Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pollyanna

It was a full auditorium at a large state university in Colorado which was a HUGE change for this recently transferred student.  She came from a small, private, Christian college from the west coast where class sizes hardly ever got above 30.  She sat near the door and got out her college ruled notebook, and rainbow pens ready to take notes during her psych lecture.  The professor stepped in and began.  A few times during class he offered up some questions that no one was willing to answer.  So, she raised her hand.  To this day she can't remember what he asked, or even what she said, but she will never forget what his response was.  With a laugh in his voice he said, "What, are you some kind of Pollyanna?  Just seeing the world through your rosy little glasses?"  The entire class began to pay attention and everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to look at her.  Her cheeks turned red and began to burn as if she had just been slapped.  She slumped slightly in her chair.  She could tell he was putting her down but she didn't understand what was so bad about what he said.  So, under her breath she said just that, "Is that such a bad thing?"  Giggles rose up from the auditorium and she thought "Toto, I have a feeling we aren't in Point Loma anymore."

She went home and talked to her very wise uncle about the encounter, and how embarrassed she was.  She told him what the teacher said and he replied "Well, they call people who are overly optimistic Pollyanna."  She said "I know what he meant, I just don't understand why that's a bad thing?"


And I still don't!


Throughout my life I've had people look at me like - "Oh, there's perfect little Charmian!  She doesn't know what ______ is like.  Nothing bad has ever happened to her."  First off, I just want to grab those people and shake them because clearly they haven't cared enough about me to really stop and talk to me.  They have looked at my smiling face and bubbly personality and have assumed that I must have lived this perfect little life to be so happy all the time.  Well, HA!!!! that's what you get for not giving me a chance, for not taking a moment to really see me and to hear my story.

Here's the truth.  I am optimistic, a Pollyanna some would say.  I don't wallow in the negative stuff from my past but that doesn't take it away.  It's there.  What I have and hopefully will continue to say is this "I love this moment that I'm living in, and without all of the good and bad things from my past I wouldn't be the person I am today living this life I could have only dreamed of."  (It's a paraphrase but you get the idea.)  I have tried to live my life without regret but people have hurt me, and I have hurt people.  I have been on top of the world and I've seen the sewers.  I have laughed and God knows I have cried.  But through it all I try and see the silver lining.  My name means Little Joy, my Mom loves telling everyone that and when I was younger it would always embarrass me but it's what I am, it's what I've been and hopefully I'll continue to stay just that, a Little Joy.


So, I say all of that to say this.  Yes, I am an optimistic.  My glass is half full but my life is not perfect.


Let me show you what I mean in three ways.

The Good:  I got so much done today.  I was able to get a lot of things done around the house and found some time to check my email and facebook.  It makes my heart hurt a bit to see all the pictures and stories from my friends back home, knowing how much I'm missing.  But I did get to spend the day with my girl and I wouldn't have been able to do that if we were in The States.  Speaking of Alessandra, she is such a strong willed little toot.  She cracks me up how she is so determined to do it all herself, her way, in her time.  I want to hurry and get this post done so I can grab a few minutes to exercise and shower before Jon gets home.  I miss him so much some time but I can see how hard he's working to provide for us and I love him so much for that.

The Bad:  I feel like all I did today was clean.  I was finally able to check my email and facebook.  I am so lonely and I miss my friends.  Alessandra can be so hard to handle sometimes.  If I try and help her while we're playing she'll throw herself on the floor and start screaming, and she's only 9 months old.  UUGGHH!!!  What is she going to be like in twelve years?  My day is slipping away and I can already see that I'm not going to get a chance to exercise before Jon gets home and he's just going to think I've been lying in bed all day eating chocolates and watching movies.  That is if he even makes it home before the party he has at school tonight.

The Truth:  Today was quiet.  I'm a little lonely.  I mostly did housework, play with Alessandra, and surf the web.  I'm hoping I get a chance to exercise today.  Jon has a get together tonight for school.


So you see, it's not all good but it's not all bad either.  I guess I've just decided to live my life as a Pollyanna!
Charmian

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cloth Diapers?!?

How:

Warning:  This is going to be a long post so strap it in. 

Prep:  All cloth diapers (cds) need to be prepped (washed and dried) before they are put on your little one's tush.  Depending on the brand/style of your cd the prep will be different.  Make sure to read the care instructions for your specific brand/style.  Organic diapers need to be prepped more than their non-organic counter parts because the organic fibers have naturally occurring oils that need to be washed away.  The cds will not be at their peak absorbency until properly prepped so don't expect to get your cds and slap them on your kiddo the same day.  Once the prepping is complete your ready to move on to assembly and installation (I made cding sound like putting together Ikea furniture).  :o)  Most complaints about absorbency in the early days of cding are because the diapers have not been properly prepped, so don't skimp on this process.




