All I Want For Mother’s Day…

Little Man is still young enough that my mother’s day gifts and Hubby’s father’s day gifts are picked out by us. That being said, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to ask for:

  1. A thimble. I’m all for repairing instead of replacing, but without a thimble it hurts! I would like a metal one, as a plastic one will get stepped on.

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  1. A clean sink. I do two or three loads of dishes a day. Today, please do them for me.
  2. All the clothes in the house folded and put away. I like doing laundry, but I hate folding and putting away. Hey, today’s supposed to be my day to relax, right?
  3. The T.V. off all day. Living in a house with Hubby and his brother means the T.V. is on as soon as they’re in the door, usually with a video game loading. I want to not hear “pewpewpewpewBOOMpewpewpew” all day long. Silence will do nicely.
  4. Clean kitchen counters. This does not involve shoving everything into a drawer and pretending it doesn’t exist, but rather PICKING UP and PUTTING AWAY all the crap that accumulates on the counter. Very little of this is mine, and I’m about to just throw it all out.

That’s it. My list of demands requests isn’t that long, and is in no way unreasonable. So please, Hubby and Little Man?


Debunking The Tide Myths

Cloth diaperers tend to be firmly in two camps when it comes to laundry detergent. The first group believes that you should only use expensive cloth diapering detergents on your precious fluff. I used to be in this group, but our budget didn’t really allow for pricey diaper detergents. The second group (myself included) believes that whatever you use on your regular laundry will work just fine, within reason. The two exceptions to this rule are generally “natural” detergents that use citrus oils, since these can build up and cause repelling, and anything with “a touch of Downy” or added fabric softener (Dreft included).

So what are the concequences of using Tide versus Rockin Green?

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Before I go any farther, I will say that we’ve had essentially the same stash of diapers for 18 months or so. Each diaper is used every other day or every three days, and hung to dry. So far, I’ve only had three diapers delaminate, and all three were BabyCity, which are notorious for being cheap and generally worthless.

  • Scent. Tide does leave behind a scent, whereas Rockin Green does not. I personally like a little scent on my clean clothes. Some people believe that this means the detergent isn’t washing out correctly, I personally do not.
  • Amount. I had to use 3 tablespoons of Rockin Green to even start to get diapers clean. Tide takes up to the first line to wash a load, and they always come clean.
  • Enzymes. Tide has enzymes in it, whereas Rockin’ Green does not. I’ve never had an issue with these bothering Little Man’s buns, but if your baby is sensitive, Tide is not for you.
  • Wear and tear. Clearly, we haven’t had any problems with Tide wearing out our diapers. We’ve stripped once, when Little Man was going through his “pee every ten seconds” stage. I will note that this was while we were using Rockin Green. Since switching to Tide, we haven’t had any ammonia or stink issues. Our diapers are all still in great condition, and still in rotation. *Update- Hubby nicely reminded me that we have three that are currently out of rotation. One is waiting to be converted from velcro to snaps, one lost a snap at some point before I bought it, and one needs new elastic (my only BumGenius).

What about the “special” versions of Tide that are now on the market? I personally have used Tide Original, Tide Plus Febreze, and Tide Plus Bleach Alternative on my diapers, with no ill effects so far. The Plus Febreze version does leave behind a much stronger scent, which I’m not a fan of, but they seem to be identical in every other way.

Wait- aren’t you only supposed to use Tide Powder? This one seems to depend on your water. Where I live, the water is so hard you could cut it with a knife, and I had issues with Tide Powder not washing out properly. I was still seeing lots of suds after four or five or six rinses, and the diapers didn’t come clean. I switched to a comparable amount of liquid, and it’s worked a lot better. This could very well just be my washer, since it doesn’t seem to deal well with ANY powder detergent, but it’s worth mentioning.

I’ve also used Purex, Sun, and Extra (Xtra?) on my diapers, with no ill effects. Tide does get them the cleanest, however.


I Am A Murderer.

*Note- I realize it’s the 1st of the month, and I promise I will get our budget post up within a few days. Hubby’s parents are still here, and budget posts take so long to write thatI don’t want them to think I’m ignoring them. Today’s their last day here, so maybe tomorrow.

Yesterday, I was a murderer. Twice.

First, I made the decision to wash Little Man’s Pooh Bear pillow pet thing, because it was really disgusting and starting to smell like sour milk. I put it in the washer while LM was eating lunch, not thinking a thing of it.

After lunch, I asked LM to help me unload the washer and put things in the dryer. The last thing to come out was Pooh Bear.

(I can see all you experienced parents cringing)

I threw Pooh in the dryer.

