Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cloth Diapering Report #3

Eowyn is now 9 months old, fully mobile, and is eating at least some solid foods. The past 3 months have held both regular baby-sitting (while I worked 2 mornings/week) and travels in cars and by plane. Here's what's been going on in the Szrama diaper-front. (See past updates here and here.)

-- Daily use:
infant size 4x8x4 unbleached prefolds in a medium g-diaper (prefold: still using the factory seconds I bought for $11/dozen) It's been six months of using them daily, and they show no signs of wear. If they get a stain, it takes a maximum of 2 dryings-by-clothesline in the sun and they are nice again. I HIGHLY recommend good (unbleached) pre-folds to anyone! I also am very impressed with the g-diapers. This was sort of a surprise to me, since they are marketed to be used with disposable (biodegradable) inserts as a disposable-cloth hybrid. But two friends gave me their stashes (one with two whole packs of disposable inserts-- perfect for travel!) of g-pants, and after sewing new velcro onto one friend's very-worn set, I've been super-pleased! I just fold a pre-fold into thirds and stick a fleece liner over it, and ta-da! Éowyn is ready for another 4-6 hours. I've never had a blow-out and quickly found the source of a seepage issue (a worn-out holder). I love this system because it never marks up her legs, is easy for anyone, fits great around her waist, is super-cute, doesn't leak, dries stain-free and simply, is economical, and is pre-loadable (helps Daddy and diaper-bags out!). I even get use out of some random flat diapers passed down to me; just fold them up and slap on the fleece liner, and we can go for 3-4 hours.

-- While out-and-about, overnight, or for childcare:
- a double-stuffed pocket diaper (favs: M Green Acre Designs, OS Kawaii Baby, M Happy Heiny, M snap Swaddlebees), my favorite inserts being hemp. Not so impressed with Fuzzibunz... I'm actually trying to pass on half a dozen of them...send any interested my way. OR
- a regular-sized prefold, modified a la this webpage, with a diaper cover
I took 2 unbleached regular-sized prefolds (I have a dozen I inherited--they are too big for E now) and use them overnight (again with a fleece liner) with great results. I still like my M Bummis those leg-gussets!

Others used:
Bumkins Dr. Seuss covers (not sure what's up with the mesh in the back; if she sleeps in them it often leaks there)

Tricks & Tips learned:
- I'm sort of in love with this site...
- diaper liners: I cut up a fleece blanket into strips, and use these for my liners. I think they make a big difference in keeping her dry and rash-free. Also make for easier clean-up of poops, and also guard against lotions getting on the diapers themselves. They dry super-fast.
- wipe solution: ~1/2 T raw coconut oil, drop or two of baby wash, and ~1/3 wipe-box-full of water. So far my cloth wipes (just washcloths cut into halves or fourths) are holding up well. I'm zig-zagging the cut edges a bit at a time. Not sure if it's needed, but I think it will help them hold up longer.
- I had to strip several pocket diapers I bought used (they were repelling water!)...after washing them normally, I boiled them with white vinegar in the water, then I scrubbed them with a natural oxygen bleach powder (natural version of OxyClean) with a toothbrush, and then I threw them in the next diaper load. They've worked great ever since!!
- for diaper rashes (rare): Burt's Bees Carrot Night Cream, or coconut oil (raw). [I just bought Arbonne's Herbal Diaper Creme, and to my dismay found it contains soybean oil, so I can't apply it to her!! I have put it onto a disposable wipe and spread it on her that way. Supposedly it doesn't interfere with cloth diaper absorbancy...] Anyway I LOVE the night cream, and also put it on any skin irritation, etc on her. It doesn't treat anything, so probably wouldn't work on an infection, but it does nourish the skin & heal it up quickly!
- my laundry routine works like a charm: hot cycle with double rinse, using ~2 T of my homemade soap (grated soaps --most recently freebies from hotels,-- borax, washing soda & a tad of OxyClean), drying everything in the sun (usually). I have enough diapers to make it through 3-4 days easily. I just bought a pail liner (Kissa's Antibacterial) to make laundry faster and less gross. :) I have learned that I DO need that much soap-- any less and the diapers smell "swampy", and if I skip the 2nd rinse I risk giving my baby diaper rash. :( White vinegar helps too. I also think that using coconut soap or fels-naptha instead of random hotel soaps makes for a stronger detergent, meaning it might be better for diapers.
- for swim diapers-- meant to catch solids, not liquids: a g-pant (old) with a square of cloth from an old t-shirt folded inside (so her bum isn't touching plastic), and an old Dappi brand cover (it had nice mesh inside) that's too small to be worn over a prefold, also with cotton fabric folded inside. These worked great at the beach, and we'll be using them all summer long!
- for pocket-diaper inserts-- microfiber "carwash" towels from Target folded into 3rds. They really do work!

