Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How To: Boil Strip Cloth Diapers


It's that time again!  About every 6 months you are supposed to strip cloth diapers. It helps release built up detergent, ammonia build up and fixes any repelling issues you may be having. Some folks strip more often and some less often. There are a lot of variables that contribute to how often it needs to be done including whether you have hard or soft water, what kind of/how much detergent you use, how long you wait between diaper loads, how many diapers you wash at a time. It all sounds overwhelming, I thought so too before giving it a try myself, but it's rare that you have issues stemming from all of the variables at once so it's really not bad and remember, it's only every 6 months. If your child is in big kid underpants by the time he/she is 3, you've only stripped your diapers 6 times in 3 years.

There are a lot of ways to strip diapers and your biggest problem come stripping time will help you figure out which method will be best at that given time. For me this time (and last) we are having ammonia issues. I'd say it's because at my parents house I was going 3 days between diaper loads which gave them too much time to sit in the pale. I also think we have some detergent buildup since the detergent we use doesn't really bubble so it is hard to tell if I've gotten it all rinsed out or not. 

The last time I stripped our diapers, it *kind of* fixed our ammonia problem. It was better but not completely ammonia free. Every time I have researched stripping methods, boiling is always at the top and seems to be a tried and true method of the times but for some reason it intimidated me. Part of it was laziness, "Can't the washer just do it for me??" And the other part was skepticism, "Our washer water gets pretty hot, maybe a soak in there will do..." I decided to put those thoughts aside and go for it and I am so glad I did!

Here's how you do it:



1) Sort out all of your CLEAN inserts, covers, pre-folds, etc. 


2) Fill a couple of your biggest pots with water and bring them to a boil. Add 3-4 inserts per pot and set a time for 10 minutes.


Even though I suspected a detergent build up, I was kind of amazed at the suds that started showing up in the water. Even though I had rinsed and rinsed, even done multiple full hot wash cycles back to back, after just a few minutes of boiling the pots were filling with suds. 

3) Fill the sink with super hot water and drop in your covers. 


You can't boil your covers because that would melt your PUL (the waterproof material). 


This step could also be done in your bathtub or the washer. I chose the sink so I'd be working on everything in one room. Don't forget to agitate them with some tongs or a wooden spoon or something periodically. 

4) When the timer goes off, grab some tongs and a big bowl. Transfer the inserts from the boing water to the bowl and dump into your washer. 


I even went ahead and filled the washer with hot water so the already boiled inserts could get even more soaking time. 

5) Repeat with the remaining inserts, changing the water between each batch. While you continue on with steps 1-4 until all of your inserts are complete, take on some 10 minute tasks around the house. I did my hair and make up, folded some laundry, nursed Ayden and wrote this blog post. 



While I did all of that, Ayden did some of this:




6) Once you have boiled all of your inserts and your covers have had a decent amount of time to soak, run them through a hot wash cycle or two without any detergent so everything the boiling released has a chance to get agitated out and rinsed away. Then follow up with your standard cold rinse and line or dryer dry as usual. 

My advice would be to tackle this project on a day you plan to stay home for a better portion of the day and take it as an opportunity to get some of the little things that you keep putting off knocked off of your to do list. 

Boiling diapers in the kitchen may not be for everyone but consider these thoughts before letting the yuck factor sink in:

1) You are starting out with clean diapers. 
2) Boiling, especially for as long as 10 minutes, sanitizes anything. 
3) You could always run your pots and such through a sanitizing cycle on your dishwasher if you feel like getting things ultra sanitized. 

I will update in a week or two to let you know if this method totally kicked our ammonia problem or not. Happy Stripping!

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "It's Official!"


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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Growth Spurts

You know your toddler is having a growth spurt when...

Ayden's current favorite thing to do!
Walk up the driveway, hunting for horses and collecting rocks.
1) He goes back to two naps a day and sleeps even better at night.

