Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Traditions

This was Sweet Pea's first Christmas. We got her a set of blocks and she got to taste a Christmas cookie. Her stocking wasn't finished in time for Christmas, but she didn't seem to mind. Now I am thinking about future holidays and imagining what traditions we will continue from our own childhoods and what we might decide to start new with our children. I definitely want to include some outdoor activities as part of our winter plans, and like the thought of decorating the tree and cooking together. What are your favorite family holiday traditions?

Here is a photo of Average and Sweet Pea at the ski lodge a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Saga of the Worst Afternoon Ever

I am recovering from a bad cold that is possibly a flu. Yesterday and the day before all I felt up to doing was sitting on the couch and folding a little laundry. Today, thinking that some fresh air would be good for me, and feeling energetic enough to try, I take a walk around the neighborhood with Sweet Pea in the stroller and Glen on his leash. We have been working on the command "heel" and he is actually doing OK, so I walk for more than 30 minutes, even though it is quite cold. Sweet Pea is bundled up in her wool pants, sweatshirt and down jacket, and two blankets. She falls asleep in the stroller on the way home. We arrive home, tired and hungry and needing a tissue, to discover that I have locked the door to the house and neglected to bring a key. Well, I usually forget to lock the sliding glass door in the back, so we'll just try that. Locked. My phone has a blinking red light in the shape of a battery so I'm praying that there's enough juice left to make one call, and speed dial Average. Luckily, he answers right away and drove a car to work today so he will be able to get home fairly quickly and let me in. Phew. My phone turns off two seconds after I hang up. We wait a while in the back yard, play fetch with Glen, pick up some more of the garbage that he had strewn around a week or so ago, and Average arrives, lets us in, and drives back to work. Lunch is uneventful. Next, I decide that I really need to clean the floors because we are having company tonight and hosting Christmas for my family in just two days. I know this will be a challenge with my two little creatures around, so I go to my default plan for mommy-only activities: Sweet Pea in the pack n play, Glen back outside. This works for 20-30 minutes before one or both of them gets bored or impatient and becomes fussy and/or destructive. I get the house swept and mopped, and let Glen back inside after carefully wiping his muddy muddy paws. We take a nursing break with Sweet Pea on the couch. OK, now it's time to tackle the carpeted areas of the house: living room and bedrooms. I get out the vacuum, and Glen freaks out, barking and darting at it, trying to bite it. Sweet Pea also starts crying. I pick her up, and drag Glen to his crate to sit out the vacuuming. I vacuum each room with my baby in one arm and a serenade of barking in the background. This is not the way I prefer to clean, but Average is working every day until Christmas, and our evenings are full of events so now is the time. Things are starting to look pretty good but I know I still have a long way to go. Sweet Pea gives me some sleep signals, and I consider different options for putting her to sleep. I decide on wearing her while I try to continue to clean, and then remember that the ERGO is out in the car. Since she is fussy I know that leaving her inside while I go out will cause a furious bout of crying, so I hold her in my arms, head for the door, and grab some shoes. Glen sees, and gets right in front of the front door, not wanting to be left behind. Here is where I should have a) put his leash on him and taken him to the car with me; b) put him back into his crate until I returned; c) put him in the back yard for a few minutes. Any of these options would have been better than what I decide to do: try to squeeze past him without letting him out. Of course, he gets out. He walks to the car with me and hops in when I open the door. He doesn't get back out at my command, so I close him in, walk back to the house, drop off the ERGO, and then walk back to get him. When I open the car door again, he jumps out and starts racing around the yard. I try calmly walking back to house, and whistle for him at the door. He comes to me, then darts away again, looking like he wants to play. I don't want to play. I walk in the house and leave the door open behind me, expecting him to follow within a minute. He doesn't. I go back outside and whistle for him while he completely ignores me and frolics around the neighbors yard, stopping occasionally to gobble something up from the ground (cat poop?). This has happened twice before, and both times he returned to the front door within 15 minutes. Twice, I step outside again and whistle and call for him, to no avail. But that's OK, I can wait it out. No, I can't - I hear him barking, look out the window, and see a mail truck. Outside again in bare feet, Sweet Pea now securely strapped into the ERGO, I whistle and call Glen. The mail man thanks me as he drops a package off on our neighbor's doorstep. Glen circles close to me, then darts away again. I am calling him and whistling and he continues to act like this is a game, even though I have never ever played a chase game with him. He comes close, but not close enough for me to grab his collar (which is actually the lower part of the harness that he chewed up while we were gone last weekend, so it is loose). I head back inside and grab the leash, head collar, and some treats. The mail man drives off, and I decide to get serious. I follow as Glen trots into another neighbor's backyard. Ah ha! I might have him cornered! Nope, there is only fence on one side of this yard and Glen weaves back and forth between this yard and the one behind, sniffing everything in his path. I consider giving up again, but then he runs into another neighbor's yard, which I can see only has one opening and the rest is fenced. I follow after, whistling, showing him the treats, trying to convince him to come to me. He comes close, but hops away when I try to grab his collar. I realize that I'm going to really have to go for it the next chance I get. I station myself by the opening to the yard, and he passes by a few times before trying to dart through. I lunge for him, and feel the collar slip through my fingers as I fall to the ground, my foot sliding out of my shoe. Sweet Pea's head hits the ground too, although I'm doing everything I can to protect her body with mine. I hop back to my shoe on one foot. The other foot feels sore but I don't think much of it. Sweet Pea is sobbing as I pick grass and pine needles out of her hair, and I head back towards our house. Every swear word I know is running through my head, I am so mad at this dog, but I say only soothing words to Sweet Pea. Glen sees us leaving and runs up behind me to catch up. I put my hand down, and... easily grab his collar. I have to twist it around my finger to make it tight enough for him to not slip out, and he doesn't like being held this tightly but I know he can get away again if I don't. As we're about to cross the street back to our side, a UPS truck drives up and two guys jump down to take a package to a neighbor's house. Glen starts barking and lunging to chase after the delivery guys. I can't maintain my grip when he turns to chew my hand and his collar, and he once again slips away, this time leaving the collar in my hand. I yell out a SORRY! to the delivery men, and walk quickly back to my house, holding back tears. My crying begins as soon I get inside, just as Sweet Pea's starts to ebb. She seems confused by my sad face and strange noises, and just sits there with me for a few minutes. I think I might hear something at the door so I walk across the living room, and peek out but there is no sign of Glen. Heading back to the couch, I notice spots of blood all over the newly cleaned floor. Apparently I gouged it pretty badly when my foot slipped out of my shoe. I check it out in the bathroom, and see a big chunk of skin missing as I pick the dirt out, running my foot under water in the bathtub. After I've gotten all the blood off of the floor and rug and bandaged my foot, this story ends with a neighbor bringing Glen back (he ran into his house!). I know I'm supposed to welcome my dog back happily after something like this, so he thinks it's a good thing to come back to his owner, but it is so hard to be affectionate with him right now because I am so mad about hurting myself and my baby chasing after him and embarrassing myself in front of my neighbors and three delivery men. And remember my cold, and the cold weather, and the fact that we have a guest staying the night tonight. Ugh. Tomorrow has to be better, right? The worst thing might be that I can see that I brought most of this on myself: I forgot my keys, I didn't plan for the vacuum, I let Glen slip out when I opened the door, and I haven't fully trained him to come on command yet. Oh, so frustrating.

Tucson and Saguaro National Park

This post is to share some of my favorite photos from our recent trip to Tucson. It was different from any place I've ever been before, beautiful in a strange, dry way.




Monday, December 21, 2009

So, What IS a Serger Anyway?