My stash: between each wash I regularly use 1 dozen unbleached pre-folds, 1/2 dozen flats, ~18 diaper liners, 4-6 diaper doublers, ~4 g-pants, ~6 g-diaper liners, 3-6 pocket diapers, 2 extra-absorbancy prefolds, and 1 diaper cover. I do diaper loads 2ce/week.

Bacteria, the Good & the Bad

Two articles were brought to my attention today, both concrning those little creatures ith whom we must learn to co-exist, or perish. Too much of them in the wrong place, and we die. Too few of them in the right place, and we get really sick... Yep, I am referring to our prokariotic friends, those single-celled ubiquitous critters called bacteria.

First, one on bacteria and newborns. Yes, they need them too. [This article gives yet another reason to pursue natural childbirth rather than medically "controlled" (usually = meddled-in) births.]

Second, one on bacteria and reusable grocery bags. No, they do not need them.

Check 'em out!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why I Went to Church on Vacation

Ryan had to work all of Sunday morning at the Colorodo DrupalCamp here in Denver. That left me to do whatever I wanted with my sweet Éowyn to do or not do whatever I wanted to do. I thought about going to church... since it was the Lord's Day and all, but thought about the "trouble" of getting a baby ready, myself ready, out the door and to a totally unfamiliar place, driving an unfamiliar car (a Suburban FAR bigger than my Malibu) in a town where I'd never driven before... not to mention finding a church that would be worth going to, and near enough to get to in time... I thought about not going, about just reading the Bible on my own, praying, reading the Bible lessons for VBS I'm going to teach next week... then I looked into my heart.

It took about two seconds to realize just how much I was in need of refreshment. I realized just how much I was in need of hearing Truth, of being around singing believers looking beyond the obvious into the Real. I realized, most of all, that I needed to worship. Lately, I've been having trouble remembering that God is Real, that He is near, that He is there for me to enjoy.

So I found a list of reformed churches online, and went to one with a very cheesy name, but with good stuff on their website-- L2 Church, just a few blocks from our rental house. I got up, got baby and self ready, figured out the garage, the car, the gate, and the alley, drove nervously through the streets that seemed too narrow to be 2 lanes... I got there and I heard singing. It was good to hear.

The sermon, on Hope for the Poor in the Gospel, was good-- I took away several things and hid them in my heart. But I think the pastor could have spoken on just about any topic, and if he'd mentioned Christ, the Gospel, and the reality of our God, it would have been worth it. I kept being moved near tears by so many things. Why? because it was True. Because it reminded me of things I too easily forget.

I need help remembering. I need fellowship with God. That's why I go to church every Sunday, and especially when I'm traveling (because I often struggle to make time with the Lord when on the road). Yes, it's commanded... but it's commanded because it's GOOD. I went to church because my flame is weak, and I need it fanned into fire.

Some might think I went to church because my faith is strong.


I went because my faith is weak.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Where We've Been

Pensacola signs tend towards the tackilicious...

Our condo-- the second floor.

