Archive for April 2011

Adventures in Diapering   5 comments

So before LA was born Steve and I talked about cloth diapering. We both liked the idea of it saving money long term and that it was better for the environment. Personally I liked the idea of avoiding late night diaper runs as well.

But we were apprehensive about trying cloth diapers as new parents. We both felt like learning how to take care of a new baby was enough to handle without figuring out cloth diapers as well.

My MIL offered a wonderful solution. She wanted to purchase a diaper service for us. This sounded heavenly to me. But, if we were going to cloth with more than one child it would make the most sense to invest in cloth of our own that we could reuse. Plus, it is so expensive it felt wrong to tie her in to such a long term commitment and if she couldn’t continue it we knew we would be spoiled.

Luckily we were blessed with a lot of disposable diapers. A LOT. As a teacher traditionally staff often does diaper showers. While my shower was not a diaper show officially a lot of teachers still got that for me as a gift. Students pitched in and bought giant economy boxes of diapers. Neighbors gave us boxes of diapers, co- workers. Around the second trimester my mom started buying a pack of diapers every time she went to the grocery store. As a result our linen closet was half full, literally, of diapers.

At 8 months old we are just now on our last giant box of diapers!

So about a month ago I started looking into cloth diapers since this seemed like the time to switch.

Wow. I was overwhelmed with the terminology. Fitted, pre-folds, pockets, AIO’s, FLIP, Two in ones… honestly I still haven’t learned all the lingo or what does what. I was referred to some excellent sites that helped a bit. The more I researched the more it seemed that it might be something I would just have to dive head first into.

I wrote a couple of my friends about their experiences and recommendations for cloth. They both gave very helpful advice. Carly at Carly Kablooey gave lots of great advice… but it still seemed I would have to do some trial and error on my own.

But cloth diapering saves money in the long term but can hit your pocket book hard if you are starting out, especially when you don’t know what will work or what won’t.

So after talking it over with Steve I began piecing a collection together of second hand cloth diapers. I got my first three pocket Happy Heineys from a mom at Mom’s Group. I got a fitted prefold off Cotton Babies on clearance. Just recently I got 7 diapers (a BumGenius, some Kawaii, and others) and 14 inserts off a woman on Craigs list for just 28 dollars (Including shipping). I got some Flips at Cotton Babies that were seconds. Piece by piece.

We did a cloth diaper day here or there… but at first I only had 3 then 5 so it was just a day here or there literally before I’d wash and all.

Then I got to have 12… so I could do a day but I didn’t have a diaper pail or wet bag or some of the other cloth diaper things that make it easier. I was taking each dirty diaper out to the wash and washing at the end of the day.

This past week a friend from Mom’s group made me a wet bag so that we can travel (if you are like me and don’t know what a wet bag is it’s a waterproof bag that you can stick a wet cloth diaper in so that when you are out you don’t have to deal with the smell or mess until you get home when you can dump the whole thing into the wash).

SO, for the last two days we have been exclusively cloth diapering (with one exception that I will get to). On one hand it’s a success… we’ve only had two leaks and I think one was my fault for not having the diaper on properly. One was because some of the cheaper ones I got don’t have great elastic, something I’m hoping to fix but can otherwise deal with while she’s still not crawling. Most of one I have are pockets.

Pockets are what they sound like, you stuff an insert in there to make it more absorbent, the idea is that it’s nice because you can stuff as much as you need in there. Wash and drying can be separate to save time with drying.

All in ones are just like disposable because they are all in one… he he.

Fitted prefolds are a fitted cloth diaper that you have to wear a cover over.

So far I least like the fitted prefold, but it could be that the cover chafes LA’s skin a bit which annoys me, also it’s terribly bulky…. it looks HUGE on her.

There is a diaper swap coming up and I’m hoping to unload these and get something out.

I have begun to covet the Flips or All in Two’s… they can be used as a cover or you can snap a liner inside. What I like about them is that you can unsnap the liner, wipe it down and put a new liner in so you don’t have to wash the outer part us much. It looks to me like it would cut down on laundry. PLUS, if you are out and about you can have disposable liners so you wouldn’t need the wet bag etc. I actually have a couple of these ordered and I’m excited 🙂

So far there are only two issues I’m having.

