Saturday, March 31, 2012

Preparing the Seedlings

I love plants. I love watching things grow and flourish, especially when they start out as a tiny little seed. 


We purchased our house in April of 2010, and we started a garden that very year. I had been doing my garden research for a few months (yes, even before we had the house) and had a rough sketch of raised garden beds that I would want for growing vegetables. My awesome, and ever-so-handy, husband built the beds for me and spent LOTS of energy filling them with dirt. Poor thing. This is a picture of what it looked like in June of 2010, when I had put my seedlings in the ground. 



We are pregnant this year, so I am not being as daring with my garden. I'm not sure how much time I will have to take care of it, but I definitely want some of our basics that we can enjoy this summer. Also, I think it will be fun while I'm on maternity leave (assuming I have a few free moments) and that I would be sad that I didn't do it in case I do have the time. We will see!

I figured I would show how I do my seedlings, on the cheap! Now seedlings may not be the most expensive thing ever, but I do enjoy feeling that I'm saving a few bucks anyway. 

Materials: 
Toilet Paper Rolls
Potting Soil
Plastic Trays ($.33 each)
Ribbon/yarn/etc
Scissors
Sharpie
Seeds, varying depending on your preference

How to: 
The first step is to cut into the toilet paper rolls by about 1/2" every 1/2" around the edge (of only one end) like so: 


Next you start at one tab and fold it inside of the roll, and move to your right pushing each tab in. This creates a spiral at the bottom, where the tabs all overlap. When the roll is stood up straight, the tabs will be pushed flush with the plastic tray. This will close the bottom so that the dirt doesn't fall out. Here is a picture to show the folded tabs, prior to filling with dirt. 


Mark each roll with the name of the plant that it will now be housing, using the Sharpie. Next you will put as many rolls as possible into the plastic tray, and tie them together with ribbon, yarn, whatever you have available to you. This is key because it keeps the rolls up straight, otherwise they will tip over. Now you can fill them with dirt. I try to fill them about 1/2 way or 3/4 of the way with the potting soil. 

The fun part! The actual planting! Follow the directions on the seed packets, some need to be about 1/4" deep, some 1" deep. Follow the directions, and cover up the seeds as directed. Of course, make sure that the seed packet matches up with the name of the plant that you wrote on the side of the roll. 

Water the seedlings, and place in a sunny area. If you have a plastic cover to keep over them, even better! Here is a picture of my first batch (from 2010): 


A few things to point out. 
  • Keep them moist to ensure that they germinate, but you do not want to grow any mold. Be careful about the amount of water you use, just keep an eye on it. 
  • The paper roll will hold the dirt in, but once the seeds sprouts roots they may come through. This is fine, and you want this to happen as they grow. You will end up planting these directly into the ground, and the paper roll will help protect the roots from weeds growing in but still allow your plant's roots to grow out of the paper roll. The paper roll will eventually rot away and you won't even know it was there. 
  • When you finally do plant these, you will want to cut the paper roll to be flush with the top of the dirt. If you do not do this, you will be trapping water inside and cause the seedling to rot. You want to allow the water to move along the surface of your garden as usual. 
  • You will want to "harden" these seedlings outside before planting, as you would with other seedlings. Just think of these as living in a different little paper roll house. 
I will try to post updates as my seedlings progress. Hopefully they will take off this year, you never know. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!! If you're curious, this is a picture of those same seedlings above (planted 6/16/10) a month later, on 7/15/10. 


PS - Thank you to Ashley and David for helping me this year! And to Dawnelle for venturing into seedlings with me this year. It will be fun! 



Friday, March 23, 2012

Tar Poop Diapers: The Bet

My husband and I partake in a football (American football, to be clear) pool every season. It is quite fun. Of course, it becomes rather competitive between the two of us. My husband bets more on his gut and football knowledge, and I go more on stats (who would have guessed?) and other silly things (like who is at home, streaks, etc). This pool makes football ten times more exciting to watch. It also makes my husband fun to watch. He gets all worked up, screaming, running around the house (no, I'm not kidding), pulling his hair (no, I'm not kidding here either), and needing to go outside to calm down in the cold winter air. He really wants to win. Poor thing (love you!! haha). 

