Monday, June 27, 2011

Little patch of heaven

Two summers ago in the middle of the heat, with my pregnant belly growing, we picked raspberries.

Last summer, as he started learning to eat more foods, i carried him in a sling and we plucked enormous, fragrant peaches. At home they were bar none his favorite food to pick up with the fingers he was still learning to master. We made peach butter, salsa, chutney. As fall came, we went there to take pictures and pick out pumpkins.

In the spring, we walked among the rows and rows of blossoming trees.

Now this summer, my son has enjoyed swiping strawberries from a bucket full of overripe seconds, and most recently, cautiously reclining to the point of lying flat on his back - learning what it felt like to let blades of grass prick his neck for the first time, with fruit trees - and tables of pies - stretching out in front of us.
 
 Step outside the world of babies - with cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, etc - and one of the bigger trends you'll notice when it comes to going green is the local foods movement, and it's a wagon I've fully hopped on and ridden among the peach and apple trees. Well, I take that back, I am sure I could put forth a better effort to make sure more of the food my family eats is local. We could head out to our favorite orchard more often than we do. But the times that we get out there, I feel like it's my own little patch of heaven. Even though I - and most people - can't have the luxury of growing much of my own vegetables or fruits, there is a spot nearby where everything is fresh and the farmers are friendly. We've already made so many memories there, and I look forward to many more.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Why I'm Marching

I'm not always the big community-service, make-the-world-a-better-place kinda girl. I use cloth diapers because I think it's cheaper, and if it saves the planet, that's great. I work at a newspaper, because I like to write, and if that touches someone or connects someone to the services they need, that's sprinkles on top.

But having a kid, a healthy, rambunctious, infection-fighting-on-his-own, kid, makes me want to make this world a better place. If I can help bring more healthy babies into this world, I'm gonna try to do it.

That's why I started doing the March of Dimes March for Babies. I'm so thankful when they hand out balloons on march day, I get to write on mine, "In honor of," and not "In memory of." If the money I raise can lead to another mom getting to do that, I'm gonna keep begging for money.

This year's march is tomorrow. If you would like to sponsor me, you can go to my personal page and use your credit card right there on the website. Thanks!

www.marchforbabies.org/jessicawiant

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He'll be missed

Can't believe it's been more than a month since I have blogged. Guess I just haven't felt very "green" lately! So hhere's something from the heart instead:

As a puppy, we dubbed him a bad dog. He was always the one that couldn’t figure out not to jump all over visitors or growl over his food bowl if you got too close during dinner.

He was also an oddball. From day one, I wondered at times if he thought he was a cat instead, for his paw-grooming habit wasn’t exactly very canine, and he was finnicky about having his ears touched.
Still, he took seriously his job as my protector (even if at times a little too seriously) and I did my best to keep him — my first pet as an adult — fat and happy.

My Pemboke Welsh corgi, Dexter, had short legs, a stubby tail and a big, wide body. He had a fox-like snout and ears, but made pig-like grunts.

Classified as “sable,” he had a white belly and feet and mostly reddish, fox-like hair on the rest of his body. During a Spanish class, when I answered what color my pet was with “naranja” — orange — my teacher laughed.

At 19 and with just one year of school under my belt, I wouldn’t have had the money to invest in a purebred dog. He was a wedding gift from my aunt and uncle. In 2002, I married my high school sweetheart and moved off campus, though during the week my husband worked too far away to be at home with me. So most of the time it was just the two of us, me and my dog.

I graduated, and time came for looking for first jobs and a first home, and we added another dog to the family. Gertie, a rescued mutt pup, came into Dexter’s world bouncing and biting, and my grumpy corgi showed he was more adaptable than I expected by learning to play with her.

When we took them both on a cabin vacation one summer, Dexter was content to nap on the porch, while Gertie chased groundhogs up and down the ridge.

A couple years later, I brought home a kitten found on the mean streets of Strasburg, and Dexter politely ignored her when she swatted him on the behind every time he walked by.

Next, came baby. And again, Dexter surprised me by minding his own business and staying calm even when baby cried.

