Monday, May 31, 2010

Encouraging words can mean so much

Lately I've been feeling a bit down. Feeling down that I don't have a real income, feeling down about my appearance, wondering if I'm doing the right things for my kids etc. It's all been sparked by lack of money, debt and comments by people. Lately i get the feeling from people that I am viewed as if I don't do anything or I don't do much anyway. I care for the 5 children, I homeschool, I clean the house etc. People will suggest I do this or that to earn money. I truthfully don't have the time. I wish I did. If I had the time for some kind of part-time job, perhaps I'd have the time to do more than throw my hair into a pony-tail on any given day or spend time on hobbies that I haven't much more than thought about in years or perhaps REALLY work out regularly so I could be in better shape. I'm even typing this while I help work on dinner with my husband. I just wish people realized that 5 young children and homeschooling is an enormous job in itself. I may not have an income, but I work.

Anyway, on the the encouraging words part... Yesterday we (meaning the 7 of us) had to run errands so we stopped at the deli to have lunch. While we were there 3 different older couples/groups made it a point to come and tell us how beautiful our family is and how very well behaved all of our children are. They really stressed how wonderful our kids are and told us how great of a job we're doing with them. One of the older men sat near us and he was conversing with me about the children. We talked about the homeschooling and all of the things involving how we are raising them. He told me how great it is that I'm home raising them and he was VERY supportive of me homeschooling them. He told me how him and his wife had homeschooled their son because of the lousy school system here, which is even worse now than it was back then. He was just SO encouraging and positive about everything I do. He also acknowledged on his own just how much work I do and how I must have endless things to do. Especially because the task of homeschooling is solely on me. This man has NO IDEA how much his encouragement means to me. We are always complimented on how well behaved the kids are, but rarely do I get that kind of encouragement about staying home, homeschooling etc. He made me feel good about what I'm doing. I needed it and I appreciate it so much.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Took some pictures on this lazy Saturday!

I don't have much to blog about right now, so I'll share a few pictures I took today of Annabella in her Nifty Nappy Cloth Diapers. I took them for a contest the maker of Nifty Nappy is doing. I don't know if they are good enough, but they are cute anyway lol.






Monday, May 24, 2010

Regarding Better Homes and Gardens

Hey there folks! Today, after I posted my "Fired Up" vent about the very distasteful article written by Heather W. at Better Homes and Gardens, I posted some comments (maybe some not so nice) as well as a link to my blog on BHG's Facebook page. Better Homes and Garden's apologized, took feedback from real mothers and published a much more positive and encouraging article with helpful tips. Here is the article http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/dining-out-with-small-children-8-sanity-savers-from-real-moms-1526173/ . I don't find it particularly helpful, but that's because I have my own methods that work great for my family, but that's neither here nor there. Along with that, the Assistant Editor Joanna Linberg also commented and apologized on my blog! I have the comment quoted below.



Hi, Sarah,


I'm commenting to let you know we read your post and the comments. You're right--the post was entirely inappropriate and should not have been published. Our official statement is here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/better-homes-and-gardens/statement-on-shine-story/397816569478


And our new story, based on tips real moms gave us on our Facebook page is here: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/dining-out-with-small-children-8-sanity-savers-from-real-moms-1526173/


Again, we are so sorry for posting this and that you were offended.


Best,
Joanna


Joanna Linberg
Assistant Editor
Better Homes and Gardens

I must say, the action that Better Homes and Gardens took today, has greatly effected and improved my feelings toward them. They made me feel like they do care about how offensive and even hurtful, that article was to so many. Now I'd just like to see the Author of the distasteful article, Heather W. issue some sort of apology. Stating your opinion is one thing, but putting it out there as a directive or a must, is inappropriate and offensive. That was made pretty clear with the uproar her distasteful and offensive article caused the past 2 days.

So, kudos to you Better Homes and Gardens!

Fired Up!