When we started the season, we decided to make a bet based on total wins for the year. We knew that we were pregnant at the time, so what better wager than the tar-poop diapers??? We agreed that the loser would have to change the tar poop diapers when the baby arrived. We have heard that these are the worst diapers that a parent will face. The diaper that will make or break a first-time parent. The stuff of legend.

So in case you didn't guess (based on our results from the prior year), I won the bet. Sean wins the tar poop diapers! We are just so excited about this! This is line number 14 in the birth plan! Woo hoo! Stay tuned, we'll be sure to let you know how this goes!

Note: This is all in jest of course. We understand that the nurses may change the first diaper. I might be too tired in the hours right after birth, so I may not have been able to do it if I lost. Oh, and I know that when we have our baby that neither of us will mind changing a yucky diaper. Yes, I know. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I Love Being Pregnant


I don't want to come off as gushing here, but I do love being pregnant. The beginning wasn't fun, and I'm  expecting (based on stories I've heard) that the end won't be fun either. I wanted to write this post to share with others while I'm still in the "awesome" stage of pregnancy, because I'm already a few weeks into the third trimester. I'm told that any day now I will be DONE with pregnancy and want "it" out. So let's enjoy the happy moment while it lasts, shall we?

I love being pregnant. I love that this huge miracle is going on within my body. Although I can't actually see what is going on there, it's so fun to read about what is going on with the baby every day. It's like I'm getting insights into the progress of the big mystery, rather than wait until the end of the 40 weeks to see the result. Also known as, THE BABY.

I love feeling the baby move inside of me. I have loved this since the very first time I noticed it. I was driving to work while enjoying my morning OJ (yes, the stuff that makes babies go crazy) when I started feeling a tap in my stomach. It was bizarre! I started bawling my eyes out while driving 65 mph. I can't explain how intense it was. I had known that I was pregnant for weeks, yes. I had seen ultrasound pictures. I had heard the heartbeat. But the baby was REALLY inside of me now! I had been waiting for it to register in my head (my husband thought I was nuts) for weeks, and this did the trick. It was amazing. This little person was moving around, growing inside of me. Beautiful. I had to call my husband immediately and tell him all about it. Luckily my initial thoughts of the feeling related to him well, as he is a musician. It felt like someone tapping on a microphone while you're in the crowd. That dull vibration that hits your whole body? Well that's what I felt, but in a very small and focused part of my belly. I loved it. Of course in the weeks since, the movements of the baby feel much different. Sean was able to feel the movements about 6 weeks later, and he was so sad that he couldn't feel it when I could. We have been able to actually see the baby move for a couple of months.

Being pregnant makes boring and stressful times more bearable. Someone is screaming at me, and you know what, I don't really care. I have a little bundle of joy swimming around right beneath my hand. I'm yawning my head off in a meeting (yay exhaustion) and can't keep my eyes open, until the baby wakes up and starts moving around. Now I'm smiling and/or giggling. The small things don't bother me so much now, because something huge is going on in my life. This baby gives me a positive focal point, and I've loved educating myself about pregnancy, child birth, breastfeeding, babies, mothering, diapers, etc. 

I love how my husband looks at me. Now to be clear, I've always loved how my husband looks at me. There is no doubt when he looks at me that he loves me, and I cherish that. But now that we are pregnant, WOW. He has this new sparkle in his eyes, a new sense of pride, and a definite look of excitement. I've known for years that he would love being a father, and that he was looking forward to it. But having it become a reality has really shown me how much it means to him. Learning, planning, dreaming, all of that is so much fun to do with him. We are both so excited for this new adventure!


