Thursday, January 30, 2014

cloth diapering: the inspiration

As promised, here are a few posts that encouraged and inspired me in my cloth diapering journey thus far.

1. This was one of the first bloggers I follow who wrote about their cloth experience. Though I haven't chosen to use the same types, it was interesting to read about the process & how it changed as their family grew.

2. One of my absolute favorite bloggers, Melissa of Dear Baby, wrote two really great posts about cloth. One explains choosing a cloth diaper and the other lays out how it actually works for their family. SO helpful!

3. This family wrote regular updates on the whole process-- from choosing to cloth diaper to adding cloth wipes to the rotation to dealing with stink issues later on.

4. Even though it's not about the brands I'll use, this post was very clear and helpful in thinking through how to choose a cloth diaper system.

5. Another blogger wrote about their system with 2 little kiddos. I'm planning to use BumGenius brand, too, but won't have specific newborn sizes as she does.

I'm thinking our process will evolve as time goes by. I'm super excited to start this journey, but am trying to hold loosely to my ideas so I don't get bogged down in the next few months. Stay tuned!

Pregnancy: week 40

Week 40
1 baby who doesn't seem to want to come out into this cold Philadelphia weather!
3 days of work for this momma-to-be. Officially on maternity leave now, kids!
7.5 pounds of baby in there (Our midwife's estimate. We shall see.)
1.5 cinnamon rolls consumed
1.5 pounds gained since last week (hmmm... directly related to those cinnamon rolls....?)
4 long walks
5 bright, cheerful cloth diaper covers washed and hung to dry
0 days wearing maternity jeans. They accidentally got dried in the dryer and are too uncomfortable to consider wearing for any extended length of time. So it's leggings and sweats for the indefinite future :)

In other prenatal appointment news:
Baby is no longer posterior (eyes looking up), but apparently her eyes are facing sideways (to the left) when ideally they should face my butt. That's a nice visual, eh? This is called OT position and isn't the absolute best position, but there doesn't seem to be much we can do at this point besides moving around and being active during labor. As of Tuesday afternoon I was 1cm dilated and still not very effaced (she guessed 25%, as opposed to last week's guess of 50%). That number was slightly discouraging, but it's progress from the week before, so we'll take it! Our midwife reassured me that I am doing everything right... first babies just tend to take their time. :)

There is no reason for concern because baby is moving and her heartbeat is strong, but standard procedure is to schedule a non-stress test and ultrasound at 41 weeks to check on heartbeat, placenta, amniotic fluid, and baby size. We have that appointment set for Monday, February 3rd.

Here's to hoping labor starts before then!

Monday, January 27, 2014

cloth diapering: the plan

I have been convinced for a while now that cloth diapering is something I'd like to give the ol' college try when we have kiddos. Joel was easy-going about the idea & has been completely supportive of whatever research I do and decisions I make regarding type, brand, cost, etc.

Our choice to use cloth is based on a variety of factors. It will save money in the long run, yes, but it's also an environmental decision, and selfishly, I've read that cloth diapered babies are often potty trained more easily & I would love for that to be the case in our house. I have baby-sat enough to know that newborns are insanely challenging, so I've already given myself permission to wait a month or so to start using cloth with our little one. Hopefully in the long run we'll figure out a cloth diaper system that works for us and fits smoothly into our family's routine and lifestyle.

So far we've purchased or been given:
10 Bum Genius 4.0 pocket diapers with snaps (We have mostly gender-neutral colors, but I did get some pink because they're darn adorable. This kind is supposed to fit babies starting at 8 pounds, but I've read that skinny legs take a while to fit well, so we'll see how quickly they work for this babe.)
12 flannel wipes
1 large planet wise pail liner (I plan to get a regular old trash can that will fit the pail liner and can open easily with a foot pedal or one hand)
2 Thirsties diaper covers with snaps (My friend Ashley uses diaper covers with "prefolds" and can often re-use the covers multiple times between washes. Hope that's true for us, too!)
2 Thirsties hemp inserts (to help with absorbancy)
We also have some pre-fold diapers that were given to us by my cousin.

