“Wrapping” for Toddler Booties! (Daily December #9)

I don’t know about you, but none of my Christmas presents are wrapped. Mostly because they haven’t been purchased. And even once they are wrapped, I guarantee they won’t look blog-worthy. Rather than subject you all to gobs of fancy tape and torn corners, I present you with:
christmas wrapping pic

I’ve tried countless different diapers and combinations over the past nine-ten months since I started cloth diapering. Through trial and error, I was able to discover what the best style of diapers are for each specific situation. Some people like to stay loyal to one type and brand – with a lot of experimenting, I have found out that a combination of all different types and brands works for us. A little of this, a little of that. Without further ado, here is what works for us:

For everyday errands (read: anytime we leave the house) my hands-down favorite diaper is (and always will be) the BumGenius 4.0 pocket diaper with snaps. It was the first diaper I tried on the boys, and it still works great.
bg 4.0nighttime diaper

It’s on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. The quality is superb. I usually wait for a good sale from Cotton Babies to pick up more. You can also get them at BuyBuyBaby, and the in-store coupons will save you 20%! Unfortunately, while I love the fit and the look of the 4.0, the microfiber inserts that are included are simply not absorbent enough for my heavy wetters. Instead, we stuff them with a single Alva 4-layer insert (available from AlvaBaby, and also on Amazon. You’ll notice the picture has an additional charcoal bamboo insert (CBI) – this is our double-stuff go-to for night-time. It provides an extra component of dryness (in addition to the stay-dry lining of the pocket shell).

For naptime or longer outings, I decided to supplement with some Happy Flute AIO (all-in-one) diapers.
hf AIOnap diaper

These are available in co-ops at a ridiculously low price. I’ve found these to be the highest quality of the “cheapie” diapers. They come in every color and pattern imaginable, as co-ops will create and order custom designs. I love the price and the variety of colors. They have a double-gusset which works well to keep moisture in, and they also have an additional pocket to customize absorbency. Another benefit is that the lining is charcoal bamboo, which again is absorbent but also has a stay-dry quality.

Finally, for around the house (or when we need a trimmer look for a specific outfit) we love Charlie Banana diapers.
cbcb with insert

These have a bra-strap style elastic instead of a multi-rise snap, so it takes a bit of tweaking to get a good fit. They are adorable on – I like the look of them best, and I love the colors they come in. They’re also ridiculously soft. I scored a ton of these when Target was clearancing them. The microfiber inserts don’t hold up well to toddler torrential downpours pee, though, so don’t put these under your favorite outfit.

What are you “wrapping” your little one in this holiday season? Share your favorites with me!

Bokeh Christmas Tree (Daily December #4)

This one is going to be awful.

Before you judge my photo, please consider that I don’t have an actual camera and I had to google “bokeh.” When I was looking for a list of blog topics, all I could find were photo challenges. Given that I am typically creative and like to include photos in my blog, I figured I could make it work. So far, it seems that all I am proving is that I will never, ever be a photographer. Thank goodness my children are naturally photogenic and I don’t have to work on this skill?

In any case, I’m sure you’ve seen my horrible fake bokeh masterpiece in the blog preview. Not only is it a teeny tiny fake Christmas tree, but it lives on an Ikea side table. Growing up, we always went and chose a beautiful tree together and the whole family would decorate it together on my mom’s birthday. We still do this for my parents’ tree, but my own household has never had anything like that. Our first year together, my husband and I had recently acquired an angry small dog, and so this was our “tree:”


We used the same tree the following year, as said dog was still small and angry and also prone to peeing on things on the ground. The year after that, we had darling little bundles of joy and no time or money to go find a real tree. This year we have tornado toddlers, and so the tree is “safely” located behind a baby gate. Speaking of the tree…

There’s always next year, for real bokeh and real trees.

Capture Wonder (Daily December #3)

I’m no photographer (as you can tell from my over-edited picmonkey tomfoolery), so I plan to be creative with this December photo challenge. What better way to “Capture Wonder” than to get professional pictures of your adorable child and send a holiday card? I’m obsessed with the photography of Chrystal Cienfuegos, and you really should be also. If I could afford to pay her to follow me around full-time with a camera, I would. I can’t possibly spoil our holiday photos, though, so I’ll show you this adorable sample from their first “official” photo shoot.

