May 16, 2013

Cloth Diapers: Going Simple

photo credit Diaper Junction

If you are interested in cloth diapers because you want to save money above all other reasons, then think prefolds. Prefolds are pretty much the least expensive way to cloth diaper ($1-2 per diaper + a few covers that start around $11 each). Though you will need a couple of sizes to cover your baby from birth to potty training, you can still get everything you need to diaper your child for 3+ years for less than a couple of packages of disposables. If you are only cloth diapering part time, this is still a great option to save $$, too.

So what do you need?

1. Prefold Diapers - before I started cloth diapering, I knew these as burp cloths, but really they are the 'old school' diapers you see on baby posters. Some good options are Thirsties Cloth Diapers -hemp prefolds, or the very inexpensive but effective Indian Prefolds.  For full time diapering you probably need 20-30 of these, depending on how often your baby 'goes' and how often you want to do laundry.

photo credit Diaper Junction
2. Diaper Covers - Thirsties Diapers makes two great options - either a sized cover, or the Duo Wrap, where two sizes will cover your baby's diapering lifetime. There are lots of cute patterns and options out there to choose from, so check out Blueberry and can be very inexpensive, like Econobum,  For full time diapering at home you probably need 3-5 of these in each size, depending on how often you do laundry, or how often baby poops. Covers can be reused several times between pee diapers, but need to be washed after poop gets on them.

3. Snappi (optional) - the snappi replaces the need for pins in this 'old fashioned' way of diapering. It works like the gripper on an Ace bandage to hold together your folded diaper. I say this is optional, because I often forgo the snappi and fold the diaper Angel Wing style and just lay or tuck it into the cover. You probably only need one or two of these for full time diapering.

THAT'S IT. That is really all you need.
... Of course it is easy to go crazy with a collection of covers, and maybe you will get a few accessories (like a wetbag for storing dirty diapers, detergent specific for cloth diapers, cloth diaper safe diaper cream, to name a few)

I admit that I don't send these to daycare (I am so grateful that our teachers are willing to cloth diaper, that I want to minimize any potential intimidation), but I frequently turn to these myself at home. They take up very little space when packing the diaper back for a whole day out - and we seem to always have some handy. That big stack of burp cloths? Those can double as a diaper in a pinch, too (after all, that's what they really are...).


May 13, 2013

One Hot Mama Challenge - Month 1 Week 4

Week 4: New Normalcy

Also I am sort of ignoring the fact that I have 1.5 weeks left of being home with my baby on our own little time schedule. I need to get cracking on a little mommy makeover and jump back into the real working world!

My workout schedule for all three months!
Hubby and I still haven't had our date night, but I know its because I am not ready to leave my new baby with a sitter. I think as we get closer to her starting daycare, I want to practice with her taking a bottle, so I'll make this my homework to schedule a date and kill two birds with one stone... or rather make an excuse to take care of myself (and my awesome husband)...

This section of the book talks a lot about cementing routines (y'know the NEW/revised ones), and now this really is key for me. I'll have to be out the door, and at work at a reasonable time, so we'll have much less flexibility on weekdays. Now is the time to practice!

I've been getting up at a 'real' time and trying to get dressed and made up (I still can't bring myself to dry my hair...) before the kids are up (Baby Sister is getting more predictable). Then hubby and I tag-team preparing breakfast and getting the kids dressed in whatever way is needed so we can all have breakfast together before we head out to school/work.

We are still packing lunches and school/work bags at night after the kids' bedtime routines, during after-dinner cleanup. This is the time we get to catch up with each other on our own days and plans and dreams (the deeper stuff that's not really needed to be discussed in front of M) and even enjoy a beer or glass of wine. After that is done we can settle in with a TV show (we got rid of cable around the time M was born because we didn't really have time for it anymore! And I don't miss it one bit! ...Except for ExerciseTV...).

Another routine I am nervous about it preparing dinner. When I worked, hubby was on pick-up-from-school duty, and I would head home to start dinner. It was usually done 15 minutes or so after they got home. Since I've been on my maternity leave, I've had it ready and waiting when they walked in (which has really helped stave off the "I need a snack" requests). Hopefully we can still go back to the old routine with few hiccups.

Lastly, I seemed to have lost the time to snack since I've been home. Or maybe I've just been confined to the choices at the house (rather than the admin's candy dish!) so I feel like I've stuck to the foods I really want to eat. Hopefully this has conditioned me to be resistant out in the real world. Fingers crossed!!

****Question: What is the biggest change you noticed between your new normal, and your old normal? How are you making it work for you? ****

Check out some of the Freebies from Erin's website (especially the "Revive your Mama Mojo" checklist)

Find the other One Hot Mama posts here.


May 9, 2013

One Hot Mama Challenge, Month 1 Week 3

Week 3: No Comparison

Two pounds lost this month! Admittedly, I'd love to see faster progress, especially since I anticipate having even less time to work out in the coming weeks as I go back to work, but I need to celebrate me, right?! I am right on the edge of really wanting to compare myself to 'regular' people... those who are further past giving birth than I am (or those who have never given birth!). I was so supportive of friends who recently had babies, but were struggling (or coming to terms with) their post-baby weight, but now I was having to actually hear my own words. And it really is tough.

