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Written by Mama Monday

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

Our family has been on the hunt for a house for about a million years, it seems. In reality, we’ve been casually looking for a couple of years, but our search has gained urgency with the coming of our second child in November. With two adults, one preschooler (is it weird that I want to continue calling him a toddler at three?), three cats…and now one more little one, our 1,000 sq. ft. home seems to be bursting at the seams. We adore our home and it’s served us well, but it’s time.

I’ve learned that, as with much in life, the best house for us will “happen” when it’s meant to. So, I’m not too stressed about whether we find our new spot sooner (ie before November) or later (ie before our oldest enters school…or college). Because of this, we’ve taken a hard look at our space to figure out what will double as a nursery if and when the time comes.

We’ve got three small-but-functional bedrooms, one of which performs office duties, currently housing several bookshelves, two desks, and walls full of my husband’s quirky comic art and pieces we’re proud he’s written. Oh, and a Katharine Hepburn autograph. (That’s mine. ;-)) It’s kind of a hot mess, honestly. After realizing that a crib and toddler bed won’t fit in our son’s room (and, honestly, with potty-training, a new “big boy bed”, a new sibling, and the possibility of moving, we don’t need to add one more reason for him to revolt!), I turned to the office with a fresh set of eyes.

Since I hardly ever use the office (except for, honestly, to store piles of my paperwork and books), it’s time to move my DIY parsons desk to the basement and clean out most of my stuff. Poof! Room for a crib. Purging some books and storing the ones we don’t need at-hand will allow room for baskets/bins to contain some baby paraphernalia. Oh, and our son only uses his dresser, so we’d probably utilize his closet for baby clothes and cloth diaper stash storage (pulling a handful of diapers and clothes each day to hang out in the little one’s room as needed).

With a spark of “what if” comes the next logical step: an exorbitant amount of time spent perusing Pinterest. Since our house has a unique set-up, I actually searched for several ideas for small nurseries as well as shared space nurseries, whether office-related or not. So, maybe if any of you are in the same under-sized boat, you can glean some inspiration from the spaces and ideas I stumbled upon.



This is a great “if the room were big enough” toddler/infant room sharing scenario. You can see the crib peeking out in the right corner, and the fun, cohesive styling in the room somehow suits both ages. Shoes Off Please also has a great general nursery-and-toddler-room roundup.



Ahh, Buzzfeed strikes again! Here’s a great list of tips hacks that will help anyone who’s trying to make raising a little one work in a small space. We already do several of these (hidden storage is a must!), but others are simply genius.



This one from The Sweetest Digs may very well be my favorite. Unfortunately, we have far too little by way of “white furniture” and mama’s only got so much energy for painting stuff. But, the design and utilization of space is giving me tons to work with, mentally!



The Glittler Guide gives me hope that a pretty cluttered mishap of a “before” can turn into an “after” like THAT.
These things can happen in real life, right? RIGHT??



Here we go with the white again. But, it’s still a very realistic interpretation of a shared nursery space, isn’t it?
I know I’d love having this replace our current office monstrosity!

What about you folks? Who has a less-than-traditional nursery setup? Let us hear your tips and tricks for making it work! We’d considered co-sleeping but don’t think it’s for us. We will, however, have the baby with us for the first couple of months in a bassinet-type scenario, so that gives us even more time to find a larger place. 😉

My son is only three years old, but “back-to-school” is still an anxiety-heightening phrase in our household. See, although we’re not doing preschool yet, I’m a school librarian. I LOVE my kiddos at school and enjoy things once the routine returns, but this year will be a whole new ball of wax with a maternity leave come November; my son was born mid-July, so I didn’t have to figure out the logistics of that the first time around.

Not to mention that being afforded the opportunity to stay home with my son all summer is not something I take for granted. I cherish the time we can spend this way, and every single year I go through the same emotional roller-coaster heading back to normalcy. It’s pretty tough.

And, thinking of all the unknowns children face when going back to school – a new teacher, new classmates, possibly the prospect of a whole new school or schedule (even a change in lunchtime) – it can be daunting. For kids who crave a routine, it’s even scarier. It breaks my heart to see the first week tears and stress the little ones (and even the not-so-little-ones) endure during morning drop-off.

But, I’ve learned some ways to cope. Whether you’re sending your first one off to school or have been doing this for years, I thought I’d share some tips that may help keep things calmer for both child and parent.