Eventually we'll need to buy:
More pre-folds
A zipper-sealed wet bag
A diaper sprayer
WAY more cloth wipes!

Future issues to consider:
Prepping all these diapers before we use them the first time
Wash routine (which detergent, drying location, etc.)

image here

Future blog posts will reference some great resources I have found. Also, my Pinterest boards have links to a few good sites, so feel free, as always, to follow me there :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

all this free time

Okay, baby, in case you are a genius and can already read (not to mention see through layers of skin & organs!), here's a little note from me to you:


Today marks 40 weeks of pregnancy, aka: the official due date. I had no idea how annoying and frustrating it would be to wait beyond the day we've been holding onto in our minds. I even said multiple times, "I don't really expect her to come by then," whenever Joel announced our due date.

But apparently I did expect her to come by now.

Because I'm getting increasingly tired of being pregnant and increasingly antsy for labor to just.start.already. Yesterday was a bit of a tease because my contractions increased in frequency and strength and both of us got excited that maybe she was on her way.

Anyway, I leave work each day with nothing undone, just in case I go into labor and the sub has to start the next morning. I don't even bring home papers to grade, just in case. So, I have all this free time on my hands. And just in case you're all dying of curiosity, here's a quick list of things I'm doing with all this free time:

1. wrapping my parents' birthday presents. for their birthday which is at the end of February. ha.
2. making two birth playlists- one upbeat and one quiet
3. looking at newborn & labor/delivery photos on Pinterest
4. looking at recipes I have no intention of making on Pinterest
5. walking the mall. walking Target. walking the freezing cold streets. walking up the stairs in my house.
6. looking through the baby clothes. for the millionth time.
7. eating most of the Lindt dark chocolate truffles I bought two weeks ago and put into our "birth center bag"
8. re-organizing my Pinterest boards
9. making a meal for the freezer, to eat once we come home from the birth center
10. looking through my birth center bag to make sure I have everything
11. using the bathroom. like constantly.
12. finishing reading "Mockingjay" for the second time, even though it'll be a million years before the movie(s) come out!
13. snuggling with Joel
14. watching shows on Netflix
15. bouncing on my labor ball
16. hanging out in the nursery
17. daydreaming about meeting this little one. hopefully it's SOON!

Friday, January 24, 2014

pregnancy: week 39

week 39
2 snow days
1 treacherous drive home from work that took 2 hours instead of 50 minutes!
2 babies shown off on Facebook who were supposed to be born AFTER our baby, not before! :)
11 hours of sleep one night!
1 darling baby hat arriving in the mail
15 minutes walking around town on perhaps the coldest night this month
Some pre-natal appointment stats:
0 pounds gained this week (as opposed to 3.5 pounds last week!)
0 centimeters dilated but 50% effaced (as of Wednesday morning)

5 nights of rocking on all fours, sitting on my birth ball, and leaning forward in hopes of turning our girl anterior. It worked! At Wednesday's appointment, the baby's head was way down and her back was along my left side! Hooray!

Joel and I are both so ready to meet this little one! We talk regularly about how she'll look, what she'll be like, how it will be to have a new person in our home... I'm getting more and more uncomfortable and we're both just trying to keep our minds occupied while we wait.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

the waiting game

Yes, I'm still going to church. Yes, I'm still teaching. No, the baby hasn't arrived. No, I don't know whether I'm dilated or effaced yet. Yes, everything in the nursery is ready. Yes, my classroom is completely set for a sub to take over at any time. Yes, I'm scared stiff. No, I'm not prepared for the pain of childbirth. No, I don't have any idea how big this child will be. Yes, I'm excited. Yes, I put together the new (awesome!) travel crib my co-workers surprised me with last Friday. Yes, I took it down shortly afterward so our basement wasn't overrun with baby stuff.

These answers and more have crossed my lips or my mind in the last few days. We're one week from our "due date" and baby could arrive any time. I fully anticipate she could be "late" and I could still be waiting almost three weeks from today. I'm antsy and nervous and excited and uncertain and utterly breathless with joy & anticipation.

So the real question becomes this: how do I play the waiting game well?

