Dec 20, 2011

Nothing like an episode of Hoarders to inspire me to declutter

Bobby came home from Afghanistan for Christmas and New Years on Thursday, so to welcome him back I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner, for the second time. While the turkey was thawing, I needed to do a massive de-clutter on my kitchen in order to maximize my working space for a large meal, for a large family, in a small space. A show that always gets me inspired to clean is Hoarders, on A&E. I really admire the people behind the scenes though. The people who have to clean up the messiest of the messes with shovels, or lift heavy furniture onto trucks. The men and women from 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

When we moved from Colorado to Washington, we contacted them prior to moving for a quote, and I was very impressed with their professionalism and rates, but in the end we just did not have time to bring in a team to help us (5 days to make a 1,500 mile move with a family of 6 plus 5 pets will do that to you). However, now I know what we did wrong, and you bet next time we move we will be making a ton of changes. What I really appreciate about 1-800-GOT-JUNK is they don't just take your unwanted appliances, garbage, and electronic equipment to the landfill, but instead donate anything usable to local charities, and their list of products they recycle is quite impressive. That was one of the reasons why we wanted to work with them instead of just renting a dumpster like a lot of people do before they move.

In the end, we ended up making about 10 trips to Goodwill, 4 trips to the dump, and had a bunch more picked up by appliance salvage companies. It was far from ideal, but it worked with our schedule. After my large cleaning spree yesterday, I may just be making that phone call again soon.

Dec 15, 2011

A poem, for my God

I asked God for a daughter. And he gave me a son.
And I praised Him. And I loved my boy.

I asked God for a daughter. And he gave me a son.
He grew in my heart, and not in my womb.
And I praised Him. And I loved my boy.

I asked God for a baby. And he made me wait.
I loved on my sons. And I praised Him.
I accepted His plan, for just two sons, and he filled my womb.

I asked God for a daughter. And he gave me a son.
And I cried. But I praised him. And I loved my boy.

I asked God for a baby. And he made me wait.
I loved on my sons. And I praised Him.
I accepted His plan, for just three sons, and he filled my womb.

I asked God to give me whatever he wanted, I just wanted him/her healthy.
And he gave me a daughter. And I praised Him.
He made her three times as girly. Three times as sassy. Three times as sweet.
And I praised him. I loved my girl. He completed my family.

He filled my womb, which came as a shock. But I praised him.
And I said "PLEASE GOD, MAKE HIM A SON!"
And he did. For God does not give you more than you can handle.

:)

Dec 13, 2011

What might have been

A conversation with a friend today took me down memory lane. I am seriously astounded at the glimpse I saw of our alternate life. If he had not been injured, Bobby would probably have made his E-7 with 14 years in. He would be on his 5th or 6th trip overseas. We probably would not have had our 4th and 5th children, since the reproduction help I needed with Sophia would not have been affordable out of pocket (our old insurance covered it). We may not have even had a 3rd! We were struggling in our relationship and it was the fear that I could lose him that melted the ice in my heart, and if we had pulled through and still had Matthew, he would have missed Matthew's birth by just a few weeks. We probably would have been still struggling with debt, who knows where we would be living. And you know, it just goes to show, HOW much we are given when we face hardships and struggles. Seven to eight years ago was the darkest time in my life. I was struggling with my marriage, with my role as a step-mom, with myself. When Bobby was injured, it was a wakeup call how precious life is, how much I loved my husband, my life, my children. I realized there was no shame in being a mother as a career and how much I truly needed to be in my kids' life, and how important it was for them to have two parents who love them, and grow up in a happy home.

I hate that my husband deals with chronic pain. I would take that burden from him in a heartbeat if I could, and it would STILL be worth every single struggle. I once saw an interview with a young Native American teenager who said he would chose the muddy road over easy street, because only the man who struggled and built his muscles on the muddy road emerges a warrior.

Nov 17, 2011

That's my mommy. I like her.

Earlier this week I had a busy busy day. My new bed was delivered (which I LOVE) and the carpet my daughter ruined 6 months ago was replaced with vinyl. Sophie was SO up the rear end of the repairman it was hilarious. Any time the door opened she would chine "IT'S CHRIS!" and he would mirror back to her "yes, it is Chris!" and she would run check in on him every 2-3 minutes. I was in the other room with Liam and I hear Sophie talking to Chris. She's got that know-it-all tone going on and I just know her hand is on her hip. She says "That is my mommy. I like her. She's nice. She's my girl." At this point both Chris and I are cracking up. She is such a sweet little pixie. I like her. She's my girl.

Nov 9, 2011

Forgetful

Posted by Gaylord Campbell

I do a lot of things really well. I am a fairly decent housekeeper, I am pretty good at my job, and I pay my bills on time. Know what I don’t do well? Remember to lock my front door. It is a legitimate problem, because no matter how safe your neighborhood is, leaving your front door open is just asking for trouble, really. The good news is I never forget to set my ADT TUCSON alarm. So although I am offering anyone the opportunity to just walk right in my door and steal every one of my worldly possessions, there will be a very loud alarm going off as they do so. I feel like it improves our odds at least a little bit. Kind of like I’m saying “Oh hey guys, come on in and take a look around!” but then when they do run in and try to rob us blind, the alarm starts blaring and the alarm company is called. It’s the best I can hope for at this point, because I know I’m not going to remember to lock the front door.

Sep 26, 2011

He has his brothers' comedic timing.

Matthew and Austin both have impeccable timing when it comes to landing the punchline. Matthew's started when he was an infant, by accident, and Austin's started about 4th grade. They really take after their dad in this aspect. Tonight the boys gave us a good laugh. Austin is taking child development to meet girls learn more about kids, and his first big project is to carry around a flour sack baby. True to Austin form, he has dressed up his new little baby in costumes, made it a birth story, and named it.



