Saturday, May 28, 2011

5 Cloth Diapering Tips

As I said in my last post on cloth diapers, I never intended to cloth diaper. I thought it was weird, gross, and dumb when someone had invented a disposable diaper! That was all before using a cloth diaper. Once I used one, my mindset slowly began to change. But first, since I'm a research girl, I had to research everything I possibly could about them in order to understand and use them.

I'll often get asked now my opinion on cloth diapers, or questions on how to get into cloth diapering. I wanted to write a post of some tips that I had, or wish I had before I started.

Tip #1 Research: It seems so simple and obvious, but researching cloth diapers is a bit harder than you think. There is SO much information out there that it quickly can become overwhelming. I wanted to know things like what do all the different types of cloth diapers mean, how many should I buy, and how in the world do I wash these things?

Tip #2 Try, try, try before you buy, buy, buy: I was given this tip before I switched to cloth and I did not like it one bit. I had done my research and was convinced that I could buy one or two dozen of the brand I was sure I would use. Wrong. I am so glad I listened to others and did not do that. Instead I tried various diapers. Isn't that a waste of money you ask? Not when you have things such a Diaper Swappers in which you can try gently used cloth diapers at a fraction of the cost and then re-sell them again if they don't work for you. Some people have a problem with used diapers, but I did not. Having the option to buy and then re-sell diapers at a fraction of the cost helped me decide which diapers I wanted to build my stash with. Or else check out some of the cloth diaper packages that allow you to try cloth diapering for as little as $10!

Tip #3 It doesn't have to be all or nothing: This is a HUGE one for me! When I started out cloth diapering I was terrified to be thrust into a world that I did not understand! I also felt very pressured to use cloth diapers all the time. I mean afterall I took the plunge, now I had to stick to it correct? Not so. For one, my girls do not handle overnights in cloth. They get rashy despite any diaper we have tried, thus you will still see me at Target buying a box of disposables from time to time. Also, when I just had one in cloth, it was easy for me to use cloth in public. I'm not saying it isn't easy for me now and occassionally I still will, but with two little ones in cloth, and one who loves to poop in public multiple times, it works better right now to use a disposable. Yes, I'm guessing those of you who are die hard cloth diaper users (like I once considered myself to be) are upset with this tip. But I feel I need to give it because when you switch to cloth it can happen gradually over time, or there can be times when you use disposables with no guilt.

Tip #4 Get yourself a diaper sprayer or liners: Yes the dreaded poop. Ughh! No one likes to deal with it, but poop happens right? So go buy yourself a diaper sprayer or some liners.

Tip #5 Use cloth wipes: This one took me a little bit to make the switch, but it got to the point that I'd have a cloth diaper on one and I'd be using a disposable wipe and I'd have to find a place to throw the wipe away. Finally one day I bought some wipes and made the switch. Like Tip #2 though, don't feel as if you have to use them all the time.

Note: click on certain words in the tips and you will be taken to a link with the answer or for further information.

So there you go! I'm no expert, but if someone asked me, these would be my top 5 tips I would share.

Do you cloth diaper? Have any cloth diapering tips you want to add on? If you don't cloth diaper, do you have any questions you still want answered?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Favorite Room

My favorite room in my whole house is here.

It is here that as a new bride I would spend countless hours reading a book while my new husband worked.

It is here that I remember walking and singing to my first babe on a night in which she would not sleep.

It is here that I feel as if I can think and be me.

It is here, looking out at this, that I love.

Do you have a favorite room in your house? What makes it special?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On Celebrating Birthdays

We had quite the busy week celebrating Zoelle and Meridian! Phew! Never did I imagine having the girl's birthdays just two years and one day apart from each other. This year we decided rather than have a birthday party now, we wanted to wait and have a joint party in June so we can celebrate Xiomara's birthday then too. Yes, I am cheating a bit doing all three on one day. As they get older I won't do that. But this year, for their actual party, we are getting it done in one day. We do celebrate each of their actual birthdays together as a family, but for the extended family and friends, I do a birthday party.

