Day 17: Who Are You Swimming For?

Hello, how are you, g’day and welcome to you! This post is part of a series I’m working my way through in the month of October, called Swim Your Own Race. If you’d like to start at the beginning (it is a very good place to start, after all) you can do so, right here. I hope you enjoy diving in!

_________

An opening of the honesty box at the expense of seeming weird is probably pretty well overdue in this series. You might already think I’m an odd cookie, but perhaps I can help you out and let you know for sure.

Kidding. I guess.

So, a certain little holiday is just around the corner here in North America, which is also celebrated in some other parts of the world. And it is my least favorite holiday, ever. I REALLY don’t enjoy diverting my children’s eyes from all the blood and gore lining the aisles of some of the stores we visit. And on a road trip earlier this month, there were awful, awful images on billboards — bloody, gory, scary people staring right off the road into the car, inviting people to visit some corn field where they could get so scared they might wet their pants.

Fortunately the kiddos were distracted and we kept on truckin’.

In our neighborhood, however, there’s a little tradition of dressing up, the families getting together to share a meal, and the kids walking around the neighborhood together, to collect their beloved candy.

I love love love getting to know my neighbors better and getting to spend time with them so we are totally keen to jump in again this year. Even though it is my least favorite holiday. 

The boys have been chatting about what they’d like to dress up as, pretty much since last year, and they came to the conclusion that they wanted to be the Wild Kratts. {Two brothers, one with blonde hair, one with brown, who travel the world on creature adventures… it is very fitting for our little guys.}

So the Hubs and I finally chatted a bit about costumes last night. And I found myself strangely torn… we’re getting to the weird spot, so bare with me.

31Days

As we went to bed last night, I was praying and talking to the Lord about the fact that my children are always asking me for things, and it kind of weighs me down, and I wondered if, since the Lord’s children are always asking Him for things, does it weigh Him down, too? Like, does He ever long for, and desire intimate relationship with His children that is not based on the exchange of goods and services?

And then, thinking about what our children want versus what they need, and the boundaries we set, (but how do we find them?), I asked:

How do I find a balance — world hunger vs. Halloween costumes? How do I practically live this out?

And I realized that one issue was framing a lot of things for me. Maybe it seems weird, but it is what it is, and maybe it’s because I have seen what I’ve seen and been where I’ve been, but when I spend money on non-necessities here, I constantly think about the non-negotiables someone else is missing somewhere else.

So I try my best to live frugally and give generously, but I think there’s an underlying layer of guilt that just frames everything to do with finances. Because we have what we have, and while by American standards it might not seem like much, I know better. I’ve seen.

I asked this question and sat still, and took a breath, and then opened my Bible. I just so happened to come to a passage of Scripture, which was the next one for me to read on my reading plan, that took my breath away with the answer.

In Matthew 26, this woman anoints Jesus with oil from her alabaster jar. The oil in that jar was very costly, like a years’ wages some scholars imagine, and the disciples were indignant about it. “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

But when Jesus was aware of what was going on in their hearts, this was His reply: “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Two very important lessons were contained in this passage for me last night.

First, Jesus explained that We will always have the poor… Now that doesn’t mean we give up on the poor, give up on making a difference with regard to the poverty we see in the world around us. We are specifically instructed to care for the poor, and Jesus went so far as to explain to John, when asked if He was the Messiah, that, among other signs that He was the One (the blind see, the deaf hear…) He mentioned that The poor have the gospel preached to them. Caring for the poor is close to the heart of God.

However, the fact that there are poor people in the world cannot define all of our actions.

Solving the problem of poverty cannot be the cause that gets us out of bed in the morning. Nor can the environment, not can the AIDS epidemic, orphans or politics.

This is where the question comes in: What or Who Are You Swimming For?

A few months ago, I shared a post here about cloth diapering. I’d been at it for well over a year, and, at the core, it was just something I felt convicted to do for the sake of the environment and to be financially thrifty. I felt a tug about it and jumped in.

Shortly after I wrote that post, I got a sense that the Lord was telling me to take a break from cloth diapering. The Hubs also suggested that we take a break.

I didn’t want to take a break. But finally, it seemed clear that that was the Lord’s direction, so I did.

