#BumGenius 4.0 cloth diapers make up the bulk of my #fluffstash. Of those, about 1/3 have hook & loop (velcro) closures instead of snaps. When my daughter was just a brand new, tiny tot, I thought the hook & loop closures were great! It’s easy to get a perfect fit every time, and they’re easy to put on. However, after just over a year of use, the hook & loop tabs were showing definite signs of wear and were starting to curl, thus reducing the available surface area for attaching the tab to the front of the diaper. My daughter could lean over and pop her diaper off. Not only does my 14 month old walk, she runs, climbs, rolls, and does just about any other thing your average toddler can. As a result, I knew I had to do something to fix these diapers.
I emailed customer service at CottonBabies.com, and they suggested I purchase the BumGenius refresher kits. I’ve never seen them on their website before, but if you either click the link I have provided in the text, or check out their Used Diaper page, it will lead you to it. The refresher kits include new tabs, new laundry tabs, new elastic, and sewing instructions. I’m not exactly a super skilled seamstress. I generally sew in straight lines and only sew flat things (quilts, pillow cases), but I was able to handle this with my $100 sewing machine from Walmart without an issue. It took me about 15 minutes per diaper to replace all of the velcro. I did not replace the elastic, since my elastic is all still in good shape. However, at least I have replacement elastic for when I need it!
I photo-documented the restoration process for your viewing pleasure. Here’s what the tabs looked like before restoration:
Here’s the tab being removed with a seam-ripper:
Here’s what the diaper looks like with the old tab removed:
Now with the new tab sewn on:
The new tab & new laundry tab (very shiny and white - and not curled up!):
The restored diaper (voila!):
For just $1 each, the restoration kits are certainly worth the extended diaper life. In fact, I’m sure that I’ll be restoring them again before their life is up (baby #2 due in August!) I will say, though, that if I could go back in time, I would tell myself to buy ALL SNAP CLOSURES!! The diapers stay looking much nicer and maintain their functionality for longer. Oh well….lesson learned. :)
I generally make my pitas from scratch ahead of time, but if you don’t keep bread dough on hand regularly, just buy pita pockets at the grocery store. No need to make it complicated unnecessarily.
Mix up the tzatziki first, so the flavors can mix together while you’re cooking the meat. It’s really as simple as it looks. My only suggestion: squeeze the water out of the shredded cucumber before you add it to the yogurt. You can do this by wrapping it up in a paper towel and squeezing out the water. This will prevent your sauce from getting too soupy. After all, Greek yogurt is just thickened yogurt; there’s no since in taking the “Greek” out of it by putting all of the water back in. I also sometimes add a few drops of lemon juice; it’s up to you. As far as the seasonings go, I probably add about 1/2 tsp dill and 1/4 tsp garlic powder.
Next up, the “meat stuff.” Brown the ground beef over medium heat until cooked. Drain fat, as desired. Add in the drained tomatoes. Why drain them? Well, you just want to control the moisture content of your final product. It’s no fun to bite into your pita and have meat juice run down your arms and make your pita soggy.
Add desired seasonings and you’re done! My predominant seasoning of choice is coriander. I think the sweetness of the coriander and the smokiness of the cumin goes well with the creaminess of the yogurt. I’m not really a “curry person.” If you are, hey, go nuts!
Like my chili recipe, you can make this as simple or complex as you like. Want to add more veggies to the meat stuff? Be my guest. Want to serve it with hummus? Go for it. Want to stuff some lettuce in your pita? I won’t stop you. :)
This is my basic chili recipe that I’ve been using for years. I tweak it each time, depending on how I feel - extra meaty? Extra spicy? Whatever. Here’s the base, which is good as is:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp flour
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can dark kidney beans
1 can light kidney beans
Desired seasonings: cumin, coriander, garlic powder, chipotle chili powder, cayenne pepper
Brown the ground beef in a large pot. If desired, drain fat before adding the onion and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are soft. Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes to evenly coat everything. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, and stir to combine. Add seasonings. Add beans. Stir then cover and simmer over low heat for 1-2 hours. Generally, the longer it “hangs out,” the better it will taste.
