Monday, August 30, 2010

Mommy Raves

And Mommy Rave # 2 is...

Angel Baby Bottom Balm

This stuff is great. Another friend of mine from college mailed it to me when she found out we'd be using cloth diapers. Honestly, I had never even thought about not being able to use regular diaper rash cream with cloth diapers, can't. At least not without having to add Dawn dish soap to your load of diapers.

This stuff is clear (so it won't ruin your couch or carpet if you accidentally get some on something besides a baby bum). You don't need a lot of it. It's organic and toxin-free. It has a fantastic fresh smell. And I think it works better than Desitin. You can also use it to soothe scrapes, burns, cradle cap, and other kinds of rashes. It's a little more spendy than Desitin or the like, but you can get a 3-pack on Amazon, which is basically like getting 1 for free (definitely buy this stuff's a ton cheaper!). And in Lane's 7 months of life, we haven't even gone through 1 jar yet.

Angel Baby Bottom Balm
is totally worth the extra cost, at least in my opinion. I guess that maybe if you had a kid who had horrible diaper rash all the time it might get really expensive, but we haven't had that problem. Maybe because Angel Baby Bottom Balm has cleared up every diaper rash that Lane has ever had in less than 24 hours. So, for all you cloth-diapering mommas out there, I highly recommend this stuff. And for those of you who use disposables, I'd recommend you give it a try too!

Thanks, Rhonda, for introducing us to this stuff. We love it!

Earth Mama Angel Baby also has lots of other organic maternity, breastfeeding, and baby goodies. Look here to check them out!

***I feel that it is necessary to make it known that I am not receiving any monetary compensation for these reviews: I'm simply doing them for my fellow moms and moms-to-be out there.***

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mommy Raves

In light of the fact that I have several friends who are expecting babies in the next few months (not to mention a sister!), I thought I'd start a series of posts on baby products that I have loved having, can rave about, and would willingly buy again for myself or someone else. I thought about doing a "Top 10" post, but then I wouldn't feel like I could rave as much as I wanted to because of space...

So, Mommy Rave #1 is...

The itzbeen.

"The what?," I know a lot of you are thinking. I'd never heard of it either. My friend Melissa recommended it to me via link on facebook and I thought, "Yeah, right, like I need that. Just another gizmo that nobody really needs (like a diaper wipe warmer)." So I ignored her suggestion and barely even looked at the thing.

Then, a few weeks after Lane was born, guess what showed up in the mail? You guessed it, the itzbeen, from Melissa. And since that day we have used the thing nonstop. Until today. Because today Lane dropped it and it broke. I immediately thought, "Crap, what am I going to do now?" Later I'm going to take it apart and see if I can repair it, but if not...I can guarantee that we will be buying another one of these for baby #2 (when we decide that it's time for baby #2...don't get any ideas that he/she is on his/her way yet!).

So, why does the itzbeen take the first spot on my "Mommy Raves" list? It:

1) keeps track of how long it's been since you last fed the baby.
2) keeps track of how long baby has been awake or asleep.
3) has a clock so you know what the real time is too.
4) keeps track of which side you nursed on last.
5) has a flashlight that automatically turns off after 7 minutes.
6) has a backlight so you can see all the numbers in the dark.
7) has a miscellaneous timer (we'd always use this one for how long it'd been since we gave her Tylenol).
8) has a lock on it so that other children (or getting bumped around in the diaper bag) can't mess up all your times.
9) has a clip so you can clip it to your purse, belt, or whatever.
10) is battery operated, so you can take it wherever you go.

All of those are just a few of the reasons I love this thing. It's like a new brain for the sleep-deprived mom. You can pass it off to someone else and they can just look at it and know how long baby has been up or without food. You don't have to write down what time baby ate, slept, or got a diaper change. You don't have to think. It's a lifesaver for the tired mommy!

So, a big shout out and a huge THANKS! to Melissa for what was probably my most-used baby item.