A serger is a type of sewing machine that uses between two and four threads continuously, giving you a finished seam like the one you see on the inside of manufactured clothes. A regular sewing machine generally does a line of thread, always using two threads. Using a serger you will typically get a kind of a zig-zag appearance with thread on both sides and all the way around the edge of the fabric, but you can achieve a variety of types of stitches depending on the setting you choose. It is a very strong seam, and allows you to do just one pass through the machine per seam, avoiding multiple steps of folding and ironing, to get a finished edge that won't fray or unravel. Thanks to Ann for asking what a serger is!

Mine is a New Home MyLock 234D. Apparently it is made by Janome because that is what came up in Google Search when I typed that in. Unfortunately, I don't have the manual for it, but I do have the original receipt from when my grandmother bought it in the 90's! It seems similar to this Janome MyLock 204D Serger Overlock
at Amazon.

Here is an example of a serger seam, not perfect but OK:

And an example of a serger seam with something wrong with it. How do I fix this? I swear I have tried every single tension option on the machine. But isn't Sweet Pea's hand cute?

You can see I'm using my "cloth kleenex" as test fabric. It needed to be hemmed anyway and it doesn't matter to me if it's not pretty, as long as it doesn't unravel.

I used a friend's serger to do a set of napkins for myself about two years ago and they are still going strong. So, my first project on my own serger is napkins for friends and family. Since my last update I haven't made any more progress. We went out of town for a couple of days and have been very busy with holiday events and plans so I haven't had the chance to get any more napkins done. Tomorrow will be the day, hopefully. Cross your fingers for me because there are only a few more days until Chirstmas!

Lastly, just because I took a picture of it, here is all of the tangled thread I cut off the napkin fabrics after running them through the washer and dryer - always very important when you're making something that should be machine washable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Serge It!

A few days ago I finally took the time to try to get the serger going. I've had it for maybe two months now, and this was the first time I attempted running a piece of fabric through it. Well, it took a couple of hours to get the threads all going the right directions through their assorted slots, the tensions correct, and the stitch I wanted chosen, but now I want to serge everything! Got a loose seam? Serge it! An holiday project? Serge it! A cut on your finger? Well, maybe not, but you get the idea.

I have one set of napkins done and about half of my cloth "kleenex" edged, and have lots more to do before Christmas comes, including making Sweet Pea a stocking. I can't believe I didn't think of that until just last weekend!

Update: 12:30 AM
Got my second set of napkins done, cut the black and white ones, and decided that black thread would look better than the white I had been using. I thought I was really smart and changed out the thread color by tying the new thread to the old and pulling it through. Now it is all in the right holes, woven through the right parts of the machine, but I just CAN NOT get the tension right. The loops are way too loose, sticking out beyond the edge of the fabric. I have tried increasing the tension for each thread, one at a time, changing the differential feed number (I don't even know what that means but it is a knob on the side of the machine), and nothing is helping. Time to go to sleep and try again tomorrow.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Diapering My Active 9-Month-Old

Sweet Pea is a very active baby right now, working hard at becoming a toddler. She wants to move move move all the time, unless she is very tired. She pulls herself up to standing maybe a hundred times a day right now. This incessant activity makes it difficult to change her diaper at times. I blow raspberries on her tummy, hand her toys (usually safe ones unless I am desperate - nail clippers are OK, right?), and talk to her nonstop to try to get her to remain laying on her back. But she is like an alligator and can flip right over in half a second. So, I end up changing her while she kneels, while she crawls, while she stands, or while I hold her pinned in my lap. All of this means that diapers that are easy to put on are a top priority for us right now. Are we switching to disposables? Of course not! My love for cloth continues unabated, and I am just using a particular type of cloth diaper more often than before. I have found myself relying on my BumGenius 3.0 and other pocket diapers mostly because they are one step to put on, and have elastic in all the right places to fit snugly even with a rushed dressing. You can see them front and center in the photo of my changing table. I also want to use my snapping fitted diapers more right now, and think that wool longies would be a great match for the current cold temperatures around here. Unfortunately, I only have 5 fitted diapers (3 Goodmamas, which are super adorable and soft) right now and one pair of wool longies so that only gets us through about a half a day. Now I'm trying to decide, is it worth the cost to buy more fitteds and longies, or more BumGenius or similar pocket or AIO, or should I just tough it out through the wrestling matches when I run out of those types and need to use prefolds and covers, which take two steps? Making me lean more towards buying the fitteds and longies is how absolutely ADORABLE they are (check the Goodmama site, or Bagshot Row Bamboo for holiday prints), and the fact that Sweet Pea is hitting a new size right now and her 9 mos. clothes are no longer fitting, 12 mos. fits great but I bet not for much longer so we will need some new pants for her soon anyway. Soooo, should I start doing some online shopping? I can also make some recycled wool longies from some wool sweaters that I have and save myself a bundle. I have made soakers before that came out OK, so I might give it a shot. What do you think?

Here is Sweet Pea, age3.5 months old, in a cashmere soaker that I made for her.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dresser Painting Project Update

The weather here has been extra cold over the last week, so my dresser painting project is on hold for now. I had been painting in the garage with a heater, but the heater can't get the temperature high enough for the paint to work well (55 plus) with our freezing temperatures right now. Overall, I have really enjoyed using the paint sprayer, even though I have had a few frustrating times. Like, when I realized that not enough paint was spraying out because the air hole into the canister was clogged, after nearly an hour of working on it. So far, I have put on three thin coats of primer and two thin coats of paint. The original stain color (shown here <-- )underneath is still showing through a little, even with all of that paint, so I have a few more coats to go, I think. The color comes through the most on the parts where I sanded all the way through the top finish, but didn't sand down to bare wood. It seems as if the stain is able to seep up through the paint in these areas, giving it a pink tinge. Hopefully I'll be able to get that covered up soon. I have also been able to paint our quilt stand (just two coats worked) and the frame of a bulletin board, so far.

The dresser drawers, primed but not painted.

My refreshed bulletin board, ready to go up on the wall above my sewing table.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Potty Time

I first learned of elimination communication from a New York Times article, back in 2005. This was well before I had even begun planning a pregnancy, but I found the concept fascinating. The basic idea is that you work with your baby's signals and daily rhythm and establish cues for him or her, and can begin using a potty for elimination, from birth onward. Some people completely avoid diapers with their babies, but more common is using a potty at the same time as using diapers. Diaper Free Baby has this explanation: "This practice is followed worldwide and is known as Elimination Communication, Natural Infant Hygiene, and Infant Potty Training. The process involves observing one's baby's signs and signals, providing cue sounds and elimination-place associations, and can be done with or without any diaper use." There seem to be many benefits to this practice, including health (less diaper rash), environmental (fewer diaper changes),  and connection to your baby. Natural Birth and Baby Care describes elimination communication as "a natural and wonderful way to respond to your baby's elimination needs." According to this site, it can be "deeply satisfying and helps build an intense bond with your infant."

