eK-3zmjBImBHOZjRJYEZVBw4ZWs Shaky Mommy: April 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy 8th Birthday Britain!

Britain on his first birthday
It seems like just yesterday he was Jaxon's age, and now here he is, turning 8! 

Britain on his 8th birthday with his "best present ever", a Kindle Fire

Friday, April 27, 2012

Backyard Chickens: All the Cool Kids Have Them

When my husband first brought up the idea of getting a few chickens, I thought he was a little crazy. We knew NOTHING about chickens. But I thought the idea of fresh, organic eggs sounded enticing, so we decided that we'd get a few chickens.

While we were trying to find some, Jason read some books and articles and browsed message boards and prepared to be a good chicken farmer. 

When I posted on my blog about our new chicks, I thought people would think we were crazy. I could not have been more wrong. Since I posted about our chickens, at least 3 parenting blogs I regularly read posted about buying chickens to raise for eggs. I've seen several other blogs I follow post on Facebook about either wanting to have chickens or planning to get some chickens. As it turns out, chickens are the new cool thing.

Backyard chickens are popular right now for a good reason. Organically raised chickens produce eggs that are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin E. They also taste better. While our chickens are not producing quite yet, we were given some organic eggs by a neighbor who also raises chickens. There are more flavorful than standard grocery store eggs. They are a brighter yellow color, almost orange before cooking. Another side benefit: it is sooo much easier to separate the yolk from the white on an organic egg. My kids LOVED the eggs once I cooked them. This was especially notable since one child cried the last time she was served eggs. I think kids like knowing where their food comes from, and something about having met the chickens that laid these eggs made her willing to try them. Now she can't wait for our chickens to start laying so we can have more eggs.  

Chickens make great pets. The kids love them. Look how cute they are! They are very tolerant of being touched and held. If the kids get tired of the chickens, they are still useful (unlike most other pets). They don't need to be walked or cleaned up after. On the contrary, their poop is like fertilizer for your yard.

They eat lots and lots of bugs. Did you hear that? They eat unwanted things and poop it back out in the form of wanted fertilizer. It's a win/win!
Our Guineas keets -not technically chickens, but they do lay eggs. Plus they are
freakin' cute and they're my favorites, so they get their picture in this post. 

They also eat grass, grass clippings, and weeds. We've got a patch of yard where the grass had grown tall and we're letting the chickens run around out there. They're mowing it down nicely for us and also fertilizing it. We will probably make that our area into a garden plot next year since I expect the soil in that area will be nice and fertile by that point. 

Colorful eggs. Some chickens lay eggs that are blue or green in color. It's like getting Easter eggs each morning without having to dye them. What kid wouldn't love that? 

Do you have backyard chickens? Would you ever considered getting chickens for your backyard or do you think we're just crazy?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lose Something? Check Here First!

This is Jaxon's Melissa & Doug shopping cart. When I won this in a giveaway before he was born, we gave it to the other kids as a joint Christmas present. They played with some and used it properly...to push babies around and cart play food from room to room. But now, more than a year later, it's clear that this shopping cart is Jaxon's. He is the only one who uses it, and it's become his place to stash his "stuff". You know how preschoolers can accumulate treasures and they place them in drawers, pockets, and under their beds? Well, apparently toddlers do that, too.

We've learned that when the cordless phone or a remote control turns up missing, it's probably in Jaxon's cart. Missing your brush? Jaxon definitely has that. Currently in his shopping cart are a brush, his baby brush, and a comb. The boy likes for his hair to look nice and he is always swiping brushes from the bathroom.

He also has a little guitar, courtesy of his sisters' bedroom. I keep returning it to their room, but it keeps finding its way back to his cart. 

My favorite thing that he is currently carting around? A pacifier on a paci clip. That is just funny to me because he doesn't use pacifiers and never has. 

So if you're missing something, check the cart first. Just don't expect Jaxon to let the treasure go without a fight!

Does your toddler or preschooler have a place he stashes his treasures?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wailing Like a Banshee

Oh, the screaming. 

Jaxon has discovered the power of his lungs. 

He has learned he can stop everything with a single, well timed 10 second long shriek. If we're lucky, it's just a single shriek. On most days, though, that first shriek is followed by another, and a third and so on until he gets what he wants or gets tired of it and moves on to another activity.

He does this in the car, when he wants out of his car seat, or just wants to let us all know he's not pleased with being strapped in. 

He does this in church, when we won't hand over the pen, or allow him to dump his cup of water everywhere.

He does it in restaurants, where even hard of hearing old ladies turn to say "My, my, he is excited." 

It's driving us insane. 

