Thursday, November 17, 2016

I Am Back!

After an odd couple of months, I am back to the blogging world. Due to some unfortunately missed emails, I lost the domain I previously had, so my address is slightly different, but everything else will remain the same!

So how about a brief update?

Birth - 1 Year
Little Hippie, my youngest, turned 1 in August and wow, was it emotional for me! In the months after his birth I experienced birth trauma, hid that for a few months, and then began the journey of healing from Postpartum Anxiety and Depression with the help of medication. Not at all the postpartum journey I would have envisioned, but its my reality! I am now doing fantastic and my mood disorder is very much managed. While I am in no way proud of it, I am conscious of the fact that so many women need me to be a voice for this disorder - to name it and say it will not win.

Little Hippie is still breastfeeding (very proud of that!) and will continue to as long as he desires. We are also OF COURSE still using cloth diapers. I am constantly posting about them still, so check out my Facebook page where I post frequently. LH is also still on #teamnosleep and would prefer to be on the boob all night, but we are working on gently transitioning him. He spends a few hours per evening as well as all naps in a separate room.

In addition to cloth and breastfeeding, my other obsessions currently include Tula baby carriers (we bought our first this year!), grow with me maxaloons, and constantly scrolling through BST/auction pages or Goodwill for a great deal.

Wild One, my oldest, is almost 4! *sad face* He is growing up entirely too fast. This year we started him on a home-based preschool program called HIPPY (of course I love the name) which provides a home-based-educator who visits us once a week to give me the lessons as well as all supplies. I teach him his daily lessons. This has been a great way to start homeschool and do some trial and error. He is loving his school and I think its been great to have him at home doing tiny lessons and spending the rest of his day in free play.

The holidays are coming up and it is my goal this year to throw myself full force into making sure we give, give, give to others this season. Entitlement and disregard for one's luxuries like toys are issues I can see Wild One struggling with, so I want to ensure that during this time of birthday and Christmas, he is able to give with joy instead of only receiving with greed. I plan to use a kindness Elf, my own spin on the Elf on the Shelf and other ideas I've gathered from Pinterest, to spark some fun in each day, as well as encourage my boys to do some kind acts for others. It is my intention to post frequently about what our Elf, named Legolas, helps us get into!

So lets interact - what is something you want me to write about? Cloth, breastfeeding, essential oils, parenting, young/teen parenting, my favorite TV shows (lol), Jesus and why I love it!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Wrapping Up the Flats Challenge - I Survived!

All I can say is, thank the LORD for my washing machine! I have gained such an appreciation for the luxuries I have and my modern cloth diapers. Actually using flats and covers was not difficult or terrible at all. They were actually super duper absorbent and dried quickly. However, the washing was a chore I am not sad to see disappear from my line up.

To unpack my final thoughts a little bit, I am really impressed with how well the bucket and plunger works. It got my diapers fantastically clean and white. They smelled fresh and there were limited stains. If I was ever in a situation where I needed to hand wash, the bucket and plunger would be my go-to. I was also very impressed with Foca, which I bought specifically for this challenge since it is not formulated for my HE machine.

The ease of the prewash was appealing to me as well. I considered how much water I might save doing my prewash in the bucket instead of using the washing machine. I can certainly see it saving us some money in the long run.

However, the number one drawback to the challenge was that I just didn't have the time to spend plunging diapers in my bathroom while my young kids were running around the house. I have a 3 year old and an 8 month old. The 8 month old would constantly crawl into my bathroom, which is obviously not ok because he could get into the toilet or trash if not closely supervised, so I had to constantly redirect him. This is not a ideal especially if I had my gloves on and was touching the dirty diapers and then had to quickly strip the gloves and grab a baby.

Another drawback was that I just don't have enough space to hang the diapers if I don't wash every day. My drying rack has limited space and when I tried using clothes hangers over the shower rod, those diapers did not dry and I had to transfer them to the rack once the first batch was dried. I am accustomed to hang drying my covers, but those dry fast inside or out. I couldn't set my diapers outside some days due to rain, so drying inside took ages.

I also missed my beloved GroVia stash, especially my overnight ONE's. We rejoiced when we put on our first ONE on the last night of the challenge.

I love you, washing machine! I will never take you for granted again!

