well hello there

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Long time no see!

I haven’t felt much like blogging as of late. Hopefully I’ll kick myself out of that rut soon.

* Savannah and I got sick with some sort of stomach bug a week or two ago. It started with Savannah throwing up one Sunday night and Monday, then I got it Tuesday, we both seemed to get better by Thursday and Friday, only to get sick again Saturday. That last day was the worst for me. Fortunately, Paul didn’t get sick, and we seem to be better!

* Beth and I went on a road trip with our girls this past week! It was fun. We went camping down in Savannah, GA. I have lots of pics to share when I get the chance.

* I think I got bit by chiggers while camping. Itch itch itch!

* This morning Savannah and I flew to Orlando for a few days. My sister is coming in tomorrow, and we are so excited to meet Drew. So, if I don’t get aforementioned promised post about Savannah up, that is why.

* Gerig Reunion is only two weeks away!

* Other things I have been doing: working on a new website for the Atlanta Birth Center. I made a Twitter account and a Facebook page has been created, and we’re working on getting details ironed out to have those updated frequently.

* I had was having horrible trouble with my sciatic nerve – very painful – on top of being sick that week. Paul encouraged me to find a chiropractor, so I did and my pain has gone away (phew!). I like the chiro I found, though. She is a big fan of babywearing and loves children and doesn’t mind at all that I bring Savannah with me to my appointments.

* Okay that’s all for now. I need to get to bed! Tomorrow brings church with my parents, then lunch with the grandparents, and then in the evening I get to go pick up my sister from the airport!

Crohn’s Awareness Day

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May 19th is Crohn’s Awareness Day. A good friend of mine has Crohn’s, and I am posting this in honor of her. She wrote the following, entitled “I bet you didn’t know…”

In an effort to raise awareness, here are some tidbits about Crohn’s disease.

  • The crohn’s awareness ribbon is purple
  • “The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Like ulcerative colitis, another common IBD, Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications.” –The Mayo Clinic
  • Most people are diagnosed with Crohn’s between the ages of 20 and 30.
  • Crohn’s is not limited to diarrhea. It can include vomiting and debilitating constipation as well.
  • There is a link between crohn’s and infertility. Doctors do not know what it is but they see a correlation. (Note from Ashley: This is something my friend and her husband are struggling with right now.)
  • Good days and bad days- some days I feel very crummy and other days I am perfectly fine. Sometimes this can happen within the same day.
  • “Well, you look good.” I may look happy and healthy but I may be really sick. Crohn’s is not visible on the outside.
  • Crohn’s is a chronic illness meaning it’s life long.
  • Lots of medications are required- on average 10-12 pills a day
  • Crohn’s patients receive chemotherapy
  • Regular trips to the doctor are required
  • Most crohn’s patients (3 out of every 4) will have serious surgeries during their lifetime.
  • Crohn’s is considered a disability recognized by the ADA.
  • When you hear about the flu or other bugs affecting the “at-risk” community (the elderly, young children and sick), it includes crohn’s patients.
  • There isn’t a cure yet but medical research has come a long way. It’s suspected that a cure for crohn’s would also be a cure for cancer.
  • Crohn’s patients are more likely to develop cancer than the general public.
  • 3 levels: mild, moderate and severe. Mine is considered moderate to severe.
  • Famous people with crohn’s – Dwight Eisenhower, J.F. Kennedy, Marvin Bush (President George W.’s brother, George H’s son), Anastasia the singer, and others.
  • Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease meaning my own immune system is confused and beating me up.
  • Crohn’s is extremely painful. A full flare is said to be equal to labor pains. When I was first admitted into the hospital I described my pain as being “the worst imaginable gas pains combined with horrible menstrual cramps.” When the doctors figured out what it was they told me that my intestinal blockage produced as much pain as natural childbirth. They also said that I must have an extremely high pain tolerance considering that I just laid in the ER waiting room for hours without making much noise. Here I thought I was being a wimp!
  • Many with crohn’s also have other auto-immune diseases. I have rheumatoid arthritis as well.
  • 0.5% of people have crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. While clearly a minority, that is still 1.4 million Americans.
  • Treatment for crohn’s is more expensive than treatment for cancer.
  • When the intestines don’t absorb properly, vitamin deficiencies and anemia result.
  • Patients with crohn’s disease are often ineligible for life insurance.
  • Crohn’s disease is named after Dr. Burrill Bernard Crohn who grouped a series of symptoms and named the disease.
  • Crohn’s is often difficult to talk about and is considered “taboo” in our society. People with crohn’s disease cannot control their bowels and will pass gas unintentionally or have “accidents” if you know what I mean. So think twice before you judge.
  • Medical treatments have come a long way in the past 5 years. The use of immunosuppressant drugs have helped me and other patients tremendously.

