12.20.2011

Forward Thinking: Diapering, The Finale

I know I claimed to have my final results before, but that was before I truly experienced the diaper that rocked my world. I now can safely say this is the diapering finale post. The search is over! This diaper has passed all my tests and then some. Absorbent, cute, trim, easy. Even the grandparents have no trouble with this one. And it still fits my 37lb monster! What is this wonderful diaper, you ask? Grovia!



I've tried the all-in-one and all-in-two (hybrid), and while I do love both, the AIO simply got too small. So, hybrid it is! (And snaps, not aplix. Less fuss.) I love being able to switch between disposable and cloth inserts while using the same cover. And I love that the fibers are natural. They clean up so nice and are absolutely trouble-free (just use a stay-dry liner for naps right now but stay-dry inserts are on there way!). I know. I know. I know. I said I hated the cover/insert system, but it's really so much easier than having to change and wash an entire diaper each time I change. I use 2-3 shells a day, and even if poo does get on the shell, it's so easy to wash it out really quickly if I want to. The inserts snap in and out, and at about $8 per insert that makes the total diapering cost very economical (depending on shell usage). As for night time, I've decided to stick with disposables. What can I say? They're dependable, even with baby's fluctuating intake/output. And I need stability and simplicity. I might try Grovia at night with our next baby.

And now, accessories. Wipes and liners: Target flushable toddler wipes for poo diapers and Grovia cloth wipes. It's really a lot easier to use cloth wipes with cloth diapers because I'm already putting the diaper in a wet bag. Why mess with the extra step of throwing away a disposable wipe? Flushable wipes will go down the potty with the poo anyways. Simple process. As for liners, I currently use stay-dry suede cloth liners that I made and Imse Vimse flushable liners. Though, really just about any flushable liner will do the job. Will probably try Grovia liners when I run out. Rash cream: two words--Magic Stick! This is the best diaper rash paste/cream/balm I've tried yet. It even beats out the chemically stuff. And it smells so good. :-) Next up, detergent. Tiny Bubbles. Best detergent ever! My diapers started to stink while using Crunchy Clean, so since I switched my entire stash over to Grovia, I decided to switch to Grovia's detergent. Only made sense. So glad I did! Not only did it get the stinkies out, but it also is cheaper, requires fewer scoops per load, and cleans up so well! Lastly, dryer balls. I use Bouncing Woolies (pink sugar scent) and absolutely love the smell and the fact that they help decrease drying time, which is important on rainy days and winter weather (which, let's face it, doesn't happen that much in TX) and lazy days :-). And that about does it. I'm so glad to have this decision settled! Next up, Grovia training pants and then (in God's time) Grovia newborn diapers!

11.02.2011

Lions and Tigers and...Giraffes, oh my!

I've been meaning to write this up for a very long time. It's been crazy around here. And this is even rushed, which frustrates me. But, here it is! Noah had his first zoo experience in September at the Abilene Zoo. It was possibly the funnest zoo trip I've ever been on. It was amazing, touching, and exhausting. We're definitely going back! Thanks to Mom and Dad for helping me chase my little monkey around. His faves? Monkeys and any form of bird. I took a TON of pictures, so here are a few. Mommy had some photog fun as well (seen in the smaller column of pics on the right). The Abilene Zoo is definitely not what I remembered it to be. It's BETTER! Or maybe everything's better when you're with a child? (To view collage larger on a desktop, hold down the Ctrl key and punch the + key several times. Again, I need better photog software.)


9.14.2011

Photography: A Pixelating Tale, The Beginning

Mrs. Shilcutt came to our 4th grade classroom that day. She brought each of us a throw-away camera. After a small discussion about photography, she gave us our cameras and told us, "Go take a picture of whatever you want. But, you only have one shot." ONE shot? For this pre-disposed Nervous Nelly that was like signing my life away. Ok, it's got to be perfect. THE shot. How do I encapsulate all my being in this ONE shot? What subject do I choose? What angle? As I fumbled through these (what I now recognize as) limitations, I walked aimlessly around the school playground where my class was set loose to discover their inner photog.

I'd always liked taking pictures. What little kid doesn't? But this? This was a task to which I assigned my entire being: my soul, my heart, my belief, my worth, my perfectionism. I had to take the perfect shot so I could create something. Something that embodied Melody. (Cuz I couldn't just take a picture. Everything had to have layers of meaning and attachment. Dramatic? Yes. Would you expect any less from a 4th grade girl?)

So, I bumbled around knowing that it would just come to me, like divine inspiration. Then. I spotted far in the distance the school flag pole with the American flag waving proudly. This was it! My shot! The be-all end-all of shots! So, I raised my one-shot camera to my untrained eye, carefully (and at some length) framed the flag in my view at just the right angle, waiting for the perfect flag waive, and *click*. I was so proud. So fulfilled. So sure.

We all headed back to class and to the long wait for Mrs. Shilcutt to develop all of our one-shots. She returned a few days later. I sat at my desk writhing in anticipatory agony as she laid our prints out on a table. She told us to come find ours. I jumped up and approached the photo-laiden table. Full of joy, excitement, pride, elation...disbelief, horror, shock, embarrassment. My one-shot pic of that perfectly-timed and placed flag pole was a mere speck at the top of a brown, dry landscape of school building and Texas grass. In my mind, I had titled my perfect pic something like "Proud to be an American," but that quickly changed to something like "Who am I?"

