Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A completely unintentional extended hiatus...

Has it seriously been THREE months since I last blogged?! I feel like such a loser! But in my meager defense, I have been very swamped with my new photography venture. Still, it's no excuse. I humbly ask your forgiveness for my lack of posts.
But now with the holidays behind and a new year rapidly approaching, I feel a renewed sense of devotion to the blog. I just hope I can stick with it! I hope you will join me on my journey in the coming year, I have many great (IMO) plans for this blog, and for me. Thanks to Pinterest (my new favorite place to visit), I have become a lot more crafty as of late and I am hoping to share my projects with you all.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Confession

My Confession: I'm a lazy mom. I'll admit it. But it's not what you think. I came across a blog recently that is quickly becoming one of my favorite to peruse when I have a few minutes online. Since coming across the blog, I have started to not ridicule myself so much for my "laziness". I now know that the things I'm doing are serving to make my children healthier, happier, more self-sufficient individuals.
But I am also am a bit lazy in the traditional sense. I don't cook gourmet meals every day, but my kids don't starve. Sometimes I get behind on the laundry (or dishes or whatever), not because I'm busy, but because I got caught up in something on Hulu (or Netflix, or Facebook...) and lost track of time. Sometimes my kids watch little too much TV, so I can get a shower in peace.
I think we, as moms (and dads), feel so guilty for all the little things we feel we fail at, that a lot of times we forget all the things we do right.We get so caught up in what we are "supposed" to do, I think it makes us overlook all the little things that make our jobs as moms and dads so rewarding.
For example, there was an evening after supper a few weeks ago. None of the dishes were done, I'm sure there was laundry that needed to be attended to, and I know that the living room looked like Toys-R-Us had just exploded. But I was messing around with the webcam on the laptop and the boys wandered over to see what I was up to. They wanted to see themselves, so I hit the record button, knowing that there would be some good goof-off footage to be had. Sure enough, I've got about ten minutes of the boys and me making silly faces, singing songs, giggling nonstop, and having a great time. I watched it this morning and it almost brought tears to my eyes to think how quickly time is passing.
Soon, my babies won't be babies. Ian starts pre-K next year and I will only have one kid during the day. In a way I am looking forward to it because of how good it will be for him, socially as well as educationally. But it's still very bittersweet.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the time with our children is so fleeting and so precious. So if I need to let things around the house get behind to enjoy some quality time with my kiddos, then by golly, that's it what I'm going to do. And I'm not going to apologize for it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years...

I know most people will be putting up memorial blogs, vlogs, posts, etc. about what 9/11 memories they have, or where they were, or what have you. But I want to talk about what it means to me, as a parent.
In my memory, the events of that day are quite vivid, which I'm sure most can relate to. I was 15, and I had just entered my keyboarding class, ready to take a test. When I got to the room, the TV was on, which I thought was strange, because the teacher had a strict policy about no television in her room. But because all of the TV's in the school were connected by a central control panel, every TV in the school happened to be on after the news broke. I remember looking up at the screen right as the second plane hit. I think that truly was my last moment as a child. All I could think was that it had to be a mistake. America was the greatest place on Earth, how could this happen. Needless to say, the test was postponed. And because of my town's proximity to a nuclear power plant, speculation began to circulate about if something were going to happen to us. I think for a solid week, no work was accomplished at my school. After a couple days, the TV's were turned off, but the fear remained, as I'm sure it did for many around our country. And for weeks, I think we wondered if there was going to be a secondary attack.
I remember that for months, there was a huge call to prayer for our country. Attendance in local churches swelled and flags hung in almost every yard in town.
Then we went to war. And while I don't want to make this a political debate, I think both parties are responsible, no matter who was in office at the time. And we still are in this fight today.
So for me, 9/11 has been on my mind for the past ten years. Not a day has gone by that I don't think about what it has changed in me. I have family and friends in the military who've had to go overseas, but I have been so very fortunate to still have them all with me. I know many who have lost loved ones to war. And my heart goes out to them and I am so very thankful for their service. I wonder sometimes if the draft will be reinstated and if my husband will be called up. It's my prayer that that doesn't happen, but I know that he will do what is needed for his country.
But as for how this has affected me as a parent, well, I think it has just made me all the more conscience of their innocence. I want to protect them from all the evils of this world and shelter them from any harm. I know all parents want to keep their children small, and I'm no exception. I want my children to stay children as long as possible. Yes, I was 15 when 9/11 happened, but I was still very much a child until that moment. And I suppose, most of all, I just want them to never have to experience their childhood and innocence being ripped away from them like it was for me and countless others. While I am doing my best to prepare them for the big, crazy world that awaits them not too far in the future, I hope they stay little boys for a long, long time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Promoting the Blog!

