Thursday, December 31, 2009

Anyone Staying Up Until Midnight Tonight?

Once upon a time, the big plans for New Year's Eve were all important and sometimes very elaborate. I have celebrated New Year's Eve in many ways and with many people. There was the year I went to a bar in Windsor, Canada (I believe I was still under 21). I can't remember the name of the bar, but I remember spent a ridiculous cover charge for "food," a cheap bottle of "champagne" and a few chintzy party favors. Then there was the year I drove up to Michigan and celebrated with my best friend and many others in her basement. The first year my hubby and I lived together we had a party at our home and invited all of our wonderful friends from our early days in Durham. I recall these different New Year's Eves as being fun in their different ways. Many other years I've had a wonderful time on New Year's Eve too. And then some years were utterly forgettable. But the one thing they all had in common, until recently, was that I always, always, stayed up past midnight to "ring in the new year."

Hm. That has all changed in recent years. Last year, I was pregnant and tired and in bed by 10. This year will just be more of the same I'm sure. And really, I don't mind. I no longer feel like there is something magical about staying up until midnight. About watching the ball drop, counting down those last seconds, or kissing my beloved at exactly midnight. I won't miss the noise makers or the cheap sparkling wine that tastes disgusting. I don't feel like I'll miss something important if I'm happily slumbering in my bed at 11:59 as the clock rolls over to 2010. In fact, what I feel I'll miss if I do stay awake is those precious hours of happy slumber that could have been had! So, I'll kiss my hubby at bedtime like I always do and wish him Happy New Year, though it will still be a few hours until it's official. I'll wake up tomorrow in the new year (hopefully) refreshed from a full night's sleep, and I'll feel just as thankful for all the blessings of 2009 and just as hopeful for a wonderful 2010 as I would if I had stayed up to officially welcome in the New Year at it's birth. Happy New Year everyone. Bring on 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Miss's First Christmas

Our Christmas Tree

Miss playing with Santa Gnome

Checking out the unbreakable ornaments on the bottom

The day we celebrated Christmas at home (we were away on Christmas Day)

Putting Miss's "First Christmas" ornament on the tree. It's a silver rocking horse.

Christmas Day at the Farm

Looking at the tree and all the presents

Love the bows

A gift from her grandparents - "Tickle Monster" book and gloves

Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Hello again. We got back yesterday from our travels to spend Christmas with my in-laws. We had a great time, but were pretty lucky I think to have had such good traveling conditions, considering the snow/ice storms going on in our neck of the woods. We managed to beat the ice on Christmas Eve and drive to the Farm with only rainy conditions, with temps above freezing. Whew! Then we woke to ice-covered everything on Christmas morning and reports that roads were closed through much of western Iowa and impassable around where we were. Yikes! It made for great sledding conditions though, and all the kids (big and small) had a blast sledding on the big hills at the farm and being pulled around in a huge tube (intended to be pulled behind a boat!!) behind the 4-wheeler. Miss had a wonderful time playing with all her cousins too. We had manageable road conditions for our trip home yesterday, although road weren't really "good" until we got into Wisconsin. Iowa really needs to get on the ball with the snow removal! Anyway, we made it home safely with wonderful memories of Miss's first Christmas. I'll upload some photos and post them soon, but for right now, I'm too pooped and would like to just lie on my couch while Miss naps (read: I'm going to take a nap :). Hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas at the 'Rents

We had our Christmas celebration on Friday at my parents' house. My brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews were there to celebrate with us. It was a great day. Here are some photos that capture it better than words can:

Miss mesmerized by watching cartoons with Grandpa (she doesn't get to watch these at home)

My crazy brother picking at me about my gray hairs

Abounding joy in my 3-year-old nephew over "Transformers" episodes on DVD

Miss's first dolly from Grandma and Grandpa (handsome cousin playing "Santa" by the tree)

Playing with her new puzzle from Uncle, Aunt, and Cousins

Grandma showing her how to work her new musical mailbox

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Traveling Resumes

The holidays are a time to be spent with family. Unfortunately, my family lives approximately 10 hours away and my in-laws live about 5 hours away (both driving distances). So, tomorrow night we begin our holiday travels. We will be driving through the night to go to my parents' house. Why through the night, you ask? Two reasons. One is that my husband's work holiday party is tomorrow night. The other is that it is much easier to drive that far with a baby when she is sleeping the whole way. Easier for us, and also easier for her. So, we will probably hit the road at around 10 tomorrow night and we'll stay with my parents for about a week. Then we'll be back home for the week before Christmas and leave on Christmas Eve afternoon to go visit my in-laws and spend Christmas weekend with them.

We travel a lot, so these two trips are really not a big deal, relatively speaking. It has been nice to be home for a few weeks. But I can't imagine not seeing our families at holiday time. I really can't wait to visit with my family again, even if I do have to go to Tiny Town, USA where there is no internet connection to be found. No, I shouldn't say that. Mom and Dad do have dial-up. Too bad my computer can't even hook up to a dial-up connection!! So, if I'm absent from blog-land for a while, you'll know why. I didn't fall off the face of the earth, didn't get sucked into a black hole, just went to visit the 'rents. It'll be fantastic. My dad is a great cook. My mom bakes tons of yummy treats (but only if I have my hubby with me; last time I went he wasn't with me and I got diddly squat:). My mom and I will watch "Heidi" and the day that we choose to do our "Christmas" (which obviously won't be on Christmas Day), we'll have creamed eggs for breakfast. Yum. And I really can't wait to see Miss's face when she experiences the holiday gift-opening event for the first time. I love holiday traditions. Happy Holidays!!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Random Thoughts for a Tuesday

1. It's snowing here and it's so pretty outside. We're supposed to get a blizzard though, and I don't want to end up being cooped up in the house!
2. I need to get my Christmas cards addressed. We got them yesterday and I'm so excited to get them sent out. Miss's debut holiday photo card!
3. Miss has learned to make a fish face, which is totally cute!!
4. I'm entertaining the thought of getting back to work on a quilt I had planned to make for Miss before she was born. Never got it going, but I have the fabric and I think I would like to get it done.
5. I'm feeling so lazy and really have nothing interesting to say today. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Secret to my Stash

I have a secret. It's one of my very favorite "go to" diapers that makes my life so easy. I say it's a secret because the diapers come from a small company and I don't know a ton of people who have them. They're called HuggaBuns and they are such fantastic diapers. I bought some HuggaBuns in my very early days of cloth diapering, largely because they were quite inexpensive and because they have hemp and bamboo inserts. I fell in love with them and have bought many more HuggaBuns over the past several months.

I originally ordered both smalls and mediums, thinking Miss could wear the smalls right away and then grow into the mediums. She started out being able to wear both sizes (5 to 6 months ago) and can still wear both sizes!!!

Here's Miss in a Medium when I first got these diapers. She was about 4 months old.

Here she is in a Small more recently. The Smalls still fit her this well!

The small diapers come with a trifold hemp insert and the mediums come with a trifold bamboo insert. These inserts are super absorbent and the diapers are so trim!! I always use the smalls for naptime, and I use both sizes for any time! They are great when we are in the car for a long time. I almost always put one on her when we are going out to run errands because I know it will last a long time in case I can't find a good place to change her, and they don't leak! I also have a bunch of extra inserts, and the bamboo ones in particular are the perfect fit to put in many of my other diapers. I have lots of dipes that come with microfiber inserts, which just aren't really my favorite. So I have taken out the microfiber and used the HB trifold bamboo inserts instead, and now I love lots of my other diapers even more too! The HBs come clean easily, and they are just such an all-around good diaper that I find myself reaching for one all the time. I was disappointed that they didn't come in a one-size option, and the color selection is somewhat limited, but I have been told they're coming out with a new OS style in some new colors soon!

