"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bumble-Bee Rice Krispie Treat

Credit for this awesome idea goes to my mom.  She spent weeks trying to come up with a bumble bee birthday cake for John Paul.  Without dairy.  Without wheat.  Without entire jars of FD&C yellow #5 (apparently the only way to acheive a good bumbly-yellow frosting).  Not sugar free, but it is a birthday, after all!

So while this isn't a cake:

it is a bumble bee, and for John Paul, that was the important thing.

So, long story short, get yerself 1 box of regular, organic, gluten-free rice cereal, and one box of chocolate, organic, gluten-free rice cereal.  Find yerself some chemical-free marshmallows. 
 Substitute coconut oil for the butter.  Our chocolate rice cereal wasn't very brown, so I added about 1/2 cup cocoa powder for better color.

We formed the body in my oval crockpot crock.  The wings we formed in a Pyrex pie plate; the head and stinger, in a smaller Pyrex bowl.  (All well-oiled with coconut oil.)  Cut the wing circle in half and shape it a bit.  Slice a bit of the head circle off for the stinger. 

Very easy.  Very bee-ish.

"You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." 
~Desmond Tutu

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Baby Stuff Brag Post #4: Ivy's Diapers

Everybody poops.  They've written books about it:

Excellent book for big brothers and sisters with a baby in the house, when said baby is doing it every hour or so.  My sister-in-law used to keep this book decoratively displayed on her guest toilet.

As I mentioned in my last post, I detest plastic diapers.  Detest, detest, detest.  I tried to use some newborn diapers on Ivy (fancy chlorine-free ones someone gave me), but her sensitive newborn skin couldn't handle it.  Plus, she's a heavy wetter and leaked outta those things in a single pee. 

Luckily, we've got the cotton.

Here are some of Ivy's cloth diapers:

These are my favorite diapers, PooPockets.  Dorky name, great pattern.  They fit from about 8 lbs up through potty learning, depending on the build of the baby.  Recently I tried one on Johnny for fun, and it fit.  (Just barely.)  An older baby or toddler will need a lay-in doubler for extra absorbancy.

Ivy has some random diapers to make it to laundry day, but these organic hemp/ cotton PooPockets are my fave.  I have more cut out and I'm hoping to get them sewn up soon.

See the squishy softness of the velour?

Some PooPockets made from birdseye that belonged to Rosie and John Paul:

These have been loaned to other mums several times, but they still work.

Some others, made from recycled turtlenecks, with snaps added:

 If you don't sew, prefold diapers are the most economical way to cloth diaper.  They are super if you want to use PUL (polyurethane-laminate) covers:

For using beneath wool covers, you'll need to use a Snappi or pins:

This is tricky at first, but eventually you get good at it and (usually) you can keep poop off your wool covers.  While you can sew your own prefolds, it usually works out more cheaply to buy them.  Unless you have tons of flannel in your fabric stash, or you want to use a luxury fabric like hemp fleece or cotton velour, in which case, sew away!

"In spite of the cost of living, it's still popular." 
~Kathy Norris

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Baby Stuff Brag Post #3: Ivy's Soakers

Crunchy Mom Confession:

I have a cloth diaper fetish.

I love cloth diapers.  Love, love, love.  I hate disposable diapers.  Every time I give birth and sleep on a chux pad my hatred only increases.  Ugh!  So hot and sweaty and plastic-y.  I'd much rather use a plain cotton towel, and I'm pretty sure plain cotton is more comfy for a baby's bum than plastic and polymer gel diapers, too.

Deeper in crunch land... you can avoid even putting poly or vinyl covers over your cloth diapers by using wool covers (generally referred to as wool soakers) instead.  Just like our great-grandmas did, before the invention of polyester fabrics.  Wool is super-soft, if you pick the right wool, and water-resistant (but not water- PROOF), so it works just the same way as those plastic-y covers.  As a bonus, if you make your own wool soakers, they will cost you almost nothing. 

Wool sweaters for sewn wool soakers can be found for $1 at thrift shops.  If you find wool sweaters with holes, you can get the store to give them to you for a quarter or so.  I got a pumpkin cashmere sweater for free that way.  MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm, cashmere.  If you knit or crochet, the cost of your cover will be determined by the price of your yarn.  You can find soft wool yarn pretty inexpensively, but if you buy fancy yarn, your covers can get pricey quickly.  I use Cascade 220, 100purewool, or Lion's Fisherman (the latter is not super-soft, but the more often you wash and lanolinize it, the softer it gets).

