March 30, 2010

Favorite books: One for the moms (and a giveaway)

You might remember that when my friend Annie guest posted about parenting boys, she mentioned the book Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys.

She gave me a copy as a gift after Ben was born and I tell you the truth - it has become my handbook for raising boys. It doesn't give all the answers and I still have a lot left to read (I've read & re-read the information for the stages that my boys are in), but I find myself sitting there with wide eyes, nodding my head and shouting things like, "YES!" and "EXACTLY!"

One of the most poignant parts is when the author talks about (and explains why) parents of boys so often say to themselves, "WHAT WAS HE THINKING?!" The book has made me feel less alone, and reassured me that Jack dumping full cups of water all over the bathroom floor because he wants puddles to jump in is perfectly normal behavior. Not necessarily acceptable, but normal.

I'm so thrilled with this book that I want to give a copy away to someone. So, that's what I'm going to do. If you have boys, know someone with boys, think that maybe you might have a boy someday, or think that you might know someone who might have a boy someday, you should enter. If you already have it, I'm happy to send it to someone else and include a gift note from you.

Here's how you can enter up to three times:
1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Leave a comment on this post letting me know that you blogged about it.
3. Leave a comment on this post letting me know that you post a twitter or facebook status update with a link to this post.

**If you're reading this on facebook, only comments on the blog count . . . click here to go to the blog.**

I've only done one giveaway before and I had maybe 10 - 15 people enter, so I'd say your chances of winning are good. Don't miss out.

Edited to add: Whoops. Forgot a deadline. Let's say Friday, April 2 by 9 AM.

March 29, 2010

Dear Ben, Month 6

Dear Ben,

Before we knew if you were a boy or a girl, I told everyone that I would be happy either way. And that's true.I would have been.

But secretly, deep down, I wanted another boy. OK, maybe not so secretly, because I shared that desire with quite a few people. Needless to say, when the ultrasound technician told us that you would be, well . . . that you would be you . . . my heart was full.

My reasons for wanting another boy were many, but the biggest might have been my excitement about the friendship that will inevitably form between you and your brother. Of course I know that there will be fights and squabbles, but I really do hope that you will be close and love each other.

Now that you're crawling, the fights and squabbles seem to have already begun. You favor his toys over yours and will make a beeline (well, as much of a beeline as a new crawler can make) for his fire truck, stethoscope and books whenever possible. These are a few of Jack's favorite toys, Ben. It's almost like you know that.

So, Jack will yell at you, place one hand firmly on your back, and push you down so that you can't crawl anymore. And he'll often yank the toy out of your hand. Sometimes you just lay there. Sometimes you start crying. But most of the time, you scream until I rescue you. Ahhh, brothers. I'm confident that this will get better and you'll learn to play with each other rather than against each other.

You're crawling is kind of funny. We call it a "bear crawl" because you do it on your hands and the soles of your feet, only occasionally dropping to your knees. It always looks like you're about to stand up and walk away. You're so entertaining . . . I could just sit and watch you all day. You love to make your way over to the vent near the window and just stick your fingers in it. It's not clean, but it keeps you busy. Life was easier when you were stationary, but I'm still loving this stage.

As I write this, your dad is going through Jack's old clothes and pulling out things that will fit you now. As we look at certain pieces, I'm amazed at how much it seems like just yesterday that Jack was wearing that stuff. It feels like we just put it away.

And now you're wearing it . . . and before we know it, we'll be putting it away again.

Life passes so quickly. You're growing up so fast.

My prayers for you are many, but tonight I pray that you'll grow up knowing how much you're loved . . . that you'll realize how capable and wonderful we think that you are. And that you'll remember that God's heart is filled with tenderness and delight at the mere thought of you.



March 28, 2010

one half of a year

Ben turned 6 months old last week . . . it just kind of snuck up on us!

There's a lot I could write about this stage . . . including, but not limited to, the fact that he's still not eating solid foods regularly because we keep forgetting to feed him, other than nursing. Awesome parenting, no?

The funniest thing right now is his crawling. He often crawls like a bear . . . on his hands and feet rather than his hands and knees. Hilarious. With a little effort, he can get anywhere he wants to go now and I lose him sometimes when I get distracted. Jack isn't too excited about his newfound freedom, but he'll just have to get used to it.

He was under the weather last week, but rebounded over the weekend. It's good to hear him laugh again.

I love being his Mom.

March 23, 2010

I do not scrapbook.

I have all the respect in the world for those of you who can cut and paste your way to amazing photo albums of your children and your memories. But I am not one of them.

I used to be. I have some great scrapbooks from my college days. But I think photos from my senior year are still sitting sorted in a box, because I got tired of it.

So, why on earth am I in charge of a scrapbooking weekend? Good question. It's a part of my job. We host one at camp every year and we have close to 50 women coming this year. I usually just spend the weekend walking around and admiring their work. I know good design when I see it, so I can appreciate what they do. I just don't want to do it myself.

Getting ready for that this weekend has consumed me this week. I had Kyle lug my desktop computer (and 27" monitor . . . yikes) up to the Field House so that I can work while I oversee the weekend. Why not get stuff done, right? The only down side is that there's no internet access up there. Just typing that broke a little piece of my heart right off.

In other news this week, if you haven't checked out the re-vamped less ordinary designs blog, head on over. I've been posting regular ideas and articles and will be periodically posting free downloads. You're welcome.

In other, other news, I've been thinking hard and having interesting e-mail conversations with some super talented professionals about starting an actual custom photography business. I'm kind of at the point where I need to either go for it, or cut back.

