Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka

We were in Hawaii for Christmas this year, thanks to Average's mom's generosity. She gave money for plane tickets and reserved housing for her five children and their families. We were only there for five days but managed to fit a lot in, including snorkeling, a luau, visiting a black sand beach, Volcanoes National Park, and the Place of Refuge (a historical site).






It was a fabulous trip, and Sweet Pea LOVED playing in the water, or "simming," as she called it. It was hard to get her in the water the first day but by day three we could barely drag her out to reapply sun block. She also loved tagging along with her cousins and getting to hang out with so many aunts and uncles all in one place.

The plane ride was a little rough, just because we couldn't afford to buy her a ticket if we didn't have to, and she still technically is young enough to be a lap baby, although when she napped she had to be laying across both her dad's and my lap. She kicked the seat in front, made a few high pitched screams, knocked the snacks off the table, head butted me (accidentally), grabbed our neighbor's drink, and talked endlessly about airplanes, school buses, Auntie Jen and Auntie Rachel and Auntie Hilary, Elmo, pretzels, water, and milp. But really, we couldn't have expected anything better. She never really cried, and she slept for about an hour of both the departing and returning flight.

This trip was our first experience using regular disposable diapers. We brought one bag of gDiaper disposable inserts, but used those up after the first couple of days. We only checked one bag between the three of us and decided it wasn't worth it to us to pack a full supply of cloth. The disposables were pretty amazing to me in terms of how small and trim they are, and how the tabs work, but I think they smell weird and are pretty gross when they are full of pee. The whole chemical gel thing is just kind of yucky to me. This is one situation where I am glad disposables exist. Although we probably spent just as much buying diapers as it would have cost to bring another checked bag, we didn't have to lug them through the airports or worry about washing them while on vacation. We have been back in cloth since bedtime last night and it feels good. Potty training is on my mind for sometime in the next couple of months. I think I am going to use the 3-day method. Any advice?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cheapest Dinner Ever

Tonight we had a lasagna that cost $.79, some carrots and radishes with salad dressing, and home-made (from our trees) applesauce. The whole dinner, for three adults and a toddler, cost less than two dollars. I have been working at getting our food expenses down and this is the cheapest thing we've done yet! I've GOT to get back to the Grocery Outlet for more Buitoni frozen lasagnas before they run out. I think the reason for the sale at the G.O. is that the box is labeled to hold two lasagnas but there is only one inside.

We've been doing really well at eating inexpensive dinners since Sunday, actually. I should have been taking pictures!

Our menu has been:
  • Sunday night we had pork buns that a friend brought for my husband's birthday the day before, along with green beans that a relative had brought for Thanksgiving dinner and never cooked (frozen). I cooked the green beans with some onion (5/ $1 - and local!) from the Grocery Outlet, and some soy sauce and they were pretty good. We also had the applesauce, which I made on Saturday from the last of the apples that fell from our latest-blooming tree. I don't know how much the pork buns or beans cost but our expenditure was about $.25.
  • Monday night we had turkey sandwiches (leftover from Thanksgiving) on whole wheat bread, and butternut squash soup. The soup is somewhat pricey, for soup that is, - like $3 or $4 for a box - but Sweet Pea loves it and it is organic and pretty healthy. We also had a sliced red pepper. Probably $7 total for the meal.
  • Tuesday night we used the very last of the turkey in burritos made with dried beans that we soaked (probably $.50 worth, at $1 per bag, and we had lots left over). We used the last of the red pepper from the night before, some Tillamook sharp cheddar (spendy!!$$), sour cream, lettuce, and a variety of spices for flavor and filling. Average made the burritos big and just one was enough for me. He had two, and Sweet Pea ate a lot of beans, which she loves, as well as cheese and turkey, and we all had frozen blueberries for dessert. I'm estimating $4-5.
  • Tonight = super duper cheap lasagna, explained above.
  • The plan for tomorrow is tuna steaks (also from the Grocery Outlet, 2 for $2.49 frozen) with rice. I'm not sure what the vegetable will be. 
  • Friday will probably be a frozen pizza (2 for $5) and salad.

Right now I am super excited about being able to spend this little on food for our family while still eating filling, fairly healthy meals. However, next time I go shopping I might not find as many good deals, and I bet we'll end up going out sometime in the next week or two due to being too busy or not planning ahead enough. But heck, we can afford it after this week, right!? And then there's that car we need to buy......

What's your favorite inexpensive meal plan? Give me more ideas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thankful For the Weekend

This has been a busy week.

On Monday, on my drive to work, I hit a patch of ice as I was coming around a curve and onto a bridge, and slid all over the road before hitting the bridge barrier with the back right side of my car. We just found out yesterday that it is a total loss. Boo. Although Average thought it was a grandma car, I really liked my 98 Camry. It served us well for the past 4+ years and spending time on looking for a new car was not on my list of things I was hoping to do soon.

In other news, I had two meetings with doula clients this week. It is so exciting to be working with expectant families as they prepare for the births of their babies!

Today is the birthday of my husband, a.k.a Average. He is 29 years old today! He was able to get the day off work, so we actually have a 2-day weekend together, and he is enjoying himself laying on the couch and watching the Civil War. If you don't know what that is then you are not from Oregon.