Also, here is a video that talks about a walk that raises money for a cure for Crohn’s and Colitis.

happy birth day to Drew!!

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I don’t have many details yet (or pictures!), but I am so excited that this morning my brother and sister-in-law welcomed their little boy into the world! His name is Drew, and he clocked in at 6lbs 6oz, 18 inches long. He also is quite the timely fellow, as he was born right on his due date!! I am told that Molly did great and there were no complications. I am so excited for AJ and Molly, and can’t wait to see pictures.

Savannah and I are headed down to Orlando for Memorial Day to see him, if his mommy is up to visitors. :-) It’s Savannah’s first cousin!!

washing cloth diapers

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Ah, laundry day. Sadly, it has taken me way too long to get a good wash routine down, but I think I’ve finally gotten it. One of the hard parts about washing diapers is it’s really trial and error. There are so many variables when it comes to washing diapers that it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation. This PDF has some great information about all the variables and how they affect your routine.

I’ll share my routine to give you an idea of what works for me.

Our water and synthetic fibers
I’ve complained about our water before. Our pipes are old and are disintegrating (common for their age and the type of pipes we have). There are lots of minerals and rust in our water. I don’t notice it in my normal laundry, but I have really run into problems with the synthetic materials in the diapers I was using. The pocket diapers I have are microfleece and microfiber inserts. Microfiber is a wonderfully thirsty fabric – it soaks up the liquid without the bulk. However, from my research it also tends to cling to minerals in water, causing smell and repelling issues. I experienced both after about a year of using the microfiber (more issues with smell than repelling). I stripped my diapers (more on this later), and that helped but it wasn’t too long before I had issues again. So, I have since replaced my entire stash with all cotton diapers and haven’t had any issues so far (5 months and counting).

Our washer and dryer

We bought our HE washer and dryer a few months before Savannah was born, HE Whirpool Duet Sports. I didn’t realize at the time that front loaders make washing diapers more difficult, or I probably would have opted for a regular washer/dryer. Front loaders are great in that they use less water, but with diapers that is actually a negative thing. Diapers are thirsty – yay! but it also means they soak up all the water the washer uses, not leaving much to actually wash with. I have heard of people trying to trick their washer into using more water, like putting in a wet towel or hooking up a hose to force more water in through the detergent dispenser. If I remember, I try to get all the diapers soaked using water from the bathtub faucet before I wash them. That seems to help, though I also wonder if switching from microfiber to cotton has also helped (less thirsty diapers?).

The detergent

The detergents you buy in grocery stores these days have all sorts of additives, fragrances, etc. that are great for regular clothes but tend to destroy diapers. They either leave residue, or break down fibers, etc. So you want to make sure to get a “natural” detergent. Hopefully you can find some in a local store, because shipping for detergent can be expensive! Here is a great website that breaks down different detergents to help you pick the best one for your diapers. I used to use Country Save, and liked it a lot. Then I kept hearing about Rockin Green, which actually has a special formula for Hard Water. I bought some, used it about two months, and then Savannah started getting horrible rashes from the detergent. Then I switched to BioKleen powder because I can get that locally, but I have since found out that the powder has mixed results when it comes to cloth diapers, and the liquid is better. I also recently found a place that sells Country Save, so I will probably switch back to that once I’m out of the BioKleen powder. See, it’s all trial and error. :-)

Oh and I also included OxiClean in the picture… I don’t use this regularly, but OxiClean is safe for cloth diapers. You might want to do some research if you’re interested in it for yourself.

