Monday, December 31, 2012

Woolzies Dryer Balls Review & Giveaway!

I was recently given an opportunity to try some Woolzies Dryer Balls, to review. I received a box of 6 dryer balls, enough for a large load to try, and Woolzies will also be giving away a box to one lucky blog reader!

I received a box of 6 Woolzies, enough for a large load, though they do recommend 8 balls for X-large loads. I admit, at first I was hopeful, but skeptical. Woolzies are meant to work much like fabric softener, but without the harsh chemicals.  Woolzies are meant to soften naturally, reduce drying time by up to 25%, reduce static, help eliminate wrinkles, and are chemical free, hypoallergenic, and safe for people with wool sensitivities. While these are all things I really like, I almost expected to be disappointed. Overall, I was not disappointed at all.

The Woolzies balls look very much like large tennis balls. You simply toss all six in your dryer with a load of laundry, and dry like normal. They are very simple to use, and can be left in the dryer so they are all set to go for future loads. They are also guaranteed to last for 1,000 loads, which (unless you're a laundry doing freak), is a long time! A box retails for $35.99, with free shipping to anywhere in the U.S.A and Canada, and $6.95 shipping world wide. Considering the amount you might spend on a box of dryer sheets in a year, I feel this price is a good deal.

Now to talk about my experience with Woolzies thus far. I typically have a difficult time getting our clothes, and especially our cloth diapers dry in one cycle. I have to either turn the dryer temperature to a higher setting, or run more than one cycle. Both of which are terrible for the environment, something I actually do care about. Plus high heat just isn't good for our cloth diapers. So I decided to give it a try with the Woolzies, and set the dryer temperature back to low, and reduced the drying time. Guess what! Everything was dry in one load in about 60 mins, whereas it usually takes at least 90 minutes on medium or high heat to dry completely. Honestly, that alone is enough to sell me on the product.

I admit, I'm not one to care much about wrinkles. I'm a stay at home mom after all, so what do I need to worry too much about wrinkles for? Heck, most days I'm lucky if I get a chance to get out of my pajamas. Even so, I decided to pay attention, because this is something Woolzies supposedly helps with. Our clothes came out of the dryer, not completely wrinkle free, but with noticeably less wrinkles than normal. I even let a load sit without folding for awhile, and they still didn't wrinkle. I bet this is in part because our clothes were actually dry, and not still damp.

The Woolzies are also rather quiet. Our dryer is in the basement, so it wouldn't be an issue for us if they were loud. I admit, I sort of expected six balls bouncing around the dryer to be a bit noisy. I took a few moments to listen though, and couldn't even tell they were in there. They are fairly soft, so I guess that makes sense. Still, a nice feature for anyone considered about noise.

The only thing I wasn't sure about with the Woolzies at first, was static. The first couple of loads I dries using the Woolzies actually came out of the dryer with a noticeable amount of static. To be honest, I can't really compare this with how much static you get with dryer sheets, and these loads did include items of polyester, which tends to produce a lot of static. I stopped using dryer sheets a long while ago, due to the chemicals in them. I've also learned that dryer sheets used in the dryer at all ever, just like harsh detergents in the wash, can still leave residue that is harmful to cloth diapers. (So I'll be encouraging everyone here to please not use them.) Anyhow, I was a bit surprised by this static. However, on the upside, the static completely dissipated by the time the clothes were folded. I also haven't noticed any static after the first couple of loads I did using the Woolzies.

So overall, I am very pleased with Woolzies, and will continue using them. If you would like to try them yourself, go ahead and enter the contest below to win a box of 6, enough for a large load from Woolzies.. I'll leave the contest open for 1 week, so until next Monday, January 7th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 28, 2012

Baby's First Christmas

Baby's first Christmas was wonderful. She had fun opening gifts, and we had fun helping her. She really caught on too, the day after she kept going after some of her Grandpa's gifts that had not been opened yet. She also got to touch her first snow. We will have to take her out to play in it soon, she was very intrigued. She even got to do her first painting, including hand prints for her Daddy. She loved it, so I think I've found a new activity for us. Of course, we will be painting mainly with edible things for the time being. There are some foods she likes such as squash, that will probably work great.