Yesterday afternoon Sweet Pea came down with a fever. She had a rough night sleeping the night before, and again last night. Luckily we all were able sleep in today. We are nursing lots and giving her a fever-reducer when she will take it. She doesn't seem to feel sick currently but her nose is pretty stuffed up. Right now she is laying on the couch with her dad watching the game.

I don't have any photos to go with these bits of news, but I do have a few photos from Thanksgiving to share.

After the Thanksgiving Day 5k. Left to right :me, Sweet Pea (she rode in the stroller), Average, his sister, her husband, and another brother-in-law. It was a fun run to do as a family and ended at an indoor wave pool where we played for an hour or so,
The turkey-frying apparatus

My husband's beautiful apple pie

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba T-Shirt Winner

I had Sweet Pea draw the number out of a bowl. It took a couple of tries for her to get JUST ONE number, but the lucky winner of the Yo Gabba Gabba t-shirt giveaway is......

#1

Stevie said
"I'm in! I hope you guys have fun...I'm so jealous! Rubes is a bit too young, otherwise I might've gone. But that's only because I love the show so much. Heh." Thanks for entering!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow Day Accomplishments

Today, I was surprised to get a message that school (work) is canceled. Everyone has been talking about this possibility for days, but I really didn't think it would happen. There was only about an inch of snow at my house, but apparently the roads were quite icy. So, instead of getting up early, dressing up for parent conferences, and commuting to work, I got to head back to bed for an extra two hours! This was just the break I needed -- a day at home with Stella to clean up before Thanksgiving and get a few projects done.

This is what we accomplished:

  • Repaired two pairs of Sweet Pea's wool longies that had small seam holes from lots of wear last winter.
  • Finally sewed curtains for Sweet Pea's room:






  • You can see in the above photo that the sheets are stripped off of Sweet Pea's bed. That's another thing I did today: changed and washed all our sheets.
  • We also raked the leaves in the front (photo of Sweet Pea from last week) and used the leaves to put the raised beds to sleep for the winter.






  • We also did the did the dishes,


  • and ate half a batch of brownies.




In addition, we took a nice walk to the park with Glen, and played on the swings, but I didn't take any photos. Left on  my list to do: repair two pair of my work pants, make the dough for our Thanksgiving rolls, iron the napkins, and help Average make the pies and appetizers tonight. Whew, it sounds like a lot when I list it out but the day has actually been pretty relaxed so far. Sweet Pea is napping on the couch and I'm watching Ellen as I type (a little teary at the couple she just reunited). It's uncertain whether there will be work tomorrow, but even if there is it is only 8 to 12 and then back home to get ready for our overnight company (two sisters-in-law and their families). I LOOOVE Thanksgiving but I'm a little nervous about hosting it at our house, trying to get all the food ready and everyone comfortable and the house fairly clean. And we are running a 5k race in the morning, so it will be a full day! I'm sure everything will work out, right?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Clean Is Your House?

My house is somewhat clean, but not as clean as I'd like it. A 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. I sweep a couple of times a week, do the dishes most nights, and wipe down counters and pick toys off the floor almost every day. I vacuum probably every other week; we only have carpet in the bedrooms and rarely wear shoes in there. Cleaning the bathroom is something that I dread, but I LOVE having a clean bathroom. In my ideal world, the floors would be mopped, the bedrooms would be vacuumed, the sheets would be changed, and the bathroom cleaned, every week. That is a schedule I have never been able to actually achieve though. There is just too much else important going on in life! Last year, my dad's Christmas gift to me was house-cleaning, and he often cleans when he babysits. Coming home from a date night to a clean bathroom is a pretty amazing feeling. I highly recommend it! :)

Unfortunately, although my husband, Average, does a good job of cleaning when he does it, he just doesn't seem to notice things that need to be cleaned as often as I do. And even though I spend more time cleaning now than I ever used to before, between a dog and a baby our house if just as messy at it always has been. My ideal house would be a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. Clean enough that you never noticed anything particularly dirty, but maybe some dust here or there and just the tiniest bit of mess so that you didn't feel like you were going to ruin everything if you actually USED anything in the house. I've been in houses like that, and find it uncomfortable. On the other hand, a disastrously messy house is quite uncomfortable too. It is my dream to have a cleaning service once a week and then I'd never have to do things like clean the bathroom, mop, wash windows, or vaccuum. That is a far-fetched dream though.

My strategies for keeping the house from getting too out-of-control messy include:
  • wiping down the stovetop and counters every time I wash dishes
  • putting away clean dishes in the afternoon when I get home from work - I never have to dry dishes, and then when we cook the clean ones are all available
  • a basket or a shelf in the living room and dining room that we can toss Sweet Pea's toys in when doing a quick pick-up
  • doing laundry almost every day so it never gets too out of hand, although going out of town usually screws things up. If I have the chance to do laundry while we're on a trip, I take it!
What do you do to keep your house clean?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! There's a Party in My City!

Attending a live show is always a treat. The Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! There's a Party in My City! show last Monday was no exception. We arrived only about ten minutes early, and it felt a little weird to walk into a venue where I normally attend serious plays and musical performances, full of children, toddlers, and babies, many in costume. I had been to see The Color Purple there two days before, and it was quite a different atmosphere! Unsure how Sweet Pea would react to the show before we went, I was a bit overwhelmed at first and so was she, but after the first few acts she settled in to enjoy it and danced along to the music at times. Overall, it was a fun experience for us all and a happy memory to look back on as our first live performance as a family.



