Sunday, April 28, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: In which we will go to Mass 1.5 times

Best outfit shot I can do of myself!

Scarf, sweater, and skirt

Skirt and wedges

Closeup of scarf print and earrings
Sweater - Old Navy
Skirt - Old Navy
Wedges - Target
Scarf - Target
Earrings - gift from my mom
I may have just revealed my two favorite clothing stores - well, those and American Eagle. 

So as you may have guessed from the title, something's different today. That "something" is my husband running a half marathon this morning. Normally, we go to Mass once on Sunday morning and leave feeling like we couldn't pull that off again for another day at least. But the schedule of the marathon's start had us all up before 6 this morning, and dropping Dan off at 6:35 am a ways off from the starting line so he could warm up a little. I decided on Friday that it would be a good idea to go to 7:30 Mass, since we were all up and ready anyway. I dressed Erin and Emily in cute matching pajamas last night, got myself dressed and ready this morning, and packed my big new mommy bag full of toys to entertain them. We filled the time in between dropping Dan off and Mass with a quick pit stop at Starbucks, where the babies enjoyed a snack and I got some coffee for afterwards.

Unfortunately, the only stroller I had this morning was our big double jogger, which is entirely impractical unless it's being pushed out of our garage for a walk. I opted to try wearing Emily in the Ergo and carrying Erin on my hip, hoping she'd play in the pew next to me. We found the church mostly empty, with the back "for families with small children" pews empty. The empty church meant every baby noise echoed loudly throughout the sanctuary, though, and after a few attempts to keep the noise down, I realized I was fighting a losing battle. Only one of the many toys I had was enticing enough to get their attention, and they both wanted it (more noise) and once Erin started to play with it, she wanted to bark with joy. The harder I tried to keep them quiet, the more upset they got. During one of our sojourns to the corner, I discovered the source of Erin's crankiness: her pajamas were all wet. Realizing that in all my preparedness, I'd left the diapers in the car, I packed everything up and went out to the car. I found the diapers in the car -  and no extra clothes. So we got in the car and went home. We'll go again this afternoon, but this time Dan will be there. Today will be the Sunday we go to Mass 1.5 times. Here's to the one being less exhausting than the half!

I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned in all of this, probably something along the lines of bringing extra clothes and diapers into church and making sure to always have a spare pair of hands when bringing two little ones. I think I'm also going to start making quiet books for the girls, since I'm sure the noise problem is just going to get worse. For the record, had the noise been the only problem, we would have stayed - I don't believe that there's a way to teach little ones to behave without being in church, learning week by week. Obviously, teaching those less than a year old is particularly challenging, but you have to start encouraging good behavior at a young age!

The topic of noisy babies in Mass has been a hot one this week, and I'm sure you've read other posts on the subject. My personal feeling is pretty well summed up by what our priest said a few years back: our church is pro-life (anti-birth control, anti-abortion), so we have to be pro-babies, and that means babies in church. We all start out as babies, and we can't grow or even perpetuate our faith without welcoming little ones. Obviously, a screaming toddler is different than a fussing infant, and even my babbling, barking little ones don't have the right to protest without our attempting to distract them with toys or a bottle. Cry rooms and nursing areas have a purpose, for sure (the cry room was locked this morning) but young families belong at Mass in the church, not behind closed doors where they can't disturb the peace. We owe it to our children to baptize them and raise them in the faith, and taking them to Mass is part of that. That being said, if you have great suggestions for entertaining babies during church (especially on your own!) I'm all ears. Send them my way, please!

I'm linking up with FLAP for What I Wore Sunday - head on over to see more cute church outfits!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What I Wore Sunday

Please excuse the poor photo - my photographer (aka my husband) is under the weather and only wanted to take one picture. Poor guy. Hopefully he'll start feeling better soon. Since he is so sick, I went to Mass with Erin today and left him at home with Emily. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, since we normally each handle one baby, but it did make me a lot more self-conscious than normal. I was glad to be wearing such a long dress - I've been considering hemming it, but now I'm having second thoughts. You can't really see it in this picture, but the dress has a flower detail on the right and a sash. I actually bought it as a nursing dress (the top is a wrap style), though it didn't get much use as such.

Dress: Mikarose (from Jen Clothing - great source of modest dressy clothes)
Cami: J. Jill (handed down from a friend)
Boots: DSW (Christmas gift from Dan - you may have seen them before!)
Shopping bag on the door behind me: has just been hanging out there for a few days

So this is week 3 of wearing skirts or dresses to Mass, and I've been impressed so far. Like I said last Sunday, I feel like I'm more focused when I'm dressed up. I admire the pictures of 1930s and 1940s America where women always wore dresses, but I'm sure they felt the same about their everyday dresses as I feel about my jeans and tees. I don't think I'm up to wearing skirts or dresses daily - I truly admire anyone who can pull that off! - but I still think that a dose of dressing up as a measure of respect for doing something meaningful is important.

