May 31, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 8, a day late

#FlatsChallengeI ended up throwing in the towel half way into day 8. However, I made it the whole 7 days, and I felt fine conceding. I decided to put little boy back into pockets because he had a stealth-poo and took a long nap, and when he woke up, his little bits were pretty angry. I tossed my flats in and covers in the washer and I feel pretty darn proud of myself. When I was folding laundry tonight I was able to get a better grip on how many flats, wipes and covers I ended up using.


  • 5 covers, 4 Thirsties v2, size small, $6.50 from Diaper Swappers, and 1 Fab Fitted, print, $13.25. Total $39.25
  • 16 Target Flour Sack Towels, $1 each, 3 birdseye Flats, $1.80 each, 2 preemie prefolds, .80 each. Total $23
  • 1 snappi $4, 15 wipes $3 (repurposed, torn blankets, and baby washcloths). Homer camp style Wash Bucket, $7. Total $14

So for $76.25, I was able to cloth diaper my baby, with the right supplies, for life!

The good: Flats were surprisingly easy! Folding was not as complicated or time consuming as I assumed. We had 3 leaks in 8 days, so they are very absorbent. I had no problem changing a diaper at 6am while half asleep with a wiggly baby. Being a geographically single mom with 4 other kids did not complicate it. My flats are SO forgiving, they are still beautiful white, soft, and smell like cotton. One of my covers got a little stained, but nothing that will effect wear. I love how trim they are, and how small they will fold into my suitcase when we travel. Line drying was so simple, and even on an overcast cool slightly breezy day, clothesline flats and covers dried much faster than inside hung diapers. Overnight is the perfect amount of time for indoor drying.

The bad: I will not lie, hand washing was hard. It was time consuming, tiring, and I really missed my washer and dryer at the end. In a real life situation I would probably have a larger quantity of diapers, and covers on hand. I would probably also try to borrow a washer a few times a week. I also would use a better plunger, my wood handled plunger ended up flaking paint onto my diapers. I also was not impressed on how much water it took to get my diapers clean.

The ugly: My hands are pretty calloused, my shoulders hurt the first part of the week, and my nerves were shot at the end by trying to wash quickly while the baby was napping, or folding flats off the line one handed with baby in arms. Liam was less than patient at times, and there were washes where I would get the baby calmed, run, agitate two minutes, comfort a baby again, plunge some more.

What I would do/do different: Like I said, I better handle for a plunger was necessary. My adjustable shower head that can adjust to a single jet was a lifesaver. A wet pail where it could not pose a drowning risk was so helpful. Hangers and clothespins to hang diapers from worked out so well. Line drying even when chilly and overcast pays off. A sense of humor was mandatory, as well as a healthy dose of determination. Splashing was almost guaranteed, wearing pajamas that I was going to change out of with pants rolled up worked well. I may have looked for a faster drying cover, I look forward to an Econobum coming in the mail, I hear they dry well. NEVER underestimate the power of the sun, instant whitener and stain lifter!

The best thing about this challenge was my confidence in myself, the amazing sense of community I gained, and the information gathered that I could not help but tell everyone about! In the forums, I repeatedly told people to try flats and come look at my blog. In Target, I stopped a young couple who were cloth diapering their baby and struggling with the start up cost and gave them a primer on flat use. And to my mom, who was probably ready for me to shut up already on cloth diapers in general.

What I am going to do next: Because I know I have all these new flats that I enjoy using, I am going to start de-stashing. I already got rid of quite a few older diapers. Next going will be newborn diapers split between 2 families, and then all my girly diapers to a friend north of me. After that? Who knows. Maybe I will find a family to sponsor with a primer guide as well as a half dozen flats and a cover?

Thank you Kim, at Dirty Diaper Laundry for taking us with you on what you described as Diaper Boot Camp. I feel like a much stronger warrior now, and I will continue to fight for the cause; for healthy bottoms, healthy budgets, and a healthy planet!



