Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kieran's Eczema Ointment

this stuff is amazing. diaper rashes gone overnight (or a few nights if it's severe...also, probably not good for cloth dipes -- use a liner...well, i don't but i apply it very sparingly to only the affected areas...if thick slathering is necessary, i'll either put a paper towel in there or use a 'sposie). sore nipples, eczema (it's original intended purpose around here), zits, sunburn, chapped lips, bug bites, cuticles, cuts, scrapes. anything. you can use it very sparingly or slather it on.

this is sooooo simple (a little time-consuming, though, but you can make a big batch - fill several small containers - that will last for a year or two or three...i think i've only made it 2-3 times in 6 years).

you need:
- calendula (marigold) petals (in bulk herb section of HFS).
- olive oil (i use organic extra virgin)
- beeswax (craft store - candle section. i get the unrefined yellow stuff)'ll need to grate it - the finer the better.
- lavender and/or tea tree essential oils (i only use lavender b/c we're sensitive to tto, but both have antimicrobial properties)

put calendula petals in a pot, pour just enough olive oil to cover them. set on medium-low heat. as soon as the oil is hot, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. let cool to room temperature.

strain out petals, discard them. pour oil through coffee filter/funnel (into a mason jar).

okay, you have just made calendula-infused olive oil. (calendula has awesome skin-healing properties.)

next, take about the same amount of grated beeswax (packed lightly) as olive oil (cup for cup). i think i usually do about 1-1.5C of each, depending on how much oil i have.

melt the beeswax (also has awesome skin-healing properties). you can either do this in the microwave or a double-boiler-type situation on the stove.

mix melted wax with oil. stir (i use a tiny wire whisk). add essential oil(s). i add a lot, probably a teaspoon (~25 drops). it will start to turn whiteish as it cools, but don't let it get too cooled before you...

pour into containers; i have used old (cleaned out) ointment/cream jars, and baby food jars, etc.

when it sets (cools), it might have a kind of hard layer on top that you might have to pop your finger through. if you are OCD about consistency, you will painstakingly break up all lumps and make it all nice and smooth with a cheese spreader or something. if it's really too hard, you can re-melt it all and add more oil. way too soft, re-melt and add more wax. yes, it's a PITA if you don't get it perfect the first time, but it's worth it, since like i said, it will last you a looong time and i swear it heals anything on the skin.

have fun, and happy healing!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Conclusions from the Flats and Handwash Challenge

My answers to the exit survey (a lot of the questions did not offer an exact answer for me, so I had to choose the closest answer):


- I took this challenge because I wanted to prove handwashing is possible for low income families.

- I had never used flats before this challenge.

- One "newborn" participated (well, she's 6 months old, but not crawling yet, so...)

- The poop situation was "newborn/breastfed" (technically, she's an early eater, but just barely, so not enough to be considered "peanut butter poop" ;))

- Rashes: we did not have rashes before or during the challenge.


- How many? I said "20-24"

- What kind? 20 flour sack towels and a few Gerber Birdseye flats used as doublers for night time.

- I estimated that I spent "1-3 hours" (total) researching folds.
I perused different tutorials for a while a few times, experimented with folding, then tried out several folds on the baby in the weeks before the challenge began.

- The fold I used the most was ("other")the angel fold
...basically the pad fold with the top corners pulled out to make a poo pocket. :) However, I did have to make an adjustment to the rise of the dipe, which meant that there were only 6 layers in the very front, 12 right at her pee exit area :) and then about 4 layers at the back.

- The hardest part about using flats was "learning how to use them."

- Covers: I used "sized PUL covers" (Thirsties velcro, size medium)

- Accessory I feel is a must: "drying rack"
It was great to have a portable drying rack that I could hang the dipes on straight from where I was washing them (if desired) and then follow the sunlight around the yard if I needed to. (I would have said washboard if that had been an option, because I thought it was really great for scrubbing poo stains out.)

- Estimated value of my flats challenge stash: "$75-100"

$20 ..... 20 dipes (flour sack towels)
$44 ..... 4 Thirsties covers ($11/ea at Nicki's Diapers)
$20 ..... wooden drying rack (like this one)
$10 ..... washboard (new, from our local flea market...unable to find web link, sorry)
$94 ..... TOTAL

Ideally, I would suggest 25 dipes, 5 covers, and 2 drying racks, which would put start-up costs at $120...and this also does not account for wipes (mine are double-layer flannel, mostly handmade by me out of old receiving blankets, so essentially this could be "free"), and soap (both for wipe solutions and washing the dipes), but I guess people would already have some baby shampoo and laundry detergent on hand...