I feel beautiful. I don't know why. I have this new sense of awareness, related to being a woman and being able to harbor this little miracle. Apparently I am glowing. A lot of it probably has to do with my positive attitude lately, as I'm generally very happy and usually smiling since becoming pregnant.

I love that I don't have to suck in anymore. It's okay to have a belly now, healthy even! Not that I was huge, but I wasn't a skinny girl. Having to suck in your belly (yes, you know what I'm talking about, don't act like you don't do it) is kind of exhausting, and it's awesome when you don't have to anymore! Maternity pants? I might continue to wear them until it's acceptable to wear a mumu all of the time .

Now for the bad stuff… so that I don't sound like a complete liar by saying that pregnancy is always awesome. Morning sickness sucked, I was miserable from weeks 6-12. I was exhausted and felt sick from morning til night, oh and through the night as well. I would sit at work, nursing a cup of hot water and ground ginger while snacking on Saltines, just counting the hours until I could leave. It was miserable. I learned several ways to reduce the symptoms (thank goodness) but it was still miserable.

The crazy breast swelling wasn't fun (well at least not for me). Tons of pain in the first trimester, had to wear a sports bra at all times to help minimize it. Sleeping in a sports bra, not so fun. But hey, it worked! Walking hurt less, stairs hurt less, even breathing hurt less with the help of a sports bra. It was amazing!

 Since about week 12 I haven't been able to sleep more than two hours at a time. My hips are hurting so much that I have to switch sides (I stopped sleeping on my back at 3 months rather than 4 to be prepared for the cut-off date… better safe than sorry!) every couple of hours, so I haven't slept long. Now when people ask about my sleep and I tell them this, they feel bad for me. My response? I'm getting used to not sleeping through the night, I better get used to it. That's life for the next few years. Right? Hey, might as well get used to it now, and not when I have a little munchkin relying on me being alert and able to function. Interested in more information on the lack of sleep that comes along with children? Check out this blog entry from a fellow blogger.

Fatigue. Bad. The first trimester, and it has started to come back again for the third. I must say here though, that I couldn't have made it without my husband. He is awesome and he has picked up a lot of slack at home, and took care of me very well. He was a life saver, and I will always remember how much his help and support meant in those tough weeks. If women have an issue with this, a book Sean bought seemed to help him understand what I was going through, and that I wasn't just whining all of the time. The book is named The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash.   

Acne. Everywhere. Worse than in my teen years. That's all I want to say about that. Yuck.

Back pain. Yup, it has started in the last couple of weeks. Honestly, I'm thrilled that my back has held up as well as it has. If you know me well, you know about my bad back and my back surgery a few years ago. I was afraid that I would be on bed rest halfway through my pregnancy because of my back, but I'm doing very well so far! Knock on wood.

All in all, I really do love being pregnant. I'm part of an online mommy-to-be group, which has also helped me a lot. In the beginning of our pregnancies, we were this big group of excited mommies. After a few days, women started saying good-bye because they had miscarried. It was awful. So sad. I would cry every day reading the pain of these women as they lost their little one. It made me feel so lucky. Even on the worst day of dry-heaving over the toilet, I was still grateful that I was even experiencing that horrible feeling of nausea. Because you know what? Feeling like hell for 6 weeks is worth that little baby that will soon come. Remembering all of those women (and those in the group that continue to have issues) makes me feel grateful for each moment I have in this pregnancy.

When someone asks how I am doing, sometimes they seem annoyed that I'm so positive in my responses. I don’t understand why, but they do. Like, "You're having a good pregnancy!?! Mine was hell!!" My pregnancy is easy in my opinion, but it may also be my frame of mind that makes it seem so easy. I'm grateful for every moment of it. The good and the bad. But of course, holding our baby in my arms for the first time will leave no question in my mind that this was worth it. Oh, and yes, I'm already looking forward to being pregnant again…

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Super Easy Sticky Buns

Sometimes it's great to find a recipe that you can handle using only what's already in your pantry and/or fridge. This was one of those for me, I found it online and was preparing it for breakfast 15 minutes later. 

