Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Zane Carter Giusti

Welcome to this crazy family, little one.
Arrived April 26, 2010


7lbs 11oz

21 inches
He's as sweet as he looks.
More photos of this little fella to come...

Sunday, April 25, 2010


No, Noah is not twenty-six months old. And this post won't be about him, sorry. Now that I've broken your hearts, maybe I will throw in a picture of him at the end if you behave.
Twenty-six years ago today the world got a little more crazy.
Fashionably (almost) late.


Zanier. (Speaking of Zane...come on down! You are the next contestant on The Birth Is Right (now!)...)
The world got me... and it has survived thus far.
But I think the celebration of birthdays is focused on the wrong person...

In light of recently giving birth, I have been enlightened: I believe the celebrant should be the birthday boy/girl's mother. Childbirth is not easy, lovely, pain-free, or beautiful. That's right. I said it. The mother and child are all of these things, not to mention amazing, but a picture of the process itself is not the sort of thing I would frame and hang on my wall. In fact, you will find no pictures of Noah's L&D framed and hanging in our living room.

Anyway. I am straying from the point. Mama, today I celebrate you and thank you for the
hours (I'm sure that seemed like eons) of labor pains. The years of tired pains. The eight or so years of teenage pains. The decades of growing pains. And most of all, continuing to love me when I am a pain. (In your neck, your butt, your head...I'm sure I've hit them all.)
Though the world became undoubtedly a brighter place when I entered it, I wouldn't be here if not for my mother (and dad helped, too).
Thanks, mom.
Here's to you:
As promised, since you behaved:
His shirt says "future best buddies"...with a picture of broccoli & a cookie holding hands.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Feed and Water Three Times Daily

My boy likes to eat. He enjoys his food a lot...in large amounts at times.
And baby food is expensive. Especially when you take into consideration that you have to feed and water children at least three times daily, usually more.
And like our doctor randomly, unsolicited-ly soap-boxed: "You are paying (insert baby food company here) to water it down for you. By the time the baby eats it he's consumed more water than fruit or veggie. So you pay them to cut down on the nutrients and it doesn't even taste that great."
Thanks, doc.
So we make our own most of the time. It's super fun, super easy, and Noah hasn't complained about my cooking yet! For the most part it goes like this: peel. heat. mash. freeze. Not all things freeze, but most will and it keeps for three months. We freeze them in OXO ice trays with lids that are perfect...four cubes is one meal for little dude right now. I usually make a big batch that will last us a few weeks but I plan to go nuts this summer and make a whole bunch of yummy goodness that I score from the Farmers' Market.

Anyway. So far we've made butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, blueberries, parsnip, broccoli, and a combination of several of these together. He likes them all, so I keep making them and trying new things. It's very rewarding I tell you...to know that he is eating my cooking, that he likes my cooking, that he will hopefully have a diverse pallet, and to know exactly what it is that he's ingesting. And I don't have to study any labels on jars...which would probably take more time to dissect what each thing is, means, and does than to just mash up a mango.
Now, I am not opposed to food in the jar, please don't hear that. We use it when we are on the go or need a quick fix (read: Noah is flipping his wig with hunger and there ain't no time for mashing or microwaving). I choose this simply because I enjoy it. And I think Noah does, too. It's one more thing that I can do for him and hopefully one day do with him, as in cooking and making yummy creations like this:
Hummus pizza with kiwi & corn
So cute, right?
But for now I have to be creative on my own, in the midst of peeling, heating, and mashing:
Did you know butternut squash looks and smells like a pumpkin on the inside?
Next on the menu: homemade finger cookies for the little teether.
Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Toy Box

It's hard to believe that my six month old is crawling all over God's green earth.
Climbing on everything - legs, chairs, couches, benches, crib - everything.
As soon as you set him down he is off, chasing after whatever suits his fancy at that moment.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself.
I am revisiting the preconceived notion that I would have more freedom - to clean, wash dishes, sew, read, blog etc. - once he was mobile. Boy, was I wrong...You can't even look away for a split second before he's all the way across the room, getting into something bright and shiny:

I love his spirit of adventure, independence, and discovery. He needs us less and less... and I suppose that will always be the case. I mean, that's what we want for our children eventually, right? Those are wonderful qualities to have, and necessary to be successful...or at least to live a fulfilling life.
I don't want him to live with us when he's forty-two.
But he's not even two yet. And I am pretty sure we still want him to live with us when he's two.
Maybe not two, I hear those are terrible.
But then we'll move on to three after 365 days of two.
I am getting ahead of myself.
Let's just work on making it to one first.
Slow down, kid, your mama and daddy want to savor every last minute of you... and your yummy wrinkly baby feet.
Love those baby feet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Humor Me

I get sucked in easily, so shoot me.
Up here in the land of Tennessee we shop at Kroger, it's the best we've got.
(Yeah, yeah, shush it all you Publix shoppers.)
They have a contest going right now for reusable shopping bag designs...the winning designs win $1,000.
Here is my first design:

If you like it and think it's cute go here to vote for it.
And it has Noah on it.
You better think it's cute.
If you vote and my design wins, I will buy you a bag.

Help a sister out.
I could do a thing or two with a thousand bucks.

Look What He Found

His thumb.

Exhibit A:
Exhibit B:
Much to his Papa Bo's chagrin.
"You can take a paci away, you can't take his thumbs away."
Oh well.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate

Let me start with that.
We've not really had a strong opinion one way or the other regarding vaccinations for Noah. I figure that it is the responsible choice to provide him the healthiest path we can choose for him while he can't make his own decisions. We figure we will do all the mainstream ones - measles, mumps, rubella, pneumonia, hepatitis B, etc. - and discuss as it occurs whether we will do the new/optional ones - rotavirus, chicken pox, flu, etc.
I should also say that the Peds group that we go to requires the traditional shots or they will not treat your child. We really like/trust them as they are the largest and most accessible practice in Knoxville, and they didn't get that way because they are terrible doctors & nurses. But to that I also say that just because all the other cool parents are doing it does not mean that it is for us and our child. I am sure we will make many different choices for Noah than a lot of mainstream folks choose...not because we're better, just because we are different.

Which brings me to my recent frustration.

 We opted to have Noah take the Rotarix vaccine which prevents the rotavirus - vomiting, diarrhea, severe dehydration -  in children. We did this in part because my niece, AL, was very sick with it when she was a baby and had to be hospitalized due to dehydration. Scary, right? And protectively, we didn't want this for the baby boy.
We went in for Noah's six month well visit and for his next round of immunizations and lo and behold, they tell us that Rotarix (which he already completed at four months) has been pulled off the market by the FDA for further research.

Now, I try not to overreact, they pull things on and off the market all the time...and I would much rather they research it more than just turn a blind eye. So I did a little research of my own...Seems as though there are portions of  a pig virus, PCV1, present in the vaccine that the company doesn't know how it got in there. Supposedly PCV1 is non-threatening to humans, but PCV2 can be. They have only found PCV1, but the troubling part is they don't know how it got in there.
And this isn't the first time that a rotavirus vaccine has been pulled... in 1999 the CDC pulled RotaShield off the market because it was linked to some sort of fatal infection.

As a parent, what the heck do you do about that? It's not like Noah can untake the vaccine. Chances are it is harmless and nothing will come of it, but the fact that he has something inside of him that even has the potential to be harmful makes my skin crawl. I can assure you that we will research and think twice before we go vaccinating him with anything anymore, regardless of what the AAP recommends. (Sorry, Erika, I know you will strongly disagree, and that's okay.)
I hate to think like that because I consider myself a pretty level-headed and practical person, but it's just not safe to sign the dotted line until you know all the details.
Not when my baby is involved.

The lesson here?
Be informed. Know what you are signing up for. Consider your options. Weigh the pros and cons and decide what suits you and your family best. Try not to overreact when things don't go as planned. Prepare yourself when it goes awry. Because most likely, it will happen at least once.
You may just have to go against the grain. If you are educated on the matter and feel strongly about it, do it. It's your life, your children, your choice.