One is that we don’t yet have a diaper pail in the house and I’m not sure where I’d put one. Small problem to be sure but still.

Another is that it seems that the cloth might be giving LA a small diaper rash. She has been rash free for a couple months now and her skin looks a bit water logged and I don’t like it. I knew that with cloth you have to change more frequently so I had already upped us to nearly every hour. So I wonder. Anyone who does cloth have any thoughts?

The last is that we still are doing cloth for nighttime. She often doesn’t make it through the whole night without a leak…and she doesn’t generally wake up enough for a middle of the night diaper change (unless I want to wake her up, which I don’t). So I don’t want to leave her all night with moisture against her delicate bits… so I haven’t used one yet. I’ve heard there are great ones that work well, but I haven’t gotten there yet 🙂

So here we go!

So far I like how cute they are… I really want a cow print minky one… they are a bit addictive and I feel good using them. I also like that I’ve heard it’s easier to potty train when the time comes. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to her one way or another yet with them and I haven’t had much difficulty in using them. Steve even put her in one the other day without any problems.

So we’ll see how this goes….

Posted April 29, 2011 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Hippie Mommy, Mommy-hood, New Mom

Picture Perfect   Leave a comment

So every momma thinks their baby is just the most beautiful baby in the world.  I read a quote that seemed true.

There is only one beautiful child in the world and every mother has it. – Chinese Proverb

I’m no different.  I think my daughter is beautiful. But I also recognize that this is how I’m supposed to feel.

Well a couple of months ago we saw a post on facebook from a high school friend saying that they needed a back up baby model for a product that she sells. We went and the LA was a natural. She made all sorts of adorable faces for the camera. She flirted, she posed. They asked if it was ok to put her on the main airplane set with the model momma. I said that was fine. She smiled and just did everything just so.  Part of it is that she’s used to being in front of a camera, her uncle is Brentwood Photography. Part of it is that she really has no fear, she’s comfortable with just about anyone as long as Daddy or Momma are nearby.

But I was pleasantly surprised that her photos were chosen to be on the front of the package for the product!

Not only on the front but two on the back. 3 out of 4 pictures would be of her 🙂 The photographer and friend suggested we get her into modeling because she was such a natural. I didn’t really think too much about it.

Then I was researching some ways to increase her college fund and read that if we started a Roth IRA with just 1000 dollars by the time she reached retirement she’d have a quarter of a million dollars. Plus, she could borrow from it without penalty for college or her first home. Only catch is she has to work to put money into a Roth IRA and the only way to do that at her age is modeling or acting.

So Steve and I discussed it and said we’d think about it… maybe look for a sign.

A week or two later we were at a restaurant and a woman was flirting with LA from across the room. After a bit she came over and asked if she did baby modeling. We said no. She told us she was an advertising executive and we should consider it.

Ok… kind of a sign.

So I sent her picture out to some places I found. Then I did some research. Pretty much everything I read said that if they asked you for money it wasn’t worth it.

We heard back from one company that wanted her but wanted us to pay like 200 in insurance… because they said often clients don’t show up. We chucked that in the mail.

Then we heard from another company. I explained that we didn’t have any money, they said they still wanted to see us. The lady was very professional. The company was endorsed by the Better Business Bureau. But they wanted 300 dollars for pictures. Their reasoning made sense…. they couldn’t use our professional photos because they needed to know how long it took for her to warm up or smile for the camera, for a stranger. I can see that making sense. Then they needed to make comp cards to be competitive… this kind of made sense. But at the same time she’s nearly 8 months old. In just a few months those photos and comp cards would be obselete, requiring another 300 dollars. The lady explained that usually it’s 500 but they were willing to do this or that because she had experience and they liked her look. Steve says that is probably what they say to everyone… I don’t know. What I do know is I don’t have 300 dollars.

If we have to spend money I have a very small amount in mind and if that is what it takes we can do that… but it’s not 300 dollars lol.

This week I got another call. From an agency. They wanted to know if I had some different pictures. Apparently the ones I sent didn’t show them some things they wanted to see. They wanted to see her face straight on, no bows, no hats, no other people. They wanted to see a full body shot. They wanted me to add things to her resume like sitting up, smiling, being social etc.

