SortaCrunchy has moved!

Hello! I am so glad you found me. Let me point you in the direction of SortaCrunchy's new home at Typepad:
http://sortacrunchy.typepad.com/sortacrunchy/

Come see me there!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Downtime

It seems that Mama was not able to escape unscathed from our bout with yuckiness from last week. Thankfully, I didn't have the full-on violent tummy revolt that D suffered from, but I did spend most of Saturday and all day Sunday feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck and then injected with some sort of sedative that caused any sort of attempt at movement to equal the effort of lifting bags of wet cement. Thank you LORD The Coach was home to take care of me and D!

I feel better today, notwithstanding some residual weakness . . .

Anyway, I am not posting a Menu Plan this week because hubs has some unexpected (though much appreciated) time off and is planning GrillFest '07 to celebrate his last days of freedom before the madness of The Season starts (players report on Sunday!!). I don't know what his plans are, I just know that I don't have to heat up the house with the oven, and I am all. about. that.

From last week's menu, both Keara and I thought Rachel Ray's Tex Mex Red Beans and Rice was so yummy. I am a bit puzzled as to why she decided this recipe is Tex Mex . . . but The Coach and I added some mesquite barbeque sauce to jazz ours up and that did give it a decidedly Tex flavor. Also, the Corn Bread Salad turned out to be pretty darn good. I used the entire pan of corn bread and it made for a quite the meal.

Two more things -

1) Don't forget tomorrow is the Meals Make Memories writing festival over at FriedOkra! I am so looking forward to all these food-inspired stories!

2) I wanted to send hearty congratulations to my friend Noah on the arrival of Lorinc Arpad!! Noah delivered her 10 lb, 10 oz baby boy at home! If you have minute, you can read her inspiring story of his birth here.

Things look to be pretty busy in the SortaCrunchy house this week, particularly with The Coach being home. Posting, reading, and commenting may have to take a backseat to all of our offline adventures (which, if the weather cooperates, will include a trip to the San Antonio zoo with my friend Amanda and her sweet kiddos!), but hopefully next week will find me back in my happy blogging groove . . .

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shocked, delighted, surprised . . .

Something wonderful happened!

It's really quite embarrassing how excited I am to have won this. Nothing thrills my heart like a brand-new planner. I have been cultivating quite an obsession over personal planners since I was about, oh I don't know, twelve . . .

I am a terribly lazy journaler, so I often rely on my planners as the keepers of the stories of my days. What a blessing this will be!

Thank you again, Jeana!

Bit O' Crunchy, July 27th: CLOTH WIPES

Welcome, gentle readers, to the First Ever installment of Bit O' Crunchy! Thank you to everyone who voted and helped me decide on what to name my natural living spotlight of the week. Bit O'Crunchy won by the skin of its teeth - and this was much to my delight as it was always my favorite choice anyway.

This week, I want to talk about cloth wipes.

Lisa at Full Circle Baby helped me start my cloth diapering stash (and subsequent obsession) when D was about eight months old. She did an amazing job of introducing all things cloth to me, and I remember her saying in passing that not only did she use cloth diapers, she also used cloth wipes. It made sense, you see, to just be able to toss the used cloth wipes in with the used cloth dipes in the wet bag instead of having to fish used disposable wipes out of the diaper clean-up and throw them away in the trash. I thought, "hmmmmmm, yes, sounds like a good idea, but I am going to stay with my trusty Huggies wipes. Cloth wipes sound a bit . . . complicated."

Some months later, it occurred to me (as I was fishing a poopy-covered Huggies wipe out of a poopy-covered cloth diaper) that, indeed, there might be an easier way to do this. It was also around this time that I had begun to buy many of our diapers from Work At Home Moms who nearly always threw in a sweet little cloth wipe with the new dipe as a thank-you-for-ordering bonus. I gathered these sweet little wipes and found some recipes for homemade wipe solutions, and I haven't ever looked back. Even when I got pregnant and D was in sposie dipes much of the time, I still used our cloth wipes because I love them so much.

Here's the thing: which is more effective in cleaning up a spill on your kitchen counter - a soaking wet paper towel or a dampish-dry bar towel? I will reach for the bar towel every time. Think back to when your babe was a wee little one and you reached for a burp rag to wipe up that sweet little cherubic face after a feeding. Would you have rather grabbed a chemical-soaked "cloth-like" paper towel or a soft, cotton-y actual cloth?

