Saturday, August 28, 2010

diaper stash

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It's almost September. I can feel the days of putting the cloth diapers on the line outside winding to a close.  I know, I still have a good 2 months of potential line drying weather, but still...

Update: added some pictures of the diapers currently, as the picture below is about 2 years old!

I thought I'd give you a peak at the diaper stash I've been hanging on my clothes line.

BumGenius One-Size 3.0 pocket diaper and microfiber inserts- 14
FuzziBunz One Size pocket diaper and microfiber inserts - 3
Green Mountain Diapers (Cloth-eeze) organic Red Edge prefolds 12
Green Mountain Diapers (Cloth-eeze) Green edge (XL/toddler) prefold - 6
unbleached premium indian prefolds - 8 (down from 12, since some have some significant wear)
4 littleweeds hemp doublers
Mother-ease sandy's fitted and airflow cover - Large
Bummis superwhisper wrap cover - 4 medium, 1 large
Bummis brights - 2 medium
thirstie wrap cover - 2 medium, 1 large
proraps cover - 1 large

This is about half of my stash pictured.

I also have a bunch of newborn or small infant sized items that are not in rotation (this is an educated guess, as I don't have immediate access to these diapers) -

green edge infant prefolds - 12
unbleached infant prefolds- 12
kissaluvs size 0 fitted diapers - 12
bummis super snap - 2 SM
bummies super whisper wrap - 2 NB  3 SM
thirsties wrap - 1 NB, 1 SM
proraps cover- 2 NB, 1 SM
Dappi covers -2 NB

I have more diapers than I actually need diaper just one child. It was just about right when I had two in cloth full-time!

Friday, August 27, 2010

the stinkies: a toddler's view

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This is how bad the diaper pail stink is:

Nathanael, unwisely playing with the lid of the diaper pail, opens it to peek in.  He immediately starts coughing, and turns to me with a gagging kind of face, and coughs several more times.  Ah, the smell of ammonia in the afternoon...

Why he does this again baffles me.

Time to wash the diapers!

relocated garden

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The distinct advantage of a container garden is that when I moved, my garden moved with me.

My current home is located on a hillside, surrounded on three sides by trees.  I have sun from sunrise to about 12 on the east side of the house, so I still get a good 6 hours of sun for the plants, but that's several hours less than they had at our previous residence.  I think they are managing the transition well.  I think some of the plants are actually doing better here.  The green beans had a little too much sun before - all day, plus sitting next to white painted, heat reflecting metal was a bit much. Now it's sitting on the west side of the house, where it's in the shade half the day.

My sunflowers, tomatoes and cucumber plant. I've had several small tomatoes from the three plants this summer.  All of the rain has been problematic, though - lots of split skins.  The cucumbers have been a mystery to me.  Perhaps the plants are diseased?  I've had maybe 5 cucumbers from this trio of plants all summer.  They grow only one or two at a time. I saw lots of blossoms, and then they would start growing little cucumbers, but eventually, all but one (or two) would wither and brown. This cycle happened several times. And now it's pretty much wilted and dry and dead.

Strawberries and peppers.

We've been getting a pretty steady crop of strawberries for the past several weeks.  Usually not more than a dozen berries every 4 or 5 days, but they've been nice and sweet.  Nathanael was helping me pick them today.  I picked probably 13 berries, and he ate more than half of them straight out of the box, greenery and all.  I had to save the remaining four for Elizabeth before he finished those off.

I planted a mixed variety of peppers - here you can see an orange and a yellow pepper. I don't know if what color the two remaining green peppers will turn. Maybe they're supposed to be green?  Earlier this summer, we had two purple peppers.

This is the view from my porch.  The road you see is actually my driveway, and that's still several feet above the road.  We're maybe 100 feet higher in elevation compared to our previous house.  Speaking of, you can't actually see our previous house in this photo, but you can see the roof of one of the mobile homes to the north of our old place.  It's that little strip of white just above the valley created by the treetops.  If we have water lapping at our front step here, someone had better have built an ark.

A view off the north edge of our porch, overlooking our neighbor's yard.  Our neighbors, they're awesome.  I'm glad to be back here.

