Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections and expectations

2009. What a year. It was a big year for me. You know how some years go by and at the end you really can't think of anything major that happened and it kind of just fades into the background with several other years just like it? Well, 2009 was far from that kind of a year for me. It was by far the best year second only to 2008 when I got married. Why? Well, most of you probably have already guessed that it's because I had my beautiful baby girl Brooklyn Alivia. She arrived all big and chubby at 6:16pm, Wednesday, July 15th. I get so nostalgic thinking of the day she arrived and the following days in the hospital as we were still living off the high of having just given birth to our first baby. We are still thrilled to be parents but that high has worn off a bit. Now we have a subdued excitement that has been dulled just a bit by the lack of sleep and extra silliness we go through to keep our little girl smiling. Adults will stand on their heads to get a baby to laugh - and that's what we do, which expends a LOT of energy. :) I wouldn't change anything, nor would I take back any sleep I lost getting up to feed her and console her. She is worth every bit of extra work we do for her and it's not really "work" when you're totally head over heels for the little bundle you are taking care of.

That was one big thing that happened this year - and probably the biggest if I'm completely honest.

Several other exciting things happened though:

- we rang in the new years with a nice trip to Orlando, FL with the cheerleaders (who I was a sponsor for last year) for 5 days. We got to stay in the Animal Kingdom resort which is nicer than any place I have ever stayed. It was a blast. Waylon got to go with me and experience his first trip to Florida and anything Disney. He enjoyed it too. Brooklyn even got to go although she was just the size of a lime back then. My belly was just beginning to pooch and I had begun to feel the flutters of life I was carrying. I didn't get to ride very many rides but I still had a good time. Waylon and I did have one bad day where we argued for a bit and then didn't speak to each other for a while afterwards. That part wasn't fun!

- We also got to move into one of my dad's rent houses which was a huge upgrade from our apartment. We did some major remodeling in it since the previous renter trashed it but it looks great now! We love living here. We were able to begin painting and remodeling the week I got out of school for the summer and were moved in a little over a week later. I was able to spend my last few miserable weeks of pregnancy in a nice, comfy house where I didn't have to go up a flight of stairs every time I got home. It felt like heaven!

- 2009 was not only a big year for myself in being a new mom, but several of my friends became first time moms as well, including one of my cousins, and 3 other cousins had their 2nd or 3rd babies. It was a big year!

Renay (one of my best friends from Rodgers Baptist Church) had her first: Claire Jordyn
Karen (a good friend from Grand Prairie) had her first: Blakely
Robyn (Karen's sister) had her first: Adalyn
Stefanie McNeely (one of my best friends who lived in Brazil too) had her first boy: Caleb Ethan
Debra Waldo (a friend of my sister's from way back when we lived here and is now a friend of mine) had her second baby, a girl, the day before Brooklyn was born: Katelyn
Chris Meyer and his wife Bere (he's a missionary/friend from Texas City) had their first daughter: Gabrielle

Now for my cousins who had babies:

Grace had her third, a boy - Tyler
Lydia (Grace's sister) had her second, a boy - Cooper
Andrea, had her third, a boy - Lucas
Phoebe (Andrea's sister) had her first - Eva (a name I love and even considered but we have a cousin on Waylon's side who have a daughter names Ava and I felt that was too close...kind of like I love the name Adalyn but it was too close to my niece's name Madelyn)

Phew! That's a lot of babies!!! It was exciting for me having all these new mommas in my life because it got me more excited for having my baby and we all were able to share in our baby experiences and growth. I still have several friends who will be having babies in 2010 which I think is a pretty cool year to have a baby. My sister, Melissa, has been trying to conceive and we really are praying she can conceive this year and have her 3rd child. I would love for her to have a baby close to Brooklyn's age. More than anything though, I want her to be happy and have all the babies she wants to have.

Now we prepare ourselves for the upcoming year: 2010. We look forward to seeing all the ways God is going to bless us and our friends, family and church. Our church has plans to move locations. We have really done well in our current location but feel it is time to move to another area. We already have a place scoped out that we will hopefully be able to get.

