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Archive for January, 2013

Standing on Ceremony

This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. Over the past week, it has come up in two different settings, so I decided to write about it. This is intended for husbands and wives, but if you are the type who is easily offended when someone calls you out, then by all means, stop reading.

I still have a couple of you reading? Good! I’ve been thinking lately about how our culture has become sloppy and lazy in our appearance. We have all seen the memes of people with their pants sagging, or the “People of Wal-Mart” website. But that’s not who I mean. I mean us. You and me. Those of us who, if we are really honest, consider ourselves better than those people who shop at Wal-Mart in dreadful tube tops and overalls.

My husband and I love Downton Abbey. This season, a couple of episodes have been directed at Tom Branson’s character and how he needed a bit more polish regarding his wardrobe. Tom’s initial claim was that he is who he is and should not have to dress up to impress people. He was also sensitive about his finances and the lack of more formal clothing. (He was wearing a plain suit, and not tails, mind you) The Dowanger and Matthew persuade Tom that it isn’t that HE needs to be something he is not, it is that he needs to honor the occasion by dressing properly for it.

When do we honor an occasion anymore? In the past, people would have never dreamed of wearing blue jeans to a wedding or funeral- now that is common practice. When I was a little girl, I had “church clothes”. In fact, when school had special events, letters were sent home telling parents that children should be dressed in church clothes or Sunday clothes. Now, in many churches, even the pastors wear jeans and tshirts on a regular basis. Most children do not even own dress shoes, slacks, or church dresses anymore. You might say, “Well, people are more concerned with being authentic and less pretentious than in the past. God doesn’t think any more or less of you if you are in shorts or a suit!” And you would be correct. But it seems that the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. Are we honoring the occasion to enter a house of worship if we dress the same way as when we lie around our homes and watch tv?

And it isn’t just church. It’s how we dress for birthday parties, baby showers, dates out with our spouses. We seem to have become a culture that rarely, if ever, stands on ceremony and dresses for an event. Medical Professionals who once wore suits and lab coats now wear scrubs on a daily basis. Even administrative staff who have no practical reason to wear scrubs, wear them because they want to be comfortable. We seem to place a pretty high premium on comfort, but what is the cost?

I think that all of this pursuit of comfort has allowed us to relax in our social standards, in our manners and etiquette, and in our marriages. The way that we dress has influenced our attitudes about who we are. Now if you think I am shallow and only concerned about appearances, you are wrong. I know that who I am is not defined by my hairstyle and wardrobe. Who I am is defined by my relationship with Christ and my identity in Him. I know this. But I certainly don’t think that there is anything wrong with wanting to look nice for my husband, or for bothering to wear a cute outfit to a friend’s house when she has gone to the trouble to prepare lunch for us. And don’t think I’m hating on yoga pants or pajamas. I’m a big fan of both! However, what I am suggesting, is that they have a time and place that are appropriate for wear. I’m saying that maybe if we take a bit more time to dress like the sons and daughters of God that we are, we might believe it and conduct ourselves accordingly.

Wives: We are lazy about our appearance, especially after we have children. I call it “Frump Syndrome.” Stacy and Clinton love to grab moms who live in yoga pants, tshirts, and ponytails and transform their look. Before you protest too much, let me admit that I have fallen into this mode from time to time. There are days when the kids are sick or haven’t slept well, we are cleaning and just have too much to do, and we just leave on our pj pants and tank top. But my point is, those days should be few and far between. I’m not advocating wearing an evening gown or spending an hour on hair and make up. I’m not claiming that we need to spend a bunch of money on clothes. What I am suggesting is that maybe one way that we can honor our husbands is by being dressed in a cute top and clean jeans or capris when they get home. We can shave our legs, brush our hair, dab some mascara and lip gloss on, and look like we care about ourselves, and more importantly, about our husbands.

What I am suggesting is that maybe instead of spending time on Pinterest looking for ways to “dress up” our ponytail, that time would be better served actually styling our hair. If rubber bands, chip clips, or sunglasses are part of your daily “hair style,” then you need a different one. Here’s a secret: as a general rule, men don’t like ponytails. Sure, the special occasion up do is sexy because it exposes our necks. But, more often than not, our husbands want to run their fingers through our hair and prefer it down. In fact, the only reason they like the up do is because they imagine pulling the bobby pins from it and watching it tumble about our shoulders when the evening is done (tell me I’m wrong, guys, I dare you).

