Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Year of Gains & Losses

Elias just had his 1st birthday on February 25th and i've been thinking about how much EVERYTHING has changed since he's been in our lives!  I know everyone says this, but I truly cannot imagine life without Eli and I thank the Lord daily for the blessing he is!  I'm incredibly grateful that he is healthy, happy, and smart too!

Here are some lists of things that came to mind as I thought about the things we've gained & lost over the past year since Elias Tyler was born...


  • another member of our family
  • pure JOY
  • lots and lots of toys
  • LAUNDRY - who knew something so small could produce so much laundry (especially with the cloth diapers...so worth it though, what's one more load?!)
  • messes - check out the birthday cake pics below for one fun example!
  • giggles galore
  • slobbery kisses
  • more love than I ever thought possible
  • poop
  • quick, ninja-like parent reflexes
  • a schedule controlled by Eli (feedings & naps especially)
  • pictures, pictures, & more pictures
  • arm strength to haul around all the extra weight (Eli is 27 lbs now!)
  • diaper bag - contains diapers, wipes, changing pad, snacks, toys, extra clothes, wet bag, nursing cover, spit rag/receiving blanket, sippy cup, and more
  • those precious quiet moments where Eli falls asleep on me and just sinks into my arms when I pick him up
  • excitement for the little things - everything from a smile to learning a new skill


  • freezer space - it's full of breastmilk (i've even had to store some in a friend's freezer)
  • sleeping in - oh how I miss this!
  • "guest" bedroom - living in a 2 bedroom apartment leaves no more room for friends/family to stay over unless they're okay with the couch
  • 65 pounds - 35 pounds that I gained during pregnancy (10 lbs. of that was baby) and another 30 lbs. below my pre-pregnancy weight!
  • ability to keep anything small, breakable or sharp lower than 3 feet
  • the freedom to just "get up and go" or run an errand without having to coordinate schedules and pack a bag
  • time with my hubby - have to be much more purposeful with this one

I could go on and on...

Being a mommy has been the greatest joy of my life and I cannot wait to see what the future years have in store!

Here are a few pictures from Elias's birthday party...ENJOY!

The cake layers - the night before

The spread w/ balloon topiary centerpiece

Balloon banner was my inspiration (from pinterest)

smoked chicken wings from D. Rowes & chicken salad croissant sandwiches

Raspberry lemonade punch

The Cake...this was Eli's piece :)

cake & cupcakes
The cupcakes were a rainbow of colors too

And let the eating begin (the pictures speak for themselves)...

Another birthday project...balloon covered #1 door hanger to greet the party guests

One final birthday project...Balloon topiary centerpiece

Friday, January 20, 2012

JOY...in the many sense of the word

Last weekend we stayed home for the first weekend in a LONG time (below are some of the projects that got completed during that time).  It's been a busy and difficult season of life! Between Thanksgiving, 2 Christmas weekends, and my grandma's funeral we've been traveling a lot!  Add on fairly demanding full-time jobs and Chad's dad battling stomach cancer and this season has been (is) hard on us all, even Eli.  Who on top of the lack of routine, has been growing and learning a TON, getting close to walking, gotten 4 new teeth, and is experiencing separation anxiety and just overall clinginess...which has caused a lot of nighttime wakings and very early mornings for mom and dad.  Oh the joys of parenthood :)

But in all seriousness, it is a JOY!  Life has been hard, but I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am and how thankful I am for sooo many things in life!  I have a merciful savior who is ALWAYS by my side, a loving husband (who isn't quite to Jesus status, but he's pretty good, lol), a healthy happy baby boy, and an amazingly supportive group of family, friends, and coworkers!  I've been thinking about joy a lot lately...that was my grandma's name and she really did have joy in her heart as she battled Leukemia, even till the very end!  I love you grandma Joy and will miss you terribly!

I read a simple verse the other day that nearly brought tears to my eyes and encouraged me greatly! Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." This verse really spoke to me and I think it can be applied to many situations.  Ultimately it means to not give up doing good to others and sharing God's love in order to reap souls for the Kingdom of God!  However, personally it is a good reminder to persevere...all things in life are just for a season (even if you suffer through something your entire life...that's only a glimpse of time compared to eternity!).  As a mother I can seek to not become weary in doing good in order to reap the harvest of healthy, God-honoring children.  As a teacher I seek to do the same; guide my students not only academically, but socially and spiritually as well.