Assembly:  I like to get my diapers all ready so when it comes time for a diaper change I'm not fumbling a fussy baby while assembling the diaper.  Of course, if you're using an AIO there is no assembly required - you lucky Ritzy Hippie Mammas!  If you're a  Penny Pinching Mamma and you're using a pre-fold and cover you will have to assemble during your install.  But if you're a  like me and you're a Penny Pinching Hippie Commando and using an AI2 system than I'm talking to you.  Depending on your AI2, different assembly may be required.  No matter if you have to snap, tuck, or stuff the insert into the cover, I'd suggest you have as much done beforehand as possible.

top basket - cloth wipes ready to be added to my wipes bucket
just below the colorful wipes you'll see the doublers - for  longer wears and nighttime
middle basket - assembled diapers ready to be applied
bottom basket - additional inserts
A side note on assembly.  I try and keep my diapers organized - I know, I know those of you who know me well are falling out of your chairs in shock (for those of you who don't know me well, you probably didn't catch my hyperbole).  With everything organized and easily at hand cding is a snap.


Install:  Once again you Ritzy Hippie Mammas are lucky because your install is just like disposable diapers.  Take off the old one, open up the new one, slap it on, close it up, and go.  For you Penny Pinching Mammas I would suggest you check out this site, try some of the folds and find the one or two that work best for you and your little munchkin.  Take off the old one, lay out the new one, fold and snappi (little plastic clips to hold on the diap instead of using sharp pins) it in place, put on your cover, and go.  For you Penny Pinching Hippie Commandos the install will be pretty easy because you've already taken care of most of the work during the assembly.  





You'll take off the old one,

 open up the new one and put it on,

close it up and then check to make sure all of the absorbent insert is inside the cover.
Because the insert isn't completely attached to the cover and your not fastening it to the baby itself,
it can slip outside of the cover while you're putting it on which may cause leaks.

If it is, you should be good to go for a leak free diaper until your next change.

Happy Baby!!

Lucky Daddy!


Care:  Well, they have to get clean and honestly this part is a cinch, but just like I said before make sure to follow your cd's instructions as they're all a little bit different.  If you follow the instructions you shouldn't have any problems with detergent build up.  Detergent build up is caused when the detergent isn't rinsed completely out of the diapers causing a coating to form around the fibers keeping the fibers from absorbing the moisture and pulling it away from the skin.  If this isn't prevented or caught early on it can actually cause diaper rash, leaks, and/or stinky diapers.  I haven't had any problems but then again I can be a bit obsessive sometimes and I can honestly say I've been very particular about how I care for these diapers.

  Here we go Penny Pinching Hippie Commandos, we just changed Alessandra, she has a clean diaper on her bum and is currently playing on the changing table.  I take the dirty one (just pee) and reattach the velcro closures to the laundry tabs (this keeps the velcro from damaging the outside of the diapers when they are waiting to be used and in the wash).

Then I unsnap the insert from the cover.  

I unzip my wet bag (a waterproof bag that holds wetness and odors in) that is attached to the changing table and stuff the wet insert in the bag, while holding the outside of the cover (just because everyone is always curious at this point my hands have not gotten in any pee or poop).  and set the cover aside to air out for use later on.  

For pee and newborn/pre-solid poopy diapers that's it until wash time.  Before babies start solids there poop is totally water soluble and trust me on this, it WILL get totally clean in the wash without you having to do anything but follow the previous care instructions.  Once your little one starts solids their poo will get more solid and will need to be flushed.  So here's how poopy diapers go.  I take it off, clean Alessandra up and get on a new diapy.  Alessandra goes on the floor to play while I take the entire diaper - cover, insert, everything - to the bathroom.  While holding the back of the diaper where the diaper snaps in to the cover I spray the poop into the toilet.  I unsnap the cover and set it aside (this next step is the only time my hands come into contact with the dirty diapers) and take the insert and wring most of the water out - you don't have to do this but I don't like carrying a soaking wet dirty diaper through my house.  I put the insert inside the cover and wash my hands, then I take the insert and cover and drop them in the wet bag.  Once I'm all done I wash my hands again.


Wash:  It's been a few days and your wet bag is getting full.  It's time to do a wash.  I take the entire wet bag to the washer, I unzip the zipper and unload the bag into the washing machine.  I then partially zip the wet bag and put it in the machine as well.  I pour in 1/4 of the amount of detergent that is recommended for a heavy load and run a heavy load cycle with cold water.  Once that is done I pull out the wet bags and covers and hang them up to dry.  Then it's time for the second short wash with no detergent and VERY HOT WATER (as hot as your washer can do - here in Germany that's 90C - I think in the States you only get 60C).