Some of you will claim “but my husband doesn’t like short hair, so I keep it long for him but just wear it up so it is easier that way.” He might not like “short” hair on anyone but Halle Berry, but I can assure you, he would be much more pleased with a cropped pixie cut or a sassy bob that you actually styled than long hair that he never gets to see because it is perpetually pulled back in a clip.

Have you ever noticed that we will be content to let our husbands see us in sloppy tshirts when they come home, but we dress up for lunch with girlfriends or our weekly Bible study? He may not want you to wear heavy make up or spend a lot of money on clothes, but he will appreciate the effort that you are dressing as nice for him as you do for your friends.

Husbands: You aren’t off the hook, either. If your wardrobe of choice (when not at work) is old college t shirts and sweat pants, you have some work to do too.

First- SHAVE!!!! This is not to say that you can’t have facial hair- my husband does and I love it. But keep it trimmed up. Shave your neck and cheeks. Ask your wife to trim your hair line on the back of your neck or have a barber do it in between cuts. If you have a beard, keep it a decent length. If your wife had wanted to marry a member of ZZ Top, she would not have chosen you. Trim your nose hair, ear hair, and eyebrows! If you don’t know if you have ear hair, ask the barber or your wife- they will tell you the truth and breath a sigh of relief that you want it gone!

Baseball caps are for sporting events, yard work, or outdoor activities like fishing and hiking. If you aren’t engaged in one of the previous list, don’t wear one!!! If you must wear a hat, choose one with some class. A fedora, newsboy cap, or cowboy hat never go out of style. If your hair is unruly- get it cut. If you are bald- wearing a hat doesn’t fool us into thinking you have hair. And for goodness sake, when you do wear a hat, take it off while you are eating (unless you are outside).

So you wear dress pants, shirts, and ties to work? That’s ok. Wear some nice jeans and a polo shirt on the weekends. Wear khaki shorts and a short sleeved button down with sandals. You can be casual and comfortable without looking like you just left the frat house.

And here’s a tip for both men and women: when your partner goes to such lengths for you, NOTICE! Compliment her hair, comment on his nice shirt. Otherwise, we will feel badly about the effort we made. We will think that there was no point at all- might as well go back to ponytails and sweats. But when my husband tells me my hair looks pretty or asks if a blouse is new- I get giddy like I did when he was courting me! I know he is not just looking at his wife and mother of his children, he is looking at the woman he fell in love with.

I love seeing pictures of my grandparents and their friends. The ladies all wore dresses or really nice Kathryn Hepburn style wide-leg trousers and dressy tops with fabulous jewelry. The men wore slacks, button down shirts. Sometimes a tie. Sometimes a fedora. But always crisp and polished looking. They were not wealthy by any standards. Most of the clothes were homemade. But they dressed for the occasion, even if the occasion was simply greeting each other after a long day.

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These past 3 months have been a world-wind. I cannot believe how quickly time goes by when I organize my days by a eat-play-sleep routine.

Here’s a list of items that have made our lives manageable these past 3 months. These are luxuries, not necessities, as I am reminded when I watch episodes of “Little House on the Prairie” with my oldest son.

1. Boppy nursing pillow- I have 2 of these. I leave 1 in the car for on the go feedings and one is at home. I can nurse without one, but it sure makes things much easier! (In fact, I’m blogging on my iPhone right now because my hands and arms are free because I’m using my Boppy!)

2. Lansinoh Lanoline- soothing after nursing. Enough said.

3. Miracle Blanket- we only recently discovered the miracle of this swaddle, thanks to a friend, and I am sooooo grateful! Our little guy was having trouble with waking himself up with his startle reflex and this product really helps.

4. White noise machines- we have 3 and they provide a soothing, womb-like environment in the nursery and have the added bonus of drowning out the sounds of the tv or his big brother.

5. Thirsties Duo cloth diaper covers- these covers are by far the best of all that we have used. They have a double gusset to control leaks and multiple snaps to grow with baby. If you want to cloth diaper and want to go the cheapest route with Prefolds or flats, this is the cover for you.

6. Moby Wrap- I can’t say enough good things about this baby carrier. Our son loves being in it! It allows me to “hold” him in church, bible study, or at the park while keeping my hands free. On fussy days, this is the only way I got anything done around the house.

7. CJ’s Butter- this is an all-natural diaper balm that is cloth diaper safe. We put a thin layer on our little guy’s bum each night before bed to keep diaper rash at bay. Works amazingly well. It is kind of spendy, but a little goes a long way.