A few weeks ago, almost 9 years old, Dexter’s behavior took some major turns, and we discovered a mass on his shoulder. Each day he bacame worse, and by a week later, the tired eyes that looked back at me made our next, painful course of action clear.

Suddenly, life at our house was a little more quiet.


I’ve spent a lot of time in the last month thinking about Dexter, my grumpy dog: Some of our happiest times together, the ways he’d drive me crazy and the things I’ll miss. But I keep coming back to two things.
First, is all that has transpired in his lifetime. I feel a little older, and a little wiser with his passing. I feel a bit like my life is entering a new era now that I’ve been an adult for the lifetime of a pet. The cycle of life, birth and death, is a little more real for me now.

Secondly, is that he wasn’t such a bad dog, after all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My dirty little (diaper) secrets to saving money

I have less than $300 in all my diapers (listed in the last post) - and that's including two wet bags (well, actually three) and a bag of Rockin Green.

People complain that the initial investment is one impediment to their deciding to go with cloth diapers, so here are my four secrets for cutting back on that as much as possible:

1) Have a diaper party. Everything Birth, an online diaper and birth supplies store, hosts diaperparties.com, a service with reps a la Tupperware or Mary Kay, that lets you see and touch, and earn commission, before you buy. For my initial investments in cloth, I hosted a party (I included the $25 it took to ship all the supplies in my total investment figure) and was able to snag a free wet bag for being a host as well as credit off my purchase. I posted my party on craigslist and invited my other mommy friends and was able to help several people convert to cloth with me AND get some good deals.

2) Earn diaper rewards. A lot of diaper-specific websites give you points for every dollar you spend and many have offers from time to time for free diapers or other items with purchases of a certain amount. I have gotten at least three diapers through such offers and accumulated enough points for about $20 off other purchases. My personal favorite for this has been kellyscloset.com, though everythingbirth.com has also added diaper rewards feature recently.

3) Guest blog. I have written three or four guests posts for The Cloth Diaper Whisperer, the blog for Kelly's Closet, and earned extra diaper rewards points that way.

4) Buy local. I have gotten a couple of diapers and some more Rockin' Green from a local retailer, Rosebud Diaper Boutique (www.rosebuddiaperboutique.com), meeting her in person or having her swing by my house to save on shipping!

A few other pointers: consolidate orders for free shipping because most stores offer it on purchases of at least a certain amount. Watch for sales - and giveaways. I haven't had any luck yet with the giveaways but between facebook, twitter and other websites people are CONSTANTLY giving away free stuff. Can't hurt to try! Finally, consider off-brands. Several places sell Kawaii diapers from $8 to $11 a piece - that's a lot less than the $22 or $23 that some diapers cost but I have liked these diapers just as much.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stash

I could talk forever about a million different facets of cloth diapers, and I am sure I will eventually. I am tired though, but still want to post SOMEthing to keep readership from totally fizzling so ...

Cloth diaperers and diapers-to-be talk a lot about their stashes. I feel like I have plenty enough for full time with a 16-month old in day care. If I play my cards right I can probably do wash every third day, and here is what I have (note that one common element is that all of my diapers are one-size):

Diapers:
12 Flip Stay-Dry inserts - we only use these at home
4 Flip snaps covers - again, don't send to day care
1 Grovia aplix cover - love it with my Flips at home and out and about

5 BumGenius aplix pockets - perfect for day care
3 Kawaii aplix pockets - work just as well as BumGenius and almost half the price
2 Fuzzibunz one-size - love them, they are by far the trimmest and softest but I avoid sending snaps to day care usually

1 Bamboo Baby All-In-One - handy in a pinch as a backup but small than other one-sizes and Velcro not quite holding up as well, though it is super soft if you put it in the dryer, which I hate to do.

