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Friday, May 31, 2013

3 AM Routine

It's 3am and the monitor lights up. She's awake. G sleeps very well in my book and I can't really complain, especially because C was a hot mess and I know how lucky we are this time around. Regardless, every night around 3am, she wakes up to eat.

Fortunately, when G wakes up she stirs, grunts, and lets out a little groan. It's only if we don't hear her that she starts wailing. This is appreciated by everyone in the house. Since I'm breastfeeding her, I pull night duty. Woo. You know when you are woken up in the middle of a deep sleep and you literally can't open your eyes? And when you do it feels like your eyelids are sandpaper? Yeah...I'm a mess when I'm woken up at this hour. My saving grace is that when you breastfeed, food is always ready! Who knows what would happen if I needed to do math and make a bottle in that state of being.

After picking her up (and forgetting to turn off the Angel Care monitor half the time), I change her diaper, and we settle into the glider for a midnight snack. The hard part? Staying awake. If you didn't know, breastfeeding and the hormones it releases creates a nice calming effect for Mom and baby. This makes staying awake at 3am especially hard.

All I have to say is thank goodness for my iPad. When C was an infant, I had an iPod Touch, which worked the same, but if you're going to be up late nursing a baby I highly recommend some kind of back lit entertainment device. You don't want any other lights on in the room, so reading a book isn't really possible and watching TV can be too stimulating. A Kindle, Nook, iPad, smart phone, however? Perfect.

I read baby related articles, peruse The Bump, play Candy Crush, check various Tumblr sites, read my favorite blogs, surf Pinterest, and the occasional list on Buzz Feed. To help G settle back into sleep, I play the Lullaby Theme station on Pandora as I look at other things. Love that multi-app capability! It can take between 20 and 60 minutes to get G fed and back to bed, depending on how cooperative she is feeling.

So far, I've been successful at staying awake while I feed her - its safer for her and insures that I am awake when she falls asleep so I can get back in my comfy bed ASAP!

What do/did you do to stay awake for night feedings?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Time I Thought I'd Have

Despite having gone through the newborn stage with C, I still somehow thought I would get through several projects while on maternity leave. Well, here I am with about two weeks of leave left and not a single project crossed off my list. Hind sight is 20/20 and I was crazy to think I'd have time.

At first, I was a bit upset that I "got nothing done," but looking back all I could remember was lots of cuddling with G. Two months of squishy baby time. Time cuddling a baby is not time wasted, my friends, and I don't regret one second of lazy time with my girl. Heck, most days we didn't even leave bed! Jealous? ;-)

Still, the truth of the matter is that there are several projects that I'd really like to get into and finish - partially because they're taking up space in my craft room and partially for my own sanity and down time. Once G gets into a more reliable night time sleep schedule, I plan on cleaning up my craft room and getting back to work.

What is on my to do list? Oh, just a few things...

Landon's quilt (that has been in the works since March 2010)
Charlie's iSpy quilt
Ginny's quilt
Another iSpy quilt I have pieces for
Ginny's crocheted rug
Burp cloths
Finishing making wool dryer balls
Start Ginny's baby book
...and who knows what else that's buried in that room!

I miss sewing so much. It has been months and months - maybe even a year since I've worked on a project and I miss it. Step one is cleaning that room, step two is getting rid of stuff I don't need, and step three is getting to work! I'm going to attempt to start step one this weekend. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sun Power!

Now that it's nice outside, I can finally use the awesome power of the sun to help with laundry. If you haven't tried sunning stains yet, you should! It works like a charm with no effort on your part. While long term sunning can fade colors, it does wonders on dingy, dull whites.

Excuse the poop stains, but it'll help illustrate my point. These diapers were run through the wash twice, but were still rather stained. Bleach isn't all that great for diapers (or babies for that matter), so that was out of the question. Instead, just hang or lay wet diapers/laundry in the sunniest spot in your yard and leave them for a while. For stubborn stains, a spritz of fresh lemon juice and water will usually do the trick. Just remember to rewash anything you spray lemon on as the citrus can irritate baby's tush.

Grovia AI2 insert (left), Rumparooz one size pocket (right)

Here are the same diapers after about two hours of sunning with lemon juice. Just two hours! They look brand new again. Aside from stain removal, the sun also helps sanitize and get rid of stinkies.

Enjoy your bright whites this summer!