2) He eats like he has been starving to death at every meal. I mean he SHOVELS it in!

3) You have to let out a rise snap on all of his cloth diapers (or go the next size up with 'sposies)

4) You spend a day discovering that everything that was out of reach yesterday needs to be moved up another inch or two. 

5) Your child can not only reach the door knobs but can close his little fist around them (Luckily he can't turn the doorknob or reach the deadbolt...yet...)

6) Your back starts aching all of the sudden when you carry him.  Don't worry though,  your mommy muscles adjust and get even stronger and it'll stop hurting in no time.

7) Despite all that he is eating, he looks lean and his legs look extra long. 

1 month to 18 months.
Growing must be really hard work!

No matter how much we want to make it stop, our babies are growing up on us. It is sad to say goodbye to each chapter but so exciting to see what he next one holds. 

What are the tell tale signs of a growth spurt in your house?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Hunting For Treasures "


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To the Dentist

I had to get a couple of cavities filled today and it was no fun!  We may not eat much refined sugar but that doesn't mean we don't enjoy plenty of nature's candy. We eat plenty of fruit, honey and maple syrup and to cavity causing bacteria, sugar is sugar.

David left work early to hang out with Ayden during my appointment.
I've always been lazy about taking care of myself. I never wash my makeup off at night, I do brush my teeth but never for the recommended amount of time and flossing?  That typically only happens when something is stuck between my teeth. I have always told myself, "this will catch up with you someday." And I suppose I was right. Now that I am pushing 30 it seems as though I can't just rely on genetics to keep things healthy. We are already eating well which is the first recommendation for preventative medicine and dentistry.  Now it is time to put forth that extra effort to keep my entire body healthy. Not just for me but for my kids and grand kids. I found out about my cavities about a week ago at my routine cleaning. The dentist explained that it is common for people to start getting more cavities as they get older. She said that they have patients who never floss, hardly brush and never see a cavity as well as patients who brush and floss religiously only to have a cavity filled at every visit. It seems as though some people are just more genetically susceptible to cavities than other.  The thing is,  I never had cavities until my pregnancy and it seems like ever since then I've had at least one at every visit. Perhaps pregnancy can forever change the balance of bacteria, ph, saliva and such in your mouth?  

It has also gotten me doing some research as I always tend to do. We use alternative methods to heal other illnesses, is there anything that will natural heal cavities and tooth decay?  I have found a book called Cure Tooth Decay that has been an interesting read. It discusses how to heal tooth decay with nutrition which is right up our ally. I also spoke with our naturopath who recommended an alternative dentist. Without even seeing me they recommended a few things and advised that I go ahead and get these cavities filled since they will continue to grow and could eventually cause other problems (as long as they are not mercury fillings) and to take better preventative measures in the future. 

That is exactly what I plan to do. We use floss picks on Ayden's teeth so I have been using them on mine twice a day since I found out about the cavities.  The reason I never flossed before was because I found it a burden to pull out such a long piece of floss, wind it around my fingers and then end up with floss all over the place after Ayden discovers it all in the trash can. The floss picks make flossing so muh more convenient. 


I also like how you can use the opposite end to scrape off any tarter build up on the gum line. Along with flossing, I've also been brushing for longer. I've always heard the saying, only floss the teeth you want to keep and I shall take that saying seriously from now on. 

Now that I have changed my evening routine up a bit, I go ahead and wash and moisturize my face before bed now too. It feels so nice to go to bed with a clean, tingly face. 

With any luck, I'll be able to prevent any additional cavities from forming. They are a waste of money (our dental Insurence only covers a portion of the cost) and I really hate the fact that they drill away at some of your healthy tooth only to fill it with an artificial substance. Sure, they don't use mercury but do the fillings contain anything else that may slowly poison you over time?  It just doesn't feel right to me...

