Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dear HopefulSingleMommaToBe

Dear Hopeful:

Your blog hates me. 

I've tried to comment twice on your most recent post.  It won't let me.  I get into this endless run where it asks me to log in, tries to make me comment as anonymous ...  it's horrible.  I tried on two separate days.  I tried logging in first.  I tried just posting as anonymous.  Finally I gave up :)

Here's what I wanted to say:

I have a baby gift for you.  I need your mailing address.  Please email it to me at mommiev1 at gmail.

And you might want to consider listing your email on your "about you" page. :)

Hang in there on the bedrest.  Been there, done that.  When you hold a precious little baby in your arms at the end of it, it's totally worth it.  Also, this  is the last time you will sleep in 6 months, take advantage.

Love ya,

Monday, May 30, 2011

Even My Kid Hates Disposable Diapers

One Spring evening at the MommieV household:

The first time she took the sposie diaper off.

The second time, I came out from stirring supper to find this.

The third time. (It's a perfectly dry diaper, and I REALLY needed to do diaper laundry).

At least she pulled her shorts back up.  Mostly.

The fourth time, I gave up.

And put her in a Knickernappies side-snap pocket.

Hey, yo, look at me now!


I wrote a whole post a while back about the situations, choices, experiences, etc, that led me to being a single mother.  Then I canned it.  It has too much personal information about people that haven't agreed to have their personal information on the internet.  (Mostly because I don't want them to know about this blog, and mostly because I don't want to bring up the conversation.)

But I struggle with some questions.  I'd love to revisit the post, because I'm looking for some good advice and affirmation from some of the Choice Moms who did things "the right way" (in my mind).  Like having actual donor agreements or using a physician so its legal.

I did have part of the conversation with Jellybean Mama, but we were both chasing toddlers around the beach and shivering, so I never really got her thoughts on the questions that were the important part of the conversation.  We mostly shared "what we would do next time".

I'm still not ready to put the post up.  Maybe one night this summer after too many margaritas you'll see it.

In the meantime, if you're also struggling with "daddy question" angst and bio-dad/known donor issues, there are some decent posts up at singlemommyhood.com, specifically here, here, and here (that last one makes me feel better.  At least I don't have THAT issue to worry about.  I don't think.)

We are doing the "every family is different" thing.  We read Todd Parr's The Family Book all the time.  She's been talking about daddies, since that's obviously a topic at daycare.  I just reply with "we don't have a daddy in our family, we have a Grandpa, though, and he loves us very much".  Others have heard me say the "we don't have a daddy in our family.  Every family is different, right?  And we have a Nan and a Grandpa and an Aunt Patti and ..." and commended me for the skill with which I handled the conversation.  (Totally, planned, baby, that's the secret!).  So maybe I"m laying good groundwork for when the questions get really hard.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Kid is So Freaking Smart

We come in from my mom's tonight.  The kid is a mess, having had a late supper and various confrontations involving putting the bubbles away and leaving Nan and Grandpa's house.  As I'm ushering both of us through the door into the kitchen, she notices a pair of my shoes.

I was gifted a pair of flip flops from a family friend.  They have a flower stitched onto them, so they are very cute for summer.  I was wearing them while working in my campus office the other day.  While walking down the hall to the printer, I noticed a wierd sensation on my foot.  I looked down to notice the flower coming off.  I pulled it the rest of the way off, and wore the shoes home, thinking I would toss them when I got home.  I decided to keep them around as an extra pair of shoes to wear when gardening or doing yard work.  That's why they were out in the middle of the floor, I'd been wearing them while gardening while she was taking her nap.

She immediately noticed one shoe was missing the flower.  "Where flower?  Where flower?" she repeated until I answered her.  "I lost it" was the simplest answer I could come up with.  "You lost it" she repeated.

I headed for her room to pull out pajamas and a bath towel to start the bedtime rituals of the night.  When I returned to the kitchen where she was,


had become this:

The Baby In The Mirror Is Still There

Since she's two years old, she may now have to be called the "kid" in the mirror.

So we have more photos to add to the Baby In The Mirror collection.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We Don't Have Lice

Mother's Day arose grey and rainy.  I got myself showered and ready, then got my kid showered and ready.  My mom picked us up, and we went to church.

I'm still in between churches.  If I could pick up the church  I attended where I used to live and move it here with a crane, all would be well.  Life doesn't work that way.  I'll get there eventually.  In the meantime, my mother has found a church she really likes, so I have been going occasionally with her.

This church has a hard core kids program and nursery.  The area is complete separated with a locking door and entry area.  You have to sign the kid in and out, and they give you a code number.  If there are any issues during the service, your little number will pop up in the corner of the screen.

So it's Mother's Day.  They sing some sappy song about a daughter always needing her mom and I cry.  They sing some other song and I cry.  Finally the preacher begins the sermon and I settle in.  Then I notice our number has popped up on the screen.

