Thursday, February 27, 2014

Norwex Dryer Ball Review and GIVEAWAY!!!

A while back my good friend Jeni told me she was going to become a Norwex consultant.  I had heard "Norwex" in passing on some of the chat threads I'm on but really knew nothing about it.  So I went to her launch party and fell in love.  Norwex helps you have a clean home without so many strong cleaning agents.  I have always liked finding alternative cleaning methods and have used vinegar as an alternative cleaner for quite sometime so this intrigues me.  I love that their products are high quality and that they support moms by giving them a home-based career opportunity.  I have more to say about what all I love about Norwex but I'll save that for a future post.

So...while we were talking about my upcoming "favorite cloth accessories" post I mentioned to Jeni that the cloth diaper accessory that I wish I had but have never gotten was wool dryer balls. Well, she offered to give me a set of Fluff and Tumble Dryer Balls to review and then give away!

 


Well, after a little over a week of using them I'm not sure I really want to give them away!  Wool dryer balls are most commonly used to reduce drying time, therefore saving you money through reducing your energy bills and extending the life of your dryer.  And I agree they did reduce my drying time, I would say by about 10-20%, depending on what I was washing (please note, I have a very old washer that leaves the clothes quite damp so you will likely get better results than I did).  But what I love MOST is that they made our clothes and diapers so much softer!  I don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets for several reasons 1) I always forget to put them in, 2) I don't want to risk absentmindedly putting them in with a load of diapers and 3) because they cost money.  So I am LOVING that the dryer balls bounce around and soften up my laundry by keeping it from bunching up or sticking to the sides of the dryer!   And they reduce static.

Since I promised to give this set away I will definitely be buying a set of my own soon.

If you would like to purchase a set of your own please visit Jeni's Norwex page or contact her on Facebook.

But first...you can enter to win these!  Let's be clear, I am giving away THIS set of dryer balls, they are not new in the package, they have been through the dryer with my laundry about 15 times.  I have wild, sometimes dirty little boys and I have 2 small dogs.  I wash my laundry in either Tide or homemade detergent.  So...please don't enter unless you understand you are getting THIS set of dryer balls (I will put them back in the original box before sending them).   They should last a total of about 1000 cycles so after around 15 at my house they have PLENTY of life left in them.  They have linted up a bit but that is normal and actually good, it increases their surface area. 


So...use the rafflecopter tool below to enter!

*********NOTE...giveaway is NOT open until 12am Feb 28th, 2014**************

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Story of Faith and a Baby

February is American Heart Month and the month has almost gotten away from me without a couple of very important posts being written (1 is probably gonna slip back into March but I'll blame it on February being so short).  This post is about physical hearts and the faith that lives in our hearts. 

This is Mason...
 
 
Isn't he just so stinking cute?!
 
Mason is the son of my friends Cory and Meagan.  While I don't get to see them much I, and many others I know, have a pretty strong connection to Mason because many of us have a whole lot of prayers wrapped up in that sweet little boy!  So...here is Mason's story...in a shortened version that I know won't come close to doing justice to the faith, the pain, the joy of the actual happenings (my writing could never do justice to the miraculous things God has done through Mason's existence).
 
Meagan and Cory were so excited when they found out they were expecting their second little boy, due May of 2011.  The pregnancy progressed happily, with a few hiccups, until their 20 week ultrasound and checkup.  That was the day that changed their lives in many, many ways.  They found out after 2 different ultrasounds that Mason had physical defects, cystic hygroma, atrioventricular canal defect in his heart, a thick nuchal fold and poor foot arches, which are all consistent with Down Syndrome.    That day their image of what their lives would be came crashing down around them.  They were told their baby may not even make it.  And through the chaos, they immediately turned to their faith.  Within days the diagnosis of D.S. was confirmed through an amniocentisis.  At that time the cystic hygroma alone made Mason's prognosis of survival only 10%.  And so...we started praying, a whole lot of us!  Cory and Meagan and their family felt the most direct impact of all the updates, twist and turns, the downright roller coaster of physical and emotional changes that came with this pregnancy.  But they held their faith and a massive prayer army formed and grew.  And on each update from Meagan we prayed for specific things.  And through it all God was faithful, as he always is.  Meagan endured physical pain like no one should have to, including multiple amniotic reduction procedures because Mason's various physical condition caused buildup of excess amniotic fluid.  They endured legally having to hear the "option" of terminating their pregnancy (which happens in 93% of pregnancies with Down Syndrome and 98% of pregnancies with Cystic Hygroma).   They endured the torn emotions of healthy pregnancies and babies close to them.  They prayed through not being able to prepare to bring home a healthy baby and instead made "alternative" birth plans depending on if Mason made it to delivery.  They had frequent sonograms and check-ups to keep a close eye on Mason and each one seemed to bring conflicting information...this is good but this is bad, this is better than last time but now we have this to worry about.   They dealt with the emotions of praying their baby would be born and survive and knowing if he was he would always be "different" and the struggles that would bring.  They walked through the process of preparing special clothes and a blanket for Mason upon the very real possibility that he would not survive.  All this while trying to support each other and be great parents to their little 1 year old boy.  And through it all they stood fast in their faith and so did we...and we PRAYED! 
 
