Tag Archive | "personal post"

I’m struggling here and asking for your input!

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In a departure from the normal posts on cloth diapers, my house, or my kids I’m going to put out a problem I’ve been struggling with here on the blog.  I would TRULY appreciate honest feedback and because you are the people I make this website for your voice matters most.

My blog- Dirty Diaper Laundry- is thriving.  It’s doing better than ever, traffic continues to increase even though Facebook has done their best to hide my updates from all of you who like my page.  Who needs ‘em?  Since starting this website in 2009 I’ve been updating it regularly.  In fact, I’ve started and ended many other projects since 2009 but I’ve never neglected the blog- it is my home and my passion.

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In 2010 I started another passion project- something no one had ever attempted before!  Cloth Diaper Finder, a searchable cloth diaper database, was born in 2011 after nearly a year of designing, spreadsheeting, and working with a developer to make my vision come to life!  I had incredibly high hopes for this database- it solved the problem I saw most in our community!  How many times did I witness people wondering what diaper to pick?  ”If only I could find a diaper that was a One Size, with natural fibers, made in the USA, that also didn’t require unstuffing.”  MY DATABASE LETS YOU FIND OUT IF THIS EXISTS AND THEN TELLS YOU THE BRAND AND WHERE TO FIND IT!

I LOVE the Cloth Diaper Finder.  And I HATE it.  I made a big mistake when I created this beast- I had the developer link it up to my blog through WordPress.  I wish I had known better… Since 2011 I have been battling this database- each update I make to my blog breaks it.  I have to call my developer and he charges me a boatload to fix it (and according to him this cannot be avoided… hmph) .  I can’t ever change my blog’s design unless I pay someone 5x as much to also change the database and make sure the new blog design doesn’t kill the Finder.  My entire website has started to look dated and I just can’t afford the fee quoted to me to fix the entire mess I created.  I do earn an income from this blog- I won’t pretend I don’t- but because the cost to redesign is so high (a huge chunk of my entire year’s income) it isn’t worth it for me at this time.

Traffic for the database is good…. not as good as I thought when I designed it, but it is still one of the top sources of traffic on the blog.  That makes me happy.  I want people to use this tool because it is amazing!  I use it!  When I can’t remember a diaper name I look it up by what I remember and BOOM, it appears.  But then I think of the heartache it causes me, the stress, the inability to fix the blog that DOES bring money to our household.  My load time on the blog is slow and I can’t fix it because of the database.  I can’t touch the blog without breaking the database.  My website is in a constant state of “oh shit” with the database linked to it- one minor change and the entire thing could potentially just implode.  If I were better at coding I’d definitely fix it myself but alas, my code knowledge is only good enough to change colors or add images!  Perhaps this is all coming to a crisis point because I can’t update my blog right now and I feel it is vulnerable to attacks- in fact, one already happened but my husband and I were able to fix it.

Here is where I finally ask YOU for advice.  What do I do about this hole I’ve dug?  What if I were to remove it from the blog and have it stand alone?  Would you still use it even if the look isn’t updated or there were no new features added?

If I were to actually pay someone to move it and change it, what features would you like to see added?  What about it currently do you not like?

And finally… this one is a BIG IF but I’m curious- how would you feel about an attempt to crowdsource funding for the move and updating of the database only?  I myself am not sure how I feel about the concept in general, but because the database costs me more than it earns (true story, I use all the ad revenue and listing fees it brings and take more from the blog to keep it running) using revenue from DDL isn’t feasible to fund the changes at this time.  The Finder is a great resource for those who use it but it is sucking me dry and causing me more stress than it is worth.  If the community at large finds it helpful enough that they themselves would like to help me make it run better then I wouldn’t rule it out.  If not- that is OK too.

I’m really looking for some direction.  I KNOW this thing is amazing but for some reason the word hasn’t spread enough to make it profitable.  Or even break even.  Some days I want to just press a big DELETE button and be done with it but the brands who HAVE supported it, the advertisers who DO run ads, the people who DO use it on a regular basis- those people matter more to me than my own blog’s demise.

Please leave a comment with your opinion.  I’m listening.

 

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7 Ways Cloth Diapering Changed My Life

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Without being dramatic I can absolutely say with confidence that cloth diapering changed my life!  That one decision I made while pregnant over 5 years ago has paid dividends for my family and not just because we saved a few thousand dollars over the course of diapering two children.  You’ll be surprised at how drastically my life has changed simply due to cloth diapering.

Cloth diapers changed my life

1. The most obvious change was the money savings from diapering two children.  I would estimate that after the cost of my diapers and accessories I saved $2,740 dollars!  And since my youngest still needs diapers on occasion at night we are still raking in the savings by him wearing reusable trainers instead of disposable pull-ups.  When our family was brand new we needed all the money savings we could get.  The money saved was able to go to our rent and other expenses, making it easier to have a baby and be young parents fresh out of college.

