Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nature Babycare

So, we've been using the Nature Babycare diapers for about two weeks now. These diapers were made by a "Swedish mum" who read an article in the newspaper that  said every year of a baby's life results in a mountain of used diapers weighing half a ton. That's a lot of dirty diapers. These diapers are chlorine free, breathable, and corn based. And instead of spending millions on TV advertising, they put that money into the product itself and rely on their "ambassadors" to spread the news about their product.  
So, in that spirit, here's my review: They've been every bit as good as "regular" brands--no major blowouts or leaks. My only complaint is that the sticky tabs that fasten at the waist don't stick to the main part of the diaper, so when I try to wrap dirties into a little ball they won't stay closed. But that's no huge deal. The price is right--$9ish for 34 diapers at Target. Also note that they run a bit small--my baby is usually a size three, but their size three is a little small for her. (But maybe she's just having a growth spurt, hard to say.) Overall, I've been happy. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What We're Doing Now

While we're looking at house plans and hoping for a great deal on good land, we're trying to make some good choices at our current home.

G-diapers. I've heard a lot about g diapers, and I recently decided to try them. The biggest problem is the expense and the learning curve. I had no problem getting them figured out, and really had no leakage issues. But when I took the baby to the church nursery, they didn't change her for a few hours (couldn't figure it out? didn't have time? no idea why).  So she was wet all the way through her clothes. Also, Grandma said, "Be sure you don't send her over here in those fake diapers." I think people who aren't interested in eco-issues aren't willing to learn a new style of diapering.
But the real problem is the cost. They're about $.50 per diaper, whereas Huggies are more like $.35. So, I bought some Seventh Generation ones to have on hand and am enjoying them. In fact, I think they're better than Huggies on performance. And I have a package of Target's new Nature Babycare brand, recommended by Sophie Uliano, so we'll see how those are too.

Speaking of Sophie Uliano, I'm reading her book Gorgeously Green and loving it. It's full of great practical advice for real people--not bread-loaf shoe wearing people, as she describes her hippy neighbors who "recycle everything." My favorite thing I've read so far is this site called Skin Deep. You can enter any beauty product you have and it gives you a rating in terms of toxicity. Beware: it's addictive.

Friday, May 9, 2008

You're Hired?

Today we had our first meeting with a potential builder. The gold-chained contractor met us at the door on his cell phone and gave us an "unh" to indicate we were supposed to leave our shoes at the door. This seemed highly unusual, yet coincidental to me, as my book club meeting last night discussed Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. However, the eco-contractor was not of Indian descent.

Back to the story, we went into his office where he whispered "she's a talker" to us while covering the phone with his hand. We sat down into his leather love seat, which nearly swallowed us with it's depth. I felt as small as a school child in the principal's office, but without any of the fear. In fact, it was I who was growing increasingly exasperated with his ongoing phone call. It gave me time to read the notes on his bulletin board--one from "wifey" that said something about going green for God. And he had a nice collection of Christian books and Gore family-related works.

Finally he hung up the phone and addressed us . . . I think. As he talked he was looking out the front window of his house. Not sure what was going on out there--I was busy picking up Cheerios that baby had thrown all over his floor. He was talking about building green as if he were trying to sell us on the concept, but we were clearly already sold on that. I wanted to know his experience, his pedigree. He's built eighty-eight homes in five years, he tells me. Most recently they finished the Gore house, refitting it to be LEED certified. "But I can't give you a cell phone for reference on that job! Heh heh heh. We took some pictures of the work but had to be careful because of paparazzi." In Nashville? It took him a while to finish name dropping, but when he did I think he managed to make himself somewhat credible. And again, being in the house made a difference--you could tangibly tell a difference in the air quality and crisp coolness. It was nice. He said it's heated and cooled using a geothermal system. Quite interesting. 

Ultimately, we think the lot we've been looking at right now isn't right--it's too wooded, no yard, and no room for the kids to ride bikes, etc. So we're still a ways out on making any real decisions. But he said we should expect $100 to $125 per square foot of the house. 

For now I'm going to keep looking at house plans. This guy recommended Frank Betz.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Plat Maps, Is that what they're called?

We went to walk some land this weekend. Yesterday we went to the Cherry Hill property. It's close to our current house and has a great school zone, but the lot is not situated right. It's a 3-acre lot, but almost 1.5 acres of it is just driveway. It's an L-shaped lot, so a lot of the land is unusable. 
Then we went to another lot on Poplar Creek. It's beautiful back there, and this was a big 8-acre lot. It's in a decent school zone--good for elementary but not so much after that. But the lot itself is nice. A heavily wooded area, but a good flat space we could clear for a yard, etc.

Here's what I'm confused about. I cannot get these real estate agents to call me back. It's bizarre. You'd think they'd want to do everything they could to sell this land, especially in the current market. Todd says he thinks it's because my voice sounds young and they assume we can't afford it. But I could be some big movie star or whatever. It's just strange to me that they won't respond. It's bad business. When I worked at the publishing company we were required to return phone calls within 24 hours. And we had to call back same-day to authors or agents, even if it meant staying late, etc. I just don't understand not calling people back when they want to buy stuff from you.

Tip of the day: walk the land, even if it looks great or terrible from the street. (unless, of course, they're some obvious neighborhood issue that makes it a definite no.) But even better, have an agent walk the land with you so you know exactly where the boundary lines are and you have someone to answer the questions you have while you're there.