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A Fresh New Start

I’m settling in to the new house.  It’s such a wonderful change from living in an apartment!  A fenced in yard for my son to run around, no worrying about crying children bothering the neighbors, having a front porch to decorate, and having a garage are things that will feel novel for quite a while, I’m sure.

We’ve been positively gorging ourselves on the outdoors.  Play time?  Take it outside.  Time to check my email? Do it on my phone, while sitting on the front porch.  Need to exercise?  Forget pilates – I have a garden that needs weeding! Speaking of gardening, I’ve been surprised to discover that I truly enjoy it!  I’ve always enjoyed the results of gardening, of course – who doesn’t love a beautiful, well tended Eden? But my experiences with gardening tended to involve blazing heat, a time limit, and someone standing over me, telling me what to do.  It’s so different when it’s my own yard.  I put on music and a lovely hat, and simply enjoy being outside.  I can take breaks when I want to, I don’t have to push myself, and, of course, I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor!  Having only been here a week, all I’ve done is simple things like pruning and weeding, as I’m still a novice, but you can already see an improvement.

I have so much to learn though – there’s a gorgeous rosebush in the yard, but all the roses on it are sick – I suspect an insect infestation?  I’ve been pruning and dead-heading, but I’ll have to contact an expert to do more.

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So, after a couple of hours cruising around the neighborhoods we were looking at, a wonderful talk with our real estate agent, and an initially positive call with the loan broker, all our plans came to a crashing halt.  

We have no credit.

This has happened to us before.  We got loans, got credit cards, and worked to build credit.  But we canceled the card just over a year ago, and apparently credit has a “use by” date. We’ll still be talking to a couple of people, but chances are, we won’t be able to buy a house for at least another year.

I hate that we’re being punished for making financially sound decisions. After all, we’re young, married college students with zero debt!  How rare is that?  But we haven’t played the game, so we don’t get a house.

I’m also frustrated at the idea of moving back into an apartment. Noisy neighbors, no parking, can’t paint or change anything… and only a year, so no chance to really settle in and make friends.

I guess that’s the worst.  I’m SO READY to put down roots.  For the last six years, I’ve moved from place to place, never sure how long I would stay, scared to make friends or really settle in.  I want to feel comfortable in my own space.

Scary Things

So, in the past couple of weeks, we’ve decided to A: move up closer to my husband’s work (two hours of driving a day is killing him), and B: buy a house.

Frankly, I’m terrified.

I love living with my parents.  With my depression and anxiety, it’s made things so much easier to know that if I have a total breakdown, there’s someone here to take care of JJ.  I love helping my mom cook.  I love watching my husband play video games with my younger brothers.  I love watching my dad’s face when his grandson gets excited to see him come home.

But all good things must come to an end, I guess.  We moved here I was so sick during my pregnancy that my husband was scared to leave me alone, and then stayed because we knew the chances of me getting Post Partum Depression were very, very high and we wanted a safety net.  I’m not pregnant any more, and my depression is under control.  My son turns a year old in a few weeks, and I’m doing so much better.

But buying a house?  That’s scary enough to send me right back into the arms of panic.

What kind of house will we be able to afford?  My husband works in a very expensive part of town, and a dollar doesn’t go as far up there as it does down here.  Do we have enough savings for a down payment?  Closing cost?  What if we buy the house and then find problems?  We’ve never done any kind of renovations before, and frankly have no desire to – but we don’t have the money to buy a shiny new house.

I’ve managed to come up with a list of “Needs, Wants, and Perks”, but the “wants” list looks to long compared to the prices we’d be able to afford.

We’re meeting with a family friend today who is a real estate agent.  Hopefully, she’ll have answers to our questions.

 

Why I Nurse to Sleep.

Nursing to sleep is pretty much the worst thing you can do to your children.  It will suck away your free time, make your children clingy, mean you can never leave them alone, encourage *gasp* cosleeping, and of course… they will never. ever.  ever.  be able to fall asleep without a nipple in their mouths.   If you do it now, you’re setting yourself up for months of tantrums, sleepless nights, and tears down the line.

At least according to parenting books.  Sleep gurus.  And every website known to man.

It’s common, conventional wisdom.  The only people who nurse to sleep are those who fall into “accidental” parenting, otherwise known as “I’ll do anything to get this baby to sleep so I can sleep for more than 45 minutes”, and they always, always regret it down the line.