Overall, we had a very nice first Christmas as a family. I feel blessed to have such a loving husband and baby girl.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Baby's 1st Words!

Baby girl has been babbling, and umm yelling (haha), for awhile now. She has the sweetest little voice. She can also be VERY loud. She gets that honestly, from her Daddy. I am usually quiet...usually. Lately though, I have noticed she has been trying to say certain sounds at the appropriate times. I have been telling Jeff for a few days that she is indeed saying, "Dada." Last night he finally noticed, as she looked right at him and said it, and I'm not sure who looked prouder, him or baby girl. It was one of our sweetest moments yet. She is also trying "Mama" but so far we just get one syllable, "Ma" and a smile.

This morning, after her Daddy left for work, she sat on the bed looking all around saying, "Dada Dada Dada." She loves him so much, and that makes me one happy Mama. :)

I am also convinced she is saying, "yay!" At least, the other night when we put her to bed she did. She stood up in the bed, put a big smile on her face and said, "yay!" We have been congratulating her for standing, and other various things lately. Oh and believe me it was a challenge for both of us not to laugh at her in that moment. We did tell her she did a good job standing, but it was time to lay down, and laid her back down. I didn't want to completely ignore how proud she was of herself.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Our Favorite Things pt 2

The second item I'd like to talk about, that really was a great investment for us is our kissaluv size 0 v.2.0 fitted diapers, seen here. There are many things we like about these diapers. They are easy to adjust and put on, absorbent, easy to clean, and best of all, they fit baby great. We have definitely gotten our moneys worth with these. It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows either my husband or myself, our baby is lacking in the butt department. So, at nearly 7 months old, she is still rocking her size 0 fitteds. So far, the only diapers we have gotten to fit as well are others I have made, or that have been made for us. We've tried a variety of OS pocket diapers, and no matter what we do, we get leaks.

The one downside to these diapers, or at least I know it to be troublesome for some parents, is that they get VERY wet. I've had some friends try them and say they leaked through in minutes. I'm honestly baffled by this, because our baby wears them overnight, and while the diaper itself is soaked by morning, (she usually wears the same diaper for 10-12hrs), her skin is usually fairly dry. That said, this diaper definitely does work best with a cover.

So, basically what I am saying here is that these diapers have been awesome for us, because apparently fitted diapers work great for babies with small bums.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Green Christmas

This year, we will be having a rather green Christmas, and I don't not mean the weather. With any luck, we will have plenty of snow by Christmas. It's just not the same without it. Besides, our house is FREEZING! If I have to be cold anyhow, I would prefer to do so with something pretty to look at outside. So, while we are having a rather green Christmas, I find myself dreaming of a white one.

By green Christmas, what I mean is, almost all of our gifts will be homemade this year. We are not buying anything for each other, or for the baby. This does not mean we are not having Christmas. We will have a very nice holiday, I am sure. We are simply going to do so without spending money we don't have to spend right now. The baby will not care what she opens this year. I might even wrap up a few empty boxes, just so she can enjoy ripping the paper off of them. Of course, I'll have to think hard about doing this, because she also enjoys trying to eat everything. Still, if she has fun with it, and doesn't actually succeed in eating the wrapping paper, it could be well worth it.

I am actually very excited for our Christmas this year. Baby will be getting some new leg warmers, and a jingle bell photo cube. She might even get a new sweater, depending on how things go time wise. She is also getting some new Christmas themed diapers, a Christmas pajama gown, and a new dress. As for my husband, he will get a gift that keeps on growing, at least for awhile, and that's the only hint I'm giving him. (No, before anyone asks, we are not having another baby.) I think he will like it, actually I know he will. I haven't decided what baby will give her Daddy yet, but I do have a couple of ideas. Still, I'm open to suggestions, if anyone cares to give any.

Making gifts has been a tradition for us. This will be our 4th Christmas together. We have made each other a gift, and/or a card every year. I am hoping this is a tradition we can keep going for many years to come. Something about a homemade gift, really does feel special. They are nice to receive, but more than that, I enjoy making things for others to hopefully enjoy.