Meet my "grandbaby" Lucifer. Isn't he a peach? Austin says his back story is that he was born a stillborn and he had to make a deal with the devil to bring him back. His teacher asked if he watched horror movies. He's such a goober. Tonight at dinner, Austin was holding Liam and had Lucy, I will call him, on the counter. Austin goes "Look Liam, it is your new nephew!" and Liam says "NOOO! UH-UH!!" which had us all immediately cracking up. He has never said either of those words, and I will often say "uh-uh" when someone is touching something they are not supposed to. For the rest of the night, we all kept repeating "Noooo! Uh-uh!" This kid is a riot. Not even 9 months old and already he knows the punchline.

Sep 19, 2011

Do you ever feel like a dream is nagging at you?



For the last three days, I have been haunted by a dream. Not the events in the dream, but the house in the dream. It is not a house I recognize, it is not even a house I can picture myself in (it appears older, and run down). But for the last several years, I see this same house. Only the back yard, and very specific details. A converted unattached garage at the back left corner of the property, the garage has been converted to a mother in law apartment with access to an alley in the back, and into the yard on the side. It is a small studio with a bathroom, and kitchenette. On the very back of the property is a chain link fence, and a garden that spans the entire back of the property, but is only about 8 feet wide with a small rock path from the garage to the back yard. In front of the garden is another fenced in area, this one not as long, just as wide with a worn out wire fence. Half the yard is flat, then it inclines leading into a walk-out basement. On the main floor of the house there is a large deck, and one more floor above that. The house is blue, or green, and barren of any sort of foliage. I cannot tell what area this house is in, although it has green grass, so we can rule out Texas or Colorado. LOL

The dreams itself vary, and usually don't stick with me, as much as this house. I have very briefly seen the inside, but it seems that the back yard is the most significant element. The last dream I had involved finding out the mother in law apartment had been broken into, and a mother, father, and toddler were living in there unbeknownst to us. We ended up finding out they were legal immigrants who could not make ends meet and had recently lost their home. We agreed to let them stay and furnished the home with stuff we had in the house, allowing them to stay rent free and feeding them meals, in exchange for help around the house in the evenings. I babysat the little boy for a few hours while they worked to get some money saved to get a place of their own. This part of the dream seemed sort of injected into a dream that focused mainly on the back yard. I just wish I knew what it meant.

Sep 16, 2011

Cleaning, simplifying, and organizing.

With the oldest 3 kids in school I have been struggling a bit trying to keep the princess from being bored without her entertainment. She did not care for my ideas; coloring turned her into a sobbing puddle of goo, reading to her just annoyed her, and car rides to do stuff just ended in us both being frustrated. About the only thing she enjoyed doing was taking out every toy she owned, and digging through her dresser and discarding clean clothes onto the floor mixed with dirty clothes. Flustered, I had had enough. I reached out to my friends on Facebook who recommended toy rotation. And so the planning process started. I made a difficult decision to finally allow the 6 year old and 3 year old share a room, they had been asking for a year, but when I let them sleep in the room with the bunk beds, sleepovers were always cut short because of climbing accidents.



So instead of moving the kids into the room with the bunk beds, I left the loft portion of the bed in the playroom and removed the latter, and put the bottom bed into Sophie's room. We got two large bags of clothes out of dressers to go to Goodwill, and packed up NINE totes of toys, each tote holding 11 gallons, which will be stored in our storage room until we rotate them in, and move other toys out. It was hard to let go of a lot of the clothes. In the process I also donated the last of my scrub sets. It was a hard decision, I always thought about going back to nursing school, or working as a nurse aide again, but it just does not make sense to store them any longer, especially when I can easily get more at places like http://www.blueskyscrubs.com/ so easily.

I am tickled at how well the two rooms look, and it will be very easy to move Liam's crib into the play room once he is ready to leave our room. Bedtime has not been as seamless, 6 days later we are still struggling with them falling asleep in a timely matter. We are still dealing with fighting and tattling, but either in time I will grow immune, or they will chill it out. Another perk, I now have a "guest room", so as long as you don't mind literally climbing into bed, or sleeping in a room filled with toys.

Next on the agenda, is going to be going through my kitchen to get rid of dishes, and appliances I no longer need. Taking a trip to the dump, and getting my storage room back in control.

Sep 15, 2011

And this is why I had cake for breakfast....

My girl can eat, I know this. At age 3, she's a whopping 26 lbs, and size 18 month pants (2T shirts) so it is easy to assume she eats like a bird, but she can easily match what her 6 year old brother eats. This last week though, she has been in rare form, easily eating seconds or thirds at every meal. Today was no exception, the "I'm huuuuuuuu-ngry" started the moment she rolled out of bed at 6:30am. By 7am she had already had a bowl of cereal, a bagel, and a handful of dried fruit and nuts. At 8am to "I want a snack" chorus started. Every time I turned around "I'm hungry" and "I want a snack!"

Evey time she opened her mouth to whine, I slowly felt my sanity slipping away that I was clawing at to keep a small grasp on. But I pushed on, I knew I had to be productive. First I tried to find my wool shaver, Liam's wool diaper was looking kind of pilly. I searched high and low and could not find it, so I moved on and started soaking some covers in the sink. While searching for the shaver, I gathered some other items I needed for knitting later today when I get a chance. I turned around and Sophie was holding a handful of stitch markers she had taken off with a week before. We had searched high and low, but they never turned up. All we had to do was look on top of my comforter, under the throw at the foot of my bed. Well duh, what an obvious place!

I knew all hell would break loose if I set foot in my kitchen, so by 10am I still had not had breakfast or a second cup of coffee. Even when I removed the cup of water she set on my laptop, I moved it to the kitchen table just so I would not have to hear her flip out if I walked by the fridge. However, now I was at an impasse, if I wanted to put away the stitch markers, I would have to go into the kitchen to put them back in the container. Again, not where I had it, and not where I would look, but unfortunately, there it was. True to form, she started her "I'm hungry" chant, so I figured if I was in for a penny I was in for a pound. I made another cup of coffee, and cut a slice of cake, yes, cake for breakfast. In my defense, I added walnuts to it last night and called it coffee cake, and coffee cake is breakfast cake, right?

