The AndyZ Update


This kid CRACKS ME UP, people. And have I told you he has a tooth now? He does! A tooth! Next thing you know he’ll be asking me for a cell phone. Damn kids and their need to continue growing. What’s up with that?

He’s mobile now, even thought his method lacks a little grace. He does get to Those Things That Shouldn’t Be On The Floor in record time now. He has been grabbing tails of animals and drooling on Playstation controllers. It is officially time to childproof the house. Which we should have done back when…NikkiZ started crawling? That might have been a good decision. Maybe we’ll do better this time.

In terms of childproofing – what have you considered the most important part of that practice? Aside from the outlet covers, of course. We actually put those in years ago simply because I have a weird phobia of exposed outlets. But beyond that? What do you do to protect your child from household dangers? Do you just let them play in their room and their room only? Do you add padding on anything? Do you remove electronics? Because we have animals we really have to keep our kids in sight at all times…so childproofing is more about NEVER LETTING THEM OUT OF YOUR SITE. Lest you end up with baby eating dog food while the dog chews up the teething ring.

But in your home…what’s the procedure? Chain them up until their old enough to read?

I Totally Haven’t Even Told My Husband We’re Doing This Yet


I’m doing something insane, guys. Seriously. Even crazier than I usually do around here. I’ve joined a challenge posed by a new Green Blog I found to keep my trash in my garage for an entire week to see how much garbage I create. And if you think that sounds crazy, consider that the guy issuing the challenge is one day away from finishing one whole year of doing the SAME THING. As in, as we speak, he has a year’s worth of garbage in his basement. It’s a fascinating story you should totally check out if you get a chance. But in the meantime? Let’s ponder what the HELL I’ve signed up for here!

Why, exactly, are you doing this?
If you’ll recall, my family decided to make the effort some time last year to start taking anything to the recycling center that we could. Especially the things that they don’t want in the bin: like glass and cereal boxes. (Huntsville residents, find the list of what goes in the bin here.) This made a HUGE impact in how much garbage we created every week as before that? We were about to have to ask the city to give us another garbage bin. And that’s kinda disgraceful. Since then, some weeks have gone by where we forget to but the garbage bin on the street, but we have enough room for TWO weeks of garbage in it now. So it’s not a big deal.

I’d like to try to make that amount even smaller this year. Just find ways to reuse, avoid over-packaged items, recycle more, anything to reduce what we send out in our garbage bin every week. I thought, in order to see how much of a change we make, monitoring it for a week would be a great idea! I decided we’d do this project for a week now, and a week in six months and compare the lists to see how much we reduce.

What Exactly Will You Be Putting In Your Garage This Week?
Essentially I’ll be removing all trash cans in the house for the week, forcing everyone to give their garbage to me so that I can sort it in the garage. We’re going to keep our recycling pile, but not take it in for a week so that we can see that pile after a week. All of the garbage without food or grime on it will go in another pile, compartmentalized if there’s a lot of repeats. Anything that we can wash clean will go in that pile, but anything that we can’t get clean enough for me to feel comfortable leaving in the garage…that will go in the outdoor garbage bin. But not until AFTER I’ve documented it and photographed it.

How Will You Document The Results?
At the end of each day I’m going to photograph our garbage before dividing it up into the areas we’ll keep it in for the week. I’ll also document it in list form so that at the end of the week I’ll have that list along with the photographic evidence of how truly wasteful we are. So my children can hold it against me in 10 years.

Will You Try To Create Less Garbage Than You Would Normally To Make Yourself Look Better?
No. The point of this is to see how much we waste normally. In 6 months, when I do this again, hopefully we’ll have adopted new habits that will reduce our garbage production, but I’m not going to do those things this week. That said – I’m sure I’ll avoid certain things because I don’t feel like carrying the trash around with me, but I’ll do my best to keep things wasteful as usual!

