Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On the Road With Cloth Diapers

To date, Sweet Pea has never worn a disposable diaper. Before she was born, I thought I would want to use cloth most of the time, but that it would be too much of a hassle to use while traveling so she would go in disposables on the road. Thanks in part to a friend from out of town who visited us while using cloth on her baby (you're awesome, Wendy!), I started to think maybe it wouldn't be that much trouble after all. So far, Sweet Pea has worn cloth everywhere we've gone, from two-hour road trips, to ten-hour cross-country trips by airplane, to three-day camping trips, and everything in between. I have changed her on the trunk of our car, in my lap, on the floor at the airport, on the ground on a towel, and on changing tables in public restrooms. I would say it is probably a little more difficult than using disposables, but totally worth it to me not to have to spend extra money to use plastic and chemicals on my baby's bum.
This is a photo of our camp-site from when we went "car-camping" last May. You can see the diaper pail by the back wheel of the car.

When we travel, I think about how many hours we'll be on the road, estimate a diaper change every two hours, and then pack a couple extra. I generally prefer to travel with all-in-one or pre-stuffed pocket diapers for the convenience of one-step changes, although they are a bit bulkier to pack than simple pre-folds and covers. We bring our cloth wipes, a squirt bottle of water (actually my peri bottle from post-partum), and a wet bag. I have two large Planet Wise wet bags, and one medium Goodmama's. They are all zipper closure, which I prefer. If we are going to be away from home for several days I either pack all three wet bags (like for flying), or one to two wet bags and our actual diaper pail (for driving trips). So far, I haven't had anyone question me about washing our diapers in their washer, and we have even used laundromats a couple of times (recently at the coast when we stayed in a hotel, and on our camping trip on the second day when we went into town to eat at a restaurant). One time Average used the laundromat washer without even putting any soap in. He figured that there was probably enough soap residue left in the washers, and the diapers came out looking and smelling clean!

Recommendations for traveling with cloth:
  • bring plenty of diapers
  • think ahead about when and where you will do your wash
  • bring flushable liners for flights in case of poo (even though the zipper seals in the smells pretty well, I'd rather not have to deal with it)
  • you might want to bring a small container of your own laundry soap

Now go for it! Don't be scared, it's just like using cloth at home. And, if you run into any trouble, you can always buy disposables, but you probably won't need to.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Won a Giveaway!

I recently won my first giveaway since entering the blogosphere. It is so exciting! Thanks Beth, at Happily Domestic for hosting this giveaway and choosing my entry.

Just yesterday, my "prize"  arrived: the Baby Dipper. We used it today and I am very pleased. It does as promised, doesn't slide around on the table, and is easy to use with one hand, with the food naturally collecting at the deeper corner of the triangular bowl. My hands were too messy while feeding Sweet Pea to take a picture of it in use, but here is a photo of the product with its package. My only complaint so far is that I wish it didn't have this type of plastic packaging. Overall, though, it seems like a neat product idea. Average had a few choice jokes about the shape and dimensions of the bowl being similar to a product for men, which I'm not going to repeat here, but the triangular shape and sloped bottom really make sense to me. Sweet Pea did more spoon and food grabbing than actual eating, as I expected, but I think I'm going to keep trying, offering her both finger foods and pureed foods every couple of days.

I have been thinking of hosting my own giveaway sometime soon. My initial thought was a BumGenius Organic diaper, since I have one that I love, and it exemplifies all of the positive traits of cloth diapering (ease, fit, environmentally friendly) besides price. This is one expensive diaper, but excellent if you can afford it. So, does anyone have any suggestions for a great giveaway item? And, advice about how to get a business to sponsor this giveaway for me? Do you have a product I could help you promote? Comment and let me know!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Day in the Life

