Friday, July 31, 2009

Leaving the Chucks at home

I should be packing right now. Tomorrow we will travel across the country for a family reunion and a week of fun with relatives. For this trip, for the first time since I packed for my 6-month study abroad adventure in 2003, I made a packing list. Normally I am disdainful of such crutches, which lead to things like always having enough socks and contact solution. Who needs that kind of predictability? But it is a different story to be planning a week away from home with a 5-month-old. Sweet pea doesn't need much, right? No toothbrush or toothpaste, no underwear or bras, and she doesn't even need any snacks yet. BUT she does need enough diapers and enough wet bags and enough outfit changes for multiple spit-up events. She needs a car seat and a carrier (we use the ERGO), and maybe a stroller. She needs her birth certificate because it is her only form of ID so far. I'm just not sure I can handle keeping everything in my head that I'm going to need (including the items that are new for me, like nursing tanks, nursing pads, and possibly a nursing cover) and still bring everything she needs. I do not want to come up short, so I am getting organized. Welcome to parenthood? We are trying to pack as light as possible so we have fewer bags to check, so less expense, so I will be leaving behind items such as a variety of shoes to go with different outfits, (for me and her). I know she doesn't need them yet, but aren't these shoes cute on her?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Growing like a weed

Our garden is going crazy! I didn't pick for 2 days because the ridiculous heat (100+) kept me inside, or in air conditioned locations as much as possible. So today I went out this morning, and lo and behold, all the beans got too big, and I discovered two ENORMOUS zucchinis.

This is our first year really growing a garden, and it is so exciting! We have corn, zucchinis, cucumbers, onions, peppers, tomatoes, snap peas, bush beans, okra, raspberries, strawberries, and herbs in our 8' by 8' beds (we have two).

The most frustrating thing has been dealing with the slugs who like to feast on our delicious crops. Slug tracks on the plants really grosses me out, and even worse is actually touching a slug or snail when reaching in to grab a veggie. Plus, they eat the stuff we want for ourselves! They are the competition. Our solution, for now, is to put out dishes full of cheap bear, slug swimming pools for lush slugs. The slugs climb in, get stuck, and drown. Tossing out the slug corpses is almost the grossest thing ever. The only thing worse is tossing out mushed, stinky, decomposed slug corpses after two days in the heat, I discovered today. But I will not give in - we must triumph! Next year, we hope to rebuild our raised beds with taller, less rotten boards and plan to put a strip of copper around the top, which I've read is a good slug deterrent. For now, I guess I'll have to continue to deal with the drowned slugs if I want my crops to come through without being consumed by the disgusting little beasts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cutie pie, honey bunch

Our baby goes by many names. From her first day on this planet a variety of nicknames for her have popped into my head, as I'm changing her diaper, rocking her to sleep, playing, or interacting in any way. At first, I marveled at how I could come up with these. I have never been one to use nicknames - I am usually the one person in the group who calls our friend by his given first name, instead of nicknames which include but are not limited to A-bomb, Cub, and Nancy. So it was atypical of me to go overboard with nicknames for our little one, but for some reason I couldn't help myself. I thought the names I used were unique and adorable.

Some of my most-used nicknames:

  • sweet pea (obviously this one has stuck)

  • peanut

  • little bug

  • little beetle

  • little miss

  • babycakes

  • sweetie pie

  • a variety of rhyming names

Then one day I was at a popular children's clothing store, and saw a rack of onesies with cute nicknames on the front and was crushed by the realization that almost none of my nicknames were actually unique. In fact, they were so well-used that clothing designers could put them on baby clothes knowing that customers would recognize and identify them as standard baby nicknames. You, reader, probably looked at my list and knew this was coming, right? Oh well. I must have somehow absorbed these names subconsciously and produced them naturally when faced with my own tiny baby. So the question I have now is, how much of what I do and say as a parent comes directly from my experiences as a child myself and from observing other parents? Possibly all of it. But maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Cloth Diaper Evangelist

Before I had a baby, my only friends with babies were using cloth diapers. My parents used cloth diapers, my husbands’ parents used cloth diapers, and all the things I believed in pointed to using cloth diapers. So it was natural for me to choose cloth as well. I initially thought of it as just one more option in the many things we were deciding about how we would care for our baby. However, cloth diapers are so much more for me than that now. They have turned into an obsession for me. Using cloth has changed the way I think about many things in terms of disposability, made me think more deeply about what I choose to put on my baby’s skin, and kept me in tune with my baby’s bodily functions and daily changes. I am a cloth diaper evangelist.

OK, you’ve been warned. If you are not already a cloth diaper devotee, I will try to convert you. This is a blog post singing the praises of cloth, and not addressing any of the benefits of disposables (not that there really are any in my opinion). It’s true, this will not be a balanced piece, but that’s why this is a blog, not a newspaper!

Our cloth diapering story:
At my baby shower, I had requested cloth diapers as gifts. It is true that they are an up-front investment, and I thought that could be mitigated by getting a variety of diapers from my friends and family. However, I felt like many people did not believe that I would actually stick with cloth diapering once the baby was born – only 2 people out of 20 at my shower gave me cloth diapers (to be fair, it is hard to find cloth diapers to buy in person around here and many of my relatives are probably not consummate internet shoppers). Several people also made comments like “well, you’re using a diaper service, right?” acting like I was relegating myself to a life of drudgery if I chose to launder diapers on my own. Was I choosing an anti-feminist path? Making more work for myself? These thoughts did cross my mind but the financial and environmental benefits outweighed those doubts and we didn’t even buy a pack of disposables as back-ups before sweet pea was born.

