Friday, February 28, 2014

//7 Q U I C K T A K E S//

As a part of my 7 posts in 7 days I decided to give 7 quick takes a try.


Johnny's been working on crawling lately.  He mostly only goes backwards. Yesterday while belly-scooting in reverse he figured out a new way to enjoy his play-gym.

He seemed pretty pleased with himself and stayed under there for about 15 minutes!    


Lent starts on Wednesday and this year, like the past couple of years, I will be giving up TV. It's the thing I want to give up least so that means it's the thing that I definitely should give up.  It's hard, but I see the fruit of that discipline almost instantly.  I get more done around the house. I take up other pastimes, like reading! Alex and I have more conversation when he's home in the evenings. (Yeah, my hubby gets roped into my sacrifices.) Then when lent is over I am able to be more temperate about my TV intake, for a while. Good thing lent comes around every year! Anyway, all this means that I have only 4 days to finish the last season of Friday Night Lights on Netflicks.  Can it be done? Absolutely. 


 I would like to do an entire post entitled "Things I've learned from Downton Abbey"  with all the good house keeping tips I picked up from the downstairs folks on that show. But the only thing I can actually think of (besides all the witty quips from the dowager countess) is this:  drop the cushions on the floor to fluff them up. (Anna to Ethel, season 2 episode 1.) (I tried to find a youtube clip of it but couldn't.) I do this all the time with my super squishy pillow that gets all the feathers stuck at one end. It's brilliant!


Tomorrow is March 1. That means I've kept my New Years resolution of not shopping for myself for two months now. I've done shopping fasts before but I think the longest I've gone is 6 months. I bought a very on-sale pair of pants for Johnny. But that's totally not shopping for myself. 


 Alex got an A on his first o-chem test of the semester. Great job honey! It's so hard to find the balance between having family time/me getting a little break when he is home in the evenings and making sure he gets enough studying done. And then when he is studying Johnny is always making either happy or sad sounds (very loudly) to distract him.  I often feel like we are keeping him from getting enough done.  So it's good to see that he is doing well in spite of us. 


 I saw this video floating around Facebook a few months ago and I can't stop thinking about it. 


Johnny and I went to Whole Foods this week to pick up some Peace Coffee.  We usually do most of our shopping at Aldi, so on the rare occasion we go to a fancy grocery store like Whole Foods it's like a mini vacation.  There's so many interesting things to look at.  There's samples.  They bag your groceries for you! And oddly enough the staff there are so much more pleasant than at Aldi.  I made it out with only a couple of impulse buys.  Essential oils for my sugar scrub, and this flower to help me at least pretend that spring is coming.

For more quick takes visit Conversion Diary

Thursday, February 27, 2014

C O C O N U T O I L~ S U G A R S C R U B

I think everyone in the mid-west can agree that this has been one of the Worst Winters Ever.  Tons of snow and record lows. I know we have all had enough, enough of being cooped up, enough of the terrible roads, and if you're like me, enough of the dry skin and chapped lips.

Over Christmas I made a whipped coconut oil body butter to give as gifts. You can find tons of recipes for something like that on Pinterest. It's great, and I love it as a moisturizer. But the other day I was thinking that I would love it even more in the form of an exfoliant to combat my chronic chapped lips. And so I give you:

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

You will need:
coconut oil
vitamin E oil (if you want)
your favorite essential oil (also if you want)
A stand mixer with whisk attachment (I've read that it doesn't work as well with a hand mixer. Don't have a stand mixer but still want to make it? Come over and use mine!) 

We got our coconut oil at Costco.  Alex is very interested in coconut oil and did a lot of looking into who has the best deals on it and Costco came in #1. I found vitamin E oil and Trader Joe's and whole foods has a great selection of essential oils. 

To make the sugar scrub just put equals parts coconut oil and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer along with a 1/2 teaspoon of vitamin E oil and several drops of your favorite essential oil (I used sweet orange). Just note that the coconut oil should be solid when you start out, if its liquid it will not whip. My kitchen is freezing in the winter so my coconut oil was rock hard and took forever to chip out, but it whipped up great!

Beat on high with the whisk attachment until it looks like cream cheese frosting. About 5 minutes.

