30 October, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Cloth Diapers

The idea came to me close to five years ago when the first of my girlfriends from college started having babies.  A few of them debated about cloth diapering.  I don't think any of them ended up going that route, but the seed was planted in my head.



Time passed and I hadn't really thought about cloth diapers again until Eric and I began reading blog about the environment, green living, simple living, and parenting. Cloth diapers were a buzz in many arenas.  They can save thousands of dollars, and even more as you have more children to re-use them.  And save thousands of pounds of plastic/chemical waste in landfills.  The drawback? Extra laundry.  Extra laundry that demands eco friendly detergents, and air drying.  Hmmm. Not too difficult a choice for us.

Despite all the pros, we wondered if *real* people actually use cloth diapers.  Ya know, people who work, people who travel, people whose kids have explosive diarrhea.

That's when my friend-in-real-life Ashley started writing about cloth diapering her babe, and I discovered a real person (THAT I KNEW!) cloth diapered.  I brought the idea up to Eric a bit more seriously.  We had so many questions. We knew that Ashely took the baby on trips in cloth diapers, how hard could it be?

We started scouring the Internet for details on the realities of cloth diapering. The ugly truth, if you will.  Nothing.

Most cloth diaper websites are either a sales pitch or a how-to instruction manual.  Most mommy bloggers share how much they love their adorably-clad baby-bummies, with no real detail other than half-naked baby photos showing off designer diaper prints.  No one wrote about diaper rash, how often to wash, how many you need, pros and cons of different styles, the time investment, leaks, if it was gross or easy to clean, etc.




That's when I mustered up the courage to write my now blogger friend, Bethany, to ask her details about diapering with two kids under three since she is constantly writing about her love for cloth diapers. She was gracious enough to open up her blog to a whole series of posts about the topic. Here's one on the realistic expectations of cloth diapering.  Her years of experience were beyond helpful!

After her tutorials, I felt confident enough to tackle www.kellyscloset.com to decide exactly which type of diapers were right for us.  So. Many. Choices.  pockets, pre-folds, velcro, snaps, oh my!



Eventually we decided on two brands.  They are not the cheapest, nor are they the most versatile.  But they are easy to use, easy to clean, and come highly recommended.  For first time parents, and first time cloth diaper users we figured easier is better.  We want something we'll be happy with so we'll stick with it.



Last week I made my final list of products to purchase: Tiny diapers. One-sized diapers. Sprayer. Wet bag. Pail liner. Cloth wipes. Rash cream. Detergent.  I mapped out all the promotions, sales and coupons that Kellys Closet was running.  In placing 3 separate orders I managed 3 free diapers, $30 off, free shipping, and earned enough "points" for another free $40 of goods.  Win!  Our total start up cost after the promotions is about $450 for all those goodies (which includes 20 diapers and 18 wipes).

Eric and I spent an hour or so re-reading all the washing and wearing instructions.  We practiced stuffing and folding them, and putting pretend babies in them.  Then did our first of a few pre-washes and line dry.  Not only do the diaper companies recommend pre-washes to increase the fabric's absorbency, it is good practice for us to see how much time and space it takes to wash and line dry these bad boys.  We are going to try another method of line drying tomorrow!

Can't wait to use them on baby girl's happy hiney!

Have tips to share?  We'd LOVE to hear from you.  Leave your thoughts below or email me!



24 October, 2011

The One With Chocolate Milk - Pregnancy Update {Weeks 35 & 36}


"Shut up! The camera adds 10 pounds."
"Oh. So how many cameras are actually on you?" 

Maybe I shouldn't do these pictures late at night when I am congested and puffy ;-)

How far along? 36 weeks


How big is baby? Various reports on the Internet of 18-20 inches and 5-6 pounds, and gaining an ounce a day.  No official measurements at the midwife's office today.... just "great heartbeat" and "she feels good"


Total weight gain: Right around 40 lbs total.


Maternity Clothes? Several of my shirts are getting too short! We had a cold snap here in Atlanta so I bought a few long sleeved things at Target. And then in talking to some girlfriends they reminded me that I'll probably wear maternity clothes through the holidays, so I did buy a pair of black pants to get me through the winter.


Stretch Marks? They're getting worse around my hips.


