Author: mkhuber

How To: Not Buy Baby Stuff

We have not bought much for this baby so far.

I haven’t bought a cute outfit or a soft blanket. Really all we have bought is some stuff for the nursery and most of it was either given to us or purchased secondhand (that’s a post for later!).

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Our first baby purchase were some little booties from our alma mater to announce the pregnancy.

The moment we found out we were expecting, we knew that it would be a slippery slope of baby stuff coming from every which direction, be it grandparents, friends, or a box being delivered on our doorstep.

For me personally, not buying stuff for the baby was not all that hard. Given that we don’t know the gender, there wasn’t much I could get anyway unless I wanted my baby to dress exclusively in grey and white (gender-neutral clothes are so lame <insert eyeroll>).

For others though, the urge to shower me in stuff was a little stronger and I had to have a conversation with both future grandmothers not to run out to Homegoods and buy everything in sight.

Right now, pretty much everything in baby’s nursery has come from someone else, be they hand me downs from other little babies in our lives or pieces of furniture.

This baby is going to get stuff though, even with the uncertainty of my baby shower even happening. I did my best to be conscious of what was going on my registry. I focused on multi-purpose items such as our bassinet/pack-in-play combo and a high chair that grows with baby. and quality materials such as wood, cotton, and glass over plastic.  Using Babylist, I was also able to ask for non-material items, such as house cleaning, babysitting, and home-cooked meals. I could even ask for preloved clothes and books!

Any advice for keeping the overwhelming amount of baby stuff at bay? Please share!

 

 

What It’s Like Being 7 Months Pregnant During a Global Pandemic

The last couple of weeks have been weird.

Pregnancy itself is weird, but add in a global pandemic of a highly contagious virus and things just get weirder.

Two weeks ago, I was aware of the virus, just slightly concerned, but I went about my daily life with a bit more hand sanitizer and hand washing. Today, I am “social distancing” and working and staying at home pretty much 24/7.

Everything has been canceled. Everything is closed. There is pretty much nowhere to go.

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My dad and I practicing social distancing when he dropped off provisions (AKA Cheez-its)

Work 

Working from home for the past 6 days feels like an eternity. Everything is uncomfortable: my dining room chair, the island stool, sitting on the couch typing on my laptop over my belly.

At first, when work events were canceled last week, I was excited because I knew a full day of work and then an evening event was going to completely tucker me out. Now we have no events, no students, no interns. A good 50% of my job has disappeared in a matter of days (while I know other’s entire livelihoods disappeared overnight).

Luckily, my husband and I are both in positions that allow us to work from home, so we are spending A LOT of time together. Whoever said get some one-on-one time in with your spouse before the baby comes surely did not imagine a situation where soon-to-be parents spend 3-10 weeks holed up in their apartment together. Guess we don’t need a babymoon…

Leaving the House

Every day I am trying to get some activity in. On the first day of our full week working at home, K and I did lunchtime yoga together. Then we went for an afternoon walk in the sun on non-busy residential streets and crossed to the other side when someone was headed our way.

Yesterday, I had to go to Walgreens to pick up a necessary prescription. I planned to go right when they opened to avoid any additional people, but that plan backfired. When I got there, there were 4 other people waiting in line (albeit far apart). I panicked. I could go back home and try coming back later, or I could just wait as far away as possible from people and get it over with because I didn’t want to have to hype myself back up to try again. I waited, I got it, I ran out of there.

Within a few days, entry after entry in my calendar was deleted and now all that is left is my prenatal doctor appointments. That’s the only place I plan on going for now: our apartment, out for a walk, the doctor. Nowhere else.

Food and Necessities

K has been watching this situation diligently and had an inkling we might have to stay home for a while about 2 weeks before all of the mass hysteria set in. We did a grocery shop then and got the staples we needed (including toilet paper and disinfectant spray).

Trying to shop since has been challenging. Not wanting to risk going into the grocery store, we tried a grocery pick up last week and were met with probably only half of the items we had originally ordered. We are waiting a little longer to try again. Otherwise, we absolutely have enough food to not be hangry all the time, except I eat a lot of the snacks.

