Friday, March 31, 2017

Week 80

Week 80 of vlogging! Wow. EIGHTY WEEKS. And I still love it. This week our washer broke, and I also recovered from the worst flu ever. Here is to next week being NOT full of broken appliances or sickness!

One Year Ago video is here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What I read January 2017

I love to read Kristin's and Michelle's book posts, but I never seem to write my own. So I am going to try and start? I've been reading up a storm. A storm. First I no longer use my iPad, so I read books while nursing now, and second, I've just been really into reading lately. Who knows?

These reviews/musings by me are spoiler free.

So, without further ado here is what I read in January, and what I thought about it.

In the Meh Book Category:

I started out by reading The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. It's one of her older books, and to be honest it was meh. The story lost me a bit and I kinda skipped a huge chunk in the middle to find out what happened in the end. It was such an odd book! The main character, a tall, rather large girl, gets kidnapped by this neighboring tribe because the leader there thinks she is important. And lo and behold she has special powers and fits right in with everyone... it was just a little cliche and uninspiring for me, but I did enjoy it. I won't be reading the sequels.

Another really, really boring book I read was Afterparty by Ann Stampler. This is a droll sort of book about a spoiled rich kid who is...a spoiled rich kid. That's the whole story. Skip it.

I also read The Shamer's Signet by Lene Kaaberol. This is a really lame adventure story about a girl who can read people's shame by looking into their eyes. Good premise. Horrible execution. It has about every fantasy trope you can think of, and also no depth. And angry teenage boys. Avoid.

In the YAY Category:

My favorite book of January would a toss up from Goldenhand by Garth Nix, or The Forgotton Sisters by Shannon Hale. Both were really good. Anything by Garth Nix is a must read for me (of his adult books, that is) and I LOVED his Sabriel series--this is a continuation of that story. And it was amazing. But too short. Why is it always too short? But I loved it and drank it up all in one sitting.

The Forgotten Sisters is the third, and last book in the Princess Academy Series by Hale. The book was great, and I loved it more than the first two--especially with the HUGE twist that I did not see coming at the end at all. It was very well done and blew the pants off me. Ugh, I loved this book so much!

Another book that teeters between yay and whhhhhhhatttttt would be Firstlife by Gena Showalter. I mean, it was a good book. I love the idea behind it. However, it was a bit too dark for my taste and had a crummy love triangle in it--and I am so over love triangles. So it wasn't a clear win/win for me, but I am interested enough to pick up the second one when it comes out. I also really enjoyed The Grimm Legacy--it would have been a YAY but for the fact that the second book in the series, that I also read this month (The Well's Bequest) was a phenomenal letdown and honestly boring.

Honorable mentions:

I read a lot of books that I liked, but didn't love, but didn't hate. Howl's moving Castle, while fun, wasn't my favorite. Howl is whiny and mysterious but annoying, and Sophie is a DIY kind of girl who also has a hot temper. Calsifer was honestly my favorite character. I also read Palace of Stone (the Princess Academy 2) and The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, an Enola Holmes mystery. All these books were good, they just weren't great. You get the idea.

What are you reading lately? Any suggestions?  You can follow me on Goodreads here!

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Budget: January

Last year we did a budget series where I posted what our small family of three spent each month. I only made it through six months of reporting before keeping track of all the statements and paperwork got to be too much.

The 2016 budget series:
January 17th - February 16th
Feb 17th - March 16
March 17-April 16th
April 17th-May 16th
May 17th-June16th
June-17th-July 16th 

Our goal was to get our budget down to just 2,000 a month excluding taxes and insurance. We did do this, and now our goal is to get our budget down to 1,800 a month (excluding taxes and insurance) because we want to save $200 a month to go to a privacy fence and a swing set for our son. Fences are very expensive and I want a nice wooden swing set, so we will need to save.

Thus the 2017 budget series is beginning! I had a lot of questions last time, so I will do a quick Q and A.
  • Yes, I change the number slightly for financial safety reasons. I also don't post what bank(s), if any, we use, or what credit/debit cards, if any, we use for aforementioned safety reasons. 
  • We own our house and all our cars, we have no debt, that is why there is no "rent" included in my budget.
  • Our grochery budget is large. I know this. I have several autoimmune issues and a son with allergies. We eat all organic. It's something I am passionate about and not something I am willing to scrimp on. 
  • I realize posting my budget of what I spend each month is a bit unorthodox and also very revealing. I am not doing it so you can judge me, I am doing it to keep track of what I spend and to show anyone who is interested what a normal (to us) American budget looks like. 
If you have any other questions I would be happy to answer them.

