Thursday, December 29, 2011

San Antonio, In Brief

Since my midwife would not allow me to fly home for Christmas (sob), we decided to take a family trip to San Antonio instead. Jon had to work Christmas Eve Eve, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services, so we left on Monday, the day after Christmas. And guys, it was a great trip, God blessed us. We seemed to randomly miss really long lines and busy spurts pretty much everywhere we went! Brennan slept great in the hotel (always a concern with him), I felt pretty good, and we got to do what we really wanted to do. Our hotel was right by the Riverwalk so we were close to most everything. Here's a brief synopsis. It's hard to choose which pictures to post when there are so many!

Our first day there, we ate Tex Mex at Pappasito's thanks to a gift card, and then took a FREE boat taxi on the riverwalk. The riverwalk was beeeautiful at night all lit up with Christmas lights!

It was pretty chilly for Texas!

Tuesday we ate a free breakfast at the hotel due to a groupon voucher. The hotel we stayed at was gorgeous St. Anthony Riverwalk Hotel (thank you, Groupon). Then we headed out to the Alamo.

Part of the hotel lobby

Typical tourist photo in front of The Alamo.

I took the audio tour while Jon graciously walked through with Brennan. I love history (I was a history minor in college), and really enjoyed learning all about the Alamo and it's past. It passed from Spanish owned, onto Mexico, onto Texas and for awhile was a merchants warehouse. The room that really got to me was the room women and children stayed in during Santa Anna's assault on the Alamo. General Santa Anna let them all go after the defeat to warn the rest of Texas of his army's strength. Instead, it caused Texans resolve to go up and eventually was a turning point in the war. If your a history nerd-o like me, you can read up on the Alamo here. As we were leaving the Alamo, we saw the huuuge line of people waiting to get in that we just happened to miss.

After the Alamo, we ate lunch on the Riverwalk and then headed back to the hotel for B's nap. It worked out well because Jon was able to meet with one of his 3104Studios clients who is based in SA while Brennan napped in the hotel. Afterwards, we took a river boat tour (again, just missing a super long line) on the Riverwalk, ate dinner and shopped around. Brennan was kind of a disaster from about 6:00 on so we made a quick night of it.

Wednesday, Jon ran out and bought us bagels for breakfast, we checked out of the hotel, and headed to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. The gardens were beautiful, there was a kids butterfly exhibit, cactus garden, rose garden, log cabin, ampitheatre, japanese garden, sensory garden, waterfalls, etc. Jon set up our camera on a tree branch and we were finally able to get a family photo:

Playing around with the butterfly exhibit

As we were leaving the gardens, we saw a huge group of people entering and were thankful it was so quiet while we were there. We headed back to Houston after that (and stopped briefly for Brennan to pee on the side of road, in which he refused). I miss seeing our families at Christmas, mainly because we love them. :) I dont' care about holiday traditions, but I do care about seeing all of them! But I'm thankful we were able to do this together just the 3 of us before Baby #2 shows up and I'm so glad it was a good time. As they say down here, go hug the neck of your loved ones! Adios!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Bench.

A few months ago, Jon moved offices from the main building to the admin building. The Met re-did all of it's children's spaces and the move was part of all that. There was a desk that they were trashing, but it still had some good, solid wood pieces left. So Jon brought it home and made a bench out of it! I picked out a design I liked from Ana White's website. I wanted to be able to put bins of shoes underneath it. Ana White's website is amazing if you're looking to build your own furniture. There are tons of free designs and tips to choose from.

Anywho, here's the finished product, didn't he do an awesome job??

Now, onto planning my next house project. . . . (insert evil laugh).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pregnancy Faves

I thought it'd be fun to share a few new maternity items I found this time around that I LOVE.

*First up, Motherlove Belly Salve. This stuff is awesome. I'm not one to spend a lot of money on products like this, but this one is welllll worth it. It keeps your blossoming belly moist, smells wonderful, is all natural, and really helps keep stretch marks away. I owe my friend, Crystal, for introducing it to me.

