Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monkey Boy

Normally I avoid posting any videos featuring my voice, because I sound like a total dork. But I decided that sharing the cuteness of Conan's animal noise repertoire is worth a little self-embarrassment.

Conan's monkey impression is the only thing that could possibly be cuter than his lion roar. Ever.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cloth Diaper Confessions

A nearly too small cloth diaper on my little monkey
I was super excited about using cloth diapers on Conan. I had a great time reading cloth diapering forums on the internet, doing research on different styles and materials and laundry strategies. I bought some to try out the professional offerings in a few different styles. I busted out and sewed up dozens of adorable pocket diapers, using all my newfound knowledge and all the best features. I made diapers from space-age fabric (soft! waterproof!) using only polyester thread (won't wick!) with gussets (won't leak!) and FOE (won't chafe!) and special diaper velcro (won't scratch!) I ordered online. I even made teensy weensy newborn sized ones with a curved dip in the front so they wouldn't rub on the umbilical while it healed.

I was into it. We were going to save money, save the evironement, and have the comfiest, happiest baby around. We had a waterproof bag for wet diapers in the diaper bag, and lots of cloth baby wipes. We had a diaper pail with a lid and a removable bucket, and extra gentle baby laundry soap, and Biokleen Bac-Out for odor removal soaking.

And at first, it worked. Conan wore his teensy weensy newborn scoop diapers for a couple of weeks, and then grew out of them and into the next size up. So far so good. Both of us were home for the first couple of months, and my Mom came and stayed for a few weeks, so keeping up with the laundry was a snap.

Then at about 6 weeks we started going out more, and that's when the seduction of the disposable diapers really started. It was just SO much easier to have Conan in a disposable diaper when we were out and about. Hauling home a stinky bag of wet and/or poopy diapers sucked, no matter how nice a waterproof bag you have. But more than that, it's the frequency of the diaper changes that really did us in. Whith cloth diapers, even super-duper high-tech modern cloth diapers, you just can't go more than an hour or two without a change. Disposables, with their absorbant polymer gel, just really win on that count.

It may not sound like much, but the difference between taking your tiny baby grocery shopping and having to change him in the bathroom or the backseat vs. not having to change him again until you get home is HUGE. Pretty soon it was just the norm to put on a disposable before going out, period.

But we were still using the cloth diapers all the rest of the time, so that wasn't so bad, right?

Well, then we reached that baby intestinal milestone where they no longer poop EVERY SINGLE TIME they eat. WooO! And with that, it suddenly made a lot more sense to put him in a disposable diaper for bedtime. He'd still wake up every 3-4 hours, but that was just to eat. The last thing we wanted was any extra waking up due to feeling wet! With disposables, on average, we only needed one diaper change per night, which meant the other two or three wake-ups were just simple feedings, and we could do that in a sleepy stupor. No light, no fuss, just feed and back to bed. Ahhh.

Then came the 1-2 punch of going back to work. Not only did that mean a LOT less time for keeping up with the laundry, it was really just too much to ask our babysitting friends and relatives to use the cloth diapers.

We still use about 1 cloth diaper per day, in the evening, for that hour and a half or so between dinner and bathtime. I massage my eco-guilt about using disposables by buying the Seventh Generation Chlorine Free diapers. We use cloth wipes all the time, so that's another small reduction on our environmental impact. It's kind of the "change one lightbulb for the planet" approach. If everyone used one less disposable per day, that'd be a lot less diapers in the landfill!

I should mention that the cloth diapers themselves performed perfectly. We never had any trouble with odor or rashes or inordinate leakage (a certain number of leaks are inevitable, even with disposable diapers). No, cloth diapering didn't work out as well as I had hoped due to the realities of our lifestyle and the limitations of time and energy.

But you know what? It's OK. We did our best, we gave it a good shot. If we'd been able to get a diaper service, or been able to stay at home to parent, I think we would have stuck with it. I would encourage anyone considering it to give cloth diapering a try. I've passed on my diapers now down through a number of different friends to use on their babies, so that counts for something too. Right?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Garden Day

Today we put on our gardening gloves and really got a lot done. It felt so good to spend the whole day working in the dirt!
I got the front flower bed all weeded, edged, and topped with fresh topsoil mixed with compost. It looks amazing now. Conan helped by picking up handfuls of the topsoil and putting them back into the wheelbarrow as I worked to spread it all out. It was really cute, he was quite determined that he should put it all back.
I also cleaned up and mulched the bed by the front door. It really needed some work, and still needs some more plants. It's a tough spot - sunny in the winter, shady in the summer, and surprisingly dry because the eves overhang both edges. The rocks are part of a strip we put down (ok, I admit it - I didn't move any rocks myself) a couple months ago all the way around the house to keep the cats from using the dry area under the eves as a litter box. It's working wonderfully and looks great.

I planted a few pansy starts in this bed as well, but Conan helped by picking all the blossoms off the dark blue ones - you can't really tell in the picture, but that's what he's holding in his fist. For some reason he left the white pansy flowers alone. This was after he picked every blooming dandelion flower from the entire lawn, and brought them to me one by one. He's such a sweetie.

We also planted a row of raspberry starts that our neighbors kindly gave to us along the edge of the garden. We got the rototiller that Steve Ripp gave to us fired up and gave the garden a once-over as well. We'll need to add some compost, rake out the weeds, and till it once or twice more before we're ready to plant, but this feels like a great accomplishment.

Conan helped by dumping the dirt out of an old pot and wearing it around as a hat. He definitely needed a bath tonight!

