Happy 2nd Birthday, Sweet Girl!

Photos from my daughter’s 2nd birthday–we went to a state park about 40 miles away, and then returned home to attend the opening night of our county fair. Both had free admission–so, minus the gas used to get to and from, our birthday shenanigans didn’t cost anything! And we saw a blimp!!

DSC_0140

DSC_0186

DSC_0196

DSC_0212

DSC_0221

DSC_0236

DSC_0252

The Kids’ First Bike Ride, and a Recipe for Crescent Tarts

Yesterday, my children went out for their first bike ride. We took them up to the parking lot of the local middle school–my five year old on his new bike (was a Christmas present), and my toddler on her “new” (used) tricycle.

It didn’t quite go as planned. My son kept insisting that his bike pedals were broken, when in reality, it was user error, and my little girl felt it was more fun to push her trike than to actually ride it. But, one positive–they both loved their helmets. The baby didn’t want to take hers off until bedtime!

Here are some pics from our evening, and below them, I’m posting a recipe for tarts made out of crescent roll dough (another adventure from yesterday).

DSC_0376

 

DSC_0379

Crescent Roll Tarts

On Pinterest, I saw this recipe (originally using Nutella), and I amended it to accommodate different fillings, as you will see below.

You will need:

-two rolls of crescent roll dough (with 8 crescents in each)

-cinnamon and sugar, mixed together for dipping

-desired filling (we used Nutella for half of them, and raspberries and cream cheese for the others)

Preheat oven to package directions. Prepare baking sheet according to package also. Unroll each crescent. Place a small spoonful of Nutella in the center of the unrolled crescent, or a spoonful of any other desired filling. For example, we used cubed cream cheese and a quart of raspberries in one batch (the raspberries were sweetened with a half cup sugar prior to use).

Roll up each crescent until the filling is covered, and a small tart is formed. Dip tart in cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake according to package instructions.

Our Cloth Diapering Story

376828_10101439375482049_135964064_n

When I had my first child, cloth diapering really wasn’t in my lexicon. I live in a relatively rural area, and no one locally was using or selling cloth diapers, to my knowledge. I didn’t see blogs or Facebook posts advocating cloth diapering. The only knowledge I had of cloth diapers at that time was the image of a 1960s mother pinning a white tea towel onto her baby’s bottom. If someone out there was using something different, I was ignorant to it.

Flash forward about three years, and I had another little baby, and cloth diapering was all the rage. Advocates praised its cost effectiveness, its compatibility with sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle choices, the “cute factor” that “fluff” gives to babies. These same individuals made a lot of claims about monetary savings, health benefits (better for baby’s sensitive skin, less exposure to harmful chemicals and materials compared to disposable diapers), how the energy usage in production and laundering of cloth diapers pales in comparison to the damage that disposables do to the environment.

I listened to these with a mixture of interest and skepticism–I’m usually pretty wary of anyone who claims they have a magic cure for various ailments and issues. However, I realized that our family was heading in a direction where we were at least attempting to make more conscientious and sustainable choices in our lives, and we were desperately looking for ways to become more frugal and less reliant on big box stores and shopping malls.

I would contemplate making “the switch” from disposable diapers to cloth, and I was met with a couple of obstacles. First, the initial cost was daunting. Often, modern cloth diapers (which are WAY different now that that 1960s mama I mentioned earlier) are rather pricey, at $15-30 a pop, and when I did the math, I figured I would need at least 20 diapers, maybe more, depending on my little girl’s age at the time.

Second, my husband was very nervous about taking the plunge. He’s not as into the “hype” surrounding the “green” craze, and he was even more worried about the cost involved. Plus, we rarely struggled with diaper rash, and we had resources for cheap disposable diapers via discount stores and warehouse clubs, so, in his mind, and even mine, why rock the boat?

When my toddler was 20 months old, I had the opportunity to snag a small stash of pocket diapers at a discounted price, so, with the hubby’s blessing, I decided to try cloth diapering on a part time basis. I was so nervous. I felt like I was taking some huge dive off of a cliff–when you’re a parent, and something works, and it keeps you and your baby happy (and sleeping well!), you’re nervous doing anything that might break routines.

