We brought our Christmas tree inside a couple of weeks ago, after picking it up at a local tree lot.  Mike gave it a fresh cut, it took its place in the stand, and I began turning it around and around, deciding on the perfect angle to face into the room.  As I was studying the tree, an unexpected shine flashed from near the bottom.  I bent down to examine it, and found a piece of tinsel nestled in the branches.

The memory came flooding in.

When I was a kid, we used to put tinsel on the Christmas tree.  At some point, we stopped.  I imagine it was due to some combination of environmental reasons and mess reasons.  Greg loved the tinsel, though, and wanted to keep using it.  The compromise was that he got to keep a few pieces.  He tucked them away in his own ornament box.  Each year, he carefully placed the tinsel on the tree, and then carefully tucked it back into his box.

I think this mystery strand of tinsel has just found a new home.

mini pooper

I would like to introduce you to a shiny brand new blog!  Meet Sarah and Brian, cousins of ours, who are in the process of adopting a baby - their very own little mini pooper.  They are treasuring their journey and have decided to share it with the world.  I am so excited for them and I'm looking forward to hearing about what the road ahead has in store for them.  Won't you join me and welcome them to the blogosphere?

i blinked and this happened

Just for comparison's sake, click here to see Emmett today, and now here is Emmett one year ago today:

elephant song

If you don't already know about the Elephant Song, you should watch this.  It's so clever and cute, I would watch it even if it wasn't one of Emmett's favorite things, which is not something I can say about most of what's out there for kids entertainment.

home again

We are back home again for a while, after lots of travel for family events, birthday celebrations and Thanksgiving gathering.  It was a wonderful whirlwind and now we've come home to this.  I guess I know what I'm doing tomorrow.

a favorite

This photo, taken a few weeks ago, is one of my favorite from Emmett's entire first year.  I see his personality shining through his eyes and it makes me smile.

chilly walk

The weather is quite bitter and cold, but Poppy bundled Emmett up and the two of them had fun on a walk outside anyway.


Emmett started out his Thanksgiving by opening a few birthday presents from us and from Nana & Poppy and playing with new toys. We had a very relaxing morning playing and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Emmett took a good nap and then we went to Auntie Patty and Uncle Will's house for our big meal.

We had lots of playtime and catching up time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and ate ourselves silly with all the yummy food. It was a good and happy way to spend the day.

When we got back to my parents' house, Emmett had a bath and settled into his jammies. Mike built a fire and we cozied up in the living room. Emmett was totally enthralled by the fire, and kept saying "light" over and over in awe.

He's in bed now, and the rest of us are curled up on couches, watching a movie and getting ready to eat steaks being cooked in the fireplace.

I am thankful for Emmett's first Thanksgiving spent with us and family instead of in the NICU waiting for test results. I am thankful those tests eventually were negative and he is perfect, healthy and thriving. I am thankful for every hug and kiss. I am thankful for this day.

twelve months

Dear Emmett,

A year ago today, you changed our lives.  You came crashing into this world with plenty of fanfare, that's for sure.  But when you got here, and we found out you were a boy, our Emmett, everything was suddenly perfect.  You were exactly who we had been waiting for, the perfect addition to our family.

The year has flown by, and I am in awe of what an assertive and creative little boy you're becoming.  Slowly, we are getting more and more insight to your personality and I'm starting to see how you fit into our family.  We get glimpses of how your personality will mix with mine and with Daddy's.  Our similarities and differences and habits and needs clash more often each day, but in a totally good way (most of the time).  It means you're integrated more into our daily life as an individual person instead of as a baby whose needs are predictable and met on demand.

You are stubborn.  I often sigh and tell you that you're too much like your Mamie.  You have a stubborn streak that would have rivaled hers, and oh, how she would have loved that.  How she would have loved you.  It's fun to see what traits of yours mirror others in our family.  For instance, your laugh is exactly like cousin Alli's and your attention span is a lot like mine and Nana's. 

You talk so much.  You repeat nearly everything we ask of you and I'm confident that you can say just about anything you want; it's just a matter of whether you will or not.  One of your favorite words is please.  Which functions very well for you as "give me that."  When you spot food, a toy, an object you know you can't have, anything you want, you say please repeatedly.  Other favorite words right now include light, bath, clock, ball, button, out, juice, head, blocks, truck, among many others.  You know how to do some animal sounds- lion, tiger, snake, kitty, dog and cow.  Pretty much everything else roars, according to you.

Over the last few weeks, you have conquered three major milestones.  You are a true walking kid now.  It's a rare occasion that you resort to crawling.  Your car seat has been turned around to face forward, which makes for much more pleasant car rides for both of us.  And your last bottle was four days ago.  You still ask for your bottle, especially before bed, but we just pretend you've asked for your ball or your juice or almost anything else to distract you.  It's been a bit of adjustment, but you were pushing away your bottle after only a few ounces and you were ready for the change. 

You love the Five Little Monkeys and very excitedly start hitting yourself in the head when I start saying it to you or reading you the book.  Going for walks makes you happy.  Whenever we pass a light or a clock, it must be pointed out.  The mere suggestion of a bath makes you race into the bathroom, throw any nearby washcloths or toys in, screech the word bath over and over and stare into the tub, trying to get into it by sheer force of willpower.  You are fully on the go and in charge.  You don't sit still for much, but you will still sit and read books.  The right books will keep you occupied and calm for 20-30 minutes at a time.  Favorites include Peek-a-Who?, Old MacDonald's Barn, Goodnight Moon, Five Little Monkeys, I Love You Through and Through, and several of the Spot books. 

You've had quite a time celebrating your first birthday already.  We had a cake for you at the Pre-Thanksgiving Feast at home in Jersey City this year, and you opened a few presents.  We had a cake for you in PA with Daddy's side of the family, and all the aunts, uncles & cousins came with smiles and hugs and gifts.  Today, you and I had a cupcake after your lunch as a treat before we had to get in the car to pick up Daddy and drive up to CT for Thanksgiving.  We have one more big celebration in store for you on Saturday, with all of your CT family.  You're really getting the hang of opening presents. 

You learn so many new things every single day.  It is a true pleasure to be by your side.  It is an honor to be your mother.  Happy Birthday, Emmett.


it's all been said already

One year ago today, I was in the middle of this little adventure.

one year ago today

A year ago today was my last day at home with Emmett still in my belly, though I didn't know it at the time, nor did I know he would be an Emmett.  I had tied up all loose ends at my job almost a week prior, and I was at home waiting.  I was dreadfully uncomfortable, dealing with a sore back, constant heartburn, and having contractions on and off, regular and then irregular, all mild and painless.  That had been going on for days. 

My mind was so distant and unfocused, I couldn't concentrate on anything requiring a constant attention span.  TV and reading were no good.  I eventually discovered in the last couple of weeks that jigsaw puzzles were the key for me.  They kept me occupied without requiring too much thinking or focus.  I sat at the table for hours in that last week, bouncing on the ball and doing puzzles.  Mike would join me and keep me company whenever he had time. 

We got out of the house occasionally, going for drives or for short walks, but mostly we waited.  We did the puzzles.  Mike was very patient with the doing of the puzzles all the time.  And we listened to music.  Waayyy back when, I requested ideas for a labor playlist.  I said I would follow up with what I ended up deciding, but I never did. 

I just started scanning through my iPod and the iTunes store and went with whatever songs jumped out at me and seemed like they might work.  As it turns out, the playlist has served us well.  I listened to it constantly during the last couple of week before Emmett was born, and I listened to it on and off during my full day of labor before I finally requested the epidural.  It worked well for me.