Super Easy Sticky Buns

Ingredients: 
2 small tubes Pillsbury biscuits
3 tbsp melted butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup pancake syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
1. Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray. You can use a bundt pan, or a simple bread pan like I used. 
2. In one bowl, mix the melted butter and the syrup. 
3. In a second bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and almonds. 
4. Pour half of the syrup mix into the bottom of the pan.
5. Pour half of the brown sugar mix into the bottom pan. 
6. Place the biscuits in the pan, one layer deep, making sure that the biscuits are evenly spread. 
7. Pour the rest of the syrup mix on top of the biscuits.
8. Pour the rest of the brown sugar mix on top of the biscuits. 
9. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. After about 20 minutes, check the biscuits every 5 minutes. You want to make sure they are fully cooked but not overdone or burning. 
10. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. 
11. Turn the pan over onto a plate, and enjoy! 



Please note: These are not super-healthy, but they are super-delicious! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cloth Diapering: my reasoning

I have wanted to cloth diaper since before I became pregnant. Now that I'm pregnant, it comes up sometimes in conversation. People seem so perplexed by the idea, and it honestly cracks me up. Quite often it goes like this: 
Me: I'm actually planning to cloth diaper the baby.
Them: Really? (with a face like they have a sour candy in their mouth)

My favorite is when a woman who is over 50, and used cloth diapers 30 years ago, acts like I'm nuts. This has actually happened several times, as if they have memory loss. "You're washing the diapers in the washer? Really? Isn't that gross?" Well, not really, much less gross than your washer probably ran 30 years ago. But of course I don't say it like that. 

I don't understand the need to judge people that cloth diaper. I don't judge you if you use disposable diapers. To each his own and all that. But I must admit, I may end up judging your baby. But only because my baby's butt will look so much cuter in a cloth diaper than your baby's butt in a disposable one. Way cuter! (I'm kidding, I won't judge your baby.)

So, why do I want to cloth diaper? Well there are several reasons: the environment, the health of my baby, and money. I've done a lot of reading, in lots of different places. I've spoken with many women who cloth diaper. I'll explain the reasons that I have seen, but of course I can't guarantee 100% accuracy as I pulled this information from books, articles, blogs, and discussions. 

I am one of those people that feels horrible throwing a plastic bottle in the trash, instead of recycling it. At my work they don't have a recycling bin for cardboard, so I bring my cardboard waste home to recycle at home. Granted, I'm not the most environmentally-friendly girl around, but I try. The fact that disposable diapers are the #3 item found in landfills bothers me. The fact that it takes 500 years for a disposable diaper to break down bothers me. Just throwing a disposable diaper in the trash will bother me. I don't want to do it. But that's me. 

 
Photo courtesy of http://dirtydiaperlaundry.com/disposable-diapers-according-to-willy-wonka/

I have asthma and weird allergies to lotions/scents/etc (and my husband has seasonal allergies), so I am assuming that there is a strong possibility that my child will as well. Cloth diapers (should) have less of a chance of giving your child diaper a rash, and less of a chance of irritating their skin. The baby will need to be changed more often because of the cloth diapers, but this will be a healthy thing in my mind. Also, children that wear cloth diapers are typically potty-trained a year earlier than children in disposable diapers. A YEAR!?!?! That alone is huge! 

So now it comes down to money. Cloth diapers are expensive, yes. They are a pretty significant investment up front, but it pays off rather quickly in my mind. With the cloth diaper stash we plan to start with (gDiapers: 8 shells, 30 cloth inserts, 12 liners), we are looking at an investment of $230. We may end up getting more shells or inserts, but this is what we want to start with. This should be enough to get us through 2 days (3 if we're lucky) before doing a load of laundry. Let's say that size small will work for our baby for 16 weeks. Also, let's assume that my home laundry costs about $1 per wash/dry of diapers. We'll say that over 16 weeks we will spend $50 on the actual cost of washing the diapers. 