*I bought a few Motherhood Maternity nursing bras when pregnant with Brennan and I hated them. But I didn't want to go out and buy more, so I stuck with them the whole time I was nursing Brennan. This time around, I knew to stay away from MM (I'm not a fan of their clothes or the way they fit), and decided to hit up one of my favorite stores (Nurtured Family) for nursing bras. I ended up buying a Bravado bra and love it so far.

*Ok, and lastly, LUSH products. We have a big soaker tub in our bathroom and I've really enjoyed taking hot baths (yes hot, shhh, don't tell anyone) with LUSH products. I like the bath bars, not the bombs, so I can chip off pieces of it at a time and have it last a lot longer. If you don't want to pay shipping, most Macy department stores carry them! When I'm pregnant, I have a rib that pops out of place, so baths are wonderful. :)

If you have any pregnancy favorites, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hello, People!

Hi Guys!
After a guilt trip from my very sweet and loving sister (Hi Meg), and some subtle hints from my sister in law (Hi Erin!) and a little nudge from my Aunt Sue on her Christmas card (Hi Aunt Sue!), I am finally sitting down and blogging again. Tell me how proud of me you are!!

Brennan is pretty sick with a case of explosive diarrhea (Merry Christmas to me) and has fallen asleep on the couch for the first time in his 2.5 years. Kennady is crawling around the office exploring so we'll see if we can bust out a post while they are both preoccupied. Crossing my fingers.

I'll backtrack to our visit to Michigan in November. B and I flew up early and got to spend some time with the Ackermans before Jon flew in on Wednesday night. I also spent an evening in GR for the annual AUE with my college girls.

(Michele, Me, Wendy, Sarah, Marissa, Suz and April in Nashville via Skype. I love technology)

My heart wishes I could have spent more time with them, but it's not the phase of life we're in right now and that's okay.

It worked out super awesome that my brother's girlfriend, Sarah, planned a birthday dinner/get together the same night I was in GR for the AUE. So I got to surprise Andy at his birthday dinner at 25 Kitchen and Bar.

(Sarah, Catherine, Me, Andy, Dave, John)

Please hold. Sleeping toddler is now up and wants to be held. . .

End of pause. Continuing on. . .
We had such a great time in Michigan! We helped both parents put up their Christmas trees. ..

And played a lot of Can Jam with the O'Neill's. . .

This is my Grandpa McMahon, who flew in from Buffalo, NY to be with us for Thanksgiving, and my Grandma/Grandpa O'Neill. I am so thankful for all three of them.

My parents bought Grandpa McMahon an iPad 2 for Christmas so he could skype with all of us. It was slightly hilarious to see my Dad and Jon teaching my Grandpa how to use it. I wish I had some photos of that!

We went to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo with the Ackerman's. It was way cool! I recommend it to all you Michiganders with young kiddos. This is Brennan riding in the hot air balloons...

Even Preggers McGee drove an airplane. . .

We also walked downtown St. Joe to see the Christmas lights, which were unfortunately all up, but not on. It was fun to see the storefronts and getting Biggby's coffee afterwards. I truly miss Biggby's. Starbucks is the only chain coffee place in Houston and I'm not a huge Starbucks fan.

I love Brennan's little monster hat (Thank you, Mom A!). There's been a lot of exciting happenings in our family lately. . . my brother John and his wife, Kym, just welcomed a baby boy named Easton last week! And Mark and Erin Zubert had a baby girl two days ago!! We are SO so excited to meet baby Easton and Macy, I cannot wait to hold them!! Hopefully it works out that we're able to see them both SOON!

Gotta jet, adios!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You guys. I have the cuuutest video of Brennan saying all the words he mispronounces, but I've tried four times and it just won't upload!! He tries so hard to say what his friend, Trenton, was for Halloween (Obe-Wan Kenobi, yes, I did have to look up how to spell that), or my personal favorite, when he says, "cutie patootie". Ah well, just imagine how cute it was, mmkay?

I think I remember telling you all that I was in a Bible study this summer with some staff wives from The Met? Did I? Anyways, we all try and get together about once a month over brunch. I hosted it this Tuesday and we decided to throw in a little surprise party for Thuy who turned 40 today. I hope I look as good as she does at 40!!

