eK-3zmjBImBHOZjRJYEZVBw4ZWs Shaky Mommy: March 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bloggers: No Cost Event Sign-Ups

The Ultimate Baby Shower is hosting a giveaway event that will run from 4/4-4/11. The prize is $100 in PayPal cash. Bloggers can sign up to be part of the event for free! This is a great way to grow your Facebook fan base. You can sign up for the event at this link

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things I'm Loving This Thursday: Our New Driveway

Our kids love to ride their bikes & scooters outside. At our first house, we lived at the top of a very steep driveway. They were allowed to ride in a small portion of the driveway and inside our basement, but that was it. The next house, they had a little more space. We had a decent sized flat driveway and our house was on the edge of a cul-de-sac, so it was relatively safe for them to ride in the street. We didn't let them go past our driveway, though, so they were still somewhat limited. 

Not anymore!

Our driveway is huge. We actually have two. They are both flat. There is a standard driveway in front of the house. Connected to that is a sidewalk that leads to the other driveway. The second driveway is more like a street. It starts at one end of the road frontage of the property, goes all the way behind the house, and comes out at the other end of the property. It's very long. The kids have had a blast riding their bikes on it. The picture above really doesn't do it justice. 

It's really nice to not have to worry about the kids watching for cars or cars watching for them. When I take Jaxon outside, it's also nice that he has tons of room to roam without being near the street or a neighbor who might not be watching as he backs out of his driveway. It's a little thing, but we are really enjoying our driveway! 

Picture taken from behind the house (so there is even more driveway behind me)
...the driveway goes all the way down and then turns toward the road 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Realization

Back when I was working, my friend K and I would often go out for lunch. One of our favorite places to eat was surrounded by shops and so you'd often see people who were out shopping stop in for lunch. I worked in an upper middle class area that had lots of moms who stayed home with their kids. We'd often eat out and see groups of these moms meeting for lunch with their babies and preschoolers. Think 3 moms and at least 6 kids under 4. Their tables were loud. This drove K crazy, especially when we had to wait on a table. She's childless and thought it was rude of moms who "could eat at any time of day" to go out to eat during a time when working people had to eat at a specific lunch hour (11:30-12:30. She thought they should wait to eat or at least pick a more kid friendly restaurant (basically fast food with a playground, lol). She would never get annoyed by kids being around when we were at one of those places. But when we were at a place where business people dominated the clientele, she was annoyed by the presence of children, especially children who screamed or got upset. While she was annoyed by their presence, I was always a little bit jealous that these moms were out with their kids instead of working. Seeing them made me miss my kids, who were in daycare while I was working.

Yesterday, I took the kids to the McWane Science Center for Pirate Day. Normally we either eat before we go, or we eat at the cafe inside the museum. But since yesterday was a special event, I wanted to get there early so we didn't eat on the way. When we got there, it was very crowded, so I didn't think eating inside the museum was a good idea. I had a coupon for a free kids meal at a nearby restaurant and decided we would walk there for lunch.

When we got there, I quickly realized that I was the one there with kids. I was also the only adult eating in the restaurant who was not wearing a suit, skirt, or high heels. To make matters worse, I had to ask a man to move his chair so that I could get my stroller through the aisle to a table. We ate right at 12 and sat at the last table for 4 that was available. Jaxon screamed like 4 times in frustration at not being allowed to have my entire plate on his stroller tray. We stood out. Really, really stood out.

It's one of my favorite places to eat and I haven't had their food since before I had Jaxon, so I was really enjoying my food and was glad that the big kids were behaving. But as I looked around, I realized I had become that person K used to hate. A person I used to be a little bit jealous of. 

And I smiled.

