Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cloth Diapering and my homemade detergent!!!!

So we cloth diaper. Some people might think it's gross or a hassle, but for all the money we save, let me tell you, it is SO worth it! So here is how we do it, lots of pictures on this post and my homemade detergent and even a big foamy mess where my husband came to the rescue!!!

We also know what the on and off peak hours of our power company are. We wait for the off peak hours to wash the diapers and it saves even more money. We also wash all the dishes and clothes during the off peak hours. Our on peak hours are from 12pm-7pm. By using most of our electricity during off peak times we keep our power bill down. Contact your power company to find out what your peak hours are and save money!!

The diaper brand we use is bum genius. I am not advertising or getting paid to say that we use them, I just prefer how easy they are.

Where we put the diapers. It's outside on our back porch and stinkyness isn't an issue. We do use regular diapers overnight because our babies pee a TON for some reason at night so we put those there to go to the big trash can. My husband does that, I mean it's not a LONG walk to the big trash can but its all rocks and he's so nice to take them out for me.
Actually, he does most of the diaper stuff. I make the detergent and sometimes put them in the washer and I change the kids, but he cleans out the diaper pail and refills the wipes and lays the diapers out to dry after they are washed. You do not dry your diapers or cloth wipes in the dryer.
You can lay them on the floor with the fan on over night to dry them out, or if it's nice and sunny, lay them out in the sun, it bleaches out stains if there are any :)
We forgot to pull the diapers out last night and it wasn't super sunny so my husband laid them out to dry on the deck. I know this seems like a lot of work, but it's not that much more when you get a system and seriously the money you save is AMAZING!!!!

Here is where we store the diapers, I know, classy and hidden right?

Next to my hot pink shoes is the first style of diaper. It's stored in the brown bin, stuffed and ready to go, totally unsnapped because our kids are in what is a normal size 4 now.

These are the 2 sizes of inserts, they both come with one exterior diaper when you buy a diaper. So you don't have to buy all the inserts and shell separately, make sense? But they do need to be removed from the diaper before washing. (It's easy, you hold the clean part of the diaper exterior and shake the inserts into the bucket)

The larger insert comes with 2 snap options to make it smaller or one segment to be thicker for more absorbency

For our kids, we don't snap the insert. We stack them like so for maximum absorbency.

Here is the empty diaper shell with the inserts set up how we want it to be absorbent for our baby girl(lots of absorbency in the middle)

And here is how you stuff it, easy! Just grab the top and shove them in the hole and straighten out how you like.
Remember I was talking about shaking out the inserts into the pail? You want to grab that nice clean yellow part on the left side of the picture and hold it over the pail and shake and the inserts will fall our of the place where you stuffed them in! Easy and not gross or dirty.
Now, if your baby does poo, you just take the diaper to the toilet and tip the mess out before putting the diaper in a pail. It there is a blowout, which does happen, we tend to hose off the diapers outside and spray shout on the diaper so there aren't stains or residues.
Here is a regular full size diaper snapped up to fit a smaller kid and snapped on the side to show you how easy it is once you've done the diaper stuffing, its just like changing a normal diaper!
We choose to use cloth wipes because we can just throw those in with the diapers and it also saves a ton of money!
I buy the fabric at goodwill on their half off Saturday sales, its the kind of fleece that doesn't fray so you don't need to sew them, just cut up a cute cheapo blanket and you are set!
Recipe for wipes:
2 squirts of baby wash, 1/2 inch COLD water in wipes container, and about 2 teaspoons olive oil, mix it up in the container and take stacks of wipes and stick them in the solution, squeeze them, then do some more stacks until all the solution is absorbed. Then stack your wipes back up like Ken did here!
Ken also mentioned that he puts the wipes container into the dishwasher once a week to keep bacteria away!!!

This is the other style of diaper we have, stored in the blue bin 

Instead of stuffing this diaper, it has two inserts that are attached on one end each as seen here. The only problem with these is that lint gets into the opening of the insert flap and there have been a few times I thought it was poo. Never fear, Ken came to the rescue and it was only lint. Thank goodness!

This diaper is nice because it has seams that you can fold, as I have done here. I folded the first flap that will be in the front of the diaper in half then just pulled the other insert right over. This folding system is great because this is set for great absorbency for boys, or I could fold both flaps/wings/inserts whatever you want to call it in half and have maximum absorbency for girls.