The Reality

I am not so much worried about myself catching the virus, it is also super possible I or my husband have already had it. We are more worried about others, such as our parents, grandparents, and friends with underlying health issues.

I am concerned about the next two-ish months before the baby comes and the next few months after. My baby shower is most likely going to be canceled, I am not sure if we will get to take maternity photos, and my hospital has postponed all birth classes until the middle of April. It’s also a very high possibility that our families won’t get to attend the birth at the hospital.

When everything seems to be so uncertain, the only thing I can control right now is getting the baby’s nursery ready, so I have been doing that. It is better than scrolling through social media (which I have limited my time on to 10 minutes a day via Google’s Digital Wellbeing settings).

We tried to set rules that we can’t talk about coronavirus news on Wednesdays and the weekend. We failed miserably. So much is changing so quickly.

Overall, I am just sad.

Sad to be missing out on many of the things first-time mamas get to experience.

Sad my mother doesn’t get to see my belly grow with her first grandchild in the last few weeks.

Sad to be confined to our 2 bedroom apartment 3 months before we have a baby and come June, are confined at home in a different way.

Sad we probably won’t have visitors to meet our bundle of joy for who knows how long.

These are my own selfish things to be sad about related to being pregnant at this time, and I am not trying to downplay all of the hundreds of other sad things about this pandemic. There is so much more pain and suffering more legitimate than me complaining about not having a baby shower.

We will get through it. While there is so much uncertainty, there is one thing I know, and that is this baby is coming. No matter what.

I can live without maternity photos. I can find birth classes online. I can celebrate with friends and family when it’s safe to have more than 10 people in a room again.

It will be different from how I pictured it, that’s for sure, but the safety of friends and family and people I don’t even know is more important.

 

 

 

The Paralysis of Getting Rid of Things Correctly

We are currently clearing out our guest room to make way for baby and it has brought up a phenomenon that I don’t think I am the only one to have encountered.

It is the fear of disposing of/getting rid of items correctly.

If it were up to K, he would either throw everything out or haul it all to Goodwill. No questioning whatsoever.

I can’t handle that.

From the odd things like the collection of free fridge magnets we have acquired from our insurance agent to half-used Christmas candles to the normal stuff we just no longer had a use for, I wanted to make sure each went to the right place once they left our home.

For the most part, the reason we still had all of these odd things was that I was waiting to figure out what to do with them. Sometimes I figured it out and sometimes I didn’t, but they stayed in our home longer than necessary and it was causing me a lot of stress as we wait for the baby’s arrival.

I figured out what to do with our mattress and got it recycled. I used Facebook Marketplace and my local Buy Nothing group to get items into the hands of people who want and need them for free. Those half-used Christmas candles got picked up by someone in that group! So did old Amazon Alexas, a Roku, underbed storage containers, an old backpack, an old crockpot, a desk lamp, a fruit bowl, headbands, two purses, an old Fitbit, tools, and a bunch of personal care products.

 

Utilizing the Buy Nothing Groups meant that my stuff wasn’t automatically sent to the giant truck that sits outside the Salvation Army to be sorted and possibly purchased down the road. My sheets, bed skirt, and duvet cover immediately got a second life, along with many other items!

We did have to institute a rule that if things aren’t sold or picked up within 2 weeks of posting, the items will be donated. That way we could keep the flow of removing items and they weren’t just sitting around until I went crazy.

There were also things that didn’t get figured out and I had to let go of it. That collection of fridge magnets needed to go and I had to begrudgingly toss them in the trash.

It has been hard and has taken a bit longer than necessary, but I am glad I took the time to make sure things went to a good home.

 

I Paid Money To Properly Dispose of My Mattress

That old saggy, squeaky mattress.

Everyone has one or will encounter one eventually.

Ours came from a friend in college. My husband used it for a while post-graduation, then it was our bed when we moved in together, and then it was finally relegated to the guest room when we moved two summers ago.

