I used to be a writer

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cleaning while watching the news, 8/21/17

Be aware:
my sponge is
floating in filth
a bloated carcass
drowning in salt.
Fine. Squeeze it out.
Soak it in vinegar,
hold it up on a stick
towards the sun.
Scrape it on plaster,
Scrub it against
the flaking walls.
This stain is too deep–
Carve it out.
The crumbles are sharp.
Do not paint over it
again. And again.
(I am afraid of mildew
when things
sit still,
Next comes
dry achy fingers
creeping through cracks
towards the innards.
Careful, it gets brittle.)
Watch it break when you push,
Shattering its dry bones,
Sweep away the pieces.
Do not hide!
Do not even look.
You can get a new one.
Just first, clean
under your feet.

How to Make Cloth Diapering Work

How to Make Cloth Diapering Work for you!

I’m on Baby #3 now, in case you all missed it 😉 Over my past 6.5 years of raising these three, I’ve seen my fair share of what works and what doesn’t, and my main take away from it all so far? Do what works for you. Don’t feel the pressure of someone else telling you what worked for them, or even some parenting philosophy. Only YOU know your lifestyle and what you are comfortable with, so when in doubt, always go with your instincts!

When it comes to cloth diapering, I’ve heard plenty of mommas wish they could do cloth diapers because of the overall savings and the whole “saving-the-earth-landfills-made-of-mountains-of-diapers” thing 😉 But when it comes time to actually pull the trigger, they are hit by obstacle after obstacle, and eventually they throw in the towel! And I don’t blame them! Cloth diapering can seem super foreign and crunchy at first, especially if you have no prior experience.

Let me dispel a few of the obstacles facing those who really WANT to try, but don’t know how to make cloth diapering work for them!

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The first obstacle that mommas always encounter is that there are too many options and they get overwhelmed easily. I’ve been there!! Boy howdy! When my first was born, I was super intent on cloth diapering, and since I was only working part time and didn’t have any other kids, I was able to devote hours to research.

I eventually settled on using prefolds and thirsties diaper covers and I was happy with it. But with Baby #2, we were in total flux and I had family changing his diapers a lot of the time if I was at work, so we went with using both disposables AND Bum Genius pocket diapers. And, since we were on a super “food-stamps-tight” budget at the time, I had to re-purpose some that I found on craigslist for under $86. And then came Baby #3, and I started with buying a bunch of brand new swanky Free Time Diapers, but ended up returning them at the last minute and going back to tried and true pre-folds. I remembered how much easier they are to wash since you can be pretty rough on them, and decided that the last thing I needed with three kiddos was a complicated diaper washing system! Plus, how cute are these???

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The second obstacle that mommas always encounter is figuring out all the extras, like what do I use for wipes? How do I keep my diaper pail from stinking in between washes?

I’ll admit, the diaper pail part took me FOREVER to figure out. In fact, with #1 and #2, I never did. I tried zip up diaper bags, hoping the zipper would keep any wet diaper smell away, but it didn’t. I tried dusting scented baking soda into my diaper pail every time I threw one in, but that only went so far. My mom asked me to quit cloth diapering like ten times because of the in-between changes cloth diaper smell, haha!

With Baby #3, I feel like I finally arrived at the perfect diaper pail solution, and I wish every cloth diapering momma knew about it!!!

Enter: the Ubbi Diaper pail!

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Let me count all the ways I love this pail. First of all, it is made of no-rust powder coated metal, so it will never hold stink the way plastic will (trust me on this one). It also has a rubber seal all the way around the interior. I can spray it out, scrub at it, you name it, and it holds up.

Second, I can use whatever bag I want to! Even if we switch to disposable diapers eventually, no special bags needed. Right now I am using my PUL lined drawstring bag that I throw in the wash right along with my cloth diapers. It folds right over the inner ring, and then the top lid closes around it.

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Third, NO STINK. Guys, this is huge. I am super sensitive to icky smells, and the opening is so narrow at the top, nothing escapes. I can’t tell you how cool this is! And do you see that little circle at the top right? It’s a LOCK, just in case you also have older kids in the house who might get….curious. 😉

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Not many places sell this Ubbi diaper pail, which is why I was floored to find that Baby Cubby carries it! I’m telling you guys, these people have it figured out. They spend 100s of hours researching so that you don’t have to, taking all of the guesswork out of it for overwhelmed moms, even going out of their way to engage with parents on social media to find out more about what they should or shouldn’t carry. Ubbi is the only diaper pail they carry, and for good reason– it works, and there’s no reason to go around trying all sorts of other options that won’t.