For sewn soakers, I use the Sweet Baby Soaker Pattern by Wired Up Designs.  There are many free patterns online, but the Sweet Baby pattern is really the best, and I've tried 'em all!  My favorite is a double layer cashmere soaker.  You need 2 layers for cashmere; 1 will not be enough.  Cashmere doesn't shrink or felt and is machine washable.  My next favorite is rib-knit merino.  Also hard to shrink, but it will felt.  Depending on the thickness, sometimes 1 layer is sufficient.  Rib knit will stretch a ton, too, as baby grows.

Here are some of Ivy's sewn soakers:
four cashmere and two lambswool stripe

Lots of these were handed down from John Paul and Rose.  Wool lasts forever.

two cashmere and a lambswool stripe

If you use the Sweet Baby pattern, you don't need anything but sz small and medium, unless you expect a 6 lb baby or your babies get enornously fat.  (No, she isn't paying me for this review!)  Don't forget to make pants from your leftover sweater sleeves:

Google for a trillion tutorials for these sleeve-pants
You can't handle the cuteness:

My favorite knit soaker pattern is The Curly Purly Soaker Pattern.  Knits up quickly, and requires no bulky waist drawstring to stay on.  This is major, as many knitted soakers fit poorly under regular clothes due to the waist drawstring issue.  It's free, too!  (Donations accepted.) 

Curly Purlys:
four in hand-dyed Lion's Fisherman and a 100purewool merino

On the needles:

Another awesome knit pattern is for a wrap-style soaker.  Also free,  Warm Heart Woolies' Plain Wrap is the only diaper cover my husband has ever requested more of.  It's fantastic.  Particularly nice for newborn frog legs that are tricky to maneuver into soaker leg holes.

A couple of Ivy's wraps:

both in hand-dyed Lion's Fisherman
Need to make more of these!

I realize my wool stash makes me look like I have no life outside of wool-crafting, but do remember that some of these woolies have been handed down through 3 little people, and all 4 of these patterns are fast to make.  The sewn soakers and pants take less than 1/2 hour each after you get to know the patterns, and the knit patterns are also very quick and easy, as far as knitting goes.

And guess what?  All the covers photographed on this page cost less than $20 in materials (plus the pattern) to make!

I won't go in to cleaning and care of wool diaper covers only because there are 7 million other blog posts out there on how to do it, so happy Google-ing.

"What is a home without children?  Quiet." 
~Henny Youngman

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baby Stuff Brag Post #2: Ivy's Sling

Will baby innovations never cease?

I doubt it.

I discovered this new sling style during Ivy's incubation.  Very impressive, it is basically a wrap that you don't have to wrap!  What?  Take a look:

See?  The 2 loops imitate the wrapped criss-cross, and the sash is your last wrap.  (You'll understand if you've ever used a wrap; if not, have no fear, you'll understand in a minnute.)

Slip 1 loop over easch shoulder.  See my wonky pic:

Baby goes in the cross on front:

This is plenty of support for Ivy.  She is really snug in there and goes right to sleep every time.

Add the sash for extra support for a heavier baby, or for longer wear, like hiking.  Ivy's head is tucked into the fabric in the above pic because she is sleeping.  It works wonderfully.  Doesn't hide postpartum flab or anything, but *sigh* nothing does.

back with sash added
 I think this looks tidier than a wrap.  It supports better than a pouch or ring sling.  It's way easy to put on.  And it supports as well as my beloved Ergo (though probably not for a toddler).  I even wore John Paul in it a few times while immensely preggo.  The make of the sling is 'Baby K'Tan' and you can find videos at www.babyktan.com with different positions for wearing.  I gave on of these as a baby gift and the mom, a baby-wearing drop-out, says she actually uses and loves it.

This carrier cost $12.  The fabric is a 60% cotton, 40% poly interlock from JoAnn Fabric.   You could get 100% cotton interlock or jersey from www.naturesfabric.com, but I was in a hurry and also feeling quite cheap.  My sash fabric:
was just a scrap from my stash.

I made it up because I couldn't find my box with my baby carriers in it after Ivy was born!  Also, for the record, I sewed the entire thing during the previews of The Hunger Games.  So, in other words, about 9 minutes.

Happy babywearing!!!

