Reflections and Rants

Lately I have felt like I have no avenue to really speak in.. Everywhere has social rules and decorum to be followed, niceties and expectations, considerations and limits. So, let’s have none of that here. If I know you, and any of this offends or upsets you, I’m sorry. Here’s a collection of thoughts that have been tumbling around in my mind, suppressed and neglected.

– Life is too damn fleeting. My birthday is swiftly approaching, and it’s one of the big 0’s, and –maybe– it’s affecting me harder than normal birthdays that haven’t shifted me into a new age bracket. I think that’s pretty normal, but I also used to think I was a stronger and better person than to be upset at getting old. Not that I’m even old yet, really, finally reaching full adulthood and my “prime,” but youth is certainly and completely gone now. Youth never seems to die alone, it takes with it a host of dreams you didn’t realize were still alive until they’re gone.

– For the majority of my life, I’ve been true to myself to a fault. It’s been one of the few virtues that I clung to, even when it hurt me dearly. Whatever else happened, I was myself and acted accordingly, the rest of the world be damned. Parenthood, however, has been the thing to break me. Between being everything my child needs, and everything my husband expects me to be, I feel like there’s nothing of myself anymore. I’ve been trying, fiercely, to reclaim fragments of my day, fragments of my own personality, but it’s so very difficult. Everything I was – wanted – dreamed of – enjoyed – everything that defined me is now gone and I’m so afraid it will never come back. I’m not “growing up” or “changing” – I’m being lost, shoved into a life that doesn’t fit correctly. I’m terrible at the roles I’m in now – I’m a terrible mother and a terrible wife, and those are the only 2 things my life consists of anymore. I’ve sacrificed every aspect of myself, and I still fail, no one is happy.

– Being a stay-at-home-mom is both the best and the worst job in the world. I could write volumes on this, but for now I think I’ll stick with a “grass is always greener” comment and leave it be.

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Imbolc – The First Signs of Spring

Today was Imbolc, otherwise known as Candlemas. It’s an ancient holiday that few of us still celebrate, but in its essence it is the end of winter and beginning of spring. It’s a time of creativity, of healing, of rejoicing for life. It’s a time of fertility, of laughter, and of love.

This year we celebrated simply – I’ve been taking walks down by the lake with my son, so I took a couple of trips recently to look for, document, and celebrate the first signs I found of springtime. Secondly, tonight we lit the fireplace (which has been dormant all winter long), and tossed a few springs of fresh rosemary onto the flames.

So here’s a picture-laden look at the signs of the changing season, as I managed to find near my home.

Giveaway and Review : Woolzies Dryer Balls

Green-Resolutions

I’m excited to host my very first Giveaway! I’ve teamed up with the Green Moms Network to be part of the Green Resolutions Giveaway Hop, which is hosted by Happy Mothering and Mama Chocolate. There are a ton of eco-friendly giveaways in the Hop, including more chances to win dryer balls.

And that’s what we’re here today to discuss – dryer balls. Specifically, Woolzies.

woolzies

As some of you might know, a few months back I made some DIY dryer balls. I made two different kinds – some from felted wool sweater scraps, and some from wool yarn. I wanted to make a few from batting and roving as well, but those materials proved to be either too difficult to find or more money than I was willing  to experiment with. So, I crafted my own dryer balls – 4 of them, to be exact. I had no idea what size to make them (the tutorials I read said “tennis ball sized” but I sure don’t play sports), and even tho my sweaters were pre-felted from making diaper covers out of them, the dryer balls shrunk *quite* a bit with 2 months of daily use. The yarn balls didn’t shrink as bad, but one of them has already unravelled on me (Boo!). They were all admittedly cheap (damn near free) to make, but it took a TON of time and effort. We’re talking about an hour or so per yarn ball, and about 4 hours per scrap ball because I tacked down the beginning and end of each scrap to make them more stable. Someone might be awesome enough to do these things quicker – but this was a project I did while actively nursing a baby.