This winter, it was, um, brought to my attention on more than one occasion that I need to re-prioritize and make my life less crazy. Because I can do it all. I really can. It's just that none of it will be done very well.

So we've discussed time commitment, price structures, what I need to improve, what I'd need to give up, etc. I've been wading for a while, and I'm just trying to weigh my options and decide if I want to dive in or not. Because wading is comfortable. And you can do it without having to put on a swimsuit. But diving in . . . well, it's a lot more time and you feel a little less clothed and more vulnerable. Through this process, I've been spending time looking back at photos I've taken over the last two years . . . I've come an incredibly LONG way. And I still have a long way to go.

Life is good just busy. Hopefully I'll resume regular posting next week!


Because the small moments are often the ones that matter most . . .


It's incredible how much damage a 2 1/2 year old can do in a matter of 30 seconds


Jack: I really miss winter. Me: We DO NOT talk like that in this house.

Jack just said, "I'm afraid I can't finish my dinner, 'cause my thumb hurts."

Ben is loving these moments of being able to crawl around in the living room without fear of being trampled by his big brother.


Jack just looked at Kyle and said, "Whatchu talkin' about WIllis?" In my 2 1/2 years of parenting, I don't think I've ever been prouder.

Mother nature is such a tease.


Jack just said, "Happy Warmer Day, Mom. Congratulations." I guess he's aware of how much I love warm weather.

"It's okay Liz Lemon. You're an amazing, strong, intelligent woman like Hillary . . . . from Fresh Prince of Bel Air."


I can't hear "Don't Stop Believing" without thinking of Glee. Sorry, Journey.

I'm not gonna lie . . . it hasn't been a great day. I think potato chips might help.


Wanna know what things you say a lot? Spend the day with my 2 1/2 year old.

Jack is very upset about the SQUIRREL PLAYING ON HIS SWING SET! And he's even more upset that I'm laughing at him.


Jack insists on wearing his underwear backwards so that he can see the character on the front. Whatever.


Enjoying our back yard on this beautiful day!


Heading home from Chicago after springing forward is like losing 2 hours.


Thank you Sweet Mandy B's!

Waiting for the train.


Ben got his first tooth overnight! Chicago will do that to you, I suppose.


I told Jack no more movies in the car. So now he's basically reenacting Follow That Bird in the back seat.

Me: Do you know where we're going on our mystery trip? Jack: Chicago? Me: How did you know that?! Jack: I'm very smart.

I found Jack dumping the entire canister of Ben's dry rice cereal into the sink. He just smiled, looked at me and said, "You're welcome."

Does working out "count" if it's immediately followed by a bag of cool ranch doritos?

March 21, 2010

Proof . . .

. . . that Ben has his first two teeth.

And perhaps that Kyle could stand to moisturize once in a while.

Just for fun . . . here's Jack when he was at this stage.

5 baby things

In honor of the 14 bajillion pregnant friends and family members I have right now (including a niece who is due ANY DAY), here are a few baby things that I absolutely love or I absolutely couldn't live without. Sometimes both.

If you ask enough people, you'll get 100 different recommendations on strollers, travel systems, toys, car seats, etc. And every single person will try and sell you the one that they have as if they earn some sort of commission on it. The bottom line is buy what's right for you. But my biggest piece of advice is to be sure you really look into a product and choose one that is well-made, and not just super cute.

1. Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe

We received two or three floor gyms as gifts before Jack was born and we were happy with them all. When Jack was about 5 months old, Kyle's mom found the Tiny Love one on clearance at Meijer. Jack didn't play with it much because he was in the beginning stages of crawling, but he still did get some use out of it.

Ben, however, has spent more time on this floor gym than I can calculate. The best part is that babies can lay on their backs, tummies, or sit up and find things to do on this mat. The dangling animals can be moved to different heights and locations around the mat, so if you want your child to kick them or grab them, or reach for them while sitting up, you can hang them accordingly. I have yet to find a play mat that I think is as great as this one.

It does have an area on the mat that babies can touch and it lights up and plays music, but once the batteries ran out we didn't replace them. It was nice, but not our favorite feature of the mat.

2. Grass Roots Drying Rack

I bought this from Target a few weeks ago and considered it a splurge. We did need a drying rack, but probably could have saved $10 and bought a different one. But I decided to go ahead and get it because it was a small enough splurge to not break the bank but a big enough splurge ($15) to make it fun.

But this thing is more than just pretty. It's functional, too! I can get SO MANY bottles and accessories on this thing. I love it.

3. Bumbleride Indie Twin Stroller

For most people, this stroller would be considered a HUGE splurge. And it was. But when you consider that the boys come to work with us for 12 hours a day all summer, and get pushed around the camp's dirt roads in a stroller all summer, a sturdy, well made, double stroller was essential.

We bought our 2009 model used on ebay and it came with LOTS of accessories that would have cost us in excess of $1000 purchase new separately, so we felt like we got a pretty good deal.

My requirements were many for a double stroller . . . side by side, able to hold a car seat carrier on one side, able to fit through a standard doorway, plenty of storage, good shade coverage, air filled tires, decent shock absorption, easy to fold up. This has all of them.

We now own 5 strollers. Oh yeah, we're THOSE people. We have this travel system (in green & gray . . . the colors aren't available on amazon, but they are in Babies "R" Us) and are still thrilled with it 2 1/2 years later. We have this umbrella stroller (in red) and this double umbrella stroller. We also have this jogging stroller that we used quite a bit with Jack at camp and for walks at home. It's held up very well.

When I was pregnant with Jack I saw a special on the Today Show about how many strollers some parents have and I was all like, "That's ridiculous." Sigh. I'm one of them now. But we really do use them all.

No really . . . we do.

