Sunday, March 30, 2008

Charlie's Soap

The Farmington Area Mom's Club general meeting this month was centered around "green" and how we can be kinder to our environment. Turns out that my county, Oakland County, Michigan, has one of the worst pollution records in the country. :-( Tom and I do our best to lessen our footprints on the environment by doing heavy recycling, using more cloth rags and bags instead of paper towels and plastic bags, composting 100% of our yard waste and kitchen scraps, buying clothes and toys from garage sales and Mom 2 Mom sales as often as possible, and, of course, by diapering with cloth diapers.

Charlie's Soap makes a terrific laundry powder that cleans efficiency and is 100% biodegradable--much more friendly for the environment. It is also cheaper than the dye-free and scent-free laundry detergents I have been using for years now. Plus, they shipped it to me for free. One Tablespoon cleans an entire washload of diapers--that's 2 days' worth of poopie, soaked diapers from a newborn AND a toddler. I still do a pre-rinse cycle of cold water with about 1/4 cup of white vinegar in my diaper washes, then I switch to a hot water/cold rinse cycle with only a Tablespoon of this stuff. Many cloth diaper websites and retailers recommend it, especially the businesses that sell only organic diapers and supplies, such as Green Mountain Diapers.

It really works! I do all of our laundry with it, it is supposed to be safe for all fabrics, even silk (though I admit, I haven't worn a silk blouse for a while now, what with maternity clothes and now baby spit-up to deal with. When I wear my silk blouses again, I will wash them in Charlie's Soap and let you all know how it went...but I'm a mother of two small munchkins, don't hold your breath, it'll be a while.)

Do consider giving Charlie's Soap a shot, even if you don't use cloth diapers. You really have nothing to loose, and the environment will be all the better for it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mission: Possible

While we three girls have visited with many friends and family together (not to mention doctors and my midwife), I have been terrified of taking both kids into crowded, busy public places alone, especially in the cold winter. In five months (and one day), I have only taken both girls by myself to places like Bible study, to the library, and to the theater where I work. These places are kid-friendly, contained, and there are plenty of "contingency" mothers around to lend a hand if needed. Until now, major trips with both children have been accompanied by Tom, my mother, or even when Liesl's godmother Amy uses her day off to give us a hand. I have needed to go to stores and busy places many times when I am alone with both kids, but I am always concerned that Liesl will freak, Ava will start to scream, and that the planning, packing, and execution of such a mission in cold weather would rival that of any NASA project engineer's docket.

Now Ava is falling into something of a predictable routine with naps and nursing, and the weather is warming up a bit. We really needed a few new crib mattress pads, and I needed a few greeting cards for friends and family. So after Ava's morning nap and before Liesl's lunch, I loaded up both girls and went to Target. In the store, Ava rode in her baby car seat/carrier (I'm still terrified of putting her in a sling outdoors in this cold weather), and Liesl rode--illegally--in the basket of the cart. We did a return at the customer service desk and went about with our short shopping list.

Ava was in a perfect mood, having just had a nap and some nursing, and Liesl was very well-behaved--a relief to me, as her moods can and do change as fast as those of any normal 2 year-old. I was so happy with them both that I actually relaxed and enjoyed the errand. To celebrate, we had a sort of impulse buy, something that both girls would need eventually but I did not plan on buying today: white sandals for spring and summer church and dress-up. After picking up the mattress pad and greeting card, Liesl was just thrilled to tour the shoe aisle and comment on the many new spring fashions. Colorful shoes are fodder for very interesting chat with a toddler who now talks incessantly.

It's still a lot tougher than bringing only one child on errands. I'm not brave enough to drag them both on a huge Costco trip yet, but I daresay I've become far less chicken about taking both girls into stores and such. I am thankful, however, for warmer weather and conviences like the "baby bucket" car seat and huge grocery carts (whose child safety warnings that I, along with most other mothers with more than one child, will blatantly ignore.)

New shoes are terribly exciting when you're two.
(Their mother, not your typical shoe-shopping-happy woman, couldn't
care less about shoes for herself--and now I find buying shoes for little girls extremely fun.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Little Linguist

Liesl has been singing her ABC's for about a month, but I have had a hard time capturing it on video. She doesn't like to "perform" like a trained monkey, and I don't blame her. So it took quite a bit of convincing to get her to sing the whole thing without cutting out. (She also really likes to watch herself on videos, so it's difficult to catch anything on camera these days...the moment it comes out, she wants to see what's in it. Mommy and Daddy didn't have that luxury before the days of digital cameras. With all the begging to see herself immediately after a shot is taken, our cheap little point-and-shoot is something of a mixed blessing!)

