Thursday, 31 January 2008

ombliboo tombliboo

Mia's wearing velour bottoms right now, and it just occurred to me that she looks a lot like one of these:

Photobucket Tombliboo!


adventures in clothland

My trial pack arrived! Wooooooo! It's been great fun trying out all the nappies, and yes - that does mean that I need to get a life. I do think that nappy hire schemes are a great idea, though. I think it's an excellent way to get your head round the multitude of cloth nappies out there without spending a small fortune.
Some things that have surprised me:
-they're pretty easy to use. The all-in-ones are a no-brainer, and the two-folds aren't much more complicated. I'm leaning more towards the Aplix (Velco) fasteners because the poppers are fiddly for my crippled hands and the Nappi Nippas are hard to get used to. But I'll keep trying.
-there isn't much more laundry than usual. Let's face it. I do an insane amount of laundry now that we have two kids, so a few extra bits of cloth isn't making any difference.
-the "washing nappies means using much more electricity and detergents" argument isn't really applicable. You only use 1/2 the normal amount of laundry detergent when you wash nappies and you don't use fabric softener (it coats the fibers and makes them less absorbent.) It's better to air dry them, or you can toss them in the dryer on low for 10 minutes to keep them soft. I put some vinegar in for the rinse cycle to help keep them soft and it worked really well. I only had white wine vinegar in the house so I did a posh wash. Tomorrow: nappy washing with a balsamic reduction. I'm kidding.
-they aren't leaking all over the place. In fact, the only leak I had was when I put her in a disposable on Tuesday night. That'll learn me.
-I'm not changing Mia any more often than I did with disposables.

This is partially for my own benefit and for anyone else wondering about switching to cloth, but here are my thoughts so far on the ones we've tried.

Motherease These Motherease nappies are Canadian! CANADIAN! They are a two-part nappy, but they cleverly use poppers to attach the booster. This means the booster doesn't slide around or go wonky when you attempt to get your wriggling baby into the nappy. They are easily adjustable and rise up quite far in the back, which should help contain those lovely poo explosions. I'm also trying the Motherease wraps, which work really well over bulkier nappies. They dry very quickly out of the machine and the wrap stood up to the "overnight with a pee happy baby" test.

Fuzzi Bunz How can you not love the name Fuzzi Bunz? Go on, say it and try not to giggle! Okay fine, say it ten times after you've had a pint of vodka, THEN I bet you'll find it hilarious. These nappies are incredibly easy to use - slap 'em on like a disposable. My only concern is that when the nappy leaks, you need to change the whole thing because it's an all-in-one. With the two-parters, you just remove the nappy and wipe down the inside of the wrap to reuse it (if it's wet only.) I also wonder if they're good for overnight even with a booster as they don't seem thick enough to absorb for 12 hours. They are very cute and they dry very quickly after a wash.

Tots Bots No, she's not wearing a terrytowel cuddly toy on her bum, it's a Tots Bots nappy. They are snuggly and adorable and Scottish, so kudos to nappies that don't rack up a lot of air miles. They are super absorbent, which isn't surprising when you notice how thick they are. It worked extremely well overnight and lasted the full 12 hours (look, if YOU want to wake my baby by changing her and then spend ages trying to settle her, go for it.) My only complaint is that they're huge and take a while to air dry indoors. I've asked Babykind to send me the Tots Bots Bamboozles which are made from bamboo ("Ouch!" I hear you say) and are supposed to be thinner and more absorbent than cotton. I am loving the Tots Bots fleece liners - very soft, you don't need to buy paper liners if you use these, and they were dry by the end of the spin cycle.

My bum DOES look big! Better do some leg lifts. And finally, Bambino Mio courtesy of Caroline. I really like these because the wraps can be wiped and the velcro makes them very easy to do up and adjust. The only thing I might do is add extra boosters to these because the nappy is really just a thick muslin with a paper liner, and I think they need a bit of oomph for a heavy wetter like Mia.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

if you want to sing out, sing out

This video made me raise an eyebrow during the first ten seconds, but then I was reduced to tears whilst clutching my (thoroughly confused) baby by the end of it. I don't know why it moves me so much, especially considering how I'm not religious at all. I think it's just such a lovely moment. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

fill in the blank

I think Jack has recently learned a few sentences without really understanding what they mean. He keeps saying things that you would normally use to open a conversation and generally require some sort of conclusion.

