Monday, December 31, 2012

Giving Thanks

Right, so it's not Thanksgiving, but a great blogger I follow (Carmel @ Our Fifth House) did a great year end wrap up including giving thanks to the top five blogs she received the most referral views from in the past year. Immediately, I decided to do the same thing. Because I'm a follower.

Whether intentional or otherwise, these blogs have given this blog the most direct referrals over the past year, so here is me giving thanks and highly suggesting you check them out.

And thank you so much for stopping by to read this blog in the first place. I love it.

post signature

Thursday, December 27, 2012

GroVia Hybrid: Snap Shell & Organic Inserts Review

A while back, I decided to let my curiosity get the cat. I'd heard a lot about GroVia Cloth Diapers, but I'd never actually tried it. Just as luck would have it, there was a seconds sale! I jumped at the opportunity. For those of you who don't know, seconds are "second quality." Generally, and for most companies, this just means possible marks on the fabric, possible uneven stitches, possible offset snaps, etc. In my experience, buying cloth diaper seconds has NEVER been a bad deal. Sometimes it's only a few dollars off, but with GroVia, everything was 50% off! Awesome deal, right? I jumped at the chance to try out their hybrid system. And really, I should have jumped a little quicker, because things were flying off the virtual shelves! I managed to get one hybrid shell with snaps in Blackberry and one set of organic cotton inserts.
First, let me explain what a hybrid diaper is, for anyone who's wondering, and then I'll move on to first impressions and so forth. A hybrid diaper generally consists of a shell/cover and interchangeable inserts that may be cloth OR disposable. This is great for people who like the flexibility of using cloth part-time, or for travel and situations where washing cloth diapers isn't as convenient. Hybrids (or all-in-two's, as some people might refer to this system as) are also nice for cutting back on the amount of cloth diaper laundry as well as the amount of space taken up in your diaper bag.

So, first impressions... I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that the color is even more beautiful in person. These pictures don't do it justice. It is a VERY nice color, and perfectly named Blackberry. Both the shell and the insert have a high quality feel to them. The inserts are very soft and sort of remind of me Flip Organic Nighttime Inserts - in a good way, of course! I'd read that the shells have a mesh lining, but that never really made sense to me until I saw one in person. I know some people prefer having a wipeable interior to their covers, but with inserts (as opposed to fitteds or wrapping prefolds or flats on baby), there is always skin exposed directly to baby's skin. This might not bother YOUR baby's skin, but it's something to consider. It's certainly not the most comfortable material on a hot day compared to nice, soft, breathable cotton. Also, I never reuse covers without washing once they've been pooped in anyway. As for the covers staying clean for re-use the rest of the time, the inserts are all backed with TPU, which is a waterproof lining that keeps things from just soaking through the inserts and into mesh lining.
I've now had plenty of time to see how this system works and how well I like the GroVia shells. I like how trim the fit is and the materials are definitely high quality. The fact that the the inserts snap in is fantastic. It's great not having to worry about them shifting around or bunching up with an impatient toddler. It's super easy switching out for a clean insert, or you could even treat it like an AIO (all-in-one) and toss the whole thing in the diaper pail if that's more convenient at the time.

I've been loving my GroVia so much I bought 3 more shells and 3 more sets of inserts. With N, that's enough to get through an entire day. I love how absorbent they are and that I can safely use them for naps. I also love how much less space these inserts take up (both for storing, as well as in the diaper pail) compared to the pocket cloth diapers we have.

I should also say that even though there are definite "defects" with the original set I bought for this review, I still can't find what they are even now that I have first quality shells and inserts to compare to. I definitely recommend these to everyone now.

post signature

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Etsy Shop Sale

For a limited time, I'm offering a 25% off your total purchase from my Etsy shop when you use code ACL25. If you've been eyeing one of these super soft blankets or taggies, now is a great time to snag one!

Click here: A Cloth Life: the shop or the shop tab at the top!

