Archive | August, 2012

Grammy Jammys

20 Aug

The only good thing about living a thousand miles from your mom is that fun things show up in the mail regularly. My mom’s a master crafter, and can bang out anything her heart desires in like a day, so it’s completely exciting to see what’s going to show up on our porch.

Once these covers for my Swiffer came. They blow away anything I’ve ever bought at the store to clean my floors, and I love them. That grayish one under the red used to be a pretty lavender color but hey, it’s cleaned many miles of floor in its life.

Shopping cart covers, bibs, hats, shirts, pants, sweaters, pillows, doll clothes, cloth diapers, hair bows…

and

the World’s Most Awesome Pajamas.

It all started when my mom sent Wilson some Spider-Man Jammies. They weren’t intended to be the star of the box, they were just tucked in the corner like “hey, here’s some pajamas I threw together last night while I was waiting for the water to boil for dinner”.

Well the kid just loved them:

After a few weeks with the Spidey jammies, we were on the phone or webcam or something with my mom and Wilson comes out with “Grammy, next I want you to make me some jammies with sunglasses on them”. Background: There’s hardly anything that excites my mom quite like a craft challenge. Tell her you would like a trash can coozy that lights up and plays the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and she’ll find it or make it. It might take a week or two, but it’ll show up.

So naturally, the next week:

I wish I had gotten a picture of the boy’s face when he first saw and held these pajamas. It’s like he couldn’t believe he had thought up something in his head and then here it was, real in his hands!

Also, now it’s a game. Good luck Ma, you’re gonna wish you never started this.

Very shortly after we received the sunglasses jammies (it may have even been the same day), they are on the phone:

Grammy: “Do you like your sunglasses jammies, Wilson?”

Wilson: “Yes!”

Grammy: “Are you thinking about what you want next?”

He  looks around the room (we are in the kitchen) and lingers a little bit too long on the microwave. Oh please don’t say microwaves, I think. Or do, I kind of want to see if she can do it.

Wilson: “I want jammies with broccolis on them”

Grammy: without missing a beat “Ok! Coming right up!”

Completely random. Not much better than microwaves. But if you’ve read this far, you shouldn’t be surprised that a few days later…

Side note: A hilarious bit we like to do whenever Wilson’s wearing his broccoli jammies is “Hey Wilson, ya got a little bit of broccoli there…” or “Wilson! How are you covered in broccoli?! We didn’t even have broccoli for dinner! It’s all over your shirt and shorts! What in the world?!” Did I mention it’s hilarious?

This brings us to our most recent pair of Grammy Jammys.  It was shortly after we took Wilson to see the movie Brave. His Papa Farmer had bought him a bow & arrow set, so I just knew what would be next. Sure enough he put the order in.

“Bows and Arrows, Grammy.”

I was relieved for my poor Ma. Finally a fabric that should be available at any JoAnn’s. Oddly I believe these jammies gave her the most trouble. Because as any observer of Murphy’s Law can attest, you will see an item in a store a thousand times without needing it, but the moment you go back to buy it, it’s nowhere to be found.

What does my mother do if JoAnn’s doesn’t have what she needs? She goes underground. She calls a little old fairy woman who lives in a hollowed out tree in an enchanted forest. She gets it.

What’s next? I think the Grammy Jammys are retired for the year since the weather is starting to get cooler. Plus Wil seems to be satisfied with his collection of jammies with random objects on them. I think it’s been fun for both of them to share this project together. He dreamt it up, his Grammy turned it into a reality. One day he’ll get too big to wear them, and he will tuck them away someplace special to keep as a reminder of his amazing Grammy, and what they made together.

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Cloth Diapers

13 Aug

Warning: This post is long, and exclusively about Cloth Diapers. There’s no mention of food at all except when I call prefolds “granola”. If none of this interests you, it won’t hurt my feelings if you skip this one.

Occasionally I get asked about cloth diapers. I know people see me out and about during changes, or even see them on my kid and think “Wonder how that works? Ugh, bet it’s a pain. Seems gross. What does she do with the poop?” Rest assured everyone, the poop is dealt with accordingly. People almost never ask me the fun questions out loud. I sincerely wish they would, I’m always up for a poo talk. But no, when I get asked about cloth, it’s most often from new or expecting moms who are considering cloth and want to know “what are your favorite brands, and why?” I first became aware of modern cloth diapering when my boy was 7 months. I was going through my mommy message board phase and saw a topic labeled “Cloth Diapering”. Like most people who went through infancy in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I myself was cloth diapered. These flat pieces, safety pins, and plastic pants are usually what spring to mind when society thinks of cloth diapers. I thought, “Those are still being used?” Out of curiosity, I started researching online. The first image I got looked something like this:

Turns out good old cloth diapers are being used, only somebody’s put them on steroids.

