Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wet Bag!

My sewing abilities seem to be improving slowly but surely.

Last year, I initiated myself into the world of sewing with a minky cover for Jack's changing table pad (which turned out really well!) and a PUL pail liner for his diaper pail (which turned out to be functional - still going strong! - if not the most beautiful thing ever).

For Easter this year I made Jack a sock monkey, which was half hand sewn and half machine sewn, that I was very happy with!

I don't have pictures of the other projects, but I do have a shot of Mr. Sock Monkey:

Pretty cute, huh?

For my next trick I made a lined wet bag!  This sewing project was considerably harder than my previous attempts and involved a zipper - definitely new territory - but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!  Again, maybe not the most beautiful wet bag ever, but I think it'll be nice and functional. 

For those who don't know, a wet bag is a waterproof bag made to hold wet items.  In this case, it will be holding used cloth diapers.  We already have a small Planet Wise wet bag, which we've been really happy with, but it only holds a maximum of 2 diapers.

It's perfect for a few short hours away from home, but I often find myself wishing we had not only a secondary bag for when the first one is dirty, but also one that has a little larger capacity for when we're away from the house for an extended period of time.

A medium wet bag in the brand we already have costs $16.50 plus shipping.  Not overly expensive for the amount of use you get out of it, but I decided I'd try my hand at making my own!

Here are the results:

Looks pretty good to me!

I used Skip to my Lou's Lined Zippered Pouch Tutorial to help me figure out what I was doing.

I ended up with a wet bag which is 12x16-inches with a PUL inner, and cotton outer.  I expect that it will hold 6-8 used diapers.

Cost breakdown:

 ~ Cotton outer fabric - already had this left over from another project
 ~ PUL inner fabric - already had this left over from making Jack's pail liner
 ~ Zipper - $1.19
 ~ Zipper foot - $6.60.  I did buy a zipper foot for my sewing machine with this particular project in mind, however since I'm sure I will be using it again in the future and isn't specific to this project I don't really think it should be counted toward the total cost of this wet bag, even though Mark does :P

So $1.19, if you're me, $7.79 if you're Mark

Either way, I definitely saved some money and gained some sewing confidence!

Next up, cloth napkins!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I think we're in agreement here

There are opposing sides on a lot of issues that affect women, but one point I think we can ALL agree on: swimsuits are The Devil.

Amiright?  Because I'm pretty sure I am.

And the most frustrating part for me is I don't even mind wearing a bathing suit!  Heck, I even like it because if I'm wearing a bathing suit it means that I'm at the beach or at least near some form of water and I love being those places so bring it on!  But that's only half the battle.  The part I hate is the darn suit itself!  Or rather, finding a suit.

I'm certain that males control the bathing suit industry because I'm SURE women haven't created this situation for themselves.

First, let's look at the cost.  Bathing suits are the most expensive piece of nothing we have to purchase.  They can't cost much to produce yet most places have their suits priced at $100 OR MORE!  That's insane!  I'm 100% convinced they're priced like that because they know that once a woman finds a suit that she feels okay in they'll be willing to pay any price for it!  $178.99 for a scrap of fabric that doesn't draw attention to my mom pooch?  SOLD! 

It's highway robbery, people!

Secondly, are swimwear designers under the impression that all women, regardless of size otherwise, are an A-cup?  Because my experience is that nearly every woman would enjoy a little more support for The Girls in their $180 suit.  Those annoying sewn in "soft cups", which, let's be honest, are really just the deformed cousin of shoulder pads, that move around and do nothing just ain't going to cut it with with my DDs.  It's laughable that that's the "supportive option". 

Apparently the industry is under the impression that woman are actually a bunch of pre-pubescent girls and we usually wear bras on a daily basis just for funzies.  Would it kill them to put in some underwires?  I suppose it would cut into their 425% profit margin if they did, so there's that.

Don't even get me started on never being able to find anything in my size at a store.  I can find larger sizes, I can find smaller sizes, but there must be a lot of people out there who wear the same size I do because I feel like it's *never* available!  I don't even try anymore. 

If there's one thing you really don't want to shop for online it's a bathing suit, yet with the limited options that are in stores to begin with coupled with the fact that I can never find my size in what they do offer I'm forced to.  It's really hard to choose a swimsuit without trying it on. 

