Cloth diapers: the winner is…

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Well… if you take the money factor out of it, there’s a tie: GroVia Hybrids and TotsBots All-in-Ones!

Gro-via.com

Gro-via.com

However, since one of the major attractions of cloth diapering is to save money, GroVia is my hands-down choice for cloth diapers. In fact, since I last blogged about it, I went ahead and purchased enough to last us 2.5 days – Earth Day was last week and the sales helped me with my purchases. And with the exception of one child, one night* – we’ve been fully cloth diapering since Sunday morning. As a testament to how awesome these diapers are, we’ve had zero leaks, even at night (I was worried, but my worries have so far been unfounded).

Later I’ll briefly describe why I didn’t go with the others that I ordered, but for now I’ll give you a run-down on GroVia.

So, what did I buy? Here’s the list:

GroVia Part Time package – 6 shells and 12 organic cotton soakers
4 Kiwi Pie fitted diapers
– 2 additional stay-dry soaker sets (4 soakers total)
– 2 stay dry booster sets (4 total)
– one pack of 12 terry cloth wipes
– 2 packs of size 3 prefolds (6 total)
California Baby diaper area wash

In addition to the above, I already had one shell and two stay-dry soakers. I posted about my “stash” on BabyCenter’s Cloth Diaper forum and quickly discovered they didn’t think I had enough, so I panicked and bought 7 more stay-dry soakers, 3 organic cotton soakers, and 4 more shells off Craigslist. The stay-dry soakers were in great shape, but the shells and organic cotton soakers were not what the seller described, but we’ll still make use of them.

Anyway, what that gives me is a total of  11 shells,  28 soakers, 6 prefolds and 4 fitted diapers. I haven’t needed the prefolds (thought I’d need them for overnights), so essentially 32 diaper changes gets us through 2.5 days with the three kids (oldest only uses 2 changes, nap and nighttime). I end up using one shell/day for my oldest, 2-3 for my middle child, and 1-2 for our youngest – 6 has been our max for a day.

Wow, there are a lot of numbers above! And lots of different cloth diaper terms! I’m hoping to post later with descriptions of some of these terms, but as this blog wasn’t supposed to be a solely cloth diaper blog, I don’t want to bombard everyone with the info all at once.

* My husband was in a hurry to get the kiddos ready for bed, and when one of them had a number 2 in her freshly changed diaper, he said “forget it!” and put a disposable on her. So it had nothing to do with the cloth diapers!

Who am I?

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Recently, my “paying” job required me to learn a new skill to complete a project. I wasted no time in getting the appropriate materials and going through the training – I don’t want to become irrelevant at my job; I need to stay current with my skills!

That got me to thinking about being a parent. Some days, particularly after reading about horrible things happening around the world – school shootings, bombings, murders, rapes, etc – I am so incredibly struck by the immense responsibility that we have as parents. Yes, I know that sometimes it doesn’t matter what we do as parents – we don’t have complete (or sometimes even much) say in who our children become.

But there are plenty of studies that show how parents and those closest to children are the biggest influences on who they grow up to be. If we’re such an important influence on our children, shouldn’t it be a priority to learn as much as I can about how to be a good parent? And to practice it daily?

So why is it so much easier for me to stay current with my skills for my job as a consultant than it is to sit down and read up on parenting?

Yes, some of it has to do with money. If I don’t keep up with my skills, I may lose my job and therefore part of my family’s income. But the thought occurred to me that it could also be because I’ve never considering being a parent as a “job” or a “career.”

Maybe thinking of it that way gives being a parent more of a negative connotation – some of us may think about how we dread getting up in the morning and going to work, and we don’t want to think of dreading spending time with our children. (Let’s be honest… we all have days where we probably would rather stay in bed than deal with a tantrum-throwing toddler!)

But what about looking at parenting as being a “job” for more of growth aspects of it. I spend time learning skills to be a better web developer – why wouldn’t/shouldn’t I be spending time learning skills to be a better parent? Obviously I was never  a parent before my first was born… and I’ve never been a parent to a 3 year old until a month ago.