- My washing method: "sink with hands"
I washed in the kitchen sink the most times (as described here), but I did try the "bathtub with hands" method once, for the very last washing (described here).

- I disposed of solid waste by: "dunk and swish"
(Actually, there wasn't much solid waste, as baby is EBF'ed and having tiny tastes of solids now, but I pre-rinsed the poopy dipes in the bathroom sink to make it easier to scrub the stains off, and "dunk and swish" was the closest answer to that.)

- How hard was handwashing (scale of 1-5)? I said "3" because the actual handwashing wasn't difficult, in theory, but it was quite hard on my back.

- How time-consuming was handwashing (scale of 1-5)? I said "3" here too.
I found the washing/wringing/hanging to be quite time-consuming, but I tried to compare it to the involvement of resetting the washing machine, adding soaps and such, transferring to dryer, waiting and waiting and I figured it's not that much worse than machine-washing, just that it occurs in a more concentrated time frame.

- How clean were my diapers (scale of 1-5)? I said "5 - very clean."
Whatever minor staining I did not scrub off with soap and the washboard got sunned out while they were drying.

- I washed "whenever it was convenient and dried outside."
I did end up having to bring the racks in to finish drying after sunset a few times, and once, I had to dry inside the whole time because it was monsooning outside, heheh.

- The most difficult part of handwashing: "the physical effort" (with "the time commitment" being a close second).
As I have said before, I have a bad back. 'Nuff said.

- The least difficult part of handwashing: "getting the diapers clean." That was surprisingly easy.


- Do I think others could do this if they had to if they were given the proper education and tools? Absolutely!!!

- If I was in a washerless situation, would I do this full time? As much as possible.
(This is one of those things that I feel I can't answer in absolutes due to differing possible circumstances, like whether there is any money for back-up 'sposies, etc., because if there wasn't, I would definitely do this full time, but if there was...well, I might need to give my back a break every now and then.)

- The most surprising aspect of this challenge? That my diapers were clean!
I don't know why this was so surprising; I mean, everyone used to handwash everything and things got clean, duh. I guess I just figured it would take a lot more effort than it did to get them really puts into perspective how dependent we have become on modern technology, because really, a human can do a better job than a machine at many things (think: attention to detail ;)), getting stuff clean included.

- I washed "10+" flats at one time (once as many as 20! That was cutting it close!).
I think if I were to do this all the time (use flats, I mean, not the handwashing part), I would definitely not want to wait that long...I'd aim to wash every 1.5-2 days (tops), so that I would not be so anxious about things getting dry by the time I needed them (I was totally imagining having baby wear a regular kitchen towel if it got to that!). Luckily, flats dry fast. ;)

- It took my flats "2-3 hours" to dry.
In all honesty, I might have been able to answer "less than 2 hours," but I didn't pay that much attention to them and wasn't checking on them at regular intervals. I just waited several hours (probably 2-3), checked them, and they were dry. The times I had to bring them in because it got dark, or the time I had to dry them indoors completely, it may have taken slightly longer, but again, I don't really know...(apparently I'm lazy! LOL)

- I washed "2-3" covers at a time, which could be rather nerve-wracking since I only had 4 (my 5th cover was just a big wool soaker for use over the night diaper, was not terribly useful for anything else, since I couldn't find a fold that worked with pins/snappis that was useful, absorbancy-wise). I would have to carefully examine the covers before a washing to see which ones needed it most (e.g. ones that had gotten poo on them, which I carefully wiped off so they could be used again before washing time rolled around). Only once did I have to was 3 at once, and it was nerve-wracking.

- I approximated that it took my covers "3-5 hours" to dry.
The parts that took the longest to dry were the edge bindings and (especially) the front panel where the velcro is, as it is double-layered there. I imagine the Thirsties covers are among the fastest-drying PUL covers, though, as the inner layer is slick and not absorbent (unlike the Bummis covers, for example, which are very difficult to wipe out and reuse in the case of a major poo-splosion, and would, IMO, not be suitable for using in this type of [flats/handwash] situation).

