Tuesday, May 29, 2012

and so it ends...

On Sunday I handwashed my last load of flats and covers as part of the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge.

Two things I now know...

1.  I never want to have to handwash another load of any type of clothing...

2.  But, if I had to for the safety and health of my children & to make sure we could put food on our table, I totally would!

The problem I see is that there is little awareness out there about cloth diapers.  There is no major media coverage showcasing what used to be such a natural way of life.  Whether it be the modern style of cloth diapering and the super cute brands like Bum Genius or what I just challenged myself to last week with the "old style" of flats and modern covers, we need to get more awareness.  People of all income levels need to know that this IS a way they could diaper their child and it's not gross and scary like many think.  Frankly, while handwashing wasn't fun---I'd almost rather do that then load my two children under the age of three in the car to head to Wal-Mart, to unload them into a cart at the store, to purchase an overpriced package of diapers that will just be thrown away, to load them back into the car....you get the idea. 

Last week was tough.  Handwashing is hard.  This challenge took it to the extreme to show that this could be a viable option for those really struggling with no access to a washing machine.  To try and get more into what that would be like, I experimented with using old receiving blankets and flour sack towels from wal-mart.  Both worked just fine, though I do prefer my Diaper Rite flats (which if purchased on sale, are only a few cents more).

This challenge made me realize I could handwash, but made me thankful that I have a choice.  Everytime I worked on figuring out a new fold, I wished that there was a wealth of cloth diaper knowledge being passed down to me.  My mother cloth-diapered and when we first showed my parents modern cloth diapers, they were both a little shocked.  But, after giving my dad a flat, he remembered how to fold one in no time!  But, I wish I knew how my grandmothers & even great-grandmothers did it.  I didn't grow up knowing my grandmothers as both had passed away long before I was out of diapers---but I'd like to think if they were around, they'd be showing me how to fold them and telling me stories of how they used to do it.  Moments like these make me realize I'm missing a bit of that legacy....did they bake homemade bread like I'm attempting to learn how to do?  Handwash their clothing?  Make their own baby food?  I'm not sure I'll ever know---and that makes me a little sad.  My mother is full of wisdom and has passed down much of that to me, but how neat would it be to show my 90 year old grandmother cloth diapers with prints of them?  Monkeys on a diaper?!  What a hoot!  :)

Today my washing machine is running and I will be washing my "easy" pocket diapers and all-in-ones that I have come to appreciate more post-challenge.  The plunger and bucket have been retired to the garage for now and a new set of flats is on its way to me---because I've always loved flats, but I have a newfound appreciation for their simplicity.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You're doing what?

I am taking part in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all. You can learn more about the rules and why this challenge was started by visiting Dirty Diaper Laundry's original announcement post.

And after I answer that question...


(I'm a little behind in blogging, but if you visit the above links--you'll find out why this challenge was originally born)

So yes, for 7 days I have committed to using flat cloth diapers (think one giant square piece of fabric, what our grandparents likely used) AND I'm washing them all by hand.  Why am I doing this?  Well, for all the reasons that Dirty Diaper Laundry mentioned...and a few more.

I believe there are choices we get to make as parents.  How we will diaper our children is fortunately one of them.  I've spoke before about our decision to plunge into the cloth diaper world when our youngest was 6 weeks old and we had two in diapers--but for us, the decision was purely financial.  My work-at-home job had recently ended and my husband had not started his part time position.  Thankfully we had a stockpile of disposables, because there was NO money to spare.  We had two children in diapers, little food in the fridge & bills that were running a bit behind.  We bought some flour sack towels from Wal-Mart, a few prefolds & covers and our journey into cloth diapering began.

Today things look better for us, but we are still running a TIGHT budget.  We use many other types of diapers and have slowly built up a pretty fun and eclectic stash over the year.  Not having to shell out a ton of money on disposable diapers has eased that burden greatly.  Bottom line, I know what it is like to face not being able to purchase disposable diapers and wondering what you'll put on your baby. 

Taking this challenge puts me in the position of gratitude.  As I scrub each diaper, I'm gaining perspective.  As I hang each diaper on the line, I'm growing in gratitude.  As I work to figure out a new fold, I'm becoming more resourceful.

I'm taking this challenge to show that there is another way. Yes, it's extreme...but by handwashing the diapers, I'm showing that even those without access to a washing machine COULD cloth diaper. 

I'm also taking this challenge to raise awareness about all the modern cloth diapers available today!  Yes, I'm only using flats---the most simple and cheapest way to cloth diaper----but, there are a variety of very user-friendly cloth diapers on the market.  The longer we cloth diaper, the more thankful I am that we made the switch.  We are saving money, dealing with fewer rashes, supporting small businesses & are putting out FAR less trash.

My little "helper"
For this challenge, we are using Diaper Rite flats, Swaddlebees flats, Hemp Babies doublers (at night), FLIP covers, Palm Tree Covers, Econobum covers, cloth wipes & a "washing machine" made out of a 5 gallon bucket and plunger. We are diapering our 1 year old son full-time & our 2 1/2 year old daughter at naps/nights.

We are three days in and I am so far really enjoying this challenge.  Washing isn't nearly as hard as I imagined it would be and I have a great deal of satisfaction as I hang the diapers to dry on the line. 

Stay tuned to hear more!

Monday, May 21, 2012

oh hi there...

over two months?  that must be a new record for be in the area of being silent.

to sum up the last two months: we're still living on a budget, my kids are still cute/ornery/growing/saying cute things, we are still using cloth diapers/sometimes coupons/price matching/working on being "green". 

but none of those things are things I want to talk about.

here's the thing...sometimes we just need to shut our mouths.

sometimes we need to be quiet enough to allow ourselves an opportunity to invite the wisdom of others into our lives.

sometimes we need to be silent to make room to hear & engage in the stories around us.....especially those painful stories that need more light than my stories of saving money/everyday life does.

These talented women capture what I want to say far better than I ever could.  If you get a chance, get your hands on a copy of "7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" & "Kisses from Katie".

"We aren't called to save the world, not even to save on person; Jesus does that.  We are just called to love with abandon.  We are called to enter into our neighbors' sufferings and love them right there."
-Kisses from Katie

"As I reduce, He is enough.  As I simplify, He is enough.  He is my portion where clothes and comfort fall woefully short.  He can heal me from greed and excess, materialism and pride, selfishness and envy."

"Heaven is coming fast, and we live in that thin space where faith and obedience have relevance.  We have this one life to offer; there is no second chance, no Plan B for the good news.  We get one shot at living to expand the kingdom, fighting for justice.  We'll stand before Jesus once, and none of our luxuries will accompany us.  We'll have one moment to say, "This is how I lived.""

"I am commissioned to be a light, but I can't illuminate this world while competing with the light of others...when one of us shines it is a community victory.  If we all lived radiantly we simply couldn't be hidden andy longer.  This is not about individual wattage; our power is communal, or it is meaningless."
-Jen Hatmaker, "7"

Well put, ladies, well put.  If I could legally copy and paste the entire books here, I would....they are being THAT transformational in our lives. 

We're gaining perspective...or continuing to gain perspective.  We're listening more.  We're desiring to be agents of change.  We are taking radical steps of obedience. We want to right some major wrongs. We want to step outside our comfort zones.  We want to stop complaining about our petty problems.  We want to "walk the walk".  We want to share our lives with others.  We want to go against the grain.  We're recognizing again and again just how much it's "not about us". We  want to open up our homes and hearts and love like we were told to do.

And we want to encourage others to do the same.