Exercise: Getting super hard to do much other than short walks. Even my stretching routine is getting difficult...mostly because I can't get up off the floor when I'm done!


Sleep: For every 3 or 4 bad nights I make it up with one good night. I get really congested around bed time (not sure if this is pregnancy or food allergy related), and then I can't get comfortable because of the baby belly. Once I finally get comfy my fingers usually fall asleep from the carpel tunnel and then I have to pee. So yeah, it's exhausting...but pretty soon I'll have my (likely, screaming) little girl to snuggle with at night instead :)


Movement: Ninjalina is living up to her name.  Despite the pregnancy books/website saying she should be slowing down, she is still active.  Pre-breakfast, post-dinner and 4am seem to be her favorite times of day.  She also gets mad and kicks if I sit down and lean forward too long, like typing at a desk or eating a meal at the table. 


She is also "burrowing," as I like to call it, down "there".  It can be rather painful at times but a great sign that she's getting ready to make her debut!


Food cravings: Butter (random). Sweets. Peanut butter and Chocolate. Just chocolate...and chocolate milk. And yes, I'm 29.


Ross: "What are you doing?"
Chandler: "Making chocolate milk. You want some?"
Ross: "No thanks, I'm 29."



What I miss:  Comfortable sleeping. Feeling in my right fingers. Shoes. Shaving easily.


What I am looking forward to: That moment when she's first put on my lap after delivery.  Watching Eric hold her for the first time. Seeing Eric introduce her to our family members that first time.


Milestones: 
  • Anyone I make eye contact with (or am in the general vicinity of) in public asks about the baby
  • Weekly OB appointments
  • Feeling and seeing body parts roll across my belly
  • Needing help with shoes and occasionally pants or getting off the couch
  • Having that "I feel SO pregnant" feeling doing just about any menial task
  • I have lost all definition in my shoulders, collarbone, throat, neck - and can barely keep my purse on my shoulder anymore
Say What?


"Betty, You look like Jiffy Pop.  Ya know..it's slow at the beginning and then it grows really fast before it pops" - My Dad


"Just send her an eviction notice" - Deacon Dennis


"We should start some sort of bet or pool to guess the due date.  All money going to charity, of course" - Monsignor David


"[My son] would have just stayed in there had we let him. The doctor had to go in for him" - Church Lady


As I was trying to get off the dentist waiting room couch, the very old man in the chair next to me said, "And I thought I couldn't get up!"


"You only have semi-Michelin Man syndrome this week" - The OB (my midwife was at a delivery)


Sweet moments:


When I dropped Eric off at the train station before he left for San Francisco he bent down and looked my belly "in the eye" and told the baby to "be good. let mommy sleep. and don't come out until I get home"


Eric finished folding the last load of baby clothes and he said, "Her clothes are SO cute, but I have no idea how I am going to get her in and out of them"


Make room for baby: The room is almost finished. We have the desk, bookshelf, crib all assembled and ready.  Clothes all washed. Curtains up.  Toys and books all on the bookshelf. Just waiting to get the dresser (still crossing my fingers to find a good deal), and finish up the wall paintings my mom and I started.  


We have our car seat now...probably time to get that installed, huh?


Here's some tiny loot from our latest (and final) shower..
Tu-Tu Cute :)

Little socks that look like shoes

Do these come in my size?


Oh, and THIS: I don't think I've mentioned my finger nail and toe nail aversion.  Cannot handle cutting or filing them.  Good news. I kicked my nail biting habit!


Good report at the midwife's office today: BP has stabilized. Weight is on track. Baby's heart beat is strong.  Had the Group Beta Strep test done today. Blerg.


I cry tears of overwhelming joy and happiness every time I think about post-delivery, see a newborn, or watching a birth video.  I was a snotty mess watching The Business of Being Born last week.


We decided on a name. It's a secret.



22 October, 2011

The latest: work preparations, home brewing, and more baby showers

It's been so long since I've sat, just to sit.

I quit my job at the lawn company at the end of September because I knew October would be crazy at the Church and getting ready for baby.  I am so thankful I had that foresight.

In one week I will send 142 high schoolers to the mountains with 36 adults for a retreat that I planned and organized but will trust two other adults to execute without me.