What does all of that have to do with Woolzies? Well, those 4 DIY balls I made might’ve only cost me $3 in cash – but they also took in total about 10 hours of work, a few more hours of research and material gathering, and then one of them fell apart. If at the very least you considered my valuable time to be worth minimum wage, those 3 dryer balls I have left cost me $90 ($87 in labor hours + material costs). As I’ve grown older, wiser, and busier, I now appreciate the real value of time. Woolzies come in a pack of 6, with a retail value of $34.95. That boils down to a little under $6 each – which is less than an hour of minimum wage (and quicker than I could personally make one with scraps or yarn).

So, let’s talk about some practical reasons to switch to Woolzies dryer balls:

  • Dryer sheets are annoying to buy. Anything that eliminates the need to ask myself “Do we need more..?” in the grocery store is a good thing. With dryer balls, there’s no more purchase upkeep to occupy your mind – you got ’em at home. They are “guaranteed to last for 1,000 loads or your money back.”
  • Dryer sheets are clingy! Ever gotten all the way to work and have a co-worker peel a dryer sheet off your clothes? It’s embarrassing. Finding a dryer sheet randomly on the floor because it unclung from its mystery fabric host is annoying.  Sifting thru a basket of finished laundry to find that sheet before it’s forgotten is also annoying.
  • Dryer balls reduce your drying time. With my DIY 4, we found this to be untrue – but I suppose it took either more or larger ones to really work. 6 Woolzies get my prefolds dry in one cycle, which the 4 DIY’s could never do. The company says it shortens by 25%, but all I know from personal testing is that it DOES shorten the time. And this saves you money from running that dryer less.
  • Good for allergies and sensitive skin. It’s one way to avoid the chemicals and scents in softening sheets, and doesn’t bother people with wool allergies.
  • Good for Cloth Diapers. This is the reason that converted me – it both softens and lowers the dry time for diapers.
  • Woolzies are quieter than some DIY options. My scrap and yarn balls were crazy loud in the dryer – I feared they were going to damage it. I can still hear the Woolzies through the closed laundry room door, but it’s a soft tumbling, not an alarming clanking.

woolzies2

This contest will run through January 30, 2013 at 9:01 pm PST  (January 31, 2012 at 12:01 am EST). The winner will be chosen the  following day and announced here on Nephrendil. No purchase necessary. US entries only. Must be 18 years or older to win. The sponsors provided me with free samples of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions are my own and only formed by my personal experience with the product. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to Nephrendil and not to Facebook.  Please note that Nephrendil, the Green Moms Network and the Green Resolutions event bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. We have represented each sponsor with the expectation that they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. We will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 4-6 weeks for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.

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Holiday Reflections

Yule is passed. Christmas is passed. Since we’re a multi-religious home, we celebrated both holidays. It means more family, more presents, more feasting. I didn’t make the trip to the Grove this year – my health has been shaky for several weeks. I didn’t light a fire, or make an offering to the Gods. But as I keep walking along this path, adjusting to motherhood, the more comfortable I’m getting with my faith.

When I hug my child close, I sense all the generations before us that have done the exact same thing with their children. My grandmother, her grandmother, all the way back to the most distant ancestors. Every time I nurse him, carry him around with one arm while I clean or make something to eat, every beautiful smile he gives me, I feel the smiles of those spirits who came before us. As long as I’m taking care of him, I know the Gods forgive my lack of offerings. They forgive my missing a ritual. My very soul is the fire that both honors Them and nurtures my child – as long as it burns bright, I know that all is well.

I used to believe that suffering was the surest way to find faith – that pain led people to seek a higher power. I found my own faith amid the darkest shadows of my life, and I’ve known so many who did the same. But I realize now that joy is so much stronger. As the holidays – Holy Days – have drawn to a close, I find myself simply and purely grateful for my family and this life that I’ve been given.

Review : Babydoo Cloth Diapers

So, after about half a year of entering various giveaways, I finally won something!! lol. Random number generators apparently hate me…  But, my luck held out until I won something very nice. I had the option to get either a fitted diaper or an AI2 Babydoo diaper, in my choice of fabrics. Since my love-hate relationship with wool covers has come pretty much to an end (more about that later), I opted for an AI2. This American WAHM diaper has been in daily rotation for approx. 2 weeks so far, and this is a review based on how it has performed for us during that time.