8. Infant carseat canopy- we actually were given 1 of these that my sister in law sewed for us as a gift. It is so much better than the blanket over the carseat that I used with my oldest son because it velcros to the handle. Keeps the wind and cold off of his little body and doesn’t fall off!

9. Fisher Price Kick n Play- our son got this for Christmas and loves the piano that he can kick and the toy bar he can play with. Hours of fun!

10. Bright Starts bouncy seat- this is one of those little vibrating lounge chairs. He sits in it while I’m cooking dinner or while I’m in the shower and it keeps him calm and content.

11. Crock pot- about 2 weeks before our little guy was born, I got together with a couple of other friends who were also pregnant and we spent the day prepping crock pot meals. We each came up with 2 recipes, I made a shopping list and sent Kevin to the store. They came over and we chopped, sliced and diced enough food for each of us to leave with enough food for about 8 meals. We stored everything in freezer bags and wrote the instructions for cooking them on the outside of the bag (if it needed water or seasoning added, cook times, etc). The idea was that we could just dump the bag in the crock pot in the morning and not have to worry about cooking dinner. Between our freezer meals and the dinners brought to us by friends and family, we didn’t have to really cook dinner for about 6 weeks! It was wonderful! Since then, I have used my crock pot at least 2 or 3 times a week.

12. iPhone- I know, I know. This seems silly- but trust me- when you are trying to stay awake feeding a baby at 3 am, having a smart phone really helps! I can use my kindle app to read a book, I can browse Facebook, find recipes on Pinterest, or catch up on email or blogging:). I can soothe my baby to sleep with my pandora lullaby station. I also use a great nursing app to help me keep track of feedings and nap schedules. A smartphone is a new mom’s best connection to the outside world. I’ve even texted Kevin while he was in another part of the house so that I wouldn’t wake the baby.

13. Travel neck pillow- this was my genius husband’s idea. For about the first month, when night feedings were still about every 2 hours, I nursed in our big, comfy chair with an ottoman. I used to doze off while the baby was eating and my head would flop back and I’d wake up an hour later, baby asleep (on the Boppy) with a crick in my neck. My hubby bought this great travel pillow for me to use and it helped so much! I would still nod off, but didn’t nurse sore neck muscles as a result.

14. Turvis Tumbler- dear husband got this for me too. Water is a nursing mommy’s necessity and the Turvis keeps it cool while allowing me to drink from a straw or sip from the lid. Love it!

So that’s my list of helpful items. None is these is a necessity, but they sure do make life with a newborn much easier. I’m not sure how Ma Ingalls (or my mother, for that matter!) made it through those early weeks without these comforts. I’m just glad that I didn’t have to!

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We have a 3 month old precious baby boy! When we got pregnant, Kevin and I discussed some parenting decisions and “hot button” topics. Among these were discipline, sleep issues, breastfeeding, media exposure, and diapers. I knew that diapering had come a long way from the rubber pants my mom used on my brother, but I wasn’t sure what my options were.

Several months, about a thousand blogs, 1 cloth diapering class and countless conversations with friends who CD, Kevin and I decided that cloth diapering was, indeed, right for our family. We came to this conclusion based on 4 key facts:
1- HUGE MONEY SAVER!! ( more on that later)
2- Harmful chemicals found in disposable diapers that we did not want to expose our son to
3- Environmental factors- less waste, more natural products in our home
4- CD kids tend to potty train easier/younger than kids who wear disposables because they can feel the wetness and don’t like it

1- HUGE MONEY SAVER!!
I suppose that CDing is like anything else in life- you can spend a ton of money on it. But the point is, you don’t have to! I have discovered great deals on diaper swap boards online, Craigslist, eBay, etsy, consignment stores, and more! Here is a breakdown of what we have spent on our “stash” to date:
$20 inserts and cover- Craigslist
$12 fabric to sew my own inserts- Amazon
$25 Newborn Alvas, Kawaii cover, CJ’s butter- SuperStash.net
$25 12 Prefolds, 2 Flips covers, 3 Snappis- Craigslist
$30 3 wool and 1 fleece overnight covers- Craigslist
$24 12 prefolds- Craigslist
$36 2 wetbags, 5 Snappis- Amazon
Gift cards- Snappis, 2 Thirsties covers
Free from facebook group- about 36 Pocket diapers, fitteds, covers and inserts
Free- wipes made by cutting up old receiving blankets I had from my oldest
Grand Total- $136!!!!!