It has to be at least 10 years old and we tried to cover up the body divets we created with a mattress topper, but this baby is done.

We also don’t have any space for a queen-sized bed anymore because an actual baby is about to take over the guest room.

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Bye-bye mattress! 

As we purge the items in the guest room to make room for its new inhabitant, I am trying to be very cognizant of where everything is ending up. I could have definitely posted the mattress, box spring, topper, and metal frame on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for an extremely low price or even for free. I also could have put it in the alley and hope someone picked it up before the garbagemen did. It is important to note that most charities do not accept used mattress donations.

All in all, I figured both those options will eventually end with our mattress in a landfill. Sure, handing our old mattress off to someone else will extend its life for a little longer, but what are the chances the person who takes it is going to properly dispose of it when they are done with it?

Probably zero.

So we decided to delay the inevitable and recycle our mattress.

The most annoying part of being a responsible person is that I have to pay for this to occur, but keeping our sad mattress out of the landfill is important to me, so here we are.

The first thing I did was get a handful of quotes from mattress recycling and removal services:

I ended up going with JunkRelief for obvious reasons. It was wonderful for movers to come in and just take all of it away in under 10 minutes. There was no way I was going to be helping anyone get a box spring down a set of winding stairs while pregnant. No way.

All in all, while I am out $145, I don’t feel too bad about it. I am happy it is gone and I am happy it is properly taken care of it.

A Maternity Wardrobe: Options to Not Buy New

You know what is not that fun about being pregnant? Needing to create an entirely new wardrobe around your ever-expanding belly.

Well, some people might like that, but I do not.

Luckily, I have been able to craft my maternity wardrobe in a handful of ways that help keep my own personal impact down.

Borrowing From Others

My cousin and her friends have been accumulating maternity clothing for years and through a number of babies. They kept passing the collection back and forth to whoever was pregnant next.

They were happy to loan me their 3 BINS OF CLOTHES! After doing some sorting based on style and size, I picked out a good start of long sleeve shirts, sweaters, and some pants.

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A friend who had a baby in 2018 also let me borrow some more clothes from her. Now that I have multiple peoples’ clothes, I had to make a mark on the tag of each to help me remember whose is whose when it is time to give them back.

Buying Secondhand

I love ThredUP normally, so I looked to them for some secondhand maternity styles. I ordered some basics like a few t-shirts, tank tops, a dress, and leggings so far. The dress and leggings still had tags!

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Given that there is just one of everything it is important to check every once in a while on their ever-changing availability.

Using What I Already Own

For the most part, I am still working in my regular clothes into my wardrobe. I bought some longer tank tops that I can wear under a lot of my shirts to extend them and I have one of those belly bands to keep my pants up. In the beginning, I employed the hair tie trick with my pants.

Unfortunately, as I get bigger it is harder and harder to incorporate my normal clothes. My shirts and sweaters are not long enough and when I wear my regular pants with the belly band, I live in constant fear that the band has ridden up and 1) my unzipped fly is exposed or 2) my bottom is hanging out!

But Also Buying What I Need

This is not to say I have not bought anything brand new. I did get a couple basics (the tanks I mentioned, 2 long sleeves, tights, jeans) and some workout gear (2 tanks, 2 shirts, and 1 pair of leggings), but I consider my purchases to be pretty minimal so far. We shall see what happens when my belly really starts to get big in the third trimester!

Overall

The absolute worst part about buying maternity clothes (whether secondhand or brand new) is you cannot try them on! I literally have no idea what will fit me and basically, all stores that have maternity lines do not carry them in the store, meaning you have to order multiple styles and sizes just to see what works for your body! To add to that, most physical stores do not accept maternity style returns and require returns to be mailed in only.

It is frustrating and annoying and I totally get why leggings are the primary uniform of the pregnant woman.

An Attempt at Beeswax Wraps

Don’t worry. All my posts won’t be about pregnancy and babies from now on.