And God stayed faithful as well and SHOWED His presence, through many ways, small special gifts, the perfect verse shared right when it was needed, tiny messages sent from above. 
 
Mason made his surprise arrival on Apr. 22, about 1 month early, at 6lbs 14 oz and 18.75 inches.  He did wonderful, needing only a little oxygen right away but quickly not even needing breathing assistance and learning to eat quite quickly.   This little miracle, who at one point was given a 3% chance of survival and the option of "termination", went home with his Mommy and Daddy, with no machines or meds, at 11 days old! 
 
 
Here's Mason at about 3.5 weeks old
 
 
 
Mason thrived and grew, even mastering breastfeeding, which can be challenging for some special needs babies.  Now obviously, the struggles weren't over.  Just because he was here and home he did still have a serious heart condition!  That wasn't just going to go away.   But while the Drs. expected Mason to go into inevitable heart failure within days of birth that didn't happen until he was around 5 weeks old!  Mason as put on medication at that time to help his heart and was monitored closely.  He continued to grow and thrive, with a few small hiccups, and defy the odds, meeting developmental milestones way ahead of expectations. 
 

 

Here he is at 3 months showing off his awesome head control
 
Mason eventually had open heart surgery in late September 2011 to correct his heart defect.  It was a rough road for a while but soon he was on the mend! 
 

 
 
Today Mason is a bouncing 2.5 year old who defies expectations!  And this month he was honored as 2014 "Heart Child" for the American Heart Association!  And, he's an awesome big brother now as well.  And will start preschool soon!
 
 
Meagan and Mason next to his fundraising artwork at the annual Heart Ball
 
 
Through Mason's journey Meagan and Cory's faith has been an inspiration to me and to so many others and I just had to share their journey with you.  They never doubt that Mason is their perfect gift from God, exactly how he is and I firmly believe that too. 
 
Read more about Mason's journey at Prayers for Mason or on his Facebook page.


Monday, February 24, 2014

A Whole New World

Well, Good Night! (that is my Grandma's most common phrase of surprise or emphasis), I can't believe it's been a week since my last post!  I am so sorry.   Most days I truly do not know where the time goes. 

Anyways, this post has been on my mind since last week and I am finally getting it all typed up.  At the very end of last year my favorite Christian music station, KLove, issued a challenge to it's listeners.  It was called the "30 day challenge" and it asked you to listen to nothing but Christian radio for 30 days, beginning January 1st and see what happened to your attitude, perspective, faith, etc.  Well, I started a little late, but I took the challenge!  Since reception for KLove is spotty here I changed it a touch, I listened nothing but KLove and to Christian talk radio on Bott Radio Network (I have listened to BOTT for several years now). 

Well...can I just tell you, well over a month in now and my perspective has completely changed.  Since last January, when my world fell down around my ears, I have had some hard lessons about how easily I had fallen into the trap of being a Christian who really doesn't notice the "worldliness" of the society around her and when I did notice I usually just chose to overlook it or say "it's not THAT bad".  But this challenge has given me even more tools to notice those things and not ignore them.  It has been amazing.  And it has been such an uplifting, encouraging gift to my life.  It seems no matter how my day is going, good or bad, the program or playlist on whichever of the 2 channels I'm listening to is always perfect to uplift me from the drudgery or boost my good day even more. 

So, the other day I had a wonderful reminder of how I have come to view the world around me in a different light.   Our 2 year old wanted to play with play-doh so I was sitting at the computer doing some work while he played beside me at the table.  I decided to turn on some Disney Movie songs for him (please don't roast me about Disney!).  About halfway into the third song I realized now I was hearing those songs in a completely different way than they were intended and completely different than I had ever heard them before.  Why?!  Because the emotional, spiritual filter through which all outside influences must pass to get to my brain is different than it was a year ago or even a month ago, it is so much BETTER!   Now, you might think I'm a little silly but let me give you an example (I'm fairly certain most will recognize which movie these lyrics come from);

I can show you the world
shining, shimmering, splendid
tell me princess, now when did
You last let your heart decide?

