Wednesday, February 29, 2012

museum homeschool day

One of the local children's museums held their homeschool day yesterday, and the boys both took two classes -- the first was on Paleontology, the second on combustion (they blew things up -- needless to say, it was a big hit).

Before, after, and in between classes the kids had a chance to explore and play -- here J shows off a lego racer he built which ran amazingly fast (the museum has a test track with a timer). J says it's because he combined a low profile with weight and a good wheel ratio. Okay.....

As for me and Rosebud, we got in lots of visiting time with other homeschool moms (and their kids) that we haven't seen since fall, so that was nice. J grabbed my camera for a photo of how Rosebud gets around the various venues we visit -- that's one of my Moby Wraps, my choice of carrying her. It's a little more complicated to tie on than the slings I used with the boys, but it distributes her weight more evenly across both of my shoulders and so is much kinder to my back. And I can strap on my backpack diaper too and I stay well balanced all day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

pocket diaper primer

The most common question I get when I mention that I'm using cloth diapers with Rosebud is "How do you manage that, as busy as you are?". The answer, of course, is not that I'm some sort of magician that can conjure up extra time and energy (although, wouldn't it be totally awesome if I were?). The answer is, it honestly doesn't take any more time than using disposables. (Maybe less, considering that I don't have to run to the store because I ran out of diapers.)

Here's how we cloth diaper on the fly:

First, I chose a diaper that was easy to work with. In my case, a pocket diaper made the most sense -- they are as convenient to use as a disposable (they go on and fit the same way), but unlike the all-in-one diapers (which are really the most convenient because all they require is laundering) they dry much faster after washing because you separate the absorbent inserts from the pockets for laundering. That means you don't have to have as many of them (if you hang them to dry) and/or you don't have to run your dryer for as many cycles.

For us, I chose the BumGenius 4.0 one-size pocket diapers. I purchased a few of them from, a few were given to me as gifts (the advantage of Target is that you can put them on your baby registry!), and the bulk I ordered from . They retail for about $19 per diaper, but I've bought them for as little as $12 per diaper on clearance. It's an expensive initial investment (you need about 24 diapers to make sure you don't run out while you're doing laundry), but given that you save about $1500 to $2000 over the diapering life of your child by choosing cloth, it's well worth it. They come in two closure types, snaps and hooks-n-loops (i.e. velcro) -- I discovered that the hooks-n-loops fit my baby better than the snaps (she has a big belly and skinny little legs). However, most folks I've spoken with prefer the snaps due to their better durability. But I'm only going to have one baby to get through with this diaper stash, and am perfectly capable of replacing velcro strips if I need to, so this will work out just fine for us.

Here's how they work: You pull out the inserts and unsnap all of the snaps to launder. Here's a pocket and an insert with none of the snaps fastened -- this accommodates the largest babies and will be how we'll use them when Rosebud is much, much bigger.

We launder our diapers at night -- we run them through the washer with a pre-wash cycle and an extra rinse cycle (our front-loader can be programmed to accommodate the extra cycles, it adds about 25 minutes to the regular cycle), then the inserts go into the dryer (normal cycle) just before bed, and the pockets get hung on a drying rack. By morning both are dry and ready to be assembled for that day's use. I put them together while I nurse Rosebud in bed when she first wakes up in the morning.

The first thing I do is to snap all the snaps to the right size. This is at the smallest setting currently (and will be for awhile) on both the pocket and the insert. Snapping all the pocket and inserts takes about two or three minutes.

Then I stuff the inserts into the pockets. This takes a little longer, but I can get them all stuffed in about 15 to 20 minutes. I'm stuck in bed anyway while Rosebud nurses, so it doesn't really matter.

After a diaper is stuffed it looks like this, then I fold it up like in that first picture above and stack them all in a bin. Then they are ready to be grabbed and used, just like a disposable.