I try to be a well-rounded individual. I feel like you should diversify when it comes to expressing yourself. Well, before I started this blog, I had (and still have) a YouTube. I talked about how we saved money, recipes, and of course, CLOTH DIAPERS! But that was a no-brainer, huh? Well, I have decided to consolidate the two. I hope that I will be able to promote the blog on the vlog, and vice/versa. Thus beginning my evil empire (insert diabolical laugh).... :)
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. From now on, when I upload a video, I will also put it on the blog. A kind of "one-stop-shop", if you will. Some of my videos are completely random, but some I'm pretty proud of. I hope as I do more, I will have videos that relate to the blogs I post. I really want to make this thing work. And I am pleased to announce that I recently made Partner on YouTube (which means I can start earning money off my videos)! I never thought anyone would watch my videos, let alone subscribe. It is very humbling. And I am just feeling very thankful at the moment. Here is the most recent video I did debuting MMM:

I also want to take a moment to thank my blog followers as well. I am thoroughly enjoying having an outlet for all my crazy ramblings, and having someone read them, means the world to me. <3

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rainy Day Fun

Here in East Tennessee, it has been one heck of a year for weather! We've had tornadoes, hail the size of baseballs, flooding, and lately, temps above 95 every day. And because of this, my kiddos have been cooped up in the house more than any of us would like. My kids love TV, but I don't want them to rot their brains! So I've had to be rather creative when it comes to keeping them occupied.  So I just wanted to share some of the fun ways to keep the kids entertained when the weather doesn't want to cooperate.

1.) Play dress-up! I don't think you ever get too old to enjoy dressing up in fun costumes and pretending to be someone else. I keep a bunch of old hats, scarves, vests, etc. around just for such occasions. My kids love it! They aren't quite old enough yet to act out little scenes or anything, but they love it when I go get "the box of goods".

2.) Play-doh! Ian could play with play-doh for HOURS. It is one of his favorite things to do. I enjoy watching him use his imagination to create new things. Evan is not yet old enough to play with out wanting to eat the stuff, so I am looking for edible alternatives to the commercial stuff.

3.) Puppets! The boys love puppets. Ian even has his own little "puppet voice" that he uses when we play with them. I don't own any store-bought puppets, but instead, I have converted old socks into cute little playmates for the kiddos. We also made a really cute paper puppet in Bible School that Ian has loved playing with lately. I found instructions on the Family Fun website

4.) Play Fort! I found a kids' tent set that included two tents and three tunnels at an overstock shop for $12.50! Normally, these run about $40, so I was thrilled to find it. I set it up in the living room and the kids go to town! They love crawling through the tunnels and playing in the tents. And because it's so big, I don't get it out too often. So when I do, the kids get really excited.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So Torn! Update

As far as kids go, I am still kind of torn. Although, this week has me seriously considering being DONE. I kept my brother's two kids for three days this week while their normal sitter had to go out of town. So I had four kids under four. I was stressed to the max! While I know it would be completely different if they were my own, it still makes me fear throwing any more kiddos into our sometimes (okay, most of the time) chaotic mess. 
IN MY OPINION, to handle 3+ kids, it is a requirement that you must be an organized individual with good time management skills. I can honestly say that I possess neither trait. As I have gotten older, I have started taking some organizational short cuts just to make my life easier, but by nature, this is not an easy thing for me. I inherited some pretty gnarly pack rat genes and I have to fight them daily. In general, I'm not a very sentimental person, so the stuff I "hoard" is usually old receipts, junk mail and magazines. I just let that kind of stuff get away from me until one day I can't see the mail basket anymore and I chuck everything. 
The more I think about it, the more I think it might be selfish for me to want another child. It would be asking so much of Derek, who supplies the majority of our family's income. I would worry that he would feel pressured and stressed to succeed and provide for us. And we have been SO blessed with two healthy, happy boys. I know a lot of couples struggle to have just one child. Right now, we're in a good place. We are financially able to support our family with relative ease. Our house is just the right size for all of us. And the older the boys get, the easier it has gotten, and my sanity sure does benefit from that!
For all these reasons, I think for the foreseeable future, it is safe to say that we are a "two and done" kind of family. But honestly, I will probably always entertain the notion of future children until it's no longer an option (like after Derek's "procedure"). So if I can just hold out three more years, I'll be in good shape!

Friday, July 22, 2011

So Torn!