2. I started cutting down waste in other areas and became more conscious of household wasters like napkins and paper towels.  I ordered unpaper towels and a reusable kitchen wet bag to store the dirty ones in.  It hasn’t made us cut them out completely but every little bit helps.  It also helped me think before buying certain products.  Buying items that use less packaging cuts down on our household waste overall and buying products sold in glass is something I prefer to do.

3.  I became aware of the chemicals in disposable hygiene products for babies AND women.  That propelled me to switch from tampons to the reusable menstrual cup.  That one decision has changed my quality of life tremendously!  I can get through one menstrual cycle with only changing a cup 4-6 times versus changing a tampon that many times in ONE day!  I stopped having strange cramps and I haven’t had to buy any more boxes of tampons in over a year since using the Lunette!

4. Babywearing was suddenly a word I knew the meaning of!  Cloth diapering moms also liked babywearing so I saw the term, learned what it was all about, and tried it myself.  It made parenting my needy baby boys much easier.  Truthfully, I don’t know what I would have done with my velcro babies without my Ergo, my wraps, and my Maya Wrap Sling!

5.  I gave birth- at HOME!  Again, being involved in the cloth diapering community introduced me to the concept of homebirth.  It was not love at first sight but as my second pregnancy progressed the idea was more and more appealing to me.  Late in my pregnancy I made the switch to a homebirth midwife and at 41.5 weeks my second baby boy was born in my bedroom into an inflatable pool.  That moment is one I will never forget- it healed me from my first bad birth experience and my son was born healthier, more alert, and better at breastfeeding.

6.  Extended breastfeeding was normal in my circle of support, not gross.  I had the support I needed to make it through tough times and the inspiration to pull through in order to do what I felt was best for my sons.  With my second we made it to almost 3 years and I wouldn’t have even known this was acceptable and NORMAL without my new circle of friends and acquaintances.

7. I have a surprising career thanks to cloth diapering.  While the 1-5 are probably common among all of you, I loved cloth diapering so much it also became my job.  At first it was just a hobby blog, then it started earning ad revenue, then I started being hired by other companies for various jobs (like video editing/filming, social media or twitter parties, or consulting) and it allowed me to stay at home for with my young children and supplement our income.  Cloth diapering led me to learn how to edit videos, how to use social media, and do it all from home (or Starbucks.)  Instead of going back into the workforce when the boys are both in school I plan to keep working from home.

How has cloth diapering changed your life?

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I’m only in it for the points: FitBit Addiction

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I’m switching gears here from my usual area of expertise (cloth diapers, cloth diapers, breastfeeding, cloth diapers) and throwing a blog curve ball at you today.  (post contains affiliate links to some of the products I’m using that were all my own purchases, this is not a review or endorsement)

Fitbit- do you have one?  I got mine for Mother’s Day after deciding I was going to start Couch to 5K (I mentioned it in May).  I felt having a way to track my steps each day and other statistical information would be beneficial to my overall health and weight loss goals.  I also thought throwing some money at it would help keep me motivated and invested, otherwise I’d be wearing a $100 Armstrong-esque silicon armband for “looks.”  I also threw some money at a pair of running shoes (that turned out not to be ideal according to the running store I later visited) and calf compression sleeves I needed for the shin splints likely caused by the not-so-great running shoes.

Obligatory Lego in the background

Obligatory Lego in the background

I have slacked on the running thing (I am blaming the inescapable heat and humidity for this… not even a 7 AM run would be early enough to escape it) but I’m still obsessed with the FitBit.

I even lost 2 pounds!  In fact, I didn’t lose any weight while running but in the weeks that followed I lost those two pounds.  Was it because my overall activity increased thanks to my FitBit?  Maybe.  Was it because I was broke and stopped drinking as many lattes?  That could also be a factor.

The FitBit has changed my days because I’m a competitive gamer.  I’m in it for the points.  I want to WIN at walking.   I want a high score and I don’t want to fall to the bottom of my Friends list.  I’m consistently in 2nd place each week except for the time my battery was dead for 24 hours while traveling, causing me to miss out on over 10,000 steps I would have earned while walking around the airport. (I typed this last night when I was in 2nd and woke up in 4th!  Luckily I’m heading to the zoo so I will catch up.)  I would strive for first place but she is 40,000 steps over me on average each week I am going to have to let her have that trophy.  The funny thing is that I’m always in a feminist blogger sandwich, one in 1st and one in 3rd, being surrounded by awesome women is a bit motivating as well!  My friend list isn’t full of athletes, I should be very thankful for that, otherwise I wouldn’t even be on my own leaderboard. (You should read David Sedaris’ article about his FitBit addiction if you think I have it bad.  I love him.)

One of my older dashboards that hasn't been deleted yet!

One of my older dashboards that hasn’t been deleted yet!