Now I've heard a bunch of different numbers, but let's assume a newborn needs 10 diaper changes a day (probably more, but hey I'll just use 10). That means you would go through 70 diapers a week. In 16 weeks you would use about 1,120 disposable diapers, about $395 (based on Pampers pricing I've seen). 

Cloth diapers: $230 for the diapers, $50 to launder, resulting in about $280 in cost. Disposable diapers: $395 for the diapers, and I won't get into the "oh no we are out of diapers! I have to run to the store" stuff (cost in gas money and frustration). Saving $115 over 16 weeks is well worth doing the extra laundry, at least it is for me. The savings would be even better for the size medium diapers, and of course large as well. 

But it's yucky! Right? Well, yes. But you know what, you'll be handling dirty diapers either way. It's a little more work, with the laundry and all, but it is rewarding laundry. I'll feel better about our planet. I'll feel that I'm taking better care of my baby. I'll feel that I'm not throwing my money in the trash. I'll just feel better. That's enough for me. 

Now to close, please take a moment to look at this picture. If all of the ramblings above didn't explain why I want to use these, this picture can sure explain it. Super cute!


photo courtesy of www.gdiapers.com

Do you cloth diaper or use disposables? Do you think I'm being ridiculous? What did you do, or plan to do, with your child(ren)? 

Update 9/1/12: I have now been cloth diapering for two months. If you're interested in how it's been, here's the link to the post! Enjoy! 
Update 12/7/12: I am giving away $2 gDiapers coupons! Click this link to enter! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Expanding Heart

For years I've wondered if my heart could be any more full of love. Yes, I know this sounds like a load of crap, but I've honestly thought about this. And I'm thinking about it more and more each day. In October we had a scare with the pregnancy, and I was a complete mess. I was so worried about our unborn baby that I could barely breathe. I was terrified. Everything turned out fine, and it was just a scare, but boy did I learn a lot that day. Sean is definitely my rock, and he was able to help me through it. We were able to help each other through a very scary few hours, and it helped cement our bond even more. 


As my adrenaline rush faded that day, I stopped and thought... how will I react when something actually happens to our baby? Something that isn't just a concern, something that really happens? What about our baby's first fever? What about the first time he/she skins their knee? What about their first heart break? I can't imagine how that will feel as a mother, and that day I was so scared for those times to come. I know we will get through it, and our baby will make it through, but it was still a very scary thought. It still sticks with me, and of course it will for years to come. I guess that's just one small piece of being a parent, right? 


Today I was able to work from home due to the snow (love the company I work for!), and Sean was home sick. My poor husband came down with the stomach bug late last night, and was as sick as a dog all day. He was miserable, and there wasn't much I could do to help. His symptoms didn't let him get more than 10 feet from the bathroom, so he was camped out on the couch for the day. I was working in our office, which is off of the living room. So, needless to say... I was watching him all day. Every five minutes I would look over, or every time he made a noise, it was constant. I was so worried about him, and feeling such horrible guilt that I couldn't do anything to make it go away. 


Now why am I talking about my husband getting the stomach bug? I love my husband. He knows that. But we both know that we will love this baby more than we love each other. Feeling that internal torment today, watching him suffer, it made me wonder again about our baby. Am I going to be able to sleep when my baby isn't feeling well, or will I be a complete nut and stare into the crib at him/her? Of course I will take care of my baby and make them feel better, but you know what I mean. Am I going to be a complete nervous wreck over simple things? 


I will learn. I will be able to handle it. I won't completely smother my baby. I will be a rational adult. I will give the right amount of love, without it being too much. Most of all, I will let my child grow into an independent adult that won't need me to be the parent that my fears allude to. And you know what? My heart is already growing. From the day we found out that we were pregnant, my heart has grown more and more each day. I am more full of love today than I was a year ago, and months from now that level will be surpassed again.