Wordless Wednesday: Ginny Loves Daddy

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Modular Diaper Bag

Two kids means twice the amount of stuff to bring with you when you go out. Let's be honest about diaper bags - the bigger the diaper bag, the more stuff you cram into it. Extra space is taken up by forgotten things, extra things, and "maybe we'll need this one day" things. Yes, over preparation is always the best plan when you have small children, but there comes a point when you're carrying around everything but the kitchen sink and feel like a pack mule.

Recently, I scored a Ju-Ju-Be Be All diaper bag on Baby Steals for about 50% off retail price. This thing is awesome! It has pockets after pockets, a memory foam changing pad and strap pad, zipper areas for your cell phone and wallet, plus the entire thing is stain and water proof and comes in amazing prints and colors. Having it now, I would have paid full price for it if need be!

Though Ju Ju Be makes diaper bags of all sizes, this one isn't tremendous and that's okay. Again, the bigger the bag, the more crap ends up inside. I took stock of all the things I'd need to tote around and thought I'd made a mistake. Diapers, wipes, clothes, snacks, toys, first aid, burp clothes...the list goes on. The problem was that I didn't need everything for every time I left the house.

Grab a snack for the park, remember a bib for the restaurant this time, and don't forget something to keep him entertained at the doctor's office! Ever do that? You're trying your hardest to get out the door and keep realizing you need things for where you're going? Yeah, every time I leave the house. I don't want to carry EVERYTHING, so I'm left gathering up individual pieces. Not anymore! I saw something on Pinterest that showed diaper bag things divided up into clear make up bags. The intention of the post was  to organize a full diaper bag, but I took it further - a modular diaper bag. I divided up our supplies by trips and activities so I could easily grab what I needed and leave what I wouldn't.

Yes, surprises happen, but for the most part if you have a diaper, some wipes, and a first aid kit, you will survive. Otherwise, you can generally account for what you will be doing when you leave the house. Heading to a restaurant? Then I should bring the toddler feeding pouch and activity pouch. Going somewhere with just G and not C? Why not leave C's extra clothes and diapers at home then? Going to the doctor's office and then running some errands? Might want to bring some activities and snacks. Customizing what you'll need is as easy as putting the right pouches and a few diapers in the diaper bag.

I got these pouches at the dollar store and WalMart, so each only cost a dollar. The larger ones are pencil cases and the smaller ones are make up bags. You can use any kind of pouches/bags or even make your own. The pouches I made up are:

Toddler Feeding - food scissors, bib, toddler size utensils
Baby Feeding - burp cloth, bib, nursing pads, lanolin (sample size packs)
Activities - flash cards, cars, crayons, a small book, paper scraps, a tiny bottle of bubbles
Extra Cloth Diapering - cover, Snappi
First Aid - Bandaids, Tylenol, tweezers, thermometer strips, Neosporin, Pedialyte to Go
Extra Clothes - one outfit for C, one outfit for G

These pouches won't stay the same forever. Outfits change with seasons, feeding supplies and activities, change with age, I won't always need nursing stuff, etc. I can change out what is in the pouches very easily though, adding or subtracting as we go. There are some things that I always keep in the diaper bag (first aid kit, hand sanitizer, sunblock in the summer, wipes, and wet bag), but everything else can be changed out as needed.

To make things extra easy, I keep all of the pouches right near the front door where we also keep the stroller and diaper bag. A quick change of pouches, a few diapers, and we're ready to go.

As long as I restock the pouches in between trips this system will get us out the door in record time. At least that's the plan. ;-)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ginny: Two Months!

Two months have flown by and this little girl isn't slowing down for anyone. So far her eyes are still holding on the blue hue, but I know it can still change. She still hates her car seat, but loves being outside and though being worn in a carrier isn't her favorite, she usually falls asleep in about 5 minutes.

Stats: 11 lbs. 8 oz. and 22" long

Firsts this month: Smiles, coos, first night in her crib, and lifting her head up.

Clothes: She fits perfectly in 0-3 month clothes, which means they're on their way out very soon. I can't believe she's almost in 3-6 months! Good thing we have a ton of adorable summer dresses and outfits in that size. Dressing her is so much fun!