I arrive at the nursery entryway to find a woman with my daughter.  She informs me simply "they found nits in her hair".

They. found. nits. in. her. hair.

Deep breath.  I need to escape.  Get me to the bathroom so I can cry.  And paw through my kids hair to find the nits.  The woman, probably also a mother, tries to reassure me.  Don't worry, lots of kids get lice.  Meanwhile I'm hoping to God the ground swallows me whole.

Retreating from the nursery area, we encounter a woman in the doorway.  Balancing a child and two cans of coke, she recognizes us from a local consignment sale.  She obviously is aware of the diagnosis, because she, too, launches into her "it happens to everyone" reassurance.  She then starts telling me exactly what I need to do to rid ourselves of the lice.  "Wash everything in the house.  Put stuffed animals through the dryer.  Get the RidEx, not the other stuff, the other stuff doesn't work.  Be sure to use the comb.  You're going to have to comb every night for, like, a week.  And wash everything for like, a week.  And get the spray for the couch and stuff.  Put everything in the dryer on hot, or use the spray.  It's really horrible.  But it happens to the best of us.  I have three kids and they ALL had it.  Like, three different times each.  It's horrible.  It's really really horrible.  But you'll be fine.  Bye!"

Meanwhile, I'm looking at my kids head.  I don't see any nits.  I don't see anything that looks like anything on her head.  But I don't want to paw through her hair in front of these women, and these mothers obviously know more than I do about the subject, so ....  just get me to the bathroom.  I have a really good cry and then look for myself.

In the bathroom, I search her head.  I find nothing.  My mother comes to find us, and I report the conversation.  I also report that I haven't seen anything.  My mom looks through her head and finds something white and pulls it off the hair.  I say "that just looks like fuzz to me" and she says "well, that's what they look like.  Small white things."

Okay.  So she must have lice.  All the people that know much more about this than I do say so.  So we go home.

I send my mother to the store for the chemicals to douse my child, a new pillow (which was on the shopping list anyway) and whatever else the store might sell that might get rid of lice.  I texted her to check for Tea Tree Oil, which she bought.  Despite it being close to nap time, I stripped her bed and began washing bed linens, I gathered all the stuffed animals to the basement, I pulled her bed away from the wall and swept and mopped the floor, and I cleaned the rest of her room like a mad woman.  Then while she napped, it was on to my room.  Clean sheets and pillowcases, dust mop for the floor ....  But I knew I couldn't do all of it.

Did I mention grades were do the next day, and it was also Commencement?  Did I mention I still had 60 exams to grade, 120 grades to calculate, and a 14 hour day to work the following day?  I asked my mom to call my aunt to come help clean, her specialty.  So since the "deep cleaning" wouldn't happen until the following day, I put off the dousing of chemicals, and just tried the Tea Tree Oil treatment I had read about online.

I combed her hair with a fine-toothed comb, since the kid had stolen the one that came in the kit and hid it somewhere (dirty laundry basket is where it was later recoved, several days later).  I didn't see anything, but I combed every inch of her head.  Maybe it was just a mild case.  Maybe the TTO got them all out.

The next morning she woke up with two small white things in her hair.  I pulled them out, thinking they were nits.  I called daycare to tell them of our problem.  I left the kid with mom and went to grade and calculate and pomp and circumstance and everything else a professor does on the last day of the semester.  Frequent phone check-ins told me the consensus was my house was getting really clean, and my kid's lice seemed gone.  Noone saw anything in her hair.  When I came home for a break during the afternoon, I saw two more little white things, so I asked mom and her friend who would be watching her while I attended Commencement to be sure to do the TTO treatment again.  If there were still white things the next day, we would move on to chemicals.

The next day I was off work.  In the morning, two more little white things.  I'd thought my aunt sprayed the furniture with the lice bedding spray.  She actually used Lysol, which she'd heard was an insect repellant.  I got frustrated thinking that we still had nits and the correct spray hadn't been used.  I started dragging couch cushions out to the porch and began spraying the stuff.

In graduate school I became sensitized (allergic) to organic solvents.  Like the ones used to dissolve chemicals like insecticides.  So immediately my head feels like its going to explode, and I have six more couch cushions and pillows to spray.  I did it in shifts, spending time in the fresh air of the backyard in between spraying toxic chemicals on my couch cushions in the front yard.

After her nap, a few more little white things.  This is really starting to bug me.  I'm treating with TTO, I'm combing, I'm spraying toxic chemicals in the house.  Also, all I'm seeing are the nits.  I'm not seeing actual lice.  How are the nits getting there if there are no adult bugs to lay the eggs?  This is really driving me crazy.  But after a day of headache, I am NOT doing the chemical shampoo on her hair.  That would probably kill me.  So, one more night of TTO.