My Little Pirates (a not quite Wordless Wednesday)

Yesterday was Pirate Day at the McWane Science Center. The kids made pirate eye patches and hats, got a full lesson in how to speak pirate, went on a scavenger hunt and received a treasure, dug for gold coins, and racked up in pirate booty (necklaces). They had lots of fun

If you are within a 2 hour drive of Birmingham, the McWane Center is a great field trip. You can easily spend a day there. For my full review, click here

Digging for gold...
He was so happy when he found his gold!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

(Not Quite) Wordless Wednesday

Enjoying the summer weather yesterday:
He fell down, but was so mesmerized by the cool things on the sidewalk that he didn't even cry...
First scraped knee
Today we went to the park. It was his first time at the park since he started walking - he loved having some freedom to roam.
He was fascinated by the rocks.

But the swings were still his favorite!
I love that smile!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Publix Best Meals Happen at Home Event + $25 Gift Card Giveaway!

I love Publix. We don't have one close enough to us, so I have to drive 45+ minutes to get to Publix. But it's so worth it. If you have a Publix near you and aren't shopping there, you need to start. Not only is Publix a great place to shop, it's also a great place to save. They run weekly specials and Buy One, Get One deals that are very cool!

During the Best Meals Happen at Home event, you'll find great savings on your favorite participating brands like Pillsbury, Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Campbell's, and Bertolli. The even runs March 8-14th. You'll find valuable in-store coupons that are valid through March 28, 2012. I was provided a gift card to shop at Publix and so Jaxon and I made a trip there last night to check out the great savings during this event.
Upon entering the store, we found this great display. It had store coupons, pictures of featured recipes, and a QR reader to scan to go straight to the Best Meals Happen at home site. I love it when Publix hands out store coupons!  Publix allows you to stack store coupons and manufacturer coupons. One of the store coupons on the display is for $1.50 off of 2 Prego jarred spaghetti sauce. When that coupon is combined with the .50/off of 2 Prego jarred spaghetti sauce I already had, it's an especially great deal, especially since my Publix doubles manufacturer coupons to .50 (check with your local Publix to see if yours does this as well). I picked up two jars of Prego spaghetti sauce for a total of $1.56! Since Publix also had pasta on a buy one get one special, I also picked up a couple of boxes of spaghetti noodles (total of $1.17), so we're set for a couple of spaghetti dinners. Some of the other coupons on the display were $1 off a box of Chex cereal, $2 off Bertolli frozen meals or soups, and $1 off a bottle of Wish Bone dressing.  

Want to get in on the savings? You can visit BestMealsAtHome.com to sign up. You'll receive emails with weekly recipes and exclusive coupon offers. You could save up to $200 this year! Some of the recipes on the site look great. I saw this recipe for Tuscan Glazed Chicken on the store display and I had to look it up when I got home. It looks so good!
Be sure and like the Best Meals Happen at Home Facebook page to stay updated on all the great meal ideas and coupons. 

Want to win a $25 gift card to Publix? Of course you do! Enter using the super easy Rafflecopter form below!

Friday, March 9, 2012

We're All Moved In

So we are finally all moved in and we are starting to get settled. I got the schoolroom set up first, since we spend half of our day there everyday. The living room, dining room, kitchen and our bedroom were pretty easy too. The bedrooms are still needing some work. Our kids went from 3 bedrooms, plus a playroom, to 2 bedrooms and no playroom, so there is a lot of cleaning out and consolidating still to do. We took a big pile of things they no longer play with to the thrift store and got rid of anything that was broken before we moved. But we still have too much. So our garage is a mess right now as I weed through everything in there and try to decide what they REALLY play with, what's worth saving for Jaxon to play with in a couple of years and what is easiest to just get rid of. It's a very slow process, which is frustrating for me, because I'm a "everything needs a place, and let's keep everything in its place" kind of girl. Thank goodness for the garage - at least I can shut the door when I'm tired of dealing with the mess! 

As always, Jaxon slows down the process since it's hard to keep him in the garage with me, but since he only naps for 47.3 minutes each day, it's also hard to get things done during his naps.

A few random things:

The cabinet doors in this house have handles, so I can use cabinet locks that don't require drilling holes in everything. Jaxon no longer empties the cabinets 9 times each day. This is one of those little things that makes my life easier.

