Wipe Out

Today was the day we switched over to using cloth wipes for Flynn, who is snuggled up against my chest in his moby wrap as I type! He loves this thing.
4 days old and at the dog park!
We've already blown through two boxes of disposable wipes since he was born. They were very convenient during the first two weeks because he was pooing and peeing so frequently, and that meconium... nasty stuff!  It would have ruined my cloth wipes. However, the disposables were so flimsy and thin, it took a few of them to get everything off Flynn's bum. Just seems like a waste of money to keep buying them week after week. $4 a box x 4 boxes = $16/month for wipes alone. Uh, no thanks. (Buying diapers is annoying me as well but Flynn isn't quite big enough for his FuzziBunz. Soon though!)

After I used the last wipe, I made my homemade wipes solution. My bottle of dish detergent was almost empty, so I rinsed it out to repurpose it for the solution. I used 3 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap (the baby kind in the light blue bottle) and 3 tablespoons of olive oil (to keep Flynn's skin soft). In the future, I might add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender (to make it smell nice) or a few drops of tea tree oil (an anti-fungal).
The oil floats to the top, so I just give the bottle a shake before I squirt it on a wipe.
I felt like something useful could be done with the empty plastic wipe boxes, so I hung onto them and turned to my old friend, Google. Well, Yahoo! actually, but it sounds cooler to say I "googled it." Sorry, Yahoo!

This blog came up and I loved the idea. Who doesn't have a whole bunch of plastic bags shoved in a drawer or closet? I bring reusable bags to the grocery store, but always end up forgetting them when I go to other stores.
I made one for the house (lining waste baskets) and one for the car (doggy poop bags, wet shoes, etc.) Now they are all contained instead of floating around and they pop out easily! I love simple organizing ideas and repurposing.

UPDATE: We removed the olive oil from our homemade wipes solution because it was making our cloth diapers repel pee pee. No bueno! So right now it's just water & Dr. Bronner's and it still works great.


Happy Belated Birthday

Welcome to the world, baby boy!
Tired Mama
Tired Papa

Flynn Ryan Annan was born on November 6, 2011 at 5:30 am. Weighing in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 19" long... he is the most perfect little thing we've ever laid eyes on. We are completely in love.

Birth story to follow!
(Preview: 27 hours of labor...)


Wrap It Up

I don't know why people even bother trying to keep the Christmas season at bay until after Thanksgiving. Even if department stores didn't put up their greenery and start playing festive tunes, chances are you'd be thinking about holiday gift giving in advance anyways.

This year, my family smartly decided to switch over to a pollyanna gift giving format because we're getting too big to buy everyone an individual gift. (My immediate family is now comprised of 8 adults, 7 children & 2 dogs). We drew names over the summer while we were all down at the beach and set a monetary limit of $35-$40 with a "no gift card" rule. Because that's cheating.

As early as August, I create an "idea list" of what I'm thinking of getting my gift recipients, and the list slowly evolves over the next few months. By now, it's pretty much set and I've either bought some of the items and/or have picked up the supplies necessary to make them.

This year, I'm keeping my Christmas list on my new favorite app - Cozi.
I like to do a mix of handmade and store-bought, depending on the person. Let's face it, giving all handmade gifts can come across as cheap (even if they weren't cheap to make) and sometimes, what you plan on making isn't as cool as you thought it was going to be, so it's good to have something else in the box to back it up. Unless you're some world class knitter who consistently bangs out trendy scarves year after year, it's probably best to not rely 100% on your crafting skills. At least, I would never completely rely on mine...

Once November rolls around, I start feeling the holiday pressure. And additional pressure this year, literally, because there is a baby's head pressing on my internal organs. Stores jumping the gun on Christmas may add to this pressure, but in some weird way, I'm thankful for that because I'd be kicking myself if I waited until the beginning of December to start thinking about the holidays.

In addition to finalizing my gift list and starting to cross things off of it, I always think about how I'm going to wrap everything. Last year I posted about how I dislike "traditional wrapping paper." You know, the kind with cartoon santas and reindeer on it? Not a fan. If you give me a gift wrapped in paper like that, I'm not going to judge you or think it's lame, because clearly that wrapping paper spoke to you. The way we wrap gifts reflects our style, whatever it may be.

From http://www.marthastewart.com/276321/gift-wrapping-tips-and-techniques#/218249
Those who received gifts from us last Christmas may recall this wrapping paper in black and red. Spoiler alert! I'm going with solid colored wrapping paper again this year. I'm picking up a large roll of brown butcher paper, plain brown gift bags, colorful bakers twine and printing my own gift tags on cardstock. Free printable gift tags are available all over the internet. Like here & here. I love the simplicity and rustic look. Plus, you can wrap presents in this stuff any time of the year!

So don't get angry at Macy's for playing "Santa Baby" the day before Halloween. Take it as a hint and start prepping early so you can actually enjoy the month of December.


2 down, 998 to go...