A friend of mine tweeted this article with the 10 Commandments Of Dining with Little Kids (By Heather W. at Better Homes and Gardens), to me yesterday. I was so fired up when I came across "commandment" #4, I could have just torn the author apart. So here I am, sharing the article and venting my disgust.




THOU SHALT NOT BLOCK TRAFFIC WITH BULKY STROLLERS
Strollers have begun to overtake cars and wristwatches as conspicuous status symbols. You may be proud of your double-wide Maclaren, but be sure not to leave it jutting out in a place where waiters and other patrons might trip over in transit.


THOU SHALT NOT ORDER A 10-COURSE TASTING MENU WITH KIDS UNDER 10
Kids, as we all know, have kid-sized attention spans. Attempting to make them sit still while you enjoy a world-renowned chef’s esoteric, glacially-paced tasting menu isn’t going to be a pleasant experience for anyone.


THOU SHALT NOT TREAT YOUR SERVER LIKE A SITTER

Your server is there to accommodate you, but customer service has its limits. While most waiters are happy to engage and amuse your little one, it's bad form to delegate your child-minding duties to the person taking your sea bass order.


THOU SHALT NOT BREAST FEED AT THE TABLE
Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!)



THOU SHALL FEEL FREE TO ORDER "KID FOOD" OFF THE MENU
Most restaurants are happy to provide kid-friendly cuisine, so don’t hesitate to ask, just keep in mind you may experience sticker shock (e.g., $23 for pasta with butter)


THOU SHALL NOT TURN DINNER INTO A PHOTOSHOOT
It’s exciting to see your little one all dressed up at the table, and special occasions and birthdays are naturally conducive to photos, but overzealous documentation with flash photography, flip-cams, and camcorders can be distracting to fellow diners.


THOU SHALT NOT BRING NOISY TOYS
It’s wise to bring a few of your kid’s favorite toys for their amusement but try not to bring excessively loud games and bleep-blooping electronic toys -- or at least be sure there’s a volume-off button.
.

THOU SHALL TRY TO QUELL HIGH-PITCHED SCREAMING
Unexpected tantrums and outbursts are a fact of life, but when a parent sits stoically as their child screams without any intervention, the mood of the room can quickly turn from convivial to incredulous to profoundly irritated.


THOU SHALT NOT ALLOW FREE-RANGE KIDS
When you let your child run free in the restaurant, it’s not only disruptive to other diners, but it could be a safety hazard: Restaurants are full of hot plates and sharp cutlery, and kids underfoot could cause a major disaster.
.

THOU SHALL CALMLY DISCOURAGE FOOD FIGHTS
Ah, the food fight. The epitome of fun at summer camp and grade school cafeterias -- less so at Michelin-starred eateries. If the food starts flying, quietly and firmly put an end to it.

Breastfeed in the RESTROOM? Are you kidding me??? Hey, Heather W. at Better Homes and Gardens, quit being an ignorant, insensitive douche. Do you know what breastfeeding is? It's EATING. Would you like to go sit on the toilet in the restroom and eat your meal? I don't give a flip how clean the restroom may appear, it is still loaded with dangerous bacteria on all surfaces. Never mind the fact that breastfeeding in a restroom is uncomfortable for the mother for several reasons, it's exposing the baby, who has an immature immune system to even more harmful bacteria than it's already been exposed to just being out in public.

Why are people so horrified by breastfeeding??? It's natural, it's healthy, it's not dirty, it's not gross... I just don't get it. This country is so oversexualized that the simple act of naturally feeding your baby is offensive to so many people. In other countries people don't even bat an eyelash at the sight of a woman breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the best option for babies when it's possible for the mother to do it, so why make breastfeeding mothers so uncomfortable? Why turn it into something shameful or dirty? Why turn it into something to hide? Breastfeeding has so many health benefits for the child, both long and short term. Breastfeeding has shown to improve IQ and reduce illnesses. It has even shown to reduce the risk of obesity as they grow older! Obesity is an epidemic in America and breastfeeding could possibly help with that! I think perhaps the author of the article may have some self image issues she needs to deal with.



