Halfway there!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 by 12gviolet

After 4 hours of sewing (give or take… there were small children around, and that always slows things down) I finally finished the first half of my flat diapers! What took so long, you ask? Well, measuring and cutting that many diapers is time consuming by itself. But it was the fact that I wasn’t just getting the flats, but also some soakers (yay!) and a handful of wipes that took the longest. All those cuts… Oy vey.

I overcast the edges of my fabric on my flats so they wouldn’t unravel on me, then I stacked, sewed, trimmed, and finished the edges on my soakers, and finally with some of the scraps that weren’t big enough to be soakers, I sewed and finished some wipes. Overall, for 12 yards of fabric, I got quite a bit with very very little waste. I always feel like I’m throwing away money when I have a bunch of big-ish scraps, but since I don’t quilt and patchwork stuff makes my eyes bleed (the sewing it, not the finished product), I often keep pieces I never do anything with. I ended up with 12 flats, 29 4-piece-thick soakers, and close to a dozen wipes.

Animal Print Cloth DiapersIgnore the OSB background. That’s the beginnings of my sewing table. :)

I got two yards of each of the 6 fabrics, and they’re all super cute. It’s hard to tell from the picture. I have 12 more yards waiting for me, though. 2 yards of blue fairy fabric, 3 yards of night sky fabric, and 5 yards of the cutest brown and pink patterned fabric that I’m not exactly sure how to describe! What I’ve got so far is good enough for day-to-day diapering of Mari, and once I’m done with the other half I should be able to add Raven in, too. Yay for flats!

A Little Miscalculation…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20, 2011 by 12gviolet

So, I decided buying flat diapers was not nearly as appealing as making them. (Apparently I’m insane and enjoy making my already packed schedule tighter.) Buying them limited me to mostly white or unbleached, possibly a few, very limited prints from some of the more expensive sources. But making them! Now I was only limited to what cotton flannel I could find, which isn’t very limiting at all.

First I ordered a bunch of animal prints (think cute little turtles, not leopard skin) from an online retailer who was having a sale. 12 yards, free shipping, oh yeah, baby! Then I did the math: I wanted 30″x30″ squares, after shrinkage. 1 yard is 36″ long, by however wide the fabric is, usually 44/45″ (or something close) for cotton flannel. And that’s before shrinkage. Which meant I was getting just ONE flat from each yard, plus enough material to make a decent soaker to lay in for nighttime and my older child. (I’m crazy enough to try this challenge for both of my diapered children. While moving. Did I mention I was moving?) So I’d just spent about $50 on a dozen diapers. That’s roughly $4.17 per diaper. This is still much cheaper than the pockets we were buying — the cheapest one I really like was the Kawaii, which is about $10, and my all-time fave pocket is Fuzzibunz One-Size, which is somewhere around $20. But for flats this seemed way overpriced. I looked around at flats on the web and I found I could get a dozen similarly sized birdseye flats, shipped, for about $2.96/diaper. Eeek. I realize flannel flats are usually a bit more than birdseye, but it still made me wince. I had way overpaid for something I then had to cut and finish the edges of. But it was done and at least the fabric was cuter than cute.

I knew I’d need at a minimum one more dozen flats, and I still wanted to pick my fabric. The designs on the flannel flats I’d seen were ok, but there was so little to choose from compared to the myriad different designs of flannel off the bolt. So I looked around online, but barring a good sale and no shipping which I might not have the time to wait for, it just wasn’t going to be cheap. I went to JoAnn Fabric nearby, but their flannel was no better. $5.99/yard! And the salespeople said it wasn’t due to go on sale anytime soon that they knew of. *sigh* As a last-ditch effort, I went to our local Wal-Mart, which does have a fabric section, however small. They had really cute flannel, 100% cotton… but it was still $4-5/yard. I despaired of even being able to do the challenge anymore. If I couldn’t diaper at least the youngest for a full day, there was no way to do it at all. I can’t wash and dry twice a day. The only local shop that sells cloth diapers didn’t have flats. (Heck, we’re lucky to have any local resource for cloth dipes at all!)