I'll take off my preacher/teacher hat now...here is the domestic/creative side of me.  I have wanted to put up a collage of pictures on this wall since we first moved into our apartment in August...it just got done!  I also want to give props to my wonderful hubby who endured the process of picking out pictures, then nearly an hour in Hobby Lobby trying to decide on frames and other wall art and then helped me hang them all!  He also spent at least 30 minutes in JC Penny with me trying to decide on curtains...so many options and so hard to imagine how they will look once you actually get them home!  I feel like we did a pretty good job and it all matches while still having a somewhat random feel that I was hoping for! :)

Random collage of family photos - This is a wall i've wanted to fill since we moved into our new place in August!

Side-by-side of my big preggo belly with our wedding rings on it & Elias's little feet holding our wedding rings...Love it!

Our living room finally coming together...these are our new curtains, with some wall art and pillows that used to be my grandma Joy's!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cloth Diapers are Easy & Inexpensive!!

As most of you reading this already know I LOVE my cloth diapers!  My favorite cloth diaper store, Cottonbabies, is putting on a contest for people to share why cloth diapering is easy and inexpensive...this is my entry and my story...enjoy!  At first I loved Cottonbabies because they had lots of great products, free shipping, and I was able to visit one of their retail stores in St. Louis and was SO impressed with their helpfulness as I sought to figure out the best options for me and my growing family!  With continued newsletters and updates from Cottonbabies, i've looked further into the company and it's owner Jennifer Labit and I have only grown to LOVE Cottonbabies all the more after seeing the many ways they seek to help low income families, provide high quality jobs in their manufacturing plants, and overall run their business with integrity. I am not receiving any compensation for this blog post, but if I win you could win too...so check out the contest and leave me your comments!

The thing that first attracted me to cloth diapers was the financial savings!  I had heard how much less expensive cloth diapers were as well as better for the environment.  While I love helping the environment (i'm a middle school science teacher), this was not really my motivation.  Being a teacher and my husband working for a church, our monthly budget is pretty tight.  All the expenses that come with having a baby can really add up!  We were already living at the maximum of our budget and thinking about adding hundreds of dollars a month in baby expenses like diapers and formula wasn't a possibility (for this reason, and many others, I also decided to breastfeed).

So, now the research began!  I was convinced of the benefits of using cloth diapers, and my husband was mostly on board, but now I had to find a husband-friendly cloth diaper to use in real life!  Realizing changing diapers is something we are going to be doing on average 8 or more times a day for the next 2 years (at least) left me thinking..."this cloth diaper thing has to be easy and convenient or this isn't going to work!"  There are SO MANY brands and options out there that it is quite overwhelming at first but I was able to narrow it down to the main modern cloth diapering options...

1) Sized cloth diapers - These are cloth diapers you buy in different sizes (like disposables) to fit your baby as he grows (for an example check out bumGenius' newborn all-in-one diaper).  Realizing you'll need more newborn sized diapers than larger ones, this is a good option to get a custom fit without too much added bulk.  Sized diapers can include "fitted" cloth diapers (simply meaning it has elastic leg openings and some sort of closure at the waist) or prefolds that each require the use of a waterproof diaper cover to go over it.

2) One-size cloth diapers - These are one cloth diaper that adjusts in sizing to fit babies as they grow.  The same diaper your baby wears as a newborn will fit until they potty train (usually from about 8-35 lbs.)  Depending on the brand, they adjust in size using either snaps on the front of the diaper or elastic around the legs and back of the diaper.  These can come in a pocket-style diaper, where absorbent inserts are "stuffed" into a pocket built into the diaper between the soft, wicking layer against baby's bottom and the waterproof outer layer (Example:  bumGenius 4.0).  You could also find a one-size diaper cover that you use prefolds with or a hybrid diaper that has a variety of absorbent inserts you could use, including a disposable liner (Examples:  Econobum or Flip System).

