Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cheeky Little Monkey,

SEVEN MONTHS OLD. My goodness, how time flies. You are closer to a year old than you are to a newborn. That takes my breath away. It seems like overnight that you have transformed from a tiny, helpless little bit into the boisterous, adventurous boy that you are now. You've become so active that I can hardly keep up, and all that activity has slimmed your little cheeks down so much that you're starting to look more like a toddler than an infant. STOP THAT! You're breaking your mama's heart!





The biggest news this month is that last Sunday, you cut your first tooth. It hasn't come easy, but it hasn't been overly traumatic either. You mostly want to make sure mommy is close by at all times, and that seems to ease the pain. But you look like such a big boy with that little piece of white flashing in your big ol' smile. It's just too cute!

You're still working hard to become mobile. You've figured out how to get on your hands and knees from a sitting position, and even do a bit of rocking. If I put a toy at of reach, you just belly flop from there and grab it, then flip over as fast as possible. You still hate being on your belly! Your biggest trick has been scooting. You've figured out how to use your feet to push yourself all around the bed, which means we have to keep an extra careful eye on you because you are quick as lightning!

You are doing wonderful with solid food. You have a very adventurous palate, which makes me so happy. So far, you've tried beets, spinach, applesauce, carrots, sweet potatoes, bananas, green beans, mangoes, peas, zucchini, squash, pears, peaches, and the newest addition - pumpkin. You're so/so on green beans (I have to add some rice cereal to get you to eat it, then you do okay) and completely nixed peaches, but you gobble up everything else I throw at you.Your table manners, however, have deteriorated greatly and dinnertime has become quite messy.





I decided early on that I wanted to make your baby food, a decision that was reinforced when your pediatrician recommended we keep you gluten free like mommy until you're old enough to be tested for an intolerance. This last weekend while we were traveling, I found some gluten free pre-made baby food and brought it along. I was afraid you would prefer the smoother texture of the store stuff, but you wouldn't hardly touch it. That made me happy. You eat solids twice a day, at mid-morning (you are a baby who brunches!) and early evening. You mostly still consider it to be an interesting diversion though, and still prefer to nurse most of the time.

We have settled into somewhat of a schedule - not a strict one, and one that wouldn't work for many families, but works perfectly for us. You teased me earlier this month by going to bed early every night for awhile, but lately bedtime has been fluctuating again. You have started sleeping with the little stuffed monkey you got in your Easter basket, and you two look awful cute together.



You are still the happiest baby I've ever seen. You love people, and I frequently catch you chattering and grinning at the people behind us when we stand in line at the grocery store. Total strangers tell me that your smile has brightened their day, which swells my heart with joy. You are a beam of sunshine and you splash rainbows on everyone you meet. Even when you are feeling crummy from cutting a tooth, you still have grins to share. If I could have custom ordered a baby, I couldn't have created a better one myself.


You, little boy, are my sunshine.

To the moon... and back,

Mommy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter came and went three days ago, but we've been all over Texas since then, so I'm just now getting to write about it! We had a wonderful Easter weekend in Anson. Thursday night, we headed up to Horseshoe Bay and had a 'layover' at my parent's lake house. Jonathan and I spent a lovely night sitting out on the patio and watching a massive hill country storm roll in. It was fun to watch from the cover of the patio, and a real blessing - Texas has been needing rain so bad!

We hit the road again early on Friday morning to complete the road trip. We hit Abilene right on time, then headed in to my great aunt Billie's house in Anson. It was so wonderful to see Billie. She's always been like a third grandmother to me, and it's been far too long since I've been able to visit. Being at her house was like coming home for me. I've spent many a night there, visiting her and my Uncle JD - with my parents, then as an escape from dorm life when I was at ACU. As soon as we walked in the door, she spread a quilt down for Larkin, and covered it with toys. We rolled around on the floor with him and had a great time. He was rather relieved to be out of his car seat!

My parents and my Nana joined us shortly. They have been in Dallas for the past three weeks, and were pretty happy to see "their" baby again (Larkin, not me, of course). We just visited all day and into the night. Then Saturday we drove to Stamford for the reunion. It was so good to see the family again. It was hard to be there for the first time without my great uncle JD, but nice to reminisce about the good times. The adults chatted while the kiddos ran wild, then we had a delicious lunch that some of the cousins grilled up for us (steak and potatoes - it's easy to be gluten free in Texas!).