The next day we go to the doctor.  She'd had green snot and congestion and cough for days, its about time to get that taken care of.  Also, we can mention the lice issue, and see what the doc has to say.  The intake person asks us lots of questions.  When she asks when I started treatment, I said "Sunday".  Then I clarified -  I have only been treating her with Tea Tree Oil.  She stops and looks at me.  "Not the shampoo?".

No, I am one of those crazy mamas that cloth diapers her kid and tries "alternative" treatments.  Not always.  But this time, I did.  You can see it in this woman's eyes.  "Ha, this woman thinks that Tea Tree Oil gets rid of lice.  Ha!"

The nurse practicioner checks my wee one's head.  And checks, and checks.  She finds something, but brushes it to the side.  Checking, checking.  The verdict: my kid has dandruff.

Whatever the ladies at the church saw, was probably dandruff.  If it was big enough for them to see without pawing through my kids hair (and why would they be doing that anyway?) then it was probably dandruff.  Since I treated with an oil, that probably got it.  Since I didn't know what I was looking for, I assumed "white thing" meant nit.  She said if you see the white things, try to brush them away.  Dandruff brushes away.  Nits don't.  She said that TTO is an insect repellant, so treating with it - or using shampoo or conditioner with the oil - can help prevent, and can probably help with treatment (take that, judgemental medical assistant!).  But it's unlikely that just using TTO will get rid of infestation.  So, she couldn't be 100% sure because she didn't see what the church ladies saw, but probably ...

My kid didn't have lice, she had dandruff.

*Now that I've told the story, this post's title and first sentence may make a little more sense.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cookbooks and Tomato Coulis (i.e. Project Veg update)

Project Veg has still been going strong.  It's pretty much all I can do to get the food fixed and on the table, so I've been very lax about photo-ing, and post-ing, etc.  But I know that alot of other mamas had a positive reaction when I first started writing about Project Vegetarian, so I wanted to make sure and post an update.

I haven't been purchasing unprepared meat.  That's a line I drew early on.  If I'm in a particular mood, I will eat meat if it is prepared by someone else.  My kid loves chicken nuggets, so I have purchased frozen chicken nuggets that just need to be microwaved (I also by meatless ones).  But there has been very little raw meat in my house in recent months.  And I feel very good about that.

My friend Jenny, the guest poster who helped kick off Project Veg, who cooks vegan for her preschooler and husband, and has a new baby at home (and happens to be a personal hero) has turned me on to the key for Project Veg:

Good cookbooks.

The first good cookbooks is hers, despite the fact that it's been in MY kitchen for more than 6 months (she has a new baby, what does she notice?).  It is Better Then Peanut Butter & Jelly , and is an awesome cookbook for simple Vegetarian, and some Vegan, dinners for kids.  It has a great potato and leek casserole recipe, and several good recipes that use black beans.

The second good cookbook is mine, only because she gifted it to me for Christmas.  Probably because she didn't want me to keep her copy for months and months.  It is the The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.  And it. Is.  Awesome.  Words cannot describe how incredibly awesome this cookbook is.  Simple little dinners.  Fancy recipes for when you want to show off.  It has everything, and its all delicious.  Two of the recipes that I have tried so far I have actually made multiple times and incorporated into the kind of dishes that I can make off the top of my head.  I have quite a number of recipes in this book marked for trying, and that has inspired me to pursue local sources for food to try lots more of the recipes in this book.

So tonight I made, for the second time, a recipe that I now refer to as Tomato Coulis.  It's a very simple, minimal ingredients recipe.  It works for Sunday dinner (I made it last Sunday for my mom and dad) and for weeknight dinners (I made it tonight).  It's yummy with both the spices called for in the recipe, and the spices you can use to substitute when you realize you don't have that spice in your cabinet like you thought you did.

Chop some garlic.  Saute in some olive oil while you chop some tomatoes.  Lots of tomatoes.  Dump tomatoes, liquid, seeds, etc, into pan over garlic.  Add other spice (furst time I used basil plus a touch of marjoram, the recipe calls for thyme which I used tonight).  Simmer 20 minutes to reduce while you boil pasta and set the table.  Serve.

The real recipe (included below) calls for asparagus.  That could help make it super fancy.  It works well with some mushrooms, too.

It's similar enough to a regular spaghetti sauce that small ones might go for it.  The benefit versus using a bottled sauce is the lack of preservatives and knowing that you're sourcing local and making homemade.  You can control ingredients, you can control spices and flavors.  And you know you've simmered a little pot of good for your family.  I always thought that a homemade spaghetti sauce made with tomatoes would take forever to cook down.  This isn't really a sauce, per se.  Just cooked tomatoes and spices over pasta.  What could be simpler than that?

Well, if you must know ... NOT cooking a summer tomato dish would be simpler.  So that brings me to my favorite recipe from this book ... Bruschetta.