I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over, sideways and under
On a magic carpet ride

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming

A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I'm way up here
It's crystal clear
That now I'm in a whole new world with you
Now I'm in a whole new world with you

Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feeling
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky

A whole new world
Don't you dare close your eyes
A hundred thousand things to see
Hold your breath - it gets better
I'm like a shooting star
I've come so far
I can't go back to where I used to be

A whole new world
Every turn a surprise
With new horizons to pursue
Every moment red-letter
I'll chase them anywhere
There's time to spare
Let me share this whole new world with you

A whole new world
That's where we'll be
A thrilling chase
A wondrous place
For you and me

Now, most of you will immediately recognize that as Aladdin and Jasmine, right?  But make yourself forget that for a moment.  Change your filter.  And read it as a conversation between Christ and YOU!  Obviously not quite ALL the lyrics work but many do, many could easily be an encouragement from Christ about how amazing the world is if we just follow His guidance.  Think about it for a bit, read back through those lyrics Princess, daughter of the almighty King (2 Cor. 6:18)....

Try another one...a very good friend of mine might like this one...it's from the Lion King...

So many things to tell her
But how to make her see
The truth about my past? Impossible!
She'd turn away from me

He's holding back, he's hiding
But what, I can't decide
Why won't he be the king I know he is
The king I see inside?

Need some help "filtering" this one?  Try it this way...as an unsure believer, like me until recently, who feels like they might not ever "deserve" Christ's gift in the place of Simba, and Christ in the place of Nala...

So many things to tell Him
But how to make Him see
The truth about my past?
Impossible! He'd turn away from me!

She's holding back, she's hiding
But what, I can't decide
Why won't she be the woman I know she is
The woman I see inside?

You don't have to take a challenge like the KLove one to change your perspective, your filter, but it certainly might help.  Challenge YOURSELF to see this world in a different light, the filter of Christ.  Look at things that were never intended to glorify Him and MAKE them do just that! 

"Can you feel His love tonight"?  I can, like never before!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cloth Wipes...my system

As a member of a few cloth diaper groups on Facebook I often see questions about the easiest way to use cloth wipes and about cloth wipe solutions.  I've also had several friends ask me about them and because a friend asked today I decided I would share my system.  Obviously this may not work for all but I've used it for 2 years now and haven't ever been even a little tempted to do anything different because I find it to work so well. 

I pretty much exclusively use RagaBabe wipes.  They are made of fantastically soft cotton Sherpa material and in my opinion are just the perfect size and thickness for wiping little bums.  I've tried a few other brands and have always gone back to my RagaBabes.  And, as mentioned in my "favorite cloth diapers" post, RagaBabe is a small, family owned company from right here in the USA so that's an added bonus.

I store my wipes in "GladWare Family Size Food Storage Container", I got them at Walmart for right around $5 for a pack of 3 and they measure about 9" x 9" x 4'.  I have one with dry wipes that I fill as a load of diapers gets folded and one with wet wipes that I keep ready for changes (I use the third for actually storing food).  As you can see the RagaBabe wipes fit PERFECTLY in this container.  I just lay them out flat, all stacked up.



Then, for my wipes solution...well...I buy it.  I know, I know, the internet is teaming with recipes for DIY wipes solution and that is a perfectly acceptable route to go!  But again, through a wonderful group of cloth diaper mamas on Facebook I discovered Scarlet's Naturals.  They are yet another small, family owned USA company and have the most amazing line of natural products.  I use their Hiney Honey Bites to make my wipes solution. 


As I said, I've used this system for 2 years now and unlike reports I frequently hear from other mamas I have NEVER had an issue with mildew, mold or even just bad smell in my wipes container.

Desiree at Scarlet's recommends using a "bite" per 3oz of water but I haven't found I need that much.  For my container, full of wipes, I use 4 cups of water and 4 "bites".  I heat my water in the microwave for about 4 minutes until it is quite hot to the touch but not boiling (yes, I am sure you could use the stove as well) and then I drop in my 4 "bites" and stir until they are melted (only takes about 30 seconds). 


 
 
Then...pour the solution over your wipes in your container, pop the lid on and you are done!  The lid is easy to take off with one hand if you forget to open the container before you remove a poopy diaper and stays sealed really well!  Then just throw them in with your diapers to wash.
 
 
 
It might sound gross to some but I use the same CLEAN wet wipes for wiping noses, faces, hands, spills, etc. (I know my wash routine and trust me, those suckers are CLEAN by the time I get done with them).  The ingredients in the "bites" are all natural and the wipes themselves are so wonderfully soft they are perfect for sensitive kid and baby skin.
 
If you hurry over today (Feb. 17th) Scarlet's is having a President's Day Sale!
 