Our group: Jeb & Chris (guests of the Graduate), Courtney, Me, "Poppy," Eowyn, Grandma, "Nana," Greg, Kendi & Grandpa. Just missing Ryan.

About to tour the old Fort Pickens (LOVED IT!). Gettin' attitude from Courtney... as usual... ;)

They aren't lying about "white sugar beaches"

We also enjoyed touring the Naval Aviation Museum on base.

Ryan & I enjoyed the IMAX presentation of about the Blue Angels. Wow they are seriously cool!

Lots of baby-loving went on...

We all enjoyed the Wave Runners we rented for 1 hr one afternoon... except for the Grands, and Nana who watched Eowyn back in the cooler condo.

We had a great time and can't wait to go back!

Friday, June 18, 2010

8 Months Old

Dear little munchkin,

As I write this, you are standing, cool as a cucumber, against Nana & Poppy's coffee table, smacking it and growling because you can't quite reach a coaster (yum). When I laugh at this, you grin at me, and I can see that adorable mini-dimple in your right cheek. You just saw a toy that we'd left here, and cried out in delight, then power-crawled over to it. No longer do you crawl like a careful automaton-- you've got speed and confidence. You're also very confident in your standing ability. When you want something else, you try reaching for it, and will occasionally cruise around to it, but usually, you very carefully lower yourself about halfway to the ground, and then "plop!" drop the rest of the way. Boy are you happy to be out of your car seat!

You seem to be learning a new trick every day. Yesterday it was giving five (in English or in Spanish). Today it's growling in "conversation." Just before our trip you started kissing us... You understand "quieto" (be still) very well, which came in SO handy yesterday when I was changing you on the floor of our beach condo (with white carpet!) and couldn't find the wipes, and you had a VERY messy diaper. If you'd disobeyed and started rolling or scooting around... yuck. You sometimes show your frustration with grunts, growls, sighs or fake little cries when told "no," proving that yes, you in fact understand EXACTLY what we're telling you. You really like older kids. You watch Magnus run like a maniac, and you put up with him stealing your toys and bowling you over-- and you appreciate it when he shares with you. You play well with Jane & baby Grace, grabbing toys out of each other's mouths and occasionally sharing. Other favorites are your blankies (2 "travel size" and 1 full sized-- any will do just as well-- it's the silky-and-fuzzy combo that gets ya), your spoons, my lip gloss, and your red paci. If you have a paci and a blankie, you put yourself right to bed. You love the song "Juan Pequeno Baila" (Little Johnny Dances), and your lullaby, "How Firm a Foundation," and any silly song Daddy sings to you. You LOVE music. At church you sing along, especially to the Alleluias. It's so sweet!

Right now you are an extreme mama's girl. You are fine with other people (especially your grandparents & family), as long as you know Mommy isn't anywhere near. If you glimpse me, hear me, or (I swear) smell me, it's over. The tears begin and do not stop. You also love Daddy, and are happiest when BOTH parents are right there with you. You make friends easily, too; two days ago, you cried when Grandpa Presley walked away from us, and held out your arms for him to pick you back up.

This month we weighed you on the fruit scale at Joe Huber's Family Farm, where we picked strawberries, and you were 17.5 lbs. You seem all arms and legs all of a sudden. The only trace of rolly-polly baby fat is around your thighs. The rest is all lean. Your feet grew so suddenly, too! Still no more teeth, though you've been "teething" for about 2 months now.

You eat pretty much anything we give you, though only after cautiously poking your tongue out of very-tightly-closed lips. If it passes taste-muster, you open up. If not, you push the spoon away, growl, or turn your head away. You finally started eating meat this month (ground lamb & ground beef), mixed in with fruit puree. You fed yourself your first solids of steamed carrot and red potato, and steamed cabbage leaves. You (usually) eat solids at 11 am and 5 pm, and you let me know very clearly when you've had enough of them and are ready for your "real meal" (mama's milk). You eat just about anything you can reach, including a strawberry (green head first) while we were picking them, and an entire dandelion.

