People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Monday, June 16, 2008

A swampy adventure...

I think we need to change our middle names to "adventure". Or maybe to "crazy"?
When I said that we should take a walk this evening, I didn't mean through a swamp. No, really, I didn't.

So, me, Emily, and The Beast accompanied Tony on another adventure. Thankfully, this one was not spider filled. It was actually cool... I have to admit. We went through one of those state areas that are protected... a state park of sorts. It's all wooded, like a mini jungle. So, we followed the first "trail", which is really a river when it's not a gazillion degrees out. There were tons of little frogs, which was a dream come true for Emily. She loves frogs. She tried to catch them, but they were too quick ... even for her. She did manage to catch one, and let it go in a safer spot.

Anyway, we walked and walked .... oh, about 300 miles.... when we came to a swamp. It was all swamp. There were two ways to go... forward, or back. So, we moved forward. Tony asked me if this was too much for me.... for me? No way. So, I walked through the swamp. It stunk, and I wondered what might be lurking... but it wasn't bad. The Beast, on the other hand, decided that he would go no further. If you know anything about Basset Hounds, you konw that when they decide that they aren't going, they aren't. You can tug and pull all you want... they are not moving. By the time we had walked several yards in stinky water up to my knees, we had to turn around.

We turned around and walked back, then took the other "trail". Thankfully, no swamps on this one. We walked along, and it was very pretty. We walked along a river, saw more frogs, saw trees and just a general beauty all around. We got to a part of the lake and walked up on an egret nesting ground. They were huge, and white, and noisy. They are absolutely beautiful. I stood in awe for a bit, just watching them.

We were watching the egrets when Tony asked Emily if she liked this adventure. Her reply was, "When I grow up, I'm going to take better care of my kids. I'll never let them near a place like this." We thought that was pretty funny. As we walked back, the forested areas were getting pretty dark and we could see fireflies. Emily got quite a kick out of that.

At some point, something that sounded huge moved in the brush. It was too dark for me to see, and I have to admit to getting scared. We shined flashlights in the general area, and I imagined a large dog, lion, tiger, panther (well, okay, little exaggeration, but whatever)..... Tony insists it was an armadillo. I still think it could have been a bear or something equally frightening.

I told Tony that we would have to bring the camera next time. Yeah, I actually said, "next time" (proof that I am crazy).

(ps, it wasn't really a swamp, more of a shallow pond, but lets just call it a swamp, shall we?)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A "spider" filled adventure

I generally refuse to accompany Tony on his fishing expeditions. There is a reason for this refusal.

So, I decided to be a nice person and agree to go with him. Tony has a very strong sense of adventure. He doesn't just go to a spot on the lake and fish. He has to find the hardest spot to get to, which is exactly what he did. We had to go through some brush, move some branches aside, then scale rocks on a steep incline. I had the dog's leash in one hand, and Emily's hand in the other, so this was quite a challenge. Being the good sport that I am, I didn't complain.... I just went along with the adventure.

We finally got to the spot that he wanted to fish in. It is under a bridge, and on several large rocks. As he was fishing, I was talking to Emily and just looking around. I looked down to see a "daddy long leg" (I know they aren't really spiders, but they look like them and I'm still scared of them). Being scared of spiders (or anything that looks remotely like them), I moved away from it. When I moved away, another came up. Once again, I moved away, and once again, another came up. A few minutes later they started coming up from the rocks... thousands of them. It was like watching a nightmare. They were everywhere. Apparently, at a certain time in the early evening, they all come up from between the rocks. Me and Emily were screaming and jumping from side to side to try to keep them off of our feet. I dropped the dog's leash, grabbed Emily, and headed back to the car. At some point, me and Emily were running along when a real spider (a very large one, I might add) caught the wind and blew off of the big rock, right on to her face. She screamed and screamed and couldn't move. I picked her up and just kept running toward the car. I ran through the brush, knowing perfectly well that I was running through webs and touching real spiders.

When I got to the car, my hair was covered in spider webs. I got the shivers and they wouldn't go away. I had Emily check me over for spiders, and she didn't see any. Thank goodness! So, we sat on the trunk of the car and waited for Tony. It didn't take him long to show up, because when Emily screamed from the spider being in her face, The Beast took off running toward us. This dog is protective, and the sound of his Emily screaming was enough to bring him running to us. (I love The Beast!) On the drive home, I brushed a spider off of my leg. No big deal, really... though I was finished with spiders. As luck would have it, I ended up with a nice spider bite on my upper thigh. It already has a black center and a rash around it. Yuck. (It is not a brown recluse bite, though. No worries. I've had one of those and they are very painful. This one does not hurt, and is already healing, despite the black middle.)

I think me and Emily are done with adventures for a while (I always say that, and I always go on the next one)...

For more info on the "Daddy Long Leg", click here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Emily says...

I decided to keep a regular spot here for my "Emily-isms".

"I mean, this Easter bunny thing is kinda creepin me out. He just breaks into our house while we're sleeping?"

I was telling her that her martial arts place is having another tournament. So, she said, "I might do it. If I won, would you buy me a piece of wood..(pause) or a cactus?" ---ps, don't most kids ask for things like candy and necklaces?


"That's the wasp that stung the f*ck out of you!" Me: "Emily, don't say that word." Emily: "But (insert name here) told me that I can't say heck or hell." -- so apparently she figures if she can't say heck or hell, f*ck is a good substitute.


 "Mom, you know what my favorite things in the whole world are? You and water."

 "People say that I can't dig a hole to China, and I know that, I get it! But I *can* dig a hole that still goes back to Texas. Okay? I mean, really, I can just dig a hole, it doesn't have to go to China or something."


"Mommy, for my birthday, I want cool things like toasters, vacuums and things.  I don't want baby things like toys."


We were driving home and saw an animal on the side of the road. Emily asked if it was dead, and I said that I was pretty sure it was. She said, "we should go back and poke it with a stick"


"Mom, don't you wish that birds had a thing where when they lose a feather, another bird finds it and puts it in a special place - like a lost and found for birds - so they can find their feathers?"


"You know what I am? I'm a martial arts princess!"


"I'm so happy I brushed my teeth! When I didn't brush my teeth, my cheeks never looked so healthy. Now ...they look healthy and my chin looks healthy too."


"Socks make my toes get mad at my feet. That's why I don't like socks, mom."


"Mom, Kroger must make a lot of money, cause they are right by martial arts." ---- so now we know where all Kroger's business comes from!


Emily has been obsessed with having a salt water tank. So, we set up one of our tanks for her to put some live rock in. She wants me to look up all possible information on saltwater aquariums for her. So she said, "Mom, I need to tell you, though: Having a tank is a big responsibility."


Mom, daddy said he doesn't have any money. Why doesn't he have any money when he works all the time? Do you take it all away from him? 

"mom, I'm trying to be like a ninja"


We were in the kitchen and she was asking me about why I decided not to be vegetarian anymore (after years and years of being one). I was explaining, so she thought a moment and said, "okay, I'm going to be a vegetarian from now on." She sat there for about 15 seconds and said, all desparately, "oh maaaan, I just can't handle it anymore! Okay, I won't be a vegetarian."


I'm not sure you'll ever hear this from any other kid: "Mom, can I please do more school work? I wanna do more school work tonight."