***I feel that it is necessary to make it known that I am not receiving any monetary compensation for these reviews: I'm simply doing them for my fellow moms and moms-to-be out there.***

Sunday, August 22, 2010

7 Months Old

Dear Lane,

Today you turn seven months old. Happy Birthday! I must say, I am both glad and saddened by this day. Most moms realize when their baby turns 1 how bittersweet it all is, watching babies grow up. It's hit me much earlier, and while I rejoice in your new discoveries and new skills, a part of me is sad that my baby is already growing up. All that being said, you learned how to do some major stuff this month!

About three weeks ago you learned how to crawl. Two weeks ago you started crawling well. Then a week ago you learned how to pull up on things. You now crawl and scoot yourself all over the place. You pull up on the couch, on the frame of the table, and on the frames of chairs. However, your favorite tool for helping yourself get to a standing position is: daddy's leg hair! You love to grab on while he's sitting down and pull yourself up using just his leg hair for leverage. It's hilarious, because of course daddy hates it. You are also completely out of your 3-month or 3-6 month clothes: you are wearing exclusively 6-month sizes, although even some of those are still too big! Some of your 9-month onesies fit you if you're wearing a cloth diaper, but they're too big around: you just need the length. We can't wait for cooler weather so you can actually wear all of your cute clothes again: it's been so hot that most days you just crawl around in your diaper and bloomers.

This month you took your first trip to the beach. You thought it was ok, but we think the noise from ocean scared you a bit. Maybe it will not be such a shock the next time we go and you'll enjoy it more. You also took your first ride on a boat. We took a ferry boat over to the Europe side of Istanbul together. You loved it: the wind in your face and the hum of the engine kept you occupied for the whole trip. You have a fascination with strings, buckles, paper, and cords. Mommy was just telling daddy today that we should just buy you your very own telephone cord that you could play with, because maybe it would keep you away from all the other cords in the house. You also like to touch our faces, poke at our eyes, and pull at our hair. You especially like it when mommy wears makeup and love to try to grab her eyelashes and nose.

You also still love to play peekaboo, but now you've figured out how to pull the blanket off of our heads as well as off of your own. You love to babble and your favorite sound is "bababababa," and although we've caught you babbling "mamamama" or "dadadada" before, we don't think you know you're saying our names yet! Maybe this upcoming month you'll figure that out. You also like to listen to mommy play the guitar and sometimes you try to sing with her. It's the most precious sound.

You tried lots more solid foods this month: mango, avocado, oatmeal, apples, bulgur, pears, peas, yogurt, and yesterday you got some scrambled egg yolk. You're not such a big fan of peas or bulgur (mommy's not so big on bulgur, either, actually), but you seem to like all the other things alright. Your favorites are still peaches and zucchini, though. You make the cutest noises when we feed you those. You can feed yourself a teething cookie or piece of toast and sometimes can get smaller pieces of food into your mouth. You also like to gnaw on pizza crust, but you get really mad at us when we catch you sticking the whole thing in your mouth and we have to reach in to get it out. But we'd rather have you mad at us than dead from choking, so you'll just have to deal with it. You are also not a big fan of bibs and try to pull them off sometimes, but you'll just have to deal with those too, because you sure can make a mess with all the food we give you!

This month we thought you were going to get some teeth. You had a fever for three days and were an absolute pill. Then the fever went away and you got a rash all over your body, but we thought that was just heat rash, because it has been so hot here and we don't have an air conditioner. However, a doctor friend of ours said that you probably had Roseola, and we think he's probably right, because your rash went away after a couple of days even though it was still hot here.

You have finally settled into somewhat of a sleeping schedule. Mommy and daddy are so, so glad about this! We don't blame you for being a little difficult in this area: after all, you've been to eight states, the District of Colombia, and two countries in your short little life and have slept in ten different places. But we are glad that you're finally learning how to sleep well at night. When we're at home we start getting you ready for bed at around 6:00 or 6:15. You and mom take a shower together and then daddy gets you dried off and your diaper on. One of us gives you a bottle of mommy's milk and then we read you a story from the Bible. Then we sing "Goodnight Sweetheart" to you and put you in bed. Sometimes (if you've only had two naps that day) you fall asleep by 7:00, and other times you don't fall asleep until 7:30 or so. But you usually sleep until at least 4:30 now, usually until 5:00 or 5:30, and occasionally until 6:00. You eat one more time then, and then you go back to sleep until 7 (usually), but sometimes you wake up at 6:30 or sleep until 8:00. You usually take two good naps of an hour and ten minutes to an hour and a half, and sometimes you take a third 30-45 minute nap around dinner time. We read a story and sing a song, usually "Jesus loves me" or "Jesus loves the little children" before putting you down for your nap. It's great that you're settling into a schedule!