Most of the diapers we have will fit our son until he is potty trained. I expect we might need to spend about another $100 to replace some that he will outgrow because they were not “one size”. But still- even if we round that up, it is only about $250 for enough diapers to last our child until he’s potty trained! We spent almost $50 on disposable diapers and wipes in his first 11 days of life until his umbilical stump fell off and he could fit into his newborn diapers!

Most new diapers (pockets or covers) can cost anywhere from $8 each to $30. We certainly did not have that much to invest up front. But by searching online and staying connected, I’ve been able to find very nice, excellent used condition diapers without much expense for our family.

2- Harmful Chemicals in Disposables
While doing research on CD, I learned that disposable diapers have chemicals in them that can cause cancer. These same chemicals have been banned by the FDA for use in women’s hygiene products, but they are still used in baby’s diapers?!?! That is unacceptable. When my oldest son was a baby, he had diaper rash so bad that his dr gave us a prescription strength diaper cream with unlimited refills. It didn’t matter how much I changed him, what his diet was, or what brand of diapers I used, we could not get rid of that rash. He had extremely sensitive skin with eczema, and I’m fairly confident that he was having a reaction to the harmful chemicals in the diapers. Do I know this for a certainty? No. But if there is alternative available, I felt I should try it.

3- Less waste
If your diapers aren’t cloth, they are garbage. As a Christian, I feel that we are supposed to be good stewards of this beautiful with which we have been entrusted. Less waste is a good thing. Enough said.

4- Quicker/Easier potty training
My oldest son was a very determined little guy. He wasn’t fully potty-trained (overnights) until almost 4. I have a dear friend who CDs, and her little girl isn’t even 2 yet and is already going pee in the potty and it is almost always her idea! Just the carrot dangling in front of us that potty training might be easier was almost enough to justify CDing! 🙂

The Critics
Objections I have heard are as follows:
“It is too expensive”- pretty sure I’ve successfully knocked down that straw man.
“When they start solids, it will be gross”- True. No denying that breastfed baby poop doesn’t really have much of a smell, and since it is water-soluble, those dirty diapers just go straight in the wash. But once they start solids, diaper changes are gross no matter what kind of diapers you are using. Spraying it off in the toilet just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. I figure I wipe my own bum, it’s not that different.
“They are so bulky”- most of the cloth diapers now are trimmer than they were in the past. We really have not had this problem at all.
“What about leaking?”- This can be an issue whether you are using cloth or disposable diapers. You just have to find the ones that fit your child the best. We’ve had a few leaks- but since we learned which brands fit our son best, they have been very rare.
“All that washing is too much work!”- I do diapers on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. That is 3 loads of laundry. When the weather is nice we have a repurposed volleyball pole-clothes line I hang them on. When it isn’t, I hang them on a drying rack in the laundry room or toss them in the dryer. You do have to pre-rinse, wash, and then do an extra rinse. Our water bill has only gone up about $10 a month. That’s it.
“What about special detergents and diaper creams?”- I make my own laundry detergent that is CD safe (commercial detergents can build up on diapers and cause them to repel water). It costs about $5 per month for the ingredients to make the detergent. Easy peasy. We use CJ’S Butter for diaper rash. It isn’t cheap- but we don’t use that much. I slather on a layer before bed to protect his bum from moisture since he sleeps so long.

So there it is. Our journey with cloth diapers. Maybe I have convinced some of you to give it a try, or at least do some research. If I haven’t, that’s ok too.

I have been labeled a few times over the past few months by some friends. They honestly didn’t mean any harm when I was called “crunchy” or “one of THOSE moms”. I’m just doing what I feel is best for our son and our family. I think that’s what most parents want for their children. But being a parent is hard enough without tearing each other down with labels and name-calling. Maybe you use a pacifier. Maybe you hate pacifiers. Maybe you bed-share. Maybe your infant went in the crib the first night home from the hospital. Maybe you let your child cry-it-out. Maybe you hold your baby until she’s fast asleep. Maybe you breastfeed your 3 year old. Maybe you formula feed. Maybe you cloth diaper. Maybe you use disposables. Maybe you baby wear. Maybe you hate those carriers. Maybe you put your child in daycare. Maybe you stay home. The bottom line is that most of us are just parents trying to educate ourselves about what is best for our kids. Hopefully after reading this post, you might reconsider making cloth diapers an option for your baby and be a little less judgmental about the decisions made by others.

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