I finally think my day is looking back up. Sophie is watching TV next to me, letting me write this. I will feed her an early lunch here in a couple minutes, I am hoping she will take a nap, or at least lay down, while Liam is down for his nap. I am hoping he gets a good nap, I had a hard time getting him down, Sophie would not leave my room as I was laying him in his crib. Scratch this, the garbage truck came to pick up my trash, and now he's crying. I think I need more coffee and cake.

Aug 29, 2011

A woman's job is never done

I think the most frustrating job as a busy mom is keeping my carpets clean. With 5 kids, a big dog, 3 cats, and exposed dirt in the back yard, I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle. It never fails that within a week of sweating behind a carpet cleaner for several hours, someone will spill something, or dig in dirt and track it all over my floor.

Today I had to spot clean dirt tracked in from the dog, the 3 year old, red sauce in the dining room, and a mystery spot in the living room, all this within seven days of cleaning the entire upstairs. I am lucky though that I have a decent carpet cleaner, and a mini cleaner that I can do touch ups with. However, the very best cleaners in the world cannot help me when it comes to the task I have been putting off, cleaning my sofa and chairs.

Cleaning my sofas and chairs is a job that to me is ten thousand times worse than carpet cleaning, especially with my microfiber sofa and dining room chairs. They boast that they are easy to clean, which I agree, they release stains easily... however, I always feel like I am not doing a good enough job because I leave streaks and lines behind. My husband talked me into a light colored reclining sofa when we moved here 18 months ago, and it was probably the worse purchase I have ever made. Not only is it falling apart from all the moving parts, but it is white!? Need I say more? Any kind of water I get one this thing leaves water spots and it looks worse than it did before. I should probably invest in a visit from a professional cleaner, but part of me just wants to go buy a new couch, and leave my husband out of the decision making process.

Image courtesy of http://www.thesteamteam.com/ for upholstery cleaning services austin.

The Universe (and Babies) do NOT Hear the Word "Not"




Liam has a bit of a summer cold, with a bit of a wheezy unproductive cough, so I figured a hot shower might do some good and moving some of his phlegm. All went well, until I laid him on my bed, turned to grab a diaper and said to him "do not pee on my bed". I may as well have just given him a formal invitation to whiz on my bed, because sure enough, he crawled forward, and there was a nice big puddle on my sheets.

I forgot rule #1, you manifest what you ask for, and by telling him not to pee on my bed, the universe hear "pee on bed", just like my sweet boy. Ever wonder why when you say "I am not going to throw up, I am not going to throw up" your body hears "time to puke?" The word "not" is just too complicated. Try telling your kids "do not wipe your hands on your pants", do they grab a napkin? No way! The second you say that, their hands go right for their jeans and wipe peanut butter all over their lap. Next time, say "napkin please!" and hand them a napkin. I bet they will spare their pants.

The word "not" goes missing in a lot of things in life (and any negative statement for that reason). Pay your bills, buy groceries and fill your car up with gas, tell yourself "I am so broke" when you have only a couple hundred dollars in the account, and an unexpected expense will come up. Some say "that is so ironic", it is not irony, it is you communicating what you want. Just like you teach others how to treat you, you teach the universe how to treat you.

I use the word "universe" here, but it may mean many things. The creator, God, fate, your body, destiny, etc., it really just depends on your belief of how things work. Really watch your self-speak for a week or so, and see how you manifest your own destiny. Tell a friend "my brother is coming for a visit, he's such a pain in the neck". The day of his visit, you wake up with a stiff neck... wonder why? You told your body to manifest the stress you are feeling over his visit literally.

Back to Liam peeing on my bed. In the end, his action was a positive one, as I was stripping my bed grumbling about them needing washed, I noticed some clean sheets I had folded and laid out at the foot of my bed last week. I had planned on putting clean sheets on my bed, but then never got around to it. This was just another way I was being nudged to do the right thing and be productive.

Jun 5, 2011

Decaf, you finally have your place in this world.

This weekend, I had a fabulous time in Portland with the kiddos. We went for a fabulous baby shower, and got to take in the sights while I was there. The one downside, is I could not bring my new lover. His name is Keurig, and he brings a fire to my belly and a glow to my soul. If you have never met Keurig, mi amour, here is a picture:


Seriously. BEST mother's day gift EVER. I tease my husband he got me addicted to coffee to get me to quit harping on him for his cigar addiction. Well dangit, it worked.

While in Portland, I missed my new lover so much. I walked by many Starbucks and City Coffees, which were just teases because it wasn't even 7pm and they were CLOSED! I could make a cup or two in my room, but the taste was not as good as my Tully's or Wolfgang Puck flavors. In a sample pack I got some Chef's Reserve Colombian Decaf and I was thinking "decaf?! Why in the hell would I want THAT?!?" Well, around 10pm I was jonsing for a good cup o joe, I had some convenience store brew on the way home that was just not that lovely, and then got busy with unpacking, kids, and laundry, so when that craving hit I almost cried when I saw how late it was until I spun my little k-cup carousel and saw my petite little k-cup-o-decaf. *swoon*

Not only is it heaven in my mouth, but it shouldn't prevent me from melting into my bed. Ohhhh how I missed my bed. The hotel beds were fantastic, but how wonderful can they be when the baby is co-sleeping and figured he can have around the clock access to the breast he normally does not demand 3 feet away from me in his crib and a 3 year old kicking me.

However, the apple who tried to fill my craving for a doughnut.... while I do give it an A for effort for trying, gets an F for completion.

