Hopeful Thoughts

First Shipment out of State!!!

Nearly two years ago, I headed up to NC for a 10 year reunion with my college buddies from the Meredith College Class of 2000. Hard to believe this is what I looked like back then! (I’m on the right).

G and H meet for the first time.

Yesterday I took these cuties down to the post office to send along to little H in Florida.

A couple of adorable pockets!

Better Late than Never: Tribute to Fellow Crafters

Almost a year ago, I took a bunch of pictures to post on my blog. A sweet lady in my church launched a quest to get the other crafty ladies to band together to create matching handmade gifts for Grayson. She found an adorable fabric collection called “Chirp.” I received SO many cute things, and we have gotten so much use out of everything over the past year. So, here they are for all to enjoy.

The inspiration for all my diaper crafting. Two wet bags, two diaper pail liners, and a cute little water proof changing pad. All crafted by G's Aunt Bee.

Unique circle blanket crocheted by my dear friend Bethany. This size and shape was PERFECT for the stroller and the car seat. Not to mention keeping little guy warm for naps without having too much bulk around his face.

Quilt, pillows, and coaster made by Colleen (special mention to Megan who designed the owl on the little pillow). There was a lot of "tummy" time spent on the quilt, and the pillow and coaster were indispensable for nursing.

Hand-hemmed receiving blanket made by G's Grandma on his Daddy's side. Extra large size made this a perfect swaddling blanket.

Great Granny Gwen did the needlework on this cute little quilt. This got some tummy time, too!

OMG! Cutest diaper bag EVER!!!! Keri is amazing! Came with a burp cloth and extra bag to tuck inside.

Super cozy crochet afghan crafted and sent by my high school BF. G loved the weight of this all winter long, and still loves to cuddle with it! I'm so excited I get to return the favor and craft for her expected little one!!!!

Miss Lori made this colorful, useful little knapsack. It's served as diaper bag for air travel, and overnight bag to Grandma's. I expect G to get lots of use out of this over the years.

The satin lined receiving blankets are a family tradition. My Granny made them, and then my mother, and now my sister and I both make them as well. Here are the two that G's Ma (my mom) made for him. Jungle animals and Little Boy Blue.

Last, but not least, the beautiful work of Miss Vicki, the brains behind the whole craft crusade. Reversible bibs, a grab ball (oh my! What a lot of pieces to stitch together!) and a sheet for the pack n play (not pictured).

I am so blessed to have friends and family who would spend their precious time to create gifts with their own two hands rather than quickly buy something. LIfe is hectic, and spare time is sparse. These are gifts crafted with love, and I love the givers. Thank you all.

A Year in Review

Come Friday morning when I wake up, the little guy that snuggles next to me each night will be a full blown one-year-old. As I consider how quickly the time has flown, I’m also blessed to reflect on what has transpired in the last year of our lives.

July 29, 2010 at 5:40 in the morning, after nearly 24 hours at Inanna, Grayson emerged into our lives with my little sister and my best friend standing by. In the days and weeks that followed, we were showered with love from visitors. We hosted my entire immediate family…(Mom, Dad, sister, 2 nieces, nephew), with the exception of my brother in law, but including my parents dog. Ryan’s sweet mother was waiting patiently in her car, already in town, for the moment’s notice to come and see her new grandson. To top it off, several families in our amazing little church brought us meals.

We settled into a little routine and in September, I started my little tutoring business. This kept me busy four afternoons a week, but it was a great way to be home with Grayson. Thanks to Hawley, Gus, Allison, Joey, Kaycee, Nathan, Emily, and Kim for helping make that possible by watching my little guy. The business is flourishing and I love being able to work with the kids in this way.

Ryan has continued to enjoy his job as a game programmer, though his official title is “Senior Software Engineer”. He started in September of 2009 at Bonfire Studios (while I was in Argentina). In October of 2010, Bonfire was bought out by Zynga, providing more stability to his position.