Chop two tomatoes, six black (or Kalamata) olives, some artichoke hearts.  Chop basil and italian parsley (both of which I'm now growing in my herb garden).  Spring with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper.  Rub a garlic clove on your bread, spread with the bruschetta.  Eat.

Heaven.  Oh, wait, open a bottle of white wine with it.  Now THAT's heaven.


Total copyright violations appear below this line.  Here are the two recipes from the book, in their entirety, as published.  Please consider purchasing a copy of the book so I don't get in too much trouble.  I don't think you'll regret it.  Love, me.

Linguine with Asparagus and Tomato Coulis

2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopper
3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled and chopped, all the juices included
1.5 T fresh thyme leaves or 1.5 t dried
0.5 t sugar, or to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 ounces pencil-thin asparagus, tough ends trimmed and discarded, tips trimmed from stalks, stalks cut diagonally into 2-inch lengths
16 ounces dry linguine (do not use fresh)
0.5 cup Nicoise or other good-quality black olives, pitted and chopped

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until just golden, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juices, thyme, sugar, salt, pepper, bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer gently uncovered, stirring occasionally until the mixture is reduced by one-third and sauce has thickened, 20 to 30 minutes.  Correct the seasonings, adding additional sugar to taste if the sauce tastes too acidic.

Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot filled with salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until almost al dente.  Add the asparagus and cook until the asparagus is tender and the pasta is al dente, 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain well and transfer to a large warm bowl.  Add the tomato coulis and the olives, if using, and toss well to combine.  Serve at once.

Bruschetta and Tomatoes, Black Olives, and Marinated Artichokes

1 medium ripe tomato, seeded and finely chopped
6 kalamata or other large good quality black olives
0.5 cup drained marinated artichoke hearts, finely chopped
1 T finely chopped fresh basil
1 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 T extra virgin olive oil
0.5 t red wine vinegar
salt, preferably course, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
about 6 0.5 inch thick pieces of italian bread, lightly toasted
1 large clove garlic, halve

Place the tomato, olives, artichokes, basil, parsley, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl, toss well to combine.  Set aside for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Rub the toasted side of the bread with the flat sides of the garlic halves.  Top each side evenly with the tomato mixture, using about 2 T per piece.  Serve at room temp.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mommie Productivity - The Wrap-Up

I started a series of posts at Our Mommyhood about being productive.  The first post explained an overall philosophy I use to try to stay organized and productive, and that is the idea of contexts.  By breaking your to-do list into contexts, you can better deal with what you need "to do" where you are, and not get overwhelmed by a long list.  The second post explained the tool I use for said to-do lists, an online program called Toodle-Do, which also has a free app I use on my phone.  The last post discussed ways to use a Calendar to stay organized. (Note, Google Calendar does now allow you to color code different appointments, as well as an overall color code for different calendars that you are viewing.  LOVE.)

This is the final post in the series on Mommie Productivity.  There are several other little tools that I use to help myself be productive, and get everything done in my little compartments of my life. None of these really warrant a post on their own, so I'll tie up the series with this little list of miscellaneous tools to help you get jump started, or keep you on track.

1. My phone. I used to carry my organizer with me everywhere. When I was single and childless, and a busy, hardworking Division Chair, that wasn't difficult to do. My work bag went with me everywhere, so my organizer was never far away. If I needed to schedule a drink with a friend, write down some ideas, jot a to-do, or something to look up online, it was usually within arms reach. Now, the diaper bag goes with me just about everywhere - except to work. I struggled for a long time with an organizer solution that was big enough for my essentials, but small enough to fit in the diaper bag. I found myself not carrying it nearly as much, and not having it when I needed it.

Around the same time, I was discovering the online to-do list. While you can print it out and take it with you, I would often not have it when I needed it, and not have access to the computer to pull it up. I needed my calendar and to-do list to have some portability. That's when I got my new smartphone.

Since Google created Android, it is very easy to get Google products on your phone, such as Gmail and Google calendar. I have even created a link to Google Documents so with one touch on my phone screen, I can see my monthly budget spreadsheet, or any other document I have saved. With the addition of the Toodle Droid app icon, I now have access to my tools simply by carrying around my phone - which I would be doing anyway.

Again, this part of the solution may not work for everyone who doesn't have access to a smartphone. In that case I recommend printing your weekly calendar and your to-do list periodically if you need to carry them with you. Or carry notecards or sticky notes, and make it a habit to add the items to your online tools once a day, or whenever you do your GTD processing (discussed in the first post).

2. A sticky note.  Not just any sticky note, but this one. Specifically, it says:

One thing at a time.
Most important thing first.
Start now.