Favorites: She loves the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym we borrowed from our friends Mary and Rob. Their son Parker loved it as well. Its definitely a baby hit! G also seems to love listening to music. When I nurse her at night, I play the Pandora Lullaby Themes station on my iPad (while I Facebook or play Candy Crush to stay awake!) It has beautiful music that varies from piano solos to well known artists like Norah Jones and the Beatles. We use it so much, I'm considering getting the paid version so its not interrupted by commercials!

Sleeping: We took down the Pack and Play and moved G to her crib a few nights ago. Its been going really well and her sleep hasn't changed much. If anything, she's sleeping longer. She loves to spread out when she sleeps, so her crib is the perfect place.

Eating: Still going strong with breastfeeding. Since I'll be going back to work soon, I've started pumping and storing up milk in the freezer. Though its hard to not feel like a cow at times, I know its for the best!

New Tricks: G is getting much better at holding her head up and has started talking to us and smiling. I love this stage - you make all kinds of funny faces and noises for that one flick of a smile.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Things I Googled Today

Things I Googled today...

How to get pee smell out of a memory foam bed topper
Will poly fill stuffing make a dog sick
Disney Junior TV schedule
How to get crayon off a microfiber couch
White noise sound

Needless to say, I need some wine.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pump Smart, Not Hard

With my return to work looming on the horizon, its time to start building a freezer supply of breast milk. Not my favorite part of breastfeeding, but necessary none the less. Luckily, we ended up finding a chest freezer on Craig's List so storage is no longer a problem. Time to start pumping!

With a toddler and a newborn hanging around, however, there isn't a ton of time during the day to get in a session or two. Pumping, labeling, cleaning, and storing needs to be as efficient as possible to keep the day moving.

I keep my pump set up 24/7. When I go back to work, I keep one AC adapter plugged in at home and one at work, so there is no climbing behind or under furniture to plug it into the wall. I sit it next to the couch, so when I need to pump I can just set it next to me, set up, and go. I keep extra breast pads, lanolin, and a burp cloth in my pump bag so they are within reach should I need them.

Cleaning pump parts is annoying. I hate doing it, so I don' least not every time. Fresh milk is good in the fridge for about 3-5 days. Therefore, you can put your pump parts in the fridge between pumping and they'll stay fine without cleaning! This little tid bit of information saves so much time during the day and is invaluable when you're pumping during a quick work break. A zip top bag or plastic tub work great for storage.

Since I am working on saving milk, everything goes right into freezer bags and into the freezer. The process of finding a bag and then a Sharpie to label it (both of which seemed to migrate around my kitchen) took way too long. This little bit of genius I'm genuinely proud of. I cut a slit in the top of the storage bag package and put a magnet inside the package behind the bags, sticking it on the side of the fridge. The Sharpie is right in the top and whenever I need one, I know exactly where they.

While the typical storage bag (I use Lansinoh brand) is made to stand up, you should always freeze them flat to save room and make storage easier. There are a lot of ways to store frozen bags, but my favorite is standing up like files in a basket or box. I don't have enough milk to fill one yet, but I bought square baskets at the dollar store to keep things organized in the freezer. Always remember the FIFO rule (first in, first out) so you're pulling the oldest milk first.

With this system, I can get through a pumping session in just under 25 minutes. If I needed to set up my pump, actually pump, then clean parts, find bags, label, and store everything it would be closer to 40. That's a big difference, especially to two kids demanding your attention!

Now that I'm on the road to a nice milk stash, the next step is getting G to drink from a bottle....something she hasn't actually done yet. While I'm very happy and proud of that fact, it does make me nervous that we haven't given it a go yet. Wish us luck!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Being a Toddler is Hard

If you recorded everything I said during one day, you would hear a lot of...

"Please put that down..."
"Please don't dump that......uuuugh....."
"I can't understand you when you're whining."
"You can play with _____ when you put away _____."

Please clean up your flash cards...
Along with the word, "Charlie" about 10,000 times. In the grand scheme of things, Charlie is a very good kid; he's generally quiet and amiable, can play independently, and I can safely leave him in a room alone for more than five seconds and not return to complete destruction.

When it comes down to it, however, he is two and a half and being a toddler is tough. Most things in your environment are not made in your size, don't belong to you, and can be considered death traps if you're creative enough. People generally can't understand you, don't agree with you, and constantly insist you go places/do things that you don't want to do. It's frustrating and the whine, the cry, and the occasional meltdown are direct results.