I feel like I had great examples with my own parents, but all kids are different and the world is a constantly changing place. In the same way that there are new technologies in my job to deal with every day – there are new  issues parents have to deal with today that my parents may not have ever even thought about when I was a child.

So then the issue for me becomes time. There’s always the war for my time between my family and my job. And you know what? Probably neither of them get the amount of attention they should be getting.

Would it be better for one of them (my family, obviously) to get all the attention, than for both of them to get less than what’s required? And really, would it be so bad if I answered someone’s question of “Who are you?” with a simple:  “I’m a mom!”?

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

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The Guinness World Records Diaper Changing Challenge – The Great Cloth Diaper Change – was today. I’ve heard of this in the past but hadn’t ever paid much attention. This year it happened to coincide with my latest cloth diapering experiment, so I signed us up and told my husband last night that we were all going – lucky him!

Great Cloth Diaper Change 2013

Great Cloth Diaper Change 2013

So what is this, exactly? Basically just a way to spread word about cloth diapering and get your name in the record books. The object was to change your child from cloth to cloth, or from a disposable diaper into a cloth diaper, at 11am in your local time zone. You had to be at the event to qualify.

I didn’t realize this was such a big event – as of April 2nd, 285 hosts had registered to hold world record events in 17 countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, Germany, Spain, Finland, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and the US. That’s a lot of places – and our location had over 700 people registered!

The closest location to us was only a 20 minute drive, and was in a shopping center, so it wasn’t exactly a hardship – we made it into a family outing and won a few things too!  We were one of the lucky families to receive $100 towards Photography by Heidi Marie and two “5-in-1” diapers from Rock-a-Bums.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to participate in the actual diaper changing event because my 14-week-old son, who I signed up with, happened to be very happily asleep in his Infantino Sync wrap. I might have woken him for this special occasion, but he’s fighting off a bug right now and I wanted him to get his rest. However, it was kind of fun to be off on the sidelines and see all the different kinds of cloth diapers people were using, and have the opportunity to take a few pictures in the process.

Cloth diapers: back at it… maybe?

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Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

One thing I’ve learned over the last three years? Cloth diapering is not for everyone… and even if it IS for you, sometimes it’s just not feasible.

With our oldest, after a chemical burn from Pampers, our daycare center director actually suggested we try cloth. They’d seen it all, she said – and with a few additional steps it would be sanitary enough for daycare. I shopped around for different disposables… no way I was going to do cloth (even though the thought had been firmly planted in my brain… I just couldn’t seem to keep it out of my mind). I was never able to find anything that fit or kept the messes in the way I wanted, so I did some research on cloth and thought I’d give it a try.

This, by the way, was at a time when I did laundry every two weeks… tops. Yes, we all had enough clothes to get us two weeks just fine!

My first trial was with gDiapers. I found out pretty quick that my daughter was a very heavy wetter, and these were not a good option for us, at least not with the cloth inserts marketed for use with the diapers. I’m not super handy with a sewing machine, nor do I know anything about fabric, so  making my own was out of the question at the time.

I ended up finding someone through our local Craigslist who helped me out by showing me a bunch of different kinds of diapers. I made the switch to SoftBums, and thought things were going to be great. I loved them,  my daughter seemed to like them… but daycare did not. Every day I would arrive to a bag with 2-3 different very wet outfits, and my daughter in one of the spare daycare outfits. I never had leak issues at home, but the modifications needed for daycare either made the diapers too difficult to get on properly, or were the cause of the leaking altogether.

I pretty much stopped cloth diapering after that, because it was obvious it was not a good thing for daycare, and doing it only at home wasn’t getting me enough diapers to wash every day, or even every other day… and WOW do those things stink if you wait more than two days to wash!

