Jovie…

Four years ago my sister had her first baby, Tayden.

Long story short, all 9 pounds of him made it out after 36+ hours of labor, 2.5 hours of pushing, and a dozen other complications that basically left my sister a wreck both physically and mentally.

I got to the hospital just after her early Tuesday where she was already 90% and a 5. (For those of you who don’t speak birth, her body had already done half the work of getting the baby out before she even changed into her gown.) Her epidural was set within a half hour and before an hour had even passed she mentioned to the nurse she was feeling a lot of pressure.

The nurse checked her and said “Oh. Well. That’s because there’s a baby down there trying to throw herself a birthday party.”

On came the lights, in came two nurses, a doctor and our mom and my sister was pushing within minutes.

Only this time instead of 150 minutes of pushing, she pushed for around 17.

And instead of her baby being rushed off with nurses to be attended to by a doctor, she was placed skin to skin and able to remain there for over an hour.

It was amazing.

It was everything she deserved.

I’m fairly certain she couldn’t believe that was all it took.

That’s really all there was to it.

Just like that I had a perfect little niece to call mine.

Her name is Jovie, her middle name is Kay after her grandpa that passed in December, and she shares a birthday with the best aunt that ever existed.

She also managed to come 21 hours before my flight departed SLC, so she’s already proven herself to be a punctual people pleaser.

Jovie? I love you. I love your mama, your poppa and that crazy brother of yours. My heart swallowed you whole this week and I can’t wait to see who you become.
Miss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss Jovie
Miss Jovie

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random ankles

Last week Cody took Vivi into the restroom at a restaurant so she could do her business. When she was done, he asked her to stand with her nose in the corner so he could do his as well.

Afterwards she burst out of the restroom and shouted “DAD DIDN’T SIT DOWN AND HE PEED OUT OF HIS BELLYBUTTON!” as soon as she saw me.

Threenager.

Last night on FaceTime she asked my dad if he was pregnant.

She also currently hates trees. (She has for awhile, one evening she simply got out of the car, looked around and said “I hate trees.” Her position has yet to change.)

She blames all of her farts on the cat, even at two a.m.

She is terrified of spiders and believes that any injury or illness is called an ‘ankle’.

We’re all headed out on a cruise next week in order to answer the question that has been plaguing Cody and me since our first cruise, can you actually leave a cruise relaxed if you have a toddler in tow? (Specifically a toddler like Vivi?)

She woke me up by throwing (her clean) underwear at my head and screaming “MOM I’M HUNGRY.” this morning.

I WISH I WAS THIS EXCITED ABOUT SWIMSUIT SEASON! (suit from H&M)

I took both girls to the library this afternoon, and without getting too specific — Vivi has had some trouble when it comes to potty training. Today I was the mom who had to pull her toddler out of the children’s section of the library, as she screamed and sobbed “I don’t want to go!” I knew she had had an accident, and in an effort to keep drama to a minimum I didn’t fully survey the damage before heading straight for the restrooms at the front of the building. It wasn’t until we made it to the front (after walking by dozens of people) that I realized her accident had made a much bigger mess than I had ever anticipated. Add in the fact that she insisted on keeping her skirt above her head as we walked out…and I’m really sorry to anyone who was at the library today.

*insert defeated sigh*

It was one of those moments when I want to tell those who choose to be child-free, “YOU MADE A FINE CHOICE FOR YOURSELF. I ENVY THAT YOU WILL NEVER BE COVERED IN POO AT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.”

Tonight that little toad crawled into my lap smelling of soap and cookies and said “You’re the best, mom.” and I thought “You know what? I kind of am.” and I realized that even though I don’t love this job all the time, it at least has enough perks to keep me around.

Her eyebrows more accurately represent what's lurking inside her, not that impish grin and button nose. #WolfInToddlerClothing #WatchOutBoyShellChewYouUp

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the last 72 (in photos)

a bunny and a glove.