When balancing your account leads to headaches

Nothing like purchases on the bank statement that you do not recognize to get your mind spinning and your pulse racing. I had two such charges tonight and they almost made me panic and get my free credit score. I knew they were probably something I could easily explain, especially with me traveling and spending at new places, but it got me thinking of the steps I would take if I really did have suspicious charges on your bank register:


  • Look at the date of purchase and try to remember what you were doing that day. What did you eat? Where did you go? Who were you with? Remember, some times there is a delay, so try to think of the 1-3 days before the purchase date, especially on weekends.
  • Google the name or better yet, if they provide an address you can almost guarantee google maps will jog your memory. I remember in Colorado Springs "SDI" would throw me off when I saw it on my bank statement. A quick google of SDI helped me remember the half priced drinks I had gotten that week for happy hour at Sonic Drive-In.
  • Check your pockets/purse/wallet for receipts. Pending totals may differ from actual totals, especially for gas stations, hotels, or places with gratuity. You may remember spending $24 on a haircut, but the total may be pending as $19 if you left a $5 tip.
  • If your bank provides a category, you may be able to narrow down what you were doing if/when you made the purchase.
  • If you have a joint account, check with your spouse.
  • If you shop online, scan your inbox, sometimes there is a delay in billing and if you ordered something days ago, but it is just now being shipped, there may be a phantom charge you don't recognize.
  • Call your bank, they can see phone numbers an addresses you may not be privy to on your end. They can also transfer you to their fraud unit if they deem the charges suspicious.
  • If the fraud unit deems your account breached, they will freeze your account activity, cancel your card, and reissue you a new one.
  • Follow up with the three major credit reporting bureaus to make sure nothing unusual shows up on your credit report to lower you credit score.



Thankfully, I was able to hunt down my recent receipts in my purse, and the mystery of the two phantom purchases were solved. 99.9% of the time it is an innocent mistake of forgetfulness, but it is nice to have an emergency plan in place on how to handle mystery charges.

May 31, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 8, a day late

#FlatsChallengeI ended up throwing in the towel half way into day 8. However, I made it the whole 7 days, and I felt fine conceding. I decided to put little boy back into pockets because he had a stealth-poo and took a long nap, and when he woke up, his little bits were pretty angry. I tossed my flats in and covers in the washer and I feel pretty darn proud of myself. When I was folding laundry tonight I was able to get a better grip on how many flats, wipes and covers I ended up using.


  • 5 covers, 4 Thirsties v2, size small, $6.50 from Diaper Swappers, and 1 Fab Fitted, print, $13.25. Total $39.25
  • 16 Target Flour Sack Towels, $1 each, 3 birdseye Flats, $1.80 each, 2 preemie prefolds, .80 each. Total $23
  • 1 snappi $4, 15 wipes $3 (repurposed, torn blankets, and baby washcloths). Homer camp style Wash Bucket, $7. Total $14

So for $76.25, I was able to cloth diaper my baby, with the right supplies, for life!

The good: Flats were surprisingly easy! Folding was not as complicated or time consuming as I assumed. We had 3 leaks in 8 days, so they are very absorbent. I had no problem changing a diaper at 6am while half asleep with a wiggly baby. Being a geographically single mom with 4 other kids did not complicate it. My flats are SO forgiving, they are still beautiful white, soft, and smell like cotton. One of my covers got a little stained, but nothing that will effect wear. I love how trim they are, and how small they will fold into my suitcase when we travel. Line drying was so simple, and even on an overcast cool slightly breezy day, clothesline flats and covers dried much faster than inside hung diapers. Overnight is the perfect amount of time for indoor drying.

The bad: I will not lie, hand washing was hard. It was time consuming, tiring, and I really missed my washer and dryer at the end. In a real life situation I would probably have a larger quantity of diapers, and covers on hand. I would probably also try to borrow a washer a few times a week. I also would use a better plunger, my wood handled plunger ended up flaking paint onto my diapers. I also was not impressed on how much water it took to get my diapers clean.

The ugly: My hands are pretty calloused, my shoulders hurt the first part of the week, and my nerves were shot at the end by trying to wash quickly while the baby was napping, or folding flats off the line one handed with baby in arms. Liam was less than patient at times, and there were washes where I would get the baby calmed, run, agitate two minutes, comfort a baby again, plunge some more.

What I would do/do different: Like I said, I better handle for a plunger was necessary. My adjustable shower head that can adjust to a single jet was a lifesaver. A wet pail where it could not pose a drowning risk was so helpful. Hangers and clothespins to hang diapers from worked out so well. Line drying even when chilly and overcast pays off. A sense of humor was mandatory, as well as a healthy dose of determination. Splashing was almost guaranteed, wearing pajamas that I was going to change out of with pants rolled up worked well. I may have looked for a faster drying cover, I look forward to an Econobum coming in the mail, I hear they dry well. NEVER underestimate the power of the sun, instant whitener and stain lifter!

The best thing about this challenge was my confidence in myself, the amazing sense of community I gained, and the information gathered that I could not help but tell everyone about! In the forums, I repeatedly told people to try flats and come look at my blog. In Target, I stopped a young couple who were cloth diapering their baby and struggling with the start up cost and gave them a primer on flat use. And to my mom, who was probably ready for me to shut up already on cloth diapers in general.

What I am going to do next: Because I know I have all these new flats that I enjoy using, I am going to start de-stashing. I already got rid of quite a few older diapers. Next going will be newborn diapers split between 2 families, and then all my girly diapers to a friend north of me. After that? Who knows. Maybe I will find a family to sponsor with a primer guide as well as a half dozen flats and a cover?

Thank you Kim, at Dirty Diaper Laundry for taking us with you on what you described as Diaper Boot Camp. I feel like a much stronger warrior now, and I will continue to fight for the cause; for healthy bottoms, healthy budgets, and a healthy planet!



May 29, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 7

#FlatsChallengeAfter yesterday's sunshine, and today's prediction that it would be even more sunny and hot, I decided I would wet pail (just as it sounds, you are storing dirty diapers in a pail full of water) my diapers until I could wash them this morning. Either the wet pail worked, or my mom-nesia blocked out a lack of BMs yesterday, because he only had a couple spots that needed hand scrubbing.

My one issue with hand washing is the incredible amount of water usage. I am not the most water conservative person, but I felt like I was using up a lot more water than I wanted to be. So I used the water from my shower to wet pail. When I was cleaning my hair, I let the soapy water drain over my diapers. I let them soak in that. And while I was showering this morning I used that time to rinse my diapers. Then while I was shaving, I let the water fill up the bucket with a small scoop of tide and then when I was all clean I agitated them, rinsed them, wrung them out and hung them to dry, hoping that the ominous black clouds decide not to dump until after my diapers are dry and off the line.



