Monday, August 8, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 2! Something You Regret Not Having Done Last Year

I'm going to alter this one to be: Something you regret not having done in the last 12 months, as we're well past the new year.

I really regret not trying harder at breast-feeding. With all the hubbub of World Breastfeeding Week, I have really felt attacked by "lactivists" recently. Yes, I made the decision to formula feed Monkey. But I also felt, at the time, that I had really given breast-feeding a fair shot.

We tried to exclusively breast-feed for six weeks. We had some major roadblocks: I had a breast reduction in 2003, 7 years and a few weeks before Monkey was born. During the procedure, the surgeon made an incision that looks like an anchor, he started on my side, almost as high as my armpit, and cut under my breast all the way around to the other side, and then made an incision from the middle of the under-side of my breast up and around my nipple, on both sides. The purpose of cutting around the nipples (removing them) was to make them proportionate to the rest of my breast post-reduction. This, of course, resulted in severed nerves, which makes breast-feeding VERY difficult. Even 7 years post-op, the nerves on my left breast hadn't fully healed, meaning Monkey was never able to establish a good latch on the left side. This meant that I was trying to exclusively breast-feed a very frustrated baby on just one breast. Add in reduced supply because of the tissue that was removed during my reduction - there's no way to know what kind of tissue is being removed, as everything (except fat) looks the same - and, well, you can see the problem!

On top of those issues, I also had a spinal headache for 5 days after delivery, which greatly affected my initial supply. During the placement and use of my epidural, the needle punctured a small hole in the tissue surrounding my spinal column, and I was leaking spinal fluid, the stuff that keeps your brain in suspension. I eventually had to have a blood patch, a simple procedure in which a nurse draws blood from your arm (she took A LOT of blood - 20 CCs) while an anesthesiologist reopens the epidural site. The blood is then inserted into the site and coagulates around the leak; basically a blood band-aid. While spinal headaches are not uncommon, one as bad as mine is VERY rare; my mom (who was a labor and delivery nurse for 16 years) had never seen a blood patch until mine. In the days between coming home from the hospital and returning for a blood patch, I progressed from having what felt like a dehydration/caffeine-withdrawal fueled headache, to hardly being able to lift my head to look someone in the eye, to not being able to get out of bed and walk on two feet - the day of my blood patch, someone had to hold me up or I'd have to crawl on all fours. I had a CT scan just before the blood patch was performed, and the doctor said my brain was essentially resting against my skull, matter to bone. Try to breast-feed when you can't lift your head up; it's not easy.

Breast-feeding is hard work. I really don't feel like I was prepared for it; I felt that it would just come naturally, and for some women - and babies - it does. This time, I know what to prepare for. I know that it hurts like hell; that bloody, chapped nipples are normal; that owning a comfy chair is a must, as that's where you basically live while establishing breast-feeding and supply; that drinking lots and lots and LOTS of water is not an option.

The fact is: I feed my baby. She's healthy and happy and growing and developing just like she should be. Yes, I regret not trying harder at breast-feeding, but I know that we have an awesome relationship despite, maybe even in spite of, all the difficulties breast-feeding threw our way.

And I know that I have a second chance with Niblet. Here's to hoping she's not a pirhana like her big sister!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 1! Something I'm Looking Forward to This Year

The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the topic for today was seeing Niblet in her newborn diapers! I hope to start using cloth in the hospital (as long as they allow us to; if not, we'll start as soon as we get home), and I'm in love with the (few) tiny diapers we have. A friend of mine loaned me some Thirsties newborn covers and some newborn fleece covers, which are adorable. We'll be ordering 20 Green Mountain Diapers Workhorse fitteds in September, and already have a few Kissaluvs size 0. The Kissas have a snap-down notch to accommodate the cord-stump those first few days, which just adds to the cuteness of them. I took a picture this last week of a fitted and cover that Monkey is currently in, snapped to her current size, next to a picture of a fitted and cover that Niblet will wear when she arrives.

Of course, I'm also looking forward to Monkey's birthday next month! We decided to go with a monkey theme (it's only fitting) and will be celebrating with a big group of friends and family. I'm not allowing myself to stress over her party; after all, the whole point is to enjoy her big day!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Been Waaaaay Too Long!

I've honestly been aching to post for awhile now, but keep getting distracted, so I'm going to challenge myself (again) to blog about something for 30 days. I'm using this list as a jumping-off point. There are 3 "open" days, so I think I'll do a recipe, a photo, and a project on those days.