SOME of the food.

You know how we ladies don't ever have a birthday past 21. :)

Tomorrow is MOPS. Saturday is the MOPS Missions project (I'll hopefully blog about it later), Sunday, Brennan and I fly to Michigan!! We fly via Minneapolis and Chicago, with a little drive to Bridgman, so yes, I fully plan on using the baby belly fully to my advantage. :) It shall be a long day, but well worth it. I'm excited to see family, and friends, and to take a little break from working. Whoop! However, the weather is amazing here right now, I will miss that!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rustic Lodge

Hola guys.

It's Thursday and I feel like I can breathe for the first time this week. I've already worked 21 hours this week among other things and I am tired! But I have the rest of the day free and am starting to feel relaxed! I'm going do to some prenatal pilates, listen to the last week's message online from The Met which I've missed and drink some tea. Hoo-rah.

So onto the boys' room. We decided to put the boys in the same room. Baby #2 (we think we've settled on a name, but not quite ready to share it yet) will be in our room for the first few months, but after that, we're planning on putting him in with Brennan. I kind of wanted to put them in separate rooms and not have to deal with them waking each other up. But Jon really likes the idea of them learning how to share from the very beginning. And we like the idea of having the camaraderie that comes with sharing a room. So I took Brennan's nursery decor and put it up in the playroom and decided to do a rustic lodge theme for their room together. I took most of my inspiration from Katie Bower's blog, see her nursery here. I love her style and I loooved her son's nursery. We wanted to do an entire wall made out of pallets like they did, but after considering time, money, work, stress, we decided to do a sign instead. Check it out:

Jon got an air compressor for his birthday and he's been having so much fun using it. The sign was his first project! He's currently working on a bench that I hope to post on here soon.

Whaddya think??

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We got some eggplant with our CSA last week. I've never bought eggplant before. Ever. But I've heard that eggplant parmesan is really good, so I hopped onto one of my favorite food blogs and looked up a recipe. It was a little time consuming, but I decided not to make my own sauce and use canned.

It was sooo good!

I've been trying to cook in batches, rather than one dish at a time. So the same time I was making the eggplant parmesan (while the eggplant was dehydrating a bit), I also made this recipe of Eggplant Gratin with Creme Fraiche. I personally like the texture of the first dish better, but the second dish tasted just as good or better. I did make the homemade red sauce for this recipe and it was easy AND good.

I also made two types of Okra while the eggplant dishes were baking, fried okra and baked okra. It was my first okra experience. And it was delicious (as Brennan would say!). I've always heard okra can be slimey, but it helped that I dredged it in flour before cooking it.

Eggplant is in season down here, I'm not sure about up north. But if you run across some, try it, it's YUM.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

In Which I'm Getting a Little Granola

We're becoming a little granola. And we're okay with that. Two new granola-ish things were doing??

1. Cloth diapering our next baby.

2. Joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

We're also a little granola in other small ways, like we don't really take antibiotics (even with Brennan's ear infections) unless absolutely necessary. We like to let our bodies heal themselves. Even if it takes a little bit more time. And I am going to give natural childbirth a try. I say try because I want to give myself an out in case I fail. :) For realz. I'm kind of low on the whole pain tolerance thing so you can imagine my concern. TMI- I was super constipated early on in this pregnancy and woke up with horrendous stomach cramps (due to lacatives I took the night before that and was sweating and crying and telling Jon that there was no way I could do natural childbirth if I couldn't handle constipation. We shall see people, we shall see.

So, back to being granola. I took a cloth diapering class yesterday at the world's best baby store, Nurtured Family. I was a bit overwhelmed by the choices and options that you have when cloth diapering. . . all in ones, pocket, prefolds, fitted, contours, wool covers, waterproof covers, etc. The class was awesome and talked us through the different types of diapers, pros and cons, benefits of cloth diapering, how to wash and dry, etc. We decided to go with FuzziBunz all in one diapers.