I hadn't known that at great distances, if you want to capture one single image, you need a ZOOM. I hadn't known that throw-away cameras don't really focus that well. And I hadn't known that the experience would stick with me for so long. I don't remember picking up another camera for the purpose of inspired photography til the summer before my senior year in high school. (When I had to re-realize the limitations of my camera and self as untrained photographer, a lesson I'm still learning but eager to learn this time. Finally!)

The photog bug has bitten me multiple times, but instead of giving up altogether, I've kept trying. This time I'm motivated. After having my son, Noah, and being introduced to the world of mothers-turned-photogs (which is a vast and uncharted world for most), my vision changed. I got inspired by color palettes (like this from my friend, Lindsey), precious little boy moments and photoblogging (like this from my friend, Rachel), and style ( like this from styleberryPHOTO mom, Shawna). I started seeing my baby through a lens without even having one. I started taking mental pics of buildings and moments in public places and imagining them printed on canvas, grouped in a collage, and edited for color correction (see my first attempts at collaging here and here). And when unsatisfied with my iPhonography and still avoiding making a big purchase of photography equipment I felt (and still feel) unsuited for, I downloaded the Hipstamatic app and went to town. This has only fueled my photog fire. The great thing about this app is its randomness. It's teaching me the best lesson of all, which is to stop putting limitations on myself and just GO! With the shake of my phone I get a random lens and random film, so I never know what the pic will look like. (This has just begun to annoy me, however, cuz I end up taking a million shots shake and shake and shake.) Most of the photos I'm inspired by have been complete accidents. For the perfectionist planner in me, this is terrifying! But, what a joy and relief. I'm still loving this kind of photography, but I'm now eager to train myself a bit more. Still, I feel blessed to have had the chance to get comfortable with the randomness and unpredictability. I hear it's good to not limit yourself as a photographer. I'm not starting a business. I want to do this for me, for fun. So, here's to new adventures, limitless living, and a new vision!

Here are my latest attempts and pics that have inspired me... (please excuse the crude collages, photoshop is also on the list.)




8.25.2011

Forward Thinking: Diapering, Trial & Result

When starting on this journey, I was so excited that I bought the only cloth diaper I could find in a brick and mortar store and jumped in bum first. But, as soon as I got started, summer brought a yeast rash, which took two months to get rid of, which required disposables. But, did I let that slow me down. No way! I used that time to step back and research all types and brands I could get my eyes on and develop a "want-to-try" list. So, here is my list and my reasoning behind each trial purchase, along with my trial experience, conclusions, and final result.

TRIAL

I described the different types in my first cloth diaper post but will summarize briefly as I explain my experience with each that I tried. My baseline goal and, therefore, litmus for all dipes was this: easy to change (like changing a disposable cuz that's what I and everyone who might possibly change my baby is used to), trim (cuz let's face it, I'm a baby clothes fanatic, so no matter how cute the dipe, it's gotta fit under the clothing cuteness), easy to travel with (don't want to change my whole system just to travel), easy to launder (I'm no Betty Draper/Francis, so the easier the laundry the better), stay-dry (cuz no way do I wanna risk yeast again, and I'm not into changing a diaper every 2hrs), comfy for baby (obvious), one-size (will truly fit newborn to toddler), absorbent (day: 3+hrs between changes, nap: 3+hrs, night: 11+hrs), and price.

The three types I settled on trying were covers (with insert lain inside), pockets (with insert stuffed), and all-in-ones (w/ insert sewn in). I chose to forgo fitteds (basically a non-waterproof diaper) since they require a cover, and it seemed like diapering twice, which I thought was weird. Although, I hear it's a good night option. Maybe I'll try that if I ever get desperate. Not even going there with prefolds. No...way. More power to ya, prefold mamas!
I initially settled on the cover/insert method because I was scared of going "full cloth." My reasoning behind this, besides being most cost-effective, was that it seemed easier to just lay the insert in the cover and at change time let it air-dry (or wash it out if poopy) and reuse it. This also meant only needing special laundering for the inserts since covers can launder with regular clothes. After trying this for a few weeks, I came to hate the cover/insert combo for full-time diapering. Why, you say? Because it's the least like disposable diapering, time-consuming, complex in laundering, difficult to get stay-dry, and confusing for others who might change my baby. The fit is flexible, the absorbency is customizable, and the trim factor is high. But, the ease of use really depends on what kind you use, so let me break down the different kinds I tested out and explain why I ultimately decided on this option for the occasional need.

gDiapers
This is probably the cutest, most modern diaper cover system out there. I love, love, love them...but only for the cute factor.

