Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snips, Snails, & Pretty Pigtails: Gabriel

This boy of ours...

...is a thoughtful, ever-observant little boy. He takes it all in. And keeps it to himself.


He has grand ideas, which he quietly goes about bringing to fruition. (Let's just say...there's almost always a mess involved.)


And then he surprises us with excessive silliness, wild, wacky rough-housing, even singing!


It's enough to wear anybody out. Good thing he's a marathon napper.


He's a sweetheart who really doesn't see the big deal when it comes to the whole TALKING scene.


Talking. It's so
yesterday.

And if it were up to him, he'd NEVER come inside, and there would be an endless supply of push toys and ride-on toys. As long as there were wheels involved, he'd be happy. (And don't forget the dirt.)


One thing is certain: God gave him those dimples so I'd give him cookies and forgive him for
destroying things in redecorating my home.


Current Gabe facts: He's putting two words together a lot now. "Yeah, Momma." "No, Mommy." "Hi, Ash," "Bye, Daddy." A few new words are "dough" (as in play dough), "apple," "juice," and "Wendy." And he takes such good care of his baby brother. If Atticus gets hurt, Gabe is the first one to get to him and give him hugs or pats or kisses or all of the above. And besides the time he put a pecan shell on Atticus's lunch tray and Atticus decided to give it a try and scare me half to death by NOT BREATHING!! well, he's a pretty doggone good big brother.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doing the Diaper Thing

Well, I've written about cloth wipes and diaper liners and I've written about gDiapers, so now I'm going to try to give an overview of my life as a cloth-diapering mama...because

1) one day I will most likely forget all the ins-and-outs of diapering this way.
2) several people recently have approached me for advice on the matter, so I'm going to do what I can to shed some light on this very ethereal way of life. Ha!

Let's see. The day begins with a diaper change, as well it should. THIS is the hardest one all day for me (and Daddy!!!). Because something about a baby sleeping 11-12 hours in the very same diaper (one withOUT perfumes!) just creates a very noxious odor (thank you, Ammonia Build-up)! I swear you'll think you might could pass out if you don't hold your breath as much as possible. And I don't know about yours, but my babies??? They wet. a. lot.

Once my fave all-night diaper (Bumgenius 3.0) has been properly dumped (inserts emptied out first, laundry tabs secured) into my WAHM-made wet bag, I will commence to wiping. This is the one and only time (with exception of any dirty diaper changes) I will wipe the babies all day (using my wipe solution and cloth wipes). I'm going to bring this up again because I've had people ask me, and even though I posted a link before, I can't expect that everyone actually clicked that link. So...did you know that the acid in a baby's urine and his/her skin are actually the same pH level? And that every time you wipe your baby, you are changing the skin's natural pH? And that doing that (constantly changing their skin's pH) is BAD for their skin?? It is ASKING for rashes, yeast infections, and/or soreness! Seriously, it is NOT necessary (or even acceptable) to break out the wipes each and every time you change a diaper!! And while I'm on the subject of preventative care, it is ALSO not acceptable to put diaper creams, etc. on as preventative measures against rashes. PLEASE! All you're doing when you do that is "teach" baby's skin that it doesn't have its own built-in protection. It becomes accustomed to--reliant on, even--all that "goop" full of man-made chemicals. And then it can't fight off problems on its own. Also, constantly coating their skin makes it so that the skin can't "breathe." Think natural. Think back off and let things alone. Okay, that's said.

At this point, I usually put Sweet Baby in a regular diaper cover


with a cotton prefold inside.


I do not FOLD my
prefolds around my baby and do all the fancy tucks, etc. or use diaper pins (or Snappis). I simply fold my prefold diaper in thirds and LAY it in the diaper cover.



The whole thing then just goes on like a normal diaper would. Like
this...

Now. SOMEtimes I'll use THIS fold...




and use diaper pins and actually not put a cover on them. I usually only do this if all the covers are dirty or just not dry yet or if I know I'm just doing a quick change and that I will be back to do another one within an hour. Like if baby is dirty right before dinner. I might just do a quick cloth diaper with pins, no cover; feed baby dinner; and then go get him ready for bed. He would have only wet one time most likely, and a good cotton diaper will absorb that just fine with no need for a cover. (Mind you, I wouldn't put any clothes on over it because they would definitely get damp.)

