Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting less carniverous

John gets crazy ideas.  Good ideas, but crazy ideas.

For the first two weeks of Lent this year he gave up refined sugars.  The only sweetener he was using for himself was honey (except on Sundays!).  I think if I had been more supportive (read sacrificing some of my lifestyle full of chocolate mug cakes and stress eating), he would have gone on longer.  Even though no one in the family is reading food labels that closely anymore, those two weeks gifted us with a new awareness of different kinds of sweeteners and amazing refined-sugar-free homemade bread.  That John bakes fresh.  Every week.

ready for the oven
Yah, even if we weren't Catholic, divorce wouldn't be in our future.

Back to the point.  Given this background it wasn't very surprising when John looked at me one evening and asked "you want to give up meat for two weeks starting tomorrow?"

This idea didn't exactly come out of the blue.  We've always known animals raised for massive meat distribution are usually raised in poor conditions, fed junk, and as a result require more junk (medicines) to keep them healthy.  You get out what you put in, just like humans.  John recently showed me a video from Chipotle's website on the topic and since then I've been thinking about moving not towards a meat-free diet, but one that opts for meat from animals raised a smarter, more natural way.  As a side effect, Chipotle has also superseded Moe's on my list of favorite places to get a burrito fast.  Which is a big deal since we had Moe's cater our wedding.

Chosing naturally raised meat has a downside though, one that has prevented us from taking the leap -- its more expensive and takes more effort to locate.  Hence our interest in adding meat-free dishes to our cooking repertoire.

So, I hummed and hawed and we didn't do it, but I did make the conscious decision to eat more vegetarian meals.  For the next four days I didn't eat any meat at all.  I substituted with Tofu, beans and peanut butter.  Shockingly, I didn't really miss the meat.

Recently I decided to choose vegetarian options when we go out.  We still make vegetarian dishes at home too.  I'm kind of enjoying it.  Its forced us to be creative in the kitchen and the results have been tasty and generally well accepted by our children.  Since they aren't huge fans of meat anyway the dishes tend to be more to their liking, especially those with black beans.  They will devour some black beans.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Night-time Cloth Diapering

This blog post was written as part of the Real Simple, Real Diapers Blog Hop celebrating Real Diapers Week, Apr 16th-21st, 2012.

Nothing pees with quite the frequency and volume of a 3 month old who just figured out how to nurse while asleep.

By 2.5 months old Johnny was technically 'sleeping through the night' (no matter what the pediatrician says, sleeping 6 hours is not 'sleeping through the night').  It was kind of nice because I could get a decent amount of sleep, feed him, change him, feed him some more and fall back asleep.  Eventually he stretched out a few more hours until we got to a point where he would cry a bit, I would get him in bed with me, he would latch, and we both would go back to sleep.  Dropping the middle of the night diaper change meant he started soaking through his diapers though.  I liked not getting out of bed in the middle of the night, but I wasn't a fan of waking up in a puddle of baby pee so I needed a solution.

After lots of experimenting we came up with 4 excellent solutions:

1.  Extra deep liner + gpant + 3 inserts = great if you already use gDiapers

My sleeping angel LOVES his lion.  And a dry bed.
Totally not 3 mos in this pic.
We use gDiapers most of the time during the day.  Johnny really needed 3 inserts to make it through the night, which was 10 hours for him.  Thankfully Fashionably Green Baby had just the solution for me!  She makes extra deep snap-in liners to use with the gpant that will hold 3 extra thick inserts.  The liners are made of PolyUrethane Laminate (or PUL) and wrapped with fold over elastic (FOE) so they are very durable.  We still use these today and have been very pleased with them for overnight.  Bonus: the liners we got were blue so when we leave Johnny with a babysitter at bedtime we just have to tell them that the blue liner is for night-time.

2.  GAD pocket semi-fitted + 3 inserts + snappi + Covered Caboose wool soaker = excellent for REALLY heavy wetters or rash prone babies

Even though things were going great with the Fashionably Green Baby liners I had an itching to try some other overnight solutions.  I had heard amazing things about wool and happened to find a couple Covered Caboose one size side snapping wool soakers marked down so I jumped on them.  I picked up some used Green Acre Designs one size pocket semi-fitteds and a few snappis to go with the wool soaker.  I was able to stuff the semi-fitteds with three inserts and that held my son all night.  If he did leak through the semi-fitted, the wool soaker kept our bed dry.  Using this combination we have never had a leak.  Ever.