Little Man let out an anguished yowl I can only liken to a cat who is on his way to the vet in his cat carrier, and proceeded to wail and cry as I turned on the dryer. He spent twenty minutes standing next to the dryer, sobbing as Pooh dried off enough to play.

Clearly, I am a murderer. LM wouldn’t even look at me for half the day.

Then we decided to take Hubby’s parents to the beach, as they’re from Wyoming and have never been. I beat Hubby home, and stripped LM down for a shower. I decided to pull out the fingerpaint soap I’d gotten at Target that day, which was red

(I can hear all of you experienced parents chuckling).

Red bathtub paint looks a lot like blood. And it gets everywhere. After washing and drying LM, it was still all over the walls, all over the shower floor, etc, but I had to get LM fed and in bed, so I just left it. Hubby still had to take a shower, so he could rinse it all down, right?

Hubby heads upstairs.

I hear him open the bathroom door, pull back the shower curtain…

And suck in a lot of air before yelling, “Honey, did you kill someone in our shower?”

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Hubby.


Rear Facing Car Seats

After I posted my exciting car seat discount news, the reaction from my friends was huge.

“Why did you spend so much on car seats?”

“Why didn’t you just get one of those baby seats and call it good?”

“Little Man is STILL rear facing? That’s cruel!”

“When are you going to flip Little Man forward facing? Babies want to see what’s coming!”


The reason we spent more than $400 on two car seats is¬†twofold: first, we’re tall people with a small car. Second, and this is the more important one, is that rear facing is five times safer than forward facing, period, end of story. Even we grownups would be safer rear facing, but unfortunately cars don’t really work like that. As such, the parenting issue Hubby and I are most annoying about firm on is keeping our children RF as long as possible.

However, extended RF carseats are big. Our car (a Honda Fit) is small. See the problem? When we bought the car, LM was 4 months old, not even close to sleeping through the night, and the idea of having ANOTHER child was unthinkable. We were sleep deprived. Decisions were made, and we went for a smaller, cheaper, more fuel efficient car over a bigger, more family friendly car.

This has worked out well with just one RF kid, since our convertible car seat (a Safety 1st Onside Air convertible) fits nicely in the back middle seat. The back wedges between the two front seats, and two grownups can sit comfortably in the front without kneecap damage. Getting a second one of a similar size back there (which clearly requires one car seat to go behind each front seat) is a nightmare. It can’t be done while maintaining the safety of the seat.

The new car seats we bought are Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 seats. They sit at a much more upright angle than our old seat, which means more space for the people in front. We did have to use our credit card to buy the seats, but we discussed this purchase at length and decided that not being out of debt by the time Hubby gets out of the Corps was worth the added safety that keeping both our babies RF provides.

Sure, Little Man’s feet are touching the seat, but he has yet to seem uncomfy. He usually ends up sitting criss-cross applesauce, or dangling his legs over the side of the carseat, or (this is a new one) pushing the headrest up with them. Even if his legs are folded, look at how toddlers prefer to sit normally- their legs are generally tucked up under them, or crossed in front of them.

And to all those pain in the butt parents I have telling me that I’m overprotective, I have just one thing to say- at least I know my baby is safe.


In The Spirit Of Full Disclosure…

Since I promised to share everything about our finances as we go through this debt journey, I feel that I need to share:

We unfroze our Discover cards today.

We’re driving twenty miles south to Buy Buy Baby.

We’re buying one of the $240+ car seats we need for when Baby comes.

We’ve chosen to defrost the Discover card for this because we earn 1% cash back on the purchase, and I can’t find any other freaking discounts on this particular brand of carseat.


There is a redeeming part of this story, however! I intend to pay off the extra $260 some charge as soon as it shows up on the Discover statement. The money is sitting pretty in my bank account, ready to go, and I just need to hit “Pay” when the charge shows up.

Update: Before heading out, I sat down with my handy dandy¬†coupon generator laptop to check for cheaper options, since BuyBuy Baby will price match. Lo and behold, one website had the Pria70 with TinyFit (which is the version we needed for Baby) for $219.xx instead of $289.99! The fabric is a slightly different color than it’s advertised, so it can’t be sold at full price. I’m perfectly fine with my total black car seat not being totally black, so I snatched that up!

Then, we went to BuyBuy Baby and found Little Man’s version was on sale for $212.xx instead of $249.99! I almost screeched in the middle of the store, I was so excited. I did jump up and down a little bit. However, when we went to check out, it rang up as $249.99. I asked the sales associate to send someone to check the price, and it turns out the sale was over. Since the sign was still out, though, they gave me that price!

