Wednesday, February 3, 2016

That Kid! (Volume 1)

I know that I said I wasn't going to post any more of Jackson's monthly updates after he turned two, but... he's learning/growing/changing so much and I want to document and share it! That being said, I have decided to start a monthly series entitled "That Kid!" (which is what I say whenever he does something funny/surprising/cute/etc.) that recaps what our boy has been up to.

Here has what he's been up to since December 22nd:

~We had Jackson's 2-year well check a few days after we returned from Mexico and all was well! Jax is still a little squirt (10% for height; 3% for weight) but pleasantly surprised the doctor when he grabbed a pen and began meticulously drawing on a piece of paper... she said his fine motor skills are excellent, but was concerned as to why he still isn't saying much. We have an appointment to get his speech evaluated later this month and as soon as I made the appointment, he began repeating everything we say. Little stinker! He reminds me SO much of his cousin, Benny (Brandon's sister's son) in terms of development -- Benny was also a late walker/talker and is now a brilliant little 6-year-old. We're still going to go to his appointment though, so stand by for an update later this month.

~As I mentioned, Jax is now repeating everything we say and knows his entire alphabet (he doesn't say it very clearly, but can point to random letters and numbers on command)! It's amazing just how much he's grown and changed over the last month :( See below for videos of him doing his alphabet and animal sounds.

~Jackson's sense of humor absolutely kills me! He's gotten to the age where he tries to make people laugh by making funny faces, tickling, etc. He is also quite the little mimicker and will pretend to cough, laugh, and sneeze if he hears someone doing it within a two-mile vicinity.


~Cutest video ever (that fits Jackson's personality to a t)!


~As I mentioned in our recent "big boy" room reveal, Jax is FINALLY into reading and I couldn't be more excited! His favorites right now are Good Night Colorado (which we read 4-5 times a day -- here he is doing the motions), Annie Bananie, and Tom & Jerry's Merry Christmas.

~Major bragging post (bear with me): A few weeks ago, we went to a BBQ at a friend's house and everyone there couldn't get over how well behaved and content Jax is -- one of the couples there was talking about how when their kids were two, they were into everything, whereas Jax just likes to walk around and look at things, but never touches them. We are so lucky to have such a content guy who listens well and finds ways of entertaining himself (like at church last week when he put on Chapstick for the entire hour)!

~Last weekend we went to my parent's house for my mom's birthday/my hometown museum's annual fundraiser dinner and Jax was SO against wearing a tie until he saw my dad wearing one... After that, he thought he was pretty cool stuff and even pretended to straighten it like grandpa.

~I'll go ahead and wrap up this post by gushing about how independent/smart this little guy is! He picks up things SO quickly (we have a 26 piece alphabet puzzle that he can do in a matter of minutes) and is such a big help anymore -- he even likes getting his own water when he's thirsty!









Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jackson's "Big Boy" Room

When I first found out that Brandon and I were going to have a baby, a million different things raced through my mind...

Would it be a boy or a girl?

Would he or she look more like Brandon or me?

What would we choose for a name?

How would we decorate the nursery?

Since we didn't know what we would be having until our 20-week appointment, I wanted to pick a gender neutral nursery theme that I could start working on right away... but what? One day, when I was out thrifting with my mom, I saw the CUTEST old painting of a kitten, which inspired me to create a vintage theme for Baby Sand's nursery.

And I LOVED it.

A few weeks after Jackson was born, Brandon accepted a network engineering position out in Denver, so we had to quickly pack up and move everything from our little rental house in Kansas. I was SO bummed to leave all of my hard work behind and came to terms with the fact that I would never be able to decorate another room for Jackson that I liked as much as his original vintage nursery.

I am happy to report that his new "big boy" room exceeded all my expectations and that I (and more importantly, Jax) couldn't love it any more!
The gallery wall is still a work in progress... but at least he can recognize the letter J! 
I lose track of the number of times each day Jax leads me into his room to read... and I couldn't love it anymore! (Though I am never allowed sit in this chair -- from Target -- I have to sit on the floor to read to him.)
My Aunt Cheryl made Jackson this quilt before he was born and it is still one of my favorite things in his room! One of Jax's favorite things to do is to stand on his changing table and point to the different scenes on the quilt.  
Ikea Spice racks (repainted white) and an Ikea Wall lamp.
The pièce de résistance is Jackson's new "big boy" bed, which was completely designed and crafted by Brandon! 
The making of the bed...
The finished product!! I'm not sure who's more proud of the bed -- Brandon or Jax! 
I can't help but feel happy anytime I step foot into Jackson's room... it feels like such a fun and colorful storybook oasis to me and I hope it is something that Jax will continue to enjoy for the next few years! (Or until I get the urge to redecorate again...)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Happy Birthday, Bella!

