Saturday, September 29, 2012

Adventures in Cloth Diapers, Part III: 18 weeks through 1 year

Welcome back to my series on cloth diapering! When we last left off, Dois was 18 weeks old and we were happily cloth diapering in a mixture of fitteds, pockets, and prefolds.

At 18 weeks something major happened, though: I returned to work full-time. We knew Dois would need care for only 6 weeks until my mother-in-law arrived, and so finding a daycare that accepted cloth diapers was not of utmost importance to us (since it was temporary). We went with a daycare we used for Bebe, and they did not want to use cloth, so we didn't push it.

Those six weeks were challenging, though. I was trying to get used to our new routine (of getting both kids to/from their daily destinations, of evening chores like making and labeling bottles, choosing clothes, etc.), and I was trying to figure out a new laundry routine. We were only using 2 cloth diapers per day (sometimes 3) and so my loads weren't nearly as full as before. Once or twice I let the diapers sit too long, and we got MAJOR stinkies! I tried to wash every-other-day but sometimes I went three or four.

Knowing we'd be going back to cloth when my mother-in-law arrived to care for Dois, I started looking for "easy options" for her to use. I sold off some of my pockets and quite a few of my fitteds, and bought Bumgenius All-in-Ones in size medium to use. Then, one day on Diaperswappers, I found an awesome deal for 20 Kushies All-in-Ones for $35 shipped, and I decided to buy them. I couldn't resist such a good deal! Kushies aren't highly recommended, and a lot of people complain about them, but they were cheap and they worked for us.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law arrived to help care for Dois. My mother-in-law stayed for a little over a month and my sister-in-law stayed for 4 or 5. During that time we used All-in-Ones during the day and out and about, and a variety of fitteds (Mother-Ease One Size, Kissaluvs, Twinkie Tush, Doodle Dypes, etc.) when at home. Fitteds are more breathable (you can let your child go coverless if you test occasionally for wetness and change immediately), so I often let him chill without a cover before bed.

When Dois was 10 months old, though, my SIL decided she was ready to move on, which meant Dois returned to daycare. We went back to the former daycare and used disposables again, but we also decided to start looking for a daycare that would use cloth. We had gotten spoiled using cloth exclusively for so long, that we found we hated disposables. The smell of them especially!

A few weeks before Dois' first birthday, we found a daycare that was wonderful and agreed to try cloth. So we stocked up on more "user-friendly" diapers (more Bumgenius All-in-Ones in size Large, as well as Bumgenius 4.0 pockets with aplix) that were as close to disposables as possible, and got ready to start a new journey.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Randomness

As always, thanks to ConversionDiary for hosting this week's Quick Takes!
Pepsi Throwback is insanely addicting. We started buying it when it first came out because it has "natural sugar" vs. high fructose corn syrup. It has SO much sugar, and I know it is BAAAAD BAAAAD BAAAD... but it's sooooo good. I've tried asking D to just stop buying it, but then a night comes where I have a migraine and the ONLY thing that works for me is 600mg of ibuprofen + caffeine. It's a sad, sad night when I'm home with the kids and a slamming headache, only to find there's no caffeine to be found in the house!

I wear blue all the time. I have fair skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. Whenever I wear blue, people compliment me on my eyes... When I put away my clothes the other day, I determined that over 50% of my shirts are some shade of blue or blue/green. I don't know if that's vain (asking for compliments) or force of habit.

It's supposed to be fall, right? So where's the fall weather? It's supposed to be in the 90s this weekend! Oh well, I'll take 90s over 50s ANY DAY. That's one of the reasons why I moved to the West Coast, after all.

I am annoyed that Stride Rite and New Balance pretty much own the market for wide-width toddler shoes that ARE NOT WHITE. They're SO expensive, and both my kids have been fat-footed babies. And they go through sizes so quickly! I'm constantly scouring the sales and resale shops looking for affordable (under $20 is ideal) pairs. Diamonds in the rough, I tell you!

We're going to look at a house on Sunday. I am hoping that seeing one will relieve D of his itch to house-hunt. He goes through phases and is now in the, "Look! The market is moving! PANIC!!!!!!!!" phase. Thankfully, I know him well enough to know that he'll settle down once he dreams a bit and then when crunch numbers. I'm not willing to entertain the thought of buying a house until we survive November without any job losses.

I learned an interesting fact the other day and because I am having a hard time coming up with QTs, I think I'll share it here: Do you know why the Pope wears white? Initially, Popes wore red robes adorned with white since they were bishops first and then Pope... but then Pope Pius V was a Dominican and he wanted to continue to wear the white robe of his order. Ever since then, the Pope has worn white.

I am completely and totally out of ideas of things to share with you, I'll share Bebe's latest joke that she made up:
What do you call a cow with no legs?
 (Because it has no legs, it's on the ground, and it's a cow, and it's beef... Hahaha.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A mother's heart.

Dois has a cold, and it's breaking my heart.

Nobody told me before I became a mom, how deeply connected I would feel to my children. Sure, I had an idea... but I wasn't prepared for this.

I had no idea that when my child looked me in the eyes, pleading to Please make it better and I couldn't, my heart would break.

I had no idea that when a cough racked my child's chest and brought tears to his eyes, that my helplessness would tear me apart inside.

I had no idea that the fact that the ONLY thing I can do, after I've exhausted ALL efforts to comfort my children, is to pray and plead with God to intercede and help where I can't.

My heart goes out to mothers who witness their child struggling with something far worse than a cold or a virus. I keep them in my prayers especially today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A year full of date nights.

Last Christmas D and I decided to try for thought-filled and sentimental gifts instead of cluttering up our home with more things we didn't necessarily need.

D gave me something that's come in so handy ever since: My very own chef's jacket! One of our favorite pastimes is watching The Food Network together, and right before Christmas we were really into The Next Iron Chef. He decided I needed a chef's jacket of my own! And I love it.