HuggaBuns are obviously one of my very favorite pocket diapers. Other favorites include my Blueberry pockets, SoftBums all-in-twos, and newly discovered Peachy Keen pockets. I have also recently discovered a love for fitteds and wool, and I'm bringing more of these types of diapers into my stash and using them more and more. Maybe in another post I'll tell you all about the wonderful world of wool and some of my favorites in that category, but for now I'll just leave you with a photo of Miss in a "nifty" fitted diaper with a "woolie" cover over it!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Hate Toasted O's

Miss loves them. Yet I live in fear that she will choke on one of these tiny Os. Actually, I live in fear that she will choke on pretty much anything that is small enough to get into her mouth. I wish I could feed her pureed mush until she's 10. Unfortunately for me, she loves to feed herself. Some things, like butternut squash, she flat out refuses to eat mashed on a spoon. However, yesterday I cut up some cubes of squash that I had baked, and she gobbled them up because she could do it herself.

I have such a huge fear of choking that, for several months, when I was beginning to feed her "solid" (though really pureed or mashed) foods in her high chair, I would have a mini panic attack every time Miss would take a poo during mealtime (which unfortunately happens fairly frequently). She would hold her breath and her face would get all red and my mind would immediately jump to "Oh my Gosh, she can't breathe, she's choking!!" This would only last a split second until I came to my senses and realized she was just taking a dump. But it was always long enough for my breath to catch and my heart to stop. Sometimes I would even start to come out of my chair, all set to snatch her up and do the baby Heimlich. I mean, can you imagine? Here's my daughter peacefully and happily filling her drawers, when her nut-bar mother yanks her up out of her chair, turns her upside down and starts pounding on her back??? I have to laugh at myself when I picture it. Fortunately, I have gotten used to the red-faced mealtime poop and I now only have a teeny tiny whisper of anxiety before I remember ("Deep breath, it's just poo...").

Unfortunately, we are now moving into the land of more and more truly solid foods. I know she needs to learn to feed herself. I know it's great for her to eat things like little pieces of turkey, toast, soft veggies. Most of those cause only mild anxiety for me. But man, those toasted O's just freak me out. This is probably because Miss actually did nearly choke on one of these once, and I actually did have her out of her highchair and nearly started banging on her back when she managed to cough it up. Talk about heart-stopping panic. So now she only gets the O's covered with something like yogurt or pureed fruit. Then they get kind of mushy, but she can still pick them up and feed herself, which she did happily this for breakfast this morning. Of course, I hovered over her while she ate, watching like a hawk for any sign of choking, feeling just a slight flutter of anxiety every time she put one in her mouth, a little bit more when she would try to cram too many in there at once. I think my voice sounded calm when pulling her hand back down and instructing her "One at a time please. Chew, chew, chew!" Heaven help me when she starts eating things like steak!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Miss You Nap

Dear Nap,
Please come back. I mean really come back, not just for 30 minutes here or there. These days it seems like the only beings in our house who get any attention from you are the old dogs. Miss really needs you. I need you to spend a little bit more time with Miss. I have to write a report for my most recent evaluation, and my house desperately needs some major cleaning. And really, I just need to regain my sanity a little. You understand, don't you, Nap? Okay. Thanks.
The Mom

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bah Humbug!

I love to put up my Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. I refuse to put them up before Thanksgiving, and doing it the day after gives me the maximum amount of time to enjoy them. Well this year, it just didn't quite work out to get them up on Friday. I didn't mind too much though and just planned to get them up today. My hubby helped me get the tree up and then volunteered to play with Miss while I proceeded to decorate.

I plugged in the lights on my wonderful prelit tree. The super convenient and very beautiful tree that I was so excited to buy last year. Background: I used to have a tree that was given to me by a friend in graduate school when she and her husband upgraded. It was so great to have that tree for free as a poor graduate student. It was a full-size tree and it served it's purpose, although it was not very lovely. Once I had all my beautiful ornaments on it, you could barely tell that it was hideous underneath. So I kept that ugly hand-me-down tree for 10 years, and when we moved from North Carolina, I decided it was time to let it go and get another one. After our last Christmas in NC I didn't even pack the tree away in the attic. I hauled it directly to the Goodwill, knowing that I would buy a new one for the first time when we relocated to our new home. Last year was the year, and I splurged on a prelit tree. I was so excited and it was perfect.

That was last year. Unfortunately this year one of the strands of lights shorted out and only half of it lit when plugged in. This left a band of unlit tree about two thirds of the way up from the bottom. The tree has a warranty though, so I just called the company, thinking I would get them to send me a new tree. Haha. The woman gave me suggestions on how to fix the problem (check the fuses and make sure none of the bulbs were missing or loose) and then told me that, if these measures didn't fix the problem, they would send me a new strand of lights. Strand of lights??? Not a new tree. Shoot. So I checked every bulb on that strand. Ben changed the fuses even though they looked fine. I really didn't want to have to string new lights on the tree. I thought my days of stringing lights on the tree were over. But no. The problem was not a loose bulb, nor was it a blown fuse. The problem was a piece of junk strand of lights, which would need to be replaced.

I decided to just go to the store and get a strand of the same kind of lights for $4 instead of going through the rigamarole of getting new lights through the warranty. Then I went through the tedious task of unstringing the lights that came on the tree. This wasn't your ordinary unstringing either. When I put lights on a tree, I loop them around a bit, but it's not all that complicated to get them off again. Well these lights were so wrapped and twisted around every branch of the tree they might as well have been super-glued! Alas, I finally got them off and strung my new strand on (much more loosely I must say), only to find that there was a chunk of tree that my new strand would not reach to cover. What did I do, you ask? Without hesitation I asked my husband to help me turn the tree around to put that bare patch right where it belonged, facing the corner. I guess the rest of the decorations will be put up tomorrow...

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I have so much to be grateful for. A wonderful, supportive husband who works hard so I can stay home with Miss. A beautiful, healthy, happy baby girl who makes me laugh and brightens my world every day. Two great old loyal dogs. A fantastic extended family and in-laws who I actually like and enjoy spending time with. The perfect sometimes-job that lets me stay sharp in my professional skills but mostly work from home, and only as frequently as I want to. Good friends, good health, a beautiful home... I could go on and on.

I love Thanksgiving. It's so nice to have a holiday that is focused on family and being grateful for our blessings. I think being a mom takes "thankful" to a whole different level. My daughter is healthy and I get to spend every day at home with her. What more could I ask for? Though I try never to take my good fortune for granted, I love this day that brings the "Thanks" right up front and center. I had a wonderful day with my husband and daughter and made a fantastic meal (if I do say so myself) to top it all off. Life is good. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More "Miss"-cellany

I can't believe Miss is nine months old. Where did the time go? It seems as though the past nine months of her little life have flown by so much faster than the nine months I was pregnant and waiting (and waiting!) for her to arrive. She is now crawling at lightning speed, easily pulling up to standing, and doing the "look Mom, no hands!" move in trying to stand on her own. She is starting to cruise along a bit as well. She has gotten three more teeth (for a grand total of six) and is sleeping through the night consistently.

