Tidying Up the KonMari Way – Step Two – DEAL WITH YOUR OWN STUFF in your own spot (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo)

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There’s a few basic principles in Marie Kondo’s method of tidying up your home. One that is fundamental is deal with your own stuff and your own self (my paraphrase).

In the book, she talks about her childhood obsession with organization. When she became bored with organizing her own room, she took liberties with common areas shared by her family. She disposed of possessions belonging to other family members that she observed they didn’t seem to use or need any longer. While the shocking question, “Who would even do that?!”comes to mind when reading her story, how many of us want-to-be-organized people sharing a home with want-to-keep-everything people, have been guilty of disposing of something that doesn’t belong to us, on the sly?!

My hand is raised.

Sorry, honey.

So Marie says, deal with your own stuff. Her method has you sort items in your home by category, rather than by location. Large categories have smaller sub-categories, to keep things manageable. The first category is clothing. Your own clothing. Not your spouse’s clothing, or your children’s clothing. Your own. You gather ALL your clothing from EVERY location where it is stored – your closet, your husband’s closet, the attic, the garage, the coat closet, and you bring all YOUR clothing into one spot, and begin to go through it.

She also emphasizes each person in the home have an area of the home that belongs to them, such as their own closet, or dresser, or desk. Each person should keep their own things in their own area.

Your stuff. In your spot.

Any home occupied by more than one human, has shared areas, and shared items. She instructs you not to mess with items outside your domain. She says not to nag other home occupants to follow her method, not to dispose of their things, and not to insist they tidy up, simply because you are tidying up.

Keep your hands to yourself, as we tell children, and deal with your own items. The shocking result, is your stuff begins to change, you begin to change, and your household occupants take notice.

This concept – your stuff, in your spot (my paraphrase) – is one of the life-changing parts of KonMari for me thus far.

I used to internally blame my husband and children for the mess and clutter in our home. As I’ve worked through the KonMari process, I’ve had a humbling discovery. The shoes on the living room floor are mine. The bottles covering the bathroom counter are my herbs. My clothes were stored in my closet, my kids’ closet, my husband’s closet, the coat closet, the attic, and the garage. Many of the excess items and excess spending – was purchased by me. When I thought we needed something, I would buy three varieties, just to be sure one of them worked out. We would keep all three. When I found something else we needed, I would buy two identical ones, so we would have a spare.

I shopped too much. I stored my things all over the house in everyone else’s space. I am the culprit. (Well, one of them. There are four culprits living in my home. And I am definitely one of them.)

Many folks new to the KonMari method struggle with stuff that belongs to their spouse, children or other household members. Depending on the age of the children, it may be appropriate to do some categories for them, and other categories together with them. But for adults, her answer is this – leave it alone. And for anyone beginning the method, for now, as much as possible, focus on your own items. She has you begin with two categories that are clearly personal – clothing, and books. There are clothing and books in your home belonging to other people, but it should be obvious which ones are YOURS. Do them first.

Tidying Up the KonMari Way – Step 1 – READ THE BOOK (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo)

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I consider myself an organized person. I was more organized in my past life. That is, before I had children. I’ve also said it’s easy for me to throw things away. In fact, organizing could be one of my hobbies.

Despite this, I can’t seem to keep our home tidy, neat, or organized.

Despite organization, we still had SO. MUCH. STUFF.

Our Stuff was anything but simple. Stuff overwhelmed the homes and apartments we’ve lived in, no matter how small or large the space was. I would stand in the center of my home, looking around at all the Stuff, and thinking, “Stuff. With a capital ‘S’.” All this Stuff was practically a living being.  It took over my home, my life, and made my organizing attempts futile.

Then We Bought Our First Home…………………………

We moved into our first home in March last year. In preparation for the move, we trashed or donated So Much Stuff. I truly could not believe that in my “organized” home, I found somewhere around 10-15 huge black trashbags of TRASH. And another 10-15 bags of donation items. Things I didn’t really use or no longer needed.

I also found stashes of things I kept purchasing, forgetting I already had enough. This included perhaps 30 miniature Kleenex packs designed to go in your purse. Even more humorous, I always kept one of those little packs in my purse. And would forget it was in my purse. I had been known to purchase a box of Kleenex while in a store, out of desperation, while the mini pack of Kleenex was in my purse.

Another stash item was photo paper. I found three separate stashes of 4×6 photo paper, each stash with several packs of 100 sheets each. In all, probably well over 4,000 sheets of 4×6 photo paper. I had never used any of it.

Before we moved, I had clothing from my “old life” in a business career. I sold a bit and donated some. I kept a lot. Just in case. I had SO much clothing from having a job where I was expected to look professional, attractive, and put together every day (and where other women dressed to the nines and had much greater incomes than I did).

As we packed, I knew things were getting packed, that I would unpack and not need. Some fantastic folks from church helped me (since I had a two-year old and newborn while we were packing to move). Sometimes I let them pack up a whole closet or section of the house, without looking at the items myself.

I was shocked and proud of how much we disposed of prior to moving.

Then we moved. Family and friends helped us. It took two loads in the largest Uhaul truck. Our home had been 900 square feet.

Our new house was 1300 square feet. And a garage! And attic!

As we unpacked, I trashed and donated more. Besides the Stuff from the home we were renting, we had three storage units. One of those storage units we’d had for about seven years. It was full of decorations, childhood and sentimental items.

All that Stuff arrived in our new home, and garage. My mother in law came for a week right after we moved. She played with the kids while I settled into our home. She helped me do projects while the kids napped, and was amazing. While she was here, I unpacked the survival areas – kitchen, clothing, bathroom basics.

After she left, we faced the daunting task of everything else. It was slow going. It was hard to know what things we needed in the new house. And if we didn’t need it, but didn’t really want to get rid of it, then what? It remained in a box in the garage. Benjamin built decking in the attic above the garage, and we moved lots of Stuff up there. The garage was still primarily full.

Then We Read The Book………………………………………………

A Facebook mom group was talking about the book. I was drawn to the tile. I read it on Kindle, and was completely captured by this method of purging and organizing a home. It was like nothing I’ve heard of before. It resonated with my deepest intuition and desires.

One key component of Marie Kondo’s method is to deal with your own Stuff – not the Stuff of your household members. Even when their Stuff annoys you and gets in your way. Deal with your own self and your own Stuff.

So I did. I began with the clothes in my closet, as she recommended. In our old home, my clothes filled 3/4 of our shared closet, 90% of our kids’ closet, and perhaps 10 boxes of off-season items stored in the garage loft.  In our new home, I had clothes in my closet, my husband’s closet, the coat closet, the garage, and the attic.

My husband knows I love clothes. One day after purging my closet during the kids’ nap, I sent him a text with a photo of all the items I had cleaned out of my closet for trash or donating. I informed him that my clothes were no longer in his closet. He was astonished.

Then I did our kids’ clothing (because they were too little to do it themselves, plus I had a good idea of which items they enjoy wearing or not). I got rid of perhaps 50% of what was in their drawers, yet they still had tons of clothing. I went through the kids clothes of different sizes in the attic, and filled 9 giant trashbags to give to a friend with a new baby boy. We still had more than we needed in each size.

I showed my husband the kids’ new tidy drawers, my tidy closet, and the practicality of the KonMarie folding method for clothing.

We talked about the book, about our Stuff. I know he wants to be more organized but struggles with how. We both know he keeps more than he needs, but has a hard time letting go.  Reading is also hard for him, so he agreed to let me read the book out loud to him.

We read slowly. One or two nights per week, for an hour or so. It’s a short book, so we got through it in a bit over a month. About halfway through, he was ready to tackle his clothing (the first category she recommends in her method).

I made a worksheet of the categories and order she recommends, and we’ve slowly been plugging away.

I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve been proud of my husband, and of my son, for sorting through their things.
We’ve slowly been experiencing the life change she talks about in her book.

What To Know Before Reading the Book ………………………………………………..

I would recommend any American with a normal amount of American Stuff in their home, to read this book. Whether you feel are organized and want to tweak more, or whether you feel buried in chaos and mess. It will be useful to both parties.

Marie Kondo is Japanese. She is a professional organizer in Japan. She has developed her signature method over many years of trying different ways of organizing her own home, and client homes. Her basic principles are effective and inspiring.

