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I have been addicted to cloth diapers for awhile now.  Seriously addicted.  I know there are moms bitten by the bug much harder than I have been, but I have been contemplating figuring out a way to keep them in my life for quite awhile now- even though my boys are all in various stages of potty training.

I don’t have a lot of interest in opening up a store- I have met some great women over the past few years who have done that, and I think for me, it would be more work that I am looking for.  The other option (not that it’s less work), was learning how to sew diapers and open up my own Etsy shop (or Hyena cart), and sell diapers.  Hybrid fitteds specifically.

I have had my grandma’s sewing machine for years, just hanging out in my closet, and last week I finally decided this was the time to take her out, and see what she can do instead of just thinking about it.

Well, she wasn’t doing much the first week!  Every stitch brought a broken thread (or needle) and my patience was waning.  I just wanted to practice- get the basics down- anything.  And here I couldn’t even sew a straight line without re-threading my machine.  The week was particularly stressful with the boys and at one point I wanted to hurl that sewing machine across the room.

But, I didn’t.  I went to Facebook, I sent out an SOS on a cloth diapers sewers group, and I took a break.

I ordered fabric (thank you Aunt Judy- your giftcard will be put to good use!).  I printed patterns.  I started a wishlist on Amazon with all of the things I will need to get this going- mostly so I can keep track of all of the little things I am constantly finding myself needing- like sewing scissors and elastic and pins!  I bought a domain name.  I started a Facebook page.  I started an Etsy shop.  I started tweaking logo designs and seeking out help in that arena.  I started sourcing materials.  I started reading up on CPSIA compliance.

Last night I went through my diaper stash to look at my favorite diapers- what were they made of?  How were they sewn?  What don’t I like?  What did I love?  I want to start basic, so I found one of my favorites, which is pretty much the most basic AIO you will ever find.  It’s by OsoCozy, and I figured it was a good place to start because I have plenty of prefolds laying around just waiting to be used for something.

I traced the OsoCosy onto a prefold, then I traced it onto an old T-shirt.  Then I went to bed.

This morning I got up and went back downstairs to take a look at Betty Lou.  That’s her name- after my Grandma.  I can’t really get too mad at a sweet retro sewing machine named Betty Lou, can I?!

I sat down, I adjusted tensions, I cleaned under the feeder dog plate, I cleaned the shuttle, I re-wound the bobbin- nothing.  Still breaking.  Still jamming.

I grabbed a piece of a prefold just to see if a different fabric was going to make a difference.

And it did!

Nothing broke.  Nothing jammed!

I grabbed the prefold and the T-shirt fabric, and I started to sew.  I won’t lie.  It’s not good.

My curves are atrocious, I am all over the place with my straight lines, mostly because I was so freaked out that the machine was still stitching that I kept slowing down and speeding up.  I turned the diapers and then had a lot of difficulty closing it because the fabric was so thick, but I closed it (it ain’t pretty).  And then I called it done.

It’s not a hybrid fitted (maybe a contour?).  It is not top-stitched.  It has no elastic.  I have no idea what size this would be- something in the small, under 15 pound range.  It needs a Snappi or a pin and definitely a cover.

But, it’s done!

I almost cried.  After days of frustration at that machine, I whipped this out in minutes.  It only gets better from here, and I am so excited to start seeing what I can do- Mama needs a hobby!

1st diaper

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When I read the pop-up on my Google Reader that it was going away in July, I had a mini freak out.  Seriously.  Thoughts of never seeing my favorite bloggers again because I depend on my reader for URL’s like people depend on cell phones for phone numbers.  I spent a good part of the next few days agonizing about all of the things I was going to miss out on- would the bloggers I read miss me?  I surely wasn’t going to be reading as many blogs as I currently do- however would I find them all!!!

Yeah.  So it was a little dramatic.

I popped over to Feedly on the recommendation of pretty much everyone, and you know what?  It took about 8 seconds for me to transfer my Google Reader.  But, the most exciting thing?  All the blogs I had subscribed to on a whim and never ever read and could never get out of my reader because no matter what I did, no matter what trick I followed, those blogs that always came back as soon as I logged into Blogger?  GONE!  All of them!

