Monday, December 31, 2012

Library Find - test post




Friday, December 14, 2012

The Cost of Hybrid Diapering

I hadn't thought much about diapers for Baby O until last night. In one of my crunchy parenting Facebook groups someone was asking for opinions on disposable diaper brands since she couldn't do cloth diapering. I read the comments with interest.

I really wanted to do cloth diapering with 2Flowers, but we don't have a washer (or dryer) and our apartment complex does not have hookups. I couldn't figure out how to manage a week's worth of soiled diapers between launderings in our small 965 sq. foot apartment. And an extra load to carry down (and up) the stairs each week just adds to the enormity of doing laundry. (Yes, I have considered that another baby will add AT LEAST one more load and I've already freaked out about it a few times.)

I just assumed that alternative (more sustainable) diapers would not be an option for Baby O, either.

But in the diapering thread I was reading, someone mentioned hybrid diapers, "like Flip diapers or gDiapers." Someone else mentioned bum genius and described them as "kinda in between cloth and disposable." I've been wondering if there was such a thing as disposable inserts that would let me be a little more sustainable, save a little money, and still not have to tackle the laundry problem (current solutions include: buying a portable washer that drains through the sink, this type of washer handles very small loads and is not in our budget; or moving). I was excited to discover that disposable inserts do indeed exist!

But, since Lost Boy and I lean toward the academic, I needed to compare the cost of using disposables to the cost of switching to a hybrid system. So I created a spreadsheet and estimated how much we've spent on diapers over 2Flower's lifetime. Compiling the data was more complicated than it might seem at first. I haven't kept receipts from every time I ever bought diapers, but I have been using Amazon.com's Subscribe & Save option to buy Huggies for the past year. So I entered all of my orders for the past year, which includes different diaper sizes, a different number of diapers per box depending on the size, and a different price per box depending on the size and number. I had to estimate our diaper expenditures for 2Flower's first year based on current prices listed online and an estimated 5-10 diaper changes per day (depending on her age).

Here is what I got:

Total number of diapers in 2 years:5624
Cost over 2 years:$1127.00
Cost per diaper:$0.14 - $0.27

So then I calculated how much it would cost to use gDiapers. That was even more complicated than calculating how much two years of Huggies cost! There is an up-front investment to buy the diaper covers, pouches, and a few cloth inserts for extra absorption, and every time your baby grows out of a size you have to invest in the next size up. Fortunately, gDiapers has only three sizes and they are adjustable as your baby grows. I skipped the newborn size and just figured on buying their small and medium sizes (which, if Baby O grows like 2Flowers, should be fine ... if he grows like some of his cousins - well ....).

The start-up cost for two sizes of gDiapers could cost about $350. But I figured that disposable inserts should be less expensive than disposable diapers and would make up for the start-up cost over the course of the two years. But it was REALLY hard to figure out how many inserts came in each case and how much each case cost. When I finally figured it out this is what I found:

Total number of diapers in 2 years:5600
Cost over 2 years:$2080.00*
Cost per diaper:$0.33 - $0.41
*inserts only, not including start-up cost


 ... wait a minute ...

 What?

Here it is again:

HuggiesgDiapers
Total number of diapers in 2 years:56245600
Cost over 2 years:$1127.00$2080.00*
Cost per diaper:$0.14 - $0.27$0.33 - $0.41
*inserts only, not including start-up cost

Two years of disposable inserts will cost almost twice as much as two years of disposable diapers?! What? Why?

I had to ask why. Lost Boy put it very simply, "Economy of scale." Disposable diapers are made in larger quantities than disposable inserts and therefore the companies that make disposable diapers can take advantage of economies of scale (making things in bulk and minimizing cost). As I thought about it, I realized that companies that make disposable inserts offer them as a convenient, but rarely used product. Most people who use the diaper companies selling disposable inserts are mainly using cloth diapers.

What this boils down to is the fact that I can't opt for the sustainable option (cloth), and I can't opt for the middle ground (disposable inserts). I'm really frustrated by this.

But don't look at my word choice of "can't" and think that I've given up. I'm still hoping for that portable washer (I saw one on Craigslist for $300). And I looked at the wholesale options for Flip diapers (another brand that sells disposable inserts). Maybe, if there was enough interest in the 'middle ground,' I could organize a diaper collective based on disposable inserts? Or sell the inserts online? But right now Cottonbabies, the company that makes Flip Diapers, bumGenious, and others is only accepting new wholesale accounts from businesses that either have a physical location or are established online retailers already selling other baby items. And I'm not. So ... maybe a window will open somewhere?