Just before Grayson was born, we closed on our house. We’ve experienced lots of ups and downs during Grayson’s lifetime, though we are so glad to be in a house with the little guy around. In September, we were able to put our home buyers’ credit to work and pay for a complete replacement of our HVAC. Then, we turned around and spent whatever rebate we got from that overhaul on a brand new water heater when the old one exploded in December. The joys of an old house! Our AC unit was 35 years old, the furnace dated almost as old as the house, and the water heater was over 20 years old. Recently we’ve had the roof patched from wind damage, and replaced a belt on the tenant’s dryer. I think we need the kitchen drains worked on next.

We have been able to get some work done improving the house in addition to all the repairs. Grayson’s room got a fresh coat of Viking blue paint, thanks to the help of his Grandma, and it’s looking better and better as we add to it. This spring, we hired a crew to do a major overhaul on the yard. Trees were trimmed and brush was cleared and the result is impressive. Next on the list is an exterior paint job, scheduled to take place in the next few weeks, and landscaping with new sod in the fall.

The house is such a blessing. We’ve hosted two baby showers here this year, as the size and layout of our living and kitchen areas works great for big crowds. We still have great tenants in the apartment, who plan to stay for awhile. Not to mention the amazing neighbors in the houses on either side.

And speaking of babies, in Grayson’s first year, we’ve welcomed 3 new babies into our church, two new babies into the neighborhood (one right next door), and are anticipating 5 more over the next 8 months in our little church. Add to that my high school BFF, and we are just bursting with excitement over the babies!

In March, we were finally able to trade in my old car for something more safe and appropriate for mommy stuff. Goodbye rusty white 1999 Camry, hello shiny graphite grey 2011 Outback.

We live pretty far from my side of the family, but thanks to Ryan’s great job and my tutoring income, they haven’t seemed so far away this first year of parenthood. We traveled to my parents’ house for Christmas, I was able to visit my sister in MI over spring break, my mom came for a two-week visit in April, and G and I were able to meet my sister and her kids in NC in June. We’ve been blessed with 3 or 4 visits from Grandma (she’s a great babysitter) and made a couple of road trips to see her in Austin as well.

In December, our dear friends, the Rambows, returned form their stint in Argentina. We were blessed to have them back in our lives for 6 months before they left earlier this month for New Jersey. Emily kept Grayson some for me during tutoring and we are so grateful that he was able to play with their little girl.

I could go on and on about the things that have happened over the last year, but it would take forever. Of course, it would have been easier if I’d blogged all along than to try to cram it into one post anyway! Suffice it to say that it’s been an eventful time, but we are grateful for all we’ve been blessed with.

It's a Busy Life We Lead

The days pass quickly with our current routine of waking up, eating breakfast, running errands, napping, lunch, napping, time with friends, my tutoring business, and more napping. The naps are short, so the mommy time is pretty limited. Before you know it, four months has passed in between blog posts.

Grayson is growing like a weed. In just a little over a week, he will turn a year old. I simply cannot believe how fast the time has passed. It seems like yesterday that we left the birthing center, yet it feels like he’s been a part of our lives for years. He has won our hearts forever.

He’s growing up way too fast.

Never Assume You've got Any Part of Parenting Figured Out: Sleep Revisited

I’m going to have to be more careful when I offer advice on my blog. Kids live to make liars out of us. Especially mine! He refuses to follow any kind of regular pattern, and don’t ever expect him to fit the profile of any book you read.

Most recently, we’ve faced problems with sleep YET AGAIN, just a matter of weeks after I posted my sleep solutions tips. Grayson figured out how to get out of his swaddle wrap and refused to sleep without his arms tucked inside it. This posed quite a problem. His source of sleep security was gone, so what were we to do? We had to find him another way to feel secure.

Our solution has been for him to move into the bed with me, and for my husband to sleep on the fold out in the living room. Obviously my husband and I would prefer to be sleeping together, but this arrangement is allowing all three of us to get the sleep we need. Grayson feels secure, I’m not losing even more sleep by waking up completely to walk down the hall every time G wakes up to nurse, and my husband is not worried he’s going to roll on top of a baby…or that his wife is going to go crazy from sleep deprivation! It’s actually working out great for all of us.