I check my numbers as often as I check my Instagram feed.  If I see I’m well below making a good day I go for a walk or clean my house.  In fact, the FitBit has caused my house to stay much cleaner since I know I will get a lot of steps from doing housework.  I call up a friend and start cleaning.

When I shop I look crazy because I only push the cart with one hand, otherwise I would miss out on a few hundred steps (pushing carts and strollers doesn’t seem to count!).  I may also have a adapted a more exaggerated arm swing just to ensure each step gets counted.  If you see a crazy lady pushing a shopping cart with one left arm swinging wildly that’s me.

Along with tracking my steps, the FitBit has given me insight into my sleeping patterns.  I’m never going to win a “deepest and longest stretch of sleep” competition so it is useless for me there.  I am restless much of the night (not a surprise) and I can pinpoint the exact moments when I have to get up and address any nightmares or bedwetting incidents.

I’m aware that I’m probably doing this for all the wrong reasons, but if the results are there, who the heck cares?!  I’m looking forward to the end of summer.  I plan on getting back to running when the humidity isn’t practically visible!  I know that this fitness tracker isn’t 100% accurate (I don’t know of one that is, though I have friends who use MisFit, Fuel Band, and there are a lot of other wearable fitness trackers I haven’t even heard of) but if the result is more activity overall it is doing the job it was intended for and that has been fun and beneficial for me.

The only drawback I’ve felt so far has just come from wearing the thing 24/7.  I don’t want to miss out on any steps so no matter what the occasion, I’m wearing a silicone armband.  Date night?  I’ll wear the “pretty” red one.  Pre-K Graduation?  Teal.  At least there are some choices in colors for extra bands but it is still an athletic silicone armband.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m a bit behind and typing doesn’t count as activity and I need to grab a snack- but first I’m going to walk back and forth to the fridge 20 times.

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…and a Kim update too! Family, Fitness, Home, and BlogU

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No, I’m not making a pregnancy announcement like Lara did yesterday.  However, I realized I haven’t given a good “random stuff” update in a while about my family and our happenings.

 

FletcherupdateThe biggest update is that my oldest son is just about to graduate from Pre-K this month and will start Kindergarten at a charter school in the Fall.  This is the same kid that was testing diapers when I started Dirty Diaper Laundry 5 years ago.  Fletcher is at the age where he is really fun to be around, not because he is a baby and cute to look at, but because he says interesting things and can hold a conversation with you.  He has learned to read with ease, something I’m thankful for, and will even read a book to his brother at night.  I’m looking forward to this summer when his brother will be at school and he is home so that we have time for just us.  He is a competent bike rider and we can go about 3 miles total together on our rides.  He has even started jogging with me… more on that later.

 

bikeev copyEverett is also growing up quickly, too quickly, though to me his is still my baby.  He still wakes at night and crawls into bed with me and sleeps right in the crook of my arm which never ceases to fill my heart with joy.  Co-sleeping is the last bit of babyhood I have left so until he is done, I am content having him join for middle of the night cuddles.  Once that is gone, I fear all the baby from him will be gone and I’ll be looking at a real pre-schooler.  Last month he started at his brother’s “school” for 2 days a week, giving me a much needed break to either work or run errands without any children.   We have no family here so getting any breaks is few and far between and it definitely takes a toll on my sanity.  Even though Everett is very attached he took to school right away with no tears, much to my surprise.  He is also riding a bike with no training wheels (thank you balance bike for the early training) and we are stopped at least once a week by a passing car on our street to tell us how amazing it is to see such a young “baby” riding a real bike.  I think it is pretty amazing too, and together we take short rides  or he rides just on our cul-de-sac.

And now to type out something for the sake of putting it in the public sphere to hold myself accountable and feel an obligation to keep up with it.  I’ve actually started to exercise!  I was inspired by another blogger, The Feminist Breeder, who started her own group for Lazyass Runners, and I downloaded the Couch to 5k app.  I even bought new sneakers, the first pair I’ve purchased in about 8 years.  I bought an armband to hold my iPhone so I can listen to music and the app, and I’ve asked for a FitBit for Mother’s Day.  I was asking my husband for the adult Aden+Anais daydream blanket for Mother’s Day but that would probably just keep me on the couch even more than I already am, and since I’m trying to get off it that is probably a bad gift idea!  I’m just as surprised as anyone else about this development.  I’ve been extremely lucky in the metabolism department for the bulk of my life until about last year.  Once the breastfeeding and constant bouncing stopped, the weight creeped back up.  I’m a short gal so even a few pounds extra can mean my stomach is farther out than the DD’s that I kept after both pregnancies (seriously,where the HELL did those come from?!  I just bought two new bras and sure enough, that is my real size).

