Thursday, January 22, 2015

Drying Your Cloth Diapers (WAHM Review + Giveaway)

If you have been a part of any of the cloth diapering groups on Facebook (or elsewhere), I'm betting the subject of laundry has come up.  To be honest, those "discussions" almost scared me away from using cloth.  Soak, rinse, wash, rinse, rinse again, wash again, double rinse.  No it's rinse, soak, rinse, wash, rinse, soak, wash, rinse again.  (Rinse is a weird word isn't it?).  Dry on low.  No, hang dry only.  No, drying on high is necessary sometimes.

Oh.  My.  Word.  

It's craziness.  To clarify, my wash cycle is no where near that complicated and I truly hope no one's is that extreme...but that's  for another post.  One thing is pretty much agreed upon though - you cannot use dryer sheets when drying cloth diapers.  Why?  They create build up!  If you've ever noticed that your towels have become less absorbent, this might be the cause.  Seriously, go Google it.  ;)

There is an awesome alternative though!  Wool Dryer Balls!  Read on to hear why they are so amazing.  But first, let me introduce you to the most unique dryer balls I have ever seen as well as the shop that makes them.

I was provided free product in exchange for an open and honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Rebecca, or Beck, has an adorable little Etsy shop.  She is a work-at-home-momma of three adorable kiddos!  One thing I really love about her shop is that she gives a portion of her proceeds to a different charity each month!  One of her favorite causes was when she helped a sweet little dog, Cricket, get a wheel chair!  You can read that story here.  As she states, "My business is not just mine, it's my customers."

So what exactly does Beck make?  She creates custom wool dryer balls!  And they are absolutely to die for!  

Here is what I received:


Cute little bag, right?

Curious yet?

....

......

Wait for it......

.........

...............

Owls!!  They are owls!!

Are they not the cutest dryer balls you have ever seen??

I mean...


Hahaha.  Did you see what I did there???

So what makes dryer balls so great?

1. They cut down on drying time!  I am still amazed at how much less time it takes my clothes (and cloth diapers) to dry.  In fact, after using these owls on their own for a week, I threw my original set of dryer balls back in and now have twice the power!  ;)  

Here they are waiting to take on the toughest jobs:


Adorable!

2.  They are chemical free!  Which is why they don't leave build up.  But we love all things chemical free around here, so that's a huge bonus.

3. You don't have to remember to put one of these in the dryer.  They just stay there.  And they last a looooooooooooong time.  Potentially, a lifetime.  You just have to replace them when they start falling apart.  And from what I'm hearing in the cloth diapering community - it doesn't happen very often.  Bonus: The dryer balls from Beck's Wares are guaranteed for one year!

4. You can still make your clothes smell wonderful....but without chemicals!  All you have to do is add a drop or two of essential oils to a couple of the dryer balls after your clothes are dry.  Toss the balls back in and run your clothes on a fluff cycle (no heat) for about 10 minutes.   Honestly, I don't do this often with my clothes.  I generally only do it with my towels, because I love that fresh smell!


How do the dryer balls from Beck's Wares compare to leading brands?

They work just as well!!  Beck sent me a set of 6: 2 Large, 2 Medium, and 2 Small.  Her different sizes are definitely a unique factor.  Here they are compared to the size of a Woolzie dryer ball:
  
Flower Power??  Okay, okay....I'll stop being cheesy....  or not....

I was surprised that the large size is actually bigger than the Woolzies since they are considered "XL"
And one thing is for sure - Woolzies don't stand a chance when it comes to cuteness!  Which is why these would make an excellent Mom Gift!

Here are some of the other dryer ball's Beck makes:
Colors!!  (Photo courtesy of Beck's Wares)

She will turn your child's drawing into a dryer ball!!  Such an adorable idea.  (Photo courtesy of Beck's Wares)
Dryer balls go through a process of felting that you can read more about on the Beck's Wares Etsy Shop.  But take a look at those owls before the felting process:
So cute I can't stand it!!! (Photo courtesy of Beck's Wares)

Beck also had another unique idea - "Do you want to throw a snowman?"  Kids love snowball fights.  So why not make it possible to have them inside?  
Your child draws a snowman and then it becomes a soft dryer ball (pre-felted) that they can throw indoors!  A great Gift for Children, yes? (Photo courtesy of Beck's Wares)  

I highly recommend Beck's Wares.  Working with her has been phenomenal.  I have no doubt that her customer service is top of the line!

As a thank you and to show her a little appreciation for participating in the WAHM Review Series, be sure to follow Beck's Wares on your favorite social media platform:

If you would like to purchase a set of dryer balls (and there are tons to choose from), Beck is offering my readers an exclusive code for 15% off!!
Thanks Beck!

