Saturday Outside

I had been having a rather stressful day or two, so we decided to disconnect and take the kids out for a picnic yesterday afternoon. We packed peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for the kids and roast beef subs for Chris and I. We brought along the cupcakes that Cadence and I had made the night before along with some goldfish, strawberries, white cheddar popcorn and vitamin waters.

Liam chilled in his car seat while everyone ate. He seemed a tad disappointed that he wouldn't be sampling any of the tasty cupcakes.

After lunch, we let the kids play on the playground. We are very fortunate to have such an amazing park only a few miles from the house.

We were very happy to be joined by our friends Emily, Ryan and Mya. Miss Mya did a wonderful job of keeping up with the big kids on the playground.

William spent the majority of the afternoon curled up in his sling. This was my view for most of the day. I love this view.

After a day at the park we went home and set the fire pit up in the back yard. We cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmallows before sending the kids off to bed.

Family Pictures

Last Sunday we had our first family pictures taken since William was born. My very good friend Anna Goad owns Reflections Photography and is an amazing photographer. We spent a rather windy hour or so with Anna at Greer City Park and then went back to our house for a few additional pictures. I love how they turned out!

Here is a peak at the pictures that Anna took:

Awesome Deals

I didn't make it to this weekend's consignment sale. Partially because I spent a good deal of my consignment sale budget on new clothes for the kids. I know... That wasn't a very "crunchy" thing to do, but darn did I ever get a good deal!

The Children's Place put a lot of their clothes on sale for as low as $2.99 each. Add to that, their standard 20% off coupon code (which can be found on almost any coupon site) and the clothes were $2.39 each! I bought 2 pairs of pants, 2 sweaters and 4 shirts for $28.96 including $1.64 tax and $5.00 shipping. Of course I had to add up the retail price of the items I bought *drum roll*..... $92.00 and that didn't include tax or shipping. I feel like a shopping ninja!!

My second awesome find was much smaller and perhaps something you can get in on as well. This evening I had to run to CVS for some pacifiers for Liam. While I was leaving I passed the Coca Cola display. They were on sale 3 for $10. Not too shabby. However on top of the display was cardboard stand that had a pad of coupons attached to it for $1.50 off of a 12 pack of Diet Coke or Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. Don't mind if I do. I bought a pack of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke for $1.84. Woot!!!! That's $0.15 per can!!!! I went to the CVS on Batesville Road; however, I assume that other CVS stores have this going on as well.

Our Second Anniversary

"Every long lost dream led me to where you are. Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars pointing me on my way into your loving arms. This much I know is true: that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you." ~Rascal Flatts

We had those lyrics printed on the back of the bulletin on our wedding day on February 14, 2009. Chris isn't a country fan, but even he couldn't deny that Rascal Flatts nailed it when it came to describing the journey we each traveled before finding each other.

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the day we became the Hall-Smith family. Chris is the most amazing person I have ever known and he is the best thing that has ever happened to Cadence, Gabriel and I. What started as an innocent message about soccer on Myspace, eventually grew into a friendship and then transformed into the greatest love I have ever known.

He is our rock. He is my voice of reason and my constant supporter. He is an amazing father and person. I don't know what I ever did without him.

I've thought about our wedding a lot today. My favorite part was the vow he made to Cadence and Gabriel:

"Cadence and Gabriel, I give you these rings as a symbol of our unity as a family. I promise to be a patient and loving father to you, caring for you and providing for you as my own. I promise to be your strength and emotional support loving you with all my heart forever."

What kind of guy does that!?! Honestly, I didn't think such a man existed. I was wrong and I thank God every day for that.

For our anniversary, I decided I wanted to do something special. I took the day off of work and cooked him dinner. The kids spent the evening with Jon and Christy.

I set the table and placed a calla lily arrangement and two candles in the center. Calla lilies were the flowers that we had at our wedding (although our wedding day flowers were white) and the candles represented each year that we have been married.

I gave Chris a home brew starter kit so he can begin brewing his own beer. He's talked about doing it for years and he seems really excited about it.

I made coconut shrimp with orange marmalade dipping sauce and stuffed mushrooms as appetizers.

Dinner consisted of a mixed greens salad with walnuts, raisins, blueberries, apples and raspberry vinaigrette, fillet mignon topped with lobster tail meat, goat cheese mashed potatoes and sauteed asparagus.

For dessert we had miniature dark chocolate covered cheesecakes with dark chocolate covered strawberries and whipped cream. Also, Christy made us some delicious white chocolate covered strawberries as well.

We had a wonderful evening! :)

Daddy/Daughter Dinner, Cakes and a Surprise!

Last night Chris took Cadence to Chick-fil-a for a Valentine's daddy/daughter dinner. Cadence dressed up in a beautiful dress from Limited Too that I found at a consignment shop for $6.00 and Chris gave her a corsage of pink miniature roses to wear. They dined on chicken nuggets and waffle fries and were waited on by servers wearing tuxes. They had a wonderful time!

While Chris and Cadence were out, Gabriel and I worked on some cakes that I was making for two of my co-workers. We finished them up this afternoon.

We went out to lunch and when we returned we saw our neighbor Ms. Barbara outside. We walked over to say "hello" and to let her see Liam when she said that she had something for us. She went inside and brought out Burberry Teddy Bears for Cadence and Gabriel and cologne and perfume for Chris and I. She also gave us several pretty Burberry trays.

Tomorrow afternoon we are having our family pictures done in Greer Park. I can't wait!!!

