Monday, September 26, 2011

Always a Critic

How to Read a Book by JJ Van Fleet

Step 1: Check out the cover. If it's compelling, continue to step 2.

Step 2: Open the book to the first page and read.

Step 3: Skip to the end of the book.

Step 4: WTF is a Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz? 

Step 5: Turn the book to see if it makes sense from a different angle.

Step 6: Check out author's credentials on the back cover. What kind of doctor is this Seuss guy?

Step 7: Throw book aside and write it off as an old man's tomfoolery. Go back to reading sophisticated literature like Bert and Ernie's Book of Opposites.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Growing JJ

JJ and I took this picture when he was 6 weeks old.

And here we are at 23 weeks. Look how big he's gotten! (and unfortunately, I look larger too :( How did that happen?)

And here we are hanging out by the bar, 'cause that's how JJ rolls.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pictures of JJ

I don't really have a bunch to say right now. Life is carrying on as usual, albeit a little crazy. I'll caption the pictures to let you know what we've been up to!

Because JJ has started sitting up on his own (yes, we have a sitter at less than 5 months!), we've recently eliminated using the car seat in his stroller. He seems very happy, and can see so much more on our walks now! What a big boy! It will still be a while before he's using that cup holder though!

JJ and I went to an interfaith candlelight vigil at a Lutheran Church to protest the ban on gay marriage that the NCGA was voting on last week. It was such a powerful evening full of spirit, words of love and justice from leaders of different faiths, and songs lifting up the power of love. It was a nice reminder that the conservative view is not the religious view. So many people of faith came out to show support and stand on the side of love. Unfortunately the vote didn't go our way, but I think the voters will avenge the discrimination in May when we vote.

Just a cute picture of JJ!

JJ's first self portrait! I gave JJ my phone with the camera turned on, and this is what he took all by himself!! I think he may be an artist following in the footsteps of Uncle Ryan!

This is another picture that JJ took of himself. I'm telling you, this kid is gifted. Most pictures I take of myself don't turn out this good!

I turned some of JJ's socks into a make-shift ponytail holder. I'm kind of a genius!

JJ and Franklin watching TV together!

Here's our little dude in the bathtub! He's using the "toddler" side now, since he loves to sit up! Soon he'll be in the real tub splashing around! (or the real kitchen sink, probably!)

Post-bath hanging out

This look isn't really runway ready, since we're mixing all sorts of seasons. We had a fire in our chiminea in the back yard--it was totally awesome--but since it was a little chilly, I wanted JJ to have a hat on. He's "between" winter hats right now though. He has a few infant caps, but they don't fit anymore, but his heavy winter caps would have been too much. So he got this summer hat that used to be mine, and this sleeper outfit whose legs are clearly too short for him. And the socks are also too small for him. I promise we usually take better care of him than this...

Our fire!

JJ came down with a fever last night, but that didn't stop him from being a smiley cute awesome baby this morning. This is how our baby acts when he has a temperature of 103.1!!! He's so great!

He fell asleep playing with his shape sorter! Poor little guy--I didn't even have a chance to put his pants back on!

Another impromptu nap. I sat him in the chair, went to grab something (I was out of the room for literally 30 seconds), and he had flopped to one side, grabbed his foot, and fallen asleep. He stayed like this for about 30 minutes!

That's it for now! Hopefully I'll post more pictures of our little guy soon (and hopefully he'll be 100% by then!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Jim and I recently bought a bookshelf for JJ's room at a yard sale to benefit the Free Store in our neighborhood. The shelf cost us $5, which I thought was a bargain. It is solid wood, and was in decent shape. Here is the before picture:

I decided to paint it with chalkboard paint, so JJ could eventually use it to write fun things while he's in his room. Here is the after picture of the painted shelf in his room:

And here it is full of his (my) treasures! What do you think? Personally, I love it!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