I also took the time to cull though all of the blogs that had long since closed up shop- last post 56 days old?  They might be back.  Last post is 1,347 days old…probably not!  It was the most satisfying kind of organizing.

So, starting fresh with a newly pared down reader.  I have less than 100 blogs in there for the first time in years.  Of course now I am itching to add some more- preferably people who are not dabbling in blogging until they find something new and shiny in 5 weeks.  Also- no strictly monetized blogs.  I get it- I do it to an extent over at The Slacker Mom, but when every single post is brought to you by a sponsor- it doesn’t matter what your story is, if every post is sponsored, it just reads like copy and I’m not buying it.  I want some real, old school blogs.  Blogs where the writing and ideas took center stage.  I feel like I’m trying to resurrect a dieing breed, but I know they are out there.

Here are 5 blogs that stand out to me in some special way:

- The first blog I ever read (before I even knew what a blog was) was A Serious Job is no Excuse.  I am so not into fashion, but I LOVED that blog.
- The first blog I commented on, and the first Minnesota blog I ever read, AND the first blogger who I sought out via google months after she shut down her old blog knowing that she would probably pop up somewhere else is Kitchen Blogic.  (I was totally right, and I’m so glad I did!)
- The blog post I have linked to the most is the tutorial on washing an lanolizing wool diaper covers from The Gnome’s Mom.  It is seriously the best.  If you are addicted to wool- check it out!
- The blog that makes me nod my head, laugh, and cry is Yeah. Good Times.
- And the blog that has never steered me wrong when it comes to food is Smitten Kitchen.  I miss our Friday night dinners with my mom- kids really do change everything.

 

Tomorrow I turn 35.

I’m don’t ever worry about my age.

In my mind I *just* graduated from college.  Which would make me 22 23.  I don’t really notice that I’m not still 23 unless I happen to be around 23 year-olds.  Then I immediately realize that no, I am not 23 (thank God!).  I am a 30-something wife and mother.

And that isn’t so bad.

It’s awesome even.

I certainly don’t feel like this is middle-aged, or even getting close to it.  I don’t feel like the good years are gone, I am enjoying my 30′s very much.  Sure, my body creaks a little more than it used to and it takes me a little longer to get going in the morning (half a pot of coffee, ahem), but I’m OK with that.

But 35, here we are.

I guess that means it’s time to add to my 100 things list!  I actually crossed a few things off this year, so that was exciting.

To recap:

1. Travel in China (cliche I know but I’d like to)
2. Travel in Russia (can’t justify my major without it)
3. Live on the East Coast (retire to Annapolis, see 4)
4. Learn how to sail (actually, have a nice boat, sail to boat shows)
5. Spend Christmas in Virginia (John, Debby- don’t move!)
6. Make Christmas Eve tamales from scratch (I cheat and buy from restaurants)
7. Tailgate at Homecoming (10 hours is not a long drive)
8. Live on the water (lake, ocean, river, doesn’t matter)
9. Learn how to sew (relearn, I’ve got the machine…)
10. Own a big old house with nice woodwork, claw foot tubs and radiators (I love me some radiant heat)

11. Have another baby (that would be 4 kids)
12. Have a VBAC (not because I feel cheated, but because there is no reason not to)
13. Learn how to can something (Pepper jelly? Pickled Cabbage?  The possibilities!)
14. Do something official with Breastfeeding (IBCLC? Aim high!)
15. Belong to a CSA
16. Work out regularly (at least 3 days a week)
17. Learn how to do my hair (properly)
18. Own a bonafide CUTE purse
19. Learn how to frost a cake (well)
20. Travel to northern Europe and see where my ancestors came from (Sweden, Norway)

21. Join a Church
22. Get the boys baptized
23. Enter something in the State Fair
24. Win a State Fair Ribbon
25. Walk the lake 3 times a week (Harriet, Calhoun…)
26. Stop biting my nails (a new habit of mine)
27. Take a weekend getaway with my husband
28. Get to the library every week
29. Learn how to plant a vegetable garden
30. Get involved with Autism advocacy in some way

I know- I cheated with #21 considering we just did that 2 weeks ago, but it has been on the list for years and it’s important to me.  Considering I have very few things crossed off my list, I think a gimme is appropriate!