So I did. I’m attaching the two pics I put up…. She called back. Said she needed my permission to send her picture around to some photographers and clients. I said that was ok….

So we’ll see.

If it’s meant to be it will be.

Honestly, I don’t want a Toddler in Tiara kid. I’m hesitant to do this for her at all. But I figure right now since I’m home with her our funds are tight. It’s the best thing for her now. But I think the best thing for her in 18 years is to have a college fund. If doing some modeling at this age is what it takes than I’m ok with that.

Right now I think that it is something we can do while she’s little… before she can let it go to her head or be affected. I am not looking to have the next Miley Cyrus on my hands… I just want my little girl to go to college.

Part of me feels excited and giddy… someone validated how pretty my baby is, that feels nice.

On the other hand I feel apprehensive. I don’t want LA to grow up in a world that tells her she’s fat or that judges her solely on looks. I don’t think I’d want her doing this a long time.

We’ll see what happens!

These are the pictures they liked… I did zoom the second one in so that it was closer to her face 🙂

Sleep Catch up   6 comments

So for a week or so I didn’t write because everything was seemingly back on track and we were just going along, enjoying how it went.

Then I didn’t write for a week or so because things were horribly wrong and I was too grouchy/tired to be bothered writing about it. At that point it wasn’t so much LA that was the problem but Cera, our furry baby. I don’t know if it was jealousy or what not but she suddenly decided to wake up a couple of times a night … between LA’s wake ups!

And when she wasn’t waking me up she was waking LA up. So between the two of them I was getting up nearly every hour.

Not good.

Steve and I were just talking about moving her to her own room.

We both love having her close but we definitely want to make sure at some point in the future our bedroom allows for some privacy for us as a couple… not just as parents. We are ok with her coming in for nightmares, thunderstorms, tummy aches and even just for morning cuddles… but eventually we want to have the evenings for ourselves.

The problem is she still is inconsistent with her sleep and I feel that if we move her it will only make her sleep more inconsistent. Mainly because it will take me longer to get to her and she will be more awake by the time I get there.

We tried giving her oatmeal right before bed…. I’ve tried several of the No Cry Sleep solution… but we are at the point that where Daddy will have to be involved too.

I hate to ask him to do this because he is at work all day and I don’t want to mess up his sleep too much. I know it’s a natural parent thing… but since LA sleeps in until 9 or 10 I get to sleep in a bit. Not fabulous or consistent sleep mind you but it helps take the edge off any night wakings etc.

But I think we’re there.

We talked about it a bit and I think soon we’re going to try to have him put her to bed. I already know that in the evening if he goes in and puts the paci back in her mouth for a wake up she goes right back to sleep 90% of the time. If I do it it doesn’t work 90% of the time lol.

So I think once she’s over her initial shock of it being Daddy in the middle of the night (and I pretty much guarantee she will be furious the first few times) I think it might help her get used to not having that middle of the night feeding and we can go from there.

I hope….

And I’m trying to get Cera to stop doing the night time wake ups… feeding her earlier, helping her find a comfy place to sleep (pretty much any soft surface OTHER than her bed)… if she keeps it up I’ll have to take her to the vet because it’s not normal for her to potty this much at night.

So hopefully that will work….

hopefully……

Posted April 19, 2011 by etainl in Mommy-hood, New Mom, Sickness & Health

My black thumb   Leave a comment

I do not have a green thumb.

I would very much like to have one… I long to harvest foods from my beautiful garden and have flowers bloom with little effort. However, the opposite is usually what happens.

I try and I try and I try but plants just die.

When Steve bought me a rose bush we named George I was strictly told that there was a no touching policy in place. I was to look but not touch. He was sure that if I were to touch George he would immediately whither and die.

My grandfather, however, had two green thumbs. He probably even had some spare green thumbs hanging around his garage. Poppop tried to teach me. He gave me peace lillies to keep in my room and coached me. When they would begin to look ill he would take them home, fix them up and bring them back to me well.

In middle school I learned about pesticides and genetically engineered plants. I vowed to be vegetarian and start a garden. Poppop patiently tilled a section of the yard for me. We planted all sorts of things and I religiously watered and weeded my garden…. for about a week.