G is sleeping so well, that I suggested to my husband that we might be ready to move him back to the crib. He responded that we should just keep the status quo for a bit longer, since we were all getting the rest we needed. Quite honestly, I’m not ready to change things yet, either. I actually kind of like to snuggle with my fuzzy headed little buddy! I also love knowing where he is and that he’s OK.

One day, this will not be practical. Whether it’s back to the crib or to a toddler bed, he’s going to have to have his own sleep space. But, for now, we’re happy and rested.

Yet again, I will say that you have to do what works for YOUR family. What we’re doing is not what’s best for everybody, but it’s what is best FOR US.

Some Thoughts for Today

It’s beautiful out today. I’m so glad I was texted by a dear friend this morning to go for a walk to our town square where we had lunch outdoors at a local Mexican restaurant. Grayson loves walks, and he loves his stroller.

After returning home, there were a couple of happenings worth noting.

I have officially ordered G’s new car seat. We’ve had a love-hate relationship with his infant carrier. The convenience of leaving him in the car seat while he’s sleeping has been a plus, but it’s gotten SO HEAVY that G’s little 5 foot tall Mommy simply can’t take it any more! We settled on the Britax Marathon 70 in Onyx. Should be here before the end of the week!

I also ordered a new Baby K’tan carrier. I LOVE my old one, but the more I use it, the more I realize the sizing is wrong. So, I posted the Small one on Craigslist last night for $40. (They run $55-$65 new).

Just as I was ready to take G next door to the sitter for tutoring, I realized he had pooped! So, I was finally able to try out my newly installed diaper sprayer. It works GREAT! I am going to have to get a little help adjusting the connection between the hose and the spray wand, as I ended up with a puddle in the floor. Otherwise, it is the PERFECT tool for the job. It was so easy to use and it cleaned all the solids out of the diaper without splashing into my face or the floor.

Lessons learned...cloth and solid foods

About three weeks ago we started Grayson on purees. I knew that we would see a change in his diapers, but I didn’t realize how quickly that change would happen. We fed him mere teaspoons of banana for a few days, and all of a sudden, the diapers were chunky!

I’m not giving up, but I have changed my mind about a couple of things related to cloth diapering.

The Diaper “Pail”

Any old garbage can will NOT do when you are cloth diapering. Something with a good seal is a must. After a bit of shopping after my husband complained several times about the stink in G’s room, I have decided that the diaper pail people know what they are doing. I chose a model that clearly states on the box that it works with any bag.

I am a little miffed that the pails don’t hold nearly as many diapers as my step garbage can. I’m still looking for an option for stashing soiled diapers between washes to avoid stinking up the world so I don’t have to wash every time my pail gets full.

The Diaper Sprayer

I thought this was a gimmick. Absolutely NOT! BUY ONE!!! This is a way better option than dunk and swish in the toilet. Early solid diapers are really sticky, and I have trouble getting it to come off in the toilet. The water pressure from a sprayer helps so much.

Fighting the Battle For Sleep

If you’ve seen any of my Facebook status updates in the last three months, you are well aware that sleep has been a big issue in our home recently. Things got so bad that I was literally being woken up by the baby more that once per hour during the night, which made it impossible to get enough sleep. I was cranky, my husband was cranky, and really, the baby was too. Neither of us is a fan of letting our baby cry alone in his crib, but I was so exhausted that I didn’t think there was another way out. I felt helpless.

As my husband and I have worked to remedy the situation, we learned that we’ve been doing a lot of things wrong from the beginning. Our lives would have been a lot different if we’d made some different choices about sleep from the start. I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned in the last six months in hopes of saving new moms and moms to be form the same frustration.

First of all, EVERYONE has their opinions about babies and sleep. You’re going to get advice from every extreme and in between possible. The best thing to do is listen to what people have to say, do some research on your own, and then make choices that are right for your family.

Tip #1: Read up on sleep ahead of time

There are some great books out there, and knowledge is the best tool. If we had read more before G was born, then we would have been able to prevent a lot of the problems we’ve had.

