Monday, December 26, 2011

Traveling with a Sack of Sugar

It's been almost a week since my last post? Weird..

Because it's Christmas, we are traveling all the way up Virginia and on to Pennsylvania. With a not quite 2 month old, it takes preparation, patience, and pit stops. Our car could barely fit all of her stuff and our cat's. (We decided to bring our already attention starved cat since we'll be gone for over a week - we can also test out our ADT motion detectors). With a baby, we had her clothes, diapers, stroller, and bed/rocker. Adelaide required her litter box and food. This will be the lightest load we will ever have with Joanna because we're not packing toys or extra items like a bumbo, high chair, etc. Even though it was light, it was very tight.

We decided to use cloth diapers this week with a few days in disposables when we were away from my parent's house. After a day at the in-laws with disposables, we have now grown to loathe those paper creations. We ended up changing Joanna about 10 times when we would have normally changed her 6-7. My savings calculations may be completely off based on these findings. It was further confirmation that we made an excellent choice in using cloth.

To prepare for our journey, I timed it so she would be in her last diaper while the other diapers dried. This way we wouldn't have to drive with a stinky/er diaper for 3 hours. We brought the diaper pail and kept the clean diapers and pail liners in it as we traveled. We got to my parent's house, set up our diaper station, and it was just like home! (We used a plastic grocery bag for the used wipes instead of bringing our tiny trash can.) My mom is generously letting us wash the diapers every other day in their HE washer and dryer.

By the way, Joanna did so well in the car! She only started screaming after 3 hours because she finally realized her stomach and bladder were empty. After we fixed both empty vessels, she was a happy camper again. This kid is amazing - I really hope we get another one just like her. That'd be so nice.

I'm looking forward to when she can hold her giant head up. ("It's like an orange on a toothpick!") It's adorable to have her wobbly noggin come crashing into our chins, but it'll be even greater when she can look around at things on purpose instead of convenience.

Motherhood calls - later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poo Tracking

As a part of my increased nursing, my consultant wanted me to keep track of how many and what kind of changes we're doing each day. We've gone from 5-6 diapers a day to 8-9 diapers a day! It's a wonderful thing that she's gaining weight and it's been a learning experience to say the least.

I know babies poop but I had no idea how much poop could come out of such a small body. She used to poo every other day and now she's up to two poos a day. Two very full, stinky diapers a day are completely dedicated to poop. Thankfully she spaces them out so I get to change one and daddy gets to change one. She's an equal opportunity stinker. She's also considerate enough to give us some variety so we don't know what to expect. Color, consistency, you name it.

A word to the wise: When changing a diaper, be aware that girls and guys are different. When boys pee, it takes a few moments for their stream to cease. When girls pee, it all spills out in seconds. When you see a baby girl pee, it's too late to prepare. Just suck it up and clean up the aftermath. When I dealt with one of her stink bombs today, I lifted her feet to clean her bum and lower back when I saw a trickle of a mini waterfall come down. I thankfully had a diaper beneath her bum, but because I had her lifted, I was supplying the perfect angle for her urine to travel up her back and all the way to her neck. I was so careful not to get poo on her white shirt that it became the perfect place for her pee! Ah well. She has plenty of adorable outfits.

I'm so thankful for cloth diapers. We've had to increase our changes each day because of this growth spurt. I'm sure we've saved at least $15 this week rather than the usual $12.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Audrey II

I've come to the conclusion that we are raising our own Audrey II.

We started with me singing "Grow For Me", hoping she would learn to appreciate my care and attempts to feed her. Just like Seymour.

My supply is increasing and we're both getting the hang of it now.

But then she decides to celebrate her 7 weeks of life by singing, "Feed Me" and goes through a monster growth spurt that no single person's supply can satisfy. Just like Seymour.

I hope my Audrey II won't grow to be a man-eater that tries to take over the world.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nursing: Part Two

I saw the amazing Laurie Flower and she helped me so much! I explained to her everything that led up to yesterday and for the most part she sat shaking her head at what people had told me to do (and what they didn't inform me of in the first place).  I was doing a lot of things wrong! The session was $75 and it was totally worth it. She also weighed Joanna: she's back to her hospital discharge weight of 8lb 15oz.  I'm going to have a huge freakin' party when she's at her birth weight. This whole ordeal is super stressful and guilt inducing.