Do you find that you are more prone to cavities after pregnancy?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Keeping Things Basic"


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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Taste Of Fall

We had a very mild weekend.  It rained a little bit early in the day yesterday but other than that it has just been pleasant. Today the weather was absolutely perfect and almost felt Fall like. I think David felt it too because he made a comment about being ready for football season to start.

David's grandmother, aunt, brother, sister-in-law and nephew were all visiting. We went out to eat together on Friday, they came to the Farmer's market with us Yesterday morning then we had a cookout with them last night. I also attended the baby shower for Ayden's birthday buddy yesterday afternoon and then we had a maternity photo shoot for them today.

After everyone left, we checked on our bees and added queen excluders to their hives (so the queens don't lay eggs where our honey will be) and went for a swim. 



For dinner, I used tomatoes from our garden to make tomato sauce from scratch for the very first time and it turned out great!  

Our weekend was busy but it was filled with time spent with people we love. A weekend full of love is a good weekend in deed. 

And now Ayden will serenade you with his rendition of "Row Row Row Your Boat." Enjoy!



What did you do this weekend?  What's the weather like where you live?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Swing High"


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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Making Stuff Up

What is this world we are in?  Ayden used to be such a light sleeper. If he fell asleep in his carseat we couldn't even turn off the car without waking him, let alone transfer him from carseat to stroller and back or from his carseat to his bed. Now, a year and a half later the time has come where we can stop tip toeing around our sleeping baby. When he sleeps, he sleeps hard. We can transfer him in and out of his carseat and move him to his bed. He may stir a little but settles back in without even nursing. It. is. amazing.

He took two naps today. For the first one he fell asleep on the way to the farmers market and finished his nap in his stroller. 


When he woke, he made sure we were there and then settled in and enjoyed some quiet people watching. 

For his second nap, he fell asleep at home but we had to go to David's parents for a cookout so into the carseat we moved him. 


This really is new territory for us. You always see parents carrying sleeping children in from the car on movies and all this time we thought it was Hollywood making stuff up. Now we know that even a light sleeper can grow into a child who will stay asleep, even when being moved!

Is your baby a light sleeper?  What lengths do you go to to keep him/her asleep?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Crawl Watch 2012"


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Hat Day

I just got done mentioning all of those hats the other day and today was a perfect example of having to juggle them all. First and foremost come the wife, mom and homemaker hats. They are the hats that I keep on me at all times because they best define who I am during this season of my life. 


The next hat I put on was my sister hat when I went into the dance studio at 10 am to work on a deposit for my sister. She is out of town and didn't get a chance to run it before she left so I marked it off of her list for her. 

Napping while Mommy works.
Next up was the dance teacher hat because I had a half hour solo make up class. When I got done teaching, I finished the rest of the deposit, drove it to the bank and went home for lunch. While we were there, Polly decided to eat for the first time in three days. I got to take off my pet owner hat after I called the vet to cancel her 4:00 appointment that I made out of concern for her decreased appetite. Thanks for the free pass, Polly!  While Ayden was strapped into one place enjoying his lunch, I straightened up the downstairs of the cottage. Then I traded my homemaker hat for my beekeeper hat and drove 20 minutes to the beekeeping supply store to purchase queen excluders for the hives.  We will put them on the hives on Sunday and they will keep the queens from working their way up and laying eggs in our honey supers. Soon after we got home, David came home from work and played with Ayden while I slipped onbmy favorite me hat. I took a hot, quiet shower, fixed my hair and did my makeup. I even put on my favorite summer dress. Some of David's side of the family are in for a visit so had dinner with them. It was SOOO good! The weather was perfect and Ayden was a joy to all the whole time.

Shew!  It was a fun day and though having lots of hats can be overwhelming sometimes, they are also what fill my life with LIFE!  I enjoyed today from start to finish.  I wouldn't trade any of them for the world!