Then I saw clearance tags on the bottom shelf. $3/yard. The first few fabrics didn’t have quite a yard on the bolt, then a few were other fabrics that got put in the wrong place (or maybe that was the designated clearance section?), but then I saw a few. Just a few. They were cute, they were cheap… and they were 100% cotton. Hallelujah! I snatched them up like a starving man would food and stood guard over them at the cutting table. *giggle* I got 12 more yards from those three fabrics. Actually I think I got a little more… one of them had just slightly over 2 yards left on the bolt and he gave me all of it, but only charged me for 2. I think I got an extra soaker for free!

So for $38.16, or $3.18/diaper, I got an extra dozen, which means I’ll be able to diaper Mari for certain and possibly Raven during the challenge. Yay! When I actually manage to shrink, cut, and finish them all, I’ll post pictures. I’m so excited!

Flats Challenge

Posted in Kids, Life In General, Parenting with tags on April 22, 2011 by 12gviolet

So, part of the reason I cloth diaper is because Mari reacts to 99% of disposables. Some reactions are bad, like an hour in them makes her redder than a boiled lobster, and some reactions aren’t so bad, but I still don’t want my kid uncomfortable if she doesn’t have to be, you know? We found (when the washer and dryer down the hall broke!) that Earth’s Best Baby diapers are safe for her. Which is good to know, of course, for those times when disposables are preferable. Like the ungodly yeast rash she’s just recovered from… ugh. But I still prefer cloth. I’m not super-eco-friendly-supreme or anything, but I like knowing I contribute less to landfills, sure. I’m more about function than cuteness, but I love that they’re cute, yes. But mostly, I just like knowing that no matter what diaper I happen to buy for her, no matter which one I pick out to slap on her little booty, that she’s not going to be screaming in pain some time later. That the company isn’t going to change their formula (thanks, Pampers /sarcasm) and the once-reliable diapers are now evil and I’ve wasted ungodly amounts of money on the econo-box because it’s cheapest.  Cloth diapers are completely natural. I don’t have to worry about chemical compositions changing. If the description online says it’s made with cotton, it’s made of freakin cotton. I don’t have to worry about whatever crap the manufacturing process, or the shipping, left on the diapers, because I wash them in water hot enough that I can barely touch it, and not just once, either. There’s nothing left on those suckers when I’m done with them.

For simplicity, and to get her daddy on-board readily, I chose to go for pockets. Prefolds were ok, but if they hadn’t come with the covers, I wouldn’t have bothered after the first few I ordered. Trifolded, they didn’t catch poop, which meant we had to change the cover every time. That defeated the savings of having many prefolds and only a few covers. But folding them around baby was difficult once she got wiggly, and I couldn’t fold them ahead of time, so they took longer. (“Prefold” is a bit of a misnomer, in my opinion, since you still have to fold them to put them on baby. Padded flat might be better.) Pockets are pretty much disposables when it comes to change time. Just fasten and go. Yes, I have to stuff them, but by making the shell and the absorbent parts separate, washing is more effective and drying time is much shorter. It was the best of both worlds.

For some reason, though, the few flats I had were still my favorite. Andrew didn’t mind taking them off and dealing with them, but he wasn’t a fan of putting them on her. He could, just preferred not to. I respected his preference, and always made sure I used flats myself and left pockets for him. (They’re mine, all mine!!!! *giggle* Yeah, I didn’t mind so much.) But I never bought more flats because it seemed silly to buy them just for me. We used pockets for ease of travel, middle-of-the-night changes, alternate caregivers, and Andrew himself. It made sense to just use pockets, period. I do like them, don’t get me wrong! They’re fast and easy during the change, and I can stuff them while watching TV, so not really a big deal. Yes, they take longer to dry, and are a bit harder to wash thoroughly (I’ve had to wash them twice before when really soiled), but the good outweighs the bad by quite a bit. I’m happy enough with our choice.

But the flat love. *sigh* It just doesn’t go away. I love how they look on her — clean, classic lines — and honestly, I think they catch poop even better than the gussets on the pockets. So when I saw the Flats Challenge from Dirty Diaper Laundry, I jumped at the chance to buy more flats. And hey, part of the challenge is hand washing, so I’m not spending any extra in laundry. Hard to argue! I just wanted an excuse, but we won’t speak of that… So I entered an Interest Form, told Andrew I wanted to do it, and am now trying to figure out what kinds of flats I want to use. Yay! *happy dance*

Woo hoo! … Aw, crap.