Larkin got to meet his cousin Braden who was born just two weeks after him. I'm sure these two will cause us plenty of worry in the years to come!


 
 


We do a big egg hunt for the kids, and the little ones got a small piece of the action.


Just the cousins age three and younger.
 




Larkin looked adorable in his little Easter outfit, even if it was more casual than a typical Easter get up (and thank goodness it was because it was HOT!).






On Sunday morning, we visited Billie's church. Larkin was extremely restless, so we spent the whole service in the cry room/nursery. It was so nice to visit though, because I love going back to the more traditional, acapella hymns that I grew up with. Larkin finally fell asleep in my arms about five minutes before service was over, and stayed asleep as we walked out of the building, put him in the car seat, drove back to the house, and got him upstairs in bed. He was just all tuckered out - or else that country air got to him!

We ate lunch, then packed up to hit the road. We drove into Abilene (about 20 minutes away) and stopped at a grocery store to grab some snacks for the road. While stopped, I realized Larkin needed his diaper changed, so I went to pull out his diaper bag and realized we had left it at the church cry room in Anson. Sigh. We drove back, went to Billie's, and she tracked down a church key. She unlocked the building for us, Jonathan ran in and grabbed the bag, and we piled back in the car. By that time though, Larkin was ready to eat and needed another diaper change. So we stopped for a change and a nursing session. By the time we hit Abilene again, we had added almost two hours to our trip.

 Luckily, we got out of town just in time as a HUGE storm swept through town. They needed the rain so bad, as many parts of the area had been plagued by wildfires in the previous days, but they didn't really need the softball sized hail and tornadoes. Got to love the insanity of Texas weather!

We made it to Horseshoe Bay for another layover, then back into Houston the following afternoon. It was a rough trip, but so very worth it to see everyone.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Crucifixion Friday

Friday passed in a rush of horror. The darkness and thorns of Gethsemane. The burn of betrayal. The blood mixed with sweat. The rake of the whip. The jeers of Golgotha. The rust of the nails. The splinters of the beam. The bitterness of the wine. The anguish of the end.

The end.

Satan’s Saturday

Surely that Saturday was the darkest day in history. Darker in the mind even than Friday. Perhaps on Friday, they waited. They had seen the dead man walk at his command. They had seen the dead girl smile at her father. Surely, he wasn’t gone. Surely, this wasn’t the end.

But by Saturday, they had to know. He was gone. Their leader was gone, their mission aborted. Satan danced, and they felt the brush of his robes as he twirled in jubilation.

I wonder how many gave up. How many saw the stone rolled, left the tomb, and went home. I wonder how many saw it as the closing of the door – rather than the tearing of the curtain.

I wonder how many gave up without even realize that Sunday was just over the horizon.

Did they hear the news later? Did they doubt like Thomas, or fall supplicant like the women at the tomb? Did they lament their shallow faith?

The blood of Friday.

The darkness of Saturday.

The power of Sunday.

Because without Sunday, the word was dead. The faith was false. But with Sunday – the world was saved.

Resurrection Sunday


Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord! Up from the grave He arose, 
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!

HALLELUJAH! CHRIST AROSE!
 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's been a crazy week. My little monster has been keeping me in knots (see my last post). Besides his new crazy activity level, his sleep schedule that I so proudly bragged on (rookie mistake!) has been left in the dust. He still goes down like an angel at 7 pm - but then wakes up refreshed by 8:30 pm. Sigh. So that and these lovely Houston allergies have left me pretty wiped out.

But I'm so excited about the coming weekend. Despite how religious my family is, I've never in my life been to a Easter Sunday church service. Every year, my maternal family has a massive reunion in Anson (outside of Abilene). Family comes in from all over most of the southern US and we get caught up while some of the guys grill steaks and burgers for everyone. We have a big Easter egg hunt and the kids do battle to get the choicest eggs.

So we're getting all set for our four day weekend. We've got Larkin's Easter outfit ready, I put together his Easter basket today, and we're starting to get packed. Now, the logistics of surviving the road trip from Houston to Anson with a 6 month old who hates the car... well, I'm still bracing myself for that.

His Easter basket - how cute is that? No candy this year (sorry, buddy!) but he got some summer clothes, bubbles, a little tiger toy and a stuffed monkey that makes him giggle every time he sees it.

His new summer clothes!