The show producers, or planners, or whatever they are, included a few extras for the audience that really added to the experience for the kids. There was confetti that shot out over the crowd, a huge balloon drop, and free paper glasses styled after DJ Lance's. Getting a balloon was definitely a highlight for Sweet Pea and she looked through it and waved it around for the remainder of the show.

If you've seen Yo Gabba Gabba! on TV, you know that it consists of many short segments, mostly with songs and dancing, and some amazing guests. Highlights from the TV show include Weezer, Jack
Black, Mos Def, The Roots, Sal Masekela, and The Shins. The guests for the live show in Eugene were: Keller Williams with a sweet song about hula hooping, someone named Sunshine for a "dancey dance" number, and Biz Markie with "Biz's Beats." Keller Williams was awesome -- I would have paid to see him alone. Sunshine was a little off, but her dance was still fun. Biz's talents would be impressive no matter the setting, and it was really cute the way that he went into the audience and interacted with the kids, although he seemed a little wiped out by the end. I like that they have surprise guests for each location.



The performers engaged the audience and had us standing up, sitting down, calling things out, dancing, and then timed an intermission perfectly for a diaper change for Sweet Pea. The pacing was good for our nearly-two-year-old, but I know some families did go home early due to tired or overwhelmed kids. The volume of the performance was pretty high, too loud for some kids, and the flashing lights of the stage were a little uncomfortable at times. My only other complaint would be the over-prevalence of the sponsor.
One of the best parts of attending public events is meeting other families. We were lucky enough to sit behind a super nice woman who offered to take pictures when our camera battery died before the show even began. Thanks to Jenny for all of these photos!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Things to be Thankful For

I know it's a bit early for a Thanksgiving post, but I find I have a lot to be thankful for right now.

My sweet, smart, adorable daughter, who makes me laugh every day
My loving, talented husband, who changed my car's oil today
My parents and all they have taught me, through example and otherwise
Of course all the rest of my supportive and warm family
All my friends who babysit for me, often on short notice
My cozy home -- not quite perfect yet but getting closer all the time
My wonderful job teaching high school English
Weekends and getting a break from my wonderful job
Ice cream
Skype, which has allowed me to see my sister several times in the last month even though she is on the other side of the world!
Being a doula. Supporting families as they welcome a new baby is just the most amazing and rewarding experience.
The fact that my daughter sleeps in in the mornings
My health and the ability to go out and run for 40 minutes and feel great afterwards


What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba T-Shirt Giveaway

Well, the shirts are here, folks!
One lucky winner will have his or her choice of not one, but TWO Yo Gabba Gabba t-shirts! My family will be wearing our own on Monday, November 15 at the live show here in Eugene, Oregon. Look for a review of the show in the next week or so.

To give away, I have either pink or grey in size kids 3, pink or grey in size kids 5/6, and grey adult XL.

I will be posting this giveaway on my other, specific to Eugene, blog (go to www.eugeneactivefamily.com) as well, for the other THREE t-shirts. You may enter both, and up your chances. I will email the winner from each blog and the first to reply gets first choice on the colors and sizes.

To enter here, just comment below with your email address!

You can enter extra times by doing any or all of the following:
1. Publicly follow my blog and comment for one additional entry.
2. Follow @rosepeck on Twitter and comment for one additional entry. You may also tweet once a day for an additional entry. Leave separate comments with the permalink each time.
3. Comment on a previous post of mine and come back here and comment which one. Limit 5 extra entries.
The pink shirt front:
The pink shirt back:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba in One Week!

I was offered free tickets to a Yo Gabba Gabba show at the Hult Center here in Eugene, for next Monday, November 15. I wasn't sure about it at first. We don't have cable and Sweet Pea doesn't watch TV shows yet, so I checked out some YouTube videos and read about the show on a few sites. Sweet Pea really enjoyed the little clips we watched on the computer, and my husband, who loves kids shows for some reason, had seen it before thinks it's pretty good. A hipster friend at the bicycle shop originally showed it to him online. So, after my brief research I decided to go for it. I think it will be really fun! And we are getting t-shirts for a giveaway this week! I think I'm going to get the shirts tomorrow so I'll post the rules and photos of the shirts then. After the show, I'll be writing a review for you all to read.

What I like about Yo Gabba Gabba so far is the emphasis on music. Looking forward to the show!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Front Door

For my birthday this year, my parents got me a new front door. Our door had irritated me since we moved in because it was the wrong direction for the opening (light switches and door stop were on the other sides), had no window or peep hole, and we have no windows on that side of the living room at all, and it was just completely blah. It was a plain synthetic door painted the same color as the interior of the house on the inside and the same color as the exterior on the outside.

The new door that we chose is a lovely natural wood, has a dentil shelf, three window panes, and two panels. It was fairly inexpensive compared to other wood doors that look similar to it because the local giant hardware/lumber/home goods store (Jerry's) buys this particular model in larger quantities and stocks them. The price was more than $100 less than what we would have paid at Lowe's or Home Depot.