Little Man wearing a Babydoo AI2

Little Man wearing a Babydoo AI2

Overall Opinion: On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this diaper a 9. It’s a very good product, and worth the investment.

Fabric Options: The fabric choices for fitteds (or wipes or wetbags) were much larger, including many very cute prints. AI2 fabric options were somewhat smaller, but they consisted of 11 prints and I did have a hard time deciding between two of them (they were both adorable). The interior layer of either style of diaper is an organic bamboo and cotton velour blend. Both styles also have a hidden interior layer of organic bamboo and cotton fleece. Near as I can tell, you have no options for those – but it’s organic, absorbent, and super soft.

Fabric textures for comparison, left to right: (orange) Microfleece, (white) Microfiber, (purple) Minky, (cream) Babydoo’s Bamboo Velour

Size Options: This was the first time I had ever heard of “Extreme One Size” (EOS) – but it has a longer rise than a normal OS, and 4 rise settings instead of the normal 3. She also has OS and Newborn sizes, of course, and I opted for a standard OS.

Fit: Super snug! This is one of the only diapers in my stash that I can get both a tight waist fit and a tight leg fit. The elastic is nice and strong. There are some light red marks on baby’s legs but that’s probably a combination of his fair Irish/Swedish skin and me fastening the snaps as snug as possible.

Tight waist fit

  Tight waist fit

Overnight Use: Because this diaper fits Little Man so well, I wanted to use it for overnights. He sleeps anywhere from 9 to 12 hours at night, so finding cloth that can handle the duration without leaking is tricky. I’ve found the trick to be a blend of fit and absorbency. Since I already knew it fit him well, I tested out the soaker layer the AI2 comes with, not adding any extra layers to help it out. The snap-in soaker is made up of 6 layers total – then of course the body of the diaper has 2 more layers before you get to the outside PUL. All-in-all, the 8 layers of bamboo/cotton fabric were enough to stop any leaking for a 10 hour sleep (he woke up, so I’m not sure if it could have lasted a full 12). Of course, if LO starts having larger nightly needs, I can easily sneak a few more absorbent layers below or in-between the soaker. For now, though, it’s up to the task without any assistance.

Tight leg fit

Tight leg fit

Downsides: If I were to make any changes to this AI2, it would be:

  • Less Drying Time – Wow this takes a long time to dry! Almost twice as long as a regular ole pocket. So, I admit, I don’t line dry my diapers… everything goes into the dryer for one hour-long low heat cycle. With 4 dryer balls, this thing came out still wet enough to need a second cycle. It takes 10 dryer balls to get it (and my overnight hemp/bamboo inserts) dry in one shot. Now that we actually have 10 wool dryer balls, and we can get it dry in an hour, I’m happy. But, I can’t imagine how long this would need on a line.
Insert snaps in and is made of 2 flaps sewn at the top, to lessen drying time

Insert snaps in and is made of 2 flaps sewn at the top, to lessen drying time

  • Add Double Gussets – So hard to find. I wish all diapers came with them. Having sewn them myself, I know they’re a pain in the neck, but I think they’re worth it.

Summary: I’m glad to have this in my stash, especially since it has joined the ranks of overnight-approved diapers. It’s cute, very soft, fairly trim, and fits LO exactly the way I like. This particular diaper (OS AI2) does cost $22, but I think it’s totally worth it for a solid organic WAHM product.

Happy baby

Happy baby

Check It Out: You can find the Babydoo website here:

Babydoo

Or check her out on Facebook.

My Hipster Baby

Credit - Erin McCabe

Hipster Baby

 

My hipster son wears his feety pjs ironically.

