Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Goodbye, financial independence

It's crazy to think about, but I only have three pay checks remaining. Only six more weeks of work (and six more weeks of financial independence).

Ben and I have lived blissfully budget-free for the past 4 years. We didn't have a joint-account until a few months ago (which I really liked, by the way). We both happily paid our share of the bills, and spent/saved the remainder as we saw fit.

Now, in just two months, we'll have one account and a strict budget. We'll give up a lot of comforts from our DINK (Dual Income No Kids) days. Like cable, gym memberships and going out to eat. I don't regret or question our decision. It's just going to be a big change (on top of the already monumental change of bringing a new baby home).

So while I probably should save as much of my remaining pay checks as possible, part of me wants to spend while I can! Among my pie-in-the-sky dream purchases... a 13" Mac Book Pro. Perfect for the new mother and graduate student, don't you think? Sadly, one Mac Book = one pay check. Given that math, Ben said it's a hell no.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Baby Shower #2

Another super-fab baby shower last weekend! Complete with darling diaper cake made lovingly by Aunt Mandy. A million thanks to all our family and friends for a wonderful party.

On Sunday I sorted and seperated and organized, making the baby's room slightly more manageable. You wouldn't believe all the packaging that comes with tiny clothes and other baby stuff.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just the right size

Add this to the list of inappropriate things that men have said to me in my life...

Weird Man: Damn, you look good with that belly.
Me: Um, ok.
Weird Man: Seriously girl, I would totally tap that.
Me: As you can see, it's already been tapped. But thanks.

Honestly, I wasn't sure whether to feel creeped out, or moderately excited that someone (other than Ben) still finds me attractive.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CSA Week 2: Garlic Scapes

OMG. I love garlic scapes.

I hadn't even heard of garlic scapes until we joined the CSA last year. Basically, they are the tender shoots from a garlic bulb. They poke through the ground and grow all twisty and bendy. If left unattended, they will eventually get hard, white and papery (like a garlic bulb). But if harvested while tender, they give a delicious, light garlic flavor to just about anything.

We've sauteed them in olive oil, added fresh to salads, and mixed with scrambled eggs. But I think my favorite way to use garlic scapes is to make garlic scape "pesto". I say "pesto" because there's no basil. But the end product is green, and it uses nearly all the same ingredients. It's delicious with pita chips or spread on sandwiches. Enjoy!

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 cup of garlic scapes, chopped into 1" sections
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cups fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Use only the tender parts of the garlic scapes, peeling the bottom ends if tough. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat.

In a food processor, combine the garlic scapes and pine nuts, pulse to chop into a rough paste. Add cheese and pulse. With processor running, drizzle in just enough olive oil to achieve a moist spreading consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(Adapted from the Omnivores Solution)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In no particular order

A few random thoughts and recent occurances...
  1. I haven't worn pants with a zipper since April. Just sayin'.
  2. About half way through my iced coffee this morning, I got really jittery and the baby started moving like crazy. Yep, Starbuck's definately missed the "decaf" part of my order. I haven't had caffeine since November... now I remember what I'm missing.
  3. Though Ben believes weeding is an excellent (and utilitarian) way to practice birth exercises, I can't say that squatting in my front yard for an hour or two sounds very appealing.
  4. While the rest of Wisconsin welcomes the official start of summer, I am cursing the hot weather and the stupidly swollen ankles that come along with it.
  5. The baby has been getting hiccups lately. Super cute and incredibly distracting.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baby Shower #1

We had our first baby shower on Saturday! It was so much fun. My cousin, aunts and sister put together an incredible afternoon. The food was amazing, and everyone brought such lovely things for the baby.

We managed to get the entire lot (and Stella) home in one trip. Now the trick is to find some where to store all our new-found baby gear.

Note the gigantic pile of baby clothes and blankets I need to wash. This doesn't even include the stash of 32 cloth diapers and inserts.

And the gorgeous quilt my mom made.

Love, love, love!

Friday, June 18, 2010


I'm not sold on the role of godparents. We plan to have a baptism, but if it's up to me, it will be just Ben and I standing at the front of the church.

Though my godfather (who is also my great-uncle) is still involved and interested in my life, most godparents are completely absent. Last weekend, Ben saw his godmother for the first time in 20 years. He wouldn't even have known who she was if his mom wouldn't have been with us.