Waylon will hopefully be finishing his degree at this time of year in 2010. He only has 6 classes left. After that, a huge weight will be lifted from us. I'm so proud of him for working so hard to finish the degree and work at the same time. I pray God prepares him for the career he wants Waylon to have and that Waylon can find a job shortly after graduating. I also pray that the economy is better by then and that jobs are more readily available.

Brooklyn will turn a year old in 2010 which is a big milestone. I can't believe I am almost in the year she will turn a year. She's growing so fast. Which reminds me, she has started to sit up on her own! We are so excited! She likes to sit on her blanket and play with her toys. I can tell she gets restless when she can't do anything. It's boring for her to just sit in our laps now unless we have toys and are moving constantly. Now that she can sit up, this will be a big help with keeping her entertained. She also keeps entertained for 10-15 minutes at a time in her exersaucer and jumper.

We have a Ross family reunion in June which we all look forward too. It will be fun seeing all the new 2009 babies play together.

Waylon and I are hoping to get to take a family vacation to Destin Florida with my parents. They go every summer and Waylon has never been to the beautiful beaches. I would love to go just spend time on the beach and watch Brooklyn play in the sand and water for the first time. For us to be able to do that, we will have to have the money saved up.

I will leave you with a picture of Brooklyn doing her newest trick!

Sittin' Pretty!

Happy New Year!!

Please be safe and responsible in your celebrations!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cloth Diapering post - pictures included

I've finally had time to make this post showing all I've experienced with cloth diapering. The first thing I did was a TON of research. I looked into pre-folds (PF), all-in-ones (AIO), one sizes (OS), and fitteds with a cover and fitted AIO's. As I mentioned in a previous post, I ended up starting out with a kit of Econobums. They are an economical cloth diapering option that is simple and easy to use. Econobum combines prefolds with a water-proof diaper cover that adjusts in size to fit 7-35 pounds. This would be the average new born up to potty training age. I have included photos of of the Econobum system to show how it works. No pins are needed as the cover snaps and fits snug and keeps the cloth prefold in place.

1. Their Logo on the cover

2. The prefolds are the bottom, tan diapers that have the Econobum tag on them. They are unbleached which is why they are this color. The kit came with 12 of these. I'll adress the white ones on top in a few minutes.

3. The water proof outer cover. 3 came in the kit. The nice thing about these is that the inside is slick plastic so if she pees I can just wipe them down and re-use them. Sometimes she doesn't even soak all the way through the cloth diaper. I wash these only after several uses or if there were to ever get any poop on them. Notice all the snaps on the top, front section. Those are to adjust the size as she grows. It only comes in white which is only a small disadvantage. Right now I'm more concerned with the price fitting my budget than having cute colorful diapers. Right now being the operative two words...

4. This is what it looks like together - prefold folded in thirds and then laid flat into the cover. Then just put baby on it and snap it up! Easy breezy!

The next few photos are of things I've made myself. I've made a total of 2 fitted diapers which are basically a cloth diaper that fits like a disposable diaper. It needs a water-proof cover because it will soak through. I've made one with a soaking pad sew into the middle and then I made a pocket diaper that I can insert a soaker pad to add for more absorbancy. I've also made several soaker pads from Gerber Birdseye cloth diapers that I folded into fourths and hemmed the edges so they would stay together. I made large ones and small ones.

1. This is the first diaper I sewed with my mom. I already posted pictures of these on my Facebook. This one has velcro to keep it fastened and I sewed the soaker pad inside. I made this out of 2 flannel receiving blankets that were too small for Brooklyn, even as a new born.

2. This is the second fitted diaper I made. This one I made at my grandma Ross' house. I used an old red t-shirt, a flannel blanket and one birdseye cloth diaper for the 4 layers. This one took a little longer because I did all the sewing on the diaper itself. My grandma showed me how to use the machine. I messed up a lot! This one is a pocket diaper that you can insert the soaker pads (as many as you think you need). It does not have velcro so I would need pins or a snappi if I wanted to use it without a water-proof cover (which I won't be doing). I show the diaper and how to insert the soaker pad

^^^^ The pocket

^^^ Putting the soaker pad in. You could also put a prefold diaper in there as well.

