28 September 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Lila Marie Brown. 365 days old. Using a spoon. Yes, using a spoon. She has a major streak of independence. As in, she wants to do what she wants to do and will let us know if we have gotten in her way. She says "Dada" with gusto and daga (for dog) with enthusiasm. So far, those seem to be her only discernable words. However, she has long discussions with Elmo on her new phone, with voice inflections and everything.

She is just like Benny and so unlike Benny in so many ways. I know that all babies develop differently, but it's difficult not to compare the two. Benny reached all of his milestones on the early side. He was walking by 10 months, had a small vocabulary by 12 months. But he has always been incredibly shy (although gotten much more social as he matures). Lila was social from day one. She isn't walking and is only saying two words, but she LOVES to be part of the action.

Happy birthday, baby girl. You have brought us so much joy!
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27 September 2011

ONE! (Celebration Delayed)

Dear Lila,

I would love to write a post for your birthday, but your brother kind of hijacked the week by being sick. Not his fault, but you're totally not getting the birthday love you deserve. I promise to make it up to you during your party on Saturday.


P.S. You totally made my day yesterday when you laughed and laughed and laughed when I kissed you before putting you to bed. It made the whole miserable day worth it.

26 September 2011

Cloth Diapering, Zoey Style

Thanks to my oldest and dearest friend, Caley, for writing about her cloth diapering adventures for this installment of Green Means Go(od). Caley's daughter, Zoey is 13 days younger than Lila. They would be best friends, just like their mamas, if we could only figure out how to get them together...

1. Top three reasons why you cloth diaper?

Cost: It's way cheaper to buy cloth diapers. The initial investment can be large, but it's worth it through the years. When we did use disposables, there goes another 35 cents in the trash was all we could think. We rented the smaller diapers, for 3 months for $75, until Zoey could fit into the diapers I had purchased. I have a lot because I can't say no to a cute pattern.

Environmental: We used disposables (seventh generation, non-
chlorine brands) for the first month before Zoey could fit into the rented diapers. With a newborn, every diaper change seems to turn into another change because they pee and poop constantly (it seems). We hated having to throw away all those diapers and thought again of the cost of each diaper in the trash. And running to the store all the time.

We try to recycle as much as we can. On a normal week, we have 3 recycling bins full and one tiny bag of trash. With disposables we had huge bags of smelly trash and had to leave our cans outside. And thinking of all those diapers going to a landfill for years and years was a horrible thought to us.

Our daycare loves them also and is glad not to have all that extra trash.

Health: Disposables to me, are like wrapping my daughters sensitive skin in a garbage bag. The chemicals used in a disposable can cause serious health risks, chemical burns, skin issues and countless health concerns in her future that I don't even want to think about. Diaper rash is rare with cloth.

2. Which brands do you use?

We use pockets. I have a lot of different brands because I like to try new ones and see what will fit Zoey the longest. Right now we have:
Gro-Via hybrid
GoGreen Pockets
Happy Heinys

3. What brand do you like best and why?

My top 3 tied brands are Blueberry, Thirsties, and Rumparoos.

I like the Blueberry brand because:
Made in USA
Quality construction and materials
Super cute colors and patterns
Lots of lining and insert options
Fits Zoey very well
With an extra liner, Zoey can wear it from 7pm-7am with no leaks.
One-size will fit Zoey until she's potty-learned

Made in USA
Quality construction and materials
Super cute colors and patterns
Liners are very absorbent
Leg gussets inside keep the poop in and fit tighter against Zoey's skinny legs
Size 2 will fit Z until she's potty-learned

Quality construction and materials
Super cute colors and patterns
Internal gusset in lining keeps messes channeled in
Fits Zoey very well
Liners are very absorbent
One-size will fit smaller babies through to potty-learning
With an extra liner, Zoey can wear it from 7pm-7am with no leaks.
(downer is they are made in China)

4. Any funny stories you'd like to share...

I have to hide new diapers from Brian. He thinks I am a nut job for buying so many. I sold 16 diapers so I could buy 10 new ones. And now the Blueberry 2011 prints are coming out!
I had lots of funny poop stories with disposables because they were always leaking. We don't have blow-outs or other leak issues with cloth.

I have helped 4 friends make the switch to cloth and all are happy they have. Well 1 has caught the cute diaper fever and keeps buying all the new, cute covers.