Baby Cubby has become one of my go-to resources for all things baby related because they only sell the best products, price match Amazon, ship in 2 days, AND have free shipping on orders over $49! The  Baby Cubby team is made up of parents who have been there. They know how overwhelming things like cloth diapering are, and they are passionate about encouraging, inspiring, and reminding parents how amazing they are and how important their role is! I absolutely love their Baby Cubby Community Blog, where they discuss some of the more difficult topics of parenting!

The Third Obstacle, (and this is a silly one but it’s SO TRUE), is wading through all of the acronyms! Like, what’s an EBF using an AIO? 6 years ago, most of those acronyms didn’t even exist, but coming back to it with #3 I was rolling my eyes 😉 Here’s a cheat sheet for you! Problem solved!

And now, for a few more shots of Thomas’ side of the room, since I know you’re curious. 😉

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If you’d like to score your own Ubbi diaper pail, I have a 15% off coupon code just for you (works on anything from the entire site!), good until May 3rd. Just type in ourconezone15 at checkout, and you’re good to go!

Note: While I was paid for this review, my opinions are all my own. I already owned an Ubbi diaper pail from Baby Cubby, long before I wrote this!!

Barn Door for under $100

save-newYou guys, I’ve always thought this house needed a good barn door. I’ve always pined away for some chipped paint antique door, which is hilarious considering that all but one of our interior doors ARE vintage, straight from when the house was built in the 40s! But you know what I mean. A REALLY vintage door. A statement piece, especially considering this wall and doorway is visible from the entryway. First impressions, and all. You can see where the old door was below, in our dining room 2 years ago before we swapped tables.

dining room 2015

Lately, a series of things happened that actually justified a practical need for one of these babies. We switched our bedroom/school room yet AGAIN (the last time was 20 months ago), and got a bigger platform bed to accommodate our sidecar/cosleeper arrangement for Thomas. The door to this room swung in, however, cramping the walking space at the foot of the bed. We both agreed that a sliding door would be a space saver, so I asked Jesse if he could “donate” a few hours of Spring Break to a project like this, and voila! Super handy husband delivered!!

The first problem was what kind of door to get? Since this room used to be the garage before it was converted, the door inside the frame was 32″– bigger than a standard interior door. 99% of the cool vintage doors on Craigslist were WAY too narrow, and most of them were costing in the hundreds. Exterior doors would’ve been overkill and way too heavy. We talked about making one ourselves by throwing together a few planks of old wood, which was where the conversation was about a week before spring break.

And then, voila!! Someone listed their old vintage pantry doors from a house remodel! And the best part? Just $40 for the pair! On the first evening of Spring break, we drove the 20 min. as a family in the van to grab them. We leaned them up in the entry to the room and loved what we saw.

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Now that we had the doors, I was able to order the hardware off of Amazon. You guys DON’T GET IT AT A BOX STORE LIKE HD OR LOWES!!! They want $200+ for the same hardware that we spent $46 on through Amazon! I have no idea why the price gauging is there, especially now that I’ve seen that this hardware is super sturdy, so it’s not like the lower price is due to shoddy workmanship. The rollers don’t squeak at all. I seriously don’t know why someone would pay more.

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The first task was how to get the doors to stay together as one piece. We could’ve done two separate doors on their own sliders so that they moved independently, but we have bookshelves butting right up against it on the other side, so we knew that would never happen. Extra sliders would’ve been an additional $30, so we decided to try making them one piece first. Jesse had the brilliant idea of taking some extra wooden dowels we had in the toolbox and drilling those in between the doors to hold them together.

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After this, it was a matter of removing the top molding off the door frame, shaving a few corners with a saw, and then adding a header board that screwed into the studs. I love how Jesse even thought to hide the screws behind the eventual sliding rail! <3

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It took 2-3 hours total to install. I’m so thankful to Jesse for getting this project done without any snaffoos or issues. He’s become quite the handy man! Home ownership will do that to you, especially since we are attracted to older homes 😉 I’m so glad we got our barn door for under $100 !

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Forgiveness

White Rock Lake

“The drunkard, the fornicator, the proud—he will receive God’s mercy. But he who does not want to forgive, to excuse, to justify consciously, intentionally … that person closes himself to eternal life before God, and even more so in the present life. He is turned away and not heard [by God].”

+ Elder Sampson

Ten years ago, Jesse and I joined the Orthodox Church. One of my favorite services of the liturgical cycle is Forgiveness Vespers, the official kick-off of the 40 days of Lent before Holy Week and Easter Sunday. All of our parish gathers and we takes turns forgiving and asking forgiveness of one another, one by one.

There are several of these services that stand out in my memory. Our first year at St. Seraphim, I remember when our beloved Archbishop, Vladika Dmitri, was the first to ask forgiveness. A venerable man with a beard to match, he was the loving father of our parish and had a smile that made you feel instantly at home. I remember that first Forgiveness Vespers, because he started things off by finding one of the smallest children in our parish and asking for forgiveness. It took my breath away. That kind of humbleness was something I had not seen in my lifetime, and it blew my mind.

Forgiveness 2012

Another memorable Forgiveness Vespers happened a few years later. That day, Jesse and I had had a particularly ugly fight, as only married couples can do. We had spent most of the day and afternoon in tears, and I don’t even think we took communion that morning at liturgy because both of us were still at odds with one another. It was one of the longest and worst fights we had had, and still have had, to this day. Right before the evening Forgiveness Vespers service, Jesse and I had come to a resolution of sorts, and things were looking up.

When we had made our way around the room of people, prostrating and asking forgiveness from each one, the moment finally arrived when we were both standing in front of each other. We both bowed low and asked forgiveness, and I remember that something like a dam broke inside of me– a huge burden of ugly thoughts and feelings and resentment just shattered, and I felt so….FREE. Both of us hugged, right there in the middle of church, tears in our eyes. Forgiveness was not an abstract idea or commandment at that moment, it was medicine.

Last night was another such Forgiveness Vespers, and I never want to forget it. It has been a particularly trying month in general for all sorts of reasons, and even more so with our two older boys. Both are experiencing some sort of phase, and have had off-the-WALL tantrums. Sunday was all about managing these tantrums and bad behavior– Gregory and AJ even tackled each other in the communion line in front of everyone.

At one point, Jesse and I started scream-wailing right along with them in the car, because sometimes you’ve gotta laugh and find the humor in things when you have three boys all simultaneously crying in the backseat. Jesse and I looked at each other on our way to lunch and agreed that there’s no one else we’d rather be in the trenches with.

But there have been so many times when we haven’t been able to laugh, and as parents, we fall. We yell, we snap, we lose focus and perspective. I don’t dread the tantrums because of the behavior, I dread it because I know my own peace and patience are about to be put to the ultimate test. After their tantrums are over, it isn’t their own nasty words and screams that echo in my head– it’s my own.

Before we got to Forgiveness Vespers, Jesse coached the boys on what to say–“Forgive me, a sinner,” followed by, “God forgives and I forgive.” In the 30 minutes leading up to the actual forgiveness part of the service, the boys continued to act squirrely, kicking/biting/distracting each other incessantly.

But once the “Forgiving” part started and we began to make our way around the circle of fellow parishioners, Gregory fell silent, eyes wide as saucers. He watched as each of the priests bowed before his little feet, speechless. He finally started saying it along with them, very quiet and subdued. I actually though he might be a little bit overwhelmed and frightened by all of the hugging. I was preparing for him to shut down and act out.

We got to the end of the line quite quickly since we were some of the first to start after the priests. Jesse was behind us, and reached us within minutes. He bowed down prostrate before Gregory, and asked his forgiveness.

It was incredible to see. I watched as the whole thing washed over Gregory like a wave. His eyes got even wider, and then his jaw dropped as he just stared at Jesse. His Dad was on his knees in front of him, asking forgiveness.

Finally, he hugged him and said it: “God forgives and I forgive, Dadda.” I will never begin to describe how tender and sweet it was.

And then he looked up at me, breathless, smiling, and whispered forcefully, “Momma, this is SO COOL!”

After that, he got really into it. People continued to come to him and ask for forgiveness, some strangers, some well known to him like his god brothers, and he got on the floor for each one and hugged them.

I even got to watch as his sweet Sunday school teacher bowed before him and asked for forgiveness. At that point, he was in complete awe and could barely reply to her. His eyes were shining, and he was grinning ear to ear. She taught him more in that one act than any bible lesson could have.

I couldn’t help it– I started crying and basically didn’t stop. The whole thing was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had as a mother.

I don’t have anything huge or theological to say about Forgiveness that hasn’t been said. But I do want to beg each and every one of you– if you can’t remember the last time you asked someone for forgiveness, do it. If you are holding onto resentment or anger towards someone else, even if that be someone you don’t even personally know, let it go. Forgive. You won’t be sorry.

“Prayer is food for the soul. Do not starve the soul, it is better to let the body go hungry. Do not judge anyone, forgive everyone. Consider yourself worse than everyone in the world and you will be saved.”

+ St. Joseph of Optina