Inspired to Organize: Joining 52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge

As this is the time of year we tend toward resolutions, I thought I would try for one of my own. Usually I am the type of person who has lots of plans for myself and within weeks I burn out. So the idea of tackling one project a week seemed attainable. Enter 52 Week to an Organized Home Challenge. Every Monday for the next 52 weeks I will receive and email challenging me to organize and area of my house. I know well I won’t complete all of these tasks. Partially because I don’t even have all the areas of the home this addresses (we live in small house) and we are expecting a baby in just 10 weeks. But sometimes it’s better to complete part of a great challenge like this than not to try at all. So stay tuned for news and hopefully pictures too about my attempt to organize my home because of and in spite of having a new baby coming in only 10 weeks.


Learning to cope with gestational diabetes

Two Fridays ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was devastated. This pregnancy has been stressful enough for me, just hoping that the baby will be OK and dealing with an ever demanding toddler at the same time. I felt completely blindsided by this development. After all, I’m young, healthy, I exercise and eat a balanced diet and I have no risk factors. Yet both the preliminary 1 hour screening and the 3 hour glucose challenge showed my blood sugar levels to be elevated. All I could imagine was the hassles associated with becoming high risk and having a medically invasive birth instead of the more natural experience I was hoping for.

First hurdle was the seeming lack of sympathy of the office staff at my OBGYN. I received the call with my test results on Friday afternoon while packing to leave for a weekend trip to visit family. I was informed that my results were too high and given the phone number to another office to call and set up an appointment with a staff “who would help me deal with my weight gain and dietary issues.” In the stress of the moment I wanted to blurt out to the nurse that I eat a healthy diet and are lower than typical for pregnancy weight gain and that I wasn’t overweight before I got pregnant either so why didn’t she just keep her opinions to herself. Of course I didn’t say this, and I had to remind myself that she was just doing test result call backs, she didn’t know me or even have my chart. As far as she was concerned that was the end of the phone call. I had to stop her and try to ask some questions. I got my actual test numbers and managed to get a basic explanation of what to expect from this new specialist, including an address. Apparently the office I was being referred to has a special gestational diabetes program that will help me learn to monitor my blood sugar and control my weight gain and blood sugar levels through diet and exercise. But you wouldn’t know it from what the nurse initially said. It seemed like an absolute nightmare. Who wants to get a diabetes diagnosis right before the holidays? Part of me wished the whole thing could have been delayed until January so I didn’t have to forgo all the delicious holiday treats I had been looking forward to all year.

Fortunately the nurse at the gestational diabetes program was much more helpful and encouraging and helped to calm some of my panic. She told me not to stress about my diet over the weekend and just try to make healthy choices. Of course being the type A person that I am, I did some research and immediately began slashing carbohydrates and sugar from my diet. I ate a lot of protein for the next few days and felt completely exhausted. I did allow myself one little dessert at the family Christmas cabin party and hoped that I wasn’t going to give birth to giant baby as a result.

After our trip, Tuesday morning I saw one of the midwives at my regular OBGYN office. She was very encouraging and basically told me that as long as my sugar levels remained normal with the help of diet and exercise that this was nothing more than a blip as far as my pregnancy was concerned. I found it hard to believe but I tried to absorb her optimism. The next day I met with the dietician and nurse practitioner at the gestational diabetes program and took a class on how to manage my condition. My wonderful husband was so sweet to attend the class with me so that he can help and support me with managing my diet and hopefully exercise with me sometimes as well. The class was informative but overwhelming. I discovered that while I did have to count my carbohydrates, I also needed to make sure I was getting a certain number each day, just distributed throughout the day. A low carb diet was not an option during pregnancy. This was good news since I wasn’t sure how I could deal with the constant protein and exhaustion I’d experienced the previous weekend for another three months. The dietician was very positive and encouraging. The nurse practitioner was nice enough but not as positive as I’d hoped. I was also informed that I would need three additional ultra-sounds to monitor the babies growth. I was less than pleased about this, given that faulty estimated birth weight based on ultrasound make the last few weeks of my first pregnancy unnecessarily stressful. (I was told I was giving birth to a 10 pound or more baby and should schedule and elective cesarean. Instead I opted to attempt a vaginal birth and delivered my 8 pound daughter with a 95th percentile head with no trouble).