She is eating three solid meals per day now and has a good appetite. She is also very opinionated about what she does and doesn't like. She has moved from just fruits and veggies and a little bit of oatmeal to dairy and proteins. Her new favorites are cottage cheese and turkey. She loves them so much in fact, she really can't be bothered with vegetables anymore. I have to mix almost any vegetable she eats with cottage cheese in order to get some good carbs in her! The exceptions to this are sweet potato and sometimes zucchini. She does still like fruit, but her favorite for breakfast now is toasted O's cereal covered in yogurt. This is quite messy, but she loves it. She is beginning to get bored with pureed or mushy foods that need to be fed to her on a spoon and wants to do everything herself. In fact sometimes the only way I can get her to eat mushy food is to let her have her own spoon so she can "help," or give her something to eat with her fingers and sneak spoonfuls of food in between bites she feeds herself. Feeding her is truly an exercise in patience!

She is showing some funny new facial expressions. Ben says she is starting to be just like me in this regard. She now crinkles her nose quite a bit, which he says I do all the time (I didn't realize this) and she sticks her little tongue out when she's concentrating, which I definitely do all the time! She also does a cute little full-body wiggle when she gets excited, which I have been known to do also :) She makes a funny little fish smile, where she half-smiles and sort of sucks her cheeks in at the same time. Don't know where she got that one, but it's adorable.

Miss is becoming more and more vocal and likes to make lots of new sounds. She makes some funny growling and grunting noises now and her vocal inflection is very expressive. She also has said her first word, "Ma-ma" of course. I love it. I have been working on a few ASL signs with her and she definitely understands many of them - "milk, eat, more" though she has yet to definitely make any of them yet. There was one time I was pretty sure she signed "all done" and another time I think she signed "milk" but it's a little hard to tell, so maybe not. Either way, she is definitely getting more and more communicative.

We are really looking forward to celebrating the holidays with her for the first time this year. Her first Christmas should be a blast and I have had such fun shopping for her. I can't believe that thoughts of her first birthday party have already begun to creep into my thoughts from time to time. It will be here before I know it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fly on the Wall

We had painters here on Thursday, and I became aware as I was going about my daily routine with Miss that these men were probably getting a good laugh at my expense. It made me think about what I, and other moms, would look like to the proverbial Fly on the wall while caring for our babies. I tend to talk to Miss, and often to myself, all day long. It's a running commentary on what is happening, what I'm doing, what she's doing, what should I do?, etc (it was as I was in the midst of some conversation with Miss, or rather with myself, that I heard one of the painters chuckle to himself and thus became self-conscious and the thought process that sparked this whole post began). I think probably most moms do this. It's probably a very important part of language development for babies to hear their caregivers speak a great deal. However, I still probably sound kind of goofy to a stranger observing me while doing it - the noises and faces while trying to get her to eat, the funny voices while reading her a story, and any number of other goofy things I do all day long for the purpose of entertaining and teaching my daughter.

The other day I was in the grocery store and had two funny things happen. One thing is that I was walking round with Miss in her Ergo carrier and I heard another baby making some noises and his mom echoing those noises right back as she was browsing the grocery aisle. I smiled to myself because it was a sweet thing to see but also because I hadn't noticed until that moment that I was doing the exact same thing with Miss. Different noises of course, but the same mimicking. A few moments later in a different aisle I was approached by a store employee who said something like, "When I first saw you there in the aisle out of the corner of my eye I didn't realize you were holding a baby and I thought, 'Wow, she must be really cheerful!'" She was referring to the fact that I was continuously bouncing up and down with Miss. She thought I was just bopping along to my own beat, until she realized that I was holding my baby. Then she understood, being a mom herself, and she reminisced to me for a moment about her own days of mothering when her children were babies. It's amazing how strangers can connect briefly because of having mothering in common.

One other thing that I think would have the Fly laughing at me. Diaper changes in our house have come to resemble a WWF match. We went through a phase of wrestling to get a diaper on for a bit a few months ago, and then it seemed to stop. Miss had returned to just lying peacefully and looking up at me, chattering and smiling while I did the business of changing her drawers. I thought I had managed to breeze through the diapering struggles that I hear many other moms talk about. Don't laugh at me. I now know that Miss was just faking me out. Giving me a temporary reprieve. Letting me get comfortable and complacent for a bit before unleashing again the fury of the baby who does not want to be still while her diaper is changed. No matter that she has poo smeared all over her rear and I am trying valiantly to hold her still while preventing it from getting all over her back, her changing table, her feet, the wall. I have found myself doing the most ridiculous things to try to entertain her and keep her attention long enough to make the fastest change on earth. I make crazy faces. I make stupid sounds. Recently I have begun singing in an operatic voice any tune I can think up (mostly just "las" for the words though). I have hit some crazy high notes doing this, which my voice really wasn't made for! She stops moving for a few seconds though. Long enough to laugh at me and for me to get those snaps fastened. If there were a Fly, I'm sure he would be laughing and/or shaking his head in wonder at the crazy lady. But I'd do just about anything for a smile or giggle from my Miss :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Customer Service

Ben and I and Miss took a day trip to Madison to go furniture shopping yesterday. Working around Miss's naps limited our trip to two furniture stores and a restaurant supply store that is open to the public. We went in one large chain furniture store and one smaller store with "Fine Furninure" in the title. I'll just call this store "Pinkies Out." I'm going to tell you a story of the "customer service" we received at the Pinkies Out establishment. I will preface the story by saying that I am the kind of person whom, when I walk into a store and am asked, "Is there anything I can help you with?" will say almost every time, "No thanks, I'm just looking." And the response I like to hear to this statement is, "Okay, well my name is blah-di-blah, just let me know if you need help with anything." That is very nice. Very professional. I do not ever want someone hovering over me when I'm trying to shop for something. Ever. So, keep that in mind as I tell you the following story.

We walked into Pinkies Out and were immediately approached by an older Man, who may have been the owner. He proceeded to tell Ben that he could not bring his coffee into the "showroom", that there was a sign on the door (tiny, transparent, and placed in the corner of the window in the door), and all the reasons that beverages were not allowed. Really? No explanation needed. So, Ben went outside to finish his coffee and I began to look at the table that was right inside the entry, which I love. It is a table that we found in Florida in May, but didn't purchase because of not wanting to pay for the shipping from there to here. So, I was quite excited to see the same table, at a discounted price, in this near-to-home store. However, as I was checking out the price of the table, the Man continued to hover over me and explain again why Ben couldn't bring the coffee into the store, and then to gush over Miss (which of course I never mind really). I attempted to walk away from him and continue browsing in the store. I tried the "I'm just looking" line. He persisted in asking if there was anything in particular I was looking for. I made the mistake of admitting that we were interested in finding a leather recliner. So, the Man "offered" to show me where the recliners were, or said I could browse, and he would just be "in the shadows." Trying to make things easier on my self, I said, "Sure, you can point them out to me." Big mistake.

The Man took me over to one recliner, which I immediately didn't like. It was what I call a "butt" chair. I have a weird aversion to any chair that has the layered pillow look on the back of it and once when explaining to Ben why he couldn't have a recliner with that type of back, I said that it looked like a butt. Of course, it doesn't really look like a butt. Well, it does a little, but either way, I just don't like it. Anyway, by this time, Ben had come back in sans coffee, and as soon as he saw the chair the Man had pointed out to me, he said, "Nope, that breaks the rules." I explained to the Man that I do not like the look of that type of chair back (I did not call it a "butt chair" though, maybe I should have??) and he proceeded to explain to me, in a very condescending way why the chair is constructed that way!!! As if I were obviously misguided and his explanation would change my mind? I stated to him again that I just don't like it, and then moved on.

