Thursday, August 16, 2012

A day in life without photos

Most days, I am without a doubt glued to some kind of image-capturing device. Whether it's my smart phone, digital camera, or anything else we have in the house, I usually snap at least one photo of any of my favorite subjects (which my friends on twitter or instagram will attest that it's either food or my son, usually the latter). Today was not one of those day. Today, my camera was on my desk at home and my iPhone was tucked away in my purse while Daniel and I enjoyed the company of my mom's visit.

We enjoyed a much-welcome break in the heat wave we've been experiencing throughout Southern California and visited a local mall for lunch and some light shopping. She bought Daniel two adorable new outfits for when he fits 12 months and wanted to buy me an outfit too... I just couldn't bring myself to let her. Not that I didn't want the new clothes, because God KNOWS I do. I've just been feeling so blah about myself lately and I want to change that. Physically, I'm not where I want to be post-baby and I'm not ready to buy any new clothes for this body I'm not happy with. I did let her buy me a few things from a couple local Asian markets (food and such) and we ran into our old manager and assistant manager from the San Diego store she works for and I used to work for. Our old manager is now the DM for Los Angeles while the assistant manager is now the head honcho at the store we went to today. Manager met the baby a couple times since we've seen him around, but DM met him for the first time (and truthfully, I haven't seen him since I quit 7 years ago). As strange as it is knowing my mom is a grandmother, he said it's even weirder to know that I'm a mother now. Ha! He then proceeded to fill my son's precious ears with such blasphemous ideas, such as giving me attitude like I had when I was a 20 year old. Psh.

Hahaha. What an interesting day it turned out to be with that reunion.

When we got back to the humble abode, we just enjoyed watching Daniel have a happy day, smile and laugh and basically be the most adorable human being on the planet. I was supposed to go to San Diego with her tonight to spend some time with my family while Gary is away... until she found mold growing on the wall in the back of the cabinet next to the dishwasher this morning. Half of the kitchen is on the living room floor, where my brother would have slept while Daniel and I snoozed in the guest room he's currently occupying. Plus, a construction zone with potentially harmful mold spores floating around is no place for a 9 month old.

Photo courtesy of my brother's Facebook
I'm hoping that is fixed by next weekend, so we can visit them like I wanted to. I'm looking forward to my good friend Stacy's gender reveal baby shower, I'm rooting Team Blue hardcore but would welcome another future girlfriend for Daniel if that's the case! Haha! (just kidding, Stacy!!!) I have several things to share with her, including a modest stash of prefolds I'll be lending her until my next baby go-round, as well as a test drive of our small collection of baby carriers. It's always nice to be able to touch and feel and see a product before you actually purchase something. I think this is especially true for quality baby carriers, as they're usually an investment.

And with that, I turn off my music-fueled me time to join my sweet prince in our family bed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen: Nutella Mug Cake

Gary is away on business and baby is down for the night, so I decided to experiment a little bit in the kitchen to kill some time and satisfy my craving need for something sweet. I googled a recipe for Nutella mug cake, as I have Nutella on hand and know that you can use apple sauce instead of egg or oil in sweet baked treats. I typically have tons of unsweetened apple sauce on hand, as I make it home made for Daniel.

One mug (one of my favorites, a gift from a friend when I was going through a rough spot a few years back), less than 10 ingredients, 5 minutes or so to single-serving bliss. I omitted the cocoa but added peanut butter, should have thought about tweaking the dry ingredients and amount of olive oil I used but hey, we're experimenting remember?

So I mixed the wet and dry ingredients separately, popped it in the microwave for a few minutes, wished it luck and despite the intense heat the little cup of cake "batter" endured, so hot it did not do:


Oh yeah. Still raw, a term I use loosely since there aren't any raw ingredients in this besides the milk. I proceeded to eat it as-is, mixing it into this delightfully messy, gooey mass of sweet goodness, but I got to thinking, maybe I can rectify this none-cake? So I cut the batch into two 8 ounce tea cups, added a tablespoon and a half of flour to each cup, one ice-cube size amount of apple sauce to each and zapped it.

Eureka! Cake!...? I took one tiny nibble and it's grainy, duh, I already partially cooked it once. My name may be Julia, but my last name is not Childs.

Verdict: INCREDIBLE taste, potential for greatness and I am definitely trying this again. But after working on it for an hour for naught, I have come to one single conclusion...