mothersdaygifts

So when it comes to fitness and being healthy I have no clue how to start.  I’ve never counted calories, I did count carbs during both pregnancies thanks to being a gestational diabetic, but I haven’t the first clue about what to eat and when.  I can’t give up coffee but I have given up the frappucinos, for now.  Realistically, I will be doing the three days a week of the Couch to 5k, and the rest will be bike rides or walks in between when possible.  Besides losing a bit of extra weight I’m looking forward to being less sedentary.  Blogging doesn’t exactly equate to a vigorous work day!  I may post some updates on my Instagram with the #couchto5k and #lazyassbloggers tag but I don’t have plans to incorporate this journey into regular blog updates.

couchfinalchoice

Our home updates have slowed down considerably.  We are still anxiously waiting for my Great Aunt’s 60′s era sectional to come back from the upholsterers (It has been there since February!).  We are having it recovered in a rich, deep teal that my husband and I both fell in love with.  I should definitely blog about that journey, reupholstery is not for the faint of heart, especially when having someone else do it! (Maybe I need to re-think getting that A+A blanket, doesn’t it match the couch?!)  In order to pay for this I have picked up quite a few videography gigs, filming and editing videos for companies and brands.  It is something I really enjoy doing and it combines my love of cloth diapers and reusable products with the skills I’ve picked up these 5 years.  I will be posting some updated interior shots but I want my couch first!  If you missed the year of DIY and home improvements you can catch up on those older posts.  Our entire home has been re-painted and remodeled, mostly by my husband and I, and now we are finally getting to just enjoy the home!  This July will mark 2 years living here in this home, and in Florida.

blogu14photoOther than the blogging and the video editing, much of my time has been spent helping the cloth diaper charity, Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.  It is an amazing thing to be apart of and I’m so proud of the work we are doing.  I’m also getting ready to speak at ABC Kids Spring  (a baby industry only conference) on a panel with bloggers way out of my league (I can admit that!) on social media in 2 weeks.  Jill from Baby Rabies, Charlie Chapen from How to be a Dad, and Jamie Grayson (we are not related, that was a real rumor!) who is THEBabyGuyNYC will be on the panel.  In June I’m off to BlogU, a blogging conference in Baltimore, MD.  I chose this particular blogging conference because of the lack of extras.  As fun and helpful as the BlogHer conferences have been in years past, I really wanted to try a smaller conference with less outside parties and events.  Not only is the cost significantly lower, but I’m looking forward to meeting others in that intimate setting.  I’ve been blogging for 5 years and there is still so much to learn!  If you stop teaching yourself and attending conferences you can be left in the dust.  New social media platforms pop-up (Pinterest and Instagram were not around when I started in 2009!) and algorithms change.  Blogging styles have changed- when I began having photos were not required, but now posts are so much more visual that not adding a photo is unheard of!  As much as I’d like to tune out the noise and just be one with my content, the world of self promotion and social media cannot be ignored.  There will also be sessions about the business side of blogging and many other topics I am happy to learn more about.  Plus, I get to hang with my roommate Amanda from The Eco-Friendly Family so that is always a bonus for work trips!

The summer will have an influence on my work schedule.  Things will slow as I spend time at the pool with the boys and with my new desire and commitment to exercise.  There are plenty of projects in the works though, so don’t count me out yet!  Can you believe my boy is going to school in the Fall?!

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5 Years, 300+ Videos, 1,300+ Posts. Happy Birthday DDL!

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It all started with an idea to help more parents see and understand modern cloth diapers so that they could make an informed decision.   That idea became a blog and that blog became a huge part of my life and eventually, a paying job as well as a passion/hobby.

Dirty Diaper Laundry started from an idea while a new and insomniac mom laid in bed thinking of a new cloth diaper coming out and how she wished she could see it in person without driving 2 hours to the closest diaper shop.  “What if I bought it and filmed it for other moms just like me who want to see how the diapers work and what they do?”  The very next day I bought a domain name, signed up for a hosting plan, and shortly after I filmed the new Gro Baby AI2 and posted it.

ddlfactslong

I wasn’t a blogger before starting DDL but I had created a few websites, though mostly in high school and usually about how much I loved The Smashing Pumpkins and/or my boyfriend.  I was making .gifs before .gifs were cool (I created them for message boards over 10 years ago) and had even turned my website knowledge into a job by creating and managing a restaurant’s website from scratch while still in high school- all hand coded HTML.  It was beautiful functional.  With my self-taught Photoshop/Website skills and my love of online research I dove in and started this blog, never knowing or planning it would be anything more than a fun hobby and hopefully an asset to other parents.

videoreviews

I knew way more about websites than I did about videography and video editing in the beginning.  My first videos were poorly lit, low quality, and badly edited, but I kept learning about what makes a good video.  As the blog began to earn ad revenue I started re-investing the profits into a better video camera, better editing software, better lighting, audio equipment, even better tripods and other equipment you never knew I had.  From the start I wanted to give you quality videos over quantity.  I wanted videos that weren’t shaky, weren’t grainy, weren’t full of high pitched white noise or anything else distracting.  I wanted the videos to be to the point and informative and for all of my video reviews to create a cohesive library.  It wasn’t until last year that I really began exploring other kinds of videos that weren’t review based, often featuring myself in the frame (a rare occurrence for the first 2-3 years) because you guys liked them!  Then one day I lost my marbles and filmed a video about menstrual cups.  I knew I had the skills to make something really great and helpful and like with cloth diapering, I felt I owed it to women to make a quality video educating them on their choices.  That video has the most views of all of my videos!  I went there, and I’m really glad I did because I get feedback every single week from women who made the switch thanks to that video.

