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!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mommy Blog Giveaways

Two posts in one day, so that I can tell you about some giveaways on other Momma Blogs that I follow. The Items being given away are both things that I own and use and personally love. And by blogging about them here, I get another chance to win each of the giveaways myself!! so, here they are:

Life Happens During Naptime is a wonderful blog written by a mommy friend of mine. She is an excellent writer and her blog is delightful on any given day. But this week it's especially nice because she is featuring a different item that her readers can win each day, in celebration of the upcoming one-year birthday of her adorable son Moose. I have entered all of her giveaways since beginning to follow her blog a few months ago and haven't won anything yet. But I'm feeling lucky this week! Today's giveaway on LHDN is for a Mommy Necklace. These necklaces are beautiful, totally baby-safe (non toxic beads, extra strong cord, break-away clasp), and make a great focal point for babies who are easily distracted when nursing. I have three and love them. I'm keeping my fingers crossed because I love the color and style of the necklace being given away!

The second blog with a great giveaway right now is Diapers and Dimples, which I have just recently started following. This is a great blog by a new mommy to an adorable baby girl, Emma. Right now she's giving away a Softbums bamboo basic pack. Softbums is an all-in-two (AI2) type of diaper that has an outer shell with a snap in liner that comes in terry covered microfiber or bamboo. We all know how much I love bamboo. I recently purchased two sets of Softbums, one red and one yellow, and tried them for the first time yesterday. Love them!!

So, these two great products are being given away on two great Momma Blogs. Check them out. If I don't get lucky, maybe you will :)

My Cloth Story, Part 2

Being good to the environment is important to me. So after our failed attempt at gDiapers, I still really wanted to try cloth. Once we were in our new house with only moderately hard water and a water softening system that works pretty well, I decided it was time to try again. I again immersed myself in cloth diaper information online. I looked at all-in-ones, pockets, fitted, prefolds. . . I looked at BumGenius, Happy Heiny, Imse Vimse, Fuzzi Bunz and a wide array of other adorably-named cloth diaper brands. I just could not decide. Looking at the pictures and reading the descriptions online was just not making it clear to me. I was suffering from Cloth Diaper Overload, which paralyzed me and made it so difficult to make a decision about what to get. What saved me you ask? Easy - Mom and Pop Place. This is a local store that carries lots of parenting items. They have environmentally friendly toys, nursing supplies, baby carriers, and many other things. And, they have cloth diapers!!! It made all the difference for me to be able to go somewhere and look at the diapers in person and see what they were made of and how they work. Plus, the owner of the store and all the ladies who work there are knowledgeable and very willing to answer all my questions. So, I took the plunge.

I decided to start with just a few items to try some different types of diapers, testing them in two ways. One of my big problems with disposable diapers (other than the nasty chemicals they're made with and the fact that they will still be sitting in a landfill when my children's children's children have children. Figure that!) is that they could not contain Miss's poo. I was cleaning up at least one poop blowout per day. That is not an exaggeration. The final straw for me was a major blowout that went up to her armpits while I was traveling two hours with her in the car by myself. Cleaning that up while on the road was not fun, and it was the second blowout of that day! So, the first test of the CDs was whether they could keep in the poo. And the second was whether I could get them clean. I bought 4 pocket diapers (2 Bum Genius One-Size and 2 Tiny Tush One-Size), six infant Indian prefolds, one each of fitted and contour Kissaluvs, and three covers. I used all of these diapers for a day and a half without a single blow out. Then I washed them using the standard cold rinse, hot wash with cold rinse, extra cold rinse CD wash cycle that I had been told to use. The diapers came out sparkling clean without a single stain. I was instantly hooked, and my addiction to cloth diapers began.

I returned to the internet to find different kinds of diapers to try, in different colors and patterns. I soon learned that I don't much love using prefolds, that fitteds have their place, and that I prefer pockets. I discovered hemp and bamboo. I learned how to get rid of stains when they did occur (using the sun!!) and how to stuff a diaper to last all night without leaks. I found out how adorable cloth diapers can be and how much money they can save. And most importantly, I could feel great about doing this one little thing to have only the softest stuff against my daughter's behind and to help the environment. Yay for cloth!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ahhh, sleep!