My husband stained and sealed it, and installed it himself, after it lived in our garage for a month or two waiting for us to have a weekend off to do the work. I am SO happy with how it looks, the added light it provides in the living room, and the sparkle of the glass at night. In the photo, you can see his dad in the foreground, helping out.

This is the old door, out of the frame.
And this is the new door! What do you think?

This change inspired us to finally paint the living room, which is something we'd been thinking about since we moved in. Now that project is almost done (new trim is still going up), so I'll try to post photos of that soon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Run, Mommy, Run

This morning (probably closer to early afternoon, actually - we are not exactly morning people) Average and I went out on a run. It was our first run together in about two weeks. The weather was perfect and it felt great! We did a little three-mile loop, and brought Glen and Sweet Pea along with us. I am hoping we can do this on a regular basis over the next six months or so, or until one of us starts training for a longer race and needs to do some longer runs than Glen and Sweet Pea can tolerate. They can only make it for about five miles before becoming too tired and/or bored and needing to head for home.

Since I started running last spring, I've lost about 10 pounds, gained a lot of stamina and lung capacity (I have asthma), and a lot of confidence. I have been a runner, sort of, at other times in my life, but this experience is better than any other time. I probably need it more than any other time, too! Running is hard to get started because it just hurts the first couple of weeks until you start getting in shape, and unless I have a good motivation, such as a running buddy, a particular fitness goal, or a race coming up, it is hard for me to keep it up for more than a couple of months. But if you can get over the initial hump of breathlessness, and maintain a regular schedule, you'll feel fantastic. Some of the things that have inspired me were seeing my sister and husband run a half-marathon last year, reading Born to Run, and really really wanting to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I also had a great running buddy as well as a supportive husband.

Running is great for so many reasons:
  • It's free. All you need are shoes (or not if you're into barefoot running), and a half-hour or so. No gym membership, no expensive equipment, no trainer.
  • You get to experience the outdoors and explore your neighborhood. Last week I found a new park that I didn't know existed! I like running even in the cold and rain because it is so invigorating and feels great to breathe the fresh air.
  • You can take your baby (or kid depending on how big your stroller is) and maybe your dog if he or she likes to run. No need for a babysitter. It often is a great way to get Sweet Pea to take a nap, actually, which is especially great right now because she is sometimes too busy for a nap when there are toys to play with.
  • Just like any form of exercise, it gets you to sweat, which is good for your skin. It feels sooo good to shower after a workout!
  • Also, just like any form of exercise, it is good for your heart, muscles, and even your brain! I recently heard on the radio that physical exercise may be even  more important than mental exercise for preventing or delaying Alzheimer's and dementia.
The first week in September, I ran a half-marathon, and then a week later I ran the Warrior Dash. The Warrior Dash is a really ridiculous 5k race full of obstacles, but super fun. I tried to add a photo from that day but my uploader got stuck. Maybe I'll try again later. Both times, I ran with some great women and had a blast! Today, Average got us signed up for the Springfield Turkey Stuffer, a Thanksgiving Day 5k that we plan to do with our extended families. What a great way to start out Thanksgiving!

Do you run? Do you consider yourself a "runner"?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Stinkies and How We Cope

One of the common misconceptions about cloth diapers is that they stink more than disposables. Generally, cloth diapers that are thoroughly washed on a frequent basis do not stink. However, particularly with the super-absorbent, wicking, man-made materials used in many modern cloth diapers, there is the propensity for build-up - of soap, bacteria, whatever. And build-up leads to stink. If you read the cloth diaper message boards there are pages and pages of problems, ideas, remedy suggestions, complaints, and so on. The problem is that not every stink is created the same. Your hard water may be the culprit, or you may be using too much soap, or not enough, or the wrong kind. You may need to add vinegar to your rinse cycle, or stop adding vinegar, turn up the temp. in your hot wash, wash more frequently, or spray off poopies before putting the diaper in the pail. You can try bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or oxy-clean. What works for you might not work for someone else with different water, soap, or diapers. So, if you are wondering what to do because your diapers are not smelling quite right (either they smell faintly when they come out of the wash, or they smell too strong once wet by your child), know that you are not alone and there is a solution out there, but it may take some experimenting to find it.

So, you may ask, have Mommy and Sweet Pea ever experienced this diaper stink problem? Nah. Well, maybe every once in a while. OK, OK, we have had on-and-off problems for the last couple of months and I hadn't taken the time to really work on it. After our babysitter started putting the wetbag out on the back porch, I realized we really needed to deal with it. I did some research and found a lot of great ideas.


DiaperSwappers of course, borntolove.com, and the Cotton Babies blog all have good information on dealing with stinky diapers. I'm not going to repeat all that they have to tell you. Instead, I'm going to share how we have dealt with our particular stink issue.

Our brand of stink was an ammonia smell coming from the diapers as soon as Sweet Pea wet. Based on my research, I found that this was probably caused by bacteria within the diaper inserts that was not getting completely washed away, and reacting with the urine. Our diapers smelled clean coming out of the dryer, but terrible once wet.

