Weekend Wrap-Up

Jude’s sleeping which means I should be working on grading those essays I brought home with me, but I’m blogging instead.  I guess those papers won’t grade themselves, but I really, really wish they would.

When it comes to life as a teacher, the only thing better than summer is spring break, and it’s a week most of us start looking forward to in January.  All of my students have been asking me what I was going to be doing or where I planned to go, and my response was just that I wanted to catch my breath.  I feel like the past 3+ months have been a blur.  Five days a week of alarm at 5:15, race to get out the door in the morning, drop Jude off, race to school, teach, lunch, teach, race to get Jude, head home, sit down for a minute and play with the baby while Scott drives home, make dinner, bathe Jude, put him to bed, clean, relax for an hour, pack lunch and breast pump, sleep.  Repeat.

Doesn’t that sound fun?

So I really just wanted time to unwind and relax this week, and that’s primarily all I’ve done.  I always say things like “I just want to relax,” but in reality, I get totally disappointed if certain things (or no things at all) get accomplished.  So I woke up this morning feeling like here I was heading back to work, and I didn’t really get anything accomplished all week.  Then when I really thought about it and reflected on the week, I guess I did do a little here and there.  I’m such a listy person, and sometimes I think it feels so good, instead of making a to-do list before you do things, to make one after.  It makes me feel a little more productive…or fools me in to thinking I was productive.  Whatever.  It feels good.  So things I managed to accomplish over the past week?

  • I cleaned out my closet and switched my spring/summer wardrobe in while I packed away my heavy sweaters.  I also managed to set aside a large goodwill donation bag in this process.
  • I got a much-needed haircut, pedicure, and an eyebrow wax. I was quite behind in the personal maintenance department, and I didn’t even let a surprise flat tire get in my way on that one.
  • I met my teacher-friend and her adorable baby at the park on Tuesday for a luxurious middle-of-the-day, middle-of-the-week playdate.  We thought our two babies (born within a month of each other) were destined to be married, but they seriously cannot both stay awake at the same time.  It’s too funny; if he’s awake, she sleeps; if she’s awake, he sleeps.  My friend did manage to take this shot though.

  • We had Jude’s 6-month photo session earlier today.  This time we used Andrew Thomas Lee to do the session.  He was so nice and comfortable, and Jude loved him!  He hung out here at our house for about two hours and got a lot of great photos of Little Man.  Even when he was done, he hung around for a while and talked cameras and aperture and lenses and a bunch of other stuff I don’t understand with Scott.  I can’t wait to see the pictures!  [In related news, I have a 6 month old?  How did that happen?]
  • I cleaned out my pantry.
  • I cleaned out my freezer.
  • I made 26 ounces of apple babyfood.
  • I’m currently roasting sweet potatoes for more babyfood as I write this.
  • I did who-knows-how-many loads of laundry.  Does it ever go away?
  • I had the carpet steam cleaned.  It needed it so badly with our two muddy, rowdy dogs.
  • I’m trying out a new fish tacos recipe tonight.  We always order them when we go out but have never made them here.  I love trying new stuff in the kitchen, and finishing spring break with fish tacos and a beer on the porch sounds perfect.

Whew.  When I look at all of this in a list, I feel a little bit better.  So my resume didn’t get updated as I intended to do.  So I didn’t get those Shakespeare essays graded.  Oh well.  I did get something done, I guess.  What about you?  Make a list.  It’ll make you feel better.

[Edited to add:  While I was finishing this post, Jude woke up.  He was in that I-wanna-sleep, but-I-don’t-wanna-sleep state, so I lied down with him on the sofa to get him back down.  He cuddled that perfect baby-cuddle where they bury their head in your neck so you can smell their baby hair and feel their chubby cheeks at your collar-bone.  I fell asleep too, and we napped for a while.  I’ll add that one to my list of spring break accomplishments.  The top of the list actually.]


Boobs have been following me everywhere these last few days.  Seriously.  Or maybe I’m following them.  I don’t know.

Monday morning I awoke to a throbbing right boob as a result of a thrush problem we’ve been experiencing lately.  Jude has some oral medication for it, and my O.B. got something to me yesterday, so the wincing during feedings is disappearing already.

Additionally, I ran across this fabulous article yesterday and accidentally incited an Epic Facebook War by linking to it.  Apparently I’m a Lactation Nazi or something because I think 12% is an incredibly low number to breastfeed into the 6th month.  Anyway.  That’s neither here nor there, but have a look at it.  Some of it is stuff we all know, but the benefits of breastfeeding are presented in a dollar amount which I had never really thought of before.  It seems a little exaggerated perhaps, but I love that the piece ran in major newspapers and is getting mainstream exposure.  Maybe those LLL freaks know something after all.

