Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cloth Wipes, Day 8; 30 Day Challenge, Day 29

The Cloth Wipes Challenge is still going well here!  Loving the wipes and we've now used them out and about several times.  After 3 changes in flushies with generous amounts of A&D and Aquaphor Izzy's rash is gone.  I made a new wipes solution with water, some baby shampoo, and a couple drops of lavender oil.  We have been using lavender oil in Izzy's detangler and in our hand wash and it hasn't been causing her problems so I have high hopes.  We'll see how it goes.

Johnny is still trucking along doing fine.  I went to put one of his 9mos outfits on and it wouldn't snap at the bottom... time to pull out the 12mos.  Whoever is sneaking him HGH needs to stop.  Fer real.

In other news, we've been happy with the hand washer and my arms are looking amazing.  Working on a video to sum up what we've learned this month regarding the hand washer.  Great plans for our next 30 day challenge -- revamping the way we eat!  Nom, nom.

If you're taking part in the Cloth Wipes Challenge, let us know how its going!  Challenging?  Fun?  In-between?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 28

We've been doing well with the Cloth Wipes Challenge and I'm loving the new wipes I made.  They are out of bamboo french terry -- soft, absorbant, and they work well.  Downside -- Izzy's tempermental buttocks decided to break out in a rash. Can't blame it on disposable/unnatural/evil corporation anything this time.  I think it might be the tea tree oil.  Will try less or none of it in the next batch of wipes wash.

In other news, we're trying out the tea tree oil on John's head.  He has seborrheic dermatitis AKA cradle cap (infants) and really bad dandruff (adults).  In adults it is thought to be due in part to a naturally occurring yeast/fungus on the scalp.  Tea tree oil (an antifungal) was listed as a natural treatment for seborrheic dermatitis in adults so we thought we would give it a try.  After making a 5% solution I massaged it in to John's freshly washed scalp and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  He said it "burned... in a good way".  Like lifting weights?  He rinsed his hair afterwards and the angry, flaky red patches looked angrier, redder, but less flaky (hence why I think Izzy is reacting to it).  We'll see how it does after a few weeks.  He had been using Selsen Blue, but doesn't like the smell of the sulfur used in the formula that worked and said it stopped working after a while.

Fun fact, another treatment for seborrheic dermatitis in adults is UV radiation -- hence why John never has a problem with his scalp when he shaves his head!  Definitely a low maintenance easy treatment for dandruff if you don't mind a bald head.

As for infants, I'd shy away from the tea tree oil -- John got some in his eyes and said it burned... in a bad way.  Try a tooth brush and some regular shampoo or olive oil.  Both our kids had/have cradle cap and that is what has worked for us.  In all, it doesn't seem to bother them too much -- it doesn't seem to itch like John's does.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 24 -- Cloth Wipes Challenge, etc.

This will be short because I'm busy holding my breath during the CWS game :)

The wipes challenge is going well.  John and the kids got back into town yesterday and I was galavanting between work and the Keith Urban concert so I changed a total of two diapers in the first two days, both with cloth wipes.  However, we ran out of cloth wipes today!  I guess with two we need more than 9... oops.  I have to make some more tonight after the game.  We ended up having to use the Pampers Sensitive wipes for two changes.  It was a new package and we haven't used that specific brand in a long time and guess what -- BOTH kids broke out in a rash!  Thankfully we had a sample of diaper cream to use on Izzy, and Johnny started breaking out right before bath time.  They are both cleared up and I will be a wipe-making machine tonight if the sewing machine cooperates.

Otherwise, I've found soaking the diapers in RNG helps to get them cleaner.  I was just agitating for 5 minutes and it wasn't working too well.  Now I've been agitating a couple minutes, soaking for at least 10min, then agitating for 3-5 minutes.  Works better and less tiresome for me.

Bottom of the 9th.  Nail-biting time.