Side-note: If it were up to me we would live deep in the woods using natural and homeopathic remedies, eat non-processed foods, and live off the land. Oh, to be one with nature and our Creator...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are You Ready For This...

I'm not.
At all.
But he's still cute...living up to the meaning of his name, "peaceful wanderer".

Amazing. He even managed to keep his paci in his mouth.
Good work, Nuk.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

(Lime) Green Living

Thoughts on raising a (lime) green family:
Let me start by saying I despise the phrase "going green" or any of its variations. I think it is silly. Silly to say and silly to think we are doing the world a favor that no one ever thought to do before. People lived quite green for thousands of years, this is not a new concept. I think the concept of loving our earth that God handcrafted just for us and taking care of our families in a healthy and practical manner is being reinvented. And that, I think, is beautiful.
Simple and beautiful.
Simply beautiful.

I like to look at it as a challenge...and I think as a family we are doing pretty good so far. After giving it some thought I realize that a lot of what we do is done without really thinking about it. Some choices we've made are lifestyle choices, but I don't feel like we've had to make ridiculous sacrifices. I hope to continue on this path and plan to teach Noah how special it is to take care of what is given to us so that even his children will be able to reap the beauty of our naturalness. Believe me, we could do much more to reduce our footprint, and I plan to try new things, but for now, this is how it shakes down:

1. Recycling. Paper. Plastic. Glass. Cardboard. Aluminum. It's just a matter of dispersing your trash a little more intentionally & creatively. And I am sure the folks at the Recycling Center appreciate the washing-out and sorting. (Have you ever been to a Recycling Center? Bless their hearts...Guh-ross.) And did you know that aluminum is found in only ONE place in the world? Yep. All of the coke cans and foil and such are made from alumina found only in Australia, and there is not an unlimited supply. Crazy.

2. Hand-me-downs. Like them. Love them. Can't live without them. I am glad my sisters and cousins and even family friends we've never met have good taste in clothes because Noah sure does look cute. I would say 75% of Noah's outfits are clothes-once-loved passed onto us and I am so very thankful...one because we don't need to buy as much to keep our baby clothed (which means money saved), and two because it helps keep the demand for NEW clothes down...which means less materials used/wasted, less gas emissions from transportation, less clear cutting of land to build "big box" stores, etc. Yes, I realize that we are only one family, but there are other "only one" families out there. It all adds up. I mean, as fast as kids grow and how often an outfit gets worn, most of the time you can hardly tell it isn't new. I love the fact that other little people that I love have broken the hand-mes in for Bubs, makes them even more special.

3. We are a ONE car family. And have been for a while now. I realize that this is not ideal for most families, however, our situation of living where we work has allowed us to eliminate the need and use of a second vehicle. We've been doing this for almost two years now, so it can be done. And really, there is rarely a time when both of us need to be in different places away from home at the same time. The only time when it gets tricky is if one of us is out of town without the other, which isn't often. Even then, Chris has the use of camp vehicles for travel if need be.

4. Gardening. Though I do not claim to have a green thumb just yet, we have started our garden this year! We have mostly done container plants (peppers - sweet, banana, bell, tomatoes - grape, cherry, Mr. Stripey, herbs - rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, dill, sage, cilantro, basil, flowers - impatiens, dianthus, marigolds, petunias, hyacinths, begonias) and a few things in the ground like onions, tomatoes, and flowers of the same variety as in the pots, and wildflowers. It already looks beautiful and I am so excited to see how they grow and how it will taste! My mom and dad were HUGE in helping us get this project going, even after being sick half the week! I can't thank them enough...and mama has been calling to check to make sure my thumb isn't turning black. So far so good!

One of our tomato plants surrounded by flowers.

Mom with onions - Me with marigolds, dianthus, & begonias.

I made homemade pizza when they were here with us with amazingly fresh and yummy toppings- pesto, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, mozzarella - all on homemade dough (special thanks to my buddy, P-Dub). Toppings sound familiar?

 The masterpiece. Master Piece - maybe a good name for future pizza joint?
Enjoying our candlelit dinner on the porch.