Recently, I came upon the most perfect explanation of having a toddler - "Reasons My Son is Crying." It is hysterical because its true. Recent things that made Charlie whine/cry/meltdown are...

I wouldn't let him wear a hoodie in 80 degree weather.
He ran around the living room screaming and riled up the puppy, who eventually ran him over.
I changed his dirty diaper.
I ate something in front of him.
I wouldn't let him stick a crayon in his sister's nose.
He was hungry, but couldn't remember the word "hungry."
I didn't let him eat his coloring book.
The sticker he threw in the dirt wouldn't stick anymore.

No toddler is exempt from the occasional meltdown and I knew it was guaranteed once Ginny arrived. Hey, the baby cries and gets all kinds of attention, why can't I? Though it is pretty solid logic, it drives me batty. As we ignore the whine and respond to the talking, he's slowly getting better, but its been a long (and slightly funny) seven weeks.

All of this is part of growing up and as much as its frustrating now, I know we'll miss the funny things he says, does, and flips out over at this age. They grow up too fast to wish it away. Even the tantrums.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wool Dryer Balls

Our dryer does a great job of keeping up with fairly constant use, but when it comes to drying cloth diapers we often have to run a second cycle. It is trying to dry something that is meant to lock in moisture, after all. One way to help cut down on drying time is by adding in some wool dryer balls.

Wool dryer balls are, as the name suggests, are made of 100% wool that is felted to create a nice tight ball. While bouncing around the dryer drum, 4 to 6 balls can cut down on dryer time and as an added bonus, soften clothes and reduce static! We have been a softener/dryer sheet free family for about 6 years now since learning about the nasty chemicals found in both products. Softeners and dryer sheets can also damage your clothes, making them fade and wear much faster. Chemicals AND wasted wardrobe? No thanks.

There are a lot of sites out there where you can purchase dryer balls, but they are pricey! Upwards of $6-$8 each. EACH?! This was definitely one of those things that I saw and though, "Pfft....I can make that." I've felted knitting projects before (see fuzzy bunny slippers on the right) so I understand the general idea of how it works. 100% wool + really hot water and soap + dryer time = nice felted yarn. Basically, everything you're not supposed to do to wool. Check.

To start, it is important to find 100% wool yarn. Anything that says "machine washable" or "washer safe" is no good. Its meant to remain stable through washing. Labels can be tricky - just because the label says wool doesn't mean its 100% wool. Look for other materials like acrylic, which won't felt in the wash.

 Oooh wool......psych! Its 50% wool, 50% acrylic. Gotta read the labels if you're going to felt.

I know it goes against everything you learned about laundry, but you want something that WILL shrink if you wash it. I like Patons Classic or Lion Brand Fisherman Wool. Both are relatively inexpensive and come in nice colors and stripes. I had several colors in my yarn stash and picked up two new colorways that were on sale for $2.49 at Michael's.

Can you tell which ones my cat has gotten to?
To begin, wind the yarn around your fingers until you have a small layer.

Next, pull it off your fingers and wind around it the other way. Fold the whole thing in half and begin winding around and around in layers, turning the ball to keep it even. I like to do it in a strip, then turn the ball and add another strip, and so on - it seems to go faster.

To end it, tuck in the tail end under a few strands. Its okay if its not completely secure since it will felt to the yarn around it in the wash.

Notice the wide stripes of wound yarn? Makes winding much faster.
You can get two decent sized balls from a skein (approx. 223 yards). You can make them larger or smaller as you'd like. I made these four to try out the felting process. Yes, it bothers me that I chose two skeins that don't match.

Next, I took a pair of trouser socks that I don't wear anymore and made a little wool ball caterpillar. I made sure the sock was tight around the ball to help it keep shape and then used bits of yarn to tie off in between. If you just stuffed them all in, they'd felt to each other! Not good. 

Finally, send them through the wash! I did a hot wash with soap, dryer on high, another hot wash with soap, and a final dry on high to get the felted look I was looking for. Since I have an HE front loading machine, I added about 2 gallons of hot water into the detergent drawer to help the process. With a top loading machine, I can imagine the whole process being a lot faster. As a side note, wool stinks when you're felting it. Sorry!

Ta da! Here are my nicely felted dryer balls! These four cost about $5 to make and will help cut down on energy costs, recouping their price to make over and over and over. Feel free to add a few drops of essential oil to help fragrance your laundry in a safe and natural way and if your dryer balls get fuzzy over time, give 'em a shave with a fabric shaver. Enjoy your soft, fluffy laundry!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

It really is the little things that make a day like Mother's Day special.

