Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Attempting Cloth Diapering: Pros & Cons

Cloth diapering is something I've wanted to try since before we brought Kal home. I researched it. I followed along with a friend's successful attempt at it. But there was just too much going on at that point in my life to add another challenge to it. Plus, we didn't have a washer and dryer until this year, so that was definitely needed first.

It took until March of this year - just before Kal turned 2 - before I finally got around to trying them.

For me, there were 2 big reasons why I wanted to try cloth diapering.
  1. environmental reasons - trying to live a "greener" life, not filling up landfills with who-knows-what
  2. financial reasons - they can be cheaper in the long-run if the same cloth diapers are re-used for every child in the family
I knew there'd be some disadvantages, but I thought it was worth a try. So, I went ahead and invested in my cloth diapering experiment and bought:

Posing with the stash.

Trying to juggle the dryer balls.

What's left of our disposables.

After using cloth diapers almost exclusively for about 3 months, these are my pros and cons:

PROS:
  • We throw away fewer disposable diapers. Yay for the environment!
  • We haven't had to buy anymore disposable diapers since we made the switch.
  • There are so many styles and colors that are super cute.
  • The diaper liners are super nice to just catch the poop and flush it down the toilet.
  • They (at least the FuzziBunz diapers that we've used) are really easy to wash and dry. No lingering smell and drying them in the sun removes stains. Drying them in the dryer with the wool dryer balls is so fast.
  • It's convenient to always have diapers on hand. With disposables, you can run out and have to make an emergency trip to the store. With cloth, you always have that backup.
CONS:
  • My child pees like a racehorse. The diapers can leak and the ammonia smell can get horrid if he's not changed regularly (much more than with disposable diapers). The diapers are sprayed down with an odor eliminator and then quarantined in the laundry room immediately.
  • Along with having to change him regularly, if I don't... he gets a rash.
  • So far we haven't been able to keep them from leaking at night and have had to use up the rest of our stash of disposables for night time.
  • They seem a little small for him, even though he's still in the weight range. I've heard they're big on newborns and from my experience they seem small on a toddler, so maybe the one-size-fits-all deal isn't perfect. There are various sizes of cloth diapers that we might try.
  • The flushable diaper liners are nice, but does nothing for out-of-control diarrhea explosions. Diarrhea plus cloth diapers is the absolute worst.
  • I am clumsy with the toilet sprayer and usually end up getting water everywhere, including all over me, while just trying to give a diaper a gentle spray down. Nothing like splattered poop water in your face. :)
  • When we're on-the-go, changing cloth diapers gets yucky. We usually tie the dirty diapers up in a plastic bag, throw them in the diaper bag, and deal with them when we get home.
Despite the cons, we are still using them. And plan to with Baby #2. Kal should be potty-trained not long after baby gets here (hopefully). It might take him another few months. But with the new baby, I'll get a better idea of how cloth diapers work with an infant. Infant poo is much more innocent than toddler poo, so it may be easier. Ha ha. I think the longer we do it, the more we'll adjust and the easier it'll be. I think it's worth it.

Kal was running around in his diaper this morning so I said, "Kal! Get up against the wall so mama can take a picture of you in your diaper." And this is what he did. Ha ha ha! I said, "Perrrfect." And he waited to hear the click and then ran to see the picture. That's my boy! :)


Since I'm a newbie at this, if you have any cloth diapering tips let me know!




Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Paper Pregnant": Doesn't Feel Real Yet



I am loving this weather! The winter sucked. But now the sun and the heat are making me so, so happy! Most of the day we play outside until Kal is completely worn out. I am attempting to start a vegetable garden. I love having a yard to just putter around in.

Everything seems to be going smoothly (as in, uneventfully) with this adoption situation... so far.