It doesn't make it any easier to shop when the ladies modeling the suits are super tanned, toned, extra-smalls (the kind of girls who wear a 00 <-- that is not a size!  It the double negative existence of a size!  Ugh, don't get me started.) being photographed in perfect light with a light breeze blowing their hair in an alluring way.  This doesn't give me any idea what a suit is going to look like on me.  How about a moderately accurate representation of the suit by depicting a more realistic person wearing it?  Just a thought.

And what's the deal with style options?  Or lack there of.  In our society women are told that they're not good enough.  We have to cover up and hide our bodies because they aren't skinny enough, toned enough, tan enough, they're just not enough.  And then, we have to pay for our $180 suits that we spend the whole time feeling TOTALLY uncomfortable in because if we don't look good enough in our daily clothes why in the world would we expect to look good in glorified underwear?!  That leads to not feeling good which can ruin any outfit.  I think that a lot of women would appreciate a wider range of bathing suit style options. 

Some people want more coverage, modesty, or support and this is true at ANY size so why can't we have more options?  Aren't consumers supposed to drive the market?  The traditional brief-style suit just isn't going to look great on everyone.  Just like skinny jeans don't look great on everyone (err... very few actually.  When will that trend end?  Soon, I hope.).  The point is that every woman should have the opportunity to feel great in what she's wearing and typically swimsuits are every woman's nightmare.  It's no wonder! 

Honestly, while shopping this year it seems like they're starting to make some positive strides with swimwear design.  They now offer swimdresses, skirtinis, and one-pieces that are actually cute and fashionable and don't look like they're made for old women.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with being an old woman, but I'm not one and I want a full coverage option that isn't going to make me look like I shopped in someone else's closet. 

It doesn't seem like much to ask considering the amount of money I'm paying for a darn piece of stretchy fabric. 

Can you tell I've been bathing suit shopping today?  :P

Where do you find cute suits for a reasonable price? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I don't want to sound conceited or anything, but... I'm kind of a big deal

I have a very special ability, which should not be taken lightly. I can conjure a torrential downpour out of the clear blue sky!  I should really charge for these services and start predicting the local forecast or traveling to drought-stricken parts of the country to help them out.  This special ability should not be squandered.  Because it seems like without fail, every time I hang a load of laundry on the line outside BAM! magical downpour!

Now, I guess I should disclaim that I live in Ohio, which has apparently become land of crappy weather and if it's not cold and snowing then it's hot and raining.  No in between.  It seems like most days this Spring and Summer have been either rainy, or with a chance of rain/severe thunderstorms, which makes it oh so easy to plan considering it might be bright and sunny all day, or there may be some random lightening and hail coming at you, but HEY!  We're spontaneous like that!  We're a fun folk, we Ohioans.

Look!  I'll play local weatherperson!  Ahem.  Today it'll be face-of-the-sun-hot outside with 95% humidity and a heat index of 105-degrees.  We may or may not experience a deluge of rain, lightening, and hail at any point during the day with no warning so make sure to hang on to those umbrellas!

Last Monday, with scattered or isolated (or whatever, just the whole it may or may not rain thing) showers/thunderstorms in our forecast, I agonized over the radar projections and because it wasn't looking so good out, I went ahead and dried diapers in the dryer.  Of course after I did that it cleared up, became sunny, and never ended up raining.  Forecast fail.

Wednesday, it was bright and sunny all morning.  No rain in the forecast (for once!) and I'd been keeping my eye on the radar periodically which showed clear skies for our area!  So, I put diapers outside.  I should just accept at this point that Mother Nature hates me and really enjoys raining on my parade... er... diapers as it were, but I like to pretend like the weather doesn't revolve around me.

Several hours later I notice that the sky has suddenly gone from sunny to cloudy.  As I'm looking out the window it gets even more ominous looking and I just know that a storm is about to hit.  So I go to bring up the radar on my computer and before I can even get the thing to load it starts raining.  I immediately jump up and run outside (why?  I have no idea.  What am I going to do?) and once I'm out there (getting rained on) I decide I'm just going to take the diapers down.  I get about 5 items off the line before I realize that I'm outside in a total downpour complete with thunder and lightening and that my attempts are futile as not only is all the laundry already totally soaked at this point, but now I am too.