Starved for Attention

USA, 2010 © Jessica Dimmock/VII Network

In the US we've done a wonderful job of providing good nutrition to low income families through the WIC program.  For those who can access the program, it provides foods with a high nutritional value -- the types of food children need to grow and develop properly.  In addition it provides good nutrition to pregnant and breastfeeding women too, to ensure even the poorest of children get a good start nutritionally.

Meanwhile we ship corn and soy to third world countries; our 'gift' of food to the world.  Women and children here are given milk, eggs, whole wheat bread and grains, beans, vegetables and fruit (and the ability to get those vegetables and fruit from local farms to boot!).  Meanwhile we pay out the whazoo to grow, package and ship nutritionally empty food to children dying of malnutrition.  In reality, these foods do nothing for a child except make him feel full.  They do not prevent stunting, anemia, or other serious consequences of malnutrition.

USA, 2009 © Antonin Kratochvil/VII
Good nutrition doesn't only help a child to grow up 'big and strong'.  It plays a vital role in preventing death from common childhood diseases, such as a cold.  At the moment, the international donors making the largest contribution to international food aid -- the United States, Canada, members of the EU, Japan, and Australia -- are providing substandard food to children under 5.  Although fortified with some vitamins, these cereal-based products don't meet the minimal nutrition requirements for young children.

Good food is a basic necessity that everyone should have access to.  It prevents illness and helps to grow strong productive adults.  We are wasting our money on nutritionally inadequate food.  If we wouldn't give it to our children, why are we giving it to children that are dying of malnutrition?

India, 2010  © Stephanie Sinclair/VII
So what can you do?  Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) and VII Photo Agency have partnered to create a media campaign to raise awareness of the problem of starvation and malnutrition plaguing the children of the world.  In addition, they have created a petition asking international donors to support only programs that respect the minimal nutritional needs of infants and young children, and put access to nutrition-rich foods at the center of their efforts to tackle childhood malnutrition in the worst-hit countries.  I ask you to join me in signing the petition and supporting minimal nutrition for all children, not just our own.  In addition, I ask you to not be silent about this!  Be loud!  Spread the word through your social network(s) of choice: Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, your own blog...  At the bottom of the 'Sign the Petition' page, MSF has a list of ways you can spread the news.  If you're more a fan of face-to-face contacts you can organize your own petition-signing event!  MSF has a petition you can print out for people to sign.  Bring it to your moms' group, girlscout meeting, boyscout meeting, the grocery store, church, sewing circle, the movies -- anywhere you feel comfortable spreading the word.

First, I encourage you to explore the story more.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 22

So I've decided to take on the cloth wipes challenge from Mama on a Green Mission.  I had already planned on switching to cloth wipes and there is no time like the present, right?  I made up a wipes solution a couple days ago using my peri bottle from the hospital, filtered water, a little bit of baby soap, and some baby oil.  I made it like I cook, so there was no measuring involved.  I got some tea tree oil from Earthfare yesterday and added it to the wipes because we live in the south and mold and funk is part of life.  The tea tree oil is supposed to help with that.  For wipes I grabbed a dozen or so from the huge stash of baby washcloths from the hall closet.  The nice-almost-grown-up ones will not be touched, nor will the crocheted ones from my mom, pinky swear :).  I have my limits.

There's a twist though...

Today is the first day of the challenge, but Monday I was so rip-roarin' to go that I started using the cloth wipes right away and loved it.  Then yesterday my husband made plans for today to go to his mom's and take care of some stuff up there.  Catch: I'm working 3pm today until 7am tomorrow, and for some reason my boss won't let me take my kids on emergency calls.  Something about safety concerns...

So John left with kids in tow at 1pm today.  Disposable wipes and flushable inserts went along too because John doesn't want to deal with diaper laundry for the short time they will be gone, understandably.

So in summary, first day of the cloth wipes challenge: I changed one diaper and used one cloth wipe.  Fail.  However it was a monstrous set of EBF golden farts.  And I only had to use ONE wipe.  So I think that counts as an epic success :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 19 -- Happy Father's Day!