What it looks like all closed up -- you can tell the the outer flaps were where the sleeves once were!

In the diaper cover (how she will wear it) -- see how it fits perfectly?? :)

3. These are the soaker pads that we made out of the Gerber birdseye cloth diapers. The way they come, they are very thin cloth diapers that aren't super sturdy. But they're great for making soaker pads like this or using as burp cloths too. I used them to make soaker pads and I think they came out very well.

I made long ones (top) and short ones (bottom) because they were too long if I didn't cut off the smaller portion. I figured the smaller ones can be added as a booster for extra absorbancy in the middle of the diaper at night or even during the day.

4. The Econobum diaper cover with my soaker pads in it

She has worn this combination several times already. I put one long soaker and one small soaker in the cover and then snap her up as tight as possible. I've not had a single leak and she can go around 2-3 hours in one of these (which I thought was pretty good!). I haven't let her go longer then that just because I worry about leaking and don't want that to happen.

This is a very cheap, easy to do cloth diapering method and I'm really proud of myself for sticking with it and doing this. I haven't had to by any fabric yet to make any of this. I have only had to buy the elastic, string, velcro and some good scissors to cut fabric. I still have plenty of flannel receiving blankets to use and TONS of old t-shirts we won't be wearing. I'm looking forward to making lots more of my own diapers and eventually being good enough to make some cute ones.

I'm currently waiting for my Sun Baby AIO diapers to come in that I ordered from eBay. They are very well priced and have gotten good enough reviews from the mom's who have used them. You can argue the price - 10 for $60 - that's a steal for AIO diapers. I can't wait to get them. They are coming from China though so it's taking a while. I am expecting to get them this week sometime.

Tomorrow I will be going back to my grandma's house to sew a new pattern I got from another mom on baby center. I'm looking forward to it. It looks a lot like a popular brand of fitted AIO's that I love but can't afford so I'm hoping to be able to do this pattern some justice! I will definitely post pictures when I finish some. I also want to post a video sometime of me sewing one so you can see me in action. I'm sure some of my family members are really wondering just what that looks

Well, I hope you all enjoyed seeing the fruits of my labor and how different cloth diapering has come since the "olden days" of when I was cloth diapered. I hope to be able to cloth diaper all my kids and save lots of money since I plan on having 4. Yikes!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fun with colors

Someone slap me. She is too cute to be real. Seriously. I just can't get over this much cuteness in one place! This is one of the last things Brooklyn did at our Christmas celebration on Tuesday with Waylon's cousins. We call them "The Miller Clan" and we always have a great time with them. They are all like brothers and sisters to Waylon and his aunt and uncle are second parents to Waylon as well. 

What a cute smile!!

At first she was a little confused as to what she was supposed to do.

We had a great time and are looking forward to spending Christmas Day with my Grandma and Grandpa Ross and then Sunday we will have the Woolbright Christmas. We also had an amazing Christmas outreach at our church called "A Day in Bethlehem". We had a petting zoo, lots of crafts, free family photos and lots of visitors! It was great! Our church members really did an awesome job coming together to make this happen. Thank you members of GracePointe Baptist church! We may be few but we are mighty with God's hand!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

5 month birthday!

Our little princess turned 5 months today. I can't believe it. I know all mothers say this, but I'll say it again - they grow so fast! Here are a few new things she is doing now:

- she can sit up with just a little bit of assistance and soon will be sitting up all on her own.

- she can hold her bottle when she drinks it. Sometimes we have to put it back in her mouth because she'll squeeze too tight and pop it out of her mouth. But she does really good holding it in place!

- She laughs on a regular basis now and we can't get enough of her giggles!

- She now notices when she's in her bouncer or exersaucer if we walk away and will cry to be picked up. Before it seemed like she didn't really notice and when she cried it was more that she was just unhappy. Now it's very clear that she wants to be held. She gives me the saddest look as if to ask "Why are you leaving me here and not holding me??" I, of course, can never resist and end up picking her up and cuddling her. 