Just a few days later, the Belle came down with an awful stomach bug. While I’ll spare you the details, I will just simply explain that I was very grateful I’d listened to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and obeyed God. She was wearing disposables… glory, hallelujah!

This is the second important lesson from Matthew 26: Caring for the poor is a high calling, but following Jesus is a higher calling. Every single conviction that God has ever or will ever place on our hearts has to remain secondary to the call to love and follow Christ. Let’s put it this way:

Every conviction has to have Christ at the Center or it will be elevated above Christ in the end.

I sometimes resist the leading of the Spirit to cling to the comfort of an old conviction.

We’ve come back to Hebrews 12 repeatedly throughout this series, and guess what? this is a very appropriate moment to do so again:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Where do we fix our eyes as we swim the race of our lives?

Only always ever on Jesus.

We might all be surprised to realize that there are things we are clinging to in the Name of Christ, that might actually be distracting us from truly following Christ, listening to His Spirit, and daily submitting to His will.

He has to be the one that we’re swimming for — every cause, every conviction, every care has to come in second. What freedom we can find when we simply fix our eyes on Jesus!!

I’m grateful that this moment has reframed a lot of life for me. How do we decide how best to swim forward with our race?

Thank goodness it’s simple, because I’m not hungry for making things complicated. We keep on looking at Jesus.

Swim well today, friends.

xCC

 

 

Day 12: This Post is Seriously Not so Serious

A big, smiling welcome to you! This post is part of a series I’m working my way through in the month of October, called Swim Your Own Race. If you’d like to start at the beginning (it is a very good place to start, after all) you can do so, right here. I hope you enjoy diving in!

_______

How long has it been since you last danced your little heart out?

Like really, danced it out.

This is a serious question.

Sort of.

You see, we capture imagery at weddings lots and often, and I tend to simultaneously take pictures and study human nature.

And Watson, my dear fellow, I have an observation.

A lot of us take ourselves too seriously.

Seriously.

31Days

I know the world is full of different personalities. There are people that instantly shy away when a camera is pointed in their direction. There are people who do their best to put on a smile they might’ve practiced in the mirror. And, there are people who instantly move toward the camera and stick out their tongues.

{The latter are kind of my favorite.}

At weddings, there are people who get out on the dance floor when they know the song and feel certain they’ve got the moves for it. There are the people who only dance if they’re asked (or even dragged) to the dance floor. There are people who take themselves too seriously to dance at all. And, there are the people who will be on the dance floor, every song, all evening long.

{The latter are kind of my favorite… empty dance floors just don’t make for interesting photos.}

I can’t say that I’m out on the dance floor particularly often, seeing as though I need to be capturing imagery of what’s happening there, but I will occasionally photobomb an iPhone shot or two. So I guess I’m somewhere in the middle.

But sometimes I think I… and a lot of my fellow humans… are too stuffed full of our own importance to relax and just enjoy life. We’re stressed because we feel like the work that we do and the things that we accomplish each day are important — and hear me on this one, I’m not saying they’re not.

But here’s what I am saying.

When I have a dance party in the living room with my kids… that’s important, too. It doesn’t earn money or pay bills or help fix a meal or accomplish laundry or get the house one ounce cleaner. (It’s typically the opposite). But the attention and the fun of taking long enough to just search for Mike Tompkins on youtube and find what I can find is important to my children, and that should be a lot more important to me than it is.

We all have a race to swim. We are all on a journey in this world until we breathe our last breath.

But the people who are closest to the end of the line typically seem to have a different perspective on what’s important in life than the rest of us. Their bucket lists usually focus around making memories, choosing joy, and just enjoying whatever each day brings… living life to the fullest.

If I could draw a little line across your screen right now with “I’m buttoned up so tight a good sneeze might make me pop” on one end of the spectrum and “I’d have a dance party right now, in a parking lot, with a ton of strangers, in a polkadot leotard, while half my town watched” at the other end, where do you think you’d fall?” Quite a bit closer to buttoned up?

Is there a small possibility that you’re taking the things that you do each day a little too seriously? I do. Is there the potential that the world will keep turning if you drop a couple of the plates you’re spinning — and do you maybe need to be reminded of that? I do.

It doesn’t have to be dancing in a parking lot — or even in your living room — but what is it that helps you let go, feel humble and human and loosen up and just breathe? (That doesn’t involve drug usage or other actions that the Lord might not be such a big fan of? And is that perhaps a worthwhile question — do you have to have a beer in your hand to relax? Why? I digress!)