But again, he followed me. I walked over to a loveseat that I liked and sat on it. It was very comfortable and I was thinking it might be a good size for our family room. I asked the Man if he could show me some of the available fabrics for the loveseat. He began to gush about how everything in the store is custom and they have over 3000 fabrics and he couldn't possibly show me that many (gag). He then instructed me that the clients of the store typically bring in fabric, rug, wood samples etc. and "trust" the designers in the store to select fabrics for them. WHAT? Okay, I am not someone who wants to have another person decorate my house for me. The Man was so condescending and snooty! If the store didn't have such gorgeous furniture I would have left, he was so obnoxious. But as it was, I really wanted to see some other items. I explicitly told the Man that I just wanted to look and "sit" a bit more (of course I always sit in things to see how comfy they are). Well then he said, "You're what, 5'3", 5'4"?" I responded, "Something like that," and he proceeded to say that not all of the pieces would be comfortable for someone of my height because they're too deep. He then suggested that he show me which pieces would be comfortable for me! At this point I began to wonder if he really thought he was being helpful or if I just had some crazed look about me that made him afraid to allow me to wander the showroom on my own.

I managed to look at the few items I still wanted to see and then went to find my husband (who had already reached his limit of interaction with the Man and had taken Miss over to sit quietly in another leather recliner). I found him and asked him to let me see the recliner, which unfortunately was revealed to also be a butt chair when he stood up. I again commented "nope," and turned to walk away, ready to leave the store. But of course, the Man was there hovering again and decided to try one last time to convince me that the butt chair was great! After I stated again and firmly that I absolutely do not like and will never buy that style of chair he finally said, "So you just have some aesthetic aversion to that look?" Duh. Then the following exchange took place:

Him: "Are you a designer?"
Me: "No."
Him: "Have you ever worked in design?"
Me: "No."
Him: "Were you trained in design?"
Me: "No. I'm a psychologist."

As usual, that statement shut him up and we made our escape from the store. But really, why on earth did I need to be a designer or have some background in interior design to have an "aesthetic aversion" to the butt chair?? Can't I just be a homeowner who loves to pore over fabrics, paint swatches, and furniture catalogs? Is it so strange to want to be involved in the decoration of my own home and to make the choices about such decoration myself? Perhaps the Man at Pinkies Out is used to working with people who just want to pay someone to make their house look like a showroom instead of a home. In that case, maybe I can't blame him for his snooty attitude, stuffy posture, and smothering behavior. But I had to tell the story because it was truly one of the most bizarrely unpleasant shopping experiences I've ever had. But I'm still considering buying that table...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fluff Talk Thursday

The Fluff Talk topic for this Thursday is dealing with stink. When I started using cloth diapers, I had no idea that odor could "stay" in the diapers, so that even when they smelled clean out of the wash, they would stink to high heaven as soon as Miss peed on them. And I mean STINK. Much more than the little bit of urine she put on them would warrant. Ew. I have definitely had this problem. I've also had the problem of diapers not smelling clean out of the wash. I've tried lots of things to deal with it, some that have worked, and some that haven't.

In terms of the soap used, I have tried several different types to wash my dipes. I started with Seventh Generation Free and Clear, then quickly switched to Allen's, then a mixture of half washing soda and half Oxy Clean, and now Rockin' Green and/or soap nuts. I heard very mixed reviews about the use of SGF&C. some say it's fine for cloth diapers, others say stay away from it. I switched to Allen's just to be safe. Allen's was a great soap, but didn't seem to manage the stink build up issue very well. I didn't really care for the washing soda/Oxy Clean mixture. It seemed hard to rinse clean and didn't cut the stink either. Both Rockin' Green and soap nuts seem to work really well to get the dipes clean without build up, and they really help with the stink. The soap nuts seem to rinse clean a bit more easily. I have tried using vinegar in the wash, but didn't notice any difference, so I stopped. I have hard water, so I always add Calgon water softener. We have a water softening system in our home, which helps, so I only use half the recommended amount of Calgon.

Recently, I decided to soak my microfiber diaper inserts to really get the stink out of them once and for all. I have found that the inserts with microfiber are what tend to hold in the sneaky stink (the smell that comes back when peed on). So, prior to coming on this trip, when I had Miss temporarily in disposable diapers in order to get every single one of her diapers clean, I did the soak. I first washed all her diapers as normal. Then I took every one of her microfiber inserts and soaked it in hot water with Oxy Clean for two hours. Then I rinsed them several times until there were no more bubbles. It worked! The stink was gone completely and did not come back with a vengeance when Miss peed. I will be doing this again if the problem comes back.

The biggest thing I have done that has decreased the stink factor in my diaper pail is to switch to more natural fibers. I have been told, and have found through my own experience, that bamboo, hemp, and cotton do not hold stink the way synthetic fibers like microfiber do. I have heard from some friends that they have had stink problems with bamboo that was in need of stripping, but I never have stink issues with my inserts made of these materials. So, I have been gradually trying to switch my inserts to these natural fibers and hopefully will have less stink to deal with as I use less microfiber.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Have Cloth, Will Travel

It's been discussed on this blog at length how much we have traveled with Miss in her short little life so far. She has been in or through 11 different states, though MI probably doesn't really count because we never left the airport. I am happy to say that I have kept her in cloth diapers through almost all of these travels since beginning my cloth adventure in June. Here's what I have learned about using cloth while on the road:

1. If we're driving somewhere, I do diaper laundry as close to the departure time as possible. I pack diapers, cloth wipes, and wipes solution to take and use just like I do at home. I also pack along whatever dirty diapers accumulate while I'm doing the diaper laundry. I use the bag of dirties to put more dirties in while on the road, and then I just wash them as usual at our destination. That way I don't have a bag of dirty diapers sitting in a diaper pail until we get home. I cannot stand the thought of dirty diapers stinking and festering while we are away.

2. If I'm flying somewhere, I put Miss in disposables right before departure so that I can do diaper laundry and get every one of her diapers clean. This way I am not leaving dirty diapers to fester, but I also am not taking a bag of several dirty diapers on a plane with me (or trying to check them!). Typically I also use disposables while actually in the airport and on the plane. The reason for this is that I am usually packed to the gills and loaded up with so much stuff and disposables just take up less space and weigh less. However, on this last flight I took two carry ons, one my diaper bag and the other full of clean cloth diapers, so it probably wouldn't have been difficult to use the cloth while in the airport and on the plane.

3. As for washing, one of the easiest ways I've found to take along detergent is to use soap nuts. They're dry and compact. No mess!

4. I make sure to take flushable diaper liners. This is key for easy clean up of poopy diapers when a diaper sprayer isn't available.

5. The trips we have taken when I have used cloth have either been short enough that I could make it through without doing laundry (i.e. a quick weekend trip for a wedding) or have been to the home of a family member who did not have a problem allowing me to use the laundry facilities. Of course I always try to rotate my dipes in and out of the washer and dryer as quickly as possible and do any hanging or sunning in a place that is out of the way.

6. The trips that I have not been able to use cloth have involved flying somewhere and staying exclusively in a hotel. I have used cloth in a hotel (for short periods) and have used cloth on trips when I flew to my destination. But the two times I did both for one trip, I used disposables. This is because of not having laundry facilities and not being able to take dirty diapers on a plane.

Overall, I have found that traveling with cloth is not all that difficult. It's only slightly less convenient because of having to pack more stuff. And honestly I probably pack more than I really need, just because I have a hard time leaving any of my dipes at home!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm back!