I was sitting here pretending to hear and know what Emily was saying. Apparently she had asked me some sort of question pertaining to whatever it was she was talking about. I think she may have repeated her question a few times, and each time I answered with "mmmm hmmm" as though I were listening. All of a sudden, she says, "Mom, focus!"


"mom, I can't imagine what it would be like not to like science. I mean, look at the sky: It's white. That's no big deal, the sky is white. But if you like science, you think 'why is the sky white?' and that's science. You wonder why about everything, even things that people don't think about."

Tony was saying that he's getting fat, so Emily said, "no daddy, you're not fat!  You just weigh a lot."

Mommy, when I grow up, I'm going to have 30 acres of land and I'm going to have a little house or a big house.  You won't like the smell of my house, though, because I'm going to have a lot of animals.  And, when I grow up, will you be a good grandma for my kids?  You have to have a house with an apple tree for my kids.  They need an apple tree.  

Emily was telling me that she liked it when I did certain things and wanted to know what I liked her to do. So, I said, "I like it when you..." and started laughing and laughing (while rolling on the floor). After a couple of times doing this, she tried to complete the sentence for me, only instead of saying "laugh", she said very seriously, "control yourself?".

Emily was on the playground and a little boy pushed her down to get to something before her, so she came up to me and said, "Mom? I think that boy's mom forgot to explain to him that girls can be tough." She acted very concerned.

We were playing the wii when I said, "Oh man, I suck at this game!" Emily came and whispered in my ear, "Mom, you're supposed to say I CAN DO IT. You get better at it if you just practice. Don't say you suck, just practice."

"I don't want people to look at me and see a girl who loves pink and all that girlie stuff. I want them to see me and think I'm tough and dusty." - I call her Princess Tough and Dusty now.

Before eating her dinner: "Wait a minute. Does this have any hydrogenated oils in it?"

Said to our friend (who isn't fond of exercise): "I call your butt your anchor."

Emily talking to her friend - "don't go in the garage, I have a demon cat living in there." Her friend - "but your mom is in there" Emily - "yeah, my mom is evil, she can go in there"

While we were driving in the car, there was a fly buzzing around. Emily suddenly said, "Somebody needs to Obama that fly!"

"Mom, don't tell daddy this cause he won't want to have another girl, but when I was outside, I was holding a black widow just for fun. I saw a black spider with a big ball for its butt (abdomen), so I was petting it, then I held it and it was a black widow. But don't worry mom, it didn't bite me or anything." --- probably shouldn't let her be outside without me, huh?

"Mommy, I found a way to watch movies even when I'm not allowed to, and I can't even get in trouble for it!" I sat there with a confused look, "how?" Emily: "I just watch them in my head!"

This was completely random: "Mommy, if you have been looking for a mountain made out of candy, where the trees are even candy, you won't be able to find it. You have to make it yourself. If you really want something like that, you have to just make it, because you won't just find it."

Emily: Mom, what is it that makes babies smell so good? Me: Hmmm, I dunno. They do smell good, don't they? Emily: Maybe it's a scent that makes humans not want to eat their babies?

I was taking a shower one day (I do that sometimes). Emily walked in to tell me something, and there was this long pause. All of a sudden, she pipes up and says, "Wow, it's like washing an elephant."

While on an adventure where we walked through a swamp (well, a shallow river or something, anyway) and some wooded areas... "When I grow up, I'm going to take better care of my kids. I'll never let them around a place like this."

I told Christopher that he was being difficult. Emily pipes up with, "I told you to get rid of him, mom!"

"I love you so much mommy! I love you even with short hair and no matter what shirt you're wearing." ~Emily

Emily: "Mom, you know what the grass is?"
Me: "What is the grass?"
Emily: "The Earth's hair"
Emily: "You know what lava is?"
Me: "No, what is lava?"
Emily: "The Earth's blood."
Emily: "You know what mountains are?"
Me: "What are they?"
Emily: "The Earth's goosebumps! I can't believe you don't know that, mommy!"

Emily does this thing... every now and then, just out of the blue, she'll pop up and say, "mom?" and I HAVE to say, "yes Emily?" and she'll say, "I like you." And I've just been all sentimental about it. So, she says to me the other day, "Sometimes I just say I like you because I forgot what I was going to tell you or I don't know what to say."

When she purchased one of those scented car air fresheners for me, she opened it, smelled it, and said, "Mom, do you like the smell of chemically vanilla?"

Of Emily, remodeling, bread pets, and other stuff...

Once again, it's been a while since I wrote in this blog, and I apologize for that. A few friends have asked that I blog more often, so I will try.

So what is going on in our household? Well... too much to even write about, of course! I'm never bored.

At the moment, we are doing a restroom remodel. Tony thinks that we are only replacing the tub, but we will actually replace the flooring and sink, etc as well. We already replaced the
toilet. But the tub.... oh, the tub! First off, I picked out one of those bath surrounds to put in there instead of tile. The surrounds they have now look really nice. Had I not seen them at Lowes, I would have never been open to the idea of having plastic panels around my tub instead of nice tile. Really, though... they look nice.

Now, one has to realize that our restroom is tiny. I can sit on the toilet and lean one way to wash my hair in the tub and the other way to wash my hands in the sink. No, I haven't actually done this, but I really think I could if I wanted to.

So, realizing how tiny our restroom is, you can only imagine how fun it was to maneuver a tub out of there. It took us hours....
literally hours. Before we even played with the idea of taking the tub out, we knocked the rest of the tiles down, to take the drywall out and replace it with duralock (isn't that what it's called? It's like drywall, but for places like around a shower). As it turns out, the builders who slapped this place up used drywall instead of something graded for a tub, tile, and water. The result of this wackjob was mold and disintegrated drywall.

As all home repairs go, once we started doing one thing, we found another thing we would have to do. So, we started out with replacing a tub. This seems like something where you would pull a tub out and put another i
n its place, right? But it's not. Now, we have to replace the plumbing, the drywall, and the flooring. As it turned out, we also had a leak, resulting in standing water under the tub, that seeped under the linoleum on a pretty constant basis, creating a disaster that we didn't know was there. We have an amazing amount of work to do in such a tiny room. We are do-it-yourselfers, so we will be doing it all ourselves. What an adventure!

And, in other news.... Emily is officially registered for kindergarten! She starts this Fall. I'm excited, nervous, and overwhelmed. She is such a free-spirited and strong little chica.... I hope that she isn't forced into a different mold. I love who she is and want her to be "her" forever. She's funny, smart, witty, strong, and so much more. She's the silly little girl who loves to surprise me. For a while, she was having a hard time counting past 15. So, I told her that when she can count to 20, we would go buy another webkinz. She looked at me with that little stinker smile and said, "Okay, okay... 1234......20". She counted to 20 perfectly. So, on the way to pick up a webkinz, I was telling her how happy I was that she can count to 20 so perfectly now and that I would buy her a webkinz for each 10 more that she counts. So, she let out a long sigh, with that smile that I know all too well, and counted to 50. Those things are expensive! I certainly didn't expect to buy 4 in the same day. Later she told me, "Mom, I can't tell you the things that I know because I have to keep it a secret until the right time to tell you." I know what she's getting at.

Being the tricky little mom that I am, I said, "What? nut-uh. Like what? I know ever
ything you can do!" So, she proceeded to count to 100. Ahhhh, so she has that all figured out! Now, she's doing addition, subtraction, and simple multiplication, and being able to get past 20 is very helpful in practicing these skills.