Yesterday at his soccer game, the Bear got hit in the tummy with the ball. When he told his coach what happened, his coach gave him some great advice: Shake it off and get back out there.

Sometimes life hurts big time, but our race is still happening. We have to be willing to dive in again, and keep going for it.

When we take ourselves too seriously, just about everything that happens to us, everything we feel we need to get done, everything other people might say about us that hurts or that makes us feel good, everything we do each day… it can all seem like such an overwhelmingly big deal.

But if we remember, in the span of the incredible vastness of eternity, that we are a tiny blip on the timeline, it’s easier to just hold onto the Truth that life is a fleeting and precious gift and we are the grass-like, fleeting, privileged recipients.

So, I have a little challenge for you. A little homework if you will.

When something happens today, as I’m sure it will, that just wasn’t what you wanted to happen, remember your place in the timeline of eternity. You are a tiny speck — but WOW, you are simultaneously so rare, and precious to the God who created it all.

Your assignment for today is to gather the kiddos (if there are any) in the living room, or a friend, or a hubs, or just go for it right by yourself (but don’t go solo because you’re too afraid to let anyone see you) — and just dance. This is an exercise in NOT taking yourself too seriously. Celebrate the gift that is today — your race is happening! Your life is here!

If you aren’t joyful yet, dance until you get there. And when that unpleasant thing happens, can you shake it off?

I’ve included a song below to start off your dance party.

Remember that an incredible, loving, unchanging God is in heaven above. He’s on the throne, He’s sovereign and powerful, and He is gloriously good. Let this Truth help you to shake it off – whatever comes to weigh you down.

xCC

Parents — I initially included Taylor Swift’s video to “Shake It Off” with this post, but there is a mild scene of “bootyshaking” in that video, so, wanting to not cause offense, I decided to post a video by Mike Tompkins instead, which my family likes to dance to in the living room, and which does not include “bootyshaking.” (I love the message behind the lyrics in Swift’s song though, so I still think it’s worthwhile checking out. You can read the lyrics here.)

 

 

____

Don’t forget! There are LOTS of other writers doing #31Days this October, too! One of my favorites is my friend Amanda at Seriously. You can find more 31 Days series by visiting write31days.com.

Infant Potty Training {Yes, Really}

Okay, Mamas.

It feels totally weird and funny and a heap of other adjectives to be writing on this topic. I would much rather be writing about the Lord — and perhaps somehow that subject will tie in, as I believe it does with pretty much everything — but I have had a number of questions about this rather unusual subject… So! Let’s dive in with a backstory, shall we? Never hurts to know where you’re coming from before you know where you’re going.

Ugh. What?

Some of you have been reading around here long enough to know that I had the privilege of spending a couple of years living in Hero Hubs’ territory, our beautiful and beloved South Africa. My heart pines for those distant shores… a story for another day. Now, while I was in South Africa, more specifically near Cape Town in Gordon’s Bay, I had the privilege of making some pretty awesome friends. One of those friends was named Lucy.

Lucy had a little girl who was just about the same age as the Bear. These were the days when I still just had one kidlet running around (same for Lucy). Lucy often came over for coffee and we’d go for a walk around the neighborhood and talk about faith and parenting and budgeting and planning and all those wonderful Mom-topics that inevitably make their way into conversation almost every time you speak with another Mom for more than thirty-seven seconds.

So in one of those coffee-and-chat moments, Lucy mentioned that she’d been taking her little one to the potty on a regular basis since she was, like, super-young. This was four years ago, so forgive me for not remembering tons of details. Her little girl was used to the idea of sitting on the potty and going, like before she was a year old. But when winter came to SA, she stopped wanting to go because the toilet seat was cold, and Lucy was trying to decide what to do.

bellepottygraphic Suddenly this lightbulb went off in my brain… something like, Wait!!! You’re telling me there’s another way, besides just doing diapers until your kid is old enough to fight with you and you reward him with M&Ms for six months and eventually he ‘gets it’ and goes? I considered the possibility of working with the Bear some more, but didn’t feel like I knew enough to make any changes, didn’t ask enough questions, promptly allowed life to carry right on, and eventually potty-trained the Bear when he was a respectable bit-less-than-two-and-a-half, because I wanted him to be out of diapers before the Tank steamrolled into our lives and got into them.