I have started to wonder if I'll run out of things to wear soon, so I've been checking out the sale racks when we go shopping, hoping to run across another skirt to add to the mix. Skirts are really popular this year, but all the ones I've seen are either too short, too casual or too pricey for my taste. I suspect it would be a good sewing project - maybe I'll make myself a skirt.

I hope you all are having a great Sunday! Head on over to FLAP for more Mass attire!

Friday, April 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 38: How do you spell Chechnya?

This week has been horrific. The number of families ripped apart by violence is heart-wrenching, and as I write this, hundreds of police officers and firefighters are putting their lives on the line to try and keep us safe. First responders, doctors, and nurses have been working overtime this week to try and mend and comfort the wounded. Let's remember all of them in our prayers.

On a happier note, Jen and her family are all home together again! Let's continue to pray for their good health and peace, along with a speedy recovery for Jen.
Emily and Erin turn 10 months old tonight - that's so very close to a year old. And once again, thank you to Grace for hosting this week!

--- 1 ---
When I was six or seven years old, I walked into the school library and asked how to spell Chechnya. I wanted to know why they were always talking about it on the radio, and I knew by then that the best way to learn about something was to read. The poor librarian (probably a parent volunteer) had no idea how to spell it, and when we looked in the card catalog under "C", we didn't find any listings. I went home wondering why something could be so interesting to all the grownups but not exist at all as far as the library was concerned.
--- 2 ---
Fast forward twenty years, and Chechnya is one of the top trending terms on Twitter. Suddenly, everybody's interested. The connection to the tragic bombings in Boston earlier this week makes the tiny Russian province fascinating.  In the age of computer searches and Google, I doubt anyone wanders into a library looking for a mere book about something of interest, which is a shame. On the other hand, a curious first grader today would probably find all sorts of information at their fingertips. Today, everyone can be a journalist. Raw information is published as it happens, without regard to its truth or relevance. The more popular something appears to be, the more relevant it becomes, until it becomes difficult to synthesize the truth.
--- 3 ---
As more violence unfolded in Boston last night, I saw over and over again how disappointed people were with the lack of news coverage. Random people, claiming that they were single-handedly usurping CNN, flooded Twitter with equally random bits of information. Apparently, listening to a garbled police scanner makes you an expert journalist, able to synthesize a complete story from a few overhead bits of information, often speculative information at that. Following the hashtag "#watertown" last night, I saw claims that the news media were going dead overnight, because Twitter was the best source for what was really going on.
--- 4 ---
In full disclosure of my personal bias, I have a degree in journalism, and I feel confident saying that the traditional news media are here to stay. There's a simple reason: a news story is comprised of more than just the facts. You have to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, and judge the credibility of your sources. Up to the minute information is useless if someone doesn't connect the dots and explain how it all fits into the story line. Think about it: if you've ever followed an election or watched any type of sporting event, you know that the final story is often quite different than what went on from beginning to end, or at any point in between. We rely on the knowledge and experience of journalists to tell the story as truthfully as possible. If we begin to rely solely or even partially on a collection of random information from random people, without regard to truth or relevance, we are selling ourselves short.
--- 5 ---
In addition, there are times when it's better not to share what you know for the safety of others. As I watched information spew forth on Twitter last night and early this morning, I wondered how many obsessed with sharing whatever they'd heard were considering the officers who put and are putting their lives on the line to protect the citizens of Boston. Was tweeting the location of the operation really necessary? The foolish shortsightedness of broadcasting police scanner info in such an easily obtainable format really makes me wonder if Twitter kept the police from intercepting both suspects last night. I'm reminded of a saying during World War II, and probably much older than that: "Loose lips sink ships." Sharing up-to-the-minute information about an ongoing police operation means that the suspect in question just needs a smartphone to stay one step ahead of law enforcement, or worse, plot more violence against them. We have unprecedented access to broadcast ourselves - let's prove that we're deserving of the privilege.
--- 6 ---
As a runner, my heart has been particularly heavy this week. Running is a risky sport for a few different reasons: you tend not to have a protected area in which to practice, you are prone to overuse injuries at a particularly high rate, and you are exposed to the weather year round in many cases. If you'd asked me Monday morning what the biggest risk of running the Boston Marathon was, I'd have answered something like dehydration or muscle strain, maybe tripping and falling amidst the crowd. Bombing probably wouldn't have crossed my mind. While it seems possible that running was merely a target for the large crowd of people the race presented, it's particularly difficult to see a sport I love attacked with such extreme violence. My heart aches for those who will never dissociate the terror of Monday afternoon from the joy of running, and especially for those who will never run or watch a race again.
--- 7 ---
I'll leave you with this thought: in the wake of a week like this, perhaps it's best to focus on what we can do instead of how helpless we feel. We can pray, we can hug those we love and tell them that we love them, and we can do our best to be Christ to all with whom we come in contact. Be safe, dear friends.
For more Quick Takes, visit Camp Patton!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cloth for two: Making cloth diapers work for us