Traditionally, godparents were chosen to lead a child in their journey with Christ. I can't say I'm eager to pick someone out for that, especially since I'm not sure where I stand when it comes to religion. I like to consider myself spiritual. I believe in heaven and higher power, but I'm not really sure what it all means or how it all fits together.

In the more modern sense, godparents are close friends or family members that you assign to hold a special place in your child's life. I'm all for this. There are several people that I hope have a strong relationship with our child and our family. But shouldn't those relationships grow organically over time? It seems a bit premature to assign someone to a permanent position in your childs life when they are 4 weeks old.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Well, so much for that

Despite our best efforts, we are switching doctors and hospitals.

The insurance issues are just too complicated. So no more midwife care or water birth for me. Bummer.

We meet the new OB at our 32 week appointment. I'm sure she'll be fine and we'll receive excellent care. It's just hard to change this late in the game (we all know how I love the plan).

Our Bradley teacher is also a doula, so we're considering hiring her to help us at the birth. It would be nice to have her in labor and delivery as an advocate for us and our birth plan.

Cloth diapers... read at your own risk!

Disclaimer: I have yet to actually diaper a child in cloth, so my thoughts and recommendations may change. I have done an insane amount of research and talked to several cloth-diapering parents. However, this may be more wishful thinking and first-time mom naivety than anything. 

No judgement to those who use disposable diapers. For many reasons, they are a more convenient option. We will probably use some combination of cloth and disposables, especially when it comes to travel, emergencies and laziness.

Let me begin by saying the world of cloth diapers is incredibly complex. When I first started investigating cloth as an option, I was really overwhelmed. Pre-folds, pockets, all-in-ones, covers, doublers, flushable inserts, etc. There are just so many options!

I spent a lot of time asking for input from other parents... those who used cloth and those who used disposables. But the best resource I could find was a local parenting store in Neenah. The staff at the Mom and Pop Place helped me sort everything out. I ultimately chose to purchase most of our cloth diapers and accessories from them. Not only does that give me buying local bonus points, but their prices are really competitive.

So, Sam... why cloth?

I was originally drawn to cloth because I'm uncomfortable with the chemicals used in disposable diapers. Though millions of parents safely use disposable diapers every year, I just don't like the idea of chemicals (bleach, VOCs, dioxin, etc) on my baby's body 24/7. Most disposable diapers offer a moisture-wicking gel core. Though convenient (baby drier longer = less diaper changes), it can also result in more diaper rash and skin irritation.

An equally important benefit to me was the cost savings. It will cost approximately $2,000 to diaper one child until age two. We spent about $700 on cloth diapers and accessories, which should last our child through toilet training. The same diapers can also be used for subsequent children. Even when you factor in the cost to launder cloth diapers, that's a considerable savings.

Finally, disposable diapers are really bad for the environment. One disposable diaper takes up to 500 years to decompose. That being said, I have to confess: the environmental impact was a secondary benefit to me. While I care about how our actions affect the environment, chemicals and cost-savings were my primary motivators.

Alright, cloth it is... what exactly will you use?

As I mentioned before, there are a million options when it comes to cloth diapers (pre-folds, pockets, all-in-ones, covers, doublers, flushable inserts, etc). It's worth noting that what works for one family/child will not necessarily work for another. But this is what we purchased based on the following factors:
  1. I am staying home full-time, so I will be the primary child care provider.
  2. I am willing to wash diapers every 2-3 days.
  3. I want diapers that will grow with the baby (rather than graduated sizes).
  4. I want reliable, easy-to-use options for overnight, travel, babysitters, etc.
Based on those factors, here's what our cloth diaper stash looks like:
  1. 12 BumGenius 3.0 Diapers - These are pocket diapers, which means they have a pocket built into the back of the diaper that you stuff with an absorbant cloth insert. The cover is waterproof. You can add a cloth doubler (which is basically an added absorbancy pad), for bedtime, car trips, heavy wetting, etc. They are one-size diapers, meaning they adjust to grow with your baby. These have stretchy Velcro closure, so they fasten more like disposable diapers (which Ben really likes).
  2. 12 FuzziBunz One-Size Diapers - These are also one-size pocket diapers, but they have snap closure and adjustable elastic around the legs.
  3. Tiny Tush Elite Diapers - Again, these are one-size pocket diapers (are you seeing a pattern here?). We have these in snaps and Velcro. The Velcro isn't as heavy duty as the BumGenius, but they have more adjustability.
  4. 3 MonkeyZ Diapers - These are made by a local mom. I bought them mostly for the darling covers (I couldn't resist the cute fabrics). They are all-in-one diapers, so there's no pocket to stuff (just more padding attached to the cover).
  5. 36 flannel wipes - Since you're washing the diapers, it seems just as easy to just wash the wipes. Keep a spray bottle of wipe solution near the changing table, spritz on baby's bottom and clean with a flannel wipe. Cloth diaper and cloth wipe go right into the laundry bag.
Note that there aren't any newborn sizes in there. We plan to use disposables until the baby reaches 8 lbs (the minimum weight for most of the diapers we purchased). My friends at the Mom and Pop Place made this suggestion, as babies wear the newborn size for such a short period of time.