"The world is as many times new as there are children in our lives." 
~Robert Brault

Monday, September 3, 2012

Baby Stuff Brag Post #1: Ivy's Hammock

Baby hammocks are widely used in South America and Mexico, as well as parts of Asia.  The most familiar American version is the Amby Baby Motion Bed, which unfortunately was poorly designed.  It was recalled a few years ago and now baby hammocks are seen as dangerous in the States.  Too bad, because baby hammocks rock.

I first heard of babies sleeping in hammocks when Isaiah was a baby.  I read an article on indigenous baby care written by a missionary family in rural Venezuela, where all babies slept in crocheted hammocks.  My Mexican mother-in-law was pleased to see the hammock in our living room; she has fond memories of baby cousins hanging in sheets from kitchen ceilings while their mamas cooked. 

My two friends who use/ used the Amby hammock with fussy babies were completely unphased by the safety recall.  They both got their replacement parts, but wouldn’t stop using the hammocks.  “How else am I going to sleep?!” one snapped when her husband questioned her.  The bed moves in response to any movement baby makes, which in theory will sooth baby back to sleep before he or she fully wakens.  Also, because the hammock moves up and down, side to side, and forward and back all at once, really fussy babies who need constant stimulating movement like it.

The plan was to purchase a hammock if we ended up with another fussy baby.  (Both JP and Rosemary were all-day-and-up-till- 3-am screamers.  One of my biggest fears during this pregnancy was the possibility of another baby screaming several hours a day for 8 months on end.)  But when I saw how expensive baby hammocks are, I decided to make one up ahead of time, just in case.  It was quite simple, and only cost around $40. 

Here are the directions for the construction of the sling:
Remember that 1 meter is really about 1 1/10 yards , so buy 3 and 1/3 yards.  NEXT, do NOT buy plain muslin or calico for this, as the Canadian directions suggest.  American muslin and calico are weak, plain-weave fabrics.  The double-boiled muslin used in Australia is a MUCH STRONGER fabric than the version available in America.  Instead, use any fabric suitable for sling-making: shirting, medium or heavy linen, lightweight denim or twill, or batik.  A 40-45 inch wide fabric with nice-looking selvages is ideal, otherwise you’ll need to hem the fabric edges to this width. 

I used batik.  Make sure your batik is DYED not STAMPED.  The 2 are constructed differently.  Dyed batik will look the same on both sides.  Stamped batik will have one side that is obviously the “wrong” side.  It is a weaker fabric so avoid it. 

Don’t forget your 40% off coupon.  You should be able to get your length of fabric for under $20 that way.

Then, be sure to read through the directions at least 27 times before beginning.  It is simple, but confusing.  BE SURE you understand what you’re doing before cutting and sewing, or else you’ll be doing a lot of seam ripping.  Close-up of the easy-to-sew but hard-to-explain envelope folded end:

I suggest buying REAL carabiners from a camping shop, and REAL sling rings from www.slingrings.com.

The spring should be readily available at Lowe’s or Home Depot.  Ours is the one for up to 27 Kilograms.  Springs for higher weights won’t have the proper give for a 10 lb baby.  I sewed a cover for my spring and carabiners, for aesthetic purposes.

I used organic wool and cotton batting wrapped in organic birdseye fabric for my mattress.  I made a sheet for it out of organic hemp/ cotton fleece with snaps on the bottom to keep it in place.  My mattress is only ¾” thick, and totally flexible for baby’s safety and comfort.  QUILT THE HECK OUT OF IT!  Stitches should be very close together, again, for safety and comfort.

pillowcase-style sheet with snaps on left, quilted mattress on right

We constructed our frame from scrap wood and based it on the dimensions of other baby hammock frames we found online.   However, I recommend hanging it from a ceiling joist (like studs in the wall, but in the ceiling), on a screw-in ring also found at any hardware store.  

But Ivy, tell us how you really feel:

All smart babies will prefer to nap in mama’s arms, or on mama's back!  Really, Ivy naps in the hammock happily for short times during the day. Isaiah can bounce her in it for a bit while I shower or what have you.   At night we just hunker down in the family bed and zonk out because, so far, Ivy is not a fussy baby- praise God for His infinite mercy!

"A characteristic of the normal child is he doesn't act that way very often."
~Author Unknown

BTW, that little turquoise square at the top of my hammock is a crib medal.  The Sisters of St. Joseph in Wichita make these- for cribs, obviously, but we've never had a crib so I'm happy to find a use for it.  It is a tiny miraculous medal in the center of a crocheted square to keep baby safe while she sleeps.