I think those are our highlights from this past month! You are getting so big and so strong! You are still so happy and you smile, laugh, and babble so much. We love you and love getting to watch you grow.


Mommy and Daddy

You look like this after every meal these days!

When it's hot we play in the bathtub on the balcony. You love to chew on this ducky!

You learned how to pull up on things like this all by yourself!

Lane, blankie, and giraffe: inseparable at nap/bedtime.

This is what you did the entire ferry ride: look over the edge at the water and feel the wind in your face.

Exploring the balcony: your favorite (and often forbidden) thing to do!

Going out on the town with mom!

Our crawling monster!

Our happy girl, playing peekaboo with mom.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Money Matters

We have been asked numerous times in the past how exactly we manage to do so many adventurous things and yet not be in debt at all. I've always procrastinated answering because I honestly don't feel like we're "excellent" money managers. First of all, we have known all along that God has unlimited resources--he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Throughout the Bible, God has shown his desire to bless his children beyond measure. Since before we got married we have been in the habit of praying that God would provide for our financial well-being. God has answered these prayers in our lives as he has been incredibly generous to us in all things, including finances. God, in and through our families, has given us great opportunities over and above what most people will ever know. We are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Our families have taught us invaluable lessons about money and its management. Our families and their friends have blessed and continue to bless us incredibly with the way they make their resources available to us.

It is also important to make known the fact that when we got married we had no debt. Both of our cars were paid for. Shannon had a student loan that he paid off before we got married, but neither of us have ever carried credit card debt. Shannon paid cash for my engagement and wedding rings. We started our married life with a clean slate, which has helped matters.

Having said these things, here are the things that we try to do in order to be good stewards of what God has given us:

1) We tithe. We give at least 10% of our gross income to our church (divided between our church in the States and our church here) and sometimes more than that. Now, tithing is not a guarantee that God will bless and multiply your resources. It demonstrates faith that God will provide. We give our tithe first each month and live on what is left. We have always had enough.

2) We track our expenses. The first couple of months after we got married we tracked every penny we spent in order to gain an accurate understanding of how much life cost. We set a budget from there. We're currently doing the same thing here in Istanbul. Every kuruş (1/1ooth of a lira) that we spend is written down. At the end of August or September we should have a good idea of how much we spend on regular life and therefore how much we can set aside for our emergency fund, Lane's college fund, and a vacation fund (we're still contributing to our life insurance fund, and we are taking advantage of the matched contributions to retirement that our employer offers).

3) We save. A couple of months after we got married we were discussing money matters with the man who has been Shannon's financial adviser for years. He suggested we start putting X amount of dollars into an emergency fund and a life insurance plan that we can cash in at any time (both of these are at a separate bank than our regular accounts: it's more work to make a phone call in order to transfer money so we're less likely to touch that money than we are what's in our regular savings account). We agreed, thinking that X amount included both. Imagine our surprise when X amount plus our life insurance contributions came out of our checking account the next month. We were shocked and didn't think we could save that much every month, but we figured that we could at least try. It worked. For 2 1/2 years we contributed to these 2 funds, and now we have an emergency fund. We stopped contributing to the emergency fund about 4-5 months ago in light of our job change, trans-Atlantic move, and being unsure about the cost of living in Istanbul. We plan to start contributing to it again in a couple of months, after we're more aware of how much it costs to live here and what we can afford to save. However, this month, we did put some money into a savings account attached to our checking account. We can easily put this money back into our checking account if we need it, but if we make it to payday without touching it then we'll know that we can probably save that amount each month.

4) We operate in cash and set a budget. We have a few things auto-deducted from our account each month (life insurance and the like). In the States we'd pay a few of our bills with checks. But we used cash for other expenses. (Here we use cash for everything because there is no such thing as a checkbook). I get a set amount of cash for groceries each week and budget accordingly: it makes me more conscious not to toss extra stuff in the basket when I'm shopping.