This month you've added Alabama and Florida to your states-visited list, as we spent 5 days in Pensacola Beach. We, with Uncle Greg & Aunt Kendi, went around to see Daddy's childhood homes, schools, favorite spots, and the Presley grandparents' home. You did NOT like the beach at first (scary-sounding), but by the second day, you really enjoyed bouncing out with Mommy & Daddy in the calmer waters further from shore. You tried to catch a little clam, and were upset that it burrowed into the sand away from you! You look SO cute in your bathing suit! Another first this month was being babysat by Morgan S., whom I used to babysit! (Aunt Sina helped out a lot)

We love your many expressions, and how well you express your emotions despite your lack of vocabulary. One day soon, you'll be talking! I try to remember how quickly you're growing up and savor every minute... even the middle-of-the-night cry fests you've adopted this past 2 weeks with your very-sad congestion and cough.

I could write all night, but it's time to put you to bed, muchachita!


Monday, June 14, 2010

My Struggle These Days

I had a dream about a month ago that I was dying. I remember being most concerned about my grandfather, who is not a believer, and wanting to share the Gospel with him explicitly one more time before I died. In my dream I was trying to tell him about the Savior, and his need for Him... and all of a sudden I began to think about my own soul- life the past several months, and the icy cold of doubt entered my heart. "Am I a believer? I sure haven't been living like one. There's been such empty routine in my heart; such anger towards the Lord and so little joyful obedience." Always before I'd been so sure of my salvation because of the love I've had for Him, deep down-- not of myself at all. Not so in my dream. With my own death approaching, where was the dying grace I'd always prayed for, always expected? "If I'm not a believer, I know the answer is to repent... but you can't run to Jesus just to avoid punishment; He doesn't want to be used; He isn't the means to an end-- He IS the End, and if He isn't, He isn't truly being worshiped. He will not be used as currency for the purchase of idols." And so on until I woke up. The questions, the doubts of my own salvation even, remained.

All the way through this, I've still wanted to encourage others; to be a good friend that points others to Christ; to tell everyone around me of the Joy of Knowing Him. But the past few months I've felt only bitterness, and so have kept quiet, afraid of spewing the bile of my soul on everyone if I be honest, or of ringing fake if I speak of Christ. Even as I've taught children's Sunday School, my preschool class, and shared the Gospel with my neighbors and lost friends, it's been saying truth that I KNOW is true, yet struggling to say it when my heart doesn't "feel" it. How can I encourage others to know Him when I've been so far from Him and His Word myself?

The Lord's shown me that there's been slow anger boiling in my heart, simmering away; a root of bitterness. The anger's been mainly towards the Lord, for asking for yet more obedience (as always), when my past obedience has seemingly been "rewarded" with hardship. As if He owed me. "Why should I obey you more, Master, when You aren't giving me what I want, despite my best obedience? That's not how I want it to work!! Look, these many years I've served You and I never disobeyed Your command, yet You never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends!" (Luke 15:29) The heart of the Older Brother is in mine-- the heart that stayed "near" the Father outwardly for all those years, yet derived no joy from his Father's nearness. "His commands are not burdensome" "If you LOVE Me, you will obey what I command." Hmmm.

It has been several months of hard, angry struggling in my soul over here... someone at church asked me how I was yesterday, and I smiled, all dressed up for church as I was, with my beautiful baby on my hip, and beamed "doing really well!" It took a bit for me to realize that my automatic answer was a total lie. All is NOT well in my soul. I mean, I know that my salvation is secure and my Eternal Happiness will be worked out, but I haven't been experientially aware of that reality at all lately. An honest, open-heart email --written about 2 weeks ago-- to a friend captures this, so I'll cut and paste it in here... please pray for me.