As for me, I had pinned a whole host of ideas on Pinterest. We had determined that we wanted 2012 to be a "year of us" so-to-speak. We'd neglected our relationship a bit during 2011, between our new lives as a family of four and also having my mother-in-law and sister-in-law living with us for a large amount of time.

Anyway, after sorting through the 50-something ideas I loved, I finally decided on making this gift for D: The gift of 12 date nights, one for each month of the year. D and I have always had a "bucket list" and so I snagged a few items from that list, threw in a few other things I thought would be cool, and voila! 12 months of date nights were created.

I created an envelope for every month, decorated its outer with "hints" to what the date of the month was, and enclosed a special note revealing the date as well as any extra items (such as tickets, or a gift certificate, etc.).

I didn't know what D would think when I gave him a large envelope containing all the monthly envelopes. His initial reaction was like, "Wow, this should be cool." Totally chill. (Confession: He wasn't as enthused as I thought he would be!)

Let me tell you, this gift has just been... wonderful. To the point where we'll be doing it every year. With our crazy schedules, our "together time" is not always as quality as it should be. But these monthly getaways? They are such a blessing. We went to see the Broadway show "American Idiot." We saw "The Avengers" before it went to the cheapie theater. To celebrate the Olympics we donned shirts representing Brazil (him) and Italy (me) and played tennis, then went out for Mexican food after. In honor of baseball season, we are going to the batting cages so I can teach him how to hit a ball. And some months we've ditched what has been planned and opt for something simpler: Like the month when D was applying to grad schools so we went to the bookstore together to pore over books, talk about choices, read up on the GREs, etc. Or this month, when we decided to go to the beach and set out a blanket and just talk about new things that have come up in our lives.

My only regret is that we didn't start this tradition sooner. Better late than never, though, I guess.

Edit: I missed out on an important detail! On the first day of every month D opens the envelope containing that month's date night info. Then we look at the calendar and decide what day/date would be best. We arrange a sitter for that day or night in advance.

What do you and your spouse do for fun together? How do you make time for each other?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Adventures in Cloth Diapers, Part II: Newborn through 18 weeks

When I left off, I was 39 weeks pregnant and all of our cloth diapers were neatly organized in a drawer or two, just waiting for a squishy baby butt to fill them.

Dois was born on a Monday and, upon D's request, our plan was to use disposable diapers for the first 10-14 days of his life so that we could get used to life as a family of 4/life as a newborn before also introducing something else entirely new. Things were going so smoothly, though, one week in, that I was ready to start using cloth. I figured when D was ready, he could--at least he had that option until our disposable diapers ran out!

Here he is at just 8 days old in his first cloth diaper--a Thirsties Fab Fitted. (Yes, it required a cover, and I used a Thirsties Duo Wrap over it after taking this picture.)

As I mentioned in my last post, the bulk of our diapers were fitteds and prefolds. Initially (okay, and for a long time) prefolds scared me. I wasn't confident in my origami skills, and when you have a chicken-legged, freaking-out-because-it's-coooold newborn, it can be a bit harrowing. So I reached for our fitteds first. And man, did I love them. The Thirsties Fab Fitteds (size XS) and Kissaluvs (size 0) that we had were just as easy to use as a disposable diaper. Just put it right on (the Thirsties had velcro, the Kissaluvs have snaps) and place a cover over it and, voila!

Dois was your typical breastfed baby who pooped every. single. time he ate, so when I ran out of fitteds, eventually I did have to turn to the prefolds I had for back-up. One of my favorite folds for a breastfed baby with runny poop is the poonico fold.We had an all-in-one or two, but we saved those for when we were out running errands. I guess you could say those were the "golden diapers" because they were so easy to use.

Whenever I told people we would be cloth diapering, a lot of the comments we got was about the laundry and washing poopy diapers. You know what? Babies poop. And no matter what is on their butt, usually the poop winds up on something else, too. So my bet is that even if you're NOT cloth diapering, there's baby poop in the washer.

Breastfed baby poop is water-soluable, so there's nothing extra I had to do before washing them. After a diaper change I would put the soiled diaper plus any wipes (we use "cloth wipes," AKA cheap baby washcloths and water) into our diaper pail lined with a Kissaluvs pail liner. I washed diapers every-other-day doing a pre-rinse on cold, then running a hot wash/cold rinse cycle with detergent (I started out using Tide Free & Clear, but that proved to be a problem later on), then an additional rinse cycle. I threw everything but the covers on low for a full cycle in the dryer and then if anything was still damp after, I'd run it a second time on low with just those items in. I hung all of our covers to dry in the bathroom over the towel bars.

Sure, I had days where I felt like, "Ugh! I have to do diaper laundry still." And there were still learning experiences that came with how to pack the diaper bag for an outing, how to change a cloth diaper in a restroom when using cloth wipes, etc.

One of my greatest achievements during these first 18 weeks of Dois' life, though, was when we flew cross-country and brought cloth with us for our week-long vacation. By that time we were using a mixture of Fuzzibunz pockets, small Thirsties Fab Fitteds, and small Bumgenius AIOs, and I was so proud of myself that we didn't use a single disposable diaper on our trip! I'll have to post more about traveling with cloth in a separate post, though. This one is getting long!

Dois in the same diaper as above, right before I "retired" it at 8 weeks old.

If you're new and reading this, check out Part I here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Being Poor

I don't like to "go deep" for quick takes, but this week I need to toss the fluff and address something. Yesterday a study was published that stated 46.2 million Americans fell below the poverty line in 2011.
An article on CNN brought me to John Scalzi's essay "Being Poor"--go read it and then come back here. These 7 Quick Takes are my own 7 additions to his essay, based on my childhood experiences.

Being poor is doing your homework at Barnes and Noble or the library because there's no electricity at home.

Being poor means riding the bus to school with your mom (where you go and she teaches) because you have no car.

Being poor means living out of a cooler.