If someone had asked me six months ago if I wanted a third child, my answer would have been a very hopeful "Yes". Ask me today, and I'm not sure I want to start over again. I think a lot of my reasoning six months ago was that SIX ladies in my "circle" were all expecting. So, of course, seeing their bellies and holding their tiny bundles definitely pulled on the heartstrings of my womb. Now that they have all had their babies and things are getting back to normal, I'm not so sure I want to go back to midnight feedings and fussy gas and spit up. I know those things are short lived, but for that little while, they can seem unbearable. And as of right this moment, I've got the two-kid-thing down (most of the time) and some days, I even feel like I'm getting ahead. So why would I want to jump into those newborn waters again? I'd have to be nuts!
And I didn't even mention the pregnancy part! I know for some women, it's the best time of their lives, but for me, not so much. I don't particularly enjoy seeing my breakfast, lunch and dinner for a second time for six months straight. And I also don't love so much the heartburn, leg cramps and kicks in the ribs. If I could just skip the whole pregnancy and do the labor and delivery, I'd do it in a heartbeat! That part I actually kinda enjoy. I know, I should be committed.
Then again... I miss having a little bundle. And I miss feeling a baby roll in my belly, knowing all the while he's in there, I'm the only one caring and nurturing him. That's an awesome feeling. I miss seeing those first smiles and coos and figuring out who a baby looks like. I miss breastfeeding and baby-wearing. I would also love the chance to have a little girl. I have even dreamed about her and her image is one that has never fully gone away.  She even has a name. And every time I think about her, I well up.
So you might ask, "Why so torn?" The reason is because I haven't mentioned the whole "husband" part of the equation. Until last week, Derek was adamant about not having any more children. He let me know soon after Evan was born that he was content with having two boys and no more. We had even talked about him going ahead with the vasectomy we have planned for after his 30th birthday (three years from now). And knowing how he felt, I had relegated my (slightly crushed) feelings to the "never gonna happen" pile in my head and heart and had actually learned to be content knowing that two was it. And after a few really trying days in the past few months, I have even been thankful that we only have two.
Well, last week, while I was gone on a trip to Florida, he mentioned to me that he was having a feeling that it wouldn't be so bad if I were to "accidentally" get pregnant again. How do you drop something like that over the phone?! I asked what he had done with my husband. I also said we'd talk about it more when I got home. An in the week since I've been back, he keeps dropping hints about "the chance to have a girl" and not ''suiting up before the game'' anymore. Oh, men and their metaphors.. And now I'm completely confused and don't know how to feel at all. Do I dare to hope for another child? Or do I hold off because, deep down, I know that if I were to give in to the feelings I already feel starting to creep back into my heart, he will change his mind and then I'd be crushed again. What to do, what to do.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A (forced) Break

I'm going to premise this by saying that the more radical cloth moms are probably not going to like what they're about to read. One of the main reasons most parents choose to cloth diaper is for their children's health. It has become one of mine. But sometimes, disposables are chosen for their health as well. WHAT?! The cloth diaper advocate says that there is a need to use disposable diapers??? Let me explain.
My family lives on pizza and pasta. It's a staple for us. I balance the carbs with loads of veggies and whole wheat pasta and dough. And I love making homemade pizzas and pasta sauce and seeing how many different ways I can be creative with it.  It's cheap and my husband and kiddos love it, so, at least three to four times a week it's my "go to". It also usually means that at least three or four times a week we are eating tomatoes. Well, last week, Evan's body decided to have a reaction. His little heiny was blistered. The normal regiment of using cloth-safe ointments was not working, so I had to break out the Balmex. And because I didn't want to ruin my cloth diapers, I broke into the stash of disposables I had purchased for my husband to use when I go to Florida next week (that's a whole other post in itself). It took four days and a whole pack of disposables for the rash to clear up. So, while I hated the thought of him wearing disposables and throwing money away, it was necessary. And I would do it again in a heart beat. Because, while I am a 100% cloth supporter, I understand that sometimes there is a place for disposables. And for my son's health, this was one of those instances.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Belly Laughs & Lightning Crackers

