And from that link, found singing cruets:
I’m officially a fan. Goodbye, dream craftsman-style kitchen. Hello, cute.
Month: October 2008
Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is poverty. Similar to last year’s post, I’m going to reflect and celebrate on what I’m already doing to help, investigate areas that could be improved, and then commit to action.
I have to admit that I’m even less passionate about “poverty” than I am about the environment. However, I can’t ignore the very real fact that if I’m to practice what my faith preaches, I’d better care about the poor and I’d better do something about it. So, I’m thankful that Blog Action Day is here and that I can use it as a chance to commit to some real action.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why I don’t take action more often, and things I can think about to counter my excuses:
This list is much shorter than last year’s, but it’s still something that I can celebrate!
Time to brainstorm next actions! This list is by no means comprehensive nor is it very radical, but I tried to come up with realistic and achievable actions that I could take. Rather than trying to come up with a big life-changing plan, I’ve found that real change happens when I start small and think of things that I could imagine myself doing.
I could really see myself doing all of the above! But again, I’ll commit to just a few actions and will follow up in a later post. Let me clarify – I will commit to talking to Steve about these actions, since we have joint finances and his opinion and approval is needed before moving forward!
How about you? Do you have a post for Blog Action Day, or are there specific actions you want to commit to taking to help combat poverty?
This is the seventh of a series of posts on pregnancy, labor, birth, and being a new parent. See intro and full list.
Early on in my pregnancy, I did some online research to try to figure out the most cost-efficient and environmentally friendly solution for diapering.
First, I examined my options.
The environmental cost of disposables is obvious. Diaper services most likely use a lot of bleach in the cleaning process, plus factor in the fuel cost for transporting the diapers, so they aren’t doing much for the environment, either, unless you can find a service that uses natural cleaning products. For home-laundered cloth diapering, the environmental cost comes mainly in the use of water and energy. gDiapers are probably the most environmentally friendly of the bunch in terms of day-to-day use, because the refills biodegrade nicely and the wrap doesn’t need to be washed very often. Most of the cloth diaper brands above are made in the US; I couldn’t figure out where some of the main brands of disposables were made (anyone want to find that out?).
In the end, I chose to go the home-laundered cloth diapering route because we had convenient access to energy-efficient laundry machines and because I didn’t like the idea of contributing unnecessarily to landfills. I don’t know what we would have done if we still lived in an apartment, however.
Diaperdecisions.com has handy charts that break down the actual total cost (and the cost-per-change) over your baby’s diapering lifetime. According to their numbers, which include estimates not only for the actual diapers but for energy and water costs, you’ll spend around $2500 on disposable diapers, about $1500 on the fancier pocket or all-in-one diapers, and only $381 on prefold cloth diapers and covers. Their chart doesn’t include costs for gDiapers or bumGenius “one-size” diapers, though. I did a cost breakdown on bumGenius one-size diapers using their numbers and came up with this:
12 pack bumGenius one-size diaper $203.40 x 3 (36 diapers) = $610.20
Energy costs: $36.00 – $122.40 depending on water heater
Total cost: $732.60 (using higher energy number)
Average changes (potty trained 2.5 years): 7,398
Cost per change (including washing): $0.10
As you can see, the bumGenius one-size diaper isn’t as cheap as cloth prefolds and covers, but it’s significantly cheaper than the all-in-ones or other pocket diaper brands by $900 or so.
In the end, we chose to go with bumGenius diapers instead of cloth prefolds, despite the higher cost. Here are the reasons we chose bumGenius diapers over all the other solutions.
At the time that I purchased the diapers, bumGenius had just come out with their 2.0 version. (As of this writing, they’re on 3.0, which has some modest improvements, and they also have new organic diapers!) If I were to do anything differently, I would have scoured parenting forums to try to purchase gently-used diapers and save more money, but at the time I just wanted to order them and have them in-hand. Diaperswappers.com is one such community where people sell or swap diapers, although you’ll have to get used to their use of acronyms (BGAIO = bumGenius All-In-Ones, BG2.0 = bumGenius 2.0 diapers, etc.).
We used disposable diapers for the first month, which gave us enough time to get used to having a baby around, then started using bumGenius diapers. So far, I’ve been very happy with them. I purchased 24 diapers, which gives me enough to do laundry every other day or every third day. The diapers have been holding up well, although I expect that at some point in the distant future, the velcro tabs will need to be refurbished by a handy sewing friend. Diaper leaks have been very rare (most of them happened in the transition from using the newborn to large insert), and diaper rash has been non-existent.