I'm so excited to go this year because most of my extended family still haven't met Larkin yet. I can't wait to show him off and introduce him to his amazing family. My precious cousin had a little boy just two weeks after Larkin was born, and I can't wait for them (and the multitude of other little kiddos) to grow up together running around like we did.

This year will be hard because it will be the first reunion since my great uncle JD passed on. Since my dad's father passed away when I was about Larkin's age, JD was like a grandfather to me. He was an amazing man and a true hero - both military and just your average, everyday hero. I love and miss him daily, and it'll be hard not to be able to run into his strong arms. He passed away just a short time before Larkin was born, which broke my heart. I knew he wasn't doing well, but I had prayed that he would last until Easter so he could meet the little boy I was carrying.

I'm excited to attend the reunion for the first time as a parent. I see our family in such a different light now.  I am inspired by the memories of the family that has passed on, especially my great grandparents who started the entire clan that will be meeting together this weekend. When I was younger, I was always looking for my legacy. Something that I was good at, something that I could accomplish, something that people would see long after I was gone and remember me. After losing two friends way before their time, I heightened my efforts. I wondered if it would be my writing, my photography? What would make people remember me?

Now I realize how far off I was.

Larkin will never get to meet my great grandparents. He will never play with my Pops, be swung around by JD, or bounce on my granddad's knee. Jonathan's grandfather will never make him laugh. There are so many people that he'll never get to know. He will hear countless stories about these titans that went before him. He will know their names and their deeds. But most likely, his children will not know the details of their lives. They probably will not recognize the names Madie, Toad, and Bruce. Their children will know even less.

But they will know their legacy. They will know the spirit of their ancestors every time Larkin bows his head to pray over them. They will know the seeds that their family has sown so diligently and upon such fertile soil. When they see a healthy marriage, they will see the influence of my great grandparents, who loved so fiercely for so long. When they see the women of their family serving and smiling and the men leading and standing strong - they will know.

I realize now that the point of a legacy isn't to be remembered by name. What you leave behind should be more than a name. Books wither, letters crumble, paintings flake, photos fade. Names are forgotten. The spirit of Christ, the dedication of love and the strength of family - that is what lasts forever.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Every day with my son is a beautiful day. That's not just lip service, either. I mean that down to my depths. His presence is sunshine, his smile is paradise. But...

Some days are long, and some days are hard. Some days are both.

And at the end of the day, I am tired to the bone. I am tired from wrestling 18 lbs of pure energy. 18 lbs of little boy who (even though he can't crawl yet) is convinced that he can run - or even fly. 18 lbs of opinion and temperament and unvoiced insistence that "Mama, I can do it MYSELF!" (and if you think a six month old can't insist something like that, you should see the way he shoves my hands away when I try to hold on to him).

Oh, but what joy!

Joy because that exhaustion means that I have a little boy who is full of energy and activity. Who is already a ball of independence and confidence and self worth. That 18 lbs I wrestle? That's 18 lbs of health and vigor and excitement about the world - HIS world.

Oh, little boy. I can tell you now, it wouldn't surprise this mama one bit if you did learn how to fly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Have you ever taken a photo that, when it turns out to be irreparably blurry, breaks your heart? One that just tears you up because behind the blurriness (and besides the mountain of clean laundry in the background) it so perfectly captures the spirit of the subject and the merriment of the moment, down to a crinkled nose and crescent moon eyes?


Sigh.

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2

Once we made the decision to switch to cloth diapers, it was just a matter of choosing a brand. At $18 a pop (an average price for the type of cloth diapers we wanted), we weren’t going to be able to build up a full supply at once. We were switching to cloth largely for economical reasons – a $500+ investment wasn’t an immediate option.

Luckily, my friend Jana answered my Facebook call and recommended Kawaii diapers. At $6.99 apiece, I could afford to purchase my entire supply at once.  I was a little concerned about the inexpensive price, and was worried that they wouldn’t be of the quality that the more expensive diapers were. I didn’t want diapers that fell apart in the first wash or didn’t absorb properly! But since many of the reviews commented on their excellent customer service, I decided to take the risk.

