Blogging, Teething and Reading.

The archival quality of a blog has already proved useful. I ended up reading through older entries last night, particularly the ones about Noah’s progress in decluttering his toys, and I was surprised by how well we had actually done. I was pretty impressed with us at the time but even more so when looking back. It was very inspirational and has me working on getting more “junk” out of our home. I also am able to let go of more sentimental things, like Olivia’s clothes that she is quickly outgrowing. I actually have a friend that is due in March with a baby girl so I have a good place to pass on the nicer stuff that I wish got more wear. :) Definitely works for me!

Also, as far as Olivia’s growing goes: she’s now 13 months old, an expert crawler and a ham! She loves to laugh and loves to make people laugh. It is rare that people look at Liv and not see her either smiling or ready to break one out. Her smiles are also still very gummy…oddly, she didn’t cut her first tooth until very close to her birthday last month. She’s actively cutting 6 teeth right now (4 on top, 2 on the bottom) and getting ready to get her first year molars in. Poor girl has been fussy (for her) for a few days now and she’s not sleeping as soundly as she was. She’s also nursing all day long and frequently through the night even though she eats solids regularly.

She’s not walking yet, either. She’s almost ready, has it down physically, but mentally she will not let go. If she realizes she’s standing independently, she deliberately leans forward to put her weight on something. Instead of hitting this milestone and taking off with it, she’s decided to pick up words. Baby sign, verbal, whatever. She was very quiet before and now she’s absorbing whatever words she can. Whether she repeats them or not is entirely up to her (mostly, she doesn’t) but understanding the meaning behind them and expanding her vocabulary is something else.

Noah isn’t letting her be the only impressive one in the house, though. He’s picked up reading through phonics (no program, just me teaching him the way I was taught by my mother). What we – Joshua and I – didn’t expect was for him to grasp the concepts so quickly. He went from reading 3 letter words to reading whatever he sees. It is not unusual to find him in his bed, reading a book. He also reads the names of episodes on Netflix, signs, instructions, etc. If it has words, he reads it. This does mean that all internet browsing is SFW (Which it generally is anyway, but we’re Redditors and stuff tends to pop up.) because he has been known to read our monitors over our shoulders.

I realize that at five years old, reading is a pretty typical skill, but the genuine love for reading that Noah has brings me great joy. I hope that my kids will be readers for the span of their lives. Books are knowledge and adventures. Thanks to books, I’ve rarely been bored in my life. Hopefully they won’t be, either.

The Set Up

I’ve been asked about our set up before, probably because it’s fun to peek in at other changing areas, so I decided to post ours. I’m not trying to go back to talking just about cloth diapers but it’s been fun to share this stuff with everyone. I apologize in advance for random dark shadows and stuff. I’m not a professional photographer at all…in fact, still trying to get used to my camera! And I was kind of in a rush because with two kids…actually, that pretty much says it all right there.

This is our changing area. It’s right off of the bathroom and laundry area so it’s not an issue if there is a smell (not an issue so far) and doing diaper laundry is a breeze. We use a regular 13 gallon trash can with a swingtop lid (you can see the sticker that I still haven’t taken off even though it annoys me) and pail liners.

There’s a laundry basket and trash can for obvious reasons and a huge counter that used to be full of clutter and isn’t any more. Woohoo for purging the home of a black hole!

To the right, on the counter, our wipes. The basket is full of various cloth wipes that I just use with water (since the sink is within reach). The plastic wipes container is from the hospital and perfect for holding random little things like Snappis, Boingos, CJ BUTTer samples, etc. Then a flip top pack of Target wipes which I looove because they are as softer than a cloth wipe and pretty tame as far as chemicals go.

The full “stash”! Yes, I managed a picture. I’m full of back pats right now, let me tell you. First shelf is a plastic container to keep all of the pockets and all-in-ones in. Super easy to see what I need and grab it and keep everything we actively use nice and neat. The bottom shelf has a box of disposable wipe packages (for the diaper bag, mostly) and fitteds, covers, wetbags, etc.

Ahhh, pretty. I love the vibrant colors! These are our pockets and all-in-ones. The aesthetic side of me wants to turn the diapers so the “pretty” side shows (like the back left) but Joshua likes being able to see what he’s grabbing and that sounds fair. On the right we have the Bumgenius 4.0 pockets, in the middle we have Bumgenius Elementals and on the left, the night time stuffed 4.0s (hemp insert AND a prefold) as well as assorted AIOs/pockets. Sometimes I miss our prefolds and then I change Liv’s diaper and remember how squirmy she is. Pfft.

Purple container: Assorted WAHM fitteds (8), spare small prefolds for stuffing pockets, hemp inserts, bamboo doublers, and PUL covers (3). I tend to not touch this stuff very often right now. Maybe later.