Meanwhile, we'll be adding another $1127.00+  to the landfills.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Wild Christmas Tree Hunt - 2012

A few years back, Lost Boy and I had a discussion about what Christmas traditions we wanted to have in our family. Lost Boy's family usually goes to a tree farm and cuts down a very tall tree, but I had never done that. The first Christmas we had 2Flowers we went to a tree farm, and it was fun, but Lost Boy has an adventurous spirit that really enjoys the backwoods and he wanted to take the tradition a step further.

So we started The Wild Christmas Tree Hunt. Last year we cut down a tree in the Plumas National Forest. We had to make two trips because the first day we went we got stuck in a little valley because of icy roads and the priority became getting out instead of finding a tree. We learned a lot last year (take a truck with 4-wheel drive, or double check that the right size chains are in the car/truck you are borrowing, and remember that even 4-wheel drive should avoid certain conditions!) and were all geared up to go again this year.


There are a few national forests within our driving range, so this year we picked a different forest. We went to Tahoe National Forest. You can mail order a Christmas Tree Cutting Permit for the Plumas Nat'l Forest, but not for the Tahoe Nat'l Forest - you have to go to the ranger's station in person to get a Tahoe Permit. So we drove down to South Lake Tahoe and found the ranger's station. It was the biggest and nicest ranger's station I have ever seen! (It is Lake Tahoe though...)

Unfortunately, things were a little iffy about whether we could buy a Christmas Tree Cutting Permit. They were almost out of permits! We debated whether we should drive up to Plumas, but we were running out of daylight because we left the house late. We decided that if they didn't have any more permits we would stop at a tree farm on the way home, but they DID have a permit! So we bought it and looked at the map that shows where you can and can't cut Christmas Trees. (Lesson: Call the ranger station to find out if they are sold out of permits BEFORE you start driving, especially for popular areas like Tahoe!)


When we went to the Plumas Nat'l Forest there were miles and miles of forest and not very many people. We were about five miles from a tiny town that closed down by six pm when we got stuck last year. And there was no residential areas, it was all sparsely distributed cabins. This year, we drove for maybe 20 minutes and pulled off onto a little side road marked on the map. There were cars parked near the side road, and we saw several other cars and people. We went down one switchback, went over some ice, saw more ice, and turned back. "We learned our lesson last year," said Lost Boy. So we parked by the highway and walked down the side road a little ways.

... Actually, it was a long ways (for me). At one point Lost Boy had me sit down on a rock while he and 2Flowers went down the hill to look for trees. There wasn't a lot of selection (especially compared to the Plumas Nat'l Forest). They came back a little while later and Lost Boy said, "I want to look on the other side of the highway... I don't want to, but I think I should scout ahead." I assured him that was fine with me. There was no way I could get back up the hill very fast. If we wanted to find a tree before dark, he needed to go at his normal long-legged speed, not his pregnant wife's speed.

Going down the hill to look for trees.
Me sitting on a rock at the top of the hill.
2Flowers and I meandered back up the hill. It was twice as far as I'd remembered. 2Flowers found a stick and poked at things with it. Lost Boy and I had been expecting lots of snow on the ground, but there was hardly any. When I found a patch of snow I encouraged 2Flowers to come and look at it. She told me she didn't like it, but she did like the ice and spent a lot of time stepping on and poking the brittle edges of it. She shoveled some pine needles and was generally happy to be exploring the forest (except we were still on a paved road, so it wasn't the backwoods by any means).

Meandering

Lost Boy came and got us. We hadn't even made it back to the highway! He had found two trees that he liked and he took us to see them. He preferred the second tree, and I thought it was very nice, too. I discovered that it is difficult to be picky when there isn't a lot of selection and you can't move around the forest fast enough to find the trees that are actually the right size. But the trees that Lost Boy found were very  much our style  and quite lovely.