I finally found the energy and time to tackle a DIY I have been wanting to do. I own a couple pieces of beeswrap as a replacement for plastic cling wrap, but they have been around for a while and are starting to lose their ability to cling to a surface.

While at a craft fair back in November, there was a booth selling local honey and beeswax products, including a nice brick of beeswax.

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So I bought it, thinking I would try my hand at creating my own.

At first, I was going to run over to Michael’s or Jo-Anne Fabrics and pick up some fabric, but then I remembered The WasteShed here in Chicago. They sell repurposed arts and crafts materials! So I headed over there and scrounged through their fabric scrap bin, leaving with a bunch of options for the low, low price of $2.75.

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The directions I followed for these beeswax wraps came from Good Housekeeping. I was looking for a tutorial that was easy and did not involve a lot of weird ingredients. For instance, a couple required pine resin and some other stuff you have to find at a specialty store or order. Neah.

So here is what I did:

1.) Wash, Dry, and Iron Your Fabric

Good Housekeeping recommended using 100% cotton, which I was not able to know if I fully achieved since I bought fabric scraps, but I figured I would give it a shot and see what happened.

After washing and drying the fabric pieces, I ended up ironing them because some were pretty crumpled. Otherwise, I would not have done this step, I hate ironing…

2.) Cut Your Fabric

I used pinking shears to keep the ends from fraying, but I am sure you can hem them also. I didn’t really adhere to a specific size and just kind of eyeballed what looked good. You can definitely see that I cannot cut straight either!

3.) Grab A Baking Sheet and Parchment Paper

GH recommends placing the printed side of the fabric down.

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4.) Cover Fabric in Beeswax

This is where I started to stray from the GH directions because I did not buy beeswax pellets, which apparently are a thing. I had a brick of beeswax that needed to be grated, which took quite some effort and I would not recommend it.

So I grated and grated and grated for what felt like forever and covered the fabric.

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5.) Pop It in The Oven

It only takes about 4 minutes to melt and then you are supposed to brush the wax around on the fabric, but it seemed I did not use enough wax and there wasn’t any to spread. There also were a lot of spots where I could see that the wax was missing, including the edges.

So I tried again.

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This time I put my muscles to work and grated a more ample supply of beeswax and made sure to get up close to the edges. This seemed to work better this time around.

6.) Let It Dry

The fabric pieces were pretty cool to the touch once I took them out and tried to brush the wax around. I was able to pick them up and wave them around a bit to initially dry.

Afterwards, I folded the fabric over a wire hanger and hung it on the shower curtain rod to fully dry. This only took a few minutes.

7. Enjoy?

After grating enough wax for three wraps, I was pretty tired, so I decided to give it a break. I am also curious if these will work, so I didn’t want to spend all this time and effort making a bunch and it turns out they didn’t do anything.

They feel right and they look right, but I want to test them out for a bit.

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Hopefully, they do the job! I will keep you update.

Have you ever made DIY beeswax wraps? Any recommendations?

Food Aversions and Food Waste

During the first trimester of pregnancy, your body does a lot of weird things and your stomach and taste buds start to betray you.

For a handful of weeks, I barely wanted to eat anything. Everything was just so unappealing.

With my ever-changing palette, I had to come to terms with something that I do my very best to avoid in my non-pregnant life: wasting food.

Many times I would try to eat some of the lovely home-cooked meals my husband made for me and many times I would poke at it with my fork and end up eating a bowl of Cheerios instead.

I would often be over-zealous and prepare more food than my stomach could manage, leaving a lot left behind. Our compost service benefited the most in the first couple of months.

While I felt pretty guilty that I couldn’t always eat what was put in front of me, I had to learn to accept that this was going to happen. With my hormones all over the map, I couldn’t really control what I wanted to eat one day and not the next.

Luckily, I am now in the second trimester and my appetite has vastly improved. I can eat vegetables again! A miracle!

Global Climate Strike A Big Day For Many Reasons

On September 20th, 2019, I participated in the global climate strike in downtown Chicago.

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I took the L downtown and as I exited the station, I could hear the roar of the march as they were approaching Federal Plaza.

