Friday, June 26, 2009

Front Porch Friday on Saturday

This week Jessica had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease thanks to my husband carpooling with a guy whose kid goes to a daycare that has recently had an out break! I, quarantined us till Thursday. It was nice to have some slow days to rest and get things done around the house; however, by Thursday we were ready to be out and socialize! I spent the first part of this weekend running around like a madwoman trying to come up with a birthday present for one of Jessica's friends, getting it made, and making it to the party just in time, but more on that next week! Jessica also knocked over the laptop and broke it. However, my genius husband did manage to get all of our pictures and files off of it and patch it back together. It works, but we are being very careful with it, so there might not be too many new pictures for a while. We'll have to see what I can do about that. On the bright side David decided that it was time to unpack and upgrade all of the computer equipment that had been waiting on it ever since we moved! This also means that he will be building me a desk! I am very excited about this! David is staying home an extra day this week since July 4th is this weekend. Hopefully next week I will also be able to show you pictures of Jessica's completely finished room! Most of it was done before she was born, but there were a few odds and ends that needed to be finished! Overall, we have been very busy trying to finish up lots of halfway done projects!!! Hopefully, I will be able to post some pictures next week showing all of the progress I hope we will have made!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Boys Allowed!

Ok, so boys are allowed, they just might want to skip this post! This post is about feminine hygeine. Specifically reusable pads and tampons.

I wash cloth diapers all the time now that my daughter breaks out in a horrible rash in the summer if we use disposable diapers. So the other day I got to thinking, "Why in the world am I buying disposable pads if I am already washing cloth diapers?!?!" So today I took the leap! I took a couple extra cloth diapers I had laying around, cut them in half across the middle, serged the cut edges, and safety pinned them into my underwear using the outer sides as wings and a safety pin!

I also took a trashcan with a lid that I had around the house and filled it most of the way with water and set it by the toilet (with a Do Not Open sign on it for my husband!). This is where I am putting the used ones to soak. My plan is to rinse out the trashcan and toss the "pads" in with the washer with the bucket of dirty diapers for a rinse cycle or two before washing.

I have heard that you can make your own using flannel and such, but I just wanted something quick and easy to try. It seems to be working really well for me, but I also tend to have long, light cycle so this method might not work as well for the person with a heavy cycle. I have also heard that you can make a tampon using a baby sock rolled up. I must say I find the idea interesting but have not tried it yet. For anyone who is interested, there are websites Link out there that sell pre-made reusable pads that may work better for those with heavier cycles.


I am sorry, but I only have a picture of my daughter getting her hair cut. I don't think David would appreciate modeling for my blog!

I cut all of the hair in our house. David used to wait and get his haircut when we went home to visit; however, as those trips got farther and farther apart he decided to let me trim his hair. Apparently, he thought I did a good job because now he refuses to see anyone else! I think the important thing to remember when cutting hair is to start out slow with a little trim. As you become more accustom to how the person's hair behaves, you can take a few more risks.

Another thing to consider is the shape of the individual's head. When I first cut my daughter's hair, I didn't have a lot of options because she didn't have much hair to begin with! My goal was just to shape it up. However, I noticed after trimming her hair that she has an incredibly round face! I started searching on the internet for complimentary haircuts for people with round faces and concluded that the best thing to do would be to let her hair grow out (while occasionally trimming it to keep it even) and eventually layer it as it grows thicker.

One final thing I have learned from cutting all of the hair at our house is that cutting your own hair is very difficult! I am still trying to decide what to do with my own hair. For now it is fine as a bob with a headband, but I don't think I will stick with that look. I am also not certain that I will continue cutting my own hair. I'll have to let you know what I decide to do!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Towards a More Natural Lifestyle

In a recent post, I briefly mentioned that I had experienced some health problems that encouraged me to live a more natural lifestyle. This Front Porch Friday I would like to share this story with you and comment on how it has affected our lives this week.

At the end of 2002 I started using Ortho Evra (the birth control patch...yes the same one that is now associated with a multiplicity of health problems...). This seems really odd, but almost immediately I started having a lot of sinus problems. I was constantly using Sudafed. Then in the spring of 2004 I started developing pregnancy symptoms every month, only I was not pregnant. Then I started developing horrible yeast infections every month that made me not want to eat. Finally, when I would eat my abdomin started swelling to the point that one of my classmates thought I was 4 months pregnant! This continued into the spring of 2005. I went to multiple doctors in multiple states. They all told me "Nothing is wrong. It's just because you moved to Mississippi, or well, we could give you some extra estrogen on top of the birth control."