Last year, Lost Boy handed me the saw and I got to help cut down the tree. Not that I made much difference, I don't think I made it through a centimeter of the trunk! This year I sat on a rock while Lost Boy started to cut down our tree. Eventually he had me lean on it so that the cut would stay open and allow him to make better progress. At first I was a little worried that I, with my weight and balance off-center, would go down with the tree when it fell. But I didn't, and it was kind of neat to feel the tree leaning more and more, and then to feel it leave my hand and tumble the rest of the way down. There was no shout of "Timber!" or huge crash, just a gentle tumble.

Helping Daddy.
Cutting at ground level to prevent trip hazards.
Loading the tree into the truck.

The tree started out about twelve feet tall, but Lost Boy took several inches off the bottom before he put it in the truck. He took off several more inches when he brought it into the house. Now the tree is just tall enough to brush the ceiling. The lovely thing about cutting down your own tree is that a five foot tree costs just the same as an eight or twelve foot tree. The permit is $10 and you can cut down any tree that has a trunk circumference of less than six inches. So instead of paying $30 or $40 at a lot or farm, we payed $10 and had money for some hot chocolate and chicken soup on our way back through town. Lost Boy pointed out that the gas money for the round trip was about $40, so there is no savings there. But I think that the memories, the stories, and the time to be together and actually have a conversation is worth it.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to print pre-sized photos.


I went to a fun Relief Society Craft Day on Saturday and made some Christmas crafts. One of the crafts I made called for four to six photos that were 2 inches by 2 inches.

I know you can just trim a photograph down to size with scissors, but I forgot about that and did it on the computer instead. It is a little bit complicated, but is super handy to know how to do (for instance when you want to print a photo for a locket).

So here is a tutorial on how to print pre-sized photos. It is kind of long, so here are some shortcuts to different parts of the tutorial:

How to print pre-sized photos:

Part I: Crop and Edit your photos.

(Back to top)
  1. Pick your picture. Open it in PhotoScape. (PhotoScape is my favorite photo-editing software. It is easy to use, and most importantly, it is free! If you have Adobe Photoshop, I'm pretty sure you can use that software to do everything I describe doing in both PhotoScape and Irfanview.)
  2. Crop your photo to a 1:1 ratio.


  3. Do some fancy photo editing (like add text) if you want.


  4. Save it.
  5. Repeat with any other pictures.
If you need to print only one photo, you can skip this part and go to Part III. If you need to print more than one photo, putting them into a grid saves you having to repeat Part III for each of the photos you need to print.
  1. Go to the Combine tab in PhotoScape.
  2. Add all the pictures you want to print. (Add a photo multiple times if you want more than one copy of it in the grid.)


  3. Make sure the Checker tab is selected.
  4. Increase the pixels between the photos (Look for Intervals of photos) to give yourself some cutting space. (I used 20 pixels.)
  5. Click Image full to make sure the whole photo shows (sometimes one of the other selections will crop a bit from the edge).
  6. Change the number of Columns so that your photos are evenly distributed . E.g. If you are printing nine 2 in. photos, do a 3 x 3 grid (6 in. by 6 in.). Or If your photos are going to be 3 inches wide, make sure there are not more than two columns by three rows (6 in. by 9 in.) so the grid will fit on a letter size piece of paper.
  7. Save the grid (PhotoScape will create a new image).
In order to print a photo to the exact size you want you have to line up the printing resolution (DPI) with the image resolution (both of which are different from the screen resolution. Yes, it is confusing). If you are printing photos in a standard size, like 4 x 6, 5 x 7, or 8 x 10  you don't have to go to all this trouble; these sizes, and a few others, are default options in the Windows Photo Printing Wizard. But if you want a 2 x 2 inch photo you have to do the math yourself.

Fortunately, it starts out pretty easy. 100 dpi to 100* pixels =  1 inch! Yay! Here are some examples:

100 dpi100 pixels= 1 inch
100 dpi200 pixels= 2 inches
100 dpi450 pixels= 4.5 inches

However, things start getting tricky when you increase the DPI:

200 dpi100 pixels= 0.5 inch
200 dpi200 pixels= 1 inch
200 dpi400 pixels= 2 inch
300 dpi100 pixels= 0.3 inch
300 dpi300 pixels= 1 inch
300 dpi600 pixels= 2 inch

For super small photos you shouldn't have to worry about using a big DPI. I used 200 dpi for my craft project.
  1. Open the saved grid image in Irfanview.
  2. Go to Image > Resize/Resample.



