Thursday, December 31, 2009

7 Months & a New Year


This past month has held so many milestones - as you can see in the New Years Eve photo above, our Barking Baby went from rocking on all fours to being a skilled crawler this month. He started sitting up and crawling the week of Christmas, and J and I's heads are still spinning as we learn the implications of his independent mobility. He has earned his new nickname, Mr. Wiggles, especially on the changing table where he likes to flip onto his stomach mid-diaper change, or in his crib where he pops up to sitting when we lay him down for a nap. While I'm not always sure how to handle that, it's amazing to watch him make decisions and then implement them, like "I want to sit up now and so I will - watch me roll to my tum and then get on all fours and then swing my legs and torso around and now I'm sitting. Oh, do you want to see me do it again? Is that why you put me back on my back? Sure I can do it again! I know how!" And then he smiles, so proud of his accomplishment. And I can't help but smile too.

More milestones this month:
BB was dedicated to the Lord at the Christmas Eve service at our church - so surreal to be the ones actually participating in this VCC tradition that we love. This tradition is a time where J and I commit to teaching BB about God and His Son and his ways and our church prays over us as a family.

And BB had his first Christmas morning.

Which of course means he opened his first Christmas presents! His very first Christmas gift was a Bible from Mommy and Daddy.

And then there were lots of toys from his family:



And this past month he has ravenously consumed peas and sweet potatoes and chicken and rice cereal and apples and pears and blueberries and bananas (his favorite) and gained almost 1 pound, rounding out at 16 lbs, and is 28 3/4 inches long.

And on his 7 month birthday he rang in the New Year:


Happy 7 months BB! and Happy 2010 to all of you from the Barking Baby Mama!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

So, what did I do differently this Christmas holiday? How did I follow through on my statements on my post on Black Friday for a Greener Christmas?

I simplified - We drew names for a gift exchange with J's family rather than buying for everyone (except the kiddos).
I thought sustainable - We got some of our nieces a wooden toy set and some books, rather than plastic toys. And we let it be known to the family that we were a fan of wooden, made-to-last toys for BB. In fact, his Auntie Leigh-Leigh even made him his very own custom wooden block set - such a special gift that he (and his future brothers and sisters) will enjoy for years to come! We are so grateful to have a large-scale artisan in the family!

I reused - This is not new, but I always reuse gift bags and tissue paper and ribbons and bows - I rarely buy gift wrap as it's expensive and I'm fairly cheap - instead I just stockpile and reuse what's given to us. Tissue paper gets all crumpled up on transport (from our house to the giftee's) anyway, so who cares if it's crumpled when it's gets packaged? Not me! Plus, my gifts are a million times prettier now, because I happily use bows and ribbons and other embellishments, knowing that I'm not spending any extra on them. Now that we have BB, I have big plans for him to color on butcher paper (or inside-out paper grocery bags) just like my mom had my brother and I do growing up, for some artistic and memorable wrapping paper.
Another way I reused was with some Trader Joe's paper bags for a Christmas craft! I was admiring the snowflakes, ornaments, and Christmas-y words printed in white on the brown paper bags and I decided to cut them out and see what they could become - I ended up displaying them in some clear glass jars (an alternative to framing) mounted on some red and green scrapbook paper and topped with (reused) ribbon - J and I love our newest holiday decor.

So these were the small steps I took towards a Greener Christmas for our little planet and our little boy this year. Did you do anything differently this holiday?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ho-Ho-Honundrums.....or, the Santa Debate