I picked up that saying at 43 folders, a website devoted to personal productivity, particularly using the same tenants of Getting Things Done that we are discussing in these posts. So it's not original, by far. But it's a great reminder when your mind is going a mile a minute, when your adult ADD/mommy brain is in high gear and you can't get focused. You can only really be effective at one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. Psychological studies show that when you think you are multi-tasking, you are actually switching your attention back and forth quickly, not really focusing on multiple things. So pick the most important thing for you to focus on, work on it, and start immediately. Don't justify why it's the most important, or worry about something that is only slightly less important. Do one thing at a time, pick the most important thing for this moment, and get started.

It seems simple. But having it in front of you really does help.  When I come barrelling into my office first thing in the morning after dealing with chocolate milk and daycare and ... it helps to have a reminder.  What do I start with?  What should I work on?  I have a thousand things to do today.  Where is my to-do list?  Don't check email.  Don't just jump in.

One thing at a time.
Most important thing first.
Start now.

3. Baroque Period Classical Music. Yes, that sounds really strange as a productivity tool. There are some studies that show that the timing of the rhythm in Baroque music helps to entrain your brain for focus. This may be the basis for the Mozart effect - the theory that listening to Mozart makes you smarter. When trying to prove the effect, researchers found that what is actually happening is an increase in attention and focus.

It sounds really crazy, but it really seems to work. When I've come into my office rushed and harried, with a long to-do list and class in an hour, and I have several things to do but I can't seem to decide where to start, I have turned on some Baroque music, and it helps me to get calm and focus. When I use it in conjunction with the sticky note above, it almost seems magical how I can transform into a focused person, tackling a stack of papers to grade and starting to get things accomplished.

Pandora Radio offers free radio based on music genre. Pandora lets you judge individual songs, and can tailor the station to play more music that is similar to your preferences, and to play less music like the songs you tell it that you don't like. Over time, you can customize a station that plays soothing background music that will also help you with attention and focus. When I know I need to be focused and work, I start my Pandora station that I have labeled "Office Baroque". Perhaps it is just a placebo effect, but it helps me to start working in a more focused way.

Pandora also has a free app for my Android phone, so if I am home, or at the library, and want the same attention focusing effect, the same station is waiting for me wherever I go. I love it.

There are challenges. I'm a bit of a Covey-ite, in spite of professing my allegience to GTD in the first post. My most productive times are when I take the time for weekly planning. Taking a little time, usually on Sunday, to journal a bit, reflect on what has been working and what hasn't been working, what got accomplished and what is still in process, and what the priorities are for the week, help me to make sure I address everything that I need to. Covey suggests putting in the Big Rocks on your calendar - for me those are classes and bedtime routines. Neither are negotiable, and both occur routinely and at the same time each day. Once those are in place you can plan your week around them, making sure to look at your big picture goals and making sure you are doing something each week to advance toward them. That last step is key to personal growth, but is the step that tends to get lost when you plan day-to-day. Especially as a single mother to a toddler when I'm having trouble just keeping up with the laundry.

I haven't found a good solution to this step, and I am open to suggestions. Lately I have been doing this step on paper, which makes it difficult to fit into my technology described above. Perhaps I am too noncommittal to the plan to commit it to Google calendar, so I would need to address that issue. I have a printed schedule of the week - usually from Google calendar, so it already has the time-bound items listed. Then I draft - in pencil (noncommital, remember) - a framework of my week. This afternoon I'll write an exam, this afternoon I need to try to set appointments with students. It works well when I do it, and I always start Monday morning feeling more prepared and less panicked - and have less of a need for the sticky-note-and-music cocktail to calm myself down to get focused at work. I can't seem to figure out if it works so well, why I have a hard time doing it.

So I'm not perfect at it. I keep trying to do everything expected of me in the time I have to do it in. I've been late with a couple of obligations in the last couple of months, and my students were pretty annoyed at the grading time this semester. It's because I took on too much with the online graduate classes I'd been taking at the same time.  Now I'm busy getting summer online classes developed and helping with some department service that look good in the tenure notebook.  Just trying use my tools to get things done!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flats Challenge: Just Use Prefolds

So my overall conclusion to the Flats Challenge?  Just Use Prefolds.  There's a reason that mamas years ago switched from flats to prefolds.  I've been giving lots of commentary on my experience using flats, so I won't reiterate all of that.  What I want to use this post for is an analysis of the use of prefolds versus flats.

The initial motivation for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge was that some parents are letting their babies sit in disposables for many hours to save the number of diapers used/purchased, to save money.  The idea was that even parents trying to seriously pinch pennies could be successful cloth diapering by using flats and handwashing them.

My argument is that by using prefolds rather than flats, you still have the same capability of cloth diapering your child to save money, you are still able to handwash and hang-to-dry, but you don't have to endure the drawbacks of flat diapers.

