Dear Jake,

You're now a whole year old. The last couple of months, I missed on your monthly photos and letters, and I am sorry, but I'm sure you will forgive me. While I was busy with work, I was also busy with you. I'm learning balance in life and I'm trying to learn how to use my time well. This is something I'm not very good at, so you'll have to help me out.

In the last few months, you have learned and grown so much. At about 10 and a half months old, you finally started crawling. I say "finally," because we felt like we'd be waiting forever for you to crawl. Since then, you haven't stopped exploring. You'll crawl to wherever you want, stand up, open, poke around. You love exploring your world and giving your mama mini heart attacks. You learned how to climb stairs at Great Grandma's cabin over the Fourth, and just recently discovered the cement stairs right outside our apartment. Within the last month, you've been practicing standing up, which you can now do without any props. The other day you took your first step without realizing it (daddy had been holding your hands), and on Friday, 8/24, you took a step and a half from where you were standing towards my open arms.

The best part of all of this learning and growing is your personality about it all. You can tell when we are pleased with you, and you get so proud of yourself. Often when you stand, you will clap for yourself. You also get really excited and start bouncing forward on your knees. It's hard to describe, but it's adorable. I'm so in love with your personality. You are so expressive and outgoing, just like your daddy. You love other kids and babies, and love to give them hugs (more hugs are given to our neighbor kids than adults in your family, I'd say). You love watching and laughing at kids on the playground right outside our apartment. You love standing at the living room window, stretching on your tippytoes to look outside. You are usually go-go-go.

Here are some more of your milestones & quirks:

-Understand when we are telling you "no," and usually proceed anyway (ie: turning off/on the Xbox, climbing the stairs, etc.
-Have seven gappy teeth, four top and three bottom
-Say "Mama, Mom, Dada, Da-Dee, ba (ball)"
-Learning how to mimic sounds, like "ee-i-ee-i-oh" from "Old Macdonald"
-Eating more solid foods, and transitioning from breast milk to goat's milk. You'll eat almost anything, and then start throwing food on the floor when you're full. You like: mac and cheese (shells), cheese crisps, sweet potato "fries," black beans, chicken, baked lentil snacks, and more.
-Throw a fit when you don't get your way. Early onset terrible twos, perhaps?
-Something you've done for a while, but I'm not sure if I documented, is that when you drink a bottle, one hand is always playing with your ear or gently pulling your hair.
-Love to wrestle and climb all over us on the floor.
-Very interested in putting things in and taking them out. Your friend Ryan gave you a fish tank toy, that has plastic fish that you put through a slot. Based on the size of the circle on its back, the tank tells you what color the fish is. Because of this, each one must be put in exactly right, and even though it's a toy for older babies, you've pretty much figured it out and it's your favorite toy. Even over the bead coaster that Dad and I gave to you.
-You are so affectionate! You love to give us hugs, and will even put your head on our shoulders when we're holding you. When Daddy is upset with you, you will crawl over to him to give him loves.

As always, there is so much that I'm not thinking of or just simply can't describe. Although parenting you is never easy, you are so much fun at this age and we love your sweet, loving, and energetic personality.

love always,

And the final comparison collage:

I'm basically a hipster.

I suppose you could call me a dreamer. Since I was a young girl, I've made plans about my dream house. I used to want a secret passage that would lead to a totally awesome underground lair, where I would have a fully functional stable for my horse, a game room, and a TV with my favorite movies. There would be a secret hatch at the front door, so I could open it and my friends could joyfully slide down to join me, as well as one in my room.

The life, I tell you.

Well, I don't think I ever grew out of that dreaming and planning. As I grew a little older, I added on a library, a craft room, a pool, and a playroom for the kids. I would actually draw out floor plans on little 3x5 note-cards with colored pencils. A couple more years down the road, I moved on to thinking about interior decorating. I think I was probably about 14 (pre-Pinterest) when I declared that in my children's room or their playroom, I wanted to paint the bottom half of the walls in chalkboard paint (at the time, two-toned walls with chair-rail all the way around were really popular) (at least where I lived). People scoffed at me, and told me that it would teach my kids bad habits, like drawing on walls. I just wanted to be a fun mom.