3) All-in-one cloth diapers - These come in sized cloth diaper options or one-size options but rather than being 2 separate pieces requiring a diaper cover or having a pocket that needs to be stuffed with absorbent inserts, these diapers are all one piece.  The waterproof shell and absorbent inner portion are connected, allowing for an easy and more babysitter-friendly option.  However adding absorbency may be more difficult and drying time will be increased.  (Examples:  bumGenius Elemental & Freetime)

(If you can't tell I love to teach...hopefully this overview has helped you to understand what options might be a good fit for you and your family, it took me months of cloth diapering to figure all of this out!)

Back to my story...

After some research, we decided on the bumGenius 4.0 one-size pocket-style cloth diaper!  This diaper sells for $17.95 (decorative prints sell for $19.95).  That may sound like a lot of money for one diaper, but remember our son will wear this diaper until he potty trains (and hopefully future brothers or sisters will wear it too!)  We have about $450 worth of cloth diapers and diaper supplies (cloth wipes, wet bags, diaper pail & liner).  We were blessed to receive many of these as baby shower gifts, so our cost was actually much less.  However, considering the few packages of disposable diapers I have purchased (for extended trips and such) it is easy to spend $20 a week on average (depending on the age of your baby) for disposables.  So, by 25 weeks old we had already easily recovered the expense of what our cloth diapers cost.  And for those of you who are saying, "What about the cost of all the extra laundry," we have only had to buy two boxes of cloth diaper detergent (just $12 each and our son is 10 months old), and the water cost of doing an extra couple of loads a week is miniscule!  Add in the savings for using cloth wipes and financially this is by far the best decision we could have made!

But, like I said...this has to be easy too!  I've had tons of questions...What do you do with the poopy ones? How do you wash them? What are all the different inserts and how do they work?  Do you have leaks?  Is it really as easy as disposables?

For starters, i'm a full-time working mom and I have a very helpful husband, but he works full-time too and I do all the laundry at our home!  My daycare provider has no problem using our cloth diapers (I provide ready-to-go clean diapers for her every day and a wetbag for her to send the dirty ones home to me in).  For me, the only "extra" part about cloth diapering compared to disposables is the laundry.  So, here is my laundry routine...and for the record, if I can do this, anyone can!  I have 22 bumGenius 4.0 cloth diapers (some with snap closures and some with hook & loop closures - there are pros and cons to each, but thats for another blog post).  Because I have to have an entire days worth of diapers ready to go the night before (My husband gets our son up and to daycare each morning, so I pack his diaper bag the night before) I wash a load of diapers every 2 days.  I simply throw the load in the wash after I put my son to bed at about 8pm and after they're clean I throw the inserts, wipes, and wetbags into the dryer and hang the covers to dry on our drying rack overnight before I go to bed.  Everything is dry by the morning.  I like to have my diapers pre-stuffed and ready to go when it comes time to change my son's diaper, so I will usually wait till I get home from work that evening and while my son is playing I will sit on the floor next to him and take about 5 minutes to stuff the diapers with the absorbent inserts...that's it, they're ready to go!

As far as actually using the diapers, they go on the exact same way as a disposable (especially if you have the hook and loop closures).  The only difference is when you change the diaper, instead of throwing it in the trash, you put it in the diaper pail (which for me is just a trashcan with a pop up lid and a reusable waterproof diaper pail liner in it that gets washed with all the other diaper laundry).  When we're out of the house the same thing applies, except you put the dirty diaper into a smaller wetbag that I carry in my diaper bag.

The handful of times I have used disposables I cannot wait to get back to my cloth...here are a few of the reasons why:
- They are WAY cuter (I know it seems silly and superficial, but the colors and prints brighten my day!)
- They smell WAY better (Disposable diapers stink the moment my son pees in them...I hardly ever have any smells with the cloth - only his morning diaper after 12 hours of sleeping)
- They are gentler on my son's bottom (He has never had a diaper rash in 10 months!)
- And most important they contain his poop WAY better! (Especially that newborn breastfed poop. We almost never have a leak with the cloth, but EVERY time we have used disposables for more than a day we have had a blow out! Yuck, who wants to deal with that all the time?!)

So, what about the poopy diapers?  When my son was exclusively breastfed it was great because no rinsing was required...it all went in the wash and came out clean with no extra effort.  Now that he has more "solid" poop, before putting the dirty diaper in the pail you have to either dump the poo in the toilet (sometimes it just falls right out of the diaper) or rinse it off into the toilet (My husband installed a homemade diaper sprayer that attaches to the toilet, but you can also buy one at cottonbabies...I would highly recommend getting this, it makes clean up a breeze).