For example:
"I want to ask you something."
"I have an idea."

Followed by either something completely off tangent (e.g. "I played on the slide today!") or he runs away. Maybe he just likes being enigmatic.

The other new development is the fib. Nothing too dramatic, but he's definitely getting more clever. Yesterday, Mia was playing happily on the floor while Jack stood next to her drinking his juice. He shoved her with his foot and shouted out "She's trying to take my juice!!" (which would have been quite impressive, but I digress.) Later on, I left the room briefly and Mia started crying. I asked Jack what happened and he offered the following explanation: "It's not my fault because...because...she was HITTING me! And she always tries to hit me and she should say sorry to me! It's not my fault!" And finally (yes, this all happened in one day) he snatched one of his toys away from Mia. When I explained to him that he needs to share and to give the toy back he said "It's too sharp for Mia - it's dangerous!" And of course he has already blamed Mia for something he did, which was funny for two reasons: 1) he wasn't even in trouble at the time (Paul just asked him what he'd done with his stickers) and 2) Mia was upstairs sleeping at the time.

Yerrrrrs. I knew the love fest was too good to last.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

i'm so easily amused

I'm so excited! I got some great advice from both The Nappy Lady and an advisor at Babykind, and of course I also received all kinds of great mummy advice after my last post (thank you!) I decided to hire a variety of nappies from Babykind based on all of this advice. It's such a fantastic concept - the hire fee will be deducted from the total cost of any nappies I decide to buy, so the hire is essentially free.

This week, a nice lady in Devon will be sending me:
2 x Tots Bots original applix fastening
2 x Tots Bots original nippa fastening
2 x Bumbles popper fastening
2 x Bumbles nippa fastening
2 x Motherease One Size
2 x Fuzzi Bunz

She advised that I try both the applix and Nappy Nippa fasteners to see how I get on with both. I will also get free boosters, liners, and a bag to hold dirty nappies. Whee!

Of course this does mean that if I do go the cloth nappy route, I will need to buy more clothes for Mia because the 3-6 month bodysuits, trousers, and sleepsuits definitely won't fit. Darn. What a shame. *cough*

Friday, 25 January 2008

foody friday covered in catch-up

Before I forget (again), I would like to divert your attention to Helen's newest blog, The Sacred Art of Eating. It's a project she started at the beginning of the year, in which she cooks every recipe from the "Nigella Express" cookbook (amongst other things.) I've got a bit of a bugbear with this book, so I'm really curious to see how certain recipes turn out for her. I love this sort of thing. It's one thing to flip through a cookbook yourself, but it's quite another to see how people interpret the recipes and how the dishes turn out. So if you're one of the ten kajillion people who got Nigella's book this Christmas, cook along with Helen!

Along with my new found love of breakfast tacos (three mornings running now), I've been delving into other American classics this week. This must be a sign that I'm getting a wee bit homesick, come to think of it. (Note to self: ask mom to send more Kraft Dinner.) First up, chocolate chip cookies from Allrecipes. It's a fairly standard recipe and it worked really well. I used butter instead of "butter flavoured shortening" (just the thought makes me slightly queasy) and as with most American recipes, I find you need to avoid using fan-assist if you're using an electric oven (or if you are, you need to turn the temperature down.) Whenever I do any type of cookies, I always cook them for the minimum time given and check the first batch often until you get the timing right for the next one. For chewy cookies, they should be slightly brown on the edges but still quite pale in the middle. I have almost two dozen cookies at the moment, but you need to hurry if you want one.

Next up is chilli, with the added bonus of being made with leftover slow cooked brisket*. Now before all you Texans send me a bunch of huffy comments, I didn't make an authentic Texan chilli; it had kidney beans and a tomato sauce base. Sorry, but that's what us backwards Canadians grew up with.