I have noticed that he does it more when his siblings are around. For example, for The Great Cloth Diaper Change the other day, I was gone from home for about 6 hours. I think Jaxon screamed maybe 4 times the entire time, and each time, it was a single shriek, not the incessant screaming that drives everyone within a 2 mile radius crazy. Right now, he and I are home alone and have been for 2 hours and he hasn't screamed once. So I'm kind of thinking he does it to make sure he is the center of attention, which is hilarious because if you happen to know our family, you know that Jaxon definitely does not suffer from a lack of attention.

Anyone have any ideas for how to discourage this type of behavior? Our current methods are NOT working. 

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

This past Saturday, Jaxon and I, along with a friend and her baby, drove to Huntsville, Alabama, to be part of The Great Cloth Diaper Change hosted by A Nurturing Moment. Jaxon and I had gone last year, but we weren't counted in the official totals because we didn't meet the 25 person minimum. This year, I was so happy to see 27 mamas with their babies there, and even a few daddies! It's nice to see cloth diapering catching on in our state.

The first thing we did was check out the clearance section, where I picked up a swim diaper for $2.25. Score. There was a cloth diapering class before the swap, and since we were a little early, we sat in for part of that. Jaxon loved the classroom area that had lots of toys for little ones to be entertained by. He seemed to enjoy watching the other babies.

He loved this Boon Animal Bag. I did, too! Such a great way to store stuffed animals!
After the class, we got registered and set up for the change. 
The classroom area quickly filled up, and so 10-12 of us ended up in the cloth diapering area of the store. 
A Nurturing Moment handed out lots of door prizes including several diapers and I won a Kawaii diaper. They also gave each of us a sample of Rockin' Green!
Getting ready for the change...
I changed Jaxon into the very first cloth diaper we owned, a GroVia AI2 with organic insert in Sunset Stripes. I won this diaper from GroVia when I was just a few months pregnant. We were already thinking about cloth diapering, but we had never seen a cloth diaper in person. When this came in the mail, we were both amazed by how soft it was and how easy it was to put on. Since this diaper was the first one we owned and the one that sold us on cloth diapering, I thought it was fitting to use this year! Plus, GroVia was giving away 1,000 diapers to anyone who sent in pictures of their baby being changed into a GroVia at the GCDC (hoping that I qualified for that)!

After the actual change, we had a diaper swap. It was crazy! I don't think anyone thought there would be this many mamas or diapers for swapping there. There were diapers everywhere and lots of buying, selling, and trading taking place. I bought a bitti tutto for $7 in a color I didn't have yet (royal blue). I sold three diapers as well, which allowed me to purchase a diaper I've really been wanting -  a Thirsties Duo AIO in Blackbird! 

I changed into an itti bitti bitti tutto last year. I was trying to remember what diaper I changed from last year. After looking back at last year's pictures, I realized I changed Jaxon from a Rumparooz Gumball both years! I also realized I used the same blanket as my changing pad both years. Clearly, I have some favorite things that I just automatically gravitate towards. 

All in all, it was such a fun event. Jaxon and I had a blast! I was happy I was able to go since there is a chance Jaxon will be 2 next year and could be potty trained by the next GCDC. But if I do get to go next year, I think I'll be using that same blanket and changing from a Rumparooz Gumball just to keep up my (unintentional) tradition!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Nighttime Cloth Diapering

Let me start by first saying that Jaxon still doesn't sleep through the night. Instead, he nurses through the night. This equates to lots and lots of peeing. Since he is still nursing through the night, he's in our bed, and we don't want baby pee everywhere. So (successful) nighttime diapering is extremely important to us. We haven't had a nighttime leak in months, thank goodness!

Here are some basic tips, and then I'll list exactly what works for us.

1) Extra absorbency. If you don't want middle of the night changes, you'll need to double or even triple the absorbency. It might be bulky but that's why pajamas are stretchy, right?

2) Natural fibers. Hemp and bamboo inserts are extremely absorbent and hold a lot of liquid without adding as much bulk. 

3) For tummy sleepers, front elastic or a snug fit on the stomach is important. Before I figured this out, we had lots of wet tummies. I was stuffing 2-3 inserts inside pocket diapers and couldn't figure out why they were leaking when the inserts weren't soaked. But the diapers I was using at night just did not fit against his stomach well enough and the pee was not even getting to the inserts.

4) Fitteds - every bit of a fitted diaper is absorbent except for the snaps. The front, the back, the sides, even the tabs of the diaper absorb liquid. This means they can hold a lot of liquid.

5) Stay dry liners or diapers. When he was younger, the slightest wet feeling against his skin would leave Jaxon angry. I don't think he minds it as much now, but who wants to lay against a wet diaper? We use liners or stay dry materials at night whenever possible. 

