Saturday, December 31, 2011

No Spend Month January 2012

I first heard about no-spend month from my dear coworker. I was surprised when she declined lunch out with the girls. When I asked her about it, she explained that she and her husband were giving up dining and coffee out for a month. They then planned to donate the money that they saved. We foodie urbanites could really save a LOT by taking a break from eating out. Such a great idea! She is a woman I look up to, but of course I never did anything to follow her example at that time.




When I recently read about No Spend Month Small Notebook style we were inspired to give it a try to bring our current spending more in line with our new one-income status. January 2012 will be No Spend Month in our household. It seems like a good detox after the consumer-centric holiday season.


Here are the rules (adapted from Rachel's):
Take a look at your average grocery budget, and make everything else fit into it. This includes groceries, gas, household items, dining, entertainment, and yes coffee! We usually spend about $500 a month on groceries, so that will be our budget for the month. Of course, buying less stuff will help us be more green and more resourceful as well. The goal is to make us really think about what we buy and where our money goes.  For this we'll assume that bills such as mortgage, utilities, insurance, and health care are static. However, it's my goal to take this month to review all of our accounts to see if we can save some money on this regular bills as well.


Are you going to try No Spend Month too?


If you'd like an update next week to hear how we're doing on No Spend Month, be sure to subscribe to the GrowingSlower RSS feed.  This post is linked to Just Write at the EO & Your Green Resource at Sorta Crunchy.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Declutter 2012


Since October it's been operation Declutter in our one-bedroom condo. At that time I started packing away maternity clothes (finally!).  We had a constant stream of outgrown baby clothes to find somewhere to store.  We have also now lived in one place for over three years for the first time in our adult lives.  All those facts of life coupled with the desire to live more simply pointed toward the need for some serious purging. This post was originally called Declutter 2011, but by the time I was entrenched in the process, I realized there was no way this was all going to get done by the end of the year. It's going to be a serious undertaking.


I would like to show you an awesome before and after shot, but it's been a gradual process, so instead: a cute picture of BabyE...






Here's what I've gotten rid of so far that my mommy-brain can remember (oh let the humiliation begin! Yes all of these extra things were really lurking in our tiny home)...



  • Five bags of clothes I never wore and was never going to wear
  • One bag of belts and shoes (see above)
  • Microwave popcorn that expired in 2008
  • Maternity clothes that ended up being too small for me while actually pregnant (sometime I'll tell you about how delightfully huge I got)
  • Video games we never played
  • Movies we never watched
  • Photo albums we never look at (who prints photos now anyway?)
  • Nicknacks packed in a box I had no recollection of owning
  • Lots of paper, oh the paper (oh the filing that must still be done)
  • An extra set of dishes
  • Expired prescriptions
  • A really old looking Andes mint
  • Extra eye glasses
  • Two bags of books
  • Tire chains for a car we no longer own
  • Half a dog treat



...and I'm only half way done


It feels great to start getting rid of stuff and living with less. However, I've realized it takes quite a bit of research and a little creativity to be sure I'm disposing of things in the most environmentally friendly way possible. So every Friday I'm going to post on my findings on how to do a green declutter.  I'll tell you what other items I've cast off that week.


If you'd like to see what I get rid of next week, please click to subscribe to the GrowingSlower RSS feed.  This post is linked up with SortaCrunchy and Frugally Sustainable.

3 Tips for a Positive Breastfeeding Experience

All my life I've heard so many breastfeeding horror stories of cracked and bleeding nipples, babies that won't latch, babies that bite (yikes!), and heartbreak due to inability to breastfeed.  I know many of those stories represent real women and real challenges, and my heart goes out to them. Having difficulties with feeding my baby would have been the one thing that really could have gotten to me as a new mom.  I want you to know that there are positive stories about breastfeeding too though. What if we started telling those stories to expectant moms instead? What if we shared our accounts filled with the precious moments and real physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding to encourage them to at least try to nurse their babies instead of giving up before they even begin?

Infant and Mother Breastfeeding Title: 3 Tips for Breastfeeding Your Newborn
So let me be the first to start. I have been so blessed to have one such story. No, it hasn't always been easy. The first two weeks were a challenge as baby and I learned. I was hopeless at unhooking my bra clasp with one hand fast enough to prevent him from starting to scream and getting all worked up.  It was awkward to figure out how to balance that baby and his floppy little head to help him stay latched. I was sensitive and sore. Then after the magical two week mark, the soreness went away. After six weeks we had it figured out. No, it wasn't always easy, but it has been an incredibly positive experience. 