It has the same snap system as the other kind. These diapers can go from newborn up to 35 lbs
 so they are great for our foster kids! especially because we mainly do babies!

Now, how to clean them!

Mix equal parts washing soda and borax in a container. We use an old Gatorade container.
I'm about to make another batch, I only have to do this maybe once every 3 months. And it makes this soooooo cheap!!( as in $5-10 dollars a year detergent. AWESOME!!!!)

You only need a tablespoon of the powder for each load.
Now for the wet ingredients, these go in an empty detergent container.
Now I just kind of eye this part because I've found it works just as well when you eye it as when you measure it. But you need Original Dawn blue Dish soap to strip diapers.
Stripping a diaper means that it's not as absorbent or a bit crusty, so you just wash all the diapers and inserts and squirt dawn original dish soap in for about 6 seconds. ( I know, I measure in squeezing seconds, I'm awesome like that)

This is the level that I put the special dawn soap in. I know sorry, not a real measurement, but that's how I role.
(Seriously I didn't follow the directions to the T in my organic chemistry class and I got the highest percentage of actual aspirin out of everyone else in the class who measured to the T, so there you have it. I had an 85% yield while most people got around 47%)
REAL rules for this recipe are:
For every 1 Liter container, use 3-4 tablespoons original dawn dish soap
1 tablespoon shout- I like the free and clear but I don't know if it really has less intense ingredients or not, I just know it works.
Then fill the rest of the liter container with water.
But I'm not using a liter container.... so I just guesstimated.
Maybe you can see a huge mess coming.... I did not:( 
Now I'm adding non concentrated soap. This is a bit of a new experiment because I haven't used this powerful special dawn but I'm excited, I think it will make a difference. Also I basically got it for free because I coupon.
Here is the level of both the dawn soaps.
Here's where I made a big mistake.
Ken said it would have been better to put water in first, instead of soap..... but that was when I yelled for help as I was watching a volcano of my awesome new soap explode all over the sink!
So here is Ken, using a slow water flow to not lose all my soap. He's a life saver. You should have seen the sink before he stepped in.....
And here is where I stopped the water level.
This is obviously highly concentrated soap, so you just use the lowest line for small to medium loads of diapers, and if you have a really big load, use the medium line.
Then put the tablespoon of powder solution inside the washer.
Wash the diapers in hot water on a double rinse in super heavy duty mode.
Here is how we store our chemicals since we are foster parents, and our laundry room locks.
And here is my Gatorade container full now with the tablespoon on top next to my newly mixed diaper solution. We also have regular detergent for normal clothes, but sometimes I will wash the kids clothes with the diaper combo and it seems to get rid of grease stains.
About once a month we wash our washer with hot water and bleach. Just to be safe and get rid of any odd smells that could creep in.
Full Recipe:
For a 1 liter bottle:
3-4 tablespoons ultra dawn dish soap, 1 tablespoon shout
For powder mixture:
equal parts borax and washing soda
To wash the diapers:
Take the pail and dump the diapers in the washer
 (make sure they are mixed around and not on one side of the washer or your washer will make a scary banging sound)
Put the dishwasher level one higher than what you have.
(example, if you have a small load, put it on medium water)
Put the settings on Super Hot
Add Second Rinse
Put setting on heavy doubly duty if you can
To dry:
Lay flat all diapers and cloth wipes on the ground with the fan on, or dry them outside in the sun on a line or on a table or something
To Strip the Diapers:
Use a 6 second squeeze of blue dawn dish soap with no other detergents or powders. Dry the same way.
Wipe Recipe:
1/4-1/2 inch water in your wipes container
2 squirts baby body wash
 2 or so teaspoons of olive oil
swirl around mixture, put small stacks of wipes in, squeeze out the excess and repeat until you have used all the solution, then put your mini stacks of wipes back in.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What is a real mom?

I am a foster mom. I hated mothers day this year because I had just had a miscarriage and I found out I could not have my own children. I was just a foster mom.

But I've asked myself, what is a real mom? I help take care of these children, I do habilitation to help them succeed in daily life and improve whatever their disability may be. I help make meals, do bath time, run errands for things they need, put them to bed, teach them right from wrong, sing to them, play, take them fun places....

And most of all, I love them.

That's what a real mom does. So I've decided to stop being hard on myself saying I'm not a real mom, JUST a foster mom.  I think fostering can be more difficult than being a mom to your own birth child. I'm not saying by any means that moms who have their own children don't have it hard, lets face it, all moms have it hard.