I spent the next 2 weeks soaking up everything related to cloth diapers. It can be majorly overwhelming at the research stage. I didn’t feel like I had a good grasp on exactly what does what until I had done a couple evenings’ worth of reading. Maybe I’m slow, but this was an entire sub-culture of baby stuff that I had no idea even existed. I eventually learned the difference between Pockets, All-in-Ones, Prefolds, Flats, One-Size, Hybrids, Fitteds, and which ones do and do not need a separate cover.  If you simply can’t live another minute without knowing what those differences are, rest assured, I will tell you.

Pockets – A waterproof cover is sewn to a moisture-wicking fabric, creating a “pocket” where you can stuff an absorbent piece of material (usually called an insert). At wash time, the insert is pulled out and they’re washed separately. We have a lot of pockets and I love them, but stuffing those inserts back in after washing tends to make me stabby. In fact, I see bumGenius has now developed a diaper dubbed the “Freetime”, which does not need to be stuffed. So named, I assume, for all the free time you’ll have when you no longer have to stuff inserts day and night. I imagine women flocking carefree with their children in a meadow. “Can we stay longer Mom?” “Sure honey, we have nowhere to be! The diapers are stuffed!”

Wilson at 7 months in a bumGenius 3.0 Pocket

AIO (All-in-Ones) – The green diaper in the picture above is an AIO. It’s just like it sounds. No stuffing (yay!). Easy to use, especially for a care giver who’s not used to CDing. Super absorbent. These rock stars can go all night with no leaks. The down side? Twice the dry time. These suckers take 2 dry cycles to get all the way dry, or a whole day of drying outside. They’re also pretty much the most expensive diapers on the market.  We have three bumGenius AIOs and I usually save them for church on Sundays, when someone else will be changing my little one’s diaper.

One-Size – Diapers with adjustment snaps all the way across and down the front, so you can adjust as your kid grows. We’ve used one-size diapers all the way from 3 months to potty training. In my opinion, OS is the only way to go. Course, even at their smallest setting, they won’t fit perfectly until around 3 months, unless you happen to have a baby on the bigger side. I don’t birth big babies (score!), so three months was the golden cloth wearing age.

A word about Newborn cloth diapers: Honestly, don’t blow a bunch of money on newborn cloth diapers. From my experience they don’t ever fit right, and even if they do, newborns grow out of stuff in about a minute. Get one or two for a picture shoot if you want, but cut yourself some slack and use disposables for the first month. Plus I don’t know for sure, but think the stuff that comes out of a newborn those first few weeks would just burn a hole right through microfiber.

Hybrid Diapers – Another longtime favorite. We use GroVia (used to be called GroBaby back when I bought mine). These consist of two parts. The waterproof cover (the “shell”), and the absorbent piece (the “soaker pad”). The shell and the soaker have snap components that match up and allow them to attach together. At changing time, provided your child hasn’t gifted you with a blow-out that has covered the shell in poo, you can just unsnap the wet soaker and snap a clean one into the same shell. Bam! Less diaper laundry. These are usually the first diapers I reach for. These are handy for people who don’t know if they want to go all out and do full time cloth. You can purchase disposable absorbent pads (this company calls them “BioSoakers”) that can be thrown away when they’re dirty. They are biodegradable, compostable, and plastic-free. I’ve used this method on vacation before, and it works well. Just a word to the wise, lay the BioSoaker in the shell and don’t use the peel off sticky parts on the back. They’ll leave a tacky film on your shell that won’t ever come off. Ever.

A GroBaby (GroVia) Shell and Soaker Pad. Notice how ratty and slightly stained it looks? That’s two kids’ worth of excrement, people!

 

Fitted Diapers – I actually don’t have any fitteds, but they are insanely popular. They do require the use use of a cover which would have to be purchased separately. I guess that’s why I never got any. They’re not nearly as cheap as prefolds and you still have to use a cover. But like I said, lots of people love ’em, so they must be worth it.