We have been traveling again. We are still not at home, but I have at least arrived in a place where I have my computer and a good WiFi signal, so I'm thrilled to be back online. The start of this trip was a week and a half ago when Miss and I flew to sunny Florida for a family reunion. My hubby joined us the following day. The reunion was fun and I loved seeing so much family. Though the reunion was with my mom's family, we also got to drive a few hours further south to visit with my dad's side of the family. My hubby left Florida after the reunion to come to Missouri to hunt for deer, while Miss and I went to Kentucky to spend a week with my parents (who live in the boonies and are technologically challenged, hence the week of no internet). We had a great time in Kentucky. My mom and I had a surprise baby shower for my sister in law, which was so fun. She will be using cloth diapers for my niece, so I had a great time shopping for and giving her some fun cloth diapering stuff. Miss had a big week. She finally truly got the hang of crawling and pulling up, and now thinks she is ready to walk. She tries to push my hands off if I am holding her while she is standing up! She also got three more teeth, doubling the number of little munchers in her little mouth almost overnight.

Last night we were reunited with The Daddy and Miss was thrilled to see him. She was showing off all her new tricks and being extra adorable for him. Of course, I was happy to see him too and now we're all in Missouri while he continues to sit in a tree and look for deer for the rest of this week. He has already shot a buck, and is now on a mission from me to shoot a doe so we can have some good venison to last us through the year. He will be butchering the deer himself this year, so I'm eager to see what adventures come from this experiment.

Overall it has been a great trip so far. Miss has been an absolute star. I guess traveling with her so much really has gotten her used to it, and she just takes it in stride. I wish I could say the same for the time change, but that's a different story, and she seems to finally be adjusting. It's saying something that I was thrilled that she slept until 6 am this morning! We will be heading home on Sunday, where we will be happy to stay for almost a whole month before the holiday travels begin!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Who Needs Toys??

I am continuously amazed at the way Miss loves to play with things that are not her toys. In fact, she often seems to prefer these random non-toy things over her well-researched and carefully selected baby toys. What types of things? Oh, her socks, that she repeatedly pulls off her feet in some sort of private lets-see-how crazy-I-can-make-my-mommy game. It's not a big deal of course, except that it's cold here, and I don't want her little tootsies to get cold. So she pulls them off, chews on them for a bit, and then I put them back on. Round and round we go. Why don't I just give her an extra sock to play with, you ask? Tried it. No good. I think it's the act of pulling it off her foot that is part of the fun!

Other items Miss loves to play with include the drawstring of my hubby's old scrub pants that I typically wear when just around the house, her daddy's feet (ewww!), her nail clippers, plastic bags (no, I don't let her play with these!), junk mail (catalogs especially, so shiny!), the rug, the floor, and any random bit of grass/leaf/stick that she might find on the floor (I vacuum like mad, but cut me a break, we have two dogs!!). The other day she entertained herself for the longest time with a plastic cup and the metal lid to one of my small saucepans (video of this below, notice how she almost got distracted by the sock). And of course, the best part of anything, including her toys, is the tag.

Now, I know this is not unusual. Miss is not the first baby to love to play with all-things-not-a-toy. I have just thoroughly enjoyed watching her do this. It's as though the most mundane things that we don't even notice in every day are so fascinating to her. She can become so focused on something so small. I love watching her and trying to make myself see the world through her eyes. The joy and wonder of looking at things in that way is so simple and pure, as babies are of course. Maybe Santa should bring her the boxes for the toys at Christmas time. I'm sure she'd love that!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Plague has Descended upon our Home

Okay, obviously not really the Plague. It's not the dreaded H1N1 either. All right, it's not even the good old seasonal flu (formerly known as just the plain old flu). Really it's just your garden variety cold. And it hasn't really descended upon our whole house. Just me. Well, that's anticlimactic, eh? I have had the sneezing and stuffy/runny nose. I haven't been able to sleep because my nose is stuffed up, always at least on one side. And I haven't taken any cold medications because I'm breast feeding and don't want 1. Any medications to pass to Miss and 2. My milk supply to decrease (apparently some of the decongestants can cause this). Feeling sorry for me yet??

A couple of days ago I shifted to the coughing mode of the cold. This started to really irritate my throat. Then I was making animal sounds with Miss, and the next thing I knew, my voice was gone. I think it was the lion that did me in. Rrraaaawwrrr! So now I have had laryngitis for two days. Miss seems to think this is funny. She has started making whispering sounds at me in response to my whispers, and she gives me some pretty funny looks when my voice cracks/croaks/squeaks. I have barely been able to get out the reading of "I Love You Stinky Face" and other books before nap time. And the final nap time ritual before I put her down? I sing "You Are My Sunshine." The past two days I have whispered the song to her, and only the first verse instead of the whole song. There is no way anything resembling a tune is coming out of this mouth right now!

On a positive note, my hubby hasn't gotten sick and neither has Miss. I attribute this to my heroic hand-washing efforts and the fantastic immunity boost breast milk provides. Um, that last part is just for Miss, of course. So my hands are dry and cracked, my voice is gone, and my supply of tissue and hand sanitizer are out and nearly out, respectively, but life is still good in our humble home. I just can't wait to smother my Miss with kisses again!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Fluffy prints!

As promised - How cute is Miss in these printed diapers??
Rump-a-Rooz "Gumball"

The Goodmama "Supergirl" (looks like a comic strip)

Wild Child for Babies "Chillin' with my Gnomies"

The Goodmama "50s Diner"

Wild Child for Babies "Flower Power"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Cloth Story, Part 3

So, I've told you how I came to love cloth (see My Cloth Story, Part 1 and My Cloth Story, Part 2). How I overcame my fear of things fluffy and jumped in with both feet to cover my Miss's cheeks in nothing but snuggly softness. Well, I thought I'd round out the story by telling you where I am now in my cloth journey.

I currently love my "stash". For those of you not familiar with cloth diapering lingo, this is what we cloth-diapering-mommas call our stock of diapers. It sounds illicit and edgy. It's just diapers. In my stash, I have mostly pocket diapers, including HuggaBuns, FuzziBuns perfect fit, Bum Genius, Green Acres Designs, Blueberry (minky and non-minky), Diaper Change, Tiny Tush, Rump-a-Rooz, and Tweedlebugs. I also have three sets of SoftBums All-in-twos and two All-in-ones (a Drybees and a Monkeez, which is locally made by a WAHM). I have recently acquired, but not yet tried a FuzziBuns One-Size, a Rocky Mountain Diaper, and two Wild Child for Babies custom diapers in the most adorable prints. I actually have a diaper for Miss with "Chillin' with my Gnomies" fabric!! I love it. I have a few fitteds that I use occasionally, BumGenius bamboo and GoodMamas. I don't use prefolds at all anymore, but I'm keeping them for potential use later.

My latest thing is getting pocket diapers with cute prints on them. I have gotten rid of or am getting rid of some of my solid-color diapers that weren't favorites. I am also moving more and more toward natural-fiber diapers with cotton, hemp, and bamboo, rather than microfiber and other synthetic fabrics. I have also really started to get into looking for more obscure diaper brands. Many of these are found on Etsy and/or are made by WAHMs, like the Wild Child for Babies diapers that I bought recently. Some are larger companies, but just not ones that are really prominent in the CD world as BumGenius, Happy Heinys, and FuzziBunz are for example. Some other brands I've become interested in but have not yet purchased are Prairie Tales, Blue Penguin, and Nifty Nappy. I have actually found out about these diaper brands by reading the blog Happily Domestic and entering giveaways on the blog for each of these items (the giveaways are still gong on so I'm hoping I'll win!!).