Before we could till up the garden, I had to harvest all the overwintered crops. I got a bucket full of parsnips, a dozen or so small turnips, and a bonanza of spring bunching onions. It took me a full hour to wash, peel and trim all the parsnips and turnips, but they were delicious simply roasted in my largest baking dish. The onions were a bit of a conundrum - what do you do with an armload of green onions? We certainly couldn't use them up the way we usually use green onions, which is as more of a garnish than an ingredient. After thinking on it a while, I decided to make soup. It was easy and it turned out spectacularly, so I'll share the recipe here, in case you happen to have a garden full of overwintered green onions or shallots.

Spring Onion Soup
Clean and trim the onions. Bring 1 qt of vegetable or chicken broth to a boil. Chop the white and light green sections (I had about two cups) and add to the broth. Simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop about 4 cups of the onion greens and set aside. Let the cooked onions and broth cool slightly, then puree in the blender. Add 1/2 cup of yogurt and blend. Pour back into the soup pot. Return to a simmer. Add two tsp lemon juice, the chopped green onions, and a little water if needed. Cook until the green onions are tender, about 5 minutes, salt & pepper to taste, and serve. A little dollop of yogurt on top is a nice touch. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to hypnotize a toddler

This is how I cut Conan's finger and toenails - we sit down in front of the computer, clippers at the ready, and put on this video. He will then sit completely still and allow me to cut his nails while watchting the screen with rapt attention. As long as I don't actually cause him pain, he doesn't care one whit about what I'm doing with his hands and feet. No trying to get away, no trying to grab the clippers, just pure hypnotized muppet watching. It's perfect!

I think I may use this for his first haircut, too. His bangs are starting to get into his eyes, and the hair on the right side of his head is an inch or so longer than the left side. I'm a little nervous about going at my wiggly little guy with the clippers, but I think the muppets may be just the ticket.

Update: My haircut scheme worked perfectly! I put the highchair in front of the computer, gave him a bath and strapped him in. We played Mahna Mahna through about 6 times, and he barely wiggled at all. I'm not that great a barber, but other than the bangs being a bit too short Conan's first haircut turned out good.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Outside Fun

Conan is really enjoying the nice spring weather. He's very interested in birds, flowers, rocks, and puddles. Puddles, as everyone knows, are for stomping in.

He's also a connoisseur of rocks. It takes forever to walk to the mailbox (aka toddler death march) and not just because it's a long way. No, the biggest problem is that there are rocks all over the road, and Conan needs to pick up and inspect most of them.

He also constantly points out birds, saying "Birr! Birr!" whenever one flies by. It's extremely exciting when a whole flock flies by. We've been seeing large flocks of red-wing blackbirds (they sing so beautifully!), as well as Canada Geese moving through the area. They make Conan smile and clap his hands.

I picked up some ranunculus starts and put them in the planter by the front door a couple weeks ago. They suffered through a few hard frosts but are doing quite well, and now are blooming nicely. Conan is fascinated by the blossoms.

Today we had a great work day, we got all the mitigation plants ringed with bark, planted a couple of cedar tree starts, removed the sod from a strip by the garden where we're planning to put in some raspberries, and nearly got the front flower bed all weeded and edged. There's just about 5 feet left to do. It sure feels like spring! I have to keep reminding myself that it is really only early March. :)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Responsible Excitement

I ran in to an old friend a couple of weeks ago, and he asked me "So, done anything exciting lately?" So help me, the first thing that came to mind was that I'd just gotten the brakes done on my car. Woooo yeah! I told him so, and he offered up that the most exciting thing he'd done lately had been his taxes. We had a good laugh about how our definitions of "exciting" have changed since college. Sometimes I'm a little bothered by how boring and domestic my life is these days, but mostly I really enjoy it. And lately I've been on a real tear, taking care of responsibilities big and small, right and left, and thoroughly enjoying it, even if they do stretch the definition of exciting a bit. Here's a partial list of the exciting things I've recently done:

- gotten the heating system and hot water heater serviced
- gotten a fire extinguisher (we didn't have one in the house, yikes!)
- opened a bank account for Conan
- reconfigured & updated our car insurance
- gotten a load of bark & drainrock delivered
- rented the pottery studio to a new crew of potters
- cleaned out Conan's closet & taken a bunch of stuff to consignment
- scheduled long-overdue maintenence on the overhead shop doors
- septic tank is getting pumped today (rock on!)

I do still need to get my taxes done, and about a million other things around the house, but it feels great to get these things taken care of. Now that Conan's bigger, more independant, and (most importantly) not breastfeeding, I suddenly have much more energy and time to catch up on all the exciting tasks required to keep life rolling along. It feels good. :)

Monday, March 01, 2010

Bo & Charlotte got Hitched!

It was a magical, wonderful wedding - everything came together better than hoped. It's not really a surprise that it was so awesome - it's not every bride that can put together a full-scale wedding (ceremony, dinner, reception party) for 120+ people on a shoestring budget in 8 weeks while 7 months pregnant, but if anyone can pull that off, it's Charlotte. As a highly organized and efficient person myself, I recognize superior organizing talent when I see it!

Of course weeks of planning always come down to just a few days of execution, and I'm exhausted after a full three days of full-bore wedding set up and take down. My pictures don't really capture much of what was involved (I was so busy I forgot to take pictures of most of it - oops) but everyone did a great job of pitching in and really showing Bo and Charlotte how much they mean to us by working our asses off, and then throwing down for a fabulous party. :)

Conan wore a delightfully dapper little suit with a disco-y silver vest that I got at the consignment store for $10. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of him in it! He had to change clothes halfway through the wedding due to an incident with a ripe cherry tomato, and then again into his jammies. Hopefully someone else got some pictures of him before he changed. I'll put up a picture later if I can. He thoroughly enjoyed the wedding, especially the balloons. He even got to bring one home!

Update: the suit. Oh yeah, Disco baby!