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: Care.com 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

Halloween

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:
Kellymom
La Leche League International resources page

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

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?