Prefolds/Flats – Old skool crunchy cloth diapering, just like Mom used to make! Ultra granola & budget friendly! These are great for when you forgot to do diaper laundry and they’re all you have until you can do a wash real quick. You can get a dozen prefolds or flats for about $20, and a cover for about $10 or less if you hit a sale. This makes them the most economical cloth diapers you can find, but they can also  be the trickiest. Prefolds are so named because they are folded to maximize absorbency in the middle, and sewn that way. Flats are just flat, and you have to fold them around the baby in a precise way. I only have prefolds. Sometimes I use a snappi (I don’t need to be poking any holes in my baby with safety pins), and sometimes I’ll just fold the prefold in thirds and lay it in the cover. Again, these don’t win the awesome award but they’re cheap and they work.

Juliette in a prefold and Thirsties cover, 3 months

 

Cloth Wipes – Some people are reluctant to use cloth wipes at first. I was too. I thought they would push me over the edge in terms of just too much hassle. So I continued to use disposable wipes with my cloth diapers. It took me about a month to realize they were actually making things harder. Instead of throwing everything into the pail after a change, I would have to take the disposable wipe to the bathroom trash, creating an extra step in the process. Then I tried just throwing them into the pail with everything else, washing them with the diapers, and throwing them away right after that. Makes no sense when I look back on it now, but this is how we learn, right? Trial and error. And more error. I finally relented and switched to cloth wipes. I use these beauties from an online store called Small Wonders Wipes . They are sherpa on one side and velour on the other, and I love them. There’s no mess they can’t handle! Use the sherpa side for cleaning the mess and the velour buffs to a shine! For the solution, I make my own. 2 and a half cups of water, 1/4 cup of baby wash, 1/4 cup of coconut oil (is there anything coconut oil can’t do?!) I used to use EVOO, but it was leaving a film on the wipes. I store the solution in those peri bottles they give you at the hospital. When I’m ready to use a wipe,  I squirt the solution onto the wipe and go at it. I tried carrying the solution and wipes around with me for out of the house changes, but it’s kind of a beating to deal with all of that. I was always running out of solution in my bag and forgetting to replace it before I left again. Then one time a peri bottle leaked inside my bag and I was like “I’m so done with this”. Now I just carry disposable wipes and throw them away after I use them.

My Cloth Wipes

 

Snaps versus Hook & Loop (Velcro) – Ah, the ever present conundrum. Which do I choose? Well, they both have their positives and their negatives. H&L is easier to fasten around a squirmy baby, but after awhile that Velcro will start to pill on the loop side and all kinds of odds and ends will get stuck in the hook side, making the whole thing less effective. Also, an older baby will delight in the ability to strip off his own diaper and smear poo on your walls. Bonus  for the cool ripping sound! I’m a snaps girl. Often I dream of converting my entire diaper stash to snaps. Yes, it can be challenging to get them snapped correctly around a wiggly baby, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy peasy. I’ve yet to have a baby rip off a snaps diaper by his or herself. Another plus I’m finding now that I have a girl – I can use a snaps diaper under a dress for which I have no bloomers. I couldn’t do that with a H&L, she would tear it off instantly. So there you go. It all comes down to personal preference (butsnapsarebetter).

Ok. Now we know what everything is. Here’s a quick word about poo, since I know you’re thinking about it. If you have a mostly solid poo, flop the poo into the toilet, toss the diaper in the pail, and thank your baby for her kind consideration. Exclusively breast fed babies, sick babies, and babies who may have had too much prune juice that morning will not be so kind. When a mess strikes, you will NEED a diaper sprayer. These handy gadgets resemble the sprayer that you probably have at your kitchen sink. It attaches to your water line and hangs at the side of your toilet. Spray the poo off the diaper downward into the toilet and say goodbye. If you have an older baby, it’s required that you have the child stand nearby and actually say “bye poo” and wave. Seriously, I’ve heard it aids in earlier potty training because they connect the poo with the toilet. At the very least it’s adorable, so just do it.