Now, how and when do we use baby wipes? On the most tender of skin on our most tender of treasures to clean up some very unpleasant stuff. If you think about it, cloth wipes just make good common (crunchy) sense. Effective clean-up, no harsh chemicals, and nice and soft on a baby's bum!

Cloth wipes - what you need to know:

1) You can purchase fun and funky cloth wipes through many WAHM venues. Here's just a sampling:
Hyena Cart Stores - ClothDiaperMama, The Rosa Mariposa, goodmama (at The Muses congo)
Etsy Stores - Craft Monkey, countryclothcreations, slingsandsacks
Again, that is just a sample of the many, many WAHMs who carry cloth wipes.

2) Cloth wipes are easy to make yourself! If you aren't up for sewing, you can easily use bargain-priced baby washcloths.

3) Wipe solutions are also easy to make or can be purchased. If you make your own, you can customize it to your child's unique needs (sensitive skin, eczema, etc.).

4) Cloth wipes can be laundered with your cloth diapers. Even if yours isn't a cloth diapering home, you can still use cloth wipes. Just gather your wipes and run them through a cold rinse, hot wash with regular detergent, and hot cycle in the dryer (or hang on the line). Easy peasy!

5) I love cloth wipes for the same reason I love cloth diapers - good for the planet, good for the pocketbook, and good for baby's skin.

Bring on the questions and comments!

We have a winner!

This morning, I had to giggle when I read Musings of a Housewife's post about choosing her giveaway winner. I also had originally planned to write out all the entrants and post really cute pics of D drawing a name out of a ballcap or something equally precious and ohsounique, but once my comments spilled over the one hundred mark, I began looking for a different solution.

Like dcrmom, I turned to the random integer generator at Random.Org. The Lord, He had mercy on me this morning . . . the number selected by random was number 44! Far, far easier than counting into the two-hundreds, yessir.

So, Sunny Kristi at Sunny Pond Home, it's your lucky day! I look forward to your BIG (hee hee) shopping spree at Northern Essence.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

In which I prepare to do some serious drooling

One beautiful aspect of the second and third trimester of pregnancy is that food tastes. so. good. This sorta explains why my first child was nearly ten pounds, and why, judging by the looks of things, Little Sister is well on her way to topping out the nursery scales as well.

Even when not pregnant, I do love to eat. Love. And so I am so excited that darling Megan at FriedOkra is hosting a Meals Make Memories Day next Tuesday, July 31st.





With a name like FriedOkra, you know her food related memories are going to be good! I can't wait to read what everyone else has to contribute. And what food-based memory shall I choose?! My mind swims with possibilities.

Now listen, sweet friends, I know some of you are supreme kitchen goddesses. You don't get to that level of kitchen prowess by accident - you've got some stories to tell. I can't wait to hear them all!

Next Tuesday. FriedOkra. Get there early so you can get a seat at the grown-up table.

Recovering

I'll spare you the gory details, but last night at the SortaCrunchy house was not a pretty scene. D came down with a tummy bug and there was throw-up . . . lots and lots of throw-up. So today will be about cleaning up, scrubbing down, and airing out.

And I'll probably need to lay down a little bit, too.

If all goes well and neither Mommy nor Daddy comes down with this short-lived but violent plague, then I may be able to post something of substance.

If not, then I will definitely be back tomorrow for the Northern Essence giveaway drawing and my first natural living spotlight!

Hope all is well and vomit-free for each of you today.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - The Backyardigans




(The Coach would be highly irritated if I didn't clarify that this is our next door neighbor's backyard. He would never, no not ever, let our grass grow that high.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Comments, commenting, and fostering discussion in blogland

I had a whole 'nother post in mind for today, but honestly, this discussion prompted by Jeana at Days to Come is much more interesting to me.

The question that spawned the discussion is this: What is the purpose of comments?

Jeana makes great points in her original post regarding how, when, and why the comment section of a blog can be used. I won't restate all of her ideas here (as it really is worth a few minutes of your time to read for yourself), but I think she sums it up nicely in this sentence: "The comment section is a good place to hold a discussion, add relevant points, express that you can relate, or bring up a different side of what is being discussed." Jeana goes on to speak to the idea of using discretion in evaluating a blogger's overall tone and purpose of the post in specific, as well as the blog in general, before leaving a comment for the author. Again, I agree with her on all of this, and so I thought it would be interesting to take the idea a step further.

