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!