Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Week 49: Changing Like Whoa

Week 49: 07/22/13 - 07/28

It's officially taken me two full months. 

To get my house back in order. 
From the hurricane of chaos from this past year. 

No seriously. 
I've gone through every room in our house. 
Shaking my head in horror {and disgust} at the collection of clutter and cobwebs. 
Word of advice to my future self: 
Never, ever let your house go like this again. 

Not to mention the cleanup from TWO major storms. 
Let's just say we're on a first name basis with our insurance company. 
And I've become an expert at flooded-basement-cleanup.
All by myself. 
While husband is out of town at a "conference" in Las Vegas.

Aside from cleaning/organizing/piling/ridding of stuff in and on every cabinet/drawer/shelf/counter/crevice, these past few weeks have been absolutely incredible
There is no other word to describe this precious time with my babe. 

I will say, however, that every week I'm noticing enormous changes. 
Changes that suddenly make me panic for a second.
As I scramble and clutch on to the teeniest little parts that are still baby

But of course I realize that you are not a baby anymore. 

How do I have an almost one year old?

And in that same breath.
These changes are thrilling. 
And make me one proud mama. 

Something tells me I have many more of these feelings to experience in coming years.
Desperate for time to stop. 
Yet excited as you learn, grow, and become more independent. 

With that being said, I want to jot down some specific things I've noticed recently. 
Things that make my heart swell. 
Simple, everyday things that I want to look back on and cherish. 
  • You've been signing "more" for awhile now. Typically when I ask if you want more, you always, always sign for "more". So much, that I was beginning to think that you would eat 24 hours a day if I let you. Until this week. You *finally* started signing "all-done". It used to be when I asked if you were all done, you would start crying and desperately sign "more". Now when I ask, you actually sign that you are done. Sometimes I don't even have to ask, you just tell me what you want. The beauty of baby signing.
  • Absolutely nothing makes my heart burst the way it does when you give kisses. Sometimes they are subtle *in typical Lyla fashion, of course*. But other times they are dramatic and wet. And  lately, you've been catching me by surprise. When I go in to get you from your crib every morning, you pull yourself up to me and give me a giant kiss on the lips. 
    I...I...I can't. 
  • You are a such a little person these days. It always takes me a moment when I realize that you actually understand something I've said to you. Like the other night during our bedtime story, the book said "bye" in it. Without stopping, I kept reading, and you started waving and saying "bye-bye". Or sometimes when I close a book and say "the end", you sign "all-done". Also during story time, you patiently wait to turn the page until I say, "Turn the page, Lyla". Or when I tell you to kiss your baby, and you pick her up and kiss her right on the lips! Or when we ask for a high five, you put your sweet little hand up to touch ours. 
  • We have your first official physical therapy/child development appointment set up for the week after your first birthday. But honestly, you've made so much progress in the last week. We've been doing a couple of PT exercises everyday, and I think they're helping. You've been getting stronger with our pulling up exercises, and you even pulled up one time on your Zany Zoo completely unassisted! And girlfriend, you may not technically crawl, but you are all over the place. I left you for three minutes on your belly, and I came back and couldn't find you. You *somehow* made your way behind the living room chair and were playing with the AC vent. Needless to say, you've been rolling, scooting backwards, and even booty scooting all the way across the room. You've got places to go, and you don't let the fact that you can't quite crawl yet stop you. And sometimes, I swear you crawl when I'm not looking. You little sneaky-pants.
  • Another sign that you really are getting older? Your coping skills have matured tremendously. You are just much more patient. We are even able to stray from your napping schedule (or even skip naps at times) or stretch out time in between meals when we have to. You are also significantly better with people you don't know. (Although, Dr. R. swears your early detection of "stranger-danger" was incredibly healthy *and even advanced* in the social skills department). But, I'm happy we're past that stage. Now, you're still shy when you meet new people and are in new surroundings, but you are no longer terrified. You even let others hold you...a lot. And you're much better with your other baby friends. You don't cry and beg me to hold you when they try to hug or tug at you.
  • And a *sad* little observation. You no longer swirl your feet and hands when you want or need something. Before, if you wanted anything *mostly food* you would start crazily swirling your feet and hands around and around in circles. Everyone always commented on it, and we would laugh hysterically over it. Then, I realized the other day I haven't seen you do that in awhile. And I don't know that I ever mentioned this sweet, quirky little part of your everyday interactions. I'm sort of sad to see them go.
  • Awkward Confession: You have become my professional bathroom buddy. Yep. Every.single.time. we're out running errands, I suddenly have to go to the bathroom. I can't help it. I drink a lot of water. So, without fail, we have to abandon our shopping cart. And you go right into the stall with me, and I hold you while I pee. *Make sure to tuck that one away for your future resume. ;)
  • I seriously think you may be musical...or *fingers crossed* a future dancer. You have some serious rhythm anytime a song is playing and immediately throw your hands in the air and bounce up and down. You also love to clap to the beat (well, sort of). And you absolutely love when I sing to you. Although I can't possibly imagine why. Mama can't hold a tune. Regardless, you love music, and you really love dancing. Especially when mom and dad act like fools and dance for you. :)

*While typing this post, your dad came home from being gone for a week. You immediately squealed and started yelling, "Da-Da-Da"!! I've never seen him smile so big. 
Then you went in for the glasses, immediately followed by a kiss. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Mommy Files: Cloth Diapers Part II

It's funny.
Having recently gone on vacation, we exclusively used disposable diapers for two weeks. 
My best friend asked me, "Is it going to be such a pain to switch back to cloth?"

I really pondered on that. 
Because, man it was nice to not have to worry about cloth.
No need to launder diapers every other day.  
No fear of finding a stinky diaper lurking in the depths of my diaper bag.
Just change, roll up, throw away. 

But you know something?
I actually *missed* cloth. 
There was something quite comforting about coming home to cloth. 

I guess I'm a sucker for routine.
An intense creature of habit. 
And cloth diapering has become part of our everyday life. 

Well, anyway. 
If you missed the first part of this post, go check it out!

The Lazy Man's {Brief} Guide to Cloth Diapering 
Part II: Our Favorites and Daily Routine

Like I said in the last post.
We are probably not the poster children for cloth diapering.
But this is our personal guide.
Our favorites.
Our routines.
Our helpful tidbits.

So, let's just start from the beginning.

Cloth Beginnings. 
We didn't start out with cloth. Lyla left the hospital in a disposable, and we continued to use disposables for the next couple of months.
1). Because we couldn't justify purchasing newborn size cloth diapers when she'd only use them for a few months and
2). Because we'd never changed a diaper before in our lives. So we figured we should probably master the basics first.

But, we knew we wanted to do cloth.
We knew we wanted to save money.
Both of our mamas used cloth on us.
And some of my favorite bloggers cloth (a clear and obvious reason to make such a large commitment, right?)

And although cloth diapering may be super trendy in big cities, it is considered back-woods in Wichita.
*the irony*
I can't tell you how many, "You touch your child's poop?!?!" looks we get.

But we like to go against the grain.
Well, Gabe likes to go against the grain.
But I want to shout from the rooftops, "I'm totally normal. I don't touch poop, I swear!"

We did lots of cloth research leading up to Lyla's grand entrance.
And some of my friends graciously hosted a shower where we received a good cloth inventory.
Then we purchased a good amount with gift cards.

We used disposables until Lyla was about 11-12 weeks old.
We started using cloth one week before I went back to work.
*I really don't recommend that.*
Here I was trying to figure out how in the world I'd make it out the door with clothes on, let alone trying to figure out a cloth diapering system.
In hindsight, I should have gotten into a good routine about a month before going back to work.

But once we got into a routine, we actually enjoyed it.
It just became part of our day.

Our Favorites.
Sends me into a tailspin just thinking about all the decisions to make when it comes to cloth.

So we researched a lot.
Talked to friends who use cloth.
Experimented with different brands.

After reading hundreds of blog reviews and doing a lot of research, I was sure that we would stock up on Bum Genius All-in-Ones.
They are on the pricier end of cloths.
But well worth the initial investment.
Plus, so many in blog land raved about Bum Genius.
So we went to a local baby shop and bought two Bum Genius Freetimes to test out.

We loved them.
Sturdy. No hassel with stuffing. Adorable.
But there was a downside.
A *big downside* for this working mama.
They cannot go in the dyer.
And they take a long time to hang dry.
Especially when it's too cold/dark/wet to dry outside.
So, they came in at a close second for me, personally.
(We also tried Grovia and Bottombumpers brands.)

So our number one cloth diaper pick?
*Especially for working moms and dads*
Fuzzibunz One Size Elite Diapers.

Love at first wash (and dry).
They have all the convenience of Bum Genius AIO's.
But you can dry these bad boys in the dryer.
*Huge* bonus.
And in addition to multiple snaps to help properly fit baby, they have elastics on the inside that you can adjust.

However, they are technically considered a pocket diaper.
So there is an extra step that AIOs (All-in-Ones) do not have.
That "extra" step simply involves stuffing the diaper.
A step that literally takes 3 extra seconds.

The fact that they are a pocket diaper is exactly what makes them so easy to dry.
Because there isn't as much bulk and fabric attached like the AIO diapers.

How many do I need?
We have 17 diapers total.
12 of those are our beloved Fuzzibunz.
With 17 diapers, we do laundry every other day. 

Why 17?
Well, because we received most of our diapers as gifts.
I think we only bought an additional three.

We always talk about buying a few more.
Just so we could wash every two and a half to three days.
(I wouldn't go much longer than that to wash.
*I personally recommend 18-20 diapers so there is a nice rotation.*

Daily Routine. 
Our daily routine is fairly straightforward.

We change Lyla's diaper probably about 7-8 times per day. 

If the diaper is wet only, we take out the insert and throw into her diaper pail.
If the diaper is dirty, we either shake off the poo (if it's solid) or rinse off the poo (if it's not solid).  
Then take out the insert and throw the insert and shell into diaper pail.

Every day and a half to every 2 days, we wash the diapers. 
*If we had a few more diapers, we could probably stretch to every 2 1/2 to every 3 days.*

We unload the diapers from the dryer.
Put the diapers in her drawer. 
And stuff right before putting on her sweet little bum.

Amazing stuff, huh?

So Fresh and So Clean. 
I know. I know.
For all you clean-freak skeptics out there, you really just want to get to the bottom line.
How do we clean these things?

The steps are really quite simple. 

1). Take out entire diaper pail insert full of cloth diapers. 
2). Dump contents into washing machine (including washable diaper pail insert). 
3). Set washer to 2 rinse - hot cycle. (Any *ahem* residue left on the diaper is taken out after the first rinse).
4). Dry on delicate/low or in the sun. 


Another cleaning tidbit. 
I mentioned that we didn't start clothing (yep. totally a verb) until Ly was three months. 
And she was exclusively breastfed, which totally makes a difference in the "disposal" department. 
I couldn't believe how often a wee newborn could dispose of waste. 
It was a lot.
And it was runny. 
But luckily, breastfed poo's aren't stinky!
(Hey, I like to see the positives.)

So, at the beginning, we used a diaper sprayer.
It just attaches right to the water line for your toilet. 
You just hold your diaper against the side of the toilet.
Press the nozzle. 
And it sprays that nasty off. 

An added bonus?
It acts as a bidet as well. 
*Someone in our household has tried it out. 
And that someone isn't me. 
Hint: He likes to think we live in Europe sometimes. 

(Luckily, when baby starts eating solids, the poo comes right off into the toilet.
No spray necessary.)

A Few FAQs.

Handy Disposables. I always have disposables on hand. Just in case Ly has diaper rash (I mentioned before I prefer disposables so I can use Desitin to clear it up more quickly), or if we're out and about running errands or going to be gone for a long period of time. It's just cleaner and quicker to use disposables. 

Have Two Washable Pail Liners. We only have one right now. Only because I always forget to buy a second. But it would be nice to have two so that you always have a liner in the diaper pail. I can't tell you how many times I haven't had a liner in the pail and have had to just stack the diapers on top of the pail....wait, yes I can tell you how many times...this happens every single time I wash the diapers. So, just get two. 

Wipes. I started out using cloth wipes too. They worked just fine. However. It was one more thing packed onto my already on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown schedule. So, I eliminated the extra step. Now, we happily use disposable wipes. I wipe Ly's toosh, throw away into the garbage basket, and then put the cloth diaper in the diaper pail. 

Nighttime. Lyla's been sleeping 12-13 hours for a solid 8 months. And when I say solid, that means she doesn't wake up at all. Or if she does, she goes right back to sleep. That being said, she never receives diaper changes in the middle of the night. So, I put one insert inside the pocket of the diaper and another insert laying inside the diaper. Double the absorbency. Works brilliantly. 

I've been writing this post for way too long.
And you've been reading this post for way too long.
That is, if anyone is still out there. 
*Crickets. Crickets.*

I was planning to also share specifics on products we use. 
But this is your lucky day.
Because my wrists hurt.
So, I'm going to add on a Part III.
Lookie there.
Look at me being spontaneous and daring.

So more to come.
On the exciting world of baby waste.

Also, I linked up with Kristin for Baby Talk Tuesdays! Go over and say hello. :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Goodnight, Rhode Island.

It's taken a full week.

To come down from vacation high.
And make my way back to reality.
A reality with a new outlook.
And new exciting things ahead.

But for the sake of memory.
I'm giving our first family vacation one last shout out.

Because I failed to share the best part of our trip.
Is it really a vacation without the beach?
I think not.

And a quick side note on that thought.
This trip definitely did a number on our psyche.
We were overcome with nostalgia and memories.
The moment we landed, we desperately missed our old landscape.
The hills.
The trees.
The coast.
The proximity to everything beautiful and fantastic.
Federal Hill.
Quahogs and Chowder.


Needless to say, we were thrilled to rent a house on the beach in a small town on Cape Cod.

Unfortunately, Lyla was doing some major teething the first two days, so our first couple beach outings were not as I'd hoped.

Our delicate little lady prefers pampering over roughing it.
So, the gritty East Coast sand was not her thing.
The 95 degree weather and 75% humidity wasn't her thing either.
And the moment she tasted the salt water?
She immediately demanded a nice refreshing *heated* pool.
Not to mention all the on-and-off-with-a-wet bathing-suit nonsense.
Not having it.

By day 3, she was practically begging to beach it up.
She loved it.
It just took us a couple of days to figure out what made her most comfortable.
Which really was just an umbrella for some shade and a Happy Tots squeeze pack.
And some playtime in the water.

We also did some beach exploring.
Found a couple of seashells on our morning beach walks.
Played in the sand.
And practiced our kicking that we learned in swim lessons.

Of course Lyla's "kicks" are one at a time.
Very gentle kicks.
And intermittent.
Just like they were in the womb.
Typical Lyla fashion.

All in all, the beach was the best.

Can't wait to do it again.
Although, my bet is Ly is rooting for a heated pool and some AC.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Eat, beach, nap, repeat.

I apologize for two things.

1. Dragging out my "Let me share with you how amazing of a vacation we had" post.
2. The obnoxious string of pictures that go along with #1.

But I can't help myself.

I'm doing this for me.

Because I want to remember.
And savor.
Every bit of our seaside vacation.
Our very first family vacation.

Our Cape Cod trip was the perfect vacation for an almost one year old.
A crabby teething almost one year old.

We had a beach house right on the water.
And 16 extra hands willing to rescue us the babe at a moment's notice.

I was prepared to release quite the slack in our routine.
But luckily, we didn't have to stray too much from the norm.
We were able to stick to two naps most days.
And we just let Ly dictate when she was ready to go down for the evenings.
While we *ahem* proceeded to have adult beach time fun just a few feet away.

We were spoiled.
And now, I can't imagine not having a house right on the beach.
Because Ly's maximum beach time limit was about an hour.
Before we had one giant, hot, wet, sandy meltdown.
**Probably because the hour prior to beach time was spent sun-screening, bug-spraying, packing a beach bag, putting on swimsuits, and walking down to the beach. Only to then realize someone had a dirty diaper. Then we had to start all over. Take off the *wet* swimsuit, change said diaper, and try to put back on swimsuit onto an angry, sweaty, squirmy baby. Why, oh why, do most girl swimsuits not have snaps on the crotch? Why?!?!

As I was saying.
It was a huge convenience for our house to be right on the water.
Because after Lyla's maxed-out capacity of beach fun, we were able to take her right up to the house for a nap.


In addition to the benefit for the babe, this vacay was just what we needed as well.
It was seriously the first time I fully relaxed since Lyla was born.
And relax, I did.

Everyday looked just about the same:

Morning coffee and Today Show.
Get ready for the beach.
Relax in the hammock.
Shop and/or explore.
Family dinner.
Couple Yard Olympics.
Game night.


I mean.
I love me some dining al fresco.
But do it on the deck with the Atlantic Ocean at your side?
I die.

And I truly don't think I've consistently laughed as hard as I did on this vacation.

From the moment we made two discoveries in the house: 1). That one of our two bathrooms (for 10 people and 1 baby) had a three-foot shower space and 2). That Paul and Lynne were sharing their bed with a mama spider and her thousand babies.
Combine those discoveries with some Sweet Tea Vodka, Game of Things and Cards Against Humanity?
Nothing but hysterical laughter for the rest of the trip.

Perfect trip for the baby.
Even better trip for the adults.

Win-win for all.

Exploring the Cape. 
Including Mashpee, Falmouth and Chatham

Family dinners hosted by Chefs Jerilyn and Sarah 
*With Portuguese and Armenian descents, you have no choice but to prepare the most amazing meals anyone has ever smelled or tasted.*

Couples Yard Olympics.
Ladder Golf, Bocce Ball, and Corn Hole

A beach, a hammock, cocktails, board games, and plenty of giggles