I do want to say, though, that while I am being quite candid with you here about how much I appreciate my washer, I think the bucket and plunger is a great option for those who are in a financial situation to necessitate it. It makes cloth diapering possible when otherwise families might not be able to provide hygienic diapers for their baby. For that, I am incredibly grateful for Kim Rosas and the Dirty Diaper Laundry Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Shining a light on ways to handwash effectively is a fabulous mission and I'm honored to have been apart of it. I will most likely be participating next year and I foresee that it will be much easier since I will have some experience under my belt!

My final takeaway is that I will be using fleece liners full time now! I had previously been using Viva paper towels and was not happy with the fuzzies they left on my baby's booty or the fact that they often ripped. Fleece kept him dry and was easy to dunk and swish.

For a final look at the challenge and a participant survey, head over to Challenge Day 7.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Flats Challenge Wash Routine

Hi, this is Bethany, and today I am bringing you probably the most sought-after post of the challenge. We will be conquering the wash routine! I have seriously been handwashing every day this week and while it is different, it hasn't been too bad! This is just how I personally did it. So without further adieu...

Like I mentioned on Day 2 when I discussed what I bought for the challenge, I am using a camp washer, or bucket and plunger, to do my handwashing. I started by having my husband drill a hole in the lid so I could fit the plunger handle through. He is such a good sport with all of my crazy projects!

I recommend doing 1 day of diapers at a time if you are using a 5 gallon bucket. Any more and they will not fit or agitate well. This may mean you wash every day or do 2 loads ever other day. I have one 8 month old baby in diapers, so plan according to your child(ren).

Remember that all poop should be plopped in the toilet prior to washing. My baby eats solids, so we dump poop off of the fleece liner and then if necessary, I dunk the liner into the toilet to get all poop off and then wash my hands. It's just will not die. I have never handwashed EBF (exclusively breastfed) poop diapers, however, I imagine it would be easier to wash EBF if it had been rinsed prior. 

Step One: Cold Rinse (no detergent)
Fill bucket 3/4 full with cold water, place lid on the bucket, and plunge 50 times. Wait 5 minutes. Plunge 50 more times. Dump water. This water will be really discolored, like urine, and will really let you know you are getting tons of gross-ness out before your detergent gets to work!

Step Two: First Hot Wash (with detergent)
In the empty bucket (I dumped the diapers into the bathtub) I added 2 TBSP of Foca detergent and 1 TBSP of Borax (for softening my hard water). Add about an inch of water and swish around until the powders dissolve. Then add diapers and fill to 3/4 full. Replace lid. 

I have read many statements that 1 TBSP of detergent is enough, but I used 2 and did not have excessive suds or need excessive rinsing, so I was fine using 2. You can play around with this as long as your diapers are getting clean. 

Plunge 50 times. Wait at least 10 minutes. Plunge 50 more times. Dump water. 

Soaking really is amazing! You can walk away after those first 50 plunges and let it soak while you make dinner, tend to kids, or whatever. Just make sure the water is kept securely away from children who don't need to stick their hands in the water or worse, fall in. 

Step Three: Second Hot Wash (with detergent)
Basically repeat step two! Add detergent, swish to dissolve, add diapers, fill to 3/4. Plunge 50 times. Wait 10 minutes. Plunge 50 more times. Dump water.

Step Four: Cold Rinse (no detergent)
I have always briefly rinsed by hand just to get a little extra detergent out and then filled the bucket to 3/4. Plunge 50 times. Wait 5 minutes. Plunge 50 times.

At this point check the diapers to see if they are slimy or sudsy. If they are, you may want to rinse by hand under the faucet. If not, just begin wringing them out. You can either dump the water out before or after you wring the diapers.

To wring, squeeze out all the water by balling up the diaper first. Then, wring by twisting small segments of the diaper at a time. As much water as you can wring out manually will speed up the drying process. Remember, no electric dryer!

Step Five: Hang Dry
You can use either a clothes line, drying rack (like I have here), towel rods in the bathroom, hangers over the towel rod, or any method you like to get things dry! As you can see, I barely had room for the days diapers on my rack. I also have a microfiber insert on the front there. I did not cheat and use it on the challenge! It was from the evening before the challenge but I did not have time to wash it before Monday so I stuck to the rules and hand washed it as well. It took forever to dry, so I'm glad I wasn't using that type of insert for the challenge.

I finished my routine right about 9 PM and left the diapers to dry inside. The next morning when I checked them, the FSTs and fleece liners were dry, but the wipes were still damp. The cover was damp as well. It rained that day so I left them inside for the entire day.