- My favorite thing about the challenge: "storing flats" (i.e. seeing them neatly folded in a stack on the changing table shelves?).
I didn't really like this question's answer options (washing, folding, hanging); I wish it had an "other" fill-in-the-blank option, in which I would have said "The sense of good that I was doing, treading lightly on the Earth as well as our pocketbook." ;)

- My least favorite thing about the challenge: the handwashing (ahem, BAD BACK).

- Will I continue to use flats in my every day diaper rotation? Maybe.
There were many pros about using flats, including the ease of getting them clean due to being one layer, the natural material of the dipes (which to me would imply that stripping would rarely be needed), the low cost of flats, the versatility of items that can be used as flats (e.g. flour sack towels that I used, or flannel receiving blankets which can be acquired very easily, cheaply, or sometimes free if you have the right hook-up! I discussed this in this post).
On the other hand, I do enjoy the convenience and cuteness of my pockets (Fuzzibunz) and all-in-ones (Bumgenius), but don't particularly like the fact they are made entirely of synthetic materials, which make them hot and sweaty in the summertime (and not too Earth-friendly), and they need to be stripped a lot, due to residue build-ups and the resulting stinky smells (which I admittedly use bleach for, occasionally, depending on the severity of the stink). [Haha, in that last sentence I was talking about Earth-friendliness, then mentioned using bleach. Ha. I'm so paradoxical.] The stink, in fact, has in the past caused me to switch entirely to natural materials (cotton fitteds and wool soakers), but our house has been re-piped since then, and a filter installed, so our "bad water" issues are no more, making synthetic dipes possible to use again. At this point, I don't know what my diaper stash will look like when baby outgrows her current ones...0

And, last question (other than my personal comments, which I think I have addressed well enough in this post!):
Would you like more information about donating to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope, a foundation helping provide cloth diapers to those in need? I said YES!

Thank you so much to Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry for organizing this wonderful learning experience!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wrapping It Up: Day 7 of the Flats Challenge

Tomorrow morning I will be dumping diapers into the washing machine for the first time in over a week. WHEW. My back is killing me. I know that if I had to handwash in order to cloth diaper, I would. But man. Mother Nature blessed me with a slightly crooked spine, and that makes this kind of thing extra stressful and painful. I would probably have to experiment more with washing methods to figure out which is the least stressful on my back, as I only did the kitchen sink method (as described in the previous post), and then the bathtub just once (this last washing...which I waited waaay too long to do and ended up with 20 dipes to wash!). Regretfully, I didn't take any pictures of the bathtub method (sorry -- i know, bad blogger!), but I will describe it in detail below:

1. Dump out wet pail in tub to drain. Lean on pile of wet dipes to help squeeze out excess water (the poopy ones had been pre-rinsed in the sink prior to being thrown into the wet pail).

2. Plug drain and start hot water running, with lye soap bar sitting in the tub near the faucet. Place washboard in tub in scrubbing position. Separate the poopy dipes to one side of the washboard -- these will be soaped and scrubbed first to provide more suds for the rest of the stuff. (Trying not to over-soap again.) Shut off water when everything is covered (about 6" deep).

3. Soap the board and scrub each poopy diaper until all the poop is out. Do the same for poop-stained wipes, and nursing pads (not that they are poo-stained, just that I want to make sure they're extra clean). Stir everything together for a minute in the hot soapy water using large, wooden laundry paddle (I felt like I was sitting on the edge of a canoe, paddling the inside of it, heheh). Drain water, sweep everything to the end of the tub away from the drain, knead/press/squeeze out remaining water.

4. Replug drain, turn on warm water again. Fill to about 6" again, and shut off water. Stir with laundry paddle for a minute or two, lifting and dunking each dipe by hand. Drain water, sweep everything to the end of the tub away from the drain, kneed/press/squeeze out remaining water.

5. Repeat #4 for second rinse. After draining, wring each item thoroughly and toss into awaiting laundry basket.

6. Set up wooden racks outside, snap out each item (3x each per diaper -- woooo! the misting!) and drape over racks neatly.