And back to the garden... More strawberry plants.  I think these need to be moved to where they can get more sun. Our back porch is pretty shaded.

The herbs seem to like it, though!

I intend to plant more lettuce and spinach in the two other trough planter boxes I have.  The weather is suddenly cooler, and I think I can have a nice supply of greens into the fall.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

my kids

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Here are some things my kids have been up to recently. The photos are from a year ago on this date.  I'm a little behind on my photos since moving!  Enjoy the flashback!


She's in to cutting and glueing things.  She's good at cutting straight lines, and cutting around shapes (for a 3 year old).  She cuts up construction paper and glues them to shapes like apples and flowers.  We've also been working in some preschool workbooks, and she likes to do the matching activities where she can use scissors and glue.

She's catching on to proper grammar - she will correct herself if she starts to say "a apple" to "an apple."

Cute kid-isms that haven't disappeared yet - she says "loose" instead of "use," and asks "Are you help me?" instead of "will you help me?"  She's receptive to us telling her the correct way to say such things, but it's still cute to hear her.  She has lots of phrases that are just cute. Many stories end with "but that was a long time ago," even if it was just yesterday.  She explains things with her hands, which is something I frequently do.  She mimics my gestures pretty accurately!

She has a fake laugh that is high and squeaky.  She chatters non-stop, except around unfamiliar people.

She watches way too much TV, because I give in to her persistent nagging and whining.  An area in need of improvement on my part. Right now, she always asking to watch bob the builder.

She loves playing the back yard building roads in dirt (which refuses to grow grass). She plays dress up and with her pink tea set.


His vocabulary is growing!  New words in the last few weeks: eat, Beth, Bob (as in bob the builder), cat, hippo (said Bo), Nana, Papa (also bobo), bear, off, hot (ha-T), belly button, ear, bed.

He loves to dance to music, and starts bobbing around when he hears something to his liking.  He clearly has a sense of the beat of music, as he was listening to some music in Sleeping beauty, and adjusted his movements to match the speed of the music as it changed.

He loves it when his dad comes home - "Da-Teeeee!!!" and runs to him to be picked up.

He still enjoys riding around in a baby carrier.  It's especially helpful for me that he likes it, since I can get more things done in these busy days.  I just need to remember more often to wear him!

They are both great kids - I love them lots!

Friday, August 20, 2010

on unpacking, and mopping

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I've been slogging through boxes, but it feels like more boxes keep showing up (because, perhaps, they really do keep showing up?)

I have an unfortunate habit of being indecisive, and then, since I can't decide, I don't do anything.

An example: I have several boxes sitting on shelves, waiting for me to take the books out and put them directly on the shelf.  However. Not all of the books or shelves actually fit in this room, and some will have to be relocated to other areas of the house.  Likely, the upstairs, which is currently unoccupied, because we're doing some fixin' and paintin' and floorin' before we move our bedrooms upstairs.  So.  I don't want to unpack books onto shelves that I'll have to move shortly to do the aforementioned work. And.  I'm undecided on what books I want in the office, and which I want upstairs.  Impasse.

I'm also slightly short tempered, because I'm tired, and because Nathanael found my container of Sharpies before I did, and added some artwork to my computer desk.  (At least he missed the computer and peripherals.  Can't say as much for his sister when she did the same thing.)

On the upside - I discovered the horizontal surfaces in my kitchen and dining areas. I also have managed to kick in some of my regularly scheduled cleaning, like mopping, and toilets.

Did I just say mopping?

Seriously the bane of my existence. Funny, because every time I actually mop, I think to myself that it's not so bad.  Again, it goes back to indecisiveness, combined (complicated?) by a perfectionist streak - since I feel like I can't get the floors as clean as I really want them to be (time constraints, dirt that was there before I was born, etc...) then I just won't clean them at all.  That's why when my parents came to visit when Elizabeth was born, my dad kindly scrubbed my floor (on hands and knees, no less!) since it hadn't been anything more than spot washed in oh.... a year?  Gross, I know.  I'm getting better though.  Like I said, I mopped today.  In the kitchen. And the bathroom, the floor upon which Elizabeth later missed the potty in her rush to use it. Sigh. But, hey, yay for not wearing diapers!