It doesn't end there, though.  I noticed after Emmett was born that whenever we played that music, the music he heard all the time before he was born, he would settle down.  To this day it calms him, and it has become Emmett's playlist.  If I have him in the car by myself for a trip, I will usually put on that playlist so he'll settle down and sleep in the car.  It is remarkable.

In case you are curious, here is my list (in no particular order; I always listen to it on shuffle):

Lying in the Hands of God - Dave Matthews Band
Keep Holding On - Glee cast
All I Want Is You - Juno soundtrack
Down to the River to Pray - Alison Krauss (O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack)
Bella's Lullaby - Twilight soundtrack
Besame Mucho - Andrea Bocelli
All You Need Is Love - Beatles
You're My Home - Billy Joel
Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan
Pie Jesu - Chorus Angelicus
Colorblind - Counting Crows
Tiny Dancer - Elton John
Only Time - Enya
Breathe - Faith Hill
Your Song - Elton John
To Make You Feel My Love - Garth Brooks
The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
Lucky (feat. Colbie Caillat) - Jason Mraz
Carrigdhoun - Captain Mackey's Goatskin and Stringband
Imagine - John Lennon
Give Yourself to Love - Kate Wolf
I Am a Rock - Simon & Garfunkel
Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel
She's My Kind of Rain - Tim McGraw
It's Your Love - Tim McGraw
Come Away with Me - Norah Jones
No Air - Glee cast
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
Both Sides Now - Joni Mitchell
Crash Into Me - Dave Matthews Band
Fly Me Away - Annie Little
Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) - Dixie Chicks
I'll Take Care of You - Dixie Chicks

taking inventory

This is a bit of a housekeeping post, partly for my own purposes, to take stock of where we've been so far and where we're going still in this 2010 Nablopomo adventure. Going on the theme weeks, so far we've made it through Remembrance Week, Cloth Diaper Week and Giving Thanks Week.

During Remembrance Week, I learned that I've got much more to say than I thought about my own personal reasons and methods for remembering.  I covered a lot and it turned out to be a week of writing therapy for me.  I plan to feature posts on this topic going forward.  If you want to catch up on these posts, they can be found here:

remembrance week
how do you handle the stuff?
memorial objects
finding an outlet for the memories
letting greg's memory shine through to others
memorial fund

Next we went on to Cloth Diaper Week, where I got down in writing the answers to many questions I've had asked of me over the last year, as well as lots more information you didn't know you wanted.  This is not a topic I plan to feature here often, unless specific issues come up, but there was a lot I wanted to say and this gave me the opportunity to do so.  If you want to learn a few things about modern cloth diapering, you can find those posts here:

cloth diaper week
deciding which cloth diapers to use
cloth diaper stash and accessories
logistics and simplistics of cloth diapering
cloth diaper networking and resources

Last week, I told you about something for which I was thankful each day.  I would like to continue doing this from time to time here.  I think it is uplifting and maybe even therapeutic to pause and be thankful for something, even if it is something silly and trivial.  Here are a few of the things I've been thankful for over the past week:

pre-thanksgiving feast
delightful mess
the bookshelf
baby gate
laundry helper
lending a helping hand

Going into the last full week of November, I'll be celebrating Emmett's birthday, with memories of the last weeks before he was born, favorite pictures from the past year and, of course, his monthly letter on Wednesday.  Stay tuned!

lending a helping hand

I am thankful for cousins who assist with demonstrating birthday toys because the recipient is far too busy with the box.

laundry helper

I am thankful for help with the laundry.  Emmett likes to whip all the clothes out of the washer onto the floor, and is very proud of himself for helping.  When I ask him to do the laundry, he goes in to wait at the machines.

This afternoon, I took diapers out of the dryer (with his help, of course), and brought the basket of clean diapers out to the living room.  I asked Emmett if he was going to help me fold the laundry.  I guess all he heard was the word laundry, because he came over to the basket, grabbed a diaper insert and carried it to the washing machine.


I am thankful for the couple of days Emmett got to spend helping Nana recover from her neck surgery, and I am thankful to see the slow and steady improvements in her each day.

baby gate

I am thankful for the new windowed baby gate at Nana & Poppy's house, which not only provides peek-a-boo entertainment, but also stops Emmett from succeeding at his endless attempts to dive down the stairs.

the bookshelf

Emmett has his own room at Nana & Poppy's house, with a crib and toys.  It used to be Uncle Greg's room, though, and I am thankful for the bookshelf in there, still piled with Greg's treasures, which allows us to help Emmett get to know his uncle.

delightful mess

I am thankful for this mess, the evidence of an afternoon filled with playtime and laughter.

pre-thanksgiving feast

We enjoyed our annual Pre-Thanksgiving Feast with friends today.  It was good company, good food and worth every second of the hard work.  Especially since Mike does most of the cooking! 

Really, though, it was fantastic and this has become one of my most favorite annual holiday traditions.  We always spend Thanksgiving with family, and this tradition allows us special time to celebrate with friends, too. 

This was Emmett's first year of participating in this tradition; he also had the first of three birthday cakes scheduled for the next couple of weeks, and opened his first round of gifts. 

I am starting this week's theme of Giving Thanks early.  Today, I am thankful for the Pre-Thanksgiving Feast and, especially, for these friends:

emmett says light

Emmett talks a lot, but I haven't captured iton video before.  He was playing this afternoon while I had the camera out and he spotted the light on the front of the camera.  Light is his favorite word; he has to always point out every light he sees.

cloth diaper networking and resources

Once you've decided to use cloth diapers, you may want to wade into the online cloth diaper community.  There are countless sources for information, questions, purchasing, swapping, etc.  It can be useful, especially if you don't have anyone in your life who is also cloth diapering for tips and support, although it's certainly not necessary.  As I said before, cloth diapering is as simple as you make it.  However, participating in some of what's out there can also provide fun and giveaways, which is great.

Facebook is a great place to start getting involved.  Follow your favorite cloth diaper brands, detergent brands, online cloth diaper stores and cloth diaper blogs.  Most, if not all, of these will encourage you to post questions on their wall, start conversations, and they are more than willing to reach out, answer questions and treat customers/readers with respect.  It is a great way to find out what solutions there might be to any issues you're having and get ideas.  Some of these also post discounts, contests and giveaways.  The cloth diaper related pages I follow on Facebook are:  Cotton Babies, Diapershops.com, The Cloth Diaper Whisperer, bumGenius, Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper Detergent, Diaper Decisions, Liz Has A Life, All About Cloth Diapers and We want to see cloth diapers in hospitals.  If anyone has any others I should know about, let me know!

Diaper Decisions is a website dedicated mainly to cloth diaper businesses, but they have an event going on this month which is fantastic for introducing cloth diapers, called the Great Cloth Diaper Hunt.  Participating websites hide an icon somewhere on their websites, which you find, click and it registers each one you find.  It's like a diaper scavenger hunt.  There are daily prizes and grand prizes, which is great, but it's also a fun way to take a tour of what's out there and get to know the available cloth diapers and accessories.

Kelly's Closet is an online cloth diaper retailer.  They have become my favorite place to stock up and try new things, because of their excellent customer service and their frequent discounts.  They post on Facebook (as Diapershops.com) coupons and discounts, and very often a code to receive a free one-size cloth diaper with a minimum purchase.  For someone just stocking up on diapers, this would certainly lower the overall cost.  And for an established cloth diapering parent like me, it is incentive to try a couple of new cute things, and get a free new type of diaper to try along with it.

Babycenter has quite a few community groups/message boards dedicated to cloth diapers, and they also have a Cloth Diaper Swap group.  Members can post used diapers and diaper accessories for sale or trade, and they will invoice you through Paypal.  I have bought used diapers there a couple times, and it's been a positive experience for me.  I think that for the next baby we would try to buy a stash of newborn cloth diapers that way, instead of using disposables at the beginning.

