Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cloth Diapers: A Review

 These past few weeks I've had several friends ask me how cloth diapering is going. And it seems that just about everyone who noticed them on our little one is curious. So as promised, I wanted to give you curious minds my thoughts on cloth diapering so far.

In a nutshell, we LOVE them! Seriously would not change a thing about the diapers we went with or the decision to go cloth (more on that here)! They are impressively easy to use and have even made believers out of the biggest doubters we know.

My only complaint is that we had to wait until she was two weeks old to start using them because they were too big on her. Those two weeks quickly made us aware of how many diapers she was going through a day and how that expense can really add up. Thankfully for us, the hospital sent us home with enough to get us through those first two weeks!

As far as maintenance goes, I wash a load every 2-3 days. The addition of laundry is honestly so minimal that I hardly notice the few additional loads. Which brings me to how happy I am that we have thirty. It gives me plenty to get through 2-3 days and still have a few extras in her room and diaper bags just in case! That also means that each one is getting slightly less wear, extending their lasting power for additional kiddos:)

There are a few accessories that I would highly recommend if going this route. While of course not necessary, we have been completely grateful for our diaper sprayer! It makes cleaning out poopy diapers a breeze (even for the faint of heart:). We also purchased two wet bags from Planet Wise, a large one for the bathroom and a medium one for the diaper bag. They are brilliant at keeping odors at bay and fit an impressive number of diapers. These simply get tossed in with the diapers and washed every couple of days.

While we use cloth diapers exclusively day-to-day, we did opt to use disposables while we traveled for five days. I'm sure we could have found a way to wash them, but we decided it just wasn't worth the hassle while on vacation! With that said, I know several people who make it work while traveling, so it can definitely be done.

So there you have it, my brief version on how much we love using cloth on our little one! If you ever have questions please don't hesitate to email me!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Master Bedroom: Closet Progress & A Tour

So much for accountability, huh? Remember when I said we were going to finish our closet in September? Yeah, that didn't happen. We started strong and then the hassle of deciding to build a closet organizer or purchase one got the better of us and we moved on, putting the disaster we call our closet on the back burner-again!

Luckily, with some nudging from my friend who was curious if we had ever finished, we started back up and I am happy to say it is almost complete! I know, I know, it's about time!

Here's where we are today:

  • Our clothes have been purged and a large trip to Goodwill was made.
  • We took down the wooden rod that was admittedly bowing from the weight of my clothes and two metal rods were added to accommodate both mine and Chris' clothes. Not only does that make them more sturdy, but it's a far more efficient use of the space!
  • And finally, after pricing out materials, we decided it was actually cheaper to purchase the 5x5 Expedit shelving unit from Ikea (which we scored for $179 with the Ikea family discount this month!). It fits like a glove, making the most of our closet space.
We are so happy with the progress so far! Now I just need to find the perfect fabric to cover both closets and this project will be closed-thank heavens!

Click here for a glimpse at the before.

And while we're on the Master Bedroom, I thought I would give you a little tour of its current state (something I realized I have never done!).

On our list to complete the bedroom:

  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Purchase and possibly refinish nightstands
  • Upgrade to a Cal King bed
  • Get a full size mirror (like this one)
  • Eventually put up crown molding
  • And I'm still playing with the idea of building a headboard

I'll keep you updated! Happy Monday!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

{Gluten-Free} Double-Chocolate Brownies

When you experiment in the kitchen, as I frequently do, you have your share of failed dishes. But then there are those times when you stumble upon perfection and friends, those make all the other failed attempts worth the hassle! Just yesterday I discovered a recipe that has me swooning!

I love a good brownie, but because of their outrageously high caloric and fat content, I keep my consumption of said treats to a very rare occasion. It's just the way it's got to be when you're trying to keep a clean diet! But I came across this gluten-free recipe and while I was skeptical about its minimal ingredients and lack of flour, butter and sugar, the raving reviews peaked my curiosity. And since I had all 7 ingredients on hand, I decided to give them a shot.

Holy goodness, the results were awesome! No, make that AWESOME!! They are rich and gooey and chocolatey and completely outofthisworld!

Don't be fooled, I am not claiming these are "healthy" and to eat the entire batch, but they are certainly a healthier alternative to the classic brownie. With ingredients like nut butter, natural sweetener and cocoa powder, they are certainly a worthy replacement for traditional baked goods. And because these are gluten free, they are a suitable treat for those with a wheat intolerance!