When she was an early 5, we were in the grocery store. She was in the cart sorting the yogurts (we buy a lot of yogurt) into piles. I noticed that she was counting the piles, but just went about my shopping business. After a few minutes, she said, "Mom, I know what two twos is! Four. I know what two threes is! Six. I know what three threes are! Nine." She just went on and on with this. I was completely shocked.

She can read 3 letter words as well. The other day, I told Christopher, "you should come in here and hear how well your sister is reading now!" and Emily responded, "Yeah, Chris.... B-R-A-T brrrrat!". I never thought we would have sibling rivalry he
re, but apparently there is a little bit of it. Of course, we all got a huge laugh at her new found skills. If you've ever watched the movie, Roger Rabbit, Emily reminds me of a line in that movie.... When Valiant says, "You mean you could've taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?" and Roger responds, "No, not at any time, only when it was funny!"

Speaking of funny, Emily has a new thing. Hopefully this is a normal phase they go through. She likes us to buy baquette (long, hard, thin loaves of brea
d) for her. She doesn't eat them, they are her pets. She has a toy dog leash that she will put on one and walk it around, take it places with her, and take care of it. We have affectionately named these pets, "Bread Pett". So, when this phase first started, Tony was completely unaware. Who would have ever thought that the bread on the table was actually a pet? So, he came home from work, and a loaf of bread was the only thing on the table. As any person would do, he walked over and tore off part of the bread and started eating it. Emily walked in and completely melted in to tears. As she was sobbing, I was trying to explain to Tony, who had a look of utter confusion. So, I went and got Emily another "Bread Pett". I came in the door with the bag of groceries and set them on the floor while I ran to the restroom. When I came out, Emily was again in tears and sobbing. The Beast had grabbed "Bread Pett" out of the bag and proceeded to take it outside, kill it, and eat it.

I tried to talk her into a stuffed animal, maybe? A pet that is less edible might be a better idea, but it didn't work. So, once again, I picked up a "Bread Pett" and instructed everybody to make sure "Bread Pett" did not get harmed in any way.

And last, but not least, the butterflies. We love science here, so Emily got a cool thing called a butterfly tent from Nonna as a gift. It came with live caterpillars! We followed all instructions, and our caterpillars made their chrysalids, then came out as beautiful Painted Lady butterflies! We kept them for a week, then released them in our garden. It was an amazing experience for all of us, and every time we see a Painted Lady, we say it is one of her butterflies. I managed to get a decent photo of one of the butterflies after it had been "hatched" for about 3 hours. They stay in one spot, with crumpled wings, for about 2 hours, then start flying. We learned a ton of stuff about butterflies that I never knew, and had a great time taking care of them. When we would go in the tent, if we sat still, they would come over and land on us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A cloth diapering FAQ...

I'm working on my FAQ today. Here's the link to it on my cart. Please feel free to share the link with others: FAQ Link in my store, click here
It's still under construction, but I think I have it pretty well started. Since Emily pulled an all-nighter last night, I worked on my FAQ until I could actually go to bed. Here is what I have so far:

How many diapers do I need?

How many diapers you need really depends on how often you plan to wash, and how many you want to buy. A newborn baby will pee every 30 minutes toan hour. For a newborn, I tend to either keep them naked on top of a prefold, or keep them in a wool diaper with an absorbent cotton or bamboo liner, so that I only have to change the liner every 30 minutes or so. I try to never, ever leave them in a wet diaper, as their skin is so delicate and sensitive.... and they deserve to be comfortable.

If money is an issue, I recommend purchasing two dozen infant prefolds (unbleached Chinese or Indian prefolds). Do not bother with cheapo prefolds... get the good ones, as they are pretty low cost anyway, and work so much better you'll be happy you got them.

If money is no issue, have fun and purchase as many diapers as you want.When you are done, you can sell them or pass them down.

If money is only a slight issue, I would purchase a dozen fitted diapers and a dozen infant prefolds, a few wool covers, and maybe 2 All In One or Pocket diapers. Really, it depends on how much money you want to spend, what kind of diapers you want, and how often your baby pees and poops.

Many toddlers will wait 2-3 hours between pees. For these children, a dozen diapers is plenty.

Another thing to consider is whether you plan to change during the night. I always changed my children's diapers through the night. I found that they slept better in a clean, dry diaper. For this reason, I had to calculate how often they peed during the day, and how often I changed during the night.

I always keep at least 6 prefold diapers on hand. This is great for times when baby has an upset tummy,or when you aren't able to wash diapers. The more the merrier, I always say.

How do you wash cloth?

There are as many answers to this question as there are cloth diapers. I'll give the basic guidelines:

Rinse poopy diapers off with a sprayer to get rid of the solids. Solids should be flushed whether you are using cloth or paper diapers (read the package of paper diapers and it does say to dispose of poop in the toilet) You can store the cloth diapers in a diaper pail, or you could try my little trick -

After doing laundry for the day, early in the morning, I make sure my washing machine is empty. Through the day, when I change a diaper, I throw it in the washing machine. At the end of the day, I turn the machine on just a rinse cycle on cold, with some baking soda and dawn dish soap in it (just a small squirt). Once the rinse cycle is done, I do a regular wash cycle with my favorite powdered laundry detergent. I use about half the amount called for on the box,and use hot water. Once they are finished, I hang them to dry on my drying rack that I have inside my house. They hang there over night,and go in the dryer for a few minutes in the morning to finish drying, kill any germies that may be lurking, and fluff them up to their regular softness.

Do not use any bleach, unless absolutely necessary, as it will break down your fabric and elastic.
Do not boil your diapers, for the same reason.
It's best to wash your diapers on the gentle cycle of your machine, as this will help the elastic and fabric last longer.
The less time they spend in a dryer, the better for the elastic.
Liquid detergents do tend to leave a buildup, which isn't great on diapers.
Do not use fabric softener, but you can use some vinegar in the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener.
I highly recommend washing your diapers daily. The longer they sit in urine, the more your fabric will break down, and the more your diapers will stink. The more they stink, the harder they are to get clean. For me, throwing a load in every evening is very easy, since I don't have to hand wash them or anything. (and I have done that, by the way)
Although you may find many people online who have huge, complicated washing routines with their diapers, this is not necessary. Using cloth diapers can be simple and fairly easy. You might even find that you prefer it.

I've seen cloth diapering items that are wool. Isn't wool scratchy and itchy?

Some wool is. There is no simple answer to this question. Many cloth diaper makers have worked specially with fabric millers to mill soft wool. Most wool used for cloth diapers is purchased for its softness, and is therefore not scratchy or itchy. Many times, over processed wool will be scratchy, or wool that has been stripped of its lanolin. Sometimes over felted wool is uncomfortable, but sometimes wool that is not felted at all is scratchy. Your professional diaper makers take special care to make sure they felt the wool just right, and find wool that is nice and soft. Wool yarn does not need to be felted, and most knit wool items are not scratchy or itchy. Your professional diaper cover knitters take special care to find wool yarn that is super soft, not over processed, and perfect for cloth diaper covers. In short..... the wool used for cloth diapering should not be itchy or scratchy.

Why do my cloth diapers leak after a few hours?