Dry:  My washer is a low water usage, HE machine that is a washer and dryer in one.  Once the wash cycle is finished I send it on a 60 minute dry cycle.  The dryer is pretty useless but even with my machine I am still able to get my diapers clean and mostly dry.  When the diapers come out they are still a bit damp so I reshape them (like you would a sweater) and I hang them up until they are completely dry.  If you had a real dryer you could dry them completely and skip that last step.

That's it!
Done and Done!!  
Easy Peasy!

So now that I've taken you through the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How's do you have any more questions for me?

If so send me an email, a message on Facebook, or leave me a comment and I'll get them answered.

Charmian 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dropping Toothbrushes



What's so funny you ask?


Well, Daddy dropped my toothbrush.

Alessandra



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cloth Diapers?!?


Why:


I've already covered the why a little bit in my other posts but there are as many different reasons why as there are mamas wanting to cloth diaper. 

Here are some other moms thoughts behind cloth diapering.  

Here's a true Ritzy Hippie Mama.
And my good friend Renee, the Penny Pinching Mama.  


Oh, and one more reason...
...they're so darn cute!
Charmian

Tiggers


The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Are Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops they're made of the rubber
Their bottoms they're made of the springs
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!
The most wonderful thing about Tiggers i
I'm the only one, Oh I'm the only one!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Heartbroken


My heart broke a little bit today...


Dotty got sick again, this time it came on so fast.  She went to bed feeling fine and woke up at 4:00 a.m. on Friday morning with a cough.  We should have taken her in that morning but we didn't we waited until today.

We thought it was kennel cough.  Which would be the second time she's had kennel cough in the last few months.  The only problem with the kennel cough theory is she isn't coming down with the cough after she goes to the kennel or park or anywhere else where she may catch the virus.  So we were a little dumbfounded.


Jon had to go to Munich today so I was on my own.  Jon tried to call and warn them let them know I was coming but they've recently changed their number.  So I had to figure out what to do with two dogs and a baby, I didn't know if they could see me, and I didn't know if the English speaking vet was going to be on duty.    I put Ripley in the bathroom and I headed out with Alessandra and Dotty.


Luckily the vets office was empty and the English speaking vet was there.  They brought me right in and started the check up.  She was listening to her chest for what felt like ages.  And then she lowered the stethoscope and told me that there was definitely some fluid and she was having a hard time breathing but she was more alarmed by her heart beat.  It wasn't beating as strong as it should be.  She suggested we get Dotty an x-ray.  I called Jon and we agreed that we should.  30 minutes later we were looking at her chest x-ray and it was just what she had suspected.  Dotty's heart is enlarged, she has congestive heart failure.  She said dogs usually get it when they are between 7 and 12 years old and unfortunately Dot is on the younger end of that.  Tears started welling up in my eyes and she said to me "There is no need for drama - she will not be dying today.  She just needs to take medicine for her heart."  I asked if she would need the medicine for the rest of her life and she said "Probably, but for right now she's okay."  Oh Germans, they are so matter of fact.  So she wrote up four different prescriptions, two for the cough and congestion and two for her heart.




While I was there I asked about Ripley and I told her how she's been so skittish lately and she asked if it started about the time Dotty got sick last time.  It had.  So she asked if Dotty was the Alpha.  She is.  And she said that's probably why Ripley has been so nervous lately, she probably knows that Dotty is sick and is worried.  So, once again I had tears welling up in my eyes.  I love these girls so much and they love each other so much.  It made me feel even worse about Ripley.  UUGGHH!!  Why can't dogs talk, if they could've just told me what was going on.  Okay, dogs don't talk and they won't and we're doing as much as we can for them but sitting there in the vets office I could feel my heart breaking.


To summarize, Dotty's heart is breaking.  
My first baby girl is sick and my second baby girl is worried sick.  
My heart is breaking.
Okay, no more welling, I can't hold it in anymore.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cloth Diapers?!?

When/Where:

IMG_6648.jpg

This post is simple:

ANYTIME

ANYPLACE

But you probably want a little more info than that.  In a nutshell Alessandra is in cloth diapers 24/7.  So, we need to run to the Lidl - she's in her cloth diaps.  A day long trip around town - cloth.  An overnight adventure - you guessed it she's sporting her fluffy little tush.  The only time this doesn't apply is when our outings will take us away from a washing machine for more than three days (or close to it).  I recently went on a month long trip to the states and they came along.  I knew I would have access to a washer and dryer while I was traveling so there were only a handful of days that I ended up using disposables.  The only time I resort to the cartoon covered throw-aways is when we're away for a long weekend/week long trips where we'll be in a hotel or some other place without a washing machine.   

The times and places that people are most curious about are as follows.