How do I love Joel tenderly when my mind is so focused on the unknowns of life to come?
How do I communicate with my friends and family about things other than this little child?
How do I focus my mind enough to pray for the needs of others?
How do I sleep when nothing is comfortable?
How do I honor the Lord with my time, my energy, my heart?

These questions and more are ever-present as I meander through this waiting game. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

pregnancy: week 38

Week 38
35 minutes with the midwife who gave us lots of information about being in labor and encouraged us to soak up these moments together, just the two of us

2 hours on a field trip so my kids could learn to ice skate (NO, I didn't join them!)
3 loads of laundry folded in the nursery, just because I like hanging out in there
1 little worm who is hanging out posterior (aka: face up, along my back, NOT the ideal position for labor!)
2 parents-to-be who are praying for this girl to flip herself around and be anterior before she makes her grand entrance, thank you very much.
10 minutes at a time, three nights in a row, spent rocking on all fours in a small attempt to help baby wiggle around (Joel came in and said, "Are you okay?!" Ha!)
1 care package from a sweet, sweet friend for little 'Berts, including a sushi onesie that says, "This is how I roll" :)
sushi image here

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Baby' first shoes

I have resisted buying baby shoes for the last nine months. Babies don't need shoes for a while and you never know when they'll fit certain sizes. Plus, feet grow fast and shoes are expensive.

But baby shoes are darn cute and it's been nearly impossible to resist them so long.

Two weeks from this little one's due date and I finally caved. I bought these tiny Toms at a used clothing store yesterday. 10 bucks, y'all!
They're in perfect condition (just need a run through the washer!) and are gender-neutral in case any future kid comes along to wear 'em. I'm thrilled to have held out for this long and I'm extra thrilled that my daughter's first pair of shoes are navy blue velcro-strap Toms.

Here are a few other darling shoes I've been eying but haven't let myself buy.
Just a little eye candy for your Thursday...

1. Mini fringed moccasins

2. Gray moccasins

3. Toms Botas (more gray!)
4. Red baby converse

Now that I'm looking through these pictures, I'm realizing none of these shoes are especially feminine. Okay, maybe the fringed booties.... But I really like the idea of my kiddos passing down shoes from one to the next as they grow out of them. Also, neutral shoes balance out the insane amount of girly clothes we've been given. I imagine wanting a little gray, red, and brown (and navy!) to go along with all the pink...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Last spring when I found out I'd been offered a full-time teaching position for this school year I drove home after work to tell Joel. He was thrilled and I cried my eyes out.

I was thrilled, too, but at 7 weeks pregnant I was completely overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed at the idea of getting what I'd wanted all year. At the thought of delivering a baby midway through a school year. At the possibility of being in my own classroom with a bunch of little tykes learning from me every day. At the perfect provision of a good God who was allowing me to be a teacher again AND had given me the gift of a little life growing quietly inside.

Today on my way home I cried my eyes out again.

Because I'm overwhelmed again.

By my fears of inadequacy. By my worries about maintaining a nursing relationship with my daughter after just 6 weeks at home. By the uncertainty of finances and what we'll do next year. By this powerful, consuming love for a child I've never seen. By the way her tiny heels kicking my right side can completely blow me away. By my husband who graciously rubs my back when it's sore and tells me I'm beautiful time after time. By my colleagues who cover dismissal duty for me when I leave early for pre-natal appointments. By the same good God who has equipped me to teach, and to grow a healthy baby, and to know him intimately, all at the same time, despite my failures.
I guess what I've learned since that exciting day last June is that feeling overwhelmed can be a good thing. If it breaks me down and puts me in a place of dependence on my good God, overwhelmed is exactly what I should be.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

the finished nursery

Right off the bat I feel the need to say I'm not super excited about these photos. I took them in the morning when the bright sunshine was reflecting off the 6 inches of snow outside both windows.

BUT I am super excited about our girl's completed nursery, which is just waiting for her arrival so we can all enjoy it together!
The funny space between the two gray frames on this gallery wall will hold a turquoise letter for baby's name. It's hidden in the closet until she actually arrives. My generous mom helped me arrange the entire wall AND kept her eyes closed so we could check the letter's fit without her seeing it. Thanks, Mom! :)

So many of the things in this room were given with love, saved from my childhood bedroom, or hand-made by friends or family members.

