All About That Cloth Diaper

Let’s talk cloth diapers today, shall we? Like why the heck would I choose to deal with cloth diapers when there are so many easy-peasy disposable options out there?

I remember years ago taking a walk with the hubby and we noticed a neighbor had a bunch of laundry out to dry in the sun. Cloth diapers. I don’t think I’d ever really thought about diaper options at that point… doesn’t everyone just use disposables these days? But hubby saw it and said, “When we have a baby, we should do cloth diapers.” I must have agreed because from that point forward my mind was made up. Cloth diapering was the way to go.

When I fell pregnant with Ethan I started looking more into cloth diapers. Ya’ll…there are hundreds…maybe thousands of options out there! All-in-ones, hybrids, pocket, wool, hemp, covers, inserts…what the heck were they talking about? There were so many different types of diapers, so many terms and words I didn’t know and a lot of things to learn. It was SUPER overwhelming for an over-researcher like me.

Today I want to share our reasons for cloth diapering, dispel a few cloth diapering myths and maybe answer some questions if you’ve ever thought cloth might be the way to go for your family. I’ll share what we ended up with, why, what you can expect if you decide to let your babe be a fluff bum (cloth diaper lingo for the puffy diaper bum your lil one has when wearing cloth), why cloth diapering is way better than disposables and way easier than you think.

The basic: WHY CLOTH?

The hubs and I have different reasons for choosing cloth diapers.

His main reason: LESS WASTE. If you don’t know if yet, regular ol disposable diapers take about 500 years to decompose in a landfill and about 5 million TONS of cloth diapers are added every year. Gross. The environmental footprint of disposable diapers is staggering.

With cloth, you buy a set of cloth diapers and wash the dirty ones instead of throwing them away. Ethan’s set of cloth diapers will last him from 3 months to 3 years…and if I take good care of them, they’ll even work for baby #2 in the future. I think 24-30 diapers instead of several thousand is a LOT less waste, don’t you?

SAVE MOOLA. It’s estimated that the average family will spend $2,000-$3,000 in two years per child for disposable diapers. This can be even higher if you choose low chemical, plant based eco-diaper (think Honest Company or Babyganics). In contrast, cloth diapering can cost anywhere from $400-$1000 and can even be used for a second child, saving you thousands. Even when you factor in the energy costs from washing your diapers, cloth wins hands down. One caveat: if you choose cloth diapering with a diaper service the cost can increase to match disposables. You’ll still have all the other benefits, just maybe not save as much money.

My main reasons:

LESS CHEMICALS ON HIS TUSH: Ya’ll, we really need to be paying attention to ALL of the chemicals we are exposing ourselves to these days. The chemical used to make the super-absorbency of disposable diapers is Sodium polyacrylate (also called AGMs), which has been linked to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and can cause allergic reactions. AGMs are also linked to an increase in childhood asthma and a decrease in sperm count among boys. Most disposable diapers are bleached with Dioxin, which, in animal studies, caused nerve damage, birth defects, increased rates of miscarriages and changes to the immune system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified dioxins as a probable human carcinogen. Of course, big diaper companies will state that such chemicals exist in such small amounts that they don’t propose a risk, but exposure over 2-3 years years? This momma won’t risk it.

(Photo source: Grovia)

NO BLOWOUTS: A friend recently showed me a photo of her one-year-old’s massive blow out. Poop was literally flowing out the back of her diaper like a fountain. If this sounds gross to you, cloth diapers are your friend. I have NEVER had a blow out in a cloth diaper.

BREATHABILITY (aka LESS DIAPER RASH): Cloth diapers are made out of materials like cotton, bamboo and hemp. They are highly absorbent and breathable which means less diaper rash. German scientists also have found that the breathability of cloth helps protect baby boys family jewels, pointing out that babies skin temp in disposables was significantly higher than cloth. They suggested that prolonged use of disposable diapers in infants could be an important factor contributing to the decline of sperm production in adult males. Eek!

QUICKER POTTY TRAINING: I’ve been told that babies in cloth tend to potty train earlier because they can feel wetness more easier than disposable diapers full moisture away. Have any of you cloth diapering mommas found this to be true?

So what kind of cloth diaper do we use?
Like I mentioned before, there are tons of options when it comes to cloth diapering and many people with say that their option in the best. For us, I love to use Grovia Hybrid which is a one-size, 2-in-1 system. What that means is that I have colorful, cute, waterproof shells (the outside of the diaper) that I snap cotton or microfiber inserts into (the pee and poop catching part). If he has a wet diaper and the wetness is only on the insert, I pop out the wet insert and snap a clean one in and he’s ready to go. If he poops, the whole thing goes in the wash (more about that later).

The diaper shells are made to fit from 10 lbs to 35 lbs, so basically his entire diapered life. They have snaps on the front so that you can size the diaper as your baby grows without having to buy new diapers. The diapers are mostly what they call “hook and loop” style, meaning that they go on just like a disposable with velcro tabs (snaps are another option). It’s easy for anyone to do, and our nanny learned our diapering system quickly and has no complaints!

(This happens to be my favorite diaper print. So so cute! photo credit: Grovia)

We also have maybe 5 all-in-one diapers from Grovia (love), Thirsties (love) and Bum Genius (so so) that we use. Instead of having an insert that you pop in and out, the whole diaper is one piece. Many people find all-in-one’s the simplest option especially for grandparents and babysitters.

How many do I have?
I think I have 12 covers and about 22 inserts for the Grovia Hybrids, plus 5 all-in-one’s. This is enough to last me about 3 days.

What about washing and poop?
Before 6 months, lil E was exclusively breastfed so his poops would just dissolve in the wash (same for formula fed babies), so every dirty diaper just went into a wet bag (kinda like a lined laundry bag) until I did laundry. No extra care was needed. Once he was eating solids things changed a little bit as I don’t let his poops go in the wash. We use flushable liners now that go in his diaper so when he poops, the dirty liner just goes in the toilet with the poop. Super easy! If you have a septic system, flushing these liners is NOT recommended in which can you just plop the poop into the toilet and trash the dirty liner.

Ya’ll, I was SUPER nervous about Ethan eating solids because of the whole poop issue but let me assure you that it is not a big deal. My husband AND 17-year old nanny both agree that it’s about as easy as disposables. (Side note: did you know that even disposable diaper manufacturers recommend that you dump all poop on the toilet instead of throwing it in the trash? There’s typically a note on the side of the packaging. All that human waste in landfills puts our water sources at risk. Have you EVER seen anyone dump the poop from a disposable?)

As for washing…well that can be a little complicated to explain since there are a lot of factors so I recommend going to Fluff Love University to read up on it all. Basically, I wash the dirty diapers every 2-3 days because I don’t have a giant stash. Each wash includes a quick cycle followed by a regular cycle with an extra rinse.

Tide is the detergent of choice for keeping cloth clean and avoiding problems like ammonia smells (I learned this the hard way). Essential oils, free and clear detergents and most diaper rash creams are no-no’s because they wick moisture away instead of allowing diapers to absorb (I recommend Beautycounter’s diaper rash cream — it’s cloth friendly and works SO FAST!). After the wash cycles I hang the shells to dry on a drying rack and put the inserts in the dryer. Done and done! It’s really so simple and requires minimal work.

What about night time and travel?
There are many amazing options for overnight cloth diapering…but we haven’t really tried them. E is a heavy wetter at night so we have opted to use disposables for night time and that has worked well for us. We also prefer to use disposables when we travel, mostly because cloth diapers are really bulky to travel with and we usually don’t have access to (or don’t want to worry about) laundry. My favorite chemical free disposable diaper is Babyganics. He rarely leaks in them and they are easy to find just about everywhere.

At this point we’ve been cloth diapering for over a year and we love it. It’s money saving, simple and keeps rashes and blow outs away. I realize cloth might not be for everyone for a wide variety of reasons, but if reading this made you think that you might be interested in trying it out, I’ll include some helpful links below.

• to learn more about the dangers and impact of disposables: https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/dangers-of-disposable-diapers

• washing cloth diapers (and everything else cloth diaper): http://www.fluffloveuniversity.com/

• Grover Diapers: www.grovia.com

• Thirsties Diapers: https://www.thirstiesbaby.com/

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If you’re already a cloth diapering momma, why kind of cloth diapers do you prefer? Do you cloth diaper full time or part-time? What do you do for heavy wetters at bed time?

If you aren’t doing cloth but have decided to use only eco-friendly and chemical free disposable options, what brand did you find worked best for you?

Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice (Days 4 and 5)

Do you know that most people who visit Iceland only stay for a day or two? They visit Reykjavik, check out the Golden Circle and maybe stop by the Blue Lagoon on their way to the airport.

If you can swing it, I highly recommend finding a way to extend your stay to at least 5 days. In my opinion, that’s how many days you need to really get out and see some of the best Iceland has to offer.

One of the main sights we wanted to see while in Iceland was the massive Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Iceland is called the country of fire and ice because there are SO MANY glaciers and volcanoes in this tiny country. Remember the volcanic eruption in 2010? I’ll never forget it. That one almost cancelled our honeymoon.

Day 4 of our Icelandic adventure was long, quiet, otherworldly and magical. We totally expected this to be a shorter day, but once again we were eating dinner at 8:30 pm and crashing in bed right after. Thank goodness Ethan was so adaptable!

The route leading to Jökulsárlón glacier is stunningly beautiful with waterfalls, lush green pastures full of baby sheep (the sheep! I wanted to snuggle all those babies!!), empty stretches of black lava rock and miles of moss covered rocks that looked like we were suddenly on another planet. There were numerous waterfalls along the way — so many that I had to cut Jason off…no more waterfall stops until we first get to the glacier!! It’s hard for his happy lil photographer heart and eyes to pass so much beauty by, but I promised him we could stop on the way back.

We did stop a few times along the way to hunt for a package of diapers (diapers were easy to find…packs of less than 80 diapers were not), explore the black lava fields where we felt like the only people in Iceland, to hop along the squishy moss covered rocks and peek in the little triangle homes built into the sides of mountains and mounds of grass. We even stopped for lunch at a tasty little cafe where i had the best $12 bowl of soup and warm, baked bread ever! Jason had a $24 cheeseburger. Ah, Iceland and your prices! But the glacier…THE GLACIER WAS MAGICAL!

I’m not sure what time it was by the time we arrived at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, but we were immediately enchanted. From the road headed east you can see the glacier lagoon with it’s floating icy peaks to the left and the black sand spotted with rocks of ice on Diamond Beach to the right. We’d never seen anything like that beach before so we checked that out first.

The beach is a magnificent black, it’s sand actually volcanic rocks that have been crushed into tiny sand-like bits. Resting all along the beach are giant pieces of the glacier which have broken off, washed out from the lagoon to sea, and then crashed back onto shore by the intense waves. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Even with the cold misty rain coming down, we all loved every minute exploring the beach.

After the beach we crossed the road to visit the glacier. We had seen a few other glaciers when we went to Patagonia but this one had a different look and was oh so pretty. You can take a boat ride to wander between the glacier rocks but that was off limits with a baby so instead we stood on the shore just taking it in. So beautiful.

After all of our glacier exploring we started heading back west a few hours, stopping in Vik to explore for short bit  before our stay at Hotel Geirland, a cozy although simple hotel that has a fairly good restaurant (Ethan tried pickled herring for breakfast and seemed to like it!) and a pasture full of horses and sheep behind the main building.

Our fifth and final day in Iceland found us heading west back toward Reykjavik. This time I let Jason stop at any waterfall he wanted to, although I think we were a little waterfalled-out by this point. Still, we stopped to explore at least 2 or three magnificent waterfalls before driving back into the city to enjoy one final afternoon of exploring. We found an AMAZING and cute bakery and cafe called Bersson Mathus where we had a warm, delicious dinner before heading to our final AirBNB near the airport to be close to for our 6 am flight to Sweden.

 

As special thank you to Bumbleride for the warm weather foot muff that kept our little guy warm and dry nomatter where our adventures took us! His stroller, the Indie, is AMAZING both on and off the road. Learn more about Bumbleride here.

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Where we stayed:

near the glacier: Hotel Geirland

near the airport: Svitan Guesthouse and apartments (we stayed in the spacious apartment)

Good cafe in Reykjavik: Bersson Mathus

Gear:

Bumbleride Indie Stroller (all-terrain, good for jogging)

Fleece baby carrier cover (used over our Lillebaby): Jolly Jumper

 

 

Our Iceland Adventure: The Golden Circle

Day 3 in Iceland:

Here’s the thing about going to Iceland—you’re going to see some of the most beautiful, strange and spectacular sights you’ve ever seen but most of the time it’s gonna require a few looooong days in the car getting there. If you don’t have a week to drive the popular Ring Road around Iceland, the Golden Circle is a great day trip option to take if you are limited on time and want to see some spectacular things. This was a long day, but it still was a really great day.

Leaving Reykjavik and heading northeast, the landscape quickly changed to beautiful open spaces. We stumbled across this group of Icelandic horses that was so stunning that we had to stop. Icelandic horses are really beautiful, friendly creatures and I couldn’t get enough of them. There also were SO MANY baby sheep everywhere. Every field seemed to be full of mommas and baby lambs frolicking about. If you ask me my favorite thing about Iceland it’s going to be all the horses and baby sheep. They were everywhere. Love love.

Our first stop on the Golden Circle was Thingvellir National Park. It was pretty cold and rainy here, but worth exploring. Some fun facts about this area: when the Viking settlers arrived in the 10th century this was the site they chose as the meeting place of Althing, the world’s oldest parliament. This park is also where you can literally walk — or snorkle — along a continental divide, where two tectonics plates that divide North America from Eurasia shift.

Our next stop was Haukadalur, a geothermal area about 60km away from Þingvellir National Park. There are two famous geysers here called Geysir and Strokkur. In fact, the general term “geyser” was named after this particular one in Iceland. It was super fun watching the geysers bubble and churn before shooting up in the air. They also had a nice gift shop and restaurant if you’re craving a hot meal or some ice cream.

Next we came upon my favorite site on the Golden Circle road trip, the spectacular Gullfoss waterfall. This was a MASSIVE waterfall, full of power and truly awe-inspiring which falls 100 feet into a crevice in the earth, producing thick mist & frequent rainbows. It was pretty chilly here, as well, and we were glad to have on our rain gear which kept up dry in all the mist and rain.

The last attraction on the Golden Circle route is Kerid Crater Lake. Kerid is a red volcanic crater covered in green vegetation with a sparkling pool of water at the bottom. It only takes about 15 minutes to walk the rim and another 5 minutes to walk down to the water. By this point we were feeling kinda tired from the day of sightseeing and Ethan was crashed out in his car seat so we took turns walking the crater rim so that we wouldn’t have to wake him. It was a pretty stop, but not our favorite of the day.

(lots of front seat diaper changed on this trip. SO thankful for our easy-going baby boy!)

That night we stayed at the Lambastadir Guesthouse which was a cozy working farm with fields full of animals you could visit. They served a decent breakfast and were able to provide a cot for Ethan to sleep in, but the walls were so thin that we could clearly hear our neighbors talking so when he cried in the middle of the night I grabbed him and brought him into bed with us. Despite the thin walls, we loved this farm stay so much and recommend it as a great place to stay along the Golden Circle.

(surrounded by the super friendly and super curious horses)

Where to stay along the Golden Circle: Lambastadir Guesthouse

Eating: We ate dinner at a Thai restaurant near the guesthouse. It was pretty good…good enough to recommend.

Captivating Iceland: Our first 2 Days

I can’t believe that it’s taken me 7 months to post about our trip to Iceland and Sweden! I guess that’s what having babies looks like. Ha! Ethan looks SO tiny in these photos. Our trip was back in May so some of the details are a blur by now, but I’ll do my best to remember the good stuff. Here we go…

Last December I remember seeing that flights to Iceland were on sale with IcelandAir. Even better was that we could do a “stopover” in Iceland and see somewhere new in Europe as well (more about that later). My husband had been dying to go to Iceland to photograph its incredible beauty since before we were even dating so when I saw the sale I immediately thought that this would make the best surprise trip EVER!! Right? I asked his boss for the time off and started planning. But then the practice side of me kicked in and I realized that I should probably run this kind of expense by him. Ugh. Being practical is so not fun sometimes. Of course he was ecstatic that I wanted to take him to Iceland and said YES!

We decided that we’d love to visit Stockholm as well since neither of us had been there and it was only a 3 hour flight from Reykjavik. Basically our trip was going to be the best of both worlds…rugged, otherworldly Icelandic vistas followed by the charming cobblestone streets of Sweden.

After a quick flight to Seattle we were off to Reykjavik. We decided on IcelandAir over the ever cheap WOW! Air after reading some horror stories about service and delays on WOW! Air. We were flying with our son who was 7 months at the time, and I couldn’t imagine anything worse than sitting on a runway for 3 hours with an infant screaming in my lap. That said, our friends who flew WOW had no complaints or problems.

IcelandAir itself is a nice, no-fuss airline. The planes aren’t huge — basically the same setup at a Southwest plane — and they don’t serve any food and beverages on board so you have to bring your own snacks and meals along. The flight isn’t very long either — just 7 hours from Seattle to Reykjavik — so you really don’t need too much. We left Seattle at 4:30 pm to arrive in Iceland around 6 am, and because we were flying northeast, we were chasing the sun the whole flight and it never was dark. Our neighbor unfortunately watched the sunset (sunrise?) the ENTIRE flight making it impossible to sleep. I think Ethan (our baby) slept about 2 hours while J and I both got about 30 minutes. Not great.

Reykjavik has seen an incredible increase in tourism over the past few years, thanks in part to the stopover option from IcelandAir which lets you stop and visit Iceland for up to 7 days on your way to or from Europe without any additional fees. It’s brilliant, really. The airport is very nice and modern, and they are working feverishly to expand it for all the incoming visitors they now get. We arrived bright and early the next morning and grabbed some breakfast at Dunken Donuts before heading out to get our rental car. Our plan was to grab our car and head straight to the Blue Lagoon to soak and get revived before we could get into our Air BNB in the city. Unfortunately, our rental car company was TERRIBLE (don’t rent from Lagoon Car Rental) and took 3 hours to pick us up, which meant that were were all pretty grumpy by the time we got to the Blue Lagoon, not too mention that we almost missed our time slot at the lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon is a man-made lagoon build on a lava field and filled with geothermal waters that are said to have many health benefits. It’s a pricey place to visit (I recommend taking your own towel and buying the cheapest ticket), but because it’s so close to the airport and most flights either arrive early or leave late at night, it’s a popular place to stop and get refreshed on your way to or from town. We couldn’t get into our apartment until noon so it was a great option for us to kill time that morning. Unfortunately, children under the age of 2 aren’t allowed in the lagoon so J and I had to take turns going into the lagoon. He let me go first while he sat in the cafe and let Ethan nap in his carseat and then we switched.

Before entering the lagoon you are given wristbands and ushered into locker rooms to change, store your belongings and take a naked shower before entering the lagoon. They recommend coating your hair with their conditioner to protect your hair if you plan to put your hair underwater which I did. Take my advice — DON’T put your hair underwater in the lagoon! They say the minerals are good for your hair but it took me SEVERAL days and multiple washings just to be able to get a brush through my hair again. My hair felt like a brillo pad and was so impossibly tangled that I literally thought I had destroyed my hair.

The lagoon itself was lovely, calm and relaxing. Our morning there had some gusty, cold winds so I stayed low in the water and sought out the warmest pockets possible. I took a waterproof case for my iPhone and was able to snap some fun photos while I swam around. They sell iPhone cases there as well, but I can guarantee you’ll save some money by buying one Amazon and taking it with you. In the lagoon they have some mineral masks that you can put on your face and body if you like, they have a swim up bar where you can get smoothies and cocktails and they have a sauna that reminded me of a hobbit house.

Overall, the lagoon was a nice visit. I think we would have enjoyed it more if we could have experienced it together without taking turns, but that would have been the case anywhere with waters that hot. We were SOO tired from our trip that it was about the only activity we had energy for that morning before driving to Reykjavik and taking a 2 hour nap at our Air BNB.

After our long nap it was time to do some exploring. It was still super gusty (I literally thought Ethan’s stroller might blow over a few times) so we all got bundled up and headed out to downtown Reykjavik. Reykjavik is a small city for a capital so it doesn’t take much time to explore. I loved the colorful buildings, the cinnamon rolls we found at a famous bakery, and the quaint shopping streets. We really didn’t do much other than wander around and grab some dinner before heading back to our apartment for an early bedtime (hello jet lag!).

Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik Tips:
– If you haven’t heard it yet, Iceland is expensive. As in the most expensive country in the world. Be prepared to pay more…WAY MORE…than you think anything and everything should cost. The ONLY thing that wasn’t more expensive was Organic baby food.

– Book your Blue Lagoon visit in advance as they often sell out for certain time slots. I suggest packing your own travel towel and buying the cheapest ticket. You really don’t need the robe and slippers in my opinion.

– Iceland is super baby and kid friendly. Everywhere we went had high chairs and SUPER nice changing tables in the bathrooms. It was pretty cold and wet at times so we were thankful for our Bumbleride warm weather muff that kept Ethan toasty and dry in his stroller.

– the most popular grocery store in Iceland is called Bonus and will have just about everything you need. We shopped there for some basics like cheese and crackers and organic baby food. Grocery stores tend to open late in the morning around 10AM and close super early — sometimes by 5 which means do your shopping mid-day!

– Everything in Iceland is CRAZY expensive but you still can find good deals if you plan in advance. We loved our AirBNB rental. At just $99/night, it was warm, comfortable and only a 10 minute walk to downtown

 

Day 2 – Snaeffellsnes Peninsula


After an amazing night of sleep (J and E both slept 13 hours) we woke up ready to see more of Iceland’s natural beauty and loaded up the Duster for a day exploring the Snaeffellsnes Peninsula. Confession — I still have no idea how to pronounce this area! The Snaeffellsnes Peninsula is often referred to as “Iceland in miniature” meaning that you can see pretty much all of what Iceland has to offer — waterfalls, glaciers, charming towns and beautiful sights — in a one day drive. If you only have one or two days in Iceland, this is a great option. We drove and wandered and ate mouth watering fish and chips and took a million pictures and petted Icelandic horses. They say that you can visit the whole peninsula in about 6-8 hours, but I’m pretty sure the person who said that didn’t stop anywhere or perhaps they weren’t married to a photographer 😉 because it took us closer to 10 hours. It was a long day, but it was truly beautiful.

Ethan was such a champ this day. He was still dealing with some jet lag so the long car rides gave him plenty of napping time between us strapping him in and out of the car to take pictures and stand in awe of yet another spectacular vista.

Day 2 win — Stumbling upon a coastal food truck selling fresh fish and chips. It was the best I’ve ever had. Ethan loved it, too.

Day 2 fail — Dominos Pizza for dinner. We were SO tired and it was the easiest option. And because it’s Iceland, our 10” pizza was $22. Ouch.

God Is Able & I Am Fruitful

Most of you know at least some of our story if you’ve been following this blog for a while. You read about our difficulties getting pregnant, the four long and hard years that we prayed and tried and waited, the miracle healing and conception that took place, and then met our miracle baby boy who made us a family. All along in my journey I knew a few things for certain: I knew that God would be faithful to us and bless us with children, and I knew that I would be called to share our story of God’s goodness to encourage others along the way.

Isn’t that how God works? He takes you through the crazy journey of struggle and pain and growing in faith, showing Himself good and faithful all along the way to give you a story SO good, SO amazing, SO glorifying to HIM that you just have to share it with others.

For months and months I’ve heard quite audibly in my spirit that God is calling me to encourage women who are trying to conceive. I’d push it away and think, “Later, later,” only to be convicted once again. I’ve sat next to women at church who have openly told me their infertility struggles, met husbands who have told me about their wives, heard sermons about following your calling. It’s almost humorous, really, how clearly God is eagerly yanking at my dress saying, “THIS is what I’ve called you to do.”

Which brings me to Tuesday.

This Tuesday, August 1, I will be hosting a small group for women who are struggling to conceive, those who have felt the pain of miscarriage, those who’ve lost their newborns, and those who are pursuing adoption because of their fertility struggles. We’ll come together in a safe place where you can share your story and find hope for the journey that you’re in. I don’t have a name for the group yet…I’m still praying through some options….but I do know that this is what God is calling me to do, so I am believing that there are women HE is calling and preparing for the group.

My mission for the group is this:

  • to create a space for women who are longing for children to have a safe place to share with others who understand
  • to pray for one another, believing that NOTHING is impossible for our God
  • to dig into the Word of God to see what He has to say about family, fertility and His promises for us
  • to encourage one another, hold each other up when we’re hurting and find laughter again
  • to create a place where we can hear from women who’ve gone before us and be encouraged by their testimonies
  • to be a safe place to grieve what has been stolen from us and bind us broken hearts
  • to find healing and a renewed hope

I’m SO excited for this group to begin! I have so many things that I want to share with the group, so many lessons and testimonies, scriptures and prayers that helped me along the way. There will be some of my favorite books for ladies to purchase, printouts of scriptures for everyone to take with them, and snacks to gobble up as we catch up with one another.

So my sister, my friend– would you like to join us and share your story? Share your hope, your grief, your pain, your joy, your love, and your heartache?

If YOU live near the N. County San Diego area and this sounds like something you might be interested in, I hope that you will consider joining us! Our first meeting is Tuesday, August 1 from 7-9 PM in Carlsbad. If you want to come, email me at alexisgward(at)gmail(dot)com for my address and directions. The plan for now is to meet every third week which makes our next two meetings August 22 and September 12.

I am so excited about what the Lord has for all of us. It going to be awesome!

xoxo

International Travel With Your Baby

By the time he was 8 months old, our lil bear cub had more stamps in his passport than some of my adult friends. He’s been on 10 airplanes, traveled through multiple time zones, slept in numerous random beds and cribs, missed naps, visited a glacier in cold rain, stayed up past his bedtime almost every night…and we all survived. Even better, we had the time of our lives.

When we tell people that we took our baby with us to Iceland and Sweden this spring we get a lot of responses: everything from “you’re crazy,” mouth hanging open, laughs, looks of disbelief and my favorite, “That must have been hard/terrible.brutal.” I’m not sure why everyone thinks that traveling with a baby has to be miserable. Is it because of all the crying babies you’ve listened to on the plane?

So today I’m here to tell you that traveling with a baby doesn’t have to be miserable. In fact, it can be really fun and awesome. Who says you have to put all of your travels and adventures on hold because you grew a tiny human? You just need a few (dozen) extra things in your luggage, a slower pace and a little patience. No, it won’t be exactly the way it used to be, but isn’t seeing the world through the eyes of a child half the fun of it? Today I’m going to share with you a few of the tips we learned from traveling internationally with our 7.5 month old baby boy.

1. Packing. There’s no getting around it – babies need a LOT of stuff. Especially if you’re going somewhere like Iceland which can have bitter cold temperatures and tons of rain. We managed to stuff all of our stuff into 2 large suitcases and two backpacks. Baby boy’s stuff took up MOST of the space. We managed to pack light for ourselves because we knew we couldn’t skimp on his stuff. While you can’t get away with skipping packing clothes, blankets, food, etc, we did try our hardest to pack as light as possible. Stick to around 3-4 favorite small toys, 2 books if you read every night, only a few extra changes of clothes, and just enough food and diapers to get you through until you know that you can buy more (we were able to find organic baby food that was affordable as well as Pampers diapers in Iceland just about everywhere). There DEFINITELY was a LOT of stuff that we had to haul. We couldn’t avoid a few bulky items like the car seat, stroller, baby carrier and a foot muff for the bitter Icelandic winds — all of which were totally worth bringing which takes us to point #2…

{all bundled up in his Bumbleride winter footmuff which kept him warm and dry}

2. Car seat. This one is a toss up. Let’s start with flying – Many airlines line Southwest, Alaska and Icelandair are very baby friendly and will happily give you an empty seat for you to put your car seat if the flight isn’t fully booked. Trust me when I say that we were SO SO SO glad we lugged our car seat through the airport when it payed off with a FREE seat for baby boy to sleep away in. Icelandair would even move other passengers around so that we could have a full row to ourselves. Ya’ll…it’s painful to hold a 16 lb baby in your arms for 7 hours straight. It was so nice to be able to let him chill in his own seat for most of the flights. Of course, you can always buy your baby his own seat as well. (Side note — please do not check your car seat as luggage! It’s too easy to damage them. Gate check only!) Once in Iceland we also needed the car seat for our rental car. We had actually planned on renting a car seat there as they have different rules around car seats (they require a different buckle type), but our rental car place was crummy and didn’t have a clean car seat ready for us NOR did they know how to install the seat so we just used our own which leads to #3…

3. Make sure you have a locking clip if you take your car seat without a base! Most US car seats come with a locking clip — ours was on the bottom of the car seat. In Iceland, none of the cars seemed to have self-locking seat belts like they do in the US so you HAVE to use a locking clip to make the car seat safe and sturdy. You can request one from your car seat manufacturer if you don’t have one and they will have instructions on how to use it.

{diaper changes can happen anywhere! Back of the car, front seat of the car, in his stroller}

4. Be flexible and patient. Babies require a lot more time to get fed and ready every day and they need extra breaks for naps and eating and diaper changes. We always got a later start than we hoped in the mornings and that was ok! By the time everyone was dressed and fed and on the road, he’d already be ready for his first nap of the day. There were a few times when J would go see a site and I needed to sit in the car or on a bench to nurse for 15 minutes first. Once he was fed he was happy and ready to go! And HE was even more flexible than he is at home.

5. Know your baby. Obviously, every baby is totally different, right? When we were in Iceland, Ethan was 7.5 months old. He wasn’t crawling yet and he loved being in his car seat. It was truly the best timing for this kind of trip where we spent MOST of the day driving in the car with him strapped into his car seat. He would nap and giggle and sing and look out the window. He never had a meltdown in the car the entire trip. If your kid hates car rides, he or she would definitely hate this kind of trip….so maybe a place like Iceland or New Zealand wouldn’t be ideal at this point for you, but somewhere else could be great!

When we hiked the W trail in Patagonia a few years ago we saw a couple who was doing the same hike with their 10 month old on their back. It was a hard trek but that baby was SO happy every day! It was incredible! Their baby loved going on hikes and being outside so that was a great trip for them. Remember, you’re baby is super adaptable so they will probably do better than you think they will, but perhaps try not to put them in a situation where every single day they are miserable.

{napping in Stockholm}

6. Breastfeeding tips. When you breastfeed your baby, you can feed your baby anywhere! And you should! Bring a nursing cover if you care about modesty, but know that many parts of the world are much more accepting of nursing in public than the US. Of course, if you have a little one like mine who gets distracted SO easily, that’s easier said than done. Take a hand pump along so that you can relieve your breasts if you need to — plus, it takes up way less room in your luggage! I love this pump and take it everywhere.

7. White noise is your friend. Be sure to bring along your noise machine or at least download a white noise app (I use one called SleepySounds when I travel) so that you can create a quiet place for baby to sleep regardless of if your hallway echos with every door slam or you are above a noisy city street.

8. Bring a crib sheet. Each hotel on our trip provided us with a crib or a pack and play for Ethan to sleep in –but none of them had any sort of sheet or cover for the bottom of them. Seeing as I don’t know how often or if the crib mattress has ever been cleaned, I always covered it with a light muslin blanket. Just tuck in the blanket as well as you can, and sleep easy knowing that baby isn’t face down on an icky surface.

{checking out the geysir in Iceland}

9. Let go of the schedule. Take a deep breath momma. You can do it! If you’re anything like me, your baby lives, eats and sleeps by a strict daily schedule. I don’t let much mess his schedule up because it keeps momma and baby happy and rested. Before our trip I envisioned us marching back to our hotel every day in Stockholm so that little E could take a 2 hour nap. Haha! That never happened. We’d wander so far from our hotel every day that there was no way that we’d return until after dinner. Instead, we made sure that we were prepared for the day with food and diapers (he is nursing so he always has milk nearby) and we let him take naps whenever he needed them in his carseat (Iceland) or stroller (Sweden). He definitely got more naps in Iceland but he was in no way on his schedule at ALL. Bedtimes were super late after super late dinners. It wasn’t how we wanted it, but it’s just how it went. He’d crash at night and wake up happy and ready to go each morning.

In Stockholm he spent all day either being carried or in his stroller which made for easy napping. He definitely got less sleep there as we pushed him along cobblestone streets, but he sure loved napping in the dark and quiet Vasa museum. Thankfully, our stroller back can be lowered to an almost flat position ( we LOVE our Bumbleride Indie) so when we’d see him fall asleep, we’d slowly lower the back to let him sleep lying down.

10. Have fun. Here’s the thing…you’re gonna have good days and bad day,s but at the end of it all you’ll have created some really incredible memories with your little one. Try not to sweat the small stuff (like the fact that Ethan would not nurse in public in Sweden no matter how hard I tried) and instead embrace each day as an adventure. We’ll never forget how Ethan’s eyes lit up when he saw a waterfall, or how he would squeal and get super excited as we explored beaches and glaciers. We loved watching him pet Icelandic ponies and try crazy foods like pickled herring. We didn’t mind giving up the glacier hikes and horseback rides that we would normally choose to do because this is our life now…slower…different…and perfectly sweet family.

 

 

Taste the Rainbow! Creative Recipes for your Baby

Happy Tuesday sweet friends! If you follow me on Instagram (sandiegolex if you wanna follow along) then you saw that on Sunday I whipped up a batch of creative baby food for our 8 month old, Ethan, while he took a nap. He’s been eating solids for about two and a half months now and seems to be pretty enthusiastic about pretty much every kind of food.

One of my goals for him is not only to feed him good, healthy, organic fruit and veggie combos, but also to introduce him to all kinds of flavors including herbs and spices. I haven’t seen much of that in packaged baby foods so this week I made my own! So many of you commented that you’d love the recipes for your own babies so I thought I better share them. All you need is a saucepan and mesh steamer and either a blender or food processor (we used our amazing Vitamix — it’s the best!). I whipped up about 3 weeks worth of food — 4 different flavor varieties — in around 30 minutes. It’s really SO easy.

Also, sorry about the lack of photos. I didn’t make the food with the thought of doing a blog post on it so I only have a handful of photos…none of them very helpful with the process. Eek! Sorry.

ZUCCHINI + APPLE + SPINACH

• 2 organic small zucchini

• 2 organic apples OR 1.5 C organic unsweetened applesauce

• 1-2 C organic baby spinach

Chop zucchini into 2 inches pieces, core and chop apple into segments. Place zucchini, apple then spinach into steamer in that order over boiling water for 10 minutes or until zucchini is tender to prick. Do not mix and keep spinach on top.

Combined all ingredients into blender or food processor and pulse until you achieve desired consistency. My lil guy prefers super smooth. Add more applesauce or a tablespoon or so of the steamer water if you need to thin.

Makes roughly 20 ounces of puree. Store in airtight container in fridge for 3 days or 2 months in freezer.

 

ZUCCHINI + KIWI + MINT

• 1 organic small zucchini

• 2-3 organic kiwis

• 2 mint leaves

Chop zucchini into 2 inches pieces. Place zucchini into steamer over boiling water for 10 minutes or until zucchini is tender to prick.

Scoop out the kiwi from it’s skin and add to your blender or food processor with the steamed zucchini and mint leaves. Combined all ingredients into blender or food processor and pulse until you achieve desired consistency. My lil guy prefers super smooth. Add some extra kiwi, applesauce, or a tablespoon or so of the steamer water if you need to thin.

Makes roughly 16 ounces of puree. Store in airtight container in fridge for 3 days or 2 months in freezer.

 

MANGO + CARROT + GINGER

• 1.5 Cups fresh or frozen organic mango

• 2 organic carrots (orange, yellow or white is fine)

• 1/8 tsp fresh ginger

Peel and cut your carrot into 1-2 inch pieces. Add to your steamer pot with the fresh ginger and steam for about 12 minutes or until the carrots are super soft. Combine the carrots, ginger and mango in your blender or food processor and blend until super smooth. Add steamer water by the teaspoon if you need to thin the mixer to get the perfect consistency.

Makes roughly 16 ounces of puree. Store in airtight container in fridge for 3 days or 2 months in freezer.

 

BLUEBERRY + PURPLE CARROT + NUTMEG

• 3 large purple carrots
• 1 cup blueberries
•  a dash of nutmeg

Peel and roughly chop carrots. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the carrots to a steamer basket and cook for 12 minutes. Add the blueberries to the carrots and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Reserve steamer water.

Place the carrots, blueberries and nutmeg into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, adding reserved water, breast milk or formula in teaspoon increments if needed.

Makes roughly 12 ounces of puree. Store in airtight container in fridge for 3 days or 2 months in freezer.

PS I found all of these recipes…or recipes very similar to these…on this awesome website.

Why We All Need Safer Beauty

charcoal-barFriend,

Do you have any idea what the ingredients are in your shampoo? What about your lotion? Or that perfect red lipstick that you love so much?

1938.

That was the last time the US passed a major federal law regulating the cosmetics industry. 79 years, you guys.

1,400.

The number of ingredients that the European union has banned from cosmetics, calling them questionable or harmful. The US has banned or restricted only 11.

When I was struggling with infertility, I learned a lot about the body and after almost 4 years of trying, was willing to do just about anything to get pregnant. We changed our diets, turned off WiFi at night to reduce EMFs, did all kinds of tests, avoided all kinds of delicious foods like gluten and dairy (I dreamed of pizza), got poked and prodded and so much more.

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We also started paying attention to what we put ON our bodies. You see, our skin is the largest organ in our bodies and will absorb anything we put on it in mere seconds. That includes lotions, soaps, makeup, deodorant, shampoos, etc. All soaked up and into our skin, scalp and the rest of our bodies. So I started to take a closer look at the products I was using. I read this awesome book recommended by a friend called No More Dirty Looks and was terrified about the ingredients in my skin care and makeup. Some of those ingredients:

Formaldehyde: used as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Present where quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), and several other preservatives are listed. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.

Parabens  (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others): a class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation.

Phthalates  (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others): a class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray, and plastic materials.

Triclosan and Triclocarban: antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment; may also impact human reproductive systems. Found in: liquid soap, soap bars, toothpaste.

Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (Vitamin A): a nutrient that may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used topically. Found in: moisturizer, anti-aging skincare.

Yuck, right?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But the shampoo/lotion/body wash I’m using says it’s natural!” There’s a nasty lil thing called greenwashing that happens all the time in the beauty industry. That’s when companies throw around terms like preservative-free or natural or even dermatologist-tested. Because of major loopholes in U.S. federal law, cosmetics brands are able to boldly make claims like “natural” and “non-toxic” without proper regulations, so most of these terms end up becoming meaningless. This is known as greenwashing.

It’s time to take a good look at what we’re putting on our bodies! What can we do about it? Check out http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ and search for a few of your daily skincare products and favorite makeup items. How do they rate? Do any of the ingredients shock you? I know that I was horrified by the ingredients in most of my daily regiment, and that’s when I started looking for better options.

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I’ve been trying a lot of cleaner products over the last 5 years or so. Some are good, some are not so good. About a year ago I discovered BeautyCounter. BeautyCounter is a skincare company dedicated to selling safer products but also to educating and empowering consumers with the knowledge to make better purchasing decisions.

And it helps that their products are AMAZING.

I love their skincare line…so luxurious and delicious smelling. And it works! I honestly had low expectations for their shampoo and conditioner for my crazy hair and it surprised me completely…SO GOOD! Their plumping mask is the best thing ever for *ahem* aging skin (hello peony scent!…all essential oil based scents) and it makes my skin look so young and fresh. Their mascara is award-winning and seriously the BEST of the safer, more natural mascaras I’ve tried (and I’ve tried maybe 3 or 4).

But you guys, don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself! If you want to try out some Beautycounter goodies, just leave me a comment below and I’ll hook you up!

If you love the mission of Beautycounter as much as I do, consider hosting a social to share what you’ve learned with your friends (with the bonus of earning FREE product for yourself!), or better yet, join our community and sign up as a consultant — you can make an impact while earning a significant income for your family.

***And as a special for the month of May ONLY, all purchases of $150+ will be entered to win a FREE Protect Stick Sunscreen for your face! And until May 11 you will also get a FREE LIP GLOSS with your $150 purchase. That’s right, free sunscreen from me AND free lipgloss from Beautycounter!!! This includes Band of Beauty purchases (which is awesome because you will you be saving money and getting credit towards more good stuff). Also, anyone who signs up to be a consultant and buys a starter kit will get a FREE lip sheer in the color of your choice. Good stuff!!!***

 

I love you guys and want everyone to be more aware of what they are putting on their skin. For their own health. For their familes. For their futures.

xoxo

10 Baby Items We Can’t Live Without

I remember when I was working on our baby registry. My husband looked over it and scoffed. “It’s a baby! It’s so tiny. How in the world could he need so much stuff?”

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{all of our goodies from one of our baby showers…so blessed!}

It’s true that as Americans we can totally go overboard on “stuff.” We think we need so much…but do we really? Living in SoCal means that we have a much smaller home so we just don’t have room for anything we don’t actually need so with baby boy on the way, we tried to only ask for things that we really, really needed. Of course, there’s no way to really know what your little bundle with like (being worn), dislike (the swing) or how many burp clothes you will really need (more than we could have ever imagined) until they are in your arms.

Truthfully, while things like clothes, diapers and wipes are universally needed, the rest of this stuff is a bit of a game of preferences and personality. That said, there have been a few baby items that have been worth their weight in gold.

We’re four months into this adventure called parenting and here are 10 items that we can’t live without:

1/ Solly Baby Wrap – I love this thing and Ethan loves to be worn. I think babywearing is one of the best things ever. Your baby loves it because they get to snuggle into your chest, and you love it because you can sniff your baby’s sweet head while having both hands free to get stuff done. The Solly Baby Wrap wins over the other guys because of it’s lightweight fabric that won’t leave you sweating while you wear your little hot pocket. Plus, the have the cutest prints and colors to choose from. I’m in love with my grey and white striped wrap, but if I had some money to burn I’d totally pick up this perfect Rifle Paper patterned wrap as my second one. And don’t be intimidated by this wrap — it’s way easier to put it on than it looks. Just watch their videos and follow along with a stuffed animal the first time and you’ll do great!

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2/ Dockatot – When my friends first started having babies, they would talk about this Dockatot thing like it was magical. It’s basically a co-sleeper baby pillow with a bumper around it, not too unlike a dog bed. The sides give the baby that cozy, in the womb feeling while preventing mom and dad from rolling over on them and baby from rolling out. We don’t actually have Ethan in the bed with us, but we do use this in his bassinet as it fits it perfectly. These things are honestly crazy expensive and overpriced in my opinion, but I found ours on Craigslist for $50. It must work since Ethan has been sleeping for 5+ hour stretches since he was 4 weeks old and through the night since he was 3 months old. And let’s be honest – sleep is golden.

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3/ Hands free silicone nursing pump – GUYS! Have you tried one of these? It’s this simple silicone suction-y thing that you attach to your breast while you are nursing on the other side and it collects all this milk without you having to do hardly anything! This is truly one of the best things I discovered as a breastfeeding aid. Ethan would often only nurse on one side, especially in the middle of the night, leaving me with a leaky and painful boob. But then I got this magical thing; I would suction it on while he nursed and when he was done, I’d have about 3 oz of milk collected. This is how I built up my milk stash without having to add extra pumping sessions. Pure magic. This pump would be awesome for traveling because its so small and portable and I have heard women say that it is the only pump they use. I personally don’t do as well with it if Ethan isn’t latched on since he triggers my let-down. screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-12-20-41-pm

And in case you are wondering, my second favorite pump is this one by Avent. I honestly prefer both of these to my fancy electric Modela.

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4/ Play Mat – My sanity. Ethan has loved his time on his play mat since about 6 weeks which means that I can eat breakfast, blow dry my hair, check emails, whatever I need — for about 20-30 minutes without him needing my utmost attention. This thing is used ALL. THE. TIME. Baby’s happy. Momma’s happy. This isn’t the mat that we have but it sure is cute. This play mat is from Skip Hop.

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5/ Coconut Oil – In case you’ve been living under a rock and missed it, coconut oil is the bomb-diggity. Lather your baby up with this stuff and not only will their skin stay moisturized but it will also take care of diaper rash, acne, cradle cap and will soothe achy gums when teething. This is the brand we use and love because it doesn’t taste like coconuts (which is important because we also use it for cooking).

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6/ Swaddle Wraps – Our little guys loves being swaddled. When he was tiny and new we could swaddle like a pro in a blanket, but it wasn’t long before his arms would break free and unravel his cozy blanket. These swaddle wraps are just the answer! We used the Swaddle Me wraps for the first few months until he grew out of them. Now it’s colder so we’ve transitioned to a fleece swaddle by Halo so that we can let him sleep with his arms out during the day and tucked in at night.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-2-34-13-pm7/ Burp Clothes – Get more than you think you’ll need. We probably go through about 4-5 burp clothes a day since baby boy is a spit up machine. I have a few “fancy” burp clothes — the kind that have cute patterns on them and are made of organic cotton. I call them my “going out burp cloths.” The rest of the time we just use good old fashioned cloth diapers.

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-3-51-47-pm8/Noise machine – Babies LOVE white noise. Apparently the womb was a very noisy place to sleep, so if you want your baby to sleep well outside of the womb, a noise machine is a must. It’s also great for mom and dad when baby is sleeping in your room and grunting all night long (Ethan used to sound like he was lifting weights from 4-6am every morning). We love this noise machine for the variety of sound options, it’s portability and the fact that it can run on a battery for travel.

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-11-44-13-am9/ Nursing Night Light – GUYS! This little light was a life saver when I was nursing in the middle of the night! It’s a tiny little light that clips onto your shirt or bra strap and gives off just enough light so that you can see what you’re doing without waking dad up. It’s not perfect…my light has gotten to where I have to push it like 5 times to get it to turn on…but when you have a baby that likes to spit up ALL OVER YOU in the darkness, you’ll be glad to have this.

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10/ Glow-in-the-dark Pacifier – If your baby takes a pacifier at night and then drops it in the middle of the night, you know what it’s like to be feeling around the crib looking for the hidden pacifier! Our little guy doesn’t actually need a paci until about 4 or 5 am and usually wakes up once because he dropped it and needs it. Now. Ethan loves the MAM pacifiers best so I was thrilled to discover that they make glow-in-the-dark pacifiers! They hold a light glow all night long which is miraculous and they give you two in a package which is awesome for when your dog eats the first one (bad dog).

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** Bonus: Are you guys ready for this one? You’re gonna want to make fun of me but I’m only sharing what really works. Recently I discovered that Ethan will go to sleep in minutes if I play one specific lullaby album — get ready — my husband rolled his eyes but it’s seriously magical — it’s Nick Lachey’s “A Father’s Lullaby.” Honestly, the songs are so sweet and beautiful and not cheesy at all. And the first song, “All Through The Night” must pump melatonin into the room or something because about two minutes into it Ethan’s eyes start to get heavy. You can thank me later.

What are some of your must have’s for baby? Is there anything you can’t live without that I left off of the list?

All of these opinions are mine and mine alone. The makers of these products have not given me any of these items for free in return for my review of them…although I’d happily receive and review any items they want to send me!

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