Finally, it's macaroni and cheese day today. The excuse being that I'm making this for my little boy who's mad for it, but I may have to try some of it to make sure it's palatable. I'm making this easy stove top macaroni and cheese from Alton Brown, although I tend to go for the baked variety. As a side note, I'm still giggling at the fact that there's a recipe for deep fried macaroni and cheese on that site. Oh you wacky Americans!

And for supper tonight? No clue whatsoever. But tomorrow night, the girls go to Restaurant 22 and get driven around by a fireman. True story!

*Slow cooked brisket to serve 4 hungry people: In a large oven-proof casserole, saute some celery, onion, garlic, and carrot in a little olive oil until tender, then throw in some fresh sage leaves and about 3/4 of a bottle of robust red wine. Reduce a little then stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Place approx. 1 1/2 kg of brisket in the pot. Make sure the meat is almost covered - if it needs more liquid, add a little water or beef stock. Season, and put in a 150C oven for a minimum of 4 hours, or until the meat is falling apart when you put a knife in it. Put the meat on a plate to rest, and strain the remaining sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil until it reduces a little, and check for seasoning. If it needs it, you can thicken it slightly with a bit of diluted cornflour. Serve with veggies (I love sauteed cavolo nero with this) and creamy mashed potatoes.

If you don't have a casserole, you can use a heavy-based stockpot sealed with a layer of heavy duty clingfilm and thick tinfoil. The clingfilm is essential in keeping the meat moist.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

ay carumba!

As much as this nation loves to diss America and her inhabitants, I salute her culinary treats. In my opinion, no one does a burger, cheesecake, hotdog, or diner breakfast better than the (North) Americans. I also have to admire their ability to adapt dishes and make it their own, which I suppose is not surprising for a young country made up of so many different cultures. Few dishes are indigenous; most are interpretations of foods brought over by ancestors.

Which brings me to today. I recently came across the concept of a "breakfast taco" (a "taco" being a soft tortilla, as it's called in Mexican cuisine) and thought I'd give it a go this morning. You can fill it with whatever you want, though it seems to be most commonly filled with egg, potato, bacon, and topped with salsa and/or hot sauce.

Veggies for the filling I fried off some back bacon (which is what we usually eat for breakfast here, as opposed to American "streaky" thin bacon), removed it, and in the same pan I sauteed some parboiled cubes of new potato, red pepper, and spring onion (scallions/green onion.) I would suggest that if you're using streaky bacon you drain off the fat before sauteing the vegetables.
Meanwhile, I scrambled an egg and heated a wholewheat tortilla over the flame on the gas stove top. By the way, my top tip: don't wander away from the stove when you're heating the tortilla over the flame to make a cup of tea. The tortilla will turn an interesting colour then burst into flames, which is not really what you're going for. I filled the tortilla with the egg and mixture from the frying pan, and sat down to eat.

It was delicious in a "this should taste like student food/hangover food, but it's quite nice" kind of way. I do think that it needs some sort of sauce to prevent a dry texture as you're eating it, so I'll top it with salsa next time. I also think this would work well with cream cheese, guacamole (or mashed avocado), or sour cream spread on the tortilla before filling. A "Spanish" take on this with a chorizo, potato, and egg filling would be great, topped with a tomato-based sauce.

Thank you, America. I was running out of breakfast ideas, and you came to my rescue. While you're at it, please send me a Denny's.

Breakfast taco

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

chomp, and i descend further into hippydom

Breaking news! Mia has just cut her first tooth! Whoop whoop whoop! (lower left, in case you're wondering)

So on to the reason why I came here. Cloth nappies: HELP! (Yeah, I know that I've already polluted the earth with Jack's 2 1/2 years of nappies and Mia's 7 months. I'm a bit slow, bear with me.) Advice and opinions would be greatly appreciated. Honestly, picking a nappy to use is as confusing as picking our first pushchair before Jack was born. Disposables were easy - Pampers sends us a free nappy, we try it and it works well, we stick with it. Hurrah. Cloth nappies are making my head spin. There are so many to choose from, so many different styles, and trial packs are pricey. My lovely friend Caroline is lending me some Bambino Mio nappies to try out, which is fantastic. I also found a site where you can "hire" various brands of cloth nappies to try before you buy. But still, confusion reigns.