Then, I ran across this gem earlier today that basically asserts that pumping on the job will ruin your career, so women should hang it up when they head back to work.  Ms. Ruth Mantell (who had a luxurious 6 month maternity leave, by the way) actually has the nerve to state, “While a can of premium formula comes with a premium price tag, feeding infants with formula uses less of one of mom’s most precious resources: time.” Ummmm, what? God forbid I spend TIME with my INFANT.  Everyone knows babies should never require any time, right?  Having managed to pump and work full-time for the past 14 weeks, I could write and write and write about this, but I’ve reached my boobie quotient for the week.

Tomorrow afternoon consists of a haircut (a daring one by my standards) and a pedicure.  Happily, no more pondering boobies for me.  They’re there.  I use them.  I’m happy to use them for the betterment of my baby’s health.  In summation, that’s all.  I’m boobied out.

Cloth Diapering 101

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about cloth diapering lately (mainly why, in God’s name, would you ever?), so I decided to write a little bit and explain a few things.

First there’s the why question.  The original thing that made me consider cloth was the cost.  We were fortunate enough to receive a lot of diapers from friends and family when I was pregnant, so we were stocked with disposables for the first 2-3 months.  Then as we neared month 4, we started having to buy them ourselves, and I realized that at least $40 a month would need to be budgeted for diapers.  The price goes up, by the way, as the diaper sizes do, so we’re looking at a good $1,500 or more before Jude is potty-trained.  Multiply that by an eventual baby #2 and it’s money that could certainly be put to better use.  Cloth diapers are a bigger expense up front, but $300 could really get you from birth to potty training, and most reviews I read state that the same diapers can be used for another baby, so you’re really looking at $150!

Once I started doing research, however, I realized that cost was really only the beginning.

Did you know that disposable diapers are the third largest contributor to landfills and that the average baby goes through approximately 4,000 diapers? Furthermore, we have no idea how long they take to decompose, but it’s estimated to be around 500 years.  Over 300 pounds of wood, and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to create the diapers for ONE baby for only ONE year.  Critics of cloth will say that it takes equal amounts of waste to launder and care for cloth diapers, but that’s not a logical argument.  Water is a sustainable resource, and many of us hang them on  clotheslines or drying racks to dry them.

Did you know that the EPA lists Dioxin as the most toxic of all cancer-causing chemicals, and there are traces of it in every disposable diaper?  There are numerous other chemicals in them as well, and a quick internet search can give you details on the environmental and health risks to using disposables.

Once I read all of this, I was leaning more toward going cloth all the time and not just sometimes as I first intended.  I was still unsure about the laundry element though.  I mean anyone with a new baby knows how much laundry you deal with.  I find myself staring at large piles every weekend feeling so overwhelmed, and I couldn’t imagine how I had time for more.  The thing I hate so much about laundry, though, is the sorting and the folding.  You have none of that with diapers.  You just dump them all in, run one cold wash, and then run a long hot wash and you’re good to go.  I dump them in the washer every other night when I get home from school and let the washing machine do the work for me.

If cloth diapers were as they used to be, I wouldn’t last a week, but the modern options for cloth diapering make the process so easy and so so cute!

Bumgenius pocket diapers are one of my current favorites.  They are adjustable, so Jude can use the same diaper from now till he’s potty-trained.  They are super absorbent and we’ve NEVER ONCE had a leak.  I can’t say that for disposables.

I also love Thirsties fitted diapers.  These require a waterproof cover over them, but they are so soft and so absorbent.  Jude can sleep comfortably and feel dry all night.

Lastly I love love love this diaper, but I’ve only got one.  It’s kinda pricey, but it’s one size so it’ll last for a while.At some point, I’ll probably get another for Jude as well.

Unfortunately, Atlanta doesn’t have a cloth diaper specialty store, so I do my shopping online.  Kelly’s Closet is my favorite to order from, but there are a million options offering so many different types of diapers for any mom’s preference.  There’s so much more I can say.  ( I LOVE cloth!) but that might be enough to get you started and answer any basic questions.  I’m still learning, but I love Jude’s little fluffy butt, and I love the feeling that I am making the best choice for Jude and the world we live in.

On the Bright Side

What a week it’s been.  In truth, there is much complaining I could do at the moment, but in an effort to be a bit more optimistic, I’m taking a look at the things that have brought a smile this week.