Some parts of her method, and some of her ideas, are a bit extreme to me. Her religious beliefs filter in throughout the book, and affect her instructions to readers.

An example. When you dispose of an item, she suggests you “thank it” for its service to you. A loved pair of shoes that is too worn out for continued use, but served your feet well for many years. Tell the shoes “thank you”, as if they can hear you, before disposing of them. For items you purchased but never used, such as a sweater on clearance. Thank the sweater for teaching you, it is not your style. In this way, she says you communicate with your belongings, and it helps your process of disposing of items.

Since I’m a Christian, I don’t believe the objects I own have souls, can hear me, or have a life I need to speak to them about.

However. I DO indeed have a soul. I DO indeed have emotions. And I do indeed have a mental, emotional, and sometimes spiritual response within myself, and with God, as I touch and make decisions about items I own. With certain items, it was freeing – and just what I needed – to talk to the item, or better yet, talk to God about the item.

For example, when I found my collection of folders and notes from each of my college classes. So organized and neat. So perfectly labeled. I’ve been lugging that heavy box around for over ten years now. I kept it because I thought I could use my notes when I homeschool my children. I’m realizing there will be plenty of homeschool resources when I get to that season of my life, and the likelihood of those college notes helping, is slim.

But it was REALLY hard to think about dumping it in the trash. Really hard.

So I laid my hands on the folders, touching their spines, and prayed. Thank you God, for my education. Thank you for my professors. Thank you for that season of my life. For the good parts of it that shaped me. For the sad parts of it that shaped me. Thank you for the lessons and people that affected my life during that time., helping to make me the woman I am today.

Then I threw it into the dumpster. And it was easy. I felt relief and peace.

I believe God created us, loves us, and wants relationship with us, I believe all religions (including those who claim atheism or no religion), are in fact part of each individual’s journey to find Him. So I’m not bothered by Marie Kondo’s philosophies. I see them through the view of our loving God, and translate her concept into something that makes spiritual sense to me.

My Summary of the Book In a Nutshell…………………………………………….

– Write a vision of WHY you want your home to be tidy. Dig deeper than “to have things neat.” Dig into your feelings of frustration or fatigue, into your dream of peace, time to do things besides clean, etc. This vision statement is your personal motivation to keep you going through the process.

– Touch every object in your home and ask your intuition, “Does this object spark joy for me?”
– If it sparks joy, keep it.
– If it does not spark joy, dispose of it (trash, donate, or sell).

– Tidy your entire home in that manner, over the course of a few months.

– Tidy by category rather than by room.

– The categories are as follows: Clothing, Books, Papers, Komono (miscellaneous, which includes several subcategories such as kitchen items, hobby items, personal care, CD/DVD, etc.), and Sentimental (photos, keepsakes, etc.).
– Gather all objects of one category, in one place, then sort the entire category at once, to determine joy sparking items. If the category is too large, break it into sub-categories (such as clothing: tops, bottoms, accessories, etc., or books: non-fiction, fiction, reference, etc.).
– ONLY AFTER sorting a category and discarding non-joy-sparking items, organize what is left in that category. She gives specific tips for each category on best ways to store / organize the remaining items. Since the quantity of items is greatly reduced after sorting them by joy, organizing becomes easy and fun.

– Complete your entire home in a “short” time (she says less than six months).

– At the end of it, your home will be filled with items which spark joy. Every object you touch, every item you lay hands on, should fill you with joy all day long.

– Making a drastic, quick, noticeable shift in your home like this affects your whole being with such intensity, you will be moved to change other things in your life, have time for new things you desire, etc.

To “KonMarie” or “KM” an object, does not mean to dispose of it. It means to touch it, ask yourself if it sparks joy, then dispose/donate it, or find a place for it in your home.

Each Point of the KM Method is Key……………………..

Each of the items I mention above are key to the efficacy of her method.

Tidy without touching things, and the decision making process is harder. Our bodies are emotional, physical, mental, etc. Touching and holding items gives the greatest dimension and aids in deeply attuning to your own heart.

Dispose of things for reasons other than sparking joy, you get stuck in ration, and eventually derailed. Humans are both reason and emotion. I used to get rid of things if 1) I didn’t use them any more and 2) I didn’t see a possible future where I might use them. I kept WAY too many things by this method, which I never ended up using. Things I would have liked to use and enjoy, were buried in things I might need someday.

Tidying by room instead of by category, does not allow you to locate duplicates, or notice the sheer volume of objects in a certain category. It may allow you to discover a joy-sparking blanket hidden away, that can replace a worn-out blanket you’ve been using without knowing you owned something you liked better. Tidying by room is also the most common method people use, and a common reason to fail in tidying.

Purging / discarding BEFORE organizing is also key. Trying to fold and organize Too Much Stuff, soon reverts to unorganized chaos. Surprisingly, in our home, when an area was over crowded, once we discarded things and kept only what sparked joy, the items that remained fit PERFECTLY

Going through everything you own, in this manner, in a brief window of time, really does affect your entire sense of being.

It was important for slow decision-maker / processors like myself, to go a bit slowly. I would not have wanted to do all categories within the course of two weeks (if that were possible). I needed time to pay close attention to each item. I needed time for my inner person to change, which it did, during the process.

In the categories we have sorted so far (we are part way through Komono), we have eliminated around 75% of what we owned in each category. Shockingly, that left us with still more than we needed, and plenty to go around. It doesn’t feel sparse, it feels just right.

My Tips For Beginning the KonMarie Tidying Method……………………………………..

Read the book. Read all of it.

As you read, make notes of key sentences that motivate or inspire you. Make a list (or google a list) of the  categories. Bookmark or highlight sections to reference later.

Begin with your own stuff. If you are able, and your household members show interest, read the book to them or have them read it. Don’t force them. Don’t purge their stuff (I have made exceptions for my children in certain categories, and let them help in other categories, based on their age and capability). With older children or your significant other, let the change you are making with your own items, be an example. There’s a good chance they will become interested as they see you making progress and becoming a happier person.

Before beginning a new category, re-read or reference your notes / highlights from that section again. It always helped motivate me, and remind me of certain details about that category, which I had forgotten since completing the book.

If you begin to purge things from your house simply by reading my blog post, or hearing things from other people, you could make good progress for a while. You may also get stuck at some point, or give up because it isn’t working.

So. Read the book. There’s lots of great details in the book to help you over stuck spots. Read it before you begin, if you want to do this method. Give the author and the method a chance by reading what she wrote, before you begin. It’s not like any way you’ve tried to clean your house before. The book is a bit repetitive, I believe on purpose, as repeating key points helps readers remember them. And you will need to remember them, to get through the process.


Stay Posted for My Experience with Each Category………………………..

It truly has been life-changing thus far. Each category has taught me things about myself. Allowed me to face my past, my present, my hopes for the future. Some changes are already happening within me, and in my days, and more are to come. God is good. He can even use organizing to change my heart.