Since it's been so long since I've updated, there have been even more major changes (or updates) to our situation. Here's a quick run-down:
  1. My brother-in-law married my cousin on June 9th. We're very happy for them, and can't wait to meet our nephew around Thanksgiving.
  2. My mom passed away very unexpectedly on June 22nd. She had a massive heart attack while taking her normal afternoon nap and passed away instantly. I'm immensely grateful that she felt no pain, and that she died in her own bed with her husband by her side. I'm also extremely sad that she won't be here to see Monkey turn one, or meet Niblet, or any of her other grand-babies. Niblet's birth, and this holiday season in particular, will be very difficult, but I have amazing in-laws who will be by our sides.
  3. Niblet is another little girl! Monkey knows there's a baby in my belly, and wakes me up every morning by giving baby sister kisses (eg: Blowing raspberries on my tummy). She's still due at the beginning of November, and every night is a dance party in my belly!
  4. Monkey had a HUGE week last week! She took her first steps on Sunday, started clapping on Monday, started using some very clear words ("down," "hi," "buh-bye," in addition to "dada," and "mama," which have already been a part of her vocabulary) mid-week, and her first tooth broke through on the next Sunday morning! It was amazing to see her grow up so much all in just a few days. We got her first pair of shoes today (and we got a pair of tennis shoes in the next size up, since the store was having a sale. Two pairs of shoes for $22; yes, please!).
Me and Monkey on the Fourth of July. We spent her first Fourth with my step-dad on the coast.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Year of the Staycation!

I was VERY excited when I saw that Toni at The Happy Housewife was co-hosting a multi-blogger event called The Year of the Staycation. I was even MORE excited when I saw that the hosts were looking for bloggers from all across the country, so I put my name in, and received an email a few weeks later confirming that I would be blogging about local staycation adventures in the Bakersfield, CA area.

One of the reasons I was so excited to do this post was because I grew up here, but seem to have forgotten all the wonderful (and CHEAP) things there are to do around here, and now that I have a baby of my own to raise (and hopefully homeschool) here, it was time for a crash course in what Bakersfield has to offer!

First on my list is the California Living Museum, or CALM. This small zoo specializes in housing animals that are native to the central valley and mountains of southern and central California. One very unique feature about CALM is that all of the animals are unable to live outside of the zoo - not because they've been raised in the zoo, but because of traumatic injuries that would make life outside of the zoo far too dangerous. CALM is also home to many endangered species. Operated by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, CALM is located at 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93306. There is a golf course, campground, lake, and soccer complex nearby. Admission is $9.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors over the age of 60, $5.00 for children ages 3-12, and kids under the age of 3 are free.

Up close and personal with a black bear at CALM

Next up is the Kern County Museum. The museum offers a fun glimpse at Kern County and Bakersfield's history, from Black Gold (oil) to The Bakersfield Sound (a very distinct genre of country music, think Buck Owens and Merle Haggard). Kids can learn how Kern County's pioneers survived and thrived in our arid, hot climate. The Kern County Museum is also home to the Lori Brock Children's Discovery Center. Also run by the Superintendent of Schools, the museum is located at 3801 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301. Admission is free for museum members, adults are $10.00, seniors are $9.00, students are $7.00-9.00 depending on age, and children under the age of 3 are free.

Bakersfield is also home to many wonderful parks. With the hot weather quickly approaching, the splash parks that have been replacing public pools are beginning to open up during the weekends. Our favorite park is The Park at Riverwalk. This park offers direct access to the city-spanning bike path and walking trail, along with lots of space for kids to run and play, and a small creek that is available to play in. Other popular parks are the central Beach Park, which is nestled next to the Kern River, and is a very popular destination for families; there is a skate park at Beach Park, so even older kids will enjoy themselves; Beale Park offers a large amphitheater, perfect for impromptu plays put on by kids with great imaginations!

Kern County boasts many lakes, and some great smaller towns. Shafter is home to the BugSeum, which is exactly what it sounds like: a museum full of bugs. Visit Tehachapi any time of the year for cooler temperatures than Bakersfield; make sure you stop and see the famous Tehachapi Loop, and pick some fresh apples in the fall.

Enjoy your Kern County staycation! Even if you loved these places as a kid, they're still fun, and so much has been added!

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's Been Awhile

I was just reading through some of my most "recent" posts, and I can't believe how much has changed!

First off, Monkey is HUGE! And mobile! My little girl has been crawling for just over a month now, and can even pull herself up on furniture (and our legs). It just amazes me how quickly she's growing up. 

Secondly, my little girl is going to be a BIG sister! We got a surprise positive pregnancy test at the end of February, and I'm due at the beginning of November. I'm so excited, but am honestly terrified of having two little ones 14 months apart. But heck, my grandmother did it, I can do it! Right?

Right now, we're calling this baby Niblet. We find out on June 13 what we're having. 

I guess not much else has changed, but those two things are really making a big difference in our lives.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Just Keep Getting Crunchier and Crunchier!

We FINALLY have a store in town that sells cloth diapers, and everything green! Woo hoo!!!

This means that I'm going to be getting a whole lot crunchier. I am so so excited!