Bills ($465)

Our bills for this month are:
  1. YMCA ($75) 
  2. Water bill ($80) 
  3. Audible ($25) 
  4. Cell phones, mine and husbands ($25) 
  5. Electric bill ($200)
  6. Internet ($60)
Only one internet provider can service our area and it's SO EXPENSIVE. I also think our YMCA bill is frivolous but husband loves going to the gym, and we have a family membership so we can bring Reuben swimming sometimes. I'll be honest, we have gone to the gym twice this month. Maybe we should cancel this? Sometimes we go twice a week but some months we don't go at all. It depends on the weather and how busy we are. Our water bill is also expensive, we just found out our downstairs toilet has been running.

Eating Out ($140)

I've started being able to eat at La Carreta (it's a tex-mex local chain restaurant in our town) and this is awesome because my husband loves tex mex and so do I! We ate out there twice this month, once at Zoe's Kitchen, once at Chipotles, and once we picked up two pizzas (one gluten free one regular). We usually eat out only once per week but as you can see we got a bit stir crazy...

Grocery ($752)

We shop almost exclusively at Krogers for our organic food when the farmer's market isn't running for the winter. Some of the other stores we go to are the Health Nut, a local crunchy store, and Fresh Market. Fresh Market sells organic coconut milk and also the only bread I can eat (its vegan and gluten free) without getting sick. So I go there every other week to stock up on milk and bread!

Reuben ($94)

We bought Reuben a bike this past week! We went to a thrift store first, but couldn't find anything. We ended up buying him this awesome bike (and also a tiger plushy) at Toys R Us for $62. We wanted to get him a bike because he's always climbing in his toy wagon demanding to be pushed, and I thought this way he would be self-mobile. The bike is a tad too big for him but he loves climbing on and off and putting things in the trunk. He'll grow into it soon. I also took him on a mommy and son date to Panera and Daddy took him to Walmart were they bought a kite, bubbles, and a Frisbee. All in all it totaled $94 when we were done!

Personal Money ($405)

Carolynn ($281)
I bought gas, and a lot of babysitting, and pair of leggings from a friend who works for an MLM company to support her. We had a babysitter six times this month, for four hours each time she came out. Don't you go thinking I got a lot done through, because I had the raging flu the first two weeks and slept every time she was here. We pay $10 an hour so $240 of my personal money all went to babysitting. It was worth it. Actually, my sitter is downstairs with my son right now, giving me the ability to write this. Yay!

Brian ($124)
Daddy buys a lot of miscellaneous things. At least, from my perspective he does! He went out to eat (when it's by himself it counts as personal money) a lot. His favorite place is McDonald's, and because of soy and dairy contaminates, neither Reuben or I can eat there, so he usually takes himself there for a solo breakfast on the weekends or before work sometimes. He also bought some random things off Amazon for working on the electrical projects he does, and he treated himself to a pizza one night when I was sick.

Tithe ($60)

A lot of people last year were curious about what we tithe per month so I decided to include it. I feel a bit hesitant disclosing our tithes, as I do believe it is between our family and God, but it is part of a budget too. 

That brings our total spent in January to $1918, $100 over our budget of 1800. But that's okay. It happens, and I think we did well. Our overarching goal is to stay under $2000, and we did that. I am pleased and very happy, and I hope husband is as well. This saves $82 for our swingset/fence purchase that we plan to put up in July-ish.

So that is what we spent this month, in total. 

The 2017 budget series:

January : February : March : April : May : June : July : August : September : October : November : December

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Week 79

Well, I was sick with the flu all week so I didn't film much. I literally slept as much as possible and let Reuben watch way to much Daniel Tiger. Hey, it happens. I am glad to be finally feeling better and need to catch up on a lot of laundry. A lot. Of laundry. One year ago is here!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why Won't My Toddler Eat?

For most of his short life, Reuben has never been a picky eater. At six months when we started solids, he would try anything! At nine months he'd eat almost anything I put in front of him, and always wanted to try what was on my plate. At thirteen months he basically ate what we did, with few exceptions.

