Welcome to my third blogging experience...created in order to keep my other blogs free of my crazy rantings. This space will be dedicated to the day to day trials and tribulations of motherhood and life in general...as well as the experiences that come with trying to rediscover the many basics of life that have been lost to the constant hullabaloo and cookie cutter mentality that has become the 21st century.

I am a proud mama to our first born, Gracie, who waits for us in Heaven, and her very lively little sister, Jenna. I am a semi-crunchy mama who works full time outside of the home. If you come here to read, expect to find posts related to cloth diapering, breast feeding, homemade baby food, organics, cooking and recipes, day care & working outside the home, baby wearing, natural childbirth, general fitness, general nutrition, environmental topics, etc.

Feel free to ask questions, share valuable information that you might have or share your thoughts and/or opinions. Please do not come here to attack the things that I believe or the way I live. I will respect your opinions as long as you respect mine, even if it means agreeing to disagree!! :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fitted Diaper Giveaway

If I have any cloth diapering friends out there who use fitted diapers, check out this giveaway from Abby's Lane.  It is for 2 fitted and 1 flat Sbish dipes.  We just purchased an Sbish organic bamboo fitted about a month ago to try at night, since Jenna has been waking up with we pajamas some mornings.  It's an amazing diaper, and we are planning to buy a few more...but I would much rather win a couple first!!  :-)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ending of an Era and the Turning of a Page

It's not my birthday, and I'm well past the 30 mark, but I kept hearing this song over and over in my head as I wrote this post.  So, I decided to include it.  Just because.

People have asked me why I (we) waited so long to have kids.  I have always fallen back on the age old excused - 'We just weren't ready yet' or 'It just wasn't the right time.'   Truth is, I think I've been ready for kids for a long time but I think the some of the expected ancillary life changes held me back a bit.  The dramatic increase in my already large sleep deficit, the loss of the ability to just pick up and go at a moment's notice, rearranging our already stretched budget...again, the fact that it won't be about what we want to do for the next 20-25 years, the changing of my body from once 'hot' to 'hot mess'.  The overall loss of my old identity as Susan to my new identity as Gracie and Jenna's mom.  Childbirth...the prospect of childhood illness, injury and disease...sports...plays and musicals...mini vans...broken hearts...college...  Staring down the childbearing road, all of these things can be pretty daunting. 

Aside from the first curve ball that was thrown at us on July 21, 2009, I think I'm handing all of the rest of it pretty well so far.  With one exception.  As the new year approaches, a very large change looms for me, and it turns out that I'm not dealing nearly as well as I expected to.  By day, I have worn the hat of physical therapist for the last 11.5 years.  By day, night, and every minute in between, I have worn the hat of firefighter for the last 17 years.  During those 17 years I have had the privilege of belonging to a small, but awesome, award-winning and trend-setting fire department.  I have seen, learned and done more than can possibly be put into words.  I have trained hard and put incredible effort into proving the men around me wrong about so many things regarding women in the fire service.  (About 5 years ago I suddenly figured out that the women's lib movement was a bunch of crap... women weren't really 'shut out' of things like public safety for decades...they simply knew enough to stay away because men in any environment are needy and can't do anything for themselves, even at the firehouse!!!)  I have accumulated just over 1500 hours of certificate training and probably more than that in in-house training and drills.  I hold 5 national certifications in firefighting, rescue and haz-mat.  I even won an award at the state level a few years ago.  In short, I have invested immeasurable time, effort, love, blood, sweat and tears into my department and the service and protection that we provide for our community.  

For 13 of the last 17 years I have been part of the leadership of our department.  I have worn the hats of lieutenant, captain, assistant chief, and for the last 5 years I have worn the hat of deputy chief.  Deputy chief.  Second in command.  Over all of the men  :-)    I have spent the last 5 years playing it down and pretending that it's not a big deal.  But you know what?  It is.  It is a damn big deal.  Look all over this country and find the departments, career or volunteer, that have female assistant or deputy chiefs that have achieved their positions without any type of affirmative action.  There aren't many of us...and I am proud of what I've achieved.  I go into burning buildings when others are running out.  I cut cars apart with power tools.  A speech that I delivered during a departmental function in 2004 was published statewide by the Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner.  I have pissed off many men by standing my ground when I'm right, I have run the show at a 2 alarm fire with a 37.5 week belly, I've been called a f&$ing bitch over the air by a dispatcher twice in the same night (very long story, but in the long run it proves to me that I was doing my job the way it should have been done!), and through it all I have actually earned the respect of many.  So, to me, it is a big deal.  Being part of my department's leadership has become as much a part of my identity as my blue eyes, blonde hair and larger than average 'girls'... 