Today is officially the last day, but I am thinking I am going to extend until tomorrow, but machine wash on Tuesday, unless we run out of covers. I will also be able to use Tuesday to sum up my experience and share what I learned. Kim, the founder of the project, gave us the option to stop tonight at midnight, or to stop the 30th at midnight.

*Edited to add pictures*
I went outside to check the progress of my flats and got these pictures of my dog Isis playing under my clothes line. My camera has a super fast shutter speed and she still managed to look like a blur, she was really zooming and having a great time! Unfortunatly, my diapers are still pretty damp, and it isn't very warm out right now, 59 degrees with an occasional breeze of 8mph, but we only have a 10% chance of rain until sunset, so just the wind alone I am hoping will dry them.

*Edited once again to add this:

It is amazing how quickly you can go from laid back to emergency. When I woke up, Liam had 1 dirty diaper in the wet pail from his night time diaper. I changed him, washed him, and put a clean diaper on him. I changed him twice more, one cover was saturated and the other one contained a poop of epic proportion. He some moisture wicked onto his clothing, but the poop mess was 100% contained in his cover. So now he has one clean cover, two dirty covers in the wet pail and so he had two clean ones, right? Problem is, *both* were missing. I called "all hands on deck" to get my helpers rounded up and one clean cover was found, someone put it on the stuffed bunny. The second one was nowhere to be found. I finally located it, 15 year old had put it in the diaper pail, not the orange wet pail I told him to. And when I asked him twice if he had moved it into the appropriate pail, he claimed he had. So I quickly washed the three covers, wrapped them in a dry towel and walked all over it to get them as dry as I could. Two got hung in my bathroom, one joined the other still wet cover outside on the line. The baby is in his last clean cover and I am changing him frequently so it stays as dry as possible. I would like to avoid having to go cover-free if at all possible. Sorry for any typos, I have a 5 month old guest blogger today who keeps trying to mess with my laptop.




May 28, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 6

#FlatsChallenge
Glorious sunshine, and nary a wet diaper to hang! It looks like today is the coolest day of the long weekend, and the next two weeks will be nice and toasty, so I will wash my covers tonight as to not repeat the procrastination damp cover mistake from yesterday, but wash my flats in the morning so they can be sunning. We had a minor leak today, even with a doubled up diaper, but it was following a nursing marathon and a long nap.

The nicest thing about this challenge is the tips I have gained from the community of other bloggers participating in this experiment, just click on any of the links below and visit any of these extraordinary bloggers. Make sure you comment and tell them how awesome they doing.



Cotton Bottom Mama hung her diapers with clothes pins on hangers and then hung her diapers in a nice neat row on her shower. What a great tip! No more diapers hanging from every single surface of my bathroom!!

Another tip I read was to beat up your diapers against furniture to soften them up! This works so well, my diapers are no longer stiff, and the helpers were eager to lend a hand. I have to say, I have the cutest help ever! I was worried how well I would be able to juggle 5 kids, flats, and hand washing, especially without my husband's help (he's in Afghanistan), but it has been a lot easier than I imagined. I do want to say sorry to my husband, there were a few times when we were Skyping that he would run off to go shower, and I would run off to churn diapers and he would be back and dressed, and I had left him waiting. Sorry honey!



May 27, 2011

Down and down it goes

Back in 2004, before the housing market went all topsy-turvy, we purchased our first home with a VA Home Loan, the process itself was easy and pretty fast and I would do it again, in fact I house hunt weekly and drool over where we *could* live. Problem is, the value of my house has dipped so much, I can't even do a FHA Streamline Refinance. However, I view this as a blessing. It means we can't jump into a new home without taking the proper steps first. That means 20% down, and a 15 year mortgage with payments plus insurance being no more than 25% of our take home pay. Until then, we will be happy renters and be thankful we found a house that we can fit into, with a good school district, GREAT neighbors, and allowed us to keep our pets. So, if we can't sell our house in Colorado, and we can't but a house in Washington in a while, I guess it's not all bad. We will call it a 5 year plan.

Flats Challenge: Day 5

#FlatsChallengeToday I ran into my front snag. Liam fell asleep in my arms while I was talking with a neighbor after taking Matt to the bus stop. Since he rarely does this, I figured I would ray him in his crib and get some nice baby free time. He rarely naps out of my arms, so it was awesome when I was able to lay him down and get some chores done. Unfortunately I forgot to change him before the trip to the bus stop. I also forgot that I was testing a single flat in a pad fold. I also had him in a larger cover that I normally use for night time, so it was not as snug. When he woke up he had this first leak. Not bad I guess considering it was probably the 40th flat. I blame this on user error, not diaper failure.

Last night, it looked like we might be clearing up, so I decided not to wash diapers and to wash and hang them in the morning, so I can sun them in the afternoon and dry them in a couple hours vs. overnight, and naturally bleach them. Mistake #2. I KNEW the forecast wasn't calling for sun this week. I had one clean cover left, and he had already had a big poop earlier, I would be fine. I washed and hung his diapers and I noticed him turning red. I guess the poop earlier was just a warm up, and this was the main attraction. I cleaned him, got him nice and doubled up, went to grab a cover and none was to be found! I looked on the rack and four were hanging and I just put the 5th into my soapy bucket so I could wash it too. So if I really was without a washer and dryer, today I think I would have run screaming to the laundromat or to a friends house. Since this was an emergency, I decided to think of a way to rapidly dry the diaper that the average family home and the only thing I could think of was the hair dryer. I may have been cheating, but while the baby happily chewing on his feet in a diaper sans cover, I was washing the newly pooped in diaper and had the hair dryer angled to blow on the dryest of my 4 covers. It got done just in time too, after he nursed, Liam was exhausted and went to bed.

Overall though, I still wish I had known about flats when I was a new mama. My hubby had just joined the Army and we were struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. I remember letting him wear his diapers an extra hour or so because I knew how expensive they were. I remember counting change and hoping we could scrape together enough for a small bag of generics because we were a few days from payday. Even if I had cloth diapered part time, it would have really stretched our budget. However, in 1997, I didn't know anything about cloth back then outside of the diapers my mother used one me. Even back then, I would have had options outside of the rubber pants my mom used on me. That is a picture of my mom and I in 1980. I was 15 months old.