My biggest boo boo? Using formula in the first place. A mother's milk production is stimulated when there's a baby there to drink it. When I pump or supplement, it's not giving my brain and body the signals I need to make more milk. So rather than worry that she's not eating enough and trying to pump as often as possible, I need to:

  • Nurse every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night.
    • If she's asleep, wake her up.
  • No cigarette hold 
    • No squeezing between your index and middle finger. Instead she recommended a C hold: using my entire hand and shaping it like a C. 
  • Mother's milk tea and lots of it. 
    • I'm instructed to drink 5 cups a day of this licorice nastiness. Bleh. I just gulp it and go.
  • Fenugreek and other herbs
  • Burp her when she gets squirmy rather than try to reattach her right away.
  • No more pacifiers.

Thankfully, Joanna is latching well and is doing a great job. She has great duck lips and stays awake for the most part. When I poke and prod and pull off her socks, she stays awake for the feeding.

Oh, and did I mention no more pacifier?.. We'll see how that one goes. Since she's not having an issue with latching, I may just minimize the pacifier rather than throw it away completely. Soon after the session, I brought her with me to worship practice and the whole no pacifier thing was a poorly timed instruction. She howled for 5 minutes before I finally gave in and shoved her beloved friend into her open pout. Within milliseconds, she was content and glassy eyed. Phew.

Yea, we won't be throwing away pacifiers quite yet.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Products That Save Us Money

I don't know if you've noticed, but I love saving money!

Some of these products seem expensive compared to their modern alternatives, but the return on investment is usually met in months or even weeks. Also, many of these options are pretty old school.

Wet Shaving ($50 - $100) [Jonathan uses products from West Coast Shaving]
  • I married a wonderful, masculine, and hairy man. Jonathan shaves his face every day if he is clean shaven and every other day if he is managing a beard. When we were first married, I was shocked at how often we were buying razors. I thought maybe Jonathan was being careless in buying the wrong shaving cream or just shaving too often. I just wasn't used to living with a guy! One of my co-workers was telling me about how he saves a lot of money and protects his skin from over drying: Wet Shaving! It's like being transported back to the 60s every morning! West Coast Shaving is a great resource and store to fulfill all wet shaving needs. Our initial investment of $100 was quickly "paid off" in a year of disposable razors. 
  • Gift giving was made simple because now I can buy him new shaving soaps and accessories for his shaving. I also LOVE how smooth his face is compared to the dry and sometimes still stubbly aftermath of disposables. Even his electric razor didn't produce these kinds of results. 
    Stovetop Espresso Maker ($20 - $60) [We use Moka Stovetop Espresso Maker]
    • We are coffee drinkers on a budget. Rather than shelling out hundreds on an espresso maker, we stuck to conventional coffee for years. Recently one of Jonathan's friends showed him this amazing little contraption that comes straight from Italy. We love it so much, this newest addition to our kitchen has spawned into several Christmas gifts for others! We use regular ground coffee and get amazing results. This machine was paid off in less than a week of Starbucks drinks. 
    Slow Cooker ($20 - $60) [We use a Rival Crockpot]
    • Throw ingredients in, flip a switch, and the entire house smells delicious! The savings can depend on how often you go out to eat or how often you cook frozen meals, etc. I'm using our Crockpot more and more as I get more into couponing for quality food rather than resorting to frozen pizzas and entres for every meal.
    Dryer Balls ($5 - $20) [We use Buddha Bunz]
    • A quick and easy way to increase the efficiency of your dryer. 
    • If you're also cloth diapering, be sure to use a high quality product so the oils or other substances of cheaper dryer balls don't go onto the diapers. 
      Baby Related Savings: (here are specific products)

      Cloth Diapers ($300 - $500) [We use bumGenius]
      Nursing ($0 - $300) 
      • Nursing in itself is absolutely free.
        • If you can't nurse or need to supplement (like me), there are always coupons available if you subscribe to the major companies like Nestle and Similac. Formula can range from $15-30 per can. If you're only using formula, you can easily go through 1-2 cans each week, sometimes more. This means you're saving approximately $15-$60 per week (without coupons) by nursing. That's a HUGE savings! 
      • If you need to pump, the investment can range from $50 to $300. There are many pumps out there to choose from. We use the Medela Pump In Style Advanced.
      • Washable nursing pads (compared to disposables) are about $2 - $6 per pair. I use Avent. For the same cost as 50 disposable pairs, I can purchase 3 pairs of washables. I throw them in with my cloth diapers so they're washed every other day. I've also found the washables to be much more absorbent than the disposables.  