We have been working on sleep here in our happy home. After so much travel in the past few months, with the past few weeks being very full, plus teething and who knows what else, Miss had gotten into some bad sleep habits. While on the road, she would often wake 3-4 times per night. And it was very difficult to get her to go back to sleep without nursing her or or else waking the entire household or hotel where we were staying. So, we got into a bad habit of eating in the middle of the night again (her, not me). Miss also started a pattern of fake-out sleeping. Nearly every time I would try to get her to go back down to sleep at night or go down for a nap, she would be peacefully sleeping on my shoulder, and then as soon as I would begin to bend to put her in the crib or Pack'N'Play, she would tense up and be screaming by the time I would lay her down. This would go on for up to an hour, over and over. Sometimes I would go through this for an hour only to get a half-hour nap out of her. I thought I was going to go mad. And for the past several weeks we were never at home long enough in between trips for this to return to normal. Or rather for me to help it to return to normal. I had a plan to address it during this period of three weeks home. So this week we have been working on it.

Wednesday I received Dr. Ferber's book* at my door and read the relevant sections. I was already familiar with the general concepts of his method, but wanted to read about a few additional points related to night waking. Wednesday night we got a baseline. Thursday night was a bit rough. By Friday night we had successfully cut out one night feeding (she had consistently been waking for two since we've been home), and last night she slept through the night. The whole night. She went to bed at 8 and didn't make a peep until 7 this morning. I can't remember the last time she did that. And she is back to napping very well, with three to four hours per day rather than two at best. I'm a happy momma. And she is really a happier baby with much less fussing and crankiness.

I'm kind of surprised by how easily she adjusted back to her old ways (she used to be a champion sleeper). There have been some unpleasant moments, but overall this process was not nearly as hard as I expected it to be. Thank you Dr. Ferber. And thanks to all who gave advice, support, and help (I recall hearing something like, "Give me that baby, you look like you're about to lose it") during the weeks when sleep was so scarce. I don't necessarily expect that Miss will amazingly be sleeping through the night every night from now on, but I am happy to know we have drastically improved the situation and have some new routines to get us through any future bumps in the road.

Ferber, R. (2006). Solve your child's sleep problems. New York, Fireside.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"She's not chubby, she's just right!"

This is to quote my mother-in-law. Except she says it with a funny Scandinavian accent so the "Ch" sounds like "Sh" and the "J" sounds like "Y." Of course, that is absolutely true about Miss. She's yust right! So why is it that baby clothes don't fit her?? When I buy pants for her that aren't stretchy, like jeans or corduroys, I have such a hard time fitting them over her rear end. So, I was thinking it was just because of the cloth diapers, because they give her a bubble butt. But today I tried to put an adorable pair of flowered corduroy pants on her, size 6-9 months. She's just over 7 months. I couldn't get the pants on. And it wasn't the diaper, it was her thighs getting in the way. Babies are supposed to be chunky, so why is it that I can't get pants to fit her? I always have to buy sizes way too big and then roll up the legs so they will "fit" her up top. I guess I'm just frustrated because these pants I tried today are so cute and I didn't put them on her when I still could (I thought I had plenty of time for her to get into them!), so now she can't wear them. I need to just stick to the stretchy kind I guess until someone gets wise and starts making baby clothes with a little extra room in the tush area for the cloth diaper set, and the "shubbies." I'd rather have rolls than corduroy anyway.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Cloth Story, Part 1

