Monday, December 29, 2008

Jack 11 month update

Actually, he is much closer to 1 year old now, but I thought I would update you anyway, especially since he hit a big milestone today.

First, here are the 11-month pictures.



You can see that I tried to get the blue bear in, but Jack is much too busy these days to be bothered with posing for pictures. This was the best that I could get. Hopefully the 1-year photos will turn out a little better.

Okay, so what is Jack so busy with these days? Lots! He loves climbing up and down the stairs. He would do this all day if we let him. He also loves to walk around with his push toys. He stands/balances for a second or two without holding onto anything. He's eating all kinds of fun stuff like graham crackers, pasta, eggs, fruit and even had tilapia for dinner the other night. He babbles like crazy when we get the nuk out of his mouth. The most recent sound he has learned is the "th" which kind of sounds like a hissing "s" when he does it. He now plays with Breyer, and Breyer plays back. They chase each other around the house and Jack will giggle non-stop. He loves to lean over backwards, practically upside down, when we hold him. He just learned how to put a toy inside a compartment that closes the other day. He also takes the toy out of the compartment. He loves music. With all of the new music toys he received for Christmas, he dances and plays forever. He bites. He bites me all of the time. He starts in for a hug, which is really cute, and then opens his mouth and chomps down unless I realize it and pull away fast enough. (I'm working on teaching him the right things to bite on instead of people).

So, here is the big news, the big milestone today. Jack took 2 steps on his own! That's right, he toddled! We were playing in the basement when Steve got home from work tonight. He's been walking a lot while holding our hands or his push toy, so we thought we'd give real walking a try. Steve sat across from me, and I held Jack's hands while he stood. Then I let go and Jack took 2 steps to Steve's arms! It was so awesome! Of course, I know this is only going to bring trouble. Mister Busy Fingers will now be able to get places much faster.

So that is our cool news/update from the Jack front. Keep reading for more details on the First Birthday. Right now, I'm struggling with how to celebrate. Just immediate family (Jack's grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) comes up to 22 people. If we add on extended family, we're up around 50. Not sure I can fit that many people in our house at once.

We wish you a Merry Christmas...

This will be the all-Christmas post. I know I've been a little absent from the blogging scene lately, but I've been relaxing and enjoying my time with my boys and my family. There's been lots going on, so I'll try to convey these happenings in this post.

We started our Christmas celebration Dec. 21 at the Watts house. This was the first time Jack got to open presents and he had a good go of it. He would tear the paper off and then stuff it in his mouth if we didn't take it from him fast enough. Truth be told, he and Nick were much more enthralled with Grandma Sue's Tupperware and coffee packets than any of the cool gifts aunts and uncles bought them. (That did change once we got home though. Jack loves his musical toys!).

The adult children did Christmas a little different this year. Instead of buying presents for everyone, we got online at Elfster and did a secret santa type thing. I really enjoyed this. One, because it was fun to focus on just one person and try to get them something they really wanted. Two, because it cut down on the materialism of Christmas. Three, it was much more fun watching Jack and Nick open presents than opening them myself. This was my big realization this Christmas; I really didn't care about any gifts I wanted or was going to receive, I just wanted to see Jack have fun. Now, on that note, I did get very nice gifts. Connie was my Elfster and she gave me the Giada DeLaurentis cookbook (which I have made four recipes already, and all four have been awesome!).

Okay, on to the pictures. Here are the shots from Watts Family Christmas '08.






Our second Christmas celebration was back at home on Christmas Eve with Papa, Grandma Anne, and Auntie Bubbles. We had chicken florentine for dinner and cherry pie for dessert. And then we opened presents. Papa and Grandma Anne were very generous to Jack. They gave him lots of clothes and some really neat toys including a music board.
We also had a visit from Nanna and Papa Pete and they were on there way to Huntley to visit Pete's family. They brought Jack a cool, singing Tigger. It was a nice quiet Christmas Eve.

The Living Room 500



Christmas morning was pretty fun. Jack woke up at 6:30 a.m., which is a little later than normal. We woke up Auntie Bubbles and dragged Dad out of bed. The first present he found from Santa was his puzzle. And he immediately set to playing with it. After that, we started opening presents and stockings. Once the sun came up, we had breakfast and a nap. In the evening, we went to Auntie K and Uncle Al's house for the Unger Family Christmas. That, too, was pretty fun. Jack got to play with Nick again, and all of the Unger Family. We stayed out too late, but it was worth it!









This one is my favorite Christmas Pic




We still have one more Christmas celebration to go: we are going to celebrate with Nana, Papa Pete, Aunt Shayna, Uncle Dick and Shane this weekend. Then, next up is the 1-year-old Birthday Party!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Shopping

Is it wrong to take the baby shopping for his own Christmas gifts? I'm operating under the assumption that my 11-month-old doesn't remember things for more than 48 hours (unless the action is repeated or the item reappears). So, today, Jack and I found the coolest toy store. It's called Learning Express Toys. Jack was able to play while I was able to shop. And they had some pretty cool stuff.