We started putting our baby on the potty (the little green thing on the right side of the above photo) about three weeks ago. Right now Sweet Pea is consistently using the potty for pee whenever I offer it, which is usually two times a day, and we've caught two poos now too! I had always been drawn to this idea, but up until recently had felt like it was too daunting to try. Then I realized that Sweet Pea always pees right after waking so it felt easy to put her on the potty at those time, when I'd be changing her diaper anyway. I knew she was going after waking because I always change her diaper first thing in the morning because it is wet from overnight (haven't changed a diaper during the night since about 5 weeks old), and then it would always be wet again as soon as I checked it. I started checking earlier and earlier and realized she was going very quickly after I re-diapered her, i.e. very quickly after waking. A week or two ago I bought the BABYBJĂ–RN Little Potty. Before that I was sitting her sideways on the toilet, but she got too distracted by the toilet paper and grabbing the lid. Now she sits on her potty on the floor, facing the toilet, which I'm sitting on. I say psss psss pss, and am trying to remember to do the hand sign for toilet too. Sometimes she tries to crawl off and I hand her a catalog (notice J. Crew on the floor) to play with until I hear her go. If there's nothing after 2-3 minutes, I pick her up and diaper and dress her then. She's only NOT gone pee maybe 5 times total since we've started doing this. I am super happy because this saves me at least 1 diaper per day, and I feel like she likes it. I'd like to use the potty with her more and more, but don't expect her to be out of diapers for a quite a while.

To get started, some people spend a day or a weekend without a diaper, (or if your baby is in cloth you can just go without a cover), so that they get to know about how often the baby goes and can give the baby the cue when they catch them going. During this time, you can determine how often and at what times your child typically goes so that you'll be more likely to have success when you do offer the potty. This also helps the baby to recognize the sensation of eliminating so that they can exercise control with it, which is something that disposable-diapered infants may have more trouble with, initially. I didn't do the no-diaper thing, but we might try going cover-less this spring when the weather is warmer.

What do you think? Is this something you would try with your baby? Or if you have tried it, how did it go?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Growing Up

There was a part of me that felt that after Sweet Pea was born, I was going to be parenting a baby for the rest of my life. I just accepted the that idea that my life from now on was going to include wearing nursing bras, carrying a diaper bag everywhere, and waking up at night. I wouldn't go on rafting trips, mountain bike rides, or do anything else that a baby couldn't come along with me to do. How odd is that? Well, my baby is starting to get older. I can see glimpses of toddlerhood in our future. She is now pulling herself up, playing with toys, eating food, and interacting more than ever. I keep having the realization that, hey, she's going to keep changing and growing forever! This little baby phase is extremely short! Of course, I have heard that a million times, even said myself "they grow so fast!" But somehow I had to get to this age before I could really really see it myself.

Maybe this is why strangers are so compelled to come talk to me when I take Sweet Pea out. It's like, once you have a baby, you feel like you are forever, a "parent of a baby" and feel a kinship with other people with a baby. Also, she is extremely cute. Also, people are naturally drawn to babies. It's part of evolution, or so I've heard.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baby/Puppy Relations Update

For about the first 6 weeks of owning a puppy, I felt exhausted at the end of each day, frustrated at my lack of skills at dog-training, and guilty for not having gotten more done. Well, Glen is over 5 months old now, we have had him for over two months, and life seems to be getting back to normal. I have time to do some cleaning and some relaxing with Sweet Pea nearly every day, I have time in the evenings for projects (update on the dresser painting to come soon!), and Glen is behaving well for the most part. Phew!

Just in the last 2 weeks we have gotten to the point where I totally trust him to be good with Sweet Pea, enough for me to leave the two of them on the floor and walk out of the room briefly. He still occasionally licks her face or mouths her feet, but much more gently than before, and for the most part he just lets her do anything without reacting. She has climbed over him, pulled his ears and tail, and taken his toys and food. He takes it all in stride, although he does seem grateful when I pick her up and give him back his toys. I am so glad that he seems to be becoming a dog who is good with children! It took quite a bit of work, but he has accepted her as above him in the pack order. Now we just need to work on cats... haha!

Sweet Pea definitely loves him, too, which is one reason we decided to get a dog in the first place. She has always gotten really excited whenever she sees a dog. Even now, she will squeal happily when he comes into the room if we haven't been with him for a while. She sneaks her food to him under the table, and pats him. It seems like 9 months old is too young for this behavior but I swear she does it!

Here are a few photos of our two babies together:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Green Holiday Plans

The winter months can be a lot of fun with all of the celebration, visiting, and gifts. However, they can also be quite expensive and these fun activities and traditions can create lots of unnecessary waste. Here are a few of the plans my husband and I have made to cut down on our spending and waste this holiday season.

  • Gifts: Nearly everyone in our family, and several friends, will be getting a jar (or two) of pepper jelly that we made over the summer or fall. This is nearly free to us, besides the money invested in the garden beds, and the jars. In addition, I am making cloth napkins for immediate family. I picked out some fun patterned fabrics, and will be using my new (to me) serger to trim the edges. I made a set of napkins for us a couple of years ago and have loved using them so much! This gift is economical for us, but has lasting value for the recipient and also helps them to create less waste from paper. Baby's first Christmas can be a tempting time to buy lots of new toys, but we have decided we'll be getting her just one main item for under the tree and will focus on spending time together rather than buying lots.
  • Wrapping: We have committed to not buying any additional wrapping materials this year, and will be using the ends of rolls from previous years, re-using bags and ribbons, or wrapping in fabric.
  • Travel: This is probably our weakest area, as we typically drive all over the state in December. This year we are taking one trip by plane before Christmas and one car trip afterward, but will be spending the actual day at our own house. We're really looking forward to seeing all of our family and couldn't give up these trips, but will do our best to carpool with relatives when we can. We are lucky to live in a place that doesn't get too cold for walking and biking, and will continue to try to do some commuting and errands by bike or by foot. Today I returned a movie while on a walk with the baby and dog!

What are your favorite tips for saving money or reducing waste? Share with me!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

White "Green" Painting

Today we made a big purchase: a 26-gallon air compressor and a paint sprayer kit. I'm going to paint a dresser for Sweet Pea's room, and I have a nearly unlimited number of other projects in mind that I can now tackle with more confidence of a good outcome. The idea is that I will achieve a smooth, professional finish. That's the hope at least. I have never used a paint sprayer or air brush before so this is all in theory right now. I was inspired to try my hand at spray gun painting by the impressive DIY feats of fellow blogger Michelle of Three Men and a Lady.

While we did spend a bundle on those two items, and the no-VOC paint I got as well, we're hopeful that in the long run this will save us money: I can paint a cheap used dresser and make it look nice rather than buying one new, I can paint the desk we have and spruce it up rather than buying a new one, and eventually I can paint our kitchen cabinets while we save to re-do our kitchen, probably years from now. A few of the other projects I have in mind include: 2 bookshelves, the frame of a bulletin board, a plant stand, the futon frame, and Sweet Pea's toddler bed. Most of these items are currently untreated or stained wood, and are all different shades and in various states of needing attention. Really, the cheapest, greenest thing to do would be to just leave everything as is, but I want my home to look nice and my furniture to look better than it does. I think painting, and a few new drawer pulls, is the best option for improvement. In addition to painting, the air compressor has many other uses, including airing up tires, powering an impact wrench or a nail gun, or lots of other tools. Average has wanted one for a long time so this was an exciting purchase for both of us.

To get started with my projects, I picked out a gallon of white, actually "Grace's Smile" is the name of the color, non-toxic paint. I bought it from the local Green Store. I wish I had known about this product when we first moved into our house. I was pregnant at the time and nervous about being exposed to paint fumes, so Average (with the help of some friends and family) did all of the interior painting before we moved in. He painted all three bedrooms and the ceilings in the entire house without any assistance from me at all-- what a guy, right? The house still smelled like paint for weeks, or maybe even longer. Well, the Green Store stocks two brands of low-odor paint, Yolo and Mythic, and Mythic is completely non-toxic and no-VOC. They are substantially more expensive than traditional paint (the gallon of Mythic that I bought cost $47.95), but I think the cost is worth it, especially since my first project is a dresser that will go in my infant's bedroom. You can get Mythic mixed to any color you want, even from another brand's color swatch!