When your children are this cute, not just any card design will do. Luckily through the wonders of fate and the internet, I have befriended a fabulous graphic designer who just happens to specialize in cards featuring adorable children. Melissa of Sour Pea Design is always coming up with fresh new material for her Etsy shop. She creates custom or pre-made digital files at prices that are realistic for moms. Buying one of her designs and having it printed is not only cuter than your average photosite.com, it’s infinitely more affordable. I mean, check out these fabulous holiday options:





AND there’s even an option for twin moms (featuring the lovely Steely twins, photographed at their teeny-tiniest by Chrystal, of course.) How could you resist?


November blues; December challenge.

Some of you (I hope!) may have noticed that I have been neglecting my blog. November is always a hard month for me emotionally, and this year was no exception.  

In November of 2000, I lost my uncle in a car accident, and my high school graduating class lost one of its well-loved members to suicide. All loss is devastating, and my teenage self struggled to cope with the fleeting nature of life. Although I wasn’t particularly close to either of those people, it is the first time I recall my pseudo-adult self feeling the profound sense of loss that comes from being a sympathetic person – I saw that other people were heartbroken and it in turn affected me deeply. 

It’s understandable, then, that I was wary about the following November. It turned out, as a matter of fact, that November of 2001 would hold what I consider a defining moment in my life. On November 5, I broke my neck in a car accident. It’s a story that I’ve told so often I feel like it’s all one sentence: “I broke my neck in a car accident fractured C1-C2 they didn’t notice iron halo three months college freshman halo didn’t work surgery to fuse the vertebrae neck brace lucky to be alive yes I’m a miracle its AMAZING I’m fine now.” 

When you repeat something over and over again like that, it starts to lose significance. When you experience something as an eighteen year old, you don’t understand its significance. For these reasons, I feel like I didn’t start to realize what I could have lost, or what I had actually lost, until each subsequent November when I would reflect on it. 

There have been wonderful Novembers. The 2008 election; my 2011 honeymoon. I realize it sounds superficial to put them side by side, but isn’t a blog about my life inherently superficial, and thus immune to such judgment? It should be. This November, I was too distracted by most recent loss to contemplate my past losses, which was a blessing and a curse.

I have entire novels inside of me that are dying to come pouring out, relating to loss and my life and November, but I find too much navel-gazing at once to be uncomfortable and I always fear the reader will become bored with my reflections. Some day I’ll get the heavy stuff out in pages, instead of a few scattered thoughts at a time – maybe when the boys are older.  Right now, I feel like I have been lurking in the shadows of melancholy, and the onset of December has inspired me once again – as it does yearly – to snap out of it. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all. 

On that note, I’ve decided to do a Daily December blog post photo challenge. I realize I’m a day behind, and the posts might not always be on the right days, but bear with me. I hope that by sharing some holiday spirit and silliness, I’ll be inspired to feel lighter. 


Dealing with Loss.

I lost my baby at Costco.

Not literally, of course. And not my toddlers – they were safely strapped into the double cart, attracting as much attention as usual. No, I lost the teeny tiny glimmer of a future child my husband and I had just conceived. I can’t explain how I knew. But I did. I felt an odd sensation, and was instantly filled with panicky anxiety. I was nervous enough to be pregnant again so soon, and something just didn’t feel right. I tried to rationalize it away, but my body felt off. It knew.

It’s a strange thing, this grief. I was so excited to be pregnant again – my first babies are turning into big kids and I love every minute of it. I don’t want them to be newborns again – not by a long stretch. No, instead it is that I love toddlers so much that I want more of them. These little people that we made – we want another one. You’ve seen them – who wouldn’t? I knew it was time when I brought it up and my husband didn’t turn a whiter shade of pale. We were ready – we ARE ready. Our life is already chaotic. What’s one more?

It was just as easy as the first time – in fact, I found myself thinking it was too easy. We wanted a baby, and boom! Two pink lines. I was worried, a little, but mostly just overjoyed. We would be having a June baby – every teacher’s dream, right? With the right luck, I wouldn’t have had to take maternity leave. I’m terrible at secrets and so we told everyone. I don’t regret that; I don’t even know how to keep things to myself. And why would I? Pregnancy is exciting. Scary, but exciting. Which brings me back to Costco.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong that Friday, and I was becoming increasingly nervous about my first appointment. At the last minute we found out my husband’s work schedule changed and I would have to go alone. Considering the last time I went for a dating ultrasound they discovered TWO babies, I was less than thrilled with the thought of being by myself. I had a nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. I got to the appointment early, did all the paperwork, peed in a cup. The usual. I saw the same nurse practitioner and we talked about all the logistics. And then came the moment of truth – the last time I was in this position, my life changed forever. And this time, again, it did. I knew immediately that something was wrong. She thought I would be almost nine weeks based off my cycles; I knew I should be almost exactly seven weeks due to my charting. Instead of a first heartbeat, however, the ultrasound showed only an empty gestational sac. A white circle.