This all happened in the course of about 5 minutes and as I sit watching my diapers getting soaked I just *know* that in 10 minutes, it's going to be bright and sunny again and my head is going to explode because I swear, more than half the time this happens to me.  If I skip hanging things outside, no rain.  Hang things outside?  RAIN.  I cause teh rainz I tells ya!

And the real kick in the rump is how counterproductive this whole situation is.  Had I just taken the clean diapers from the washer and tossed them directly into the dryer I would have had dry diapers by the time the rain came through.  Because I decided I was going to take advantage of the "nice" weather and hang diapers outside I had to go out in sweltering heat and humidity straight out of the Amazon Rainforest, trying all the while not to perish of heatstroke, to get the diapers hung on the line just to have them soaked by rain and have to bring them in to put in the dryer ANYWAY, which, by the by, ended up taking a cycle and a half to even get them dry because they were so wet!  So I wasted time, energy, and sanity on this ultra-rewarding endeavor of mine.  Gotta love days like that!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 24th

Sunday:  Dinner at parents' house

Monday:  Bourbon Chicken with Steamed Veggies and Brown Rice - carried over from last week

Tuesday:  Chipotle-inspired Chicken Burritos

Wednesday:  Hot Italian Sausages with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday:  Leftovers/Out

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday:  Ribs with Classic Mac & Cheese and Sweet Corn

I'm linked at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cloth Diapering a Toddler... Part 3

In my third and final (I hope!) installment of my experience with the challenges of cloth diapering a toddler I'll share my new working wash routine!

In Part 1 you can find our leak-free nap/night time solution.

In Part 2 you can follow our battle with ammonia buildup.

During my ammonia battle I tried stripping, I tried using more detergent, I tried hopping on one foot, while pouring the detergent in over my shoulder, and singing Yankee Doodle Dandy.  Nothing was working and I was FRUSTRATED.  Laundry should not be this hard, people. 

I also tried a few additives like Bac-Out and vinegar, my detergent already included washing soda, borax, and OxyClean, but ultimately I realized it was time to try a stronger detergent.

A note on detergents: When I first started my cloth diapering journey (waaaay back when in early 2010 ;) ) the general consensus was that you needed special cloth-friendly detergents, you needed to use as little of these gentle detergents as possible on a whole load of dirty diapers to clean them, and complicated, frustrating wash routines were the norm.

Over the course of my cloth diapering journey there has been a noticeable shift in this thinking.  Now, cloth diapering moms are more likely to rebuke the boutique options and advise frustrated mamas to just wash their cloth diapers in whatever detergent they are using on their clothes!

That's quite a change, huh?  Well, I don't know that I'd go so far as to recommend you use just ANYTHING, but I do agree with a few points of this new doctrine:

First, cloth diapers are merely fabric.  Yes, some of them can be relatively pricey and of course we all want to protect our investment and have our diapers last as long as possible, but they're not made of diamond encrusted lettuce leaves.  They're fabric, just like all the other laundry we all toss into the washer without another thought.  There are some special considerations, but you don't have to handle them with kid gloves.

Second, cloth diapers are poo-catchers.  They're dirty.  In fact, they're the dirtiest things you're ever going to wash and because of that, they REALLY test the limits of detergent and washing machine capabilities.  If you want to know how well a detergent or washing machine really cleans, ask a cloth diapering parent because they have REALLY tested its limits!  Because they're so dirty they aren't the easiest things to clean.

And third, your wash routine doesn't have to be complicated.  There are so many detergent options out there and they are all going to work differently for every individual depending on your needs and most importantly the quality of your water!  It's going to take some trial and error, but find what works for you and don't worry about what anyone else has to say about it!

There are now plenty of mamas coming out of the woodwork saying that they've been using commercial detergents for multiple years, though multiple babies, with the same diapers with great success!  There are lots of mamas who still really like the more boutique-y detergents and haven't seen any issues.  All of this to say, there are a wide range of experiences and there is no single detergent in existence which everyone is going to love.

There are a few things I would advise you to consider before using just any detergent off the store shelves:

First, especially with smaller babies or babies that have had skin reactions in the past, I'd be hesitant to use commercial detergents with fragrances or enzymes because they can cause skin irritation.  If you use a detergent that contains these ingredients on their clothes hopefully it won't irritate them if used on their diapers, but since they're going to be wearing these diapers pretty much 24/7 and they'll often be wet, if they're going to experience a reaction it will be with diapers!  Some babies are totally fine with it though, so I wouldn't rule those things out, just exercise caution and keep an eye out for any irritation.