easy to change: Nope. This system comes with snap-in insert pouches (which you can read more about here), so not only do you have to take out the insert, but you also have to unsnap the pouch, rinse that if it's poopy, and resnap a new one into the same cover (or use a different pre-prepped one, but that leaves you to deal with the used one still), and if the cover gets leaked on (which will happen despite the manufacturer's assurance that it won't) you have to get a new one. Then, there's the laundry prep. The pouch goes into a lingerie bag so it doesn't get stretched out the in wash, the insert goes into a wet bag, and the cover goes into the regular clothes laundry. Complex. Also, putting this diaper on isn't easy. Even gDiapers has a special video and tips online helping parents figure out how to put this one. Once you get it though, it's not that hard. Just a big learning curve. You have to make sure the pouch fits in the leg creases like underwear and the velcro, that is backwards from regular diaper fasteners (it close in the back), takes some getting used to. Can't do it too tight or it'll leak, can't do it too loose or it'll leak, can't do it too high or too low or it'll leak. So, all to say, not an easy diaper for someone who's unpracticed to use. But, after I did it about 5 times, I was a pro. But we all know diapers fit differently as baby gets older, so new learning curve with every new fit.

trim: Very! This is the trimmest diaper out there because it's a cover (which is trimmer in general) and sized, small to xl. (They do have a newborn too, but it's a different product altogether.)

easy to launder: Yes and no. The complex laundry prep really affects this. The laundering itself is fine. The covers and pouches wash easily with regular clothes and line dry in a couple hours. The inserts wash like all cloth inserts do. The grade down here is because of all the diverse parts. Just not a simple system.

easy to travel with: Absolutely not. Because of the complexity involved in the changing of the diaper and the laundering, this diaper drove me nuts on our Beach Trip this summer. Again, this is affected by all the different parts of this system. Even when out for just a couple hours, the pouch will eventually need to be unsnapped and put into the lingerie bag, the insert into a wet bag, and the cover into the hamper. It's not as simple as just taking it off and putting it all into a wet bag, all to be dumped into the wash later.

stay-dry: Yes, as long as the insert being used has stay-dry material on top, which means either buying those rare and expensive stay-dry inserts or laying a stay-dry liner on top...every...time...you...change. (or disposable inserts...LOVE gDiapers disposable inserts!) No, if the cover gets wet, and it will at some point, cuz it's just cotton.

comfy for baby: Not really. Noah never complained, but the pouch leaves red marks in the leg creases, and the waist band can get tight and pinch in cuz it's thick elastic.

one-size: No. And the sizes run small, so you have to size up before expected. Also, since the pouches lose their waterproofness over time, you have to replace them every 6 months, according to company suggestion. Even after a few weeks of use, some of mine were already showing signs of wear.

absorbent: No, not to my standards, at least. You can use whatever inserts you want, but I couldn't get 3+ hrs out of it without it leaking, no matter what cloth insert I used (disposable inserts rock my socks off but are expensive to use full-time), since there's less room for liquid containment in the pouch as opposed to a whole diaper.

price: about $17-$20 (2-pack at Babies R Us for $27)

Ok, the cute factor is great here. Really love the prints of these covers. Hate the velcro. Gotta go with snaps. Not loving the plasticky-ness.

easy to change: Moderately. Remove the insert, place it in a wet bag, and either let the cover air-dry (or wash out poopy and then air-dry) between uses. I like the fact that you can reuse the cover and that there are only two pieces to mess with. However, when putting on a new dipe, you have to make sure the insert doesn't shift in the cover. This and many covers have flaps in the front or back to hold the insert in place, but this doesn't really work that well, and since I have a boy, I need the insert on top of the flap in front. 

trim: Yes. Most cover and insert systems are going to be trim, depending on how many inserts you use. This one isn't as trim as gDiapers because it's not sized.

easy to launder: Yes. Covers go in regular clothes hamper. Inserts go in wet bag. Pretty simple. Still not as easy as just dumping it all in one place though. And if you're using velcro, you have to fold it back on the laundry tabs so it doesn't catch in the washer. It's just one more step, but when changing a baby, every little step affects things.

easy to travel with: Not really. Because you have to air-dry the wet cover, if you want to reuse it later. And the insert goes in a wet bag. Where does the cover go while air drying? Do I put a poopy cover in the wet bag with the insert if I can't rinse it out? Sure, it can go in the insert laundry too. Well, now I'll have to remember to pull that cover out of the wash before drying so I can line dry it. Not the simplest system to travel with.

stay-dry: Again, as long as your insert is.

comfy for baby: Pretty much. It's comfier than gDiapers, for sure, but this cover is so plasticky feeling to me.

one-size: Sorta. Thirsties is a two-size system. I don't mind this.

absorbent: Again, depends on your inserts. There is a lot more room here than gDiapers, so I had no problem during the day. I did have some issues going over 3hrs at naps and couldn't for the life of me get two inserts to work at night in this cover. I used Kawaii microfiber inserts, which give me no problems in pocket dipes.

price: $13 for solids, $14 for prints

Grovia Shell
Love, love, love this cover! The velcro is amazing (which is so nice for quick changes), and the prints are the best! My favorite feature besides these is the cloth-like feel. It's not plasticky!

easy to change: Somewhat. My feelings here are pretty much the same as for Thirsties. You can air-dry if wet, but you can't wash out if poopy since the inside is material instead of waterproof. But it gets a boost in this area cuz of the velcro.

trim: Yes. Very trim.

easy to launder: Yeah, pretty much the same as Thirsties.

easy to travel with: Again, same as Thirsties. The drawback to this one is actually a pro for me. Since it's not waterproof, you can't reuse it if it's poopy. But, this makes changes more like disposables since you toss it with the insert when poopy.

stay-dry: Again, same as Thirsties and gDiapers. Just depends on what inserts you use. I've pretty much resolved to using covers with disposable inserts only.

comfy for baby: Absolutely. This cover isn't plasticky at all, so it feels like a regular cloth diaper. The trimness between the legs also helps. Thirsties is bulkier between the legs.

one-size: Yep! And still not too bulky when on the smaller settings.

absorbent: Again, depends on your inserts. I've only used disposables in this and had total success, but you can't really go wrong with those.

price: $17, kinda pricey for a cover you can't rinse and reuse.


Kawaii Cover
This...is...my...cover! I love, love, love this cover. It's not the cutest, but it fits beautifully, feels soft and thin (so is trim and comfy), and is reusable like Thirsties but without being as plasticky. I won't break down all the categories cuz it's basically the same as the others but with those little differences. AND...here's the kicker...it's only $6.45 ($4.90 if you buy direct)! Need I say more?

Covers Conclusion: I will definitely keep the Grovia I currently own and possibly get another one when I see another cute print. I love that it's one-size, soft material, and has killer velcro. Thirsties is a good cover. Love the cute prints and double leg gussets. But, since it's not one-size, I'd have to buy more. Oh darn! Honestly, I don't think I'll go with this cover because of the plasticky feel and the thickness. Very thick material. Which is good for waterproofing, but not the best for wearing. Again, might have one on hand for those "just in case" moments. gDiapers, probably won't ever use these. I sold all mine. And gMoms are NUTS! Seriously, that community is like beanie baby fever on crack! If I get interested in them again simply for the cute factor (and cuz I just know how to use them now), I'll most likely just purchase a couple, use the disposable inserts, and save them for special occasions or "just in case" moments. But, when I need to use a cover, I'll go with Kawaii. It's the cheapest, softest option I tried, and since I won't be using this system full-time, there's no reason to get anything else.
I decided to give pockets a try simply because most cloth diapers are pockets. I had to see what that was all about. I was hesitant at first because you have to stuff the insert inside the diaper and then remove it before washing, so it seemed like a lot to do. I ended up being pleasantly surprised. I'll do the break-down all in one swoop, noting any variances, since these are all pretty similar.

easy to change: Yes. Pretty much just like changing a disposable, except that you have to remove the insert before putting the diaper in the wet bag (unless you wanna mess with that at laundry time, but no one wants to do that). Note: Charlie Banana and Bububibi have the pocketing opening in the front, which elliminates the need to touch poo when changing a dirty diaper. I'm a fan of the front opening. Also, the flap over in the front of the CB allows for a seamless, easy change, instead of having to mess with tucking any material in as you do with most pockets.

trim: Charlie Banana, yes. The trimmest all-cloth diaper I've used. Others, no. The snap-down rise system of the others create a massive bulk between the legs when on smaller settings, and on the large setting the others are bulkier either because of their bulkier inserts, girth of material, or minky fabric outer.

easy to launder: Yes, just dump everything in the wash together then dry in dryer or line dry.

easy to travel with: Yep. Since the change is so similar to a disposable, you just put the whole thing in a small wet bag and put a new one on. Charlie Banana is the best here because the trimness makes packing easy.

stay-dry: Charlie Banana and Kawaii Snazzy Minky, yes. Others, no.

comfy for baby: Yes. All the ones I tried have soft microfleece or bamboo everywhere they touch baby. The only drawback to comfort is with the bamboo dipes cuz I put a stay-dry liner inside, which can bunch up, and the snap-down rise snaps can bother baby's legs (not a problem with Charlie Banana, see below).

one-size: Yep. I discovered that I prefer the leg elastic adjustment of Charlie Banana over the snap-down rise system of the others. It leaves a cleaner look, gives a more customizable fit, and doesn't hurt baby's legs like snaps can.

absorbent: Charlie Banana wins hands-down. It lasts well over 3hrs with only 1 insert while still remaining very, very trim. The others have good absorbency but are much bulkier.

price: Really varies depending on the diaper. Kawaii and Bububibi is a very inexpensive option, with dipes ranging from $6-$13. Charlie Banana is about $20. Blueberry is more expensive, the one I tried at $24.
Kawaii Snazzy Minky
Charlie Banana




Kawaii Goodnight Heavy Wetter 








Bububibi Bamboo



Kawaii Bamboo Minky Mom Label



















Blueberry Bamboo Minky



















Pockets Conclusion: Charlie Banana is the winner! Not only did this diaper pass all my absorbency tests, but it's simple to use, stay-dry, trim, one-size, and clean looking without the snap-down rise. The only drawback is the need to stuff and unstuff the insert. If this were made into a sleeve diaper, it'd be my perfect diaper. It's also available at many locations, including Amazon, Babies R Us, Target, Diapers.com, charliebanana.com, and various online stores. I'll keep the minky dipes just for fun since I love how soft they are.
There are two kinds of all-in-ones (aio): those with the insert sewn completely into the inside of the diaper (takes forever to dry) and those with the insert on the top sewn down on one end (dries quicker). I prefer the latter since it dries much faster, as fast as pockets. I love the aio because of its ease of use...the closest to changing a disposable that you can get with a cloth diaper. They're a bit pricier than pockets, but rightly so. The biggest negative is they rarely come in stay-dry materials.

GoGreen Champ 2.0
Ok, I know this is technically a "sleeve diaper," but I'm lumping it in with aio because you don't have to take the insert out when changing.

easy to change: Very. Don't have to remove the insert.

trim: Not really. The one I tried was minky though, which contributes to bulk. It does have a snap-down rise though, which also makes it bulky when snapped to smaller settings.

easy to launder: Yep. The insert agitates out in the wash. You might have to restuff if the insert comes unsnapped. (snaps inside on one end) And the suede cloth lining doesn't stain as easily as microfleece.

easy to travel with: Yes but bulky to pack.

stay-dry: Yep. Suede Cloth.

comfy for baby: Yes.

one-size: Yes.

absorbent: Not to my standards. Only lasted 2 hours with me.

price: $14


Grovia AIO
If this diaper had been stay-dry, it would've been almost perfect!

easy to change: Extremely. Don't have to do a thing. Exactly like changing a disposable cuz the insert is sewn in on one end.

trim: Very. This was the best fitting, trimmest looking diaper along with Charlie Banana. Except at night...had to add extra snap-in booster and stay-dry booster, which created more bulk.

easy to launder: Very. Just throw it in, dry, and ready to go. However, the drawback to organic cotton is that it absorbs so much that if it sits too long it'll start to disintegrate. If you don't wash 24-48hrs after changing, you could lose your diaper. Not cool.

easy to travel with: Yep. Easy to change and trim to pack.

stay-dry: No. :-( They do make stay-dry liners, but having to add that not only added another step but also bulk.

comfy for baby: Mostly. The sides are very stretchy, but the trimness caused it to be a bit small for my toddler at 33lbs.

one-size: Yes, but probably won't go all the way to 40lbs.

absorbent: Yes. Passed all my tests but got bulky at night with all the inserts I had to add.

price: $23


Itti Bitti Bitti Tutto 
My very least favorite diaper. Technically a snap-in diaper, but because you don't have to unstuff the inserts before washing, I lumped it into aio.

easy to change: Depends. Don't have to do anything, unless you have the extra snap-in booster, which you have to unsnap and resnap after washing.

trim: A resounding NO! Fattest diaper on the planet, in my opinion. Noah was literally waddling.

easy to launder: Yes, because the inserts stay snapped in and flap around in the washer and dryer.

easy to travel with: Sorta. Easy to change makes it easy to travel with, but the bulk doesn't.

stay-dry: Yep.

comfy for baby: The waist seemed tight and had an awkward fit for Noah, so I'd have to say "no" here, simply based on that.

one-size: Yes, the company claims the diaper will fit up to 45lbs, but at 33lbs it was tight on the last waist snap.

absorbent: I don't really know. Noah only wore it less than an hour before he pooped in it. It did contain the poo, but I was so turned off by the other negative features that I didn't even bother with it again.

price: Crazy expensive at $27.

*side note: the snap-in inserts are so crazy and complicated that it turned me completely off from the beginning. I'm sure once you give it a fighting chance and take the time to test out each option, you'll get the hang of it. But, no thanks! I want something simple!

AIO Conclusion: If the Grovia had been stay-dry, it would've been my fave next to Charlie Banana. I might consider getting some again for times I need an easy change (babysitters), but the added need to put in a stay-dry liner bums me out.

Result

I'm going all cloth with Charlie Banana pocket diapers! All cloth, all the time...well, most of the time. I'm reserving cover and disposable insert times to any time a rash needs treatment with chemical-based ointment or when all the cloth is being washed. I thought I'd use the cover/insert system while being out and about, but it turns out that all cloth is easier cuz I can just dump the whole dipe in my wet bag and put on a new dipe, just like changing a disposable. And as far as accessories go, well that's a whole different post. I'll get to that and laundering. Two words though: flushable liners.

Where to buy: For Charlie Banana, go here for a list of vendors. For all other diapering needs, I suggest Jack Be Natural

8.16.2011

Forward Thinking: The Girly What-If's

(Preface: I do not believe in molding girls to put stock soley in their appearance. I do believe in taking care of yourself and having fun with fashion.)

What if our next baby is a girl? We'll be all frills, THAT's what! My mind has been playing around with all the girly what-if's lately. Of course, I'd be happy with another boy. But, if we have a girl next, the frilly prissiness in me is bound to come out. In full effect. With ruffles. And glitter.

Three fashion trends caught my eye recently, and I have to share.

First, the petticoat:

Source: zulily.com via Melody on Pinterest


Oh, the petticoat! All you gender stereotype analytics, take a break for a moment. I LOVED getting all dressed up when I was little, and if I have a girl, I want her to have that experience too. And if this turns out to be something she likes to wear to show her personality and be independent, then I'm for it. I will not force her into to. I will get one and let her try, and if she doesn't like it, she will not wear it.

Second, the ruffled romper:

Can you imagine anything more vintage chic?! So. Beautiful. And easy for summer.