Do you ever have days where you end up wearing all of your hats at once?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Big Boy Toys"


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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hog Heaven

When Ayden was a newborn I had hopes that he'd be an animal lover like me. It is safe to say that it has happened. The sight of an animal, or any creature for that matter, lights up his life. He has taken it upon himself to feed and water our pets anytime the opportunity arises and has a fit when we explain that we have already fed them. He doesn't understand their one scoop twice a day schedule...  He even reminds me to feed the fish and makes a lip smacking sound when he sees the fish gobbling down its food.

She's such a good sport...
He still likes story time but doesn't care much to play afterward. As soon as it is over, he is making a b-line to go feed the ducks in the pond behind the shopping center. 


And farm animals. Oh. my. goodness. Does this child LOVE farm animals!  We visited another local farm last night and he was in hog heaven. 

Literally...



This boy was born for farm life!  We can't wait to see his delight when we get our laying hens. Hopefully before long we'll have our own eggs as well as some new entertainment for the whole family!

Was there anything you hoped your child would love and now they do?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Christmas In July?"

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

World's Best Chicken Seasoning!

We eat a lot of chicken at our house. We probably have it for dinner 2-3 times a week. It is on the cheap side as far as animal protein goes as well as being a leaner option. We also like to keep what we call "snack chicken" in the fridge. Since we don't eat grains and try not to overload on fruits, nuts and seeds, we like to have our snack chicken as a quick and easy protein option. We have found a chicken seasoning mixture that we love so much that we have to share.


Okay, so I don't know if it's really the WORLD's best, but it's pretty darn good.  Here's the ingredient line up:

Celtic Sea SaltBlack PepperOnion PowderPaprikaGarlic PowderChili Powder
(click on each spice to read about it's nutritional benefits!)
We never measure anything, we just sprinkle as we go. We are always very generous with the Paprika. It gives it a sweet, smokey flavor as well as a warm, appetizing color. You'll also want to keep in mind that some chili powders will add heat so use your better judgement with that one. 

We typically use this mixture on ground chicken thigh (any ground meat is perfect finger food for a toddler! Just don't break it up too small.) or boneless, skinless chicken thighs. To be honest, we've never used this mixture on breast meat so no guarantees there. Breast meat gets a little too dry for our taste and we have to smother it in some sort of sauce and that wouldn't make for very convenient snacking... For the ground chicken, we just brown it in the skillet with some coconut oil (or whatever oil you like) and if we are cooking up the thighs we use our trusty Forman Grill. 


Sometimes we'll use this seasoning on some thighs for dinner and cook them on the grill. While they are grilling, David brushes them with a honey/apple cider vinegar mixture and the result is sweet and spicy and SO finger licking good. We like to pair it with cilantro lime acorn squash. Oh man, my stomach is growling just thinking about it!  The spices in the chicken seasoning and the flavors in the squash mirror each other making the perfect meal. 

Next time you make chicken, I hope you give this seasoning combo a try. You won't regret it.
What's your favorite way to cook chicken?  Any secrets to preventing chicken breasts from dying out??

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what were up to one year ago today: "Ayden's Favorite Things: 6 Month Edition"

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Love Letters

Last night, after we put Ayden to bed, David and I got out our memory boxes. One of them is a box I covered with love related words clipped from magazines and pictures of us, the other is a huge shoe box. They are both filled to the brim with almost every card, letter, poem, mixed CD, and movie stub that we've accumulated over the years. We played one of the mix CDs and had a great time sifting through the memories.




Before text messaging...


Had our photos morphed into our future child at Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum in Gatlinburg, TN.
Does he look anything like Ayden??  Haha.  
There were a lot of dance pictures too from old proms, homecomings, etc.

My Jr. prom.
We enjoyed reminiscing and it got us talking about how our relationship has evolved over the years. Things we love about it, how it has changed (for better and for worse) and things we could work harder for. 