Now that I have that out of the way... The rest I do agree with to some degree (well for the most part, the author obviously isn't a fan of children in restaurants at all, despite what she said and the whole article was done in poor taste). I have 5 children and we have peaceful meals at restaurants regularly. We aren't going to 4 and 5 star restaurants, but we're going to nice sit down establishments, NOT McDonalds. My children know how they are expected to behave in public and they do it. They would not even think to run around, throw food, yell (or even speak loudly for that matter) or otherwise misbehave. They just know better and I'm not speaking about older children here, I'm speaking about young children and toddlers. We are complimented on their behavior every single time we go anywhere with them at all. Even with having 5 children of my own, I can not stand to be around families with unruly children when we're trying to eat or even shop for that matter. Pretty much everywhere we go, around here especially, there are children running wild throguh stores, bumping into people etc. This is not just "how children behave", this is parents not taking responsibility and teaching their children how to act appropriately in public.


So with that, all of you breastfeeding mothers out there, be proud of what you're doing for your children. Don't let anyone shame you or make you feel uncomfortable for feeding your child. Don't feel as if you have to hide in a restroom while feeding your child as to not offend people. We have the right to feed our children where we are comfortable and our children have the right to eat when they are hungry. We are not in the wrong here.


Heather W. at Better Homes and Gardens, I think you would probably be better off, as a person with no children, NOT giving advice on how to parent.




WELL... it was brought to my attention that in the time since I published my blog entry, they have removed the 4th commandment and changed it to the 9 commandments. Good thing I took screenshots of it huh? :)







Monday, May 17, 2010

The Cloth Diaper Breakdown

I've had several people ask me various questions about cloth diapers, what the differences are between types, how to use them etc. So I'm going to take the time to break it down here. I'm by no means any kind of expert, but I've used them, I've done research and I talk to people about them all of the time!

At first it can feel a little intimidating, but fear not! It's really pretty simple!


Lets start with the different types of cloth diapers and what they are.

Diapers

Fitted: Fitted cloth diapers are shaped and contoured like a diaper and usually have a velcro or snap closure (SOME do however require a fastener like a pin or snappie). They do not have a waterproof or PUL (polyurethane laminate) outer layer so this type of diaper requires a cover in addition to the fitted portion.

Pre-fold: Pre-fold cloth diapers are an absorbent material folded and sewn with an absorbent center. This type of diaper requires some folding and fastening with a diaper pin or snappie. They also require a cover. This is a more inexpensive cloth diapering option and is what comes to mind when you think of cloth diapering many years ago.

(AIO) All-in-one: All-in-one cloth diapers are the most simple and easiest cloth diapering option. I always say that they are as easy as a disposable, you just wash it instead of throw it away. They are shaped and contoured like a diaper with a PUL (polyurethane laminate) outer layer and either a snap or aplix (velcro) closure. The absorbent inner layer or soaker/insert is attached inside, making the diaper exactly what it's called, All in one. They are a 1-step diaper. No folding, pinning, stuffing or covers. Some brands the soaker is sewn between the inner and outer layer and others it is sewn on top of the inner layer to improve drying time. That is one downfall of this type, longer drying times.

Pocket: Pocket cloth diapers are much like the all-in-one with 1 distinct difference, The absorbent inner layer/soaker slides into the "pocket" which is between the PUL (polyurethane laminate) outer layer and the inner layer. You pull the soaker out before washing the diaper for better cleaning and faster drying. Like the AIO, pockets do not require a cover and they have either snap or aplix (velcro) closures. These are sometimes known as AI2 as well.

Each type have their pros and cons. Fit, lifestyle, convenience, body shape etc. all play a factor is which type is the best option. You just have to look at all options and decide which fits your lifestyle best. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to see what you prefer.


