Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday- Fun times with the kids

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ch Ch Changes... to our sleeping habits

It seems with kids that just when you get used to something or something works well for you, something else goes to heck on you!  At least that is how it seems with us.

A couple of months ago I blogged about Brennan's new bed time routine.  I am happy to report that this routine is still working quite nicely for us.  He actually looks forward to bed time.  The catch, however, is that we never know just how long he'll stay asleep and/or in his own bed.  Since Brennan was several months old, he's been going through good sleeping streaks that last anywhere from a few days to a couple of months.  As soon as we start to think that, "This is it!- he's finally sleeping through the night!" He mixes it up again and becomes a terror after dark.

He's in one of those terror streaks now.

Every night we have been jolted from sleep just a couple hours into it by our crying and screaming two and a half year old.  One of us scurries into his room as quickly as possible to hopefully hush the screaming before he wakes his sister, who is happily sleeping only a few feet away.  We rarely are successful in preventing her from waking and needing comfort (AKA mommy feeding her... probably mostly for comfort).

Brennan usually begs for a bottle, which we rarely allow in the middle of  the night anymore,asks to come into our bed, and finally concedes if we will sit in his chair or cuddle in his toddler bed until he falls asleep.  This may happen once or several times.  Sometimes he is more demanding, though, and will demand to sleep in our bed.  We can try to fight him on this, but he is so stubborn that quite often it is best to just give in so that we can all get a little sleep.

I think part of the problem is that he is getting jealous that Bryleigh gets to sleep with us quite a bit.  You see, when she wakes up, I run in, grab her, and bring her back to our room.  She is very hard to feed and get laid back down in her crib right away without her waking up and freaking, so I normally just lay in bed and feed her so we can all sleep.  Typically some time later on in the night, I wake up enough and put her in her pack and play in our room until she needs feeding/comforting again.

Well, we are really getting sick of having all four of us in a queen size bed!  So we knew that things would have to change.  On Sunday night we tried something new.  I took a Mickey night light that we weren't already using (we don't use night besides the 'on' light on our music machine/projector) and plugged it into a timer.  I explained to Brennan that he needed to stay in his own bed and go back to sleep after waking and noticing that the light is off, but we he sees that Mickey is lit up and shining, he can come in with us.  It is set to come on and 5:15.  He very clearly understood what we wanted him to do.  Sometime between 12:00 and 1:00 on Sunday night (Monday morning) he woke up and came out into the hallway, calling for Daddy.  He didn't come up to our bedroom door, but instead stood in the bathroom dooorway and waited for him.  He obviously remembered that he wasn't supposed to come into our room.  Ryan brought him back to his room and cuddled with him in his toddler bed- a bit of a squeeze.  Needless to say, I fit better in a toddler bed at only 5 feet tall.  After that one wake up, he slept in his own bed until 6:40.  That is great and on the later side for him! 

We used the light again last night.  I asked him to tell me what the 'night light rules' were and he flawlessly explained them to me.  Last night he slept in his own bed until 4:45 before getting up and looking for Daddy (I am always tending to Bryleigh by the time Brennan wakes).  They repeated the routine of going back in his own bed until after the night light came on.  Then they came back into our bed, since Brennan wasn't quite asleep (it came on a few minutes early as these non-digital timers are hard to set perfectly...).

I know it isn't a miracle cure, but it does seem to encourage him to stay in his own bed.  We'll keep working at it and being consistent and maybe one of these days he'll sleep through the night on a regular basis.

Bryleigh's issues are different.  I don't expect her to sleep through the night at not quite 5 months old.  I am realistic.  However, I would like bedtime to get easier with her.  Many times I lay her down and she wakes back up crying within a minute.  We may repeat this 3 or 4 times before finally having success.  I can't let her fuss herself to sleep due to the shared room- ahh, the joys of a shared room.  She also normally wakes up the first time only 3 hours or so into sleep.  I would love to get a little bit longer stretch out of her.  And though it is unrelated to sleep, she still will not take a bottle.

Tackling her sleeping issues is much harder than reasoning with our two year old.  We're starting by stretching out the time between her daytime feedings.  Most days she wants to snack all the time rather than having good feedings.  Now, I'm making sure to wait at least 2.5 to 3 hours between feedings to ensure that she's getting really full at each feeding.  We're hoping that by learning to go longer between feedings during the day will translate to night, as well.  We're also thinking that by eating less often when fussy during the day, and walking or bouncing instead, we might be able to break some of the comfort feeding stuff, which would help immensely at night.  And we're trying the bottle some during the day- not every day, but sometimes.  We would love it if some day she magically just took it!

Well, that's about it.  Here's hoping our ideas will work well!  Wish us luck and if you have any amazing tips, please let me know!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Some Reader Photo Edits...

