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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

title-family-holiday-books

We’re a family that likes to read. (Well, our one-year-old is juuust getting interested in books, but we’ve read to her brother since he was two weeks old, so it’s old hat to him. I’m a librarian but I give all the credit to my husband – he’s the one who reads most of the time.) In particular, we like to rotate our favorite book titles around through the year. My husband and I get just as excited as our son when a new season or holiday is around the corner to share some new stories.

While the old familiar classics are awesome favorites – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, the Grinch, The Polar Express – we’ve got a new list developing with some more modern tales.

So, just in case you’d like to try something new with your family, I’m sharing a handful of fun, fresh story ideas, just in time for the holidays.

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Here Comes Santa Cat – A cat who doesn’t speak (and has a slightly negative attitude)? How does THAT make a special holiday story? Trust me. Not only is it hilarious, it’s touching. An instant fave.

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas – If you have a fan of princesses and sparkles in your house, this book is perfect.

Dream Snow – Be sure to get the one with audio on the back page – it’s downright magical! That’s all I’m saying. 😉

Curious George: Christmas Countdown – George counts down the days to the big event, just like many of our little ones do!

Lil Rabbit’s Kwanzaa – A cute, fun way to introduce this special holiday to any child.

Olivia Helps with Christmas – Olivia is like many kids these days – she knows her mind and does things in her own, outgoing way. See how this works out when she helps with Christmas festivities.

Snowmen at Christmas – Along with its popular partner title, Snowmen at Night, it poses the question, “What do snowmen do when our backs are turned?” This time, throw Christmas in the mix and it’s a fun story any kid will love.

Olive the Other Reindeer – I actually just had a teacher use this book for a cute compare/contrast. Pet dog Olive hears the beloved song and decides she simply MUST be a reindeer, much to the surprise of Santa. Absolutely adorable.

A Couple for the Older Kids and Adults – I couldn’t leave these ones out. The first became a family favorite years ago when we stumbled upon it and had a read aloud at a Christmas party. The second, well, I used to read this at my last school and while it’s super verbose (read: lots of big words) and goes over the head of even the wisest 6th grader, the last page always has them scratching their heads and shouting, “Wait a minute!! Is this real?!” Judge for yourselves!

How Murray Saved Christmas – A hilarious story (with equally humorous illustrations) about a guy who doesn’t get the whole Santa gift giving thing (presumably because he’s Jewish) who is forced to take over for the big guy after an elf-induced accident. Written by an award-winning writer for The Simpsons.

Red Ranger Came Calling – At points, you want to give the kid in this story a good long time out. At others, you realize what a lonely life he must have and are thisclose to feeling badly for him. Regardless, watching his redemption by telling a white lie (yes, you read that correctly) mimics an older child’s attempts at grasping at the last straws of belief and Christmas spirit.

What’s your family’s favorite holiday book? We’d love to read your faves with our families.

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Hey, all! My family and I are in the throes of a big move (the only we’ve ever undertaken with kids and cats in tow) and, boy, do I give credit to all you military families and otherwise multiple-move families out there. My husband and I have said in a sing-song, we’re going crazy time, “this stinks!!!” (but in less G-rated terms) several times over the last weekend.

I thought it’d be helpful to share some of the tips we’ve heard and some that we’ve stumbled over ourselves for anyone who may be dealing with a similar blessing (because, for all the annoyances of a move, it’s usually due to a happy circumstance…at least, it is for us). There are even a couple of Thirsties product shout-outs that made our packing all the easier.

Ask for help. Friends, family, co-workers – whomever you have to bug, don’t be shy to ask for moving help. It’s kind of like wedding invitations; assume that 5-10% won’t be available (sometimes more). We were lucky because we had a bunch available for our first load (yeah…we have too much stuff) and a second group who were able to come in to relieve the tired first round of guys (and remember that women are just as able-bodied to help move, too).