In three weeks I 177 10th graders will come before the Archbishop at two Masses to receive the indelible mark of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; a Mass that includes several visiting clergy, 15 Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, a full worship band, and a reception for all 800 after each Mass.  Yes, ten days before my due date.  No. Big. Deal.

In the mean time I've had two more beautiful baby showers.  One thrown by my co-workers and one by my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

My co-workers were so generous in doing a brunch theme shower with lots of gluten-free casseroles, fruits, and salads.  Such a thoughtful surprise.  They also pooled together and bought us the car seat for baby girl, and a few other precious little outfits.

My mother and sister-in-law hosted a shower for all the ladies that Eric grew up with.  It's always fun to spend time with them, especially without Eric, because I get all the dirt on him.  But I also learn just how much they love him and are proud of him.

As you can see, I am getting rather plump!





When I haven't been chained to my desk planning the events above, or out showering baby girl with love and loot, I've been...

....doing loads of tiny laundry
....painting art and decorating the nursery
....assembling cribs, desks, bookshelves
....visiting with girl friends and their babies
....avoiding the computer for non-work because I have constant numbness from the carpel tunnel in my right hand
...keeping my feet up
....ordering cloth diapers an nursing bras
....trying to create low-sodium, gluten-free menus with an exhausted, emotional, pregnancy brain
....keeping track of my water intake to be sure that I get at least 2 liters but not more than 3 a day
....staring at the growing pile of thank you notes that I need to write, but can't hold a pen for more than a sentence or two

Eric has...

....built a two-tap kegerator from a mini fridge
....learned how to bottle beer from a keg
....won 6th place in a local home brew competition (the top 4 went to a guy who is nationally ranked!)
...packed up his desk and is moving office buildings now that his company's merger is finalized
...stepped up his game at work and taken on some leadership roles to keep things smooth while merging. He comes home equally exhausted
....been enjoying the Fall weather: biking, hiking, unicycling, back packing, and driving the Jeep with the top down
....been out socializing with his guy friends before the baby days begin
....created a recipe for a brown ale (my favorite) to be ready for baby girl's due date, and is brewing it today!


Next week...
Eric is going to San Francisco for a work project.  Which means I will be spending the night at my parents house so I am not alone 36 weeks pregnant.  On top of it, my mom is having surgery, which means my dad will have his hands full cooking for two laid-up ladies watching The Price is Right reruns.  Hopefully mom and I can finish our paintings for the baby's room, and finish sewing all the burp clothes I started this summer.


13 October, 2011

Wedding ABCs - Celebrating Two Years!


I found this floating around the internet on a few blogs I occationally read.  Love this idea and thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. 10/10/09 was the big day.  We were married in the Catholic church where I work and we are actively involved in ministry.

Attending:
I think we were right around 200 guests


Bridesmaids:
We decided on a smaller wedding party that included just family.  All the ladies made couples with the guys.

L-R:  Leeann (Eric's sister), Katie (my sister), Me (holla), Deirdre (my brother's then girlfriend / nephews mama), and Paige (my other brother's wife)

Catering:

The reception site we chose did their own catering and cake. The family owned two restaurants before owning/operating the reception venue. 

 Appetizers.


 The cake.


Cake fight.






And then this happend.

Dress:
I walked in the store and immediately picked this off the rack. However, it was the fifth of five dresses I tried on at the first fitting.  It was the one. It was all I thought about for weeks! The dress company did a custom length for me so we didn't have to hem it, and they allowed me to trade the lace up back for the button back that I wanted.


Engagement:
Eric and I were engaged in December and married the next October.  A ten months engagement was almost too long!


Flowers:
We used a local florist that does a lot of work for our church and had recently done a friends fall wedding. She granted my wish of zillions of flowers, and made it work within our budget.
(Eric gave me the lady's fit Notre Dame class ring his great uncle used to propose to his wife. They're pictured below)


Groomsmen:
What a good looking group of guys, am I right?
L-R: Tim (Eric's Dad), Alex (my brother), Eric (hottie!), Dan (Eric's brother-in-law), David (my brother)

Honeymoon:
Eric surprised me with the honeymoon destination and plans. About a month before he told me we were going to California and that I'd need a variety of clothes: warm, cool, dressy, messy, the rest was a surprise! We hiked, walked on the beach, went to a wine dinner, saw my first wind farm, played in snow, and drove through the dessert.