I had been thinking about this topic idea for a while, and since we got a puppy I feel like my daily life has gotten even more crazy. So here is a post about a day in the life of Mommy and Sweet Pea.
  • Puppy Glen and baby Sweet Pea wake up a couple of times through the night; baby nurses, Average takes puppy outside to potty
  • Glen wakes up for good in the morning and has his morning meal after potty outside
  • Sweet Pea wakes up and has her morning meal (nursing) and then first diaper change of the day
  • Mommy eats breakfast and does some dishes
  • Glen goes potty outside again
  • Mommy and Sweet Pea play together while Glen plays outside
  • Nurse Sweet Pea
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • All take a walk together
  • Mommy checks email, reads blogs, while (hopefully) Sweet Pea naps
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Take Glen potty
  • Lunch for Glen, then Mommy, then Sweet Pea
  • Try to do some housecleaning: laundry, sweep, etc.
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Take Glen potty
  • Errands or visits to friends
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Get Sweet Pea to take a nap (usually includes nursing)
  • Take Glen potty
  • Hopefully Glen naps
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Play time or walk for us all again
  • Nurse Sweet Pea
  • Start to make dinner
  • Take Glen potty
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Email/online time for Mommy
  • Feed Glen
  • Nurse Sweet Pea
  • Change Sweet Pea's diaper
  • Take Glen potty
  • Finish making dinner
  • Eat with Average
  • Household chores: dishes, fold laundry etc.
  • Feed Glen
  • Take Glen potty
  • Play with Sweet Pea
  • Glen goes to bed
  • Get Sweet Pea ready for bed: bath, storytime, night-time diaper
  • Nurse Sweet Pea to sleep
  • TV or reading time for Mommy and Average
  • Mommy and Average shower
  • Bedtime
That is actually kind of my ideal day, and is pretty much how today went, except I did my walk before my errands, instead of after, and Average was home this morning and put together a stew so I didn't have to cook tonight. However, tomorrow the tree service comes to prune our fruit trees, and there is something going on pretty much every day for the next week or so. So, the reality of my life is more typically like what happened yesterday.

I went to a festival at our local recycling facility (where my dad was playing music). On the drive home Sweet Pea started crying - sobbing actually. By the time we arrived I was desperate to get her inside and comforted. I paused for only about 30 seconds to try to get Glen to go potty, then rushed into the house, dog in tow. I grabbed my cell phone as I sat down with Sweet Pea, and saw that I had missed 12 "alerts" (calls or text messages). I remembered that I had an appointment that afternoon and was supposed to call back about it, and my phone was almost out of battery. I tried to sit in my bedroom with Sweet Pea latched on nursing, while I charged my phone and checked my messages at the same time. I glanced into the hallway, and saw.... Glen peeing on the floor! Gah! Oh no! In that moment I felt totally overwhelmed. Every time I moved Sweet Pea started crying again. I prioritized, put down the cell phone, pulled Glen into his crate to avoid tracking the pee around, and sat down in my rocking chair with Sweet Pea. I heard my phone beeping more messages and Glen barking and whining from the next room, but I knew I needed to nurse her before anything else. Once she was finally asleep, I put her down, cleaned up the pee, then let Glen out and took him outside. Whew. Just with a baby I thought my life felt chaotic, and now I have added another element. Am I crazy?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Ever-Changing Nature of Breastfeeding, Or, Nursing a 6-Month-Old

I haven't posted for a few days because we got a new puppy and I've been busy learning all about dog training. Life with a puppy and a baby will be a future post topic. Also, I had already written 3/4 of a post on this topic (changing nature of breastfeeding) but somehow erased it when I came in to edit. Unfortunately this version probably isn't as good.

If you read my breastfeeding story, you'll see that we had a rough go of it to start. However, when Sweet Pea was about four months old, we seemed to achieve a peak in terms of ease of all aspects of mommyhood. My baby was sleeping through the night, was content to hang out and watch me do work around the house, sitting on her own for 20-60 minutes at a time, and best of all for me, nursing was finally what I had always hoped: relaxing, bonding time with my baby that took very little effort. We began to nurse in public with confidence, and I was pleased to find we could finally do it without too much awkwardness. I had a happy, chubby, sleeping-at-night baby: this baby thing seemed like it was getting pretty easy!

Then, she got older. She became more interested in the world around her, more interactive, and learned to roll over. Holding her started to become more difficult as she realized that she had some control over her movement, and she became much more squirmy, reaching and grabbing for things and wanting to stand in our laps. Similarly, nursing also got more difficult again because she was often too distracted to nurse in public and would frequently expose my breast by suddenly turning her head and arching her body to look at something she'd heard, sometimes letting milk leak or spray all over whatever we both were wearing. Sweet Pea also just became less interested in nursing during the day in general, and I would have to offer the breast, then hold her in position for upwards of 10-15 seconds while she squirmed before finally settling in. Sometimes even then I couldn't convince her that it was worth it to stop playing to eat.  So, logically, she started waking up again at night, probably partly due to the decrease in daytime nursing, partly due to increased nutritional demands. Yet she still has been mostly pushing back out any food that goes in her mouth, so I have continued to be her main source of nutrition and hydration. In sum, my easy baby became more difficult, and nursing was once again an effort, particularly if we were anywhere besides a dark, quiet room. Luckily, it has remained satisfying to me through this and I'm still confident we'll keep going for a long while.