These are my picks for nighttime:

Thirsties Fab Fitted - I love the Fab Fitted because the sleeve design allows you to add extra absorbency. I add a hemp insert. Microfiber absorbs quickly, but hemp absorbs more liquid. So the two together wick the moisture away from the baby quickly and just keep soaking it up as he pees. 

Thirsties Duo Wrap - I put the Duo Wrap over the combination of Fab Fitted/hemp insert. Failproof. Jaxon can go 13-14 hours in this diaper with no leaks. Bonus: Thirsties products are extremely affordable. I'm not a paid spokesperson for Thirsties, I promise.  

Applecheeks pocket diaper - I stuff the Applecheeks pocket diaper with a hemp insert and the Applecheeks bamboo insert. The pocket opening is huge -I could actually fit two inserts in there. I especially love the front elastic that Applecheeks offers to help stop tummy leaks. 

Flip organic inserts - these inserts really soak up the liquid. I use them with a fleece liner, since they are not stay dry. Depending on what time Jaxon is going to bed, I either put a Grovia cover over it, or pair it with a hemp insert and put an Econobum cover over it. 

If you cloth diaper, what do you use for nighttime diapering? 

Disneynature's Chimpanzee - New Clips!

Disneynature's Chimpanzee is in theaters today! We've enjoyed the past Disneynature films and I know our kids will like this one as well.

Here is a newly released video clip! Isn't Oscar adorable?

Also, here's a great featurette that talks about the making of the film.

Are you planning to see Chimpanzee with your kids?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What I Love About Breastfeeding

For me, there are many things to like about breastfeeding. With the exception of some latching issues with my first, breastfeeding has come easily for me with each baby. Now, I do NOT like pumping, but that's a whole different post. Jaxon has nursed longer than my other babies did and I've really grown to enjoy the time with him.  

Right now, I really love that nursing makes Jaxon a baby again. He's a very go-go-go toddler, but sometimes, he just needs milk. That means I get to hold him and snuggle him and pretend he's still little. 

I love that milk fixes everything. Hurt feelings, hurt fingers, exhaustion, teething...there is really nothing milk can't fix. 

I love the look when Jaxon first latches on. His eyes briefly roll back into his head. It's this look of "OMG, this stuff is soooo good, it's just what I needed." I always feel like I'm enabling an addict when I see that look. 

I love the smell of his breath. Is there anything sweeter than milky baby breath?

I love it when he laughs while nursing. It's counter productive sometimes, but I love making him laugh while he's nursing. The littlest things crack him up, but he's always reluctant to stop nursing, so he laughs while he's still latched. It's adorable.

I love that I don't have to worry about his nutrition or caloric intake. Jaxon still nurses enough during the day (and ALL NIGHT LONG), and so even on days he doesn't eat food well, it's nice to know he's still getting what his little body needs from my milk.

I love not having to buy formula. Or bottles. Or bottle liners. Or wash bottles each night. Or make sure there's formula in the diaper bag before I leave the house. Been there, done that with the other kids after I went back to work/they weaned. Breastfeeding is really convenient.  

What do/did you love about breastfeeding? 

This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop hosted by The Slacker Mom and co-hosted by Happiness Redefined and The Gnome’s Mom. This week’s topic is "Favorite Things". Link up and join the fun!

Real Simple, Real Diapers: Health Benefits

Have you heard about the Great Cloth Diaper Change yet?  Leading up to Earth Day (April 22nd) the Real Diaper Association (a non-profit cloth diaper advocacy group) is hosting Real Diaper Week (April 16-21st) and the 2nd Annual Great Cloth Diaper Change (April 21st).

I wanted to link up each day of this week but life got in the way of blogging. Isn't that always the way it goes? 

Today's the first day I've had time to think about this, but it's actually a little fitting. The main reason we decided to cloth diaper was for health benefits. We recognized that there were many chemicals in disposable diapers that we didn't want our baby exposed to. 

I've done a lot of reading about my Parkinson's disease and what doctors and scientist believe may cause Parkinson's. There is some research that states that genes play a part in this. At this point, the main gene identified and associated with Parkinson's is not one that I carry (I had genetic testing done shortly after my diagnosis). That is good news to me, because it lessens my children's risk for PD. However, it means that there is some other reason that I have it. The prevailing thought at this time is that some people are more susceptible to environmental chemicals, which is what causes their Parkinson's. Regardless of whether you carry a PD gene or not, you're more likely to get Parkinson's if your parent has it, possibly because you live in the same environment that your parents do and are exposed to the same chemicals. 