You got your gear... how exactly does it work?

Cloth is a little more work than disposables, but not much. Next to our changing table we have a washable laundry bag. When the baby needs to be changed, the soiled cloth diaper and/or insert gets tossed in the laundry bag for washing.

Breastmilk is water soluable, so until the baby starts on solids, all waste products (#1 and #2) can go right in the laundry bag. When baby starts eating solids, the #2 needs to be removed from the diaper prior to being tossed in the laundry bag. You can scrape or shake poop into the toilet (ew), purchase a diaper sprayer that hooks up to your toilet (better), or use a thin disposable liner inside the diaper (bingo). The liner is a flushable paper product... imagine something between toilet paper and dryer sheet. You just lift out the liner with the diaper change, and either flush down the toilet or toss into a regular garbage can.

Every other day, you take the laundry bag downstairs and wash the entire lot of cloth diapers and inserts (you can also wash the laundry bag). First, you pre-rinse on cold with no detergent to remove any #1 or #2. Then wash in a regular hot water cycle with detergent to get the diapers clean. Hang diapers to dry (diapers can go in the dryer, but line drying extends their life), and repeat in 48 hours.

Other care tips I've picked up along the way...

Cloth diapers require detergent with no dyes or perfumes. Regular detergents can reduce the absorbancy of your diapers (so liquid beads up and rolls off, rather than being absorbed in). If this happens, you can "strip" your diapers with several hot wash cycles, but this can be really harsh on the fabric. Most diaper manufacturers recommend a special cloth diaper detergent, though some mom bloggers just use Tide Free or All Free and Clear (both are available at Target).

You should never use bleach or borax on cloth diapers (especially if chemicals are the reason you went to cloth in the first place). Cloth diapers will never be as sparkling white as when you frist bought them. However, you can cut stains with vinegar and baking soda, or by drying them outside in the sun.

If your diapers have Velcro closure, be sure to secure the Velcro tabs to the side of the diaper prior to washing. If you don't, your diapers will all stick together and come out of the wash as one big, crinkled mess. That may also reduce the efficiency of the Velcro over time.

Whew! Is that ALL?

Yep, that's about it. Every possible thought and opinion I have on cloth diapers. I was really intimidated by cloth at first... I wouldn't even let myself consider it as an option. But the more I learned (products have come a long way from soaking buckets and pointy diaper pins), the more I realized it was a doable alternative.

If you're just getting started, I'd strongly recommend visiting a local speciality store The Mom and Pop Place in Neenah is awesome, and I've ordered some things online from Nicki's Diapers in Madison. Another resource that I really enjoyed was Jillian's Drawers. You can check out their special section New to Cloth for a cloth diaper overview and other suggestions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CSA Week 1: Sugar Snap Peas

Yum... I love cooking from the CSA. It forces you to be so much more creative in the kitchen.

This recipe was adapted from Serving Up The Harvest. Quite possibly the greatest seasonal produce cookbook ever.

Bow Tie Pasta & Farm Fresh Peas

2 cups peas (about 2 pounds in pods)
12 oz. (one box) of bow tie pasta
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add peas to the salted water and boil just until tender (about 3-5 minutes). Scoop out with a slotted spoon. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente.

In the meantime, heat olive oil over medium in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). Reduce heat to very low and stir in peas.

Drain pasta and add to pea mixture. Stir in parmesan cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Bump Watch

A bit of a bump watch delay this week (my apologies). Here we are at 30 weeks...

I didn't gain anything since our last appointment. No extra weight, no added inches around the belly. Our doc said that's OK since I'm so tall. But I'd still like to see baby (and me) getting bigger.