I received a few simple pieces of advice that helped me to get started which I want to pass along. While I was pregnant, I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. This is the "bible" of breastfeeding published by La Leche League. It has countless tips and tricks along with troubleshooting and advice to address the whole range of a new mom's concerns. Immediately after BabyE was born, my dear midwife helped us to get started with breastfeeding. Even though he didn't latch at that time, after he woke up from a nice long nap, he suckled for a whole hour the first time! Here are the tips that gave us a firm foundation for a positive breastfeeding experience:

#1 Be Supportive. The baby's mouth will instinctively open wide to nurse. Many babies can scoot to find mama's breast just minutes after a natural birth, though their necks aren't always strong enough to get and maintain a good deep latch. When they open wide, they may need you to help them support their heads as they move toward the breast. If it weren't for my midwife demonstrating to me how to do this, I never would have been confident enough to firmly guide Baby's head. Don't worry though, it won't hurt them, but it will help to get a good latch that doesn't cause you pain. It was wonderful that even DH could help with this part of breastfeeding when I felt like I needed three hands. The cross-cradle hold is also helps.


BabyE asleep after a feed.

#2 Make a "Big Fat Sandwich" and a fishy face. Baby needs to get a big bite of breast tissue in his mouth for a good latch. You may need to flatten out the breast like a sandwich to help him do this, especially in the early days when breasts can be very full. He shouldn't be sucking only on the nipple. This was something that never occurred to me before reading it. The whole areola should be in his mouth to allow him access to all the milk available. If at the end of the feeding he is relaxed and begins hanging on the nipple only, refer to tip #3.  The baby should make a fishy face with mouth wide open and lips turned out. Looking for this helped me make sure that Baby had a good latch. When he latched correctly, I could really feel it. "It'll curl your toes," as my midwife told me.

#3 If the latch isn't right, detach the baby and start again. When BabyE was brand new, I was so relieved, happy, and proud when he latched at all. The idea of purposefully detaching him seemed crazy to me. Wouldn't it be better just to let him be? Even though it was difficult, I'm thankful for my midwife's advice to never put up with a bad latch. I believe, making sure that baby has a good latch is the reason I didn't have problems with breastfeeding pain or raw cracked nipples.
I hope you'll find these tips helpful. These are what worked for me. If you're having trouble, be sure to contact a La Leche League leader or a lactation consultant and get help. You can do it! 


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Eating Seasonally & Locally - Recipes


At this time of year I am struck by just how differently we eat now.  There is no more weekly purchase of bananas from thousands of miles away.  If we have strawberries, they are the ones we froze after picking them this summer just before BabyE was born.  We aren't feeling deprived though.  There are so many benefits of eating seasonally and locally, but today I want to focus on the delicious ones. There are many foods that are now favorites in our household that we had literally never tried before two years ago. Just to name a few we now can't live without Brussels Sprouts, Beets, Beet Greens, Collard Greens, Kale, Cabbage, Persimmons, a variety of Squashes, Leeks, and Persimmons, and almost all are grown within 30 miles of our home.  If you've never tried these either and you have similar foods growing in your area this time of year, here are some of our favorite recipes to try:

Sweet Potatoes, Apples & Braising Greens
Persimmons (Chop & add to salad)
Cuban Green Soup (Add Cale or Greens to almost any broth soup, or just saute in butter)
Crunchy Peanut Slaw
Orange Vegetable Soup
Roasted Brussels Sprouts



What are your favorite recipes this season? 



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This post is linked up with Sorta Crunchy Your Green Resource.

Monday, December 19, 2011

This is How We Nurse { LINKY }

Welcome back to the third week of the "This is How We" blog project and link up! I originally wanted to write the "This is How We" series for BabyE's journal, as a snapshot of our everyday lives. I would love if you join in with me this week and write your "This is How We Nurse" stories about your babies or children, so we never forget these lovely moments that pass all too soon. In the weeks to come, I plan to include This is how we...nap, take a bath, and more. Check out the previous weeks on diapering and sleeping. If I've learned one thing since becoming a mommy, it's that for as many moms and babies there are just as many right ways to parent. I look forward to reading all your stories. I am positive no two stories will be the same.


This is how we nurse...

The worn pink recliner creaks beneath us, and the springs 'squeak, squeak...squeak, squeak'  each time I rock, back and forth. It's the final remnant of college furniture. Pink does not match my black-and-brown-with-orange-and-green-accents decor, but I'm oh so glad we hung onto it. This is our little nursing nest. I finally remember to fill up my half gallon water bottle and set it by me, most of the time. The rest, I just stare longingly at it from where I sit.

I hurry to unhook the clasp with one hand while BabyE hurls his whole upper body toward my breast. He opens and closes his mouth enthusiastically with eyes closed, sucking blindly with faith that I'll be there. That is innocence. That is trust, all defined by one sweet babe.