  3. Under 'Set new size' either:
    • a) Select pixels for the unit. b) In Width, enter your DPI times the number of columns in your grid (so for 1 inch photos: 200 dpi x 1 in. x 3 columns = 600 pixel width; or for 2 inch photos: 200 dpi x 2 in. x 3 columns = 1200 pixel width). c) In Height, enter your DPI times the number of rows in your grid (so for 1 inch photos: 200 dpi x 1 in. x 4 rows = 400 pixel height; or for 2 inch photos: 200 dpi x 2 in. x 4 rows = 1600 pixel height). OR
    • a) Select inches for the unit. b) In Width, enter the desired width of each photo times the number of columns in your grid (so for 1 inch photos: 1 in. x 3 columns = 3 in. width; or for 2 inch photos: 2 in. x 3 columns = 6 inch width). c) In Height enter the desired height of each photo times the number of rows in your grid (so for 1 inch photos: 1 in. x 4 rows = 4 inch height; or for 2 inch photos: 2 in. x 4 rows = 8 inch height).
  4. At the bottom of the dialog box, look for DPI (which stands for Dots Per Inch) and change it to 100 (or whatever resolution you used in your 'new size' calculations).
  5. Click 'OK'
  6. You can check and make sure you will end up with the size you want by going to Image > Information. There is a part that tells you how big (in inches) the image will be. (And is vital if you, like me, think you're good at math, but usually get the answers wrong.)


  7. Save the image. Note: Irfanview automatically saves to whichever folder you were working in last. Pay extra attention to where you are saving your image, because otherwise you won't know where Irfanview put your picture! (It happens to me all the time.)
  1. Don't print the image from your My Documents, My Pictures, or any other Windows Explorer folder. (That is what I did the first time.) You'll get the Windows Photo Printing Wizard which (annoyingly) automatically assigns the size of the image being printed without much control on your part. It is fine if you want to print a 5 x 7 or a sheet of wallet size photos, but in this case you want more control!


  2. Make sure you are looking at your grid image in Irfanview. Go to File > Print.
  3. In the Print Preview dialog box
    • Make sure the right printer is selected and check it's settings (You may need to click the 'Printer Setup' button and correct the paper size. While you're there, you may want to go into 'Properties' and make sure your printer is set to photos printing mode instead of standard or draft.)
    • 'Print Size' should be 'Original size (from image DPI)'
    • 'Position' should be changed to at least 0.5 in. for both the Left and Top margins to bypass the minimum default margin required by printers. (If you know you're printer's minimum margins you can use those)
    • Change 'Units for 'custom' and 'position'' from cm to inches.
    • Click 'Print.'


  4. If there are no glitches with the printer (like it being out of ink, or not talking to your computer) you will soon have a page full of perfectly square pre-sized photos. All you have to do is cut them out!

Notes:
Whew! That was super long and complicated! But it made it easy to do the actual crafting part of my project. It also made it easier to do multiples... my craft is a Christmas gift for the grandparents (of which we have several sets). Also, I accidentally printed a sheet on standard print quality instead of photo print quality and we ended up with enough little photos to make a matching game for 2Flowers, so this technique could be useful for homemade flashcards or games.

What would you use pre-sized photos for?

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Fashion Friday - Spiderwebs

This year I am getting into the Halloween and Fall season decorating more than I ever have before. Having a little person makes crafts and decorations so much more interesting! Aunt V has been helping 2Flowers get into the spirit of things this week by painting spiderwebs on her toes.


2Flowers likes the spiderwebs on her toes (she loves the Itsy Bitsy Spider), but not the spiderwebs at the Halloween store she visited with Daddy today. "I don't like spiderwebs," she said today, after a week of liking them.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Curating everyday life

About a year ago, Megan of SortaCrunchy wrote a post about curating her closet. That post has had a huge impact on me. For one thing, it helped me realize that I can, and need to, develop a personal style so that I like what I wear and don't own a ton of clothes that I never wear.

But what has had a larger impact on my life is the second point that Megan makes in her post, "the curated closet is often-edited." The curated closet is a collection of items that are constantly scrutinized and evaluated for their worth. Items that no longer fit the current needs and space are discarded.

I don't remember if Megan talks about what the word 'curate' means, but having worked in a museum, where they curate exhibits, I started to get some new ideas about what it means to curate a collection. Dictionary.com says that 'curate' means 'to take charge of, or organize' or 'to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation.' Curating a collection doesn't mean you keep everything that comes your way.