Throughout the next year and a half, I tried a few different brands, but basically ended up selling off my stash and deciding cloth diapering just wasn’t for us. The funny thing was though, info about the chemicals in disposables keeps popping up randomly every time I get ok with them… and in between, the smell drives me nuts!

Now, however – I work from home. I have a wonderful nanny who isn’t opposed to trying out cloth. We live in a different home with main floor laundry and a shiny new washer/dryer set. I also tend to do laundry every other day, minimum. Most of the time I do at least a load a day. Oh yeah, and now you can use Tide on cloth diapers (probably always could, but the word was that you shouldn’t).

After doing a bit of side work and getting paid in $150 of gift cards, I’ve decided to do a bit of a cloth diaper trial with my son. I did a ton of research and purchased $157 (slightly over budget!) worth of diapers from Amazon and eBay, and I’m actually pretty excited to get them tomorrow! Here’s what I ordered:

GroVia Hybrid
Best Bottom Shell/overnight inserts
Tiny Tush Elite 2.0
Bummis TotsBots Easy Fit
Thirsties Duo All-in-One
Ones & Twos All-in-One
BabyKicks Basic pocket diaper

I also have a couple Charlie Banana one-size pocket diapers left over from before, and purchased a BumGenius Freetime and Swaddlebees Simplex diaper a couple months ago – so overall I have 10 different kinds to try out. I’m not sure if I’ll have enough info for a review of each one separately, but I’m hoping to at least post about some of the things I was trying to find out about these diapers while doing my research – things you can find if you get to see the diapers before buying (not always an easy thing to do with cloth diapers).

What will you do today?

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What we do today makes a difference in tomorrow. Yeah, it sounds a bit corny and even cliché – but I really believe it’s true – from every-day-little-things to the big-you’re-a-hero kinds of acts.

We saw a lot of those hero acts yesterday in Boston. That’s all I really want to say about what happened yesterday – it was terrible but a lot of good showed through the bad, and that’s what we should focus on. Let law enforcement focus on getting whoever did this, and our courts can focus on bringing justice.

Just as important as those hero acts are the little things we do every day. I’m reminded of this daily with my children – slip up once with a word you don’t want them repeating, and you’ll be hearing it for a week or so until the novelty dies down! This is just a trivial example; however, small things add up. It’s a heavy weight of responsibility as a parent!

We can see examples everywhere of people focusing on themselves. Drive down any highway and you’re likely to see someone texting or distracted in some other way while they’re driving. Social media tends to be filled with people making status updates complaining about something. Commercials on television are constantly trying to convince us to buy a product to make us look better, smell better, do-something-better.

So before I get lost in thinking about how horrible it seems  humanity is becoming… I want to make a point to every day think of at least ONE thing I can do to make tomorrow (or even today) better for someone else – and I want to involve my children in it so they learn to do the same thing. One thing shouldn’t be too hard, right?

What will you do today?

The Wonder Weeks

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Have you ever come across a book or web site that sheds light on some aspect of your life? I found that in The Wonder Weeks. In my case, it turned out to be an iPhone (iPod) app, but there’s also a web site and a book you can get if those are your preferred methods of getting information.

The Wonder Weeks

The Wonder Weeks

What is The Wonder Weeks? Well, it’s a great source of information about what your baby goes through developmentally in the first year of life, and can explain why somethings things seem to be going so smoothly and then all the sudden your baby is super fussy, clingy, and won’t sleep well for a few days. Not all growth spurts are physical – this app details the mental growth spurts, or leaps, that happen in the first year.

As an example, my son is currently 13.5 weeks old. This app bases the leaps off of the age your baby would be if they were born on their due date, so that would put my son at 10.5 weeks. As I’ve been following the app, I’ve noticed instead of being 3 weeks behind, he’s hitting these leaps about 2 weeks behind – so I’m going to go with 11.5 weeks – we’ll see if he continues to follow that pattern.