Ascending the steps of the station, my eyes filled with tears as the protest grew louder.

It could have been because it was an extremely moving event.

It could have been because of the frustration of the inaction of our governments.

It could also have been because it was inspiring to see so many people come together to demand action.

But actually, I had free-flowing tears from my eyes because later that afternoon I had planned to take a pregnancy test to confirm what I had already known, that I was going to be bringing a child into this pretty messed up world.

After the strike, I headed back home feeling inspired and tried to put taking the test out of mind. A couple hours later, the test was positive and my entire future changed in an instant.

I am very aware of the argument that the number one way to limit your impact on the environment is to not have children. While I absolutely respect that camp and the people making those decisions, that is not my stance.

We have a short time on this planet and having a child of my own is something that I have always wanted to do. While yes, my child will have an impact on the environment (as we all do), it will be small in comparison to the biggest emitting offenders.

So that is where I have been the past few months: coming to terms with what’s about to happen, preparing financially and mentally and emotionally, and also laying down a lot because being pregnant is really tiring.

 

 

Why Use Towels That Go In The Trash When You Can Use Towels That Can Go In The Washer?

How many rolls of paper towels do you use a year?

We probably only buy 3-4 rolls of paper towels and reserve them for particularly messy situations. I usually forget they are even under the sink.

Otherwise, I have been using a legitimate, real towel for cleanups.

To get to this point, I have stocked our kitchen with lots of actual towels that get washed in the washer instead of tossed in the trash can.

In our small kitchen closet, we have one drawer devoted to “rags” or clean up towels and we keep one hanging underneath the sink. These are basically just old towels, be they old bath hand towels or old dish towels. Certain towels are used specifically for the bathroom and ones for the kitchen.

The second drawer holds cloth napkins and dishcloths. The third has hand and dish towels.

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Having plenty of towels on hand keeps us from having to reach for the paper version, which we keep around for emergency back up.

After the towels are used, I let them dry on the washer door and toss them in the hamper.

A huge pro of using real towels in the kitchen is that it doesn’t necessarily mean more laundry. At the end of the week, usually on Friday or Saturday morning, I collect all the towels from around the house, wash them on hot, and replace them with clean ones.

That’s it.

The bath towels and sheets needed to be washed anyway, so it’s no more work for me, and no additional load of laundry.

We save money and landfill space. Win-win!

 

Patience

If you know me personally, patient most likely wouldn’t be your adjective of choice to describe me.

But I have been thinking lately about patience and that is mostly because I started a new job that I am very very excited about. I graduated 6 years ago and I have been through 4 jobs since then. Some were good and some were not, but I continued to search, to network, and to interview.

I got rejected A LOT. Since 2012, I have applied for 393 jobs and received 60 first-round interviews. That is a success rate of 15%. It was disheartening and frustrating, but I had to be patient. It was worth the wait.

Patience is also an important trait when dealing with any environmental/waste/green tasks. Our society has pushed instant gratification on us. We use something once and then throw it out. We want something new, we buy it right now and get it shipped to our door the next day.

It seems counterintuitive to go against this, and harder, more difficult, and inconvenient, but it makes a bigger impact.

Take an extra two seconds and collect your kitchen scraps for a compost service.

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Search secondhand services for exactly what you are looking for and sell your items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and ThredUp. Or donate your stuff.

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Fix up what you already have whether it is a chair, jeans, or your dress pants,

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Collect personal care products and plastic bags, save your beyond repair clothing, take in your running shoes to be recycled, and return wire hangers from the cleaners.

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Grow your own vegetables or join a CSA.

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Shave with a safety razor.

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Take action on things you don’t want like junk mail, mail not addressed you and solicitations.

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Choose the slower shipping option.

All of these things take TIME, but I value the outcome more than the time it takes to bring my plastic bags back to the grocery store.

It takes patience to do these things instead of just throwing stuff into the trash can. Sure, that is easier and sure, that is faster.

But properly taking care of what comes in and out of your life is worth the wait.