Then I had to choose the diaper style. Kawaii has several options, but we chose the one size heavy duty pocket diaper with suede cloth inner lining. Here’s my logic behind the choice:

1. These diapers advertise an 8 to 36 lb size range. I wanted a one size diaper that would grow with Larkin through potty training. It just didn’t seem cost effective to have to buy more diapers every time he went up a size.
2. I wanted a pocket diaper. Although stuffing the diapers is a little more effort than an all in one, they are easier to clean and quicker to dry.
3. I chose the heavy duty diaper because of the Velcro closure. I debated for awhile between snap and Velcro closures, but Jonathan settled that one for me. He hands down refused to change any more diapers if I tried to add one more snap to the already insane amount of snaps that keeps baby clothes on.
4. I opted for the suede cloth lining because some reviewers said the suede cloth is less likely to pill than the micro fleece. Also, (and I could be totally off base, but this was just my instinct) it seemed to me that the suede cloth might be cooler against baby’s skin during the steamy Houston summers.
5. I liked all the pretty colors.

The Velcro was a tough choice for me, but I’m really happy we went with it. I feel like we get a more perfect fit than we would with the snaps. The Kawaii snap closure diapers offer side snaps to prevent wing droop, but with a little practice in putting on the diapers, we’ve never had this issue with Velcro. Some people say that older babies can undo the Velcro, but if that’s an issue, it would be for disposables also.

The only downsides to Velcro – 1) If Larkin is wearing a t-shirt or only a diaper, sometimes his Velcro catches on my clothes. 2) If we don’t place the Velcro low enough on the closure strip, the hard edges of the Velcro leaves red marks on his little round belly. That wasn’t hard to adjust to, we just have to make sure the closures are latched at the halfway point or lower.

The only trick with the pocket diapers is to MAKE CERTAIN that the insert and tag are COMPLETELY tucked in. That’s not hard to do, but it’s very important if you want to avoid wet clothes. My habit is, after I put a fresh diaper on Larkin, I do a quick scan of the entire diaper and make sure I don’t see any white of the inner lining. This would probably be easier if he wasn’t such a stinkin’ wiggle worm during diaper changes.

Hmm... what can I get in to over here?

Oh! Toes!


Yay! Clean diaper!
I love, love, love these diapers. For full disclosure, I will admit that I’ve never used any other brand of cloth diaper, so I can’t truly COMPARE them. But I can say that in the almost four months we’ve been cloth diapering, I haven’t had one single leak that couldn’t be explained by user error (ie: leaving part of the insert exposed or laundry issues). NOT A SINGLE LEAK.

That gets even more impressive when I tell you that, unless he poops, I don’t change him at night. Before bedtime, I double stuff (using two inserts) a diaper and put it on him when he gets in his PJs. When he wakes up 10 to 12 hours later, both inserts are soaked, but his cloths and skin are totally dry. In fact, the suede cloth inner lining is even dry to the touch. Let me repeat myself: TEN HOURS, NO LEAKS. He used to soak through his disposables almost every single night. Do you know what a pain it is to change a crib sheet every single day???

Also nice – Larkin has never had a single diaper rash. It could just be that he is not prone to them, but I guarantee that the soft, chemical free, dry to the touch, cloth diapers help. Another selling point is that when babies poop on cloth diapers, the poop tends to stick to the cloth, rather than smearing all over them and spreading around the diaper as it does with disposables. That’s even true when they are exclusively breast fed.

When we initially switched to cloth, I planned to use disposables while we were out of the house. I started forgetting and would throw a cloth diaper on before we’d head out, but I never had any issues with leaks or on-the-go changes. So now we use cloth exclusively, except when we go to church and Larkin will be going to the nursery. One note: if you are out and about and do a diaper change – make sure you remove the liner immediately. It’s easy to flip a wet bag over the pail and dump a soiled diaper and liner out. It’s a lot less pleasant to remove the liner of a diaper that has been sitting for hours.

The one possible downside is that the Kawaiis are pretty bulky. That is true of all cloth diapers, although I have heard tale that some brands are slightly more trim. If we are coming up to Larkin outgrowing a pant size, we usually have to increase sizes a little bit earlier because of the extra cloth bulk. But to me, I LOVE that cute fluffy butt. It’s so adorable!