Because of that, we began ridding our house of harmful cleaning products and other chemicals after my diagnosis. I grew up in a house where my mother cleaned with strong chemicals like bleach daily. We wanted to basically go the opposite direction and try to use natural products to clean. So when we found out Jaxon was coming, it made no sense for us to plan to immediately surround his little bottom 24/7 with diapers containing harmful chemicals. Did you know it takes 20 lbs of bleach a year to put one baby in disposable diapers? Ick! We considered using chlorine free diapers, but read that some of those still contained chemicals we didn't want next to his skin. When we found modern cloth diapers, we knew we had found our solution. Easy application like disposables, but fewer chemicals, the option of organic fabrics, and breathability to keep his skin rash-free. 

My first son was in disposables and suffered from rash after rash. I tried many creams for him, but it never occurred to me that cloth diapers might help with his rashes. Jaxon has sensitive skin, but he has not had any diaper rashes. We occasionally see some redness when he has a gross poop, but it is usually cleared up by the next diaper change, even when I don't put any cream on it.

We've been very happy with our decision to cloth diaper, and feel like we've made a good decision for Jaxon's overall health.

If you want to, you can read more here about some of the scientific facts concerning chemicals in disposable diapers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dancing, Stomping, and Spinning Around: Jaxon at 14 months

Jaxon is now 14 months old. My "baby" has gone from barely walking at his first birthday to running all over the place now. He dances. He stomps his feet. He jumps on the bed. He spins himself around in circles until he's dizzy. He goes up and down stairs while holding the rail, just like a big kid would!

He's learned to take his diaper off, even when it's a diaper with snaps. He thinks it's hilarious. This is a picture I took of him in the middle of removing his diaper.

He has made up two signs of his own. He sucks on his big toe to indicate when he wants to nurse...I'm not sure what that says about the taste of my milk. The other is this little pinching thing he does with his thumb and forefinger. We thought it meant "bite" because he would do it when he wanted something to eat. But now he's doing it at other times, like when I say "Tell Daddy goodnight" or "Say bye-bye to Daddy." So now I'm not sure what it means.

He has a few new words. He's trying to say "Alex" which comes out "Ayah" and he also tries to say Emily which sounds like Emma, though he has sometimes just yells "Ayah" at both of them. He says "pup-pup" and "Kota" for the puppy, whose name is Dakota. He is VERY loud with everything he says. He likes to make a big impression. But he's so happy. He's really a very sweet boy who gives lots of kisses and smiles a lot. At church Sunday, he greeted everyone who came in with a huge "Hiya!" 

He's feeding himself with a fork or spoon at almost every meal, and he is actually pretty good with the fork. He's still pretty extremely messy with a spoon.

He is still a great eater, though I do not just let him eat his favorite foods anymore. Since I'm trying to boost his iron levels, I really need for every bite to count. I've been giving him a lot of eggs and spinach. They are not his favorite, but he will eat them about 75% of the time. He loves strawberries and grape tomatoes. He also enjoys cheese, pizza, and pasta. But by far, his favorite food right now are raisins. He loves raisins and often goes into the pantry to get his own box. I've never seen a kid who likes raisins as much as Jaxon does. 

He can now open doors. In the past, our best form of Jaxon-proofing the house has been to keep doors closed. We are lucky in that the doorknob to the girls room does not twist as easily as our other doorknobs, so he hasn't mastered that one out yet. Once he does, we'll have to invest in some doorknob covers because the girls room is a toddler death trap, filled with Barbie shoes and other tiny toys.

I feel like he skipped a step somewhere. He went from crawling to running, from being fed baby food to eating with a fork, all in a matter of two months. His "learning to walk" phase lasted about a week, and then he started trying to run. Where was that transition period where he's learning to use a fork but still letting me feed him with a spoon?  We completely skipped that! At this point, I'm trying to hang on to the few remaining remnants of babyhood. I love this baby boy and I'm not ready for him to grow up so quickly!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Prayers Needed!

Please be in prayer for my sweet little nephew, Malachi. He is 6 1/2 weeks old and was admitted to the hospital last night with what the doctor suspected was pneumonia. Some of you may remember that Malachi was born prematurely on February 29. He has had trouble gaining weight and finally gained up to 7 lbs last week and then came down with a little cold. His cold seemed to be getting better,  but then yesterday he started having a lot of trouble breathing. The poor little guy can't  seem to catch a break! Please pray for him that his breathing issues will clear up, that the pneumonia will disappear, and that he will begin gaining weight! Thanks in advance!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

$200 Rainy Day Facebook Frenzy

You have literally HUNDREDS of chances to win $200 Paypal cash from CouponTrade.com and The Ultimate Baby Shower

CouponTrade.com is the newest and the hottest way to save because now, you can combine coupon savings with discounted gift cards for the same stores, plus sell all those unused gift cards and redeem whats yours, all in one place!!!