Potty Training Day One

I guess he’s ready. That’s what today told me.
I had prepared by:
1. Cleaning out his little potty in our bathroom that seems to accumulate dust and hair.
2. Making “candy” I could feel happy about giving him as reward (info later in post).
3. Putting a bin of books next to the potty.
4. Moving the bathroom rug to a spot cozy enough for his feet to rest, and my body to sit on for the better part of the day reading books and waiting.
5. Placing a timer in the bathroom to be set every thirty minutes to “try.”
6. Rolling up the living room area rug so the house would be concrete floors only, for easy accident clean up.
7. Reading three different potty training books over the weekend. All very different perspectives; I gleaned bits and pieces from each one.
8. Making sure my schedule was completely clear this week, so we could stay home all week and focus on this task.
What I did NOT do:
1. Buy pull ups or underwear.  I decided to just wait to see how the first few days went.  I’ve heard from several friends that the best potty training method is to spend a dedicated week working on it, and to have the toddler naked from the waist down.  This makes frequent potty visits easy, and makes them very, very aware of any accidents they have.
We have cloth diapered Jax since he was born, so he is used to the feeling of soft, cotton fabric against his skin (we use prefolds, not the moisture wicking fancy diapers).  It means he is also used to the feeling of wet, smushy cotton against his skin.  I felt that underwear would just feel the exact same to him as his cotton diapers, and wouldn’t “tell” his brain that something was different and he needed to pay attention.
Plus I’m not planning to take him out of the house this week.  If things go well, I will figure out if I want to use disposable or cloth pull ups, or underwear, or whatnot.  That part is still a bit overwhelming.
When we woke up this morning, I let him know I was going to help him learn how to use the potty today. He seemed nonchalant.  I reiterated this idea several times over the morning while we ate breakfast and tidied up the house.
Prior to today, we’ve been reading potty books for a couple months now.. We have spent time talking about how he will grow up and learn to use the potty, and practicing sitting on his little plastic potty in our bathroom (usually when I’m going using the toilet he will sit on his potty with his clothes on).  
However, he also knows that when he grows up, he will learn to drive a car and use sharp knives, and as a firstborn without older siblings to model for him, he seemed prepared to wait until we let him know the time was right for either one.  I felt that without some prompting, he might not realize that the time for peeing in the toilet was coming along much sooner than driving a car.
After breakfast I took off his diaper and put him in just a tee-shirt.  I let him know he wouldn’t wear a diaper or shorts today, so he could learn to use the potty. At my suggestion, he willingly went over to try.  Shortly after he sat down, he started crying that he didn’t want to. I thought perhaps it was the newness and suddenness, since he is a person who likes clear expectations and accomplish-able tasks.
So I busted out the reward concept. I told him if he put his pee or poopy in the toilet, I would give him candy.
That was an instant motivator, and for the next hour he pretty much refused to get off the potty because he was determined to get candy! (A rare treat around here).
I tried suggesting he take little breaks and try again later, but the minute he got up, he would go back in to try again to get candy. He seemed a bit discouraged.  Then my mother in law texted me to give him lots of water. Eureka.
I filled up a sippy cup with juice (Odwalla carrot and blueberry apple which is squeezed fruit and pulp), and another sippy with herbal tea that Jax loves. After downing a good amount of each, about thirty minutes later he went! I was using the toilet at the same time, and reading him books. He announced that he went pee, and he had!  Two bits of homemade candy and he was a happy camper.
“More?”
“You can have more when you put more pee or poopy in your potty!”
The second time he was successful, he was sitting at the table to eat, then told me he needed to pee. He got down from the table, ran to the bathroom, and peed in the potty again.
He spent all morning visiting the potty of his own accord, saying he needed to pee. I would guess he sat on the potty perhaps every 10-15 minutes without any prompting (though I was prepared to do so).  I had set the timer a few times, but each time he had already visited the potty several more times than the timer indicated, so I stopped using it.
Before nap time, he had peed in the potty six times and had zero accidents. The last four pees were without any help from me at all. He just kept trying, and when he was successful, he came running to tell me and get his candy.
All that focusing must have worn him out because he took a three hour nap, and of course his diaper was wet after naps. (I have zero expectations in the sleeping dry area until he masters awake dry first).
After that long nap, Daddy came home. Daddy is way too much fun these days, so Jax had one pee accident on an upholstered chair, and a second pee accident in the bath (no surprise there).  Then he went to bed, so Daddy didn’t get to see him go in the potty, and we didn’t have any successes following nap time.  Considering how well the morning went, I at least feel certain that he’s ready, and we’re on the right track.
He didn’t poop all day, in any location.  He’s in bed now, and I’m curious to see if he will poop during the night (which he otherwise hasn’t done for over a year), or first thing in the morning, or what will happen.  This is a kid who usually poops 2-4 times per day, and is never constipated.  I feel certain he didn’t poop today because he hasn’t figured out how to do it in the potty, not because he didn’t need to go.  In fact, I bet several of the times he would say he needed to pee, and would try, but not go, was his body wanting to poop.
Update: He woke at 10:30 pm tonight with a poopy diaper. It took him a long time to fall asleep tonight, likely because of his lengthy nap, so I imagine he pooped while he was trying to fall alseep.  He’s clean, and back to sleep again now. Hopefully no more poopy tonight!
I feel pretty upbeat about how today went. I had prepared myself for accidents all day long, and perhaps one successful pee in the potty.  Having made as much quick progress as he did, tells me he is physically and developmentally ready.  Now the two of us just have to figure this out together!
The candy I made him is from the lovely book “From Scratch” by Shaye Elliott.  It’s a cookbook for “whole foods”, which I would describe as a way of cooking that is truly from “scratch.”  She doesn’t have a recipe asking for salsa on top of something, and she even has recipes for things like homemade mayonnaise.  I get frustrated by just how much “food” sold in the grocery store seems to have more artificial ingredients than it does actual food.  I also know that Jax already eats a lot of fruit and dried fruit, so rewarding him with raisins wasn’t going to be an adequate motivation.  In the recipe book, Shaye says a friend of hers developed this recipe when potty training her toddler, and it seemed like a great idea to me.
The recipe is simple and located online here:
– Butter (organic, free range if possible) – saturated animal fats from healthy animal sources have actually been shown in recent years to be necessary for physical and dental health, especially in children
– Cinnamon (I get my spices from Mountain Rose Herbs online, as they are organic, fair trade, and about 25% of grocery store prices).
– Honey (I use local, raw, unfiltered honey)
The recipe has you blend it up, put it in a pastry or ziploc bag, cut the corner, squeeze into little “buttons” on parchment paper, then freeze.  Once frozen, it was easy to scrape them into a glass jar and store it in the freezer (bonus, Jax can’t reach it there).  I gave him two candies each time he peed in the potty, and plan to give him three or four for poopy in the potty.
I haven’t tried to think about having to stop with the candy once he’s got the hang of it. I will just take one parenting challenge at a time, thank you!  Potty training is big enough right now.
The books I read are the following:
1. Let’s Get This Potty Started  review (written by a child psychologist, my favorite)
2. That’s How I Roll review (very brief, perhaps a fifteen minute read, my least favorite)
3. The No-Cry Potty Training Solution review (by the same lady who wrote the No-Cry Sleep Solution, which I found very helpful when Jax was tiny)
1. This book was my favorite, because the parenting advice I’ve found most helpful so far, is essentially developmental insight or psychological explanations for a child’s stage or behavior.  Every child is different, which we hear all the time.  But this means that you could read one hundred pieces of specific “do this, this way” advice, and perhaps one or two might “work” for your child.  I’ve found that if I can understand what his basic development need is, or what is “behind” his behavior, I am able to discover with a unique solution to address that need, rather than addressing the behavior.  God in my life helps so much too, because I truly believe that of my best parenting solutions have been something I heard God whisper to me to try.
The book talks about basic toddler personality types, and how to help channel those in regard to potty training. It does not suggest any particular method or “how to”, and also emphasizes that kids are physically/emotionally/mentally “ready” at different times, and if they aren’t ready, you just aren’t going to have much success, so better to try again in a few months.  She talks about how this takes time, and the “do it in one day” methods tend to fail.
The book doesn’t have the greatest reviews on Amazon, my guess being that people wanted something more “how to.”  For me, it was perfect.
2. This was my least favorite.  She has a very clear cut “how to” and reiterates that parents who attempt her method and fail, have left out one of her steps. She says you can’t leave any of them out, or you will fail. She also tries to be funny, but I didn’t find her funny.
Here’s her method in a nutshell:
– Take toddler to store and let them pick out super cool undies, any kind they like. Also get plain white boring undies.
– Tell toddler today is the day, and don’t change your mind about it, or go back, ever, this is the no going back day from this day forward, no matter what happens.
– That same day, take away toddler’s sippy cup and move them to a normal cup, even if they still spill their cup all the time, because if they just “sip” on their sippy cup all day, they won’t quickly fill their bladder up like they would with a normal cup, which will prevent their bladder from getting full and making them need to go potty.
– Buy the seat that goes on the normal potty, not a potty chair, because you don’t want to have to clean the potty chair.
– Buy M&Ms or candy of your choice. Give them one candy for “trying” (sitting on the potty), two candies for pee, and three candies for poop.  Also have a “big” toy item ready to give them after a few days of good success.
– Put their cool undies on. Take them to the potty every 30-60 minutes. Encourage them to drink water. When they have an accident, throw away the cool undies that got dirty, and put the plain white undies on. Explain the cool undies can’t be cleaned and they have to learn to keep them clean or they will be thrown out.  It is okay if this makes the toddler cry because you want them to have motivation to keep the cool undies clean.
– Stick with it. First day expect 10-12 accidents, and maybe one success. Second day expect 4-6 accidents and several successes. By day three, toddler should be having 1-2 accidents per day and everything else success.
– Your kid will be potty trained with a week or two at the most.
There were just too many things that grated on me (besides the forced humor).  Some kids might be intimidated by the big potty, and want a little potty, and that’s okay.  I also felt that sitting on the big potty while Jax sat on his little potty was helpful to him.
No matter what I do, Jax always spills a normal cup within three minutes of getting it, no matter how exciting the contents of the cup are.  He also only drinks water or fluid when he is really thirsty, then he drinks a LOT all at once.  So I don’t see a reason to take away his sippy cup (which is really a stainless water bottle with a straw, not a true sippy).  I also don’t see a reason to make too many big changes to a toddler all at once.  If they are at all attached to their sippy, as many toddlers are, I wouldn’t want to make that huge change at the same time I was making another huge change (potty training).
I can’t lie to my kids. I don’t like using “stuff” or throwing away their stuff, as a method of “training.” It seems more like threats or punishment, which isn’t generally advised for potty training.  I also think that peeing in undies would be a big physical awakening to a kid who’s used disposable diapers, but no change at all for a kid who’s been in cloth.
Finally, some kids just aren’t going to be ready when the parents think they are, or want them to be.  So the instruction to stick with it and never go back just isn’t reasonable.  If the kid is really struggling and you are having all sorts of resistance, it’s better for everyone to just stop and wait a few months to try again.  There are developmental issues affecting the capability of the child to toilet train, just like their capability to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, and anything else a parent might want (or not want!) their child to accomplish.
3. Pantley’s book is broken down in a “quick” section and a longer section.  You can read the quick section and not read anything else, unless you have a particular area of struggle you want a bit more detailed advice about.  Reading both sections feels incredibly redundant, as there are identical sentences and paragraphs, some of them just fleshed out a bit more with an anecdote, joke, or tiny bit more detail.
She seems to take a middle ground approach. She gives some ideas of different ways to try things, emphasizes pausing if the child doesn’t respond well, and emphasizing it can take time not to try to rush or pressure the child.  She has a combination of how-to’s, but not as specific as book #2; and some developmental insight, though not as thorough or helpful as book #1.  She also says it might be helpful to clear your schedule for a week or several days in a row, to focus on it, and that works for some kids who are developmentally ready.
Surprisingly, none of them even mention the idea of partial nudity (waist down) as being a method that works for many toddlers and parents.
They all agree not to punish accidents or other unwanted potty behavior.  They all agree that nighttime and nap-time dryness is a physical and physiological development that cannot be rushed or altered.  They all take the tack that you just have to wait and one day the kid will do it, and it should happen before age six, but commonly does not happen until age four or five, years after the child is day trained.
My sister, and other friends I’ve known, have spent a bit of time with a three or four year old, to help them night train (especially boys who sleep heavily).  When the parents go to bed (maybe 10 or 11 or 12 at night), they wake the boy and take him potty. They also set an alarm for somewhere around 2/3/4 am to take the child potty again.  My sisters have both been able to night-train their four year olds using this method.  So while it’s not necessary to expect a two-year old to be dry through the night, it may also not be necessary to just “wait and see” until a child is six, for them to figure it out on their own.
I’m proud of Jax, and I’m also at peace knowing that I’m not pushing him for something he’s not ready for. He showed me today that he is ready, so now we just get to walk this journey together, however long it takes him.  In the mean time, I’ll keep making butter buttons.