Already this week (I know it's Friday for everyone else, but around our house, it's Wednesday), I've cut up 3 t-shirts to replace the paper towels we won't be buying anymore, started washing my face using the oil cleansing method, and I've started washing our laundry with Soap Nuts.

The best part is that HubbyButt doesn't mind that our house is getting greener by the second!

Having Greenshops open up this week was such a blessing! We just discovered that Monkey is allergic to microsuede and microfleece, which is what most of the stay-dry linings on our cloth diapers are. That means that those diapers are no longer going to be part of our rotation for Monkey (I wanted to sell them, but HubbyButt and his mom convinced me to keep them for baby number two - who is NOT currently in the works). That also means that Monkey has been in the same 16 diapers all week! She's NOT allergic to natural fibers, so we've been using our unbleached cotton prefolds and the two bamboo fitteds we own.

Thankfully, Greenshops carries organic bamboo (OBV) AND organic cotton fitteds! Yaaay! We were able to really stock up on diapers for Monkey today during their sidewalk sale. We got a 6 pack of OBV fitteds and a single cotton fitted, plus a bag of Soap Nuts and a gorgeous new sling for just over $100! It was a total steal and I'm thrilled!

I'm so excited to get some action shots of the sling in particular. It's pink silk and is absolutely gorgeous!

In other wonderful news, Monkey rolled from back to belly for the first time today! She's been rolling from belly to back since the beginning of November, but hadn't been able to figure out how to get back until today, when I was moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I guess it's time to start babyproofing!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Product Review: Nacho Dipes AND Itsy Bitsy Bums

A few weeks before Christmas, I was desperately searching for a Christmas diaper for Monkey's bum. After a very disappointing address issue which resulted in a lost diaper, Abby at Itsy Bitsy Bums contacted me with a really really cute diaper for sale. A few days later this came in the mail.

I am in LOVE with this diaper! It's from Nacho Dipes and is made of organic bamboo velour on the inside. It's so soft and super absorbant. There's even a hidden layer of PUL (polyurethane laminate) that makes it waterproof, so we don't have to cover up the cute print! One of my favorite things about this diaper is that it has 2 sets of snaps; one is under the wings and adjusts the rise, instead of having a front snapping rise like the rest of our diapers. I also love that it has cross-over snaps so it fits very skinny babies, like Monkey, really snugly, but I think it would also fit a bigger baby as well. In the photo above, it's snapped all the way across on both sides to fit very small babies.

Even though Christmas is long over, I still put Monkey in this diaper on a regular basis. I expect we'll get a lot of use out of our first WAHM dipe!

Abby was so awesome to work with, too! Along with the diaper, she also sent me a sample of Grandma El's Diaper Remedy, which is a diaper rash gel that is totally cloth diaper safe. It can also be used as a preventative and smells so good! I'm seriously considering moving all of my coconut oil to the kitchen (it's really tasty in scrambled eggs!) and investing in Grandma El's; it clears up Monkey's rashes in at most two diaper changes.

Itsy Bitsy Bums has a really great selection and awesome prices. When we have a second baby, we'll be ordering the newborn rental package, rather than investing in a stash of diapers that the baby will outgrow in just a few short weeks. She also regularly offers free shipping on order $35 and over; if you pop over to her site right now, she's offering a free Planet Wise wet bag on orders over $25 along with the free shipping! That is a great deal!

These are not solicited reviews. I love these items and sellers, and just want to spread the word!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Diaper Is Finally Finished!

A few weeks ago I posted about making a cloth diaper using the Rita's Rump Pocket pattern. I couldn't figure out how to put the elastic in, so I put the project on hold.

Until today.

A fellow cloth diapering momma on BabyCenter posted a link to this tutorial. The directions are well-written and easy to understand as long as you look closely at the pictures. I love the idea of using a safety pin to pull the elastic through the casing; it makes it easy to guide it through, and tacking it down at the end is wonderful.

Since this was my first time doing it, I didn't know how large or small to make the leg openings. They ended up being a bit too large, but I'm sure Monkey will grow into them.

The Mommy Club

Children have this odd way of touching every part of our lives. It's wonderful, but it can be frustrating at times as well. Yes, there are some things I have to miss out on, but those are generally few and far between, and the time spent with my husband and daughter more than makes up for what being a mommy prevented me from doing.

But that's not what this post is about. This post is about the biggest blessing my daughter has given me (aside from the blessing of being her mommy). She's given me friends.

What started as a quest to find playmates for Monkey has turned into me meeting a wonderful group of women that I've become very close to. Our daughters (yes, they're all moms of girls; I have yet to meet any moms of boys near Monkey's age) are all under 8 months old, and we're all first time moms. That means we're all learning the same lessons, and that makes it very easy to come out of my shell and really connect with these women.
 I've always been painfully shy. I was picked on in youth group, and had the same small group of friends from fifth grade until we graduated from high school. I loved them, and I still do, but the only other one that's a mommy lives 3 states away.