I would like to point out, "When you feel that miserable something is definitely wrong! Memphis is not that far from Starkville, Mississippi, and the drug books specifically say NOT to prescribe estrogen with Ortho Evra!" I am happy to say that I decided on my own to quit taking the Ortho Evra. It relieved the worst of the symptoms; however, some still remained. I found a book called The Yeast Connection. I followed the diet in the book, and the nurse practitioner at the student health center prescribed me some Niastatin. It made a huge difference. I was still having 2 weeks of menstration followed by 2 weeks of no menstration, but at least I didn't feel miserable! Finally, after a year or two of being very disciplined about what I was eating, preventing pregnancy, and being told by my mother that I could not have children, etc, we ended up getting pregnant with Jessica. While pregnant and nursing, I could eat whatever I wanted and suffered no ill effects!

A few months ago I quit nursing Jessica. So far I have not experienced an of the problems I had before getting pregnant with Jessica; however, I have wondered if it might become an issue again. This week in particular has been rather unusual. I was experiencing pregnancy symptoms, but I am not pregnant. I am going to see my doctor next week to make sure nothing is wrong. Assuming nothing is wrong, then I plan to try and get back to as much of a natural lifestyle as possible. I find it particularly important as a parent because I do not want my daughter to go through everything I went through.

For me this means: cooking as much as I can from scratch, growing as much of our food as I can, purchasing foods raised in a natural or organic environment (without breaking the bank), fertility awareness, choosing glass and iron over plastic, limiting the sugar, taking vitamins, using limited amounts of "products," etc. I cannot do all of this all the time and still make our budget, but I get as close as I can and hope that I am able to give my daughter a head start by growing up with this lifestyle. What is going on at your front porch?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reusable Swiffer Pads and Swiffer Dusters

I have mentioned several times before that I do NOT like cleaning! I love anything that makes the job easier when it absolutely MUST be done! Two tools I have fallen in love with are the Swiffer Wet Jet and the Swiffer Duster. The Swiffer Wet Jet is light weight with a lot of maneuverability. I particularly enjoyed it during my last pregnancy! The Swiffer Duster can be extended to reach high ceiling fans and is able to get into tight, hard to reach places. Again, I particularly enjoyed it during my last pregnancy! However, being the frugal person that I am, I do not like having to constantly buy disposable pads and dusters! Therefore, I got out my sewing machine, an old towel, an old t-shirt, and got to work creating my own washable Swiffer Wet Jet pads and Swiffer dusters!

To make the duster, I used an old t-shirt to cut out 7 rectangular pieces with fringe.

This is probably an unnecessary step, but I decided to put Fray Check around the edges.

Next I stitched each piece down the center to the center region of the base piece.

You can see the stitches I made on the back of the base piece. Finally I stitched some elastic on the back to slip the Swiffer Duster into.

To make the Wet Jet pad, I took an old towel and cut it so the Wet Jet would fit in the center.

Last I sewed the towel together like a mattress sheet.

I have used the wet jet pad multiple times and absolutely love it! The duster also works well but the disposable one is less bulky and does not attract dust quite as easily. However, it still works well enough that I would use my homemade version instead of buying more disposables.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Southern Pride

The other day I noticed that many of my friends are not from The South and that they tend to have a different view of The South than I do. I think this difference comes from not understanding how history has affected the development of The South, so I decided that this Front Porch Friday I would share a Southern's perspective on the South.

If I had to pick one word to describe Southerners, it would be grit. You may be thinking that I chose that word because of the popular hats, t-shirts, etc with the anachronism, GRITS: Girls Raised In The South. However, I actually chose the word grit because Southerners have historically have had a great deal of hardships to overcome. For example:

1) The unique style and flavor of Southern food developed because Southerners had to come up with ways to cook meals using the limited choices available to them. (I know just how tough of a climate this area is to farm in, and I use genetically engineered seeds!) While The South is known for its large cotton plantations, the majority of Southerners were subsistence farmers from a wide variety of ancestral origins. Although Southern food may not be the healthiest food available, not too many people will complain about that when they are truly hungry. There is also something to be said for being able, when necessary, to make do with what you can grow and forage from nature.

2) Southern Charm and Hospitality is known the world over. It is a code of conduct that developed as a result of the hard and isolated life Southerners historically lived. Company to an isolated farm or plantation was a welcomed diversion, and the hospitality of strangers was a necessity to the weary traveler in the rural South. Today this generous spirit is still practiced in many areas of The South. In fact Mississippi is the number one state in the union for charitable giving followed closely by several other Southern states.

