Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Diapering Challenges

I have been wanting for a long time to get back into cloth diapering.  I have so many cute reusable diapers.  I should not be throwing my money away on disposables.  

But I have been throwing that money away for a long time, because of all the chaos and turmoil in my life.  

What finally tipped the scales for me was the fact that...

You know what?   I'd better warn you that this post is going to talk about p o o a lot.  I know several of my readers who will want to stop right now.  Go ahead.  I'm not offended.  I will see you next post.  Love you!  Bye bye!

Okay.  For those who are still interested,  I was really sick of dealing with messy blowouts.  Cloth diapers rarely leak poo, but disposables do all the time.  When you have young twins you could be cleaning up messes and changing outfits multiple times a day.   And using a lot of Shout to hopefully, maybe get the stains out of all those adorable little outfits.

Cloth diapers do not leak poo, but they do leak pee.  If you do not change them often (every couple of hours) you will have a soggy-bottomed infant and you will need to change their outfit as well as their diaper.   When you are a busy mother of eight children and you have two infants, it is pretty common for more than a couple hours to go by between someone's diaper changes.  

Also many of my diapers are so old they are not fitting as well as they need to (worn elastic being the biggest culprit) and this can cause additional leaks.
So I have to change a lot of outfits. 

It's just pee, so no need for Shout, but it's still time-consuming.

One day after a week or so of cloth diapering, I was changing yet another outfit and I said to myself,  "are you insane?  Why are you doing this?   You have eight kids and you homeschool and you are trying to unpack and organize an entire household.   You should not be playing around with cloth diapers." 

So I put a disposable on whichever baby it was, and just a few minutes later she did her thing and the diaper leaked and there was poo everywhere (Huggies diaper, BTW.) 

And I yelled "arrrrrrgh!  I just can't win!"  And I went to get the Shout.  

And a cloth diaper. 

What I have decided to do for now is use disposables at night and when we go places like church.   I just use cloth at home during the day.  And I am only using cloth on the twins right now.  Prince Charming is in disposables.... I am not up for toilet scrubbing poo right now.  The twins are still exclusively breastfed, and all their diapers can be thrown directly into the washer... I am not sure how I will feel about this once they start eating other stuff and I have to take the time to scrub out their diapers in the toilet.   That kind of poo doesn't leak out of disposables as much, so maybe I will switch back at that point. 

I don't know though.  I get a little buzz every time I take a load of clean diapers out of the dryer, ready to be reused.  And the monetary savings could be significant with twins. 

I am wishing I had time to make some more diapers... I have a whole bunch of supplies, and I could sure use some replacements for some of my most-worn diapers. 

My sewing machine is out,  but so far all I have managed to do with it is sew some patches on my boys' scout uniforms.   I dream of happy hours hearing that lovely humming sound as I create amazing things...  if I do manage to get anything made, I promise I will post pictures!  

In the mean time, if I don't post much on here you will know it's because I am busy changing diapers. 

Tried and True

More than five years ago I began what has been the most successful thing I have ever done to get the kids to be helpful around the house: the Family Store. 

Whenever the kids do something helpful or kind or come when I call or whatever,  they earn a Badger Buck.  Once every week or two I open up the plastic storage tub in my closet that is the Family Store and they can spend their Badger Bucks on various treats.  (I have actual paper Badger Bucks but they don't get them until we open the store: I just keep tally marks in my planner to keep track of how many they have.  That way their bucks don't get lost or stolen by siblings.)

The Family Store has always worked when I have done it and been consistent about it.  There have been long stretches where we haven't done it at all, due to moves or pregnancy,  and there have been a couple of times where the Badger Bucks lost some motivating power because I would go too long without opening the Family Store.  

We started it back up again a couple weeks ago and I realized again how nice it is to be able to say "who wants a Badger Buck?" and then have a stampede of eager helpers, rather than my usual pleas of "will someone please come help me?" which are usually ignored. 

Finding items to put in the Family Store can be challenging.   At first I was determined to keep the treats healthy, so I stocked it with things like little boxes of raisins and little tubs of apple sauce.  I didn't want to buy cheap junky toys that would quickly end up in the garbage, so I would try to budget for some nicer stuff like Schleich plastic figures, but it was hard to keep that affordable.   So I have caved in and stocked the store with candy.  I went to Target the day after Easter and bought a ton of Easter candy, so the Family Store is currently chock full of sugar.  It also has other things: notebooks and rolls of Scotch tape are two popular items, as well as various craft supplies like chenille stems (formerly known as pipe cleaners.) 

