Friday, August 29, 2008

Beware: thar be (clean) diaper pictures ahead

I first have to share a bit of my father's insanity before I begin this entry.

Backstory: My mom mailed me some fabric swatches as ideas to reupholster a rocker I bought on Craigslist ($20, baby, for the rocker and footstool). Apparently my dad got hold of the envelope before it hit the mailbox and decided to send a message along to my husband. Behold:

(It says, "What up [Fritz]... For Shizzal... Mo Dizzal...")

So, the past couple of days I've been working on diaper covers. I have a pattern for an AIO diaper* that I altered to be a cover** for prefolds***. I managed to make six with some scrap cotton facings before I squeezed the last bit of life out of my yard of PUL****. I ordered some more online so I can finish up.

I have to make them in three different sizes, because I have no clue what ages we'll be getting. For ease of sorting laundry, I faced each size with a different print. Hoping they'd be somewhat gender neutral, I scrounged from my stash a geometric purple/blue/green, a Harry Potter (playing Quidditch, no less!) print, and a sage green floral-ish print. Yeah, they're not completely gender-neutral, but I really doubt a small child is going to care what's on their diaper. And I think they're dang cute. What do you think?

As usual, I'll give my insecure "They're really not as slouchy as they photograph" spiel. It's just hard to stand them up straight. Once they're filled with baby bum, they'll look just right.

The second piece of Velcro on each wing is a fold-over tab for laundering. You fold the "hook" part over on to the "loop" part so it doesn't snag anything in the wash.

I also used the leftovers from the cloth wipes to make a few large face wipes to keep near the high chair. It gave me a chance to try out a few of the funkier stitches on my machine, which was lots of fun.

So that about wraps up project-land this week. No more furniture to refinish, no more beds to make up, and I can't finish making diaper covers until my PUL comes next week. I might have time to actually work on that dress!

* An all-in-one (AIO) diaper is the closest thing to a disposable there is. All layers - the absorber, the waterproof layer, and sometimes an absorbent doubler for heavy wetters - are contained within one piece.

** A diaper cover is a waterproof shell that goes outside a fitted or prefold diaper. Usually made of PUL, fleece, or wool. In older generations, they used the generic term "rubber pants."

*** A prefold diaper is basically a large rectangle of absorbent fabric (usually Birdseye pique or diaper flannel - sometimes made of fancier fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, velour, suedecloth, etc), sewn in such a way as to have extra layers of fabric running down the center as a built-in doubler. It is folded, wrapped around the baby, and pinned. A waterproof diaper cover must be worn over it. This is the most basic and oldest type of cloth diaper. It's also the cheapest.

****PUL is short for polyurethane laminate. It is basically laminated cotton.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Johnny hammers with one hammer

Is there anything nicer after a long, sweaty, tiring day than to take an early shower and be in your jammies by 7:00 pm? I have the answer to that. And it's no. No, there is nothing nicer. Unless, perhaps, donuts were somehow added to the mix.

It's been busy around here. Lots of projects in the works to prepare for foster care.

We had to turn our nursery and playroom into two bedrooms that could fit a variety of ages and either gender. After a week's hard work, it's nearly done. (Quick note: I have no clue why all of the rooms photographed shoe-box sized. They're really plenty roomy, but I apparently suck as a photographer.)

Project 1: Master bedroom

We rearranged our bedroom to make room for a crib. I think it looks pretty great. In fact, it's even easier to move around in than before, when Fritz's armoire was on the wall that the crib's now on.

I sewed the fitted crib sheets myself! It was so ridiculously easy. They cost $1.25 each, compared to the $5 apiece ugly ones I found at Wal-Mart. (I promise they don't really sag in front like that. It was just put on sloppily.)

Project 2: Nursery

The old nursery became... well, the new nursery. We put the new donated crib (which, awesomely, matches our original crib almost identically - just a slightly lighter finish) in, along with a flower table we'd hidden under a cloth for years. I got the Exersaucer on Craigslist for $10!

We're planning on going with a jungle theme in here for the time being. (We're shelving my Doctor Who-themed fantasy until we have more time and money to devote to it.) We'll be near Ikea later in September for our training, and would like to put this leaf canopy over the head of the crib, and this hanging storage system in the corner by the closet to hold diapering things, bibs, socks, etc.

I sewed the green crib sheet, too, as well as a back-up teal one.

Project 3: Playroom/Older child's bedroom

We made up the bed for $10. The two large pillows in the back are slip-covered with remnants from the crib sheets and closed with Velcro hidden under funky buttons. I'm really proud of these, as I was working without a pattern, and they turned out perfect on the first try. Score! The wall over the length of the bed is blank, so we're planning to put some of these up.

