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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Ghetto Guide to Cloth Diapers, Part I

Before Darija was born, my husband and I debated about whether to use cloth diapers or disposable ones. While disposable ones are readily available and have the perks of convenience (not to mention keeping pee off of baby's bottom better), the costs of buying packs and boxes of diapers every other week adds up pretty quickly. Cloth diapers, while notable for their eco-friendliness and long-term austerity due to being reusable, have a higher up-front cost and are guaranteed to result in higher water/utility bills due to the frequent laundering required of them.

So, what to do?

While we landed on a compromise of using disposables while out and about and cloth diapers at home, living in poverty has a way of educating you to take advantage of whatever life hacks you can find to stretch your limited resources further. I've found that the use of cloth diapers has been an essential part of keeping our baby care expenses lower than the average.

Like alot of millenials, especially ones with a conservative background like myself, I initially scoffed at the idea of cloth diapers. In my mind, cloth diapers had a stigma in that it was only for hippies, granola yuppies, and rich/middle class suburban stay at home mothers, while "real", hardworking, and/or impoverished people like me used disposables. But, after doing some research, I found it actually WAS more beneficial in the long run to use cloth diapers, environmentally and financially. Some of my mommy friends who'd used cloth diapers at church also encouraged me to use them as well. That, plus help from my husband who'd had experience in both childcare and cloth diapers, convinced me it actually WAS possible for a low-income mother like myself to keep my child adequately diapered and not go broke in the process!

But then came three big questions-what kinds of cloth diapers to acquire? Where do I find them? And can I afford to launder them without breaking the bank?

With those questions in mind, I've come up with a practical guide to cloth diapers for the low-income individual. Each of the three questions above will be addressed in a separate entry for this short series I'm calling The Ghetto Guide to Cloth Diapers. Cloth diapers shouldn't be something associated with the affluent segment of the population. They're for everyone regardless of income levels, and I can help you decide if this is a truly practical option for your wallet and your baby.

Let us begin.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Barbeque Queen

Before I got married, I was not much in the way of a cook.

In fact, I'm still not much in the way of a cook.

When it comes to making food, my wonderful and amazing husband does the cooking. And he likes doing it. In his family, it was a tradition that the men learn how to cook. And it was a good thing, since I would have missed out on lots of good down-home Cajun cooking that his family made.

But, there is one wifely cooking task I'm proud to own.


I didn't think I could cook anything outside of a microwave and boxed food, until my husband taught me how to barbeque. It all started when I had a craving for carne asada. Living here in southern Arizona, carne asada is a popular weekend dish. Many a Sunday, I can smell my neighbors cooking carne asada. So naturally, I wanted to make some.

Since I don't have a family recipe for carne asada, nor do I speak enough Spanish for one of my neighbors to teach me how to make it, I consulted the great oracle known as Google for some recipes on how to make it. Then, when our food stamps came in, we got some chuck steaks on sale and I made the marinate. I chose a citrusy sort of marinate, since we had all the ingredients on hand.

After an overnight soak in the marinate, my husband fired up the grill and I plopped the marinated steaks along with some green onions and peppers. The result was delicious.

Tools of the trade

Smoky, meaty goodness

I felt good about it afterwards since I was the one who created this treat from beginning to end, and that despite my huge lack of experience, I could barbeque something and NOT have it come out vulcanized! A huge confidence boost for someone like me who grew up with shoe-leather tough barbeque!

The next barbeque endeavor I undertook was pork chops, using a marinate similar to one my late father-in-law used for his homemade barbeque sauce. I don't have pictures of that one, but it was also delicious.

Finally on 4th of July, the biggest grilling day of the year, I barbequed chicken and americanized cevapcici (Serbian sausages made traditionally with ground beef, lamb, and pork with spices. Instead of lamb and pork, I'd made the cevapcici with ground beef and Jimmy Dean-knockoff sausage cuz it was there and needed eating)

Those pink finger-looking thingies are the cevapcici

One thing I've discovered when cooking chicken quarters whole-the joint where the thigh meets the drumstick does not cook all the way, even if the rest of the chicken does. Not wanting to vulcanize the rest of the quarter to ensure that part cooks through, next time I feel like barbequing chicken, I'll separate the thigh from the drumstick for more even cooking. Hope my husband remembers where he put the skillsaw...

In due course, I will be sharing my favorite marinates, as well as tips on barbequing in general.

Bon appetite!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A New Chapter

On May 12, I entered into a new chapter in my life. On that day, my gorgeous baby daughter, Darija, was born.

Happy Birthday!

Weighing in at a healthy 8lbs 1oz and stretching a whopping 20 inches long, she arrived healthy and squalling. Mercifully, my labor was relatively short, for while my water had broken early on the 11th, my labor wasn't starting and I was not looking forward to the prospect of an induction. A friend of mine had an induction when she gave birth years ago, and the force of the pitocin-induced contractions caused her uterus to come just about unglued from her body. Fortunately, the staff at the hospital had me walk around for about an hour or so, which was enough to get the contractions started, but not really doing anything. So, the doctor had me boosted with pitocin, and after about 5 hours in labor, out she came. I did not get the epidural, despite being on the fence about it the entire time I was in labor. Looking back on it, I'm glad I didn't either. It would have screwed up my labor.

Snoozing in Mommy's lap

Thus, my first step into parenthood. It hasn't been entirely smooth. Aside from the usual stuff of getting used to breastfeeding, diaper changes, and not sleeping through the night, we've had to deal with a jealous/pissed off former acquaintance who contacted CPS on us in an attempt to disrupt our new lives as parents. Thankfully, CPS came and found nothing to substantiate the ridiculous claims that the informer gave them, but it was an incredibly nerve-racking time as bureaucrats can make your life a living hell, just cuz they can.

But with that nasty little trial out of the way, life has returned to normal. Our pediatrician is absolutely thrilled everytime he sees Darija for her regularly scheduled appointments as he sees how much she is growing and developing. At 2 months old, she is about 23 inches long and weighs about 13 pounds. She has a hearty appetite and feeds fairly frequently. Darija loves to play with us and is beginning to recognize facial expressions. She can also ooch, grab at things like Daddy's fingers and Mommy's hair, and occasionally roll over too.

Tummy time!

And Darija is very well loved by our friends and acquaintances in the community. Everytime we go to church, fellow parishioners ooh and ahh over her.

I love being a mommy