This was way easier.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

FuzziBunz and Beyond: Our Cloth Diaper Story

 I wish I could remember just how it came to be that Gary and I decided that cloth diapering was something we wanted to do in our family. I'll have to ask him about it. All I remember is that it was a discussion we had when we were in the very beginning of our pregnancy, Gary was still living abroad and we had no idea if he was coming here or if I was going there. We had not a thing to our son's name yet, just dreams and hopes. How things have changed in a year!

In the week or two prior to the start of my maternity leave shortly before I went into labor, I was showered with gifts of all kinds from my previous coworkers, including a beautiful stash of 6 FuzziBunz Elite one-size diapers in the most beautiful jewel tones I've ever seen or thought possible to be on a diaper. Light It Up Blue, Spearmint, Apple Green, Mac N Cheese, Kumquat, Watermelon, a beautiful rainbow of PUL and soft inner fleece lining. I was so excited to try these out on my little boy's tush! I stored them until I needed them...
Apple Green, by far my favorite color

And then, my son was born. He pooped, and pooped, and then pooped some more. It wasn't a normal day if we didn't change a poopy diaper at least every 2 to 3 hours; his little digestive system was a conveyer belt of breast milk in, poop out and unlike a Nike factory, there are no lights out/let's go home. So we changed poopy diapers at 2 am, too. The only thing that got me through those first few months of constant poop is how I reminded myself that this, too, is normal. When your stomach is the size of an M&M, you'd poop a million times a day too.

My mother insisted that I use disposable diapers and even went as far as to buy them for us. Every two weeks, she brought us two new HUGE packages of Pampers Baby Dry and in two weeks time, we'd use all of them. I was thankful, SO thankful because I couldn't imagine doing diaper laundry of that magnitude with how completely overwhelmed I was. It seemed like the ultimate impossible task. I held onto the hope that some day soon, my little poop factory would slow down in the excrement department. Finally, around 10 weeks or so old, his pooping noticeably slowed down and by 3 months, he was down to one poop every day or two. I was SO happy because I realized this is it, I can finally use my treasure trove of butt covers!

With our then-recent relocation to a new town over an hour away from my parents, I told my mom to save that diaper money and use it to buy gas so she can come see us. I unwrapped my precious gems and was baffled: what are all these little elastic straps? What are these buttons? (I'm one of those people who sets up first, reads the directions later...) The FuzziBunz One-Size diaper has this ingenius sizing system that lets you tailor the diaper to exactly the right size based on estimate weight and age of your child. But therein lies the initial learning curve of FB diaper sizing: Daniel has and continues to weigh in well above his peers and at that time, he was in the 90th percentile. When I tried the diaper on him for the first time, I was shocked at how tight it was and even more shocked at the red marks the diapers left on his waist. Yikes! Too tight. So a bit of patience in figuring out the perfect fit for your kid is very, very necessary, unless you want to be like me and panic at the fear of constricting blood flow to the very butt you're trying to cover.

We figured out how to size Daniel's diapers and now we're good and happy... until I have a leak after just a over an hour. What?! Why!? After a bit of research I learn that many happy cloth diaper mommies use multiple liners and that liners increase absorbency as you continue to wash and use them. PHEW. Ok. Two liners, which is nice because that's exactly what each FuzziBunz comes with. And after the initial wake-up leaks, we've increased the liners to 3 at night. At this point, it is a rare and surprising event when we wake up with a leak because FuzziBunz are just that. good. 

The first time I changed his cloth diaper, I was a bit perplexed - how do I know when it needs to be changed? Disposable diapers change colors when they are wet, or you can see the gel inside expand and create that signature full diaper look. Cloth diapers, not so much. I even went so far as to touch the inner fleece liner, noticing it wasn't wet at all. Only after taking out the liners from the pocket did I realize they were wet. Wow! FuzziBunz is NOT joking when they say their product wicks moisture away from sweet baby's bottom, because it really does! LOVE this!

With Daniel being a bit older now, I've decided to try a different night time diaper method; a Bamboozle fitted diaper, made of bamboo with Aplix closure, and a waterproof diaper cover. I went with Thirsties Duo with snaps, but I may be tempted to try a wool cover sometime down the line, if this method works for us.
TotsBots Bamboozle bamboo fitted diaper, size 2 with Aplix closure
Thirsties Duo Wrap with snaps, in Owl.

All in all, I am really glad that my first cloth diaper experience was relatively pain free once I got over the initial learning curve. With our next child, I plan on using the many prefolds we received as a gift for Daniel (that I was too scared to use) with a fastener (probably Snappi) and a waterproof cover. With all the benefits cloth diapering offers us and how cute they look, the few road bumps that pop up every once in a while are a total none-issue now and I recommend cloth diapering to everyone who will listen.


