ANNOUNCEMENT! Active posting at this site has ended (no more picture room). Please continue reading Smith Stories at http://smithstories2nblog.blogspot.com/. You'll be automatically redirected to the new site in "
15
"seconds unless you CLICK HERE!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Baby-Proofing


Child-proofing is another area of parenthood in which I am eating my words! I knew we would install gates and keep an eye on what was where on the low counters and tables. I NEVER thought I would consider buying a toilet lock or toilet paper saver, let alone actually buy one! Overall, we have had pretty good luck with the products we have chosen. I have learned that the cheapest option is usually NOT the best, but that's ok because the middle of the road option is usually just fine!

The baby gate issue was definitely the most challenging for us due to some challenging-ly constructed banisters... We bought two
Top of Stair Gate (Evenflo). One is on the main level at the stairs going down and the second is all the way downstairs in the family room. These are awesome gates! They were relatively painless to install, super easy to use, and not very expensive compared to the other options! The challenge came on the main level for the stairs going up. We ended up using a Pressure Mount Gate (The First Years) that we had actually bought a few years ago to keep Pax out of the kitchen. With a trip to the hardware store Josh was able to create our own user-friendly gate :) He is a genius!

Here is a list of the other items we have really liked:

--Panda Door Guard (Mommy's Helper): The boys LOVE looking out the front door! I don't want to have to stand there all day while they play with the door and watch the neighborhood goings-ons. This little guy is the perfect solution!

--Swing Shut Toilet Lock (Safety 1st): While I didn't think I'd ever buy one, we did need this. There are some times I just need Jackson to be in the bathroom with me. He is completely fascinated by the toilet: opening and closing the lid, watching the water flush, playing with the handle, and dropping things in the bowl, of course. This lock is pretty user friendly, as well as effective. We haven't had any overnight guests with it yet, and I can see us just keeping the toilet lid up all night so no one has to fumble with it in the middle of the night!

--Press n' Pull Plug Protectors (Safety 1st): These were my second box of plug protectors. We had gotten a box at a shower that I liked because they were clear, but they were impossible to get out whenever I needed to actually plug something in! These aren't as invisible, but they do have a little tab you can push in in order to get the cover out.

--Outlet Plug Cover (Kidco): There are some areas in the house where big things just need to stay plugged in. These areas also happen to be at kid-friendly heights... This outlet cover is great! It was super easy to install and handled pretty large plugs.

--Grip 'n Go Cabinet Lock (Safety 1st): This was the second latch I tried for cabinet doors and really liked it! It is way easier to use than the cheapest one you will find, which I listed below.

--
Multi-Purpose Latch (Especially for Baby): As the boys get taller, they are definitely able to reach more things, including drawers. Most of my drawers don't have anything dangerous in them, but I just got tired of picking up my clean and organized tupperware and measuring cups off of the floor repeated times a day. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to ask Josh to drill holes in each drawer and cabinet to install the traditional latches. I saw these nifty guys at my friend, Kate's, house and she gave them a ringing endorsement. They are really cheap and I installed each set in about two minutes! Now, to be honest, I haven't taken them off yet so I don't know what the area under the sticky pads will look like. But on this end of things, they could not have been easier to install or use!

There are a few things I have not liked so far:


--
Toilet Paper Guard (Safety 1st): This was just too hard for us adults to use on a regular basis. While I got way more annoyed than I thought I would the few times Jackson unrolled the tp, it's just really not a big deal!

--
Slide Lock (Especially for Baby): These were the first cabinet locks I tried and they were super flimsy and really hard to use. Obviously, they went back as soon as possible!

--
Cord Wind-Up (Mommy's Helper): I'm not too concerned about our blinds...yet. But, I saw these and thought I'd give them a shot. They aren't the easiest to install and then I couldn't find a height that was child-safe, yet useable! Not exactly the most helpful product...

I also must say that although they definitely did not encourage me to say so, I LOVE BuyBuyBaby! It is such a fun store! Unfortunately, they are not a very wide-spread chain. If you have one near you, you should definitely check it out. Their selection is much larger and varied than Babies R Us, I find. Even though all of the links for the products I listed above don't necessarily go to BuyBuyBaby, I did find most of these child-proofing tools there. You can also use un-expired Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons there because they are owned by the same company! I love coupon shopping :)

For more favorite things visit: The Diaper Diaries

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!


Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Love,
Jackson

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

That's My Boy!

I went for a run yesterday after Josh got home from work (it was fabulous, by the way!). I returned to find Jackson dust-mopping the living room, dining room, and kitchen like a mad man! He was having such a good time, and it was such a quiet activity! Of course, only my son would cry when it was time to stop dust-mopping and go to bed!

video

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Wonderful Wonder Book Give-Away Results!

