Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 1 of the 5th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Why am I doing this?

The first time I ever folded a flat was at the young age of 10 years.  I had become an aunt, and a very willing one at that, who would do anything for my dearest nephew!  Maybe I already realised at that tender age that folding a flat perfectly can be very therapeutic, who knows?  But that was my (humble) introduction to cloth and somehow it just evolved from there that I would one day choose to use cloth with my own children.

When one of the ladies on our Facebook Page South African Cloth Nappy Users first spoke about the #flatschallenge I thought to myself "This could get interesting". I immediately read up about it and decided that I wanted to do it.  WHY?

1. Handwashing is the ultimate stain killer
Because I in any case handwash SOME of my diapers everyday (I'm a bit pedantic about stains and believe handwashing is the best stain killer!) so it would be interesting if I could keep it up for a week.

2. Sorting out contact dermatitis
My stash mostly consists of prefolds, terry squares and flannel flats, with a few nighttime solution cloth diapers, pretty pockets and AIO's thrown in for good measure.  My daugther recently started showing signs of sensitivity to several different types of cloth diapers (AND disposables), especially the elastic in the leg gussets, exposed fold-over elastic, exposed PUL, microsuede and bamboo fibers, which has now grown into a full-blown allergy with resultant contact dermatitis upon exposure.  It's at the point that we have to apply cortisone cream to get rid of the blisters on her skin where these fabrics / components gets into contact with her.  Thus this challenge could not have come at a better time.  No better way to clear up any rash than good old cotton flats!  I also had to make fleece soakers to overcome the problem of sensitivity to elastic (exposed or inside of casings) and PUL (polyurethane laminate - waterproof layer in modern cloth nappies / covers)

3. Overcoming the challenge of load shedding
This #flatschallenge would also allow me to be just a bit gentler on the planet by saving some electricity (and actually help me develop some strong arm muscles!).  If you're not living in South Africa, you possibly won't know about our load shedding problem.  We periodically have our electricity supply cut to lift the load off of the supplying power plants and generate / store more electricity for later.  This can wreak havoc if you have a BUNCH of diapers to wash! But if you're handwashing then this is no longer a problem.

4. Getting into practise for our holiday without a washing machine
We'll be going on our annual family holiday in 3 weeks' time and I won't have access to a washing machine at the holiday resort.  So this truly is a trial-run for then and to see how I cope.  Well, I actually have no other choice than to cope because my daughter is allergic to everything else.  Which means I can't take disposables on holiday to avoid diaper laundry.  But I don't mind because who doesn't like a cute big cloth bum baby?!

On Sunday night I moved out all the prefolds, replacing them with every.single.receiving blanket I own, as well as all the flats available in my house.  Included as waterproof covers are my fleece soakers and PUL covers (to go OVER the soakers as to prevent any further rash)
Snappi's, Terry Squares and Flannel Flats

Quickly drying the last of the diaper laundry to prepare for Day 1 of the #flatschallenge
Day 1 of this challenge saw me learning how to use the camper washer to save my precious hands, figuring out alternatives on effectively wringing out excess water from the flats and learning a new fold - the Jo-fold.  My husband even joined in on the fun by folding and fastening a flat onto our little girl - so proud of him!  I have also become acutely aware of just how much I use my washing machine for keeping up with diaper laundry, even though I tend to handwash a few diapers during the course of the day.  I have new-found respect for moms (and dads!) who have to make-do without a washing machine!  You ROCK!  Here follows a few pics of Day 1,

Starting the epic Camper Washer journey

And 100 plunges done = 1 wash cycle
Wringing out the flats by halfway hooking it onto the bath handle and twisting it.

The Jo-fold. SUCH and awesome fold and fit!

The Jo-fold even has a natural leg-gusset!

Daddy joining in on the folding fun!