On Wednesday of the challenge, I washed in the morning instead of evening and got to dry them outside for the afternoon. The FSTs and fleece dried within a few hours but the wipes were still damp for a while. I accidentally left the wipes and cover outside all night (oops!) and the next morning they were still damp, possibly from dew.

See, not too difficult! I talked a lot with every step, so it may seem lengthy at first glance, but it really doesn't take more than 1.5 hours if you do every step back to back without waiting too long during the soaks.

To check out others' wash routines, head over to today's Day Four Link Up at Dirty Diaper Laundry.
And as usual, to review the rules of the challenge, check out the sign up.

Does this sound like something you would do? Why or why not?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Flats Challenge - Day 3 - Myths of Cloth Diapering

Hi, I'm Bethany and today is Day 3 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Today's blog linkup  is open topic, so I decided to discuss some of the misconceptions about cloth that make people think they can't use it.

The number one myth I hear is that they take a lot of time to wash. I hear moms say, "Well if I was a stay at home mom, maybe I could do that." However, cloth is just two, maybe three extra loads of laundry per week at my house. To make it even easier, I throw baby and kid clothing into the main wash with my cloth, which I would have to wash anyway, so there is really only the prewash to call an 'extra' load. I have discussed our wash routine at the end of this post and I think it is very easy. You can use tons of different brands of laundry detergent, too, so I don't think you will be put-out by washing cloth!

Number two is that cloth makes your house stink. This has never been true for me for a number of reasons - we wash our diapers a few times a week, so they do not sit around and accumulate smell. We also use a wetbag with an overlapping opening on top which allows airflow without being truly open. Some people use a pail liner inside a laundry basket made with holes, which gives optimum airflow. It is important for cloth to get air in order to stop the moisture from growing mildew or mold. It also eliminates some of the stink. Another helpful tip is to rinse out any overnight diapers and let them dry before throwing them in the pail. I find that the overnight pee diapers will smell just about the worst, and rinsing totally stops that.

Another myth is that you can't use cloth when you are out. I'm sure you don't want to go into a restaurant and smell like a dirty diaper. That's why I love zippered wet bags! These travel sized bags can hold several diapers and the zipper totally seals in the smell. If you are using pockets or all-in-one style diapers, wrap up the cover like you would a disposable and use the snaps to keep all messes locked in!
He knows he is cute!
One of the most ridiculous misconceptions I've heard is that cloth delays development or causes physical problems. This is simply untrue! Consider that until the 70s, cloth was all people used, and we don't have millions of people from the previous generation with physical delays or infant hip problems. My son has been 99% cloth diapered since birth and is quite a large guy. He has consistently met every physical milestone and now at 8 months is cruising along furniture and standing up without holding on.

The final myth I want to tackle is one I believed for a short time - that cloth isn't much better for the environment or your budget because it uses so much water. Some people on the internet (so you know, total experts. *sarcasm font*) have introduced the idea that the water used to grow cotton crops for cloth production and the water you use on a weekly basis for washing is actually doing harm to the environment. I want to ask though, are these people not wearing cotton clothes that they then wash? Do they not use cotton sheets, towels, covered furniture? These are much more prominent than cloth in the typical home. Cloth diapers can also be used for many children and then when they have worn out their usefulness (when they get holes, for example) they can be used as cleaning rags. Simply sanitize the diapers and then throw them in your tool box or garage for a dirty job. Disposable diapers also exhaust resources when they are produced and then instead of being reused indefinitely, they are promptly thrown into the trash and hauled to a landfill where they may take hundreds of years to decompose. I don't see how this is a good argument at all. As far as personal finances, we have not seen our water bill go up any more than when we were not using cloth. We still had to wash children's clothing and we still had to wash poop or pee soiled clothing because kids have accidents - actually a lot more blow outs happen in disposables than in cloth because cloth has back gussets (elastic around the baby's waist in the back - I know we have all seen a little baby with liquidy poop up their back.)

So, I hope you have seen that cloth is really not a hassle. It is actually quite convenient, and I personally enjoy the thousands of dollars saved per child that I get to use on other things.

Did I miss any misconceptions that you can dispel?

To review the rules of the challenge, check out Flats Challenge rules and sign up.
For today's link up, head over to Dirty Diaper Laundry for Day 3 - Open Topic.

Also don't miss Day One - Why I Joined the Challenge and Day Two - What Am I Using? What Does It Cost? here on That Hippie Friend blog. ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Flats Challenge - What Am I Using? What Does It Cost?

Hi again, I'm Bethany and I am continuing the 6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. Today I will be sharing my #StashShot and breaking down exactly how much I spent on everything. Yesterday I shared my motivation for joining the challenge.