Here are some ways that I modify the recipe:
-Make it a multiple meat chili by adding kielbasa, Italian sausage, bacon, or all of the above.
-Make it spicier by adding hotter peppers, i.e. a jalapeño or habanero pepper.
-Make it “healthier” by adding in more veggies, such as diced carrots, mushrooms, or other varieties of bell pepper.
That’s the basic idea! It’s pretty simple to remember easy to put together. It’s a great meal on a cold winter’s night - especially served with homemade bread or cornbread!
I don’t normally write about this stuff, but since Friday’s shooting in Newtown, there seem to be a lot of people questioning the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms.
26 people were murdered by a lunatic with a gun (I realize I have no authority to speak on the mental stability of shooter, Adam Lanza, but I feel it justified to refer to someone who would go on a shooting rampage, gunning down innocent children, as a lunatic.) People want to prevent something like this from happening again. People want answers. People want to know their children are safe.
These are all reasonable things to want. I, myself, am a mother, and I held my daughter extra tight and prayed for hours for those children, for their families, for their mothers, and for my baby girl - that something like that would never happen to her, that she would live a long and happy life, safe from the evils of the world.
Nevertheless, ridding the world of guns (or even just assault rifles) isn’t possible. Maniacs on a killing rampage will find a way to get assault rifles, regardless of what the law says. If they’re made illegal, then we’ve just put one more thing on the black market - in some ways, there’s probably less red tape to get them once there’s legislation against them. You just have to “know a guy.” I’m betting that guy won’t care about background checks - he’ll just care about cash or maybe drugs.
The point is, if you try to make certain guns illegal, you’ll only be putting ALL of them in the hands of the people you DON’T want to have them. What we need to do is love our neighbor. All of us, every day, with a smile and a hello and a good deed. Our country could sure use some more Jesus. And, if you’re not down with Jesus, you ought to at least adopt one of His teachings: Love thy neighbor!!
@anncurry started the hash tags #20acts and #26acts of kindness, one for each of the victims. I believe this is the best response to such an evil. We must push evil and hate out of this world with one random act of kindness at a time. Each of us, every day, really can make a difference in this world. @anncurry reminded me of this.
So, stop protesting the NRA and the 2nd amendment. You’re not being helpful. Instead, why don’t you look around you, really open your eyes, and do something nice for someone that needs it. Sometimes a simple smile is all it takes to turn someone’s life around.
Composting: Reducing Waste & Cooking Up "Good Dirt"
A few weeks ago, I decided to start a compost pile. In hind sight, it’s definitely one of those things that, once you start doing it, you ask yourself, “Why the heck haven’t I been doing this the whole time??” It’s way easier than you might think, and in some ways, even more convenient than actually throwing the stuff away.
Here’s what I did:
I did some googling to learn about composting. The first site that popped up was http://www.composting101.com/, and it definitely had more than enough information to get me started. If you want to know all of the science behind it, it’s a great site to check out.
Next, I picked a spot. We’ve already been dumping grass clippings in the back “woods” behind our house. (I put it in quotations because it’s certainly no dense forest, but it’s a nice woodsy spot at the back of the property that we don’t really use.) I decided I would start the compost pile adjacent to the grass clippings pile. Composting 101 told me that a 3’ x 3’ pile was ideal, so that’s what I targeted.
Next, I searched for a good container to store my “soon-to-be-compost” trash in until I could dump it on the compost pile. I decided an old Olive Garden take-away soup bucket would work perfectly. (I particularly enjoy the Zuppa Toscana.) Anyway, the 1 quart bucket is just the right size.
