a good read

August 30, 2007 § 1 Comment

I just finished a new book called A year without ‘Made in China’ by Sara Bongiorni. Yes, they do make it through the year. You might have heard an interview with Bongiorni on NPR. If not, check it out here.

The book is written like a journal of sorts, giving us the ins and outs of their “made in China” boycott; how they deal with the comments of others, friends concerned that their kids are unhappy because they don’t have the “made in China” toys, and the lengths they go to trying to find out where a toy, shoe, or pair of pants is made.

Bongiorni takes a look around her post-Christmas house and starts looking for the “made in…” label on their gifts. She easily puts two and two together and realizes a need for change when most (if not all) of the items under their tree are made in China. Herein comes the boycott. As a New Year’s resolution, she decides that for a year she and her family will not buy anything made in China. From there the family embarks on their adventure. Of course, their oldest kid (5) isn’t always happy- and we read a number of misadventures about him throughout.

Their family ended up paying a lot more for what they did buy and a lot of times the toys they bought from other countries were smaller (sometimes better quality) but didn’t hold a candle to the larger, plastic and often times battery-operated toys made in China. What was interesting was that they still bought quite a lot of stuff during the year. It was as if they felt like they had to make it up to their kids by buying double the number of toys. (In the interview on NPR, Bongiorni says she thinks that they actually broke even because a lot of times they couldn’t find an alternative to the one made in China so they just didn’t buy anything at all.)

While I might have gotten enough just out of the interview on NPR, and sometimes the book seemed to drag on, making the same point over and over again about how hard it is to find things that aren’t made in China, I think that their learning about making more thoughtful purchases is a valid message. In their family, they won’t be continuing the boycott, but they will think twice about buying something and probably choose an item that is not made in China as a result of their yearlong experiment. Ever since reading the book, I’ve been checking labels on things in our house and am more aware of the impact that outsourcing to China has had on us. It is nice to be able to afford things we do need while living on one salary, but how many of those things could we live without if we tried? And how many of those things do we really need to begin with, and how many of them do we just purchase because they are so cheap and easily available (thank you China)?

You may also think that with having a child there’s no way I’ll last with this mentality but I’d have to say that the times when my family had very little were the times when we were the happiest. Those are the times I remember most above all.

Would I last this sort of boycott? A better question for me would be: What sort of New Years resolution would get me to think outside the box about the purchases I make? Do you have any suggestions? I’ll post my ideas soon.

learning to sew

August 29, 2007 § 3 Comments

For my birthday, I got a sewing machine, some patterns, a gift card to Joann fabric and other sewing stuff. I went to the store and got some fabric and started on my first project. I have sewn before but always under my mothers watchful and ever encouraging eye. As I pinned the pattern to the fabric I realized that I had never done that on my own before. My mom was always there. The I cut the fabric, taking care to cut as precisely as possible and making those notches look like notches and not like mangled fabric that got caught as I cut- which mine did. I did call my mom and get on MSN messenger for a quick video chat so that she could show me how to do Step 1. Thank you eyeball camera! Step 2 wasn’t that easy, either, but somehow I managed. I’ve gotten through a couple more steps and the dress that I’m making for my daughter is looking more like something than nothing. Which is good.

In an email to a friend, I asked how the working world was and she lol’d and said that she finds so much to do when she’s not working that she figures she could easily go without work at all and be what some would call a bum- if only the economy supported that- which it doesn’t. I could craft all day if I didn’t have my current job. Before baby, I’d knit for hours and hours. And fast. Needless to say I’d make a lot of stuff. Mostly gifts for my friends babies. I feel bad for the friends I have that are now having babies. Probably the shift will be in how early I start on a project. I’ll be starting on winter stuff a year in advance. Who knows.

This blog and my eager crafty hands are my ways of keeping days from slurring and my mind from turning to a mathless piece of rubbish. So, a toast to sewing and other crafties (like knitting). A world without them would be a sad, sad world.

The diapers we use

August 27, 2007 § 1 Comment

I’ve been asked on a number of occasions what kind of cloth diapers we use so I figured I’d post what I usually share in person. These days you’ve got so many options. You can choose from prefolds (the rectangular diaper that your mother or mother’s mother may have used), pockets, all-in-ones, fitted, etc. These are the ones we’ve used so I’ll stop there with the list.

Prefolds bought from Green Mountain Diapers as well as a store in Chicago called Bebybaby (although I don’t know where they came from) are great. The diapers we bought were the infant size which we still use on our daughter at 8 months. They are snug now, but they still work. We’ve got 1 dozen of the next size up but we’ll see when we get to them. These diapers are soft and a great value. We used prefolds only for probably the first 3-4 months of her life. We also bought a snappi to attach the diaper. No need to worry about pinning a diaper. We also have never had a leak, even at night. These are quality diapers.

Fuzzi Bunz (2): These are Pocket diapers. With each diaper you get 1micro-terry insert. You do have to shake out the insert in order to wash it but we haven’t had much problem with that. You don’t have to stick your hand into the pee, so don’t go there.