May 26, 2011

Flats Challenge: Days 3 and 4

#FlatsChallengeI didn't have time to write an update for yesterday, and really I didn't have much to say. I have been trying a new fold each day, yesterday I did the pad fold, which would be awesome for mamas used to pockets (you could use this fold to stuff a pocket) or to use with the hybrid cover, like a Flip, where flaps are sewn into the front and back of the cover to hold the flap in place. I fold all my diapers into the pad fold when I put them away on my changing table because they fit so nicely in the bin on my table. I stack them standing up on their hem and they look so pretty and clean lined up. I absolutely LOVE my changing table, I made it myself out of items I could re-purpose when I no longer need it. The entire thing was from items purchased at Target, and except for the shelf, the bins and pad are things I would have to buy for the table anyways (maybe not as many bins) but I have twice the storage at half the price and this thing is STURDY.





It rained all day yesterday, and I knew it would because we are not supposed to have sun until Saturday according to the forecast, so I decided to start a cold soak in my camp washer when the boy was laid down, and when he was asleep I quickly did a wash and hung in my bathroom to dry. With the exception of my wipes, by morning everything was dry. To soften the flats up a bit I beat them against my bed before pad folding them and putting them away.

Today I am focusing on the diaper bag fold. Super simple and I can fold them ahead of time and stack them on my changing table and just toss on my babe and go. Changing with flats gets fast now that I am used to it. I also have started trusting the flats more and am no longer needing doublers. Little man's diapers are so trim he's back in 0-3 month pants that never fit over his butt and onsies, which I have ALWAYS hated with cloth diapers because they tend to slide into the leg gussets and wick moisture.

It is overcast, but bright and windy today, the PERFECT day for a line dry, and of course I have barely any diapers to wash! I never thought I would be sad I didn't have enough dirty diapers. I did get some night time trainers for The Princess though, so I at least got to wash those, although I used my machine for that. I have noticed that I cannot get my flats quite as while as the wash machine does. The diapers all come really clean, but I did have some staining on one particularly dirty diaper. However, I am really shocked how clean they get hand-washing, my expectations is that they would all be stained when I hung them up to dry and it just is not the case, they all come beautifully white with just a little Tide and hot water. My routine is: cold soak in the bucket, swirl, and go find something to do. Come back, drain, rinse diapers. Add hot water and 1T of Tide to the bucket. Add diapers. Agitate for a few minutes. Soak some more. Come back, agitate some more, drain and rinse diapers and bucket with shower head. Add more hot water, put the diapers back the in and agitate with my hands. Then I ring them out, shake them good, and hang to dry. For covers, I roll them in a dry clean towel, and then hang to dry.



May 24, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 2

#FlatsChallenge

Today was diaper washing day! Using my bucket from Home Depot with a hole poked in the lid, the plunger (with holes drilled into the rubber) I was able to churn my diapers like butter. First in cold water without soap for a couple minutes to rinse them. Then with super hot water with a tablespoon of powdered Tide for 4-5 minutes, then I rinsed the diapers and bucket and ran some more hot water in the bucket, churned for another minute to get out all the soap. Drained, rung out and hung them outside on the line to dry. I did take breaks between these steps as I was trying to get my kindergartener ready for school. He also churned it a few minutes for me. Washing took maybe 10-15 minutes, hanging took a little longer, but maybe another 10-15 minutes. While I was busy washing, Liam was busy making more work for me, because after I changed him and washed the diaper he was in and was hanging my clean diapers, he made me a dirty diaper. I ended up washing a 2nd load because it was so gross I didn't want it sitting there until my next wash day.



Aren't they lovely?!

***

Yesterday I said I would upload a tutorial on folding a flat. There are many different ways, some easier than others, My favorite is the "origami" fold. I was a little intimidated at first, but what I love about is that you can roll in a preemie prefold, or another flat. All the material is concentrated in the middle of the diaper, so it is trim without much material on the hips. My boy is a heavy wetter, so I will be showing you how to add a soaker, or this could be a night time diaper.


You will need, two flats, a snappi, a waterpoof cover. The flats are folded into squares, you can see the size difference between the Target Flour Sack Towel (bottom) and the birdseye flats The cover is a Thirsties Duo, size 2, in Cool Stripes on the smallest setting.


I have folded the smaller flat into 3rds without unfolding it from the square I had it folded in. Set the soaker aside.



On your primary diaper, locate the part of your square that has four finished edges. Grab the top of the four edges as shown and pull it straight across to the left.



Keep pulling.



See how a triangle appears? Smooth this out and here is where I got lost the first time. Grab your two bottom corners closest to you and you are going to flip the diaper upside down. The long edge will now be facing away from you, and the triangle will be under your new shape.



The square shape on the right, that is your soaker layer.



Lay the diaper you set aside on the right edge and start folding the diaper around it.



You will start seeing your triangle again as you fold your soaker layers towards the center.



When you are done, your diaper will look like this. Lay the baby down on the diaper.



The bottom of the triangle will go between baby's legs. Hold the front of the diaper and grab one of the wings and lay it across the front of the diaper.



If you want to get fancy, you can roll the wing edges inwards towards the baby's bum. They will act sort of like "poop barriers" to keep any messes in the diaper, not on your cover, as well as keep the diaper trim.



You can either tuck the wings under the front of the diaper and put a cover on now, or if you want a more secure fit you can use a snappi.



To put a snappi on bite one set of teeth into one of the wings, then stretch it and bite it into the diaper over the other side of the baby, finally, stretch the shortest piece downward and bite into the front of the diaper.



Slide the cover over the baby and secure, make sure you check around the legs to make sure there are no gaps, or no pieces of diaper sticking out. Poke those pieces in, or tighten the diaper if you need.

Here is a video I found on youtube that showed me how to fold a flat with the origami fold.



Super easy!