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

Addie at 8

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

a bunny and a glove.

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

try some snow!

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

Addie at 8

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

a bunny, a fox, a kitty, a bike and some snow.

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simplicity and our home at the end of the street.

The weather has been positively perfect around these parts lately.

One of the reasons I love the Midwest, endless clouds to the horizon.

At this moment our windows are wide open, a slight breeze is blowing through, the crickets are doing their cricket thing and Cody and I are both tapping out our tales by the glow of an old lamp, three feet apart from each other.

I love being here. I love having a house that is actually a home. Walls that have captured and absorbed so much laughter that you could probably hear it if you pressed your ear against them. Quiet little moments when you realize you have everything you’ve ever wanted or needed and all you had to do was fall in love and learn how to love yourself.

a lovely sunday evening

In my home my arms are never empty, there is always a warm body to hold, some of them bigger than others, a couple of them way more furry than the rest. I am never truly alone here.

I spent so much of my life lonely, even when I was surrounded by people. Now I’m whatever the opposite of lonely is.

Vivi and I take a walk everyday around our circle, we could not be more fortunate to have such a lovely house at the end of a lovely cul-de-sac. I wish every kid could spend part of their lives playing in a cul-de-sac. While the baby phase never lasts long enough, I’m relishing the chubby single finger hand hold phase. Vivi chokes bunny in one arm and holds my index finger with her other hand. We walk, she barks at all the dogs, tweets at all the birds and squats to pick every last dandelion she sees.

Sometimes she’s even wearing pants.

Shadow of a very loved bunny.

Safety first,  pants optional.

Vivi's dandelion picking service: A penny a pop!

Things have been pretty quiet around here, and yet they couldn’t be more marvelous.

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peanut addie-butter and choco-vivi-late

These two.

With this single photo I killed instagram dead with the sweetness.

Go ahead, just stare at it, I’ll give you a minute.

This is my everyday, this is what I get to be surrounded by in my home. Even better? This is what my girls are growing up with.

Vivi has all the confidence in the world, she walks into rooms as though she owns them and I can only imagine it’s because Addie’s been doing the exact same thing for the last seven years.

They roll around on the carpet and hug wrestle. Vivi sneak attacks Addie from behind to kiss her (or pull her hair, depends on the day) and she runs through the house every morning shouting “ADDIE! ADDIE!”

The only person Addie will (voluntarily) share ice cream with.

She takes such good care of her.

I love them both so much individually, but together? They are a whole other force to be reckoned with.

boots, bellybutton and balls

Lately I’m convinced that people don’t keep having babies for babies, they keep having babies for siblings. To be able to witness the most spectacular, natural and wonderful friendships in existence.

boots, bellybutton and balls

Perhaps not everyone gets along with their siblings the way these two do, and perhaps they won’t always be this close. But when the two of them are together it is obvious that their hearts are knit together in a completely different and unbreakable way. They go together like salt and pepper, Calvin and Hobbes, peanut butter and chocolate; each one works well on its own, but it’s when they’re together that they are truly at their best. If I can give them nothing else in life, I gave them each other. If God never gives me another baby? He gave me sisters, which is quite possibly better than all the babies in the world.

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I’m so grateful to partner with Hallmark in 2012 on their “Life is a Special Occasion” campaign again and I thank them tremendously for their patience with me, supporting me in all that I do and for sponsoring this post. The love between my girls is what Hallmark cards are made from.

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toddle-shopping

Dear World,

You’re going to have to be patient and bear with me for the next several months. You see, I have what could pretty much be considered a toddler. Not only does she toddle like it’s her job, she has the will of a thousand stubborn oxen. I’m going to have to take this toddler out in public with me, and spoiler alert: she doesn’t like being contained. I do my best to get in, get what I need and get out, but sometimes that just isn’t possible.