      Other Ways We Save:

      Reading Labels

      • Laundry Detergent - a cap full is rarely the amount needed for a load of laundry. We were practically throwing away laundry detergent while simultaneously gunking up our washer with soap. After reading the label, we're using half of what we used to use.
      • Generic Drugs - they have the same ingredients but with a label that's not as shiny as the name brand. 
      • Serving Sizes - if you actually use the amount that is recommended, you'll eat less, weigh less, and save more. Who doesn't want that?

      • We're the worst at budgets. We use to help us.
      • It's like a giant puzzle or game. Get a paper, clip the coupons, and go to the store's websites to see when those products go on sale. Our food expenses have gone down over 50% because of quality groceries that led to not eating out as much. 
      • Just like investing money into a product that saves you money, you're investing time into a process that saves you money. I love organizing, cutting paper, making lists, and shopping! It's like getting paid to do the things I love!
        • I hate cooking. I really do. But I love saving money more than I hate cooking. I make the easiest/quickest possible dinners and baked goods. I'm often cooking/baking things related to the coupons I've clipped, too. 
        • Instead of throwing out a shirt that has a hole in the armpit, patch it up!
        • Turn old jeans into a fabulous skirt.
        • Turn old shirts into a quilt.
        • Make a New Dress a Day like this creative lady

          Saturday, December 10, 2011

          Christmas Card

          This year's Christmas Card looks way better than last year's. Mostly because Joanna is in it. A lot.

          [Created at Snapfish]

          Friday, December 9, 2011

          Cloth Diapers: Week Five

          I'm dreading Christmas for just one reason: we have to go back to disposables. Thankfully, my parents and in-laws have stocked up on disposables so we won't have to bring any big bulky diaper boxes in our already packed car.

          Speaking of Christmas, we now have two Bum Cheeks diapers in our stash! Thanks so much to Courtney, Brad, and fellow diaper buddy to Joanna: Cullen! (Be sure to check out Courtney's blog here). Pictured below is Joanna's new red diaper, which festively coordinates with her new kelly green diaper.

          I quickly learned that not all cloth diapers are created equal. This new brand took some getting used to on my part. She did leak when she first wore it for this shoot, but that was user error rather than the product not functioning. I didn't realize that the snaps could overlap for a smaller size!!

          Right after this photo was taken on her side, Joanna's pee went up through the top of the diaper onto her side and onto the nice photo studio's blanket. In the words of Rick Perry, "Oops." After a quick change into a dry diaper, she was a happy camper. At least we got some adorable crying photos out of it!

          We now overlap the snaps and haven't had an issue. These diapers also have a liner sewn into the cover, so we don't have to separate anything when we toss it into the pail! I think that's Jonathan's favorite feature.

          And now we get to add another saved $24 to our numbers:

          Cloth Diaper Investment: $100 
          (Reminder: most of our diapers were gifted to us. The usual initial cloth diaper investment can be $300-$500)

          Cloth Diaper Savings To Date : $60
          Return on Investment: -$40

          Thursday, December 8, 2011

          Guest Blogger: Center Couch Cushion

          I finally have some time to myself. That fat lady has been harassing me for months! When they first saved me from the warehouse and brought me home, the new place looked nice enough. I thought my brothers and I would live a long, quiet life in this small house. Now they laugh at my shrinking height and growing width.

          Before: So full of life and hope.

          Mom and Dad said we would all sag together as a family. What did they know? It was just the two of them. I should have stopped listening to them as soon as there were three of us. "Love Seat"? More like Smother Seat.

          Oh no she's coming back.

          She's gone again.