We knew we were not going to tell BB that Santa Clause was real (What!? Santa's not real?!)
Our thinking is that if we tell BB that Santa is real and then later he realizes that Santa is not real, BB might wonder what else we are pretending about - what about when we say God is real? How will BB know what to believe?
I thought we could just not talk about Santa, have a no-Santa clause, if you will, but turns out Santa is everywhere so that plan won't work. And then I realized that no Santa meant no BB-on-Santa's-lap picture, and it really bothered me to pass on a maybe-milestone, especially one that included a picture. He will never be 6 months old at Christmastime again, and I could never get this photo op back! And I decided that we better just go take a BB-Santa picture, just in case. And then on our just-in-case-BB-Santa picture mall trip, I went into Barnes and Noble and picked up The Night Before Christmas and suddenly felt panicked at the idea of never reading BB this beloved story from my childhood. What about the Santa-filled traditions I had grown up with? Could I share none of them with my own children? When I expressed this realization and sadness to J, he pointed out that we can still tell BB about St. Nicholas, and that that's where the story of Santa comes from, and that Santa is a fun story that people like to pretend at Christmas. And I felt very relieved that I didn't have to completely eradicate my Santeritage (Santa-heritage? HeritClause? Trantadition? Anyone?)
This solution doesn't deal with the materialism and consumerism issues that Santa brings along in his jolly red sack, but I have at least a year to work out the kinks before BB starts asking questions - I'm thinking I can work in the gifts that the magi brought to Jesus somehow :)
So here's the just-in-case Santa's lap photo:
Hope you enjoy the shot of BB sticking out his tongue - that's his latest way of telling us he's happy!
And yes, J and I have pretty much settled that BB will be that kid - you know, the one who makes the other kids cry by announcing "Santa's not real!" I can just see the annoyed parents now...

Casualty


BB's first casualty - the fault of an unsuspecting mom who thought her tiny son just wanted to touch the branches, and then WHACK!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cleaning with a Baby

So if you know me, you probably already know that I try to be environmentally conscious (cut to BFF A calling me because she saw a recycling truck and thought of me). It's true - actually, on a recycling sidenote, when we lived in an apartment for two years that didn't have recycling, every time our recycle bin filled up poor J would drive around looking for a recycle bin that he could dump our cardboard and cans into because it made me sick to my stomach to think of throwing it away. I feel antsy and a little nauseous just thinking about it now. So now you know I'm "green" and also a little crazy. And J is the best husband in the whole world.
Anyway, I liked the idea of cleaning products that were less chemical-ly and had less of an impact on the environment even before BB, but now that he's around shoving everything he sees into his mouth, it's even more important to me. So I thought I would breakdown what I have been using to clean nowadays.
When I thought of switching to green alternatives for cleaning, at first I felt overwhelmed, but then I realized that I didn't have to throw away all of the stuff I already had and start from scratch, all I had to do was integrate one new thing at a time as my current supplies ran out. This made the whole thing much more doable and I am still somewhere in the middle of the process. Also, I found some "recipes" (via www.passionatehomemaking.com) that make greener and cheaper cleaning products - yay for saving money and the environment at the same time!

Here's my cleaning supply round-up:
-A couple years ago I stopped using my Swiffer Wet Jet on our floors in favor of just attaching a rag (cut up old towel) to my Swiffer Sweeper "broom" and using vinegar and water (about 1/2 and 1/2) in a spray bottle on the floor. This is the only way I mop our house full of wood laminate flooring.
-Also a couple of years ago I bought some Shaklee cleaning products that my sister-in-law was peddling. They are supposed to be more natural and reduce waste because some of it comes concentrated. The only things I have left are the spray bottles and a big bottle of super concentrated Basic H cleaner, which is a concentrated super-cleaner. (I would have kept using Shaklee, but it is pricey, and my sister-in-law no longer peddles it). I use this Basic H on any stubborn thing and as "soap" in any of my natural cleaning "recipes". (Basic H appears to be worth the cost, since I still have 2/3 bottle left years later).
-On the mirrors I use a mixture of water and Basic H in a spray bottle - I'm sure vinegar would work just as well.
-One of my favorite switcharoos was to make my own disinfectant wipes. I cut up 2 of J's old T-shirts and soaked them in a mixture of vinegar (I use distilled white), tea tree oil (I buy this at Sprouts, a grocery store), and Basic H. The vinegar and tea tree oil both have natural disinfectant properties (I googled it!) and I use the Basic H in lieu of Castille soap. I keep these in an old plastic ice cream tub with a lid under the sink and keep the dirty ones in another ice cream tub with a lid (leftover from an ice cream sundae party!). When the dirty tub is full, I just throw them in the wash and can reuse them! I use these on counters and in bathrooms and love it. Sometimes I do have to dry the surfaces off a little bit if I have too much solution in the buckets making the cloths too saturated.
-I bought a Method brand wood cleaner (alternative to Pledge) on sale -it smells amazing, but our coffee table does get dustier quicker than it did with the Pledge. I just have to dust a little more often, but at least I know the scent I'm inhaling isn't noxious fumes!
-I have started using baking soda (in a salt shaker so that I can easily dust surfaces with it) to clean the toilet and bathtub - it seems to be working pretty well so far!
-I have two major non-green indulgences (they are disposable). I love Swiffer Sweeper dry cloths for sweeping and dusting - they make these jobs so much quicker and easier. I also have a paper towel addiction. I think it's reasonable to use paper towels on certain things like nasty raw chicken slime on the counter and certain bathroom clean-up, but I instinctively grab them to wipe up a spot on the floor or counter, when I could just as easily use a rag that I can reuse. I am trying to keep some of my t-shirt-rags dry to use for these purposes, which is working well for me. I think the key is to keep them in an accessible area next to the paper towels, like a bowl/jar on the counter.

