Friday, January 28, 2011

FO: Last baby gift

I am falling behind on my FO posts (I'm sure you all were sighing with relief!)

I made an identical eyelet sweater for my friend Sara's new baby, Lauren:

It seemed so tiny until I saw her! Now I'm hoping it fits by a year. ;)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One giant leap for Momkind

Can I even tell you how awesome the last week has been? Not only is my child sleeping past 6am, he's been hovering closer to 7am!!! This is the equivalent to being able to sleep in till noon in my house.

And the words! Every day we get one, two, three or more new ones! Yesterday he just started repeating words I'd tell him (mouse, orange). Explosion. Awesome. Really.

I'm pretty sure the sleep thing is related to the word thing. The last time we had a huge sleep leap forward was when he started walking. He's very sensitive to developmental milestones, I suppose.

Oh, and he got a hair cut, too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ditching shampoo - follow up

It's been about a month since I'd ditched the shampoo bottles, and I'm happy to report that I seem to still have friends! Seriously, though, my hair looks fine. I generally wash it every other day, but occasionally (weekends) I'll go another day. Then it gets a bit on the greasy side, but I'd say that it looks like it did after 1 day with shampoo when I do that - so I'd call it a win.

My scalp has been a bit itchy lately, but I'd been focusing on putting the vinegar only on the tips of my hair. I think that might be the culprit. So I'm trying to use a more diluted solution of vinegar, but putting it on my scalp, too. That should neutralize any leftover residue from the baking soda. I don't think the itchiness is serious - there are no flakes. Actually, my scalp is in much better shape, as I used to have a build up (shampoo/conditioner, I imagine) that is long gone!

Did anyone else bite the bullet? How's it working for you? I've heard reports that people with thin and/or fine hair are having trouble. Any readers have tips for those gals?

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Week in Pictures

Well, let's say the last 7 days. :)

Play date at our house - hanging in Joseph's room.

Daddy's back from Switzerland (Just in time for the Steelers' game!)

Who doesn't like riding roller coasters naked?

Jet Lagged

I know what's on tap this weekend: A haircut.


My rosy-cheeked elf

Soo cute!

Just love this expression

Still has those blue eyes... guess they are probably here to stay!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Presidential Material?

What do you think of his "Looking Toward the Future" pose?

Not bad for a 20 mo old child!

Plus, I think he's got the ears for the job! Ha!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Eating Safe

I was going to title this post "Eating Healthy", but before that can even be addressed, you have to consider if you can even eat safely in the U.S. There are so many pesticides, herbicides, diseases in CAFO animals, etc... that it's hard to even make heads and tales of what you should and shouldn't eat.

One of my favorite not-for-profit organizations, the Environmental Working Group, has done great work in making it easier to keep your family healthy with their Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen food lists

But my latest obsession is reducing the amount of BPA in our bodies (probably an impossible task). Canned goods, glass jarred goods (the lids), waxy paper used for food wrapping, checkout reciepts, etc... can all contain BPA. I've been avoiding cans lately, but that is frankly causing me to eat LESS healthily, or give up entirely and go to Chick-Fil-A.

So I did a little research on BPA free cans the other night. Here are some brands that have BPA free canned goods:

1) Eden Organics - beans
2) Trader Joe's - beans, veggies, seafood
3) Vital Choice - tuna
4) Oregon's Choice - tuna
5) Wild Planet - tuna
6) Eco Fish - tuna
7) Edward & Sons - fruits, veggies, coconut milk

Notice that tomatoes aren't listed for any of these companies. So sad. And even if you can your own, the lids are pretty much guaranteed to have BPA in the lining. So what can you do? There are plastic canning lids (but really, what do those have in them that we just don't know about?), or live with it, I guess. I went ahead and bought a couple of cans of tomatoes at Whole Foods the other day, and just gave a big sigh about it. :) At least they are organic, right?

Oh, and I want to report that I'm pretty sure that the giant can of tomatoes I bought at Costco appeared to be unlined of any plastic coating! If that Italian company can do it, why can't the U.S. companies?


#2 - in the toilet!