Second, I wouldn't use detergents which contain fabric softener.  That is something that because of the nature of the product will cause your diapers to lose absorbency - not something you want with diapers!

After considering a few options I decided to try using some All Free & Clear Powder that I already had sitting in my linen closet that I had picked up on sale.  I was nervous about the outcome.  It was like the very first time I had washed cloth diapers all over again!

I purchased a 40 load box for $1.99 with a coupon combined with a sale.  At that price, it costs about $.05/load, however, I don't use a full scoop so it actually costs between $.03 and $.04/load.  Pretty darn good if I can keep finding it at that price!

The most important thing is that it works!  It works!!!  ::happy dance::  If you've ever struggled with getting your diapers clean you'll understand how exciting this is!

It gets everything clean and it comes out smelling like nothing, just like it should!  No ammonia, no stinkies!  I'm a happy cloth diapering mama again!

I've experimented a bit and found that I need to use 3 tablespoons for best results (Note: I have an old-school top loader, which I love, by the way, despite the fact that it's probably as old, or older than I am!).  2 tablespoons wasn't quite enough and the diapers don't come out smelling totally clean.  3 tablespoons is just right, things get nice and clean but I'm not using too much and ending up with buildup or tons of bubbles that I have to employ multiple extra rinses to wash out!

In addition to switching detergents, I've changed my wash routine slightly in that I'm now washing 3 times per week vs. 2.  I had always washed on Mondays and Thursdays, but again with the more concentrated, stronger, toddler pee, it doesn't help the situation for used diapers to sit around for a long time so now I'm washing 3 times a week - Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  We'll see how this schedule works and tweak it if need be.  The diaper laundry really isn't that big of a deal and I'm stuffing the same number of diapers regardless.

Also, I used to only do a cold pre-rinse and then a hot wash.  Now I'm doing a cold pre-rinse and a hot wash, followed by an extra cold rinse.  Another thing I've changed is when doing my rinses I've been setting the load size to medium (vs. large) because my load size is a little smaller when washing 3 times a week.  You still want to set it to the largest load size during the actual wash cycle as it will help the diapers get cleaner, but for rinsing purposes, there's no need to use more water than necessary!

I'm doing the extra rinse post-wash now because with my old detergent I didn't need to worry about it rinsing clean.  Now that I'm using a harsher commercial detergent, I want to make sure that I'm getting all the soap out so we don't end up with any buildup issues or skin irritation.  And as always, I line-dry whenever possible to not only save money and energy, but also to take advantage of the power of the sun for helping keep things fresh and stain free!

So, in summary, my new wash routine is this:


Cold rinse, no detergent, set to medium load
Hot wash, 3T detergent, set to large load
Cold rinse, no detergent, set to medium load

Line-dry when possible, or toss in the dryer on medium heat

Something to note about All Free & Clear Powder - most cloth diapering parents have seen some sort of detergent chart which lists out detergents and rates them based on their compatibility with cloth diapers.  Most commercial detergents don't rate very high for one reason or another (usually enzymes, optical brighteners, fabric softeners, scents, and/or dyes) so they should be used with caution.

All Free & Clear Powder rates 3 stars (average; not the best for cloth diapers) on the Pinstripes and Polka Dots chart due to optical brighteners.  Optical brighteners are a concern because they can buildup in diapers (optical brighteners are designed to buildup in fabrics to give the illusion of brightness/whiteness) which can lead to repelling (the diapers not absorbing properly) and of course it's an additive that can potentially cause irritation with baby's skin.

I've been using it for 4 weeks with great results, but since everyone's needs and experiences are different it may not work as well for you.

This experience has taught me that the very hardest part of cloth diapering is finding a working wash routine.  It's hard because it's frustrating and really there's no way to figure out what works without some trial and error.  Everyone's needs, situation, and experiences are different.  What works for one person won't necessarily work for the next for a variety of reasons.  Most often, the type of water you have will largely affect your wash routine and detergent choice.