Overall, my stance on cloth diapering has evolved from the first post.  I was far more militant and gung-ho about cloth diapers in 2009.  I thought every mom no matter what should use them every day with no exceptions.  I’ve grown and changed since then and my eyes have been opened to situations when cloth diapers just can’t work.  Long time readers will surely recognize this softening.  I don’t think this change has made me a less effective advocate- I think it makes me a better one, and a more understanding and compassionate one.  My posts here on DDL reflect this personal change, and while I do want every parent to switch, I understand there are times when they can’t.  Maybe they CAN later, and I’ll be here to help them along the way.  Making parents feel bad about their choices is not something I want to do.  I want them to feel like this is a safe place where they can learn and not be judged for using disposables in the past or even present.

diaperdiscussions

Part of this change has been a direct result of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, an event I started almost 3 years ago as a way to show that every parent can cloth diaper.  I still whole heartedly believe in this event and the amazing community it has created, plus the educational opportunities for cloth diaper advocates that are a direct result.  I and thousands of others have learned ways to cloth diaper for almost no money, and even without a washing machine.  Together we have performed back breaking nightly or morning diaper washes, reported on what works best, and found that it is possible but it isn’t exactly easy.  Doing this challenge teaches us all skills and compassion.  I’ve found flats to be the ultimate diaper above all others in this experience and my blog has been shaped by this as well.

 Simple can be better than easy.

I’ve also used the tiny “celebrity” of DDL to help another cause close to my heart- Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.  GDGH is a cloth diaper lending organization that a friend of mine started.  They began in 2011, and along with helping spread the word, I’ve also begun helping in a more concrete way behind the scenes.  It has become another large part of my life and my time, so much so that some days I spend more time working on their projects than I do on mine.  Speaking of… we are launching their new website design today!

Cloth Diaper Finder was another project I poured myself into because I knew the cloth diaper community needed it.  My husband was the “investor” and helped bring this one of a kind, searchable database to life.  It took months of planning and design with a programmer and it costs more to run than it has ever made but I believe in what it does and know it has helped so many families choose the right diaper for their families so I keep the money pit alive.  Make no mistake, this was the original searchable database and a project that came from 2 years of dreaming.  That’s all I will say about that one.

Is this real life?

I’m so incredibly fortunate in so many ways.  Starting this blog was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.  It has created a job for me and taught me why I always hated working- I cannot stand working for other people, now I don’t have to.  It isn’t work when you do what you love and for the most part that has held true for 5 years.  I’ve met amazing people, individuals that are changing the world, are compassionate, inventive, thoughtful, giving, and kick ass.  Many of those people are now great friends.  I’ve taught myself skills that translated into my life in other ways.  I now have a thriving side business where I’m filming and editing videos for companies.  I didn’t see that coming AT ALL and yet here I am, being paid to create videos for businesses that I can’t believe trust me to do this for them.  It is surreal!  This has been the best year yet in many ways.  I was recently in San Diego speaking at an expo about cloth diapers (also, I can’t believe that happened!) and have other fun plans coming soon.  I almost feel guilty that I get to do this.  10 years ago my goal was to teach high school English.  Now I have a BA in History and blog about cloth diapers and edit videos.

Life, man, you just never know where it will take you.

 

diaper_face

This community continues to grow and change.  In fact, it already has.  I have been watching for 5 years and have seen a significant shift.  That is for another day.  As long as there is a place for me in this community and as long as I can help families with my knowledge I will do so.  I’m lucky to have Lara here helping with reviews now that my babies are no longer in diapers.  Last year was rough- everyone stopped napping and I had no time to work.  Next year I will have a child in Kindergarten and one in Pre-K.  I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish with more time at my disposal.  I have big plans….

Thank you…

Thank you for reading, telling your friends about DDL, and thank you to the companies and brands that continue to support what I do with advertising and promotions.  The biggest thanks goes to my husband and kids.  My husband has supported me in this website since it began and is the one who pushes me to keep it going even when I want to throw in the towel.  He has seen the potential in it and in me when I couldn’t.  My son calls me “the best cloth diaper queen”-a title I am happy to accept.  He probably knows more about cloth diapers than most adults.

Next week is the big celebration with giveaways from sponsors like GroVia, Applecheeks, Thirsties, Bamboobies, Baby Shusher, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Molly’s Suds, Eco Nuts, Sweetbottoms, Jack be Natural, and more!  I’m joining up with The Eco Friendly Family so check back then to celebrate with us on our 5 years of blogging!