My question is, what stimulates you - a blog reader - to leave a comment on a post you have read?

In other words, how would you describe your commenting personality?

Are you one who enjoys reading for the sake of reading and rarely leaves a comment anywhere? Do you prefer to wait for a post to come along that really gets you fired up before you say anything? Would you say you that although you read a diverse selection of blogs, you are more prone to comment on the blogs of people with whom you have established a relationship, or are you more likely to just comment as the mood strikes? Do the limitations of time affect what you say and where?

I look forward to hearing what you have to say because I am a bit obsessive over my audience. Notice I didn't say over comments . . . but I do think long and hard about my audience before I post anything. I suppose it goes back to my days as an English major where every. single. piece of writing was evaluated (at least in part) by how well it spoke to the intended audience. For me, comments are a reflection as to whether or not I spoke to my audience in that particular post. I have discovered that within my unique audience, some topics like baby names and extended breastfeeding tend to elicit more of a response from my readers than, say, poetic attempts inspired by a day at the playground. Does that sway what I decide to post here? Certainly! But not to the point where I am going to focus solely on controversial or inflammatory topics out of a desperate need for comments.

As for my own commenting personality - this is an area I struggle with because again, it all goes back to audience for me. When I subscribe to a blog's feed, I feel that I am volunteering to be that writer's audience. Hence, if that writer posts something, I am driven, compelled, to say something. Just as if she called me on the phone to share a new recipe with me, or tell me the cutest thing her son did that day, or tell me about her crappy day at work . . . I would never just listen and hang up without a word. Obviously, these are two different forms of communication and don't require the same manner of response, but I think it is that writer/audience relationship that drives my need to say something after a read a post, even if it doesn't actually accomplish a purpose of furthering the conversation. Just so long as I say something.

Alas, I am a human who operates under the confines of time and don't get to say nearly all that I want to to everyone who shares their thoughts with me via their blog. And because of that, I am a perpetually frustrated commenter.

And double alas - I have gone on (and on) about myself more than I had intended! I so desire to hear from all manner of blog readers on this idea - both my usual, wonderful, precious crew and anyone who clicks over here from Days to Come.

What role do you play in furthering discussion in blogland?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaway!

DETAILS - I am not so good with them. I will close comments for entry at 7 am on Friday, July 27th. Winner will be drawn around 9 am on Friday morning. Best of luck! Thanks for stopping by!

Hooray! The day has arrived to kick-off Shannon's Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaway!

I am excited to offer to you the chance to do a little shopping at one of my favorite natural products companies - Northern Essence! Northern Essence is a Work At Home Mom business that creates and carries all kinds of great natural products. Stuff for moms, stuff for babes, even stuff for the man in your life! The winner of my giveaway will choose up to $15 in products from Northern Essence, email me your order, and I will place the order for you so I can cover shipping. Your order will come shipped directly to you. Giveaway offer open to residents of the USA and Canada.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. I will randomly select a winner on Friday, July 27th. Good luck! Happy Giveaway Week!

Menu Plan Monday - July 23rd

*** UPDATED WITH CORN BREAD SALAD RECIPE AT THE BOTTOM! ***



Thanks, as always, to Laura for hosting!

Veggies for the week depend on what looks good at the Farmer's Market Tuesday afternoon. I will be happy to post recipes on request.

Monday: Steak Soup (didn't make yesterday), cornbread

Tuesday: Chicken fajitas, Granny's Low-Fat bean dip, salad

Wednesday: Burgers grilled out, chips, veggies

Thursday: Tex Mex Red Beans and Rice, salad

Friday: Corn Bread Salad

Saturday: Colorful Hamburger Rice, pudding parfaits

Sunday: Just me and D, so probably sandwiches

Hope everyone has a great week!


PER REQUEST, here is the recipe for Corn Bread Salad. I found this in the Taste of Home Ground Beef Cookbook, 1999.

From Sherry E., Camden, Arkansas

Corn Bread Salad
3/4 lb ground beef
1-1/2 c. crumbled corn bread (if you like to use an 8.5 oz mix like Jiffy Cornbread mix - my fave! - then 1-1/2 c is about half of what the 8.5 oz mix will make)
1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, chopped

Topping:
1-1/3 c. mayonnaise
2 t. sugar
2 t. vinegar

In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain and cool slightly. In a large bowl, layer corn bread, beans, celery, onion, and tomotoes. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar; mix well. Sppon beef over tomato layer. Spread topping over salad. (Do not toss.) Yield: 8 servings

Haven't made this one yet, but I will let you know next week how it turns out!