One year ago yesterday, we adopted our sweet Bella from an animal rescue...

Little did we know, we were adopting a best friend for Jackson, a writing partner/lap warmer for me, and a cuddle buddy for the entire family! (And little did Brandon know, I would one day be planning a "birthday party" for Bella, complete brownies and singing.)


Happy Birthday, Bells! Thank you for showing us such love and patience over the last year!

(You can read Bella's full adoption story here.)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Organizational JOY

As I shared a few weeks ago, I decided to pick a word for 2016 instead of a single resolution...

...and that word, as you may remember, is joy. 

This year I am trying to live more joyfully by doing little things that make me happy (reading, indulging in candy from time to time, strolling the aisles of Target just for the heck of it, etc), as well as bringing joy into the life of others every chance I get. 

While picking my brain on December 31st for more small things that I could add to my joyful list, it occurred to me: being less stressed in 2016 would bring me copious amounts of happiness! But just how would I go about doing it?

If you know me in real life, you may know that I am an extremely anxious person who worries over the most mundane of things -- it's how I've been the last 25 years and is how I will probably be the rest of my life. Anyway, between being a mom and writing for a living, I have had many a restless night where I stare at the ceiling and think about everything I should be doing instead of sleeping.

I have state posts that need to be written.

Those newspaper articles aren't going to edit themselves.

What about scheduling posts for MT? I can't forget to do that on Tuesday and Thursday!

And the bulletin announcement for our mom's group at church... Did I really forget to submit it again?! 

You get the picture. 

Since I do all these things from home, I try to do them around Jax's schedule (because babies don't keep and I'd rather spend my time with him), which freaks me out even more because I only have so many hours in the evening to finish everything.

Ugh. Ugh. UGH!

Then it hit me: Get a planner, you dummy! So I did... and it's one of the best investments I ever made.
So much joy in one picture: My pretty planner, coffee, a candle, gummies, and chubby little toddler fingers :)
At the beginning of each week, I figure out what all needs to be written, what chores need to be done, which days we're meeting with friends, doctors appointments, play groups, conference calls, etc. and get it all evenly distributed over the 7-day period. Now, instead of thinking I have to vacuum, do laundry, clean bathrooms, write 10 articles, and go to the library with Jax all in one day, I can look at my schedule, see that I only have to write my OIYS posts, maybe schedule MammaTech social media from my phone, vacuum downstairs, clean the bathroom, and then spend the rest of the day building Legos and reading with my favorite little guy.

And the best part? Once I complete a task, I get to check it off my list :D 
Work to-dos on top; chores on bottom.
Ahh, sweet, sweet joy! 

Do you have a word you live by? I would love to hear it!! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

...turn and face the strange! ~ R.I.P. David Bowie ~

Last weekend brought a big change to the Sandmeier home...

...Jackson now has his own "big boy" bed!

As I've stated time and time again, Jackson absolutely hated his crib (which was our fault, considering we didn't make him start sleeping in it until after he turned one) and had recently started sleeping with us again, which wasn't working for anyone. After a little deliberation, Brandon and I decided that maybe he would do better in an actual bed and took my parent's twin-size mattress out of storage.

Almost immediately after deciding this, the (carpentry) wheels in Brandon's head began to turn and he made it his mission to build Jackson a custom frame.
A little sneak peek! 
Brandon worked all weekend long on an awesome frame for Jax's bed, which he plans to stain and complete by next weekend -- so check back next to see the finished product, as well as the looooooooooong awaited reveal of Jax's room (that I've been teasing for about 6 months now)!
I'm not sure why I was so emotional over the crib being taken apart... Jackson hardly ever slept in it!
Since Jackson's bed won't be finished for another week, we set up a temporary frame (and removable mesh rail) to get him used to sleeping in his bed. Saturday night was his first night and he actually did better than we'd expected. (Needless to say, he was pretty wound up over his new bed and just wanted to jump/play in it, but once I was able to get him to lay down with me, he was out and slept alone until 4:30, when he woke up screaming... at that point, I was still asleep and brought him into bed with us. #babysteps)

Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

MammaTech is Looking for Writing Talent!

2015 was an exciting year for our family. Between traveling, new jobs, and exciting milestones for Mr. Jackson, it was a fun and memorable year. One of my favorite parts of last year, however, was helping launch MammaTech, a new parenting blog that focuses on the intersection of parenting and technology.

As the mamma of a toddler and wife of a network engineer, I find technology to be somewhat of an obsession in our home... but how much tablet time is too much for Jackson? Do I need to make a conscious effort to not check my emails as much in front of him? And just how the heck do I navigate the TV now that it runs through the Xbox One? We all have these questions and at MammaTech, we can figure it out together.