Cloth Diapers and Day Care – Many people think this can’t be done, but it can. If your eyes haven’t shriveled up from boredom while reading this, check out another post I wrote as a guest blogger for the Kelly’s Closet blog: Cloth Diaper Academy

Ok, almost done. Washing and drying. Another question I hear a lot is “do you wash them yourself or do you use a service?”. I’ve always washed my diapers myself, and I think most other cloth diapering moms do too. To me it kind of defeats the purpose financially, if you’re going to pay someone to do your washing. Unless you’re renting your diapers from the service, and washing them is a part of the whole agreement. That’s a whole different thing and I have no experience with that. Each brand of diaper will come with its own washing and drying instructions, but I don’t think anybody does their diapers separately according to brand. I sure don’t. Here’s what I do. I take the pail into the laundry room and plop it on top of the cat’s litter box, which makes it the perfect height. This is the only positive contribution our cat gives to the family. I set the washer on rinse and start throwing everything in, removing inserts from the pocket diapers and unsnapping soaker pads from shells. Once everything is in, I throw in the pail liner too. After the rinse is done, do a hot wash, with the hottest water your washer is capable of. Here’s where you add your detergent. The good news is cloth diapers don’t need a lot of detergent, so it will last you forever. I use Rockin’ Green Cloth Diaper Detergent, but there are tons on the market. So after you do your hot wash, do one more rinse at the end, and you’re ready to dry.  Generally you don’t want to dry your covers in the dryer, because it makes them wear out much faster. The heat will weaken the elastic, big time. I have a bunch of covers that my mom has had to redo the elastic for me because I got lazy and threw them into the dryer one too many times. So I will throw all the inserts and wipes and prefolds into the dryer, and lay the covers outside. If I’m feeling ambitious, or if I have a lot of diapers with stains, I’ll hang everything outside. The sun is the only safe and effective way to bleach cloth.

Drying and bleaching!

Now it bears mentioning that my zeal for cloth diapering has taken some dents and scratches over the years. After 4 years of the stuffing, wiping, spraying, cleaning, drying process, some of the shine has flaked off. There have been days when we’re late and I just want to change the baby quickly before we leave, we run into the room, and the wipes solution bottles are empty. Or there’s only prefolds with ill-fitting grey covers left. And sometimes I just want to THROW THE POOP AWAY.  Gah! But mostly, if I stay on top of the whole thing, it’s so worth it.  I have no idea how much money we’ve saved over the years, or how many diapers we’ve prevented from sitting in a landfill, but it’s got to be a lot. I know I’ll miss the whole thing once its over and I’ll be glad I stuck it out.

No joke, Juliette just had a huge blowout. Right here on my lap. Maybe I’ll take a picture of myself using the diaper sprayer on a messy poo. Would that be helpful? No?

UPDATE: I now make my own homemade cloth diaper detergent out of equal parts oxy clean, washing soda, and baking soda. It’s working well!

Calories and Paint

7 Aug

For anyone who was riveted by my quest to use my FitBit to accurately measure my calorie burn in spin class, I bring you an update! Clipping it to my sock seems to be fairly accurate. I’ve been averaging between 500 and 600 calories each class, which is a whole lot closer to my target than that shabby 208 I got while wearing it on my waist. I still don’t know how accurate it is, but I’ll take it. On any machine where I can see an estimation of my calorie burn in front of me (like elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike), the calories burned is always a good 100 over what the FitBit says. But I figure I’d rather be estimating under my actual calorie burn rather than over, as I will eat every one of those surplus calories, just because I can. It’s like having a little extra money at the end of the month (does that actually happen to anyone?), and having the urge to go out and spend it all, just because it’s there. I am a gold medalist in eating. I am the Michael Phelps of food consumption. All I need is a slight nod from FitBit that I am 600 calories under my daily budget and that fridge is open. So I underestimate to trick my brain. Good thing my brain’s easy to trick. Wait, what?

I’m burying this next part in the middle of my blog that hardly anybody reads because it’s basically tooting my own horn and I’m bad at that sort of thing. Taking a compliment, no matter how small, feels so awkward and usually causes me to go on a rant about another area of my life that needs improvement. Which just makes everyone uncomfortable. Why can’t I just say “thank you” and move on? Anyway, I am proud of myself on this one. As of this morning I have reached a weight that brings me to a BMI in the normal range. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I am not considered to be “slightly overweight”. This is where I could go on about how my BMI is the extreme highest you can have and still be considered “normal”. I will not do it. I’ve worked too hard these past 3 months. Good job, me! Thank you.