Diaper Swappers is a more mainstream diaper forum and swapping board.  I have spent some time browsing the site and I think it's interesting and helpful, but I haven't bought anything or participated much there.

The websites of many of the top diaper and detergent brands often have helpful information, tips and troubleshooting as well, for their particular diapers and for washing and care recommendations.

Natali at Mommy Beta is a CBS correspondent who has agreed to challenge herself to a 30-day cloth diaper trial and experiment, after a very shameful Cloth vs. Disposable diaper wars segment which may as well have been an ad for Huggies and Pampers.  The cloth diapering community came out in droves to call her out on it (skim a few of the comments on the video- you'll get the idea very quickly).  We commented, explained and asked her to redo the segment after researching the actual truth about cloth diapers.  The community asked her to please tell both sides of the story.  Most were critical but constructive, but there are always a few ruthless and nasty diaper warriors.  But when she agreed to step up and try the cloth diapers, the community responded again- this time with loads of encouragement, advice and support.  I look forward to following her journey.

The online cloth diaper community is vast, interesting and I don't think I've even scratched the surface of what's out there.  I am continuing to learn and explore, and if you have any favorite cloth diaper sites, resources, blogs, anything, please share!

logistics and simplistics of cloth diapering

I keep my stash of diapers, stuffed and ready to go, in the top drawer of the changing table/dresser.  On top of the table, I keep a brewed mug of chamomile tea, which I use as wipes solution, and a stack of cloth wipes.  Next to the changing table, on the wall, there is a hook on which I hang the wet bag for dirty diapers and wipes.

When I change a wet diaper, I toss it in the wet bag and put on a new diaper.  When I change a poopy diaper, I set it aside, wipe Emmett, toss dirty wipes in the wet bag, re-diaper and dress him, and set him on the floor.  I grab the dirty diaper, spray it off into the toilet with the diaper sprayer, toss it in the wet bag and wash my hands.

Every other day when it's time to wash diapers, I grab the full wet bag, dump it into the washer and toss the bag in after the diapers.  I add 1tbsp of Rockin' Green detergent, set my HE front loading washer to do a cold pre-wash, an extra-hot sanitary wash, and 2 cold rinses.  I push a few buttons and that's the entire wash cycle.  Before we bought the HE washer, I would run a cold wash first, with no detergent, followed by a hot wash with detergent and then a cold rinse.

Rockin' Green detergent has worked brilliantly for us.  You have to be careful which detergent you choose for cloth diapers, as anything with additives, like enzymes, dyes, perfumes, bleach, etc. voids the warranty on the diapers.  Rockin' Green was developed by a cloth diapering mom for cloth diapers and meets all warranty requirements.  It works great and we now use it for all laundry in our house.

When the washer is finished, I toss all the inserts in the dryer and hang up the covers on a clothesline I rigged hanging above my washer & dryer.  When everything is dry, I toss it all into a basket, stuff the inserts into the diapers and put them back in the drawer, ready to use.

That's it.  It is no more than changing diapers and an extra load of laundry every couple of days.  And it's actually my favorite load to do; gathering and putting together the clean fluffy diapers makes me happy.  Before I had Emmett, I thought that if I were planning to go back to work, I would not be cloth diapering.  I no longer think that.  I think it would be just as easy to use cloth diapers if  I was working and Emmett was in daycare. 

When I'm not at home, the process is not much different.  It would be very similar to what a daycare provider would do with cloth.  I keep a wet bag with me (a smaller version of the ones I use as a diaper pail), containing clean diapers and disposable wipes in the dry outside pocket.  When I change a wet diaper, I just put it into the main sealed pocket of the bag and that's it.  If it's a poopy diaper, depending on where I am, I will often just tuck the disposable wipes into the diaper, just as you would with a disposable diaper.  If I get to it when I get back home, I'll spray the diaper and toss the wipes.  If I don't, and there is still poop there, I'll toss everything in the washer on laundry day and just run an extra cold rinse before the wash cycle.  The disposable wipes can stay there; they just come out clean from the washer and I toss them in the garbage then.

In the past year, we have only used disposables for travel once, and that was for a trip to Florida by myself with Emmett in February to see cousins.  I chose to travel with disposables partly because I wasn't too sure of packing and traveling with Emmett at 3 months old and partly because my two cousins also use cloth diapers on their kids and I was trying not to put a tax on Maresi's washer with three cloth diapered babies at her house at once!  

Aside from that, we have traveled with cloth.  We've either had quick overnight or Friday evening - Sunday afternoon trips where we can store the diapers in the wet bag and wash when we get back, or we've traveled to family where we can wash diapers.  I keep a bag of detergent at my parents' house, to make it even easier when we're there. 

Honestly, I just can't say it enough:  cloth diapering is easy.  You buy diapers once and you wash and reuse them.  It doesn't have to be more complicated than that, but there are certainly choices and questions and issues and there is a huge online cloth diapering community for support and help and fun.  Tomorrow I'll tell you what I've learned about this community and what sites and boards are my favorite.

cloth diaper stash and accessories

Yesterday's post was long and probably a little tedious, so I'll keep today's shorter and more to the point.  Cloth diapering is really as simple or as complicated as you make it. 

I believe in keeping it simple; it does not have to be difficult or time-consuming. These are the basics you should have to get started with cloth diapering, in my opinion.  The list can and will evolve based on your own needs and preferences as you go along, but this is a good guideline.

~At least 24 diapers.  I have quite a few more than that, which is great, but 24 is enough.  Newborns need to be changed anywhere from 8-12 times a day, and diapers need to be washed every other day. 

~A stash of newborn diapers.  You can go with disposables for a couple of weeks until the cord falls off, which is what we did.  Or you can buy newborn sized cloth diapers (lots of people sell these used, since they're not used very long), which is probably what I would do next time. 

~Wipes.  I use cloth wipes, homemade flannel little washcloths from my aunt.  They are probably similar to these -- http://www.cottonbabies.com/product_info.php?products_id=104 -- but you could use almost any thin cotton washcloth.  My pediatrician recommended wiping Emmett's bottom with chamomile tea, when he was tiny and had diaper rash, to help heal it.  It worked perfectly and I stuck with it.  I keep a stack of wipes (I have probably about 30 or more) and a mug of brewed chamomile tea on the changing table.  I just brew a new mug every couple days.  For me, it's even easier to use these than to use disposable wipes, because I can throw these right in with the dirty diapers and then they get washed with the diapers.  I don't have to have a separate garbage can in there for wipes. Also I do keep small packs of disposable wipes handy for the diaper bag.

~A small stash of thin washcloths (if you don't use cloth wipes - if you do, those can double for this purpose).  If you ever need to use diaper rash cream, you have to put a washcloth barrier inside the diaper.  The cream stains the cloth diapers and can make them less absorbent.  If you just put a thin washcloth in between the baby's skin and the diaper, you can still use diaper cream with cloth diapers.

~A wet bag for the diaper bag, to store dirty/wet diapers when you're out.  I like this one by Planet Wise.  They have a sealed section for wet/dirty diapers and a separate dry section for clean diapers, extra clothes, wipes, or anything else. 

~Diaper pail or wet bag.  I bought a regular diaper pail from babies r us (this one) at the beginning and it worked okay.  You can just use the plastic bag insert several times before throwing it out and replacing it.  The size of the hole to toss the diapers in is a bit awkward and annoying for the cloth, though.  A couple months ago I finally ditched that method and bought two of these Planet Wise hanging wet bags, which hang on a hook by the changing table, to use instead of a diaper pail.  Two, because that way I can toss the bag in to wash with the diapers every time I do diaper laundry and always have the clean one ready to use.