When you hear or see someone speak of "doublers" They are talking about extra inserts for added absorbency.

Microfiber and Bamboo are 2 common types of inserts/liners/soakers/pee soaker uppers (whichever term you want to use). Microfiber dries quickly. Bamboo is known to be more absorbent.


A quick description of the different closure options.
Snaps: They are just that, snaps or "buttons".
Aplix: Velcro
Diaper Pins: Again, self explanitory.
Snappies: T-shaped rubber that stretches to each side and down the center to fasten the diaper closed.

Now that we have the different types out of the way, lets talk about Sized and (OS) One Size diapers.

Sized is pretty straight forward. You get the size your child needs for their height and weight.

Many brands of all diapers types offer a One Size option. One Size are adjustable and depending on the brand, most can fit from newborn until potty training. Depending on the brand, they adjust in one of three different ways. Snaps, elastic or folding. Size range depends on the brand.

With snaps the adjustability is in the rise and it can be raised or lowered to whichever size your baby needs. Snap adjustable rise is the most common.

With elastic there are little buttons to loosen or tighten the elastic in the legs and waist (think adjustable waist pants for kids).

Aaaaaaand folding, it's pretty self explanitory. The rise is folded to the height it is needed at.


Both options have their pros and cons.

A pro of sized is they are more trim. A con is that they do not grow with your baby so you will need to buy additional diapers as your baby grows.

A pro of OS is they grow with your baby saving you from having to purchase additional diapers as your baby grows. A con is they are a little more bulky.



Diaper Covers

There are several options when it comes to covers (which you'll need with fitteds or pre-folds).

Plastic pants: They are exactly that, plastic. Inexpensive with elastic at the legs and waist.

Fleece Covers: Breathable, but not waterproof so they need to be washed almost as often as the diaper it's covering.

Wool Covers: Breathable and soft. Only need to be washed once a month give or take as long as they are not soiled. For the longest use, they can be lanolized. I am still learning about this process myself, so I'll put in a link for this :). These have a whole bunch of options. http://www.diaperpin.com/clothdiapers/article_howtolanolizewool.asp

Soakers: Pull on like underwear
Wraps: Snap or velcro closure
Longies: Pants. So they are the cover and clothing at the same time.
Shorties: Like capri's. These are also the cover and clothing at the same time.
Skirties: Skirts. They are like the soakers with a skirt attached and again, are the cover and clothing at the same time.

PUL (polyurethane laminate) Covers: Probably the most common cover available and come in snap or aplix (velcro) closures. They can also be found in (OS) One Size.




Washing and Detergents and Opinions... Oh My!

If you think picking what type of diaper is right for you and your baby is tough!? This is where things can get messy! Only if you let it though ;). You know the saying "Opinions are like A..." you know where I'm going with this.... Everyone has their own opinion about this subject. Some opinions are educated, some, not so much. I'd like to think mine falls somewhere in the middle. I've done enough research to say that I wont use free and clear detergents even though some other people say they are fine. I believe even some cloth diaper brands say they are, where as some other brands specifically state they are not. What it really comes down to is personal preference, but one thing to remember is regular detergents will cause build-up and build-up will result in diapers that don't absorb properly and stink. I don't know about you, but I don't really want leaky, smelly diapers. Many people I know as well as myself are partial to Rockin' Green (Not being compensated for this plug LOL). So far, of the brands I've used, our cloth diapers have come out the best with it.

As far as washing goes. I can just say at the very least you want to rinse before you wash, wash and rinse afterwards. Everyone finds a washing routine that works for them, from how often to which cycles they prefer. This very much varies depending on how often you wash, what type of diapers you have, what kind of water you have, what detergent you use and what kind of machine you have.


