Thursday, October 25, 2012

Silence is Suspicious

So the other day I was in the office working hard on various things for my store while the two youngest slept.  Time is super precious these days because the baby is a bit congested so extended naps are not common.  In the mean time, the girls were playing so nicely with each other.  I love hearing their stories of pony adventures and daring rescues.  So play time that day was no more unusual than any other.  

As I was hard at work, my mommy sense began tingling.  (Some days I really do believe mommies are super heroes because of our ability to know that something is going down.)  My 4 year old was running back and forth from the kitchen to the play corner (not very unusual) except for the fact that she was doing it as quietly as possible.  Then I heard whispering.  Clue #2 that something was going down.   

It was then that I questioned if I really wanted to investigate (after all time was ticking down to when the boys were going to wake up).  I walk out to see the ever so sheepish grins on their faces and white flaky stuff all over the floor and toy boxes in the play corner.  

With my frustrations quickly rising, I simply asked, "What are you doing?" To which my 4 year old replied, "We're making snow!"  *sigh*  From the vent in the floor, flakes of Gerber baby oatmeal fluttered down to the carpet.  Snow, they wanted to make snow.  My 4 year old has been asking about winter for weeks now.  She has been so excited about snow coming.  I guess she just couldn't wait any longer.  

It was inevitable, I now had to take more time (30 minutes to be exact because I had to pick up toys and move everything around) to vacuum the floor and toy boxes of all the flakes.  And of course when you vacuum, you can't just stop at that one area.  Nope, the whole floor has to be done which in our house includes the living room and dining room.  When all was said and done, the house looked good, the toy corner was re-arranged, and the "snow" has been cleared.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Followed My Nose

I'm tired today, super tired.  There is so much work that needs to be done in this house.  I just can't seem to get myself up and going to get it all done.  I have managed about 3 times to pick up the floor to vacuum. 

During my process, I was straightening up and putting away the numerous items that were on the washer/dryer in the kitchen.  (No there is no logical order to my cleaning).  I pack some items into a Wal-Mart sack to take to my mothers and set it on the dinning room table.  "Mmm," I thought, "that smells good.  It smells like The Laundry Tarts detergent.  I guess I should go put it aw.a......" And it hits me.  There is nothing to put away because I did that a week ago!  Quickly I follow my nose and there on the floor in front of the diaper pail is my little 2 year old happily sprinkling the Root Beer scented Bon Bon Shaker all over himself and the carpet.  

Naturally, as soon as my eyes beheld the scene I wanted to growl at him because vacuuming is now inevitable, but first I must once again pick up all the toys which were tossed out of the toy box.  Reason quickly took hold and I first grabbed the camera to capture the incident.  His response upon locking eyes with me?  "No No?"  *sigh* "Yes son, no no."  

This was not the first Bon Bon Shaker incident.  A few days ago it was being liberally sprinkled all over himself while sitting on the piano with his 3 year old sister.  

I had just received my Bon Bon Shaker to test it out to see if I want to sell it in my store.  I knew it was an all natural product, but the mommy in me wanted to be sure that it wasn't toxic.  To the glorious Facebook community I go seeking out my answers.  My initial assumption was correct in that in fact, it is not toxic.  However, a couple fellow Laundry Tart retailers spoke of other ways people have used the Bon Bon Shaker.  This spurred on the idea of 101 Uses of the Bon Bon Shaker.  

So here you go, use #1 carpet deodorizer.         

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Washer Maintenance Revisited

Awhile back I did a little write up about cleaning your washing machine and the importance of washer maintenance.  Okay, well it really wasn't an actual write up about how to do it, but rather my thoughts on it.  I did, however, link to some great blogs about how to do it.  So if you are interested you can look into them yourself.  

Anyway, since that post, I have come into possession of a new washer and dryer.  Once again, I love my machines.  The only draw back is that with their incredible gigantic load capacity, I feel like I can never keep up on folding the laundry.  Washing laundry, no problem; folding laundry, Mount Washmore cascading in my living room.  

Okay, so my point of this post is to inform all of you who were waiting on pins and needles that I did indeed invest in Affresh and have been using it clean my washing machine.  I'm all about promoting products I believe in (thus my ownership of a cloth diaper/baby boutique store), and Affresh is definitely one that I believe in.

I've been trying hard to stay on top of cleaning my washer.  I like to do it once a month at the beginning of the month.  I do this because I know there is a lot if ickiness that runs through my machine.  And with it being a FL HE machine, I know there is not a lot of water running through it, so buildup is going to happen.  Fortunately, my machines are a new model so I do have a very convenient setting "Clean Washer with Affresh" (Whirlpool isn't bashful in product promotion either).  I simply toss in the cleaning disc, set machine and press Start.  In just over an hour the machine is clean.  Easy peasy.  

If you don't have that function, simply toss in the machine, set on "Normal" and hot water and ba-bam, off you go. 

Now there is a blog maybe it was even from Pintrest which went over how to use bleach and/or vinegar to clean you machine.  I had it bookmarked at one point in time, but with the death of my previous computer I no longer have it marked.  So, I'm sure if you set out to find something of the sort, you can come across some great blogs explaining how to clean your machine if you don't want to buy Affresh.  Personally, with as simple as throwing in a tab of Affresh can be, I'll be happy to bypass the various steps of using bleach.     

Friday, October 12, 2012

Motherhood and Stress

I just came across a great article by one of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Fulwiler.  As moms I think many times we put undue stress upon ourselves because of our own expectations of what we think is right for our family.  I know I do this many times.  

As a single woman in college, I used to thrive on stress and deadlines.  It pushed me.  I felt in control because I was goal oriented.  A mere 14 months after graduating college I became a mother and my whole world went into a tail spin.  What is it about motherhood that can make a person so stressed?  Then a short 11 years later we have 6 children move to a new town and I start up a home business.  