As we were enjoying our dinner out on the porch amidst our container garden, I made the comment that the next time my parents come up we can make the exact same pizza using the ingredients from our garden - great idea!...to which Chris smilingly remarks, "You have a flour plant out there?". I have a name for people like him.

5. Cloth diapers. Can I get an amen? This segment may get a little preachy, just a forewarning. Oh, cloth diapering, how I love thee. Let me count thy ways:
  • It's better for your wallet...cheaper, way the heck cheaper. On average, if your child is potty trained on his/her second birthday (meaning out of diapers entirely, which is on the earlier end of potty training), you can save $1400-$2000, depending on how dedicated you are and what system you choose. Yep. It's a bigger investment right at the start, but so very worth it. We us Chinese or Indian pre-folds with a Snappi and either a Thirsties, Bummis, or Buzzie Bees cover. Simple as pie. We do cloth butt wipes and homemade butt wipe solution, too...it's easier to throw them in the wash with the diaps than to separate them out.You know what I don't hear every time I wash a diaper and use it the next day? Cha-ching. And for people who say it costs money to wash them and that all adds up? It's $1.25/load that I wash two or three times a week. I can handle $3.75/week for diaper duty.
  • It's better for the environment. Let me get out my soap box real quick. Ahem: In ideal conditions (good air circulation, light exposure) it takes 500 years for ONE disposable diaper to break down completely in the landfill...and I am not sure our landfills are bubbling over with ideal-ity. Yuck. On average one baby can generate between one and two tons of garbage of just single-use diapers, making a US total average enough diapers to fill the Super Dome in New Orleans three times a mile high EACH year. By using cloth diapers, you'll help to save some of the 3.4 billion gallons of oil consumed and the 40 million trees felled each year just to make throwaway diapers.
  • It's better for baby. There’s nothing like the feel of a soft, clean cloth diaper against your baby’s skin! Cloth diapered babies have their hineys freshened more often than disposable babies (that doesn't sound right)  – and that’s healthy. With cloth diapers there tends to be more air circulation, and less build-up of temperature, which means less of a chance of diaper rash. Noah is six months old and has yet to develop any sort of booty boo-boos. They smell better, too. He wears a disposable at night for the sole purpose of absorbency over the twelve hours he's sleeping, and I can smell a difference for sure. When he's wet in the morning I can smell the pee and the chemicals from the diaper. Cloth diapers are dioxin free - highly toxic dioxin is used in the paper bleaching process of disposables. Sometimes we can't get him out of his disposable fast enough.  
  • And they are super cute:

Alright, I've talked until I am green in the face.
Thanks for sticking it out to the end. I realize most of you probably are more interested in the photos than my thoughts, but my hope is that someone is inspired and will make a change in their life. I know the joy that it brings to me and my family, I wish only the same for others who are attempting to nurture our precious earth. I can only imagine the joy it must give God to see his most intricate creation take care of his greatest.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Six (Already?)

Recap: I decided a couple of months ago that I would write and share new, fun, sweet things our baby boy is doing on each of his monthly birthdays, the number of months deciding the number of things I would share. I have been somewhat anxious and emotional for the past two weeks milling over his six month post...overwhelmed with a bucket full of thoughts. This may take some time and editing...between the emotional breakdowns.

I can't believe he is half a year old. In the same amount of time since he was born, he will be a year old.
Crap. That's so fast.
Too fast.
Yet, he's so fun and learning new things every single day that I can hardly stand it.

I am torn. I want him to stay little and cuddle-able but I am excited to help him learn to walk and talk and have a decipherable conversation with me. (Well, he already promised that he would cuddle with his mama until he's 17, so I have a few more years to get used to the idea of his independence.) It's tough to grasp how we got here so fast.