We don't get to see my dad too often, so I try to take advantage of holiday weekends and such to visit. So the kids and I made the almost two-hour trip to Dad's on Sunday to celebrate the Fourth with him and my step-mom. Aside from crazy drivers (can you say, "Road Rage"???) and Ian's constant, "Are we there yet?" (Yes, it's already started!), we made it without incident. Dad lives on the lake, so Ian's first order of business was, of course, SWIMMING.
We ate lunch as soon as we got there and then got ready to get in the water. Boy, anymore, it seems like it takes an hour just to get two kids ready to go swim. Make sure Ian pees. Lather with sunscreen from head to toe. Life jackets all around. Grab toys, towels, and bottles of water. Sheesh! Whatever happened to "grab your suit and go"??? At least, that's how I remember it as a kid.
We finally got down to the water and Ian was getting really excited. My step-mom went to go get some floats for the kids off the boat and slipped in the mud and fell on her backside into the lake. After we made sure she was okay, we all cracked up. She got up, turned around, and we died laughing all over again! She was covered in mud from her butt to her knees. But she still managed to get the floats and we got in the water. I hadn't even gotten my suit wet when Evan started wanting to take a nap. So I took him back up to the house and laid him down. He refused to sleep and just cried and cried. Finally, about an hour later, he fell asleep... Only after I gave up and left the room. I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and say, "I give up!" He cried for about ten seconds after I left, but as soon as I was out of sight, he stopped, laid down, and went to sleep!
While I had been up at the house, Ian had gone on his first trip on the jet ski with Dad-Dad (Grandad) and loved it. Soon after that, they all came back up to the house. Ian proclaimed he was sleepy and wanted to lay down with Evan. I warned him of the dire consequences that would occur if he woke him up, and he went to lay down. Ten minutes later, he was asleep! I couldn't believe my good fortune. Both kids napping?! I wanted to pinch myself.
My step-mom had to go watch my step-brother's kiddo for a couple hours, so it was just Dad and me. We always have good talks, so I enjoy our time spent together. Since he lives away, I don't get to see him as often as I would like to and a lot of the time, I feel like he is missing seeing the kids grow up. So I try to call at least once a week to talk to him and update him on all the cute stuff the kids are doing at the moment.
Then Dad went to fix dinner. And it must be said that he is a tremendous cook. Years as a single father taught him to be creative and cultivated his culinary abilities. But we had a simple dinner of grilled chicken, baked potatoes, and cucumbers from the garden. Just as I was taking my first few bites, Evan woke up. So I got him situated in his seat and got him some grub. Ian soon followed suit. After the boys ate, it was bath time and pj's. It wasn't quite dark yet, so we all decided to go out on the porch and watch the boats. Ian really like the little lights that they had. We could hear some people starting to set of some fireworks in the distance and we told Ian to look for them. I hoped we would be able to see some of them over all the trees. Sure enough, a few minutes later, we saw a rocket burst high in the sky. Ian said, "Look, Mommy, lightning crackers!" Dad and I thought his terminology was quite hilarious. I think he was trying to say lightning bugs and fire crackers at the same time. But whatever the reason, it was too cute!
The next morning, we had breakfast and then it was swimming again. I love any place that you can swim at 10:00 in the morning! There's just something about still being able to smell "the morning" and still get out and enjoy the water. Evan did a lot better this time and stayed in the water for almost an hour. Then I handed him off to Dad on the dock and swam out to get the baby float that had, er, floated away. Then I swam some laps from our shore to my uncle's (about 50 yds). I forgot how much I love swimming. Note to self: must swim laps more often.
Then we went up to eat some lunch and put Evan down for a nap. My dad picked up some hamburgers and we chowed down. A thunderstorm was coming and the wind was starting to pick up. So my step-mom went down to the dock to secure all the floats on the boat. A few minutes later, she came back, soaked from the waist down. I wasn't sure what had happened... until she turned around. Fall number two. Her entire back was covered in mud. We couldn't stop laughing. I said, "Well, did you at least get all the floats?" And about that time, I saw one floating across the lake. We died again. Luckily it landed on my uncle's shore. We called him to run out and get it. I told her that I'd come hose her off and we cracked up again. I can't remember the last time I laughed that much in such a short amount of time. It's too bad I didn't go with her down to the lake... I would have SO put that on YouTube!
Sadly, we soon had to head back home. I packed up all our stuff and bid farewell to Dad and Leslie. I wish they lived closer so that they could see the boys more and we could all spend time together. But this was definitely one trip for the books!