In the cloth diapering community, parents often call their cloth diapers their "stash" and are very proud to show it off. There have been hashtag movements like #StashShotSunday where we line up all of our pretties, take a photo, and post it to private cloth diapering Facebook pages. It's super fun to see what types of diapers other parents are using.

For the challenge, I chose to use Flour Sack Towels (henceforth called FSTs) from Walmart as my exclusive absorbency. I purchased 20 FSTs the week before the challenge and paid $7.88 for each pack of 10. That is less than $1 per FST, which is awesome in my book. There was also the option of buying a pack of 5 for $4.34 or 1 FST for $0.97. I already had 10 FSTs which were a part of my regular line up, prior to the challenge.

I will also be using covers, which are a waterproof outer layer with no absorbency. I have chosen to use mostly my Flip covers because they are easy to wipe out between changes. These covers will be rotated throughout the day since it is very easy to wipe off any pee residue which may have touched it and let it air dry between changes. The exception to this will be Saturday when I am hosting a booth for GroVia at a local birth fair, so I will be using my GroVia covers.

My accessories will include fleece liners made from a fleece throw blanket I got from Walmart for $1.88 and cut up. Fleece liners will make it easy to dump poop into the toilet, making washing so much easier! They are also a stay-dry barrier which wicks moisture away from baby's bottom, keeping him happier.

I will also be using homemade flannel wipes sprayed with tap water, a large wet bag to store the diapers in, and a metal drying rack.

Old photo featuring some of my regular (non challenge compliant) stash

To wash, I decided to go with a camp washer, which is comprised of a 5 gallon bucket and plunger. The plunger provides agitation. I will go into full detail on my wash routine later this week! On a cloth diaper washing site I frequent, there has been a lot of talk about Foca detergent being a top pick, but it is not safe for HE machines so I never tried it until now. It is crazy cheap. I also have tested my water and it is hard, so I will be adding Borax to each load.

Stash Cost Breakdown

  • 30 FSTs - $23.64
  • 4 Covers - $14.95 each - $59.80 (However, I bought 2 of mine from a local Buy/Sell/Trade for about half price and another one brand new on a Cotton Babies sale for about 10% off. For the purpose of showing what they would cost new, though, we will say $14.95.)
  • 40 Fleece Liners - $1.88
  • 25 Flannel Wipes - $2.00
  • Spray Bottle - $1.00
  • Pail Liner - $15.25

Camp Washer Cost Breakdown

  • 5 gallon Bucket with Lid - $2.98
  • Plunger - $2.98 

Detergent Cost Breakdown

  • Foca powder (4.4lb bag)  - $3.59
  • Borax (76 oz box) - $4.17 (Optional, for Hard Water)

Total: $117.29

Remember, this is only the start-up cost. You will be able to re-use everything except the detergent and optional water softener (Borax) for the entirety of your 3 year (or more) diapering journey. You could purchase these things a little at a time every month of your pregnancy to break up the cost.

I really hope this helped. Please chat with me about any aspect of cloth! I am happy and excited to talk about cloth day and night.

For the full rules of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, visit Dirty Diaper Laundry - Flats Challenge

I am linking up with Dirty Diaper Laundry for Day Two so head over there to check out other families stashes!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Flats and Handwashing Challenge

Hi, I'm Bethany and I will be taking the 6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. This is my first time doing the challenge and my 8 month old son, affectionately called Little Hippie, will be participating with me!

We began using cloth diapers with him when he was 9 days old, however I fell in love with them before he was even born. I spent countless hours on the computer reading blogs like DDL to learn the ins and outs of using cloth in modern times with modern materials and machines. This week though, I'm taking it old school!

Flats are definitely a part of our normal cloth line up, but not exactly like the challenge! I decided just a few days before the challenge to jump in with both feet and participate in order to encourage lower-income families that there is a better option than disposables when you are on a very tight budget.

One box of about 100 of the lower-cost disposable diapers costs $20. If your baby is using the typical 8-10 diapers a day, this will only last 2 weeks at the most. $40 per month for diapers is just a lot of money to be throwing away, am I right? Higher-cost or Eco-friendly brands will be upwards of $60 per month. That's nearly $500 a year, or $1500 over a three year period (the time it took my oldest child to potty train). YIKES! I am sad to say he used disposables because I knew nothing about cloth when I became a mom at 19 years old.