If you're looking for a decadent Valentines treat, these are just the ticket! 

Double Chocolate Brownies
Borrowed from A Home in the Making


16 oz of almond butter, creamy or crunchy
2 eggs
1 cup honey or agave nectar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces dark chocolate bar, chopped, or chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix almond butter, eggs, & honey. Mixers work better than a whisk. Add in cocoa powder, salt, & baking soda. Fold in chopped dark chocolate/chips. 
  3. Spread into a greased  9×13 pan.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

images via

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Guest Blogger at Bushel and a Peck!

Happy Thursday, friends! Join me today over at Bushel and a Peck! I am a guest blogger for Christie who has been doing a challenge throughout the month of January to kick unhealthy habits! She's awesome and her challenges rock, so be sure to pop on over there!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Worth A Thousand Words

I've had a few followers request that I post some recent pictures of Claire (beside her monthly photos)! So I thought I would take one or two Wednesdays a month to share some recent pics. Here are a few of my Love Bug last week:) 

Enjoy and Happy Wednesday!

P.S. I've got some great posts and updates coming soon!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Best Hair Ever

Some happy for your Tuesday! Seriously though, does that hair not kill you? 

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Have a Confession...

I swore up and down I would never be that mom with a "Baby on Board" plaque on my car.

Pretty much since the day I found out I was expecting, my dislike for bad drivers has quadrupled. I have admittedly become the hyper-anxious mom who explains to you (as if you can hear me) that I am carrying my most precious cargo in this vehicle so please slow down/use your blinker/stop texting and driving etc.! What can I say, being a mom changes you in ways you can't explain.

This is my car today. Moral of the story: never say never...

Friday, January 20, 2012

{Celebrating 75!}

This past weekend we were in Illinois celebrating my grandma's 75th birthday! It was so fun for Claire to meet my family and spend some quality time with everyone! We were also happy to introduce our girl to her Great Great Grandpa! I consider it a wonderful blessing that my daughter has three living great, great grandparents!!

Of course this trip gave  us our first experience in flying with a newborn. And I've got to say, despite my hyper anxiety the day we left, Claire did amazing! Barely made a peep, even with five legs of flights (thanks to the magic of nursing!)! I consider that a right of passage as new parents:)

Aside from the insanely cold weather, it was a wonderful family trip!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Claire Elizabeth {2 months}

Claire, your second month of life has been so much fun! Your personality is blooming more and more with each passing day and girly, you are quite the little social butterfly!

You are becoming so aware of the world around you and you love people! It doesn't matter if you know them or not, you love being the center of attention. You have recently found your voice and now try to mock our facial expressions and sounds, which is beyond adorable! One thing is for sure, you love being talked to!

These days you are loving our daily walks, silly faces, mama's sling and that sound the hair dryer makes and I am loving our morning time together! You wake up so happy and full of smiles, it's nearly impossible to want to be productive!

The three of us have found a groove this month and we've settled into our new routine quite nicely. You are eating and sleeping well and definitely growing by the minute it seems.

Little girl, you are such a joy to your daddy and me! We adore you more than you could possible imagine and continue to pray constantly for you! We look forward to seeing the little girl you are becoming!

All my love,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Broiled & Spiced to Perfection

Here in California, we've been enjoying some unseasonably gorgeous weather! But despite the sunshine, we've been eating lots of cozy, wintry meals. Take for example, breakfast this morning (and most mornings these past two weeks!); broiled spiced grapefruit. I just love the warm flavors this method adds to this yummy member of the citrus family! Plus, it's a delicious way to get that extra dose of vitamin C during this cold and flu season!

Wherever home may be for you, I hope you're staying warm and healthy! Happy Wednesday!

Broiled Spiced Grapefruit
serves 1
1/2 grapefruit
1 T pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp best quality vanilla
pinch each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom

Monday, January 9, 2012

{DIY} Headband Storage

Over these past eight weeks, Claire's collection of headbands has multiplied by leaps and bounds! It didn't take long for the basket I was storing them in to completely overflow. And when I could no longer see most of them, I decided it was time for some additional headband storage. Enter my little afternoon project.