Found these awesome vintage pjs at the thrift store. Aren’t they fun? I paid a dollar for them. =)

Sleeping Through the Night

http://www.etsy.com/listing/112766778/baby-moon-bear-nursery-decor-boy-girl

credit: Talking Donkey Studio on Etsy

Little Man is 4 months old now. He sleeps anywhere from 9 to 12 hours at night, every night, in cloth diapers, almost never requiring a feed or a change in the middle of the night. This has been true for the past solid month.

I feel pretty blessed. I’ve read so much information that has me convinced that this is a pretty rare thing at his age. I had also read a fair bit of internet parenting opinions that helped me encourage his behavior to get us up to this point. So, amid the hundreds of other things I thought about writing while my little darling is sound asleep tonight – I’ve decided to share a bit about how we centered in on his nightly routine, just in case it might help some other sleepy parents out there.

– There is NO need for CIY (Cry It Out)! This is not a requirement to get your little one used to sleeping alone. They might cry at first, and that’s okay, and you should totally feel like it’s helpful and encouraged to go comfort them. A child will sleep soundly knowing that help is there if something goes wrong.

– Notice when a routine develops. The first couple months are pretty haphazard. I suppose some people actually get their newborns into strict to-the-minute timing, but personally the first 10 weeks were a blur. He slept on my lap or chest when he was sleepy. He nursed when he was hungry. I caught snippets of rest when I could. We really didn’t time anything – we barely kept track of how often the changings and feedings happened, and only because the pediatrician needed to know. But after 8 weeks, I started to notice a faint pattern in his nap times. He took one slightly longer nap every day – that tended to be in the night hours – and this is what I had to start working with. If your baby has a slightly longer but consistently taken nap, then you’re ready to start encouraging overnight sleep.

– Start placing baby in bed when this long nap happens. At first you probably want to do this while baby’s sound asleep. You’ll want baby to wake up in the place you want associated with overnight sleeping (ie: the crib, cradle, etc.). They’ll wake up, and feel strange and lost, and that’s okay – comfort them and let them know it’s a safe place.

– White noise. There’s all kinds of good white noise out there, but our baby’s favorite one at first was called “Baby Got Colic” – which is basically a bunch of womb-esque rhythmic noise meant to sound like mother’s heartbeat and blood circulation and whatnot. It reminded him of the womb and thus calmed him down – so we played that softly in the nursery. When he woke up, he heard comforting noises, and that helped a lot. Sometimes it calmed him enough to go back to sleep.

– Make it dark. So this sounds pretty obvious, but it was something I hadn’t thought of doing until I read it on-line. If you want baby to sleep at night, make sleeping time dark. A little night-light is fine, but as soon as little one gets tired, start killing off the big room lights.

– Wardrobe change. This is a pretty big key in teaching your baby that sleep time is a different part of the day. This might be when you swaddle – or place them in a wearable blanket. I take this opportunity to give my little man a lotion massage (some folks do bath time, but baths do NOT calm him down). We use lavender J&J bedtime lotion. I put him in his comfiest, softest outfits – either fleece feeted pjs, or a soft shirt and wearable blanket combo. The goal is comfy and warm (and safe! If baby can roll onto side, don’t swaddle – and *never* lose blankets).

– Night-time diaper. If you’re using disposables, just change them right before bedtime, even if they don’t need it – consistent routine is important. We use cloth, however. There are TONS of posts and opinions out there about overnight cloth diapering. I’ll summarize with a couple of points:

1) Don’t be afraid of layers. Yep, baby’s diaper at night is going to be bulky and untrim. Put baby in larger clothes to accommodate the bulk, if you have to (or just shirt + sleepsack). Layers are what is going to keep baby asleep. Keep adding until you reach the limits of what your gussets can handle – basically, until adding one more layer would create a gap at the leg elastic. (My husband says that little one looks like a garlic bulb in the mornings… but since he’s a DRY garlic bulb, I’m happy with that.)

2) Use your best fitting diapers. The ones you love during the day because they never leak – that anti-leak ability will help a lot more at night.