A package of 10 flats would have cost me around $14.  I'm not taking into account the specials offered for mamas participating in this meme, since any other month of the year, those specials might not be available.  They wouldn't have been available to me when I was expecting.  I'm basing that price on what they cost at my local discount store, or what they would cost including shipping to order online.  I started the challenge with 30 flats but given that we had to change diapers hourly at times, I really needed about 40 flats to truly go three days between washing, which is my preferred schedule.

Meanwhile, when we use prefolds, I can get by with two dozen or less in three days.  I have a dozen GMD reds, I have a dozen cheap prefolds (not the polyfill stuffed ones, but the thin cotton ones.)  Total cost of those two dozen prefolds: $52.  Total cost of 40 flats? $52.

Econobum advertises that you can cloth diaper your baby for $99.  (That includes the covers, not mentioned in the cost analysis above, and includes prefolds that are thicker than the cheap prefolds mentioned, and not quite as thick, but softer, than the GMD reds.)  If I was a mama starting out with very little money to spend on diapers, I would ask for people to buy me Econobum packages and seconds and use that as the diaper stash.  The econobum line is definitely the way to go for quality prefolds and covers offered in packages.  If you're buying on your own, GMD and Little Lions prefolds are high quality, and Thirsties covers can't be beat.  It's hard to get that stuff as gifts when you have to buy from different place and buy them separately, though.

Handwashing and Hanging to Dry:
Part of the meme was to use flats because they are reportedly easy to hand wash and hang dry.  Some mamas might not have access to a convenient washer/dryer and might not want to wash cloth diapers at the laundromat.  Handwashing is a pain no matter what kind of diapers you are washing.  Personally, I would sink rinse and still bite it to get to washer some way, some how.  And that comes from years of apartment living with only a single washer to a building, or a laundromat as an option.  I will admit, the drying time for the flats was less than the drying time for the prefolds.  Its because they hold less moisture.  The cotton prefolds dried faster than the hemp prefolds.  Again, because they hold less moisture.  Just because flats dry easy does not make them the ideal diaper choice.

Fit and Absorbency:
Flats are thinner than prefolds.  That means covers designed for use with prefolds don't fit as well.  That means the diapers aren't nearly as absorbent.  That is supposed to mean that they will dry faster if you hand wash and hang to dry (see above).  So as a mama, you have to decide:  which is more important?  30 minutes of faster drying time?  Or not having to change a diaper every single hour of your day? 

Ease of Use:
They're tied here.  I used them both just folded up in a cover.  The prefold I trifolded and put in the cover.  The flat I folded twice lengthwise and laid in the cover, then folded the excess into a good spot to catch the pee when I fastened the cover.  That makes a few more folds for the flat, but I think you're getting too much into semantics there.  I'd call them matched, because they're both very easy to use in a cover.  Also, I think prefolds have won out in the other categories so I don't need to be that detailed to prove my point.

I think the meme was helpful to create awareness about cloth diapering as a viable option for lower income families.  I think the meme was helpful to point out ways that flat diapers can be used for certain ages of babies.  Personally, I don't see much of an advantage over prefolds - cost is similar, ease of use is similar, drying time may be better for flats, but you're diaper changing every hour because of the decreased absorbency.  If I was advising a penny-pinching mama, I'd tell her prefolds and covers all the way.

Handwashing and Flats Challenge - Day 2


Kid is 24 pounds.  Cover is a M Thirsties sized cover.  Flat diaper is bunched in the bottom.  Had been on about half hour.

- The flat diaper, even folded, is thinner than any other diaper we have, including just hemp inserts.  Therefore even the size M Thirsties cover seems big on my 2 year old with nothing in it but a flat.  The Flip cover worked better, mostly because I snapped it to a smaller setting than we normally use.  I wish my Econobum covers hadn't been misplaced - I bet those would be awesome to use with flats.  For now, my cover recommendation is a snap Flip. 

Much trimmer, and keeps the flat in place better.
The up side to the thinness is the trimmest looking fluffy bum on the planet.  The down side - see next.

- The first flat of the morning only lasted an hour.  Sure, the diapers are cheap, but it looks like we're in for a day of hourly changes, and that's going to get old fast.  Also is going to use twice as many diapers, so where is the cost savings?  We got up at 7 and at 8:05 she had pulled her diaper off and left it on her play ironing board chanting "wet, wet, I wet mommie". 

Pantless kid on right.  Wet diaper in cover on ironing board.  She was done with flats by this point.  It was 10 am.
Yes, this does bode well for potty training.  And no, I'm not one of those people that wants their kid to sit in the same diaper for hours at a time.  But when you're used to getting two hours out of a hemp prefold, one hour until soaking of a flat is annoying.  If you don't want leaks, you're going to have to change every hour.