But that's not all!  Beck has also offered to give one of YOU a set of your choice!  To win, enter the Giveaway Tool Below:


Monday, January 19, 2015

Aelah Grace: 3 Months

No way is this possible.  We have a 3 month old!!  Not cool.  It seriously flies by so fast.  Everyone tells you.  And I believed them.  I just didn't realize how fast it would fly.  haha.  She is the best thing.

SO much has changed since her 1 Month post.  Especially since I didn't really do much of anything at 2 Months.  Lame I know.  

Lots of new & exciting things!

Whoa baby......

I didn't even want to put her in that basket.  I didn't want to know how much she has grown.  It kills me.

How am I growing?

Well, at her 2 month appointment shew as 11 lbs, 13 oz and 24 and a half inches long.  Still very average for weight but literally off the chart for her length!  As the doctor phrased it, "she is above the 98th percentile."  We weighed her at a friends house last week and she is 13.6 lbs.  I'm sure she is longer too but we haven't measured her.  She is just about to grow out of her 3-6 month clothing....crazy child!  ;)

What's new?

What isn't new might be the better question.  In the past week and a half she has become an entirely different baby.  Again....killing me....

She went from the occasional coo here and there to "talking."  Her favorite person to talk to is her daddy and the bees on her swing.  hehe. 

video

She rolled over for the first time!!  But she hasn't been super proactive about it since.  Just a couple of times...

Keep on rollin'

She has laughed out loud...well, giggled..., while she was awake, a few times now!  They are few and far between and pretty random but they are the sweetest little giggles.  And they make us laugh pretty hard.

We also had her dedicated yesterday.  And it was such a special day.  We have an amazing church family and I am beyond grateful that they will be a part of her life.  I pray that God has big plans for our little lady and that we are able to raise her to walk in His path.

Beautiful Moment

Beautiful Baby


How are we sleeping?

Another big step about a week and a half ago was moving her into her crib!  I am 100% sure that this was harder on me than it was for her.  I liked having her in the bassinet next to the bed so I could see her and hear her breathing.  But it has gone wonderfully having her in her own room.  I sleep much better.  And she has done awesome!

She sleeps about 10-11 hours a night and I usually only have to wake up once to feed her.  Sometimes she will wake to eat before we go to bed or after I wake up (and occasionally I use her as an alarm clock.  haha) but, I don't mind that as much.  ;)

We have been letting her "cry it out" a little bit.  We discovered she fusses just as much if we are bouncing, rocking, patting, etc. as she does when she is laying in her bed.  I combined a couple of different methods I have done with children I worked with as well as some I've read and it is really working for us.

Sometime between 8 and 8:30 we change her into her PJ's.  Then once she seems sleepy we lay her down in the crib (usually by 8:45 at the latest).  Sometimes she talks and falls asleep on her own.  Other times she fusses or cries.  If she does fuss, we set a timer for 3 minutes.  Then one of us, usually Daddy, goes in to pat her and soothe her.  But we never pick her up.  If she keeps fussing we set the timer again, but for 5 minutes.  I go in at 5 minutes.  If I can get her to calm down, I leave the room.  If she doesn't calm down, I try to nurse her.  Usually she eats because she "tanks up" as I refer to it before falling asleep.  And then we start the process over if needed.  Now that she is 3 months, I may add a 10 minute increment in there.  But I'm not sure she will need it...   

What do you do for a sleep routine??

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cloth is Cool Giveaway Hop! WIN a Pail Liner!

Hey all!  I am SO excited to be bringing you a giveaway hop!  This is my first time participating in one so it is a big deal for me!  ;)  What is a giveaway hop??  Basically a list of similar giveaways that you can enter.  So if your starting here - make sure to "hop" to the other blogs on the list for a chance to win something else cloth diaper related!!  

If you are here because of the hop - WELCOME!!  I hope you will stick around and check out some of the other things happening here at Learning to Be 31 (giveaways, reviews, and SO much more). Have fun!


clothiscool2
Welcome to the first annual Cloth is Cool giveaway hop! Cloth is growing in popularity because of money savings, environmental benefits and just plain enjoyment (it's fun to pick from all the styles, prints and colors).
Check out the list below for all the cloth diaper giveaways you can enter during this hop. Your hosts, the Zephyr Hill Blog and Cloth Diaper Addicts, and all the participating bloggers and retailers, wish you a successful and enjoyable year of cloth diapering in 2015!
The grand prize giveaway, open to both US and Canadian residents, features a package containing several different styles to try out: One lucky winner will receive:
  • Best Bottoms "Flurry" Cover and 3 Inserts (choose your size)
  • bumGenius Limited Edition Elemental AIO Diaper
  • Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag
  • Imagine One-Size Diaper Cover
  • Imagine SmartFit Prefolds, 6-Pack (choose your size)
  • Imagine Indigo Pocket Diaper
The Cloth is Cool giveaway hop runs from January 16th to January 26th. Good luck!