BOOM! Just like that, we paid $442.xx for two carseats instead of $580.xx. That’s $138.xx savings right there, just from pre-shopping and asking for a price check. I’m pretty pleased with myself, if I do say so myself.


Giving Toddlers What They Crave

Toddlers are a conundrum. They’re not quite big/coordinated enough to undertake a ton of chores, but they want to help you with your chores. This leads to a lot of headaches unless you can come to terms with letting them help. My favorite ways of letting Little Man have some independence and feel like he’s contributing are:

  • Let him help me unload the dishwasher. I always pull the silverware caddy out first so he can’t grab any sharp knives, and I check the top rack if Hubby ran the last load, because he has a tendency to put knives up there. This works great for us because almost all of our dishes are mismatched pieces of hand-me-down Corningwear, which is virtually unbreakable, or mismatched pieces of plastic.
  • When I bake, I pull a chair up to the counter and give him a little cup of lentils, a spoon, and a bowl to transfer the lentils to. This usually results in me vacuuming up lentils, but at least it doesn’t result in eggshells and too much flour in whatever I’m baking.
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  • When I fold laundry, I give LM all the cloth diaper parts and ask him to put them in his diaper bin. That way they’re corraled when I get a chance to stuff them, and he feels like he’s helping me with laundry. We have been working on folding small towels, but LM tends to put one thing in the basket just to take another three (already folded) things out. I also give him single socks to put in our bastard sock bin, which I match during naptime.
  • I’ve given LM a paper towel with a little bit of vinegar on it and had him wipe the glass door. It doesn’t get super clean (in fact, sometimes it gets worse), but when toddlers help with chores, it’s mostly to promote doing them in the first place.
  • We used to have a little cordless vacuum that I could adjust the handle all the way down on. LM would follow me around and vacuum as well. It wasn’t super thourough, but it did cut down the time I spent vacuuming. Sadly, LM’s vacuum met a violent death at the hands of Hubby, who didn’t realize it wasn’t capable of sucking up sawdust and screws in the garage. We’re still searching for a replacement.
  • Putting away toys and books is the best chore for little kids, since they made the mess in the first place. The key here is to keep your expectations low. They will find a toy they haven’t seen in a while, and they will stop cleaning to play. I consider it a success if 5 or 6 toys get put away.
  • LM frequently waters the plants on the front porch. I always have to go back and re-water, and a towel waiting on the sidelines is a must, as are clean clothes. This is best done in warm weather.
  • Putting clothes in the dryer is easy for little kids to do. I usually hand LM the clothing that has to go in one piece at a time, rather than letting him remove them from the washer himself, especially if it’s a load of diapers. Otherwise, things that aren’t supposed to go in the dryer end up in there.
  • One of the earliest chores LM learned was to wipe things, so I like to give him a dry rag to wipe up wet spills, or a wet rag to wipe down dirty surfaces. Babyproofing is key here- LM goes crazy and wipes EVERYTHING he can reach, so make sure those outlets are covered, things that can’t get wet are put up, and that you have a snack ready to distract.

When LM gets a little older, we’ll add in more chores, including hanging clothes on the little clothesline we have (right now clothespins are way too fun to be tools), wiping his high chair after a meal, and mopping with vinegar. Keep your expectations low, and remember that it’s more important for your toddler to learn to contribute at this stage than it is for them to learn to fold/clean/mop correctly.


No Green Pancakes Here

This is how our morning started


Why, yes, that is a pile of cast off shirts. You may have noticed neither of them are green. I changed Little Man’s shirt and my shirt after logging on to Facebook and seeing dozens of pictures posted by parenting pages of green pancakes, little leprechaun footprints, and hidden pots of gold. I did none of that, and not just because LM isn’t even two yet. Heck, the only reason we’re both wearing green is because we’re going out in public and I don’t want to get pinched.

I just don’t care. I love LM to the ends of the Earth and back, but seriously? Do we really need to celebrate every single holiday like it’s Christmas? We don’t do gifts, we don’t do treasure hunts, we don’t do anything. MAYBE when LM gets a little older we’ll have Lucky Charms for breakfast or something, but that’s it. One bowl of cereal and a green shirt.

I’m not trying to bash parents who do fix green pancakes and decorate their homes for every holiday, but let’s not make it the norm. All that does is make those of us who have a pile of cast off non-green shirts feel worse about ourselves and our perceived lack of holiday parenting. It also encourages your kids to expect more! better! and bigger! every year and for every holiday. I can’t even fathom how much worse it’ll get after LM goes into school. Can we collectively agree to take it down several notches?