Our first holiday season with baby has been a lot of fun. Last night she got to help me bake gingerbread cookies. Lucky girl even got to try one. She loves it, which is not at all surprising. Most importantly though, we had fun.

So, while I will continue to hope for a White Christmas, we will also be happily celebrating a Green Christmas this year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

These are a few of our favorite things. Part 1

I thought it might be fun to write a series of posts on some of the items we have most loved. There really is no reason for doing this, other than to document things we have most loved, and gotten the most use out of. Plus, it helped us a ton to read about other people's experiences with various products. Who knows, maybe some other parents or parents to be, will find our experiences helpful as well.

Up first.. The Lillebaby Nordic Carrier, seen here, We decided to go with the lillebaby nordic over any other soft structured carrier, I admit, in part because of the price. That said, we have been extremely happy with our choice. We have been using it since baby girl was only a few days old, and she has always loved it. We did not get the newborn insert, and didn't need it. We use this carrier while out and about, as well as around the house. It's relatively easy to get on, and comfortable to wear. I can get it on and fastened without any help, which is a definite plus. It also stays on my shoulders, which is a huge bonus for me, as I have shoulders that most things tend to roll off of. There are also 6 positions to carry baby in this carrier; Front facing in, front facing out, 2 different hip carriers, back carry, and with the infant insert a cradle hold. We have now tried all 5 carrying positions that we can do without the infant insert, and she has liked every one of them. They have all been relatively easy for us to use with her as well. The head support is also a great feature. We never really needed it for support much, unless she was sleepy. However, it works great if she has sun in her eyes on a walk, or is just feeling shy while at the store. I can snap that up, and she settles right in. I still put it up when she falls asleep in the carrier, just to be sure her little head doesn't flop around.

Basically, this carrier has been wonderful for us to have. With it, I have been able to do everything from cook dinner to grocery shopping, all while holding our baby.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Adventures in Co-Sleeping

    We are a co-sleeping family, and have been since the day we brought baby girl home. Our original plans were to have her sleep beside our bed in an arm's reach co-sleeper. We brought her home from the hospital, set her in it, and she screamed. For the first few days home, we would try to put her in it on occasion, even for a few minutes. Every time, she would scream. It didn't matter if she was tired, or what time of day it was. She cried a rather heart wrenching cry. It was pretty clear, the co-sleeper wasn't going to happen. Her Dad even went out and spent $60 on one of those snuggle nest, that goes right in the bed. It played music, and womb sounds. She liked the sounds, but did not like being in it. Overall  it was a bad purchase for us. First, they take up a ton of space. Second, our little lady who first rolled the day she was born, figured out very quickly how to kick her little feet over the sides. Third, and most important...she hated it. On the bright side, we gave the snuggle nest to a friend, and her baby did like it. So it wasn't a total waste of money.

    So, we have been allowing baby to sleep in our bed since our first night home. We have been safe about it. Co-sleeping gets such a bad rap thanks to media, when really if it's done safely it's been found to be safer than having your infant sleep in a separate room. I could link to studies on this, but instead I'm including a link to another blog post, which includes such links, at the end of this post. Baby does not sleep on or near any pillows or heavy blankets. She usually sleeps right next to me, and prefers to be in my arms. I am okay with this, as it keeps me more aware of her movements. Another plus has been that she doesn't need to fully wake to nurse. I am aware of her when she starts to squirm and fuss, and thus can get her latched before she fully wakes, making it easier to get her settled back to sleep. There has even been plenty of times when I've woken to find her already nursing, having latched on herself without help. There is something very peaceful about these moments. Perhaps the biggest plus of all though, is that because she sleeps with us, where she prefers to be, our baby has been sleeping through the night since the day we came home. Yes, she wakes up to nurse, but she very rarely fully awakens, or stays awake for more than a few minutes if she does. She is over 6 months old now, and I can count on one hand the number of rough sleep nights we have had. I'd say, we are doing pretty good.