Turns out, that’s basically all you need: a little bucket. So, after a few weeks, I’ve found composting to be quite convenient. I leave the bucket on the counter, fill it with leftover fruit/vegetable bits and egg shells, and dump it on the compost pile when I fill the bucket. I find stuffing things into the bucket is actually more convenient that throwing it in the trash. With the bucket right next to my cutting board, it just makes sense. Here’s a pic of my bucket being filled with leftover bits:
I’ve also been turning the compost pile about once per week. I think the recommended tool is a pitch fork, but I’ve been using a shovel, and that’s worked out just fine. It definitely seems to be breaking down the material rather quickly. In addition to the eligible kitchen scraps, I’ve also added some grass clippings each time we mow. It just helps balance out the pile with the right types of composting ingredients. Here’s a pic after turning the pile:
#MeatlessMonday: Baked Potato Soup and Chickpea Salad
Tonight, I’m whipping up a baked potato soup (hold the bacon) with a salad topped with chickpeas, maybe a few choice veggies, and feta cheese. I also have homemade bread on hand that I baked yesterday that will go quite nicely with the soup.
First, though, I must rake some leaves. I’m strapping the kiddo to my back in the @Ergobaby carrier and calling that my exercise for the day.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but our bed time routine is really starting to click for our 10 month old. Everyone kept telling me that consistency is key, and I think they’re right. A good routine, applied consistently and with lots of patience is proving to be quite the success. She knows what to expect, and she seems to be finding comfort and security in it. She’s falling asleep by herself by 7:30!! There were definitely nights when I thought this day would never come.
For those curious, here is how our routine plays out:
6:45 PM - Final breast feeding session of the night
7:00 PM - Bath time! We like to sing “Wheels on the bus” to practice some of the things we learn at swim lessons.
7:15 PM - Story time! She sits in my lap in the rocking chair and we read “The Hungry Caterpillar,” “The Going to Bed Book,” and “Goodnight Moon.” “Goodnight Moon” is always last and she really enjoys pointing to the moon. Finally, I hold her, turn out the light, sway back and forth as we say our prayers, and then I lay her down. I pet her back for a minute or two, tell her I love her, and then leave the room. She babbles or moans herself to sleep usually by 7:30, which is just awesome.
Every night isn’t always perfect. But, there have definitely been more and more good nights that play out smoothly. She’s really starting to figure it out, and it’s awesome. Consistency and patience really do seem to pay off.
I don’t know who started the meatless Monday idea, but I read about it on the Food Network blog. Essentially, the idea is to have a vegetarian meal once a week, or in this case, on Monday. I liked the idea and have been doing it for about a month now. It has inspired me to try new recipes and, perhaps, eat a few more vegetables.
I saw Giada present this Tomato Basil Bread Pudding recipe on the Today show recently, and I thought it would be a good Meatless Monday candidate. I picked up a bunch of fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market on Saturday with this recipe in mind. I modified it a little by using a combination of feta and parmesan cheeses, and I also sprinkled mozzarella cheese on the top. I have to admit, it was quite tasty and filling. I just served it with a salad on the side and called it dinner. It’s no surprise that this recipe gets five stars. Thanks, Giada!
#SleepTraining Phase 3: Move the Boob #Breastfeeding #BFing
While the kiddo has been showing some improvement with self-soothing, she definitely still needs parent interaction, particularly at 0430 when she should still be snoozing. Our doctor suggested we “move the boob” so she isn’t relying on the boob to get her into sleeping mode because she’s looking for similar interaction/cuddling in the night when she wakes.
So, tonight, we’ll move the boob to just before bath time. Crying is most assuredly to be involved. :/ Fortunately, though, if she/we survive this phase, it will most certainly make weaning easier when we get around to it.
I must admit, I have been weak at nap times. I know that if I give her the boob for a few minutes, she will relax enough to fall asleep. When she’s being fussy, I know the boob can bring peace. But, we can’t rely on the boob forever. I know it will be better for both of us if nap/sleep time isn’t so tied to breastfeeding. I want nap/sleep time to be a relaxing time for both of us.
Wish us luck and much patience as we endeavor into this next phase….
We enjoyed some of yesterday’s #homemade bread with dinner! Quite tasty despite the slices not being large enough for a sandwich. AND heaps less sodium and none of the chemicals of store-bought bread. I’ll definitely have to get back in the routine of making our own bread! Tastes better and it’s better for us!