But for me, after I've done all these things to help grow and strengthen and love my foster children, they go back home to their real moms. And that is what is hard. But the entire goal of foster care is to help both the children and parents get to a better place in life, and then get to live as a family again.

So that's the more difficult part, letting them go. That's what makes being a foster mom hard. Ours aren't leaving our home anytime soon, but it's so hard to get so attached and know I can't keep them, and then I feel like I'm not a real mom.

BUT! that's not true, is it?! And I'm sure their are moms out there who feel like they aren't real moms because they aren't perfect at this or perfect at that, we all feel that way. Whether we are foster moms or are moms who have adopted or moms who have given birth! we are important, we matter.

I love this quote: She stretcheth out her hand to the poor, yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20

All women matter. We aren't JUST one thing or another, we aren't defined by our jobs or our titles, but who we are and how we approach life. So yes, I am a foster mom. The Children I have grown to love will leave me one day. But we will adopt, and I am more than JUST one thing.

 Heavenly Father has placed each and every one of us here for a specific purpose and reason, but I know that he has put us here for many purposes and reasons. As women we fill all kinds of roles, we add gentleness and kindness to the world. We can do anything we set our minds to. With the Savior at our side, we are unstoppable.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I bet you are all wondering.... what happened?

Well it was quite a bit of drama and stress. We went to see our normal OB and he kept contradicting himself, telling me not to have surgery but that he will do surgery anyway, he spent maybe 15 minutes with us, didn't care that my belly was so huge, and didn't even ask to touch it to see if I was just fat or it was really swelling.

Ken and I left the office very angry and confused. We had no idea what to do, no plan, and we were running out of time. My insurance expires on my birthday and we needed the surgery before then.

So I called EVERY OB in my insurance network (well maybe not every, but it felt like it) and picked the one who could get me in the fastest. His name is Dr Grabowski, and he is a Saint.

Quite Literally. A Saint.

We went to the appointment, and I told him I want a hysterectomy because I want to be cured of my horrible endometriosis. He said I'm sorry but I will not do that for you. I'm thinking "WHat?!" and it turns out I wasn't just thinking it, I said it. and I cried, and I was mad and probably not a very fun patient for him to see. Usually I am calm, straight to the point, but as my husband puts it, I flood the Dr with all of my information and then they work with me to come to a decision. Easy right?


He kept saying that because of the amount of swelling I have- which he went and actually touched and examined my belly( excellent sign of a good Dr)- and said that he believed my endometriosis has become extremely aggressive and is overgrowing. Turns out he is right, you can see some implants on my skin. This picture below is an implant growing under my skin on my chest. I have several more along my belly down to my thighs. Yep, my endo has gotten seriously out of hand.

So, this saintly Doctor who I will forever be grateful too explained over and over and over why having a hysterectomy at this tie was not a safe idea. He said maybe we will have to go there eventually, but right now, with the extent of the craziness of my endo, he does not have a team of specialists on standby to help if the endo has compromised (as in holy cow overgrown and covered) my bladder, my intestines, my lungs. He said that having the surgery might not even fix the problem because I am so young and I will still need a small amount of estrogen whether I take it naturally or do hormone replacement therapy, but he said " I believe it will grow back"

WHat?! It's going to grow back! And that's not all. He also said I have a high risk of dying or poor quality of life after this surgery, that it may cause more problems that the ones it is supposed to solve.  He kept telling me, "I do not want to hurt you or see you suffer more". (I know, total Saint right?) Over and over again he kept being kind and comforting me telling me he doesn't want my life to be worse. He wants me better.

Then he told me that since I am so young, there is a high risk of complications as mentioned above, infection bleeding out, and if he messed with the varicose veins they would just grow back larger in a different vein line because my body is demanding that blood flow. So of course I'm confused and angry because the last doctor didn't say any of these things, he was just going to do the surgery! I'm so glad we decided to hunt for a second opinion!

So I asked then why is my belly so huge. He said it's inflammation from the endometriosis on your organs, and surgery won't fix that, nothing will really fix it unless....

and here is where he brought in safer options. He said we could try a shot that some women use for birth control, but it is very effective in shrinking down the endometriosis and hopefully killing some of it off. The other option would be the Lupron shot which I have done before, but that caused severe bone pain and all kinds of weird symptoms so if this shot I'm on doesn't work and we can't find any other alternatives, we will try the Lupron again. It brought my endo from a stage 4 to a stage 1. So clearly it's effective.