Anyway, speaking of pins and Snappis...I tried Snappis. I like them because they go on quickly and can be adjusted to tighten or loosen the diaper around the baby as you are diapering, BUT you MUST use them with a diaper cover...because they are removable by baby and they are SHARP!! (So that annoys me.) Another problem is that they don't last forever. You're supposed to discard and replace them after a few months, I think. AND you have to rinse them each time they get wet, which is EVERY time. For me, I just found they were unnecessary to my life. They are not needed at all if you just fold the prefold into thirds and place it inside the cover the way I usually do. As I stated above, I DON'T do all that traditional folding if I'm just going to put a cover on. "Why?" you ask.

Well. For one thing, here's what I noticed when I would do that: The diaper would be wrapped all the way around, so when it became very wet...it would soak to all areas. And then I'd have to touch! (bleh!!) that very soaked diaper because the Snappi would have to be removed. I just got to where I couldn't see ANY reason for doing it THAT way. Really. Can you see why just laying the prefold in the cover is more efficient and less yucky? When I take the diaper off, I just grab the OUTSIDE of the cover with the diaper inside, take it to the wet bag, and dump the inside stuff. The cover can usually be reused. And my hands stay clean. It's way easier, quicker, and cleaner. (But that's just me.)

I usually try to air out the cover I've just removed, so if you come to my house...you'll most likely see diaper covers hanging on the front of the changing table like so:


Okay now. Covers I use.

1) I have a few Proraps. They work well. They are just plain white, the inside of which eventually turns to a nasty chartreuse (nah...that's too nice...maybe more of a dingy brown-egg sort of color) after being in contact with bodily fluids and then being washed multiple times. But they are definitely economical at about $9.00 a cover. Downsides to these would be that they are sized, so you'll need to get different sizes as baby grows (of course, this is the case with most all diaper covers). Also, they are not cute and they have Velcro tabs, which will eventually give out, I'm sure.


2) I have two
Bummis wraps. One is the Whisper Wrap (pictured at the very beginning of this post), one is the Super Bright (below). These are CUUUUTE covers!! Two probs, though. The way they fasten in front (with the Velcro) doesn't quite work after the baby has been wearing it a while. I haven't figured out the physics of what's going wrong, but things seem to slide around in such a way that the waistband where the Velcro lies starts rubbing on and scratching up the baby's belly. That's not good! I was always having to keep an eye on it so we wouldn't get uncomfortable. Prob #2 is that BOTH of my Bummis wraps have lost ALL their Velcro stickiness. It's really weird. I purchased these at the same time as the Pro-raps, the gDiapers, and the Bumgenius diapers I own, and everything else seems to be doing fine in the Velcro department, while THESE are no good to me anymore (at least until I get some more Velcro tabs and sew them on. Hmmm...when might I get around to that?!).

3) I have one Litewrap. I HATE it. First of all, it is OVER-SIZED!!!!!!!!!! Gabriel at two and a half years old still doesn't fill it out. (I'm thinking maybe when he's four.) I use it ONLY for Gabriel at his nap time. It hasn't leaked, but I think that probably has more to do with my very absorbent prefolds and less to do with a well-made, well-fitting diaper cover. I have to remember to remove it immediately after he wakes up...or else it will be sagging to his ankles. And I really wish that was an exaggeration. Also, the Velcro on it has NEVER been nice and sticky. They have a set of snaps for extra security, but there's no adjusting them so your kid would have to have a 30-inch waist for them to be of any help. Yeah...don't get this brand.

4) I have two Imse Vimse covers. These are plain white and actually seem to stay that way. They are soft and stretchy. They just feel nice. They don't have extra gusseting around the legs, so you can't stuff them overly full. That's the only negative I have for these. I use them mainly for play time (not nap time when I need to have a little extra padding for all the heavy wetters I've birthed). For play time, they do great.


5) I have one
Bumkins Vented cover. This cover doesn't have much gusseting either, which might be a problem if there's a large BM in baby's future. And I'm not entirely certain that the "vent" placed in back actually makes any kind of difference. But I've not had any major problems or gripes with this cover so far. It's CUTE, too. They have a great selection of fabrics to choose from. Ours is "Green Eggs and Ham." Orange. My favorite baby boy color...it seems.