I also watered my plants, and played on the internet.

Life is slowly returning to normal.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

we've moved!

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Over the weekend, we moved.  Kind of.  We still have some things at the old house, and I'm working on getting that packed up and out of there by this weekend.

Needless to say, my time has been occupied with packing and unpacking, and it will continue to be a busy time here at the yellow house on the hill. (Yes, we moved into the same house we moved out of 10 months ago.  Don't question it.  It works for us.)

Even though I'm away from my computer, does it help to know that I'm blogging in my mind?  That I'm coming up with the best posts the world will never see?

Because by the time I get to the computer, I'll forget what I was thinking about. 

Right now, if something doesn't require constant attention, or if I get distracted mid-task, I'll walk away, forgetting that I was going to complete it.  Then, hours later, I'll realize that I never finished what should have taken 2 minutes.

Kind of like this post.  What did I start out writing about? 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

go sew, young woman!

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I want to sew.

Since sometime last week, I've had an urge to haul out my sewing machine, which is currently packed at the bottom of a closet, and hasn't been used since sometime last summer.

I have a stack of projects I want to work on.

Here are some of my tasks:

closet curtains for the new house (as several of them lack doors)
new liner for the diaper bag
quilt for my nephew
cloth pads/mama cloth
some minor repairs on clothing
camp t-shirt quilt (finally!)

I'm sure there are some other projects sitting in boxes.  And I know that even if I finished all of these, there would be something else to work on.

Once we're settled in a the new place, I'll be able to make some space for my projects.  One thing at a time. But really, can't it hurry up?

Also: I'm wondering when it would be time to start Elizabeth on some sewing projects.  She's 3 and a half now. What kinds of projects would be appropriate? doll clothes? little quilts?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

blog updates

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I'm updating some features on my blog, to make it a little more accessible to my readers (devoted, right?)

On the left, you'll see a feed reader icon.  You'll also see a place to subscribe by email, and have my posts sent to your email!

I've never tried the email subscription thing, so if you're having problems, please let me know so I can address the problem.

Do you have any other suggestions for improving the accessibility or functionality of my blog?  What kind of features would be helpful or interesting to you?

birthing babies

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I used have photos from Elizabeth's birth and first months as my screen saver on my computer. I could see the photos as I walked on the treadmill, and recently I've been thinking about my experiences with Elizabeth's birth, and how I'm glad that the next birth was different.

Elizabeth's birth was a planned homebirth that ended up transferring to a hospital for lack of progress. It was not an emergency transfer, as no one was in distress or in any kind of a medical emergency. My midwives were experienced, and made the best recommendation they knew to make, based on the circumstance. Elizabeth was born with the assistance of pitocin augmentation, and some of those "just in case" antibiotics, but no pain medications, and just a few other interventions (IV, external fetal monitor, Intrauterine pressure device, catheter) . Even though I labored at home for close to 48 hours, and an additional 8 or so in the hospital, I still managed to crack jokes, and say after she was born "It wasn't that bad." I was glad I made a birth plan in case of transfer, but sad we ended up using it. I was glad that we were blessed to get the on-call doctor who specialized in high-risk pregnancies, and who has a relatively hands-off approach, and is cautious about using interventions. I was sad that we felt that we needed to go to the hospital at all.

Even though our outcome at the hospital was good, and we weren't pushed into interventions we knew were likely when transferring (like a c-section), seeing the photos reminds me of some of the reasons I wanted a homebirth in the first place.

Here are some of the things that I DID experience that I would rather have avoided by staying home:

Being asked lots of questions in the midst of laboring.
No eating or drinking during labor. I was crazy thirsty, and a little hungry.
Being tied to the bed with monitors and IV's.
Feeling like I had to ask permission to do things (like using the toilet!)
Being limited in who I could have around as labor support.
Having the "threat" of a c-section hanging over my head - if I wasn't on schedule with hospital expectations, off to the OR I would go. This was specifically expressed by the doctor.
Having Elizabeth taken away from my room for some of the newborn checks.
Signing page after page (after page!) of forms just to go home.

I'm grateful that we had a healthy baby, and a healthy mama. That doesn't mean that I had to like everything that went on in the process of achieving that end.

