Saturday, December 31, 2011

best of 2011

Here is what we did this year:

We celebrated Nate's first birthday January 15. The very next day, we found out that baby #2 was on his way!

We played in the snow, Nate worked on learning to walk, and I tried to hide my morning sickness because we weren't ready to go public with the news yet.

We celebrated our second anniversary this year with a quiet weekend in a small town bed and breakfast. Nate started walking for real and found a love for stacking blocks. We made our baby announcement and got lots of "wow! so soon! you'll have your hands full." I also started working again.

We got our second look at Ben, and now he looked like a baby! We found out that he is a he, and I started trying to get Rodgers to talk baby names. Nate was (and is) still attached to Black Monkey and Orange Monkey.

We worked on teaching Nate to be gentle with his baby brother. We visited my grandparents and met my brother and sister-in-law (who was also pregnant) there. As the year progressed, we did more and more groundwork for Maisha Kamili

We got to experience many joys of toddler-hood, such as refusal to eat (and then eating the very thing he wouldn't even touch 30 minutes later just because it came from Baba's plate) and a major sleep regression. This was a super freaking hot summer. I survived only because of tank tops, a/c (which couldn't really keep up with the heat), and ice water. In June, Nate and I took a roadtrip by ourselves to go to his cousin's birthday party, his cousin who is now a big sister!

Nate moved up to the toddler class at daycare and started bringing home artwork - how fun!! He also got a little potty. Baby brother being born and us moving took us back a few steps in potty training, but now we are making progress once again. Also, our friend Mwangome visited us from Kenya.

I lost my job again in August. I looked for another one, but really, who would hire someone this pregnant? We spent early mornings in the park before the sweltering heat hit us - by 10 am it would be too hot.

Though it was a major change in our lives, switching to cloth diapers wasn't the biggest thing that happened in September. ;) Ben was born! Tragedy also happened in September - my grandparents' home (where my parents also lived part time) burned, along with over 1000 other homes in a major wildfire. (The trees in that picture are all burned and dead.)

As we adjusted to being a family of four, which seems to have been the hardest for Nate, we were also packing, moving, unpacking, and adjusting to living in a new place and having new schedules. Nate helped with chores like sweeping and putting away dishes.

Life began to quiet down a bit in November. We started getting into a routine, balancing Rodgers' new work schedule and both boys' individual schedules. We took this really awful family photo, trying to get a shot of us to use on a prayer card for Maisha Kamili (see the Christmas post), which by this time was only a week or so away from being an official non-profit organization in the State of Texas.

Ben was dedicated in our church this month, along with 4 other babies. He is starting to put things in his mouth. He's drooling like mad, so we suspect he may be trying to grow some teeth. We celebrated Christmas as a family of four, then spent Christmas weekend with my family - parents, brother, sister-in-law, their two kids, sister, brother-in-law, and their son. There is a picture of all of us somewhere but I haven't seen it online yet (hint, hint).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

cloth diapers from my perspective

I learned about modern cloth diapering on the internet. My mom used cloth diapers back in the day (flats) but these days things are much different (though flats are still an option).

I have read many pro/con lists about cloth diapers. Very rarely is there much on the con list. This is not because there are no cons to cloth diapers. I suspect it is because cloth diapering mamas feel that they are constantly defending their choice to people who think cloth diapers are gross. They are reluctant to admit that there are any cons to cloth diapers lest the skeptics get an upper hand in the debate.

Here is cloth diapering from my perspective. It is long, so I will highlight the main ideas:

Cost (pro – cloth is cheaper)

While a 2 day supply of cloth diapers costs way more than a 2 day supply of disposables, said 2 day supply of cloth can be washed every other day and reused over and over and over again.

We were given some cloth diapers, and we bought some used. A lot of people gave us gifts of money for Ben’s birth, which we used to buy diapers, the only thing we really needed for him since we still have all of Nate’s baby clothes and gear. What we actually spent out of pocket was about $150.

If we were to buy all of our diapers up front, the route I’d take:
For small size:
For larger size through potty training:
Total: $217.49

And these can be used for more than one kid. "They" estimate that using disposable diapers on one kid costs about $1500.

Cuteness (pro –  cloth diapers are cute, if you’re into that sort of thing)

Not that it matters, they're just a catcher for poop and pee.