4. Pilates Ball

I swear to you, a pilates ball will do what no rocking chair can do for putting a baby to sleep. When Jack was about a week old, he would sleep and one of us had the idea to bounce on it and . . . voila! Life was never the same. And Ben . . . if we bounced for about 30 seconds, he was out. It can work baby magic.

Plus, with a little practice, you can work on strengthening your core at the same time.

My only caution to new moms is to let dad bounce with the baby until after your six-week check-up. Let's just say that it caused issues for me the first time around.

5.The Happiest Baby on the Block

We had this book with Jack, but didn't really get a chance to read it. I did, however, reada bout 30 other books . . . I'll share those with you another time. With Ben, I found it and had a chance to go through it. It's a great book.

I spent a lot of the last 6 months thinking, "I SO wish I had read this when I had Jack." Great tips for keeping your baby happy, helping him to sleep and reducing fussiness.

I highly recommend it.

March 20, 2010

Favorite Books: Board books

I know I've made lots of recommendations of books that Jack loves, but now that Ben's getting older, I'm pulling out the board books that have been abandoned for a few months. Oh, boy . . . the memories! I can recite all of these from memory!

These all would make excellent baby shower gifts, as well!

I Love You All The Time
We received this as a shower gift. The illustrations aren't my favorite, but the words are so special. This is one of the first books that Jack would sit and listen to all the way through without trying to wiggle away or eat the book.

Goodnight Moon
Is there any child that doesn't have this book? Is there any parent that doesn't have it memorized? This was the first book that Jack knew well enough to read to me.

Gossie and Gertie (Gossie and Friends)
This isn't MY favorite book, but Jack went through a stage where it's the only book he wanted to read. And because of it, when ever I talk about two individuals being friends, I always want to add, ". . . best friends."

The Going-To-Bed Book
A classic bedtime story . . . whenever I see the cover, I think of the last words that say "They rock and rock and rock to sleep." Jack and I would always say that line together as we rocked in his glider.

I Love You Stinky Face
This is a FUN book. It's about a boy saying, "What if I was a (fill in the blank)? Would you love me then?" And then the mom tells exactly why she would still love him and what she would do to show him that she loved him.

March 17, 2010

Menu planning

Something that I didn't understand before I had a family was the difficulty of menu planning. I'm sure it comes naturally for some people, but I am not one of those people. Honestly, I'd be happy with a bowl of cereal or oatmeal for dinner every night. In fact, for most of college and my two years on my own out of college, I consumed more cereal than I did anything else.

When we were first married, I'd cook these elaborate meals that we both loved. The challenges now are a) we don't have the kind of time we used to, b) dinner is usually at 5 to give us enough time for playtime and bedtime routines afterward and c) we have a toddler who doesn't like all of the things we do.

Remember the recipe for "Yummy Chicken" I posted last week? Well, I figured out where it came from: Dine without Whine. They have a sample menu/shopping list posted on their site and I had bookmarked it a while back. I liked a few of the recipes so last week, I decided to try it out for a month. It's $6.95 a month and so far, I've been pleased with the recipes. In fact, I'm eating the last of a fantastic Peanut-Beef Dinner that I made on Monday and I realized that we've actually consumed ALL of the leftovers. This never happens.

The recipes are WAY simple and the ingredients are easy to find. I wouldn't say that the recipes are super healthy, but they are well balanced. I won't try all of the recipes they send, because some of them just aren't "us." But I have tried a few that I was skeptical about (i.e. Peanut-Beef Dinner) and we've loved them!

I think my favorite part of the program is that the shopping lists are letter coded. So, if you know you want to make recipes A, C and F, you just purchase the items on the shopping list with an A, C or F next to them. Most other menu planning sites give you one list and you have to sort through if you aren't going to make some of the things on the list.

So, there's my plug for Dine Without Whine. Check it out.

March 16, 2010

Everything's changing so fast . . .

We went to Chicago last weekend to see my sister.

Ben woke up on Friday morning with his first tooth. I was feeling his gums Thursday night because he was gnawing on everything he could get his hands on, but there was nothing there. Sure enough, Friday morning, there was a tooth.

Then on Sunday morning, he woke up with a second. Chicago will do that to you, I suppose.

He wasn't especially fussy leading up to the teeth breaking through, but he's been fussy ever since.

Seriously. Fussy. I'm so used to him having such a sweet temperament, so it's odd to have him so clingy and cranky.

Jack succeeded at zipping up his coat by himself over the weekend, which now further delays us getting out the door because he MUST DO IT BY HIMSELF. He's so proud of himself, though. I am, too.

Jack spent most of our Chicago weekend in a diaper, because the last thing you need when you're on the 'L' is to hear "Uh, I have to go potty." Kyle pointed out that it usually smells like lots of people use the train as a bathroom, but I wouldn't have my child be one of them.

SO, when we got home he was more than ready to be back in underwear and we've only had one accident since we've been home. I think the discomfort of the diaper for a weekend was a good thing.

Ben is now going from sitting to pseudo-crawling, and then pushing himself from pseudo-crawling back to sitting, which is amazing to me. I guess I expected these things to come slowly to him, and I'm not sure why. Maybe because he's so much more laid back than Jack was. Maybe it was just wishful thinking.

He so funny because he can't quite figure out how to get his legs and arms moving in sync, so when he gets frustrated, he pushes up onto his feet, hops forward a little and then moves his hands. It almost looks like he's getting ready to do a somersault. He tried (unsuccessfully) to pull himself up on a basket of Jack's toys this afternoon, and it's a good thing Jack was napping because I can only imagine the drama it would have caused if Jack saw Ben touching HIS toys.