I've been digesting this concept over the past year. I still don't have a personal style that I like, and my closet isn't well curated, yet. But I've realized the value of curating other areas of my life as well.

So,
  • I'm working on curating a collection of paper that is meaningful to me and my posterity (this is also known as the long-term project to get rid of my boxes of paper).
  • On my radar is the need to curate a collection of toys and books that are worth playing with (we have a few toys and books that I don't like to put away because I think they are cheap or shoddy).
  • Lost Boy and I have been more willing to take some of our own books to the used book store (we get credit at the used book store, which is nice for when we want to buy books as gifts or find a book we love, but don't own).
  • I have become willing to throw away all sorts of things that I might once have kept, just in case. I am also pushing myself to put bigger and more expensive items in the Goodwill/DI box (such as Tupperware that I have from when I was a consultant, but which we almost never use).
  • I am learning to curate my digital subscriptions (Google Reader, Facebook pages, Email subscriptions). I'm still a bit out of control in this area, but I just unsubscribed from about 15 blogs in my Google Reader, which is a record! Unfortunately, I still have 214 subscriptions left to let go of...
The digital collections are kind of hard because they don't appear to take up space like clothes in a closet or books on a shelf do.

What areas of your life do you curate well? Or need to start curating?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Missing the Microwave

Our microwave randomly stopped working this week. I opened the door to put some food in and the power went out along half of the kitchen (the refrigerator stopped humming!). Lost Boy tripped the breaker and I tried again, but the fuse blew again. After several breaker trips/fuse blowings we decided to call maintenance.

Maintenance replaced the outlet, but the microwave still blew the fuse, so they said it must be the microwave. Sigh. It is no big deal to heat food up in the oven, but we realized how much we depend on the microwave clock and timer. We are constantly looking at the microwave, only to realize that there is no clock in the kitchen (or front room) anymore.

I finally had Lost Boy move the microwave out of the kitchen. I think he has some ideas for repairing it. Meanwhile, the kitchen is in transition and things that had a place (on top of the microwave) are now homeless. Sigh.



Friday, September 21, 2012

How do moms do it?

Back in February I decided that I wanted to take my blog to "the next level" this year. Among other things, that meant posting three times a week. But then I stopped writing altogether for the next three months. And all of the post ideas that usually float around in my head dried up. I finally started "writing" in my head again recently and have slowly been getting more ideas. But how do you write with a toddler around?

I hardly ever sit down at the computer to anymore. I'm adjusting to the limited social media, but my 'work' is piling up! Someone at our house is almost always getting screen time, so if 2Flowers isn't watching Elmo on the desktop or playing with a smartphone, then someone else in the house is using the desktop or a smartphone.

I've gotten to the point where I am only willing to work on the computer for more than three minutes if 2Flowers is not awake. But she is awake more often than I am at this point in the pregnancy! I can't stay up later than her. I rarely wake up before her (and when I do there are things like dishes that need to be done). I feel guilty doing screen time while Lost Boy is home because even though 2Flowers is distracted from me, we only see him for a few hours a day and me working on the computer is not quality time.

How do work-at-home-moms get their work done? I'm not a work-at-home-mom, but I'd kind of like to go in that direction. I am in awe of the moms that are able to be productive from home.

From what I've gathered, it is all about having:
  1. discipline (which I don't have),
  2. a place to work (my workstation is in the middle of the living room), and 
  3. routine/consistency (which I cannot get the hang of!)
I remember reading about one mom who wrote a book in five minute increments, because that is all the time she could ever get at one go. I'd rather work for 1-2 hours at a time, but maybe that isn't realistic?


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Not yet. But soon.

We went camping three weeks ago (July 12-14). Camping is fun and refreshing, but it is also a lot of hard work. I was prepared to be wiped out afterwards, but I didn't expect to get sick the day we came home. I spent two days in bed (mostly), then slowly started to feel better and get stronger.

Except, at some point the recovery seemed to stop.

I could tell I wasn't sick anymore, but I was tired all the time. Maybe my thyroid supplement was off? I didn't think so.

Then I started to feel nausea after I ate. Maybe it was the heat.

One evening, after the nausea was particularly strong, I decided to take a pregnancy test in the morning. Just to rule out pregnancy and keep myself from getting my hopes up.