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When all else fails, blog about cats! Meet our adopted kitties, Marilyn and Monroe.

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As I juggle a lot of different projects outside of the blog itself I find it harder to devote the mental energy and time to get a good post up for you guys!  So… let’s talk about cats, man.

About 3 weeks ago we welcomed two cats to our family.  Inspired by an episode of Hoarders where there were 12 cats trapped in boxes, pacing back and forth and looking neglected and miserable, I immediately drove to one of the pet stores that has a cat adoption center.  My local store works with a charity that fosters cats, and they go to the stores during the day and on weekends in hopes of finding a forever home.

I’ve wanted to get a pet for the boys and for us but the timing was never right with various travel plans, but with no family trips planned at all in the near future it felt like a good time.  At the adoption center the cats were in their cages.  Everett was sleeping on my shoulder and Fletcher was getting to know the animals.

Fletcher and kitty

One kitty meowed at him.  That was the one.

There was a catch though… that cat could only be adopted in conjunction with her brother.  Uh-oh.   My son was head over heels in love with her, and she had a sweet face.  The brother on the other hand, was curled up in the corner and never came to greet us.  My “savior” complex kicked in and I knew I wanted to give both kitties a home.  We didn’t have any pets at all so adding two at once would be easier for us to do than others.  I wanted the kitties to stay together and wanted Fletcher to get the cat he loved.

We put in our application (I wrote it all out with 25 pounds sleeping in one arm) and we waited.  Fletcher cried each day for his cats and didn’t understand that it could take time.  Finally, we got the call 4 days later to bring out cats home!

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The cats have adjusted really well!  They went from their foster home and their daily cage time to a large, open home with two kids dying to play with them.  They still aren’t comfortable with the more hands on cuddling the children want to do, but hopefully they will be more willing as they get older.  They’re 9 months old so they have a little bit of playful kitten left.

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Marilyn (the shelter named them) is our girl cat, she has a distinctive mark next to her nose.

Monroe kitty

Monroe is our boy cat, he has a gorgeous angular face with shorter hair just on the face.

Are you wondering how I can tie this all in to cloth diapering?  Well, both cats are obsessed with my light box where I do my filming and product photography.  Every time I begin working they follow so close behind I can’t even shut the door before they squeeze into the room, then I can’t get them out of my box!  They leave their hair behind so I’m constantly lint rolling it.  I was taking photos yesterday and guess who just had to squeeze in?  This pretty much sums up our new life with cats.  They get into everything, drive us batty with their antics, but they make us smile and having a house with pets makes it feel more like a home.

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Pssst… I’ve turned into the “cat lady” on Instagram, so if you love cute kitty pictures and videos and want to follow me I’m Kim_Rosas! I use the #newkitties hashtag for the cat pics!

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Where, oh where, has my menstrual cup gone?!

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♫♪ Oh where, oh where can she be?!  She’s not in the drawer, behind it, or in my purse.  Perhaps my kids hid her from me! ♫♪

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Happy Birthday!  That’s what my uterus said on January 25.  What a shitty gift.  My uterus is a habitual re-gifter because she gave me that same gift on Christmas Day.  No biggie, I’ll just grab my Lunette and be on my way.  These days periods aren’t a big deal because the menstrual cup is one of those life-changing devices that makes each monthly visit less uncomfortable and less of a chore.

WHERE IS MY CUP?!  I looked in my “cup” drawer and only found the cups left over from demonstration videos of the wrong size, or the one cup (I’ll leave the brand out of this because it is a personal thing, the cup works fine) that doesn’t fit me well.  FINE.  I’ll try the other cup again, what choice do I have?

After several attempts it just wasn’t working- even with the stem trimmed it was too low and I couldn’t manage that way.  My only other option was to use the tampons leftover from many moons ago.

I had forgotten how much I despise those things.  The only thing they have going for them is that they are quicker to use.  I have been so uncomfortable for this cycle and the CRAMPS!  I forgot what a pain cramps were and now I know conclusively that the cramps were not just related to my period.  That realization is a bit frightening, that something so small could impact your week in such a miserable way.

Today I find my cup, even though it is too late for this month.  Did the kids find it and use it as a hat on a tranformer?  Maybe it is in one of the 15 purses that are in my closet?  In luggage from a trip?  IS LIONEL RITCHIE HOLDING IT CAPTIVE?  God why is my memory so bad, I just used this thing last month for crying out loud!  Mom brain, that is why.

If you haven’t made the switch YET just think about my week.  It sucked… I had to change tampons every couple of hours, I have a waste basket that looks like a biohazard bin at the hospital and I think my husband now has a new appreciation for my cup usage.  It has felt so wasteful!  Not to mention the cramps…

Try my videos on menstrual cups if you still aren’t convinced that you can do it.  A general, all about menstrual cups introduction and then the more advanced and more instructional video on how to insert and remove cups (no vaginas shown.)

