Monthly Archives: June 2013
Winds and Wind Protection
First the bad news: We had gusts of 126 km/hr last week.
Now the good news: Our roof is still on.
And finally, a question: If homes are built to sustain maximum wind gusts, why aren’t many gardens?
Living about 300 meters from the Tasman Sea, we believe they must be. In these parts, the winds are strong enough to blow the Blacks off the All Blacks.
So we have put a lot of time, effort and money into erecting wind breaks.
Our neighbours did not.
Their fence came down and pulled part of ours with it.
See here, their fence posts snapped at ground level.
And that force snapped one of our rails.
Biologically, here is evidence of wind damage to the ‘wild’ bush lupine growing unprotected in front of our home.
Another legume, tagasaste, also suffered some minor wind burn.
To compare like with like, the next photo is of a native hebe without wind protection.
This hebe is protected from the wind.
Overall, our fruit trees and annual gardens suffered negligible damage. After a storm like last week, I’m glad for our extensive efforts at wind protection.
She’s Crafty: Driftwood Frame Playgym
This is one of the first projects we made for EcoThrifty Baby. We wanted a play gym for her, but were (and still are) trying to avoid plastic as much as possible. Ironic, since tupperware is her ultimate favorite toy at the moment.
ETB chillaxin on her sheep skin under her handcrafted playgym – lifestyles of the rich and famous.
I made the hanging pieces for this playgym from scrapbook paper glued onto cardboard. I tried to pick natural themes and shapes, but also wanted her to have high contrast and bright colors for her little developing eyes.
The pieces of ETB’s play gym were scrap book paper glued onto thin cardboard.
ETH scoured the beach near our house for a few days before he found the perfect pieces of driftwood to form the base and hanging frame. He then drilled a hole into the base just slightly smaller than the diameter of the piece that he wanted to use for the frame, and sanded it down to make a perfect fit. The base is heavy enough that ETB can’t pull it over if she tugs on the shapes.
Driftwood frame with no glue, no nails.
When ETB was a tiny infant we hung the shapes over her carseat and bassinet. When she transitioned into her bouncy chair, they were her favorite entertainment. Now that she is a crawler, this still sits in the corner of her play area. Every once in a while she still bats around the shapes, but I think her days of really enjoying the play gym might be over (sniff, sniff).
ETB as a tiny bub with her play gym pieces hanging above her.
ETB is a big girl now and her play gym still sits in the corner of her play space.
Baby Wearing for Beginners
I kind of always knew I’d be into baby wearing. I’m a pretty snuggly gal. But when Eco-Thrifty Baby was born I really had no clue what kinds of slings and wraps were out there, no less how to use them. Luckily we were gifted about 6 or 7 hand-me-down baby wearing devices to try out. Here’s a summary of the ones we tried and kept or ditched.
ETB fully endorses napping on mom.
Fixed length sling– FAIL
We were gifted several of these. The most highly recommended was my brother in law’s self-named “duderus”, a stretchy cotton fixed-length sling which he lovingly passed on to my husband. Passing the torch in an act of brotherly love. Unfortunately the duderus didn’t do it for either of us. It felt too loose, too floppy, and like she might get lost in there. Its possible that it was the wrong size.
We try out a fixed length sling. Strawberries were good, sling not so much. But it was pretty.
We also tried a non-stretchy fixed-length sling. I think this one was definitely the wrong size. I think I used it twice, but always kind of felt like I had to keep one hand under it or she might fall out. It also kind of hurt my shoulder/neck on one side. Even my little peanut of a babe felt like too much weight just to have hanging off of one shoulder. I wanted to love this, I did. But it just wasn’t for me.
Adjustable sling – Eco-Thrifty Mama: FAIL Eco-Thrifty Papa: WIN
Eco-thrifty Papa loved a sling that we called “The PeaPod”. It was an adjustable sling that clipped at the top and has drawstrings on both sides so you could cinch them closed. It was easy to get her in and out, even when asleep and he found it really comfortable. I, however, just could never quite shake the feeling that if I took my hand away, she wouldn’t just fall down. So, I ended up walking around with one hand always under the sling. Not very effective.
ETB asleep in “The Peapod”, taking a break from harvesting that cauliflower no doubt.
The Improvised Sling- Obviously a Massive life WIN.
Sometimes we just didn’t have our act together in those early days. And since our baby does her best (read: only) sleeping on me, having some kind of baby-wearing device was totally necessary. When she was little a muslin blanket with the corners tied over my shoulder worked really well.
Shooting hoops at a work event. ETB slept through the whole thing.