5) We also have each gotten a "personal allowance" each week ever since we got married. This money is ours and ours alone and we don't have to be accountable to each other for it. This has ranged from $20 a week each to $10 a week each. It's what we use for eating out with friends (Shannon with the guys or me with the girls), picking up the occasional cup of coffee, or when Shannon buys me flowers. It's what I saved and saved in order to buy new running shoes. Now I'm saving for a Mac (because Shannon says they're too expensive and are difficult to have repaired overseas). It may take me 2 years to save the difference between a PC and a Mac (so far I have about $40 saved), but once I have it saved I can spend it however I like, even on a Mac. We have always given ourselves this allowance, even when money was really tight (we may have changed the amount, but we always got something each week). At least for me, getting some money of my own each week has helped me to not resent our budget, our income, or our choice of lifestyle. I have power (muh-ha-ha!) over some amount of money, no matter how small.

6) We don't buy unnecessary stuff. In this area, it helps that I am not a pack-rat. I don't like clutter. I'm not a clothes-horse. I choose quality over quantity almost any day. All of Lane's toys can fit in our Land's End Tote Bag (size medium (and to whomever bought this for us for our wedding, if you read our blog, we LOVE this bag)). Each year Shannon and I get a few new pieces of clothing, but we don't go crazy. We buy stuff we like that will still be in season next year, not stuff that is only trendy right now. We (ok, I) also shop clearance racks. I set Shannon's mom and stepmom on the goal of outfitting Lane for next summer by shopping the $3 and $4 sale racks that are popping up in the U.S. right about now. My friend Margo once told me that she would look at the price of an article of clothing and if she would wear it once per dollar it cost (e.g. if it cost $20 would she wear it 20 times?) then it was worth buying. If she wouldn't, she would pass on it. I have often thought of this when purchasing clothes and shoes. We also don't get new electronics just because we want them, but only if we need them. My cell phone in the States was horrible. The backlight didn't work so I couldn't see who was calling if it was dark. But it still made phone calls, so I kept it. I used the same cell phone for 3 1/2 years. Shannon used his for 5 years. Who does that these days?

7) We set goals. We set the goal of X amount of dollars for our emergency fund. We're about 2/3 of the way there (in 2 1/2 years of saving). We want to go to Fiji for our 10-year anniversary. It's 7 years away. We're going to start saving towards it in January (after we've met a pledge to our church).

8) Other people have greatly blessed us. Seriously, this has been a huge factor in our financial situation. When we got married, my mom made our wedding cake. When we went on our honeymoon, someone else bought our airline tickets as a wedding gift. We used my mom's (now our) timeshare, so we only had to pay the exchange and booking fee. Shannon's parents and their friends (and our friends!) have bought us things like Lane's pack 'n play, her car seat and stroller, cloth diapers, and enough clothes to last her through her 1st birthday. My friend Megan made us receiving blankets and burp cloths and 3 of Lane's grandmothers have made her blankets. We haven't needed to buy her anything except a few white onesies.

9) We take advantage of programs like frequent flier miles, greenpoints at Lowe's foods, and new glasses (frames and lenses) for $99. We've flown all over the U.S. for free, gotten groceries for free, and bought Shannon new glasses for cheap. We don't use every freebie program known to man, but the ones that we do use, we use.

10) I cook from scratch and we try not to eat out more than once a week. This might not seem like a big deal or that it could save that much, but when in North Carolina I could feed Shannon and myself on $50 a week by cooking from scratch. If you go out to dinner, it easily costs at least $20. Oh, what I could cook for $20! Here things are a little cheaper and it takes so much longer to cook (new and different things available in the stores) that we try to eat out once a week to give me a break from the kitchen. There are times when life demands eating out a bit more, like when I was pregnant. In my first trimester I was so exhausted that we ate Mexican food a lot, but we used "buy one get one free" coupons. I would also get hungry at the most random times, so we'd stop for a quick bite to eat often. The key is to plan accordingly (keep a granola bar in your purse) so that you're not constantly caught out and about and starving.

