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 one

I have a cousin and quite a few friends who are due in June or July and a couple of them have been asking me questions about cloth diapers. Therefore, I thought I would do a series of posts about cloth diapers this month, in an attempt to help answer questions that newbies to cloth might have. 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.

I think a good start to this segment would be to explain just why we cloth diaper and how we ended up taking this path. I should also make clear that we’re not an anti-disposable household; it just didn’t work for us as well as cloth this time around.

When I was pregnant with Noah, I didn’t really consider cloth diapers. I knew modern cloth diapers existed from reading parenting communities and having “crunchy” friends. I did think they were cute and saved money, but I was daunted by the idea of more laundry, and disposables just seemed easy. Use, toss, done. Then, when Noah was three months old, Joshua and I were both laid off and jobs were scarce in our town. Suddenly, we were pretty worried about how we would get diapers among everything else we needed and my mind turned to the alternative solution: cloth.

It wasn’t an immediate switch. First, you need the initial funds to be able to purchase a decent-sized stash. I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of prefolds and covers, and AIOs (all-in-ones, diapers that need no cover or stuffing and are the most like disposables, especially if they have velcro-like closures) seemed like the best bet. Those are, however, some of the more expensive diapers available.

I posted to cloth diaper communities asking for ideas on cheaper options and some wonderful women decided that they would send me some diapers in the mail as a “starter stash”. I was also linked to this starter prefold stash on Cottonbabies that was basically enough diapers to get through a day, as long as I could get over my fear of prefolds. I still remember getting the donated diapers in the mail – various old pockets that were past their prime but still functional, covers that were basically “free for shipping” (you just pay shipping) but were, again, functional – and Joshua asking me how I knew these women. I said that I didn’t, but they wanted to help us out, and they did. I will forever be grateful to them.

A now-good friend of mine also sent me some new Bumgenius 3.0 pockets and I purchased some off of Diapers.com during a sale with a coupon (always the coupons, with me) and after slowly adding one or two diapers at a time, I ended up with a full stash of pockets and a handful of prefolds. I didn’t really figure out how to use prefolds properly at the time so they were always very bulky but I still loved seeing them with a cover on Noah. I can’t think of Bummis Whisper Wraps in the Froggy Pond or Star Baby prints without getting nostalgic. ;)

We cloth diapered Noah for about 18 months and then we had stink issues when we moved to Houston so I gave up. It was too difficult to combat for me and in hindsight, I see how easy they would have been to fix, but I’ve learned quite a bit since then. I sold them and switched to Huggies. (Cloth diapers often have decent resale value, even used.) I figured Noah would potty train within a year and it wouldn’t be a big deal.

The joke is on me though. Noah didn’t potty train until last November – just two months before his fourth birthday. *sigh*

With Olivia, the decision was made a little faster, but still a little delayed. More on that tomorrow…

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.