Friday, July 20, 2007

For the weekend: a poll, an auction, and giveaways galore!

Check my sidebar! I am taking advantage of Blogger's newest sidebar addition - the POLL.

I would like to start including a weekly Friday feature - a natural living highlight of the week. This feature will include information on natural family living philosophies, products, and practices. But what shall I call it? The fact that Little Sister remains nameless might shed insight on why I need reader feedback to decide on a name for a blog feature. I am totally open to other suggestions by way of comments or email, too!

Two things you want to remember for this coming Monday -
1) The Baby Blanket Auction that Megan at FriedOkra is creating as a Random Act of Kindness. Make sure to check it out - and you won't want to miss some of her other highly enjoyable writing while you are there! (Skin is a must read!)

2) Monday is the kick-off for the Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaway hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer! I'm excited to be offering a little something and really excited to see what everyone else comes up with!

Ya'll have a great weekend and I'll see ya back here Monday!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

See the fine lady upon the high horse . . .

(Very quick follow-up to some of the skeptical comments regarding the amount of sugar in our sweet tea . . . I shared these with The Coach and he told me to tell ya'll that if you think that's too much sugar, then you don't really want sweet tea. You want iced tea with some sweet in it; we like ours to be sweet with a little tea . . .)

Four days into my first real teaching position, I did a crazy thing. I asked my students to write me a note with comments and suggestions on how our first week of school was going. I have never gotten over what one of my students wrote to me:

You're doing a great job and all, but I think you need to get down off of your high horse and realize we are high school students and we like to have a little fun . . . (it's been a few years and I can't remember the rest of his critique)

Once I recovered from the sting of a high school junior telling me to get off my high horse, I took some time to reflect on the truth in the message. Not surprisingly, it wasn't the first time I had been told I needed to get off my high horse. When the exact same phrase comes up again and again in relation to how people experience you, Lady Wisdom invites you to pause and reflect.

The truth is, I do struggle with a judgmental spirit. The truth is I have confessed this many times, yet still find myself getting a little too big for my britches. (And I gotta tell ya, size large maternity britches are pretty darn big, so you can just imagine . . .) The truth is I know God is opening my eyes to this same struggle once again by way of Scripture, sermons, and even blog entries like this one from BooMama.

So today I offer a Thursday Thirteen that is mostly a reminder to myself that there are many, many areas of my life that offer a big helping of humility . . . more than enough to keep me away from the "well, at least I don't do that" buffet in my mind.

1. I lack self-control. I am well on my way to gaining even more weight with this pregnancy than I did with D. And it's not because I am just one of those women who gains a lot of weight while pregnant; it's because as soon as the stick shows a positive, I abandon all I know to be true about good nutrition and overindulge with chocolate, cookies, and all manner of fats. I suppose the sweet tea doesn't help either.
2. I lack gratitude. Even though I have declared that I want to be responsible with sending thank you notes for every gift I receive in the next year, I have yet to write a single note of gratitude for any birthday gift I received last month.
3. I am dishonest. Though the Lord has brought about much victory in this area for me, I confess that when a situation comes up that I don't want to deal with, my very first reaction is to make up an excuse to get out of or around it.
4. I am a lawbreaker. There is rarely a time you will find me driving the speed limit on the interstate. It's nearly always just a hair over.
5. I am selfish. I have been known to contrive and manipulate situations to my advantage, even and especially within my own family.
6. I am a bad citizen. I haven't voted in an election since 2000. And I don't return my shopping carts to the parking lot corrals at Big Mart.
7. I don't live up to my own ideals. Though I am a passionate advocate of cloth diapers for the health of our planet and the health of my child, D has been in disposables since a month before we moved because I am just too tired to get her cloth diapers out and use them.
8. I am lazy. I haven't exercised regularly since two weeks after I found out I was pregnant. With D.
9. I am materialistic. I like stuff.
10. I lack focus. I am leading a Bible study this summer that I participated in last fall, and I decided to be frugal cheap and just use the same book this summer. Since all of the answers are already filled in, I feel like I have been phoning it in for the homework part of this Bible study instead of investing in discovering new answers and insights.
11. I am a worrier. I have more faith in my fear than in my God.
12. Have I mentioned I have a judgmental spirit?
13. I haven't had a haircut in six months.