Let me know if you have any questions or feel free to share your cloth wipe system!  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thankfulness....even when it's work

This morning I woke up with a bit of a headache, probably from sleeping in the chair part of the night with a baby who is working on 6...count them SIX...teeth all at the same time.  And for the first little bit of the morning I was pretty grumpy.  I just wanted to boys to sleep a little longer, I just wanted them to curl up and go back to sleep with me.  Honestly, the last few days have been a little...frustrating.   And then I was laying on the floor, watching the boys play and that sweet, wild little 8 month old who kept me up part of the night came crawling over with this amazing smile of his, grabbed my ears and gave me his version of a sloppy baby kiss and then laid his sweet little head down on the floor beside me and just looked straight in my eyes.  And I decided right then and there that my attitude for the day needed adjusted.   That I could choose to let it be a crummy, frustrating day just because I was a little tired and had a little headache or I could choose to make it a day of thankfulness and worship.  I chose the latter.  So, I prayed to the Lord for a little help and set about to make it a good day.  Here are just some of my thoughts today....

I was thankful I have a Lord in Heaven who hears my prays, loves me, knows my heart and sent His son to not only die for my sins but die in a way that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt I am valuable to Him beyond measure.

I was thankful for that sweet little baby boy who had a bit of a scary entrance into this world.  I watched him play and crawl and laugh and thought of the mamas out there who have lost their little ones, or have sick babies or are faithfully carrying babies they know won't make it long after birth and I thanked the Lord for teething and sleepless nights.

I was thankful for a dependable, comfortable, safe vehicle when I had to stop and get gas on the way to church.

I was thankful for a country where I can listen to whatever radio station I want while we drove to church and was particularly thankful for Ravi Zacharius's program on BOTT radio and some uplifting music on KLove.

I was thankful for my amazing church who, just to name a few things, welcome our boys with such enthusiasm and know them by name, talk to the toddler so intelligently, check on him in the toddler room for me during Sunday so I know he is doing ok but won't see me and want to go with me, make the baby feel like he has about a dozen extra "aunts" who he is wonderfully safe with while I get the toddler to the potty, a snack, etc., who genuinely care enough about me to keep praying for my situation without constantly bringing it up and who respect and value my thoughts and insights during our wonderful adult Sunday School classes.

I was thankful for a squirmy, wild, fidgety toddler who ran from one end of the pew to the other, chattered about his tractors and snacks most of church service, full volume and wanted so bad to help with communion, "needed" a wafer and some wine (which of course he didn't get).  I know he could be fighting for his life, like one little one I know, or hooked up to oxygen and not able to jump and dance, like another I know, or be gone from this world much to soon, like few sweet toddlers I know.

And I was again thankful for my church family, who sends me sweet smiles at his toddler jabber, even Pastor in the middle of his message, who pick up that squirmy toddler or hold his other hand to help keep him still at communion, who tell him good job when he announces to everyone after church that he peed in the potty and don't think its silly when he tells them he had to put his pants and shoes back on afterwards.

I was thankful for the 50ish year old, very rugged outdoorsy looking man in Walmart who stopped me and profusely complimented me on my "baby holster" (my Action Baby Carrier) and told me I was a "smart mom" and "doing a good job".  It would have been a compliment and brightened my day from anyone but it came from someone I would have least expected it from and it was just what I needed, right when I needed it as the toddler squirmed in the cart and tried to throw our groceries out of it and the baby pulled my ears and bit my chin and I was starting to slip from my "thankfulness" mindset. 

I was thankful for an ample supply of food and groceries as we waited in line for quite some time at checkout.   I started to be annoyed but I reminded myself its all about perspective and I made myself realize there are people in this world who would give anything to stand in line to check out with any sort of food they wanted in the quantity they needed to feed their family.

I was thankful for my ability to nourish my baby with nothing but my own body when we had to find a parking lot and make a pit stop because he was desperately hungry because I know there are mamas who hurt greatly because for one reason or another they are unable to do so and for the focused mind of a toddler who was more than content waiting for the baby to eat since I had the forethought to park for said pit stop in a implement dealer parking lot. 

I was thankful for a warm, safe home when I scanned the scattered toys on the living room floor. 

There are many other thanks given today, some important, some mundane, some just too raw and personal to share right now.   But overall, it was a really good day, not because of luck or because it just happened that way but because I chose it to be and change the perspective I was viewing it through when I first woke up.  And it was a reminder of the lesson I've been working hard to learn and live this last 13 months...that joy and contentment and thankfulness can be found anywhere and anytime...if you decide to find it.  Happiness is fleeting and man-made, but JOY, that comes from the inside, from a decision you make with your heart and then with your head.  And once you find it, happiness isn't such a big deal, because you know you have something so much better.   It doesn't mean you won't ever have a bad day...but it means when you do have one you have the ability to get yourself out of it instead of relying on some external force or event to change it. 

What are you thankful for on hard days? 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Links to Free and Discounted ebooks!

This is by no means an exhaustive list and PLEASE check the price, they are marked free or discounted at the time this is posting but that could change at anytime! If you don't have a kindle just download the free Kindle reader for your PC or mobile device (or both!). 

