Jumping Around at Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park

Indoor trampoline parks are a great way for kids to burn some energy! They’re our go-to spot when it’s rainy or too hot to play outside but my son is ready to run and play. Jumpstreet in Jacksonville Beach is the closest one to us, but our city has several different options and I’m sure there are ones just like it across the US.

Jumpstreet has a special area called the Earthquake zone for smaller kids under five. They have a trampoline area, plus a blow-up slide and maze. It’s enough to keep most kids entertained for a couple hours.

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Before you go, it’s best to sign their waiver online. That way you can just go in and give them your name. It’s hard to fill out the form on the computers there with an antsy kid jumping around, pulling at you and begging to run and play.

The first time we went, it took my son 30 minutes to work up the courage and figure out how to climb the ladder on the blow-up slide. Now he’s an expert and loves sliding down on his belly and running up in the wrong direction!

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We usually go in the early afternoon and it’s never too crowded. We did try it once in the evening and it got a little packed. The kids don’t need any special socks to jump (some places require this) so they can jump barefoot or in their own socks.

My son loves it when they put out the bouncy balls on the trampolines. They usually have them out unless it gets packed.

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The total with tax for little kids comes to about $8.50 and is good for the entire day. They get a sticker and as long as they have that, you can leave and come back. They don’t charge anything for parents unless you plan on jumping as well. If you join their rewards program on the Fivestars app, then they will often send you great coupons like $5 off a jump session or 1/2 off your purchase.

They have tables around the place with good views of all the activity spots, so the bonus for parents is mostly getting to stay in one spot and keep an eye on the kids. Hurray for a moment to rest!

If you haven’t tried out an indoor trampoline park yet, I totally recommend it. Most will have a special area for small kids and some even have a special “Toddler Time” where kids under five get the run of the place for a few hours on special days. And if you are looking for more indoor fun, check out this post about Kids Bowl Free all summer!

 

 

 

Regrowing New Lettuce From Old Lettuce

I love seeing what I can regrow, whether it’s from cuttings, stems or seeds. Recently I experimented with regrowing lettuce from a few different varieties I got in the Artisan Lettuce pack. You can try this with any kind of lettuce- it works great with romaine!

artisan-lettuce

I always replant my green onions, so when I heard you can do it with lettuce, I decided to give it a try. With green onions you can keep regrowing and cutting them over and over, but with lettuce it seems you just have one chance to regrow and even then it may not be enough to fill a salad bowl. So I don’t expect this to replace my usual mixed greens, but it was a fun little experiment and something neat to do with kids too.

First I used the tops of the lettuce for salads and saved the last bit with the stem. I stuck the stem part in a bit of water and then sat it on the windowsill for about a week before it sprouted roots.

You can see the lettuce already had started growing again out of the top by the time it sprouted very small roots at the bottom. The rest of the lettuce started turning brown and it didn’t seem to be growing very fast so I decided to plant it in the garden and see what happened. You can also just leave it in the water and it will keep growing.

After I planted them, they started growing pretty good and a week later they were more full and the two purple varieties started turning more purple. Then we had some cold weather and no rain and one of the purple ones withered away while one of the green ones grew big enough to eat! The other purple one was still doing good, but it’s such a deep purple that it is hard to see in the photo. If you plant them in dirt, keep them well watered!

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I was worried I might lose the nice big green one, so I decided it was time to eat my new lettuce, about three weeks after planting it and one month total including the time spent in the water cups. So even after one month, I still had to mix in a little bit of grocery store lettuce. But overall, it was a very tasty salad and neat gardening experiment!

Book Review: The Switcheroo Kangaroo

When I do a book review, I tend to include the full experience instead of just a synopsis and my opinion. So this is the story of how the Switcheroo Kangaroo, a book written by Deanna Purkiss and Illustrated by Christian Snyder, came to visit and teach my son about sharing his good fortune (and candy) with others.

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We received a package in the mail the other day, so of course my son couldn’t wait to open it, convinced it was filled with toys for him. He was right, but unfortunately it wasn’t the “shooting flying electric helicopter cars” he was expecting and instead was a book and stuffed animal. It went a little like this:

Inside the box was the book the Switcheroo Kangaroo and a really nice plush kangaroo toy. Once I explained it was a story about a very special kangaroo who found his purpose was to share candy with kids around the world, he warmed to the idea of letting me read him the story. I think the kangaroo helped.

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He really enjoyed seeing the pics of all the holidays as we followed the Kangaroo on his adventures. The story is written in rhyme and it seemed a little forced sometimes, but I’m willing to overlook a little clunkiness on the rhyme scheme for good story with a helpful theme that promotes healthy habits. The book encourages children to leave out their sweets and the kangaroo comes to take them away to children who don’t have any, and in their place leaves a toy.

