We've moved ... kind of?

29 October 2014

The kiddos and I are at my parents' house for the week.

We had to be out of our old place by Sunday, but the new place still needed some work, so sometime last week we decided it would be best for me to take the kids on a trip to visit the grandparents. Jacob and my brothers could continue work on the remodel without little hands and feet getting into everything.

We moved out of the house on Sunday, and after a morning spent packing and hauling, we drove the four hours to my parents' house. A real Sunday Funday.

The children were pretty great little sports through the process. Jake got some quality time with his dad's drill and Lucy June squawked happily in moving boxes. Before leaving on Sunday, we ate lunch at the new house and simultaneously tried to decide on a layout for the living room furniture.

This was kind of a stupid idea because Jacob and I never agree on these kinds of things. So after a frustrating hour of scooching the couch around, we decided to save our marriage and kick the can on furniture placement.

At naptime o'clock, I packed the kids into the van, and we waved goodbye to their father. I prayed they would sleep for at least the first couple of hours, but 45 minutes and two interrupted catnaps later, things were looking very bleak.

It basically went like this: Jake would whine, Lucy June start wailing, I would vainly scan the horizons for a Starbucks Drive Thru, and then Jake would coo at his crying little sister: "Oh, Lucy Lu, it's OK. It's OK, Lucy Lu. It's OK, Lucy Lucy." And my heart would melt, and for one sacred moment I would dwell on how precious this stage of life is. Then the whole thing would repeat itself.

The kids eventually slept. We stopped in Austin to have dinner with some family friends and Jacob's brother. And I only had to navigate one scuzzy gas station bathroom after dark, so all in all, it went rather well.

The day ended with us at my parents' house: Jake asleep in my sister's old room, Lucy June asleep in a large cardboard box because I'd forgotten the pack'n'play, and me brushing my teeth in my childhood bathroom while on the phone with Jacob as he recounted all the obnoxious miscellaneous details that are the last bits of packing.

He loaded the crap toys from the yard into the neon green kitty pool and then as the buzzy buzzy cherry on top of the moving Sunday, he hauled his beehive (75 pounds of honey. . . and bees) onto the trailer.

The image of him combing the grass for dingy plastic toys and then muscling that beehive across the yard... I just. Well I love him. We disagree about most of life's trivial things, but we can join together in the hope for lots of bees, lots of honey, and lots of babies.
Pics of the new place soon...if the kids and I ever actually move in...which we won't do so long as the couch is sitting squarely in front of the TV with its back to the rest of the room. I'm kidding...but seriously.

Until then I'll be enjoying myself some quiet time in the rural Texas Hill Country.

5 Faves: Books, Book-T-Shirts and an Out of Print GIVEAWAY

22 October 2014

Linking up with Jenna today for some five favorites.

Yesterday during dinner I polled everyone's favorite books. Here is what I got from the five members of the household.
- 1 -
Robert (my little brother): East of Eden. It's my favorite book I've read recently. I also really liked War and Peace, put that one if it will make me sound cooler. I also like Gone with The Wind, but DON'T put that one.

- 2 -
Jacob: Um. Moby Dick.
Me: Wow, babe. So literary of you.
Jacob: Well, I read it really allegorically, I mean, I'm not literally into whale-hunting...I also love Mark Helprin's The Pacific.

- 3 -
Jake: Is there any kids in Moby Dick?
Jacob: No. But it has whales.
Jake: Any sharks?
Jacob: A few sharks.
Jake: I think my favorite is Smoky the Firefighter AND Busy, Busy Town AND Cars and Trucks.

- 4 -
Me: (Though none of the curious bunch asked me at the dinner table.) Such an impossible question, but if I had to choose I'd probably say Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn because nostalgia: my dad's mother gave me a first edition as a little girl and Francie Nolan and I are tight.

- 5 -
Lucy Juney's favorite book is the illustrated version of Raffi's song "Five Little Ducks" - she quacks whenever she picks up a board book. Granted, her quack is certainly more of a chirpy "mwah, mwah" sound, but she gets her point across and is very pleased with herself.