Invitations:
I don't have any pictures of them! We did a DIY pocket invitation custom designed by my friend Ashley of Little Leaf Design (you can see them in her portfolio with our last names changed). My mom worked with the printing company to have them printed and cut just right.  My dad hand assembled all 150+ of them.  And we had a calligrapher hand address them.  Still one of my favorite details of the wedding :)

Justice of the Peace:
Being the crazy Catholics we are, we had three priests, two deacons, and a seminarian celebrate our wedding Mass. Each of them has a special place in our life so we wanted to include them all.

We miss you Monsignor Reynolds...


Keepsakes:
1) My parents surprised Eric and I with this vintage cake topper of a bride & groom on a bicycle. We keep it in our hutch.

2) We made a guest book using our Engagement Photos, it's fun for us to look back on.

3) I am sure we did some sort of party favor for the guests and for the life of me I cannot think of it. And I am sure it was something I made a big stink over too... anyone remember?


Ladies Night:
My sister threw a heck of a party: Presidential Suite at the Georgia Terrace, dinner buffet, lingerie shower, old bridesmaids dresses of my aunts from the 80s, limo, bars in Atlanta, and a sleep over with all my ladies!


In an effort to protect the innocent; no pictures :)

Music:
We had our friends Greg & Lizzie from New Orleans come lead music for the Mass.  They were incredible. People still ask about them.  Our church organist played the processional and recessional.  And we had a DJ for the reception.

Newlyweds: 

 I Love you :)

Old, new, borrowed, blue:

Something Old
 Sacred Heart of Jesus medal from my grandma that passed away that year


Something New
My dress - this picture always makes me laugh!

Something Borrowed
My other grandmother's pearl necklace 

 Something Blue
 I had a blue tipped French manicure on my toes.  Why not?

Photography:
After several phone calls with booked up photographers (over a year in advance!), I put a request for recommendation out on Facebook.  A friend of Eric's replied with Longwerks. Didn't they do a fabulous job?



Question popping:
Read all about how Eric proposed in the chapel during Adoration...

Reception:
We had a beautiful late-night reception at an old house in Norcross, GA.




Shoes:
 These are the shoes that flew off the roof of my car. I had to special order them in extra-wide, but they were super comfy! 

Trash the Dress:
Nope! I am keeping it.  I had this romantic notion of having my  kids baptism & first communion gowns made out of my wedding dress, but I am just not ready to part with it in it's entirety...not that I am going to wear it again.

Unique:
1) Eric arranged for a few minutes of Adoration in the chapel immediately after the wedding. It was so perfect to have those quiet moments with Jesus before the hustle and bustle of pictures and the reception.

2) I LOVE ice cream.  Instead of a big cake, we had the reception site create an ice cream sundae bar with local Mayfield ice cream and all the toppings you could dream of.  

3) We had three couples at our wedding who have been married over 50 years!

Eric's great aunt and uncle:
My grandparents:
My co-worker and her husband:

Vows:
We said the traditional Catholic wedding vows - the long version :)


Wedding Woes:
Atlanta experienced a severe flood a few weeks before the wedding, so there was a detour due to some residual damage between the church and reception site.  We had no idea until that night, and a few guests got lost and never made it to the reception. So sorry!


The DJ and the reception site owner got in a bit of a fight and it lead to forgetting the Father/Daughter Mother/Son dance, no champagne ready for the toast, and very few guests to witness the cake cutting.  Oh well.

X-rated:
A-hem. 

Young kids:
My one year old nephew was the ring bearer.  He ran back down the aisle toward Eric and I for a big hug.
He looks a little grumpy here, but isn't that tux ADORABLE?!?!

Because our wedding was at 7pm with a full Mass, we didn't include children that weren't immediately family.  And many of them left the reception early with a sitter.


Isn't Eric's little cousin tres cute?

Zzzzz:

After the reception my dad had arranged for a driver to take us to a hotel near where the send off brunch would be the next day.  Walking into a hotel in a wedding dress was just as awkward as I always imagined it would be.




Thank you to our parents for such a beautiful wedding day!!!






I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into our magical day!!