We are mainly doing cloth because it's cheaper than disposables. It's all about the money, honey. But there are some pretty cool benefits to cloth: they are practically as easy as disposables, no fold laundry, less odor, baby stays dry, wayyyy better for the environment, less diaper rashes on baby, etc. I'm actually pretty excited about this new little adventure for us!

The CSA we joined is called Home Sweet Farm located north of us in Brenham, TX.

A CSA is a farm in which you are basically "buying" a share. You pay to join, and then get a share of the crop every week. Home Sweet Farm has drop off's all over the city of Houston, ours is about 5 minutes away. Every Tuesday we get fresh, local, organic, in season food. I love the idea of supporting LOCAL farmers, eating LOCAL foods, eating foods that are in season, and not shipped 500 miles across country and eating so fresh. So far, we've gotten mainly peppers, greens (arugala, bak choy), eggplant and okra. I gotta be honest, everything's been great but the bak choy, so if you have any amazing bak choy recipes, kindly let us know. :) We tried grilling it and we must've done something wrong because it was bitter and terrible (what'd we do wrong, Katie??). I'm thinking about trying it sauteed in a chicken stir fry, we shall see.

So here's my plug. . . buy local, support local farmers and stores. I highly recommend Nurtured Family and Home Sweet Farm to anyone in the Houston area!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Old Town Spring, Halloween

Last Saturday, we visited Old Town Spring for a little family outing. I wasn't feeling so hot (turns out I had the 24 hour stomach flu), but it was still fun. It's a little town that was built in the early 1900's as a booming railroad town. There are a lot of antique shops, museums, restaurants, etc. Our personal favorite stops are the toy store and the wine tasting shop. :)

We ate lunch at this little red caboose restaurant and Brennan thought it was awesome.

There was also live music so he danced around while we attempted to eat.

He ran around a lot. He's two and a half. That's what two and a half year old boys do.

"Whatcha talking about? Me??"

Monday was Halloween. I don't go crazy with Halloween decor because frankly, I think it's mostly hideous and I don't like what it represents. But I do enjoy candy and kids and hanging out with friends, so we still celebrate. We met up with other staff families for a BBQ and trick or treating and it was so much fun! Brennan would knock on doors and say, "squeak squeak, trick or treat!" because he was a mouse.

Jon's mom made this costume for him as a child. He, his sister, Erin, her son, Westin and Brennan have all worn it. I love that!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Don't touch us with a 10 foot pole.

The Ackerman household is down for the count.

I got the 24 hour stomach bug on Saturday. Jon has got a wicked throat/cough cold that Brennan caught.
Then last night, while we were at our birthing class and sweet friends of ours were watching Brennan, we got the text that every parent hates to get. The "your child just threw up" text. Ugh.
And besides that, the wife that was watching Brennan for us is pregnant. I'll feel just terrible if she catches the stomach bug from us!

So I guess, it's one of those weeks where God is telling, no forcing, us to rest. Which is against my nature, but we need to stay home and not infect the rest of the world. Now, to pray that Jon doesn't give in to the super 24 hour stomach bug.

And I had just a sweet post outlined in my head about Halloween and our cute mouse and all that. But for now, I'll just leave you with this beauty: (O'Neill clan, circa 1992?)

Friday, October 28, 2011


It's 57 degrees right now. It feels AWESOME. We're currently have our first fire in the fireplace.

I love fall.


I'm trying so hard to keep up with this blog, but it just takes backseat to more pressing things sometimes!! Here's a few updates from us this week:

We took a family day last Saturday (Saturday before? I can't remember. . .) and planned on taking Brennan to the Houston Zoo. The whole time Jon was gone, I told him we'd go to the zoo when he got back (he's into the zoo ever since watching the movie, Madagascar). But once we got there, he saw a train that the neighboring park has and got really excited about it. We let Brennan decide if he'd rather ride the train and play at the park or go to the zoo. He wanted the train.

So we took a train ride and hung out at Hermann Park instead of the zoo. We didn't mind, Hermann Park is one of our favorite parks in Houston.

Jon was still jet-lagging a bit from the trip, but it was still a great family day. Jon did AWESOME dealing with the time difference and jet lag and really was amazing.