Anyway, here it is...the fruit of our efforts. Liesl's effort was learning and singing the song; my effort was getting her to do the whole thing completely before asking to "See. See. See." It took quite a few shoots to get her to do the whole thing without her disappearing from the frame, but you could still hear "See....see....see...." as she came around to the back of the camera.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I just delivered a meal to a member of my Mom's club. She has a 2 year-old daughter and a brand-new, 3 week-old baby boy. She brought him to the door when I dropped off her meal so I could meet him. Someone stop me. It is WAY too soon for another baby. We don't even know if we're going to have another is NOT the time to decide! But he was so sweet, soft, and innocent...asleep in her arms...and she looked wonderful. The new mother glow was all about her. Oh, how I wanted to cuddle that new little baby boy.

Here's a peek at what really makes MY baby happy. I don't know if it's her father's genes (what is it with men loving bodily functions?), or if it is just a really enjoyable activity, or if she's just an all-around, happy baby--but nothing fires this kid up like a good poopie and (multiple) diaper changes. Thank goodness for cloth diapers....I do diaper changes on this kid about 12 times in a 24-hour period. They have been a savings not only to the environment, but to our budget as well. Momma's milk has great throughput. I absolutly love to change diapers, on my kids and on anyone else's. I know I am not the only mother that feels that way, too. :-)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Mom's Prayer

We usually say a "freestyle" prayer before every nap and bedtime with both Liesl and Ava. Our nap and bedtime prayers usually include thanksgiving for the blessings we have received: for our family that loves each other, for the food in our tummies and the roof over our heads, for our wonderful friends, for the freedom in our country. Prayers can also include requests and wishes, such as safe travel for our friends and family, or the wisdom to do the right things. And lastly, prayers can include apologies and repentance for things we did or thought during the day: for loosing tempers, for thinking mean thoughts, or for becoming exasperated and sarcastic throughout the day.

Today's naptime prayer, however, was not nearly as serene. It was, "Dear God, please let Liesl and Ava take a good nap together today so Mommy doesn't lose it. Amen."

That's all she wrote. Yep, it was that kind of day.

But the kids are still very cute, and they are blessings. Challenging blessings, but nothing worth doing is ever easy, right? Here are pictures. It's a good thing they're so keeps them alive.

Liesl and the sprouts...facinating stuff, really. I've heard the word "seeds" about
10,000 times these last 5 days.

She chose the outfit herself...I swear.

Too cute to have ever given Mom a moment's trouble.
(Who does she think she's fooling?)

Both of my girls just LOVE to be naked.

Please God, don't let anyone I know see me in this outfit.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Good intentions are not enough

A member of our Mom's club was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease this past December. She has two small children, ages 2 and 4. Our Mom's club is a pretty amazing group of women, and upon learning about it, plans were made to help her and her family out. Delivery of home-cooked meals were organized, fundraisers were held, hints and ideas on how to help the family were constantly offered to the membership.

The life expectancy of someone with an ALS diagnosis is between 2 to 5 years. However, she died this morning, just a few months after being diagnosed.

I had good intentions to help...and then I have some pretty pitiful excuses. I planned to cook a meal or two and have them delivered; but my excuse was that the family lived too far away. A fundraiser was held a few weeks ago at the restaurant of one of our other club members; but it was too cold for me to take the girls out by myself, and Tom had to work overtime that day. A group of ladies recently went to her home to give it a good cleaning within the last week, and one member even offered to watch other members' children so we could clean without interruptions; but I couldn't leave my nursing baby with someone and besides, that was Liesl's naptime, it was not convenient for me. I meant to go visit the family, as it was brought up many times that she would appreciate company and visitors; but I was too busy in my own life, wrapped up in my own "problems," dealing with the time constraints that I had really put upon myself and my family. I kept putting helping off: I'm really busy working on a show right now, or everybody in my family is sick and I don't want to spread the germs to her kids, or nobody has slept well and we wouldn't be good company anyway, or it's too cold to go out with a baby. So I have been telling myself these last few months that I'll go and visit this mom when I have time. But my time and opportunities to serve and spread the blessings I have been given have run out.

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;

Proverbs 3:9

This is not the first time I have been reminded strongly that Time and Money are both gifts from God. If we honor God with the firstfruits of our labor--by seeing as giving the best of our Time and Money to Him, and not "what's left over" or what we think we can afford to give after we're done spending our time and money on our own selfish pursuits--then God will reward us with more than we could ever give. As a woman in my Bible study has said several times over the last few years, "You can't outgive God." And you can't...if you give up everything you have and do it with a kind and giving heart, God will bless you with more then you were ever able to give. After all, look what happened to Job.

From now on, I hope I will remember that if I give up the best of my time and money, God will make sure I have time and money to take care of everything else that is "important" to my life and my family. My two children still have their mother; her two children will grow up without one. Surely that was worth an hour or two out of my busy week.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Mark 12:41-44