So tomorrow me and Yogi Dad are hitting the town- St. Paul here we come!  Sushi and then the Wild game.  A perfect date if there ever was one.

Check out my thoughts on 34, and 30.

 

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As difficult as it is having special needs kids, I thought we were doing well.

As in, I thought life was good and we are making the most of a situation that you just don’t sign up for.  We are good as a family, the kids are healthy and happy, we haven’t completely lost our minds yet (although tonight we were close), we have a pretty good support system set up for the boys with day treatment and school and therapies.

We are doing everything you are supposed to do to help your special needs kids succeed.

And I (naively) thought that other parents looked at us and thought- they are doing GREAT!

And then I read the comments on an article about the growing costs of special needs education and I felt suddenly like I live in crazy denial world.

Do people really look at my kids and think they are a waste of time, effort, and money?  Do they really think that they should not have a public education?  Do they really think they should just be institutionalized?  Do they really think they are to blame for all of the budget woes of a school?

My kids are not on the severe end of the spectrum, but they aren’t on the aspergers end either.  They are firmly planted in classic autism and they have a long road ahead of them.  I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know what is going to happen in the future.  I don’t know if they will grow up and have jobs or leave home or have families or all of those things you just expect to happen when you have a baby.  I sometimes doubt it.

Then I have moments where I think *maybe* they will?

But to get there, they need all the help they can get, and that includes (but does not end at) the free and appropriate public education that every child in America is guaranteed.

We don’t ask for much.  I am not demanding they receive ABA on Minneapolis Public Schools dime.  They are (so far) pretty happy kids and we don’t have many behaviors that limit where they can be and who they can be around.

I am pretty sure the most extravagant thing the boys have ever received was a bus all to themselves for the first 7 months they were in school.  When they were 2.  But we didn’t ask for that, it’s just how it worked out.

I have many doubts about their ability to be mainstreamed, but they are 4, so we have time to see how things pan out there as well.  I am completely OK with them being in a closed classroom.  One commentator on the article suggested if they were unable to mainstream that I should just home school them.

I don’t feel equipt to home school my kids and have no desire to- special needs or not.  Why should that be my only option?

Some people say that no extra money should be spent on any one student.

I don’t think that is entirely fair.

There are some demands I think are a out of the range of what is “appropriate”, but I think most parents who sit down to write an IEP have pretty basic goals and needs for their kids.

Another comment that really caught my eye was that some parents of special needs kids are only sending their kids to school for the free babysitting, simply because they need a break.

Do you know any parents who are not rejoicing in the streets at back-to-school time because they need a break from their kids?  I think that is a universal thing and I will totally cop to being happy as hell that my kids are in school full-days because I simply cannot give them the structure they need at home 7 days a week.

That doesn’t mean I’m pulling one over on the school district.  It doesn’t mean they are not learning at school.  It does not mean they are not thriving there (and our definition of thriving is probably much different than yours).  It does not mean they should get anything less than any other kid.

I wonder if people who think this way have any idea what it is like to raise a special needs child.  If they have any idea of the stress and isolation and havoc it can wreck on your life?  I am guessing they don’t, and if they do they have chosen to turn a blind eye to the struggles, because I can’t imagine anyone telling someone to their face that their child was unworthy of a public education and should just be locked away simply because that child is different.

(sigh)

I know I shouldn’t read comments on stories like that- I guess I just expected a little more from my Minnesota neighbors.  Maybe this is part of building my thick skin.

 

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The last few weeks have been kinda crazy at our little house.

Big Pine and Calhoun started swimming lessons at a therapy pool and it is really going great.  At least the lesson part!  They are enjoying themselves and progressing each week and they love their instructors.

