Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our cloth diaper "stash"....

The Laundry supplies...
Last week I shared a lot of the "why" we chose to make the leap into cloth diapering.  Today I present the "what" & the "how" of the equation....via photos.  For the most part, we wanted to be as economical as possible.  Now, I had found tutorials on how to make my own diapers & had even been offered tutorials.  But I didn't have the material necessary...nor the skill, really.  Additionally, even I had those two things--I didn't have time & patience to make enough diapers to put two kiddos into cloth.  After a LOT of research and talking with other cloth-diapering families, we decided on trying out prefolds & covers for the bulk of our stash.

diaper rite prefolds: NB, Small, Medium, & Large

Econobum One-size covers.  Lucy wears hers unsapped,
Jack's gets snapped all the way down

Other covers: Rumparooz one-size, Thirsties Duo-Wrap,
Bummis super lite

NB flip insert, one size insert, FLIP cover
In the midst of purchasing prefolds, I also decided to try some of the Flip inserts out.  These just lay inside of a diaper cover--and they're probably the easiest way we have of cloth diapering.  I love them for Lucy, but they are too huge for Jack.  I ended up purchasing some newborn Flip inserts for Jack--and aside from the occasional poop leak, these have been a really trim way to have him in cloth.

I also really wanted to give flats a shot after hearing so much about them.  Having no money to spare, I ended up purchasing flour sack towels from Wal-Mart & Target for $1 a pi
ece.  I can fold these nicely for a good fit on Jack and I can pad fold them and line a diaper cover on Lucy.  I love these!  They are super economical & easy to wash. 

These are my fleece liners & homeade flannel wipes.  The wipes are still a work in progress.  The fleece liners are sometimes inserted into a prefold or flat in order to wick away moisture from Jack or Lucy's bottom.

We ended up adding a few pockets to our stash as free "gifts with purchase" when I purchased X amount of dollars in diapers & when I purchased two separate nursing bras.  A HUGE bonus for us.  Later I purchased two Bum Genius pockets in a "seconds" sale for half off & two Kawaii brand pockets (they're good for the price!).  I also added a Bum Genius AIO for Lucy that I also found half off.  These pocket diapers are all still very huge on Jack, but have worked wonderfully on Lucy.  I am a huge fan of the Bum Genius pockets...and hope one day I'll be able to add to that collection.

The laundry...ugh.  I've tried a few different soaps & Rockin' Green was the clear winner (so far..)  I do laundry every other day.  Dirty diapers for Lucy get dunked & sprayed with Bac-Out..while Jack's just usually get a quick spray with Bac-out.  All diapers go into one of our Rumparooz wetbags until laundry day.  I do a cold soak/rinse with a small amount of Rockin' Green....followed with a hot wash & double rinse with Rockin' Green.  On nice days, everything gets hung out on the line to dry & everything but the covers get tossed in the dryer to fluff afterwards.

How we organize: Lucy's on top, pockets & flips in the middle
Jack's on bottom.  Drawer has fleece liners, and extras

My favorites?  I LOVE my Thirsties duo wrap cover for Jack...perfect for his little waist.  I also love the NB diaper rite prefolds on him.  For Lucy I love the Bum Genius pockets & pad folded flour sack towels.

So yeah...this is what we're using for now...and what works for us now.  I'm hoping to add to the stash to get us in FULL time cloth diapers (right now we're using disposables a few times a day still)

Friday, May 20, 2011

And we all laugh as we remember that one Vitamin C song...

This weekend I attended a high school graduation party for a cousin back in my hometown.  I ran into old teachers (because it's one of those small towns--where EVERYONE knows EVERYBODY), looked over photos as she had grown up in the past 18 years, listened as people talked about how "time moves so fast" and watched as she opened up her graduation gifts.

And then I realized she was in the third grade when I graduated from the very same school...and all of a sudden I'm shocked at how quickly time does move and I'm grabbing my toddler's hand from planting her hand into the cake & scanning the room to see who is holding my newborn.

Nine years ago I walked across the stage and stood up with the choir and sang Vitamin C's graduation song (like every other senior class did in the early 2000s) I had been voted "class clown" & "most school spirit".  I was devastated to be leaving friends behind.  I was terrified of the future.

I went off to college with big plans to teach High School English and Theater.  I changed my major six times before I graduated. I found Jesus. I lived on campus all four years.  I became an RA. I made lifelong friends.  I made people pour out their beer.  I hugged residents after a loss, a break-up or a bad test score. My favorite project was when I made a dinosaur color wheel for an art class for elementary teachers.  I dreamed big. I graduated abruptly. 