May 29, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 7

#FlatsChallengeAfter yesterday's sunshine, and today's prediction that it would be even more sunny and hot, I decided I would wet pail (just as it sounds, you are storing dirty diapers in a pail full of water) my diapers until I could wash them this morning. Either the wet pail worked, or my mom-nesia blocked out a lack of BMs yesterday, because he only had a couple spots that needed hand scrubbing.

My one issue with hand washing is the incredible amount of water usage. I am not the most water conservative person, but I felt like I was using up a lot more water than I wanted to be. So I used the water from my shower to wet pail. When I was cleaning my hair, I let the soapy water drain over my diapers. I let them soak in that. And while I was showering this morning I used that time to rinse my diapers. Then while I was shaving, I let the water fill up the bucket with a small scoop of tide and then when I was all clean I agitated them, rinsed them, wrung them out and hung them to dry, hoping that the ominous black clouds decide not to dump until after my diapers are dry and off the line.



Today is officially the last day, but I am thinking I am going to extend until tomorrow, but machine wash on Tuesday, unless we run out of covers. I will also be able to use Tuesday to sum up my experience and share what I learned. Kim, the founder of the project, gave us the option to stop tonight at midnight, or to stop the 30th at midnight.

*Edited to add pictures*
I went outside to check the progress of my flats and got these pictures of my dog Isis playing under my clothes line. My camera has a super fast shutter speed and she still managed to look like a blur, she was really zooming and having a great time! Unfortunatly, my diapers are still pretty damp, and it isn't very warm out right now, 59 degrees with an occasional breeze of 8mph, but we only have a 10% chance of rain until sunset, so just the wind alone I am hoping will dry them.

*Edited once again to add this:

It is amazing how quickly you can go from laid back to emergency. When I woke up, Liam had 1 dirty diaper in the wet pail from his night time diaper. I changed him, washed him, and put a clean diaper on him. I changed him twice more, one cover was saturated and the other one contained a poop of epic proportion. He some moisture wicked onto his clothing, but the poop mess was 100% contained in his cover. So now he has one clean cover, two dirty covers in the wet pail and so he had two clean ones, right? Problem is, *both* were missing. I called "all hands on deck" to get my helpers rounded up and one clean cover was found, someone put it on the stuffed bunny. The second one was nowhere to be found. I finally located it, 15 year old had put it in the diaper pail, not the orange wet pail I told him to. And when I asked him twice if he had moved it into the appropriate pail, he claimed he had. So I quickly washed the three covers, wrapped them in a dry towel and walked all over it to get them as dry as I could. Two got hung in my bathroom, one joined the other still wet cover outside on the line. The baby is in his last clean cover and I am changing him frequently so it stays as dry as possible. I would like to avoid having to go cover-free if at all possible. Sorry for any typos, I have a 5 month old guest blogger today who keeps trying to mess with my laptop.




May 28, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 6

#FlatsChallenge
Glorious sunshine, and nary a wet diaper to hang! It looks like today is the coolest day of the long weekend, and the next two weeks will be nice and toasty, so I will wash my covers tonight as to not repeat the procrastination damp cover mistake from yesterday, but wash my flats in the morning so they can be sunning. We had a minor leak today, even with a doubled up diaper, but it was following a nursing marathon and a long nap.

The nicest thing about this challenge is the tips I have gained from the community of other bloggers participating in this experiment, just click on any of the links below and visit any of these extraordinary bloggers. Make sure you comment and tell them how awesome they doing.



Cotton Bottom Mama hung her diapers with clothes pins on hangers and then hung her diapers in a nice neat row on her shower. What a great tip! No more diapers hanging from every single surface of my bathroom!!