While we were in Chicago, we had a chance to see friends we hadn't seen since Jack was Ben's age! However, through the magic of the Internet, it didn't feel like it had been that long because we keep in touch. Annie's expecting her third boy and I had a chance to take some photos of their family. Here's a sneak peek for them . . .

March 13, 2010

Music to my ears . . .

We visited friends in the suburbs of Chicago yesterday and had such a good time with them. But by the time we left, the boys were spent and ready for a nap. As we were heading back into the city, we assumed that they'd be asleep in the car within minutes.

Jack started making these obnoxious noises and just as I asked him to stop, Ben starting laughing at him. So, of course, we told him to keep making them! i think they were both so tired that they had crossed over to slaphappy.

I was holding my phone over my head to try and get video of him in his car seat, so my apologies if it makes you seasick.

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.



Kyle just sent a picture of him and the boys at the zoo . . . I'm getting a lot done, but I miss them.


It's 7:15 AM and I'm the only one in my house who's awake.

I'm definitely going to start telling Kyle that I love him more than rainbows.

March 5
Because my husband can't say, "no" we just bought a TON of meat from a door to door salesman.

I have one boy using the potty regularly and one boy just about crawling. It's been an eventful week.

Jack just looked out the window and said, "I SEE GRASS!"

March 4

Someone likes hobby lobby as much as his mom . . .

Dear ben, please work on cutting teeth when playing. Not while nursing. Thanks.

March 3

I'm making Ben watch 16 & Pregnant with me so that he'll realize how good he has it.

Toad in the hole = huge breakfast success

The boys and I have had a great time together over the last few days but I'm excited for Kyle to come home tomorrow!

Every time Jack goes to the potty on his own initiative, I swear to you, I hear a choir of angels singing the hallelujah chorus.

March 1

Me: Jack, why did you wet your pants? You did so well today. Jack: The day's over, mom.

Hmmm . . . Has Jodi been teaching Jack all of her secrets?

At what point can I stop throwing a party every time Jack goes potty?

March 12, 2010

The evolution of a crawl . . .

I took this video over the course of the last two weeks or so. I don't have any of this week though, and I wish I did. He's growing up so fast! It seems like just yesterday that I was taking this video.

Bennett trying to crawl . . . from Sara on Vimeo.

March 11, 2010

I know it seems cruel . . .

Do you remember this video of Jack when he was about 5 months old? No really . . . if you haven't seen it, you need to go watch it in order to appreciate what's coming next.

It just might break your heart.

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.

March 10, 2010

Q & A (continued)

Where are Ben's overalls from?
They were a gift from his Aunt Karina. She got them from Baby Gap.

What program do I use for creating cards?
I use the Adobe Creative Suite. I'm awesome with InDesign. I'm great with photoshop. I'm still a beginner with Illustrator. I spend so much time on these programs that they've started to feel like old friends. Just kidding. Kind of.

How did I get started in the stationery business?
There's a long version and a short version . . . the short version is that I had some training on these programs in college that I carried over and began using quite a bit in my real job. With lots of practice, I became pretty good on them. When my son was born, I designed his announcement. Then my niece's announcement. Then a save the date card. Then a few friends encouraged me to set up a shop and . . . voila! The rest is history.

The long version includes anecdotes about our first computer, a dot matrix printer and me using my dad's business copy machine to make duplicates of the "newsletters" that I wanted to send out to family members . . . but my mom never let me. No kidding . . . I used to look at my Highlights magazines and think about how I would have laid the page out differently. Maybe I'll dedicate a post to the long version at another time.

Do you have a photography business?
Well, yes and no. Technically, photography is listed as a part of my business on my incorporation papers. And people do contact me to book photo sessions. But I don't have a photography website, nor do I advertise. I might open a site in the future, but for now, I take all I can handle.

I'm my own worst critic when it comes to photography and right now, my insecurities in this area are too numerous to list.

So, maybe someday. We'll see.

What is your real job?
I work as a program director for a Christian camp. The camp is an RV campground, a retreat rental facility and an overnight youth camp. Kyle and I run the summer and winter youth camps and I also work with the marketing and keep up the web site.

I love my job. LOVE it. I've been working at the camp for almost 10 years (though I thought I'd only work there for one) and have been in my current position for 7 years.

Part of the reason I love my job so much is that I love small groups. That's a weird thing to love, right? In grad school, I took a course called "Small group processes" followed by "Small group curriculum" and I was so interested in how small groups and communities of small groups are transformational . . . or maybe I should say can be transformational. And while there are A LOT of different things that go into my job, the best part (for me) is that I get to train counselors to lead their small groups of kids during each week of the summer. Sometimes I wish I could be in a situation in which the groups were more long term and we could do more follow up, but I love what I get to be a part of at camp. I think I need to dedicate an entire post just to the benefits of sending your child to camp.

Thoughts on keeping a blog public v. private
It depends on your situation and your purpose. If your purpose is to just update family and friends or to only keep a record of your life, go private. No problem. If you would also like to use your blog to encourage and connect with others . . . public is the way to go. I would say a down side to making your blog private is that you can only invite a limited number of people to read it and if you have more readers than the limit, they're out of luck. But the down side to having it public is the obvious . . . everyone can have their nose in your business. Sorry that I'm no help there!

March 9, 2010

On cloth diapers

When I tell people we're using cloth diapers, they often think I'm crazy. I know when I used to hear about it, I thought it was crazy. But most of the time, people are still thinking of the old school diapers, diaper pins and rubber pants. In fact, at many popular baby stores, that's ALL they sell. I can't even believe that people still use diaper pins.