Johnny's overnight Christmas set including fitted and
wool footies that he wears all the time.
Bonus about wool: I only have to wash the covers every couple weeks.  Washing is simple.  I put 1-2 gal of warm water in a bucket, add 1-2tsp Eucalan wool wash with lanolin, add the soaker, squeeze, let sit for 15 minutes, then squeeze out the water and hang dry.
Also, wool breathes very well so it is excellent for rash prone babies.  If Johnny ever has a rash at bed time I put him in a fitted with a wool soaker and it is usually gone in the morning.

3.  GAD pocket semi-fitted + 3 inserts + snappi + wool pants/footies = excellent for REALLY heavy wetters, rash prone babies, and if you're having trouble putting on PJ bottoms over the semi-fitted and soaker.

The only downside was Johnny's PJs didn't always fit over the semi-fitted with the wool cover.  Plus putting on a semi-fitted, then a wool cover, THEN PJs was time consuming and frustrating with a wriggly baby.  As the weather got colder around Christmas I decided to experiment with making some wool footies to use instead of the wool covers.  I picked up some wool interlock from Natures Fabrics and some cute patterned fleece for the feet.  I modified the Katrina's longies pattern to add feet, used puff paint to add some grip to the feet, and ta-da!  It works just as well as the wool cover and keeps him toasty.  If you'd rather buy some pre-made, there are lots of great options on Etsy.

4.  Swaddlebees EcoNappi + both inserts that come with it + maybe another insert? = simple one-step solution for older/bigger babies and very babysitter friendly

We use this diaper for daytime too because it is
irresistably cute. 
While all of these are great options, wool covers, snappis, and fitteds can be difficult to explain to a babysitter who has possibly never seen a cloth diaper before.  I like to keep things simple for our sitters so I tried several different pocket diapers for bedtime.  While many worked great during the day, if I stuffed them with the three inserts Johnny needed at night, they would gape at the legs.  Then I came across the Swaddlebees Econappi.  It comes with 2 inserts that are both 2 layers of bamboo fleece.  One is meant for young infants and is folded in half for 4 layers.  The second is for older infants and toddlers and is folded in thirds for six layers.  Together they provide 10 layers of bamboo fleece which is enough to hold Johnny through the night.  Since the diaper is designed to hold both the inserts at once it doesn't gape and it holds Johnny all night!

Hopefully this will give you some ideas for cloth diapering your own heavy wetter at night.  It can be done, but you might have to try something completely different from your daytime system.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cloth Diapering and Saving $$ Without a Washing Machine

Real Simple Reap Diapers Blog Hop
This blog post was written as part of the Real Simple, Real Diapers Blog Hop celebrating Real Diapers Week, Apr 16th-21st, 2012.

When you're on a budget you're sometimes limited in the decisions you get to make.  Take for instance when we were looking for a new apartment two years ago and we really really really wanted an in unit washer and dryer.  Like a lot.  Unfortunately that was not in the cards.  Our apartment complex did have coin-operated washers and dryers on site, but $1.25 per load adds up quick.  This wasn't a huge concern until I started considering cloth diapering our second child.  We had done the math when Izzy was on the way and discovered that using coin-operated machines to wash our diapers would make cloth diapering more expensive than using disposable diapers.

Each load in the washer and dryer cost $1.25 ea.  So if we only ran one load of 30 diapers once through the washer it would cost 8 cents per diaper change.  In practice we found we needed to run two loads of diapers through the washer so it cost 12.5 cents per diaper change.  That's already getting pretty close to the cost of low-end disposables.

Long story short, I don't give up easy.  I had resigned myself to disposable diapering Izzy, but I decided we would do things differently with Johnny.  I did the math again and found that even using coin-operated machines, we could break even on our cloth diapers if we diapered Izzy and Johnny from the time Johnny was born until both potty-trained (I guessed 3 years for potty-training).  To help boost savings we invested in some drying racks.

After Johnny was born and we were fully invested in cloth diapering, we found that the coin-operated machines weren't cutting it.  I had to rinse all the diapers beforehand in the bathtub and had to run a second cycle to ensure all the detergent was getting rinsed out.  Even so, our diapers didn't smell clean and our kids started getting rashes.  Boo!