6) Another cover I have used in the past is the Polar Bummi. I had this one when Atticus was brand spanking new. It's soft, and I like that. But it really has nothing to stop the moisture. It's just a really thick fleece. They say it has a laminate sandwiched in between two layers of fleece, but if it does, it's a THIN layer of laminate because the outside ALWAYS felt damp to me. It also seemed to make Atticus sweat when he wore it. It's made by the same folks who make #2 above. So...guess what?? Velcro issues.

7) Several months ago I purchased two new diaper covers to try. The first is the Econobum. It's standard white and comes with it's own prefold diaper. Think of this as a bonus, because you would obviously need MANY more prefolds (and covers for that matter), and you can use any prefolds in this cover. (It is not a requirement to use the prefold it came with.) Anyway, these are priced at $10. For a diaper cover, that's good. (And this one even comes WITH a diaper! Remember? BONUS!) I haven't used it long, so I don't know anything about its longevity, except for the fact that this cover hasn't a scrap of Velcro on it! This is what is called a "One-Size" diaper, so there's no need to change sizes as your baby grows. It uses snaps to size up or size down and even has snaps along the waistband, set about every 3/4 inch. It is a mere single row of snaps, though, so I worry it won't hold up over time, as that puts a lot of stress on two snaps to keep things closed up at the waist. Hmm...we'll see....

8) The second one is the Flip diaper. It's the same idea as the one above, with several exceptions. It comes in three vibrant colors. VERY pretty colors. It is a "One Size" cover as well, but it also comes with a "One Size" insert. The insert just lays in the cover (like you would do a folded prefold diaper, only it's not a prefold that needs folding), but take note that it is a "stay dry" insert. This means that like its predecessor, the Bumgenius, it's made of microfiber and suede cloth, which helps to wick moisture away from baby's skin. It's super soft, too. This cover also has a snap waistband, but the difference is that the Flip has TWO rows of snaps for greater stability. Right now? This has to be my very favorite cover. I can use the insert it came with or my regular prefolds. It fits like a dream. And it looks great, too.


Now. Prefolds. I swear I can hear many of you muttering, "What in Sam Hill is a 'prefold'?!" Well, ladies, it's just several layers of flat cloth diapers (I mentioned them above...see the picture?) that have been sewn together in varying levels. For instance, you might see prefolds that are "4x8x4." This simply means there are 4 layers of fabric stacked and sewn together on the two sides of the diaper and 8 layers sewn together in the middle. The diaper is sewn in thirds. (And to explain my folding method, I would fold each "side" into the middle, which basically means there are now 16 layers of fabric running down the middle.) Or maybe you might find "2x6x2." So, 2 layers on the sides and 6 in the middle. Make sense?

Prefolds in a nutshell: Unbleached absorbs better than bleached. But bleached ones work fine, too. Just pointing it out... Twill absorbs better than Birdseye weave. Organic cotton absorbs better than conventional cotton. etc. etc.


Alright...back to the daily schedule. At nap time, I use my Premium (4x8x4) unbleached Indian cotton prefold. They are a little long, so in addition to folding it into thirds, I fold down the end so that there is more padding up front ('cause we need it). I usually use a Prorap cover because they so rarely (if ever) leak, and with all that extra gusseting they hold my bulky Premium prefolds in quite nicely. When nap time is over, I usually change him into something a little less bulky, like a Regular (4x6x4) prefold, which is not just fewer layers but is also shorter, so I don't need to fold down the end. I like to use his cuter covers when he's up playing. Because they make me happy. ('Cause it's all about me, you know?)

And then at bedtime, my diaper of choice is the Bumgenius 3.0, as I've said before. I love them for nighttime diapering for several reasons.


1. They are pocket diapers, so I can stuff them as full as I need to depending on the needs of my baby.
2. The lining inside is micro-fleece, which wicks away moisture. That's a good quality for a nighttime diaper...for obvious reasons.
3. They are comfortable. Nice, soft fabric stitching around the legs. No plastics or vinyls to mash on or scratch up little legs all night long!
4. Once stuffed, they go on as easy as a disposable, and that's good because Daddy often diapers at bedtime...'cause getting four children under 7 ready for bed is...to say the least...challenging. (It's definitely a team effort!)