My (Current Obsession) Confession

So…… I apparently have an issue with small obsessions.  I get obsessed learning about something new, and pour myself into it. Sometimes it’s a hobby (photography).  Sometimes a subject (home birth). Sometimes a creative project (photo blogging my pregnancy with Jax).  Sometimes it’s free (cooking, well besides the cost of food).  Sometimes it’s expensive (Crocs shoes).

I get attached to whatever my newest thing is, go crazy about it for a few months, and move on to the next obsession.

My confession is that the current obsession is baby carriers, and they can be expensive.  I’ve been buying.  And selling.  And trading.  I’m at a point where the energy of the obsession is dying down.  So now I’m mainly selling off things I bought that aren’t working for me.  And trying not to buy anything new.

I haven’t wanted to talk about this on my blog, because I know some people will criticize or judge me for spending so much money.  Or wearing my toddler instead of letting him walk.  Or whatever.  Everyone has hobbies.  Everyone has their areas of weakness for spending money.  The good news is so far I’ve been able to sell what I’ve purchased for within $10 or so or what I paid for it.  That’s not much of a loss for a hobby.

When I prepare to sell a carrier, I do so with a mix of my other hobbies / obsessions: fashion and photography.

I take photos with my super awesome camera (on tripod, using remote).  I have two remotes now, because Jax always wants to hold one.  He says, “Thank you,” when he wants something.  His, “Thank you” means, “I want to have that right now.”  When I’m holding the remote and taking photos, he says, “Ish ooh! Ish ooh! Ish ooh!” over and over like a broken record until I hand him the remote. So now we have two remotes. One for me; one for Jax.

When we take the photos of the baby carrier I’m selling, I dress Jax and I up in matching outfits, that also coordinate with the colors of the baby carrier or wrap.  I fix my face and my hair, because if we’ve learned anything from the billboards and magazine covers, it’s that looking good sells stuff.

So then, I have this baby carrier I’m trying to sell. And I have gorgeous photos of me and my adorable son wearing said baby carrier.  And then I don’t want to sell it, because we look so good in it.  But I do sell it, because I can’t keep them all, and I’ve determined not to be the person who owns 200 wraps (believe me, they are out there, and I’m not judging, I’m just saying).

I’ve talked with Benjamin about this new obsession, and I described it this way.

It’s like you’ve never worn shoes in your entire life.  You’re a grown adult, never worn shoes.  Someone takes pity on you, and gives you a pair of sneakers.  Walmart brand, white sneakers.  You are amazed.  Your feet don’t burn when it’s 100 degrees outside in Texas and the asphalt is radiating like an electric stove top.  You can walk through burrs and drought-dried grass without being stabbed.  It is heaven.  You wear your sneakers everywhere.

You are allowed into places were previously you were banned by the “no shirt no shoes no service” rule.  And when you go to those places, you see other people.  Other people wearing shoes.  And you realize, wow, there are so many different shoes out there!  I had no idea!

So you save up your pennies and buy a pair of flip flops. The cheap plastic ones from Old Navy.  And you are amazed.  Your feet, no longer sweaty and sticky!  Supported but not suffocated.  It is heaven.

This journey continues, slowly, as you eagerly investigate the world of shoes.  Soon you discover water shoes for wading in Texas streams, high heels for fancy events, and simple flats for church.  The world slowly unfolds into brands, prices, fabrics, textures, and colors.

So can you own just one pair of shoes?  How about two?  How about ten?  At what point do you own a sufficient variety of shoes to adequately cover the gamut of life events, weather demands, and outfit coordination needs?  Were you better off with bare feet?  Were you better off before you discovered shoes existed?

So here I am.

I started my baby wearing journey sixteen months ago with a grey Moby Wrap and an ErgoBaby soft structured carrier in galaxy grey.

I haven’t counted how many carriers I own at the moment.  It’s less than 20.  They’re not all staying here.  Many are going back out and three are currently up for sale.

But I’m going to share them here.  Judge if you must.  But I hope you won’t throw the first stone unless you’ve never had some kind of obsession either.  And if you haven’t ever had an obsession, well, I hope one day you do.  They’re fun.

I will share carriers I’m selling, and what I thought of them.  I will share carriers I own, and why I love them.  I will share the photos we take, and I will take photos of the ones I’m keeping and not just the ones I’m selling.

It’s my current obsession, so I can stay silent, or I can share.

My next obsession needs to be free.  Any ideas?

Oh, and I would be so so happy if I could somehow get more people into baby wearing.  Not to spend money on wraps, but to have babies close and cuddly.  But my theories about baby wearing are for another post.

Olives and Applesauce (Baby Carrier Review)

The sun came out today.  And by mid-afternoon, you needed tanks and shorts. Again. In January.

I’m not complaining though, because I love sunshine.  And I’m not getting the heat fixed in my car because it was going to cost over $1,000.  And we haven’t found the part to repair our house heater yet either.  Sunshine, you’re welcome around here… for now.  So be nice and give us a break in July or August, will you?