Before embarking on the cloth diapering journey, I had no idea what was involved with laundering them. (Cotton Babies has a reader-friendly guide to cloth diaper basics, including how to wash cloth diapers.)
With exclusively breast-fed babies, it’s really easy initially because you can toss the diaper into the laundry even if it’s poopy, because it all washes out. Once you start solid foods, or if your baby is formula fed, you need to first scrape or rinse the poop off into the toilet. While it seems gross at first, “diaper dunking” is one way that many parents clean off the diaper – swishing the diaper in the toilet. For the more squeamish, sprayer hoses can be installed and attached to the toilet to squirt off the mess. For the even more squeamish, you can buy “diaper liners,” which are a sheet of thin, flushable material that goes inside the diaper. The poop stays on the liner and can easily be flushed down the toilet, and it helps keep the diaper a little cleaner, too. (This is not factored into the cost above, though! It costs about $0.06 or $0.07 more per change if you use diaper liners.)
Read the manufacturer instructions to find out if you should keep dirty diapers in a “dry” or “wet” pail before washing them. A “dry pail” is basically any container that you want to use to keep the diapers in until you have enough to do a load of laundry, while a “wet” pail is something that you can use to soak diapers in. bumGenius diapers should be stored in a dry pail. For us, this was initially a laundry basket. When things got stinky, we switched to a zip-up waterproof bag. I ordered custom fabric-outer-lining ones from happytushies.com, along with smaller travel-sized bags, but it looks like they only offer them through retailers, now.
So far, I’ve been able to wash the diapers with the baby’s other laundry without a problem. Bringing everything to the washing machine, I quickly pull out the inserts (albeit a bit gingerly, with two fingers) and toss them into the washer. bumGenius diapers allow you to fold down the velcro tabs so they don’t stick to other things, so I make sure those are in place before tossing the shell into the washer. Then, I wash the diapers twice – once on cold, once on warm/hot, with an extra rinse. The extra rinse is to get all the detergent out of the diapers, because detergent residue = odor. Check the manufacturer’s information to find out if there’s a specific detergent that’s recommended. On the recommendation of my friend Kristine, we’ve been using Allens Naturally Detergent. With high-efficiency washers, you have to be careful to use less detergent than with normal washers.
I put all of my bumGenius diapers in the dryer, although I’m hoping one of our weekend projects will be to install a laundry line solution outside. When I fold the laundry, I stuff the liners into the diapers so that they’re ready to go. At night, we’ll grab one of the newborn inserts and put them in for a double-stuffed diaper so that the diaper doesn’t leak.
You can also buy or make your own cloth wipes so that you’re not using disposable wipes. I’m using Seventh Generation disposable wipes for now, but am considering switching over to cloth.
I’m glad that we are able to cloth-diaper. I might make a very different choice if we didn’t have a washer and dryer in our house, or if I was working full-time away from home.
Anyone else have anything to add to the topic? If you cloth diaper, what brands do you use and what do you like (or don’t like) about them?
I just killed a good part of my day trying to figure out how to get Outlook (2003) to send mail with AT&T DSL’s SMTP settings. Now, I don’t consider myself to be very savvy in terms of getting networks and internet connections and such to work, but I have configured Outlook several times in the past with various ISPs and didn’t have any problems as long as I had the proper setup instructions. We had SBC/AT&T DSL a couple years ago and email receiving and sending was fine. This time, however, I was stumped.
The handy booklet that comes with AT&T’s DSL modem has these instructions (which can also be found if you Google various phrases such as “Outlook AT&T DSL SMTP”):
If you use client mail and have trouble sending or receiving email, the problem could be incorrect settings. In this case, you need to enter this server information to tell your program where to retrieve your mail:
Your Email Address; For example, UserID@att.ne
Incoming (POP): pop.att.yahoo.com
Outgoing (SMTP): smtp.att.yahoo.com (SMTP authentication required*)
Incoming mail server: POP3
Incoming mail port #: 995, secure connection (SSL) checked
Outgoing mail port #: 465, secure connection (SSL) checked
*You should find the authentication check box in the outgoing mail section of your account setup. For specific instructions, refer to the help section of your email client.