Being poor means learning how to use your warm breath under the covers to keep you warm when there's no heat in the middle of a New York winter.

Being poor means sleeping over at a friend's house, just to use their working shower.

Being poor means not taking ANYTHING for granted.

Being poor means sometimes, it's hard to believe that there is a God.

I'm able to write this now, being on "the other side" of the poverty line. Not incredibly well-off, but living a life I would've dreamed about as a child. It is hard to forget what I endured, and yet it is easy to forget that money doesn't grow on trees. I want to lavish my children in hopes of them never experiencing what I did--and yet that can be a poison to them as well, I am learning. I've tried so hard to protect them from the poverty that I knew, that I'm raising them to take everything for granted. I want to give them the world, because I didn't have it. I know that it is a blessing that I am where I am, and that doesn't mean others still living in poverty are any less worthy of such blessings. But I know how hard it is to make it out.


Last night, Dois showed us that he learned a new word:


He has absolutely no idea how to use it yet, though, so he is applying it to all situations. Last night his train came apart and he wanted me to fix it while I was cooking dinner. I told him to bring it to Bebe to fix. Well, he started yelling, "Mine! Mine! Miiiiiiiiinnnnneeeee! Mine!" in this really mean, adamant voice. Whoo-boy! I helped him fix it and went back to cooking dinner.

Later when it was time to get ready for bed, he didn't want to get diapered/dressed (he never does), so he tried yelling "Mine!" again. Of course, that didn't work... so then the "Mine!" turned into banshee-screaming, kicking, and noodle-like body contortions. *sigh* I think D and I cursed ourselves the other day when we talked about how great Dois is doing. He has calmed down a lot ... I guess that was the calm before this storm.

This morning getting him dressed for daycare, he showed Daddy his new word. Except this time it was followed by a tantrum like we haven't seen in FOREVER: kicking, screaming, scooting himself across the floor, shrieking, etc.

Please tell me this will pass soon....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Dois has been using sign language for many months now, but it seems that we're going through a new "language explosion" involving signs. Before we used to just get the signs, but now he's applying the words to the signs as well.

This morning in the car the sun was in his eyes. He kept pointing out the window and signing "sun" and then saying, "sun"! Our morning drives are filled with signs as he observes things from his car seat. Dog in the car next to us? He signs "dog" and says, "Dog!" pointing to it. Loud car next to us? He signs "car" and makes a grumbling sound.

Bebe was about this age when we started using sign language with her. With Dois we've been teaching him since about 6 or 7 months old... and it's really paid off! I'd say he has about 100 signs in his vocabulary. We just love the Baby Signing Time series!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mommy time Monday

On Mondays while Bebe is at children's choir, I now have forty-five minutes to an hour of one-on-one time with Dois. D and I have always made a point of trying to spend one-on-one time with him, but since he's younger, goes to bed earlier, etc. it just hasn't happened as much as we'd like for it to. Bebe gets in her one-on-one time when he's napping on the weekend, or after he's in bed during the week. Enrolling Bebe in choir, though, has enabled me to "schedule in" a pocket of time to spend with him though.

This past Monday was wonderful. After I signed Bebe into choir, Dois was still eating the snack I'd brought him. I decided to see if the chapel was opened for Adoration, and it was! I sat him down on a chair and knelt down to pray... and he was SO SO QUIET. I prayed for maybe 10 minutes, then I sat down and pulled him onto my lap. He pointed to the stained-glass windows (with his sticky fingers) and smiled and we practiced saying "Jesus." Then I said an "Our Father" with him and started singing, "Jesus Loves Me." He pressed his cheek really close to mine as I was singing, and when I finished he stayed there. My super-active little boy decided to bless his mama's heart by hanging on for just a few more moments.

We walked out into the courtyard (our church has beautiful grounds) and spent the next 15-20 minutes sliding in the crushed granite, jumping and running in the grass, etc. Then, after a quick trip to the bathroom to wash his hands (now dirt had adhered to the sticky residue), we went inside the church to listen to the tail end of choir practice. He sat so calmly on a chair next to me, flipping through the pages of a songbook.

I was amazed. And after that 45-minute (or so) period, I came away so energized. I can't wait for more time with my boy.

(Editing to add: I just realized that for the next 4 weeks we will get even MORE one-on-one time! Bebe is taking a swim class for 4 weeks during her usual Saturday gymnastics class, so for those 4 weeks gymnastics is moved to Thursday nights. Bonus!)

Death of a Laptop

In 2008 my work was crunched for cash, so they decided to sell off some old technology equipment auction-style. I wound up "winning" an auction for a Titanium Powerbook G4 for $215! It was my pride and joy--I mainly used it for the classes I took (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc.) and for writing. It was the best investment EVER and ran beautifully. Until last Tuesday.

Last Tuesday I lugged it to the library to sit down and compose a few blog posts. After typing furiously for a good hour or so, I decided I was done and started packing up. I unplugged the power cord from the wall and went to put it away, but the block was HOT and I wound up dropping it... down, down, down onto my beloved Powerbook! It made a dent near the mousepad, but otherwise didn't seem to have any other damage. I continued to put it away.

On Wednesday, D asked me if he could borrow the Powerbook for the class his is taking (his first Master's class--yay!), and I said no problem. Well, when he got home on Thursday he said he had a problem--he booted up the computer in class and it got stuck on the gray Apple "loading screen." Rut-roh. He left it on for 3 hours and it never booted up. Double rut-roh.

Friday I spent time looking up troubleshooting tips, ideas of what to do, etc. and on Friday night after the kids were in bed I set out to try and figure out the problem. I didn't think a ding to the chassis would do much damage... boy, was I wrong. After several attempts to fix the problem, I gave up for the night. Upon waking on Saturday morning, ready again to 'attack', I was able to boot up the computer and run a diagnostic... and learn that my hard drive was on the brink of failure.