Stress/chaos and I are NOT good bed fellows anymore.  It has become so hard to integrate the needs/wants of the kids into my own "schedule".  The oldest two are now at an age that they are trying out various activities on top of assigned homework.  I never realized before how much involvement was required of me for my school aged children.  Now my two middle children are in preschool and the parent notes abound.  They need this, they will need that..... *whew* My head spins.

Okay, so where am I going with this?  It's a common theme in some group discussions I have been having.  There comes a time when you have stop, step back and take a good, honest and hard look at what is going on around you.  And in that moment, you have to find an inner peace and quiet.  I call this "Me Time".  Some moms will say that it's not necessary, but I think it is when something is stressing you out every day.  

Jennifer Fulwiler's article 6 Simple Tips For When You're Utterly Overwhelmed gives some great ideas for how to re-group and re-fresh from stress.  Now you will notice that it is coming from a Christian/religious perspective, but I feel that anyone (religious or not) can glean something from Jennifer's insights.  

The tip that hits home the biggest is #2:  Ruthlessly make time to get away.  Wow, this is so hard to do on a daily basis.  I totally have the, "Pray continuously" down pat because I am constantly having "conversations" with God, but I know that it is a one way conversation.  I can't hear what He has to say if I am constantly on the go or holed up in my office typing away.  

So as I prepare to get my day started (which started off in chaos already because I over slept and didn't get the kids up until 8:10 and school starts at 8:20) I have to remember to keep a tight hold on the reigns so that I can stop and refuel to ease the load of any stress that may come my way. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting Back Into It.

Whew, so I've been working my tail off trying to transfer my site to a new host that I have totally put the blog on the back burner.  Thankfully in this world of modern technology there are about a thousand other great blogs to occupy your time with.  After all, I know you have been waiting on pins and needles to see the next literary masterpiece that I am going to write.  

I don't know about some of you, but this summer totally zipped right by me leaving me in the dust.  Every day was filled with good intentions.  

So with that said, I look forward to the new winter season coming.  There is something so delightful about watching children exploring the outdoors when several inches of snow has hit the ground and has transformed their world into something completely new.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Heat and PUL Are Not Best Friends.

I spend a good portion of my day asking my 2 year old silly questions like, "Why did you hit the baby?  Why are you pushing those buttons? or What is your fascination with the light switch?"  and I have come to the conclusion that it is because he simply wants to see what is going to happen.  He's inquisitive.  I can't fault him for that, after all he is only 2.  So what is  my excuse?  Well, like mother like son I guess.  There are just some things I just gotta know. 

So long!  It was a good 10 years knowing you!
What does this have to do with diapers you ask?  I'll tell you.  Remember my blog A Lesson Learned  where I talked about not using the dryer because of de-lamination?  Well, I apparently have not learned my lesson yet.  Back in May when I was in the hospital giving birth to our 6th child, my mother was watching our kids.  While she was there and keeping up on my laundry, my washer died.  *great*  Out with the old and in with the new washer and dryer.  I was thrilled.  Even though I had finally worked out a perfect washing routine for our diapers, I was not happy with how much time and cycles it took.  

Laundry day hit and I stuck with what I knew:  cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse.  You know, for a while this was great, but I knew there had to be a more efficient way to wash without having to run the machines so many times.  After all these are brand new machines!  So my husband and I took a look at what we had and decided to test out the steam functions.  When we were looking at machines to buy, the sales man said that seam is helpful for releasing stains.  And as we all know in the cloth diapering world, heat helps kill stinky bacteria, so we figured why not, let's try it out.  

So on my machine, we have the Deep Clean with Steam button.  I toss everything in, set the machine to hot with detergent, no bleach, and the Deep Clean button on.  This seemed to work for a few weeks.  It made it about a 2 hour cycle, but that was okay as long as my diapers were getting clean.  I was pretty stoked that we were finding a way to clean the diapers in one cycle.  Well then my husband showed me the Steam Sanitize selection on the water temperature.  So then we started to use that as well.  This bumped the cycle up to almost 3 hours.  In my quest for clean diapers, I began thinking what kind of effect this was going to have on the elastic and PUL.  Inquisitive minds want to know!!  

Now, granted many of my diapers have been with us for over a year so I think the extreme heat was the last straw for some of my diapers.  Most of the elastic on my diapers are pretty much stretched out.  Unfortunately I have no sewing capabilities so for the Bum Gneius 4.0s in my stash once they are all stretched out I will have to retire them.  My FuzziBunz one size are still in the rotation for my almost 2 year old son and those are easily fixable with the extra elastic that they provide.  *I just want to say the old style FuzziBunz one size are my all time favorite diaper.*  There are others in the stash that still have some life in them, but not for long.  I really don't think that the heat has changed the elastic in any way.

The PUL is a different story.  Steam Clean and Sanitize really speeds up the aging on the PUL.  Some of the results are the same; you will see in my pictures the holes or splits in the PUL and others show where the PUL has peeled off.  

I have 5 diapers which I have kept although I had many show signs of de-lamination.  Unfortunately I threw the others away before realizing that they would make for good examples of what de-lamination looks like.  So here we have (top) FuzziBunz Perfect Size and a BumGenius 4.0, (bottom) BumGenius 3.0 AIO, Bummis Super Lite Diaper Wrap, Blueberry pocket.

The FuzziBunz Perfect Size totally peeled off.  It looks like a big bubble between the PUL and the purple material.  I have two others of these diapers and they are still in good condition.  I bought these December 2010 (not bad huh?).  

This is the BG 4.0 bought in October 2010.  The first picture the material is relaxed and not stretched.  It just looks like a used diaper.    
 Here I stretched out the material.  See the holes?  They look like vertical cracks in the PUL. 
 A closer look at the holes.  You can see right through them!
Here we have the BG 3.0 AIO which I used only as a nighttime diaper for two of my kids.  I would stuff it with a Thirsties Hemp Prefold or a Thirsties Hemp Insert.  I bought these in January of 2011.  The first picture the material is setting at rest.  You can see the speckled look.  There is a discoloration to it.  This is how I noticed that it had de-laminated.  