Becoming a mommy has changed all that. I'm now a member of MOPS at our church (teehee, I even got a gift card to a local restaurant when a pediatric dentist came and spoke to the group. I was the newest mommy, Monkey was only 7 weeks old). Monkey and I tend to have at least one playdate a week, usually with Anna and Smiley, but we've been meeting with other moms and babies as well. Yesterday my new friend Georgina brought her daughter Clara (who is about 2 weeks older than Monkey) over for playtime. Monkey and Clara played and "talked" while Georgina and I watched Gilmore Girls, talked diapers, feeding schedules, introducing solids ... you know, all that good mom stuff. We really enjoyed having them over!

I've also met one other full-time cloth diapering momma! It was so wonderful to meet someone that enjoys diapering as much as I do. She works full time, so we don't get together that often, but it's still nice to know she's got more experience, and that if I need to I can call her and get help troubleshooting any diapering issues we run into.

I love my daughter so much, and I am so grateful for the wonderful women that she's introduced me to.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Product Reviews

I'd love to start doing product reviews! If you know of anyone seeking an honest, unbiased opinion on their product, or if you have a product you'd like me to review, please contact me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Amazing What A Vacuum Can Do

Confession time: I've never been a fan of vacuums. Until I started using them, when I was about 12, I was terrified of them. I would leave the room, or even leave the house, whenever my mom started that evil sucker up. Now that I'm all grown up, I honestly don't vacuum nearly as often as I should, but Monkey has proven that she can move herself around, so I'll have to start doing this most dreaded task daily.

In fact, just this morning I vacuumed the living room. It made such a huge difference! First off, I had to pick all the toys and blankets up off the floor, and then getting all the yucky stuff that we drag around the house just transformed the room! Yes, it's still cluttered, especially the table and the couch, but it looks so so so much cleaner!

I really do feel more relaxed and like a better wife and mom when my house feels clean and is somewhat tidy (I don't like everything to be perfect, because what fun is that?). I feel like I'm more able to focus on having fun with my daughter and like HubbyButt can come home from work and relax and focus on his family, rather than trying to find somewhere to sit down.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Works For Me Wednesday

This is gonna be a quick one! When Monkey gets hungry, she thinks she's going to starve to death. Unfortunately, her formula has to sit for 5 minutes after being mixed, to allow the rice starch to settle and thicken. While we're waiting for her bottle to be ready, I change her toosh. 5 minutes is the perfect amount of time for a diaper change, and she generally forgets how hungry she is during her time on the changing table.

That's what works for me this Wednesday, what works for you?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Update

 Goals For This Week
Prepare and stick to a meal plan
Clean and organize the kitchen
Clean and organize our closet
Clean and organize the laundry area
Slim down to 220 pounds
Keep up with Bible and Bible study readings
Take lots and lots of pictures of Monkey, HubbyButt and myself (I'll never be done with this one!)

So, I didn't stick to my goals for the week, but I did get other stuff done!

Update on Cleaning Goals

On Monday, HubbyButt and I got our room totally clean.

 It's now much more functional! I finally got HubbyButt to move the DVD player and PlayStation from our bedroom to the living room. The bookshelf in the first picture is now between our bed and the entertainment center, and it's totally organized, there's nothing spilling out of it now!

I WILL be tackling our closet this week, it's a disaster!

I also got the kitchen organized, but forgot to take before and after
pictures. I moved all the spices, baking supplies and bread to the pantry so the cats can't get to them, then I organized the kitchen rack with all the mixing and serving bowls. Pots and pans are still in a lower cabinet, but they are organized. The biggest surprise in completing this task was finding about 100 bags of popcorn! Yes, we eat a lot of popcorn, but not THAT much! Guess what we'll be snacking on? Can you say, "Date night?"

Update on Weight Loss Goals

Anna and I walked about 15 miles this week. I've been drinking a lot of water and a lot of Crystal Light, but I did have a few sodas. I gained .4 pounds this week and am now at 225. I really think it's muscle, as my clothes are fitting a lot better than they were two week ago. Monkey is still 13 pounds.

Update on Christ-relationship Goals

I am keeping up with my reading, and am on pace to read the whole Bible in 88 days (no, I'm not two days ahead, there are two grace days in the reading plan). Leviticus and Numbers were extremely difficult to complete, but I got through it with God's help!

Update on our Sam's Club Purchases

I didn't cook anything new this week, so these are unchanged from last week.

Goals For This Week

Prepare and stick to a meal plan
Clean and organize our closet
Clean and organize the laundry area
Slim down to 223 pounds (5 pound was not realistic, 2 is)
Keep up with Bible and Bible study readings
Take lots and lots of pictures of Monkey, HubbyButt and myself
Maintain the rooms I've already got clean and organize

 That's my Sunday Update and updated goals! What are your goals for this week?