She went on about “grey areas” and “follow ups” and how charting can be wrong, but I knew. I did the math over and over and over in my head and I knew. I was not five-six weeks pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant at all. It’s all kind of a blur; I scheduled the follow up appointment as I was told. I sat in my car and cried. I texted my husband and my mom, and cried more. I got home just in time to put my kids to bed, and they knew something was off. Everyone was crying. I couldn’t wrap my head around this. Miscarriages happen, but they don’t happen to me. I was going to have a June baby, and now all of a sudden I wasn’t going to have a baby at all. My friends and family were supportive; I tried to maintain hope. Things just didn’t feel right.

That appointment was a Wednesday. On Saturday, I started spotting, and by Sunday it was worse. I woke up Monday two hours before my alarm in so much pain I could barely breathe. I put in for a sub and tried to brave through the minutes until the doctor’s office would open. I made it almost half an hour before I gave up and called the triage line, where I was directed to head to the ER. I am so grateful that I have family around, as my husband was able to stay home with the boys while my dad dropped me at the ER, where my mom was already waiting. I was admitted quickly and everything happened fast. Ultrasound, painkillers, fluids, dizziness, nausea, cramps, the “M” word, tears, exhaustion. I was “treated and discharged” quickly and everyone was very kind. They instructed me to have a follow up ultrasound done, and that was that.

It’s strange, this sense of loss. How do you grieve something that never was? Everyone has their own path, I suppose. I remind myself I am blessed to have two beautiful boys, and I take comfort in the kind words and thoughts of others. The bottle of Don Julio my friend left on my doorstep surely hasn’t hurt. In the grand scheme of life, it’s just another small bump to overcome. A memory to tuck away, soon to be covered with piles of other, more wonderful memories. Greysonfleecesawyerfleece

Sunday Reflections

I’ve been seriously neglecting my blog, due to the fact that I’ve taken a role as producer for an upcoming podcast with New Mommy Media, in addition to teaching full time, in addition to raising toddler twins… and I’m supposed to somehow keep my house clean?! Thank goodness for my husband.

Now that work is in full swing, I’m noticed that I have less time for social media. At first it felt frustrating, as though I was missing out on important information. Lately though, it feels a little liberating. Don’t get any crazy ideas; I can’t stand to be unplugged for more than a few hours at a time! But it is nice to know that I’m so far behind on everyone else’s life that I don’t need to check for updates every thirty minutes. I’m sure if I miss something really important, someone will tag me.

On the flip side, teaching History this year has forced me to more involved in the news and current events, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I was quite enjoying my little bubble where the real world didn’t exist. There is something to be said for burying one’s head in the sand when it comes to all the big bad things in the big bad world. Irresponsible, probably, but comforting. It does, however, feel good to know a little more, even if it’s scary, and it feels really good to have conversations with teenagers about the world around them. I have always loved teaching 16, 17, and 18 year olds. They are so confident in their omniscience. I miss being that smart. Remember how smart you were at 17? You knew everything. Some people might think I’m crazy (I am) but I find it refreshing to hear their opinions, educated or otherwise.

Back at home, things are wonderful. I enjoy my toddlers even more than I enjoy my teenagers. At 14 months, every day is something new and adorable. I could be stressing about how hard it is to come home from a long day of crazy students and walk into a house full of crazy toddlers (and some days, I do) but most days I’m just delighted to see them. They could not be more fun at this age. This week brought belly button poking, “asking” for kisses, signing “more” and “please,” saying “Pah” for Grandpa, tilting their heads coyly at strangers, running away from diaper changes, running toward the bathroom for “bath bath bath bath bath bath” time, and just generally being dancing, bouncing, loving baby boys.



10 must-haves for the first 12 months

I compiled this list as a general guideline for new moms, specifically new twin moms. There are SO many products out there – you could spend a fortune before you’ve even purchased a single diaper. But you don’t have to! We made do with very little. The following products are ones that I found to be simple, (mostly) affordable, and more importantly, USEFUL. I cannot even tell you how many things I read about, heard about, or received as gifts that were barely even touched. This is just the bare bones – start here if you’re becoming overwhelmed.