Why Our 1 1/2 Year Old Gets Allowance

We give our 1 1/2 year old son allowance. It’s not a lot- $10 per month, plus the contents of our change jar. A lot of my friends think we’re nuts, until I explain our reasoning.

And yes, that is a recycled (clearance) applesauce jar

And yes, that is a recycled (clearance) applesauce jar

Instead of handing Little Man a crisp Hamilton every month, we have an allotment set up to take $5 from each paycheck and deposit it into LM’s very own savings account on the 1st of the month, where it earns a modest 0.15% interest. We also deposit the change in our change jar into this account whenever it starts to get full. We see this deposit as an investment in Little Man’s future. When he graduates high school and decides what to do with his life, he’ll have a nice little chunk of moolah set aside to help him out. When he gets a little bit older and starts to want things, we’ll divide his allowance and give him part of it to use each month, but we will still require him to put part of it into his savings account. My mother did this for me, and I feel like it helped me learn the value of money.

This decision is prompted by my husband and I’s upbringings. Hubby’s family didn’t talk about money, and his parents didn’t teach him about savings or interest. They lived paycheck to paycheck, so this wasn’t an oversight on their part- they just didn’t have money to save, so it never came up. He was expected to pay for his own car, his own phone, his own school supplies, etc. His idea of getting a paycheck was spending a paycheck. My mom, on the other hand, was always very clear about savings. She required me to put half of any money I got into my savings account, and we sat down once a month to talk about how my money was growing. When I got a good amount in my account- usually $500- she would buy a stock in my name, then we would discuss how it was doing. I learned a lot from her. Don’t get me wrong, I still made my fair share of money mistakes, but looking back I’m so glad I had those early lessons.

We want Little Man to have that experience. We want him to understand how money and time work together, and we want him to understand the concept of delayed gratification. When he gets older and wants an expensive toy, or a car, or his own cell phone, he’ll have to save up for those things. I know this won’t keep him from making money mistakes, but it should give him a strong foundation


Flying with a Baby (Commercially)

I’m a private pilot. I can fly an airplane on my own, and even with that fact, I sometimes choose to fly commercially. I’ve flown commercially twice with my son, when he was about 9 months old, from Southern California alllllll the way to Long Island, New York, and again when he was 17 months old, from Southern California to Indiana and back. Here’s what I learned, from before we took off to when we landed. Ready?


At Home:

  1. Pack smart. You’ll need one bag for you and your baby, full of your clothes, extra diapers, toys, bibs, and whatever you think you’ll need at your destination. If you’re going somewhere warm, remember a swim diaper for your little one. The important message here is to only have one bag to check. Make sure it has wheels, a lock, and no tears. Then CHECK THAT SUCKER. Cough up the extra money, and save yourself a huge headache.
  2. Bring a backpack full of snacks, diapers, toys, a blanket, a sippy cup, and single serve formula packets if you need them. Bring a book for yourself, too. Pack as many snacks and diapers as you think you’ll need, then add more. I really like those pouch purees, like the ones from Happy Tot and Plum Organics. I also like the yogurt melts they make, Cherrios, fruits, and a PB and J.
  3. Buy your baby their own seat. If they’re young enough they haven’t realized they control their limbs, you can probably hold them, but once they start getting wiggly, just cough up the extra bucks. Buy a seat for your little wiggler, and bring your carseat.
  4. Try to book your seats in the back back of the plane. It’s a little bit bumpy, but you’re right next to the bathrooms, and watching the stewardesses is free baby entertainment!
  5. If you can’t get seats together, don’t panic. When you get to the airport, talk to the person behind the desk about changing your seat. Let them know you couldn’t book two together and you’re travelling with an infant.
  6. On the subject of carseats: make sure yours is approved by the FAA. Most are, but check the sticker on the side. There should be a little airplane that says something like “This restraint has been approved for use in aircraft by the FAA.” If it’s not, buy one that is. You’ll need it as your child grows. Also, measure it to make sure it’ll fit in the seat.