PS: Sorry I don't have any pictures... I forgot my camera :(

Thursday, June 30, 2011


In a matter of twelve short days, I will be on my way to Orlando, Florida for Blume, a conference centered around missions for teenage girls (and leaders). While I am VERY excited to attend, as the conference is only once every four years, I am also a little nervous. I am nervous because I will be leaving my children for four nights. My husband has graciously offered to stay home with them so I could go and focus on the conference. But this will be the first time I have ever been away from them for more than a couple days. I had to go on a mission trip to Savannah, Georgia for a week when I was pregnant with Evan and I took Ian with me because I didn't think I could have made it a whole week without seeing him. I now realize it was probably just the hormones. I probably could have made it just fine -- because I was so busy and wouldn't have had time to wallow in the missing. My husband had a lot harder time than I did because he was home alone and hadn't ever been away from us for that long. But now it's my turn to do the missing. But I will be busy and will call and talk to them, so I am hoping it will not be too bad.
But I do worry about the boys... All three of them. Derek has never been left alone with the boys for more than just an afternoon or while I had to run errands or go to work. Definitely never overnight. And it's not because he hasn't wanted to or anything like that, but there's just never been a need. Ian I don't worry about SO MUCH, because he's a little bit older and knows that when I get back, he'll be getting a present from Mickey Mouse (the conference is at Disney). So I think as long as I can talk to him on the phone he'll be fine. Evan on the other hand... He's a completely different story. I do worry about how he's going to be able to handle it. He'll be 18 months when I leave and he is having some major issues with separation anxiety at the moment. I am the only person who can put him down for naps and bedtime (easily) and he is an EARLY riser, usually around 6:30-7:00. Derek and Ian would sleep all morning if I let them. So I am concerned about the sleep schedules. But other than the little things, I think it will all be okay. Derek is a great daddy, and I know he'll do just fine.
I am planning on making and freezing enough meals for them so that I know they will eat well while I'm gone. Cooking has never been one of Derek's strong suits and if left to his own devices, the boys would be eating scrambled eggs, frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets all week. I can already tell that next week is going to be BUSY! Between cooking almost a week's worth of food, getting the house spotless, and getting caught up on all the laundry, I will probably be dead on my feet before I leave.
But overall, I think this trip is going to be good for everyone. It will be good for Derek so that he can kind of see what my life is like as a SAHM and see that it's not as easy as he thinks it is. It will be good for the boys because they've never had to be away from me and I think it will be a great bonding experience for the boys to spend time with Daddy. I really think it will be great for me. I get a little break, just getting to focus a full four days on one of my passions: mission work. So I am thrilled about getting to go. I am also very thankful to my husband for taking most of his vacation days at work to be a SAHD for a week.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I am sitting here, in the quiet of my living room, in silence. The only sounds I hear are the fan and the intermittent beep of a smoke detector with a low battery (I really should check that out...). Silence has become my new favorite noise. For most of the day, my ear drums are bombarded with "Mommy, mommy, mommy!" or "Honey, where are my socks?" or "Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue!" While I cherish what all these voices mean, I also cherish the quiet that the end of the day brings. It is my personal time to just breath. I usually watch a little TV -either Master Chef or So You Think You Can Dance at this time of year. Just a little retreat from the busy-ness of the day. Or I read one of the many books I have waiting for me to crack open. Right now, I am reading The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears and The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (my tastes vary depending on mood).
But tonight, I have started thinking about how much easier my life is at this moment than say, six months ago... I will freely admit that I am NOT a "Supermom". I am not one of those moms who can easily keep a home and have kids. I have come to accept that about myself. And thankfully, so has Derek.
When Evan was born, I was just getting the hang of having a toddler. I was just getting good at keeping the dishes, laundry, cooking all done so that I didn't always feel like I lived in squalor. After Evan was born, though, my time management skills (what little I had) went out the window and I constantly felt like I was being pulled in 18 different directions. I think "overwhelmed" was an understatement. I didn't have any issues with postpartum depression, thank the Lord, or it may have been a whole lot worse. My house was NEVER presentable unless I had company coming over and I worked my butt off for the whole week before to make it that way. I had to scramble to make sure we all had clean clothes. And usually, lunch (our main family meal since my husband works nights) consisted of sandwiches or my husband's favorite "chicken-tots", baked chicken tenders and tater tots. I just got by, to say the least. Something had to give. I had to have a serious sit-down with my husband. I had to explain to him that I couldn't do it all and that I needed help. I laid it all out for him. I told him that I NEEDED a little time to myself every once in a while. The only time I was ever really without the kids was the eight hours I work weekly. I also explained to him that because of his work schedule, most of the time I felt like a single mom. Derek understood where I was coming from and said that he could see that I had been struggling. He was amazed that I even said anything at all, as our history has proven that I am not a touchy-feely-share-every-thought kinda gal. But he also said that he was very happy that I did give voice to my needs and would be happy to help out more.
A lot has changed in six months. I no longer have an infant and a toddler. I have a toddler and a preschooler. The boys play very well together, for the most part, and I am able to get more done than I ever thought I would. I am finally able cook a REAL meal that consists of more than two ingredients. I am finally able to tackle the laundry in a timely manner and my dishes stay a lot more caught up now. I am working on my organization skills (which I think would greatly benefit the other areas of my life) and my time management issues. I try not to let the little things bother me as much as before and just be happy in the moment. I try to spend time with the boys, one-on-one, so that I can get to know them as individuals. Derek spends more time with them now as well, allowing me to run errands (or whatever) by myself and just give me a bit of a break. He has started pitching in more around the house and when he sees that I am struggling, gives me a boost.
I know for the most part, this has probably seemed more like a rant than anything else. But I know I am not the only mom that struggles. I know we all want to be the best mom that we possibly can. And sometimes, it's hard to realize that we CAN'T do it all, no matter how badly we try. I have come to realize that to be the best I can be, maybe I DO have to have a little mess so that I can have a snuggle or read one more book or spin my boys around and around. Because really, those are the things that will matter more in the long run than whether or not I dusted those shelves or folded those towels.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some days...

This post is not really relevant to parenting or cloth diapering, but it's how I've been feeling today.
Some days are harder than others. It could be due to stress or mess (as is usually the case for me) or just an all-around bad day.
Then there are days like today. I don't know why, but I have been missing my grandmother, Mamaw Reba, more today than I usually do. She passed away February 2008 at the age of 89, just four weeks before our first son was born. She was such a special lady, who loved nothing more than watching birds and doing word search puzzles. She made the best biscuits and peach cobbler. I inherited her cobbler dish and every time I use it, I wish it was her cobbler in the dish instead of mine. She also told the best stories. My favorite involved my dad and his brothers making a homemade rocket and setting it off while my grandfather was taking a nap. She told me about what it was like to raise children deep in the mountains of East Tennessee during and after World War II. Hearing her stories made me long for simpler times. And the way she told it, she wouldn't have traded it for anything. She tried to teach me how to make "cat-head" biscuits, so named because of their size (as big as a cat's head). But I still have not mastered them (and probably never will), even after many failed attempts.
Mamaw and me on my wedding day, 2005
Physically, we don't favor each other much at all, but I do have her hands. The large, square palms and long-ish, slightly crooked fingers of mine were hers as well. Even if this is the only feature of hers I possess, it is one that I feel so blessed to have. I can look down at them any time I want and remember all the things her hands accomplished. They deftly worked biscuit dough into a perfectly round shape. They mashed my potatoes just right and chopped cabbage for cole slaw. They hoed a garden and pulled weeds every year until she was 86. They threaded needles to make hand-sewn quilts (and one, I hope to finish in the future). They swatted my brother's and my behind when we got out of line. They helped cut out paper dolls and make flowers out of tissue paper. They pointed out all the different types of birds.
I have so many fond memories of Mamaw, I could probably write a book. And it is for these memories that I will forever be thankful. I was so blessed to get to spend time with that wonderful lady and bask in the wisdom that all her years lent her. I can't wait until my boys are old enough to understand just how precious she was to me. It breaks my heart that they will never know her. Her laugh, her kindness, her sweet spirit. It is my hope and prayer that when I speak of her, I can do her justice.

