Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recycling Tips

I can be a bit of a recycling Nazi and came across an article the other day with some creative recycling tips for things that many of us have around the house. For those of you with school-aged children, some of these would be great to get the school involved in to help donate to charity and raise awareness about recycling.
  • Backpacks: Donate them to www.americanbirding.com. The American Birding Association uses them while tracking neo-tropical birds.
  • Cell Phones: www.calltoprotect.org or www.recyclewirelessphones.com. The Wireless Foundation refurbishes phones for domestic violence survivors
  • CFL's: check Home Depot
  • Computers: www.mygreenelectronics.com, www.cristina.org, www.sharetechnology.org, www.nextsteprecycling.org
  • Crayons: www.crazycrayons.com. Crayons are melted down and used to make new ones.
  • Crocs: The company that makes crocs recycles and donates to underprivileged families. Send to: Crocs Recycling West
3375 Enterprise Ave.
Bloomington, CA 92316
  • DVD's, CD's, Jewel cases: Swap them at www.zunafish.com or recycle at www.greendisk.com
  • Eyeglasses: www.neweyesfortheneedy.com or drop them off at Target Optical or LensCrafters and they send them to www.givethegiftofsight.org.
  • Formalwear: www.operationfairydust.org, catherinescloset.org
  • Gadgets: mp3, PDA's, etc.--www.recycleforbreastcancer.org. They send you a pre-paid label, then recycle what you send them and donate proceeds to breast cancer charities.
  • Glue: www.elmersgluecrew.com
  • Hangers: call your local dry cleaner or laundromat about wire hangers, donate plastic hangers to local thrift stores.
  • Hearing Aids: www.sotheoworldmayhear.org. Go to www.donateglasses.net/hearingaids for a collection center near you.
  • Holiday Cards: www.stjudesranch.org. Abused and neglected youth cut off the front, re-attach them to new backing and sell. Much better than just recycling!!
  • Juice Bags: www.terracyle.net/brigades. TerraCycle turns them into purses, totes and pencil cases (sold at Target and Walgreens) and donates 2 cents for each Honest Kids, Capri Sun, or Kool-Aid drink pouch, 1 cent for any other brand. Shipping is free and they send the money to a charity of your choice.
  • iPods: take old iPod into Apple store and you get 10% off that day.
  • Footwear: www.soles4souls.org

It Ain't Easy Being Green

One book I've read deserved a post in itself. I finished Gorgeously Green months ago, which I would recommend to anyone looking to go "green". However, after months of trying to do this we've discovered that it's not particularly easy and more importantly isn't cheap! So, we've experimented here and there and do what we can to help the environment and ourselves.
Here are a couple of things I've discovered over the last few months:
Things that suck:
  • Diswasher detergent by Seventh Generation. Really sucks. I will give one more brand a try, but if it's not any better I'm giving up on it.
  • "Green" toothpaste. We've tried two brands...Tom's of Maine, and one that was even worse and whose name escapes me right now. If you're going to do it, paste works better than gel. Our dentist said people who use them require more scraping at each visit too!!
  • "Green" deodorant. I've only tried Tom's of Maine, and it was during the hot and humid TN summer, but come on. I may as well have just put lotion on my armpits.
  • All of the organic shampoos and conditioners we've tried sucked. Of course, we didn't buy any of the super expensive stuff. I'm afraid of spending the money and hating it.
Things we love:
  • G diapers are wonderful. They are a cloth diapers with inserts that are flushable (but really expensive)!! Or, you can toss them and the are 100% biodegradable. We haven't been vigilant about using these, however. Poopy diapers can get messy with these and now that Waylon isn't as predictable in his pooping we've stopped using them. Lazy, yes, but it makes mommy happier this way and that's always a good thing.
  • Nature babycare diapers are wonderful and biodegradable!! I love, love, love them. They are difficult to find, however (at least in our neck of the woods). I found them at Target in Florida, but they aren't available here yet. Diapers.com has them too. The greatest thing about them is that they are reasonably priced....about as much as Huggies. I'm not willing to shell out the money for Huggies, but it's worth it for biodegradable diapers!
  • Seventh Generation Chlorine-free baby wipes More pricey, yes, but not too much more.
  • Dr. Hauschka skincare products are amazing. Very pricey, but for someone with extremely sensitive skin like mine it's worth every penny.
  • Making your own kitchen cleaner is easy, really cheap, and works great. It's nice to know we're using a product that safe for Waylon to be around.
There are a lot more things both good and bad that we've tried, but it's late and I don't feel like racking my brain to think of any more. I'll update in the future when I think of any. I would love to hear about any "green" products or tips from you guys too!!