The Baby Powder Bomb and Our Upcoming Weekend

Yesterday Gabriel was running a fever so today he is spending the day at Chris's parents house. He is very excited to be having some one-on-one Grandma and Big Jake time.

Last night Cadence and I put together almost sixty valentine's for Cadence, Gabriel and even Liam's classes. After that I sent her upstairs to get ready for bed while I cleaned the kitchen. She came down a few minutes later smelling very strongly of baby powder. I hesitantly followed her upstairs. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something on her bathroom floor. Baby powder. Upon closer investigation, it was also on the bathroom door, sink, toilet and shower curtain. Shower curtain!?! I asked what happened. She said she dropped the bottle of baby powder. My follow-up questions: 1. Why were you holding the baby powder? and 2. Where is the land mine on which you dropped the baby powder? I left her upstairs with a broom and a wet rag and told her she could go to bed after she cleaned the bathroom. I thought kids grew out of this stuff!!

In other news, we have a very busy weekend planned. Tonight Chris is taking Cadence to a father/daughter dinner at Chick-fil-a for Valentine's Day. They are going to have waiters in tuxes, flowers for the girls and a sundae bar. They might even catch a movie after. I will be home with the boys working on some cakes. I'm very excited about the cakes that I'm making and will post pictures later. Chris is working on Saturday so I'll be home with the kiddos finishing up the cakes. On Sunday we *might* be keeping nursery at church and then we are doing family pictures with Anna. We do not have any pictures with all five of us so we are very excited!

We hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Why and How We Cloth Diaper

Every three days or so my laundry room looks a lot like this:

Why, you ask? Because today is diaper day. Before Liam was born we made the decision to cloth diaper. We love the idea that there won't be a huge pile of diapers in a landfill for hundreds of years with Liam's name on them; however, that isn't the reason that we are doing it. We are doing it because we are cheap, or as I prefer to call it, frugal. :)

Here is the math:

I used disposable diapers and wipes on Cadence for three and a half years at a cost of approximately $20.00 per week. That comes out to $3,640.00.

I used pull-ups on Cadence every night for another three years at a cost of approximately $10.00 per week. That comes out to $1,560.00

Gabriel skipped the pull-ups at night but also wore diapers for three and a half years at a cost of approximately $20.00 per week. That comes out to $3,640.00

Grand total of using disposable diapers on two kids from infancy through potty training age = $8,840.00

I did not want to repeat that with Liam. I bought a lot of his stuff on sale and traded some of my pocket diapers for more Best Bottoms, but here's the approximate math that it would take to replicate what I have purchased for him:

12 Best Bottom diapers at $16.95 each comes to $203.40

24 small inserts, 10 medium inserts and 36 large inserts at $276.50

Wet/dry bags, wipes and diaper sprayer cost approximately $86.00

One dozen Chinese prefold diapers is $18.00

An average $8.00 per month increased water bill for three and a half years comes to $336.00

Detergent for three and a half years costs approximately $252.00

Grand total for using cloth diapers = $1,171.90

That is a savings of 77% over the cost of using disposable diapers on Cadence and 53% over the cost of using disposable diapers on Gabriel.

Now you know why we do it so let me show you how we do it.

If you ask ten people how to cloth diaper a baby, you will receive ten different answers. Here is my answer:

This is a diaper. It is a far cry from the cloth diapers that our parents put us in, isn't it? There are no pins or rubber pants. Just a diaper with a whole bunch of snaps. The snaps determine the size of the diaper. This particular brand fits a baby from 7lbs to 35lbs depending on how the snaps are set.

Here is an opened diaper shell. The lining of the diaper is made of PUL (polyurethane laminate) fabric. It is waterproof and can be wiped clean.

The insert is the absorbant part of the diaper and is snapped into the diaper shell. It is now ready to go on the baby.

If the baby pees the insert is removed, the liner is wiped down with a cloth wipe and a new insert is placed in the diaper. If the baby poops and the poop makes its way off of the liner and onto the shell the whole diaper is removed and a new diaper shell and liner is put on the baby.

Cloth wipes are much easier to use than disposable wipes. This is because you just toss the wipe into the laundry paid with the dirty diaper. If you were to use disposable wipes, you'd need a trash can along with your diaper paid. Here are our wipes. We have 27 of them. The are made of flannel and are stitched around the edges to prevent fraying. I fold them so that they pop out of an old Pampers wipe case that I used with Gabriel.

Here is our diaper pail. It is a household trash can. We put a reusable diaper pail liner in the can (not pictured as it was being washed at the time). When it is time to do laundry we lift the bag out and dump its contents into the washing machine. Then we toss the bag in too. There is no need to ever touch the dirty diapers.

The diapers do a cold soak and pre-wash. The detergent is then added and they are washed on hot with a double rinse on cold (this is the cause of the slight increase in our water bill). We only use about a tablespoon of detergent during each wash so the detergent goes a long way. Once a month or so we do a special treatment to take care of any stains and to freshen them up.

Breastfed diapers do not require any spraying prior to tossing them in the wash; however, once Liam starts eating homemade baby food his diapers will get pretty gross. Prior to tossing them in the laundry, the poopy ones can be sprayed down with a diaper sprayer. It hooks into the water line to the toilet and hangs on the side of the toilet ready for use.

That is why and how we cloth diaper in a nutshell. William hasn't worn a disposable diaper since he was a week old (yes, we do cloth when we are out too). He has never had diaper rash and has had no more leaks than my other two did in disposables. We love it!