Other updates? I had a court case this week for my CASA children and it went so so so great. I was nervous and sweating and furiously taking notes, but overall it went the way we wanted. I wish I could share all the details because it pumps me up, but I can't due to confidentiality. Afterwards, I treated my high heeled pregnant feet to a pedicure. :)

Between CASA work and having a garage sale and MOPS and Bible Study and watching Kennady and taking our Bradley classes and attending OB appts and cleaning and cooking and so forth, it's been busy around here!

Oh, and look what Jon brought home for me today:

A little burst of fall colors since Houston doesn't really get a fall.

Need to make some lunch for a few hungry kiddos around here. Adios!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Someone got a sandbox a few weeks ago. . .

Friends of ours saw it on the side of the road (heck, yes) and picked it up for us. They are amazing people, I tell you. Jon picked up some sand at Lowe's when he got home from his trip abroad and Brennan has been loving it ever since.

However, we did learn, after his first time playing it in. . . the value of shaking out his pants before he comes inside the house. Sand on tile flooring is no fun.

Thank you Hughes!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Brennan and I met up with our MOPS table on Friday to go to a pumpkin patch. We've gone to this one every year we've lived here (and looove it!) so I have a photo of Brennan every year on this rocker:

There are a lot of cute spots for photo ops:

And Sesame Street characters:

And Wizard of Oz characters:

Brennan was asking me, "whats his name?". He asks that about everything and everybody.

Today is the first day Houston has really felt like fall and everyone is celebrating! So many facebook statuses and tweets are about fall and how wonderful it feels. Our highs this week are in the 70's, rather than the 90's. This is big news people. Woohoo!! Happy Fall, Y'all!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Stye in My Eye Part II

You guys. I have a court report to write for CASA, a Care Calendar to create for MOPS and about 20 more minutes before Brennan wakes up from his nap. But I just had to post my stye update for those familia members across the world (aka: Jon is Uganda, Meg in DC, Erin in Minnesota and Mama in MI).

As I said in my last post, the stye came back. Again. After speaking with a friend's mother who is an OB nurse, she said to call my OB office and have them send over paperwork explaining to Dr. Fish eye that it's perfectly acceptable to locally numb a pregnant mama.
I did this on Monday and had an appt on Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Fish eye still did not want to numb me, but I convinced him to do so. Let me tell you, night and day difference. He was able to really work on my eye this time and I think he finally got it all taken care of. I'm a little bruised under my eye where the clamps went, but who cares. I was really really nervous for the appointment, so thank you to everyone who called and texted, truly!

Also, I finally started working on our Ackerman family 2011 scrapbook (I stopped working on it when I got preggo in May). Here's a few pages I've been working on this past week:


Saturday, October 8, 2011

1st World Problems

I was going to complain today.
About how I dropped a ceramic bowl of oatmeal on our tile floor and it spilled everywhere and shattered the bowl. About how Brennan cried all morning for his "Daddy". About how he still won't poop in the potty. About how he pooped today in his playroom and then proceeded to wipe it on the wall. About how I don't feel good today. About how I don't want to single parent for another week. About how my stye seems to be getting worse again.

But then I read from one of my favorite blogs (here) and got a little perspective on my "problems". I love a good dose of perspective.

Trying to meditate on Psalm 16,


Psalm 16:
Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Doodler

Whenever Jon is away for an extended period of time (conferences, trips, side business, etc.) I splurge and buy Brennan a toy. We don't normally buy him toys, like, ever. But about two trips ago, I decided it was necessary. :) Mainly for me. And since yesterday was one of the longest parenting days I've had with him in a long time, we took the plunge.

So I took him to Target and let him peruse the aisles but then the "I want that, and that, and that" started and I was done with it. So I made the decision and bought him a doodler.

And although it's not his very favorite thing to do (i.e. watch PB), I think he's a fan. And mama's a fan if it allows me 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher or pee. And since we're working on recognizing our shapes, I can draw all sorts of different shapes and he can practice telling me what they are.

(and yes, he's wearing underwear)