Because everyone is different it's difficult for anyone else to really help you find the perfect wash routine, but my advice if you are struggling is to keep trying new things.  You WILL find a routine that works for you.  You WILL find the right detergent or additive that will allow you to pull clean diapers from the washer every time, but it may take a little while to get there.

I was lucky in that we found a routine that worked for us very early on in our cloth diapering journey, but our situation changed and our needs changed and I found myself struggling.  It's frustrating, but it's okay.  Just keep trying new things until you find what's right!

Epilogue: What a novel, eh?  Imagine living it!  :D

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cloth Diapering a Todder... Part 2

Let's talk about The Stinkies.  Now that we've got the leak situation under control this is our new battle.

Recently, we started getting the dreaded ammonia smell in the mornings.  If you're questioning whether or not you have an ammonia problem then, good news, you don't.  Because if you have it, trust me, you'll know it!  It smells like ammonia, but quite noticeably it also feels like your nose is burning off if you catch a whiff of it.  You certainly don't want this against your baby's skin for 12+ hours because ammonia buildup can cause burns on your baby's bottom!

Ammonia buildup is an indication that your diapers aren't getting clean enough.  Often, the diapers will smell clean coming out of the washer/dryer, but once they are wet and new urine meets with the ammonia crystals from the old urine that has been left behind - BAM! you've got that lovely ammonia smell.

Now, a note, some people get nervous about ammonia buildup and think they have it when they don't.  The ammonia smell is only a problem when you can smell it right after your baby wets in a diaper and/or when you're taking a wet diaper off your baby.  Obviously, if a used diaper sits around long enough it and your diaper pail is going to start smelling of ammonia.  That's not a good thing, but it's not an issue.  It is an issue when a "clean" diaper is wet in and immediately smells of ammonia.  That's the situation which indicates buildup.

So, now that we know what ammonia buildup is, how do we fix it?  It seems that this is going to be quite the battle for us because Jack is a heavy wetter.  Ammonia issues occur more often in toddlerhood because toddler pee is different than baby pee.  Because they hold it longer it's more concentrated and it has things in it that a baby who doesn't yet eat solids doesn't have.  Additionally, if your child is a heavy wetter there is going to be more urine and more chance for problems!  As a result I've come to the conclusion that because toddler pee is stronger and yuckier it requires a stronger detergent to combat it and really get the diapers clean. 

I've been experimenting for a while trying to find a new wash routine.  There are a lot of suggestions out there because everyone has a different routine that works for them and their particular situation.  A lot of people struggle with finding a working wash routine at different points in their cloth diapering journey because it does depend on so many different factors.

I started out using a homemade detergent.  It worked beautifully for a full year and I'm quite sad that this is no longer the case.

Once I realized we were having problems the first thing I tried was stripping my diapers.  Stripping is the process of removing any buildup or gunk that may be hiding in the diapers causing problems.  There are several ways of doing this and I've tried many of them.  I utilized a few different stripping options this go around to fix the ammonia problem.

First, I tried blue Dawn.  That didn't work for this problem.

Photo courtesy of The Small Town Mom

Then, I tried boiling my inserts (a tutorial can be found at The Small Town Mom) (another note: all of this ammonia buildup and gunk talk is really referencing my micro-fiber inserts.  Because of the type of diapers and inserts we use, most of the problem that arise have to do with the inserts, not the "diapers" (shells) themselves).  That did work, very well actually, but it was a terribly long, involved, messy process.  HUGE pain in the tush.  And because it didn't really correct what was causing the problem after all that work, we returned right to the same problems as before.

Then, I tried increasing the amount of the detergent that I was using.  I was using 1 tablespoon in the main hot wash, so I upped that to 2 tablespoons.  Well, that only made things worse.  Not only did I have an ammonia buildup issue, but then we ended up with a detergent buildup issue, which led to the general stinkies.  This required more stripping. 

This time I utilized RLR and because I knew a large part of our problem was due to a detergent buildup that fixed the problem right up, pulling all the left-behind detergent out of our diapers.  But we still had an ammonia problem on hand.  ::bangs head::

Still with me?