I was so intrigued by cloth diapers while pregnant with Miss. I really wanted to try them. But I did not, for two main reasons. First of all, we were living in a very yucky rental house with terrible hard water. The water itself was stinky. It was nearly ruining our regular clothes. Ben's workout clothes (and mine too if I'm completely honest) came out still stinking of sweat, and I just didn't believe it could possibly get dirty diapers clean. Second, I was truly overwhelmed by all the cloth diaper products and the resultant lingo. First, there were the different types of diapers, the All-in-ones (AIOs), All-in-twos (AI2s), pockets, fitteds, contours, prefolds, covers, etc. Then, there were the different materials each of these items might come in, microfiber, hemp, bamboo, fleece, wool, organic bamboo velour (OBV)!! Then there were so many different diaper manufacturers like Bum Genius, Fuzzi Buns, Happy Heinys, Tiny Tush, Hugga Buns. . . and different sites for learning about and purchasing diapers like Hyena Cart, Diaper Pin, Kelly's Closet. The list goes on and I'm still learning. But when I was pregnant and in the first few months of Miss's little life, I was way too intimidated by all this to even know where or how to start.

My first effort at compromise and "greenness" in diapering was with the gDiaper. This is kind of a cross between cloth and disposable, with a cloth cover that has a snap-in plastic liner to make it waterproof and biodegradable disposable/flushable inserts. I think the gDiaper is a great idea, but it didn't work for us. The newborn poo often got all over the cloth cover and the plastic inserts all ended up stained from it. And we didn't have very good plumbing in the rental house (yeah, it was a dump, don't even get me started on the furnaces, water heaters, dishwasher, etc.) so I was afraid to flush the inserts. Thus, I never did come up with an efficient clean-up and disposal system. With disposable diapers, everything goes in the diaper pail, then when the bag is full, it goes in the garbage. With cloth, everything goes in the diaper pail with wetbag, then when it's full it all goes in the wash, bag and all. But with the gDiapers I was putting the inserts and wipes in the diaper pail and not really knowing what to do with the poopy liners and covers. I ended up putting the cloth covers in the laundry and setting the plastic liners in the bathroom sink until I could get a chance to go in and wash them off, then put the in the laundry. Though he never said anything, I'm pretty sure this grossed my husband right out. Plus, the process of putting the inserts in the diaper pail was disgusting since I had a Diaper Champ with the flip top that had the piston-like thing that pushes the diaper down when it is flipped and keeps the stink from getting out. Well, since the gDiaper inserts had no way to wrap them and fasten them to themselves neatly like a disposable diaper, they would typically get poo all over the sides of the Diaper Champ or worse, get stuck in the mechanism and come back around the next time I tried to dispose of one. Needless to say, I quickly became frustrated with the gDiaper and decided that, though gDiapers did a wonderful job of preventing poo leaks onto clothes, the system just wasn't for us. And we went back to disposables.

Then in May, we moved to our new house. Not only is is beautiful and comfortable with working appliances and plumbing, it has less-hard water and I am easily able to get clothes clean. Thus, I decided that I had adequate equipment to brave the laundering of cloth diapers. I just needed to brave the above mentioned mass of cloth diapering information to decide what diapers to try. And that is a story for another day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back in Cloth

I'm so happy to be back from our trip and have Miss back in cloth diapers. The disposables we used for our trip to Louisville were not as bad as I expected. We only had one hideous blowout (I was expecting several). Though when that occurred I found myself saying, "Pshh, my cloth dipes could have handled THAT." We also had a couple of leaks overnight. Whatever they use in those disposables can't stand up to hemp! Of course it is convenient to just throw away a dipe when you're done with it, which is why I took the disposables on the trip in the first place. But other than that, I prefer cloth 100%. They work better, and they're just so stinkin' cute! No pun intended. One good thing about going on the trip and using disposables for a few days is that I got all my fluff clean before we left, so my entire stash was clean and waiting when we got back. The picture above shows my stash of pocket dipes, along with Miss in an adorable GAD OBV (that's a Green Acres Designs diaper with organic bamboo velour for those not familiar with the cloth diapering lingo). Does it get any cuter than that??