The Ultimate Baby Shower will offer MONTHLY diaper and Formula giveaways, as well as a seasonal NURSERY giveaway! That’s right- you can win the entire nursery, furniture, bedding, and all the baby gear you could need!   Entry is so simple, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

RLR Laundry Treatment Review

I don't know if RLR Laundry Treatment was made 50 years ago and the packaging hasn't been updated since or if they purposely chose this image to take you back to the time when moms had time to iron Dad's shirts and fold them in neat stacks (around here, Dad does his own ironing). Whatever the reason, this is one of those cases where you should not just dismiss the product because of its poor packaging. This stuff works!

We had recently begun having stink issues with some of our diapers. While the diapers would smell clean when I'd take them out of the washer, they would stink (badly) once they were peed in. This wasn't much of an issue during the daytime since I change Jaxon every couple of hours. But at night, it was awful, especially since Jaxon ends up in bed with us every night. Once we started giving him iron drops, it got even worse. His urine reeked from the iron anyway - the diapers holding the stink made it unbearable. I tried soaking the diapers. I tried the other tricks that had helped me get rid of the stink in the past, like putting all of the microfiber through a very hot, very long sanitary cycle on my machine. They would always smell fine once rinsed but awful once Jaxon used them.  

I had seen RLR Laundry Treatment mentioned as a way to easily strip diapers. It is not a bleach or a detergent and it is safe for cloth diapers. It's relatively inexpensive (between $2-$3 per package)

When we found a store that ships it for free, we ordered a package. Once it arrived, I tried to find out how to use it since there are no instructions on the package. I found various instructions online and finally decided to use 1/2 a package since I have a HE front loading washing machine and several people mentioned that they saw major suds when using RLR (from detergent buildup being released from their diapers). I sprinkled about 1/2 the package in with my clean diapers and inserts (about 25 of them) and washed them on a hot cycle. I saw some sudsing action, but not very much. I was not very optimistic at that point, but still hopeful. I rinsed the diapers 3 times after the wash cycle. 

The first diaper I removed was one of my Thirsties Fab Fitteds. I love this diaper, but it was the one causing us major nighttime stink. It smelled clean when I took it out, but it had smelled clean before so I was still unsure if the RLR had worked. But what was amazing was how white it was inside. Jaxon has a TERRIBLE habit of pooping in new diapers, and he pooped in both my Fab fitteds as soon as I got them, like the first time he wore them. I got the major parts of the stains out but they have looked dingy ever since even after sunning. The RLR made them look brand new and they are so white! I pulled diaper after diaper out and noticed several stains were gone. I was thrilled since that was a side benefit I wasn't expecting! 

But the true test came last night. I put Jaxon to sleep around 8 in his Fab Fitted with a Duo Wrap cover. I didn't notice any stink during the night and when we got out of bed at 7:15 this morning, he was soaked, but he didn't stink! In fact, I held the diaper right up under my nose and it didn't smell at all. I am very impressed.

We'll be using RLR on a monthly basis to keep the stinkies from building up in our diapers. I also want to try it on our whites to see if it will remove the dinginess from our socks and t-shirts and get them as white as it did my diapers!

If you are having stink issues or have trouble with stains or dinginess on your diapers or clothing, I HIGHLY recommend that you try RLR. It's one of the cheapest options for stripping diapers ($2.50 a packet) and definitely the easiest. If you order from www.momsmilkboutique.com, you'll get free shipping, even if you only order one package. How awesome is that?

All opinions are my own. I didn't receive an item for review and I'm not affiliated with Mom's Milk Boutique. Just sharing my love for the product with all of you.  


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Disneynature's Chimpanzee {activity book & homeschool resources!}

Disneynature's Chimpanzee is coming to theaters on April 20 and they sent me some activity sheets and homeschool resources to share with you!

Here are the four pages of the activity book for your kids so you can see what kinds of activities are available - download the entire book here.

This is a few sample pages from the educator's guide. You can download the educator's guide here

To stay updated on Disneynature's Chimpanzee, like them on Facebook!
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Sunday, April 8, 2012

$100 Amazon Gift Code Giveaway

Welcome to the Team Abnegation $100 Gift Code Giveaway.  During the month of April, HarperTeen is promoting the release of the book Insurgent by Veronica Roth. This giveaway was organized to help promote the release of that book. To learn more about this book series please visit the Publisher's Website: http://bit.ly/GQFqbF.