I got a baby carrier for Christmas.  It was my gift from our big family exchange.  Everyone pools their money into one big pot, then we draw names, and shop for that person with everyone else’s money.  We used Wishpot.com to suggest gift ideas.  I got this baby carrier.  My entire family was asking why I need one more baby carrier.  Please.  I only have two others.  Okay, technically four.

Here’s photos and reviews of my baby wraps and carriers.  I purchased the Moby and Ergo before Jax was born. The cotton wrap was third, then the Beco Gemini, then Olives and Applesauce.

Exhibit A: Moby Wrap in Grey, $30 used

Grey moby wrap, $30 used. Me: thumbs down. Hubby: thumbs up for newborns.

Cons: Fabric was waaayy too stretchy for my liking. As soon as I got him wrapped up, he’d be sagging near my knees in thirty minutes, and coming unwrapped. Extremely hot to wear. Perhaps nice for cold climates, but not south Texas. You have to learn to wrap it, which is challenging for some people. Doesn’t support a newborn’s head very well unless you have their head completely tucked in to the wrap (see hubby photo above). Even then, their head tends to sink down to the side as they sleep, which isn’t particularly safe. I’m not a fan of unsafe positions for newborns (or any babies really, but newborns are the least able to protect themselves or alert you to a problem). The length of any wrap is static. In this case, that’s a downside to the moby because it’s way too long for most women, which means you have an excess of thick, heavy fabric to wrap extra layers around you, making you even hotter. Perhaps that’s why dads like it better, since the long length is a better fit for their larger frames.

Pros: Fabric is a soft stretchy knit.  The stretchier your fabric, the sloppier your wrap job will work and still be comfortable. So you can wear it without being good at wrapping. Comes in lots of beautiful colors. Low price, especially second hand. Dads tend to like it better than moms.

There’s a ton of better carriers, but “moby wrap” is a name many moms have heard. So they get one. And probably don’t like it, due to the volume of them for sale on craigslist for cheap.

Which leads me to the final con: if your name is out there so tons of people try your product, only to discover it doesn’t work for them, they give up on baby wearing.  So sad.

Thankfully, you can resell it easily because everyone is buying one and everyone else is selling one. However, you’ll sell it for about half of what it cost new.

Exhibit B: Cotton Gauze wrap in Teal (plain fabric from fabric store), $15 used

Teal cotton gauze wrap. Me: thumbs up for outdoor, summer use. Hubby: thumbs down because he couldn’t learn to wrap it himself.

Pros: It worked great this summer while we were camping and Jax was little.  Lightweight fabric stays extremely cool even in very hot temperatures. Also dries quickly after being wet.  Fabric is available at most fabric stores. As cheap as you can find the fabric, which is really inexpensive. Doesn’t even have to be hemmed or serged, because it will fray about 1/4 inch then stay put. Great DIY no-sew wrap. Because it was inexpensive, I didn’t mind getting it dirty or covered in lake water and sweat while camping. I would definitely use it again on a similar outing.

Cons: As with any wrap, the length is static.  I got a length that fit me better, which meant it was nearly too short for hubby. If we didn’t wrap it perfectly, we wouldn’t come up with enough length to tie it at the end. You have to learn how to wrap, and you have to do it pretty well, because a non-stretchy fabric will pull and pinch your skin if it’s bunched up and sloppy. Takes some time to get in/out of, so better for younger babies who aren’t squirmy and wanting to get up/down all the time.

Overall, I liked it a lot and would definitely use it again on a similar trip.  I’m not using it anymore at the moment, because it does take longer to put on/off, and Jax is so squirmy it’s tough.

Exhibit C: Ergo Baby in Galaxy Grey, $80 used ($110 new)

 

 
Ergo Baby in galaxy grey (which I loved, especially with the newborn insert, when Jax was littler.  But he’s getting too tall for it, and the back support is only coming up to between his waist and shoulders. I don’t feel that’s high enough to be safe. I kept it in the car, to use while shopping and out-n-about so I didn’t have to schlep the carrier back and forth between house and car). So this was the one I was trying to replace with a bigger sized one. Apparently some people have a thing against the Ergo company for trying to sue some other baby carrier companies. I liked the size and shape of it when Jax was a newborn. I liked the color and fabric and fit for my smaller body (a bit small for Benjamin). Straps won’t cross behind your back, but can be worn with baby in front or baby in back. When Jax was little, the attached hood was perfect to cover him up for naps or sun protection. He’s way too tall for it now. My favorite unique feature is the zippered pocket. It’s the perfect size to slide your phone, key, and credit card in if you want to do some shopping or exploring without a handbag.

Exhibit D: Beco Gemini in Chocolate Brown (first three photos by Melissa Williams), $120 new

Beco Gemini in chocolate brown (which I like a lot, and it still works well. However, it’s not as wide across the base, so not as supportive for his body. Also, it’s plain dark brown. Benjamin wouldn’t let me get the cute print one I wanted (Beco Gemini in Jewel, this print no longer available), because he likes wearing Jax too.

 

The Beco carrier fits Benjamin really well, while the Ergo is a bit small for him.  So he uses it the most, which means I’m constantly readjusting the straps to fit me/him. (I’d like it to be Benjamin’s carrier, not mine). I’m also not terribly a fan of the locking safety buckles, because they get stuck going in sometimes, and other times are hard to un-latch (takes two hands). Also, don’t buy the teething pads for any carrier. They are worthless. The baby chews on every possible part of the carrier, and the teething pads don’t seem to be the spot they chew. And they’re kind of ugly. The Beco Gemini is purported to let baby face forward. It works. However, I found out later you’re really not supposed to face baby forward in any baby carrier, even the ones designed that way, because it’s bad for their hips and can cause displacement or hip trouble later on (I’m assuming if they are worn that way a lot, but the studies don’t say how many hours is too much, better to avoid doing it at all).

Since Benjamin mostly uses the Gemini, and the Ergo is getting small, I CLEARLY needed another carrier.   Actually, I could still use even one more.  I could replace the Beco in the house, and the Ergo in the car, with a girly carrier in the house and a bigger carrier in the car.  Right now, I’m schlepping my new one back and forth.

Exhibit E: Olives and Applesauce in Avocado Wonderland, $165 new

I chose Olives and Applesauce because the straps can go in an X across your back (or be worn other ways), because the body of it is larger and wider to fit Jax’s growing size, and because it was cute. 

My favorite unique feature about this carrier is the adjustable length side straps. When you’re wearing baby on the front, you want the side straps short. When you’re wearing baby on the back, you need them long. I’ve got them kind of in the middle, which means I can buckle the carrier on and off by myself, easily, in either front or back carry. I doubt you could use this carrier for a tiny newborn, but the larger body size is perfect for Jax right now and going forward for quite some time.

The Olives and Applesauce has an interior “pocket” like the Beco Butterfly.  If desired, you can clip baby into the soft fabric pocket, so you baby would be attached to the carrier before being attached to the parent.  One benefit of this is it makes it easier to transfer baby from parent to parent.  However, I prefer to strap the waist strap on first, then plop baby inside, so I never use the pocket.

I have worn this with baby on front, baby on my back, and on my hip, and it works great in any position.  One of the pros of this carrier is the wide and tall body, suitable for older children or large / tall babies like my son.  I haven’t tried it with a newborn, but would imagine it might be a bit large.  I love my Ergo with newborn insert for newborn size though, so I’m not really needing this carrier to serve the same purpose.

I also like how large and sturdy the buckles are.  There’s no safety on the buckles (the Ergo has rubber band safetys, and the Beco Gemini has a buckle with a safety built into the buckle).  I wouldn’t mind if it had the Ergo style safetys, but it is also fine without them.  The buckles are larger than any other SSC I’ve tried, so they seem sturdy on their own.  The smaller buckles on the Beco actually tend to get cock-eyed, so you might think you’ve latched it, but you haven’t – it’s just stuck.  A half-way latched buckle is NOT safe.  Also, the Beco safety buckles require two hands to open.  I much prefer a one-handed buckle.

The Olives and Applesauce carrier has an attached hood.  I could do without this, since the size of it is designed for larger babies who will refuse to have the hood pulled over their head. Also, the hood is already too short for Jax’s height (about 30 inches tall).  I figured out a way to fold the hood inside the carrier, and tie the straps of it onto the side buckle/straps so that it stays down and folded inside, rather than flopping all over the place.