The unfortunate truth is that there is a diaper need in the United States. Babies in every state are going much longer than they should in a disposable diaper, or parents are even reusing disposables. This is unsanitary and uncomfortable to the babies, resulting oftentimes in infection and subsequent doctor visits and time off work. We want to eliminate all of that heartache and headache!! I understand that parents do what they have to to survive and make ends meet. This blog series is so far from judgmental, actually I say all of this with all the love in my heart! I want to see you succeed and to have happy, healthy, hygienic babies.

It is possible to use cloth if you DON'T have a washing machine. It is possible to use cloth if you CAN'T spend $20 on a name brand All-in-One diaper. It is possible to use cloth if you WON'T buy a box of Tide or equally pricey and less effective "cloth specific" detergent.

I am going to pledge that for 1 week, from May 16-22, 2016, I will use ONLY flats and covers on my baby and I will NOT use a washing machine or dryer for the cloth. Pinky promise! No cheating, not even for trips out or special events!

For the official rules and Sign-Up page head over to Dirty Diaper Laundry - Flats Challenge.

For Day One's link-up and a personal story written by one of the participants, check out Day One.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

5 Must-Have Cloth Diaper Accessories

What an amazing time to be using cloth diapers! There are dozens of companies dedicated to making modern cloth diapering as easy and fun as possible. And yes, I said fun. I personally find cloth diapering to be a hobby and I don't view diapering my child as a chore. I thought I would pass on a few of my favorite tips and accessories for making cloth diapering simple.

This is like a giant chapstick for your baby's bum! Chock full of organic goodness, this will create a barrier as well as clear up minor irritation. Just twist up the tube and avoid messy fingers. It also comes in an Itty Bitty magic stick for throwing in the diaper bag.

A liner can keep poop off of your diapers and make clean up easy! Once your baby transitions to eating solid food you will need to remove the poop from the diaper fully before throwing it in the washer. Exclusively breastfed babies' poop can be washed without removing poop first because it is water soluble. GroVia and other companies sell disposable (not flushable) liners, but an alternative is Viva paper towels. Specifically the package labelled "like cloth." We have used the paper towels exclusively since Little Hippie started solid food. Dump poop in the toilet and throw the paper towel or liner in the trash. Liners are also awesome if your baby is using a cream that is not cloth safe, such as Desitin or A&D. 

Wet Bag
In our nursery, we have a GroVia Perfect Pail hanging on the back of the closet door. This pail is awesome because it has an overlapping opening on the top to stuff dirty diapers in. The overlapping opening allows necessary airflow without permitting stink. It also has a zip off bottom so you can open it over your washer and let all the diapers easily fall out. I have a clothing bar over my top loading washer, so I simply hang the pail over the washer, unzip, and let gravity do the work for me. Those diapers can be heavy after 2 days so this is nice. 

You will also want a small wet bag to put in your diaper bag when you go out. I prefer the zippered wetbags with a handle. The handle is great for slipping over a door knob, or with the button feature you can secure them over a stroller handle. 

This is an enzyme stain and odor remover. It is ideal for removing poop from diapers. Often when Little Hippie poops on his GroVia soaker and I have forgotten the liner (it happens more often than I like to admit!) I will get all of it off that I can with toilet paper and then spray Bac Out on it before popping it in the pail. This way it inhibits bacterial growth. I will also spray this on some of my dirty diapers before they go into the washer. 

Drying Rack
I have absolutely loved having a metal, folding clothes drying rack to dry my covers or sun my soakers on. I don't ever put my covers (or shells as GroVia calls them) in the dryer. When I have stains on the soakers, I also prefer to lay them on top of the drying rack and stick it out in the sun. The UV rays will 'bleach' (in color only, it will not sanitize) the stain right out. 

I hope these cloth diaper accessories helped you feel more confident adopting cloth diapers as your go-to. Cloth is part of our 'normal' and I absolutely love the benefits it provides (money saving, Earth preserving, and cute baby booty). As always, please ask me any questions. The best way to contact me is through my Facebook page That Hippie Friend.

Check out my wash routine here!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Celebrating Easter with Little Kids

How do you tell a three year old that Jesus died the Friday before Easter? How do you tell him that this word we don't say (kill) is what people did to our Jesus? If Jesus is a bigger hero than Batman, and hears our prayers, and protects us from the dark, then how and why did He die? How do you explain that He came to earth as a living sacrifice, that we mourn on Good Friday, and rejoice that He is risen on Resurrection Sunday?