We've all been getting closer and closer to being ready for the next baby. Lost Boy said something last month about how some concerns he had about our health coverage were lessening. A few weeks later he said something about how he felt that 2Flowers was ready for a sibling. And for months and months, I've been listening to my body, and feeling it say, "Close. Not yet, but soon."

But I know that babies don't necessarily come when you want them. Or when you are ready for them. They come in God's own time. And sometimes I have a hard time being patient. Waiting for 2Flowers was really hard. So I kept telling myself "soon, but not yet."

And I was starting to think about it a lot what with all the tiredness and teasing nausea. So I needed something concrete to backup my conviction that it would be soon, but not yet.


My plan backfired. I sent Lost Boy to the Dollar Store for more pregnancy tests. After all, there is such a thing as a false positive! But I didn't think my hormones were off enough to trigger a false positive.

Another positive pregnancy test. I looked at them every day for a while. I stopped feeling frustrated about the tiredness and just let myself rest. I went to see my doctor yesterday (and spent $40.00) to do another urine test and confirm that I am indeed pregnant.

It has taken me about a week and a half to overcome the disbelief that I could actually get what I want in a hope so huge. I couldn't mention the new baby to God until today, I was afraid it wasn't for real. But I knew it was. The tiredness is overwhelming. The nausea, though not bad, is miserable. But my body never doubted it there was a little person growing in there!

Lost Boy and I estimate that I'm six weeks along (I have been tracking several symptoms with OvuView for several months now, so we can see at a glance when the stars - or fertility variables - aligned). So, we estimate that I'm due in March.

According to Baby Center's Due Date Calculator (using the conception date instead of the first day of the last period) I figure my due date is March 10, 2013. Baby Center says I'm 8 weeks along and that the baby is the size of a kidney bean. That is bigger than I thought!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sugar Fast


Discovering 2Flower's cavities triggered a sugar fast in our family. I'm pretty sure sugar was a major contributor to the cavities (combined with it not being brushed off often enough), so we decided to boycott it for a few weeks.

But dental health isn't the real reason we're cutting sugar. I'm learning that modern processed foods in general are a major contributor to carries in our society, and it is nearly impossible to avoid all kinds of processed foods.. We are discovering that there is sugar in nearly everything. EVERYTHING! And we haven't even considered cutting refined flour or rice. I think we would have to stop eating altogether to avoid sugar. But that isn't entirely an option, so we're just trying to eliminate white sugar, brown sugar (we LOVE brown sugar), and high fructose syrup from our diet.

As I read Real Mom's Love to Eat last year, I came to the conclusion that I'm addicted to sugar.  I crave it often and eat it in larger quantities than I ever have before in my life. I want it constantly. I mentioned an interest in cutting, or at least reducing, sugar in my diet to Lost Boy a few times, but we were never really committed to it.

Lost Boy noticed that he has been eating more junk food in the past year, and made an effort to cut down by avoiding sugar every Tuesday. But we only remembered his Sugarless Tuesdays once, so that plan wasn't exactly working.

Going on a Sugar Fast will help me deprogram my body and reduce sugar cravings. It will help stabilize my blood sugar (and hopefully, my mood!). Cutting sugar will make Lost Boy think twice about what he eats. He can still have hamburgers, but there is sugar in ketchup. Does he want a hamburger without ketchup?

We're only committed to our sugar fast for two weeks. I hope we'll keep our sugar intake low afterwards, because I know it is good for us and will help us be happier and healthier in the long run. 

But Lost Boy really misses his cinnamon rolls, and I'm not interested in oatmeal unless it has brown sugar in it. I'd rather have the sugar that we choose than the sugar we're not aware of.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cavities can ruin your day

Last week we discovered that 2flowers has cavities.

I feel terrible because I knew I needed to be brushing her teeth better and more frequently. But it was such a fight, and I didn't know how to win it on a regular basis. I had hoped to get her all the way to high school without cavities, like my mom did for me. But I already missed that goal. So my new goal it to get her to high school without any new cavities.

