Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wild life

One of our favorite and least expensive family past times is exploring mountains, scenery and small towns (which usually means lots of day trips)! We like to pack up snacks and a picnic meal and head out for some exploration. Yesterday we decided to go on a road trip (a whole day trip, really). We drove all over the central region of Colorado. We explored Georgetown, Guanella Pass, Clear Lake and Buena Vista before coming back home on Hwy. 24 through some of the towns we've visited before.

We had a lot of fun and got some really great photos of beautiful Colorado!

The no-name tunnel on 1-70 west of Denver.

Clear Lake.

Clear Lake.

Guanella Pass was closed past Clear Lake so we had to turn around and head back down to get back to I-70 and these mountain goats stood in our way! It was quite a sight!

The Eisenhower tunnel on I-70.

It's always interesting to see the ski slopes in the off season!

Leadville, Colorado (tiny town USA)!

I believe these are part of the collegiate peaks.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The pumpkin plant that was a squash that really is a pumpkin!!

Remember this garden post where I told you about my "squash". Ha! Well, it really is a pumpkin after all. Just look at it!

This was taken on 8/17. Please disregard the crying 3 year old who DID NOT want to take a picture with the pumpkin!

And this was taken on 8/21.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cloth diapers - washing routine.

In case you missed it, here is my post on what our cloth diaper stash is like.

I sometimes get asked by people who don't cloth diaper about my washing routine and when I explain it, they realize that it's not nearly as yucky as one would think. So, I thought I'd tell you about it.

Wipes: Since we use cloth diapers we also use cloth wipes when at home. I do not pack cloth wipes for when we're out because I use wipes for a lot more than just wiping bottoms. We use disposable wipes for cleaning the kids' hands and faces after they've eaten, cleaning hands after playgrounds, etc. So, I just keep disposable wipes in the diaper bag. But, this is what my wipe stash at home looks like (I made them all from flannel (monkey, giraffe and plain yellow) with microfiber terry on the reverse):I use soapy bottom wipe solution cubes from Sweet Sydney Bean. And I LOVE them! I made my wipes the correct size to fit in a standard wipe container and used an overedge stitch so the flannel doesn't fray.

Pail: I use a dry pail method and have a pail right next to Rachael's changing table in her bedroom upstairs and I also have one in the garage. I keep a wetbag (I have one from Petunias and one a friend made as a gift) in the diaper bag and whenever we are out and I have to change a diaper. The changing table is just out of view to the left and the red trash can is for the few disposables we use.

When Rachael was exclusively breastfed, no rinsing was required because breastmilk poop is completely water soluble. Now that she eats solids (mostly table food) that is not the case. There is a difference in how I get rid of the poop depending on what kind of diaper she is in.
* If she has on a prefold, I do actually rinse the diaper in the toilet. To do this I put on a pair of rubber cleaning gloves, rinse several times until all solids have been removed, then wring out the water and toss it into the pail. I then scrub my cleaning gloves with soap and HOT water!
*If she has on a pocket diaper (BumGenius, Mommy's Touch, Rumparooz) that has a micro fleece or suede cloth lining, then the poop can usually just be flicked off into the toilet (no rinsing) then tossed into the pail. It only sticks to this kind of fiber if it's runny...

Washing: I typically wash every 2-3 days. As I'm loading the washer I pull out all inserts from the pocket diapers. I also try to start my wash at night before I go to bed so they can soak over night.
* Fill machine with cold water, about 2 T. of Bac-Out, let agitate and then soak over night. (My machine doesn't have a soak cycle option, so I set it to a regular cycle then leave the lid open, it will stop and soak after it's finished agitating).
* In the morning I close the lid and let it drain and spin -which takes about 1 minute (since I don't have the soak option, I stand by my machine, it stops for about 5 seconds in between the spin and drawing for the rinse, so this is where I open it again). Then I reset the machine to start a new load on heavy duty with a hot wash/cold rinse.
* I put in 1/2 a scoop of BioKleen free and clear powder detergent with 1/2 a scoop of OxiClean and let it wash like normal. (I only use the BioKleen on my diapers because it's pretty expensive, so we use a different free and clear detergent for our clothing BUT the box of BioKleen that I have has lasted me a whole year!!)

Drying: Everything except my covers goes into the dryer. I dry on high heat with NO softeners. I hang the covers on clip hangers on the rod in my laundry room and they are typically dry in about 20 minutes.