Now, lest you misunderstand, this is not intended to be a "woe is me! I am so flawed, so broken, so unworthy" kind of post. The last thing I want to do is share this in a spirit of self-deprecation cloaked in false humility as a twisted way of boosting my self-esteem. Nor would I want in any way to dishonor the vast amounts of work God has done in this heart of mine. (In fact, maybe next week I will share thirteen victories that all give glory to God.) Nope, this is just a note to self. Having grown up in Oklahoma, I know there are two ways down from any horse - the hard way and the easy way. The easy way allows you to keep most of your dignity intact, not to mention keeping your clothes clean. The hard way hurts and usually involves a splash in a puddle of mud. As much as it has rained here this summer, the mud puddles are fresh and plentiful around here, so me and my too-tight riding britches are getting down from this high horse of my own volition. Besides, I think I heard someone ringing the dinner bell over at the chuck wagon. Wonder if they have any sweet tea . . .

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

WFMW: Texas Sweet Tea

Okay, so I am playing a little fast-and-loose with the title TEXAS sweet tea. I know there are plenty of Texans out there who might beg to differ with me that this is how Texans make sweet tea. So let me just say that this is how we in the SortaCrunchy household (firmly planted in Texas) make us some sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet tea.

(We also don't have a recipe handed down to us from a great-great-grandmother who made the original sweet tea. Our concoction is a melding together of many recipes we have come across; we have tinkered and made it our own!)

Recipe for one gallon of sweet tea:

1 gallon of water (divided; tap will do fine)
3 or 4 cups of sugar (how much do you love your dentist?)
12 Luzianne iced tea bags

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts (half a gallon) of water and all of your sugar to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, remove pot from heat and add the tea bags. Cover and let sit. (I'd say at least half an hour, but we let ours sit up to two hours sometimes.) After tea has steeped, remove tea bags and pour tea into a gallon sized container. Fill with two more quarts of water (to make a gallon - the magic of math and measurements!). Chill and serve over ice. I like a lemon wedge or two in mine to cut the sweetness, but The Coach prefers his straight up.

A gallon makes a LOT of tea, so unless you are having company over for a grill-out, you may want to make just half a gallon. Tea (sweet and otherwise) tastes funny to me after it's been in the fridge for three or more days.

Enjoy!

For more Works For Me Wednesday tips, pour a glass of tea and drop by Rocks in My Dryer!

Wordless Wednesday - Showered!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stoked! And some link love

I don't say the word stoked very often. But I have to tell ya'll I am stoked about the Dog Days of Summer Giveaway carnival that Shannon is hosting next week! Check it:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Doesn't that just look like the most fun?! Yep, stoked I tell ya! I was already planning to do some kind of little giveaway but felt kind of shy about when to do it and how to get the word out. Then presto! Shannon to the rescue! I haven't quite decided what I am giving away yet, but I have a few ideas a'cookin. Stay tuned!

A few links I wanted to mention:

Melissa at Little Woolgatherings is starting the neatest thing - Craftacular Tuesdays! Now, I have nary a crafty bone in my body, but I have plenty o' crafty friends who absolutely need to be participating. (Don't make me call you out!)

I sure do love reading Megan at Velveteen Mind. Take a few minutes, if you would, and go read her Johnny Depp-tastic post and the follow-up reflections for at-home moms . . .

Finally, and oh-so-importantly, I wanted to send you over to yet another Megan's blog (FriedOkra) because I know you will want to read about her upcoming Baby Blanket Auction benefiting Princess Teagan. Please take just a minute to read Teagan's story and consider participating in this Random Act of Kindness for this family.

Monday, July 16, 2007

SortaCrunchy Philosophy and Policies

SortaCrunchy Philosophy

Though I feel it is through natural living practices that I have been able to more fully live out what I have always believed, my identity is not grounded in the world of natural living. My identity is first and foremost in Christ Jesus. I love the Word of God and believe it is ultimate truth. I also believe that many natural living beliefs and practices speak to and echo many passages in Scripture. It is my hope that my life would have a gentle impact on the people and resources around me; that though I am a stranger in this land, I would not pass through this world detached from and uncaring of all that God has entrusted to me. I want to be invested and intentional in the words I speak (here and beyond the confines of electronic communication) and in the choices I make for myself and my family.

Mission Statement

My desire is for the SortaCrunchy blog to be a place of discussion and dialogue at the intersection of faith and a life more natural.