I tend to go all out on birthdays as I figure it is once a year and truly want to celebrate them. Last year our theme was rainbows. This year because of our love of books, we are having a The Very Hungry Caterpillar party. Currently, I am looking at either making my own cake for it, or having one made. I still can't decide, so if you happen to have any ideas, feel free to send them my way!

When it comes to birthday cards, I know I can always turn to Shutterfly to help me out. I also know that if I need thank you cards, they are the place to go! At the end of each year, I order a photo book for each girl so they have those memories forever. This year, I'm hoping to see some awesome cake eating pictures from the three little girls whom I adore!

Have a blog? Sign up for a chance at 50 free cards from Shutterfly.

*I will receive 50 free cards from Shutterfly in exchange for writing this post. However, everything I said above is 100% true and I really do love Shutterfly!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday Meridian

Dear Meridian,

Tonight as I tucked you into bed with tears in my eyes I told you that in the morning you would be two and no longer one. Your response: "Noooo" with a cute little grin on your lips. Typical Meridian. As I write this in the early hour of your birthday, I keep reflecting back to that day and how quickly it has gone by since then. Last year you were one, now you are two, and you just keep growing and growing. It is hard for me to imagine that you are on your way to three now, as you still seem like my baby to me.

Your daddy and I tease that we should have known what you would have been like based off of your birth. You were fast, relatively painless, and you decided to be a stinker and turn sunny side up just as you were coming out! You are smack dab in the middle of the girls. The second child. Being second doesn't mean you are less loved or wanted. Instead it means that you have more love. For you had not only your daddy and mommy here to love you, but also your big sister. 

At two you can sing your abc's, count to 15 in both Spanish and English, know most of your colors in both Spanish and English, and you are working on shapes. You like to do "school" with Zoelle and your favorite color is purple. Your language exploded somewhere in between 18 months and 2, and now you are speaking in full sentences. My favorite: "Mama, I love you". I love you too Meridian!

Mer Mer there are so many things I could say about you in this letter. It is just hard to put all of you into a short letter. You have a spunk and zest for life that I have never seen before in other children. The best word to describe you is mischievious! If I'm not careful to watch you, I know you are into a mess. You aren't naughty, you just have a curiosity about life around you. Never really knowing if you should follow Zoelle, or play with Xiomara. Both a great little sister and big sister. You toddle along with your one arm swinging and curly mop of hair making all of us laugh daily because you are here.

What a precious treasure you are to me sweetie. I have a feeling God is going to use that sweet spirit and your fun personality to draw others into Him one day! Oh how excited I am to see all that God has in store for you. For now I can wait, as I want to keep you little forever.

Happy 2nd Birthday Meridian Piper!! I love you!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Follow the Leader

Happy 4th Birthday Zoelle

Dear Zoelle,

Happy Birthday baby! You have been counting down this day now for months. I, on the other hand, have been wishing each day could go a little slower. I keep teasing you that perhaps you should just stay three forever! I mean wasn't it just yesterday that I was writing you a three year old birthday letter? And the day before that, wasn't I just pregnant with you??

You are our first. Our first girl. Our first child. Our first love as a mom and dad. You are the little girl who stole my heart 4 years ago on this day. After you were born, my world changed. I loved more. I laughed louder. I cried harder.

All because of you.

You are amazing! At four you can write your letters, spell many words, read, add and subtract, speak in Spanish, and use American Sign Language to communicate as well. You are smart my dear little one. You want an explanation for everything. How or why things work the way they do. Why a word is spelled that way. Or even why the sky is blue!

Spirited is still the very best word to describe you! Some days that is hard. But it is on those days I remind myself of all that God has for you. That spirit is going to be incredible for His work one day my dear Z. Your sensitive heart for others will bring compassion to someone just when they need it. I am proud of that spirit. Proud of you.

Yes, I will cry today, just like you told me I would. I will cry lots as you get older baby girl because I wish I could keep you in my arms forever. However, I have joy through the tears because I am proud to call you mine. Proud of the little girl that you are becoming.