Many people have gotten used to the idea of a paper diaper that has "super absorbent polymers" These polymers absorb the liquids and keep the diaper from leaking. Although many people have gotten used to keeping a disposable diaper on a child for hours at a time, it can't be comfortable, or healthy. When using cloth, one has to let go of the concept of the diaper lasting for hours, and change the baby when they are wet or soiled. Just as we don't want to have our own urine or feces against our skin for hours, our babies don't either. In short... change more often.

I've heard moms saying that a diaper only lasted 15 minutes? Does that mean that it isn't absorbent?

No. In order to understand why a diaper would be wet and need changed 15 minutes after putting it on, we need to first understand how babies pee and poop. A baby is not like a slow drip faucet. Rather than having urine or feces constantly leaking, they wait until the urge hits, then let it all out at once. When a diaper only lasts 15 minutes, this simply means that the baby peed or pooped 15 minutes after the diaper was changed. This is a good sign that the baby sat in the previous diaper for a while after soiling it, and might be a good sign that he/she needs changed more often. While some babies may hold their urine for 3 hours, then flood the diaper, others may actually urinate every 30 minutes. It's important to check often and get to know your baby's habits. This will help to avoid a diaper rash.

Is it really better for the environment to use cloth diapers?

It is. I would urge you to read this very informative article, in order to save me from having to write a looooong dissertation on this.

Is it more economical to use cloth?

Well, it can be. This really depends on how you cloth diaper. If you want the super fancy materials, like bamboo and organics, it will only be slightly less money in the short term. In the long term, however, you are able to re-sell those diapers and recoup some of your costs, or pass them down to the next child. There is no simple answer to this question. If you want to cloth diaper for economical reasons, it is easy to do. You can purchase prefolds and a few covers. Nice prefolds do not cost very much. I highly recommend unbleached cotton. They can be found on ebay, or by doing a simple search online. Many people are not cloth diapering for economical reasons, and they prefer the super boutique cloth diapers. This is a good thing, as it keeps the small businesses in business, makes cloth diapering fun, and makes the world a prettier place.

Why are cloth diapers so expensive?

Not *all* cloth diapers are expensive. If you are looking for materials like organic bamboo velour, organic cotton, etc, they are expensive. Let's do a small cost breakdown: I purchase bamboo velour for $11 per yard. Then, I have to wash and dry this bamboo a few times to shrink it and get the stuff off of it that was used to process it, etc. This uses some energy and water, that I have to pay for. It costs me about $6 in fabric to make your diaper, but I have to buy snaps, thread, needles, maintain machinery, pay for web hosting and cart hosting, pay for shipping materials, pay paypal fees in order to accept credit cards, and the list goes on. By the time I add all of this up, it costs me about $11-$15 to make your diaper. It takes me an hour to an hour and a half to make each diaper. I need to make at least minimum wage, right? And since I'm a business owner who has been doing this long enough to be considered a professional, shouldn't I make above minimum wage? And while it might take an hour to an hour and a half to make each diaper, there is still the time spent photographing the diapers, editing the background out of the photos, listing the items, answering at least 30 emails daily, sourcing fabrics, keeping an inventory of fabrics and of finished product, doing the "books", etc.

So, if you purchase hand made diapers, made with high-end materials, they can be expensive. If you go to a boutique and look for hand made clothing that is made out of high-end materials, I would guess you would be paying quite a bit more than shopping at Target for your clothing. You can use prefolds and keep the cost of cloth diapers down, but of course, it won't be quite as fun as enjoying the number of prints and dyes on high-end fabrics.

Why do so many cloth diapers come in pretty prints when you just cover them up with a diaper cover?

In short, because it's fun. If you go to Gymboree, you'll see little girls undies with pretty flowers, or ladybugs, etc. Why? Because it's fun. It is important to have fun with your infant, and enjoy even those tasks that seem so.... not fun. When you change your baby's diaper, they are focused on you, and seeing your reactions. If you open up a diaper and have a look of disgust, they see you looking at them with disgust. Ifyou open up the diaper and are smiling and enjoying your time, talking about the cute diaper you got them, kissing their cute little belly and feet... what a difference! So, if you want to buy the cute little diaper with giraffes all over it, do. Life is short, enjoy it while you're here.

Why do people use cloth diapers?

There are a few reasons why most people use cloth diapers. One of those is because it is SO much better for the environment. We are concerned about the environment and the future of our children. The impact that our choices have on the environment is important, and cloth diapering is a great choice for the environmentally conscious.

Another reason many people cloth diaper is to save money. Because cloth diapers are re-usable, you do not have to keep buying them. As a matter of fact, they can be passed down to the next child. If you spent $1,000 on cloth diapers, and those cloth diapers lasted through potty training, then on to the next kid through potty training, you have saved a great deal of money. Even using the high-end boutique diapers, you can save money in the long run.

Many people use cloth diapers for health reasons. Cloth diapers can be associated with less diaper rashes. Cloth diapers do not contain chemicals or heavy bleaches and perfumes that can irritate sensitive skin. You know those super absorbing gel beads that are in disposable diapers? They are Sodium Polyacrylate Crystals. They used to be used in women's tampons, but had to be removed because they were found to cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. And yet, we put those on our babies? Then there are the super bleaching agents used in disposable diapers. One of the by-products of that bleaching is dioxins. The archives of Disease in Childhood reports that trace amounts of dioxin are present on disposables. Dioxin is a strong carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor.

"Need more information? Not entirely convinced? Here ya go:

Study: Disposable Diapers Could Cause Male Infertility

By Anthony Browne
London Observer Service
September 26, 2000
Disposable diapers could be the cause of the sharp rise in male infertility over the past 25 years, according to an authoritative scientific study to be published this week. It is thought that disposable diapers heat up baby boys' testicles to such a degree that it stops them developing normally. Diapers lined with plastic raise the temperature of the scrotum far above body temperature and can lead to a total breakdown of normal cooling mechanisms, according to the study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Doctors in Kiel, Germany, started the study after being alarmed at the temperature of the testicles of infant boys who were brought into hospitals with infections. The cells supporting sperm production are laid down in the first two years of life. However, their development and sperm production in later life is very dependent on temperature. Testicles need to be cooler than the rest of the body, which is why they are external.
Boys whose testicles descend too late in adolescence are often infertile because they have been kept warm for too long. In adults, exposure to high temperatures, during a fever or while in a sauna, can dramatically reduce sperm count. Tight jeans can also lead to higher testicular temperatures, possibly causing a reduction in sperm count. Dr. Wolfgang Sippell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Kiel, monitored the scrotal temperature of 48 healthy boys, from birth up to 4 years old, using a tiny thermal probe. His team tested the temperatures when boys wore disposable diapers and when they wore re-usable cotton diapers, both during waking and sleeping hours. The temperature was consistently higher when the disposable diapers were worn, with the highest temperatures recorded in the youngest babies. Scrotal temperatures were the same as rectal temperatures when cotton diapers were worn, but far higher when disposable diapers were worn.

They concluded that the insulation properties of the disposable diapers impaired the normal cooling mechanisms of the testicles. They found that in 13 boys, the cooling mechanism failed altogether. Sippell concluded: "A prolonged increase in scrotal temperature in early childhood may have an important role in subsequent testicular health and function, with implications for male fertility." Repeated studies have shown that average sperm counts have fallen by almost half from 1938 levels, and are continuing to decline as fast as 2 percent a year. The Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association, which represents makers of disposable diapers, said the study had dubious methodology. Association spokesman Peter Stephenson said: "There is no evidence to support the assertions made by this study, which would appear to be implausible. The safety of our products is of paramount importance. Disposable diapers are, and remain, safe."