It is true: it took 9 months to put this weight on, I should expect to take 9 months for it to come off. And realistically, I expect to keep a few extra pounds around while I am breastfeeding (which I hope to be lucky enough to do for a while... tradeoff!). I love that at the end of this month is when Erin points out that I might notice a change in my fitness (I do!) and only now should I really start watching my measurements (ie. the scale!!). So: deep breath. It's ok. I am doing well.

I officially finished my 10-class Stroller Strides pass, which really have given me back my confidence in working out. I felt so uncoordinated - like a liar when I said I like working out and that I used to run and be a rower. But this last week, I feel like I am getting it back. So to stay motivated, I started using that free 'Couch to 5k' app I mentioned earlier... and I am actively searching for a race to run when I complete it!

Chugging along...

*** Question: Take some time to brag here - What ways are you awesome! What accomplishments/talents are you most proud of? ***

Find the other One Hot Mama posts here.

May 8, 2013

One Hot Mama Challenge - Month 1 Week 2

Month 1, Week 2: Money Talks
toddler's version of our 'gulf fish in papillote'

We decided to keep M in preschool during my maternity leave. Well actually, it was more a given between us - we never considered not keeping him there. Even though I am only partially paid for some of my time off (we can cover this hot topic later...) I wanted to give Baby Sister my full attention, realistically be able to take naps if I need them, and really take the time to go to things like a lactation group and Mommy and Me Yoga. We were fortunate enough to have some savings to help us keep covering the cost of daycare (and the regular bills) during my time off.

This week's focus in One Hot Mama is coming to terms with your new budget, be it temporary or permanent, and all the ways this might come into play.

Of course, when you aren't working, you're pretty much spending money (why does it seem there is no middle ground?) So, I wanted to get a good jogging stroller, a key to making a work out, and even just getting out of the house, more realistic. But I couldn't come to terms with a $600 price tag, especially when we already had strollers that technically worked just fine for their purpose. So I found the one I wanted gently used on Craigslist and saved half.

I mentioned my weekly meal planning before in regards to saving my sanity and time during the week, but it helps in the $$ department, too! Having a plan for our groceries keeps wasted food to a minimum. I find that meat is the priciest item in our food budget, so planning at least one meatless meal per week helps here. Also I can plan to split meat between meals, like using half a rotisserie chicken for Monday's meal, and the other half later in the week, or buying a bulk package of ground beef, etc. and doing the same. Feel free to look at some of my weekly menus by clicking on the recipe key word on the side.

If a class at the gym or a Stroller Strides group isn't in your budget, you can still get some good, regimented fitness. The book gives a suggested workout schedule for a full three months, that allows you the flexibility to choose what you like to do (for example, one day's prescription is '30 min walk, 20 min jog, or cardio class at the gym'). I downloaded a Free 'Couch to 5k' app on my phone that gives me three walk-to-run workouts per week, and even gives audio cues on when to start/stop running, and can incorporate music from my own phone. Additionally, Erin's book gives some great strength and yoga routine ideas. I even started to dig up my old workout DVDs that I haven't seen in a year!!

Some of my favorites:
Yoga for Surfers, Peggy Hall
Postnatal Rescue, Erin O'Brien (has some gentle stretches you can do as soon as you get home from the hospital)
The Biggest Winner series, Jillian Michaels
Yogini Workout, Ellen Barrett

Erin gives some other examples of what she thinks are worth splurging for - and how you can set a goal to get the cash for them.

Erin is graciously giving away a *FREE* signed copy of her book - for a chance to win it, answer this question -

*** Question: What ways have you made room in your budget for your new addition? ***

Find the other One Hot Mama posts here.


May 7, 2013

One Hot Mama Challenge - Month 1, Week 1

Our first run with Stroller Strides!
So tracking weekly may have been a bit ambitious... but here it (finally) is...

Wow - where to start? So in the book, each week has a theme, but covers a variety of topics. Since this is meant to be read a week at a time, its helpful to keep being reminded of all the balls that are up in the air, and the nuances that emerge as you move through this fourth trimester.

So the themes for Month 1 are
Week 1: Putting yourself first.
Week 2: Money talks
Week 3: No Comparison
Week 4: New Normalcy

Putting yourself first covers a lot of aspects. I have already mentioned that I am also a fan of The Baby Whisperer, and I love her E.A.S.Y. plan that let's me know that I do get some me (You) time in the day. Granted, I tend to use this time to udpate the family blog and get things done around the house (there is always so much laundry - and sorting out the Pregnancy Disability and daycare paperwork! ... and somehow dishes and grocery shopping has slipped into my day, too... who did these things when I was at work before?), but I am also committing now to doing at least something to nourish ME during these breaks. I like working on this blog (and our family blog), so that counts. As does taking a shower, and getting a workout in, or going to a mommy group. I was actually scheduling in these activities and looking forward to them long before my maternity leave - and I am having so much fun with them, I am already sad about having to give them up when I return to work. To be honest, my biggest challenge will be to keep all these elements incorporated into my life when I DO return to work!
trail running with Stroller Strides!