...And as of January 1st, it will officially no longer be part of my identity.  I will still be part of the department and 'able' to respond to any emergency call that I choose to respond to, but I will do so as part of the ranks of the 'enlisted men' instead of deputy chief.  I have decided that it is time to resign my position as deputy chief, effective Sunday, because there is not enough time in my days to be wife, mother, physical therapist and deputy chief.  I can't get up in the middle of the night and run out the door with the hubby to the next big fire, even though Jenna would never miss me/us.  I can't pop Jenna into her swing and tell the dogs to watch her while I'm out cutting someone out of their car.  And it's really hard to turn command of an incident over to someone else for 30 minutes so I can go hide somewhere and pump (when applicable).

This is the change that I knew, deep down, was inevitable.  It's very likely that this is what I was trying to avoid for so many years.  I'm sad about having to make this decision.  It literally makes my heart ache to know that I am just walking away from achievement.  I feel like it's a total fall from grace.  I've been asked several times to reconsider my decision and 'stick it out' for another year or two, but I know in my heart that sticking it for the sake of retaining a title would be nothing but total injustice for the department as a whole.  Truth be known, I haven't done many 'chiefly' things over the last 4-5 months, which frustrates me and makes me a little sad.  But it's just another indicator that it really is time.  It's time to pass the torch for a while so I can finish popping out kiddos (which, by the way, should be happening again in July) without feeling guilty that I don't get up and go every time the pager goes off.  As much as I've said that I'll run as many calls as possible over the next few years, I know that the next few years will pretty much be a repeat of the last year, and I'll be lucky to run 10-15 calls every year.  It's equivalent to putting all my training and skills in a box on the shelf for while.  Sigh.

I suppose it won't really be that long until the kids are old enough that I can start dragging them to the firehouse for family training night.  For now, I will allow myself to wallow just a bit more, then I will turn the page.  I will step willingly into the next chapter and meet the role of mama head on.  I will enjoy the fact that I no longer have to deal with all the unpleasantries that come with a leadership position (the many meetings, the political BS and all of the whiny men who can't solve their own problems), and even more than that I will enjoy the time that I now have to dedicate to all of the other things that mean so very much in my life...without feeling like I am slacking and letting someone else down.  I will dig my heels in, prepare for the next big event and enjoy this ride as much as the last.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Catching Up

I came to this blog this week to reference something that I wrote a while ago, and only then did I realize how long it had been since I last posted here.  I was really excited about this blog when I started, and have simply run out of time to write.  There is lots that I want to post here, so I am hoping to write a little bit every week or two.

I know that there are several girls following here that started cloth diapering after we did.  Several months ago I wrote two posts (found here and here) about our cloth diapering experience until that point.  For those with inquiring minds, here is a little update on our fluff.  :-)

I wrote in March that we had found a wash routine that worked for us.  As it turns out, I was wrong, wrong, wrong about that.  Shortly after I posted in March, we started having significant stink issues with our inserts.  The problem was so persistent that I spent hours stripping inserts every 3-4 weeks for several months.  It became so ridiculous and frustrating that I almost threw the towel in completely on cloth diapering.

After doing a ton of reading on some CD forums and talking to lots of other CD mothers, I decided to ditch the Rockin Green detergent and try something else.  I switched to Thirsties pre-wash and super wash solutions, and had better luck.  Despite the better results, I kept looking for something to replace the Thirsties stuff because it is even more expensive than the Rockin Green, and I desperately wanted to find something a little cheaper.  I finally decided to try Soap Nuts, and I am SO glad that I did.  Before putting the soap nuts into use, I spent a ridiculous amount of time stripping inserts again so I could start with a clean slate.  That was Independence Day weekend...and I haven't had to strip inserts since then!!!  That was almost 4 months ago, which makes life good and really makes me a super happy girl!!!

Overall, I have learned quite a bit about the washing process.  The most important thing that I've learned is that it's all about trial, error and patience.  Just as important is the understanding that what works for 200 other moms might not work for the next 50.  I have discovered, specific to our wash routine that more water is not always better, contrary to what I had read over and over.  I wash every 2-3 days, so I don't come close to filling the washer with diapers.  I really think that my loads and water level were so disproportionate that I completely lost all friction between diaper inserts during the agitation phase of the wash; without stuff rubbing together, it doesn't get nearly as clean.  As a result, I have stopped filling my washer tub completely and I only fill it to the 1/2 mark for my normal diaper loads.

I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about how hard and soft water affects the laundry process, especially when it comes to getting detergent and dirt residue out of what you are washing.  Along with this, I have learned that most of the water in the U.S. is on the harder side of the bell curve.  (If you want to know more about this, there is a TON of information to read...just google it!)

I read over and over again that hotter is better when it comes to washing diapers, yet so many people use cold water pre-wash rinse cycles.  After reading about the hard and soft water, and finding that hot water helps to flush 'dirt' and 'residue' from clothing, I decided to do a hot pre-wash rinse cycle instead of cold.  Based on our results, I am willing to pay a little more to use hot and warm water instead of the cold. 