Bum Genius (1): This one I read about on the Mothering.com forum on diapers. They’re cool in that they are also a pocket but they have snaps on the front so that you can make it smaller or bigger depending on your baby. The company says that you can use these diapers from 8 to 35 lbs. I like the stretchy velcro closure.

Swaddlebees AIO (3): This is an All-in-One diaper. It has the diaper and cover sewn together. These diapers are soft and I like the snap closure. They can hold a lot of pee and we haven’t had any leaks of any kind. My mom liked them so much she bought us some, too. We use them a lot at night.

Swaddlebees Pockets (3): I love these because of the Organic Velour on the inside and they are so soft. It’s mind boggling. We did get one that’s a size bigger and figure we’ll get a lot of use out of it in months to come. It works just fine because of the elastic in the leg and the waist.

When our daughter was a newborn, we did purchase a Swaddlebees newborn fitted diaper, which we loved. A couple of months later, we purchased a larger size, which is now almost too tight.

Another fitted diaper, which by the way also needs a cover, was a Kissaluvs fitted. We’ve got two of these and they are great. One of the nice things about these is that they adjust with snaps so it has actually fit our daughter for quite some time. At first, they seemed a little too big, but they still fit her now.

Covers:

Bummis are really nice and they fit very well on our daughter. We haven’t had any leaks of any kind with these covers. We use them during the day and at night.

Disana Wool Cover: This cover breathes and being wool it is a natural choice. Even when you can feel that she’s peed, the pee doesn’t come through. It’s very nice for day and night.

By the way, if you want to see how these diapers look on babies, Green Mountain Diapers has a ton of photos so that you don’t have to imagine what it’ll look like on an actual baby. Even if you don’t ever think you’ll go with cloth diapers, the pictures are cute!

Random tip #1

August 25, 2007 § 3 Comments

Do you like soda, pop, coke (whatever you call it) but don’t want the calories, high fructose corn syrup, aftertaste, etc? Try this.

My random tip for the day is to try using seltzer water with organic juice of your choosing. At our house, we mix two juices. Sometimes we mix mango and apricot or banana. Yum. Just a squirt. It’s really mostly seltzer water. Seltzer is usually under a dollar while these organic juices run about $4 a relatively small bottle. Mixing a small amount with your seltzer will give you a sweet refreshing taste without biting you in the… um, wallet.

bilingual book club

August 24, 2007 § 3 Comments

Three years ago, my husband and I started a bilingual book club with 9 Stories by J.D. Salinger. The way the book club works is that we choose a book we want to read, check to see if we can get a copy in both English and Spanish and, well, the rest is understood. I hope. Usually, my husband finishes the book and then (sometimes a year later) I do. We haven’t talked much about the books, or had club meetings per se due to our offset reading schedules but there’s something nice about reading the same book with a loved one. I like reading a book as if it were a mini-series. He reads to finish the book. Sometimes in a single day. This hasn’t caused any problems until recently.

The problem? I finished a book. In about 2 months, within the same year he finished it. Once I got through the first 200 pages, it picked up speed. I know. 200. The book choice was The time traveler’s wife. So exactly how was it a problem? I thought we should have a club meeting so while we were out for a walk with bilingual baby, we “met”. For all who have read the book, you’ll know (and the title’s also a dead give away) that it’s tricky to talk about a book that skips from the present into the past into the future and so on without revealing any spoilers. I spent most of the “meeting” asking, “D’you remember that part where…?” We tried.

Now, we’re reading Seeing by Jose Saramago- my title is Ensayo sobre la lucidez. It’s coming along but hasn’t really sped up yet. Bilingual daddy is currently reading a duster of a book on Vermont history which he is enjoying. That’s him. The duster is giving me a head start on the Saramago book, which is a good idea. We’re hoping to finish the book by December so that we can start a new one by the new year.

This is where you come in. What should we read? We’d need for there to be a Spanish and English edition of the work. The original text can be in any language. Make your suggestion and we’ll let you know what we choose.

I am still fond of my wiggly baby

August 22, 2007 § Leave a comment

Wiggly baby wakes up next to me a little groggy, with a droopy head and eyes that aren’t sure the rest of her body should be up. Most mornings she quickly changes modes and in no time is eager to get down to business: play. She gives me a smile and somehow I can’t help but wonder what it is that makes her laugh. It’s a mystery I leave alone. I enjoy not knowing everything. She flips over onto her tummy and with a swift graceful move is sitting up rubbing her now full moon eyes. She looks at me and smiles again and starts to scan the room to see what she should play with first.

Query #1: organic or local

August 16, 2007 § 4 Comments

I’d like to introduce you to my internal switch. This switch gives me the go-ahead on some things while others just get the red buzzer telling me to steer clear. It’s made up of my moral code, the line that I draw in the sand that I won’t cross and the gray areas that make decision making difficult. Now when it comes to buying produce what does your internal switch tell you to do? You may not have thought of this or you may stare down your internal switch with a look of desperation from time to time when you see the glory of ripe blueberries at a price you can pay (but not organic nor locally grown). Regardless, to know you have a choice and that your decisions make a difference, why not make a solid choice? With this in mind, I present a query for readers.

When you feel you have a choice when buying produce do you choose organic over local? or local over organic?

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