Then put in a mason jar or some other container. Use your hands to clean out the bowl of the stand mixer for a little sample of what you're about to enjoy! Also, you may have figured this out, but if you'd rather make the body butter just leave out the sugar.  Super easy! Super nice!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

// M O M C O N F E S S I O N V O L 3 //

After I posted my last mom confession I received so much encouragement that I was so normal for feeling frustrated at times. And also encouragement to take a break whenever I could get one, and to not feel guilty for wanting and taking a little "me time". I've realized that I do feel guilty when I take time to myself, or when I go out without Johnny, because he's literally such a big part of me. To almost quote Jim Gaffigan: I grew him in my body, I delivered him with my body and I feed him with my body. For the 9 months he was inside me he relied on me 100% for everything, and for the 9 months he's been out here it's been almost the same story. I'm sure some of the "guilt" I feel is just hormones, but I think that it's a real thing for moms to feel like they can't or shouldn't leave their babies.

(Just a little aside: I don't want to give the impression that I want to get away from Johnny.  I like being with him. A lot. I knew what I was signing up for when I became pregnant and being a mom is the best job that I have had to date.)

But Johnny is getting bigger now, and though he still refuses to take a bottle he does really well with Alex. So I've decided I need to do a little self-care once a week to stay fresh and rested. It's like when you fly on a plane and the flight attendants are telling you what to do if the cabin loses pressure and the oxygen masks come shooting out. You get your own mask securely in place before you go help someone else. You need to breath, or you're no good to anyone. I need to breath, to be a better mom and a better wife. 

So once a week I am going to do something on my own. Last week it was as simple as going in a different room, putting on head phones, and knitting uninterrupted for one hour. This week my self-care took the form of meeting a friend at the Liffey for a big ginger. A little self care can go a long way. When I am done I always feel more than ready to meet the needs of my family.

What about you, other mamas out there? What do you do to stay fresh and sane so that you can continue to be a great mother? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

T H E /B E A S T/ C A L L E D/ S L E E P

If you are a parent you know that one of the most fascinating subjects on earth is your child's sleep patterns. (Or lack thereof).  If all goes well, it can make the day, but more often it breaks the day. Alex and I have had entire phone conversations just about Johnny's sleep. And now I'm doing an entire blog post about Johnny's sleep.

I know that sleep and sleep training methods are hot button topics. I think you just have to do what works best for you and your baby.  I didn't intend to co-sleep, but co-sleeping just made sense. (If you are interested in co-sleeping but feel uneasy about it, Dr. Sears' safe co-sleeping tips were really helpful for me.) I also never intended to do any sort of sleep training. I thought if we let Johnny lead the way, everything would just fall into place. But now, to a degree, we are doing some sleep training. It's was needed to be done

When Johnny was a brand new infant and we were just home from the hospital I really felt like co-sleeping helped us make up for all the hours Johnny was confined to an incubator. And being able to nurse him so easily helped all three of us to get more sleep at night. When Johnny was around 4 months old he started sleeping longer stretches through the night, only waking up once or twice to eat. That was co-sleeping heaven,  I had my baby near me and still felt well rested in the morning. Then around six month, when he started getting some major teeth and started sitting up, he started waking up more and more.  The past month he has been waking up almost every hour.  I have been so sleep deprived I knew something had to change.

Last week we started working on transferring Johnny to his crib.  I've been putting him in his crib for naps for  a while now, knowing that some day we would be making the switch. It's been hard to get him used to it, but it's been harder to get me used to it. I love co-sleeping with him, even though it can be hard.  It's really special to do some much snuggling and it gives me a peace of mind to have him so close. I wasn't planning on transitioning him to his crib until he was a year old, but I know that now is the right time.

I have often felt how blessed I am to have had 6 of my friends have babies the same year I had Johnny.  I always have someone who is going through, or has just gone through, the same developmental stage Johnny is going through. There's always someone to commiserate with, and to share ideas with. Last week a friend was telling me about her strategy to get her baby into his crib, and it was just the push I needed.

That night Alex and I decided we would start Johnny in his crib when it was bedtime, and try to keep him in there for 2 hours before coming into our bed.  The plan being that if he woke up during those two hours Alex would go in and soothe him back to sleep. We want to slowly teach him to fall asleep without nursing. Well, Johnny slept for 3 HOURS STRAIGHT! He hasn't done that in bed with us for months! And he has done that every night since we started this. Sometimes after that first stretch of sleep I feed him and put him back in his crib and he'll do another 3 hours. Sometimes we bring him back into bed with us, and then we wakes up more often.

