Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oh Franklin Covey, I'm Not Ready to Break Up

I was going through my planner the other day. Because really? Isn't carrying a planner so 90s? I received mine as a gift when I graduated from college in 1997. It is real leather, a Franklin Covey and I LOVED it. I felt so grown up carrying it. Now, the nameplate reads my maiden name, the leather is worn off and faded, not to mention super dated. I admit, I'm still not totally ready to toss it. I know - one step away from HOARDER! I took a picture of it for my friend because she didn't believe that I still had it!
I came across a list of baby names I started (literally) in 1997 when I got it. I added to it along the years and last year, once we found out we were having a girl, we got a little more serious about it the list.

Girl Names:


Boy Names:

William (Will)

I so wanted to leave some of the names off as I typed them out, but I didn't. There are names on there I clearly couldn't have chosen - we now have a niece named Clare. I have a good friend with a daughter named Addison. And really, would I actually name my daughter Evangeline? Probably not.

Do YOU still have a planner? Do you use it? What funny stuff is in yours?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cloth Diapering... Ten Months In.

Here's my original post on our whole cloth diapering routine. In honor of Melinda (just had her first babe) and Melissa (expecting baby #4) who are both beginning and/or thinking of trying all of this out, it led me to realize that I needed to update my post as some things have changed. Some are significant, some not so much, but thought I would share everything that changed since November when I first listed out our routine.

Change #1: I don't like velcro diapers and wouldn't buy them again.
We have BumGenius 4.0s in velcro and snaps. Velcro was my favorite at first - particuarly for middle-of-the-night changings. Honestly, if I were to do it all over again, I'd probably just put baby down to sleep in a snap and then change her into a disposable if I needed to change her in the middle of the night. It is much easier to put on a diaper with velcro rather than messing with snaps. However, now that we aren't changing diapers in the middle of the night anymore and a significant amount of time and washings have occurred, the velcro is no longer as necessary, nor is it in the best condition. Our liners are always line dryed so it isn't the dryer that has ruined them, they just don't stick as well. Even the laundry tabs have softened up and don't have that same "sticking" quality. I also cannot leave Elyse in a velcro without pants. She loves to rip them off. I have a feeling I will eventually transition out of the velcros and set them aside and either make do with less diapers or buy more snap versions. They have conversion kits, but that honestly sounds like more trouble than it is worth!

Change #2: I do remove inserts before laundering.
I didn't want to mess with this at first. Now, it is totally worth it. All inserts are removed and velcro tabs stuck to the laundry tabs. It is a step that helps get the diapers cleaner - as the inserts don't always come out on their own in the wash. Totally worth the step.

Change #3: We add a wet towel to the washing machine.
This was a tip from our favorite store and resource for all things cloth diapering - Simple Cloth. We have a front loader and in order to trick the machine into using more water, we add a sopping wet towel to the wash. It helps get them cleaner and ensures that you don't get residue. My routine is to take out the washable wet bag of diapers. I open the cupboard and pull out the towel I always wash the diapers with along with the second (clean) wet bag. I put the new wet bag/liner in the pail and we are ready to head to the washing machine! I put the bag up to the machine, pull back the top and push from the bottom so all of the soiled diapers go straight into the machine. I don't even have to touch any diapers. The towel is thrown in the laundry sink over running water and when appropriately soaked, I add it to the machine. I add my 1/3 c of Country Save and get it running!

Change #3: We wash diapers less frequently.
We wash diapers two times a week - they sit no more than three days. Bill and I normally take turns, so each of us is only washing the diapers/putting them away once a week.

Change #4: We are pretty strict about what we put into the dryer.
We always line dry diaper covers and the all-in-one, one-size BumGenius Organics. Into the dryer goes fleece liners, inserts, towel, wipes (washcloths) and the wet bag/liner(s).

Change #5: I went back to work, so we have a new routine for when she isn't with us.
We pack six diapers into the diaper bag for the day. We send along a wetbag. When that comes home, we empty the soiled diapers into the diaper pail and hang the wetbag to dry out (we have two so we rotate for washing). One Grandma uses cloth wipes so we pack those and the other uses baby wipes.

Change #6: We did install a clothes line above the washer and dryer. On any given day, you will likely see a string of diapers drying. This worked much better than our previous method of drying on a rack in the spare room. Diapers are either drying on this line or outside if it happens to be a pretty day.

Change #7: We purchased a hemp insert for night-time. At first, I thought our night-time leaks were a problem with our inserts, so we purchased an insert made of hemp which is super absorbent. We later found out most of our leak problems were do to the diaper itself (see below warning for not purchasing used diapers). We double up and make sure the microfiber insert is on top and the hemp is on bottom. We are having leaks once and a while again at night, so I think it is time to buy a bigger hemp insert now that we are on the largest snap of the Bum Genius.