 Here the cover is stretched out.  You can see how it seems to have just melted off. 

This red cover is my Bummis Super Lite Diaper Wrap bought in March 2011.  I was very sad when I noticed the PUL had cracked.  I loved this cover.  This is one I had found in the dryer.  It's kind of hard to tell, but the holes are in the middle of the picture.  

 And here is the Blueberry bought in November 2010.  The first picture again has the material at rest. 
And here it is stretched out.  The de-laminated holes are definitely noticeable.  I loved this cover.  The velcro was strong and I loved the print.  

So, you can see that diapers will wear down.  I was able to get almost 2 years out of a diaper that's been in a constant rotation for 2 children.  I really do feel that they would still be in better (useable) shape had I not used bleach and extreme heat on them. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I'm Not a Loyalist.

I'm not a loyalist.  Well I am, but I'm not.  After my husband and I married, I quit my job and found a new one when I moved.  During the duration of our time in Orlando, I stayed with one company, Florida Hospital, for almost 7 years.  However, within that organization, I found myself moving from one department to another under the Patient Administration umbrella.  Quite frankly I got bored.  So I found myself maintaining a little bit of sanity by moving around the department.

Now I'm a work/stay/play at home mom.  One thing I have remained loyal to during my child rearing years is cloth diapering.  I'm not a die hard, all or nothing cloth diaper user since I am known to pull out the disposables once in a while.  However, I will admit, within the umbrella of cloth, I am not loyal to one style of diapers.  I have jumped from one type to the next.  

When my middle two girls were babies, I started up with cloth full time.  I started out with fitteds.  I had a full stash of Kissaluvs and Snugglebottoms.  Then I moved on to a full stash of every size of Diaper Rite prefolds when baby #5 was born.  From there I ventured on to pockets with a few AIO.  Looking back though, I have never found the love for the AI2 system.  I'm not sure why.  It's just never hit me as a "Wow! This is great!" system.  

So for the last year I've been using all pockets and AIO.  These seem to be the best for my husband to use.  However, over the last two years as my pocket stash has grown, they are starting to wear out.  I hate to even type that!  But in reality, after two years and two children in diapers at the same time with a new one making his way into the one size weight range, I need to look at replacing diapers.  Since starting the business, I have added a few new pockets and AIO, but a majority of diapers need to be replaced.  Thus my loyalty to pockets is starting to wane.  

I'm thinking about building up my prefold stash once again.  This time I'm thinking of using a different brand.  Last time I used Diaper Rite and Green Mountain Diapers, but I found them to be too stiff and bulky, even the unbleached ones.  As I write this I sit and chuckle to myself because when I mentioned to my husband last night that I was considering going back to prefolds he promptly said, "Don't expect me to change any diapers then."  HA!!  Boy I never knew he had such a distaste for prefold diapers!  So, to keep him happy and in the game, I told him that I will keep some of the pockets available for when he does changes.  Besides, I do like to keep my stash a variety, but always having a majority of one type.  

So with the recent birth of our son, I finally started cloth diapering from the day he came home from the hospital.  I had tried to use prefolds on our last son, but I did not like them.  This time I decided to use Knickernappies infant prefolds.  I also had other diapers in my newborn stash which I have talked about before.  Anyway, I fell in love with the Knickernappies the first time I put them on him.  They were so soft and fluffy.  They remained soft and fluffy even after all the washing and occasional bleaching.  

Sadly my son has officially grown out of his newborn stash at around 7ish weeks.  That's not bad considering he started out at 9lbs 7.5 oz at birth.  So I have been working him into the one size pocket diapers I have on hand.  Unfortunately due to the past two years of use and laundering, some of my pocket covers are delaminating, the elastic is stretched out, and on a few the velcro is too frayed to stick.  Now, some of you may say, "Well it is easy to replace the elastic and velcro, just do it yourself!"  And I will say, "Sure go ahead!"  HA!  For some reason the thought of pulling anything off or out of my diapers scares me.  They are still some what useable, but if I go ripping things off and then ruin it making it unusable, well that will just make me mad.  However, if there is anyone reading this blog who is taking pity on me and would like to do it for me, I'd be happy to send them to you!  

Okay, so back to my loyalty.  I'm starting to wane on my loyalty to pocket diapers.  Quite frankly I'm getting bored of them.  So, I know I already love Knickernappies.  I also have one lonely OsoCozy prefold in my stash.  I pulled this one out the other day and used on the baby and I love it.  I'm realizing though, that I must make really wide babies.  For some reason, all of the prefolds I have used so far are difficult to pin or snappi.  I can do it, but it takes some work to make it just right to get everything to hook and hold.  Anyway, I have learned how to still put the prefold on my boys without a snapppi but also not jut trifolding the prefold.  But that is a post for the future.  

Another reason why I am wanting to go back to prefolds is the laundering.  Prefolds can really take a beating.  I'm still having to deal with diaper stink/ammonia.  If I want it to go away completely after every wash, I have to use bleach with every load.  Lately I've not done that; it's been more like once a week I will put in a splash of bleach.  Call me crazy, but I "feel better" doing that to a load of prefolds rather than an entire load of PUL, microfleece/suede, and bamboo.   

So it's time to say good-bye to my pockets and bring back the prefolds.  The benefit of bringing them in is that they are so cheap!  Since I still have some good pockets, a couple AIO, a fitted, and a few other prefolds on hand, I can add enough prefolds to complete my stash for the two boys well under $100.  That is a little harder to do with pockets or AIO.  I will have to say though, I will never stop loving the ease and simplicity of pockets, AIO, and fitteds.  They are just too darn cute to give up completely.         

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Brag Moment.