Oh, and that doesn’t count those extra family and friends who’ve helped paint, fix, pack/unpack, organize. Every bit of time given takes so much off your shoulders, seriously.

Make it easier on the kids. For some children, it’s tough to see all their belongings packed away and to realize they’ll end up at the new house. Plus, leaving an old house can bring up terrible sadness (heck, it did for my husband and I).

So, try to be gentle and understanding when your child shows an issue with the transition (sometimes with tears, sometimes with acting out). Have them help pack a box or two of their own and help label it (younger kids can put some stickers on the box that they can look for at the new house), put aside a few of their beloved toys to have at the ready to provide some consistency and comfort, and spend time amidst the chaos to play or spend time with them.

And for their sake and yours, on moving day, have a trusted relative or friend watch them at a neutral locale. My mother in law provided normalcy because they’re used to being with her and have their own beds/toys/rooms to nap and play in. It was perfect; they missed all the chaos.

Use whatchya got. Packing is a weird beast. Anything that makes things a little more contained helps. So, I actually used a couple of my favorite Thirsties products to help get my act together. (And I need all the help I can get, ha!)

First, for all those little things – baby socks, little girl hair accessories, ahem MY hair accessories, etc – I used some of my clean Thirsties wet bags. It actually made me smile to unpack them because, well, I love my prints, but also because they were some of the few items I could actually easily put my hands on. Win!

Secondly, my diaper pal liner was PERFECT for packing those things you don’t want to get dirty if they, say, fall on the way to the truck. I fit in a ton of our blankets in mine, but you could use it for towels, pillows…even the dirty laundry (no judging here!).

Make room for comfort. Yes, it’s important to get the priorities out of the way (for us that involved refrigerated food and getting the kids’ beds set up), but with all the stress and overwhelm of seeing EVERYTHING YOU OWN packed up and dumped in another location, be kind to yourself.

This meant, for us, getting our cable set up and listening to Christmas music while painting/prepping and now as we unpack. It could also mean setting up a reading book with your favorite armchair or setting up your office.

Ours will also entail watching one of our favorite old movies and eating homemade popcorn…even if we’re still surrounded by boxes.

Remember most things can be changed. Ugh. Decision making isn’t my favorite thing ever in the first place, but when I’ve got 10 guys asking where to put things or figuring out paint colors or where to put everything in your kitchen, it’s easy to get paralyzed.

But it shouldn’t be. I finally realized every time I had a question tossed in my direction that I needed to ask myself whether it was permanent or not. Even beyond that would be, “is it something that one person can change on their own?” While we had the “muscle” available, certain larger things were placed where we wanted them, but everything else could be adjusted.

Whew. What a relief.

Find the humor. As crazy as things get (and sometimes helpful personalities clash in how they’d do something), humor happens. Revel in it.

Isn’t that a motto for parenthood, too?

We’d love to hear your own favorite moving tips, big or small, too!

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title-family-holiday-responses


Family get-togethers can be awkward. Relationships that have evolved from childhood can have weird dynamics. People say things they wouldn’t normally say to a friend, colleague, or stranger right off the street. The differences between family members show clear rifts.

Then, the dreaded topic is brought up.

That’s right. Cloth diapers. (Why? What did you think I was going to say? ;-))

Obviously, people are dealing with some high emotions this year more than any other as the holiday season enters the radar. I thought I’d share some humorous and/or downright blunt talking points to use when a family member judges your choice to cloth diaper. They’re meant in all kindness and with humor – since we know that many families and friends are very supportive of cloth diapering – but may give you a good chuckle to consider using any for any of those eyebrow-raising aunts who’ve argued with you over your choice to cloth diaper.

The trick? USE HUMOR TO DEFLECT…AND JUST A TOUCH OF SNARK:

“You mean they make ones you can THROW OUT these days?! Mind. Blown.”

“Thanks for your thoughts. It’s so neat that my child’s excrement makes for such interesting dinner conversation!”

