eK-3zmjBImBHOZjRJYEZVBw4ZWs Shaky Mommy: June 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

Jaxon's First Haircut

I'm not one of those people who rush to give babies their first haircut when they turn 1. That could be due to the fact that I like babies to stay babies or it could be due to the fact that my children have very little hair when they are 1. I had not planned to get Jaxon's hair cut anytime soon. However, he'd developed a few hairs that were significantly longer than other hairs and his hair was looking scraggly. He also had a single curl in the back that was looking more like a rat tail! My sister, Brooke, who cuts hair came for a visit this week and gave the big kids haircuts while she was here. Jaxon seemed receptive when I asked him about a haircut, so I put him on the stool to see how he would do.  
Getting the cape put on.
Holding his favorite broom - it's like a security blanket for him, I guess!
A spray bottle! He loved that!
He did pretty well at first...
But then he got squirmy, so I had to hold his head still. 
He did not like that!
Luckily, he was back to smiling pretty quickly!
That's my other sister, Caitlyn, in the background. Sometimes she stops texting long enough to talk to us ;-)
Showing him the clippers so they wouldn't freak him out...
He loved the clippers! 
Love that face!

He was so sick of sitting still after the haircut that I didn't get a good picture of how it looks now, but he looks adorable, and very little boy like (where did my baby go???)

How old was your child when they got their first haircut?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jaxon at 16 months

Jaxon is now 16 months old! He rang in his 16 month birthday with a 103.4 fever. Thankfully, it didn't even last 24 hours. He had no other symptoms besides fussiness & fever, so I have no idea what was going on. I'm just glad he's better!  

Things he loves: being outside, sticks, rocks, and dirt, riding his tricycle, playing at the pool, climbing on everything, opening doors to rooms or closets he shouldn't be in, and playing with the kittens and chickens, helping us do things (unloading the dishwasher, feeding the chickens), hanging the diapers out to dry, listening to music, "singing", dancing, and of course, nursing. 
A rare quiet moment
New things he can do: move a stool to a lightswitch to turn it on, start the dishwasher (ugh),  open the sliding glass door to the outside (double ugh), get water and ice from the fridge (thank goodness for the lock), put the silverware away and place the knives into the knife block (closely supervised, of course!), tell me when he needs a diaper change, uses a fork and spoon.

Things he still doesn't do: sleep through the night, take regular naps, fall asleep without nursing unless he's in the car (do you see a theme here?)

New words: Papaw, Mamaw, Thank you, Welcome (you're welcome), truck, ice, outside, biscuit, blueberry, cat, truck

Favorite words (we hear these daily): broom, happy, vacuum, mop, bite, bye-bye

Something we love: Jaxon says "happy" whenever he is happy about something. For example, I asked him if he wanted to take a walk this morning and he nodded yes. Then he walked around for 5 minutes while I cleaned up from breakfast saying "happy, happy, happy." 

Last week, the big kids went to Vacation Bible School and loved it. Each evening when we picked them up, we went inside and listened to the last little bit of their lesson and the ending song. Jaxon fell in love with all of it and by the third night was happily toddling into the church to be part of the fun. He tends to be a little shy and wary of new places and new people, often taking a lot of time to warm up. Not so with VBS! On the last night, the church had family night and all the parents came in to watch. Jason and I were sitting near the back with Jaxon, but each time they started a song, he ran up to the front alone. I took this video during the last song. He was having so much fun! It's hard for me to believe he's so big, but every day he's proving to be less and less of a baby.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Disney/Pixar's "Brave" - new clip!

Disney's "Brave" is now in theaters. It looks like such a fun movie! I think my kids are really going to like it. Are you going to see Brave?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Five Toys Every Toddler Loves

There are certain toys that seem to be a hit with all toddlers. These toys are timeless, don't require batteries, and can be handed down to younger siblings. The best of these toys offer multiple ways to play so that play doesn't become boring. 

