Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I Cloth Diaper

A lot of my friends have asked me how I do cloth diapers. So I thought I would share what products I use, how I care for them and what I do & don't like about it all.

The idea of using cloth diapers first hit me when my mother-in-law told me that she had used them (pre-folds with pins & rubber pants) on Ben. It was a great experience for her since she had a diaper service. I started researching cloth diapers from there. I came to find that diaper services are not offered in many cities, but that there are LOTS of different kinds of cloth diapers that can be safely washed at home. I then started reading about all the different types of  diapers out there:

pocket cloth diapers
all-in-one cloth diapers
pre-fold cloth diapers
fitted cloth diapers
one-size cloth diapers (can be pocket or all-in-one)

Then I started reading about how to properly wash cloth diapers. Lucky for me, it seemed that using an "old-fashioned" (ha!) top-loading washer was the best option because it uses the most water. That's what I have! [By the way, I LOVE my washing machine- it is one of my favorite things in my house! I actually thank God pretty often for an automatic washing machine; one trip the backcountry of Nicaragua will make you thankful for a lot of things.] HE front-loaders do work, but I found that many people could not get their diapers as clean as they wanted to in the HE front-loaders; especially not the all-in-one diapers, which is what I decided I wanted to use.

It turns out that there is a store in my area called Cutie Tooties that sells cloth diapers and related products, and they have a wonderfully helpful website. The original owner put lots of great information on there and I still reference it if I have a question.

I decided to go with an AIO diaper because it seemed like it would be a good place to start since the diaper is all one piece: no insert for absorbency, no pins or snaps (I got Velcro) and no cover. We also chose to go with the sized diapers* over the one-size diapers because we knew that we wanted them to last as long as possible (through more than 1 baby).  I researched the brands and BumGenius seemed to have the best reviews. The smalls, mediums and larges also have a "pocket option" so you can insert an extra liner for added absorbency. I went to Cutie Tooties to look at them in person and they had a couple of extra-smalls on consignment so I bought 3. They were so cute & tiny!

About a month before Rush was born, we bought an 18-pack of size small BumGenius AIOs from an online store where I had found the best price. We also bought a diaper sprayer that Ben easily hooked up to the toilet in the bathroom beside the nursery. It has been great! I use a regular trash can with a Kissaluvs brand pail liner for dirty diapers. I use BumGenius detergent as I wash every other day. In my dryer, I have to run 2 full cycles on medium heat in order to get the diapers completely dry. On hot summer days, I run 1 "automatic dry" cycle and then put them out in the sun- the perfect way to remove any stains too! I also sun them in the spring and fall if I can wait a little longer for them to dry. If I am washing every other day, 18 is the perfect number of diapers. If I go a third day before I get to the laundry, I am usually using my last 2 diapers while they are in the wash. So, 18 diapers, washing every 2-3 days is perfect for us. As for accessories, I do use inserts in them night to add absorbency.

I have been pleased with how well the diapers have held up. We are now using the size smalls for the second time. The only issue that I've had is that the laundry tabs on the inside of the diaper that hold the velcro in place while in the wash have started to loosen. This makes the velcro come free in the washer and the diapers get attached to each other and it makes the "loops" fray. But the diapers are still very usable. (I am thinking about trying to sew on some new laundry tabs myself.)

I have loved my AIOs so much that I never have gotten around to trying any pre-folds or fitteds. I have tried one pocket diaper: Rumparooz (liked them, but I just LOVE my AIOs). And I recently bought 3 of BumGenius's newest diaper, "Freetime". I am using them for nighttime.

I never liked the idea of all of those dirty disposable diapers going into the trash. Some argue that it is debatable whether or not cloth diapering is actually "green" since extra water and electricity are used to care for them. I am not sure if we will ever know which has the greater impact. But I feel like I am doing a small part to try to preserve our God-given natural resources.

