Girls' Closet Redo

Baby Girl #2 (or The Bean, as I'm calling her, as she doesn't have a name yet) is due to arrive in about 7 weeks, and I've been working hard to prepare for her arrival! Since her and C will be sharing a room, I knew the room needed some major reorganization. So far, I've made great progress, though there are still a few things that need to be addressed. The closet was by far the biggest issue, so I tackled that first.

Here's a "before" shot so you can see what I was working with.
 C insisted on being in the picture, haha. Here's a shot without her cuteness in the way:
 Yikes. Its hard to believe that last August I thought this closet was organized. Of course, it really was, compared to how it started out! I knew this closet needed to hold clothes for 2 kids, though, so it needed some major work. After wracking my brain for a while, I decided on a completely new closet system. I went to Lowe's last Friday and purchased a Homefree system, which had great reviews and seemed super simple to install. I anticipated being able to makeover this closet for around $100.

Well, of course, I spent well over $100 at Lowe's. I used a cool feature on their website to help me figure out which kit to buy, and how much "extra" stuff I'd need. I was pretty shocked at the register when my total was almost $180. But I had a feeling I had purchased too many "extras," and I knew they could easily be returned.

Last Saturday afternoon, me and C completely emptied out the closet. Again. Why am I always amazed at how much STUFF this little space holds?! I should have taken a picture of the room with everything in it, but that was scary.

Luckily, almost half of the clutter in there was immediately able to removed from the house completely. All those Rubbermaid containers and the space bags went out to the shop. Finally!

Once I got everything out of the way, I tackled removing that shelf. Pesky thing! Apparently, everything for mobile homes is way different than things for regular homes. (Our house is a double wide trailer.) I had a time getting that shelf out, and ultimately, my husband had to come inside and do it for me! Most of the problem was with the drill. I just had issues with it. Plus, I  kept having to climb up and down a step ladder to reach everything...not so good when you're heavily pregnant. Anyway, DH got it out in a jiffy, then went back outside to finish mowing the grass.

So I proceeded with the installation of the new closet system. I laid out all the pieces in the box...and immediately felt overwhelmed!
 The instructions were pretty clear, though, so I got right to work. Naturally, it wasn't quite as easy as I thought. Again, I had drill issues. And climbing up and down that dang ladder was killing my hip. I was getting so frustrated. At one point, C ran outside and told her daddy that he HAD to come in and help Mama cause she was struggling! lol

I eventually decided to give up. Maybe if I hadn't been 8 months pregnant this would have been easier for me. But it just wasn't happening.

DH was exhausted that evening from a very busy day, but I was insistent that this closet get installed before C's bedtime. I mean, her clothes were everywhere, and now I had nowhere to put them! He seemed to understand my urgency and frustration, though, and got to work on it. (Its so funny to me how pregnancy makes me get things on my mind and have to get them done RIGHT NOW!!)

The closet system is not quite as simple to install as the instructions make you think. You have to do a ton of measuring and planning in advance. The online tool I had used to help me create the optimal arrangement of shelving was WAY off, even though I used the measurements of the space. I realized after DH had installed the 2 vertical bars that this arrangement that I had come up with online would not be ideal for the space, after all. But at that point, we were both so tired and frustrated that I just let it go. I knew I could make it work.

Here's what we ended up with:
 Technically, I have 3 rods for hanging clothes now. However, the space between the top rod and the middle is not really enough to hang anything, not even newborn clothes. But if we put the middle rod down any further, it would become useless for hanging clothes. As it is now, at least we can use half of the top rod. The bottom shelf and rod are as low as they can possibly go. I wouldn't want them any lower, anyway, or C's clothes will hit the floor. I may eventually go back and make the top shelf and rod a little higher. I'll lose some of the storage space on that shelf, but I think I can live with that.
 I'm sure this space will continue to evolve over time. That is one good thing about this closet system, you can easily move the shelves around to suit your needs.

So here's how it looks now, after everything was put back in:
The top shelf is for stuff that we rarely use or won't use for a while. The middle shelf holds a few bags that we use quite often, and the shopping car cover (which I used a lot with C, so I'm sure it'll get used again soon with The Bean). On that top rod are C's winter/fall clothes that she'll be able to wear again this fall and winter. Most of her cool season clothes are in storage now, but there were a few things I think she'll be able to wear again. (We also have a ton of clothes for those seasons stored in the wardrobe. That is a project to tackle another time, though!)