So as I said yesterday, the first time we tried cloth diapering was frustrating and less than successful. We changed a few things the second time around, such as improving the wash routine, buying better prefolds (I bought mine used from a couple of different sources, including our local baby/child thrift store), adding a wet bag to our diaper pail, and cleaning the covers in between uses instead of rinsing them out. I also added a diaper sprayer in our bathroom that hooks into the shower head - I don't always use it, but it's nice to know it's there as needed. Bear in mind that the following are what works for us, and may not work at all for someone else. Heck, cloth diapering may not work out for you at all, such as the sweet reader who commented yesterday to say that her son was allergic to all effective detergents and so she could not use cloth diapers. Doing what's best for your family is what makes you a good mom, not doing one particular thing that everyone else says is best!

Wash routine: One of the things I read a lot while pregnant was that cloth diapers are a minimal amount of work when you consider the amount of laundry a new mom is already doing. I have to respectfully disagree. Although our washing machine was in constant use (even overnight!) during the first few months, it would have been a big deal to add in another two cycles every day or two. And it's not an inconsiderable amount of work now. It's just that I have a little more time than I did while nursing both girls, and I can work it into my schedule for the most part. I also make an effort to wash diapers before we run out completely, so if I get stuck in the wash cycle it's not the end of the world. One of the biggest issues the first time around for me was the smell of the diaper pail, and frequent washing is about the only way around that. I have heard it recommended to use essential oils, but the only bottle I have is not a strong enough smell to overpower the diapers.

We use Method's detergent for all our laundry, which works well for us, and I just use a very small amount to wash the diapers. I usually run a soak cycle or a rinse cycle (depending on how long the diapers have been sitting in the pail) with a few drops of detergent and some vinegar. Then I wash them on the "eco heavy duty" cycle with half the amount of detergent (1-2 pumps depending on load size) and add an extra rinse. If they still don't smell good, I wash them one more time with a little bit more vinegar on a normal cycle with an extra rinse. I have a front loader, so I can't speak to other types of machines, but that seems to work okay so far. Vinegar works much better than borax for us - I've tried both. Our diaper covers are PUL material, so it's ideal to air dry them, but we live in Oregon and it's not really dry enough to get anything dry outdoors right now. This summer we'll give a clothesline a try, and maybe one of these days I'll get another drying rack for the garage, but I have yet to do so. For the moment, I just dry on low ("delicate" dryer setting). The microfiber inserts/doublers and prefolds get dried on medium (the "eco normal" setting). Again, I can only speak to our washer and dryer (we have the Whirlpool Duet stacking set and love them). I typically wash diapers every other day.

Buying better prefolds: The diapers you want to use for actually containing what your baby will fill them with are going to be thick and absorbent. As I mentioned yesterday, we used the diapers you can buy in stores for the first round, only to find them sadly lacking in the absorbency department. The good prefolds feel heavier and are bigger. If they're too long, you can fold them down at each end. I fold mine in thirds (sides under middle) and then fold the ends down. I pre-stuff covers after doing laundry so changes are quicker and easier (essential with two babies!) and then fold the extra prefolds for quick stuffing the second day. I've tried the snappis (a truly awesome invention) and folding the diaper around the baby, and honestly it just led to more leaks. If you think about it, the mess is confined to a fairly small area, so you really just need diaper there, not on the sides. If the diaper is needed on the sides, I'm going to lose in the leak department anyway. I can't speak to diapering boys since I've never done it, but the trifold method has worked best for me. Also, my girls are crawling and standing and sleep on their tummies, so that makes a difference in the leak department too. Extra tummy padding (I fold more diaper over on that end) is essential!

Wet bag: Our wet bag is similar to our diaper covers. It's actually elasticized and meant to snap over a doorknob, but I use it to line an inexpensive lidded trash can from Target with a flip-top lid. I wash it when I wash the diapers, but I suppose you could just wipe it out if that was your thing. I don't need it to be entirely waterproof, so I wash it and dry it with the covers. In case you're not diaper material literate (I sure wasn't when I started this) PUL material is laminated cloth that dries quickly and is more or less waterproof until the coating is damaged. High heat washing and drying will wreck the coating. I purchased it from a store here locally, but I have seen similar ones at Target and online. I've even seen the fabric at JoAnn's to make your own if you're the crafty type. Anyway, it holds in the odor a little better than a garbage bag or the mesh laundry bag we were using. It also keeps any yuckiness more or less contained.