Learning to Be 31 is giving away a Buttons Diapers Pail Liner!  




While you could get away with just one pail liner, it is always nice to have an extra.  That way if you are washing/drying one...the other one is already in your diaper pail waiting for the next dirty diaper.

And of course, you could use this liner for something other than cloth diapers - like family cloth or unpaper towels!  ;)

Since this is self-sponsored, I tried to limit the entry types so you all could breeze right on through this giveaway and enter some others on the hop!  Have fun!


Monday, January 12, 2015

WAHM Review: Cute & Funky

I remember learning the 3 R's in grade school: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!  And it didn't mean much to me then.  But things are different now.  I'm married.  I own my own home.  And I have a beautiful baby girl.

All of those things have made me reevaluate our spending, what goes in/on our bodies, and our impact on the environment.  Because of that, we have slowly started replacing some of our disposable items in an effort to save money, take control of our health, and keep a little less trash out of the landfills.

When I was looking for cloth wipes on Etsy, I stumbled across Cute & Funky.

Free products were exchanged for an open & honest review.  All opinions are my own.
And it was at this super cute little store that I discovered reusable facial rounds - an idea so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself!  ;)  But I'm glad that someone did!  

Brandie is a wonderful mommy who works from home so that she can be with her "little diva."  She has been in business since 2012 and has over 1,100 sales!!  From what I can tell she has a pretty positive reputation and my dealings with her have been wonderfully pleasant.  

Her shop includes lots of great reusable items!  

Fleece Stay-Dry Liners (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)
Cloth Wipes (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)

Lovey/Blanket (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)

Wet Bags (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)

Nursing Pads (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)

And the item of the hour:


I use cotton rounds every day to take off make-up and apply toner.  I love that there is a reusable option!  Cute & Funky carries quite a few different options and Brandie sent me some of each to review.

Simple and practical.
I suppose if I was building my ideal stash - these would be it.  They do the job and they are simply white.  That means if they are out on the counter, like mine are, they still have an "adult" feel.  I did notice that my toner stained them just a teensy bit.  

You know how much I love organic!
Because bamboo is so absorbent, I wasn't a huge fan of these for removing make-up or applying toner.  The dampness didn't seem to last as long as I needed it to.  But I have a feeling these would be fantastic for applying cleanser and I plan to give that a try soon!  These also have that "adult" feel while being wonderfully organic!  They also seem sturdier than the cotton flannel.

Here is a comparison of the two...
A fun alternative!
These work just as nicely as the plain white ones!  But they are much more fun!  ;)  As nice as having an "adult" feel might be.  I like to jazz things up now and then.  This will be a pleasant little surprise on the bathroom counter.

My very favorite!
The minky rounds are especially nice for delicate and sensitive skin since the minky is extra soft!  Plus, they are just so "cute & funky."  ;)  I absolutely loved the feel of the minky against my skin and giggled a bit when I saw the stars in the mirror.  

Overall, Cute & Funky is an adorable store.  Her prices aren't horrible, her products are high-quality, and Brandi is a pleasure to work with!

She has even decided to offer you all an exclusive discount code!  Use bloglove10 at checkout for 10% off.

As a thank you be sure to like, favorite, or follow Cute & Funky on your favorite social network:


What other reusable products would you like to see at Cute & Funky?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Funny Convo (Aelah is 2 Months)

Pregnancy brain was a real thing.  And so is mom brain.  My beautiful little lady definitely stole some brain cells from her momma!  ;)  Because of that...and because of the craziness of the Holidays and a last minute trip to visit family 7 hours away, I completely spaced on Aelah's 2 month update!  I was a little heartbroken.  Since her 3 month update is just around the corner....I thought I would just share a cute little story instead.

But first....here is her 2 month picture:



I couldn't believe the difference between her 1st month and her 2nd!!  Just unreal!!  

So...anyways....back to our funny little story....

We did make a last minute trip to go see my husband's family in Michigan this past week.  We have 7 nieces and nephews and it is always a ton of fun to see them!  All of the girls were, of course, extremely excited to see their new baby cousin.  And it was so fun to watch each of them hold her and be motherly in their own little way.  I especially loved the moments when they would think no one was watching and I could just soak up how sweet they were being with little miss Aelah.  Like this pic:



The boys, for the most part, were rather unimpressed.  hehe.  But that's to be expected.  However, at one point, Kyan, famous for his one-liners decided that he was going to come talk to Aelah.  She was laying on the couch next to me, he walks over to her and puts his hand up, "High Five."  I kind of chuckled and told him he might be waiting awhile for that high five.  Then he looks at me, "Well, can I give her an M&M?"