Big Update!

Sorry I have been a little MIA as of late. I have been working on some projects for the blog that I am getting more excited about by the day. I am working on a ton of reviews and even a few GIVEAWAYS! I can't wait to share them with you. The dates of the giveaways are currently TBD, as they will be listed as I reach a certain threshold of followers. The first giveaway will happen once I get to 25 followers. It's really not that many, but it is one of the first goals I have set for the blog. So if you would be interested in being part of any future giveaways, make sure you follow this blog! And just because I'm awesome like that, I'll give you a hint about the first item I will be giving away... It's soft and FLUFFy... ;)
So make sure you follow the blog so you can stay updated about any giveaways! Thanks!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Amber Teething Necklace Review

Evan began teething when he was about four months old. He cut his first two just fine, with only a low-grade fever and runny nose. Then, five months later, it was a completely different story as he cut SIX TEETH AT ONE TIME!!! I never in a million years would have imagined that. My oldest son, Ian, cut all his teeth two at a time and never had any issues. Evan had a lot harder time with it (to say the least). For the next three weeks, he woke up two to three times a night with his mouth hurting. I would put Orajel on his gums and give him some baby Motrin and try to get him to go back to sleep. No such luck. So, I would usually wind up with him on the couch. Well, I had known about Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces for a while, but I was skeptical about them actually working. But in a sleepy stupor one night, I found myself at my wit's end and ordered one. It came a few days later and as soon as I opened the package, I rushed to put it on Evan. I showed my husband and he thought it looked a little funny, but I told him I didn't care what it looked like as long as it worked. I wasn't expecting anything at all. I thought if it was going to work, it would take a few days at least to notice any kind of change. When I got ready to put him to bed that night, he'd had the necklace on for about six hours. He went down with no issues and went right to sleep. And because I wanted to test the necklace, I did not medicate him before I put him to bed. But I thought for sure that he would be back awake within an hour or so in pain. But he slept ALL NIGHT LONG. He got hungry at about 6:00 and I fed him a bottle and he went right back to sleep. He slept until almost 9:00. I felt like dancing a jig.  And the next morning, I could tell a big difference from the day before. He wasn’t drooling as badly as he had been and the swelling in his gums was noticeably reduced. I was a believer!
Evan, wearing his Necklace
Now, nearly seven months later, I still break out the amber necklace at the first sign of teething troubles. Last month, he cut four molars at once, and although he had a bit of discomfort (but still easily slept through the night), I seriously believe that if he hadn’t had the amber necklace on, his pain would have been significantly worse. And since I purchased the necklace, I have not had to use any more Orajel or Motrin (Except for the weekend we went out of town and I forgot it!). I love the fact that it is all natural and I am not putting any unnecessary chemicals in my child’s body.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One LONG week

I know the blog has been a bit neglected this week. I hope you will allow me to explain...
For the most part, I am a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), but I work about ten hours (including travel) a week cleaning a doctor's office. Normally, I go in the evenings, but in all actuality, I can go anytime between 6:00 PM and 7:00 AM. This makes for AWESOME flexibility, which is just a blessing in any job, and is one of the reasons I don't  mind.
Because we've been in Vacation Bible School at our church this week, my work schedule has been a bit abnormal. Instead of going to work in the evenings, I've been getting up at 3:00 AM when my husband gets home from his job to go to mine. Every once in a while, this arrangement becomes necessary if one of our normal caretakers (a.k.a. Nana or Granny) can't watch the boys. And I am usually able to survive on just a few hours of sleep and go about my day as if nothing had changed with my routine. But I have never done it for a week straight... Until this week. This week, I have felt like a zombie. One reason being, my boys are complete opposites. Evan is an early bird, usually rising at about 6:30 or 7:00. And Ian is a night owl, typically going down around 11:00. Normally, this would not be an issue, because I usually don't have any problems with lack of sleep. I average about six hours of sleep a night and feel fully rested. This week has been the exception. This week, I have averaged three hours and night and have not felt rested AT ALL! I have been getting home about 30 minutes before Evan wakes up, so there is no hope of me going back to bed. And usually about an hour before he takes his first nap, Ian is getting up. So I have just felt tired all week. While I have thoroughly enjoyed taking Ian to his class all week, I am very happy that my schedule will be back to normal next week. I am also very happy that I don't have to get up at 3:00 in the morning to go to work and will have uninterrupted sleep tonight! But my joy will be short-lived, as we have to go to Derek's company cook out tomorrow and then we are visiting with friends in the evening, and we'll be out very late. And this Sunday is Homecoming at church and although we don't have Sunday School, I will have to get up very early to cook. I do believe this has been the busiest week I have ever had! Just thinking about it all is making me tired all over again...
So I hope you will forgive my absence this week as I have been in Super Mom mode and have barely had time to shower, let alone check emails and blog! I hope to be back in the swing of things next week and get back to my previous schedule... After I've had a big nap!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A happy medium