Wetbags, spare pail liner and a little roll of garbage bags for that trash can. Lavender scented, so I can avoid the smell of used wipes until it’s time to take out the trash (it takes a while to fill up that can).

Here is the inside of the diaper bag with the other three Elementals we own. These tend to sit in there for when it’s time to go out. On shorter trips, we don’t have to change her, but on longer trips, we’re ready to go. If she doesn’t poop, this could get us through 4-6 hours alone, not counting her fresh diaper when we leave. If necessary we pack more, of course, but this tends to work well for us.

I’ve changed up our set up a few times but now I just LOVE it. Diaper changes are easy and even Noah knows where everything is. He spent a few minutes earlier telling me what a diaper pail was, though I’m not sure why…honestly, that kid just talks. And talks.

And talks.

Oh! I can’t forget the little cutie who GETS her diaper changed. She was helping me take pictures. I have no idea what the black shadow is on the right…I think it might be the strap, actually. Oh well, I’m learning.

(More information on our “stash” is in the last post here.)

 

Diaper Laundry Helpers

My next post about cloth diapering was going to be our “stash” but this was too cute not to post about.

This isn’t all of our diapers but it gives you an idea of what we use and what diaper laundry is like for us. There are sometimes threads on forums called “OTD/RTG” and the idea is that you post the pile of diapers that are fresh out of the diapers and then the pile “ready to go”. Since the kids were being really cute about helping me do diaper laundry, I thought I would snap a few pictures!

Here we have alll of the diapers in this load. No, this is not all of the diapers but yes, this is mostly prefolds, so that volume isn’t SO bad.

  
Noah was helping me stack the prefolds by color so I could either straighten them (the reds) or trifold them for stuffing (the yellows).

 

Olivia likes to chew on wipes so she got covered in wipes and flats. Very helpful cute.

Annnd, ready to go! Stacked so nice and pretty. :) Too bad they don’t stay that way, just like all laundry. They get used and then re-washed and the cycle starts all over again. *sigh* (Sidenote: some of these aren’t actually in rotation yet. There is a small stack of Swaddlebees Simplex that are size Large so they don’t fit Olivia, but we’ve been selling and buying lately. That Retail Therapy Bumgenius on top? New-to-us and I LOVE it.)

Oh well. At least they’re really cute on her, right?

Why I use cloth diapers, part two

I am writing a series of posts about cloth diapers this month, in an attempt to help answer questions that newbies to cloth might have. This is inspired by pregnant friends that have been asking me questions! If you’re knowledgeable about cloth diapers and you are reading this, please feel free to chime in on the comments, whether you agree with me or not. I think discussion and commentary can be very helpful for the learning process.

Deciding to use cloth diapers with Olivia didn’t take as long after her birth but I had months before she was born to really consider the option. My Livejournal friends can attest to the fact that I spent a lot of time going “should I or shouldn’t I?” about using cloth. At first, it wasn’t really the money factor but the environmental factor. I felt bad hurting the planet with more disposables but I was, again, daunted by the idea of laundry. There are also a lot more options in brands and companies than there used to be when Noah was a baby and I had a lot of research to do. I tend to stay current on baby-related topics since I have friends who are planning to have more babies than me and I like to know things, but I was still unprepared for the onslaught of information I found when I started researching cloth diapers.

I decided to do disposables and figured I could change my mind later. Then Joshua lost his job and I started to save money wherever I could. We figured he’d find one pretty quickly so I planned to use coupons. We actually didn’t spend much money on newborn and size 1 diapers; between coupons and a sweet Craigslist person who passed on diapers that her son had outgrown and the hospital, we had a good number of diapers to get us through the first two months.

Except, Olivia started getting rashes more and more often. “Nakey time” gave her a chance to air out and lose the rash, so I started my research. I had learned that prefolds came in different sizes and that sized prefolds were trimmer. (I’m not one for bulk.) I had also watched Youtube videos and realized that prefolds are actually pretty simple to use! I decided that prefolds and covers would make up the bulk of our stash because I wanted “the cast iron of cloth diapers”. Basically, natural fibers that could take a beating and still wash up beautifully (and they do).

Picking the cover was the hardest part, I think, but once I make a decision I tend to stick to it, so once it was made, we ordered the diapers. This time around, we had just received our income tax return, so we went mostly new. I also bought some secondhand Bumgenius 4.0 pockets for Joshua because I wasn’t sure how he would like prefolds. (He’s answered that question for me since then!)

When Olivia was six weeks old, she had her first cloth diaper and we haven’t gone back. I’ve had some issues with stink (because Houston apparently has hard water) and working out how many diapers we needed per day has been a bit of trial-and-error. Now I can go about two days without washing and wash on the third day, though I usually don’t wait that long.