- When I put my face up close to hers, she will put both hands up and grab my fast and try to pull me in closer to her like she wants to kiss me but then she just wallers her face on mine.

- She has discovered her feet and loves to hold them and pull them and play with them. It's the cutest thing.

- She holds and plays with her toys now on a regular basis and can entertain herself for quite a while.

- She sticks her tongue out and thinks it's really funny.

And now for some pictures...

Having a good time on her exersaucer
She likes the way her mittens taste!

Look at those eyes!!

She likes to hold her arms out like that.

What a cutie!
It looks like she was about to clap here...but she wasn't.

Remember when I said she can hold her own bottle??? See...I wasn't lying...

I will be making a post soon about my cloth diapering endeavor. There have been some new developments and experiments. I'm very excited about it. 

I also have to write about a book I am currently reading called "The House That Cleans Itself", which, in my opinion, is amazing.

Lastly, I cannot end this post without mentioning a HUGE blessing we received this week. I believe it was Friday evening that I called my dad and told him we were going to need to start looking for a new dishwasher because the one we have is super old, doesn't have the heating/drying component working and now the soap dispenser doesn't open in the wash cycle so the soap doesn't end up coming out. It's all very frustrating. Dishes are sopping wet and not clean at the end of each wash! Yuck! forward to Sunday when I am having a Mary Kay party at my good friend and co-worker Sabrina's house when low and behold she mentions that they are about to post their dishwasher on Craig's list to sell for $80. It came with their fancy new house and is a brand new, black and stainless steel Frigidaire. It was making a high pitched sound at one point in the cycle and they called to get it fixed and instead of fixing it, the guy just brought a new one and didn't want the older one. So...when I heard her mention this and that she was selling it for $80 I told her we would buy it! Then her husband threw out a better offer of $50 since we are such amazing friends (lol) and then Sabrina sweetened the deal even more by saying she would be willing to just pick out $50 of MK stuff in exchange for the dishwasher. Now THAT is a deal you can't refuse!! Godfather, eat your heart out! So, Josh kindly loads up the dishwasher in the PT Cruiser (the seats all fold down so it fit perfectly even with a stroller, car seat and big tub of MK product!) and off I went with a beautiful new (slightly squeaky) dishwasher. My dad and Waylon are installing it tonight. They are at Home Depot right now buying a little piece they need to finish installing and then I will be in dish washing heaven! Cannot wait!! It's amazing how God works things out so perfectly like this. Sabrina and Josh were able to bless us with a real need and God saw that it came to pass. Thank you Lord and thank you Sabrina and Josh! 

I think this is about all I can post right now. There is a lot going on around me and I'm getting quite antsy about my dishwasher. Of course, I will have pictures of it for you to see because I know you are as excited about a new stainless steel dishwasher as I am!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A new endeavor

This week we are getting down to the last package of diapers that were given to us before Brooklyn was born. We were greatly blessed with lots and lots of diapers to the point where, in the 4 1/2 months that Brooklyn has been alive, we have yet to buy a single package of diapers! Yes, you read that correctly! We have not bought any diapers sine our Brooklyn was born. It has been a huge blessing to us and for any first time moms or moms who will be getting baby showers for their second child, I would highly recommend a wipes and diapers shower. It was the best thing. That being said, we have reached the end of our stash of diapers and will have to start buying them ourselves when this current pack of diapers ends. As I realized this, I decided to look into cloth diapering. I did tons of research! It became an obsession! Ask Waylon. We would be talking about one thing and then I would change the subject to cloth diapering and he would not realize I had changed topics and think I was talking about our previous conversation. He got confused quite a few times, poor guy.

I never imagined in a million years that cloth diapering would be so involved and have SO MANY options! It was quite overwhelming at the beginning. It didn't take me too long to find the kind I was interested in and then from there I was able to eliminate some brands and types of cloth diapers. I can see how if I do end up getting into this and actually stick to it (that remains to be seen!), I will have to really put a tight limit on how many diapers I can buy and not lose complete control buying all these cute cloth diapers and diaper covers! It's crazy how much cute stuff is out there. 