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I’m sure every parent has gotten through a candy-loaded holiday and ended up hiding half their kid’s candy pile. I still have Halloween candy stashed in the laundry room. I’m hoping the more we read this book, the more the message will sink in. After the first reading, he kept wanting me to get chocolate to “feed” the kangaroo so he could still get that helicopter he wanted. I told him we’d have to wait until Easter and then he’d have something good to exchange!

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It seems like kids these days are overloaded with sugar every day, whether it’s a holiday or not. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t bringing all the sweets home yourself – they will get it at school, while out at stores, from friends…it’s just hard to avoid.

I think this book promotes a great idea to encourage kids to give up their sweets in a way that makes it fun and makes them feel good about it. I’m looking forward to a little kangaroo visiting us right after the Easter Bunny does his thing!

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Click Here to visit the official Switcheroo Kangaroo website

And find them on Instagram and Facebook at @SwitcherooKangeroo

Easy Pico de Gallo Recipe

Pico de Gallo was the first salsa-type thing I learned to make, back before I even did a lot of cooking. A friend gave me the recipe more than 15 years ago, and I’ve tweaked it just a little over the years but the main ingredients are still the same: tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lemon or lime juice and cilantro. It’s so easy and SO good!

making pico de gallo

Ingredients for Pico de Gallo:

6 Roma (or plum) tomatoes

1/2 Sweet Onion

1 or 2 Serrano chillies

1/2 Cup cilantro (more or less)

1 Tsp. Garlic salt

1 Tbsp. Lemon or Lime Juice

Small pinch of sugar

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Directions: Mix everything in a bowl

1) Chop the tomatoes into cubes. You can do it by hand or with a chopper. I use the Prepworks Dice and Slice Chopper by Progressive (*Amazon affiliate link) for both my tomatoes and onions. I’ve had this thing for 16 years! It makes it easy and fast to make nice little cubes for pico.

2) Chop the onions into smaller cubes. I use a smaller cutting grid for the onions. If doing it by hand, just finely chop. Add to bowl with tomatoes.

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3) Devein, remove seeds and finely chop the Serrano pepper. Taking out the vein and seeds takes out a lot of the heat but leaves all the flavor. You can chop the whole thing for a hotter salsa. I always chop these by hand because I like them very fine.

Here’s how to devein the pepper: (click for larger pics)

4) Roughly chop enough cilantro to fill 1/2 cup, then chop it a little more. You can use more or less according to taste. I like a lot of cilantro myself.

5) Add 1 Tsp. garlic salt (or regular salt)

6) Add 1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice. I just use it from the bottle unless I have fresh citrus handy. Sometimes I use a little of both lemon and lime!

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7) A really small pinch of sugar. You can’t really taste it, but it seems to set off the flavors.

8) Mix well and let it chill in the refrigerator for about an hour so all the flavor meld. You can also eat it right away! But it gets even better after it sits for a bit.

pico de gallo recipe
All done! Grab the chips!

There’s so much you can do with Pico de Gallo- It’s great with tortilla chips, or served on top of any Mexican dish, or even on your eggs in the morning! This is the basic recipe that will get you started, then you can customize it to your liking as you learn the flavors.

pico de gallo on nachos
Nachos Yum!

 

 

 

Why Choose Soy Over Paraffin Wax Candles

J&L Decor, a handmade home decor company out of Montana, sent me a lovely handmade Lavender and Vanilla Scented Soy Candle to try out recently, along with some enlightening info about why they chose to make their candles using soy wax.

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Lauren Cox, the co-founder of J&L Decor, recently wrote a post about Soy vs Paraffin Wax and why soy is the better choice:

*Article summarized: Paraffin is the most common candle out there right now, and you see them in many big corporate stores like Walmart and Target. Why? Paraffin wax is cheap to buy which makes it cheap to turn into candles.
But paraffin wax is not necessarily the best choice since it is known for stirring up allergies and having a very smokey burn. For this reason, J&L Decor chooses to use soy wax instead. Read on to learn more about paraffin vs. soy and the benefits of burning a cleaner all-natural wax.

What is Paraffin?

Paraffin wax is a byproduct of crude oil refinement and the smokey burn is due to the incomplete combustion of carbon resulting in soot. In fact, most candles made from paraffin wax contain high levels of toxic benzene and toluene found when burning the candle. Both of these are carcinogenic toxins also found in diesel fuel fumes and are what can trigger allergies as well as cause respiratory issues. Since soy wax is a vegetable oil based product, you don’t have to deal with that oily petro-carbon soot you get when burning paraffin wax. This soot is the black slick you find all around the top of the container after burning. The candles can also leave soot on walls on furnishings and is hard to get off.

What Are the Benefits of Soy?