Tip #2: Swaddle your baby

We started out doing this with great success and then I stopped for no good reason. G sleeps so much better when he’s cozy and swaddled. Now, I swaddle him every time he sleeps, even at 6 months old.

Tip #3: Decide where your baby is going to sleep and stick to it.

We decided that Grayson was going to sleep in his play yard and then transition to his crib. In a perfect world, he would sleep in the bed with us, but my husband is a very hard sleeper that moves a lot. That said, we felt it would be safest for the baby if he didn’t sleep with us. Take a look at these photos and see if you can identify a problem.

We allowed G to sleep in a zillion other places during the day as opposed to encouraging the behavior we wanted. I think what hurt his sleep patterns the most was allowing him to sleep with me for three weeks while at my parents’. Please let me make it clear that I am not opposed to co-sleeping. However, you can’t expect your baby to sleep in his own bed if he gets used to sleeping with you.

Tip #4: Don’t trust your baby to sleep when he needs to.

I was convinced that my baby was a cat-napper who wouldn’t nap more than 30 minutes at a time. Then I read in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child that this simply isn’t true. Babies will give you clues to when they are tired, but parents have to take the initiative to put them down for naps.

Once I started paying attention to G’s cues, I realized a pattern in his sleepy times. He takes at least three naps a day, and every one is at least an hour. I am sure to swaddle him and put him in his crib if at all possible. He never sleeps as long if he’s out if his crib.

Tip #5: You are not helpless!

“Crying it out” was as highly recommended to me as it was opposed. Fact is, it works. Problem is, it’s traumatic for both the baby and the parents and we just weren’t OK with that. (No offense to those who’ve used it. As I said before, every family has to do what’s right for them.) What we wound up doing was gradually working up to getting G to fall asleep in his bed on his own, and limiting the times I would feed him if he woke up.

We don’t have a perfectly sleeping baby yet, but we are well on our way. I can now lay my swaddled son down in his crib, stroke his hair, and, quite often, he’ll fall asleep on his own.

Cloth Diapers 101

Updated 3/26/2011 when I learned about shaking your pocket diapers and Econobum covers

As soon as people find out that you are using cloth diapers, they have one of two reactions. Either they think you’re nuts, or they think it’s amazing and they start asking you more questions about what kinds to use. If you are one of those who thinks I’m crazy, you can go back and read my post from earlier in the year on why I chose to use them. If you are one of those with questions, read on, my friend!

There are three basic types of cloth diapers on the market. I’m going to try to address all three and give my experience with each and tell what I think are the pros and cons. I’ll also try to recommend brands that I like, but keep in mind that there are a LOT of cloth diapers on the market. The best way to find out what you like is to try a few and see what works best for you and your family. I recommend visiting the following sites as you research options: Green Mountain Diapers, Cotton Babies, Jillian’s Drawers, and GroVia. The sites are full of great information, but are also great places to do your shopping.

Type 1: Covers and Pre-folds

Newborn Prorap cover with Unbleached Indian cotton prefold in infant size.

These are the new and improved version of the traditional cloth diapers that our parents used and the first type I was exposed to. My sister started off cloth diapering her second child using Cloth-eez prefold diapers and Bummi’s super snap covers she ordered from Green Mountain Diapers. I started Grayson off in tiny newborn Indian cotton prefolds and ProRap covers with velcro that were purchased from the Little Lions web site. Back in the old days, you had a giant piece of cotton that you folded up to fit your baby, pinned with those GIANT safety pins, and then covered with plastic pants. These days, it’s so much easier. The cotton comes pre-folded and stitched into various sizes to fit your baby. Also, pins aren’t needed. You can use Snappi fasteners or simply fasten a water proof cover over the prefold. The Snappis are a great option because they give a better fit to your baby which helps to contain messes.

I liked the ProRap covers for a couple of reasons. They fit the tiny baby and held in the messes really well. The newborn size scoops down in the front to allow the belly button to stay dry. I also like the ease of the velcro closures, though snaps are an option in some sizes. In addition, they seem to be one of the cheapest covers out there! Bummis also come with velcro, but my sister chose the snaps. Lots of people prefer the snaps because it’s harder for the baby to remove his own diaper than with velcro. However, I don’t think you get as good of a fit, and the solution to diaper removal is to put a onesie or pants on your baby. Simple!