#CryingItOut: Maybe Not Such a Bad #SleepTraining Idea
Well, after two weeks of successfully eliminating the middle of the night boob, we seem to have no choice but to exercise the cry-it-out philosophy when it comes to teaching our 9 month old to fall asleep on her own. I don’t know where I read it (as there seem to be tons of sleep training information out there), but I read that I shouldn’t “boob her to sleep”. Instead, I should cuddle her a bit and read her a book right before putting her down. That way, she can learn to fall asleep on her own, instead of nursing herself to sleep.
Well, that change has resulted in some unavoidable crying. I began by petting her back and preventing her from standing up and shushing her or singing to her at the same time. All of that has gradually been reduced to a gentle hand resting on her back, but not without some crying first.
After laying her down, gently patting her back, and giving her a kiss goodnight, we’ve been stepping out of the room with the hope that she’ll quietly drift off to sleep. Well, invariably, she pops back up and begins to cry and wail, clinging to her crib rail. We’ve been going in after 20 minutes to encourage her to lay back down. The first night? An hour of total crying and she finally fell asleep standing up, head resting on the crib rail. Poor kid. The second night? 40 minutes of crying, finally laid down after checking on her the second time. The third night? 20 minutes of crying and laid down nicely the first time I checked on her.
With luck, the crying times will gradually dwindle to zero (I hope and I pray!). I’d hoped to avoid the cry-it-out method, but it seems we’ve been unable to avoid it all together.
My other sleep goal? Master the art of day time naps. She’s only getting two 30-minute naps per day, but she should really get two 1-hour naps per day at least. If we can master this, I think she’ll sleep better at night too. Anyone have any tips for improving day time napping???
To #Cry or Not to Cry, That is the #Sleeptraining Question
Like many of you, I’ve been told many times that I need to let my daughter “cry-it-out”. And, I’ve tried and found it to be miserable and intolerable for all of us. I thought, there has to be a better way.
Some googling led me to some “gentler” sleep training methods, but ultimately, I learned that making a plan and sticking with it is the key. I can’t leave her to “cry-it-out” one night and boob her the next.
Let me give you some quick context so you know where I’m coming from. My daughter is 9 months old, she’s crawling and pulling herself to a stand, I breastfeed her, and she’s not into any sort of security objects or pacifiers. She was doing a pretty good job of snoozing through the night MOST of the time UNTIL she started this whole crawling and standing business. She started waking once or twice in the night, standing in her crib, and crying until I came in and boobed her back to sleep. Ugh…tired.
So, after about a month or so of this, we started trying to figure out how to get her back to snoozing through the night. As previously mentioned, the “crying-it-out” method wasn’t going so well - though probably due to my inability to let her cry for over an hour in the middle of the night. Maybe a few nights of her screaming until morning and her little baby emotions might have gone numb enough to give up, we’ll never know. And so, the need to develop a plan we could agree upon and live with became apparent.
Phase 1: Eliminate the night time boob. Offer water, hold her, pet her back, whatever it takes to soothe her back to sleep EXCEPT the boob. No boob until morning! During the day, focus on establishing a consistent nap schedule.
Phase 2: Gradually reduce the amount of parental soothing. For example, the first step of this could be no holding, and then work up to no back petting. Something like that. Introduction of a security object could come into play here.
We’re still in Phase 1, which I think will last a few weeks. I must say, it’s been easier than I thought to get her back to sleep without a boob. In fact, she’s even slept through the night two nights this week. Maybe if we’re lucky, she won’t need Phase 2. We’ll see.
Anyway, I’m feeling more confident about this approach to sleep training. There’s significantly less crying and much less tension. I know “cry-it-out” works for a lot of parents, but I just don’t think it’s right for us. We’ll stick with our plan for now and see where it takes us. The bottom line? Come up with a plan that works for your family.