Cloth diapers have come a long way in the last 10 - 20 years . . . so far that the options are overwhelming! When I started researching and trying to decide what we'd use, I was totally overwhelmed by the options. Pockets, prefolds, all-in-ones, organic, covers, fitted diapers . . . I had no idea what to buy and where to begin.

Fortunately, I have an old friend from high school who opened a cloth diaper store and she was able to talk me through it. I highly recommend shopping on her site. Shipping is incredibly fast and it's a mom-owned business . . . and you know how fond I am of mom-owned businesses.

The way I see it, there are really three main options when choosing cloth diapers. . .

1. Prefolds or fitted diapers with covers. In this case, you use a cloth diaper with a separate cover over it. When you change the baby, you can change out the diaper and as long as the cover isn't soiled, you can re-use it.

2. Pocket Diapers. With these, the diaper is two pieces . . . a cover with an insert stuffed in the pocket.

3. All-in-ones. One diaper, one piece . . . the most like disposables.

I won't go into what I know about each of these, because you can find it all on Emily's site.

I'll just tell you what I did . . . and then I'll tell you what I would do if I could do it all over again knowing what I know now.

24 - Indian Prefolds
We loved the prefolds and covers. For the first few weeks, when it seems like you go through a diaper every hour or two, it was the easiest (and cheapest) way to diaper. Ben was big enough for the pocket diapers right from the beginning, but we still used the prefolds because we liked them so much.

2 - Thirsties duowrap cover
Loved these.

1 - Thirsties cover
This, too.

1 - Bummi's Super Whisper Wrap (I actually won this on a blog giveaway).
Liked this, too.

8 - Bum Genius 3.0 Pocket Diapers
We ended up buying more of these after we decided that we liked them. They work well for us and we don't really have any complaints. But it was kind of an "ignorance is bliss" thing because if we could do it over, we found that we like a different diaper MUCH better than these.

We actually used the Bum Genius diapers with Jack for a while until Bennett was born, but at that point the laundry with two kids in cloth got overwhelming, so we switched back to disposable for Jack.

2 - Snappis
We used these maybe twice. It was easier and just as effective to use the cover to keep the diaper closed and we never had any trouble with it.

3 - Wet Bags
We bought three wet bags in different sizes and use them when we travel.

I originally took some of Jack's old receiving blankets and cut those up to use as wipes.

As I experimented and talked to other moms, I tried new products and sent Emily a million e-mails, we finally figured out what we liked best and here's exactly what I would buy if I were to do it all over again.

24 - Indian prefolds . . . we did buy larger prefolds and covers now that Ben is bigger, but we rarely use them.

4 - Thirsties covers
While I've grown to like diapers with snaps best, I think the velcro covers would be easier if you don't use a snappi.

12 - Fuzzibunz Perfect Size Diapers (and I would have added more later) 12 - Fuzzibunz Freetime Diapers
We thought we loved Bum Genius 3.0s. And we did . . . until we tried Fuzzibuns. I didn't think I'd like snaps, but they provide a much better fit than the velcro does. AND, the velcro always seems to cut into Ben's belly and cause them to be a little more stiff but the snaps don't do that at all. I noticed that when he was in the BG 3.0s he seemed to move less, have a harder time sitting up and didn't roll over as easily. The Fuzzibuns are less bulky and seem to be a little softer, too.

We did try the Fuzzibunz One-size diapers and we like those, too. But adjusting the elastic just seems a little cumbersome and they don't seem to fit any better than the perfect size diapers.

Edited to add (on 8/20/2013):  With baby #2 we sold all of our Bum Genius Pocket diapers and Fuzzibunz and used the Bum Genius Freetime.  Those were perfect for us.  No complaints at all.

We do like the BGs but I wish we had tried the Fuzzbunz sooner, before we put so much money into the Bum Genius diapers. We also tried Happy Heineys and DO NOT like them at all.

4 - Bum Genius All-In-One
Sweet mercy . . . I love these diapers. If you can afford it, you might just buy these and skip pocket diapers altogether. They're so convenient and perfect for babysitters and times when you're on the go. We bought 4 of these for Ben for Christmas and I might end up buying a few more. They're absorbent, soft and the perfect diaper. The best part? No diaper stuffing needed. Just wash and throw them back in the diaper drawer!  Edited to add (on 8/20/2013): I still love these.  If budget allowed, I'd still use these only.

20 - Fuzzibunz Wonder Wipes
I mentioned that I cut up Jack's old receiving blankets and used them as wipes . . . and they worked ok. Originally, these wipes seemed so expensive. I broke down and bought some before Christmas, and I kid you not . . . they made me wish I could use them because they're so soft! They are well worth the investment.

1 - Honey Chunks
We disolve these in water and add them with our wipes into the Wipes Warmer that we used to use with our disposable wipes. If you must go organic, that's fine, but the regular smell AMAZING. We also added some of this solution to a small spray bottle for the diaper bag.

1 - Magic Stick
Even if we switched back to disposable diapers today, I would continue to use this for diaper rash prevention. It works so much better than any diaper rash cream we ever tried (and we literally tried dozens with Jack). Plus, I love that you just spread it on . . . no messy fingers!

3 - Wet bags
These are a must-have for traveling with cloth diapers. If you have old grocery bags, you can recycle them to use for this purpose, but it is nice just being able to throw the wet bag in with the diapers.

If you're wanting to buy the bare minimum to get started, I'd get the prefolds, covers, wipes and Magic stick.

We use our Diaper Dekor Plus Diaper Disposal System that we used with Jack's disposables. We had someone on etsy make us custom liners for it and it works perfectly. The down side is that it doesn't hold as many diapers as normal diaper pails, but because we have an HE washer (more on that below) we can't wash as many diapers at once as the larger diaper pails would hold.