My wash routine
What you’ve been waiting for, right? Well after a year and a half of trial and error, here is my current wash routine:
“heavy duty” load with 2/3 scoop of detergent – hot wash, cold rinse
extra rinse/spin (no detergent)

Not too difficult, eh? Much simpler than my old routine where I played around a lot with prewashes and extra rinses, and quick washes without detergent, etc. My washer has a setting for “heavy duty”. Not sure exactly how it’s different, but it’s really been working for me. The extra rinse/spin is 26 minutes long and just to make sure all the detergent is completely rinsed out of the diapers.

Drying the diapers
After washing, I hang all my covers on the retractable clothesline above the washer. I am not sure about my Thirsties covers, but the GroVia covers are not supposed to be put in the dryer, due to the heat breaking down the elastic.
Diaper covers drying

I throw all the inserts and prefolds into the dryer – normal heat. My microfiber inserts used to dry quickly, and I could also air dry them and they would stay soft. However, the cotton ones take a lot longer to dry. They also get “crunchy” when air dried, though I can throw them into the dryer for a little bit to soften them up. (I don’t have any problems with air drying the covers.)

There is a lot to be said for hanging your diapers outside in the sun to dry, if your neighborhood allows it. For one, it saves on utility costs for running the dryer. It’s more earth-friendly. Also, the sun acts as a natural bleach and is a safe way to get stains out as well as sanitizing your diapers without destroying the fibers or using any harmful chemicals. You don’t have to sun-dry your diapers every time, but even just a few times a year will make a difference in the life of your diapers.
Diapers hanging out to dry

Some people have gotten around HOA rules of no clotheslines by sunning their diapers on the top of their car. (Lay an old sheet or blanket down first to keep the diapers clean.)

Stripping diapers
I am not sure how often you’re “supposed” to strip diapers. Some people never strip them, and some people seem to strip all the time. Mostly you hear of stripping when you start to have issues with your diapers – that’s when I did it. There are many ways you can go about doing it (definitely worth Googling it!), but here is how I stripped my diapers when I needed to.

First, I boiled all the microfiber inserts in a big pot on the stove. I put 3-4 inserts in the water for 10-15 minutes, using tongs to lift them out. If your inserts have snaps, make sure they don’t touch the sides of your pot. Warning, this will really, really stink but it works fabulously at getting them clean. When I boiled my inserts, I noticed immediately detergent rising to the surface of the water – that’s how I knew the detergent was the culprit (it obviously wasn’t being rinsed well enough).

For stripping in the washing machine, I decided to use Calgon, which is a water softener (I found it at Walmart – it was about $4 for a bottle). I’ve heard people who use it with every wash, and I’ve heard other people say it’s bad to use it with every wash. I only use it when I’m stripping. I use it in place of detergent and wash my diapers on a normal cycle. Then I wash them again about 4 more times without either Calgon or detergent. You’re supposed to watch for bubbles (using a flashlight if needed) – when you don’t see any more bubbles then you know the diapers are done. This seems like a horrible waste of water, I know! And it takes a lot of time, so I prefer to not strip that frequently.

You can also use Dawn to strip – some people swear by it. I read not to use Dawn in a front loader (too many bubbles), which is why I’ve never attempted it. There are a few other products out there. This site has a lot of useful information, including a how-to for stripping diapers.

Has anyone else had trouble finding a good wash routine for yourself? What works for you?

in honor of mother’s day

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I put this up on Facebook last weekend, but I thought I’d share here too.

I love my mom

This is one of my favorite pictures of my mom and me. I was about 6 months old, and it was taken at Indian Rocks beach in Florida. People are saying that Savannah looks like me. :-)