Green-ness (pro – it is more environmentally friendly, not that I know anything about the environment)

Disposable diapers go into landfills. A single baby uses TONS of them.

Pee Leaks 
(neutral – we have less leaks at night but more during the day for Nate; same leakiness for Ben)

We started using cloth diapers at night. Nate had been overflowing his diapers every night. After some experimentation, we found a cloth solution that he rarely overflows at night. He does still have leaks during the day.

Ben has pee leaks equally in cloth and disposables. He has a knack for peeing out the front of the left leg hole and the back of the diaper at the same time. I’m not really sure how he manages those two in combination, but he does – in every kind of diaper.

Diaper rashes (neutral – no difference for Nate, no difference for Ben compared to certain brands of disposables)

Nate had his first diaper rash at 18 months, in disposables. He has had that same kind of rash in cloth as well. Ben had some blisters caused by Up & Up diapers when he was newborn, but did not have that rash in Huggies or cloth.

Most diaper rash creams will cause problems for cloth diapers. There are creams that are cloth diaper safe. Ben has not needed them so far. Nate has.

Grossness (con – cloth diapers stink and there is lots more rinsing of poop)

Many have told me that cloth diapers do not smell bad. I’m not sure at what point cloth diapers are supposed not to stink, perhaps only when they are clean. When we first started using them, I could tell (by smell) as soon as Nate peed. I had to hold my breath while loading the washing machine because the stench is so strong. Poop smell escapes from them much more strongly as well. I have adapted, though. I don’t smell them as much now.

Then, there's the poopy diapers. Before starting solids, baby poop is water soluble, and some people just through it straight into the washing machine, no rinsing. I can't do that. I rinse all of Ben's poopy diapers (as well as Nate's of course). The argument is that I'd be having to rinse poop out Ben's clothes if he were in disposables because of poop blowouts, to which I say: a) not every day (much less a few times per day) and b) not after he starts solids and his poop becomes more firm. I'll be rinsing poop out of at least one cloth diaper every day until Ben stops pooping or is potty trained.

Laundry (con – twice as many loads per week)

Each week, I wash one load of towels, one load of sheets, one load of light clothes, and one load of darks. Add to that a load of diapers on Tuesdays, another on Thursdays, and two on Sundays (three days’ worth is too much for one load). Using cloth diapers doubles the amount of laundry I do each week.

Time (con – using cloth takes more time than disposables)

Someone said that washing a load of diapers doesn’t take much more time than running out to the store to buy a box of disposables. I say, it takes a lot more time. I’m at the store at least once a week anyway and would pick up diapers while I’m there (thus it takes no extra time). Plus, I have never had to buy diapers three times in a single week. And, we always bought diapers before running out. There were never any late night trips to a 24-hour store just to buy some diapers. Even if there were, it would take far less time than doing a load of laundry, especially cloth diapers which require a pre-wash, extra rinse, and the very absorbent materials take time to dry, then pocket diapers need to be stuffed.

Bottom Line (pro – I like cloth diapers)

We did not choose to switch to cloth because of pro/con lists. My mother asked me if we were going to take cloth diapers with us to Kenya since there are no landfills there, they use more of a trash-heap-in-the-middle-of-town method of waste management.

I remembered our trip to Kenya when Nate was six months old. We often had to carry dirty diapers with us until we found somewhere to throw them away. The locals would expect us to throw them in the street. To pack lighter, we decided to buy diapers when we got to Kenya rather than take all we needed with us. I hate the Kenyan disposable diapers. They only come in two sizes, and they just aren’t very good.

Considering these two things, I suggested to Rodgers that we switch to cloth when we move to Kenya. He trusts my judgment very much and didn’t question me at all, but said that if I thought cloth would be best then that’s what we’d do.