On the middle rod I've hung newborn stuff. You can see that even though those outfits are tiny, they still take up every bit of that hanging space. Which means it won't be long before that rod won't be useful for the baby's clothes. Which means I'll have to adjust things in here. Looking at these pictures now, I'm thinking maybe get rid of the 2nd shelf altogether, and move the top shelf down a bit. That way, I'd have 2 full rods to use for hanging clothes, and plenty of space up top for storage.

On the right side of the middle shelf I have all C's bottoms: long pants, shorts, and skirts. I originally wanted to have a slide out drawer to hold all that stuff, but we just couldn't make it work in the space. I'd like to have a basket or something, but for now this is working just fine. Its been almost a week, and I haven't had any problems accessing her bottoms every morning when picking out her clothes for the day.

Finally, the bottom rod holds all of C's current clothes. Yes, she definitely has way too many! But this is ALL of her clothes. All of her tops are hung up, except for her PJs.

So far, I'm pretty happy with the system. Its very organized and is easy to use. C loves it, too.

Oh, for right now I've got that hanging shelf hanging on the inside of the closet door:
Its really nice to have that extra storage (its holding all of C's current and next season shoes, her dance clothes, and some baby blankets), but it gets in the way when I open the door. That might be because of my huge belly, though. I will probably eventually replace it with someone more compact that doesn't stick out quite as far, or have DH install it on one of the side walls of the closet.

DH is also going to build a few small shelves for the side walls. He'll have to custom build them, since we only have 8-9" of space to work with depth-wise, but it'll be great to have more storage. I'm really trying hard to make the most of this space!!

Since I moved all C's bottoms to the closet, I freed up one and 1/2 drawers in the dresser. I intend on using one drawer for onesies and bottoms for the baby. This weekend, I plan to tackle the dresser and completely redo it, though. I need more space for diapers once I add the newborn stuff to the mix. So I'll be back soon with an update on that!


Getting Toddlers To Eat Vegetables

I should probably start this post with a disclaimer. My toddler (who I guess won't be considered a toddler much longer, since she's 3 1/2....) doesn't eat most vegetables. She balks at anything new on her plate. And if someone else at the table mentions they don't care for any of the food, she immediately decides she hates it, too.

So why on earth am I writing a blog post about getting toddlers to eat vegetables, when I am not successful at that task myself? Well, I do have some ideas and they do work. Most of the time. Plus, I'd love to hear what others have to say on this subject.

When C was a baby and I started her on solids, I made sure to introduce her to a variety of things. I read a ton of stuff about feeding babies. "They" say its a good idea to offer babies a variety of foods so their palette will be well-rounded. You know, in hopes that once they become independent 3 year olds they will actually want to eat broccoli and green beans and butter beans.

Yeah, right.

C ate every vegetable that came from our garden, plus what I bought at the grocery store. She ate lots of fruits. The only thing I could never get her on board with was grains, but I was okay with that for a while. Once she was able to actually chew stuff up, we discovered that girl loves bread and crackers. (She's definitely my child. She'll eat my homemade bread like its goin out of style, and if I offer her a bagel for breakfast, she's all over it.) From the time she was 9 months to probably 13 months old, sweet potatoes and yellow squash were her absolute favorite vegetables. She didn't care much for anything green, but I could get her to eat some.

Fast forward to now. If this girl had her way, she'd survive solely on meat and bread. Getting her to eat vegetables is a challenge. Thankfully, there are some things she absolutely loves, like raw carrots and broccoli - as long as they're smothered with Ranch dressing (which I'm okay with). I've tried being sneaky and hiding veggies in dishes, but you can't fool C. She inspects every bite and if anything looks even the slightest bit off, she won't eat it. (She gets that from her daddy.) So being creative doesn't really work at our house.

Several months ago, she watched an episode of "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" that focused heavily on trying new foods. There was a cute song about how you should try new things cause they might be good. That Daniel has a lot of influence over my child. (Once, after a teeth-brushing episode, C insisted for several days on brushing her teeth multiple times a day.) So I used that episode to my advantage. For a while, it worked. I'd put a vegetable on her plate, she'd say "I don't like that," and I'd sing that little song and remind her what Daniel said. 9 times out of 10, once she tries something she likes it.

