Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Birthday Party Blast from the Past

I swear, one of these days I will finish going through all of the pictures from our recent vacations and get a blog posted about them. In the meantime, our baby E just turned 11 months and since I'll begin planning her birthday party as soon as Christmas is over, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at K's first birthday party.

The theme was Cupcake and I chose pink, white and brown for the colors. This is
the invitation I made. Obviously it's been edited to protect our superhero identities.

As is tradition, the birthday girl was able to pick out whatever she wanted to eat for her
birthday breakfast. Waffles and fruit is a whole lot healthier than the sundae she had for
her latest birthday. The cupcake balloon was courtesy of Nana.

Auntie Cousin K came over early to decorate the cupcakes. We had chocolate cakes with
vanilla frosting, strawberry cakes with chocolate frosting, and vanilla cakes with strawberry
frosting. (It's less confusing when you look at the picture below.)

I picked up several of these Wilton Cupcake Stands and topped it with some
carnations and a candle. This can clearly be called a Decorating Fail. I think
I was trying to go for a flower cupcake look and obviously didn't use enough
flowers. I'm trying something like this again for E's party so hopefully I'll have
redemption for this atrocity.

Here is a picture of my table decorations. It's hard to differentiate between the light pink
table cloth and the white streamers in the picture but it was more obvious in person. We
had white, light pink and dark pink plates and napkins.

The Birthday Princess with her Uncle Goofball. She is wearing a tutu that I made using this
tutorial from Paige and Brook.

Underneath her tutu she was wearing this pig diaper cover I made out of terry cloth
based on some instructions in the Baby Stuff book by Aranzi Aronzo. My ears aren't
attached correctly but it still looked cute on her tush.

I think it's totally adorable that Little E looks so much like Big Sis K in this photo. I still
find it hard to believe that E will be a year already. The time just flies by.

Back then K didn't like getting messy and she really didn't eat too many sweets. I remember
that I had to smear some of the frosting on her face so we could get the obligatory "smash
cake all over you" first birthday pictures.

Nana had purchased several huge balloons for the party (remember the cupcake balloon
attached to her highchair a few pictures back?) and they were a huge hit with the girls. Here
you see the gigantic dragonfly that would periodically buzz by her head while she opened

The Happy 1st Birthday banner was on loan from my cousin, and on the mantel is a framed
copy of K's first numeral birthday photo taken at the JCPenney Portrait Studio.

And here are the cousins. I love looking back at how little they were and seeing our girls
growing into such lovely young ladies now.

Thanks for taking that trip down memory lane with me. I noticed I was woefully lacking on blog posts in the year 2012 compared to 2011. I hope to be better with it in the coming year.

Merry Christmas to you all and I wish you a joyous and healthy new year surrounded by those you love.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Photo Session with the Grandkids

Once or twice a year we gather up K, E and their cousin, The Princess, throw them in some matching outfits, and plop them all on my Mom's lap for a photo. Usually from the combined 50 or so photos taken, we *might* get one with all three girls looking in the same direction; not necessarily all smiling but at least all acknowledging the same camera. My sister-in-law affectionately coined the name Nana and the Blurs for these pictures because usually one or more kid is trying to escape this "horrible" torture and ends up looking like a blur in the photo. When we do get a good one it's always a super cute picture but I find the outtakes to be way too amusing to delete.

Princess to E: "Hey kid, since you're new here, I'll help you out. Here's what we'll
do. I'll create a diversion and you can crawl away."

E to Princess: "Won't Nana and K notice I'm gone?"
P to E: "Nah. They're too busy smiling to notice anything."

E to P: "Sounds good."
P to E: "Ok. Let's shake on it then."

Nana to The Princess: "Is something going on here between you girls?"
Princess to Nana: "Who, us? Of course not!"

P to E: "Sorry kid. We'll have to try again next year."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Picture Dilemma

Hi All!  I have a bit of a dilemma and I'm hoping you can help me out. A few weeks ago we had some family pictures taken for our Christmas cards. While we were there the photographer also took a few pictures of each of the girls.  As you may recall, I just had K's 4 year photos taken so I knew I wasn't going to buy any more of her. However, the photographer captured a couple of really cute ones of E and I'm trying to decide if I should buy any of them. Keep in mind that in two months I'll be having her 1 year photos taken. Since we had these photos done at JcPenney, they are only $4 per sheet (4x6, 5x7, 8x10, or 10x13) so it's not like they are super expensive to order. I just don't know which of the three poses to chose from and if I should have them with the black vignettes or just straight as they were taken.

Choice #1
A                                                                     B
Choice #2
A                                                                  B

Choice #3
A                                                                    B

Ha! I just realized I'm asking for you to vote for a picture on election day. How appropriate :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween Fun and Deals

Hi! Things are rockin' right along here at JAKES Place. We had a great Halloween and hope you and your family did as well.

A & K carved the pumpkin that K picked out from her preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch. She colored all over it and then she and Daddy drew a face on it together. A helped her by making pilot holes and with a little bit of guidance, K carved the pumpkin mostly all on her own. Previous to that, she decorated another pumpkin with a Hello Kitty kit where she painted it black and then used foam sticker pieces for the face. I think she enjoyed both pumpkins and was proud of her creations.

E really liked her pumpkins too.

K was also in a Halloween parade at her preschool and it was adorable watching her waving to everyone and smiling at every parent who was taking pictures or videos.

I loved seeing all of the kids dressed up together. Poor Mr. Incredible wasn't too happy though.

Like last year, I hit a few stores for After Halloween Deals. I didn't get nearly as much but I did score a few cute things at 50-75% off.
The dragon costume is for E and K decided next year she wants
to be a princess. Not surprisingly, she chose a blue dress.

The cat pajamas and the Happy Halloween shirt are for E for
next year, and the monster vinyl wall decals and monster eggs
are for her third birthday party. Trust me, when I see a deal that
fits into one of my birthday themes, I snatch it up no matter how
far away that birthday is!

Lastly, E is standing constantly. My mom thinks she'll be walking by next month. I'm not so sure but if she keeps this up, she might be right!

Well that's all for now. From our home to yours, we hope you are all doing well and enjoying this hectic but awesome time of year.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cloth Diaper Comparison

If you've been keeping up with my blog you know that we use cloth diapers on Little E. I'm very happy with them and it was definitely the right choice for our family. After doing a ton of research online and reading at least 100 reviews on different brands, I ended up purchasing the BumGenius 4.0 One-Size Pocket Diapers. I love them! My only complaint is that they don't come in red. Red seems like it would be such a popular color with Valentine's Day, Christmas, Fourth of July, or your typical summer clothes since they are cute enough to wear under a dress or with just a t-shirt. I decided to look at my local cloth diaper shop to see what other brands make red diapers and came upon the FuzziBunz One Size Elite. They are similar in appearance to my BumGenius 4.0 diapers so I thought I'd give them a try (I bought one red and one brown because I didn't want to have an odd number of diapers. I have this weird thing about odd numbers...) After using the FuzziBunz for a few months now I feel comfortable making a comparison for those of you wondering how they are different.


BumGenius on the left, FuzziBunz on the right.
As you can see the BumGenius insert is longer and wider.
It snaps down at two different places to make it shorter
depending on what rise setting you select on the diaper.

Here is the BumGenius snapped down to the middle setting
which is what I'm currently using for E. At this setting the
length is closer to the FuzziBunz.

Left: BumGenius on middle snap, Middle: FuzziBunz,
Right: BabyKicks Joey Bunz Premium hemp inserts - medium size

Diaper Covers

BumGenius 4.0 One Size on left, FuzziBunz One Size Elite on right.

BumGenius snapped on the middle rise setting is the same length as the FuzziBunz.

BumGenius unsnapped (at its longest rise setting) compared to the FuzziBunz.

Now that you've visually seen the comparisons, here are my thoughts on the two. I have long babies. K is very tall for her age and it seems like E is going to follow in her footsteps. My concern with the FuzziBunz is that they fit E great right now but how will they fit when she's 18 months, or two years? I don't think they going to fit throughout her entire diaper-wearing stage. With the BumGenius' three levels of rise and wider circumference, I believe their One-Size will truly be the only size diapers we'll need until E is potty trained.

Size concerns aside, my two biggest complaints about the FuzziBunz are closely related. One of the main selling points of the FuzziBunz is that they are very trim and don't get all bunchy between your baby's legs. While that is true and it is nice when they are smaller babies, the problem with this is it's very difficult (for me) to stuff the insert into the diaper. I have relatively small, thin hands but even for me, I can barely fit my hand inside to get the insert down to the bottom and smoothed out flat. My second complaint is that the inside of their diaper (the plastic part that keeps them from leaking) feels very rubbery which makes the insert stick to it and with the already skinny channel for the insert, it makes stuffing these diapers a big ol' pain in the rear. On the other hand, I can very easily and quickly stuff all 16 of my BumGenius diapers in no time.

Lastly, the FuzziBunz come with a lifetime warranty for certain defects. One of the defects it covers are the snaps and it just so happens I've had one of my snaps break so I'm going to try and take advantage of their warranty policy and get it replaced. Once I see how that goes I'll update this part of the post and let you know. I'm sure like most things, it's all a matter of preference. I happen to prefer my BumGenius 4.0 One-Size Pocket Diapers over the FuzziBunz One-Size Elite but that's just what seems to work best for me and my baby. I'm sure there are an equal number of women who prefer something else. I just hope this helps give a bit more information to those of you looking to make the switch over to cloth diapers.

Here is a link discussing our switch to cloth diapers.
Here is a link with information about our cloth diapering experience.
Here is a link about using cloth baby wipes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cloth baby wipes

Happy Friday! I hope you have a fun weekend and spend a ton of time with your families and/or friends!

Back in July I mentioned wanting to use reusable cloth wipes as a part of our cloth diaper routine. Originally I wanted to make my own but it ended up being a much bigger pain in the behind than it was to just purchase some baby washcloths. I bought a 12-pack of 100% cotton 9"x9" Carters brand for $3.99 from Marshalls, a 12-pack of 75% cotton / 25% polyester 9"x9" Luvable Friends brand for $3.99 from Ross, and a 10-pack of 75% cotton / 25% polyester 10"x10" Cutie Pie brand for $3.99 (I'm not sure if it was from Ross or Marshalls.) This seems to be a more economical route than purchasing specifically branded reusable cloth baby wipes.

So far these have worked out great. They all have a smooth side and a terry cloth side. The smooth side is great for cleaning up pee-pee only or wiping a messy face and the terry cloth side is good for gripping and wiping up poop. The cool thing about using cloth wipes is that I only have to use one (or maybe two if it's particularly messy) per diaper change compared to the 5 or 6 per messy change when I was using disposable wipes. These clean up the same way as the cloth diapers and can be washed in the same loads as the diapers.

One of the neat things I learned online while doing research about cloth wipes is that they can be folded in such a way that you can use them in a pop-up wipes dispenser. There might be YouTube videos of how to do this but I have a few photos showing how and once you try it, it's very easy.

I've chosen 4 different colors to help visually see how to fold them. The colors
are, from top: light blue, green, dark blue, white. I'm using the 9"x9" size because
they fit into a standard size disposable wipes container a bit better.

Lay down the light blue wipe.
Lay the green wipe on top of it so it's overlapping the light blue wipe by half.

Fold the light blue wipe over the top of the green wipe where it overlaps.

Lay the dark blue wipe on top of the light blue wipe that was just folded in half.

Fold the green wipe over the dark blue wipe.

Lay the white wipe on top of the green wipe you just folded in half.

Fold the dark blue wipe over the white wipe.
Continue adding wipes until you've folded them all together.

Stick your cloth baby wipes into your adorable Winnie-the-Pooh disposable
wipes container.

Here you can see that when I pull out the top wipe, the one below it comes up too,
just like traditional pop-up wipes.

There are a ton of cloth wipe solution recipes on the internet. I looked at quit a few of them and ended up going with Baby Bum Drops by Knickernappies. They are tiny cubes that you dissolve in hot water and pour or spray on your wipes. When I make a batch I pour 3/4 cup of boiling water into a Thermos, drop in a cube (or sometimes a half of a cube if it's a bit bigger) and then fill it the rest of the way with filtered water from the refrigerator. The Thermos keeps it warm the whole day and that amount will typically last me two and a half days using my current dispensing system, which is kind of wasteful. I pour the solution onto a wipe over the sink and then wring it out a bit. I used to pour it out over a Rubbermaid container and then dump the extra back into the Thermos but I've gotten lazy. I need to start doing that again.

The Baby Bum Drops are safe to use with
cloth diapers and cost approximately $13.99
for 50 of the little blocks.
Here is a link discussing our switch to cloth diapers.
Here is a link with information about our cloth diapering experience.
Here is a link to a comparison between the BumGenius 4.0 One-Size Pocket diapers and the FuzziBunz One-Size Elite Pocket Diapers