I have learned that more suds doesn't mean cleaner.  Seriously.  And...I have learned that I (the tree hugger) will probably never own a front loading washer.  Ever. 
I cannot guarantee that it will work for anyone else, but our wash routine has been as follows for almost 4 months:
  • Hot pre-wash rinse cycle using about 1/3 cup of home-made soap nuts liquid.
  • Hot wash cycle with warm rinse (I have to manually change the temp dial from hot wash/cold rinse to warm wash/warm rinse once the washer fills) using about 2/3 cup of home-made soap nuts liquid and 1/2 scoop of OxiClean.
  • Extra rinse cycle after the wash cycle - warm water (I can set the extra rinse to run automatically after the wash cycle)
  • A second extra rinse cycle using warm water.  
  • I still dry everything on the very cool drying rack that I got at the beginning of the summer, and I try to get stuff outside to dry as much as possible.  The plan for winter is to dry stuff next to the wood stove, then put it all outside to air out a little bit and catch a little bit of sun light here and there.  

In terms of diapers, we still stand by our pocket diapers.  Although we have multiple brands, our mainstays have turned out to be RumpaRooz, Fuzzibunz and Applecheeks.  Since writing a mini-review of everything we were using a few months ago, I have the following to add...
  • Our Bum Genius has been in use for several months fewer than our Thirsties diapers, but the velcro on the Bum Genius seems to hold up much better than the Thirsties (I ordered the BG in velcro by mistake - I definitely prefer snaps!)   We only use the BG during the day, but I like it.  Next time they run a really good sale, I might get a couple more, but with snaps.  **Spring 2012 update - the velcro on the BG is just as lousy as it is on other brands.  Totally prefer snaps.
  • Thirsties hemp/cotton inserts are still our go-to 'doubler' inserts.  They are definitely slow to dry, but they are really absorbent for such a thin insert.  We have started adding a small Thirsties insert to our RaR at night (3 inserts total), since Jenna started consistently peeing out of them when she started sleeping 12-14 hours. 
  • I would really like to try some Kawaii diapers (other than our overnight diaper), but they are always out of stock on the sites that I shop on. 
  • KangaKare seems to be a decent company to work with if you have a problem.  I recently found that one of my RumpaRooz diapers was delaminating.  After contacting them, I found that the diaper was a second quality diaper that had somehow made it into one of my orders a year ago.  I explained to them that I had never knowingly purchased a second quality diaper, and they replaced it for me.  
  • Sadly, I'm starting to think that KangaKare might use questionable elastic.  Our diapers have all been in use for less than one year, and all are evenly used in our rotation.  The gusset elastic and leg elastic are completely shot in one of our RaR; this caused me to check all of our RaR and come to the conclusion that the elastic in most of our RaR is on its way out.  None of the other brands we use are demonstrating any elastic issues.  So...I haven't decided what I am going to do with this, especially since they replaced the above diaper (after lengthy conversation) even though they didn't have to.  When they replaced that diaper, they wanted to know about my wash routine; they did promptly point out that I have never used one of their 'approved' detergents, and that using other detergents has caused problems with their diapers.  Despite the fact that soap nuts are as natural as it gets, I suspect that they would quickly argue that the elastic has been negatively affected by not using their 'approved' detergents.  

If you are also a relative newbie to CDing, how are you doing so far???

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

In my younger days, I worked for about 5 years as a life guard in a couple different settings.   The bulk of my work was at a community pool that was packed with kids every day.  I can honestly say that I vigilantly watched the pool like a hawk every time I was in the chair; I watched the little kids especially closely, for obvious reasons.  One afternoon late in my 2nd summer, another lifeguard and I had a 'near miss' with a 4 year old.  A couple years later, during a life guard recertification course, we watched a video that presents information very similar to that presented in this article.  If information had been presented in this format during my initial life guarding class (as opposed to the standard cookie cutter book that the ARC hands out), I am certain that our near miss would have never gotten as far as it did.

This article is short, sweet, and potentially life altering.  Please, please, please read it.  (I know that many who follow here are also friends on FB, but I need to post this here for those who are not FB friends or who just plain missed in on FB today.  If you are a parent or care provider for kids, read this article.  Even if you don't think you need to read it, read it anyway.  It might be the best two minutes you ever 'waste.')

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

March for Babies / Wordless Wednesday

I want to thank those who donated toward Team Gracieb.elle's fund raising goal this year.  With your help we were able to raise a total of $5300.31.  As someone brought to my attention a couple months ago, these efforts won't bring Gracie back to us.  But, perhaps, our efforts will help save the life of one baby - which, in turn, will save one family from enduring the heartache that we have endured for the last 21 months.  So, from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you to all who donated. 

Obviously my picture isn't so wordless today, but here it is anyway.  :-)