I totally have to take a moment to brag about my 4 year old daughter.  Last evening as I was making spaghetti for supper, my 4 year old took it upon herself to wash the dishes.  She was very adamant about doing it too.  So I figured, "Fine, knock yourself out."  And she did.  With cold water and the remaining 1/4 bottle of dish soap, she took to the task.  It was funny because as she cleaned and I played on the computer, I could hear her talking to herself.  She was saying things like, "I always have to do the dishes." or "No one ever helps me."  HA!  I think she hears her brother and sister complain WAY too much.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Have to Set the Example

I like to try different foods.  I love trying different ethnic dishes for sure.  A hang up I have, which I think most people have, is that I psych myself out simply by the sound of the word of the food.  For example I haven't tried Rocky Mountain Oysters or Escargot because I know what they are and I can't get past the name.  

The other day, however, I faced one of those giants:  Liver and Onions.  I've heard many people talk about it.  Mom would talk about the nursing home always making it for the residents.  Mom and dad were never a fan of it.  However, I figured with my chef husband making me a dish I have never tasted, it can't be that bad right?  

My verdict?  Feed it to the dog.  The texture of it was okay, but there was just this funny taste.  It was very dry, and even with the gravy I couldn't get passed the taste.  I'm trying to put this funny taste into words and I am having a hard time coming up with something that will work.  It's not metallic, it's not a fatty taste because liver does not have any fat in it.  

Unlike me, my two big kids (10 yr old son, 9 yr old daughter) enjoyed it and my husband helped himself to three pieces!!  The three little ones wouldn't even touch it.  I'm not sure if I am willing to try it again though.  Maye if it was prepared differently.  Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I had to set the example and at least try it.   

Monday, July 9, 2012

Simplicity of Newborn Diapering

I'm amazed that it has taken me so long to take the plunge and start cloth diapering one of my children from birth.  I'm not sure what my hang up was, but I finally started with our youngest the day he came home from the hospital.  With child #5, I attempted to use cloth on him as a newborn, but I didn't like it.  I was using prefolds (Diaper Rite I think?) and flats with only 2 one size BumGenius pockets in my stash.  

My first load of newborn/toddler diapers.
This time around I decided to plan ahead and look around.  I did exactly what I suggest to my customers (or anyone else who is interested in using cloth) and I bought a variety of diapers.  I have AIO, prefolds, fitteds, pockets, and AI2.  I am so glad I went this route.  My newborn stash consisted of Knickernappies Prefolds, Swaddlebees Newborn Simplex, BumGenius AIO,  Rumparooz lil Joey, Thirsties Duo AIO, Thirsties Duo Fab Fitteds, Applecheeks, and Knickernappies Custom Fit.    

I was really happy I bought the newborn Rumparooz and Swaddlebees Simplex with the umbilical snap down.  That function was so convenient, but I learned later it was not necessary.  It is totally possible to make other diapers fit under the cord.  To me these run a little small though.  Well maybe I just make too big of babies, but the Rumparooz only lasted a few weeks.  I tried to stretch out the life of these diapers on my newborn, but I could only use them for maybe a maximum of a month.  With that said, I know I will not be making a full newborn stash out of these diapers because the investment would not be worth it for just a month.  The Swaddlebees however is still being used at 7 weeks.  The absorbency is great and the elastic has good stretch to fit my son without leaving red marks.  

The diaper I would reach for first (and still do) are the Thirsties Duo AIO.  It's funny because they are not my favorite, but they are the first I like to use.  The fit on my newborn was/is wonderful.  I like these so much because they are so easy to use and clean.  Whomever first thought up an all in one is a genius.  Nothing to take apart and nothing to stuff (which in a newborn diaper this is a big deal because they are so small and a bit of a pain to try to stuff).  Unlike other AIO I don't feel they take an extraordinary time to dry.  The absorbent pad is not completely sewn in, so I just simply turn the diaper inside out and hang to dry.  On occasion (when I've gone too long before washing diapers) I will toss them in the dryer for a cycle and let cool completely before turning right side out for use.  My only complaint is that they are not super absorbent (but then I've been using hemp on my 21 mo old son).  I have to change him about every hour otherwise we get leaks.

My favorite diaper (which really surprised me) was/is the Knickernappies infant prefolds with a Thirsties x-small cover.  What a great combination.  I have yet to have a leak with this pair.  I love these prefolds because they are so super soft.  I have tried several kinds of prefolds in both bleached and unbleached.  As I mentioned earlier I tried prefolds on my other son but I did not like them.  They were too bulky and stiff.  So I was really skeptical of the Knickernappies.  I was plesantly surprised when I put them on my son.  I simply folded down the extra length in the front (doing it in the back makes it too bulky) and fastened with my snappi.  Again, it was so easy keeping it under the cord stump.

The Knickernappies Custom Fit is one that I wished I had more of.  The beauty of these, like any other pocket diaper, is that you can adjust the absorbency.  You can choose what insert to use in this diaper.  Because of my 21 month old, I've been using hemp.  What a wonderful fabric.  So I decided to totally forgo the microfiber in these pocket diapers and use the Knickernappies hemp inserts.  These little guys are amazing!  I feel totally confident when I go out on errand trips knowing that I will not have any leaks with this diaper.  Again with proper positioning I was able to keep it under the cord stump.  Even now, long after the cord is gone, I still get a great fit with this diaper.  There is still plenty of room for him to grow into this diaper in both the rise and the width.

My new challenge with this little man is finding a night diaper that will not leak.  I'm starting to think that as long as he nurses through out the night, I may not find it.  With him nursing so much, he is going to be peeing a lot.  Currently I am using some left over disposables that I found in the back of a closet.  I was getting tired of his wet jammies and my wet bed and shirt.  I've been thinking about this for the past week and I may have come up with some other options to try.  We'll see how things work out.         

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Putting Vinegar to the Test

Cleaning is not my forte.  In fact, I really strongly dislike cleaning.  In small spaces it is easy, like my bedroom, but with the rest of the house not so much.  But then, who can keep a spotless house with six kids.  