The other way in which my cloth diapering has evolved is in the way I do my laundry. I started doing just a cold rinse/full hot wash cycle/cold rinse. I used Seventh Generation Free and Clear at first, but quickly switched to Allen's Naturally. I learned that I need to use Calgon water softener because we have hard water. Then I experimented with a mixture of washing soda and OxyClean that I read some moms said worked wonders for their stink issues. I didn't really care for that though and decided to try Rockin' Green instead. This is a laundry detergent specially made for use with cloth diapers that comes in several amazing scents. So I tried some of that, and it's what I'm currently using, occasionally using the soap nuts I just got instead. I've also been experimenting with different wash cycles also. Right now I'm doing a short cycle cold wash with detergent/long cycle hot wash with detergent/extra cold rinse. I'm having lots of success with my current wash routine. I have always enjoyed washing my cloth diapers. Now that there are different detergents to experiment with, it's even more fun. And I know I'm not crazy, because I'm not the only momma who enjoys washing cloth diapers. I'm friends with a mom who raised her kids back when cloth diapers were the only option and weren't nearly as cute and fun as they are today, and she confessed that she used to love washing her kids' cloth diapers too! There's just something satisfying about getting them clean, stuffed, folded, and back in the stash for the next use. I will post some photos of Miss in her newest diaper couture as soon as I get them dried, stuffed, and into the rotation!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Diaper Swap

Recently, I participated in a diaper swap. Megan, who has the blog Newly Wed, Newly Bred, came up with the fun idea to get some cloth diapering mommas together to do a diaper swap. Mommas who signed up were assigned someone to buy for, with a spending limit, and got to shop and pick fluff for her and her baby. The momma you bought diapers for and the momma you received diapers from were not the same person, and the swap partners were kept secret. So, not only would we get to shop for a fun gift for another mom, but we got to receive surprise fluff mail. I love fluff mail, and I love surprises, so what could be better?? I received my swap fluff about a week ago. The momma who bought for me in the swap is Kelli. Her blog is called Betters Days Ahead. She has a sweet little baby named Landyn and is expecting baby #2 (jealous!!), which is a baby girl! She sent me such a fun package. It came from RG Natural Babies. including a One-size Tweedle Bugs Diaper in yellow, some matching Leg Huggers baby leg warmers in the Butterfly Dance pattern, some soap nuts, and a cube of wipes solution. I was really hoping to receive some items I had never tried before, since that seems to be part of the fun of doing a swap (to me anyway). It turns out all the things Kelli sent me are new to me! I immediately got to washing the diaper and the leg warmers so Miss could try them out. Below is a picture of her in them. I love how they match!!

Here's what I love about the stuff I got: The Tweedle Bugs is an OS diaper, so it will grow with Miss. I love the color and that it matches her new Leg Huggers. And, as you know if you've read any of my CD posts on here, I love pocket diapers!! They are absolutely my favorite. Miss seemed to like the diaper too. She at least felt comfortable in it. After she posed for the cute pic, she promptly proceeded to poo in it :) So she didn't get to wear it for long, but for the time she did have it on it fit great and didn't leak. It is now clean again and waiting it's turn in my stash to be worn again. The Leg Huggers are wonderful for several reasons. First of all, take a look at the photo, and you'll see that they come all the way up to the bottom of the diaper. My Miss has super chunky thighs, and some other brands of baby leg warmers are too tight to fit all the way up her leg. That's not a big deal during the summer, but it's getting quite cold here, so I don't want her to have half of her thigh hanging out when I put her in warmers. Plus I love the warmers because I'm getting more and more cute printed diapers, and I like to be able to show them off. And finally, the Leg Huggers are made from bamboo!! As I have mentioned on here before, I love me some bamboo. I haven't yet tried the soap nuts (I got a bag of Rockin' Green that I ordered right at the same time that this package came), but I'm quite intrigued by them and will be trying them with the next load of diaper wash (going in tonight). Also haven't yet mixed up the wipes solution. Kelli sent me enough for two batches, but I still have some that I need to finish up before I mix more. Overall, I love the package. Thanks Kelli! Also thanks to Megan for organizing the whole thing. It was fun!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Next Iron Chef?

In our house, we really don't watch much TV. In fact, when we moved a few months ago, we didn't even get our TV hooked up to the satellite/cable. It wasn't until just recently that we did give in and get Dish. We did this primarily to be able to watch college football and Duke basketball in a few months. And my hubby likes to watch hunting and fishing shows on Sunday mornings. We really don't watch much TV.

Recently, however, I was flipping through some channels on a Tuesday night and caught just the end of "The Next Iron Chef" on the Food Network. It was very interesting to me, so I made a point to tune in the next time a new episode aired. That occurred this past Sunday night. Ben and I sat down to watch the show and were immediately hooked. The "challenge" this week was for the chefs to "reinterpret" some classic culinary creations from either French, Italian, or Greek cuisines. There were nine altogether, one for each remaining chef contestant, including bouillabaisse, pasta puttanesca, and spanakopita.

I love to cook. So Ben came up with the idea that maybe it would be fun to try to cook some of the classic dishes featured on the show. The only one of them I had ever made before was ratatouille. So, I decided to get out the Mother of all cookbooks ("The New Best Recipe"*) and see what I could come up with. One of the first ones I found was a recipe for Coq au Vin. Even though it features mushrooms, it sounded good, so I decided to try it. I went to the grocery store and got the items I would need, and last night I gave it a whirl. I got to use some kitchen implements I own but have never used before, like my meat cleaver, enormous stock pot, and mesh strainer. I also used a few techniques I had never done before, like making a bouquet garni (packet of seasonings wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with a string) and a beurre manie (mash of butter and flour for thickening sauce). The recipe took about two and a half to three hours to make (much of this time while watching an 8-month-old, mind you). It. Was. Fantastic. If I do say so myself. My husband said it was one of the best dishes he has ever eaten, even from a restaurant. Seriously! I think the plan is to try either moussaka or dolmas next. Maybe I could be the next Iron Chef!!

*Editors of Cooks Illustrated. (2004). The new best recipe All-new edition. Brookline, MA, America's Test Kitchen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Miss is nearly 8 months old now. She gets funnier every day. She is able to sit up by herself now, and does this over and over and over. She seems so pleased with herself! She isn't crawling yet, but she sure is trying hard. She can't seem to decide if she wants to crawl on hands and knees or in more of a bear-crawl position on her feet instead of her knees. She goes back and forth between these two positions, rocking back and forth, and balancing with one arm forward and the opposite leg sticking out behind her. This inevitably ends in a face plant, and then she just pushes herself up onto her little butt and plays for a few seconds before starting the whole process over again. She is also working on pulling herself up to standing, and will walk if we hold her hands. She loves to bob up and down if we hold her upright, and jumps like crazy when we put her in her Jumperoo.

She has three teeth. The two middle bottom teeth and the top tooth just to the left of the middle. She looks a bit snaggle-toothed, but in an adorable kind of way. She loves to eat solid foods and eats three meals a day now. Her favorites are squash (winter and summer varieties) and sweet potatoes. She also likes apples, pears, and prunes. She doesn't really like peas or carrots, though I did get her to eat peas for lunch today by mixing them with prunes. I know, gross, right? But she liked it! She loves to eat Cheerios and her pincer grasp is rapidly improving. I have started trying to teach her sign language. In particular we're working on words/signs like "more," "eat," "drink," "water," and "milk." Of course she's not signing yet, but she at least looks at me now when I do it.