Haha.  It's funny how different boys & girls are isn't it?  I enjoyed the little giggle and someday he will get that high five!  ;)

Share some of your kiddos awesome one-liners in the comments below.  I'd love another giggle!  :)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

5 Most Popular Posts from 2014

This past year was a fantastic year for my blog.  It has grown so much and I actually have readers that I don't know in "real life."  And that truly makes my heart happy.  So thank you to everyone who has become a regular here at Learning to Be 31!  

I saw a similar post from another blogger and loved this idea!  So I'm here to share with you the top 5 posts from 2014.



5. WAHM Review: Wink Diapers
To be fair, 4 of the top 5 posts this past year were giveaways.  I didn't want to count those...but I threw the most popular giveaway post in as number 5 in the countdown just to be fair.  ;)  But I love that this is the most popular giveaway because they are my favorite diapers!!  I ended up buying a 6 pack after Baby Girl had arrived and we had used a variety.  They are easy to use and super cute.  They are even Hubby's favorite! 

4. Bump Update: 40 Weeks
Our very last bump update.  Everyone must have been anxious to see when that baby was going to arrive!  ;)  And whoa!  Cannot believe I was that huge!!

3. Bump Update: Week 15
Not sure why this bump update out of all of them was in the top 5.  Maybe because it included my first comparison picture??  I'm not sure.  You all can tell me.  ;)

2. Bump Update: Week 12
Outside of my pregnancy announcement, this was my first bump update!  Neat that my 1st and my last updates made the top 5 list this year!  Not sure I'll ever be that skinny again....I think my "bump" is bigger now.  No, I know my "bump" is bigger now.  haha.  But I don't even care.  Our Little Miss is more than worth it.

And the most popular post this past year was.......drum roll please.....

1. Why We Didn't Wait the Typical 12 Weeks  
This post is one that is so very dear to my heart.  And it was my first post ever to go over 150 page views to nearly 800!!  I was absolutely blown away.  But then...it speaks to something so many women either fear or have been through.  At 9 weeks, I thought we were losing our baby....and that was just a few months after we had already suffered through a miscarriage.  This post walks through that day.  I am so very thankful that our Baby Girl is here today!




Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Traditions

It's that time of year when the world falls in love.  Every song you hear seems to say, "Merry Christmas...."

I absolutely love this time of year.  There is a sense of magic in the air.  People are a little bit nicer.  Giving is at an all time high.  And almost everyone (with the exception of an occasional Scrooge) is just a tiny bit happier.

Another fun part of the Christmas season is that everyone celebrates just a little bit differently.  I love hearing about a tradition I had never heard of before...or something that is extremely unique to just one family.  We have our own traditions and one I'm sure no one else shares.  ;)




One of my favorite traditions, and one shared by many, is to go pick out our tree.  In previous years we have just gone to a big box store and chose one.  Which I still enjoyed.  But this year we went to a tree farm.  Since Baby Girl is still so tiny, we just chose one from the lot.  But I know we will be going back for years to come.  Why?  Because the experience was phenomenal.  They had a cute little Christmas shop set up with tons of ornaments and other Christmas decor.  You could get hot chocolate, hot dogs...snack bar type stuff.  Santa Claus stopped by!  And if you wanted to pick a tree out of the field, there was a horse drawn wagon to take you!  There you could either cut your own or they would cut one for you.  I am very much looking forward to going as a family in the years to come.

After we pick our  tree, we go home, turn on Christmas music, and decorate!  I love going through our ornaments and picking just precisely where they belong on the tree.  Speaking of ornaments....have you ever heard of Patience Brewster?  She has designed gorgeous ornaments which you can see here.  Anyways....back to our ornaments....

After getting married, Hubby & I decided to decorate our tree in our favorite colors: green & blue.  We added silver as well to bring it all together.  The trend has continued and I absolutely love it.  Someday we plan on having a "fun" tree for the kids ornaments and the ones I have from my childhood.  But here is where the super strange unique tradition we have began.  The very first year we had a tree for the 2 of us was the year before we were married.  We didn't have any ornaments of our own so my parents sent us a box of the old wooden ones that we used on our tree each year.  Among those ornaments was a little clown, with x's for eyes.  While I know each x was meant to look like stitched eyes, but Hubby and I both instantly thought "dead clown" because in today's cartoons, x's mean the character is dead.  We laughed about the "dead clown" and he has to be "hidden" somewhere in the tree each year.  I say hidden because one day our children will have to find that clown.  haha.  But for now, he just gets a special place on the tree...even if he doesn't really match our decor...



I cannot wait for the traditions we will start in the years to come now that we have a beautiful little one to celebrate with!

What strange, *ahem* I mean, unique Christmas traditions does your family have?