I know that the pendulum will swing again, and things that are easy now could become difficult, and our struggles now could soon become total non-issues. Such is parenting, I am learning. As soon as I feel like I have one aspect figured out, my baby goes and changes her ways.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Donating Cloth Diapers

This is just a quick post to share an option for those looking for something to do with diapers their children have already grown out of, or for those who need financial assistance getting started using cloth diapers. Miracle Diapers is a nonprofit organization that matches donated diapers with needy families, providing a much-needed, green and healthy service. The group has provided diapers for 185 babies and toddlers, just from January to July of this year! I follow them on twitter and have considered donating some diapers myself at some point. So far, the only diapers that Sweet Pea has grown out of have been passed on to a friend of a friend, and we might eventually get them back for use with our next child. That's one thing I love about cloth diapers, some of them just last and last! I have heard of one set of diapers being used for seven children!

Anyway, if you have the means, please consider donating to this great organization. Or, just follow them on facebook or twitter like I am to help spread the word.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My green life and my ungreen vices

In preparation for a post I've been mentally planning about how and why we choose to make healthy lifestyle changes of one kind but not another, or at one time but not another, I am compiling a list of the things that I've chosen to do to live healthier and more environmentally friendly, versus the things that I still do that I KNOW are unhealthy. This is a more generalized follow-up to my "items in my freezer" post, which was a concrete list of things that showed foods we keep and eat that are healthy and some that are not (i.e. frozen pizza and peanut butter cup ice cream).

Healthy and Green:
cloth diapers
cloth wipes
home-made baby food
vegetable garden
home food preserving
cloth mama pads
cloth napkins
reusable grocery bags
reusable glass and metal food containers
walking to the store sometimes
natural cleaning products
automatic thermostat
clothesline drying sometimes

eat fast food sometimes - why do Big Macs taste so good to me?
toilet paper - getting close to switching to cloth, at least for pee
drive a car to get around - baby isn't big enough for a helmet for safe bike transportation yet
buy some pre-made foods/meals - I do sometimes order pizza when the baby's having a hard day and we don't have time or energy to cook
buy new clothes often - I LOVE LOVE LOVE Banana Republic, a big vice for me
often forget reusable grocery bags - even when they're in the trunk of the car!
use the dryer - lazy, don't plan ahead enough
eat meat most days - yum yum
don't always buy organic
let some food in my garden go to waste
lots of green updates not done in our house

I've read a few threads on my favorite online discussion forums about this very thing. One thread title was something to do with being "soggy" as opposed to fully crunchy. Like, "he is so crunchy granola!" describing our friend who doesn't drive, has backyard chickens, and only eats local. Compared to that I am somewhat soggy granola. What do you think of these terms? What do you do that is healthy and green and what vices are you still sticking with? WHY do you think you've changed some things but not others? I'd love to hear about where other people are with some of these things, and any hypotheses about why.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A dad's conversation about cloth diapering

I'm participating in Fluff Talk Thursdays again and this week's topic is: a dad's perspective on cloth diapering. My husband had already had a little back-and-forth on facebook with one of our friends about his take on using cloth, so with both of their OKs, I am re-posting that here. I have edited to change names to aliases for my husband and daughter. Silas gave permission for his name to be used. Speaking of aliases, a friend recently pointed out that I should explain that my husband's is really not an insult at all, but is just a private joke. He actually chose it for himself — I think he is above average in nearly every way.

Here is a photo of my husband changing Sweet Pea's diaper when she was only one week old.

Silas and his wife don't have any kids yet, but are planning on it. After reading my original cloth diaper post, Silas wrote to Average asking,

Silas: ....Question for you, how does the cloth diaper thing work for you (ease of use, laundering, and cost) as a dad?