We have this down now. For something a little awkward and challenging at the beginning, it's routine now. He latches without a second thought from either of us.  Within seconds a sigh as relaxation overcomes me.  It is a pause. It is time to examine those new rolls around his wrists and dimples at each knuckle on his oh-so-soft pudgy hand. He gets all the mama milk he wants until, with milky face still smashed against me, he drifts off to sleep in my arms.  I stare down at him and vow one more time to soak up every wonderful second of this time, simultaneously trying to push out of my head how short it is. Why does it have to be so? Maybe so we know just how precious it is.



Now it's your turn! Link up using the Linky tool below. It will be open all week. Be sure to link to your post, not your home page. Also, please provide a link back to this post.


Be sure to subscribe to the GrowingSlower RSS feed so you don't miss next week's link up where we'll be writing about "This is How We take a Bath". 

This post is also linked up with Just Write at The EO.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Links of the Week December 16 Edition

It's been a tough week mainly focused on helping BabyE to endure the misery of teething. It truly hurts my heart to watch the little guy in so much pain, but I'm so thankful I can be here with him everyday to help him through. Thus, I haven't added much new content this week. Here's what I've been reading though...
Whole New Mom is talking about Jet Fuel in Your Almonds.  I was shocked when I read this post. Just when you think you're buying real food for your family, you find that there are hidden chemicals being added to it! This will definitely change the way we shop.

This was the first major parenting decision DH and I really struggled with when BabyE was born.  The 'Hippie Housewife' debunks the common arguments for Circumcision and provides lots of great resources at Up, Down, & Natural.
You must read Do unto your children as you would have them do unto you at I Take Joy. It's just so beautifully written, and so true!  I'm storing this away for reference as we build our parenting philosophy.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

This is the First Post

This is the first post. No, it's not. It should have been the first post. The one where I introduce myself to you. Tell you why I'm writing. What I'm about. But it's not the first post. It's the 13th or something like that. I just spent too long wondering what to say. How to say it. It's not an easy task to define oneself in just a few lines, but I'll try anyway. I am an architect turned WAHM with an emphasis on the M part right now; I'm wife to the most amazing DH in the world, and mom to the most delightful little BabyE who fills me with wonder and gratitude for God's creation everyday. I'm passionate about: green, natural, and healthy living; recycling; natural birth; knitting; cloth diapering; and of course my own lovely little family.


In the year before we would start trying for a baby, I had baby fever. I was obsessed! I even had a spreadsheet with every conceivable (ha!) expense related to having a baby and the dates when we might be able to afford it. It felt like we would never get there. I had to do something that felt like moving toward our goal. So, we started thinking about what we would want to accomplish before having a baby. Some of the things were those which would be a whole lot harder once a baby arrived because of time, logistics, and expenses. Others we wanted to do to give a baby the best possible life. A lot of it moved us toward a greener, healthier, and simpler lifestyle. I feel really great about all the changes we made, as if we were really just becoming more ourselves in the process. Not just something we felt like we should do. We also have a long way to go, and many changes and projects that we will continue to work towards. And that's what GrowingSlower is all about!

I hope you'll join me as we are Learning to Live Simply as we Grow our Family.  Please click to subscribe to the GrowingSlower RSS feed. This post is linked up with The EO and Green & Natural Mama.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cloth Diapers Made Simple

There are countless great resources for learning all about cloth diapering. I did tons of research before BabyE arrived, but instead of repeating a list of all those confusing terms, or telling you why cloth diapering is so great (well I might do that), or rewriting all the basic how tos, I just want to tell you about what I concluded after all that research.

Why I love My Cloth Diapers

  • most importantly they work great for their intended use 
  • they don't leak 
  • they come in cute colors and patterns 
  • we can change them just as quickly as disposables 
  • they're unbleached, organic cotton 
  • Baby never gets diaper rash or skin irritations 
  • I don't have to feel guilty about throwing out big sacks of disposables 
  • ...and best of all they save tons of money
Cloth Diapers Made Simple


Saving Money with Cloth Diapers

There are only two sizes that will get baby from new born to potty training because the wraps are adjustable. I spent under $300 all together, and I'll be able to use them for the next babies to come along. I figure if I use them for two kids I'll save around $3700. And that doesn't count the savings from using cloth wipes, washable pail liners, and reusable travel wet bags. Since I'm staying home now every little bit helps!




Cloth Diapers Made Simple

The diaper system I use and love is Bummis Organic Cotton Prefolds with Thirsties Duo Snap Wraps

I also use knitted wool wraps for nighttime. Wool is amazing! It can be expensive if you purchase though. Instead, I used two different patterns to knit mine. I think both were pretty easy. One of my dear co-workers also knitted several for me. Both are free to download on Ravelry.