Comment Policy

I welcome comments from any reader at any time! I encourage my readers to offer agreement, disagreement, correction, support, and related resources. Additionally, I reserve the right to moderate and, if needed, delete comments that I deem to be inappropriate, intentionally inflammatory, or disrespectful to myself or my readers.

Blogroll Policy

I enjoy reading many blogs and commenting as much as possible. I am not as diligent as I would like to be in updating my blogroll, but I am happy to add the blogs of SortaCrunchy readers upon request. I reserve the right to decline a request to be added.
The blogs I read and list on my blogroll are diverse and may not reflect my own personal beliefs.

Crunchy Resources

Within the Crunchy Resources, I have included a mixture of non-profit organizations and natural living product vendors. I try to find resources that offer helpful information to anyone interested in natural living. I welcome suggestions for new sites and resources to be added.


Reviews

Are you a vendor of a product related to natural living or to parenting? I would be happy to do a review for you. Please contact me through email for further details.

Menu Plan Monday

Thank you, Laura, for hosting!

Well, The Coach went back to work this morning after a couple of weeks of vacation. We have gotten so much done around here! And by "we," I mostly mean "he!" The man built and installed and replaced and trimmed and cooked (well, grilled actually - but that's cooking, right?) and shopped . . . I am confident he was glad to be back at work today so he could take a break from the past month! Anyway, with the hubby back at work, I am hoping D and I can back into our regular routines as well, and that means an actual menu plan for the week!

We are some grilling fools here in the SortaCrunchy home. Our grill lay wasting away in exile in the garage of some friends of ours while we were in the apartment. Now that it has made its glorious return, we have been grilling three, four, and sometimes five nights a week!

If ya'll haven't had grilled bananas, you are truly missing out. Lay the bananas (in their complete skin) on the grill for a few minutes on each side. When you open them, they will be hot and sweet and need only some brown sugar, cinnamon, and maybe a little splash of vanilla to make them the perfect (and perfectly easy) summer dessert. Yum!

Monday - grilled chicken breasts, Grilled Mustard Potato Salad, mixed green salad

Tuesday - cheeseburger mac, broccoli (baby shower night for Mama! So fast and easy dinner for D and her daddy)

Wednesday - Slow Cooker Tender and Yummy Round Steak, fresh veggies (depending on what we find at the Farmer's Market)

Thursday - Bobcat Bash! (annual fundraiser and catfish fry)

Friday - taco night with all the fixings

Saturday - grilled sirloin steak, Quick Sesame Green Beans, garlic bread

Sunday - steak soup (made with leftovers from the steak this week), cornbread, veggies

Head over to I'm An Organizing Junkie for more great menu plans!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Blessings! And a little housekeeping . . .

Oh, how happy I am that proverbs31 at Bringing Good Home shared about this great giveaway at Fina' Drea! This darling little (Texas-based!) company called Blessed Baby is giving away one of the precious, faith-inspired onesies from their sweet little collection. I am all about cute and funny clothes on babies, but this is the first company I have come across that blends cute with a great message. Don't ya'll think Little Sister needs one of the Love is Patient onesies? I surely do. Lots of you sweet friends are growing some blessed babies right now, so I know you will want to head over to Fina' Drea to enter!

Now, a quick housekeeping note. I am doing some changing and shuffling around in my sidebar, and over the weekend, I am hoping to get a post up regarding some SortaCrunchy policies. Just wanted to give you the heads-up, but I truly hope that over the weekend each of you are out and about and enjoying July somewhere with some fresh air. Or at least some air conditioning.

Follow-up chat on mama cloth

Great comments from yesterday, mamas!

Nichole mentioned trying to get the hang of cloth diapering before she took the plunge into mama cloth, but I have to say that in my experience the learning curve with cloth pads is much less steep than the one with cloth diapers. With cloth diapering, there are so many choices and systems - it's all very overwhelming in the beginning. Or it was for me anyway!

There are a few basic decisions to be made with mama cloth: what sort of waterproof material do you want it backed with (PUL? Wool? Heavy fleece?), what length would you like for the pad to be, wings or no wings, one snap or two . . . So yes, some decisions to be made. But really, that's the fun part! With disposable pads and tampons, your customization choices are limited to light, medium, or heavy flow. One of the gorgeous things about mama cloth is that you get to pick what works for you and your unique body and preferences.

Trust me when I say that caring for cloth pads is basically fool-proof! You can soak them or not, dry them in the dryer or not (well, unless you use wool backing - then you won't want to dry them in the dryer), treat staining or don't. It's really no big deal.