Fast forward one country and two kids later. We’re in the States, and expecting the Belle. And I suddenly get the itch to consider cloth diapering again. Because picturing a third kid coming into our lives and filling trash can after trash can with diapers was an idea that was just making me more and more uncomfortable. After doing some research, I connected with another local Mama on Facebook (named Michelle) who was getting rid of a cloth diaper stash. A hop, skip and a jump later Michelle was in my living room, explaining a bit about cloth diapering to me, and mentioning the fact that her diapers were exceptionally clean because she did infant potty training. And wait! Said my brain. I’ve had some thoughts about that before! She shared a little bit more in detail about how she went about with the process of infant potty training, and my brain spun for about thirty minutes afterwards with thoughts like:

  • Wait! It’s actually natural for a child to get used to going when they’re held in a position that relieves their pelvic muscles. This makes a lot of sense. 
  • Hey! That’s what Lucy back in South Africa was talking about.
  • Whoa, wait a minute! What do people who live in poverty and can’t afford disposable diapers do anyway? 
  • Hmmmmmmm. Is this a giant diaper-pilfering conspiracy, spear-headed by people who don’t mind trashing the planet as long as they can line their pockets?
  • Why does everyone think we have to wait until our kids are three to potty-train anyway?

A feverish frenzy of googling ensued, and while I couldn’t find a lot of the information I was looking for, I made a couple of good discoveries, like:

  • Infants can be potty-trained.

Belle Potty 002

Baby-center commented, “While the notion of potty training a very young infant seems radical to many American parents, it’s not a new idea. Before 1950, most children in the United States were toilet trained by 18 months. And today, most African, Asian, and European babies are trained well before their second birthday.” Source

So, with my brain spinning with a myriad of confusing concepts, the American Academy of Pediatrics telling me that babies are physically unable to control their bladder or bowels much before 18 months, and a ton of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, I decided, well, little Belle, my darling girl. You’re here, and I’m about to start cloth diapering you. And you know what? Cloth diapering would be a lot cooler if your poops went in the potty.

So, when she was about three months old, (maybe a little younger) there was a particular day where I knew she hadn’t pooped for a while, and I could tell she was irritated about that. I had a froggy potty (borrowed from my sister) hanging out in my bathroom and I said, What the heck.

Feel free to skip off to another website because you now think I’m a complete liar, but I sat the baby on the potty and she pooped immediately. Not five minutes later. Not two minutes later. Immediately.

So I felt there was some credence to the notion that certain muscles are being relieved when we relieve ourselves, and it seemed natural for my little one, when placed in a position on a potty which relieved those muscles, to relieve herself.

Because she did.

Belle Potty 003

At the time it felt like SUCH a big deal. Suddenly, there was this whole new option for dealing with the fact that kids need to potty, and I didn’t even know it existed!! I didn’t have grandiose ideas of any proportion — I just made one simple goal at that point: pay enough attention to the Belle that most of the time she poopies in the potty.

Over the next few weeks I began to pay attention to timing and signals (often facial signals) that said, “Take the Belle to the potty” and she quickly got used to pooping there. I dabbled in going further and regularly taking her pee pee as well. She often pee peed when I took her potty, but I just wasn’t as consistent about taking her, so we were using cloth diapers for that.

But the main thing I was hoping for, I was able to quickly achieve: By around four months of age, I was catching about 90% of little Belle’s poops in the potty.

For the past sixteen months or so, the Belle has been using the potty for poopies. She rarely has an accident, and if she does, it is usually when I’m not around and I forget to mention to someone else “the signal” — which she developed herself. A while ago, she started patting herself on the behind, while murmuring something unintelligible. After the pat, she walks to the bathroom, and I follow, and help her up onto the potty to do her business.

Honesty box opening up here: I have been totally lazy about the pee pee thing. I’ve dabbled in trying to take her very consistently, so that we could move towards skipping out on diapers altogether. When I pay attention, we do have some great success, but inevitably I decide to take the diaper off and let her run free, I forget to take her potty, we have an accident or two, and I say, WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MAHSELLLF! (It’s never a poop accident, mind you.) And then I go back to just making sure she poops in the potty.