When I first suggested to my husband that we should try cloth diapering, his initial response was, "That's fine, but don't expect me to help with the laundry." I promised that he would never have to wash any dirty diapers and, to this day, I have kept that promise. When I brought home prefolds and covers for the first time and showed them how to put them on the baby using a Snappi, he laughed and told me that wasn't going to work for him. So I had to come up with a solution that would allow me to be able to leave the baby at home and would allow my husband the easiest use of cloth possible. Enter the pocket diaper. If you've read any of my previous posts, you will remember that the reason we started using cloth was because we didn't have the money to buy disposables any more. So I started looking on Ebay and different forums to try to find some cheap pocket diapers. I had heard of BumGenius being a pretty good brand, so I tried to find some used and I didn't know enough about them to be sure that I wanted to buy them without seeing them first hand. So I made another trip to my local (but an hour away) cloth diapering store. I walked over to the BumGenius section and looked at one of the 3.0 pockets they had on display. It was almost like a disposable! I could definitely get hubby to use that. But I still couldn't get past the sticker price. As I walked around the store some more, I overheard a customer checking out saying that she had a coupon for a free BumGenius all-in-one. My attention was immediately caught. So I continued to browse while still trying to pay attention to the conversation. Okay, I'll admit it, I was eavesdropping! But I'm so glad I was. When the customer left, I walked up to the counter and asked the clerk what the coupon was about. She told me that certain pregnancy/parenting magazines were running a special so that when you spent $15.95 on any BumGenius products, you got a free all-in-one. Jackpot! So I said I would be back later with a coupon. I rushed to the nearest grocery store and looked through all the pregnancy and parenting magazines until I found one with the coupon. I snatched it up and raced back to the store. I bought my first pocket diaper that day and got a free all-in-one! I was so happy that Derek would finally have no excuses to not want to help with the diapering anymore. When I got home I showed it to him and told him that it would be just like a disposable! He seemed genuinely impressed with the pocket diaper and said he would use it.
And now, as long as I have "easy" diapers ready for him, he doesn't complain about cloth diapers. So if you are having trouble getting your husband or partner to agree to use cloth diapering, investing in a few pocket diapers or all-in-ones might be just the ticket to convince them to jump on the fluff bandwagon. It worked for me!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Evan's New Playground

Evan loves to play and climb. He has recently discovered his new favorite place: the cookware cabinet. It was the Tupperware cabinet before that, but he found out that the pots and pans make more noise, so he moved on. I give him a wooden spoon and he climbs into the cabinet and bangs and giggles to his heart's content. I don't mind as it keeps him occupied while I am trying to unload the dishwasher or cook dinner. I love seeing the little person he is becoming, his personality developing more and more every day. Even at a year old, he has so much character. He loves when I watch him play his "drums" in the cabinet and if he notices that I'm not looking, he hollers, "MaaaaaMaaaaa" until he gets my attention,. Sometimes he makes it very hard to keep an eye on the cooking :). I am cherishing every moment of this new joy he has found, because not too too far in the future, he might want an actual drum set and my life will never be the same!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One thing leads to another

I knew before I ever got married that when I had children, I wanted them to be born naturally with a midwife, outside of a hospital setting. When I was in high school, we had a career day and our local birthing center came to talk about midwifery. I was always fascinated by the whole concept of birth, and for a time, I considered becoming a midwife. Natural birth is something that was always embraced by the women in my family, as most of them delivered their babies at home with the help of a family midwife. So birth was always presented to me as this beautiful experience that shouldn't be dulled or avoided. My husband, Derek, was not so fortunate in this area. My mother-in-law often told me of her horrible births in the hospital and how they were some of the worst experiences in her life. And so this was the way my husband perceived childbirth. Knowing how he saw it, I was concerned that when it came our time to have children, he wouldn't be supportive of my choice to birth at a center with a midwife instead of a hospital with doctors and epidurals. But being the wonderful man he is, he was supportive (the fact that we would save a ton of money by birthing at a center sounded good to him, too). Even though, after Ian was born, he admitted that during the whole pregnancy, he was scared to death of what I would be like during the labor and delivery. He was afraid that at the last minute I would beg for drugs and then regret my whole decision to go the natural route. I guess he knew that normally, I am a bit of a weenie when it comes to pain and don't take it so well. But he hid all his reservations very nicely as I never once thought that he was worried. I had a very uneventful first pregnancy, aside from horrible all-day-long sickness, with no complications whatsoever. I went into labor at 39 weeks, 5 days at 2:00 AM. My husband was a lot calmer than I expected, but it could have been just because I was very calm. We went to my mom's house to labor until it was time to go see the midwife since she lived a mile from the birth center. My water broke at 4:30 and we went to the center at 5:00. My midwife, Jill, was amazing. She sprayed warm water on my back to counteract the back labor I was having and the time just flew by. At 7:45, I started pushing. I wanted to have the baby in the bed, so Derek was behind me, bracing me and cheering me on. At 8:20, Ian was born. Although, at the time, we thought that he was going to be a she because the two ultrasounds we'd had said girl. But he was the best surprise ever. Derek cried and I was just in awe of this beautiful life we had been blessed with.
Evan came like lightning at 41 weeks, 3 days after three hours of labor and two pushes. I couldn't believe how fast he was born. I looked up at my husband and said, "We have two kids!" I laugh when I look back on it, because it was so off-the-wall. But I blame the hormones.
I shared all of that to say this (I know, I beat around the bush long enough): looking back at all the choices I've made in my journey in motherhood, I shouldn't have been surprised by any of my decisions.
Had I not made the decision to give birth naturally, I may have not decided to breastfeed.
Had I not been breastfeeding, I may have not looked into babywearing as a way to breastfeed on the go.
Had I not worn my baby, I probably wouldn't have been introduced to cloth diapers.
Had I not been introduced to cloth... Well, I'm just so very thankful I was. It has been one of the biggest blessings to the health and finances of our family.
So thank you, natural childbirth, for leading me to cloth diapering.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cloth diapers? Are you crazy!?