So after a long while of not having anyone contact me about photo editing, I've gotten two emails this week!  Wow!  One of the requested edit jobs was pretty easy with the amazing help of Photoshop.  The other challenged  my skills and I learned a LOT while working on it!  I'm especially proud of it... :)  Here are the before and after shots:


After...  Slight brightening, noise reduction, and lots of poop removal! :)

Ok.  Here's the one I'm extra proud of!


After... Complete revamp.

So what do you think???

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Safees Reflectors Product Review

As a Mom of two little ones, I am always trying my best to make sure my kids are safe.  We all know that accidents happen, but still try our best to prevent them, especially when they may result in pain and injury to our child.  That's where Safees come in!

Safees pedestrian reflectors help to reduce the risk of traffic accidents by increasing visibility by up to 500%!  Many times this can make the difference between being struck by a car or being seen in time.

Before doing this review, I believed that one reflector was probably as good as the next- not true!  Safees are made of durable Polystryene and have hundreds of razor sharp prisms to reflect light.  Safees are very high quality, are CE certified (passed European Union's demands for quality), and are a green product.  Any plastic that is left over during the manufacturing process is used directly for Safees or recycled into other products.  Safees themselves are also 100% recyclable.

Safees reflectors are also capable of reflecting more light than most reflectors.  Their website explains it well.
"Reflectors effectiveness is measured in CIL (luminous intensity coefficient). Safees reflectors have a CIL from 1,600 to all the way over 3,000 CIL.
Soft reflectors usually land around CIL 700, but can be as low as 400. A good reflector must have a CIL of at least 1,000, but the higher the CIL the brighter the reflector will shine and the better it will protect you. Safees reflectors have only the highest CIL."
They also have this diagram to illustrate how Safees stack up to the competition:

Here is a video that shows Safees in action.  The difference in visibility with and without Safees is quite impressive.

I was sent 2 Safees to review, a neon green owl and a white heart, both which came with a spiral attachment.  I love that most of their designs are very child friendly, since many times it is the kids that REALLY need to be wearing them. 

As soon as I pulled them out of the bag, Brennan started oohing and ahhing about the owl and heart.  He really liked them!  He likes me to clip them into a 'bracelet' for him to wear.  I know that he'll have no problem at all wearing them when we're out at night.  I also really like that they can easily be clipped onto a stroller.  These will be fantastic for Trick or Treating!

Using Safees is such an easy way to help ensure the safety of your family!  Be sure to check them out!  Safees retail for $6 each.  Bulk discounts are available.

*I was given this product for review purposes.  All of my opinions about this product are solely my own.  Your opinions may differ.  I was not compensated to write this post in any way.*

Friday, August 17, 2012

My New Cloth Diaper Ritual

A LOT has changed about my cloth diaper care routine since I wrote my original post about the subject.  Though some of it is still good advice, I don't even follow all of my own tips anymore! Sooooo.... I thought I would do another then and now comparison in order to highlight the changes I've made, explain why, and hopefully help some other cloth diaper users in the process. Text will be blue for "then" and red for "now".

How I use them:
Cloth diapers are great!  I think they are stinking cute, too!
When I decided to try cloth diapers, I knew that I wanted something that would just velcro on rather than having to be folded and pinned, then covered with rubber pants.  I no longer use velcro diapers for 3 reasons- the company I get them from only makes special or bulk orders of velcro diapers, velcro is much easier than snaps for a toddler to unhook, and velcro will wear out faster than snaps.  My first step in my cloth diaper journey was picking them out.  After lots of research, I decided that I wanted to use pocket diapers.  Yup... I still love pockets.  The versatility is unmatched, in my opinion, and they are simple and fast for daycares and grandparents to use.  I got 36 of them so that I wouldn't have to do wash every other day!  Getting many diapers was truly a mistake!  Diapers really should be washed every 2-3 days in order to limit bacterial growth.  I only have 32 diapers now for 2 kids and I still have enough to get me through wash day without running out!  

Pocket diapers consist of a waterproof outer layer (not rubber pants, but a shell with elastic and velcro or snaps) with a slot at the back of the waistline that is stuffed with some sort of insert.  The fabrics used on the outer shells and inserts vary from diaper to diaper and you need to weigh the benefits of each when choosing.  My pocket diapers consist of a fleece lined PUL outer.  I still have some diapers with this fabric combination, but I also have diaper combinations with suedecloth inners and Minky outers.  The PUL or laminated Minky makes the diaper waterproof and the fleece or suedecloth pulls moisture away from baby's bottom.  Also, poop tends to roll off of fleece and suedecloth a bit better than some other materials.  For my inserts, I use 3 layer microfibers.  Microfiber has a great level of absorbency and really keeps baby feeling dry.  When Brennan, my baby boy, was younger I would just put two microfiber inserts in his diaper and that would keep him dry all night.  Now, even that isn't enough, but one still works great in the daytime.  Two microfibers is enough to keep Bryleigh dry all night, but they are really saturated by morning.  I guess I have two pee machines.  Microfiber does have a downside.  It tends to cling on to stains and smells more than most other materials.  I seem to have the problem with smells figured out, but my inserts do still have some stains.  I may have had the smell problem mostly fixed, but I didn't realize that I was damaging my covers with each and every wash.  More details on that coming...

