“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!

Holiday Reflection + Bonus Crafts (Daily December #6)

Craft pic

Today’s challenge was “Holiday Reflection,” which probably means I should have photographed a reflection of some sort. But my previous blogs have already highlighted my lack of photographic prowess. Instead I thought would offer an actual reflection on the upcoming holiday. Our house has been decorated, our tree is plugged in, the stockings are taped to the wall- And yet, for some reason, it doesn’t really FEEL like Christmas.

I’ve always associated certain things with getting into the holiday spirit – Christmas music on the radio, baking Christmas cookies, going to an overcrowded mall, going ice-skating, decorating the house, wearing Christmas socks and earrings, watching Christmas movies. But life is difficult with twins, and even more so when you are a family with one car and two full-time working parents. Somehow it doesn’t feel quite as Christmassy to watch Love, Actually alone – and it’s really frowned upon to drink spiked hot cocoa alone. Especially on school nights. My knee-high Christmas socks don’t fit my post-partum calves (yes, my calves grew; no, you don’t get to judge me.) I put Christmas music on for my morning commute, but it’s drowned out by the voices in my head: “Crap, why didn’t I set my alarm earlier. If I hit another red light I won’t have time to put on mascara before the first bell. Shit, I think I forgot to turn in my attendance. And what I am doing period 3? Did I make copies?”

I wouldn’t say I feel Grinchy, but I’m definitely feeling apathetic. To counteract this, my husband and I have really been working on trying to pull in some Christmas spirit where we can. I did manage to make two Pinterest crafts, which is an epic feat with toddlers, let me tell you (instructions below). And those little acts brightened up my mood! Which made me realize – the Christmas season, like life, is about faking it until you make it. So I might need bigger Christmas socks, and I might need to play the music louder in the AM. And I’m probably going to drink my spiked cocoa alone; no one call the authorities.
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Simple Christmas Wreaths

Materials:
Super cheap paper plates
Paintbrushes
Construction paper
Washable red and green paint*
Sharpie
Toddlers
High chairs
Patience

Instructions:
1. Put children in high chairs wearing only their diapers (and not your favorite BG artist print; this is going to get messy).
2. Give one child a piece of construction paper with a glob of paint on it.
3. Show him how to swirl the paint around with a brush.
4. Give him the paintbrush.
5. DO NOT become alarmed when he eats the paint and the brush. It’s non-toxic. (*You DID buy non-toxic paint, right?)
6. Paint the hand of the other child green.
7. Stamp his hand repeatedly on a paper plate.
8. Switch kids.
9. Repeat.
10. Paint perfect little holly berries and a ribbon with red paint while your children create masterpieces on their construction paper/high chair tray/face/hair.
11. Bath time!
12. When wreaths are dry, write their name and the year to prove that you had some modicum of sanity in the early years.

Greyson craft

sawyer craft

Voila!

Salt Dough Ornaments

You might have seen this on Pinterest as a way to create salt dough Santas. That’s all well and good, but sometimes you buy clearance paint and it doesn’t come with the color white, and then you can’t paint Santa because his BEARD IS WHITE and so you tell yourself that your ornaments are authentic. Really. Very. Authentic.

Materials:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
Straw
Rolling Pin (unless you want yours to look like mine.)

Instructions:
1.Mix flour, salt, and water together to create a dough.
2.Break into balls; flatten with your hands.
3. Roll out with a rolling pin. **Skip this step if you like “authentic” ornaments**
4. Locate your toddlers in the hall closet, where they are making vacuum noises and playing with “no-no” items.
5. Convince them to make a handprint on your freshly rolled dough.
6. Poke a hole with the straw so a ribbon can be threaded through.
7. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for around three hours.
salt dough ornaments

Smelling the roses

In case you couldn’t tell from my recent blog posts, life is overwhelming right now. I’m struggling to find my rhythm, and I’m frustrated that there aren’t more hours in the day. The honeymoon is OVER with my students, so I am dealing with defiant teenagers all day, and then I come home to toddler twins. They are delightful, and they are exhausting, and I am exhausted.