All the items were carefully chosen and the room already brings Joel and I such happiness. Sometimes I catch him in there, just looking around. More often he catches me in there, just rearranging the clothes. Again.

Also, here's a budget breakdown and list of where all the fun stuff in the nursery came from, if you're interested:
crib: wal-mart (gift from Grandma Alberts)
crib mattress: amazon (bought with $ from a friend)
dresser: found on the side of the road and re-finished/re-painted by us! The gray paint was left over from our bedroom. Free
curtains: similar from IKEA. $20
closet curtain: this set from IKEA. We only used one for the closet; the other is still available for use.  $10
elephant poster with frame:  IKEA, too. $20 total
white photo ledges: $20 for two
rocking chair: moved from our living room Free
off-white lamp on dresser: clearance at Marshalls $22
assorted wire and wicker baskets: Marshalls/TJMaxx clearance About $35 bucks total
pink "baby 'berts" banner: handmade by my friend Becca for our shower <3
gallery wall: (cross-stitch frame and Japanese girl in tree- from my childhood room; colorful landscape- made by Joel's Oma; curious George canvas- gift from my mom last year; colored paper in gray frame- wrapping paper I purchased at a boutique in Baltimore last year; kissing photo- taken on our first trip to Washington state together about 2 years ago) Free
clock: IKEA $15

Friday, January 10, 2014

Recommended reading

I've only been home from work for 15 minutes but I've already consumed multiple handfuls of sweet potato tortilla chips AND read two amazing blog posts.

I'd love to share the posts here, in case you are interested in some wise after-work reading.



Ready to start the weekend, friends.

Next week I hope to share our little lady's finished nursery. So stay tuned for that.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

pregnancy: week 37

Lookit me, posting all early this week.

We're 37 weeks and 5 days in here, folks. So basically 38 weeks. And totally full-term. This little lady can come anytime, in my opinion!
Week 37
0 comfortable positions for standing, sitting, or laying
5 days back to school
20 kiddos who are DYING to know this little one's name
3 nights of heartburn... it doesn't stop
1 negative test for group B strep. WAHOOOOOOO-- no antibiotics during labor!
4 nights when I woke up thinking my water had broken. Only to realize I was sweating and the crib mattress pad I'm now sleeping on had absorbed the sweat so it didn't soak into our mattress. Ha. Gross.

5 new cloth diapers purchased!!! (our total is now 9)
10-15 irregular but still uncomfortable contractions per day

Sunday, January 5, 2014

our after birth meal

Our birth center's policy is to have new parents and their babies go home a few hours after delivery. One thing they require is that new moms eat a "real" meal before going home, so when you arrive to have your baby you're supposed to bring something that can be prepared easily after the birth. That way you leave well-nourished and ready to rest peacefully (???) at home.

The birth center has a full kitchen with fridge, stove, etc., so anything you bring is totally fine. I decided that the meal I'd like to have is one that I almost always make for friends at church whenever they have a new baby. It's from this great cookbook called "The Good Neighbor Cookbook" which I bought a few years back. (Joel loves it, too, so that's a plus!)

Because the recipe is one of my absolute favorites, I thought I'd share it here. Enjoy!

Toasted garlic marinara
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. 
Add 4-6 cloves of garlic (sliced) and cook, stirring until light golden brown. 
Add 2 (28 oz) cans of whole peeled tomatoes with juice, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon sugar, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and a dash of black pepper. 
Bring all to a boil. 
Decrease heat and simmer on low, breaking the tomatoes up (I use a potato masher but you can use a wooden spoon). Let simmer about 20 minutes until slightly thickened.

After the marinara is done, you can make the ravioli dish:
I buy about 3 pounds of frozen cheese ravioli and split it between two 8x8 pans. Then in each pan, stir in 4 cups baby spinach, 1 cup heavy cream, some basil leaves (optional), 1/4 cup Parmesan and about half of the marinara. I also sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top, but that's optional too. 
Bake at 400 until the sauce is bubbling and top is golden, about 25 to 30 minutes

Saturday, January 4, 2014

pregnancy: week 36

Would you just look at this bump?!
I can't believe I thought my belly was big last month. AND the month before that. Holy smokes, we are growing! I'm super curious how much this little worm weighs and how tall she's going to be!