There is a small pocket on the front of this carrier, but my favorite pocket is on my Ergo, which zips closed.  I wish all my carriers had this feature, as it’s the perfect size to slip your keys, cell phone, and credit card into, if you want to shop or hike without a purse.  The pocket on this one hardly fits the hood inside, and wouldn’t be safe for any valuables as they could just slip out.

The other color I was torn between was Sweet Potato Metamorphosis, a rusty orange/red base with a bright blue/navy paisley middle.  I could keep this one in the car and the green one in the house, right? 

 Metamorphosis-Ava (Organic Sweet Potato)

I would also be interested in a Kanga baby carrier, but those are heading into the over $200 price range!

After trying several wraps borrowed from another mom, I decided I’m an SSC girl (soft structured carrier).  It means the carrier has structure/shape, which usually includes straps and buckles, but it’s also soft, meaning it’s not one of those huge things with metal poles that you see men hiking mountains carrying babies in.  Wraps were just too hard for me to get on/off, they dragged on the floor, and took too much time getting in and out of.  Sometimes Jax is in/out, or up/down because I can’t figure out what he wants.  Also, I (and babysitters) often put him to sleep in the baby carrier, then transfer him to the crib.  So you have to be able to gently get him out of the carrier and into the crib without disturbing him too much. I never got the hang of this with a wrap.

To each his own.  And to me, this beautiful new SSC!

Olives and Applesauce Avocado Wonderland Ava

His Birthday

 

It was cold here. For almost a week. And by cold, let me qualify that it stayed under 65 degrees Farenheit all day long.  Mornings were in the thirties to forties. Then the cold went away and summer returned.  As much as I’m grateful not to live where it’s stuck near freezing for the next several months, I am ready for a break from 80 degrees. We wore these outfits last week, one of the days it was cold.

Jax’s face in photo one is how he looks when he’s not feeling well, or is grumpy.  He has an actual upset-crying face too, but this is just his grumpy face.  How is it that even snotty-nosed, grumpy babies manage to be adorable and lovable?

We’re nearly ready for Christmas.  In the last few days I’ve baked five pies (three pumpkin, two pecan), seven dozen muffins (zucchini and cranberry nut), lemon bar cookies, and white chocolate dipped roasted pecans.  The last is incredibly addicting, and thus incredibly dangerous.

I’ve also spent two nights wrapping gifts well past my bedtime.  I tried wrapping some small stocking stuffers with Jax awake, and it was a no-go.  I thought he’d be entertained by all the boxes and spools of ribbon and empty rolls of paper and bins of various wrapping goodies.  But he wasn’t.  The only three things he wanted to play with were the only three things I couldn’t let him have: my scissors, my scotch tape dispenser, and the wrapping paper I was trying to use.  I did loan him the sharpie (lid on) I was using to label things, and that lasted several minutes.  So I had to resort to completing my wrapping during his nap and during my precious night sleeping hours.  It will be worth it!

A trick we use when traveling with wrapped gifts is to double-wrap everything.  The first layer is your wrapping paper of choice.  The second layer is clear cellophane wrap. Not the kind you use for leftovers, but what you find on a roll in the gift wrap section.  It takes time, because you’re wrapping everything twice.  But the cellophane holds up to the trunk, or your luggage, or wherever you’re carting gifts in.  It will usually hold together and prevent tears or blemishes on your wrapped gifts.  My sister thought of it first, and we’ve been doing it ever since.  It also adds a glossy sheen to the gift, which makes the wrapping paper look expensive!

In addition to preparing our baked goods and wrapped gifts, we’ve been preparing our hearts.

In her sermon a couple weeks ago, my mom said something that really struck home: “Christmas isn’t your kids’ birthday. Or your birthday. Or your friends’ birthday. It’s JESUS’ birthday. So in all the chaos and busyness and gift giving, could we tone it down a bit and do something to honor and celebrate Jesus?  On your kids’ birthday, lavish them, bless them, make the day all about celebrating them.  But on Jesus’ birthday, could we spend some time and money lavishing HIM?  Blessing Him?  Celebrating Him?”  She challenged us to think of ways we could do so.

I get so grieved this time of year with all the excess.  Even the excess in my own heart and life, and the excess I greedily think I want more of.

I felt like she really said it well, and little family of three is ready to make some changes to make it more about Jesus’ birthday.

Benjamin suggested we bake Jesus a birthday cake.  Sounds great, but instead of eating it, maybe we can take it over to the home of someone who will be alone this Christmas.

I’m still wrestling through this.  Wrestling through how Christmas looks, and how I wish it looked in our home.  Wrestling through our Christmas budget, and how it’s spent.  Wrestling through the selfish greed of my own heart, and the disappointment in my own desires so far away from His.

If any of my readers have ways they have celebrated Jesus’ birthday by meaningful, faith-filled acts, I’d love to hear about them.  We’re going to do one or two small things this year, but want to expand in the coming years the percentage of our time and money we spend at Christmas, to more of Jesus’ heart and work, and less of our own.  I’d love to hear how other families have wrestled through this, and ways you have found to reduce the noise and excess, and focus on simplicity, giving and celebration.

Potty Time… Our Cloth Diapering System

We’ve cloth diapered since Jax was born.  There were a few reasons that sent me in the direction of cloth diapering were:

Cost (about $500 to purchase our stash that will take us from newborn through around two years old, and all can be re-used for future children),

Gentleness (I have extremely sensitive skin, so I wanted to put the softest, most chemical-free product I could on Jax, in case he inherited my sensitive skin but had no way to tell me),

and Eco-Friendliness (this was the least important issue for me, but I’m glad not to be throwing 7,000 diapers into our landfills and water supply, which is the average use from newborn through potty training).

The biggest obstacle of course, for most people, is POOP.  Honestly, you have to wipe a baby’s poopy butt no matter what kind of diapers you use.  And that’s the worst part.  Rinsing it off in the toilet is just not that much harder.

The second major obstacle is TIME.  To wash and fold all that extra laundry.  For us, it hasn’t been that hard.  I wash diapers twice a week, and I do my normal laundry once a week on a separate day.  When Jax was a newborn, we had to wash diapers daily, but that was because we had purchased a limited supply of cloth diapers, and didn’t have enough to go more than a day and a half without washing.

And I’m happy to report, that even though most people I knew didn’t believe we’d stick with it, we have.  And I love it.  I love folding the fluffy, fresh-smelling diapers when they come out of the dryer.  I love walking outside to hang them on the line to sun out the stains (only for EBF exclusively breast fed poop – once Jax started eating solids, his poops don’t seem to stain the diapers anymore).  I love that I’m not putting a bunch of petroleum and chlorine bleach and scratchy paper and adhesive on my son’s skin.  And it’s just not that hard to rinse off the poop and do two loads of laundry a week.  I’m so glad we chose this option.

We do use a “more” natural disposable diaper for overnights.  I tried many different kinds of overnight options, because once Jax started sleeping through the night (mostly), I no longer wanted to wake him up with a diaper change in the middle of the night.  I found several cloth options that held all the wetness in, but he would always wake up in the morning with his skin all red from the wet touching him for so many hours.  Due to my skin sensitivities, I’m only using natural fibers in his cloth diapers.  There are “stay-dry” polyester inserts that could solve our problem, but I’ve chosen not to use polyester on Jax since it irritates my own skin.  So we disposable at night, and that seems to have solved the problem.

We also disposable on vacation, because I’m not going to wash diapers in someone else’s laundry machine, or lug heavy wet bags of nasty diapers home with me after a trip.

What the baby does while I’m hanging out his laundry.

Wipe solution.

1/2 cup Almond Oil
1/2 cup Dr. Woods Lavender Castile Soap
20 drops Lavender essential oil (for fragrance)
20 drops Tea Tree essential oil (natural antiseptic and anti-bacterial)

Swirl mixture in bottom of gallon jug.

Add one gallon boiled water (sterilized).

Put stack of cloth wipes in cloth wipe warmer, pour solution over wipes to fill container.  Keep remaining solution in refrigerator to keep it from becoming stale.

 

Wrangling the squirmy ones who want to crawl away.
  

 

 
I still need to get his pants on.  Toys sometimes keep him still.