  • Stacking & nesting cups or boxes - Jaxon has had so much fun with these! They stack and make an impressive tower and he loves to knock it over. They store compactly because they nest inside each other. This makes clean up a learning process, too. We have this set from Melissa & Doug because it's wooden and features animal pictures that provide additional learning activities, but I also like these nesting and stacking cups from Fisher-Price.  
  • Blocks. Over the years, we've accumulated several different types of blocks. These rainbow sound blocks have lasted us 8 years and are currently Jaxon's favorite. The beads shake around inside and make a glorious noise when whatever he's building crashes to the ground. 
  • Pounding bench. Toddlers love to bang on things, so this is a perfect fit. We love the Melissa & Doug Pound-a-Peg - you can read my full review here

  • A push toy. There are many great ones out there, depending on your priorities and budget. Though we loved the Melissa & Doug walker, we decided to skip the more traditional "learning to walk" walkers and went for the Push and Ride Racer from Little Tikes. He loves pushing it around and when he's tired of pushing, it's easy for him to climb on and off so he can ride it around. My oldest daughter also had one of these and I can vouch for the fact that like most things from Little Tikes, this toy will last a very long time.  

  • A bouncy ball. Readily available at any dollar store, a large bouncy ball provides opportunities for toddlers to learn to throw, roll, kick, and engage in reciprocal play with others.  

Does your toddler have a favorite toy? Is there anything you would add to this list?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Random Thoughts on Thursday & a Visit From the Fairy Hobmother!

I'm loving summer salads...doesn't this look delicious? The yellow peppers made this especially yummy for lunch today! I've had a salad for lunch every day this week, but this one was the best! I'm also enjoying the plums we picked up at the farmer's market on Tuesday!

I have mentioned before that we have chickens. Two of our chickens are now laying eggs. It's been great having fresh eggs and the kids enjoy the taste better than that of conventional eggs. I am always pushing Jaxon to eat eggs so he can get extra iron, so I love knowing that our eggs are the healthiest he could be eating. 

One thing I don't think I have mentioned is that in addition to our laying hens, we have "meat birds" - the chickens that are destined to become dinner. Jason has become quite adept at processing chickens (despite my initial doubt that he'd ever be able to kill anything). We haven't eaten any of our chickens ourselves yet, because our friends & family have been so eager to try them! My mother in law cooked one and said the taste and flavor of the chicken was great. She also said there was a lot of meat on the chicken, enough for 4 meals for her and my father-in-law.  

Some friends of ours recently bought a side of organic beef for their freezer, but then they found out their son is allergic to beef. They contacted us to see about getting several of our free range, organic chickens for him instead. This particular little boy has had a really hard time with his health and so I am happy that we could help them out. We're driving to meet them this afternoon, and that means a trip to Whole Foods, which I thought would be the highlight of my day today. 

But then I got a visit from The Fairy Hobmother! In case you haven't been introduced to The Fairy Hobmother, he travels around the blogosphere spreading light and joy. He does his job very well! He certainly brought some joy to me this morning when he sent me an Amazon gift card! I don't know about you, but I can always find something on Amazon I need! Thanks so much, Fairy Hobmother! I'm totally jealous of your fun job! 

Would you like a visit from The Fairy Hobmother? Comment on this post and he just might visit your blog!

Breast Milk Storage Bags: Not Just for Milk

Even though I wasn't going back to work after Jaxon was born, I still planned to pump some milk for him. I thought a bottle might be handy on occasion when nursing wasn't as feasible (trips in the car). I also thought I'd use the pumped milk to thin solids once I started making his baby food. Turns out, even with a great pump, I'm still a terrible pumper. I ended up with a couple of boxes of breast milk storage bags and it became clear that I wasn't going to use them for milk. 

Here are some other uses I've found for these bags:

- storing & freezing homemade baby food. It's so much easier to defrost homemade baby food when it's in a bag as opposed to a container. Just drop it in a bowl of hot water and it's ready to eat in a few minutes. Most baby foods pour right out of the bag, but thicker substances may require you to use a spoon to get it all out. 

