Tuesday, April 24, 2012

{Ashley's Baby Shower}
Hosted by Megan Crawford & Giny Dial

I had the privilege to host yet another "Shocco" baby shower at my house. In the past 15 months, we have had 9 pregnancies at the place where I work...myself included! Shocco is booming with babies & it seems like we have another baby shower every couple months. 

This time it was for my friend, Ashley Bobo. She & her husband, Brandon are expecting their first little one.  A baby girl 
{Karlie Addison} 
is scheduled to arrive sometime next month. 

My good friend Giny & I got together & made the plans for this shower. We also had a ton of help from our friends...Emily Powell who went shopping with me & helped me get set up the actual day of the shower (in between our babies crying, needing fed, put down for naps, injuries...yes you read right..she was a huge help even if she went home with bruises! it brought a new meaning to "blood, sweat & tears" but we made it!! haha)
Debbie Butler made the amazing & delicious cake, complete with matching colors for the shower & even these CUTE pacifier mints that everyone just loved! 
Darlo Hartdegen, Kathy Ryan, Lauren Cowart, Giny Dial, & myself also completed the menu & brought all the food. It was all delicious & we had plenty! 

It is always so fun when a new baby is on its way, but celebrating the new family with the showering of gifts during a baby shower is a special time where everyone can be involved. Since Ashley is due in May, I decided to use the phrase 
{April Showers bring May flowers} 
as our theme.

Here are SEVERAL pictures of the evening...we can't wait to meet little Karlie in just a few more weeks!

My living room

The favors & cute flowers from Debbie Butler

Baby banner I made

Theme: April Showers bring May flowers

Advice cards for the mommy to be

Food table

Tissue Pom-Poms

"Thanks for dropping by" rain cloud favors with Hershey drops & raspberry MnM's (pink & brown)

beautiful cake made by Debbie Butler

delicious food everyone brought!

Pink lemonade with floating strawberries

Some of the guests

Debbie & Greyson

Ashley & her mom 

Elizabeth holding Jace =)


Ashley & I

Ashley & her mom

Emily & her little boy, Jace

Darlo put Greyson to sleep

How cute is this!! =)

It was a fun shower to help host & decorate for...looking forward to Karlie's arrival!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy Easter!

{Easter 2012}

This Easter was very special. I wonder why! =)

We had a wonderful service at church...knowing that Jesus died on the cross for me & then 3 days later ROSE from the DEAD! I am so glad that I serve a risen Savior who is alive & coming again very soon. What a day that will be! A few weeks before Easter Sunday, our church formed a small choir that Matt & I were able to be a part of. It was nice to sing a song about what Jesus had done for us during a special part of our service. 
Afterwards, we went to Gmama & Gdaddy's for dinner. We took a few pictures of our family all dressed up! Greyson got his first 2 Easter baskets from Nana & Grampa, & from Gigi & G'pa. We will get him one next year from us, but for now, we figured that was all he needed! =) 

Here are the pictures from our day...

Easter Basket from Nana & Grampa

Easter PJ's from Nana (bought when we were in FL)

 Our Family!
Greyson with his Easter Basket from Gigi & G'pa

 with Gigi & G'pa
We caught the Easter Bunny!

 Playing with Gdaddy 

Our Easter baskets from Gigi & G'pa

Sunday night in his outfit from Nana =) 

Hope everyone had a very Happy Easter!! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Growing babies

As a new mom, I'm all in tune to what other moms have done with their babies & what is best for mine. 
I read tons of blogs & have gotten great ideas that I have done or plan to do with Greyson.

I get asked all the time about some of the few things I've already done & thought I would share my "2 cents" about these choices for "growing my baby" =)

In the hospital one of the first things the nurses asked was if I was planning to breastfeed. It's the perfect time to get all the help you can from the lactation consultants that work there, so that was a huge help! 
I have friends who were not able to breastfeed because they did not make enough milk or any at all. Some have chosen not to either for their own personal reasons. It can also be frustrating & hard! 