Smh. And now, here we are in 2013, and chalkboard walls are the new two-toned chair-railed walls of the present. Flip, people slap chalkboard paint on everything. If that's not teaching those scoundrel children bad habits, I don't know what is.

I was so ahead of my time. Pinterest, eat your heart out.

a poster for a birthday.

I'm working on editing pictures and getting Jake's birthday and party written about, but I'm struggling because my laptop battery is on its last leg and the charger has a major short. As in, I can see wires. So, for now, here is Jake's birthday poster. I copied the design from Angela Hardison (I don't feel guilty copying since I'm not going to sell this or market it as my own). I loved how clean, simple, and sentimental it was. I used mostly iPhone/iPod photos, and had so much fun seeing Jake grow through these images. 

I spent two hours teaching myself how to do this in CS5, and another two hours actually putting together the final poster. It might sound a little excessive, but I knew it would be something that I (and maybe someday, Jake) would appreciate for years to come. Then, I had it all printed up and ready to go and left it sitting "safely" on top of the bookcase when we went to Phoenix for his party. Then I realized that I had the poster saved on my flashdrive, but when the Staples in Mesa printed it, it came out way too dark. Whadayagonnado? I'll probably find a fun place to hang this in Jake's room when we move. I love the engineer print and can't wait to do a couple more.

cheers to the freakin' weekend.

Weekends are my favorite for two reasons: no work and time with my boys. I have been taking out my "real" camera more, but here are some quick snapshots from my cell phone. Some are grainy, some are super unflattering (my bangs really need trimmed), but they're all meaningful to me.

On Friday night, we had a bonfire with TJ's dad and two of his brothers. We roasted pre-cooked brats and ate them on whole-wheat buns with mashed avocado and cooked sweet potatoes in the coals, topped with more avocado and roasted red bell peppers and onions. So tasty. Of course, no bonfire is complete without roasted marshmallows, and I've enjoyed sandwiching them between two Keebler fudge cookies. Jake enjoyed getting thoroughly dirty and trying to get to the fire, then chillaxing on my lap until we left.

On Saturday, we headed out to run a couple of errands. I printed a poster for Jake's party at Staples, and then we got groceries. Sam's Club was out of almond milk (!!??), and we asked ourselves probably 20 times why we waited until Saturday to go grocery shopping. We had pretty much no food, so there wasn't much we could do about it. Also, Jake and I were able to get on WIC, which has been humbling and a blessing. It's nice to know that I won't have to stress about having milk for Jake to drink once I stop pumping (I was able to get vouchers for goat's milk), and I felt so grateful to have healthy groceries for us. I know many people have strong opinions about government assistance, but we feel that ultimately, providing for our family is the number one priority. I'm grateful there are programs that help support healthy habits for families who are working hard to make ends meet. 

After our errand-running, I put Jake down for a late nap. When he woke up, we went to dinner with TJ's parents, and then back to their house to watch Skyfall. Jake had an absolute blast pestering their dogs and throwing his own ball and chasing it around (on all fours-not walking yet). That kid has so much energy and is so full of personality. He brings joy to anyone he meets.

On Sunday, we headed off to church, where I substituted the CTR 6 primary class. I only had some minor problems with one kid, which was a relief since 7 six-year-olds by myself was a bit intimidating after only caring for Jake for so long. TJ even got Jake to nap during church, which I can never seem to do. When we got home, we played and wrestled and snuggled. Jake has been struggling with naps lately, and falls asleep better if I hold him. Part of me cringes to do this, but a bigger part of me loves it. That evening, we had dinner with some friends and the food and conversation was nice. 

And now it's Monday and back to the grind of the work week for me. Only 4 more days until another weekend, this one promising to be pretty busy with Jake's first birthday!