- freezing other foods. My kids love marinara sauce with their pizza, but they never eat enough to justify opening an entire jar of sauce. Instead, I'll save the leftover sauce after we have spaghetti, put it in a bag, and freeze it. When it's time for pizza, I can just drop it in a bowl of hot water and by the time the pizza is done, the sauce is ready to eat.

- waterproof phone cover. I have to give credit to Honeysuckle Breastmilk Storage Bags for this one. Breastmilk storage bags are watertight, right? They keep the milk in so they can keep the water out. I tried this at the pool yesterday and it was great. I was able to check my phone without having to dry off. I was glad for the bag when a child redirected one of the fountains while I was texting Jason. She soaked me and the phone! Her mother was so apologetic but I told her it was no big deal since the phone was safely enclosed in the bag. I also snapped these pictures while the phone was in the bag.

Britain also did a flip off the high dive and I was able to get that on video to share!

All opinions are my own. Thanks to Honeysuckle Breastmilk Storage Bags for providing a sample. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Learning with Scholastic Printables

Even though it's summer, I don't want the kids to stop learning things. I have long been a fan of summer reading programs and other activities that keep children focused on learning things instead of sitting on the couch playing video games all summer long. We are still making weekly trips to the library and we have the kids read for 30 minutes each day. During the school year, they make one page journal entries daily and we are continuing this during the summer so that their writing skills continue to improve.

To make sure they are retaining what they read and understanding the story, we're also using some reading comprehension worksheets from Scholastic. The cause and effect worksheet is simple, but perfect for helping young readers connect events in a story. Scholastic Printables provides access to over 15,000 worksheets and resources for students from Pre-K to 8th grade. They're great for homeschoolers and teachers, but even if you don't homeschool or teach in a traditional classroom, you can print these worksheets to use with your kids at home. They can be used to complement your child's classroom education. 

I love that the Scholastic worksheets are different from what my kids are used to. These multiplication worksheets are fun for the kids and they like solving the puzzles. Scholastic also offers worksheets in other subjects, such as science, social studies, and language. Whatever your topic, you're sure to find a worksheet that will enhance your child's learning. But just in case you don't,  the site also offers a "Make Your Own" feature to create your own puzzles, games, and flash cards in 3 easy steps.  

Individual plans start at $8.99/monthly, but the annual plan is just $39.99, so it's the better value. Under each category, there are a few free worksheets to try!

This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts & opinions are my own.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Disney Pixar's BRAVE - Activity Sheets

BRAVE opens next week and Disney wanted to share some activity sheets to celebrate. Here's a few examples - click on each link below to open the PDF and print the sheets.

Mazes - Archery Maze, Triplets Maze, Wisp Maze

Coin Archery

Spot the Difference

Make Your Own Clan Banner

If you haven't seen the clips from Brave yet, here's a fun one to check out:

"Like" BRAVE on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PixarBrave 

BRAVE arrives in theaters everywhere on June 22nd!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Road trip? Yes, please!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PA Tourism for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


I love to travel. Lately I've been wanting to take a road trip. I think it would be so much fun to load the kids up and drive to some fun, kid friendly destinations. While I love planning trips, I don't love surprises, such as restaurants that don't offer high chairs or hotels that are kind of grimy. I am also never sure which activities are worthy of a stop and which ones should be passed over. That's why I think the pa-roadtrips planner is so very cool! When you plan a trip with the Roadtrip-a-Matic, everything is covered, including information on area activities, lodging, and food.

The Roadtrip-a-Matic makes planning a road trip through Pennsylvania very easy. In fact, there's very little planning left to do once you choose your trip - they've done it all for you - just pack your bags and you're ready to go.There are a variety of themed roadtrips, such as "Taste Buds on Tour" and "Small Town Charmy", so you are sure to find one that's perfect for you. Because of my love for history, I'm particularly drawn to the "Civil Wars Trails and Beyond" roadtrip, which is full of stops at historical sites. But a day of history is not quite what the kids would have in mind, so the trip for us would be Kidsylvania: Philadelphia. It combines fun stuff like the Philadelphia Zoo and the Please Touch museum with stops at the National Constitution Center (which has interactive exhibits for kids) and the Liberty Bell Center, so I get my history and they get their fun! 