There hasn't been any going-back-and-forth, wondering if the birthmom is going to change her mind or not. She actually picked us pretty fast, with no hesitation. There are no big issues with the birthfather situation, although I don't think parental rights have been relinquished quite yet. D was the one and only expectant parent we've even talked to this time around, so I don't feel my heart being pulled in several different directions like last time. We were chosen with enough time to prepare, so it hasn't been a mad dash to get everything together. We're pretty much prepared and ready to go.

It almost seems too good to be true.

And it also doesn't seem real to me at all. It hasn't sunk in yet.

Even with talking to D... she's definitely much more reserved than I'm used to, and I honestly don't know how well we'll get to know her beforehand. Last time, meeting birthmoms was like this deep, emotional, soul-searching interaction with someone. I am so open and so in-your-face and so emotional. This time, a wall is already put up between us and her, and I'm not quite sure how to handle that just yet. It definitely makes things feel a little unreal. We don't even know what D looks like. No Facebook chatting. Long stretches between emails. It's just... different.

Bonding with the birthmom is kind of how I handled adoption last time. Kal's birthmom K is family to me. I have the utmost respect for her. Her family is family to me. I treasured each and every email and text and phone call as we were getting to know her. Meeting her was so, so, so great. Visiting with her and her family after Kal was born and since then... has always been beautiful. Slightly nerve-wracking, but that has lessened with time... and always beautiful.

Even saying all this out loud, writing it down, talking with friends, hiring our lawyer (who I like way better than our previous lawyer), coordinating things with the caseworkers, finding a photographer (I want to be in the pictures, not have the camera around my neck the whole time!), and prepping for the baby... none of it feels real. Like at any moment, we could just hear "psych!" and it all be a joke. "Just kidding!" And life would just go on as it has been. I'm sure it's the distance, and not meeting D yet. I'm hoping we can get there early and have a chance to meet her beforehand. Maybe go out to eat. Because I don't know how much awkwardness I can handle... like, meeting someone while they're pushing a baby out? Uhhhhhh.....

Back to the not-feeling-real thing... There's just something about adoption that's just... not quite a pregnancy. Not that it's second-best or not as good as "having my own children." You know I would never in a million years feel that way about adoption! It's just that there's a distance there. I don't have the physical evidence growing inside me and popping out for the world to see. That's D's privilege, not mine. I don't even really know the woman who says she will trust me to be a mother to her son. So, there's a disconnect. I know that it'll all wash away as soon as we see her and we step through those hospital doors, but for now... are you sure this isn't a joke? :)




Thursday, May 23, 2013

Let's Connect!

I'm trying to be social media savvy, although I definitely have my favorites (Facebook, and now Instagram). I've pretty much successfully avoided Pinterest so far, because I have too many time-suckers as it is! But I'm learning to cook and be crafty these days, so I'm gonna have to give in sooner rather than later! So, let's have a social media party! If you have a blog, let me know in the comments. Also, if you're hoping to adopt and have an online profile or blog, send me a message and I'll link to it. :)

Follow me here:


Follow on Bloglovin




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Making Room for Baby!

As soon as we heard we were chosen to be the parents of a sweet little baby boy from the South, it only made sense to go celebrate at Popeye's, right? Ha ha. They just opened one in Lehi, Utah. And DANGIT, it had to open just when I was doing well trying to be vegetarian! Ahhhh! Mmmmmm, Louisiana cookin'...


Then, because I'm a nerd - and because people asked did it take longer to get chosen this time than the first time we adopted - I calculated it down to the day. It took 94 days from finishing paperwork/approval until we were matched with Kal's birthmom. This time, it took 100 days. So, about the same! A friend told me we make adoption look easy. Ummmm, yay? Ha ha. It's not easy, yall. And I totally just feel really lucky/blessed!

