I’ve finally just emerged from my endless stacks of books and grad-school assignments, eyes bloodshot, feeling weary (but not defeated!). I feel kind of like this:
You know how at the end of a semester, people like to say things like, “Wow, the semester really flew by!” and “I can’t believe we’re down to the last week!” Well…that wasn’t me. It felt like a looooong semester, and I almost feel like a different person now that I’m at the end of it. Let’s compare:
Beginning of Semester:
- I had just moved to Knoxville
- I was living with my parents
- Summer was coming to a close
- I was thinking maybe I’d try to do five courses at once
- I had a baby who liked to be held constantly, and who wasn’t a big fan of laying on his tummy (in fact, he would usually just face-plant into the floor and cry after a few minutes)
- Most of my time was taken up with nursing. Jake needed to nurse once every two or three hours, which made it difficult to stay out of the house for very long.
End of Semester:
- I have been in Knoxville for four months now–how did that happen?
- I have moved into my very own first-time home
- We are in winter, and Christmas is less than ten days away!
- I got wise and realized that I could only handle three courses with the baby, so I postponed two
- I have a baby who is MOBILE, you guys. He squirms when I hold him, like he’s just itching to get on the floor and move. He’s not doing “proper” crawling, but he is doing this zombie-crawl thing–pulling with his arms and kind of dragging his legs across the floor like dead weight. It freaks out The Fonz.
- I am done with nursing! (I won’t go into yucky details here, because this is NOT a mommy blog, I know. But just trust me when I say I am so happy to be relieved of my duties of being a human drinking fountain. Every mom feels differently about nursing, but it was definitely not my favorite thing.) Baby Jake has three teeth, with a fourth one ready to break through any day now (one of the many reasons that I’m finished nursing–this baby likes to bite!). He eats all kinds of pureed food from the jar, along with formula and a couple of daily servings of breastmilk from the freezer. And I only have to feed him every four hours or so–woohoo! 🙂
It feels like night and day, going from the beginning of the semester to the end. And I’m so glad that I only have two more classes to go (though I was originally hoping to be done with grad school by the end of 2014–but that’s okay). All of the sudden I have emerged from the other side in the midst of the holiday season, and I am just now realizing that I haven’t yet sent out my holiday cards or wrapped all the gifts (or let’s be honest, bought all of the gifts). But before I work myself into a frenzy, I want to pause and look back on ten of my most favorite moments from the last few months:
1. Watching Baby Jake grow and change. I know everyone says, “They grow up so fast,” but it’s TRUE! Only a few months have gone by, and it’s like I have a completely different baby. Look at those chompers!
2. Getting to know some new friends around Knoxville. We’ve made quite a few new friends at our church, and I’ve gotten together with the Moms of Maryville a few times. Here’s a picture of Jake and I with the Moms of Maryville last week. We were caroling at a local nursing home, and then the kids handed out Christmas cards (that they had decorated with stickers) to the residents. All of the elderly folks were just tickled to see my tiny little Santa Claus. 🙂
3. Having our very first guest to stay the night in our new house–my father-in-law. It’s always fun to visit with him, but it’s so sweet now to see him in the role of “Grandpa.” Jake just fell in love with him!
4. Getting to explore our new city–and outlying cities, of course. We are a short drive away from the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area, and if you’ve never been there, it’s pretty much “Knox-Vegas.” There are a million touristy things to do, with tons of souvenir shops, restaurants, and attractions! When Justin’s dad came to visit, we went to the wax museum. I’d never been to a wax museum before, and this one was just so-so, but it was fun to take pictures with all of the figures!
5. Staying a the Wilderness Resort: For Thanksgiving, my parents booked a hotel suite in the Wyndham at Wilderness of the Smokies, which has a giant, indoor water park! It’s kind of unusual to go swimming during Black Friday weekend, but my nephews were sure entertained (and so was I)! My mom is not a fan of the big slides, so she stayed with the baby while I went and had some fun. I did several things at the Wildnerness Resort that were terrifying (like completing an indoor ropes course!), but it was definitely an adventure.
6. Visiting Gatlinburg: Justin and I took an afternoon trip to Gatlinburg (about an hour away), and though I had been to Pigeon Forge several times, I’ve never been to Gatlinburg. I was expecting the giant-highway “Knox-Vegas” feel to extend here as well, but Gatlinburg was so small and quaint! It definitely has just as many tourists, but I really love the layout. We found one little shopping village that was so cute and lopsided–it looked like Diagon Alley out of Harry Potter! Justin was a bit of a grump about the paid parking, the dense crowds, and the traffic, but I definitely want to go back again!
7. Seeing Jake visit with Santa for the first time! We couldn’t get him to smile, so he just has his sad little muppet face in this photo, but it’s still cute! (And it was so cute that Santa had a deep southern drawl.) If you’re receiving a Christmas card from us, there are a couple of other shots from this day on the card, but I won’t share them online so that you’ll be surprised. 🙂
8. Decorating our brand new house: Justin is kind of a “Scrooge” when it comes to the commercialized side of Christmas (the shopping, the decorating, the obligatory parties with cookies and ugly sweaters, etc.), so it was REALLY sacrificially sweet for him to get up on the roof and string up Christmas lights. It was super windy and cold that day, too! I took care of the inside. Both Jake and The Fonz are drawn to the pretty glowing lights on the Christmas tree–I’ve had to shoo them both away from it on multiple occasions. 🙂
9. Seeing my nephews interact with Jake. There is such a special bond between cousins! Zach (my older nephew–9 years old) is not as interested in the baby as Drew (my younger nephew–6 years old). We’ve seen my sister and nephews three times since Jake was born, and I’ll catch Drew watching Jake when no one else is really paying attention. Then he’ll come and tug on my sister’s sleeve and say, “Look! Come look at the baby! Look how cute he is!”
10. Jake started saying “Mama!” I realize that it’s just babbling, and he’s parroting back what I’ve said to him over and over again. Even though he hasn’t yet made the connection that I’m “Mama,” it’s still exciting! Recently one morning, I woke up to hearing Jake on the monitor–not crying or anything–just laying in his crib saying, “Mama….mamamama…MA-MA!” We’re starting to work on getting him to say “Dada” now. 🙂 Here’s a video of Jake babbling his new word (please ignore my baby-voice, haha).
We’re looking forward to adding some more favorite moments this Christmas season, especially since we have dear friends (a couple from Florida, and a couple from across the globe in Indonesia!) coming to stay with us for the holidays. I am super excited!