Average: I am a believer in cloth diapers. Not maybe an evangelist like Rose claims to be, but at least a disciple. Changing a poopy diaper is changing a poopy diaper. This way at least we aren't just throwing a bunch of stuff away. Plus, we never run out of diapers, there hasn't once been a 2am trip to the market because we ran out of diapers. The laundry aspect is pretty easy right now with Rose at home, she does most of it. The only thing that is more difficult is spraying the poo off the diaper, but I hooked up a sink sprayer on the toilet so even that is pretty painless. We just have to scrub the toilet a little more often. As far as ease of use goes, I have almost no experience with disposables but putting a diaper on is putting a diaper on. Sure some of the ones we use are two pieces and require an extra step, but it's like a 3 second step, so it's not really an issue for me. The cost is the best part, I think of it like grocery shopping and cooking at home as compared to fast food. The upfront cost is more, but the product is cheaper and healthier. Then, when Sweet Pea outgrows the diapers we can pass them down to our friends or sell them. Like I said I'm a believer. Also when Rose and I were on our honeymoon in Belize we went swimming at this really awesome waterfall area, except there were several dirty diapers on the ground. I was super grossed out and it actually got me thinking about cloth diapering way before we thought about having kids.

Silas: Nice, I never thought about the running out thing, that's a good point. The cost thing is what got me interested in the first place, like you said the up front cost is more, but in the end you are paying less. My dad still has some old cloth diapers around, he swears they are the best polishing cloths around. As far as laundering goes is there ever an issue with the washing machine smelling, or leaving any remnants? I know it sounds a little naive but I am about as clueless as can be with this. I am so glad Erica was a nanny for infants, at least she has some idea of what we're getting ourselves into. Thanks for all the info.

Average: No remnants, I was worried about that too, we usually rinse them first with some vinegar, that kills the smell and rinses out clean, then we add the rest of the load and run it like usual.

So there you have it, one dad who is totally for cloth diapers. He even changes them, and does some laundry as well. Oh, and can't you just tell that Silas is going to be an awesome dad?! I mean, how many dads are learning about baby care stuff before they even get pregnant? I am really impressed with him, and excited for more of my friends to have kids!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cutting baby nails

Why must it be SO hard to cut my baby's fingernails? Sweet Pea's nails seem impossible to keep short. They grow so fast, they are so sharp, and yet they are soft and difficult to distinguish from skin between the clipper ends.

Some tips I have heard are to just bite them off, or to wait until she is sleeping and cut them then. I have tried the biting them off, but Sweet Pea doesn't have any more patience for that than she does the clippers, and it takes longer to chew through the nails than to cut them, so that doesn't help much. I can only get one or two nails done before she completely loses it because she hates to not have control of her hands. Doing it while she is sleeping has not worked for me yet because during the day I am often holding her while she sleeps, making it difficult to get a good grip, or a good angle, let alone going to find the clippers while I'm trying to keep her asleep. Doing it at night is out of the question because there is no way I'm taking a chance of possibly waking her up when it takes so much work to get her to sleep in the first place. We have had some nights of Sleeping Through The Night (STTN) lately, and I really don't want to mess with her once she's fallen asleep. I've also tried giving her a toy for her other hand but she really wants to use both hands at once so I have to grip her hand super tight to even get the clippers to the nail tips. We have two sets of baby sized nail clippers, and one of them even has a little flip-up magnifying glass, but it doesn't seem to help much either.

Does anyone know of any other ideas for making this easier? Right now, I just buckle down and tough it out through her hand-waving and yelling at me while I inwardly cringe at the possibility of cutting her finger (I've done that twice), once or twice a week. Sometimes I go longer between clippings, and then she ends up scratching herself and often me as well, before I get enough determination. It seems like there has got to be an easier way! Do other moms have such a hard time with this? Average did it once, a long time ago, and he cut her and she cried and he was devastated and says he'll never do it again now.

What's in your freezer?

Items in my freezer, in alphabetical order:
beef brisket
beer mugs
breast milk
chopped tomatoes
corn dogs
dried peppers
egg rolls
grated zucchini
ice cream
mashed sweet potato
pitted cherries
pureed peaches

Perhaps what's in a person's freezer tells you more about that person than what's in their medicine cabinet (although that's always interesting to me as well). Based on this list, I would think anyone reading it would be able to determine that we have a baby, we likely had a homebirth, we eat an omnivorous diet and are trying to eat heathy-ish but don't always succeed. Most of the assumptions you might make based on that information are probably true. Also based on this list, anyone can see that I need a bigger freezer!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lunchbox #2

So, last week I failed and didn't pack any lunches for husband. This week I only did it once, but am still feeling good about that because it's an improvement. Right? I also bought a new metal sandwich tin in the meantime, which I love, but I wish I had bought one size smaller because it takes up all of the room in his Mario Bros. lunchbox.