I have started slipping in a milestone I was pretty proud of: daily showers!! Pretty much by my daughter's second week home, I had gotten into a grove of showering and getting dressed, so I didn't look like a schlub when I dropped off my son at daycare. I know they don't really care what I look like - and that they probably expected to see me in pajamas, but it was probably the most public I'd be all day, so it was a good goal. And if I didn't do it then, I wouldn't do it at all. But once I got the go ahead at my six week visit, I started going to a Stroller Strides class MWF. It was at 9:30, so I wasn't going to shower before the class. I put on my workout clothes (luckily they are stretchy - so they still fit) and took M on into school. And since I did shower after class (usually sometime around lunch), I didn't feel like I needed another shower the next morning...
So, here I am at the end of my 10-week Plum District deal for Stroller Strides, so I am free again to shower as I please. And I'd better get to it, since the countdown for my return to work is getting low. I decided I still need a motivator to keep exercising, so I downloaded a free 'Couch to 5k' app (my completed workouts are going out on twitter!!), and started day one (in the afternoon of the hottest day of the year so far!!). Even though I only had to run for 60 seconds at a time, it felt great!! And its so refreshing to have it feel great. So today I got up when my husband did, and showered and dressed and put on makeup (I still can't bring myself to 'do' my hair... it's been 3 months... I hope I haven't forgotten what little I know about it...)
meal planning - sharing with the toddler!

Another way I can take care of myself is eating well. So I took Erin's advice and finally pitched my security stash of Christmas/Halloween/Valentines/Easter candy (really it was M's and we were hiding it from him... but it was easy to break into at a time of weakness.
I have also been trying to keep making healthy meals for the family. Click the 'recipe' keyword on the side of the blog to our weekly recipes. I have been meal planning for years (I really don't remember NOT doing this... how else do I know what to get at the grocery store? And I refuse to do more than one trip per week...)

Also, I've already had to go solo with both kiddos twice this month... which has really reinforced the need to keep up with our routines.

Giveaway! Answer the question below for a chance to win your own copy of Erin Cox's Book One Hot Mama!

***Question: How do make time for yourself? And what do you do with this special time? ***

Find the other One Hot Mama posts here.


May 2, 2013

This week's recipes!

Thursday's lunch:
Slow cooker pork Cuban Sandwichn on whole wheat,
cherry tomato halves,
blueberries and blackberries
Here are our recipes from this week!! As always, we included a fish dish and one meatless dish. We all take dinner leftovers from lunch the next day (makes clean up/lunch-packing efficient!).

I have to admit, I was even surprised how filling our meatless baked potatoes turned out to be!!

Easy Chicken Curry - this one we had actually planned to make last week, but let our laziness convince us to order a pizza. This is a new recipe, and Hubby was skeptical. So When we finally made it this week, he was kicking himself for voting pizza before...

Shrimp and Cannellini Beans (with asparagus and toast) - This recipe is SO ridiculously easy and makes your kitchen smell SO yummy! We pair it with a veggie, and some extra carbs (sprouted wheat toast + butter).

Friday's Toddler Lunch:
Baked sweet potato + mozzarella, strawberry,
shelled edamame, orange slices,
and yogurt pretzels

Cuban sandwiches (with Crockpot pork loin). I got this recipe from magazine, but couldn't find a link for it online. For the pork loin, cook tenderloin, onion soup mix, 1c water, 3/4c red wine, 3 tbsp garlic, 3 tbsp soy sauce, on low for 4 hrs in a Crock Pot. We shredded it and used half to make sandwiches. We toasted split, wheat ciabatta rolls, and topped with pork, provolone, deli ham, and dill pickle slices. We served with a side of steamed broccoli.

Sweet potatoes, mozzarella and edamame - really, this is all we ate for our meatless meal. Super quick: microwave some potatoes (M and I had sweet potatoes, hubby went for a regular russet). Cut open and apply a smidge of butter. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese. Serve with shelled edamame. Very filling. Nutritional bases covered. :)

Pork tacos - (see the Cuban sandwich recipe for how we made the shredded pork). Stir in 2 tbsp BBQ sauce with 1 cup of the shredded pork. top a corn tortilla with meat and 1/4 c bagged coleslaw + 1tbsp greek yogurt.

Grilled Pizza - We use store-bought whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's. I shop there about once a month, so I stock up on a few for the freezer when we are low, but we have also found it at many 'regular' grocery stores. You may have to ask where they keep it (sometimes its in the freezer section). Then we skip to Alton Brown's recipe for margherita pizza (about halfway down this lengthy recipe). We omit the red pepper... and usually the garlic (but only because we forget it since this is easy enough to do from memory).