#ClothDiapers Saved: The #StainRemoving Power of the #Sun
It turns out the sun is good for more than just photosynthesis, skin cancer, and keeping the Earth from careening through space at warp speed. It’s also pretty awesome at removing stains from your diapers (and anything else needing a stain removed). I’ve been really impressed with the results. I can hang a freshly washed diaper that has a poo stain, and take it down from the line a few hours later completely stain free. I tried to capture this effect on camera, but my ipod camera may not be of the best quality - and I’m certain there’s some user error. I don’t proclaim to be an amateur photographer, let alone a professional one. Nevertheless, here is a picture of one of the diapers fresh from the wash, but rocking an obvious yellow/orange poo stain:
Unfortunately, it doesn’t show up as well on the photo, but you can see it down the middle. The sun was just blaringly bright when I took this photo, so it was already working some sort of voodoo magic and making the stain difficult to catch on camera.
Here’s the same diaper a few hours later, with the stain completely gone thanks to the power of the sun (and absolutely no elbow grease from me; just the way I like it).
Ah, so fresh and so clean. :) No more poo stain. Nice, white diaper. Thank you, sun! That’s just one more thing you’re awesome at. Now, whatever will we do in winter time? Flushable poo liners? Maybe…fortunately, we’ve got quite a few months to figure it out.
@Wholesomebaby has great tips for making #homemade #baby #food
While googling around looking for information on homemade baby food, I came across this site by @wholesomebaby. It has a TON of information, and I really like how organized the site is. It’s basically become my pocket reference guide to homemade baby foods. Sure, I have a chart from our pediatrician that provides the knitty gritty details on how many tbsps of each food group my kiddo should be eating, but it doesn’t tell me all of the Stage 1 and Stage 2 foods or how to prepare them. I’m guessing the doctor assumes most people buy baby food in well-labeled glass jars and plastic containers. That’s all well and good, but I really wanted to go the homemade route if I could.
I recently baked apricots per the suggested procedure on @wholesomebaby’s site, and I was surprised how well they turned out. Here’s a pic of them right after I pulled them out of the oven:
You can see how the skin is just starting to pucker up a bit. Once they cooled, the skins just fell right off. It was pretty cool. By baking them this way, in a pan of water at 400 degrees F, very little of the apricot is wasted. The skin literally falls off in your hands, and you’re left with the yummy pulp. It didn’t take much pureeing with the immersion blender to get this wonderfully smooth product:
I then spooned the apricot puree into an ice cube tray (just your normal ice cube tray, nothing fancy), and popped it into the freezer overnight. After they froze, I dumped the cubes into a labeled & dated freezer bag.
It’s an awesome way to make, store, and prep baby food. Whenever my kiddo is ready to eat, I just pop a cube in the microwave for 25 seconds to melt it. Then, I sometimes stir in oatmeal cereal with a little booby milk. I’ve also started mixing different cubes together sometimes for a little different flavor. For example, today I put an apricot cube and a banana cube together and melted it. A little oatmeal, and voila, a yummy tropical tasting breakfast. I thought it tasted pretty good, and I didn’t hear any complaints from the kiddo.
So, if you haven’t yet, check out the tips from @wholesomebaby and give homemade baby food a try. It’s way easier than you think, and quite possibly the healthier, and more economical option.
The Immersion Blender: The Unsung Hero of Today's #Kitchen
Let me start by saying I love my immersion blender. It was a Christmas present from my husband a couple of years ago. I kept asking and asking for one, but he would always make some comment about how it wasn’t really necessary and how much was I really going to use it anyway. Maybe he was just saying those things so he could surprise me for Christmas. :)
While I agree that it isn’t necessary and that I could get by without it, man, it sure is handy. I initially wanted it to purée soups and the like, but it sure is awesome for all kinds of things. Mine is a KitchenAid, and it is one powerful little bugger. It purées chunks of frozen fruit with orange juice in no time, and clean up is way easier than a food processor.
My latest and greatest use for it is puréeing homemade baby food. It is AWESOME at it. I can really control how finely it is puréed because I can see it, watch the way it gets pulled into the base of the blender and know if it needs more liquid, more purée time, or if it’s done. And, again, cleanup is a breeze. Tonight I puréed green beans with it. Seriously, just tossed them in, added a bit of water, and went to town on it. I’m so impressed.