I have found, though, that the kids don't really care too much what is in it.  They just love having Badger Bucks to spend and having their own little time in Mom's room to chose their stuff. 

I thought they might outgrow it eventually,  especially as they started earning real money,  but Bean still eagerly participates in both the earning and the spending of Badger Bucks.

One rule I have is that they can't ask for  Badger Bucks.  I don't want to constantly deal with them saying "do I get a Badger Buck for that?" or even just "what can I do to earn a Badger Buck?"  So they can't ask.  But I think I am pretty generous with the bucks-- I must be,  judging by how happy they all are with the system.   (Every week the older ones get  an average of 3 or 4 pieces of fun-sized chocolate or the equivalent.)

Right now I am most pleased with how Peanut is responding to the Badger Buck system.   Ever since we moved to Utah last September,  Peanut has been Awful.  Just ask my poor parents-in-law.   She has gone through a lot of difficult changes and it has really come out in her behavior.   It has been such a challenge to help her feel loved and like there is some stability in her life.  Badger Bucks are doing wonders for her.  She loves to do things to help me so she can earn a Badger Buck.  And she loves to shop at the Family Store.  I think she is thriving off of having something in her life she can control in a positive way.   I still have a long way to go with her but it is encouraging to see these changes.  

Long live the Family Store!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Night

If I don't start just writing random things about my day I am never going to write.  I keep planning insightful blog posts by theme but I just don't have time to write them.  But when I'm nursing I can get on my phone and just blab about my life.  I need to do that more often. 

The older kids are downstairs playing "Dutch Blitz," an awesome card game I picked up at a recent homeschool convention.   It is really fun and we all love it.  It was our activity for family home evening tonight. 

Family home evening actually went really well tonight.  No one was crazy and out-of-control and none of the kids fought.  It was weird.  Normally I am constantly telling people to stop leaping off the furniture and to leave each other alone.  So tonight was refreshing.  

Bean made cookies by himself today: peanut butter Nutella swirl cookies from the Six Sisters Stuff cookbook (my kids LOVE that book and pour over it often.)  He did a pretty decent job and they turned out great after the first sheet,which he overbaked.  Lately Bean likes to find recipes that interest him and make them.  Probably because he is always hungry.   The other night he made biscuits and they were pretty good.  I love to have him cooking.  I just have to train him to clean up after himself.  

I love cooking and it's so fun to teach the kids those skills.  My oldest three are all ready to learn to do a lot in the kitchen and I look forward to that.  Meals for a large family are much easier to put on when you have help. 

We like to eat dinner together in our formal dining room and the kids are learning to set the table.  Family meals are something that for years I have not been doing the way I really want to and that's one of the changes I am going to be working on during this next era of my life.  I love the ritual of all sitting down together at a pre-set table, having a prayer, then dishing up and eating.  The kids like it too and with their help we can do that more often instead of our usual mealtime free-for-all. 

I love this house!   It's been so fun getting settled bit by bit.  I still have a long ways to go but the inside is coming together.   Then I am going to need to get fired up about the yard because it needs some work.  At the moment I don't have a lot of motivation on that front but I am sure it will come.  Gardening is in my blood. 

I did mow some of the lawn today.  I actually love mowing the lawn.  And I love it that I can do it... six months ago I could barely walk to the bathroom.   Go me!

The twins roll over readily from back to front now.  They are so smiley and happy and fun and someone around here is usually cooing over them at any given moment.  Fish, with his creativity and way with words, keeps coming up with cute nicknames for them.  My favorite is "noodle fingers."  Babies' fingers are like little noodles, aren't they?  When we put the twins together we have twenty little noodles to play with. So fun!  Fish also calls the twins the little juicy sausages, which I think is cute. 

More and more it is hard to tell the twins apart.  More and more we get them mixed up, at least momentarily.   Leaf still has more hair, but Twig's is growing fast.  The Badger thinks we should order the DNA test and find out if they're identical.   I would love to but there are a lot of other things I want to spend $100 on right now and I figure time will tell. 

We've had some lovely Kansas thunderstorms lately.  I have really enjoyed them.   It's good to be back. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

More Twin Pictures

Twig in purple, Leaf in pink.  I already had one of the onesies and then in a bag of clothes from my sister-in-law there was a matching one!  Perfect!

Full Speed Ahead

I am busier than I have ever been in my life.  I hit the ground running every morning and honestly I kind of amaze myself at the way I multitask homeschooling, caring for little ones, and unpacking and organizing my home.  I am a bit behind the curve homeschool-wise and the unpacking and organizing is going much slower than I would like, but as long as I keep focusing on what I did get done and not what I still have to do I am pretty pleased.  