I did this pretty late in the day and only had a few hours (or less) of sunshine left, so I had to bring them in and sit the racks under an A/C vent again. It was cutting it really close because I needed to have dipes dry by the time Brigit's bedtime rolled around (which is different every night, heheh). It ended up fine; the dipes were dry enough, and the covers were just slightly damp in the front velcro area, but she didn't seem to mind. :)


One thing I noticed during this last wash was that the dipes were feeling a little sticky as I wrung, snapped, and hung them up. I think there was a build-up of lye soap residue. I haven't seen any irritation on Baby's bum, nor any repelling, but I do usually use white vinegar in the first rinse cycle in my washer, so perhaps I should have been doing that with the handwashing as well. Oh well. I'm sure it'll come out in the wash (HA!) tomorrow. I mean, the fault can't be with the lye soap alone; it used to be the only option, and people still managed to cloth diaper (um...also the only option at the time ;)).

I do think that if handwashing dipes became an absolute necessity for me, I would not only do lots of experimenting to find the most back-friendly method, but I would most definitely employ some of my children, at least some of the time, to help. Hey, that's why people have lotsa kids...right??? Heeheehee...

Oh, and one more thing...I am seriously considering switching to flats!!! Like, full time! I am really impressed with them, and so thankful that this challenge introduced them to me! But, I will leave the details about that for my next post, in which I will publish my answers to the Challenge's exit survey. Stay tuned! :D

Friday, May 27, 2011

What I've Learned So Far...Day 5 of the "Flats and Handwashing Challenge"

This week has been interesting. As you may know, I am taking part in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Lots of experimenting (but perhaps not enough), lots of aching back muscles. I have found that the actual use of the flats has been no big deal. Sure, they hold less than my fancy dipes and thus have to be changed more often, but that's okay. Brigit is not used to not having a stay-dry liner, so she "asks" to be changed more often anyway. Always keeping us on our toes, that one!

My stash includes 20 (27"x28") flour sack towels (which I am essentially pad-folding with an angel wing poo-pocket), 4 medium Thirsties velcro covers, and a big wool soaker (handknit by me) for over the night diaper. (I am also adding a smaller pad-folded Gerber Flat (about 27"x24") inside the flour sack flat for overnight. No problems so far.) Yes, I am doing this overnight, too, even though the rules state that I don't have to. :D I realize that I could technically have one more regular cover and not count the soaker, but I already had 4 Thirsties covers and the snappi/pins thing just doesn't work well for us, so my ample supply of soakers and other pull-on covers (like these Dappi ones) was kind of useless this week. Incidentally, I am also including my flannel wipes and washable nursing pads in the handwashing. I chose to only use my Dr. Brown's nursing pads and none of my Milk Diapers (which I usually use overnight) because they are thicker and I was concerned about drying time, especially if I had no direct sunshine available (which in Florida, with random thunderstorms, you just never know), I worry about mildew from the humidity and too-long drying times.

This is the routine I've worked out so far (this may still change if I happen to wash again before the challenge ends):

Pail: wet (also serving as presoak). I'm pretty much keeping it in the bathtub, and running more and more water into it as the day goes on to make sure everything in there stays good and saturated. I've also discovered that it makes washing easier if I rinse the poopy ones in the sink (it's EBF poo, so, not too nasty). I squirt 5-6 squirts of half-diluted Biokleen Bac-Out over the mess a few times a day, too.

Wash: I am using my kitchen sink, old fashioned lye soap, and a washboard that I picked up for $10 at our local flea market. So...

1. Dump soaked dipes from pail into right side of sink to drain. Meanwhile, left side of sink is filling with hot water, with the bar of lye soap sitting on the bottom of the sink.

2. Squeeze pail/presoak water out of each individual item and plop it into the hot/soapy sink. Fish out the bar of soap, lather it up (as if washing my hands) then dunk bar and sudsy hands a few times, then place soap bar at the top of the washboard on the soap lip/shelf. Washboard is now perched legs-down in the sink.

3. Agitate the hot/soapy sink fulla dipes with a wooden cooking spoon. Start taking each piece and scrubbing on the washboard. Pee dipes are scrubbed very briefly, as the swishing and dunking in hot/soapy water seem fairly adequate for cleaning them. (I may skip the actual scrubbing of pee dipes next time, and stick to swish/stir/dunk.) Poopy dipes get spot treatment with soap, and extra washboard scrubbing until the poo stains are gone (taking much less work than I expected). As each piece is processed, it is re-dunked in the soapy water, wrung out, and plopped into the right sink (which has been filling with clear, cold water this whole time).