Phew, I cannot believe I actually MADE it through my first day of the #flatschallenge.  What really kept me motivated was the fact that I had accountability partners - my Facebook Cloth Nappy User friends!  Which made me think, if I ever want to give up sugar, I should just start a challenge and get my Facebook friends to accept the challenge with me.  Accountability is KEY on Day 1!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Being a Stay-At-Home-Mommy....Pros and Cons

First off, I cannot BELIEVE that it's been 8 months since my last post.  That's rather slapstick of me!  Secondly, I have come to learn that there are both pros and cons to being a stay-at-home-mommy (SAHM).  Today I'm definitely experiencing a 'con-day'.

I've looooooved being able to see my little girl grow and develop and play with her as I please.  But let's be honest, I also love not having to get up at 05h30 in the morning, having leisurely breakfasts, coming and going as I please and planning trips away from home on any given moment without too much thought having to go into how it would disrupt my schedule.  Linmari is really becoming quite a little girl, playing with her dolls, caring for them and trying to baby-wear them whenever possible.  She enjoys messy play (even though I understand the importance thereof from an OT point of view, I REALLY dislike messy play because I don't like having to clean up the mess afterwards) and lots of painting.  Drawing and playing with play dough also provides hours of fun for her. This little girl is also quite a help when it gets to anything in the baking and cooking department.  She'll happily mix ANYTHING and last night was very eager to help and grate the carrots (although I had to be careful that she wouldn't grate her own little fingers).  She wants to help but on her own terms.  Her speech has also developed quite a bit and it's amazing to hear how her sentences improve from day to day.  Plus, she's VERY good at remembering anything, so I use her as my little reminder app ;-) And she has become quite a pro at building yachts with her animal Duplo set :-) She is silly and fun and loves to copy Mommy. And the hugs I get ever so often is worth more than bags and bags full of money!

However, there are days like today, where I am just struggling to cope with this role of SAHM.  This morning I was thinking about what it would look like if I was to write down what I do during the day and how it contributes to my own mental health.  I had a melt-down again today because I realise that SAH-moms need support.  They need other moms that are in the same situation than them, who can really understand them and where their kids can just play with each other whilst the mommies unwind for a bit.  I have exactly ONE friend that's a SAHM and she lives some distance from me.  So even though we try to meet up regularly, it still is quite a schlep to meet up on a whim.  I am missing my adult-interaction and get upset when my husband gets home late from work because he's basically my only adult conversation for the day.  And yes, there are days like today, where potty training gets REALLY old and frustrating!  Even though I have plenty of good days, by five in the afternoon I just want to see an ADULT.  I still have interests and I read up on and actually get to do some of those whenever there is time (like her nap-times).  And at least I have a freelance job that I can do on the sideline (but it's all email-based, so no real interaction there).  I have tried to find moms and tots support groups but you mostly have to pay for them (I think one can just rotate each week to another person's house and let them host or everyone just comes with snacks and kids and play a bit).  And since we're on a really tight budget (yes, self-inflicted because I chose to stay at home rather than work), that is not first priority.

Basically, I just had to get this off of my chest.  Even though I love being a SAHM on most days, today wasn't one of them.  I am forever grateful that it's weekend and that we get to have some family time.  Heck, I'm seriously looking forward to the kiddies party we're attending tomorrow!!!  ADULTS!!!!  And now I realise how lonely it must have been for all the SAHM before me and those that are still to follow.  It's not that I feel like lesser of a person because I am staying at home, it's rather that I just still need an outlet where I can be among adults whilst having my little girl with me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Frugal living: Planting my own veggie patch

For years I have wanted my very own veggie patch.  Somewhere I can go to when life gets rough and I just want some peace and quiet.  Somewhere I can go to to harvest my own food.  Well, I FINALLY have started with my little, tiny veggie patch.

My neighbour went to our local nursery to buy some cherry tomato, green pepper and lettuce seedlings.  She then divided it up between herself, her mother and me.  SO grateful for that contribution!  I planted my little seedlings (but I'm still learning about this whole gardening thing) and have waited in great anticipation for the seedlings to grow, grow, GROW!  Okay, then learned that I actually have to water them twice daily to look nearly as nice as my neighbour's vegetable plants!