Thanks and happy holidays!

post signature

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BabbaBox: A Box of Fun

If you've never heard of BabbaCo and the BabbaBox, you are in for a treat today. Living here in the PNW, we're used to spending a lot of time indoors from about... October through March, with a few super nice days thrown in here and there throughout that time. With young kids, it can be a bit of a struggle to continually find fun things to do indoors without destroying the house or your nerves. We were lucky enough to receive our very first BabbaBox in the mail last week, and it is amazing. 
Jessica Kim, creator of BabbaCo and the BabbaBox
The theme of the BabbaBox we received is Sun, Moon, Stars. It included everything from binoculars (which G loves so much, he actually held them in his SLEEP. ALL. NIGHT.), to paper mache, and a wine stopper for me (Even though I don't drink wine, I can still appreciate a good wine stopper). There's even a great app  for your phone or tablet that's provided that ties into the theme. For this box, we got a Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star Piano app that G loves to play in the car. And they really do include everything in the box that you'll need for each project, just like they advertise. 
the BabbaBox
G really went crazy when I told him the box was for him. Like I said, he slept with his binoculars and has been carrying them around with him every day since. I love how there are so many different kinds of activities. It definitely helps to keep the kids excited about what we get to do next, and it really made our time together a little more relaxing because we could just follow the instructions together. 
reading his new book
What's nice about all the structured activites is that it also left room for you to be creative and do things your own way. We just finished our paper mache moon nightlight today and G has plans to paint it. I'm not sure which colors, and I'm pretty sure it won't look anything like the real moon when we're done, but it's fun and G is learning. We're both learning. (On a side note, we managed to blow through BOTH bottles of glue that were provided, thanks to our mad liberal glue application skills, so we used the provided recipe and used flour & water for our second layer. Both solutions worked great.)
inspecting his newly finished moon
It's always nice spending time with each other, but this really gave us the opportunity to spend time together in a different way. Creating something together, making a mess, and waiting for the finished product was so fun. In all honesty, we get to do the same thing when we bake together, but my waistline certainly appreciates the more educational approach. Plus, we do a little bit of a pre-school program at home (just the two of us), and I was easily able to tie this into that.
placing the light inside
We ended up crawling under the table with our moon to get things even darker and have a really good first viewing of our nightlight in action.
voila! our paper moon completed!
G loves his new nightlight and said he wants to leave it on forever. I just think we need to get another BabbaBox for next month.

BabbaBox is a theme-based box delivered to your door that allows you to enjoy a little convenience and inspiration! As any parent can attest, the most important thing you can give to your child is quality time. BabbaBox makes this possible by helping you to save time, money, & mindspace.

Just think! Fantastic monthly activities with ALL the materials for kids ages 3-6. Included in the box are 3 projects + 1 bestselling book + digital download + parent surprise gift!

The best part? Babbabox makes a GREAT unique gift during the holiday season.

Act now! Get 50% off a monthly membership or 50% off the one month only box when you use the code, SWAY100. Offer expires December 31, 2012.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BabbaBox. The opinions and text are all mine.

post signature

Friday, December 7, 2012

December Photo A Day: Pt. 1

We've all seen different photo-a-day type challenges on Facebook and Instagram (if you're on either). With the start of December, of course, came a fresh round. Well, ladies and gentlemen (I'm assuming I have male readers, although I've never actually heard from any), this time I'm taking part. Except, instead of daily posts to Instagram, I'll be doing weekly blog updates. Yaaay! (I'll pretend you're excited for this until I hear otherwise from each and every one of you.)

I found this particular one via a friend on Twitter who was posting via her Instagram account. If you're considering following me on Instagram, you'll be waiting a while as I have yet to jump on that bandwagon (despite the rave reviews).

So here's the challenge, created by @fatmumslim:

And here is my first week of December in iPhone photographs:
Day 1: 8 o'clock
the view while rocking N to sleep

Day 2: peace
my sleeping baby

Day 3: something you held
took a walk in the rain

Day 4: black and white
G's Christmas tree at night

Day 5: looking up
the view from an upstairs bedroom

Day 6: from where you live/country
the Christmas tree capitol of the world

Have you ever participated in a photo challenge? What was you favorite part?

post signature

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gaah - Where have I been?

I know I've been so not here lately, but with the move and the holidays, I really burned through all my scheduled posts and never got around to writing much after. But don't you worry - I've got some more posts I'm working on. Reviews, funny holiday stories, etc. You will not (hopefully) be disappointed! In the meantime, I'll at least announce FORMALLY the winner of my last giveway. Colleen Katte! Congratulations! Colleen was actually notified and contacted last week, so this is no surprise for her at this point, but just in case anyone else was still wondering who the winner was. I'm lame, I know.

Here's a cute picture of N giving herself a pedicure while we watch The Proposal together. Hopefully this picture of our first "girls night" will make up for lost time... even though the lighting is awful. I'm keeping positive!

post signature

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Not Fair

The same night G fell asleep crying "It's not fair" because he wants to load all our things into the car and move back to our house, I found out where Annie's been.

A while back, through means of social media (aka twitter), I found this blogger who is not only an excellent writer, but someone whose writing I could really relate to. You may remember me sharing this post a while back.