She is also developing quite a fun little personality. She makes the funniest faces and has very expressive eyebrows. She has also learned that if she makes a grunt-yell noise she can get her dad and me to respond to her in some way that she seems to find enjoyable. Last night I listened to her making this noise and her daddy tickling her in response, back and forth, for almost 10 minutes. She laughs a lot and has learned to wave. She is quite entertaining on flights, as she loves to flirt with strangers. Occasionally we can get her to give a kiss. She is also experimenting with tantrums and various other ways of expressing her displeasure about things. It is really quite adorable and kind of hard not to laugh at her.

Overall, I am having an absolute blast being her mom. She makes me laugh multiple times every day. I have never had a harder, more rewarding, or better job than this one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mommy Brain

Sometimes I just have one of those days when the sleep deprivation and seemingly endless list of things to do just makes me feel a little, um, stupid. Well, okay realistically I probably have those days most of the time. Or maybe every day. But today I have been especially moronic I think. I am amazed by how forgetful I can be now. This started when I was pregnant. The psychological research has actually identified "Pregnancy Brain" as a real phenomenon where pregnant women get more dumb. Their brains actually shrink a bit (listen to me saying "they" as if this didn't happen to me too). However, the research also showed that this dummy phase is supposed to be just that, a phase, lasting only until shortly after the pregnancy is over. Evolutionarily speaking, it wouldn't make sense to have a bunch of stupid chicks running around trying to raise babies, right? So, the Pregnancy Brain is supposed to resolve after the baby is born, and women have actually been shown to perform better on certain tasks after "recovering" from it. So, even though being pregnant makes us gals temporarily ditsy, we are supposed to come out of the deal even smarter and sharper than we were before. So how come I nearly walked out of the house with mismatched shoes on today? I was very close to going to a meeting with one brown and one black shoe on. It is only the fact that these shoes, though similar in style, have a slightly different shape and heel height on them such that I looked down to see what the problem was when my feet felt different, that saved me from this error. And though my daughter was dressed impeccably in an adorable outfit, with everything she could ever possibly need carefully packed in her beautiful diaper bag and enough warmth on her body to protect her in an arctic blizzard, I proceeded to leave the house without a coat on. Not even a sweater or fully long-sleeved shirt. I live in Wisconsin and it's getting cold here!

I think the psychological research failed to mention that Pregnancy Brain segues directly into "Mommy Brain". So, although women may perform better on some tasks after giving birth, a permanent condition of semi-frazzledness persists that will never go away (okay, maybe after putting kids through college, but by then dementia is setting in anyway). This condition leads to increased forgetfulness and selective stupidity. However, there are also the areas where the Mommy Brain is a finely tuned instrument, capable of executing amazing feats, like the above mentioned ability to remember every single thing that needs to be in the diaper bag while simultaneously forgetting my coat. Or having the sixth-sense ability to just know that your child is about to put something in her mouth that you really don't want her to have in her mouth, and looking just in time to prevent this thing from entering her mouth. Or being able to keep nursing, naps, meals and bedtime perfectly on schedule, but not being able to fit in a shower or remember to call for an oil change (oh, that reminds me!). I could go on and on, but you know what I mean. Now, I really do have to go schedule that oil change before I forget again. . .

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some Random Thoughts for a Tuesday

1. Why can't someone make baby socks and shoes that actually stay on? I know this is not easy, when the baby wearing them inevitably grabs them and/or bites on them and tries to pull them off. But couldn't they at least stay on otherwise? Some of Miss's socks fall off if she just kicks her feet and they happen to hit each other. Oi. The person who could invent the true stay-on baby sock would (and should) be a bajillionaire.

2. I know babies are supposed to be ambidextrous, so I'm probably making something out of nothing. But I think Miss may be a southpaw. She seems to strongly prefer to use her left hand when picking up Cheerios, trying to hold her sippy cup (she hasn't quite realized she needs both hands for this one yet), etc. Both of her grandmothers are lefties. I know it's early, but I'm making a prediction anyway.

3. Ah, the dreaded minivan. Before becoming pregnant, my hubby used to tease me that someday I would be a minivan-driving mommy. I swore over and over again that I would never, ever drive such a vehicle. I drove my mom's minivan in high school quite a bit, and while it was convenient to be able to pile lots of friends in the car, I still kind of felt like a dork driving a minivan, and really had no desire to ever do it again. Plus, I believed that there were many other vehicles out there that are large enough to handle kids, dogs, gear, etc. Some with even more room than a minivan, so why would anyone ever get one of those things?? Fast forward a few years to last fall. I was pregnant and realized that my good old Ford Escape would not be big enough to tote Baby and two dogs. So, we were car shopping. I gave in and actually test drove a minivan. Worse, I even liked it. *gasp* However, I managed to find a vehicle that I liked better, that was big enough for baby and dogs and future babies (so we thought), and would work perfectly all around. I got a Ford Flex, and I love it. It is big enough for Miss and our two pups and all the necessary gear for the many travels we have taken. It's a tight squeeze, but we can make it all fit. I can even get from the back seat to the front while the car is in motion, which is a great thing on long road trips. Granted, this move entails quite a feat of flexibility as I have to go over the front seat when it is laid fully flat forward, but thanks to a lot of pilates, I am still flexible enough to make it happen. I have been extremely happy with my Flex, and have just tried really hard not to think about how we would fit another baby in it, should we be lucky enough to have one. Fast forward again to this past weekend. We went to New Jersey for the wedding of some of our great friends. We needed to rent a car and Ben said, "Why don't you get a minivan and we can see how we like it?" I chuckled at this, but secretly loved the idea, so we did it. We got a Kia minivan to drive for one day in New Jersey. Here's what amazed me about it: I could actually see Miss from the front seat (without the use of a mirror) and there was easily room for me to move back and forth from the front seat to the back seat if necessary without contorting myself. It rode smoothly and didn't seem overly big but had tons of room. How is all that possible? We loved it, and we didn't even have the one with all the bells and whistles. It seems I may end up joining the Minivan-Mommy Club after all. At least until my kids are old enough to climb in, get seated and buckle themselves in without needing a carseat. Which I think happens when they're about ready to start driving themselves.

Okay, that last random thought could have been a long post by itself. It's amazing how much the idea of a minivan can get me going! I'll just stop there then.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Big Fuzzi City

FuzziBunz has come out with a new one-size pocket diaper. My friend is giving some away on her blog Big City! Baby. I am telling you about this so that I may get another chance to win the dipes for myself. I really want to win them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Throwback Thursday - Dancing Queens

This is me (on the left) and my Cousin one year at Christmas time (I'm sure you can tell by the clothing this was in the 70s. Yep, I'm that old). Dontcha love the unselfconsciousness of kids? I think I might have been using that hairbrush (?) as a microphone too. I still can't dance worth a darn (I can keep a beat but don't really have the moves!) but I do it anyway. Especially with Miss, who LOVES music and dancing. Her favorite song? "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm Eating Pasta Again!! I mean Squash...

I have just learned of the wonders of spaghetti squash. Last week we got a spaghetti squash in our box from the CSA, along with a recipe for a spaghetti squash casserole. I had heard before that spaghetti squash is a great substitute for spaghetti pasta. I must admit, I didn't really believe this. Having eaten many different kinds of squash before, I couldn't see how it would be anything like pasta. So, I never bothered to pick one up at the grocery store and thus had never tried it. Well, lo and behold, I ended up with one in my produce box last week, along with a recipe, and decided to give it a whirl.