For me, I felt like this was the best thing for my baby. I wasn't really thinking of the bond I would have while breastfeeding but thought more along the lines of the nutrients & good health he would have because of it, but it has also become a special time for me to be with my baby & nursing gives us some quiet time just to spend together.
At first, Greyson had NO trouble latching on...he was a hungry little sucker & I had bruised areas where he had been latched. I didn't know that was a big deal until one of the nurses noticed & brought me a nipple shield. It wasn't that it hurt right away so I didn't think anything about it. 
A couple times in the night, Greyson would be SO hungry that he could not latch & would just scream & cry. Matt & I would spend a good 30 minutes trying to feed the poor little thing. Thankfully, the nurses & lactation consultant gave me a few tricks & it worked! In fact, he got so much colostrum that he ended up getting a bit jaundice & had to supplement with formula. 
That helped him get a few more vitamins to help even things out but he was only fed about 8 ounces over the course of 2 days & the jaundice went away.
It WAS painful to breastfeed the more feedings we had. Even with the nipple shield it was still hard, but not nearly as bad. I took one with me everywhere I went & even went back to the hospital & got a 2nd one to keep on my nightstand. You can buy them in the store, but if you just ask, you can get them for free! =) I actually used the shields for the first 2.5 months...it was just easier & I had NO pain during feedings. I tried a few times to nurse w/o them & it was tolerable but I kept going back to that shield. I had made my peace that I would just always have to use one, but after awhile I got brave enough to go without. Now, I am exclusively nursing w/o a shield & have had no problems...yes he is getting a little more interested in things AROUND him so THAT part can be a little painful especially when he whips his head back & forth! haha but overall it has been great!
Greyson gained 3 pounds with in the first 3 weeks of his birth & continues to gain quite rapidly. According to my pediatrician, breastfed babies tend to gain a lot more in the early months then taper off by their first birthday. Formula fed babies gain well right along but mostly start gaining more by 1 yr of age. Also, breast milk may be the best thing for baby, but formula has tons of vitamins added that breast milk doesn't have. Because of this, I have to give Greyson a liquid vitamin everyday with Iron & other vitamins so that he will have good, strong teeth coming in soon =)

Just look at those chubby cheeks! 
Greyson was 1 month old in the photo below, & weighed in around 10 pounds!! 

{Bottle feeding}
My main goal for Greyson, was to have him on breast milk exclusively. Because of the formula he had to have in the hospital, he was introduced to the a bottle quite early. Maybe that's why I have been blessed with a baby that can alternate between nursing & bottle feeding...but I know it doesn't happen with all babies! You'll just have to try it to find out...

I am not totally opposed to nursing in public...I've had to do it occasionally myself, but I usually sit in the car or somewhere secluded with a nursing cover & am not out in the open. I am not offended when I see moms nursing, but for ME I am not that comfortable. Usually I am not in a situation where I am able to nurse, SO my alternate approach for Greyson to still get breast milk & be out in public was to bottle feed. It is so convenient & allows us to go shopping, to church & out to eat, etc. by just popping a bottle in his mouth when he gets hungry. Of course, to do this you have to get your milk by...pumping! Yes, there are times you feel like a milked cow...but it's totally worth it because not only can you feed him anywhere, but anyONE can feed him too! 

I bought the Advent pumping system from Target. Thanks to several gift cards & a coupon for 20% off, I barely had to pay anything for it. Most GOOD pumps range from $100-400...mine was in the $200 bracket. It is comfortable, compact & easy to maneuver. One of the best things about this one, is that it has a hand pump that attaches to one bottle, then a single suction piece that connects to the other. With the hand pump, you can manually choose the "speed" you want the suction to be...once you are comfortable, all it takes is the press of a button & that speed is locked in & continues pumping until you are finished. It is a whole new experience seeing milk filling up bottles...but at the same time gives a VERY satisfying feeling that I am making food for my baby...it makes you be VERY careful to save every drop as much as you can & brings a whole new meaning to-- crying over spilled milk!!

I have friends who were not able to continue nursing but have exclusively pumped for their baby & were still able to feed them breast milk with out actually nursing. My friend Emily is one of my "go to moms" who helped me learn all about storing & freezing milk. Building up a stash & labeling everything, helps me have milk for any occasion & allows me to go back to work knowing that my sitters are still feeding Greyson my milk.

I also use Dr. Browns brand of bottles in the 4-8 ounce sizes. They have the little blue straw like piece in the center. It's supposed to help with gas, colic & bubbles that babies can get from bottles, BUT I really haven't noticed if that works or not. In my opinion, he probably has the same amount of gas issues that any other baby his age has! 

