Status Update

9 Aug

So . . . It’s been pretty much forever since I posted. This past spring semester was my last semester in law school, which meant I was crazy busy. But, I figured that I would have all summer to blog so it would work out. After all, all I was doing was studying for the bar exam, I wouldn’t be that busy, right?

Wrong.

So utterly unbelievably wrong.

Studying for the bar was the most time consuming, difficult thing I have ever done. It was every day – Saturday and Sunday included. It was 8-10 hours per day during the week, then 4-6 hours each day on the weekends. I read, literally, thousands of pages and did at least a thousand practice questions. No exaggeration.

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See?

By the end, I was completely exhausted. Then, I had a two day bar exam to take, which was pretty much 48 hours of hell on earth.

This summarizes my summer well:

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But.

That’s over now and hopefully I will never, ever, ever have to do it again. September 18 I will get my results – now it’s just a waiting game!

I did get some things accomplished this summer, though. We went to San Francisco and Napa Valley to celebrate graduation. I am probably in the best shape of my life (working out was one of the few things I didn’t feel guilty about doing instead of studying).

And, now, at the end of the summer, I am at a point in my life I thought was so far away – I am going to start my ‘real’ job and Paul and I will start trying to conceive. Crazy, right? No more crazy than working my ass off for 3 months studying for the bar exam. :P

Types of Cloth Diapers: All-in-Ones (AIO)

28 May

AIO Basics

AIO – all-in-one. This means that your cloth diapers are in one piece and don’t require anything else (like inserts) to work. You just put them on the baby and – bam! – you’re cloth diapering.

Advantages: Super-easy! These diapers are probably the closest to disposables because they are only one piece and don’t require any stuffing or extra work. This means that if you are using cloth diapers with a daycare or other caregiver, they will probably be most open to using this kind of cloth diaper. It is easy to use and requires the fewest component parts.

Disadvantages: The diaper can only be used once before washing. Once it’s dirty, it’s done. With some of the other types of cloth diapers, you may be able to switch out the cloth insert and re-use the cover. This has several disadvantages. One is that in order to expand your cloth diaper stash, you have to buy an additional cloth diaper versus only additional inserts. This can make cloth diapering more expensive. Additionally, the diapers are being washed more and may wear out faster. These also tend to take longer to dry. Also, because these diapers don’t have  a pocket, you can’t add additional inserts for overnight use or heavy wetters.

Brands of All-in-One Cloth Diapers

Even if you decide that you definitely want an all-in-one, it can still be difficult to decide which brand is the best (or the best for you). Here is an overview of some of the most common brands and the general advantages and disadvantages of each, as I learned through reading LOTS of reviews.

BumGenius Freetime

Overview

  • One-size diaper (7 – 35 lbs)
  • Available in snap or aplix fasteners
  • Semi attached inserts to make drying faster
  • $19.95

Advantages

  • Washes easily
  • Soft
  • Very absorbent – many reviewers reported using this diaper as their overnight diaper
  • Fewer leaks than disposables
  • Keeps baby dry by wicking away moisture

Disadvantages

  • Bulky for small babies
  • Some parents didn’t like the suede and would have preferred fleece
  • Some reviewers reported that the semi-attached inserts moved around too much and didn’t stay in the center, where they were needed.

BumGenius Elemental

Overview

  • One-size diaper (fits 7 – 35 lbs)
  • Snap closures
  • Stretchy tabs to help get a good fit
  • $24.95

Advantages

  • Many reviewers touted this as the most absorbent all-in-one they had used.
  • Easy to use
  • Fits larger babies well
  • Organic

Disadvantages

  • The diaper can be a bit bulky for overnight, since it’s not actually absorbent enough to make it overnight without leaks unless you add doublers or hemp inserts.
  • Long dry times of up to 2-3 days outdoors or 3 cycles in a dryer (as is common with AIO cloth diapers)
  • tend to stain very easily
  • can be difficult to clean solid waste out of as there are several layers inside the diaper and if more liquidy solids make their way in, it can be difficult to clean it out from between the layers.
  • is very bulky on smaller babies (12lbs and under)
  • Some reviewers found that they still needed to use an insert to keep the wetness away from baby’s skin.

Thirsties Duo

Overview

  • Elastic around the leg and waist
  • Snap or aplix closure
  • Two sizes
  • “Sleeve” opening to add inserts for overnight or heavy wetters
  • $15.75
Advantages
  • The absorbency is adjustable with the “sleeve” opening to add inserts, so it is less bulky
  • Easy to wash
  • Dry quickly for AIOs
Disadvantages
  • Some reviewers found that the sizing didn’t work for their baby (others said that with the aplix closure, the fit was better)
  • Stain easily

GrowVia All in One

Overview

  • One size
  • Stretchy tabs for a better fit
  • Snap in insert for heavier wetters or overnight use
  • $22.95
Advantages
  • Less bulky than some other AIOs
  • Fits well for skinny babies
  • Soft
Disadvantages
  • Some reviewers reported that these diapers wore out quickly
  • Stains easily
  • Some reviewers reported leaking problems, especially with chunkier babies
  • Some reviewers found that these didn’t fit chunkier babies very well
  • Some reviewers found the side snaps hard to fasten.