And...









the winner is...









Contemplative Mom! Congratulations!
Maybe Miss Mommy can help with the process of getting the book to you :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Wonderful Wonder Book Give-Away!

Don't forget that you have until tomorrow night to enter the contest to win a copy of The Wonder Book! Miss Mommy has a pretty good shot at winning since she has entered AND referred people like crazy earning her extra entries!


Last week I wrote about my awesome author-cousin Amy Krouse Rosenthal! As a follow-up post, I am announcing that she is sending me a copy of her newest book The Wonder Book to give away on my blog!

The entry process is quite easy, and there are a few ways to enter:

1) Simply leave a comment in this post. Also, leave a way for me to reach you in case you win!
2) Feel free to link to my blog in your blog to spread the word about Amy's awesome books!
3) Tell friends about the give-away. If they leave a comment, and tell me that you "referred" them, you will get entered again!

I will draw a winner on Monday morning and post the winner on Monday's blog :)

Saturday in the City

Today we headed into D.C. to meet up with the Bascoms for lunch and a museum outing! Our original plan was a picnic on The Mall, but it is a dreary, rainy day, so we'll save that for next time :) We thought we were being easy and decided to meet at Five Guys. Well, this Five Guys was inside a fancy building and we had to take a complicated elevator and walk down many hallways. We finally found quite a nice food court, but it was much harder than we thought! After lunch we headed over to the American History Smithsonian Museum. They finished remodeling the museum last fall, but this was the first time Josh had been in the "new" one. We both really liked the new flag exhibit. Jackson loved looking at all of the trains!

The start of the train exhibit! This was a big hit!

I'm not sure why it looks like I'm getting ready to eat Jackson, but it's still a cute picture :)

Of course we had to take a picture of this bus with Jackson's name on it! He looks super excited, doesn't he? Sadly, there wasn't a train, bus, or car with Maddie's name on it :(

Chatting with Maddie and Sarah between exhibits.

The daddies helping with a photo-op of the babies...

Apparently Maddie was rubbing Jackson's head. I think they are engaged now, in his eyes...

She kept going and he was in a trance by the end!

This was at the end of the afternoon, which equals nap time. Josh and David were looking a little tired, after all... ;-)

Getting in some Daddy snuggles before bed!

Basketball junkies! March Madness approaches!

Belly Toes!

I was thinking about a post last night because we had a nice few minutes before bed. Nothing too special. Josh came home right as I was working on the bedtime routine, so after Jackson's bath we came downstairs to hang out with him. He ALWAYS wants the TV on when we are in the family room. That way when he steals the remote, it actually does something! LOL He never really pays attention to what is ON the TV, however. And, before you judge me, we are rarely in the family room. It's not like we spend all day in here with useless daytime TV on all day! The boys MUCH prefer playing upstairs in the living room-dining room-kitchen area! Anyways, Jackson asked to get on my lap, and actually stayed there while we watched a little Sprout before bed. This was my first excitement: snuggle time with a sitting-still Jackson!

I don't remember what made me start asking him about his toes, but when I did, he totally pointed to them! We had never seen him do that! We asked him a few more times and he did it again! I was SO excited! That was exciting thing number two.


We were reading before bed and Jackson usually sits on my lap and leans against me all comfy while I read. He drinks his milk and just snuggles--LOVE IT! He all of a sudden started squirming to sit up all the way. I had no idea what he wanted until he leaned all the way forward to kiss the pig in the book! Apparently, he desperately needed to give that pig a bedtime kiss! So cute! That was my third exciting thing, and all of these happened in a span of about 15 minutes!


Well, the cuteness continued to this morning. I was trying to toe trick again and then thought I would push my luck for belly! Jackson has been really interested in bellies lately, Ours, his, James's... So, I said, "Jackson, where is your belly?" He immediately pulled up his shirt and showed me his belly! The look on his face was completely adorable too! After a few takes, I got this great video showing of Jackson showing his belly and toes :)

***Please ignore my voice! I wonder if I could get someone to do my voice overs for me...

video

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mr. No-Pants Gets a Happy Meal Toy!

Usually Jackson is quite helpful when I get him dressed. He likes poking his arms through his sleeves and sticks his little feet out as soon as I get out socks or shoes! This morning, however, he did not seem interested in me putting on his pants! So, he ran around like this until it was naptime :)





We spent some time at Walmart and Target on this yucky rainy day gathering some items for our upcoming trip to Hilton Head!!! I decided it would make our outing even more fun to start with lunch at McDonald's. It was really fun! LOL! No, really! Jackson ate great (this means he actually ate two pancakes, which he has been boycotting for a few days) while looking around at everything! He especially loved watching the girl making the fries! He really made friends with the woman who rang us up, and she came over as we were getting ready to leave with a toy for Jackson! Luckily for Josh and me Jackson does not really know the wonders of Happy Meals, but we'll take a free toy! It was a cute holographic magnifying glass (for the under three crowd). I thought that was so nice!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Wonderful Wonder Book!