Cleaning the covers: I had heard that people rinsed their diaper covers between uses to keep them fresh and then simply hung them to dry, washing them when they got dirty or once a week. The result, after a few weeks, was that I never had a dry diaper cover when I needed one because they were either dripping in the bathroom or dirty (remember, I wasn't washing frequently enough either). So now I just wipe them down or wash them, one or the other. If they don't smell good, I use some of the nursery cleaner I bought (I can't remember the name of the company offhand, but the spray is called 2AM Miracle) to spray and wipe them or prewash spray them. I also spray all our absorbent diapers with the same spray and that helps a bit with odor and stain control. Don't worry, it's labeled for such use! In short, the covers still get washed about once a week on average, but they're really not getting dirty so that's okay. But wiping them down seems much more effective than just rinsing them in plain water, and they are ready for use after only an hour or two instead of all day.

Diaper sprayer: Warning - we're gonna talk about poop! I have heard mixed reviews about whether or not diaper sprayers really work. The honest truth is that they make a huge mess if you don't aim perfectly. Another honest truth is that low-flow toilets don't remove poop from a diaper very well. So obviously, the answer is somewhere in the middle (at least for us since we have the aforementioned low-flow toilet). I bought a mini shower head that can be attached to your existing shower head via a tee and a quick-connect. Our bathroom is small, so we connect it to the shower head and stretch the 6 foot hose across to the toilet. Then we (I) hold the diaper by a clean corner down into the toilet and spray down. Advantage: warm water and plenty of it. Disadvantage: well, like I said, it makes a mess. But the diapers go into the pail wet and clean-ish instead of dirty, and so this helps with the smell. Plus, unlike a dirty disposable, the source of the smell is flushed away, so I find our cloth pail smells a little less bad than the Diaper Genie. That's nothing against the Diaper Genie - there's just no point in cleaning a disposable diaper (beyond dumping its contents). So sometimes we use it, and sometimes we (I) don't. And the rest of the time, it hangs over the hook I use for the infant tub. For the record, if I think there's even a chance the sprayer might be dirty, I sanitize the end when I'm done using it.

There are other little changes we've made, but these are the most critical to my success thus far. Perhaps there's a tidbit in here that might help you!  Again, if there's anything you're wondering about our cloth diapering experience thus far, leave a comment or send me an email at

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cloth for two: Why cloth diapers?

First of all, I'll be honest with you - I'm not what you might consider a typical eco-friendly, crunchy, natural, green mama. Life with baby twins just hasn't lent itself to consistently making those sorts of choices. I do, however, strive to make choices that are best for our family, best for those around us (including those who must live with the consequences of our actions now and in the future) and most in line with God's plan, as best I can discern.

So what does this have to do with green living, and more specifically with cloth diapering? Well, first of all, it's entirely true that twins go through twice as many diapers as single babies. If we are exclusively using disposables, which we have done for the majority of Emily and Erin's life (about 7 months out of 10 so far) we go through an average of 400 diapers a month. When they were younger and woke up during the night to be fed and changed, that was more like 500.

Another reason to give cloth a try: fluffy cloth bums=adorable!
When Emily and Erin were first born, we lived in an apartment with a communal dumpster for our garbage. This meant that when we emptied the Diaper Genie, a nifty contraption that compresses used diapers into a plastic bag tube not unlike a sausage casing, we could just take the diaper sausage downstairs and not think about it again. When we moved into our current home this fall, however, this was no longer an option. We had to pay for garbage service, and we quickly realized that diapers were filling up our trash can so fast we needed the biggest can available. This meant it cost almost double to have our garbage emptied weekly.

I did the math. We were buying diapers - to throw away - and paying extra to have them hauled off. This didn't take into account other effects of disposable diapers, which include environmental impact, rash issues, and potential chemical hazards. I decided to try cloth diapers mainly for the cost, but I considered these other factors in my decision at the time. Emily and Erin were about 5 months old the first time we tried cloth diapers.

I made more than a few mistakes my first time around. For one thing, the thin cloth diapers readily available in stores are excellent for many things, but not really that great as diapers. I can't speak for newborns, because they might work just fine for that stage where you change diapers every 45 minutes, but for older babies they lead to untold frustration. We also started cloth diapers during Advent, which coincided with all of us being sick, and countless activities for the family. Needless to say, we gave up quickly. I think we made it about a month, and it was just long enough to see how awesome it was to not empty the Diaper Genie constantly (and see how much it stinks - literally - to do cloth wrong!)

The cloth diaper stash got washed, folded, and set out by the washer and dryer in our garage. I couldn't bring myself to think of selling them, though I did give most of the inexpensive "burp rag" cloth diapers to a fellow twin mama who was suffering through reflux with her babies. I couldn't figure out why I wanted to keep them, other than I really wanted cloth diapering to work. I'm stubborn like that.