For anyone who is even slightly intrigued, I highly suggest you order yourself some liners and just see what you think. They generally run about $6 each, so if you hate it, you aren't out that much. I'm sure there is some way you could recycle its use around the house, and I am going to stop short of listing some of the inappropriate ideas that just came to my mind. :)

Two of my fave mama cloth makers are Daisy Girl Designs and Go With The Flo. Daisy Girl makes an amazing thong pad, probably my very favorites in my stash. I have to warn you these are pretty tricky to get a hold of, but you can find some if you know where/how to look. Robin at Go With The Flo is an outstanding seamstress and uses scrumptious materials. I love her mini-pads the best.

Noah mentioned Luna Pads, and although I haven't tried these, they are certainly a well-established and popular maker of mama cloth. And finally, Homemade Mama is an extremely popular WAHM maker of cloth pads who shares lots of good information on her site. I am hoping to be able to add at least one, if not two, of her Ultimate II Pads for postpartum use.

If and when some of ya'll decide to give it a try, please do let me know. I would love to hear your experiences - good and bad!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Let's talk mama cloth

(By means of preface, if I have somehow garnered any male readers, or if you are a man and have stumbled across this post by accident, I want to prepare you now for what promises to be a candid discussion of feminine hygiene. It has been my experience that most men would rather slam their pinkie finger in the car door than to take part in any conversation that includes the words "period," "tampon," "pads," or even "postpartum," so please do consider yourselves warned and feel free to click away immediately. Won't hurt my feelings one bit.)


With that said, let's commence.

Within the realm of natural family living, there is a fun little term that will generally spark delight in the hearts of all crunchy and sortacrunchy mamas - fluffy mail. What is fluffy mail? Simply, it's mail that contains items that are soft and squeezable rather than flat and texturally undelightful. In the context of natural living products, fluffy mail most often refers to baby carriers (the kind one uses to wear the baby), cloth diapers, or mama cloth (also known as cloth menstrual pads). And it is that last category of fluffy mail that I want to talk about today because yesterday, Mama got some fluffy mail of her own:

These little pretties are the custom postpartum pads I ordered from RCD Boutique - a Hyena Cart vendor who hails from Canada and makes and sells all manor of crunchy goodies. (I want to pause and say Rosie was a dream to work with - excellent communication, perfect sewing, amazing turnaround time. Big thumbs-up for this WAHM!)

Now might be a good time to tell you that as recently as a year ago, I had fairly well determined that although I loved many aspects of natural living, there were some lines I was just not going to cross. Using cloth pads ranked high on my Thanks, But No Thanks list of changes I couldn't (wouldn't) make. I am ashamed to say this, but I have never been one of those women who fully embraces the magic and mystery of the monthly cycle. I want to be. Really, I do. But mostly I see that time of the month as a fairly big inconvenience and therefore want to take care of it in the most convenient way possible. The thought of purchasing - and using! - cloth items actually made me a bit queasy.

And yet . . .

I found myself drawn to the mama cloth forums on the cloth diapering boards I frequent, and the more I read from mamas who were happy - enthusiastic even! - having made the switch to cloth pads, the more intrigued I became. Here's a little confession for ya'll: Though my first period arrived when I was in the sixth grade, I didn't use a tampon for the first time until the summer before I started college. Since that time, the only, only, time I used pads was when I was postpartum with D. I loathe disposable pads with all that is within me, and I think this was a major hurdle in my thinking as I contemplated switching to cloth pads. Plus, there is the "ick" factor. Although tampons aren't totally ick-free, at least when you're done with one, you're done.

Eventually my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to start small. A few pantyliners - that's it. Imagine my astonishment when I found I was actually looking forward to the end of my period so I could use these sweet little things that were gorgeously, luxuriously soft and gentle. Honestly, is there a realm of the women's body more deserving of luxury? Seriously!

And the "ick" factor? You know what? It's not that bad! (I suppose you might want to remember that I am not bothered by the ick factor of cloth diapering, either, so I guess it's all relative.) But honestly, caring for my mama cloth is no big deal. There are several options, but I personally like to soak mine in cold water and then just wash them in my regular laundry. They can be thrown in with your diaper laundry as well. And the soaking water makes a great drink for your plants!

As I skimmed around the web, I found this great article at Wikipedia that explains the details far better than I could, and I highly recommend perusing it to find out more.