Another tip I read was to beat up your diapers against furniture to soften them up! This works so well, my diapers are no longer stiff, and the helpers were eager to lend a hand. I have to say, I have the cutest help ever! I was worried how well I would be able to juggle 5 kids, flats, and hand washing, especially without my husband's help (he's in Afghanistan), but it has been a lot easier than I imagined. I do want to say sorry to my husband, there were a few times when we were Skyping that he would run off to go shower, and I would run off to churn diapers and he would be back and dressed, and I had left him waiting. Sorry honey!



May 27, 2011

Down and down it goes

Back in 2004, before the housing market went all topsy-turvy, we purchased our first home with a VA Home Loan, the process itself was easy and pretty fast and I would do it again, in fact I house hunt weekly and drool over where we *could* live. Problem is, the value of my house has dipped so much, I can't even do a FHA Streamline Refinance. However, I view this as a blessing. It means we can't jump into a new home without taking the proper steps first. That means 20% down, and a 15 year mortgage with payments plus insurance being no more than 25% of our take home pay. Until then, we will be happy renters and be thankful we found a house that we can fit into, with a good school district, GREAT neighbors, and allowed us to keep our pets. So, if we can't sell our house in Colorado, and we can't but a house in Washington in a while, I guess it's not all bad. We will call it a 5 year plan.

Flats Challenge: Day 5

#FlatsChallengeToday I ran into my front snag. Liam fell asleep in my arms while I was talking with a neighbor after taking Matt to the bus stop. Since he rarely does this, I figured I would ray him in his crib and get some nice baby free time. He rarely naps out of my arms, so it was awesome when I was able to lay him down and get some chores done. Unfortunately I forgot to change him before the trip to the bus stop. I also forgot that I was testing a single flat in a pad fold. I also had him in a larger cover that I normally use for night time, so it was not as snug. When he woke up he had this first leak. Not bad I guess considering it was probably the 40th flat. I blame this on user error, not diaper failure.

Last night, it looked like we might be clearing up, so I decided not to wash diapers and to wash and hang them in the morning, so I can sun them in the afternoon and dry them in a couple hours vs. overnight, and naturally bleach them. Mistake #2. I KNEW the forecast wasn't calling for sun this week. I had one clean cover left, and he had already had a big poop earlier, I would be fine. I washed and hung his diapers and I noticed him turning red. I guess the poop earlier was just a warm up, and this was the main attraction. I cleaned him, got him nice and doubled up, went to grab a cover and none was to be found! I looked on the rack and four were hanging and I just put the 5th into my soapy bucket so I could wash it too. So if I really was without a washer and dryer, today I think I would have run screaming to the laundromat or to a friends house. Since this was an emergency, I decided to think of a way to rapidly dry the diaper that the average family home and the only thing I could think of was the hair dryer. I may have been cheating, but while the baby happily chewing on his feet in a diaper sans cover, I was washing the newly pooped in diaper and had the hair dryer angled to blow on the dryest of my 4 covers. It got done just in time too, after he nursed, Liam was exhausted and went to bed.

Overall though, I still wish I had known about flats when I was a new mama. My hubby had just joined the Army and we were struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. I remember letting him wear his diapers an extra hour or so because I knew how expensive they were. I remember counting change and hoping we could scrape together enough for a small bag of generics because we were a few days from payday. Even if I had cloth diapered part time, it would have really stretched our budget. However, in 1997, I didn't know anything about cloth back then outside of the diapers my mother used one me. Even back then, I would have had options outside of the rubber pants my mom used on me. That is a picture of my mom and I in 1980. I was 15 months old.



May 26, 2011

Flats Challenge: Days 3 and 4

#FlatsChallengeI didn't have time to write an update for yesterday, and really I didn't have much to say. I have been trying a new fold each day, yesterday I did the pad fold, which would be awesome for mamas used to pockets (you could use this fold to stuff a pocket) or to use with the hybrid cover, like a Flip, where flaps are sewn into the front and back of the cover to hold the flap in place. I fold all my diapers into the pad fold when I put them away on my changing table because they fit so nicely in the bin on my table. I stack them standing up on their hem and they look so pretty and clean lined up. I absolutely LOVE my changing table, I made it myself out of items I could re-purpose when I no longer need it. The entire thing was from items purchased at Target, and except for the shelf, the bins and pad are things I would have to buy for the table anyways (maybe not as many bins) but I have twice the storage at half the price and this thing is STURDY.