I then went out to the same nursery on Sunday and bought parsley, eggplant / brinjal seedlings, spinach and swiss chard seedlings.  We split it up between the neighbour and our garden again.  Here are the photos of what we've got so far.  Sorry for the flooding, I underestimated the let-down of my neighbour's  watering can.

The tomato and green pepper seedlings and parsley on the far right.

Eggplant / brinjal on the far left, spinach in the middle and Swiss chard on the right with some spinach, Swiss chard and lettuce plants in the front (although you can't see the green lettuce, since it's been chewed away during the night).

Having these plants really makes me excited because it means I can provide a healthier food for my family without having to spend so much money on fresh, organic vegetables!  I am thinking about still buying coriander, dill, lemon grass, spring onions and then to plant broccoli.  Maybe THEN Linmari will actually eat broccoli!

Oh, and to follow is not necessarily about frugal living (although it could tie in with the theme).  I have finally, after a year and 4 months of living in our home, sorted out the hallway cupboard.  No easy feat, I tell you!  I know it doesn't look super neat, but it's organized!  At a moment's notice I can grab whatever you would ask of me from that cupboard. 

Lastly, my beautiful monkey of toddler is growing up SOOOO quickly!  She's learned to sign the following words within days of each other:
  • Cheese
  • Swim
  • Finished
  • More
  • Sleep
  • Thirsty
I am so darn impressed with her!  At this moment I'm SURE that I'm forgetting some of the words she can sign, but hey, that's all for a next post.  She's been able to sign "milk" and "bath" for quite some time.

First she climbed onto the dining table...

Then on top of the kitchen counter...

And today she figured out how to climb into the tumble drier (not plugged in).
I am LOVING this child!  How I wish we could have another one soon!  Praying hard that we'll fall pregnant soon.  I LOOOOOOOOVE this SAHM-thing ;-)

Monday, September 16, 2013

13 months and 5 days old!!!

This gorgeous child is already 13 months and 5 days old today!!!  I was not anywhere near a user-friendly computer on her 13 month day to capture all her newest tricks.  So, here goes.

  • Linmari has added to her vocabulary and now also says "Ouma, Oupa, (Grandma, Grandpa), eina (ouch), eier (egg), no (shakes head)" after a week with the grandparents.
  • Linmari further advanced to saying "Kyk daar (look there), ja (yes)".  I'm sure there were more words, I just cannot remember them. :-(
  • She is too cute for words, starting to point, click, drag and drop (my dad always said that my nephew treated us like a user would treat the Windows OS, LOL).  Last night she kept on pointing at the kitchen counter and we thought she wanted fresh strawberries.  Turns out, she wanted COOKIES and knew exactly where to find them!  Today she screamed and cried like it was nobody's business.  When I investigated, she indignantly picked up a building block that she was playing with and pointed to it.  Then she proceeded to pick up another building block after placing the first one down on the floor again, and pointed at the second one.  And then she BABBLED!  She seemed very upset with her building blocks - HAHAHA!
  • She babbles a LOT and non-stop!  I think she's taking after me.
  • She's started to open the fridge and investigate what's inside.  NOT very convenient when I'm trying to cook.
  • She loooooooooves frozen strawberries and smoothies!
  • She has decided that she no longer likes olives and lemons.
  • She is currently cutting FOUR molars - OUCH! (On Friday night she kept on saying "Eina" (ouch) and throwing tantrums, until we figured out [my husband, really] that her gums were really sore and that she is actually cutting those teeth.)
  • She is quickly becoming quite the master of climbing onto tables.  Her latest endeavour involves figuring out how she'll get onto our dining room table from the futon situated next to the table.  She's already figured out how to get onto her own table out on the patio.
  • Linmari has suddenly become Miss Independent....it's both frustrating and cute at the same time to observe!  If I touch anything that she was about to eat I can forget that she'll eat it.  She wants to, NEEDS to, pick up her own food with a spoon or fork and she doesn't need anyone's help - THANK YOU VERY MUCH!  (*groan*).  So we're on loads of finger foods now and most meals are eaten out on the patio at her table to avoid having to perform hectic clean-ups after every meal.  She seems to love the arrangement.
  • Linmari looooooooves cheese as well!  In any form - grated, sticks, processed, whatever!
  • Her sand pit is one of her most treasured play areas. 
  • She can sort loose cubes into a muffin tray - how cool is that?!
  • She's still not sleeping through - we're attempting sleep training again (a bit of a nightmare with her cutting teeth).
  • She's attended her third wedding for the year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Especially the bit where she got to dance with her daddy, and then with her stroller!
Every day I'm amazed at what my child can do.  I realise that life in and of itself truly is a miracle!  What a fortunate parent am I to get to stay at home and experience all her milestones with her?!  I just want to call everyone and tell them how wonderful my little girl is!  Love this kid to bits!