I've been growing weary of using so many different chemicals to clean my house.  Yeah they may leave a nice scent behind, but while using them they are so strong.  They are so strong that sometimes I feel like if I don't wash my hands multiple times while cleaning my hands will corrode away.  

I know many people who love using vinegar for cleaning.  I read articles and talked to the vinegar users, but I remained skeptical.  I finally decided to take the plunge when I came across a blog about the multiple uses of vinegar and other natural cleaners.  And yes I know I blogged about the article already, but when you convert and become a believer you don't mind repeating yourself.  

Okay, so I took the plunge.  I just ditched the store bought cleaners under my sink and busted out the bottle of vinegar.  I figured the best place to start was in my kitchen.  Oh my poor kitchen.  It gets neglected on so many levels.  After removing and cleaning the mounds of dirty dishes, I was finally able to tackle the grime and scum that had been building up for several months.  

I don't know about you, but the most neglected parts of my kitchen are in the corners under things like the spice rack and the microwave.  I always clean around everything, but I don't move all the appliances.  I decided to first start with just straight vinegar from my spray bottle.  I was quite disappointed.  Even though I sprayed then let it set, the vinegar did not penetrate the grime.  I then sprinkled baking soda then sprayed the vinegar again and it was like day and night.  The grime came off with very little scrubbing.  I was sold.  I had found my "magic" solution.  

I continued on with my kitchen cleaning and tackled the counter under the microwave.  I thought this would make a good blog so I chronicled the process in pictures.  As you can see, the grime was pretty bad.  On the left is where the coffee maker sits and on the right is the microwave.   

I decided to first try vinegar alone.  I sprayed it down really good and took my washrag to it.  Even with some elbow grease, I wasn't able to get it all off.  

The black bits on the counter and my rag is grime/dust buildup which did not want to come off.

Then I brought out the baking soda.  To cut through grime, you really need a "scrubbing" agent.  I figured the wash rag itself would be enough, but it wasn't.  Now, I'm not a chemist, but the baking soda "soaked" up the grease which allowed for it to be easily removed from the counter top.  Oh, and as a side note, the more I used baking soda during my kitchen cleaning, the cleaner my wash rag became.  I would rinse and wring out my rag as I cleaned and it was whitening up my rag at the same time! 

It took several "rinses" to get all of the baking soda off the counter top.  It tended to leave a powdery film on the counter.  Finally I had a clean counter top.  I was really proud of myself, and I was happy not not be covered in chemicals.  

This final picture shows the difference between using just vinegar (on the right under the outlet) and vinegar with baking soda (on the left).  

I was so happy with the outcome that I didn't want to put back any of the appliances because I wanted to be able to always see the results of my hard work.  

After the counter tops, I moved on to the stove and wood work.  The stove cleaned up nicely except that it is black and the baking soda made a cloudy "film" on the surface.  So it needed extra rinses to get clean.  The wood work was a little different story.  I still have to find a better solution for that.  I tried the vinegar/baking soda combo, but it did not work.  I was not able to remove any of the grime.  Instead all it did was "pill" up like the plain vinegar did on the counter.  I also didn't put in a couple drops of olive oil for shining up the wood work.  So next time for the wood, I think I need to do as suggested and mix equal parts vinegar and hot water and then spray on cabinets.  

The vinegar works wonders on glass.  I don't mind using Windex, but to use one cleaner through out the whole house is wonderful.  I take some unused coffee filters with the vinegar and clean all windows and mirrors.  No streaks and no lint left behind by the filters.

The kitchen floor was a bit of a challenge.  I still am not sure what is the proper mixture for that.  I've washed the floors several times with vinegar and water and unfortunately the last time I mopped, I put too much vinegar in and did not clean out my mop head when I was done and the vinegar rusted my whole mop.  Yeah, that was gross. 

My final task was the toilet.  I wasn't sure how this was going to work since there is water in the bowl.  I poured about 1/4 cup baking soda into the bowl and let it sit for about 5 min.  While that sat, I sprayed the outside of the toilet with the vinegar to wipe down and then tried to spray the best as possible under the rim.  Took the scrub brush and started cleaning inside.  Easy peasy.  The toilet cleaned like a charm.  



 When all was said and done, I was really happy with the results.  My only complaint is that it stinks.  Yeah, I said it.  I think vinegar stinks.  I don't mind it when I'm cooking or when dying Easter eggs, but when I use it to clean my house, my whole house becomes permeated with the smell.  It actually lingered for a couple days after cleaning the whole kitchen.  My husband is not a fan of it, but as long as the kids and I are expected to keep up the house, then I will choose the safe and natural alternative to bleach and harsh chemicals to clean my house.   

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cloth Diapering The Infant

I talked before about our plans for cloth diapering our newborn.  Well, that beautiful baby girl is now 9 1/2 weeks old.  We started off with disposables.  Mostly because they were easy and my mom was there to help.  She does not do cloth diapers.  ;-)  They also proved to be helpful when my husband lost his job and we had to move.  Laundering cloth diapers would have just added to the headache and stress of that moment.

But now, we are back in our home and are cloth diapering her most of the time.  I have tried everything I bought and here are our experiences up to this point.


The ease of using fitted diapers is wonderful.  They go on in a flash and we are back to doing something else much more exciting than diaper changes.  However, they take FOREVER to dry in the dryer.  In fact, I normally have to hang them for a while after being in the dryer to finish them off.  That is annoying.  Since we plan to start hanging out the diapers to dry in the back yard, I can imagine it is going to be an all day deal to get them dry.  At least it won't add to my electric bill.

I really was not looking forward to using them.  But, I must admit that once I got the hang of putting them on and securing them with the Snappi's, They are my favorite.  So easy, so simple.  I do like the hemp ones a bit better than the cotton ones for laundering.  Because of how they are made, they are MUCH easier and faster to dry.  They also, after time, are more absorbent than cotton. 