As far as MY routine goes... I rinse poop diapers with my diaper sprayer before placing it into the trash can that I keep all of the dirty diapers in. Just an inexpensive small - medium sized white trash can from Target. I do a diaper load about every other day (depends on how many poop diapers I have sitting there really). I do a double cold rinse before the wash. A hot/cold wash and an extra rinse and then another cold rinse afterwards. I typically dry the diapers in the dryer, but dry them outside in the sun when there are any stains or discoloration. You have NO IDEA how powerful putting them in the sun just for a couple hours is! It really takes the stains out. Really. I also use wool dryer balls to cut down on drying time.

Oh and something to keep in mind because some people don't even think about it. You should not use regular diaper rash cream or powder when cloth diapering. But along with that, with cloth diapers, for many people there is never or almost never a need for it since there are not chemicals against your baby all day from disposables. I keep some California Baby Rash Cream around just in case. It's fine when used sparingly.

Cloth Diapering Accessories

The accessories you may want to get is entirely personal preference. Off the top of my head here is a list of some accessories.

Diaper Sprayer: There are many different types and brands. I have a Sigma brand sprayer bought new on ebay for $23. Works great.

Cloth wipes: Wipes can be anything from wash cloths to scraps of fleece. You can buy actual "cloth diaper wipes", but they are usually more expensive. I have a variety of different things myself.

Cloth Wipe Solution: This can be bought or made yourself. I personally use Lil' Outlaws Rump Solutions stars. She has great scents. I use a little spray bottle and spray my cloth wipes :).

Liners: They are disposable liners you can buy to lay into the diapers to help with poop disposal. I do not personally use them.

Wet Bags: Bags that are usually lined with antimicrobial water proof material. They come in various sizes They are excellent to have when you go out to put the dirty diapers in and have it not leak onto anything.



I hope this has been helpful!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The significance of a blanket

I was thinking about some things yesterday and I really started thinking about the military lifestyle and how it effects kids. We move around a lot. Some bases are nice, some are not. Some places the cost of living is affordable so we can have a nicer place to live, others it's higher and it's harder to have a nice place. It's hard for us as adults, but even more for the children. They leave behind their friends, their favorite park to play at, the house the have grown attached to... they just leave behind so much every time, just like us adults do.

It occurred to me that some people just may not realize the significance of little things that don't go away with the moves, even for older kids, not just babies. Pets, toys, blankets.... This brings me to the meaning of the title of this entry. The Significance of a blanket. Blankets are one thing that every one of my kids have taken an attachment to. Not in the sense that they take them everywhere with them on a daily basis, but they sleep with the same blanket every night and when we take trips or move, those blankets are attached to them like a limb in the vehicle and stay that way until we're home or at our new home. I hadn't put much thought into it until recently when I noticed that my boys blankets really needed to be replaced because they are falling apart.

When I talked to the boys they were very hesitant to let me do anything with the blankets and I didn't really understand why until I stepped back and looked at it from their point of view. These blankets have made 2 big moves with them. Those blankets were by their sides from Virginia to Maine and from Maine to South Carolina. They slept with them during the drives, hotel stays, storms etc. That's when I realized, those blankets aren't just a blanket, they are their friends who never leave them. They are their comfort when they don't feel good, when they are tired and when they are cold. They are cloaks, islands, tents, life rafts.... they have been so many things in their imaginations over the years. They are just so much more than a blanket. In a year we'll be moving once again, this time leaving behind the first home we've owned, leaving behind the big fenced in backyard with the big playset they love, leaving behind their bedrooms and their playroom, leaving behind the "train" park. They are already a little sad knowing that the best house with the best yard that we've ever lived in will soon be another thing in our past on this journey.

I decided that since their blankets have been so important to them, that I'd get them new blankets while we're still here. New blankets to make memories with in this home, to take with us when we go. I wanted them to be special this time, so I let them choose the prints and colors that their new handmade blankets would be made out of. They were a little expensive, yes. But to get them something so special to them, that is something so simple, it was a small expense for the memories they will make with them. There are so many tents, forts and imaginative things to come out of 5 simple handmade blankets. Maybe it sounds silly to some, but it makes so much sense to me.