After a week of managing my blood sugar and sticking with the diet plan (30-45 carbs at each meal plus three snacks) my blood sugar readings have been great. I have yet to have one elevated number. My morning fasting blood sugar has been especially good. I’m beginning to believe that my blood results were some kind of strange mistake, but either way I’m stuck with blood sugar testing for the duration of the pregnancy. Hopefully I will at least be able to relax and not worry too much about the baby growing too large or having any other related problems. I hate sticking my fingers four times a day. It hurts, but not the way I expected. It’s less like being stabbed with a needle and more like being flicked really hard with the sharp end of a staple. It leaves a strange stinging sensation that lasts for a good hour after the test. It is still annoying to have to have extra ultrasounds, calling my weekly numbers into the gestational diabetes program and having follow up appointments. But I’m managing. For the first time since the diagnosis I’m feeling hopeful that I may still get the birth experience I want.

Traveling with Cloth for the First Time

My daughter is two and half and we have never traveled exclusively with cloth diapers before. We’ve spent the night at my parents house during a home renovation and used and combination of cloth and disposables for a short trip for a family funeral. But for longer stretches we’ve always employed disposables, though also always with a diaper cover because I didn’t trust them not to leak. I’ve always hated this because it is an added expense for travelling. Fortunately we don’t travel more than a couple times a year, so I found the expense to be tolerable, but annoying. But in my heart, I wanted to use my cloth diapers, and buying disposables seemed like a waste.

First major barrier to using cloth was having a large enough stash. Even if I washed the night before we left I wasn’t always confident that we wouldn’t run out of diapers, especially when my daughter was small.

Second problem, my husband didn’t want to haul our whole diaper pail and we didn’t have a large enough wet bag that would hold in the smell of three or four days’ worth of diapers.

Third, I wasn’t sure if our diapers could go that long without washing.

But now that my daughter is partially potty trained and we decided to take the risk. I also finally decided to invest in a large enough wet bag, purchasing the size Large Bummis Fabulous Wet Bag which I’d had my eye on for quite sometime. Honestly, I wish I had bought it sooner. Yes, it was a larger upfront expense, but it would have paid for itself on what we would have saved not buying disposables for travel. I figured if it was a disaster we could run out and get some disposables. This year, for the first time, we also stayed in a hotel while visiting my husband’s family instead of in his mother’s home. This made me feel even better as we could leave the large wet bag in the bathroom at the hotel in case it didn’t hold in smells as well as we hoped. We packed diapers for nighttime and diapers for the car, using waterproof training pants during the day.

The whole experience was a surprising success. The only problem I had was making sure I had enough nighttime diapers for the trip, since I only have three nighttime diapers that work really well. My daughter actually did surprisingly well. The double stuffed pocket diaper she wore in the car was damp but not soaked, and we stopped three or four times to use the bathroom while en route, most of the time at her request. We went out to lunch and had a family dinner on Saturday followed by an all day Christmas party on Sunday. She didn’t have one accident. Now perhaps my good luck traveling with cloth was related to her wonderful potty training progress. But it still pleased me not to purchase disposables. Hopefully I can try the same technique next year with our new baby.

Did you find ways to cloth diaper when in the past you would have bought disposables? Share your experience.