Big breath..........and hold it.......

Now we've got to store these stinky things. Unfortunately. (But, hey, at least no more trips to the garbage for Daddy!) I've tried several things with regard to storage of diaper laundry.

First I tried just a plain, small plastic bin. I put the diapers directly in it with no additional lining. This meant that each time I emptied it, I'd need to wash out the bin with soap and HOT water. This method didn't last long because of how quickly it would fill up (with two in diapers) and how gross it was to wash that thing out each time.

After that I used a real and for real diaper pail. I believe it was a Graco pail. I was all excited about it because it had a "hands-free" feature which made it so I could just wave my hand over a sensor on top and it would open up for me to toss my diaper, and then it automatically closed back up again. Would have been awesome had it consistently worked the way it should. And also if it had a bigger capacity. I was using a diaper liner/wet bag at this time. I'd pull the bag out when the pail was full, but the bag would still have 3 times the room left for diapers.

This prompted me to purchase a standard flip-top trashcan at Wal-Mart. I hung my diaper liner in the trashcan. It worked alright, I guess. BUT the flip-top left openings in the lid, which caused seepage of "stank" into the room. It wasn't horrendous, I guess. After all, my diaper liner has this great square piece of flannel sewn into the seam to which I added a drop or two of essential oil to help with odor issues. It did help. I just never got used to it. I had no other alternative method, though, so I kept it up...until one of the kids broke the flip-top. Instead of replacing it, I've just been using the bag on its own. I keep it in the bottom portion of my changing table drawer. I sort of twist the top closed after putting something inside. It seems to be enough to keep odors to a minimum. I just have to make sure to wash every other day because the bag is not 100% waterPROOF and will eventually start getting damp on the outside. (That's certainly not ideal.) This method works fine for me right now.


Now. Laundry time!! One thing about it, be prepared for plenty of extra washing. It's doable, though. What I do to help me feel like I'm not "wasting" my washer's time is I put all white socks, rags, and towels in the washer first and then dump the bag of diapers in on top (along with the bag itself). Our socks and baby food rags can ALWAYS stand an extra wash. See, ideally you need to wash your load of diapers twice. Once on COLD with a standard amount of detergent (although I usually skimp on this one a little). And once on HOT with a standard amount of detergent. You'll also need to run an extra rinse cycle during that second washin'. It's important to not have soaps and stuff building up in your diapers because they'll stop being absorbent.

Be CAREFUL on your laundry detergent choice! You've got to go as natural as possible. No laundry additives, softeners, or optical brighteners. You'd be surprised what ALL that knocks out as potential detergents for diapering mamas. It's annoying really. I make my own detergent, which I'll have to blog about separately, but there are other alternatives. See this chart for a fairly comprehensive list of many common detergents and their ingredients.


Another thing I've learned over time was to QUIT FOLDING ALL THOSE DIAPERS!!!! Seriously. I'd do the laundry and then sit FOR.EV.ER. folding rectangles into smaller rectangles and then stacking them up higher and higher. When Atticus was first born, he lived in OUR bedroom, so his changing table was a seat thingie in my walk-in closet. I used this little wicker shelf doodad to stack his diapers on. It looked great. WHEN it was full of freshly laundered and folded diapers. Gabe had a crate on top of his changing table full of HIS diapers.

But.

I HATED every moment of that. I'd get SOOOOO frustrated when I'd go to grab a clean diaper, and it would come unfolded before I could get it in the cover. I kept thinking...WHY am I wasting my time folding it and stacking it, when I'm going to have to fold it AGAIN anyway??!!! Finally, (and I truly don't know why I never thought of this on my own) I was reading Becca's blog one day and she had a picture of a big laundry basket sitting on the changing table full of cloth diapers that she had taken straight from the dryer. That's where she KEPT the basket. I was like......"WHOA!! What a concept!!" I promptly went out to Target, purchased a large plastic tub (orange, of course) with handles and have been happily dumping clean diapers into it ever since. (You can see it to the left of my changing table in the picture above.) And that is their new home. No more folding. None. Whatsoever. Except if I've got time, I'll go ahead and stuff my pocket diapers so they'll be ready for Daddy (in case he's helping at bedtime). 'Cause he don't stuff. *grin*

This post brought to you as a part of Works for Me Wednesday. Cloth diapering works for me, but you should check out all the other stuff that works for folks. Go be enlightened.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas, Mommy

Dear Mommy,

We've been thinking...