To enter to win a $100 Amazon Gift Code, use the rafflecopter below. You have many chances to win and can enter daily from now until April 22nd.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekend Recap - Manic Mommy Monday

Manic Mommy Monday!
We went to an Easter egg hunt on Saturday morning. Jaxon poured his sippy cup full of water all over his pants and car seat on the (less than 5 minute) drive to the park. So while his shorts were drying on the top of the stroller canopy, he hunted eggs like this. Thankfully, he was wearing his super cute Rumparooz in Gumball diaper, so he looked pretty adorable. 

This was his first time to hunt eggs and he really seemed to enjoy it, even though he was pretty slow about it and didn't get very many eggs.

After this egg hunt, we went to an Easter carnival. Jaxon fell asleep on the ride there, even though it was less than 15 minutes away. 

Apparently, he was VERY tired, because he let us transfer him to his stroller and stayed asleep. Then he proceeded to sleep through some incredibly loud music that was playing, the sound of a helicopter as it dropped thousands of eggs onto the field, and the sound of thousands of children screaming. I wish he'd sleep like that at home!

Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the other kids hunting eggs because for the first hunt, they were on the big kid field while Jaxon was on the toddler field and for the second hunt it was impossible to get close to them since there were so many other people there...I just stood back with the stroller so as not to get trampled!  

There were several carnival rides. The kids went down a gigantic slide. After we waited for them to do that, Jaxon woke up and so I took him in the toddler tent to play while Jason took the big kids to ride the swings. He thought this swimming pool turned ball pit was pretty cool. 

The highlight of my Saturday was the homemade twice fried French fries I made for the kids that they LOVED...LOVED...LOVED! When your fries are deemed "the best fries ever", it's a pretty good day.

Yesterday the kids participated in yet another egg hunt at church, but I wasn't outside for that one. This is the hunt where they really racked up. Since we have a small church and only a few kids, 300 eggs goes a very long way. They also loved that some of those eggs had money inside them!

We dyed eggs yesterday after church - we meant to do this Saturday but got caught up in other things. Britain bailed on us after dropping his eggs in dye, but the girls were caught up in dying the perfect eggs - that look on Alex's face is her asking Emily a million question about how Emily managed to achieve a particular color on her egg "Did you dip it in orange or pink first?" 

Then Jaxon came in for some egg dying fun. That's where things got interesting. He dropped an egg in the dye and he and I both ended up with blue dye splash marks on our hands. I removed his egg, and he grabbed the cup as I did that and then we had this:

Blue dye on my feet, Emily's socks, and all over Jaxon's stomach (he was shirtless to prevent stained clothes). 

This is what happens when all of the women in his life say "Jaxon, no!" at the same time! My mother-in-law was here, and so she, Alex, Emily, and I all made some cry of "No!" or "Jaxon" at the same time and the poor baby burst into tears. 

All in all, a good weekend, but one that really wore me out. My legs are still hurting from all the walking we did Saturday!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just Breathe

Sometimes I can get caught up in my own illness and how it affects my life. When I'm inclined to throw myself a pity party, I think about my nephew, Colby, who is just 9 and is fighting Cystic Fibrosis. I asked my sister-in-law, Hollie, to write this guest post, because I knew she could convey the daily effects of CF to you much better than I can.

“Have you taken your meds today? It’s time to do your smoke medicine. Do you want the vest or manual chest PT? I think you should wear a mask today at the store. How many times have you pooped today? Make sure we don’t forget your meds for school. How about your puffer? Did we do that today? Please bring me your milk bag and extension tube........”

And so begins another day. These are the conversations between mom and son that have essentially become co-workers, fighting CF. All the strange things that must be considered and monitored. I wonder what it feels like to be a mom that doesn’t have to inspect a 9 year olds poo. Or get to just worry about friends at school or grades. When there’s a sniffle, just to make chicken soup and baby their child, instead of sheer panic. I wonder what that’s like. Because my days are quite different than most mothers. They are filled with medical regimens, physical therapy, inspecting and listening, worrying and fretting a hospital admission and administering countless prescriptions………… sometimes I wish I could just breathe.

In 2002, my first born son came prematurely and in distress. I barely held him before he was rushed to Childrens’ Hospital from the small town hospital he was birthed at in Jacksonville, AL. At two days old he had his first surgery for an intestinal blockage. The doctors told us that there was a long road ahead of us, but not to worry. They were going to take good care of him and I just needed to get some rest for the journey.