We went to the Apple Store yesterday and as soon as I whipped it out (THE COMPUTER) at the Genius Bar, they said it was obsolete and there's nothing they could do about it. Obsolete? Up until last Tuesday it was in beautiful working order! Obsolete? Oh no, the PC-based laptop I bought the same year this Powerbook was made (2004) is obsolete. This is anything but! (The guy also told me if I took it to a shop and they charged more than $100 to repair it, it wasn't worth it. Right, because it's SO much cheaper to buy a new laptop for $1500 when you come out with a new model every year!)

So for now... my Powerbook is dead. Sad. I've lost everything on the hard drive... but thankfully most is backed up and what isn't is unimportant. Next week we'll be taking it to a Mac authorized repair shop. We had our iMac restored by them after a crash a few years ago, and we trust them. I just really hope they can fix it. It needs a new hard drive, and possibly a new chassis.

In the meantime, my posts might not be as plentiful. Not having my laptop to type whenever I get a free chance might seriously cramp my style.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Welcome to another installment of Marriage in Mind Mondays!

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference."

When I was growing up, I used to hear my mom mumbling this prayer under her breath from time to time. I liked the sound of it, but I don't think I really understood it. As I got older, these mumblings seemed to coincide with times when my father was driving her up the wall.

As a woman who's been married for almost nine years, now I get it more than ever!

I love D with all of my heart and soul, but in many ways, we are two VERY VERY different people. I didn't want to marry someone exactly like me, but I had no idea how incredibly different from me the man God chose for me would be! 

When we were first married and one of those moments would occur where I'd realize, "We are SO different in that respect," my mom's whispered prayer would come to mind immediately. Back then, I focused on the beginning of the prayer. I prayed for acceptance--for the Lord to help me to accept my husband for who he was, because I wanted to love "the complete package" and not just parts of him.

In the last year or two, though, I find myself focusing on the second part of the prayer--the ability to change what I am in control of. I've noticed that in controlling what I can (say, my reactions to certain behaviors or habits of his), that his attitude has slowly changed. 

Now comes the "wisdom to know the difference" part. One of the things that I love the most about D is that he challenges me to be a better person. And I know that there have been times in our life where my "nudging" D has encouraged him to do something that has bettered our lives. But what I really, really struggle with, is WHEN to just accept things as they are, and WHEN to have the courage to try to change things. I want to challenge, to encourage, to coerce (is that always a bad thing?), but I don't want to be a nag. I don't want to be a constant cheerleader, either. D's a big boy, I don't want him feeling like I don't trust him and his choices because I am constantly attempting to change them. And simultaneously I don't want to become complacent to our lives as they are and constantly say, "Oh well, it is what it is, and this is how it's going to be forever."

Finding a balance on the path to serenity... maybe I'll have it figured out in another nine years... or more.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Whatever works... but I need some advice!

A "whatever works" mom does whatever is best for her family, and follows her instincts most of the time... BUT sometimes her instinct is a bit confused and needs some help from other sources. This is one of those times...

I knew I wouldn't have parenting figured out by the time we had #2. I was well aware that #2 would probably do things different from the first kid, but I had NO IDEA it would be SO different. So, here's the thing I would love advice, tips, etc. on:

1) Ditching the pacifier. Dois is 21 months old, and he loves his pacis. We got to a point after he turned 1 where pacis were only used for nap and bedtime (okay, and sometimes at Mass). But then he was getting his molars, and easily frustrated, and whatnot, and we started using the paci again more than I'd like. In the past 3 weeks, he's having a "verbal explosion." I put that in quotes because 99% of what he says isn't coherent, but it means something to him and he's trying to say something. And what I hate more than anything in the world is that he's trying to talk with the paci in his mouth. I've played Paci Police lately, and we've been saying "night night" pacis and leaving his pacis in the crib when he gets up... but sometimes it results in a total meltdown. And sometimes, when he's tired or just needs some time away, he'll beg to hop in the crib just to suck away for a while. And he's a good sleeper. A gooooood sleeper. With a paci in his mouth and one in each hand. I don't want to mess with his sleep habits yet. SO, I guess I'd love ideas of how to get rid of the paci for sleep (although we won't be doing so until he's AT LEAST 2) and also how to help him find some other method of soothing himself (especially during the daytime) when the pacis are "all gone."

2) Ditching the bottles. Yes, he's also still on bottles. Until he was 18 months, as much as I loathed the bottle, I told myself that at that age I'd still be nursing him (if we hadn't had nursing issues that led to weaning at 6 months), and what was the difference between a bottle and a boob? At daycare he uses only sippy cups but at home he begs for bottles--full on tantrums for a bottle when we try to hand him a sippy cup. I'm thinking we need to just make all bottles disappear, but I'd love any other gentler suggestions for getting him off the bottle. Do you think just one before bed (we always do one, then brush teeth, then bed) would be OK?

3) Potty training. No worries, Bebe is potty trained! But as I mentioned in yesterday's post, it was a LONG time coming. And after what was almost 2 years of attempts (on and off--not continuously--we started when she turned 2, and she potty trained at 3 years 9 months), I have absolutely NO confidence in my abilities to potty train a child. So tell me: Did you wait until your child seemed ready (how did you know)? Or did you do it when you were ready? Or a little bit of both? And what method did you use? Cold-turkey? Pull-ups? Naked-from-the-waist-down? I know Dois is still young but I need to store up this info for when I think it's time.

Thanks everyone in advance!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Adventures in cloth diapers, Part I (pregnancy & preparations)

A few weeks ago in my post about the "things" I am obsessed with know a lot about, Astoria Girl asked me to share more about cloth diapers. And let me tell you, all it takes is a simple request for me to unload a plethora of information. It's a horrible disservice to anyone who says, "Oh, you cloth diaper? I've been thinking about doing that." Because I can't stop once I start talking about them. But I'm going to try. Dois is 21 months old now, and we've had quite a few different cloth diaper experiences, so I'm going to break it down into smaller bits and pieces.