I am glad that we decided to go cloth. It has been a great experience thus far, not to mention I think that it attributed to Rush being potty trained at 22 months. Another plus is that Rush never had a diaper rash one time, and so far, neither has Lottie. Cloth diapering is a commitment, but I have found that it is very doable & enjoyable!

I think that I have covered the basics. If you have any questions, please ask and I will try to answer them.

Thanks for checking in with our "Fruitful Family."

*In recent diaper "window shopping" I think that I discovered that BumGenius no longer makes the sized diapers. I can only find XS and one-size diapers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sprucing Up!

Well, I have been a little perturbed with blogging lately. Over the period of about a week, I worked on a post that included a simple yoga workout (I have been teaching basic yoga classes for 7 years) with full descriptions of each of the poses. Somehow, the post was deleted! Ugh!

I had also included in that post our memory verse for last week. It is part of a passage that we have building on to: 2 Peter 1:5-7 says,"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. We have already memorized verses 3-4 & 10-11 and plan to do more later. Peter rocks! (Is that redundant?) ;)

I love the progression of verses 5-7: you can't master the next until you achieve the former. The more I have meditated on this passage, I am realizing that the items that Peter lists are in increasing difficulty to achieve. For me, the perseverance is where it all goes ka-put. Every person has something that they struggle with; some spiritual weakness. (I bet you can pick something from this list.) For me it's perseverance, or consistency. I get comfortable and lazy just when things start feeling good; when I have displayed self-control in ONE or two situations [rolling eyes here]. I studied my Bible a few days in a row. I may even declare, "Oh, how blessed my life is!" I start relying on myself, finding my identity in my earthly circumstances, and soon I feel empty and unfulfilled. Eventually [PRAISE HIM!] the Holy Spirit convicts me; I spruce-up my spirit by starting at the beginning again. (I need to write an entire post on sanctification now; I'll save it for another day.)

I want to be clear: I am not a blogger because I think my life is perfect and I believe that other people want to be like me. On the contrary, I want to shout out, "I'M NOT PERFECT, NOR IS MY LIFE!" What I do want people to hear from me is reality. I am selfish- sometimes I love my life too much, but Jesus clearly says,
"If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it." Luke 9:24 NLT
What I am trying to say is that I hope none of you ever think that I am bragging about my little life. I only want to help people realize that we all need a little spiritual sprucing-up every so often (about every 5 minutes for me!), and the only thing worth pursuing is a journey that glorifies Him.

And this prompts me to go ahead and share this week's memory verse:
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
So, I challenge you: figure out what your weaknesses are. They may change from day-to-day. Admit the weakness to God first, and ask Him to help you have the wisdom to consistently defeat it. Then find someone that you respect spiritually (read my post on the importance of community), and share your weaknesses with them. Ask them to pray with you about overcoming them. Read 2 Peter 1:10-11. This can be your motivation for being real with God.

Speaking of sprucing up and motivation, we have been working on our yard all weekend! Ben brought home 3 truck-loads of topsoil and unloaded it shovel by shovel- yes, he's a beast (with a reeeal nice tan)! We had to rip out some shrubs that had gotten a mold last year, and we planted a few annuals for color and one new Cypress tree. AND, after 4 years, we finally put our Nicaraguan lanterns on the front porch. They are very special to us because we bought them on our first mission trip to Nicaragua. I will post a picture of the yard soon!

I got to do some more baking this week! I made King Arthur Flour's No-knead Whole Wheat Bread. I love it for breakfast with some orange marmalade on top! Here's a tuna sandwich I had for lunch one day. I smeared on a little bit of Hummus, piled on quick tuna salad and topped it with baby spinach leaves (a staple in our kitchen- new post topic coming soon).

I also made some delicious cranberry-orange muffins that my sister had given me the recipe for a couple of years ago. It is my favorite muffin to make!