 

  

We use Planet Wise large wet bags to hold dirty diapers.  We have two of them.  One holds dirty diapers. When it’s full, it goes in the laundry with the diapers.  The clean one comes out to get filled.  And the cycle continues.

Also, I decided to order the wet bags to match the room they’re used in.  In this case, we have always changed diapers in our room, on our bed.

Our diapers are from a local cloth diaper store, because having a local small business owner to help solve cloth diapering problems is a MUST.  We use unbleached cotton prefolds and Bummis nylon covers.  They were literally the only waterproof diaper covers I could find that weren’t polyester.  And they’re discontinued as of a couple months ago, which I discovered when I hopped online to order a few more.  Some hunting led me to Dappis, which are basically the same thing, thank goodness.

Our cloth wipes were sewn out of cotton flannel by my mother-in-law. They work SO MUCH nicer than disposable wipes, and aren’t full of a ton of chemicals.

We use this wipe warmer, designed especially for cloth wipes (the top of the box is completely open, rather than made with a small hole for a package of disposable wipes).  I do have to tell you that somehow, (poor design), water got into where it attaches to electricity, and corroded it.  Luckily I have a husband who could patch the problem area and solder a new cord onto the box.  So while this is the only cloth wipe warmer on the market, I’m not sure I can completely recommend it.

Show above from top left: Stack of medium size cotton prefolds, wipe warmer, stack of “fancy” hemp fitteds and all-in-ones (AIOs), basket of snappis/rash cream/miscellaneous baby stuff, wad of Bummis, stack of wipes and changing pads.

And then there’s the poop about to be swirled down the toilet.  Runny EBF newborn poop can be laundered without rinsing, as it is completely water soluble.  It’s also so runny that the diapers tend to absorb it like they would urine, so you couldn’t really rinse it off if you tried.  “Transition” poop where baby has some solids but still a lot of breast milk, is the worst.  It’s this gummy gluey stuff that doesn’t want to come off the diaper.  The best thing to do is lay the diaper, dirty side down, in the toilet bowl where it can soak.  About five minutes later, it’s softened enough to be easily sprayed off.  Toddler poop, or even transition poop where baby has increased intake of solids, can be a formed lump just like adult poop.  It literally shakes off into the toilet.  So easy.  There’s also bio-liners, which are sort of like a dryer sheet, which lay inside the diaper.  The liner shakes off into the toilet, taking all poopy mess along with it.  Since spraying diapers isn’t that big of a deal to me, once I got past the learning curve, I haven’t paid the extra money for the disposable bio liners.

This is the handy sprayer to rinse the poop off into the toilet.  It works surprisingly well.

Shown above:

Two different cloth changing pads.  The polka dot one is very large, with a flannel top and waterproof (slippery) bottom.  I keep this style in the diaper bag, to lay over the fold-down changing stations in restrooms.  It nearly covers the whole thing.  The plain white one is flannel on both sides, with a waterproof middle.  It’s more stiff and sturdy, and it’s what we use at home to protect the bed.  I have about four of these, because when Jax was a newborn, pretty much every poopy diaper managed to get a mess on the changing pad.

Top center is a plain white nylon and spandex waterproof diaper cover.  These are not the heavy, stiff, rubbery ones of my childhood.  They are silky and have soft openings with gentle elastic.  They can crunch up into a tiny little ball, so they’re easy to store, and don’t add any bulk when worn.  We own these in three sizes: newborn, small, and medium.  At twenty pounds, we moved Jax up to the medium.  These are the Bummis Whisper Pants that have been discontinued.  The Dappis that arrived today look almost identical, but have larger leg holes (which I don’t like, because larger leg holes leak runny poop).

Bottom center is a GroVia “all in one” diaper.  We call these the “fancy” diapers.  They go on and off with little snaps, and behave just like a disposable.  They’re called “all in one” because they have a soft cotton inner layer combined with a waterproof poly/nylon outer layer, all in one piece.  We use them for babysitters, and for church on Sundays.  We use them at church because it’s easier, and because they are smaller, so they fit better underneath Jax’s fancy slacks.  The cotton prefolds are pretty bulky, and make Jax need larger sizes of pants.

Bottom right is a hemp fitted diaper.  “Fitteds” are soft fabric shaped with elastic and closed with snaps.  They still require a waterproof cover.  These hemp diapers are way more absorbent than the cotton prefolds, and they wick moisture away from the skin better than cotton as well.  I use them when I know we’re going to be out of the house for a while, and I don’t want to be changing diapers while we’re gone.

Top right is a plastic Snappi.  These hold the cotton prefold diapers closed.  They are much easier and safer than safety pins.  They do eventually stretch out, or break, so they will have to be replaced between children.  Since they cost about $3, and I only own two or three of them, that doesn’t worry me.

The diaper rash ointments shown are safe for cloth diapers. Most standard rash creams have petroleum in them, which can build up on cloth diapers and prevent them from being absorbent.  Cloth diaper safe creams use natural oils.  These are the two favorites we’ve used, after trying several.

This happened while I was taking photos of my diapering supplies.  He had tissue paper in his mouth when I found him.

After trying many cloth overnight diaper solutions, we settled on disposables at night.  It wasn’t necessary until Jax started sleeping through the night.  At that point, I didn’t want to wake him up with a diaper change.  Or, if he woke on his own, I didn’t want to reinforce the waking with a diaper change.  Prior to him sleeping through the night, hemp prefolds or hemp liners or the fitted hemp diapers worked great.  They would stay on him three to five hours with no issues.

Once we got longer than five hours at a time, and I wanted to leave him in a diaper for eleven hours straight, we had a problem.  Our problem was that the natural fiber diapers (cotton and hemp) were not adequately wicking moisture away from Jax’s skin.  So he would wake up in the morning with a red bottom from so much wetness on his skin all night.

Because I’m allergic to polyester, I’m avoiding it for Jax.  There’s many polyester cloth diapers that would solve our overnight problems, but I’m not using them, for now.  Plus, the overnight diapers are expensive, and part of why I cloth diaper is because it’s cheap.  I was spending $20 here and there, several times, trying to find a workable overnight solution. 

So I bought a “more” natural disposable, and we’ve been using it overnights. The problem I have with it, is when it gets too full, it leaks all over the place.  At least with the cloth, I could put enough layers on to keep him from leaking.

So I’m not thrilled with either solution.  Perhaps I’ll figure out a remedy at some point!  For a while, I put a cotton prefold OVER the disposable. The disposable wicked away moisture, and the cotton prefold absorbed once the disposable started leaking.  It actually worked pretty well.

This is the nursery and “changing table” that we’ve used as such only a handful of times.  It’s so much easier to change him on the bed where there’s more space for his squirmy butt!

This is the wet bag in the bathroom next to the nursery.  It matches the girly decor in that room (which belongs to my sisters).

And when the diaper change is all done, we tickle and giggle and play.

Recommendation: Natural Laundry Soap – Soap Nuts

This weekend I experimented with a natural laundry cleanser: soap nuts.

Yes, they are real nuts. As in, round brown hard things that grow on trees. And they naturally have soap in their flesh. Weird, but amazing.

They worked! Used them for six loads of all diff water temps, and they cleansed smelly gym clothes, wet beach towels, and a filthy lunchbox we found in storage. Clothes smelled fresh and were wonderfully soft (no fabric softener used; only the soap nuts).

AND they are about 1/3 the cost of regular detergent. Seriously. Amazing. Check out youtube for videos of how they work if you don’t believe me!

Au Natural? Check. Affordable/Cheap? Check. Environmentally Happy? Check. Sustainable? Check. Biodegradeable? Check. Not to forget: Effective? Check.

As my dear witty hubby said, “That’s nuts!”

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Addicted to Crocs

I must confess I have a weakness for shoes. Well, shoes, clothes, and fashion in general. But definitely shoes. As a child, I was homeschooled in the Phoenix, Arizona oven. Due to the heat and the fact we were at home all day, I rarely wore shoes as a child. We never wore shoes in the house or yard; only when we went out (as in get in the car to drive somewhere). As a result, I have naturally wide, healthy feet that are strong with good arches. Most Americans have narrow, weak feet resulting from too much shoe usage during childhood. I have difficulty finding shoes that are both cute and comfy (ie wide enough), because manufacturers are designing shoes to fit everyone else.