A tiny Grayson in a ProRap diaper cover.

When Grayson got a little bigger, I switched to Thirsties Duo Wrap covers and larger prefolds. The Duo Wraps come in two sizes, both are adjustable. I like that the two sizes give a better fit as your baby grows. (Thirsties also sells sized diapers that don’t adjust.) There are lots of “One size” cover options out there, but some complain that they tend to be too big on a little baby and too small on a big one. It’s a matter of preference and budget as you decided whether to replace your covers for each size or choose “One Size” diapers.

This is a Size One in the Thisties Duo Wrap. This size fit Grayson until he was about 5 months old. At almost 6 months, the Size Two is a better fit..

Recently, I became aware of Econobum diapers, made by Cotton Babies (they also make Bum Genius). These diapers are amazingly affordable. They are one-size covers that run less than $10 a piece. Depending on which package you choose, you can stock your diaper collection with 2 dozen prefolds and 6-8 covers for right around $100! These diapers have a great fit and come in 4 color options. The covers aren’t designed to last through multiple children, but the prefolds are some of the nicest I’ve seen.

There is also the option of wool “soakers” to use over the prefolds. Wool naturally deodorizes and is very absorbent. It also allows the skin to breathe, and doesn’t make a baby hot like you might expect. I haven’t personally used wool covers, but I made a few for my my sister who loved them on her baby in the summer time when she dressed him in nothing but a diaper and a t-shirt. (See the post on this knitting project.) She moved away from the in the winter because his pants were getting damp. Wool covers are very expensive to buy, but REALLY cheap to make if you are a knitter.

Covers and prefolds are a good choice for many because this is by far the cheapest option (even if you get new sizes when your baby grows) and one that provides a good fit for babies because prefolds are chosen to fit to the size of your child. There are also several “hybrid” options that allow you to use reusable covers with disposable inserts. A friend of mine has had a great experience with GroVia diapers. I think I would like to try these myself, but I’ve already invested in other types!

For the time being, I have moved away from covers and prefolds because babies tend to feel wetness more, and this didn’t work for us. Grayson hated being wet and I was changing his diaper every 30 minutes! We may return to it when Grayson is ready for potty training, but, for now we’ve chosen to go another route.

Type 2: Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers provide a barrier between the baby and the absorbent layer. This has been a GREAT solution for my baby who hates being wet. The absorbent later fits inside a pocket created by the waterproof shell and a liner of a breathable layer like fleece. Usually the absorbent layer has to be removed before washing, which can be pretty yucky. However, I recently learned from another blog that you can grab the diaper by the closed end and simply shake out the lining into the diaper pail!

This shot is just to give an idea of how pocket diapers function.

We started with small sizeFuzziBuns, which are great. I know several people who have loved these diapers and they come in sizes as well as “one size” options. Ours were used previously and tended to leak because liquid beaded up on the liner. This is a common problem if you use diaper creams on your baby and most diaper companies advise against this. In fact, it voids the warranty if you use diaper creams. A product like RLR can help with this problem in most cases, but these particular diapers were just too old, so I had to order new ones. However, the design of the Fuzzi Buns diapers makes them function well as covers over prefolds, and I used them that way for awhile.

Grayson in small Fuzzi Bunz at two months old. He weighed about 14 pounds. Snaps are on almost the tightest setting, so he still had room to grow into these.

After lots of online research and praises from friends, I decided to go with Bum Genius one size pocket diapers with velcro closures. Most of my stash is version 3.0, but I added a dozen of version 4.0 when they went on sale. The new version is a bit more roomy, but essentially the same. We also wound up with a few Thirsties Duo pocket diapers and one lone Happy Heinys pocket diaper (the result of a doting grandma who found one with cute little bears on it!). The BumGenius have become my favorites, but Thirsties are easier to wash because the pockets are designed to allow the liners to agitate out in the wash so you don’t have to remove them before washing.

Grayson in a BumGenius 3.0 pocket diaper, one size.