New Tests Confirm TBT Poison in Proctor & Gamble Pampers

Greenpeace Demands Worldwide Ban of Organotins in All Products
May 15, 2000
HAMBURG -- New tests carried out by Greenpeace found the hormone pollutant TBT (tributyl tin) in "Pampers Baby Dry Mini" babies' nappies (diapers) sold in Germany by the company Procter & Gamble. Last Friday, Greenpeace uncovered that TBT and other organotin compounds were found in Procter & Gamble's Pampers "Baby Dry", in the Paul Hartmann company's "Fixies Ultra Dry", and in Ledysan Spa's "United Colours of Benetton Junior unisex". All tests were proven by scientific analyses made on Greenpeace's behalf.
The new test, during which several parts of "Pampers Baby Dry Mini" were analyzed, found the highest contamination in the belt section of these nappies. "Pampers Baby Dry Mini" contained up to 38.4 micrograms of TBT per kilogram, a much higher level then in the first tests of a pool sample. (1) Furthermore the inner and outer layer were found to be contaminated. Greenpeace also found other organotin compounds in the Pampers, including DBT and MBT. If all discovered organotin compounds were added, a total of 53.2 micrograms per kilogram were found.
Greenpeace'sscientific test results contradict a statement by Procter & Gamble, in which the company denied that its nappies were contaminated with organotin compounds. Greenpeace toxics expert Thilo Maack said: "The reaction of Procter & Gamble is a scandal. The company is downplaying the danger instead of actively searching for the source of TBT in Pampers. It is absolutely irresponsible to expose babies to these extremely toxic substances".

"Fact is that TBT is one of the most toxic substances ever made, and it is being spread through the skin and contaminates the environment as well as people," he noted.
This environmental pollutant, which has been in the headlines for months because of its extremely high toxicity, has a hormone-like effect. The smallest concentrations of TBT can harm people's immune systems and impair their hormonal system. "The German government must ban this toxin in all areas of use immediately," says Thilo Maack. Greenpeace last January found TBT in fish for human consumption, and in March detected TBT in football shirts despite textile manufacturers declaring them safe again. TBT has furthermore recently been found in plastic PVC floorings. Witco, a company in Bergkamen/Germany, produces 80 per cent of the TBT used in the world. The smallest quantities of TBT kill algae and mussels and for that reason it is used in ships' paints to stop their growth on hulls.

Greenpeace has been calling on the chemical and ship industries to ban it production or application. There are less harmful alternatives to TBT in all the spheres in which organotin compounds are used. Greenpeace is at present analyzing other brands of nappies on sale in Germany.

Chemicals In Diapers Cited As Possible Asthma Trigger

Penny Stern, MD
October 6, 1999
NEWYORK, Oct 06 (Reuters Health) -- Childhood respiratory problems, including asthma, may be linked to inhaling the mixture of chemicals emitted from disposable diapers, researchers write in the September/October issue of Archives of Environmental Health.

Lead author Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, of Anderson Laboratories in West Hartford, Vermont, told Reuters Health that chemical emissions of some disposable diapers have immediate health effects in animals breathingthe diluted chemical mixtures. ''Upon analysis, the diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity,'' according to the paper.

"Mice were used in this study because of their general physiological and biochemical similarity to humans", Anderson explained, "adding that both humans and mice develop bronchoconstriction as a response to certain (odors and substances)". Bronchoconstriction refers to a narrowing of air passages in the lungs that is associated with respiratory difficulties.

"Upon exposing the mice to various brands of disposable diapers, a decrease was observed in the ability of the animals to move air during exhalation", Anderson said. Noting that this finding accurately describes asthma or an asthma-like reaction, she added "that if mice and humans respond in a similar manner to diaper emissions, disposable diapers could be important with respect to the worldwide asthma epidemic.''

In contrast to the results obtained with disposables, new cloth diapers produced very little respiratory effects and appeared to be the least toxic choice for a consumer, the researchers write.

"Though the disposable effect was noted even when the emissions of a single diaper are diluted in the air of a small room,'' Anderson said, she cautions that it is too early to indict diaper chemicals. "Whether the diaper chemicals initiate clinical disease, simply trigger an asthma-like response or are not implicated (at all) in human disease will not be known until after a vast amount of human data has been accumulated,'' she commented.

Therefore, Anderson believes that formal epidemiological investigations must be extended to infant products in order to evaluate these items' possible role in triggering or aggravating asthmatic conditions. She and herco-author, Dr. Julius Anderson, have (previously) published similar findings associated with other products used in infants' environments." A number of these manufactured materials -- air fresheners, mattress covers, fabric softeners -- have many rapid-onset toxic effects in common,'' she pointed out.

In Anderson's view, the current epidemic in childhood asthma cannot be explained solely on the basis of what she termed, ''the usual suspects: dust mites, cockroaches, maternal smoking". Maybe child-care products such as plastic diapers... plastic baby bottles, and plastic toys are important factors through the release of chemicals with toxic effects.''

Until such time as this asthma-inducing effect can be confirmed in humans, Anderson reminds parents and healthcare professionals that precaution costs nothing. When you are dealing with a toxic chemical or chemicals, avoidance is the only proper action. ''She suggests that parents and doctors... believe themselves if they think a product is harming the breathing of the mother or the baby.''

SOURCE: Archives of Environmental Medicine September/October 1999.

Disposable Diapers Linked to Asthma

January/February 2000
Harsh perfumes and chemical emissions have long been known to induce asthma-like symptoms in children and adults. Now, researchers have found that disposable diapers might be a trigger for asthma.

A study published in the October, 1999 issue of the Archives of Environmental Health found that laboratory mice exposed to various brands of disposable diapers suffered increased eye, nose, and throat irritation, including bronchoconstriction similar to that of an asthma attack. Six leading cotton and disposable diaper brands were tested; cloth diapers were not found to cause respiratory problems among the lab mice.

Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, lead author of the report, "Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions," explains that the diapers were tested right out of the package, and one at a time. Even in a mid-sized room, the emissions from one diaper were high enough to produce asthma-like symptoms. Solvents and other substances are typically added to products during the manufacturing process in order to affect malleability and other properties, Dr. Anderson explains."Even if you don't want these chemicals in the final product, it's hardto take them out. We are finding chemical off-gasses in all sorts ofbaby products besides diapers, including baby mattresses and mattresscovers," she says.

What chemicals were released from the diapers? Tolune, xylene, ethylbenzene, styrene, and isopropylbenzene,among others. Dr. Anderson says these, like certain scents, are bronchial irritants. "It's similar to when asthmatics smell perfume and all of a sudden their chests get tight." Although mice are much smaller than humans, they were chosen for the study because their physiology and biochemistry are similar to that of humans. Of the brands tested, three diaper brands were found not to affect the breathing of the lab mice: American Fiber and Finishing Co., Gladrags organic cottondiapers, and Tender Care disposable diapers.