Look for more posts to come as I begin work on the dresser, etc. The puppy is finally getting easy to manage, most of the time, so I may actually have some free time for projects again. Of course, the holidays are coming up so that means more events and travel for us so I'm not exactly sure when I'm going to be able to get started. I also have a post in mind about our holiday gifts and how we're saving money, being more environmentally responsible, and hopefully also giving more meaningful gifts this year.

Please let me know if you have any tips on using a paint sprayer, or on furniture remodeling in general. As always, all comments are welcome!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Big Plans for the Garden

This fall I hired a garden planner, Villa Verde Garden Designs, to do a plan for the backyard. I decided to do this after a few months of mentally planning, but always feeling unsure of where to start, how much of what materials to buy, and nervous about wasting money with mistakes. With a plan laid out, we know what the final outcome will be and we can do portions of it as we have the money and time, without worrying that putting one thing in is going to screw up something I'm going to want later. I also wanted help with sizes of things from someone who has more experience with gardens than me. The completed plans, delivered to us on a large paper, fully scaled for accurate dimensions, include a path, a couple of border flower beds, tearing down and rebuilding the current raised beds and adding several more. Our planner, Leah, knew to do things I might not have thought of like designing the new beds to be sizes that you can buy boards so we won't have any waste, and with big enough spaces between each one to fit a wheelbarrow. She gave us two options for layout, and included detailed views of how to put together a stable path that will last. She also included a list of local suppliers that have good prices for our building materials, and a list of plantings for the border beds. I would highly recommend this service if you're planning making a major change to your yard, or if you're just unsure about what plants to add to your space. We got our plan and all of the advice for a very reasonable rate, and I am thrilled to be adding to our vegetable garden and beautifying our backyard. I hope to document our progress on this blog as we begin making changes.

We got a puppy shortly after we got the final plan and sadly haven't done a single thing to the back yard since then. But, yesterday I did manage to dig up the entire front border of our front yard, remove the plastic sheeting, add a little bit of soil, and plant 130 bulbs! I am so excited to see them come up this spring! I also planted a lovely climbing rose next to our walkway. My long-term plans for the front yard include adding several lavenders and another climbing plant along the walkway and some wild-flowers next to the curb. As part of doing this I will be taking out all of the plastic that is currently in the border beds of our yard, under an inch or two of wood/bark chip. I hate plastic sheeting! While it does a pretty good job of minimizing weeds for a couple of years, it breaks down in the ground over time, losing functionality and turning into plastic flakes in your soil. This is not the kind of material that I want where I am trying to grow things.

In the back yard, we didn't plant a fall/winter garden this year, so we are pretty much done with harvesting for 2009. . . although there are still a couple of peppers out there that we never picked because we had such an amazing bumper crop of peppers. We ate peppers in salads, in sauces, and in burritos. I cooked more stuffed peppers this summer than in all other years combined, and we made many batches of pepper jelly, which will be one of our main gifts for Christmas this year.

Remaining to do in the back yard before it is really ready for winter: prune the raspberries, remove the dead, dried out plants, stir the compost pile, and add mulch to the raised beds.

So we have lots of big plans, now we just need to find the time to do the work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Puppy's Sweet Side

The sweetest things about our puppy:

He won't go to bed until we all go to bed. That means that if I am bouncing the baby in the office while daddy is asleep, he will come lay near me and won't go to his crate until I go in to bed too.

The way he crosses his ears over the top of his head when he is concerned or paying attention REALLY hard.

The way he lays down if I give a command he doesn't understand - like that's the utmost he can do, is this what I'm asking for?

The way he licks toes.

How he now associates me getting peanut butter out with him going in his crate, so he jogs down the hallway ahead of me and gets inside, ready for his treat.

The way he tries to crawl onto my lap when I sit on the ground.

The way his kisses make Sweet Pea laugh and laugh!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nursing in Public

How do you feel about nursing in public? Before I had a baby, I felt a bit conflicted about it. Now, after having a baby, and nursing in public myself at least once a week... I still feel a bit conflicted.

My internal conflict isn't about whether or not it should be allowed or how women should go about it. I firmly believe that every mom should have the right to feed her baby in any location at any time, no questions asked. I also believe that women should simply do it in the way that works best for their babies, without regard for the "comfort" of those around them. It is natural and healthy and therefore should be a non-issue. However, even I (called a nudist by my husband for my tendency to wander around the house naked) have some hang-ups about exposing my breasts in public. Why? I don't know, probably because of this up-tight, patriarchal society I come from. Again, intellectually I think it's totally great and should be totally acceptable, but I find myself looking at other women nursing in public, curious about how they do it, how they hold the baby, what clothes work for them, are they comfortable, are other people staring, etc. Then, I think, "Oh no, am I making her uncomfortable because I just realized that I am the one staring?!"

So here, is my conflict: I WANT to be totally comfortable doing it, but I'm not always actually comfortable, even though I try to act like I am. Things that help me to feel the most relaxed about it are if I have on a nursing tank so my belly isn't exposed, and if I have a cloth tucked in to catch any stray sprays or drips. I also appreciate it if those around me just continue to interact with me normally, rather than totally looking away. I own a nursing cover/"hooter-hider" thing, but I've only used it a handful of times because I have never gotten the hang of it where it feels like it makes things any easier. The few times that I did use it I was in a position where I felt very exposed, for instance facing out into a crowded restaurant, and I wasn't wearing clothes that were very conducive to nursing. I know some people that love them, but it just has never worked very well for us to cover Sweet Pea up while she's trying to eat. Now that Sweet Pea is older she can figure out how to latch on in nearly any position, with only a small portion of my breast exposed, and she is very efficient at getting the milk, so it is much much easier to get the job done quickly than the early months. Although of course now that she is older she also squirms and gets distracted by people around us more, so I still sometimes try to find a quieter, private area to nurse. For this reason, I believe that nursing rooms should be available in more public places. NOT because women should have to hide themselves or worry about other people's comfort, but just because it can be easier to get the job done when you have a comfortable chair in a quiet location.

As she grows, I also wonder how I'll feel about nursing an older baby in public. Will I feel more uncomfortable because I'll be concerned about being judged for nursing a toddler, or less uncomfortable because I'll have so much experience by then?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Costumery

The winning idea this year was: Super Mario Bros. family!
I was Princess Peach
Average was Mario
Sweet Pea was Toadstool

We sewed blue overalls for Average out of some heavy "duck" fabric we found at JoAnn's, got heavy red fabric for the hat, and bought a red shirt at Value Village. I found a pink prom-style dress for myself at the village too, a pink silky robe that I modified with PUFFY sleeves, and we bought a wand and a crown to complete my outfit. Sweet Pea's costume was the simplest: a mushroom hat and a matching vest. I thought this would be good for her because at 8 months old, she isn't that patient for clothing changes, and I wanted her to remain fully mobile and comfortable. My sewing machine held up through all of the sewing of the heavy fabrics and the fluffy fabrics and the silky robe thing, but it is starting to go slower it seems. (Hmm, maybe it's time for another oiling and cleaning? I better make sure it's in good shape because this year for Christmas I am planning to try to make most of my gifts.)

Average is already thinking of ideas for next Halloween, and we were definitely inspired by some of our friends' creativity as well. I can't wait for Sweet Pea to get excited about Halloween too!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Diaper Mentor

Once again, this post is part of the Cloth Diaper Carnival, hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.