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Fit Friday!!

As I mentioned previously, my friend Anna and I started walking again this week. And did we ever! We logged nearly 16 miles between two walks! On Wednesday, we walked from a local lake to the zoo, about 3.75 miles each way. It was gorgeous, and I was so proud of myself for walking all that way, while pushing a stroller even!
We made it to the zoo!!! Next time, we might even go in!
Today, we met at a different local park and walked about half way to the NEXT park. Oh my goodness. I think it was around 4 (maybe 5) miles each way. I looked it up on Google Maps, but it refused to cooperate, so I'm just guessing here. I'm super sore and slightly sunburned, but really really proud of myself for sticking it out and just doing it!

It's amazing how easy it is to do things that are good for you, once you stop complaining and start smiling. What's something healthy you did this week, and how do you feel? Tell me in the comments! *Someone please please comment, I'm beginning to feel like I'm talking to myself here!*

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Thirteen: Things I'm Thankful For

I'm combining two super popular Thursday memes this week: Thursday Thirteen and Thankful Thursday. Pretty self-explanatory, I think, so here we go!

1) My family. HubbyButt and Monkey give meaning to my everyday, and I am so thankful to have them in my life.
Not the greatest photo, but it is recent, taken on Tuesday
2) My salvation. I've said before that I have a very strong faith, and it would be foolhardy of me to not include that in a list of things that I'm thankful for. I know that HubbyButt is also saved, and it delights me to know that we will truly spend eternity together.

3) Patience. This has increased exponentially since Monkey was born, and even more so since I started the Bible in 90 Days Challenge. I have found that I've not been raising my voice and that I've been much more kind to HubbyButt in the last 9 days.

4) Our extended families. I don't know where we would be without our parents and siblings. They have been so supportive through my pregnancy, Monkey's first few months, and they're standing behind our decision to leave my job.

5) Food in our kitchen. As I said previously, there have been quite a few times where I was living day-to-day as far as food goes, so I am extremely grateful to have plenty of food in my pantry.

6) A washing machine of our own. I know that may sound trivial, but having a cloth-diapered baby with reflux in our house means that I wash a lot of laundry. Before Monkey arrived, we were washing at least once a week at HubbyButt's parents' house, and while I enjoy our time over there, it's so nice to be able to get other housework done while the laundry is running.

7) Baby Einstein and Baby Geniuses. By no means do I use the TV as a babysitter, but I do LOVE our Baby Einstein jumperoo and Baby Geniuses DVDs. Monkey loves to jump, and the jumperoo has saved our arms! I also LOVE that the music on the Baby Geniuses DVDs isn't dumbed-down at all.

8) Cloth diapers. We have saved sooooo much money since switching to cloth when Monkey was 5 weeks old. I figure we've saved well over $300 in diapers already, and that figure increases every time I do a load of diaper laundry.

9) Netflix on the Wii. My guilty pleasure. I use Netflix every day; I watch movies, TV shows we don't get since we don't have cable, and I will occasionally use it to stream a workout.

10) Facebook and Skype. My parents and grandparents live 12 hours away, and these two wonderful inventions have allowed them to stay up-to-date on Monkey's growth and the new things she does everyday. Monkey also recognizes her Grandma's face thanks to Skype; it's amazing.

11) Kushie's Flushable Liners. These things are amazing! We started Monkey on vegetables recently, and her poo has changed so much. I just pull off a liner, tuck it into the pocket on her diaper (so it doesn't slide around), and then when she poos, I flush the liner and the poo. They're wonderful. If you're planning on putting a newborn in cloth, I would recommend these, since meconium is soooo sticky icky and horrible to get off diapers. They also sell a washable liner, which I haven't tried.

12) Freedom of speech. Ok, I know it's super corny, but I really am thankful that I can get on here and write whatever I want without fear of censorship.

13) MOPS. I love love love my MOPS group. It's so wonderful to have a few hours every other week to get together with moms that have been where I'm at, both as a mom and spiritually. I got started late, since Monkey was due on the same day as the first meeting of the year (but born 5 days early), but I really feel like I've been accepted as a member of the group and I am so glad to have a slew of moms that I can honestly talk to and ask opinions of.

That's my Thursday Thirteen, what's yours?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Works For Me Wednesday: Cloth Diapers

If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, you know that I'm crazy about cloth diapering. I feel that, next to quitting my job, it is the single best thing that I've been able to do for my daughter. She's had very few rashes, and she screams bloody murder when I try to put her in one of these things:

She much prefers these:
That is all fluff for her butt! I don't need any more girl diapers, period, and I think HubbyButt would have my head if I gave in to temptation and got her this, mostly because it's $20. It's made by a WAHM named Joyce and is called a BSRB.