After about a month of looking at the diapers every day while I did laundry, I suddenly found myself with more time and less money. Erin and Emily started to self-wean at around 7.5 months, and we were buying more and more formula. Eventually, I weaned them off their last night feeding, since it's the one I miss 2-3 times a week for work, and we went to all formula. We were able to switch to Kirkland (Costco) infant formula, which I'm happy about for multiple reasons (primarily the fact it does NOT contain HFCS, secondarily the 50% savings over Similac). I still found myself called to try cloth diapering again. The nagging little voice in my head pointed out that not nursing offered me 4-6 extra hours a day to make cloth work, and that we could buy better diapers and save tons of money in the long run. I brought this up at the perfect moment to gain my husband's approval, and we started cloth diapering again about a week later.

It's been about three weeks since we started round two of cloth diapering, and while we don't do it full time for multiple reasons, I notice a huge difference in how I feel about diapers and how Emily and Erin react to them.. Tomorrow, I'll share some of the specific things I've done differently to make cloth work for us, my favorite diapers thus far, and later this week, I'll share how to balance working outside the home with cloth diapering. If you're a fellow twin mama (or mama of any number) and there's anything you're dying to know about cloth for two, email me ( or ask in the comments!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Floral Print Dress

Squinting - the sun decided to make a brief appearance
Outfit deets: 
Dress: Target (Merona)
Cardi: Target (Circo - girls' section!)
Boots: Christmas gift from Dan (Anne Klein via DSW)
Knee socks (that made wearing a dress in 45 degree weather possible): Smartwool 
Earrings: gift from my mom

I was out shopping last weekend at Target when I saw this dress. Now, I don't normally buy dresses, and when I see something I like at Target that's full price, I tend to wait to buy it. We live pretty close to Target, so I'm there once a week or so. But it was Sunday afternoon, I was buying things for our trip to Portland the next day, and I had it on my heart to wear dresses or skirts to Mass from now on. First of all, let me say that there's nothing wrong with wearing pants to church. Going is what matters. But for me, if I prepare by dressing up and planning an outfit, I arrive at Mass in a more focused, reverent, and patient frame of mind. 

Long story short, I bought the dress, and the sweater to go with it. I couldn't find a sweater I liked for a reasonable price in the women's section, so I cruised by the girls' section. Not only did they have a gray flyaway cardigan, it was much cheaper than anything for grownups. I didn't really have a wash and wear dress before, so now I've got one for this spring and summer. I love that it can be dressed up or dressed down. I had to wear wool knee socks today because it was rainy and cold, but the boots hid them pretty well and they kept me very warm and comfortable.

The homily today resonated with me because the priest talked about the guilt that Peter must have felt every time he pictured Jesus' face on the way up Calvary, even after he knew he had been forgiven. He connected that with how we can replay our sins over and over again, continually punishing ourselves and refusing to accept forgiveness. I'd never really thought about it that way, but it makes sense. Yet another reason to go to confession often!

Emily and Erin get an A+ for Mass behavior today, especially with the distracting kids behind us. Erin briefly dabbled in some arm waving and baby shrieks, but we were so far in the back that I don't think anyone was bothered. They had their bottles during the Offertory and then were asleep by the Consecration. They got all dressed up for Mass today (these were supposed to be their Easter outfits, but we were all sick):

Erin's outfit:
Cardi: Cherokee (thrifted)
Dress and leggings: Carters via Walmart

Emily's outfit:
Cardi: Carters (thrifted)
Dress and leggings: Carters via Walmart

I swear their feet were covered, but I have no idea what happened to their socks. Well, I kind of do - there are tons of socks in the backseat of our car. So that might have something to do with it. Also, the leggings have tiny white polka dots on them and Emily's cardigan is striped - they just didn't want to sit still for a picture. I tried. 

Have a blessed Sunday, y'all! I'm linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday, so you should head over for more Mass outfits!

Friday, April 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 37: Blankets, pins, hotel rooms, and 5ks