It rained all day yesterday, and I knew it would because we are not supposed to have sun until Saturday according to the forecast, so I decided to start a cold soak in my camp washer when the boy was laid down, and when he was asleep I quickly did a wash and hung in my bathroom to dry. With the exception of my wipes, by morning everything was dry. To soften the flats up a bit I beat them against my bed before pad folding them and putting them away.

Today I am focusing on the diaper bag fold. Super simple and I can fold them ahead of time and stack them on my changing table and just toss on my babe and go. Changing with flats gets fast now that I am used to it. I also have started trusting the flats more and am no longer needing doublers. Little man's diapers are so trim he's back in 0-3 month pants that never fit over his butt and onsies, which I have ALWAYS hated with cloth diapers because they tend to slide into the leg gussets and wick moisture.

It is overcast, but bright and windy today, the PERFECT day for a line dry, and of course I have barely any diapers to wash! I never thought I would be sad I didn't have enough dirty diapers. I did get some night time trainers for The Princess though, so I at least got to wash those, although I used my machine for that. I have noticed that I cannot get my flats quite as while as the wash machine does. The diapers all come really clean, but I did have some staining on one particularly dirty diaper. However, I am really shocked how clean they get hand-washing, my expectations is that they would all be stained when I hung them up to dry and it just is not the case, they all come beautifully white with just a little Tide and hot water. My routine is: cold soak in the bucket, swirl, and go find something to do. Come back, drain, rinse diapers. Add hot water and 1T of Tide to the bucket. Add diapers. Agitate for a few minutes. Soak some more. Come back, agitate some more, drain and rinse diapers and bucket with shower head. Add more hot water, put the diapers back the in and agitate with my hands. Then I ring them out, shake them good, and hang to dry. For covers, I roll them in a dry clean towel, and then hang to dry.



May 24, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 2

#FlatsChallenge

Today was diaper washing day! Using my bucket from Home Depot with a hole poked in the lid, the plunger (with holes drilled into the rubber) I was able to churn my diapers like butter. First in cold water without soap for a couple minutes to rinse them. Then with super hot water with a tablespoon of powdered Tide for 4-5 minutes, then I rinsed the diapers and bucket and ran some more hot water in the bucket, churned for another minute to get out all the soap. Drained, rung out and hung them outside on the line to dry. I did take breaks between these steps as I was trying to get my kindergartener ready for school. He also churned it a few minutes for me. Washing took maybe 10-15 minutes, hanging took a little longer, but maybe another 10-15 minutes. While I was busy washing, Liam was busy making more work for me, because after I changed him and washed the diaper he was in and was hanging my clean diapers, he made me a dirty diaper. I ended up washing a 2nd load because it was so gross I didn't want it sitting there until my next wash day.



Aren't they lovely?!

***

Yesterday I said I would upload a tutorial on folding a flat. There are many different ways, some easier than others, My favorite is the "origami" fold. I was a little intimidated at first, but what I love about is that you can roll in a preemie prefold, or another flat. All the material is concentrated in the middle of the diaper, so it is trim without much material on the hips. My boy is a heavy wetter, so I will be showing you how to add a soaker, or this could be a night time diaper.


You will need, two flats, a snappi, a waterpoof cover. The flats are folded into squares, you can see the size difference between the Target Flour Sack Towel (bottom) and the birdseye flats The cover is a Thirsties Duo, size 2, in Cool Stripes on the smallest setting.


I have folded the smaller flat into 3rds without unfolding it from the square I had it folded in. Set the soaker aside.