If you had asked me two years ago if I would ever consider doing cloth diapers, my answer would have been a firm "no". At that time, all I had ever heard about cloth diapers was that they were AWFUL. My grandmother told me that "in her day" they had to use birdseye flats and pins and rubber pants. She also said that they had to "bleach the crap out of them" and that disposables were the best invention ever (as she saw it). Fast forward nine months and our second son was born. Already on a tight budget with one child, diapers became the biggest drain on our income next to our mortgage. I was having to cut into my allotted grocery budget to afford two sizes of disposable diapers. So I started thinking about ways to cut back on spending. Diapers was the first thing that came to mind, but I didn't know the first thing about where to save money because we were already using the cheapest diapers that we could find. Evan was about four weeks old and I was on a babywearing website trying to figure out how a wrap-style carrier worked (think Moby wrap, but I just went to Wal-Mart and got 7 yds of fabric from the clearance section). In one of the banner ads next to the article I was reading, was an ad for BumGenius diapers. It was dark blue and looked so cute. It immediately grabbed my attention and I clicked on it. To this day, I consider that ad a Godsend. From that one ad, my whole obsession sprang. For the next four weeks, I did nothing but research cloth diapers (except the times I was nursing or cooking or cleaning... :) ). I knew from the diaper websites I had seen that they were pretty pricey and that would be a big obstacle in convincing my husband to use cloth. I gathered all my information and sat him down and presented my arguments for needing to switch (because by this time, it was a NEED and not a want). I told him I knew the initial investment was a bit high, but that I planned on starting with just a dozen prefolds and a couple covers and only for our youngest child. I said I would see how that went and go from there. I figured if I could do prefolds, then I could do any other kind of diapers. And that's what I did. I got a dozen infant prefolds and two Thirsties Duo Wraps. I had to wash every day to keep up with Evan, but by the third day, I knew that I would never go back to disposables. I was hooked. I built my stash little by little, usually buying two to three pocket diapers a months until I had a stash big enough for both the boys.
In the 13 months I have been cloth diapering, I have learned there are so many other benefits to cloth than just financial.  Before we used cloth, Ian kept a constant diaper rash that no amount of diaper rash cream could clear up. I just attributed it to the severe eczema he'd had since he was six months old. TWO days after I started using cloth with Ian, the majority of the diaper rash and most of the eczema on his back and stomach were GONE. I could have cried. I felt like if I had known about cloth when Ian first started having his flare-ups, it would have saved us so much money on doctor visits and prescription medicines that never seemed to work.
After we made the switch, I also noticed that our garbage output significantly decreased (and was significantly less stinky...). With two in disposables, we had at least two bags of just diaper garbage and so that meant extra trips to take it off. But now, we have about one bag a week. I know that's still quite a bit, but I'm a work in progress!
I know when a lot of parents initially decide to use cloth diapers, it is typically for one of three reasons: economic, health, or environmental. But by the time they fall in love, it's for so much more.

A glimpse into my craziness...

In general, I am not a tidy housekeeper. Messes don't really bother me and I am sometimes (okay, most of the time) behind on the dishes. But there is one area in my life that I am completely fastidious about. And that's my cloth diapers. What started a little over a year ago as a way to save money and heal my son's super-sensitive skin, has turned into an obsession. I troll the blogs, vlogs and Facebook pages of my favorite cloth "outlets". I am always changing up my stash and I am neurotic about the organization and storage of my cloth. I have them all stowed neatly by types in their baskets, all within easy reach. At times, this obsession has led to eye rolls from my husband and family, who just can't understand why I would need "just one more" or why I have to "wash" them before I can actually wash them. And it honestly doesn't bother me to wash cloth diapers or deal with the poo, even the times I've gone to visit my dad for the weekend and had to do without my sprayer. Most other cloth-diapering moms will agree that it can easily turn from a necessity to a hobby and then a full-blown obsession. I love cloth so much that I am contemplating the need for a third child just so I can use them again after Evan potty trains... Okay, just kidding about having a baby just to placate my addiction to cloth (mostly, anyway). But part of me is a bit sad knowing that not too far in the future (a mere 18 months) I will no longer have need of my beautiful stash.  And so for this, I may be a little (or a lot) crazy, and that's okay with me. Anyone else want to be crazy, too?