I was ready to give up on the washers but I wasn't ready to give up on cloth diapering so I set out to the great internet encyclopedia to learn about hand-washing cloth diapers.  A year later I'm still hand-washing Johnny's diapers. The savings have been tremendous and it provides great guilt fodder for the teenage years ;).  We cloth diapered Izzy for 6-9 months after Johnny was born and Johnny is coming up on 15 months in cloth diapers.  If you include everything we bought to cloth diaper -- inserts, covers, wet bags, small wet bags for out and about, snappis, drying racks, our hand washer, clothespins, cloth wipes, and splurge diapers -- we've probably spent ~$600 for almost two years' of diapers (and we still have 1.5+ years to go!).  We spent about $1000 on disposable diapers the 18 months Izzy was in disposable diapers.  That's not even counting disposable wipes and rash cream.

The crazy thing is we could have spent less on cloth diapers than we did.  Prefolds and covers are a wonderfully cheap and versatile option, but we were intimidated by them.  They really aren't as scary as they look though.  Because of how frequently I wash diapers (once a day), we could have opted for a much smaller stash too (1/3 the size).

This May we are moving into a house with a washer and dryer finally!  I am not going to miss hand washing our diapers, but I don't regret it one bit either.  I learned a lot in that year and have compiled it all into a small book on hand-washing to hopefully make the information more accessible.  Feel free to pass this along to a friend (or five!) in electronic or print form!

Handwashing Cloth Diapers (no pictures)

Handwashing Cloth Diapers (with pictures)

Monday, April 16, 2012

(Modern) Cloth Diapering 101

Real Simple Real Diapers Blog Hop
This blog post was written as part of the Real Simple, Real Diapers Blog Hop celebrating Real Diapers Week, Apr 16th-21st, 2012.

In case you missed it in my previous post, prefolds, pins, and rubber pants are kind of out-dated.  There are some people who still use prefolds and pins for diapering, but I haven't heard of anyone who uses rubber pants today (my mom and MIL sure did though!).  I think the #1 use for Gerber prefolds today are as burp cloths though and most pins have been relegated to *usually and ironically disposable* diaper cake decorations and other crafts.  

So what do you use instead?  

That is a dangerous question.

AIOs, AI2s, snappis, fitteds, flats, semi-fitteds, OS, hybrids, PUL covers, wool covers, WI2s, AI3s, pockets, liners, prefolds, semifolds, QSFW, SWQSFW (for real), woolies, skirties, shorties, longies, footies, fleece, bamboo inserts, microfiber inserts, hemp inserts, cotton inserts, stay dry inserts, doublers... its as dizzying as learning a programming language or trying to follow a basketball game (the latter of which I will never be able to do unless it is 1/2 speed -- hence my love for football).

I could sit here and regurgitate all the wonderful information available on the web in my own words... or I could give you links to them and some words of encouragement.  For sanity's sake I will give you links and encouragement.  First the encouragement.

1.  If you want to cloth diaper, you can cloth diaper.  Shoot, I didn't even have a washing machine and I made it work.  Don't let anything stop you.
2.  If you only use one cloth diaper a day, a week, or a month, you are making a difference.  In fact, you are a hero.  So don't ever feel like you have to go all or none for any reason.

Glossary Wondering what that word salad above means?
Padded Tush Stats provides an excellent cloth diaper glossary that is constantly growing with new submissions.
Dirty Diaper Laundry has a wonderful list with some pictures too!  Surf the rest of their site for more info about cloth diapers and reviews.

Washing Diapers
It can be done.  Just Add Cloth has a good overview.
I'll be posting later in the week about how I wash cloth diapers.

Blogs About Cloth Diapers (a few)
The Cloth Diaper Whisperer has regular posts from many different cloth diapering parents
The Cloth Diaper Geek is fun to read and I personally find solidarity with other geeky moms.

Other Online Resources
The Real Diaper Association of course!  They have some great resources on their website to get you started.

Local Resources
If you live in the Midlands of South Carolina, check out Carolina Cloth.  Leslie, the owner, will even meet with you so you can see modern cloth diapers in person.
Live somewhere else?  Start snooping your town!  Search the Real Diaper Association directory for a cloth diaper circle near you.  You can also search and Facebook for local cloth diapering groups.  Ask fellow parents and babysitters if they know anyone who used/uses cloth.  You will be surprised what you will find, and being able to talk face to face with a person is invaluable.