FREE:

21 Days to Loving Your Husband Melinda Borda and Carrie Martin-Vegue

Bigger Than Impossible: Keys to Experiencing the Impossible through God Lydia Chorpening

Rice Flour Recipes - 40 Gluten Free Recipes Rice Flour Recipes for all Occasions Sarah Stevens

Natural Remedies for Children and Family Elizabeth Roxas

Give Me a Break - The Art of Making Time for You Hugh Culver

Spurgeon Gems Charles Spurgeon

Personalities in Love; Understanding the Man in your Life Donna Partow

Hearts Awakening Delia Parr

How to Save Money; A 21-day Challenge to Save $500/month Bob Lotich

The 7-Day Prayer Warrior Experience Stormie Omartian

Greater than Rubies Hallee Bridgeman

Hope Being Gone (Trusting God in the Tough Times) Cherie Hill

Reduced Price
 
A Woman and Her God Beth Moore
 
 
 


Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas

Wife After God

Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship Gary Chapman

I Will Carry You Angie Smith

Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole Angie Smith

For Kids
 
The Reader Amy Hest
 









Monday, February 10, 2014

Breakfast Casserole Recipe

Well...a weekend that just didn't go as planned, a baby who isn't feeling super and a toddler who has been snowbound in the house for WAY too long all add up to not getting the post I planned to put up today quite finished.  So, I thought I would share another of my favorite easy recipes instead. 

I originally got the basis for thise recipe from my "2nd mom", Cindy and loved it.  I've seen others similar to her original one but most of them turn out...in my opinion...a little...small.  If I'm gonna make a breakfast casserole I want it to be worth the effort.  So, I tweaked this one until I got it how I wanted it.  In my former job I often held "meetings" with groups of farmers and ranchers, on the side of a dirt road by a field of wheat or grain sorghum, at 7am or so.  And I almost always served them breakfast out of the back of my SUV.  The guys loved this casserole so much I learned I was going hear a lot of grief if I ever showed up at one of those meetings without it!  I've also served it at baby shower brunches, church potlucks and my MOPS group and it gets the same overwhelmingly positive response.  So...here ya go!

What you'll need:
1 8oz can of crescent rolls
2 lbs regular ground sausage
2 cups shredded fiesta blend cheese
1 dozen eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
butter for greasing pan
9 x 13" casserole dish

Crumble and brown sausage in a skillet.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat sides and bottom of 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with butter.  Line bottom of casserole dish with prepackaged crescent rolls.  Layer sausage evenly on top of crescent rolls (I apologize I forgot to take pics of these first steps!).  Cover sausage with shredded cheese.  
 As you can see, the sausage will be almost completely covered with cheese.
 
 
Crack eggs into a large bowl, whisk together, add milk, salt and pepper, whisk together.  Pour egg mixture over sausage and cheese.  The egg mixture should almost completely cover your cheese and sausage. 
 
 
Bake at 350, usually about 35-45 minutes but it seems to vary each time I make it, until top is browned, casserole is firm and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cut and enjoy! 



You can assemble this casserole ahead of time and stick it in the fridge until you need it.  And the leftovers warm up really well.  Hope you find it as tasty as I do.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Easy Crockpot Chili

So....it is cold and snowy here, really snowy.  I decided yesterday morning was a perfect day to make a big batch of chili.  Then I decided I would share my recipe.  I make chili in a slow cooker.  I believe chili is best when slow cooked so the ingredients meld together and cooking it that way makes the house smell wonderful.  The bonus is that is you can't be home you can start it in the morning and it will be all wonderfully warm and ready for supper when you get home.  This recipe is very easy and I have made it in very large batches for meetings for my former job and it has always gotten rave reviews.  So....here ya go.

What you'll need:
1lb ground beef
1lb beef stew meat
1lb sausage
1lb ground deer, elk, etc (completely optional, if I have it I throw it in, if not, no biggie)
2-3 cans your choice of beans (I use 1 can chili beans and 1 can dark kidney beans)
1-2 cans petite diced tomatoes (you decided how much tomato chunks you want)
1 12oz can tomato juice
1 12 oz can regular V8
1 12 oz can spicy V8
       (you can do 2 cans of either V8 depending on how much spice you want)
2 pkgs chili seasoning

Directions:
Cut stew meat into small chunks if the chunks are originally very big.  Brown each meat, separately, in a skillet and add to slow cooker. 
 
Stir in the beans and tomatoes one can at a time, deciding how "beany" and "tomatoey" you want your chili
 
 
Add in the cans of tomato juice and V8.  If you put a lot of beans and tomatoes in you might need to add an extra can of V8, your choice depending on how spicy you want your chili. Then stir in your chili seasoning.  That's it!  Put the lid on, put the crockpot on high if you are cooking it less than 4 hours and can stir occasionally, low or medium if it will be on all day and you won't be able to stir it. 
 