I love you Zoelle Grace! Happy 4th Birthday!!

P.S. You still have the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sleepy Wrap Review & Giveaway {Closed}

Shortly after we adopted Xiomara, a friend gave me a Sleepy Wrap. I was thrilled! I had heard of them before, but never actually tried one. I admit, I was a bit nervous about all of that material, but I quickly learned that I had nothing to fear.

I followed the easy instructions on their site, and I was wearing Xiomara snuggled next to me in no time at all! I would say that of all my baby carriers that I have, this one is by far the best for a newborn/little baby! I felt like Xiomara was the most secure in this wrap compared to any others. Most of the time, I would put the wrap on, put Xiomara in, and she would fall instantly to sleep. It was perfect! Especially being that I was a busy mom with three girls, three and under. Being able to wear one of the little girls really helped me go about my day as normally as possible.

I also attribute the Sleepy Wrap with helping Xiomara and I bond. I would often do kangaroo care with her in the wrap to promote attachment. I only wish I could have had this wrap with me in Georgia when we first got Xiomara.

To see more great pictures that I have posted of Xiomara in the Sleepy Wrap, click here!

Buy It!

The Sleep Wrap is one of my #1 recommend items for a new mom! The best thing about it, is that they are extremely affordable and they still work great! They are for newborns all the way up to 45 pounds!

Win It!

Sleepy Wrap has generously offered one of my readers to win a Sleepy Wrap of his/her choice!

Mandatory Entry:

Please go become a fan/like of Jewels & Treasures on facebook. Then like Sleepy Wrap on Facebook. Leave me a comment telling me you are a fan of both along with your first name and last initial. Please do me the favor of making sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment if it is not visible on your profile. (1 entry)

Extra Entries:

1. Follow me via Google Friend Connect (must be a public follower). (1 entry)

2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are along with your Twitter ID. (1 entry)

3. Follow Sleepy Wrap on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are along with your Twitter ID. (1 entry)

4. Tweet the following Tweet then come back and leave me the link to your tweet (1 tweet/entry per day):

#win an @SleepyWrap carrier from @jewelsntreasure
 #giveaway #babywearing

5. Subscribe via e-mail to my blog. (2 entries)

6. Grab my blog button and post it on your blog and leave me a link letting me know where it is at. (3 entries)

7. Follow me via Networked Blogs. (1 entry)

8. Let me know which color you would choose if you won! (1 entry)

That's It!

Winner will be chosen at random from Winner has 48 hours from being contacted to respond, or else a new winner will be chosen.

Contest ends Friday, May 27, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. CST

And the winner is...

Congrats to Chris who said she would choose a navy or gray one! Hope either you, or someone you know gets great use out of it! :)

*The featured product(s) in this post were bought for me by a friend. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blessed To Be Their Mama

Each and every day, these three girls,

remind me that I am SO blessed to be their mama!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Preschool Homeschool Update Part 2

I've been wanting to update on how our journey into homeschooling Zoelle for preschool has been going, but I have so many random thoughts on it all, I have been busy trying to figure out how to put it all into words.

Zoelle is doing excellent! She thrives with structure, routine, and learning. It is me who lags behind in the teaching. Not on purpose, but rather because I have two other little girls at home who distract need me. Along with laundry to do, a house to keep clean, and various other projects.

We are currently on the letter "R". Not nearly as far along as I wanted to be, but not so far behind that we can't get caught up before the end of the school year. It is my plan to make sure we finish this school year. I still LOVE my curriculum. I think it is perfectly laid out and easy for both the teacher and child to follow. If we homeschool next year, I believe I am going to stay with this same curriculum.

Zoelle is very much so enjoying to read and we are enjoying listening to her read. She is now on the second set of Bob books. In addition to reading those, she will often pick up a "regular" book and sound out words or recognize words by sight.