  • As of tomorrow at 4:00, it’s the last week before spring break!  I have (count ’em) FIVE days of school until we get a week off, and my only plans consist of playing with Jude, unwinding from an insane semester, and getting a much-needed pedicure and haircut.
  • Spring break approaching means it’s soon to be the end of the school year. This means I have (count ’em) THIRTY-FIVE school days until I am a full-time mama.  Words cannot express how excited I am or how blessed I feel about this opportunity to give more of myself to little Jude.
  • Wednesday brought a less-than-fun massive faculty meeting about the cuts in funding and “reductions in force” that are part of the plan for my school district and many others in the coming months.  That state of public education in this state is quite dismal, folks.  Politics of public education can drive a sane man crazy, and I left that meeting feeling so discouraged.  I did, however, find this little gem lovingly sketched on my dry-erase board the same afternoon.
In case you were wondering, this is me. (illustration by one of my ninth graders)

Moments like this are why teaching might be lots of things, but it’s never ever boring.  Even when we have to deal with the ridiculous and discouraging outside our classrooms, we can always shut the door to remember why we teach in the first place.   They might be crazy.  They might be annoying.  But kids are funny.  (And can I point out that I’m skinny and I’m obviously a very smart person who likes to read large books?  I’ll take it as a compliment, I guess.)

  • It was Free Pastry Day at Starbucks on Tuesday.  Woot woot!  Somehow the Cinnamon Chip Scone tastes even better when you didn’t pay for it.
  • Jude is finally rolling over! I mean if you had to lug that massive head and big belly around all day, you’d find it difficult too.  He’s been reaching and even sitting up unassisted for some time now, and my pediatrician assures me he’s just fine, but at almost 6 months, I was growing tired of the “is he rolling all over the place?’ questions and subsequent feelings of oh-my-god-i-think-my-baby-is-broken.
  • I received my FREE Bumgenius AIO this week in the mail!  I am a cloth diaper addict, and AIOs are pricey.  Free diaper in the mail = exciting.
  • Hang on for this one, there’s a spark of gratitude eventually.  I received the horrible news about the passing of a college friend’s husband this week. I grieve for her so much, and there really are no words to describe what it feels like to think of someone who is so kind and giving living a nightmare like this.  While her situation is tragic, it’s times like these that I’m grateful for my experience at a small college where classmates and community become family. Seeing the outpouring of love for Melissa from her former classmates, professors, university officials, and other alums makes me so grateful that I have this second family.  That said, the shock and grief right now is unimaginable.  She is in my every thought; please pray for her healing in this difficult time.  This is a reminder to love hard and live out loud.  Nothing is guaranteed.
  • I passed a church sign on the way to work this week that says, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” (C.S. Lewis)  Sometimes it’s the little things that can be a BIG reminder that you need.
  • Lastly, Atlanta has had some beautiful spring weather this week, and trees are in bloom.  Sunny barefoot porch times are on their way!

Homemade Baby Food

I’ve heard from so many people that making your own baby food is easy, so I was not hesitant at all to give it a try when Jude was ready for solid foods.  Last weekend, we started with pears and acorn squash, and this weekend I’ve added sweet potatoes and more pears since he loves them so much.  My sister told me about a great website that gives you recipes, and it couldn’t be easier.  I think a lot of moms are unsure about making your own baby food because it sounds time-consuming.  It really isn’t at all!  Working full-time, I find that weekends are a mad dash to finish tasks before Monday morning, and I still found the time to do it.  Your stove or oven and your blender do most the work, and you can make a freeze a large batch all at once, so it’s not like you have to do this numerous times throughout the week.

For pears, you just peel and slice them and place them in a pot on the stove.  Cook them on low heat for about 20-30 minutes or until they are fork tender.

Then you simply let them cool and then dump them in to the blender to puree.  After they are smooth, I pour them into ice-cube trays and let them set up in the freezer.  Once they are solid, pop them out in to a snack-size ziplock bag, and they can stay in your freezer until ready for use.  Each ice-cube is one ounce, so that gives you an idea of how much your baby is consuming as well.

For the acorn squash, I cut it in half down the middle, scooped out the seeds, and placed the halves, open sides down, in a Pyrex baking dish with about an inch of water in it.  Roast for one hour, scoop out the “meat” and place in the blender.  Sweet potatoes are similar.  Bake in the oven as you normally would, scoop out the potato, and blend until it’s smooth.  Squash and sweet potato both freeze well.  I added a little water to them in the blender in order to get the best consistency for Jude.

There are so many reasons to make your own food for your baby.  You know what’s in it and whose hands have touched it.  It’s also more cost efficient.  I spent about $7 on organic sweet potatoes, and it made this much food.

56 ounces of organic baby food!

The leading brand of organic baby food runs about 25 cents an ounce, so it’s a huge savings.  Most significantly, you get the satisfaction of making your baby happy.  For a lot of us, there is no better feeling than making something and watching someone happily devour it.  You can’t get that same feeling from purchasing a jar on a store shelf.  Here’s Jude enjoying some sweet potatoes soon after I made them.  He’s serious about his food!