No longer. I have found my first love: Crocs. Now before your heart jumps into your throat and you give me the lecture about how hideous they are and how allowing my future children to wear them is equivalent to child abuse, let me say that I share your passion in respect to the original crocs pictured below:

For years, I heard people say not only how comfortable they were, but how they brought significant relief to various hip, knee, feet, ankle, and other leg pain people had experienced for years. Even folks wearing pricey orthotics discovered that Crocs had a greater pain-relieving effect, and were wildly less expensive.

Despite this, I could not get past the utter ugliness of the Clog Croc. There was no way my fashion sense would consider them, no matter how nice they might be in other respects. My husband has long ago submitted to my sense of fashion to arrange for his wardrobe, so for years, he complied with my insistence to never allow the frightfulness above on our peds.

Then, while shoe shopping in Glendale Galleria in Southern California a few years ago, we discovered these canvas Santa Cruz Crocs.

We bought two pairs, one in a neutral brown, and another in navy. As our super-cool-fashionista-So-Cal friends said when they saw Benjamin wearing the Santa Cruz Crocs: “Wow, those don’t look like Crocs.” Yup, that’s what I’m going for folks.


Then a couple years later, I was at Academy shopping for some last-minute items for our annual anniversary camping trip. I needed water shoes, because the Frio River we were camping near was shallow with a rocky bottom, and to walk up and down it, you need water shoes. On previous camping trips, I had destroyed a pair of New Balance tennis (waterlogging undid the glue that held the sole to the body), and a favorite pair of flip-flops (the intense pressure of the rushing water yanked out the thong piece that goes between your toes). Looking in Academy’s shoe section, I spotted these chocolate brown Olivia Crocs:

They weren’t completely my definition of cute, but they fit, they were solid rubber, and had a thick sole. I concluded I would allow myself to own these as boating/camping/water shoes, especially upon comparing them to standard mesh water shoes which are more hideous than Crocs could dream of being.

By the following summer, I was a devoted Crocs fan.

1. Water: I used them almost exclusively for any outdoor water experience. The soles are thick and sturdy, the shoes stay on your feet well, they have great traction, and they rinse right off when you’re through. After boating, I take them in the shower with me and my swim suit to rinse us all off.

2. Mud: I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent scraping hard, caked-on mud from between the traction ridges of the soles of my tennis shoes or sketchers. Sticks, butter knives, and toothpicks have given up their lives to the hardened mud, yet the shoes will still never be the same. The last time I did that, somewhere around the second hour of scraping and the third box of destroyed toothpicks, I determined to never wear any shoes except Crocs where there was a chance of mud.

3. Cooking: Then I began refusing to cook if I wasn’t wearing them. Our house has stained concrete floors, which are beautiful, but unbearably firm if you stand on them for hours at a time. When I prepare a large meal, I stand for two to three hours at a time.  I used to pay for it the entire evening and following day with aching legs and feet. No more! Crocs saved me from this fate!  Now I have a barely noticeable tired feeling after hours of standing on concrete.

4. Walking: If we plan to window shop, visit a cute town in the Texas hill country, or do any activity that will involve walking and being on my feet for over four hours at a time, none of my other shoes will suffice. Perhaps my super thick gel new balance tennis, but those don’t go with the cute outfit I want to wear on such an occasion. My Crocs do.

5. Custom Fit: The all-rubber Crocs reshape to your foot. I lent one of my sisters my Olivia Crocs, which are size 9. She is a size 9 extra wide, and when she first put the shoe on, it felt too narrow and too long for her. After she wore them a week, they had reshaped to her foot, and fit her perfectly. Then my other sister borrowed my Olivia Crocs. She is barely under a size 10, and the first couple days she wore them, she just slid her toes in, and stood on top of the heel strap since it wouldn’t go around her heel. After a week of wearing them, they had reshaped to her foot, lost all the width, and even when not on her feet, they looked long and narrow. Craziness! So even though Crocs are sold only in whole sizes, as long as you can get a size pretty close to your own, they will reshape (this only applies to the completely rubber ones).

I now own four colors of Malindi Crocs, which are much cuter than the Olivia because of the tear-drop cut-outs in the toe (black, brown, navy, and plum)

And believe it or not, I even resigned myself to my husband owning two pairs of the Clog Crocs, because the alternative was even uglier water shoes for various water and mud experiences. So far, they don’t have any attractive men’s Crocs that are solid rubber, so the original ugliness was the only option. And after discovering how useful my all-rubber Crocs were for water and mud, I could not deprive him of this experience.

He also owns a pair of Santa Cruz in a dressy dark brown suede,

and Crocs flip flops (not this exact pair, because these are Ocean Minded, but some very similar).

I have on my wish list the new Casey wedges

and the new Marnie flats,

Both will be better for winter than the sling back Olivia and Malindi styles. For Benjamin’s winter wish list, I have the new leather version of the Santa Cruz, the Denton:

Benjamin is pretty rough on his shoes, because of the active work he does, so his Santa Cruz canvas only lasted about six months before he had worn a hold through the toe. I’ve been waiting for Crocs to come out with a leather version of the same style, which would be sturdier than the canvas fabric (although I’m still tempted to buy him another pair of the canvas, because they go with most of his wardrobe, and they are so dang cute on him!).

I never buy Crocs at full price, because they frequently have sales and coupons. I check slickdeals.net which posts sales and coupons for lots of items, and wait for the right price for the pair I’ve had my eye on.

If they keep coming out with more super-cute styles, I think they may soon be the only brand of casual shoes I own! I still wear heels to work (I don’t like the styles of Crocs YOU brand, and they are way too expensive) and tennis shoes when I run. My husband owns a pair of dressy black leather shoes and a pair of cross-training gym shoes.

Outside of that, we are fast becoming an exclusively Crocs family. And I NEVER thought that would come out of my fashion-conscious mouth!

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Book Review: Ephesians Bible Study – Groupsense

Groupsense’s Bible Study on Ephesians

I lead a small group Bible study at my interdenominational (Vineyard) church, for couples and singles age 20 to 35. This series was perfect for us.

My favorite thing was how it uses different ways of teaching/learning. Visual learners: DVD with scripture reading. Audio learners: reading the scripture outloud again in the group. Tactile learners: hands-on object lessons. Everyone: discussion quesitons. Each week you have the same components provided for you: DVD, snack suggestion with object lesson, props/supplies for hands-on object lesson, lots of discussion questions, ideas for applying what you have learned, include group events/outside activities/servant evangelism ideas, etc. In addition, there is a section with historical background to the book: who is the book written to, when, why, what was going on in the Jewish/Roman society at that time that is helpful to understand. There are also applicable contemporary quotations or insights.

On the DVD, the scripture verse for the week is read outloud in New Living Translation, with the words captioned on the screen on a background of photos and video loops to go along with the words. We found some of the video clips a bit cheesy, eliciting embarrassed laughter from the group at something that wasn’t supposed to be funny. However, it was worth it to have the visual learning experience and variety, much more exciting than listening to the group leader reading an entire chapter of scripture outloud.

To give you an idea (the examples that follow are from their lesson book on Ephesians, since our group just finished it and it’s fresh in my memory). The book of Ephesians discusses some challenges in the Ephesian church between the Jews and Gentiles. Paul encourages them to accept each other, because through Jesus, we are all equals.

One of the object lessons from a particular week: use 50 cardboard boxes to build a wall across the room, dividing the group in half. Discuss how the Jews and Gentiles were divided, as the group is divided, by the wall of boxes. Ask discussion questions about what divides us from other people today. Then take the wall down and build a room/house that the entire group has to squeeze into. Discuss what it will take to overcome our differences and treat all people, even those we usually would reject, as equals in Christ.

Some examples from the snacktime: one healthy but ugly snack (fresh broccoli, celery), and one unhealthy but attractive snack (turtle cheesecake). Group members can only choose from one platter. Discuss how we make choices on a daily basis between two good things/good things and bad things, etc.

This study series could be used by age groups above or below ours, but it defintely was a perfect match for us.

There’s also some helpful tips on how to organize the 8-week study and use the materials, coordinate your group members to take turns bringing the snacks, props, etc.
Couldn’t say enough about how balanced, meaningful, and applicable to a contemporary generation that this study is for a small group. I ordered 5 or 6 other Bible study manuals from other authors, and none has come close to this. Our church has now purchased several copies of each of the studies in this series, for all our small groups to use.

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