After that, we hit Toys R Us. I wasn't sure if Learning Express would have the best prices, so I wanted to compare. It turns out the specialty store had the same toys for cheaper. Add that to the fact that the people were nicer there, you can see why I will be shopping at Learning Express much more often now.

To top off our afternoon, we went to Carter's to find some jammies. This boy grows out of jammies way too quickly. We found a nice pair to wear for Santa, so I think he's set for Christmas.

Now, you might be asking yourself, today was Friday, how was Karen shopping? SNOW DAY! With the snow and ice last night and this morning, D214 canceled school (they actually announced it yesterday!). So I took full advantage of the extra day of break. I will start grading on Monday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm a master!

Well, kind of. I have officially finished my master of science in journalism. The official graduation ceremony is Friday at 1 p.m., but I will not be attending. It's the last day before winter break and I didn't really know anyone else who would be walking or even be at the graduation.

So I'm pretty happy! Not only does this mean no more grad classes in the forseeable future, but it also means a pay raise! Woo Hoo!

In other news, we spent last weekend partying it up. Friday night was PTech's Christmas party at Hotel Baker. It was way fun. I even got to talk Great Gatsby and Journalism. Saturday night was my friend Gena's wedding at the University of Chicago campus. The bride and everything associated with her were beautiful. We also got to hang out with a lot of my WHS friends who we haven't seen in a while. I really do miss the DeLugas and Sue and Marty. And it is always fun hanging out with the Gruens! Who knew Greg could do such a mean sprinkler? We capped off our weekend at the first birthday party for Isabel, Steve's friend Michelle's daughter. Michelle and Scott know how to throw a first birthday party. Jack loved it. He ate cheese pizza and chocolate cake. It was awesome.

So that's about it for now. I have some grading to get done before break so I can enjoy the two weeks off. Hopefully I'll be able to get some Christmas shopping done in here sometime too!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Long overdue update

I know it's been a while, but life has been very busy. I'm finishing my master's degree program (I am officially done Dec. 19); Steve is finishing his fall class; Midterm grades were due this morning; Jack is eating real food; Jack is walking with his push toy; Thanksgiving was a blast; I took students to St. Louis for a journalism convention; and I am sure a few more things happened or are going on that I can't think of right this second.

Since it's officially the holiday season, I will start with news of our 2008 Christmas Tree. For the second year in a row (now called the Annual Christmas tree Outing with the Nustras) we went to Richardson's Farm with Susie, Peter, Nicky, Cathy, Connie, Kim, Pepere, Nancy, Nick, Paul, Brent and Dawna. Steve found our tree right away; in fact, I think he spotted it before we got off the tractor. Jack seemed to approve with lots of smiles, so Steve cut it down. The good news this year, it was quick and Steve did not freeze to death. After that five minutes, we spent the next half an hour helping everyone else pick out their trees. The weather was great, which made the entire day nice. We girls even walked back to the main farm instead of riding the tractor. Part of this was so that we didn't get knocked off the tractor by all of the trees. Self-preservation is fairly strong with an infant.




Check out the reflection in Steve's sunglasses!

The other big news around here is that Jack is starting to eat real food. Last night we had our first Barrett family dinner, all four of us. Steve made spaghetti and meatballs. Jack had some plain noodles along with a Biter Biscuit and some baby food veges. Breyer got Jack's leftovers. It was lovely. He successfully eats graham crackers and other such cookie items. Tonight we tried some adult vegetables: sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots. He liked chewing on them, but he didn't swallow much.



The end result

Really, there is no place in the house that he can't get to on his own. I caught him tonight trying to go downstairs to the basement without me. He got down the first stair without me realizing. Ahh! He can go up and down the stairs safely on his own (even though is scares his grandmas). I can't believe Jack is just about 11 months. We are starting to think about his first birthday and how we will celebrate. Where did the time go? Here are some more cute pictures of the guy getting around.



I know this is becoming the longest post ever, but if you are still with me, I will make it worth your while.

Before the snow hit, Steve was busy clearing the leaves from the yard. Not to let a fun sensory activity pass us by, we took Jack out to play in the leaf pile.



My favorite


In case you are wondering, yes we have taken Jack out to play in the snow. We went out this past Saturday and lasted all of about 2 minutes (It took us a good 15-30 to get bundled up to go out). As Jack and I sat in the snow, he tumbled forward and face-planted. Turns out babies don't like faces in the snow. Before he fell, he was enjoying the snow falling around him, so I think there is still hope that he will like the fluffy stuff.

For his 10-month photo, I didn't get the bear. However, I am still happy with the result:


Here's another action shot.


Okay, so here is where I make it worth your while. One of my grad classes this fall was an advanced photography independent study. I did a documentary project on downtown Dundee, IL. I have published my first photography book. If you are interested, you can check it out (and order it!) at this link: Dundee by Karen Barrett. If that doesn't work, just go to and search for Dundee.

Okay, I think that's it. Hopefully I will be able to get back to posting more regularly after I finish one last paper for grad school. Until then, enjoy this holiday season!