Then, I took a leap and tried bleach.  Yes bleach.  It's kind of a naughty word in some circles, but sometimes a situation just calls for the Big Guns.  Cottonbabies (the manufacturer of the diapers we use) actually recommends using up to 1/4 cup of bleach once a month to keep your diapers fresh.  As I discovered on my ammonia-fighting quest some sort of antibacterial agent is necessary periodically for proper diaper cleaning.  This is more so true when using the more natural, eco-friendly, or boutique detergents as they do not typically have anything in them that will kill bacteria.  Obviously, this is necessary with diapers especially if they're used to diaper older babies.  When a child is younger and their waste isn't as complicated or concentrated it isn't as big an issue as it can be when they are a little older and problems start to arise.

So I moved forward with the bleach and it worked!  I just used 1/4 cup in the hot wash and then added a few extra rinses to make sure it was all washed out of the diapers.  Bleach is okay to use on PUL because it is a color-fast fabric.  The bleach will not affect the color, but because you don't really want to test out just how well it will retain it's color I suggest letting the washer fill completely and then pouring in the bleach once it starts to agitate so it can evenly disperse (they say to add it before the diapers, but because I start with a rinse I'm not pulling the wet diapers out so I can start the hot wash with an empty washer).

The bleach got rid of the ammonia problem, but only temporarily.  I still needed a better solution because I don't want to have to use bleach in every load (it's a pain because it takes more water and time and not everything can be in the wash at the same time if I'm using bleach because although PUL is color-safe I have other things like wetbags and cloth wipes that are not).

Next, I tried stuffing Jack's night time diapers with pad-folded flats in place of the micro-fiber inserts that were part of our leak-free sleep solution.  Flats are the cloth diapers of yesteryear and, I must say, our grandparents were on to something!

They're not as fancy or quite as easy to use as some of the more modern cloth diapering options, but flats are cheap, absorbent and super easy to wash because once they're unfolded they are a single layer of fabric!  Plus even though they're the cheapest cloth diapering option out there, there are so many ways to use them.  Because of these benefits they're really experiencing a resurgence among cloth diapering parents who are tired of dealing with the problems and sometimes complicated wash routines caused by synthetic materials like micro-fiber.

Flats are super versatile because you can choose from so many different folding options and pin or Snappi them, or you can pad-fold them and stick them straight into a cover or use them to stuff diapers like I do.  The only thing to note is that with flats, there is no waterproof material so unlike with a pocket diaper or all-in-one you will need to use some sort of cover to make it waterproof.

Anyway, we're now stuffing Jack's nap and night time diapers with flats to replace the micro-fiber.  His nap diapers are stuffed with one pad-folded flat and one large sized hemp insert.  His night dipes have a pad-folded flat and 2 large sized hemp inserts.  Once we started doing this it fixed our ammonia situation.  I think so much pee was getting absorbed by the micro-fiber inserts in his nighttime diapers that I just wasn't able to get them properly cleaned because of the way they are made.

So we finally got our ammonia situation squared away, but we were still having general smell issues from the diapers not getting clean enough, which meant I still needed to find a new working wash routine. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow where I will share my new wash routine and detergent choice.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 17th

Sunday:  Ribs with Classic Mac & Cheese and Sweet Corn Bread Muffins - carried over from last week

Monday:  Bourbon Chicken with Veggie and Brown Rice

Tuesday:  Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli with Garlic Bread

Wednesday:  Italian Subs with Green Beans

Thursday:  Steak Fajitas with Chips and Guacamole

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday:  Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jack - 16 months

Yikes, I'm way behind!  We've had a busy few weeks - lots of family stuff surrounding July 4th and Mark's and my birthday, getting outside with Jack when it's not face-of-the-sun-hot outside, hiding inside from the heat when it is, and just normal day-to-day-things are keeping us busy!  Keeping up with a toddler who has a never ending source of energy (the secret to which he has yet to share with me) wears me out pretty good and by the time his naptime rolls around and I eat lunch and get the household things done I can do done I want to veg out on the couch or the deck (if it's not face-of-the-sun-hot out) with a book, which is what I have happily been doing.

And oh yeah, add to the long list of things in/around our house which are either broken or in the process of breaking, my camera bit the dust.  I have a thrilling rant to post about that if anyone would like to hear it (probably not.), but I guess we will be investing a nice chunk of change in another one that will work for a few years and then die because that's what things do now.  ANYWAY.

Here's what Little Man has been up to the last month or so. 

He's learned how to kick a ball!  He's always really loved playing ball, but he has now figured out he can kick it with his foot.  It's super cute to see him do it because he kind of walks along with the ball picking his leg up really high to do these exaggerated kicks!