Lessons Learned and Other Stuff:

Careful when stuffing diapers. You have to make sure the insert doesn't bunch when stuffing, or it will leak. I often check this before putting the diaper on to be safe.

Also, be careful when you put the diaper on. You have to make sure all of the inside/absorbent parts of the diaper aren't sticking out. Sometimes the cotton on the organic all-in-ones is poking out or the back part is folded. A quick check of the waist and legs and a quick tuck-in is all that is needed to prevent most leaks.

Sometimes diapers leak no matter what. We have a little one who likes to hold it sometimes, so when she finally goes we often leak due to the volume - whether she's in a cloth or disposable.

Speaking of leaking, if you are going to deal with a big poo, pray they are in cloth! The messiest explosions I've ever dealt with were when we were out-and-about and Elyse was in a disposable diaper. The BumGenius have that good elastic around the waist that is good for containing things, if you will. I remember two distinctive times being in a public restroom with poo everywhere. A thousand wipes later and a fresh change of clothes, we got it cleaned up, but boy is that not fun! It is funny to me the people that won't consider cloth diapering because they are worried about the poo. Well, I don't like it either. But, I much prefer it in the diaper than all over my baby, her clothes, surroundings and ME!

Don't buy used diapers. I bought some on E-bay and they leaked at the legs. Waste of money. I didn't save a thing.

You do have to change them more often. Usually if she has leaked, it is our fault. We didn't realize how much time had passed since the last diaper change. Yet, sometimes she leaks and I have no idea why.

We haven't had staining issues. There is so much on-line about removing stains by drying in the sun. We haven't had that problem, which is a good thing because we don't get a ton of drying-in-the-sun days here.

The stinky part isn't from what you think. If you are worried about a stinky diaper pail - worry more about the ammonia smell than anything else. The other soiled diapers are sprayed off, so besides that initial P.U. you don't smell the dreaded "poo" after that. There is a strong ammonia smell from the soiled diapers come laundry day. However, it stays pretty contained in the pail and we keep an air freshener nearby. I do smell ammonia when they are first washing in the machine, so I usually plug in an airfreshener or something in the laundry room.

No problems with residue. We haven't had any issues (so far) with soap residue, so we haven't had to strip diapers yet. I've also read how some can get a buildup of urine residue from not enough soap. Haven't had that problem either.

Cloth diapers do give them a "puffier" bum. I actually think it is cute and sweet to pat, but I get that sometimes it doesn't work. Take note when buying fitted leggings or jeans. Some of Elyse's jeans fit much better with a disposable given the added bulk of a cloth diaper.

I still love cloth wipes (or washcloths) the best. We almost never use disposable wipes at home. As a matter of fact, if you're looking for them here, you'll have to dig. We use the cloth wipes for diaper changes fresh from her warmer. In the kitchen, we use traditional washcloths and towels for cleanup. They work better and there's nothing to toss in the garbage. (Now, on-the-go we go through a TON, don't get me wrong).

We needed (or maybe it is wanted) more diapers. We have about 30 diapers. I'm not sure of the actual number, but I am amazed people get by with only a dozen. I'd go crazy doing laundry that often. This amount works well for us, although to others it might seem excessive. I'd recommended starting with a smaller number, you can always slowly buy more as you need them. Plus, it doesn't seem as expensive that way.


We still enjoy doing it. It is still not a big deal. We had a couple of extended trips lately and as I packed that huge sleeve of disposable diapers, I will tell you it gives me great satisfaction in our choice. I still have no qualms about using disposables on-the-go, but what we use in comparison to most and what we have saved financially is huge. It is completely a personal choice, but for us we are still really happy about it. Plus, they are so cute. Are they not? Look at that baby!

Questions? Happy to help if we can!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TEN Months

I've come to love Kelle Hampton's blog. She has a child with Down's Syndrome and I was reading a post about her having an emotional day in terms of being a parent. Really what she was describing likely is greater at times with parenting a special needs child. Yet, what she described.... we all feel it.

I knew I'd love my daughter. I knew I'd love her in a whole new way and I was excited and scared to know what it felt like. It is a different kind of love and one I'd never experienced before. It makes my heart want to explode with happiness, yet it also can bring such overwhelming fear and responsibility. Here's Kelle's take:

Everyone feels it at different places along the journey. I love them so deeply, so fiercely, so wholly that the thought of them not being okay is more painful than that of my own well-being. There is fear in parenthood... That fear never really disappears, and I'm well aware it exists. My job is to find an appropriate place for it, not to bury it completely but to manage it, to never let it outshine our zest for life and adventure. Sometimes, it's good to go there. To think about the what-ifs and sympathize with the families that do experience this reality. And it's uncomfortable. But I am becoming familiar with the beautiful process of ups and downs, ebb and flow, victory and defeat. They depend upon each other. We wouldn't know defeat if we didn't have victory to measure it against, and we wouldn't understand that breath-taking happiness is so wonderful if we couldn't compare it with lesser days of disappointment.

I am so touched and encouraged by Kelle's words today. She seems to be creeping into my mind these days. I really appreciate her balanced advice.

Here's looking back over the last month.

We went on another road trip. I had back-to-back conferences in Walla Walla. It was extra-special because YOU got to be with me!

Aunt Sue came the first trip and Daddy and Marcie the second! Life in a hotel room with you was sure different than our last hotel stay! You explored every inch of that room.

Can you believe their cribs? Jessica from my office said, "What - are they from the 1800s?"

You really enjoyed yourself.

The old crib didn't seem to bother you at all.

Aunt Sue loved getting to play with you. I think she enjoys your toys as much as you do!

We took you to the park and at first you did this.

And a little more of this.

Soon, you woke up to play!

You do love to swing! This was definitely the warmest weather you've been in since you were born (it was in the 90s).

Right about here is when it all started going downhill. You started getting cranky... you were hot... and getting so upset didn't help things. We got in the car, cranked the A/C and you just wouldn't calm down. Rather than take you back to the hotel (you were literally screaming) we pulled over to a shaded grassy area and just held you, gave you water and a bottle and eventually you calmed down. Poor bud! We quickly changed our minds about eating out that night. We were relieved you were finally feeling better and didn't want to chance it.

Instead - we came back to the hotel room and celebrated Aunt Sue's birthday camped out on the hotel room floor! I felt sad she had to celebrate away from her husband so I wanted to make it special, but she swears she loved it! We just want you happy, baby girl!

Next thing you know - it was the Fourth of July. I have loved going to the local parade on the Fourth for years. It meant so much for you to join us this year. I rubbed my belly last year waiting for this day.

You were SO GOOD. I don't know why I was so surprised. You loved every minute of it.

Anna always saves us seats. She was super excited to get to share the parade with YOU!

You had to check everything out.

Anna really enjoyed you. She calls you "E" and says she can't wait to take you to a rodeo! She even bought you cowboy boots! She's a good friend and you're lucky to have her in your life!

Cousin Marshelle had her 40th and we celebrated Hawaiian style!

Not sure why you are yawning here because I got you home on time and you still stayed up super late that night!

Your cousin Mariah just adores you! Pretty girls!

You really love to touch things and lately it has often turned into hitting - the dog, cat, PEOPLE! You were hitting Uncle Harry!

I missed it on camera, but you can see by their smiles - you just did it again! Oh boy - we're going to have to work on this! Gentle, gentle!

Speaking of getting into trouble. You've played a little rough with Wilson as I recently captured here.

It is so hard to capture a decent picture of you lately as you are always on the move. I do love this one - you are quiet and sweet - and I love those sweet cheeks. I will sure miss them when they are gone one day.

You are so close to walking. We're waiting for you to stand on your own - that is the next step.

The cat is on the bed - in case you were wondering.

You pull yourself up on everything. Fortunately, this table is sturdy, but some them are not!

Daddy calls this being the "doggie". You walk around with a toy or something you've found in your mouth and crawl to your next destination. In this case, it is a picture of your cousin, Tanner!

We got to break out the summery pajamas! Thanks, Grandma Deanie! You are doing so well with sleep lately. You've been sleeping an average of 11 hours with no wakeups!! Such a good girl! You are ready for us in the morning. You are usually jumping up and down with excitement when we come in!

Monthly photos were so hard this go around. I definitely need a helper next month. You do NOT want to sit still. But, how can I resist this cute face?

Or this one? You have your two teeth on bottom. Four new teeth on top and a new one popping up down below next to your two front teeth. Teething causes some intermittent fussiness, but so far it still hasn't caused us too much trouble.

Sometimes snacks are more fun on the floor.

This is the cabinet Daddy baby-proofed just tonight. It has all our baking ingredients and yesterday you got out the baking soda. Yeah, you're fast.

I've still never mastered getting on top of your fingernails that grow faster than I can keep up with. Our new plan of action? You watch your minute or so Muppet Show slideshow on Youtube while I madly clip them. You are so engrossed that you don't even care.

You are done with purees. You love everything about solid food and I think lemons are really the only thing you will not eat. Your latest fave is blueberries and you recently shared tofu phad thai with me and LOVED it! That's my girl!

You are pretty much weaned off the bottle. We still have them on-hand if you need it, but otherwise you are drinking all your formula in a sippy cup and in just two short months we'll be switching to whole milk. You love drinking your water from a sippy with a straw. I'm so happy this transition has gone so easily.

Here, you're fussing because I couldn't hold you. I was trying to take pictures of our friend's newborn baby (photos to be shared soon). Yes, our session was cut short as you weren't having it!

Here's my absolute favorite picture of the entire month. I want to smooch you every time I see it.

Sweetie, thanks for another month brightening our lives for the better. I love every inch and everything about you (even when you grind your teeth)! I hope we come close to being the parents you deserve. I love you more each second that passes. You keep my heart full. Happy ten months, sweet pea!



Monday, July 11, 2011

Kids and Cats

I got a great kick out of my friend telling a story about her husband yelling at people to slow down as they drive by his house. He yells, "Slow down! We have kids and cats!" That still makes me chuckle just thinking about it.

Elyse sure does love her dog and cat. When she sees Wilson she makes the "K" sound for "kitty". Here they are playing and doing their best to be nice to each other. Please note - Wilson is declawed. Please also note - this cat HATED kids before Elyse. He's doing so well - even if they both do get a little rough.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Office Re-Design - Grey and Yellow, Grey and Yellow, Grey and Yellow

Ever since we moved into our house almost four years ago, I have never liked our office. It has been a mish-mash of furniture. Lack of seating. Artwork didn't really go with anything. No style. It was never a room I enjoyed being in. Did I mention it is just to the left of our front entrance and one of the first rooms people see? Yuck! Here are some before pictures. I'm kicking myself for using my 50mm portrait lens. Ridiculous - I couldn't get a decent shot of the whole room. Oh well.

This is the left side of the office. Pictures and... a whole lot of nothing.

This is in the center of the room on the wall directly in front of you. I fell in love with this Louis Comfort Tiffany mosaic when I saw it in 1999 at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had to purchase the print. Then I paid $100 to have it framed. Don't you love the turquoise matting (ugh!). Now, I want to re-paint the frame and change out the mat hoping I can attempt to breathe some new life into it. Wish me luck. For now, it is hanging out in the closet.

Here's our desk and a file cabinet behind it. Yep, I told you - a whole lot of nothing.

Bill and I discussed many different options and honestly, we couldn't always agree. I kept being drawn to the furniture options at Ikea. He wasn't too hip on that idea worrying it wouldn't be high-quality and wouldn't hold up. We talked about some custom-built furniture, but never really wanted to pull the trigger due to the expense. Given Bill's recent carpentry skills and interest, we finally decided he would build cabinets himself and we would just purchase a desk.

I did find a great desk at Ikea and Bill was willing to go take a look. Bill, Marcie and I both took an early afternoon off one Thursday and headed up to the store with our favorite baby shopper figuring it would be a good time with less crowds. Not only did they have the Liatorp desk, but they had the matching cabinets. Ooooh, I hadn't seen those before! Much of it was solid wood and the lumber alone would have cost more than what the Ikea option offered. Plus, it just so happened to fit perfectly in the room (three inches to spare total). We were very excited!

First, we removed everything from the room. Bye-bye old desk, chair, file cabinet, artwork and photos. The cabinets and desk were put together (that took Bill five straight hours) and brought in (thanks for the help, Corey!!). It fit the room perfectly and honestly, looks like a built-in! Then, it came down to the details!

It all started with Nate Berkus. I watched a lot of Nate while at home on maternity leave, rocking away the hours with my newborn. I gained lots of style and DIY ideas from Nate and crew. (Little known fact: one of his regulars on the show is Elyse Luray, historian and appraiser. A smart and elegant lady with a beautiful name!).  OK, back to my point. One of Nate's favorite color combinations was grey and yellow. I thought a lot about those colors over the months and knew eventually that is what I wanted to do with the office. I had just subscribed to Pinterest and created a style board for Office Ideas. Let me just say, if you are looking at decorating a room start to finish - Pinterest is the way to go! (PS: let me know if you need an invite to Pinterest! You will just LOVE it).

Here it is - the new and improved office!

Desk and Cabinets: Here is a link to the office furniture (except the TV stand). It is Liatorp and really well-made. We love it. We are thinking of adding a glass top to the desk for added protection.