Go over your schedule early and get everyone’s bodies into the routine. Ugh. I honestly hate this one, but it genuinely helps. Start with a casual conversation about what time they’ll leave the house (whether by bus or car), and discuss a realistic time to wake up. Start getting everyone up a little earlier each day so that the first day doesn’t feel like jet lag for everyone. It definitely makes for a less frazzled start!

Read back-to-school books. There are tons of books for starting school (from Wemberly Worried to First Day Jitters to Llama Llama Misses Mama for littles to Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! and Wonder for older readers), so if your child has an easier time relating to a book, just head to your local library together. Read together or independently, but be sure to follow-up on their thoughts.

Talk about any worries or fears in advance. Some children handle transition smoothly; others become suddenly introverted and their worries don’t rise to the top until the very last minute – like in the school hallway at 8am on the first day. If you notice any changes in your child’s behavior before school starts, talk to them about it. Allow them an open space to discuss any feelings without telling them that things will, simply, “be fine” or that “it’ll get better once you get there.” Sure, that’s probably what will happen, but the anxiety beforehand is often the worst part. Think about a time that you were scared or anxious (before a big presentation or when starting a new job) and validate their feelings.

Stock up and prep while things are still relatively calm. If your school year hasn’t yet begun (sorry if it has!), make a list of favorite meals and healthy snacks that your family loves. Pick a handful that you can make now to freeze for later use. It sounds silly, but just having a stockpile of healthy muffins or meals (and lunches like these healthy “real food” options) on hand alleviates tons of morning and evening “what do I make?” stress. Oh, and if you can at least start prepping lunches the night before (and remember to thaw the meal or set up the Crock Pot), it’ll save even more worry!

Plan your meals. Use the aforementioned list of family favorites to create a meal plan, either weekly or monthly. Make sure the first week or two are full of comforting, easy-to-make (or unthaw/cook/serve!) meals. You’ll be far less stressed (or apt to grab fast food), and having a sit-down meal together at the end of the day will give your family a chance to touch base about the activities of the day. Also, aren’t there so many emotions tied with meals? We look forward to the meal knowing we’ll be having our favorite spaghetti and meatballs or sloppy joe recipe that night.

If all else fails, role play. If your child is having true fears and anxiety about going to school, have a further discussion and try a role play scenario. Even we grown-ups lose more energy worrying about the unknowns of life than what we eventually endure. So, ask what exactly it is that worries your child? Is it unlocking a locker? Go through the steps of unlocking one in advance, having them practice, and talk about who they can seek out to help if they have an issue. Or is it an issue of making friends? Role play, pretending to be a fellow student sitting next to them in class and allow your child to practice talking to and connecting with another child.

And, of course, if there’s a greater underlying issue (a past case of bullying or an academic problem), feel free to contact the school to see what suggestions they have for a smooth transition into the new school year. Be proactive and positive, and maintain that attitude with your child to help empower them rather than enable them.

So, how many of you have already begun school for the year (if your child is of school age)? Does anyone else want to hide their head in the sand until the very last minute? Who’s homeschooling, and if so, do you go all year or take a summer break?

And, is anyone else looking forward to at least the “pumpkin everything” that autumn brings? (Fall is my favorite, BTW, once the back-to-school anxiety has subsided. ;-))

Since we’re expecting our second child in November, I’ve noticed one huge similarity between our first and second pregnancies: People all have an opinion as to the fact that we’re not learning our child’s gender. BIG opinions.

And I get it, I do. The first question we generally hear after people find out that we’re expecting is, “Oh! What’re you having?” Is it really a given these days that parents find out what they’re having? According to our local hospital, pretty much. My sister and I are the rare difference; many months can go by without that “It’s a…!!!” surprise moment in the delivery room.

I have heard that it’s becoming the “in” thing not to find out. If you know me in “real life,” you know that my husband and I are (proudly) as dorky as they come, so it’s clearly not why we’re making this choice. We just know that there are very few really incredible surprises left in store for we “gotta have it now” humans these days. We also love keeping things simple and down to basic gender neutral decor and clothing (we have loved ones who will overbuy! Can’t wait to use our own hand-me-downs instead), so planning ahead isn’t really necessary.