John shot his first wedding yesterday for a cousin of his and we spent today recovering.  Made waffles for the dear man this morning -- strawberry waffles with homemade blueberry jam (wedding favor -- cute yah?).  I think an Earthfare trip is in order tomorrow to make some wipes wash.  Also need to make another fitted -- the first one I made doesn't fit Johnny as well as it could.  I also found my stash of old T-shirts and fabrics while I was cleaning out the closet.  Score one for thriftiness.  Have a bunch of soakers to run up -- cut the fabric out at work the other night.  Now I just need to find some time to sew.  Maybe tomorrow night.

More importantly than all that -- much love to all the dear men in my life.  John -- the best father I could have wished for our children.  My dad -- simply amazing in everything he does and so selfless.  My grandfathers -- both have done a wonderful job of spoiling me as my father is now doing for my kids.  My godfather -- lacking in the Italian department, but equally as scary to unworthy suitors.  I know if I ever need a dad and can't get a hold of mine he's there to fill in... or supplement when it comes to homecoming dates.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 16

Late again.  Posting that is.  Don't get too excited ;)

We got our Rockin' Green in the mail, so the diapers are all soaking.  Lavendar Mint Revival... mmmm.  The kids are in disposable inserts in the meantime.  The water looks very grungy.  I'm not sure if that's a reflection on my diapers, our bathtub, or both.

I also ran up three soakers this afternoon using some awesome polar fleece I found in the remnant bin.  They are adorable if I do say so myself.  I have having scraps, so two of them have pockets.

Yah, take that Huggies!  My jean-look-alike-diapers are so much cooler than yours!  They are soft and cuddly, like a teddy bear.  You make a disposable feel like that!

My favorite by far is the one with the 'Hanes' waistband.  Again, need to make some more fitteds and make sure these work for Johnny overnight.  Might make some prefolds and invest in some snappis too.  After watching a how-to video I've realized they aren't nearly as scary as they look.  The pins are, but the snappis are not.  The only thing that bothers me is that the snappis don't 'snap'.  They hook.  Or grab.  Or something.  So shouldn't we be calling them 'hookis'?  or maybe 'pointis'?  or 'grabbis'?  I think Sharpie is rightfully taken. Might not go over well either.

My goal next week is to dig through our stack of wash cloths and separate out the cheap ones for butt-wiping duty, a noble and totally worthy cause.  We need to end our addiction to disposable wipes.  I found three in the laundry today.  To top it all off, Izzy is getting confused and put TP in the laundry hamper.  This has nothing to do with the fact she is two.

I'm also going to start looking at recipes for wipes solutions.  I'm thinking something with lavender oil because I would like to use the lavender oil to make a detangler/refresher for Izzy's and my hair.  If I can use it for two things, then its easier to swallow the price tag.  I can just remind myself how wonderfully useful it is :)  I've heard great things about tea tree oil too, so that might be involved.

Last note: we got a Boon Flo today -- it helps with filling the bucket and looks cool.  We were losing half the water coming out of the faucet while filling the bucket because I can't hold it close enough to the faucet to get all the water into our bucket without aggravating my back (I need Boeing to do some ergonomic restructuring in our bathroom... Dad?).  The Flo spits the water out so I can set the bucket down and still catch all the water.  Problem solved, world saved.  My work here is done for today.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 15

First -- funny story.  We haven't done our laundry in a number of days, so we are weighed down with laundry.  We hung as much as we could to dry so the laundry racks were packed.  Thankfully it was pretty dry today so they were on the balcony.  I got the kids down for bed and I'm sitting at the computer and I notice some lightning -- better get the laundry inside.  As I get up to get the laundry I hear Johnny crying.  So I go get him and I walk back into the living room just in time to see the laundry racks slide across our balcony!  A huge gust of wind blew both of our racks to the end of the balcony.  We live in a corner apartment, so it almost blew them OFF the balcony!  I set Johnny down and rushed outside to get the clothes.  I did a quick once over and it doesn't look like we've lost anything, but if anyone happens to see some random clothes blowing about Columbia let us know!