4. Drain left (hot/soapy) sink, spray out soap residue, etc., replug and fill with clear, cold water for second rinse. Swish/knead/stir the dipes in the first rinse water (right side sink). Take piece by piece, dunk, wring, and plop into second rinse sink.

5. Repeat #4 (except don't fill another sink with rinse water unless you used way too much soap originally -- don't ask how I know that :)). This time, wring extra well, and snap out a few times to get even more water out.

This pic would be my third rinse from day 1 when I used waaay too much soap. *blush*

6. Hang to dry on the wooden drying rack. I have two of them and ended up using both for today's wash, as I waited a little longer than before and the one rack was pretty crowded before anyway. Place rack in sunshine (not so today -- it started to storm just as I was finishing up the second my racks are blocking the entryway now, positioned under the A/C vent ;)).

Please pardon the naked 3-year-old in the background. LOL

The whole process takes 1-1.5 hrs and really hurts my back (remember, my spine is a chiropractor's challenge and is easily strained by moderate physical labor). That, and my baby inevitably started to fuss/whine/cry at some point during each washing session, when I would attempt to employ various older siblings to play with her and keep her happy for just a few more minutes... She did end up on my hip for a few stages of each washing session, which made it take that much longer. I know I could have put her on my back in the Ergo, but...well, I didn't. I was afraid the double strain on my back by wearing a 21 lb fatty on my back while hunching over the sink would end up forcing me to drop out of this challenge. :(

Like I said, I may be tweaking things a little more before Monday morning rolls around... (and PS - I might add more pics later ;))

"Big Families are the New Green" (Part 1)

These are my (rather long-winded) thoughts in response to this article.


Cars Count

I have often thought about how "efficient" it is that we cram 7 people into one vehicle on a regular basis. Sure, our 10-year-old minivan gets a measly 15mpg on average (city), but that's actually better per capita than a family of four driving a 45mpg hybrid (if my mental pseudo-math is correct). We do go places often, unlike the author of the article suggests. I try to get out of the house every day, even if only to the grocery store (and that, preferably with just one or two children in tow). We go to parks, homeschool events, the library, and playdates at friends' houses. And these things are located all over the metropolis, which isn't very green, perhaps, but at least our metropolis is relatively small compared to most -- the furthest we ever go is 30 minutes or less away from home, most being 5-15 minutes.

I have dreams of owning a Toyota Highlander Hybrid someday (seats 8 ;)), but that's like, what, $35,000? Not happening anytime soon. :/ My husband's car might not get much better gas mileage than our van, but he often fills it to capacity to go work out at the YMCA (while children play with friends in Childwatch). He drives to class at the college, yes. I have repeatedly considered becoming a one-car family, but just don't see how we could swing it without some major inconveniences. Not to mention that the resale value of our second car (9 years old) is pretty low, especially considering how many repairs it needs that we cannot afford on our current starving-student budget. The profits we would earn from its sale would not be worth it. Anyway, the point is that our big family makes the most of our vehicles. :)

Economy Size

Yes, it takes the same amount of electricity to light and cool (or heat, for a very brief part of the year) our home, no matter how many people inhabit it. We definitely use more water than most families, at least for laundry. I estimate that we have 10-15 loads of laundry to wash per week. We do have a "super capacity" washing machine, but it is an old-fashioned, lotsa water and agitator washer. We actually have an energy star certified washing machine in the garage that we purchased a few years back when hubby was working for Sears as a lawn and garden appliance repair technician (the job that he lost due to lay-offs in May 2009). We discovered, after 6 months of use, that this type of machine does not work for our needs right now. It does not get the job done for diapers or our children's filthy clothing. It will sit and collect dust in the garage until our current washer dies, or our children grow older and get less dirty, heh (and are all out of diapers). Either that, or we'll sell it...that's actually more likely.

As for bathing, that's another area where we are perhaps less than green. When the children were younger, we would combine their baths, to the point that it probably equaled an average-sized family's bathing habits. Nowadays, though, and perhaps this is just because it's Springtime and thus wonderful outside play weather, but the children are getting terribly dirty, and sometimes require 2 baths a day! Lately, before we can go anywhere, I have to do a wash face/hands/feet marathon with the children. Boy, do they love dirt. :D We still combine baths, though, and are now transitioning to showers often, which, with our low-flow shower heads, I'm hoping use less water than their "up to your belly-button" baths.