I chose to make my own cloth wipes to accompany my diapers.  I care for them the same way that I care for my diapers, which is outlined in the next paragraph.  Wipes are extremely easy to make and work better than purchased disposable wipes.  Still in love with my cloth wipes.  I've made several sets, because they do wear out with repeated washing, but they are fast and cheap to make.  I cut both flannel and terry cloth into 5 x 7 in rectangles (The size is really not picky.  You can make them to fit in your storage container.).  I normally make them about 4x6 now.  I place one flannel rectangle on top of one terry cloth rectangle and sew an X across them diagonally from corner to corner.  Then I serge around the edges.  I then store all of my wipes, pre-moistened with only water, in a wipe warmer.

One of the cutest ones I made makes for a cute butt!
I care for my cloth diapers and wipes in a way that works well for me.  I know a lot of people do it differently, but this is my plan of action.  (Note: Always follow the instructions from your diaper manufacturer!)  After a diaper change we head to the bathroom to take care of the dirty diaper.  If we are not at home and cleaning the dirty diaper isn't convenient, the diaper gets wrapped up and thrown into a Ziploc bag.  I have a wetbag that I use most of the time now.  It holds several diapers and is washable, just like the diapers it holds.  We just take care of them as soon as possible.  If the diaper is only a pee diaper, we separate the insert and the outer, rinse both, give them a gentle wring, and toss them into the empty diaper pail.  I don't put any water, baking soda, tea tree oil, etc. in my pail- it's just empty.  If the diaper is a poop diaper, we pull the insert out and rinse, wring, and toss into the pail and use our diaper sprayer to spray the poop off of the outer and into the toilet.  We get it so all of the little pieces are cleaned off and it looks pretty darn clean, then wring it and throw it in the pail.
  Here is one of the biggest changes I've made and it only happened yesterday!  I just started using Bac-Out by BioKleen to control the stinkies.  I got a bottle of the foaming spray and sprayed down each insert and inside of each diaper.  I started my wash load with a presoak, then continued with a normal wash and an extra rinse.  Since it was nighttime, I used the dryer to dry them. They came out of the diaper smelling SO much better!  With continued use, I think they will only get better.  In related news, I've found a recipe for DIY Bac-Out that I plan to make soon.  I'll give you more details and my opinion of it soon!

The diaper sprayer is a Godsend.  All it is is one of those sink sprayers that attach to the plumbing behind your toilet.  It makes cleaning a poop diaper a lot less messy and you don't have to dunk or soak the diapers in the toilet so less mess gets on your hands.  I can't recommend any specific brands because we made our own with plumbing parts from the hardware store, but there are several brands out there.

The pail I use is not a typical diaper pail- it's better!  I use a dog food storage container with a rubber gasket seal around the lid.  It works great!  It keeps all the diaper smells inside when it is sealed, so you can keep it right in your bathroom without the stink.  Honestly, I leave the cover open quite often because my diapers don't stink much anyway!  Most also come with caster wheels that can be attached to the bottom so that if you have your washing machine on the same floor, you don't have to pick up the heavy pail and lug it to the washer.  You can push it instead!  I wish!!!

When I'm running low on diapers (every 4 days or so (every 2-3 days)) I carry my bucket down to the basement where my washer is.  Unfortunately, my washer is not on the main floor, so I can't take advantage of those caster wheels.  I load all of the dirty diapers and wipes into the washing machine.  I use a front loader, so it is very important not to overload it.  Most of the time I start with a pre-soak.  I wash my diapers on the heavy soil cycle with warm water and a cold rinse.  I also run an extra rinse. Woah... So now I don't do a presoak very often (but I'll probably start once I make my own Bac-Out).  I wash with cold water on normal soil and only use an extra rinse if I'm switching up my detergent.  I then dry on the clothesline if at all possible because of all of the benefits, but if I can't do that because of weather or time restraints, I machine dry them on low.  As far as water temperature goes- be sure to follow the manufacturer instructions.  If you can, washing on warm or hot is helpful.  My current cloth diapers, AlvaBaby, need to be washed in water temps below 95 degrees.