Uncle Brandon helping out with a feeding, during a shopping trip on vacation =)

As for solids, we haven't gotten to that point yet, but I am already planning ahead to that moment. Everything I read says that you can start giving your baby food between 4-6 months but my pediatrician has recommended waiting closer to 6 months since he is growing so well & breast milk is all he needs. I am fine with waiting...bottles are so much easier right now so I can definitely wait for this! =)

Right now he is not really interested in OUR food (with the exception of ice cream...our friends babysat him one time & said he was really eyeing it with every bite they took!) SO I am looking for any cue that he may have that tells me he is ready for solid food. 

When the time comes, I plan to make a lot of my own baby food. I'm sure I will buy some here & there, but lots of my friends have gone the natural way & we are already planning baby food making days together =) I am glad my friend Emily is already doing this so she can help me get started. I'll share our experience with solids someday =)

{Cloth Diapering}

Yes, I jumped on the band wagon of the cloth diaper route =) This is probably the one thing that I get asked about the most.

I came across a GREAT blog called: www.younghouselove.com 
They had great tips on everything you could think of...I would recommend going to their site & searching the post about cloth diapers. 

The main reasons we decided to take on the "challenge" was because: 
1. Its a money saver
2. Better on babies bottom- no diaper rash...etc.
3. Great just to have on hand when you run out of disposables 
4. Work as "swim" pants (just in case you happen to need that)
5. Durable through multiple children
6. Last longer between changes
7. CUTE to boot!

One piece of advice...don't knock it till you've tried it! 
I've heard it all...it won't last, that's disgusting, who wants to clean dirty diapers, BACK in MY day....etc etc. etc. There was a time when cloth diapers consisted of flat cloth diapers that had to be wrapped around a baby, pinned with actual PINS & then covered with water proof pants that still leaked. Sounds fun...but funny how our mothers still all tried it with us!! 
There were disposable diapers back in the 80's right?? I guess in some cases that may have been all there was!! 

Anyway, THESE days lets just say...things have changed! When I saw the kind of cloth diapers they have now, I was actually excited! I would just like to point out that I did not jump into this UNTIL my husband was on board. He read the stats, all the good things that come from it & said to go for it...so we did.

 First of all, you can get all different kinds...Here's what I have--
I went with pretty much everything from the blog I read. 
The brand is Bum Genius...I got a 12 pack in assorted "boy" colors with the snaps & in the elemental version which means NO inserts. Everything is compact...there are little separated cloths in the middle that attach to the front & back. Those layers of cloth help with the absorption.  Multiple snaps help with sizing...snap as far as you need to fit around baby's waist & even snaps that let out to make the diaper bigger as baby grows! It can fit sizes up through 2 years old...lets just hope Greyson is potty trained by then =)) then of course as I mentioned, you can keep them to use for the next child.
I would say this kind of diaper is an investment...they aren't really cheap, but they aren't totally out of your budget either. With all the money you spend in getting disposables, you would be able to buy these compared to just 3-4 trips to the store! 

The ONLY thing I wish you could do with these kind of cloth dipes, is to be able to throw them in the dryer. Because of the waterproof material that's used, you have to line dry. It's really not that bad since the sun is amazing at bleaching out any stains left from the washer, but in the winter you pretty much have to use a drying rack or in my case, lay them in front of our bay windows =) 

I had decided that I was NOT going to use cloth diapers exclusively. I mean so far you know I'm all about convenience & using these outside the home was not really an option especially since I didn't want to carry a dirty cloth dipe around when we were out & about...plus it's just so much easier for my baby sitters to use disposables. Because of this decision, I still have to buy dipes every so often. Granted I get more use out of the cloth when I'm at home, but to save money on disposables, I use coupons that come in the mail or order them online from diapers.com-- they usually run specials or have sales & I usually try to only order when I can get free shipping. 

 The first 7 weeks was spent in disposables & I had actually decided that we wouldn't use the cloth until we started solids (I dont' know why I thought that would be better). Anyway, I was not blessed with TONS of diapers at my baby showers so we had already had to buy 2 packs of diapers right off the bat & those things were not cheap.  I actually ran out of disposables & since I already had the cloth, I jumped right into it. After using them a few times, I wish I had done it sooner! Lets get into the nitty gritty shall we??