Stretchy Wrap – Eco-Thrifty Mama: WIN Eco-Thrifty Papa: FAIL
We had “The Ultimate Baby Wrap” and I seriously adored it. So comfortable. So secure. ETB loved being in there and I could do anything in it. See ETB’s first game of tag, below. Really, ETP also loved wearing the stretchy wrap, he just couldn’t be bothered wrapping it. So, as long as I wrapped him up in it, it was a win for him too. And to be honest, it was kind of a pain to wrap, but after a few days I was super speedy and could even take her in and out without re-wrapping.
ETB’s first game of tag. 9 weeks old.
The only problem with our stretchy wrap was that it was really stretchy. So by the time she got to about 3-4 months it seemed like she was too heavy for it, because it would stretch so much. But, it was good timing, because by then she had fairly good neck control so we upgraded to the Ergo. I think I would really love a non-stretchy wrap for ETB now that she is bigger, but haven’t been able to find one in New Zealand. It is definitely on my wishlist for our upcoming trip to America.
Our first time ever baby wearing. ETB about 1 week old. Sooooo little.
We do the dishes. Doesn’t happen often, definitely worth taking a picture of.
Ergo – WIN WIN WIN
Our Ergo was handed down to us by my sister and brother-in-law, so I already had lots of practice carrying around the ETNeices in it during my many summers of nannying them. We love the Ergo. We started using it fairly early, although I preferred the stretchy wrap until she outgrew it. We used it as a front pack until about 7 or 8 months, and now use it both front and back. Getting in on with her on my back was a superhuman one-person job at first, but is getting easier as she gets better at standing. I don’t know where we’d be without our ergo, it is where ETB does most of her napping and hence is where I do most of my working.
ETB tucked into the ergo at about 3 months.
Right: Baby belay. ETB is my anchor in the ergo.
Frame pack – Eco-Thrifty Papa: WIN Eco-Thrifty Mama: 3/4 WIN
We really love our frame pack, and ETB seems to too. We started using it at about 6 months, and had to rig the straps up to make them small enough so she wouldn’t fall out the sides. We like it because it is cooler on our backs, seems to take the weight off our shoulders, and ETB gets to look around more. I still tend to use the Ergo more than the frame pack, but ETP definitely prefers the pack.
Left: We need to invent some kind of holster for the frame pack so ETB can nap in there without me wearing it. Right: ETB learning on the job. Laziest apprentice ever.
I hope that was a little helpful to anyone thinking about buying a carrier. I’d love to hear any recommendations from other baby wearers, especially anyone who uses a wrap for their older baby or toddler.
Here is ETB at the farmer’s market with her Aunt Molly selling the world’s best garlic.
Styley Maternity Clothes That won’t Break the Bank
So when I say I’m eco-thrifty, I mostly mean I’m cheap. Bonus- being cheap can often have the upside of being eco-friendly (buying second-hand = no new junk coming onto the planet). But just because I’m “eco-thrifty” doesn’t mean a girl don’t wanna look fine.
23 Weeks. I thought my belly was big. Ha! Wrap skirt from thrift store, tank top from pre-preg.
So, I was kind of hell-bent on not buying maternity clothes. I just didn’t see the point in spending tons of money on sweat-shop made garments that I would wear for just a few months. So, I didn’t. I was gifted a bunch of maternity clothes from my sister and some friends, but to be honest the clothes I wore most weren’t maternity. I just felt more comfortable in clothes that were things I would normally wear, things that I could find at second-hand stores. Things that were more me.
So here are my tips for dressing styley (if I do say so myself) while your body goes through the most dramatic changes possible in a span of 40 weeks.
25 weeks. Stretchy mini-dress over leggings = happiness. Mini-dress from thrift store. Pink sash and mardi gras beads courtesy of my 5 year-old neice. Sick dance moves courtesy of me.
1. Stretchy is your friend.
When else in your life will people tell you how great your belly looks every.single.day? And I swear, the bigger you get, the more the compliments will roll in. So, flaunt it girlfriend. Strethcy will not only show off that bump, but will also give you lots of room for lungs and bladder to expand when baby shifts positions.
27 weeks. Ignore my ridiculous face here, and focus on the cute stretch mini dress. Dress from Valley Girl pre-preg. I wore this over leggings all the time (you’d think I’d have a better pic) into my third trimester, and still wear it now.
2. If you buy something, make it something useful for after baby.
I think I bought a total of 3 actual maternity items. One of them was this cross-front shirt. It was super cosy during pregnancy and is now one of my favorite nursing shirts. The material is super stretchy so it wasn’t awkward or baggy after baby was born, and fit me nicely as my belly went from big firm to big squishy to (hopefully kind of sort of) medium firm again.