In my high school, all students had to take a personal finance class. For the most part, the class was pretty ridiculous, trying to "teach" concepts that are either common sense, or vary greatly family to family. One of the more useful projects we were assigned was to make a family budget, after randomly drawing a job and salary. The budget was to be based on a variety of lifestyle choices, including type of home, car, food choices, and diapers. One choice that I remember was my partner and I deciding to use a combination of cloth and disposable diapers, thinking that it would be too difficult to use cloth all the time but that we could save money by using cloth.

I probably didn't think about diapers decisions again until a little less than two years ago, when I went to a baby shower for my friend, Wendy, who was planning to exclusively cloth diaper her first baby. Her friend passed on a brand of diapers that she wanted to the guests, and listed where you could order them online. This was the first time that I was introduced to the "new" all-in-one and pocket-style cloth diapers. They look much like disposables, but with nice colored fabric, and function just as easily in terms of putting them on and taking them off of the baby. I thought they were pretty cool, and was interested to see that there were more options to the diapering choice than I had been aware of.

Months later, that same friend came to stay with us for a few days, with her husband and new baby. They cloth diapered while traveling, and used our washer to do a load of diapers. She had a cute wooden basket that the diapers were neatly folded in, a cute hand-made diaper bag, and cute wet bags too. Wow, I thought, who knew that diapers and their accessories could be so... cute!! I also saw how entirely do-able it was to travel with cloth. From then on, I knew that I would use cloth diapers with our baby and it became one of the things that I looked forward to about having a baby, too.

So thank you, Wendy, for being the first to show me the light and expose me to cloth diapers for our generation. I talked to Wendy about this post and she says she knows at least 10 people who have started using cloth diapers since she began -- what an inspiration!

Folding diapers in our laundry room during a visit this summer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hoping No One Saw Me

Sweet Pea is in the midst of a possible Nap Schedule Transition, AND her First Illness (a cold). After three attempts at laying her down to sleep for a nap today, I finally gave up when it got WAY past her normal time for a first nap and got her to fall asleep in the ERGO. So, I had been sitting and reading blogs while she slept and occasionally snored. She had been resting for a while, when I noticed the time. I knew the mail-person would be coming soon and there was a bill that I needed to mail today, so I decided to slip on some warmer clothes and walk the block to the mailbox with Sweet Pea in the carrier. The clothes that I could find that I could add to my outfit without disturbing her were: my husband's black fleece vest, a large green knitted blanket, my heeled clogs, and a red baseball cap. This was over a pair of jeans, rolled up at the cuff, and a bright pink t-shirt. I tucked the blanket around myself and Sweet Pea and into the ERGO to keep her arms and bare feet warm. I was about halfway back down our block (in the rain) when Sweet Pea stirred, and I looked down and realized the blanket had fallen and was hanging from only my waist now, looking like a ridiculous skirt. I don't know how long it was like that, and even when it was properly positioned I'm pretty sure I looked like a crazy person with a giant growth on my front. I'm just glad no one else was at the mailbox at the same time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Clothesline Weather

I finally finished a little project that I'd had in process all summer long — a clothespin bag. Just in time for the rainy season. I did get to use it once before rolling our line up for the year, but the clothes still had to go into the dryer for a few minutes to get totally dry.

I found the pattern online here. The directions were pretty good, and have nice little thumbnail photos to go with them. The only difficult part to understand was which side you sew the seam on before folding over to the button part, but that part is hidden so I decided it didn't really matter. I used a fabric square that I had bought about a year ago because I liked the colors. The buttons were ones I had in my button box already, and the ribbon was left over from a gift that was nicely wrapped. In August, I embroidered this little design on the front, although it's hard to see in the photo. About a week or two ago, I finally finished it. I currently have the bag hanging from a clothes hanger, but it can also hang directly on the line, which is one reason I chose this pattern. I like the look of this one too, though.

I'm so excited for clothesline weather to come back! I do enjoy the fall for the lovely leaves, and winter for the holidays and snow activities, but spring and summer are really my favorite because I hate being cold, which I am all the time, and I love being outside. It just feels so nice to hang the laundry out to dry on the line and get that sunshiney smell, and know that you are saving electricity and money. I think this clothespin bag is going to make hanging my laundry out even more enjoyable than before. This may be my favorite trick for making chores fun: making something cute to use with them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lessons of Parenting

A few things that being a parent has taught me:
  • Never pass up an opportunity for a nap.
  • Take time to play.
  • Don't stress about your to-do list. There's always tomorrow.
  • All babies are different. They will all sit up, eat, crawl, sleep through the night, walk, and talk at different times, and that is OK.
  • If you forgot to bring wipes or a wet bag, the baby will probably poop.
  • If you thought you were going to be early, you still might not even make it on time.
  • Whatever gets the most worry will not actually happen; something else you never even considered probably will.
  • It's the truth when people say "they grow so fast," so try to appreciate every moment.

Moments like this....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baby Eats More

Over the last couple of weeks our baby has eaten pieces of apple, corn, tortilla, peas, cracker, banana, sweet potato, yams, cheerios, pear, and dry leaves from the ground. We gave her everything except the leaves, which she found by herself. She still seems to prefer feeding herself by tightly grasping the item in her right hand and biting (two bottom teeth now!) or licking, but she will accept food from a spoon or from my fingers, finally! Sweet Pea shows that she's ready for more food by opening her mouth and sticking out her tongue, and then she makes funny faces as she gums the food around before swallowing, bounces in her seat a little bit, then opens her mouth for more.

At seven-and-a-half months old, she is finally truly ready to eat. Now, will I get some more sleep at night if I feed her more during the day? I've heard that this was a myth, so we shall see.

We went to the pumpkin patch this weekend and carved up a bunch of pumpkins, now I keep thinking about pumpkin pie! I can't wait for Thanksgiving this year, so much to be thankful for, plus I have a huge appetite right now since I'm still breastfeeding my 20-pound baby, and taking two walks a day to get my puppy exercise. Turkey, mashed potatoes, yams with marshmallow, green beans, and pie pie pie! It's going to be so much fun feeding Sweet Pea all the good holiday food, now that she is REALLY eating and enjoying it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Our Dog Glendovere

Our dog, Glen, was born on June 30, and we brought him home on September 18. He has been a joy and a LOT of work. You know when you tell yourself that something's going to be hard, and then it actually IS hard, and you go "Oh yeah, this is what hard really feels like, not as pleasant as I remembered it." That's pretty much what happened. I thought I could handle hard, and sometimes I can, and sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind. Those first two weeks, it was kind of like I went back to the state I was in when Sweet Pea was just a few weeks old, and everything I was doing felt new and I was uncertain and super-duper-constantly vigilant to make sure that he wasn't chewing or eating something he wasn't supposed to and that he wasn't peeing in the house and that I let him out often enough. It also feels kind of like a combination of being a parent, and being a teacher. I have to learn how to mentally keep track of times of things (food, potty, sleep, play) for another being's needs, and respond lovingly to those needs, like a parent, and also teach myself consistency in my words, responses, and expectations, just like with teaching. So yeah, this raising a puppy thing is hard.

The last few days, walks with Glen were extra difficult. I had really thought he was learning and getting pretty good with it, and then two days ago he was just a wild beast the whole time. And yesterday again I had a very tired arm at the end of the walk. There were squirrels, there were leaves blowing in the wind, there were cats and strange smells and cars driving by and he wanted to go see and sniff ALL of it, all at once. Today was a lot better. I waited until after I fed him lunch, and led him around the house on his leash a bit before we went outside and he was much, much calmer. Also, I think that several people must have just fertilized their lawns in the last few days because he had been acting crazy, prancing and sniffing like mad at some of the nicer patches of lawn that we walked by, but today it only happened once and I could see little fertilizer pellets in the lawn. That stuff must have some kind of powerful scent that I don't notice. I wonder if Glen has a hound in his ancestry?