One final "gadget" i'd highly recommend is a cloth wipes warmer.  We have a Prince Lionheart brand wipes warmer that keeps the wipes ready to go when we need them.  I use just plain tap water to moisten the wipes and put them in the warmer...that's it!  You can use a bottom cleaning solution or any number of bottom sprays, but I found that to be more than I wanted to deal with (remember this has to be easy!)  We use the wipes up within a couple days so mildew has never been an issue.

Our diaper changing station:

We attached a small shelf to the side of the changing table to put extra wipes and wipe warmer on and diaper pail fits conveniently below the shelf.  Diapers, wetbags, and extra inserts (the diaper comes with 2 sizes of absorbent inserts) fits easily in the top 2 drawers.

Our entire stash of cloth diapers hanging to dry...aren't they cute?!

I could go on and on, but with a little knowledge about what type of cloth diapers are best for your family and a few essential diapering products, using cloth is truly as easy as disposables with so many added benefits!

...and because I can't resist, here are some photos of my little man in his cloth diapers over the past 10 months!

1 month old - my big healthy baby!

2 1/2 months old - so happy!

4 1/2 months old - cloth diapers w/o the absorbent insert works great as a swim diaper!

6 1/2 months old - snuggling with momma!

6 1/2 months old - smiley!

9 months old - growing up too fast...glad the diapers grow with him!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Semi-homemade Christmas

So, i'm not super crafty and creative but I enjoy trying when I have time.  Of course when money is tight it's sometime necessary to be creative with Christmas gifts.  Pinterest has helped me be a bit more creative, so I thought i'd share a couple of my pinterest-inspired Christmas gifts (I can only post some of these advance because others may see this and ruin the Christmas surprise).  Also a given that when it's your child's first Christmas...everyone gets a picture of your kid...and no one can say they don't like your gift! :)

 Scrabble letter tiles connecting my entire family...gift for my parents!  Me and each of my siblings names coming off "Scarbrough" (my maiden name) and includes grandkids and spouses (soon-to-be-spouse).  Made a few other versions of this not shown here too!  Got this shadow box frame 12"x12" for $5 at Goodwill and ordered a set of Scrabble letters for around $6...scrapbook paper background I already owned!

Elias' first autograph...this fits perfect in his sports themed bedroom and makes a great gift for our baseball loving family!  This was a fun one to create...also made ornaments with his handprint!  I already owned the paint and just bought baseballs for around $2 and autographed baseball holders for $3!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lessons I'm Learning

Lessons i'm learning (in no particular order)...

  • Being mature and disciplined is hard work and isn't fun, but allows you to do so much more of what is truly important!
  • Diaper sprayers are soooo worth it when it comes to cloth diapering 
  • Doing a little laundry everyday helps it not to get quite as overwhelming
  • 8 months olds can grab and spill something before you even get it set down
  • It doesn't really matter if the schedule changes every day as long as your family gets time together and has what they need
  • The story of Jonah in the Bible is much more than just for a kids' Sunday school class...good life lessons!
  • Watching your man in all his strength and masculinity, compassionately caring for your baby is every wife/mom's dream come true!  
  • Keep things in perspective
  • When you have 5 classes worth of lesson plans to prepare, it's okay to only be ready for the next day and maybe only a few minutes ahead of the kids...most of the time they won't ever even know
  • There is no better sound than the giggle of a baby
  • When given the opportunity, middle school kids can have very deep and meaningful conversations
  • Living life in community with other imperfect people is really messy and difficult but absolutely essential and totally worth it!  I'm thankful for a church family that does life and ministry this way
  • I've always known this, but never cease to be amazed at how true this is...I have been redeemed by a loving Savior and am BLESSED beyond belief!!

I'd love to hear any of your lessons...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Family Outing

Tonight was absolutely gorgeous weather and we took advantage of the evening we had together as a family (they are few and far between) and went for a walk!  I really love our new apartment by the way and when we were out and about we discovered all sorts of cute little nature spots and peaceful neighborhoods to walk around.