You can buy menstrual cups discreetly online through Amazon, or through trusted cloth diaper retailers too! (affiliate links)

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The Christmas card that almost wasn’t- featuring my son the axe murderer

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I tend to go to extremes when doing certain things.  Christmas is one of those things!  I go way overboard for the Elf on the Shelf, I deck the halls as much as I can afford to, and I make sure my Christmas Card is awesome even though our list is rather short.

When thinking of ideas I decided the ’57 Chevy Bel Air that was in our possession, temporarily, would be perfect!  My head was swimming with amazing ideas, like putting the tree in the ginormous trunk and having the family in vintage attire next to the car.  Or posing next to the car with tons of shopping bags, wearing one of the vintage hats I found at an estate sale.  Or one shot IN the car with the kids’ heads sticking out of the amazing window.  All of the ideas involved trying to create a “period” photo from the 50′s and using the car.  Then… poof.  Car was already being shipped out to my Father-in-Law by my husband while I was attending ABC Kids Expo 2 months ago.

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I still had my heart set on something with vintage flair and since I would see the car again, I was going to try for a second time.  I found the perfect outfits from a thrift shop to wear and had Instagram vote on which to wear.  Then, when we were in NC for Thanksgiving, the car was in the shop.  We had hours to come up with a new plan- the next few days were all rainy and by the time it cleared up we would be back in Florida.  I was loving the cold weather opportunity to take photos and didn’t want to take them in Florida.

The next idea was to head out to a tree farm, pretend to cut a tree (since we didn’t actually need a tree!) and use them as a background.  I was going to buy a wreath there in order to not feel guilty.  Closest farm was 45 minutes from our location and we only had maaaaybe 2 hours of light left for photos.  Had we left earlier we would have been OK but someone (I won’t name names) didn’t get home when he said he would.

Hormonal me (it was THAT time) started breaking down in tears.  All of my plans were ruined.  I take these things very seriously.  My Father-in-Law promised to drive around to look for a spot to take photos but I was not thrilled.  It wasn’t the theme I wanted, we would look so silly wearing our “period” style outfits in a random place.   I was definitely, definitely hormonal and irrational.

We packed into the car and first went to a park.  It wasn’t suitable and there were no evergreens that made for a nice backdrop.  So… we made due because there was NO time.

Next hurdle?  The kid.  The 5 year old kid to be exact.  He had cried the entire 5 minute drive, and insisted he would not be participating.  Yeah right.  ”Taking pictures is SO BORING!  I don’t want to take pictures.  I want to go to Chuck E Cheese.”  I’m not above bribery when it comes to photo taking.  I know it sucks when you are a kid to be dressed and asked to sit still or not look goofy.  The bribe?  A donut.  He favorite thing in the world.  Still, he was not happy… so… we let him hold the ax we brought in case we could find a place to pretend to cut trees because it was the only thing that stopped his crying.

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I set the camera manually and made sure the aperture was wide open (This is why learning to use a manual DSLR is so, so handy!)  My Father-in-Law, a former photographer in his own right, took our photos.  The thing is… my son wouldn’t put the ax down… so we have dozens of family photos with my son the ax murderer in them.  Eventually we got a few without.  I was satisfied with the outcome, but still sad that they were just normal family photos.

On the way to eat donuts my husband redeemed himself.  ”What if we go downtown and do a few street photography shots?”  OK!  We went to downtown Pineville, found an empty street, and took about 10 photos of the family walking together up the sidewalk.  There were no modern cars parked so it has the illusion that it would have been from any time.  I still wish we had the Bel Air parked on the street but it was not available.

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With the street photos and the family shots in the park we had a card.

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It wasn’t until Facebook got involved that the card got more interesting.  After the family session on the park I took some photos of the boys, then a few of my son posing with the ax for giggles.  I posted the ax shot and friends were commenting on it.  One friend, Marisa, said “Have a Merry AxMas!”  Another friend, Maria from Change-Diapers, said “You received my list, right Santa?”  These were too good not to steal for my card!  I added this photo to the back right before ordering and used both of their ideas.  They get total credit, they’re both genius ideas.

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This is the first year we had someone else to take photos for us.  Our last 3 Christmas Cards were all taken with a tripod and a remote.  If you’d like to look back at other cards, here are the 2012 and 2011 versions.  We used Minted.com for our cards this year and I’m annoyed that they include their logo on the back but oh well.  They turned out very nice.

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Happy 3rd Birthday Everett!

