3.22.2012

Weekdays With My Best Friend

Every week I get to spend two days in a row with my hubby.  This week it happens to be Wednesday and Thursday.  He has a unique schedule, which started shortly after I failed to return from my maternity leave.  It wasn't really a failure but rather a willful lack of attendance.  I didn't go back.  Can you blame me?  Well anyway he works alternating weeks of Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday.  Repeat.  They are 12-hour shifts that have him home by 6:30 every night.  This is a vast improvement from the 2-10 p.m. that he worked for the last several years.  We are able to have dinner as a family every night instead of never.  I also get to spend a couple of days with my two guys (hubs and babes; DH and DS; TweedleDee and TweedleDorable...)  Our weekday time together is not filled with wildly exciting activities, but we do try to get out of the house on occasion.  Or we do housework.  Or we watch Lifetime and take luxurious naps.  We usually pick our daughter up from Pre-K together.  She loves having her own entourage.  The only way carpool could improve for her is if we showed up in a limousine or possibly a horse-drawn carriage.

Sometimes I have work to do, so our fun time is a little less fun.  He then has to entertain the baby, who is typically Occupying the Living Room with his demands and such.  Having work to do has truly been a blessing to us these last few months.  Having time together has been AMAZING.  God is so good to us.  I don't usually get all serious and sappy but FOR REALS.  He LOVES us and has our best interests at heart.  He knows what our marriage needs to thrive.  Of course he knows what we need as far as food, clothing, shelter, money, etc., and He always makes sure that is covered as well.  In fact, we have more than enough of everything.  Perhaps not enough space for all of our excesses, but I suppose if we had more space we'd just fill it up with more stuff.  The truth of the matter is God knows what our hearts and souls need.  He gives rest for the weary.  He gives married couples a fighting chance at happiness together.  I firmly believe that God is not a fan of divorce, ESPECIALLY due to "irreconcilable differences".  You couldn't get along??  That's your excuse?  Try again.  My husband and I have been through some pretty challenging moments over the last 8 years.  I doubt we are unique in that way.  I bet a lot of people get to the point where they think they'd be happier apart.  The concept just makes my head spin.  Why on Earth would God go to all the trouble to bring two people together in marriage only to have them divorce a few years later?  Or less.  I just don't buy it.

So through all of our arguments and differences of perspective, opinion, and spoken accent, I have always prayed for peace in my home. A strong marriage founded on Christ's love.  Just like anyone, we have a lot of work to do.  However, God has done amazing things in us, for us, and through us.  Providing a way for me to leave my job has alleviated so much stress from me.  You might think it would be more stressful with less money, but it's really not.  My husband says he could literally see the stress melt away from me.  The drive, the working conditions, the lack of time with my family - it all took it's toll on me.  It didn't leave a lot for my relationship with my husband.  But God didn't think bringing me home was quite enough.  He brought hubs home, too - in a way.  We have so much time together to just BE.  It's delightful.  That's not to say that we always get along 100% of the time.  I don't think anyone does.  But we enjoy each others' company, so we strive to squash the arguments before they get ugly.  Remember when you were little and your mom would take a hunk of moldy cheese out of the fridge and not throw it away?  She'd carve out all the moldy spots and serve up the remaining good parts.  In that same way, we have to carve out the negative, joy-sucking people and activities from our lives.  Incorporate more God, more love, more family.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that our lives are rosy and perfect.  I just want to express how happy I am with the lot I've been given.  Even when circumstances were different, I may have complained occasionally about work, but I was always thankful to have the work, and I repeatedly asked God to show me how I can be a better worker, brighten someone's day, reflect Jesus in my day-to-day.  Sure I failed miserably most of the time.  But at least I asked for help in that area.  At present, I may be wondering what my next consulting project will be, hoping my kid snaps out her attitude soon, praying my husband gets the recognition (and paycheck) he deserves at work...but I am ever grateful for all of which I have been given responsibility.  I love my babies to pieces and I really hope I'm not irreparably damaging them.  I love and cherish my husband, and I'm so glad he still likes me even though my butt is getting much smaller (seems I owe you a weight loss blog post).  Today I am especially grateful for my weekdays with my husband, my best friend.

Enter: Cloth Diapers

After nearly 11 months of Pampers Swaddlers, I finally decided to give cloth diapering a try.  It's something I was considering while I was pregnant, but the daycare I intended to use once I went back to work said they couldn't, by law, allow cloth diapers in their facility.  I've since researched this issue and determined there is nothing on the books specifically prohibiting cloth diapers in daycare in my state.  Anyway, once I decided to stay home, I should have immediately begun cloth diapering in order to maximize my savings.  Yes, cloth diapers SAVE MONEY.  Each diaper is pretty expensive if you think of it in terms of one diaper, ranging from $15-$25.  However, if you could somehow determine the number of times that one diaper would be used over the course of your child's diaper days, the per use cost is next to nothing.  If you happen to use your diapers for more than one baby, it's as if the diapers are PAYING you.