Posted in Kids, Life In General, Me Time, Parenting on January 31, 2011 by 12gviolet

So after my mom died in ’09, I got all her stuff, being the only child and all. Which would have been much more impressive (and arduous, moving it from damn near halfway across the country) if my grandfather hadn’t chucked most of her belongings when he and my grandmother “helped” her move from FL to TN. Yeah, I put “helped” in sarcastic little bunny ears. Why? Because he threw away some really awesome/sentimental/useful things without so much as calling anyone to see if, y’know, maybe we wanted to save it from the scrap heap. Or taking five seconds to wonder if my mother might want to keep it. But nah, she was only battling cancer… it wasn’t like she needed emotional stability or anything. (I may be a smidge bitter about this subject…)

Anyway, the point to this mini-story is I inherited her computer. It’s not a bad computer, it’s just not nearly new enough to run the more demanding programs. So it never really got set up or anything. Mom used it for business, which didn’t require anything but an Internet connection, MS Office, and a few other low-profile programs. It was perfect for her (read: cheap and easily ordered from Dell.com) but it wouldn’t do much I was interested in. We don’t even have an ethernet cable to hook it up to the Internet, for gods’ sake.

But then, as I chased my munchkins away from the computer for the 234027345722477th time, I had a brilliant idea. It can’t get online. It isn’t up to spec, and it sure as shit isn’t worth spending the money to make it that way. It has TONS of free space because Mom didn’t store much more than simple documents on it. If it crapped out tomorrow, I certainly wouldn’t cry over it. It’s perfect for my children! So I downloaded some old educational programs, procrastinated setting it up for a few weeks because I couldn’t find another power strip and I kept forgetting to get one at the store, finally got a power strip, set it all up, and installed the software. Other than the rather steep learning curve for Raven with the program’s interface, it was a huge hit. It literally kept them entertained for HOURS. I got things done around the house. I had five minutes to myself. I’m pretty sure I hit the parenting jackpot.

Then the “aw, crap” part hit. Four days into Parenting Heaven, the mouse stopped working. When I realized it was dead, I actually hung my head and mourned, just a little. Then I remembered I have spares of keyboards and mice from all the old computers, both those owned by Andrew and I (all of two) and those I inherited from my mother (a metric fuckton). I won’t lie, there was happy dancing involved. Except… I can’t find them. Any of them. I may have cried a little. On the inside. On the outside, there was much swearing and pulling of hair. So now I have to either dig through the crapload of stuff in the storage unit for a single, solitary mouse, or convince Andrew to buy a cheap-o mouse so I can go back to actually having peace and quiet on a regular basis. Hmmm, yeah, I wonder which of those will happen.

My wallet is screaming for help.

Posted in Kids, Kitchen Time, Life In General, Rant on January 25, 2011 by 12gviolet

Feeding my gluttonous horde on a budget has always been… difficult. I admit, it’s mostly because I’m a food snob. If it doesn’t taste at least passably good, I’m not going to eat it. I don’t care how cheap it is. To be fair, I hate some expensive foods too: caviar, capers, salmon, truffles. I think they taste like ass and I don’t know about you, but ass is not a flavor I aspire to. Maybe it’s just me.

But my family is a family of black holes. I don’t say this to be amusing (well, yes I do, but it’s true too), I say this to present the facts of my situation… our budget is a joke. Between my snobbery, food allergies in myself and my youngest, food aversions in the others, and the food sink that is my boyfriend, believe me when I say planning a meal is a bitch in high heels stomping all over my head. Even when I make meals we can and will all eat, I have to cook like I’m feeding an army. A small one, but still. There are FIVE people in my home. FIVE. Not twenty. And THREE of them are children. We aren’t talking about the bottomless stomachs of teenagers, or even the growing bodies of pre-teens. The oldest is nearly 5, and after her is a nearly 4 year old, and bring up the rear is the very-nearly 1 year old. They don’t eat like preschoolers and a toddler, no, they eat like marathon runners. Even the baby can pack away more in a sitting than most school-aged children. You think I’m kidding? Exaggerating? (I’m laughing at you, just a little. Ok, a lot.)