So, this is Works for Me Wednesday, but I haven't really shown you what works for me in cloth diapering. Right now, I LOVE the way Monkey's room is set up; it's so much more functional, especially the diapering and dressing area.
On the left is the diaper storage cart. This is where I keep everything nice and organized. On the top left is bath stuff (baby oil, wash, lotions), flushable liners (the roll that looks like toilet paper), and a few of the pads the hospital gives you to lay on your bed once you get home to keep everything nice and clean (I use these as changing table covers).

Next we have jammies, on the top right. I used to keep jammies in the dresser, but they're so puffy and take up so much space the drawer would get all messy when I took the jammies out.

The middle left cubby is where I keep all my prefolds. They're bulky, so I fold them in half length-wise and store them here.

The next cubby, the middle right, is covers and Flip inserts; I use the covers over the prefolds, so they're right next to each other.

Finally, the whole bottom is diapers that are ready to go. I pre-stuff all my pocket diapers and store them upside down so that they're ready to go; I also make sure that I have at least 1 Flip in this section.
I can't figure out how to rotate the photo, but this is what our storage cart looks like.

Between the diaper storage and the changing table is a door that is blocked by the changing table. Since I can't open the door, I decided to utilize the space as more storage.

Starting at the top left hand corner, we have all of Monkey's socks and bows in a container I got at the dollar tree. It has a lid, so it's easy to just drop in the over-night bag if Monkey is spending the night at grandma's house.

Between that box and the trash can with the shiny liner is a basket that holds all of Monkey's bibs and burp rags. The basket has now been relocated to the living room, since that's where we spend most of our time.

The trash can with the shiny liner is our diaper pail. We don't use a wet pail, as most of our diapering supplies are microfiber and keeping MF in a wet pail can deteriorate the material. The point of cloth diapering is to save money, and you can't do that if you're constantly having to buy new inserts.

In the front is Monkey's laundry basket and trash can. Pretty self-explanatory, I think.

Finally we have the changing table and dresser. I know a lot of moms don't use changing tables, but I use mine for every at-home change; I love it. There's not much here, as Monkey is pretty long and likes to kick. We keep our coconut oil, washcloths (which are in the old Huggies wipes container, since we use them as wipes), pins and snappi (a handy little guy that replaces pins, and that I haven't quite been able to figure out), and wipes solution (in the blue spray bottle; I use water, baby oil, and baby wash) all on the changing table. I also have a few sample packets of different cloth-safe rash creams and the nasal aspirator (the sucky bulb) in the gap between the changing pad and the end of the table.

And just for the heck of it, here's a new picture of Monkey in cloth.
That's what works for me. What works for you?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meal Plan ... Tuesday?

So, I didn't get a chance to make a meal plan yesterday. I did, however, take an inventory of everything we have in our kitchen. Believe me, it's waaaay more than I thought we had. Therefore, I'm going to challenge myself to clean out our kitchen by doing a Pantry Challenge. Here's this week's meal plan:

Breakfasts: Cold cereal, Hot cereal, Toast, Fruit, MOPS leftovers,             

Lunches: Sandwiches, Soups, Leftovers, Fruit

Snacks: Popcorn, Pretzels, Fruit, Applesauce

Monday: Chicken tacos and rice at HubbyButt's parent's house
Tuesday: Turkey rice soup at HubbyButt's grandparent's house
Wednesday: Chicken and broccoli over rice with cheese sauce (all leftovers from last week)
Thursday: Beef tacos with homemade tortillas (using The Happy Housewife's recipe found here)
Friday: Chili with beans (out of a can, I don't know if I'll be bowling with my in-laws or not, so I need something quick).
Saturday: Frittatas made with leftover chicken, garlic, mushrooms, cheddar cheese
Sunday: Pasta with garlic and butter
For nearly 400 more menu plans, click to visit I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Update and BIG NEWS

I'm going to go ahead and start a tradition of my own here: Sunday Updates. I get so busy during the week that I don't always have time to tell you about every minute of my day (tee-hee), so I'll use my posts on Sundays to give you the run-down of the whole prior week.

This week was HUGE for us.

The biggest news, with the greatest impact on us is that I quit my job! I gave notice yesterday that I will not be returning to work. I know, I know, we're broke. But, like I've said before and will say again: GOD WILL PROVIDE. HubbyButt and I prayed and prayed and prayed over this decision; we wrote and re-wrote a budget to see if we could do it; finally, the decision was made for us when my manager disregarded my availability in writing the schedule. I know it seems trivial, but there are so many important moments in Monkey's life, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I missed any of them while working for The Man.

So, that is obviously going to change a whole lot of other things in our life as a family. The budget just got tighter, but we've made it so far, and I'll begin babysitting Monkey's best friend in either March or April. We're going to be just fine.

Update on our Sam's Club purchases:
We have used 1 pound of ground beef. HubbyButt and I don't eat much at each sitting, so we have a lot of leftovers. I'm still eating the macaroni and cheese with hamburger for lunches. I browned and froze the rest for future use.