          I wish she would give me a break at some point. Even when the other Big One comes home, she doesn't move over. She makes him choose one of my brothers. And now there's a Small One. I barely noticed it at first until it started wiggling. It's very wiggly. The Fluffy One doesn't sleep on me anymore. The Big Ones would just use that sticky wand to clean Fluffy One's leftovers before more Big Ones would visit. Now they get that big loud sucky thing.

          At least she's not as fat as she was.

          Wednesday, December 7, 2011

          The Nursing Chronicles

          I've been nursing since Joanna was 45 minutes old. When I first started, she sucked at it. Meaning that she sucked at sucking. I thought infants would automatically know how, but it turns out that some need practice before they get the hang of it. Moms need practice, too!  My milk didn't "come in" until around Day 4, so Joanna lost more weight than normal at the hospital. After supplementing her with formula, she hit her goals and my milk soon arrived. One month later, she was underweight again. It turned out that we didn't really hit our stride yet with nursing.

          In her first month, I would feed her 2oz every 3 hours during the day and whenever she would wake up at night, which was usually every 4-5 hours. I was also not patient or persistent enough when she would feed. If she would break the latch and seem disinterested in more, I wouldn't give her more. If she fell asleep, I would try to wake her for a minute or two and if she didn't stir, I'd let her sleep. Both were mistakes. Infants need food, so they need to be fed. Even if they're sleeping.

          Now, I feed her 2oz every 2 hours or 4oz every 4 hours, depending on the time of day. Sometimes I'm not able to feed her as often as she needs so I supplement with formula. The only way to really tell how much I feed her is to pump first then feed. When I pump, I can get a combined 2oz. When I nurse her directly, I think she doesn't get a full 2 ounces because I'm able to pump immediately after feeding her. Whatever milk I'm able to pump after, I feed it to her immediately. I've never been able to pump more than 2oz in one sitting even though I've been nursing all this time.  I also haven't had any of the common side effects like major cramping or chapped nipples.

          I'm still getting used to/learning about nursing. If she's not gaining enough weight or if the doc has more concerns, I'm going to go to a lactation consultant.

          Sunday, December 4, 2011

          Olan Mills Photo Shoot

          Our awesome friend Lacon gifted us a photo session at Olan Mills for Joanna! It was so much fun having our photos taken and hanging out with her. Here is a peek at the fun:


          My favorite

          My little love bug!

          The best looking people I know.

          Friday, December 2, 2011

          Stupid Things People Say: Part 3

          Yes, there have been two other parts.

          Stupid Things People Say to Those Trying to Have a Baby
          Stupid Things People Say to Pregnant Women

          And now:
          Stupid Things People Say to New Moms
          • "Wow, that's a big head!" - the nurse that helped cut her out of me
          • "She has a lazy eye." - a family member at Thanksgiving. 
          • "Is it a boy or a girl?" Joanna was wearing a pink hat, pink shirt, and jeggings. 
          • "Mommy, it's a baby! Can I pet it?" "No, you don't pet a baby." - a little boy with his mom.
          • [while wearing my Moby wrap] "When I first saw you, I thought 'She has big boobies; poor thing.' Then I saw that it was a baby! How old is she?" - an old lady at Target starting a conversation in the cereal aisle.
            • On the same shopping trip, the Target greeter saw me, saw the baby, and immediately approached me and started rubbing JoJo's back while she was in my Moby. Who does that? The wrap means "don't touch my baby". She talked to me about how small babies are and how they love being held, and I tried dropping hints like "yea, she likes to sleep in it, like now," but she just kept rubbing. So awkward.

          Thursday, December 1, 2011

          Baby Farts

          Since increasing JoJo's feeding frequencies and quantities, her little body is taking it all in and pushing it all out! I'm well experienced in the world of flatulence: not only was I pregnant all year, I'm the younger sister to two big brothers. Despite my smelly resume, I'm still learning a few new things about butt rumbles:

          • Newborns can fart just as loud as grown ups. 
          • Their farts don't smell bad (yay milk and formula!)
          • They come in many varieties: legato, staccato, mezzo forte, etc.
          • Newborns will warn you of their farts by either crying or giving a "fart face".
          • Their farts will wake them up, then wear them out again so they fall right back to sleep.

          (Grand)mom says that little girls don't fart; they toot.
          I don't think you could qualify these rumbles as toots.