He's a busy little boy and into everything!  He spends all day just going from one thing to another.  It may look disorganized or random to an outsider, but he's clearly on some sort of mission that the rest of us just don't know about yet!  He moves about with a purpose and is very serious about all the things he must get done in a day like pull out every book he owns, scatter his toys about the room, dance in the window, and play with the dog.  These are his duties and he takes them very seriously!

Something else he loves to do is sit in his little chair.  It's one of the first things he drags out in the morning and it makes its way around the room throughout the day.  Often, he sits it in front of the window and spends time looking out side like a little old man keeping an eye on things!

And sometimes he likes to sit and read his books to himself.  I'm sure he knows what he's saying even if we don't!

And of course his chair also ends up in front of the TV too.

Jack is doing really well with eating.  Berries (especially blueberries) and grapes are definitely his favorites.  We have to hold off on giving them to him until he has eaten other things otherwise that's all he would eat!

I hesitate to type this out because I'll probably jinx us (and if it does, I'm never commenting on his sleep patterns again!), but Jack's sleep has vastly improved this month from what we were seeing last month.  He's back to sleeping about 12 hours every night.  He usually goes to bed between 8 and 9pm and wakes around 8am.  Of course the exception to that is on days when we have somewhere to be, it seems like the has a sixth sense about these things, he will sleep inordinately late.  The next day, back to 8am wake ups!  But I'll take it!  Predictable sleep in 12 hour increments?  I don't think I can really ask for more than that!

When I go to check on him before Mark and I go to bed for the night I often find him in some pretty funny positions.  This is a recent one:

 And he's still napping well.  He's still taking one nap a day usually from about 1-4pm. 

Jack really enjoys being outside.  He loves to ride in the stroller on walks and run around the backyard.  I picked up a toddler swing at a consignment sale back in the Spring (when it was still cold out!) and Mark got around to hanging it from one of the trees in our backyard.  Jack loves it!

We took Jack to see his first parade on July 4th.  He's been really into cars/trucks lately especially fire trucks.  He even makes a "woo woo" sound like the sirens!  He does this a lot.  Sometimes we hear him making the siren sound over the baby monitor right after he first wakes up in the morning.  So we thought he'd enjoy the parade and seeing the firetrucks.  When we first got there he was not happy.  He was definitely kind of scared and I don't really blame him.  It's kind of odd that everyone is just standing around on the street and big vehicles are going past and it's noisy.  But after bit he warmed up to the whole thing (as long as we held him of course).  Unfortunately the fire trucks were at the front of the parade while he was still scared.  Maybe he'll enjoy it more next year!

We were on our way home at the same time they were setting off the local fireworks so we stopped to watch (even though it was late and past Jack's bedtime!).  Jack seemed to enjoy them.  He was tired, of course, but he did watch the sky pretty intently and pointed at a few of them and laughed when I "ooh"ed and "ahhh"ed.

And here's a random silly shot of Jack underneath the laundry basket.  He pulled it out from one of the bedrooms after I had emptied it and then somehow proceeded to flip it over and put himself underneath it.  And then he scooted around like that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 10th

 Sunday:  Out

Monday:  Parmesan Tilapia with Roasted Cauliflower

Tuesday:  Cobb Salad Sandwiches with Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Wednesday:  Chili Cheese Dogs with French Fries and Green Beans

Thursday:  Chipotle Bean Burritos with Chips and Pico de Gallo

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday:  Ribs with Classic Mac & Cheese and Sweet Corn Bread Muffins - carried over from last week

I'm linked at

Monday, July 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 3rd

Sunday:  Dinner at Mark's mom's house to celebrate our birthday!

Monday:  Dinner at my parent's house to celebrate our birthday!

Tuesday:  Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos with Mexican Rice and 'Refried' Beans - carried over from last week

Wednesday:  Tomato Pie with Salad - I don't think Mark's going to be on board with this one.  Don't worry, I'm making it up to him the rest of the week with good food he likes, but I'm sure he'll be having something else.  Maybe some sausage on the grill?

Thursday:  Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches with Twice-Baked Potatoes

Friday:  Leftovers/Take Out

Saturday:  Ribs with Classic Mac & Cheese and Sweet Corn Bread Muffins

I'm linked at