On your primary diaper, locate the part of your square that has four finished edges. Grab the top of the four edges as shown and pull it straight across to the left.



Keep pulling.



See how a triangle appears? Smooth this out and here is where I got lost the first time. Grab your two bottom corners closest to you and you are going to flip the diaper upside down. The long edge will now be facing away from you, and the triangle will be under your new shape.



The square shape on the right, that is your soaker layer.



Lay the diaper you set aside on the right edge and start folding the diaper around it.



You will start seeing your triangle again as you fold your soaker layers towards the center.



When you are done, your diaper will look like this. Lay the baby down on the diaper.



The bottom of the triangle will go between baby's legs. Hold the front of the diaper and grab one of the wings and lay it across the front of the diaper.



If you want to get fancy, you can roll the wing edges inwards towards the baby's bum. They will act sort of like "poop barriers" to keep any messes in the diaper, not on your cover, as well as keep the diaper trim.



You can either tuck the wings under the front of the diaper and put a cover on now, or if you want a more secure fit you can use a snappi.



To put a snappi on bite one set of teeth into one of the wings, then stretch it and bite it into the diaper over the other side of the baby, finally, stretch the shortest piece downward and bite into the front of the diaper.



Slide the cover over the baby and secure, make sure you check around the legs to make sure there are no gaps, or no pieces of diaper sticking out. Poke those pieces in, or tighten the diaper if you need.

Here is a video I found on youtube that showed me how to fold a flat with the origami fold.



Super easy!




May 23, 2011

Flats Challenge: Day 1

#FlatsChallenge A few weeks ago I heard about the Flats Challenge, over at Dirty Diaper Laundry. The general gist of this, is for one week we are to use flats, which are a single layer of material, usually cotton, limiting ourselves to only 5 covers, and then hand washing and air drying these diapers for one week. The point of this challenge is to prove on a small budget, you can cloth diaper. I will break down some prices:

For the diapers, my ideal flat stash would include:
1 dozen size large birdseye flats from Green Mountain Diaper (GMD) - $27.
1 dozen small birdseye flats from GMD - $25
1 dozen Target Flour Sack towels in the kitchen towel section, (I have 20) and they are 4/$4, so a dozen would be $12.
I would also splurge on a dozen preemie prefolds from Little Lions, $10. They help you get through the skinny chicken leg stage and work great to make a flat extra absorbent for overnight.

Total for diapers: $74, however, you can get away with only half these, either the Target Flats and newborn prefolds ($22), or newborn prefolds and small flats ($35).

Next, you would need a few covers, 5 size 1 and 5 size 2. I love Thirsties Duos, because the size 1 really does fit from birth until 16/18 lbs. Again, you only need half in the beginning.
5 size 1 @ 12.25ea - $61.25
5 size 2 @ 12.25ea - $61.25

Total for covers: $122.50


For baby wipes, you can either get cheapie washcloths for about $6 for a dozen and it looks like $6 at the dollar store would get you 24, or if you have rags or old receiving blankets you can rip those up for free. I also would get a triple pack of snappi's for $8.

Total cost of accessories: $14

Finally, the diaper washer. I found a tutorial here for a camp washer. After taxes, I paid $17 for the bucket and lid, plunger, and drill bits. Borrow a drill with a 1" and 1/4" bit, and your total would be closer to $8. Use it to store dirty diapers and then on wash day just add hot water and detergent, agitate, rinse and hang to dry.

Total cost of "washer" & pail: $7

So for $217.50 you could comfortably diaper your baby for life. Only $104.25 would be needed when the baby is born. And really, if the flour sack kitchen towels work out well for you (they are fine for us) you could even get away with spending $28 less on diapers. If you figure your baby is in diapers to age 2 1/2, the breakdown is about $6.32 - $7.25 a month! Compare that to the the $2671 Babyworks estimates you will spend the first 2 1/2 years on Huggies. Can you think of a better use for $2,450? Would an extra $74.50 come in handy each month? This doesn't even take into consideration for baby wipes, or if your baby doesn't potty learn at 2 1/2. What if they wet the bed? I know many children who use disposable training pants long after they turn 4.

Today I started day one, and it is a lot easier than I anticipated. I have not had to wash any diapers, but tomorrow it will be in the mid 60's and sun is predicted, so I might do a small load in my camp washer just to get them out on the clothesline. The rest of the week I will probably be hanging them over shower rods overnight to dry. I took pictures today, and hopefully tomorrow I can set some of those up here to share with you.



Cloth Diaper Primer: An introduction to today's modern diapers

Okay, I am going to geek out on you guys here so bear with me. Six years ago, I set out on a quest to cloth diaper my kiddos after a girl in a pregnancy forum mentioned Fuzzi Bunz and I started looking into the modern cloth diaper. Fuzzi Bunz are a type of diaper called a "pocket diaper". Rubber pants are a thing of the past and now most cloth diapers can be sorted into four categories:


  • AIO, or All in One
  • Pockets
  • Covers
  • Hybrid or All in Two


Let me go deeper into the difference. All the diapers mentioned above are just the main part of the diaper, and what make them waterproof. I will explain to you the difference between each one and discuss the pros, and cons.

All in One
The simplest of all cloth diapers to put on the baby and to prepare, these diapers are often called dad/babysitter/daycare friendly. This is because they truly are wash & go. These diapers have improved in the last five years and now are easier for to get cleaner in the wash and dry faster than the older AIO choices. Most now have an absorbent pad that either lays on top of the diaper, agitates out on the wash, or many other creative solutions. The older style had the absorbent layers sewn in, without any way to add extra layers for long car trips, sleep, or a heavy wetter. They also did not dry as fast, or get as clean. Manufacturers are listening and have come up with some wonderful creative solutions to solve the problems the older all-in-one diapers had. At $18-27 per diaper, AIOs tend to be the most expensive cloth solution.

Pockets
Also dad/babysitter/grandparent friendly are pocket diapers. That is because with a little more prep work than the AIO, the diaper can simply be snapped or hooked on with aplix or touchtape (think velcro-like). These diapers are what they sound like, a pocket. The layer closest to the baby is usually made up of suedecloth, fleece, or other stay dry material, like the outer layer is made of polyurethane laminate (PUL). The difference between a AIO and pocket, is that the pocket diaper alone has no absorbent properties. The second step to these diapers is then to stuff them with an insert, or a long, thin pad that pulls the moisture away from the baby and holds it until the baby is changed. Some of these inserts are made of microterry, hemp, cotton, or other similar material. Pocket diapers usually include some sort of insert, but many moms will chose to buy more to either add absorbancy, or upgrade the quality of washability/antimicrobial properties. The disadvantage of this diaper is that the opposite of stuffing, is unstuffing; the peed/pooped on insert must (usually) be removed from the diaper before they are washed. Some diapers have openings on both sides of the diaper, allowing the insert to agitate out in the wash. Depending on the quality of diaper, and if you chose to upgrade inserts, pocket diapers can run between $10-24.

Covers
Covers are the most economical and most versatile diaper of the three, however, it also has steepest learning curve of the three. Covers can be made of PUL, wool, or fleece. They can either enclose with snaps, hook & loop, or pull on. However, they cannot be used alone. The diaper must have something underneath it to catch the mess, these can include fitteds, which are made of bamboo, cotton, hemp, and snap or hook and loop onto the baby, with the cover then placed over the top. Another option is to use a prefold diaper, either hooked together with pins, or a Snappi (T shaped stretchy object, with small hooks that grip to the diaper and hold it closed), or folded and laid flat into the cover. The cheapest option is to use flats, or a large single layer of material, folded in various styles to improve absorbancy, and like the prefold, then laid into a cover, or closed with pins or a Snappi. The other advantage to a cover, is that they can be used for multiple changes, as long as the diaper is changed and the cover is not soiled. Some can be wiped dry, or like wool, can be worn many times before washing. If you use wool or fleece, the other advantage is breathability.