So, Baby #2 is due at the beginning of July. Birthmom D thinks he'll come earlier than that, so we're trying to plan when we want to head down and get comfy in a hotel. This time we won't have any family around to help during the actual adoption - we don't know anyone in Louisiana - but I think we'll figure everything out on our own this time around. We've got experience now. Also, we will most likely get to be at the hospital to support D through the whole thing (I don't think she'll have any family there to support her), so hopefully things go well and smoothly and we'll get to do that! Because of course I'd love to be there for everything. I wouldn't want to miss a second of it.

We've re-instated the epic battle of choosing a baby name and it's getting interesting, ha ha. One of us doesn't want to compromise (*cough* ZAY *cough*), so who knows what this poor child will end up being named. Lol. It would be nice if we could settle on a name so that we can get on to other important things to do, but we're bumping heads about it right now. Something about it being so final and so much a part of who someone is (my name is me, in a way) makes us want to get it perfect. But perfection is in the eye of the beholder... and the more I repeat a name, the more it blurs together and doesn't even sound like a name anymore. Ha ha. I have a list of almost 200 baby boy names that I at least kind of like and Zay doesn't like any of them enough to say "yes" to. Oh, boy. The battle rages on.

I don't plan on having a baby shower this time, but I'm thinking maybe we'll have a "Welcome Home, Baby!" party when he gets here and we're settled in (because he deserves to be celebrated - a little miracle baby!). Not for gifts, but for everyone to get to meet him. :) I'm not even sure what we are lacking, anyway. After the first time when I worried about having everything, this time I feel like babies really don't need that much. A place to sleep, check. Bottles, check. Formula, check. Diapers, check. We've got tons of hand-me-down clothes for a boy (from Kal and my nephew Evander). Seriously, what does a new baby even need? I think we're good to go!

I've been prepping Kal for having a new baby brother by excitedly pointing out every baby we see and trying to teach him to be nice and soft and gentle with his friends who are younger than him. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I even googled newborn pictures for him to show him how cute little babies are and how it's exciting that we're gonna have one. He nods and smiles and says yes, he wants a baby. In my mind I keep imagining that he'll want to poke the baby, ha ha. But I really hope he'll adjust well and want to be my little helper. We shall see. :)







Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mother's Day Weekend 2013

Saturday morning, Kal and I went to the Celebrate Adoption Walk that is put on by Families Supporting Adoption every year. We released balloons in honor of Kal's birthmom K and new expectant mom D.







It was way too hot and sunny and Kal got grumpy, but I got to meet an amazing birth mother who placed a baby 14 years ago and got to know her and her story a little bit. She was so fun and we exchanged numbers to get together for lunch sometime.

I also got to see our caseworker from Kal's adoption and catch up with her. She said she knew we'd get picked fast, but to not tell other hopeful adoptive parents how quickly it actually happened for us. It's a sensitive subject. I hope my fellow adoptive parent friends don't feel any negativity towards us for getting chosen fairly quickly - that would break my heart. I hope we're all cheering each other on, not thinking it's a competition... because it's really not. And I can't really say with 100% certainty that this situation will work out in our favor anyway... we shall see.

Our current caseworker was there as well and we talked and went over all the details we knew up to this point about how this adoption situation is supposedly going to play out. One bizarre turn of events is that Louisiana's LDS Family Services doesn't actually keep a full adoption staff, so this will actually end up being a private adoption where lawyers will step in near the end of the process in place of caseworkers. Interesting. I think their office in Louisiana just doesn't handle as many adoptions as in other states, so they facilitate them when they come up and pass them off to a lawyer, but they don't keep a staff of adoption-specific caseworkers. I'm slightly confused about how it will work, but so far it seems like the caseworkers involved will be doing the majority of the prep work anyway, so we won't be left hanging without knowing how to finalize things. We may not have to pay the agency's placement fee though... so, we'll see if it ends up being a less expensive process! That would be amazing. Plus, I found out Zay's job will reimburse a chunk of the adoption expenses as well, so this could potentially go really smoothly for us financially... with all the benefits of going through LDS Family Services as our agency. What a blessing that would be!!