This my friends, is the significance of a blanket.




I love them with everything I have :)

The blankets were made by rockerbyebaby.etsy.com

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Annabella is 6 months old today

It makes me so sad how fast everything is going. Annabella is 6 months old today and I just can't believe it. She is doing so much and she's getting more and more beautiful every day! I really love being a mom so much. All 5 of my children are my everything.

Here are some pictures I took just a little while ago of my little-big girl!








Monday, May 3, 2010

RockerByeBaby is awesome

I really love this girl. She has a great store and is just a really cool chick. Check out her store!http://www.etsy.com/shop/RockerByeBaby She has made all of the awesome blankets I have for the kids! She also does an array of other things, so take a look!

She also blogged about me and the business she's gotten from me. Bragging maybe? She has every right too! http://punkrockerbyebaby.blogspot.com/2010/05/minky-heaven.html

Amber really is great at what she does. Quality work for sure! Super cute stuff too!


She has made my favorite baby blankets ever!



Sunday, May 2, 2010

BumGenius Organic All In One/One Size Cloth Diaper Review

I'll admit, when I first tried this cloth diaper, I only ordered 1 because I thought I'd hate it. I read a lot of complaints about how long they take to dry and a few other little things.

After using it for a couple of weeks now, I must say I actually really like it! In fact, after the first week I ordered 6 more I loved it so much. Considering I have 5 kids, I like the convenience of the All In One and so far it seams to absorb very well. I have not had any real issues with leaks and it has contained a couple of really good poop-splosions. One other aspect of this diaper that I really like is the fact that it's pretty trim. Gracie is a tiny little thing and it fits her very nicely, where as the one size pocket diapers (Rumparooz and Blueberry) we have are still quite bulky on her right now at 6 months old. You have to expect some degree of bulk when you're talking about a one size diaper, it's really unavoidable, BUT these BG Organic's are noticeably less bulky.

A couple of things I'd love to see different about these diapers, is maybe some kind of gussets to help contain poop messes more effectively or for them to make snap in soakers so you can remove them for quicker drying. They do take longer to dry like many other reviewers have stated about them, but it's not near as much of a hassle as some have made it out to be. For ME the nice trim fit we get on our small baby is worth the slightly longer drying time. These are excellent for daycares/childcare providers and dads :).

So all in all, I think these are a great diaper. They have some room for small improvements, but so do most. Trim fit. Absorbs well. I give this diaper a 4.5 out of 5.


In a few months I'll do an updated review on how they have held up and all of that fun stuff.






She loves her cloth diapers! ;)

Lactation Boosting Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Flaxseed Cookies!

I was given this recipe by a friend. They taste AWESOME, have some pretty good nutrition in them (for a cookie anyway lol) and I actually saw an increase in my milk supply overnight. I thought I'd share the recipe! They are good for everyone, not just breastfeeding women of course :).






Housepoet's Famous Lactation Boosting Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip & Flaxseed cookies (created by Noel Pickett)

Ingredients :
1 cup butter or marg
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal*
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats, thick cut if you can get them
1 cup or more chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of brewers yeast* (be generous)

Directions:

Preheat oven at 375 degrees F. Mix together 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal and water, set aside for 3-5 minutes. Cream (beat well) margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mix well. Stir flaxseed mixture and add with vanilla to the margarine mix. Beat until blended. Sift together dry ingredients, except oats and chips. Add to margarine mixture. Stir in oats then chips. Scoop or drop onto baking sheet, preferably lined with parchment or silpat. The dough is a little crumbly, so it helps to use a scoop.

Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on size of cookies.

Serves: 6 dozen cookies

Preparation time: 15 minutes



Now for ME... I got 3 dozen out of this recipe with the size cookies I made, not 6 :).

One other thing to note is, the brewers yeast may not be readily available at your regular grocery store, but is easy to find at a health food store or even GNC.