I grew up.

I lived a year in my college town by myself in a basement apartment that flooded without mercy and had no working heat.  I worked with special education students.  I grew to know & trust Jesus intimately. 

I grew up more.

I moved without having a job...just because I felt God leading me.  I started a job.  I met a boy.  I started dating him.  I said yes to him.  We exchanged rings.  We had a baby.  I quit my job.  We had another baby.

I grew up a LOT more.

And today, well, today I'm here.  raising two babies in a town I never expected to live in with the kind of husband I never expected to have, spending my days changing diapers & doing laundry....lots of laundry.

I'm still growing up & I'm working to make all that head faith a heart reality.  I'm remembering that my God is the same God that I met in college & came to know so intimately after.  He is the same God that led me to a new city when I had no idea what I was in store for.  The same God that brought me the kind of man I could have only dreamed of, and even knowing he's an imperfect man---he is perfect for me.  The same God that chose the timing of our children even in our uncertainty & provided in ways afterward that baffled me.  This God is the same God I believe in now..even in uncertainty, doubt, trials, struggles, & empty bank accounts.

My God is bigger than all of that.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Go Green or Go Broke...

...this title is a little deceptive, as I'm not really a "green" person.  But before you judge me, do know that I make most of my own homeade cleaners & laundry soap, I use cloth napkins, and I never waste foods that can be labeled "dessert"...

I have two children in diapers. While we have tried EVERY brand under the sun…even the store brands, Pampers are the only ones that seem to work well on our kiddos (though we’ve been known to stick a Huggies or Luvs on them as well.) And, while we’re on the subject of brand loyalty, we’re also suckers for Huggies wipes.

If you’ve been around here long enough, you know that I have never paid full price for a package of disposable diapers & while pregnant with Jack, we stocked up using Amazon sales & Amazon gift cards earned through Swagbucks. Shortly before Jack was born, Amazon stopped putting out the wonderful 20% off coupons we had become accustomed to---and while their prices were still cheaper than Wal-Mart, the price of having two in diapers was going to weigh heavy on our bank account.

Knowing that we had a decent stockpile of disposables & wipes to last us a few months, we started seriously considering cloth diapers. We had wanted to start when Lucy was a baby, but had always gotten such great deals on disposables that the initial investment in cloth never made sense. With Pampers averaging .25 a piece, and considering we were changing 16 diapers a day on average, we were looking at spending $132 approximately per month to diaper our kids. Even with Amazon’s Subscribe & Save prices, we were looking at $85 a month….an amount we didn’t have (and still don’t) to spare each month.

We decided we needed to make the most of our current stockpile by stretching them out as much as possible, meaning adding cloth diapers to our life & using disposables only at night, naps, & church activities. We made the commitment together to “give it a shot” and hope for the best. We knew we’d have to get over the “gross” factor pretty quickly & my husband was TOTALLY on board with learning right alongside me!

So, we took the plunge, and a little over a month ago we received our first “fluff” mail…and we haven’t looked back! We have tried almost every kind of cloth diaper out there, including, pockets, all-in-ones (AIO), pre folds, flats, stay-dry inserts inside a cover & more! This past month has been a learning process…and we still have a lot to learn!

There’s the “why” we made the official switch…stay tuned for the “how” & “what” of how this is all working out, which diapers are our favorites, how much extra laundry there REALLY is & how I have grown to love cloth diapers & the subsequent clothesline that they now dry on.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I'm so happy you were born: Cotton Babies Contest

I've hinted around a bit that my husband and I have taken the plunge into cloth diapering.  With Jack's recent arrival...and Lucy still very much in diapers, the cost was just far too much for our pocketbooks (do people still use that term???) for us to keep up with.

Enter cloth diapers.

We've been adding a few items to our stash and have tried pockets, flats, pre-folds, Flips, AIO, etc....Our current favorites are Bum Genius Pockets (we purchased two of these during a "seconds sale"), pre-folds with Thirsties covers & my husband LOVES the Flips!  The details of how cloth is going for us & what this experience has been like will come at a later time (check back later this week!)

And now we REALLY want to be able to add to that stash, courtesy of one fabulous company we've already ordered from.  Cotton Babies is doing a pretty great contest right now, and we have entered to be a part of it.

You have to hurry if you'd like to enter yourself as the deadline is TOMORROW.  See their site for details, but basically...they just want you to spend 250 words detailing why you are happy your child was born.  Narrowing it down to 250 words was the hard part for me.