Well, I've known for a while that something was up when she completely disappeared from twitter. She's still active on her Facebook page, though, so I'd occasionally get updates there. (Thanks, Zuckerberg, for the inconsistent newsfeed that now has only about 10 of my 200+ friends & likes showing up regularly.) Anyway, thanks to Facebook & blog updates, I've known she's been stressed over some medical testing she's had. Then, the results came. Then, she shared them with us.

Annie, who blogs at Real Mommy Chronicles, who is my age, who has two young children like me, has cancer. Cancer is cancer. There's bad and very bad. In the past month, two people I know have died from different cancers, and two other people I know are still waiting for the all-clear.

(Here is the blog post where she shares this news:

Cancer is not a respecter of persons. It does not only attack the weak, the poor, the unknown. And it's not fair. It shouldn't exist. Wouldn't life be great if it didn't?

There are no guarantees in life, and no guarantee in fighting cancer. Annie is as strong as they come, though. I have every confidence and hope she'll pull through this.

I am a strong believer that a positive outlook and strong hope are key in beating big illnesses (along with appropriate treatments, of course). Will you please join me, along with her readers, friends, and family? Pass along a few words of encouragement and well wishes. Most importantly, share hope. 


post signature

Monday, November 19, 2012

Letting the cat out of the bag...

Once upon a time, I started this blog - a secret from my husband as well as everyone else I know in real life. A few months down the road, I shared my blog with my sister-in-law (the one who had encouraged me to start this from the beginning). I enjoy the anonymity, and I REALLY enjoy not having to worry about offending or embarrassing my husband, but secrets are hard to keep. And they cause wrinkles and grey hairs. And let's face it - I'm not getting any younger.

When I told my SIL about the blog, I made a promise to her and to myself that I would proudly (if not meakly) share this blog (or at least the knowledge that it exists) with my husband once I reach 100 GFC followers. Well... we're there. As I prepare to let him in on this little secret, could you help a girl out? Share this blog with anyone and everyone you think might enjoy what I've got going on here. Encourage people that do to join the blog via GFC, like the page on Facebook, follow me on Google+, and/or follow me on Twitter. The more proof I have that people are genuinely interested in this little blog of mine, the less grief my anti-blogging husband can give me for this.

Help my marriage. Let's get this out in the open.

To show my appreciation to you, and to celebrate an end to this secret, I'm giving away a $20 Credit to my Etsy shop. And just to help sweeten the pot for DH, I've added an entry option for Facebook fans of his company, Vivid Frame Media. Maybe he'll appreciate that (maybe he won't).

Giveaway runs from November 19- November 30. Open to US & Canada! Please refer to Giveaway Rules.
post signature

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful for Fluff Wrap-Up

Before I officially announce the winner of the Thankful for Fluff giveaway winner, I wanted to share what you are all thankful for. I really do believe that gratitude journals help us to be more content and appreciative of the great things we have in our lives. So here we go:

Anonymous - I'm thankful for life! 
  1. Fiddlin' Dandi - I'm so thankful for my wonderful family!
  2. evolker - I am thankful for the cooler weather :) Being pregnant in the summer is not much fun!!!
  3. Knocked Up and Nursing - Thankful for our new baby!
  4. Corinne - Thankful that we have a washer/dryer in home, finally. 
  5. Bekah Kuczenski - I'm thankful for my family :) 
  6. Tiffany Wright - I am thankful for my baby that is due in April, I am also thankful for my incredibly supportive husband and all of our family.
  7. Shannon - I'm thankful for my new little guy who is 4 months old and his big sister.
  8. KFender - I'm thankful for my family. They're amazing.
  9. Laurie - I'm thankful for supportive friends.
  10. Jill - for my family (and I REALLY hope I win this!) I need some flats to stuff in my pocket diapers!
  11. Dana - I am thankful for my three kids and one more on the way! And I am really excited about this giveaway!!
  12. Talia - I'm thankful for my supportive and loving spouse!
  13. Lindsey - I am thankful for good health and a happy family!
  14. Lacey - My wonderful husband and baby boy
  15. StephanieI am thankful for my wonderful Family.
  16. brandi - I am thankful for my husband and our little one on the way
  17. Aubree - I'm thankful for my family
  18. Ruth V. - I'm thankful for my amazing husband and healthy baby! Love the idea of this prize for the flats challenge by the way :)
  19. Linda - I'm thankful for my family's health and happiness.
  20. I wanted to include all the comments, but realized this post was getting WAY too long with over 70 individuals sharing what they're grateful for. I couldn't pick which were my favorites, either, so I just copied the first 20! If you're interested in a little "feel good" karma, head back to the original giveaway post and read through all the amazing comments! Trust me when I say it gives you a little perspective. 
And now to announce the winner! 