So what does that mean for him right now? That means he’s coming up on the leap called “Smooth Transitions“- and the best description of this comes from the Wonder Weeks web site: “Your baby’s world is becoming a more organized place as he discovers the constant, flowing changes around him.” Physically, his movements are becoming less jerk-y/robotic looking, and more fluid and purposeful. He’s also noticing changes in things – like changes in voice pitch, or the lightness and dimness of different rooms.

I’ve been so fascinated to follow along with this app with my two girls and now again starting over with my son because it’s been so accurate at showing what’s coming next, what to expect behavior-wise, and also giving tips on what activities can help them with these transitions. I’ve recommended the app to many of my friends with new babies, and the feedback has been super positive, so I wanted to share it here too!

No canned tomatoes… so, then what?

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Since canned tomatoes are one of the products that has the highest amounts of BPA (due to the acidity of the tomatoes, more lining is necessary on the cans), they were one of the first things I got rid of out of my cupboard. As someone who didn’t have a ton of experience in the kitchen, but tended to use a lot of canned tomatoes in what I did cook, this was without a doubt the hardest part about getting rid of BPA for me.

Just as an example, here are a few of the “staple” meals in our house before I began this journey:

– Chili (stewed tomatoes)
– Goulash (diced tomatoes &  tomato paste)
– Spanish rice-a-roni (diced tomatoes)

So, what are the options if you don’t use canned tomatoes?

Fresh tomatoes – this would be ideal, right? Garden fresh (or grocery store fresh) tomatoes for all meals requiring tomatoes. Except… who has time to blanch, skin, and slice tomatoes before making a meal that would otherwise only take 15-20 minutes to make?  This was not an ideal solution for me – I tend to decide what I’m cooking about 5 minutes before start. Besides, fresh tomatoes aren’t always the best year-round.

BPA-free cans – Muir Glen, a General Mills family product, announced in 2010 that they’d be switching to BPA-free cans for their tomatoes “at the next harvest.” In 2011 I came across an article that pointed to these being in stores. I apparently don’t shop at stores that carry this brand, as the only time I’ve ever seen them was when I was working at the General Mills headquarters and I stopped by their on-site store. One thing that makes me nervous about these is that they still have to be lined with something due to the acidity of the tomatoes. Muir Glen/General Mills, as far as I know, haven’t provided info on what they’re lining the cans with now.

Alternate commercial packaging – jarred tomatoes and tomatoes in cartons (or Tetra Pak) are the two options I found here. Both are surprisingly hard to come by. In fact, I have never seen either option at Target or Walmart. I did find tomatoes in cartons on Amazon from Pomi. The downside to these is that they’re expensive, and they don’t come in the traditional sizing that canned tomatoes are in, so you have to plan a bit when following a recipe. I also haven’t been able to find them locally. The company seems pretty committed to providing a quality, BPA-free tomato product, and so far they’ve got an A+ in my  book.

Stewed tomatoes

Stewed tomatoes

Home canned (jarred) tomatoes – my mom and I canned about 40lbs of tomatoes this past fall. My mom has canned many times, but this was my first time participating as an adult. It wasn’t the most awesome experience ever, but it also wasn’t horrible, and I’ll be doing it again this fall – hopefully with home-grown tomatoes. We made stewed tomatoes and tomato soup. Besides the time and effort needed for this, a downside again is that the jars aren’t the typical sizes called for in recipes. I am aware that the lids of these jars contain BPA, but since I personally canned them, I know that the tomatoes didn’t touch the lids. There are BPA-free lids that can be used, but from the research I’ve done, I want to be a bit more experienced with canning before I use them.

Frozen tomatoes – this is an option I need to explore a bit more. Though my freezers are currently close to capacity (some organization would likely help!), the convenience of having tomatoes in the freezer might even be worth adding another freezer.

So – there are definitely options if you decide to get rid of the cans in your home. As you can see from my descriptions, I use several options together – sometimes certain options work better for a recipe than others. It’s all pretty much trial and error – hopefully this post will eliminate some of the error for others!