We got a few hand-me-down diapers from some friends to give us a sample and find out what we liked. We ordered a few diapers here and there to try some other kinds. And we did start trying them. Then, I surprised myself. I started to like using cloth diapers. I like the fact that I’m not throwing away $20 x 2 every three weeks to diaper two kids with disposables. In fact, I like that so much that I don’t even use disposable wet wipes anymore. In fact, I like it so much that I’ve stopped using tampons in favor of a reusable alternative (the Diva Cup). Not to mention the fact that I had need of those our last trip to Kenya as well, but there were none to be found. Not to mention the fact that I gave it a chance and found it to be revolutionary. Throwing things away is so much more convenient than washing and reusing, but I am loving the $aving$ (see what I did there? Clever, right?) of reusables.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

2011 Christmas card
Grace and peace to you this Christmas season!
Looking back over the past year, we cannot help but be amazed at how richly God has blessed us.
We are now living at Camp. As we’re preparing to move to Kenya (details forthcoming in this letter), Rodgers was able to get a flexible job here. He gets to be home more and is able to take time off as needed for moving-to-Kenya related appointments. Living here also allows Rachel to stay home with our two sons, which is a dream come true.
We welcomed our second dear son into our family this year. Benjamin Richard was born September 15. He is a very healthy and happy baby! We are enjoying watching him discover the world and grow out of all of his clothes.
Our firstborn, Nathanael, will be two years old in January. He is a spirited child and brings so much joy to our lives. He loves Elmo, his stuffed monkeys, the color red, the number seven, “Jesus Loves Me,” and his baby brother.
We have long had a dream or vision to move to Kenya and establish a home for street kids. January 1 of this year, our pastor encouraged us to begin writing a document about our vision. We wrote and rewrote for over a month before we had something we’d let other people read. The writing of that initial proposal was only the first step.
We now have established a non-profit organization in the state of Texas called Maisha Kamili (Full Life). It is headed up by a board of six trustees. Their purpose is to support a children’s home that will be established in Mombasa, Kenya. We are getting ready to go, with a tentative departure date in late January 2012.
The children’s home in Kenya does not exist yet. We are starting from scratch. Our goal is to have churches, individuals, and families partner in ministry with Maisha Kamili. There are many different ways to join in. We have a Facebook page at
May the Lord bless you and keep you. Much love!

Maisha Kamili prayer card

Thursday, December 22, 2011

good news(es)

If one is "good news" is two "good newses?"

Number one

our starter stash
When we were ready to have Nate in cloth diapers 100%, we only had enough diapers to last one day. We had been making our stash last 48 hours by supplementing with disposables. My goal was to have enough to last 72 hours, though we would ideally do laundry every 48. That would give us some wiggle room if drying took longer or if we weren't able to wash right on time every time. We did have enough prefolds that we could have stretched our stash that way, but he was very resistant to wearing prefolds, and rather than fight him, we would just go with disposables.

We didn't have the budget to get enough good, new diapers, so I stalked our local Craigslist for a couple of weeks, looking for used diapers. We ended up buying 21 Sunbaby diapers for $1 each. These are horrible, leaky diapers. But, that many, for that price, I decided we could change Nate every 90 minutes if needed. And we did need to. I ended up replacing the microfiber inserts with microfiber car-washing towels. Two of those, trifolded, and we could go 2 hours between changes, which is about how often I change him even in good diapers. But I still hate them.

Nate's and Ben's diapers, Sunbaby included (minus 4 or 5 that were not clean at the time of the photo)

Gradually, we've been adding new diapers to our stash, in ones and twos. Also, with potty training, Nate will usually be in undies when we're home. So we need a smaller stash, but still end up using one or two Sunbaby diapers each day. This week, I ordered possibly the last diapers we need in our stash (assuming Nate potty trains before Ben outgrows size smalls). We don't have to use the Sunbaby diapers anymore!!

Number two

Losing weight post-Ben has been slower going than losing weight post-Nate. Also, I was a size larger after Ben was born than after Nate. Imagine my surprise when my post-Ben jeans started feeling loose! I just went through my bin of post-Nate clothes, and almost all of them fit! At 3 months post-Ben I am the size I was at 6 weeks post-Nate.

My wardrobe has just doubled. Happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

new header

Hey look! I put new pics in the header - it now includes Ben!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas traditions

I began thinking of Christmas traditions for our family when Rodgers and I got married. Now that we have 2 kids (and measures taken for no more), it's time to start these traditions!

Advent calendar
I love advent calendars, as I've mentioned in Christmases past. I have one now, a fabric one with pockets for each day. It's lost right now, but we will find it! I have 25 little ornaments, one for each day, and slips of paper with scripture references to be read when we put the new ornament on. Usually, I forget about it for a few days, and we end up doing 3 or 4 at once. I don't know whether we'll be able to find a Christmas tree in Kenya, but we will for sure find somewhere to put our ornaments!