On a more productive note, though.  Since our little bit of a financial dilemma (in a worldly view, not by ANY means in a spiritual way) GOD has provided generously in our needs.  I started baking way more, including milktart, and also learned how to make koeksisters from my mom.  Then one of Thinus' colleagues asked whether or not I could make his son turning 5 years old, a SpongeBob birthday cake.  I said "Sure". worked out a price and together with a friend set out to make and decorate the cake.  Below is a picture of the final product.  I couldn't have done it without my friend's help.  She coloured and rolled out all the fondant, made all the facial features from a picture I had drawn her and stood by me till nearly 11 on Thursday night.  The hard work paid off and it seems like there were a few people that were interested in my cake baking skills.  All I can say is "Soli Deo Gloria!" - "Glory be to GOD alone!".

May you all have a blessed week!  I better get my baby's washing on the line and then get into bed.  It's rather late and I need some uninterrupted sleep!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Putting my trust in the LORD (where it SHOULD be!)

I have been 'unemployed' for just over a month now, but only this month has the financial reality of it all sunk in. 

We've had a third of our income cut by me staying at home.  Add to that the fact that we went from two salaries with a 2/3 subsidised top range medical aid / insurance to one salary that has to cover a whole medical aid premium, and you've got financial chaos.  And let us not forget that I somehow missed the termination letter in my pile of pension fund papers, causing me to get my full salary and now I have to pay back 29 days plus the tax that was taken from the gross salary (my mistake costing us big bucks).  Oh, and the medical bills that keep on coming...and the double medical aid premium for this month to ensure we didn't have a break in coverage.  The list of financial woes feels endless.

And then my husband said to me: "Liefie ("Dear"), did anyone die because we lost this income / you missed a termination letter / medical aid was a double premium?".
Me: "No".
Him: "Then why are you so worried? It's ONLY money. And ultimately GOD is in control and the PROVIDER of our needs. We have VERY little left for the month but GOD knows how we'll make it."
I hear him saying: "Sit back and check how GOD's going to perform miracles in our lives!"

Now, please don't see this as a post in which I'm moaning. I'm not.  I'm sketching the scenario for you.  And I'm excited!!!  Because I serve the Living GOD!  Jesus has NEVER, NOT ONCE, let us down. Not financially or otherwise.  GOD also gave us the ability to be entrepreneurs and use opportunities to add to our necessary income / provide in our needs.  I have recently sold rusks and milktarts, which is now allowing me to keep to certain monthly financial commitments that I have made.  Other people have green fingers and can make anything grow.  I'd like to think that I have 'baking' fingers and can bake and sell anything that I set my mind on.

One of my friends asked me if I'm not considering going back to work in light of these financial strains.  I said there is no way!  I simply loooove being with my daughter and even though that comes at a financial cost to us, the emotional rewards far outweighs the monetary loss!  Not having to stress about work is gorgeous!  Getting to wake up next to my beautiful daughter and getting to lie in some mornings is superb.  Seeing this gorgeous baby girl developing each day is simply amazing! Nothing can convince me at this moment in time that I should be at any other place.
She just loves playing "escape artist"!

And she's a very messy, avo-loving eater!
The best part of her day is when she gets to PLAY!!!

For the first time in my life I'll strive to be the COMPLETE Proverbs 31 woman / wife / mother / business woman, not only those parts that suit me.

Cherishing every single moment!
All the glory be to GOD!