- Later in the day, we went to our photographer so I could get a passport photo taken.  I was trying to watch the clock, knowing that her diaper wouldn't last the entire time we were there.  I always try to present cloth diapering in a positive light when I'm out in public.  I always try to set a positive example and let others know it is possible to use cloth diapers - even when "out and about" - with minimal hassle and fuss.  I couldn't do that if I were using flats all the time.  I could barely do it today when I was watching the clock and inconveniencing myself in the name of the flats challenge.  There's no way I could do that for 2+ years. 

I'm interested to see what the other mommies are writing about Day 2.  Maybe it's because my kid is no longer a newborn, but there are so many more quality, and still affordable, diapering options that are more reasonable to use.

The BFF's Birthday

Not my BFF, the Wee One's BFF.  Had a birthday at a local bouncy-party place.

It was a big hit, let me tell you.

Waiting in the lobby:

In one of the bouncy houses in the bouncy room:

And video:

All the BFFs had the same blue face!

Birthday Girl in the police car, My Girl in the other car.  I mentioned that running into a police car isn't a good idea.  General life lesson one should always teach their kids, no?

My kid LOVED the cars.

She did eventually leave the car for the slide.

Okay, so we had also received an invitation to the wedding of a close family friend.  I had hemmed and hawed about our attendance - I wasn't sure how we would feel after the BFF party, so I hadn't made any promises.  But we (by that I mean the Wee One) seemed like we were up for it, so away we went.

We changed clothes in the car into appropriate wedding attire:

What a day.  Happy Birthday to the Wee One's Best Friend.  Best wishes to the Happy Couple!  And I got to catch up on some sleep this morning!  Much to be thankful for!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Flats and Handwashing Challenge, Day 1

So, being a mommy blogger has its advantages.  I have made me some friends, yo.  One took me to Myrtle Beach, and one sent me a box full of diapers.

So I first posted that I was thinking about doing the flats challenge.  Then I did a post about why I wanted to join up, despite the fact that technically I'm not supposed to, because I have a job outside the home and pay someone lots of money to care for my child, so I'm grateful that they at least let us bring pocket diapers.  Sorry for yet another run-on sentence.

I was just going to buy a couple of packages of flats at some discount store, and then donate them when done.  Then Funky Mama Bird came through, to send me a box of 30 flats that she is no longer using.

So, I washed them.  I dried them.  I folded them.

Now what?  Am I using them?

Yesterday, I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  If I can't join the linky, what's the point?  If I don't meet the narrow minded requirements of the meme, why do it?

Because using cloth diapers makes me feel superior and smug.

There, I said it.

That's not totally accurate.  I do feel like I'm going something great for my kid.  I do feel like I'm doing something great for the environment.  Those are the reasons I began cloth diapering,  Those are the reasons I continue to cloth diaper.

So, I figured, I'd do it.

At 7:30 this morning, when I dressed my kid for daycare, I put a flat on her.  Correction: I put two flats on her.  I put two flats in a Thirsties cover, because I also put an adorable outfit on her, and I didn't want a leak to lead to a clothes change first thing after getting to daycare.  That's how much faith I had.  But I did, indeed, put flats in her diaper cover, and took her to daycare.

When the wetbag came home, I investigated.  Yes, as I took diapers out of the small daily wetbag and added them to the big weekly wetbag, I paid special attention to the diapers in the cover that I sent her to daycare in.

They were wet.  Pretty wet.  But the cover wasn't soaked, and her clothes hadn't needed changing.

The flats worked.  Despite 8 ounces of chocolate milk in the car (what, she doesn't eat, she needs some kind of calcium), despite what little breakfast they report that she ate, the flats held the pee, the diaper didn't leak.

Wow.  Hmm.  Flats might work.

When she came home, I changed her into a flat in a Flip cover.  Observation: wow, that's the smallest "fluffy bum" I've seen in a while.  That diaper only stayed on about half an hour, before a hysterical meltdown occurred because "I poop".  (She hates poop now.  Good for potty training!!)

Another flat in the Flip cover.  Hey, I think I can do this Flats thing.  That one was slightly wet when we got ready for bath and bedtime.

Bedtime diaper is a Thirsties hemp insert (pre-Duo style) with a bamboo/zorb insert, wrapped in a flat, in a Thirsties cover (because nighttime needs leg gussets, amIright?).  So we'll see how nighttime goes.

I decided to pass on washing diapers tonight, and do a larger batch tomorrow.  I'm home with her all day tomorrow, so there will be plenty to report on, and plenty to wash, tomorrow evening.

So far, thumbs up for flats.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thoughts on Flats

Tomorrow morning is supposed to start the Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  I'm still really trying to decide if I'm participating.  I mean, I've been totally getting ready, as if I'm totally going to do this.  But then this evening I realized ... I have misgivings.

Maybe this is healthy.  Maybe this is all going to be dispelled by actually, you know, USING the flats we have been gifted.  Which is why I'm chosing to write this post.  Expressing these thoughts is a good idea, I realized tonight as I'm pulling these diapers out of the dryer and STILL wondering what diaper, exactly, am I going to put on her when she wakes up in the morning.