Today I had to wait at the pharmacy for a good 40 minutes. I let Vivi wander. She brought me bottles of cold medicine, boxes of colon cleanse powder and few random containers of vitamins. For the most part she put them all back. As we walked down the aisles I noticed she left random products in her wake and at one point she had a can of deodorant spray that I left in the display for Band-Aids. I’m sorry, I don’t know where she got it from and who knows what she would have picked up while I was looking for the deodorant’s proper place. When I unloaded my cart before leaving I found a rogue Beanie Baby, a can of soup and box of sugar free mints.

I’m really sorry I left them with the school supplies at the front of the store.

I tell myself leaving them there was better than shoplifting (albeit accidentally.)

I promise I do my best not to mess up store displays, I always pick up clothes that have fallen off their hangers, and I even put stuff back if I know where it goes. Chances are it was put there by a mom with a toddler who was just trying to make it out of the store without any contraband or fits.

I’m a really good customer, I just need you to be patient with me over the next few months as we figure this “taking the toddler out in public with me” thing.

We had to wait for grandma at the minute clinic. We did a little shopping.

xo- Casey

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oh my vivi.

Today has been the first day I’ve really had Vivi all to myself.

Addie started school the day I left for New York, between New York and our cruise I was dodging suitcases and swimming in laundry.

Cody’s mom stuck around two extra days after grandbabysitting duties last week so today was the first day of just toddlerbaby Vivi and me.

We just got back from a walk, whenever the breeze blew in her face she fell to the ground giggling.

She said hi back to every noise in our neighborhood and barked back at the neighbor’s dog. *door closing* “HI!” *UPS truck* “HI!” *bird singing* “HI!”

She wrapped her entire chubby hand around my finger and only let go when she wanted to poke a rock on the ground with the stick she held tightly in the other hand.

When a car stopped and a little girl got out Vivi began chanting “ADDIE ADDIE ADDIE,” it’s really the only word she can say perfectly and she says it all the time.

Tracy Aviary with Grandma Flower

She laughs with her whole body and smiles with her entire face.

She tries to pick up the cats, when she can’t pick them up she lays on them.

She threw and chased a bouncy ball for an hour while I prepared lunch and part of dinner, one time she even chased it through my legs. It was at that point walking between my legs became her new game. I got a lot of baby head knocked into my front and rear ends today.

She’s spent so much time in the sunshine lately that her legs look dirty and both her chubby knees have scabby scrapes on them.

She’s thinning out, in fact she’s lost close to 4 pounds since becoming mobile, but she’s still plump and soft where it matters.

When she gives kisses, she purses her lips, smooshes them against your face and hums “MMMMM.”

If Addie sits on the floor and holds her arms out, Vivi runs into them and hugs her so hard they both fall over.

I can’t believe there was ever a time without the slaps of her bare blocky feet on my wood floor.

vivi's shadow

I know exactly what she smells like and exactly what she feels like in my arms.

There has always been a place for her with us, I’m so happy she finally made it here.

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everything I know about cloth diapering I learned from the internet (or by messy accident.)

Most days I love cloth diapers, other days I’m okay with them, and some days I just don’t want to deal with them.

We still have and use disposable on occasion, mainly for overnight, super nasty and constant poop issues (teething) or when Vivi has an enormous gnarly rash that requires crazy amounts of various oils, potions and creams. Cloth diapers can be finicky and finding what works can sometimes be infuriating. After the recent yeasty beasty rash of 2012 I had all but given up ever using cloth again. However, going to the store to actually buy diapers for $20 a box physically hurt, and having to clean out the diaper pail? Whew. With cloth you have a never ending diaper supply, it’s a very comforting feeling. (The feeling is probably similar to breastfeeding, baby food! On demand! For free!)

Besides, they’re super cute.

a rainbow of cloth diapers.