Right now I still use commercial laundry detergent (All Free-and-Clear for BB) and dishwasher liquid and dishsoap (the mainstream, biodegradable ones). I tried the Trader Joe's brand dishwasher detergent, and it cleaned fine, except now my glasses have horrible spots on them and they never did when we used Cascade. Bummer. I read that you can pour vinegar in the rinse aid part of your dishwasher as a cheap alternative to prevent spotting, but I think that detergent just didn't agree with my glasses. As an alternative to these things there are apparently these things called Soap Nuts that grow on trees that you can make soap out of. (I read about them here). When I told J about these and making soap, he thought I was a little crazy and now anytime I talk about making anything, we joke about making it out of soap nuts.

I love knowing that the products I use are better for the environment and safer for BB - he is rolling, scooting, and wiggling his way all over the living room floor, and I love knowing that there aren't man-made chemicals rubbed all over my laminate, just good old vinegar, which is edible. As is the baking soda, and even tea tree oil is ingestible! And the vinegar and baking soda is cheap too! So that's my round-up! What do you think? Do you have any great "recipes" for cleaning?


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chicken

If you're interested in seeing the chicken in live action, here you go!
video

Sunday, December 6, 2009

He's just a little guy

At his 6-Month checkup, BB weighed in at only 15 lbs 1 oz, putting him in the 10% percentile, while he is still in the 90% percentile for length at 28 1/4 inches. This combo makes for one very long and skinny baby! He has always been less plump than some of his "colleagues" but he has never looked unhealthily so. J's mom said that J was very similar with his growth, tending to grow longer rather than wider. Still, when I spied a picture of his cousin K at the same age on his auntie's fridge the other day, I was shocked at the lack of chunk on BB.
We had started him on rice cereal right around 5 months, but since the doctor had recommended waiting until 6 months, we only fed him rice cereal inconsistently. So now we are feeding him solids twice a day trying to beef him up and we'll follow up in 4 weeks. Speaking of beefing up, the doctor actually said that nowadays they are thinking meat is a great first food for babies, as it contains higher levels of iron and zinc which breast milk has less of around 6 months, and that the zinc plays a role in skin integrity, so more zinc may help with his eczema! Unfortunately, BB did not think meat was such a great first food:

He was very upset when we put the chicken in his mouth - he had been happily enjoying his peas, leaning his head forward to take bites, and when I put the chicken in his mouth, he made this expression I had never seen before - he looked upset and a little betrayed.
But he has been a big fan of rice cereal from the start:

And peas are pretty yummy too.

I am looking forward to making baby food, and I did make the chicken myself, but the peas and sweet potatoes are from jars, as we just wanted to get him started as quickly as possible due to the low weight. I am paging through Super Baby Food at this point - any other great baby-food-making resources out there?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy 6 Month Birthday BB

Today is BB's 6 month birthday (observed).

Half a year? Really?

In half a year, he has gone from burrowing on the right side of my uterus to a wiggly, smiley, cuddly, teething, laughing sometimes-bottom-naked-if-he-has-a-diaper-rash little boy who looks like his Daddy and smiles like his Mommy.

In half of a year, we have become a whole family.

Happy 6 Months.