Are these diapers going to actually, you know, work?  I'm concerned about absorbency.  My little one is 2 now, and is getting into potty training.  She saves up her pee and seems to let go of it all at once (which is a sign of potty readiness).  If she'd been a newborn, or some number of months old less than 18, I think I'd have less reservation about this.  Perhaps flats is a great idea for new parents, but is it so great for older (or bigger) babies?  (I guess we'll find out!)

Why 5 covers?  Why not 4, or 6?  Any why not limit the number of wetbags, since that can be an even bigger expense than covers?  As I hung my $28 WAHM-made wetbag on the back of the bathroom door this evening, I thought "you know, if a mama can only afford birdseye flats, she can't afford this wetbag".  Why isn't that included in the meme?

I have to admit, one of my stumbling blocks is the issue about what mamas can participate in the meme.  You're only supposed to link up and do the survey if you do the flats challenge full time.  Out of 8 days of the challenge, my kid will be in daycare 3 of those days.  Meaning pockets (still cloth diapers!) instead of flats.  But also meaning ... I'm not supposed to participate.  It's apparently a SAHM meme, and those of us with professions that require us to obtain care for our children to bring home a paycheck are not welcome to link up.  Even if its only 3 of the 8 days.

The survey, I can totally understand.  When one is doing any kind of research project, one usually wants to gather data from a specific population.  I have no intention of corrupting the data pool by participating in the research project if I can't fully comply with the requirements by the researchers (even if said researcher is a mom with a blog who knows nothing about IRBs,use of human subjects, informed consent, or scientific method).  I never had any intention of completing the survey if I didn't participate fully in the project.

But the linky?

So you think all mamas that are thinking about using flats as cloth diapers don't use daycare?  You think all mamas that are expecting, and broke, and wondering how they're going to use their limited resources, just sit at home all day and have the full capability to use flats every diaper change?  What if they don't fit that profile?  What if they're looking for a mama more like them?  What if they don't care how the SAHM's use flats, what if they want to know how it worked for a mama whose kid is in daycare 3 days a week?  What if the details like "flats work great, so only get 12 pockets to deal with daycare days" is a helpful bit of information for them?

So apparently, this has hit a hot button for me.  It's totally not that big of a deal.  It's just annoying.

Another thought: I really love prefolds.  It's not that expensive to build your stash in prefolds.  You're still doing cotton diapers and covers.  You can still hand wash and hang to dry.  You can still save money (unless you go hemp, which are the prefolds I prefer).  I actually look forward to days that I'm home with my kid if all our prefolds are clean and folded and ready to go.  I used prefolds on her exclusively from 6 weeks to 4 months when we started daycare.  So I'd be doing this flats challenge that I can't link up to, rather than just using our hemp prefolds that I love so much.

I still don't know what I'm doing in the morning.  Tomorrow is a daycare day.  I could put a flat and cover on her in the morning, and take pockets as usual.  Or I could just start on Tuesday when I'm home with her.  I haven't decided on covers, since I have 6 in my normal rotation (which one doesn't get used?).

But I did receive a wonderful care package of flats from Funky Mama Bird that I really would like to use.  I did bring detergents up from the laundry room to the kitchen, since I'll be handwashing in the kitchen sink.  I have considered how the challenge will add to my view of cloth diapering, so I'm excited about trying flats.  I'm just not sure I'm going all in for the challenge. 

I'll let you know in the morning.

Color Days (Updated)

(updated, now includes Rainbow Day)
Right after we came back from vacation, Wee One got moved up to the Two's II room.  Not too long after that, a newsletter came home describing the upcoming project to teach colors.  Each week would have a respective color.  On Wednesday of that week, she was supposed to bring in a magazine photo featuring the color.  Then on Thursday, she should come to daycare dressed in or wearing the color.

Thankfully, they provided a handy reminder that Mommie could hang on the fridge.

The first week was Red.  I was so freaking giddy that I got her to school with all her red on, that I didn't take a photo.

The second week was Green.  See this post for lots of photos of her in her Green.

So this post will show you the rest ....



That was the week of Wee One's birthday.  So Mommie took cupcakes for snack to celebrate.  Brightly colored cupcakes.  On White Day.  I'm sure the other parents were thrilled with that.



Um ... apparently I missed this day too.  I seem to have no photo of my kid on yellow day.  Let me check my phone ...  Nope. Missed it.


Brown: (was the day of the Derby parade, so many other shots can be seen in this post).



This is what "Don't play in Mommie's garden" means, apparently"
Next week is Rainbow.  Then I'll no longer have a guide for what to Wear on Thursdays.  'Sok, she won't be going to daycare on Thursdays over the summer anyway!!!