Then there's dishes. I think we only use about 1-1.5 dishwasher loads a day, but i'm sure we'd produce more if I cooked/baked from scratch more often (which would certainly be a greener choice, and is definitely a goal!).

~ To be continued... ~

Sunday, May 8, 2011

10 Things About Me...(and some thoughts on evil perfectionism)

I keep meaning to get on here and blog. I have sooo many ideas for things to blog about. I want to systematically document every "journey" I've taken toward every thing/value/philosophy in my life that I hold dear. My problem? I am a perfectionist. All of these articles I want to write will take time and thought. Those two things are hard to come by in my life. :) So, I rationalize, "I can't blog today because I won't have time to finish." (And I really hate not being able to finish something...I have what they call a "completion compulsion". And, of course, as I type this my baby is crying for me.....aaand, now we're NAK. :)) Well, that's gotta stop. I want to have a blog. I want to get these thoughts off my chest. I want to document my life. I love to write. I think I'm pretty damn good at it, too. And there's just something so very satisfying about clicking "publish post" and then seeing it in all its html glory. :D

So I have to get over it. I have to settle for less than my expectations. As my mother has said many times (and I have since made it my housework motto), "A half-assed job is better than none." So today, I am going to list (oooh, lists...I love lists) 10 things about me. And that's it. No long chapter for my biography today. So. Here goes...

- My family goes through at least 12 loads of laundry per week, and there's always a mountain of "miscellaneous" stuff in the laundry room.

- I'm a fantastic cook, but the (ahem) joy of cooking is greatly reduced by the necessity of it and my small, cluttered kitchen. I'm not so great with baking. :/

- I have been sewing since I was a little girl (making doll clothes with my grandmother), but I'd say I'm still at a beginner/intermediate level. Curves and gathers scare me. I need to conquer those fears. :P I do have a nice machine, though. Oooh, and I really want a serger.

- I looove emoticons. ;D

- I also love to type how I talk. So I am usually aware of any improper grammar/punctuation that I use....and I'm doing it for a reason. So there. :D

- I have a tendency to get really excited about an idea or project, then lose steam and abandon it. I could probably open a store with all my abandoned projects. I'm reeeeally hoping this blog does not become merchandise. (I think that, considering I have been blogging on and off for over 5 years already, we're probably safe. ;))

- I suffer from chronic back pain due to mild scoliosis that makes housework difficult and/or painful. This often makes me feel lazy and inadequate.

- I like to choose the lazy way of doing things. Like co-sleeping; I'm not going to get up a million times a night to feed and comfort my baby when I could do the same thing while lying half-asleep in my own cozy bed. And unschooling...who wants to deal with assignments or teach formal lessons on a regular basis? Not I, said the little red hen.

- My house is usually a mess, ranging from a simple mess to an O to the MG disaster. My children pretty much couldn't care less about the state of things, but it drives me batshit.

- I have known my husband since 6th grade. He thought I was gorgeous and I thought that was creepy. :) 10 years later, we finally got together...and the rest is history.

Is that 10 things already? Awesome. I'm done! Good night.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Flats and Handwashing Challenge! (and a tiny blog makeover)

I have taken some time this morning to make a lot of changes here on my blog in order to make it more...appropriate...for the public eye. I hid several posts that are very personal and/or FML-style venting. I want to be able to use this blog for positive things, more like recording the happy memories and successful accomplishments, as well as participating in all these fun blog events I keep seeing . (see this post.)

Example: The Flats and Handwashing Challenge. (Thank you to One Rich Mother for the heads up!) I have purchased 20 flour sack towels (about 27"x28") for a grand total of ~$20, and I'm gearing up to do this challenge, May 23rd-30th. The goal of the experiment is to prove that poor families who struggle to afford disposable diapers for their babies can save money (and help the earth!) by using cloth diapers, even if they have no washing machine. And as I have proven above, a modest stash of flat diapers can be purchase new for about the same cost as 2 weeks worth of name-brand disposables. Covers are a different story, though...I will be using self-made wool soakers and pull-on Dappi nylon covers that I already own. If one can knit, wool yarn for one soaker can be purchased for $4 on sale, and the Dappi covers are super cheap as far as decent covers go...but they do run big. I got all of mine here. I ended up using my Thirsties covers instead, because I rediscovered my hatred of Snappis.