  1. First, I stopped using Arm and Hammer powder. I read that they changed the formula to have more washing soda than it used to. 
  2. Next, I did a wash cycle with hydrogen peroxide to eliminate bacteria hiding in the diapers. I have used bleach in the past but it only worked for a couple of wash cycles and I found I was using it more often that I liked. Hydrogen peroxide also kills bacteria, but is not as harsh as bleach.
  3. Then I added white vinegar back to my initial rinse routine. I had run out a while ago, and didn't buy any more when our diapers seemed fine for the next few loads. However, I think the vinegar really does aid the rinse-out process for us and am glad to have it back in our routine. Besides, it's only $2.00 for a big bottle so there's not much to lose. 
  4. Finally, I have started adding a pot or two of hot water (boiling or nearly boiling) to the wash cycle, every couple of washes. Hot water helps to kill the bacteria, but I didn't want to turn up our water heater since Sweet Pea loves to turn on faucets right now. Some people have even boiled their diapers when they have encountered really bad stink issues but that sounded like a lot of work to me. 

So far, the above methods seem to have knocked out the ammonia, and the diaper pail is back in Sweet Pea's room. For a while, we were keeping it in the bathroom. I am glad to have it back in her room right next to the changing table, and still be able to walk into the room while breathing through my nose!

What's your experience with diaper stink? Does it ruin the cloth diaper experience for you? Have you been able to successfully avoid it or combat it?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hello Fall

Goodbye summer.

This was a very busy, beautiful, wonderful summer. Some highlights:
  • Sweet Pea eating fresh berries and beans from our garden on a near-daily basis
  • camping in a 2-person tent with Glen and Sweet Pea, Average and me all on one air mattress
  • watching the meteor shower with good friends
  • Garrison Keillor's live show
  • canoeing with Sweet Pea, Average, my brother, and his girlfriend
  • getting the patio cover put up
  • eating vegetables that we grew
  • pickling green beans
  • making applesauce with our own apples
  • blueberry picking
  • my 10-year high school reunion
  • Sweet Pea moving into a twin bed
  • swimming in the Pistol River, my home river
  • running the half marathon
  • running the Warrior Dash
  • swimming at the pool and getting chastised by the lifeguard because my independent daughter would not stay within reach of me. She is a runner!
  • Sweet Pea learning sooo many words! Including: cup, lid, airplane, kitty cat, I want, running, water (wawas), milk (milp), nummies, yes, and so many more. She can now pretty much repeat anything we say to her.
Here are a few more photos from this summer.




Next up, for the fall, I have lots more on my mind to do and experience.
  • carving pumpkins
  • visiting the corn maze
  • overnight rafting trip with my dad
  • Sweet Pea learning to use the potty
  • more doula work
  • painting the living room, dining room, and kitchen
  • trips to the beach
  • planting a winter garden, for the first time ever
  • a Thanksgiving Day race
  • Thanksgiving at our house!
I would love to write about it all, but find myself with no time left in my day after I work for 6 hours as a teacher, try to keep my household running, exercise, keep in touch with friends, take care of the dog, and read other people's blogs. How do other working moms do it? Now that I am in the swing of school, I am going to try to do one blog post per week on a weekday, and one on the weekend. That should be manageable, right?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Flip Diaper

I recently bought a new type of diaper for Sweet Pea. It is the Flip diaper, and it is exactly what I would have designed if I had been asked to make a new diaper. It is a two-part system, with a shell that can be used through many changes, and three options for your absorbent insert. I chose the "stay dry" insert, which is microfiber on one side (do not put this side against your baby's skin!) and thin wicking fleece on the other side.


The reasons this is the diaper I have been looking for:
  • one-size to grow with the baby
  • snapping cover so Sweet Pea can't remove it herself!
  • stay-dry insert keeps my sensitive-skin baby rash free
  • less laundry because the shell can be used through several diaper changes
The diaper shell can also be used with an organic cotton insert, or a disposable insert, but I haven't tried those options. I also read in the reviews that some people are using these shells with pre-folds and other inserts they already had, with good success.

Average wasn't super impressed with this diaper the first time he tried it because poo did get on the shell, so it didn't last through multiple changes. But, nothing escaped from the diaper itself! I have also heard of people not loving the covers because they feel fairly thin. We haven't had any leak problems though and they seem to be holding up through wash after wash.

While the inserts are more expensive than prefolds, (the stay-dry are $4.95 each), I am very happy with the wicking properties because Sweet Pea tends to get a rash whenever we use cotton for more than a couple of changes. Our local baby store also carries these diapers in stock, and recently had the inserts on sale. We really don't need to add more diapers to our stash right now, but I am tempted to buy more just because I like these!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Transition from the Crib

I started this post back on June 30. This is what I wrote then:

We have been putting Sweet Pea to bed in her crib for naps and night-time for about eight months now. She spent the first nine to ten months of her life sleeping in our room, either in our bed or in the sidecar co-sleeper, then we slowly moved to putting her down in her crib in her own room. Right now, she starts out the night in there, then comes to bed with us (sometime between 1:00 and 5:00 AM) and nurses occasionally through the rest of the night. We aim for bedtime by 10:00 PM, and hang out in the living room with her, nursing, rocking, and listening to her bedtime mix CD, until she falls asleep. Lately, Average has been able to get her to sleep by simply laying down on the couch with and holding her. Sometimes he falls asleep this way too, which pushes back our bedtime to later than we'd prefer. I feel like we could have an easier bedtime routine if we had an actual bed for her to sleep in in her own room. That way, one of us could lay down in there with her until she fell asleep, then sneak out. And the rest of the house wouldn't necessarily have to be dark and quiet the way it is now. Currently, whoever is not holding her while she falls asleep is either sitting in the dark living room, or hiding out in the bedroom with just a bedside light on. If she was falling asleep in her own room, one of us could be doing the dishes at the same time! Or paying bills! Or watching TV!