May 23, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 1

#FlatsChallenge A few weeks ago I heard about the Flats Challenge, over at Dirty Diaper Laundry. The general gist of this, is for one week we are to use flats, which are a single layer of material, usually cotton, limiting ourselves to only 5 covers, and then hand washing and air drying these diapers for one week. The point of this challenge is to prove on a small budget, you can cloth diaper. I will break down some prices:

For the diapers, my ideal flat stash would include:
1 dozen size large birdseye flats from Green Mountain Diaper (GMD) - $27.
1 dozen small birdseye flats from GMD - $25
1 dozen Target Flour Sack towels in the kitchen towel section, (I have 20) and they are 4/$4, so a dozen would be $12.
I would also splurge on a dozen preemie prefolds from Little Lions, $10. They help you get through the skinny chicken leg stage and work great to make a flat extra absorbent for overnight.

Total for diapers: $74, however, you can get away with only half these, either the Target Flats and newborn prefolds ($22), or newborn prefolds and small flats ($35).

Next, you would need a few covers, 5 size 1 and 5 size 2. I love Thirsties Duos, because the size 1 really does fit from birth until 16/18 lbs. Again, you only need half in the beginning.
5 size 1 @ 12.25ea - $61.25
5 size 2 @ 12.25ea - $61.25

Total for covers: $122.50


For baby wipes, you can either get cheapie washcloths for about $6 for a dozen and it looks like $6 at the dollar store would get you 24, or if you have rags or old receiving blankets you can rip those up for free. I also would get a triple pack of snappi's for $8.

Total cost of accessories: $14

Finally, the diaper washer. I found a tutorial here for a camp washer. After taxes, I paid $17 for the bucket and lid, plunger, and drill bits. Borrow a drill with a 1" and 1/4" bit, and your total would be closer to $8. Use it to store dirty diapers and then on wash day just add hot water and detergent, agitate, rinse and hang to dry.

Total cost of "washer" & pail: $7

So for $217.50 you could comfortably diaper your baby for life. Only $104.25 would be needed when the baby is born. And really, if the flour sack kitchen towels work out well for you (they are fine for us) you could even get away with spending $28 less on diapers. If you figure your baby is in diapers to age 2 1/2, the breakdown is about $6.32 - $7.25 a month! Compare that to the the $2671 Babyworks estimates you will spend the first 2 1/2 years on Huggies. Can you think of a better use for $2,450? Would an extra $74.50 come in handy each month? This doesn't even take into consideration for baby wipes, or if your baby doesn't potty learn at 2 1/2. What if they wet the bed? I know many children who use disposable training pants long after they turn 4.

Today I started day one, and it is a lot easier than I anticipated. I have not had to wash any diapers, but tomorrow it will be in the mid 60's and sun is predicted, so I might do a small load in my camp washer just to get them out on the clothesline. The rest of the week I will probably be hanging them over shower rods overnight to dry. I took pictures today, and hopefully tomorrow I can set some of those up here to share with you.



Cloth Diaper Primer: An introduction to today's modern diapers

Okay, I am going to geek out on you guys here so bear with me. Six years ago, I set out on a quest to cloth diaper my kiddos after a girl in a pregnancy forum mentioned Fuzzi Bunz and I started looking into the modern cloth diaper. Fuzzi Bunz are a type of diaper called a "pocket diaper". Rubber pants are a thing of the past and now most cloth diapers can be sorted into four categories:


  • AIO, or All in One
  • Pockets
  • Covers
  • Hybrid or All in Two


Let me go deeper into the difference. All the diapers mentioned above are just the main part of the diaper, and what make them waterproof. I will explain to you the difference between each one and discuss the pros, and cons.

All in One
The simplest of all cloth diapers to put on the baby and to prepare, these diapers are often called dad/babysitter/daycare friendly. This is because they truly are wash & go. These diapers have improved in the last five years and now are easier for to get cleaner in the wash and dry faster than the older AIO choices. Most now have an absorbent pad that either lays on top of the diaper, agitates out on the wash, or many other creative solutions. The older style had the absorbent layers sewn in, without any way to add extra layers for long car trips, sleep, or a heavy wetter. They also did not dry as fast, or get as clean. Manufacturers are listening and have come up with some wonderful creative solutions to solve the problems the older all-in-one diapers had. At $18-27 per diaper, AIOs tend to be the most expensive cloth solution.

Pockets
Also dad/babysitter/grandparent friendly are pocket diapers. That is because with a little more prep work than the AIO, the diaper can simply be snapped or hooked on with aplix or touchtape (think velcro-like). These diapers are what they sound like, a pocket. The layer closest to the baby is usually made up of suedecloth, fleece, or other stay dry material, like the outer layer is made of polyurethane laminate (PUL). The difference between a AIO and pocket, is that the pocket diaper alone has no absorbent properties. The second step to these diapers is then to stuff them with an insert, or a long, thin pad that pulls the moisture away from the baby and holds it until the baby is changed. Some of these inserts are made of microterry, hemp, cotton, or other similar material. Pocket diapers usually include some sort of insert, but many moms will chose to buy more to either add absorbancy, or upgrade the quality of washability/antimicrobial properties. The disadvantage of this diaper is that the opposite of stuffing, is unstuffing; the peed/pooped on insert must (usually) be removed from the diaper before they are washed. Some diapers have openings on both sides of the diaper, allowing the insert to agitate out in the wash. Depending on the quality of diaper, and if you chose to upgrade inserts, pocket diapers can run between $10-24.

Covers
Covers are the most economical and most versatile diaper of the three, however, it also has steepest learning curve of the three. Covers can be made of PUL, wool, or fleece. They can either enclose with snaps, hook & loop, or pull on. However, they cannot be used alone. The diaper must have something underneath it to catch the mess, these can include fitteds, which are made of bamboo, cotton, hemp, and snap or hook and loop onto the baby, with the cover then placed over the top. Another option is to use a prefold diaper, either hooked together with pins, or a Snappi (T shaped stretchy object, with small hooks that grip to the diaper and hold it closed), or folded and laid flat into the cover. The cheapest option is to use flats, or a large single layer of material, folded in various styles to improve absorbancy, and like the prefold, then laid into a cover, or closed with pins or a Snappi. The other advantage to a cover, is that they can be used for multiple changes, as long as the diaper is changed and the cover is not soiled. Some can be wiped dry, or like wool, can be worn many times before washing. If you use wool or fleece, the other advantage is breathability.