Even though we still have 10 weeks to go, Ben feels very strongly that we need to pack our hospital bag RIGHT NOW. That's first time dad nerves for you. Besides, there's so much to do in the next few weeks... baby showers, nursery prep, home remodeling. I think we have enough to think about. The hospital bag will have to wait.

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Today is CSA day! The next 20 weeks are my favorite of the entire year... fresh, locally-grown, organic produce from June to October. What's better than that?

Ben and I joined Olden Produce in 2009 and LOVED it. We initially did a full-share and split it with my in-laws. It was too much food for them though, so this year we're doing a half-share on our own.

I ran in to Tracy (the farmer and CSA manager) on Saturday. She said Olden has grown to 115 members (last year they only had 40)! That's so awesome, and a real testiment to how fantastic their produce is.

Our first box contains pea shoots, mixed greens, sugar snap peas, garlic, herb plants and strawberries. Delish!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nursery inspiration

Finally. I've come to some conclusion on what to do with the nursery. I've been trying to find some fun wall art and accessories, without being too theme-y.

The color scheme will be primary colors with white accents. The room was painted yellow a few months ago. Today, I ordered some white vinyl wall decals (sheep, stars, moon, clouds) from Etsy. Ben and I fell in love with a darling plane mobile from Liapela. And of course the fantastic primary color quilt currently in production by Nana (Francie). Love, love, love!

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's getting crowded in there... and other pregnancy updates

Baby takes up way more room in my belly now. No longer can I consume two bowls of cereal in one sitting (bummer). There just isn't room to eat as much as I'd like.

Baby enjoys resting on my bladder these days, so I feel like I have to pee all the time. Like literally, all the time. My current record: three times in 20 minutes. I might as well set-up shop in the bathroom.

I'm also getting some kicks in the ribs, so between the bladder-pressure and rib-karate, I hope that means baby is head down already. We'll find out at our appointment on Wednesday. We're only 30 weeks though, so if not yet, he's still got some time.

Long gone are the high-energy days of the second trimester... I'm so tired now! I feel like I did in early pregnancy. I have to nap for an hour or so almost every afternoon. I'm still sleeping really well at night... no complaints there. I'm just not able to get through an entire day without some rest. Growing a baby is exausting.

My apologies, this post is pretty whiny. But the discomfort factor has really ramped up in past week. Nature must do this so you have reason to want the kid out when the time comes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

So two incomes might have been helpful...

Love me some NPR, but this story gave me pause.

It will cost $222,360 to raise a child to age 17. Whoa.

That figure includes housing costs (which we're paying anyway) and daycare (which we won't be needing), but still. That's a ton of money.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Restaurants? Who needs restaurants?

I'm a devoted foodie. I love going out to eat. I love fresh ingredients. I love trying new recipes. I just love food.

But our one-income status will soon put a serious damper on my foodie fun. No more super fancy artisan cheeses. No more restaurant meals. It will be a big change for me and my stomach.

So I'm super committed to giving myself the foodie experience at home and on a budget. In preparation, I made an incredible meal for Ben and I yesterday evening... lemon and caper grilled salmon, ricotta gnocchi with brown butter sauce, and roasted broccoli with lemon and basil. Delish!

The salmon ($9/pound at our local supermarket) made it a little pricey. But all in all, I made the entire thing for $10.80/person. Not too shabby.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Babies, babies everywhere!

Oh my gosh! So many new babies!

M had her darling little boy on June 3... Milo North (isn't that just the cutest?!?). And K had her sweet baby girl (5 weeks early!) on June 5... Claire Genevieve.

I'm so thrilled to have so many friends with new babies. Another new friend from my Bradley class is due in a few weeks. She's a cloth diapering, nautral childbirth, chemical-conscious, organic freak like me, so I think we'll have fun swapping baby tips. Right on.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What was I going to write about again?

Pregnancy brain is totally a real thing. Case and point: completely forgot about breakfast date with friends J and T this morning. Completely forgot. Even though we talked about it at least three times this past week. And I was really, really excited for a frittata.

Then today I got this little tidbit from my weekly What To Expect e-mail...

Forgetfulness: No wonder your brain feels especially foggy these days — hormones are wreaking havoc on your memory and your brain-cell volume actually decreases during the third trimester. Try not to take this temporary pregnancy symptom to heart — stressing about it will only cloud your pregnancy brain even more.

At least it's an actual documented problem. But it still makes you feel like a crazy person. Especially type-A, hyper-organized me. I never forget things.