The fact that we are very successful on the pee pee front, when I’m consistent, indicates to me that fully potty training a little one by twelve months or so has to be possible. Michelle’s little one was fully potty-trained around then. We are still in progress, and we have made it through at least a half a day without a pee pee accident, but, if you think about it, we kind of train our kids to get used to going in diapers, and then we have to go about the business of un-training that when they’re older.

Might as well blame mahself.

If we are fortunate enough to welcome a fourth Collie kid into our family at some stage, I will aim at much more faithfully attempting the potty training right from the start. (Well around the first or second month maybe).

If you are interested in learning more about Infant Potty Training (and I do highly recommend trying it) Babycenter has a pretty good overview on the topic with some good How-To’s to get you started. I imagine you can find the subject in a number of online forums as well, to find out more about what has worked for other parents. Google “infant potty training” or “elimination communication” and let your head spin!!

Two major things worked for me, especially getting started:

  1. Consistent Timing – Aim to take baby to the potty at the same times each day, perhaps always before a nap, always after a nap, always before a meal, always 20 minutes after a meal… you get the idea. Once you start to observe what the timing is for your kid doing their business, you can help them work toward getting used to going when you take them, around those times.
  2. Distraction, Distraction, Distraction – I imagine hanging your tiny wee bare bum over the edge of a toilet seat that is cooler than room temperature isn’t particularly exciting. Especially at the beginning, I had a few interesting toys I’d let the Belle hold when I sat her on the potty. I also sang particular songs, that I only sang at potty time. I humbly ask forgiveness to the people of Scotland, I turned the Ally Bally Bee nursery rhyme into a song about Arabella Bee going potty. But it worked.

Belle Potty 001

Imagine how many diapers wouldn’t end up in landfills if we returned to the art of infant potty training! I know it’s not a possibility for everybody, but, if it is a possibility for you, it’s worth considering! Less throwing away trash, less throwing away cash… win, win!

Any Mamas out there who’ve tried or succeeded at infant potty training? Or are you a Mama willing to consider it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

xCC

The Skinny on Cloth Diapering {A Review}

Four score and three kids ago, Hero Hubs and I sat down and discussed whether or not we wanted to use cloth diapers. I was aware of the environmental impact of disposable diapers and leaned a little more in the cloth direction. We lived in Scotland at the time and found that there was a nappy (diaper in many English-speaking countries outside the US) service available, so that we would actually not even have to clean our cloth diapers ourselves. We looked at the figures estimating how much it would cost per nappy to participate in the service and eventually decided if we were barely breaking even it probably wasn’t worth the extra effort, but we could look into it again later. Times were kinda tight.

We moved to South Africa, where the Tank was born two and a half years later, and again thought about cloth but just didn’t think we were up for the extra laundry, the extra effort, and so on. We also got disposables at a discount because of our health insurance company, which helped because they were much more expensive in SA than the UK. It was definitely more convenient. But with each kid, my discomfort about the ginormous amount of trash we were creating grew a little more and a little more.

Finally, when we were back in the States and expecting the Belle, I just didn’t want to do disposables anymore. The trash thing was just too much for me. The Hubs was very concerned about the ick factor of doing cloth diapers, and I eventually just said “I’ll do it and you won’t have to,” because I cared that much about making the switch. I started doing my research about how to get started. Around that time, Quiver Tree Photography was just ramping up, and through a series of events on Facebook, I connected with a Mama who’d finished cloth diapering and had a great stash to sell. We hadn’t been back in the States long and our finances were pretty tight, and jumping into cloth diapering can be expensive at the beginning. So when she suggested trading diapers for a photography session that would help her launch her business, I begged the Hubs to do it for me.

And that is how my cloth diapering journey began.

Buttons 028

So, for the past year and some change, I’ve been meaning to mention to you, lovely readers, something about the fact that I’ve been cloth diapering for a while, and that I’m happy with the experience.

There is a heap of information that I could share about the experience, but since a slew of websites and ebooks have already been devoted to that subject and I don’t consider myself an expert, I’ll give you some main points and share about a specific brand that I recently discovered while looking to add a few new diapers to the collection.

Here are answers to some of the main questions I’d imagine you might have about cloth diapering:

How does it work?