Week 36
35 minutes with the midwife who said the heartbeat is strong and my fundal height is 36 centimeters- perfect!
6 inches of snow in less than 24 hours
0 days of school
1 package arriving from Target which contained our humidifier and washable changing pads!! 
2 parents-to-be who managed to stay up till midnight on New Years Eve!
9 hours of sleep per night, average (vacation is awesome!)
3 pounds gained since our last midwife appointment two weeks ago
1 blood sample taken & 1 mini bruise that lasted about a week
3 nights eating pizza for dinner

Friday, January 3, 2014

third trimester favs

I know, I know, we still have potentially 5.5 weeks left to go before baby A makes her appearance. The third trimester definitely isn't over, but I've had enough weeks in it to be confident in listing a few favorites that have made the last couple months manageable/slightly more comfortable.

1. An exercise ball. This big blue guy has really helped my aches and pains because I can sit in a variety of positions and can use it watching TV, working at my desk, etc. I'll use it during labor, too, so this is a win-win purchase.
2. Cranberry ginger ale. Pretty sure this is a Christmas season drink, so maybe I should stock up before it's all gone. I could drink this Yum!

3. Extra pillows. I used to sleep with two- one under my head and another between my knees. Nowadays I need an extra pillow so I can have one between my knees whatever side I'm sleeping on. I don't have the energy or mental fortitude to switch the pillow from one side to the next every time I wake up. Plus, the extra support behind my back makes me more comfortable.

4. Clementines. OH my goodness, I eat clementines like candy. They are so easy, quick, and delicious. Baby may just turn out to be a citrus freak.

5. Walking. This has been a recurring theme  throughout my pregnancy. Even though the days are shorter and it's tough to squeeze in a walk during the busy weeks of school, walking always helps me feel better at the end of the day. My joints are happy; my digestive system is happy; my mental state is much more stable.

6. Chocolate. This is hit or miss. Some evenings chocolate contributes to my already brutal heartburn, but other times chocolate is just the pick-me-up I need when I'm feeling grouchy or tired. My favorites have been Lindt dark chocolate truffles and some peppermint bark chocolates Joel got from a student. Pretty sure he hasn't eaten any of them... oops.

What about you, friends? Any pregnancy life-savers that got you through the last trimester?

image here.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

one month out: to-do list

In less than 6 weeks, Joel and I will be parents.

I hope it's a little sooner than that, because our due date is actually 25 days from now, but we have to acknowledge that little 'Berts could take her sweet time leaving her cozy, watery home in my belly. So, 6 weeks= max!

Things are really coming together and I think both of us are pretty ready to get this show on the road.

Today Joel assembled the cradle someone let us borrow and I typed out some notes about birth that we'll take with us on delivery day. I also added a few diapers in the next size up to her bag, just in case this girl is somehow really big. Joel also put together the bag he's taking to the birth center- complete with some clothes he doesn't mind throwing away because the midwife told him yesterday that things could get messy :)

Because I love lists, here are a few things still to do:
1. Go to the local breastfeeding resource center. My friend (hi, Andrea!) gave me her breast pump, but it needs some replacement parts that they sell at the center. Plus, I'll be able to get a few more supplies and also just say hello to the lactation consultants there.
2. Cross our fingers that the final shipment from Target arrives soon. We ordered a humidifier for the nursery as well as some washable waterproof pads for changing diapers on.... they are still not here, over a week after ordering. Ick.
3. Buy a few post-partum supplies for me to use in recovering from labor/delivery.
4. Wash the 2 spare crib sheets and the cradle mattress pad/sheet. Those and the tiny pair of leggings I couldn't resist buying for $2 on the GAP clearance rack...
5. Get the rest of our cloth diapers. I'm heading to the local cloth diaper store on Friday to stock up. We won't use them for a month or so, but it'll be good to have them here, washed and ready at that point.
6. Sleep. Relax. Go on dates. Hang out with friends.

Basically, that's it. We're as ready as we can be.