As for what's happening this week, I will be practicing 3 songs for a wedding coming up next weekend. I'll also be getting ready for Freezer Group Swap next Friday! I am still deciding what to make, but I will put it in a post once I do decide.

Thanks for stopping by and checking in with the Mills!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Good Company & Week in a Nutshell, plus 2 recipes!

This past week has been a blur! Ben was out of town Monday night for work and Tuesday we found out that we would possibly have some visitors from the College at Southeastern. I taught a yoga class on Wednesday morning, and Thursday we had our weekly playgroup at the park (more on playgroups in a another post). We also played outside with the neighbors in most all of our free-time each day. Dinner was easy this week since I participated in my first freezer group swap last Friday. Groceries were just the staples; so managing the Restaurant Mills was a breeze.

So, the visitors did come on Thursday night. It was a group of four girls (3 students & 1 wife of a seminary student plus their baby girl) from the college/Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, where my sister and brother-in-law are in ministry. The girls were in town to support a friend who is from our area whose dad passed away earlier in the week. I was blessed watching them make the sacrifice to travel quite a long way on their first day of summer vacation to be here for a sister-in-Christ. They really just wanted to "love on" their friend- and they did. I was also impressed by how seriously these girls took the responsibility of taking care of fellow believers. I am sure that it was a blessing to this girl to know how much she is cared for by her friends.

This got me thinking about how much we need each other as a community. Coincidentally (I know there are no coincidences), I read the chapter in "How People Change" (check out my reading list on the homepage) about community this week. The authors write about how we avoid meaningful relationships because they require a lot of work; that many Christians try to work through life alone, but that is not what God has intended for us. Of course, our individual relationships with Christ are of utmost importance, but when we are in CLOSE community with fellow believers, we are singularly sharpened. James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective." "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another:" Proverbs 27:17 is another reminder from the Bible of how much we need each other.

This subject of community has been on my mind since last fall. It started when I had a conversation with my sister about how tight they are with their "Care Group." I want to study more about community within the church body. It is clear that God is putting the subject at my fingertips: even my pastor's sermon was on the importance fellowship (with Christ & with others) this Sunday! (The sermon should be up sometime this week, but you can check out some others in the meantime!) I hope to post more soon about my thoughts on community.

Our Weekend!
It seems like our weekends have been so busy lately with the marathon in Nashville & Ben's 30th birthday then Mother's Day. So I had really been looking forward to this weekend since our only plan was to go to the National Park to Elkmont Campground on Saturday for lunch with some great friends.

Friday evening we ended up going on a DATE!!! The BBQ & Bluegrass event was happening, so we went and walked around downtown, got some BBQ, a funnel cake & homemade strawberry ice cream (I need to run a marathon). It was nice to have some time out without the kids. It seems our only alone time lately is in our living room after both kids are in bed. But I'll take that over nothing!

The picnic at Elkmont was awesome! I was nervous about the kids not getting naps, but it all worked out fine. The weather was perfect; the fellowship was great and so was the food!

The kids fell asleep in the car on the way back, and we took the scenic route home- such a pretty drive! Ben mowed the yard when we got back home while I got the kids ready for bed. Once we got the kids to bed we ate our pizza and watched "Top Gun" via Netflix! I hadn't seen that movie in years, and it still cracks me up! It was a fun date-at-home. I also made one of our date-at-home staples: homemade chocolate chip cookies.
1 stick of butter @ room temperature, 3/8 cup packed dark brown sugar, 3/8 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 large egg, 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional), 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350*. Mix butter, sugars, vanilla & egg with mixer or wooden spoon until well combined. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (do not over mix). Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Using a teaspoon sized regular spoon, scoop out 12 heaping spoonful portions onto baking sheet. This will use about half of the cookie dough so you can refrigerate the rest for later. Bake for about 8 minutes. Let stand on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes before you gobble them up with a cold glass of milk!