I’m trying to focus on enjoying them, though. It’s hard to always be in the moment, but lately I have made a conscious effort to try and it has been rewarding. I occasionally go through Facebook withdrawals, but it’s worth it to read my boys their favorite book five times. Because – they have a favorite book! I mean, that’s mind-blowing. They actually have a couple favorites – literary blockbusters such as Bubbles, Bubbles; Nighty-Night; The Belly Button Book, and the cream of the crop – Superman Fights for Truth. I think they love that one the most because not only is it all about bananas, it features a giant BUUUUURRRPP that sends them into a fit of giggles.

The truly mind-blowing part, though, is not their excellent taste in books. It’s the fact that they are people. With preferences. And they can express those preferences. As any mom will tell you, there are months (and months and months and months) where you give everything to your littles, and you are rewarded only in tiny precious pieces of personality. A first smile. A coo. A laugh. A gesture. Little bits that you cling to; that get you through the rough times. But then you hit toddlerhood – and you get so.much.more. They turn into people! They can play with you, and point to things, and speak words or use signs. They crawl into your lap with a book they chose. They beg for a bath, because it’s part of their little routine. They do things that are human. They’re not little needy adorable blobs of goo; they’re people. They’re YOUR people. And they are amazing!

I hear a lot about toddler tantrums, and the terrible twos, and I’m not trying to take away from anyone’s struggles. They’re real. The frustrations that kiddos experience at this age are astounding in their quantity and depth. But for me, I am just so enamored with their budding personalities that I truly dwell on the bad. I spend the whole day managing teenager tantrums; I’m happy to read the same book twenty times to avoid a toddler tantrum. I don’t get much done around the house anymore because little people are sensitive and needy. But they’re also so incredibly cool. I think of toddlers as a reminder that I need to slow down, and manage my expectations. What is more important than listening to tiny incoherent babbles as my munchkin pages through a book? Why do I need to walk so fast that I can’t be bothered to hold a little hand? The answers are “nothing,”and “I don’t.” I thought teaching high school taught me patience – no. My children are doing that. Everyday. And I’m thankful.

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Balancing Act

As a mother, I really struggle with the concept of balance. How does one have enough time for kids, job, marriage, household, friends, hobbies, errands, chores, sleep? When there aren’t enough hours, what has to give? How can you avoid feeling guilty?

I really wish I had an answer to all of this, but the truth is I do the best I can each day, in each moment. There’s a lot of buzz out there on the internet about what we should be doing, but not enough about what we are doing. I am raising two beautiful children. I am teaching the youth of America. I am learning more about my husband and falling more in love with him each day. I am running a household. I am making new friends, but keeping the old – and losing some, and that’s okay. I am discovering that my favorite hobby is still reading, I just read Facebook more than I read best-sellers. I am discovering that I can survive on little sleep, but that it’s also not advisable.

Each day, I have positive moments. But for some reason, at night, I focus on what I did wrong. There is so much pressure and so much guilt. I should have had more patience with that student. I should have eaten more than just ramen for lunch. I should have sat on the floor and built block towers instead of sitting on the couch and scrolling through my newsfeed. Why is this? Why do we do this? We should reward ourselves more. We should recognize that some days giving 85% takes 100% out of you, and that’s okay, too. We are not perfect. We shouldn’t strive to be perfect. We should focus on just being.

As my family adjusts to our new reality – two full-time working parents, opposite schedules, ships passing in the night – we have to adapt. It’s a good thing, this change. It involves sacrifices, but also rewards. So my bedroom is a mess, but I get more sleep. My kids can entertain each other sometimes, and other times my needs can wait so I can entertain them. My husband and I – well, we can spend time together when the kids are in college, right? Sitting next to each other on the couch counts as a date night. And I should feel lucky we can sleep in the same bed each night – not a luxury everyone has.

On rough days, it’s hard to see the positives. They’re there, though, buried under the “shoulda, coulda, woulda, not-good-enoughs.” I have a lovely family. I am surrounded by a community of family and friends. I am lucky. Things are hard, but they are also wonderful. I can achieve balance. And on the days that I don’t, I can take a deep breath and know that there is always tomorrow.
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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.

greysonshovel

sawyerbelly