Here are my thoughts/concerns:
-I keep reading that you need to change cloth nappies every 2-4 hours. That's an exaggeration, right? RIGHT?
-Is there any advantage to using "all in one" nappies (e.g. Kushies) vs. layered nappies (e.g. Bambino Mio)? Disadvantages?
-Are cloth nappies more prone to leaks?
-How many do I need?

Please feel free to add advice or recommendations in the comments area. I've done quite a lot of online research, but I always find that the best advice comes from mummy friends! Thank you. xx

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Hello. I'm cute. Hand over all your money.

Just a quickie with a bit o' this and that. With a touch of wotnot.

Mia slept in her room for the very first time last night, which was truly bittersweet for me. It was nice to have our bedroom back (and enjoy rolling over in bed without dislocating my kneecap on the corner of the co-sleeper), but it was strange to not have Mia next to me. I realised that the last time I had nothing next to my side of the bed, I was in labour. I missed her smiling face and kicky feet first thing this morning, but it's better for her to have more space to roll around. She was just starting to outgrow the co-sleeper so it was time for her to move. *sigh*

We're still doing baby led weaning, despite the fact that Mia isn't at all keen on actually eating. As an experiment, I put some yoghurt on a spoon (and gave her the spoon so she could feed herself), but she still gagged, shuddered, and spat it back up again. So it's not a texture thing - she's simply not ready to eat yet. It's so odd because Jack took to solids right away and gobbled down anything within reach.

Speaking of Jack, the other day he informed me that it was time for Buttons (little chocolates shaped, unsurprisingly, like buttons.) "Is it?" I asked. "Yes. [looking at his wrist where a watch would be] It's 6 o'clock and it's time for Buttons." Ah, okay then. I think I have spawned a chocolate monster. At a birthday party last weekend, Jack pulled a chair up to the kitchen island, stood there and helped himself to bowls of chocolate that were used for decorating the birthday cake. He then devoured a big slice of chocolate cake, and later that evening told me "It's my happy birthday. I need some cake now." When I asked him what he wanted for breakfast the other day, he requested chocolate on toast. Which I could probably eat myself, come to think of it.

And finally, my favourite random Jackism from the holidays is: "Harry Potter's going to eat you all up!"

Sunday, 6 January 2008

my new year's resolution: get more sleep

Happy new year! Wooo, what a year it was. Mostly, it was marked by the lack of sleep and heartburn. And that enormous painful thing on my backside. Mmm yes. Of course there was a lot of good stuff, too. That whole producing a baby out of my hooha without a lot of fuss and damage thing was pretty damn great. The fact that the 6 month mark came and went and the breastfeeding didn't stop is a lovely moment for me, too.

Oh and getting out and having a great time with friends on new year's eve was a highlight of the year. We went to a friend's house for supper and general frivolity (adult conversation! Okay, so we spent most of it talking about our kids) while our kiddies "slept" upstairs. I say "slept" because until 10pm, there was a lot of giggling, furniture shuffling, and the sounds of "SHHHHH! DADDY SAYS WE HAVE TO SLEEP NOW!" drifting down the stairs. Jack had the time of his life; the only boy at the slumber party. He still talks about it to this day. Mia slept on her own, and amazingly, she actually did sleep. We enjoyed a lovely meal, too much cheesecake (my fault, sorry), and a lot of laughs. I definitely recommend the "bring your kids and chuck them upstairs so you can get out of the house for an evening" concept. We came home at 2am, the kids barely waking as they were bundled into the car and unbundled when we got home. Fabulous.

And now for some Christmas photos here.

and a video of Jack chucking a bottle of myrrh at the baby Jesus' head: