Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Top Three Reasons Cloth Is Best

The majority of new parents are not aware of the many benefits and the ease of use of modern cloth diapers. For this post, I've tried to condense my ideas down into three main points about the differences between cloth and disposables: cost, disposal of wastes, and the environment/health. Warning: this post is one-sided because I have never used disposables and they are not appealing to me to try out. But, I have done my research!
  1. Cost: For $350-$450, you can get set up with a great stash of enough cloth diapers to last you from birth until potty training. Yes, you can spend more than that, but you can also spend less. I have read of some people who went as simple as possible and bought mostly used and diapered a baby for around $100. Compare that to disposables, where you'll be typically spending at least $1000 (based on buying store brand and only changing 6-8 diapers per day), some estimate as high as $3000, depending on how many you use in a day and what kind you buy. AND, you can re-use or re-sell the cloth diapers your baby is done with them, leading to more money savings. Yes, you do need to spend the money up-front, whereas with disposables it is a monthly shopping expense. There are a few ways to get around shelling out the entire cost for your diaper stash at one time, though: 1 - register for cloth diapers for your baby shower, 2 - buy them a few at a time throughout your pregnancy, 3 - buy them a few at a time after your baby's birth, while using up any disposables you were gifted.
  2. Ease of use: Modern cloth diapers can be as simple to put on your baby as disposables. Pins are no longer necessary, and most diapers now go on with velcro or aplix, or snaps. Cloth diaper washing routine is generally the same as for regular clothes, plus one extra rinse cycle, which you can probably set automatically on your washer. Breastfed poo can go straight into the washer, as can the wet bags that you can use to hold the dirty diapers. The more absorbent microfleece and microfiber diapers might need an extra cycle with bleach or peroxide once every couple of months to avoid stinky build-up, but that's it. Once your baby starts eating solids, you can shake the poo into the toilet before putting the diaper in the dirty bag. With cloth diapers, there is an average increase of 3 loads of laundry per week. Some people only wash once a week, others wash every day. It depends on your preferences and how many diapers you have. Also, I have heard time and again that people experience fewer "blow-outs" with cloth (we only have had 2-3 ever) so that means fewer outfit changes and less clothing to wash. In addition, you never have to run to the store late at night because you ran out of diapers!
  3. Health and the environment: Cloth diapers are better for the environment and for your baby. With cloth diapers, you are disposing of your baby's wastes by putting them into a water treatment system designed to handle such things. With disposables, you are typically putting the waste into landfills where it can seep into the ground. Disposable diapers are the number 3 single item in landfills, with each (disposable-diapered) baby creating about 1 ton of waste during the diapering years. Disposables are typically made of bleached paper and plastics that include traces of dioxins, and the sodium polyacrylate gel that creates the absorbency of disposables can get onto the baby's skin. Some babies are allergic to the materials in disposables, and if you feel the differences between a disposable and a cloth diaper you will easily see which one would be more comfortable for your baby. There has also been some research done on the increase in temperature around babies' genitals with disposable diapers, due to the plastic not allowing air flow, and some possible negative effects of that.
Lastly, cloth diapers are cute and soft and make diaper changes so much more enjoyable!

What are your reasons for using or not using cloth diapers?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Buying More to Spend Less

I just got back from a few days on vacation, and am about to start a couple of weeks of substitute teaching, so my blog has and probably will continue to suffer from my current non-Stay-at-Home-Mom status. It's not that I don't have ideas for things to write about, but I am having a hard time finding the time to write new posts, beyond a paragraph or so. One idea that I have had for a while I am going to actually crank out tonight! Blogging on a Friday night -- my life is so exciting.

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money and to be green. Greater quantities usually are cheaper by unit (although check the price tags to be sure), and use less packaging. Some items that we have bought in bulk recently include:
  • Hand soap for the kitchen, where I really like to have a hand-pump style soap dispenser. We bought a large bag of it to re-fill the dispenser that had run out. We got five times the amount of soap for only twice the cost of a regular container of soap. 
  • Trail mix fixings. These were really fun for me because they were much cheaper in the bulk section of my grocery store than these items normally cost, and definitely cheaper than a pre-mixed bag. Also, I was able to add the raisins and banana chips that I made (dehydrated) myself this fall. I blended almonds, sunflower seeds, and chocolate chips with my dried fruit, and stored it in small jam jars, which are a great size for a travel snack.
  • Yogurt. Sweet Pea has started to enjoy yogurt, and I love it too, for breakfast, lunch, or dessert. I typically buy Nancy's, which is a local natural brand, and available in sizes ranging from a single serving up to 32 or 64 ounce containers. I usually buy the Honey or Plain flavors, and then add my own fruit, either fresh, canned, or jammed. Not only am I saving money by buying a larger quantity, I am creating less waste from packaging, and I typically re-use the containers a few times before recycling them. We have used them for everything from storing leftovers, to bath toys for Sweet Pea, to transporting dog food. The makers of Nancy's even left a blank spot on the container for the user to write what's inside in these future uses.

In addition to re-using my yogurt containers, I have found it incredibly useful to keep most of the glass jars that I buy with pickles, peanut butter, or jam in them, and once they are empty, re-use them for storing smaller amounts of the bulk items I buy. Of course I also save all of the empty jars I used for canning last year. This helps with transport (like for a snack to keep in the diaper bag) and with portion control. I've been keeping them in the cupboard above my dryer, and look forward to filling even more this summer with more home-made jams and dried fruit from my garden.

What else do you like to buy in bulk? How do you store it? Share your tips!

Baby's First Birthday Is Coming Soon!

You may have noticed that my About Me section over on the side mentions my 11-month-old baby. Eleven months old is almost a year. So, we have a first birthday party to plan. I need ideas.

Should we do games?
Should I ask people to write a letter to Sweet Pea?
What kind of food should I have?

All that I have planned so far is for carrot cake cupcakes and only used, hand-made, or re-gifted presents. I want this to be a fun event for our family, low-pressure for me, and have some nice pictures for Sweet Pea to look back on. Which reminds me, I am also debating about doing professional 1-year-old photos, like from a real professional photographer, not a department store. I am talking art quality photos for us to blow up large and hang on the wall. This seems to be quite expensive. Ideas? Please?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award

I got my first blog award! Thanks for passing this on to me, Abby!

When you get the award, you’re supposed to reveal seven things about yourself, then pass it on to seven other bloggers.

Seven things you might not know about me:
  1. I played volleyball in high school and I still love it
  2. My biggest weaknesses are dessert and TV
  3. I gave birth in my dining room
  4. I don't like tomatoes
  5. I graduated from the "Honors College" at my university
  6. My husband and I met when we were 18
  7. I spent 6 months living in Spain and traveling in Europe
And the seven creative, informing, inspiring, and entertaining bloggers I am choosing to share this award with are:

Samantha at Mama Notes
Kim Rosas at Dirty Diaper Laundry
Emi at the Cloth Diaper Report
Carly at The Less Than Domestic Goddess
Melissa at Ethan's Page
Hellcat Betty

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Amber Teething Necklace

I have been reading about amber teething necklaces for months, and finally decided to buy one this past week when Sweet Pea started drooling gallons again. She already has 8 teeth, and teething pains and symptoms seem to come and go for her, so I thought I might as well go ahead and get her a necklace, and whether it helps or not, it will be pretty! Oh boy, first piece of jewelry for my little girl!

Amber is supposed to have a natural soothing effect, through the tiny amounts of succinic acid in the oil from the amber that get absorbed by your skin -- not by the child actually chewing on it. The Baltic amber is supposed to be best for this, and the lighter the color the better. You can read more about it on one of the many websites dedicated to information and sales of these necklaces. I'm not sure if I believe in it yet, but I am willing to give it a try. I got this twelve-inch strand from Inspired by Finn on Hyenacart. It's is a European traditional teething soother that is catching on around the U.S. I love the look of the necklace but will have to wait and see if I feel it has any efficacy.
Note: Most retailers will tell you that jewelry is not recommended for children under age 3, and that you should always supervise your child if you do decide to put a necklace on him or her. The clasp on this one will pull apart if put under strain and the beads are individually knotted on the strand, so I feel comfortable with this on Sweet Pea's neck during the day, but take it off for bedtime. You can also get bracelets and anklets of amber beads.

What do you think? Could it really help? Have you ever used amber and felt like it worked? Share your experience!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Woolybottoms Winner! chose the number 19, so Maura, with comment number 19, is the winner of the blue Woollybottoms! Congratulations!

Maura said... "I'd love to win these. We're adopting an infant in the next few months (universe willing, of course) and I'm trying to start a collection of natural baby things!"

Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway. I have another one with a different product tentatively planned for a few weeks from now, so stay tuned!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

New Fireplace Doors

When we bought our home last year, one of the items on the inspection that we didn't request for the previous home-owner to complete was screening the fireplace. The chimney also needed to be cleaned and a new topper put on the top. We are now one step closer to being able to use our fireplace, and we also have a barrier to keep Sweet Pea from climbing into it! I am so glad that it no longer looks like a big sooty hole in our living room. We also recently installed a wall mount for our TV so our living room is definitely looking more put-together these days.

We decided on a glass door system after browsing around and deciding that Sweet Pea would just pull down any screen that wasn't fully attached to the fireplace, and we have a smallish living room so we didn't want to totally baby-gate off the fireplace area. A door seemed the safest and most attractive way to go. However, doors can cost as much as $1400, which was not really in our budget for the month. We asked a sales-person for some ideas and she showed us a hidden upstairs area with returned and floor-model fireplaces and doors. The one she showed us that would fit our fireplace opening was not what I had in mind in terms of looks, but the price was right: reduced from $600 to $299. We went home to think about it, and a week later we were back to buy. While the door set we got is not exactly my style, I do think that it goes with the era of our home, and the style of the rest of the fireplace. It is a light gold/bronze color, and I prefer black or silver usually, but looking at it in our house I think it is really the best choice.

Average installed it himself with a borrowed hammer drill, a screwdriver, hammer, tape measure, 5/16 pin punch, and button-head concrete fasteners.

I was surprised that the fireplace store didn't send us home with any instructions at all, but am lucky to be married to a very handy man. He only broke one brick in the installation process, and it's hidden inside.



Friday, February 5, 2010

Baby Messes

Here are a few of the messes that my sweet baby has made in the house this week.

Clearly, she has continued with the "emptying everything" phase. Although she has on occasion begun filling things, too. Today she put a big tape measure in the diaper bag. I found it when we were at a restaurant. The other day she put the mixer blades in the oven drawer and I felt slightly crazy when I was trying to clean up the kitchen and they seemed to have disappeared. We now have child safety devices on our kitchen cupboards so she can't do that anymore, which she finds very frustrating.

Sometimes I think I spend half my day cleaning up Sweet Pea's messes, but she has such fun making them, and I know this phase won't last forever. The one certainty in life is that time will pass and things will change. I was just looking through my photos and found what I looked like one year ago. Unbelievable.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Woollybottoms Giveaway

I am hosting my first giveaway! I have been wanting to do this for a while, and I'm so pleased to have it finally planned. The item I chose to give is a new pair of Woollybottoms - wool pants for babies. The retail value of these is $29.00. I have been really into the wool pants thing lately, as you may have noticed from my recent posts (about Nifty Knickers, and my baby blue longies) so this seems like a good fit. Wool pants can be used as a cloth diaper cover, or just as snuggly warm pants for the winter or for bedtime. These ones are "footies" so they should keep your baby toasty! The pair I am giving to one lucky winner is light blue with fish fabric for the footie part. Maybe a little more boyish than girlie, but Stella would definitely wear these if we got to keep them. They are size medium, and have the following measurements:
8" waist (elastic)
9" rise
18" length

Here they are:

To enter, simply comment below and let me know why you want to win, or what you like about wool. I will choose a winner by using to pick a comment number on Wednesday February 10, 2010.

Other ways to enter:
  1. Follow me on twitter. Come back to the blog and comment that you are following.
  2. Being a follower of the blog gives you TWO extra entries. Simply post two comments saying that you are a follower.
  3. Commenting in other posts during the week will give you ONE extra entry per comment that you make. Simply post a comment on this one saying the title of the post where you wrote your comment.
  4. Advertising the giveaway in a forum or other blog gives you one extra entry.
  5. Using my button on your blog (or starting to) gives you one extra entry. Simply post a comment saying that you are using it and where.
  6. Tweet about this giveaway. Then come back and leave your comment with a link to the tweet. 
 I am not receiving any compensation for this giveaway.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    The Queen in Her Chariot

    We finally bought a bicycle trailer to tow Sweet Pea. We chose the deluxe model, since we plan to use it a lot and for a long time. The one we got, the Chariot Cougar, has room and seat buckles for two children, a spot to stow gear that perfectly fits my new diaper bag, and can convert to a jogger or to be used with cross-country skis.

    So far, we have taken Sweet Pea in it twice, and she has been happy both times! Average, who works in a bicycle shop, says that it's rare for a baby to take to riding in a trailer the first time so we really think we are lucky. She looks quite comfortable back there rolling along, playing with a toy or drinking a bottle of water. Of course, she got a helmet, too, and she likes it so much that she just wants to wear it around the house sometimes. Average usually commutes to work by bicycle, but I have only been on my bike a few times since I was pregnant. These first rides as a family felt so good I can't wait to do it again! The fresh air, the increased heart rate, and the feeling of having DONE something physical are so refreshing after spending so much time inside and in my car over the last few months.

    Traveling by bicycle is healthy for you because you're getting exercise. You save money by not buying gas. Finally, you get to take routes that cars can't, saving time on some trips, depending on where you live. Read more about specifics of the benefits of traveling by bike at BicycleUniverse.

    We are so pleased to now have the option to travel in a healthier manner with our baby, and have been inspired by some of our friends who do family bike commuting. Check out this awesome family, with four children and no car  -- by choice, of course!