The only other thing I do is when everything is dry and I'm folding it all to put away, I go ahead and stuff all of the pocket diapers. This saves a ton of time when you're trying to change a wiggly baby - just grab the diaper and fasten it on, no stuffing necessary.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cloth diapering - an update!

Let me just say that cloth diapering is such an awesome thing! People who have not researched it probably think we're nuts, but with the options out there today, it's really not much different than using disposables.

Here is a link to all of my other posts on our adventure into cloth diapering. It is the progression of when we started with Eli (he was nearly 2) and on to cloth diapering Rachael who is now almost 11 months old. Eli is finally potty trained - though he does wear Target brand pullups at night because he refuses to wear anything cloth and I refuse to change sheets in the middle of the night since he isn't night trained yet - we're working on it.

We almost exclusively cloth diaper Rachael. The only times I put her disposables are when she will be in a nursery or someone else's care and need her diaper changed (church nursery, MOPS nursery, gym child care, babysitter, etc.). If we are going out and I'll be the one changing her, I just pack a couple extra cloth diapers and a wetbag. We go thru a little less than one small size package of disposables at month (Target brand costs just over $6).

So, here is what we currently have in rotation:
* 10 one-size BumGenius 3.0's (just yesterday purchased 6 of them from a craigslist ad and just started using them today, so we've only had 4 in our stash until now)
* 2 Thirsties pocket AIO's in size medium
* 12 diaper service quality infant prefolds with 3 Thirsties covers (size medium) - I would love to have one more cover though, because I frequently run out of covers and still have clean prefolds...
* 1 one-size Rumparooz
* 1 one-size Mommy's Touch
* 1 one-size Baby Kicks fitted (it's a fitted so I use a Thirsties cover with it)
* 12 Motherease fitteds with 2 Motherease covers (these were purchased for Eli from a craigslist ad and I only use them with Rachael if I'm doing a load of diapers and out of everything else because they don't fit her very well)

While I'm at home, I mostly use the prefolds with a cover. For naptime, I wrap a microterry doubler inside it for extra absorbency.

Night time is always a one-size diaper. My favorite for night time is the Mommy's Touch because it has snaps and she doesn't have to wear shorts over it when it's hot since she can't unsnap it, but I only have one of those, so I use whatever is clean (Mommy's Touch, BumGenius or Rumparooz). Rachael is not a very heavy wetter so I don't even double up the soakers.

Other than night time, I try to make sure I always have a couple one-sizes available for outings simply because they are faster to change. If I don't have any available, I usually go ahead and prepare a prefold in a clean cover so I don't have to do the folding with a wiggly baby (because she is VERY wiggly)!

I'll wrap this up for now and do another post on our washing routine in a few days.

**I was going to add a few photos in Rachael in some of her diapers but she would NOT cooperate with the photographing.**

Updated: Here's a subsequent post I wrote about my washing routine.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Shampoo Free, Do-Over

I did it! I've accomplished going shampoo-free!! If you don't remember my first attempt, here is my fail post.

I had lots of problems figuring out what mixture worked for me and the time it was taking to get it applied to my scalp/hair, so I gave up. Then, a few weeks later I realized I can't stand shampooing my hair every day and the way my hair gets so dependent on shampoo, otherwise my scalp turns into an oil slick. So, I decided to give it another go - that was on May 19 and I haven't looked back.

I finally found what works for me. I know this will seem like a lot of baking soda, but I have fairly thick hair. I use between 1/2 and 2/3 of a cup of baking soda. Using a funnel, I pour the baking soda into an old 13 oz. conditioner bottle, then fill with hot water - then shake to mix. Once my hair is wet, I slowly pour the mixture over my scalp while massaging it in with my other hand.

This method seems to work wonderfully for me. I have been washing every other day (except a few days when I was in Florida and had been at the beach and needed to clean on my off day) and then on the days I don't use the baking soda mixture, I rinse my hair really well with hot water. I have had no adjustment issues or oil problems and my eczema completely cleared up within a week of going off shampoo!!

I am still using a super moisturizing conditioner and a leave in cream on my ends because I haven't been able to quit those due to breakage and severe split ends - even with trying the apple cider vinegar rinse and other options I found.

As of right now, I am extremely happy with my scalp and this new cleaning method and plan to continue it indefinitely.

* Since I've been going thru quite a lot of baking soda I started buying the bulk (10#) bags at Costco and it seems that one bag will last between 4 and 6 months, depending on how much baking I do*

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Garden update

I thought it was time I give you all an update on my garden. The following photos were taken about a week ago and everything is a bit bigger now.