 
This recipe makes quite a bit but left-overs are nearly always my goal any time I cook.  I freeze leftovers in small twist-top storage containers.  They make super easy lunches or suppers later. 
 
Enjoy!
 
What's your favorite cold-weather meal?  Or your favorite slow-cooker recipe?
 
***Edit; this recipe is also wonderful for large gatherings, made in a large roaster, just keep the proportions the same.  Make way more than you will need and freeze the extra in gallon freezer bags laid flat on a cookie sheet***

 
 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cloth Diapers...my personal faves...

Since our oldest was born I have tried a LOT of different brands of cloth diapers.  I wanted to share a few of my favorites and tell why I like each one.  This is NOT in anyways saying that other brands are not great, won't work for you, etc.  These are just the ones that have worked best for us.  Every baby and every mama and every situation is different.  Also, I tend to like sized diapers over one-size diapers but I do have a few one-size brands I really love.  Sized have fit our boys better but I know mamas who get great fits with their one-size diapers.   I can't really say I have an absolute favorite so the ones listed are really in no order, I like certain brands for certain reasons and at certain ages better than others.  And if some of the "terms" don't make sense don't worry, I'm planning a "Diaper terms and tips" post later this week along with a future post about my favorite cloth diaper and baby accessories.  So here goes....

Softbums.  Softbums are technically a one-size diaper but have a very unique toggled elastic sizing mechanism that makes them seem much more like a sized diaper.  And even better than a sized diaper I can adjust them to the exact size I want.  They fit our boys from the time they were very tiny and the same diapers still fit our 25lb 2 year old.  While I don' particularly like their inserts for small babies their "pods" are perfect both for our 18+lb 7 month old and our toddler.  They come in an AI2 style which means you lay an insert into the shell or you they have a pocketed option. The great thing about the pocketed option is you can stuff the insert in the pocket or just simply lay it on top.  They are available in both snap and hook&loop closure.  These diapers are the narrowest in the crotch with I like.  I don't like diapers that are wide and bulky between our boys' legs. 

RagaBabes.  This company has my heart.  I have been buying from them since fairly early in their history.  RagaBabe is run by a sweet family right here in the USA, in Iowa in fact.  When I first started buying RagaBabe diapers each invoice came with a personal note from the owner, Joy, and I remember her congratulating me on the birth of our oldest son!  While they have grown too much for Joy to include individual notes now she is still very hands on with the company and has THE BEST customer service.  These diapers are a bit on the pricier end but you get what you pay for here.  Again, they are made in the USA and they are also VERY stringently tested for quality.  I have bought "2nds" quality diapers that even to an experienced sewer like myself there are no apparent flaws.  All RagaBabe diapers are sized.  RagaBabe makes a "2-step" all-in-2 diaper that consists of a shell and an insert and comes in either snapped version to adjust the rise or a snapless version, and also an all-in-one diaper that requires nothing more than velcroing it on.  Their unique tummy flap is amazing as is the wide elastic in the back.  Their iconic star Velcro makes these diapers easy to spot.  You won't find "baby-ish" prints at RagaBabe and they are always coming out with new styles.  While they can be a bit hard to get a hold of I believe every cloth diaperer should have at least 1 or 2 RagaBabes in their stash. 

Fuzzibunz Perfect Size.  Fuzzibunz are a pocket diaper and come in the Perfect Size or a One Size option.  I absolutely love our Perfect Size FBs but I honestly have no use for the One Size version, however I have several friends who love their one-size FBs.  These diapers are very affordable and come with a microfiber insert but can easily be stuffed with any insert.  They have fit both our boys wonderfully.  I actually have the discontinued hook and loop XS Fuzzibunz and you will be hard pressed to get me to get rid of those anytime soon.  They fit from very tiny, better than any other newborn diaper I tried, other than Softbums.  While some people aren't fans of snap diapers and I tend to prefer hook and loop I love these diapers in spite of their snap closure.  The microfleece inner is great, I prefer it over natural fibers or suedecloth.  They have held up to many months of wear just as well as any other diapers in my stash.  My experience has been that they fit beyond the weight estimates given by the company, which is opposite of what I have experienced with other sized diapers. 

The Little Bee Co.  I only have 1 of these diapers in my stash but that is only because I found them when I already had plenty of diapers that I liked and couldn't justify spending on more than I needed (after all, saving money is one of the main reasons we chose to use cloth!).  These diapers are extremely high quality and work wonderfully!  I LOVE the front elastic.  However, the most amazing thing about this diaper...for every diaper purchased this wonderful company donates a diaper to a baby in need, usually through orphanage "diaper drops".  You can check out their website to see the locations of their past diaper drops.  So, if you are looking for a great quality, extremely well functioning diaper from a company that really cares about spreading love, you might want to check them out! 