    One thing some people may see as a downfall is the time our baby goes to bed. She likes to stay up late. We are okay with this. I was the same way, as a baby/child, always. Her Daddy was working an 11 to 7 shift, so this was perfect for us. She usually goes to bed anytime between 11pm and 1am, and wakes between 9am and 10am. The only issue we are going to have with this routine now, is that her Daddy is going to be working some 7am shifts. It's only a couple of days per week though, so I am sure we will survive. We see no reason at this point to try to force her onto a schedule that is not natural to her. Maybe we will feel differently if/when we have more children. For now though, as long as she is happy, we'll let it be.

   We also do have her crib side-carred to our bed now. We set this up when she was about 4 months old. She still will not sleep in it, unless I am right next to her, and she can lay on my arm. It does give us a bit more room in the bed though. Plus, now that she's really getting around, she's finding she likes to play in it. Some nights we will turn out the light, and she will wriggle away from me and crawl around in her crib for awhile. She is also working on pulling herself up on things, and has been making a game recently of climbing all over Mommy and Daddy, when we try to go to bed before she is ready. Our bed has turned into a jungle gym lately. This too, is a reason I am glad we co-sleep. I would be a nervous wreck if she was in a crib in a separate room, because I guarantee she would figure out how to climb out.

    Oh we also nap together. Some people say we need to get her to sleep on her own. The thing is, I am sure she would. She will fall asleep in her car seat, or stroller if she is in them and tired. At home though, her down time is also my down time. It's not the time I choose to clean, or do anything strenuous. Some days I do sure, and on those days baby gets worn. We have a small living space, so naps generally work best for her if I am quiet too. Therefore, when she naps, I lay down with her and do something quiet, like read a book, or take a nap too. I think we are all better off this way. She gets plenty of rest, and I get plenty of rest. It keeps us all a bit more peaceful. Sure, we have our exhausting no nap days, but what family doesn't?

    Overall, we are very happy with our decision to co-sleep. It's what works for us. No, it's not what's best for every family. I think, ultimately, everyone has to be able to get a decent amount of sleep for your family to function best. If having baby in their own bed or room is how this can be achieved for your family, then do so. I just happen to like that this is working so well for us. It's certainly made our life easier.

   Now, as a disclaimer, I am not telling anyone they should co-sleep. Everyone should decide for themselves what is the best and safest arrangement for their family. This is what works for us, even if our bed has become a jungle gym to her lately.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baby wants a cookie

I mean, she REALLY wants a cookie. She is interested in a number of foods. Mostly she just wants to play with them, or to try what we have. As for actually eating, she never has more than a few small bites yet. However, cookies seem to be an exception. Whenever she sees a cookie of any sort, she goes crazy. Obviously we don't want her having sugar, or processed foods at all, especially so young. I would love to make her some natural, organic baby cookies, but so far all the recipes I have found and tried have been terrible. I guess I need to get in the kitchen and start experimenting. Am I the only person who has terrible luck with following baking recipes, and great luck with just doing my own thing? I feel so backwards for that.

If you have a recipe for baby cookies that is good, please please please share it with us. We would love to give it a try!

Knit This, Sew That

I am excited to have an opportunity to work on some projects today. I have material cut to sew two more diapers, like the one pictured. I also want to make baby girl a dress or two for Christmas, and knit her a cardigan to wear with them. Along with those things, there are a few other projects I would like to get done. Hubby's sweater is long overdue, baby needs some leg warmers, a dress I knit her previously needs mending, and Christmas gifts need to be made. Basically, I should have no problem finding something to work on today. My only complaint is that our car is in the shop, so I can't go to JoAnn to see about fabric for a dress.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Baby Led Weaning

Now that we've reached 6 months, I expect, any day now, to hear a question along the lines of, "when will you stop breastfeeding?" So, I am just going to take this opportunity to answer that question. We will stop breastfeeding when baby is ready to stop. I am hoping for her sake, that this does not occur before a year at the absolute minimum, and if she goes at least 2 years, even better. Some of you may be thinking it is ridiculous and unnecessary for us to be breastfeeding still, and especially to even consider doing it past 2 years of age. However, there are just too many benefits to doing so, for me as a mama to feel right even considering it any other way.