My middle child has eating issues. These eating issues have led to her eating only soft, room-temp or colder foods. There are a variety of reasons why that I’m not going to get into, but suffice it to say it’s become so severe that she started losing weight because she refused to eat so much. I’ve learned that every bite counts with her and I can’t be so picky about “healthy” because I’m more worried about “survival.” Why do I mention all this? Because this child, this nearly-4-year-old child, has packed away an entire half gallon carton of ice cream in a day before, and I didn’t want to be flamed for only feeding her junk food. Hell, I’m just happy she got calories. Besides, it has ridiculous amounts of calcium, so shut up. But seriously. If I eat an entire half gallon of ice cream in a day, I get sick. She ate that on top of three bowls of angel hair noodles, two hot dogs, three yogurts, and a quart of milk doctored with carnation instant breakfast. (Side note, carnation instant breakfast has an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals. Seriously, read the label. It’s like vitamin central in a tasty tasty powder.)

My oldest can plow through enough veggies to stock a soup kitchen for an entire day, and that’s in one sitting. She has no eating issues — in fact, she will pretty much eat anything that isn’t bolted down. This child can take a salad bar of fruit and veggies and make them disappear in a half hour, then a half hour later is complaining she’s hungry. I would disbelieve her but I hear her stomach growling. Not to mention she’s only grown in height, not in weight, in almost a year and a half. I’m able to count her ribs and vertebrae very easily now and have started to wonder if she needs even more calories. It seems impossible, but I have no better explanation. Her doctor gave her a clean bill of health, so I’m not sure what else to think. But this child alone can eat our budget right out from under us!

And god help me, the baby’s in on it, too. Just today she’s polished off three waffles, four chicken tenders, a handful (my handful, not hers) of fries, two ounces of cheese, and whatever she’s nicked from her sisters. Which is not inconsiderable. She’s an accomplished little food thief. Plus she still nurses quite often. God only knows how much she’d eat if she didn’t nurse! I shudder to think… And she’s only 1, what happens when she’s 4-5? (Scratch that, I know what will happen. She’ll be yet another garbage disposal. Oh my god, save me…)

Soooo, how exactly do I cut my food costs down? I’ve cut out a lot of meat, as that was our biggest expense, but I can’t cut much more, and I already buy some of the cheapest cuts. I don’t want to cut the fruits and veggies any more — that’s our next biggest expense — because I value the nutrition of them over things like, say, starches. Not that starches don’t have their place, they do, but I’d rather my kids munch on pepper strips than pasta. I make my own bread, we buy in bulk, I shop the edges of the store more than the middle (where the more expensive packaged meals live), I’ve even given up buying anything organic anymore because we just plain can’t afford it. We’re already on WIC, which helps A LOT, but I can’t plant a garden (apartment, and no local community plots I can get to enough to tend them properly) and I can’t find a CSA in the area which has our most-used produce. Things like swiss chard and mustard greens and fennel sound interesting, but I’m a simple girl who uses potatoes, broccoli, and romaine. Oh, and my family is none too big on cabbage, and I can’t eat beans. Of any kind. Legumes make me puff up like a puffer fish who sucked a bit too hard on the nozzle of a compressed air can. Most budget meal plans include LOTS of beans. Why? Because they’re packed with protein, they’re filling, and they’re bloody cheap. Yeah, I know, I hate my allergies.

Besides coupons and shopping the ads, I have zero ideas. Literally, I’ve reached the end of my food budgeting rope. Anybody got any tips?

New in Mommyland! Or not…

Posted in Fuzzballs, Kids, Life In General, Me Time on July 29, 2010 by 12gviolet

What’s that saying? “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Or something like that… It seems to be the motto here in Mommyland. We always seem to be short in something; money, time, sanity. (Mostly sanity.) But we always manage to muddle through. And then there are those days where you get to sit back, relax, and everything goes right, and you look at your family and go, “Huh. Life’s not that bad after all.” Continue reading

Unplugged?

Posted in Kids, Life In General, Parenting on June 10, 2010 by 12gviolet

There’s a big movement lately for parents to “unplug” from their technologically-filled lives. And while I agree in theory, I also have to ask myself… who the hell does it benefit? At least in my life, technology is what saves my sanity. Continue reading

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