One more thing, just before putting a diaper on her, we lay a Mio disposable liner inside the diaper. (They come in packs of 160 for about $9, we bought ours from This liner catches the major poopy chunks and can be lifted and thrown out, leaving the diaper ready for laundering without any other treatment. (And with WAY less trash generated than tossing out a disposable diaper.) This is what makes the whole thing really doable and simple, and is what convinced me that we really CAN cloth diaper despite such a busy on-the-go lifestyle. I just stash the dirty diapers in a waterproof bag, then turn the bag inside out into the washer (and toss the bag inside too) at laundry time.

Cloth diapering saves money, it's healthier for the baby (no icky chemicals in the diapers), and it's better for the environment.

And they come in such scrumptious colors, too:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

my valentine

game day

Our Monday Homeschool Classes group held a games day this past Monday. The kids were welcome to bring in games to share with their friends. Above, J teaches Laurel and D how to play "Splice," which is a pirate card game. Below, Zoo Boy teaches some friends how to play "Carcassonne," one of his favorite games.

Rosebud's too young for games, but she got a good share of lovin', here from my friend Laura:

After wrapping up all the games, the kids spent the rest of our time building with Keva blocks, always a popular activity with this group:

Monday, February 13, 2012

a few quick updates

So I've been waiting to post an update until I have some more awake photos of Rosebud, but if I really do wait for that, I many never post again, so you're getting what you're getting and you'll just have to be happy about it! She's cute, even when you can't see her eyes.

But when you CAN, she's a rootin' tootin' smilin' little thing. Which of course makes taking photos of her really difficult (especially when the camera doesn't cooperate). Here's Rosebud in her "super happy place" -- her changing table. She just loves hanging out there, "talking" to the nice dark railings that make a great contrast against the white refrigerator. Seriously, this changing table is the number one best thing we got for her:

She started smiling over the past few days, and tracking stuff with her eyes, which means she's taking in everything around her. She discovered cats yesterday and thinks they're pretty cool. She loves looking at and being with other kids (she can already tell they are way more fun than adults). And she loves being a part of anything her brothers are.

Speaking of her brothers, I've got some updates stuff on them too.

J was indeed offered a spot in the ABT summer young dancer program (which is a pretty big deal), but there was no scholarship offer (I'm not even sure they do scholarships at the younger dancer level), and we sadly can't afford to send him without one, so we'll have to turn that opportunity down. He also decided, at the last minute, not to participate in chorus this semester -- he's just worried that as rehearsals start to pile up near the performances (which are back to back weekends) that it'll be too stressful to have to miss a rehearsal at dance to attend one for chorus, and vice versa. I think it's a good decision, and I'm not sad not to have to run him to one more activity, but I am sad that he won't be doing any formal music this semester. (He's still not interested in re-starting piano lessons.)

Above is a "mystery dungeon" the kids built. This goes along with a video game Zoo Boy (and J too, apparently) is playing on his DS -- they decided to build a "real life" mystery dungeon for their Pokemon characters to play on. I love that they bring their "virtual" games into more of a real life format. They do this with the Star Wars game they play on J's Wii also, with lots of jumping around and swordplay.

We're in the middle of our "skills block" but are also just starting work on their Science Fair project, which I'll be blogging about at some point, I'm sure. We'll keep on course with this schooling format through the end of February, then shift into a short block on Maple Sugaring (and all the science and history type stuff that goes along with that) before starting up with our Haudenosaunee cultural block in mid-March.

Now if we'd just get some snow before this winter isn't winter anymore! We've had exactly ONE day of sledding this season, and the lake still hasn't frozen over yet. It's just not right!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

oh, well, there's always next year!

Despite Rosebud (and all of us!) dressing up and cheering her little heart out, our beloved Patriots still lost to the evil Giants. This next photo sums up how we all felt at the end of the game:

J actually had a really hard time with this loss. But we had a good discussion about what being a fan is all about, and how as disappointed as we all are, there are 30 other teams' worth of fans whose teams didn't even make it to the Superbowl. I think it was a good learning experience for him. (Though, let's face it, I still would have preferred if we'd won....)