So, there you have it. None of it is earth-shattering, at least not to me. But maybe it will help one of my loyal (ha!) readers to gain a bit more control of their finances so that they too can do something fantastic like go to Fiji for their 10-year anniversary.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mommy Regrets

In light of Lane turning 7 months old in 2 days and thus another blog post, today I decided that I wanted to look back at all of the Letters to Lane that I've written to her each month on her "birthday."

And then I burst into tears.

My baby girl is almost not a baby anymore. I lay in her room, nursing her at 5 or 5:30 a.m. each morning and I marvel at her beautiful body, at her smooth skin, at her sweet spirit. This morning, after she had finished and lay sleeping next to me, I placed my hand on her stomach, and her little hand came to mine and grasped it. And I thought, "Please, never let go."

I look at her, smiling up at me and babbling with her gummy grin, and I know that soon she'll have teeth, a sure sign that she's growing up.

I watch her as she pulls up on the furniture, rolls around on the floor, flicks at the bee on her strawberry teether, observes the pattern on the rug, or is fascinated by the wind blowing in her face from the ferry boat, and I know that all too soon she'll be distracted and enthralled by boys, makeup, clothes, and other less wholesome things than a new flavor of food or a new texture to feel.

I want to capture her sweetness and innocence in a bottle so that I can pull it out and bask in it anytime I want to over the rest of my life. I want to capture her curiosity and her joy, yet in every video or photo I take, something seems to be missing. I look at the videos, trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to delete (because let's face it, I can't keep all of them: I don't have the space on my hard drive. And some of them can be pretty boring when I'm trying to get something good but she's not cooperating), but I don't want to delete any of them, because one day it's all I'll have to remind me of her. My baby daughter. The brilliant, sweet, happy, piece of my life that I never knew was missing until I had her.

I want to spend every second of my day holding her, spoon-feeding her peaches and zucchini, watching her discover the world. Listening to her babble, watching her put the 500th toy in her mouth and feel it with her tongue, holding her as she feels the water from the shower pouring over her head or as a gust of wind catches her off guard and she looks for it. Lying with her at 5 a.m. after I've fed her and she's still and content lying next to me, or watching her gaze intently, searching for the sound coming from my guitar as I practice songs for church each week. I want time to stand still until I've had my fill of her chubby cheeks, her belly and knees squeaking on the floor as she crawls and scoots around, and yogurt and peaches smeared on her face and the table in front of her.

She's growing up already. And it makes me sad.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A (Fort) Night to Remember

3 years ago today I returned from my honeymoon. We spent 2 glorious weeks in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 2 weeks! It was extravagant. But it was our honeymoon. And we enjoyed every last second of it.

We spent our wedding night at a hotel near the airport and didn't get much sleep at all: we didn't arrive until nearly midnight, had never slept in the same bed together so had a hard time falling asleep, and then we had to get up by 5 a.m. (or so...I don't remember exactly). As the shuttle was dropping us off at the airport I asked Shannon to give me his passport, and, well, um, he had forgotten it. Yikes! Thankfully Shannon's good friend Steve came to the rescue: he was coming to the airport anyway to drop someone else off, so he swung by our apartment, banging on the door to wake up my mom in order to get his passport. We got checked in for our flight, albeit a bit late.

We arrived in Puerto Vallarta to this:

The living room/kitchen in the timeshare we rented. And yes, I brought my bouquet with me.

The bedroom (and HUGE bed!).

The view off our balcony.

The first few days we were there we did practically nothing. We were so exhausted from the previous 8 months: we had both traveled to Alabama twice (Shannon 3 times) and to Kentucky, and then to Alaska, Venezuela, Texas, Hawaii, and Florida in the 10 weeks prior to our wedding. I had also been to Alaska 2 other times in the 8 months we were engaged. So we laid around watching movies and lying by the pool, ordering room service and eating at a different restaurant in the hotel complex for every meal.

After a few days of vegging, we decided to get adventurous. We went into the city of Puerto Vallarta for some sightseeing. We wandered the streets, did some shopping, and saw rock statues and sand sculptures that people had done on the beaches. We got drinks at Starbucks. I got serenaded by a mariachi band. Shannon even got pooped on, which I hear is good luck.

We bought Shannon 2 new shirts this day, since pigeons thought his nice blue shirt was worthy of poopage.