And so I spent nearly five months refusing to nurse my son to sleep.  I’ll not go into the sleep deprivation and desperation I felt.  Naps?  What naps?  My son cried himself to sleep on nearly a daily basis.  I hated nursing him for comfort, because he would always fall asleep, and then I had to wake him up.  So when we had tried everything else, we would swaddle him and put him in the swing with white noise playing.  Usually, after about twenty minutes of fussing, he would fall asleep, stay asleep for half an hour, wake up, and we would start the whole process again.  He was miserable, we were miserable, but at least we weren’t nursing him to sleep!

I refused to listen to my mother when she suggested nursing to sleep.  After all, what did she know?  Back then, a parents only options were Nursing To Sleep and Crying It Out.  What could she know that the  No Cry Sleep Solution, the Baby Whisperer, and the Sleep Lady not? Times have moved on!  It was possible to get any child to sleep without nursing OR resorting to cry it out.  I knew that for a fact.  I just had to work harder, try one more system…

And so the drama continued.  Our nursing relationship suffered, because I was forever pulling the nipple out of his mouth as soon as he closed his eyes.  I couldn’t get anything done all day because I was crashing on the couch for those few precious minutes he WAS asleep. And when we were away from home and the swing… well, the less said the better.

Finally, about a week ago, as I was reading one of the many “sleep aide” books, I had an epiphany:

Every baby uses sleep aides.

This book went from saying how terrible it was to nurse to sleep to informing me it was vital that the baby ALWAYS sleep in the same bed, in a darkened room, with an established “settle down” routine before hand (such as a lullaby, a cuddle, and a bath at night).  This routine and system were vital “sleep cues”, telling baby it’s sleepy time.

How was this any different from nursing?  Didn’t all these things limit THOSE parents as well?

I realized it’s about what works for YOUR family, right now.

For a working mother who has to leave her child with another caretaker a large amount of time, I can easily see how such a scenario would be best: it doesn’t matter if it’s Mommy, Daddy, or Nanny, the baby knows it’s time to sleep.

But I’m out of the house several days a week.  And I bring my baby with me.  I’m blessed to be in a position where times when someone else is caring for my child are few and far between.  Frankly speaking, the number of times JJ needs to sleep away from home with me far outnumber the number of times he needs to sleep at home without me.

And so about a week ago, when JJ started rubbing his eyes, I took him to the bedroom, swaddled him, and nursed.  He was asleep in four minutes.  After 15 he was asleep deeply enough for me to unlatch him and put him in the bassinet.  He slept and unprecedented hour and 45 minutes, woke up happy and smiling, and I got a mound of housework done.

I LOVE our new system.  I’m not afraid to nurse him for comfort any more; if he falls asleep, great!  When we leave the house, it’s easy to pack a a+a blanket to swaddle him with, and I have a white noise app on my phone to drown out any distractions.  I find I enjoy the quiet time, laying down next to him, forced away from housework and laptop and iPhone.

And when Darling Husband comes to get me because he can’t get the baby to sleep, I smile and gently shove any resentment away.  Because yes, it’s inconvenient sometimes.  But it’s an inconvenience I choose, one I can live with, one that fits MY family RIGHT NOW.

Will we have a huge struggle down the line?

Maybe.

But I’m tired of struggling more NOW.  I want to enjoy my son.  And it’s much easier to do when we’ve all had enough sleep.

Should everyone nurse to sleep?  No way!  I can see how it would be incredibly difficult and handicapping for many families. But for me, for my baby, it’s perfect.

The Simple Life

 

I’ve been reading a lot on minimalism lately. and the concept really appeals to me.  I’m a natural pack rat, from a long line of pack rats.  Of course, none of us are “Hoarders” worthy, but clutter has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember (to my father’s frustration).

Still though, lately I’ve been more and more drawn to the streamlined movements – a smaller house, but with all the features you dream of, a simple wardrobe of high quality clothes that will last for years, cutting back on the “junk” that fills up every day.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading – there are some great minimalist blogs out there.

One thing I want to clarify:  I am not, and never will, be a part of the “Own only 100 items movement”.  To me, the stress of getting rid of all your stuff, of not having the things you need, defeats the purpose of minimalism, which is to make your life more enriching by removing the things that suck time, money and energy from you without giving anything back.

Fewer belongings means less cleaning.

Fewer commitments means more time with family.

Less clutter means a greater sense of peace and wellbeing.

Buying something once, rather than having to replace it every few months/years means  you can get better quality.