Here is the poem that started it all.  17 year old David picked a rose from his mom's rose garden, wrapped this poem around it and drove it over on a whim.  And now here we are today!  He's always known how to sweep me off my feet.
For how much we have been through just since Ayden's arrival, we have somehow been able to maintain a great level of closeness: Ayden's sleep troubles for the first year and newborn fussiness, moving and figuring out our next step, juggling parenthood and David's full time job, all while starting our farm adventure and still striving to be the parents and spouses we set out to be. We have had so many wonderful moments, as well as a lot of stressful ones, but we started strong and have remained strong. But remaining strong doesn't mean that we still put forth enough energy and effort to be as lovey dovey as the people we found in these boxes. We have both maintained a desire to keep one another as #1 and as long as that stays true we'll be able to keep the flame going, no matter what we encounter along the way. 

Reading all of the notes and poems that we wrote in high school reminded us that with just a little extra effort, it is possible to maintain the love bird status of high school sweethearts. Who says that, just because you are married with kids, you can't strive for that? We spent the day today sending sweet texts and calling just to hear the other's voice. It was fun and we could feel the positive energy that the extra effort kindled between us all through our evening together as well. We decided to set aside Monday nights to put household to do's on hold, turn off our computers and phones and just focus on each other.  Playing a game, giving each other massages or even just simply hanging out and talking like best friends do.  Uninterrupted, 100% focused, and growing even closer all the time.

As parents, we wear a lot of hats. I am myself, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a pet owner, a beekeeper, a homemaker, a dance teacher, etc, etc. During different seasons of our lives some hats may be bigger than others but for me, those first three are the most crucial and it is important to find and maintain a proper balance between them all. I think the best thing to do may be to sit down at the end of your day and reflect on all of your relationships. Ask yourself, "Was I true to myself today?  Was I the mother I wanted to be?  The wife I wanted to be?  Are there any changes I'd like to make for tomorrow?" Then just take it one day at a time. Do your best, show yourself some grace and remember, tomorrow is always a new day. 

Do you and your sweetie have a memory box?  How often do you go through it together?  

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Beware of Baby Trainers"


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Monday, July 22, 2013

We Have A Parrot

Ayden has become a parrot overnight. It was like the 18 month mark flipped a switch in his expressive communication abilities.


Up until yesterday, he had a decent list of words. Some were actual words, others his own version, but he was communicating consistently with this set of words. It is so interesting because his use of that list of words decreased and his babbling jibberish picked up big time. He'd be carrying on full conversations with us, hand gestures and all, and none of it made any sense to us. We only were hearing actual words when he really needed something. Then today while Ayden was taking his bath, out of nowhere, our cat Polly walks in and clear as day he says, "Hi, Kitty!"  He had developed hi into the actual word hi rather than his cute little, "Ha" that he'd been saying with a southern drawl. He had also put the end sounds on hot, hat and help (we are seeing an /h/ theme here...). So up to date, he has strung two words together on just a few occasions. He has said, "Where Daddy" only one time and never again. He has said, "I pee pee" a few times and now "Hi Kitty."  He also says, "No no no" but we don't really count that since it is just the same word over and over again.

Ever since he said hi to Polly so clearly and enthusiastically, I started asking him to say all kinds of things. This is a game that we play often already but we kicked it up a notch today. As of yesterday when we'd play, Ayden would match our tone and the number of syllables but stuck with /b/ and /d/ consonant sounds as if he was attempting a word he didn't know how to say. When we played today he would match tone, syllables and would try to match sounds!  By the end of the day he had repeated teeth (teet), floss (foff), eye, belly button (be be, he used to say tee tee so that's progress), and possibly a few more that I can't remember. 

What a fun jump in development we witnessed today!  



Did your little one have a language burst right at 18 months?  