Width comparison, Kawaii versus Pampers Dry
Bulk comparison, Kawaii versus Pampers Dry
Here are some photos to show the workings of my Kawaiis:



Sizing snaps
Partially stuffed insert

Insert
Pocket
I also wanted to give Kawaii’s customer service a thumbs up. I know they are currently having some issues keeping their supply in stock due to a sudden increase in orders (with a product this good and well priced, word had to get out eventually!). If you are in a hurry, you always have the option to purchase your diapers from an online boutique, but in my opinion, it’s worth waiting until the diaper you want is in stock and ordering directly from Kawaii. When we got into our diapers, I found some diapers that had snap issues.  The sizing snaps on two of the diapers wouldn’t stay well snapped. It wasn’t a huge deal, although it was somewhat inconvenient. I contacted April with Kawaii, and described my issue. She quickly offered a refund for the price of the diapers (minus the inserts, so a $5 refund out of the $6.99 purchase price). This seemed more than reasonable to me, especially since I was well out of the average return day range by the time I got around to e-mailing. Also, I know the snap problem won’t be an issue as soon as he grows into the next size. April offered to suggest other refund options, but since the snaps weren’t a huge problem and I didn’t want to mess with return shipping, I was more than satisfied with her refunding the price directly to me.

To summarize, I could not recommend these diapers more. As Jonathan said so perfectly, “If these diapers are less than half the price of the other diapers, what do the more expensive ones do? Wash themselves?!?”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Continued from yesterday's Part 1. Completed in Part 3.

Here are the basics you’ll need to start cloth diapering (besides those cute diapers!)

1. A method for storing soiled diapers. There are a variety of methods, and I was busy researching my options when my diapers arrived. I hadn’t decided on a system yet, but I was so ready to start using my diapers. I had a standard, 13-gallon, lidded trash can with a foot pedal lifting mechanism out in the garage, so I grabbed that and stuffed a trash bag in it. Surprisingly, that took care of it. I didn’t need to spend a fortune on a fancy system. I am, however, upgrading to a reusable pail liner (I recommend having two so that one can be in the wash and a fresh one in the pail).

2. If you plan to use cloth diapers when you’re out and about, you’ll need a system for storing them. You’ll want to buy a waterproof, zippered wet bag. Target sells one, or you can find a ton of options in cute prints on the internet.

3. A good, cloth diaper friendly, laundry detergent (I’ll address that in a bit), and a laundry system.

That’s all you actually need, although I will go ahead and recommend cloth wipes. Yes, I know – here’s where it sounds like I’ve dropped off the eww cliff. But trust me, it’s a million times easier to throw the wipes and the diapers in the same pail once they’re dirty. And otherwise, you’ll be pulling bits of paper wipes from your diaper’s Velcro tabs after you do laundry because you are guaranteed to accidentally throw at least one wipe in with every cycle. You can use either small wash cloths or bits of soft flannel for the wipes, and keep a spray bottle of wipe solution nearby.

GETTING STARTED:

Thanks to Jana and Laura (my cloth diapering mentors), I knew the diapers would need a few laundry cycles before they reached maximum absorbency. I ran the diapers through three wash/dry cycles, and then stuffed each diaper with a single insert. I laid Larkin down, and played with the sizing snaps until I figured out the perfect fit for him. It may sound obvious, but make sure you do this with the insert in. I sized him without it, and snapped about half of my stash before I thought to check the fitting WITH the insert. Yeah, I had to go back and change them from the smallest to the medium setting.

MAINTAINING:

I will admit that cloth diapers involve a bit of maintenance. However, it’s only a hassle in the beginning, when you are working out the kinks through trial and error. This is especially true with the laundry factor, but once you figure out what works best for your schedule, your washing machine, and your water situation (especially the hard water we have here in Texas) – it’s honestly (at least in my opinion!) way less of a hassle than always needing to run to the store for another box of diapers.

LAUNDRY:

Cloth diapers have to be laundered in a specific way in order to maintain absorbency. I won’t go into the million and one methods of laundering cloth diapers, although I will share my routine (which is significantly less complicated than many I’ve seen described).

Once a diaper is used, we pull out the insert, and toss it and the diaper in the pail. I do diaper laundry about every two or three days. This may seem like a lot, but not to most moms out there. I was doing baby laundry every other day anyway; the diapers just create a single extra load for me.

I had done my research, and chosen a detergent that was suitable for cloth diapers and available in my local grocery store. I chose Arm and Hammer Essentials, and used it happily for almost a month. Then my diapers started leaking, and nothing helped. I was ready to give up cloth diapering, when Laura encouraged me to give in and buy the detergent her and Jana had recommended in the first place, Rockin’ Green. Best purchase ever. Seriously. Turns out that the super hard water we have here in Texas can cause a lot of detergent build up. RG was designed by a cloth diapering mom here in Texas, specifically for cloth diapers (although you can use it for all your laundry, of course!) It’s made our laundry routine a breeze, plus it smells AWESOME. And it’s all natural, so you don’t have to worry about it irritating baby’s sensitive skin. Plus, it’s always nice to support a family business like that!