Charlie Banana.  These are my 2nd favorite one-size diaper.  They are trim, narrow in the crotch and easy to use.  I have had no issues getting a great fit on both our boys with these diapers, which I certainly can't say for every brand. 

Southern Comfort Fitteds.   This is a wonderful work-at-home-mom business with diapers personally made by hand with the utmost care.  I have a love for fitteds and t-shirts during warm weather and these are by far my favorite fitted and quite possibly my favorite diaper overall.  They can be tough to get a hold of since of course a single person can only make so many diapers in so much time.  And there can be a bit of sticker shock if you aren't used to the WAHM fitteds market but they are SO worth it!  Available in either a true fitted or a hybrid (with a layer of fleece inside), these diapers are amazingly absorbent without being bulky (for a fitted).  I only have the true fitteds in my stash because I really haven't bought any new for baby #2 and our oldest just couldn't wear fleece diapers (though I doubt little oven #2 could either).  If you want to try out fitteds THIS is the diaper to try.  But be prepared because you will fall in love and be stalking their page trying to get more! 

Woollybottoms.  Wool is a scary word to some in the cloth diaper world.  But once you try it you fall in love and this company makes it super easy to go head over heels.  Made primarily from upcycled wool sweaters, Woollybottoms are available in covers, shorties, longies, footies, skirties and leggings.  And they make super cute, super warm baby slippers!  This is again another small family company with wonderful customer service.   Price-wise you can't beat them in the wool world and the quality is amazing. 

Green Mountain Diapers "Cloth-eez" prefolds and fitteds.  GMD are by far my favorite prefold and for little bitty babies, under 3 months or so, I love their fitteds that are converted from prefolds.  They are great quality, easy to keep sizes straight due to their colored edging and absorb like nobody's business.  The fitteds are even enough to go without a cover for short amounts of time and are AWESOME for newborns and tiny babies.  They also wash up and dry great. They are a super inexpensive way to cloth diaper and are super easy to use.  While many will tell you to fold and pin or snappi I have always simply tri-folded my prefolds, laid them in a cover, fan out the back a little and have been virtually leak free. 

Kissaluvs fitteds.  For babies under 3 or 4 months I LOVE Kissaluvs fitteds.  They are not as stylish as boutique fitteds but get the job done with super absorbent terry cloth.  The snap down rise on the size 0s is amazing.  They were my go to diaper when our boys were little and wetting and pooing frequently. 

Bummis Super Brite.  These are my favorite covers.  Again, I like sized covers. These covers are hook and loop and have a wipe-clean inner.  They come in fun colors but the BEST feature is the inner leg gussets.  They are bomb-proof!  And very affordable, especially since the wipeable inner means you can use them for more than one change.

Thirsties original hook and loop sized covers.  These are a VERY close second for my favorite cover.  They are very similar to Bummis with the inner gussets and wipeable inner but for some reason I have always just had slightly better luck on fit and leak resistance with Bummis but these are a GREAT affordable option as well.

Well....I think that just about does it.  Again, I have tried MANY different brands of diapers, of all varieties and styles and many covers, regular and wool and these are the brands that have stayed in my stash for 2 years and 2 boys.  

Let me know what brands are YOUR favorites. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Review of "The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife" and a GIVEAWAY! Updated with winners!

A while back I stumbled upon a Facebook page called "Time-Warp Wife".  I immediately fell in love with the Facebook page as well as the blog run by New York Times Best-selling author, Darlene Schacht.  The "about" page for Time-Warp Wife on Facebook says "The purpose of my ministry is to encourage wives to love their husbands and children, be keepers of their home, and be virtuous and pure, so that God through His Holy Word would be glorified in our lives."  I have found this to be wonderfully accurate.  Darlene offers and shares encouragement and tips on being a Christ-centered woman, wife and/or mother whose primary focus is Christ, by which all families benefit.  I have found such inspiration through her page and often turn to it when I need a little boost.  She has been featured on other blogs and websites as well, including Kirk Cameron's! 

Recently, Darlene released a new ebook called "The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth".  This was right at the same time I was starting this blog.  She asked on her Facebook page if anyone would like to host a review and giveaway.  I jumped at the chance to share this amazing Christian woman's wisdom with my readers!

I was so excited to read this book and it did NOT disappoint!  Set up in a series of lessons on God-given virtues, such as trustworthiness, love, diligence and joyfulness, just to name a few, that conclude with a "SOAP" study method (scripture, observation, application, prayer), this book is ideal for not only personal study and growth but for small groups of women, who can encourage each other and grow together. 

My favorite part about the book is that it is written in such a wonderfully personal way that you can truly feel Darlene's heart in each page.  It is encouraging and supportive, with no judgement or condemnation.   It inspires every Christian woman to both reach deep into her heart and reach out to Christ to become the virtuous woman He designed us all to be!  This book is written for all of us, with our own individual struggles and this book gives the boost we need, through God's direction in His word, to fulfill the role He designed for us. 