I always have a list of projects that I want to do, and there is no end in sight. With this baby coming any day and my time about to be extremely limited, it's a problem. So tonight I happily told my husband, "Of course you can watch Terra Nova!" and I knocked two of them out of the way. To keep Indy from following me around the house, we gave him a disgusting delicious pork bone which he is still gnawing on hours later.
After my fabric flower failure, I decided to finish my placemat clutch with one of the brooches that decorated our wedding cake.

It started out looking like this.

The placemat cost $1.50 (Christmas Tree Shops), the magnetic closure was $2.49 (after a Joann's coupon) and the brooch was reused. Not bad. My plan is to look for some cuter placemats next time. Pier One? World Market? Just wanted to try it out and needed something cheap.
Next, I finished a project that I started LAST WINTER. Oh, the shame. I had promised Tim a cozy man-sized fleece blanket (apparently he was not happy with the size and warming capabilities of our current throws) and after I started it, we moved and it got packed away and forgotten about.

Until tonight!

 Just a simple tie-blanket, but hey, whatever makes the man happy!
I've also realized that this post at Small Notebook totally describes me.
My ideas definitely outweight my action these days.
Having a baby will solve that... mm hm... right.


Forget babies, let's talk dogs.

Bored with all the baby talk? Me, too! So I wanted to share a little about how we take care of our FIRST baby. Our labrador retriever, Indy! His name is short for Indiana Jones, but he is nothing short of adventurous. Keeps us on our toes, makes us clean the house a little more, and loves to lick our faces & feet. We adore him.

I never really gave it much thought before we got a dog, but now I'm such a believer in giving our sweet little pup the best stuff out there. My husband and I are literally seeing first hand how our dog's diet is a positive influence on his health and appearance.

We try to eat healthy. We buy processed snacks and indulge in desserts now and then, but the majority of our diet is made up of whole foods and I make homemade meals almost every night. We buy organic when we can, avoid added sugars and preservatives and also supplement with vitamins. In my mind, human or animal, any member of our family is going to be treated the same.

We got Indy from a reputable breeder when he was 8 weeks old. From the time he was eating solids, she fed him (and his brothers and sisters) Purina Puppy Chow. While researching dog breeds, my Mom sent me a few articles about typical dog food (like Purina) and what goes into it. Ugh, let's just say it was pretty disturbing.

Here are the first 5 ingredients in Purina Puppy Chow: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, whole grain wheat, animal fat.

It doesn't sound terrible, until you realize that animals are like people. What happens when you load them up with processed grains (especially corn) and animal byproducts? They gain weight. They are more likely to develop diseases. They are unhealthy. They have digestive problems. The only healthy things in entire ingredient list are dried carrots and dried peas and they are pretty far down, which means there isn't much in there. Ironic that Purina's motto is "Long Live Your Dog".

So, we decided we were going to switch Indy away from Purina and try one of the newer holistic dog foods on the market. There are more and more available now, which is exciting! I had heard about Blue Buffalo brand and we decided to give it a try. After slowly weaning Indy off of Purina and onto Blue Buffalo, we still weren't impressed. The ingredients were definitely better, but his stools were unpredictable (sometimes loose, sometimes he was constipated) and often times, he didn't even finish the portion we put in his bowl. I'm not saying this dog food is bad, it just didn't agree with Indy so we were ready to try something else.
Indy loved these treats during Puppy Kindergarten & when we were housebreaking him!
Around this time, my Mom went to a local street festival and happened upon a Natural Balance pet food stand, where they loaded her up with free samples. She dropped them off at our house and we decided to see if Indy liked it, because we certainly liked what we learned about the products. (We'd never heard of it before, but once we started Puppy Kindergarten, it turned out to be the brand that the trainer recommended, so we figured it was worth a try).

Could Indy have gone any more BONKERS over this dog food? He went insane and gobbled it up so fast. We ended up giving him the rest of the dog food samples for meals & treats until they ran out, and then continued feeding him Blue Buffalo because we still had a whole bag of it left. Guess what? Once he had a taste of Natural Balance, he wanted nothing more to do with his old food. He was so over Blue Buffalo and would barely touch it. The next bag of dog food we bought was Natural Balance and now we're customers for life.

Just for a comparison... here are the first ingredients in a bag of NB: Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Canola Oil, Potato Fiber, Flaxseed

They also carry wet canned food & yummy "food rolls" that are GREAT for treats!
Indy's coat is sooo shiny - he almost glistens in the sun and we constantly get compliments on it. His poops are always normal, which leads to happy anal glands (graphic, but it's a part of our lives) and his stomach is rarely upset. He is also one muscular dude! 7 months old and he looks like he hits the gym twice a day. Sorry ladies, he's neutered. Playful, full of energy, social with other dogs/people/children, protective of us when strangers come to the door... just an all around happy & healthy pup!

Natural Balance is more expensive because of the high quality ingredients (like venison, sweet potatoes, brown rice & real chicken). It's about $15-20 more per bag than other non-holistic brands. But, like I said at the beginning of this post, we knew when we adopted a puppy that we were going to treat him like a member of the family and to me, giving him the best dog food we can afford is one of the ways in which we accomplish that.

Look at that face!
Disclaimer: Neither of us have any affiliation with Natural Balance, except that we feed it to our dog!