 

I’ve been trying to be more “green” for a while now, and while in many ways they overlap, there are a few goals I’ve given up because they became too much of a hassle.  Like washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar – frugal, natural, and healthy, a lot of people love it.  To me, there were simply too many steps – mixing the baking soda, diluting the vinegar, the weekly clarifying treatments that our hard water requires… and of course, the long process of finding the exact ratios and schedules necessary for my hair.  I really wanted to make it work, but never managed to.

So, back to Garnier Fructis I go.  My hair is happier, showers aren’t stressful anymore, and if I’m using more chemicals than is strictly ‘healthy’, well I’ve cut back in a lot of other ways.

I love making my own cleaning supplies – an empty spray bottle with diluted vinegar (for disinfecting) and a paste made from baking soda and water (for scrubbing) clean pretty much everything.   Cleaning supplies have always given me headaches, and I find the vinegar smell dissipates much faster.

I’ve never been much of a makeup user, and while I kept a few basics around (mascara, blush, lipgloss) for when I really want to dress up, I threw out all the stuff I was keeping around (and having to replace every year or so) in an attempt to start using it.  Once I stopped all the fancy “acne cleansers” and treatments, and switched to just water and a washcloth (and a mild cold cream when I do wear make up), my skin cleared up dramatically – but more importantly, I slowly cared less.

As strange as it sounds, I spend far less time on my hair now that it’s tailbone length than when it was shoulder length.  The only products I use are shampoo and conditioner, I never blowdry, and putting my hair up in any one of several cute, intricate looking styles held with a single hair stick takes far less time than “styling” ever did.

 

I’m working on my wardrobe right now – I’ve planned out what I want, and I’m working on getting rid of what’s not on the list, and replacing the things I have with much higher quality items.  It took a while (and a lot of reading) to figure out a style that was simple, comfortable, and still looked nice.  So many of the ‘recommended’ wardrobes online are for working women, and the ones for stay at home moms didn’t have the clothes I needed for church.  So I started paying attention to what I really wear, and came up with this:

10 nice fitted tees

3 blouses

4 pairs of pants (2 well fitting jeans, 2 capris for summer)

4 skirts (2 knee length, 2 ankle length)

5 dresses for church.

Plus some assorted cardigans, sweaters, etc.  Maybe it’s too small, but if it ends up being so, it’s easy to add one more skirt or something.  I’m also working on getting all my colors to coordinate – I favor (and look best in) greens, blues and purples, so a wardrobe made up of those colors both makes me happy, and makes getting dressed in the morning easy (when I don’t have to match things).

 

My shoe wardrobe is also getting an overhaul (or will, once I have this baby and we find out whether I grew a shoe size or not).  I spent my whole life in $20 shoes that had to be replaced every four months, and thought myself “thrifty”.  I had back pain, sore feet, and a box overflowing with shoes I “might need” that weren’t in good condition.  I finally gave in to my husband and grandfather (both of whom believe in spending good money on shoes) and, with a little reading to figure out a brand that was good quality and comfortable, I got a pair of brown leather naturalizer sandals for my birthday this past spring.

They are SO COMFORTABLE.  I have worn them every day since (at least until the last couple weeks, when it started getting too cold for sandals), and while they were $80, eight months after purchase, they still look brand new.

I plan on getting two good pairs of boots (one black, one brown) for the winter, a quality pair of tennis shoes, and a single pair of NICE black heels.  With my brown sandals and a pair of crocs for days at the river, I really don’t need anything else.  And, with care, they’ll last years.

 

What have you done to streamline your life?  Do you believe in “Living with less, but only the best”?

 

Maternity Clothes!

I had a blast last saturday, shopping with three of my wonderful Sister In Laws.  I have maternity clothes now!  At 25 weeks, I was living in a single elastic skirt and loose tshirts.  My maternity wardrobe now consists of “sexy” (to quote my SILs!) jeans, two skirts, a dress, three tees and two blouses.

Nobody told me how COMFORTABLE maternity clothes are!  Seriously, I’ve always had to buy the super low rise jeans because I hate having anything cut into my stomach.  This whole elastic waistband thing?  You’re gonna have trouble getting me to go back to regular jeans!

The main purpose of our shopping trip was finding clothes for the family pictures we’re taking this Christmas.  Do you know how hard it was to find a simple black men’s sweater?  We finally had to have one of the stores call their sister store and reserve one – thanks to my wonderful SIL who will be picking it up for us!

 

Oh!  And I’m playing around with the blog, figuring out how to do stuff, tweaking it, etc.  Check out my links!  Yay!