Bedtime:  Absolutely, let me tell you how it's possible.  There are these tiny little absorbent inserts sometimes called doublers that can be used to up the absorbency without adding too much bulk.  You pop one in, slap that cloth diaper on, and poof dry nights are all yours (or rather your little ones).

Out and About:   (This is how I do it but depending on the age of your baby and the system you have this process and the tools needed may vary.)  I'm headed out for a fun filled day around town.  I grab my diaper bag and throw in one full diaper (a cover and insert) and then I add two more inserts.  Keep in mind she's already wearing a cloth diaper so this means I have two covers to switch between and three additional inserts.   I put in a wetbag (a waterproof bag for the wet/dirty diaps) and her changing mat (so I can change her diaper anywhere).  I also throw in my travel container with about 5 of my reusable wipes.  (Yes, I use reusable wipes - I'll tell you more about that in a later post.)  I have other stuff in my diaper bag too but that's all I need to make it throw a full day of diaper changes.

Obviously the length of trip dictates the number of inserts and wipes I take but you get the idea.

Well that's it for the when and where like I said  easy peasy.

Charmian

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cloth Diapers?!?

What:


These aren't your mamas cloth diapers. 

Cloth diapers these days are fancy and there are as many styles and brands as there are handbags and shoes.  Depending on your motivation to cloth diaper I would suggest some different styles.  
Take my three who's from before.  


The Ritzy Hippie
Your only concerned about the environment and money isn't an issue.  
I'd go with an AIO (All In One) - super easy, just put it on, take it off, wash, and repeat.  
Pro:  AIO's are the easiest cloth diapering system on the market
 (imagine a washable disposable diaper). 
Con: AIO's are the most expensive systems available 
Depending upon how frequently you do laundry you'll need about 10 diapers a day.
FYI - never go more than 3 days between washes - just trust me on that! 
They take a while to dry because all of the absorbency is sewn inside the diaper. 


The Anti-Chemical Commando
You only want the most natural things touching your little ones rear end.
I'd go with organic.
Pro:  Pretty much every brand has an organic option so you'll have have your pick on styles.  
Organic inserts tend to be more absorbent than their non-organic counter parts.
Con:  They are more expensive.


The Penny Pinching Parent
You need to save money or would rather spend the money 
on your little ones college fund rather than their poop catchers.
I'd go with a pre-fold and cover.
Pro: CHEAP, Cheap, cheap.  The cover can be re-worn over and over again (until it gets stinky or your baby's poop gets on it) and only the absorbent part needs to be replaced. 
 Because you can reuse the cover and not replace it for each diaper change you will save even more money on your total diapering cost. 
You would only have to buy one cover for every three pre-fold and the big cost is in the covers.  
Con:  Way more work to put on you'll need to purchase pins or snappi's to hold the diaper on under the cover.


Well, what if you're like me and you're a 
Penny Pinching Hippie Commando
You need to save money but want a convenient system that your husband will do 
and the grandmas/babysitters can figure out.
I'd go with a OS (One Size) / AI2 (All In 2).

OS's are sizeable diapers so you will only have to buy one or two diaper cover sizes to get your little one from birth to potty trained.
Pro:  This is one of the BIGGEST money savers. More and more styles and brands are offering an OS option.  With only one set of covers it's even less product you'll be consuming - and you know less consumption means less waste.
Con:  Make sure the brand you pick has true sizes.  A few OS diapers I've tried definitely would not have fit my newborn or wouldn't fit an average size two to three year old.  Also, many OS diapers have a snap rise to make it OS but as your little one gets older and their hands become a little more curious they can easily unsnap the rise making the diaper too big and leaky.

AI2's are a two part system with a waterproof shell and an absorbent insert that either snaps or tucks into place.  The inserts are contoured so you will have minimal folding/stuffing at each diaper change.
Pro:  You can use almost anything absorbent inside the diapers but the AI2 system will come with inserts (and doublers which are great used alone for newborns, or as your little one gets older for extra absorbency or nighttime).  They dry fast because the absorbent insert separates from the waterproof shell.  You can reuse the covers until they get dirty which will also extend the life of the diaper due to less frequent trips through the washer.  They are less expensive than an AIO system.  The general rule of thumb for cover to insert ratio is 1:3.
Con:  They are a bit more cumbersome to put on than an AIO system (but they are WAY easier than pre-folds).  Having a 2 part system becomes a bit of a juggling act when your little one starts solids and the poop needs to be flushed rather than just washed away during the wash cycle.   

Like I said in the beginning there are a ton of cloth diapering styles and brands.  So I would take the time to look around and find out what system will work best for you and your family.  A site that was invaluable to me during my cloth diaper search was Dirty Diaper Laundry they have really great info and video reviews.
Charmian

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Before and After

Pigtails before our walk through the park.






 Pigtails after.