Silent Night: Finding Peace in the Bustle of Christmas

In spite of my best efforts, this has become a much busier Christmas season than I intended. I got most of my shopping done early, but somehow the busyness still crept in. All of last week was spent preparing to travel to visit my husband’s family the weekend before Christmas. We returned Monday night to a flurry of activity including shipping last minute Ebay sales, work Christmas parties and multiple doctor’s appointments. My recent diagnosis of gestational diabetes (which I’ll be writing more about next week), meant taking classes, running to the pharmacy for supplies, shopping at the grocery store for special foods, and time spent learning the routine of eating, exercise and checking blood sugar. I feel like I’ve been running on all cylinders for weeks. But this coming week between Christmas and New Year’s my husband is taking vacation from work. Other than wrapping a few presents and contributing a few food items to Christmas dinner, all the obligations are completed. So, somehow I want this Christmas Eve to be restful; spending quality time with my family, attending the Christmas Eve service at our church, time spent in reflection about the deeper meaning of this significant time.

The tasks and chores have been completed and all that’s left to do is sit in the light of the Christmas tree cuddled up with my husband and daughter thinking about how blessed we’ve been over the last year and dreaming about what next year’s Christmas may hold for us.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a peaceful, silent night.

How Making Time To Read Has Changed My Life

I have always loved to read. But with the busyness of life I haven’t always made the time. On the few occasions when my husband and I would splurge on a few months of Netflix it became a marathon of TV watching, trying to get as much watched in the few months we could afford. But in the last year, since my husband has started working on his novel, he favors going to bed early to read for a while. This is something I have always loved to do, but other than reading with a book light while getting up in the night to nurse my daughter, not something I’ve done in several years. As we began doing this most nights, I’ve noticed several positive changes.

First, I sleep better. While I won’t quote statistics, I have read in several different places that reading before bed does a better job of allowing the brain to wind down than watching television, especially in children. Also, the artificial lighting produced by TV has a stimulating affect on brains functions. So while you might fall asleep watching TV, you probably won’t sleep as well. I will say this has definitely been the case for me. Even if I only read for fifteen minutes, I feel much better heading for bed while I’m still awake but getting sleepy. The routine of getting ready and curling up with a good book helps me settle down and sleep better with fewer incidents of insomnia than when I fall asleep in front of the TV or go straight from playing a computer game to bed.

I’ve also rediscovered how much I love reading. I have always loved reading for pleasure since I was a child. I was the kid who would stay up late reading just for fun or occasionally stay up all night to finish a book that was too exciting to put down. But I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, mostly because of other things getting in the way. I’ve begun reading new authors. I have several favorite authors whose books I reread every year, (Rosamunde Pilcher, Lawana Blackwell, Stephanie Grace Whitson) but I’ve been reluctant to invest my time (of which I have little) and energy (of which I have even less), in trying a new author only to regret it. But since my husband is reading almost every night, I’ve begun making monthly trips to the library to borrow stack of books by authors like Robin Pilcher, Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark.

Stephen King says that to be a good writer you must also be a proficient reader. This tip comes from his book On Writing, which I highly recommend. I have found consistently that reading improves both my writing ability and my motivation to write. I especially found The Jane Austen Book Club and The Last Time I Saw You helpful since they are structurally similar to my own novel I’m writing. My husband has found this to be the case as well. Since he is working on a fantasy novel he spends a great deal of time reading fantasy books both for education and research.

Do you enjoy reading? Have you ever tried it as a method of improving sleep quality?

Conquering the Leaks: Toddler Nighttime Diapering

Last summer we were faced with a cloth diaper problem that we’d never been unable to solve before: night time leaking. My daughter has used bumGenius 3.0 (and now 4.0) pocket diapers almost exclusively since 3 months old for her nighttime diapering. (We did use fitted diapers a lot during the first couple of months because our stash of pocket diapers was still quite small and we were changing her multiple times a night). When we had leaks it usually meant we had to add another insert or adjust the sizing. But suddenly around age 2, we found that three inserts and the maximum diaper rise still resulted in leaks almost every night. This was incredibly frustrating.