NOTE: If your email client does not support SMTP authentication, you won’t be able to send client email from your AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet account.
All well and good. I have ten or so email accounts that I check through Outlook. Here’s what I did:
The above configuration is correct, however, it didn’t work for me. I tried various combinations without effect. Finally, I contacted AT&T online chat support.
Having handled online chat support as the tech support person several times before, I tried to be succinct and clear with my problem. I forgot to save the chat, but here’s a reconstruction of how it went:
Me: Hi! I’m trying to configure Outlook 2003 to send email from different email accounts using AT&T DSL’s SMTP settings. Here is what I’m using:
Under more mail options, Outgoing server tab – checked requires auth. and entered my AT&T user/pass
Under Advanced tab – checked ssl, port 465
It’s not working for me – do you know if I’m missing something or doing something wrong?
Tech: I’m sorry you’re having problems. It sounds like you are having problems sending mail, correct?
Tech: Make sure that you have “My outgoing server requires authentication” checked and that “Use same settings as my incoming server” is checked.
Me: I am NOT trying to receive email from the AT&T account. I am trying to SEND email from a different email account. I have “outgoing server…” checked, but “log on using” selected with my AT&T user/pass entered.
Tech: I see that you are trying to check a different email account. What is the email address you are trying to use?
Me: I have several different email addresses configured in Outlook. I can RECEIVE email fine. I cannot send email.
Tech: What error do you get?
Me: Um… I don’t know what error I get. When I try to send, the “enter account info” dialog box pops up continuously and will not accept my username and password. I end up having to cancel the send.
Tech: This is a problem with Outlook. [inserts canned response about how Outlook doesn’t save the SSL information properly, so I will either have to pay for AT&T “plus” support or contact Microsoft, the creator of Outlook.]
Me: As there are so many Outlook users out there, I am surprised and disappointed that AT&T does not have a solution at hand for this issue.
Tech: I am sorry that you are having problems. We cannot support Outlook, as it is software provided by a different company, Microsoft. You will have to contact the makers of Outlook to resolve your issue, or I can refer you to AT&T paid tech support.
Me: No, I understand. Can you please look back at my info above and confirm that my settings are correct?
Tech: Yes, your settings are correct.
Me: Okay, thanks. I’ll try to find a solution on my own.
So AT&T thinks this is an Outlook problem? I refined my googling with “at&t dsl outlook outgoing smtp not saving password” and eventually came across this site, which suggested that a service pack would fix the problem. I couldn’t figure out if I had the service pack or not and finally downloaded it and, in trying to install it, found that I already had it applied. So that wasn’t the issue.
As I beat my head against the desk and tried different things, I finally found an error message by using the “Test Account Settings” button in Outlook:
Send test e-mail; the specified server was found, but there was no response from the server
Searching with keywords on that phrase brought me to a forum post that pointed me to this Yahoo Help article which explained the real issue: My email accounts had to first be verified. The Yahoo Help page basically explains the steps you need to take to verify EACH email account through Yahoo. Once verified, emails can be sent in Outlook using the settings described above.
I found that simply leaving the Yahoo window open and manually entering the verification code, as suggested in Step 9a-d, didn’t work for me. Step 9e, entering in my password, would shoot me out to the AT&T Yahoo! home page without actually processing the verification. I only got results if I clicked the verification link that came in the email for that specific account (I was using Firefox 3, didn’t try any other browsers).
I also skipped the step where you enter in your server info, as I didn’t want to check these accounts via the Yahoo interface.
I also read that you’re limited to 10 email accounts. I actually had 11, but luckily could ditch one without consequence.
Before I could verify my emails, though, I had one more atypical road bump. When installing AT&T DSL last night, I chose to do a manual install instead of using their install CD. During the AT&T DSL registration process, I created a username and password successfully, but the next page didn’t load properly for me. I went ahead and activated the modem with my new user/pass successfully, so I didn’t think anymore of it. However, it seems that simply creating a username/password wasn’t enough – it didn’t actually create or activate the account to allow me to access Yahoo!/AT&T services. So when I tried to log in at http://mail.yahoo.com with my username and password, it told me that my ID didn’t exist. I had to go back and go through the registration process again (it worked, this time) to be able to access Yahoo Mail and thus Yahoo Mail options.