So through all my research, I've found a few brands that I would love to try out. Bum Genius is by far the most popular one I've seen. They seem very high quality and have great reviews. They are also on the higher end of the price range so it will be a while before I buy one. I will have to really show complete commitment to cloth diapering to allow myself to buy one of those more expensive ones. Thirsties is another brand that seemed popular and have good reviews, as well as Fuzzibunz. There are two brands that are new that came out by the same makers of Bum Genius. They are cloth diapers for people on a budget, like me! Econobum and Flip are the two I ended up narrowing my focus on. I read so many reviews and looked at so many women's pictures of their children in these cloth diapers on - you would think I was OCD about this or something. I really wanted to know what "real" people thought of using these diapers and whether they were total crap or totally worth the price. I ended up buying a starter kit box of the Econobum. It's the most basic cloth diapering system I found -- and by FAR the cheapest. My box came with 3 white diaper covers and 12 unbleached, prefolds. They are very simple to use. Fold up the prefold and place it in the cover and then snap the cover onto baby. The cover is adjustable and should fit Brooklyn up to potty training. It is adjustable with snaps. I tried one tonight and only left it on for about an hour b/c it was almost time for Brooklyn to go to bed. I didn't want to leave it on her all night since I don't know yet how well these diapers work on her yet. Putting the diaper on was easy enough. I fumbled a bit but it's my first time and Brooklyn was being very fussy and kicking her legs. (I found out later why she was so fussy --- BIG POOP!) It was quite a bit bulkier than her disposable diapers BUT not as bulky as I imagined it would be. I'm sure I'll get better at folding them too so they won't be as bulky. I also bought the special laundry soap to wash the diapers in. It's called Charlie's Soap and is supposedly an all natural, eco-friendly, nothing-but-soap, soap. I didn't know this before, but, you can't wash cloth diapers in regular detergent because all the softeners and other stuff in there puts a coating on fabric which, in diapers, decreases their absorbency. So, this Charlie's Soap has nothing but soap (no scent even, just clean smell) and won't leave any residue. The guy I bought this from said that he now uses it for all his family's laundry because it just makes the clothes softer. I'll have to see if this is true. 

By the way, the website for my cloth diaper "dealer" is - he is local, in Arlington and does free delivery to anywhere in the DFW metroplex. If you are interested in cloth diapering, you should go check out what he has. 

Anyway, back to my story. I think what I'm going to start with since I don't have enough diapes to use cloth full-time is only using them on the weekends (Saturday & Sunday). That way, I have all week to wash them and get them ready for use on the weekend and it will get me in the groove of things and let me see if this is something I could handle full-time. I would love the money savings of doing it full-time, BUT, it will still save us money if we only do it on the weekends. Every cloth diaper we use means one less disposable is being used. If, by Christmas time, I'm loving the cloth diapering, I will probably buy one more box of the Econobum so I have a good little starting stash. Then I'll go from there.

Now, let me end this with saying that, there is a chance I will find that I HATE this. If that is the case, I will be honest on here and I won't make any excuses and I will sell my cloth diapers. I'm hoping this isn't the case. One thing I know for sure is that I'm not going to just give up and quick right off the bat when something doesn't work immediately or even if I struggle through the whole weekend trying to figure this out. I'm going to give it a good, honest, long run. I gave up so quickly on breast feeding and I look back on it now and feel a tinge of guilt. I don't feel guilty in the sense that I feel like my daughter isn't getting good nutrition. I fully believe that she is as healthy as can be on this formula and obviously if formula was bad for babies, they wouldn't sell it and we would all have issues because of it. Anyway, the guilt I feel is that I didn't try to stick it out longer and see if it would get better. I quit when it was at it's worse and about to get better. Now, we have spent a pretty penny on formula and I look back and wonder if I had stuck it out, would we not be so tight on money? I don't know. What I am certain of though is that I would not have been able to continue breast feeding at full capacity once I went back to work. I don't have a break till 2 in the afternoon and would not be able to wait till then to pump everyday. That just wouldn't work! So that's my biggest consolation is that I probably still wouldn't be breast feeding today even if I hadn't quit so soon.