>> GIVEAWAY: Out of Print Clothing <<

Today, good friends and readers, is Lucy June's first birthday. (Time flying. Growing up too fast. Etc.) And on her birthday we've rigged up a little present from her to one of you!

When Jake was a baby, Zulily was running a special on some Out of Print T-shirts, so I snagged one for Jake. This illustrious one.

Out of Print T-Shirts feature iconic book covers. And their online store is full of super super cute stuff for the bibliophile: like pouches and totes and shirts for all sizes.  (They also donate a book to a community in need for every product that they sell.)

The shirts are soft and durable and adorable, and I just want all of them.

They graciously sent some for the kiddos and we went to the (wait for it) LIBRARY for a photo shoot, and I spent the entire time coaxing them away from the kids computer.
I let Jake pick his own shirt out, so he picked "the outerspace one"...which was fine by me since The Little Prince and I have a history.

Happy birthday, my always very hungry little caterpillar.

I'm so excited to give one of these away to some little person in your life!!

Rafflecopter it below for your own chance to win an Out of Print Kids T or a Onesie.

My Son and His (Ocean) Stories

21 October 2014

When Jake was about twenty months old, I was in the throes of morning sickness with baby number two and I was not a very fun mother. By the grace of God, Jake started watching TV right around that time. He went from never caring about TV to begging for Diego in a matter of weeks, and I went from being footloose and baby-free to doubling over the toilet right around the same time.

So we watched a lot of Diego, but in an effort to keep things in check I wouldn't let us turn the TV on until 5 o'clock. In the mornings, I would have to get creative.

So one Tuesday, in an effort not to plug into Diego at 10am, I decided to take him to the beach (we still lived in LA). We drove to Santa Monica and trudged right up to the end of America. It was February, so the weather was cool and grey, but still beach-able.

We went to the beach often enough, but two things happened that day, that made it more memorable.

First, I let Jake wander down the beach, and I didn't go with him. I watched him and started after him when he'd gotten a little too far away. I wanted to see how long he'd walk before turning around and looking for me.

And he didn't turn around. Not once. He walked for like a quarter mile. He was heading for the lifeguard jeep, and thus my experiment was pretty much doomed from the beginning.

At the time I just thought Jake liked his mother with a healthy side of chopped liver, but I've since been trying to rebrand it as "healthy independence" that resulted from my excellent attachment parenting. Yes. That sounds just fine.

Then another thing happened. A little later - after I carried him unhappily away from the lifeguard jeep and back to our beach towel - I was letting him play a few steps away from me in the damp sand near the surf when a slightly larger wave came in. It wasn't dangerous, just enough to knock him over and get him soaked and freak him out a little bit. He looked for me instantly, and I ran to grab him. He clutched at me.

Wrapped in a big towel, he was then content to sit in my lap for five minutes and watch the ocean with me. I kissed his soggy head about two dozen times as I blissed out in one of the most peaceful parenting moments I'd ever had with my toddler.

He talked about it all day - and then all week - in his little halting speech: "I fall down ocean. I fall down ocean." And together we would remember it. "And mama came and picked you up, and wrapped you in a towel, and then we watched pelicans." "Uhuh. I fall down ocean."

He told anyone and everyone his ocean story. It was his first story.

Lately I've been reading The Whole-Brain Child, and I think this would qualify as a classic example of a little brain trying to integrate a pretty terrifying experience - trying to understand what happened, giving words to it.

Still to this day, Jake asks us to tell him "Ocean Stories."
Every night when he goes to sleep: "Tell me an Ocean Story!!! ...Umm...Please you may tell me an ocean story?" I wish he would just let us read books, but instead I have to dream up some kind of story, and I'm really bad at it, but I do it, and Jacob does it. We lie our heads next to his on his "fuzzy blanket" and weave epics involving fish birthday parties, and he listens transfixed.

7 Quick Takes Friday - All Jake

17 October 2014

Got some recent gems from the little Jacob to throw your way on this fine fall Friday.

- 1 -
Pulling into the parking lot before Mass:
JAKE: I don't want to go to the church with a PRAY room. I want to go to a church with a PLAY room.

- 2 -
While I was getting dressed one morning:
JAKE: Whoa, mom! Those are BIG underwears. Really big. Just huge. Huge underwears, mom.

