Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

I Just Forgot March 8, 2013

My little rebel - 2wks old

My little rebel – 2wks old

I forgot about the growth spurt that occurs between the first and third weeks after birth. The typically complacent baby now constantly fussy, red as a grape tomato, and clawing at my breast with small, jagged, never-before-clipped fingernails, suckling night and day to make my breasts produce enough milk to meet her daily intake needs.

I forgot how, insignificant as it seems, those tiny nails produce tiny scratches that lead to very sensitive nipples.

I forgot just how much poop can come out of a bottom the fits in my hand. While pregnant I figured, why set up the changing table? I can just change her diapers on my bed! I’ve been reminded of why changing tables are wonderful. I’d never needed to wash my linen on a daily basis before now.

I forgot that  I should have made time in my daily schedule to pump my breast milk. Even with an expensive electronic pump I’m spending up to one hour each day filling BPA Free 5oz bags. My freezer cannot hold much more.

I forgot the intensity of the nursing thirst. I feel like I can never get enough water. And the hunger, even at night I want to keep eating. I didn’t eat this much my entire pregnancy. And the cravings! Veggies are back on the menu, but for some reason corn, chocolate, and ice cream didn’t leave.

N2I forgot about the fatigue. I don’t know how I survived the majority of my pregnancy on three hours of sleep each night. Even though I go to bed shortly after putting my older girls to sleep, and even though I’m only waking to nurse and pee and change the baby’s diapies, even though we co-sleep, I still wake up low on energy. Like I haven’t slept a wink. What is wrong with me? By 1pm I’m always yawning.

I forgot how quickly the laundry accumulates when you’re cloth diapering. I’m happy to have made 35 gallons of laundry detergent before Baby’s arrival, but I’m still bewildered by the fact that I’m actually doing one load of diapers each day to keep the right sized fitteds, contours, pockets, and covers in rotation.

I forgot about the leaky breasts soaking an entire shirt in minutes. I forgot how time consuming burping a baby can be. I forgot how spit-up only comes out when you’re not protecting your clothing. I forgot how an onset of the hiccups can ruin everything.

But I also forgot how sweet those smiles can be, when they’ve fallen asleep after nursing, and they’re dreaming, but you’re hoping that they’re smiling because they’re dreaming of you.


And I forgot how perfectly unscented their skin is, and how soft their hair, and how chubby their chins, and how round their bellies, and how sparkly their eyes, and how humbling their affection. I forgot how complete it feels to care for a baby. I forgot that my heart would expand and melt simultaneously.

And I never knew how incredibly cute two big sisters would be; eager to help with their baby sister, constantly wanting to hold her, kiss her, never wanting to miss anything.

I suppose there’s a reason I’ve forgotten many aspects of parenting an infant, but there are certain memories that I’ll work to keep with me from now on.


Nesting…or not January 7, 2013

Nesting.GlovesThere’s still so much to get done and nothing is clean enough and nothing stays clean very long around here.

I’m always doing the dishes. I’m always folding the clothes. I’m always cleaning the girls’ room for them because I’m too tired to incorporate it into their schedule.

I’m always cleaning their gerbil cage. I’m always giving the girls baths, washing, conditioning, combing, and braiding their hair. I feel like I never stop cooking.

I am so low on energy as I am still rarely sleeping, but every ounce of me is saying…MUST PREPARE FOR BABY!

I have to get the bookcase disassembled so that I can put up her swing in that corner. This entails removing the knickknacks, boxing the books and moving the boxes down to the cellar. There’s no space in the cellar for the boxes until I bring the baby gear up. There’s no place in the condo to store the baby gear except the kitchen, but I still have the Christmas stuff in the kitchen and the buckets for the laundry detergent. I need to take the Christmas boxes to my storage unit, make three batches of laundry detergent and clear the kitchen space to get the process started.

But I never have the time to make it to my storage unit or the strength and will to load the boxes in the van. I have little opportunity to be in the kitchen making laundry detergent because I cannot seem to get a break from cooking and cleaning. I just…AAUGH!!! There is so much to get done and so little time before she comes and I want everything to be perfect and I’m just not doing enough.

I am not capable of doing so much.Overwhelmed Mother

Despite my desire to get everything perfect I have to listen to my body as well. When I am low on sleep and doing everything to provide for my two little earth-side ladies it’s hard to find the time and energy to focus on Baby #3. I really want everything to be clean and organized and ready, but it’s so hard to do my nesting when I have so many other responsibilities.

School starts back up in ten days. It does not feel like I’ve had nearly one month of a break. I cannot believe that somehow I am supposed to keep up with the every day, my education, a new baby, a three-year old, a five-year old, and the aftermath of a failed marriage. What am I thinking?! How am I going to handle this?!

Keep breathing…that’s the first step. Keep doing what I can handle every day. Keep being the mother that I want my children to remember me being. Keep believing in myself. Keep refusing to quit. I can get through this. Maybe I will not make it to every nook and cranny of the condo, and maybe the baby gear assembling will take the back seat to sorting cloth diapers and infant clothing. The most important part is getting Baby here safely; I must remain confident that I will be able to sustain.

We’re going to make it through this okay. I would feel so much more relaxed though, if I could just dismantle that bookcase.


Just A Tad Bit Overwhelmed October 3, 2012

I should be balancing my checkbook.

I should be doing my reading for my Column Writing course.

I should be writing my paper for Teaching College Composition that’s due on Friday.