After the adoption walk, Kal and I came home. I put him down for a nap and then had one hair appointment to do. Then I woke Kal up with an excited, "Let's go get Daddy from work!" and we picked Zay up and headed to a friend's BBQ. Our buddy Cam is leaving soon to serve a mission for the LDS Church, so we definitely needed to party! Kal had a blast with Cam's sisters and the other little kids there. He even got over his fear of trampolines! We shot basketball and ate way too much food and talked for a few hours. It was nice. :) There are a few families who have kind of taken us under their wing (as we've been in Utah without family for so long), and this is one of them. They're great. :)











At the BBQ, Zay had me open my Mother's Day gift... an awesome new camera and lens! With Baby #2 coming, I'm definitely gonna use this!! Ha ha.


Sunday was a beautiful day. We got up for Church and I sang in the choir! We did a very pretty arrangement of "The Morning Breaks." I love singing alto and I love being part of a choir. It takes me back to my high school days and reminds me of my silly childhood dream of being a professional singer. It's a dorky church choir (ha ha), but in my head I'm a superstar for a second! Lol!

Okay, so that just reminded me of a funny story. When I was graduating from BYU and I was standing in line to receive my diploma at the ceremonies, I suddenly got very nervous and was afraid to walk across the stage, afraid I'd fall or pass out or something. So I took a few deep breaths and told myself to pretend that I was performing on American Idol and that this was my big break. Lol. So I held my head high and smiled really big, walked across that stage, and pretended everyone was cheering for me. And I didn't fall and I had the biggest grin on my face when I accepted that diploma. Ha ha ha. I'm such a dork!

We left Church early after they passed out huge Symphony chocolate bars to all the ladies for Mother's Day. Then we hustled over to our friends' baby blessings! Kim & Curtis were having their triplets blessed on Mother's Day and I just thought that was beyond beautiful. I tried not to cry hearing the blessings of those sweet little miracles. They are so healthy and strong to be born at not-quite 33 weeks. I asked Kim could she imagine if someone had told her last Mother's Day that she'd have 3 babies in a year? She'd have thought they were out of their minds! Pre-baby Mother's Days can be hard, I know. They had a luncheon after Church where we got to meet more of their family. It was great. :)

Then we headed over to the park that we take pictures at every Mother's Day. It was too exciting of a day for Kal, so he wasn't smiley in the pictures and just wanted to get home and nap. But that's okay, we went straight home afterwards to get him to bed. I'm loving taking pictures with him each year and seeing how much he has grown. Hopefully next year I'll have two little knuckleheads to pose with!







Kal's Superman pose. Getting ready to fly...

Take off!





Monday, May 13, 2013

"Too Hurt to Stay": Book Review


"Too Hurt to Stay" by Casey Watson


For a couple years now I've been researching foster care as an option for our family in the future.

I believe in the work that needs to be done. I see the need in a world where families are crumbling and children aren't always parented, disciplined, loved, and shown attention like they should be. They don't ask to be here and are sometimes dragged through the mess that is their parents' lives just because they were unlucky enough to be born into a less than desirable situation.

Looking forward, I think it will be quite awhile before we are in a position to become foster parents, but in the meantime I'm glad that it's a seed planted in our hearts for later on. It's something we will come back to when the time is right - when we own a home with sufficient space, when we're done with school and traveling, when we've had more parenting experience under our belts, etc.

I've read everything I can get my hands on about adoption and foster care. Recently I was given a copy of the book "Too Hurt to Stay" by Casey Watson, a novel based on the author and her husband's experiences as specialist foster care givers (they provide a home for extreme cases and guide the children through a behavioral program to get them back on the right course). It. was. heartbreaking. My "mother heart" is much more sensitive when it comes to children nowadays, and this true story touched on some really scary subjects when it comes to the neglect and abuse of children. I cried.