A gazebo in "Old Town" Puerto Vallarta. Or maybe in "New Town." At least it was in "town."

Starbucks and Señor Frog's. We didn't buy anything in Señor Frog's, but enjoyed looking around.

This mariachi band serenaded us while we ate fantastic Mexican food.

Our hotel complex was awesome. We stayed in a timeshare, so we had a kitchenette and I made breakfast every morning. We went to Walmart one of the first days we were there and bought breakfast supplies. We brought International Delight coffee creamers from the States. We even bought a DVD player so that we could hang in our room and watch all the movies and Friends we had brought with us. The Grupo Mayan had 3 huge buildings and at least 15 restaurants. We ate at all of them and Shannon learned that he did like guacamole! We would spend our evenings walking around the complex, going to a new restaurant each time, and only going back to our favorites. We charged everything to our room and received a 10% discount upon checkout. Our hotel also had awesome swimming pools and the beach was thisclose to us.

One of the pools. I think our hotel had the largest (or longest?) swimming pool in the western hemisphere. Something impressive like that. And it was impressive.

It rained almost every evening, since it was August and hurricane season. The days were fantastic though: not too hot and a bit breezy.

I got this shot off our balcony one night. The lightning storms were fantastic.

However, one evening towards the beginning of our time there we got caught in the rain and came back looking like this:

Soaked to the bone!

We learned our lesson and made sure to be back earlier from then on!

Towards the end of our stay at the Grupo Mayan we decided to go on a timeshare presentation. We were finally relaxed enough to put up with having to say "no" a million times in order to get some great stuff. I think we came away with $200 cash and free tickets for a boat ride and lunch out at Las Calletas, a secluded beach. The timeshare presentation was a pain in the butt, but we think that we did well at saying "no" and still came out about $270 ahead for 3-4 hours of inconvenience. It was kind of fun, though, to see the cool places that there are out there!

The trip to Las Calletas was awesome. The boat ride alone was way cool and the beach was very neat. The only bad thing about it was that the water had lots of teeny-tiny jellyfish that would shock you just a tad. We explored the beach, had a fantastic (free!) lunch, and paid extra to swim with a sea lion. I seem to recall that there aren't many places in the world where you can do that.

Las Calletas: food, sand, monkeys, and parrots!

We got to hold this parrot. He was quite nice, despite the look on Shannon's face!

Shannon with the sea lion.

He gave me a kiss! Don't worry, Shannon approved.

Our flight back was fairly uneventful, although we did wait on our bags in Atlanta for what felt like forever. By the time we made it through passport control and customs we were going to miss our flight, so we ran to our gate and our flight was 100% boarded. They had already closed the doors but let us in anyways, taking our boarding passes as we walked down the jetway. When we got on the plane we were told to find whatever seats were available, so we ended up sitting apart from each other, and I of course got stuck between 2 very large men. A pleasant surprise was that we were on the same flight as these guys, who were also returning from their honeymoon.

All in all, we had a fantastic honeymoon. I would recommend Mexico to anyone for their honeymoon or for vacation: we spent only half of what we had budgeted for the 2-week trip, and we did not skimp at all. Granted, we don't drink, so we didn't spend money on alcohol, so that might jack the price up a bit. The Grupo Mayan was great, the weather was great, and the company was great. 2 weeks was the perfect amount of time, too: by about day 11 or 12 we felt ready to return to normal life, so we definitely relaxed and detoxed before resuming our crazy lives! After the crazy year prior to our honeymoon, it will probably always be remembered as the most relaxing vacation we ever had!

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Going to be a Hot One

Today was the hottest day we've had thus far in our six weeks in Istanbul. Today it reached 35° C, or 95° F. From the looks of things, there's not much chance of this week getting any cooler:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
34° C | 25° C
35° C | 24° C
33° C | 25° C
34° C | 25° C
Scattered Clouds
34° C | 21° C
Clear Clear Clear Clear Scattered Clouds

As most of you know, we are living in someone else's apartment while they're in the States for a few months. This means that we are using their furniture, towels, dishes, and so on. It also means that we are not using their air conditioner--because they don't have one. We have 4 ceiling fans and 3 free-standing fans. And we're roasting. In honor of fellow friends in Europe, Asia, and Africa, I present to you:

10 Ways You Can Tell It's Hot Outside (and Inside too!):

10. Your laundry dries in less than an hour.
9. When writing language flash cards your arms stick to the table. You can't just slide your arm across as you write: you have to pick it up and move it (or stick a piece of paper to your arm so it will slide across the table).
8. The last words spoken in your house each evening are: "Goodnight, honey, I love you." "I love you too. Scooch over and don't touch me."
7. You have determined that showers are pointless and have resigned yourself to looking like poo for the next month until the weather cools off.
6. You try to leave the toilet seat, but it won't leave you.
5. You must wear waterproof mascara, because regular mascara won't stick to your eyelashes long enough to make it out of the bathroom before it's all over your eyelids.
4. You have taken to sitting on towels on the couches so as not to soak them with your sweat, leaving an unpleasant surprise that will lie dormant all winter and then kill you next spring.
3. Cold foods have become the staple of your diet and if cooking is necessary it is done in large quantities so as to reduce the number of hours spent in the kitchen overall.
2. Upon returning home, the first thing you do is to take off all of your clothes and walk around in your underwear.
1. You avoid putting them back on at all costs.

There you have it, straight from Istanbul. Maybe by the end of the week I'll have 10 suggestions as to how to keep cool in the heat!

Baby girl has a bad heat rash. [Update: this was actually Roseola...not heat rash.] She's got two of our three fans in her room and her window stays open. Hopefully she doesn't keep this rash for the next month!

For now we're just all terlemek-ing (the verb for "to be hot" or "to sweat": we're doing both). Poor Lane is constantly sticky and has heat rash everywhere except her calves and feet. Yesterday she even had it on her head under her hair, but it got a little better overnight. She wears nothing except a diaper with bloomers nearly every day. I feel bad for her, but there's not really anything you can do for heat rash, so...join us in praying for rain! Maybe I should go wash the always rains after I do that...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Multi-Colored Bottom

I'm one of those moms.

Some of our cloth diaper supply.

Which moms?

Those cloth-diapering moms.

Before Lane was born, and I think even before I was pregnant with her, we (ok, I) had decided that we wanted to use cloth diapers. You may think I'm insane: my mother certainly did! But, let me assure you, cloth diapers have come a long way since we were babies! Gone are the days of having to change the baby every single time he/she pees. Gone are the days of pre-folding. Gone are the days of soaking diapers in a bleach solution.

Nowadays cloth diapering is easy. There's an outer shell which is waterproof, so it prevents leaks and mess from getting on baby's clothes. There's an inner layer which absorbs liquid. And there's a fleece lining that goes against baby's bottom and wicks away moisture. And they come in cool colors.

Yes, it's still messier than disposables. It's a little stinkier. And it's definitely more time-consuming. But it's a whole lot cheaper. And it's better for the environment. And we can use them with kiddos number two, and three, and four, and so-on.

Clean diapers, ready to be snapped and stuffed.

Lane has 27(!) cloth diapers (we registered for them on instead of lots of other stuff since we were moving overseas). That's enough to last her almost an entire week, or at least six days (or, if we have another baby close to Lane and they're both in diapers, it'll be enough for three days for both of them). We usually do put a disposable on her at night (lessens the likelihood of diaper rash) and when we know we're going to be out for more than a couple of hours.

When we put a diaper into the dirty-diaper bag, we hold our breath for the 20 seconds it takes to untie the bag, toss it in, and tie it back up (pee-yew!). Once a week I breathe through my mouth while stuffing the washing machine with the diapers and then spray some air freshener. I wash them once on cold with 1/4 the laundry soap of a regular load. Then I was them on a longer, hot, cycle, with 1/4 the laundry soap of a regular load. Next I hang them out to dry.

Diapers, diapers, everywhere!

After they're dry I toss them in the laundry basket and snap and stuff them as I have time: while watching a movie, keeping an eye on Lane, or catching up on my blog subscriptions. Rarely do I feel compelled to snap and stuff them immediately, although if we washed all of them I may do a few right away so that Lane can start wearing them again.

Easy as pie: Bumgenius one-size diapers which grow with your baby: velcro for girth and snaps for rise.