So back to my fluffy mail . . . I took a few side-by-side shots to further illustrate why I am so excited to have some mama cloth to get through my upcoming postpartum weeks. This picture shows how much more aesthetically alluring mama cloth is as compared to your average disposable pad:Now really, who could argue the pretty factor? This was just one choice of a plethora Rosie at RCD offers. The possibilities are endless. The side that is showing is the side that will face away from my body. Let's take a look at the insides:I'm sure each of you are familiar with the inside of a disposable pad - that plasticky netting that covers layers of paper (and chemicals) and is surrounded by fantastically painful adhesive. Good times. What you may not have experienced is the amazingly soft feel of silky microfleece against your skin. Inside a cloth pad are layers of some sort of textile (cotton, hemp, etc) that do the work of absorption - no chemicals here! And you can choose from several options to make the whole pad leak-proof. I like my pads to have wings, so rather than frustrating and irritating adhesive, my pads have simple snaps that help the pad to stay in place. You can also find contour (no wing) pads if that is your preference.

Finally, when was the last time you opened a pack of Always and discovered a thank you note from the company?


I look forward to hearing from ya'll on this and welcome questions and comments!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - First House




Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rockin!

I wanted to take a minute to say a HUGE thank you to Christy at After a Cup of Coffee . . . or Two. I have really enjoyed getting to know Christy though her blog. She has a straightforward, honest way about her that I so appreciate. Anyway, this sweet thing has bestowed upon me the award of

What a fun surprise and great treat! I rolled over 31 weeks today and I feel anything but rockin'. Sweaty? Yes. Stinky? Yes. Gassy? It's not pretty. So to know that in the realm of blogland anyone would consider me to be rockin' totally makes my day!

Now, the way I understand it is I now get to choose five fellow blogistas to receive this award. This is so hard, ya'll! I have many, many friends who blog. (Seriously, have you checked out my blogroll? It's insane.) In addition to all of my bloggin friends, I have a Google Reader that spilleth over with bloggy goodness. Ay yi yi! I have given this way more thought than is necessary, I am sure . . .

First two go to Reesh at Two Pink Lines and Birdie at BirdBrain. Each of these rockin' girls are also expecting new babes in September. Reesh is an all-out crunchy superstar and looks totally rockin these days. Birdie is expecting baby numero uno and I have so loved reliving all those wonderful first pregnancy thoughts through her blog.

The next two go to two wonderful friends of mine. These were the hardest to choose because I really think each and every one of my bloggin' friends totally rocks! Lori at Fairytales and Margaritas is an amazing mama to four, babywearing advocate, and outstanding mama role model to me. She is one of the most generous and thoughtful women I have ever met and I feel so honored to call her friend. Julie at Peaceful Chaos keeps me laughing and thinking and always ready to hear more with her fun and reflective writing.

Finally, someone I have really enjoyed getting to know in blogland is Jordan at MamaBlogga. I love that she hosts writing projects that have inspired great writing across the web. Blog-savvy but very down-to-earth, her blog is a great mix of advice, encouragement, and reflection.

So there we go. Feel free to share the love, ladies!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sorta Settled

Hi ya'll!

Thanks so much to everyone for the sweet comments and well-wishes during this blogging break. I am so thrilled to say that we have safely landed in our new home and are fast at work feathering our new nest. The Coach has been like a man possessed this past month - cleaning and building and gardening and shopping . . . oh my! It would be impossible for me to say how much I appreciate all he has done to fix up the first house we have called home. Hard to believe, right? That it would be impossible for me to say something- the woman who can say so little with so many words. But really, it's too much. He's a rock star.

I am about halfway through my Google Reader and still have so much to read. I promised myself I would not comment on anyone's blogs while I do my catch-up reading. I have an inappropriate amount of blog guilt that tends to worsen when I start picking and choosing where I comment, so I am forcing myself to shut my mouth until I am finally caught up! Lots of great stuff has been posted in the past two weeks (is that it? Two weeks? I could swear it's been two months!), so this bloggy Quiet Game is causing me no small amount of anguish, but I gotta stick to it. Thanks for your patience.

The Coach's vacation time lasts through next week, so my time online will continue to be a bit sketchy as we finish a mountain of projects together. And, oh yeah! We are at T-minus two months until Little Sister arrives, and I am nesting like never before. Looking forward very much though to swimming the gentle waters of my favorite pools in the blogosphere very, very soon!