Itti Bitti d’Lish All In One

Overview

  • 3 sizes: Small (8-16 lbs), Medium (14-26 lbs), and large (23-37 lbs)
  • Snap closures
  • Snap in bamboo inserts, as needed
  • $18.97

Advantages

  • Trim fit (may run a bit small)
  • Absorbent
  • Soft

Disadvantages

  • Some reviewers found that the minky fabric wicked urine, resulting in leaks and dampness
  • Long dry time
  • These don’t have an aplix closure option, so sizing can be more difficult

Swaddle Bees Simplex

Overview

  • Can be used as in all-in-one or pocket diaper
  • Stretchy snap tabs
  • Openings on both sides of the pocket for easy addition of inserts, and to allow the inserts to come out in the wash
  • Sizes small (8-16 lbs), medium (12-25 lbs), and large (22-35 lbs)
  • $17.95

Advantages

  • Trim
  • Easier to clean than microfiber

Disadvantages

  • Some reviewers found that the 100% cotton interior was not absorbent enough, resulting in leaks
  • Inserts are necessary for overnight or heavy wetters and can make the diaper bulky
  • Some reviewers felt that this wasn’t really a AIO, since it needed to be stuffed to have sufficient absorbency
  • Not as soft as some other AIOs

Ones & Twos

Overview

  • One size
  • Built in microfiber soaker, with the option to add an additional soaker for extra absorbency
  • Aplix closure
  • $16.95

Advantages

  • Slim fit
  • Soft

Disadvantages

  • Leaks were a pretty common complaint, even with additional soakers

There certainly are a lot of opinions out there about cloth diapers. Personally, the expense of the all-in-ones is a bit of a turn off for me. I would like to be able to just wash the inserts each time and wash the covers whenever I need to. But, I won’t be passing judgment on any of the diapers until I have reviewed all of my options. :)

Learn the Lingo Episode 2: Cloth Diapers

5 May

First, let me say that I am amazingly blessed to have a wonderful husband who is actually on board with the idea of cloth diapering. (Especially since he is the one who works from home and will be handling the bulk of those cloth diaper changes.)

Second, let me say that I was surprised to find that not only do I know absolutely nothing about cloth diapers, but I can’t even understand cloth diapering forums to learn more! Seriously, here is a no-joke actual posting from a cloth diaper forum:

Um . . . what? OS? Wicking? FB? Aplix? PUL?

So, as with my health insurance quest, I found myself in need of learning another new language – cloth diaperese. Here is my easy-to-understand, illustrated cloth diaper dictionary!

AI2 – all-in-two. This means that there are two parts to your diaper: an absorbent layer and the waterproof cover.

AIO – all-in-one. This means that your cloth diapers are in one piece and don’t require anything else (like inserts) to work. You just put them on the baby and – bam! – you’re cloth diapering. Compare to AI2 and pocket diapers.

Aplix – this is like velcro, but softer. This is used in cloth diapering to keep diapers closed. It’s important that it isn’t actually velcro because the softer material wont’ bother a baby’s skin if it happens to rub against it. This also may be called a hook and loop closure.

CD – no, not compact disk! Cloth diaper or cloth diapering. Example: I am a CDing mom. See, that doesn’t make much sense with “compact disk”! :P

Contoured diapers – this term applies to the absorbent part of a cloth diaper when it is sold separately from the cover. It is in a shape that is designed to fit around a baby’s body. Countered diapers usually require a cover and the use of fasteners (in the old days, safety pins, in more modern times snappies).

Diaper cover – diaper covers are a waterproof layer that goes on over prefolds, contoured diapers, and flat diapers.

Doubler – this is an additional insert or liner that you can put into a cloth diaper to increase absorbency. These can be very helpful for babies who are heavy wetters or for overnight use.

DSQ – Diaper Service Quality. This term is usually used to refer to prefolds or flats that are of higher quality. The idea is that diaper services put a lot of stress and wear and tear on their diapers, so they have to be of a higher quality than those designed for regular home use.

Fitted diaper – these are very similar to contoured diapers as they are shaped to fit a baby. They usually require a cover, but usually don’t require the use of closures (in the old days, safety pins, in more modern times snappies).

Flat – this is just a flat piece of absorbent fabric. It can be used inside a diaper cover to absorb wetness.