Thanks to Grace for hosting, and congratulations to Jen on the birth of her adorable munchkin Joseph Thomas, born on the Feast of the Annunciation! Many prayers for a quick and speedy recovery for both of you, especially Joseph who is still in the NICU.
--- 1 ---
I'm running a 5k tomorrow. I'm a little concerned because I was making time for regular running, and then, as you might recall, sickness hit our house and I stopped. I figured my immune system could only handle so much stress before giving in. I know, I know. Exercise makes you healthy. My personal experience, however, has been more to the effect of catching whatever's going around whenever I start running after some time off. So I'll be running the 5k without the benefit of a lot of regular running over the past month.
--- 2 ---
I do have a fairly active job, where I walk briskly for a good portion of my days, and between that and running around after Emily and Erin, I feel as though I'm in decent shape. And by that I mean I'm fairly confident I can run 3 miles. I think I'll be missing my iPod (this is the Color Me Rad 5k, where you get splattered with paint, so I think I'll do my iPod a favor and give it the race off) but it'll be a fun race, so I'm not too worried there. Anyone out there ever run this race?
--- 3 ---
We survived an overnight stay in a hotel with Emily and Erin! I have to say, I don't understand why anyone would ever design a hotel room with curtains that don't close all the way. Especially one where the windows face a brightly lit parking lot. You have to consider such things as babies who wake up in the middle of the night and think it's morning, after all. Not that (ahem) that happened three times the night we stayed there or anything. I made sure to point this fact out to the clerk at the front desk. Overall, though, it was a really nice room, with a beautiful bathroom and all the amenities we needed (other than curtains). Moral of the story: bring a blanket and safety pins next time. Also, when staying in a hotel with small children, it's prudent to consider tiring them out somewhere other than the hotel room. Note that I have no idea how to do it, I just know that letting them crawl around the bed is less than ideal. Overall, it was a fun trip, though the purpose was sad (Dan's grandfather's burial) and we got to see lots of family and some friends. Emily and Erin were quite happy to be reacquainted with the floor on Wednesday when we got home.
--- 4 ---
We're still doing well with cloth diapering at least part time, though I am on the lookout for a way to keep the diaper pail smelling...fresh. Or at least to keep Erin and Emily's room from smelling like diaper pail. Any suggestions?
--- 5 ---
Emily has learned to push up on her knees and just hang out, like some babies sit. This is awesome when she can get down safely. She does a little better every day, unless she gets excited about something and flops over. Even then, some of the time she'll remember to catch herself. Sometimes we can catch her, but most of the time it happens so suddenly we can't get over to her in time.
--- 6 ---
I just realized this morning that I have a problem with coffee. It's not what you'd think, either. I pour myself a cup every morning, and I get so distracted by what the girls are doing that I forget to drink it. Then it gets cold. So I guess I need to start drinking it faster. I think that's a challenge I can embrace. After all, since Erin's new thing is trying to pull pulling things off the coffee table, I have to protect it from her!
--- 7 ---
Emily will be having a minor surgery next Tuesday, so if you could spare some prayers for our family that would be wonderful! I know it's small compared to what many mothers have to endure with their babies, and I thank God that we should be going home the same day. The surgery is to remove a small growth from where her umbilical cord was cut. It should be fairly early in the morning, since Emily is so young (and won't understand why I'm not giving her anything to eat or drink). I think it will be easier overall since she doesn't know what is happening, which is why we aren't waiting. Her pediatrician thinks it should be removed and knows the surgeon who is doing it, so I do feel confident with Emily in his hands. Again, any prayers are appreciated! And please don't forget to pray for Jen and her family, as what they are going through is much more traumatic and stressful. Have a wonderful weekend!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
Head on over to visit Grace's hilarious blog and read lots more Quick Takes!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What I wore Sunday: Divine Mercy Sunday

A pop of color on a gray spring day.
Outfit deets:
Scarf - Old Navy
Sweater - Old Navy
Skirt - Banana Republic via a friend's closet purge
Boots - Christmas gift from my husband (DSW) 
Mass behavior: Emily gets an A+ from me. Dan and Erin ended up sitting in the back of the church outside the sanctuary, while Emily and I sat in a pew. We had trouble finding parking so Dan dropped Emily and me off and brought Erin later. I don't know if Emily behaved better without her sister to egg her on (Erin's usually the one who starts things) or if she just liked having my attention and being in the Ergo. Either way, she spent most of Mass playing with the medal and cross on the chain I wear and teething on my scarf, and fell asleep during the consecration. I think it was the most focused I'd been at Mass since Emily and Erin were born, though I did find my mind momentarily wandering to the sad day when both babies will be too big for Ergo front carrying.
I love the story in the Gospel reading today about how Thomas wouldn't believe Jesus until he saw the wounds with his own eyes and felt them with his own hands. Faith is about so much more than believing because we see the proof of God's existence. It's about believing God is there even when He doesn't seem obvious. I saw a wonderful quote from Pope Francis the other day where he talked in a homily about trying to complain less, because when we're complaining about what goes wrong, we're closing ourselves in and distancing ourselves from Jesus. We focus on the concrete details; the driver that cut us off and the irritating interaction with another person. Our lives begin to revolve around those same negative thoughts. Thinking that way doesn't leave any room for the beauty of true faith in God. Thomas' doubts about Jesus are well known, and I think most of us hear the story and imagine that we would react differently, that we too would believe. But how often do we actually look for God in our day-to-day struggles? Do we just notice His perceived absence?
One of my favorite songs is by George Strait, "I Saw God Today," about a man seeing the beauty of God when he steps out of the hospital after his daughter is born. The refrain fits in pretty well with today's Gospel:
"I've been to church
I've read the book
I know he's here
But I don't look
Near as often as I should
Yeah, I know I should
His fingerprints are everywhere
I just slowed down to stop and stare
Opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today..."
Faith is about more than just knowing God exists. It's about allowing Him to enter every aspect of our lives, and seeing His fingerprints in the midst of the chaos and despair that so often penetrate our days. I know I have a lot of work to do in this area. It's easy, at least for me, to get caught up in the details of the day and feel as though I'm alone, like Jesus is taking a breather for the afternoon. But to sum up Pope Francis' wise words, we're really only alone if we choose to feel that way. God is there - we just have to open our eyes and our hearts to His presence.
I'm linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday! Head on over to check out Kendra and Henry's adorable coordinating outfits!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 36