Bulletin Board: I have seen several of these DIY bulletin boards on blogs lately, but when I saw this one in yellow, I just knew we had to do it! I had one spare frame, but it wasn't quite big enough. Marcie suggested purchasing molding and have Bill make one so we could make it whatever size we wanted. He was totally up to the challenge. (PS: My husband becoming so handy is so much more romantic that flowers and candy - I just love it!) The trim was pretty inexpensive at Lowe's and a co-worker gave us the chicken wire. We got some bright yellow spray paint for the trim. I hadn't intended for Bill to spray the chicken wire too, but it actually turned out great! I love when accidents work out better than your original plan! We're using bamboo clothes pins to attach photos and notes. It turned out so well - Bill did an amazing job!

CPU/ Printer Cabinet: We didn't want the CPU on top of the desk and we weren't super confident there would be enough ventilation in the side cabinet designed to hold it. Bill had the great idea of building a little stand to hold both the CPU with the printer on top. He sprayed it white to match the desk and cabinet and it looks great - blends right in.

Artwork: Did I mention I love Pinterest? I did a search on "free printables" and came up with almost all of the artwork in the room. I had already ordered this print on Etsy, but all the others I scored for free. Pairing them with inexpensive frames makes me one happy girl!

Office Supply Storage: Marcie and I have been pros at flea markets and garage sales recently. We'd talked for a while about the grey/yellow theme. When we saw a ton of silvery storage bins and bookends at a garage sale last month, I snatched them right up - perfect! Plus, I think I only paid a $1.00 for all of them.

Curtains: I almost always start with fabric when thinking of decorating a room. But, this time I did it completely backwards. I chose the fabric last and the curtains were the final touch in the room. I was deciding between a charcoal and white chevron and this great Joel Dewberry floral. I had originally considered ordering the fabric on-line, but Evelyn and I decided we'd venture out and see what we could find. When I saw that Joel Dewberry in person, it just clicked. We went to a few more stores, but within hours we were back to purchase it. Six yards of fabric, a few hours at the sewing machine and ironing board and by the next evening I had finished the curtains and had them hung. I just love them - they really make the room! Thanks to Young House Love for their tips on hanging the rods 12" above and outside of the window. I love the results. I hadn't used my sewing machine since Elyse was born and I have to admit, I was beaming with pride after I hung those curtains. It felt really good!
Chairs: The desk is finished on either side as a room divider. We've always wished we had a second chair in the office. I can't tell you how many times Bill and I are in there together or with a friend perusing on the Internet or looking at a photo slideshow. These Tobias chairs from Ikea were perfect. They were Marcie's suggestion. We really like them - and they are comfortable too. I like how they just disappear and don't stand out like our former clunky, black office chair.

Storage Cabinet: This is the only item in the room that has remained. It is an antiqued cabinet with yellow and turquoise. Turquoise wasn't exactly part of the plan, but somehow it adds a little pop of color that works. I still do dream of painting it (like this one), but so far, Bill says no.

The Little Details

Yellow Owl: I saw this bad boy on Etsy. A bright yellow, retro, ceramic owl. I pondered him for a couple weeks and then snatched him up. He is even more cool in person and perfect for the office.

Found this vase (above) in grey for only $7.99! Paired with the yellow owl = heaven.

Scored this cute little ceramic white owl paperclip holder on Etsy. Simple and sweet.

Marcie found a black B and C for us (they didn't have any Es). Evelyn and I were at Joann Fabrics shortly thereafter and they had wooden letters in the exact same size. A little yellow paint and Elyse gets to stand out as she always will. Our family of initials is complete. Yet, I'm still wondering - can you spray paint leather? I'd love to turn that B and C dark grey!

We also gave makeovers to a variety of decorative and storage items. We picked up some bright yellow spray paint and did makeovers for a pencil holder, "HOPE" sign along with some storage bins and baskets. Bill was a big help with all of the painting. I like how there are now little bits of yellow tucked around the room.

We brought in glassware from the china cabinet including a collection of vases and candlesticks to fill up the rest of the glass door cabinet.

I'm sure we'll continue making little touches to the room. I'm still not sure what to do with the little shelves above the desk. They are intended for CDs, but I'm not so sure about that. I'm also considering make a pennant string for the bulletin board (like here). I still have this rug in the garage - I'm trying to decide if I can make it work. It was only $20, so it was worth a try! Also, the cabinet we saw at Ikea had doors on the right side (on the bottom). We're thinking about whether we should purchase them. What do you think?

All in all, everything worked out as planned. We didn't go over budget by keeping costs down whenever we could. All the DIY work between Bill and me made it all the more meaningful. I am loving the results. That was fun. On to the next project!


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