66881_10101381748926129_1677776422_n

Fast forward three months later, and we’re still rocking the cloth diapers. We’ve added to our stash, and we’re at just under 30 diapers. A vast majority of our diapers are pocket diapers, cloth diaper waterproof shells that have inserts that you can stuff into the cover and customize to your baby’s needs. We do have a few prefolds and covers, and we have an “all in two” (where the inserts are attached to the shell, with no need to stuff), but I have found we really prefer pockets. We’ve tried almost all of the “cloth diaper safe” detergents and have spent a pretty penny finding one that eliminates diaper stink, and after all that, we ended up using “unsafe” powdered Tide, with great results (each person’s needs are different, and many can ONLY use the CD safe detergents, per diaper warranties and sensitive skin issues). We have experimented with diaper creams and different types of liners. We have realized we must still use disposables at night and during long travels, as that is the only way to enable our Princess to sleep through the night or to stand riding in a car seat. But the most important lesson that I have learned is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing–we started very late in the game (20 months of age), we only cloth diaper part time, and that some things work for some families, and some don’t. And I think, had I known that lesson earlier, we might have started cloth diapering sooner!

431936_10101479085782289_1489683386_n

A Fraud

My dream/goal with this blog is to someday build it up to be a resource for others who want to become more frugal and self reliant in their lives and families. I envision a database where readers can come to find ways to save money, find bargains, research home remedies, discover new recipes–to get inspired. Someday, I might even have an online store that sells some of my favorite products to help accomplish some of the goals that my blog promotes.

But, above all else, my dream with my blog is to become a place for others to come to know that they are not alone in their struggles with marriage, parenting, finances, accomplishing goals, and so forth. Blogs have helped me in my darkest hours by becoming a place to go when I feel I have nowhere else, no one else who understands, and I have been eternally grateful for the words of others.

And yet, sometimes, I feel like a fraud, a fake, a phony.

The thoughts that run through my head….

Who am I to discuss successful tips for parenting? I scream at my children ALL. THE. TIME. I have even spanked my oldest. I use bribery. I sometimes wonder what I have gotten myself into. Our house is so not as babyproof as it ought to be. My five year old picked up a swear word. I suffered from postpartum depression with my oldest. I failed at breastfeeding and fed my children soy formula. They eat too much junk food.

Who am I to sing the praises of marriage, and how could I ever be someone who could ever offer advice? My husband and I have gone to counseling. We have our own struggles. We argue, and we don’t always see eye to eye. We’ve had moments where we wondered where we ought to go from here.

Who am I to pretend we’re eating better? Sure, maybe we have a CSA and are eating more produce, but I could never get rid of my comfort foods. My son only wants to eat chicken McNuggets and fries. And we eat out way too often.

Speaking of eating out way too often, why do I pretend I am frugal? I am swimming, heck, drowning in debt. I sometimes wonder if I might have a slight shopping addiction. I try to budget and fail. I have to borrow money from my in laws at every turn, or so it seems. My husband suggests I teach classes on stockpiling and bargain hunting, but how could I do that knowing someone might find out we’re massively in debt? That would make me a fraud, and I shouldn’t do it. Not to mention, I don’t know how to can anything without help, and I can’t make a successful loaf of bread on my own. We’re too reliant on Walmart and boxed mixes to ever pretend we’re self reliant.

I’m not eco-friendly. We don’t even recycle. Who am I kidding? We cloth diaper 50% of the time, and still use disposables at night and at travel. We waste so much and produce so much trash. Why do I even admit that I try?

These are often the thoughts that run through my head on sleepless nights.

How do I share these worthwhile concepts–self reliance, frugality, sustainability, more conscientious parenting, advice for marriages and families–where I feel like such a failure, a fraud, sometimes?

I think that part of this is the realization that these things take time, even when I’m not willing or able to admit it. I will never, ever tell you I am perfect. I want this blog to be the chronicle of a journey, and with every journey, there are moments where we get lost, or stumble along the way. I stumble and fall–a lot. But, if nothing else, I am trying, and it is my hope that you read this and feel that you’re not alone in pursuing your own goals and hopes in your life and in your moments of imperfection.