I'm pretty sure 2Flowers has cavities because,
  1. I haven't been brushing her teeth often enough (and thoroughly enough).
  2. We've been sharing lots of sugar with her (Oreos, chocolate, cinnamon rolls, whatever we're eating).
  3. We share our cups, silverware, and toothbrushes with her. (I'd rather not share the toothbrushes, but sometimes she will get a hold of them and try them out.)
  4. I allow her to fall asleep while nursing (I feel really conflicted about listing this as a cause of cavities. I don't think it is a main contributor, but a few people have suggested it, so I'm acknowledging the possibility.)
I watched my sis-in-law brush her son's teeth a few weeks ago, and that has really helped my technique. Knowing that 2Flowers is going to need uncomfortable/painful dental work has helped me overcome the tears and screaming that deter me from getting the job done well.

I used to say, "Okay, that is good enough," but now it is obvious that it wasn't. I'm still struggling to brush 2Flower's teeth more than once a day, but I feel good about my progress.

I just wished I'd figured it out last year.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Camping Goals

In 2011 we had a goal to go camping every month between March and November. That is nine times. I think we went once (or up to three times?). We traveled out of state almost monthly during the winter end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 (holidays, weddings, graduations, etc.) and by March I was burned out on packing and unpacking.

Then I had an ear surgery scheduled in June, so we didn't go in June. But the surgery was rescheduled for September and we ended up not going camping at all during the interim. Then I was in recovery for several months. For a while, right after the surgery, I couldn't change elevation at all. Not even a day trip into the foothills.

Then it was winter, both cold and wet. And while we are not opposed to camping in the cold (November and March are not exactly warm) or the wet... actually, we're not much into camping when it is wet (though we have done it, unexpectedly) I still wasn't ready.

So we find ourselves almost halfway through 2012 without having had the benefit of breathing fresh air, getting dirty, reconnecting with our non-digital selves, smelling of pines and campfire, and soaking up the peace of the Creator's gift.

But it is a new season. I've come out of hibernation (I hope). 2Flowers is old enough to have fun and explore.


We're going camping!




Friday, May 11, 2012

Goodbye ZyngaVille


A friend recently sent me a link to a blog post by the author of the XKCD comic, in which he talks about being distracted from real work by browsing the Internet. Clicking around on the internet can give us an immediate sense of having accomplished something, which triggers feel-good chemicals in our brain, even when we aren't really being productive. Housework or complex projects don't give you that sense of accomplishment (and the associated chemical response) every few seconds like browsing the Internet can.

I have been playing Facebook games for several years. I have been careful about how many I play. I limit myself to two games, and to reduce the temptation to try out any new ones (I love to try new things on the computer!) I use Facebook's 'block' feature. I block notifications from every game that shows up in my newsfeed. The block feature is great. Once you block an app you will never see an invite or notification from it even if your friends send them to you specifically.

For a while I was blocking several apps a week. Now I rarely see a new one. I have been less inclined to try out new games since I see so few new game notifications. That is good.


But I still allow myself to play up to two games. Lately I've been playing CastleVille. I like it. My avatar has a pretty renaissance dress. The quests give me goals and are complex enough to make me have to plan and prioritize my resources. But when I log in every day (or twice a day) to work on my quests I don't get other things done. Like putting the laundry away, doing the dishes, or blogging. Also, 2Flowers is not entertained by CastleVille and often demonstrates that she would like my full attention.

For a while I was likening my playing CastleVille to the Lost Boy reading comics online. It is important to have something that you enjoy doing to unwind. But I spend a lot more time on CastleVille than he does on comics. And the comics make him laugh.

I'm thinking about deleting CastleVille. I think I would need to delete it in order to stop logging in every day. When I think about deleting (blocking) it, I feel like I don't want to. I think: What about my CastleVille friends? Some of my Facebook freinds play CastleVille too and I feel like I interact with them through the game. I don't really. But I kind of feel like I'm saying "Hi!" when I visit their kingdom and do stuff there.

And what about all of the work I put into developing my kingdom? If I block the app I'm just throwing that all away!

But what am I throwing away?


A pixelated picture, that's what.

The part that is hard is that I'm throwing away all the time I spent to make that picture. But the time is already kind of thrown away because the picture doesn't really enrich my life in any meaningful ways. I have this same problem with FarmVille. I haven't played FarmVille for about two years, but previous to that I played it a lot and built a ginormous farm. I was rather pleased with my FarmVille orchard, and my shed with a bike for Lost Boy leaning up against it.

When I weigh the pros and cons I see that there are only pros to deleting these apps, and the cons are superficial.