However, while the unbleached cotton prefolds take longer to dry that center section, for some reason I just like them better.  Chalk it up to preference, but the cotton prefolds are the first I reach for when it is time for changing her. 

Now, we had some Gerber bleached cotton prefolds and some of the non-bleached cotton prefolds.  The non-bleached ones are much softer, much more absorbent and dry faster than the bleached ones. 

I can't lie, we have primarily used these for burp cloths.  However, since I really hate drying the fitteds and the prefolds, I need to really practice my folds on the flats.  If we can figure them out, not only will they be the cheapest option, they will dry in a flash since they are a single layer of cotton. 

There is one pocket diaper we have been able to use so far.  It is one that was given to us as a gift.  I believe it is from Thirsties.  It has both a microfiber and a cotton insert that snap together.  It is also a size one.  I really like this one and it just reminds me that I long for the day my baby girl chunks up enough that we can use primarily pocket diapers on her.  They are still, by far, my favorite overall. 

So, wish me luck figuring out those flats.  I'll update you once we have mastered the art of flat folding.  

Sharon Underwood is a SAHM of one awesome little 2 year old boy Derrek, and a beautiful baby girl Morgan.  She and her husband live in rural town Nebraska.  Through mutual friends, Sharon and I have learned quite a bit about raising our families "naturally". 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Early Arrival, Grand Entrance.

I've always prided myself in knowing that I have textbook deliveries.  Even though I have gone through three inductions due to blood pressure issues, they have all been relative easy and I never needed any pain medication.  Well with my first I had a little bit and begged for the epidural, but they came too slowly to get it started before I pushed baby out.  With the birth of our most recent child last Friday May 18th, I knew this one was going to be different.  I have been having fear and anxiety for quite some time (many weeks) and I just could not put my finger on where this fear was coming from.  

I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months.  At first they were "normal" in that they felt like normal BH contractions that I had with my other pregnancies.  As I got closer and much bigger to my due date, they began feeling different.  Instead of lots of pressure in my belly and the feeling of baby being pushed down, I would have lots of pressure in my pelvis with pain in my hips.  I think it was the pain in my hips that made me start to question the position of the baby.  My biggest fear (which I think I wrote about before) was baby being breech and having to have a c-section.  

The day before I delivered, I had my 37 week appointment.  During the previous week I was checked for dilation so Dr. V did not check me again.  However he did feel around my belly to see if baby was sitting head down.  It was totally not very comfortable, but it was bearable and he really didn't seem 100% positive that baby was head down.  That afternoon I had contractions non stop into the evening.  I didn't think twice about them because I knew that when I went to bed that night they were going to stop, which they did.  I sent a text message to my friend Sharon and she and I agreed that it sounded like pre-labor.  While I was excited about that possibility, I knew it was a bit early as I was only 37 weeks.

The next morning (Friday) I woke up from a great night sleep and through out most of the day I was still contracting, but nothing to make me say, "Yup, this is labor."  One thing that did concern me was that when I had gone to the bathroom, it seemed like I had a very slight leak of my amniotic fluid.  I know what it is like to have SROM (spontaneous rupture of membranes) and this did not feel like that.  Through out the day it was hard to tell what it really was because I had already been having lots of mucus and pieces of my plug coming out all week.  So I told myself that if anything changes by the evening, I would give the hospital a call and see what they suggest.  

In the mid afternoon, I decided to take a nap.  A nap is not something I normally do (who does with 5 kids running around?).  I had snoozed on the rocking chair, but I had gotten up to go to the bathroom and decided I needed to get a better rest than that.  As I laid down, I realized that for the first time I was still contracting.  This was kind of exciting, but at the same time I didn't put much stock in it.  Around 5:30 pm, I went to the bathroom and had some bloody show.  (Again another first for me on that one.)  So I called the hospital and because of my questioning that my water may be leaking, they told me to come in.  Now, keep in mind at this point, I have all my stuff ready to be packed, but nothing in a bag yet.  After all I still have a couple more weeks to go.  So I get myself ready to go and I head in alone with nothing but my cell phone.  

I get in and I am greeted by the PA.  I tell her the story and they hook me up to the fetal monitor, take some blood, and put in the IV "just in case".  From here events start to happen quickly.  The first thing they (the PA and LD nurse) is check my cervix and do a test for fluid.  The PA checked first and I could see something was up because I could see it in her face that she wasn't sure what she was feeling.  When the LD nurse checked me she said I was 5 cm dilated with bulging waters.  Well that would explain the wetness feeling I was having and the steady contractions.  The thing they were unsure of was baby's presentation.  So they call in Dr. V and they bring in the ultrasound.  It was 6pm when Dr V came in and when he checked me he confirmed that I was 5 cm 100% effaced and baby was high.  He was able to confirm that baby was head down via ultrasound.  The decision was made, I was staying in the hospital and was going to have this baby.  Oh my stars, I was totally not prepared for that.  

I then began calling in the troops.  My husband was home and in the middle of cooking an amazing supper (orange chicken with stir fried veggies and noodles) and I tried to reach my mother.  I couldn't get a hold of her, so I called my dad who was at the other farm working, so he said he would be at the house and would find mom.  My dad, bless his heart.  While my husband worked hard getting the food finished, my dad found my suitcase and packed up my things for me.  Okay, so all the while I was making my calls my contractions were steady and regular, but not very painful though they seemed pretty impressive to the nurse on the monitor strip.  Again I've always prided myself in being able to handle the pains of labor well on my own and the hospital staff all know this too.  