30 weeks. Top from Pumpkin Patch, jeggings see below. Me and belly protesting fracking, deep sea drilling, and asset sales.
3. Jeggings. (Seriously)
This may be the only time in your life where it is ok to wear jeggings. Why? because they are stretchy (anyone sense a theme here?), and you are a beautiful gaia mama. Honestly a friend gave me a pair pre pregnancy and I swore I’d never wear them, but damn if I didn’t live in those things. Even once the waist stopped fitting I did the hair-tie trick, then the bella band, and then just left those suckers open. I’m wearing them in the picture above and below. I don’t wear them anymore… somehow they don’t look as cute without the giant belly.
26 weeks. Rocking the jeggings while I belay my 4 year-old neice. Girl can climb.
4. Buy this skirt (from a second hand shop that sells H&M stuff… or ebay?).
OK, if you can’t find this one, buy any stretchy mini skirt. But really, the texture and super-stretchyness of this one, made it my ultimate favorite. I actually can’t believe I don’t have a picture of me in it, because I seriously lived in this my third trimester, when I had to dress up a bit for work. I would wear it over leggings and pair it with a nice top.
5. Emphasize that belly.
Gone are the days of big blousy maternity wear that tented over you and baby, making you into some sort of family-sized camping accessory. Your belly is your best accessory. I know you might not believe me, but you look gorgeous. People are envious of your glow. You don’t look big, you look perfect. Rock that goddess body!
40 weeks. Sari skirt tied over belly with t-shirt tucked in.
Other than the jeggings I still wear all of these clothes now, which is more than I can say for most maternity purchases people make. So be bold, go stretchy and embrace that belly!
Moving Warm Air within a Home
Our cloth diaper cleaning routine
Cloth diapers were one of the few parenting choices we were 100% sure of from the start. Of course, when we started we really had no idea just how much pee and pooh could come out of one little human. So it took us a little while to get into a routine that works well for us. And to be honest, now that we are in the swing of it, it really isn’t that hard. Honest.
I’m not saying that this is the best routine, but here is what we do these days to keep from getting buried under a mountain of cute little nappies:
Step 1: Change bum. If it is a pee diaper go straight to step 4. If it is a pooh diaper, there are a few more steps.
Step 2: Wipe that butt. We use cloth wipes made from cut up chucks cloths and car cleaning shammies, and only use water to clean with.
Step 3: Scrape. This is kind of the grossest part (but really isn’t so bad). We use a firm plastic spatula that we got from a second-hand store. My husband wrote “POOH” in giant letters just in case, but since it lives in our bathroom, on a string hanging from the tap in our laundry sink, there is really no chance that it could even get mixed up anywhere. We scrape poohs directly into the toilet as soon as possible and flush them away.
Step 4: Store & Soak. We bought this camping washing machine at the auction for like 15 bucks.It has been awesome! Best 15 bucks we ever spent. We separate the inners and outers, toss them in, and seal it up. Then just leave them. Once we have a full tumbler we then fill it with warm water and an eco-whitener and let them soak for at least an hour.
If we are out and about we just put the diaper and wipes in a dry bag until we get home and toss them in the tumbler. No biggie, really. A lot of my friends use disposables when out and about, but we’ve never had a problem with the dry bags.
It usually takes us 2-3 days to fill the tumbler. We have found that keeping the diapers “dry” during this wait time is MUCH less stinky that letting them soak.
Step 5: Wash. We wash our diapers on a long cycle in hot water with Eco-Store brand soap. Since they have already soaked, one wash almost always does the trick. If there are any stains, I do a quick rub with Sunlight soap and put back in the tumbler. My husband doesn’t worry about stains (“They’re diapers for goodness sake!”).
Step 6: Hang. We don’t own a clothes dryer. However, after visiting my parents and sister, I had some serious clothes dryer envy. Cuts down the total cleaning time by HOURS! But clothesline drying is possible, we just take advantage of every single sunny day to get a load of diapers out there.
So that’s it. We are 9 months in and the routine is working well so far. Verti has transitioned onto solids, and our system perseveres. I have noticed that lately some of her pee diapers have been kind of stinky. Not when they come out of the wash, only after she pees. I wonder if that’s due to her new found love of brussel sprouts, or if I need to run the diapers through a special cycle to de-stink them a little. Any tips? I’m wondering if a vinegar soak would help, or running them through once with a non-eco detergent might freshen them up.
Any tips out there from other cloth diapering mamas? Anyone else have stinky pee diapers?
10 Pieces of Advice for Warm, Dry Homes