long. Dad waited with me downstairs while the rest of the bridal party took their place. I remember he said to me, "I'm proud of you." I thought this was odd...I hadn't really accomplished anything. I fell in love and was marrying the man of my dreams...but I hadn't cured cancer or solved world hunger. Dad explained he was proud of the judgement I had in choosing a husband. He was proud of the adult I had become. I walked down the isle glowing partly because of who was standing at the other end...but also because of what my Dad had said to me.

There are countless other stories I could share to show you how truly lucky my sisters and I are to have had the father that we did. He was one of kind and couldn't have loved his daughters more.

I miss him everyday. I'm sad there won't be chances to create more stories like the ones above. So, instead, I hold on to the ones I do have.

Happy Birthday, Dad. We miss you...and love you even more.

Monday, May 11, 2009

One of these things is not like the other...

Kristen, Deb, Michelle, Mom, Grandma

On Mother’s Day my Grandma, Mom, and sisters sat down for a photo. We were excited that it turned out great.

I quickly came home to download the photo. As I looked at it...I realized how much I don't look like my sisters. Both my sisters have blond hair (though they get a little help with that) and both have very fair skin. I have dark hair and tan easily.

Everyone has always teased me that I was the "Milk Man's" child. Of course, that isn't true...but often think it is funny that I just don't look like my sisters. However, when I pull out old photos of my Mom - I see her short dark hair and I see myself in her a lot. :)

So…I thought it would be fun to take a poll...check it out on the side to the right of the blog. Who do you think I look like? Mom, Michelle, Deb...or the Milk Man?

Jackson's First Birthday Party - Part II

This past weekend, we held another birthday party for Jackson. This time, it was at Grandma Marge's house and all of Justin's extended family joined us to celebrate.

This is such a fun group of people and they have instantly fallen in love with Jackson. We are so lucky to have so many people who love him and who love us.

My Mom and Grandma also joined us for the celebration.

Check out the will notice a lawn mower, a four wheeler, a baseball mitt, and even an interactive pony...add that to a wagon, a firetruck, and a drum set...and this little boy is set for one year of fun! ...And our place officially looks like a Toys R Us. No worries, we are loving it!

A big thanks to all who helped us celebrate Jackson's birthday!

I feel like he will graduate high school next week. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What a difference a year makes!

Mother's Day 2008

Mother's Day 2009

Mother's Day 2009

I hope all of you had a wonderful Mother's day. I hope all of the mother's were showered with love and I hope the rest of you showered your mother with love.

Jackson surprised me with a Spa Day that I am already looking forward to. (He got me the same thing last year and remembered how much I loved it!)

I feel so lucky to be Jackson's mother. Motherhood has surprised me in so many ways. Yet, it challenges me each day. Each night when I tuck Jackson in to bed, I thank God for giving him to us. He has been the sole reason I have made it through a very tough year.

Jackson brings me happiness when I can't find it. He shows me strength when I don't seem to have any. He gives me laughter when I can't seem to laugh on my own.

It seemed odd today for Jackson to give me a gift...because I feel like I owe him so much already.

One day, I will repay him.

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Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms reading this.

Justin and I wanted to take minute to wish some of the special Mothers in our lives a very happy Mother's Day.

Some of you have been moms for quite some time and have fun stories to share.

Some of you became a mother about the same time I did. I have enjoyed swamping "war" stories and laughing together.

Others are celebrating their very first mother's day today. How special!

No matter which category you fall under, we are blessed to have you in our lives.

Happy Mother's Day! Enjoy every minute of it!
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Best Wishes, Jake and Jill!

JT, Jake, Adam, Justin, and Joe

Our good friend, Jake is getting married this weekend. Justin and I wanted to send Jake and his fiance', Jill, our best wishes for a wonderful wedding day...
and an even more wonderful life together.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jackson's First Birthday Party

Well, I think Justin and I both survived Jackson's first birthday. I never questioned whether or not I would make it through the party...but I wasn't sure I would be able to accept that my baby was turning one.