I'm quite proud that the inspiration for this little solution was all my own, no Pinterest necessary! All it took was a piece of twine (which I already had), two drawer pulls ($1 at Michaels) and two packages of hot pink, glittered mini-clothes pins ($2.99 for 10 at Michaels). Granted, I could have saved a few bucks and glittered some clothes pins I already had, but I saved myself the time and the glitter mess (since, as we all know, glitter is the herpes of craft supplies!) which was totally worth the extra money!

All in all, I am really happy with the turnout! Three cheers for simple, inexpensive (and not to mention, cute) organization!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

While You Were Sleeping...

While she was napping yesterday, I gave Claire her first mani-pedi! I though this day would come much later in her life, but thanks to kid-safe Piggy Paint, it looks like she'll be a seasoned pro before her first birthday!

Of course, I couldn't resist buying her a few more colors for Valentine's Day:)

An added plus - quick dry time! Because just after I finished, I got one of these...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

{Our Birth Story}

Claire Elizabeth Hansen came into the world on Monday, November 14th (a beautiful 9 days early!). I would love to share the details of her arrival, as it was without a doubt the most magical day of our lives to date!

Let's begin with the week leading up to her big arrival, as it was quite eventful for Chris and me (plus, it seems I owe you a 38 week bump post). To refresh your memory, during week 37 my midwife was pretty sure Claire would arrive a little early based on how quickly I was progressing. And as much as I had promised myself I wouldn't get my hopes up about an early arrival, we definitely spent each day after that asking each other if today was the day, which made for a long week!

Our story begins around 4:30 am on Monday, November 7th with a trip to the hospital. That morning, as I was getting ready for work, I started leaking what I thought might be amniotic fluid. I immediately called labor & delivery and was advised to come in and get checked. By 5 am, Chris and I had loaded up the car and were headed to the hospital, wondering if this was the real deal! However, after what seemed like an eternity, we were discharged with the finding that it was not in fact amniotic fluid and that our baby girl was still cooking away. 

If I'm being really honest, I was crushed. Call it disappointment, hormones or just plain being ready to meet our daughter, but I was a sobbing mess that morning! Though Chris did well to remind me of how fortunate we were that my water hadn't broken prematurely, since that sometimes gets doctors pretty anxious about inducing labor in order to avoid an infection. And if you remember, we were committed to having as natural a labor and delivery as possible, so being induced was something we wanted to avoid.

Upon coming home that morning emotionally drained and utterly exhausted, I took the rest of the day off work. When I saw my midwife for an appointment that afternoon she confirmed that I was now dilated to a 4 and was about 80% effaced and still confident that I would have her soon. She also gave the strong recommendation that I take it easy for the next few days/weeks. Thus began my maternity leave.

For the remainder of the week I tried to relax and get some rest-not an easy task when you are getting increasingly uncomfortable and restless!

But Friday morning brought another early visit to the hospital, where I again thought my water was breaking. Hesitant, we loaded up the car and headed to the hospital at the nurses prompting. Though after another grueling four hours of being monitored and prodded, they again determined that it was not amniotic fluid and sent us on our way. It was then that I proclaimed to Chris that I would not be going back to the hospital until we were absolutely positive she was coming!

That weekend we did our best to distract ourselves from the obvious anticipation we were feeling. I attended a friends baby shower, we did some Christmas shopping and overall spent plenty of quality time together. Sunday morning I was determined to get this guessing game off of my mind, so I did some serious praying and begged God to give me peace that Claire would come when He had planned. And you know what? He did! I had an overwhelming peace all day, which took me right through the weekend.

Monday, November 14th: I tossed and turned all night, feeling completely restless and absolutely ravenous! Around 3 am I got up and made myself a protein shake and sat in bed until Chris got up for work. By that time I am certain I looked utterly exhausted because he insisted I try and get some rest before my Dr. appointment that afternoon. I spent that morning preparing myself for no change in my cervix and for my midwife to tell me it would probably be a few more weeks before our little one would arrive.

Upon arriving at my appointment, I playfully declared that something was different about today because I felt really out of sorts physically and could tell my body was at least preparing to birth our baby girl. We talked for a minute and she then proceeded to check my cervix for any change. She was quiet for a minute and then asked,  "Honey, can you feel that? I'm pretty sure you're having a contraction". Followed by, "And by the way, you're now dilated to a 5, almost a 6, and are 100% effaced. I'm going to bet you have this baby today! I think you should call your husband and head over to labor and delivery within the hour." Um, what!?! I asked if she was sure, at which point she confirmed, at least 5 or 6 times, that she was 99% sure I was in labor!