I do want to be clear that I'm not intending to criticize the parents that choose a hospital birth, or that choose interventions.  I guess I'm sticking up a little defense of those people who are told that they should be happy that everyone is healthy and just ignore the emotional side of things.

Birth is emotional, and if we want to get a handle on helping parents through it and afterwards, then we need to recognize all aspects of birth as contributing to a "healthy mama" or a "healthy baby" - emotions included.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NTDI: epidsode 8 - rockin' the night away

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A while back, I posted about getting my samples of Rockin' Green cloth diaper detergent.  I said that I took pictures, and that I would post about it.  Then I proceeded to Not Post.

Now that I'm home and I'm procrastinating a) packing and b) sleeping, I thought I would compile my images for your viewing enjoyment!

The methodology, as proposed by the detergent gurus over at Rockin Green Soap, (which is really a detergent and not a soap) is to add 3 tablespoons of detergent to a top loading washing machine or 5-6 tablespoons of detergent to a bathtub, add hot water, add diapers, and let soak for 30-60 minutes (or longer, like overnight!).  Since neither tub nor washer were good options, I used my diaper pail, and 3 tablespoons of detergent.

My kids wanted to help on this project.  Notice the nice product placement while pouring the detergent in the pail?

Both were curious about what Really is going on here. They may have suspected some imminent child labor. They might have been right about the child labor.

Here are the diapers I was soaking.   I had taken some photos of similar diapers to attempt a before and after, but really, I couldn't tell a difference in the appearance of the diapers. I have 5 BumGenius 3.0 onesize pocket diapers and inserts, 2 Fuzzibunz onesize pocket diapers and inserts, 2 old Bummis superwhisper wraps (like, 3 years, and LOTS of use!), and  3 red edge Green Mountain Diaper organic prefolds. They all are "clean" diapers.

My slave labor helpers adding diapers to the pail. I filled the pail about halfway with water.  I would guess it was in the realm of 5 gallons of water.

Helpers stirring the diapers around to get them properly agitated. Really, is there a proper way to agitate diapers?  I much prefer them to be happy.

Sitting. Waiting. The water looks kind of icky, right?  Well, really, that's just what happens when you take slightly cloudy water (because the detergent made it cloudy), and add colored items. It changes the appearance of color without actually changing the water. See the samples a few photos down.

I decided to take water samples during my investigation, as I felt that would a better comparison of what is actually getting out of the diapers, and into the water.

Here are the results of the water sampling:
From left to right:
Plain hot water, Rockin Green (RnG) before diapers, RnG diapers after 10 minutes, RnG diapers after 1 hour, RnG diapers after 10 hours

I couldn't really see much difference between the 1 hour sample and the 10 hour sample.

I think it's more telling to look at the amount of light that can pass through the suspension.  Look at the table in front of the jars. Clearly, after 10 hours there is more to block the light in the jar than in the 1 hour jar.

It would certainly seem that soaking made a difference in getting stuff out of the diapers. It would also seem that the longer the soak was, the more stuff came out. 

The real test is the morning smell test, which has been positive. Er. Negative. No smell, that is.

I may have found a night-time stink solution, in my detergent!  And, a bonus for me: I won a bag of RnG detergent in a giveaway, so now I can really give a solid trial, and see what happens!  I plan to go back to a more "normal" wash routine - only spraying off poopy diapers, everything else going straight into the diaper pail, doing just one or two extra rinses (as opposed to several additional wash cycles).

We'll see what happens!

Monday, August 09, 2010

crazy days

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Really, I'm back.

I was gone this past week to a college-age camp.  No, I'm not college-age, but my husband was a co-director, and I was the one with the proper certificate to meet state requirements for the kitchen. And I taught a class, and made sure the campers had enough crayons and and paper for coloring.

So, now that I'm home, I'll still probably not be doing much in the way of blogging.  We're moving this weekend, and really, we haven't packed anything, since we didn't decide to move until sometime last Wednesday.  So, I'll be spending some quality time packing.  Thankfully, we're just moving back to our old house which is quite close.  It's not vital that we get everything moved in one day.