"... we made it home safely last night, and found our garden was NOT eaten by varmits!!! Those coffee grounds I threw out there our last night home seemed to do the trick! Now... will they keep the vermin at bay? I really want some fruit for all my labor! At least we should get peppers and tomatoes; never have managed to kill those yet. Speaking of gardening, I really want to go out there and plant some stuff while E's asleep. She's usually a handful outside-- wanting to eat EVERY blade of grass and type of leaf (gross, I know)-- but today she is Queen Super Crank. I've been looking forward to nap-time ever since she got up from her last one, how sad is that?! So maybe after I send this to you I'll run out there, plant and re-pot and then run back in here and work on my sewing projects. What other chores am I supposed to do today? I feel like once I hit a rhythm for chores and schedule I'll feel less overwhelmed... otherwise my brain spins a billion miles an hour. I made this chore chart and I have a planner... from my SWI class... should probably use it...

"Band-aid for a bullet wound..." that sounds so familiar-- is it a Switchfoot lyric? You saying that made me look at myself and think a bit. I realized that my first impulse is always to "fix it" and get back in the game. You know, like in volleyball; you dive, eat the floor, then you shake it off and do what you need to to get back up and dive again. If I'm not being a good wife, I need to read a book about it, figure out my problem, fix it, and get in there and be a better wife. If I'm not sure how to handle my daughter, I just need to read a book on it and I'm sure I'll get it under control. Crazy house? Give me a book, a pencil and paper, and I'll have The Perfect Schedule in no time. I know I can handle everything and anything, if I just have a little guidance, time and somewhere to jot down all my Marvelous Ideas. Savior? Who needs that? Externally powered inner strength? Why would I ask for that when all I need is a little help. I got this, you know? I got this.


There's an old hymn that says "lay all your deadly doing down/ down at Jesus' feet." I think I need to meditate on that again. I'm trying to pray and read Scripture and hold my inadequacy up with both hands and beg the Lord to Fill it. Not with a schedule or a to-do list or a how-to book, but with Himself. "He is the Treasure to be found in all that hurts us" (Ben Patterson, Waiting)."

In the book Mimosa (Amy Carmichael), the poor, oppressed and amazingly kept heroine knows next to nothing about her Savior-- only that He loves her and knows her name, and that He is different from all the idols of India. Yet she loved him, clung to Him and Him alone, and prayed to Him as one dependant on His provision. She would spread her sari before God, empty, and hold it out to Him when she had nothing at all to feed her children, and she'd ask Him for rice-- that's what she called prayer: "holding out my sari to Him." She came to Him empty, holding out her emptiness for Him to fill, utterly sure that He would do it, and seeing Him answer faithfully time and time again. In that sense, her very inadequacy, her very emptiness was almost an offering.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken spirit and a contrite heart. These, o God, You will not despise."

Praying that I will learn to "hold out my sari" to HIm... "nothing in my hands I bring/ simply to Thy cross I cling."


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Abortion's Selfish Nature

This article will shock you, and hopefully make you think. The British public was recently scandalized that about 80 women a year end pregnancies which they themselves brought about, through in-vitro fertilization. Abortion is always selfish-- choosing to end another's life because it would somehow make yours more difficult (even if the difficulty wasn't one you brought on yourself, such as in the case of rape)-- this article shows the depth to which that can go. Babies are not shirts that you can decide to put on and put off!!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Al Mohler on the Pill

Though these have been out a while, I only just read them today. As always, his thoughts are well-articulated and interesting. Feel free to post responses and/or thoughts. I'm not saying I agree 100% with him; I just like that he's bringing it up as a question for Christians to consider and discuss. He's right: for so long we've just accepted birth control of all kinds, for all reasons-- sex both in and out of marriage-- without looking deeper and trying to discern the world view behind it... and trying to peer ahead on its effect on our worldview and our health. (Of course, here he isn't discussing the use of the Pill or other hormonal therapies for things like skin conditions or regulation of irregular cycles-- those uses of the Pill are medicinal, not elective.)