  • Covers or wraps are usually made of PUL are the most common of the types of covers, the easiest to find commercially, and can be wiped out with a cloth wipe and re-used, unless soiled. PUL covers usually run around $10-18.
  • Fleece either comes with pull on options, or fasten on like PUL covers. They can also be sewn as pants, shorts, or skirts. Like PUL covers, there is no need to wash these after a single use, they can be hung to dry an used until the end of the day, until soiled, or until stinky. Fleece also breathes better than PUL, and if you can sew can be made for the cost of materials. However, very few commercial manufacturers make fleece covers, so to get fleece your best option is etsy, or Hyenacart. Prices run from around $7-18.
  • Wool covers are probably the most expensive of the three options to buy, but if you want to avoid man made products, wool is the very best choice. Like fleece, wool can come in covers that pull on, or wraps that button, and can come in pants, shorts, covers, or skirts. If you can knit, crochet, or know how to upcycle sweaters, wool can be inexpensive, however commercially made wool diapers can run from $30-90, and SAHM made can run from $10-50+. Wool also needs to be prepped once every 1-2 weeks by soaking in a solution of lanolin, baby shampoo, and water, and then laid flat to air dry. Wool must be hand washed, but with its antimicrobial properties does not need to be washed often and does not immediately get stinky.


Hybrid or All in Two
Similar to PUL wraps, hybrids are simply put a cloth/disposable option. Instead of putting a cloth diaper/insert into the hybrid (or just occasionally) hybrids can house a disposable option. A eco friendly soaker, that will either break down in a landfill, compost, or flush (depending on the manufacturer's instructions) is placed into the cover, and when it is wet or soiled it is disposed of and a new disposable insert is put in. Some parents prefer this option when traveling, or when at daycare, and then use prefolds or inserts in them when not on the go. The advantage of this type of system is you are not carrying waste with you when you travel, the disadvantage is that even after the initial investment, the cost can keep accumulating. The cost is around $14-18 for the cover only, and disposable inserts run between $5-10 for 20.

Up front, diapers may seem like a big investment, but they will pay for themselves before the baby is born, even when you use the most expensive diapers. According to Diaper Decisions the cost of cloth is between 6 and 23 cents per diaper change, including the cost of washing. Where the cost of disposables is about 36 cents per diaper for the most common brand. That doesn't even count the extra washes of clothing from blowouts. 30 to 13 cents may not seem like a lot, until you figure that if your child potty trains at 2 1/2, you will have changed 7200. At a minimum, you are saving between $1,000 to $2,200, now imagine how much more you would save if you re-used those same diapers on another child, or sold them when you were done to recoup between 50-75% of your original purchase price.

Swag in the bag

When I was a kid, we frequented a lot of home and garden shows, or attended the displays at the state fair. I didn't really care for the rides at the fair, my two favorite things were the livestock (I loved the cows, llamas, and sheep) and the home & garden areas. Not because I was planning my future home or anything, but because I adore swag. I loved the pens and pencils displaying whatever window company, or the personalized notepads with the name of the fencing company. My dad let me put the stickers on his file cabinet, and I would joyfully color the coloring pages advertising hot tubs, or landscaping companies. My mom still has my tiny promo mugs from A&W that are my kids' favorite for tea parties or treats when they visit grandma. It is easy to see why I would enjoy browsing GOPromos promotional items, I bet my professional friends could find some pretty neat personalized items to hand out as swag at their next child & baby fair!