Right now its raining and storming again.  Good, because it will help the night cool off.

In other news, the fitted pocket with the soaker worked great on Izzy overnight.  The fitted is drying -- then we'll give it a shot on Johnny.  Thankfully it did not get blown off the balcony.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

If you're looking for a good series to sit and watch when you have nothing else to do, check out Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on Hulu.  Last 'season' he went to West Virginia.  This time he's in LA.  He's trying to foster real change in the way kids eat in school and the way parents eat at home.  Its great; refreshing, informative, and very honest.  I remember growing up on school lunches that were fast food every day.  It tasted okay, but every day?  I would have loved to have fresh fruit and vegetables instead -- hence why I brought my lunch most of the time.  In all, it will really make you think about where you food comes from and what you are feeding your kids.

Day 13

Finished the fitted.  Made it from an old t-shirt, some bad underwear, and some leftover bamboo french terry.  Had to get some hook and loop and elastic - total cost was under $3. Trying the fitted/fleece soaker combo on Izzy tonight. 

Meanwhile enjoying the thunderstorm.  Was going to go out for cookies or have some delivered from Insomnia, but no one should be out in this weather.  Enjoying graham crackers and peanut butter instead.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 12

Isabel and I made muffins for John:


They are blackberry applesauce spice muffins.  Nom.  Now we just have to wait for him to wake up.

And, as promised, below is a picture of the fleece covers I ran up.  I have yet to make a fitted to go under them.  Once I do, we'll see how they work for overnight.  There is a medium and a large -- I wasn't sure which one would fit better.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine..."

Often when it comes to stewardship I often find myself thinking in terms of 'mine'.  How do I use my talents to benefit others?  How do I share my treasure?  How can I be a better steward of my children?  All of this results in unintentionally self-centered thinking.  The world and my impact on it is put in a box, one that ends where I think what is mine ends.

In reality, nothing I 'own' is mine.  That's the point of stewardship.

Courtesy of Merriam-Webster:
steward1 : one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns (as the supervision of servants, collection of rents, and keeping of accounts): a fiscal agent4
a : an employee on a ship, airplane, bus, or train who manages the provisioning of food and attends passengersb : one appointed to supervise the provision and distribution of food and drink in an institution5
: one who actively directs affairs

None of these definitions say "owner".  So in fact all I 'have' does not belong to me -- not even my children.   Especially not my children.  Lets look at those questions again: 

How do I use God's talents to benefit others?  How do I share God's treasure?  How can I be a better steward of God's children?

Doesn't that open things up a lot more?  My world and what I can do is no longer limited by me and to me.  The one that strikes me the most today is the last one.  When I asked myself "How can I be a better steward of my children?" I was limited to my own children -- two adorable easy to love people.  But God's children?  That's everyone -- my husband, my parents, my brothers, my neighbors, the men lined up outside Oliver Gospel Mission, the annoying lady yelling into a cell phone at the doctor's office, rapists, that guy driving a Mercedes that cut me off last week -- lots of people that aren't so easy to love all the time (though the first three are indeed easy to love!).  And how about being their steward?  We know from Genesis never ask God "Am I my brother's keeper?"  You be in da dog house for that.

Sometimes its easy to know what to do, just not how to do it.  Our health *not so much* care system is a great example of one of the ways we fail as a nation to be good stewards of the least and the not so least among us.  More time and energy is spent devising and protecting methods to make money off of sick people than is spent actually making people well.  There are plenty of people who want to help their neighbor, I would like to believe, but more often than not money, red tape, and inaccessibility get in the way.  Someone has to pay for the tests, the medicines, and the surgeries.  The higher the profit margin, the more those things cost, and the less affordable they become.  Granted, people need to make some money, but there's a difference between making a killing and making a living.  As Lone Star (Spaceballs) would say, "Take only what you need to survive."  The result are low and low-middle income adults who are holding down a job, but still can't afford health insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid.  If these adults get seriously ill or injured, they are screwed. They end up becoming sub-productive members of society and fall further into poverty due to bills for medical care and/or becoming disabled because of the financial barriers to medical care.