25 Small Ways to Go Green in a Big Way

I am speaking on Tuesday at Ignite Charlotte 3 on Bringing Up Green Baby. The Ignite series has a slogan: "Enlighten us, but make it quick!" The evening consists of 5-minute talks from 15 speakers on various topics that they are passionate about. As promised in my talk, I am listing 25 small things that you can do to go green. There is no way that I could fit such details in the talk, since it is so short and structured (20 auto-advancing slides, 15 seconds to "talk to" each slide). So, here it is:

1. Use rags and burp cloths to clean up any baby messes around the house, then toss them in the wash with your cloth diapers. This cuts down drastically on the paper towel use around the house. (A 12-pack of paper towels lasts us well over 8 months. I really only use them to drain my bacon! Mmm...bacon!)
2. When you buy a toy (or inherit it from a friend), don't put batteries in it right away. The novelty alone will keep baby or child engaged for a while. Once this has worn off, then put them in, and make sure it is turned off after each use. (JJ's been using an exersaucer for about a month and we rarely turn it on for him. But he is still really engaged when it's off!)
3. Transfer cleaning and body products to reusable pumps. This way, they are "pre-measured" (per pump), and you end up using less than just squeezing out from the bottle.
4. Mark clearly with a permanent marker the "load lines" on your detergent caps. I guarantee you are using too much detergent per load.
5. If you will be using bottles to feed your baby, buy the larger size only (8 oz). Once baby is ready to move up to larger meals, you won't need to buy a second set of bottles.
6. Resist the urge to nest! Don't unwrap items until you need them may not (and keep the receipt!)!
7. Forego the wipes warmer. You don't need it, and neither does baby!
8. Choose a laundry detergent with no phosphates or chlorine, and only natural scents (if your baby has allergies, you may have to forego the smell goods too). We use Ecos detergents, but there are several good ones out there.
9. Consider making your own body products from kitchen items, following these recipes. Have older children help you!
1o. Use cloth diapers already! How many times do I have to tell you how awesome they are! We use Kawaii snap diapers.
11. Babies and young children don't need bath toys. Give them used bottles and tupperware to fill and empty while they bathe.
12. Make your own baby food using recipes found here.
13. Breastfeed if possible. Greenest option and best for baby!
14. Buy gender-neutral clothing and bedding. This increases their ability to be handed down to future siblings or friends' babies.
15. Share your love of the planet with your kids! Talk about the importance of conserving resources and making better choices!
16. Use vinegar and baking soda to clean your house. They do a surprisingly great job, especially in the bathroom! (And they're cheap!) Add some essential oil to your white vinegar to make the odor more pleasing.
17. Compost yard and kitchen scraps.
18. Purchase rechargeable batteries. The upfront cost of heftier, but in the long run, you save a ton of money!
19. Have an "electricity-free" night once or twice a month. For 24-hours, turn off all running items (including A/C or heat, computers, TVs, lights, but not your fridge or security system). This not only saves $$, but also challenges you and your child to get creative! Read or draw by candlelight, camp in the backyard, make music with household items, have fun!
20. Pre-fold diapers happen to fit a Swiffer mop perfectly! When you're done using them for baby's bottom, use them to care for your hardwoods!
21. Start an indoor herb garden that your child can care for by him/herself. Or, have them help you maintain your outdoor garden, if space allows (container gardening is great for porches/balconies in homes with no yard)
22. Keep a "craft box" of items for art projects for rainy days. Cereal boxes, empty coffee cans/tubs, paper bags, magazines, scraps of ribbon, old greeting cards. You can use pantry staples like pasta, rice, dried beans, or cereal to supplement projects. (Just be sure not to turn into a hoarder. Recycle the items if you find you don't use them.)
23. Visit or join a community garden in your area. Some look for volunteers just to help them harvest items!
24. Use pictures from old books or magazines as art in your child's room, rather than buying new pieces. If they're old enough, have them collaborate to create a winning look!
25. Use Neem oil to keep bugs away from your children, pets, and garden. It's an all-natural way to keep pests at bay.
26. Turn your fingernail trimmings into bristles of a hairbrush for baby. (Just kidding on this one...seeing if you made it to the end. Did you?)

Look for more lists like this one every so often, because there are so many ways that little choices can make a big impact! Feel free to leave a comment with other ideas!