~Diaper sprayer.  I have and like the bumgenius one, but there are lots of brands out there.  Hook it up to your toilet's water supply and hang it on the wall.  It is a life saver when rinsing out dirty diapers. 

~Clothesline or other place to hang up the diaper covers.  You can dry them but they hold up better if you hang them up and just toss the inserts in the dryer.

~Diaper detergent.  Rockin' Green is my favorite, I am almost a year in and I've never had to strip my diapers (which you can do with small amounts of bleach and Dawn liquid dishsoap if needed, if they really get the stinkies). 

Tomorrow, I'll talk about some of the logistics of storing & washing diapers, and what has worked the best for us to keep up the cloth diapering while on the go and while traveling.

deciding which cloth diapers to use

Once you've decided to use cloth diapers, the choices can be overwhelming.  I have tried several different kinds of diapers, and I'll tell you what I think of each of them, but there are many other brands, large and small.  There are also lots of other choices to make, such as wipes, diaper sprayer (or not), clean diaper storage, dirty diaper storage, detergent, etc.

Starting with diapers, I'll tell you each type I've used and how I feel about them.  This may be too much information for many of you, but I have had lots of people ask me these kinds of questions, so I want to get this all down for reference! 

~bumGenius 3.0:  These are a one-size pocket diaper with aplix tabs and front-rise adjustable snaps for size settings.  They make up the vast majority of my diaper stash, although one by one they are getting tucked away into storage for aplix (the generic name for velcro) tab replacement.  Some of my 3.0s have good quality aplix and have held up well, and some are wearing out and already unusable.  This is an issue that was resolved in the new version of the diapers, below.  Overall, though, these have served me very well.  The colors are limited but cute, the inserts are very absorbent, and aside from the aplix issues I'm happy with them.

~bumGenius 4.0:  I have five of these; four with snap tabs and one with aplix.  The aplix on the 4.0 is far superior to the 3.0, and I have been putting it through the wringer, making sure it gets worn and washed every time I wash diapers.  It has not shown any signs of wear in 4 months.  I have come to like the snaps more than aplix, though, because Emmett can't take them off.  He is always trying to take off the aplix diapers, but he can't undo the snaps.  The upgrades in this version of the diaper include better aplix, availability of snaps and more generous sizing to fit chunky babies longer.

~Tweedlebugs:  This is a one-size sleeve diaper (like the pocket, except open on both ends) with snaps and front-rise adjustable snaps for size settings.  I have one of these, which I got free with an order from Kelly's Closet.  The diaper seems not quite as high quality as other pocket diapers I have, but it is definitely one of the roomiest diapers and fits Emmett with loads of room to grow, which is great.  It has held up well for about 3 months of use so far.  I didn't like the size of the inserts that came with it, so I use bumGenius inserts with this diaper, which works well.

~Happy Heinys:  This is a one-size pocket diaper with snap tabs and front-rise adjustable snaps for size settings.  I have one of these, which I bought to try after reading on some reviews that they run bigger than some other one-size pockets.  The sizing is generous and they have loads of cute colors. The snap system is more cumbersome than some, because there are 4 snaps on each tab (a total of 8 to snap every time you put it on).  It can be a little annoying, but the benefit is that you can overlap the tabs, making for much greater potential for size adjustment.  This diaper fits Emmett well, has held up very well and I'm happy with it.

~Fuzzibunz:  These are one-size pocket diapers with snap tabs.  The adjustment system on these is very different from all the others; the elastic at the legs and at the waist is adjustable to change the size of the diaper, without any extra folds and snaps in the front.  This makes it by far the trimmest diaper Emmett has, and probably my current favorite.  I have five of these right now, with two more (won in a giveaway last week!!) on the way.  I bought one new, received one as a free diaper with order from Kelly's Closet, and bought three used on a diaper swapping board.  The inserts that came with the original are a good fit and very trim, but I don't think they are as absorbent as the other inserts I have.  I sometimes use the bumGenius inserts with them, which fit and work well, but aren't quite as trim.  I love these diapers but I am not convinced that they'll fit Emmett all the way to potty training.  We'll see.

~Babykicks:  I have one babykicks one-size pocket diaper with side snap closure and adjustable front-rise snaps for size settings.  It has a hemp insert, and it is built well.  I haven't been using this diaper very long, but so far, no complaints.  I also have one babykicks organic fitted diaper, which requires a cover on top of it.  This diaper is absorbent and works very well, but I don't really like it.  It's quite bulky on its own, plus it needs a cover on top of it.  I don't use it much.

~Thirsties Duo:  I have one size 2 Thirsties Duo cover, which I love.  It fits snugly without being too tight and the adjustable snaps and snap tabs are good quality.  To go with it, I have three sets of Thirsties Duo inserts, which just lay inside the cover and then it gets snapped onto Emmett.  The advantage here is quick change by just tossing the inserts into the wetbag and then laying a new insert in the cover and snapping back on.  I don't think poop is quite as easy to clean up with these diapers, but still no big deal. 

~Flip:  I have one Flip cover but no Flip inserts.  I use it with the Thirsties inserts and with the occasional prefold.  This cover is built exactly like the bumGenius 4.0 diaper (both made by Cotton Babies) except that it is just a shell.

~Econobum:  I have one econobum cover and prefold.  I rarely use the cover.  While it is certainly functional, it is not quite as sturdy or high-quality as the Flip and Thirsties covers, so it tends to sit at the bottom of the pile.  I really like the prefold.  I do not use it with pins or snappis; I use it just like any other insert.  I fold it in thirds and lay it inside the Flip or Thirsties cover.  The Econobum prefolds are soft and absorbent and I may look to add to my stash with a few more of these to use with the diaper covers I like.

Well.  That was long-winded and over-informative.  I intended to include the other things you need (wipes, accessories, etc.) with this post, but I think I've said enough for one day.  I'll be back tomorrow's with that stuff and a discussion of how to store and wash diapers.

cloth diaper week

After last week, the topic of cloth diapers will hopefully be a lighter topic and we can all take a collective breath and leave behind the tough stuff for now.  Not that cloth diapers aren't a bit of a hot-button issue themselves; they certainly are.  Those of us who cloth diaper tend to be very passionate about it.  We believe in it as a community.  We all have our reasons, we all have our methods and our preferences, and we all have people who doubt us, challenge us and laugh at us. 

This week, I want to talk about my reasons for using cloth diapers, how to choose and buy them, how to store and wash them, how to be an on-the-go parent while cloth diapering, as well as how to navigate the vast online cloth diapering community.  I am going to tell you things that apply to me and my personal experience.  They may not match your opinions or methods or whatever, but this is my space and I'm choosing to share my thoughts for anyone who may be interested.

I would love to create a discussion and hear all opinions, but I do not want to foster the divisive bickering that often breaks out in the cloth v. disposable wars.  I am not here to judge or criticize, and, for this week, I intend to keep it positive about cloth diapers as opposed to negative about disposables.  Everyone knows already, I think, about the billions of disposable diapers, collecting in landfills every year, which by most estimates will not biodegrade for at least 200 years.  I will leave it at that and try very hard not to bring up the negatives, as that is always a trigger for nasty diaper wars. 

I always figured I would use cloth diapers.  I knew I would be staying at home with my children if at all possible, and I was vaguely aware of the fact that cloth diapers did not involve pins and rubber pants anymore.  I had not thought it all the way through, but as luck would have it, my cousin Maresi began using cloth diapers on her daughter about six months before I got pregnant with Emmett.  She found a cute, well-made, easy to use diapering system (bumGenius), which I will discuss later this week, and it made my decision even easier. 

For me, choosing cloth diapers was a no-brainer, and I just figured since I was going to be home anyway, I might as well not be tossing diapers into the garbage.  After using cloth for almost a year now, my opinion has evolved and changed.  My eyes have been opened, my reasons have expanded and I would never, ever give up cloth diapering, no matter my work situation.