Accessories:

2 BumGenius insert socks - handy to turn extra microfiber inserts from other diapers into something that I can use in one of my covers
Rockin Green Laundry detergent (classic) - I have been using it exclusively for all washing diaper-related
1 large hanging Planet Wise wet-dry bag kept in bathroom for dirty diapers
1 medium Planet Wise wet-dry bag for back and forth to day care and any small trips out on weekends
Flannel blankets cut up into small squares for wipes and rectangles for liners
squirt bottle filled with water and drop of creamy baby oil for wetting wipes as I need one


As you can see I took the "I'll try a little bit of everything" approach. It might have been simpler just to stick with one diaper brand from the get-go - if I had, it probably in retrospect would be Fuzzibunz. But trying different things made me more comfortable because I was afraid of getting something that didn't work for us or that I didn't like. So far everything has worked great and each item has its pros and cons.

Tune in next time and I will share with you how I got this pretty-decent stash for way less than sticker price!

Monday, March 7, 2011

My answer to diaper liners

When I switched to cloth diapers, the point was to cut down on both waste and cost, so the idea of disposable inserts or liners seemed counter-intuitive. Since making the switch, however, I have dealt with several episodes of one rash or another and it's caused a serious headache when washing our diapers. First, day care unknowing used the same cream we'd used with disposables: Lots of scrubbing and Dawn and other things I won't even mention and there are still stains from the cream on a couple of our diapers. THEN, I went with the disposable liners thinking they'd make cream safe only to find out that cream either goes straight through the liner or the liner bunches up and cream still makes contact. Now I have a couple more diapers that have suffered some damage.

After reading a little about reusable liners the other day and pondering just stocking up on more disposables for those times when we need cream, a lightbulb went off: I went to the closet where I have what seems like a dozen flannel receiving blankets that I have never used. I cut one up into rectangular squares about the same length as our Flip inserts and, voila, reusable liners. I washed them separately from the diaper load and because they are flannel they haven't scooted around much. I think this will be THE thing to allow us to do without our back-up Pampers forever more. And if they get yucky, I won't feel terrible about tossing one from time to time and cutting up another blanket! I am so happy!

It would probably be even better and longer lasting if you stitched two together, and you could probably even use a cuter pattern of flannel, but I am not a seamstress (yet!) so this will definitely do for now!

I cut the same blankets up into smaller squares for cloth wipes along time ago and they are still going strong but do fray some, obviously.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Ferber success story

"Ferberization" was yet another word I'd never heard before having a wee one. A few posts ago I wrote about our "problem" with baby in the bed.

So many times in my life, my course of action has been determined because of a good deal:

As you have probably heard, several Borders stores are closing. I went to the nearest one last Saturday hoping to find some deals, in particular a baby sleep book. It turns out that the book by Dr. Ferber was on mega, mega sale so I thought I'd grab it and at least give it a flip-through. (For any of my friends who are "attachment-parenting" fans you are probably already getting nervous.) Dr. Ferber is the one whose sleep training method often gets dubbed "cry it out." I read the book straight through the first night (as my baby slept beside me in our bed) and started trying the method the following night. Now a week later, as I write this, the kid is in HIS bed sleeping soundly and I can actually have a bit of an evening. He has spent the past week each night all night in his crib.

There was some crying involved, but it wasn't unreasonable, and it worked. Letting him "cry it out" for over an hour once the other night before I had the book didn't work. This method involves more than that, and most importantly it explains that it is teaching him to fall asleep on his own - not the crying - that is beneficial. I need my bed. I need my son to sleep in his room. It's just my style, and overall this was pretty painless and well worth the reward for all of us.

Night one - he cried about 40 minutes before going to sleep. I went in at 5, then 10, then 15 minutes. At the end of the next 15 minutes he fell asleep. He woke up twice in the night and didn't cry more than about 20 minutes.

Night two - It took him 20 minutes to go to sleep. He woke up twice, for a little while each time. It sucked, and I wanted to give up but did not.

Night three - went to sleep in 6 minutes. Woke up once in night but not for long enough for me to go in.

Night four - went to sleep in about 6 minutes. Slept til 6:30.

A week in I think we are about back to where we were before his last illness when he ended up in our bed. He's 16 months old now so I think he was old enough to actually be mad and that made him cry more than maybe some younger babies. If we'd stuck to this from an earlier age it might have been easier, but it was simple enough just to correct his sleep after that hiccup in our schedule. Overall, I am VERY pleased with the result.

 

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