  • The diaper rash that Jack had been dealing with for MONTHS went away within a week of using cloth with him. Totally gone. We had used every over the counter ointment and two prescription ointments and it would clear up, but always come back. We stopped using the creams and started using the diapers and it was completely gone. I honestly think this is the reason that Jack preferred cloth. The only diaper rash Ben has experienced was while he was wearing dispoable.
  • This is kind of superfluous, but Jack really liked the fun colors. I didn't think he'd care, but he liked being able to choose which color diaper he wanted.
  • I was skeptical about cost savings, because I wondered how much it would add to our bills because of all of the laundering. The savings is significant. We still buy disposables for when we take him to the nursery at church or when we have babysitters, but we've spent so little on disposables, we've already seen the savings. I wondered if we'd see a spike in energy costs because of all the laundry, but it hasn't been an issue.
  • The waste factor. Again, I was skeptical about how much waste it really saved. You use A LOT of water and energy to wash the diapers. A disposable diaper company put out a study that showed that the amount of resources taken to wash cloth diapers outweighed the amount of waste from disposable diapers. HOWEVER, the study assumed that people using disposable diapers scraped the poo from the diapers into the toilet. Yes, you're supposed to do that even with disposables. But do you know ANYONE who actually does? I do not.

    Also, the study doesn't even mention the water footprint left by making the diapers. It takes an insane amount of water to produce a disposible diaper. THis isn't factored into their study at all.

  • First of all, if you can't handle extra laundry, cloth diapers aren't for you. My friend, Sarah, said something about it when I first started (because she hates doing laundry) and I didn't think much of it. I don't mind laundry, but if I did, cloth diapers would be awful.

    Cloth diapers + HE washers = HUGE pain in the rear. Plus, with a septic system, you're not supposed to use powdered laundry detergent, so we have to spend a little more to get the right kind of liquid. But, we finally have a routine figured out and it doesn't really seem like a big deal anymore.
  • When we started cloth diapering with Jack, we were to the point where I didn't need to carry a diaper bag anymore. I stuck a disposable and a wipes case in my bag and that was it. Wen we went to cloth, I was back to carrying a diaper bag (cloth diapers, wipes and wet bag didn't fit as well in my purse).
  • In order to make it absorbent enough for Jack, the diapers were very bulky. They're bulkier on Ben, too. I wondered if there would ever be a study that showed that children in cloth diapers hit milestones more slowly than children in disposables because Ben had such a hard time moving in them. BUT, using Fuzzibunz was the answer to that question.
  • Chaffing. More poor little baby's legs started chaffing badly at about 3 weeks or so. We switched to disposable for a week, then switched back and we've never had the problem again!

March 8, 2010

Favorite Author: Mo Willems

One of my favorite children's authors is Mo Willems. I love his books as much as Jack does and like I said in my last "favorite books" post, I think the best children's books are the ones that I don't want to hide can enjoy, too.

He wrote one of our bedtime favorites . . . Leonardo, the Terrible Monster.

It's all about a monster who is terrible at scaring people. SPOILER ALERT! He eventually realizes that he can become a wonderful friend, instead.

While we don't own the Knuffle Bunny books, they are our absolute favorites by Mo Willems. We've checked them out from the library more times than I can count and as I type this, I'm wondering why I haven't purchased them yet. All of the illustrations are drawn into New York City photos.

Also, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed . . . I, uh, I mean Jack loves that one, too! It's all about a Naked Mole Rat who is made fun of because he likes to wear clothes.

We also have Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, There Is a Bird On Your Head!, and I bought the new Cat the Cat, Who Is That? books for Jack's Easter basket.

While I haven't read them all, my guess is that there isn't a book by Mo Willems that we wouldn't love!

March 7, 2010

Splish Splash

We enrolled Jack in swimming lessons for the next 8 weeks. The best part? On the nights he has lessons, he comes home exhausted and bedtime is a piece o' cake.

It's a parent/child class and Kyle takes him instead of me because, well, you know.

They're very unstructured. Kyle basically just plays in the water with Jack and the instructor goes from child to child and works with them individually. It's basically to help him become more comfortable in the water.

We were bummed because if Ben was one month older, he could have taken the class, too. Then again, that would have required me to put on a bathing suit, so I guess I'm thankful.

This last Thursday, Jack successfully floated on his own (for a few seconds, but still . . .), blew bubbles, and went under the water. This was all HUGE for him! He hates me even to rinse his hair with a cup of water in the bath.

I'm a proud Mama.

March 6, 2010

Dear Jack, Month 33

Dear Jack,

You came up to me when I was making dinner the other night and said, "I just went potty." I sighed and said, "OK, show me where you were standing and let's get you some clean pants."

And then I realized that you meant that you actually went IN the potty.

I am so pleased to say that over the last 4 or 5 days, we've crossed over to the other side of potty training. The side in which you wear underpants more than diapers. The side in which you go without me having to tell you. Sure, there are still occasional accidents (actually, three this morning when we had company over). And you still wear a diaper at night time and nap time. But we're headed in the right direction.

This morning, I got really frustrated with you when you had a potty accident. We had friends over at the time, you wet your pants and then Ben spit up all over me. I handed Ben off and took you to the bathroom and apologized for not being as kind as I should have been. After all, it was an accident.

Sometimes I say things that I shouldn't and react in ways that I shouldn't. You don't deserve that and I always wish I could take those times back. I always apologize and you tell me that you forgive me. My hope is that you won't remember me getting mad as much as you will remember my apology, and that you won't remember feeling bad as much as you will remember forgiving me.