We have cooked 1 chicken and are still eating off of that as well; I attempted chicken soup, but that went down the drain because it somehow got burned and was just plain nasty. Next time, I'll use a recipe. For lunch today, I had chicken and brocolli over (white) rice with cheese sauce (homemade, super easy). Once I figure out how to add posts under the Recipes heading on the home page, I'll add it there. Next time, I'll use brown rice, since it's healthier and has a bit more flavor than white rice.

HubbyButt is still happily munching away on the sourdough pretzels. I haven't had any.

We have yet to use any of the canned veggies we picked up; I'll be incorporating them into our meal plan this week.

The milk and cereal, of course, are disappearing quite quickly, as is the bread.

Update on my Weightloss Goals
Last week, I weighed Monkey and myself. I'm happy to report that Monkey is a healthy 13 pounds, and am sad to report that I was an unhealthy 230 pounds.

On Tuesday, HubbyButt cut my soda intake completely off. I've not only saved $5.40 (I was spending $1.08 daily for a large Dr. Pepper at McDonald's), but I've lost 5 and a half pounds!!! At my weigh-in last night, I was at 224.6. I've been drinking much more water and just a little bit of juice, about one glass a day.

This week, I'll begin walking with my friend Anna again. She was in Denmark over the holidays and I am sooooo excited to see her again! I'm sure Monkey is excited to see her best friend Smiley again, as well!

Update on Christ-relationship Goals
I decided to join Mom's Toolbox in Reading the Bible in 90 Days. I started on Monday and have finished Genesis; I'll be finishing Exodus tonight. It's so cool to see how quickly I'm making it through, and to see how many pages I've read so far.

I'll be joining HubbyButt's mom's Bible study beginning tomorrow night. We'll begin making our ways through Francis Chan's second book Forgotten God. I'm really excited to finally commit to a study group and build relationships with not only God, but all the ladies in the group.

Update on my Cleaning and Organizing Goals
I finally got Monkey's room clean and organized!! It took all week but it's finally done. I'm so proud of how it looks and how well it functions. I'll be doing a post later this week on cloth diapering and I'll show you then how I organize (among other things!) our diapers.
 Goals For This Week
Prepare and stick to a meal plan
Clean and organize the kitchen
Clean and organize our closet
Clean and organize the laundry area
Slim down to 220 pounds
Keep up with Bible and Bible study readings
Take lots and lots of pictures of Monkey, HubbyButt and myself

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Praying for Scarlett Grace

Scarlett Grace was born five weeks after Monkey, on October 16. At her two-month check-up, it was discovered that she had developed a massive, and extremely rare, brain tumor. You can read her story at her parents' blog, called Butterflies.

Today, little Scarlett is having surgery to remove every little bit of that tumor; it is so large that there would be no point in attempting radiation or chemotherapy without her first undergoing this surgery. Her doctors expect to be done at midnight, but will stop then no matter what, even if that means returning in a few days to complete the procedure. Her surgery will begin in just a few minutes.

In support of Scarlett, and her parents Brandi and Chris, Monkey and I, and hundreds of other people, will be wearing red today. Even if it's just a red hair bow or earrings, it's going to be in support of Scarlett. This little girl needs all the prayer she can get, for healing and for strength, and her parents need prayer as well, also for strength, but for grace and peace while they see their little girl, who is fully dependent upon them, through the toughest journey she will ever face.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Learning to be Good Stewards of the Gifts We've Been Given (Or, How to Spend Wisely at a Club Store)

This is a hard one for me. My whole life, I'm realizing, I've been extremely ungrateful for the blessings in my life, whether it was gifts, or money, or food, or simply time spent with loved ones.

HubbyButt and I are almost flat broke. There have been other times in my life when I had little or nothing to live off of, and I made it through; I realize now that I only made it through because God put certain people and situations in my life when I needed them the most. For example, when I moved to Sacramento, I had $20 to my name. I lived with a few friends of mine and was hired within a week of moving there at a sandwich shop, where I got a free meal every day I worked. Some days, that was all the food I got. I would cut my sandwich into thirds. One third to eat on my break, one third for dinner, and one third for breakfast the next morning. But, it was food, and I was eating. I lost a lot of weight, which I needed to do, and I made it through.

This time is different because now I'm married and have a little girl to take care of. This time, I have to think about health insurance, car insurance, how we're going to put gas in the car. Thankfully, we haven't yet had to steal from Peter to pay Paul, but we've come close. Somehow, we have been able to squirm our budget around to pay the people that need to be paid, and to take care of ourselves.

Like yesterday. Man, am I proud of the decisions we made yesterday. We were recently blessed with a vehicle from some friends (again, right when we needed it. There was no way I'd be able to go back to work with just one vehicle; someone has to take Monkey to daycare and pick her up at the end of the day), but it wouldn't pass smog. We had it tested 8 times, and every time it failed in nox levels. Like, majorly failed. The levels it was testing at were double the limit to pass. Finally, HubbyButt's dad took it to a test and repair shop, and they were able to get it to pass. Yay!