Naturally, that approach quit working after a while. I still try it, but she's too smart for that now, I guess. I don't often cook things that are truly new for us, but when C tries something new to her I make sure to praise her. And if she doesn't like it, I don't force her to eat it. Well, maybe I should take that back....haha, back to that in a minute.

Last week, I roasted some cauliflower. We've never had that before, and we were skeptical, but it was delicious. I mean, even my husband said it was really good. I asked C to try it and she refused at first, but eventually did give in and taste a tiny piece. She hated it. I didn't force her to try anymore, but I made sure to tell her how proud I was that she tried it. I'm trying to get in her mind how important it is to try new foods. I really want her to grow up and be able to eat a variety of things. Super picky people are SO annoying to cook for. (I mean, unless you have food allergies. That can't be helped.) And I refuse to get into the rut of being a short order cook. Meaning I cook a meal and then have to fix something special for her, like chicken nuggets or mac n' cheese.

Growing up, I had to eat whatever Mama fixed, whether I liked it or not. Unless we were sick, we didn't get anything extra or special prepared just for us (again, we had no food allergies). Of course, I hated that, and I have so many memories of sitting at the kitchen table for hours because I didn't want to eat my green beans. I hated green beans. And you know what? Mama made me eat them so many times, now they're one of my favorite vegetables. I keep telling C that story, though I know she doesn't understand fully yet. Taste buds change over time, and you really can learn to like things. Take water, for instance. My whole life, I absolutely hated the taste of plain water. I only drank soda or juice or milk. It wasn't until probably 10 years ago or so that I decided I really should drink more water. It wasn't easy, but eventually I trained myself to like it. Now its pretty much all I drink. (Speaking of water, that's one thing that worked out really well with C. Her main drink is water. She has apple juice or orange juice occasionally, and sometimes I'll let her have a Sprite at McDonald's or wherever, but for the most part she drinks water.)

Every night at supper, I fix C's little plate with everything that we've cooked. If its something I know she thinks she doesn't like, I'll only put one bite up there. She always eats the meat first, then any bread I offer. Then she tries to tell me she's full - "look how big my tummy is, Mama, its full!" Yeah, right. Cause 5 minutes later she'll be asking for a snack. After she's done eating, she likes to take a few swallows of her daddy's Dr. Pepper. The deal is, she has to at least try everything on her plate or she doesn't get any Dr. Pepper. Or if Daddy gets dessert afterwards, C can't have any unless she tries everything on her plate first. Maybe its wrong to bribe her like that, but it works. And there have been some nights when she left the table without eating what was on her plate, and with no Dr. Pepper, dessert, or anything else that night. (Not like she went to bed hungry. It was her choice, anyway.) My husband and I are in agreement over this, and we are both very firm about her eating. (Though, we're not like that ALL the time. On vacation or special occasions, we're much more lax about it.) I personally feel better if she eats at least a few bites of something healthy (a vegetable).

Last night, I cooked freshly dug potatoes and fresh corn on the cob. C ate the chicken, and part of the corn, but refused to touch the potatoes. I told her I wanted her to try one bite of potato before she could get down. She's got it in her head that she hates potatoes for some reason. I've offered them to her with different sauces, but she still refuses. And I've tried them cooked a variety of ways. The only way she'll readily eat a potato is when its a chip! Well, last night, I was cleaning up the dishes, P had gone to help a customer, and C was still sitting there pouting over her plate. She was being ugly about it, so I decided to be firm and told her she could NOT leave the table without taking one bite. One bite was all I asked. Well, after about 10 minutes of pouting and mumbling under her breath (God help us in her teenage years), she finally grudgingly put a tiny bite of potato into her mouth. She immediately said "mmm!" and proceeded to scoop up the rest of the potatoes on her plate into her mouth. She said they were delicious. I made sure to praise her and remind her that this is why we have to TRY things.

I keep hoping that if we are persistent, eventually we won't have to fight with her to eat good stuff. Hopefully. Please let that happen!

Other people think we're too hard on C about this eating thing. They say we should just give in and let her eat whatever she wants. But we disagree. We think its important to get her used to the idea NOW, while she's so young and impressionable, that eating a variety of foods is a good thing, and natural. My husband is super picky, and its so tough to please him in the kitchen. I don't want my kids to be like that. This may sound extreme, but seriously, life is so much easier if you're not such a picky eater!!