Cloth diapers are stunningly easy to use.  Aside from changing diapers, it takes me 15 minutes of work (not including the wash cycle itself, obviously) every other day to wash and fold them.

They are unbelievably cute.  The various colors, patterns and styles available are countless.  They can be coordinated to outfits, worn with just a t-shirt on hot summer days, and all the cute fluff just makes me happy when I'm folding them all clean and fresh out of the dryer.

We have had fewer than ten poop blowouts in Emmett's 11 months so far, and nearly all of those happened when Emmett wasn't wearing his cloth diapers due to traveling.  Emmett has some really sticky, powerful poop that can reach every last far corner of his diapers and yet it is always contained.

Cloth diapers will save money.  They will save you even more money if you decide to use cloth before you have a baby and you let other people buy you cloth diapers as gifts, which is what we did.  We didn't register for baby gifts (we weren't planning to anyway; we wanted people to do whatever they wanted to for the baby), but we did spread the word that we were planning to use the bumGenius cloth diapers.  We got a good part of our stash that way.  Either way, though, there are lots of different options, running the full gamut of price, depending on what you want to use.  All of the options will save significant amounts of money in the end. 

Cloth diapers are good for the earth, as are cloth wipes, which are even simpler to use than disposable wipes when using cloth diapers.  I have heard it argued that the detergent used negates cloth diapers' positive environmental impact, but I challenge you to visit Rockin' Green and learn about their environmentally friendly detergent which has kept our diapers fresh and perfect and (nearly) stain-free for almost a year.  We like it so much we use it for all of our household laundry.

I truly believe that the reason more people to don't use and appreciate cloth diapers is because they simply aren't aware of what modern cloth diapering is like.  I'll do my best this week to share what cloth diapering is like in our house, as well as the tips and tricks I've learned along the way so far.  I hope that you'll join me and share your own opinions, tips, tricks and sources for information.

emmett's haircut

Last weekend, we took Emmett for a haircut.  His long baby hair was down to his nose and in his way and he really needed it, though I hated to see the baby hair go!  I am so happy with the haircut and he looks like such a little boy now.  Here are a few before, during and after pictures.


memorial fund

I had planned to stick to theme weeks Monday - Friday for the month of November, and keep weekends spontaneous and lighthearted.  I learned some things about myself this past week, though, and I've got one more topic on the remembrance week subject for today.

I have a lot more to say about remembrance and memories than I ever realized.  So this will not be the end of my discussion of that topic.  Today I have one more thing to discuss, and then I will set it aside for now and revisit it after I have some time to think and process and regroup.

A great way to honor and remember someone is to find something that meant a lot to that person and support that thing, whatever it may be.  It could be embracing a particular activity or hobby loved by that person.  It could be funding research for a cure for a disease or supporting any cause or issue that affected or mattered to the person.  It can be any number of ways to continue a legacy, limited only by imagination and creativity. 

In my brother's case, he was an outdoorsy guy.  He loved hiking, backpacking, camping, kayaking, skiing.  He even dabbled in rock climbing and loved it.  He was a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and he had big plans to hike the entire Appalachian Trail with his girlfriend, Aggie.  She eventually completed this goal, this journey.  They had this important goal set together, and she accepted the challenge and she hiked from Georgia to Maine for herself and for him.

My parents, Mike and I chose to honor Greg's memory through his love of the outdoors and for the AMC.  We asked family and friends to contribute to The Harry Duren Memorial Fund, through the AMC CT Chapter, which provides scholarships for teenagers to attend wilderness camps and programs.  The response was great, and we continue to support that fund and its goals. 

The CT AMC took notice of the support, and talked to my family about my brother.  They honored his memory with a tribute article to him in their Summer 2008 newsletter, which I shared here

Recently they acknowledged my family's continued support and approved a renaming of the fund.  The following is an excerpt taken from the CT AMC's most recent newsletter:

The Harry Duren and Gregory Simons
Memorial Fund

Donations to the Harry Duren Memorial Fund provide scholarships
to send one or two Connecticut teenagers to AMC’s Summer
Wilderness Adventures in the White Mountains. Over the last few
years the Simons family has made significant contributions to this
fund in memory of Gregory Simons, a young man whose life was
tragically lost several years ago. In recognition of their generosity,
and in remembrance of Greg, the CT-AMC Executive Committee
has approved a name change of this fund to: The Harry Duren
and Gregory Simons Memorial Fund.
The fund is a wonderful tribute to a lost friend or family
member who loved the outdoors. Each of the teenagers who
attend say that their Summer Wilderness Adventure was a
life-changing experience and is one which helps to produce a
future generation of stewards of the outdoors.
I hope you will consider supporting this fund; after all what
better gift can we leave?
Contributions can be sent to: Harry Duren / Greg Simons
Fund, c/o Eric Stones, 72 Sunset Hill Road, Bethel CT 06801.

This is so special to me.  It touches my heart to have Greg's memory preserved and honored through helping teenagers connect with nature.  Please click here for the full Autumn 2010 AMC in Connecticut newsletter, which includes a couple of letters from kids participated in the AMC's wilderness programs, as well as contact information for donating to the fund (on page 4).  My brother would have loved to know he is helping these kids. The importance of connecting with nature meant so much to Greg.  Continuing his legacy this way allows his memory to live on and to help others. 

letting greg's memory shine through to others

I said yesterday that I haven't found an answer to the question of what to do with the memories.  Not having a good handle on that answer makes it hard to communicate who Greg was to others, including those who never knew him and those who knew him briefly or not very well. 

When we moved from the Philadelphia suburbs to Manhattan five months after Greg died, I was very panicky about meeting new people.  I did not want to know anybody who did not know my brother.  This crippled me for more than a year after moving here, until I started to figure out how to express myself regarding my brother to new friends.  It turns out, for me, the best way is to work it into normal conversation the way you would stories of any sibling.  I tell stories of Greg when they intertwine with stories of childhood, brothers, siblings, growing up, etc.  The biggest hurdles are initial telling of his death, followed by the how.  If you think people shy away and clam up when you tell them your little brother is dead, try telling them he died of a heroin overdose.  Telling this to almost anyone brings conversation to a screeching halt and, often, personal conversations never start up again. 

The few friends that have made it past this hurdle and become close know my brother.  They know him through pictures and stories and through seeing the person I am when I talk about him.  I am guarded, still, and keep a lot close to my heart.  Too much, probably.  But it helps.  The fear I faced in showing new friends glimpses of my story, his story, our story, has played a vital role in my healing process. 

I need to share more and I need to open my heart to allow dormant memories to come to the surface.  These small steps, though, the tiny rare moments of showing my raw self to someone who has offered me friendship and support, they are everything.

I haven't addressed my parents' role in the grieving and healing process this week, by my own choosing, because that is another thing I keep private.  I don't want to lay out their personal journeys or speak for them here.  I have asked my mom for permission to share one thing today, though, which relates directly to what I've just described. 

My mom had a group of good friends in high school.  Real friends, treasured friends.  They lost touch years ago.  Long before Greg and I were even born, let alone Greg's death.  Through the wonders of Facebook, she found them again last spring and the friendships have opened up again.  She even went with her sister Jeanne to gather with a few of their friends in person a few months ago, and they laughed and bonded and behaved like schoolgirls again.  It has been wonderful for her, at least in my humble opinion.

But she has had to face the discussions of Greg's life and death.  The friends keep in touch through Facebook messaging, and her inbox is always full with her former classmates' updates and catching up.  A friend recently mentioned her daughter's battle with and victory over addiction. 