Basically, there are a few different types of diapers on the scene, and I’m sort of oversimplifying things here, but the most popular ones these days are probably all-in-ones or all-in-twos. The former are basically just that — all-in-one reusable diapers the baby wears and you wash. The latter usually have a shell and an insert. The shell is the part the baby wears. The insert either snaps to the shell or slides inside the shell, and it’s the part that absorbs the wetness.

After the baby does his or her business, you usually have a pail set aside with a lid, and you separate the shell from the insert and drop both parts into that pail (it does not have water in it like back in the day). If there’s #2 on the scene, you drop that into the loo. You wash cloth diapers separately from your regular laundry — the recommendation is usually warm rinse, hot wash, double rinse. Often the shells should be hung to dry and the inserts can be tumble dried, but each brand has its own preferences.

It is gross?

Well, maybe a little. But another awesome thing happened when I traded the Hubs’ skills for cloth diapers — I learned about infant potty training. So at four months I started sitting the Belle on the potty, and she started pooping there. She has been pooping on the loo about 80-90% of the time since then, and lately she very rarely has an accident. I have not been as consistent in convincing her to peepee on the potty, but when I am, she also does that. I think it just takes a little longer to learn. If you’re interested in more about that, I’ll write more (leave a comment), but this post might get too long if I keep going. I’ll just mention also that there are these very thin disposable liners that come in rolls like toilet paper, (like these at this affiliate link right here) which can be placed between baby and diaper and they can “catch” the poop and be flushed with the poop because they’re biodegradable. That helps. You can also get a Diaper Sprayer, which can help you spray that poopy right off that diaper and into the loo.

Does it save money?

Yes, it does save money over time. And there are a few ways to help you save more if you’re thinking about switching. Look for used cloth diapers to help you get started. I know that might seem gross, but it’s like used clothing. They’ve been washed, and you can wash them again before you use them. Look for diaper packs like the Basics Pack or the Deluxe Pack by Buttons Diapers, which will allow you to save by going ahead and purchasing a number of diapers and inserts at once. Line dry instead of using the tumble dryer. (This will be a big money saver in the long run.) And if you have more than one kid and use the diapers with multiple kids, the savings really skyrocket.

Can I have a quick play-by-play for how it works?

For sure. I’d love to walk you through the process of diapering, and in this example I’ll use a specific type of diapers — Buttons diapers. Perhaps it will give you a good idea of what the process is like and you’ll consider it for yourself!!

Buttons 027

Buttons diapers are in the “all-in-two” category I mentioned earlier. The have a really simple system that I really liked when I decided to try them. They have inserts, the part that is adjacent to baby’s skin, which snap into the shells, which have snaps on the outside to close, and other snaps to make them adjustable for smaller or bigger babies.

There is a fleece lining on one side of their liners, which wicks moisture away from baby’s skin. For nighttime diapering, they have “doublers” which snap to the regular liners and then snap into the shell. I usually go ahead and get the diapers ready for use by stuffing liners into the pocket in the pocket-style all-in-twos, or by snapping them into place with the Buttons diapers. The snapping is faster than the stuffing. And the Hubs cannot do the stuffing (yes, he does help after all!) because his hands are too big to fit inside a pocket diaper to slide a liner in. {So, although I still predominantly handle the diapering around here, I’d vote for snaps over stuffing, both because it’s faster and because it is easier for other people to do. We have babysitters kind of often around here, and I think snapping is a more obvious thing to figure out, too.}

So, to get the Belle ready to “go” in the daytime, I simply snap a liner into a diaper, and then snap the diaper around her waist. When she has worn it for a while and I think it’s time for a new diaper, I unsnap the liner from the diaper and drop them both into a pedal bin trash can and there they stay until washing time. They get washed, (I pretty much use the routine mentioned above, but I often soak first) and I try to line dry them as much as I can, and then they go back in the pile to be used again.

A year and some change into cloth diapering, I am really happy with the decision. Did we switch back to disposables when we were traveling in South Africa for a month? youbettabelieveit. Did the amount of trash we were creating make me uncomfortable all over again? yup. Do I hope cloth diapering continues to become more and more mainstream? Yes. I. Do.