It was a month before my tiny little boy started to turn the corner. We were finally moved to a private room and out of the special care unit. I was elated to get to hold him anytime I wanted and put him in his clothes. However, just as we were settled into our room and enjoying progress and each other; his DNA tests came in…..Cystic Fibrosis. I had heard of it, but had no clue what it was.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a terminal, genetic disease that affects many organs of the body. The disease causes the cells of the body to not allow salt to travel into the cells and effectively throughout the body. The lack of salt in his cells means that fluids in his body become thick and sticky. Mucus becomes our enemy and hides away in the lungs, the digestive system and the reproductive system. The mucus plugs ducts that prevent semen from being released; therefore, he will be sterile. The mucus plugs the ducts in the pancreas that release enzymes and break down food; therefore, his body cannot digest food on its own. Mucus will soon inhabit his lungs and the body will work against itself to try and fight it, creating permanent damage and eventually destroying the lungs.

For the first four years, CF was really little more to us than some capsules sprinkled on applesauce before each bottle or meal. These capsules had man-made enzymes that digested his food. Of course, not perfect and he still had trouble with greasy, messy stools but he was gaining weight and thriving. I was encouraged that he had no lung infections and easily fought off colds through those years. Maybe he was the exception! But the doctors assured me, it’s not IF it’s WHEN.

At four, my son was hospitalized for the first time for what we know affectionately call a “tune-up”. It is a period of 10-14 days of breathing treatments, IV medications and chest physiotherapy (or chest PT) that helps loosen mucus from his lungs. He sailed right through it. Encouraged still! We had to be the exception!   

As the years passed on, the “tune-ups” became more frequent; the medicines added to, the at-home regimen lengthened. Getting a cold became harder for him to fight off and almost always meant a hospitalization was imminent. It’s not IF, it’s when.

Now at age 9, this disease has officially taken over our lives and daily thoughts and worries. Lung damage has been confirmed and it’s now a fight to recover what can be and maintain the rest. We have had three “tune-ups” in the last 6 months and now plan on another three for the remainder of the year. Doc says it time to fight. Based on the most recent tests, his lungs are operating at around 60%. The remainder is damaged and unhealthy, but he is optimistic that we may be able to recover some of that. A portion is already permanent and irreversible.

While our fears are growing there is hope in sight. With the help of the CF Foundation, researchers have been relentless in finding a way to move the salt in the bodies of CF’ers more effectively and have by all accounts found a “fix”….for 4% of the CF population. My son is not included in that group. We must still wait and fight. It is hoped that in the next 4-6 years that there may be such a fix for his strain of CF. But, the damage done until then cannot be reversed. What is done, is done.

So, we hold fast. Praying that the scientists, the researchers, the doctors are successful in their quest. I can’t even fathom the possibility and we can’t rest until then. We can’t get complacent. We can’t stop fighting. But, if AND when, I will finally be able to make chicken soup when colds move through our home, I will be able to relax in the evenings and not have to do breathing treatments and chest PTs. I will not have to shook my other two children to grandma’s house while we weather another “tune-up” and not have to schedule our lives around air quality and medical equipment.

I will be able to just breathe.

And my son will be able to eat without pressure, poo without inspections, play without worries of germs, sniffle without fear of a “tune-up”.

But best of all, he will be able to just breathe.

Shaky Mommy's notes: 
Colby is participating in a walk to benefit Cystic Fibrosis on May 19. You can help Colby meet his fundraising goal by donating here or by buying a t-shirt here.

Hollie and her kids have created a great video to educate children and adults on what CF is. Below that video is an incredibly adorable video of Colby's first stay in the hospital that shows how much he missed his brother while he was away...this is a must see! So sweet! 

Please give the "CF: I know what it is, do you?" page a like on Facebook and help us spread the word about Cystic Fibrosis.   

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mother's Day Swag Bag

Who's ready for the great Mother's Day Swag Bag Event Giveaway! Let start the fun!