The Jesus Storybook Bible - photo taken from our own copy
I'm really not sure there is a good way to do this. I'm honestly struggling with it all. That part of Jesus Storybook Bible where they say 'kill' and 'die' so many times makes my stomach turn. I don't want my little boy repeating those words because he doesn't have discretion yet. He has very little understanding of the enormity of their meaning.

Parenting is hard. This is far from a 5 step how-to blog post. I'm doing the best I can with what I have. There are so many huge issues to hit home in parenting and in our Christian faith, and balancing these against our kids' maturity levels is really tricky.

We will dye eggs this year, for the first time with kids, and I will give my children a small basket of goodies as usual, but the Easter Bunny is not perceived as real in this house. We are intentional about wrapping every day with Jesus, not just holidays. I could do so much better than I am - I think all moms feel that way - but we are seeing the fruit of our deeds when R sings "Grace wins every time!" or when he looks to the sky and says "God, you is my hewo (hero)."

Our simple Easter basket - the candy is more for my husband's enjoyment than R's
Last year we gave R a no-candy Easter Basket full of toys and treats that he absolutely loved. I tried this year to find more Christ-centered gifts, which proved very hard. There are very few items, besides books, in mainstream stores geared towards the Resurrection aspect of Easter. I found some cross and lamb shaped cookie cutters at Walmart, but thought...when would I really use those? Probably after I use the train-shaped cookie cutters I got a few years ago that are still in the package. So that's a flop.

There were these fat Jesus plastic Easter eggs. NOT. The best item I found in my online search was this promising DVD set from Veggie Tales, A Very Veggie Easter Collection, which I will definitely keep in mind for next year.

I settled on these books from Walmart that the boys can share. I love the "What Is..." books as a way to validate the fun aspects of secular holiday traditions while pointing kids (and adults) back to the real reason we celebrate. "What Is Christmas" has been a favorite around here for a few years. This kids Easter story was colorful and engaging for kids, while also being true to the Bible. 

I also included Annie's chocolate and vanilla bunny-shaped cookies, a box of chalk (which we go through like crazy!), a small pack of peeps, and 1 chocolate bunny. The candy will probably be enjoyed by my husband more than anyone else. (I may have also bought some Starburst jelly beans for him...and me.) 

So, tell me, how do you celebrate Easter with intention? How to you point your kids continually to the cross when they can barely understand?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Catching Up - What Have I Been Up To!?

Hi, long time no see! I realize I haven't posted in a while, but so much has been going on. It really is my desire to keep up with the blog and interact with you, so I will try to do better.

What Have I Been Up To?

GroVia Advocate Program - I have mentioned on the blog that I am now a GroVia cloth diaper Advocate. This is an official 'job' with GroVia, but it doesn't really pay. I'm a volunteer with a mission to reach my community (and YOU) with the message of modern cloth diapering. As an Advocate, I purchased a kit with one of every type of cloth diaper sold by GroVia with the purpose of showing interested caregivers how to use them all. In exchange for watching my presentation, I can refer new customers to the GroVia website with my code and they can receive discounts. I receive points for my referrals, which may result in material prizes, but for the most part I do this with the goal of growing the cloth community and educating those who aren't sure what cloth diapering looks like nowadays or how easy it is! 

Skin Allergies - We are no strangers to sensitive skin around here, but we noticed a few months ago that baby N was breaking out all over his back and belly so we decided to eliminate all fragrance from his laundry and saw enormous improvement. This meant rewashing all of his clothes and diapers in free and clear detergent as well as revamping our old wash routine. I am now using Tide Free and Clear, and since I have hard water, I am adding a water softener (Borax) to the load. This detergent is by far the most effective of the free and clear cleaners we have tried. All (brand name) free and clear liquid is NOT recommended for cloth diapers because it contains sodium cocoate, which coats fibers and can cause repelling in absorbent material. All free and clear powder is cloth safe, but Walmart only carries it in small boxes, which we were going through very quickly. 

Three Years Old - My oldest son, R, has turned 3 and with that has come a whole new set of discipline issues. He's been on the wild side for most of his life, but now his little mouth is much smarter. Pray for me. ;) I am thrilled to say that he is loving church and we are encouraging that at every turn, trying to point him to Jesus in every way. We are also starting a preschool program on the iPad - ABC! 

Velcro Baby - My youngest son, N, is almost 7 months old, and has always been close to me. He is ok if I leave him home alone with Dad or in the church nursery, but if I am home and he doesn't have me, his world is shattered. He will open that little mouth and just holler until I pick him up. It can be pretty difficult to type on the blog with a baby in my arms (he likes to help!) so that is one major reason why I have been MIA. 