New mamas and papas are warned about the sleepless nights and hours of crying, diaper rashes and mounds of laundry, spit up and poop explosions, do-this-so-they-are-the-smartest-kid-ever-but-not-this-or-they-might-be-different (heaven forbid)-from-other-kids, buy-this-so-your-house-would-bounce-if-dropped-from-outerspace, and so on. Sure, we can definitely say we've experienced some of that to a small - very small - degree. Not that I am comparing, but if there was some sort of "rate your baby" scale, ours would definitely be at the top (of course, all parents say that). I am not referring to how cute or precious he is, all babies win that award in my opinion, this is more about how easily manageable he has been and continues to be. I can honestly say that I have never heard him cry for more than 10 minutes, and that's usually only when he's so tired he can't fall asleep. At the beginning our nights were somewhat sleepless just because he needed to eat...but once he ate, he would go right back down, no fuss about it. He really is a good baby, like, he is good at being a good baby.

We should stop while we're ahead. Why mess with perfection, right?

I am beginning to understand the whole "your baby is like a sponge" metaphor in a way that I never have known before. It's not just limited to when you drop a four-letter-word (you know the ones), he is quite curious about most things we say and do. And with that in mind, our six month list (everyone, pray I will get through it in one sitting):

1. He has this hilarious fake cough. It's like he knows that his voice can do all sorts of things and he's just trying it all out, and for some reason the cough is his favorite. So funny. And it seems he really enjoys communicating with his PapaBo like this.

They don't really like each other much.

2. I love to see him wrap his chubby little hands around objects that are too big for him to hold. It's like a whole new world of discovery for him, like he's saying, "Look at what I can hold, mama."

Chubby fingers playing on the floor at GiuGiu's house...where he learned to scoot backwards!

3. Well, somehow the day he was born we started calling him 'Bubba'...no rhyme or reason, it just happened. Poor kid isn't going to know his name when he goes off to preschool. So, naturally, the first sound that he is experimenting with.."buh buh buh buh buh"...often times sounding more like a motorboat. Cute, nonetheless.

This is his "buh buh buh" face...cute as the rest.

4. It's time to baby-proof the house, Scootie McScooterpants is taking off! But I already shared that, so this one doesn't count for my six.

"What did you say, GiuGiu?"

4(again). We can finally learn what this kids feet and knees look like! It is "shorts weather" here in East Tennessee and we are taking FULL advantage of it. We've been out in the yard every day this past week and plan to be out much more. Noah likes to see all the new shapes and colors that he can't see confined in the four walls of our house. Goodbye winter... see you next year!
Look, his knees and his feet!

 5. Noah hasn't really cared one way or the other about his paci...he still mostly doesn't. We usually put him down at night with it, but of course it falls out once he's asleep. So when he wakes up in the morning he looks for it, "swimming" laps from one end of the crib to the other. Once he finally finds it, sometimes it ends up not-so-right-side-up, like this:

 Uh oh...wrong way.
It doesn't seem to bother him.
Also, as a parent note, we started him with four pacis, two of two different types. And proudly, we have kept up with all four of them. ALL of them...if you know us, you should be proud, too, this is quite the feat. But, sadly, as part of growing up, bigger boys need bigger things so we had to give him two new ones for his little mouth. Check back in six months to see if we still have them, a red and a white.

6. And finally, to melt your heart... Noah has started laying his head on my shoulder when he's sleepy. He has been all about wanting to be in his own bed when he's the least bit tired, but the past few days he has pulled himself close by grabbing my shirt and lays his head down on my shoulder. Today he fell asleep on my hip while I was walking around the yard watching my mama dig a new flower bed. So sweet. I hope he still does that when he's twelve.
Ok, maybe not twelve.
Eleven and a half.

And not to give the impression that mamahood doesn't have it's not-so-cute moments, here are a couple of things that I could live without, that I'm sure I will eventually miss...maybe:

1. He bites. He still breastfeeds. You do the math.

Let the sun shine...let the sun shine in...

 2. You can't really blame him because he didn't stand much of a chance, but the kid doesn't have the best patience. He wants food and he wants it NOW. He wants the (insert bright shiny object here) and he wants it NOW.

This is his growling face...still cute.

We will be working on this.
And before I get off my emotional rollercoaster for the day, a few family photos:

And now:

Whew. I'm spent.
Happy six month birthday, bubba.
Please slow down just a hair.