Once you decide which trip you are taking, you can enter your start and end address and print maps. You can also print a pdf that includes your complete travel itinerary. They even offer suggestions for worthy detours along the route you choose, just in case you find yourself with extra time on your hands or want to extend your trip by a day. 

Which trip would you choose? Check them all out here and let me know which one you like best!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why Does It Always Happen This Way?

Half of the time, we have four kids here. But every other week, when Emily is at her mom's house, we have three kids. And every other weekend while Emily is gone, Alex & Britain go to visit their father and we just have Jaxon. 

During the summer, however, things are different. The custody agreement requires Alex and Britain to spend extra time with their father, and so at various times during the summer, we may have just Emily and Jaxon or we may just have Jaxon for the whole week. Last year, we had two one week periods where it was just us and Jaxon. To those of you who never get a break from your kids, going from 4 kids down to 1 probably sounds like a vacation. The only problem is that my body chooses these little breaks to get sick. 

The first time Alex & Britain left in June of last year, I came down with mastitis the next day. All my grand plans of deep cleaning the house went out the window and I spent several days in bed, recovering.  

The second time they left was in July. We decided to take a quick trip to the beach. It was my birthday and that was the best birthday present my husband could have given me! I was so excited! We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, and early on Thursday morning, I woke up with mastitis. Again. I could not believe it. 

So here we are, a year later. The kids left on Sunday evening. On Monday afternoon, I started getting a cold and it has gotten steadily worse. It shouldn't surprise me, but I was hoping to be well this time! I know a cold doesn't sound like much and it's really not. It's just that any form of sickness aggravates my Parkinson's symptoms. What should be a simple cold becomes much more flu like when combined with the fatigue and body aches of Parkinson's. 

The good thing is that since the kids are gone, I have plenty of time to lay around, take naps, drink hot tea, and recover. The sad thing is that every time I know they are going to be gone, I always plan lots of projects and things to keep me busy to distract me from how much I miss them. Since I seem to get sick every time they leave, I never get any of these things accomplished. Oh, well.

What I can't figure out is why my body always chooses these times to get sick...it makes no sense!

Itti Bitti Tutto Winner!

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Twice Fried French Fries: The Best French Fries in the Whole World

My kids have not actually tasted every type of french fry in the world, but when your 7 year old proclaims that your fries are "the best fries in the whole world", you just accept the compliment. When your husband and your other two kids also say it, you know it must be true. Jaxon's the only one who didn't say they were the best, but I like to think he agrees with the rest of the family. ;-)

The great thing about these amazing fries is that you can make them, too! My friend Jesse taught me how to make these. He's a chef at Whole Foods, so he knows what he's doing. Thankfully, he also knows how to make things sound easy enough for me to attempt them. I am not a whiz in the kitchen, so anything I make has to be easy and foolproof. These fries pass the test.

Here's what you need:
Yukon Gold potatoes
Peanut Oil
Sea Salt

Wash & dry your potatoes. You don't need to peel them - the skin on these potatoes is thin so it still makes a great fry, even with the skin on. 

Slice the potatoes. Uniformity doesn't matter, but it helps to keep the thickness of the fries about the same. Mine usually end up between 3/8 - 1/2 of an inch thick. 

Heat your oil to 250 degrees. I use a deep fryer and it starts at 260 degrees, so that's what I do and it works fine. Once the oil is at the desired temperature, place a large handful of fries in the basket and lower into the oil. Fry for 3 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl or on a plate. Continue until all your fries have been fried for 3 minutes at 250-260 degrees. 

Place your plate or bowl of fries in the refrigerator for an hour to cool. 

Heat your oil again, this time to 350 degrees. Once again, my fryer doesn't have a setting for 350, so I use 360 and it works fine.

Once the oil is hot enough, drop a large handful of fries into the oil - again, don't place too many in at a time. Fry for 4-5 minutes or until they are your desired level of golden brown. 

Remove and place on platter - immediately sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Result: amazing fries. The picture does not do these fries justice. They are really good! I get hungry just looking at this picture!