For the last several days I’ve been using all my spare time to finish up the painting in our house. One by one we’d done every area except the master bedroom and the hallway. Doesn’t everyone leave the master for last when doing home upgrades? No one’s even gonna see it, why bother?? I know all the relationship experts say you need to spend time making a haven for yourselves, especially for parents of young children. So…white walls, mismatched art, and a baby bouncer in the corner isn’t cutting it? Oh, ok then. Anyway we managed to agree on a really pretty lavender color for the walls that actually accentuates the purple floral drapes that we previously thought were hideous. Turns out they are hideous, when hanging on either side of a bed with a brown patterned comforter. We ditched the brown, brought in a solid dark lavender quilt with white accents, and ta-da! Definitely more haven-like. As for the hallway, I was trying to match the color to the existing paint that we have in the main areas of the house. The paint guy at Home Depot (who I feel compelled to tell you, was dressed to the nines as a Cowboy) assured me it was the same color. It is not. Not a huge deal when you figure the hallway is in different lighting, but there are several areas where I went around the corner slightly with the new color and you can totally see it. Just warning you, in case you come over before I get a chance to fix it.  Anyway, my main point to all that was to say that I burned like 300 calories at each painting session. Score!

ps: I do all the painting in our house. My husband does not and will not paint a wall. Except the part in our dining room where someone accidentally touched the ceiling with the roller and there are paint spots. He did that.

Chicken, Morals, and Money

1 Aug

I don’t know the situation where you are, but today in the suburbs of north Texas the masses are at Chik-Fil-A. Lines are so long, they’re shutting down streets. We have 2 locations within 4 miles of my house and I have heard reports that both are mad crazy today. Ugh, I hesitate to go to CFA on a standard Tuesday “kid’s night”; I shudder to think of going today. Forget about not getting a table — what if they run out of those nifty sticky mats for the kids? What would we do!?

Now, my whole family loves the heck out of this place. Just hearing or reading the name usually starts me on an instant craving that won’t subside until I have it. So as you can imagine the last few days, what with seeing “Chik-Fil-A” all over my Facebook and the news, I have been thinking about that sweet chicken quite a lot lately. We used to go maybe 3 times a month, but these days we really only eat out after church on Sundays and as you MAY know, there is no sweet chicken on Sundays.

Anyway, today for lunch I wasn’t about to go anywhere near the frenzy that was occurring at my neighborhood CFAs. I had a frozen Tyson chicken sandwich at home (It wasn’t frozen when I ate it, I did heat it in the microwave first, just so you know). It was darn good, and I didn’t have to fight a crowd to get it. By the way, if you haven’t tried the Tyson chicken patties, do yourself a solid and pick up a bag. They look like this:

Image

They also come in a box of 4, if you don’t care to hoard them like I do. I know they’re frozen and processed and blah blah blah; I don’t care. They’re so tasty! They go perfectly on a fresh Kroger bakery roll, dijon mustard, ketchup, and 5 or 6 baby spinach leaves. If you feel like a real splurge, throw a piece of cheese on too. I love this lunch with a nice salad after a workout. Today I had it with a small bowl of bowtie pasta and marinara sauce, just because I had come from a particularly challenging spin class and was feeling ravenous.

Anyway I was eating, casually scrolling through my Facebook feed and reading all the thoughtful posts my friends are putting out there on the CFA controversy. Now I completely respect everyone’s right to speak their minds, but it’s mildly humorous how one by one they come out like “I’ve kept silent long enough – I am now going to drop several bombs of knowledge and put a Gandi-esque end to all of this with my Facebook status update!”

 It all got me thinking about the food I was eating that moment. Do I know where the Tyson Chicken Co spends its profit money? Nope. What about the pasta? No clue. The plates? I don’t even remember where we bought them. My clothes, my daughter’s high chair, my son’s soccer ball…? We give our money to so many different entities. Do you know exactly where it’s all going? Can you verify every penny is being used for an end cause that you support? If you can and do, I certainly commend you. I can’t and I don’t. Unfortunately not every company is as transparent as CFA when it comes to their inner beliefs. How do I know the owner of the thrift store I use to buy and sell my kids’ clothes isn’t going home at night and funding a dog-fighting ring? If that was the case, I’d have inadvertently given hundreds of dollars toward something I completely oppose! Or say the owner of my neighborhood gym is totally in line with my beliefs, but once a month he sends money to his brother who markets drugs to kids. How far down the line are we willing to go?

 At the end of the day my thought is, if you’re choosing to cut CFA completely out of your life based on their beliefs and choices, are you willing to take the time to investigate every single transaction you spend your money on? Do you believe that once your money leaves your hand and passes to another in exchange for a good or service, it is no longer in your control? Or do you believe you have a responsibility to make sure that exchange after exchange, your money continues to serve your beliefs and morals?

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