One fun thing I’ve seen/heard a lot about are all the wives’ tales for “guessing” the baby’s gender. I thought, for anyone who may be waiting to learn their baby’s gender OR who may be planning a fun gender reveal party, it might be fun to share all the ones I’ve learned. Just for fun!

gender predictions

1. No morning sickness, it’s a boy. It’s a girl if you’re having any nausea. If this is the case, I’m on my second boy; I had less nausea this time and wasn’t very nauseous at all the first time, with zero actual sickness. However, my poor sister was horribly ill all 18 months of her two pregnancies and has a girl…and a boy. 😉

2. A higher heart rate (140+ BPM) means it’s a girl; lower for a boy. To say nothing of the fact that they all have fast heart rates earlier in the pregnancy.

3. If you crave salty foods, it’s a boy; sweet, it’s a girl. We’ll see if this is true; I’ve craved salty stuff both times.

4. If dad gains weight, it’s a girl. If his weight stays the same, it’s a boy. Not touching this one.

5. It’s a girl if you get acne due to the increased levels of the female charged hormones. A girl “steals” her mother’s beauty. Anybody else LOL’ing yet?

6. If the linea nigra stops at the belly button, it’s a girl. If the linea nigra goes all the way to the bottom of the rib cage, it’s a boy.
Got nothin’.

You’ve got dry hands – it’s a boy. Or a super dry Upstate New York winter. Whatevs.

More hair on your legs than normal, count on a boy.
Can’t say that I remember my experience the first time, but it is a lot less noticeable this summer…huh.

9. If your face swells and gets rounder, it’s a girl. Long and narrow face, a boy. Mine looks normal, I think…but my brother would crack an immature joke. 😉

10. Cold feet, a boy. Um, so I’ve been expecting a boy my whole life? #alwayscold11. If you find yourself clumsier with pregnancy, it’s a boy. If you remain grounded and still in control of your body, it’s a girl.

11. If you’re clumsier with pregnancy, it’s a boy. If you’re physically grounded and stable, it’s a girl. Again, every day of my life…clumsy.

12. If you’re carrying low, it’s a boy. If you’re carrying high, it’s a girl. Is there such thing as a middle carry? There I am.

13. Speaking of carrying, if you’re carrying in front, it’s a boy. All around your middle, it’s a girl. I think front, mostly.

14. Loop your wedding ring in a piece of thread and let it dangle over your belly. If the rings swings in a back and forth motion, it’s a girl. If the ring moves in a circular motion, boy. I haven’t done this yet, but it’s one of my favorites – just for the fun of it, really. There’s also a string-and-needle variation.

15. Or, just skip all of the above and go for the gold: a Chinese Gender Predictor. Clearly, it’s a girl. That, and my 3-year-old son insists it’s a girl. Insists, I tell you.

Let me know if you’ve had any of these wives’ tales tell you your child’s gender accurately! And, of course, please feel free to add any that I’ve missed in the comments! (I know there are dozens upon dozens more.)

Happiness FileWe all have those days that we feel…down. Like maybe we’re a bad parent. Like we’re totally failing at this “raising a child” thing. Like our kid may have been possessed by an evil spirit. Like you’re just not reaching them, whether they’re a two-nager or a real-life teenager.

Today, I bring you a tip that I learned in my college teaching classes (because apparently those incredible professors knew exactly how rough – like, how many times does a teacher consider quitting during their career rough – teaching would be).

Those sage ladies suggested taking anything that warmed our hearts – a sweet drawing from a student, a positive review, a favorite response on an assignment, a picture of some awesome kids – and putting them into a file. Or a large envelope. Or an old shoebox. Whatever it may be, this is your “Happiness File.”

Or whatever you want to call it. I like to think of it as my “You’re Doing Something Right File.” Only, in this case, it’s not in my classroom (or library, as it were); it’s my life.

When it comes to your own children, this can be your favorite happy, smiling family photograph, your child’s first hand-scrawled “I LOVE YOU, MAMA” drawing, a super-sweet inspirational card your spouse gave you…the list goes on and on.

But, to round out your “Happiness File” (or even to simplify it a bit), I suggest proactively creating your own list, possibly in a simple “Note” on your phone, with brief, everyday bits of awesomeness that your children have provided you. Here are just a few that my sometimes-sweet-sometimes-threenager boy has added to my list lately:

– I’ve caught him with one of our cats, gently rubbing his face on Jasper’s belly while saying “who’s a good baby??” Seeing that unprovoked kindness is heartwarming.

– He’s started saying he wants to be a “librarier” and give books to people (the first time he’s shown an interest in my job, which is cool since he usually focuses on my husband’s previous job in news — which is also pretty cool). His awareness is awakening.