The toilets in our new house messed up very soon after we moved in...backing up into the bathtubs - gross. We called our landlord and she immediately got someone out here to fix it, even though it was Sunday and she had to pay extra. When she found out they couldn't fix it the same day (they came back on Monday to finish the job), she called and told us she would pay to put us up in a hotel room. Isn't that so sweet? We were extremely pleased that she was so responsive and caring. It's very different from the rental situation we were previously in.

Moving + Parkinson's = days and days of pain. We moved most of our stuff in a weekend early because of forecasted tornadoes. I was sore that night, which was to be expected because I lifted some things I probably shouldn't have lifted. I was even more sore the next day and by the third day, things that didn't hurt the night we moved were hurting. It's like my body was mad at me. Then we spent last weekend finishing up, moving smaller things and cleaning the old house. It wasn't as much work as the first weekend, but my body thought it was. It's now Friday and I'm still sore. My body seems to take a long time to recover from things these days. 

We are going to have some chickens so we can have fresh eggs. We just got our baby chicks last night and the kids could not be more excited.  

We're also going to be planting a garden soon. I'm so excited (and so glad that my sweet husband is planning to do most of the work)! I love fresh veggies, but after seeing how I reacted after the move, I'm not sure my body is up for the work of a garden. We're hoping the garden will be productive so we can provide fresh produce to the community through the food pantry

We also are going to have some chickens so we can have fresh eggs. We just got our baby chicks last night and the kids could not be more excited.  

Anyone else out there have a garden? What do you grow?

Our New Babies

Check out these cuties that we got last night!

Allow me to introduce you to Eggley, Ember, Oreo, Omelet, Pepper, and Paisley:

Britain with Pepper
I think we're officially "farmers" now. 
Emily with Eggley - she was a little freaked out about holding her!

Alex with Omelet
The kids are completely crazy about them. We knew they would be. They've been thrilled about it ever since we told them we were considering getting some.

What I wasn't prepared for is how much Jaxon would love them! He's mesmerized by them and calls them "bahk-bahk", which is his attempt at a chicken noise. He also does this sharp intake of breath, like he's so excited, anytime we get near them. It's very cute!

Now I need to get the kids some cute spring outfits and take some Easter pictures outside with our baby chicks! How cute will that be?

Mabu Baby Rocks!

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Mabu Baby diapers and hosted a giveaway for them. They had been super generous with my package, throwing in some extra goodies that I also reviewed here. They had told me my winner would receive a starter kit, which is supposed to include 2 diaper covers with pad holders, 2 washable inserts, 2 disposable inserts, and 5 diaper liners. It's a pretty neat little kit! My winner, Debbie, was super excited to try out the kit and couldn't wait to receive it.

I got an email from her last night with this title "Whoa! My Mabu Baby Prize." She sent me a picture of everything they sent her:

The box is overflowing with goodies and she said it absolutely made her day! Neither of us had any idea they would send her so many great things to try out.  She's going to love those dishcloths - they are so soft and absorbent! Thanks Mabu Baby for being so generous with everything you sent to Debbie!

I love hearing from winners, and I've been very lucky that almost every winner of my giveaways has responded after receiving the prize, either to let me know how quickly the package came or to let me know how much they are enjoying it. It makes this so much fun for me! Thanks for being such great readers!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Consigning Your Children's Clothes

A friend introduced me to consignment sales last year. They are a great way to pick up some gently used kids clothes at great prices. Some deals I've scored in the past: Gap swim shirt (brand new with tags, $2), Gap hooded romper (like new, $4), Carter's outfits ($1 each), Kissy Kissy romper with shirt (new with tags, $5). The first couple of sales I attended I just shopped. The process of getting clothes ready for consignment seemed hard...all that pinning and tagging and pricing. 

But this past fall, I decided to see what I could make. I contributed a pile of Jaxon's clothes and a couple of baby items we weren't using anymore, like the bouncy seat and swing. The sale cost me $10 to enter, and they took 30% of all I sold. But I still made over $100 and I was very happy with that. Since I normally just donate or give away the kids clothing when they outgrow it, it was nice to make a little money to put towards some new outfits for them. 