Congratulations Monique E.!

You have 48 hours to claim your prize before I am forced to draw again, so check your email!

post signature

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Cloth Life: the shop

If you follow me on Twitter or looked very closely at my business card, you already know what I'm about to announce: I did it! I opened my very own Etsy shop. As much as I wish I could say I'm making and selling cloth diapers, I'm not. I tried my hand at that and we did not see eye to eye. (But I have gained a HUGE amount of respect for those that do make their own cloth diapers. That is a tough business.)

So far, I'm making baby blanketstaggies, and soon I'll have my very own crinkle paper as well. And if you have a baby and DON'T know what crinkle paper is - trust me, your baby wants some.

Here are some sneak peeks at the fabrics available... Don't you just want to snuggle up with these?
sweetheart whales
plaid puppies
rock star
Be sure to look for the finished products over at the shop! If you like something, buy it. Don't forget it's almost Christmas/Hanakuah/your baby's blessing/the birth of your first grandchild/the birth of your 10th grandchild/etc!

Okay, just check out the shop, and share it with anyone you think might be interested. I'd really appreciate it.

The link: A Cloth Life: the shop

post signature

Friday, November 9, 2012

Small & Attainable: Fitness Fridays

If you've been following my Fitness Fridays posts, you've noticed the downward spiral of all things fitness in my life. This is where social media can become a motivator, or at least an aide. I reached out for some advice from my readers and one reader in particular gave me a small routine to build off of.
     Make small attainable goals that make you feel good about exercise. I set a goal to do 
     3 sets everyday of 7 push up, sit-ups, and supermans. Small but doable, then next week 
     add to it.     -Tracy O.

I know it doesn't sound like much, but I did the routine, and I feel better. We all need somewhere to start, and we're not all getting into the Biggest Loser compound. Eventually, I'll put my running shoes back on and hit the pavement. As much as I fight against running, I actually love it. I feel amazing when I'm done. There have been days when I just run and run and don't want to stop. Before getting pregnant with N, I ran my first 10k. My new goal is to run a half marathon by the end of 2013 (that's about 13.1 miles, if you're wondering). I can do that, right?

Anyone interested in joining me? Wouldn't it be fun to train together?
post signature

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PNW Blogger Party Swag

One more post on the PNWB meet-up! The sponsors were amazing, and there were so many cool prizes. I just wanted to do a quick post sharing just a few of my favorite items in the goodie bag all the attendees were given. Seriously, I took a lot more pictures and had a hard time narrowing it down.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I am a PNW Blogger

For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter (or happen to notice which badges, buttons, gadgets are in my sidebar), you may have known that I have been planning on going to the Pacific Northwest Blogger Holiday Party. (That is a mouthful.).
The Paper Mama Blogger Meet Up

Being the overly-ambitious yet quietly-unassuming blogger that I am, I snagged a ticket then went to work creating my very first, very official blogger business card. Please, no criticism of my design. It's already done. If you think it looks terrible, just remember to offer suggestions and guidance the next time around. Thanks. ;-)

The event was organized by The Paper Mama (whom many of you may recognize from that oft pinned tutorial on how to get gorgeous curls using nothing but a simple headband... okay, she's known for a LOT more, but I saw that tutorial LONG before I knew who she was and only JUST made the connection). It was catered by Whole Foods (yum) and held at West Elm. Now, if you're like me, you may think that West Elm is a home decor, etc. store that exists solely online. As it turns out, we were wrong! They really do have brick and mortar stores. They're filled with gorgeous displays of exactly how you might wish your home could be if only you could afford it and didn't have young children in the home who would destroy every material possession you love... maybe that's just me.

Anyway... about the meetup. You would think after working as a professional, successful hair stylist for several years (before having kids) I would know how to interact with complete strangers. You would be wrong again. I have such incredible social anxiety in these types of situations, it is ridiculous. As I stood in line to check in, I just kept thinking "What in the world am I doing here?"