As always, Jen, thank you so much for hosting, and many prayers for you as you undergo your procedure today! 
--- 1 ---
Well, we're recovering from the week of sick over here, and praying that we can do better at staying healthy! Really, Holy Week was the worst of it, but it took until yesterday for me to say that both girls finally seemed better. The first trip to the pediatrician, on Holy Thursday, gave us a diagnosis of "that virus that's going around." The second, to urgent care on Holy Saturday, gave us a diagnosis of ear infections and some amoxicillin to fight them. The third, which was just for Erin, we came away with an albuterol inhaler, which finally opened up her airways enough to get her back to breathing well. My poor babies! I pray I don't have to see them this sick again for a long time.

It's hard to decide whether to keep your kids home and away from germs during the winter or let them get out a bit and exposed to the world - at least for me. Since we're lucky enough to have our family watching Emily and Erin during the afternoons/evenings I'm at work, they're somewhat limited in their exposure. This makes things like going to Mass or even to the store a risky venture. I know every parent has a different philosophy on going places vs. staying home when sick - heck, every person seems to have a different philosophy on that. Plus, there are always circumstances that trump that philosophy and bring a sick person out into the world out of necessity. Just some things I've been mulling over in my mind rather than pondering the amount of snot it's possible for one nine-month-old to produce in an hour.
A sweet snuggly moment from this week - Emily spent a lot of time in the Ergo with Mommy.

--- 2 ---
We're trying cloth diapers again, and this time I think things might work out better. For one thing, we have more absorbent diapers this time around (thicker and heavier prefolds to go with our existing covers) and I feel like I'm trying to do less than I was the first time we tried them. It's really easy to overlook exactly how many diapers I change in a week when we're using disposables (other than changing the diaper pail liner) but when you're washing and folding them, it's pretty hard to ignore. There's something that feels kind of virtuous and frugal about it right now, though I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon. I'm hoping by then it will have become a habit. Twenty-one days, right?
Plus, cloth diapers are just so darn cute!

--- 3 ---
My babies, splashing like big girls *sniff*
We passed a huge milestone last night - Emily and Erin can sit up well enough to take a bath in the big tub! Well, to be totally honest, they have to have help sitting up just right so they're stable, mostly because we have yet to get a grippy mat thing for the bottom of the tub (that's a technical term, by the way). But when I drained the water down so that it was only a few inches deep, they loved swimming around and splashing in the bubbles. When we got to the end, I wasn't sure how to get them out without having to leave someone in the tub, but it occurred to me to drain the tub all the way and then scoop each up and whisk them into their cribs wrapped in a towel. Their room is literally inches from the bathroom, so this worked out pretty well. The time savings here is huge, because running the water into the infant tub takes a lot of time, and the baby who isn't being bathed is always unhappy, whether she's clean or waiting to get clean. They love to watch each other take a bath, so I think they'll really like bath time together - they sure had fun last night!

--- 4 ---
Erin (left) and Emily, playing with their bouncy chair. 
Emily and Erin love playing together all of a sudden. They've always played close by and seemed confused and upset if their sister suddenly disappeared, but it always seemed to be due more to the lack of attention. I'd hear them talking back and forth, but they would often be on opposite sides of the room having a "conversation."Now that they can crawl quickly and are starting to move around upright on their knees, they interact over various toys and seem to have all sorts of fun. They're getting better at catching themselves when they lose their balance, too, so there have been fewer tearful tumbles in the last few days. They really want to stand up and move, but it's still going to be a few more weeks at least before that happens. Or maybe not - maybe they'll surprise me. They're getting pretty good at that!

--- 5 ---
Erin finally decided to crawl with her tummy up!
You know how baby food is designated by whether or not your baby crawls with her/his tummy off the floor? Well, if we went by that rule, Emily and Erin wouldn't be very adventurous eaters. They have been crawling around our house for months now, but they never seemed very interested in pushing up and moving on all fours. They just take their tummies along for the ride. I did some reading on where the crawling milestone came from, and determined that they were strong enough to start moving on food-wise. After all, every baby is different. 