- 3 -
Looking for our books on the hold shelf at the library:
JAKE: Where is our name???
ME: Here it is. (Pointing at the letter R.) That letter says "ruh". What do you think that word is?
JAKE: ... ... Mom-ruh?

- 4 -
After listening to Jacob and me argue about who was going to shower first one morning. Jake stands in front of the bathroom door and raises his arms.
JAKE: People, go away I needa go to da bathroom!

- 5 -
JAKE: Mama! Mama! Can we read the boring book that I don't like with all the stupid animals?

- 6 -
Talking to a single friend of ours as she was leaving:
FRIEND: Bye, Jake!
JAKE: Do you have kids?
JAKE: Babies?
JAKE (pointing at her chest): Then what are those things poking out?

- 7 -
Sitting at the breakfast table staring pensively into his oatmeal.
JAKE (sighs): I love construction.


Also, if you're a cloth diaperer and you haven't seen the giveaway, we're down to the final countdown on the Thirsties Duo Wrap and Duo Hemp prefold giveaway
So. Enter up. And visit Jen for more quick takes!

Crunch Time Remodeling

15 October 2014

Move date is in LESS than two weeks.

Where did the time go?! I thought children grew up fast, but no, move-dates approach fast. When we started this whole gig a few months ago, our move date felt like a lifetime away. And here it comes and there is so much to do, and I can do. . . almost none of it.

Like I seriously would be more helpful gone. So I might skip town and visit my folks so Jacob can work all hours without fielding my frantic family-update texts.

Up for some honesty? Well if you'll excuse, I'm gonna change gears here and spew some words at you. My FEELINGS. I need to VENT them.

This remodel has been really hard for me emotionally.

Initially I was struggling because I wasn't getting to help. This was a dream of ours, and I was barely getting to be part of it. And I was a little heartbroken.

I eventually decided to distance myself from the project entirely. I kinda acted like it wasn't going on and started treating it a little like Jacob's job. He was at work. He and my brother would talk about it at night, and I would just check out. It was easier for a little while until he started working on it a lot, till all hours of the night, and it seemed like he'd abandoned us for his pet project.

He'd come home utterly exhausted and see me on the couch also exhausted. My natural response was usually one of: "Hello, man who got me pregnant and then left me alone with his banshee offspring, your day was hard?? Did your hammer skip his nap and then insist on being held all morning? Did your jigsaw completely refuse to eat lunch because you couldn't find his ducky plate and throw himself on the floor? No, they just...behaved exactly as you would expect? Hmm. Sounds terrible."

And he'd be like: "I'm building our house."

And I'd be like: "Blah blah blah."

(I am typically better at empathy than this. Just not with my husband.)

Yeah so... the whole turn myself off wasn't working well. It was easier in some ways. Easier to be angry than...sad.

What I had to realize is that it was OK that I was sad. Of course I had to be sad. I have these kiddos, and I love them, and they are my biggest dream come true, and I get to stay home and draw blimps and fire hydrants for them all day, and I think that's what's best for my family right now...but it still means I'm missing out on something, something I would've loved to be more involved in, and it was OK to be sad about that.

For the last week I've been turning myself back on again, opening myself back up to this sadness. I channeled a little Rudy and decided to give it my best from the sidelines. And it's been good. It feels good. I even had a friend watch the kids for a few hours the other day so I could help seal tile, and I suffered the kids through trips to the hardware store and the countertop supply with the guys, instead of staying home and moping.

It's still frustrating. I don't get to help hardly ever, and I'm putting the kids to bed by myself basically every night. I still get a little jealous. But things are much better this way.

Take yesterday.

Yesterday evening, even though I wasn't expecting them for hours, my little brother and Jacob came home at six, and my little brother promptly started feeding the baby. He paused and couldn't hide the excitement in his voice when he said: "Katie, it's looking so good over there. So good."

Jacob nodded in agreement.

And I felt my heart swell.

There I was. In the kitchen. Sauteing cabbage and scrubbing crusted oatmeal off the counter, just like usual. And my heart was swelling.


So now for pics of some groutless terra cotta tiles and raw trim.
The boys both agreed that the (18 hour) days they spent tiling were pretty much the hardest they'd ever worked in their lives. So. Props to the tilers of the world. 
Last weekend was trim. And now they can get to grouting and finally finally finishing the kitchen cabinets. 
(And - despite what this picture may suggest - we didn't paint our walls honey brown.)

For the countertops, we've decided on a Lyra Silestone.
So they will hopefully go in next week, and if they don't the boys assure me we can throw down some plywood as a stop gap. *fingers crossed*

Before I Had a Seven Year Old: Annie of Annery at Home

14 October 2014

Back again with another interview for Before I Had a Seven Year Old, a series where I ask moms of older children about their experiences as new mothers. 

A few weeks into starting this series a reader reached out to me and asked if I was planning on having someone contribute who maybe...didn't have a bzillion children??? And I was totally pegged. So I thought she very much had a point and decided to remedy that! Today we have Annie of Annery at Home.

Annie is a wife of 10 years, mom of nine years, and an instructional designer.  That's a really fancy way of saying sometimes she designs training for companies instead of putting away the laundry.  She and her husband are foster parents and have struggled with secondary infertility for more than 8 years.
How many kids do you have?  How old are they?
Right now, we have three children living with us.  Our bio babies are LB, age 9 and SP, age 2.

We also had a foster daughter from July 18, 2011 to December 20, 2013 whom we raised from birth. Eight months after she was sent to a birth parent, we took another foster daughter, who is 3.
No face photos to protect her privacy, but trust me, she's a cutie!
What are the biggest differences in your home life now that you have slightly biggers running around and not just really littles?
My oldest was super colicky, super high strung, super stubborn (we're still working on a couple of those). The first five years with her were extraordinarily difficult in terms of emotional energy (especially since we were struggling with not being able to conceive). She was 6 when we got a foster placement for the first time and 7 when we had her younger sister.

She is very, very helpful. The single biggest difference between before 7 and after 7 (aside from going from one to three kiddos in a year) was the level of help she could provide. Right around 5, I noticed we turned the corner from needing to keep her busy so I could get something done to putting her to work next to me.

Now, life is busy, but so much easier in little ways that add up. LB can heat up a couple waffles or pour a bowl of cereal...not just for herself, for the littles too. I can finish getting my shoes on while she helps put little shoes on. I can grab snacks while she helps a toddler buckle in. So. Much. Helpfulness.

What's something you miss about that stage of only really littles?
Honestly, I like my kids more the older they get. If I had to pick something though, it would be that solid window of alone time in the afternoon during nap time (when she wasn't screaming and fighting it). Although, it's hard to say I miss that since that's now the time of day LB does chores and I really prefer having the help over the alone time.

If you could go back and tell your new mom self something, what would it be?
Don't feel guilty about napping.

How do/did you conquer nap strikes?
Napping just got a little more challenging around here with the arrival of a new toddler to share SP's room, and nap schedule. The most successful way we've conquered the goofing around at naptime is to sit in the room for about 5-10 minutes while the toddlers are falling asleep. I'm part of a book club and have a hard time finding the time to read the book, so I usually read for my book club book during this time.

I've taught the 3 y/o to sneak out while the 2 y/o stays asleep about another hour, then at night, the 3 y/o lays down about an hour earlier so they aren't up to nonsense all night long.

LB was an infamous nap striker. I found her sleeping half-standing leaned up against a chair or her bed as much as I found her in her bed at naptime. My strategy is to keep very little in the room, make them stay in the room and if they make a tornado, they'll be assisting in clean up AFTER naptime. When LB got old enough that she was only napping about half the time, I instituted a rule that she had to lay down for the length of one CD. We checked out a lot of children's books on CD from the library and she worked her way through a lot of them at naptime.  I think that's contributed to her love of literature now.

How has your marriage changed since having children?
It seems like all of our married life has been with kids. LB was born after 15 months of marriage, so most of the last 10 years, we've had company.

The biggest change has been in learning to conquer adversity and weather the storm together through sleepless nights, infertility, and loss. I couldn't have known how much we would need each other to just get through the day before kids.

It's also made it trickier to find alone time. We went to Germany for 10 days this summer for my work, and it was the first time we'd been alone for an extended period of time in years. I was surprised at how much I missed the kids, but it was nice having that time to reconnect.
Describe a moment where you definitely did not have it all together.
Recently? Our foster daughter's school had a child with lice. I absolutely lost my mind. I threw away everything they sent home for us to clean (it was our/her stuff), treated everyone in the family (even though she didn't actually have it, ergo none of us did), washed all bedding, all stuffed animals, sprayed down the house, generally went defcon 5 on it.

All the while I was doing it, I knew I was over-reacting, but I've never been so grateful for the super-hot sanitize function on my dryer. I'm still seriously considering taking all the clothes out of the closet and running them through the dryer.

In general? I almost always forget one thing I need. If someone is potty training, I probably do NOT have the emergency outfit in my purse. If someone is poopy, the wipes are probably in the other car.

How did you build community for yourself and your family?
This one has been tricky for me. When I had an only, especially when she was very young, it was really lonely. My best friend moved to Texas when my daughter was 8 months old (and finally moved back 8 years later - hooray!). I was alone with a young baby/toddler a lot.

When LB went to 3 y/o preschool, I still felt like it was hard to fit in. Everyone either had lots of kids, or was congratulating me on my "wise" decision to stick with one because they're just so much work. That was one of the hardest times in our infertility, because we weren't actively telling people. Now, when I get the questions about whether we're two and through, I always say that it took us seven years of trying to get our second, so we expect the third to be along for my 40th birthday. That joking way of telling them, "hey, it's not automatic for everyone!" seems to be the kindest way I've found of getting that point across.

Finally, when LB was 4, we decided (for a number of reasons) to homeschool. That is when I felt like I found my community. All these kids and moms who liked having their kids around all day. With an only child, I felt a heavy weight of needing to soak in her childhood, because her life/childhood might have been my only experience of that as a mother. I wanted to soak up every minute, to watch her learn and grow right in front of me.

It was hard for her to learn to read, but I was the one who got to see that click, and it was worth every hard day that came before it.

When we started homeschooling, suddenly, we were surrounded by a built-in network of all these other mothers and children who were around during the day, doing things with their kids, and generally enjoying themselves while doing it.

As an introvert, it's still an effort for me to make friends (and I'm learning to step up and make that effort more!), but having that surrounding network of ready-made community was a huge step towards finding my place in this world as a mother.

Blogging has also been a way I've built community, a community that is deeply personal and meaningful. I have built friendships with women who are struggling down the same road I'm on, who are new moms and trying to figure it out, who are veteran moms, all of them. We come together in faith and with a joint love for our families, and the common experience of trying to figure out how to be who God made us to be. My fellow bloggers are amazing, and one of the best "side effects" of telling my story in my own little corner of the blogosphere has been finding these other amazing women doing the same thing.

What was the hardest transition after having a newborn? 0 to 1? 1 to 2?
Zero to one was an especially difficult transition, but I think the hardest was one to two. There was a six year gap between LB and our first foster daughter.

When you only have a six-year old, you sleep in on Saturdays while they rummage for cereal and watch cartoons. They open their own car door and buckle themselves in. They can be trusted to walk next to a shopping cart without pulling items off a shelf. They can carry on conversations and roam relatively freely at play dates.

When you have an easy-going six year old, people will readily take your child places for extended periods of time. Aunts and uncles are happy to do sleepovers and take them to the zoo.

When you've been so softened by the easy life of just one well-behaved six year old, having a newborn with drug and alcohol exposure on two-hour's notice is kind of like running full speed into brick wall. But more painful, with much more crying and sleeplessness.

After we had been so used to sleeping well and sleeping in, we brought home a newborn. She didn't sleep for seven months. Every hour, she would be up and crying. With all the heartbreak we went through over losing her, I am so aware of how she needed us during that time. We changed her life forever by getting her through those first rough times.

I think the difficulty was compounded by having another baby 10 months after we brought our foster daughter home. I didn't get a full night's sleep for at least 2 years. I'm not one of those people who can perform well without sleep, so it was especially difficult. I never pulled all-nighter's in college, I'm always early to bed. That time was one of the most sleep-deprived, yet rewarding times in our lives.

A special note for moms of onlys or few
I felt such a pressure to imprint everything into my brain, to savor every moment.  Infertility magnified those feelings. As I look at my nine year old now, I'm reminded of those days when I felt such pressure that every day be so amazing and memorable. Now, I remember how much joy she brings me with each passing year. As tragically painful as getting rid of baby and toddler items is, I enjoy her more each year. There are so many that croak, "just wait until she's a teenager!", but I don't just love my girl, I like being around her. I don't buy into the myth that she must magically become a horrible human being for seven years. She'll still be her, just going through some things/hormones that might make her a crankier version.

Don't be afraid to let go of the baby or toddler to embrace the older kid in front of you. They're pretty awesome.

When you have to purge some stuff that makes you cry, send me a note and we'll cry about how awful it is together, because it seriously is. But, just know, every next step is something great. God will reward your openness to His plan, even if it doesn't include more babies, there will still be much fruit. Don't feel guilty that you might have an easier time of it as a mom because you're not feeling overwhelmed, God always gives us consolations in our suffering.

I'll still cry when I put away baby clothes, but greater times are still to come. Call me when you need to cry about it, I'll shed a tear with you.

Thanks so much to Annie for being here today! And you can find the whole lot of Before I Had a Seven Year Old posts here

Thoughts on Cloth Diapering and a GIVEAWAY

10 October 2014

If you're just here to enter a giveaway - no shame in that, especially because it's a Cloth Diapering giveaway - then scroll on down to the bottom.

So...we cloth diaper. You knew that right? Most of you probably weren't around when I first wrote about cloth diapering here, my sister tells me it remains her favorite post I've ever written...? Our cloth diapering method hasn't changed very much over the years.

It's basically just this:

                          Prefolds                                       Covers                              A Place to Put Them

I don't think I'm gifted at blog tutorialing, so I'll spare you details, but Sheena has a great tutorial on a basic diaper stash here. There are of course lots of other ways to cloth diaper, and Nell has a great breakdown of the different types of cloth diapers here. There are entire WEBSITES dedicated to it you can check out if you've got the bug.

I have been cloth diapering a long time, and here are some things that have helped me with the cloth diapering "mental game."


1. Find your rhythm. Expect to change your rhythm.
Cloth diapering takes getting used to, but when you're used to it, it's not that big of a deal. There will be hiccups that make you feel like throwing in the towel, but you can work through them and then it will go back to being easy again.

When Jake was a baby I washed diapers every other day. Then I got a few more diapers, and I washed twice a week. Right now we use disposables at night and we have a large enough cloth diaper stash that I only have to wash the diapers once a week. It's great. It's working. I never have to think about it. Circumstances will change and babies will change and you will have to rework your system, but you can do it, and soon you'll be settled into a new rhythm.

2. Win the war and lose some battles. 
 Cloth diapering doesn't have to be ALL in ALL the time.
I know mothers of multiple children who have diapered every baby differently. Some of those sweet little bums have been 100% cloth diapered, while another bum was disposable all the way. I've known moms who cloth diaper one kid and use disposables on another at the same time.

I almost threw in the cloth diapering towel soon after my second was born. I was cloth diapering both kids and cloth diapering at night and living in a small apartment with a tiny little washer and it just wasn't working. So I chilled out and stopped cloth diapering at night.

Don't let cloth diapering turn you into a screeching little teapot on the stove. There will be nights, vacations, and seasons in your life where cloth diapering might not make sense, and that's OK. Get back on the wagon when you can.

3. Own it. Own the fluff butt. Own the extra chore. Feel good about doing it.
Now, when you ARE on the cloth diaper wagon: be your own little cheerleader. Remember why you're cloth diapering and feel good about it. Feel good how much money you saved this week by cloth diapering. Enjoy how it helps make your home more self-sufficient. Cloth diapering is not that hard, but it is a little something extra in a time of life when you don't have much extra to give. Chances are you're not getting too much encouragement, so encourage yourself or e-mail me and I'll encourage you.

>>>>>> GIVEAWAY <<<<<<<

All of our covers are Thirsties Duo Wraps save one... and I never reach for that one...because it's not my favorite. Thirsties are my favorite. Thirsties Duo Wrap covers are simple and durable; they come in two sizes that together last from birth to potty training.

I've been a Thirsties fan since the beginning of my diapering days. Once I received a Thirsties Duo Wrap that had a minor defect; I contacted them about it, and they sent me a new one right away, and they also sent me a prepaid label to return the flawed diaper cover so they could repair it and donate it to families in need. Tell me that doesn't break your little dear heart??

Thirsties recently sent me one of their Duo Hemp Prefolds to try, and man if that thing isn't a workhorse.
Hemp is great for cloth diapering because it's more absorbent than cotton and it cleans more easily than synthetic materials. I'd had a couple hemp doublers in the past, but I'd never tried any prefolds other than cotton ones. I don't have years of experience with it to speak from, but so far, I love it. My favorite thing about this hemp prefold:
It's like a big tube. So you get all those layers of absorbency, but that hole makes it easier to clean and faster to dry, and like the Duo Wrap the Prefold comes in two sizes and can be folded to grow with your baby.

This hemp prefold is knit, and thus seems stronger and more flexible than my woven cotton prefolds. After years of use, some of my cotton prefolds are starting to tear and fray, this has been kind of devastating, and I've been living in total denial about it, but the existence of this Duo Hemp Prefold has me positively excited that it's time to resupply.

They're made in America - often by women working from home - and sourced in America. They make a great product, and they stand by it.

So they're great. Has that been communicated? American made great. And they're letting me give a Duo Wrap and a Duo Hemp Prefold to one lucky winner! I hope you win, but if you don't, visit them on their facebook page where they do giveaways weekly because they're swell like that.

Rhodes Remodel: Flooring update

08 October 2014

***To bring you up to speed in case you're new here: My husband and I are remodeling a fixer upper with my two brothers. For the riveting back story and similar posts, clickety click here.***

So I posted about floors a little while back, so you all could help me feel better about our choice to put laminate floors in the remodel. I'd pretty much made my peace with it. A lot of my friends have various types of fabricated wood floors here in Houston that work really well.

So last week we went to IKEA to pick up the laminate wood flooring that we'd agreed on.

We dropped Jake off in the play place where he promptly began an hour long love affair with the ball pit. Feeling the lightness of only buckling one kiddo into a cart, we started the long and winding road to the flooring section.

Along the way we kept seeing the laminate installed in display units...and it wasn't looking that good. It looked OK from far away, but then you'd get up close and notice some bubbling and peeling. Then you'd walk on it and there was that weird spongy give underneath your feet and the light echo that only the cheapest of laminates can boast.

So in a last minute decision under the glow of warehouse fluorescents, we changed our minds. We couldn't do it.
So we bought a couple jars of lingonberry jam and left.
My brothers took it in stride. Turned out nobody loved the idea of cheapo wood laminate to begin with. 

So what were we to do? We needed to start putting the floors in ASAP.

We looked at some other wood laminate options, but the sturdier ones were out of our price range. Our budget for the floors is cheap. Like CHEAP. Like less than 2$ a square foot.

We decided to carpet the bedrooms. I don't love carpet, but I can appreciate its good qualities - being soft, absorbing sounds.

But that still left us with several hundred square feet of living/kitchen space to floor. Because our kitchen and living area are joined and we didn't like the idea of a massive stripe of a seam cutting through that space, the flooring had to serve in both the kitchen and the living area.

So we ended up back at one of our earliest flooring ideas, an idea we'd all been initially excited about. We'd abandoned it because install would be labor intensive and we thought it was too bold for this project....also, every time we'd mention it to flooring people they'd look at us like we were stupid.

But whatever. We decided to go ahead with it, and yesterday we drove to north Houston and bought a pallet of Saltillo tile.

Here they are on the back lawn sealing in all their terra cotta glory.
 We're hoping to end up firmly on the classic southwestern side of the Saltillo spectrum.

And avoid anything that screams: "Bienvenidos. You'll love our puffy tacos!"

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