1. aden + anais Rayon From Bamboo Swaddle Blanket 3 Pack, Azure

The softest, stretchiest, most luxurious swaddle blanket out there. Forget receiving blankets. You want these. A lot of them. They’re spendy, but worth it.

2. WubbaNub Giraffe

This way even if your children will never take pacifiers, they’ll look cute trying.

3. Alva Baby Cloth Diaper 4layers Antibacterial Bamboo Inserts Super Water Absorbent 12pcs 12mb

Hands down the best insert I’ve ever put in my pocket diapers. Buy 10. Or 20. We have 45.

4. Skip Hop Duo Double Deluxe Diaper Bag, Black

The king of all diaper bags. You will need this when your twins are small. Once they start toddling, switch to a backpack.

5. Baby Jogger 2012 City Mini Double Stroller, Black/Gray

The most versatile double stroller in its price range. We used it from day one (okay, day six) and cannot say enough good things about it.

6. Gerber 10-Pack Cloth Diaper Prefold Premium 6-ply with absorbent padding

These DO NOT make good cloth diapers. They DO, however, make the best burp cloths.

7. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote

Most twin moms (and nearly all working moms who plan to breastfeed) will need a pump at some point. Lactation consultants typically recommend hospital grade for twins, especially in the early days, but this is a great portable one. *If you’re planning to nurse your twins, I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s a must-read.

8. Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair, Scatterbug

These were great for bringing out and about from eight weeks to eight months. Our boys went all the over the place in these – a wedding, multiple restaurants, a taco shop – you name it! At eight months, we switched to all-plastic chairs as the straps on these were difficult to clean once they really got into exploring solid food.

9. bumGenius One-Size Snap Closure Cloth Diaper 4.0 – Moonbeam

Arguably the simplest and most versatile cloth diaper on the market. Stuff with one insert for home, two for naps or trips, two or three for overnight. Some will prefer the hook-and-loop closure, but we love snaps. They have a learning curve, but they’re invaluable when your children learn to undo hook-and-loop closures. Bonus: No untangling diaper chains out of the washer.

10. Graco My Ride 65 Car Seat – Preston

Reliable, functional, comfortable, cute. All you’re looking for in a convertible carseat. We were able to take the boys home from the hospital in these, with a little extra padding in the way of rolled-up receiving blankets. That allowed us to skip the bucket seats which translated to huge savings (Times four – two carseats for each car the boys travel in).

Have more to add? Let us know what worked for you!

*Disclosure: This post contains links that generate revenue as a part of the Amazon Associates program.

How I started my cloth diapering journey

My children are geniuses. It’s true! I frequently look over and notice them solving complex equations, learning quantum physics, and developing cures for infectious diseases.

Despite their obvious intellect, there is one problem they have never figured out. They loooooove to eat, drink, and nurse – but haaaaate to have their diaper changed. Hate is an understatement, actually. I try to perform all diaper changes in dark, soundproof rooms so that no one calls
social services.

In the early days, our typical schedule looked like this: wake up, nurse, change diaper, nurse, change diaper, nurse, change diaper, nurse, HOLYMOTHEROFGODHOWDOESONEKIDHAVESOMUCHPOOP, nurse, DEARGODANOTHERONE, nurse, change diaper, nurse nurse nurse… You get the picture.

When we first brought the boys home from the hospital, we had to stop swaddling because they peed through every diaper and we literally couldn’t afford enough swaddles to get us through two days of laundry. Their sleepers were affectionately referred to as peepers, and we changed crib sheets two-three times A DAY. For each kid.

We tried Every.Single.Brand of diaper. Every brand. Every size. We had the best luck with Huggies, and I can safely say that if someone buys you Babies R Us store brand diapers you should reconsider your friendship. I heard many moms talk about blowouts – these were POOPSPLOSIONS.

In my struggle to find a fix, women would tell me about how they once had a blowout so bad, they had to cut the onesie off. One, I try not to wield scissors when there is one of me and two of them. Bad ratio. And two, if
I cut off every outfit they blew through, my kids would be naked all of the time (instead of just 99% of the time. TG for SoCal weather.)

This brings me to the day I was at home, alone, with two babies blissfully sleeping, scrubbing poop out of a pile of clothing for the fifth time that week. A lightbulb went off, and I thought, “If I’m going to be elbow deep in filth every night, I might as well spend all my money have my kids look cute and fluffy save the environment while I’m at it.

And that, my friends, is how my obsession began.