May 21, 2011

In the last 3 weeks

I have been so very busy. On May 7th, the day before Mother's Day, I declared I was going to proclaim today as my mother's day. My oldest son presented me with a card he bought and he and all his siblings filled out. He traced Sophie and Liam's hand on it. He also had gone to three different different store looking for a specific candy I like without luck, and settled on three of my favorite candy bars. Our sweet neighbor gave him a pretty gift box. Matthew planted me a plant in a flower pot he decorated, and made me a card. My husband told me if I didn't go buy myself a Keurig, he would buy one for me, spend a lot more, and have to mail it to me.

I was also feeling sentimental, so I sent Austin's birth mom a text message thanking her for allowing me to be his mommy. She called me right back and we talked for about 30 minutes. It was nice to hear that she had no regrets, I have always worried she consented to the adoption out of desperation, and not because she truly wanted the best for him.

On Sunday, Austin turned 15. This is why I did Mother's Day early. I knew he would make a fuss about it, and I didn't want anything to distract him from his birthday. The little stinker still did, he made me breakfast in bed, and made eggs and bacon for the little ones. For his birthday dinner, he wanted me to make him BBQ Ribs on the grill. I also made corn bread and green beans. It was delicious. He played with his friends most of the day, he literally came home when the street lights came on. It was glorious. Our gift was delivered on Monday, a trampoline! The "t" was partially obscured on the package, so now the kids call it "the rampoline".

For three days Austin and I built the rampoline together. Christopher helped keep the little three busy. I may or may not have taught Austin some new words as we stretched springs, and pulled safety nets tight. On the first day, I took a break for dinner, and just when I was about to put the last 5 of 8 safety net poles up, I asked Austin "do you smell something chemically??" He looked downstairs, and I looked in my bathroom, and I do believe my head exploded. That is a full bottle of deep purple nail polish, and some bare minerals face powder. I scrubbed on that thing for probably 6 hours (I was up until 3am) and I managed to lighten it to a lilac color, but it didn't come out. I will need to replace the carpet in my bathroom. Right now it is half vinyl, half carpet, and I am hoping our landlord will let us rip out all the flooring in the bathroom and replace it with coordinating vinyl.
Liam is growing so fast, too fast. His new name is Mr. Grabbyhands. He has learned how to play with the toys on his bouncer to activate music. He has also learned how to make mama yelp in pain by grabbing onto a huge handful of hair and yanking really hard. He also can roll from his belly to his back, and most recently his back to his belly.

May 2, 2011

A day for receiving

What a joyful day! While our nation collectively celebrated, I had a ton of mini triumphs. I met a woman on Craig's List last week who was buying diapers, I had some I had bought, picked out a few and decided to pay them forward along with a couple dozen other cloth diapers I either decided not to use or that Liam outgrew. I refused payment for them, so she thanked me by making these really amazing carrot cupcakes. They were fantastic!

After her visit, my MacBook died mid sentence again. The battery was almost fully charged, and it wasn't just sleeping, it just shut off for no reason at all. One call to AppleCare and it was decided I would drive to the closest Apple Store, 40 minutes away, and they would take a look at it. My battery was swapped out, the inside was cleaned and I was sent home. I am letting it drain the battery after a full charge and it is down to 85%, dipped into sleep a few times, and seems to be working better than ever.

My third victory is that my maintenance guy stopped by this evening to install my new water heater. I had been having a leaking issue for months now and a couple weeks ago I decided to get to the bottom of it. A quick release of the pressure release valve convinced me the water was from the tank. Maintenance replaced the PRV, and my back patio was still suffering from Chinese water torture. He suggested that maybe my 23 year old water heater was dying, but we would need to wait for approval for it to get fixed, etc. New one is in and I have hot water. However I didn't know that when you replaced the water tank, the pipes would drain, and water would need to be pushed out. If you want to simultaneously convince the toddler, baby, and cats that the Apocalypses is here, run air through pipes. My daughter ran to her room screaming, the cats had to be peeled off the ceiling, and the baby's eyes about popped out of his head and he screamed bloody murder.

Cherry on top was Skyping with my husband. I love him.