Yes, we have tried laying her down in her crib awake and she does not fall asleep this way. We are not willing to let her cry herself to sleep at this point.

Today, August 31:
A couple of weeks ago we got Sweet Pea a twin bed (mattress and box springs). Actually, my mom got it -- thanks Mom! We do plan to eventually get a frame for the bed, or perhaps Average will make one, but this saved us a lot of hassle and money for now, and the bed is low enough that she can climb in and out on her own, which I think is nice.

Now, ninety percent of the time, our routine goes like this:
  • After dinner, husband Average gives toddler Sweet Pea a bath. They play and laugh together.
  • Average gets Sweet Pea in an overnight diaper and footie pajamas, they might cuddle, read, or play for a few more minutes, then I take over.
  • Sweet Pea picks out a few books. This is new! Up to a month ago, she didn't really enjoy books, but now she loves them! And I love that.
  • We lay in her bed together and read books until I get tired of repeating the books or until she asks for milk. She now has both a hand sign and a verbal word.
  • She nurses until she falls asleep, then I get up and put the pillow on the outside edge of the bed to help prevent her from rolling off, turn on the monitor, and quietly leave the room. Or, sometimes she finishes nursing and we cuddle until she falls asleep. Or, she is too wound up to fall asleep, and I have to call for a sub. Average comes in and does his thing (rocking and music) and she falls asleep.
  • I go to bed in my own room, or go watch a movie, or finish cleaning up, or whatever.
I am really happy with this new arrangement. Sweet Pea ends up sleeping in her room for more time overall, and the whole house doesn't have to shut down to get her to sleep. In just a week or two, she has adjusted to this routine and is doing great with it. She even slept through the night last night! Eighteen months might seem a little early to move to a real bed, but it seems to be working out for us. I'm curious what other parents are doing. Please, share your stories in comments!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reduce, REUSE, Recycle: Freecycle and Craigslist Free Items

One day of the class I took this summer (required to maintain my teaching license) was a day of field trips. Some people went rafting, some toured a farm, some visited a lumber company. I signed up to visit a water treatment plant, a hydroelectric dam, my local dump, and a home goods and construction recycling construction center. I learned a lot from each place, but the thing that probably left the biggest impression on me was visiting the dump and watching people pitch perfectly good, or at least recycle-able, items into the pit.
Spy Hill Landfill - 4 by D'Arcy Norman


We have made many trips to the dump, with broken items and true garbage. But in the few minutes I stood looking into the pit, I saw someone toss in a wheelbarrow, a massive pile of wood, soil, and empty boxes. The wheelbarrow did have a small hole in the bottom, but appeared to be functional other than that. I know it wheeled just fine because it fell off the top of the person's pickup truck when they made a tight turn, and someone in my class wheeled it back to them. We collectively gasped when the person then shoved it over the side of the dump into the pit. Wood and soil are both recyclable, and that person could have been tossing those wood pieces into a giant dumpster about 20 feet away, to be taken to be used as fuel instead of added to the landfill. Soil, or "fill dirt" could have been taken by many people who want to fill in their yard's low spot. I know this because after our garden project I offered free fill dirt on Freecycle and Craigslist, and more people replied than I could supply, and our driveway was quickly emptied of the dirt we didn't want. There is also a company in our town that takes all yard waste, including sod, dirt, concrete, and plant matter, and recycles it into products that it then sells back to consumers. Think about how much better these options are than driving your items to the dump, where they are then transported (by fossil-fuel burning vehicles) to a landfill either a couple of miles, or a couple of hundred miles, away. Landfills offgas methane, and pollute the earth and water, no matter how hard they try to contain the poisons. Basically, if you have anything that could be reused or recycled in any form at all, please don't take it to the dump and add it to the landfill! Someone just might want the item that you see as junk or garbage.

I mentioned Freecycle and Craigslist, which are my favorite spots for getting and offering cheap or free used items. Freecycle describes itself as a "network to promote waste reduction and help save landscape from being taken over by landfills." People post things they need, and things they have to offer. And Craigslist, well, you probably aren't reading a blog if you've never heard of Craigslist, as it is such a common . I like to check the free page every once in a while, just to see what's there.

I have given away cleaning products, a lamp, fill dirt, a water filter, and a few other things on Freecycle, and sold furniture, electronics, clothing, and baby items on Craigslist. It always feels good to know that something I was no longer using is getting a longer life, and/or being used by someone who really needed it! Sometimes I think we can get carried away with the importance of recycling (which I do believe is important), when re-using items is even better than recycling them in terms of saving energy and natural resources. Of course, donating you unwanted things to a charity is a good option too.