Healthy Eating - I've been on a mission to reduce sugar, increase vegetables, eliminate dairy for myself, increase gut health, and enjoy real food more! Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset tea is now how I start my morning (both diary creamer and coffee were not treating me well). Here is a picture of one of my shopping hauls that I couldn't resist photographing. 

Anxiety Medication - After over 4 years of being off anxiety medication, I decided to go back on them. This time I am taking a new drug, and in the short time I have been on it, have loved it! I absolutely believe that God can heal us from our health problems, but I also believe that he equips talented doctors and scientists with the skills to care for serious mental health problems like Anxiety Disorder. I know my family will all be better off with a Mom who is less stressed and is more willing to venture out and take risks again. I want to dissipate the stigma that you 'aren't a good Mom if...' (you take medication, go to therapy, admit you are struggling, etc.) This deserves a whole post, but I need to include it here too.

Feminine Fashion Challenge - On a fun note, over the last few years I have been on a journey of developing a personal style that was true to me, while also conveying adulthood (instead of possibly having me mistaken for a teenager still!) I have found great encouragement from Caroline at The Modest Mom Blog and through her private Facebook page Modesty for the Modern Mom. This month she issued a feminine fashion challenge to the readers and I have tried to follow along every day. This challenges me to get dressed and present myself better than pj's ever could. 99% of the time I am wearing skirts these days. That is just what I am most comfortable in. I can get on the floor and play with my kids without my backside showing in jeans and I have stayed cool in the summer without wear shorts. This is something you will likely notice about me, and it may strike you as different, but that's ok! 

Thanks for reading my catch- up post! I apologize for being absent for so long and I absolutely want to try harder to be present on the blog. It is just so difficult when managing children with very different needs from each other, a household, and personal issues. I applaud some of my favorite bloggers with more children than I have who are able to juggle it all and hope to take a page from their book. Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday later this week! 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Get to Know Me With 5 Simple Words

Today I am once again linking up with #FridayFive in a 'get to know you' post. I am a very multi-faceted person, so selecting only five adjectives was the challenge! Hopefully we can connect a little as you read and view some pictures of me over the past few years.

As I've stated in my About Me (top of the page!), Jesus is the most important part of me. I find my strength, refuge, and healing in Him. I know God has created me uniquely and I can either use my gifts to glorify Him, or by Him I can refine the not-so-good parts of my character that have developed over 22 years in this messy world.

Roman and me on my old college campus
  1. Passionate - This was the first adjective to cross my mind and it fits me to a T. I do not ever 'half-ass' anything I do and when I decide I like something, I am consumed by it. I am passionate about my relationship with my kids. My two boys are the most important aspect of my life and have defined a huge part of my personality - attachment parenting. I am very passionate about letting my babies nurse whenever they want, sleep whenever they need and wherever is comfortable for that stage of life, being in tune with their body language and cues, and treating them like important human beings worthy of respect. I can get worked up about cloth diapering, babywearing, breastfeeding, and the hundreds of uses for coconut oil as well.

    Roman and me on the college campus again. The mascot is the Bear.
  2. Inquisitive - I love learning and researching on many subjects. What started in school as a quality that helped me excel in AP classes and get scholarships has turned into endless Pinterest boards and Google searches for new skills. Topics like healthy eating and cooking, recycling and composting, parenting, those addicting cloth diapers, homemaking skills, and the deeper topics like religion all spark my interest on a regular basis. I spent my entire pregnancy with N researching cloth diapers every night after R went to bed. I made a new break through almost daily and began to feel more and more confident. By the time we had a tiny little bottom to diaper, I was pretty sure of the whole thing and excited to get started.