Except for the past five weeks. These past five weeks he won't eat ANYTHING. I mean it. I've begged (only in my head, because the one thing other moms seem to agree on is "don't force your kid to eat things, because that will associate negative emotions with food" so. I don't force him. I just ask. A lot.)

all the food he never eats
It all started when he came down with a stomach bug. He threw up for four days and wouldn't even drink water. Thank God I was still breastfeeding or he would have ended up in the hospital by the end of day one.

I assumed his lack of interest in food was due to his illness, but it took him three weeks to start eating just breakfast again, when he used to eat three meals a day. I feed him the same thing for breakfast every morning because I am tired and I'm not about to cook something that early. I make him gluten free vegan toast in our toaster oven (he's allergic to milk and eggs and I am gluten free, so I wanted to be able to eat it too) and pair it with half a container of coconut yogurt. Sometimes I make bacon or sausages. I realize this isn't the most nutritious breakfast, but I'm just happy my toddler eat something, and that I have the energy to place it in front of him. On a mostly clean high chair. And on a exceptionally clean plate. 

But he still won't eat lunch or dinner. He'll just play with his food. And throw it on the floor. While I hold back my temper and don't shove it down his throat.

I've tried making up games and having him feed me to help solicit good eating behavior. At the bequest of a friend, we cut out all snacks to see if he was just surviving off the jello and green smoothie I also make (mostly for myself but I also give it to him) and share with him. After one week of him still refusing to eat lunch and dinner even when I cut out the snacks, I cut them back in. Because he needs to eat something.

Last week I made pumpkin brownies and we found out that Reuben is allergic to pumpkins.

You can guess how amused I was at that. (not at all) Also, he may potentially have issues with tomatoes, but I haven't figured it out yet. If you know me in real life, I could use a food-related hug. Also, don't get offended when I can't go out to eat. My toddler's life is too important and the thought of trying to take him somewhere new is panic-inducing. I always like to skim the menu beforehand on the internet for him. And for me. Because I can't eat gluten.

Prayers. We need prayers.

Right now it's been five weeks of this refusing food fiasco and I am just done. What happened to my happy eater who would try everything and was always begging for more? I want him back.

At least he'll drink the cashew milk when I'm not looking.

But oh why oh why won't he eat anything else?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 78

This week Reuben was sick at the beginning, with just a small cold. By Friday I had the full blown flu. I've only had the flu once, at eighteen, and even 12 years later it was still horrible, through probably a different strain. I hope to never get it again! But I lived, so that's good, right? Ugh. I never want to be sick again! I need to work on strengthening my immune system for sure.

This video includes a lot of my whining about how hard things are. You have been warned. Angsty mom ahead.

One year ago is here! Reuben is so small... I bet I'll think the same a year from now. Time flies when you don't notice it!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Toddler's Minamilist Caspule Wardrobe

I don't use a capsule wardrobe for myself. However, for my wiggly toddler, utilizing a capsule wardrobe has lowered my stress, made it easy to fold and put away laundry, and helped me and my husband know exactly where everything is.

Also, he gets to wear everything he owns. I hate it when he owns clothes he never wears. It feels like a waste. I mean, what is life unless he can spit up on all his shirts?

I don't know why it works, but it does. I find a capsule wardrobe simplifies and reduces my anxiety about clothing, laundering, and overall wardrobe toddler management.

He owns enough clothes for one full week without washing. Since I wash his clothes twice a week, its an easy and manageable number, and if I miss a wash, he still has things to wear. I'm not overwhelmed with the sheer number of items he has, I don't have to hunt for his favorite shirt or his cutest pajamas. They are always clean every week for him to wear to bed!

Everything in the video we bought for around $60-$70 USD. Some things were gifted by family for birthdays, but the majority of it I bought from a used children's store called Once Upon A Child. We plan on buying him a spring capsule from there too.

Enjoy the video!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sewing Cloth Pad Tutorial (mama cloth)

I love mama cloth. I've been using it for years, before I had Reuben. It's great, and you just throw it in the wash every month. I wash mine twice, once by itself (or with Reuben's cloth diapers) to remove all the icky, and then once with a load of laundry to really deep clean it.