In college, I spent a semester abroad. I learned a lot about American culture by noticing what was different in other countries. One thing that I grew to appreciate about American culture was our willingness to give old things a second (or third or fourth) chance through re-sale shops, consignment shops, online selling and sharing, donations, and the good old free pile by the curb. Perhaps because I live in a university town that prides itself on being green, but there are free piles here all the time -- of extra garden produce, leftover moving supplies, furniture, albums, you name it, I've probably seen it free. In Spain, where I lived for five months, there were no free piles, and no Goodwill or consignment shops. When I asked a Spanish friend about what I should do with the clothes I didn't want to pack around for the rest of my European travels, he said I could throw them away or donate them to a church that would give them to the poor. Several of my friends and I donated our clothes before we left, but were surprised there were no other options. Perhaps it isn't this way in all of Spain, but it certainly made me appreciate my local culture's ability to REUSE goods until they are no longer useful or usable. Although many people clearly aren't doing it, as evidenced by my visit to the dump, the opportunity is there.

What's it like where you live? Have you given or gotten some great used items recently?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

gDiapers on the Go

When we spent a few days at a cabin last month we used a disposable diaper product on Sweet Pea for the first time. We knew we were going to spend more than a day driving, and then several days at a cabin with no washing machine, so we thought this would be one time when using purely cloth diapers might be just too much for us. Maybe we are just wimps because Average's aunt had a great story for us about backpacking with a baby in diapers and washing them in a plastic bag in a hole she would dig in the ground. Now that's commitment! Back to our story though. We decided to go with a hybrid system: a disposable absorbent liner with a reusable cover. gDiapers are available at grocery stores in our city, so we thought that would be an easy option, and actually the only option since we didn't leave ourselves delivery time for ordering anything online. I had also read good reviews of the gDiaper inserts.
gDiapers Flushable Refills, Medium/Large, 32-Count Bags (Pack of 4)

We put the first one on Sweet Pea just before we left our house in the afternoon. When we stopped for a break a couple of hours later, she had leaked onto her pants. We are pretty certain that was due to user error, though, as some of the insert wasn't tucked all the way into the cover. After that, we didn't have any trouble with leaking at all. We used a variety of covers including a snapping one-size Flip diaper cover, and Thirsties size medium covers. Sweet Pea did great in the gs for the next 3-4 days while we were away from civilization, and we tore them up and flushed them down the toilet (gDiapers are flushable and compostable) in some places and simply threw them in the trash in other places. I did find I felt a sense of freedom in not having to pack so much bulk with us, and Sweet Pea never got a rash with them. They worked fine overnight as well. I was enjoying using the gDiapers so much, I began to question my own commitment to cloth.

Once we reached a place with a washing machine we switched back to our cloth diapers. I did feel like I needed to change Sweet Pea more often back in cloth, and had to remember to always have a wet bag with me. But when I was folding my beautiful fitted diapers after running our first load of laundry, I felt a strong sense of satisfaction, just enjoying the feel of the soft bamboo velour inners and the cute prints. While the gDiapers were easy, they did smell funny to me -- worse than our cloth. Even when a microfiber insert really needs a good soak it doesn't have the icky chemical smell that a disposable has to me.

In conclusion, we had a good experience with our first time using a disposable diaper product on Sweet Pea, but I am just as happy as even with our choice to cloth diaper our child. We are thinking of working on potty learning soon, and I'm sure I'm going to miss our diapers when we are done with them (although I'll be glad to have less laundry)!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pregnancy Book Giveaway

A week passed and no one has entered. So, once I get 10 entries, I will draw for a winner. Anyone want a free book?

I have always enjoyed participating in and even winning a couple of giveaways from my fellow bloggers, and have had in the back of my mind that I'd like to offer more giveaways to my readers. I have an item that I think some of you might be interested in, here, that a friend recently passed on to me. I already had one so I thought I would share it. It is one of my favorite books and pregnancy and birth: The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger.
 The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth (Revised)


This book covers the week-by-week changes of the pregnant body, and includes beautiful photos of home and hospital births. As the name suggests, it is a pretty complete guide to most of the questions that expectant parents encounter, and it couches its answers in non-scary, but accurate, terms.


The giveaway will run for a week, so I will randomly pick a number for a winner next Sunday night. To enter, comment with your favorite source of information about pregnancy or birth.


For extra entries:
1. Publicly follow my blog and comment for one additional entry.
2. Follow @rosepeck on Twitter and comment for one additional entry. You may also tweet once a day for an additional entry. Leave separate comments with the permalink each time.
3. Comment on a previous post of mine and come back here and comment which one. Limit 5 extra entries.
4. Blog about the giveaway and comment with the URL for two (2) extra entries, leaving two separate comments.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blueberry Girl

A couple of weeks ago we went blueberry picking. Sweet Pea ate every single berry she picked.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Slug Wars Summer 2010 - Copper

Last year I battled with the slugs by putting out beer traps for them. This year, we are trying the copper barrier method. We bought many rolls of Corry's Slug & Snail Copper Tape and have put them down around the tops of several of our raised beds. The idea is that crossing the copper gives the little varmints a small shock, so they avoid it. So far, it seems to be working. I think this product is best suited for container gardens because it takes a lot of copper tape to wrap an entire raised bed! I also read a review that said that after a year the adhesive didn't work any more on the wooden beds, which makes sense as water will seep into the wood. We are thinking in another year or two we will put copper pipes around the top of each bed -- a more permanent and attractive solution, but also more expensive.