We are on the search for a math program to work on this summer. Zoelle has a huge interest in math. Not at all sure where that came from being that neither her dad, nor I are math people. Since math can often be a struggle for people and girls in particular tend to be behind in math, we want to take advantage of her ability to add and her interest in it now! I figure even if we do end up sending her to school next year, we can still lay a good foundation in math this summer.

We have not made a final decision yet about school for Zoelle next year. There are two major factors to not sending her. 1. We are worried she would be bored as she is a bit advanced for her age. 2. Cost: This is not necessarily a factor but we have to ask if the money is worth it for a preschooler to go to school two days a week. Did I mention we decided that if we don't homeschool, we will be sending her to a private Christian school?

There are also two major factors to sending her to school. 1. I feel as if I lack majorly as a parent when it comes to art, creativity, etc. We do very little projects and I have to admit I don't think I'll ever be a project type of mom. It's just not in me. Yet I do think it important for her as object lessons to what she is learning. 2. I still think and Chris firmly believes, that getting her out of the house two days a week with other children would be good for her. She needs time to develop as Zoelle and get special attention given just to her. She would not only get this at school, but also would get that special attention from us directed only to her school work and not to the other girls.

It's a big decision. One I'm not really sure how we will make. As of now, I am leaning toward sending her to school two days a week, and teaching her the other three days. We shall see. Hopefully, my next update we will have decided.

How did you decide to homeschool/send your child to school? What math curriculum would you suggest for a preschooler?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ice Pop Joy Review & Giveaway

I'm anxiously waiting for Summer to come in full force here. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that we got snow on Sunday morning (May 1st). Snow is not something I was expecting or wanting at this time of year. I'm ready to get out in the warm sunshine, play in our small pool, and enjoy Summer to it's fullest.

Our family is on a path to better and healthier eating and I'm excited to share that I found a wonderful book by Anni Daulter called Ice Pop Joy which will allow for healthy snacks and treat for the girls, Chris, and myself. Those snacks would be homemade popsicles.

The three girls enjoying their different popsicles!

Any of my family can tell you that I rarely will make a recipe without a picture. This book drew me in for it's colorful pictures and deliciously healthy recipes. We made three different pops (Pure Sunshine, Pink Princess, and Choco-Berry Pops). I can tell you that all three were very simple to make and were a huge hit with all of us (including my younger sister who was at our house when we made these). One of my favorite parts of the book is the fact that each page has a health tip at the bottom of the page. I learned so much from reading those tips.

My little sister Briella with her popsicle

My plan is to make some of these each day for the girls to enjoy after naptime. Thus, I am hoping this snow stays away so we can enjoy them to the fullest this summer. I have a goal of trying as many of the recipes as possible!

Buy It!

For it's fresh, organic, and healthy recipes, I would highly recommend this book. While I'm not a fan of hiding fruits and vegetables in foods in order for children to eat them, I do believe this book makes the process more enjoyable for all.

Win It!

One of my readers has a chance of his/her own to win a copy of Ice Pop Joy!

Mandatory Entry:

If you could create your perfect popsicle, what would it be? I think mine would be raspberry lemonade (made with fresh lemons). Please do me the favor of making sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment if it is not visible on your profile. (1 entry)

 Extra Entries:

1. Become a fan/like of Jewels & Treasures on facebook and leave me a comment telling me you are along with your first name and last initial. (1 entry)

2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are along with your Twitter ID. (1 entry)

3. Tweet the following Tweet then come back and leave me the link to your tweet (1 tweet/entry per day):

 Want to make homemade popsicles? #win the book Ice Pop Joy from @jewelsntreasure  #healthy #organic #summer

4. Follow via Google Friend Connect. (1 entry)

5. Subscribe via e-mail to my blog. (2 entries)

6. Grab my blog button and post it on your blog and leave me a link letting me know where it is at. (3 entries)

7. Follow me via Networked Blogs. (1 entry)

That's It!

Winner will be chosen at random from Winner has 48 hours from being contacted to respond, or else a new winner will be chosen.

Contest ends Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. CST

*The featured product(s) in this post were provided to me by the publisher. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.