When I was pregnant with Bebe, we were living off of limited funds and I really liked the idea of cloth diapering in order to save money. Unfortunately, certain aspects of our living situation were against us:
    1) We lived in a low-income apartment that didn't have a washer/dryer.
    2) We weren't allowed any additional or add-on appliances because all utilities were paid by the management company.
    3) Our apartment complex had shared, coin-operated laundry that was down the stairs and across the parking lot from our apartment.

In the end, I decided to skip cloth diapering. A decision I grew to regret, as Bebe was a very, very late potty trainer (3 years, 9 months). All I could think about was all of her diapers over those years piling up in a landfill.

When I got pregnant with Dois, I knew immediately that I wanted to cloth diaper. For environmental reasons, for the financial reasons, and partially for the cuteness factor. We now lived somewhere that we had our own washer and dryer, so washing the diapers (the biggest issue when pregnant with Bebe) was no longer an issue. D wasn't really encouraging or discouraging. As I shared bits and pieces of information with him, he was kind of like, "Okay, if you say so." The things that appealed to him the most, though, were the cost savings over disposables and the possibility that Dois would potty train sooner than Bebe did.

Initially, I was completely overwhelmed--there were so many different diapers out there (not just styles, like prefolds, fitteds, all-in-ones and pockets, but also brands with different shapes, cuts, rises, etc.)! I read up as much as I could in places like diaperpin and diaperswappers, trying to get an idea of what we would need or want. Many places encouraged doing a "diaper trial" from a place like Nicki's Diapers or Jillian's Drawers. I looked into such a program, but one thing that frustrated me was that most of the trials didn't give you enough diapers for an entire day. If I was going to use cloth, I wanted to use it ALL THE TIME! I ultimately decided that I wanted to take a different approach: I wanted to make my own "build your own diaper trial" by purchasing diapers used (on sites like diaperswappers and hyenacart) and new (from sites like Cottonbabies, BabySteals, and Zulily). I figured that in doing so, I could cater my purchases toward what I wanted to try, and I could also possibly make more back when reselling them (since newborn diapers get used so little).

In the end, I wound up with a "trial package" that cost me $300 and lasted me past the newborn stage (since some of the diapers were smalls and the prefolds fit for a while) until Bebe was around 6 months. It included the following items:
18 infant prefolds from Cottonbabies
6 small Fuzzibunz pocket diapers
7 Kissaluvs size 0 fitteds
5 x-small Thirsties Fab Fitteds (these have been discontinued, but were my favorite fitteds!)
6 small Thirsties Fab Fitteds
1 Made With Love Newborn fitted
1 Bumgenius XS AIO (now called Bumgenius Newborns)
2 Kushies Newborn AIOs
1 MonkeyDoodlez Newborn AIO
5 Thirsties Duo Wraps (size 1)
1 Fluffy's newborn diaper cover from etsy
3 newborn Prowrap covers
3 Small Prowrap covers
2 Kissaluvs Pail Liners
2 Thirsties Diaper Duffels
Newborn-sized wool longies

The "start up cost" did turn D off a bit as it added up. I'll talk more about our experiences cloth diapering in the next post, BUT I will say that once Dois outgrew all of this, I was able to turn around and sell what we were no longer using (so everything but the pail liners and diaper duffels, and 3 of the prefolds) for $200. So, for the first 6 months of Dois' life, it only cost us $100 to diaper him. Sure beats the cost of disposables!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Quirky edition!

Thanks to Camp Patton for standing in this week for ConversionDiary's Quick Takes!
Just for fun I'd give you 7 of my quirks for quick takes...

My work has a kitchen with paper plates, paper cups, utensils, etc. I never take from the top of the pile. I always take the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. down. Why? Because the top item has been touched by other hands. And I'm weird and don't want other people's hands on my stuff. I wash the plastic utensils before using them, too, because someone touched them to put them in the tray.

I also don't use the first square of TP in a roll in a public bathroom, for the exact same reason.

I have an obsession with Ticonderoga #2 pencils. I love the smell of them when they're freshly sharpened. I love how smooooth they feel when I write with them. I don't use any other pencils at all.

I don't like to be hugged or touched unless it's by someone I consider a relative or close friend. This has made me the joke of some of my coworkers in times of elation. 

Did your mom ever tell you that you should have on clean underwear every day in case you get in an accident and the EMT discovers you're wearing dirty underwear? No? Well, mine did. And in my adult life, I've taken it a step further. My underwear and bra have to match ALL THE TIME. If I find a bra I love and matching panties don't exist, I don't buy it. If one of the set gets ripped/damaged, they both get tossed.

I wear jeans and hoodies a lot. Even to work. I feel completely out of place in a dress or anything dressy. Sometimes I buy dressy clothes in hopes of feeling better in them, but I never do. Comfort wins over style every time in my book.

I realized just how OCD-like so many of my quirks are. Whoops! Time to share some of YOUR quirks, so I don't feel so bad!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I made a mommy boo-boo...

We've been having some problems with Bebe and another child at her Y program. These problems have come and gone (so they're not a daily or even weekly occurrence), but they happen nonetheless. The child, R, is overly critical of her. Counselors say it's just how he is--"he's very blunt." But his bluntness is also very rude. One day she came into camp and he looked at her and said, "You need to brush your hair." When I overheard and informed him that I did, he looked at me and said, "Well, you need to do a better job." At the time, Bebe tried to joke it off. I'm proud of her for that, even though I knew the incident upset her. R is also a fountain of information--some of which I just don't believe Bebe needs to know. Nothing nitty-gritty like sex or anything (at least not yet), but he's told her about wars, juvenile detention centers, etc.