Anywho, we can register my vehicle now. It's going to be $15 (it's a 1993 Explorer) to register, which we can afford. However, we live in California, meaning that we have to have insurance in order to legally drive it (I wouldn't drive it without insurance, anyway). It's going to be a little over $100 to insure. Okay. This is where the budget squirming comes in.

We were also blessed, as a Christmas gift, with a membership to Sam's Club. Yay!! HubbyButt wanted to register the Explorer yesterday, but I convinced him that having food in the house is a bit more important than having a second vehicle just yet, since I'm not back to work for a few more weeks. Now, if you've ever been in Sam's or Costco, you know just how easy it is to waaaay overspend, right?

Between us, we still had $100 left over from Christmas money. Before we got out of the car at Sam's, we set a limit of $75 for ourselves. I plugged that into the calculator on my phone, and off we went. Every time we set something in the basket, I rounded up to the next dollar and subtracted it from our limit. This caused us to be very intent on the things that we needed and to keep away from the impulse buys. We ended up spending $68 on enough food to last the two of us until HubbyButt gets paid again next Friday, and hopefully a little longer, if I use our purchases correctly.

We got 5 pounds of ground chuck (which I browned and froze last night), 2 fresh chickens (one of which we'll be having for dinner tonight, and will be able to get at least 2 more meals out of), a case of canned peas, a case of canned corn, some fresh mushrooms, cheese, two loaves of bread (now in the freezer), milk, a box of cereal, and a tub of sourdough pretzels.

Later today, I'll start working on a menu plan to best utilize what we bought yesterday. I know I'll be freezing a lot of what we got, and a lot of what we make, so that it's available to us when we're ready for it.

I'd greatly appreciate any tips or recipes, so leave them in the comments!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

How to make a Cloth Diaper....Or waste an afternoon

I set out today to sew a diaper using this pattern and the brand spankin' new sewing machine my mom got me for Christmas. I had bought my fabric and elastic a few weeks before Christmas, knowing I would probably get a machine as a gift. So this morning, I threw my flannel in the wash, thinking I would be able to knock out the diaper in the half hour the instructions say it takes to make.

Mind you, I haven't sewn since junior high school, and that was an apron and a surfboard pillow.

Thank God for snow! My aunt, the same one that bought all the pumpkins, decided to come down into the valley this afternoon, as a blizzard was expected in her hometown, and she didn't think she'd be able to make it down the mountain in the morning to get to work. She came over to visit (read: to see the baby) and saw what I was doing. At that point, I had the sewing machine set up on the dining room table and was attempting to figure out what the heck I was doing. She immediately asked where my thread was.


So we made a trip to JoAnn's for some thread, and ended up getting some pins, a marking pencil, and a ruler as well. We also got one of those tomato pin-cushions. I named him Bob.

As soon as we got back to the house, we set to work. She started taping the pattern together (it's a PDF that prints on 4 pages) and cutting the fabric, while I got the bobbin and needle threaded. As I type this, we have the sewing machine and fabric ready to go, and we're hoping the snow continues tomorrow, so that she can come over and we can attempt to finish the diaper!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I'm jumping on the resolution band-wagon! 2010 was a year of huge changes in my body, my faith, in my family, and in my financial situation. 2011 will also be a huge year of changes. This morning, I'm setting 2 goals for myself, which I believe will impact my entire little world.

First off, I will be setting out time each and every day to exercise, whether it be dancing with the baby, strapping her on and taking a walk, or leaving her with HubbyButt so I can go out and run. My body is a wreck from having a baby; I gained a ton of weight and if I wasn't squishy before, I sure am now. I know I love running, it's just a challenge for me to get out and do it.

Secondly, I will set aside time every day to spend in prayer, just talking to my Father. I will use that time to sit quietly, reading my Bible and being open to what He lays on my heart. 2010 taught me that I can do all things through Christ, and that He does make all things work together for the good of His children.

I strongly believe that those two goals will leave a strong and lasting impact on my whole world. By purposing to become active, I will be able to become a happier person, since exercise releases serotonin in the brain, and since I will actually start feeling better about myself, I will be able to treat HubbyButt better (2010 was the year of the bad wife).

By purposing to build a strong relationship with Christ, I believe that He will give me guidance in the big stuff, as well as the little, everyday trials we all go through. It is my belief that tithing is a very important part of a Christ relationship, and that has been proven to us in the last year (we tithe in April, we're blessed with a house in May; we tithe in October, we're blessed with new friends and a car in November; see a pattern?); I will do my best to put at least something in the offering plate on a weekly basis, even when I have little or nothing to give.

What are your goals for 2011?