happy first birthday


it feels like just yesterday dada thought the hospital wasn’t going to let us bring you home because we couldn’t figure out how to loosen the straps of your car seat. One or two mangled arms out of socket later though, we drove away as a family of three, never to look back at what was.

if i had to count how many times i said i love you and kissed your cheeks a day, it would be more than all of the many hairs on your head. every day i love you more. every day i wonder if it’s possible to love you more the next day. every tomorrow i do.

it’s only fitting that the first words you understood were “kiss” and “go”. you give the absolute sweetest kisses in the world, and there’s nothing you love more than being outside. you’re curious and observant, always on an exploration. your favorite place is the grocery store, and you are the happiest in music class or in your wagon. your smile would light up the darkest cave.

it’s the smallest things you do that are my favorite, that i will never take for granted. like your grunts of excitement when you hear the gear shift move to park because you know you are about to be at a new place. or how you would trade a winning lottery ticket for a pack of tic-tacs to shake. or how you use my legs as a drum. or, how if you hear the back door open, you would beat Usain Bolt to it. or how you get on your knees and whimper for me to brush your hair when i’m brushing mine. or how you can’t shake or bang toys without your mouth wide open. or how you laugh when I dance in front of you in your high chair.

if i could pull you in your wagon to the ends of the earth every day of my life I would. if i could slow down time and make you little forever i would. but i know you are destined for greatness. i know you will only get sweeter and smarter with age. i know you will change me for the better every day that I spend with you. and no matter how old you get, you will always be my sweet baby boy.

happy birthday.




9 month update

Jackson is now nine months old, which makes him the same age as the amount of months he spent in utero hearing “Is this cheese pasteurized?”. For some reason, it brings me back to the morning that I–or should I say we–found out that I was pregnant. Like all good pregnancy test stories, it involved a group of girls running down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill in their outfits from the night before and buying a pregnancy test and eight Gatorades at Walgreens, followed by said group of girls breaking down the door to Michael’s hotel room to wake him up and tell that indeed he was going to be a father. Best. Morning. Ever.

And, although we knew our lives were about to change forever for the better, we had no clue as to how much joy, hope, love, happiness, and boxes of diapers that little pink line would bring us.

It turns out that, combined with toys and outside time, we bring him joy as well. His nine month (at home) favorites include:

Mail Time: All magazines might as well be addressed to Jackson Hutson. I’ve become a master magazine rater based on thickness of paper. People Magazine ranks last due to the incredibly thin paper which rips and dissolves in his mouth within seconds. Thick magazines like this Crate and Barrel have about a 4-minute dissolvable rate per page.

Wagon Rides: Always looking as pompous as George Washington crossing the Delaware. The importance of the squirrel-finding mission is not lost on him.


Swing: While the kid has zero chill inside, he can straight up chill in a swing.

Activity Table:Before he could pull up or stand up on his own, we took the legs off and he played with it constantly. While the height is adaptable, I can assure you the two sing-songs it plays are not so much.


Notable mentions: dirty keys, shoes, cardboard, the recycling bin, jars in the refrigerator, plastic bags, dry diapers, bags of wipes, empty water bottles, cords, cords, and cords.

When all of these fail to appease him and I have taken him on enough wagon rides to cover the distance of the Oregon Trail, we leave the house. We try to do at least two outings a day, otherwise witching hour becomes witching hours and I become the witch of the hour.

Finally (did i say finally!), it is Daddy’s arrival at the end of the day that it is his favorite. Unlike a borderline rude text followed by a winking emoticon, Boogs true feelings aren’t left to interpretation. If he likes something, he will flail one of his arms with a grin. If he loves something, both of his arms will flail uncontrollably. Without a doubt, this is a two-arm flail every single night.


And those two smiles not only make it happy hour, but the happiest of hours.

Easy like Sunday morning (used to be…)

Ode to Sunday mornings of the past. Waking up at 10:35a.m. for 11 o’clock church used to seem like a feat, a feat that made me feel worthy enough to sit in the pews despite the smell of gin and sodas still on my breath. Now, rain or shine, one cocktail or ten cocktails, we are up before 6:45a.m…and my breath smells of coffee and cereal and oh.my.God i’ve been up for 4 hours rather than juniper.

Sunday mornings used to be easy. Getting home from the grocery store before the Panthers’ game started was, by all accounts, a raging success. Now that Jackson is here though, the simplicity that used to be Sunday is no longer. When that 16 lb. human alarm clock goes off, we better be ready to play with toys come hell or high water. As for our afternoon naps of the past, no matter how times we try to get him to snuggle with us–even after darkening the room to the point that he can’t see his toys–he just won’t. It’s a lost cause.

It’s not only Sundays that are harder. It’s showering. And cooking. And cleaning. And going to the bathroom in public bathrooms(I look like Michael Jackson dangling a child over the railing as I hold him out and squat, i assume this is normal?).