That reminds me: since supper was so easy this week, I got to make one of Ben's favorite treats on Friday: homemade banana bread.
1 stick of butter (I always bake with unsalted, but salted would be fine), 2 ripe bananas, 1 tsp. vanilla, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 2 cups whole wheat all-purpose flour (self rising can be used; eliminate the baking powder & salt), 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (almonds or pecans would work too) (optional)
Preheat oven to 350*. Cream butter & mash bananas & vanilla into the butter. Add the sugar and eggs, mix well. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt & nuts. Do not over stir! Pour into greased loaf pan; bake for 40-45 minutes. You may need to put the pan close to the top rack of the oven the 15 minutes or so. Just check it!

We made it to church on time for Bible Study for the first time in a while! I think it was a relief for Ben since he is always rushing off to help teach in 3rd grade. Church was great, as always, and we came home after the service was over- something we rarely do. It was nice to be home for the afternoon on a Sunday. I TOOK A NAP! And on that note, I think I'll stop rambling...

Any of you have a great small group that you love? Please share!

Love to you all who have taken the time to catch up with our family!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Baby Blog- Keeping my heart in the right place... plus a few of myfavorite things!

So, Ben and I now have 2 children: Rush is 2 1/2 and Lottie is 4 months today. It has been very interesting to see the differences in the two babies; particularly in how they find their "routine." Rush was a very easy baby as far as predictability went. He is still a very predictable toddler; from when he will eat to when he will "go" to when he will fall asleep. Lottie, on the other hand, has her own ideas about things. You can't really know how long she will sleep at night (varies from 8-11 hours), how long she will feed (still only breastfeeding; solids soon!), or when she will nap (if she does at all)! Needless to say, it has been a challenge for me. I thought all babies would go by the book like Rush did.

 "On Becoming Babywise" is a widely known book that I read before Rush was born and reviewed many times during the first year of his life. The general idea of the book is to establish a daytime routine of feeding time, awake time, nap time so that nighttime sleep is encouraged. Dr. Ezzo has done years of research and has found that this daytime pattern helps babies sleep better at night. I believe it, because everyone that I know that has followed his suggestions has their baby sleeping through the night fairly early on. I do not do everything exactly as Dr. Ezzo suggests, but I am a firm believer in the eat-wake-sleep routine.

Back to Lottie... this little gal came into our world as a sleeping beauty. She slept for the first two weeks of her life! She had some nighttime fussiness like a lot of newborns, but nothing too major. Suddenly, at about 7 weeks she started having trouble napping. I could get her to fall asleep in my arms, but then she would wake up screaming a few minutes after I put her in her bassinet or crib. To make a LONG story short, I decided one day to see what would happen if I put her on her tummy (gasp!). She took three 1 1/2-2 hour naps that first day! HALLELUJAH! She hasn't been diagnosed, but I think she has "silent reflux."

There are still days when she doesn't nap well, but I have had to just go with it. I could write an entire post on how her lack of napping affected me. Boy, did I let my heart get in the wrong place those days. I was so stressed out, unproductive, mean to Rush and exhausted. One day, during a frantic phone call to Ben {I don't know why I try to make him my holy spirit sometimes, but that's a whole entire other post!} he said, "You just have to remember 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18." I knew that verse; it was one we had memorized together. I started bawling. First, because he called me out and I was ashamed, and second, because I was so thankful that God has blessed me with such an amazing husband. I sometimes still get cranky and lose my temper when Rush won't stay in his bed or when Lottie won't stay asleep without me holding her. But I try to make that verse my mantra:"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

Do any of you have circumstances that arise that turn your heart away from Jesus's? How do you turn it back to the right place?

Some of my favorite baby products:
Moby Wrap
Schwinn Turismo Double Jogger
BumGenius! Cloth Diapers
Sophie the giraffe
"God Made Me" DVD (and others)

Some of my favorite Mommy Products:
Glamourmom nursing camisole
Motherhood Sleep Bra (I wear it all the time, not just for sleeping)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Storing up The Word & storing food

"I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11 ESV

Ben has been memorizing Bible verses & passages every week since last fall! I joined him in January and have been trying to catch up, so I double up some weeks. This week's passage is Colossians 1:15-16:

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him."