Here's ours:


I’m glad you were born because you have made life more exciting & refreshing for your Daddy and I. You have taught me the value of perseverance every time I watch you work to figure out a new toy…or when I watch you from a distance as you drag your stroller into the kitchen to reach the counter for a “snack.” You have taught me what it means to be a committed friend every time you search high and low for your stuffed elephant before watching a movie, taking a car trip, or eating lunch. You have taught me not to take myself seriously…and that being covered in mud is FUN. You show me that Monday mornings don’t have to be terrible, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to start dancing to music by 7:00 am. You have shown me that a smile to a stranger can go a long way in brightening their day….and that raising your arms and growling at them like a lion can go even further. You have shown me that money can’t buy happiness, and that you’re most happy playing with toilet paper, cereal boxes & the most recent lint from the dryer. You show me daily that what I think is “important” is always trivial…and that the dishes & laundry will still be there tomorrow, but the current game of peek-a-boo will not. But mostly I’m so glad that you were born because I needed your personality, laughter, kisses, and infectious smile in my life.

So, get your thinking cap on and head on over HERE to enter this contest yourself!

And if you'd like...feel free to mention just how awesome you think we might be on their facebook page.  This by no means earns us anything extra (at least I don't think it does...) But it sure is fun to feel supported!

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Clean up on aisle 4!"

The other day I was determined to make my first trip to the store with both children in tow & only one set of adult hands. I know, it’s pretty pathetic that it’s taken six weeks to even make the attempt, but before Jack, we ran any errands we had on a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon together as a family. Since Jack, we’ve lived on our stockpile & any trips out have been quick ones with my husband….or a last-minute mad dash to the store before dinner, courtesy of my husband.

It was time & I was determined (which is really code for stubborn.) I picked a terrible day to attempt this challenge. Both kids were grumpy, Lucy had refused a nap & lunch. I loaded Jack into his car seat immediately after a feeding & we trudged off to the store anyways. I managed to get both kids and the diaper bag into the cart (which left room for about two canned goods to be purchased…) & we started walking in.

Then it started to sprinkle. I got halfway to the entrance and realized I had put Lucy in a cart without a seatbelt…which wasn’t going to work given her current mood. We got inside and I unloaded both kids & the diaper bag and RE-LOADED them into a new cart. Mrs. B walks five steps…Right about that time Jack starts vomiting in his car seat. My fault for strapping him in right away, but I was trying to make the most of our time between feedings. I wipe him up with a blanket, because by this point the diaper bag is inaccessible. More vomit…then hysterical baby cries….Mrs. B walks faster. About this time the “mommy tears” are on the verge of eruption…but I’m determined not to be “that” mom. (Which is silly, because I clearly am THAT mom…)

I add the first item to our cart…which Lucy abruptly tosses out while I’m looking at something else. I relocate the first item and add it back to the cart. Lucy starts crying then spits out of her pacifier because she thinks I can’t hear the fact that she is crying. Now all of Wal-Mart can hear her crying. Mrs. B keeps shopping and waves to all the adoring fans now staring at the entertainment that she and her two little ones are providing. I grab the rest of the items on my list and I head for the check-out. I price match the items I need, pay the bill & head for the door.

Now I’ve lost my keys. I unload both kids AGAIN, and the items in the cart, and dig through my diaper bag, Jack’s car seat and any other place they could have ran off to. IF people weren’t staring before, they definitely are now… “Oh, hey look…there’s a young mom with two kids screaming…who looks like she’s about to lose it….and why are her grocery sacks scattered all over the floor?”

I locate the keys, load everyone/everything back up and we head for the car. I buckle the kids in, swear I’ll never do that again & head for home. We arrive home, both kids are put to bed and I do what any mother in this situation would do.

I ignore the screaming and eat the last brownie DIRECTLY out of the pan.

…and I make no apologies for it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

these boots were made for walkin'....

Clever, no?  Well, boots aren't really the topic of this post.

See these beauties?  These were picked out amongst hundreds of other options in my quest to find the perfect wedding shoes.  The hunt began right around this time three years ago.  I purchased several options...only to return them after a second glance.  But these shoes made the cut...and today they sit perched on a shelf in my the perfect height for my toddler to grab them and play with.

Like most engaged couples, we struggled with focusing on the fact that we weren't just preparing for a wedding...but for a marriage.  These shoes are just one example where emphasis might have been placed heavily on items that truly had little importance after August 16th, 2008.  On Saturday mornings we'd gather in our Pastor's home and I'd gush over wedding favors, flowers & the invitations...and while our Pastor and his wife were excited along with us, they were also quick to continually remind us that the wedding is one day....and we ought to be pouring more (or at least just as much!) focus into the lifelong commitment we were going to be making.

They were right.

