Just Heather

2009-06-051_595Those of you who know me and my frugal ways may be surprised by the quote of the day: “Why don’t you like cheap things, Mommy?” ~Brenia

The truth is, she’s absolutely right. I’m frugal as all get out, but I hate cheap things. It’s one of the many reasons I don’t shop at Walmart. The girls have really taken to spouting my favorite line—When you buy cheap crap from Walmart, you get cheap crap from Walmart. Now, whenever something breaks Brenia asks if I bought it there.

The answer is almost always no, since I avoid the place at all costs. This week, we had to discuss the difference between inexpensive and cheap. I gave it to her on a 1st grade math level. Which is cheaper, a $5 shirt or a $2 shirt? Obviously, the $2 shirt. However, what happens if the $2 shirt has to be replaced 3 times in the same amount of time that the $5 shirt will last? You’ve then spent $6 on the cheap shirt, but only $5 on the higher quality item.

Even my 6-year-0ld could see which one was really the better deal.

Today, Brenia’s school had a field trip. Brenia rode with me and 3 classmates. Her carpool friend rode with the teacher and 2 classmates.

When I picked them up from school today, she was telling Brenia how great Mrs. L’s car is.: “She had this really cool thing that you twist and the window rolls down!

Here we all are adding special automated features to our car that take away the coolest part!

We have been making a concerted effort around here to “go green.” We have always recycled, but we wanted to do more. Last year we switched our light bulbs to CFL. Saving $10 per month on the electric bills was a nice bonus. In the past several months, I have found many other ways to “save the Earth” as Brenia says. I switched most of our cleaners to vinegar (glass cleaner, dishwasher rinse aid, fabric softener) and started making my own dishwasher detergent (borax and baking soda). Our compost experiment seems to be going well, which has us down to 2 bags of trash per week. One of those is practically all diapers so the overwhelming guilt of disposable diapering finally wore me down.

I’d been considering cloth for a couple months, but it was the math that finally did it for me. We spend about $15 per week on disposable diapers. In my research, I discovered that I could spend about 2 months diaper budget on a supply of cloth diapers that would last. We discussed, I researched and finally ordered a day’s supply last week. We made the official switch to cloth diapering over the weekend.

My mom just about flipped when I told her I was considering it, but I assured her that things are different now. I bought 3 pocket diapers by Bum Genius. I like these because I pre-stuff them when they come out of the laundry and they are basically like a disposable. You can also buy all-in-one diapers that come that way, but this was cheaper and it takes me about 30 seconds to stuff them myself while I do the laundry. I liked the Bum Genius because they are adjustable from newborn to toddler. I’m pretty sure we’re done, but they will last through another baby should I change my mind some day. Plus, they have a really high resell value so I’ll get most of my money back when I’m done.

I also bought about 10 pre-folds which are what people think of when they hear “cloth diapers.” You can’t just buy the Gerber ones at the store because they aren’t thick enough. Those are usually only 3-ply. I purchased 8-ply diapers. Then I got 2 Thirsties cloth diaper wraps, which look like a diaper with the Velcro on each side but have no absorbent material. They are just waterproof covers. You can reuse these throughout the day by rinsing if they get damp and air drying since they are waterproof. I bought 2 so I could switch out all day. I’ll use these primarily at home, saving the pocket diapers for when we are out and about since they are so easy to use.

I just ordered Snappi diaper fasteners-so much better and faster than pins for the cloth folds. They come in newborn and toddler sizes. I actually ordered those on eBay because they were so much cheaper. I purchased the diapers & wraps from Not Your Mama’s Cloth Diapers. Toasty Baby is another local seller I had looked into. Both offer in-home demonstrations, if you want a tutorial or would prefer to see everything before you decide what to buy.

The first couple of days, we switched back and forth between cloth & disposable while I waited for my full order to arrive. By the second day, Lorelai asked for the “better diapers” after her nap. She feels better in them and I feel better about them. The savings, which is what initially made my decision, is really going to end up just being a bonus.

Math Bowl vs. Birthday: Last week, the Math Bowl competition (why, yes, I am the proud parent of a mathlete!) was canceled due to snow. I didn’t get it at all. In fact, we went out to dinner that night 20 minutes away and didn’t have a problem at all. When my daughter called to tell me it was canceled, she was devastated to tell me that it had been rescheduled for my birthday! The disappointment in her voice was so nice to hear. She truly wanted me to have a better birthday than sitting at an academic competition. What she doesn’t get is there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be than watching my children do something (and excel—1st place in district, 8th place in state) they love.