Buttons 029

If you are considering jumping on the diaper bandwagon, I’d make a few recommendations:

First, find a friend in the area who’s already doing it and ask her to walk you through the process. (If you don’t already feel comfortable after I’ve walked you through it! ;-) )

Second, don’t get overwhelmed with the options. Take your time, read some reviews, stalk some good sales on ebay if you feel like it.

Third, a personal preference — stay away from Velcro. The Velcro diapers I have (by Bumgenius) are still in good condition, but the Velcro has worn out. It is easy for the Belle to rip her diaper off and run free, they sometimes come loose at night, and they create trains in the washing machine by getting connected to each other.

The thing for me, really, is a personal conviction about stewardship… and doing what I can not to ruin the planet for my children’s children.

Have you tried cloth diapering? Would you consider it? Got some other parenting-related green movement thoughts to share? Leave a word!

xCC

 

Disclosure! Buttons Diapers gave me a few diapers to try. But would I spend our hard-earned cash on ‘em? Yes, I would! The thoughts and opinions above are my honest response to trying them out! Love ‘em.

 

Our Third First Birthday {& the Goosewaddle Winner}

Our Third First Birthday {& the Goosewaddle Winner}

Not interested in small talk? Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the Goosewaddle Giveaway winner!

Last night, after dinner, I felt like I was coming to the end of a loooong day of mistakes. I’d forgotten to put the stirring wands in the bread maker, and as you can imagine, if the ingredients get baked without being stirred, bread doesn’t happen. While out shopping with the Bear, I’d bought the wrong size belt for the BearNarrow-waisted little fella’s pants are falling down… And, I opted for sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes as a topping for a yummy dinner and that just. did. not. work. {What was I THINKING??}

We’d encouraged the kids to consume the almost-inconsumable meal I’d created, which took forever to make and made us late putting the kids to bed, and I was sitting there for a moment while the Belle was finishing up something other than the dinner, which she was kind enough to completely refuse.

I commented, mostly to myself, but aloud and in earshot of the Bear who was still at the table, “MAN I made a LOT of mistakes today.”

He immediately got down from his chair, walked over to me and gently put a hand on my back and said:

It’s okay if you behaved badly today. Tomorrow is another day and you can try again.

Then, he gave me a big hug and said, “I love you, Mama.”

Even if I made a dozen mistakes throughout the day, his kindness and thoughtfulness in choosing words for me I’d carefully chosen for him before reminded me maybe the Hubs and I are getting more of the big things right than we think.

This morning, the Belle woke up one year old. It is always hard for the moment to sink in — when a year has passed since a little one first graced your family with their presence. And so much has happened since the Belle’s Record-Breaking, Beautiful Arrival, it kind of feels like she’s been with us longer.

TheBelle11 001I am so certain this year would’ve been so different, if her joyful presence wasn’t here. Her fragile, tiny life, just beginning carried a significant message for me:

The days pass quickly, and tomorrow has a face you haven’t seen yet. Breathe deep and live full today.

Our three small people — often viewed by the world as handfuls and liabilities — my word, what an asset they are. Reward.

If I could tell you one thing, my precious children, one thing that would ring through the years — a word that might find you again many years from now when you need it most: Know that you are deeply wanted, fully needed, completely treasured. Your Dad and I consider you our most prized gifts. Your lives matter, always have, always will.

And our precious little long-awaited Belle — thank you for this year. I spent nine months carrying you… but for the past eight, you’ve carried me.

TheBelle11 002

And now that the sap is out of the way… on to the Goosewaddle Giveaway winner!

The magic robot behind the scenes at Rafflecopter randomly selected:

Giveaway Winner Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 7.41.21 PMAmiee, who Liked Goosewaddle on Facebook!  

Congratulations, Amiee! I’ll email you to get the details for getting your Goosewaddle gear to you!

Thank you all so much for entering! I hope you’re glad you were introduced to Goosewaddle — keep them in mind when you’re shopping this holiday season!

Love y’all, back with more love {and maybe a few pics of the one year old} soon!

xCC

 

Swim Your Own Race

Hey friends! I hope you’ve taken a moment to enter this Goosewaddle Giveaway! You can earn up to three entries but it ends at midnight tonight!

The Hubs and I were both competitive swimmers a wee while ago. I swam on my high school swim team, and really enjoyed it, but swimming was never more than something I did for one season out of the year. (Winter, funny enough.)