Washing Cloth Diapers

As for washing, we have it easy with just breastmilk poop so far. I carry my pail liner to the laundry room and turn the whole thing inside out in the washer. I never have to touch anything icky. First I do a cold wash without detergent. Then a hot wash with Charlie's Soap Liquid(only certain detergents are 'approved' for use with Bummis brand). Then I do an extra cold rinse. Wraps have to hang to dry, but I throw the prefold diapers in the dryer. It doesn't take long, it's just a matter of remembering to start the next cycle.

It seems like there are so many people who love to call you crazy for cloth diapering, but it's really worked well for us. With all the benefits I can't imagine doing it any other way.

What cloth diapers do you use?

Resources: 
If you're interested in trying cloth diapers but are still overwhelmed by all the possibilities, check out The Ultimate Cloth Diaper How-to-Guide by Erin at the Humbled Homemaker. 
Cloth Diaper Guide


This post is linked up with Works for me WednesdayYour Green Resource, and Green & Natural Mama, Real Life Attachment Parenting, Simple Lives Thursday. Image credit.

Monday, December 5, 2011

This is How We Diaper { LINKY }

Welcome back to the second week of the "This is How We" blog project and link up! I originally wanted to write the "This is How We" series for BabyE's journal, as a snapshot of our everyday lives. I would love if you join in with me this week and write your "This is How We Diaper" stories about your babies or children, so we never forget these lovely (and hilarious) moments that pass all too soon. You can't really call yourself a mom until you've had an entire conversation (or written a blog post) about your child's poop!  In the weeks to come, I plan to include This is how we...nurse, nap, take a bath, and more. If I've learned one thing since becoming a mommy, it's that for as many moms and babies there are just as many right ways to parent. I look forward to reading all your stories. I am positive no two stories will be the same.


This is How We Diaper:
Driving. The GPS guides me along the winding lane, such an unusual sensation for being in the city. Zooming left, then right, then left again. I like this new car, even if it took me five months to really drive it.  Big old trees create a wall on both sides of the road, making it narrower, shadier, and even more like an adventure in the middle of no where. An adventure it is. The first time out by ourselves since BabyE was born. Such a small outing has me bursting with excitement. Everything is wonderful on this unusually sunny clear fall day. I'm out of the house, and the world has expanded. My world has at least. No mind the baby screaming, really bleating, like a baby goat in the back seat. He HATES the car.  There's construction so I have to park farther away than I expect, but at least I don't have to parallel park. I lug the oh-so-heavy carseat along with the diaper bag across the construction zone and make cheerful conversation to the nice flagger. This is a great day!
In the store now. I tell the sales woman I need a nursing bra fitting. She peers in the carseat expecting to see a newborn. No, he's eight weeks. It's just taken me that long for me to get out of the house. I go into the dressing room, set baby on the floor and ask him to please please stay in his carseat so mommy can try on clothes. He smiles, kicks his feet, and flaps his arms. And then the toots start. I keep talking to him in that animated mommy voice to try to keep him happy and attempt to cover up the sound. People aren't going to think it's me doing that are they? But who could imagine such a loud sound coming out of such a small baby? I realize that the fabric curtains surrounding the dressing room are not enough to keep these distinct noises in. Next door conversation between the sales woman and another shopper stops. Quiet.

And then.

And then.

A diaper bomb. That's what DH and I termed BabyE's poos shortly after he was born. They are LOUD and they are explosive. I cringe. Everyone in the entire store starts laughing, and so do I. One lady calls out "I bet he feels better now!"  From the look on his face I think he does. And so do I.  After all, it can only get easier from here, right?

Link up using the Linky tool below starting Thursday. It will be open all week. Be sure to link to your post, not your home page. Also, please provide a link back to this post.


Be sure to subscribe to the GrowingSlower RSS feed so you don't miss next week's link up where we'll be writing about "This is How We Nurse".  Such a tender sweet time with our babes!  This post is also linked up with Just Write at The EO. Check out all the amazing pieces submitted this week.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

This Is How We...Go to Sleep { LINKY }

I am excited to announce my first ever blog project and link up!  I originally wanted to write the "This is How We" series for BabyE's journal, as a snapshot of our everyday lives. I would love if you join in with me and write your "This is How We Go to Sleep" stories this week about your babies or children, so we never forget these lovely moments that pass all too soon. In the weeks to come, I plan to include This is how we...nurse, nap, diaper, take a bath, and more. You can check out my This is How We Go to Sleep story as an example. If I've learned one thing since becoming a mommy, it's that for as many moms and babies there are just as many right ways to parent. I look forward to reading all your sleep stories. I am possitive no two will be the same.

Just link up using the Linky tool below. It will be open all week. Be sure to link to your post, not your home page. Also, please provide a link back to this post.


Be sure to subscribe to the GrowingSlower RSS feed so you don't miss next week's link up where we'll be writing about "This is how we Diaper".  I suspect there will be lots of comedy for that one!



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