To launder our diapers, we do a quick cycle on cold without detergent, just to wash away the ickies. Now that Larkin has started solids, we use flushable diaper liners to flush away any solid waste before we toss the diapers in the pail (this is rapidly becoming unnecessary as his body adjusts to the solid foods. We’re pretty much at the stage where any solid waste can just be plopped into the toilet). Then I do another cycle with hot water and 2 tbsp of Rockin’ Green, and follow it with a cold rinse. Because I do large loads at a time, I use the highest water level setting. Then I throw it all in the dryer on medium. THAT’S IT. THAT’S HOW COMPLICATED IT IS.

Once they are out of the dryer, Jonathan usually stuffs the inserts. He actually enjoys timing himself, and trying to beat his previous time. He has done our entire set of 30 diapers in about 12 minutes, without much effort. Then we have a stock of diapers ready at the need.

About once every two months, I “rock a soak”. That’s Rockin’ Green’s term for a deep clean process. I just do our usual wash cycle, then once the washer is full on the detergent cycle, I pause the machine and let the diapers soak for about 30 to 60 minutes. This just keeps away any residual buildup, and keeps everything at the ultimate absorbency.

Okay… that covers it. The “scariest” part of cloth diapers – revealed! Not so scary, is it? Tomorrow (hopefully) I will post a review of our Kawaii diapers and the details of the specific diapers we chose. If you have any cloth diapering questions or concerns, ask me in the comments and I will do my best to address them!

As an aside, I wanted to let everyone know that I have not been compensated in any way by any of the companies I have or will be talking about on these entries. They simply produce a product that has worked well for me, and I believe in passing on the goodness to other like-minded parents! (However, if you happen to be a representative of any of these companies and would like to send me samples, I would not be opposed to accepting them because you guys rock!)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Warning: This was intended to be a single entry, but I've gotten a little carried away and am apparently writing a cloth diaper exposé. If you have no interest in cloth diapers, you will want to avoid this blog for a few days. If, however, you are interested, or if you think I've lost my mind to be using cloth diapers and want to explore my madness, stay tuned for more posts over the next few days.

Check out Part 2 and Part 3

When I was pregnant, I had a few people ask me if I was going to use cloth diapers. I gave a hands down, unequivocal “NO WAY”. To me, the only people who used cloth diapers were crazy environmentalists and… well… that’s it. I couldn’t understand why, with all the varieties of disposables, anyone would choose cloth.

And then Larkin was born.

We were given almost a thousand dollars worth of diapers at our baby showers. We had some trial and error with brand and fit, and ended up only liking Pampers Swaddlers – the most expensive regular disposable. Larkin wasn’t a tiny baby, but he was long and skinny, and wore newborn sized diapers for quite awhile. Most people do not gift newborn sized diapers, because many babies don’t wear them for long – or at all. So even with a e of gifted diapers in the garage, we quickly found ourselves making frequent runs to buy more newborn diapers.

I was astounded at how much diapers cost. You look at a box of Pampers, and it doesn’t seem like an insane amount. But then you have a baby and realize how. much. they. poop. It’s insane. We were going through diapers like water. Every two days, the Diaper Genie would be full, and every few days the diaper box would be empty.

We experimented with more cost effective diapers, and were left with a mess. Larkin was fussy about his diaper situation. He’d start pitching a fit mid-pee, wanting a clean diaper, and would tug and fuss at the rough plastic of the cheaper brands. The kid did not appreciate that in order to keep his mommy at home all day while his daddy was in the process of starting his own business meant we all had to cut costs. Finally I started doing some cloth diaper research.

Right away, I found a calculator that allowed you to enter in exact numbers to compare the cost of your disposables versus the cost of your specific choice of cloth diaper. It let you enter associated costs for both diapering options (Diaper Genie refills, laundry detergent, water and energy use for laundering). We figured that by using the cloth diapers we ended up selecting (more on those later), we could save approximately $2000 over Larkin’s diapering life (from three months old – when we began CDing until an approximated age of potty training). TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. And that doesn’t include the fact that a single set of diapers can be used for future children, and even re-sold once they’ve outlived their usefulness for our family.