J made waffles for breakfast, G took a three hour nap while I finally went through all of my clothes, and C played (relatively) quietly and stayed dry in underwear all morning! I got rid of bags and bags of clothes that don't fit me anymore (and never will again) and put away my maternity clothes. Its amazing a) how much clothing I was holding onto "just in case" it fit me again and b) how long its been since I've bought clothes for myself. About five years as far as J and I can figure.

In the afternoon, we grabbed Five Guys for lunch (YUM!) and then hit up Ross and TJ Maxx so I could find some summer clothes that actually fit me without breaking the bank. We had planned for C to take a nap on the hour drive to the shopping center, but no dice. Despite that, he walked around both stores (and a few others) and behaved SO well! And to boot, G napped most of the afternoon and stayed in the same spit up free outfit all day.

Yummy food, shopping, and well behaved kids. Now that's a Mother's Day. :-)

I hope all of the special women out there - the Moms, Moms-to-be, Grandmothers, Aunts, Godmothers, and Friends; the women who touch the lives of children every day - had a wonderful day.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

So.....Potty Training

I'm not quite sure how to categorize today's potty training attempt. It wasn't a complete failure, but it wasn't exactly a "good" day, so maybe a semi-success? Let's just say we'll be taking this one day at a time.

The set up. For today, I had 11 pairs of underwear on hand, a waterproof mattress pad for the couch, a big jug of water, mini M&Ms as a reward, and his potty chair. There are many opinions on where to put the potty, but I chose to stick in the living room. Yes, I realize that under normal circumstances you want them to pee in the bathroom, but since I was simultaneously taking care of G, I wanted to be able to coach C through a potty break if I was nursing or otherwise busy. We'll work on making it to the potty first, than to the bathroom.

Also, did you know a crib sized mattress pad fits over 2 couch cushions almost perfectly? Cool, huh?

It's no secret that C is a little high strung, so I started out the day very slow. I changed his diaper and gave him a choice of underwear to put on. Then, I gave him a big ol' cup of water and started a 15 minute timer. I downloaded a simple kitchen timer app on my phone that let me set an alarm for potty breaks. Super helpful when you're also taking care of a newborn and constantly lose track of time.

Thankfully, G napped very well this morning so I got a lot of one on one time with C. Whenever the timer went off or I noticed his underwear a tad wet, I asked him if he needed to go and calmly moved him towards his potty. Most times he sat and sat and sat. A few times he actually peed. One time he said he needed to pee and when he sat down, pooped! Yeah, we went through pretty much every pair of underwear and almost 40 ounces of water (I swear, this kid is part camel), but it was going alright.

Then around noon, he peed on the floor. Like, a full pee. And I accidentally scared him.

I saw him peeing. No big deal, let's go over to the potty! My voice was calm, but my actions were slightly frantic. I grabbed him under the arms, quickly moved across the room, and plopped him down. I celebrated the few drops that made it in the bowl. He lost it. I don't know if he thought he was in trouble or the wet underwear were uncomfortable, but from then on he became more anxious and stubborn when I asked him if he needed to go. I put him down for a nap (with a diaper) and when he woke up, he'd lost all interest in using the potty and didn't want to put on underwear.

I know he's a sensitive kid and I'm not going to push him. We'll start again tomorrow. I think the more I accept his temperament and tailor this process to him, the more successful he will be. He doesn't respond well to things being done "to" him and I should have remembered that. Maybe that means letting him pee on the floor, then asking him to sit on the potty after the fact. Not ideal, but better than him shutting down.

As a side note, microfiber cloth diaper inserts are great for soaking up accidents!

The biggest success for the day? This evening, we were filling the tub to give C a bath and he was standing on the bath mat throwing in toys. He stopped and said, "pee pee!" A few seconds later, he started to pee all over the bath mat....and I was super excited! He knew he had to go! That's step one!! He'd never said that before. Despite all the pee I cleaned up today, I know that no matter how slowly, we are getting somewhere.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

WW: Let's Get this Potty Started

Pixar underoos and M&Ms can only mean one thing.....