And, for those of you with our mailing address - fear not, that will stay the same!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wayback Wednesday

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 I love all the catchy little titles people do with their blogs.  Well, maybe love is too strong a word.  It's kind of cutesy, and certainly has a degree of something consistent from week to week on a blog. Nice and alliterative.

Menu Plan Monday, Wordless Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, Super Stash Saturday...

Actually, I think it's a good idea.  I'm just not good at consistent.

So.  Here's something I might do again, sometime in the future:

Presenting Wayback Wednesday!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

About 4 years ago, this was a post I made:

 I still think it's funny.

Some Photos from the Summer of 2005 -

Yoda, the cute kitty who arrived at our door, but we couldn't keep.
Danielle, A sweet little girl!

Alan, posing with a lifesized cutout of Joseph Smith, Jr. at a church reunion. JS played holey board, but I don't recall if he won.

Also, from the Wayback Machine over at the Internet Archive:

10 years ago at CNN

10 years ago at VH1

10 years ago at ESPN

Oh, how the world has changed!

Monday, August 02, 2010

homemade vanilla extract

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Today I made homemade vanilla extract.  I've had several online friends rave about homemade vanilla extract.  They say it's cheaper, and that it tastes better.  How can I loose on this?

I did some looking around the internet to find the right proportion of alcohol to vanilla.

Most places recommend using vodka, or an alcohol that is 80 proof (40% alcohol).  I saw bean to cup of alcohol ratios ranging from 1 to 8 beans.  I opted for something right in the middle - 3 beans per cup.

The vodka I selected is Vodka 360.  Honestly, I just guessed about what to pick.  I'm not a drinker of alcohol, so I had to rely on reading reviews and recommendations.  I stumbled upon this brand in my local grocery store.  I was attracted to the appearance of eco-friendliness, the fact that is it a relatively locally made product (Weston, MO), and I loved that the bottle came with a reusable stopper. The shelf price is $15.99 for 750 mL.

I purchased my organic vanilla beans through a wholesale coop. I got 29 beans (1/4 pound) for about $22.50.

I cut the beans lengthwise, leaving the top 1 inch connected together. I was a little surprised at how long the beans were - I just put my hand in there to give some reference.  Although, hands come in a variety of different sizes too, so I'm not sure how helpful this really is.

I was also surprised at how small the vanilla seeds were.  I guess I expected something like a green bean seed from a pod that size? Anyway, those little specks are all seeds.  

I put 10 beans in the bottle (I needed to decant a little less than 1/4 cup of the alcohol to fit them in). I resealed and shook it up.

According to various internet instructions, the vanilla should be left to soak for at least 8 weeks, but the longer, the stronger it gets. The bottle should be shaken every few days, and left to do its work in a cool, dark place.

The beans can be reused for a long time - they say when the bottle is 3/4 full, to add more vodka, and it will keep replenishing the stock.

Now that I have my lovely beans soaking, I have to wait, wait, wait. I'll test it out in about 2 months, and see what my results are.

Note: after I started my vanilla extract, I did some further looking and came across Vanilla Review.
There's a recipe there that suggests I might want to add more beans to my bottle.  The information on this site differs quite a bit from others floating around the internet.

Here's the financial breakdown for this experiment:

At my local Wal-Mart, I paid $2.33 for one ounce of Watkins Pure Vanilla extract. ($2.33/oz)
Through my local wholesale buying club, I paid $7.28 for 4 ounces of certified organic vanilla extract. ($1.82/oz)

Vodka - $15.99
Vanilla beans - .78 each, or $7.76 for 10

Total: $23.75

750 mL makes about 25 ounces of vanilla extract, so our price per ounce of homemade vanilla extract is $.95/oz.

The vodka actually had a mail in rebate for $10.  Counting that, our price drops to about $.55 per ounce of homemade vanilla extract.

That's a huge savings!  I'll go through more than four ounces of vanilla in a year.  At that rate, this stash should last me at least 5 years. Don't be surprised if I start finding ways to use more vanilla extract, though!

I still have almost 20 beans left. Now I need to find some creative uses for those.  Homemade vanilla ice cream, anyone?

Here's an Update on my vanilla extract, at about 2 months out.
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