This certainly isn't our only call in being good stewards of God's children.  It is a daily call -- one to treat others with respect, tenderness, and care, to help where and when we can, and to always put others first.

C'est en s'oubliant qu'on trouve.

PS: I totally just quoted the Bible and Spaceballs in the same post.  That just happened.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 10

Nothing much has been happening.  The hand washing is going well and I am waiting with anticipation the arrival of our Rockin Green soap.  John thinks I'm weird for getting excited about laundry detergent.  I've got some patterns for diapers floating in my head that involve worn out underwear.  Now I just have to find the time to sew.

My husband also bought me a rose the other day.  Sweetest man ever.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 8... ish

I think we've worked most of the kinks out of our wash routine, and I'm finally caught up on the diaper laundry.  John is getting ideas of grandeur -- now he wants to do all our laundry by hand.  While I admire his penny-pinching ways, we will have to see if we have the time.

Meanwhile I made two soakers tonight from Katrina's Pattern, one medium and one large.  The first one took a little over an hour to make, the second 45 minutes.  The best part was that I used an old fleece blanket that I'm not particularly fond of to make the soakers.  There will be plenty more soakers to follow since I still have lots of blanket left.  Total cost: $0.  My favorite price.

Prince Charming is cooing -- can't miss out on cute baby time.  Pictures to follow.  Of the soakers.  Possibly of the cooing one.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 7

I've done... 4 loads of diaper laundry with the hand washer?  Three or four.  So far so good.  Drying in the sun has definitely helped, along with adding some vinegar to the wash.  A tablespoon of our regular Arm and Hammer detergent has been almost too much -- it takes a few extra rinses to get rid of the bubbles.  I just ordered some Rockin' Green detergent and hope it will work out well.  I've already been impressed with the samples I got from the Great Cloth Diaper Change so I'm getting good vibes.

Bad news is the water-squeezer-outer didn't really work and was a PITA to operate.  I took a bucket and drilled holes in the bottom, then drilled holes in a lid that was too small to fit over the bucket.  I threaded rope through the holes, put the wet inserts in the bottom, then pulled on the rope to squeeze the inserts between the lid and the bottom of the bucket.  Labor intensive, blister producing, and poor results.
Back to the drawing board, or in this case,  I found this instructable for a Non-Electric Laundry Press.  So I took my wash bucket, set it in the smaller bucket I had drilled holes in, and sat on it.  Worked great and definitely easier on my hands.

The diapers still take about 12-24 hrs to dry.  Setting them out in the sun helps a lot, but with the storms recently... can't do it every day.

I'm still working on an overnight solution for Johnny meanwhile.  We have lots of extra T-shirts so I think I might make a T-shirt fitted with a pocket and a polar fleece cover.  Or, if I can find some wool at Goodwill I could use that.

Whoops... I guess this is now Day 8.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 5

Johnny and I took a trip back to Lowe's today to pick up a PVC-free plunger and a few other things.  I got an idea for a way to squeeze the water out of the inserts without tearing apart my hands!  It involves another, smaller bucket, rope, a lid, and power tools.  The last item makes it awesome.  It would have been more awesome had Lowe's still had the sparkley green buckets in stock.  

John and I put together the washing 'machine' and the water-squeezer-out-er today (Note to self: come up with a better name).  Right now I'm running them through their paces to figure out the best cleaning method.  Thankfully we have 5 days worth of diaper laundry to experiment on.  Yay?