Elias generally sits back and chills out when he's riding in his stroller.  Which is so funny because normally he is an outgoing smiley baby, but when he gets in his stroller (without his carseat) he just sits back, completely emotionless and goes along for the ride.  He loves to watch everything and has always been an observant baby, so I guess the times when he gets to ride facing forward in his stroller he takes full advantage of this.  The one pic with a smile below was coaxed out of him with lots of silly faces by mom and dad, probably quite funny to any passers by! :)

This might sound silly, but I really enjoy days where I don't have to put on any makeup.  Now I know I don't ever HAVE to wear makeup, but you know what I mean.  Even if i'm going to be out running errands, as long I don't have somewhere that I have to go or an event i'm attending I won't put any makeup on and today was one of those nice relaxing days!  :)

Here's some pictures to document our family outing...ENJOY!

 Chad pushing the stroller while I made faces trying to get a smile out of Eli

 Elias hung his arm over the edge of the stroller for about 25 minutes of our walk, just chillin not even caring about the toy we hooked on to his stroller for him!

Momma & Eli (arm still hanging)

Some self-taken family photos...amazingly Eli was looking at the camera! 
(even with a slight smirk below)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Old Fashion Momma

It's been a month now since my grandma passed away.  Not a fun or positive way to start a blog post I know, but it's been on my mind a lot the past couple days.  As I was thinking back on the quick overnight trip to Mound City, MO for my grandma's funeral my mind went to the many beautiful things about that time.  I got to see so many of my relatives, most of which live out of state in Florida, California, New Jersey, Georgia, etc.  It was a great time to connect with the Scarbrough family who, despite their many dysfunctions, love each other deeply and most of whom have a strong, personal relationship with Jesus!  My Aunt boldly preached the gospel at Grandma Bonnie's funeral and shared about the amazing woman my grandma was and the incredible 88 years of life she had!  She raised 3 talented, wise, God-fearing children (all of who were prodigal kids who came back to God later in life...a lesson to never give up on God or your kids!)  I hope I can have just some of the legacy my grandma has left behind!

While in Mound City at the local restaurant (really one of the only ones in town) I had a chance to chat with a more distant relative who was just enamored with Eli.  She was a mom to a big baby of her own (her children now all grown with kids of their own).  I've found moms that birthed large children all have funny stories to tell and are very partial to big babies...funny how much this comes up when people find out how old Eli is compared to his size.  These moms all have advice for me and tell me how their kids grew up to be, it's fun to hear these stories and somewhat humorous at how passionate people get about it.  Most of these moms ask me all the basic questions (did I have a C-section? am I breastfeeding? etc.) and when they find out I gave birth naturally think i'm crazy, but this mom was seriously giving me high fives...it was funny but also very encouraging.  She was quick to tell me not to let people convince me big babies need solid foods any earlier or that they should be supplemented with anything besides breastmilk and was relieved to hear that I and our pediatrician agreed on this point.  So, this woman and I are somewhat bonding by now, and then she discovered I use cloth diapers.  She was thrilled to pieces and amazed at the progress made in cloth diapering products today and called me an "old fashion momma!" Lol!  I've never really thought of it like that...does having children naturally, feeding them the way God intended and using reusable diapers make me old fashion?  

I don't know if i'm old fashion or not, but I took all of this as a compliment and realized just how much I have loved my experiences of bringing Eli into the world and caring for him as much as I can without interruption from our modern society.  Not that the modern conveniences are bad, i'm thankful for things like formula and medical technology when it's needed (and trust me I like many of my modern baby toys and gadgets that make my busy life easier).  But, I know for me it has been such a beautiful connection time with my son to breastfeed (this has truly become one of my favorite things, and trust me it wasn't always easy).  It is the healthiest thing for both of us and even now that i'm working full time and it's not convenient anymore, it's still one of the best gifts I can give Elias as a good start in life, so that makes all the pumping so worth it!  I love our cloth diapers and don't even really mind the laundry (maybe i'm a weirdo).  Of course the money savings for these 2 things are amazing too!  Now that i'm just rambling I will stop, but I guess the moral of my story is...naturally caring for your children shouldn't be an "old fashion" thing...why am I some sort of phenomenon to women I meet all the time?  I know many of my like-minded mommas out there have experienced this too, I guess i'm just shocked at how often I come across people like that who think i'm the crazy one...this is how God intended it to be, it shouldn't be so weird!