One less diaper to wash out. Oh my, I am so happy. Yey Joseph for going on the potty!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dentist Day

To psych us up for our first trip to the dentist [and because we'd been stuck inside for 4 days due to weather], we stopped by the aquarium for an hour first to get some energy out. We had the whole place to ourselves! Seriously, both exhibits we visited had a total of 2 other people while we were in them. I only with they'd opened the dolphin exhibit so we could've seen them without insane crowds! As it was, we still got to see neat stuff. They just got two more beluga whales - juveniles that were very rowdy! The sea otters were in top form, and it was fun to crawl through the penguin tunnel with no line. The whale sharks seemed to sense that no one was there, as they were swimming much lower and closer to the glass than we usually see them when we visit. Even the yucky octopus was crawling (slithering?) around because they were feeding him, instead of hiding in the rocks like usual.

After the aquarium, we had to go meet our fate at the dentist. It went relatively well. They were all quite nice, and besides having Joseph scream bloody murder because he was in a stranger's lap getting painful utensils shoved in his mouth by said stranger, it was a relatively pleasant experience. She didn't really have an explanation for the discoloration on his teeth besides the standard "maybe it was the iron supplement", but she did confirm that it's not a cavity situation. So that's good news. She tried to go at them with a couple of instruments to get the stain off, but it wasn't working and poor Joseph was in such a state that I pulled the plug. If it's cosmetic we can fix it when he's at a more reasonable age.

We got a list of "good" snack foods (these docs and their nutrition guidelines, hehe) to prevent decay, our very first reminder to floss his teeth (yeah right) and our first mention of crowding - already setting us up for braces. Given T.J.'s dental history, we'd be lucky to get off with just a bottom row of braces. Beats the heck out of head gear!

At the end they gave him a "prize" which was a small fish toy, coincidentally! Joseph just started using the word fish (ish) in the last few weeks, and obviously said it about a million times at the aquarium, so getting a fish at the dentist was pretty great. Mama got us a prize, too. A milkshake from Chick-Fil-A.

Hey, the dentist said ice cream is good - apparently it just "slides off of the teeth". Sweet!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Little Popsicle

Joseph's been a good sport about the weather. He's generally not a fan of the cold, but we've bundled up and braved the weather a couple of times.

Since Daddy is in Switzerland (life is just so unfair, really) I've been taking a mini-vacation from making dinner. The last two nights we've gone up to some restaurants that are a short walking distance away. Joseph is still enjoying riding in the Ergo, I am glad to report! And I didn't bite it on the ice, which is excellent news when you have a toddler strapped to your chest. And I only felt like I was playing Frogger once while crossing the street.

It looks like things are going to warm up here tomorrow, so we're heading to the dentist for Joseph's first cleaning. Gee, should be a nice way to round out the week!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

FO: TYOKFM Capelet

I saw a sample of this pattern at Stitches South (yarn convention) last year, but at the booth the pattern was only sold along with some matching yarn that was too pricey for my wallet. I did call the store later on - turned out that it was a local yarn shop - and the man gave me the name of the designer.

Queue - my knitting superhero website. It's awesome. If you knit or crochet, you should sign up. I was able to quickly find the pattern and buy it for a mere $5. Then it sat waiting patiently for me for roughly 8 months while I knitted baby stuff. Hehe.

At last, 4 days ago (can you believe it only took me 4 days?!?) I cast on for this project. It's an easy, beautiful, pattern. The yarn I used is soft and super warm. It'll go great over a tank or even a long sleeved shirt to keep me warm at night.

The finished object:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Frugal Gourmet Pasta Sauce

I came across this recipe a year or two ago, but figured that it was out of my price range. I thought San Marzano tomatoes were $5/can, but I guess I was wrong! I saw them at Publix for $2.50 the other day, and I picked up a #10 can of them at Costco last week for $3.59!

So, I'm planning to cook this pasta sauce soon - I scaled it up for my giant can. The link above has a normal size if you need it

San Marzano Pasta Sauce

1 #10 can (6lb, 10oz) of San Marzano tomatoes
2 sticks + 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, peeled and cut in half

Throw it all in a pot and simmer for 45 minutes. That's it. (!)

In total, this makes about 3.5 jars of pasta sauce. It cost me about $5. Not bad! Of course, this is a non-organic sauce made from BPA laden canned tomatoes, so I'm not sure I'll go this route on a regular basis, but I wanted to give the recipe a try since it got such rave reviews. I will update when I have a result!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

FO: TYOKFM Circular Shrug!