At the Airport:

  1. Check your roller bag. Do NOT check your carseat, stroller, or backpack. You’ll need some extra time to check the bag, so keep that in mind.
  2. Wear your baby in a carrier, and use an umbrella stroller to hold your carseat and backpack.
  3. Going through security is going to take a lot longer. If you have open puree pouches, you’ll need to have them tested. Breastmilk and formula bottles that are premade will have to be tested as well. Unopened puree pouches have to be removed from your bag and put through the xray machine, so pack them in a gallon size bag. The stroller has to be folded and put through the xray machine, and the carseat does too. You may have to take your child out of the carrier, or you may not- it seems to depend on the airport. For the love of all that is holy- if your child wears shoes, make sure they have velcro. Take your sweater off before you get to the security line, and pull out your laptop. You sometimes have to remove baby’s sweater, but this seems to depend on the airport and that particular TSA agent.
  4. The TSA agents SHOULD allow you to go through the regular metal detector, but if they try to send you through the spinny huge one, ask to go through the metal detector and a patdown. It’s easier, and there’s no chance of whatever radiation those things let off hurting your little one.
  5. When you get to the gate, let your baby crawl or walk around. I know, the floor is gross… but trust me, let them get their wiggles out NOW. Just sanitize their hands after you pick them up.
  6. Buy fruit, water, or milk before you get on the plane. The plane may or may not have milk, so if you need it, buy it.
  7. There are two schools of though on when to load. First is the thought that you should load first, when they announce family boarding. This means you can get everything situated, packed away, and installed before everyone else starts shooting glares at you for holding up the plane. It also means more time you spend with your baby in a small, enclosed area with limited entertainment. The second school states you should load last, and let your kids run around until the last possible second. This means less time in the limited area, but you’ll have to hurry to get everything put away. I would say to think about how your kid does with small areas. If you decide to load first, refrain from buckling your kid up until the stewardess starts glaring at you and telling you, “Ma’am, your child needs to be buckled up now”


On the Airplane

  1. Nurse during takeoff, or give baby a sippy cup or bottle. If you have a toddler, consider those gummy fruit snacks. I know they’re full of crap, but they’ll keep your baby from screaming because their ears hurt. One pack won’t kill them.
  2. Keep the window open for a while to give baby a view, but close it when they lose interest and turn off the lights. Keep it dark, and baby might fall asleep.
  3. Keep baby buckled up as much as possible. It’s safer, and babies seem to understand that car seat time means sitting still.
  4. If your child has a lovie (a stuffed animal, soft blanket, or random scrap of fabric), make sure they have it with them in the car seat. It’ll go a long way to keeping them from crying because of scary noises.
  5. Change diapers a little more often than you normally would. Sitting down makes baby more aware that they’re wet, which is not a good thing. I imagine it feels gross. Change that baby!
  6. When you land and the captain turns off the seatbelt sign, unbuckle the baby ASAP. Plan on being the very last person off the airplane, because remember that trip up the aisle with the huge carseat, hitting innocent bystanders in the shoulder? You can avoid that. Check under the seats for escaped toys, and put baby back in the carrier at the very last second.

The most important thing to remember is just to stay calm. You can always ask the flight attendants for help, they’re more than willing when they see you have a baby and a bunch of stuff. It’s not a huge deal to fly with a baby, you just have to plan a little bit more and possibly relax your cleanliness and diet standards in the interest of keeping your sanity.


Co-Sleeping Our Way

The exciting news around here is that we’re expecting baby number 2! He or she is due right around LM’s birthday, so that should be interesting. A jealous just 2-year-old and a newborn.


Anyways, this has made us re-evaluate our sleeping arrangements. Right now, we live in a three bedroom house. With this new addition on the way, we will rate a four bedroom house on base, but considering Hubby has less than a year left in the Corps, we’re skipping out on moving just for an extra bedroom. LM has slept in our room ever since he was born. At first, this was because we were in a very small two bedroom apartment, and my mom was staying with us, so there wasn’t an option for him to have his own room. We quickly realized that having the newborn in our room, within inches of our bed, was much more conducive to sleep than having him down the hall would be. When he got a little older, we ended up switching to a routine where LM would be put to bed in his crib, then brought into our bed to nurse when he needed it. That way I could nurse him on my side and still get some sweet, blissful sleep.

Upon moving to the new house, we realized LM wasn’t ready for his own room. He likes to cuddle us in the morning, and if we’re not there when he wakes up he tearfully howls, “Mama? Mama?” until I rescue him. He sleeps in a toddler bed, and has been in a floor bed or toddler bed since he was 11 months old.

This means he can get up when he pleases, and doesn’t have to wait for us to remove him from the cage of a crib. It also means our room has to stay clean, which is a perk I like, and cords/small objects/books/etc need to be put away.

Now, with the new baby coming, we’ve been debating. Do we move LM into his own room? He’s not ready for it yet.

Do we set the crib back up and have both kids in our room? We think LM will sleep through a baby crying, but we’re not sure.

Do we forgo the crib and just use a co-sleeper? I like this idea, but Hubby is firmly against it.

Whatever we decide will ultimately be up to LM and the wee beast growing in my belly. We want the sleeping arrangement that allows all of us to get the most sleep possible.