Glendovere Harley Peck is named after a golf course in Portland, Oregon, but we spell it differently. More explanation will come later. In the meantime, here some pictures of our very cute puppy.

Can you see the baby peering out from her pack n play in the background?

Yes, they love each other.
Glen rides in the back foot-well of the car. We connect his leash (attached to his harness) to the bottom frame of the seat. Sometimes he likes to stretch out.

One of Glen's favorite spots in the house for napping is beneath the futon in our TV room.

All bundled up and getting ready for bed.

Final question: why do babies prefer dog toys and dogs prefer baby toys?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Win a Year of Childcare!

I recently discovered this website when I was trying to figure out average rates for childcare in my local area. I even forwarded the URL to the members of my parenting group. Then, yesterday I got an email from an employee of the website asking if I would mention their giveaway in my blog. Sure! I think this is a good site for information, and for connecting with care providers in your area.

So, here it is: is hosting a giveaway for $12,455—that's how much the average family spends on child care each year. To enter, all you have to do is sign up for a free membership to the site. This is for people who don't even have kids, too. They list services for childcare, pet care, senior care, special needs, tutoring and lessons, and housekeeping! Probably anyone could use at least one of those services, right? Good luck! Contest ends October 9.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Four Factors for Change

I've been contemplating for a while: why did I make some changes this year that I never did before? Why do I feel so open to change right now, rather than any other time? It seems to me that several factors can influence us, and the more that are in play at once, the more likely we are to change.

Factors for change that I've come up with so far:
1. natural changes of life: birth, death, marriage, new job, move
It takes mental and sometimes physical energy to change a habit. When you are already in the mode of change, introducing other new things into your life is much easier. Moving into a new house, a new neighborhood, or a new town can have tremendous impact, and so can having a baby. I've experienced both of these firsthand and have seen how my life changed in more ways than just the initially intended one.
2. influence of friends, family and neighbors
Perhaps the most important factor. It is completely reasonable to me that the more people who are around you doing something, the more comfortable you will be doing that same thing. For instance, in high school I would never ever ride my bike to school, even though I lived fairly close to school and knew that it would be good for me, my bank account, and the environment. There were only one or two students in my whole school who commuted by bike so I would have felt odd, out of place, and uncomfortable. However, in college I started riding my bike more often because I was at a school where it was pretty much the norm to commute by bike. Now, I think, I have matured beyond my high school self and would still do things that I think are right even if they're not common. Hmm, or would I? Riding a bike is seen as pretty cool in Eugene, where I live, and at some parties/functions/locations, it would actually be MORE socially acceptable to pull up on a bike than in a car.
3. information/research
In my experience, this will only influence someone to make a change if they were already leaning towards the change or are frustrated with the status quo (#4, below). There is some research (which I wasn't able to quickly find again, sorry folks) that shows that information nearly always makes people feel more strongly about their current opinion, regardless of whether the information is in agreement with that opinion. For instance, when I was learning about cloth diapers, I pretty much ignored any sources that said that they're not really environmentally superior to disposables because I simply did not believe it, and assumed that those sources were backed by the diaper companies. I am planning an analysis of these sources and studies for a future post, FYI.
4. frustration with "the way things are"
Sometimes just getting annoyed with something is enough to make you change. It may be getting tired of being overweight or sick, it may be a feeling that you're missing out on something. From my experience, paired with this usually has to be some new information or opportunity for change. When I started no-pooing, I had already read and heard a lot about parabens in personal beauty products, and was wanting to avoid them, but tired of spending so much money for the more "natural" shampoos, which didn't always smell nice or seem to work that well. I was ripe for the information and had time to invest in preparing to make the change.

The rare example of making lifestyle changes is someone like "No Impact Man" who made a drastic change to totally eliminate his negative environmental impact, albeit only for one year. This kind of change is worthy of writing a book or making a movie about it, which he did. Most of us however, just make changes as they work for us. Like my friend Abby from New Urban Habitat pointed out in her comment on my green life and ungreen vices post, thriftiness is often a great motivator. So, this recession is possibly quite good for our planet, in addition to being good for our health (I learned this where I learn most things these days: the radio). There are lots of "green challenges" and "health challenges" out there in the blogosphere right now, but I haven't joined any. Maybe they are a good thing because they play on factor number 2, the influence of others, to help motivate members to change.

For me right now, composting, recycling, growing vegetables, no-pooing, cloth diapering, and breastfeeding are all just a normal part of my life, no big thing. However, going car-free, giving up plastic, or eating only local and/or organic would be pretty big changes, and seem quite daunting to me at this point in my life. I'd like to go more in that direction, but I don't have the mental or physical energy to devote to those changes right now. Maybe when my puppy stops chewing everything....

What do you think? How do you decide to make a change for the better? Maybe you wouldn't even consider the things I've listed as "for the better," but are there any changes you've been thinking about but haven't had the drive to get going on yet? What would make a difference?

Saturday, October 3, 2009


It's October, which means it's time for wearing rain coats, going to the corn maze, and planning our Halloween costumes. The top two schemes in the running so far:

1. Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Sweet Pea
2. A storm trooper, Princess Leia, and Yoda

Number 2 is what we did last year, so we already have the costumes, but we didn't have a baby to be Yoda, and we didn't go to any parties.

Sorry for the low quality photo, but here is the Princess Leia costume I made last year to fit my pregnant body.

So, which idea is better? Or do you have any other suggestions for fun family costumes? Thanks in advance!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Top Twos for Advice

My top two sources of online information about breastfeeding:
La Leche League International resources page

My top two forums for person-to-person advice on breastfeeding, and all things related to parenting:

My top two books on breastfeeding and baby care:

My top two books on birth:

I really value having sources that I trust for information to go to whenever I have a question or a doubt about something. Yes, I can do a Google search, but having done online research on medical topics before, I know how hard it can be sometimes to figure out if I've found a valid expert, or just someone's opinion, and it can also be hard to tell if the advice I'm getting is really in line with my overall philosophies. All of the sources listed above meet my requirements for positive, pro-attachment, expert advice. Of course, the forums are not purely experts but the parents on these two generally have a similar perspective, and you can often tell what's good advice by how many "seconds" an idea gets. I have gotten help from the moms at DiaperSwappers countless times when I was worried about my nursing latch, my milk supply, or my baby's sleep.

What are your favorite sources for parenting advice?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On the Road With Cloth Diapers

To date, Sweet Pea has never worn a disposable diaper. Before she was born, I thought I would want to use cloth most of the time, but that it would be too much of a hassle to use while traveling so she would go in disposables on the road. Thanks in part to a friend from out of town who visited us while using cloth on her baby (you're awesome, Wendy!), I started to think maybe it wouldn't be that much trouble after all. So far, Sweet Pea has worn cloth everywhere we've gone, from two-hour road trips, to ten-hour cross-country trips by airplane, to three-day camping trips, and everything in between. I have changed her on the trunk of our car, in my lap, on the floor at the airport, on the ground on a towel, and on changing tables in public restrooms. I would say it is probably a little more difficult than using disposables, but totally worth it to me not to have to spend extra money to use plastic and chemicals on my baby's bum.
This is a photo of our camp-site from when we went "car-camping" last May. You can see the diaper pail by the back wheel of the car.