And...we knew that.  Quite honestly I think we did pretty well with the balance.

Something lately has triggered my mind to remember those comments nearly three years ago.  I suppose it's the fact that my daughter takes every opportunity to pull those shoes (and many more) off my shelf and stomp around during the day.  The very fact that I was spending my days pouring over shoe options nearly three years ago, and today I'm searching for the best grocery deals, diaper deals & googl-ing how to remove mud stains from kids clothes....that right there shows how different my life has become.

I had only known my now husband a year (dated 8 months) before I said "I do."  We became pregnant two months later...and on our second anniversary we were celebrating with our one-year old daughter & I was battling morning sickness from baby number two.

We skipped a lot of the newlywed stage...heck, we skipped a lot of the dating stage.  I don't regret it, but it did put us on the "fast track" to dealing with real life.  Baby number one didn't shake our lives up too much, but with baby number two & a toddler fighting for our attention, we're forced to face the facts.

Marriage is beautiful & marriage is HARD.

I love my husband more than I ever could have imagined, but I am a selfish, sinful person that is married to another selfish, sinful person.  We both own that fact....and we are both painfully working through that fact in order to love each other more intentionally & seek God's will for our marriage.  And I'll be honest, there are days that I wish I could return...or at least would have treasured more...the time when finding the perfect wedding shoes was my biggest worry, when sleeping in meant past 10am & when I could go to the bathroom without having an audience.

While those shoes may have brought me down the aisle.. it's God's grace that is bringing me through marriage.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Breastfeeding won't earn me a spot in Heaven & having an epidural won't keep me out...

I’ve been absent lately…or for the last month…but who is counting? I’d make excuses, but there’s no need. My family needs me---and that right there is why my computer gets left closed sometimes for days in a row lately. (Thank goodness for an iphone that still allows me to be “plugged” in for email & facebook while nursing Jack..)

I’d love to say it’s been just peachy here & that we are all well rested and adjusting to a new family member quite well. But that wouldn’t be true, and exhaustion just somehow forces honesty in me…so to be quite candid, it’s been chaos here for the last month.

Total chaos.

We are living in a home that looks like laundry (and my pantry) threw up in it, dealing with a baby who may have colic, reflux or both, trying to love on a toddler who is entering that independent & defiant stage, struggling to find time to nurture our marriage, working on plans to deal with financial burdens, hoping for rest & healing for Jack & myself and mostly just trying to “survive.”

I desire for my husband to be greeted by happy kids, a picked up home & a put-together wife. But most days I’m passing one (or both) kids off in order to clean puke off myself or wipe fresh “mom tears” from my face. Thankfully, he doesn’t have set expectations like I do…or if he does, he isn’t sharing them with me. J

But that brings me back to the point of this post. I, like my most mothers, have to fight against the comparison game every single day. Most of the time I win that battle, because quite frankly, my husband and I are convinced that we are parenting in the ways we know best. But exhaustion sets in & I quickly find myself frustrated, discouraged & often angry that I don’t have it all together, that nursing is a harder road for us than some, that my kids have no idea what a “schedule” is, that I can’t seem to love my husband well “enough”, that my daughter has spent more time watching Word World in the last month than I’ve spent reading books with her, & that despite my best attempts---I’m not, and never will be, June-stinkin’- Cleaver.

And so I fold. Or that’s at least my metaphor at the moment, and honestly, a common theme in my blogging. And not in a “I give up” sort of way, but in a “I’m going to be REAL honest and admit that I can’t do it all, & shouldn’t even try” sort of way. Part of that is recognizing that when I attempt to love my husband & my children relying solely on my own strength that I fail miserably…the other part is knowing that God is faithful to not just help me “survive” through these days…but really thrive through these days.

So, when I see the box of unopened Easter Egg dye because Mommy had an “Oh! Easter is TOMORROW???” moment, or my daughter’s laundry basket full of pj’s only because we never got into “real” clothes at all last week, or when I painfully follow the doctor’s advice and lay my screaming kid down in his crib just so I can have a break….

I remind myself that I’m not being compared in His eyes to the mom down the street that can “do it all.”

I remind myself that my husband loves me, whether or not I’m covered in spit up.

I remind myself that my daughter won’t remember whether or not we dyed easter eggs when she was 21 months old.

I remind myself that I’ll be a better mom when I lay my son down and “take a break”

I remind myself that, it’s ok to cry….and it’s even more ok to be totally real about a situation.

But mostly, I’m working really hard to remind myself that His grace is the ONLY way my husband and I are going to be successful in marriage & successful as parents.

And that might be the hardest reminder of all.