As I approached the first group of bloggers that I felt brave enough to speak to, I'm pretty sure I was on the verge of hyperventilating. I could have brought my inhaler and made jokes about being like Mikey from The Goonies. (If you're too young to get that reference, please do not let me know.) Although, I'm not sure if that would have made things better or worse. As I spoke to these (super nice) ladies, I felt like I had lost all control of my speech. Words were just spewing out of me and I'm pretty sure I was turning a lovely shade of bright red. But then I started getting more comfortable. (THANK. GOODNESS.) I still had some moments of awkwardness throughout the night, but I had nice a time overall. And more importantly - I survived my very first REAL blogger event! Okay, for real more importantly, I met some very cool bloggers in real life.

post signature

Friday, November 2, 2012

Post-Halloween Blues: Fitness Friday

It's time like these, I realize I am a true sugar addict. Along with that, I feel like I've been doing some serious back-sliding since this move. I'm not particularly proud of my eating habits lately... mmm... but they've tasted so good!

It's probably incredibly fortunate, too, that I have no idea where my scale is. I meant to start running again this week, but it hasn't stopped raining and I hate to run in the rain. I left those days behind me with high school.

Anyway, you can imagine where my choices have led me. A path of shame.

But we should never be ashamed when we take missteps on our way to becoming healthier. After all, we're trying to create a lifestyle change, and that's easier said than done.
for just a moment, let's ignore how totally wrong my outfit is for so many reasons, and let's acknowledge that I am out and about with my kids... hunting & gathering candy... in the fresh air!
So, like everything else in my life, it's one day at a time. Eventually, I'll get back there.
post signature

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful for Fluff Giveaway (closed)

It's that time of year where we all try really hard to remember all the fabulous things we can be thankful for. For me, some of those things include my family, friends, and fluff. Obviously, I have a lot of other things to be thankful for, but let's get down to brass tacks.

I'm not just hosting a giveaway, I'm taking part in an awesome giveaway hop!

Etta (Cheerful Homemaker) and Jenny (The Cloth Diaper Revival) have organized a fun hop to celebrate all things fluff (aka cloth diaper) related. How could I not want to participate?

You may have noticed my little poll on Twitter and Facebook a week or so ago. Here is the a-mah-zing (I'm not the only one here who watches Happy Endings, right?) prize I have for one lucky reader this month:

2 - Dritz diaper pins (yellow)

Monday, October 29, 2012

But She Can Hear

Let me start this by saying I am truly 100% grateful that N's hearing impairment is relatively minor. I am grateful that her hearing impairment is the biggest health related issue our family has to deal with. I am very much aware how hard some families, some children, have things. That said, this blog is about my family, our struggles.

From the time N's hearing loss was definitively identified, people have argued with me about it. I've lost count of the number of (well-meaning) family members (my husband included) who would practically jump in her face, making loud noises, and then turn to me smugly as if they'd just proven me and our team of audiologists completely wrong.
yes, she is playing pinball - she loves it, even if she can't see the entire playing field
N is not deaf. She is hard of hearing. The louder you are, the better she can hear you. Her hearing loss is progressive. The higher the pitch, the louder it NEEDS to be for her to hear. Also, I think most people would flinch if someone were to unexpectedly jump in their face. I don't think it's proof of any kind in regard to her hearing. That can't be just me.

"But she babbles, so she's not behind in her speech." Well... she actually tested about 5 months behind in her communication skills. It's not huge, but it kind of is when your life is still measured in months and not years. N's babbling had been almost entirely made up of open mouth sounds. She's having trouble picking up on consonants.
N was recently tested with and without her hearing aids. There were some adjustments made, and I really believe her babbling has been increasing and progressing since.

At this point, the tests are much harder on me than N. It is hard sitting in a room, watching N play while sounds I had been 100% sure N would respond to (especially with hearing aids) have no effect on her (yes, that is with her hearing aids in). It makes her hearing loss more tangible for me. It also makes it more frustrating when no one else seems to understand there really is a problem.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law teaches special education (do they still call it that?) at the elementary level. She is well-versed in how slight the developmental delays can be at this age, and how they can grow exponentially over time if not addressed. She has been one of my biggest supporters in working with Early Intervention.
Yes, N can hear things. Yes, she still has a hearing impairment. Those things are not exclusive.
post signature

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shoes In, Shoes Out: Fitness Fridays

The kids and I took a quick trip to our house this week (yes, the house we seemingly moved out of). My husband is planning on staying there, with an air mattress and very little else, until our renters are able to move in... December 1. Yikes, right?

The worst part is that we're not 100% moved out because of this. We left a lot of little things behind, like my EcoSprout, and these:

Now my (fitness) goal is to run enough to wear these out enough to need new ones by the time my next birthday rolls around in the spring.

Any tips on getting myself motivated to get out and run in the cold wet weather we're having?