Now, I say I don't force C to eat things she doesn't like. Most of the time, that's true. There have been a few times, though, when I have made her eat things she clearly didn't like. Several weeks ago, one of us cooked a stir fry or something. It had chicken and a variety of veggies in it. C, of course, picked out all the chicken and said she was done, but I wanted her to eat some of the other stuff. She threw a fit about it, and I insisted she take 2 good bites before she could get down. Now, in the stir fry there were butter beans and garden peas, 2 vegetables that I hate. But I will eat them if they are cooked with other things. Its just too annoying to pick them out, and I know they're good for me. Well, C used to love both of those greens. I know taste buds change, but honestly, I'm not sure hers have had time to change yet, she's just being stubborn! Well, she ate her 2 bites of veggies, and she gagged the whole time. My husband was concerned but I just laughed it off. It was obvious she was being dramatic.

The next weekend, we were having lunch at my in-laws. My MIL had fixed corn and butter beans. C normally loves corn, but sometimes she refuses to eat it. That day she was just being disobedient in general, so I expected her to fight about the food. Now, normally, my in-laws don't force her to eat anything she doesn't want to. My MIL will even fix her something special if she doesn't like the meal. DH and I have told her time and again that we do NOT do that at home, and she shouldn't either. But you can't easily change other people. (My mother is the exact same way with C, so I'm not just harping on my in-laws here. My husband and I are the ONLY ones who expect her to eat well. Which, I'm sure, is why we have so many issues with it.) That day, I was determined she WAS going to eat a few bites of each veggie on her plate. She was the last one to finish eating, and I could tell that everyone was upset with me for forcing this issue, but I didn't back down. (And really, once you make a declaration with a toddler, you CANNOT back down.) She gagged and it was all she could do to swallow the beans, and everyone felt so sorry for her. It was a frustrating situation, but I don't regret making her eat the 2 bites I required. And afterwards, she was allowed to eat cake, so really, she came out the winner!

Sometimes I think I'm being too hard on my child when it comes to her eating habits. But then I think about all the times I've been insistent and she ended up discovering a food she loved. For example, last year I took her to Arby's for lunch. She always wants to get chicken nuggets in restaurants, but we try really hard to avoid that. I got her a roast beef sandwhich (she had tried mine before and liked it, but had never had her own). She immediately said she didn't like it and wanted chicken nuggets, but I insisted, and she took a bite and loved it. When we go out to eat, we'll order for her off the kids menu, but we almost never let her get chicken nuggets/strips. And sometimes we just let her eat off our plates. She really likes salads, and you never see salads on the kids menu!

I'm gonna keep on fighting the good fight here. Maybe one day I'll learn a method that will magically make my kid start eating more vegetables. Or maybe one day all my efforts will be rewarded and she'll just do it with no complaints!!



So I finally jumped on the wool train with cloth diapering. And I'm in love! Seriously, I can't believe I've been using cloth diapers for 3 years and I haven't tried wool before now. Its a whole new world, and its awesome.

I said in my last post that I purchased a Sustainablebabyish Knit Wool Cover from Sweetbottoms. It is absolutely adorable, for starters.

I love the color, and how soft it is. I've always had in my head that wool is stratchy and rough. But not these diaper covers. And the wool covers that I was given last month are not stratchy, either. Wool is also not hot like I thought. It allows a lot of air flow, so its perfect for diapering.

It does have to be taken care of specially, though. That's the only downfall to using wool. It has to be washed by hand using special wash and lanolin. The good news is you should typically only have to wash a wool cover every 2-3 weeks, depending on how soiled it gets. Wool is self-cleaning, which is awesome. I washed and lanolized C's and she wore it every night for about 2.5 weeks before I felt the need to wash it again. And honestly, I probably could have been fine letting it go another several days. It didn't stink at ALL after all that time.

Washing and lanolizing is a super easy process, and its not really all that time consuming. The drying time is the worst. This cover took over 4 days to dry! I just washed it again this weekend, so we'll see how long it takes this time to dry. I squeezed more water out this time, so hopefully that will make a difference. I'm just scared to be too rough with my wool. I'm sure its more durable than I think, though!