Then during the last week of camp, R became a ringleader and convinced Bebe and her friend that they should sneak out of camp and go to his house for the day to play video games and Beyblades. Thankfully, this never happened, because Bebe is like a piece of cellophane--very easy to see through. She got in the car the day that he had come up with the plot and kept pressing questions about how I'd feel if she escaped from camp, how would I feel if she fell asleep on the soccer fields by camp and was left behind, etc. I kept pushing back, asking her why all the questions, was she planning on doing something? Then she confessed to their plot. She said she had said once or twice they shouldn't, but R kept insisting they wouldn't get caught, etc. and she was SO bored and SO done with camp that the plan sounded like a dream come true. Obviously, we alerted the Y to keep an eye on the three of them, and they never ran away from camp.

At that point, though, we told Bebe that we no longer wanted her associating with R. She wasn't to play with him or engage him at all. There were plenty of other kids at the Y for her to play with. This seems to have been my boo-boo. Now that school has started, there are only about 8 kids who are at the Y before school, Bebe and R being among them. This morning when I dropped Bebe off, she sat down in a group of kids with her back entirely to R. It was like R was outside the circle of everyone else. Then he said something, and she rudely replied, "I'm not talking to you!" She hadn't said anything before that, so it's not like he was saying something back to what SHE had said...

So, I have to figure out how to teach Bebe to find a balance... how she can include R in a group and not be rude to him, but at the same time, she doesn't HAVE to be around him. I feel like we haven't been very good at teaching Bebe how to make friends. As I mentioned in another post, she'll be friends with anyone and everyone... but this leaves her vulnerable to kids who take advantage of her kindness, or those who know they can make fun of her or insult her and she'll still stick around.

How would you handle a situation such as this? (Also, I need to add that R is also in her class this year.) Any and all thoughts/help/suggestions are welcome!

Answered prayers.

Last night I was feeling down-in-the-dumps. I feel like our lives are at a standstill right now, and I like it more when things are moving. I'm not good with life being the same for too long... I don't know why. I'm not good at transitions and yet at the same time when things are stagnant, I get restless. I prayed and journaled about it. I couldn't believe the feelings unearthed inside of me--some were rather resentful and poisonous. I brought the feelings of my heart to God and just asked Him to help me work through it.

This morning, on my way to work, I prayed a Rosary and just prayed for D's mind and heart to be opened a little more to some of the things we've been discussing lately. While I say I'm not good at the whole "let go and let God" thing, D is even worse at it. He has a strong desire to feel in control. I asked God to please help him open up his heart more to His will, and to also open mind and help me to see if what I THINK am feeling is God's will actually IS God's will (I doubt myself way too much).

Well, I got to work this morning and there was an e-mail in my inbox from D. He just told me I was awesome (his words) and that he loved me so much and that I have been "more than great lately" and he thanked me. I felt like when the Grinch's heart grows and grows and grows. (Words of Affirmation are my primary Love Language, obviously!)

While it didn't directly relate to what I was praying for, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. It put me at ease and was God's way of saying, "Hang in there, Anne, I'm taking care of things."

How have you experienced answered prayer in your life recently?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I realized something today while preparing some future blog posts--in some ways, by posting my own photo and first name, as well as my children's names and photos, I have "identified" myself. Now, I'm not sure there's enough info on this blog about me to actually FIGURE OUT who I am, but nonetheless I am more exposed today than I was, say, a month ago.

I don't like the idea of blogging behind a screen and constantly wearing "masks"--it feels unrelatable, and I'm sure it can feel like that to the reader as well.

But as I sat down tonight to start writing the nitty gritty of my experiences with the Catholic Church, I realized that some day someone I know COULD find this blog. How? I don't know... but it's possible. And if that happens, how would they feel about what they read, especially if there is an allusion (without directly naming) to them?

I'm trying to write my heart and yet I'm censoring it... and I don't know how I feel about that. I know that exposure makes me feel vulnerable, but exposure also makes me feel welcomed (if that makes sense).

Just my thoughts on blogging tonight. Stay tuned, though, I've got some good things on the horizon...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Getting comfortable with one another.

Last night something blatantly obvious knocked me over the head. I'm not sure that there's a word or two for it, though, so I'll describe the scenario:

It was a long, fun day at an amusement park to celebrate Bebe's 8th birthday. We'd come home, put the sleeping children in their rooms, and were going about the evening's tasks (prepping lunches for the next day, making quick small dinners for ourselves, etc.). D and I were both in the kitchen. I was packing lunches and he was making soup in the crock pot for tonight's dinner. I placed a container for Bebe's lunch on the counter, went to the fridge and opened it to grab a few items. Left the fridge door opened, to return to it for more after putting things on the counter, and as I was walking to the counter and D was walking from the kitchen to the dining room, he nudged the fridge door shut with his foot. No big deal, I re-opened it, and got out what I needed, and closed it again. Went looking for a knife to cut the bread with, and saw D had left a tomato-juice-and-seed-covered knife on our white tile counter. I deposited it into the sink and wiped off the spot. Not two minutes later, the toaster oven dinged, and D came in to get his toast. "Where's my knife?" he asked. "What knife?" "The one that was laying here. I was going to use it to butter my toast." Whoops.

I remember reading a book when I was a teenager that spoke of a couple who was so in love that they "finished each other's sentences." I thought it was SUCH a sweet concept. But now when D finishes my sentences, it pisses me off. Why? Because 80% of the time, what he completes my sentence with is NOT what I was going to say! I confess, though, that I do it to him, too.

We also seem to "complete" each other's actions, as mentioned above. Sometimes, though, our motivation is not loving but critical. Last night when diapering Dois in the car before heading home from the park, D put his diaper on too loose. Without giving him a second to adjust it, I reached over and started to fix it. I ASSumed he wasn't going to. I made the inference that D never gets his diapers "just tight enough" and if I want it right, I need to do it. After coming home from work/school/daycare, I leave the laundry bag of dirty diapers from daycare at the bottom of the steps. The plan is to bring them up on my first trip up, which is usually when putting Dois to bed. Well, D comes home before Dois is in bed, snatches up the bag with a huff and runs it upstairs. He ASSumed that I wouldn't bring it upstairs on my own.