When we travel, I think about how many hours we'll be on the road, estimate a diaper change every two hours, and then pack a couple extra. I generally prefer to travel with all-in-one or pre-stuffed pocket diapers for the convenience of one-step changes, although they are a bit bulkier to pack than simple pre-folds and covers. We bring our cloth wipes, a squirt bottle of water (actually my peri bottle from post-partum), and a wet bag. I have two large Planet Wise wet bags, and one medium Goodmama's. They are all zipper closure, which I prefer. If we are going to be away from home for several days I either pack all three wet bags (like for flying), or one to two wet bags and our actual diaper pail (for driving trips). So far, I haven't had anyone question me about washing our diapers in their washer, and we have even used laundromats a couple of times (recently at the coast when we stayed in a hotel, and on our camping trip on the second day when we went into town to eat at a restaurant). One time Average used the laundromat washer without even putting any soap in. He figured that there was probably enough soap residue left in the washers, and the diapers came out looking and smelling clean!

Recommendations for traveling with cloth:
  • bring plenty of diapers
  • think ahead about when and where you will do your wash
  • bring flushable liners for flights in case of poo (even though the zipper seals in the smells pretty well, I'd rather not have to deal with it)
  • you might want to bring a small container of your own laundry soap

Now go for it! Don't be scared, it's just like using cloth at home. And, if you run into any trouble, you can always buy disposables, but you probably won't need to.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Won a Giveaway!

I recently won my first giveaway since entering the blogosphere. It is so exciting! Thanks Beth, at Happily Domestic for hosting this giveaway and choosing my entry.

Just yesterday, my "prize"  arrived: the Baby Dipper. We used it today and I am very pleased. It does as promised, doesn't slide around on the table, and is easy to use with one hand, with the food naturally collecting at the deeper corner of the triangular bowl. My hands were too messy while feeding Sweet Pea to take a picture of it in use, but here is a photo of the product with its package. My only complaint so far is that I wish it didn't have this type of plastic packaging. Overall, though, it seems like a neat product idea. Average had a few choice jokes about the shape and dimensions of the bowl being similar to a product for men, which I'm not going to repeat here, but the triangular shape and sloped bottom really make sense to me. Sweet Pea did more spoon and food grabbing than actual eating, as I expected, but I think I'm going to keep trying, offering her both finger foods and pureed foods every couple of days.

I have been thinking of hosting my own giveaway sometime soon. My initial thought was a BumGenius Organic diaper, since I have one that I love, and it exemplifies all of the positive traits of cloth diapering (ease, fit, environmentally friendly) besides price. This is one expensive diaper, but excellent if you can afford it. So, does anyone have any suggestions for a great giveaway item? And, advice about how to get a business to sponsor this giveaway for me? Do you have a product I could help you promote? Comment and let me know!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Day in the Life

I had been thinking about this topic idea for a while, and since we got a puppy I feel like my daily life has gotten even more crazy. So here is a post about a day in the life of Mommy and Sweet Pea.
  • Puppy Glen and baby Sweet Pea wake up a couple of times through the night; baby nurses, Average takes puppy outside to potty
  • Glen wakes up for good in the morning and has his morning meal after potty outside
  • Sweet Pea wakes up and has her morning meal (nursing) and then first diaper change of the day
  • Mommy eats breakfast and does some dishes
  • Glen goes potty outside again
  • Mommy and Sweet Pea play together while Glen plays outside
  • Nurse Sweet Pea
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • All take a walk together
  • Mommy checks email, reads blogs, while (hopefully) Sweet Pea naps
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Take Glen potty
  • Lunch for Glen, then Mommy, then Sweet Pea
  • Try to do some housecleaning: laundry, sweep, etc.
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Take Glen potty
  • Errands or visits to friends
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Get Sweet Pea to take a nap (usually includes nursing)
  • Take Glen potty
  • Hopefully Glen naps
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Play time or walk for us all again
  • Nurse Sweet Pea
  • Start to make dinner
  • Take Glen potty
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Email/online time for Mommy
  • Feed Glen
  • Nurse Sweet Pea
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Take Glen potty
  • Finish making dinner
  • Eat with Average
  • Household chores: dishes, fold laundry etc.
  • Feed Glen
  • Take Glen potty
  • Play with Sweet Pea
  • Glen goes to bed
  • Get Sweet Pea ready for bed: bath, storytime, night-time diaper
  • Nurse Sweet Pea to sleep
  • TV or reading time for Mommy and Average
  • Mommy and Average shower
  • Bedtime
That is actually kind of my ideal day, and is pretty much how today went, except I did my walk before my errands, instead of after, and Average was home this morning and put together a stew so I didn't have to cook tonight. However, tomorrow the tree service comes to prune our fruit trees, and there is something going on pretty much every day for the next week or so. So, the reality of my life is more typically like what happened yesterday.

I went to a festival at our local recycling facility (where my dad was playing music). On the drive home Sweet Pea started crying - sobbing actually. By the time we arrived I was desperate to get her inside and comforted. I paused for only about 30 seconds to try to get Glen to go potty, then rushed into the house, dog in tow. I grabbed my cell phone as I sat down with Sweet Pea, and saw that I had missed 12 "alerts" (calls or text messages). I remembered that I had an appointment that afternoon and was supposed to call back about it, and my phone was almost out of battery. I tried to sit in my bedroom with Sweet Pea latched on nursing, while I charged my phone and checked my messages at the same time. I glanced into the hallway, and saw.... Glen peeing on the floor! Gah! Oh no! In that moment I felt totally overwhelmed. Every time I moved Sweet Pea started crying again. I prioritized, put down the cell phone, pulled Glen into his crate to avoid tracking the pee around, and sat down in my rocking chair with Sweet Pea. I heard my phone beeping more messages and Glen barking and whining from the next room, but I knew I needed to nurse her before anything else. Once she was finally asleep, I put her down, cleaned up the pee, then let Glen out and took him outside. Whew. Just with a baby I thought my life felt chaotic, and now I have added another element. Am I crazy?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Ever-Changing Nature of Breastfeeding, Or, Nursing a 6-Month-Old

I haven't posted for a few days because we got a new puppy and I've been busy learning all about dog training. Life with a puppy and a baby will be a future post topic. Also, I had already written 3/4 of a post on this topic (changing nature of breastfeeding) but somehow erased it when I came in to edit. Unfortunately this version probably isn't as good.

If you read my breastfeeding story, you'll see that we had a rough go of it to start. However, when Sweet Pea was about four months old, we seemed to achieve a peak in terms of ease of all aspects of mommyhood. My baby was sleeping through the night, was content to hang out and watch me do work around the house, sitting on her own for 20-60 minutes at a time, and best of all for me, nursing was finally what I had always hoped: relaxing, bonding time with my baby that took very little effort. We began to nurse in public with confidence, and I was pleased to find we could finally do it without too much awkwardness. I had a happy, chubby, sleeping-at-night baby: this baby thing seemed like it was getting pretty easy!

Then, she got older. She became more interested in the world around her, more interactive, and learned to roll over. Holding her started to become more difficult as she realized that she had some control over her movement, and she became much more squirmy, reaching and grabbing for things and wanting to stand in our laps. Similarly, nursing also got more difficult again because she was often too distracted to nurse in public and would frequently expose my breast by suddenly turning her head and arching her body to look at something she'd heard, sometimes letting milk leak or spray all over whatever we both were wearing. Sweet Pea also just became less interested in nursing during the day in general, and I would have to offer the breast, then hold her in position for upwards of 10-15 seconds while she squirmed before finally settling in. Sometimes even then I couldn't convince her that it was worth it to stop playing to eat.  So, logically, she started waking up again at night, probably partly due to the decrease in daytime nursing, partly due to increased nutritional demands. Yet she still has been mostly pushing back out any food that goes in her mouth, so I have continued to be her main source of nutrition and hydration. In sum, my easy baby became more difficult, and nursing was once again an effort, particularly if we were anywhere besides a dark, quiet room. Luckily, it has remained satisfying to me through this and I'm still confident we'll keep going for a long while.