Shortly after we arrived in Istanbul on the 4th of July, we bought three packs of diapers (they were on sale: buy two, get one free). We used them exclusively the first two weeks since we were living with five other people, but since then, we only use them at night or when we'll be out for a long period of time. We still have half of the disposables left. We spent $20 on diapers five weeks ago and still have half of them left. I can hear Lane's savings account accumulating change that I didn't and won't spend on diapers.

Is that a blue diaper peeking out from under Lane's bib?

I love the feeling of being responsible and taking a few extra minutes to save loads of money and waste. I hate the five minutes of stinkiness I deal with every week and that some of Lane's outfits don't fit her correctly (this is getting better as her booty (and the rest of her) gets bigger!). How about you? Do you use cloth diapers or would you ever consider it? What do you like or not like about them?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Diana!

Today is my good friend Diana's birthday. I hate that I can't be with her to celebrate like I have been for quite a few (four, I think?) of her birthdays over the seven years that I've known her. So instead of being with her and making her a cake or dinner, here's a tribute to some of the memories we have had (with quite a few missing...too many files on my computer with pictures that I know I have, but cannot find!).

July 2003: you moved to Poland and my apartment was the first place you went. December 2003: you came to Warsaw and spent Christmas with me and my sister. We played Cranium and...I don't know what else we did, but we had fun!

March 2004, Mikolajki, Poland. I think we were playing "Scum."

August 2004: you came to Rzeszow to spend a couple of days with me because all your teammates were going to be away on your birthday. You didn't tell me it was your birthday, but I found out and surprised you with blueberry pancakes on the morning of your birthday and then we went out for pizza for dinner.

December 2004: I brought you Mint Oreos from the States for Christmas.

Valentine's Day 2005: We went on a 5-day trip to Slovenia for skiing in the Alps. You got deathly ill, but still got to ski the first day!

April 2005: We all went to Prague and some of us ran a half-marathon.

August 2006: I moved to Wake Forest and into an apartment with you and Stacy. How do I not have any pictures of the time that we lived together? You got engaged in October and I got engaged in December. You went with me to pick out my wedding dress. Shannon and I drove like 100 mph to make it to your wedding on time, because we missed one of our flights and had to spend the night before your wedding in D.C., flying into Florida the morning of your wedding and driving like insane people to make it on time. We made it, and then turned right around to drive back to North Carolina. I don't have any pictures of us at your wedding because our camera broke the week before.

August 1 2007: goofing off at the nail salon 2 days before my wedding. You threw me a bachelorette party that evening.

August 3 2007: you and Marci posing for the camera at my wedding.

Throughout our time together in graduate school we (you, Greg, Shannon, and me) all hung out regularly. We'd get together about every other week and play cards or just talk. The four of us took Greek II together, and you and I took lots of other classes together. In August 2008 you came over for your birthday and I made you food that was gluten-free, and I think even a gluten-free birthday dessert, although I don't remember for sure. In February 2009 we took a road-trip together to Chattanooga to see our old roommate Stacy. You were 7 1/2 months pregnant, I think, and miserable most of the car-ride!

March 2009: you receive a quilt for baby Ava that my stepmom made for you after a comment from you about how beautiful the quilt she made for me was.

March 2009: Paige and I threw you a baby shower, and I made the cake!

August 7 2009: You turned 30 and invited a few of us over to celebrate!

The night Shannon and I left Wake Forest you cooked dinner for us. You helped me clean our apartment and let us leave some stuff with you to pass off to my sister. You emailed me regularly while we were in Alaska and mailed me baby stuff and a nursing cover that you made for me.

March 2010: you, Greg, and Ava came to Birmingham to see us and some other friends who had just had a baby.

April 2010: we stopped by for a bit on our way through Wake Forest towards Virginia.

In April you and Paige threw a baby shower for us and Lane, planning it for just the right time when we'd be passing through. You came to see us while we were staying in Virginia.

Over the last seven years we've had lots of good times together. You are one of my closest friends, and I want to thank you for being such a good friend to me! I hope that your 31st birthday is fantastic!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3 Years

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
--Mignon McLaughlin--

Thanks for making me fall in love with you over and over again, every day.

I love you.

Happy Anniversary, my Love.