* In the back, on the far left and just left of center (the tallest plants) are all tomatoes. This year I started them from seed in my kitchen window - they are all large red cherry and there are 5 plants. I started them a little later than I should have, but was still able to transplant them in mid-May. They have done really well so far and have a lot of fruit on them, I imagine they will be starting to ripen soon!
* In the back, just to the right of the tomatoes are 2 jalapeno plants but you can't really see them because they are hiding underneath the giant tomato plants. They are producing nicely and I'm harvesting about 2 peppers per week.
* In the center (the staked plants) are potatoes. I started them on my own from organic red potatoes - I did not use seed potatoes so I have no idea how they will turn out - it was more experiment than anything... They have not been hilled properly but they are quite tall and staked up to save ground/walking space.
* In the back right corner are Elite White peas that have not done well. I planted them mid-May also and they still aren't very tall and definitely are not producing. I haven't yanked them yet because I'm just waiting and I don't need the space yet.
* Just below the peas is a patch that has lettuce and cilantro. Yum! The cilantro is just about finished and I pulled up all but 2 plants today. The lettuce continues to be wonderful!
* The bushy section in the middle right in front is carrots. These are doing wonderfully, as well. I have dug up carrots 2 times since this photo was taken so they are starting to get a little sparse. I realize now that I really should have thinned them when they first sprouted because they are quite interesting looking. Some are curly and squished together and some are even twisted together because they were too close. They still taste yummy, though!
* Just to the left of the carrots is a strawberry plant. It's a bit hard to see because of the squash leaves. It's a very pretty plant that has grown nicely, but has only produced 3 strawberries, all yummy, but I'm not sure what's up with it...
* The last thing I want to tell you about is that squash plant. Here's a better photo:

YIKES! It's out of control. First off, this is actually only 2 plants. And they are from some seeds that Eli planted in a cup as a preschool activity. When he brought them home, I never in a million years thought they would amount to anything. But, then it sprouted and began to grow, so I transplanted it into the garden and apparently it REALLY likes it there! It was suppose to be a "pumpkin" plant (at least that's what the cup said), but it turns out it's yellow squash. It is producing nicely with about 10 squash on it right now. We will never be able to eat it all so we will be giving some of it away. Right now, there's one that needs picking that is nearly the diameter of a basketball and oval shaped. It doesn't have the long neck that squash usually have, but it's definitely squash and NOT pumpkin!

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this squash plant grows at least an inch a day!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Burns of the second degree variety

This weekend was Michael's section camp out. It was suppose to be Friday night thru Sunday, but we opted to skip the camping part and instead decided to head to Denver's Cherry Creek State Park to meet up with everyone for the cookout yesterday afternoon.

We packed all the gear - and snacks - we would need to spend the rest of the evening visiting friends and having fun. We arrived just before 4:00 and unloaded. Michael took the boys for a walk around the camp site, then they came back and roasted their own hotdogs over the open fire while our host grilled up everything else. (The face painting was from the zoo in the morning).
Our hosts allowed the boys to use their camper to watch movies, so they spent a bit of time watching a movie, then outside playing and eating and were really well occupied and safe since there were so many adults and older children present. And Rachael was her normal, happy self!!

We enjoyed our evening, but figured that by the time we had driven the hour home and gotten unloaded and everyone settled it would be pretty late, so at about 7:30 we began packing up. We had EVERYTHING packed and were ready to load the boys in the van (Rachael had already been buckled in and was snoozing!), when Eli said to me "mommy, that was hot" and pointed to a stray hot coal on the ground outside the fire pit. By this point he was squeezing his finger with a panicked, painful look on his face...

I took a look at his fingers and asked him what happened and he told me he had picked it up. Yeouch! I immediately sent him to dunk his hand in a cooler full of ice and water. Then looked over to Jacob and it turns out he had done the same thing. Repeat.

So, we gave them cups of ice water to keep dunking their hands in on our drive home - it was quite an interesting journey home with two boys crying and in quite a bit of pain. We made a stop at Walgreens for some BurnStuff and proceeded home to bandage them up. Turns out they both have 2nd degree burns in small spots on their fingers. Eli has blisters on his left thumb, index and middle fingers. Jacob only managed to touch it with his thumb, but his blister is a bit larger and looks worse.

(Bedtime last night with bandages on fingers.)

They both seem quite a bit better today and aren't in nearly as much pain. It's funny how these things happen just as you're getting ready to leave, when you think you've made it through the outing without any injuries...