You're becoming independent in more areas than I can count. You pretty much dress yourself in the morning, but I usually have to remind you that the tag goes in the back. Your response to that is usually, "But then how can I read it?" When we leave the house, you often insist on putting your own shoes on, as well. Which means we have to add about 20 minutes extra to our "getting ready" time.

Before your brother came along, I always used to tell you that you were my favorite. And in some ways, you still are. You're my favorite 2-year-old. My favorite oldest child. My favorite Jackson. You're the only one there will ever be.

I love you so much.


March 5, 2010

My kitchen

I was looking through old video last week and found a clip of me giving a tour of our apartment when Kyle and I had been married for only 4 or 5 months. I should really post that here sometime. Wouldn't that be amusing? Anyway, I loved seeing it and remembering what it was like living there.

Then the next day, I found pictures of our house from the first year that we moved in (2005). It was interesting to see how we had furniture arranged, the different decorations that we had up that I had completely forgotten about. Just a few little things brought all sorts of memories.

SO, I decided that I'm going to take some pictures of our house and post them here . . . complete with descriptions and explanations. So, this might be a little boring for you and I give you the okay to skip this post.

A couple of notes/realizations:
  • I did this on a whim (which is why the pictures aren't that great) and took zero time to clean up. This is really how you would find my kitchen on any average day. But if you came over for dinner, it would be much cleaner.
  • I need more color in my kitchen.
This is the dining area as seen from the kitchen (it's all pretty much one room). Some people refer to it as a "breakfast nook" but it's the only dining area we have, so we eat a lot more than breakfast there. The kitchen/dining room is one of the main things I loved about the house when we saw it for the first time. I was able to overlook the smaller living room and master bedroom because I liked this space and could picture us living in it.

We've been living here five years and I still have no window treatments for this room. Originally, it was because of the expense . . . the windows are all odd sizes and they'd all have to be custom. But now I'm just not sure what to do. I don't want to do anything that would detract from the "openness" that the windows bring to the space. I'm sure our neighbors see a lot more of us than they'd like, though. We're really fortunate, because two of the three properties adjacent to ours are vacation homes and we only see people at them a couple of times a year.

The kitchen table is pub height and kind of has a "plank" look to it . . . I'm not sure if that's how you'd describe it, but it's the only way I know how. I take a lot of my pictures on this table, so you might have seen it before.

When we got it, everyone commented on how great it would be that we wouldn't have to worry about our kids scratching up our table because it already looked scratched, dented and rustic. What no one really thought about was that food, playdough and everything else gets stuck in the little cracks and it's nearly impossible to clean.

The chairs are from Target and my friend, Heather, and I put them together during the summer that she lived with us. Let's just say that they weren't put together very well. A few of them are pretty wobbly and some of them have random bolts sticking out of the bottom. I'm pretty sure we'll have to replace them in the next year or two. We're lucky they've lasted this long! Also, two of them were gnawed on by Murphy back when she was a puppy.

Kyle's parents gave us money to buy the light fixture above the table from IKEA. I love it. On the table are two star shaped bowls from Pottery Barn, filled with cinnamon scented pine cones and fake apples. During the spring/summer they usually have fake lemons and limes in them.

Jack hates to sit in his high chair, but we keep it out for when we have Spaghetti, any sort of soup, or anything else messy enough to warrant it. Ben has a high chair that straps to one of the chairs.

This is the kitchen as seen from the dining area.

The racks on the walls under the cupboards hold paper towel, many different colored spatulas, wooden spoons, coffee supplies and pot holder. Under the rack is a cutting block used only for cutting bread. Everything else gets cut on a plastic, dishwasher safe cutting mat. The crock pot isn't normally out on the counter, but on this particular day, I believe we were making Parma Rosa Chicken (which was delicious, by the way).

The shelves above the sink have flour, sugar, cookbooks, pez dispensers (a.k.a. Jack's potty rewards) and other various items. You can usually find my wedding rings there, too, because I'll often take them off and put them up there if I'm cooking something that gets my hands messy.

If I was able to change ONE thing about my kitchen, it would be to have a gas stove. That was almost a deal breaker for me when we were looking at houses, but Kyle was excited about having an easy-to-clean flat top stove so I settled. It's so much harder to cook on an electric range.

The laptop sits on the counter and feeds me recipes, allows me to stay up to date with what everyone's doing on facebook, and let's me tweet what we're doing throughout the day. I do quite a bit of business from this station in between ben's dirty diapers, jack's potty breaks, laundry, cooking, cleaning and everything else that goes on.

The half wall to the right opens up to the living room.

This is the other side of the kitchen, as seen from the living room. It's our refrigerator (no kidding) and the cupboards that serve as our pantry.

To the right of the refrigerator is the hall way to Jack and Ben's rooms and bathroom. The hall closet on the right holds bath towels, games and toys that are only to be played with an adult, plastic utensils and paper plates, seldom used appliances, vases and pitchers.

That hallway wraps up around to the front door and back into the living room, too. The floor of the kitchen is the cheapest of cheap laminate wood floors. I've put several dents in it, the largest of which happened when my kitchenaid mixer vibrated itself off the counter.

That's all for now . . .

March 4, 2010

Q & A

OK, first, let me tell you how awesome it is to see the new blogs/new posts that have popped up! They may not all be because of my PSA, but I'm going to pretend they are because it makes me feel so good about myself. If you have recently started a blog (or have revitalized your existing blog) and I haven't commented, send me the link so that I can visit. I've had some questions and feedback regarding my PSA and I'll probably get to that stuff tomorrow when I've had more time to think about it.