So, after nearly a week of cloth diapering, I have decided I absolutely LOVE it.  I haven't even quite figured out why.  Everyone wrinkles their nose when I mention it: "Why would you do that??" "Ew!" "Better you than me."  Seriously, what's the big deal?  You don't like poop? Well I hate to break it to you, but babies poop.  A lot.  My son has pooped more in the last week than he had the entire previous month.  Perhaps it was his litmus test to see if I could really handle it.  I am not afraid of a little poop.  Bring it on.  It turns out that there is actually something called a "diaper sprayer", which I am highly considering.  It is a sort of pressure washer for your diapers.  Apparently you attach it to the plumbing behind the toilet, and you spray the poop off into the toilet.  They also make "bio liners" which are thin sheets of some kind of biodegradable material.  Think of it like aluminum foil lining your baking pan so that clean-up is a breeze.  Same concept.  I ordered some of these liners and will let you know how they work for me in a follow-up post.

Other reasons people are turned off by the idea of cloth diapering?  Laundry, I suppose.  Based on my research, it is much easier/more effective to launder your diapers with the "old fashioned" washing machines - top loaders.  You can fill them up with water and let the diapers soak indefinitely.  However, I have found a wash routine with my high efficiency machines that is working for me so far.  I understand that the diapers may develop a smell after awhile, so we will see about that.  While I did not purchase the washer/dryer set with the steam option, my washer has a "baby" setting which washes in extra hot water. My dryer has an option button for antibacterial, which I guess makes it extra hot.  I haven't used this yet because I'm not sure if the PUL can withstand the high temperatures.  (PUL is polyurethane laminate, a waterproof material used on the outer layer of the diapers to prevent leaking and such.) I know I could use it on the microfiber inserts and the cotton prefolds, but since my stash is still fairly small I am washing everything together.  One other thing I found interesting is that certain items need to be washed and dried several times before first use in order to maximize absorbency.  Therefore, I have yet to try the hemp/organic cotton fitted diapers I recently purchased.  They are extremely thick and didn't even dry all the way with the rest of the diapers.  I'm going to wash them a few more times just to be thorough.

The elements I love about cloth diapering:
  • Saving money.  Cloth diapering can save you upward of $2,000 on one baby.  More if the same diapers are used for subsequent babies.
  • Environmental conservation.  This one is pretty obvious.  Disposable diapers overflow landfills and are not biodegradable.
  • Safe for baby.  Disposables are filled with tons of chemicals that are harmful to baby's sensitive skin. Toxic, actually.  Cloth diapers are excellent for babies who are prone to rashes.
  • Poop containment.  You know those up-the-back poop blowouts all babies seem to get?  Cloth diapers are gusseted pretty much everywhere.  There is a tight fit along the back, which I NEVER got with my Swaddlers, no matter how tight I pulled the tabs.  So far, even with all the poop being presented, no blowouts and no leaks. 
  • Adorable.  So stinking cute (pardon the pun).  My son is extra super cute with his little fluffy butt.  The diapers and/or covers come in all sorts of colors and prints. 
I know I have a lot to learn still, but I am willing to answer any questions you might have if you are interested in getting started.  One thing I've learned already is that there are a million options and it might take some trial and error to find what works best for you and your baby.

3.19.2012

TSA on Google

Wow it has been a long time since I have signed into my Google account on my laptop!  I recently changed mobile phones/numbers/carriers, and I apparently did not think everything through before cutting off the old number.  I had enabled two-step verification some time ago.  This is Google's way of maintaining a secure account.  Every time you sign on from somewhere new, you have to get a secret code sent to you via text.  Even if it's the same computer you've always used, it wants you to re-verify occasionally.  Well if you don't have your phone anymore, it takes an Act of Congress to get access to your account again.  I made no less than 3 separate attempts at account recovery using the conventional channels provided by Google.  I answered a questionnaire to the best of my ability.  It was tough!  I have no idea when I first joined the Gmail community!!  My best educated guesses proved insufficient.  There were tons of other questions: blood type, middle name of your great aunt on your father's side, grade point average from your first semester of sophomore year, your childhood best friend's pet's name... I'm sure the idea is to prevent someone who doesn't REALLY know you from taking over your account.  However, I discovered that I don't know myself as well as I ought to, according to Google.  I got the TSA treatment - powder-free, latex gloves and all.

My solution to the problem?  Reactivate the old phone number for just a day or two.  Sure, this isn't free, but it sure beats the aggravation that comes with not being able to access ANY of your Google apps.  The next challenge presented itself in the hardware department.  I needed a phone with which to use this temporary service.  I needed to have access to a working phone long enough to receive a text message containing a randomly-generated secret code.  My most recent phone was not an option.  The power button ceases to function.  Push with all your might, but that thing is not coming on.  Plan B was an old Blackberry that was just lying around.  I fished through my bin o' cords 'n' cables to find a compatible charger.  Unfortunately this phone was not going to cooperate.  I believe the battery to be non-functioning.  Careful examination revealed a slight bulge in the middle.  No problem, I'll just plug it in with no battery.  Wrong.  The power came on but the screen was all white with a couple of black streaks running through it.  That's it.  Poor Blackberry.  May she rest in peace.

There was another phone in the Bin, but it was a Verizon phone, so no SIM card compatibility.  Finally I came across another Android phone, approximately 2-3 phones ago.  While I could not locate the charger, I was able to turn it on and receive the needed message because it had about half a battery. Problem solved.

So here I am, back on the blog.  I couldn't access my Blogger account without access to my Google account.  They are all one, all connected.  You might think after all that hassle I have disabled 2-step verification.  However, I have decided that it is worth it in the end because there are always people up to no good.  I would much rather go through all the frustration and inconvenience of the past couple of weeks than what would result from a hijacked account.  I'll take the cavity search if I must.  There's peace of mind knowing this account still belongs to me.  And Big Brother, of course.