I found that consigning kids clothes is actually very easy. There are typically guidelines for tagging and hanging but they are clear and the most difficult part is usually accumulating enough wire hangers (hint: most thrift stores sell these). Consignment sales charge a fee of around $5-$10 plus they keep 25-30% of whatever you sell. So if you sell $100 worth of clothing, you'd walk away with around $60-$70. 

The hardest part is trying to decide where to set the prices. For baby items such as Boppy pillows and toys, I suggest setting prices at 1/3-1/2 of what you paid for it, assuming the item is in great condition. For most clothing items, I suggest pricing your items at 1/3 of what you paid for it, unless it's a brand like Gymboree or a boutique brand in which case you can price it closer to 1/2 of what you paid. 

Here are a few more tips:

- Larger sizes sell better than infant sizes, mainly because bigger kids are harder on their clothes so there are usually fewer options in those sizes. 

- Take advantage of the 50% day that most sales offer. Usually you can mark your items to stay full price or allow them to be marked for either 25% or 50% off on the last day of the sale. If you're just getting rid of your items anyway, you have nothing to lose! Making $2 is better than making nothing at all!  

- Outfits sell better than single items. If you have a pair of overalls, try to pair it with a shirt or onesie instead of selling it by itself. Just make sure it matches and that both items are the same size.

- Make sure your items are perfectly clean and ironed. Yeah, I know. I don't like to iron either. But I iron for consignment sales. It makes the outfits look better on hangers and will appeal to more buyers. 

I made $166 from my first spring sale. It was a specialty sale that only took certain brands, so I still have other clothes the kids have outgrown. Luckily, there's another sale in our area starting next week and I'm currently getting the rest of the clothing ready to sell at that one and hoping to make some more money!

Want to find a consignment sale in your area? This site has a great listing of many sales.

What do you do with your children's outgrown clothing? If you consign, do you have any tips to add to this list?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Future Fortified: 1000 Days To Shape a Child's Life

If you've been following my blog for a while, you probably know that my husband's a pastor and that we run a food pantry out of the building where the church meets. We don't think anyone should have to go hungry, and believe there are enough resources out there to solve the hunger problem. We're called to feed those in our community, but we support other groups and organizations whose mission is to feed hungry people around the world. 

Did you know that there are currently 2 million people in the world who are malnourished? Malnourishment is not just a result of too little food, but also occurs when insufficient proteins and nutrients are consumed.

Future Fortified is one organization that is working to combat malnourishment. Future Fortified is a campaign of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). The purpose of the campaign is to help children and women in developing countries gain access to the essential nutrients they need to lead healthy lives. Feeding people a bowl of rice or other grain is great to keep them alive, but in order to lead healthy and lives, people must have vitamins and nutrients in their diets. 

Future Fortified works to provide home nutrition packets for parents to sprinkle onto their children's meals a few times a week. These packets contain about 15 nutrients including folic acid, Vitamin A, iron, and zinc. These packets cost as little as 3 cents each. They focus their efforts on women and young children because the first 1000 days in a child's life, from pregnancy to about age 2, can shape the child's life. Did you know that long term anemia (low iron) can cause a child to lose IQ points? I learned that at Jaxon's last appointment when our pediatrician was stressing the importance of giving Jaxon iron drops. Adequate nutrition is not just important for health, but for long term success in life. 

What I love most about Future Fortified is the approach the organization takes to improve nutrition. Instead of just shipping these packets to the countries that need them, they take a market based approach that helps to ensure the program is sustainable. They work with local governments and businesses to ensure that the product is available to the families who need it, at prices they can afford, since even the very poor buy some of the food they eat. These nutrition packets can be sourced and produced at local and regional levels, which provides continued support to the community. Future Fortified does not make money from the sales of the packets and 90% of donations to Future Fortified go directly towards funding programs in developing countries. The remainder goes to help raise awareness of the program and mobilize communities.

Want to learn more? You can read more about Future Fortified on their website. Want to help? You can donate here.  

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“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf Future Fortified. To thank me for my contribution, Mom Central donated $20 to the Future Fortified campaign.”