Of course we will give gifts. I don't really like the idea of really big gifts. I prefer small gifts that the boys will enjoy, but not things that they really need. We're going to buy them what they need regardless of gift-giving occasions.  I like stockings and stocking stuffers. Last year I filled Nate's stocking with books (which I got second hand via Goodreads book swap). I want to do this again, however, with our upcoming move, it isn't practical. We are going to get a Kindle Fire before we leave, and we can get picture books for it. So even though it won't be in the stockings this year, we are going to "give" each of our boys some picture books on the Kindle. For now, Ben's stocking has a few baby toys in it (all of his clothes are hand-me-downs, I decided we could get rid of Nate's baby toys that I didn't love and get Ben some new ones). Nate's stocking has Elmo pjs (he doesn't have any in this size yet) and Elmo sunglasses.

I like cookies! I like to bake them and eat them. Last year, I found a gingerbread cookie recipe that I really like. I baked them again last night. My glaze turned out horrible this time, but the gingerbread men aren't falling apart as much as they did last year. I've put them in the freezer to save for Christmas weekend. Maybe when I thaw them, I can try to re-glaze them. This may be a tradition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

23 and 3

My boys are 23 months and 3 months old today. Surely it hasn't been that long since Nate went through his 19 month sleep regression and got us in practice again for middle-of-the-night newborn feedings. Surely Ben isn't old enough to grin, giggle, hold up his own head, and weigh 16 lbs, right? The days may be long, but the months are fast!

Nate is still tall and thin. He wears 2T, but if he's not in double-stuffed cloth diapers, the pants fall off of him. I do have some clips to put on the waistbands to cinch them up, but I forget... He's wearing undies more and more, though. So far, he never wears pants with them - he just wears them when we're home for a few hours. He is peeing on the floor less, so we may be ready to brave undies with pants very soon. He repeats everything, and occasionally he even uses complete sentences. We took the side rail off his crib yesterday to convert it into a toddler bed. However, we don't have a toddler bed rail. He has fallen out of his bed once. It was nice this morning, though, that when he woke up at 5:30, instead of yelling for someone to come get him, he just crawled up in bed with us and slept for another hour. He fell out of our bed, too. Good thing he's tough!

His favorite thing to do (besides watch Sesame Street and Dinosaur Train) is play outside. He likes to kick a little soccer ball around and throw frisbees (which he calls frizzy). If we go somewhere without a frisbee, we get about 80 seconds down the road, and he will say, "Aw, man! I forgot the frizzy!"

Ben is wearing 3-6 month clothes. I think he is bigger than Nate was at 3 months, though he was smaller at birth. He is getting into more of a schedule. He usually goes to bed between 7 and 9 pm and is up for the day between 5 and 7 am. He wakes up once in the night to eat. He sleeps between every bottle, which he likes to have every 2.5-3 hours during the day. We still feed him on demand. He takes a long nap in the morning and another in the afternoon. His other naps are just short catnaps. He likes to fall asleep in the swing, but he sleeps well in the pack and play bassinet. He is semi-swaddled at night (arms only). He loves for me to carry him in the wrap or Baby Bjorn. For a few weeks, he would only take a long nap in the wrap - glad we've outgrown that phase!

He is starting to reach for things, such as the baby in the mirror. I keep putting little toys in his hands for him to play with. They fascinate him, but I don't think he realizes he is holding them. He gets very mad when he accidentally grabs his own paci and takes it out of his mouth.

January is a big month! 2 years and 4 months old, here we come.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas shopping

Yesterday while we were picking up a few things I'd forgotten we needed for tomorrow, I asked Nate if he wanted to pick something out to go with what we're giving his cousins for Christmas. I wasn't going to let him run wild through the toy department; I directed him toward some simple, inexpensive options.

He picked out something cute and girly for Lauren (I did show him girly options for her) and a blue glittery bouncy ball with stars on it "for James," or so we said. He carried it all the way home, and I kept reminding him that we were going to give that to James. He agreed. Once we got home, before I could wrench it out of his hands, he promptly took a bite out of the ball, got it all muddy outside, and lost it.

This is not the way Christmas presents work, my dear.