This puts her in a position I have been in many times.  The position of being both genuinely happy for this person and simultaneously angry and hurt for yourself.  You want to respond appropriately, without diminishing your own experiences or theirs. 

Eventually, she responded with this:    "When my son, Gregory, died from an overdose of heroin, I wondered why God did not answer my constant prayers to keep him safe and sound. Then I realized that God is keeping him safe and sound."

finding an outlet for the memories

We discussed what to do with the stuff, and that part was easy.  The stuff can be controlled, sorted and compartmentalized, giving you a sense of conquering your feelings.  But the real, intangible emotions, feelings and memories are slippery and complicated; figuring out what to do with these is much harder.  I really don't have the answers to this one.  I've tried a few things, struggled with some decisions, and ultimately it is still a big tangled jumble in my head.

Immediately after Greg died, I was surrounded 24/7, physically and emotionally, by family.  I have 18 first cousins, every last one of whom dropped everything and showed up for me.  For all of us, of course, but invaluably, forcefully, for me.  I did not have to make any decisions about the memories because they flooded forth from my cousins, surrounding me with love and memories and, believe it or not, laughter.  They kept me going and without them, I do not know what would have happened to me that week. 

Let me just pause one moment here to say that I do not devalue the amazing solid rock that Mike was for me and for my parents and family, as well as the support of my aunts & uncles and friends.  It was all key in getting me through.

I make no secret, though, of the fact that my cousins saved my life that week, kept me grounded, allowed me to cry and scream and yell and talk and laugh and weep.  Some of them, particularly, shared almost every moment with me that week, and because of them, the good, happy memories shone through the pain, starting even from right after Greg died. 

Later that year, I tried writing in a journal.  I carried it around with me and when a memory hit me that I wanted to hold on to, I wrote it in the journal.  It was sporadic and unnatural, though.  It didn't feel right or comfortable.  I kept on with it for a few months, but eventually gave up and I'm sure it's still around here somewhere but I don't even know where it is right now. 

As I waded through the grief process and tried to sort out the right place for the memories, I felt a lack of focus, a lack of support, a lack of outlets and people who understood; I have discussed this before.  Though I know there was so much love for me, I often felt isolated in my grief.  I struggled with the decision of whether to seek out a grief group or a therapist.  I soon abandoned the idea of a grief support group, because I had support.  I had people holding me up.  What I didn't have was someone who understood my situation and my kind of loss.  Someone to truly understand what it means to be not an only child. 

I eventually abandoned the idea of seeing a therapist, too, and I'm still not entirely sure that was the right decision, but it's the decision I made.  Around the time I abandoned that idea, I started this website.  It has served, in its own way, as a healing therapy for me.  It has done wonders for me and I really enjoy spending time here.  Like the journal, though, I don't find it a comfortable place to share and store memories most of the time.

And so the memories float around, without a specific outlet or landing pad.  When something triggers a memory of Greg, it is usually just a wispy, foggy thing, sometimes even just a feeling or emotion or sense of deja vu without a concrete memory.  These types of memories are very personal for me.  It is rare that I share them; they are mine.  I usually share memories and experiences relating to my brother only when they fit naturally into conversation.  

I make an effort to chat to Emmett about his Uncle Greg, but it is definitely an effort.  When one of those fleeting memories is triggered while Emmett and I are home, I try to drag it out into consciousness and talk to him about it.  It is very difficult, but also feels a bit therapeutic to me, and I want it to become more natural to talk out loud to Emmett about Greg.  It is important to me that Emmett knows his uncle through stories and pictures.  It is a step in the right direction for me, I think.

memorial objects

Yesterday, I mentioned that I categorize remembering my brother Greg into stuff and memories.  Those two things are not mutually exclusive, as the stuff is intertwined with the memories, but they are two separate issues for me.  So I started with the stuff.  I didn't really discuss that initial need to go through and sort and deal with the stuff right after a death -- that is a separate thing entirely and usually waded through by a survival instinct. 

I am focusing more on the stuff you save- how to use it, store it or display it to help yourself remember and to grow and heal.  I have a couple of items made by Christine, a family friend, using items belonging to Greg. They are some of my most favorite things.  They were made for me, and I can use them for my own purposes, but they are made from his things and provide the prompts to keep Greg alive in my heart.

The first is a bracelet, made using three beads from Greg's necklace.  Christine added pretty beads and created something lovely I can wear when I have a tough day or when I need to feel close to Greg. 

The second is a bag, also made by Christine.  It's an all-purpose bag, perfect for carrying laptop and lunch back and forth to work (when I used to do such things), toting books to the library,carrying a few diapers, change of clothes and a snack.  I actually use it as a purse on and off, and am doing so right now.  It makes me happy.  The painting and the choice of fabrics are beautiful, original, and done for me.  But Greg's things are there too.  Two more beads from the necklace are attached to the front of the bag, just below the straps.  The inner denim lining of the straps, the denim on the bottom of the bag, and the denim pocket inside the bag are from a pair of Greg's jeans. 

Lastly, I want to mention one other treasured memory object we have.  This one is in memory of our nephew Noah, who died five years ago at 11 months old.  His parents, Andi & Mike, had this memory bear made for us by Joe's Memory Bears.  It is made from a blanket of Noah's, and we keep it on a shelf in Emmett's room, where we can tell him stories about his cousin and eventually share with him the meaning of the bear and the memories of Noah. 

Dedicating specific objects as memorial things helps me deal with the stuff.  I do still struggle with it, and there are a few things of Greg's, or things that remind me of Greg, that float around my house from place to place with no real home, but I'm not willing to get rid of them.  The number of things like this seems to dwindle slightly over the years, but having special things and a special place for some of his things is reassuring.

Do you have any dedicated memorial objects?  How do you use stuff to keep memories alive?

how do you handle the stuff?

Setting aside the grief and the sadness and the loss itself, there are basically two categories of things that need to be dealt with: the stuff and the memories. 

It is obviously much more complicated than that, but I've never seen it broken down and discussed this way, and it's something that makes a lot of sense to me.  Today and tomorrow we're going to talk about what to do with the stuff.  Thursday and Friday we'll talk about what to do with the memories.  This is all very personal, and may not make sense for everyone, but no single answer or point of view will make sense for everyone.

Dealing with the stuff belonging to Greg is something I had to face, and something I still face, but in a much smaller way than my parents did.  He lived in their house and they had to deal with all of his day to day things, as well as everything he'd collected, saved, worn and used over the years.  So my experience is not the same as theirs, is not the same as yours, is not the same as anyone's. 

In my house, I had a few notes and cards he wrote to me, pictures, a couple of books of his, gifts he had given me, and that's about it.  But as my parents went through their own struggle with his stuff, they gave me some things, and I asked for some things. 

It is very hard to find the right balance.  If you keep too much stuff, you face an inability to move forward, and can get stuck in the past without enough room to grow and heal.  If you don't keep enough stuff, it can create a raw hole where everything slips away too fast and it feels like one of those falling dreams, the one where you fall and fall and fall and never land. 

As of right now, I have some pictures around, I have a few of Greg's favorite books on my bookshelves, I have a note he wrote to me on my fridge.  I have a box of various mementos on the shelf in my closet, where I can go look at it anytime I want, but I don't have to encounter it daily.  I also have a couple of dedicated memorial objects, which are among my most prized possessions.  I'll show them to you tomorrow. 

remembrance week

Today marks the beginning of National Blog Posting Month, as well as a new beginning for this website.  I am committed to publishing here every day for the month of November, in an effort to find my voice again.  In order to try and motivate myself and stay organized, I've decided to structure each week of November with a theme.  This week, November 1-5, is Remembrance Week.  I've chosen to start with Remembrance Week because it's the reason I started this blog in the first place.  To figure out how to remember and how to share and how to still be me after my brother died.  It was never just about remembering or about my brother, but it was always about who I have become after his death and how it has reshaped me and how I am forever changed but also still the same.