I purchased Eucalan No Rinse Wool Wash in unscented, and Sheepish Grins Solid Lanolin.
So far, I've been pleased with both products, though I might try liquid lanolin next time just to cut down on the mess. I only took one picture of my washing/lanolizing process, because its really not that interesting to see. I just got a big bowl, filled it with lukewarm water and a splash of the wool wash, then swirled the wool covers around in there (the first time, I washed my new cover and one for my friend to try).
The wool wash made a few suds, but nothing crazy. It sat just like this for about 15 minutes, then I dumped that water out. You don't have to rinse, but I didn't feel right not rinsing, so I did run some clean water in there and gently swish the covers around before dumping that out, but that's it.

Next, I added about a teaspoon of the lanolin, a tiny amount of the wool wash, and some water to a mug and microwaved it. I just put it on the "beverage" selection, which is about a minute and 30 seconds, I think. That just gets the lanolin dissolved, and the wash gives it something to bind to. I filled my red bowl back up with lukewarm water and then added the mug full of lanolin. Then I let that sit overnight.

The next day, I gently squeezed the water out of the covers and then rolled them in a towel to get out more water. Then I just placed them on a towel on top of my drying rack (so they'd lay flat) and let them dry. I did rotate them every half day or so, just so they'd dry faster.

I think I used way too much lanolin the first time, since when the covers were dry they were still tacky and had obvious spots of lanolin still on them. After research, I discovered that this is not a big deal at all, so I left it alone. This weekend, I washed my green cover again and used less lanolin with better effects, though time will tell how long it takes to dry this time!

After one night of using the wool cover on C, I was hooked. When I put her on the changing table to take it off her, the smell did not make me hold my breath. There was NO smell at all, in fact! (Obviously, the diaper underneath still smelled pretty bad, but at least I didn't get a wiff until the wool was off, haha!) Like I said, C slept with this wool cover every night for over 2 weeks, and I never once smelled her diaper, and she never had any leaks at all. She loves the cover and it seems to be comfortable enough for her. Its too bulky to put pajama bottoms on top of the cover, but so far she hasn't minded. On cool nights, I just put on a pair of knee-high socks and she's been totally fine. I think if she's still in diapers this winter I'll invest in a pair of longies, just so her legs are covered, too. The Bean will most likely end up with longies, too. ( ;

And look how cute C is in her wool cover!
Can't beat that with a stick. Its adorable AND it really WORKS. I love it!

Obviously, more than one wool cover is a necessity, unless I want to go back to stinky diapers (and occasional leaks) in the morning. I wanted to try a different type, preferably something cheaper than the Sustainablebabyish one, though I was hesitant since just like with everything else, you get what you pay for with wool. I found an Etsy shop that sells wool covers made from sweaters, which I thought was pretty cool. I think I paid $19 after shipping for it. I have yet to take a picture of it, but its a slightly different style than the green one. This one is a large, as well, but its very snug on C. I'm not sure if it'll stretch any, but right now it'll only fit over a prefold and cover, not one of her bulkier pocket diapers. Though, she's worn this new cover for the past 2 nights and its been great so far. Still no smell, and no leaks, even though she's just in a prefold.

Next, I want to raid the local Goodwill and see if I can find any cute wool sweaters, cause I want to try to make my own covers! For some reason, being pregnant has made me very pro-DIY this time around. I have insane urges to sew things, and I don't even have a sewing machine or know how to operate one! lol. I really want to try a wool cover, though, and if I can find a cheap sweater in good condition, you better believe I'll be cuttin that baby up to try it! ( :

Newborn Fitteds

Apparently, these days I can only post once a month. And apparently, the only thing I can talk about is cloth diapers. Oh well. ( :

I just realized I never did an update on the Sweetbottoms event last month. It was so fun! I mean, if you're obsessed with cloth diapers, that is...haha. Actually, my friend that went with me doesn't even use cloth diapers and she had a great time, too. Sweetbottoms seriously has something for everyone. Well, if you like more of a "natural" take on baby things, anyway...

The store was actually not crowded at all, which surprised us. The weather wasn't that great, though, so maybe that had something to do with it. My friend and I stayed a couple of hours, I think. We had so many questions! I brought one of the fitteds I was given to figure out what size it is. Bummer, its definitely not newborn size. I'm thinking more 3-6 month range on those fitteds, but I guess time will tell. (Once I realized they weren't newborn size, I forgot to look at other fitteds to see what they matched up with!)