I hope you will grab your own copy of Darlene's ebook, available on Amazon (don't worry, if you don't have a kindle you can download the free Kindle Reader from Amazon for your PC and/or mobile device).  Or you can enter to win one of the 3 copies I will be giving away by simply using the easy rafflecopter forms below! 

Our winners are....Amanda Dean, Jennifer Frost and Allison Heaney!  Watch your email for a link to download the ebook ladies.  Thank you every who entered! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cloth Diapers..why I love using them

Before I was even pregnant with our oldest I had decided that I wanted to explore the option of cloth diapers.  I don't really remember what peaked my interest originally.  But pretty much as soon as I started looking into them I was hooked!  Here are some of my reasons for loving cloth diapers. 

* They are cute!  Ok, ok, this might not be the most sensible reason but come on...we all love putting our kids in cute clothes, right?  I just love making sure their bums are covered in something cute as well.  They have to poo and pee in something, it might as well be at least a little fun deciding what color/print I'm going to put on them next. 
(See, they are so cute and fun!)
 
 
*They really are just as easy as disposables.  My mom cloth diapered 3 of us.   And it wasn't super easy.  But these days "modern" cloth diapers snap or Velcro on just as fast as a disposable.  Yes, you have to wash them, but that's really no big deal. And in turn, you don't have to make sure you don't forget to pick up a package at the grocery store.  
 
*They are economical and easy to find (well, if you want them to be).  These days there are a wide range of types of cloth diapers.  You can easily wrack up a fortune in boutique brands and hard-to-find prints.  And I have a few of those.  But you can also easily cloth diaper a child from birth to potty training for very little money, WAY less than what you would spend on disposables for that time frame.  And you can order them in large quantities online or find them in some big box stores and many baby boutiques carry them as well.
 
*I can make my own!  I'm a sewer.  So, I LOVE the idea that I can make our boys' diapers, especially if I want them to have diapers for a specific holiday or event.  I made diapers for our oldest for both Valentine's Day and Independence Day.   It was fun and it was super easy and I loved that he got to wear something I made for him. 
 
*They are great for sensitive skin!  Our oldest has eczema, contact food allergies and when he was tiny his little bum was also pretty sensitive in general.  Cloth diapers are gentle on the skin and there are many different options for fabric.  Some babies do better with cotton against their skin, some with microfleece, some with suedecloth or minky, some with bamboo fabrics.  The awesome thing about cloth diapers is if one fabric doesn't work others are readily available. 
 
*Less waste.  While I won't ever claim to be the best about limiting trash or recycling (I SHOULD do better about both those things) I did hate the idea of all those disposable diapers sitting in a landfill for years.  Now don't get me wrong, I DO use disposables part time but I like that at least our trash footprint will be smaller than it would be with full-time disposables. 
 
*I'll be honest, one reason I love cloth diapers is because I'm stubborn.  When I first started telling people we planned to use them I got SO many negative responses (not sure why people cared so much about what our baby was going to wear on his bum).  Everyone had a reason it "wouldn't last" so yeah, one reason I love it is just plain because I proved them wrong and enjoy it when they thought I would be hating it within a month. 
 
*The dreaded blowout-----or lack thereof.  If you are a parent who has used disposables I'm 99.9999% sure you have experienced a poo blowout.  The wonderful thing about cloth diapers is they almost all have elastic in the back and the legs and frankly, when baby wears the right size, poo blowout are nearly non-existent!
 
*Community.  This is actually one of my very favorite reasons to cloth diaper.  It is a community of mamas who have something in common.  From baby blogs and boards to facebook groups cloth diapers draw women together, and in the process you find women you have many other things in common with and you also learn from others.  From one particular cloth diaper group on facebook I've "met" mamas who I will likely never meet face to face in real life, but they have become some of my closest friends.   They cheered and congratulated us when our babies were born, they supported me and checked on me and sent me care packages when the bottom fell out of my world, we've developed off-shoot groups for couponing, home-schooling, bible study.   These women become such close friends that when something happens to one of us, a sick little one, a lost job, a divorce, the loss of a baby, we pull together and do whatever we can.  When one mama's husband was diagnosed with cancer these mamas formed a fundraiser and frankly, $5 or $10 from a hundred mamas makes a big dent in bills.  When another's baby was diagnosed in utero with a fatal disorder they banded together to do an online auction/raffle to raise money for funeral expenses.  Why?  Because we know she would do the same for us.  The beauty of it, most of us have never known each other through more than comments and shared stories on a facebook group! 
 
Those are just a few of my top reasons to cloth diaper.  Check back soon for posts about my favorite brands and favorite accessories. 
 
Do you cloth diaper?