Further study is needed to determine what level of diaper chemical emission triggers infant respiratory distress. In the meantime, Dr. Anderson advises asthmatic mothers to avoid exposure to these chemicals, and to be mindful of the fact that their children may be sensitive to these and other asthma antagonists such as dust mites, roaches, and smoking. Asthma rates are on a sharp incline in the US and worldwide, particularly among poor and inner-city children.

Anderson,Rosalind, and Julius Anderson. Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions, Archives of Environmental Health, 54, October 1999.

1)Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1990Update. (1990). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 530SW-90-042. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

2)Lehrburger, C. (1988). Diapers in the Waste Stream: A Review of WasteManagement and Public Issues, P. O. Box 580, Sheffield, MA.

3) Rathje, W. L. (1989). "Rubbish" The Atlantic Monthly, 264 (6), 99-109.

4) Hollis, R. W. (1989). "The ethics of diapering"; Mothering (Fall), 29.

5)Little, A. D. Disposable Versus Reusable (Cloth) Diapers:Environmental, Health and Economic Considerations. Cambridge, MA:Arthur D. Little, Inc.

6) Lyman, F. (1990) "Diaper hype" Garbage: the Practical Journal for the Environment, 2 (1), 36-40.

7)Clark. G.S., et. al. (1974). Incidence of viral infections among wastecollection workers. Institute of Environmental Health, Cincinnati, OH:University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

8) Energy andEnvironmental Profile Analysis of Children's Disposable and ClothDiapers. (1990). Prairie Village, KS: Franklin Associates, Ltd.

9)Dallas, M. J. and Wilson, P. A. (1989). "Diaper performance:maintenance of healthy skin" Proceedings: Association of CollegeProfessors of Textiles and Clothing Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA.

10)Bartlett, L. K., Moore, M., Gary, W., et. al. (1985). "Diarrhea illnessamong infants and toddlers in daycare centers" Journal of Pediatrics(107), 495.

11) Berg, R. W. (1990). The effect of diaper type onthe potential for fecal contamination in group daycare settings. TheProcter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, OH.

12) Stone, J.(1990). Groundwater quality: the diaper dilemma. Iowa CooperativeExtension Service Publication No. Pm-1401, Iowa State University, Ames,IA.

13) Joseph, L. E. (1990). "The Bottom Line on Disposables" The New York Times Magazine (September 23), 26 ff.

14)King, L. W. (1990). A Study of Municipal Solid Waste Composting on theImpact of Paper Diapers. The Procter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, OH.

What other things can I do to help the environment?

Each person/family has their own level of contribution to helping our environment. There are many small steps you can take. A few examples:
Buy energy saving light bulbs.

Change your household cleaners to simple and natural. You can look up online how to make your own cleaners usingmostly baking soda, vinegar, borax, lemon, and salt. It's much better for the air in your house as well.

When you wash your hands, don't sit and wait for the water to get hot... just wash in cold. You are not going to get the water hot enough to kill germs anyway, and it wastes alot of water to run it until the hot comes out.

Don't keep water running while you are brushing your teeth.

Try using your bath water to water the garden.

Turn off the lights when you aren't in the room.

Shut down the computer when it's not in use.

Turn down the water heater, and take shorter showers.

Try hanging your clothes to dry. We purchased a drying rack at Ikea and hang our clothes on it in our bedroom. It takes as much energy to run most clothes dryers as it does to run an air conditioner.

Don't hold the refridgerator open, as this takes an enormous amount of energy.

Try not to drive when you don't have to. Wetry to run all errands in the same day, once a week. Carpool.

If possible, try to use renewable energy, or go with an electric company that supports renewable energy. I use Green Mountain so that I am supporting renewable energy.

Try bringing your own re-usable bags tothe grocery store, instead of using their plastic bags.

You can make a HUGE difference in many things by supporting small business whenever possible. Many small businesses are more concious of their impact on the environment, not to mention the focus on quality and customer service.

If you have any further questions that youfeel should be added to this FAQ, please email me. I am happy to spendtime doing research and answering as many questions as possible. This is a work in progress!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Of driving and spiders ...

You would think that a 5 hour drive with two adults, two kids and a dog would be pretty uneventful. Right? You would think. For us, it is always a series of events. Let's take the recent trip to Oklahoma as an example. First, getting everybody into the car is always an ordeal. Tony asks me for 2 hours when we will be ready to leave, if I'm almost done, etc. So, when I'm finally done, and the car is packed, etc, he has something to do. I get the kids in the car, talk the dog into getting in (with a good treat), wait for Christopher to get in, then finally get myself in the car and start it up. Then, I wait. I wait and wait for Tony, who was just asking for the past 2 hours if I was almost ready. We have a 5 hour drive ahead of us, so the last thing I want to do is have the kids in the car an extra 10 minutes. I finally honk the horn to a tune, just to get him to hurry. After another 5 minutes, he finally emerges.

Now, one thing that is my saving grace is the "Dog Train" book and CD for Emily. My sister sent it, and I consider it a gift to me more than anything. So, I get her situated with the book, turn on the CD, and start driving. Ahhh, maybe this could be the uneventful trip I've been waiting for. I found this one too, and plan to buy it one day for our trips. Baby Rock Records: The Cure

So, then it all begins. Emily suddenly starts crying that something was crawling on her leg. She flicked it off and swore it was a spider. I assure her that it was probably just a little fly or something, but she is not convinced. She says that she brushed it off really fast, so I figure it's all okay. About 3 minutes later, I feel something crawl across the back of my neck. As a reflex, I swished it off really fast, swirving the car a bit, but not so much that I would be in another lane or anything. Tony starts complaining that I'm going to cause an accident, and I'm explaining that it's a reflex when you feel something crawling on the back of your neck.

Next, Christopher says that there is a big spider on the back of the seat. I could have gone the rest of the trip without knowing this. Panic sets in, and we are all scared (except Tony) that the spider is going to crawl on us. Tony says that I have an unnatural fear of spiders. I disagree.... I think it's completely natural. Finally, I had to just pull over. I pulled into the nearest gas station and got out, got Emily out of her carseat, and Christopher and the dog got out. I went to the back seat and tried to find the spider, that had crawled to some unknown place. I'm sure it was quite a scene, as I pulled the blanket out (holding it like it had the plague) and dropped it on the ground. I picked it up and shook it.. no spider. Darn. Slowly, I take each thing out of the back seat, holding it ever so carefully, so as not to have a spider crawl on me. As luck would have it, this spider is very good at hide-n-seek. I couldn't find it.

Eventually, Tony insisted that we continue on our journey. So, we put everything back in the car, and piled back in. As I was driving down the highway, what should crawl up the windshield, right in front of my face, but a spider? Once again, I swerve, Tony complains, I explain, etc. Finally, he decides that it would be safest if he drove. By the time I could pull over, the spider had found another place to hide. So, the rest of the trip was spent worried about where it would show up next. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it didn't.

In the meantime, I did hand dye some wool and turn it into some fun Night Owls. I'll admit that it has actually been dyed for a while, as I just didn't get time to turn it into anything..... but I finally did, and stocked them on Necessitae.

There's something oddly satisfying about making front snap serged diapers. It brings back memories of the diapers I made Emily as a baby. I always preferred front snap, serged, so I made her a bunch, with this very pattern of mine. Her favorite was the Care Bear one. Ahh, the memories.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

So you want to be a work at home mom?

So, you want to be a work at home mom? Congratulations!