I like the thin cloth pads the best. The thick ones, I've found, don't dry well and can smell mildew-y after awhile. I like thin ones that I can stuff inserts in, so I can customize the absorbancy to what day of my period it is. First day? Stuff that puppy. Last day? I can just wear it without any layers added.

Bonus: the layers are removable and thus dry easily. No more mildew smell!

I have a bunch of receiving blankets that Reuben outgrew months ago. I decided to use those to make myself a few cloth pads, since the few I have right now require me to wash them in the middle of my period. I need about 5 more, and I thought: why not make them myself?

So I did. You can see the video here or below!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Basic Crochet Bib

If you've read my blog since I had my son Reuben, you will know he drools. A lot. And by a lot, I mean he is a small waterfall. He drools a lot because of his allergies and his sinus blockage, but that is besides the point-- the point is he always needs bibs! We have bought bibs on Etsy, but because of the sheer number of bibs he goes through, I also make my own. I've sewn some, and now I am crocheting some.

Crochet bibs are easy, quick and fun to make--I can whip one up in thirty minutes and I can crochet while nursing. I've already made him two! And since they use buttons, they are harder for him to remove than the knit ones I make.

To crochet this bib you will need a 4.25mm crochet hook, cotton yarn, a button and a yarn needle that goes through your button. I used about 75 yards of yarn, split into two colors!

You can download the PDF here, and see the video here on my YouTube channel.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Week 77

Reuben cries for the camera whenever he sees it, but he looks adorable in the pants I made him! I also get sick and complain a bit. Normal life! He's growing so fast!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Goodwill Haul

I took a two year break from shopping at Goodwill, but this year one of my new years resolutions is to shop ONLY from fair trade or thrift stores. And I plan on sticking to it. For one, we are trying to save money for a fence and some playground equipment for our son this summer, so I can't drop $30 on a shirt anymore. Second, I want to start being more sustainable. I love clothes, and I also love to shop. Goodwill is like a treasure hunt, and now that I feel a lot more positive about my postpartum body, I am enjoying shopping there again!

I am also glad I shop in a community where a lot of women donate their clothes--it's usually easy to find things I like! That isn't true for all areas.

Regardless, here is my first haul of the year!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

More Woolies

I made another pair of woolies for Reuben. This time I didn't match the colors up on the legs, and I like them a lot better. He wore them to the park. This is also the cloth diaper size of my pattern (the last pair were for disposable diapers). I plan on waterproofing them with lanolin.

I love them so much! I love that I made them, that he loves them, that they keep him warm, and that they are fun. I also, of course, made his hat.

The only sad thing about spring is no more knitting for the toddler. At least not wearable items. This kid is built like daddy and is a furnace. He needs the absolute minimal of layers in the summer!

Happy knitting, friends. I'm going to go enjoy the toddler some more before he suddenly hits his teen years. I can feel them like they are right around the corner...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why I Became a Crazy Crunchy Mom

There are lots of articles out there about things crunchy moms do, like cloth diaper, eat organic, and buy only sustainable clothing. I've written some of these articles myself.

But I've never seen anyone write about why they decided to become crunchy.

Now, I'm not one for labels. In the sense of degradation or shame, I mean. I'm all for labels for, well, labeling stuff. Calling an apple and apple. I am a crunchy mom. I like being a crunchy mom. I'm not trying to call anyone else a crunchy mom, or make you feel bad for not being a crunchy mom. I am who I am because I made these choices and I like them. I assume the same for you. Let's just get that out of the way, shall we?

First off, a "crunchy mom" is a mom who likes more natural products and more natural parenting. Think elderberry syrup instead of antibiotics, cloth diapers instead of plastic, and babywearing. Lots of babywearing.

I didn't know I was going to be a crunchy mom.

Really, I didn't. I didn't know what kind of mom I was. I was only afraid at first. Reuben was so tiny, I was so...tired. That sums up the first few months.

But every mom has to make decisions, and my decisions have all been crunchy. Except for my laundry detergent; that is not crunchy. We use Tide Free and Gentle. I wash poop, people. In my washing machine. I need a strong detergent.