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The youngest member of our family, Everett, is the big 3 today! I can’t believe it either. He graduated from diapers to undies and recently weaned after he decided a T-Rex was cooler than boobs. everett1-3yearsforweb He has a little personality all his own. Unlike his older brother, Everett is more reserved and doesn’t open up to strangers quickly. He is slowly starting to talk more and is finally putting together pretty complex sentences. Since he has an older brother he has learned the hilarity of a good fart joke far sooner than Fletcher ever did. Dinner conversations too often involve a symphony of mouth “farts” and laughter. As is tradition in this family, and on this blog, it is time to share Everett’s 3rd Birthday video and Pumpkin Photo. Just like this blog has been a learning experience, video editing has been a long time hobby that I enjoy learning more about. Each year I use what I’ve learned through working on videos for the blog and apply those skills to make memorable keepsakes for our family. I love inspiring others to consider making their own videos and have a tutorial on how to use iMovie that was posted a few years ago. All of the birthday videos are in a YouTube Playlist as well, you can catch up if you’d like to.

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A Robot T-Rex is WAY Cooler Than Boobs {Our Weaning Story}

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Because a Robot T-Rex is way cooler than boobs we are done.  Breastfeeding is done.

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We lasted 2 years, 11 months, and 21 days.  The end came so fast that I didn’t see it even though I started the ball rolling.  And I swear on my life that I never intended to “bribe” my son into weaning but that is kind of how it happened, as the story will tell.

Our very last nursing session was on the couch this morning.  I usually say no when he requests to nurse outside of naps or before bed but today I said yes after he held up his finger and said “1 minute?!” in his sweet voice.  It wasn’t anything special, in fact I recall him being on the iPad and it was just that, one minute from each side.  He was sitting to my left then he crawled over me to get to my right side.  At first, when I thought back on it I was sad that this was our last session, iPad and all, but it was fitting.

 

When it was time for him to nap I had him lay down and to my surprise, I told him that we would not be having milk-milk anymore.  I still don’t know exactly what made today the day.  The “let’s let him wean himself” thing hasn’t been happening at all so I knew at some point it would be on me to end things.

“Everett, you are a big boy.  You can lay here in your brother’s bed and take your nap.  Then we will pick him up from school.”

“Big boy, me,  Everett!  Milk-milk?”

“Have you ever noticed that big brother never has any milkies?  It’s because he is a big boy and he doesn’t need it anymore.  You are a big boy now too.  You can walk, talk, use the potty, and you can sleep in a big boy bed.  You don’t need milk anymore like you did when you were a baby.”

“Me a baby.”

“No, you’re a big boy, you just said so yourself.  Let’s try going to bed without milkies today, and tonight… and see if we can just cuddle.”  He didn’t seem thrilled with the idea… so I surprised myself even more with the next line.  “If we can stop drinking milkies then maybe you can pick out a special treat.”

“ROBOT T-REX!” he shouted confidently.  

 

After his declaration he immediately laid his head on the pillow and didn’t ask again.  He actually didn’t end up napping and came out to play but that has no bearing on the story, just my life, because I really wanted a break.

 

Tonight when it was bedtime I didn’t expect it to work and half hoped it didn’t.  I tucked him in after reading his favorite Zombie book and he asked for milk-milk.

“1 minute?!” as he held up his little finger…

“No… no minutes.  Remember?  You’re a big boy now and big boys don’t need milkies anymore.”

“Buy ROBOT T-REX?”

sigh  “Yes.  Let’s go two days with no milkies.  If we do, let’s go to the store and find one.  Now close your eyes and go to sleep.  Can we cuddle?”

“No…”

Then he laid right down for bed and didn’t protest as I got up and walked away even though, secretly,  I was hoping he would put up more of a fight.

I stayed standing at the crack in the door.  I’m working my way back to just tucking him in and saying goodnight after several miserable weeks of him protesting me leaving his side.  So instead, I compromised and now stand there so that he can see I’m there.  We talk through the crack if need be.  It isn’t ideal but better than before when his night-time tantrums and fighting bedtime antics reminded me of those scenes from Supernanny.

Then it hit me like a freight train.  We. Are. Done.  

 

The hot tears sprang up and I held in my crying because he was not yet asleep.  His eyelids were halfway open and he was almost there.  As soon as they closed, just one minute later, I let it out.  I ran to my husband and hugged him.  He knew too.  I wanted to take it back.  I’m not ready.  This is my last baby and suddenly, I’m done.  No more breastfeeding and no more babies.  I’m in a new stage of motherhood and life.  One full of homework, T-ball practice, and fart jokes.

I’ll get past the sadness soon and see the positives- the freedom that lies ahead as my children grow older.  The hope that one miraculous day I can drop my boys off at their grandparents’ house and take a small vacation with my husband.  And I will sleep for days… I don’t care where we go as long as the bed is comfortable.

Tonight?  Sucks.  I hate it.  I’m mad at myself for even starting this and proud of myself too.  The timing is right with a trip to see family next week and then I’m off to Vegas next month for work.  Everett was ready too, or else it wouldn’t have been so darn easy.

Either that or he really, really, really wants that Robot T-Rex.  

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