Our chores every weekend are divided easily between D and I. With yesterday's trip to the amusement park, all of our weekend chores needed to be done on Sat. AND we had to go to Mass. AND D had promised Bebe a trip to the pool to try out her new snorkel. The day went by SO FAST and when it was done, two tasks usually designated for D were not done. These are tasks that I HATE to do (and he knows that, which is why they're his!) and task that, honestly, could've gone un-done for another week with no problems. But on Saturday night I was on a roll, and decided to do all the things I needed to do, as well as his tasks as well. The result? Me feeling accomplished, and D feeling elated (his love language is Acts of Service) when he came home to see EVERYTHING was done.

It's easy when you're so USED to a person's actions and mannerisms to feel like they're so predictable. But assuming they're predictable can hurt if you don't give them a chance to ever show if/how they've changed.

I'm so glad that D and I have reached an acceptable level of comfortability (yes I made that word up) for us... as long as he stops trying so hard to complete my sentences!! 

(I loved this post so much, I decided that I'd like to blog more about marriage. So keep your eye out for a new series I'm calling Marriage In Mind Mondays!)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The "other child"

Haha. I feel bad because the last 3 posts have starred Bebe, and I have yet to introduce you to my other child, Dois.

Without further ado, introducing the child otherwise known as "Dois", my little man, Luca.

Let me tell you about this boy. He is that "zen baby" that typically follows a "spirited" child. A few months after he was born, D actually commented, "If I had known he'd be this easy, we would've had him years ago!" Apparently, he was anticipating another high-needs child. He's very laid-back in general, and it is pretty easy to meet his needs (once you figure out what they are--THAT can be challenging).

He is ALL BOY. When he was born and I was told we had a son, I figured, "Hey I can do this." Bebe's always been a bit of a tomboy so I figured he'd be a lot like her as he got older. Whoooo boy, was I wrong! First, he's been the king of gas for as long as I can remember. That's a boy thing. Farting like a grown man at only a few weeks old... he put his father to shame. Secondly, he's very physical. When he was only 10 months old, any little frustration (toy wasn't doing what he wanted, was bored, etc.) and he would smack himself in the head. I was terrified that I was raising a psychopath, ESPECIALLY when he'd look me dead in the eyes and then do it as if to say, "Come on, try and stop me." Thankfully, this phase has passed as he's getting more verbal--but still, he's very physical in other ways. He loves to run, jump, army crawl, spin around in circles, etc. He's constantly in motion. At this age/stage, Bebe was more clingy than anything. He's a snuggly boy when he wants to be, but in general, he wants to be DOWN and GOING!

He is going to give me gray hair. Over Labor Day weekend, we went to a BBQ and pool party at a friend's house. There was a moment where D thought I had him and I thought D had him. I leaned over the pool to talk to Bebe and the next thing I hear is SPLASH! and see him in the water--wearing his clothes, diaper, and sandals... AND PADDLING HIMSELF! He kept himself above water for the 5 seconds or so for someone in the pool to grab him. It was the strangest thing to see--I was panicked but at the same time totally calm because HE WAS SWIMMING (at 21 months, wearing clothes, a cloth diaper, and shoes)... guess our weekly trips to the swimming pool ARE doing something!

I think we have a future artist on our hands. He spends at least an hour a day, every day, like this:

We are so blessed that (some weeks) at Mass, all it takes is a few crayons and a blank book to keep him occupied. He draws squiggles and attempts circles. It is the most adorable thing, and we have a growing collection of his artwork already!

We're so glad he's a part of our family. We didn't know what we were missing until he arrived!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Training up our children.

"Train the young in the way they should go; 
even when old, they will not swerve from it." 
(Proverbs 22:6, NAB)

Were you bullied as a child? I was. I don't want to touch personally on my experiences right now (that will come at a later date, I promise), but I want to talk about my experience as a mom on the flip side (the "mom side") of the coin.

Bebe is a beautiful child. Not just aesthetically beautiful, but her soul is beautiful. She has such a bright spirit, and the thing that we love most about her is how non-judgmental she is. She discriminates against no one. She wants to play with everyone and be friends with everyone. She has never spoken a negative word against another child. It's just not in her to do so.

Unfortunately, we're all quite aware that not all children are this way. I wish they were, because it would make life so much easier. But that's not how it is. Instead, she endures the criticism of others, the ostracism due to being friends with so-and-so, and the rejection from those children who DO choose to be selective about their friends and who they play with.

Her spirit is weakening... not in a way that she's changing who she is, but the smile on her face is fading faster and faster. Her peers are wearing her down. This morning she bounded into the before-school program to share the Moshi Monster figures she got as a birthday present, including one of the ultra-rare ones. She was SO EXCITED to show her friends, but when she whipped out the bag, she misspoke the name of the ultra-rare character, and instantly another child corrected her rudely. I could see her crumple inside. You know, just in that moment I could see her excitement turn off. It made me want to cry. It made me want to go over and scream at reprimand the child. It is so hard for me to control my "bleeding heart" when I experience my child being treated like I was as a child. Instead, I called her over, and told her she did not have to be treated that way. I asked her to please speak up for herself, even with a simple, "Sorry, I made a mistake--don't you ever make mistakes??"

On my way to work, I finished up the Rosary we started praying on our way to morning care. I prayed it with all of my heart, asking God to please watch over her and help her continue to be who she is. To guide D and I in raising her to know that who she is is a very valuable person. And to enable the other children to see how their words and actions hurt others.

I'm not a perfect mom by any means, but if there's one thing I want to get right, it's that Bebe grows up knowing that she is special (but not more special than anyone else!), she is loved, and that she is good.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

8 years ago, my life was forever changed...

Eight years ago, I was blessed with a new title in life: Mother. Mama. Mommy. Mom.

Some would say that I was blessed with that new title eight years and nine months ago, but for me, the title became real at 3:47pm eight years ago, when Julia Rose entered the world. 