Ice Skating vs. Broken Bones: It was a grand birthday overall, let me tell you. After the Math Bowl, after dinner, after the kids were in bed I managed to drop a cabinet door on my foot while putting away their toys. It hurt, but I went to bed. By morning it was bruised, but not too bad. By noon, after a busy day, it was all kinds of purple, swollen and hurting pretty good. I, of course, waited until the next day to call the doctor. She saw me, but couldn’t decide. Doc said I would be okay to wait the weekend if I wanted and come back for x-rays if it didn’t get better. Upon finding out that I would probably have to have “bone pictures” on Monday (I didn’t), Brenia yells “But I have ice skating class on Mondays!”

Pothole vs. Landscaping: My activist opportunity of the month came after several weeks of frustration over a huge pothole in our neighborhood. I spent a month playing the apathetic game, assuming the city already knew about it. It occurred to me that maybe all 50 families affected were assuming the same thing. I visited the city’s website and learned all about the Public Works Department’s partnership with INDOT. It went on and on about the landscaping in the median and new roads. I thought that was a bit much since they couldn’t manage to maintain the current ones. I emailed the Director of Public Works about the issue over the weekend. On Sunday night, I received a response thanking me for bringing it to their attention. He said he spent the afternoon driving the city and cataloged all potholes, giving the one I referenced a Priority 1. They filled it the next morning! The cynic in me figures it was already on the books, but the political side of me wants to believe I made a difference.

Next Up: Anyone want to place bets on the winner of Reading vs. Houseworks?

I love Lorelai’s “accent” even though I occasionally have trouble figuring out what she means. She speaks very well for her age, but sometimes what she says doesn’t come across because you would never expect a 2-year-old to know that word. Today’s lunch is a perfect example.

She’s eating already because she brought a can of veggie soup to me at 10 and asked for soup. I was saying no (repeatedly), until she said please. We’ve been working on that word so it resulted in lunch at 10:30 in the morning. I thought she wanted to watch the new Chinese show on Nick Jr. called Kai-Lan while she ate because while I was getting her soup ready she kept shouting “Tie-yan! Tie-yan!” Our kids have all had a strange T pronunciation for the K sounds so it sounded just like Kai-Lan to me.

Then I opened the fridge to grab a drink and she pulled out the salad dressing. The Italian salad dressing. She is now having soup and salad and thrilled to no end.

My kids crack me up on a regular basis. There is something about Brenia, especially, that just makes me laugh all day long. It’s probably a good thing since when she isn’t making me laugh she’s likely doing something to piss me off.

We are having trouble getting her diet figured out. We saw massive behavioral improvements when we went gluten free. This fall, we pinpointed the red dye issue. Even Brenia started to see the correlation. Now when she takes candy she isn’t supposed to have, she leaves the red ones behind!

I actually think she has some sort of problem with processed sugar. She’s not diabetic or anything—it’s more behavioral than medical. She honestly gets out of control when she has had any sugar. I don’t mean hyper. I mean it’s like a switch is flipped on her attitude. She gets mean, angry and lashes out over nothing.

When we skip the sugar, she is a sweetheart. If I could afford all organics, we’d definitely go with that for the entire household. It’s not sugar that is the problem because she can handle cane juice or organic sugars. It is the processing involved in so much packaged crap.

In between sugary, meltdown treats I give you this:

  • “I’m the smartest kid I ever thought!”
  • “Stacia, stop being such a smartiac!”
  • “Mommy, I have bunches of boogers in my nose. Can I please have a tissue?”
  • “Hey, mom! Can I have that half-eaten cookie off the platter? That one’s mine.”

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people come through the exit of a fast food restaurant and then slide into the drive-thru lane like they didn’t just cut in front of you. Today I went to Wendy’s for the first time in quite awhile. Now I remember why—it’s not really faster!

Brenia yelled, “That’s an exit stupid-head!” so I should probably be more careful about how I react. It reminded me of the time I ran into another driving pet peeve when Stacia was 3. I was behind some idiot at a light. We end up going to the same store and my dear, sweet daughter yells across the parking lot, “Green means go, moron!”

Luckily, in both situations, the other party didn’t actually hear my children’s road rage.

Do we have anything we can put peanut butter on? ~Brenia