Last week I wrote about my awesome author-cousin Amy Krouse Rosenthal! As a follow-up post, I am announcing that she is sending me a copy of her newest book The Wonder Book to give away on my blog!

The entry process is quite easy, and there are a few ways to enter:

1) Simply leave a comment in this post. Also, leave a way for me to reach you in case you win!
2) Feel free to link to my blog in your blog to spread the word about Amy's awesome books!
3) Tell friends about the give-away. If they leave a comment, and tell me that you "referred" them, you will get entered again!

I will draw a winner on Monday morning and post the winner on Monday's blog :)


Check out more favorite things at The Diaper Diaries!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy 17th Months Jackson!

This is definitely THE most ridiculous outfit I have ever managed to put together! In my defense, his other jackets are in the wash, and it was still chilly enough to need a hat when we went running early this morning! Poor kid!

Too bad he won't eat any of the things he likes to pull out...

A very typical Jackson moment :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

First Spring Trip to the Zoo 2010

One of our favorite things about living so close to D.C. is visiting the National Zoo! We especially love to go with friends :) Yesterday was a gorgeous day, so we planned to meet the Mullens at the zoo!

These animal statues are one of my favorite things to take pictures with! I hope Jackson likes them when he old enough to really notice! This was one we had never seen! We also realized we had never really spent much time near the bird house--it was really neat!

These donuts were AMAZING! We each forced ourselves to gobble down a bag ;) Before I know it Josh will be asking to go to the zoo so we can get donuts!


James and Jackson had a great time hanging out with each other and checking out the animals!

Josh's favorite exhibit is and always will be the tigers. It has a little something to do with visiting the zoo in college, getting a special tour, and a lick on the hand from Eric the tiger :)


We caught the orangs swinging overhead! There are a few tall towers with ropes connecting them. The orangs can climb up and swing from tower to tower. It is so cool! The boys LOVED checking this out!

Feeding time at the zoo :)


Day Tripping!

We had a super-successful last-minute day trip on Saturday! We drove about two hours to the Bridgewater/Waynesboro area of Virginia and made three stops. Unfortunately, I only thought to get the camera out at Gramma J's house. Trust me, Jackson was busy everywhere we went!

We drove right to Gramma J's in New Hope and after enjoying a long rest in the car Jackson was ready for lunch! We went out for some very yummy pizza! The soda machine was definitely Jackson's favorite! I have to say, however, there were lots of kids coming in for a basketball team get together and he loved making friends with them too! We went back to Gramma's and let Jackson play for a little. He loved showing Gramma his trucks, but his favorite thing to play with was the space heater. It had buttons, lights, AND sounds! Then we laid him down for a nap...hopefully... It turns out that he did not nap, but he had some quiet time for about an hour. Better than nothing! While he was resting, Josh helped with a few projects and was rewarded with cookies :) Mmmm!

From New Hope, we drove to visit Jeannie in Bridgewater. We visited her at the nursing home where she is staying while she recovers from a couple of surgeries. We thought she looked great and seemed to be doing very well! Jackson was content to hang out in his stroller and snack when we first got there. However, he finally remembered his favorite game of pushing around his stroller! I think he could do that forever!

After saying good-bye to Jeannie (and successfully finding our way back to the car), we headed down the road to meet Larry and Meemaw for dinner at Cracker Barrel. Aside from the huge freak-out Jackson had when he saw the really cool wooden highchair waiting for him, we had a lovely time! We thought the highchair was pretty neat, but luckily we had thrown Jackson's booster seat in the car and had a back-up option! Phew!

We left our house about 8:45am and we were home by 7:45pm, I think. Jackson was awesome! He ate really well and was great entertainment, as usual :) We are hoping that this day-trip thing can become a more regular occurrence!




Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who is Amy?

This is an easy question to answer (and there are several answers)!

**She is my cousin!
**She's an amazing author!
**Who is Amy?

I am pretty sure I have read all of Amy's books, starting when I was a kid and probably didn't "get" the point of some of the grown-up books. But, she was my cousin and I loved her, so I should read her books, right? As funny as the grown-up books are, I LOVE that she has gone on to write tons of children's books! I share these with as many friends as possible and Jackson has almost the complete library (it would be completely complete if we hadn't given some away to friends)!