25 September 2011

Lovely Ladies

I rarely write about work here. Mostly because I want to keep that part of my life separate from this life. I try very hard to achieve a work/life balance and leave work, you know, at work. However, I wanted to share this photo of the ladies of the Mental Health America of Colorado development team. Alyson and Jacy are just about the best co-workers a girl could ask for. They are funny and smart and we work together like a true team. It would be much harder to get through my days without these ladies by my side. Cheers!
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24 September 2011

Book Review: The Lonely Polygamist

In preparation for the inaugural book club, I'll post my book review of The Lonely Polygamist our first choice to discuss this Thursday.

I had never heard of Brady Udall (despite the fact that he's written two popular and well-received novels). I thought the concept was an interesting one, so I was excited to start the book. Overall, I thought it was fabulous. Great story, compelling, sad, funny, and interesting.

The only problem with the book was that it was set in the 1970s, but I had a hard time picturing it then. I couldn't quite stop thinking of the family as similar to Big Love, even though there were major socioeconomic differences between the two polygamist families.

I'll save more description for after Thursday's book club!

21 September 2011

Little Garden of Horrors

Meet Seymore the pumpkin plant. He has taken over at least a quarter of the yard and is currently supporting at least 13 enormous pumpkins! We didn't even plant a pumpkin seed. This is a volunteer plant that is a result of the seeds from last year's pumpkins not degrading properly in the compost. This plant could most certainly eat a small child if it was so possessed.

It turns out that this is the perfect year to grow a random pumpkin plant. Hurricane Irene apparently destroyed the crop in the northeast. Who knew?

Does anyone out in blog land have good recipes for pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins or pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup? If so, please let me know! Also, what's the best way to prepare a pumpkin?
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19 September 2011

Cloth Diapering 101

Welcome to Cloth Diapering 101! My first installment of Green Means Go(od). I'll focus on cloth diapering every Monday for the remainder of September. This is an introduction, so please watch for more cloth diapering love throughout the month.

My exposure to cloth diapering started very early. In fact, I wore cloth diapers when I was a baby, like most of my generation. I can remember folding mounds of cloth diapers when my twin brothers were babies. I was five when they were born, so I was well within the age when helping out was expected - especially since I was the second of five kids. The thing is, my mom wasn't being Eco-conscious. She was, however, being economical. It was the early 1980s and disposable diapers were not affordable for most families - especially one with five kids.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, disposable diapers became the norm and most parents invested in diaper genies to dispose of the waste. However, a movement back to cloth diapering emerged in the late 1990s and continues to gain popularity. And today's diapers aren't my mama's cloth diapers. There is a growing industry of cloth diaper companies that specialize in the newest designs and most convenient models.

I was reintroduced to cloth diapers by my former neighbors in Austin (the same neighbors who introduced me to the birthing center). They used Fuzzi Bunz and had nothing but good things to say about the diapers. We shared a clothes line in our communal backyard, so I saw those diapers drying often. When we started to think about diapers, we consulted the Austin Baby Store, a great locally owned store in Austin that started as a diaper service and has grown into a a natural parenting store.

Nate and I were motivated to use cloth for two major reasons: environmental and economical. Strangely, the economics of cloth diapering has kept me motivated to continue using them more than the environmental reasons (although that's a nice secondary benefit). I think we spent a total of $300 to purchase 16 diapers and a diaper pale liner, another $50 for a special pale, and another $60 for four new diapers when Lila was born. All told: less than $450. Now, I realize that doesn't include the water costs or the energy costs related to washing our diapers, but let's look at a crude economic comparison. Say we spent $10/week on diapers for Benny's first three years of life: That's approximately $1,560 we would have spent on disposable diapers. And let's say Lila is potty trained by two (I'm optimistic): That's $1,040. Together, we would spend around $2,600 ON DIAPERS! A $450 investment doesn't seem so bad.

OK, now let's look at this picture more realistically: We do use disposable diapers on occasion. Lila wears them to bed and if she has a nasty diaper rash (we don't like to use diaper rash cream with the cloth diapers). And Benny still wears pull ups to bed. However, we buy a new pack of diapers once every two months or so at $15/month. Hypothetically, we'll spent around $850 on disposable diapers total (yikes!). However, that puts our investment in diapering at around $1,260 all told. That's nearly $1,500 in savings!