What about diapers
I will count how many of those go in the outside bin, but that are indeed GOING IN THE BIN. I’m not going to take this so far to photograph dirty diapers or keep them for a week. There are several reasons why we don’t use cloth diapers and while I’m sure we could change this year, and we might decide that – it’s not something I can up and decide to start tomorrow. And also? We’re trying to show how much garbage we create and we use disposable diapers, so changing that now wouldn’t give us a clear picture.

Is your whole family participating in this insanity?
We are participating as a household, and then I’m participating fully. In other words, any garbage the household produces will be documented. Any garbage I produce outside of the house I’ll bring home to document. But – my family won’t have to do that part. I’m not going to inflict my own insanity on them.

Now – Starting when I wake up tomorrow morning (good timing, huh?) until when I wake up next Thursday – I’ll be doing this. This week will be my baseline so that in six months I can try to calculate how we’ve improved throughout the year. Hopefully seeing this garbage in a pile in my garage will really help me see how wasteful we are and will inspire me to make changes in our lives this year.

Either that, or it will gross me out so much I run away screaming and continue my life living in the woods and surviving off of fish and berries.

We’ll see.



Next are the series of questions Dave posed to those of us participating. He has an “After” set of questions for us to answer as well. I’ll include those when I’m done.

What do you think makes up the largest part of your trash?

I think diapers would be the most by weight, however. Especially if I brought home the ones they change at daycare. (Which I will NOT be doing by the way. They already think I’m weird enough there.)

What do you think makes up the largest part of your recycling?
In terms of space? It’s boxes and cans from dinner prep every night because I rarely (never) cook from scratch. Lucky those are recyclable so that eases my guilt a bit. But I have a feeling I may find that my diet coke consumption will actually be the most. I’m curious to see.

Are you saving everything or keeping a list of what you would have saved?
Saving for a week, keeping a list, and photographing.

If you are saving everything, where are you keeping it?
In the garage. Except for diapers and any item I worry may attract mice (that I couldn’t clean enough or something like that). I’ll list those out, and then I’ll put them in our outdoor garbage bin.

Do you compost and if not, what will you do with your food waste?
We don’t compost now, but that is one of the things we are going to start this year. Our food waste (which there’s usually not much) will just go into the garbage disposal. If it can’t, we’ll put it in a bag and put it in the outside garbage bin.

Christmas Dinner At The Zoot Table


I cooked our big family dinner on Saturday night since that’s the day we celebrated LilZ’s Christmas. We had my family and MrZ’s over for dinner. This picture above? Was my pre-meal photograph to demonstrate the effort I put forward in making the meal for my loved ones.

I mean – nothing says love like boxed food, right?

However, even with this ease, I still managed to screw things up. I let the water/milk for the fake potatoes overflow all over my stove. Since I was cooking other things on the other eyes, the milk foam immediately started burning and the smoke detector started going off. I hollered at LilZ to go get the broom to wave in front of the smoke detector, while I tried my best to save the potatoes by just dumping the flakes and seasoning in the overflowing boil. Unfortunately, most of the water and milk had boiled out so I ended up adding more milk to get the mixture kinda right which made for the most drab and milky potatoes ever made.

But still…Easy! Breezy!

For the main course we bought a ham with a gift certificate. You know, to add to the difficulty value of the meal.

Now, I did actually cook rolls and green bean casserole as well. And neither of those came from boxes. They came from cans. So, you know, that should count for something. And in my defense, the same group had eaten a real Christmas dinner with yummy homemade goodies at my mother-in-law’s on Christmas day. I figured, there’s no way I could compete with her food in quality (I’m telling you, I dream about that meal it was so good) so I might as well not even bother. I went for SPEED instead. And I tell you, I had all of the food ready to feed all 11 people in under an hour. That’s damn fast, if I do say so myself.

Especially if you subtract the time it took to keep the house from burning down.

I’m Not Using the Word Resolution.