Every parent makes decisions. I think as long as you love your child and are making well informed decisions that you are a good parent. As in, try. Don't guess. Be deliberate about it. Your child is worth researching all decisions that impact them. In matters where it might be gray (most matters, honestly) at least make an educated guess. Obviously, my parenting won't look like yours because I am not you. I also am not parenting your child. I don't have to understand your parenting decisions either, because we are different, but I can respect them even if I'm confused. At least, that is what I think. I don't get why people are mad because I don't understand why they do a certain thing to their child. Um, explain it to me. Or tell me to mind my own business. But I'm entitled to my opinion and you to yours.

I don't go around telling people what I think of their choices usually, but sometimes it comes up when, they, you know, ask me. Don't ask if you don't want to honestly hear why I don't understand that you feed your child sugar. Because I won't understand.

I think a lot of moms go into this thinking many things are black and white, when really nothing is. We all make mistakes, we all fail. We don't need other people to validate our opinions either. Many moms want this, and that is why they get their proverbial panties in a wad when people have the audacity to do things differently.

If there was one thing I could tell moms, it would be that: you don't need other people to validate your opinions or choices. Make them, and then OWN the crap out of them because you know your child and you are his/her mother. But research first, of course. You get the drift.

But back to why I'm a crunchy mom.

It really has to do with choice, with my background and experiences, and my research. That's it. I choose to be one because I feel like it is the best choice for my family, and because my research and experiences have led me here.

I'm not a crunchy mom because I think eating non-organic carrots is sinful and should be punishable by stoning.

I'm not a crunchy mom because I think drinking pasteurized milk is horrific and you deserve to be smeared on twitter.

I'm not a crunchy mom because I think putting a disposable diaper on a child should be met with the evil eye of wasteful doom. Or that every time you do it you need to hear a lecture about landfills. No parent deserves to be lectured, and least of all about landfills. That we all use. And are grateful for.

I'm not a crunchy mom because I think if you feed your child day old pizza from a chain store on plastic plate is synonymous with child abuse. Because pizza equals hitting your child? Clearly not.

I am crunchy mom because I made the choice for my family. I enjoy what I do and I feel my family benefits from it. Sure, I believe cloth diapers are more sustainable for the environment, but that doesn't mean disposable diaper users have to feel guilty for making a different choice. I made a choice that was best for my family, and I own it. I love it, and I celebrate the freedom to continue making that choice, as should you.

And that is why I became a crazy crunchy mom.

(My husband said I became one just to annoy him) (hahaha husband) (he didn't mean it, he loves me)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What I Eat in a Day: The Cheat Day

Everyone has cheat days. Or is it just me? This is what I eat on a typical rushed cheat day! Bonus, I show what Reuben eats too! Although, this is normal meals for him, since he does not have allergies to gluten and can eat beans too, things I commonly avoid. Well, I always avoid gluten on EVERY day. But cheat days include corn noodles. And ice-cream!

What do you eat on a "cheat" day?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Week 76

I'll just call this the week Daddy had the flu. Because that's what it was, and it was HARD. Also, I tried to use a different camera to vlog, and my footage is more shaky than usual. But it was a good week. Reuben and I did not get get sick and I made lots of soup for daddy and did lots of dishes.

Last year is here!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Large Crochet Wool Dryer Ball Tutorial

Wool dryer balls are great. What are they, you ask? Well, they are basically 100% wool balls that bounce around in your laundry, creating space between clothes to allow them to dry faster. When I forget to put them in when drying my cloth diapers, they take twice as long. I'm not kidding. These things are awesome! To make the crochet version, you will need 100 yards of bulky yarn and a 6.0mm crochet hook, and a skein of waste yarn (about 100 yards).

You will need 100% wool yarn that is not machine washable for this project.

Using the magic loop method, do 8 sc into the loop. Working in the continuous round (do not sl st) do 2 sc in each st (16 sts)

R2: *2 sc in each st, 1 sc* around for 24 st
R3: *2sc in each st, 2 sc* around for 32 st
R4: *2sc in each st, 3 sc* around for 40 st

R5-12: sc each st

R13: *sc2tog, 3 sc* around
R14: *sc2tog, 2sc* around
R15: sc all sts
R16: *sc2tog, 1 sc* around
R17: sc all sts
R18: *sc2tog* around (8 sts)

Cut yarn, slide though remaining 8 sts and back in the first one, pull tight. Weave in ends, wash and dry three times to felt, leave in dryer after!

You can view the video here or press play below.