Wish us luck.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Toddle Along Tuesday: Things My Kid Says

Its a well known fact that when toddlers learn to talk, they are hysterical, embarrassing, and sometimes completely frustrating. This week's Toddle Along Tuesday is, "Things My Kid Says." Whether they're cute, funny, or just ridiculous, this is the place for them. In no particular order, here are my most recent favorite Charlie-isms.
  • How he says "banana," adding in extra L sounds and sticking out his tongue. I'm going to be slightly sad when he figures out how to say it correctly.
  • Telling G, "no biting!" while she's nursing. I try to explain that she's not biting, but he insists on trying to protect me.
  • Along the same lines, telling G, "It's okay, it's okay." when she's upset and crying. Melts my heart.
  • "Reading" his favorite book, "Russell the Sheep" with an emphasis on the "What's a sheep to do?!" and "Not tired!" parts.
  • When he wishes to express his disagreement with a request or situation, he simply says, "Nope!" with a cheeky facial expression to match.
  • He adds "Look! A..." in front of everything and shrieks with excitement. "Look! A Mommy!" "Look! A baby!" "Look! A Daddy!"
  • The second we drive into the shopping center where Target is, he immediately begins asking for popcorn or "copcorn" and he says.
All of his little words crack us up. We can't wait for him to start with silly sentences, jokes, and other toddler antics!

What does your kid say that makes you laugh or go aww? Link up with Toddle Along Tuesday over at Growing Up Geeky and share!

Temporary Stay at Home Mom

There is a lot of hullabaloo about whether being a stay at home Mom or being a working Mom is best. Truth be told, I think both have their ups and downs, but the most important thing is to choose the one that works best for you. Granted, not everyone has a choice, but if you do, choosing one over the other because of public opinion and not based on your own thoughts is a recipe for misery.

In our family, I don't have a choice. If J or I needed to stay home, it would need to be J because I carry our benefits and most of our income. Honestly? That's okay with me. I love my family more than life its self, but I also love working and providing for them.

That being said, it has been nice being a temporary stay at home Mom. Though the last six weeks have been a vacation in "newborn land" and comprised of a lot of couch time, the last six weeks of my maternity leave are going to be slightly different. Starting tomorrow, we're pulling C from daycare and I'll have both kids home with me. Why? Being off for this 12 week stretch is a unique opportunity. We won't even entertain the idea of a third kid until C is in kindergarten and even then, when I'm on maternity leave for that kid, C will be at school and not home with me. This really is my only opportunity to stay home with him, even if for just a few weeks. Plus, it'll save us something like $800 in daycare costs, which is a sweet bonus.

And yes, I'm kind of terrified.

I know people do it all the time with varying numbers of kids of varying ages, but I'm still concerned/curious as to how this will go. My biggest concern is that I won't have enough time to entertain him. G is a good napper, but she's also a good eater, leaving me stuck to the couch for a lot of the day. C is a very easy going kid, but he'll also chill and watch TV all. day. long. if I let him. Not exactly the quality time I was striving for. Now, I'm not concerned with having over the top developmental activities or what not everyday, but I want to make sure we play, go outside, and do fun things. Will there be fun days where we get a ton of cool stuff done? Hopefully. Will there be days where we sit in our PJs all day long, munch on dry cereal, and do absolutely nothing? Probably. And that's okay too. Maybe we'll temporarily get involved in a play group? Maybe we'll just entertain ourselves. Who knows.

Also, because I'm certifiably insane, we're going to be starting..........potty training. ::gulp:: Since I'm off until the middle of June and J is off from June until August, it's really a perfect time to do it. I really hope to have C completely potty trained by the time he goes back to school full time in August. I think its an attainable goal, but more experienced parents out there may be laughing at me. Sometime this week, we'll be heading to Target for some underpants and M&Ms because well, no good potty training goes without bribery.

So here's goes nothing. My best attempt at being the stay at home Mom of a toddler and a newborn. I feel like I need a helmet and lots of coffee for this endeavor, but we'll see.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Toddlers Love to Choose!

One thing C seems to have no interest in is getting dressed. Despite our best efforts, he couldn't care less about getting dressed or undressed and we end up changing him as we would an infant - laying down. He will put arms in his sleeves with a little prompting, but most times he would rather do things like sit on the floor whining, "" until we help him take them off.

A suggestion we got to help him become more interested in dressing was to have him pick out his own clothes. Okay, I can get behind that concept. The only problem is that his dresser is tall and I don't want to promote him rifling through the drawers. I fold enough clothes around this house already!