My brother hog-tied the bear he brought for AndyZ. He then declared it “wrapped”. Heh.

I’m excited about 2009. I just feel like there’s so much potential waiting for me. I don’t plan on getting knocked up for once since MrZ and I married, I enjoy my job and look forward to the changes it will bring, my kids are growing and we have a new administration running the country. I just feel optimistic that 2009? Will be better than 2008. And I feel that now, more than ever, I can play a part in making 2009 better for my family, my community, and my country. And I want to help in any way possible.

(As long as it doesn’t creep into my Primetime TV watching schedule, of course. I’m not that noble.)

I have all of these vague goals for the year. I want to be More Charitable. More Creative. More Frugal. More Green. More Deliberate and Intentional in all of my actions. Then there’s the goal to try to Lose The Pregnancy Weight. Because, you know, I still weigh the same today as I did when I came home from the hospital with AndyZ. Meaning I’ve lost NONE of it.

But those vague goals…the ones more about my character and less about my thighs…those are the goals I really want to work on. However, I feel l like I need concrete To Do type lists to help me. Instead of Be More Charitable, I would be more successful if I made a specific goal to: Donate Food to the Food Bank every Friday. (I stole that one from my friend, Michelle.) In terms of be More Green I’d be better off saying: I’m going to buy rice and beans in bulk to avoid the over packaged items at my grocery store. Maybe instead of just be more creative? I challenge myself to take a photo of something other than my kids every day.

Do you see what I mean? I’m trying to find ways to translate the vague concepts into black and white lists because I’m more likely to be successful that way. Maybe you do fine with the vague, but I need something to cross off my list every day to prove I’m heading in the right direction. Otherwise I’ll find myself eating Half Baked Frozen Yogurt straight from the freezer while watching Gossip Girl and reading trashing tabloids on January 2nd. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things…they just won’t help me achieve any goal other than Gain Another 20lbs. And I’m not really wanting to do that in 2009.

So, what are your lists? Mainly, are you joining any projects for the year? Any 365 Days Of…type of projects? I really like the ones on flickr but there are a million of them. Which ones are you doing? How are you going to outline your goals for the year? Can I steal your goals and make them mine? Or does that kinda defeat the point?

And since the new year is not hear yet – I offer more cute photos of my kids. Wearing the matching shirts they got for Christmas from their Aunt and Uncle. If I vow to dress my kids up like hippies every day for the year, will that help me achieve any of my goals?


Now For The Holiday Detox

I just finished five of the most awesome days I’ve ever had. I spent the entire time with loads of family and yummy food. We had two full-blown Christmas mornings, doubling the fun for everyone. We watched movies (Dr. Horrible anyone?) and built towers and rode scooters. Since my brother was visiting the majority of the five days had me laughing so hard my stomach hurt every night when I went to bed. Who needs an ab workout when you have him around? We had decent enough weather that we were able to do some things outside, which was one of the best treats of all. I think it will take me weeks to recover from all of the excitement, and twice that long to go through all of the pictures I took. Until then? Here’s a few of my favorites that I’ve uploaded so far.

Someone got a trunk full of princess costumes for Christmas. (No, that someone was NOT me.)

Dad? Can I pull your hair?

Testing out the rain boots

Walking with her uncle who she stayed glued to the entire holiday

He woke up in a FANTASTIC mood

She wouldn’t have looked if she had known I was going to take her picture

Santa brought him that T-shirt!

She kept looking at the camera after taking a picture and saying, “That’s a good one!”

Someone re-discovered the Jump Up this weekend

I hope you felt as blessed over your holiday as I did mine. There were several points when I just looked around and thought, “Damn. I’m so lucky it just doesn’t seem fair.” I just couldn’t have asked for a better holiday. Even after the Mashed Potato Disaster of Christmas Dinner. And yes. I was cooking the kind out of a box and I still had a disaster. I’m awesome in the kitchen, you know.