I was completely sold, but was worried about Jonathan. Being the primary diaper changer in the family (yes, I’m a lucky girl), I wanted to make sure he was 100% on board. We discussed the ins and outs of the purchase and the laundering. We worried over the logistics of keeping soiled diapers in our tiny apartment between washes. We contemplated the time commitment. Then I told him the cost savings – DONE. He handed me a credit card and demanded I go buy the cloth diapers.

First, though, came hours of research.

I was pretty overwhelmed at the variety of cloth diaper options. There are pre-folds, all in ones, and pocket diapers. Then you get into the sized or one size selection. Then choose between micro fleece or bamboo and suede cloth or micro fiber and snap or velcro and on and on and on. I had no idea which was best, and the internet offered lots of advice but little help. Some cloth diapering moms tend to get a little rabid over their choices and I ended up with a major headache.

I finally decided I wanted a one size diaper. These diapers come with snap sizing, which allows you to size them as your baby grows. Most of these can take a baby from newborn through potty training with one set of diapers, which seemed a way more economical choice. I also decided on a pocket diaper. These diapers have a small pocket in the back where you can stuff an insert. You can choose the insert material and thickness (or even ‘double stuff’ for extra leak protection) for customizable protection.

Now I just needed to choose a brand. I was shocked at how EXPENSIVE these diapers can be. Even though the long term cost would still come out lower than using disposables, it was too steep of an initial investment for us. An average diaper could cost upwards of $18 apiece. I figured we’d have to build up our supply slowly, probably alternating between cloth and disposables for awhile.

Luckily, I put some feelers out on Facebook, and my friend Jana responded recommending Kawaii diapers. They were pocket diapers, and only cost $7 apiece (Kawaii diapers each come with two inserts – many diapers, the insert costs extra). After a few positive reviews, I was sold. I bought a full supply of 30 diapers, paid tax and had them shipped to my door for under $200.

I’ll be writing a more extensive review of my Kawaiis soon, but I’ll say for now that we fell in love with them. They were honestly as easy to use as disposables.

During my research, I found some statistics that backed up my economical reasons to choose cloth. First and foremost, I was surprised to discover how many nasty chemicals are in disposable diapers. When changing Larkin’s diapers, I’d sometimes find these weird gel clumps on his little tush. The diaper company’s website assured everyone this is common and nothing to cause concern. That gel? Yeah, that’s a chemical that has been banned throughout most of the world. It was even banned in the US as an ingredient for tampon because it causes toxic shock syndrome. Eek. Add the amounts of bleach, chlorine, dye, and fragrance that are added to disposable diapers, and I started feeling twitchy about constantly exposing my son to them.

Then you have the environment. I confess that I’m no green nut, but I do make an effort to do my part for the environment. I knew diapers were an environmental hazard, but I didn’t realize how major the problem was. From the New Parent’s Guide:

It is estimated that roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and a total of 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually. It takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone.  Although some disposables are said to be biodegradable; in order for these diapers to decompose, they must be exposed to air (oxygen) and sun.  Since this is highly unlikely, it can take several hundred years for the decomposition of disposables to take place, with some of the plastic material never decomposing.

Oh, and for all those people that think it’s yucky to use cloth diapers because you have to deal with poop? Did you know that LEGALLY you are supposed to dispose of all solid waste from disposables in the toilet before throwing them away? Yup, it even says it on the side of the diaper boxes.

Also a very important benefit? They're really, really, seriously adorable.
 The diapers arrived, and I was PUMPED. However, I was still figuring out the logistics...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I hate to jinx myself, but I think my baby has sleep trained himself. Yeah, he's just that cool.

When Larkin was born, I heard chants of "Put him on a schedule!". Then I was lectured not to put a breastfed baby on an eating schedule (especially at first) because breast milk was digested so easily, plus it's impossible to tell exactly how much they actually consume. The scheduling concept quickly went by the wayside. Jonathan and I don't follow any semblance of a schedule, so it seemed silly to try to enforce one on Larkin (and thereby, ourselves).

We adapted to watching for his signals - chewing his fingers and rooting when he was hungry, rubbing his eyes and pulling his ear when he was sleepy - and accommodated his needs. It's just what has worked for us. If I were working outside of the home, or if either of us preferred to go to bed early, or if we had older kiddos, we might have needed to work out a more precise schedule. But as it is, Larkin had a approximate schedule of his own - up around 9 am, down for a nap around two hours later, a few small naps through the afternoon and a longer nap in the early evening (no matter what I did, I couldn't get him to cut out that late nap). Then he'd be ready to party until 10:30 or 11 pm.