  • Covers or wraps are usually made of PUL are the most common of the types of covers, the easiest to find commercially, and can be wiped out with a cloth wipe and re-used, unless soiled. PUL covers usually run around $10-18.
  • Fleece either comes with pull on options, or fasten on like PUL covers. They can also be sewn as pants, shorts, or skirts. Like PUL covers, there is no need to wash these after a single use, they can be hung to dry an used until the end of the day, until soiled, or until stinky. Fleece also breathes better than PUL, and if you can sew can be made for the cost of materials. However, very few commercial manufacturers make fleece covers, so to get fleece your best option is etsy, or Hyenacart. Prices run from around $7-18.
  • Wool covers are probably the most expensive of the three options to buy, but if you want to avoid man made products, wool is the very best choice. Like fleece, wool can come in covers that pull on, or wraps that button, and can come in pants, shorts, covers, or skirts. If you can knit, crochet, or know how to upcycle sweaters, wool can be inexpensive, however commercially made wool diapers can run from $30-90, and SAHM made can run from $10-50+. Wool also needs to be prepped once every 1-2 weeks by soaking in a solution of lanolin, baby shampoo, and water, and then laid flat to air dry. Wool must be hand washed, but with its antimicrobial properties does not need to be washed often and does not immediately get stinky.


Hybrid or All in Two
Similar to PUL wraps, hybrids are simply put a cloth/disposable option. Instead of putting a cloth diaper/insert into the hybrid (or just occasionally) hybrids can house a disposable option. A eco friendly soaker, that will either break down in a landfill, compost, or flush (depending on the manufacturer's instructions) is placed into the cover, and when it is wet or soiled it is disposed of and a new disposable insert is put in. Some parents prefer this option when traveling, or when at daycare, and then use prefolds or inserts in them when not on the go. The advantage of this type of system is you are not carrying waste with you when you travel, the disadvantage is that even after the initial investment, the cost can keep accumulating. The cost is around $14-18 for the cover only, and disposable inserts run between $5-10 for 20.

Up front, diapers may seem like a big investment, but they will pay for themselves before the baby is born, even when you use the most expensive diapers. According to Diaper Decisions the cost of cloth is between 6 and 23 cents per diaper change, including the cost of washing. Where the cost of disposables is about 36 cents per diaper for the most common brand. That doesn't even count the extra washes of clothing from blowouts. 30 to 13 cents may not seem like a lot, until you figure that if your child potty trains at 2 1/2, you will have changed 7200. At a minimum, you are saving between $1,000 to $2,200, now imagine how much more you would save if you re-used those same diapers on another child, or sold them when you were done to recoup between 50-75% of your original purchase price.

Swag in the bag

When I was a kid, we frequented a lot of home and garden shows, or attended the displays at the state fair. I didn't really care for the rides at the fair, my two favorite things were the livestock (I loved the cows, llamas, and sheep) and the home & garden areas. Not because I was planning my future home or anything, but because I adore swag. I loved the pens and pencils displaying whatever window company, or the personalized notepads with the name of the fencing company. My dad let me put the stickers on his file cabinet, and I would joyfully color the coloring pages advertising hot tubs, or landscaping companies. My mom still has my tiny promo mugs from A&W that are my kids' favorite for tea parties or treats when they visit grandma. It is easy to see why I would enjoy browsing GOPromos promotional items, I bet my professional friends could find some pretty neat personalized items to hand out as swag at their next child & baby fair!

May 21, 2011

In the last 3 weeks

I have been so very busy. On May 7th, the day before Mother's Day, I declared I was going to proclaim today as my mother's day. My oldest son presented me with a card he bought and he and all his siblings filled out. He traced Sophie and Liam's hand on it. He also had gone to three different different store looking for a specific candy I like without luck, and settled on three of my favorite candy bars. Our sweet neighbor gave him a pretty gift box. Matthew planted me a plant in a flower pot he decorated, and made me a card. My husband told me if I didn't go buy myself a Keurig, he would buy one for me, spend a lot more, and have to mail it to me.

I was also feeling sentimental, so I sent Austin's birth mom a text message thanking her for allowing me to be his mommy. She called me right back and we talked for about 30 minutes. It was nice to hear that she had no regrets, I have always worried she consented to the adoption out of desperation, and not because she truly wanted the best for him.

On Sunday, Austin turned 15. This is why I did Mother's Day early. I knew he would make a fuss about it, and I didn't want anything to distract him from his birthday. The little stinker still did, he made me breakfast in bed, and made eggs and bacon for the little ones. For his birthday dinner, he wanted me to make him BBQ Ribs on the grill. I also made corn bread and green beans. It was delicious. He played with his friends most of the day, he literally came home when the street lights came on. It was glorious. Our gift was delivered on Monday, a trampoline! The "t" was partially obscured on the package, so now the kids call it "the rampoline".

For three days Austin and I built the rampoline together. Christopher helped keep the little three busy. I may or may not have taught Austin some new words as we stretched springs, and pulled safety nets tight. On the first day, I took a break for dinner, and just when I was about to put the last 5 of 8 safety net poles up, I asked Austin "do you smell something chemically??" He looked downstairs, and I looked in my bathroom, and I do believe my head exploded. That is a full bottle of deep purple nail polish, and some bare minerals face powder. I scrubbed on that thing for probably 6 hours (I was up until 3am) and I managed to lighten it to a lilac color, but it didn't come out. I will need to replace the carpet in my bathroom. Right now it is half vinyl, half carpet, and I am hoping our landlord will let us rip out all the flooring in the bathroom and replace it with coordinating vinyl.
Liam is growing so fast, too fast. His new name is Mr. Grabbyhands. He has learned how to play with the toys on his bouncer to activate music. He has also learned how to make mama yelp in pain by grabbing onto a huge handful of hair and yanking really hard. He also can roll from his belly to his back, and most recently his back to his belly.