3) Microfleece liners. Buy some microfleece, cut it into squares, lay it on top of the diaper (and all those extra layers) – in-between diaper and baby’s skin. It will wick the moisture away from the skin down onto the soaking layers below. Most diapers have a microfleece layer, but you might have to get creative with your stuffing process (ie lay things on top and not inside a pocket), so extra fleece is good to have. It’ll keep baby feeling dry, thus reduce the chance they’ll wake up crying from the moisture.

4) Layers/soakers/inserts – material doesn’t matter too terribly much, but the general idea is that you want the fastest-absorbing materials up at the top. For example, you might have a pocket with a microfiber insert. You could put an additional insert of hemp below/under the microfiber.. or trifold a cotton prefold diaper and put that above/on top of the microfiber. Never put microfiber directly on baby’s skin – otherwise be creative – even t-shirts or baby washcloths can be used to add layers.

5) Baby powder (cornstarch). It’s cloth safe, and we’ve found it to be really useful in helping to dry up the moisture before it can wake him up or cause a rash.

– A full belly! Pretty simple, keep baby very well fed approaching sleepy time.

So, I started to implement all of these things during the course of two weeks, once I noticed his habitual evening nap. Soon his nap lengthened and became a full sleep. Now it’s clockwork. Somewhere between 9:30pm and 10pm he’ll need a diaper change, and we start our routine: Turn the lights off in the nursery (except for a dim closet light so I can see the changing table), Turn on the white noise, Night-time diaper, Lotion massage, Wearable blanket or feety pj’s. Then we do a long nursing session until he passes out from milk coma. I carefully move him into the crib, and he sleeps for 9-12 hours. Once in a great while, it doesn’t work immediately. Sometimes it takes an hour or two longer. But just keep cycling through diaper changes and feedings until it works. Keep calm and patient. Eventually they say to put the baby in bed/crib while they’re still awake (but very sleepy) – but we usually have terrible luck with that so far. Once in a while he’ll manage to fall asleep if I stroke his hair.. but it usually leads to a crying fit that requires more feedings.

At the end of the day, he decided he would sleep at night, and I merely encouraged and shaped his inclinations.

Double Gusset Pictures

Here’s the fitted diaper I made today:

Side view, so you can see how the interior gusset sits inside

Flat view, close-up of gusset layout

On Little Man, attached with a Boingo

Fitted attached with diaper pin

Been a While

Well. It’s been a healthy while since my last post. Little Man has started to “come alive” and require more of my attention and energy. He still can’t *quite* roll over yet, but it will be very soon I think.

The toys I made for him have been a big hit. While pregnant,  I made 3 toys from scrap fabric, some plastic (for crinkle interior), and about a dollar worth of ribbon bits from Wal-Mart (since it was the only place I could still get ribbon cut into 1/8 yard bits). It took 3 months for him to really take notice of the toys, which was getting discouraging, but he finally enjoys playing with and chewing on them.

The wool dryer balls have been rocking, as well. They don’t speed up drying time all that significantly like most internet resources I found claimed they would…. maybe that would take more than 4 of them. But where they shine is their function as a natural fabric softener. Since his diapers never had a fabric softener used on them before, it made a drastic difference with them. Our prefolds used to feel almost crunchy before, but now they’re soft and pliant. We started using the wool balls on some of our regular laundry as well – with the same positive softening effect. The only real downside to them has been a minimal amount of static. They simply can’t fight the static generated from our fluffier laundry like fleece. I think that’s a very reasonable price to pay for a renewable, free (made from scraps I had lying around), chemical-free replacement.

I’ve been stockpiling supplies to make a pile of diapers. It’s taken weeks of reflection, discussion, and number crunching but we finally settled on a plan for the gigantic project. More to come on that later – but tonight I finished a Proof of Concept diaper to make sure our plan will work. Snaps and touchtape have arrived, so we’ll start testing to see which style we prefer.

The diaper I sewed tonight has double gussets! Woot! I made a fitted just to test the gusset process, and am very happy to have finished it without any major problems. Pictures pending, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow.

Wordless Wednesday

The sacred Fire, photo taken during Beltaine ’11 by the Blackland Prairie Protogrove, ADF.

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