I think we had one serving of green beans from that garden.

Poppop always had fresh tomatos and green peppers ripening on the kitchen windowsill. I never ate one of those tomatos because I don’t care for them raw.

Now that he’s gone I’d give anything to eat one.

We lost my grandfather nearly 13 years ago now and, like deep pain, I still miss him as if it were yesterday.

So when we got our home I was excited at the idea of trying another garden.

Steve and I dutifully tilled a bit of early and planted seeds… not much happened. We chalked it up to starting too late.

The next year I planted some tomatos in a pot and some herbs in a little garden on the side of the house. As I dug into the earth I could hear Poppops voice in my ear saying, “Ange this is some good dirt.” I felt him coaching me as to where I should plant things and what steps were next. I was so encouraged that I planted some flowers in pots around our deck.

Well, we had several harvest of tomatos that I used in pasta and my herbs thrived. My flowers made it mid summer. I was proud.

Last year we had several meals of green beans and several beautiful cucumbers from my little garden (I gave up on tomatos because neither of us love them). My herbs were so plentiful I had to give them away. My flowers lasted all summer until LA was born and Steve and I both stopped watering them. To be fair, Steve did pick up the majority of the watering when I would forget…. and in my defense I was pregnant and not inclined to go out in the hot Florida sun to water.

This year I planted more herbs- now I have mint, sage, basil and rosemary. And I planted more vegetables and even some fruit. I have blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, cantelope, cauliflower, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, leeks and green pepper.  There is also one mystery plant that I lost the tag and I don’t remember what it is lol. There are flowers all over the deck.

Steve has always been supportive although this year he questioned buying so many plants since, “You don’t really produce that much.” I said I had to have something to start!

I sense Poppop with me… I’m taking baby steps. Each year I’m doing better.

I’m hoping to keep up my watering and weeding. It helps that in the evening I take LA out in her bouncer with her little sunhat. She coos at the dogs and the birds while I work. She laughs at the water I spray. I hope it’s enough to keep me outside as the temperature heats up… I’m not much for the Florida summers, even though I’m a native.

I will confess that I procrastinated getting some of the plants into the ground so the watermelon, leeks, raspberry and cantelope already don’t look so hot…. hopefully they are salvagable, otherwise I may get another starter. I did learn that I cannot start things from seeds. Seeds and I don’t get along.

Let’s see how I do.

Leeks

Cucumber

Watermelon already not looking good

Believe this is cucumber or eggplant

Cauliflower

My rosemary that is threatening to take over the garden area! three years old and not dead… whoohoo!!!

Some deck flowers

See me touch the rose without fear!

Posted April 14, 2011 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Food, Hippie Mommy, Stay at Home Mom

Thoughts of a (former?) Florida teacher   Leave a comment

So the social media sites are all atwiter (he he) with hateful messages about Florida Govenor Rick Scott.

I’m no different. I’m pretty much calling it now that he is making himself a one term Govenor. Even die hard republicans I know are no longer supportive of him.

It’s because anyone with half a rational brain understands the importance of teachers and what they do.

Here is what he’s done::

– he has eliminated tenure. Which means all teachers are on a year to year contract which means they can be let go for any reason: not getting along with the principal, budget cuts, being too vocal over political or union issue etc… no protection

-tied student test scores into pay.  At least half of an educator’s evaluation will be based on student learning gains for classroom teachers, 30 percent for non-classroom personnel and 40 percent for school administrators, instead of 100 percent of the evaluation being based on principal or peer review. 

-Teachers in hard-to-staff subject areas, like math and science, will earn more money, instead of paying all teachers – regardless of subject taught – using the same scale.

Two ironies that I immediately noticed is it’s call the Student Success Act when it will actually make it more difficult for students to be successful with the changes he’s made.

The other is his quote- “I am proud that the first bill I sign is this important legislation that will give Florida the best educated workforce to compete in the 21st century economy,” Governor Scott said.  “We must recruit and retain the best people to make sure every classroom in Florida has a highly effective teacher.” When what it will do is make qualified, educated people want to work anywhere else but in the classroom that he’s now made infinitely more hostile and difficult.

 Here is why it’s all sorts of messed up.