So please don't hesitate to remind me of any plans we have. Chances are it's stuck somewhere between "maybe cloth diapers are a better option" and "what am I going to eat for lunch?"

Friday, June 4, 2010

Just because

Here's a list of things I love today...

1) Dresses with pockets. So fun and summery.
2) Summer hours. Our office works 1/2 day Fridays Memorial Day through Labor Day. Heaven.
3) My crazy dog. Even when she's naughty, you can't help but love her.
4) My crazy husband. Even when he's naughty, you can't help but love him.
5) The plans for our new deck. Construction starts next week. It's going to be awesome.
6) Fresh sheets. Crisp, cool, perfect.
7) Locally grown produce. The farmer's market opens on Saturday, and we get our first CSA box in 12 days. I can't wait.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sugar, sugar

I did my gestational diabetes test last night. Not too bad. You drink this super sugary liquid, wait an hour, then the lab tech draws some blood for a glucose reading. The liquid pretty much tasted like flat orange soda with an extra shot of corn syrup. But it was ice cold, so it went down fast.

I can ask about my results at my next appointment, but they'll only call me if my blood sugar reading comes back high. So no news is good news. I'm addicted to the cookies at Caramel Crisp Cafe, so here's hoping I'm diabetes-free.

We also saw the doctor last night (we decided to stay with our hospital and pay out-of-network, by the way). The baby's heartbeat is really strong (140s), and the doc was happy to see him moving so much. He's measuring about a week ahead of schedule, which confirms the doctor's suspicion that I might deliver a bit early (hooray!).

Speaking of deliveries, one of my oldest, bestest friends went into labor yesterday afternoon! I'm dying for an update. Boy or girl? How big? Agh!

She is also hoping for a waterbirth, so I can't wait for her full, unedited account of labor and delivery. She's been my pregnancy rock, sage and confidant. I'd strongly recommend having a good friend three months ahead of you if you decide to get pregnant. They've just experienced whatever you're going through, and have a ton of great advice. Hugs to you, M. I love you!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's your doctor worth to you?

Insert wrench here: I'm losing my health insurance on August 1. That's a whopping three weeks before the baby is due.

I'm not losing health coverage entirely... I will join Ben's plan when my own benefits expire. But my hospital and my doctor will now be considered out-of-network, so we'll be paying $2,000 more to have the baby if we stay where we're at.

We're entertaining the idea of switching hospitals and doctors to remain in-network. But the system covered by Ben's plan does not offer midwife care or waterbirth, which is pretty much the foundation of our entire labor and delivery plan. And at 28 weeks pregnant, I can't say I'm thrilled by the idea of changing doctors.

So is my doctor and birth plan worth an extra $2,000? Or should I just suck it up and make the switch? I'm not sure I have an answer yet.

Mom Guilt: It starts early

I swear I've had mom guilt from day one. Literally from the day I got the positive pregnancy test. I was elated for about 30 seconds, then distraught that I drank martinis with my co-workers three days prior. The horror! Only a terribly tragic mother would be unable to sense a tiny growing ball of cells in her uterus and curb her drinking appropriately.

As it turns out, practically every life decision is associated with some sort of pregnancy mini-crisis. You got the flu shot? Autism! You cleaned your bathroom with Clorox? Brain damage! You allowed minor home renovations? Lead poisioning!

On Sunday I used bug spray while hanging out in a friend's backyard. I just didn't want to be itchy, but failed to read the pregnancy skin care memo that proclaims DEET is the devil. I then spent a good portion of the following morning sobbing that I had irreversibly screwed up my baby.

And yesterday, I ate a ham sandwich. Sure did. Nitrates and listeria be damned. Sometimes I girl just wants a f'ing ham sandwich. It was good too. But wait... are those flu-like symptoms coming on? Do I have a fever? Why does my stomach feel like that? Damn you, delicious ham sandwich. Damn you.

Pregnancy is exausting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nope, that didn't feel good

Note to self: You are 7 months pregnant. Your body can no longer do everything you want it to.

Like lunge to grab Stella before she sprints over the see the neighbor's dog. Ouch. I forget that my growing belly makes fast movement and long extension difficult. Things just don't move like they used to.

I had some dull pain in my lower left side for a few hours yesterday, but everything feels good this morning. The baby has been moving like crazy since Saturday, so the strain didn't seem to bother him any. Still, a good reminder for mama to take it easy.