Moved the animal net, set up an art supplies caddy, and removed artwork/crafts from the kids (stored in my closet now). I'd like to get a lamp for the desk, maybe this one in green.

I finished the last coat of lacquer on the desk this afternoon and didn't want to wait until Fritz got home from work to move it, so I did it myself. I scooted it through the garage on the drop cloth, bumped it up the step into the house, laid it on its side, and pushed it down the hall. Unfortunately, once I got to the playroom door, I realized it wouldn’t fit through on its side, and the hallway was too narrow to right it again. So I pushed it back to the bend in the hallway, scootched it into the nursery (located in said bend), and stood it back up. Then I proceeded to tip it on one end, and "walk" it one corner at a time into the playroom down the hall. A bit more grunting, and it was in place.

We want to hang this (in red) in the corner, for laundry.

This room could seriously benefit from some paint on the walls, but we're going to hold off until we move, so we can do a fun color with some chalkboard paint accents.

Project 4: Diapers
We're planning to cloth diaper, so I've sewn up some prefolds and cloth wipes. Just need to make a few PUL diaper covers, and we're golden. Here are some of the awesome cloth wipes I was working on today (again, another really crappy picture - the wipes are straight in reality):

Just to keep myself from getting bored (hee!), I've been working on some more bibs to sell:

And one to keep (cross-stitched David Tennant and patchworked the back):

So far, all of the sewing/bedding projects have cost $30. The refinishing cost just $9, because we already had the paint, brushes, and sandpaper. We've spent $40 on clothes (which resulted in a play outfit and a pair of jammies for both boys and girls newborn-5T), and $15 on a few incidentals (creams, washes, etc). $25 at Ikea should finish it up. Not bad for furnishing a house for 3-4 children.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

News - This time it's the good kind

We had our first visit with a social worker today to start our trek into the world of foster care. It went very well. We sat and talked for about an hour about our backgrounds, history with children, parenting philosophies, and reasons for wanting to foster. She actually said in the end that she was pleasantly surprised. That she had initially thought our ages would work against us, but she was impressed with what she found. She even said she wishes there were more foster parents like us out there. Also, with our experience and backgrounds, she said we've got a really good chance at being placed quickly. Yeah, I'm bragging. Indulge me this once. It's nice to have something to be excited about.

There's quite a bit we still have to do to ready the house for our home study. We're childproofed, but not quite foster childproofed. We have to put all medications, cleaning supplies, and anything else toxic in locked containers. That includes things like shampoo and hand soap. (Which, to be honest, I think is a little silly. But okay.)

Fritz and I bought a new door handle for our hall linen closet that has a key lock on it. We figure we'll put the majority of cosmetics and cleaning supplies in it. We also got some locking tool boxes for medications and everyday toiletries.

We got a waterproof mattress protector and new pillow for the twin bed in the playroom. We're approved to foster up to 4 children, so we still need to get another twin bed and/or crib, as well as some back-up bedding. I'm hitting Craigslist and Freecycle hardcore, yo.

There were tons of clothes on clearance at Wal-Mart today for $1 apiece, so we bought one outfit in each size. They were nice comfy cotton t-shirts and shorts, so they'll be good for playclothes or jammies in a pinch. We're given a clothing allowance for each kid, but many times they'll come in the middle of the night or other inconvenient times, so we need to have something on hand.

Aside from that, we've got most everything we'll need. Certainly all the big stuff like a crib, cradle, bed, carseats, high chair, stroller. Also most of the less-necessary things that make life easier like an Exersaucer, Boppy, toys, books, rocker, dressers, art supplies, kids' dinnerware, etc.

Anything else, we'll get when the children are placed with us. We're open for birth-10 years, so I don't want to stock up on too many things geared toward a certain age, especially perishable things like formula, toiletries, and wipes. I may get a few cloth diapers, just to have on hand. And we could probably use a set of nail clippers, nasal aspirator, baby gum cleaner, etc. But we won't suffer for having to wait for those things until we've got our placement.

Our next step is to fill out an information packet, get fingerprinted, undergo a background check, get a doctor to sign off on our health, and submit 4 references.

Then the training begins in September. It's held over two weekends up north, about 3 ½ hours away. 32 hours of classroom time (oy, vey!), and we're done with that.

Finally, the home study. Basically, someone will come do a safety inspection on our house. They'll tell us what needs to be fixed, then come back to ensure it's been done. Then we're certified!

Unfortunately, with us both having lived out of state in the past 5 years, our background checks could take up to 3 months to come back. So we probably won't be done until the new year. But we're ok with that. It's just nice to have a timeline now.

And that's about that!