At MammaTech, our mission is very simple:  to provide parents and caregivers - like me and you - with insight, support, and community in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of technology. Topics we have already covered to date include 10 top apps for toddlers, the importance of "unplugging" from technology to spend time with family, and the controversial After School app that teenagers have been using. 

Now I'm going to ask you:

Do you enjoy what you read on MammaTech?
Do you agree or disagree with anything we say?
Do you have strong opinions regarding children and technology?
Do you enjoy writing professionally or as a hobby?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, we want to hear from you!

This year, we plan to grow both the site and community, and that is where we need your help. We are currently looking for mamma writers from all walks of life to join our mission and grow our author base: are you a modern, tech-savvy parent who is interested in sharing your knowledge and experience of raising children in the digital age?  If so, I'd love to hear from you!  Please email me directly at annie@mammatech.com if you would like to share in our mission and become part of the MammaTech team.

We can't wait to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#VivaLaSandmeier2016

It's hard to believe that Brandon and I said our "I do's" three whole years ago! It doesn't seem like it has been that long, yet at the same time it feels like we've been married forever. (Just to clarify, I don't mean that in a snarky way -- I mean it as "How has it only been 3 years when we've lived in 4 different places, have a toddler, different jobs, taken so many vacations, etc.) Anyway, to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary, we decided to take a trip to Cancun for 4 glorious nights of all-inclusive heaven!

We ate (and ate and ate and ate).

We drank (and drank and drank and drank).

We napped.

We slept in.

We laid by the beach and tanned/read.

It was absolutely GLORIOUS!

This was actually my first trip out of the country, so I wasn't sure what to expect... Customs in Mexico was a bit of a pain (loooooooong lines), but everything else was absolutely perfect. We stayed at the Sun Palace and I cannot recommend it enough. Not only is it all-inclusive, but it's also adult and couples only, which made the experience so much quieter and calmer. And the staff? Nicest. people. ever.

Anyway, I have so many memories and stories I want to document, so please bear with me and my photo/story dump:

Our room... If I had to live there, I wouldn't be mad...
The view from our balcony... we slept with the door open every night so we could hear the ocean. 
On our first night, we were just plain tired and went to our room after dinner at the Mexican restaurant, ordered room service, and watched the Avs game (which ironically was the only thing we could find in English!).
Enjoying the beach on our anniversary :)
Brandon and I both gained at least 5 lbs. in 4 days... no joke. I have been on a major sugar detox since arriving home.
Couples massage at the spa = unreal. 
I had a few too many fruity drinks and vaguely remember this picture or this show. 
When we walked onto the beach Wednesday morning, we were waved over by a man in a tent asking us if we'd like to go parasailing (which in hindsight was probably a huge red flag, but we didn't think much of it). Since we didn't go on any tours, we decided "why not?" and handed our money to the gentleman -- it all went downhill from there. I naively thought I could bring my phone with me (so the men on the boat could take pictures for us), but realized that was a huge mistake as soon as we got on the jet ski and felt the waves crashing angrily against us. I asked the man we gave our money to if he wouldn't mind holding my phone (jet ski guy was in a hurry and wasn't about to let us off) and panicked when I saw him take it and set it on another jet ski. I tried not to think too much about it and just enjoy the experience, which worked... until the jet ski flipped over and sent Brandon, the driver, and me into the ocean. (I was probably under water for 4 seconds, but all I could think about was how the jet ski was probably floating right over us and how we wouldn't be able to come up for air and would drown, leaving poor Jackson without his parents. Overly dramatic? Nah.) Thanks to our somewhat trusty life vests, we weren't underwater for too long and were quickly pulled onto the speedboat. As we sat on the boat drying off and awaiting our turn, I began feeling nauseous... I typically don't get any sort of motion sickness, but I was DEFINITELY feeling it today. It was finally our turn to get strapped in and shoved out, so I said a quick prayer and off we went. It was a very beautiful view and felt surreal to actually be parasailing in Mexico... but as I gazed down at the crashing waves below us, I felt more and more sick. What was supposed to be this romantic moment with my husband quickly came to an end as I began gagging/heaving over the Gulf of Mexico. After (what felt like) 4 hours, we were finally brought back to the boat and our parasailing adventure came to an end. Fortunately the jet ski ride back to the beach went a lot more smoothly and we were greeted by our shoes and my perfectly dry, perfectly working phone. #neveragain
This is how our evenings were spent -- massive amounts of room service and Netflix.
Friday evening.
This was definitely one of the most fun, relaxing, and memorable trips I have ever been on and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to do this with my husband. But as much fun as the trip was, it sure felt good to get home to this little cutie (who spent the week with his awesome grandparents and Uncle Joe -- thank you guys again for everything you did!!!):
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