He really does the most adorable, random things.

You know you're a mom when...

My heart.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cloth Diaper Washing for Dummies

We have been successfully cloth diapering Daniel since he was 3 months old using FuzziBunz One Size Elite pocket diapers, two inserts during the day and three inserts at night. After a week or two of finagling the diapers and inserts to Daniel's needs, we've been using the same routine for over 5 months. A week or so ago, I noticed that he's been waking up with leaks, which never happened again once we figured out how many inserts to use at night. Not ok! So onto trust Google I went to find the answer to our little problem...

Not all detergent is created equal

I suspect that our problem is build-up in the fleece lining and inserts. When we first started cloth diapering, I knew I needed a detergent that had no additives but I had no idea that those "natural" brands sold in the grocery store also contain oils that are bad, bad, BAD for cloth diapers. Oops.  For a while now, I've noticed a really strange smell coming from the diapers and liners, it's not terribly strong and it's really feint, you have to put your nose right up in it to smell anything and I don't think it's ammonia because I can't smell it when he's wearing the diapers (I have a really poor sense of smell, though...). I think this is build-up too.

So I've been washing, and washing, and washing some more on the hottest, heaviest, watery-est setting I can get on my very basic washing machine and the water is finally starting to be less sudsy during the agitation cycle, yay! I also found an adorable local baby boutique, Rosie Posie Baby, that sells Allen's Naturally. It was just under $50 for a gallon but the girl in the shop said it will last a long time (I imagine that it will, one pump per load).

I made an honest mistake regarding what detergent to use. Now I know better and while I heard that stripping diapers isn't necessary, I've also read that it's part of normal cloth diaper maintenance. I don't plan on using this detergent for all of our clothing, so I will probably run into this problem again soon. I just won't wait almost 6 months to do it this time! I also recently cleaned my washer, it was a very simple process and I felt really great about washing our clothes in it afterward. I will make this a regular part of my house maintenance.

A change in our ritual

During this same trip to Rosie Posie, the shop keeper talked to me about possibly using something different at night than during the day. She showed me a bamboo diaper by TotsBots and diaper covers by Thirsties; I bought two natural-colored diapers and one cover in an adorable owl print, all should last us through potty training. The diapers also come with a optional bamboo liner for even more absorbing power, which I think it nice. I will try using just the diaper and keep the liners aside for just-in-cases. On top of that, I think they will fit much trimmer than the FuzziBunz with three liners inside that we've been using.

For the future...

I love that we are building ourselves a nice stash of diapers that will be pretty much ready for when we have another kid. I hope to have Daniel potty trained before our next one is born, as I'm not planning on even trying to get pregnant again until after he's 3. Right now, we have a huge stash of pre-folds that I plan on using with fasteners and diaper covers (they are SO inexpensive, I had no idea!) and then the 12 FuzziBunz and 2 TotsBots for night time. I wish I had been more confident in my ability to cloth diaper from the beginning so I could have used the pre-folds with I had so many of them, but, here we are.

My diapers are finally done stripping and I hope, after draining the Pacific Ocean of its water after all the wash cycles I've done in the last 24 hours, that the leakage is done. It's been a very interesting experience doing all of this, so at least I'll know better for next time.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

With all the hub-bub and daily craziness mothers around the world endure, I am so fortunate that we all get to take the time out of our busy schedules to recognize such an important part of our childrens early upbringing: breastfeeding. I know that there are many mothers out there who choose not to breastfeed for a number of reasons and also those mothers who ultimately can't because for one reason or another, their supply just did not meet demand. However, it is important to recognize all women who choose to breastfeed, whether it's just once or twice or until their child is 2 or 3. Any time spent feeding your child in the natural way is one more time your child will benefit from the fabulousness of it all!

Through my misfortune of being unable to find a full time job since I graduated college in 2010, I have been fortunate enough to stay home with my boy and breastfeed every single day since he was born over 8 months ago. His growth, so exponential since his skinny 7 pound 10 ounce body was born, is now so obviously attributed to the fact that he's a breastfed baby. I am so proud that since he was born, I know exactly what is going into my son's body and that I am giving him everything he needs to thrive in his first years of life. I am also proud, for all the times I wanted to be selfish and just give up, that I stuck with it ultimately because it's no longer about my life but OUR life. (Which means his life, since as his mother I feel so closely bonded with my son that his well-being is most definitely now mine.) I love that during a handful of times throughout the day, it's just about him and I getting comfortable, getting close, and bonding. Something like this, NOBODY will ever share with my son but me. This is my gift that nobody else gets to share. I feel so honored!