So we decided the shot, but I told him I don't want to be in pain, I want this fixed, not a bandaid. And he agreed. He said I can only do so much, your case is complex and I can help with this safer option of the shot and I am going to send you to the best (and I'm pretty sure only) Pelvic pain specialist in Arizona. My OB said this man will know more, probably have more ideas on how to help and can really get me the relief I need.

I called the specialist for an appointment... they didn't have one until the end of November! so I called my OB back and he personally called and spoke to the specialist about my case and said you need to see her as soon as possible! Can you believe that?! This Man is AMAZING! After me freaking out and being mad and afraid and him spending an HOUR AND A HALF talking with me and my husband about options and safety and the reasons why and why not, he then goes and makes a personal call to get me into this amazing specialist!

He literally is a Saint. I am so grateful we went to him, and that he spent that long trying to help me understand the risks and face the fact that I might not get better from this, and that surgery might make things worse. It was so hard to deal with. I felt like I had lost my baby all over again and that there was no hope for getting rid of this stupid disease.

But he never made me feel there wasn't hope, it was just that my false idea that surgery would fix everything ( because it has for some women) was wrong. Because my body is not like most peoples bodies. I'm very young. There are more complications and concerns to deal with. And that was just crushing.

But we went home, prayed about it, I took a nap, my husband talked to me about the shot being the safest thing and it won't interfere with what the specialist does (our OB said it may even help him if the endo growth is calmed down). And then my awesome Daddy came and looked through the package insert online with me and explained all the risks, side effects, and safety of the drug.

My dad used to be a pharmaceutical rep so he knows so much about these things! And he said it is the safest option and would most likely be successful but if not, it's not going to hurt or make me really sick like the Lupron shot did. I might get fat, but he and the OB said that getting fat on this shot is a choice. It makes you think you are eating for 2 so you have to make a plan to not over eat and try and get some exercise and then I won't get fat. So that was nice, because other medicines I've taken to try and help have just made me swell or made me fat, its a side effect in fertility medicines and its a dumb one.

So after praying and thinking and sleeping on it, we decided to get the shot the next day. I was put in an emergency placement at the specialists (which doesn't feel like an emergency quick spot- Sept 17th) and then we will talk more about what to do.

Also my awesome OB prescribed a slow release naproxen which is an anti inflammatory. Taking that along with eating right portions and having protein shakes to keep the hunger away, I've actually lost 10 pounds. Now my belly looks like this.

It still hurts and I'm not better, but it's a start, a good, safe start. I'm so grateful for this amazing OB. I made him a special card to express how amazing he was and how grateful I was for his patience and compassion. I think he could clearly see as I was sobbing on the table that my hope of getting better soon was shattered and he needed to spend the extra time with me so I wasn't confused and I could be confident moving forward.

I also feel like I owe him my life. Can you imagine if we had let that other OB just do surgery without being told my case is complicated and I have higher risks than the average hysterectomy patient?

I've learned through all this that the Lord has a plan. It's clearly not my plan, but that's a good thing because my plan may have had me going to heaven too soon on an operating table by an OB who can't make up his mind. I truly believe that the Lord watches over us in ways we can't even understand. I do not believe it was just a coincidence that this OB had the closest opening. I am so grateful to be able to pray to our Father in Heaven and ask for guidance and direction and comfort. And I am so grateful for a wonderful husband who also prayed about it and then we came to the conclusion together that we should try the safest thing first.

Life is so hard. I know it's hard for everyone, but don't give up! Know you are special and there is a reason things happen. There is a loving Father in Heaven protecting and watching over you. Our Savior Jesus Christ is there to comfort us and walk our trials with us. He does not take them away, but he does not leave us alone. It feels to me as if I am walking along an endless beach with the Savior holding my hand, keeping me steady, guiding me around the rocks and tide pools, always a constant companion at my side. He's there for you too. All you have to do is reach out and ask.

So my life isn't perfect and I have pain. Ok. I can do this. And whatever difficulty you are facing, don't worry, you can do it. I wonder what new plans and opportunities are on the horizon, but I'm just curious like that. And I know that with the Lord leading me and the Savior at my side, it will be a wonderful adventure full of peace, despite any pain I may have to endure. It will all be worth it.