3) The Civil War was devastating for this country, although it was necessary. The South in particular suffered greatly. Families were torn apart as one brother fought for the Union and another brother fought for the Confederacy. The South also suffered more financially. They had put everything they had into the war and lost. There was also more loss of property in The South, particularly if you count slave labor in that. Slavery was wrong; however, sometimes doing the right thing morally can have very high costs financially. All of those factors worked together to create a very tough economic climate in The South for everyone. In some ways The South is still trying to catch up with the rest of the country.

4) All of the pain that resulted from the Civil War made insuring equality for all people that much more challenging. Finally, it came to a head during the Civil Rights Movement. My grandfather was actually living in Birmingham at the time. He said that often times people think that racism is something that is passed down from parent to child, but that although parents do greatly influence their children, racism seemed to be something that was taken on by the individual and not by the family. He said that many people are just content to drink milk with people, or to go along with what is popular. In fact, the rights we have today are because of the brave Southern men and women, both black and white, who risked everything for what they believed was right. The South often gets a lot of criticism for being slow to change. Sometimes this is even associated with a lack of intelligence. However, sometimes a slow change is a more lasting change.

5) Although The South is the only region of the United States to secede from the Union, we are also the region of the United States that provides the most military personnel. We are fiercely patriotic. We are apart of this union once again because of great cost. We stand behind the men and women who protect this nation, and we never forget those who make the ultimate sacrifice.

6) This long history of hardship has been the catalyst for the development of art in the United States, which often claim a Southern birthplace. Country, Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll, and Bluegrass, among others are all musical genres that claim a definite Southern birthplace. From The South have also come great authors like William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Eudora Welty, Kate Chopin, Fredrick Douglass, Harper Lee, John Grisham, and Tennessee Williams to name just a few.

7) Finally, many times Southerners have been described as "clinging to their God and their guns." Perhaps it is because of our history, this refining by fire, that we have come to understand that God is the only one we can truly cling to and that He has given us the tools to make it in this life no matter how tough it gets.

With a history like that I am proud to say I was born a daughter or The South because I think it means I have the grit to make it when times get tough, the humility to admit when I was wrong, and the strength to stand up for what is right.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Turning the Corner

Over the last two years, we have had a lot of stressful events: graduating, David getting a job, moving out of state and farther away from our families, me not getting a job, finding out we were pregnant, looking for a church, me having a difficult time being pregnant, death of a grandparent, having our first child, me finding out I had melanoma, me having panic attacks, me and Jessica staying with my parents while I recovered from treatment, me still not having made any friends my own age, all the while having company in and out of our house...I think you get the idea.

All of that to say that this week marks the point where I think we have finally turned the corner! Obviously there are still some remnants of these stressful events still rolling around in the back of my mind, but the point is that now we are at a point where we can enjoy all of the blessings of the last two years: David having a job he loves, having a lovely home, having a church that we both enjoy attending that emphasizes loving ALL people, having a beautiful, healthy baby girl, me surviving melanoma, me making friends, etc.

Those blessings have always been there, but it has not been until recently that we have really been able to enjoy them because we were so stressed out dealing with life! Ideally I would have preferred to not let stressful events get my down, but it happens to everyone at some point in life. The important thing is that you learn from the experience and realize, "God took care of use when ___, and He will take care of us now."

To leave us on a positive note, I would like to share with you some of the signs I have seen this week that we are turning the corner:

1) I have gained 5 lbs in the last week and a half! (I lost a lot of weight when I found out that I had cancer and while we were dealing with family conflict.)

2) I have friends!!!!! Last night I went out with 3 moms in my neighborhood for pedicures and dinner!!!! (It had been a couple years since I had done something like that!) We also looked into signing up for dance classes to fulfill some childhood dreams!

3) Jessica and I got out and went to swimming lessons! We have been doing swimming lessons for a while now, but it is only within the last couple months that I have really been getting outside and being physically active again!

This is a picture of Jessica and me in our new swimsuits! Mine blocks UVA and UVB rays!

4) David and I have always said that we preferred going through all of the stress of the last two years together as opposed to not being together, but we have really enjoyed sharing the last week and a half together!

Feel free to share what has been going on at your "Front Porch" this week!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

We have a dishwasher, but it doesn't work very well. Typically I wash all of our dishes by hand and use our dishwasher as a giant dish drainer. Periodically, when it gets full, I run it more for sterilization purposes than anything. Recently, I discovered that I had run out of dishwasher detergent and found a great recipe for powdered dishwasher detergent on Thrifty Fun. It worked really well, and it uses ingredients we typically keep around our house!

You put equal parts of baking soda and borax in the soap dispenser in your dishwasher. (You can keep this premixed in a container.) Then sprinkle a little Fruit Fresh on top. (You should NOT add this to a premixed batch as it might cause it to get chunky.)

Then turn on your dishwasher! I have been very pleased with the results!