(To aunts/uncles/parents/grandparents, after listening to all their thoughts.) “Thank you so much for your advice. Now, what did your parents use to diaper you?”

“You think this is crazy? You should see our co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, babywearing house! Cloth diapers are no big. Now, have you tried my my homemade kimchi?”

“Between you and me, they’re really more for me than for the baby. I’m addicted to the adorable styles!” (Hey. Sometimes brutal honesty is a unifier!)

“I appreciate your thoughts on the diapers, but we appreciate them for their cost savings/eco-friendliness/cuteness…” (Fill in the blank with your favorite, honest to goodness cloth diapering reasoning.)

(To someone who’s already a parent who brings up the “poop issue.”) “Wait…don’t all parents have to deal with poop regardless of the diaper they choose? Or is your Johnny’s poop somehow less gross? This is fascinating…”


And only to be used when encountering an extreme staunch cloth diaper detractor and you’re experiencing a “break glass in case of emergency” moment:

“So…who’d everyone vote for?”

(Just kidding. That’s never acceptable.)

 

Hopefully you won’t have to use any of these (but if you do, be sure to say it with a smile) and that your holidays are fun, low-key, and completely devoid of all those keep-it-to-yourself awkward (or downright infuriating) topics!

We’d love to hear your best comeback to anyone who has questioned your cloth diapers! Share your favorite for others who truly understand your pain.

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title-birthday-tips


With one child, you immediately see how quickly the passage of time happens. You can’t believe that, in what feels like a mere second, your little immobile, helpless bundle of softness turns into your favorite, funniest, wisest, silliest real-life person. I’m still blown away with the level of awareness that a 4-year-old can possess at times while maintaining a pure innocence that I protect and cherish at all costs.

After your second (or third or…) child, however, this passage of time is magnified tenfold. You don’t have the time to contemplate all the changes as they’re happening. By the time you appreciate the rolling over your little one has mastered, she’s cruising along the coffee table. Before you know it, she’s pushing away pouches in favor of REAL food when you can remember that she – recently – stuck her nose up at baby-led weaning. You see your kids interacting and snuggling and sharing toys without being told to and in those brief moments, amid your exhaustion and frantic pace-keeping, your heart simply couldn’t be more full.

This is my current state of existence in motherhood. Our little daughter, Harper, is officially a year old this past weekend.

That’s the sound of my mind exploding.

So, I thought I’d share exactly how we go about planning a simple birthday party that will be just as special and fun as her brother’s first (y’know, when I had more time to, like, make everything – including decorations – from scratch) while still juggling life. Because in the middle of these kids growing up, we’re also closing on a house this week, trying to get ahead of the holidays (since life will = moving boxes for quite some time), and work and life in general don’t slow down for anything.

Here are my best tips after doing this rodeo a few times now:

Pick a theme. Believe me. A theme is your bestie. I get the eye roll sometimes for picking a theme, and I understand why. A theme makes it seem like you’re going overboard. But, actually, a theme helps me to mentally organize and NOT let things get out of control.

For example, for Harper’s first, we’re doing A Very Hungry Caterpillar shindig. This gives me a super clear direction for the food (everything except the pizza is listed off on every page! Not that we’re doing ALL that food, but it helps), a color scheme, and invitations.

Keep it simple. After picking a theme, brainstorm some ideas that go along with it. Then, pick your favorite, say, two or maaaaaybe three.

In our case, I’m printing off a few small signs out of cardstock that will go with the food (On Monday, he ate one apple…), creating a simple green and red caterpillar to hang on the wall, and giving the handful of kids that will be there goodie bags with a wind-up green caterpillar, crayons, and maybe some candy. Super simple.

Use colors more than trademarked stuff. Have you ever noticed how expensive all the character party stuff is?! It’s crazy town. And the worst part is that when you’re done with it, it’s hard to reuse (unless you keep a stash of mismatched stuff for pizza nights…which is a great idea).