Second, I've been getting a lot of the same questions from people regarding a few topics:

1. What kind of camera I use
2. Etsy
3. Breastfeeding
4. How I maintain my ravishing good looks

I'm going to respond to those here, so don't be offended if I don't sent you an individual response. I've become bad at answering e-mails that aren't work or business related.

1. What kind of camera do I use? I've already answered that in a post here. I've added a lens (Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L) since then. And depending on how my tax return ends up, I might have a new camera before summer. Fingers crossed. Oh! And I've also added this awesome new camera strap cover, which is almost as cool as the lens.

2. Two things have happened since my etsy business has grown. First, I get several messages a week asking for advice on starting their own etsy stationery business. My single most important piece of advice: WORK HARD. This is not easy. Just ask my husband and kids. You get out of it what you put into it. Other than that, you kind of have to figure it out on your own. I could give you step by step instructions based on what worked for me, but the truth is that it might not work for you. And even if it did, you'd miss A TON of learning opportunities on the way. I still answer the individual questions I get on this, and I dole out information on a case by case basis so don't be afraid to contact me. But don't be offended if it takes a while to get a reply.

Second, it feels like there's a big ol' target on my back. There are a few individuals who just seem to want to make my life difficult in an attempt to . . . what? Break my spirit? Insult me? I don't know. I'm a competitive person by nature, but when it comes to business stuff, I really wish nothing but success for other sellers. I don't see increased competition as a bad thing because there are certainly enough buyers to go around. But I won't feel bad about my success either. It hasn't been at anyone's expense (other than maybe my family's at times). It's been because of A LOT of hard work and I'd like to think a little bit of talent on my part. I don't ever respond to this kind of message because, well, I don't really know how to respond. I'm aggressive (AGGRESSIVE) about running my business with integrity and because of that there's really not much I can say other than, "I'm so sorry you feel that way." This has been frustrating, but this is the first and last I'll talk about it here.

3. Breastfeeding improved quite a bit. I used up my supply of frozen milk and had to supplement with formula for three or four days. I saw my doctor and she gave me lots of advice that really seemed to work. I think the best thing she did, though, is gave me permission to stop breastfeeding. It's not that I needed her permission, but I think I needed someone to look at me and say, "It's ok if you don't do this. It's ok to stop trying." I think her relieving that pressure actually helped me work through it.

My estimation is that I was down to 6 - 10 ounces a day, which wasn't great for a kid who needs 30 - 40 ounces a day. So, I pumped and nursed and pumped and nursed and took loads of fenugreek and pumped and nursed some more. My milk supply finally rebounded. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done but I'm glad to be nursing again.

I have seen a drop in supply again over the last few days and I've already decided that if it doesn't rebound, I'm not going through all of that again. My hope is to make it to the summer. But right now, I'm just looking to make it to 6 months. I'm just thankful to live in a day an age in which there are healthy substitutes.

4. I was kidding about the ravishing good looks thing. But I'm sure you already knew that.

Any other questions?

Yummy Chicken

In case you weren't sure, this recipe was named by Jack.

I love this chicken. It's so simple and quite delicious. Figure friendly? Not so much. But did I mention that it was delicious? Also, if you're only cooking for two, it's so easy to modify for fewer than 4. My only regret is that I made it when Kyle was out of town so he didn't get to try it.

I modified it from a recipe that I found online a few weeks ago, and I can't remember where. So if you're thinking, "This loser stole my recipe!" you might be right.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers
  • 2 tsp or so of garlic salt . . . less if you want a more mild flavor, more if you really like garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter
Beat eggs. Crush ritz crakers and mix with garlic salt in separate dish. Oh, and I actually added panko to the cracker mixture, too . . . I'm not sure if it was necessary because the crackers were so crunchy, but I like to think it helped.

Dip each piece of chicken in egg, then the cracker mixture. Press the crackers into the chicken.

Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish and put a thin pat or two of butter on each piece of chicken until the full 1/4 cup is used. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Jack cleaned his plate . . . as did I.

March 3, 2010

The Postpartum Physique

At any given point throughout the day, you could probably walk up and give my pants a little tug and they'd come right down. I'd ask, however, that you please not try that.

What I'm getting at is that my post-partum fat pants are way too loose and baggy on me now. When I wear them, I look like MC Hammer, circa 1992. Good news, right?

Except I went to try on jeans in the next size down last weekend and while they fit beautifully in the legs, they're still a too snug around the waist. Boo. So, fat pants it is for a while longer.

I am frustrated with the fact that five whole months have passed and I still can't fit into the things I'd like to, but truth be told, I haven't tried very hard. I tried to start working out regularly before Christmas, but then the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year hit and I never really started it up again.

And, to be even more honest, I pretty well eat whatever I want. And what I want is usually fried, sweet or accessible through a drive thru window.

I really have lost quite a bit of weight since I had Ben (obviously) but I still have about 10 pounds to get back to my pre-Ben weight. And a lot more than that to get back to my ideal weight.

Honestly, I'd be happy with any weight that would get the wii fit to stop making fun of me.

March 2, 2010

It's here!

My brother-in-law was my photo book guinea pig.

I've spent more than a year researching the best places to have photo books printed. I've compared prices, read reviews and seen a few samples from different places. I printed a book of Kevin's senior pictures from blurb and I love it. I've seen the books from snapfish, my publisher and kodak gallery and (in my opinion) blurb puts them all to shame. I almost wanted to keep it for myself.

I used blurb's software and template for Kevin's book, but they offer a downloadable InDesign template so I'll likely design something original for printing my blog and our family picture books. Now I just need to find the time to get it done . . .