So this ended up being a three step process for me…
I’m still very disappointed with the AT&T live chat support that I interacted with. Is it really such a rare occurrence for someone to want to use a non-AT&T email address that they never run into this? Or was it a ploy to get me to pay for tech support? Seeing as how verifying email addresses through Yahoo was an integral part of the process and Outlook had NOTHING to do with it, my opinion of their customer support is currently very low.
This is the sixth of a series of posts on pregnancy, labor, birth, and being a new parent. See intro and full list.
After the initial few days of figuring out how my milk plumbing worked, breastfeeding was a breeze for me. But for many women, it’s not. I think our culture has lost some of the normality of breastfeeding; it’s no longer common knowledge as to how it works and how it’s done. Women of my generation learn from books, pay for lactation consultants, or go out of their way to join groups like the La Leche League to find the support they need. Unlike many other places in the world, it’s not okay to whip out a breast and start feeding in public (even in my town, which supposedly has a higher percentage of women who breastfeed); breastfeeding is something that happens behind closed doors or under colorful Hooter Hiders, so girls and young women never actually get to observe what a “good latch” looks like. Consequently, women find out that breastfeeding is not a natural but a learned behavior. In an informal observational “survey”* of the young moms that I know, 7/10 had more difficulty than not getting breastfeeding “going.”
Even without facing a tenth of the challenges that some of my friends did, I can’t say that breastfeeding was “easy” when starting out. Like almost every other aspect of parenting, I was uncertain, worried of doing things wrong, and had no prior reference or personal experience to draw on. The “good latch” photographs in books such as The Nursing Mother’s Companion and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding gave me some idea of how the baby should be positioned, but I wished that I had x-ray vision to see if the baby’s tongue was properly positioned below the nipple and areola and if the nipple was drawn back into the back part of the baby’s mouth. I had to trust the nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital, who reassured me that I had “perfect breasts for nursing” and that the belly-to-belly, nose-pointing-at-me position of the baby was fine. Nonetheless, I still developed a painful pressure blister on one of my nipples by the second day. (It eventually scabbed over and got better.) A few weeks later, I worried that I had a plugged duct and spent hours (well, at least a good half-hour) in a hot shower trying to get the painfully hard, engorged spot on my breast to loosen up and unplug. I flipped through the breastfeeding books I was borrowing from the library, trying to figure out if it was really a plugged duct or not or if something else was going on. (I think it was a plugged duct.) Also, as is typical for newborns, Steven was a very sleepy eater – three sucks in and he’d be dozing off. Despite these initial stresses, I’m very grateful that I had a relatively easy experience. Steven naturally caught on to breastfeeding well (despite being slightly tongue-tied, which can add on to the challenge of feeding) and my milk production was good.
While I can’t speak too much from my own experience, I think I can put together at least a few thoughts and tips, mostly based on the experiences of other friends.
Finally, I do have friends who weren’t able to get breastfeeding to work exclusively for them and supplemented with formula or went to exclusively formula. The guilt and frustration they experienced is a whole other topic. As a friend, I struggled with encouraging them without communicating to them that they weren’t trying hard enough. Next time, I think I would mention that Child of Mine has a chapter for formula-fed babies next to the chapter on breast-fed babies and stays away from making judgment calls on breastfeeding or not, which other breastfeeding books tend to do (they make mothers who don’t breastfeed feel like second-class citizens). Also, in Bright From the Start, a book about encouraging development and learning in your baby, the author suggests that some of the causes of higher IQ in breastfed babies are because the babies switch sides and because the mothers talk more to them. Babies tend to play and touch things as they nurse, and switching sides forces them to use both hands (the one that’s free) to explore. This exercises both parts of their brain. So with a bottle-fed baby, it might be worth it to try turning them around halfway through feeding to allow that type of development. The parents might also find it helpful to observe how different nursing mothers interact with their babies (research supposedly shows that they talk more to their babies) and then replicate that while bottle feeding. Finally, another person gave me some great advice that it doesn’t matter what sleep theory you adhere to, what matters is loving and consistent parenting for the child’s whole life. I think that applies to whether or not the child is breastfed or formula fed, too!
Okay – other moms out there, what ideas or thoughts do you have about breastfeeding?
* I didn’t actually survey people, so this information is mainly based on conversational snippets that I’ve had with my friends, including secondhand snippets.
My breastfeeding bibliography from other posts: