Party Decor

It's pretty ridiculous of me to require two whole posts about Truman's birthday party but I just can't help myself. This one will be devoted to all of my beloved crafts and decorations and behind the scene stuff, aka my favorite part about planning a party. :) I'm not going to describe the 'how-to' directions for each project but if you want more info leave a question in the comments and perhaps I will edit this post as needed.

Let me just say that I did not spend much on this party at all. We wanted to keep it simple but fun and not stressful in the slightest. So that meant 20 of our friends and family attended the party, including 5 other kiddos close to Truman's age. I didn't want a true 'theme' but instead focused on the idea of it being Truman's GOLDEN birthday (since he was born on March first!) and used all of my favorite bright colors just like I did in the nursery. Using my nursery 'theme' was key because I could just pull out some decor from there and use it for the party like nothing. I also have a ton of extra fabrics and papers from my nursery decor days that I wanted to use which also saved me money. Plus I just love bright colors so there is my theme, I guess. :)

We didn't even set the date for this party until about 6 weeks before the party and I didn't do a darn thing until about 5 weeks out. I would work on a project a few times a week at nights and also on weekends and that made it fun for me, not like I had to cram it all in on one day or something. I had a list of things I wanted to make and would just work my way down that list, remembering that hands-on crafts are extremely fulfilling for me---I wonder why I don't do many of them anymore?

And as a side note, I realize that Truman won't remember his first birthday party. But I'm a big fan of throwing a party to celebrate the fact that the parents survived the first year of babyhood. If nothing else, Nate and I deserved a little socialization with friends and family for that feat, and as an added bonus Truman will have fun pictures to look back on when he is older. He also had a blast but so did his parents, of course.

First things first, the invitations made by my good friend Maggie. She has a shop in Etsy called Paper Perfectionist and I highly recommend her, of course! I gave her the picture, the color inspiration, and linked to an invite online that I liked and she did the rest. I am obsessed with it, for real. Just look at my little man!


My first project was this balloon wreath that I saw online. It was incredibly easy, cost less than $10 total to make, and maybe took me an hour and a half tops. I love it and plan to use it for future birthdays to come!




Next I made Truman's birthday hat out of left over fabrics from nursery projects.


I also made the other kids' hats to wear for a photo op during the party. Well, mostly I made them because I wanted to use more of my fabric and needed another project to satisfy my crafty desire one night. The photo op was a total fail, as you will see later, but they were still cute hats!


I wanted to do favors for the babies but didn't want to be overdone with this one. So one day I discovered the amazing world that is the dollar store and found just what I wanted. Plastic pails filled with bath toys and balls or squeaker toys seemed like just enough to say 'thanks for coming' without being silly. I decorated the pails with fun ribbons, a card, and these adorable buttons I found at Michaels one day. I think the favors were a hit with the kiddos and they were fun to put together, for sure.



This little area of decor was made from nursery projects. Talk about easy! I also printed off a 5x7 of Truman's monthly pictures even though I displayed these in the house more than just here.


The close up shots from the monthly photos were a banner on one side of our archway:

And the further away chair shots made the other side. Easy and fun!

My mom brought my one-year picture and so I had to print a picture of Nate at one year old, too, and display them. I'm sorry but that profile shot of me is ALL Truman!

Another random bit of decor, above the food table: a 'T' from the nursery (fabric wrapped) and then a birth announcement with a birthday invite clipped with cheapie holders from Michaels:

I made paper flags for more bright decor and strung them across the main wall. Plus I painted this canvas one day and haven't been able to take it down just yet. :) The little flags on top are made of fabric I cut into triangles, then used Hodge-Podge to paste in on top of my paint.


Because I obviously love banners, I made this little one to go across Truman's highchair. Definitely just for prime time photos of cupcake smashing!

I am not a seamstress by any means, but I really wanted to make a table cloth for the party. I went fabric shopping with my mother-in-law and then borrowed her sewing machine to make this. Since my fabric was too narrow to fit the whole width of the table, I decided to just make a runner instead. Lois had the fab idea of using a white twin-sized sheet for underneath---we just had to cut and hem two of the sides and it was perfect! I admit, sewing is pretty fun but man it's tedious!

One of my favorite projects were the cupcakes and all that went with them. I really wanted to do these little face lollipop things that I saw online once. And so, say hello to dozens of little Trumans!


I bought a cheapy, white, plastic cupcake tower from Michaels and knew I had to spice it up a bit. So I wrapped the center cylinders with fabric then added orange ribbon to the edges. I liked how it turned out a lot! Much more festive than the plain version in my opinion.


Truman's tee shirt was purchased from Etsy shop Bowdacious baby and I just love it.

For the food we wanted to keep it simple, again. Luckily my Memaw is a fabulous cook and wanted to help out with the menu. I also had help from my mom and mother-in-law since they are all better at the food stuff than me---I'd rather just make pretty wreaths and banners all day, who cares about the food?!

We did two kinds of cupcakes, cake pops, a four foot Cousins sub sandwich, chips, veggies with dip and hummus, fruit salad, and then foods for the kids. We had beer, wine, soda and water, too, and I was really looking forward to having a few glasses of wine but man---hosting a party leaves very little time to drink!

Cake pops:
I have seen these all over the web and figured a first birthday party would be the place to try them out. We went with chocolate cake mix, plus cream cheese frosting on the inside dipped in white chocolate and milk chocolate stripes. So fun!! We had a lot left over and I cannot stop eating them, they are so yummy.


I stuck them into a floral foam thingie covered with wrapping paper. Easy and functional! Memaw came up with this idea but I originally thought I'd try to cover a shoebox with paper and punch holes in it. The foam was SO much easier, so thank goodness for Memaw!

My family has a tradition of making red velvet cake for birthdays. I think that is because my mom's birthday is on Valentines Day so a red cake was always fitting for her. I have made a red velvet cake for Nate before and it's just so pretty and bright and different! I knew that T needed to eat a red velvet cupcake for his first birthday and I didn't really want to make a 'smash cake' or anything. I figured that a nice frosted cupcake was plenty for this baby who really doesn't get sugary junk food like that! Memaw made the cream cheese frosting herself but we used a boxed mix for the cupcakes to save on time. We also got yellow cake mix for the second flavor and store-bought chocolate frosting for those. I found really cute paper liners and Michaels and we were good to go! We made 48 cupcakes the night before the party even though I knew that would be way too many. I wanted two flavors, though, so it had to be 48---and really, left over cupcakes aren't exactly a BAD thing, you know?

Kiddie Foods:
I saw this online and had to do my own version! I found little green tins at Michaels for $0.79 a piece and filled them with fun kid foods like frosted animal crackers, regular animal crackers, goldfish, peach puffs, graham cracker bunnies, and T's favorite Gerber maple syrup/cinnamon Lil' Crunchers. Wait, what was I saying about Truman not eating sugary foods? Huh. :)

The whole spread:

So I think that is about it. I had SO much fun planning and preparing for the party that I had that post-event sadness that happens after weddings or other fun get togethers. Guess I'll just have to postpone my craftiness until the second birthday now!


Pictures and stories from the big day itself to follow...

Let The Nostalgia Begin

Feeling very nostalgic, a little sad, and a lot emotional today after the big birthday party yesterday--which was awesomely fun. Also, his birthday is in two freaking days now. Wow. A year ago tonight I checked into the hospital to begin a marathon induction process. I can barely remember what life was like before Truman and it blows my mind that it's already been a year, too.

Sorting through pictures and formulating blog posts in my head, but wanted to first share two pieces of work with you.

These are long, very long. Only view if you have the time or just save for later if you wish. :)

The first is my photo slideshow I made as a highlight of Truman's first year in photos. We played this on repeat during the party for some background entertainment. It's a little over 10 minutes long.

The second is my video show I made everyone watch at the party. I just love it, although it's 15 minutes long. It does nothing but create a large lump in my throat right now.

More to come...

Breastfeeding Journey Evolution

What does it mean to 'make it to a year?' Or more specifically, what does 'make it' mean?

I've been asking myself this very question for awhile now. It can mean that you breastfed the baby for a full year---meaning he nursed from you to get that milk (duh). It can mean you pulled a combo of breastfeeding and pumping for bottles if you are a working mom, or one who can't always nurse the baby directly. It might mean you gave your baby breastmilk without actually nursing at all, being an 'exclusive pumper' instead. It can mean you gave only breastmilk as a drink, without supplementing in any way. It can mean you haven't needed to supplement with formula, but you have started a bit of cow's milk in addition to breastmilk. Or maybe you were able to nurse just once or twice a day and the other feeds were formula bottles.

If we look at the bigger picture, 'making it to a year' really only means that you kept your baby alive/fed/growing and kept yourself alive for a full year. Does it really matter if you nursed, exclusively pumped, or supplemented?

When I admitted to my goal of 'making it to a year' I meant that I wanted to nurse Truman for a full year without supplementing. At first I just wanted to make it through my maternity leave. Then I wanted to make it to 6 months. After that milestone came and went without many issues, I went full throttle and pushed for an entire year of nursing and then came the 8/9 month chaos when sleepless nights plus a restless nursing baby meant something had to give. I do not regret my decision to give Truman bottles of pumped milk in the slightest---he has been more satisfied, slept better, and is growing into a perfectly healthy BIG boy. But of course I am sad when I think about that being the pivotal moment in our breastfeeding journey, when I went from nursing him numerous times per day to just twice, and then just once. Becoming a nearly exclusive pumper was not easy for me and yet we all survived just fine.

And now? We are exactly 9 days away from his first birthday. Still nursing in the mornings and occasionally in the afternoons when I am home. And three days ago I decided to stop pumping all together, which of course brought about loads of emotions that I was not prepared to encounter. I was only getting about 2 ounces during a pump session which seemed totally pointless and I decided to cut the ties a few days earlier than planned. I mean, was I just pumping for myself to make it to that magical year mark or was I doing it for Truman? It was hard to tell anymore. I figured I would be celebrating the detachment of that pump from my body and yet I could barely sleep the first night I didn't pump before bed. I just keep thinking of our roller coaster ride of breastfeeding and pumping...

Flash back to our very first nursing session: I remember that my biceps were so incredibly sore and seemingly shredded from pulling my legs back while pushing Truman out that I could barely hold my newborn baby boy to my chest. I remember the nurses helping me with multiple pillows, they inclined the head of the hospital bed (as I still hadn't made that bloody trek out of said bed just yet), and they gave words of advice. I'm pretty sure he latched on that first time but we were both pretty pooped out and overwhelmed by it all.

The Lactation Consultant visited us at the hospital on the second day. I loved Lori to death from the night that we met her during our breastfeeding class, when I was about 30 weeks pregnant. Nate and I both left that class feeling a little more confident that breastfeeding could be an achievable goal instead of just a hope floating by us. During her first visit to us, she gave numerous 'thumbs ups' to us as a nursing pair and she even called Truman 'Mister Perfect' because he had a textbook latch. I fumbled through the various 'holds' trying to find one that suited us best and although the football hold was kind of cute and fun, I stuck with the cradle and reverse cradle at times. I kept in touch with the Lori with frequent phone calls those first few weeks and I've been meaning to call her back to update her on 'Mister Perfect' and his nursing career lasting this long. She was a huge part of our success because of her kind heart, her patience, and her knowledge and I'm forever grateful for her time spent on us.

I recall nursing on night two at the hospital, in a horridly hard rocker---don't they know that post-partum nether regions are SUPER sensitive? I texted Hannah while I nursed, asking her if the intense uterus contractions lasted much longer for her. I didn't think I could stand the searing pain of my ute contracting down to a normal size with every suck, but sure enough that pain dissolved on the third day.

At our very first Pediatrician's visit at one week old, I was ecstatic to learn Truman was gaining weight at an acceptable rate. Nursing was working and even though it felt like he was permanently latched on my boob I was starting to enjoy this incredible bonding experience. Good thing, too, since he nursed 12 times in a 24 hour period sometimes for up to an hour at a time. So basically one hour on, one hour off around the clock. I remember those early weeks being full of uncertainty, lacking confidence that my body would do a good job in feeding my son, and wondering if it was possible that he was secretly starving to death. I feel that there is a lot of propaganda telling mothers that they cannot produce enough milk for their babies and supplementing is the only way to be sure they are getting enough. I am so grateful that I did not fall into that trap in those early 'scary' days and I feel completely blessed that somehow my body did it's job despite being under pressure to succeed.

The first time I pumped I was so discouraged by the teeny tiny DROPS in the bottles that I vowed to give it another week before I tried again. I asked around and apparently that was very normal but it still totally freaked me out and I couldn't bring myself to get into the routine at 2 weeks even though I wanted a nice fatty freezer stash for my return to work. Eventually I became besties with the dreaded pump of course but it was absolutely terrifying at first.

Looking down at Truman's little newborn body while he nursed was one of my favorite things to do. He was so teeny and curled up just perfectly into my chest and I loved looking at his chicken legs wrapping over my waist. I wondered how it was possible to nurse a growing toddler---I tried to imagine what it would look like from above, staring down on a big boy whose legs would dangle behind me somehow. Mind blowing: I simply could not picture it.

I was the lucky recipient of mastitis THREE times over: once at 3 weeks, once at 3 months and once at 6 months. Every time was absolutely horrid, complete with chills, body aches, red/angry streaks across my milkers, and near-mental breakdowns from pain/exhaustion. I always responded well to the antibiotics prescribed, though, and luckily Truman continued to nurse during those times, too.

I have so many memories involving my beloved/hated pump, it's hard to capture them all...

Pumping in my car....while driving (yikes, I know!). Trust me when I say that a hands-free pump bra and a nursing cover go a long way and I'm pretty sure it's not illegal and wasn't as distracting as you think. Pumping in my boss' office after hours, in a corner with lights out, praying nobody would come in the unlockable door. Taking those three clockwork pump breaks at my old hospital job, while typing notes, making calls, and literally juggling my job as a pumping mom. Pumping as a passenger on road trips to Missouri. Pumping during a bachelorette party. Taking breaks from visiting my family to pump in seclusion during a trip home. Pumping with a nursing cover in front of my in-laws. Pumping while knitting, while blogging, emailing, giving/getting foot rubs from Nate, eating, etc, etc, etc.

Not to be dramatic, but I endured blood, sweat, and tears for this breastfeeding journey. Blood: when I looked down at my pumping bottles to see pink milk. I must have rubbed my nipple raw that time and it scabbed over into a sad reminder of how much pumping sucks (get it?). Sweat: pumping in the back seat of my parked car in a Kohl's lot, not wanting to waste gas so I had the windows cracked instead. It was September and unusually hot and I was literally sweating at the end of this session, and then of course I was all cranky about sweating and being too hot. Tears: I remember sobbing while nursing Truman in the early weeks. It was in the middle of the night, I was exhausted, coming down with my first bout of mastitis, and feeling very insecure about my abilities to care for Truman. I cried to Nate that I felt inadequate, like I wasn't keeping Truman happy enough, and that breastfeeding must not be working because he wanted to nurse ALL the freaking time. Nate---as my level-headed partner must do---informed me that I was a great mommy and my milk was keeping Truman totally satisfied. Also, for the tears part, there was that time I spilled 2 ounces of freshly pumped milk as I was trying to screw on the lids to my bottles. Milk splattered EVERYWHERE and after I calculated what I lost, I did my best to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. But that saying about not crying over spilled milk does not apply to pumping moms, FYI.

And although I spent a huge amount of time pumping in the past year, what I'm choosing to remember the most and what has made a lasting impression on me more than anything else are the sweet times spent nursing my baby boy. The way his pudgy fingers rested on my chest. The way his round, half-asleep eyes gazed up at me intently. His teeny little jaw moving up and down to gather the milk. It's amazing to me that he instinctively knew how to nurse from day one and he truly taught me all about breastfeeding more than any class could do. The bond that we have experienced through nursing is one I will never do justice in this blog post----there just aren't words to describe how blessed I feel to make it this long in our breastfeeding journey. I know that many women deal with circumstances beyond their control that end their breastfeeding journeys sooner than they had hoped and I am extremely grateful and humbled that I could keep going without major roadblocks. And I know breastfeeding isn't for everyone and not everybody cares to give it a shot. But I can honestly say it's been one of the most amazing privileges I've had in my life.

I am done pumping. I am still nursing. We are mixing cow's milk into our breastmilk bottles created from the last of the treasured freezer stash. And even if he stopped nursing tomorrow I would still say that I made it to a year---the badge of honor I've wanted for so long. Being a working mom who breastfeeds is harder than I ever imagined, and it's been one of the biggest challenges I've faced. But I wouldn't trade a second of it for anything.

I hope that Truman continues to nurse once or twice a day until he wants to stop. But no matter when that happens I know I've done the best that I could do for him. And isn't that the ultimate goal in motherhood?

(my newborn baby---seems like yesterday. Maybe it's the impending birthday or the hormones that come with weaning/stopping pumping but I can barely handle these itty bitty pictures right now)

little round head

My little round head is turning into an oblong head!


Please, someone tell this toddler-esque babe to slow down a little bit. I just can't get over these two pics because his facial expression is exactly the same but his face itself has changed so much! Where are the fatty cheeks? Ugh.

That is all. Carry on.

Other more intelligent posts in the works but I just needed to get this out....

Cloth Diapering Evolution

I need to update you on cloth diapering an 11 month old as opposed to a newborn! Can't believe I haven't written this yet.

So after we did our trial with three different pocket diapers we decided that Fuzzibunz did not work well for us because they just didn't fit Truman properly, and the Kissaluvs were just so-so. We really really liked the BumGenuis 3.0's and so we returned the Fuzzibunz and bought 12 more BG instead. We had to keep the Kissaluvs because I messed up and didn't realize they weren't a part of the 30 day trial, so we now own 3 Kissaluvs and 18 BG pockets plus the one BG organic all-in-one. We do still have those medium pre-folds but honestly, I've used them maybe three times total when we are completely out of the pockets. Disclaimer: the Kissaluvs, Fuzzibunz, and prefolds are not bad diapers by any means. They just don't work for us although some mamas love them, which goes to show that every baby has a different body shape and each diaper fits differently. My advice is to try a few different brands and decide for yourself what works best.

(in his BumGenius at 11 months old)

(in his BG at one month old!)

While I'm still talking about the styles of diapers that work for us, I will say that the velcro on our 18 BG 3.0's started to fray and pull away from the diaper to the point of ridiculousness around November when Truman was just 8 months old and the diapers were about 7 months old. I considered replacing the velcro with snaps myself but realized that would be a HUGE undertaking, and one day I was reading the Cotton Babies site and had a light bulb moment. The BumGenius diapers are under warranty for the first year, meaning if there are 'manufacturing flaws' and it's not the user's fault, they will replace your diapers for free. Our diapers were definitely less than a year old and I knew we didn't do anything wrong with the care of the dipes to make the velcro detach so I emailed Cotton Babies asking about the exchange process. All I had to do was make sure the diapers were clean, then pack up my receipt (since I didn't buy them from Cotton Babies), and pay for shipping into the store. I sent back 15 of my 18 diapers with bad velcro and used disposables until our new diapers arrived. Sure enough, I got an email from CB saying they would give us new diapers and they even offered and upgrade to the new 4.0's! I also decided to go with snap closures this time, although I did like the ease of the velcro, just because I think it's cleaner with snaps and as Truman ages he won't be able to pull off the diaper as easily as velcro. We picked some new colors for our new 4.0's with snaps and although I'm a huge fan of their brights that have been discontinued, I am okay with the light pastels I had to get this time. When the new diapers arrived I was pumped to get them on baby boy and they've been working quite well for us. Also the 4.0's have a few new features compared to the old 3.0's, like the ability to replace the leg elastic over time and a longer rise therefore fitting bigger babies. I'm so glad I emailed them and got replacements instead of trying to fix the velcro myself. And I must say that we now prefer snap closures instead of velcro----but I know everyone is different with this choice.


One huge change for us in the cloth diapering journey as been the evolution of Truman's poop. Being exclusively breastfed for 5 months, then beginning rice cereal at that time didn't really change anything. We could still plop the whole dirty diaper into the pail and wash out the poop in the washer without any issues. Newborn breastfed poop is the bomb on the scale of poop-awesomeness. Then at 6 months we introduced veggie purees and that changed his poop from being happy, non-smelly, washable poop into angry, stinky, MUST rinse-out-first poops. I mean, ICK! We have the BumGenius diaper sprayer hooked up to our toilet and never used it until about 7 months along when the real food poops were just too horrid to throw into the washer. I will say that the sprayer is not my favorite thing ever. I just can't seem to get the hang of it and end up with crap splatters more often than not. I get really happy when his poo is formed like a little baby log because I can just plop that into the toilet, no prob. But when it's looser it's totally sick but then again, isn't it totally sick in disposables, too? I think when you have to handle gross baby poops in cloth or 'sposies, it's nasty. And so we haven't ditched the cloth because of the weird semi-adult like poops we find in the diapers.

We have found that using flushable diaper liners are our saving grace. We now put a liner inside the diaper with each change and if he poops it will catch most of it for us, so we can just toss it in the toilet and flush it away. Sometimes poo particles escape and so I must use the sprayer or talk myself into dunking it in the toilet old-school style, but for the most part the liners are fab. They look like little dryer sheets and come in a roll and are pretty much amazing.

As far as the washing routine goes, we are definitely in a groove with the care of our diapers and it is truly easier than you think. I know a lot of people are turned off by cloth because of the perceived extra work in laundering them but if I can work and also cloth diaper then you can, too! (end of me trying to convert you readers out there---do what you feel is best for your family, okay?). We wash diapers about every other day, maybe every third day. I have no problem doing them in the evenings after work now because it really doesn't take that long anymore. We do three wash cycles as suggested by many CD sites: first a cold rinse cycle without any detergent to loosen the poo (sometimes a bit of bleach in this cycle occasionally); then a hot/cold wash cycle with three scoops of Rockin Green detergent (love!!); then another cold rinse to wash away any extra residue. Sometimes I even skip this last rinse if I'm feeling rebellious because Rockin Green is a great cloth-diapering soap that shouldn't have any residue anyway. So yes, there are three cycles but because two of them are like half cycles with only a rinse, it's not too bad. This whole wash process might take a total of an hour or so but it's probably about 5 minutes of actual hands-on time including trips down and back to the basement. Easy Peasy.

To dry our diapers we are experimenting with a few ideas. During the sunny months in Wisconsin (basically only June and July, or so it feels) I love to air dry the diapers in the sun all day. It's the perfect way to get rid of stains and freshen up the diapers, although I still dry my inserts in the dryer first. But now that it's frigid cold outside we have to get a little more creative. What we've been doing for many months is we toss the inserts and wipes into the dryer on high for 60 minutes, then put the covers, wet bags, and pail liners out to try on a drying rack next to a vent in our family room. That is totally fine and it works, but it's sort of a pain to separate out what you 'can' dry and what you 'can't'. I am fully aware that BumGenius says you should not dry the covers in the dryer but we have done just that a few times now. And let me tell you, throwing the entire load in the dryer and drying it on high for 60 minutes makes life easier and the covers have not exploded or melted yet. I doubt we will do this every time but every now and then it's nice to have them dry and ready to go in an hour, instead of laying out to dry all night long.

(hello, sunshine. How we miss you)

The wipes debate: I think cloth wipes clean better than disposables and if you are doing cloth diapers it makes sense to wash your wipes, too, instead of finding a separate trash can to toss sposies into. I notice that a major doogie requires only two or three cloth wipes but it might require a whole stack of disposables because they are slimy and slick----just my opinion, I know. We have a few different kinds: flannel ones from BumGenius, Kissaluv terry cloth ones, and Kissaluv Organic ones. I use a regular old wipe warmer, throw all the wipes in there and then dump water over the top of them. Then I fill my 'peri-care' squirt bottle from the hospital with our wipes solution and squirt that directly onto the watered wipe as needed. I used to make solution with just a bit of baby wash and baby oil plus water in the solution and that is still fine, but I feel like with his nasty poos we needed something more cleansing. So I bought these Honey Buns Drops in the blueberry honey scent and love it! Of course, any scent mixed in with rancid baby crap is not the most appealing but by itself the drops smell great! I just toss the wipes into the pail although sometimes they do need to be rinsed out first, which is not my favorite part but whatev.

Night-time cloth diapering is one of the hot topics out there because it can certainly be a challenge to contain 10 hours worth of pee in cloth. We have a couple tricks that might work for others, too. First, we always double stuff T's cloth diaper with a regular insert and also a hemp insert, and ours are by Hemp Babies. Hemp has amazing absorption properties and it can soak up a ridiculous amount of pee. Even with a double stuffed diaper we were having some leaks around the top of T's waistband, so I investigated wool covers for nighttime. Wool is basically a magical fabric for cloth diapering----it's breathable, it's warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and it has special anti-bacterial properties that neutralize the pee smell. The fibers of wool hang onto fluid pulling it away from baby thus preventing leaks and it only needs to be washed out about once per week. Score! There's a whole boat-load of info on wool in cloth diaperland so you can google that yourself if you'd like.


I bought our current pair of longies from Etsy seller Myecobaby and absolutely love them. We use the same double stuffed BG 4.0 under these longies and have only had one leak when I think the waistband pulled down too low to let the actual diaper poke out the top. I love that these longies have an elastic band around top to hold them in place and they are super soft, not scratchy at all. There are lots of kinds of wool and some are more absorbent then others, some are softer, etc. We also have a smaller pair of woolies he outgrew from Etsy seller Rebourne and I really loved those, too, and wish they still fit. All in all, using a wool cover at night has been a great solution to nighttime diapering for us.

(custom made from Etsy means we got to pick out the adorable doggie applique! Also, the size is just perfect for Truman and the cuffed legs means he can grow into them)

(our too small longies that I still love, too)

(T in September in his smaller longies)

And finally, for other accessories: we really don't need diaper cream in cloth because Truman doesn't get rashes with his fluffy dipes. He has had two minor diaper rashes so far, once after a trip in disposables and once after Amoxicillan for his ear infection. Pretty good for almost one year old! We do have some awesome cloth-diaper safe cream that we use to 'prevent' rashes, and it is breathable enough to protect his skin without leaving residue on the diapers. It's Grandma El's Diaper Rash Cream and it smells like yummy strawberries. We also have a jar of 'real' diaper cream that isn't safe for our diapers called Triple Paste and it worked wonders when he did have a rash from the meds. You aren't supposed to use regular cream on cloth because it can build up on your diapers and make them repel over time, so we just used a liner first and then applied the cream. I figure that way the diaper didn't get hit with the cream directly and he could still use the heavy-duty cream to heal his little rash----no repelling after we used it, either.

For daycare I have two Planet Wise Wet Bags that I love, and Lori just puts the dirty diapers in there, zips them up, and sends them back home to me. We have two pail liners, also, one by Kissaluvs and one by Blueberry. You definitely need two so there is always one in place during laundry day. Also, we just bought a cheapie 13 gallon plastic trash can from Kmart to use for our pail---it has a step lever and lid and it works just fine for really cheap.

Bottom line recommendations/advice from a lady who has cloth diapered for almost a year:

-do not start cloth diapering right away ( I know, GASP!). Wait until your baby's cord is off, wait until life starts to feel just a little bit more under control, and if you are using 'one size' diapers you should really wait until the baby is 10 pounds although they say they are good at 7 pounds. You do not want to have CD'ing be 'one more thing' in the beginning days that seems overwhelming. You want it to be an enjoyable experience, so wait until you are ready. It's okay, I promise! I know I felt sort of pressured to start right away since so many people knew I was going to do cloth and they wanted to see if it was working (or if I'd already given up, I'm sure). But I knew I had to wait until he was about a month old before I tackled this new territory. So glad I did but I know other mamas have CD'd from day one. Do what is right for you!

- as with anything new, there is a learning curve with cloth. It takes a while to learn how to put them on, to wash them, to store them, etc. Give it at least 30 days before you decide if you like it or not.

-remember that it's totally acceptable to use disposables AND cloth if you want. It doesn't have to be all or none. I know a few ladies who cloth diaper only on weekends and that is totally fine. We choose to do it full time for cost effectiveness but we have absolutely used disposables at times, too. We have yet to travel with cloth and only use disposables then. Sometimes we'll put T in disposables at night if we don't feel like dealing with longies. And sometimes Lori uses disposables on Truman at daycare if she is rushed and doesn't have our dipes handy. That is totally okay and I think if more people tried cloth diapers out without pressure to do it full time, then there'd be a lot more CD'ing mamas out there.

-cloth diapering is not just for stay-at-home-moms. It's not just for tree-hugging hippies either. Also, it really does NOT take that much time out of your day. It's not as gross as you'd think. It's not hard to do. It's very breathable, soft, and good for the baby---it does not cause diaper rashes. You do not have to toilet dunk them like our parents did. Very rarely do you have poop blow outs in cloth. And it really does save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Yes, it does make their butts bigger and fluffier, but darn it if that isn't the cutest part of the whole deal. :)

(there's my little one monther again.....look at that fluffy butt!!)
It's not a perfect diapering system, though. Sometimes we have leaks and it totally ticks me off. But then again, even in disposables we sometimes leak. I really dislike spraying poo off diapers. They will definitely start to smell putrid if we don't wash them every 2-3 days. They are an initial expense, for sure. But for us, the pros of CD'ing outweigh the cons.

Hopefully that covers any question you could possibly have but shoot away if you have anymore. I'm no expert but I have learned a TON in my cloth diapering journey.

Baby Gear, the First Year

It's no secret that I am obsessed with research. I spent a huge chunk of my pregnant days on the computer, researching baby gear in order to create my registry. I just love investigating different brands and comparing styles so much that it's sort of like a sickness for me. And with the large amount of emails and comments I get from readers and real life friends, I figured I should just do a post about the baby gear we chose for Truman. Obviously, these are my personal picks and aren't the end-all-be-all choices for everyone out there. But since I frequently hear 'well, since you are the queen of research, what did you pick and why?' I'll share it all here.

I focused on the big dog items in this post, the ones that are fairly large investments and tend to be big decisions for new parents. It's not like you can't live without some of these things---it's not a list of necessary 'must haves' or anything. But it's just a run down of the big ticket items we chose for our babe after a disgusting amount of research.

Whoo, boy. A big choice for all parents these days, right? There are so many car seats out there that this can be an overwhelming topic when you have to choose between infant seats, convertible seats, top of the line seats, and low end seats. My best advice here is to find a store that lets you install a floor model into your actual car to see how it fits into your back seat and how easy the straps are to apply. We had great luck at a local Buy Buy Baby when we purchased our convertible seats and we were super impressed with their customer service, too. Those people know their car seats and therefore I feel pretty well informed, too! Also, because car seats are pricey try to find a place where you can use coupons. Both Buy Buy Baby and Babies-R-Us frequently have 20% off coupons and we've always used that discount before making a big purchase like this. Also, some online sites have free shipping PLUS coupons---like and albeeBaby. Shop in an actual store first to physically feel the seat and then compare prices online because it never hurts to save a little cash!

We decided to use an infant carrier seat first, then switch to convertible seats for a few reasons. First, I cannot imagine skipping the carrier seat and only using a convertible although I know some moms do this. For me, the ease of pulling the whole seat in an out with a carrier was priceless. We just had two bases (one for each car) and were able to strap T into the seat indoors where it was nice and warm and then placed the whole seat into the car. Also, if he fell asleep in the car (happened all the time, and I miss this convenience!), I could just remove the entire seat with Truman inside and take it upstairs to let him keep sleeping in the seat awhile longer. Now that we are in the convertibles we have to wake him up to take him out and that is so not fun! It was also great to keep him in the seat while using a shopping cart---you can just put the whole carrier inside the cart and go to it, instead of trying to put them in the front of the cart before they are ready.

We registered for the Graco SnugRide 35 infant car seat and chose this one mostly because it is rated very high in safety tests and seemed very sturdy when we tested it out. It safely holds a baby up to 35 pounds and I mistakenly thought we could actually keep T in there until he was that weight. But in reality, by about 20 pounds this seat was getting REALLY burdensome to carry around. At nine months we finally decided to ditch the carrier seat because the straps were also getting really tight and harder to get on and off Truman. We even kept the seat in the car and took Truman in and out of it, like we would with a convertible, for a few weeks---but eventually we knew we just needed a bigger seat with better straps for our big boy. I still think you can use these carrier seats for a long time if you keep them in the car and don't use the 'lug around' feature once baby gets too heavy. But anyway, we really loved our Graco infant seat and would definitely recommend it to you.

(Truman at 2 months old)

And then came the great convertible car seat search. Settle in for a lot of text about the research I did here.

We bought the Britax Boulevard 70 for our first convertible car seat that goes in Nate's car. We chose Britax because I think they are one of the best car seat brands out there. They have steel bars have 'Safe Cell Technology' which means that they compress downward in a crash with a lower center of gravity to reduce propulsion towards the front seat. All of the Britax models (the Marathon, Boulevard, Roundabout and Advocate) are great and they are all made from the same base, so they are the same size. The big difference lies in how much weight they hold, both rear facing and backward facing, and whether or not you have to re-thread the straps as baby grows. We were between the Marathon and the Boulevard which both rear face until 40 pounds, forward face until 70 pounds and both don't call for re-threading the straps. But the Boulevard also has added side head protection over the Marathon and I figure it can't hurt to exceed the safety standards there. Also, we tried the Marathon in our car and loved it and when we went to buy it they were out of the color we wanted. So we asked about that color in the Boulevard and it was the last one there, as a floor model, so our saleslady knocked off an additional 10% for us. So although the Boulevard is more expensive than the Marathon, we got that 10% discount plus another 20% off coupon which makes me VERY happy. Still a major purchase but in my mind it's worth every penny to be assured that my most prized possession in the entire world is as safe as possible in the back seat.

(right after bringing this bad boy home, figuring it out in the nursery first---at 9 months old)

We got the Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL for the second seat that goes in my car. This baby is all steel (not just the bars like the Britax) and rear faces until 45 pounds, forward until 80 pounds. But my two favorite features that sealed the deal for us are that it folds up and has straps like a backpack so that we can easily carry it through the airport (already did that once and it was awesome!) and it's super narrow without the big 'lip' on the sides that most seats have. This means that A) it's incredibly easy to get T in and out of this seat, and B) it's the only seat that you can fit three across in a car (not that we need that right now, but it just shows you how narrow they are). I really love this seat and I'm glad I got this one in my car because I even like it a little more than the Britax. I have yet to take a picture of Truman in the seat but promise to do that soon.

One more thing about convertible seats and then I'll move on: all seats must pass the same federal safety tests to be sold in the USA, so really all seats are 'safe'. But some companies do extra testing and add extra features to ensure added safety and I think that both Britax and SK are some of the good ones out there. I'm not going to get all preachy here but I recently saw some of these You Tube videos and read this article on keeping your child rear-facing until at least two years old. The current law says you can forward face the baby at 1 year and 20 pounds so I figured that is what I would do with Truman, too. But after reading that article and seeing that You Tube video I will absolutely keep Truman rear facing until he's two. It makes my stomach queasy to even think about getting into an accident with him in the car and I want to do everything possible to make sure he would come out of that alive without a major neck injury. I know a lot of people worry about leg room and that the baby will 'not like' facing backward for so long but I really don't think he'll know any different and will just cross his legs or bend them up as needed. I'd rather have a broken leg after an accident than a broken neck---call me dramatic, but those links really did change my perspective.

We have the BOB 2010 Revolution stroller, plus the infant car seat adapter, and the handlebar console and it was one of the best purchases we made for Truman. I can honestly say that we have used the BOB more than I ever thought possible----for running and walking outside, of course, but also in stores as our only stroller. We didn't get a travel system and just recently bought a little $30 stroller to use in the airport----otherwise the BOB is it for us. We didn't even use shopping carts for Truman until about 10 months and instead we'd just pack the BOB in our car and put T in that for any excursions to Target, the grocery store, the mall, etc. It's quite pricey but luckily for us we used our REI dividend and paid nothing for it that way.

We chose the Revolution because we liked the idea of having the choice of a locked front wheel versus unlocked---and let me tell you, we LOVE the unlocked method and have never even used it locked. I just don't like how it steers when locked. The infant seat adapter is just a metal bar that goes across, to allow a little baby to ride in the BOB in his car seat. We didn't start to use the BOB without the car seat until Truman was about 7 months old so I'm glad we got the adapter. Also, Chicco car seats do not fit well into BOB----only Graco and Peg Perego seats technically fit in there, which is why we stuck with Graco for our seat instead of a Chicco.

The stroller looks huge and bulky but it glides like butter and it folds up nicely to fit in the trunk no problem. It's not really that heavy, either, and I promise you it's worth it's weight in gold if you are a runner/walker and want to take baby with you. I have logged many-a-mile with Truman in the BOB because he always slept for me on our outings and I could get some sunshine plus exercise while he rested. I love the BOB and it only took about 3 runs to get the hang of pushing a stroller in front of me.

(the day Nate bought it, with Truman just days old in the background!)

(in May at 2 months-with infant seat)

We registered for the Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumper, and I don't see it on the BRU site anymore. I literally just picked this one based on customer ratings on the BRU site and because Hannah registered for it, too. I loved comparing my friends' registries to get ideas and it seemed like a lot of mine got this baby, so it had to be good!

Yes, it's fairly hideous with obnoxious primary colors and all kinds of doo-dads hanging off it. And yes, it's pretty huge and definitely doesn't fold up like they say. But Truman loved this thing for many months and so we kept it out in our living room until just recently as the centerpiece for our babyville house. I like that it adjusts for height, let's them bounce and spin around without actually moving across the floor, and has plenty of things to occupy their minds. It wasn't too hard to wipe it off every now and then and we added a few extra dangly toys to the empty hooks for fun. Basically it was like one big seizure waiting to happen, over-stimulation to the max but so fun!

(First time in Tilly's Jumper---at almost 4 months old. Had to use blankets to prop him up and books under his feet back then!)

(Truman at 9 months----it's getting to be too babyish at this point)

We registered for the Graco Contempo highchair, in pattern 'Birkshire'. I picked it out online sight unseen specifically because it said it folded up and took up very little space---key when you live in a small place! And yes, it definitely does fold up nicely and we did try to pack it away behind our kitchen table each night for a little while. But now we just leave it out and roll it from the kitchen to the family room as needed. I like that it has a second fabric cover so that I can wash them as needed. And I like that it reclines as needed, too, because when he was really little he couldn't always sit up perfectly straight. We don't even use the shoulder straps anymore, just the lap straps, and I like that the big tray has a separate piece that pulls out for easy washing. So all in all, it's pretty big but we use this thing at least three times a day if not more.

(first time in the chair at 6 months----he is so little and short here compared to now!)

(in his chair at 7 months)

(and at 9 months with 'real' food)

The Fischer-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat is an awesome 'first chair' and portable seat. We keep this one downstairs at my in-laws and it's great because it takes up little space sitting on a regular chair. We've even taken this one out to restaurants but I wasn't a huge fan of carting it around, so it stays at home now. It also has a separate plastic piece on the tray for easy washing but since the chair isn't padded like our big chair, it's not as comfortable for him. We still like having one big standard high chair and one booster seat, though.

(trying it out for the first time at 4 months)

5. Pack-N-Play:

The pack-n-play that we chose is the Graco PNP 'Pippin' and we love it so much we have two of them---one for home and one for daycare. In reality we rarely use ours at home but I know Lori uses hers a lot at daycare. The reason we chose this particular PNP is because it's one of the least expensive ones out there, with the least number of 'bells and whistles'. No changing table or huge mobile, just a basic PNP---which is just what we wanted. If you have a large home with two levels, it makes sense to get a fancy PNP to use as the primary sleeping zone/changing zone for baby. But since we are in a small house we just used the PNP for visiting babies and downstairs at my in-laws a bit. We've never even traveled with our PNP, although it is small enough to fit nicely in a car, because our friends/family always have a place for Truman to sleep without us carting our own PNP down there. So basically, if you are going to rarely use a PNP and want the least fancy one out there, this style is a great one for you.

The diaper bag I picked is the JJ Cole and it's most similar to this one: "System Bag 180" although mine is red, not pink. I do like it and would recommend it but I really don't even use it anymore. In the early days I had to leave the house armed with EVERYTHING possible except for the kitchen sink and this bag was perfect for overdoing it as a new mom. I like the changing pad that fits nicely inside and all the little pockets.

I already posted about it in my other 'baby gear:one month post' but the Arms Reach Mini Classic Co-sleeper was a fabulous purchase for us and we used it consistently for the first 2 months in the bedroom, and then another 2 months after that in the living room for a napping spot. Please observe how adorable my little man is here at just 6 weeks old.


I think those are all the big/important items we have and hopefully this post and my research helps someone out there who feels a little overwhelmed with all the baby paraphernalia out there! Questions, thoughts?
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