You seem so bored with life. So uninspired. So blah.




So we thought we'd add a little excitement.






A little creativity.





You can thank us now.




Sincerely,

Your loving son and daughter


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Enough Stuff

Stuff.



I hate stuff.



Remember last year when I railed on about the clutter we had acquired? I realize I sounded like an ungrateful wretch. But there's just a large part of me that REJECTS stuff and the whole idea of it. Some part of me that wants to be 100% rid of it. Live in a cob house...and own...I don't know...a bed. (Remember when I posted this picture a few months ago?


Well, I wasn't joking. I'd move there tomorrow if I could.



I hate stuff.



And that's just on the "stuff" level. There are deeper, darker issues involved, as you may know. I'm going to share a link with you here. I really, really, really want you to watch it. I want you to because I've had ENOUGH with the STUFF! And there's so much more to the story. And I'm a believer in getting the WHOLE truth out there. I'm a believer in sharing what I've learned because I want the world to be a bit of a better place if it can be and because I want better for YOU, too. Anyway, it's long. It's twenty minutes long. So. If you don't have time to watch it right this very second, then just promise me that you will come back and watch it. Watch it through to the end. Because STUFF is awful!! (It's true.)


ENOUGH STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Go here and click Watch Now under "The Story of Stuff."


Anyway, as I continue to deal with the clutter in our home, and I prepare for CHRISTmas Day and what it will entail as far as presents to our children this year, I am struggling. Again. Am I the only one???? Surely not. Surely I'm not the only one who feels pangs of guilt when purchasing dorky little pieces of plastic I KNOW will be destroyed, lost, and/or forgotten in a year or two...if THAT!! When I KNOW there are people who can't even afford to FEED their children one bite of food. I HATE that. I hate that it is that way. That there is such an imbalance. And yet, I actually feel pangs of guilt for putting those plastic toys DOWN and absolutely NOT purchasing them! I do! Like I'm somehow depriving my kids of some delight. Seriously, this weakness inside of me is disgusting. Truly disgusting. That's just how twisted my thinking is. It's how twisted our culture is! We all have FAAAARRR too much stuff!!


I've been reading a book on organization and becoming clutter-free. (Get this: the title is It's All Too Much! Does that resonate with anyone out there???) One thing the author suggests is that at this time of year it is important to speak to your loved-ones about your new commitment to keeping STUFF out of your home and life, especially during the holidays. It's so easy to just go out and spend, spend, spend on all kinds of STUFF to wrap up for your family members. After all, you love them and want to GIVE them things. Right? And that's a good thing!! Don't get me wrong.



But.



Stop and think for just a minute.



What do you remember about your childhood? Do you remember the gifts? Really??!! Specifically??? Oh, yeah sure. Maybe you remember that ONE thing for which you'd been pining for over five months, and you finally GOT IT!! But was it really everything you had hoped? Did it fulfill you?! Did that feeling last? All the way until right now?? Of course not!!



I mean, I don't know about you, but I DO remember getting GOBS of presents as a child, and sometimes, yes sometimes, actually thinking to myself that it wasn't enough! It's hard to admit that. But it's true. What a spoiled brat I was.



Now that I've outgrown all the STUFF I got all those years ago and it's no longer cluttering the shelves of my childhood bedroom (at least, most of it isn't), I have disconnected myself from the NEED of even remembering the stuff. Instead, you know what I remember? I remember playing school with my brothers. I remember the hundreds of bowls of oatmeal my Mamaw made for me on Wednesday nights while my parents were at choir practice. I remember baking cookies with my mom and using my very own little tiny baking set, complete with cookie cutters and a mini-rolling pin. I remember picking strawberries with my granddaddy. I remember making pralines with my Aunt Lisa. I remember playing with my cousins. I remember trips to Natchez and Vicksburg and Magic Springs with my grandparents. I remember fishing and eating blackberry cobbler and watermelon with my other grandparents. I remember "Girl's Day Out" (a clothes-shopping trip when I could pick out what I liked and then go watch a movie) with my mom. I remember just staying up late talking with friends and family. I remember Disney World vacations. I even remember very fondly a "VACATION" to Little Rock during which we stayed at the Holiday Inn, swam, ate out, played mini-golf, went to Wild River Country, and had a very inexpensive BLAST!!