The first step to starting your own business is to ask yourself two questions.
What am I good at? and What do I enjoy doing?
First, what skills do you have? Do you sew? Do wood work? Knit? What are you good at? What are you good at that you would enjoy doing every day? Write it down. What can you bring to the world? What do you have to offer? Write all of this down. Think on it. Once you think you have found your calling, look around at other stores with similar items. Is yours unique? You will do best offering something that is unique. If you make cloth diapers, for instance, what unique feature or idea do you have to offer? Make sure you are writing everything down. You want to go into this as organized as possible.

Now, my first suggestion is that you find a shrink asap. Make an appointment and get an evaluation. If you are comfortable with your insanity, WAHMing is for you.

Your next step is to go to my cleaning crash course and make your list. Before you have the final list, go to your daily tasks and change at least a third of them to "weekly", then go to about a third of your "weekly" tasks and change them to "monthly". Now complete your list. I would make sure you have your cleaning routine pretty down pat before starting your wahm business. You will not have time to keep your house perfect, and being as organized as you can will help a great deal.

When you are ready to begin, I recommend opening up a business paypal account. Once you have your paypal account opened up and verified, I suggest opening up an etsy shop, and an ebay account. It doesn't hurt to start out selling on one of these areas where you will get good exposure for a minimum price.

It's best to go ahead and have a website, so you will want to come up with a name, then research it to make sure it is a unique name. Many people run into a problem when they open up shop with a name that is too similar to another shop's name. Not only will you most likely have a Cease and Desist letter, but it is also very frowned upon by other small businesses. You want to stay on a friendly level with other wahms. Remember, in small business, there is no competition. You are all business partners.

Once you have your name, you will want to register a domain in your name, and start having your website built. You can start out with a very basic design that you create yourself, or pay somebody to design your site for you. There are many work at home moms who design websites for a living and would be happy to work with you.
You will want to read through as many resources as you can get your hands on. It's best to start your business out right, rather than struggling for years to figure out how to do it. I've found one place that has a lot of resources is Elemental Muse . Her shopping cart on hyena cart is packed with free e-books as well as many great ebooks for purchase. And speaking of carts, one of the more popular shopping carts at the moment is Hyena Cart. When you are ready, and have your website designed, products ready to be sold, etc, I suggest opening up a shopping cart.

If you are sewing diapers, I recommend purchasing small amounts of fabric until your business is experiencing regular sales, then moving on to purchasing your materials wholesale, or via coop.

If you will be knitting, dyeing, etc, I will list what resources I have available. I suggest that you practice your skill for a while and make sure that it is up to par for you to sell. One of the common mistakes that people make going into business is selling sub-par products at a loss. If you are selling products that are sub par, people will remember your products as being sub par. That will be your reputation. This is a great reason to wait until you know that you have a high quality item to offer.

You do not want to sell at a loss. Some people make the mistake of believing that they are just getting their name out there, or that the products should not be priced as high as the market has already dictated. This is, of course, false. When you price your items, you need to take into consideration the costs involved from all sides. Consider your cost of materials, machinery, shipping supplies, web hosting, domain purchase, cart hosting fees, etc. You need to pay yourself for your time as well. It is not acceptable to think that you are having fun doing this, so you do not need paid. This is a business, and a business needs to make money in order to run. Imagine all of the things you could do with your time instead of what you are doing, and realize that your time is worth something. If you want to do volunteer work, there are so many organizations that need your help, so I suggest keeping your business at a level of making some profit and charity work for charities who need you. Charge for your time, materials, and the cost of running your business. You will be putting a lot of work into this business, afterall.

Before you open up shop, have a banner made (or make one if you have those skills), and run it in some areas where your target market is. Your target market is the people who will want to purchase your products. If you are selling cloth diapers, your target market is people who want to cloth diaper their babies. You will want to run your banner on a cloth diapering forum, where people who cloth diaper their babies are all hanging out together. I will share some links to such forums in the resources section. You will be best off having an inventory ready for opening day. People are more likely to come to your store and browse around if they see several interesting items.

How you photograph your items is very important. You should work on your photography skills for a while before you open up shop. With online sales, people are relying on a photograph and description to buy the product. Unlike a physical store, they cannot touch the item and feel it, and see the colors, etc. Your photographs need to show them how beautiful the item is. Taking a photo on your couch or floor doesn't tend to look nice. It's best to invest in a photo box, or make one yourself. To find a photo box, try doing an ebay search for "photo tent". One trick that I have found is to place the item on one of those foam poster boards. They are shiny enough to capture the light just right. Pay attention to your lighting. Pay attention to how you arrange your items. If you just throw it down and photograph it, it might not look even, or it might appear flawed. Arrange it in a way that captures its perfection. Browse around similar stores and look at their photos. Think about what makes the item look high quality and what makes it look "not so great" and go from there.

Finally, know your product. I can't even express how important this is. Imagine you go into a coffee shop. You ask the barista which coffee is a light roast, as you don't like dark roast. The reply is, "I don't know, I don't drink coffee." Your confidence in the product goes down a great deal. You need to know as much as you can about your product. Your customers will consider you an expert and ask a lot of questions. You want to answer them confidently.

I will add to this as I think of more, and eventually, will give it a page for reference.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year to all! Chinese New Year starts on February 7th this year.
At Necessitae, we had a special stocking for the festivities. There were so many beautiful things stocked, and still some left.

I decided to make some skirts this time around. I worked from sun up to sun down on these!

This one was made using an Alexander Henry fabric that I have been in love with since the day it arrived. I was saving it for something special, but never could decide what. It's even more beautiful in person. This is oneof my all time favorite fabrics ever.

This one was made out of a cute fabric that I got a while back. It has chopsticks and fortune cookies all over it! Emily is convinced that if she wears hers to the Chinese restaurant, they will give her extra fortune cookies. We'll see how that works.

I also made two diapers. This first one was hand dyed by me in shades of pink. The dye job is better in person, of course. The fabric is organic bamboo velour.

And then this one that is made with my favorite knit that I'm saving for Emily. She doesn't like pink so much, so I can't seem to talk her into letting me make something out of it for her. I'm still hoping.

But enough about me! There were so many things stocked that I fell in love with!
We all know my love for Naturally Luxe products.
Look at this beauty that had my name written all over it. I didn't even get on the computer before it was gone, though.

Made By Maria made a bag with my name all over it too!

And one with Emily's name all over it.

I think the girl on this one looks like my sister.

I would do just about anything to have these hand knit slippers by Kimberly R

I am completely amazed at this necklace!

Okay, that bead is hand made! By a person! She makes them and sells them. Isn't that incredible?

A hand made journal by Becky's Paper Creations

Yarn from Mosaic Moon

A set by Sweet Mama Small Sugar

Little dolls from Where's Waldorf

And so much more, I don't even have time to write about all of them! Check out for yourself if you like.