Just yesterday I was talking with my neighbor, and she told me a horribly sad story that reinforced my commitment to avoiding poisons in our yard. A few years ago, she was struggling with slugs in her garden and put out some slug and snail killer pellets, only in areas she thought were inaccessible to her dog. Well, he was able to get to at least one of those areas, ate the pellets, and died that day.

According to my research, copper barriers seem to be the safest and most effective method, and also the longest lasting. I have read about diatomaceous earth, and while it seems to be safe, it is less effective in humid environments (according to Wikipedia). There is also the salt method, which seems fairly effective, but then you are adding salt to your soil, which isn't very desirable to me. Also, both of those methods aim to kill the slugs and snails, which isn't really what I care about. I am fine with them existing and eating weeds or grass outside of my vegetable garden, as long as they aren't slime-ing and eating my produce! I am also experimenting with using pennies rather than copper tape. Just setting them around the beds, as shown above on the left of the image, doesn't work because Sweet Pea brings them to me two at a time, so I may try gluing them with wood glue.

What's your experience with slugs and snails? Have you found anything else that works?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Toddler Talk

Sweet Pea has been adding new vocabulary on a daily basis. She can say:
  • jump
  • Nana
  • step
  • boat
  • bike
  • nose
  • eye
  • cheeks
  • knees
  • toes
And many others. In the last few days she has started repeating things all the time. This is the point at which we realize "we REALLY need to watch what we say!" I have never been one to throw curse words around, and while Average used to, he doesn't much anymore, at home at least. This new stage of mimicry has just reinforced to me that I need to be mindful of what I say and how I say things to her and to everyone around me. Our children really do learn most from observing us. I am proud that Sweet Pea says "no" sweetly instead of angrily, and enjoys giving hugs and kisses. I think her dad and I can attribute those things at least partly to a positive example, but I cringe when I hear her pretending to talk on the phone with her sharp and to the point "uh, yeah, no, uh" noises. That is pretty much how Average and I sound on the phone to each other at times. At least she has recently added a nice "Heh-woe" at the beginning of her phone talk, which is super cute!


My idea is that we should try to be kind and gentle with each other, and use good words that we would want our children to use, and they will follow our model for them. I'm sure a few curse words will get thrown in when Sweet Pea hears them, but planning to try to ignore them when they do. My parents told me I went through a "cussing" stage when I was little but they ignored it and I stopped. For people without kids, do you watch your language around kids? Why or why not? For people with babies and toddlers, have you been thinking about changing how you talk in front of your kids? Or would you not need to? For people with older kids, what have you seen happen as they grow?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

World Breastfeeding Week


We are in the middle of World Breastfeeding Week, if you didn't already know.

According to the WHO, August 1-7 is celebrated each year "in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world." 

Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond. 
  -- WHO


As a nursing mother, I have seen the benefits of breastfeeding to myself and my daughter continue into toddlerhood. At seventeen months old, Sweet Pea typically only nurses a few times a day, especially when we are busy and out and about. Those few minutes of nursing are a nice time to come back together, cuddle, and relax. The last couple of days, however, she and I have both been under the weather and nursing much more often. During these rough nights I have been so glad to be able to comfort and nourish her with breastmilk. It is the quickest, easiest, and generally most beneficial way to soothe her when she isn't feeling well. Also, this is the first time she has been sick besides getting a cold in the winter, which I feel I can partially attribute to breastfeeding.

For your enoyment and edification, here is a video from UNICEF, which sheds some light on the importance of breastfeeding around the world.



On the YouTube page for this video, you can read a variety of opinions about the length of time a mother should continue breastfeeding. I wanted to go beyond a year, and have accomplished that, but beyond this point I have no specific plans. I figure I'll know when it's time to stop. My opinion is that it is a very personal choice based on the needs and wishes of each mother-baby pair, and the circumstances they are in. Whether a mom chooses not to breastfeed or can't, or chooses to breastfeed into childhood, every mother deserves respect for her choices. The important thing to me is that all who wish to breastfeed have the necessary information and support.


Happy Breastfeeding Week!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Our Growing Garden

Summer 2010 gardening got off to a late start, due to cold weather here well into June, and late planting from us since it took so much work just to get the beds prepared. We are getting close to having an abundance of food from our garden, just now at the first of August. So far, we have eaten strawberries and raspberries (mostly Sweet Pea ate those because she picked them nearly every time we went outside), some snap peas, zucchini, a head of broccoli, and some herbs.


About to ripen are tomatoes, cabbage, beans, a second round of berries, and within the next month we will have apples, plums, corn, carrots, and potatoes.

This is what the garden looked like June 11:
Here is July 11:

Then in two weeks, things grew like mad (July 25):

And by yesterday, one week later, you can see that I planted too close together once again:
It is so gratifying to see the fruits (and vegetables, haha) of our labor. Every year and every planting is a learning process. This year I might try for a winter garden as well using maybe three of the beds. What do people like for overwintering mulch? Straw, leaves, newspaper? I am considering all three. Maybe we'll do an experiment.

I would welcome links to your garden posts and photos in comments! Please share!