I was starting to think, especially as they started pulling up and pushing up, that maybe they'd never actually crawl with their tummies up - but then this week Erin proved me wrong. Not for very long, but she did it. See above blurry pic for proof. Emily watched her, but for some reason she didn't try. She has her own special method of crawling that involves being able to crawl and carry a toy (skills!) and I think she'll stick with it for the duration.

--- 6 ---
"La canción de A, B, C..."
I absolutely love this new activity table that I picked up at the baby/child thrift store, and Emily and Erin seem to love it too. It's really showing off Erin's dominant personality. I actually caught her scooting the table across the floor, dragging a protesting (also kneeling) Emily with her, happily singing and bobbing her head with the music. The best thing about this table is that it plays in both English and Spanish, so I can switch the mode to Spanish and they are rocking out to the ABC Spanish. Yeah, I'm that crazy mom...

--- 7 ---
So I have to end this by giving a shout-out to my husband, since I threatened to post this on Facebook/Twitter and never followed through. Earlier this week, we were talking about going back to cloth diapers (for a variety of reasons, the main one being all the things which can be bought with the immense amount of money spent on disposable diapers for two over a period of two or three years). He agreed to support us in this venture - in fact, he actually said: "Yeah, let's do that." Then, within the next hour, we were talking about adding raised beds in the backyard for a vegetable garden this summer. Dan said, and I quote: "We should definitely do that. That would be great, because then we could compute some of the garbage." Yeah, I'll admit it, while swooning over the wonderful man I married who wants to build us raised beds and a compost bin, I got nit-picky about compute vs compost. And yep, he's taken. But he's also awesome. Just had to throw that out there. Happy Friday, y'all!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Five Favorites

1. LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Activity Table
I picked this up at our local baby/child thrift store a couple of weeks ago, and I absolutely love it. Well, more importantly, the wee ones love it. It has two settings, a colors/letters/shapes setting and a musical setting. It also has English and Spanish modes - perfect since I was hoping to teach Emily and Erin Spanish. Let me tell you, there is nothing cuter than seeing your 9 month old rocking out to the ABC song. Unless, of course, it's both your 9 month olds rocking out to the ABC song in Spanish (see picture below). We did end up putting the table on my yoga mat, to minimize skidding and tipping and make a semi-soft landing spot on our hardwood floors.

"La canción de A, B, C..."
2. Jillian's Drawers (gently) used cloth diapers
So you're thinking about trying cloth diapers, but you're not sure they'll work out for you. Or you just don't know which kind will work best. Or you know you like cloth diapers, but you're bargain hunting. Either way, enter Jillian's Drawers. A friend recommended their (gently) used diapers to me, and so far I'm really impressed. The way it works is that they accept unstained returns within a certain period of time, and then resell those used diapers for a really good price. Most companies that sell cloth diapers won't take returns at all, so if you're not sure cloth will work, this can be a great way to go buying new diapers. You can also buy a few different types of used diapers and see which you like best.

We're currently trying cloth for the second time, and I was able to get ten used prefold diapers through their site and another seven (brand new!) from the baby/child thrift store. (A prefold is one of those diapers that's thicker and fluffier in the middle, meant to fold in thirds and be worn inside a waterproof cover.) Since we already had covers (see #4) this gives us a couple of days' worth of cloth diapers for a fraction of what you could pay normally. The shipping was really fast as well - and it was cross country, since they're based in New York and we live in Oregon.
A couple of our gently used prefolds. They aren't white, but they're unbleached cotton, so they're not supposed to be!
3. Amoxicillin
Ok, so it's old news. But it's been the week of sick at our house, and after five days of two miserable, snotty, feverish baby girls who were bumping their heads on everything, we discovered that they both had ear infections. Enter amoxicillin. Granted, it's pink and sticky (I don't know this because I wiped it up off the floor multiple times...) and doesn't smell like it would taste good, but it certainly did the trick. Within 24 hours, we had better balance all around, and a significant increase in the happy factor. I have to say that the albuterol inhaler Erin ended up needing ran a close second for this spot, but I figured we didn't need to dwell on sick too much. 

A few of our colorful diaper covers - the blue and yellow are velcro, the pink has snaps.

My adorable fluffy-bummed babies, rocking Kawaii covers.
All that's left at my house is the mini version, because my husband loves these so much! And because he loves them and they make him happy, of course I love them too. What's that? You've never had a Cadbury egg? (Really?) Well, get ye to the store and get some. They might be on sale because Easter, in the store's mind, is over. If they are, they'll probably be gone soon. So you should definitely do it today. The original are Dan's favorite, though the chocolate ones aren't bad. 

I'm linking up with Hallie (well, Jen, but it's Hallie's blog!) for Five Favorites! Head on over and check out what all the other ladies are loving this week, and don't forget to wish Hallie a very happy birthday while you're there!