37 weeks, day before delivery
At 6:26pm Dr. V came in again to check me.  Apparently at his last check, he was really not sure what he was feeling.  There seemed to be something other than a smooth head presenting.  They thought maybe it was baby's face with nose presenting first, or maybe it was a hand.  As he was trying to find out, my water broke, with an amazing huge gush.  Again another first there!  My immediate response to the doctor, "Look what you did."  HA!  Oh yeah, definitely no going back now.  Okay, so it is no wonder I look so absolutely huge in my 37 week picture with baby sitting so high.  I had a lot of fluid for him to hang out in.  Thankfully the fluid was clear and we are good to go for another successful natural delivery.  They were now prepared for a quick delivery.  Not sure who, but Dr. V or the LD nurse expected arrival in about 30 min, but I said, nah 2 hours. 

From here time begins to get a little sketchy for me.  Shortly after my water breaks, my husband arrives.  My contractions begin to intensify, though I was able to relax and regroup between them.  This was a consistent event all the way through until I pushed.  Which is something I was so very grateful for later on.  So, I'm going to say maybe an hour after my water breaking, they wanted to check me again to see how baby was presenting.  I was now at 7/8 cm with a little bit of lip of cervix to thin out and something other than baby's smooth head was presenting.  Can I just say when you are in the midst of contractions and everyone is up in your business, it feakin' hurts.  I'm not a very nice person when I'm in labor, and I was not too shy to tell them to get out of me.  However, it was when the LD nurse checked me that they learned what was coming out.  His hand.  The little bugger had his hand over his head.  The beautiful part of the vaginal check was that the little man held her finger.  What gave me hope for a successful delivery was that the LD nurse said that there is plenty of room for him to come out vaginally.   

Okay, so to explain my contractions.  They were unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I would have the normal intense pressure in my belly, but my hips would be on fire.  We had to try to get baby to turn and pull his hand in.  Well, not that pulling his hand in is an absolute requirement (as we later learn), but it does make labor easier.  Now no one said this, but I always thought that baby was also sitting at a bit of an angle so that his shoulders were getting a little hung up on my pelvic bones.  So Dr. V and the nurse wanted me to change position to the knee/chest.  With my husband by my side, I told him I knew that this labor was going to be different.  I knew it in my gut; this is where my fear was coming from weeks ago.  So I turned around in the bed and with my chest to the bed on a pillow and my rear in the air, we attempted to get baby to slide back up a bit to pull his hand down.  Even in this position my contractions never changed.  They were still the same feeling of fire in my hips with baby trying to push through (though I never felt pushy).  I sat this way for about 10-15 min.  What was nice and comforting was my husband gently rubbing my lower back/hips.  I could not handle an actual back rub or any counter pressure, but light touch was definitely very soothing.  The nurse then asked me if I wanted to move to my left side which I quickly replied, "No" and it gave her a good laugh.  So I sucked it up and laid on my left side.  Yeah, you want to cause a laboring woman more pain?  Make her endure a couple contractions on her side.   

So again they decide to check me to see if changing positions helped and unfortunately it did not.  So we got out of bed and I leaned over the edge of the bed.  The nurse decided to try to use this position to see if she could get baby to pull his hand back.  Her idea was to try to push his hand back with her fingers.  Yeah, okay, next time (if there is a next time) I will not let this happen.  That was torture.  Oh, and another first for me was the fact that I kept peeing myself!  What is up with that!?!  I would have a contraction and I knew in order for it to help I needed to relax so that baby can move down, but in the mean time I'd relax and couldn't stop from peeing.  This is where nurses rock.  They totally deal with any mess that happens.  

So after leaning on the bed with no success to get baby to move, I stood up and went through one contraction standing up with my husband supporting me.  This is where I should have stayed.  I regret not listening to my husband who was trying to tell the staff that I need to stay out of bed and let gravity happen.  My mind was in such a whirl wind from dealing with the intense contractions, that I could not speak up for myself.  I got back into bed and with a final check, Dr. V said I was complete and ready to push.  Oh the magical words to a woman.  Unfortunately his words did not match my body at all.  In fact it seemed to be so totally counter productive because I was now in the most awful position of legs in stirrups and baby pressing against my hips with each contraction.  I tried to push through a couple contractions (and in the mean time shushing anyone who tried counting or tried to talk).  It was just not happening.  I told them I did not have the urge to push.  I was confused.  I hurt, baby did not feel like he was in the right position yet to be pushed out, and I was losing hope.  As each contraction would come down, I would say, "My freakin' hips are on fire man!"  

I had to stay focused.  I trusted my body, I trusted birth, and I trusted that God was going to help me deliver a healthy baby.  I'm a birth blog junkie.  I have read so many stories of difficult deliveries.  I knew that with support I could deliver this child, but my confidence was waning.  After trying to push through a couple contractions, the nurse and Dr. V left the room to discuss what should happen next (I assume).  The PA stayed with me as did my husband.  I endured a couple more contractions on that awful bed in the stirrups and I had to find my inner focus.  I would alternate between, "Jesus give me strength" and "I can do this" with each contraction.  I am so very very grateful for the breaks between contractions to reach down to that inner focus.  All the while I could hear my husband praying over me.  I tried to focus on a prayer like the Lord's prayer or a Hail Mary, but that required too much brain power.  Keeping simple with "I can do this" and "Jesus give me strength" was just enough to keep me going.  

My husband had to use the bathroom (he had been asking me for a while and I just couldn't let him go) so I told him to make it quick.  Mean while Dr. V and the nurse came back in and he said he was calling Dr. A the OB surgeon to do a c-section.  Dr. V felt like baby was stuck and I could not bring him down.  I resigned very quickly and responded with a tired and pathetic, "okay" which my husband heard and was not happy about.  This is where I should have listened to him to stay out of the bed.  Dr. V said that it would take about 30 min to call everyone in and that I needed to endure the contractions without pushing (HA!  yeah, screw that!!).  30 min.  I died inside.  Mean while, the LD nurse "prepped" me with a catheter for the surgery (yeah put that on my list of do not do's).  Contractions continued to come and I begged for the medication to stop the contractions, but they denied me that (and rightly so).  One thing that helped keep me going was knowing that the nurse said I have plenty of room for baby to come out.  But I was losing hope quickly because I was getting tired, I hurt, and seemed to be stuck in a rut.  Baby just didn't seem to be moving with any of the contractions. 