Third, baby leggings:

I've already started Noah with a couple pairs, but I just LOVE these newborn ones, and some come with ruffles! And, wait for it...baby leggings WITH the petticoat! *sigh* Pure girly fashion heaven.

8.11.2011

Optical Revolution

I wear sunglasses like a vampire afraid of the daylight. Every day. Every time I go outside. Even just to get the mail. Not only am I trying to shield my eyes from UV rays and prevent (as much as possible) my mother-inherited worry/squinty line, but I'm a wuss when it comes to bright light. And loud sounds, but that's beside the point. For years, the only kind of sunglasses I would wear have had thick, brown plastic frames.

pic from Microsoft clipart

Don't get me wrong, I love these glasses. Very fashion-friendly. Cute on everyone. Make you feel like Julia Roberts. But, I thought these were the only kind that looked good on me. Time after time, I tried thinner framed glasses without success. I just always felt more comfortable the more sunglasses covered my face, like the thicker the frames the better the shade. I just dealt with the heat and sweat on my face from all that coverage thinking, "Well, that's just how sunglasses are with me." Then, fashion turned to aviators. I've ALWAYS wanted to try these but ALWAYS looked ridiculous in them. For some reason, the lower-dropped lenses look funny on my face. So, after my son broke my thick, brown plastic-framed glasses, I decided to venture out into the aviator world just one more time. Again, they looked ridiculous. Attempt after attempt, I felt not only that the lenses looked weird but that they just wouldn't block much sun because of the thin, wire frames. But then...I found THESE! (enter: hallelujah choir music)

Target, $8

THESE aviators have shorter lenses, so they don't sit as far down on my cheeks and make me look funny.
THESE aviators have dark enough lenses, so they actually block the sun.
THESE aviators are the most comfortable sunglasses I've ever worn! No more hot, sweaty face, cuz (WHAT?!) the thin, wire frames actually allow your face to breathe! And, here's the kicker...
THESE aviators were only 8 bucks!!!!!
(sigh of satisfaction)
Target aviators, I love you.
So, for the first time in my life, a fashion-current item is working for me, not breaking my bank, and keeping me comfortable. Who knew?!!
It's the little things.

8.02.2011

Is it fall yet?

It's August. We're having record high temperatures, with no end in sight. It's always still pretty hot in August and September, and yet, every year once we get passed July I feel as though fall is peaking around the corner. I long for fall. Every year, around this time. It's my favorite season because it marks the beginning of the longest feel-good time of the year (and because my favorite childhood memories stem around this time), so when I say "season" I mean the entire season from October to January. While I do slightly favor Christmas over the other holidays (cuz, come on. Who wouldn't?). With back-to-school stuff stocking stores followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Cinnamon, evergreen, pumpkin, apple, firewood. Wreaths, garlands, pumpkin patches, costumes, parties, food, cards, gifts, family, friends, fireplaces, football. (accidental alliteration) This is why I was so excited when I found out I'd be having my first child during my favorite time of year. And getting to share this time with him now has been more than fulfilling. So, you can see why I have such an affinity for the season. We're linked, this season and I. Always have been. There's a moment, typically not til the beginning of October, that I sense fall is upon us. There's something in the air, a feeling in my bones. Like I'm chemically and physically connected to the season. It's like God's breath blowing through my very being saying, "Here's your gift, Mel. Take it in. Smile." Yes, it sounds silly, but it feels like He's created this time of year just for me because it gives me such joy. When people ask me, "What do you think Heaven's like?" I say, this season. But, even I know, this isn't gonna happen for a while. *tear, sniff* Til then, I'll keep relishing in retail shops that start stocking fall right about now, filling my home with Yankee and Scentsy fall-based aromas, watching movies set in the season (e.g. You've Got Mail, Harry Potter), and cranking up the A/C so I can make some hot cocoa and curl up with my knitted blanket.

last summer...anticipating fall

6.30.2011

Restless

I don't know what to do with myself. I'm feeling the urge to change. I'm a pretty impulsive and fluctuating person. I get inspired pretty often and want to try new things all the time, everything, just to try. Most of my life I've lived with the feeling that this is wrong. But, in my recent adulthood I've gained more confidence in this aspect of my personality. It makes me who I am. I should embrace that, right? Well, right now, I'm feeling the movement again, but in a different way than ever before...as a mother and housewife. For those of you who've never attributed the latter to me, I'm with ya. Allow me to explain...