First, I want to note that stories like these could really turn someone off to fostering. Horror stories are the ones people hear about and why many people would never even consider fostering children. Because foster kids are troubled, bad, terrible, disturbed, evil, or whatever, right? Not exactly. This book is about extreme cases that the couple specifically signed up for. And although horror stories happen, in general the problem is not the children - the problem is the grown-ups the children are being raised by. The bad choices of adults get children put in foster care, not the other way around - not the bad choices of children. Children only know what they're taught.

That being said, the book did a great job of touching on many topics that would come up while fostering a child. It gave an insider's perspective - all the ins and outs of social workers and psychologists and so on. It takes an army of people to give these kids what they need, because they don't come from adequate families. Family is so important!

I loved how excited and nervous Casey and her husband Mike were for little Spencer to come into their home - how they were planning to take a little break from fostering, but couldn't turn down a placement when they got the call. Even with what they'd seen so far in fostering, they had it in their heart to love these little ones. It takes a special kind of love to foster, I think. And you have to have a resilience and a patience that is beyond me right now.

Eight-year-old Spencer's case was quite interesting, to say the least. He's really what gave the book its suspense. There was an underlying debate in the story about whether or not a child could be born unstable. Nature vs Nurture. I was on edge the whole time, nervous for this poor child who had no idea what it was like to be loved or cared for, and whose future looked grim.

It was interesting to realize that you can't know what goes on behind closed doors a lot of the time. And kids really do learn from what they see you do. They don't just copy you, they learn things that get rooted deep in them based on how you behave. For example, if you lie or hide things from people, they could learn that manipulative behavior gives them control over their surroundings. In foster care, you don't know where this child is coming from and what they've already learned - good and bad. You just have to love them and know that you may never know what was actually going on at home. I loved that even the worst of Casey and Mike's foster care placements still "got under their skin" in a good way. You can't help but love a child when you know all they've felt is hurt up to that point. And when they inevitably leave your home, it's going to be bittersweet.

The book has a little foul language in it. A few outbursts that punctuated the intensity of the situation. Plus it's written in "British English," so some of the expressions I had to use context clues to figure out what they meant. I actually had a Mrs. Doubtfire voice going in my head as I read it at first (ha ha), but after the first chapter or so it kind of melted away and I got accustomed to it.

When I got to the end, I realized Casey Watson (who writes under a pseudonym, I'm sure to protect the identities of the people she writes about) had also written a few books prior to "Too Hurt to Stay," all about previous placements that she actually mentions in this book. And she's still writing more. Now I have to go back and read those too! Foster care stories are full of drama, so it only makes sense that these make great books. I'm glad she has taken the time to write her experiences as stories that we can learn from.

You can visit the author's website here: www.caseywatson.co.uk

Or follow along on her Facebook or Twitter pages.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of the book "Too Hurt To Stay" to review. All opinions are my own. :)




Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Then & Now

So, I went back and read my previous blogs about Mother's Day and it was interesting to see how it has evolved for me. First I was sad and angry but in super-research mode as we were trying to get through adoption paperwork, then in shock as I was a brand new mom and didn't have the words to express how I was feeling, then super happy after I quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom after a year of working sooo far away from my son.

Now... this Mother's Day... I'm tired. Lol. But still super happy. Actually, much much happier. :)

Mother's Day at the park

Stay-at-home mom'ing it has been quite the experience. It took some time to build up my confidence in it, to know that I was doing my best to teach Kal everything he needs to know and hit every milestone and give him enriching experiences, etc. I stretched myself too thin for awhile, scaled back and simplified, and then I finally hit my groove.

Things have been going pretty dang well for awhile now. I've gone back and forth in my mind, wondering if working outside the home is still something I want to do, but little by little I'm starting to think staying home is going to be a long-term decision. We've got a nice little routine most days that we keep flexible in case something fun, different, or new comes up. Then we throw the routine out the window and do whatever until things settle down again and we get back to routine. Things are just too fun right now and I don't want to mess it up by tying myself down to a job. Can't believe I'd ever think that way, but I'm starting to!