I should be reading the 300 pages worth of material that I need to have read by Friday for Teaching College Composition.

I should be writing the Blog Post that was due on Tuesday for Teaching College Composition.

I should be drafting the 6 page Idea Generation Assignment that I have to complete for Column Writing by next week.

I should be writing the paper that is due for Teaching College Composition on Friday, October 12th, because between October 6-11 I will be busy with a four-step peer review process during which I will complete four mini-papers and will not have time to start a new one.

I should be comprising an email to the people who hosted the Printing Facility Tour field trip for the organization I’m President of, to tell them how much we appreciated them and enjoyed it.

I should be emailing the chair of the department to see if he’ll override the restriction to do more than two Directed Studies.

I should be filling out my Master’s Project proposal.

I should be filling out my applications for for my MFA and my PhD for fall 2013

I should be filling out my attorney log (my spreadsheet of times we’ve talked, emailed, or texted so that I can have a detailed record of it, so that when I get her bills I can compare everything).

I should be folding my laundry. I should be washing more laundry. I should be drying more laundry. I should be making more laundry detergent because I’m dipping into my stash.

I should be cleaning the gerbil cage…again. It always stinks to me, even though I clean it twice each week.

I should be running another load of dishes. I have to make more dishwasher detergent first. I should be doing that.

I should be planning the girls’ outfits and lunches for school tomorrow.

I should be contacting the people I plan to interview for my next column which is due in a few weeks.

I should be ordering a few boxes of checks.

I should be working on my Master’s Project now to make less work for after I deliver Baby # 3

I should be more active with blogging. Reading other people’s posts. Commenting when things intrigue me.

I should be cleaning the bills, homework, papers from the girls’ school, and whatnot off of my kitchen table.

I should be resting, because I am under the weather, and my throat is hoarse.

But I do not have time to rest, because there’s too much that I should be need to be doing.

I should get going…



Homemade Laundry Detergent August 20, 2012

I’ve been trying to do my best to plan sensibly for Baby # 3. I saved all of the gear, cloth diapers, wipes, bibs, and burp cloths from my first two babies. I have plenty of clothing if I’m having a girl, but, for the first time, I’m going to find out the Baby’s sex so that I can prepare accordingly. I spent the first few weeks of my pregnancy making a Plan A and B and C for all of the bigger things (i.e. how to continue with my schooling after the baby’s birth, how to survive financially, how to make sure that my girls still get time with me and avoid sibling rivalry). Now that I am 16 weeks pregnant I have time to focus on smaller things. One of my first goals was to make several extra batches of laundry detergent. By several I specifically mean ten, and by batches I mean five-gallon buckets full; so yes, 50 gallons of surplus laundry detergent in all.

You may be thinking that 50 gallons of laundry detergent is excessive, but I reasoned with this: we usually use one five-gallon bucket every month and a half (give or take half a bucket depending on the season, number of bed-wetting accidents, and the amount of spills the girls make with their cups, or splashes that come out of the bathtub). I figure that since I’ll be exclusively cloth diapering Baby #3 we’ll be using a maximum of ten gallons of detergent every month. More than likely it’ll be less, but I wanted to be on the safe side. I wanted to know that I could go a full five months after Baby’s arrival without having to make another batch.

It’s not extremely difficult to make a batch of laundry detergent; tedious and slightly dangerous, but it could be accomplished while a baby is napping. However, I am quite sure that I will have a lot of needs pining for my attention while Baby is napping, and I figure that once I have the detergent surplus there will be one less thing I’ll have to worry about doing soon after Baby is born. Thus far, I have made five surplus batches. My goal is to make one batch of detergent each week until I reach my surplus goal. Some weeks I may be replacing one of my two in-use buckets, so it may take me another two months to be officially complete, but I am excited to be planning ahead and creating a sweet relief for my postpartum phase.


Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe


Yields: Five-gallon bucket nearly full (approximately two inches from the top)



1 five-gallon bucket

1 long-handled wooden spoon

Cheese grater

Enough pots to boil 6 quarts of water and a pot to heat 4 ½ quarts of water with room to stir ingredients



4 ½ Quarts of Water

1 Bar of Zote Soap, grated

1 ½ Cups of Washing Soda

1 ½ Cups of Borax

3 Quarts of Hot Water

6 Quarts of Boiling Water

4 ½ Quarts of Hot Water

15 drops of Essential Oil (Optional – I use tea tree oil)



Start heating 6 quarts of water to a boil. In a large pot, mix 4 ½ quarts of water with the grated Zote Soap. Heat the mixture on medium and the soap will dissolve. Stir the Washing Soda and Borax into the mixture. Continue heating the mixture, but do not let it boil. Stir the mixture until it thickens (less than five minutes), and then remove the pot from heat.

Add 3 quarts of hot water to the bucket then add the soap mixture from the pot and mix well. Add the 6 quarts of boiling water to the bucket and mix well. Add an additional 4 ½ quarts of hot water to the bucket. If you’re using essential oils add these now. Mix the contents of the bucket.

Let the mixture set for 24 hours or until it thickens. Use 1-3 cups of the mixture per load of laundry (use more for heavily soiled clothing).


My mother-in-law gave me this recipe about seven years ago. I have used it consistently for six years and through two exclusively cloth diapered babies. It cleans everything, smells wonderful, and doesn’t leave residue or cause skin irritations. We love it, and if you try it let me know what you think!