*****

Before I became a mother, I could care less if the house was in order or clean, if things were organized in the kitchen and closets, if anything but tv-watching and going out took place in my life. My house was merely the place where I watched tv and slept. After having Noah, (post-partum story to be posted at some point) I was pushed back into work too soon and never found solace in my home, was always on the go. I became a working mom two weeks after having my first child. Not my ideal situation. But, it's what I had, so that's what became my normal. NOT working was just never an option. So exited my beloved desire to breastfeed and cloth diaper. I was blissfully happy (after the first two months) being a mother and getting some respite from motherhood duties while gaining confidence in myself by going to work part-time. Then, that part-time became full-time (though I work from home two days a week...it's still work), and the job that at one point was giving me fulfillment in myself as simply Melody, not just Mom, now makes me feel like I'm losing the mom part of me. I know motherhood is all about balance. I...feel...out...of...it. I need some mental and spiritual V8 (remember those 80s commercials?). I desperately want to be a homemaker. Words I NEVER thought would EVER come out of my mouth. You see, once I get involved in something, I'm all in. Only thing now is, I'm all in at two places: work and home. I thought this was a balance I could handle, even one I would need. I thought being a working mom was what would fit best for me. Well, it was...for a while. I'm starting to wonder if it is anymore. I love the work I get to do and the flexibility and family atmosphere. So, I feel if I ever left it, I couldn't get it back. What working person doesn't want that situation? Maybe I'm just going through a phase. All I know is, I'm SO ready to have another baby and stay at home for a little while...more than just a few weeks. Next time, I will breastfeed and cloth diaper. Next time, I will be in control of things. Next time. Til then, I'll just keep planning and preparing. Longing to have it together like styleberryBLOG mommy...this is how I am in my head, just hasn't come to fruition quite yet. For now, trying to find peace and joy in the little things...starting with taking pics with my new fave iPhone app Hipstamatic on our 4th of July beach trip. Blog post to follow.

6.28.2011

Forward Thinking: Diapering, First Glance

No, I'm not pregnant. I just have baby fever. I feel like I can't really talk about it much since Randy and I have decided to wait to start trying until Noah turns 2, so I've got 6 months to wait. Enter blog series.

Cloth Diapers






That's right. CLOTH! I recently started cloth diapering Noah to get some good practice in and try a bunch of different kinds so I'll know what I'm doing with baby 2, who I fully plan on cloth diapering the day we get home from the hospital. So far, I've only been able to get in about a month of experience cuz Noah got a yeast rash, which put him back in disposables and disposable inserts (I'll cover these below). But, with my experience thus far and countless hours of research, I've got a pretty solid opinion on all my options. And, here they are:

Inserts & Covers
Description: A waterproof cover and either cloth or disposable insert.

Ease of Use: Very easy. If the baby pees, all you do is change out the insert or alternate between two covers and let one air dry while using the other. If the baby poops, simply wash the cover and hang to dry. In my experience, the wet cover is ready to use by the next diaper change. Cloth inserts go in a wet bag or pail til laundry day (twice a week), and covers can be used over and over til you want to launder them (once a week) and washed with regular clothes.When out, these are nice because you can just take an extra insert with you, which takes up the same amount of space as a disposable diaper. But, I find that when I'm going to be out for a while, I like to take 2-3 inserts and an extra cover in case of poop.

Any Negatives: The only negatives I've found are in the changing process and feel. Since the covers can be used over and over, it's sometimes annoying to wash out the cover so I can reuse it. The solution to this is putting it in the wet bag and just getting a new cover, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the reusability of this option and gets you closer to hybrid or pocket diapers. As far the feel goes, it's just the fact that baby isn't feeling all the softness again his skin like he would with all cloth diapers.

Fave Brands:
gDiapers--www.gdiapers.com--These are sized covers from newborn-34+lbs (tiny, s, m, l, xl) have a snap-in waterproof pouch to hold the cloth or disposable insert (gDiapers makes a flushable insert, LOVE this!) and a cotton gPant velcro cover. They retail for about $18 each pant, but I prefer Babies R Us' two-packs for $27. The pouches have to be replaced every 6 months.

Thirsties Duo Wraps--www.thirstiesbaby.com--These are a two-sized system with snap-down rise, so the small fits up to 22lbs (I think) and the large up to 40lbs. These are simpler than gDiapers because there's no pouch to snap in, just the waterproof cover by itself. They retail for about $13. They come in velcro and snaps. (NOTE: snaps are better for toddlers cuz they don't come off easily like velcro.)













Grovia--www.gro-via.com--The Grovia Shell can house a cloth insert (has gusset and snaps in) or a disposable insert and are one size with snap-down rise. These come in VERY cute prints and either velcro or snaps. The difference with these is that the shell isn't wipeable, so you can't reuse it as much as you can gDiapers or Thirsties if any messes get on the cover. They retail for $17.


Pocket Diapers
Description: An all-cloth diaper, either bamboo, microfleece, or suede cloth, with a pocket for stuffing inserts. Some come with a minky outer over the waterproof layer.

Ease of Use: Very, very easy. I think these are easier than covers and inserts because you change the entire diaper every time, like a disposable. Just put in wet bag or pail til laundry day and make sure inserts are out before washing. When out, simply take 1 or 2 stuffed diapers.

Any Negatives: The only negative I can see (even though I've only used 1 pocket diaper 1 time so far) is what makes these so easy...that you have to get a whole new dipe with each change. You can't reuse these right away.

Fave Brands:
Kawaii--www.theluvyourbaby.com--These are a one-size pocket diaper with snap-down rise. They are the BEST priced pocket dipes out there at $7-14. I have the Snazzy Minky and Bamboo Minky Mom Label. I'm in love with the minky dipes cuz they're so soft! I also love that there is a smaller version (Pure & Natural) for 6-22lbs cuz I'm not into using a full one-size dipe on a tiny. Kawaiis come in velcro and snaps, depending on what kind you get. The Pure & Naturals only come in velcro, which makes sense for tinies before they get really mobile...makes for easy, fast changes.