While we could hope that potty training would come soon, we knew that nighttime dryness was probably still six or more months away. So I started reading up on night time diapering. Many of my cloth diaper friends resorted to disposables at this stage, something I was reluctant to do. This could last another year or more and that was a lot of disposables to keep buying. First I looked into hemp inserts. As it happened, I actually had a few that came with my Thirsties Duo Diapers. Let me just say, I love these diapers in theory but they weren’t a good fit for my daughter. But I tried using the hemp portion of the insert along with two full size bumGenius inserts. This definitely led to fewer leaks, but it left gaps large in the legs or her diapers since they were so bulky which sometimes still resulted in leaks. I was also pleased to find that the hemp inserts didn’t develop that terrible odor as quickly as her microfiber night time inserts. (I’ve also since concluded that toddler pee just smells awful. It’s worse in the morning because it’s been absorbing and sitting all night, so yeah, build up and smell issues will probably happen with almost anything but disposables.)

Around this time the new Thirsties Duo Fitted diapers came out. As a lover of almost all Thirsties products, I was ecstatic but of course I couldn’t justify buying more diapers since my stash is ample. Until I read a review where a few moms said that using a hemp insert in the stuffable pouch of the Duo Fitted diapers plus a Thristies cover was the only night time leak proof protection they could find. So I took the plunge and ordered 6 Thirsties Duo Fitted diapers on sale; buy 5 get 1 free. I ordered three in Size 2 and three in Size 1 for the new baby coming next year. (I still love a fitted and cover for holding in nighttime breast fed poops). The leak issue disappeared almost overnight.

Now I do wish I could afford more of these diapers. We usually have to resort to at least one night of a double stuffed pocket diaper while I wash the other diapers. I have also discovered that they need periodic stripping because of the beating my daughter’s nighttime urine gives them. She never gets a rash, but eventually the ammonia smell of her morning diaper change is staggering. (I’ve taken to holding my breath anyway since my sensitive pregnancy tummy doesn’t do so well with diaper smells). The two layers also discourages my daughter from taking off her diaper. The only problem we have with leaks now is when her pajama pants get tucked into the front of her diaper.

So for now, we’ve found a working solution. Hopefully she’ll dry out at night before she outgrows these diapers otherwise I’m not sure what we’ll do next.

Have you had trouble with using cloth diapers at night? Did you find a solution that worked for you? Share with us.

Confessions of a Real Mom

Sometimes I just want a vacation from being a mom. That is a sentence I never thought I would say just two years ago. I yearned for a child for the first five years of our marriage, and couldn’t wait to be a stay at home mom. While I found it somewhat isolating, I enjoyed most of the first year. I was breastfeeding around the clock and my daughter rarely slept, but at least I could meet her needs with relative ease. But when she began the road to toddlerdome I realized that I was in over my head.

Near constant whining, food and clothing preferences; some how I didn’t seem to have the emotional coping mechanisms to deal with these. Now, I could blame it on my pregnancy or the emotional turmoil of recovering from a miscarriage. But in usual form, I began to blame myself and think I was a “bad mommy.” You know that little voice we all have from time to time that tells us we are bad mommies because we (Fill in the blank). We feel guilty for letting our kids watch too much TV, not feeding them enough healthy foods, etc. We allow ourselves to feel inadequate when we read articles and blog posts about women who seem to be able to do it all; home school, organic meals, constant healthy mental stimulation.  There’s nothing wrong with moms who do these things, and also nothing wrong with wanting to provide these things for your own children. But sometimes you have to cut yourself some slack. It’s ok not to love every moment of mothering. There I said it. There are times when I wish that being a mom was a job I could take a day off from. But it’s not. There are always things to do and a little person demanding my attention.

I try to tell myself that perhaps it will get easier as she gets older but my guess is that parenting, particularly stay-at-home parenting, is always difficult. How it’s difficult simply changes. So for now I focus are getting through the tough days one hour at a time, knowing that tomorrow could be completely different (or more of the same). I try to remind myself of how grateful I am for my daughter and try to fully enjoy the wonderful moments.