The Hubs, on the other hand was a dedicated and focused year-round-swimmer, training and competing throughout the year in South Africa from the time he was about ten all the way through the majority of his time at university.

We were very different types of swimmers, and we sometimes laugh at how that mirrors our personalities. I was a sprinter, concentrating on the 50 and 100 Free, occasionally being forced into an individual medley here or there, but absolutely loving relays. (Always a social creature…)

The Hubs, on the other hand, was a middle distance swimmer for the most part. He focused on lengthier races that required careful attention to setting one’s pace, and one careful stroke after the other, pushing the length of the pool time and time again before the race was done.

mcolliebfly_1 {The Hubs, rocking some serious butterfly at an outdoor race.}

My competitive nature often meant that rather than focusing on my own pace (even for a 100 Free) I tended to keep an eye on the swimmers in the lanes around me to decide how I was doing. Depending on what teams we were racing, I might make it a goal to keep up or stay just ahead of the swimmers around me.

HH swam in a completely different way. He knew in his mind how many strokes it should take him at a particular pace to get from one end of the pool to the other. He knew the pace he needed to keep — down to the milliseconds per lap — in order to reach the goal time he was aiming at. Because he was competitive on a national level, to him getting the time he was aiming at was more important than making sure he was staying on par or ahead of the swimmers around him.

Unlike my utterly-social self, keeping an eye on the lanes around me, the Hubs knew exactly how to swim his own race.

I was reading in Ezekiel the other day, about the time that God instructed Ezekiel to lay on his side for 390 days, symbolically demonstrating God’s disapproval of the wayward ways of the people of Israel. {Read the whole story in Ezekiel 4.}

The symbolic acts Ezekiel demonstrated were supposed to convict the people of Israel of something very specific: Their need to repent and turn back to God.

I wondered, as I read, what people in Ezekiel’s day thought when they saw him laying on his side, day after day. I wondered if any of them thought his actions were an indication that they should lay down on the ground on their side, too.

Do you ever see the convictions another person is living with and wonder if you should live with the same convictions? I’m not speaking about things clearly laid out in the Bible that we should all determine to do — I’m speaking about the instances where a person is personally convicted by God that they should take a particular course of action with their lives.

Homeschooling is a great example. You might observe some of your friends making the decision to homeschool their kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s what the Lord is calling you to do. Conversely, there might be absolutely no one in your friendship circle that feels called to homeschool their kids — but in your heart you just know, you’re being called to do it.

This is where a living and active relationship with God, through His Holy Spirit, is a vitally important part of the life of a believer.

This is well explained in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians:

For the Lord is Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. {2 Cor. 3: 17-18}

If the Hubs had made it his only goal to keep pace or beat the swimmers around him, he might never have accomplished the times he needed to qualify him for National Champs each year. As he would word it, he knew how to “keep his head down and swim his own race.”

I, on the other hand, did not have the bright and shining swimming career the Hubs could boast of. (Don’t worry — he doesn’t.) I never really learned to keep focused on the race that I was swimming. This might’ve meant I won a few races by keeping pace with the lanes around me — but not many.

It also, at other times, meant I tried to keep a pace that was too quick for me. I tired myself out long before the race was over, and on the last lap I was barely able to bring my arms up and over to stroke through the water and it took ridiculous effort to kick my legs — I’d so completely “run out of gas.” I would have faired far better had I swam my race and kept my pace.

In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young says of the Holy Spirit, “He will not force you to do His bidding, but He will guide you as you give Him space in your life.”

It is so good for the people of God to walk in right relationship with God. To pause throughout our day to consult with the Spirit, to find our sense of direction from a better source than what’s happening in the next lane.

We cannot afford to parent our children by looking to the next lane.

We cannot afford to spend our efforts at work just doing whatever we see being done in the next lane.

We cannot afford to only live out the convictions we see being lived by the people in the next lane.

Basing your decision processes firmly on the backs of what people are doing around you is a recipe for making complacent efforts toward complacent goals. “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.”

Instead of watching the world around you — close your eyes and give an ear throughout your day to the incredible Spirit of God, who can live in your heart and guide your steps because of Jesus.

If you swim your race, you are much less likely to give out of gas, and much more likely to stand, medal-around-your-neck-victorious, on the podium.

xCC