Tenure- Well, I can see why this seems like a good idea. It makes sense if you only look at the surface issue. Getting rid of tenure helps get rid of bad teachers. It removes their protection.

But there are several problems with that.

 Most “bad” teachers don’t make it through their first few years. Teaching is hard. Really hard. My husband who is a big, tough guy and used to be a bouncer always proclaims that he would never ever be able to do it. This is after visiting me in my classroom for maximum of an hour.

There are two groups of people who have been found to get battle fatigue- soldiers and teachers. At first it sounds ludicrious but think of it. As a teacher you are in charge of 30+ people (for one hour before they switch to another 30 you are supposed to know intimately as well…. and then another still… and another).  You need to know everything about them- strengths, weaknesses, proclivities, do they have a boyfriend or girlfriend in the room next door, learning disabilities, home problems, etc. Then you are supposed to teach them while they are trying to socialize. While being interrupted every few seconds. And it’s not just “Can I go to the bathroom?” When they ask if they can go you immediately have to remember how often they have gone, will they be missing something they need, is this the same time they go every day (because they are meeting someone in the hall), is someone else already out etc. All while you are teaching, scanning for cell phones, and other issues. It’s mentally exhausting. I can’t tell you how many times I came home and just crashed because I simply couldn’t process another thought.

Pretty much every year I have been in the classroom (10 years btw) I have seen a fresh faced teacher arrive straight from college. She has wanted to be a teacher her whole life. She has just graduated from college with an Education degree, completed her internship and she is SO excited to begin. Rarely have I seen this teacher complete their first month. Every year there is one to fall…. and it’s sad. But understandable. It’s really hard.

And that’s just to survive. To be a good teacher is even more difficult.

And it takes experience. It is why the college graduates often don’t do well. You need practice. You need trial and error. This is why the best teachers are the ones who have been doing it the longest.

This is why the more expeirenced teachers get paid more.

And THAT is why when budget cuts happen those teachers are targeted for dismissal.

Usually (and we haven’t received them in a long time) you get a teensy tiny pay upgrade for every year you are there. So teachers who have been there 20+ years are paid more than newbies… they are also significantly better than newbies.

When budget cuts come through it makes sense to buareucrats (and only to beaurcrats) to get rid of those fat cat experienced teachers and hire newbies instead.

THAT is what tenure is supposed to protect. It protects the experienced teachers from greedy politicians so that students can continue to be educated by quality tested professionals.

In the majority, these experienced teachers are better. There are exceptions. I can think of two or three experienced teachers who should have retired long before they did…. however, there are ways to get them from the classroom, even with tenure.

Should there be a way to remove ineffective teachers? Sure.

Should it be by removing one of the protections we have to keep qualified, experienced teachers (tenure)? No

Another topic I can’t even begin to discuss is how very, very political the school system is. As a student I never would have imagined that the teachers lounge and front office was as full of gossip and cliques as the school cafeteria. It seems in some ways immaturity rubs off on some. This means that teachers could be targeted for removal simply because of personality clashes…. I don’t think I have to explain how ridiculous this is.

Another issue of tenure and protection is protection from parents and students.

I know this sounds crazy… but students can be angry when they don’t get what they want. Shocking right? Take a student who is really smart and give him a tough teacher. He/she isn’t getting the grades he wants… is it his fault? Of cooooooooouuuursssssss not. It’s that mean old teacher who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Said student will spend hours filling their parents head with examples of how mean this teacher is and how she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Doesn’t matter that half of it’s blatently untrue and the other half taken out of context. The majority of parents will believe it because they’d rather believe in the myth of the big bad teacher than their lazy, entitled child.

If this happens with enough students the teacher will be targeted. Now, do you think this happens to teachers who give easy assignments and don’t expect much? Or do you think this happens to tough teachers who expect the students to do work and makes them work for those grades? Exactly… it happens more often to the good, tough teachers….. Another group that tenure was meant to protect and now with Gov Scott is left unprotected.

Merit Pay- Ok, in theory I can understand this. Heck, in theory I even like it. As a teacher I would LOVE to be paid based on my quality and how hard I work. I’d make a whole lot more than I do. BUT, tying it into student test scores is just ludicrious.