While I was completely ecstatic at her prediction, I was also cautiously hesitant because I wasn't feeling consistent contractions. And surely, you can't be in labor without knowing it, right?

After I left I called Chris with the news and within minutes he was on his way home.  Meanwhile, I headed home and went into full-fledged nesting mode; cleaning the floors, emptying the garbage and tying up loose ends while I waited for my hubby! Though once he got home, even he was hesitant to go to the hospital just yet since the last thing we wanted was to be sent home again without our baby in our arms. Chris was finally convinced it was time to go when within a five minute conversation in our living room, I had two very obvious contractions. It still makes me laugh when I think about the look on his face that seemed to say, "Whoa, you really are in labor!".

Just for a timeline, it was about 3:30 in the afternoon once we arrived at the hospital. When we got to triage the nurses were actually talking about me: the woman who was dilated to 5 cm, just walking around like it was nothing (hehe)! Just as they had done twice the week prior, the nurse hooked me up to monitor any contractions. Though unlike our previous visits, I was really having contractions! In fact, I was watching them on the monitor and laughing at the fact that I could only feel about half of them and they were nothing more than slight discomfort (similar to menstrual cramps). I was also now dilated to 7 cm. Within twenty minutes I was admitted to L&D and our parents were on their way! (But not before the midwife estimated our baby would be at least 8 lbs 4 oz...) Talk about a surreal experience, knowing that we were hours away from meeting our baby girl!!

So to answer my earlier question: Yep, apparently you can be in labor without knowing it! This is what I looked like dilated to 7 cm.:

Chris and I were on cloud nine! We were joking with the nurses and getting settled into our room and almost before I knew it, contractions started coming regularly (consistently about 2 minutes apart). But since they still weren't too painful, we made our rounds about the L&D floor, trying to walk our girl out!

The next few hours passed by fairly quickly. (Somewhere towards the beginning my water broke-enter more excitement!) Most of my active labor was spent excitedly greeting family members who had arrived at the hospital, walking the halls and breathing through contractions. To be honest, until about an hour before Claire arrived, my labor was extremely tolerable! In fact, up until about 9:45 I was playing Words with Friends on my iPhone and eating some pizza our family had ordered while they waited. (Great thing about no epidural-you get to eat throughout your labor!)

This is how our family and friends waited for Claire's big arrival:

Throughout my labor, Chris did an amazing job coaching me through each contraction, reminding me to breath, keeping me hydrated and encouraging me that our baby would be here soon!  Around 10pm I was going through transition (probably the toughest stage of labor) and the midwife came in to check my cervix and announced that I was at a 9.5! That was when my water fully broke. Apparently the first time it broke, it was more of a big leak and then it decided to seal itself back up. She warned me that the contractions would get really intense from this point and the urge to push was not far away. 

Suddenly it all became very real to me, I had to push her out! And she was right, my contractions were non-stop and before I knew it, I was telling the nurse it was time. Thus began the hardest 15 minutes of my entire pregnancy (you read that right, I only pushed for 15 minutes)! However, they were without a doubt worth every painful moment as our angel arrived healthy and perfect in every possible way - all 8 lbs. 10 oz. of her!!

Chris cut her umbilical cord and she was immediately placed on my chest, at which point my heart completely melted! We were able to put off the routine cleaning and tests for the first hour to give Chris and I alone time to bond with our baby girl!

Of course, once Claire and I were cleaned up, our anxious visitors were invited in to meet our sweet Claire. Talk about a beautiful picture!

The entire experience was the single most amazing thing I have ever done. Bringing our daughter into the world was the most physically demanding, but empowering thing my body has ever accomplished and I would do it all over again! And yes, I was able to have Claire completely natural, something I hope to do with all of our future children! I loved being able to be up and active during my labor and feeling in complete control of my body.

Of course I can't share my labor experience without giving a big ole' shout out to our amazing nurse, Elaina! She was so amazing and completely supportive of us wanting to have as natural an experience as possible and offered so much encouragement! That goes for the entire team at Kaiser, as well! Chris and I were so fortunate to have had such a wonderful staff cheering us on!

We were lucky enough to have some amazing moments captured before and after her birth! I have shared a few below:)

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