The hardest part for me, as with all things related to being a twin mom, is the logistics of getting everyone from point A to point B in one piece.  And this endeavor includes getting out of a parking ramp, crossing a courtyard (while one leans away and lets me hold up the brunt of his body weight and the other tries to walk ahead without holding my hand),  getting one twin ready to swim, keeping the other one under control while he waits for his lesson, and then getting them both dressed and back to the car.

So far I haven’t done it on my own and judging by their behavior the past two weeks, I am not encouraged that I will be able to do it by myself.  Last week the session ended with Big Pine making a break for it and running around the pool as fast as he could when I was getting Calhoun out of the pool.  I went after him, another mom ran the opposite way around the pool(Thank You other mom!) and the instructor tried to get through the pool in case he fell in.

Talk about a heart attack.  He is quick and he likes to bolt.  Safety is a huge concern when it comes to him and I never feel like I can handle him on my own- let alone with his brother in tow.  But, there aren’t many options, so this week I will be on my own.  I’d be lying if I told you it was going to be OK- thinking about it makes me want to throw up.

I’ve started sitting in on the boys sessions each Monday and Tuesday.  The boys don’t seem to mind so far, so as long as they have good sessions, I will continue to do it, it’s good for communication with their various therapists.  One of the things that was brought up a few weeks ago was that we might want to try a gluten-free diet for Big Pine.  I have been putting this off for years, I just am not convinced it’s going to make a difference.  Eventually they will want us to go casein-free as well, which seems ridiculous considering 75% of their diet is dairy at this point.

So, we bit the bullet and went gluten-free.  The boys are still spending down their lunch accounts at school so they aren’t 100% GF yet, but they will be starting next Tuesday.  So far, it’s been OK.

It looks really easy from the onset- meats, fruits, veggies, dairy are all fair game.  It’s once you get into cooking and baking that you start to realize it’s trickier.  We ate mostly from-scratch meals to begin with and snacks were granola bars, cheese sticks, and occasionally crackers.  Boxed mac and cheese and Zatarains Jambalaya rice and cereal were they three big processed foods we ate on a regular basis.  They loved Corn Chex for breakfast, so we thought we were good there because they are gluten-free.  Now that they don’t have the option of choosing Life cereal, they want nothing to do with Corn Chex.  Of course.  They also don’t want cheese sticks or fruit for snacks.  Yogurt ends up on my dining rooms drapes, smoothies are too difficult to drink, anything too crunchy (veggies or nuts) doesn’t get past the lips.

They want carbs.

I am having trouble figuring out how to keep them happy for breakfast, lunch and snacks- they aren’t eating dinner at all, but that wasn’t really happening before we went gluten-free.  I am struggling.  Seriously.  At the end of this trial period, there had better be a marked change because my kids are going to be losing weight like crazy if they keep up like this!

This is what makes me the most insane when dealing with treatment for autism- it’s all a total crapshoot.  For every person who says a gluten-free/ casein-free diet changed their ASD kids life, there is one parent who it didn’t make any difference at all.  Nothing is easy- there is no magic pill to help with behaviors.  Oh how I WISH there was an option for a magic pill and it was my choice as to how I was going to deal with this!  It’s all nice and good to skip the pharmaceutical route when you have the OPTION to do so.  It’s completely different when your life is an uphill battle of therapies that may or may not work and you have nothing to fall back on but more therapies that may or may not work.

Sometimes, I wonder what difference any of it makes.  My boys have made progress over the past two years, but I still cannot imagine them mainstreamed at any point of their lives.  I don’t see them ever living on their own.  I don’t see them having romantic relationships or families or jobs.  And yes, I get it, they are only 4.  But, I just don’t see it.  They aren’t going to be those kids who test out of their diagnosis.  I know that.  And I am OK with that.  I don’t feel a need to fix them.  I don’t feel a need to figure out why they are like they are.

Wow.  I think I will stop there before I write a novel- there is plenty more in the Autism Files.

 

 

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