The passing of time has not changed that.  I am still the same but I will also never be the same.  It is a direct contradiction and yet is is the truth.  Four years, 7 months after his death and I have done a lot of healing and growing but sometimes the harsh reality of Greg's death still cripples me mentally and physically.  Unremarkable things catch me, bring back a memory or remind me of how close siblings can be - of how close we were - and I'm frozen.  I can't think, can't move, can barely breathe.  Can't imagine how I can go on without him.

Those moments are fleeting, now.

I recover more easily from them, drag myself out of the quicksand and center myself back into life.

But they do happen.  And I think they always will.

There are tricks to deal with these feelings and continue on.  I use them consciously and unconsciously.  Sometimes I voice them and sometimes I keep them close to my heart.  They are things that remind me of how much love and friendship I shared with my brother.  Things that remind me of how much love surrounded us as he dealt with his addiction and as he eventually lost that battle.  Things that remind me of what he would have wanted for me and ways that I can honor his memory.

I use these tricks and stories and memories, and sometimes physical things, to keep Greg's memory alive, to go on with my life and be happy, but also to remember.  To grow and change and live, and to be different and changed and forever altered but also the same.

it is entirely possible that this only appeals to my mom

This video is long and fairly uneventful, but I think it's super cute the way Emmett sits on the floor and feeds himself his afternoon snack.

eleven months

Dear Emmett,

Today you are eleven months old, and you have the distinct honor of celebrating your day with Pappy, whose birthday is today. Pappy gave you eleven dollars for your piggy bank to celebrate your eleven months. You promptly ripped the ten dollar bill in half and Daddy had to tape it up. We went out to breakfast with Mimi and Pappy to celebrate and you enjoyed applesauce, blueberries, pancakes, waffles and strawberries. You are such a good eater and can eat almost anything off our plates now. You're working on mastering the fork, and you clap for yourself when you succeed on getting bites into your mouth with it.

You took your first steps on October 7th, and I was lucky enough to catch it on video. You turned around and grinned at me, so proud of yourself. You're still not walking fully independently, but you take 5-6 steps at a time on your own. Your classes at the Little Gym every week are helping with this- you love to play and run there, and being around the other kids makes you want to keep up with them.

Words are pouring out of your mouth. Your favorite word is "light" and we have to point out every light, everywhere we go. I am no good at keeping track of them and writing them down, so I'll attempt to list as many of your words as I can think of here: light, up, duck, kitty, clock, please, more, out, sshhh, juice, heart, ball, bottle, book, bye-bye, Poppy, daddy, eyes, socks, shoes. I know there are more; you repeat things all the time, but those are the most commonly used. Some are clearer than others, but you get your point across. I started baby sign language with you months ago, but I've mostly given up on it. You're so vocal, you just say what you want to say. We do still do the sign alphabet whenever we sing the alphabet song, and you try to copy some of the letters.

You are such a typical boy in some ways- anything with wheels fascinates you. If you can roll it, drive it, ride it or crash it, you want it. Daddy found a ride-on fire truck by the dumpsters and we took it home, scrubbed it and put batteries in for the lights and sounds. You push it all over the house, turn it over to spin the wheels, and ride it while pushing the buttons to hear the sirens.

In other ways, though, you are so unique and full of unexpected personality. You're developing a sense of humor as you experiment to find out what makes us laugh. You clap your hands or shriek to crack yourself up. You think it's hysterical to run away from us so we'll chase you, but then as soon as we follow, you run toward us instead because you're so excited to be caught.

You listen always and absorb so much. I never know what will catch your interest and stick to that ever-expanding little mind. Clocks are so interesting, and always require study and investigation. Lions in your books or on your bibs or toys make you cackle and start roaring the cutest little roar ever. Music always makes you stop and dance. The sight of a door, any door, makes you race toward it, waving and saying "bye-bye."

If I ask you to go get in your high chair, or go find your ball, or go get a book, or come here please, or clap your hands or roar like a lion, you listen. This is probably the most fun development this month. I can say so many things, countless things, to you and you understand and respond. You know where you keep your pumpkin and you know how to turn on the flashlight and you know what I mean when I ask you to please stop copying your fingers on the printer/copier and you know to go in the bathroom and take off your socks when I tell you it's bath time. Although I should expect by now that you'll understand much of what I say, it still catches me by surprise when you respond to something I didn't realize you knew.

Keep surprising me. It's the best part of being your mother.


gearing up

I know I have been absent around this place for a while. I am gearing up for NaBloPoMo in November, and plan to dedicate the time for a post every day next month.

In the meantime, I came across this post today on Liz Has A Life, and I can't help sharing it. If you use disposable diapers, consider cloth if you can. She makes an excellent case and puts into words the way I feel about the issue.

If you use daycare, check their policy and check the state laws. New Jersey, for instance, has a law in place that daycare centers must follow the diapering norm of each child. If your daycare center won't cooperate for any reason, part-time cloth diapering works for many people.

I am trying to share my opinion, and I feel very strongly about it, but I do not want to be pushy and annoying. I do have some tips and information I will post later, but I will leave it at that for today.

excuse me while i climb onto my soapbox for a minute

I just walked over to the grocery store to pick something up that we forgot earlier. Outside the store, a car went by, driving toward the exit, with four people in it. I glanced over again and realized a woman in the backseat was holding a very small baby (less than 3 months) up on her shoulder. I walked very slowly, watching them, hoping I was going to be wrong and they were about to strap the baby into a car seat. I couldn't tell if there was a seat in the middle or not. I waited. As they moved along, she wrapped a blanket around the baby, then lifted it up to her face for a moment, and settled it back onto her shoulder. They moved along toward the exit.

I started to feel nauseous and my vision got all funny around the edges the way it does when I'm so angry I can't function. I pulled it together and jotted down the make, model & license plate number. I looked around for cops, as there are often a few around that area, and of course, there were none to be found. Halfway home, though, I knew there was a traffic cop due to some construction. I crossed the street halfway to talk to him and explained everything. He was as horrified as I was, and he gave me the direct number for the police dispatch.

I called the dispatch, explained everything and gave them my name and number. She said they would put out a notice for all cars in the area to watch for them.

At least five minutes had passed, maybe more, so I hold little hope that they will actually catch these people. But I am still angry and wish that I could do something about it.

If you choose not to wear your seat belt, it's a stupid thing to do, but that's your choice. You are deciding to be ignorant of safety. Babies, though, they don't get to decide. They rely on us to keep them safe. Please keep them safe. I am literally begging you. Put your children in car seats.

ten months

Dear Emmett,

Today you are 10 months old, and I find myself staring at a blank screen, unsure what to say. You are smart, funny, observant, creative and mischievous. Growing and developing happens so fast, every day, in so many different areas and directions and skills. It's too hard to define them all here in one letter any longer. I'll do my best to share the things that stand out most about you right now.

Your language is developing so quickly, at such a young age. You have been saying up, kitty and light regularly. As of yesterday, you've added duck and clock. You use mama and dada correctly, as well as baba, for bottle, and shhh for shoes and for sheep.

Even more exciting, though, is your comprehension. You understand so many words and phrases, follow simple instructions and point your finger to answer simple questions. You point to lights, people, each painting on the wall of your room. You sit down and stand up when I ask you to do so. Most of the time. You go chasing after the cat with glee, saying kitty ("itteh! itteh!") when I ask you where she is, much to the cat's dismay. Upon request, you point to your nose, mouth and toes, or mine, and you'll rub noses with me if I ask you to. You understand "no" and will usually stop whatever you're doing when I tell you no.

