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Colic and Weeds

8 Nov

Really? It’s November and I’m still dealing with these weed beasts? Go dormant already, lawn!!

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Seriously.

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They’re so unsightly.

The real beating is that I promised myself I wouldn’t let it get this bad again.

After Juliette was born last year we accidentally kind of “neglected the grounds” for some time. That’s a fancy way of saying we didn’t mow or pay any attention whatsoever to our lawn for like 6 months. We were about a week away from some Little Shop of Horrors action. Lucky for us we don’t live in a homeowners association, or we certainly would’ve gotten fined. I’m thankful our nice neighbors never said anything to our faces. Maybe they saw how we were just barely able to function each day with a colicky newborn who never stopped screaming.

What? You wanna know more about the screaming?

Seriously, the child did three things. She nursed, she cried, and occasionally she would sleep. There was never any of that laying peacefully staring into a mirror, slightly amused by her own face. There was never any “look, she just smiled! Do you think it was just from gas?”. No, with us it was “Ok, she’s been screaming for 5 hours straight, do you think her internal organs might be melting?”

The most maddening thing was not so much that she demanded to be held 24/7. It was that according to the law of baby Juliette, you had to be standing. If we did manage to get her to fall asleep while holding and swaying her, and then dared to ever so gently sit down, she would jerk awake and resume the scream siren. Only this time she’d be angrier.

What’s the difference!?!?” We would cry. “How do you even know!!??” Apparently the child has an altimeter built in.

We were so exhausted, every day.

And yes, we tried every kind of “colic” medicine and remedy we could find. We brought her to the doctor many times during her first 3 months of life, begging them to help us make it stop. They tossed around the possibility of acid reflux, and we had a few prescriptions for that, but nothing really helped. She just kind of grew out of it slowly around 3 or 4 months old.  If you happen to be going through this now, hang in there. It will get better.

side note – Our son was the best baby. He rarely cried and started sleeping through the night in his own room at 8 weeks. Maybe we got a little arrogant about our ability to handle a small child and God decided to have a little fun with this next one.

So anyway, once things calmed down on the baby front, I spent a whole weekend “weeding” — though a more appropriate term might be “murdering”. Some of these behemoths were almost as tall as I am, and when I pulled on the first one I fully expected it to reveal its hidden eyes and mouth and yell “BACK OFF, HUMAN! Each time I uprooted one of them with my shovel, I thought for sure I could hear some kind of curse in the wind.

Anyway like I said, once the lawn was cleared I promised myself I’d never let it get that bad again – and it really hasn’t, yet. But it has been some time since either of us have gotten out there with the garden gloves. It’s partly because we’re waiting for winter to come and take our landscaping duties away.

So yeah, it’s bad again. I did pull a bunch, but then I went to mow and the lawnmower was out of gas so I gave up and went inside. The end.

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The Hardest Job in the World?

2 Oct

I’m a stay-at-home mom, by the way.  My primary job responsibilities are to keep my children alive, acquire and serve food, and generally try to make sure my house doesn’t end up on Hoarders.

I’ve never done anything like this before. Ever since I was 15 years old I’ve been an employee who reported to a boss. I know you’re wondering, so I’ll tell you that my first real job was sloshing mashed potatoes at Kenny Rogers Roasters. I saved enough to purchase a 1984 Dodge Omni and then quit (My parents made me go apologize to my boss and ask for my job back). I’ve had lots of jobs over the years. I’ve been a hostess, a waitress, a cashier, a receptionist, a Disney Cast Member, a telephone survey girl, a perfume seller, and 5 different kinds of customer service coordinator. I once had a job in which my title could only have been described as “envelope un-stuffer”. I’ve been embarrassingly underpaid. I’ve been the coffee runner far more than I’ve been the project manager. I’ve brought work home, I’ve stressed out, I’ve cried over cruel bosses.

But no, I’ve never done anything like this before.

People say being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job there is. True, it’s not easy by any stretch. It’s certainly not popping kettle corn on the couch all day (not if you’re doing it right, anyway). Most days I don’t sit down until dinner is on the table. Are there frustrations and stresses in my day? Oh yea. But is it hard? Maybe it’s hard like when you’re on vacation at the beach and your sandal breaks. You’re still on vacation, man. You know what the real hardest job is? Talk to a mom who works outside of her home. Ask her if she feels like she’s doing a bang up job on either front.