My pregnancy had been a bit of a surprise, so most of it was filled with learning my new role in life (as wife) while simultaneously preparing for another new role (mother) that would essentially turn upside-down everything I'd learned to that point about being a wife. Now I can look back and say my pregnancy went by so quickly, that it was a blur, but I'm not sure that I would've said that back then.

At eight pounds and two ounces, and 20.5 inches long, she entered the world screaming and crying with a lower lip that quivered with such fury. Perhaps she was thinking what I was: Put me back in! I'm not ready for this yet! 

The early days of motherhood brought with them a startling reality: The child we lovingly called "Bebe" before she was born was REAL. I mourned feeling her move and kick inside of me and simultaneously celebrated her squishy face and the way she curled her toes when she pooped. Together we learned to be a team--when she was hungry, I fed her. When she was dirty--I changed her diaper. The Beatitudes of Motherhood, I guess you could call them!

What a long, strange trip it's been, as I've evolved as a mom and she's grown as a child... Eight years seems so old and yet at the same time, it all went by so fast. The other night as I stared at her in her sleep, all I could think was, "I never knew you'd look like this." It's hard to explain beyond that... I just remember holding her as a tiny infant and wondering what she would look like, what she would love and what she would hate, what her voice would sound like, etc. when she was this age. And now the reality of who she is is right in front of me. It's breathtaking. As many challenges as we have endured together, it's still been such a wonderful thing to get where we are today.

I may feel frazzled, overwhelmed, short on patience, and spread-too-thin most days, but when all is said and done, I am so lucky to be a mom.

Happy birthday, baby girl. Aaaannndddd many moooorrreee!

 Her last day of being 7 & first day of 3rd grade.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Too big for a booster?

Today is Bebe's last day of being 7 years old. California law states that "Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat." According to the law, tomorrow Bebe can legally ride without a booster seat.

We went to the pediatrician the other day, and she is 51" tall and 58 pounds. She is exactly 50% for height and weight. You could say she's the size of an average 8-year-old girl.

How do you know if your child still needs to be in a booster or not? They can safely ride in a seat belt without a booster if they pass the 5-step test:
  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
I decided just for fun to take her out to my car (a 2nd generation Honda CR-V) to see how close she is to passing the 5-step test. Here's a picture to illustrate:

Looking at the picture, let's evaluate according to the 5-step test:
  1. Yes, she is sitting against the back of the vehicle seat.
  2. While it appears that her knees are comfortably bent, they are bending about an inch or more from the edge of the seat.
  3. The seat belt cuts into her neck, not between her neck and arm.
  4. The lap belt rides way up on her abdomen, barely coming across her thighs.
  5. Who knows the answer to this question--we won't be trying!
As you can see, she has a long way to go before she'll be ready to fit into a seat belt without a booster. It perfectly illustrates that what is considered legal is not always best practice. I know as she gets older, that she will struggle with peers who comment on her use of a booster, but Bebe has been well-informed of the benefits of car seat safety, and I am hoping that information will equip her with the strength to stand up to them.

I have several friends whose children are already out of booster seats (and are around Bebe's age, or some younger). While each parent has different reasons for having their child ride booster-free, I have yet to hear one that makes sense.

"It hurts his leg/back/neck/random body part." Those body parts are going to hurt a lot more in a crash if he's improperly restrained.

"She's so small that if I kept her in a booster until 4'9" or 80 pounds, she'd be in high school!" Obviously, there comes a point where you can decide accordingly, but if your child is tiny, how does being restrained improperly help in the present?

"His/her butt was too big for it." There are plenty of seats on the market to choose from. 

We all want to keep our children safe, and I feel as if car seat safety is becoming a bigger topic now than it was when Bebe was born, but there still needs to be even more information out there, especially for parents of older children like her.

Back to school!

Today was Bebe's first day of 3rd grade. I can't believe it! Tomorrow, my baby girl will be EIGHT!

Third grade is a BIG DEAL apparently. In K, 1st, and 2nd, I and other parents gathered with their children inside of the classroom and waited until 8:10 for the teacher to do a quick intro and send us off. In THIRD grade, though, there's none of that--just drop your child off, help them find their desk, snap a pic and give a quick kiss goodbye!

Thankfully, I got out of there without shedding a tear...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Work-Life balance Rule #1: Have a Plan

Tomorrow is Bebe's first day of 3rd grade. With a new school year comes a new schedule, and new commitments to fill into our already-busy lives. When I look at the "to-do" list, I admit, I freak out, and say, "How are we going to get it all done??" but I know that the best thing to do is to have a plan, and so that's exactly what I'm doing.

One of my biggest fears with having a larger age gap between my children was that the younger one would be dragged to and fro to keep up with the older one's obligations. Last year, that didn't seem to be much of an issue. This year, it's a totally different story.

On Mondays, Bebe will have Children's Choir rehearsal from 5:00-6:00pm.
Every-other Wednesday, Bebe will attend Religious Education classes from 6:30-8:00pm.
On Thursdays, Bebe will be going to gymnastics class from 6:15-7:15pm.
On Saturdays, Bebe will be taking 1/2 hour swim classes.

Notice how I didn't mention Tuesdays? That's "Daddy night", which means that on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (when she has various activities) it will be ME who is doing the shuttling to-and-fro. I'm trying to come up with ideas for how to "fill in the spaces" with Dois while Bebe is wherever. There will be pockets of 30-minute to 60-minute "extra time" where he and I will be hanging around in a parking lot, or somewhere nearby. I don't want him to feel like he's just being dragged around. Thankfully, he's at a great age where we can go "exploring" or just walking/running/jumping/skipping nearby and he'll be content. (Oh, and did I mention that Dois' bedtime is 7:30... take note of Wednesday's and Thursday's times...)

The plan for this year, though, all comes down to this: Keep calm, be prepared, and PRAY.