Hybrid diapers – these diapers are part cloth and part disposable. They usually can also be used as completely cloth, if you choose. The part that makes them part disposable is a disposable insert that catches solids (i.e. poop). Many inserts are flushable, so you can just flush it down the toilet so  you don’t have to have poop in your washing machine.

Insert – this goes into an all-in-two or pocket style diaper to absorb fluids. Inserts can be cloth or disposable.

Liners – these are disposable pieces of material that are used to collect solids from a cloth diaper. They are usually flushable and typically used with hybrid diapers.

OS – One Size. Cloth diapers can either come in sizes (usually extra small, small, medium, and large) or they come in a single size that can be expanded as the baby grows. This expansion is usually accomplished by a set of snaps on the front of the diaper.

Pocket diaper – with pocket diapers, there is a pocket that you tuck inserts into. The diaper itself will have an outer layer, which is waterproof and an inner layer which is soft and will actually be against the baby’s skin. In between these two layers, there is a pocket where the insert is placed.

Pre-folds – these are similar to flats, but they already have a thick middle layer attached. They require the use of a diaper cover and some sort of fastener.

PUL – polyurthane laminate. This is the waterproof outer layer on many cloth diapers.

Sized or Perfect Size diapers- these diapers  come in sizes, typically extra small, small, medium, and large. Compare to OS (one size).

Snappi – This is the modern day safety pin – only much better. It is used to hold diapers like pre-folds and flats closed.

Soaker – this is the absorbent layer in a diaper. The term can be used to refer to the part already in a diaper, like in all-in-ones, or can refer to an additional insert.

Stripping – (this is the one Paul has been waiting for!) sadly, this one does not involve any slow-motion removal of clothing. Instead, it refers to the considerably less sexy removal of build-up from diapers. Each diaper manufacturer has their own recommendations about the appropriate way to strip their diapers.

Wicking – this means that the diaper isn’t absorbing liquids (i.e. baby pee) properly any more. As a result the liquids leak out of the diaper at the legs and waist. This problem can be caused by a build-up of things like diaper rash cream on your cloth diapers. The fix? See “Stripping”. (Oh yes, I am sure Paul loves that solution . . . So if you want to convince your husband to cloth diaper, just let him know it involves stripping!)

Most of the other abbreviations out there refer to actual brands of diapers, which will be covered in later posts. (That’s already a lot for one day!)

The Fresh Market Fetish

1 May

From our bountiful produce and high quality meats to our convenient prepared foods and gourmet cooking ingredients, you will find that we are commited to variety, freshness and, above all else, quality. The careful selection of our buyers ensures that only the best can be found at The Fresh Market.

Sounds good, right? Add to that the fact that everyone’s doing it . . . and I had to experience the Fresh Market fetish for myself. I went and bought one week’s worth of groceries. Now, I’ve eaten most of those groceries and have had a chance to reflect on my experience.

Initially, I expected that everything would be overpriced. Things were more expensive, for sure, but only some things were overpriced. I discovered that there are things that are totally worth buying and things that really aren’t worth the bigger price tag.

Totally worth buying:

  • fresh fruits – oh my god. Deliciousness. I bought apples, pears, mangoes, and oranges. The oranges were so-so, but everything else was amazing – crunchy, juicy apples, soft, juicy pears, and firm, juicy mangoes. Notice a pattern? Sometimes when I shop at my normal grocery store, the fruits taste like they were not quite ripe. The only time the pears are soft is when they’ve gone bad. The Fresh Market fruits had the taste and texture of perfectly ripe fruits (with the sole exception of the oranges . . . not sure what happened there).
  • Veggies that you’re going to eat raw – I bought broccoli and the taste was so much better than what I normally get from the grocery store!
  • Some specialty items – I bought Garden of Eaten (Paul loved the pun) blue corn tortilla chips and they were amazing! They were thick enough that they didn’t break off in dips, and perfectly salted. Paul loved the dried fruits and veggies, especially the Wasabi Explosion.
  • Fresh bakery items – we bought bagels and they were amazing!

Probably not worth buying:

  • Veggies that you are going to cook or combine with other things – I just didn’t see the quality difference here. I had lettuce and tomatoes on my sandwiches – they were nothing special. I used some spinach and tomatoes in chicken saagwala and I couldn’t tell the difference.
  • Most meats – not all of the meats there are organic, but I feel like you pay organic prices for them anyway. The only meat that we purchased that I would recommend paying extra for was the salmon.
  • Canned goods – the one excellent thing about their canned goods is that they have very low sodium content. However, you can pay less for low sodium canned goods at the regular grocery store.
  • Fruit juices – I am sure if you go the organic, fresh squeezed OJ you would notice a difference, but I just could not bring myself to pay $7.50 for a bottle of OJ.
  • Any items that are the same brand as what you would buy at the regular grocery store.
  • Cheeses

I noticed while I was shopping that most people were not filling up their carts like I was, but rather were purchasing only specific items. I think that I will adopt that method and only get what items I know are worth the extra price.