While picking up those flat diapers at IKEA, I found this nifty pocket storage in the kid's section for a whopping $3. It was exactly what I was looking for! Mounted on the back of C's door, we can put weather appropriate outfits in it and let him choose what he wants to wear.

Turns out, he loves choosing! At the moment, we're only putting three outfits (shirts on the top row and coordinating pants on the bottom row), but could easily expand to six choices. The mesh pockets hold the shirts so the image shows. At a toddler friendly height, he can retrieve his chosen outfit and if he does decide to empty the pockets in the middle of the night, its only a few items to put away. Its funny, we've always given him verbal choices, but this was the first time we made it so accessible, which was apparently the key. He's taken much more interest in putting on his chosen outfit and is quickly learning how to put things on and take them off.

With this new found freedom to choose, making multiple colors of cups, types of snacks, and choice of activity available is actually soliciting a reaction from him. He's finally realizing that there are situations in which he can pick things. The trick to this, however, is to make sure he understands he has the power to choose SOME things. Skipping bedtime is not an option, but you can choose the story we read. Dinner is not negotiable, but which vegetable we eat can be.

Its fun watching him develop and express preferences and favorites. So far he has an affinity for the color yellow, shirts that have characters/animals on them, and watching the "Rocket Soup" episode of Little Einsteins.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

IKEA has Diapers?

If you've been to an IKEA, you know they have pretty much everything - even tiny delicious meatballs. Mmmm! Recently, I've spent some a lot of time on diaper swap forums and discovered something interesting; apparently, IKEA has cloth diapers too. Well, not really cloth diapers, but in true IKEA fashion they're just a quick hack away.

All diapers break down to two things - something absorbent and something waterproof. Simple, right? Well, the fun part is getting creative with those two things. Now a days, there are a lot of different materials available to make cloth diapers absorbent - hemp, cotton, microfiber, terry, flannel, bamboo, zorb, etc. in various styles - liners, inserts, boosters, soakers, and so on. Way back when, however, there was pretty much just cotton and pins. Large pieces of cotton fabric, called flats, were folded up in various ways to fit different size kids and absorbency needs. Turns out, these IKEA "burp cloths" make excellent flats! Flats are trim, absorbent, and very customizable. Paired with a waterproof cover they make a great, cheap option for cloth diapering.

Also, they take really, really well to dye. :-D

While visiting my good friend Mary (visit her over here!), we stopped by IKEA for some lunch and shopping. I picked up a few packs of the burp cloths to give this whole flats thing a try. I've really loved using prefolds, so why not!

Sold under the name "vandring," these 27 1/2" x 27 1/2" cotton cloths come in sets of 2 for $3.99. They're sold in the kid and baby section with the sheets and blankets and as with most things at IKEA, it isn't actually labeled to what it is - burp cloth, cloth diaper, or otherwise. I have read, however, that in Germany they are actually labeled as cloth diapers. Kind of neat!

I prepped my flats by sending them through two hot wash cycles with soap and extra rinses with dryer cycles in between. They shrunk as can be expected and got nice and quilty soft. Now, time for the fun. Tie dye!

Do flats need to be tie dyed? Of course not. White ones absorb just as well as colors, but why the heck not do it anyway! I bought a Jacquard tie dye kit from Michael's to do the job. I love the Jacquard kits - the colors are super vivid and the kit comes with everything from rubber gloves to squirt bottles to soda ash. My favorite tie dye technique is the spiral, but there are a ton to choose from!

Now to use them, ya know, the helpful part of this post. Thanks to the wonderful invention that is the internet, there are a ton of picture and video tutorials on how to fold flat diapers. I tried a few folds on G before she was all, "dude, just put and keep a diaper on me please." The "kite fold" seemed to be the easiest and the "tweaked diaper bag fold" seemed to have the best gussets, but I definitely need to get better at the folds in general.

So far these seem as absorbent as my prefolds, which is nice, but until I can get them folded just right I'm afraid they'll be leaky. Flats definitely have a steeper learning curve than prefolds, but that's alright. They dry ridiculously fast in the dryer (I think it took them 15 minutes on medium high heat?) and are super inexpensive. You could even hand wash these puppies if you needed to. Not too shabby. I still think prefolds are my favorite, but its good to have various things in your stash. Especially if they're this cute.