As a teacher who tries, I have to say that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink. I have called parents, I have kept kids after school, I once even got down on my knees and begged and still not always had students respond. I asked a classroom of students what they thought of this idea and they laughed. Some of them explained that they have had really great teachers who did everything they were supposed to but they still didn’t want to or care to work so they didn’t.

Lucky teacher, their salary will now be tied to that sense of apathy.

And remember those revengeful students… you don’t think it will become a threat from kids who are too short sighted to realize they are truly hurting themselves the most.

To put it in perspective it’s like paying a dentist based on how many cavaties his patients get. He can do all he can and explain things but ultimately it’s the patient who has to take care of his mouth.

On top of all the of that everyone has gone on and on about how teachers teach tests and the quality of education drops…. teaching tests is only hurting our kids and this is just going to cause more of it.

Also, remember those ineffective teachers? Do you really think this will affect their pay? Do you really think that test scores will validly reflect what their students are learning? No… of course now. It’s like asking a criminal to tell you honestly how many cars he stole. There will be students passed by teachers simply to help their own salaries…. quality teachers won’t do this of course but the bad ones will and will look like the better teachers on paper. Thinking of giving a tough test? Well, if it was going to affect your pay would you think twice?

And then there are teachers like me. I teach English IV, Humanities, Creative Writing I, Creativing Writing II, Yearbook, Journalism and Newspaper. Besides English (which I teach to Seniors so they don’t test anymore) I don’t teach a core tested subject. So my pay will be based on test results for subjects I don’t even really directly work with.

And if I was support staff if it would be even worse. Obviously support staff helps the students overall but that’s like the receptionist being paid for how well the patients do with cavities in my previous dentist analogy.

Oh but wait, I’d already be getting paid less….. because under Scotts new plan English teachers aren’t as necessary as math or science teachers.  Yup reading and writing not as important so I’d get paid less…. and what is that going to do with the arts or electives or anything that allows students to expand their horizons?

Ok, this vent has gone on long enough. Let me say one more thing…. there are always people who talk about what a cushy job being a teacher is. The hours are great. You get summers and holidays off… blah blah blah…. If you know a teacher at all you know this is not true.

Hours? I had to be ready to teach a bunch of seniors Macbeth at 7 am. Really? I don’t even want to learn Macbeth at 7 am, but I have to motivate a group of 18 year olds who think Shakespeare is about as relevant as a condom is to a eunach. Sure, the kids leave at 1:50ish but then there is the grading and the conferences. I did two activities, yearbook and newspaper and three clubs- Ethics Bowl, Speak Club (animal rights) and Book Club. I rarely left before 4 or 5 and there were several nights I was there until 9 at night. Regularly I was there for work late Thursday, which was 7 at least. Good teachers work more hours than your average 9-5 job.

Plus, as a teacher you are never really “off.” I can’t wear PJ’s to the grocery store because my students work there. I couldn’t go to a popular “out” spot for my bachelorette party because students are often there. My life is not ever private… they are everywhere. And I don’t mind, I care about my students… but I am never as free of my job as say, well, a dentist.

Planning period… this long long break people refer to. It’s for calling parents, grading papers, planning what we will do. Just the math on grading…. 150 kids with grading being done in 50 minutes…. 3 papers a minute, really? And thats not taking planning, calls or emails into account.

Summer and holidays off… we aren’t paid for that time! In order to be paid across the summer teachers have their salaries artificially spread out. So we actually lose money in interest etc.

Steve once did the math on what I make… if you put in that I stayed until 4 (which was a conservative guess on my time)… I made 5.97 an hour. If you counted in my benefits I think I made 7.78 or something. Yup… I’m an overpaid and appreciated professional. (is this before or after taxes? I can’t remember… but either way it’s not great, especially when it’s spread out over a year)

If we care about our kids we’ll take care of our teachers. They hold the future of our country, everyones country, in their hands.

The bills that are being passed and the attitude towards teacher insures that more and more of the good ones will look elsewhere.

I love my kids. They are MY kids. I care, deeply. But things like this just give me more reason to try to stay home. I would miss it immensely but the pressure and stress and all doesn’t seem worth it when I couldn’t be with my family OR make money to justify it.

It’s really sad.

Posted April 5, 2011 by etainl in Culture, Education