The reason behind using flats is that they are the easiest to handwash, being only one layer of fabric (requiring less agitation than multi-layer diapers). Also, they are the easiest form of cloth diaper to come across, since all they are is a big square of cotton fabric, and anything from dish towels to t-shirts to receiving blankets can be used as such. Flannel receiving blankets, in fact, are typically 30"x30", which is the perfect size for a flat diaper, and such blankets are popular baby shower gifts that are practically useless after the first month or two of a baby's life. Therefore, they are cheap and easy to come by in thrift shops and garage sales (or a friend's attic ;)).

I am choosing to participate in this challenge to help contribute to the data collected to prove that cloth diapers are doable even on the tightest budget. Being poor is near and dear to my heart; I have been dirt broke multiple times in my adulthood, right now being one of those times (hubby is a full-time student, so our income consists of grants, loans, and other types of government assistance). I am thankful to already own a decent stash of CDs, and was even able to squeeze out the funds to purchase supplies for this challenge (and they weren't that much! I spent $30!).

I want to go to our local flea market and buy a washboard (~$10) to use during the challenge. I plan on using lye soap, too (which I already own). That way, I'm not only participating in the challenge, but I'm also getting to experience what it was like to wash diapers back in the pioneer days (an age with which I am thoroughly obsessed). :D I will be washing the dipes in my double kitchen sink with said washboard and lye soap. I'd originally planned to buy a washtub as well, in order to get the full pioneer experience, but then I realized that that would require hauling water, thanks. :)

And now, I am going to go throw all my new "flats" into the washer (gasp!) for a prepping. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

right now all i can think about.... how much shit my kids are going to talk about me to their friends and spouses when they grow up. i just have to be prepared for that i guess. "my mom is/was NUTS!" everyone talks shit about their mom, right? or maybe i'm hanging around with all the wrong people. maybe eventually i'll do enough right by them that the good will outweigh the bad in their memories.

and then i start to think about how much i wish that they won't have to struggle with mental illness. it is torture. i am in my own personal hell every day. i never know when a trigger will come up, or how well i'll deal with anything in particular. i'm such a bitch. and i feel selfish and guilty for not being able to "do it all". for depending unfairly on my husband to pick up my pieces, when he's not exactly in the best place either, mentally. i think the kids have driven us both crazy, and now there's no way out. that's how i feel right about now. i almost want him to go nuts because i'm going nuts so he can see what i've been going through all these years with his temper. you think i need help? look in the mirror first. we can get help together, how bout that?

these are the times when my mother's words come back and haunt me over and over. i shouldn't have had so many kids. i can't handle it. maybe she was right. well, mom, you should have done a better job preparing me for adulthood then, huh? see, there i go looking for someone to blame. people can always find ways to blame their parents. it's their fault, even if they didn't mean any harm. that's one more judgment i'll have to prepare myself for someday. i'm ruining my kids, despite "doing my best", but my best is piss poor. and they will be crazy motherfuckers too. and it's my fault. cuz i had too many kids. (and didn't finish college.) and they'll blame me. one way or another.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Florida Winters...

This winter has been unusually mild.  After a brief stint of freezing nights (as in, in the 20's) in December, we have had a January full of balmy days (in the 60's and even 70's!), which have allowed for lots of outside play time for the children, and knitting in the sunshine for mama (and baby ;)).  We have been going to Cofrin Nature Park every Tuesday (unless raining), and have enjoyed creek-stompin'.  Yesterday it was in the upper 50's, but that certainly didn't stop my little nature-lovers...

They spent a couple of hours stomping around, splashing, sieving for sharks' teeth, digging for clay, and wandering the brush nearby...totally absorbed in their exploratory "work". Ahhh, such sights make my heart swell. Most of the time, Brigit was snuggled up to my chest in the linen wrap I made.

I do so love how she's found her thumb.

And then, I found myself on a quiet walk through the woods with just my littlest babes, as the others were headed back to the creek and playground with a friend of mine and her two little ones. Sweet Connor sure does know how to slow me down to appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the natural world. Every 10 feet or so, he would say "Stop!" and yank on my hand to halt me. We would stand there and the wind in the trees, the birds, the very distant traffic. It was magical.

When the afternoon was over, the children were half-naked and freezing, so we packed up and went home...They are like different children when we are out of the house.

Today, well...I'm going to need a chill pill. They have been arguing non-stop. Deep breaths, Mama.