So now I try something new that could potentially save us quite a bit of money and save the environment. We'll see if I can handle it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's the little things in life...

This post is dedicated to all the things I use in my everyday life, whether they be little or big, that just make my day go better. Some of them are actual necessities that the over-all majority of people would agree are things they also need to get through the day (i.e. phone, car, purse (for women) and wallet for guys). But then there are our personal "must haves" that we like and even sometimes feel that we need in order to get through our day. I got to thinking about this not too long ago when I inadvertently forgot my phone at my parents house and then another day when I left my lunch bag that keeps food cold/hot at work and forgot to bring it home with me so I ended up having to take my lunch in a Target bag. Don't you hate it when that happens?? I do.  I get down right indignant when I realize I've forgotten an important piece of "anything" that I'm used to having and using in my day-to-day routine. Here are a few things that if I were to find myself without them, would put me in a tizzy!

My cell phone. This has got to be #1 on my list of things I get totally irate when I discover I have left it somewhere and don't have it with me. It's not a nice fancy phone, which used to be what I always had - the latest and greatest. In fact, I didn't spend a dime on this phone. It was given to us. I don't have internet on it but I can call, text and take/send pictures which is really all I need right now. It is sad that I feel the need to have this communication device on me at all times when I know people survived without it for centuries. BUT, my excuse now is that I have a baby and I need to be able to be contacted at any time when she is not in my care AND I need to be able to contact whoever is taking care of her at any time when I feel the need to. 

Now the next thing on my list of things I must have/use during the day is my wonderful, cute little Macbook. I love it! I bought it at the beginning of this year when there was a sale on them. They normally run for $1000 and I got it for $800 (after a $200 mail-in rebate). She works like a charm and she's so cute and portable and the perfect size. I love the keys and love the color. If they had it in hot pink, I probably would have gotten it in that color, but alas...I love white electronics too. The things I do everyday on my computer are: check my blog (of course) and read all the blogs I subscribe to, go on Baby Center and see all the new posts from the groups I'm a part of (July 2009 Birth Club, Cloth Diaper Sewing 101, Cloth Diapering, Formula Feeding Moms and Working Moms...phew! That's a lot of groups!), get on Facebook and check my bank account. I also look at pictures of my adorable daughter, as you can see in the picture! By the way, that was total coincidence, that she was the picture on my screen when I took the picture...ahem...cough, cough...

My purse is the next thing I can't really do without throughout my day to day activities. This is the purse I got for my birthday from my parents. I picked it out. I love it! It holds a lot and has dividers for separating things. I have one side for my planner and other papers and then one side for my wallet and makeup bag and other things I use a lot. If you're wondering what is right behind it in black and white, that's Brooklyn's sling that I got at Target. I didn't think I would use it at first because she seemed to big for it, but I found one of the ways you can hold the baby in it, works for her and she likes it so I've started using it in conjunction with the one my good friend made for me.

Last, but most definitely not least, is something I've been striving to make a part of my daily life without fail. It's a different type of communicating device: God communicating to us. It's my Bible. This particular one is one that I have taken with me several places. I recently brought it back from work where it had been resting in my desk there for the few times I've been able to pull it out and read it during my conference period for a few minutes. I found a paperback Bible of mine that I've decided to keep at work instead and brought this one home to keep in my devotional spot (which is in the recliner by the front window). This is a NKJV, which I love. It still has the authenticity of the KJV but simplifies the old English language so that it is easier to understand. NKJV is actually my favorite translation. Second to that is the ESV which stands for English Standard Version. When I've compared these two in the past, I've found them very similar with the ESV having a more modern language, obviously. 

p.s. Excuse the dust in the picture with my Bible. I would love to say that I dust regularly and that right after taking this picture I got my duster out and got it all clean...BUT, no, I didn't. All that dust is still right where it is in the picture. I might dust this week. It's my least favorite house chore along with cleaning toilets. I don't know why dusting is such a dreaded chore either, it's probably one of the easiest tasks as far as amount of energy needed to get it done. Who knows...

So there you have it. Just a few of my "must haves" to get through the day. What are yours?