It bums me out when someone turns their nose up and proclaims how gross and disgusting cloth diapers are when they’ve never used them. I am not loading my washing machine full of poo twice a week, in fact there isn’t even any poop in my house because it all gets flushed down the toilet where it belongs. (Technically you’re supposed to flush poop from disposables down the toilet too, but how many people actually do that?) Some people make their own diapers, some people buy the most expensive and convenient ones possible, some people find the cheapest option and make it work, while other people, like me, find a balance in all of the above.

What makes me qualified to talk about cloth diapers? Eh, not much. Aside from the fact that I’ve used them for a year now, I have traveled with them twice, I have a very difficult baby to fit (with all that chubby going on) and I did an extensive review for Babble wherein I tested over 20 different brands and styles of diapers, which is not something many people have the opportunity to do.

I finally feel like I’m at a place where I have found a groove, I’m no longer out there looking for the next best thing or something that works better than what I have. I have tried a lot, and I have my established favorites (as well as my well established not so favorites.) In list form, here’s the world of cloth diapering according to Casey.

  • I have four favorite brands (in no particular order.) BumGenius 4.0 are easy to stuff, hold up well, fit well and keep messes in, perhaps the easiest to use and most straight forward. Apple Cheeks with the bamboo insert (not the microfiber.) These ones fit *really* well, the insert actually shakes out in the wash on its own, and the bamboo insert is super soft and absorbent without too much bulk. Rumparooz are really well made, really absorbent (the two microfiber inserts snap to each other so there’s less sliding around) and they have inner gussets that keep the super leaky poop (and poop in general) under control and away from the edges.  OhKaty are my fourth favorite, they also fit really well, are crazy absorbent and come in the MOST delicious colors of any of the diapers I own.

thighs of POWER

  • Storing them. I have a three layer basket from The Container Store that holds all my clean diapers and accessories (wet bags, liners, wipes, sprays, and lotions.) I keep the dirty diapers in a big flip top garbage can with an elastic topped pail liner in it. Two pail liners is kind of a must, that way when you wash one you can just throw the other one in and continue to use your pail. Stink hasn’t ever been an issue, I have one pail liner from Planet Wise (fun colors) and one from Kissaluvs (boring white but supposedly antibacterial.) I could easily suggest either brand.

chubby cloth baby

  • Wet Bags. You use wet bags when you’re out and about to keep your clean and dirty diapers in. I have a Wet n’ Dry tote from Smitten Baby that I really like. The strap is starting to wear out but I use the crap out of it so I’m not all that surprised. I don’t like their customer service at all, which makes me sad, but they do make a really good product. Downfall? You have to hunt the Smitten Baby brand down, you can’t just buy one. I’ve bought one from Baby Steals and one from Zulily. Etsy also has a marvelous selection of wet bags.

cloth diaper butt flap.

  • Soap. Oh man. I swear to you I have used every soap ever suggested by anyone ever. We have a top loading HE machine and water so hard it actually hurts coming out of the faucet. I’ve settled on bumGenius diaper detergent and Rockin’ Green Hard Rock as my two favorites.  BioKleen Bac-Out is my most favorite way to strip and de-stink them. (I also use Borax as a water softener when I strip them.)

diapers in the sun

  • Dryer Balls. I hang dry my covers and put my liners in the dryer. I have four anti static dryer balls that keep the inserts (especially the microfiber) as fluffy as possible and cut down on the amount of static dramatically. The inserts also dry faster and more evenly with the balls. Vivi likes to run off with them when I’m folding laundry which leaves me storming through the house asking if anyone has seen my pink balls, that alone is kind of worth having some.
  • Poop. Some people dunk their poopy diapers in the toilet, others use a spatula, and some have a sprayer attached to their toilet. I use flushable liners because I want as little contact with poop as possible. Diaper liners are basically like thin biodegradable dryer sheets that you lay inside each diaper, they catch the solid stuff allowing you to simply dump it in the toilet without ever having to spray, rinse, dunk or touch. gDiapers has a diaper liner that is crap. Complete and utter crap, it dissolves when Vivi pees on it and turns into pulpy junk that ends up all over my inserts in the dryer. GroVia makes the best diaper liners out there. Don’t experiment with them, just buy the GroVia ones. Trust me on this one.