~Sarah

Flashback: Here's what we were up to a year ago today! "Night and Day"


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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Farmstead Field Trip

Happy 18 month birthday to Ayden! We traveled three hours to visit a really awesome farm today. We talked and relaxed with the folks who run it, got a tour, used the outhouse, saw a lot of animals and really cozy cabins. They have 150 acres and counting, run a CSA program and are off the grid (they have solar panels for their cabin). It was pretty amazing to see. It was the most magnificent playground for their kids with all of the animals, a creek, woods and pastures to explore. Their oldest was in charge of the ducks and has been since he was 5. He takes care of them and collects their eggs around 6:00 every morning. He sells the eggs at the Nashville farmer's market for $7/dozen and gets to keep all of his earnings. He showed us all of the ducks, caught a duckling for Ayden to see up close and touch then talked to us for a long while about all of the different kinds and all of their names. It was amazing to see such a young kiddo so passionate and knowledgable about something. His mother told us that, "whatever they are drawn to, just say yes. He seems to be drawn to poultry so we got him ducks."  It is obvious that it has taught him so much from the responsibility of caring for them to science of learning so much about their species to money and math with his selling them at the market. Hands on learning at its very best. 










I wonder what Ayden's farm interest will be, or if he'll even have any at all. We can't wait to see everything he becomes passionate about all throughout his life. Right now I'd say it is animals of all kinds. He SERIOUSLY loved the ducks today and kept herding them around, giggling. Perhaps he'll have some to take care of in a few years too. 




What are your kids passionate about at the moment?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to a year ago today: "6 Months Old!"



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Saturday, July 20, 2013

5 Happy Things: Summer Time

It was a beautiful, hot summer day here in the bluegrass.  We met great friends at the farmer's market and spent a lot of quality family time together.  We had plans to go to the pool but after Ayden took his monster afternoon nap, and we helped David's parent's do a couple of things at their house, we just ran out of time.  Even without the refreshing swim, as I sit down and reflect on the day I am feeling happy. No better time to post about 5 happy summer time things that I am enjoying at the moment.:

1) The skies here!  During the day, clouds have been big and puffy.  The sky itself so blue!  The sunsets have been so colorful too.



This one doesn't show it very well but it was lavender and pink.  

2) The farmer's market.  Here is David's paparazzi shot of Ayden and I relaxing in the shade, sharing a blackberry, orange smoothie today.  Such a refreshing combo!  We've been getting almost all of our groceries from the local folks at the farmers market (and our garden) for the past few weeks.  We are so happy to support the little guys and hope to join their ranks someday.

Anyone else like chewing on straws??
3) A window full of ripening tomatoes!  This SCREAMS summer to me because my mom always did this when I as a kid.  We pick the tomatoes that are too close to the ground a little early so that they don't rot before they ripen.  We set them in the window sill and the sun finishes the job from there.  Can't wait to eat them!


4) This homemade chocolate bar recipe.  You have to store it in the freezer so it is a perfect summertime cool treat!


5) Ayden.  Everything about him.  I love his blossoming imagination.  I love how he gets us outside so much.  I love how much he loves bugs and animals.  I love how enthusiastic he is about life and how well he is sleeping these days.  His giggles, his hugs and how much he is starting to talk. Even his toddler tantrums because they are a symbol of his realizing that he is an individual, apart from us.  I could go on and on, as most moms could I'm sure.  He's just amazing and is making this summer the best summer ever. I'm sure each year will only get better!  Sometimes I take a step outside of my everyday mommy life and look at him in amazement.  After I put him to bed, before I get up and get on with my evening, I take a couple of minutes to watch him sleep.  There is something so magical about a sleeping toddler. I guess it is how a little person with so much energy can be so still and peaceful. It has to be magic to achieve that! I was watching his long eyelashes as they twitched in dream land and thought,  "He is ours.  We get to keep him," which is something we said to each other a lot in the early days. We get to watch him grow and very soon will be hearing his thoughts about it all.  We have tough days, we have amazing days, we have days in between.  The best part of all of those days is that we are a family and we get to experience all of it together.  


The saying is true: the days go slow but the years go fast.  I am trying to cherish every moment.  Thanks for coming along.

What are your 5 happy summer things at the moment?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to this time last year: "Chomp Chomp"


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