While we waited for everyone to come in, Dr. V left to get the surgery room set up.  Meanwhile my legs were going numb from being in the stirrups (yeah, they left me in that position) and as each contraction came I ignored the "don't push" request and gave light pushes to make it through the contraction.  I thought maybe if I gently pushed it would encourage baby to move into position.  Finally I asked someone (didn't really know who was in the room at the time because I labor with my eyes closed) to put my legs down.  The bed was all taken apart, so the PA put it back together and she and my husband got my legs down.  Wow did that feel amazing; and it was the magical move too.  I had a huge contraction come and that most wonderful and overpowering feeling to push happened.  I could not deny it.  There was no way in hell I was going to have that c-section.  I was lying slightly at an angle on my left side so when it hit, I grabbed my right leg, pulled it back and roared with all my might.  There is no way to even duplicate that sound.  I screamed with a loud "AHHH" and I pushed with all my might.  My husband yelled, "I see crowing!!" and the PA yelled for Dr. V to come (the nurse laughed later because she had never heard the PA raise her voice yet.  She is a very soft spoken woman.)  I'm not sure if the contraction even let up or I just did what I had to do, but I stopped making noise, continued to push took another breath and yelled again.  With one long continuous push and the PA helping support and stretch my perineum, I delivered my son.  He came out presenting with his left hand and forearm over his head.  From what I remember, there was excitement and my husband said, "You did it!!".  

As soon as he came out, I looked at him and told them to give him to me.  However since he was early at 37 weeks they wanted to give him some oxygen because he was not perking up like he should.  I was being a bit pushy about getting him right away, but the staff was patient and told me that I would get him.  Once I did push him out, I looked at my husband and he looked like he had just been through the whole ordeal himself.  His face was all flush and sweaty.  That man was truly empathizing with me.  Later on he told me that it was very hard on him because there was nothing he could do for me.  He wanted to help me, but he couldn't; he did not like seeing me deal with the pain.  I love that man.  The PA and nurse took the baby to the warmer and checked him out.  He was having some difficulties breathing so they gave him some oxygen and he pinked up.  

They finally placed him on my chest and I was in heaven.  It was done.  I delivered my son.  He was in my arms without a single cut being made on my body.  He had some labored breathing while on my chest so we turned him on his side and I held the oxygen in front of him and it helped clear his breathing.  The greatest part was there was no tearing!  I thought for sure that with my forceful pushing I would have to have a couple stitches, but I was wrong.  The LD nurse said I need to start teaching the labor class at the hospital because I do so well birthing my children.  HA!  

You can see the bruising on his left arm.
Our third son, sixth child Gabriel Thomas was born at 8:16pm on May 18, 2012.  He weighed in at 9lbs 7.5 oz and was 20 inches long.  Not bad for 37 weeks huh?  And I was right; 2 hours after my water broke, my son was born.
Looking back, was it a perfect labor and delivery?  No not really, though in the end I still had a healthy baby.  Could things have been done differently?  Yes, many things could have been done differently.  I am not angry that Dr. V was quick to make a decision for a c-section because it is a small town hospital.  Anesthesia and the surgical team are not in house every day.  So there has to be some leaning towards caution and preparation for an "emergency".  On the flip side, that waiting period gave my body the time it needed to do what it was supposed to.   

Gabriel Thomas 4 days old.
Allison, the PA who stayed by my side.

Dr. V.  He brought me through a healthy pregnancy and a successful delivery.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

37 Weeks and Going Strong.

Today marked 37 +1 in my pregnancy.  Can I just say time seems to go slower and s.l.o.w.e.r and s . l . o . w . e . r  as I get closer to my due date?  I have just received the last of my items I need for baby to come.  I ordered some reusable nursing pads from Figgy Fuzz Baby Botique.  I am so excited to use them too.  They are made from amazingly soft bamboo.  When those are washed and ready to go, my bag will be complete.  However, I'm actually having a hard time deciding if I want to take all my newborn diapers with me.  Such a hard decision huh?  

37 +1
I walk into the clinic and meet another pregnant mom waiting to be seen.  We begin talking and she is on her second pregnancy, due May 21st.  When she said that I was almost surprised!  She was so tiny!  She had such a beautiful little belly that I really thought she meant June 21st.  I was just a tad bit jealous at the size of her little tummy.  

So anyway, on to my appointment.  I met a new nurse and she was very nice.  I gained another 2 lbs (boo), but my bp was great at 123/78.  I get to the room and have enough time to have a little cat nap.  One of the things I kind of like about having to go in for an appointment.  It gives me 5-10 minutes of quiet alone time.  

Everything about today was super routine.  I must be measuring ahead still because when Dr. V measured, he said, "You're ready to go huh?" Uh, yeah, I am totally ready to go, but I will definitely wait until baby is ready. But you know, part of me hopes that that extra measurement and 2 lbs gained is more on me and not the baby.  I know I can deliver big babies, but just how big is too big for me?  Heartbeat was strong at 140.  

And here is the good news.  Group B was *drum roll* NEGATIVE!!  WOHOO!!!  So my next question to him was about the IV.  And the answer was music to my ears.  He said we will still put the iv in, but not have it hooked.  Depending on how quick I go, they may give me a little fluid in the beginning, but then if he is the attending then he would be okay with disconnecting it while I labor.  Oh my, I am so glad to hear this.  And he said he is pretty sure that Dr. O will be willing to do the same.  So, I see Dr. O next week and will ask him then too just to make sure.  

When I came home I told my husband, well good news is my Group B was negative.  He was really happy for that too.  But then he asked what the bad news was, and while I didn't really have any, my response, "Um, I'm still pregnant!"