eight months-9929

  • Laundry Schedule. Diapers require a cold rinse to get rid of the nasties and remove proteins, then they require a hot wash with an extra rinse. I’ve found that if I start the cold rinse once Vivi’s in bed and then run a good hot wash cycle on them as I head to bed they’re ready to be hung out to dry the next morning. That way they’re not tying up the washer and I don’t have to wait for them to be done. I could kiss my washer and dryer on the face if they had one. I wash them every three days. I wish I had an outdoor line to dry them on but my HOA won’t allow such a thing.
  • Changing them. When Vivi was on the bottle her diaper had to be changed every two hours or less. Baby peed like it was her job. Now that she’s off the bottle and onto the sippy she can go three to four hours between changes assuming no poop is involved. Disposables have a chemical in them that turns pee to gel so it can’t leak out as easily, cloth diapers don’t have that feature so they can only hold so much before reaching capacity.

a rainbow of cloth diapers.

  • How many? When I first started I had 12, then I bought 6 more, more than enough for when I started at 4 months. (I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to cloth diaper a newborn, we’ll see.) At one time I had over 60 diapers because of the Babble review, I have whittled them down by passing many of them on to  friends and currently have around 30, which is a lot. The darn things are addictive with all the colors, patterns and styles available. You’ve been warned.

cloth diaper bum

  • Which ones are the cutest? Oy, there’s so many cute ones out there it’s stupid. OhKaty has the best solid colors with BumGenius in a close second. Bummis TotsBots fairy tale prints and GroVia have some of the cutest patterns. Emily loves the Bummis for Paul, I like them okay. I like the GroVia hybrids more than their AIO (all in ones) but both are good diapers.  Cloth diapers in general are cute, but some are certainly way more appealing than others.

vivi's cloth bum

  • Hybrids. Hybrid diapers are ones that can use a biodegradable liner or a reusable liner. The biodegradable liners are basically like giant maxi pads made from wood pulp while the reusable liners can vary from prefolds in a variety of different fabrics to a kitchen towel in an emergency. Bummis and GroVia make my favorite hybrid diaper shells while GroVia makes my favorite biodegradable liners. My favorite prefold is most anything made from bamboo or hemp (I really do like the Apple Cheeks bamboo inserts.) Natural fibers stain easier than synthetics, but synthetics can get smellier than natural fibers (think barnyard smell, if you smell a barnyard? It’s time to strip them.) Hybrids are also nice to have around if you have a gnarly rash that requires a cream you can’t use on your regular cloth diapers.

that ceiling fan is amazing.

vivi at the window

Is that it? I know there’s stuff I’m missing. Like stripping, oy. Stripping cloth diapers can be a CHORE. Keep up with it regularly and it won’t be such a hassle (or cause any untimely leaks or rashes.) Questions? Comments? Concerns? Let me have ‘em.

I really do love cloth diapers, and if I can do it? You can do it. (More specifically, if Cody can do it? You can do it.)

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This is my last time posting here on behalf of Disney Baby. Soon the site will launch and I’ll be sharing tips like this over there regularly! SO MUCH WISDOM! Thanks to Disney Baby for sponsoring this post.

Diapers by photo:  1) everything I own. 2) (black) OhKaty. 3) (white floral) Bummis Super Whisper Wrap over a Tots Bots Bamboozle. 4) (Blue Pattern) BumGenius 4.0. 5) Mixed, the green/purple/white/black one is a Bitti Tutto. 6) (Blue Pattern) BumGenius 4.0 7) More of what I own. 8 ) (pink hearts) Charlie Banana Designer Series. 9) (pink peacocks) GroVia Hybrid Shell. 10) (pink plain) Ones & Twos. 11) (green) GroVia AIO

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