Rumparooz--www.kanga-care.com--These are a one-size pocket diaper with snap-down rise and inner gussets. The inner gussets are what sets this diaper apart, but it's also what raises the price quite a bit. These retail for $23-25. I haven't tried these because they're so expensive, but the idea of the inner gussets intrigues me, especially when considering breast milk poosplosions. These come in snaps or velcro.

Go Green--www.gogreenpocketdiapers.com--These are basically just like Rumparooz, only they're bigger and therefore last longer. I think these go up to 40lbs whereas most pocket dipes only reach around 35lbs. They're also considerably cheaper than Rumparooz at $10-14.

Blueberry and Swaddlebees--www.blueberrydiapers.com--These are just upscale pocket diapers. They're expensive but are pretty much the same as Kawaii, only the snaps match or coordinate in a way with the outer color, whereas Kawaii just has white snaps. I have a couple Swaddlebees Econappis that are really cute, but I haven't tested them out yet. (And got them used) Swaddlebees and Blueberries range from $18-30, depending on if you get the mini size or full one-size and minky or non-minky. They pretty much seem like luxury diapers. I'm guessing that the Kawaiis perform the same.

All-in-Ones (AIO)
Description: An all cloth diaper with insert/soaker attached, no unstuffing required for wash.

Ease of Use: The easiest. For changes, these are just as easy as pocket dipes, only you don't have to remove the insert before washing. This makes these the most desirable, in my opinion, but it does hike up the price a bit.

Any Negatives: Longer drying time. Because the insert is attached, there might be longer drying time where the insert is attached to the cover. But, some brands make an insert that snaps on instead of being sewn on.

Fave Brands:
Grovia--www.gro-via.com--These AIO diapers have a sewn-in insert and very cute prints, snap-down rise and side-snaps. They retail for $23. There's also a newborn AIO option for 5-12+lbs for $15, regular snaps.

Envibum--www.envibum.com--These are minky dipes with naturally adjusting rise with elastic (no snap-down rise needed). The insert is sewn in, and it has a pocket to add more inserts if needed. It might be a bit bulkier because of the thick minky and chunky design and retails for $23.


Where to Buy
Jack Be Natural www.jackbenatural.com

More Diaper Reviews 
Dirty Diaper Laundry www.dirtydiaperlaundry.com 

6.19.2011

Father's Day 2011

It's Father's Day, and I feel blessed to have such a wonderful husband and father to Noah. We went to the mall this morning and did what we did on Mother's Day, take photo booth pictures (see below) and played on the playground. Well, Randy and Noah played while I watched and relaxed (late night with Noah). I love watching them play together, hearing them both cackle. Randy and his mini-me. :-) It just doesn't get much better than this.

3.04.2011

Squee for Beatrix P!


Each Spring I'm taken back to my childhood days of bouncing through the field with Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, Benjamin Bunny, and all my Beatrix Potter friends. This year, Pottery Barn Kids has added an extra zest to my passion for bunnies and kittens, ducks and frogs with their special line of Beatrix Potter tableware, linens, etc...for Easter. I'm completely enraptured by their simplicity and beauty. In fact, there's a crib bedding set calling my name for baby #2. There's just something so sweet, pure, and innocent to this fantasy that makes me want it around me everywhere I go. I'm thinking of getting Noah a special tableware set (plate, cup, silverware, placemat) for Easter, but seeing as he still has pretty rough table manners, I might have to append that thought. I've never really been all that into Easter, but it seems that the older I get the more into Spring I am. Well, we'll see if the PB Kids stuff actually ends up gracing our home or not. Either way, here's HOPPING *wink* for sunny days, blooming flowers, growing grass, and bushy tails.

2.08.2011

True, Tiny Love

I recently made a photo book of Noah's first year of life, making copies for the grandparents. It was a great book, with lots of fun photos and details of each group of months to commemorate milestones. But, it didn't hold that something in my heart, it didn't capture the essence of the Noah I know. So, I decided to make a special, tiny book just for me that did just that.

                       

1.28.2011

Absence Makes the Guilt Grow Longer

Well, here it is the end of January and my blog has nothing to show for it. A TON has happened in the past few months, and the fact that I haven't kept up with this blog has been plaguing me...the complete opposite reason for starting the blog, to relax and have an outlet. Don't let the outlet be a burden, let it be the outlet. Ok, I'm back. So, I feel the best way to catch up is a quick photo journalesque recap covering Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Noah's 1st birthday. That should do it...yeah. (These are just a few pics; check the Photo website for the complete albums.)

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Halloween 2011: The Great Pumpkin

Before (pregnant)
After
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Thanksgiving 2011: Houston

Cousins


1st Thanksgiving meal
Black Friday shopping



Great Pops







Great Nana










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Christmas 2011: Abilene

Opa

GranAnne (Nan Nan)

Aunt No No

Baby's 1st Christmas

Gifts from Santa

Fam Photo (shoutout to owl hat from Sally)



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Noah's 1st Birthday: Vintage Toy Party


mmmm...cake!
Sprinkles Cupcakes


I'm 1!

Box from Aunt No No/Decor from Sally

Invitation





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Noah's 1st Time Walking: 2 days before birthday

video