Yes, that's LATE. But it wasn't a huge problem for us, since we're such night owls. But it was hard to get anything done or any time to relax, since we went to bed shortly after he did.

Then, about three weeks ago, he started taking his longer nap earlier in the afternoon. Bed time was pushed up to 10, then 9. Then last night - 8.

And - the holy grail of parenthood - the kid slept through the night.

Seriously. From 8 pm to 8 am. He woke up once at midnight for a quick snack, then went right back to sleep. I got in bed then, and slept for EIGHT UNINTERRUPTED HOURS. I haven't done that since my second trimester. And it. was. AMAZING.

And tonight? Tonight, Larkin was asleep by 7:00. He stirred a few times over the next couple of hours, but since he was in our bed, I just crawled next to him and comforted him right back to sleep. I kept waiting for him to wake up and decide he'd had a nice nap and could play all night, but it's midnight now and he's still sound asleep.

This may not last, but I'm sure going to enjoy it while it does.

Man, my kid is AWESOME!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Recently, I had a wonderfully long phone chat with a very dear friend. Rebecca and I met when I was 13. My family had relocated to Brisbane, Australia, and I was pretty much a total fish out of water (even more than most adolescents!). When we moved, I left behind the house we’d lived in since I was three, and all of the friends I had grown up with. I felt pretty traumatized.

But I have to say that Australia itself was no hardship. It’s an absolutely beautiful country, with the most amazing people. We made some amazing friends there, people that I still miss all the time even 13 years later. Becca and I were inseparable. We sat next to each other in class as often as possible, made up our own language (mostly just code names for the boys we had crushes on), passed notes, and did all the other things thirteen year old girls should do. My family adored her, and we made her an honorary member of the family and swayed her with offers of yummy American food.


I haven’t seen Becca since our last visit to Australia, and we had mostly lost touch in recent years. We reconnected through Facebook and our blogs, and have enjoyed catching back up. While we got many beautiful gifts when Larkin was born, Becca’s handmade raincloud quilt and Australian alphabet book were easily among my favorites.

I would have ironed it, but it just gets used too much!
I was amazed when I received the quilt in the mail. I’ve always been a storm lover, especially when we were in Australia (no tornados there!). While I was on bed rest, Houston went through some particularly rainy months. I used to lie in bed, and long for rainy days spent cuddling with the little one and dream about afternoons spent splashing in puddles and exploring a muddy world. Getting that gift reminded me that some friends, no matter how long you’ve been separated, always know you better than anyone else. She couldn’t have made a more perfect quilt if I’d picked the pattern myself!

Catching up with Becca reminded me how insanely blessed I am with my friends. I have managed to keep up with friends from my earliest childhood, throughout my school years and youth group time, and into my college days. I hold on to these friends tightly, loving them even when we are only able to keep up through Facebook. I feel so blessed to have inside jokes that still crack us up five, ten, even twenty years down the road. 

Speaking of inside jokes...
Saturday, I have a lunch date with some of my sorority sisters to celebrate one of my dearest friend’s birthday. These girls are my lifeline. We’ve been together through midterms and exams and late night cramming sessions. Several of us pledged together, then lived through the nightmare that is rush week every year. We’ve held each other’s hands through new boyfriends and when those boyfriends become exes. We have walked down aisles and thrown baby showers. They love on my son and look at me like I’m some crazy new specimen when I tell my mommy stories.




Today, I had a play date with a new friend I made in Ladies Bible Class at church. Her son Grayson is only a week older than Larkin and I love getting together with her. She’s such a sweetheart, plus it’s so nice to get together with someone who is in the exact same baby boat as you. We never have to apologize when our little ones get fussy or just generally act like… well, babies.



I don’t make friends easily. I’m pretty awkward and a little shy. When I first meet people, I tend to be a little aloof. I don’t trust easy or let down my guard. But every now and then, when I click with someone, I consider them family almost immediately.

I have friends who have kept me amused, and friends who have kept me alive. I even have a few who have done both – on a regular basis.

Not naming any names.
I do not wish for popularity for my son. Popularity is a contest, one whose prize can disappear in a moment. But one of my most fervent prayers for him is that he finds friends as true, as loyal, and as amazing as the ones I’ve found.