– Seeing a picture of my father’s senior picture and declaring, “He’s Bruce Wayne!!!” (Also particularly touching because my dad passed away when I was about my son’s age. Yeah, Hadley. He was a superhero in disguise.) His connections are hilarious, and oftentimes so very accurate.

– He’s finally started openly offering kisses, using an adorable, non-selfie duck face without our asking for one. I know I’ll miss this when he’s “too big” and “too cool” someday. His love currently knows no bounds.

– He has a sweet fondness and awareness of several types of music, including oldies (he loves the Monkees as much as I did as a child) and classical (he grew up listening to it in the car with his daddy, so the fact that he can proclaim composers correctly is awe-inspiring). Seeing where his interests develop (and that they sometimes follow our own, sometimes follow his own whims) is FUN!

– I am daily astounded by the vastness of his vocabulary, the fact that he can finally control a crayon enough to color in *just one area*, his awareness of letter sounds, and his sudden ability to simply circle an answer in our “same and different” workbook. He’s catching on, and smarter than I sometimes give him credit for.

By the way, this post isn’t about bragging about my son. (For example, we’re still working very hard at — and struggling with — potty-training…so, we’ve got that going for us. ;-)) They’re genuinely just examples of the simple (and sometimes, in our own eyes, amazing) ways that our kids show us on a daily basis how incredible they are…and, in turn, remind us that we’re not doing such a bad job, after all.

Does anyone else have a “Happiness File” or other cheer-you-up trick for those rough parenting days? (Or work days, for that matter?) The cool thing is that it can be as easy as tossing some Post-It notes in a shoebox, keeping a file on your phone, or (if you enjoy getting crafty) as complicated and beautiful as a scrapbook. Just remember that the ultimate point is that YOU’RE DOING AN AWESOME JOB, NO MATTER HOW YOU MAY FEEL SOME DAYS!

Raise your hand if you were cloth diapered as a baby.

raises hand*

I was born in 1982 and, yup, I was cloth diapered in the traditional “flats-and-prefolds-and-safety pins-and-rubber pants” sort of way. It could have been because we had very little money. It could have been simply because my mother was an economical fiend (in a good way). It could have been because it was how my mother was taught to do things. It also might have been because I was the last of four and my mother wasn’t about to change up her system at that point.

Back then, it wasn’t a hip trend to CD since the only diaper color available, as far as I know, was, um, white. (I still have an affinity for a cute, white-fluffed bum.) Although, seriously, haven’t they come a long way? It wasn’t really done to save the planet, either, although they were helping in that respect. Luckily, it’s definitely still an economical way to make it through babyhood (although, the price may be shocking today for those old-school prefolds-only mamas). But, for coolness factor? If you could afford disposables, you were cool. Off the charts far out.

folding diapers - Library of Congress

It’s funny how things change. One hundred years ago, it was the only method of diapering. Fifty years ago, it was still the only real method to speak of. As time went on and disposables became known, it seemed that the people who could afford it took the disposable route (all while the other mamas diligently continued CDing). Even many hospitals continued chugging along on the cloth diaper train, if you can imagine, into the early ’80s.

Today, the vast majority of parents choose disposables. It is we, the CD fans, who are the odd persons out. In a world of debating (aka full-on, no holds barred fighting) anything and everything in an online forum, somehow CDs have become yet another topic up for sometimes offensive conversation. Just today, I saw a post going off on the (inaccurate) reasons not to cloth diaper, seemingly written just to rile up plenty of upset parents. Really? If something doesn’t affect you in the slightest, you must take to the streets and shout about why you’re against it?

Old stigmas die hard, I guess, huh? The thought that cloth can break a washing machine…wow. Just wow.

But, I see the pendulum swinging, and I like the trend. From hashtags promoting the positives of cloth to incredible resources and support groups, we see more and more moms and dads trying out (and falling in love with) cloth. Others see the adorable fluff on your child’s bum and start to ask questions, and the curiosity brings them to trying some out on their own. And on and on it goes.

This is how good things happen and the word gets out: YOU. If you’ve had success, share it! If you’ve had challenges, share those, too! We can all learn from each other, and we often can’t solve our problems until we’re open about them (and often hear that we’re not the only one who have had issues).

And, when I hear those silly negative comments, I’ll just remind myself: I was cloth diapered, myself. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”