For our theme, we’re using two tones of green (a lighter and a darker) along with red. I got one tablecloth for a super long table that’ll be green, some red plates that were leftover from my son’s Dr. Seuss birthday (you can tell I’m a librarian)…you get the idea. We’ve reused some of our decorations for years, from handmade poufs to a cheap chalkboard sign, because they’re generic enough to work in many ways. Oh, and we skip the balloons and request that our guests do so, as well – they’re horrible for the planet.

Accept help when offered. This year, I’ve been lucky enough to have my mother, mother-in-law, sister, and brother/sister-in-law all offer to bring something. It’s crazy how helpful that is. I used to get a little, um, controlling about things (I’ll admit it) but I’ve learned to go with the flow. I still made her smash cake and did some ordering of the pizzas and some cupcakes (see? I used to make EVERYTHING – organic and “real food” – myself…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Her smash cake is organic, at least. ;-)) and little odds and ends, but it’s such a strain off my mind to have it equally disbursed.  

So, make a list of your menu and divvy it up. Even if you only have one family member or friend offer to help, it’s still a little less you have to do. Or if you have a crafty friend, go ahead and ask if they can hook you up with some simple decorations.

Let the kids be kids. I’ve learned that maybe one or two really simple activities are all kids need and the rest can be left up to them. Whether it’s a game you already own that fits the theme or just a quick print-off of a coloring sheet, that’s really all you need. Kids are great at making their own fun, so don’t overthink it too much.

Whatever it takes to make it a special, memorable, but low-stress event, great!

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What tips do you guys have to add that make your family’s birthday parties easier?

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Don’t get me wrong. I love all of the fabulous colors and prints that Thirsties has given the world. Alice Brights? The Woodland Collection? The Ocean Collection? The modern watercolor perfection that is Cactus Garden and Melon Party? All amazing.


But, without any requests to say this from the powers that be, I’m particularly psyched about this new fare.
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If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out a recent post about the Outdoor Adventure Collection. It does a great job of laying out the prints, colors, and style availability, in case you haven’t seen already.


Maybe it’s the connection to camping – which everyone at Thirsties seems to be passionate about. (Personally, I live in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Needless to say, these prints remind me of summer and my favorite smell EVER – a campfire.)

Maybe it’s the fact that the prints are so incredibly unique yet cohesive in their use of corresponding colors. And, speaking of colors, hooray for Midnight Blue! Navy is one of my favorite fashion colors (like, for my own wardrobe), so of course it’s a go-to for my daughter, too. I like to think of it as a “moody neutral” – it goes with everything but without being “blah.” So, needless to say, I was equally impressed with Midnight Blue as I was the fun prints.

Speaking of prints, what do I love about them?

Well, Happy Camper is pure whimsy. The doodled style is casual and fun. I’m all about all things old school, so I love timelessness of the vintage camper, canoe, campfire, and picnic table. Plus, details like the banner of triangle pennants make this my #1 fave.

Adventure Trail is more stylized and nature-informed. Our family is full of animal lovers, so these bears, hedgehogs(!), and raccoons mixed with clover, trees, canoes, and wandering man’s bag, speaks to us. You can just picture all the scenery and experiences this solo adventurer must be having, y’know?

Mountain Bike is the most geometric of the bunch, but totally keeping with the theme. It literally give the sense of upward motion, sending the wearer to the top of a mountain along with the birds and clouds. So. Fun.

Speaking of fun, Birdie is cheerful and intricate without taking itself too seriously. That adorable yellow birdie nesting amongst the flowers, leaves, and branches is just heartwarming. It almost reminds me of a peace dove and olive branches – or maybe that’s just me. Either way, it makes me feel happy and at peace. Isn’t it cool when a diaper can do all that?

 

Thirsties Outdoor Adventure Collection

Isn’t that the cutest gif ever, BTW?

I’d love to hear what all of your favorites are, too! Feel free to drop a line in the comments.