  3. Dramatic - Hey, I can be honest on this one. I have always been and probably will always be dramatic. Queen of the eye roll. Every little thing is a catastrophe, I get overwhelmed easily, and I will probably never forget any way I've been done wrong. I'm not going to try to make a positive spin on this. It is what it is. I'll fill in my bold eyebrows and crank Adele any ole day.
    We took this to capture a particularly crazy shopping trip - we made it out alive! 
  4. Introverted - I've taken the Meyers Briggs personality test multiple times and always get INFJ (introverted, intuition, feeling, judging). Small groups of friends are just about all I can manage. Large crowds and especially events where I don't know anyone are close to torture for me. My anxiety takes over and I absolutely cannot deal. Outwardly, I may be bringing a fierce RBF, but inside I'm pretty much making sure I can see all the exits while simultaneously talking myself down from bolting. I recharge by being totally alone and listening to music. After a long day with the kids, I really need to pass them off to Dad and retreat to the bedroom. I often take a long, hot shower while listening to The Civil Wars Pandora Radio station and just let my thoughts go to myself. Not whose mouth needs fed or what subtle cues either of them are putting off or any of the incessant anxieties that flash across my brain by the minute. I just think selfish thoughts. Don't take it personally if you don't see me for weeks at a time. I like to be within my comfort zone. The internet helps me stay connected with friends on a regular basis.
    This is what I really look like on a daily basis. At home, crazy hair, no make up, and a baby strapped to my chest.
  5. Loving - This may not always exude from me, but I have a very tender heart. My kids are my number one(s) and being a mother has only increased my bleeding heart for babies. I can't stand thinking about all of the suffering children across the world are enduring - from outright abuse and neglect, to poverty, to bullying, to abandonment. I will congratulate you loudly on any pregnancy and will be your prayer warrior through it all. Where will this lead me one day? I'm not sure, but I've certainly thought about adoption, fostering, and advocacy. Another group of special people I love and want to minister to is teen or young moms. I want them to find their voice and their power. Their identities as mothers matter. I want to fill them with facts on both the practical and emotional sides of parenting. I want them to know that the Church doesn't just care about their baby for the sake of being 'pro-life' but that I care about HER and I care about the person her baby will become. Soap. Box. I have a tiny bit of experience in this category, as a woman who became a mother at the age of 19, and I will definitely never forget those who made me feel positively throughout the experience.

    Little mommy, big babies. 
    If you'd like to link up a post of your own, do so every week and connect with!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Roman's Room Re-Design

For Christmas this year, my parents repainted our 3 year old son's room to give it a more vibrant, boyish, preschool vibe. He had been hanging out in a plain, tan, builder-grade painted room for about 9 months now and that was just not cutting it. Not only was his room drab, but the paint was so poor quality, any time he rubbed against it with one of his toys, it would leave a mark and wiping it with a wash cloth took all of the paint off!

We went to Lowe's and got a few gallons of Olympic paint which promised itself to be washable and scrubbable! Perfect for little boys and their friends.

On the same day, our aunt came down and delivered a new cubby book shelf for both boys. Now their books can finally come out of boxes and we have space for some little toys.

Our house is full of these large windows, which lets in a fantastic amount of natural light, so we knew the room could handle such a bold, blue color.

When we moved into this house, my in-laws gave our boys new twin beds (little N's is in storage for a while) with solid wood headboards made from a barn built in 1901! Roman's has a slight red tint to it, which is perfect for this nautical themed room.

This corner is tons of fun. It didn't stay this clean for long.

To the left we have a bucket of Mega Bloks, which is used daily for R's personal creations. He is an expert ship and airplane builder. To the right are all of his little figures - Little People, Paw Patrol, dinosaurs, animals, you name it. The top blue bin holds balls, the middle red bin holds vehicles, and the bottom blue bin holds small stuffed toys.

All of the books in Roman's room are currently board books because he STILL tears pages out of paper books. We cannot leave nice books alone with him. All of our paper books hang out in little brother's room because N is still immobile and R doesn't venture in there too often.

You may have noticed this guy in many of the pictures. He is a one-of-a-kind piece made by my talented Dad. He is a true Mr. Fix It and a great wood worker.

You may have been wondering where we keep the important stuff, like clothes. Roman doesn't have a dresser because the one he had as a baby was in poor shape, so we decided to just give him more free space and cut out the temptation of emptying drawers every day by putting all of his clothes in the closet. A 3 drawer tub holds pajamas and pants, shirts hang up, and bins on the top shelf hold socks, underwear, belts, hats, and anything we are saving for the next size up. Photo bomb by the dump truck in the bottom left corner. *wink*

What is a little boy's room without a Melissa and Doug rug? Or a couple tubs of stuffed animals? Or a giant dump truck? R certainly wouldn't know. We are pondering what kind of decorations would look best in that corner. My thought is a giant framed poster.

We are so happy that he is able to enjoy this room redesign and feel confident that a color like this could be paired with many themes down the road when he decides to outgrow the pirate bed sheets.

To check out our baby's room, click HERE.

Thanks for stopping by the blog! I'd love to hear what you think about R's new room.