Detergent is one of the most important things to pay attention to with cloth diapers.  You should NEVER EVER use any sort of softener on your diapers, including dryer sheets! Also, don't use any sort of oil based diaper cream as it builds up and hurts absorbency.  For each load of my diaper wash, I use one scoop of Charlie's Soap Powder, one scoop of Sun Oxygen Cleaner, and a tablespoon or so of baking soda.  I guess I really don't have a favorite detergent anymore.  The Charlie's Soap seems to clean fine and not leave residue, so it is a good choice.  The number one thing is to avoid any softener and bleach, and it is also a good idea to avoid unnecessary ingredients like chemicals and brighteners.  Many cloth diapering families also like to avoid enzymes, but I truthfully believe that it is a good idea to either use an enzyme spray or detergent with enzymes, especially if you use microfiber inserts, and just make sure to rinse the diapers very well to avoid skin irritation.  I use the Sun Oxygen cleaner about half the time to help keep stains at bay, and I quit using the baking soda all together.  I add all of these things at the beginning of the wash cycle, right in with the diapers.  I also place about 3 tablespoons of vinegar in the softener dispenser of my washer.  This was a big mistake!  Vinegar is fine and helpful to use on the microfiber, but it degrades the PUL!  I learned this the very hard way.  I no longer have any of my original cloth diapers because they all began leaking terribly right through the PUL.  This helps to fight the ammonia smell that you'll sometimes begin to smell on your diapers after extended use, such as in the morning.  It does help fight the ammonia smell, but PLEASE only use it on inserts if you choose to use this tip.

Diapers drying on my line.

After the cycle is done, I always check to make sure there are no suds left.  If there are suds, you need to run another rinse.  If there aren't suds, you are ready to dry your diapers.  My favorite way to dry diapers is outside on the line!  Not only does this extend their life by not running them through the dryer, but it also saves energy and helps to bleach out poop stains and kill bacteria!  You can't use bleach on microfiber because it wrecks the absorbency, however you can hang microfiber inserts in the sun.  You'll be surprised how well the sun takes out stains, especially ones that haven't set.  If you choose you can dry your diapers in a dryer instead of hanging them out to dry.  If you choose to do this, dry them on low or medium to extend their life.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Poop 'n Pull Potty Training Device Review!

A couple of week ago, we started using our latest review product- the Poop 'n Pull from Joshheathmoffatt on Etsy.  Well, I suppose I should say that Brennan started using it... While the name may sound funny, the product itself is actually a pretty smart idea!

The Poop 'n Pull is a potty training device that delivers rewards to your child upon successful trips to the bathroom.  It consists of a main unit which has two sides- one storage compartment for your child's favorite treats, and the side you load the treats into, and a release string.  Using the device is easy and straightforward.  All you do is load the treat into the release area, wait for your child to successfully use the potty, and then let your child pull the string to release the reward.  The Poop 'n Pull also comes along with a sheet of tips for potty training success.

When the Poop 'n Pull came, I attached the included hook and placed it on the bathroom door.  I then told Brennan what it was and showed him how it works.  It wasn't too long and he wanted to give it a try.  He sat down and peed on his potty and then asked to use the Poop 'n Pull.  I happily obliged.  This has continued and has only gotten better.  He even made sure to tell me that his favorite treat is sour gummy worms! :)

Before the Poop 'n Pull, Brennan was interested in potty training in streaks.  He would do great using his potty for a week or so, then be completely uninterested again.  Since receiving the Poop 'n Pull, he has stayed interested an gotten much better at it!  Quite often he tells us when he has to go instead of us asking him if he needs to.  During the last few days he has been in underwear much more than in diapers, basically only wearing a diaper at nap time and at night.  He has had very few (or no) accidents during the last couple of days, too.  We're thrilled with how he is doing.  He still is uncomfortable with the idea of pooping on the potty for some reason, so we've had a couple accidents because of that, but I think he's getting much closer to trying it...

I absolutely believe that the Poop 'n Pull is the main reason behind his sudden and consistent interest in using the potty.  Yes, you could just hand your child a piece of candy, but there is really something more fun about letting your kiddo pull the string and get it themselves.  They like it better, too.  I'm very impressed!  What's even cooler is that Josh, the Poop 'n Pull creator, told me that the original Poop 'n Pull is more of a prototype and that they are working a new and improved model!

If you want a potty training incentive, head on over to Joshheathmoffatt and pick up a Poop 'n Pull for your child!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bryleigh is 4 months old!

1/3 of a year already!?!  I sure wish I could slow down time when your babies are little!  Bryleigh is growing fast and is such a sweetie.  She's a little peanut and I love it.


Yay for me!  I'm 4 months old!!!

I'm such a happy girl!  I just love giggling and squealing!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

The video needs a short explanation... Brennan may just have a future as an Olympic synchronized diver!