Breast milk poop is a breeze oK? I know you wanted to know that huh...but for the most part it juts runs right off the diaper! Disposables are great because you can throw them away...but the not so great things about them is that: 
1. Greyson got MAJOR diaper rash the first week in them & I was constantly applying rash cream & changing him every 2 seconds...the diaper rash never cleared up no matter what I did
2. Blowouts...sometimes there was more poop on his clothes than in the diaper! 
3. Leaking...
4. Used up so fast & I would run out
5. Of course the obvious...their not good for the environment! haha (I just had to say that...even though I still use them! lol )

Once I started using cloth, the diaper rash quickly cleared up! You can't use rash creams with these dipes anyway so I know it wasn't the cream that did it. Then I figured I was having to rinse/clean & soak his clothes anyway because of all the blowouts so might as well be an actual diaper rather than his clothes! In fact, today I did a big load of cloth dipes & only had one left so I thought I'd "save" it until I really needed it while the others are hanging out to dry...WELL I needed it!! For some reason, Greyson was in blowout mode today & after 2 outfit changes, I decided that in order for #3 to stay clean, I needed to use that last cloth diaper...no more blowouts for me today! 
Obviously there are blowouts & by that I mean..comes out the back or top, but we have experienced leaking (meaning that the dirty actually comes THROUGH the diaper ) & that only happens if he does a really big deed in his pants...I mean sometimes its just inevitable that a diaper can only hold so much...but thankfully with cloth...you don't have that kind of problem & I'll touch on that a little later.

My cleaning method is pretty simple but unlike the blog I do take a few extra steps. The diaper directions say to do a cold wash then a hot cycle & 2 rinses to clean them in the washer. The only way that saves us money is because we have an energy efficient washer that weighs each load & only uses the amount of water for that load... I consider my cold wash the part when I rinse them out in my bathroom sink (I know you probably think thats disgusting, but I have a method & unlike another blog I read where the girl actually used her kitchen sink sprayer...I thought using the bathroom was better..LOL) if you have a utility sink or even a toilet would work too. My friend Emily decided to try these out when I shared the blog with her & she got the nifty little sprayer that you attach to the toilet. That's next on my "to get" list =)

When I have to scrub out clothes or soak them, I have to use the bathroom sink & I always use Shout spray to scrub them. SO I use the same method...as I rinse out the cloth diaper I spray lots of shout on it & scrub most of the dirtiness out...even with just wet dipes, I give them a quick spray & rinse. Thus concludes my "cold" cycle. I throw the wet, pre-washed dipes into a Wet Bag & when it's full, I'll do the whole load with the Wet Bag included. I usually try to wash them when I have 2-4 cloth dipes left, but sometimes I end up using them all before a wash...disposables are used at home only when the cloth are in the washer or drying. After rinsing the dirty dipes in the sink, I spray the sink down with an antibacterial spray to make sure it's all nice & clean =) Hopefully after I get the sprayer, we won't have to use the sink at all.

Next, I use the baby liquid detergent called Dreft. I bought the Bum Genius cloth diaper detergent too, but you don't have to use that...I thought I would try it out & I can't say that it does a better job. Plus the Dreft makes them so much softer. Surprisingly enough my washer gets them really clean! Once in awhile I'll have a dipe that still has a light stain on it, but the sun takes that right out. You can bleach them once a month if you have to, but so far I've only done that once in the couple months that I've used them.

Overall, I really like them, Greyson likes them & Matt does too...he doesn't scrub them out or anything but he has changed them & put them in the sink to soak until I get to them. I would say that's pretty good for him being on board. =) 

A few questions I get about these is...do they leak? are they bulky? what colors do they have? have you tried inserts? 
In my experience with these, they are super absorbant. The only time I have noticed they leak is if I have them on him at night & he ends up sleeping so much that between changes, several hours have gone by & if he has wet in them quite a bit. No poo has ever leaked out though & the back elastic part stops any potential blowouts from happening. =)

They are a bit bulky for some of this clothes, but the majority of his things fit over them just fine. In fact, sometimes they help things fit better. They have tons of colors...for girls, it would be a lot more fun because you can use them like part of her outfit!
I have never tried the inserts, but my friend Emily has them & I don't think it is that much different other than you have to put the inserts back in the diaper after each washing. 

So if you are thinking about cloth diapering & you don't want to do it the "old" way...give these a try!

I get asked lots of questions about baby stuff all the time...these were just a FEW of the things I thought I would share right now. If anyone had anymore questions...feel free to let me know! It's a learning experience each time I try something & it doesn't always work out, but for now, these things are sticking & I plan to keep up with these 3 through multiple children!

I'm a CEO!