To back up just a little, my hubby and I have been adhering loosely to the Zone diet (developed by Dr. Barry Sears) for about a year and a half. When I say "loosely" I just mean that we don't really count blocks TOO strictly. Basically, we try to get the correct proportion of protein, fat, and good carbs. We also try to eat whole foods, rather than processed items, thanks to having read the wonderful book "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto." * In trying to get good carbs, we try not to eat foods with a high glycemic index, so no potatoes, pasta, breads, etc. I've sort of missed these things, though less so over time. The discovery of the spaghetti squash, however, has opened my eyes to the possibility of eating "pasta" again. It really is quite like spaghetti in texture when you cook it and scoop it out of the skin! And it actually has an even better flavor. Just for reference, the glycemic index number for white spaghetti is 59, while the glycemic index number for spaghetti squash is less than 20 (the lower the better!). The following is the recipe we got in our box this week from Good Earth Farm. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand except for mushrooms (hate these so never have them in my house), which I left out, and the full 2 cups of mozzarella, which I supplemented with parmesan. I made it two nights ago and it was fantastic! Even better last night for leftovers.

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole (6 servings)

Spaghetti squash (1 medium, 1/2 large, or 2 small)
2 T. Olive oil
1 lb. ground Italian sausage (we used venison Italian sausage, but any ground meat works)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 bell pepper any color, cored, seeded, and diced
1 small onion or 3 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning or dried or chopped fresh oregano, basil, and thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. tomoatoes, chopped (approximately 5-6 tomatoes, depending on size)
1 T. sugar
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese or mozzarella
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (optional)
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Poke the squash several times with a sharp knife to create holes to let the steam out and prevent squash from exploding while baking. Bake whole squash for 45-60 minutes, until a fork easily penetrates the flesh. Remove from oven and let cool until it can be handled. Slice it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and fibers that hold them in the middle. Discard these. Then scrape the spaghetti fibers from each half into a large bowl. Fluff up and separate strands with a fork if necessary and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add Italian sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage into even pieces. Add mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, and S&P, and continue cooking until the sausage is browned and veggies soften (about 8-10 minutes). Add chopped tomatoes and sugar to meat mixture. Cook to thicken, 15-20 minutes. Stir in spaghetti squash.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub a 9x13 casserole dish with a little olive oil. Pour squash/meat mixture into dish. Top with cheese and bake 30-45 minutes. If you like the top browned and crispy, turn on the broiler for the last few minutes. Sprinkle with olives and scallions if desired and serve!

One last thought. I have found that the thing I miss the most about eating pasta is the ease and speed of preparation. Pasta was always one of my go-to dishes when I didn't feel like cooking anything fancy. I mean, how easy is it to throw some noodles in boiling water and add sauce of some sort, or even just a little EVOO and parm? Over time I've come up with other quick and easy Zone-friendly recipes to replace pasta in this way (tuna, chicken, etc). This is good, because I have to say the spaghetti squash can't quite match the speed of preparation of the pasta. As you can see, it takes about an hour to cook it before it's ready to eat. But, cooking it whole is super easy and not messy (doesn't leave much on the dish to clean after) and it is passive preparation, in that you just wash it, poke it, and throw it in the oven for a while. So I would say that it is as EASY as pasta, just not as fast. The flavor and texture make a terrific substitute in other ways! I'm going to try it in some other pasta recipes too.

Next up - Kholrabi puree as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Mmmmm!!

*Pollan, M. (2008). In defense of food: An eater's manifesto. New York, Penguin Press.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Jinxed Myself

I knew I would. All this talk about how Miss is sleeping so well now. Yesterday she took two half-hour naps. Not two and a half hours, but two naps, each for one half hour. Oi. Today was a little better, but I swear that little stinker has some sort of sensor, such that she wakes as soon as I sit down to get on my computer. She was snoozing away while I was doing dishes. Fortunately, she didn't wake while I was taking a shower and drying my hair. But once I sat down to enjoy some coffee and a little blogging, I heard the monitor begin to crackle, signifying the rousing of the Little Miss. This is truly my second attempt at typing this same post about lack of sleep. Ironically of course, the first attempt was aborted when Miss woke up prematurely from her morning nap.

Ah well, at least her sleep at night is still good. Oh wait, no. I jinxed myself there too. Sleeping through the night? Well, sort of. She is now waking once per night, at a different time every night so far, and fussing for approximately 20 minutes. This isn't so bad, because she's not really crying. I'm able to let her put herself back to sleep, but of course I'm awake the whole time too. And if you know me, you know I have had problems with insomnia anyway, and unfortunately, if I wake up for that length of time in the middle of the night it is nearly impossible for me to get back to sleep. I think I was getting more sleep when I just got up twice and nursed her back to sleep real quick. But we won't go down that road again. I'm hoping the sleep all night thing will take pretty soon for good. Until then, early to bed for me. And no more bragging about how beautifully my daughter is sleeping :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

GAD Cloth Diaper Giveaway on LHDH

As I mentioned a few days ago, my friend who has the blog Life Happens During Naptime is giving away tons of great stuff for moms and babies in honor of her son's first birthday coming up. Yesterday the giveaway she posted was for a GAD diaper. I have one of these for Miss and would love to win another, so I'm blogging about the giveaway to get myself another entry :) Above is a pic of her in her GAD.

BTW, I won the Softbums giveaway I blogged about the other day!! Yay for free stuff!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Am I Crunchy?

I was just pondering this question the other day. I suppose the answer depends how you define that term. I wasn't really sure, but I thought that "Crunchy" was a term to describe people who are concerned about the environment and live accordingly, by doing various things to reduce their impact on the environment. If you define it this way, I suppose I'm pretty Crunchy. Obviously, I use cloth diapers. I try to conserve water. I use cloth napkins and real plates/cups/bowls. I make cleaning products out of natural ingredients like vinegar, tea tree oil, baking soda, washing soda, etc. I do still keep a mixture of bleach and water for some jobs and I have a few commercial products, mostly leftover from my days of living in the nasty rental house when I would have used a sandblaster to clean if I could have. But for the most part I use the natural stuff for cleaning. I recycle as much as I can. We joined a Community Supported Agriculture group, called Good Earth Farm, to get organically and locally grown produce all summer and much of the fall. We replaced beef in our diets with venison from the deer Ben shot bowhunting last year, even though it was a buck and is tougher and more gamey-tasting than a doe would have been (he has promised to shoot a doe this year, and I know many people will be horrified and think this is not really environmentally friendly, but look into it, it really is better for the environment than eating beef and we just aren't into being vegetarians). I don't drive a very environmentally friendly car, but I have yet to find one that is both highly fuel efficient and big enough for a baby and two dogs, plus potential future babies. There are some things that I'm just not willing to do, like using "family cloth" instead of toilet paper for example. Not going there. So needless to say, I'm not perfectly environmentally friendly by any stretch, but I try.

This morning I looked on a message board that I pop onto from time to time about cloth diapering, and there was a thread asking "What is Crunchy?" I was intrigued so I took a look. The answers on there included other things that I hadn't necessarily thought of as "Crunchy," but I think I was probably wrong about what the term means. If you think of the term "Crunchy Momma" in particular, then some other things come into the picture that don't necessarily have anything to do with being environmentally conscious but are more related to a style of parenting, such as breast feeding (check), babywearing (check), babyfood-making (check), co-sleeping (nope), not vaccinating (nope), homeschooling (nope), homebirthing (nope), momma-pad-wearing (nope), and so on. Check out this fun "test" of crunchiness that someone posted: How Crunchy Are You? I scored in the "Pretty Crispy!" range. About in the middle I guess. Which is really where I ought to be I suppose when I think about it. It's not that surprising when I think about the choices I have made, which are not really mainstream, but are not terribly far into the granola world either, compared to some*. So how crunchy are you??

*Note: This post is in no way meant to be a judgement of more mainstream or more crunchy mommas!