I spoke with one of the sales ladies there about the newborn rental program, and she led me to the sale rack, where they had bags of newborn fitteds on an awesome sale. 6 for $25, I think it was! And that night, everything was an additional 10-15% off (its been so long now that I can't remember exact figures). I couldn't pass that deal up. Buying them like that was cheaper than the rental program, and they are mine to keep now. I only bought 12. After much deliberation, I decided that if nothing else I'd have at least enough for one day with this baby. But hopefully, the prefolds that I have will work fine with her. Depending on how big she is at birth, my prefolds may be pretty bulky in the beginning, but I really think I can make it work. I may end up purchasing more newborn fitteds, though, who knows!

My newborn fitteds. They are so tiny!
I mean, seriously?! I don't remember C ever being that tiny, but I guess she was. Its hard to believe in just a few weeks I'll have another baby small enough to fit in these....
These are used, of course - since they were on such a great sale. But they look brand new. And I think they run around $14-15 each new, so 6 for $25 is a steal (that's just over $4 each, not counting the discount I got).
They all look like this on the inside. No staining at all. All the snaps are in perfect condition. Whoever used these before me didn't use them much! Each one came with an insert, but the insert doesn't snap in or anything. I asked about that, and the sales lady said I probably wouldn't even use the insert, except for maybe at night if I was able to go longer between diaper changes. Sounds good to me.
On the left is one of the fitteds I was given. Clearly, it is not a newborn size! I was shocked at the size difference.

I didn't buy any covers that night. It took me so long to decide on the fitteds and some other things that I just didn't have time to think about covers. Plus, I was spending too much money...haha. So covers are definitely something I need to be purchasing in the next 11 weeks....yikes, do I really only have 11 weeks of this pregnancy left?!?!

While we were at Sweetbottoms, I asked about wool covers. I've mentioned a few times that I've been wanting to try them for C, since her diapers are so stinky in the mornings. (And it doesn't look like she'll be ready to wear panties to bed any time soon - which is fine.) Well, I had done lots of research beforehand, and knew I wanted to look at the Sustainablebabyish Knit Wool Covers. They were so soft! After seeing the large in person, I knew it would fit C just fine, so I ended up bringing one home. Of course, that decision lead to a long discussion on wool care and some more purchases, but that's for another post! My friend jumped on the wool train, too, even though she uses disposables on her baby. She said sometimes her son's diaper leaks at night. She's not interested in going the cloth route, but she was interested in trying a wool cover. I think she ended up with a pair of wool longies (which I would love to have!). I also gave her one of my wool covers (that was given to me, but are not newborn size) to try, though I haven't heard if she's tried any of them yet. But apparently, lots of people use wool covers over disposables at night to help with any leak issues. Pretty cool.

Another purchase I made that night was a roll of 6 fleece liners. I've been wanting to try them, as they're supposed to help with the stay-dry feeling. Some of my homemade wipes are made from a fleece-like blanket, and I've used those before as a barrier if I had to use non-cloth-safe diaper cream on C. It worked really well, and her hiney was dry when I took the diaper off, which I loved. But I wanted to have some liners just to try them out.
They are super soft and nice quality. But, honestly, I can't tell any difference when I use them on C. I still throw them on top of her diapers sometimes just because I figure it feels nice on her skin but I can't tell they're keeping her any drier. I'll try them on The Bean before I make a final judgement. They were pretty cheap, though ($6 for 6), so I didn't exactly break the bank to try them. Supposedly, poop slides right off fleece liners, so that might be nice with The Bean!

I have yet to wash the newborn fitteds I bought, but that will be happening soon as I am slowly preparing for this baby. So far, I have one newborn diaper cover, and obviously I need at least 4-5 more. I have a small stash of Best Bottom diapers, and people say they get down to newborn size, but it sure doesn't look like it to me! Though I'm wondering if once I put on a bulky prefold if one of those BB covers would work just fine...there's so much experimentation I need to do for newborn cloth diapering! Too bad I don't know anyone with a newborn for me to practice on. ( ; I'll just have to wait and do some trail and error when The Bean makes her arrival!