I've felt this way all along, and yesterday, when discussing for probably the hundredth time with my husband, could have hugged him, when he said how he "doesn't want me to not breastfeed her because our society thinks it's wrong, when there is so much evidence to show how good for her it is." This was huge to me, considering a few months ago he was okay with us breastfeeding until 1 or maybe 2, but thought then we should wean because it would "look funny." If he hadn't been driving our car at the moment, I would have jumped up and hugged him. Perhaps I should do so now. I think I will after I write this.

I know from working as a nanny for other mamas who did extended breastfeeding, that my child will not be developmentally or socially stunted in any way from it. That's just a sad depiction our society puts on a healthy and natural thing. I could post a number of links to sources that have helped us in our decision to breastfeed as long as she wants, however for now I'll stick with just this one,

I would also like to emphasize that we in no way plan to force her to continue breastfeeding beyond a point where she wants to stop. If she wants to stop at a year, okay, if she is three or four, okay. It's up to her, because she will stop when the time is right for her. It's not about what's easiest for us, it's about her, and what's best for her.

This also does not mean she won't have foods. While our plans were to start her on solids at 6 months, we actually started her on them at 5 months 1 week, or rather, that's when she decided she would start. She still gets the bulk of her nutrition from breast milk, and likely will for awhile. However, when she shows and interest in a food, we let her try it. Considering it hasn't been yet a month since she's started on solids, she has a pretty good list of foods she eats. So far, she eats, and likes, apples, applesauce, avocado, yams, winter squash, butternut squash, oatmeal, carrots, pumpkin, and tofu. She does not like baby food, (no complaints here), or bananas. She also likes cookies and pumpkin pie, but for obvious reasons we don't want her having sugar, so she will not be getting those unless I make them without. If she shows an interest in a food, we let her try it. So far, this method is working great for us. If you would like to offer suggestions of new foods to have her try, please do. I love how much she seems to like trying new things.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Who doesn't like giveaways?

I've decided I really need to put my crafty skills to good use, and maybe work towards starting a wahm business. I am sewing our own diapers now, for example. Why not make some for others as well? Of course, it will be some time before I can really get something going. I'd like to explore with more fabrics and patterns, figure out what works best for which babies, you know, make the perfect specimen of a diaper, or at least as close to perfect as possible. What better way to test different diapers and fabrics than to give some away to others to try out? The ONLY catch will be, if you win a diaper I give away, I ask that you please be willing to let me know how it worked for you. I won't be offended if it didn't work at all. The goal is to figure out which fabrics and designs really do work the best. So keep your eye out for periodic giveaways posted on this blog. Maybe we'll even have our first one soon!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Half Year To Our Sweet Girl!

   My name is Angela, and I am wife to a very loving husband, and mama to a beautiful baby girl, who turned 6 months today!  I've been wanting to start a blog on our adventures in parenting, and the joys and trials of having become a sahm in the past few months. Mostly joys in our case, despite at times feeling like I could really use a break. I have very much been enjoying our life.

    Still it almost seems a shame to have not started this blog sooner. I learned so much in the past 6 months, that I could have been sharing with others. For some reason, I really got to thinking about how wonderful my life has been since baby girl was born, May 10, 2012, and also about how many things we've learned, and still have to learn as parents. So I decided, it's time to start blogging.

   I'm not going to make any silly goals, like attempting to post about every little event, or even posting every day. I'm just going to post when the inspiration hits me, and believe me it will hit. I already have a few categories in mind. Hopefully everyone who reads this blog will keep an open mind, and remember just because something works for us, doesn't mean it will be the right way for you. On the flip side, please feel free to offer any suggestions or advice to any tribulations I post about. We understand that your suggestions might not always be right for us either, but we are always willing to listen, and to take everything into consideration when it comes to figuring out what does work for us. All that said, please keep comments respectful, not only to us, but to other readers as well.

    Some of you may be wondering where the blog name came from? I spent ages trying to think up a good blog name. Yesterday, I sat looking at our sweet sleeping baby girl, and suddenly remembered how on the day of her birth, our doctor held her and said, "you really are a perfect specimen." I realized how true this is, she is perfect to us in every way. More than that though, children everywhere are perfect specimens. Everything about every child, from what they look like, to their in it's own way, perfect.

**Stay tuned. Our first official blog post, aside from this intro, will be a fun one!