I love my new house.  I love it so much!  It is just right for me and my family. 

It is so nice to be all here together in our own home.  I am glad I have the kids with me all day every day.  Some of them have been somewhat traumatized by the events of the last several months (Peanut in particular) and it is healing for us all to be here together getting into new routines and spending time together.  

Here are some pictures I took during the move:

Prince Charming loaded up and ready to go: he was clinging to his coat and feeling a little insecure.

Rig #1 driven by the Badger

Rig #2 driven mostly by me with some help from my father-in-law

I wanted to get a picture of everyone by this sign, but we were all so hammered right then.  At least I got a couple of the kids.

Staying in hotels with little kids is... exciting. 

Back in Braum's territory!  Yay!

Happy Roo

We are glad to have our piano back!  The Rabbit was so glad she had to play it upside down.   

The first week we were here I had to sort through all our clothes again to get everyone's summer clothes out and make sure everything was organized.  It took hours.  This picture was taken after I had already worked on it for two solid days.  But when I finally got it all done it was worth it.  

Backing up a bit to the picture of Rig #2, I wanted to say something about the drive out here.  In the past, I really have not liked driving the van pulling the trailer.  I am constantly worried about the trailer.  This was especially true on the move to Utah last fall when the trailer was overloaded.  I didn't even have to drive at all on that move, but I spent the entire drive sitting in the passenger's seat watching the trailer in the side mirrors and worrying.  I wasn't very happy when it developed that I would be driving our van pulling our trailer to Kansas.  The Badger promised he wouldn't overload it this time, and that helped a little bit, but I was still stressin' about it.  

Remember that quote I put on here?  About the difference between an ordeal and an adventure being your attitude?  Well, I decided to really take that to heart in this case.  I realized I was making pulling the trailer into this huge ordeal and that was unnecessary.  People pull trailers all the time.  It's not a big deal.  I kept telling myself it was an adventure, and the kids and I pretended we were like Bilbo Baggins setting off on his journey with the dwarves.  If something crazy happened like the trailer falling apart or getting stolen overnight at the hotel it would just make for an even better story, right?  Well, it actually worked really well.  I stopped having anxiety about the trailer.  By the time we got to Kansas I had the trailer thing down (and nothing bad happened).  I am not afraid of pulling the trailer anymore.  You drive differently with it on, sure, but it's not that big of a deal.  I am hoping that I can transfer this same attitude over to the giant van we eventually have to get that I have struggled with anxiety about driving.  It will just be another big adventure, right?  

This has been quite the adventure.  We have been really blessed.  I have seen the hand of the Lord guiding us along.  Things really fell into place and I know we are where we are supposed to be and that's a really good feeling.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Four Months

As we were motoring along in our moving caravan, the twins turned four months old.  It was a great age for them to be during a move: they are pretty settled into a schedule, they are content in car seat or swing or bouncy chair, and they're not crawling and getting into stuff yet.  And I feel confident that I can handle this two baby thing on my own now that we're through the trickiest part.  And we're now getting to the point where two babies is twice the cuteness and fun, especially now that they're starting to notice each other and interact with each other.  Here's Leaf on the left and Twig on the right:

My Table is Spread

A couple of weeks before we moved we had a lesson in church where we were asked to ponder the words to the hymn "The Lord is My Shepherd" and share what different phrases meant to us.  I have often pondered the 23rd Psalm, but while this hymn is based on the 23rd Psalm the concepts are phrased differently and I had not really thought about some of the words much.  I was struck by the phrase "in the midst of affliction my table is spread."  Not after the affliction or instead of the affliction, but in the midst of it.  Our afflictions are still there-- they are an essential part of our growth and progress in this life-- but in the midst of them He has spread a table for us.

Thinking about this really touched me as I pondered how a table has been spread for me over these last several months.  I have had some afflictions, but in the midst of them I have been so very, very blessed.  I have been cared for tenderly.  I think about all the people who have loved and served my family during our stay in Utah-- starting with my amazing in-laws-- and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

And this is how it has been through the move and through every hard time I have ever been through in my life:  He has been there, spreading a table before me, leading me beside the still waters, restoring my soul.

I am so very grateful.  And from now on this hymn is going to evoke very tender feelings in me when I hear it.

In the midst of affliction my table is spread
With blessings unmeasured my cup runneth o'er
With perfume and oil thou annointest my head
Oh what shall I ask of thy providence more?