No matter what my frustrations are at the end of the day, I’ve still gotten to spend it with my children. The honor of that is not lost on me.

Anyway, my children are currently on totally opposite nap schedules.

This has happened very slowly and without my consent. Not even one minute of overlap. On a good day it goes something like this:

1 year old, morning nap, 10:30 – 12:00

4 year old, nap, 1:00-3:29

1 year old, afternoon nap, 3:30-5:00

I think like this schedule most because I get to spend one-on-one time with each child while the other is napping, and each child allows me to accomplish different tasks. My 4 year old will sit still and color long enough to allow me to mop the kitchen floor, where my 1 year old would turn the entire kitchen into a Swiffer slip and slide in about 3 minutes. On the flip side, my 1 year old is perfectly content to sit in the office with me while I do computer stuff, but my 4 year old starts throwing a fit if I spend more than 15 consecutive minutes in the office.

Maybe once a month I’m granted a special freebie day that goes like this:

1 year old misses morning nap, and I try to hold her off until after lunch. She starts falling asleep in her green beans so I move her to her crib at 1:00.

4 year old falls asleep at 1:03

Both children sleep until 4 year old wakes up at 3:29 and begins shout-singing Love Shack throughout the house (not being completely sure of the lyrics to the song, what he actually sings is “Leg Shop, baby, Leeeeg Shop…”), which in turn wakes up the 1 year old.

While these days are nice for me because I get 2.5 uninterrupted hours to myself in the middle of the day, we all pay dearly around dinnertime when the 1 year old starts to get mean-sleepy.

Then there’s the occasional nightmare day where nobody naps. These are usually days in which I’m texting my husband at 4PM wondering if he could maybe please just go ahead and come home now because I’m seriously about to lock myself in the basement to hide from these monster children. Actually I wouldn’t really do that, mostly because we don’t have a basement. But seriously, those days are bad.

But then bedtime comes and my angels go to sleep, and again none of it seems so bad anymore. Anyway, if all those ladies in the grocery store lines are right, this part goes by in the blink of an eye and I’ll long for it all back. Not so hard to believe at all.

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!

Can I hold the baby?!

27 Jun

This past weekend I went to a certain delicious Mexican restaurant with my husband and children. The place with the salsa that will make you reconsider your life priorities. I accidentally ate 4 servings of chips, using them as a vehicle to get the salsa into my mouth. Unfortunate for my sodium intake. The waiter sent me home with 2 souffle cups full, which are still sitting in my fridge because I can’t decide how to use them. Nothing seems worthy enough.

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Anyway, this is not supposed to be about the salsa.

This is about what happened as we were on our way out of the restaurant and passed a table of ladies of varying ages who wanted to have a look at our 11-month old, Juliette. This is nothing new, as any parent of a baby will tell you, especially with baby girls, they are something of a conversation piece. Women, men, teens, the elderly…it’s very sweet and I love it. But this time, as we’re walking by, one of the ladies (maybe the Grandma) says “Let’s have a look at the baby!”. When I turn to her, she has her arms outstretched toward me. It becomes clear she’s emphasizing the word “have”.

Now I’ve been in this situation twice before. And both times I did the wrong thing. Once when my son was an infant, at a restaurant, I handed him to a friend while I ate. The waitress decided she wanted to hold him and plucked him from my friend’s arms and carried him away to show the other servers. I had to chase her down and snatch him back. Yes, my friend felt bad. The other time was when Juliette was maybe 6 months old. We were at a party for my husband’s work and a fellow co-worker of his flat out asked me if he could hold her. I reluctantly handed her over, because what am I going to say? I spent the next 10 minutes standing about six inches away from him making small talk, thinking of nothing except taking my baby back.

So of course I did not hand my daughter to this woman at the Mexican restaurant. I did what any respectable lady would do and I pretended I didn’t hear her. Would it have been okay? Probably. It’s not like she could’ve made a run for it without being caught by myself, my husband, or the restaurant staff. She was probably just a sweet old lady who wanted to hold a baby. It’s sad that the first things I think of when interacting with new people are the dangers the interaction might hold, but I watch the Today show… that’s the world we live in, right?

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