Why would I want to spend 8 hours a day away from this fella??

Over time as a stay-at-home mom, I've learned to focus on my strengths and allow Zay to balance me out with the things I'm not that great at. Women beat themselves up all the time about what they can't do perfectly, but I have decided... let it be known... I HAVE DECIDED that I'm not gonna beat myself up about not being able to be perfect in every single area of life. Once that thought clicked in my mind and I said out loud that I'VE DECIDED, suddenly the perfectionist in me gave way and a new woman was born - a woman who can suddenly do lots of things pretty dang good because she's not caught up on doing everything one-at-a-time and perfectly. Or not doing things at all because she's too insecure to start. SCREW THAT. Life is too short.

I do get tired. There are so many things I want to do and allocating my time is trickier than it used to be. But mostly my tiredness comes from forgetting to take "me time" regularly. When I'm extra tired or feeling anxious, normally it's because I have (again) forgotten to take some time for myself and have been giving, giving, giving and not recharging my batteries ("story of my life" for most moms out there, huh?).

One way I make sure that I get "me time" is that I schedule it, put it on the calendar, tell Zay I'm gonna be gone, and then I take off. Ha ha. This year, I've been doing things that I used to love, but have let fall to the side over the years - reading (joined a book club), sports (get together with some girls to play basketball and volleyball), singing (joined our church choir).

I'm also serving in the church women's organization as the secretary (I like organizing things, so I think I'm gonna be good at it). And I'm in the beginning stages of starting a small business with my best friend, so I get to hang out with her sometimes all day and put all my good business sense to use! I am feeling very fulfilled right now. :) The old me would be overwhelmed, the new me is learning to balance and sacrifice and prioritize and forget about what other people are doing and JUST DO ME. :)

My business partner and friend. She's nuts. :)

Infertility feels like a thing of the past. Not a concern at all. I feel like it made me a better mother than I would have been otherwise, it helped me find a passion in adopting, and it is just something I don't think about anymore. Boom, gone. Just like that. Good riddance. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything anymore. I have vicariously had many, many babies through all my awesome friends and their amazing birth stories. Lol. I have officially moved on and Mother's Day means something completely different to me now. Adoption has healed me.

Life is good, yall!




Friday, May 3, 2013

Kal's Going to be a Big Brother!

I can't tell you how much it melts my heart to think of my little Kal-El having a little baby brother to fawn over. Cute overload. Heart can't handle it!

I hope he's protective, rather than jealous. When I ask him if he wants a baby, he enthusiastically nods his head "yes." And I've begun pointing out babies to him so that he really understands what he's saying "yes" to, ha ha. He gets fascinated. I think he thinks a baby will be a new toy for him, kind of like the cats or his toy robot - but better. He's gonna be a great big brother. :)



Zay's had a few serious talks with him about how we are planning to bring a baby home soon.

A friend brought her brand new 2-week-old baby over and I told Kal to be "soft and gentle and nice," because that's what I tell him when he is petting the cat too hard and he'll listen to me and try to be softer. So he whacked the baby softly on the head once and was so proud of himself for petting the baby well. Ha ha ha.

Suddenly, I feel like I have newborn amnesia - I can't remember hardly anything about having a newborn. It's like nature has wiped that from my brain, erased all the memories of stress and lack of sleep, so that I'm tricked into wanting a baby again. Heh, Mother Nature knows what she's doing!

 
I'm wondering if it all comes back to me when I hold a newborn again? Will I be more of "a natural" this time around, because I've done it once before?

Kal was so teeny tiny - aww! - looking at newborn pictures of him is just so crazy to me. He's changed so much.



This is gonna be a new crazy chapter in our lives. And technically there's a lot of time left for it to not work out, BUT that's not gonna stop me for celebrating a new baby's arrival anyway. :)




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