We did clean up on our family's Superbowl pool, though, so hey, it's not all bad! ;)

Monday, February 6, 2012


We took Rosebud out visiting for the first time this weekend. We visited friends:

And we visited lots of family. Like Grandma:


Mimi and Grampy:

More cousins:

Brothers got some photo opportunities with their sister too:

And of course we all had to pose for pictures:

I tell you, all that visiting is just exhausting when you're only 3 weeks old:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

fitting a baby into the daily rhythm

The kids started back to our regular schoolday rhythms last week, and the Map Man went back to work this week, so we're pretty well into the swing of things again, although the boys are working in a "practice" block that doesn't require much in the way of energy or time from me. Good thing, too, because you really DO forget how much time caring for a newborn takes!

I thought I'd jot down a few notes about how integrating Rosebud into our schooling rhythms is working out, for those that might be interested. (And I figured a few more pictures of the darlin' would be nice for the rest of you!)

Our day starts at 7:30 -- I wake Zoo Boy up (J gets up on his own at some point before 7, not sure when actually, because I personally am still asleep until 7!), and both boys get dressed and go out and do their chores. J feeds the pony, goes across the street to take care of the neighbor's chickens (his "paying" job), then returns here to let the ducks out of their shed for the day. Meanwhile, Zoo Boy feeds the goats, opens up the chicken coop for the day, and collects the eggs. Then they both take care of their rabbits, and come back into the house. They then have an hour or so to play -- by then I've fed and changed Rosebud, and I deposit her in a bouncy seat in their bedroom to hang out with them while I take put the dogs out and take a shower. She finds her brothers so entertaining that most days she's happy to stay with them while I cook breakfast, but on those few days where she's had enough before breakfast is ready, she joins me in the kitchen until breakfast is served (she loves hanging out on her changing table, which is in the kitchen, so she's safely out of the way of hot things). Then I nurse her again while I eat, and she generally naps nearby while I prepare the kids' worksheets for the day.

When the kids are done eating, they brush their teeth, then come pick up their worksheets. They are doing practice work with Language Arts (synonyms and antonyms, prefixes and suffixes, and defining words by context) and Math (long addition and long subtraction, word problems, and measurement). It takes them about 45 minutes to complete 6 worksheets each morning. We then work on a bit of multiplication (I'm very gently introducing the times tables and starting work on memorizing them), and then I read them a chapter from our book. This block we're reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's the perfect choice, with the winter farm setting, and with Almonzo turning 9, just like Zoo Boy is about to. The boys are really into the story, Zoo Boy keeps commenting on how much harder life was back then (he says it's hard to believe that it's a true story) and how many rules there were. I think he's fairly appreciative of how easy he's got it in comparison.

Then comes lunch, followed by free time to play until we need to leave for dance and/or karate. They'll be starting work on a Science Fair project for our Monday Homeschool Classes Science Fair starting next week (they'll have 4 weeks to complete it) -- Monday classes are currently not running, they decided not to hold the winter session, but we'll have a Science Fair meeting this coming week, then get together for some seasonal fun for the few weeks before the Science Fair. Classes will start up again mid-March-ish.

J also just started a weekly Homeschool Astronomy class being held in the planetarium at one of the "local" museums. (Zoo Boy is too young, the class is for kids 10 - 14.) Plus he will again be singing with the youth chorus that he loves for the spring season, that starts in another week. And our Science Friday co-op starts up again tomorrow. So we've got plenty of outside classes and activities on our plates.

Here's Rosebud's lot in life, every afternoon. We've been mini-van gypsies the past two weeks, since Rosebud hasn't been approved for public visiting, we've spent a lot of time sitting in the van in the parking lot while the boys are in classes. She's actually really good about all the driving around, and she doesn't seem to care if she's nursing and snuggling in a house or in a vehicle, so long as the milk is warm and Mom gives her plenty of kisses. It's certainly wearing a little thin on me, however, and I'll be quite relieved to be able to just take her inside with me at the various studios, etc, starting next week. (We're cheating and starting tomorrow, actually....technically today is the 2 week mark, and I'm going to stick by that!) Then everyone who's been asking can finally meet her at last! She's going to have a busy weekend as she attends a couple of "coming out" parties at relatives' houses so that everyone who's dying to see her can.

So anyway, that's what life is like for us! I feel like we've transitioned a baby into our lives fairly seamlessly. Life is good. Very VERY good!