My Final Final

26 Apr

Today I submitted my final law school Final Exam. So I am almost, unofficially a law school graduate. I think I should feel more excited about it . . . but with three months of studying for the bar exam looming ahead of me, it’s hard to get excited. It’s almost like finishing one degree and starting right away on the other.

But, even though I’ll just be moving on to a different type of class, I still have to have a graduation party! I went prom dress shopping with my younger sister and looked at some dresses, but they were all not quite right (either in fit or in price tag). I was thinking about getting a new dress again today – and then I sat down and read a chapter in Breathe, which generally talks a lot about the importance of simplicity in our lives. This chapter was all about how we clutter our lives with so much unnecessary stuff that we just don’t need. I thought about that. Do I need a new dress? No, of course not. I certainly have plenty to pick from and won’t go nude if I don’t buy one. And what good will one do me? More clutter in the closet . . . and another item on the stuff I just don’t need list. So, Paul, you should thank Keri Kent for writing her book – it just save you on having to pay for a new graduation dress. :)

Simply,

Pregnancy Workouts – The Perfect Pregnancy Workout, Volume 2

3 Apr

Have you ever wondered what pregnancy workouts are like? As someone who is planning on having to do pregnancy workouts in the semi-near future, I was curious if the workouts were challenging or if pregnancy workouts are just super-easy, just-make-you-feel-like-you-did-something workouts.

I am fairly fit. My weekly routine is:

Monday: Cardio/strength training (30 minutes)

Tuesday: Yoga (30 – 45 minutes)

Wednesday: Cardio/strength training (30 minutes) – In the next few weeks, I am going to switch this workout over to a high intensity interval workout. Probably one by Jillian Michaels’ workouts.

Thursday: Yoga (30 minutes)

Friday: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 (37 minutes – yeah, I am counting those extra 7 minutes, because every minute of that workout kicks my butt)

So, as you can see, I don’t exercise for a long time each day, but I try to take time each day to workout and I try to challenge myself. I don’t want to stop being fit for the 9 months I’m pregnant, so I was curious if the pregnancy workouts out there would be challenging enough to keep up my current level of fitness. Now, I know that once I switch over to pregnancy workouts, I will have an extra 10lbs or so to lug around, so even easier workouts will be more difficult. However, I think that the workout would need to be at least moderately difficult now to translate to a good workout later.

So, in my quest for answers, I tried out my first pregnancy workout: The Perfect Pregnancy Workout, Volume 2. This is a yoga workout (since today was my yoga day) and lasts 35 minutes. The back panel has pictures of a fairly pregnant Sarah Steben doing poses like this:

and:

Yes, that’s right, the packaging for the workout shows a pregnant woman doing a handstand. I’ll admit, I was intimidated. I don’t think I could get my non-pregnant self into a handstand. And I’m sure my non-pregnant side planks are probably not that pretty. But, to my surprise, it was only a moderately difficult yoga practice. I can currently do most of the advanced poses without difficulty. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t experienced with yoga. There is no instruction on the poses or postures and the cuing is not so good. But, once you realize what she wants you to do, it’s actually a nice, moderate yoga practice that stretches the hips and hamstrings in a wonderful way. :)

 

 

 

 

PS – I’m pretty sure that my doing a pregnancy workout freaked Paul out a little.

Life Happens

27 Mar

It’s been over 3 months since I last posted. Why? Life, mostly. I went on a New Year’s Eve cruise with the family (I would wholeheartedly recommend New Years Eve cruises, by the way, but more on that later); I started my last semester of law school (which was supposed to be easy, but for some reason totally is not); we listed our house for sale and started looking for a new one (which is a story in itself); and on top of all that, I started to realize that we are actually planning on starting a family this year. In short, my life felt like it was going 45,297,529,867 miles an hour

I starting feeling overwhelmed and overworked, so I stopped writing.

As a result of all the craziness, I recently started reading a book called Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life. And that is what I have been making an effort to do: breathe. Take defined time to take breaks and rest and connect with God.

So, you might ask, how does adding one more thing to my plate by starting to blog again help me to breathe and slow down? Because this blog almost forces me to take time for myself and do things I enjoy. Shortly after I stopped blogging, I stopped baking. I stopped working on my photography. But, if I feel like I need to do those things because I need to blog about them, I will actually do them and I will actually take time for myself.

As a side note, I recently found a print from Fresh Worlds Market that perfectly expresses my new goal:

So, I’m back, smiling, breathing, and trying my best to go slowly (or at least slower).

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