This boxed set includes one of each of my favorites! I have run across so many people in various walks of life that tell me how much they love Little Pea. I love that! I love it even more when I tell them that Amy is my cousin. They usually think that's pretty cool :)


I faithfully filled out The Belly Book while pregnant with Jackson. This was actually how I told Amy and her family that I was pregnant. I sent them all an e-mail explaining that I bought a copy of The Belly Book..and not to give as a gift!


Amy sent Jackson Your Birthday Book when he was born. I LOVE it! It is an awesome new baby or first birthday gift!


My parents received The Grandparent Book as a gift for Jackson's first birthday. I keep bugging my mom to get started on it because I want Jackson to have the whole series: The Belly Book, Your Birthday Book, and The Grandparent Book!



I am really excited about this book! It is coming out this Spring and I wish I had had it for Jackson's baby book! Maybe I have enough similar info in the baby book I did fill out to complete this one retroactively? Hmmm...

Needless to say, you should definitely check out Amy's collection! There is pretty much something for everyone, even if you don't have kids :)


Check out more favorite things at: The Diaper Diaries

My friend, Emily, is hosting a give-away on her blog! Go here to enter!

Sneaky Squirt!

Man, is Jackson getting sneaky! But, he's so stinkin' cute when he does it! In the last couple of days I have found him...

...sitting in pretzel salt eating pretzels out of the bag and feeding some to Pax through the gate.
...pulling the grocery bag down and then throwing a pint of blueberries down the stairs.
...grabbing a pack of opened wipes off of the counter and pulling them out one by one.
...unrolling the roll of toilet paper.
...playing in his room with the Diaper Champ overturned and opened! Luckily, nothing came out!

However, he does continue to learn new helpful skills like...

...carefully handing me dishes out of the dishwasher while I'm unloading.
...closing the microwave door.
...feeding Pax treats.
...dumping his dirty diaper in the Diaper Champ.
...pulling the stopper out of the tub when he is finished playing.
...handing me food that he doesn't want instead of throwing it on the floor.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

And then the Blueberries Fell Downstairs

Well, this post was originally just going to be the picture at the bottom. However, this morning and early afternoon have been quite busy, to say the least... I haven't been able to vacuum our stairs for a while since I had a hard time finding the bag refills. I finally got some last night and was quite excited to vacuum this morning! I usually run the vacuum on the stairs while the boys are napping and it works out just fine. I got all finished and was putting away the little vacuum only to find I was "dripping" dust everywhere! Not only did the fabric bag have a hole in it, but the new bag I had just put on had detached from the blower and all of the collected hair, etc. was blowing all over! Oy!

I thought it had mostly just dumped out downstairs in the family room while I was getting ready to put away the vacuum, but when I went upstairs I found grit EVERYWHERE!!! I started to clean up the vacuum, but there was vacuumed-up-junk all inside the cloth bag and with the hole, I just didn't know how to get it clean. I decided it was time for a new vacuum. I quickly did some research and Walmart looked like they had a pretty good new alternative. I woke James up a bit early from his nap and we dashed over to Walmart on an emergency errand. After that we went to BuyBuyBaby and Trader Joe's as planned for a toilet paper holder that will keep the roll from being unrolled (ahem, Jackson) and blueberries. I'll let you guess what we got where :)

Anyways, we got home and the boys played very nicely together while I worked on cleaning the floors and re-vacuuming. The vacuum does an AWESOME job picking up what I sweep! I was actually wanting a new Dustbuster too, and it appears that my purchase today will fulfill two of my needs! I fed them lunch in the midst of all these things, and was just working on the floor downstairs in the family room, feeling like the house was getting back in order, when I heard something fall down the stairs. It actually was something thrown down the stairs since that is a favorite game. I didn't pay much attention since it happens all the time and figured it was a block or truck. I went over to grab the dust mop and saw blueberries ALL over the floor! "Someone" must have reached way up on his tippy toes to reach the bag from Trader Joes that was not yet unpacked. There was a pint of blueberries in there and now that pint was all over the family room floor. Hmmm... Oy again.

The house is pretty much back together (and clean--how's that for a bonus?), but as I was laying James down for his nap I said, "Ok, have a nice nap. You can sleep as long as you'd like this time!" He just laughed really big at me...

Maybe tomorrow we can go back to helping clean up instead of causing things to clean up... ;)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Big Helper

Jackson has discovered the fun of feeding Paxton treats! For a while now he would stretch up on his tippy-toes to reach the treat I put by the door while we were on the way out. The other day I handed Jackson the treat, and he walked right over to the gate and fed it to Pax! It was super cute! However, he first had to sample the treats to make sure they were good enough for his beloved puppy...



Another way Jackson likes to help out is by dumping his diapers in the Diaper Champ! Last night we tossed his wet diaper into his bedroom while getting ready for bath time. When we went in later for bedtime, he picked up the diaper and marched it right over to the Diaper Champ. It was hilarious!