I made a double-sized lunch, with the idea that I would bring it to Average at work and eat half of it. Without further ado, a description of the healthy lunch that I packed.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, jam = home-made blueberry-raspberry
Finger-food raw veggies, carrots and broccoli with bleu cheese dressing for dipping
Nancy's brand vanilla yogurt with a dollop of home-made apricot-orange conserve
Whole apple
Large handful of chocolate-covered almonds
Hansen's natural soda

I found this lunch to be delicious and nutritious. I definitely made it to suit my tastes more than his. We are both getting tired of PB&J though, so I will try to branch out next week.

The Purple Lunchbox

Thursday, September 3, 2009


One of the green lifestyle changes I've made this year is switching to "no-pooing" instead of shampooing my hair. Hilarious name, right? I'm sure most of you thought of something else when you read the title of this post, especially in light of my confession in my post yesterday. Today I'm going to share my no-poo routine for hair washing and what I've noticed about making the change.

My routine:
In a small container (I started with a nice ceramic ramekin but I knocked if off the ledge into the tub and it broke, so now I'm using an empty sour cream container), I mix about one tablespoon of baking soda with some warm water (not a precise mix, just barely enough to dissolve the baking soda). I pour some onto the front hairline and massage it in. Then I do the same all around my head, but I have a hard time on the middle of the back because my hair is long and thick so it's hard to get it into my scalp. THEN I turn on the shower for the first time and thoroughly rinse it out. Next, I squeeze my apple cider vinegar mix onto my hair, focusing on the ends. My apple cider vinegar is in a Rubbermaid condiment bottle, mixed 1:4 with water, with a few drops of a lemon oil to make it smell nicer. I probably use about 2 tablespoons total of this mix per wash. I rinse rinse rinse out the vinegar, and then I'm done (besides washing feet and armpits with soap)! I wash my hair with this routine about every other day, sometimes every three days, and haven't used shampoo since June. If I get sweaty or dirty in between washes, then I rinse my hair with plain water when I take a shower. The photo is from today, I haven't done any styling at all today, and have some lines from different ponytail spots. I plan to no-poo wash tonight, so this is about as greasy as it gets.

I've noticed:

  • I use less water with no-poo because I do the baking soda part before turning the water on, saving time when I normally would be shampooing under the water.
  • I also save water by only washing my body every day, taking less time in the shower than when I was shampooing most days.
  • I am saving money because baking soda and vinegar are CHEAP! And nice shampoo is expensive.
  • I feel good about not putting weird chemicals on my head.
  • My scalp is less itchy so far (one of the main reasons I looked into no-poo in the first place).
  • I did go through an adjustment period where I had oilier scalp and hair, but it has regulated now and seems just fine.
  • My face is also not as dry after showering as it used to be.

Average says my hair smells fine! So far, it feels like success! I do sometimes miss the sweet smells and the lather of actual shampoo, but it had been a while since I'd used anything that smelled good at all anyway because I've had such itchy scalp problems for a while.

For a longer explanation of reasons to go no-poo, and other people's routines, read SortaCrunchy's post or the One Green Generation post about it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reasons this blog will never never ever be able to compete with

I've never:

  • been a professional web designer
  • taken professional-level photographs
  • taken professional-level photos of two cute dogs
  • been married to a web designer
  • been fired from my job for my blog
  • publicly denounced my family's religion
  • moved back in with my parents
  • been in a mental hospital
  • written (nor will ever write) anything nearly as hilarious as this, or any number of her other posts
  • used swear words so freely

But I do have a few things in common with Heather Armstrong, of
We both:

  • had a natural birth
  • have daughters with a cute dimple
  • enjoy babies
  • have constipation problems
  • like music and movies and reading other people's blogs

So, yes I am a fan and take inspiration from the fact that she can make a living from her writing, but I hope to never be in some of the situations she's been in that have made for such exciting blogging. Thanks, dooce, for keeping me so entertained on many nights while I nurse my baby to sleep, sitting at the computer!