Luckily, I have a few things that make my days easier.

  1. Baby Breeza: A Keurig for baby bottles, a lifesaver for all. When Starvin’ Marvin wakes up, that bottle better be ready within negative 85 seconds. We used to mix the bottle, brew an empty cup of water from the coffee keurig, set the bottle in the hot water and let it warm up. Marvin immediately let us know this was unacceptable parenting. With the press of a button, what used to take 5 minutes now takes 19 seconds. The sheer happiness in his eyes when he hears the machine start lets me know that he forgives me for letting a side table fall on him last week.
  2. Baby Bjorn bib: The thought of even putting a dirty cloth bib in my washing machine makes me want to buy a new washing machine. The thought is about as repulsive as not having a “feet” end of the blanket. How people gamble and snuggle their faces on what may or may not have been the “feet end” last time is just, well, about as nasty as a dirty cloth bib. Enter the Baby Bjorn plastic bib. It not only catches food that falls (which is close to 46%), but it is plastic. After each meal, I rinse it out in the sink and use a clorox wipe on it. Cleaned and Cloroxed, done and done. IMG_7125
  3. Doorway Jumper: Without this contraption, there’s a good chance my hair would not have been washed since about April 6th when he outgrew the rock-and-play. I hang it from the doorframe next to the shower. I’m genuinely intrigued what other people do who don’t have this–not shower? Strap them to the toilet? I also use it in the kitchen to cook dinner, unload groceries, load the car, and count my freckles/do anything and everything as long as this monkey is happy being strapped into something.

Besides those three things (and a “feet end” end of the blanket), the only other thing that makes my days easier is the smile on his face when he wakes up. No matter how many times I want to cut off the monitor and swear I didn’t hear anything, the second I walk in and see that smile, it’s the best day of my life all over again. I may not be ready to play “find the instrument that this sound makes” on the learning cube at 6 a.m., but at least I know I can shower, have a clean bib, successfully make bottles, and spend the day with my best friend.

bye bye mullet

There hasn’t been a day since Jackson was born that he hasn’t been called a girl–despite wearing all blue and despite me telling people that he is a boy.  It goes like this every. single. time: Fellow Harris Teeter  grocery shopper: “She’s beautiful.” Me: “Oh, it’s actually a boy, but thanks” And then, as if I’m in denial about my own child’s gender, the response is always, “well, she’s just adorable.” I smile, knowing that my frustration is better spent on the incompetency of the deli meat counter.

The goal was to wait until he was a year old for his first hair cut. Despite him being called a girl. Despite the mullet. Despite the fact that his view of the world was limited to seeing his own bangs. Despite needing anti-frizz products after being outside for 30 seconds of our city’s raging humidity.

But on a sad, sad day this past Saturday, I caved. Ninety seconds was all it took. Bye bye mullet. Bye bye bangs. Bye bye baby Jackson.

I will admit that, unlike getting to the end of a bag of white cheddar popcorn, it’s not all bad. Now I can see his beautiful eyes and his too-cute smile, and there is remarkably less hair for smashed avocado to get stuck in. His hair will grow back, the number of times he is called a she will diminish (hopefully before he is potty-trained and using public bathrooms in this state), and it likely won’t be the last thing I cave on.




A baby on the move


All of a sudden, my eight-month-old newborn can crawl. And eat. And pull up. I clearly did a horrendous job of posting since he was born, so ill fill you in pretty fast: he ate, he spit up, and he slept. (And in between, he had his first smile, first babble, and first laugh. He rolled over, sat up, and stole our hearts forever. There were trips to the beach and the mountains and outings to grandparents’ houses. Simply put, the best 8 months of my life.) But the fact that i can now run multiple errands a day is FASCINATING. I truly thought it would never happen. But I also thought that it would never happen that I would miss those cyclical days of nothings. Some days I just force his head on my chest as if he is going to magically fall asleep like he used to rather than push off like Buzz Light Year for the remote control or cell phone nearby.

Now that he crawls, I feel like I have a best friend–and a dog. The best and only type of dog I will ever have. My favorite thing to do is to leave the room and hear him start crying. I immediately say his name repeatedly–and maybe throw in a few snaps and “here boys”–and make him come find me. The pride in his eyes and the smile on his face when he finds me is what I can only imagine first-generation college graduates feel on graduation day. I clap and sing and let him bathe in first-born pride. Other times, I let him explore. I genuinely love letting him explore. Not so that I can finish the chapter of the book I’m on, but to see what he finds interesting. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he will find shoes to suck on. If it’s not shoes, then it’s cell phone chargers–or cords.  It’s quite baffling why they make toys in every combination of the rainbow when all they want is black remotes and dirty shoes.
I know I glossed over a lot, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I even felt like I had a free second to do anything other than sneeze one day, shave my legs the next, and maybe clean a toilet the next. We are finally getting our nap times figured out, and I hope to use that time to write more frequently. Until then, I’ll be singing Raffi and talking in high-pitched voices way too often.