You have a penchant for ignoring my "no" when you discover certain destructive and fun activities, such as unrolling the toilet paper, knocking over the speakers and, my particular favorite, racing over to the cat food dish, grabbing a handful and flinging it across the room. This has become somewhat of a game to you. I can see you going for it and you know I'm going to stop you, so you crawl as fast as your little knees can go (which is surprisingly fast), racing to get there first so you can fling a handful before I get there.

You love clocks, seeking them out wherever we go. I keep a plastic wall clock within your reach in your room, and you will hold it in your lap and look at it. There are very few things that keep you in one place, but you will sit still and study the clock.

Reading still makes you happy, although you insist on turning the pages yourself very enthusiastically. Storybooks with thin paper pages are not in our repertoire unless I'm reading to you while you're off playing, as we would like to keep the pages in the books. For now, we'll stick with the board books.

Napping and sleeping at night are so much better. You still sometimes scream at naps, but you settle down and go to sleep in 5-10 minutes. Most days, you'll sleep an hour and a half in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. As you learned to settle yourself to sleep a few weeks ago, you gave up the pacifier. Just like that. One day, you were no longer interested and now you want nothing to do with it.

We are working more finger foods into your diet. You enjoy whole grain vegetable pasta pieces, sliced bananas, pizza crust and small bits of pizza. Fruit mixed with yogurt is your favorite food, though.

You are up to five teeth. Three new ones have come in on top; we are still waiting on the top right middle tooth. Today at lunch, you got a piece of freeze-dried strawberry stuck on your bottom teeth, which you found confusing and funny. I helped you get it free, but you kept rubbing your tongue against those teeth, trying to figure out what happened. After dinner every night, I brush your teeth. This makes you giggle, and you love to help brush.

You are so mobile now, cruising on furniture, walking while holding hands and balancing standing up all by yourself. You have started to play games. You love to crawl or run (cruising on furniture) away from Daddy and me, trying to get us to chase you, grab you & tickle you. This usually causes hysterical laughter, resulting in stumbling and falling with all of us in a big giggling pile on the floor. Daddy and you play a game when he gets home from work every day, which makes your whole body shake with glee. You chase him, screech in his face, he screeches back in your face, and this goes on and on until you're laughing so hard you've got the hiccups and can hardly breathe.

Every day, so many new things. I am soaking them up and cherishing them. Thank you for the constant laughter and discovery, and for keeping me on my toes.


house shopping

Mike and I have spent a little time looking at open houses. We have no idea yet whether we can even afford to do this right now, but we're getting an idea of what's out there so that we can make an informed decision. It's a buyers' market now, at least that's what they tell me, so we're going to see if we can maybe try to do it. See if maybe we can get Emmett a yard and a swing set. And if maybe we can get a few extra rooms so that family & friends can come and stay and gather and be comfortable. The sticker shock on houses where we're looking is kind of insane, though, so we have to do a lot of thinking on our own and talk to a mortgage broker and see where we end up.

We spent the afternoon today looking at houses while Emmett stayed home with his godparents. We were able to see about 7 houses, in various neighborhoods and price points. I do feel as if I have a better idea of what you get for your money, which is important. But mostly we both feel a little shell-shocked. The houses all start to run together and we have forgotten which house had that cute bathroom, which one had the weird shared driveway and which one had that dingy little student apartment in the basement.

House shopping is exhausting. Even when you're not serious about it yet (and may not be anytime soon) and you're just looking to see what's out there. Even when you're not dragging around the small child who wants to crawl everywhere and touch everything. It is draining and confusing and hectic and overwhelming.


Life is busy these days. I run a family now. I spend so much of my energy trying to keep us fed, in clean clothes, with clean floors to play on, and generally happy. It's the best kind of work, and it's very consuming.

I think about my brother less these days. But I don't think it's a bad thing. When I do think of him, it's good memories and stories. It's things I will always remember and it's stories I will tell Emmett one day.

It's less time spent with conscious thoughts of him, but deeper, richer memories. He's by my side when I'm consciously remembering, but maybe even more so when I'm not.

nine months

Dear Emmett,

We have been so busy traveling and having adventures this month, which turns out to be an excellent metaphor for your development at nine months. You are so, so busy. The difference is so drastic between eight and nine months. You were starting to move and explore at eight months, but now you are fast and you're unstoppable. You crawl - fast - and pop right back into sitting position to check out whatever's around you. Then you grab onto the nearest surface above your head so you can stand up and cruise around. Countless items in your reach have been relocated or destroyed. Everything in our apartment is slowly raising up out of your path.

Naptime is awful these days. I won the naptime battle after a day or two of hysterical crying followed by good naps. But then two days later you figured out how to sit up on your own, and how to stand up in the crib and that was it. We've had marathon sessions of you in your crib, in constant motion and with lots of whining and crying interspersed with playing, but no sleeping. I've given in and started rocking you to sleep at naptimes. I love this so much -- almost as much as I know I'm going to regret it later when I have to break that habit. But snuggling with your head burrowed into my neck while I rock you to sleep is such a great pleasure for me. The moments you spend curled up in my lap are so few and far between, so that is such a special treat.

Nighttime sleeping is still good, with the occasional very early wakeup, and infrequent screaming from dreams or teething where we have to soothe you back to sleep. Your top teeth are so close; I can feel them right there, and the gums over them are starting to get very thin. You've had some cranky days with the teething, but aside from that you are still such a happy baby and so adaptable.

You've had no choice but to be adaptable, really. In your ninth month, you have traveled to NH for a week on a lake, to VT for a family reunion weekend, to PA for cousin Alli's 2nd birthday party, and to CT with Latreash and Jay for a few days at Nana & Poppy's house, which is where we are as I write this. You are upstairs with Poppy, having your bottle and settling down for bed, while your playmates for the day are in the playroom watching TV and settling in for a night of hanging out and probably very little sleeping. Ian, Devon, Zachary and Jay have been entertaining you and having fun with you. And you love the attention of the big boys.

You started crawling before we went to PA for Alli's party, but you really took off trying to keep up with her. She loved playing with you and ordering you around. She was telling you what to do every minute and didn't quite get why you weren't following her every command. You copied her, though.

You copy everybody. It's so amazing how fast you pick things up. At 8 months, 1 week, you were sitting on the floor and held your hands out to me. I asked if you wanted to stand up, and grabbed your hands, You stood up and then you said, "up." We were so surprised, and weren't sure if you really said it, but then you told us "up" three more times that day. You now say it maybe once a day or so. No other new words yet, but I'm sure they are coming soon!

You give kisses by imitating with a little lip smacking sound. You cluck your tongue. You blow raspberries. You clap. You wave. You pick up blankets in front of your face and then whip them away with an enormous grin, playing peek-a-boo with me. Your favorite game is for me to throw a blanket over your head and say "Where's Emmett?" upon which you delightfully pull it off to show me where you are.

Your appetite is ferocious and you love almost everything, especially what comes off our plates. Bits of fruit, vegetables, meat, bread, anything. You love it all and you love to feed yourself. Pizza crusts are so good for chewing on that you scream in fury when they're taken away before you're finished.

I didn't expect the tantrum phase to start this early, but oh, wow, you hate to be told no. When I repeatedly tell you no to climbing up on the tv stand and knocking over the speakers, you get so mad your whole body shakes. You listen, though. You usually stop what you're doing but not without a little tantrum moment and an alligator tear just for good measure.

Those tears turn to grins and giggling so easily, though, and you can always turn around my tired, impatient mood with just one belly laugh. The hugs, kisses, curling up with a book, and silly moments are what really mark your nine month development. The joy you carry everywhere you go is contagious and healing.

With endless love and laughter, you make me a better person.


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