Book Update

When we were back in Iowa Jaime asked me to write about any books I've been reading. In my last update I was tackling some very thought provoking books (The Road Less Traveled and A New Earth). They are both incredible books, but require just that...deep thought. After a long day of work and taking care of Waylon I don't always have it in me. So, I have tossed them aside for the time being and enjoyed some fun page-turners.
Chelsea Handler's (Chelsea Lately and Girls Behaving Badly) humor is not for everyone, but I for one find her hilarious. I highly recommend Are You There Vodka, It's Me, Chelsea and My Horizontal Life. You can infer from the title what the second book is about. She definitely holds nothing back! They made me chuckle out loud.

Another favorite author of mine is David Sedaris and I would recommend anything he's written. Again, his humor is not for everyone. I just finished When You Are Engulfed In Flames, which did not disappoint. Just like Chelsea Handler's books, it is full of short personal stories that made me laugh out loud.

I'm now reading The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson. Here's the synopsis written on the back of the book "Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Erik Larson's spell-binding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men--the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, striving to secure America's place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death." The book can be a little slow at times, but it is fascinating. I knew nothing about the 1893 World's Fair, and most certainly had never heard about this serial killer.

Somewhere along the way I read the autobiography of George Jones that Cole picked up on one of his many trips to Nashville for work. Definitely some surprising things in the book, but it's probably not anything anyone reading this blog would care to check out. Just weirdos like Cole and me.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Ass-kicking Bedamned... It Was a Football Saturday


Tennessee football might be in the crapper, but it didn't keep Waylon from listening to his first Vol Network broadcast.  Well, actually, most of his "listening" involved donning of headphones that were not plugged into the radio... or anything else.  But hey, he's getting the basic idea.

We're gonna give it another try with the Titans today, since they are the only team of ours that looks halfway respectable.  By the way, Waylon slept through the Iowa game.  If the Ohio State game is any indication, Iowa might be able to compete for the Big Ten title this year.  At least that is Waylon's take on things.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

Summer Time Fun!

It's been a hot and humid summer, but full of exciting new experiences. Here are some snapshots of the season:
Waylon's "Naked Phase"....still think he's in this, though..

Fun on the boat (Waylon and Daddy, Waylon and Nonna, Waylon and Uncle Tim)

The Zoo! (Waylon, Waylon and his cousin Charlie checking out the Gorilla)

Waylon gets an attitude, and it looks like it's here to stay. If you'll notice, Cole's fly is open in this pic, which isn't surprising since that's the case about 75% of the time! You'd think that by the time a man hits 30 he'd remember to zip up his pants, but not my man!! He's all mine, ladies!

An artist is born!

Waylon learns to "goff"

And, finally, now that the weather is cooling off at night it's time for walks with Daddy.

Hope you all had a great summer too!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This Ain't the Iowa Conference

Not that I have a real interest or anything, but I do think this is cool.  Today in the Buffalo Bills' 20-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, running back Fred Jackson rushed for 17 yards and had 7 catches for 83 yards.  This wouldn't be noteworthy, except that he went to Coe College, my alma mater, a D-III school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  I haven't checked, but that has to be one if the more successful days on a record for a D-III player in the NFL.


I can't believe I am writing about this, but... at the Stinsons', we are big fans of the Backyardigans.  The latest episode we have on demand through our crappy cable provider, Charter, is called "Newsflash!."  To our surprise, it has a decidedly Iowa flavor.  One "reviewer" describes it pretty well:

Tasha, Uniqua and Austin work for W-I-O-WA News (The "Corniest Station in the Nation"), which is a news station that usually ends up reporting on corn. Tyrone and Pablo are corn farmers who are so happy with their crop, that they keep sending in reports just to get on the air, but unfortunately it isn't considered newsworthy. They decide to make up some stories about aliens visiting their cornfields so that the news team will come out to investigate further and put their corn crops on their air.

Is it just me, or can you just not help singing these songs over and over again?!?!

Speaking of Iowa, glad the Hawks beat Iowa State!

Update: OK, this is scary.  I am not the only one who thinks this episode of the Backyardigans is blogworthy.  Iowa Geek has a whole post on it with links to Amazon.com, where you can purchase the music.  Actually, while you're over there, take a look around their blog.  It's pretty interesting, and they are fellow Dave Ramseyans.  (Is it possible I just coined that word?)

Last thing: Speaking of blogs and Iowa and what not, Suni and I love Flying Kites, the blog of Jenni Benesh's sister, Kim.  I have added it to our blog roll.  Suni and I are not the most creative people in the world, and we have really gotten some good parenting/family ideas from blogs like Flying Kites and similar blogs.

I have never even met Kim or her family, but I haven't missed a post in a long time.  The fact that I can be entertained by reading about the lives of people I don't know is a testament to those folks' creativity and writing ability.  I regularly read a blog to which Kim links and which has garnered a lot of attention,  The Pioneer Woman.  It is very nice to be able to keep up with those we do know and learn from those we don't.  Speaking of which, another blogger I don't know, Iowa Geek's wife, has a great blog about traveling with kids.  As we come across blogs we like, we will add them to the roll. 