  • Soy candles burn longer – The average burn time on an 8 oz. paraffin wax candle is approximately 35 hours. Soy candles normally burn about twice as long as paraffin candles.
  • They are also easier to clean up – since soy is made from vegetables rather than being a refined gasoline by-product, all you need is soap and water to clean up wax spills.
  • Soy holds fragrance longer because the candles burn slower.
  • They burn clean, no sooty residue!

Is There a Drawback to Using Soy?

Only in appearance- soy candles have slight flaws that paraffin candles do not have. The soy expands and contracts with the change of temperature and can leave air bubbles in the jar. They often have a frosted or orange peel appearance. But these little imperfections do not affect how the candle burns.

Soy Candles from J&L Decor
Soy Candles from J&L Decor

So for a cleaner burn, longer burn time and more fragrant candle, the choice is clear- Soy candles are the way to go!

Want to try one for yourself? Check out the selection at JandLDecor.com

As for my candle, the lavender vanilla scent reminded me a bit of fresh laundry, but I think that’s because I use a lavender vanilla scented fabric softener. I lit the candle and after about 30 min. the scent filled the room and made its way around the house, so I can attest to the highly scented claims being true! And after letting it burn for a while, I blew it out and there was no sooty black ring around the candle. I stuck my finger in the cooling wax to see if it felt different and it was oily and didn’t dry and harden right away like paraffin. I dripped a little on my desk and it easily wiped up with soap and water.

I never knew there was much difference in the wax candles were made from, so it was interesting to learn about the soy wax. I am definitely a fan now! No more trying to wipe the soot off the tops of candle holders. 

 

Real Mom Life, Making it Work

Being mom means being the ultimate multitasker, squeezing things in whenever you can, and trying to do most things with a companion of questionable temperament.

My friend Georjie snapped this pic while she was highlighting my hair one afternoon. It’s not exactly a glamorous shot, but it’s a little peek into daily “mom life.” Me trying to get things done with a little guy at my feet.

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I’m most likely checking an Instagram post while my son plays on the floor of the salon. We were lucky that it was empty that day because he didn’t want to sit quietly and watch TV or his iPad. And I was lucky to have met someone who worked at a cute little salon in the back of a boutique who was OK with having my son scurry around while she did my hair.

We made it work. That’s what moms do. All day, every day.

5 Essentials for Your Dress-up Box and Where to Find Them

It starts when your toddler first puts on a pair of your shoes and stumbles around, giggling and excited to be dressing like mom or dad. Then it progresses to outfits and accessories, and before you know it they’ve got quite a dress-up collection. Dressing up is a great imaginative activity that you can encourage with a well-stocked dress-up box or wardrobe. We started with just a special dresser drawer and now it has overflowed into a large toy box. You can also find some really cool full dress-up wardrobe sets on Amazon.

Dress-up-essentials

What makes a great dress-up box?

1) Costumes – Of course every great costume box needs costumes! Start with a few costumes and then encourage your child to accessorize or mix and match to create their own outfit. Costumes can be anything from fantasy characters to uniforms for real jobs. Children’s consignment shops are great places to find nearly new costumes at really cheap prices. I’ve picked up several there, still in their original packaging, for under $10.

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2) Clothing – You can also mix in fun items of clothing that will spark their imagination to make up their own outfits. Goodwill is a good place to find dress-up pieces. Look for items that aren’t every day wear. Stuff with a little extra sparkle or maybe something that looks like it could be a character.

3) Accessories – Once they put together and outfit, they will want to accessorize with something fun. Tiaras, gloves, hats, feather boas, wigs, even wings! You can find great deals on accessories online at a place like DressUpWholesale.com, where almost everything is under $2! You can really stock a dress-up box with tons of great stuff without spending much.

4) Props – Every character needs a prop, whether it’s a pirate sword or a magic wand. Head to your local dollar store where you can find kid-friendly props to complete everything from a doctor outfit to a ninja costume.

5) Shoes or Socks – As soon as my son put on his first Spider-Man costume, he turned to me and said “I need Spider-Man shoes.” He’s only three but he wanted to complete his look down to his toes. Goodwill is a good place to find cheap dress-up shoes, but you can also throw in some old ones from your own closet. And fun socks can complete a look as well! Of course, sometimes they just want to throw on an outfit and run.

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It doesn’t matter if you have a boy or a girl, dressing up is universal for children. And when they are little, they don’t care if it is “boy stuff” or “girl stuff” they are just going to go for whatever catches their eye. One day my son will insist on being Spider-Man and the next he’s running around in a sparkly tutu. Either way, I’m just happy to see him having fun and using his imagination.

*Thanks to DressUpWholesale.com for sending us a bunch of fun items to play with from their store. Check them out if you need to stock your own Dress-up Box! They carry a great range of dress-up gear like feather boas, tutus, wings and hair accessories.

*Links to Amazon are affiliate links, and it’s possible I might make money off it, but doubtful because it’s taken me about a year to earn $6.