Positives for pockets diapers are the barrier to wetness, middle price range , quick to wash and dry, and easy to put on (no pins or Snappis needed).

Negatives are expense, tendency to leak over time requiring “stripping”, and the need to stuff the liners in after each wash.

Type 3: All in Ones

These diapers are ready to go with a moisture barrier without stuffing, but there is no liner to remove. They are the easiest to use. They work pretty much like disposables except you have to wash them. The only con is the price, but it’s big enough that if savings is your reason for choosing cloth, this is probably not your diaper type. It’s also difficult to find a one size option in this type, so you have to restock your diapers every time you need a new size.

How many diapers do you need?

This really depends on how often you want to wash diapers and what kind you choose. I think 2 dozen is ideal to wash no more than every other day. If you choose covers and prefolds, this means you need 2 dozen prefolds, but probably only 6 covers since you can reuse a cover several times. If you choose pockets or AIOs, you need a full 24 diapers in the current size.

I’m still confused. How do I decide?

Several companies offer a diaper trial package for amazing prices. You can try all different kinds and send back what you don’t like for almost a full refund. A great one that I know of isJillian’s Drawers. Green Mountain diapers offers a great outline of what to start with.

Also, all the websites that I have referenced are LOADED with great information about how to choose, use, and care for your cloth diapers. Spend time reading as much as you can before you make your decision and you won’t be disappointed.

I do recommend that you use a newborn sized diaper option to begin with, no matter what type of diaper you choose. One size diapers tend to be too big for tiny newborns. Many avid cloth diapering folks will even use disposables until their babies are big enough to wear their one size diapers.

Also, invest in a diaper sprayer for cleaning solids out of the diapers before you wash. I don’t care what your budget is, these will make your life SOOOOO much easier when you start your baby on solids!!

Happy cloth diapering!

Adjusting to life as parents takes time!

Which is why it’s been another 6 weeks since I last posted! Grayson is 12 weeks old today! As I write this, he is hanging out in his baby gym, swatting at the hanging rattles, wriggling around enough to rotate his position relative to the square he’s resting on, and “talking” up a storm! So many changes in such a short amount of time. I can’t believe how quickly it’s flying by!

LIfe with a baby is amazing, but challenging. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but there are times when I feel torn between loving on my little man, the house work that needs to get done, and the things that I would like to do. SInce I run a tutoring business out of my home, I really do HAVE to keep things picked up since it would be unprofessional not to. The laundry must get done so we have clean diapers and clothes that don’t reek of spit up. I’d love to just sit and snuggle with my little man all day long, but I find myself looking for every opportunity to put him down so I can get the housework done.

Thank God that we are blessed with a pretty happy baby. Of course he has his cranky times of day when he needs a nap, but, for the most part, he’s easy going. As he gets older, he is able to entertain himself for a bit longer and I am able to get things done in less time, giving me more time to hang out with him! I’m also finding time to do some of the things I want to do…like getting back into crochet and knitting just in time to get the Christmas presents made!

I have a long list of blog topics that I hope to get around to in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here are some pictures of my little man from the weeks since I last posted.

Grandma got lots of smiles when she came to visit at 7 weeks.

A 7 week old Grayson enjoying his bath.

This is how an 8 week old hangs out at the coffee shop.

A shot taken on the day he turned 2 months old.

This is how Grayson listens to the sermon. It's OK for a 9 week old, but we'll expect better in a year or so!

This is one sleepy 9 week old boy!

We LOVE our ducky towel! Thanks Miss Lynette!

I think this is my favorite photo so far. He is SOOO cute! He's 10 weeks here.

I was amazed at how long he let these stay on his face. I actually took them off before he ever complained because they are just too big!

The "Magic" stroller that Grandma gave us. It's magic because he'll almost always go to sleep!

Just before the eyes close for a nap. So sweet!

Grayson's first time in the high chair. Almost 12 weeks. This is now one of his favorite places to be!

This is how Grayson watched volleyball. I can't believe he fell asleep with all that noise!

First time in the Bumbo seat. I think this will be a new favorite!