I even use it when I just feel like the wire whisk just isn’t cutting the muster. For example, the custard for French toast, or just whisking eggs, in general. Want to get rid of those whites that just won’t whisk up? Just insert the immersion blender for a few seconds and bam, that’s one smooth, uniform liquid. It just makes eggs and French toast that much yummier.
As you can plainly see, I really do love my immersion blender. I hope it will continue to be a hero in my kitchen for years to come.
So, I passed on the opportunity to participate in this year’s flats challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry (click link above for more info). When folks were initially tweeting about it, I didn’t think much about it. I never really looked into it. I just figured it was some sort of contest that a bunch of the cloth diaper bloggers were doing. But, once the challenge started and I started reading about other people’s experiences, it started to pique my interest. It REALLY got my attention when I read the day 7 blog post by @MyCDStash. She decided that the knowledge she gained from doing the #flatschallenge should be shared with others. It should be shared with the families that can’t afford disposable diapers. There is a cheap cloth diapering option out there. AND, they can be hand washed, if you don’t have a washer/dryer. She is going to pursue teaching a cloth diaper 101 class to show families that they have options.
I thought this was truly brilliant. I’m going to discuss this with my church group, as well, to see if we could do a similar class in our community. There are at least a couple of us cloth diapering mommas that I think would be interested in doing this. Thanks, @MyCDStash for the wonderful idea!
I don’t know if the rest of you #clothdiapering mommas have had this happen to you, but lately I’ve noticed that my washing machine smells like pee. My diapers have been coming out clean and smelling fresh, so I don’t know why the stink has been happening. Today, after washing diapers, I decided to run a hot cycle in the washer without anything in it. I just added a cup of bleach and let the wash cycle do the rest. That seemed to do the trick. Maybe I need to do this every so often to keep the washer fresh and clean…
Has this ever happened to you? What did you do to fix it??
#FamilyTravel with an Infant: Not as horrifying as you might think
We recently completed a 1000 mile road trip with our five month old daughter. It was our first time traveling with her, and we were nervous considering she’s been known to go bonkers in the car after 15 minutes. Based on what worked for us, here are some tips to help your next family road trip go more smoothly:
1. Formulate a game plan! That’s right, you and your husband are a team, and it’s important to agree that you’re actually on the SAME team. Discuss your strategy ahead of time. How long will you let the baby cry? What “degree” of crying warrants an ASAP stop? How often do you plan to stop for feeding/changes/exercise? Etc…
2. Take turns riding in the back with the kiddo, especially during awake time. Infants can’t exactly help themselves when it comes to picking up a dropped toy or pacifier. It helps when this sort of situation can be immediately rectified before the kiddo finds herself stuck on the crying channel. Not to mention, you can feed baby while on the road to cut down on time spent at the rest areas.
3. Have baby feeding and entertainment essentials close at hand so you can safely access them while cruising down the road.
4. Print a list of the rest area locations. That way, if baby starts to cry, you can determine if you can make it to the next rest area, or if you need to pull over sooner.
5. Drive while the kiddo sleeps! We hit the road by 5 AM so we could get 2-3 hours of driving while the kiddo finished up her sleep. It’s a good way to cover some ground early in the day.
6. Plot your course ahead of time! If you’re using a GPS, plot your course before your travel day and make sure it does, indeed, go the way you want to go. If you have an iPhone or iPad (or other smart phone), I highly recommend checking for traffic updates. We used our iPad to check traffic patterns via Bing maps. Nothing is worse than being stuck in traffic with a crying baby. Check traffic flow as you go and adjust your route accordingly. There’s a ton of summer construction projects going on out there. Don’t let one of them ruin your day!
7. BE PATIENT! Accept that traveling with a baby is going to take longer. You just can’t strap a kid down for 17 hours. What you once could do in one day is now going to take two. Stop for breaks every 2-3 hours. Just relax and enjoy this time with your family! One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a memorable trip!