My first adult sized garment! I'm pretty excited about it. I made the Circular Shrug mostly because it was a small project, compared to something like a sweater. I'm glad I did, because it seemed to take forever!

I do like how it turned out, though. It took me a few weeks to get through it, but that's not too bad in the grand scheme.

Now to choose my next project...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This [Adorable] Moment, Brought to You By:

Kennywood (& Auntie Mar)
the coolest theme park in the world (or at least in Pittsburgh)

Thirsties Diapers
when you don't want to potty train your toddler
because you have a whole house of carpet,
we're there for you


Giant Plastic Toys
because otherwise adults would be allowed
to have furniture in their dining rooms!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nursing a Toddler

A couple of months ago I was all set to wean Joseph. We were down to nursing only in the morning, and he didn't seem overly interested. I figured if I just woke up with him it'd be all over. Then he started waking at 5:30am, so I aborted that in favor of side-lying nursing (and an extra 45-60min of rest).

It had been on my mind a lot recently, whether to wean or push on. I liked the idea of nursing through flu season (he's getting immunological benefits among others) but was also interested in having my body back. Recently, though, I've felt like we're really needing more connection time. He's definitely entering the "terrible two's", complete with whining, crying, whining, tantrums, whining... did I mention whining? He's also started having night terrors at night (poor baby) and wakes up from naps quite grouchy and out of sorts most days.

After talking to my LLL group today, I decided to initiate more nursing sessions again, instead of weaning. I offered after his nap today, and he was SO happy! He latched on and nursed away. Since it was light out (unlike our morning session), and I was awake and happy (unlike our morning session), we could actually see each others' faces and spend time bonding. He was smiling and giggling, and so was I. It was the most connected I've felt to him in a long time. It's such a special way of bonding that we just don't get other ways right now, as his speech is limited and he spends more and more time away from me doing his own thing.

It made me really happy with the choice to stick it out.

I love how life ebbs and flows, and nursing your baby or toddler can ebb and flow, too. It's such a great tool to have in the parenting tool kit.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On Being a Homemaker

Unfortunately, he is not tall enough to wash windows

Let's be honest - being the home maker is hard sometimes! Wrangling a child, meal planning, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, baking...

Sorry, lost my train of thought as I ran to the kitchen to put the bread in the oven.

Anyway, my point is, there are about a million things a day that go through my head. It's not that any one is so difficult to accomplish, but add everything together and you can get quite a jumble. That's why I love lists so much. And my Google Calendar.

For your cleaning/scheduling enjoyment, I've linked up my home making calendar to the blog. It's on the right side bar. The beauty of my cleaning schedule, if I do say so myself, is that it's ok if you miss a day. The "daily schedule" makes your whole house company (or at least play date) ready, besides perhaps the bathrooms. (You could add a "wipe down the sink and swiffer" to that list to make the entire house 100% every day if that's important for you.) If you miss a day on this schedule, it's no big deal. You can pick it up the next day, week, month, quarter, or year.

Here is the excel version that I worked off to start it out... I didn't add in errands like grocery shopping or activities like cooking, as I don't really need that much scheduling in my life. You could customize something like this to fit your own needs very easily.

Happy home making!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Testing the Nikon 35mm f1.8 AF-S prime lens

I'd rented this lens over the holidays to try it out - I've been fawning over the 50mm f 1.4 AF-S, but it's $400. This one is "only" $200, a pretty good deal in the crazy camera world.

I've been using the lens, but hadn't really tried it out in a meaningful way. So we took it to the zoo yesterday to try and get a few decent shots (decent for me, anyway).

Nice bokeh, and look how it makes the stitches on the hat stand out!
I never even thought about how it could tranform my knitting posts! Ha!
Looking at the birds
Mama = happy. Joseph = cold
Attempting a "real" shot. It's a cool bird, anyway.
For some reason my favorite pics are always of him eating. Sorry about that.

Now, here is something I learned from yesterday. Look at the next two photos. Taken in the same lighting. But I moved. The second one is so much better (the lighting, not the actual photo... sorry Joseph!). Lesson: be aware of your lighting, Jen.