Videos and pictures to following pending editing, splicing, and bettering by John.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 4

So there was supposed to be a Day 2 and a Day 3 post, but a storm knocked out the power at our apartment.  The top picture shows the baseball field behind our apartment during the storm.  The bottom picture is the same field, same camera settings while lightning wasn't flashing.  The power came on for a short bit, but then a transformer blew, adding some gorgeous orange and green to the night sky.  On the upside our apartment was blissfully quiet.  No A/C cutting on and off, no buzzing electronics.  I could see the fireflies in the parking lot (I didn't know we had any) and hear the water rushing in the creek nearby.

As I explained earlier the community washers in our apartment building suck in a bad way.  I sensed we had a problem when our dirty diapers were coming out with poo still attached.  I knew we had a problem when the build-up issues started.  I started cleaning the poo diapers before washing them and added a bath rub rinse to our wash cycle and things were still coming out dirty.  After visiting my mom and realizing we were paying $1.25 for the washers to move around a bit and ding, I decided I might as well take on the other two laundry cycles too and stop pouring money into a black hole.
I fielded this idea with John on Wednesday and his response: "I can work on my biceps for you".  Maybe I won't have to do diaper laundry anymore.
So Thursday the kids and I went on an adventure to Lowes to pick up all the ingredients per this instructional blog post at Dirty Diaper Laundry for a camp washer.  We opted for the deluxe version but got the plastic door sweeps instead of the hair-like ones (pictures to follow).  We also picked up a two-pack of plungers because it was the cheapest plunger option (yes, the two were cheaper than the cheapest one!).  Therefore we will experiment: does a plunger with holes in it clean diapers as well as a plunger without holes?
However, Thursday night when I was proudly showing off my haul I happened to read off the label under the recycling symbol on the bottom of the plunger.  "PVC... huh."  Then John's eyes got big "What?  PVC?  As in Polyvinylchloride?  You know that leaches dangerous chemicals?!  We are not cleaning diapers with that!"  So I did what all good researchers do: I Wiki'd it.  I couldn't find any definitive information about off-gassing, however burning PVC releases the chemicals often used to soften it.  I could tell the plunger had softeners in it and since we were planning on drilling holes in it I decided we'd better opt for something else.

So we're going to try to return the plungers and get some cheaper ones at Target.

Side note: the other thing that has been consuming my time this weekend has been my best friend's wedding.  I'm one of his groomspersons so many festivities have been involved.  Highlight by far has been the groomspersons gifts: engraved matching swords with which to defend the bride against anyone who should try to claim her for themselves.  Um.  Totally awesome.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30 Days for Change -- June

There are many things we'd like to change in our lives -- eating habits, energy consumption, exercise... the list goes on.  John and I have finally decided to do something about it all, Catholic Lent style.  Each month we will choose some aspect of our life to focus on, one specific lifestyle change we'd like to make, and we will make that change, starting with this month.
This month is diapers.  We've already started making the transition from disposables to cloth, but we can do more to green our diaper change routine.  We stocked up on gDiaper covers a couple months ago and made a few cloth inserts for ourselves.  They were not enough though for 2 kids for half a week.  I took advantage of my mom's serger last week and we now have 60 cloth inserts.  Yippee! (No pun intended, but I did lol at myself).
Downside of the visit to my parents' house: I found out the washers in the basement to our apartment complex are shams.  They just add water, shift things around, spin, add more water, spin again, then ding.  They don't actually clean anything like my mom's fabulous frontloader with the sanitizing, extra rinsing, stain cleaning, 2hr 13min cycle.  Since we can't fly to CA to do laundry twice a week I need to figure out some way to actually get our diapers clean.
Here are my goals for the month:

  • Switch completely to cloth inserts -- no more flushables at day or night, even when I'm feeling lazy :)
  • Devise a night time all-cloth solution for my supersoaker son
  • Switch to cloth wipes
  • Sort out our washing routine -- I feel an experiment with hand washing coming on