I think I may be ready to delete FarmVille.

And I think I need to delete CastleVille.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3.14 - Pi(e) Day

We missed it last year.

And we almost missed it this year! But Miss V was thinking about it and reminded me. Whew!

Our busy Wednesday just got even busier, because how can we not have pie? Pie is, after all, a defining quality of Lost Boy's character. And what better day to eat pie than March 14th (3.14)?

Which pie to make though? We have an abundance of lemons, but I don't love lemon meringue the way Lost Boy does. I love Mimi's Sour Cream Apple Pie, but we have a dearth of apples.

Thank goodness for Pinterest! We are thinking about maybe a pear-butter pie. Lost Boy said he saw peaches at the store. I'm thinking we'll do personal sized pies, maybe blackberry? Need some ideas? Here is my new Pie Day Pinterest Board! (Click on it to follow the link.)


Happy Pi Day!




P.P.S. Is it Pie Day or Pi Day? Or does it matter. I never thought about it until just now. I tend to focus on the pies more than the pi.

Note: I learned that it is Pi Day. The day is actually all about the number. But pie is a great way to celebrate. Especially since pi is involved in the equation that relates the circumference of a circle to its radius. And what do you get when you cut a pie? A radius!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Garage Sales in January?

I keep forgetting that it isn't January anymore. I must have lost February in a mist of allergies. I've hardly been out of the house in weeks. So when I was on my way to a friend's house for a Relief Society meeting I was really surprised to see garage sales on almost every street!

Garage sales in January? I knew we were having a mild winter, but...

What? It's March? Are you sure? Sheesh!

Anyway, my friend's neighbor was having a garage sale. On a blanket in her yard I saw a toy globe. I love globes.

Well, actually, I love maps and since a globe is a map I love globes too.

The globe they were selling was a Vtech Fly & Learn Globe . Which of course I'd never heard of, but an interactive map toy? Of course I want that!

It was still there after the meeting and I had two dollars in my wallet. My friend gave me another dollar and I went over to see if they would give it to me for three dollars. It was marked to sell at four, but they gave it to me. Yay! I think I even jumped up and down and squealed a little. I tried not to. I mean that kind of stuff you only see on TV, right? And TV is not real life.

Oh, they were selling Girl Scout cookies too. But not even Girl Scout cookies could distract me from the globe! I know where to find the cookies again, but that map toy... when and where will I find another like it for three dollars? It is $20 on Amazon.com and I'm not spending that kind of money on a plastic toy!

So, 2Flowers thinks it is pretty cool. She forces the globe to turn and it makes terrible clicking noises. You're supposed to use the joystick to fly your little airplane around the globe and the world turns on its own. But I guess 2Flowers isn't ready for that.

I think its pretty cool too. I've played with it at least as much as 2Flowers has. I like to move the joystick and fly the little airplane around to the different places on the world and do the programmed activities. It is probably nothing like flying a helicopter, but it makes me think of Double-0 Devo (aka D3, Hunny, Thing 2*).

The electronic music is pretty fun, but I'm already getting tired of the electronic voice that prompts you to "use the joystick..." if you leave the toy alone for too long. I do like the goodbye message though:

"Come fly with us again soon!"

I especially like the little "sooom!" that you hear afterwards.


A couple of random notes.

  • Grandma and Grandpa are home. Yay!!!! We got to see them briefly for lunch today and are excited to see them again in a few days. We haven't seen them for months! (We did Skype a few times, which is great, but it isn't the same as being in the same room and getting to hug each.)
  • I got a Spaceship for Valentines Day. Er... a Smartphone. (Samsung Admire R720). I finally figured out how to hang up phone calls. But I haven't figured out how to get my pictures off of it.
  • 2Flowers has figured out how to do Diaperectomies. She likes to do the actions to the song Popcorn Popping. She can say "water" and "sock." And apparently she can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (but I haven't heard it yet).



*Lost Boy maintains that he is Thing 1. We have two little Thing 1 softies that have been around for a while, so I'm inclined to believe him. Sorry, Devo.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Socks

I finally got around to folding a basket of socks that had been hanging around. The socks don't usually end up all in one load to be folded together, but when they do I am always surprised by how few socks Lost Boy has and wears compared to how many socks I have and wear. I think I wear three times as many socks as he does. They are a small load all by themselves!



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