Cloth Diapers, Part 2

Several types of cloth diapers require a cover – flats, prefolds and fitteds.  What is a cover?

A cover is a waterproof (or water resistant) fabric piece separate from the diaper.  You need far fewer covers than you do diapers – somewhere between 4-10, depending on the baby’s age (newborns poop more often than toddlers), the type of diaper underneath the cover (a trifolded prefold will require more covers than a fitted diaper), the type of cover, and how often you wash.

Usually, with each diaper change you put on a new cover, leaving the old one to air out.  Covers may get re-used until they get poop on them, or start to smell like urine.  Covers generally come in three fabrics (PUL, fleece, and wool) and two styles (wrap style or pull up style).

PUL: Polyurethane laminate is basically fabric on one side, laminated on the other.  It’s completely waterproof, comes in many colors and prints, and is inexpensive.  Some babies get a diaper rash using PUL, since it doesn’t breathe.  Can be washed with the diapers.  Some companies say air dry PUL covers, some say throw them in the dryer.  Read your washing instructions.

WOOL:  Wool has many benefits – it is initially waterproof, but if pressed, will absorb liquid, making it a favorite for overnights.  It is completely breathable, doesn’t get clammy when wet, is cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and, so long as poop doesn’t get on it, only needs to be washed a couple of times a month.  However, it is more expensive per cover, and requires handwashing with a special wool wash.

FLEECE:  More breathable than PUL, but can still be washed with the diapers.  Can be prone to compression leaks, if the diaper underneath is saturated.

PULL UP STYLE:  Old fashion “plastic pants” style.  Incredibly inexpensive (you can buy two dappi pull ups for $5), and the trimmest diaper cover possible (in PUL).  Not very popular right now, but still has many die hard advocates.  Wool and fleece covers usually come in a pull up style (called a ‘soaker’), and can be quite thick and bulky.  Pull up covers (regardless of the material) are usually “bulletproof” – even if the diaper underneath somehow leaks, the pull up cover will contain it.  However, this can be messy when removing the cover.  Many mamas enjoy knitting their own wool soakers for much cheaper than buying them – several patterns are available online, and any yarn can be used as long as it it at least 70% wool (and not “superwash”).

WRAP STYLE: Wrap style are put on like a disposable, with either snaps or velcro, sized or one size.  You can get them in all three materials.  PUL covers come in two styles: wipe clean, where the laminate is bare, or covered, where the PUL is sandwiched between fabric.  Some mamas like being able to re-use a wipeable cover more times (therefore needing fewer covers) others don’t want to risk the laminate touching their babies skin.  Either works fine.

There’s a growing amount of one-size diaper covers.  Some love that they can use the cover for longer, others would rather have a trimmer option.

PUL and fleece covers usually run from $10-20, but you need more of them.  Wool will be $25-35, but you’ll only need a few.  One can be tossed in the wash daily, the other requires monthly handwashing.  Which do you prefer?

Wrap-style PUL (wipeable): http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/thirsties.htm

Wrap-style PUL (fabric inner) : http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/bummis.htm

Pull up PUL: http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/bummis_whisper_pant.htm

Wool Wrap: http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/little_beetle_wool.htm

Wool Soaker: http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/disana.htm

Wrap-style fleece: http://www.nickisdiapers.com/organic-caboose-eco-fleece-diaper-cover.html

 

There is also something called a “hybrid diaper” – a reusable cover, with a disposable insert.  Three brands are available: gDiapers, the Flip system, and Grovia.  The nice thing about hybrids is that you have the option to do either cloth or disposable – lotsa people use cloth at home, and use disposable inserts when traveling.  Some use disposable inserts full time (supposedly they’re better for the environment than straight up disposable diapers), but keep in mind that full time disposable use isn’t any cheaper than traditional disposable diapers on sale.

Personally, we’ll be using gDiapers with padfolded flats most of the time, and have a couple of packages of disposable inserts for the early days and if we go out long enough that cloth would be a hassle.  We were originally going to use flips, but the company is currently engaging in business practices I can’t support – we might switch if those practices change.

A fantastic blog post on gdiapers: http://www.joyfulabode.com/2010/09/23/gwhiz-gdiapers-101-why-im-a-gmum/

The flip system: http://www.cottonbabies.com/product_info.php?cPath=139&products_id=2220

Grovia: https://www.gro-via.com/hybrid/grovia-shell-snap-closure.html

 

Next time:  Cloth diaper accessories (snappis, wet bags, cloth wipes) and a basic washing routine.

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