Monday, September 21, 2009


I'm home. I had a wonderful weekend visiting with my mom and old friends from graduate school. Visited most of the places I wanted to and found some new spots as well. Miss was a rock star during the travels. She even learned how to wave this weekend and was charming airplane passengers with smiles, giggles, and waves. Louisville is an amazing city. But there really is no place like home. Will post some photos of the trip once I get them uploaded.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Skip to My Lou

Well really, drive-half-an-hour-to-the-airport-hop-a-plane-to-Detroit-hang-out-for-a-two-hour-layover-then-hop-another-plane to My Lou. But either way, by tomorrow evening I will be in Louisville. One of my favorite cities ever. By far my favorite of the cities I've lived in. I was there for four years through graduate school at the University of Louisville. And I'm going back for a reunion with many of my girlfriends from those years. It should be a blast. If I can stay up past 10, that is! So many places to visit: The Granville Inn, O'Shea's, The Outlook (all favorite watering holes from back in the day). Also the Louisville Antique Mall and the Architectural Savage Store are high on the list of spots to go. Thank goodness I'm meeting my mom there. It's a win-win really. We get to hang out for a long weekend. I get to have an antiquing partner. And she gets to be Grandma with Miss while I try to resurrect some of my past ability to party until the bars closed (at 4 am!!). I'm hoping to make it 'til midnight this time. Much has changed! For the better I must say. I'm looking forward to sharing Lou with my daughter and my mom, and seeing some old friends too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Love You Stinky Face

I have "Goodnight Moon." I have "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" I have lots of board books that I enjoy reading to Miss. My favorite one though, is "I Love You Stinky Face*". I bought this book purely because I thought the title was hilarious. But I have discovered that it is just a wonderful little book all around. It is such a fun book to read, and it's every bit as good for naptime/bedtime reading as "Goodnight Moon." It's about a little boy who asks his mother if she would still love him if he were an ape, a skunk, an alligator, a "meat-eating dinosaur," or an alien, among other things. And of course the book Mama always responds that she would love and take care of him no matter what. My favorite line from the book is "But Mama, But Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was 'Stinky Face'?" As I type it even, I'm hearing the funny inflection that I like to use when reading this aloud. And the book Mama's reply begins with "Then I would plunk you in a bubble bath." It's an adorable book. And Miss seems to love it too. We read it before every nap.

*McCourt, Lisa (author) & Moore, Cyd (Illustrator). (2004). I love you stinky face. New York, Cartwheel.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Travel Weary

We have been traveling a lot the past few weeks. I am tired of travel at this point, but there is only more to come. In May we went to Florida for a week. In June we went to the Farm for a week. In July we visited my family in Kentucky for a week. In August we went to Des Moines for the Iowa State Fair one weekend. Then we spent the week before Labor Day at the Farm again, getting ready for the big Labor Day party with the in-laws. We came back for two-and-a-half days and then left again for the farm to attend a wedding. All of this with a baby of course. Who is teething. She has been a champ though. At 7 months old I think she's more well-traveled than some adults I know.

Coming up, we have a trip to Louisville for a grad school reunion and visit with Grandma this weekend, then three whole weeks at home before two weekends of back-to-back weddings, one in New Jersey, the other in Iowa, then home for another two weeks before a marathon trip, starting in Florida for a family reunion, then to KY for a week with my family, then to the Farm to join Ben to wrap up his hunting trip there. Then of course more traveling for the holidays. . . Sometimes I wish we just lived close to our families.

Above are a few pics of the most recent travels. Though it has been tiring, we've had a great time!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Well, I'm new to this, so please bear with me as I learn how the heck to do it.

My humble vision for this blog is for it to be a way to share life in Wiscy with my family and friends that is more personal than Facebook. Don't get me wrong. Facebook has it's place and has served me well for sharing photos and videos of Miss with my loved ones who don't get to see her on a regular basis. But I am hoping for something more true to our day to day here. Motherhood has certainly made me come to realize, even more than I always have, the importance of maintaining close ties with family. I want my family be able to know my daughter and share the joys of her existence. Since I'm not able to do facilitate that with physical proximity, I'm hoping this will help. Ahh, the wonders of the internet.

Speaking of which, I am pretty intimidated by some of the amazing blog-feats I have seen. I won't lie, I have some blog-envy. I'm hoping to start with learning how to post photos and link to other blogs, then we'll see if I can get fancy. All in due time.