It has been challenging some weeks to really meditate on the verse or passage. It's easy to just memorize the words for "habit" or memorize just to say I did it. But when I am motivated by a desire to know Him and have a heart filled with His Word it is very fulfilling. Here's what Oswald Chambers says about "habits." (It's a short read- click it!)

Speaking of Ol' Ozzie, Ben and I have also been reading "My Utmost for His Highest" daily devotional separately so that we can discuss it every day. I HIGHLY recommend it! It is hard to grasp sometimes because of the language of the day it was written in, but it is so to-the-point and in-your-face. It is very relevant and thought-provoking, and it doesn't take long to read. Ben got me the journal version for my birthday!

I have to say that memorizing scripture and having a serious spiritual subject to discuss has been GREAT for our marriage. Sometimes, you need a conversation starter, and what better conversation is there to have than one about our reason for being?! If you're not doing something relevant to eternity with your spouse, I would urge you to start today!

My first freezer group experience!

So, I have a friend that invited me to join her freezer group. I had heard of freezer groups before, but had no idea how they work. Basically, a small group of ladies meet once a month and swap meals that they have prepared and frozen ahead of time. We have 7 members currently (1 member is taking the summer off), so we prepare 6 of two different dishes (12 total) to swap. This month, since it is my first time, I tried to keep it simple. I made homemade Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken Tenders (recipe below) and Rachael Ray's Cheesy Hashbrown Chili Casserole I hope they are well-received! I brought home some yummy sounding stuff too! So far we have eaten sausage biscuit bites, stuffed shells & taco quiche. The shells were amazing! Rush ate three at a time! I want to get the recipe from the gal who made them. I am looking forward to trying the remaining 10 dishes in my freezer! I will keep y'all updated on how it goes.

Anyone have any good freezer recipes???

Here's the Teriyaki Recipe:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken tenders (I am sure breasts or thighs would do fine too)
1 can (6 oz.) pineapple juice (sold in cases of 6)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 TBsp sugar
1 TBsp minced fresh ginger or 1.5 tsp ground ginger
1 TBsp minced garlic or 1.5 tsp garlic powder
1 TBsp oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1 TBsp molasses
24 cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 cup chopped broccoli (optional)
1/2 cup matchstick carrots (optional)
steamed brown rice (about 2 cups will do)

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except rice. Cook on high for 2-4 hours until chicken is not pink and veggies are cooked crisp-tender. Yummy!


I am still kind of surprised at myself for wanting to start a blog based on our family, but it hit me one day, and I figured, why not?! We're cool! ;) People might want to know what's going on in our lives here in the Mills house.

The ideas that I've come up with so far are here in no particular order:

updates on what's going on spiritually: scripture memory, sin struggles, Bible study, Rush's (and Lottie eventually) Bible learning, disciplining our children, book reviews/comments, friendship, marriage, family in general, etc.

updates on our activities: church, playdates, vacations, Ben's races, aerobics/yoga, PEP Moms, Ben's work

updates on food in the Mills house: meal plans, my freezer group, grocery lists, new recipes, baby food recipes & tips

Baby Blog: cloth diapering, breast feeding, baby food-making recipes & tips, feeding/sleeping, routine, pregnancy, growth & development, toddler activities, product reviews

cosmetic and household product reviews, tricks, and tips.

I am hoping that some of you out there will enjoy my ramblings and maybe even learn something useful. I want to be open & honest about who I am as a Christian wife & mother, stay-at-home-mom, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law & auntie. I desire for my life to be proof that "the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22 Hence, the name of our blog, "Fruitful Family."

Well, Lottie's awake; time to feed! ;)