It's hard for me to not have him in bed.  I wake up often and have to check to make sure he's ok before I can go back to sleep. But I'm thankful that it has been so apparent that he's sleeping better by himself, otherwise this transition would be much harder.

This is what's been working for us.  What's been working for you?

Monday, February 24, 2014

C L O T H D I A P E R S: H O W & W H Y

I was inspired by Jacqui over at Mexican Domestic Goddess to share our take on cloth diapering. If you really want to know about cloth diapering you should definitely check out her post because most of what I know I learned from her. Some people are very good at researching things and finding out all there is to know.  That's Jacqui. Other people are good at letting their friends do the research and then learning from them. That's me!

First off, let me tell you why we chose to cloth diaper.  The first reason is that it is very cost effective.  You'll have to spend more money up front but in the long run they are much cheaper than disposable diapers. And if you plan ahead and put them on a baby registry then other people will buy them for you.  Or be like Johnny and ask for them for Christmas! 

The second reason we cloth diaper is a part of a larger desire to live simply, cut down on waste and buy only what we need.  It's the same reason we don't want Johnny to have a lot of toys. Just a few intentionally picked, good quality toys that all fit in one bin. It's the same reason my new years resolution is to to do no clothing shopping during 2014. Live simply, live intentionally. Yes, cloth diapers take more time and work, but I believe that faster and easier is often not better. I like the idea of working with my hands. And in the warmer weather when I hang the diapers out on the clothes line I like to think that I am connecting with women from past generations.

The third reason is that the cloth diapers of today are super duper cute! And who doesn't want to see a cute baby in a cute diaper?

Clothes diapers generally fall into two categories: all-in-ones and covers and liners.  We do a combination of both. An all-in-one is exactly what is sounds like, it's all one piece, and can only be used once before washing.  They are very easy to use, but tend to be kind of expensive.   The bumGenius Freetime diaper is the best diaper we have ever used.  Hands down.  At $20 a pop we can't afford to use them for every diaper change.  We purchased 4 on our own, and Johnny got a bunch for Christmas. We use them for over night (yes, one diaper lasts the whole night) or if we are out and about and don't want to have to change diapers as often.  

We also have some Thirsties all-in-ones that are not as good as the bumGenius, but they're nice to have on hand for babysitters who may not feel quite adept at finagling a cover and liner. 

Speaking of covers and liners, these are ours:

We use Thirsties Duo Wrap covers, which, unlike their sister all-in-ones, are great. I don't remember the last time Johnny had a leak in one of them. For liners we just use a basic pre-fold. We have gotten all of our all-in-ones off of Amazon. I know that a lot of people like Green Mountain Diapers. Peapods in Como Park also has a lot of cloth diapering gear as well as a weekly information session on going cloth. They carry used diapers too, and that's where we got all our pre-folds.  It sounds kind of gross to buy used diapers, but they've been professionally cleaned, they don't require any breaking in (new ones would) and they're cheap, I think I paid about $15 for a dozen. 

This is how we do liners and covers.  

Then you just button them up! 

We have five covers.  We use two a day, switching back and forth and letting them dry between uses, unless they get reeeally dirty, then it goes in the wet bag. We have a couple of Planetwise wet bags that we keep in the bathroom (plus a small one for in the diaper bag) and when a bag fills up we go dump it in the washing machine.  First a rinse cycle, then a wash on hot, we put vinegar in as a fabric softener. I'm currently in the market for a good free and clear detergent that won't break the bank. Any suggestions?

Our cloth diapering has changed a little bit since Johnny has had his colostomy taken down.  While he had his ostomy bag we were only changing wet diapers, so our beginning with cloth diapers was pretty easy. We didn't have to worry about diaper rash at all and all the reusable wipes we had bought largely went unused. For a while though, we didn't think cloth diapering would be compatible with an ostomy bag. The NICU nurses taught us the empty the bag into Johnny's diapers a few times a day.  When we made the switch to cloth we couldn't figure out where we were going to dump the poop.  It made no sense to wash poopy diapers when we could just be washing wet ones. For a while we saved a stash of disposable diapers specifically for emptying Johnny's bag, but eventually we just started holding him over the toilet and flushing it all away. 