We started her in pre-folds and covers first thing, after she pooped meconium all over the cloth that my midwives used for weighing babies. It took a few times to feel confident with the folds, and know that I was putting the cover on tight enough but not too tight, but it quickly became natural to both my husband and me. We use a variety of types of diapers: pre-folds and PUL covers, fitteds and wool or fleece covers, all-in-ones, and pockets. There are plenty of sites with a rundown of the options for cloth diapering. I like all of these options for different reasons and for different occasions, and I really believe that almost anybody can find a cloth diaper that will work for their situation. We use pre-folds mostly at home because they are the cheapest and wash and dry so easily, thick fluffy fitteds for times when I may have to wait a bit before changing her, all-in-ones for out and about changing ease, and pockets for overnight extra absorbency.

I have a large stash of diapers now, probably enough to last 5-6 days, but we still do wash a load of diapers about every other day to keep the bucket from getting too rancid and just to keep on top of it. It is so much fun to buy new soft fluffy diapers, although there are good deals on used diapers which still have a lot of use left in them. I have bought diapers both new and used online, and new in stores in Portland, Oregon. Friends have also passed used ones on to us, including a set of nicely dyed pre-folds in a rainbow of colors which make the even typically-boring pre-folds more fun. We will re-use many of these again on our second baby (someday), but for now continue to loan around the ones that sweet pea outgrows.

I have discovered my own personal favorites, and would love to build up even more of a stash, although I know it’s not really necessary. Our favorite PUL cover is Thirsties brand brand. They have a new model of cover out that is adjustable size, for even more value as you can use it longer without buying new. I haven’t tried them yet but have heard great reviews! Our favorite fitteds are GoodMamas and Guerrilla Fluff for soft, high-quality, cute diapers. My favorite all-in-ones are VeryBaby. I like that they are cotton inners and have a snap-in insert. We also use Thirsties and FuzziBunz pockets, but they don’t have quite the perfect fit on our little one that the Thirsties covers have.

Our washing routine:
Toss wet diapers into a pail with a screw-top lid. We didn’t use the lid at first as her pee and poo didn’t smell much. Now that she is stinkier, we are more inclined to use the lid, although I’ve heard that enclosing the dirties can make the smell worse, but you do get to close it out from the rest of the room. Most of the time, we spray off poo diapers with a sprayer attached to the back of the toilet before tossing them in the pail as well. I run a rinse-only cycle in the washer on cold water, then a regular cycle with a small amount of powder, additive-free detergent on warm, then sometimes an additional rinse cycle with white vinegar as a fabric softener. We either dry diapers in the dryer or on the line outside. Outside is nice because they smell fresh, and the sun gets out any stains, but it isn’t always practical. Covers always get laid flat or hung to dry. You can just grab clean ones out of the laundry basket, but I think folding diapers is actually kind of fun!

A few of the many many reasons to use cloth diapers:

  • Saving money

  • Saving the planet

  • Avoiding putting chemicals on your little ones’ sensitive parts

  • Knowing when your little one wees

  • Less stink than disposables (wet disposables are awful!)

  • The pleasure of freshly washed soft soft diapers

  • The absolute adorableness of cloth diaper-butt

  • Avoiding diaper rash

  • Supporting local businesses and/or Work At Home Moms

  • The admiration of old-school parents and grandparents

There are about a million Work At Home Moms making cloth diapers for sale (check out diaperswappers, etsy, or hyenacart), and assorted fits and styles for whatever your needs. Cloth diapers come in pretty much any color or print that you want, and they are so much cuter than disposables! So, go buy some today for your little one, or any baby you know! Give it a chance and you may come to be a cloth diaper evangelist too.

Here is another page about the reasons to cloth diaper.

Monday, July 27, 2009

First Post

I have been thinking about writing online - blogging - for a long time, maybe years. I've been thinking about it seriously ever since my daughter was born in February, when I started spending a lot of time alone with a baby, who doesn't respond to my interesting questions or profound statements. I've been researching it (not that seriously) for the past month. Today I thought, what do I have to lose? It is WAY too hot to be outside, and my little sweet pea is sleeping happily in the carrier so I can actually type with both hands. So, I made a list of possible names, chose one at random, and signed up for my free blogger account! Woo hoo! And so begins my blogging life...

I have literally tens of ideas for topics to write about, but I'm not really sure yet how I will organize my posts or what will end up as the main purpose of this blog. I just know that for now, I would like to do some writing to keep my typing fingers sharp and practice writing in a form besides forum posts, since I'm not working or doing any other writing right now. I also know that in the time I spend as a Stay At Home Mom I have many many ideas throughout the day, opinions forming and whatnot, and often no one to express them to, so I hope that this will give me a good outlet for expresion.

Sweet pea has awoken, so time is running short. A quick list of blogging topic ideas, to keep me honest and motivated in the future:
parenting issues - breastfeeding, vaccines, sleep habits, schedules, food
going green - body care products, limiting plastics, recycling, re-purposing, reducing use
daily life - how things are going as a new parent
hobbies and activities - walking, biking, hiking, sewing, gardening
birth - homebirth, prenatal tests and treatments, life as a doula
movie reviews
book reviews
politics, maybe?