Still, he's so cute when he eats, no?
This one reminds me of a college buddy who always got heavy lidded when drinking. tee hee!
Colder and colder, the hood comes up
Rounding out the day with "elephant activities"
where they bribed her with treats to do circus tricks. :(

T.J. had to do a rousing kangaroo impression (hopping) to keep him awake until we got to the car. Then he took a 3 hour nap. Yey zoo!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ditching shampoo - continued

To answer the few questions I've received regarding this (so happy everyone didn't read and immediately unsubscribe!) here is a quick answer. This is the website [click] where I got most of my info:

Q: What amount do I use?
A: I use 1 tbsp and mix it with 1 cup of warm water before getting in the shower every other day. I stir it up with my hands once I'm in the shower - it dissolves quickly.

Q: How long should I leave it in?
A: I wet my hair thoroughly, then slowly pour the whole cup on my head, rubbing at the scalp really well. Then I let it sit for a couple of minutes. While I'm doing other washing.

Q: What about the vinegar?
A: I have a squirt bottle (the ones you see with ketchup in them at picnics) filled with regular white vinegar. The website I looked at (link above) recommended apple cider vinegar. I'm not sure if it matters, but this is what I have lots of on hand (I use it for cleaning and laundry, too). They said to mix 1 tbsp to 1c water, but I just try to squirt a little out all over my hair and let it sit a minute before rinsing.

Q: Does your hair smell like vinegar?
A: It never has smelled like vinegar once I've rinsed, but even if it did it would dissipate as it dried, just like when you use it in the laundry or for cleaning.

Q: Will the baking soda or vinegar harm my plumbing?
A: On the contrary! A very effective method of cleaning out clogged drains is baking soda and vinegar. If anything, this might help keep your pipes in better working order! Once it's in the water, it's well dissolved. It would not gunk anything up.

I think that's everything... post any other questions in this post or the original and I'll try to answer in the comment section!

Ditching shampoo and conditioner

I've kind of dropped the ball on the environmentally friendly part of this blog. It's something I'd like to pick up more this year. To start us off, I thought I'd tell you about my latest eco experiment...

I've stopped washing my hair with shampoo.

Yes, that's right. You mean you haven't noticed over the last 2 weeks? That's because my hair is still perfectly clean! I've switched to using baking soda and vinegar (is there anything that combo can't do???)

So here's the idea - shampoo and conditioner simultaneously strip all the oils from your scalp (making your body want to produce more) and then coat your hair with gunk and chemicals to replace the oils it stripped away. By using baking soda, you are mildly removing the extra oil from your hair without stripping everything away and forcing your body to produce more oil. The vinegar softens and relaxes your hair, acting as a conditioner.

I started out with using the baking soda/vinegar every other day. I did that for about 2 weeks, and now I'm trying to go every 3rd day between "washes". We'll see how it goes. From what I've read, I might be able to get away with washing once or twice a week. That'll make my showers much faster!

So far I have gotten two compliments on my hair. If you know me, you know that my hair is not often complimented! My hair has always tended to a wavy/frizzy/greasy ball of nastiness, so I've been especially amazed at the improvement.

Before: You can see the fly-aways!

After: sleek and smooth (but not greasy!) without any special effort. It's taking effort to post this awful picture, though. Please note hair only.
Don't get me wrong, I'll never be a pantene model. But if my routine of wash/dry/brush-and-go can improve my look, while lessening my exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, and cost pennies to boot, why not?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Catching Up on Christmas, Part 4

Joy is: A two year old in a Cozy Coupe
Joy is: M&M candy canes (and presents)
Joy is: Eating snacks off the floor
Joy is: Dinner with friends
Joy is: Christmas with your family
Merry Christmas to all!

Catching Up on Christmas, Part 3

I have nothing to say about this cutie... stripey pj's? stripey cap? Do I need cute captions? I think not.

Christmas for one lucky little boy!

Catching Up on Christmas, Part 2

As you know, even if you are a very good child, it never hurts to make Santa cookies to pad things in your favor. After some consultation with Mama and Daddy, he determined that Santa's favorite is chocolate chip (What a coincidence! Same as Daddy!) and got to work.

Measuring with Daddy

Pouring in

Stir, stir, stir

All ready to go

I held Joseph's hand to write the note... he's not so good at letters yet!

"Ooh, cookies!"
"Quality Control... checking for chips"

"Santa won't mind if I take just one"

"Nom nom nom"


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