If we were really hard core, we'd save over $2,000 overall, which is a lot of dough.

18 September 2011

Lazy Weekend

"Lazy" weekend is a completely inaccurate title for this post, but only because we did very little "fun" stuff - I worked on Saturday morning and we weeded and mowed most of Sunday - I figure "busy" doesn't really doesn't do it justice either.

However, we did get some cute photos of the kids. Nate's dad and his step mom were in town on Friday night. Benny spent last week with them in Montrose and they were returning him to us. I missed the little guy a lot. And it's good to have him home. These are photos of breakfast at the famous Krameria Cafe. Famous in our family for many reasons that I can't go into here.

Look for my first "Green Means Go(od)" posting tomorrow. It's my effort to put up valuable information about a more sustainable, healthier lifestyle. Tomorrow's post will focus on cloth diapering, which I'm pretty passionate about. Until then...

15 September 2011

First Annual Brown Boys Camping Trip

Last weekend, all four Brown boys embarked on their first backpacking trip together. By all accounts, it was a good time. Apparently Benny declared, "I love camping," more than once.
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13 September 2011

New Season, New Look

I'm toying with making this blog a bit more legit - you know, perhaps a little less personal and a little more helpful. The blog means many things to me: It's a place where I post memories of my kids. It's a place where I vent. It's a place where I wonder about things. It's a place where I gloat. It's a place where I worry about things.

I'd like for it to be a place where people can learn something. For example, I can't tell you how many people respond to things I do with "I could NEVER do that." This response applies to cloth diapering, making baby food, running, living in a small house, etc., etc., etc. I'm not special or unique or uncommon. In fact, there are so many people who do all of these things and more. But, when I get those responses I truly don't think that people realize how truly EASY it is to cloth diaper, make baby food, run, live in a small house, etc., etc., etc.

So, in the coming months/years, I hope to make it a place to find tips on how to make life easier, cheaper, greener. I'm certainly not the expert on many of these things, so I hope to invite friends to guest blog. I have so many friends who are much better at living more simply, more frugally, more environmentally savvy.

After my streak of blog stalking, I've also been motivated to do a few things. Morgan over at Mama Loves Papa has participated in a 30 for 30 challenge. She picked 30 articles of clothing and had to make 30 outfits out of it. I am going to throw in a unique twist - like 15 pieces of clothing must be used. Or something to that nature. I'm also going to challenge to purchase all of our Christmas gifts locally, from local artists and vendors. We'll see how that works out.

So, with cosmetic changes come substance changes. And I'm excited about them. But don't think you'll be spared adorable photos of my amazing children. They'll still feature prominently here!!!

If you have any suggestions for blog posts you'd like to see, please let me know!

12 September 2011

'Fall'ing in Love Again

The award for the cheesiest blog post title ever: "Fall"ing in Love Again. I couldn't help myself. As the days get shorter and just a bit cooler around the edges, I find myself getting excited for the end of summer and the beginning of fall. It happened quickly this year. We had several weeks of unbearable days in the 90s (I know, I know, it's not THAT bad). And then, pop, the temps dipped into the low 80s and the nights are now cool enough that we have to close the windows.

I love everything about fall. Unlike other seasons, I never want fall to end. I never hope that the temperature changes, unlike winter, spring, and summer (when I'm always looking forward to the next season). Here are some of my favorite things about fall:

1. Layers and layers and layers of clothes and rediscovering my cold season wardrobe.
2. Watching the leaves on the trees prepare to change color. Park Hill is an amazing neighborhood for fall leaves.
3. Halloween!
4. Baking in the kitchen without roasting.
5. Soup! Including Smashing Tomato Soup.
6. Long runs in cool air.
7. Long-forgotten blue jeans.
8. Squeezing in as many dinners, bbqs, and other time outside as possible.
9. Watching Benny play in the leaves.
10. Eating loads of fresh produce from the garden before the first freeze comes along and robs us of our lettuce, green tomatoes, herbs.

03 September 2011

'Bangs Are the New Botox'

According to my hairstylist. No matter, I like them a lot right now. Let's see how I feel when I actually have to do my hair. Don't mind the sour look on my face. I was a little shocked by taking a reverse picture on the iPod.
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