Honestly, there are so many reasons to cloth diaper that even though Joshua has a job now, I don’t see myself going back to disposables. We will still continue to save money on diapers, even if I continue to buy a few more because of how cute they are. Adorable prints are another reason to cloth diaper, by the way. A diaper gets used more often than pretty much any outfit you will buy your kids and during hot summers like we have here in Texas, kids can often go around in a shirt and diaper and no one thinks anything of it. Therefore, if you have a cute print you want to show off, you can! And the savings you will get from not buying disposables will still make it worth it financially, before you even touch the resale value.

Yes, that’s right. You can sell used cloth diapers if they are in functional condition. Some diapers that are “hard to find” and really sought for are known to go for hundreds of dollars on eBay or Spots (a smaller selling site). Of course, if a diaper is pretty used up, you may not get as much back as a diaper in near-perfect condition, but really, what kind of resale value do disposables have? Exactly. (A personal example with reselling are the prefolds I bought. I spent $56 on yellow-edged Green Mountain Diapers prefolds and sold them for $50. After shipping and fees, I basically got $36 back on diapers that had already saved me money to begin with!)

There is also the community aspect. The cloth diapering community online is pretty small, considering, and there are a lot of amazing people out there. Like I told you in my last post, many cloth diapering parents are so willing to help others because they want more people to be able to cloth diaper and bring awareness about modern cloth diapers to the world. I’ve passed on used diapers myself and just been happy to help another mother out the way I was helped. Plus, sometimes it’s just fun to talk about fluff with someone who “gets” it!

If that’s not enough of a reason for me to cloth diaper, then there is my kids’ health. Disposables have a ton of chemicals in them and, for Olivia at least, cause rashes that cloth diapers don’t. Instead, I swaddle Liv’s bum in cloth and make sure there is a waterproof layer and call it good. She might as well be wearing only clothes, with no extra chemicals added!

Basically, there’s five reasons:

1. Financial (both cost effectiveness and resale value)
2. Environment (helping to not add to the already enormous waste on this earth)
3. Appearance (cloth diapers can be CUTE!)
4. Community (a great group of parents you can chat with and help each other)
5. Health (no chemicals on that sweet little baby!)

Like I said before: we are not an anti-disposable family. We never will be, because we used them with our son and cloth diapers do not always work. There are so many reasons for us to use cloth diapers though that we will continue to do so as long as we can and put that money towards something else, like a zoo trip. :)

My (unsurprising) thoughts on breastfeeding

All of this controversy about breastfeeding lately makes me really sad. Even before Joshua and I decided to have kids, I knew I would breastfeed. Or, to be more exact, it never even occurred to me to do otherwise. I knew what formula was and how to use it, for the most part. My mom formula fed my brother after a little while for various reasons and I was a care provider at multiple daycares and nurseries from ages 15-18.

Still, breastfeeding seemed natural. While I know that breasts can be sexual and wonderful for intimacy in the bedroom, that has never been their primary purpose. Biologically, humans are mammals and, after gestating, our bodies make milk through mammary glands and breasts that were developed specifically for that purpose. Breasts are for nutrition, period. Therefore, I just kind of assumed that’s what I would do and I had no idea that there was such controversy about breastfeeding and about nursing in public. (Especially about nursing in public!) I always thought that babies have to eat too and it must be a pain to get the milk into a bottle all of the time to make a trip out so why bother? I was right, by the way. It’s a pain, sometimes literally, to pump milk into bottles for trips out, especially compared to nursing straight from the breast. It is nice that we have the technology to make it easier on moms who are not comfortable nursing in public, though, so I’m not about to start knocking it.

Anyway, since I’m coming at the subject with this viewpoint, I’m saddened and baffled. Nature is awesome, and I don’t mean surfer dude “awesome”. I mean impressive and inspiring of great awe. Hurricanes that destroy cities. Tornadoes that destroy homes. Animals that are born with instincts thousands of years old and are able to care for their young without the aid of Google or opposable thumbs. So why is it that what nature created for babies is somehow wrong or gross or optional? Formula is great, if you need it. Bottles are useful tools. But nursing your baby is what nature intended and it is not sexual or immoral or even – yes, people have said this! – child abuse. It is biologically necessary for infants, more necessary than diapers or clothes or pretty baby gear. A baby can poop on anything but a baby cannot eat just anything. Breastmilk is exactly right for babies.

Then there is the bonding. The sweet, beautiful moments where you hold your child and know that your child feels safe and happy and content. The little smiles when they’re clearly enjoying your milk as much as a wine connoisseur appreciates a fine vintage or a chocaholic enjoys a gourmet brownie. They don’t care that your breasts are uneven or maybe a little saggy from pregnancy or age. They don’t care that your hair isn’t done or your clothes are a little outdated. They just want mama and full bellies, and they have both.

I think I actually pity those who feel breastfeeding is wrong.