The Mother's Day Swag Bag is sponsored by SnapSac

{Prize SnapSac Complete Bundle Pop}

SnapSac is a division of 1 Bag at a Time, Inc.  They are suppliers for reusable bags to libraries,  governments, grocery stores, schools, businesses and community groups.   They are committed to social, environmental, and economic responsibility.  They strive to live our values every day, and bring you a tote bag that is fashionable and what people want in a tote bag.  SnapSac products line are PetiteTote, SuperTote, MegaTote, GroceryTote, LunchTote and CoolTote. You can choose from SnapSac Complete Bundle, Pop Colors, SnapSac Complete Bundle, Neutral Colors, SnapSac Tote Bundle Pop or buy them individually. 
Review: Francisca from Jyla's Three Of Us Giveaway was given the opportunity to try SnapSac products.  SnapSac is very popular with Mega swag bags at Hollywood requests, magazines are asking for it, bloggers and moms.   SnapSac sent me their Complete Bundle, Pop Colors.  The SnapSac Complete Bundle, Pop Colors is a nice Mother's Day Gift.  You can reuses the SnapSac Bags for many things.  It great to use for the beach, doctor visit, work, trips, carry clothes for kids, grocery shopping, school and so much more.  I love the colors they come in.  It's a cheerful color to brighten anyone's day.   The SnapSac comes in different sizes to choose from.  It's great to have bags that can give me, so much options when and where to use it.  The SnapSac bags are durable and stylish.  It's a Mother's Day must have. 
We recently found out that we're expecting our third child.  I'll be using the Mega Tote bag to the hospital.  It's really big to fit just about anything I need.  The Mega Tote comes in the color: cool gray fabric with off white ink and yellow handles Size: 28”w x 19” h x 12” g.   I will use the Mega Tote to put the baby clothes, wipes, baby blanket, towel, clothes for me, slippers, hair brush, toothbrush, sneakers and camera more items. 
Other great features is the SnapSac bags can fold back into place.  When it's folded it looks like an envelope shape.  You can take the bags with you for extra storage.  SnapSac are eco-friendly and better for the environment and machine washable. The SnapSac Complete Bundle, Pop Colors includes: 1 GroceryTote, 1 PetiteTote,1 SuperTote, 1 MegaTote, 1 LunchTote and 1 CoolTote.  I like that, SnapSac bags are not expensive.   Why should you pay more on bags that can't fit your every need.  SnapSac comes in different sizes for all your needs.
The SnapSac Complete Bundle, Pop Colors retails for $29.99.  To view or buy the SnapSac Complete Bundle, Pop Colors for yourself or a friend visit http://www.snapsac.com.  You will get free shipping on orders over $25.00.  To visit your nearest SnapSac store visit http://www.snapsac.com/stores.
Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this review.  I received SnapSac products in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you SnapSac for providing your products for his review and giveaway.

Manic Mommy Monday

Manic Mommy Monday!
I've been meaning to link up to the Manic Mommy Monday since it began a few weeks ago. However, I've been completely unmotivated to blog, having way too much stuff to do around the house. Every time I started to write, my posts were just rambling...but today I figured it's a Manic Mommy Monday, doesn't that somehow call for a rambling post?

So here you go:

Jaxon looks as if I've been abusing him. I had forgotten how accident prone newly walking toddlers are. The fact that Jaxon thinks he can run, and climb, and do everything his 7 year old brother can, does not help. I promise I watch him, and I'm usually right beside him, but despite my best efforts, he falls down. Since his skin is so white it is practically transparent, every single little bruise and bump shows. Right now his legs sport scrapes from the dog, a bug bite or two, and multiple small bruises from falling down and bumping into things. He also has not one, but two bloody lips from falling down (once inside, once off his bike outside).  Thankfully, he heals quickly...but then he falls down again. It's a vicious cycle.

However, in an act of mommy awesomeness, I saved him from falling off the bed and bumping his head and body...I caught him about 8 inches from the floor. Even more impressive? It was the middle of the night...and I was sound asleep and somehow woke up as I was catching him. Score one for mommy instinct. Actually, mark two points down for that, because that's the second time I've caught him right before he hit the floor. I'm happy to say that in 13 months of co-sleeping, he's never fallen out of the bed. Of course, now that I've said that...

We now have a whole bunch of chickens. The kids love them. There are 24 that will lay eggs - I'm so ready for fresh eggs! The rest of the chickens will become food. We haven't let the kids named the doomed chickens and surprisingly, they are okay with knowing that we will be eating those chickens in a couple of months. 

Jason has been getting up very early to feed the animals and let the dog out (she's outside in a pen, but when we're up, we let her have the run of the entire yard). It's great that he's been able to adjust to farm life and waking up early so easily. What's not great (for me, anyway) is that Jaxon thinks that as soon as Daddy goes outside at 6:45, he needs to be going as well. Each day last week, Jaxon got up with Jason, went outside before 7, was filthy by 8, and in the end went through at least 4 outfits each day, since I can't stand for him to nurse on top of me or be laid in his bed when he's filthy. We've discovered that he loves to dig in the dirt. ALL BOY. He's already learned that he needs to take his shoes off when he comes in from being outside and he knows that his playing outside shoes are kept in the laundry room. It took me weeks to teach the other kids that, lol.  

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month. Five million people around the world live with Parkinson's disease every day, so I'm in good company. While teaching division and changing diapers dominates more of my time than thinking about a cure for Parkinson's does, the constant pain in my legs reminds me that my body is not working the way a normal 34 year old body should be. So I am grateful for organizations like The Michael J Fox Foundation and the National Parkinson's Foundation that work relentlessly for a cure. If you want to help, click on one of those links. If you have Parkinson's and want to help, click here for information on how to join the 23andme Parkinson's Research Community