Why is it that these are the things I remember? And why have I forgotten the dozens and dozens of dolls, knick-knacks, jewelry, and toys I received over the years? Well, besides the fact that I received waaaaaayyy too much stuff and couldn't possibly remember it all, I have the above memories burned into my mind because they involve the people I love. These are memories that will live on (in some form or another) in my mind for as long as I live. THAT is what you really want from a GIFT, is it not? THAT is what I want for myself, for my children, and for all of those I love.



What might one get for a CHRISTmas gift that would build memories like these?????



Here's a list of potential ideas:

1. Tickets to a play, concert, or show for you and your loved-one to attend together.

2. Special days of cooking or baking together.

3. Going out for special breakfasts together.

4. Taking a trip together. For a weekend. For a week. Far away or nearby. (It really wouldn't matter.)

5. Taking that person shopping to pick out something he/she really needs.

6. Helping someone else (NOT in your family) together.

7. Playing games together.

8. Taking walks together.

9. Forming new traditions.



Do you get the idea?


Doesn't that sound better than your children opening fifteen plus packages of plastic junk they will get in trouble with later because they threw one of them at their sister or forgot to pick it up after being told three times? Wouldn't you rather spend a day with your loved-one doing something extra special, sharing jokes, looking into each other's eyes, having a new experience, just talking, making precious memories? Wouldn't you?



And then there's THIS reason...





Anyone else want to crawl in a hole??!?

Alright, so I've shared with you about Operation CHRISTmas Child. (Send your shoe boxes, by the way! Remember you can send them year-round. Imagine if we each sent one box per month! Wouldn't that be crazy??) Now I want to encourage you to check out Advent Conspiracy from the above promo. When it began, four churches challenged their congregations to buy ONE LESS gift at CHRISTmastime and instead to give away the money they would have spent on that gift. The result was over half a million dollars raised to help those in actual NEED. Cool, huh?


Also, my family has this place where we like to make donations of our "stuff." Instead of taking things to Goodwill (where they will be sold), we like to take them to Little Rock Compassion Center where they will be GIVEN to the most needy in our community. This is a Christian organization that seeks to feed, clothe, shelter, care for, and TEACH the homeless of Little Rock. It is run by a very godly couple who have truly made a difference in the lives of so many in our area. I'm telling you, this place is the real deal. Go see it for yourself!!


We've been putting together bunches of "stuff" to take to them. We know they can USE it. There will be children there who NEED something delightful to occupy them. There will be men, women, and children who NEED the clothing we don't. I'm telling you about it to encourage you to think of going there next time you have a load of unwanted clutter to rid yourself of. AND I wanted you to know that you can also help feed and care for people this CHRISTmas season by sending a monetary donation. In fact, you can feed someone a full CHRISTmas dinner with all the trimmings for a mere $1.69!! You can feed 10 people for $16.90!! Seriously, why not??! And for those of you with some serious cash lying around, ...$169 will feed 100 people! (I'm such a math whiz!) Now's the time! Contact them directly (links above and below) to see how you can help right now!


More about LRCC (taken directly from a recent letter):


Last year they served more than 140,000 hot meals and food pantry boxes.

They provide a safe, clean place to sleep for 200 men each night, with extra family rooms for women and families.

They provide tutorial programs to help people obtain a G.E.D.

They have worship services on Sundays and Wednesdays in which Jesus is lifted up as Lord over every problem.


How can you help?

Pray, take your donations, show up and help out, send your money...


The Little Rock Compassion Center
William and Rosemary Holloway
3618 W. Roosevelt Rd.
Little Rock, AR 72204



All donations are tax-deductible.

Merry CHRISTmas!!!
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