Iowa Trip 2008

DSCF1029 This is pretty much snapshot of Nirvana! After vacationing in the tourism hotspot that is the state of Iowa, Team Stinson is settled back in to work-a-day life in East Tennessee.

Our trip to Iowa this year was one of the better ones we have had! We got to do a bunch of stuff without ever really feeling like we were trying to squeeze in too much. After a long day of trial in Lewisburg, Tennessee, on Friday, August 1, we got on the road very late, only to be met with Nashville rush hour traffic.

Because I was playing in a golf tournament in Center Point on Saturday at noon, I was trying to push through and get to Iowa without having to stay somewhere overnight along the way. That hope was dashed as I watch the clock in the courtroom turn around and around. This realization was made worse knowing that Suni was having to entertain Waylon all day. We ended up having to stay in a disgusting hotel north of St. Louis due to the fact that Waylon began screaming at some point after we turned off the interstate and headed through Missouri. (We decided that we would never drive to Iowa again, but we’ll forget by next year just how hellish the car travel can be).

We made it to Center Point with half an hour to spare the next morning, arriving at Rolling Acres with the 53rd rendition of the Backyardigans’ Fly Girl episode blaring on the DVD player. Suni and Waylon were off to see Grandma, and I hit the course with Tim, Seth Rosendahl, and Tim’s neighbor. Seth also appeared now and again, his fleeting presence always foreshadowing some strange occurrence [see next sentence]. After a lousy, but always fun, round of golf, replete with the thuds of entire golf bags hitting the ground and beer cans with mysterious holes in them, it was party time at the Whiteheads. Great stuff, as everyone had their kids there, and it was good to see everyone.

We stayed with Suni’s mom while we were back. Waylon loved the puppies and his first taste of Iowa corn [below, right]. We went to the Iowa State Fair, which is pretty much heaven on earth. Check out the picture below on the right – “Pork Chop on a Stick.” Need I say more? Waylon was a big fan of the turkey leg; I liked the deep fried candy bar. I hope that we make going to the fair a family tradition. It’s just a great atmosphere.

pork chop on stick DSCF1005

After the fair, we went to visit Nichole, one of Suni’s college friends just north of Des Moines. Her husband, Jay, cooked a great dinner. As you can see, Waylon loved playing with their two little girls. Grace took Waylon down the slide over and over and was just really good with him. I think Waylon got quite an education! All in all, it was a great day! Jonnie’s boyfriend, Dan, and I played golf the following morning at The Legacy, a very nice course in Des Moines.

We got back to Cedar Rapids in time the next day for me to hang out with the Whiteheads and, later, Brandon and Monica Hahn. (Mama crashed early). Our evening started off at the Hacienda, that great bastion of Mexican cuisine and a Cedar Rapids landmark. (Thanks for dinner and drinks, Tim and Jaime!) Then it was back to Center Point (or just “the Point,” in certain circles). We had fun hanging out, and I thought called a taxi to take me back to CR, but oddly enough, the driver that showed up to get me looked a lot like Jaime Whitehead. It was a very kind thing to do.

Another great day was spent up at Tim and Sandy Ford’s place up in Delhi, Iowa, on the Maquoketa River. It is always so much fun up there, and this year was no different. Waylon is doing much better with his life jacket now that it fits him a bit better. Here is Waylon with his Grandma on the boat.

boat w grandma driving with tom

The only sad part of the trip was seeing the utter devastation in the wake of the flooding from back in June. Words are simply inadequate to describe how bad the damage truly is. I could not bring myself to snap any photos at all, but there is ample supply on the web.

I will probably post some more pictures in the next few days, or hopefully Suni will. Thank you so much, everyone who made our trip back to Iowa the highlight of our year again!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our Baby Has a Penis!!!

Otherwise known as "It's a boy!"

The ultrasound was music to my ears, or whatever. There is no mistaking the sex of this baby. We will try to put a still of the ultrasound DVD on here when I get back home from Memphis. I am very happy that Waylon will have a little brother. I am sure that is what my mom thought back in 1979, when she found out she was having another boy. Waylon and Horace will be almost exactly the same age difference as Aaron and I are. If the two of us are any indication, it will be an interesting journey.

In other news, Waylon recently took to repeating "Shup!" in a very loud voice. We had no idea what on earth he was saying. We do now. Suni was quite distraught when she dropped Waylon off at daycare on Monday and heard Samantha*, the problem child in the class saying "Shut up!" in a demon-like voice as she lashed out at someone with her hand. Needless to say, Suni made the connection. I am very proud of Suni, as she told the daycare manager that if we saw Waylon around this girl again, we would change daycares. Now, lest you think that is an overreaction, there is much more history that makes that a very sensible threat. This girl has been physically abusive repeatedly to Waylon and other kids and the daycare has kicked her brother and her out of daycare at least twice only to re-admit them somehow. This girl's 3-year old brother is known to call his teacher a "f#$%er," and use it in context. Who are these freakin' people?

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent child of the idiots who are raising her.