We also thought for a while that the cloth diapers were pushing on the seal of Johnny's ostomy bag, causing leaks.  We had so many bag leaks around the time we started using cloth.  We tried putting the bag on at different angles, and tucking it into his diaper instead of having it stick out on top.  In the end I think that's what helped the most. 

Now the ostomy is gone, and all our diapers, once so white and pristine, are well used and stained.  Because of Johnny's very frequent poops we're going through more diapers and I've been washing a load of them often every day. His diaper rash has presented some problems, as diaper rash creams can cause fabric to become repellent. Especially the bumGenius' which are microfiber. At the recommendation of my cloth diaper guru I purchased some simple fleece liners, also made by bumGenius, to put on top of the all-in-ones to catch all the diaper cream and save the diapers.  It has been a difficult adjustment, but I prefer this much more to changing ostomy bags! 

Speaking of diaper rash creams, we know a lot about those now! So if you ever are looking for a good one this one is my favorite, and this one is a close second. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

7 P O S T S, 7 D A Y S

Life has been busy, not with any big stuff but with all the little stuff; figuring out dinner, teaching, trying to get Johnny to nap (that's a big one actually), washing the multitudes of dirty diapers Johnny has been producing. As you know Alex works full time while going back to school so evenings are a balance of family time and staying out of his hair so he can get a little studying done. My little goals or projects are things I work on after Johnny has gone to sleep or on the weekends when Alex is home. That's when blogging happens.

While blogging is something that I value as a good way to exchange ideas and experiences with other people, it falls pretty low on my priority list.  I like to do it. It gives me a sense that I have done something, contributed to society a little, or even just given someone a few moments of entertainment. But it's easy to put an idea off, feel like it's not interesting enough, and then weeks go by and I have written nothing.

Then today happened.  I logged into my blogger account to maybe write a post about something that I have been thinking about for a couple weeks when I saw a challenge that Jen over at Conversion Diary posted.  7 blog posts in 7 days, Monday February 24 to Sunday March 2. I saw it, I got excited (and a little nervous) and I decided to do it! So, for better of for worse, you'll be seeing a lot of me in your feed this week. Follow along, be entertained, and if you have a blog, join the fun!!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

//M O M C O N F E S S I O N V O L 2 //

Friday night: I am currently holed up in the bedroom with ice cream, a glass of wine, my knitting, and this song. I have finally taken Alex up on his offer to be in charge of Johnny so I can have some "alone time." It's 9:45 pm and the little man is showing no signs of giving up and going to sleep. And this is after a rotten night of sleep last night and only an hour and forty-five minutes of napping today. I thought babies needed sleep. Why doesn't mine sleep? I sleep almost the same amount of time he sleeps and I'm exhausted! 

My "alone time" was preceded by me stomping my feet and throwing diapers because Johnny had a diaper leak 30 minutes after getting a clean diaper AND fresh clean pajamas. Since Johnny's take-down procedure he has been pooping A-LOT. Which is good and awesome! And which they warned us would be the case for the first few weeks. But it's a lot of poopy diapers. Like, every hour I change a poopy diaper. And he has diaper rash,(we were also warned this would happen) so he cries through every diaper change. We also had a polar vortex this week followed by a snow emergency. Those things combined with getting back into my teaching routine, Alex in class again, and me not wanting to change a billion poopy diapers in public, Johnny and I have not left the house since Sunday. And that dirty diaper all over clean pajamas was the straw that broke this cooped up mama's back. 

So I am having "alone time".  I use scare quotes because my alone time isn't really alone time. I can hear Johnny down the hall squawking and fussing.  And if I can't hear him then I'm wondering why I can't hear him.  Is he ok? Is he sleeping? If he's sleeping he should be in bed with me. This is one of the strange and beautiful things about motherhood that I have discovered, at least for me. (Other moms can please tell me if they discovered this is true about them.) When I'm with my baby I get tired and need a break, but then when I'm not with my baby I feel anxious and just want to be with him again. I can't shut off being a mom to take a break. If Alex takes Johnny during the night (which is super nice of him) I can't fall asleep if I hear my baby crying in next room. I don't know if it's hormones, or a motherly instinct, or if it's just my naturally anxious personality. But there is no winning.

Anyway, I think the moral of this story is: polar vortex or not, don't stay inside for a whole week.

Honestly, how could I get frustrated with a face like that?

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