Homemade Ice Cream

There are some foods that bring you back in time. Maybe it’s a meal you have every year for your birthday or every year at Christmas. I have both of those things– beef stroganoff for the former and spaghetti (followed by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) for the latter. But the most poignant transport in time is homemade ice cream, bringing me back to the Fourth of July. Like the peanut butter balls, this family tradition comes with a lot of griping about what a pain-in-the-rear it is to make. It started with my grandfather back in the 1960s with a hand-crank ice cream machine. My mom remembers having to crank the machine when she was only a few years old–must have been around the same time she had to walk 6 miles to school. About 20 years ago, they switched to an electric machine in what may be the most delayed adoption of progressive technology ever. Either way, the recipe and pain-in-the-rear comments haven’t changed. Switching it up between banana, strawberry, and peach is the extent that we step out of the culinary box. That is, until a few weeks ago.

My sister was throwing us a gender reveal party, and I decided that homemade ice cream would be the perfect way to celebrate. The contents are hidden until right before you eat, so there would be no way to know what “it” was until we served it.
Truth be told, I couldn’t wait for our strawberry ice cream, as I just knew it was a girl. We had strawberry-banana ice cream a few weeks prior for the Fourth of July, to which I commented, “hmm this is a little too sweet, let’s just do strawberry for the reveal.” We had talked about what to do if it was a boy– peach ice-cream with blue food coloring, but viewed it more as a hypothetical situation in which we would never know the results.
The day of the reveal came, and it turns out that it wasn’t a hypothetical situation after all. We had BLUE ice cream. WHATTTTTTT?!? Of course my first thoughts were, “is my baby boy going through gender-crisis in utero from me calling him a ‘she’ so often? I know transgender is cool right now, but please just be a boy! Get that testosterone pumping little man. If wine can transfer to his blood, so can protein powder, right?”IMG_4139
Shock aside, we can’t wait for our baby boy to arrive in early December. We can’t wait to find tractors and trucks with him, play golf with him, and dress him in the cutest Jon Jons ever. Most importantly, we can’t wait to serve him homemade ice cream every Fourth of July and create even more traditions together as a family. We love you Baby H!

Italian Sausage and Pepper Burgers/Sandwiches


I love sandwiches. My mom hates them. Probably because I made her make me a sandwich every single day of middle school and high school. And I required my sandwiches to be toasted due to the unfortunate fact that I was born with an un-toasted sandwich bread gag reflex. Since high school, I have remarkably learned to make them for myself. And have realized that I never fully appreciated the amount of love it took for my mom to do this for me. Packing lunches (especially sandwiches) is what Michael and I have termed “The Dreaded” in our house.  And sometimes weekends are celebrated soley because we don’t have to do The Dreaded.


Naturally, my love for sandwiches has grown exponentially now that I’m pregnant and cannot eat deli meat. #ALLIWANTISASANDWICHDAMMIT.  I’d do The Dreaded on weekends if it meant I could have a sandwich. Even more telling is the fact that my dreams have switched from blue Gatorade waterfalls to quench my drunken thirst to dreams of deli sandwiches.


So I have resolved to get creative in my sandwich-making. This includes the Italian Sausage and Pepper Burgers from Katie Lee’s Endless Summer cookbook. While technically a burger, I  convinced myself it was a sandwich. I mean, it fits my definition of the quintessential sandwich: a sauce, melted cheese, meat, peppers/onions/pickles, and toasted bread. Also, it deeply troubles me to call anything a burger unless it is on circular bread, and my bread was not circular. Verdict: call it a burger or call it a sandwich but call it amazing.



They were so amazing that I actually had a night of sandwich-less dreams. Instead, I found myself dreaming about a week in Santorini. I told Michael this and he threw away every piece of bread in the house so that I would go back to dreaming of sandwiches. Not the response I had hoped for.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
8 ounces hot italian sausage (remove casings)
8 ounces sweet italian sausage (remove casings)
8 slices provolone cheese
4 ciabatta rolls, lightly toasted
1/4 cup pesto (gotta use homemade)

pickled banana peppers

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent and the pepper is tender, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high. Combine both sausages in a bowl. Form into 4 patties. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Top each burger with some of the onions and peppers and two slices of cheese, cover the grill, and cook until the cheese melts. spread the rolls with pesto, add the burgers and banana peppers, and serve immediately.

Charlotte Tip: the best sandwich I have had recently is the Beef Short Rib Baguette from Cafe Monte (with caramelized onions, provolone, and arugula salade).