Well, I did it.

Justin and I have spent the past couple of days talking about how big he truly is. We know that there are so many more "firsts" and exciting things to come. Jackson surprises us each day with something new. We look forward to year two!

Thank you for all the calls, texts, e-mails, gifts, cards, and birthday wishes for Jackson. Justin and I know how lucky we are that we have so many people who care about Jackson. We will be sure to remind of this each day.

Also, a BIG thanks to Michelle and Tom for allowing us to host the party at their home. We owe you one!

Enjoy some of our favorite photos of Jackson's First Birthday party.

Watch the larger version in the picassa web album (link on right).

Note: Did you notice Jackson's REAL golf clubs! Grandpa John figured he needed to start his golf game a little early! Tee Hee!

We are celebrating more this weekend with one last party...we will have fun photos to share next week too.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Birthday Update is coming...

I'm still recovering from Jackson's party.

Jackson is still on a sugar high from all the birthday cake. We have all the gifts put away. All the left overs are in the fridge.

However, I just realized I took a gazillion pictures that day and it will take some time to go through them.

Check in tomorrow for the official birthday update...this Mommy is moving a little slow.
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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Jackson is pooped...

Who knew turning 1 is so exhausting?

... and so is Mom and Dad!

Before we hit the sack, we wanted to say a big thanks to all our friends and family who helped us celebrate Jackson's first birthday.

We are very lucky to have all of you in our lives.

Check back in this week to see photos and video from the big day.

One party down, one to go...we will party with Justin's family next week. Can't wait!
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Happy First Birthday, Jackson!

Can you believe our little "baby" is one?

We can't.

We are enjoying a great weekend with Jackson.

Stay tuned for a full birthday report later this week.

For now, join us in wishing Jackson a very happy first birthday.

Dear Jackson,

Happy First Birthday!

It is hard to believe you are already a year old. And what a year it has been.

Your Dad has always told me that everything happens for a reason. This year has been tough and it is hard to say why things had to happen the way they did. But one thing is for sure, God gave us you to help us make it through this tough year. That is exactly what you did. As a mother, I always want to be here for you to lean on. However, the first year of your life I leaned on you. And you never let me down. I promise to never let you down.

I will always be grateful for having you in our lives during this time. Our first year with you wasn't what we expected, yet it was so wonderful. Words can't describe the joy you bring to our lives.

Thank you for being exactly who you are. Thank you for giggling the way you do, for crying at 5:15 a.m this morning, for clapping every time you hear music, for insisting you sit on my lap when I'm at the computer, for wanting to "help" Dad load the dishwasher, for loving to play in the bathtub, for FINALLY eating solid foods, for loving all of your grandparents the way you do, for the best kisses in the world, for always making diaper changes interesting, for having the cutest dimples in the world, and for just being all that makes

I was so scared to become a mother, yet I can't imagine not being your mother. I wish I could slow time down and soak in every moment with you. I promise to do my best to enjoy life with you and I know your Dad feels the same way.

I wish you all the happiness life can hand you.

I can't wait for the next year.

I love you with all of my heart.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

1 year ago today...

I just received an e-mail from a friend, Kristin. She forwarded me an e-mail that I had sent to all of our friends 1-year ago today.

Little did I know, Jackson would arrive ON MY DUE DATE!

Kristin, thanks for sending this. It reminded me how excited I was when Jackson finally decided to arrive!

From: Kristen Bixler []
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2008 10:40 AM
To: Kristen Bixler Personal
Subject: Baby Jackson

Hi all,

Justin and I wanted to let everyone know the update on Baby Jackson.

My due date is Saturday. However, Jackson is showing no signs of arriving on time (must get that from me!). In fact, I even told Justin to go ahead and make a Tee time for Saturday - Only Justin would golf on my due date. :)

I am scheduled to be induced on May 9 (next Friday) unless Jackson comes before then....and babies do have their own agenda.

We will keep you all posted on Jackson's arrival. Thank you all for your love and support through this exciting time!

We hope you are all well.