And a huge thank you to Maria for compiling this fact writeup on Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year Facts

* 2008 is the year of the rat.
* Current year is Year 4706 by the Chinese calendar.
* The holiday usually falls on the second (very rarely third) new moon after the winter solstice.
* People in China believe that as they enter a New Year, they should drop the last year into the silence limbo of the past. Common Chinese New Year Activity includes cleaning the houses from top to bottom, purchasing new clothes, paying off debts, painting their doors and windowpanes, and even getting new haircuts. Traditional Chinese New Year Facts bring forth the essence of new life and new hopes.
* One of the most important characteristics of Chinese New Year Calendar is that it names each of the twelve years after an animal. Tradition says that Lord Buddha had called for all the animals to come to him before he departed from the earth. But only twelve animals came to offer him farewell and as a token Lord Buddha named a year after each of the twelve animals in the order they arrived. According to the popular Chinese myth the animal ruling the year in which a person is born tremendously influences his or her behavior and traits.
* The Spring Festival ceremoniously commences with the practice of offering a sacrifice to the Kitchen God. Kitchen God is a deity sent from Heaven to each house to take charge of family's affairs and make a report on what the family has done in the past year to Heaven annually on the date of the twenty-third. So with the preparations of feeding the Kitchen God, the celebrations of Chinese New Year gets kicked off.
* Traditionally, the celebrations for the Chinese New Year last up to fifteen days. During these days, the Chinese wish each other by saying "Kung Hei Fat Choy" which means having a great fortune, or "Kung Hall Sun Hei", which implies happy New Year. Married couples give red envelopes with lucky money to their kids or relatives of their younger generations instead of giving presents. The money can be used to buy holiday treats.
* The Chinese New Year celebrations are marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, a practice known as "new-year visits". New clothing is usually worn to signify a New Year. The color red is liberally used in all decorations.
* Traditionally dinner is usually a feast of seafood and dumplings, symbolizing prosperity and good wishes. Chinese New Year Dish includes prawns for liveliness and pleasure, dried oysters for all things good in life, raw fish salad to usher in good luck and prosperity, dumplings boiled in water signifying a long-lost good wish for a family and Fai-hai (Angel Hair), edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity for the family.
* Chinese love excitement and merriment and New Year gives them an opportunity to do so. Chinese New Year is characterized by street celebrations which include the performance of lion dance and dragon dance with exploding sound of fire crackers. The loud noise made by the fire crackers signifies the getting rid of sadness or bad events of last year and ushering in a good and prosperous coming year.
* Fu - the Chinese character for 'good luck". People paint signs with this character to hang in their homes and in the streets during Chinese New Year. These signs are painted in the traditional red and gold and are hung upside down. The Chinese word for upside down rhymes with the Chinese word for "arrive", so by hanging the sign upside down, good luck will arrive.
* Chinese New Year starts on the first day of the new year containing a new moon (some sources include New Year's Eve)[citation needed] and ends on the Lantern Festival fourteen days later.
* Alongside the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac there is a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology, namely: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements are rotated every two years while a yin and yang association alternates every year. The elements are thus distinguished: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, etc. These produce a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years. For example, the year of the Yang Fire Rat occurred in 1936 and in 1996, 60 years apart.
* According to legend, in ancient China, the Nián (年) was a man-eating beast from the mountains (in other versions from under the sea), which came out every 12 months somewhere close to winter to prey on humans. The people later believed that the Nian was sensitive to loud noises and the color red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the color red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Guò nián, which means to celebrate the New Year, literally means the passover of the Nian.
* The period around Chinese New Year is also the time of the largest human migration, when migrant workers in China, as well as overseas Chinese around the world travel home to have reunion dinners with their families on Chinese New Year's eve. More interurban trips are taken in mainland China in this 40-day period than the total population of China.
* The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth. Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.
* The second day of the Chinese New Year is for married daughters to visit their birth parents.
* The third and fourth day of the Chinese New Year are generally accepted as inappropriate days to visit relatives and friends due to the following schools of thought. People may subscribe to one or both thoughts.
* The third and fourth day of the Chinese New Year are generally accepted as inappropriate days to visit relatives and friends due to the following schools of thought. People may subscribe to one or both thoughts.
1: It is known as "chì kǒu" meaning it is easy to get into arguments, it has been suggested that this is due to the fried food and also visiting family for the first 2 days of New Year.
2: Families who had an immediate kin deceased in the past 3 years will not go house-visiting as a form of respect to the dead. The third day of the New Year is allocated to grave-visiting instead. Some people conclude it is inauspicious to do any house visiting at all.
* On the Fifth day of the New Year in northern China, people eat Jiǎozi (dumplings) on the morning of Po Wu. This is also the birthday of the Chinese god of wealth.
* The seventh day, traditionally known as renri 人日, the common man's birthday, the day when everyone grows one year older.
* The ninth day of the New Year is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven (天公) in the Taoist Pantheon. This day is especially important to Hokkiens (Min Nan speakers). Come midnight of the eighth day of the new year, the Hokkiens will offer thanks giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven. Offerings will include sugarcane as it was the sugarcane that had protected the Hokkiens from certain extermination generations ago. Tea is served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honored person.
* On the fifteenth day of the New Year, a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, is eaten this day. Candles are lit outside houses as a way to guide wayward spirits home. This day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival, and families walk the street carrying lighted lanterns.
* Bamboo stems filled with gunpowder that were burnt to create small explosions were once used in ancient China to drive away evil spirits. In modern times, this method has eventually evolved into the use of firecrackers during the festive season.
* Clothing mainly featuring the color red is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it is believed that red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In addition, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning in the New Year.

Good luck
* Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year.
* Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
* Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
* It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, as explained below, cleaning the house after New Year's Day is frowned upon)
* Some believe that what happens on the first day of the new year reflects the rest of the year to come. Asians will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity.
* Wearing a new pair of slippers that is bought before the new year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you.
* The night before the new year, bathe yourself in pomelo leaves and some say that you will be healthy for the rest of the new year.

Bad Luck
* Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The word "shoes" is a homophone for the word for "rough" in Cantonese, or "evil" in Mandarin.
* Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word "pants"(kù) is a homophone for the word for "bitter"(kŭ) in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive, as the word 'pants'(fu) in Cantonese is also a homophone for the word for "wealth".)
* Washing your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck (although modern hygienic concerns take precedence over this tradition)
* Sweeping the floor is usually forbidden on the first day, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year.
* Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious as well.
* Buying books is bad luck because the word for "book" is a homonym to the word "lose".
* Avoid clothes in black and white, as black is a symbol of bad luck, and white is a traditional funeral color.

In other news, I managed to stock my store as well.

I made some Night Owls!

and a couple of fitted diapers out of Emily's favorite fabric that I have right now

These were made as a Chinese New Year thing. The inside is red, and the outside is bright and colorful.

While I was stocking my stuff for Necessitae, Emily found a bag of poly filling for stuffing pillows. It snowed in our house.

For those who have read through all of this stuff just to find an update on The Beast, here is the update. I am sorry to say that he is not doing very well now. We are hoping that he gets better. Yesterday he was throwing up everything, and several times. I kept trying to get the Cerenia in him, but he would throw it up within seconds, and it was still whole. I did finally get it in him around 9pm. I waited an hour, then went to give him his antibiotics. He ran from me, as he does now, and went on my bed. Once on my bed, I found the morning's antibiotic pill setting there. Somehow, he had not swallowed it and had spit it out when I left the room. We think this is why he was doing so bad, so are hopeful that he will get back on track. We are pretty worried now, though. His quality of life is pretty poor right now. I know it's selfish, but I can't let him go just yet. I don't think he wants to go. I am not sure how one knows when it's time, though. If there are signs? If the dog does something? At the moment, he wants to go hide outside. I have to search for him and bring him back in. sigh. Cross your fingers for us.

Ta ta for now!