I know that the pendulum will swing again, and things that are easy now could become difficult, and our struggles now could soon become total non-issues. Such is parenting, I am learning. As soon as I feel like I have one aspect figured out, my baby goes and changes her ways.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Donating Cloth Diapers

This is just a quick post to share an option for those looking for something to do with diapers their children have already grown out of, or for those who need financial assistance getting started using cloth diapers. Miracle Diapers is a nonprofit organization that matches donated diapers with needy families, providing a much-needed, green and healthy service. The group has provided diapers for 185 babies and toddlers, just from January to July of this year! I follow them on twitter and have considered donating some diapers myself at some point. So far, the only diapers that Sweet Pea has grown out of have been passed on to a friend of a friend, and we might eventually get them back for use with our next child. That's one thing I love about cloth diapers, some of them just last and last! I have heard of one set of diapers being used for seven children!

Anyway, if you have the means, please consider donating to this great organization. Or, just follow them on facebook or twitter like I am to help spread the word.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My green life and my ungreen vices

In preparation for a post I've been mentally planning about how and why we choose to make healthy lifestyle changes of one kind but not another, or at one time but not another, I am compiling a list of the things that I've chosen to do to live healthier and more environmentally friendly, versus the things that I still do that I KNOW are unhealthy. This is a more generalized follow-up to my "items in my freezer" post, which was a concrete list of things that showed foods we keep and eat that are healthy and some that are not (i.e. frozen pizza and peanut butter cup ice cream).

Healthy and Green:
cloth diapers
cloth wipes
home-made baby food
vegetable garden
home food preserving
cloth mama pads
cloth napkins
reusable grocery bags
reusable glass and metal food containers
walking to the store sometimes
natural cleaning products
automatic thermostat
clothesline drying sometimes

eat fast food sometimes - why do Big Macs taste so good to me?
toilet paper - getting close to switching to cloth, at least for pee
drive a car to get around - baby isn't big enough for a helmet for safe bike transportation yet
buy some pre-made foods/meals - I do sometimes order pizza when the baby's having a hard day and we don't have time or energy to cook
buy new clothes often - I LOVE LOVE LOVE Banana Republic, a big vice for me
often forget reusable grocery bags - even when they're in the trunk of the car!
use the dryer - lazy, don't plan ahead enough
eat meat most days - yum yum
don't always buy organic
let some food in my garden go to waste
lots of green updates not done in our house

I've read a few threads on my favorite online discussion forums about this very thing. One thread title was something to do with being "soggy" as opposed to fully crunchy. Like, "he is so crunchy granola!" describing our friend who doesn't drive, has backyard chickens, and only eats local. Compared to that I am somewhat soggy granola. What do you think of these terms? What do you do that is healthy and green and what vices are you still sticking with? WHY do you think you've changed some things but not others? I'd love to hear about where other people are with some of these things, and any hypotheses about why.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A dad's conversation about cloth diapering

I'm participating in Fluff Talk Thursdays again and this week's topic is: a dad's perspective on cloth diapering. My husband had already had a little back-and-forth on facebook with one of our friends about his take on using cloth, so with both of their OKs, I am re-posting that here. I have edited to change names to aliases for my husband and daughter. Silas gave permission for his name to be used. Speaking of aliases, a friend recently pointed out that I should explain that my husband's is really not an insult at all, but is just a private joke. He actually chose it for himself — I think he is above average in nearly every way.

Here is a photo of my husband changing Sweet Pea's diaper when she was only one week old.

Silas and his wife don't have any kids yet, but are planning on it. After reading my original cloth diaper post, Silas wrote to Average asking,

Silas: ....Question for you, how does the cloth diaper thing work for you (ease of use, laundering, and cost) as a dad?

Average: I am a believer in cloth diapers. Not maybe an evangelist like Rose claims to be, but at least a disciple. Changing a poopy diaper is changing a poopy diaper. This way at least we aren't just throwing a bunch of stuff away. Plus, we never run out of diapers, there hasn't once been a 2am trip to the market because we ran out of diapers. The laundry aspect is pretty easy right now with Rose at home, she does most of it. The only thing that is more difficult is spraying the poo off the diaper, but I hooked up a sink sprayer on the toilet so even that is pretty painless. We just have to scrub the toilet a little more often. As far as ease of use goes, I have almost no experience with disposables but putting a diaper on is putting a diaper on. Sure some of the ones we use are two pieces and require an extra step, but it's like a 3 second step, so it's not really an issue for me. The cost is the best part, I think of it like grocery shopping and cooking at home as compared to fast food. The upfront cost is more, but the product is cheaper and healthier. Then, when Sweet Pea outgrows the diapers we can pass them down to our friends or sell them. Like I said I'm a believer. Also when Rose and I were on our honeymoon in Belize we went swimming at this really awesome waterfall area, except there were several dirty diapers on the ground. I was super grossed out and it actually got me thinking about cloth diapering way before we thought about having kids.

Silas: Nice, I never thought about the running out thing, that's a good point. The cost thing is what got me interested in the first place, like you said the up front cost is more, but in the end you are paying less. My dad still has some old cloth diapers around, he swears they are the best polishing cloths around. As far as laundering goes is there ever an issue with the washing machine smelling, or leaving any remnants? I know it sounds a little naive but I am about as clueless as can be with this. I am so glad Erica was a nanny for infants, at least she has some idea of what we're getting ourselves into. Thanks for all the info.

Average: No remnants, I was worried about that too, we usually rinse them first with some vinegar, that kills the smell and rinses out clean, then we add the rest of the load and run it like usual.

So there you have it, one dad who is totally for cloth diapers. He even changes them, and does some laundry as well. Oh, and can't you just tell that Silas is going to be an awesome dad?! I mean, how many dads are learning about baby care stuff before they even get pregnant? I am really impressed with him, and excited for more of my friends to have kids!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cutting baby nails

Why must it be SO hard to cut my baby's fingernails? Sweet Pea's nails seem impossible to keep short. They grow so fast, they are so sharp, and yet they are soft and difficult to distinguish from skin between the clipper ends.

Some tips I have heard are to just bite them off, or to wait until she is sleeping and cut them then. I have tried the biting them off, but Sweet Pea doesn't have any more patience for that than she does the clippers, and it takes longer to chew through the nails than to cut them, so that doesn't help much. I can only get one or two nails done before she completely loses it because she hates to not have control of her hands. Doing it while she is sleeping has not worked for me yet because during the day I am often holding her while she sleeps, making it difficult to get a good grip, or a good angle, let alone going to find the clippers while I'm trying to keep her asleep. Doing it at night is out of the question because there is no way I'm taking a chance of possibly waking her up when it takes so much work to get her to sleep in the first place. We have had some nights of Sleeping Through The Night (STTN) lately, and I really don't want to mess with her once she's fallen asleep. I've also tried giving her a toy for her other hand but she really wants to use both hands at once so I have to grip her hand super tight to even get the clippers to the nail tips. We have two sets of baby sized nail clippers, and one of them even has a little flip-up magnifying glass, but it doesn't seem to help much either.

Does anyone know of any other ideas for making this easier? Right now, I just buckle down and tough it out through her hand-waving and yelling at me while I inwardly cringe at the possibility of cutting her finger (I've done that twice), once or twice a week. Sometimes I go longer between clippings, and then she ends up scratching herself and often me as well, before I get enough determination. It seems like there has got to be an easier way! Do other moms have such a hard time with this? Average did it once, a long time ago, and he cut her and she cried and he was devastated and says he'll never do it again now.